With origins in India, Yoga is the practice of traditional physical and mental disciplines associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is believed to date back to 900 BCE among figures found in classic Yoga pose
Yoga is probably the most widely known and easily accepted forms of spiritual healing. Yoga classes are held at virtually every health club and often at churches and community centers. The process of meditation and stretching that occurs when one does Yoga is accepted as at the very least helpful in maintaining ones health. It is far more then just a stretching class.
Yoga is a way of life and a way of looking at the world. It is about creating balance in your body through the development of both strength and flexibility. There are certain poses that promote certain physical benefits. They can be done in together quickly or slowly more geared to the perfect alignment of the pose.
The idea of achieving a healthy and fulfilling life comes from achieving the eight limbs or philosophies of Yoga. The limbs build upon each other with only one actually involving a Yoga pose.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
- Yama - The five abstentions are non-violence, non-lying, non-covetousness, non-sensuality, and non-possessiveness.
- Niyama - The five observances are purity, contentment, austerity, study, and surrender to god.
- Asana - This literally means seat and refers to the seated position which is used for meditation.
- Pranayama - Suspending breath, to control the life force.
- Pratyahara - Meaning abstraction or the withdrawal of the sense organs from external objects.
- Dharana - Concentration or fixing ones attention on a single object.
- Dhyana - The intense contemplation of the nature of the object of meditation.
As you can see by the eight limbs there is far more to Yoga then poses. It is actually about a combination of exercise, breathing, and meditation as a means to promote better health. Breathing is the source of life so once one has learned to control and increase their breathing they can then fully meditate.Meditation is not a state of mental blankness, but rather a quiet and reflective mind. This state allows one to reach a higher state of mind and relieve themselves of everyday stresses thereby healing the mind and, in turn, the body.
- Samadhi -The act of merging consciousness with the object of meditation.
Once a higher state of mind has been reached stretching poses can help to relieve tension and illness in the body. Yoga is used to treat what you would expect body aches and pains, but also some things you might not expect like arthritis and asthma.
Illnesses treated with Yoga include:
- Sour stomach
- High Blood Pressure
- Menstrual Cramps
- Sciatic Pain
- Sexual debility
- Keep in mind that Yoga is used to treat, not necessarily cure, the above mentioned ailments.Yoga postures are the process of stretching and then balancing your body in a specific pose. By breathing through these poses one can achieve balance between mind, body, and spirit.
Downward Facing Dog - This position build strength, flexibility, and awareness. It stretches your spine and hamstrings and allows your heart to rest. To accomplish this pose you will need to be on your hands and knees with your wrists below your shoulders and your knees under your hips. You will slowly curl your toes back and push your hips up straightening your legs and arms with your feet and hands pressed to the floor. Your head should hang loose from your shoulders and neck facing down.
Extended Side Angle Pose - In this pose you will strengthen and stretch your legs, groin, and hamstrings. It also opens your chest and shoulders. To reach this pose your left heel should be down on the floor with your leg spread so the right knee is bent so the calf and thigh are at a right angle and parallel to the floor. Your right hand goes inside your right foot and your left arm reaches to the ceiling. Your face should reach up with your right hand. Once you achieve balance with this pose you should repeat it on the other side.
Garland Pose - This pose opens up your groin and hips. To accomplish this position you will stand with your feet a mat’s width apart. Then you bend to your knees in a squat keeping your feet parallel. Your upper arms go inside your knees and your elbows bend bringing your palms together in the prayer position. If you can bring your hands to your heart and open your knees a bit. Relax your shoulders and keep your spine straight. Remain in this position for five breaths and then straighten your legs to come out of the pose.
Lotus Pose - This advanced pose is a Yoga classic that opens your hips. To accomplish this pose one should sit then bend your right knee and bring your right ankle to the left hip crease with the sole of your foot facing upward. Then do the same with your left foot, bringing it up to your right hip crease and turning the sole upward.
Standing Forward Bend - This stretch rests your heart and neck while it relaxes your mind and body. At the same time it stretches your legs and spine. This stretch requires you to stand with your feet nestled next to each other, then swan dive your arms out to the side while folding forward. Be sure to fold at your hips making the hip creases deep and not at your back. Bring your fingertips to your toes and press your palms flat to the floor. Engage your quads, lifting your kneecaps. Your weight should be held slightly forward to the balls of your feet so that your hips remain over your ankles. Let your head hang loose.
Warrior I - This pose strengthen your arms and legs. It also improves balance and concentration and builds confidence. To move to this pose from Downward Dog bring your right foot forward so it is next to your right hand. Then pivot on to the ball of your left foot, dropping your left heel on the floor and turning your toes out 45 degrees from your heel. Bend your right knee directly over your right ankle forming a right angle with the calf and thigh. Bring your right hip back and your left hip forward so your hips are square toward the front. Bring your arms out to the side then up touching your palms together and facing up toward your thumbs, doing a slight backbend. Slide your shoulder blades down your back. Repeat on the other side.
Cobblers Pose - This pose also opens your groin and hips. This sitting pose is accomplished by bending your knees so that the soles of your feet are together, letting your knees fall out to the sides. Maintain a long spine and press the outer edges of your feet together firmly.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose - This pose is said to cleanse your organs. It also opens your shoulders and hops and stretches your spine.
Child’s Pose - This pose can help ease back pain while it gently stretches your hips, thighs, and ankles. From Downward Dog drop your knees to the floor and spread them as wide as your mat, keeping your big toes touching. Bring your belly to rest between your thighs and place your forehead on the floor. You can either stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms on the floor or bring them alongside your thighs with the palms facing up.
Happy Baby Pose - A pose like this also opens your hips and groin. To do this pose lie flat on your back. Bend your knees into your chest. Bend the knees and bring them toward your armpits. Each ankle should be stacked over the knee so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex your feet then hold the outer edges of them and draw your knees to the floor.
Plank - The plank promotes arm and core balance and strength. The Plank is reached from the Downward Dog pose by drawing your torso forward so the shoulders are over your wrists. Your entire body should be in one straight line, much like a push up position. Your forearms and hands should be firmly pressed to the ground, do not allow your chest to sink and press back through your heels. Keep your neck lined up with your spine and your shoulders broad as you balance in this position.
Bridge - This pose strengthens your lower back and abdominal muscles. It also opens your chest and increases flexibility. This backbend position is reached by bending the knees and bringing the soles of your feet parallel to the mat and close to your buttocks.
Lift your hips up toward the ceiling and lace your fingers behind your back, straightening your arms and pressing them down to the mat. Roll one shoulder under and then roll the other shoulder under. Lift your hips further and draw your chest toward your chin with out moving your chin to the chest. Keep your feet parallel and release your hands slowly bringing your upper, then middle, then lower back down to the floor.
Mountain - This will improve posture, self awareness, and balance. To properly do this pose you should focus on aligning your body. Stand up with your big toes touching, then lift all of your toes and fan them out. Place them on the floor so that you have a solid base.
Place your weight evenly on both of your feet so that you feel your calves and feet rooting to the floor. Draw your quadriceps upward so that your kneecaps rise. Rotate your things in and tuck your tailbone, draw in your tummy. Stretch your neck making it long so that it rises to the ceiling while your shoulders slide down your back.
Cat - Cow Stretch - Increases spine flexibility. Begin this pose on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your spine in a straight line that connects your shoulders to your hips. Extend your neck forward all the way through the crown of your head and back through your tailbone. Maintain the natural extension of your neck out from your spine.
Learning to do the above poses may be daunting but the combination of postures along with breathing and meditation has been known to increase your lifespan. It is said that your body will detoxify and he blood flow to your different organs increases with his work. It also helps you to simply become more aware of your body and your mood. This will help you to understand when or if something is wrong with you physically.
There are a few people who should check with their physician before they begin a Yoga program. Those who have uncontrolled high blood pressure, are at risk for blood clots, have certain eye conditions like glaucoma, and osteoporosis should seek professional medical advice prior to partaking in a Yoga exercise program.
On a spiritual journey toward healing you will be asked to focus your energy. You should understand how this is accomplished and why your would do it.
1. Stretch your muscles to allow energy to flow through them.
2. Move your body and joints, flex and extend your fingers and toes, ankles and knees, wrists and elbows. Do neck rolls, knee bends, abdominal twists, and arm circles to move the energy throughout your body.
3. Meditate. Sit in a comfortable spot and center yourself. Close your eyes and visualize the energy of the earth being pulled up to your spine and through your whole body. Meditation should continue for twenty minutes or until you feel complete.
4. Breathe. Focus on your natural breathing rhythm for five or so minutes and allow your mind to go quiet. Once you feel cleared, send out a mental command telling any negative feelings to leave your body. Visualize these negative feelings being carried away from you as you exhale in a forceful manner. Do this over and over again until all of those emotions have left your body.
5. Think clearly on your intent. Energy will flow through to whatever it is your are focusing on. You might repeat phrases like, “my intent is to heal my body” or “my intent is to heal my mind.”
In order to heal yourself spiritually you must be able to let go of anything negative and allow positive spirits to do their work. We all hang on to regrets,guilt, lost ideals as we go through life. We may be angry at someone or something that happened a long time ago or just recently.
All of that negative energy prevents us from reaching a spiritually higher plain. Reaching that plain is what allows us to be free and for the spirit world to heal us mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Healing through Chakras can come from variety of places. You might be surprised to find out that even the foods you eat can effect your chakras and in turn the emotional and physical ailments that are associated with them. Below is a list of foods that will feed your chakras and aid you in being well.