Yoga & Me
I am absolutely thrilled and excited to be studying Hatha Yoga in 2014. I felt a strong urge to take this training and somehow made it happen!
I always felt that I needed to improve my posture, exercise regime and physical body but could not find any satisfaction by going to the gym or ‘working out’. Then I discovered Yoga and I am on a journey on self discovery which is fascinating .
I love the philosophy and the way it works on the physical and mental level and increases your spiritual awareness at the same time.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is being described as coming back to yourself and I wouldn’t be able to describe it any better. It’s about finding your limits, expanding your boundaries and being able to relax with yourself. It helps you to feel relaxed, feel good about yourself . When one finds the ”centre” in Yoga practice one tends to look for the balance in other areas of our lives too. It brings stillness to our minds and helps you deal with life’s issues.
The first known author of Yoga is Patanjali who wrote 2500 years ago that Yoga was the quietening of the mind. The literal translation is ”to unite,to join or to connect”. Other meanings associated with Yoga are ”to centre ones thoughts,to concentrate on oneself or to mediate deeply”.
Many Westerners believe that Yoga are just physical postures but it is more about ”a state of mind”. During Yoga practice you begin somewhere known and together with your body and breath you go into the unknown. The more you open your body and mind with postures and breathing the more you experience the wonders of inner stillness.
Hatha Yoga encourages persistent effort and encourages awareness of the body. Every time you are able to be in the ‘present moment’ you are able to leave some ‘baggage’ behind. This reduces stress more and more often . Yoga is like a life training and is a great tool for transformation.
The eight limbs of Yoga
Moral contstraints that control our actions but also our thoughts. Practice non violence, be truthful, exercise moderation , do not steal or be greedy
Rules in relation to disciplining ourselves which include cleanliness, being positive, enthusiastic,self study, believe in a higher power of your choice.
Physical Postures that we practice. The aim of asanas is to purify the body to prepare for meditation which makes us feel joy and bliss.
Learning Breath control techniques
Withdrawal of the senses and the mind can turn inward
Concentration of the mind,prepares for 7th and 8th limbs
Meditation where the mind has one-pointed focus
Trancelike state where the yogi gains control over the mind,creating stillness
is the discipline I studied. Hatha Yoga uses the body as tool for inner exploration. Hatha Yoga aims to purify the body and cleanse the mind. It is achieved through postures, breath control,gestures and cleansing techniques. Hatha Yoga is a gentle form of Yoga, suiting especially beginners using physical practices to achieve the goals of yoga.
Breathing and Yoga
Breathing or Pryanama is where the breath is controlled and this increases our vitality, focus and consciousness. We feel better when we breathe better. See examples of Yoga breathing below: Equal Breath– Releases stress and develops a good awareness of breath. It is beneficial for concentration. It is good for when you are anxious or can’t sleep. Video coming soon. Humming Bee Breath-Listen to the own sound of your breath.This calms your emotions and increases our wellbeing. Video coming soon. Warming Breath– Used during asana practice.Breathe high into your chest rather than your abdomen. Video coming soon.
Mudras are Seals which are gestures that cause an alteration in the body’s vital force. It allows energy to flow into the different parts of the body. Some asanas practiced in a particular way can become mudras such as the cobra, shoulderstand and plough pose. Prayer Mudra– The prayer mudra is often seen in india to great, thank and give respect. Teachers often finish class with the prayer mudra. Face two palms against each other over the heart chakra-try using this between rounds of sun salutations. Chin Mudra– Curl the thumb up against the first fingertip.Keep the other three fingers straight.The thumb represents the devine whereas the first finger represents consciousness.It encourages abdominal breathing. Adhi Mudra -Make a fist by covering your thumb with your other fingers. This encourages clavicular breathing. Brahma Mudra -Make fists covering your thumbs tucked in and bring the knuckles together. Rest the hands,palms up justs under the breastbone. When the knuckles touch,the meridians in the hands are activated. This mudra encourages full breathing.
Meditation and Yoga
For more info on visualisations and meditations, please visit these pages. Examples of meditations used in Yoga practice are Relaxing meditations, 5 sense meditations, Imagery and Sound meditations,for example.
De-stressing with Yoga
Yoga is a great way of destressing -the asanas (postures) are a great channel to physically let go of stress. It gives us space to focus on our body and let go of any worries or issues we might have. For physical and mental fatique try poses such as supported Childs pose, Restful deep forward fold,cross bolster backbend, bolster twist , restorative forward bend and Corpse pose, alternate nostril breething,humming bee breath before finishing off with a meditation. Please visit my new facebook page www.facebook.com/AmaraYogaGalway and get tips,videos and ideas for your Yoga practice! Please share some articles and stories below about the power that is Yoga!!
Healing with Yoga
Yoga for Healing
This section ”Yoga for Healing” is all about how Yoga can benefit your healing journey. Whether you are feeling down, have low energy or are suffering from an ailment or injury: Yoga can help! See below issues and yoga recommendations:
Anxiety– Focus on your breath and try and keep your eyes open. Beneficial postures for anxiety include Shoulder stand, plough pose. Breaths include Equal breath, Humming Bee Breath and Alternate Nostril Breathing. Finish in Childs Pose.Arthritis- Some discomfort is possible in the short term so advice is not to stay too long in postures initially, listen to your body. Limbering postures are excellent for arthritis and also see arthritis yoga exercises. Asthma- Backbends are generally recommended as they lift and open the chest. Other useful postures are Cat, Cobra.Try the Equal Breath and some relaxing meditation. Back Pain-Be gentle and start with standing postures & breath work. Once you feel a bit stronger you can add postures such as slow backbends, gentle twists and seated forward bends. I have a history of back pain and one of my favourite pose is the wide legged forward bend. Cancer-Keep the stress to a minimum and allow for a nurturing yoga practice.Have plenty of relaxation, breathing and meditation in your session. Include postures such as Shoulderstand, Plough Pose. & Restorative Yoga Depression-Stay in the present and keep eyes open. Don’t hold forward bending postures for too long and incorporate back bends into your practice. Try and do a few minutes each day & include a meditation practice that suits you. Diabetes-Twists and Backbends are recommended here as they tone the pancreas. Example postures include Half spinal Twist, Bow Pose & supported bridge pose. Enlarged Prostate-Here we want to increase vitality to the pelvic area so postures such as Forward Bends and backbends such as Bow Pose are recommended. Eye Problems-Use gazing point for all postures. Candle gazing is recommended for those with eye problems.Fatique– Be gentle with yourself, start with limbering postures, then continue with some sun salutations and then add some backbends and inversions as they clear the mind. Finish in corpse pose. Slipped Disk-Avoid forward bending initially and practice backbends within your limits, bring in twists gradually. Allow for feedback from your body before introducing new postures. Plenty of Breathing exercises and meditation recommended as this calms the mind. Hernia– Avoid eating before practice and in severe cases inversions should be avoided. Stress can sometimes be a trigger so daily Yoga practice will help manage symptoms. Hypertension- Leave out postures where head is below the heart. Avoid downward dog, Deep Forward Bend and other inversions initially. Don’t hold your breath for too long and practice plenty of meditation. Once you have established a practice, you will know which postures are suitable for you on any given day. Immune Support-A well rounded yoga practice is recommended here and include corpse pose and Breathing & Meditation in your practice. Insomnia-Involve your mind.Sun Salutations and Backbends are recommended in the morning as these are energizing.At Bedtime focus on forward bends and Inversions. Include Alternate Nostril Breathing and Meditation.
Obesity– If your aim is to shed those extra few pounds, sun salutations are for you. They burn calories and don’t forget to include some standing postures, backbends and inversions. Include breathing exercises and meditation.
Posture-Yoga is very beneficial if you want to improve your posture. Standing postures and those that work on your tight areas are recommended. For rounded backs, do shoulder opening postures, for tight hamstrings practice forward bends.Stress-A restorative yoga session is recommended. Postures include Reclining Angle Pose, Plough Pose, Child’s pose & restorative bolster backbends, twists and forward bends. Wrists & Arms- A balanced Yoga practice is recommended. Some great research has been done on the benefits of yoga and carpal tunnel syndrome. Cow, Crane and Downward facing dog postures are examples of postures.
NB- Please consult with your doctor before commencing Yoga. Yoga practice is not a substitute for medical advice but in addition to it.Namaste!