Posts Tagged ‘in the yoga sutras’

Teaching Cooling Yoga Poses to Calm the Mind

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

500 hour hatha yoga teacher certification programBy Kimaya Singh

In today’s fast paced world, many of us struggle to balance many demands from both the professional and personal areas of our lives. We may feel that we are racing all day long from one activity to another without a moment to pause, sit still and take a few breaths. A well-rounded and regular practice of Yoga can help our students to achieve a sense of balance and calm in their lives. If you include a variety of asanas into your lesson plans, which are supported by the simultaneous practice of pranayama exercises, your students’ strength, flexibility and peace of mind will increase over time.

Many Yoga poses fall into two general categories: heating and cooling. Yoga postures that are heating to the body include vigorous Sun Salutations, arm balances and standing asanas. Cooling poses quiet both the mind and body as the poses facilitate the inward withdrawal of the senses known in the Yoga sutras as “pratyahara.” The practice of pratyahara is very restorative in nature because it gives your mind and senses a break from continually being focused on external stimuli.

Explaining Twisted Child’s Pose to Your Students

Twisting Yoga asanas are cooling to both the body and mind. To practice Twisted Child’s Pose, come to a kneeling position on your mat. If your knees are sensitive, you may wish to place a folded blanket underneath you for padding. Take a few deep breaths. With your next inhale, raise your right arm up in the air as high as you are able to, with your fingers pointing to the sky and your palm facing away from your body. With your next exhale, bring your right arm down and thread it under your torso and left arm.

The back of your right arm will rest on the mat. Keep your palm facing up and your right arm parallel to the front of your mat. Rest your right cheek on your mat. Close your eyes and hold this Yoga asana for three to five complete breaths. Feel the stretch all along your right arm, shoulder and neck. Let your mind quiet as you breath softly and deeply, releasing tension a little more with each exhale. With your next inhale, un-thread your right arm and come back to the center of your Yoga mat and rest in Child’s Pose. When you are ready, repeat on the left hand side.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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A Yogic Technique for Managing Anxiety: Pratipaksa

Monday, March 12th, 2012

hot yoga teacher certification courseBy Virginia Iversen 

The practice of Yoga offers us many tools and techniques for managing anxiety. The Yogic technique of pratipaksa comes from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It is the practice of becoming aware of injurious thoughts and choosing healthier, more uplifting thoughts. In today’s contemporary vernacular this is also know as choosing a “downstream thought” that creates happiness within you, instead of an “upstream thought” that causes pain, guilt or anxiety. It may be as simple as noticing the beauty of the full moon on a snowy evening, instead of a driveway that still needs to be shoveled. In other words, focusing on the glass that is half-full instead of half-empty.

This practice can have a profoundly healing effect on Yogis and Yoginis who may be struggling with self-defeating thoughts and beliefs that create fear and anxiety within. As we continue to gently pull our minds away from repetitive thoughts that create anxious feelings and focus our minds instead on positive, true and uplifting thoughts, we are literally restructuring the synaptic connections in our brains. The neuroplasticity of our brains allows us to indelibly change our thinking patterns with diligent awareness and effort. When we change our negative thinking patterns and beliefs about ourselves and the world at large, we will also change our behaviors, which will, in time, change our karma.

In Yogic terms, negative and/or diminishing thoughts are known as “aklishtas.” Aklishtas are negative thought patterns that discourage you from reaching your full potential. Aklishtas also obscure your ability to see your own inner divinity and the love and possibilities that surround you. If you constantly engage in self-denigrating thoughts and pessimistic thinking, you are much less likely to create a life of abundance, love and well-being for yourself. Thoughts which are uplifting and inspiring are known in the Yoga Sutras as “klishtas.” These thoughts help to inspire us, generate confidence, serenity and well-being. Many positive affirmations are klishtas. Thoughts such as, “every failure brings me closer to success” and “good things are bound to happen” help to inspire us and encourage us as we journey through life.

The practice of pratipaksa is not just about substituting a positive thought in place of the opposite negative thought or belief, it is also about choosing life-affirming thoughts that soothe, nourish and uplift us. You must believe the thought to be true or able to become true, and you must find the thought nourishing. If the upstream thought that you choose does not soothe your spirit or your mind feels it is untrue, the practice will not be as effective. To ease anxiety, gently pull your attention away from disquieting thoughts and focus your mind on a positive thought, even if it is a simple as appreciating the luminous light of the full moon.

© Copyright 2012 – Virginia Iversen – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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