Yoga has been described as a science which seeks to achieve the harmonious and balanced development of the body, mind and soul. It is a system which allows us to bring culture, balance and happiness to ourselves. It works via a need for strong mental discipline and the ancient theories, which it is based on regarding the interconnection between the mind and body, are now being regularly supported by modern scientific theory. Yoga consists of a number of different exercises or poses.
Examples of these poses are the cat and cow poses. Both are connected and begin with you on all fours on the floor. Arching the back upwards like a cornered cat places you in the cat pose and the reverse, lowering the back puts you into the cow pose.
Another common form of exercise is a forward bend that will help in the stretching of the lower back and hamstring muscles. There are a number of other advantages to forward bends: They release tension in the back neck and shoulder as well as increasing the flexibility of the spine. Forward bends can be uncomfortable if you have any injuries in the next or back area, but regularly performing will help assists in the recovery of these injuries and even strengthen the area for the future.
The counterpart of a forward bend is a back bend. These open up the chest, hips and rib cage area. As well as strengthening the arms, they also provide increased strength and flexibility to the shoulders. This type of exercise is fantastic at increasing the stability of the spine, but is also useful for relieving built up tension along the front of the body and the hips. The relationship between back and forward bends is a perfect example of the importance of the bodies balance in Yoga.
Hatha Yoga poses were developed in India during the fifteenth century. They are designed as an aid to relaxation and healing and usually introduced with a concept of “the contemplation of one reality”. The result of using these exercises properly and in conjunction with suitable breathing exercises and meditation is an increase in vitality, physical health and a stronger mental health. Hatha Yoga exercises have become a part of numerous different Yoga disciplines over the years and it’s quite common to see exercises such as the half moon posture, the bow posture of the salutation posture even if it is not Hatha Yoga you are practising. This is because the principles of Yoga and the movements and balances required are fairly consistent from one discipline to another.
Another simple Yoga exercise is doing the twist. Twists will strengthen and stretch your back or abdominal muscles and help to increase the flexibility of your spine. They also aid in increasing your bodies circulation that brings oxygen supplies to your cells. This fresh blood and oxygen supply that is released as you twist will improve the functioning of your bodies internal organs.
A yoga session will often begin with a standing pose. These are a very good low impact, low stress starting point for a Yoga session. Standing poses benefit the legs and hips and help provide a sense of centring, balance and of course strength to the legs themselves. The end of a Yoga session is usually marked by a group of poses known as Relation and Restorative Poses. This group of exercises is designed to give the positive energies and forces released by the Yoga session to move throughout your body and benefit you completely.
Can Yoga Provide A Solution To Soaring Crime Rates?
Crime and Yoga are not often two words that are used together in the same sentence, and that is part of the reason that they are combined in this article. When you think of a stereotypical criminal, someone who does Yoga just doesn’t spring to mind. We think of criminals as being angry, or at least very active, while Yogi are seen as calm and sedentary. Really the two are so far apart that it’s hard to consider that someone who regularly undertakes Yoga classes could ever become a criminal. Perhaps Yoga should become compulsory to fight the crime rate? Here’s why:
Yoga classes begin with a simple standing exercise – the exercise is this: Breathe. You can spend a significant part of a Yoga class concentrating on the simple action of taking a deep breath, breathing it in and feeling it’s life giving force extend to all the far reaches of the body, and then exhaling it just as deeply and completely. This simple act of concentrating of breathing has an unparalleled ability to focus our mental concentration. It allows us to clear away unwanted or disturbing thoughts and restore ourselves to a central balance.
The calming and focussing benefits of a Yoga breathing exercise can, quickly and easily clear away the types of distractions and temptations that can lead to a criminal act, at least an impulsive one. Imagine the potential of that on habitual criminals – the ability to take a moment before committing a crime, focus their thoughts and realize that it is not the best course of action and should be avoided.
Most domestic violence is a direct result of too much stress and strain in a relationship. Statistics show that the arguments that lead to an incident of domestic violence are almost always of the ‘little things’. The final straw being a little thing rather than a big important issue. Let’s insert the ability to calm ourselves, sharpen our mind and rationalize into that situation. Domestic Violence is a result of people ‘snapping’. Uncluttering the mind and calming oneself would mean that people never got to that point.
Other forms of violent crime are similar to domestic violence – they occur when tension rises up over time until one person snaps and throws a punch or pulls a knife. With the right self-calming tools at their disposal these criminals would be far less likely to offend.
Of course, all that assumes that the criminal does not want to commit a crime and only does so due to a failure to see an alternative when a certain set of circumstances present themselves. They are hungry and can take a loaf of bread so they do, or they feel threatened, unappreciated or disrespected and see striking out as the only options. Yoga would not benefit the kind of calculating mind that makes a career of criminal activities because each crime is carefully pre-meditated.
Or would it?
Most people know of the physical side and have at least heard of the mental and spiritual benefits of yoga, but few know that the exercises that form the basis of Yoga are only the Western Worlds interpretation of Yoga. Traditionally Indian Yoga includes an entire philosophy on how to treat each other and live our lives. If criminals also followed this component of Yoga it would be possible to see crime disappear. One can only dream…
Most people have a passing knowledge with what Yoga is, or think they know about what it sets out to achieve. But until you have tried Yoga it is impossible to know whether you have the type of personality that can truly excel under it’s influence. Yoga, quite simply can be a life changing experience and the discipline and mental strength that result from it can completely change your perspective and world view.
One method of Yoga which is currently very popular is know as Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga, often referred to as ‘hot yoga’ follows the Bikram Yoga Method. As with all Yoga it has multiple goals – to build your inner strength as well as your outer physical strength. A vital component of Bikram Yoga is the flexibility and balance required to perform the exercises and it is believed that this comes from mental strength as much as physical practice. The roots of Bikram are in Hatha Yoga, which is a healing form of Yoga that strengthens both body and mind.
The founder of Bikram Yoga was Bikram Choudhury, a yoga practitioner and innovator. After a weightlifting accident Bikram Choudhury was determined to recover and set about investigating the healing ability of practicing certain types of exercise. The result was Bikram Yoga, which so many people found to be an effective method of healing that it’s tenants were recorded and passed on as a new form of Yoga. Those who practise Bikram Yoga purely for it’s healing benefits are plentiful, but there is also a strong holistic component, which is a key reason behind using Bikram Yoga for many of those who are regular users.
They key to success with Bikram Yoga is to develop the mental strength required to discipline yourself in it’s use. If you can master this side of the Yoga then the physical benefits will be forthcoming. They have been proven by scientists including a group from the Tokyo University Hospital. The medical benefits are beyond question and have been shown to improve chronic ailments as well as greatly assist in the treatment and recovery of tissue injuries.
At the 1972 International Medical Conference the findings were presented and it was concluded that Bikram Yoga had the ability to assist in the recovery of internal tissue. The explanation given was that the positions practised by Bikram Yoga replenish cells and assist in the lymphatic system flushing toxins from the body. In addition to the toxin drain the cells are assisted by higher oxygen flows during and after exercise.
Bikram showed that to get the best benefits from the exercise a healthy and well balanced body was important. Where the body is weak Bikram Yoga will have less affect in the healing process, which relies on correct balance and circulation.
Bikram demonstrated 26 exercises and recommended a regime, which was to be practised every single day in order to best treat the body. Each posture exercise was developed based on a background of both Eastern and Western Yoga disciplines. They all focus on the movement and pressure on muscles, nerves, ligaments glands and organs. The exercises are meant to be performed together and in sequence, because they are all inter-related to each other.
Bikram Yoga is low impact and can be performed by people of all different ages. The important component is the discipline required to perform the posture exercises every day for maximum benefit.
When you are new to Yoga you are probably going to be uncertain as to what to expect when you first enter a beginner Yoga Class on your first day. Most people are uncertain about what they should even be looking for in a beginner Yoga class, so this article will let you in on the four secrets to finding the right class for you.
Secret Number One: Decide on what you want to achieve before choosing a style.
The number of different reasons for taking up Yoga is usually at least as high as the number of new people in a Yoga class. Broadly people will be looking for one of three things – physical health, mental health or spiritual health. All three are important and all three are realistic goals in a Yoga class. Whatever it is you are trying to achieve through Yoga there will be a class and style that is suitable for you. You can research in a library, online or even by asking various Yogi and this will hep you find the Yoga that will get the best result for you.
It’s worth actually setting some solid goals and many newcomers are surprised at how willing a Yoga instructor is to talk over these goals with them and discuss whether they are realistic or an alternative may be better suited.
Secret Number Two: Join a class-by-class program
These are sometimes referred to as drop in classes, or pay as you go. These are a good way of getting a feel for Yoga. There will be a regular turnover of other students in the classes and the contrasting level will mean the instructor will keep the classes at a relatively mild level and give everyone a taste of many different aspects of Yoga.
The advantage of this method is of course that you are not committed to an expensive series of classes and you can get a taster for Yoga and see what types of Yoga interest you. You will also quickly learn whether the goals you set earlier are realistic for you, or even too low and need expanding upon.
Your next step will be to choose a series of classes in the areas that you found most suitable from the drop in classes. These classes will build on each other from week to week and you may find yourself behind if you miss a week.
Secret Number Three: Ensure that you are being taught by someone who knows what they are doing.
Surprisingly enough considering the relatively low intensity and the many physical benefits, Yoga has begun to regularly show up on the statistics for sports injuries. Two key causes are identified. Firstly students pushing themselves too fast too soon, and secondly instructors with inadequate training or appreciation of the individual level of their students(large classes are sometimes to blame for this).
When you are considering a new class don’t be embarrassed to ask your Yoga instructor what their qualifications and background are. Many ‘instructors have nothing more than a three day training course in ‘gym yoga’ and many people put this in the ‘enough knowledge to be dangerous category’. Traditionally a student would train for many years under a guru before they would be considered fit to pass on even the simplest of Yoga techniques to another novice.
The Yoga Alliance is a United States organisation that features a register of teaches who have completed ‘appropriate’ training. This means having completed courses that meet a certain standard. A nice rule to work by is that less than 200 hours of instruction would mean a part time Yoga education.
Secret Number Four: Be aware of hidden costs.
An unpleasant surprise that can put people right off Yoga is turning up to the first class and finding that there are expenses that they haven’t allowed for. Some studio’s require each student to have their own mat, a special strap or other props. Some classes will work through a book which you are obliged to buy and some classes will have a dress code ranging from specific colours to specific articles of clothing. Being unaware of any of these things and being refused your first class because of them can be very off-putting.