Monday, February 25, 2013

Yoga for Moving Beyond Fear


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By Kimaya Singh

Fear is an all encompassing emotion and it goes by different names, all of which define the deep state of anxiety about something that has yet to happen. Everyone has fear, uncertainty, panic, and anxiety. Much of society suffers from phobias, panic attacks, life altering events, and extreme anxiety. Therapy, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety drugs are often given to combat these feelings of fear.

The main concept of therapy is to teach people how to face these fears that seem to overwhelm them. Once the objective is achieved living a happier and more meaningful life is much easier. There are other alternatives to overcoming these fears. Some people are turning to Yoga training sessions to move beyond debilitating fear. Yogic methods allow the individual to focus on the inside. Fear is often a conditioned response; lessons learned in life from past experiences or things individuals were taught to fear.




Pranayama practice is the art of yogic breathing. This is a popular yoga technique that works well for reducing panic and anxiety attacks. One common symptom of a panic attack is shallow breaths that happen in the chest, this is an indication that the body has taken a fight or flight response to fear. A yoga breathing regimen is required, to slow the breathing down to a deeper and relaxed state.

A Medical Adjunct

Some states of fear are so deep that medical and professional counseling should be sought first. Yoga can help, but it can be most effective as an adjunct therapy. Although yogic methods differ in approach, they can easily be integrated into any form of therapy.

Yogic methodology teaches us to embrace the fear with practice and a trained mind. Embracing the fear is an important step in the process. When attention is brought to the fear, and the flight response is not active, the fear loses power. It becomes a learning process and an opportunity for self-growth.




Yoga training teaches us to ground ourselves to the earth and helps us stay focused on the now. Taking walks, diverting the mind, and connecting the feet to the earth can reduce anxiety. As a form of anxiety prevention, flowing asanas can also change our mindset.

Possible Preventative Methods 
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Opening the eyes and looking around at nature can be surprisingly helpful. Simple things like a bird, squirrel or butterfly can bring one's state of mind out of fear and back to the present reality. A simple distraction from the flight impulse is often enough to snap someone back to reality.

Connect with the inner child, who accepts situations. Watch a comedy and have a belly laugh. Through these holistic methods, one can start to recondition one’s self and move beyond fear. 




© Copyright 2016 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Yogic Self-Observation Without Judgment


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By Faye Martins

One of the greatest aspects of yogic science is the practice of self-observation without judgment. On the surface this phrase seems self-explanatory. Like most aspects of yoga training there is more to it than meets the eye.

Everyone has an inner critic. This critic is the voice in our heads, which frequently makes observations about the worst aspects of our lives and personalities. This voice harangues us during our failures, and diminishes our triumphs.

While most people can tune this voice out to a degree, this is not always necessarily the best course to take. If we can transform this inner voice into a constructive or positive resource, and it can be useful in guiding us along the road to a happier existence.




Yogic philosophy teaches us that all things are possible through reason. Even taming the inner critic that dwells with in us all is possible with discipline. The first step toward self-observation without judgment is that of understanding the critical voice within.

Fear is the major cause of negativity. When we are unsure we lash out blindly. So too our inner critic represents our consciousness making an attempt to deal with some aspect of our life that is causing us fear and anxiety.

Apply yogic methodology to the voice of your inner critic. Confront the fear in its voice with logic. Rather than letting a troubling thought cause you to panic, breathe. Just as we use yoga to deal with external problems, yoga can handle internal troubles as well.




We all want to improve. Often we start listening to the voice of our inner critic because we know that negative motivation can be successful in the short term. Even while it damages our spirit, harsh criticism can produce some results.

How much better would it be though if that inner voice simply reported information to us in an accurate and unbiased way? Imagine a voice that encourages and never harangues. The potential benefits that this kind of guide could provide are obvious.

Yoga is a system of self-improvement both on the exterior of the body as well and within the mind. In the modern age, we often leave behind the internal benefits of yoga in an obsession with surface level details and physical appearance. This is not to say that benefiting the exterior does not help the interior; but with slightly more emphasis on the spirit, the results can be even more remarkable.




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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yoga for Children - Precautions for Parents


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By Sangeetha Saran

Yoga can be a fantastic way to stimulate your child's body and mind. Learning patience and a sense of calm at an early age is an invaluable learning tool. In addition, it will get them started early on their way to being a healthy, vibrant person. There is no denying the benefits of yoga training for children. However, as they do not yet possess the skills of an adult there are some challenges that come along with it. This vigilance on the part of instructors and parents, will allow the child to enjoy the experience, and benefit from it. It will also keep him or her from being overwhelmed by it.

One of the most important aspects of this caution is to make sure the children are learning and practicing yoga in a positive environment. They are just becoming aware of how their bodies work, and this can lead to knowing when something is too much or too little. They must feel like it is fine to come out of an uncomfortable asana and not feel negatively about it. Allowing them the freedom (empowerment) to learn at their own pace is an important aspect of making yoga a fun activity. We all know that making games and exercise fun is a great thing to accomplish with children.

The instructor plays a vital role in keeping the children entertained and giving them the experience they need to fully take advantage of yogic practices. Attention spans are often short at a young age, and the younger the children, the more the class structure needs to focus on keeping things fresh and entertaining. As the children move up in age they need to be given more accomplished tasks to complete, in order to keep them interested and achieving. The importance of focusing the class on task for an age specific range is reliant upon a certified kids yoga instructor, which makes the teacher's role a vital part of the learning process.

Last but not least, remember that there is a physical risk to vigorous exercise. Yoga isn't a high impact activity, but it still poses some form of physical risk. Kids need to be taught in a responsible and safe environment. The only way to assure this is to make sure you observe the class and verify the credentials of those in charge of it. Confirm that safety is being taught and reviewed on a regular basis, and make sure you're familiar with the terminology of yoga. This might even lead to you enjoying yogic exercise with your child!

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Yoga Postures for Anxiety


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By Rachel Holmes

I realize that many of our readers are certified yoga teachers with decades of experience and knowledge. The following information may be of more use as a handout for your students. Please feel free to share the following information with your students. I will point out three simple asanas that can be practiced for an anxiety flare up or a full blown attack. There are many additional asanas, mantras and pranayama techniques, but here are three easy asanas for your students to choose from.  

Yoga is an exceptional way to reduce stress, remove anxiety from your body and just to relax, while living a better, more comfortable life. Sometimes, when everything seems to be going the other way and there is so much to worry about, you can't help but become anxious. This is exactly why it is so important to take up yoga. With just a few, simple asanas, you are able to reduce the level of anxiety you feel and you will be that much better when you're all done. 





Pose of a Child

The pose of a child is one of the easiest asanas to do for a person new to asana practice, yet it helps stretch out the back and chest, while it brings a feeling of inner calm to your body and mind. To perform this asana, you rest on your knees with your toes pointing to the back wall. You place your head to the floor and stretch out with your arms toward the forward wall. You don't have to to stretch your arms out as far as you can, as this is just designed to be a comfortable restoring pose and helps relieve some of the stress from your back, chest, and shoulders.

Standing Forward Bend

When you are holding the forward bending asana, you stand with your feet fairly close or touching and your knees slightly bent. You then lean forward and gradually reach your hands down as far as you reasonably can, without pain. If you have problems with flexibility, or are just starting off, it is alright if you can't reach the floor. If you must place your hands around your knees this is perfectly fine. Eventually, with practice, you'll be able to place your hands further without any strain. This asana stretches out the lower back, makes you feel great, and does wonders for your spine.




Legs Up the Wall

Legs up the wall, like the two above-mentioned postures, is relatively easy to do. Once you've learned exactly how to do them correctly in a yoga school, you won't need an instructor to perform the moves at home. Put yourself in a supine position. with your back on the floor and your legs and thighs against the wall. Straighten your back as much as you can and stretch your legs up the wall as far as you can without forcing. This is good for your back, thighs and abdominal muscles. You should be able to feel the stress just start to melt away while you relax in this restorative asana.

These are just three easy yoga postures that should help reduce your overall anxiety levels. You don't have to spend hours a doing this, but if you want to perform the routine before work, you'll feel that much better. 




Side Note For Students

The guidance of proper yoga training with a certified teacher is needed to build a foundational home practice. Additionally, students should be honest with themselves about practicing methods, commitment, and time devoted to the practice. Some students never practice at home. This is fine, but you should attend a few classes per week at your local yoga school. Regular practice will yield the best results.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Yoga Exercises for Posture


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By Kimaya Singh

Many people ask, "how can I improve my posture?" Having good posture has a variety of benefits, some social and others having to do with health. Our posture affects the way we breathe, think and feel. Bad posture can make people ill and even take years off of their lives.

People are sometimes willing to go to great extremes to achieve good posture. Walking around with books or glasses of water on your head is neither necessary nor useful. The human body actually wants good posture; the trick is listening to it.

One way to improve posture is through practicing yoga. Yoga stretches and shapes each region of the body strengthening muscles, bones and joints. Lifelong yoga practitioners display perfect posture even when they are well into old age.




The mountain pose is a yoga position that is particularly good for your posture. The mountain pose helps with balance. While this is considered to be a basic pose, it prepares the body for still more complex yoga positions. The mountain pose is also known as Tadasana (or Samasthiti).

Uttanasana or the forward stretch supports good posture by stretching the spine and hamstrings. The forward stretch has a number of other benefits, including that of improving organ function. Like most yoga positions, the forward stretch prepares the body for the next position.

Most people who practice any form of yoga training know the downward facing dog position. This iconic position is also one of the yoga positions that most supports perfect posture. From head to toes, downward facing dog stretches and molds the entire body.




After downward facing dog, the next yoga position is upward facing dog. Not to be outdone by its predecessor, upward facing dog also provides powerful posture benefits. Upward facing dog is particularly good for the spine. Spinal health and strength are integral to good posture.

Expanding this basic routine to more complicated ones will continue to train the body until good posture becomes second nature. In very real sense yoga itself is good posture. Each pose brings the body to a properly postured position and holds it there. Bodies trained by yoga find it hard to have bad posture.

Yoga teaches people to understand the way their bodies work as well as their spirits and minds. Ultimately, what yoga recognizes is that the body is interconnected and interdependent. Every system in the body relies on every other system. In this way, every yoga pose is good for posture.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Yoga for Inner Peace


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By Faye Martins

We live in a chaotic world, and we blame everything from technology to our jobs and families for the stress we feel. The truth is that we decide how we will react to any given situation, and the path we choose determines the outcome. The Dalai Lama said it this way: "Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace."

While it is comforting to know we can control our feelings, the process is not a simple one. Creating inner peace is an ongoing process, much like forgiveness. It is something we do again and again. We can, however, learn to do it more easily, and Yoga can help us.



Although the practice has been around for thousands of years, Patanjali first described the eight-limbed path of classical Yoga in his "Yoga Sutras" around the 1st or 2nd century A.D. His writing outlined a path that included morals, ethics, poses, breath control, self-reflection, concentration, meditation, and bliss.

Today, these principles remain an important part of many styles of Yoga. While its practice is less comprehensive in the modern world, Yogic concepts still hold the key to finding inner peace. Around the world, Yoga schools encourage clean living as a complement to physical exercise. Emphasis, however, usually rests on three limbs -  asanas, pranayma, and meditation.

·         Asana is the Sanskrit word for “posture.”  Patanjali says we should hold poses without exceeding out physical limitations and with the intention of deepening our experience.  Poses work well with the breath to prepare us for meditation. Some practitioners get sidetracked into thinking that asana alone is Yoga, but it is only one of eight critical pieces.

·         Pranayama, the Sanskrit word for “controlled breathing,” allows us to regulate our inhalations and exhalations in order to take vital life energy, or prana, into the body. Most breathing exercises can be easily learned. Pranayama can literally change your life, but its value is often underrated.

·         Meditation usually comes at the end of a Yoga training session, but it can be practiced anywhere at any time.  Meditation makes us aware of our minds, bodies, and world around us. It also helps us to connect to something larger than ourselves. Meditation is more difficult than it appears to an outsider and it takes time to master the mind.

Although any of these techniques can help us in the search for inner peace, they are most effective when used together as part of a consistent practice of Yogic methods.



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Friday, February 08, 2013

How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Certification Program


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By Rachel Holmes

Teaching yoga is a great way to maintain your healthy body, and it also would be a great way to relieve stress by relaxing in certain body positions. Your dream may be to teach yogic methods, but you have to know how to choose a yoga teacher training course that matches your needs, and there are several to choose from. You may want to work with children, athletes, seniors, or you might want to be involved in teaching people who have ailments as a form of therapy.

Why do you want to teach?

The first step to choosing a the best yoga teacher training course for you, is to think about what you want to do or what you are good at doing. You may have always wanted to work with children and to teach them yoga at an early age may be one of your biggest passions. 




If you have been practicing all your life, you may want to share what you know to improve the lives of others. Additionally, some people train to become teachers, but never teach large classes. There are teachers who only work with small groups, family members or private clients.

Fitness or Hot Options

Some competitive minded practitioners choose a physically harder class so they can show off all their physical skills. Whether you think this is right or wrong, show offs exist and they gravitate toward physically challenging styles where they can rub elbows with other like minded teacher interns. There's always a boot camp style where you can practice asanas in an oven. Some people are attracted to a Yoga school with militaristic instructors who will surely yell at you, if you don't meet the physical standards of the training.

Level of Experience

If you have never taken a class, you definitely want to attend some local classes, read books, watch videos or observe how classes are organized. Additionally, you may want to start off with the basics, until you are better suited for concepts covered in teacher courses. Don't even think about joining any type of instructor training without previous experience as a yoga student.



Learning in a School

If you decide to become a certified yoga instructor, go to workshops and see if you can pump information out of the current yoga instructors. Let them know what you have an interest in doing and see if they can give you some advice to put towards your future. At those workshops you will meet a lot of people in the field and you may have the opportunity to be an intern at a yoga school while completing your course. Be aware that your training will not be cheap.

Expenses

Money may also be an issue that you are worried about. You can also choose an online or distance learning course that is much less expensive than studying in-person. Remember that one course is only the beginning, regardless of the style or method of learning. Teaching any subject is continuing education for life.

Having the ultimate time, money, and energy, is what is setting most of us apart from choosing the ultimate course. There are dream vacation training intensives that cost over fifteen thousand US dollars, when you're finished. Size them all up and all it takes is a little bit of knowledge about each type of yoga training that is available and meeting the right people that will give you advice on what is to come of your future. 



Conclusion

It is very important to choose the right course for you. No two people are alike and all of us have different aspirations. You could spend all kinds of money, but will you put what you learn to good use? Will teacher training provide you with life skills, income or both? Strangely, the instructors who teach private lessons seem to make the most money, which leads you to think a small boutique size operation might be wiser than a room full of bodies. 

On the other hand, there are certified yoga teachers who use the skills they learn to live a better quality life, be a better person or cope with everyday stress and that's all they wanted from their training. Therefore, the sky is the limit for the types of training or the purpose behind an intern's aspirations.

© Copyright Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Spiritual Yoga Teachings


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By Sangeetha Saran

Our relationship with what is beyond our body and mind as individuals is the essence of spirituality. It is a beautiful relationship that one can achieve with an unseen source (divine) that is the cause of life and death. To many, spirituality is a very close inner journey.

Why do some people seem more vulnerable to life's tensions than others? Among other reasons from the list, lack of adequate exercise and out of touch with spirituality play a role. In the short term, yoga embedded with spirituality can be a powerful painkiller. It has been associated with a more pronounced response to peace of mind in life.




From the perspective of a yoga teacher, spirituality is experienced by being aware of the present and applying the same state of mind deep into daily life (the minute details of being). According to Paulji: "It is a step-by-step journey to experience self-realization in the end." Once the understanding between real world and the world beyond the self is made, the knowledge attained is allowed to permeate into everyday lives.

Although there are many types of yogic methodology, Hatha yoga has been described by Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book called 'Full Catastrophe Living' as the one that includes meditation with stress reduction. This concept has spread across the rest of the world as a basis for a mindfulness-based yoga training program. Yoga means "union "in Sanskrit, which translates to a union between the mind and the body. 




In addition to stress relief, there are many other purposes for yogic methods, including loosening up the body muscles and preparing the entire system ready for postures that need to be sustained for long periods. One can access spirituality through meditation and asana practice. Formal practice of spirituality is the act of letting go of all the actions that one is consumed with and establishing oneself in a particular body posture for a long period of time for the purpose of cultivating prana and a non-judgmental awareness.

Elizabeth Gilbert in her book "Eat, Pray, Love" notes that yoga is all about mastering the self and dedicating the body and the mind to a moment where one can stop worrying about the past, present, and the future, and immerse into a place of eternal presence to regard oneself and the present surroundings with grace. By moving body through asanas, combined with the essence of spirituality, one can possess the ability to move far more than predictable at the moment.

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