Archive for April 27th, 2010

Hatha Yoga

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

By Disele Long

Hatha yoga is the most common and basic yoga practiced in the Western world. Originating in India over two thousand years ago, yoga serves to clear the mind, instill a sense of peace, awaken self awareness and help the physical body maintain strength and flexibility. The “ha” translates to sun and the “tha” translates to moon. This represents the duality of our minds and body and how all of our opposites can work together. Both the dualities of meditation and exercise are explored and enhanced through Hatha yoga.

Regular yoga practice can increase your strength and flexibility. Each time you begin, your blood begins to flow better and becomes more oxygenated. This allows you to stretch and go deeper into each pose every time you try it.

Types of Asanas (Poses)

There are several types of yoga poses that incorporate the hatha style of yoga. They can be done easily with practice and patience as hatha yoga is more for beginners. The types of poses, or asanas, are:

• Seated

• Twists

• Inversion

• Balancing

• Core strengthening

• Back bending

• Forward bending

• Side bending

• Hip opening

• Prone yoga poses

• Supine yoga poses

• Standing yoga poses

Specific Poses

The specific poses of hatha yoga serve to physically improve the body and its functioning. They will also help enhance the spirit and soul. The Cat Stretch pose helps to loosen the back and relax the shoulders. The sitting pose is vital to developing patience and self awareness. This meditative pose can bring peace and calm to the mind. The Cow pose stretches the hips and legs, improves circulation and helps clear the mind. Triangle pose is primarily done to improve posture and increase lung functioning. The Tree pose is an easy and effective way to improve balance and poise. Most hatha yoga sessions end in Corpse pose. This is done by lying on your back with arms and legs spread comfortably apart. Your palms face up toward the sky.

Physical Tips

When doing some of the poses that make up basic hatha yoga, you should never feel pain. You must breathe deeply and naturally as you do the asana. As you breathe and move, the poses will come more naturally. You should never strain, but gently increase your ability to complete and hold each pose. If a pose feels difficult or painful, stop immediately and try it as you feel more secure and focused. If you already have any severe back or neck injuries or issues, you should check with a doctor before you try to do any yoga poses or techniques.

Mental Tips

In order to get the most out of a hatha yoga session, you must be in a proper state of mind. You need to be in a calm, quiet and peaceful place. Actually, all types of yoga cannot be done fully or effectively in a stressful or loud place. It is time to quietly get in touch with every aspect of your body and mind. You must also let go of any stresses, as they will interrupt your breathing and keep your mind from quieting. While many people turn to yoga to find mental peace and clarity, you must go into it in the right state of mind. You have to be open to the benefits of this meditative practice in order to fully experience it.

Please click here for relate topic: Ashtanga Yoga.

How to Theme a Yoga Class

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

By Leah Nagy

The difference between a mediocre yoga class and a completely transformational one starts with the instructor’s intention. By focusing on only the physical practice of the asanas, a true yoga practice is incomplete. A meditative theme that runs throughout a class is helpful in creating a sense of well-being for the body, mind, and spirit.  There are all different types of themes that yoga instructors use. Some are for the type of students in the class, i.e. gentle yoga. Others are structured around a specific body part or type of pose, like backbends. Preparing the class for one difficult pose by opening those specific areas of the body first is the way of Anusara Yoga. The meditative theme is helpful in the connection between the teacher and student and ties the class together.

Where do you get ideas for a meditative class? Coming up with ideas for themes is quite simple. Just take a look around; take a look at your life. By sharing the lessons you learn with your students, they will follow you wherever you teach.  First start the class with an opening “grounding” session. This allows students to tap into the present moment and to begin to notice their breath. Then discuss your theme and how it pertains to class. Throughout the class refer back to your theme, reminding the class of your intention. At the end of class, whether it is before sivasana or after, close the theme by making it come full circle.

Here is an example of a meditative yoga theme:

Sit comfortably with a tall spine. Bring your eyes to close; hands resting on your knees. Start to check into now by noticing your breath. The other day I noticed my tree in front of my house was covered in white blossoms, where yesterday there was only buds. Pear trees covered with white clouds of flowers lined the streets everywhere I went that day. How amazing that all at once, that specific day, every pear tree in the area bloomed. They did not resist the change or rush it, but welcomed it when it was time. Can we trust that the universe is in control and that what we need will be provided in its own time?

Then, throughout class, I would remind the students to stay in the present moment, to not rush through one pose to get to the next; not to resist the change their bodies are ready to receive. Closing the theme before sivasana I might tell them to enjoy the beauty of their newly blossomed flowers for the next few minutes, without anticipating the next transformation.

Namaste.

Leah Nagy, RYT, is a dedicated yogini who incorporates meditation throughout her yoga classes. She teaches yoga at a number of places throughout Cleveland. Yoga has become her way of life.

Bikram Hot Yoga

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

By Disele Long

There are many types of yoga practices that you can venture into or try. Most are relatively simple to begin and enjoy the benefits of. However, there are also styles of yoga that may be too challenging, and potentially harmful for beginners to try. Bikram hot yoga is one of those styles.

Founding of Bikram Hot Yoga

Bikram Choudhury was an Olympic champion. In the 1960’s, he won the gold medal for weight lifting. He adapted traditional yoga techniques and incorporated the naturally hot and humid environment of India. He designed Bikram yoga as a form of yoga which increases muscular strength, endurance and weight loss.

Choudhury has gone to great lengths to keep his form of yoga intact and guarded from misinterpretation. To even teach this form of yoga, you must be licensed by Choudhury after attending his Yoga College of India in California. While there may be similar sounding yoga classes throughout the country, in order to legally be considered a real Bikram hot yoga class, these criteria must be met.

How is it Different from Traditional Yoga Practices?

Bikram hot yoga is done in a room heated to 105 degrees. The humidity levels in the room are typically from 40% to 60%. It is the only kind of yoga which utilizes heat as part of the components of the sessions. The heat is essential to making this more of a workout technique rather than a relaxation time. An extreme amount of perspiration is expelled, cleansing the body of toxins. It is important to be properly hydrated before beginning to avoid any dehydration issues. The heat gets the cardiovascular system pumping for an ultimate workout and allows the body to stretch further and hold poses longer, which increase endurance and strength.

The session involves a total of 26 postures, or asanas. These are done in a specific order and repeated again. The poses are each held for roughly 10 to 60 seconds. The session lasts for 90 minutes. The first twelve poses are standing poses. The others are all done lying on the floor and sitting.

The Poses of Bikram Hot Yoga

1. Standing deep breathing pose

2. Half moon pose and hands to feet

3. Awkward pose

4. Eagle pose

5. Standing head to knee pose

6. Standing bow pulling pose

7. Balancing stick pose

8. Standing separate leg stretching pose

9. Triangle pose

10. Standing separate leg head to knee pose

11. Tree pose

12. Toe stand pose

13. Dead body pose

14. Wind removing pose

15. Sit up

16. Cobra pose

17. Locust pose

18. Full locust pose

19. Bow pose

20. Fixed firm pose

21. Half tortoise pose

22. Camel pose

23. Rabbit pose

24. Head to knee pose

25. Spine twisting pose

26. Blowing in Firm pose

Aside from the obvious benefits of Bikram yoga, there are other benefits to doing Bikram hot yoga that may not be seen right away. Choudhury and others who are devoted followers of this type of yoga claim symptoms of various ailments can be alleviated by doing this type of yoga at least ten times a month, if not daily. The symptoms of multiple sclerosis and autoimmune disorders may be helped by doing Bikram yoga. Because of the intense cleansing of toxins and opening of pores, some have found their skin is healthier, brighter and free from issues such as eczema.

While some may feel this hard-core version of yoga loses some of the spirituality and calming effects yoga is meant to enhance, others feel it is the best way to combine the benefits of traditional yoga with a cardio workout.

Please click here for more information about Bikram yoga dangers.

Pranayama For Beginners

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

teaching pranayama

By Anshu Kumari

A gentle and easy introduction to the art of Pranayama with two of the most basic exercise.

Pranayama is the fourth limb of Astanga yoga, and is also called as the “Heart of Yoga.” Pranayama teaches us to how to use our lungs to the optimum capacity; as a result of which, the cells in our body are able to get sufficient quantity of oxygen. Though there are about 20 pranayamas; some of the pranayamas which are easy, and can easily be practiced by beginners are as follows Sunhat pranayama, Pranava pranayama, Kapalabhati, Anuloma Viloma pranayama, Bhramari pranayama and Sheetkari pranayama.

Sukha pranayama: This is the easiest of all the pranayamas. This is also called as deep abdominal breathing. Sukha pranayama is a great stress buster and a powerful mental tonic. It’s a great pranayama for relieving stress, fear, worry, anxiety and depression.

Technique: Sit down comfortably in a cross-legged posture, with your back straight, and chin parallel to the ground. Gently close your eyes now. All you need to do here is to concentrate on your breath and the movement your abdomen; breathe-in to the count of 5 and breathe-out to the count of 5. Keep your one hand over your abdomen so that you can feel the expansion and contraction as you inhale and exhale. As you breathe-in, your abdomen slowly expands and as you breathe out your abdomen contracts. Do this pranayama for about 3 to 5 minutes; after doing a couple of rounds of this pranayama, you shall feel quite peaceful and elated.

Anuloma Viloma pranayama: This is also called as the alternate Norstril Breathing. Anuloma Viloma is beneficial in the treatment of various diseases including heart problems, high blood pressure, and blockages in the arteries, insomnia, panic disorders, and depression.

Technique: Sit in a cross-legged posture with your back straight and chin parallel to the ground; gently close your eyes now. Make an Apana mudra with your right hand (join the tip of the middle finger, ring finger, and the thumb together; the other two fingers should be pointed outwards). Now close your right nostril with the help of your thumb, and exhale out all your breath from the left nostril; your abdomen should sink all the way in. This is the starting position of this pranayama. Inhale from the left nostril to the count of 4; your abdomen expands outwards. Next, close your left nostril with the help of the ring finger and middle finger, and exhale through the right nostril to the count of 8; your abdomen contracts as you exhale. Now inhale from the right nostril to the count 4 (your abdomen expands); close your right nostril with the thumb, and exhale through the left nostril to the count of 8 (your abdomen contracts). This completes your one round of Anuloma Viloma pranayama. Do at least 15 to 20 rounds of Anuloma Viloma pranayama.

Related Posts:

Teaching Yoga: Pranayama for Heart Health

Yoga Pranayama Exercises to Enhance Immunity