Yoga was brought to me when I injured my back (or so I thought). Nothing else was working and I needed the pain to go away.
I was actually seeing my GP for another reason, check out My Blog page for more details, when she suggested it may be the answer I was looking for. I may have dabbled with yoga in the past but had never really looked into it as a method of alleviating pain and suffering (physical and emotional).
Now almost 10 years on, yoga feels like a best friend to me. It's always there when I'm happy, sad, worried, scared or excited. Certain postures help me to make decisions, breath work calms me down, setting myself little goals give me a sense of power over my own body and meditation allows me to see life very clearly.
There are five principles of yoga - exercise, breathing, relaxation, diet and meditation. When you combine these five principles as a daily routine you begin a journey of promoting physical, mental and spiritual harmony and well-being.
Exercise - The "Asanas"
The word "asana" literally means "steady pose" and is used to describe the physical exercise in yoga. Consisting of various stretching movements, the asanas are designed to increase flexibility and strength, improve the circulation of blood and prana (energy) around the body and massage the internal organs and glands. Requiring concentration and meditation, the asanas rejuvenate the mind as well as the body. There are 12 basic asanas; once you have mastered these, you can progress to advanced variations.
Breathing - The "Pranayama"
Pranayamas are breath techniques that are used to influence the flow of energy, or prana, inside the body. Most of us do not use our full lung capacity when we breath, resulting in lack of oxygen that can lead to poor health and fatigue. Breathing control is an important part of yoga and an effective means of combating stress.
While we can be active for a certain amount of time, without proper rest, the mind and body become inefficient. Relaxation is a basic requirement - we all need time to restore the energy we have expended. Modern life with all its demands and distractions makes it difficult to achieve proper relaxation. In yoga, complete relaxation is achieved on three levels:
Physical - between every asana, the relaxation pose, the 'corpse' pose is practiced.
Mental - Yogic breathing exercises help ease mental tension. Slowing down the breathing to a rhythmic pattern helps induce a deep sense of calm and relaxation.
Spiritual - True relaxation can only be achieved by withdrawing from the body and mind, thus entering into the peace and tranquility of the pure spirit. The meditation techniques used in yoga calm the mind, create a feeling of oneness with the divine and promote deep inner relaxation.
Meditation is a practice used to calm the mind and concentrate on the 'self'. Yogis believe that happiness cannot be found through material wealth or temporary pleasures. True happiness can only come from within one's self. Tuning the mind inward, transcending boundaries of time and space, produces a state of perfect concentration and spiritual enlightenment. Regular meditation will enable you to extend this calm into your everyday life.
The yogic diet consists of natural foods that nourish the mind and body. Ideally, the diet should be vegetarian as, according to yogic teachings, foods grown from the soil and diary are 'sattvic' or pure. Most vegetarian food is digested easily and supplies all the essential nutrients. Pulses and nuts are good meat-free sources of protein. Any change in diet should be carried out gradually, increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts as you work to decrease your intake of meat-based foods.
Yoga and "You"
I've developed Yoga and "You" to support those wanting help on their journey to introducing yoga into everyday life. Whether you have spent time on the mat before or not, this practice is all about teaching you the basics and guiding you and your body. You will discover how simple movements and using your breath to get you there can transform your life.
I do hope you'll come and join me on the mat; whether physically (at White Branches), virtually (in your own home) or mentally (at another beautiful class near where you live).
The Divine in me Bows to the Divine in You - or simply put "Namaste"
If you haven't yet joined our Caterpillar Library do so HERE. A collection of free advice via video, downloads, audio and more on all things holistic. Thank you for reading, Namaste, Suzanne