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Want your soul back



Some one described life as the sweetest thing a human being ever received from GOD. And off course he was not wrong at all
, But the new meaning of life has been changed to tension, circumscribed, hell.


In the ancient time people were very happy and full of joy, no tensions, nothing was circumscribed and there were no complaints
From life to anyone, Now the question is why People are not happy now, why everyone has a complain abt life, why People has
Changed? Unfortunately no one know why is that now?

Matter of fact, we have forgotten ourselves in this busy world, we no longer remember what we are, why we are and what we can
Be in near future?

In ancient time people were happy because they were aware of the world, they knew that wat they need to do, they were fully
Known about there time, they knew how to give their time to others, they knew what is the definition of quality time, they knew
What are their priorities, they knew wat they mean to someone.


How they take out the time for some one, when I don’t have time for myself? This is a frequently asked question by all of us from
Ourselves, why we don’t have time for us, why we are so busy with other irrelevant things, have we ever had time for ourselves?
Have we ever thought of giving time to anyone, do we share things with others, do we give time to life to understand us, and do we have time?
To understand life?

Life is not easy to live , but who makes it hard to live , does GOD or smone else , is there any superior power than GOD , or is that we our self making hard for us , who is responsible for all the stress or the tensions , or the bad phases of life , is someone commanding us to make our life hell or demons still exists that bites on the neck everday or night , what is the reason behind this , Who all is responsible for all the things which happens to be bad in our life . Why money is the 1st priority of human rather than satisfaction , why people is more concerned about others life , why they get jealous of everyone else , why we want to be someone else rather than being me ,

All above questions can be answered in just one word NO, a big NO.

Our identity is dead, no longer exits, but we can still gain our life, our identity, we can still get our free soul back in our dead body.


How?

There are various ways to get it back , someone said leave it on god ,smone said give time to others , smone said give a break to yourself
where would be people there would be an idea , everyone will try to tell u the ways to get urself back in the world ,but these people
Also suffering from the same and want to get relieved.

So I believe there is people and one idea to relieve everybody's soul, but what should be that idea?


Remembering god or meditating about it.


When u will ask me I would say meditation is the best way to remember urself and to get to know ur goals of this sweet life .

People remember the god , they pray , they do all those things which god dont want , wat god wants is that he has sent u in this world
to do something , to achieve something , to follow his path , not to pray for him , not to remember him .


We do pooja ( prayer ) since we got to know that god exits , but can we say our prayers made ur free from tensions , free circumscribed
reasons of life , or the scary face of hell . No it didnt anything not even 1 % .


Why i am confident about meditation ,wat is meditation , how its gonna helo you , how its gonna relieve you from stress and tension , is this 100%
or does meditation gonna make me get my soul back truely , is this wat god wants , there will be few questions like this will
come to your mind when u think of meditation .

Most of the people thinks that only few people can do meditation , this statement is fully wrong , according to me anyone can do it


SO LETS START WITH WAT IS MEDITATION OR WATS THE DEFINATION OF MEDITATION :
Meditation usually refers to a state of extreme relaxation and concentration, in which the body is generally at rest and the mind quieted of surface thoughts. Several major religions include ritual meditation; however, meditation itself need not be a religious or spiritual activity. Most of the more popular systems of meditation are of Eastern origin.


I hesitate to use the word meditation. To me, as well as many others, the word "meditation" conjures up the picture of a bearded man
sitting cross-legged in front of an entrance to a cave or high on a mountain top. Climbing the mountain and reaching him is part of
the arduous journey toward self-fulfillment, self-improvement. Once we find him we ask, "What is the meaning of life?" or "How do we
achieve peace in ourselves and our lives?" This all-knowing man tells us the answers are "inside ourselves" and tells us to go and contemplate.
I don't know if that answer was worth the journey .




There are various do's which u can do with the help of meditation Like

Relaxation Through Meditation

Meditating for Life

What to Expect



Lets start with Relaxation Through Meditation :

My preference would be to call meditation relaxation – conscious relaxation, chosen relaxation. These are words that are more universally understood,
more comfortable. Constantly working toward the goal of discovering my own ability to reach a state of serenity, I have learned to meditate.
Meditating is actually easier than you might imagine. Most of us have dabbled in meditation by participating in conscious relaxation. Maybe during an
exercise class or to manage pain at the dentist or anxiety before a test. We start by paying attention to our breathing. The practical effort to focus
completely on our breathing takes our minds away from the "mind clutter" that constantly tries to invade our mind and eliminate feelings that will lead to
a time of calm. With repeated effort the goal of clearing your mind – to think of nothing, does occur and the process of meditation takes on its own energy.
The result is, and I guarantee this, peace, serenity, calmness, eventually opening yourself to new insights.





Meditating for Life :

Too much stress, stress reduction, chill out, let it go, detach – familiar phrases to all of us. Our world is fast, fun and exciting. It is also challenging,
trying, demanding and frightening. These two sides of our lives produce stress, emotional reactions, anxiety, worry and anticipation. Our bodies and minds can
tolerate only so much of any of these. After a while, each of us reaches a saturation point and the results become uncomfortable at best; for some it may be
unbearable, even unendurable.



What to Expect :

With time and faith in the commitment to practice frequently, (daily meditating is ideal), during your meditation time you may "leave the moment." A feeling of
separation exists where the mind is clear, clean and blank. You will still hear sounds around you, but they will not interfere with your meditation.

Sometimes you may weep -- you may not even be aware of what is making you weep. It is your own emotions having a voice of their own. Sometimes you may feel a smile
across your face -- that is contentment showing itself. Sometimes you may fall asleep and awaken truly refreshed.

There is no right or wrong behavior during your meditation. It is your time for you. Everyone deserves this kind of personal attention. This is a self-care activity;
loving oneself! Teach it to your children instead of a time-out in their room or corner. Teach it to your friends, family, anyone who will listen. We can share this
gift and get back as we give. We are all better because of each person who meditates. The peace and joy felt by those who meditate enters the world for all of us as
positive energy. From it the world is a better place. Imagine if we all practiced meditation



No magic pill is available to eliminate these feelings. The reality is, as the wise old man said, the answer is inside all of us. To manage these universal concerns
we must go inside ourselves. Among the steps we can take is the learning and practicing of meditation.


As per Dr. Tom J. Chalko Meditation is :



Meditation is frequently confused with various forms of concentration. The purpose of concentration exercises is to focus our full undivided attention on a specific aspect of functioning of our mind and/or the body in order to accomplish a certain goal or develop a certain skill. Exercises such as yoga, tai-chi, breathing exercises, visualization are all forms of concentration.

In contrast, meditation is an exercise, aiming to prevent thoughts in a natural way, by deeply relaxing the physical body and then trying to keep the mind completely "blank" with no thoughts whatsoever. This state may be maintained for a few seconds or a few hours, depending on your skill. Purity of the mind achieved during meditation is essential to gain access to Higher Self. It seems that our Higher Self does not admit any impurities .

Now look at this

To reach the Higher Self it is best to concentrate on the source of the "inner sound", leading to the "inner light" - a nucleus of the Higher Self, which initially seems infinitely far "at the other side of a long dark tunnel". When we get sufficiently close to our Higher Self, the inner light becomes much brighter than the Sun, and when we are allowed to join it, the bliss cannot be described in any human language. To get that far, we have to achieve a complete purity of the mind during meditation, have pure intentions, and then intensively concentrate for some time on the "inner sound" and "inner light".

The most important role of a spiritual teacher is to show everyone his/her individual way to the Higher Self. Then, it is up to the individual to practice and reach the Higher Self.

From the above, meditation seems to be an essential skill to attain the ultimate enlightenment. There are quite a few techniques for meditation. Most of them use so-called "mantra" composed from a few words or sounds. Mantra is repeated mentally to help us achieve and maintain a "blank" state of mind.

Contrary to popular belief, promoted by people who attract followers and/or charge money to teach meditation, mantra has no sacred "meaning" and no mantra is essentially better than any other. However, regardless of its content, mantra has two important functions, which may greatly assist us in achieving and maintaining a meditative state of a blank mind.

1. mantra is a very simple thought. It becomes very familiar to us when we repeat it in our mind. This thought is used to replace any thought that may come to our mind. Every time a thought comes during meditation, we use mantra to replace it.

2. When we practice meditation regularly using the same mantra (whatever it is), soon we train our mind to associate the mantra with a calm meditative state. This association is called an "anchor" by Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioners. After such self-training, even if we are agitated, a thought of mantra usually brings an immediate calm of the mind. This makes our mantra a very powerful tool to deal with stressful situations in our life, a tool which we can develop ourselves as a result of a regular meditation practice.

When we understand the above two functions of the mantra, it becomes clear that changing mantras may be not a very good idea. Changing mantras may be considered useful only in special situations, for example when we want to eliminate an undesirable meditation habit, preventing us from achieving a deep meditative state, and the existing mantra is identified as related to that habit.

Also it becomes logical that whatever mantra we use, we should keep it private and not tell it to other people. Otherwise we give others a way to control our subconscious mind by telepathically transmitting to us our own mantra. The best teachers will take time to give people individual mantras rather than teach everyone the same mantra.

Mantras are usually composed from alternative vowel and nasal sounds and may contain several words. The most widely known mantra is "ooohmmm" or "aaaaummm", but any other similar word will do when we extend vowel and nasal sounds (home, room, zoom, moon, zen, boom etc..). It is best if mantra is an exotic word or a series of words (syllables) not encountered in everyday conversation.

The posture during meditation is also important. The easiest posture is a comfortable sitting position, with your spine straight and erect. If you lay down you will most likely fall asleep. Joining your hands and crossing your legs is desirable, because you make the bio-energy field around you more compact and therefore more intensive. Sitting cross legged is another good position, but requires some fitness and training. Yet another good position, although rarely used today is a squatting position with your arms crossed over you knees, resembling position of a foetus in a womb.

If you have never tried any meditation, try to find a quiet place and try the following technique:
1. take a comfortable meditation posture, one of the postures described above
2. close your eyes and relax all muscles in your body, including the face. A few alternate nostril yoga breaths is very helpful at the beginning of this stage - breathing in through one nostril and breathing out through another, closing nostrils with fingers and altering closed nostril with each breath.
3. disregard any thought as it comes - do not continue a kaleidoscope of thoughts - continue this for 20 minutes or so, maintaining your mind blank. You can use a mental sound "ooooohhmmm" (a mantra) every time you have a thought. Alternatively you may keep counting thoughts, discarding each one as it comes, without analysing it. When you go down to 2 or 3 thoughts in 5 minutes, you meditate successfully.

With practice you should be able to attain a blank mind anytime and anywhere, even in a crowd of people or a stressful situation with the help of your mantra. But do not use the mantra when stressed, until you are positive that you practice meditation long enough and the thought of mantra is firmly associated with your state of a calm mind.

One of many benefits of meditation is that it opens your mind to new ideas. When the bowl is full, trying to pour more water into it just causes an overflow. The same happens with our mind. When it is full of thoughts, there is no room for new ideas.

Meditation is a very effective technique for improving your creativity and problem solving capacity. "Talented" people do it naturally. Artists and poets call it "inspiration". Many famous people such as Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison were known to have practised various forms of meditation.

Meditation is sometimes described as "listening to the silence between thoughts". Our effort in meditation is directed towards consciously increasing the periods of such silence.

The ability to meditate is also a necessary condition to receive telepathic transmissions, including those from Higher Self and other people who may try to assist us. Without a true silence in your own thoughts, you cannot listen to thoughts of others.

Before meditation you may wish to define clearly what do you want to learn, what do you want to ask your Higher Self. During the meditation, do not expect an answer (although it is likely that it will come when your mind will be pure) - this is also a thought!

People who practice meditation on the regular basis look and feel typically 10 or even 15 years younger than other people at their age. Giving the mind a regular "break" and allowing our Nature to perform self-repairs everyday makes all the difference. Self-healing and rejuvenation seems to be within reach of everyone who is prepared to learn meditation and meditate regularly everyday.




Lets move to Types of Meditation

Concentrative meditation

Mindfulness meditation


Concentrative meditation

Concentrative meditation focuses the attention on the breath, an image, or a sound (mantra), in order to still the mind and allow a greater awareness and clarity to emerge. This is like a zoom lens in a camera; we narrow our focus to a selected field.
The simplest form of concentrative meditation is to sit quietly and focus the attention on the breath. Yoga and meditation practitioners believe that there is a direct correlation between one's breath and one's state of the mind. For example, when a person is anxious, frightened, agitated, or distracted, the breath will tend to be shallow, rapid, and uneven. On the other hand, when the mind is calm, focused, and composed, the breath will tend to be slow, deep, and regular. Focusing the mind on the continuous rhythm of inhalation and exhalation provides a natural object of meditation. As you focus your awareness on the breath, your mind becomes absorbed in the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation. As a result, your breathing will become slower and deeper, and the mind becomes more tranquil and aware.



Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation , according to Dr. Borysenko, "involves opening the attention to become aware of the continuously passing parade of sensations and feelings, images, thoughts, sounds, smells, and so forth without becoming involved in thinking about them." The person sits quietly and simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind, not reacting or becoming involved with thoughts, memories, worries, or images. This helps to gain a more calm, clear, and non-reactive state of mind. Mindfulness meditation can be likened to a wide-angle lens. Instead of narrowing your sight to a selected field as in concentrative meditation, here you will be aware of the entire field.



How Meditation Works


Studies have shown that meditation (in particular, research on Transcendental Meditation, a popular form of meditation practiced in the West for the past thirty years), can bring about a healthy state of relaxation by causing a generalized reduction in multiple physiological and biochemical markers, such as decreased heart rate, decreased respiration rate, decreased plasma cortisol (a major stress hormone), decreased pulse rate, and increased EEG (electroencephalogram) alpha, a brain wave associated with relaxation. Research conducted by R. Keith Wallace at U.C.L.A. on Transcendental Meditation, revealed that during meditation, the body gains a state of profound rest. At the same time, the brain and mind become more alert, indicating a state of restful alertness. Studies show that after TM, reactions are faster, creativity greater, and comprehension broader.
A laboratory study of practitioners of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's transcendental meditation (TM), carried out by Benson and Wallace at Harvard Medical School towards the end of the 1960s, provided the first detailed knowledge of the many physiological changes that go with meditation.
Some of the meditators, whose ages ranged from seventeen to forty-one, had been meditating only a few weeks, others for several years. All recorded changes associated with deep relaxation.
The fall in metabolic rate was the most striking discovery. This was indicated by a dramatic drop in oxygen consumption within a few minutes of starting meditation. Consumption fell by up to twenty per cent below the normal level; below that experienced even in deep sleep. Meditators took on average two breaths less and one litre less air per minute. The meditators' heart rate was several beats less per minute.
During meditation, blood pressure stayed at 'low levels', but fell markedly in persons starting meditation with abnormally high levels.
The meditators' skin resistance to an electrical current was measured. A fall in skin resistance is characteristic of anxiety and tension states; a rise indicates increased muscle relaxation. The finding was that though meditation is primarily a mental technique, it soon brings significantly improved muscle relaxation.
Meditation reduces activity in the nervous system. The parasympathetic branch of the autonomic or involuntary nervous system predominates. This is the branch responsible for calming us.
During anxiety and tension states there is a rise in the level of lactate in the blood. Lactate is a substance produced by metabolism in the skeletal muscles. During meditation blood lactate levels decreased at a rate four times faster than the rate of decrease in non-meditators resting lying on their backs or in the meditators themselves in pre-meditation resting.
The likely reason for the dramatic reduction in lactate production by meditators was indicated when further studies of meditators showed an increased blood flow during. Benson and Wallace found that there was a thirty-two per cent increase in forearm blood flow. Lactate production in the body is mainly in skeletal muscle tissue; during meditation the faster circulation brings a faster delivery of oxygen to the muscles and less lactate is produced.
The two investigators summed up the state produced by their meditating subjects as wakeful and hypometabolic. The physiological changes were different in many ways from those found in sleeping people or those in hypnotic trance states. Meditation, they said, produces 'a complex of responses that marks a highly relaxed state'. Moreover, the pattern of changes they observed in meditators suggested an integrated response, mediated by the central nervous system.
"Through meditation we can learn to access the relaxation response (the physiological response elicited by meditation) and to be aware of the mind and the way our attitudes produce stress," says Dr. Borysenko, author of 'Minding the Body, Mending the Mind". "In addition, by quieting the mind, meditation can also put one in touch with the inner physician, allowing the body's own inner wisdom to be heard."
Taoists believe that the mind of emotions is governed by the Fire energy of the heart. When your emotions are not controlled, the fire energy of the heart flares upwards, wastefully burning up energy and clouding the mind. The mind of intent, or willpower, is controlled by the Water energy of the kidneys. When unattended, the water energy flows down and out through the sexual organs, depleting essence and energy and weakening the spirit. Taoists believe that when you are 'sitting still, doing nothing', as in meditation, the flow of Fire and Water are reversed: Water energy from the kidneys and sacrum is drawn up to the head via the Central and Governing channels, while emotional Fire energy from the heart is drawn down into the Lower Elixir Field in the abdomen, where it is refined and transformed and enters general circulation through the energy channels. On the spiritual/mental level, this internal energy alchemy enables the mind of intent (Water) to exert a calming, cooling, controlling influence over the mind of emotion (Fire).


Healing Power of Meditation


Research has shown that Meditation can contribute to an individual's psychological and physiological well-being. This is accomplished as Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes the healing state.
As discussed in the section "How Meditation Work?", there is scientific evidence that Meditation can reduce blood pressure and relieve pain and stress. When used in combination with biofeedback, Meditation enhances the effectiveness of biofeedback.
Patricia Norris, Ph.D., Director of the Biofeedback and Psychophysiology Clinic at the Menninger Foundation, reports: "In our practice at Menninger we use meditative techniques to enhance immune functioning in cancer, AIDS, and autoimmune patients. We also use meditation in conjunction with neuro-feedback to normalize brain rhythms and chemistry in alcohol and drug addiction, as well as other addictive conditions. Almost all of our patients use meditative techniques in learning self-regulation for disorders such as anxiety and hypertension, and for stress management. We consider meditation a recommended practice for anyone seeking high-level wellness."
In addition to the growing body of research literature on meditation, physicians, psychotherapists, and other professionals are increasingly adding meditative techniques to their practice. Over six thousand physicians have begun the practice of Transcendental Meditation and regularly recommend the TM technique to their patients. Dean Ornish, M.D has demonstrated that heart disease can be reversed with a comprehensive program that includes meditations. Many physicians consider meditation a key element of an integrated health program.


Benefits of Meditation

Physical Benefits
·

Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
·

Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate-two chemicals associated with stress.
·

Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage. They are now thought to be a major factor in aging and in many diseases.
·

Decreased high blood pressure.
·

Higher skin resistance. Low skin resistance is correlated with higher stress and anxiety levels.
·

Drop in cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease.
·

Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing. This has been very helpful to asthma patients.
·

Younger biological age. On standard measures of aging, long-term Transcendental Meditation (TM) practitioners (more than five years) measured 12 years younger than their chronological age.
·

Higher levels of DHEAS in the elderly. An additional sign of youthfulness through Transcendental Meditation (TM); lower levels



Psychological Benefits
·

Increased brain wave coherence. Harmony of brain wave activity in different parts of the brain is associated with greater creativity, improved moral reasoning, and higher IQ.
·

Decreased anxiety.
·

Decreased depression.
·

Decreased irritability and moodiness.
·

Improved learning ability and memory.
·

Increased self-actualization.
·

Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
·

Increased happiness.
·

Increased emotional stability.



Health Conditions That Are Benefited By Meditation


Drug Addiction
The Transcendental Meditation technique has proven to be a successful coping strategy in helping to deal with drug addiction," a useful tool in psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) by helping to control the immune system, and an effective manager of stress and pain.
Prolonging Life Expectancy
A strong link has also been established between the practice of TM and longevity. Only two factors have been scientifically determined to actually extend life: caloric restriction and lowering of the body's core temperature. Meditation has been shown to lower core body temperature.
Stress Control
Most of the people who get on meditation do so because of its beneficial effects on stress. Stress refers to any or all the various pressures experienced in life. These can stem from work, family, illness, or environment and can contribute to such conditions as anxiety, hypertension, and heart disease. How an individual sees things and how he or she handles them makes a big difference in terms of how much stress he or she experiences.
Research has shown that hormones and other biochemical compounds in the blood indicative of stress tend to decrease during TM practice. These changes also stabilize over time, so that a person is actually less stressed biochemically during daily activity.
This reduction of stress translates directly into a reduction of anxiety and tension. Literally dozens of studies have shown this.
Pain Management:
Chronic pain can systematically erode the quality of life. Although great strides are being made in traditional medicine to treat recurring pain, treatment is rarely as simple as prescribing medication or surgery.
Anxiety decreases the threshold for pain and pain causes anxiety. The result is a vicious cycle. Compared with people who feel relaxed, those under stress experience pain more intensely and become even more stressed, which aggravates their pain. Meditation breaks this cycle.
Childbirth preparation classes routinely teach pregnant women deep breathing exercises to minimize the pain and anxiety of labor. Few call it breath meditation, but that's what it is.
Meditative techniques are also a key element in the Arthritis self-help Course at Stanford University. More than 100,000 people with arthritis have taken the 12-hour course and learned meditation-style relaxation exercises as part of a comprehensive self-care program. Graduates report a 15 to 20 percent reduction in pain.
In one study overseen by Dr. Kabat-Zinn, 72 percent of the patients with chronic pain conditions achieved at least a 33 percent reduction after participating in an eight-week period of mindful meditation, while 61 -percent of the pain patients achieved at least a 50 percent reduction. Additionally, these people perceived their bodies as being 30 percent less problematic, suggesting an overall improvement in self-esteem and positive views regarding their bodies.
Meditation may not eliminate pain, but it helps people cope more effectively.
Cancer and Other Chronic Illness
Meditation and other approaches to deep relaxation help center people so they can figure out how they'd like to handle the illness and proceed with life. Dr. Ainslie Meares, an Australian psychiatrist who uses meditation with cancer patients, studied seventy-three patients who had attended at least twenty -sessions of intensive meditation, and wrote: "Nearly all such patients can expect significant reduction of anxiety and depression, together with much less discomfort and pain. There is reason to expect a 10 percent chance of quite remarkable slowing of the rate of growth of the tumor, and a 50 percent chance of greatly improved quality of life."
Heart disease.
Meditation is a key component of Ornish therapy, the only treatment scientifically proven to reverse heart disease.
High blood pressure.
As soon as Dr. Benson learned that TM reliably reduced blood pressure in meditators, he taught the relaxation response to 36 people with moderately elevated blood pressure. After several weeks of practice, their average blood pressure declined significantly, reducing their risk of stroke and heart attack.
Infertility
Couples dealing with infertility may become depressed, anxious and angry. To help them cope, Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Mind/Body Medical Institute, taught the relaxation response to one group of infertile couples. Compared with a similar group of infertile couples who did not learn deep relaxation, the meditators experienced less distress-and were more likely to get pregnant.
Psoriasis:
This disease causes scaly red patches on the skin. A pilot study at Dr. Kabat-Zinn's clinic suggests that compared with the skin patches of people with psoriasis who receive only standard medical therapy, the skin patches of those who also meditate clear up more quickly.
Respiratory crises
Asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) all restrict breathing and raise fears of suffocation, which in turn makes breathing even more difficult. Studies at Dr. Kabat-Zinn's clinic show that when people with these respiratory conditions learn breath meditation, they have fewer respiratory crises.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Tension Headaches
Meditation can ease physical complaints such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), tension headaches and other common health problems.
Meditation gives people a psychological buffer so that life's hectic pace doesn't knock them out. Practicing meditation is like taking a vacation once or twice a day. When you nurture yourself, you accrue tremendous spin-off benefits.
For example, when you are under high stress, it can worsen symptoms of PMS because stress can cause the muscle tension associated with PMS complaints such as fatigue, soreness and aching. On the other hand, when you meditate regularly, you dramatically reduce your body's response to stress, and that can ease the discomfort associated with PMS. The results may not be apparent for several months. You will probably need to meditate regularly for several months before your body responds positively.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcers, and Insomnia
Meditation can also improve irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and insomnia, among other stress-related conditions. Eighty percent of the people who use meditation to relieve insomnia are successful.
Meditation can help prevent or treat stress-related complaints such as anxiety, headaches and bone, muscle and joint problems. Meditation also provides an inner sense of clarity and calm, and that, in itself, may help ward off certain illnesses.
Fibromyalgia
According to one study, meditation may relieve the discomfort of fibromyalgia, a condition that causes fatigue and intensely painful "trigger points." When 77 men and women with fibromyalgia followed a ten-week stress-reduction program using meditation, all reported that their symptoms improved. And half described their improvements as "moderate to marked."


Psychological Benefits of Meditation


Meditation can help most people feel less anxious and more in control. The awareness that meditation brings can also be a source of personal insight and self-understanding.
Handling Repressed Memories and Enjoying Life:
Dr. Borysenko notes that "meditation may lead to a breakdown of screen memories so that early childhood abuse episodes and other traumas suddenly flood the mind, making the patient temporarily more anxious until these traumas are healed. Many so-called meditation exercises are actually forms of imagery and visualization that are extraordinarily useful in healing old traumas, confronting death anxieties, finishing 'old business', learning to forgive, and enhancing self-esteem."
"Meditation frees persons from tenacious preoccupation with the past and future and allows them to fully experience life's precious moments", says Daeja Napier, founder of the Insight Meditation Center and lay dharma teacher of insight meditation in suburban Boston.
"Many men and women tend to live in a state of perpetual motion and expectation that prevents them from appreciating the gifts that each moment gives us," says Napier. "We live life in a state of insufficiency, waiting for a mother to love us, for a father to be kind to us, for the perfect job or home, for Prince Charming to come along or to become a perfect person. It's a mythology that keeps us from being whole.
"Meditation is a humble process that gently returns us to the now of our lives and allows us to wake up and re-evaluate the way that we live our lives," says Napier. "We realize that the only thing missing is mindfulness, and that's what we practice."
Depression:
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and isolation are hallmarks of depression-the nation's most prevalent mental health problem. Meditation increases self-confidence and feelings of connection to others. Many studies have shown that depressed people feel much better after eliciting the relaxation response.
Panic attacks:
Sometimes anxiety becomes paralyzing and people feel (wrongly) that they are about to suffer some horrible fate. Panic attacks are often treated with drugs, but studies by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester and director of the medical center's Stress Reduction Clinic, show that if people who are prone to panic attacks begin focused, meditative breathing the instant they feel the first signs of an episode, they are less likely to have a full-blown panic attack.


Spiritual Benefits of Meditation

The longer an individual practices meditation, the greater the likelihood that his or her goals and efforts will shift toward personal and spiritual growth. Many individuals who initially learn meditation for its self-regulatory aspects find that as their practice deepens they are drawn more and more into the realm of the "spiritual."
In her work with many cancer and AIDS patients, Dr. Borysenko has observed that many are most interested in meditation as a way of becoming more attuned to the spiritual dimension of life. She reports that many die "healed," in a state of compassionate self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Illness in general:
"It doesn't seem to matter what type of medical condition brings people to the Stress Reduction Clinic," Dr. Kabat-Zinn observes. "Over the eight-week program, they usually report a reduction in symptoms."
Many of Nature's cures - acupressure, aromatherapy, biofeedback, exercise, heat and cold therapies, massage therapy, music therapy, tai chi and chi gong, visualization, guided imagery and self-hypnosis and yoga incorporate elements of meditation.



Meditation
Diagnosis, Prescription, Warnings and Precautions
Each aspect of meditation has its powers of healing; many have specific uses and, unquestionably, particular dangers and drawbacks for certain individuals. The diagnosis and prescription of meditative practices for the many varieties of ailments is an art that has received far less attention than it deserves.
In general, concentrative practices should be avoided by individuals whose reality-testing function is poor, who are strongly paranoid, or who are likely to develop delusions of grandeur from the altered states of consciousness that these practices tend to produce. People with overwhelming anxiety should probably avoid insight meditations, in which the anxiety level can reach intolerable proportions. Long periods of meditative practice (as in contemplative meditation) may precipitate psychotic episodes in susceptible individuals.
Probably the safest course for those in the healing professions is to experiment with meditation practices for themselves, and then to share with clients and friends only those which they thoroughly understand. Also, in monitoring the meditation practices, the professional should bring to bear all the available tools available in evaluating the gain or the danger, regardless of the exotic or "sacred" origin of the techniques being studied. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives Arjuna some timeless advice that is relevant here: "Fear not, Arjuna, for what is Real always was and always will be, and what is not Real never was and never will be."


MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
There are many meditation techniques. Some of the techniques are quite simple and can be picked up with a little practice. Others require training by an experienced instructor. We will cover some of the simple techniques to get started. Please note that because of the effects of meditation on repressed memories and the psychological impact, you may go through some discomfort initially; hence it is always a good idea to be under the care of a qualified practitioner as you start your meditation. (See the section on Warnings and Precautions).
In Christian spiritual training, meditation means thinking with concentration about some topic. In the Eastern sense, meditation may be viewed as the opposite of thinking about a topic. Here the objective is to become detached from thoughts and images and opening up silent gaps between them. The result is a quietening of our mind and is sometimes called relaxation response. In Christian mystical practice, this practice is called 'contemplation'.
When we look at the basic psychological procedure at the heart of Eastern meditation and Christian contemplation, we can understand why the following activities are relaxing:



Prayer

Lying back and listening to music on radio or record player

Focusing attention, while sitting still, on a fishing rod float; rapt gazing at a loved person, object, or scene

Fireside contemplation

All these activities, and many more, involve staying still and passive attention to something.


Four Elements Basic To Traditional Meditation


There are four elements basic to most traditional meditation. These elements are

A quiet place to meditate,

A comfortable or poised posture,

An object for attention-awareness to dwell upon,

A passive attitude.

A quiet place
The best environment for the practice of meditation is similar to that most conducive to lying down or sitting to progressively relax the body muscles. Sit in a quiet place with minimum distractions. Later, you may be able to meditate well in places where more is going on: launderettes, railway stations, doctors' or dentists' waiting rooms, on trains and buses, and so on.
A comfortable or poised posture
Assuming a certain posture has been central to many meditation techniques. Classic postures, integral to Hatha Yoga, are given in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which codify ancient yogic healing practices. Other postures appear in the Kum Nye holistic healing system of Tibet, in Islamic prayer, and in Gurdjieff movements. Posture is considered very important in Zen Buddhist practice.
A major characteristic of prescribed meditation postures in many traditions is that the spine is kept straight. This is true in Hindu and Buddhist yogas, in the Christian attitude of kneeling prayer, in the Egyptian sitting position, and in the Taoist standing meditation, "embracing the pillar." People with misalignments may feel uncomfortable in the beginning when assuming these postures. The spine is put back into a structurally sound line, and the weight of the body distributed around it in a balanced pattern in which gravity, not muscular tension, is the primary influence. It is possible, although it has not been conclusively proven, that this postural realignment affects the state of mind.
A sitting posture is better for meditation than lying down. This is because lying down is the normal sleep position and meditation lying down could easily lead to sleep. If you are not a person who easily goes to sleep during the day, you may like to meditate in a semi-reclining position on a sofa or large armchair with the back of your head supported. In traditional meditation postures, however, the back is normally kept erect, though not rigidly upright. This is called poised posture. The right attitude for meditation may itself be described as poised: alert yet also relaxed. Poised posture promotes the right state of attention-awareness for successful meditation.
In the East, the cross-legged postures, with head and back in vertical line, are considered ideal for meditation. In classic Lotus posture, the legs are crossed with feet on thighs, and imparts the right feeling of poised sitting for meditation. These postures are difficult and even painful at first for those who are not familiar with them. We will describe two traditional oriental postures, viz., half lotus and lotus posture and an easier posture called Burmese posture. For those who prefer to do the meditation sitting on a chair, we will describe a posture called Egyptian posture.



An object to dwell upon
In Hindu Yoga the object the attention dwells on is often a mantra, usually a Sanskrit word or syllable. In Buddhism the focus for bare attention is often the meditator's own breathing. Both mantra meditation and awareness of breathing fulfill all the elements required for meditating for relaxation.
Some meditation methods involve looking at objects with open eyes, but in others, the subjects close their eyes which makes relaxation easier to induce.
Instructors in transcendental meditation make much of each person being given a mantra that suits his or her nervous system, but there does not appear to be any scientific support for this. Any technique used with any sound or phrase or prayer or mantra has been found to bring forth the same physiologic changes noted during Transcendental Meditation.
There is much to be said for choosing either a neutral word or a meaningless sound for mantra meditation. Some people, however, like to use a word like 'peace' which has relaxing associations. This is all right provided the word does not set off trains of associative thought. In this type of meditation the single thought-sound has the effect of quietening the mind; Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says that the thought-sound takes the meditator to the source of thought. Studies of the brain wave patterns of meditators indicate that the deepest relaxation results when thoughts are absent, or few and of no importance.
If you make awareness of breathing your single meditation method, let your attention dwell on the gentle rise of your abdomen in diaphragmatic-abdominal breathing. Your breathing becomes very quiet and even after several minutes of meditation and the gentle movement and rhythm of abdominal breathing promotes relaxation.
A passive attitude or poised awareness
This last element of meditation for relaxation is said to be the most essential. It is sometimes called poised awareness or attention-awareness because in it relaxation and alertness are in perfect balance. There is nothing exotic about it: you were passively aware when you let go from tension in the muscles of your arms, legs, trunk, and face.
A passive attitude means that distractions from environmental sounds, skin tingles etc., and the inevitable intrusion into the mind of thoughts and images are viewed casually and detachedly. Let them come and go, of no more consequence than small clouds passing across an expanse of sky. But each time you become aware that your attention has slipped away from the mantra or the sensation of abdominal breathing, and you are engaging in a chain of logical thinking or developing interest in some sounds or other sensations, bring your attention and awareness back to the meditation object.
It is really very simple, as long as you keep a relaxed attitude going. Don't force, and don't cling. With practice, moments of great calm and deep restfulness during meditation will become more frequent.




MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
SIMPLE MEDITATION


This meditation process is good to induce relaxation response. Plan to make meditation a regular part of your daily routine. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes each day at the same time, if possible. Before breakfast is a good time.


Choose a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed by other people or by the telephone

Sit quietly in a comfortable position. Refer to the section on postures for recommendations on sitting positions.

Eliminate distractions and interruptions during the period you'll be meditating.

Commit yourself to a specific length of time and try to stick to it

Pick a focus word or short phrase that's firmly rooted in your personal belief system. A non-religious person might choose a neutral word like one, peace, or love. Others might use the opening words of a favorite prayer from their religion such as 'Hail Mary full of Grace', "I surrender all to you", "Hallelujah", "Om", etc.

Close your eyes. This makes it easy to concentrate

Relax your muscles sequentially from head to feet. This helps to break the connection between stressful thoughts and a tense body. Starting with your forehead, become aware of tension as you breathe in. Let go of any obvious tension as you breathe out. Go through the rest of your body in this way, proceeding down through your eyes, jaws, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, upper back, middle back and midriff, lower back, belly, pelvis, buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet.


Breathe slowly and naturally, repeating your focus word or phrase silently as you exhale.

Assume a passive attitude. Don't worry about how well you're doing. When other thoughts come to mind, simply say, "Oh, well," and gently return to the repetition

Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. After you finish: Sit quietly for a minute or so, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes open. Do not stand for one or two minutes

Plan for a session once or twice a day.


MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
WALKING MEDITATION
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn Director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, one simple way to bring awareness into your life is through walking meditation. "This brings your attention to the actual experience of walking as you are doing it, focusing on the sensations in your feet and legs, feeling your whole body moving, " Dr. Kabat-Zinn explains. "You can also integrate awareness of your breathing with the experience."
To do this exercise, focus the attention on each foot as it contacts the ground. When the mind wanders away from the feet or legs, or the feeling of the body walking, refocus your attention. To deepen your concentration, don't look around, but keep your gaze in front of you.
"One thing that you find out when you have been practicing mindfulness for a while is that nothing is quite as simple as it appears, " says Dr. Kabat-Zinn. "This is as true for walking as it is for anything else. For one thing, we carry our mind around with us when we walk, so we are usually absorbed in our own thoughts to one extent or another. We are hardly ever just walking, even when we are just going out for a walk'. Walking meditation involves intentionally attending to the experience of walking itself



MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION


Transcendental Meditation is by far the most thoroughly researched in terms of its benefits for mental, physical, and social health TM is a simple mental technique, easy to learn and practice. Anyone can learn it within a few days and can begin to experience beneficial results almost immediately. Since 1958, 4 million people have learned TM and over five hundred scientific studies have been conducted on it at over two hundred universities worldwide.
TM is one of the easiest meditation techniques to learn. When you learn TM, an instructor gives you a word or phrase-your personal mantra-which you promise not to divulge. You are told to sit quietly with your eyes closed and repeat the mantra over and over again for 20 minutes at a time once or twice a day.
The mantra functions to focus your mind on a single idea, representing the "oneness" of the universe. You're instructed to assume a passive, accepting attitude while repeating your mantra. When distracting thoughts intrude, you're instructed to simply observe them, accept them and gently return your mental focus to repeating your mantra.
Physiological research shows that during TM, the body gains a deeper state of relaxation than during ordinary rest. EEG (electroencephelogram) changes indicate a state of heightened awareness and coherence. Regular practice of TM has been found to produce a state of increased stability, adaptability, and integration during all phases of activity. Also, TM has been found to increase intelligence, creativity, and perceptual ability and to reduce high blood pressure and illness rates by more than 50 percent. Analysis of large numbers of research studies on TM have found that it is one of the most effective techniques known for reducing drug and alcohol abuse, decreasing anxiety and increasing self-actualization

MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
MINDFULNESS (VIPASSANA)


mantra and breath meditation, you focus on a word or your breath and try to empty your mind of everything else. This mental clearing is what most people mean when they refer to meditation.
But there's another kind of meditation, a practice Buddhists call vipassana or sometimes called mindfulness, or insight meditation. It is the art of becoming deeply aware of the present instant. Mindfulness means fully experiencing what happens in the here and now. It is the art of focusing our minds on what's happening in and around us at this very moment. Mindfulness helps you turn down all the noise in your head- the guilt, anger, doubts, and uncertainties that upset us moment to moment. It is a technique that encourages you to stop and smell the roses.
The key is not so much what you focus on but how you do it. What is more important is the quality of the awareness you bring to each moment. That awareness should be meditative in the sense of being a silent witness, accepting and nonjudgmental. It, however, does not imply resignation to abuse or injustice. It teaches acknowledgment of the moment-to-moment reality and prepares those who use the technique to respond to that reality less impulsively and more effectively.
There are two kinds of mindful meditation - formal and informal. Yoga is a good example of the formal type. In a yoga class, participants focus intently on their breathing and the postures, moving slowly from one position to the next, exquisitely aware of their feelings during the process. Practitioners are taught to concentrate on their breathing and its passage through the body as they dismiss any distracting thoughts. Though it sounds simple, mindfulness takes practice, and the longer you practice, the easier the process becomes. Breathing is the vehicle of transition from our conventional, anxiety-ridden, goal-oriented experience of stressful living into a natural state of functional calm and tranquility. Tai chi offers a similar dimension of mindfulness. Informal mindfulness involves turning the headlong rush of daily living into a collection of discrete moments of experience, each savored fully. For example, Dr. Kabat-Zinn hands each of his students a single raisin and asks them to eat it. Ordinarily people would simply pop the raisin in their mouths, chew a few times and swallow, largely unconsciously. But mindful, meditative raisin eating is much different. It begins with looking intently at the raisin, considering its shape, weight, color and texture. Next comes placing the raisin in the mouth, focusing on how it feels on the tongue as the mouth welcomes it with salivation. Then the mindful raisin-eater chews the raisin slowly and thoroughly, focusing on its taste and texture. Finally, swallowing the raisin involves following it all the way down to the stomach.
Once you commit to a mindfulness trigger-such as hanging up the phone, sipping a cup of tea or eating fruit snacks, starting the car or petting your dog-it's not difficult to work a dozen mindful moments into each day.


MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
JOURNEY MEDITATION


Journey meditation combines imagery and visualization to achieve a meditative state. This form of meditation appeals to those who find peace by picturing themselves in a peaceful place.
Here's how to do it.


Sit up straight. Get into a comfortable position. Either sit on the floor with your back against a wall, or sit in a chair with your feet on the ground and your hands resting on your knees or thighs. Have a pad and pencil nearby. Write down the worries, concerns or problems that you're afraid will distract you from meditation, and promise yourself that you'll deal with them when you're done.


Take a few cleansing breaths. Breathe in slowly and deeply for five counts, then exhale slowly for five counts.


Find a peaceful place. Close your eyes and concentrate on a soothing, tranquil place where you feel safe and calm. As distractions flutter through your mind, remind yourself that you'll deal with them when you are finished meditating.



quiet beach is an ideal mental destination for most people. Picture yourself resting on the sand. Feel the sun on your skin, hear the water lapping the shore, listen for the sounds of seagulls or see the ships gliding out to sea. You can use the same routine for any beautiful, serene place that calms you.
Do it twice a day. Most persons will benefit from a 5- to 15-minute meditation practiced several days a week. A good rule of thumb for practicing journey meditation is to do it in the morning and then again later in the day. A peaceful meditative journey as you wake up can improve the whole tone of your day.
Journey meditation is also an excellent antidote for afternoon slump. Most people find that at about 3.00 PM, they are at their lowest energy level for the day. This is a good time to take a short nap or to take a short journey break. In as little as ten minutes, you'll find that you've refreshed yourself.



MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
VIBRATIONAL MEDITATION:
Also called sounding meditation, this technique uses the repetition of a word or sound as its focal point. Vibrational meditation has appeal to those who find that making noise is a path to inner quiet.
We're taught to be nice and quiet as little children. Releasing sound and noise helps us release stress.
Here's how to begin.
Get on your feet. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent and your hips centered, as though you're about to squat. Or, if you wish, sit or lie down. Keep your body loose and comfortable with your arms at your sides or on your hips. Begin by taking a few cleansing breaths.
Pick a word, any word. Choose a word that alternates vowels and consonants-like "serenity." The word that you select doesn't necessarily have to be a spiritual one. It just has to feel good when you say it.
Repeat after yourself. Repeat the word, chant the word, focus on nothing but saying the word over and over again. Let the sound of the word vibrate through your body. Let the word resonate up from your abdomen and let it go to your hands, your feet. Let your muscles move as you chant the word.
Some people have a tendency to clench their muscles when they're tense. It's important to roll the sound through your body so that you can clear out the tightness in your muscles. Doing so promotes the meditative state of relaxation that feels like a natural high.



MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
MOVEMENT MEDITATION


Like the Eastern discipline of yoga, movement meditation combines breathing and gentle, flowing movements to create a meditative state. It appeals especially to those who tend to achieve a meditative state of mind by moving their bodies.
Movement meditation allows a person to draw in qi energy from the Earth, which many healers-such as acupuncturists, acupressurists and some massage therapists-regard as the essential life force.
Movement meditation is excellent to do first thing in the morning and can also be a prelude to prayer or another form of meditation.
Here's how to practice movement meditation:
Center and concentrate.
Take several deep, cleansing breaths. Then, move into a relaxed, squatting stance with your knees slightly bent and your hips and pelvis loose. Center yourself by visualizing your feet connected to the soil. Visualize the center of the Earth, from which we draw energy. Concentrate upon and honor the Earth.
Focus your awareness.
Gently move your body in an undulating, snakelike swaying motion. See yourself as a flower opening up or as an animal moving through the brush. Dance, if you like.
If it pleases you, use sound or music to focus your attention on the movement and on the vibration. Allow yourself to get lost in the sense of movement and the beauty of your body as it moves. Feel the areas of your body that are tight and let the movement loosen them up.


MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
BODY SCAN MEDITATION
Body Scan Meditation is often used by people who want to try a more formal type of mindfulness without attending a yoga or tai chi class.
1.

Lie on your back with your legs uncrossed, your arms at your sides, palms up, and your eyes open or closed, as you wish.
2.

Focus on your breathing, how the air moves in and out of your body.
3.

After several deep breaths, as you begin to feel comfortable and relaxed, direct your attention to the toes of your left foot. Tune into any sensations in that part of your body while remaining aware of your breathing. It often helps to imagine each breath flowing to the spot where you're directing your attention. Focus on your left toes for one to two minutes.
4.

Then move your focus to the sole of your left foot and hold it there for a minute or two while continuing to pay attention to your breathing.
5.

Follow the same procedure as you move to your left ankle, calf, knee, thigh, hip and so on all around the body.
6.

Pay particular attention to any areas that cause pain or are the focus of any medical condition (for asthma, the lungs; for diabetes, the pancreas).
7.

Pay particular attention to the head: the jaw, chin, lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, nostrils, throat, cheeks, eyelids, eyes, eyebrows, forehead, temples and scalp.
8.

Finally, focus on the very top of your hair, the uppermost part of your body. Then let go of the body altogether, and in your mind, hover above yourself as your breath reaches beyond you and touches the universe.
MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
THE INSTANT CALMING SEQUENCE


Meditation and mindfulness are great when you have enough control over your time to enjoy them. But what happens when a crisis requires immediate action?
Using scientific findings in the physiology of relaxation, Dr. Robert Cooper has developed a six-step program that minimizes the negative effects of stress the moment the body begins to feel stressed. He calls it the Instant Calming Sequence.
Step 1:: Practice uninterrupted breathing. When stress strikes, immediately focus on your breath and continue breathing smoothly, deeply and evenly.
Step 2: Put on a positive face. Smile a grin that you can feel in the corners of your eyes. "The conventional wisdom is that happiness triggers smiling," Dr. Cooper explains. "But recent studies suggest that this process is a two-way street. Smiling can contribute to feelings of happiness, and in a stressful situation, it can help keep you calm." Try this simple test: Smile a broad grin right now. Don't you feel better?
Step 3:: Balance your posture. People under stress often look hunched-over, hence the oft-repeated phrase "They have the weight of the world on their shoulders."
"Maintaining good posture works like smiling," Dr. Cooper says. "Physical balance contributes to emotional balance." Keep your head up, chin in, chest high, pelvis and hips level, back comfortably straight and abdomen free of tension. Imagine a skyhook lifting your body from a point at the center of the top of your head.
Step 4: Bathe in a wave of relaxation. Consciously sweep a wave of relaxation through your body. "Imagine you're standing under a waterfall that washes away all your tension," Dr. Cooper says.
Step 5: Acknowledge reality. Face your causes of stresses head-on. Don't try to deny it or wish that it hadn't happened. Think: "This is real. I can handle it. I'm finding the best possible way to cope right now."
Step 6:: Reassert control. Instead of fretting about how the stressor has robbed you of control, focus on what you can control and take appropriate action. Also, think clear-headed, honest thoughts instead of distorted ones



MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
FIVE MEDITATION STEPS


Sitting comfortably but upright, feel your weight on the chair or cushion and relax into it. Imagine breathing in and out through your navel, taking a few deep breaths to settle in. Let your attention gather at a point at the base of your spine, imagine it as a point of energy. Notice what sensations you feel there.
1.

Move your attention to the crown of the head, imagine a point of energy there. Notice what sensations you feel. Feel these two points align, connected by a line of light, inside the body near the spine. Allow energy to move freely between these two points.
2.

Let your attention come to rest at a point of balance along this line, deep within you, at the center of your being.
3.

From this center of your being, imagine the line of light extending downward through your legs and feet, relaxing the toes and sinking into the earth. Breathing out, let all tension and fatigue run down this line into the earth.
4.

Breathing in, imagine drawing up, through the soles of your feet, fresh, transformed earth energy. Allow it to fill your whole body from the feet up to the crown of your head, bringing a feeling of being supported and cradled by the solidity of the earth. Return your attention and your breathing to the center of your being. Imagine the line of light rising to the crown of your head and above, out into the clear blue sky, to the heavens. Breathe in fresh air.
5.

Allow light and clearness from the heavens to radiate down the line of light to fill the whole body. Breathe into the center of your being and feel the two energies, from the earth and the sky, mingling. From this center let your attention be on your breath moving in and out (using one of the focuses suggested above).


MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
TAOIST MEDITATION METHODS


Taoist meditation methods have many points in common with Hindu and Buddhist systems, but the Taoist way is less abstract and far more down-to-earth than the contemplative traditions which evolved in India. The primary hallmark of Taoist meditation is the generation, transformation, and circulation of internal energy. Once the meditator has 'achieved energy' (deh-chee), it can be applied to promoting health and longevity, nurturing the 'spiritual embryo' of immortality, martial arts, healing, painting and poetry, sensual self-indulgence, or whatever else the adept wishes to do with it.
The two primary guidelines in Taoist meditation are jing ('quiet, stillness, calm') and ding ('concentration, focus'). The purpose of stillness, both mental and physical, is to turn attention inwards and cut off external sensory input, thereby muzzling the "Five Thieves". Within that silent stillness, one concentrates the mind and focuses attention, usually on the breath, in order to develop what is called 'one-pointed awareness', a totally undistracted, undisturbed, undifferentiated state of mind which permits intuitive insights to arise spontaneously.
Taoist masters suggest that when you first begin to practice meditation, you will find that your mind is very uncooperative. That's your ego, or 'emotional mind', fighting against its own extinction by the higher forces of spiritual awareness. The last thing your ego and emotions want is to be harnessed: they revel in the day-to-day circus of sensory entertainment and emotional turmoil, even though this game depletes your energy, degenerates your body, and exhausts your spirit. When you catch your mind drifting into fantasy or drawing attention away from internal alchemy to external phenomena, here are six ways you can use to 'catch the monkey', clarify the mind, and re-establish the internal focus:
1.

Shift attention back to the inflow and outflow of air streaming through the nostrils, or energy streaming in and out of a vital point, such as between the brows.
2.

Focus attention on the rising and falling of the navel, the expansion and contraction of the abdomen, as you breathe.
3.

With eyes half-closed, focus vision on a candle flame or a mandala (geometric meditation picture). Focus on the center of the flame or picture, but also take in the edges with peripheral vision. The concentration required to do this usually clears all other distractions from the mind.
4.

Practice a few minutes of mantra, the 'sacred syllables' which harmonize energy and focus the mind. Though mantras are usually associated with Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist practices, Taoists have also employed them for many millennia. The three most effective syllables are 'Om', which stabilizes the body, 'ah', which harmonizes energy, and 'hum', which concentrates the spirit. 'Om' vibrates between the brows, 'ah' in the throat, and 'hum' in the heart, and their associated colors are white, red, and blue respectively. Chant the syllables in a deep, low-pitched tone and use long, complete exhalations for each one. Other mantras are equally effective.
5.

Beat the 'Heavenly Drum' as a cool-down energy-collection technique. The vibrations tend to clear discursive thoughts and sensory distractions from the mind.
6.

Visualize a deity or a sacred symbol of personal significance to you shining above the crown of your head or suspended in space before you. When your mind is once again still, stable, and undistracted, let the vision fade away and refocus your mind on whatever meditative technique you were practicing.
Taoist meditation works on all three levels of the 'Three Treasures': essence (body), energy (breath), and spirit (mind).
1.

The first step is to adopt a comfortable posture for the body, balance your weight evenly, straighten the spine, and pay attention to physical sensations such as heat, cold, tingling, trembling, or whatever else arises.
2.

When your body is comfortable and balanced, shift attention to the second level, which is breath and energy. You may focus on the breath itself as it flows in and out of the lungs through the nostrils, or on energy streaming in and out of a particular point in tune with the breath.
3.

The third level is spirit: when the breath is regulated and energy is flowing smoothly through the channels, focus attention on thoughts and feelings forming and dissolving in your mind, awareness expanding and contracting with each breath, insights and inspirations arising spontaneously, visions and images appearing and disappearing. Eventually you may even be rewarded with intuitive flashes of insight regarding the ultimate nature of the mind: open and empty as space; clear and luminous as a cloudless sky at sunrise; infinite and unimpeded.
Just as all the rules of chee-gung practice can be boiled down to the three Ss - slow, soft, smooth - so the main points of meditation practice may be summed up in the three Cs: calm, cool, clear. As for proper postures for practice, the two positions most frequently used in Taoist meditation are



Sitting cross-legged on the floor in 'half-lotus' position, with the buttocks elevated on a cushion or pad. The advantages of this method are that this position is more stable and encourages energy to flow upwards towards the brain.


Sitting erect on a low stool or chair, feet parallel and shoulder width apart, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, spine erect. The advantages of sitting on a stool are that the legs do not cramp, the soles of the feet are in direct contact with the energy of the earth, and internal energy tends to flow more freely throughout the lower as well as the upper torso.


Most meditators who follow Taoist Meditation use both methods, depending on conditions. When sitting cross-legged, Western practitioners, whose legs tend to cramp more easily than Asians', are advised to sit on thick firm cushions, perhaps with a phone book or two underneath, in order to elevate the pelvis and take pressure off the legs and knees. This also helps keep the spine straight without straining the lower back.
The way the hands are placed is also important. The most natural and comfortable position is to rest the palms lightly on the thighs, just above the knees. However, some meditators find it more effective to use one of the traditional 'mudras', or hand gestures. Experiment with different combinations of posture and mudra until you find the style that suits you best.
Taoist meditation masters teach three basic ways to control the Fire mind of emotion with the Water mind of intent, so that the adept's goals in meditation may be realized.



The first method is called 'stop and observe'. This involves paying close attention to how thoughts arise and fade in the mind, learning to let them pass like a freight train in the night, without clinging to any particular one. This develops awareness of the basic emptiness of all thought, as well as non-attachment to the rise and fall of emotional impulses. Gradually one learns simply to ignore the intrusion of discursive thoughts, at which point they cease arising for sheer lack of attention.


The second technique is called 'observe and imagine', which refers to visualization. The adept employs intent to visualize an image - such as Buddha, Jesus, a sacred symbol, the moon, a star, or whatever - in order to shift mental focus away from thoughts and emotions and stabilize the mind in one-pointed awareness. You may also visualize a particular energy center in your body, or listen to the real or imagined sound of a bell, gong, or cymbal ringing in your ears. The point of focus is not important: what counts is shifting the focus of your attention away from idle thoughts, conflicting emotions, fantasies, and other distracting antics of the 'monkey mind' and concentrating attention instead on a stable point of focus established by the mind of intent, or 'wisdom mind'.


The third step in cultivating control over your own mind is called 'using the mind of intent to guide energy'. When the emotional mind is calm and the breath is regulated, focus attention on the internal energy. Learn how to guide it through the meridian network in order to energize vital organs, raise energy from the sacrum to the head to nourish the spirit and brain, and exchange stale energy for fresh energy from the external sources of heaven (sky) and earth (ground). Begin by focusing attention on the Lower Elixir Field below the abdomen, then moving energy from there down to the perineum, up through the coccyx, and up along the spinal centers into the head, after which attention shifts to the Upper Elixir Field between the brows. Though this sounds rather vague and esoteric to the uninitiated, a few months of practice, especially in conjunction with chee-gung and proper dietary habits, usually suffices to unveil the swirling world of energy and awareness hidden within our bodies and minds. All you have to do is sit still and shut up long enough for your mind to become aware of it.


It's always a good idea to warm up your body and open your energy channels with some chee-gung exercises before you sit down to meditate. This facilitates internal energy circulation and enables you to sit for longer periods without getting stiff or numb. After sitting, you should avoid bathing for at least twenty minutes in order to prevent loss of energy through open pores and energy points. If you live in the northern hemisphere, it's best to sit facing south or east, in the general direction of the sun; in the southern hemisphere, sit facing north or east.
Given below are three Taoist meditations that are useful for beginners.



Meditation Techniques

Taoist Meditation: Breath and Navel Meditation

Breath and Navel Meditation is the oldest meditation method on record in China as well as India, and it is the method usually taught to beginners. Breath and Navel Meditation works directly with the natural flow of breath in the nostrils and the expansion and contraction of the abdomen. This Taoist meditation is a good way to develop focused attention and one-pointed awareness.
Method:
1.

Sit cross-legged on a cushion on the floor or upright on a low stool and adjust the body's posture until well balanced and comfortable. Press tongue to palate, close your mouth without clenching the teeth, and lower the eyelids until almost closed.
2.

Breathe naturally through the nose, drawing the inhalation deep down into the abdomen and making the exhalation long and smooth. Focus your attention on two sensations, one above and the other below. Above, focus on the gentle breeze of air flowing in and out of the nostrils like a bellows, and on exhalation try to 'follow' the breath out as far as possible, from 3 to 18 inches. Below, focus on the navel rising and falling and the entire abdomen expanding and contracting like a balloon with each inhalation and exhalation. You may focus attention on the nostrils or the abdomen, or on both, or on one and then the other, whichever suits you best.
From time to time, mentally check your posture and adjust it if necessary. Whenever you catch your mind wandering off or getting cluttered with thoughts, consciously shift your attention back to your breath. Sometimes it helps to count either inhalations or exhalations, until your mind is stably focused. If you manage to achieve stability in this method after ten to twenty minutes of practice, you may wish to switch over to one of the other two methods given below. All three of these methods may be practiced in a single sitting in the order that they are presented here, or in separate sittings.
Time: Twenty to thirty minutes, once or twice a day.


MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
TAOIST MEDITATION: MASTER HAN'S CENTRAL CHANNEL MEDITATION



This is an ancient Taoist method modified and taught by Master Han Yu-mo at his Sung Yang Tao Centers in Taiwan and Canada. It is a simple and effective way for beginners rapidly to develop a tangible awareness of internal energy and a familiarity with the major power points through which energy is circulated and exchanged with the surrounding sources of heaven and earth. It relaxes the body, replenishes energy, and invigorates the spirit.
Method
1.

Adopt a comfortable sitting posture.
2.

First, take a deep breath and bend forward slowly, exhaling audibly through the mouth in order to expel stale breath from the lungs; repeat three times.
3.

Then sit still and breathe naturally, letting the abdomen expand and contract with each breath. However, instead of focusing attention on the flow of air through the nostrils, focus on the beam of energy entering the crown of the head at a point about two inches above the hairline, called the 'Medicine Palace'. Feel the beam of energy flowing in through this point as you begin each inhalation and follow it down through the Central Channel into the Lower Elixir Field below the navel, then follow it back up the Central Channel and out through the Medicine Palace point on exhalation. The sensation at the crown point is most noticeable at the beginning of inhalation and the end of exhalation and feels somewhat like a flap or valve opening and closing as energy flows through it. There may also be feelings of warmth, tingling, or numbness in the scalp, all of which are signs of energy moving under the scrutiny of awareness.
After practicing this method for a few weeks or months and developing a conscious feel for energy as it moves through the Medicine Palace point, you may start to work with other points of exit during exhalation, always drawing energy in through the crown point on inhalation. For example, you may bring energy in through the crown and down to the abdomen on inhalation, then push it back up and out through the 'Celestial Eye' point between the brows. This point usually brings rapid results - a distinct tingling or throbbing sensation between the brows. The Celestial Eye is the point through which adepts with 'psychic vision' perceive aspects of the world that are hidden to ordinary eyesight. The mass of magnetite crystals between the forehead and the pituitary gland is sensitive to subtle fluctuations in surrounding electromagnetic fields. In other words, psychic vision perceives by virtue of its sensitivity to electromagnetic energy rather than the light or sound energy perceived by eyes and ears. So-called 'psychics' are those who have learned how to interpret the electromagnetic signals from the magnetic organ between the eyes in terms of ordinary perception and rational thought.
In addition to the brow point, you may also practice expelling energy on exhalation through the points in the centers of the palms, the centers of the soles, and the perineum point midway between genitals and anus. In each case, look for sensations of warmth or tingling at the point of exit.
After practicing this method for a while, your head may start to rock spontaneously back and forth or from side to side after fifteen or twenty minutes of sitting, or else your entire body may start trembling and shaking. This is a good sign, for it means that your channels are opening and that energy is coursing strongly through them. Try neither to suppress nor encourage these spontaneous tremors; instead just let them run their course naturally.
Time: Twenty to forty minutes, once or twice a day, preferably around dawn and midnight.




MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
TAOIST MEDITATION: MICROCOSMIC ORBIT MEDITATION



This is the classic Taoist meditation method for refining, raising, and circulating internal energy via the 'orbit' formed by the 'Governing Channel' from perineum up to head and the Conception Channel from head back down to perineum. Activating the Microcosmic Orbit is a key step that leads to more advanced practices. Taoists believe that microcosmic orbit meditation fills the reservoirs of the Governing and Conception channels with energy, which is then distributed to all the major organ-energy meridians, thereby energizing the internal organs. It draws abundant energy up from the sacrum into the brain, thereby enhancing cerebral circulation of blood and stimulating secretions of vital neurochemicals. It is also the first stage for cultivating the 'spiritual embryo' or 'golden elixir' of immortality, a process that begins in the lower abdomen and culminates in the mid-brain. This is probably the best of all Taoist methods for cultivating health and longevity while also 'opening the three passes' to higher spiritual awareness.
Taoists often refer things in symbolic languages. (See the section on Human anatomy from the Taoist perspective for a description of the symbolism used in referring to the human anatomy.) 'Opening the Three Passes' is another name for this meditation method and refers to the three critical junctions which pave the way for energy to travel up from the sacrum through the Governing Channel along the spine into the head.
Method:
1.

The first step is to still the body, calm the mind, and regulate the breath. With this settled mind, sit alone in a quiet room, senses shut and eyelids lowered. Turn your attention within, and inwardly visualize a pocket of energy in the umbilical region; within it is a point of golden light, clear and bright, immaculately pure. Focus attention on the navel until you feel the 'pocket of energy' glowing in the umbilical region. The breath through your nose will naturally become light and subtle, going out and in evenly and finely, continuously and quietly, gradually becoming slighter and subtler. When the feeling is stable and the energy there is full, use your mind to guide energy down to the perineum and back up through the aperture in the coccyx.
Steadily visualize this true energy as being like a small snake gradually passing through the nine apertures of the coccyx. When you feel the energy has gone through this pass, visualize this true energy rising up to where the ribs meet the spine, then going through this pass and right on up to the Jade Pillow, the back of the brain.
Then imagine your true spirit in the Nirvana Chamber in the center of the brain, taking in the energy. When this true energy goes through the Jade Pillow, press the tongue against the palate. The head should move forward and tilt slightly upwards to help it. When you feel this true energy penetrating the Nirvana Chamber, this may feel hot or swollen. This means the pass has been cleared and the energy has reached the Nirvana Center.
2.

Next, focus attention on the Celestial Eye between the eyebrows and draw energy forwards from the midbrain and out through the point between the brows. This may cause a tingling or throbbing sensation there. Then the center of the brows will throb - this means the Celestial Eye is about to open. Then move the spirit into the center of the brows and draw the true energy through the Celestial Eye. If you see the eighteen thousand pores and three hundred and sixty joints of the whole body explode open all at once, each joint parting three-tenths of an inch, this is evidence of the opening of the Celestial Eye.
This is what is meant when it is said that when one pass opens all the passes open, and when one opening is cleared all the openings are cleared.
You may wish to stay and work with this point for a few minutes, before letting energy sink down through the palate and tongue into the throat to the heart. This may feel as though there is cool water going down the Multistoried Tower of the windpipe. Do not swallow; let it go down by itself, bathing the bronchial tubes.
Then the vital energy will bathe the internal organs and then return to the genitals. This is what is called return to the root.
From the heart, draw it down through the Middle Elixir Field in the solar plexus, past the navel, and down into the Ocean of Energy reservoir in the Lower Elixir Field, where energy gathers, mixes, and is reserved for internal circulation. Then begin another cycle up through the coccyx to the mid-spine behind the heart and up past the Jade Pillow into the brain.
3.

Breathe naturally with your abdomen, and don't worry whether energy moves up or down on inhalation or exhalation; coordinate the flow of breath and energy in whatever manner suits you best. However, if you reach the stage where you can complete a full Microcosmic Orbit in a single breath, it's best to raise energy up from coccyx to head on exhalation and draw it down from Upper to Lower Elixir Field on inhalation.
If you practice this way for a long time, eventually you can complete a whole cycle of ascent and descent in one visualization. If you can quietly practice this inner work continuously, whether walking, standing still, sitting, or lying down, then the vital energy will circulate within, and there will naturally be no problem of leakage. Chronic physical ailments, Taoists believe, will naturally disappear.
Also, once the inner energy is circulating, the breath will naturally become fine, and the true positive energy of heaven and earth will be inhaled by way of the breath and go down to join your own generative energy. The two energies will mix together, both to be circulated by you together, descending and ascending over and over, circulating up and down to replenish the depleted true energy in your body.
This true energy harmonizes and reforms, so that the vital fluids produced by the energy of daily life again produce true vitality. When true vitality is fully developed, it naturally produces true energy, and when true energy is fully developed it naturally produces our true spirit.
If you have any physical problems or discomforts in a particular section of your body, focus your energy at the pass closest to the discomfort and let it throb there for a while. This will help heal and rejuvenate the injured tissues. For example, if you have pelvic problems, focus energy on the coccyx pass; for lower-back pain focus on the lowest lumbar vertebra just above the sacrum; for upper-back and shoulder pain focus on the fifth thoracic vertebra, and so forth.
This meditation may also cause the head to rock or the body to tremble, which, Taoists believe, are signs of progress.
Time: Thirty to forty-five minutes, once or twice a day.



Meditation
HUMAN ANATOMY FROM THE TAOIST PERSPECTIVE



Taoist classical texts often deal with symbolisms and abstractions. Microcosmic Orbit Meditation works by visualizing the energy channeling through different parts of the human anatomy. Hence it is of interest to find out the anatomical description of the human body from the Taoist perspective as it relates the channeling of energy or vital essence. This description is from a translation of an eleventh century manuscript written by Chang Po-tuan by Thomas Cleary.
Taoist texts speak of the 'medicinal elements' of internal alchemy, using metaphors such as 'red lead', 'black mercury', 'cinnabar', 'white snow', 'green dragon', 'white tiger', 'sun rays', and 'moon beams'. These metaphors refer to various aspects and elements of the Three Treasures - essence, energy, and spirit - which are the only real elements of internal alchemy.
The vital junctions, or 'passes', used in circulating internal energy are also given mysterious names, such as the 'Yellow Chamber', 'Red Cauldron', 'Mysterious Pass', 'Lead Furnace', 'Flower Pond', 'Dragon Lair', and 'Vermilion Palace'. These colorful names denote the invisible but highly functional points inside and along the surface of the body, where energy collects, transforms, and enters various channels for circulation. Taoist internal alchemy is actually a highly scientific method of harnessing, controlling, conserving, converting, and circulating essence and energy under the guidance of spirit in order to replace depletion with accretion, reverse disintegration with integration, and counteract degeneration with regeneration.
A term of particular importance in Taoist internal alchemy is the 'firing process', which has nothing at all to do with fire. The firing process refers to breathing, which acts as a bellows to gently fan the 'fire' of energy in the 'cauldrons' of the Elixir Fields.
Taoists believe that the human body has three posterior passes and three anterior passes. The three posterior passes are in the coccyx, at the base of the spine; in the mid-spine, where the ribs join the spine; and at the back of the brain.
The pass in the coccyx, at the bottom of the spine, connects with the channels of the genital organs. From this pass ascends the spinal cord, which is called the Zen Valley, or the Yellow River, or the Waterwheel Course, or the Mountain Range up to the Court of Heaven, or the Ladder up to Heaven.
This is the road by which positive energy ascends; it goes right up the point opposite the center of the chest, the pass of the enclosed spine, where the ribs join in back, then it goes straight up to the back of the brain, which is called the Pass of the Jade Pillow.
The three anterior passes are called the Nirvana Center, the Earth Pot, and the Ocean of Energy. The Nirvana Center is the so-called upper elixir field. It is a spherical opening 1.3 inches in diameter and is the repository of the spirit. That opening is three inches behind the center of the eyebrows, right in the middle.
The space between the eyebrows is called the Celestial Eye. The space one inch inward is called the Bright Hall. The space one inch farther in is called the Hidden Chamber. One inch farther in from that is the Nirvana Center .
The windpipe has twelve sections and is called the Multi-storied Tower; it goes to the openings in the lungs, and reaches the heart. Below the heart is an opening called the Crimson Chamber, where the dragon and tiger mate. Another 3.6 inches directly below that is what is called the Earth Pot, which is the Yellow Court, the middle elixir field.
The umbilical opening is called the Door of Life. It has seven channels connecting with the genitals. The leaking of sexual energy takes place through these channels. Behind the navel and in front of the kidneys, right in the middle, is the place called the Crescent Moon jar, or the Ocean of Energy. And 1.3 inches below that is what is called the Flower Pond, or the lower elixir field. This is where vitality is stored, and it is the place where the medicine is gathered.

Now talk about the sister of Meditation YOGA
What is yoga?

In practice, yoga is an applied science of the mind and body. It comes from the Hindu vedas (scriptures). Practice and study of it help to bring about a natural balance of body and mind in which the state of health can manifest itself. Yoga itself does not create health; rather, it creates an internal environment that allows the individual to come to his own state of dynamic balance, or health. Basically, yoga teaches that a healthy person is a harmoniously integrated unit of body, mind and spirit. Therefore, good health requires a simple, natural diet, exercise in fresh air, a serene and untroubled mind and the awareness that main's deepest and highest self is identical with the spirit of God. As a result, to many devotees, yoga becomes a philosophy that offers instruction and insight into every aspect of life: the spiritual, the mental and the physical. Of course, because it is all-encompassing, people who want to pick and choose from its smorgasbord can do so without being disappointed. Yoga is equally satisfying as a physical therapy alone.


Yoga is best known as a set of physical practices that include gentle stretches, breathing practices, and progressive deep relaxation. These physical practices are intended to ready the body and mind for meditation as well as for a meditative perspective on life. These meditative practices also follow a sequence. First developed is the capacity to withdraw the senses from focus on the outer world, then, the capacity to concentrate on a meditative subject-a candle flame, a sacred or uplifting word or image, or the movement of the breath. Finally, and for most of us only occasionally, the concentration leads into a wordless and timeless experience of inner peace. The yoga masters describe various subtleties among these states of inner peace, but most of us, at best, achieve moments of this experience from time to time.
Michael Lerner, "Choices in Healing"


The Yoga System

One basic assumption of the Yoga Sutras is that the body and the mind are part of one continuum of existence, the mind being more subtle than the body. This is the foundation of the yogic view of health. The interaction of body and mind is the central concern of the entire science. It is believed that as the body and mind are brought into balance and health, the individual will be able to perceive his true nature; this will allow life to be lived through him more freely and spontaneously.
Yoga first attempts to reach the mind, where health begins, for mental choices strongly affect the health of the body. Choices of food, types of exercise, which thoughts to think, etc. all affect the body. As practiced traditionally in India, yoga includes a set of ethical imperatives and moral precepts, including diet, exercise, and meditative aspects. In the West, yoga focuses primarily on postures (gentle stretching exercises), breathing exercises, and meditation. Yoga is frequently used in Western medicine to enhance health and treat chronic disease as well as stress.
Yoga therapy begins with relaxation. Living in an age of anxiety, we are often unconscious of our tensions. We are often depressed, tired, and an easy victim of diseases. There are a number of reasons for our stressful life. Often it is lack of rest, anxiety, tension and fatigue. These are constantly draining our health energies continuously. Thus, the first priority is to get us into a relaxed state. Yoga employs asanas, pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation and/or visualization.
Asanas (postures): Postures are gentle stretching movements designed to help balance the mind and body. The yoga postures are designed to rejuvenate the brain, spine, glands and internal organs. They work by increasing the blood and prana supply to these areas and by stimulating them with a gentle squeezing action
The asanas were designed with economy of time and effort in mind. Most of them work on more than one aspect of the body at the same time. For example, the twist asana benefits the spine, adrenal glands, liver, pancreas and kidneys.
The yoga asanas produce their beneficial effect on the organs and glands in three ways.:
The position of the asana causes an increase in blood circulation to the specific target organ or gland.
The position of the asana often produces a slight squeezing of the organ or gland. This has the effect of massaging the organ or gland and stimulating it.
Deep breathing and visualizing the target area sends an extra supply of prana to the area.
Yoga's effect on the spine is to increase its flexibility. This ensures a good nerve supply to all parts of the body, since the nerves from the spine go to all the organs and glands.
Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Asanas (Yogic postures)
Asana’ means staying or abiding. Asana is one way in which a person can experience the unity of body and mind. Asana is defined as that which is comfortable and easy, as well as firm. In the west, asana is commonly called "posture". Yogic postures (asanas) are prescribed for the purpose of comfort and firmness during meditation and the practice of pranayama. An upright seated posture in which one can sit with comfort and no need to move is ideal for meditation.
Asana is a dynamic position, in which the practitioner is perfectly poised between activity and nonactivity. There is a corresponding mental balance between movement and stillness. Indeed, Patanjali teaches that each posture reflects a mental attitude, whether that attitude be one of surrender, as in a forward-bending asana, or the strengthening of the will, through backward-bending postures, or the creation of a physical prayer with the body, as in the practice of Padmasana, the well-known lotus posture.
Yoga Sutra says that when we master asanas we are able to handle opposites. To be able to handle opposites does not mean going outside naked in winter or dressing in warm woolen clothing in summer. It means that we become more sensitive. We learn to adapt because we know our body better. We know how our body reacts in different situations.
Practically speaking, we should be able to stand for a few minutes with ease; we should be able to sit for a while easily as well. One advantage of asana practice is that it helps us get used to different situations and be able to cope with different demands. If we want to practice pranayama, for example, we have to be able to sit comfortably erect for a period of time. Asanas help us focus on the breath rather than the body during pranayama practice. If we can sit comfortably and effortlessly erect there is nothing to distract us from our concentration on the breath.
Asana is a two-way street. Once the mental attitude has been created, it can then be spontaneously expressed as an asana; if one takes on the external form of an internal attitude, soon that attitude moves through body into mind, thus creating it there. Whichever way one works, the results are the same. Asana is thus both a preparation for meditation and a meditation sufficient in and of itself.
Another advantage of asana is that it is direct. It can temporarily bring peace and quiet the mind. This quieting encourages the balancing of the mental functions of the individual, since it allows the intuitive aspects of the mind to have free play. This soothing effect on the brain has been verified by EEG data of brain during meditation. It has great healing implications.
Patanjali suggests that the asana and the pranayama practices will bring about the desired state of health; the control of breath and bodily posture will harmonize the flow of energy in the organism, thus creating a fertile field for the evolution of the spirit.
Pranayama: Pranayamas are specially developed breathing techniques. Yoga breathing produces a huge storage of energy in the solar plexus area. This will cause the body to radiate vitality and, if any sickness is developing, the body can call upon some of this energy reserve to combat the disease.
Yoga breathing also improves brain function (intelligence and memory), as well as increasing the elimination of toxins from the system.
The total effect of yoga asanas and breathing is to produce a state of high vitality and rejuvenation.

Concentration/Meditation practices: The benefits of the postures are greater if you concentrate the healing action where it is needed. You can incorporate a variety of affirmations, meditation/concentration practices and visualization. Meditation and concentration is covered in detail elsewhere. Many times focusing on an object or sound (like clicking of a clock) can help us concentrate and leave our distracting thoughts away.
An affirmation is a declaratory statement of yourself. They are inner-self conditioners. Our inner mind will believe everything we say with conviction and emotional force. It take some persistent repetitions to get the desired result. Typical affirmations that can be used are:

I am at my desired weight (for dieters)

I am at my desired weight (for dieters)

I feel continuously alert, vital and useful (general), etc.

Even more powerful technique than affirmation is visualization. Here, we show our subconscious mind a picture of what we are talking about. Forming such picture inside your mind is called visualization.
To be effective, visualization should involve all senses, not just sight. Imagine the state or thing we want. How does it feel when we have it? What will you be with it? What does it feel? What does it look like? How does it sound? How does it taste? How does it smell? For healing therapy, visualize the state without the condition. For example, for those trying to lose weight, visualize yourself in the desired weight and physical condition and imagine the life in the new state.
In other words, you should mentally see the affected area as it receives fresh blood circulation, oxygen and physical massage. A diabetic should visualize the healing energies flowing into the pancreas, near the stomach. A rheumatic can concentrate on the release of synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is a lubricant and also disperses waste matter which can cause stiffness at joints.
Thus, most effective yoga therapy involves a three-pronged attack. When you practice yoga postures, you are strengthening the body. When you control your breathing, you are creating a chemical and emotional balance. And when you concentrate your mind on affirmations, you are practicing the power of prayer. But when all three approaches are synthesized, you are entering the most powerful mystery of healing: the basic harmony of life.


Yoga's View Of Disease


Yoga considers that most diseases are due to insufficient life force, either in the body as a whole, or a blockage of life force to one part of the body. This leads to a lowered body resistance or immunity to disease.
Those practicing yoga have learned many centuries ago that most diseases are due to reduced immunity. Medical science is gradually coming to the same conclusion.
When the whole body has lowered life force, the result is a lowered vitality level, poor health and susceptibility to infection. No infections would occur if the body's life force is high enough to fight off the infection. Pathogens (bacteria, viruses and so on) are a normal part of life and will only cause trouble when the body's resistance is too low to keep them in check.
The best way to increase the general life force of the body is by good nutrition, sufficient deep steep, a positive mental attitude and yoga.
A blockage of life force to one part of the body, such as the thyroid gland, is usually caused by a slight misalignment of a vertebra which impinges on the nerve that travels to that particular organ. This causes an interference to the life force (nerve impulses) to the organ. As a result, the organ not functioning at its optimum level. If the spinal misalignment is not corrected, the organ may develop pathology. It is much more difficult to correct at this stage.
The ancient yogis were well aware of the importance of the spine in relation to disease, since most of their asanas or postures were designed to make the spine more flexible to prevent spinal misalignments. Some of the asanas will even correct minor spinal misalignments.
The spine is so important for a high vitality level, good health and the correction of many health conditions that a whole science of healing has been developed to correct spinal misalignments. In fact, chiropractic is now the second largest healing profession after medicine and the fastest growing healing profession in the world.


Types Of Yoga

One of the features of yoga, which can be confusing at first, is that a variety of forms of yoga are practiced. Together, they are called yoga. While these share common elements, some focus more on postures and breathing exercises, whereas others have a greater focus on spirituality. Each emphasizes a particular path that comprises a certain set of beliefs, practices, and rituals. Yoga forms constitute a ladder of sorts, from the "lowest" form of Hatha yoga, with its focus on physical postures and breathing techniques, to the "highest" form known as Raja, or "union by mental mastery."
Newer forms of hybrids of yoga are also proposed such as Power yoga or Acu-yoga. There are also variations of yoga depending on "the teacher that is being followed."
The most popular forms of yoga are:
Hatha yoga ("the yoga of vitality') - The Foundation
Bhakti Yoga: The Yoga of Love
Karma yoga ("the yoga of action") - the Yoga of Selfless Action
Jnana Yoga: The Yoga of Knowledge
Raja yoga- The Highest form of yoga
Mantra yoga
Laya, Tantra or Kundalini yoga
Integral Yoga (Purna Yoga)

Hatha yoga ("the yoga of vitality') - The Foundation

An easy-to-learn basic form of yoga. Very popular in the United States. Hatha Yoga is the foundation of all Yoga systems. Hatha Yoga is the preparation for higher Yogas. Ha means "sun" and tha means "moon." Thus, Hatha Yoga refers to positive (sun) and to negative (moon) currents in the system. These currents are to be balanced and mastered so that vital force, prana, can be regulated, the mind cleared and superconscious states experienced.
The ideal way to practice the Hatha Yoga poses (asanas) is to approach the practice session in a calm, meditative mood. Sit quietly for a few moments, then begin the series, slowly, with control and grace, being inwardly aware as the body performs the various poses selected for the practice session. Do not overdo the asanas or try to compete with others. Take it easy and enjoy.


Bhakti Yoga: The Yoga of Love
Bhakti Yoga is the system in which love and devotion are emphasized. There are Bhakti Yoga traditions that do not teach asana, pranayama, mudra or controlled meditation - main practices of traditional yoga. Instead, love of God, love of God in man, and surrender to God's will is stressed in the Bhakti Yoga approach. Some people are naturally inclined by temperament to be devotional and to love God and God-as-the-world. Balance is recommended: devotion balanced with reason, love balanced with understanding.
There are no set ways to perform Bhakti yoga. Some people find that external aids can contribute to a devotional attitude: an altar used during prayer and meditation; pictures of saints to serve as inspiration; chanting or singing; use of mantra or even a simple devotional ceremony to aid in creating a mood as preparation for meditation. Whatever a person's approach, if that approach is useful in the long run, it is perfectly in order for him, even though it may not appeal to another.
Singing the names of God aloud can elevate consciousness, clear the mind and even charge the environment with pure energy. For persons who find it difficult to concentrate during meditation and for whom the approach of calm discernment is too subtle, prayer and chanting can be of value.
It is in our day to day life that Bhakti Yoga is truly practiced. Are we loving, compassionate and fair in our dealings with others? St. Francis is one of the Christian tradition who exemplified the Yoga of love and devotion. Jesus stated the ideal of Bhakti Yoga when he taught, "As you have loved me, love one another." When true love reigns, there can be no barriers; then harmony and fulfillment rule.
Simple, direct prayer is the most effective- just talking with God, then being still. The teaching is that by devotion and receptivity we can open ourselves to the Reality of God and attract God's consciousness into our own. Love and devotion also purifies human nature and cleanses the mind and the emotional field. There can be no hate, dislike, jealousy, envy, fear or prejudice in the loving heart. Truly, blessed are the pure in heart, for they can perceive the Reality of God.


Karma yoga ("the yoga of action") - the Yoga of Selfless Action
This yoga emphasizes selfless action and service, such as that practiced by Mahatma Gandhi.
The message of Karma Yoga is this: when we work in harmony with the Power that runs the universe, we are not egotistically motivated, and we no longer maintain compulsive desires relative to the future. With the eradication of compulsive desire, we are able to live in the present, while planning for the future, without being bound to the future. Every reasonable desire carries within itself the motive force for its fulfillment. That is, if an experience is possible to have in this natural world, and we desire it, we are subconsciously pushed toward it or attract it to ourselves.
Yogic philosophy does not ask us to give up intelligent planning. It says to renounce egotistic desire. We are then able to be open to inner guidance and to flow in the stream of grace. The Intelligence-Power that sustains the universe has a plan and a purpose. When we are in harmony with It we are free, even while involved.
As we work with a cheerful attitude, doing what we are best suited to do, we know a harmony and an inner peace which those who strive and struggle can never know.


Jnana Yoga: The Yoga of Knowledge
Jnana Yoga stresses the use of the mind to transcend the mind; it works with that part of the human mind which strives incessantly to know and understand. It trains discrimination; it is eight-limbed, and its other seven limbs are detachment, self-discipline, longing for freedom, hearing the truth, reflection upon that truth, and meditation, which is defined as consolidation and transcendence.
The tradition of Jnana Yoga teaches that "Liberation is attained, not by works or ceremony, but by knowledge alone." Knowledge in this context is not belief or collected data: it is comprehension as a result of discernment and experience. The Way of Knowledge is for the special few who are prepared for steady examination and clear perception of the nature of Consciousness.
One who chooses this path studies the conclusions of the seers by reading the great scriptures and commentaries, then examining them in the light of his own intelligence and coming to his own realization. In deep meditation, he contemplates the characteristics of Consciousness in manifestation and, by doing so, gains insight and perfect realization.


Yoga


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Raja yoga- The Highest form of yoga
Raja means "royal," and the meditation route to Self-Realization is considered to be just this. It is direct and affords the opportunity of experience in different levels of awareness, beginning from where we start to where we are able to conclude after our meditation practice. Raja Yoga starts with the mind; its goal is a complete stilling of the mind, so that the light of the indwelling spirit may shine out. It makes use of asana and pranayama, and some consider it merely another name for Ashtanga Yoga, described elsewhere.
Raja Yoga meditation is the process whereby the practitioner concentrates upon one point in order to integrate discontinuous, diffused attention, thus holding attention steady. All distractions are thus effectively closed out, and meditation proceeds. Daydreaming, floating with thoughts or allowing impulses to dominate is obviously not concentration, and, without concentration, meditation is impossible to experience.

Mantra yoga
Mantra yoga means "union by voice or sound". This form includes the rhythmic repetitions of specific sounds, chants, or mantras. The practitioner repeats the syllable, word or phrase continually, sometimes for weeks, months or years on end. Certain syllables are believed to posses healing potential for specific purposes. (for example see Transcendental meditation where a mantra is assigned for individual use.)
Laya, Tantra or Kundalini yoga
A celibate approach to spiritual growth is quite common in many of the world's religious traditions. Many yoga practices suggest that sexual involvement is a detriment to a greater development of self and hence should be avoided if possible. However, tantric yoga suggests that sexuality can be a very powerful force that can be harnessed for increased self-awareness. Thus, tantric yoga is unusual, in that it not only allows sexual feelings and contact, but uses sexual experience as a means to enlightenment.
The Tantrics maintain that there is an enormous energy locked into sexuality, which, if released from the lower end of the spine, can flow up the spinal column to bring divine illumination to the brain. They believe that within the interior of the spine, in a hollow region called the canalis centralis, there is an energy conduit called "sushumna". Along this conduit, from the base of the perineum to the top of the head, flows the most powerful of all psychic energies, Kundalini energy. On the other side of the canal are two additional energy channels, one called "Ida" corresponding to the male, and the other the "Pingala" corresponding to the female. Ida is at the right of the base of the spine and the pingala begins at the left.
These tow psychic currents are said to coil upward around the spine and the sushumna like snakes, crossing the chakras (energy wheel of center of conscious). Kundalini yogi's lifelong task is to evolve through the various chakra qualities and challenges, thereby bringing the focus of the Kundalini energy upward from the base of his spine to the top of his head.
Once the yogi has achieved mastery of self by relaxing body tension, silencing mental chatter, and releasing energy blocks, he is ready to join with a partner whose energies and spirit complement his own in such a way that together they form a "whole". The partners must first achieve a highly developed awareness within their being, a process that might take a lifetime, before ready to engage in tantric embrace. In the tantric lovemaking experience, known as "maithuna", the lovers undergo a variety of meditations and rituals before they actually make physical contact. They maintain the spiritual link or bond throughout the lovemaking process. They visualize the flow of pranic currents between them. In tantric yoga, the lovers do not try to achieve orgasm. In fact, they work hard not to have one. They are attempting to draw the forces of Kundalini energy upward through their body-minds, thus releasing the power of the various chakras. This force transforms the yogi psychologically, changing his personality as the Kundalini rises to each succeeding chakra. The emphasis is not on the sexual release as an end in and of itself, but rather on sex as a channel through which the evolution of self may proceed.
The goal of Tantra is the union of dynamic and static aspects of personality. It is quite different from practices that dwell on renunciation and desirelessness.

Integral (Purna) Yoga?

Integral yoga is a modern version of the traditional yoga systems of India. Many contemporary philosophers felt that traditional yoga gives too much importance to the attainment of the salvation and too much emphasis to the next life that the present life is neglected. This yoga teaches that what you do everyday (karma) is important (Although traditional yoga always had karma or yoga of work as part of the arsenal all the time. It is the emphasis or importance on attaining the consciousness, outside space-time that is of issue here.) Integral yoga gives yoga an affirmative and dynamic form. It places the spiritual ideal of life on the foundation of an integrated world-view that takes into account the evolutionary and historical perspective of life.
Integral Yoga evoke three levels of integration: the integration of the inner environment (or harmonization of the human personality), the integration of the human psyche with its external environment, and the integration of the psyche with its ultimate spiritual Ground, or the Divine. It is a world-affirmative and body-positive spirituality that skillfully combines self-transcendence with love, compassion, and reverence for all life.
For integral yoga the ultimate goal of life is complete self-integration. Action, love, wisdom and peace are equally important elements in such self-integration. The yoga of love or devotion (Bhakti yoga) is perfectly right in affirming love as the fulfillment of life and as an essential ingredient of salvation. But integral yoga points out that love is inseparable from wisdom and selfless action. Love in its spiritual essence is an attribute of wisdom. It is active interest in the progress and betterment of society. Love is undivided loyalty to life's higher values.
The yoga of knowledge (Jnana yoga) is perfectly right in affirming knowledge as the fulfillment of life and an essential ingredient of salvation. But integral yoga points out that knowledge is inseparable from love and action. Knowledge in its essence is comprehensive awareness of the nature of existence.
The yoga of action (Karma yoga) is perfectly right in affirming action as the essence of human reality and as an essential condition of salvation. But integral yoga points out that action is not merely a means to self-purification resulting in salvation.
An unbridgeable gulf is believed to exist between nature and spirit, between body and soul. All forms of self-torture and mortification of the flesh are invented in order to help in the triumph of the spirit. According to integral yoga, freedom is not emancipation from Nature, but emancipation in Nature. The balanced growth of personality-complete self-integration or integral self-realization-is the ideal for those practicing this yoga.
According to integral yoga, the values designated spiritual are no less an essential part of the spirit of Nature than the values designated material. The spirit may be defined as the higher mode of fulfillment of the creativity of Nature. And Nature may be regarded as the self-expressive energy and evolutionary dynamism of the spirit. So, both nature and spirit are equally important.
The dualism of matter and mind, nature and spirit, is inherent in the same evolutionary flux. Spiritual values emerge naturally and dualistically out of the organized and intelligent fulfillment of material values. When man intelligently co-operates with Nature, he gets rewarded with the treasures of the spirit. Integration of personality lays the foundation for an integrated outlook on life.
In integral self-realization, the growth of personality is as important as the vision of the super-personal. It implies organized fulfillment of normal human desires. The growth of personality brings power and love. It represents a vision of new values and the hidden possibilities of life. Integral yoga aims at the unity of personality growth and spiritual intuition. It affirms the ideal of integrated personality as a creative center of expression of the external.
There are three essential ingredients in the realization of complete self-integration: psychic integration, cosmic integration, and existential integration. Integral yoga is the art of harmonious and creative living on the basis of the integral experience of Being. It aims at opening the springs of creative inspiration hidden in the human psyche. It aims at that serenity of self poise which preserves the light of the eternal amidst the storm and stress of social living.


Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga

In order to still and observe the mind, Patanjali presents a system called Ashtanga Yoga, or the Eight-Limbed Yoga. These limbs represent all the aspects of the system. The first two limbs that Patanjali begins with are the fundamental ethical precepts called yamas, and the niyamas. Yamas and niyamas are the suggestions given by yoga on how we should deal with people around us and about our attitude toward ourselves. The attitude we have toward things and people outside ourselves is called yama in yoga, and how we relate to ourselves inwardly is called niyama.

Yama and niyama deal with our social attitude and life style, how we interact with other people and the environment, and how we deal with our problems. These all form a part of yoga, but they cannot be practiced. What we can practice are asanas and pranayama, the third and fourth limbs of yoga, which make us aware of where we are, where we stand, and how we look at things. Recognizing our mistakes is the first sign of clarity. Then gradually we try to bring about some changes in the way we show our respect to nature or re I ate to a friend. No one can change in a day, but yoga practices help change attitudes, our yama and niyama. It is not the other way around.
The fifth limb of the system is pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects.
These five external, physical yogic practices are followed, in Patanjali's system, by the three internal limbs of yoga: dharana, dhyana (religious meditation); and samadhi. We will take a closer look at these eight-fold path of yoga.


Yama (Restraints or Abstinence)
Niyama (Observances or Disciplines or Devotion)
Asanas (Yogic postures)
Pranayama (Breath Control)
Pratyahara (Retraction of the Senses)
Dharana (Fixation of Attention)
Dhyana (Devotion, Fusive Apprehension)
Samadhi (Fully Integrated Consciousness)
The final outcome of samadhi is Kaivalya. It is the ultimate that state that anyone can hope to achieve in Yoga.

Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Yama (Restraints or Abstinence)


Yama" has different meanings. It may mean "rein, curb, or bridle, discipline or restraints" In the present context, it is used to mean "self-control, forbearance, or any great rule or duty". It can also be interpreted as "attitude" or "behavior". Certainly a particular attitude can be expressed as discipline, which then influences our behavior. Patanjali's Yoga Sutra mentions five different yama, that is, behavior patterns or relationships between the individual and the outside world.
The prescribed rules are:
Ahimsa (Harmlessness) - The word ahimsa literally mean not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way whatsoever. Ahimsa is, however, more than just lack of violence as adapted in yoga. It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things. It also has to do with our duties and responsibilities too. It could even mean that we must fight if our life is in danger. Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a considered attitude.
Satya (Truthfulness): Satya means "to speak the truth," yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa. The Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, says: "Speak the truth which is pleasant. Do not speak unpleasant truths. Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing to the ear. That is the eternal law, the dharma." Please note that this does not mean speak lie. Keeping quiet and saying lies are two different things.
Asteya (Non-stealing): Asteya is the third yama. Steya means "to steal"; asteya is the opposite-to take nothing that does not belong to us. This also means that if we are in a situation where someone entrusts something to us or confides in us, we do not take advantage of him or her. We are to refrain from taking that which is not ours by right of consciousness and karma.
Brahmacharya (Sense-control): Brahmacharya is a movement toward the essential truth. It is used mostly in the sense of abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths. If sensual pleasures are part of those relationships, we must take care that we keep our direction and do not get lost. Avoid relationships that makes us deviate from finding the eternal truth. On the path of serious, constant searching for truth, there are certain ways of controlling the perceptual senses and sexual desires. Brahmacharya does not necessarily imply celibacy. Rather, it means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth.
Aparigraha (Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth): The last yama is aparigraha, a word that means something like "hands off" or "not seizing opportunity." Parigraha means "to take" or "to seize." Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy. We should only take what we have earned; if we take more, we are exploiting someone else. In addition, unearned rewards can bring with them obligations that might later cause problems.
The Yoga Sutra describes what happens when these five behaviors outlined above become part of a person's daily life. For example, as we develop ahimsa (kindness and consideration), our presence will create pleasant and friendly feelings in those around us. And if we remain true to the idea of satya, everything we say will be truthful. We will become trustworthy. In India, one's word is considered one's biggest asset. The Yoga Sutra also states that a person who is firmly anchored in asteya will receive all the jewels of this world. Such a person may not be interested in material wealth, but he or she will have access to the finest things in life.
The more we recognize and search for the meaning of the essential truth, the less will we be distracted by other things. Certainly it requires great strength to take this path. The Yoga Sutra teaches that the more faith we have, the more energy we have. At the same time we also have more strength to pursue our goals. So the more we seek the truth in the sense of brahmacharya, the more vitality we will have to do so.
Parigraha is the increasing orientation toward material things. If we reduce parigraha and develop aparigraha, we are orienting ourselves more inwardly. The less time we spend on our material possessions, the more we have to spend on investigating all that we call yoga. We will learn to enjoy what we have rather than constantly seeking things we don't have and never getting satisfied in life. It is a scientific fact that the more money and material possessions we have, the more stressful we become.
Thus, the yamas are the moral virtues which, if attended to, purify human nature and contribute to health and happiness of society.


Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Niyama (Observances or Disciplines or Devotion)


‘Niyama’, a Sanskrit, word mean rules or laws. These are the rules prescribed for personal observance. Like the five yamas, the niyamas are not exercises or actions to be simply studied. They represent far more than an attitude. Compared with the yamas, the niyamas are more intimate and personal. They refer to the attitude we adopt toward ourselves.
Sauca
The first niyama is sauca, cleanliness. Sauca has both an inner and an outer aspect. Outer cleanliness simply means keeping ourselves clean. Inner cleanliness has as much to do with the healthy, free functioning of our bodily organs as with the clarity of our mind. Practicing asanas or pranayama are essential means for attending to this inner sauca.
Samtosa
Another niyama is samtosa, modesty and the feeling of being content with what we have. To be at peace within and content with one's lifestyle. Literally the word means happiness. There are occasions we work hard to get something. We get very disappointed when we don't get it. Some people will get into extreme depression as a result. Some people may even contemplate suicide in extreme cases. We do these things because we do not have the discipline of being content with what we have. We should accept that there is a purpose for everything - yoga calls it karma. In 'Celestine Prophecy', James Redfield calls this synchronicity. The real meaning of samtosa is 'to accept what happens'. God has a plan. Christians prays, 'Thy will be done.' Accept what God has given us with humility and happiness. Be happy with what we have rather than being unhappy about what we don't have.
A commentary on the Yoga Sutra says: "Contentment counts for more than all sixteen heavens together." Instead of complaining about things that go wrong, we can accept what has happened and learn from them. Samtosa encompasses our mental activities such as study, our physical efforts, and even how we earn our living. It is about ourselves-what we have and how we feel about what God has given us. It is about our whole outlook on life. Do we look at a cup as half empty or as half full?
Tapas
Tapas refers to the activity of keeping the body fit or to confront and handle the inner urges without outer show. Literally it means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea that we can get rid of the rubbish in our body. Asanas and pranayama are tools we can use to keep ourselves healthy. Another form of tapas is paying attention to what we eat. Eating when we are not hungry is the opposite of tapas. Attention to body posture, attention to eating habits, attention to breathing patterns-these are all tapas that help to prevent the buildup of rubbish in the body, including excess weight and shortness of breath. Tapas makes the whole body fit and well functioning. It gives us the discipline of developing healthy eating habits and prevent us from getting high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Svadhyaya
The fourth niyama is svadhyaya. Sva means "self' or "belonging to me." Adhyaya means "inquiry" or "examination". The word svadhyaya literally means, "to get close to something." It means to get close to yourself, that is, to study yourself. It could also mean meditation or contemplation. It teaches us to be centered and non-reactive to the dualities, to burn out unwanted and destructive tendencies.
All learning, all reflection, all contact that helps you to learn more about yourself is svadhyaya. In the context of the niyama the term is often translated as "the study of ancient texts." Yes, yoga does instruct us to read the ancient texts because we cannot always just sit down and contemplate things. We need reference points. The world is changing fast around us. We can read the Bible or a book on spiritual healing or one that is of personal significance or the Yoga Sutra. According to the Yoga Sutra, as we progress in our self-examination, we will gradually find a link with the divine laws and with the prophets who revealed them. And since mantras are often recited for this purpose, we sometimes find svadhyaya translated as "the repetition of mantras."
Isvarapranidhana
Isvarapranidhana means "to lay all your actions at the feet of God." It is the contemplation on God (Isvara) in order to become attuned to god and god's will. We should accept the fact that we will not always get everything we want. Sometimes we get disappointed. Things do go wrong. This is the reason why samtosa (modesty) is so important. We have done our share. We have done the best we could under the circumstances. We can leave the rest to a higher power. In the context of the niyamas we can define Isvarapranidhana as the attitude of a person who usually offers the fruits of his or her action to God in daily prayer.


Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Asanas (Yogic postures)


Asana’ means staying or abiding. Asana is one way in which a person can experience the unity of body and mind. Asana is defined as that which is comfortable and easy, as well as firm. In the west, asana is commonly called "posture". Yogic postures (asanas) are prescribed for the purpose of comfort and firmness during meditation and the practice of pranayama. An upright seated posture in which one can sit with comfort and no need to move is ideal for meditation.
Asana is a dynamic position, in which the practitioner is perfectly poised between activity and nonactivity. There is a corresponding mental balance between movement and stillness. Indeed, Patanjali teaches that each posture reflects a mental attitude, whether that attitude be one of surrender, as in a forward-bending asana, or the strengthening of the will, through backward-bending postures, or the creation of a physical prayer with the body, as in the practice of Padmasana, the well-known lotus posture.
Yoga Sutra says that when we master asanas we are able to handle opposites. To be able to handle opposites does not mean going outside naked in winter or dressing in warm woolen clothing in summer. It means that we become more sensitive. We learn to adapt because we know our body better. We know how our body reacts in different situations.
Practically speaking, we should be able to stand for a few minutes with ease; we should be able to sit for a while easily as well. One advantage of asana practice is that it helps us get used to different situations and be able to cope with different demands. If we want to practice pranayama, for example, we have to be able to sit comfortably erect for a period of time. Asanas help us focus on the breath rather than the body during pranayama practice. If we can sit comfortably and effortlessly erect there is nothing to distract us from our concentration on the breath.
Asana is a two-way street. Once the mental attitude has been created, it can then be spontaneously expressed as an asana; if one takes on the external form of an internal attitude, soon that attitude moves through body into mind, thus creating it there. Whichever way one works, the results are the same. Asana is thus both a preparation for meditation and a meditation sufficient in and of itself.
Another advantage of asana is that it is direct. It can temporarily bring peace and quiet the mind. This quieting encourages the balancing of the mental functions of the individual, since it allows the intuitive aspects of the mind to have free play. This soothing effect on the brain has been verified by EEG data of brain during meditation. It has great healing implications.
Patanjali suggests that the asana and the pranayama practices will bring about the desired state of health; the control of breath and bodily posture will harmonize the flow of energy in the organism, thus creating a fertile field for the evolution of the spirit.

Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Pranayama (Breath Control)
Pranayama is the fourth limb of Ashtanga Yoga. Pranayama is the measuring, control, and directing of the breath. Pranayama controls the energy within the organism, in order to restore and maintain health and to promote evolution.
Pranayama gives control of breathing processes and control of vital force. When the inflowing breath is neutralized or joined with the outflowing breath, then perfect relaxation and balance of body activities are realized. In yoga, we are concerned with balancing the flows of vital forces, then directing them inward to the chakra system and upward to the crown chakra or thousand petaled lotus (sahasara).
Pranayama or breathing technique is very important in yoga. It goes hand in hand with the asana or pose. In the Yoga Sutras, the practices of pranayama and asana are considered to be the highest form of purification and self discipline for the mind and the body, respectively. The practices produce the actual physical sensation of heat, called tapas, or the inner fire of purification. It is taught that this heat is part of the process of purifying the nadis, or subtle nerve channels of the body. This allows a more healthful state to be experienced and allows the mind to become more calm.


Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Pratyahara (Retraction of the Senses)

Pratyahara is the fifth limb of Ashtanga Yoga. Pratyahara means drawing back or retreat. The word ahara means "nourishment"; pratyahara translates as "to withdraw oneself from that which nourishes the senses." In yoga, the term pratyahara implies withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects.
What does this mean? It means our senses stop living off the things that stimulate; the senses no longer depend on these stimulants and are not fed by them any more. Let us look at this concept a little closely. When we see a sunset, first our eyes are drawn to it; the eyes sent a message to the brain; the brain computer will assimilate the information sent by the eyes and form the picture of the sunset. This is the way our senses function normally. But there is also the possibility that the most beautiful sunset on earth will not attract our attention, will not engage our senses, because we are deeply immersed in something else. We may be concentrating on something without any awareness of what is going around us. Normally the senses say to the mind: "Look at this! Smell this! Touch that!" The senses register an object and the mind is drawn to it at once.
In pratyahara we sever this link between mind and senses, and the senses withdraw. Each sense perception has a particular quality to which it relates: the eyes relate to the form of something; the ears to the sound, the vibration it makes; the nose to its smell. In pratyahara it is as if things are spread out with all their attractions before our senses, but they are ignored; the senses remain unmoved and uninfluenced. In effect the brain will disregard all that is received by the various sensory organs and will only accept and process the signals sent by sensory organs at the command of the brain. Now we have control over our senses rather than being controlled by them.
For example, when we are totally absorbed in the breath during pranayama, pratyahara occurs quite automatically. The mind is so intensely occupied with the breath that all links between mind, senses, and external objects that have nothing to do with the breath are cut off. So pratyahara is not a state of sleep. The senses are quite capable of responding, but they do not because they have withdrawn or detached.
When the senses are no longer tied to external sources, the result is restraint, interiorization or pratyahara. Now that the vital forces are flowing back to the Source within, one can concentrate without being distracted by externals or the temptation to cognize externals. A person experiences this state, to a degree, just before going to sleep or upon awakening. We are aware of what is going on; but, are not overly influenced by what is going outside. We can achieve a similar condition at any time of the day by practicing pratyahara. It is easy for us to "be in the world but not of it" when we learn to practice interiorization of the sense currents. We can be aware of the world (at times other than during meditation) but not be attached to it. Practicing this restraint, one soon finds that tendencies and habits are neutralized, because "needs" are abandoned. This discipline allows us to practice meditation any time any place.
Pratyahara occurs almost automatically when we meditate because we are so absorbed in the object of meditation. Precisely because the mind is so focused, the senses follow it; it is not happening the other way around. No longer functioning in their usual manner, the senses become extraordinarily sharp. Under normal circumstances the senses become our masters rather than being our servants. The senses entice us to develop cravings for all sorts of things. In pratyahara the opposite occurs: when we have to eat we eat, but not because we have a craving for food. In pratyahara we try to put the senses in their proper place, but not cut them out of our actions entirely.
Much of our emotional imbalance are our own creation. A person who is influenced by outside events and sensations can never achieve the inner peace and tranquility. This is because he or she will waste much mental and physical energy in trying to suppress unwanted sensations and to heighten other sensations. This will eventually result in a physical or mental imbalance, and will, in most instances, result in illness.
Patanjali says that the above process is at the root of human unhappiness and uneasiness. When people seek out yoga, hoping to find that inner peace which is so evasive, they find that it was theirs all along. In a sense, yoga is nothing more than a process which enables us to stop and look at the processes of our own minds; only in this way can we understand the nature of happiness and unhappiness, and thus transcend them both.


Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Dharana (Fixation of Attention)

Dharana is the sixth limb of Ashtanga Yoga. Dhr means "to hold." Literally, the word dharana means ‘immovable concentration of the mind’. The essential idea is to hold the concentration or focus of attention in one direction. This is not the forced concentration of, for example, solving a difficult mathematics problem; rather dharana is a form of meditation which could be called receptive concentration.
For example, imagine a large reservoir of water used by farmers for watering their fields. There are channels leading away from the reservoir in different directions. If the farmer has dug all the channels the same depth, the water runs equally in all directions. But if one channel is deeper than the others, more water flows through it. This is what happens in dharana: we create the conditions for the mind to focus its attention in one direction instead of going out in many different directions. Deep contemplation and reflection can create the right conditions, and the focus on this one point that we have chosen becomes more intense. We encourage one particular activity of the mind and, the more intense it becomes, the more the other activities of the mind fall away.
The objective in dharana is to steady the mind by focusing its attention upon some stable entity. Before retracting his senses, on may practice focusing attention on a single inanimate object. After such retraction, some inner means of focusing may help. Practices such as:

Rolling the eyes upward and holding them together, as if attending to a spot in the center of the forehead,
Rolling the eyes downward, as if attending to the navel,

Rolling the eyes forward, as if attending to the tip of the nose,

are very popular in this regard. The particular object selected has nothing to do with the general purpose, which is to stop the mind from wandering -through memories, dreams, or reflective thought-by deliberately holding it single-mindedly upon some apparently static object.
When the mind has become purified by yoga practices, it becomes able to focus efficiently on one subject or point of experience. Now we can unleash the great potential for inner healing. If the yogi chooses to focus on a center ("chakra") of the inner energy flow, he or she can directly experience the physical and mental blocks and imbalances that remain in his or her system. This ability to concentrate depends on excellent psychological health and integration and is not an escape from reality, but rather a movement toward perception of its true nature.


Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Dhyana (Devotion, Fusive Apprehension)

Dhyana is the seventh limb of Ashtanga Yoga. Dhyana means worship, or profound and abstract religious meditation. It is perfect contemplation. It involves concentration upon a point of focus with the intention of knowing the truth about it.
During dhyana, the consciousness is further unified by combining clear insights into distinctions between objects and between the subtle layers of veils that surround intuition. We learn to differentiate between the mind of the perceiver, the means of perception, and the objects perceived, between words, their meanings, and ideas, and between all the levels of evolution of the nature. We realize that these are all fused in an undifferentiated continuum. One must apprehend both subject and object clearly in order to perceive their similarities, for a clear grasp of real identity of two apparently different things requires a clear grasp of their seeming difference. Thus dhyana is apprehension of real identity among ostensible differences.
During dharana the mind is moving in one direction like a quiet river-nothing else is happening. In dhyana, one becomes involved with a particular thing - a link is established between self and object. In other words, you perceive a particular object and at the same time continuously communicate with it. Dharana must precede dhyana, because the mind needs focusing on a particular object before a connection can be made. Dharana is the contact, and dhyana is the connection.
Obviously, to focus the attention to one point will not result in insight or realization. One must identify and become "one with" the object of contemplation, in order to know for certain the truth about it. In dhyana, the consciousness of the practitioner is in one flow; it is no longer fixed on one subject as in dharana.


Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Samadhi (Fully Integrated Consciousness)

The final step in Ashtanga Yoga is the attainment of Samadhi.
When we succeed in becoming so absorbed in something that our mind becomes completely one with it, we are in a state of samadhi. Samadhi means "to bring together, to merge." In samadhi our personal identity-name, profession, family history, social security number, driver's license number etc.-completely disappears. In the moment of samadhi none of that exists anymore. Nothing separates us from the object of our choice; instead we blend and become one with it.
During samadhi, we realize what it is to be an identity without differences, and how a liberated soul can enjoy pure awareness of this pure identity. The conscious mind drops back into that unconscious oblivion from which it first emerged. The final stage terminates at the instant the soul is freed. The absolute and eternal freedom of an isolated soul is beyond all stages and beyond all time and place. Once freed, it does not return to bondage.
Thus, samadhi refers to the union of the contemplating being with the object of contemplation. Here, the object of the meditation and the meditator become one. This is like the unity of process; it is like the union of function and structure. The polarity of viewer and viewed, like the polarity of opposites, is no longer relevant; the mind does not distinguish between self and non-self, or between the object contemplated and the process of contemplation. There are various stages of samadhi, depending upon whether one is identified with the object while yet conscious of the object, or whether one has transcended the object of meditation and is resting in the experience of being, without conceptual support or without support of any aspect of Consciousness.
Pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi cannot be practiced. A person cannot simply sit down and say, "Right now I am going to do dharana." All the person can do is to create the right conditions to help bring about a state of dharana; For example, he or she can practice asanas and pranayama that, according to the Yoga Sutra, create favorable conditions for the mind to enter these states. In order to experience dharana and dhyana, the mind must first be in a particular condition. Allow the many things that are going on in the mind to settle so that it becomes quiet. If the mind is too busy responding to external stimuli, it cannot enter into a state of dharana. Forcing dharana when your mind is not ready for it can get you into trouble. For this reason the Yoga Sutra suggests the practice of asanas and pranayama as preparation for dharana, because these influence mental activities and create space in the crowded schedule of the mind. Once dharana has occurred, dhyana and samadhi can follow.
The perfection of samadhi embraces and glorifies all aspects of the self by subjecting them to the light of understanding. The person capable of samadhi retains his or her individuality and person, but is free of the emotional attachment to it.


Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga
Kaivalya


Kaivalya describes the effect on the personality of being in a continuous state of samadhi. This is the state of inner freedom that yoga strives for. The word kevala means "to keep to oneself," and kaivalya is sometimes explained as isolation or aloofness. A person in the state of kaivalya understands the world so well that he stands apart from it in the sense that he is not influenced by it, although he may well be in a position to influence the world. People in kaivalya behave like normal people, but they do not carry the burden of the world on their shoulders. They live in the world, but they are not subject to it. They are not free from sensual perception or free of the body, but they are a bit different. Wherever they happen to be, they are sure of themselves. That is kaivalya. External forces have no power over a person like this, though he knows the external world very well.
According to yoga, the purpose of the whole of creation is to give us a context for understanding what we are and what we are not. When we understand that, then there is kaivalya, and prakrti has fulfilled its purpose. A person who experiences kaivalya sees prakrti, the material world, simply as it is, with no meaning beyond that.
By practicing asanas we become more flexible; by practicing pranayama we gain control over our breath. Similarly, with kaivalya: something gradually happens that is beyond our control. We cannot pinpoint the exact moment we attain that state. It is similar to the moment we fall asleep: we cannot pinpoint it. Either we miss the moment or we do not sleep.
There are two forces within us: one comes from our old conditioning, habits and experiences; the other is our new conditioning that develops out of our changing behavior. In this condition, our mind is constantly swinging between the old and the new. But when the old force disappears, the mind no longer swings back and forth. We have reached another state, and it is felt as a continuum.
These eight steps of yoga indicate a logical pathway that leads to the attainment of physical, ethical, emotional, and psycho-spiritual health. Yoga does not seek to change the individual; rather, it allows the natural state of total health and integration in each of us to become a reality.


Acu-Yoga
Acu-yoga is a hybrid practice combining traditional yoga and acupressure. Both systems relax muscular tension and balance the vital life forces of the body. In yoga this is accomplished by controlling the breath while holding the body in certain postures. In acupressure body energy is directly manipulated by means of a system of points and meridians. This vital energy is called prana in yoga, chi in Chinese Medicine and ki for Japanese. The meridians are the pathways that the vital energy flows through, and the points are places where you can tap into that energy.
Acupressure enthusiasts and Chinese medicine practitioners believe that when tension accumulates around these points, it prevents the energy from flowing properly, creating an excess of energy in one area of the body and a deficiency in another. Acu-Yoga postures are designed to naturally press and stretch certain nerves, muscles, and acupressure points, awakening the meridians and releasing the tension in the points, so that the energy can circulate freely. This process balances the body as a whole, and also stimulates its natural ability to heal itself.
Neck Tension
To Chinese, the neck is the "pillar of heaven." A healthy person’s mind is calm and at peace. The neck, however, is the first area of the body where tension hits. Whenever a person is under any sort of stress, the neck is one area that always becomes tense.
The Neck And The Meridians
Many meridians travel through the neck within a small area. When there is tension in the neck, these meridian flows can intermingle and cause complications, such as stiffness, sore throat, or swollen glands.
The acupressure points in the neck are known as "windows of the sky." When the neck is strong, flexible, and in proper alignment, these "windows" are clear and open. When tension interferes, however, it can affect us in many ways, and we become more closed physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Since the neck is such a key area, and so prone to tension, it is especially important to practice techniques to unblock it. Acu-yoga accomplishes it.
Exercises For The Neck
The following are examples of poses applicable for exercises for neck:
Pillar Of Heaven Pose
Pillar Of Heaven Pose
1.

Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels.
2.

Inhale, and clasp your hands together behind your neck.
3.

Lean forward as you exhale, and place your head on the floor. Tuck the chin into the chest.
4.

Raise your buttocks up and gently move forward on the top of your head, stretching the neck muscles.
5.

Breathe long and deep.
6.

Slowly turn your head to each side and gently lean forward, so that other areas of the neck are stretched. The sore points on the top of the head facilitate the release of chronic neck tensions.
7.

Continue, stretching both sides and the middle of the neck, for two minutes.
8.

Inhale and return to a sitting position.
9.

Relax for a few minutes on your back,
Windows Of The Sky Pose
Windows Of The Sky Pose
1.

Lie on your back.
2.

Clasp your hands together behind your neck.
3.

Exhale, and slowly pull the head up, using your arm muscles. The heels of the palms should be firmly pressing the sides of your neck.
4.

Breathe deeply, keeping the head up in this manner. Eyes are closed. Relax into the pose.
5.

Continue for three minutes.
6.

Bring the elbows together, stretching further. The shoulder blades remain on the floor.
7.

Inhale and slowly lower the head to the floor.
8.

Relax with your arms by your sides.

Boat Pose
1.

Lie on your stomach, feet together and arms at your sides. Rest your head on your chin.
2.

Stretch your arms so that they are straight in front of you, on the floor.
3.

As you slowly and deeply inhale, arch your back, lifting your arms, chest, head, and legs off the ground.
4.

Begin long, deep breathing. Push beyond the time you think you can hold the pose, working up to one minute.
5.

Inhale deeply and stretch up, then exhale and relax down. Let your arms be by your sides, and turn your head to the side.
6.

Relax for at least three minutes.
This exercise is also beneficial for developing stamina and concentration, strengthening the lower back, improving circulation, and balancing the abdominal area.

Ashtanga yoga, Power Yoga or Ashtanga vinyasa yoga


Power or Ashtanga yoga is a "sweaty, aerobic form of yoga" taught by Mysore master K. Pattabhi Jois. It is often touted as "a workout that can change your life if you can survive it." It is often characterized as a yoga with a boot camp flavor.
For centuries, the term ashtanga yoga has been used to refer to the eight-fold system of practice prescribed by the sage Patanjali. K. Pattabhi Jois’ version of ashtanga yoga emphasizes a vigorous approach to the asana (posture) and pranayama (breath control) components of classical ashtanga. To avoid the confusion with traditional ashtanga yoga, some people refer Jois’s system as Ashtanga vinyasa yoga or as power yoga.
Heart of Ashtanga Yoga:
The core Ashtanga practice consists of six progressively difficult series of linked postures, each requiring between 90 minutes to three hours to complete
The structure of Ashtanga makes you repeatedly go through an entire spectrum of postures, some of which are displeasing or difficult. The series work like a combination lock. If you do the right poses in the right order, the mind and the body automatically open up.
Each series unlocks a particular aspect of the body and mind. The primary series called yoga chikitsa (yoga therapy) realign and detoxify the physical body, particularly the spine. It also builds a foundation of considerable physical strength, especially important to balance out the overly flexible students who are often drawn to hatha yoga practice. The intermediate series, nadi shodana (cleansing of the nadis or river or channels), purifies and strengthens the nervous system and the subtle energy channels that link the seven chakras.
The four advanced series (originally taught as two series, but subdivided to make them more accessible) are collectively known as sthira bhaga (divine stability). These sequences take to new heights the strength, flexibility, concentration, and energy flow cultivated in the first two series.
A typical astayoga class will begin with a Sanskrit prayer. When the chanting dies away, your teacher will remind you to deploy the three central techniques in the Ashtanga arsenal: ujjayi breathing, mula bandha, and a variation of uddiyana bandha.
Ujjayi breathing (the victorious breath) is a classic pranayama technique in which the breath passes across the back of the throat with a sibilant hiss. Used throughout the Ashtanga series, it keeps the breath steady and controlled and draws the minds attention inward, facilitating meditation in motion. Details.
Mula bandha (root lock) is a traditional hatha yoga energy-raising practice, although most schools don’t employ it during asana practice. Mula bandha draws the awareness to the core of the body, intensifying and drawing upward the energy at the base of the spine.
Uddiyana bandha (upward lock) kicks in almost automatically as a side effect of a strong mula bandha. The lower belly below the navel sucks inward, firming the abdomen and drawing the breath up to expand the rib cage, chest, and lungs. (The diaphragm, however, does not harden, but continues to move freely.) Over time, uddiyana bandha actually helps increase lung capacity.
All three of these techniques - ujjayi breathing, mula bandha, and uddiyana bandha - are to be practiced continually throughout the Ashtanga series: in itself a challenging exercise in concentration. One of Pattabhi Jois’ favorite slogans is "Ashtanga yoga is 99 percent practice, one percent theory." As David Williams, an Ashtanga teacher on the Hawaiian island of Maui, explains, "Before you’ve practiced, the theory is useless. After you’ve practiced, the theory is obvious."
With the breathing established and the locks engaged, you’ll begin a series of Sun Salutations to warm up the body. One of the central principles of Ashtanga yoga is tapas, or heat: the more you sweat, the better. Studios are generally kept hot, and the nonstop flow of demanding postures ensures profuse perspiration. The heat loosens the muscles, helping prevent injury and making it easier to melt into the postures. The physical heat and purification is intended to intensify an inner, spiritual fire that burns through ignorance and delusion, ultimately consuming the ego in its flames.
Once the standing poses are completed, you’ll be sufficiently warmed up to commence the sequences that are unique to each series. Although each series comprises a balanced workout, each has a particular focus: The 30-odd postures of first series, for example, concentrate predominantly on forward bends, while second series emphasizes deep backbends, foot-behind-the-head postures, and seven variations of Headstand.
Every series ends with the same cool-down sequence of finishing poses, which includes Shoulder stand, Headstand, Bound Lotus, seated meditation, and a lengthy rest in Savasana, or Corpse Pose. Finishing poses balance out the body and return the metabolic rate to normal, allowing the nervous system to absorb the benefits of the practice.
Don’t Overdo It
One of the real danger in Ashtanga Yoga is that students may try to overdo and get hurt in the process. The exercises are quite demanding and have to be done in series, one flowing into the next. It should be learned at the expert guidance of a teacher. Some poses are quite brutal and may not be suitable to all. Be aware of your physical limitations in performing these exercises. Some practitioners have modified the series to make it more adaptable to a wide range of audience. The traditionalists scorn this idea.
And ultimately, the most difficult challenge in Ashtanga practice is not the mastery of specific poses, but the mastery of the mind. What counts is not the ability to stand on the hands or drop into a backbend, but the ability to keep the mind steady and the heart joyful, no matter what posture you’re in. Ashtanga is about seeing God continuously, wherever you gaze.
In the end, it is all worthwhile. The bliss brought by this yoga is to be experienced.
"Then there are those moments that make it all worthwhile. I’m carried on my breath like a leaf on the wind: folding, arching, twisting, bending, leaping lightly from one posture to the next. My body tingles with energy; my mind is quietly absorbed in the hypnotic rhythm of practice. The poses seem strung on the breath like prayer beads on a mala; I enter each one to the best of my ability, savoring the silky stretches, the pleasurable ache of muscles taxed to their edge."
Anne Cushman, Yoga Journal, January/February 1995


Yoga's View Of Nutrition

The basic principle of nutrition, from the yoga perspective, is to eat small quantities of high quality foods. The high quality foods are those which promote the life force of the body without producing toxins. The recommended foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.
Incredibly, yoga's principles of nutrition are very similar to what modern science has discovered in more recent times.
Meat
The yoga advises to be cautious of eating meat. Not all yogis are vegetarians, but they all recommend eating meat in strict moderation. According to yoga, the meat, being animal flesh, has a low vibration rate and will lower the life force of the person eating it. This will cause a reduction in vitality and slow down your progress from yoga. Meat also contains toxins, especially lactic acid, which is a waste product of muscle metabolism.
We now know that meat contain fat, cholesterol and other substances that are toxic to our bodies. Thus the advise to eat meat in moderation is certainly well taken.
Fruit
The yogis' favorite food is fruit. They consider fruit to possess the highest life force of all foods. Fruit is also very nutritious. They can be eaten raw or unprocessed and are easily digested. It provides a quick and sustained source of energy with no toxins. It is no wonder the yogis favor fruit.
Vegetables
The yogis consider the green vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and so on, to have the highest life force of all vegetables.
Fresh Food
Yoga also stresses that food should be as fresh as possible. This means we should rely more on fresh fruits and vegetables than on frozen or canned foods. Frozen food is not so bad, since the enzymes are preserved, but canned food has been preheated, which destroys a lot of the vitamins and minerals and the enzymes.
Raw Food
The yogis also state that the greater proportion of our food should be eaten raw; for example, fruits, salad, raw nuts and sprouted grains. They consider that the cooking of food causes it to lose a lot of its life force, as well as its flavor. Because of this we need to add salt, spices and sauces, which often create more problems. Modern science is in complete agreement with this.
Food Temperature
The yogis state that food should neither be too hot nor too cold. They claim that very hot or very cold food or drinks can cause harm to the tissue of the throat. Modern science also agrees with this and considers that food and beverages which are too hot or cold may irritate the throat sufficiently to predispose it to cancer.
Alcohol
Yogis do not touch alcohol, since they consider it to lower the vibrations of their subtle body (astral body). This defeats the purpose of yoga, which is to increase the vibrational level so they can gradually unfold their Higher Self.
Yoga also considers alcohol to have an adverse effect on the central nervous system, and in particular the brain. The integrity of the central nervous system is considered very important by the yogis, since one of the goals of yoga is to improve the health of this system, and much of the progress of yoga is achieved via this vital communication system.
Modern science agrees with yoga on this point, since alcohol is known to first stimulate and then shortly afterwards depress the central nervous system.
Alcohol also causes poor sleep. Alcohol cannot compare with the effects of yoga. Yoga produces a natural stimulation without the depressing after-effect. Yoga also produces a general feeling of elation. The increase in life force produced by practicing yoga cannot be duplicated by drugs.
Eat Slowly
The yogis place great emphasis on eating slowly. It is more important than on the type of food eaten. They claim that even nutritious food is not properly digested if eaten quickly. This means that, as well as not extracting all the nutrients from the food, you are also creating toxins in the body.
Even if you eat food which is not very nutritious, if it is eaten slowly and your digestive system is in good health from yoga exercises, your body will extract every last nutrient from the food, as well as eliminating all the toxins. Of course the intelligent way is to eat nutritious food and chew it slowly.


Yoga – The Benefits

Healing Effects of Yoga
Health Conditions Benefited By Yoga
Asthma
Respiration Problems - Bronchitis and Emphysema
High Blood Pressure
Pain Management
Back Pain
Self-Awareness
Mental Performance
Diabetes
Mood Change And Vitality
Arthritis

Anti-ageing Properties of Yoga: Remain Young Forever!
Yoga For Weight Reduction
Yoga and Mental Health
Personal Values
Social Values

Yoga and Beauty

Yoga and Sex
Yoga and Pride
Yoga and Knowledge
Yoga and Wealth
Yoga for Insomnia

Healing Effects of Yoga:
Yoga has been used for disorders such as:




Acid Stomach


Addictions,


Asthma:


Backache


Bronchitis


Cancer,


Cold


Constipation


Depression


Diabetes (not a cure!)


Emphysema


Eyestrain


Flatulence


Headache


Heart Disorders,


Hypertension (High Blood Pressure),


Indigestion


Insomnia


Menstrual disorders


Migraines,


Neurasthenia


Obesity


Premenstrual Tension,


Prostate troubles


Rheumatism


Sciatica


Sexual debility


Sinus


Skin diseases


Sore throat


Stress And Tension


Wrinkles
Yoga is being assessed for its potential in treating illnesses such as:




Multiple Sclerosis,


Cerebral Palsy,


Osteoporosis,


Rheumatoid Arthritis And


Depression Experienced After Childbirth.
Thousands of studies have shown that yoga can allow people to control a wide range of body functions, including


Blood pressure


Body temperature


Brain waves (as measured by EEG)


Heart rate


Metabolic rate


Respiratory function


skin resistance
Studies show that people who practice yoga have:


Reduced anxiety,


Are more resistant to stress, and


Have lower blood pressure,


More efficient heart function,


Better respiratory function, and


Improved physical fitness.

Health Conditions Benefited By Yoga
The following is a summary of the results of a survey conducted by Yoga Biomedical Trust in 1983-84. 3000 individuals with health ailments for which yoga was prescribed as an alternative therapy were surveyed. The results show that yoga is very effective for treating alcoholism, back pain, nerve or muscle disease, heart disease management, anxiety, arthritis, ulcers and managing cancer. The complete results are shown in the table below.
Ailment

Number of Cases Reporting

Percent Claiming Benefit
Back Pain

1,142

98
Arthritis or rheumatism

589

90
Anxiety

838

94
Migraine

464

80
Insomnia

542

82
Nerve or muscle disease

112

96
Menstrual problems

317

68
Premenstrual tension

848

77
Menopause disorders

247

83
Hypertension

150

84
Heart disease

50

94
Asthma or bronchitis

226

88
Duodenal ulcers

40

90
Hemorrhoids

391

88
Obesity

240

74
Diabetes

10

80
Cancer

29

90
Tobacco addiction

219

74
Alcoholism

26

100

Asthma
Studies conducted at yoga institutions in India have reported impressive success in improving asthma. For example, one study of 255 people with asthma found that yoga resulted in improvement or cure in 74 percent of asthma patients. Another study of 114 patients treated over one year by yoga found a 76 percent rate of improvement or cure and that asthma attacks could usually be prevented by yoga methods without resorting to drugs.
Yet another Indian study of 15 people with asthma claims a 93 percent improvement rate over a 9-year period. That study found improvement was linked with improved concentration, and the addition of a meditative procedure made the treatment more effective than simple postures and pranayama. Yoga practice also resulted in greater reduction in anxiety scores than drug therapy. Its authors believe that yoga practice helps patients through enabling them to gain access to their own internal experience and increased self-awareness.
A study of 46 adolescents with asthma found that yoga practice resulted in a significant increase in pulmonary function and exercise capacity and led to fewer symptoms and medications. Patients were given daily training in yoga for 90 minutes in the morning and one hour in the evening for 40 days. Practice included yogic cleansing procedures (kriyas), maintenance of yogic body postures (asanas), and yogic breathing practices (pranayama).

Respiration Problems - Bronchitis and Emphysema
In an experiment conducted in Western Australia, 22 male patients aged 52 to 65 were selected. They suffered severe breathing problems such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema - that made normal breathing impossible.
Half of the men underwent standard treatment: physiotherapy, that included relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and general workouts to improve stamina.
The other 11 men were given a yoga teacher instead of a physiotherapist. He taught them techniques of yoga breathing, which encouraged the use of all chest and abdominal muscles as well as ten yoga postures.
The patients practiced their particular exercises for nine months. Then they were reexamined at the hospital: a technician tested their lung function, a physician screened them closely to determine how their symptoms had changed, and a stationary exercise bicycle was used to measure their capacity for exercise.
The difference between the two groups was striking. The men who had practiced yoga showed a significant improvement in their ability to exercise, but the physiotherapy group did not. Eight or more out of the 11 patients who underwent yoga declared that they had definitely increased tolerance for exertion and that they recovered more quickly after exertion The physiotherapy group reported no similar improvement.
Best of all, the patients who had studied yoga apparently gained the ability to control their breathing problems. A significantly greater number of patients reported that "with the help of yogic breathing exercises, they could control an attack of severe shortness of breath without having to seek medical help," according to the study.
Doctors analyzing the results from the study postulate that, after the training, the breathing pattern of the patients in the yoga group changed to a slower and deeper cycle, allowing them to tolerate higher work loads. Patients in the physiotherapy group continued in their shallow rapid breathing pattern. This may explain the higher tolerance breathing problems by the yoga group.
Other studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of yoga for patients with respiratory problems.

High Blood Pressure
The relaxation and exercise components of yoga have a major role to play in the treatment and prevention of high blood pressure (hypertension). A combination of biofeedback and yogic breathing and relaxation techniques has been found to lower blood pressure and reduce the need for high blood pressure medication in people suffering from high blood pressure. In 20 patients with high blood pressure who practiced biofeedback and yoga techniques, five were able to stop their blood pressure medication completely, five were able to reduce significantly the amount of medication they were taking, and another four had lower blood pressure than at the beginning of the three-month study.

Pain Management
Yoga is believed to reduce pain by helping the brain's pain center regulate the gate-controlling mechanism located in the spinal cord and the secretion of natural painkillers in the body. Breathing exercises used in yoga can also reduce pain. Because muscles tend to relax when you exhale, lengthening the time of exhalation can help produce relaxation and reduce tension. Awareness of breathing helps to achieve calmer, slower respiration and aid in relaxation and pain management.
Yoga's inclusion of relaxation techniques and meditation can also help reduce pain. Part of the effectiveness of yoga in reducing pain is due to its focus on self-awareness. This self-awareness can have a protective effect and allow for early preventive action.

Back Pain
Back pain is the most common reason to seek medical attention. Yoga has consistently been used to cure and prevent back pain by enhancing strength and flexibility. Both acute and long-term stress can lead to muscle tension and exacerbate back problems. A number of components of yoga help to ease back pain:
* Asanas (Postures)-Practicing of postures provides gentle stretching and movements that increase flexibility and help correct bad posture. * Pranayama (Breathing Exercises) -Breathing patterns can affect the spine in various ways, such as movement of the ribs and changes in pressure within the chest and abdomen. Exhaling can help relax muscles.* Relaxation and Meditation- Relaxation provides a physiologic antidote to stress. Imaging techniques may also be used. For example, imagining a movement before it is actually performed makes it easier to move the muscles that are being used.
Self-Awareness
Yoga also strives to increase self-awareness on both a physical and psychological level. This allows people to take early collective action, such as adjusting posture, when discomfort is first noticed.
Patients who study yoga learn to induce relaxation and then can use the technique whenever pain appears. Practicing yoga can provide chronic pain sufferers with useful tools to actively cope with their pain and help counter feelings of helplessness and depression.

Mental Performance
A common technique used in yoga is breathing through one nostril at a time. Electroencephalogram (EEG) studies of the electrical impulses of the brain have shown dial breathing through one nostril results in increased activity on the opposite side of the brain. Some experts suggest that the regular practice of breathing through one nostril may help improve communication between the right and left side of the brain.
Other studies show this increased brain activity is associated with better performance and suggest that yoga can enhance cognitive performance. For example, a study of 23 men found that breathing through one nostril resulted in better performance of tasks associated with the opposite side of the brain.

Diabetes
A study of 149 persons with non-insulin dependent diabetes found that 104 had lowered blood sugar and needed less oral antidiabetes medication after regularly practicing yoga. Because the patients were placed on a vegetarian diet during the study, however, the effect of yoga practice alone on blood sugar levels cannot be determined.

Mood Change And Vitality
Mental health and physical energy are difficult to quantify, but virtually everyone who participates in yoga over a period of time reports a positive effect on outlook and energy level. A British study of 71 healthy volunteers aged 21 to 76 found that a 30minute program of yogic stretching and breathing exercises was simple to learn and resulted in a "markedly invigorating" effect on perceptions of both mental and physical energy and improved mood.
The study compared relaxation, Visualization and yoga. It found that the yoga group had a significantly greater increase in perceptions of mental and physical energy and feelings of alertness and enthusiasm than the other groups. Relaxation was found to make people more sleepy and sluggish after a session, and visualization made them more sluggish and less content than those in the yoga group.
Arthritis
Yoga’s gentle exercises designed to provide relief to needed joints had been found to be very effective in relieving arthritis.
"Exercise has been recommended as treatment for arthritis for a long, long time -about 75 years," says Morris K Bowie, M.D., a rheumatologist at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Pennsylvania. "People were exercising their arthritic joints before yoga was ever introduced into this country. Exercise is very important to try to reestablish a complete range of motion. Of course, that doesn't mean you should induce a long continual strain. We encourage a moderate amount of non-strenuous, non-weight-bearing exercises tailored to the individual's needs. Some yoga postures are not tolerated well, particularly by those past 50."
Yoga’s slow-motion movements and gentle pressures reach deep into troubled joints. In addition, the easy stretches in conjunction with deep breathing exercises relieve the tension that binds up the muscles and further tightens the joints. Yoga is exercise and relaxation rolled into one - the perfect antiarthritis formula.
A major problem in prescribing exercise is in getting the patient to follow through. If an exercise program is painful and too strenuous, it isn’t likely to be continued. An arthritis sufferer probably will be startled at the mere mention of the word "exercise." Yoga eases you into exercise without causing strain or undue pain. Even if you are only able to move an inch and hold a position for five seconds, you are already enhancing your body's flexibility.
Some physicians have long recognized the advantages of yoga like exercises. Dr. Bowie recommends the pendulum, an arm-swinging exercise "devised by an orthopedic surgeon' for bursitis and shoulder stiffness. He also favors deep-breathing exercising for ankylosing spondylitis, an arthritis related condition affecting the joints of the spine.
It is important not to overdo these exercises. It will do more harm than good. Start with a few of the simple stretches. The simple leg pull, the chest expansion exercise, and the knee and thigh stretch are especially beneficial to the joints. If your arthritis is severe, use a modified version of these stretching exercises that suit your needs.
Then try some slow rotation exercises. Head circles performed in the yoga fashion - that is, slowly, with pauses in the forward, side and back positions - will help loosen up a stiff neck. Similarly, ankle rotation will improve arthritis conditions in those joints.
The Flower is a great yoga exercise for arthritic fingers. Whenever you think of it, make a tight fist and hold for five seconds. Then release and stretch your hand open as far as you can for an additional five seconds.
Ready to concentrate on those major problem areas? if your arthritis has come to rest in your spine, limber up that area with the seated spiral twist, the cobra, and the neck and shoulder stretch. Got it in the hips? Then lie down in bed and try some hip rolls.
Take a few days’ rest if the pain gets too intense. Resume again when you're feeling better.
Of course, on days that movement comes easy, don't overdo it. Overworked joints can be as painful as neglected ones. So, no matter how good the exercises feel, don't continue for more than a few minutes at a time. For people with severe arthritis, it's usually better to divide the daily yoga routine into about three or four segments of about five minutes each. Rest periods and deep-breathing exercises interspersed throughout the day's yoga sessions will help relax the muscles that tighten up joints.

Anti-ageing Properties of Yoga: Remain Young Forever!
According to yoga philosophy, it's the flexibility of the spine, not the number of years, that determines a person's age. Yoga slows down the aging process by giving elasticity to the spine, firming up the skin, removing tension from the body, strengthening the abdominal muscles, eliminating the possibility of a double chin, improving the tone of flabby arm muscles, correcting poor posture, preventing dowager's hump and so on. Yoga lets you trade in characteristics of old age for characteristics of youth.
Yoga is dynamite to make you feel younger with heightened mental prowness. Longer life often result from following yogic ways of health maintenance. When both external dangers and internal diseases and habits leading to degeneration have been removed, one naturally lives longer
Swami Nikhilananda wrote in ‘Vivekananda: The Yogas and Other Works’, as follows:


"The result of hatha yoga is simply to make men live long. Health is the chief idea, the one goal of hatha yoga. He is determined not to fall sick, and he never does. He lives long. A hundred years is nothing for him; but he is quite young and fresh when he is one hundred and fifty, without one hair turned gray."
The following are some of the anti-ageing effects of yoga, according to Dr. Paul Galbraith, author of ‘Reversing Ageing’:
1.

Live longer. Yoga affects all the important determinants of a long life: the brain, glands, spine and internal organs.
2.

Increased resistance to disease. Yoga produces a healthy strong body with increased immunity against disease. This increased resistance extends from the common cold to serious diseases like cancer.
3.

Increased vitality due to yoga's effect on the brain and glands.
4.

Rejuvenation of the glands. Yoga has a marked effect on the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and sex glands. This produces a feeling of well-being, prevents premature ageing and extends sexual virility well into old age.
5.

Look and feel younger. Yoga reduces facial wrinkles and produces a natural 'face-lift'. This is mainly due to the inverted postures. By doing the inverted postures for a few minutes each day, we reverse the effect of gravity and use it to our advantage. The result is firmer facial muscles, which cause a reduction in wrinkles, and a natural face-lift.
The inverted yoga postures often convert gray hair back to its natural color and they will certainly delay the onset of gray hair. This is due to the inverted postures causing an increase in blood supply to the hair follicles in the scalp. Also, the increased flexibility of the neck produced by the asanas removes pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the neck, causing an even greater blood supply to the scalp. The release of pressure on the nerves in the neck also causes the scalp muscles to relax, since the nerves in the neck supply the scalp muscles. This means that the hair follicles are better nourished and thicker healthier hair is the result.
Yoga will take years from your face and add years to your life. As you get older, you will take on an ageless appearance.
6.

Vision and hearing improve. Normal vision and hearing depend to a large extent on the eyes and ears receiving a good nerve and blood supply. The nerves and blood vessels which supply the eyes and ears have to pass through the neck. As we get older, the neck becomes less flexible, like the rest of the spine, and there is a tendency for nerves and blood vessels to be encroached upon as they travel through the neck. This impairs the nerve and blood supply to the eyes and ears, affecting their function. Yoga postures and yoga neck exercises improve the condition of the neck, resulting in better eyesight and improved hearing.
7.

Mental/emotional benefits. Because of yoga's rejuvenation effects on the glands and nervous system, including the brain, yoga results in a positive mental/emotional state. It will help you to feel more confident, enthusiastic and generally optimistic. You will also become more creative in your everyday life.
As you start to feet and took better and unfold more of your full potential, these positive mental and emotional states occur as a consequence.
Within a few weeks you will feel calmer and have better concentration. Within a few months, rejuvenation of the organs will start to occur.
You will take years from your face and add years to your life. As you get older, you will take on an ageless appearance.

Yoga For Weight Reduction:
Does yoga help in weight management? Most definitely. There are a number of factors involved. Firstly, some of the asanas stimulate sluggish glands to increase their hormonal secretions. The thyroid gland, especially, has a big effect on our weight because it affects body metabolism. There are several asanas, such as the shoulder stand and the fish posture, which are specific for the thyroid gland. Fat metabolism is also increased, so fat is converted to muscle and energy. This means that, as well as losing fat, you will have better muscle tone and a higher vitality level.
Secondly, yoga deep breathing increases the oxygen intake to the body cells, including the fat cells. This causes increased oxidation or burning up of fat cells. ). Yogic exercises induce more continuous and deeper breathing which gradually burns, sometimes forcefully, many of the calories already ingested.
Thirdly, yogic practices that reduce anxiety tend to reduce anxious eating. When under nervous strain we tend to gulp our food without attaining much genuine satisfaction. We end up in eating more. If, on the other hand, we approach our meals with greater calmness of mood, whether produced by habits which have calmed our life or by yoga (like a pause for prayer before a meal), we tend to be less likely to overeat in a frantic effort to quiet our midday anxieties.
Lastly, yogic aids may be employed between meals whenever one becomes tempted to search for a snack. One may deliberately turn to yoga, rather than to the icebox or snack bar, when he feels the need for a lift or relief from restless nervousness. Practicing yoga may make you aware of your weight problem that may also act as a deterrent from overeating.
If you are not overweight, your weight will remain about the same. If you are underweight, you will gain weight. The weight you gain will be healthy firm tissue, not fat. That is, yoga will tend to produce the ideal weight for you. This is due to yoga's effect of 'normalizing' glandular activity.
An article that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner of October 13, 1959 shows that the weight reduction potential of yoga was recognized in the USA more than quarter of a century ago.
"Would you like to lose weight without resorting to the miseries of dieting? Well, try the miseries of Yoga exercises instead. One staunch advocate is Metropolitan Opera star Robert Merrill, who has been practicing these exercises for two years, and keeps trying to win converts. In those two years he has lost twenty pounds and now he's down to a trim, rhythmic-breathing one hundred and sixty, even though he continues to eat like a lumber jack. 'At one time I went on a lot of diets but just couldn't lose any weight,' he said. 'Then along came Yoga and look at me now.' He punched his hard flat stomach and started breathing through one nostril. And to further demonstrate what it's all about, he did a little flip and stood on his head. After that he showed the lotus position, legs scissored under the body. Was he still breathing through one nostril? Yes, the other one. 'If people weren't so lazy they wouldn't have to worry about diets,' he said."
For those whose eating habits, whether at meals or between meals, are believed to be due to feelings of weakness rather than anxieties, most yogic postures and breathing exercises are designed to increase one's strength. Hence, they may relieve feelings of weakness more effectively than additional eating. The exercises themselves, although consuming some energy, also store up energy which, when combined with oxidizing breathing, provide energy that is ready for use rather than for storage.

Yoga and Mental Health
Those practicing yoga experiences a number of factors that results in a profound effect on their mental health. These can be classified under:
1.

reduction of tension and
2.

restoration of pliability.
3.

"personal" and
4.

"social."
1. Reduction Of Tension
Many people who practice yoga speak of "freeing the mind from mental disturbances," "calming the spirit," or "steadying the mind." Reduction of nervousness, irritability and confusion, depression and mental fatigue are some of the benefits experienced. One experiences a relief from the pressure of his "compulsions." His nervousness, especially any jitteriness, should subside or disappear.
The extent to which these benefits may be expected will depend in part upon whether or not one can approach and participate in them willingly and wholeheartedly; for one who tries to practice postures with anxiety cripples his chances for very much benefit.
2. Restoration Of Pliability
"The positive side of the benefits from a full round of yogic exercises may be described as renewal of mental agility. Both mood and capacity for alertness, attentiveness and willingness to tackle problems revive. One may not be able to rekindle boundless enthusiasm late in a working day; early morning, or even noonday, efforts to recharge mental energies can revive a full measure of willingness. Traditional phrases, such as restored "spiritual vitality," intend to convey the complex idea of mental spryness, agreeableness, resiliency, and feelings of confidence and self-sufficiency. Some even testify to attaining feelings of buoyancy and euphoria; these then provide a background or mood of well-being and assurance such that one naturally more fully enjoys both his ability and the worthiness of being more tolerant and generous."
Archie Bahm, ‘Executive Yoga’
Personal Values
a. Avoidance of fear: Yoga is said to result in the reduction of a variety of mental ills. These may range all the way from vague feelings of frustration, persecution, insecurity, on the one hand, to acute and specific types of insanity, on the other.
Yoga is not a cure all for all conditions. But its attack upon, and diminution of, some basic mental ills may indeed be just enough to pay dividends that grow in magnitude.
If, through use of yogic techniques, we can merely halt and reverse some mental cancer, some compulsive complex that keeps us chained to unrelenting, omnipresent and gradually increasing anxiety, we may reset a course which will bring us around to a healthier adjustment. We are all at times insane. We are all, in some degree, insane. Overwhelming waves of tension and stress, which may catch us in periods of physical and mental exhaustion, can produce a spiritual explosion which leaves us so helpless that we are at a loss to know how it all came about.
By recurrent, regular efforts to reduce tension through yogic exercises, we may stay and finally reverse our tendencies toward insanity.
Most of us succumbs to fears and anxieties – some valid and some purely imaginary. For example, as one gets older, he begins to fear that his life has not been sufficiently worth while, that he has fallen short of his goals, that he has failed to attain his proper ambition, that he has lost out in the race to keep up with the Joneses or in his attempt to measure up "in the sight of God"-however he happens to conceive his shortcoming.
Thus, when Ramacharaka, in his ‘Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath’, says one may, by controlled breathing, "practically do away with fear and worry and the baser emotions," he refers to the growing ability of a devoted practitioner to diminish the power which both momentary and permanent fears have over us. One seeks to develop habits of resistance to the disturbing effects of excitement, ambition, antagonism and frustration.
The long-range goal of yoga is not just momentary relaxation, but the living of a relaxed life.
b. Acceptance of Faith in Life.
The goal of yoga is confident living. Its aim is to replace pessimism and its varieties such as cynicism with a "Yea-saying" appreciation of life, not only on any given day, but as a gracious, wonderful whole. When you achieve the yogic spirit, then you can say with the Stoics, "I accept the universe."
If you cannot accept all of it, because some problems remain unavoidably troublesome, then you will accept the troubles which you have as (1) yours and (2) enough for you, without wishing you had still more troubles.
Poise, serenity, contentedness, patience, assurance-all of these are positive mental values attainable by anyone who has achieved a willingness to be at peace with himself and the world. The confidence desired is not just enough to do the day's work but enough to live one's whole life and one can do his day's work more confidently if he has already predisposed himself to living his life with trustful serenity.
Thus a person seeks through yoga not merely momentary mental agility, but an agile life; not just momentary pliability, but a continuingly pliable existence; not just momentary relief from disturbance, but a permanently peaceful perspective.
Although not everyone who undertakes to experiment with yoga can expect to achieve or maintain the goal described by Shri Yogendra, Yoga: Personal Hygiene, as "exuberant and exultant health, he should notice the sun more often when it shines. Swami Sivananda pictures the goal as "ecstatic joy" (Yoga Asanas).
Dechanet, a Roman Catholic monk who was led into yoga by his Catholic predecessors, gives a vivid account of how he uses yogic techniques as aids to worship. He describes a "euphoria that pervades the story of my experiment. I wish to make it clear that this euphoria is real and lasting and spreads through the various levels of my daily life, physical, Psychical and spiritual" (Christian Yoga). Even though few of us will achieve anything like perpetual exuberance, ecstatic joy or euphoria, attainment of a more trusting outlook on life provides a spiritual soil from which spiritual roses have a better chance to grow. The pragmatic experimentalist will say: "Try it and see."

Social Values
a. Yoga may reduce your annoyance with others and others' annoyance with you. If you become less irritable, you tend to irritate others less and tend to be less irritated by what others do when they present themselves as problems to you.
Your obdurate, demanding, insistent, morose attitudes can make you hard to get along with. Diminution of these should make you less difficult to deal with. The social effects-upon your colleagues and clients, superiors and inferiors, to say nothing of family, public officers and service specialists-could be overwhelming.
b. You tend to be easier to get along with and you tend to find others easier to get along with.
Or, if your personal improvement grows beyond mere contentment, to exuberant appreciation, you may find both more people liking you and you liking more people. You become more adaptable, reliable, steady, alert, responsive, ever-ready, patient, gentle and humane.
When this happens, you become recognized as a more desirable person to deal with.
If you develop a buoyant spirit, you will find that buoyancy is catching.
Others, seeing you as cheery, tend to respond in kind, reacting more cheerily to you.
Your rewards increase.
The effects of yoga upon character as noted by Dechanet in Christian Yoga.
"Yoga also produces a more active, willing and generous disposition. It quickens the life of faith, of love of God and our neighbor. It quickens our sense of duty and responsibility as men and, above all, as Christians". "It follows that Hatha Yoga influences character to the good. One man, after some weeks of practice, admits he no longer knows himself, and everyone notices a change in his bearing and reaction. He is gentler, more understanding. He faces experience calmly. He is content; the pinpricks of life affect him less or not at all. He is in command of his own will and goes about his studies without fear and anxiety. His whole personality has been altered and he himself feels it steadying and opening out; from this there arises an almost permanent condition of euphoria, of 'contentedness' ". "You will feel that gentleness and sympathy come more readily. You will not feel like venting your spleen on others as frequently as before, and if it should occur, you will regret it all the more. You will make a kind of pact of non-violence with yourself. You will still have fits of impatience often enough, and even of anger. But something will be telling you that this is not only bad but even useless, and that it really is not worth the trouble to fly out and get beside yourself for nothing. 'A great need for sincerity -will bring you to detest, more than others do, not only lying but all forms of duplicity and dissimulation. You will sense the more keenly whatever is not genuine, and even what is merely conventional in speeches and words, and also in attitudes that men think they can take up in order to edify, but more often they take up lest they should lose face"
Yoga and Beauty
Beauty of figure, graceful carriage, melodious voice, glowing face and charming smile have all been mentioned as possible rewards of yogic practice.
Swami Sivananda says that "By practicing the Asanas regularly, men and women will acquire a figure which will enhance their beauty and that suppleness which gives them charm and elegance in every movement," and "be endowed with a peculiar glow in his face and eyes and a peculiar charm in his smile" (Yogic Home Exercises).
Clara Spring, expressing an American woman's point of view, reminds us that "A number of world-famous beauty courses contain certain exercises based on Yoga" (Yoga for Today).

Yoga and Sex
Yoga's view of sex is the same as of every other issue - moderation. Yoga considers sex to be a natural function, very beneficial in a loving relationship and, of course, essential for the continuation of the human race.
Yogis warn against overindulgence in sex since they consider this will deplete the life force. They state that the sexual secretions contain very concentrated life force and nutrients, since they contain the seeds of life. Depletion of life force results in a reduced vitality level and reduced resistance to disease. It also retards progress from the practice of yoga. A whole field of yoga called Tandric Yoga or Kundalini Yoga is concerned with harnessing the sexual power. Yoga enables one to get into meaningful relationships and enjoy the process, at the same time provides a path to use the powerful energy involved in sex.
The yogis consider that normal sexual function occurs when the reproductive system is in a state of optimum health. They have found that the most effective way of attaining this optimum health state is by doing yoga asanas and breathing exercises. Those who are physiologically weak and partially or wholly impotent may restore potency as they regain their physical health. Steadier practice of milder yogic exercises may yield results when more vigorous bodybuilding workouts end in undue exhaustion. Those who approach sexual matters nervously rather than relaxedly may profit from previous relaxing yogic exercises.
Marriage counselors suggest that a relaxed condition is one of the essentials for a harmonious sex relationship because when hurried and strained it leaves the couple (the woman especially) dissatisfied and irritated, adversely affecting her entire well being. Indra Devi, author of many books on yoga, remarked that "The wives of several of my students have often told me that since their husbands had taken up Yoga exercises, their marital relationships had undergone remarkable changes."
It's true that advanced yogis practice celibacy. They need every ounce of their life force for their quest for cosmic consciousness. They also know that the realization of their goal produces eternal bliss, besides which the brief pleasure of sex pales into insignificance. Their minds have progressed so far that they are not prepared to settle for a watered-down version of happiness.

Yoga and Pride
Pride, and especially anxiety about pride, is something which hatha yoga seeks to diminish or eliminate. We are not advocating pride, but some will choose to consider pride a value anyway. To one who has been dejected because he cannot do his work properly when he becomes tired, irritable, or haggard, any degree of refreshment may be accompanied by additional degrees of self-respect. Furthermore, one who has benefited from yoga may be moved to help his friends who are obviously in need; he may instruct others and be rewarded with appreciation due a gracious teacher.
But if one succeeds in achieving skill which provides health and self-confidence, one may justly raise his self-esteem simply by observing himself living the improved results as an achieved fact.


Yoga and Knowledge
Readers of treatises on yoga soon become familiar with a recurrent refrain. Yogic theory and practice lead to increased self-knowledge. Although many of these treatises extend the meaning of yoga beyond hatha yoga the values of self-knowledge indicated are intended to include those derivable from using breathing and posture exercises for attaining and maintaining health, physical and mental, and relaxation. The knowledge is not merely that of the practical kind relating to techniques, but especially of a spiritual sort pertaining to grasping something about the nature of the self at rest.
Knowing the self at rest, at peace, as a being rather than merely as an agent or doer, is a genuine kind of knowledge which usually gets lost in the rush of activities and push of desires. The value of discovering one's self and of enjoying one's self as it is, rather than as it is going to be, is indeed a value as well as a kind of knowledge.

Yoga and Wealth
About the last thing one should expect from yoga is wealth. Yet, when certain facts are pointed out, it becomes obvious that here is a value not to be overlooked.
First of all, as Swami Sivananda argues, "Health is wealth.... If you do not possess good health you cannot prosper in any walk of life" (Yogic Home Exercises). As we can see from the factors listed under Physical Health and Mental Health, yoga does affect our ability to deal with the problems in our businesses and professions. Many factors affecting our day-to-day and long-range; capacities for achieving business and professional goals may be influenced by yogic endeavors. One can hardly calculate results, but still can easily sense the significance of improved health for business success.
Not only may one acquire more financially from good health, but he need spend less upon measures to alleviate illness. By reducing anxiety and desirousness, yoga tends to diminish our desires and the expenditures we make trying to satisfy those desires. A person who achieves peace with himself, even if only part of the time, has less motive for spending money to win the battle for satisfaction of his cravings. Yoga is less expensive than most other methods of attaining and maintaining health and relaxation.

Yoga For Insomnia
Yoga will benefit your sleep in three ways:
1.

The quality of your steep will improve because of yoga's beneficial effect on the nervous system, and in particular the brain. This results from certain yoga asanas increasing the blood supply to the steep center in the brain, which has the effect of normalizing the steep cycle.
2.

You will need less sleep because of the improved quality of your sleep, and because yoga increases the elimination of toxins from the body. On average, for every minute you put into yoga you will need one minute less sleep. This makes yoga an excellent time investment.
3.

You will fall asleep in a shorter time. This is mainly because the body and mind are more relaxed.
Yoga will make you fall asleep sooner and improve the quality of your sleep so that you need less. You will have a more restful sleep because of the relaxing aspect of yoga and the subsequent relieving of stress, tension and fatigue.

How To Heal With Yoga

A summary of how some common disorders are treated by practitioners and medical institutions using yoga science. The poses are described in the section on asanas. Details of medical problems that can be treated by individual asanas are described under the asanas themselves.
Most of the following common disorders can be treated by Yoga combined with meditation and/or visualization. Before performing any of these posture, please be sure to perform relaxation and deep breathing exercises.
Other applications of yoga in healing is quantified under Yoga - Benefits.
Disorder

Yoga Exercise

Visualization/Affirmation
Asthma:

Corpse Pose, Mountain, Complete Breath.

Lung expansion, renewed strength.
Backache

Corpse Pose, Locust, Knee to Chest.

Fresh circulation to nourish back muscles.
Bronchitis

Mountain, Locust.


Cold

Lion


Constipation

Bow, Corpse Pose, Knee to Chest (reinvigorates liver, spleen, intestines), Posterior Stretch, Uddiyana, Yoga Mudra

Increased circulation to stimulate intestines.
Depression

Yoga Mudra, Corpse Pose

New energy from increased oxygen levels in the blood, pending new joyous activity.
Diabetes (not a cure!)

Corpse Pose, Kneeling Pose.

See healing energies of fresh circulation flow to pancreas
Emphysema

Complete Breath, Locust, Grip

Healing circulation to lungs.
Eyestrain

Neck and Eye exercises.

Absorb invisible energy from the air ("prana") into the eyes.
Flatulence

Knee to Chest.


Headache

Corpse Pose, Neck and Eye Exercises, Shoulder Roll

A summer blue sky. No thoughts.
Indigestion

Corpse Pose, Mountain, Locust, Posterior Stretch, Cobra, Uddiyana


Insomnia

Corpse Pose, Mountain, Locust, Posterior Stretch, Cobra

Blue sky. Enjoy the yoga. No thoughts.
Menstrual disorders

Uddiyana, Cobra, Posterior Stretch.


Neurasthenia

Corpse Pose, Mountain, Posterior Stretch

Energy-giving fresh circulation
Obesity

Locust, Posterior Stretch, Cobra, Yoga Mudra, Bow, Sun, Salutation


Prostate troubles

Kneeling Pose.


Rheumatism

Mountain, Knee to Chest, Posterior Stretch

The dispersal of waste matter causing stiffness at the joints.
Sciatica

Knee to Chest, Grip, Kneeling Pose


Sexual debility

Uddiyana, Kneeling Pose, Complete Breath

youthful vigor from fresh blood circulation
Sinus

Neck and Eye Exercises, Corpse Pose.


Skin diseases

Sun Salutation

A general physical tone-up, regulating and balancing any irregularity.
Sore throat

Lion

Constriction of blood vessels in the throat; the relaxation brings fresh circulation to sore area.
Wrinkles

Yoga Mudra



Prayer and Spiritual Healing

Spiritual Healing, Prayer Healing, Religious belief, faith - whatever we call it- is shown to have a profound effect on our health. Research has shown that spiritual healing can provide permanent relief from the worries and difficulties that plague us. It can bring us about a complete revolution in the consciousness and the body. It can effect enduring physical, mental, and emotional change.

After all we can see how YOGA and meditation helps us to live a peaceful life and relieves us from lots of illness .It really gives you pleasure of living a simple and peaceful life with lovely environment .

Hope No one mind giving one or two hours a day for getting a peaceful and lovely life .




------
Vikas SCORPION KING >>>>



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