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Yoga is something different to most people.
While it can increase spirituality. It also has the ability to heal many.
The more vigorous yoga practices are considered cardiovascular exercises. Along with a proper diet, you will be able to lose weight.
The most common reason is to improve flexibility and physical health.
People have been practicing yoga for thousands of years.
It’s about becoming a better version of yourself and getting in touch with the real, authentic you as the brain becomes more uncluttered. It keeps us focused on the present.
Yoga won’t provide untold riches, although the physical benefits are remarkable. The world is already filled with abundance, much of which we ignore. The real beauty of yoga is that it grounds us to the present, connecting us to the abundance that is within our grasp. A better, more fulfilled life is within our reach when we let go and simply accept what is there.
The practitioner becomes aware of tension and learns to release it. Yoga involves a lot of stretching. But, more importantly, it creates balance by increasing flexibility and strength.
Don’t use the person next to you in class as a guide. Or even the teacher. Work the poses in the best way for you. This isn’t a speed contest. And you have nothing to prove. Yoga is a lifetime commitment, not a competition.
Even if you are not used to exercising. You can practice yoga. You may not be as flexible as the next person. But you will get there. Yoga is always a work in progress. And never a competition. While it is a physical practice, yoga will inevitably touch on your spiritual side. It unifies mind and body to become one.
Research conducted throughout the 20th century has found a myriad of physical benefits to practicing yoga.
Relief from Stress
Our lives are filled with daily stressors. And we know that stress can cause tremendous damage to the body and mind. The boss wants to talk, your spouse is upset, the mortgage is overdue. And the kids want the keys to the car. Just another typical day.
Holding yoga poses, stretching muscles, being focused on the presents. And breathing deeply and slowly helps us achieve a state of greater relaxation and harmony. We are able to consciously choose our response to stress. Instead of being at its mercy. Remaining calm under difficult circumstances is a choice. And yoga can provide the tools.
Yoga and Pain Relief
Studies have proven that practicing yoga can provide tremendous relief for people suffering from multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. We’ll discuss its amazing effect on the auto-immune system. And cardio system at greater length in other chapters.
Yoga and Breathing
Yoga combines physical movements with breathing. Slower, deeper breathing can alleviate stress.
Yoga and Flexibility
Since yoga impacts the entire body, flexibility and elasticity from head to toe. It also loosens tight, tense muscles and helps us become more relaxed.
Yoga and Weight Management
Yoga does not burn up as many calories as some other exercise regimes. However, it does increase body awareness. People who practice yoga become more aware of what they eat. And the effect such food has upon their health.
This usually leads to better, healthier eating habits and a natural loss of unwanted weight.
Yoga and Circulation
You need proper circulation for the brain to function, energy, and the growth of cells.
Sluggish circulation can cause nerve and tissue damage, blood clots, dizziness, among other problems.
The thorough stretching in most yoga poses will improve circulation. The Camel Pose described in this book is an excellent way to improve circulation.
Yoga and Cardio Health
For patients who have experienced heart surgery, depression and anxiety can be a natural result. Yoga can be helpful in managing this type of post-operative stress. The specific heart benefits will be discussed in a separate chapter.
There’s No Hurry – Take Your Time
These benefits will take time to achieve. Yoga is not a two-week miracle program. You should see a huge difference in approximately two months. Whatever your reason for practicing yoga. You should notice an improvement in all aspects of your being.
Chapter 2 – Yoga History
For ancient yogis, yoga was a way of life.
It grew out of the desire to attain spiritual goals. And controlling both the mind and the body to achieve this.
They recognized the power of the mind to bring about inner peace. And alleviate suffering by broadening individual consciousness and becoming open to new ideas. They already understood the basics of the mind/body connection.
Old writings describe several levels of being. With increasing knowledge bringing the practitioner to the next, higher, level. It was viewed as a process which for many encompassed a lifetime of learning.
This is the classical period, where the writings Vyasa introduced the all-important Yoga Sutras, which lists yoga as a precondition for a higher existence. For several centuries, the practice of yoga became an accepted practice to attain important personal values. Although it was still far from today’s set of poses.
More meditative, it was intended to help “transcend” human suffering and rise above it. It was also used to broaden, or deepen, consciousness as a path to personal enlightenment.
Up to the 15th century, while the West was in a state of constant strife and war, Eastern Buddhism focused on peace of mind. The difference between a Western and Eastern mindset is becoming more noticeable.
By the eighth century, hatha yoga, a mix of poses and meditation, came into practice. It is the beginning of “modern” yoga as we know today.
This coincided with an interest in Indian culture. As a whole due to the burgeoning spice trade.
Western culture became intrigued by the writings of Swami Vivekananda, a monk who traveled to Europe. And introduced the intelligentsia to Buddhist spiritual writings, especially the 4th century Yoga Sutras, which involve clearing the mind of unwanted thoughts and learning to focus on one thing.
Yoga, as we know it today, became popular in the U.S.
By the 21st century, the devotees of American yoga have increased from 4 million at the turn of the century to 20 million by 2011. This increase in popularity is mainly due to the increased scientific studies of the numerous benefits of yoga. Especially the alleviation of stress. Whether spiritual or not, people want to increase their
While mastering the physical aspects of yoga is important. It is equally crucial not to lose sight of the spiritual benefits. Yoga is more than posting adorable selfies on Instagram.
It was intended to prepare and relax the body for meditative practice.
- You have unlimited potential. The purpose of yoga is to reach a high level of consciousness.
- The universe is filled with abundance. To receive, learn to give.
- Understand the universal law of cause and effect, known as karma. Your actions, whether positive or negative, will be returned in equal measure.
- Don’t resist life’s forces.
- Be clear on what your desires and intentions are.
- Stop struggling and remain open to all opportunities that come your way.
- Know what your true purpose in life is.
Meditation, which will be discussed in the final chapter of this book. Will help you achieve the spiritual laws of yoga.
Chapter 3 – Emotions and the Mind/Body Connection
That is what the Buddhists had in mind thousands of years ago.
But how exactly are the mind and body connected? People who are aware of their thoughts and feelings are better able to cope with stress and life’s adversities. They form better and healthier relationships. Ultimately, they believe in their ability to succeed.
We all face setbacks. It’s how we handle them that makes the difference.
Emotional wellbeing is rarely a constant, however. Unexpected events can lead to depression, anxiety, stress, and confusion.
Losing a job, physical injury, the death or injury of someone we love. Or the end of a relationship can cause emotional upheaval. Even good events, such as a new home, marriage. Or new job can cause anxiety as we face the unknown.
When our mind experiences turmoil, the body immediately responds. As if you needed a reminder, the body is there to tell you that all is not well. The body does that in a number of ways. Such as developing high blood pressure, an ulcer, insomnia, etc. These symptoms are all physical manifestations of an anxious mind. Whether we realize it or not, the mind and body work as a team.
So, where does yoga come into play?
As yoga increases our mental awareness. We become more aware of underlying emotions and thoughts. That allows us to express and acknowledge them rather than keeping them buried. And allowing them to fester. Appropriately expressing negative emotions allows us to deal with them and put them behind us.
When we deal effectively with negativity. We are able to acknowledge the more positive aspects of our lives. Sometimes, we can become so overwhelmed. We no longer see anything good or positive, even if it is all around us. Yoga provides that necessary balance. Yes, work can be stressful. But we see that there is more to our lives than that. This is a healthy outlook that boosts the overall quality of our life when we need it.
A healthy mind/body connection provides us with the ability to cope with adversity. As we become more resilient. Resilience is a skill that can be learned and developed. It prevents us from being victims of circumstances. And gives us greater control over our lives. We can strengthen our resilience through relaxation and developing a calmer outlook.
Both yoga and meditation are invaluable tools for taking greater control over our thoughts, feelings, and our life in general. When we are in control. We sleep better, eat healthier, and connect with others on a higher level.
Our emotional health invariably affects our immune system. As we will see in another chapter. A weakened immune system can leave the body vulnerable to colds, inflammations, and infections.
The myriad of ways that the mind impacts the body became clearer during the 20th century. When repeated studies reveal how stress and emotions can become inevitably linked and connected. Thankfully, modern physicians are taking a more integrated approach to their patients’ health. More are recommending yoga and meditation not only for stress. But for cardiovascular diseases, all well.
Discuss the overall benefits of yoga with your doctor. Whenever the state of your mental and physical health, it can always be enhanced.
Chapter 4 – Yoga, Strength, and Flexibility
Women especially are appreciating a more toned, muscled and strong body.
Increasing bodily strength is important to prevent osteoporosis. And the natural loss of muscles as we age. Strong muscles help keep joints healthy and prevent injuries.
While the benefits of strength training are clear. Some people question whether practicing yoga counts toward increasing strength and muscles. This may be especially the case for athletic males, who view yoga as a “girlie” activity. But can yoga really build strength and muscles?
This doesn’t make them any less effective; it merely means more people. Especially older ones, can enjoy yoga’s benefits. As we’ve discussed, yoga is for everyone.
However, there are yoga exercises that are demanding and challenging. And would be difficult for even a strong male. Poses such as Planks and Warrior require support of the entire body and will certainly develop muscles and strength. These poses strengthen the entire body, not just specific muscles that would get a workout during weightlifting. The poses can be done with small hand weights for maximum results. Thus, yoga can be better at building strength than some other forms of exercises.
Ashtanga and Vinyasas Yoga can increase strength through greater repetition of poses. Especially in the upper body region and legs. In addition, holding poses for a longer period of time. Such as up to two minutes per pose, is a terrific muscle enhancer. Just keep in mind it takes time to build that type of stamina.
But building muscles is an individual goal. How much muscle is enough? For maximum muscle-building, weights can certainly help bring about quicker results. Many people use both yoga and weightlifting for some dramatic bulking up.
Unlike weight training. Yoga isn’t specifically geared toward the physique. It is much more than exercise.
With weightlifting, you can build muscles indefinitely by simply adding additional weights. If you wish, you can build isolated muscles. Such as your thighs into the size of a tree trunk. With yoga, you build strength in a more balanced way as all muscles, big and small, are built up. The emphasis is on strength rather than bulk. Your body becomes more resilient. And allows you to use that strength in all physical activities, such as lifting, twisting. But yoga itself, when practiced regularly, will continue to improve your body and add strength and flexibility.
Yoga stretches are widely known for improving flexibility. Many people believe that you need to be flexible before starting yoga practice, but the opposite is true.
There are three specific areas of the body that are frequently tight: the hips, shoulders, and the hamstrings. We spend a lot of our time inactive and sitting. And these muscles can become quite inflexible through non-use.
Daily yoga stretches will increase your flexibility tremendously as you provide these muscle groups with a real workout. As always, don’t stretch your muscles to the point of pain. Stretch to the limit of your own comfort, and you will soon see the results.
Now, let’s discuss another muscle that can be inflexible, namely the brain. Yes, the brain is indeed a muscle. If you have rigid attitudes, such as that things should be done only one way, you are limiting your mental power. Perhaps your mind is frequently made up about certain issues.