Yoga for Sleep: Restorative Viparita Karani

October 17th, 2014

about restorative yogaBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

At the present time, there is just a touch of fall coolness in the air in the Northeastern United States. As summer subtly wanes into early fall, the humidity level is dropping and the trees are beginning to reveal a hint of the brilliant fall foliage to come. I have always loved the fall. It is one of my favorite times of the year in the Northeast. The colors of the leaves when they are at their peak are simply breathtaking, and the swirling energy of the season is always invigorating and filled with promise.

Every year, the fall season sparkles with the crisp energy of hope and enthusiasm. This often translates into a new school year, training program or continuing education course of study for many of us. As the long, warm days of summer begin to shorten, many Yoga students and Yoga teachers find themselves rushing to fit into their busy schedules a variety of wonderful summer activities before the days shorten and the temperatures drop to a point where some of these activities, such as swimming or surfing, are no longer possible. At least not without a very thick wetsuit!

The combination of seeking to fully enjoy the final weeks of summer, in addition to added academic and professional goals and responsibilities, often generates an underlying feeling of anxiety. Unfortunately, the busyness of a full schedule can increase anxiety levels to a point where you may find it difficult to sleep. If this is the case for you, practicing some soothing, restorative Yoga poses will help your body and mind to calm down, which will allow you to rest in a place of quietude. Resting in a place of peace and quietude will support you to sleep more deeply and restoratively.

* Viparita Karani or Legs Up the Wall Pose

Viparita Karani is also known as Legs Up the Wall Pose. This is a simple and accessible Yoga inversion that helps to calm frayed nerves, quiet your mind and replenish your vital life force energy. Viparita Karani is usually practiced toward the end of a Yoga class or session. It is generally one of the finishing postures in a sequence of Yoga poses that is practiced just prior to Shavasana.

Some of the benefits of practicing Viparita Karani for five to fifteen minutes are: improving blood flow throughout the entire body, restoring tired legs and feet, alleviating headaches, easing tension in the lower back, calming anxiety, relieving insomnia, and stretching out the front of the torso, the back of the neck and the hamstring muscles. To practice Legs Up in the Wall Pose in a restorative fashion, you will need a folded blanket, an eye pillow or small towel and a weighted sandbag for your feet. You may also wish to place an additional blanket over your torso for a fuller sense of being nurtured and to stay warm, of course.

When you are ready to practice Legs Up the Wall Pose, place your Yoga mat perpendicular to a free wall in your home or Yoga studio. Place any props you are using on one side of your Yoga mat. Lie down on your side on the Yoga mat with your buttocks touching the wall. With an inhale; gently roll yourself onto your back as you raise your legs up the wall. Extend your legs fully and keep your feet slightly flexed.

If you are using a folded blanket, place it underneath your hips for added support. Place the other blanket snugly over your torso and rest the sandbag on your feet.

When you have all of the Yoga props positioned properly, place the eye pillow over your eyes and extend your arms out to your sides at chest height with your palms facing up in a gesture of release and openness. Sink into the floor or earth beneath you and breathe fully and deeply. Hold this posture for five to fifteen minutes, and then remove the props, roll to your right side and gently push your self up to Easy Seat. Pause for a few breaths to feel the blanket of peace and quietude enveloping you that your practice of this restorative Yoga pose has generated before moving into Shavasana.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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What Should Yoga Teachers Know About Accepting Pregnant Students?

October 15th, 2014

yoga training for pregnancyBy Kimaya Singh

As a yoga teacher, you are going to accept many students, who are all going to be of different weights, heights, body frames, levels of flexibility, and more. Typically, you don’t have to worry too much about the average student you teach because most can practice the techniques, but when dealing with pregnant women, you should consider changing up your class.

There is no reason why a pregnant woman cannot have a great time in yoga, but things will need to change. Pregnant students should be in a prenatal class with a certified prenatal yoga instructor. Here are tips that you can use to make the prenatal class enjoyable for everyone.

The first thing to do is to make sure you provide space for the baby. Depending on how far along the pregnancy is, the baby is going to be larger and accommodations need to be made for the baby and the space it takes up. This is why you should avoid teaching any yoga poses to your pregnant students that compress the belly. If you can’t avoid them, modify them. You should not have your pregnant students on their bellies, especially in the second and third trimester. Compressing twists should also be avoided.

Another thing to make sure your pregnant students don’t do is overstretching. While the hormone relaxin increases flexibility, helping prepare the body for birth, that doesn’t mean that pregnant women should try and stretch to the limit. Ligaments are more relaxed, but by over-stretching, women can cause lifelong joint and pelvic problems, or even pulled ligaments. Have your pregnant students focus more on increasing their strength and stability, rather than trying to stretch as far as they can. Avoid deepening assists with your pregnant students.

If your student is at the end of her first trimester, and the beginning of her second trimester, the placenta is beginning to attach to the uterine wall. As a result, you want to avoid any inverted or jumping movements at this point. If your experienced students do want to do any inverting, they should practice mild variations, such as Downward Facing Dog and only for 30 seconds or less. Some women will resist any advice that they consider to be pampering, but pregnancy is the first time in our lives, when we have to consider every risk we take. Some women will always put their children at risk, but a wise mother will be mindful of her baby well before birth.

The center of gravity shifts for a woman who is pregnant, down to the lower back. As a result, pain in that area can be a common problem for women who are pregnant. As a teacher, you can help with that by ensuring that their lower back is where you are focusing on. Tailbone-centric exercises are an excellent way to strengthen that area and help a student relieve the pain. Encourage your pregnant students to practice exercises that strengthen the tailbone, and that should help them relive the problem of back pain.

Some yoga teachers use kumbhaka, which is breath retention when doing yoga, but this should be avoided if you are teaching pregnant students. Pregnant students should breathe slowly and evenly. Alternate nostril breathing can be a substitute for women who are pregnant.

For some people, lying on the back is not going to be comfortable. For pregnant women, you should avoid having them on their backs altogether. Some women find it to be welcome relief to learn modified postures instead of lying in Shavasana. Yoga can be a great way to keep the body healthy during pregnancy, but it is important that your students never push themselves too far with their poses.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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What Should Yoga Teachers Know About Students With Heart Problems?

October 13th, 2014

heart care with yogaBy Faye Martins

Yoga is good for you, and we all know that. As a yoga teacher, you have the ability to help people deal with a lot of health problems, and heart problems are no different. According to Dr. Suzie Bertisch, a medical instructor at Harvard, the benefits of yoga for the heart are quite immense. In addition to making the body healthy, it helps to improve the symptoms of heart failure, ease palpitations, enhance the rehabilitation of the heart and reduce blood pressure.

Now, if you have someone in your class with heart problems, you need to take special considerations so that you can help them get healthy, while also not pushing their heart too much.

There are several yoga poses that should be avoided if a student has health problems.

First of all, poses with long-held inversions should be avoided, as well as poses that involve handstands. Any long-held pose that has the arm over the head should be avoided and anything that involves holding breath, or having intense breathing, must be avoided at all costs.

Some poses that should be avoided are:

  1. Extended triangle pose
  2. Low lunge
  3. High lunch, crescent variation
  4. Feathered peacock pose
  5. Upward abdominal lock
  6. Warrior I pose
  7. The handstand
  8. Full boat pose
  9. Hero pose
  10. Supported headstand
  11. Upward bow-wheel pose

In addition, unsupported inversions should not be attempted because this will put the weight of abdominal organs on the upper-half of the body, and that can put strain on the heart.

An excellent idea is to teach your students breathing practices and meditation. Along with restorative postures, they can be very effective in healing heart conditions. These exercises help to calm the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn will help to relax the mind and the body and reduce stress on the individual.

There are styles that may benefit heart tissues and some poses that are vigorous can be done as long as the stamina is built up over time. If someone is non-active and suddenly wants to do some intense yoga positions, it is in your best interest to prevent them from doing that. Students, who have problems with heat, should avoid any sort of Bikram style yoga, or hot yoga as this can put extra strain on the heart for the student.

As a teacher, the poses that you should be having your student focus on are poses that will relax the mind and the body, while also helping to expand the chest. These are poses that use the expanded chest to allow for deep breaths, which puts more oxygen into the body and helps to improve the overall flow of blood in the body. By doing this, the student will improve their heart condition and thereby be able to do more intense yoga poses without the level of risk they would have had.

If students have a heart condition, you should encourage them to speak with their doctor first to ensure that yoga will benefit them, rather than increase their risk. You want them to be healthy, and sometimes even starting slow can aggravate the heart. By getting the okay from the doctor, you are ensured that your students are going to be okay during exercises, but you are also protecting yourself if a student were ever to have a heart attack in your class.

Yoga has been proven to help people with heart conditions, and it can help your students. As long as you keep things safe, and plan out the exercises for heart condition students, everyone will have a great time getting healthy.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Giving Yoga Students Safe Challenges

October 12th, 2014

keeping yoga students safeBy Azahar Aguilar

As a yoga instructor, you are there to challenge your students into new spaces mentally and physically from what they may never thought possible for themselves before.  However, you are also there to keep your students safe and injury free. How to establish this balance between challenge and safety?

Types of Students to Challenge

When you kindle your students desire to push themselves, it is usually best for regulars or students you have frequent interaction with.  These practitioners you typically know better, and therefore have a stronger understanding for their needs and abilities.  In turn they feel more comfortable to inform you if they feel truly uncomfortable in a challenge.

Other times teachers can get swept up in the success of a new and eager yoga student.  If a new practitioner reaches a higher milestone in the practice, it is easy for an instructor to forget that each day is different.  Even if a student made great progress in a posture one day, the next day their body or mind may not be in the same place, which may lead to an injury in a posture they may have opened into the day before.

Teachers must leave their ego aside and continually evaluate practitioners, their comfort level and ability constantly. No matter how much you’ve worked with a student, check-ins are always necessary for safety.  A quick “how does that feel” or simply placing a block near someone with a pained face in a floor posture will act as important prevention.

Filling Advanced Classes or Programs

Other possible danger zones occur when focus shifts from the practice to the business of yoga.  Sometimes studios need a certain amount of students to run workshops or classes, and programs intended for advanced or master’s level can become too relaxed in the admission process.

A new student should never be allowed to participate in anything labeled master, no matter the level of supervision.  Keep the integrity and safety of the practice at all times.  It will be more enjoyable for the student, and you will rest easy knowing your students are safe and happy.

Education and Adjustments

Educate practitioners in your classes about what to watch for in certain advanced postures, and at the same time to check in with the ego before they attempt to push limits. This way you empower the students to check in with themselves before blindly attempting the challenge. The more your students are aware of their intention behind the desire to challenge, the better aligned their transition will be.

If you decide your intention to challenge a student is pure and ego-free, it’s important in the next step you slowly step into the student’s space to feel the energy and ask permission to push them a bit further with an adjustment or verbal cue.  Acting in the student’s personal space will also allow for a more one-on-one experience, rather than inviting the ego when the class turns it’s attention as a whole to yourself and the student.  Take your time, breathe with the student and check in before the challenge.

The Perfect Balance

Ask yourself why you want to push a student into a new space in their practice before you take action to do so.  Sit with the reasoning to feel if it comes from a place of love or of ego.

When you do challenge a student, check in with him or her to insure they feel comfortable throughout the adjustment or verbal cue.  Try and do so somewhat intimately, instead of involving the class for ego. Keep the intentions pure for growth in a specific posture or series, take your time to listen and you and your student’s practice will flourish.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Establishing a Safe Track Record in Yoga Classes

October 11th, 2014

yoga safetyBy Azahar Aguilar

Responsibility rests on yoga instructors to look out for the student’s safety before, during and after class.  A safe teaching track record leaves you and your students confident and better able to focus on the practice.  Established studio tracking methods as well as constant communication between teachers and students will create this type of caring environment.

Prevention with Tracking Systems

In a studio, a critical step to ensure communication between many different yoga instructors begins with the new student sign up process.  There must be a place on the welcome form to list pre-existing injuries and health conditions, then loaded into a computer or folder tracking system.  When students sign in for future classes, that information easily shows and is available for the current teacher instructing.  The teacher glances over the list, and is immediately aware of injury and health information before stepping into the studio with that student.

Encourage a space to track conversations with students in your studio as well; such as when a student may approach you after class for more information on how to modify a posture for her former torn ACL.  That knowledge is important to share; a place to note that in a tracking system for other instructors to see and be aware of is extremely valuable.

Prevention with Conversation and Questions

Habits of yoga teachers should include initiating conversation with new faces as they step into the yoga studio- even a quick and direct question, “do you have any injuries or health concerns I should keep in mind to make you more comfortable?” to allow another opportunity for sharing safe yoga knowledge.

Initiate conversation after class with other students for a more natural conversation flow with regulars and faces you have seen before.  Anything you noticed in class from discomfort in the face during a knee-intense posture to asking why they began yoga can open communication. These conversations can easily be additions to add notes in the tracking system for the advantage of the next teacher to safely instruct that student.

The space exists, at the start of class as you introduce yourself, to ask for students with any injuries to raise their hands and let you know of any injuries or health concerns.  Another option for shyer students is to close their eyes and place hands over their hearts for a more anonymous approach. Create your own opportunities to find out more about your students to further establish safety in the studio.

Remind your students during or after class – to make their new instructors aware before class of pre-existing injuries or health conditions.  This also provides the opportunity for your students to make the studio a safer place for him or herself, and a more enjoyable practice for teachers to offer modifications as needed.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about our selection of inexpensive hatha yoga instructor training intensives.

Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks.

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Yoga for Sleep: Establishing a Regular Rhythm

October 2nd, 2014
teaching yoga for sleep

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
 
Deeply restorative and refreshing sleep can be quite elusive for many Yoga practitioners. With the frenetic pace of many Yoga teachers and students’ lives, winding down for a good night’s sleep is frequently challenging, if not impossible. As we all rush to squeeze in one appointment after another during our already fully scheduled days, the fight or flight response is often locked on overdrive and anxiety and stress levels can stay high well into the night. When this happens, the body and mind are physiologically unable to unwind and ease into a peaceful state of being, rather than constantly doing. 
 
Turning off an overactive mind at the end of the day is crucial to being able to rest deeply. An overly anxious or busy mind that is always in “doing mode” drives the sympathetic nervous system to remain on as the mind simultaneously continues to plan what to do next. This is all too true for many Yogis and Yoginis  even after a modern day mini-crisis, such as making it to the bank or post office before the stroke of 5, comes to an end. If you find that you often operate on the adrenalin rush that your own body produces in response to an unending series of crises throughout the day, you probably have difficulty falling asleep and sleeping uninterruptedly throughout the night. 
 
By creating a soothing bedtime ritual for yourself, you will cue your body and mind to begin to unwind from the day and to enter into a state of peaceful being, rather than staying stuck in a state of constant “doing” by planning for the next day and rehashing the day you have just lived. Ruminating about the past or the future will keep you in a state of doing and will prevent you from sleeping restoratively. There are a number of ways to create a soothing bedtime ritual for yourself. A few tried and true ways of demarcating a time of rest are taking a hot bath, drinking a calming cup of herbal tea and reading a good book in bed. Practicing restorative Yoga poses and quieting Yogic breathing exercises are also wonderful ways to support your body and mind in letting go of the concerns of the day. 
 
* Dirga Pranayama or Three Part Breathing 
 
In terms of creating a regular rhythm to support you in resting well, practicing a calming Yogic breathing exercise just prior to turning in for the evening will quickly and effectively calm your mind as the sympathetic nervous system, which drives the fight and flight response, comes to a barely perceptible idle. Dirga Pranayama is a simple and highly effective Yogic breathing exercise for establishing a regular rhythm in the body and calming the thought waves of the mind. Practicing Dirga Pranayama helps you to become deeply aware of your own breathing patterns and to breathe fully, deeply and completely. 
 
To practice Dirga Pranayama, come to prone position on your Yoga mat or sit on a chair with your feet resting flat on the floor and your spine erect. You can also practice this calming Yogic breathing exercise just prior to drifting off to sleep as you lie cozily in your bed. When your are ready to practice Dirga Pranayama, place your right hand on your lower abdomen and your left hand on your heart. The placement of your hands will help you to be aware of each inhalation and exhalation. 
 
The practice of Dirga Pranayama is also known as the Three Part Breath. Each inhalation is divided into three parts. The first part of the inhalation fills up your lower belly. The second part of the inhalation fills up your abdominal area to your lower ribs, and the third part of the inhalation fills up your chest cavity completely, all the way up to your collar bones. The exhalation is long and continuous and should ideally be the same count as all three “mini” inhalations put together. 
 
In other words, if you counted to three with each part of your inhalation for a total of nine counts, your exhalation should be a total of nine counts at the same pace. A series of three “mini” inhalations followed by a long, continuous exhalation is one round of Dirga Pranayama. Practice this soothing Yoga breathing exercise for at least five rounds. The regular rhythm of this breathing exercise will help your body and mind come to a quiet place of rest and repose in preparation for the night ahead.  
© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga students and our selection of online yoga instructor training courses.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

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The Truth About Making Money

September 19th, 2014

how to solve money problemsBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Money has been a mystery to humankind since it was first invented. If we had enough money to pay our bills, would that create happiness? It is true that bills for medicine, housing, energy, food, insurance, taxes, clothing, and transportation can take happiness away. However, are the rich really happy? Does the idea of having money create an illusion for those who are in need? Is money the cause of wars or could we prevent wars with prosperity?

Many of our problems with money have to do with the way we see it. Some of us feel that we do not deserve to be paid a fair wage or we are not worthy of material wealth. Others view money as an evil thing. Money is really just a source of energy. Our personal view of money is a factor in attracting it or pushing it away.

There is no shortage of opportunities in this life. This is where going into business for yourself can be lucrative and fun. With the current state of the Internet, anyone can go into business doing anything; but to ethically make a living, one has to be driven by morals and a passion for their work. I spend a lot of time coaching teachers to get over their “hang ups” about making money. Yoga teachers tend to be givers, but they do not usually take. Some instructors have problems with accepting gifts of appreciation.

My viewpoint is as follows: If you make too much money doing anything, give it to others. Help local charities and causes that exist for the good of the entire planet. If you want world peace, to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, or to save the whales, there is a charity for it. If you want to create a new charity, take your money and start one. My point is simple; it’s not that easy for many people to have huge surpluses of money. If you have a fear of making too much money, just give it away. This is not the concern of most people, because most people need more money and they need to change the path they are on.

About Marketing and Business

By designing and offering your own services, programs and products, you can interject your personality into your business. Depending on your location and marketing skills, you can make a great living, as long as you have real passion for what you do. If you’re in a location where a large number of people are looking for your services, then the sky’s the limit. If this isn’t the case, you need to develop some marketing skills.

About Marketing Yoga Services

In order to get students, you must be able to make yoga instruction appealing. You have to let them know that you can make them healthier with your teaching. It’s going to take a bit more work, but if you’re dedicated to improving the health of your community, then you’ll succeed. Yoga is one of the greatest examples, of an ancient discipline, remaining relevant in the modern age. Whether you’re looking to focus on the spiritual, mental, emotional or physical aspects of the art, being a yoga instructor can be a profitable career path. If this is the path you want your life to take, then get off your yoga mat and take the necessary steps to start teaching!

For Anyone Who Wants to Find Prosperity

If you have a true passion for something, the development process is a labor of love. At this time, anyone can create a legitimate source of income. If a person wants to write, create art, or create music, the Internet gives all of us an equal chance. The path to prosperity is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other and walking forward. If you want to make a change, get rid of negative energy, and attract positive energy, here is a book for you. Additionally, here is a coupon code for 50% off: Holistic50Promo

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Yoga & Self-Hypnosis to Quit Smoking

September 6th, 2014

how to quit smokingActually it’s simple and easy to stop smoking.

Many people find it difficult and are unable to quit because they don’t know how to invoke cooperation from their subconscious mind, how to harness that power in their everyday lives and so become the individual they want to be. By practicing yoga and self-hypnosis, we can find joy and pleasure that within days to weeks will empower an individual to quit smoking and remain a nonsmoker for the rest of his or her life.

In his second yoga sutra, Patanjali defines yoga as the “conscious process of gaining mastery over the mind”. By practicing self-hypnosis, asanas, pranayamas, kriyas and meditation, we develop awareness of our body, breathing and thoughts. This awareness awakens inner knowledge and wisdom that helps us better know ourselves. Thus we gain mastery over our mind and learn how to use this power towards helping the individual locate a healthier, happier lifestyle. We become instinctively more health-conscious, more aware of what we do and what we eat. We develop a powerful inner drive to do things that are good for our health and avoid things that are harmful.

To quit smoking through yoga and self-hypnosis, I have developed a simple, practical and effective method anyone can try.

There are three steps:

1) “Positive thinking brings me what I wish”

mudras in yoga therapyMany find it difficult to quit because they already believe it is difficult to quit: a self-fulfilling (or unfulfilling) prophecy. They find themselves unable to do it, therefore they are unable to do it: “As you think, so you become.”

By practicing this method of self-hypnosis I have developed, an individual develops a strong positive attitude that you can in fact live the life you would like, you can become a nonsmoker and it is easy for you to do this.

Here’s the exercise to practice:

In the morning when you wake up (or any time you wake up) as you open your eyes and before getting out of bed, please repeat this sentence: “Positive thinking brings me what I wish” 20 times in your mind. Then get out of bed. In this state, there is now a good communication flow with the subconscious and so useful suggestions and ideas will imprint more easily onto the subconscious mind. Repeat this sentence sometimes during the day, with an attitude of joy and pleasure, particularly any time a negative thought or temptation arrives that is connected to smoking. This sentence can also be repeated during self-hypnosis, asanas and after pranayamas and meditation.

2) Imagined scenarios, ‘imaginations’

The next, equally important step is picturing yourself as a nonsmoker in certain places and situations.

Many unwanted habits are programmed, deeply rooted in the subconscious mind and repeat themselves in a destructive cyclical pattern. These habits can be deprogrammed by the power of positive auto suggestions and also by what I call “imaginations”.

Here are some examples to practice in addition to the imaginations you may want to develop for yourself.

  • Imagine it is the morning and you are having breakfast, drinking tea or coffee: You feel good that you are a nonsmoker.
  • Imagine it is after your meal and feel good that you are a nonsmoker.
  • Imagine you are working with a computer and you are a nonsmoker.
  • Imagine you are making an important decision and you are a nonsmoker.
  • Imagine you are talking with your relatives, friends or colleagues and you are a nonsmoker.
  • Imagine you are waiting for a friend who is already late and you are a nonsmoker.
  • Imagine you are having a walk and you feel fresh and energetic. You feel good that in the last few days you didn’t smoke at all.
  • Imagine you are climbing up a hill or mountain and feeling strong and energetic. You realize your lungs feel clear and healthy because you did not smoke for weeks.
  • Imagine you are laughing, recognizing that your lungs are clear because for many months you did not smoke.
  • Imagine in general about yourself that you are very healthy and a non-smoking person.

In addition to practicing these imaginations during self-hypnosis, they can also be practiced during asanas and after pranayamas and meditation. They are also effective when practiced after waking up from sleep or before getting out of bed.

3) “I am always healthy, and I am a nonsmoker”

about yoga as therapyThe final step is to develop a strong attitude towards a healthy life, so that we do things that are good for our health and avoid things that are bad, like smoking.

The sentence “I am always healthy, and I am a nonsmoker” should be repeated during self-hypnosis and also during yoga asanas, pranayamas and meditation. It should also be repeated sometimes during the day, particularly any time a negative thought or a temptation to smoke invades the conscious mind.

Self-hypnosis practice (10-15 minutes):

After completing yoga asanas, lie down in the shavasana posture, allowing the back to fully rest on the ground, legs apart, hands slightly away from the body, palm facing the sky, eyes gently closed and face smiling.

Now start relaxing the entire body for about five minutes. Start from the toes, directing the mind to different parts of the body and so propagating a feeling of relaxation.

Please bring your awareness to your toes; slightly move them and let them relax. Relax the feet … relax the calf muscles … relax the knee joints … relax the thigh muscles … relax the buttocks and pelvic region.

Relax the muscles of the abdomen and let all the organs in the abdomen relax and function nicely in harmony.

Relax the chest muscles and let all the organs in the chest relax and function nicely in harmony.

Relax the muscles, nerves and bones in the lower back region … relax the muscles, nerves and bones in the middle back region … relax the muscles, nerves and bones in the upper back and shoulder region.

Relax the arms … relax the elbows … relax the forearms … relax the hands and fingers. Relax the throat … relax the neck muscles … relax the back of the head … relax the top of the head … relax the forehead … relax the eyes … relax the nose. Relax the ears … relax the face muscles, chin, lips, tongue and teeth.

Tell your mind to relax your whole body and mind.

Now bring your awareness to your abdomen, feel the abdominal muscles moving up and down … as you inhale, feel the upward movement and as you exhale, feel the downward movement of your abdominal muscles. Feel your breathing become slow, smooth, calm and rhythmic.

One inhalation and one exhalation forms one round. Keep observing your breathing for 20 rounds by counting each breath down from 20 to 1.

After 20, follow the three steps of self-hypnosis:

1) Mentally repeat to yourself 10 times: “Positive thinking brings me what I wish.”

2) Imagine yourself in situations as a nonsmoker.

3) Mentally repeat to yourself 10 times: “I am always healthy, and I am a nonsmoker.”

Now gently move your whole body, your toes and fingers, your head. Count from 1-5 and by the count of 5, open your eyes and feel fresh and wonderful.

Auto suggestions and imaginations during asanas and after pranayama and meditation:

Auto suggestions and imaginations can also be dropped easily into the subconscious mind during asanas and after pranayama and meditation.

While practicing asanas, as you come to the final position of a particular asana, concentrate on the point of stretch for 20-30 seconds and then, holding that position, mentally repeat three times either “Positive thinking brings me what I wish” or “I am always healthy, and I am a nonsmoker”. After three repetitions, slowly return to the relaxing position.

First observe your body, breathing and mind and then imagine yourself in a situation where

you are a nonsmoker. Then continue with the next asana and while in the final position, repeat three times another auto suggestion and as you come back to the relaxing asana imagine yourself in another situation where you are a nonsmoker. And so on. Continue like this.

After completing your pranayama or meditation, follow the three steps of self-hypnosis:

1) Mentally repeat to yourself 10 times: “Positive thinking brings me what I wish.”

2) Imagine yourself in situations where you are a nonsmoker.

3) Mentally repeat to yourself 10 times: “I am always healthy, and I am a nonsmoker.”

Then count 1-5, open your eyes and feel fresh and wonderful.

Wishing you all a better, healthier and happier life,

Dr. Sohail Ebady

About the author:

how to stop smoking with yogaDr. Sohail Ebady, M.D. has been a yoga teacher for 21 years and hypnotherapist for 20 years. He immediately recognized the need for these seemingly separate sciences to be intertwined. He created the Patanjali Institute to impart Yoga Teacher Training in combination with Hypnotherapy training to students who wish to become effective healers. The courses take part in Thailand or Bali.

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How Yoga Purges Addictions

August 23rd, 2014

yoga for addictionsBy Avalon Hicks

Addictions in one form or another can help to slowly destroy anything and everything. From destroying relationships to destroying health and wealth, addictions have been notoriously found, to be at the center of all kinds of negativity.

Most addictions start off as simply being part of a social experiment or a teenage dare, and for some, it stops at just this, but for the vast majority, the simple experiment eventually evolves into something more sinister and nasty. There are addictions that could have started out as medications necessary to treat certain health or mental conditions. There are also addictions that could have been a means or an immediate solution to a dedicate problem or a stressful work situation. Either way, any addiction usually spirals out of control and in more severe cases could result in death.

Some people have turned to yoga as a means of purging themselves of an addiction. There has been reliable research to show that yoga can be used for this purpose and it has been able to achieve successful or at the very least promising results. As addiction not only affects the physical but also the mental wellbeing of the addict, yoga presents itself as the ideal one for all solution, to address both planes.

Through practicing yoga, addicts have been able to address both their mental state of mind and their physical body conditions to bring forth enough positive energy over time, to help combat the addiction. There are several different types of yoga programs that can be used to address any addiction problem and choosing one that most suits the needs of a particular addiction is advised.

Through yoga, the addict learns how to be more aware of the connection between body and mind and how each works in tandem with the other. Yoga helps to create a more nurturing spirit which helps the addict to learn to look within themselves so that they can build strength to face the outside world and its challenges.

Yoga helps to connect the inner energy and strength with a series of movements and poses. Through these sessions the body is encouraged to create high levels of positive energy from within so that any adversity can be faced with the help of the now ever present positive energy. Further yoga sessions will help teach the addict how to focus on the positive and also how to attract positive energy to themselves from their surroundings, thus further fortifying their resistance to the addiction.

Yoga also provides the addict with something to do that involves the use of both mind and body. Generally the practice of yoga does not cost anything and can be done within the confines of one’s personal space. The breathing techniques taught through yoga are very calming and this is very important when attempting to distract oneself from the anxieties that encourage the addictions. This breathing helps to quiet the mind and keep it focused so that the addiction cannot take center stage anymore.

Among the elements that can be successfully achieved with the practice of regular yoga are stronger muscles, better brain function, lower levels of stress, increased energy, better sleep, healthier overall health conditions, an improved mood and mind-set and many others. All these then help the addict to move away from the addiction, mainly because there is no longer a need to find temporary relief from problems faced. With the body and mind now functioning at better levels, it is possible to face life’s challenges without turning to the previous addiction for solace.

The positive energy flow that the practice of yoga brings about, will help the mind and body naturally reject any thoughts connected to addiction.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Nurturing Independence with Yoga: Practicing Compassion

August 16th, 2014

about compassion

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

There are many ways to nurture independence with Yoga. There are also many different kinds of independence. Of course, there is the independence that comes from robust physical health. If you have ever experienced an injury or surgical procedure that has taken a substantial amount of time to heal, you are well aware of the sense of dependency that less than optimal physical health can create. This state of dependency can be very frustrating for many Yoga practitioners, especially those of us who are used to being quite independent. Many of the physical postures of Yoga help to strengthen and heal the body, so that an optimal state of physical health is nourished and sustained.

On a less visible level is the psychological independence that many of the practices of Yoga nurture in a committed student. For instance, if you struggle with an anxious mind, taking the time to switch from “doing” to “being” while you rest in a Shavasana is an important first step towards expanding into a state of peaceful awareness. The system of Yoga practices and techniques is quite diverse and comprehensive. If a Yoga student practices several of these techniques regularly in a balanced manner, the beneficial effects of the practice are magnified tremendously.

Many different traditions of Yoga offer service to the community in which they are located. This feeling of compassion and generosity naturally arises when the mind and body are balanced and the heart is open. Nurturing a feeling of compassion, by releasing the constriction around the heart, will dissipate feelings of isolation and the judgment of oneself and others. Dropping into our own hearts with sensitivity and awareness is one of the primary internal gifts that a regular practice of Yoga offers to us. The ability to reside for a period of time in our own hearts, with loving kindness and compassion, will enable us to carry this same compassionate energy into the world.

When we are able to drop into our own heart with a feeling of deep compassion, we are more able to truly love ourselves unconditionally. This does not mean that we are completely off the hook for our own wrong doings! It simply means that we can offer ourselves the loving kindness and forgiveness that so many Yoga practitioners offer to others, both near and far. It is often more challenging to allow a feeling of soft compassion to arise in our own hearts for ourselves, than it is to feel compassion for those who are struggling 3000 miles away from us! When we are able to extend a feeling of compassion to ourselves, we are also freed from past mistakes and are more able to become independent of patterns of thinking and behavior that are no longer serving our highest good.

* Reclining Goddess Pose

This Yoga pose is a very simple way to slow down, release tension and drop into the space of your own heart. To further facilitate the sense of relaxation and rejuvenation, you may wish to use blankets to support your knees and an eye pillow to help support you to focus internally. If you are using these props, place them near your Yoga mat. To practice Reclining Goddess Pose, lie back on your Yoga mat and place your legs in a diamond position with the soles of your feet touching. If you are using blankets, fold them and place them under your knees. If you are using an eye pillow, place it over your eyes now.

Position your left hand on your Heart Chakra and your right hand on your belly. Very gently breath into your heart – Feel the rise and fall of your belly as you expand your inhale to fill your entire heart area. As you continue to breath, visualize a soft, warm, glowing pink light flowing through your left hand into your Heart Chakra. Gently dissolve any mental objections or feelings of unworthiness that may arise by continuing to breathe as you fill your heart with the divine love of the Goddess. Hold Reclining Goddess Pose for five to ten minutes, and then roll to your right side and gently push yourself up to Easy Seat on your Yoga mat.

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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