Category Archives: health and fitness

Practice Meditation

Meditation is the most important practice for calming the mind. A calm mind can lead to a healthy, happy and successful life. It can cure diseases and speed up healing processes. We describe the simple technique below called prana-dharana. Prana in Sanskrit stands for the air that we breathe. It is the most basic act of life which starts from birth and goes on till death. But generally, we are not aware of the breath till our attention is drawn close to it. Dharana means its awareness. Prana-dharana means applying the mind to the flow of air when we breathe. The method is as described below:

Sit in a posture suitable for meditation. The common postures are Siddhasana, Padmasana and Swastikasana. But if you cannot do this, just sit cross-legged. Your back should be straight and eyes closed. Your knees should be placed well on the ground. Do not stoop your shoulders back. The whole body should be relaxed and the whole frame steady without exerting any pull or pressure on the thighs, feet, knees, spine or neck. There should be no stretch on tension along the abdominal wall. Let the abdominal wall sway gently back and forth very smoothly and effortlessly with each respiration. Facial muscles should be relaxed and mouth closed with a small gap between the two jaws such that the upper and lower teeth do not exert pressure on each other. Your tongue should touch the palate with tip touching the back of the upper front teeth. Ensure that the lips, tongue or the lower jaws do not move. Your eyeballs and eyelids should be steady and the muscles of the forehead relaxed.

Your entire posture should be comfortable, steady and relaxed. You should not feel strain on any part of the body. Now start developing the awareness of breathing. The flow of air should be uniform, slow and smooth. Do not make any effort or exercise any control. Never hold breath. Do not utter any word or see any image. This will calm your mind and help you achieve peace.

Perform Yogic Exercises

When you have decided to start with your yoga practice, it is imperative for you to learn how to perform a pose properly. Thus it is advisable for you to find a right teacher who will guide you in the correct manner of performing these poses. Since yogic exercises involve the static and isometric contraction of the muscles, where the muscles are held in a state of tension without causing the corresponding body part to move; it is important to note that the stretching or contraction of the muscles should not be done abruptly or suddenly. You should endeavour to reach the final pose as slowly as you can, so that there is a steady rise in the tension of the muscles. Always reach the final posture slowly through the intermediate postures. Master all these postures slowly one by one.

The movement of each body part should be done under complete control of the muscles exercised. This is achieved only after practicing for a certain period of time. There should be no jerks or violent movements. Each step should be executed easily, smoothly and gracefully. Initially, when you start learning the yoga, there is a tendency to use muscles not concerned with the specified movement. But over a period of time with due practice, you can eliminate the unproductive muscular activity. As you progress, you’ll learn to use only the specified muscles for contraction or stretching while the other muscles are kept relaxed.

Avoid rushing into the final position of any posture, unless you have thoroughly mastered the intermediate stages. Always proceed as far as you comfortably can and hold this pose for some time. This will train the required muscles in a few days and thus you can get smoothness and grace. Take caution not to overwork any muscles. Do not control or restrict your breathing. If you are sick or absent from your practice for a long time, start slowly and reach the previous level only after some time. At the end of the session, you should feel fresh and relaxed. You must experience the lightness and exhilaration at the end of every session.

You can adjust the duration of various techniques according to your capacity and there should be no exhaustion or tension.

Following all these practices will ensure you get a correct yoga session.

How to borrow from Yoga for Weight Loss

Yoga is often praised in the mass media as the new fitness-craze promising weight loss, and increased strength and flexibility. However, when one sees a yoga practitioner curled up in a seemingly impossible pose, the natural tendency is to think: “Well this person has been practicing for years, how can Yoga help me lose the weight now?”

Through the acclaimed Sun Salutations, that’s how.

What are they?

These exercises are a combination of Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, Sun Bathing and Prayer. They have been practiced for centuries by Yoga Practitioners in India, Martial Artists and African Wrestlers and as a system to rejuvenate the body and soul are beyond compare. It’s been said in the Drugless Healing circles that one round of the Sun Salutations is much better than a week of exercises at the gym!

They are very simple to learn and just about anyone, regardless of their fitness or flexibility levels can learn these simple exercises. In actuality, if you are familiar with “burpies” (the calisthenics exercise), they do derive their origin from the Sun Salutations.

Here are some of their benefits:

-They alleviate disorders of the skin and waist.

-Flexibility increases and breathing is corrected, moreover, they mildly exercise the legs and arms, thus increasing the circulation.

-They are the best way to burn calories and reduce weight and are often recommended for obesity and depression.

-They are an effective way of loosening up, stretching and massaging all joints and internal organs of the body.

-They stimulate and balance all the systems of the body including the endocrine, circulatory, reproductive and digestive system.

Technique:

1. Stand straight with the palms together as in a prayer position.

2. Inhale and stretch the arms above the head.

3. Exhale and bend forward while touching the toes.

4. Inhale and stretch the right leg away from the body in a big backward step and keep the hands and left foot firmly on the ground. Bending the head backward the left knee should be between the hands.

5. Inhale and hold the breath. Move the left leg from the body and, keeping both feet together and the knees of the floor, rest on the hands (arms straight) and keep the body in a straight line from head to foot.

6. Exhale and lower the body to the floor. In this position, only 8 portions of the body come in contact with the floor: the two feet, two knees, two hands, chest and forehead.

7. Inhale and bend back as much as possible bending the spine to the maximum.

8. Exhale and lift the body of the floor. Keep the feet and heels on the floor.

9. Inhale and bring the right foot along the level of the hands; left foot and knee should touch the ground. Look up, bending the spine slightly (same position as #4)

10. Exhale and bring the left leg forward. Keep the knees straight and bring the head down to the knees as in the third position.

11. Raise the arms overhead and bend backward inhaling. As in Position 2.

12. Exhale and drop the arms and relax.

You have now completed one round. Perform as many rounds as possible in multiples of 3. Ideally you want to aim for 6 rounds minimum and up to a maximum of 30. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on your speed and intensity and is best practiced with as little clothing as possible before an open air window first thing in the morning.

You could do a search in Yahoo! Images for “Sun Salutations” to see a visual representation of these powerful exercises and be rest assured that with a sensible diet and a wise combination of these exercises-with any other fitness regimen you may choose-you are well on your way to attaining natural weight loss, increased strength and overall fitness with the help of yoga.
So don’t get intimidated when you see a seasoned practitioner in a seemingly tough pose. Yoga is for everyone and can help you lose weight.