Yoga Sutras - The Eight Limbs of Yoga Lifestyle

Yoga Sutra – Yoga is not just a fitness tradition, it is a lifestyle. And the guidelines to this yogic lifestyle are prescribed in the Yoga Sutra, penned by Sage Patanjali, the father of modern yoga.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali highlight eight aspects that encompass a yoga lifestyle. These are known as the eight limbs of yoga. These paths address and develop an individual’s moral, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, allowing for a more complete life experience and the ultimate quest towards enlightenment.

The eight limbs of yoga

The following eight folds form Patanjali’s yoga sutras:

Universal Morality and Ethics or Yama – The first limb is Yama. It guides ethical behavior and instills a sense of integrity and moral social conduct in the follower. It preaches compassion towards others and inculcates a message of peace and honesty. To do so, one needs to follow the five directives of yama. These are non-violence, honesty, celibacy, non-stealing, and avoiding materialism.

Personal Observance or Niyama – The second limb is Niyama. The word ‘Niyama’ translates as ‘Rules.’ It refers to the rules that guide personal observance. Observing this limb allows and helps us to build self discipline, which in turn allows for greater personal growth. To achieve this, one must follow the directives of niyama. These are purity, contentment, austerity, study, and surrender to God.

Postures or Asanas – The third limb is known as Asanas. This is one of the most well known limbs of the yoga sutras. It refers to the physical aspect of yoga – the holding and practicing of yoga postures. Yoga postures are designed to address the body’s problem, treating them at the root and allowing for a healthier lifestyle, and maintaining the body’s health. In addition to physical fitness, practicing asanas regularly inculcates self discipline as well as focus and concentration.

Breathing Techniques or Pranayama – The fourth limb is Pranayama. Like asanas, pranayama too is a well known yogic concept. It refers to the control of breath. Breathing fully, monitoring breath and controlling it, allows an individual to develop and maintain good health, physical, mental and emotional. It is a source of internal purification, energy and calm.

Control of Senses or Pratyahara – The fifth limb is Pratyahara. It refers to a withdrawal of sense. Pratyahara teaches you how to withdraw from external disturbances and instead tune all that attention and energy inwards. It allows you to commit fully to your practice without being distracted by environmental elements.

Concentration or Dharana – The sixth limb is Dharana. It refers to training the mind to concentrate, to focus on a single point without constant interruption and wavering in the face of distraction. This is a difficult concept to ingrain. It requires patience and the strength to still and clear the mind. It also helps to develop mediation skills, serving as a stepping stone.

Meditation or Dhyana – The seventh limb is Dhyana. It brings the practice of meditation to the fore. Meditation is a process of clearing one’s mind of clutter and chaos and channeling energy and concentration onto a single point of focus. Meditation teaches the mind to regain control. It also helps the mind on to a spiritual path in the search of a higher truth.

Enlightenment or Samadhi – The eighth, and the last, limb is Samadhi. This is the ultimate path in the practice to yoga, a state of complete and absolute bliss. It involves the ability to transcend the material and earthly ways through meditation and touch upon a higher plane. It allows the individual to connect with the universe.

Yoga Techniques - A Spiritual Healing

Yoga is an ancient Indian tradition. It has been practiced for over 5000 years now. Though the practice is considered to be more of a fitness oriented tradition, the truth is that yoga aims for a balance between the body, the mind, and spirit. It addresses not only the physical aspects of fitness, but also meditative and spiritual balance aspects of an individual’s personality.

The soothing and therapeutic techniques of yoga have been used by yogis for hundreds of years. Its spiritual healing techniques help an individual on the path of self actualization and awareness. It is the stepping stone to accessing and achieving a higher state of consciousness.

Yoga comprises gentle exercise, performed through a series of yoga postures, deep breathing techniques, and meditative practices. It also includes following a yogic lifestyle which advocates moderation, meditation, and devotion.

If you are seeking spiritual balance, spiritual healing meditation plays a key role. Spiritual meditation is the yogic practice of teaching your mind to focus on a single point of attention, in an effort to still the mind and rise above the noise and the chaos. This ability to control the mind, the noise and its reaction, helps an individual onto the path of higher consciousness.

The path to spiritual healing involves personal growth. One needs to face and address ones own traits and behavior. The first step in this process is to be honest with yourself and to face your own weakness. Listing you own shortcomings is the first step to fixing your weakness. Once you know what the problem is, it is time to address them.

Through regular practice of spiritual healing meditation, one can develop the strength to accept reality. This includes ones own shortcoming, and then proceed to finding the inner strength to fix these very short comings. It also allows you to make drastic changes in your life. Sometimes you need to let go of long held beliefs and thoughts. It can take a toll on you emotionally; this is where regular meditation comes into play.

Meditation also helps teach an individual how to control the mind. The human mind is full of noise and clutter. This leads to chaos, poor focus and concentration. It is easily distracted and always drifting from one topic to another. This hampers an individual’s ability to reach his full potential. Meditation teaches you how to control your mind from wandering. It teaches how to hold a still mind, which in turn instills a state of calm.

Regular practice of spiritual yoga meditation helps you perfect the art, and sets you on the path of spiritual enlightenment.

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Yoga for Inner Peace - Control Stress and Negativity

In today’s fast passed time, stress is the silent killer. It affects millions of people every year, wrecking lives and relationships. Stress limits an individual’s judgment and ability to undertake even routine tasks effectively. Stress and anxiety also affect the individual’s health, resulting in life threatening illnesses including heart failure. Finding inner peace and restoring emotional balance is the only way to address stress and stress triggers.

How to find inner peace?

There is a great shortage of inner peace in the world today. Unfortunately, it isn’t something that can be fixed with a few pills. This is a state of mind; one that you have to accept, master and adopt. And this journey is one that every individual has to undertake alone. But how does one find inner peace? The answer is as simple as it is effective: in yoga.

Yoga is an ancient fitness tradition. Originating in India over 5000 years ago, yoga helps an individual achieve a balance between the body, mind and spirit through a series of postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. Although yoga is considered by many as an alternative fitness routine, it is in fact a lifestyle. Yoga includes physical fitness, it ensures emotional stability, instills inner peace and aids spiritual awakening.

Among the many styles of yoga, some are especially designed to cater to the needs of a troubled mind. Yoga styles like Ananda yoga help the mind cope, heal and strengthen. These practices incorporate gentle postures, breathing techniques and lay an emphasis on meditation.

Inner peace yoga works to get the body and mind fit and strong. The simple postures push the muscles into activity. It shakes off the lethargy set in by the stress. You repossess the energy to follow your interests and to follow other positive pursuits.

Yoga’s deep breathing techniques infuse the body with fresh oxygen. This gives the body a spurt of much needed energy. It also brings with it a sense of positivity. It helps the body exhale all the negativity caused by a buildup of waste and toxins.

Inner peace for meditation, the third plank of yoga helps to control stress and negativity. It teaches the mind to stay still, rise above the clutter and chaos and focus on a single point. Meditation teaches you how to control your mind, and as a result, on your own reactions when confronted with an agitating situation.

Using inner peace yoga you can learn how to stay at peace with yourself and the world no matter how stressful the situation. It helps you maintain balance, find yourself and be happy with your own reality.

If you choose to pursue yoga for inner peace, it best to join a class taught by a certified and licensed professional. This way a trained teacher can monitor and guide you through this journey.

Yoga for endurance - an endurance exercise

When you think about Yoga, you automatically associate the practice with flexibility, stretching, meditation and developing inner strength. But you’ll be surprised to know that yoga makes for an effective endurance building routine. Yoga provides multiple benefits to the body, and developing physical strength is just one more aspect among the many that yoga helps you harness.

There is a reason why so many professional athletes adopt yoga as part of their training program. Yoga is a complete fitness routine; it creates a balance between the body, mind and spirit. It helps strengthen the mind and mental focus, increases self awareness and confidence, it also improves overall health, allowing you do better.

Exercise for endurance

Conventional endurance exercises are quick in impact compared to yoga. They also make a major physical impact, making the body appear buff. Yoga strength and endurance exercises don’t have the same visual result, but make the body lean, well toned and strong. Pursuing an intense yoga style, like ashtanga yoga or bikram yoga, can help build endurance just as effectively.

Yoga postures and breathing techniques help develop muscle strength, body posture and alignment and improve overall body strength. The frequency of practice, the degree of difficulty, and how long you hold the posture in combination with breathing techniques, will establish endurance and strength.

Exercises to improve endurance include standing poses like mountain pose, and warrior pose, among others. At the same time endurance yoga doesn’t bring with it uncomfortable side-effects that are common with other exercises for endurance.

Conventional endurance definition workouts like lifting weights can cause muscle rigidity. The repetitive motions of these workouts cause muscle fibers to harden. If this is not addresses, muscles tend to get tighter, shorter and rigid. This increases chances of muscle injury. Muscles also lose their flexibility and as a result range of motion is compromised. The rigidity and soreness you feel is caused by the buildup of waste material such as lactic acid that collects in the muscles. By practicing yoga, or complementing your endurance exercises with a session of yoga, you can avoid this muscle tightening. Yoga for endurance stretches and pulls all the muscles in the body. This maintains flexibility and range of motion and at the same time tones the body and builds strength.

Yoga practice incorporates good breathing practices. This aspect of yoga helps enhance endurance training. The body needs oxygen to support exercises to improve endurance; fresh oxygen is a source of energy. Most people use only a fraction of lung capacity. The result is not enough oxygen supply for the working muscles. Yoga breathing techniques ensure the body has adequate amounts of oxygen to the muscles, strengthening them and improving the efficiency of the workout.

Yoga and Healthy Detoxification

What is Detoxification?

As part of the body’s regular internal functioning, a number of toxins and other waste matter accumulate in the body. These toxins are caused by internal and external factors alike and are flushed out through a means of healthy detoxification. Toxins like carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and lymphatic fluid, among others, are a by-product of the body’s filtering process and are expelled into the blood stream during normal organ function. The body is equipped to handle these toxins and flush them out. To be specific, the body’s circulatory, lymphatic and digestive systems are responsible for filtering out the waste materials on a daily basis. However, at times the body isn’t able to execute this function effectively. External factors like poor diets, unhealthy lifestyles, stress and a harsh environment add to the toxin build up and hamper the systems from performing an adequate clean up. If these toxins aren’t kept in check, they can lead to several life threatening conditions and complications.

For this reason, the body requires frequent detoxification remedies. Incorporating positive lifestyle changes that allow for enhanced body functions helps restore the body’s balance. Detoxification therapy is essential for healthy functioning.

A natural and effective detoxification method is the ancient practice of yoga. Yoga comprises of postures, breathing exercises and meditation. Together these aspects of yoga address the body’ condition, and cleanse it.

Yoga postures involve stretching, compressing, twisting and bending of the body. These movements stimulate the digestive, lymphatic and circulatory systems, each responsible for flushing out toxic waste and keeping the body healthy. Therefore, pursuing a vigorous form of yoga like bikram hot yoga or ashtanga yoga is ideal for the detoxification process. An intense yoga workout also ensures that you sweat profusely. Sweating is essential as it helps the body flush out toxins like urea, excess salts, ammonia, etc., through the body’s pores.

Yoga’s breathing techniques also come to fore and play a role in detoxification. Yoga helps us breathe to complete lung capacity. Most people utilize only a part of breathing ability. As a result, the body doesn’t get enough oxygen, nor does it expel adequate amounts of carbon dioxide. Yogic breathing put more fresh oxygen in the body. This enhances the circulatory system’s purification systems, enabling it to flushes out cellular waste effectively. Proper breathing also helps the body expel proper amounts of carbon dioxide.

Yoga’s breathing and meditative practices help negate toxicity caused by stress, anxiety and depression. Emotional trauma and mental distress lead to an increase in internal toxicity. Through the routine practice of detoxification yoga, you can maintain emotional and mental balance, which in enhances the body’s natural detoxification process.

Yoga isn’t just about fitness, it also addresses balance. Yoga advocated following yogic lifestyle, and encourages you to make positive lifestyle choices. Support your yoga for detoxification practice with a detoxification diet. Exclude unhealthy foods and include fruits and vegetables in your meals. A balanced diet in combination with yoga exercises, breathing and meditation, all help your body purge toxins.

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Benefits of Dream Yoga

There are two basic types of dream yoga. One was developed over a period of time by Dr. Joseph Dillard, who was a licensed clinical social worker. His technique was developed by him during the years of his private practice. He used this technique on many of his clients and gradually improved upon it to give us a technique that many use today. The other type of dream yoga is Tibetan dream yoga, which is another dream meditation technique that emphasizes on mastering one’s dreams.

In both these approaches, there is one thing that is common. Both of these call for using lucid dreams to promote healing of the self and embark on a self-enlightening experience. In the process of transforming oneself through dreams, one often comes across hidden aspects of the self that momentarily reveals itself to the person. These dreams can not only heal but also help transform the life of the people involved. It is therefore important to align the personal goals with this innate form of the self that is revealed in these lucid dreams. It has been seen that people who have taken sessions on dreams yoga, have made better personal choices because they are connected to themselves on a higher level of consciousness.

Some of the known benefits of dream yoga are as follows. According to the karmic theory, our actions decide our destiny. For each action that is of benefit to others, there is a suitable reward sometime in this life or the next. With dream yoga, a person is able to view this karmic cycle clearly and can get an opportunity to see the consequences of karma before the action is even performed. This can help the person in deciding the best course of action in any situation and sometimes change the way a person lives their life.

Dream yoga helps a person to stop indulging in the past or the future and instead concentrate their energies on the present. A dream is never about the past. It is always a depiction of the present. In this moment of the limitless present, the body and mind are both liberated. The approaches to solve problems are many. However, we are seldom able to reach a solution in which the best of all solutions were taken together to form an approach that completely eradicates the problem. Dream yoga helps to reach that solution that gives you a trans-rational perspective.

Yoga Benefits for Women

For centuries, yoga has changed the lives of many people, enabling them to become healthier and happier. While everybody benefits from yoga, there are some poses that serve as excellent exercise for women in particular.

Today, women perform multiple roles, and in most cases, they do not get enough time for themselves. Yoga helps them reconnect with their inner being, making them feel more aware of themselves and their needs. The role of yoga therefore, has indeed been indispensable. The body of the woman has to go through a lot during her lifetime. Apart from the daily wear and tear, the body also has to be prepared for reproduction. This means that a woman has to take care of her body a lot more than men. While there are thousands of exercise tips for women, none come even close to having a revitalizing yoga session.

Some of the most successful and revered women of our time are avid practitioners of yoga. Yoga not only gives women a healthier and more fulfilling life, it also gives them a break from the many demands of their daily schedule. Yoga exercises for women are not as strenuous or energy draining as some of the other exercises that are often performed by women. These are low in their impact, and a woman doesn’t even have to be worried about being too tired to do other work.

The different yoga poses for women help in firming and toning the body, and at the same time, they help you relax. Yoga sessions leave a woman feeling more relaxed and emanating a sense of overall well being. There are also many psychological effects of yoga that can be especially enriching.

For every stage of a woman’s life, there are yoga poses that are appropriate for her condition, and there are many yoga benefits for women. A regular yoga routine can help reduce stress and increase flexibility. With that, it improves blood circulation and nervous healing, benefiting all important organs and systems of the body. There are also various yoga exercises for women who experience pain in their back. These exercises for women can be performed even when they are having their monthly periods. In fact, some of these exercises can help reduce the pain of the cramps and uplift the mood.

Even during pregnancy, there are yoga exercises for women that help them keep themselves fit. These exercises do not cause a lot of strain on the growing fetus. Instead, it makes the organs stronger and improves circulation for the fetus to develop better. Blood pressure can also be maintained by practicing yoga regularly. It can also help decrease the anxiety of the expectant mother. - Guide for women over 40, working together for empowerment and good health.

Yoga for Infertility - an infertility solution

Infertility problems

Yoga is a tried and tested method of healing many maladies. This centuries-old Indian tradition helps to maintain the health of each individual organ of the body. Today, people from all over the world resort to yoga for treating disorders both big and small. Those who suffer from various infertility problems also find solutions in this ancient art of healing oneself. Infertility is a physical problem that has many psychological and social implications. Coping with infertility can often be very challenging for young couples. Yoga helps them relieve infertility stress from the couples’ mind and strengthens the various organs resulting in overall development of the body and an increase in fertility.

Yoga and Infertility

Infertility yoga is a specialized type of yoga that caters specifically to couples who are trying to have a baby but are not able to do so. These poses aim to open up the pelvic region of the body and improve blood circulation to the groin. Yoga also helps to regulate the hormones. The poses in the infertility yoga are divided into cycles. Each pose is mapped on to the fertility cycles of the man and the woman. When they enter the period when their fertility is peaking, different infertility solutions in the form of restorative processes are practiced.

There are various poses in yoga that help stimulate the gonads. These poses help to remove any pent up stress in the reproductive system, including the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other organs, thereby increasing chances of pregnancy.

Yoga for infertility consists of the following poses: Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana), Supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana), Suppported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana), and Reclined Hero’s Pose (Supta Virasana).

All of the above poses help to soften the abdominal area, open up the pelvis, and increase blood flow so that the reproductive organs are rejuvenated.

There are some forms of yoga that help channel a healing energy inside of the body. These also help in improving the mind and relaxing the body so that fertility is improved. Some of these gentler yoga forms are Hatha yoga and Kripalu yoga. While Hatha yoga consists of various poses and postures that help improve the form of the body, Kripalu yoga is one in which there are a series of postures that work towards increasing spiritual awareness. There is also Couples’ Yoga, a newer form, in which the poses are practiced by couples, improving their acceptance of each other and connecting them at deeper and more meaningful levels.

Yoga Poses: A Workout Routine for Men

For a long time, yoga was considered to be a women’s thing. While women signed up for yoga classes all over the world, men still pumped iron and lifted weights to grow more muscular. While all gyms offer some workout routine for men, it is yoga that not only helps in toning body and making you flexible but also helps in building endurance and maintaining good health. Men, especially those who indulge in competitive sports, can benefit greatly from yoga. The particular areas of their bodies where men are especially stiff, when injured, causes a lot of discomfort. The stiffness greatly reduces the chances of healing of the injured areas of the body.

Yoga poses for men have the potential to give a full body workout. These make the stiff portions of the body, like the shoulders and the hips, a little more flexible. These exercises also work upon the often neglected parts of the body like the knees and the lower back. There are not only many yoga exercises for men but also many yoga benefits for men. Here are some poses that can be included in a yoga workout for men.

Forward Fold
This is a bending exercise that helps tone up the calves and the hips, while stretching the hamstrings. Simply part both your feet and stand straight. Now bend your torso over, towards the floor. If you can feel a pressure building up on your hamstrings and knees, gently bend the knees to release it. Now with your hands, grasp the elbows of the opposite arms. Hold this for a minute or two before getting back to the standing pose.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose
This pose helps to stretch the hamstrings, feet, calves, and shoulders. It also works out the arms and legs. Position yourself on all fours for this pose. Your knees and feet should be apart, parallel to each other. Your hands too should be placed on the ground, parallel to each other. Now, putting the weight on your hands, lift your knees and stretch your legs backwards. Lengthen the pose as much as you can by moving your hands and feet. Press your heels on the floor and start to relax your head and neck. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 3 to 5 minutes.

Bridge Pose
This pose helps stretch the neck, chest, and hips, and it strengthens the spine. Lie down on the floor and bend your knees to place your feet on the floor. Place both your palms on the floor with your arms resting along your torso. Now take a deep breath and lift your hips. Stretch your body as much as you can in this position. Hold this pose for a few seconds, and then exhale while coming back to the resting position.

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Yoga Safety Tips to Avoid Yoga Injuries

Yoga has fast become popular among those who are looking to boost endurance, tone their bodies, and simply maintain good health. The various techniques of yoga can help improve balance, concentration, mental acuity, and flexibility of the body. With all these benefits, it is hard to believe that you can also harm yourself in any manner. Although yoga doesn’t really harm you at all, not taking proper precautions while exercising can cause yoga injuries. As more and more people have begun to turn to yoga for healing their bodies, taking proper yoga precautions and following yoga safety tips has become a must. It is important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Below are some exercise safety tips for yoga.

Yoga safety tips

1. Get yourself an instructor who is qualified. Not all instructors are qualified enough to guide you. Unfortunately, there are no centralized institutions or agencies from where yoga teachers get their certifications. Therefore, it is best to do your research before you join a yoga class.

2. Know how much your body can take. It is not wise to push yourself to a point where you feel a lot of pain. Most of the yoga injuries occur due to lack of taking exercise safety precautions. There are safety standards which you should familiarize yourself with. Along with that, it’s always better to exercise some self regulation.

3. Once you find yourself a qualified instructor, make slow progress. No one can master all the basics of yoga in a single go. To progress, it is important to start slowly and give your body some time to adapt to the pace that you have set for yourself.

4. Yoga is not a competitive sport. Therefore, do not compete with anyone while you are performing it. Yoga is meant to relax you and release tension from the muscles. Regarding it as competition can defeat its purpose. Poses need to have form. It is always better to have an incomplete pose with the correct form instead of having a complete pose that makes you uncomfortable.

5. If you experience pain while doing a pose, it is best to stop. When you’re feeling pain, it means that your body is trying to tell you something. If you feel that you are not sure of yourself in a position, you should stop and ask your instructor the correct way to practice the pose. If you have any injuries, discuss them with your instructor.

Yoga for nervous system problems

What is the Function of the Nervous System?

The nervous system is the network of nerves that control all the organs and illicit responses from the body. It is the nerves that allow the senses to work and the brain to coordinate the mechanisms of the entire body.

With so many functions, it is easy for the nerves to get fatigued or diseased and if there is an injury or trauma to the nerves, it can really damage the functioning of the body in many ways. The slightest of nervous system problems may cease the functioning of vital organs. For example, trauma to the spinal chord can cause a person to be paralyzed, or lose the ability to walk.

Disorders of the Nervous System

Today, owing to our lifestyle, our nerves have to undergo a lot of pressures and stress just to keep the body functional. There are times though; when the amount of stress becomes so much that the nerves begin to malfunction. It is therefore necessary to maintain the health of the nerves and to ensure that we distress regularly so that the body machinery keeps functioning without a glitch.

The severity of the disorders of the nervous system varies. Some of these disorders are:
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Bell's Palsy
  • Brain Cancers
  • Brain Tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Headache
  • Meningitis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Stroke
Treatment for Nervous System

The nervous system is a delicate network of neurons and therefore it is important to keep it protected from jerks or traumas. When we work in the same pose for a long time, the nervous system can get stressed. The treatment of the nervous system basically focuses on the slowing of the degeneration of the nerves. The nerves, if once damaged, cannot be regenerated. It is only with great difficulty that dead nerves of a person can be revitalized. The treatment requires taking painful injections or very strong steroid based medicines that have various side effects.

Yoga for the Nervous System

Owing to these circumstances, many have recommended yoga poses for nervous system treatment. Yoga has proved to be effective in mitigating the harmful effects of stress. Not only does yoga help in relieving stress, it also helps in keeping the mind calm and sharp, delaying the onset of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer. In fact, yoga is one of the few forms of exercise that has a direct beneficial effect on the autonomic nervous system.

Yoga incorporates many different breathing exercises and mediation techniques. The deep breathing practiced during these exercises helps to calm the nerves. The process of meditation helps to drown out all extraneous worries and allows a person to calm and center his (or her) thoughts. This goes a long way in providing relief from nervous disorders. Even the yogic postures (Asanas) incorporate steady and deep breathing and help to reduce anxiety and calm the nerves.

Some of the popular yoga postures and techniques that can be used to treat nervous disorders are:
  • Shava Asana or the Corpse Pose
  • Padma Asana or the Lotus Pose
  • Sukha Asana or the Easy Pose
  • Anuloma Viloma or Alternate Nostril Breathing
  • Kapalbhati or Skull Cooling Breath

Yoga for allergies - a therapy for allergies

Allergies, seasonal or chronic, are a real problem. These allergies can affect you in many ways. They disturb your sleep, give you fevers, aches and rashes, and often cause a lot of pain and discomfort too.

The nasal allergy known as hay fever is triggered by airborne pollen. This is a common allergy that many suffer from. These allergies require a lot of medications and treatment and often only give temporary relief instead of the desired results.

More often than not, a weak immune system is to be blamed for allergies. Though some allergies are hereditary, most of them are caused because the body’s immunity is not able to ward off the ill effects. Fortunately, medication is not the only alternative to allergies.

Alternative therapy for allergies

Of late, yoga has emerged as a popular resort for those who are planning to improve their immunity. The benefits of yoga are manifold. Not only does yoga help in creating a balance in life, it makes the body stronger and resistant to everyday maladies. Yoga helps tone up the muscles, exercises the nerves and also calms the mind, enhancing all bodily functions, including immunity.

Yoga presents a risk free therapy for allergies. There are no side effects, no risks and many added benefits of yoga for allergies. Physician prescribed medicines should be taken along with practicing yoga. Together both can help you alleviate your symptoms and strengthen your immune system.

Yoga for Allergies

Kapalabhati Pranayama
This breathing exercise requires you to take consistent breaths that are rapid and forceful. The inhalations are passive and the exhalations are forceful. These help in clearing out the sinuses and the nasal passages, strengthening the lungs and the abdomen. This technique can help remove the allergens that remain trapped in the nasal passages. However, this is an exercise that should be practiced under supervision, for the first few times. If done incorrectly, Kapalbhati can cause a lot of harm too.

Nadi Sodhana
This is a breath used to induce calm in the body. This breathing technique is a balancing one. If your nostrils are not congested, this breathing technique can help your heart pump more blood, thereby increasing stamina and immunity.

Salamba Sarvangasana
This is an inverted pose which aims to open up any blocked passages and drain out the congestions from the lungs. This is a difficult pose to master and should not be held for long.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
This is a pose that requires a back bend. This helps in stretching the muscles in the stomach and the chest. It tends to increase the breathing capacity of the lungs so that with every breath, the heart is able to pump out more blood and increase the immunity of the body.

Remedies For Allergies

Yoga for digestive system - a digestive remedy

What is the digestive system?

The digestive system is a set of organs that help process the food that we eat. It is important for the body to breakdown this food, so that the vital nutrients can be absorbed and for energy of the body to be replenished. The digestive system consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine or the colon, rectum and the anus.

What are digestive problems?

Like any other organ of the body, the digestive organs are also prone to many diseases and disorders, most of which are related in some way or another, to our lifestyle. Though most of the disorders are minor, like stomach upset and nausea, there are others that are chronic or intermittent.

A digestive problem of any kind can upset your schedule and make you feel miserable. A common saying goes that all ailments of the body begin from the digestive system. Usually digestive cleansing with the help of herbs, enemas or surgical tools can keep most of the digestive woes away. However, building a strong immune system and eating what’s right for you can go a long way to building a healthy digestive system. Do not let a digestive problem get you down. There is one digestive remedy that will help you stay away from any digestive disorders and that is Yoga.

Yoga for digestive problems

Your digestive health is affected to a large extent by the food that you eat and the lifestyle you maintain. Yogic philosophy believes that for good health, digestion is extremely important.

A lot of people have found relief from their continuing problems by doing yoga for digestive system. There are many others, who, by the practice of yoga, have prevented themselves from becoming susceptible to stomach problems. Yoga not only helps stretch and tone the muscles of the abdomen, it can also stimulate the endocrine glands to make them work more efficiently. The entire digestive system thus becomes well oiled and functions smoothly to improve digestive health.

Yoga helps increase awareness of the body and its ailments. Though medicines can provide intermediate relief, yoga for digestive system means a lifetime of healthy digestion. It helps you alter your lifestyle with ease, reduce stress and other environmental factors that may cause digestive problems, and helps you attain peace and inner tranquility. Breathing exercises like Anuloma Viloma and Kapalbhatti can help increase immunity by enabling the heart to pump more blood. Stretching poses help strengthen the muscles of the digestive organs. For chronic disorders though, it is best that you to consult a yoga expert and find out what poses would be best suited for you.

Yoga for gall bladder - a gall bladder remedy

What is gallbladder?

The gallbladder is a small pear shaped organ that stores the bile produced by the liver and aids in digestion. This organ is often considered to be vestigial and therefore non vital. Bile is necessary in emulsifying the fats present in the foods that are partially digested. The gall bladder therefore, takes the pressure off the liver by storing and often helping in recycling the bile.

What is gallbladder disease?

If you are wondering what gallbladder disease is, the answer is simple. It is a condition in which the gallbladder stops functioning normally.

The gall bladder, when diseased, can cause a lot of problems in the body. Not only does it cause a lot of pain, but it also affects digestion. One of the most common conditions to afflict the gallbladder are gallstones. These stones may be extremely small or large and can be present anywhere in the bile tract. These stones often have to dissolved by medications or removed through surgery. It is not uncommon to remove the gall bladder completely. For most cases, this is the only gall bladder cure. Other gall bladder issues include a condition named porcelain gallbladder and even gallbladder cancer.

Yoga for gall bladder

Though modern medical science has introduced advanced methodologies to treat gall bladder problems, yoga has time and again proved to be an effective gall bladder remedy. Many people practice yoga for gall bladder diseases. A majority of these people have seen positive changes in their condition. Yoga poses like the Vajrasana, Pavanmuktasana, and Padmasana have helped people get rid of their gall bladder problems for good.

These yoga poses can help in dissolving the gall bladder stones naturally, without you having to get the organ removed through surgery. Breathing exercises like the Kapalbhatti, Ujjayi and Anuloma Viloma can also help you get rid of the symptoms.

Another gall bladder remedy is to improve your diet and substitute your ordinary cooking fat with either olive oil or sunflower oil. Smaller stones can even be removed by consuming a proper diet. For some days, subsist completely on a liquid diet. Drink only water for several days and later start including other liquid forms of food like soups, juices, and broths. Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruit can be included in the diet. The acids present in these foods help dissolve the stone naturally. If you want to eat vegetables, opt for raw vegetables or vegetables that are simply sauteed. Yogurt and cottage cheese are also good for gall bladder conditions. Avoid any fatty foods during this period.

Yoga for ulcerative colitis - alternative treatment

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that is often considered a life-altering condition. This condition affects the large intestines and is often confused with Crohn’s disease or the irritable bowel syndrome, both of which are much less serious than this disorder. This is a lifelong disease that is intermittent and flares up for brief periods while remaining symptom free during others.

This disease can affect the digestion and metabolism of a person and to treat it, a drastic change in the lifestyle is required. For years doctors have been trying to cure this disease however, all that is available are medications that can control the symptoms and alleviate them for brief spells.

Ulcerative Colitis Causes

  • Genetics and Race
  • Environmental Factors and Diet
  • Autoimmune diseases.

Ulcerative colitis alternative treatment

The treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on the severity of each individual case. Initially the goal of the treatment is to induce remission. Later, the medications are administered to maintain the remission. These can provide a temporary relief from the symptoms but even are not a long term option. These medications can also induce the healing of the ulcerated membrane. Yoga however, has proved to be an effective ulcerative colitis remedy.

A lot of people have resorted to yoga for ulcerative colitis. In normal circumstances, you may join a yoga programme especially designed for people who suffer from this disorder. However, when the condition flares up, yoga can be practiced from the comfortable confines of your home.

Yoga requires you to stretch the muscles of your body. It helps you to strengthen your entire body, placing special emphasis on the muscles of the stomach and the back. Both these muscles that act as the core muscles in yoga, can be strengthened by Yoga. Stomach stretching exercises of yoga like Twisting Prayer Lunge, Cat-Cow Stretch, Cobra Pose, Boat Pose, Plank Pose, Side Plank Pose, Chair Pose and Eagle Pose are all poses that help you stretch and tone the muscles of the stomach. These muscles help strengthen the lining of the digestive organs, helping to prevent the stomach cramps.

It can sometimes be difficult to exercise or practice yoga when you have a flare-up. However, flare-ups too can be managed by taking your medications on time. When medications and yoga complement each other, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis can certainly be kept in check. Both of these together can greatly increase the quality of life of a person suffering from this disease.

Yoga for mental health - Tips for mental health

Stress at work, stress at home, stress while commuting—let’s face the facts: every day we have to deal with increasing amounts of stress! Not only does this stress manifest itself in the form of various physiological disorders, it also leads to a host of mental problems. It’s not likely that our stress levels are going to go down any time soon. So is there any way of ensuring that we have a mechanism that can successfully helps us cope with all the stress that we’re subjected to in our lives? Fortunately, yoga seems to hold the key.

Yoga and mental health

Yoga is an ancient disciple that originated in India thousands of years ago. Although yoga is increasingly gaining popularity as an alternative form of exercise, what is still not as well known is the tremendous impact that yoga can have on your mental health. Let us find out how yoga and mental health is related.

Medical science is coming to realize what the ancient mystics knew all along: mental and physical health is closely entwined. If you are not physically fit, it will affect your state of mind. Conversely, if you are mentally or emotionally disturbed, it will have a direct bearing on your physical well being.

Yoga exercise for mental health

Yoga is so effective in ensuring your health and well being because it does not separate the physical from the mental. Yoga targets not just your physical body, but also your mind. How does yoga manage to achieve this unification to ensure perfect all round health?
  • Yoga exercises are not traditionally performed at a particular pace, or against a certain resistance, or to maintain a certain respiratory or heart rate. In fact, the pace of yoga varies for every individual. You are supposed to use your mind to re-connect with your body, and then allow your body and mind to dictate the pace of your yoga workout.
  • All yoga exercises also follow specific breathing patterns in tandem with the physical exercises. This forces your mind to actively concentrate on what the body is doing and thereby promotes mental health.
  • Before commencing any yoga posture, you are expected to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and restore your mental equilibrium.
  • The physical exercises are followed by meditation techniques. These meditation techniques are also accompanied by various breathing techniques. They allow you to shut out the outside world and re-connect with yourself at a very deep level.

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Yoga for migraine - Remedy for migraine

What is a migraine?

Not every headache is a migraine. Migraines are characterized by pain on the temples, face, sinuses, back of the neck, or around the eyes. Migraine headaches are usually preceded by an aura or flashes of light behind the eyes. The pain can be debilitating and may last for up to 72 hours.

What are the causes of migraine headaches?

Although the exact causes are still unclear, it has been surmised that migraines are caused when the nerve ending surrounding the brain get irritated and inflamed. There are different factors that can trigger a migraine attack in different individuals. Some of these factors include stress, certain medications, excessive light, hormonal fluctuations, certain foods, certain smells or changes in sleeping pattern. Women are more susceptible to experiencing migraines than men.

Cures for migraines

As the exact cause of migraine headaches is unknown, there is no medicinal cure for them. However, there are a number of medications that can be administered to provide relief from the symptoms. Of course, since the underlying cause is never addressed by these medicines, you need to keep taking them as and when a migraine strikes.

Natural remedies for migraines

Identifying the factors that trigger a migraine headache can go a long way in helping you deal with this condition. If you know the external factors that trigger your migraine headaches, you can at least try to avoid them. Aromatherapy can also help to soothe the symptoms of a migraine attack.

Yoga for migraine

One form of alternative therapy that can help ensure that you never have to suffer from migraine attacks again is yoga. Practicing yoga on a regular and consistent basis will not only help to provide relief for migraine, it will also ensure overall health and well being. Let us take a look at some of the common yoga poses that can provide relief from migraines.

Sukhasana or Padmasana
The Sukhasana (or Easy Pose) and Padmasana (or Lotus Pose) are the basic seated yoga poses. These poses not only help to stretch your spine, but when performed with the proper breathing techniques, they can help to reduce the onset of migraine attacks.

The Tadasana (or Mountain Pose) is a basic standing pose and also offers significant benefits in the treatment of migraines.

The Bhujangasna (Cobra Pose) not only helps to strengthen your back and shoulders, it also helps to release all the accumulated stress and tension from the neck and shoulder muscles. This is a great remedy for migraine headaches.

The Shravasana (Corpse Pose) is a supine yoga pose that allows you to concentrate on actively relaxing the different parts of your body. This is also very beneficial for treating migraine attacks.

Yoga for the Elderly - Fitness for the Elderly

The United Nations reports that by the year 2030, one in every eight of the world’s inhabitants will be 65 years of age or older. Although the rapid increases in medical science have prolonged the longevity of human life, in order to ensure that the quality of life is not compromised as we grow older, we need to turn towards an older discipline that can help ensure fitness for the elderly. This discipline is yoga.

Yoga dates back to almost 5,000 years ago. This ancient physical discipline was developed in India. Since these millennia, it has undergone numerous changes, and today, it is widely recognized as one of the best methods of staying fit and healthy.

Why is yoga one of the best exercises for the elderly?

Yoga offers a number of benefits that make it one of the best exercises for the elderly. Let us take a look at some of them:
  • Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that does not strain the joints and muscles. This is especially important for older people.
  • Yoga helps to increase the flow of blood to the various organs and tissues of the body. This helps to ensure that the effect of ageing is reduced.
  • Yoga helps to restore and promote flexibility in the body.
  • Yoga breathing techniques teach you to breathe properly and deeply so that the capacity of your lungs is properly utilized. This, in turn, ensures that all the cells of the body receive sufficient oxygen, and also retards the process of ageing.
  • The meditation techniques that are so integral to yoga help to improve concentration and sharpen memory. They also help to reduce loss of mental acuity due to old age.
  • Yoga postures help to normalize blood pressure.
  • Yoga is also one of the few forms of exercise that has a direct beneficial effect on the autonomic nervous system.

Yoga exercises for the elderly

Some of the yoga exercises that are especially beneficial for the elderly include:
  • Savasana (the Corspe Pose): This deceptively simple pose enables you to actively relax each and every part of your body.
  • Sukhasana (the Easy Pose): Usually performed after the Savasana, the Sukhasana is one of the basic seated yoga poses. This pose straightens the spine and helps promote inner calm.
  • Bidalasana (the Cat Pose) and Adho Mukha Shvanasana (the Dog Pose): These two poses are usually performed in tandem and help to increase the strength and flexibility of the spine.
  • Kapalabhati: This yoga breathing technique helps to remove blockages and mucus from the respiratory passage and chest.

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Yoga for upper back pain

Have you ever wondered why your back, shoulders, and neck hurt so much? Well there’s a very good reason for it. Our bodies weren’t designed to sit for hours in front of a computer or to lie down for hours slouched in front of the television. It seems that these days, the only parts of our body that gets any exercise are our fingers and eyes.

The fact is that our bodies were designed to walk upright. To hunt, fight, and forage for food—all extraordinarily taxing physical activities. While our modern day lifestyle leaves us no room for such activities, our bodies are forced to react to other activities that it wasn’t designed to perform. When your muscles are not used and exercised in the way that they were supposed to, they become weak and tend to contract. This is what leads to pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back pain.

How do I obtain upper back pain relief?

Regular exercise will go a long way in providing relief from all muscular aches and pains. Also, when you exercise on a regular basis, your muscles do not atrophy. Thus, you are able to cure the problem from the source itself.

However, if after years of inactivity, you suddenly decide to engage in a rigorous bout of exercise, the chances are that you will not only increase the pain, but also injure your body. Fortunately, there is a form of exercise that you can do which will not adversely affect your upper back and further compound your problems—yoga.

Yoga for upper back pain

The reason why yoga is so effective for upper back pain is because it incorporates gentle stretching movements that not only stimulate the muscles directly, but also increase the flow of blood to your muscles, thereby causing further growth. Yoga also promotes the drainage of lymph, and this helps to ensure that the accumulated toxins in your muscles are expelled from the body.

Yoga exercises for upper back pain relief

Let us look at some of the yoga exercises that can have a beneficial effect on your aching back.

The Sukhasana or Easy Pose helps in straightening the spine and eliminates stress from the body. This basic seated pose can do wonders for upper back pain relief.

The Bidalasana or Cat Pose also directly stimulates the spine, back, neck, and shoulders. It is one of the best poses for obtaining prompt relief from all aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, and back, especially when performed in tandem with the Adho Mukha Savanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose).

The Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose is another excellent exercise for getting rid of all the aches and pains from a stiff neck, aching shoulders, and painful upper back at the end of a stressful day at work.

Yoga for the endocrine system

What is the endocrine system?

Our bodies are walking laboratories with countless chemical reactions taking place at any given instance. It is these reactions that determine how we function, feel, and live. The reactions are caused due to the release of certain chemicals called hormones. Hormones are produced and secreted by the endocrine glands. The endocrine glands consist of the pituitary, pineal, adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid, and reproductive glands, and together these glands make up the endocrine system.

What is the function of the endocrine system?

The endocrine system is what is responsible for all the emotions that you experience, ranging from love, hate, sexual attraction, fear, and anger to name a few. It regulates your metabolic rate and is responsible for stimulating growth at the cellular level. It also regulates blood sugar levels. The endocrine system also directly affects all sexual activity in your body and in women it also affects menstruation and pregnancy. Needless to say, the endocrine system has a direct effect on your health and quality of life. A malfunction in the endocrine system can also lead to a number of diseases and ailments.

Yoga for the endocrine system

It seems that the mystics and sages of ancient India knew a lot about the workings of the human body. Yoga is a millennia old discipline and involves a number of exercises that specifically help to improve the functioning of the different endocrine glands. Let us take a look at some yoga poses for endocrine system:

Sirsha Asana
The Sirsha Asana, or headstand, has a direct effect on the pituitary gland. This gland, which is located inside your head, controls the functioning of all the other glands that comprise the endocrine system.

Sarvanga Asana
The Sarvanga Asana, or shoulder stand, has a beneficial effect on the thyroid and parathyroid glands. These two glands, which are located in the neck, have a direct impact on the body’s metabolic rate, the process of cellular growth, and the secretion of phosphate and calcium.

Mayura Asana
The Peacock pose or Mayura Asana can help to normalize the functioning of the adrenal and pancreatic glands. This can prove to be especially important for people suffering from diabetes.

The regular practice of yoga also has a direct impact on the ovaries and testes. This can help to improve sexual health and provide relief from problems arising from a malfunction in these two important reproductive glands. It is advisable to follow the instructions of a yoga instructor if you have never practiced these poses before.