"YOGA”

PEACE OF MIND

 

Introduction

Derived from the Sanskrit word, "YOGA" means "Union". It is a combination of Physical and Mental Exercise designed to hone ones concentration, improve health and attain eternity.
Today's lifestyles are built up with stress and conflicts. There is disharmony in the body (physical), mind (mental), and Spirit (Spiritual) the basic 3 aspects of human body. All illness is the result of such disintegration of these three.

http://www.keralam.com/images/yogaimg.jpgYoga has been practiced in India since the days Indus civilsation. It is around 5000 years old. Yoga is a philosophy in itself. And will do wonders to the practitioners health. Other forms of exercise like aerobics, gymnastics concentrates only on the physical part of the human body. But Yoga integrates mental and physical form. One attains selfless form with years of practice. It is achieved by 08 fold yogic practice.

1. Disciplined Behavior (Yama)
2. Self Purification (Niyama)
3. Bodily Posture - lotus position (Padmasana)
4. Breath control (pranayama)
5. Sensual control (Pratyahara)
6. Concentration (Dharana)
7. Meditation (Dhyana)
8. Absolute state of tranquility and eternity (Samadhi)


Yoga exercises are done gently in relaxed state with right mental attitude induced by correct breathing rhythm. By practicing Yoga, one has a complete control over his body - physical and mental. It increases the efficiency of the heart & slows the respiratory rate, lowers blood pressure, mental relaxation, reduces stress, strain, allays anxiety and many more. It also serves to improve coordination, posture, flexibility, concentration, digestion etc. It is a supplementary therapy for anemia, insomnia, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, asthma, migraine and Aids; it helps to combat addiction like Consumption of liquor, smoking and drugs.


Asanas (Postures of Yoga)
Cited below are some of the simple Asanas (postures of Yoga). For beginners, Yoga has to be practiced under the supervision of a Yoga Guru (Teacher).

 

Sit/Easy Position - Sukhasana
This Asana helps in control over breathing and has the feel of the body; helps strengthen lower back and relaxes the hip and groin parts of the body.
Sit cross-legged with hands on knees. Focus on your breath. Keep your spine straight and push the sit bones down into the floor. Gently lower the knees. If the knees rise above your hips, sit on a cushion or block. This will help support your back and hips. Take 5-10 slow, deep breaths. On the next inhale; raise your arms over your head. Exhale and bring your arms down slowly. Repeat 5-7 times.

Mountain - Tadasana
Improves posture, balance and self-awareness. A deceptive pose in that it appears so simple that some students may ask - "why bother?" But just as there's more to breathing than meets the eye, there is more to standing, too.
Stand with feet together, hands at your sides, eyes looking forward. Raise your toes, fan them open, then place them back down on the floor. Feel your heel, outside of your foot, toes and ball of your foot all in contact with the floor. Tilt your public bone slightly forward. Raise your chest up and out, but within reason - this isn't the army and you're not standing at attention. Raise your head up and lengthen the neck by lifting the base of your skull toward the ceiling. Stretch the pinky on each hand downward, then balance that movement by stretching your index fingers. Push into the floor with your feet and raise your legs, first the calves and then the thighs. Breathe. Hold the posture, but try not to tense up. Breathe. As you inhale, imagine the breath coming up through the floor, rising through your legs and torso and up into your head. Reverse the process on exhale and watch your breath as it passes down from your head, through your chest and stomach, legs and feet.

Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, relax and repeat.
On your next inhale, raise your arms over head (Urdhava Hastasana) and hold for several breaths. Lower your arms on exhale. As a warm up, try synchronizing the raising and lowering of your arms with your breath - raise, inhale; lower, exhale. Repeat 5 times.


Trikonasana - the Triangle
Stretches the spine, opens the torso, improves balance and concentration. Start with your spread 3-4 feet apart, feet parallel. Turn your left foot 90 degrees to the left and your right foot about 45 degrees inward. Inhale and raise both arms so they're parallel with the floor. Exhale, turn your head to the left and look down your left arm toward your outstretched fingers. Check that your left knee is aligned with your left ankle. Take a deep breath and stretch outward to the left, tilting the left hip down and the right hip up. When you've stretched as far as you can, pivot your arms, letting your left hand reach down and come to rest against the inside of your calf, while your right arms points straight up. Turn and look up at your right hand. Breathe deeply for several breaths. Inhale, and straighten up. Exhale and lower your arms. Put your hands on your hips and pivot on your heels, bringing your feet to face front. Repeat the posture on the other side.

The Cobra - Bhujangasana
Stretches the spine, strengthens the back and arms, opens the chest and heart. Lay down on your stomach. Keep your legs together, arms at your side, close to your body, with your hands by your chest.

 

Step 1: Inhaling, slowly raise your head and chest as high as it will go. Keep your buttocks muscles tight to protect your lower back. Keep your head up and chest and heart out. Breathe several times and then come down. Repeat as necessary.
Step 2: Follow the steps above. When you've gone as high as you can, gently raise yourself on your arms, stretching the spine even more. Only go as far as you are comfortable. Your pelvis should always remain on the floor. Breathe several times and come down.


Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana
Builds strength, flexibility and awareness; stretches the spine and hamstrings; rests the heart. Start on your hands and knees. Keep your legs about hip width apart and your arms shoulder width apart. Your middle fingers should be parallel, pointing straight ahead. Roll your elbows so that the eye or inner elbow is facing forward. Inhale and curl your toes under, as if getting ready to stand on your toes. Exhale and straighten your legs; push upward with your arms. The goal is to lengthen the spine while keeping your legs straight and your feet flat on the ground. However, in the beginning it's okay to bend the knees a bit and to keep your heels raised. The important thing is to work on lengthening the spine. Don't let your shoulders creep up by your ears -- keep them down. Weight should be evenly distributed between your hands and feet. Hold the position for a few breaths. Come down on and exhale. Repeat several times, synchronizing with your breath: up on exhale and down on inhale.

Head to Knee - Janu Shirshasana
Stretches and opens back and hamstrings, improves flexibility Sit on the floor with legs extended in front of you. Bend one leg, bringing the heel of the foot as close to the groin as possible. You may want to place a pillow under the bent knee for comfort. Make sure your sit bones are firmly grounded on the floor and that your spine is straight. Turn your body slightly so you face out over the extended leg. Inhale and raise your arms over head. Exhale and begin to move forward slowly. Try to keep the back as straight as possible. Instead of bending at the hips, focus on lifting the tailbone and rolling forward on your sit bones. Inhale and lengthen and straighten the spine. Exhale and roll forward, however slightly. To get a bit more forward movement; engage your quadriceps (thigh muscles) as you move forward. This releases the hamstrings, giving you a bit more flexibility. When you've moved as far forward as you can, lower the arms and grasp your foot, or leg. Hold the position for a moment and breathe. Then on the next exhale gently pull yourself forward. Go slowly and remember to keep the back straight. When done, straighten up and do the other side.

Half Shoulder stand - Ardha Sarvangasana
Promotes proper thyroid function, strengthens abdomen, stretches upper back, improves blood circulation, induces relaxation You probably remember doing this as a kid. Lie on your back and lift your legs up into air. Place your hands on your lower back for support, resting your elbows and lower arms on the ground. Make sure your weight is on your shoulders and mid to upper back - not your neck. Breathe deeply and hold for at the posture for at least 5-10 breaths, increasing the hold over time. To come down, slowly lower your legs, keeping them very straight -- a little workout for your abdominal muscles.

The Bridge - Sethu Bandhasa
Increases flexibility and suppleness; strengthens the lower back and abdominal muscles; opens the chest. Lay on your back with your knees up and hands at your side your feet should be near your buttocks about six inches apart. To begin, gently raise and lower your tail. Then, slowly, raise the tailbone and continue lifting the spine, trying to move one vertebra at a time until your entire back is arched upward. Push firmly with your feet. Keep your knees straight and close together. Breathe deeply into your chest. Clasp your hands under your back and push against the floor.
Take five slow, deep breaths. Come down slowly and repeat.

The Corpse - Savasana
Relaxes and refreshes the body and mind, relieves stress and anxiety, quiets the mind Possibly the most important posture, the Corpse, also known as the Sponge, is as deceptively simple as Tadasana, the Mountain pose. Usually performed at the end of a session, the goal is conscious relaxation. Many people find the "conscious" part the most difficult because it is very easy to drift off to sleep while doing Savasana. Begin by lying on your back, feet slightly apart, arms at your sides with palms facing up. Close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths. Allow your body to sink into the ground. Try focusing on a specific part of the body and willing it to relax. For example, start with your feet, imagine the muscles and skin relaxing, letting go and slowly melting into the floor. From your feet, move on to your calves, thighs and so on up to your face and head. Then simply breathe and relax. Stay in the pose for at least 5-10 minutes.
Each session usually begins with a set of gentle warm-up exercises. The teacher will then ask you to focus on your breathing, and may take you through several breathing exercises. Then it's on to the yoga postures, a series of poses that typically must be held for periods of a few seconds to several minutes. Unlike the routine in calisthenics or weight training, you will not be asked to repeat postures more than three times, and some will be done only once.

Session Time: Classes usually last 45 minutes to an hour, but expert's stress that even short sessions can be beneficial if you make them a regular routine.
Frequency: Classes may be taken once a week, or more often, as desired. Your teacher will probably ask you to practice new positions at home, and will encourage you to run through at least a portion of the yoga routine each day. Regular practice, even if brief, is recommend for the best results.


Books on Yoga
1. Yoga: The Path To Holistic Health by B. K. S. Iyengar, DK Publishing
Review : Serious yoga practitioners consider B. K. S. Iyengar to be the master of hatha yoga. Born in India in 1918, he has been teaching for more than six decades, and Iyengar yoga centers have been established all over the world. Iyengar's tried-and-true technique emphasizes breath awareness, alignment.
2. The Eight Human Talents by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Cliff Street Books
Review: Madonna, Cindy Crawford, and David Duchovny have been her students, and now you too can experience the gifts of well-known L.A.-based yoga teacher Gurmukh. In The Eight Human Talents, she shares the spiritual wisdom and exercises of the Kundalini approach, which emphasizes the roles of the eight
3. The Healing Path of Yoga by Nischala Devi, Three Rivers Pr
Review : It's not surprising that yoga has become a highly popular pastime in 21st-century America. "Recent medical research by well-known clinicians shows that stress is a major factor in causing heart disease, cancer, and a myriad of chronic and acute diseases of today's world,"


Home tips
Some of the asanas (postures) you can practise at home. But be kind to yourself when you practice yoga. Go slowly, especially in the beginning, and listen to your body. It knows what it can do. If it says, "stop," stop. Don't push it. Yoga is not a competitive sport. You don't win points for matching a picture in a book (or on a website). If you push too hard, you probably won't enjoy it, and you may hurt yourself. Whenever possible, work with a teacher, and use books, videos and websites to supplement your classroom instruction. Most of all, stick with it. If you practice, you will improve. And you will feel better.

Yoga Centers in Keralam (South India)

TRIVANDRUM

1. Ayur Health Center Fort , Sivananda Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Sivananada Yoga Vedanta Centre, Airport Road , Trivandrum
2. Sivananda Ashram, Neyyar dam - Trivandrum
3. Sivanada Yoga Vedanda Center, Airport Rd, Trivandrum
4. Sivanada ashram, Vattiyoorkavu, Trivandrum


KOLLAM

1.  Kollam Yoga Kendra, Uilyakoil, Jawahar Balabhavan, Holistic Eastern Advance Research Temple (Heart), Kollam
2.  Javahar Bhalabhavan
3.  Uliyakoil
4.  Holistic Eastern Advanced Research Temple(HEART)


COCHIN

1.  Prajapahi Yoga center, Peyoli Road, Kacheripady-18 - Kochi
2.  Life Yoga Center, Edapally – 24 - Kochi  
3.  Adithya Yoga Institute, Thrikkakara-21 - Kochi   
4.  Pathanjali Naturopathy & Yoga Clinic, International Stadium Kaloor-17 - Kochi 
5.  Kerala Yoga Centre, kripa, Kundanoor, Maradu, Kochi, India, Pin - 682304.

 
 
 
 
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