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ABC of Yoga


original post jun 2012

ABC of Yoga

ABC of Yoga Here's a compliation of the posts that I was doing on Facebook a little while back. A different day, a different letter of the Alphabet. 'As children we begin by learning our ABCs in order to read and write and communicate with one another and to express ourselves. So late last night in a playful and inquisitive mood I created an ABC of Yoga. My Yoga, personal to me. I let my mind wander thro the alphabe...t to see what words would emerge. If I were to do it again it would probably be completely different. If several words rose up, I picked the one that resonated most in that moment. It was surprisingly thought provoking. And fun.I will post them day by day, and I do hope that you will join me and share your yoga alphabet. So, as Dylan Thomas said "To begin at the beginning" . . . . ABC Yoga: A is for Ahimsa. Non-violence, non hurting, a respect for all other living things. To live in harmony with the many diverse creatures and beings around us. -- ABC yoga: B is for Balasana - Childs pose. The pose of rest and rejuvenation. -- ABC yoga: C is for Chandra. Chandra means moon and is the cooling side of yoga as opposed to Surya, the sun. Some classes will feature both elements, working to heat and cool the body, to raise energy or to calm. Some will have more emphasis on just one element. Hatha (physical yoga) means 'Ha: sun. Tha: moon. Many sequences and asanas (poses) in yoga refer to the moon: standing half moon, ha...lf moon balance, crescent lunge, moon salutations..... In Pranayama (breathing techniques), Chandra Bhedana is a cooling breath, breathing in through the left nostril and out through the right. Chandra pranayama is breathing exclusively through the the left. In Dharana and Dhyana: concentration and meditation practices, Chandra Dhyana is where you can gaze at the moon when it is bright to strengthen the optic nerve of the eyes. Go moon bathing! -- ABC of yoga: D is for Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Strengthening and invigorating. Stretches the spine, legs and shoulders, realigns the hips, stregthens the wrists and arms and provides additional blood flow to head and neck, benefitting hair, skin and brain. Yoga means union and this pose is the perfect union of strength and lift. -- ABC yoga: E is for Elements. Yoga philosophy teaches that we, like everything, are made up of earth, water, fire, air and ether. Yoga helps balance these elements within ourselves and life. Within yoga itself, there are many elements or layers, the physical, the mental, the spiritual and we can take from these what we need on any particular day or whatever path we seek from yoga. It's all about the journey.... So feel the earth beneath you on this journey, drink in the water and air of life, and feel fire in your belly. -- ABC of yoga: F is for flexibility. Probably one of the most famous things associated with yoga, an easy free moving body or the myth that you have to be flexible to do it. Thankfully that isn't true as yoga gives you flexibility. When the body moves easy without stiffness and joints have a full range of movement, the body is free of held tightness and tension, allowing energy to flow better and the mind to be calm. Posture is improved when the bodies structure is strong AND flexible. Blessed are the flexible for they will not be bent out of shape. -- ABC of yoga: G is for Gomukhasana (cow face pose). I included this in honour of my Saturday class an their efforts in trying this. This pose is called cow face because from behind it looks like a cow and from above it resembles a bull as the feet look like horns of a bull! Benefits Stretches the ankles, hips and thighs, shoulders, and triceps, and chest. It can be a tough one to do as its a s...trong hip and shoulder stretch. The two areas we hold most tension but regular practice gets you there and the benefits of released hips and shoulders make it worth it. (we even had comedy mooing go on in the class but a few but not sure my yogis would appreciate me sharing that!) but it's also good to Giggle! -- ABC of yoga: H is for health. Through yoga, we not only only obtain the healthy body, but a healthy mind and a healthy attitude towards ourselves and others. Yoga has the power to make you a better person all round, not just give you the best body that one can possibly get for your shape and height, but to learn to breathe deeply, to be more compassionate, calm, respectful, to live life fully and to enjoy and appreciate the simpler things in life. Yoga is the best gift you can give yourself for a healthy mind and body. Eat fresh foods, breathe fresh air, stretch out a tense body and free the mind through meditation. Look after your health. x -- ABC of yoga: I is for inspiration. In dedication to all that have inspired and continue to inspire me on my journey through yoga, the many teachers in one way or another and my fantastic students. In no partucular order but who all have played a part in some way: BKS Iyengar, Sivananda, Barbara Currie, Katy Appleton, Leah Bracknell, Shiva Rea, Beryl Bender Birch, Baron Baptiste, Bryan Kest, Erich Schiffman, Kim Kellas, Krissy Hawkes, Jean and Julie, John Linsey, Claire Mitchell, Laura Ratcliffe, Evone, Denis, Janet and Lindsay and all the hundreds of other yogis along the way that have come to my classes or private sessions. -- ABC yoga: J is for Jnana Yoga. The yoga of knowledge and wisdom. There are four paths in yoga and we all find our own path. Karma Yoga: the yoga of action. Bhakti Yoga: the yoga of devotion and love. Raja Yoga: the yoga of the mind. Often referred to as the Royal path in yoga, of which hatha (physical yoga) is part of. ... To some degree, nearly everyone that practises yoga follows a little of each path... The study of yogas philosophy and history. Even just learning yoga postures can come under Jnana yoga. Thinking of ones actions and consequences: Karma. The devotion to a yogic lifestyle or something other than self: Bhakti. Moral conducts, concentration, meditation, sense withdrawal, disciplined breath, enlightenment: Raja. Enjoy whichever yoga path you walk! -- ABC Yoga: K is for Kundalini. Kundalini is the coiled and dormant 'feminine' energy, and often refers to the vast potential of psychic energy contained within us all. It is normally symbolized as a serpent coiled at the base of the spine or Muladhara Chakra. The awakening of this serpent and this potentially powerful energy is a primary aim of the practice of Kundalini Yoga. The image of coiling ...serpent, conveys the sense of untapped potential energy we have in us all. KUNDALINI YOGA Considered as the mother of all the Styles of Yoga by some, is a powerful Yoga style, working on awakening the Kundalini energy (as mentioned above). Kundalini yoga is a physical and meditative discipline, comprising a set of cleansing techniques and exercises, known as Kriyas, as well as chanting and meditation. Awaken your Kundalini serpent! My personal favourite Kundalini exercise is Sufi-Grind, where you sit crossed legged and imagine your pelvis and your spine are a pestle and mortar and you're grinding your spine into the bowl that is your pelvis, getting a full rotation in the lower spine and mobility in the hips. As you come forward on the rotation, you stick your chest out and inhale and concave the chest and exhale as you on moving back. So you get the whole spine, middle and upper body moving. Do a few rounds in one direction and then the reverse it the other way. Go slow to start off with until you loosen up and then rotate quicker. Then sit and absorb the feeling of freedom and lightness. I love it and many thanks to Carolyn Cowan for showing me the way with it. x -- ABC yoga: J is for Jnana Yoga. The yoga of knowledge and wisdom. There are four paths in yoga and we all find our own path. Karma Yoga: the yoga of action. Bhakti Yoga: the yoga of devotion and love. Raja Yoga: the yoga of the mind. Often referred to as the Royal path in yoga, of which hatha (physical yoga) is part of. ... To some degree, nearly everyone that practises yoga follows a little of each path... The study of yogas philosophy and history. Even just learning yoga postures can come under Jnana yoga. Thinking of ones actions and consequences: Karma. The devotion to a yogic lifestyle or something other than self: Bhakti. Moral conducts, concentration, meditation, sense withdrawal, disciplined breath, enlightenment: Raja. Enjoy whichever yoga path you walk! -- ABC yoga: L is for laughter. One of the best therapies there is. Better still, laughing yoga. I remember seeing this guy on YouTube a few years back demonstrating laughing yoga. I'll post a link if I find it. -- ABC of yoga: M is for Matsyendrasana (lord of the fishes pose or better known as seated spinal twist). Yoga teaches us that you are young as your spine is flexible and to keep it that way, it needs to be moved 6 ways everyday; forward, backward, side to side and twist to both sides. Physical Benefits The important physiological aspects of this posture (asana) are that it stimulates the pancrea...s, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach and ascending and descending colons. It helps with diabetes, constipation, dyspepsia and urinary problems. It tones the nerve roots, and adjusts and realigns the vertebral column. The back muscles are pulled and stretched in a different direction than usual and this relieves them of tension. Matsyendrasana is therefore recommended in cases of lumbago, rheumatism and slipped disc with supervision. The sitting twist stimulates peristaltic action, diminishes constipation, tones the abdominal organs, stretches the hips and external rotators, and improves the circulation and energy flow throughout the spine. The twist begins with the right thigh pressed against the abdominal region, which increases the peristaltic action of the ascending colon and stimulates the liver, gallbladder, and right kidney. The second side reinvigorates the descending colon, spleen, pancreas and left kidney. Mental Benefits. As the body releases enormous amounts of tension in twists, the mind also benefits, it no longer has to concern itself on a deep level about keeping tight muscles safe and held. The bodies tension goes and signals to the brain are sent that the body can relax and thus, the brain and mind. The sitting twist asks us first to align and lengthen the spine before it turns. Then we initiate our twist from the belly, inviting that serpentine movement to spiral gradually up through the torso. If you lead the pose from the head, neck strain and great discomfort can develop, so work from the tummy in this posture. -- ABC of yoga: N is for Navasana (boat pose) in honour of all my yogis today that find it challenging. One of the best strengtheners for abdominals, back and thighs. Calming for the mind in full boat as its a balancing pose as well as a strengthener, therefore concentration is needed stopping the mind from wandering. One of the overlooked benefits is that it's also toning for the neck and jawline if the chin is held up a little keeping the neck in line with spine (ie chin not tucked into the chest, blocking the throat and airways). Sale your boat to a strong core and clear mind. -- ABC of yoga: O is for Om (Aum) The sacred, primordial sound. As creation began, Hindu’s believe that the divine, all-encompassing consciousness took the form of the first and original vibration manifesting as sound "OM". Before creation began it was... "Shunyākāsha", the emptiness or the void. It symbolises God, The absolute. The past the present and the future. Without beginning or end. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. Chant Om, let it resonate from your heart and release through your lips. Oneness, Unity, Peace. -- ABC of yoga: P is for Pratyahara. The fifth stage of yoga according Patanjali. Withdrawing the senses. Focussing inwards. Shutting out disturbance and thought. We spend so much time doing things for others, listening to others, seeing others, speaking, worrying, taking on others problems and emotions. This helps teaches us to switch all that off and focus on ourselves for a little while without feeling guilty. Be in your yoga bubble! -- ABC of yoga: Q is for Qi, Chi, Prana...life force. Energy. The energy and life force that permeates everything. -- ABC of yoga: S is for Savasana (Corpse pose- Relaxation) No more thinking. No more doing. Just absorb your practice. Digest and assimilate. Let go of everything and dissolve. Just be. Bliss. -- ABC yoga: R is for Rejuvenation. Yoga rejuvenates the body and mind through proper breathing, proper exercise, proper diet, proper thinking and meditation and proper relaxation. -- ABC of yoga: U is for Uddiyana Bandha. Abdominal lock. This in an inward and upward contraction which tones the abdominal organs and muscles, improves digestion and elimination, aids removal of toxins from the digestive tract. After exhalation, the abdominal muscles are forcefully contracted and pulled up towards the diaphragm. Must always be done on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Ignite the fire in your belly. -- ABC of yoga: T is is for Tadasana. Mountain pose. Standing tall. Weight even on both feet. Grounded physically and mentally. Everything rising up out of strong foundations. Proud chest. Open heart. Pausing. Breathing. ... Living in the moment. Climb your personal mountain one step at a time. -- ABC of yoga: V is Vrksasana. Tree pose. One of the most famous yoga balances. Balances build strong bones and muscles, aids concentration and focus, clears the mind and as it aids stability, it helps the reflex that tries to stop you from falling if you trip. Be grounded in your tree, foot planted. Extending, rising up. Not bothered or distracted by any movement, trees sway! -- ABC of yoga: W is for Warrior Pose (virabhadrasana). Standing strong in your warrior as though nothing could phase, nothing could move you, reaching out with both hands and an open heart, still mind. How many health benefits to Warrior? Well... Warrior strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders Stimulates abdominal organs Increases stamina ... Relieves backaches Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica.... Need I go on.....like a warrior! -- ABC of Yoga: Y is for Yama. Yama - Self Restraints Yama is the first step in the Eightfold Path of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. Yama teaches us what to try to avoid doing. We can all take what we want from yoga and it's rich philosophy, history and practice, These are a guide for living.... The Five Yama's of Yoga path: Ahimsa - non-violence. Satya - truthfulness, honesty. Asteya - non-stealing. Brahmacharya - Continence, Control of sensual pleasure. Aparigraha - Freedom from greed and possessions beyond one's needs. Non possessive. -- ABC of Yoga: Z is for Zen. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word zyen (Modern Mandarin), which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which means meditative state. 'Zen emphasizes the personal expression of experiential wisdom in the attainment of enlightenment...' Vernette Butler - Facebook April-May 2012

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