Embark on a Journey of Self Discovery
Asana constitutes the physical part of yoga practice. In combination with pranayama (Yogic Breath), this part of yoga is referred to as Hatha Yoga. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali, considered to be the Father of Yoga, describes asana as a "firm, comfortable posture", usually a seated position, where energy to flows freely, the breath is moving and one can find stillness.
Sukhaasana Easy Pose
Benefits~Prepares for more advanced sitting poses, stretches the aductor muscles of the inner thighs and external rotator muscles of the hips.
Come to a sitting position with the legs extended in front. Draw the fleshy part of the buttocks behind you coming to the front of the sitting bones.
Fold the right leg in towards the body, then the left, crossing the legs at the ankles, feet positioned under the opposite thighs. Position the hands any where upon the thighs that is comfortable. Palms can be facing up or down.
Feel the weight of the body sinking into the hips. Inhale and lift the torso feeling the spine lengthening upwards, chest and upper back open. Exhale and roll the shoulders back and down. Lengthen through the back of the neck all the way through the top of the head. Soften the jaw, the facial muscles, close the eyes and relax.
The Eight Limbed Staff of Yoga by Patanjali, discusses ways to attain Supreme Joy, The rungs begin with Raja Yoga, the Kingly Path of Yoga. These are the Yamas and Nyamas, the controls and observances as they relate to life. Next come the yoga Asanas, the postures that are held in stillness. The forth rung relates to our breath, Pranayama, our life force. The breath links our body and mind bringing forth awareness that our mind and body are eternally connected. Fifth is withdrawal of the senses, Pratyahara. It is here that we begin to move inwards. This part of the journey teaches one how to move from distraction to a place of supreme joy.
Dharana is the sixth limb in the eight limbed staff of yoga, according to Patanjali. Dharana stands for concentration--the process of fixing the mind on one focus, an object or place. Through concentration one can cultivate inner perceptual awareness. The mind could focus on a prayer, mantra or intention, a sacred symbol, chanting, or visualization. Dharana is the first stage of meditation, building the mental ability to focus on one object at a time, releasing the distractions of the world around us. Dharana prepares us for deeper states of meditation.
The word Yoga means "to bind". Yoga is a 5,000 year old discipline, handed down from the sages, and consists of specific methods designed to develop an individual physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. Yoga is a journey - a way of looking at our life, our actions, our thoughts and those around us.
A simple, yet well rounded practice includes, Hatha--the physical practice of yoga, Yoga Nidra--deep relaxation, and Pranayama--yogic breathing. These practices combine to bring about full and harmonious development of an individual.
Yoga provides numerous benefits for the mind as well as the physical body. Through a yoga practice, our mood improves; along with our sense of well being, awareness deepens. We often become more accepting of ourselves and those around us. A consistent yoga practice helps with focus and concentration. It can relieve stress, improve alertness, and can also help one's self esteem. Sleep improves and one can learn how to deal with anxiety. Physiological benefits of yoga are many and include lower respiratory rate, improved cardiovascular functions, lower blood pressure, increased flexibility, muscle strength, better coordination and range of motion. An individual's energy level can greatly benefit as well.
In addition, there are biochemical benefits that bring desired results to our bodies. Cortisol levels decrease as antioxidant factors dissipate throughout the bloodstream, bringing a sense of calm and increasing our resistance to dis-ease. Glucose, sodium, cholesterol and triglyceride levels are reduced, while levels of vitamin C, and hemoglobin levels rise.
There are continuing studies in the scientific community which document the improvement through which people suffering from a variety of ailments, including, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, or even obesity are greatly helped by a yoga practice.
From the subtle to the physical, yoga can put you on the path to true healing.
Karen Levitt, e-RYT
It's 7:00 AM and your yoga class starts in 30 minutes. Do you leave the house on an empty stomach??? No food or hydration?? Of course not! After a night of fasting, you need some energy to keep everything running smoothly. One of my favorite A.M. breakfasts is so simple. a frozen banana, a little almond or soy milk, some ice cubes, a touch of vanilla flavoring and a few drops of maple syrup will do the trick. If you have a Vitamix or Blentec at home you will achieve a thick, smooth consistency with this drink.
Ingredients: 1 cup almond milk or soy milk,
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
1 large frozen banana
1 cup ice
splash of pure maple syrup, if desired
Blend until the ice is smooth, If using a Vitamix, begin on the low setting and gradually work your way to 10 and use the high setting until 4 smooth mounds form. This will be really cold. Enjoy.