The Practice of Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is mainly practiced for health and vitality. Hatha Yoga was introduced in the 15th century by Yogi Swatmarama. Hatha yoga focuses on the purification of the physical being which leads to the purification of the mind or vital energy. The exploration of these physical-spiritual connections and body centered practices led to the creation of Hatha Yoga. Today In the West, hatha yoga has become wildly popular as a purely physical exercise regimen divorced of its original purpose.

Whatever the historical details, Krishnamacharya has become the undisputed father of modern-day hatha yoga. Krishnamacharya’s first lessons in yoga were from his father and his grandmother and passed on through generations of practice.

Hatha Yoga follows in that vein and thus successfully transcends being particularly grounded in any one religion. This exploration of these physical and spiritual connections and body centered practices led to the creation of Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga has been included in the life style of these traditions. Hatha Yoga classes tend, among other things, to emphasize physical mastery.

Hatha also means a force or determined effort, and yoga, of course, translates as yoke or joining together. The very name hatha yoga, a combination of “ha,” meaning sun, and “tha,” meaning moon, denotes the union of opposites. Through the practice of yoga an individual can gain information about physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being.

Hatha Yoga represents opposing energies: hot and cold, fire and water following the theme of ying and yang, male and female, positive and negative. Hatha yoga attempts to balance the mind and body. The balancing of the mind and body is brought about via physical exercises (also known as asanas), controlled breathing (pranayama) and relaxation or meditiation.

Pranayama refers to breath control in yoga. In this yoga is defined as a means of binding or controlling the breath and the mind using the syllable Om. In this case yoga has extremes, practices of fasting, breath control, and postures to transcend the body, and not cultivate it. Asana body postures that are contemplative in nature and are designed to align the body and bring about the optimum situation for relaxation.

Traditional yoga is a holistic yogic path and is becoming wildly popular.

Trying Yoga for Back Pain? Then pick the RIGHT poses

Studies have shown that Yoga may be one of the most effective exercises for back pain relief. In fact Health-First reporter Leslie LoBue says twisting your body into those sometimes awkward positions may actually be just the thing for lower back pain.

However, as effective as Yoga may be to reduce the pain of back problems, knowing exactly what poses to use, for how long, what to offset the poses with and in what sequence to execute them, are other factors that should be taken into consideration before using it as a therapeutic relief from back pain.

I can see a reader go “Wait a minute…if I have to go through all that, then maybe I should just take some painkillers and call it a day.”

If that applies, it is hardly my intention to scare you away from Yoga for back pain, in fact I’d rather you embraced its use as an alternative to drugs-prescribed or otherwise-for your problems, however, for your success with its use, a little bit of awareness of the correct poses to use for back pain is required and will come in handy for a lasting use of this drug-free alternative.

I will go over the common, simple yet very effective poses for back pain and also give you instructions on the proper poses to offset the spinal motions when applicable. Moreover, I will discuss the factors of the duration of time needed when executing these poses as well.

Though some of these poses may best be learned under the supervision of a certified Yoga Instructor or avid expert, with the descriptions given below-and if need be, the use of image searches on related Yoga sites and search engines-
I believe you should be able to get a good concept to at least be able to practice these poses at home.
Here are some of the best poses for back ache and since the aim here is more so back pain relief versus exercising, it is not mandatory that you hold them more than 5-15 seconds, depending on your level of comfort. Moreover, a use of a yoga mat or any other soft surface is highly recommended in the execution of these asanas.

The Shoulder-stand (Savangasana)

This, folks, is a noted panacea for near any human ailment.
Don’t panic, it is extremely easy to execute, however, depending on the severity of your case, use discretion in its use.

-Spread a thick blanket on the floor and place your yoga mat on it. Lie on the back.
-Slowly raise the legs. Lift the trunk, hips and legs to a vertical position.
-Rest the elbows firmly on the floor and support the back with both hands.
-Raise the legs till they become vertical. Press the chin against the chest..
-While performing this pose, the back of the neck, the posterior part of the head and the shoulders should touch the floor. (I can assure you that you will say “Hey, I’ve done this before as a kid…this is yoga?”)
-Breathe in counts of 5-5-5 (inhalation, retention and exhalation).
-Don’t allow the body to shake.

Now for the counter poses to the Shoulder-Stand, try to incorporate the following:

Bridge Pose (Sethu Bhandasana):

From the Shoulder Stand position, stretch the legs and slowly touch the floor with the feet. It is done to bend the spine in the opposite direction.

Fish Pose (Matsyasana):

Lie on your back. Stretch the legs and keeps the hands palm down under the thighs. Raise the chest with the help of the elbows and, bending the neck as much as possible backwards, rest on the top of the head.

Suggested Duration:
Try to use the ratio below to time the execution of these three poses.
6:1:2 (meaning the fish pose is held for a third of the time spent in the shoulder stand and the bridge pose held for half the time spent in the fish pose (or a sixth of the time spent in the shoulder-stand)

Or as an alternative, you could simply forego the bridge pose and apply a 2:1 ratio (shoulder-stand to fish pose) but this is only advised if you intend to do the parent pose (the shoulder-stand) for only a few seconds.

Obviously a lot of detail has gone into the description of these poses, however, that is because my intention is for you to be well informed, but for the sake of time and space. I will briefly go over the other poses you could do well to include AFTER you try the sequence above. This is if you decide to use it by the way.

Using Yoga For Weight Loss

Yoga can be put to good use for taking off excess pounds through the power of creating a state of mental and physical well being. The basic tenets of Yoga promotes a healthy lifestyle and when combined with a calorie reduction can help to speed up your weight loss. It will increase your metabolism by increasing the caloric burning process. All weight loss is based on using more calories than you take in. It will also allow you to increase your ability to concentrate and focus.

Your thyroid regulates your metabolism and is responsible for the chemical processes that transform food into energy. Yoga uses a series of twisting poses that will help to stimulate the work flow of the internal organs. This will cause your metabolism to increase and burn more calories which will eventually cause you to have a lower body weight. Another side effect is that it will help to improve your circulation and increase your energy level.

The various back bends combined with the forward bends will help to stimulate the metabolism. The poses that affect the neck region can be helpful in stimulating the thyroid if the weight problem is caused by a hormonal imbalance. Poses that will help the most for this include the camel, rabbit, plow, bridge and head stand. Going quickly between the various poses can help to accelerate the weght loss. Beware though that those seriously overweight may find some of these poses extremely difficult and should start slowly with the easier poses and add others as they become more confident in the easier ones.

You can use standing poses to increase muscle strengthening such as the warrior. These will help to create higher endurance and increase your caloric usage.

Remember that a gradual approach is best with all Yoga practices. The long term effects on your weight loss regime will become evident and even more so the inner peace and general well feeling that Yoga will promote within you.

Understanding the different types of Yoga

Yoga is becoming a more and more popular activity in the Western world today. The number of places holding Yoga classes is on the increase and there is a plethora of different types of Yoga. With a choice of Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and many more it can be easy to get confused

The article will help you to understand the difference between the most popular types of Yoga so you can choose which type is right for you.

Hatha Yoga – in Sanskrit (an ancient classical language of India) “Ha” means “sun” and “tha” means “moon”. This type of Yoga is relatively slow paced, gentle type of Yoga and is a good place to start if you are completely new to Yoga and don’t know any of the asanas (poses). Like all types of Yoga, Hatha Yoga aims to unite the mind, body and spirit.

Ashtanga Yoga – this is the type of Yoga that I practice on a regular basis and means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit. It’s a fast moving, intense style of Yoga practice and is based on a progressive set sequence of asanas, synchronized with the breath. Ashtanga Yoga can be quite physically demanding as you constantly move from one asana in the sequence to the next, so you’ll find that it will improve your stamina as well as your flexibility and strength..

Power Yoga – this is a western interpretation of Yoga and is based on Ashtanga Yoga. A Power Yoga class may not necessarily stick to the exact sequence of poses like Ashtanga Yoga does, but it does involve practicing a series of poses without stopping and starting.

Iyengar Yoga – This type of Yoga is based on teachings by B.K.S Igengar and concentrates on the correct alignment and form of the body. Unlike Ashtanga Yoga, there is an emphasis on holding each pose for a long period of time rather than moving constantly from one pose to the next. Iyengar Yoga uses props such as blocks and straps to help align the body into the different poses.

Vinyasa Yoga – Vinyasa means breath synchronized movement and is another fast paced type of Yoga, with an emphasis on breathing. A practice typically starts with sun salutations and moves on to more intense stretching. Throughout the practice each pose is balanced with a counter pose.

Bikram Yoga – otherwise known as “Hot Yoga”, is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees, with a humidity of around 40%. Generally a sequence of 26 different poses is practiced during a Bikram Yoga class and the hot temperature helps to loosen muscles. Due to the high temperature most people sweat a lot during the class and this helps to cleanse the body of toxins.

If you’re just starting out or have never done any Yoga before, I recommend trying a few different types of yoga to find out what you like best.

Remember, there’s no rule that says you have to stick to one type of Yoga. I like Ashtanga Yoga best, but I also go to occasional Iyengar and Hatha Yoga classes for a bit of variety.

Tips For Doing Inversion Yoga Poses

Headstand (salamba shirshasana) is one of the yoga poses that are considered inversion poses. Inversion poses involve any asanas that lift the feet above the head. Other inversion poses that are well known include shoulderstand (salamba sarvangasana) and half shoulderstand (viparita karani). But even lying on the floor with your legs on a chair is an inversion pose.

The concept behind inversion poses is expressed in yoga texts as viparita karani. Viparita karani is translated as meaning ‘opposite process’. This simply means facilitating a different perspective. From the purely physical point of view, this different perspective in inversion poses is literal – in terms of looking at the world from a different physical viewpoint – as well as involving the body being supported in a different way.

But as yoga is more than simply physical exercises, there are other processes that are assisted. A lot of yoga is designed to help us change mental habits as well as physical habits. Through increasing our ability to adapt to change, instead of being stuck in old habitual responses, we increase our capacity for growth and transformation. This applies in all areas of our lives.

There is a theoretical concept in yoga about why inversion postures help. Ayurveda considers that many of the body’s impurities are in the lower abdomen. When we raise our feet above the head, gravity is assisting us to move these impurities towards what the Ayurvedic system calls agni, or ‘fire’. Agni particularly relates to our ‘digestive fire’, and is thus located above our lower abdomen.

So, by being upside down, and by using the deep and slow breathing typical of yoga, we help ‘burn off’ the impurities that were previously stuck.

Improved circulation is a more readily apparent and less ‘esoteric’ benefit of inversion yoga poses.

Whilst inversion postures have many health benefits, the ability of an individual to receive those benefits depends as much on their capacity to comfortably hold these sometimes difficult postures. For example, headstand and shoulderstand should simply not be done if people are pregnant, have neck pain, high or low blood pressure, neck injuries, or are menstruating. And neither of these postures should be attempted without the appropriate preparatory postures. Otherwise the risk is there that an injury, or stiffness, particularly to the neck area, will result.

Likewise, if doing these postures is very uncomfortable and difficult, more benefit will be derived from doing either the modified versions, or simply working on other yoga poses that strengthen these areas.

There are several important prerequisites for getting the most benefit fro inversions. The first one, a strong neck, I’ve mentioned. The others are a strong back and abdominal muscles, and the capacity to breathe well whilst in the posture. The latter is going to get better with practice, both of yoga itself and the inversions. It is also somewhat tied into having a strong back. Our back and stomach muscles will provide the support to hold the legs straight, which inturn opens up the thoracic cavity, and increases our ability to breathe well whilst upside down!

Tips for Doing the Inverted Postures

For Half Shoulderstand:

* Lengthen the exhale
* Don’t lock the chin
* Keep your weight not on the head but on the wrists and elbows
* Don’t try to pull your torso (and legs) into the vertical like in full shoulderstand if you have difficulties with your neck. By doing so, you’re placing more pressure on your neck.
* Make sure you do the appropriate balancing postures afterwards. These include shalabhasana and bhujangasana

For Shoulderstand:

* Don’t worry so much about keeping your elbows and arms parallel. This will create more tension in your neck if you’re not proficient in this posture.
* Do the appropriate balancing postures. These are the same as for half shoulderstand.

For Headstand:

* Don’t ever make adjustments whilst in headstand. If you feel your alignment is not quite right, come down and do it again.
* Never do this posture first up, or without the prerequisite postures. It will lead to stiffness in the neck at best, and injury at worst. And the negative effects can build up over time. This posture is never done traditionally without preparation, and there is reason for this.
* Use a wall for support as a learning stage
* Support your head with all of your fingers, including the little fingers and thumbs
* Finding the right position for your head will make sure weight is distributed evenly, and ensure you don’t have to overly press down with your elbows to compensate
* Think of the support for the whole body as being distributed evenly across both elbows and the head
* Don’t hold your weight too much on the back of your body. It will place too much pressure on your neck.
* Don’t use props that allow the neck to be free.

The Top 5 Yoga Positions

Often times the right information can change a person’s life. This happened with me and yoga.

There are a lot of yoga positions and poses that is built to enhance posture.

All things considered, yoga positions possess a lot of advantage such that it aims to improve our condition and give us a straight figure.

Occasionally, we might not take notice our selves in a crooked figure. If we practice that for a long period and not do anything about it, await to have a crooked bone in the future.

Although it is true, yoga positions are good to strengthen our
body giving focus to the thighs, knees and the ankles. If you get uses to practicing yoga positions everyday, it is expected that your bones react immediately.

Under certain circumstances, the belly and the backside is considered a important turn on for both genders. For the male, it is ideal to retain up a passable abdomen of the abs. This makes it more appealing to the women.

Having a good butt matters to several women too, a lot of them are practicing in order to acquire a lot of figure and shape in their body.

Yoga positions amazingly relieve sciatica. These are some pain that cannot be prevented. If you do yoga once in a while and even regularly, perhaps you will not see any back or muscle pain.

Here are some techniques on how to maintain a good yoga position.

Just follow these steps in order for you to entirely comprehend yoga positions and be capable to execute it in the proper way.

Yoga Position Number One:

You have to stand with the bases of your big toes touching and the heels have to be slightly apart.

You must lift and spread your toes slowly and the balls of your feet too. Then after, you want to lay them softly down on the floor. Rock yourself back and forth and even side to side.

You may gradually reduce this swaying to maintain a halt, with your weight balanced evenly on your feet.

Yoga Position Number 2:
Flex your thigh muscles and then lifting the knee caps is next. Do it without hardening your lower belly. Lift the inside ankles to make stronger the internal arches, then picture a line of energy all the way up along your inner thighs up to your groins. From there through the core of your neck, torso, and head, and out through the crown of your head. You should turn the upper thighs slowly inward. Make your tailbone longer toward the floor and raise the pubis in the direction of the navel.

Yoga Position Number 3:
Drive your shoulder blades backwards, then broaden them crossways and discharge them down your back. Without roughly pushing your lower front ribs forward, lift the top of your sternum straight toward the ceiling. Broaden your collarbones. Suspend your arms alongside the torso.

Yoga Position Number 4:
You should balance the crown of your head unswervingly over the middle of your pelvis, with the base of your chin analogous to the floor, throat soft, and the tongue broad and plane on the floor of your mouth. Make your eyes look softer.

Yoga Position Number 5:
Tadasana is usually the primary yoga position for all the standing poses. Applying the Tansana is beneficial especially in applying the poses. Staying in the pose for 30 seconds up to 1 minute, then breathing easily keeps it acceptable.

Just follow these clear figures and you are sure that you are doing the right yoga positions.