Category Archives: health and fitness

Physical Activity and Meditation for a Overall Health

Health is the real wealth of an individual. Good health does not mean the absence of physical illness but also the lack of mental and social illness. A healthy person can properly survive and easily cope with the difficulties and stress of daily living. Incorporating regular physical activities, nutritious diet, and refraining from alcohol and cigarettes are necessary in maintaining a fit and healthy body. Yoga is a physical activity that has been used in the ancient times to alleviate health problems associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, shallow breathing, backaches, chronic illness, and many other forms of discomfort. Nowadays, Yoga has gone from a spiritual discipline practiced by many in the Far East, into a mainstream exercise routine that has been taught in many gyms around the world. Other researches suggest that yoga may promote relaxation and reduce distress.

A new form of yoga that focuses on a more fitness-based approached has been developed. It is called Power Yoga, a method closely modeled after the Ashtanga style of practice. The term Power Yoga became widely used in the mid-’90s when many yoga teachers tried new ways to make Ashtanga Yoga more accessible to the western audience. Both Power and Ashtanga Yoga focuses on strength and flexibility. The only difference between the traditional method and Power Yoga is that the latter does not require the performance of a series of poses. It took the basics of yoga and and gave it a dose of aerobics to tone the muscles, sharpen focus, and strengthen the heart.

Other known benefits of practicing Power Yoga include:

Improved strength, endurance, and stamina
Tighter abs, legs, and arms
Helps release physical tension
Helps maintain good and proper posture
Serves as a good warm up for athletes
Improves an athlete’s overall performance

Power Yoga is a very accessible exercise. To practice this new yoga method, all that is needed is a flat floor surface, a mat or towel, and enough overhead space to extend the arms. It can be performed by individuals of different ages and level of physical condition. However, not all poses should be attempted by everyone. Proper posture and alignment should always be maintained during stretch or posture to avoid injuries. These activities should be stopped when there is fatigue, pain, or dizziness. In addition, the mental component of yoga is as important as its physical activities. Concentration and meditation should not be taken for granted. Yoga should be done with an open and gentle mind when one performs yoga positions and posture. Impatience, self-criticism, and comparing oneself with others may hamper the improvement of one’s physical and mental health.

Individuals who want to engage in physical activities like yoga should consult doctors and other health professionals before taking yoga classes. Certain injuries to the wrist, back, and ankles may prevent some individuals from practicing yoga postures and positions. Furthermore, yoga should be practiced with care and precaution. Some people have reported injuries that were acquired by executing yoga postures without focus, or by attempting difficult positions without working them gradually or by not having proper supervision. Oftentimes, beginners complain of muscle soreness and fatigue after engaging in yoga. These effects may disappear with continuous practice. Yoga is a great way to strengthen the and body and improve overall health.

Six Branches Of Yoga

Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is the path of Physical Yoga or Yoga of Postures is the most popular branch of Yoga. Hatha Yoga considered the body as the vehicle for the soul. It uses Physical Poses or Asana, Breathing Techniques or Pranayama, Meditation in order to bring the body in perfect health and for the more subtle spiritual elements of the mind to emerge freely. The practice of Hatha Yoga will result to the union of the body and the soul, it aims to make the body perfect and fill it with life force.

Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti Yoga is the path of heart and devotion or the Yoga of devotion. Yogis who practice Bhakti Yoga sees the Divine in everyone and everything he encounters. This lead him to develop love, acceptance and tolerance for all. Bhaki Yoga teaches a person to have a devotion to God and all things through devotion to life and love.

Raja Yoga
Raja means “royal”. Raja Yoga is the path of Yoga that focuses on meditation and contemplation. It is based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga which was discussed in the Yoga Sutra. This Yoga path teaches deep self respect through self mastery. The self here is honored. Raja Yoga believes that the universe exists for the self, giving the self an illusion of centrality which results to self respect and respect for all creatures. Raja Yoga is also referred to as the King of Yogas, majority of its practitioners live in spiritual or religious orders.

Jnana Yoga
Jnana Yoga is the path of Yoga that deals with wisdom and knowledge or the Yoga of the mind. Jnana Yogis pays tribute on man’s intelligence. They try to surpass limitations by unifying intellect and wisdom. Jnana Yoga tries to obtain existence beyond doctrine and ideological controversies by accepting all other philosophies and religion. It also uses an open, rational and curious mind in studying the spirit.

Karma Yoga
Karma Yoga believes that your present situation is based on your past actions. Karma Yoga is the path of service; it refers to the energy of action. This path requires you to be selfless. Performing a selfless service is the essence of Karma Yoga or consciously choosing a future that is free from negativity and selfishness knowing that your life is a consequence of your past actions. Karma Yoga practices try to change your action towards the good – good words, good thoughts, good deeds, in order to change your soul. By being selfless, you change your consciousness which leads to a change in your destiny.

Tantra Yoga
Tantra Yoga is the path of ritual and perhaps the most misunderstood path. Some may think of Tantra Yoga as sorcery, witchcraft, magic spell or some mysterious formula. Most people perceive Tantra Yoga as sexual. All of these perceptions are far from truth. Tantra is the knowledge concerning Tattva (Truth or Brahman) and Mantra (mystic syllables). It utilizes rituals to respectfully experience the sacred in everything we do, not just sex though sex is a part of it. It aims to expand our awareness in all states – whether awake or asleep. Tantra Yoga practitioners must have purity, humility, devotion, courage, dedication to his Guru, cosmic love, faithfulness, contentment, dispassion, non-covetousness, and truthfulness.

Secrets of Teaching Yoga

What you are about to read applies to teaching, in general. In fact, we are all teachers, to some degree. You teach your friends, co-workers, strangers and family members on a daily basis.

The example you set teaches someone in some way. Whether you are a positive role model, or not, people, and the world, react to you. Sorry to say, you have more responsibility than you thought possible.

Do you realize that when you hurt one person, it will set a chain of events into motion? Even worse is that, most violent acts were stimulated by smaller, seemingly unimportant events.

When you talk to your students, always show mutual respect. Don’t take advantage of your position as a Yoga teacher to temporarily feed your ego.

The first thing a Yoga teacher should instill, in his or her students, is self-motivation. The serious Yoga student must be a self starter. This is a person who practices Yoga at home, as well as in class. They don’t depend on their friends to come to class, and they show up like “clockwork.”

How can you make your Yoga students become self motivators?

You must show up to class early, enthused, and energized. Encourage all of your students and sincerely praise their achievements. The truth is, Yoga is like music, you can teach a student the basics, but to be a master teacher, you want to stir the creativity from within.

When your students become creators, you can help them refine their Yoga practice and watch them become self motivators.

A truly great teacher will produce teachers, who surpass him or her; and isn’t “passing the torch” what it’s all about?

Relaxation Exercises For Expectant Mothers

Prenatal yoga is an exercise that is designed to promote breathing exercises, posture and emotional relaxation. This approach is often sought by pregnant women who are preparing for a natural childbirth or who wish to stay physically and emotionally healthy during their pregnancy. One of the many benefits of prenatal yoga is the lack of physical exertion that is required, which makes it a safe practice for many moms-to-be.

During the pain that is associated with a natural childbirth, prenatal yoga will attempt to promote proper breathing that will help to make the process an easier one. In addition, relaxation is essential during the childbirth process and although it can be difficult, prenatal yoga can help to teach women how to relax themselves as much as possible.

For some, prenatal yoga may be sought as part of a spiritual process that helps them to connect with their unborn child and/or prepare for the new arrival. In some cases, prenatal yoga may even be beneficial after the birth as it instills techniques that are associated with relaxation. As every new mom knows, there is a definite need for relaxation after having a child.

For some, prenatal yoga may help women to return to their pre-pregnancy weight more quickly than others. For most, this is a struggle that takes a lot of patience and determination. In general, yoga is an exercise that promotes physical fitness, relaxation, breathing, spiritual and emotional connections, etc.

If you are searching for a prenatal yoga class or instructor, the best place to start is through your physician. During your next visit, ask the doctor if prenatal yoga would be safe for you and, if so, who you could contact for instruction. Most physicians are aware of any local classes or instruction being given and will often be able to refer patients to a class that is most convenient for them. Most women prefer that the father of their child or a friend or family member attend prenatal yoga classes for support and guidance. Having someone familiar will also make the classes more enjoyable and relaxing for the mom-to-be. Before enrolling in prenatal yoga, it’s best to make sure that the instructor is licensed, certified or highly trained and experienced in teaching this type of relaxation method.

The information in this article is to be used for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of, or in conjunction with, professional medical advice. Anyone with questions regarding prenatal yoga must consult their physician for further information.

The Most Important Yoga

With over 84, 000 poses in yoga to choose from for practice, yoga enthusiasts and practitioners might be left confused on just which ones are the most important.

With our daily demands and commitments, most of us might not have the time to perform so many poses therefore we should focus on the one that is of the most benefit for daily practice and that is the Shoulder-Stand (known in Sanskrit as Savangasana).

It is my recommended favorite of the inverted poses. Its ease and reminder that as a kid, you tried it before, makes it one that I emphasize even more so than the Headstand you might be familiar with as they share almost if not all the same benefits without the fear of standing on your head.

Inverted poses reverse the action of gravity on the body. Instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. On emotional levels the Shoulder Stand turns everything upside down throwing a new light on old patterns of behavior.

It improves health, reduces stress and anxiety and increases mental power and also increases self confidence. In addition, the abdominal organs, liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys and pancreas receive a powerful massage helping them work better.

In Sanskrit, Sarvanga means all parts so as the name suggests, it affects all the bodily organs. It stimulates the thyroid gland, balancing the circulatory, digestive, nervous, reproductive and endocrine systems. It is indeed a panacea, a cure all. Obesity and corpulence are alleviated by this pose as well as constipation and enlargement of the liver and the spleen.

It is best practiced with its counter poses in specific durations for maximal efficiency and when planned correctly, the whole sequence could take less than 6 minutes to carry out, depending on your schedule.

Personally, I make the point as a practitioner to incorporate the sequence into my daily regimen with other forms of exercise, but I always place the most emphasis on this one pose for all the benefits above.

So next time when you are unsure of which pose you have to include in your session when you are on the go, make it a point to go for the Shoulder-Stand. Your body will thank you for it.