Showing posts with label yoga for beginners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yoga for beginners. Show all posts

Finding the Ultimate Yoga Bag For Your Yoga Practice

Finding the Ultimate Yoga Bag For Your Yoga Practice
Yoga bags are the easiest way to carry all of your belongings, including your yoga mat and all of your yoga props.  They are ideal for carrying things to a Yoga class, or back home. Yoga bags are not just made out of natural materials, some of the newer Yoga bags are made from recycled materials and are gaining in popularity recently. 
Yoga Bag Material
Some bags are mixed fabric-mesh and zippered and they make for mat bags that are hip and stylish, while still providing access to your yoga mat. When you practice yoga anywhere but at home, you are sure to need a nice yoga bag to carry your accessories and personal items with you.
  Many yoga bags were made with this in mind, ready to go from plane, to train or bus, and to yoga classes and training if required, all the while being able to do this in less than ideal weather.  Some yoga mat bags are lined with satin instead of cotton as this helps you to get your 'sticky yoga mat' to slide in, and out. 
Functional Yoga Bags
Many yoga teachers spend a lot of time on the road and they need a bag that is functional, eye catching, and durable as the fabric can allow.  For serious students of yoga, a yoga bags is a convenient and a necessary accessory for handling and carrying props and personal belongings.  Not only will a bag help you to stay organized, they also offer an excellent storage place and a great way to carry a mat and all of your accessories to and from a yoga class or even an outdoor meditation session. 
Cost of Yoga Bags
Should shoppers pick just any bag and hope to get lucky? No, not at all. One thing to keep in mind: none of the top rated yoga bags are cheap.  And if you believe it is better to spend a bit more up front to enjoy a durable and easy to use bag for years to come, instead of saving a few bucks now - remember that many end up trying to carry their bags back to the store for return after they fall apart. Pick a bag that is both durable and functional for you. 
Yoga Gifts
Yoga inspired bags make great gifts for the modern yogi and yogini.  Some of them even feature eco-fashion and original designs that you won't see anywhere else.
  Many are designed to be worn over the shoulder, and most yoga mat bags (yoga bags) should be able to accommodate any thickness (or stickiness) of yoga mat, while at the same time remaining comfortable to carry. 
 Yoga bags are the very best way for you to carry your belongings to a Yoga class.  They are also the easiest way to carry your yoga mats and all your yoga props.  A long-lasting bag will make your life easier and more comfortable, especially if you find yourself always juggling too many things. 
Yoga Bags and Mats
You will love to carry your mat in a simple and elegant yoga bag that is usually suitable for both men and women.  When you practice yoga outside of the home you are sure to need a yoga bag to carry your accessories and personal items with you.  They are irreplaceable, you will soon find out.

Yoga - The Antidote to Arthritis and a Key to Healthy Aging

Yoga - The Antidote to Arthritis and a Key to Healthy Aging
Forty years ago, when I first became interested in yoga and therapeutic exercise, I was assisting an older woman who was immobilized in her wheelchair by arthritis. Long before I understood the degree to which yoga can rehabilitate the body, I was helping people who were unable to dress, bathe or feed themselves independently due to the pain and stiffness in their joints. This has helped me understand the extreme suffering that can be inflicted by arthritis.
Back then, people with joint pain and swelling were advised by doctors not to move! The thinking was "If it hurts, don't move it." We now know that inactivity is one of the worst responses for someone with arthritis.
As Loren Fishman, MD, points out in his book, Yoga for Arthritis, "Arthritis restricts movement, yoga increases range of motion-these two were made for each other."
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in this country, limiting everyday activities for millions of people. Drugs, surgeries, and steroids can alleviate some of the discomforts, but study after study has shown that exercise is most beneficial to most forms of arthritis, specifically low-impact, flexibility-enhancing exercises such as yoga.
Osteoarthritis, a painful and often debilitating condition caused by decades of wear and tear on the joints, is considered to be one the side effects of living longer. By the time we reach age sixty-five, X-rays for at last a third of us will show some signs of osteoarthritis, the most common of a group of diseases collectively referred to as arthritis.
Arthritis in its many forms affects more than seventy million (or one in three) American adults, according to estimates by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Arthritis is so common in our culture that most people consider the pain and discomfort it brings to be a normal part of aging. Arthritis makes normal activities increasingly painful and difficult and diminishes or destroys the quality of life.

An Overview of Arthritis

The word arthritis means "joint inflammation." Modern medicine recognizes more than a hundred varieties of conditions that produce deterioration in joint structures. The common thread among these conditions is that they all affect the joints-those nearly 150 ingeniously designed structures located where two or more bones come together.
Arthritis-related joint problems may include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joints. Joint weakness, instability and visible deformities may occur, depending on the location of the joint involved.
Arthritis is classified into two main types. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder, resulting in stiffness in the joints and muscles, joint erosion and pain. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder that erodes the cartilage in joints, which leads to bones rubbing together. Osteoarthritis frequently occurs in people who are overweight or whose joints are painful from extreme overuse.
In spite of the prevalence of arthritis, be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your achy joints are necessarily due to it. Overuse and injuries can also result in tendonitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other fairly common conditions that are unrelated to arthritis.
Arthritis and Exercise
To remain healthy, muscles and joints must move and bear weight or they will lose strength. This weakness, coupled with joint swelling, will make the joints unstable. Joints in this condition are vulnerable to dislocation, increased injury and pain. Thus, regular gentle movement helps to reduce pain and to maintain mobility.
Physical movement promotes health in many systems of the body. It increases circulation, which in turn reduces swelling and promotes delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. With immobilization, a cycle of deterioration begins.
Because movement is crucial to so many physiological processes, the arthritic person's overall health tends to deteriorate without it. The normal functioning of the immune system declines, infections and illnesses occur, and the person often becomes frustrated and depressed. This cycle is self-perpetuating.
When someone comes to me with arthritis, I teach them how to practice yoga safely with the support of yoga props. For those who are new to yoga, the term "yoga props," simply refers to any object, such as a wall, a sturdy table or a chair, a folded blanket, a firm pillow, a strap or other item that makes practicing yoga safer and easier. Yoga props are especially helpful for older beginners who may have balance problems and are coping with common health issues such as arthritis and osteoporosis. In addition to common household objects that can be used as yoga props, there are professional yoga props such as a sturdy wooden bar known as the "yoga horse," yoga wall ropes, yoga bolsters in many shapes and sizes, yoga straps, special yoga chairs, yoga blocks, firm yoga blankets and more elaborate props like yoga backbenders that give people with arthritis and other common health conditions new hope and confidence.

Yoga Essentials - A Checklist

Yoga Essentials - A Checklist
Yoga has been booming in popularity for years now. Offering a way to connect with yourself through exercise and relaxation. However, if you are new to the world of yoga it can get confusing. While many instructors will give you a list of what you will need, and what to expect. Some might not, which will still leave you with the question; what exactly do you need to practice yoga?
Well, with this yoga essentials checklist you no longer have to worry. Simply print it out, and bring it along on your yoga shopping spree. If you'd like to make it an even easier shopping trip, look around the store. There is everything that is a must-have with yoga, and many more accessories that will help to make it much easier.
* First and foremost you need to get at least a couple yoga outfits. While it is a common misconception, that normal workout wear is fine. They can often times be too cumbersome and loose to practice yoga, without having to worry about adjusting your clothes. Most yoga workout wear is snug-fitting, and meant to help you achieve inner peace without worrying about your clothes.
There are shorts, tops, pants, and even capris that are produced for yoga. Giving you a wide variety of clothing to choose from. The one key to selecting the perfect yoga outfit, is by keeping the weather in mind. Chances are, if it is snowing outside you don't want to be caught wearing shorts. However, yoga pants will last throughout the year.
* Second, you have your yoga mat. Whether it is a tai inspired mat or your standard issued yoga mat. They can be found almost anywhere these days, and are affordable for any budget. Some yoga mats have even been made to be somewhat sticky, which will keep the risk of slipping at a minimum. Try going organic! One of the major players in yoga, is living with the world. Giving you more reason to go green.
* The third essential item you must have for yoga, is a few props. Depending on what your instructor plans for the day. It wouldn't be wise to be caught unprepared. From bolsters to meditation stands, there are a lot of props and accessories that are essential for yoga classes. They can be found almost anywhere, from online yoga specialty shops like this one to local shops. However, be mindful of quality. Chances are, if it is too cheaply priced you aren't going to get the amount of use out of them that you'd want.
* The fourth essential yoga item is the yoga bag. Giving you the ability to keep all of your yoga essentials in check. There is nothing worse, than your yoga mat falling into a pile of mud before your lesson. Keep them all in one snug place, all with a little additional style.
* Meditation cushions, while an accessory can help with your yoga practices. Giving you the ability to attune yourself from within. There is nothing worse than a sore bottom on the floor, when you are trying to reach inner peace.
* Yoga dvds to keep your lessons going. Can't make your appointment this week for yoga class? No problem! You've got a couple yoga dvds meant to keep you in the yoga mind set. They are essential for any yoga practitioner, especially those who are short on time.
* Foam blocks, while they would be considered props. Are by far one of the highest priority props for yoga. Thus giving them a spot on the essentials checklist. They can be found separately, or in yoga essential kits.
* A yoga strap is your friend! They are utilized frequently throughout a yoga class, or at home on your own. Much like the foam blocks, they can be found both in a kit or stand alone.
* The yoga ball and hand pump. While they can be found separately, they usually come as a pair. It will give you a leg-up at your class, when you come prepared with these two fantastic yoga essentials.

Why Do Christians Practice Yoga?

Why Do Christians Practice Yoga?
Yoga is exercise. It is a form of fitness that promotes strength, flexibility, and stillness. Most yoga classes that I attend are void of religious references. You pose, you hold it, and you release the pose. Many times you're trying so hard just to balance, keep your arms elevated, or stand in a strenuous position for several minutes that you don't have the time or energy to think about anything else. I am persuaded that most Christians who oppose yoga have never even taken a yoga class.
Yoga is also form of meditation. It is a moving meditation. It has a spiritual side, which is probably where most of the controversy about yoga resides. Yoga has a mind-body-spirit connection. Central to yoga is our breathe. When the breathe slows down, the mind slows down as well. In fact, the purpose of yoga was to prepare the body for meditation. 
When the mind becomes still, we enter into a state of inner peace. When our mind is at peace, we create a greater space for God in our lives, to hear and experience Him on a deeper level, a spiritual level. The Bible says that "the spirit of God is within you." Therefore, it is up to us to prepare our hearts to fellowship with Him. This is why yoga appeals to many Christians.
Those who are against yoga believe it opens Christians up to evil spirits and demons lurking in the darkness. They believe by being still and quieting our minds, we become prey to a host of spiritual unknowns. The majority of Christians who practice yoga know where their allegiance lies and they're not so easily persuaded or manipulated. We know that Jesus is our Lord and we can use yoga to strengthen our relationship with him. We know in our heart and mind how to use yoga as a form to worship God.
I believe there are far more sinister practices that lead Christians down the path of deception and darkness than yoga. These include television, godless movies, popular music, and secular magazines. If Christians want to denounce evil and lead people towards the path of righteousness and holiness, help them to realize how the media is undermining their Christian walk every minute of everyday, not just the several hours per week spent at yoga class. Through the media, we are being feed a daily diet of anti-Christ propaganda that is deceiving us and keeping us from pursuing an intimate relationship with the Lord. Yoga on the other hand, does quite the opposite. Christians can use yoga to detach from these illusions, enter into oneness with God, and create a deeper connection with His spirit.
Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23: 13, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. The growing interest in yoga to the Christian is a result of spiritual hunger.
 Going to church, listening to a sermon, serving in the church is not filling the gaping hole that continues to grow in Christians who don't want more programs but more God. They are not finding it in the building, so they are looking elsewhere. Yoga or a Christ-centered yoga alternative is just another tool that allows Christians to put into practice the scripture that says, "Be still and know that I am God."
When was the last time you we're taught about meditating on God or practiced meditation in the church? When was the last time you spent time dwelling in God's presence in the sanctuary? I can honestly tell you that for me the answer is very rarely. Most churches don't value the quiet. Many may argue that abiding with God is a personal matter; however, many modern-day Christians aren't even familiar with this concept and if they are, they have been discouraged to do so.
 In fact, there are Christians who have been brainwashed to believe that meditation is of the devil. But I believe that there is "no" greater practice that can help a Christian realize a personal, thriving, and growing relationship with God, than to spend time with Him in silence and solitude meditating on his word and abiding in his presence.

Yoga Philosophy

Yoga Philosophy
Yoga is an ancient art that goes way beyond the practice of asanas - postures. It is a philosophy that goes back to the times before the religions existed more than 2,000 years ago. It is a philosophy that talks about union. It talks about union between all human beings and also about union with a greater energy that itself connects us all.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient art that has the aim of bringing the practitioner back to the true self. The ancient scriptures tell us that the true self is the state of bliss. It is a state of inner happiness. The sage Patanjali who wrote the 'Yoga Sutra' - an ancient recorded text on yoga codifying the system to date - gave the definition of yoga as 'Yoga chiti vriti nirodha'. This translates from the original Sanskrit into English to meaning that yoga is the stopping of the fluctuations of the psyche. Historically there have been two main paths of yoga -- raja yoga and hatha yoga - and these both ultimately aim for control over the mind. Asana practice - the practice of yoga postures - was created in order to stabilise us for sitting during meditation. Yoga was created ultimately to bring us into meditation and hence deeper states of awareness.
Dhyana
Now the next question arises what is meditation or dhyana in Sanskrit? Meditation is the stilling of the mind by the stilling of the body.
Also pranayama - the breathing techniques of yoga - aim to still the breath and hence still the mind.
Our meditational practices in yoga help us to overcome the ego. The ego is individuality. But in reality we are all connected and with yoga we realise this connection. The definition of yoga is union. Through the practice of yoga one realises the union between the you who you think you are, that is your individual consciousness, and the you who you really are - that is you are a part of a supreme consciousness. In order to transcend between the individual consciousness and the supreme consciousness one needs to overcome the ego. And in order to overcome the ego we need what the Upanishad texts describe as Vivek Chudamani. This is the crown jewel of the power of discrimination over what is real and what is not. Hence we need to be able to see that really there is no I but that we are all connected.
We need to establish what it means to come back to the true self - or what is self realisation. Self realisation is in essence identifying yourself as peace and happiness. Once you have made this true identification you will just radiate peace and happiness.
The Chakras
One way of looking at yoga is in terms of the chakras (energy points within us). Now yoga aims for the ultimate functioning of all the chakras within us. This lifts us from individual consciousness to supreme consciousness.
The Vedas
Now the Vedas - the scriptures which talk about knowledge - say that there are three defects in the mind. These are mala which is dirt, waste, excessive thoughts and emotions. Then there is vikshep which is instability and then there is avaran which means cover. The presence of avaran means that it is very hard for us to see the truth.
The ancient philosophy of India was named Sanathana Dharma which can be translated as meaning the eternal law. It saw everything in the universe as being connected, as having a spiritual union - that is man, animals, nature, the whole universe. In Vedic times - the times in which the Vedas were written - the world was called Vasudevakudambakam which means one world family. When we consider the world as one family, we experience true spirituality. The world at that time was seen as being beyond the differences brought about by race, country or religion. Spirituality is about seeing the unity in all things.
The Paths of Yoga
Moving on from this knowledge, it is important for us to understand that there are several different paths of yoga all of which lead us back to self realisation or inner happiness.
Karma yoga is the yoga of action. It is about removing mala. There are two different types of action or karma. Sakam involves looking for the fruit of one's actions whereas nishkam is purer. It involves not looking for the fruit's of one's actions but acting through a pure heart and pure mind with no thought for expectation. Living a life of nishkam karma leads to a happier, more well balanced and peaceful life.
Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion. There exists conditional devotion, however unconditional devotion is what is needed to remove vikshep or instability.
Gyana yoga is the yoga of knowledge. It exists in order to remove avaran or cover. Gyana yoga talks a lot about the nature of consciousness. Now the nature of consciousness can be described as 'sat chit anand'. 'Sat' is existence or truth. We are all immortal in the sense that we are all souls and the soul itself is immortal. This is our true nature. We are all in search of our true immortal selves - our souls. This is why we constantly aim to live a longer life - we are trying to connect with our true selves - our immortal souls. 'Chit' is wisdom - hence we are all looking for wisdom, we are looking for the wisdom that inherently is inside every one of us. 'Anand' is bliss. Happiness is that which we have all always looked for and in the deepest core of our beings we are all essentially happiness or bliss. On the basis of sat chit anand we are all looking for self realisation or inner happiness through knowledge.

Which Yoga is Right For You?

Which Yoga is Right For You?
Tips On Finding A Style That Fits
It seems like yoga is everywhere these days. There are yoga classes in gyms, high schools, senior citizen centers, and strip malls, each with a different spin: gentle yoga, hot yoga, restorative yoga, pre- and post-natal yoga, power yoga, and mommy and me yoga, just to name a few.
Why is yoga experiencing such popularity? It might be because of the health benefits yoga practitioners say they experience, and the fact that yoga can be tailored to their specific needs.
I am a firm believer that anyone can benefit from a dedicated yoga practice. Yoga can improve your health and bring clarity to your mind. Your muscles become stronger, and you will gain more flexibility in your joints, something that doesn't happen from working out at the gym.
In fact, many students have come to me with injuries sustained from working with weights or from years of running. You have to be careful if you have injuries, but that shouldn't prevent you from beginning a yoga practice. You should never feel pain in a posture. There are always modifications to protect an injured area.

Students Report Benefits
Dedicated yogis report all kinds of benefits from practicing yoga, from improved health to reduced pain.
"I began yoga to become flexible and strengthen my body for running, especially my upper body," says Suzanne Gentry of Eaton's Neck. "The benefits I have gained are numerous. I have a lot of flexibility, tighter abs, stronger legs and upper body. I am more relaxed and sleep well. I am able to run like I did ten years ago. My hamstrings no longer hurt and my quads are stronger."
Susan Noddle of Manhattan reports that yoga has reduced her pain from two herniated discs in her back that lie on the L5 nerve root and cause discomfort in her foot.
"I have practiced with this injury and while at times I have to modify or take it slow, it has not prevented me from practicing for any sustained amount of time," says Susan. "I have had to take a week or a few days off when it flares up, but I am always able to return. I also have had surgeries on both of my knees. My surgeon recommends yoga for my knees."
Monica Diamond-Caravella of Huntington tells of the positive effects of yoga on her chronic neck pain. "I suffer from chronic neck pain related to a motor vehicle accident. I've been through physical therapy twice, for at least nine months each, with traction. Yoga keeps my neck supple and flexible and the majority of the time I have no pain. If I don't keep up my practice, my neck pain comes back."
Yoga For Any Age, Any Level of Ability
People of any age can practice yoga. My students are all ages: from teenagers to 70-year-olds. Not only is practicing yoga possible at any age, you don't have to be able to touch your toes or bend like a pretzel to do it. Flexibility is a byproduct of practicing yoga. It's one of the benefits.
If you've "tried yoga and didn't like it," I would encourage you to take a class with a different teacher or try a different style. Yoga is so beneficial on many levels, no matter what your age. Don't give up because you didn't like the teacher, or you felt the class was too difficult, or too easy. There's a yoga class for everybody! 
A Guide to the Types of Yoga
Not sure where to begin? Here are brief descriptions of some of the different types of yoga available in our area:
VINYASA FLOW - "Vinyasa" means "to move with the breath." In some vinyasa-style yoga classes you will flow in and out of postures without having to hold one pose for very long. In others, the teacher may instruct you to stay in the posture longer, which may be more challenging. Anusara, Ashtanga, Jivamukti and Power Yoga are all vinyasa style practices.
ANUSARA - Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara is a vinyasa-style practice that emphasizes heart-opening through backbending and alignment and includes the use of props. Anusara means "flowing with Grace" and the practice aims to look for the good in all things. This class is good for students of all levels.