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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pet Yoga and Downward Facing Dogs


By Faye Martins

According to a 2004 BBC article, New York City-based yoga teacher Suzi Teitelman invented doggie yoga, or “doga” as it’s sometimes called. As an instructor for the fitness chain Crunch, she had an inspiration and decided to include her cocker spaniel in the class, since he frequently joined her on the mat during her home practice and “Ruff Yoga” was born. Since then, a flood of doga classes have emerged across the United States. There’s even a book, called “Doga: Yoga For Dogs,” by Jennifer Brilliant and William Berloni.

What is “pet Yoga,” and can it honor the real practice of yoga? Formats vary, but practices typically last 30 minutes, rather than a full hour or more, to honor the pets’ shorter attention span. Asanas done are standard hatha yoga poses, adapted to include the pets. This may mean a standing forward bend holding the dog’s hind legs, as he performs a wheelbarrow pose. Standard yoga mats are used, but no other props, perhaps to avoid tempting the canine participants. Doga classes start with setting an intention and can end with savasana, modified to rest the human’s head on her canine partner. Some studios even provide bubbling water “fountains” for the dogs to drink from after a practice.

Teitelman claims that after four years of practicing with her, her dog is more flexible, calmer and can go into poses more deeply. Others claim that their pets become more focused and that older dogs’ joints benefit from the practice. Animal therapist Dan Thomas at London’s Pet Pavilion company claimed that “after a few minutes, even the most unruly of participants appeared to chill out, relax and become calmer,” and he also noted that the dog’s breathing seemed to be in synch with the human yoga practitioners.

Whether or not pet yoga can provide all the benefits of standard yoga, there is no doubt that pet owners want to incorporate their companions in every aspect of their lives. According to the 2011-2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet. That means 72.9 millions homes have a pet, and the spending on these furry friends tops $50 billion annually. At least 16.5 million Americans practice yoga, according to statistics available from NAMASTA, the North American Studio Alliance, giving these two industries much overlap. Should you choose to incorporate a pet yoga practice at your studio, training videos are available online.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.

http://www.aurawellnesscenter.com/store/

FREE Yoga Report. FREE Yoga Newsletter. FREE Yoga Videos. Free Podcasts. Bonus: Free Yoga e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”

FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hypertension and Yoga


By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

To function properly, the human body must maintain sufficient blood pressure, to allow blood to be pushed to all extremities and flow throughout the body. However, when the blood pressure is very high, it is known as hypertension. The heart must work hard, and strain, to pump the blood volume. Hypertensive patients are at high risk for organ damage, including damage to the retina, brain, heart, and kidneys.

Yoga is shown to lower blood pressure, and those who regularly practice a Yogic lifestyle, usually enjoy lower rates of hypertension than the general population. Practicing Yoga, to control hypertension, has been proven effective – without the side effects experienced with medication. However, proper instruction with a competent Yoga teacher and a medical professional are strongly advised.

Note: Anyone with hypertension should discuss their treatment with a physician, including any Yoga practice they intend to pursue.

B. K. S. Iyengar, one of the world’s foremost experts on Yoga and a teacher for 75 years, offers a number of suggestions regarding the practice of Yoga to reduce hypertension. B. K. S. Iyengar’s book, “Light on Yoga,” details the asanas, which regulate the blood pressure. Forward bends, supine positions, sitting positions, and inversions all help blood pressure, with forward bends being the fundamental asanas recommended.

Note: The above mentioned inversions are recommended for the purpose of “regulating” blood pressure – but may not be advised for those individuals who have high blood pressure.

B. K. S. Iyengar recommends the following Yoga poses (asanas), in particular, for the management of high blood pressure: Savasana (resting pose), Virasana (hero pose), Uttanasana (standing forward bend), Janu Sirsasana (head to knee pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), and Baddha Konasana (cobbler or bound ankle pose).

These poses relieve stress and relax the sympathetic nervous system, allowing blood pressure to drop. There are also several asanas that should be avoided by people with high blood pressure. Vrksasana (tree pose) should be practiced, without the arms raised overhead.

Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose) should be modified, by turning the head to gaze downward, leaving the hand at the waist instead of raising it upward. Virabhadrasana 2 and 3 (warrior two and three), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (full arm balance) and Sirsasana (headstand) should not be practiced at all by those with hypertension.

The definitive study on Yoga and high blood pressure is considered to be Chandra Patel and W.R.S. North’s research – published in the journal, “The Lancet” in 1975 – in which 34 hypertensive patients participated. They were assigned to either to Yoga relaxation methods with bio-feedback, or given a placebo therapy (general relaxation) for six weeks.

As a fully randomized study, the results were highly significant, with blood pressure in the Yoga group falling from 168/100 to 141/84 mm. (Normal blood pressure is generally considered to be 120/80 mm.) There is every reason, for those with hypertension, to explore Yoga as a complementary treatment.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.

http://www.aurawellnesscenter.com/store/

FREE Yoga Report. FREE Yoga Newsletter. FREE Yoga Videos. Free Podcasts. Bonus: Free Yoga e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”

FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Improve Your Eyesight with Yoga


By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Over time, Yoga has proven remarkably beneficial for nearly every part of the body. However, the question lingers: “Can Yoga be used to actually improve eyesight?” Though solid research is lacking, there are at least three types of Yoga, which appear, at least circumstantially, to do just that.

Bates Method

Dr. William Bates, who died in 1931, was an American physician and ophthalmologist, who developed what is now called, the Bates Method for better eyesight. The method improves vision by relearning a supposed habitual strain to see. His theory, which proposes that the eye focuses, by elongating the eyeball, rather than by changing the power of the lens, was not upheld by his peers and remains unproven today.

Nonetheless, the founder and director of the Center and School for Self-Healing, in San Francisco, Meir Schneider, avows that the practice of consciously relaxing the eyes in a Yogic method, in accordance with the Bates Method, allowed him to see again after being pronounced blind at age 6. Schneider teaches Yoga for eyes, involving palming, massage, blinking, and shifting the eyes, and a number of happy students credit him with the return of vision they thought was gone forever.

Dahn Yoga

Dahn Yoga, from Korea, also offers exercises to strengthen the eyes and potentially improve eyesight. According to Dahn practitioners, the eyes are connected to the liver meridian, and exercises that stimulate the liver, help eyesight. According to the U.S. Dahn Yoga website, meridians, or energy pathways, for all organs flow through the abdominal area. By stimulating the abdomen, the energy center will develop. To stimulate and provide warmth in the dahn-jon (energy concentration in the abdomen), the practitioner should rub, press, and tap, the area around the ribs, on both sides. The liver, spleen, and gall bladder meridians are all focused in the area, and eyesight should improve.

Trataka or Drishti

Trataka, or the “uninterrupted gaze,” is a method that is said to cleanse the eyes and their passages. The technique is usually taught with a candle flame, but students may also use any item with a positive connotation. The center of the candle is the focus for the gaze, and complete awareness of the flickering nature of the candle is held.

The gaze is kept steady, and the eyelids are kept open, for as long as possible, without blinking. The practice stimulates the tear glands and tears appear after about 10 minutes, having a cleansing effect on the eyes. Eye rotations, and rapid eye movements, done without moving the head, can also be practiced, focusing on moving objects, such as one’s thumb. Trataka relaxes the mind; and as mental stress, headaches, and eyestrain are combined, the overall effect is improvement of vision.

© Copyright 2011 – Paul Jerard / Aura Wellness Center - Publications Division

To see our complete selection of Yoga teacher training courses, please feel free to visit the following link.


FREE Yoga Report. FREE Yoga Newsletter. FREE Yoga Videos. Free Podcasts. Bonus: Free Yoga e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”

FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste, Paul

Friday, April 29, 2011

Meditation at Aura Wellness Center

Yoga Meditation to Awaken the Mind

By Kimaya Singh

There are many Yoga meditation techniques I learned ay Aura Wellness Center to help the mind focus and concentrate. However, the classic Yogic meditation technique to awaken the mind is based on the gift of Shaktipat, or divine awakening. A truly awakened and enlivened mind is permeated with divine awareness and light. This gift of awakening is usually bestowed on a Yoga student by an enlightened meditation master.

According to ancient Vedic wisdom from the Indian scriptures, there is a serpent coiled three and a half times at the base of our spines. She is located at approximately the fourth vertebrae. This serpent is known as the divine Kundalini Shakti. She is said to only awaken when a devotee comes into contact with an enlightened master.

This contact can occur in a variety of ways, through a touch, glance, picture, book or hearing the voice of the master. Some people even receive Shakipat through an interaction with an enlightened master in a dream. Once the Kundalini Shakti is awakened, she begins to ascend upwards along the spine and through the chakras, until she ultimately pierces the crown chakra. When she pierces the crown chakra, the mind is truly awakened.

Once the Shakti is awakened, there are a number of classical Yoga meditation techniques that will nourish her journey through the chakras. With this continuing unfolding, various mental powers will also be awakened. These powers can range from clairvoyance to clairaudience and even a heightened sense of smell. A very highly-evolved meditation master will even be able to mentally penetrate the interior reality of a common object and find the essence of the universe within the object itself.

Repeating a mantra, especially an enlivened mantra given to you by a meditation master, will strengthen the Kundalini Shakti energy within your own begin. It is important to establish a regular, daily meditation practice to truly nourish your awakened mind. A classic mantra that is often given to a devotee is the So Ham mantra. This mantra means simply, I am. You can repeat this mantra internally or externally with each breath. As you breath in, repeat So Ham or I am. As you breath out, repeat So Ham or I am. Continue this meditation practice for some period of time.

As the Kundalini Shakti grows stronger and stronger, your mind will become quieter, more able to focus and truly awake. Remember to not get caught up in any mental powers or siddhis that you may develop. The goal of Shaktipat is to ultimately rest in the divinity in your own heart. Many thanks to Paulji and the members of Aura Wellness Center in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.


http://www.aurawellnesscenter.com/store/


FREE Yoga Report. FREE Yoga Newsletter. FREE Yoga Videos. Free Podcasts. Bonus: Free Yoga e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”


FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!