Friday, February 22, 2013

Yoga for Breaking Bad Habits

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By Gopi Rao

Yoga training isn't very invasive for a therapy that can cause so many positive changes. The problem is all of us face temptations. Yoga instructors are just as human as everyone else, when it comes to temptation, and giving into temptation can become a habit. There is no big secret learned about dealing with daily temptation that is taught at a 200 hour yoga teachers training. Practicing good habits and avoiding bad choices is the result of a trained mind.

Bad habits stem from making impulsive choices that aren’t good for us. We know that certain things have harmful effects, but we are powerless to prevent ourselves from doing these things. In order to truly break bad habits, we must think about them in ways that we aren't always comfortable with.

Habits both good and bad emerge from training. At most times, this training happens in the background without any specific demands placed upon us. The human mind and body are clever enough to help us form these habits without any overt thinking required.

At other times, it is necessary for the mind to convince the body of what it can do. A basic example of this is riding a bicycle. Some part of the mind knows well in advance of the body that it is capable of mastering this task. The mind provides the determination and the body soon follows suit.

Breaking bad habits is much the same. We stick to our bad habits out of inertia. At times, bad habits can be so corrupting that the mind itself begins to believe that it cannot change. It is during these times that bad habits begin to change from choices into seemingly insurmountable aspects of our personalities. Without the ability to practice objective self-assessment, there is virtually no hope of overcoming such a habit.

Fortunately, the human mind is very flexible. No matter how far it persists in one belief or another, it can be guided back through direct work. The key to success in this kind of behavioral modifying endeavor comes from knowing how the mind forms bad habits in the first place. Yogic tradition has been used to break bad habits for centuries.

At its core the yoga is a collection of good habits. It is unnecessary to ascribe any sense of morality to these habits. It’s simple enough to know that every asana, every breathing method and every type of meditation in yoga is good for the mind and body.

When you practice yoga by standing, kneeling, sitting or lying down, you are forming habits with your mind and body. Regulating your breathing is a habit. Holding the body in asanas is also habit forming.

As yogic meditation shapes your mind it also increases your mental discipline. By doing this it increases your self-control. Increased self-control naturally leads to being able to defend against bad habits more effectively.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yoga Precautions for Pregnant Students

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By Kimaya Singh

Pregnant yoga students should be in specialized classes with teachers who have previously completed prenatal yoga teacher training courses. This is the reason why some yoga schools have a policy for classes to begin with a health warning in regards to pregnancy. Every person has the right to refuse a teacher who might be risking their health. Likewise, every teacher has a right to refuse a student who would jeopardize his or her health.

Yoga is a great activity that allows pregnant women to remain calm, stay active, and be limber. Women with healthy pregnancies can likely practice asana, pranayama, and meditation all the way up to their due date. Some pregnant women find pranayama makes life a bit more comfortable during labor. However, all pregnant students should first check with their physician to get their approval to do yoga training for safety reasons. There are some other precautions yoga instructors should be aware of when teaching classes to pregnant women.

During the first trimester, a mother’s body is going through major changes. Her hormones are shifting to allow room for the growing fetus. She may have some nausea and tenderness around her breasts. Most of these changes are unnoticeable to others. Most pregnant women can engage in their normal activities as they did prior to pregnancy. A pregnant woman should drink a lot of water while practicing yoga in her first trimester and pay special attention to her body for any signs of discomfort. Pregnant women should not push themselves too hard and should not engage in jumping.

During the second trimester, the pregnant mom is pretty well adjusted to being pregnant. The belly is protruding, and there are more precautions they must take during yoga training sessions during this semester. The student’s joints are becoming more lubricated as they prepare for birth. This can be a concern when performing asana because she may put herself at risk of injury by reaching too far during a stretch. Pregnant women must proceed with their poses slowly and with caution. Movements should all be slow, and they should never lie flat on their back to make sure they have good blood flow going to the uterus.

The last trimester and weeks of pregnancy are more uncomfortable for women as their belly continues to stretch and grow. A pregnant woman’s balance is off a bit during this last trimester so she should be careful to go into her balance poses carefully and use the help of a chair or wall for stability. Any kind of prop is useful for helping a pregnant student maintain her balance during this trimester. During this time, pregnant women should keep moving during their asana routine and not stay in one specific pose for a long time. Women need to avoid lying flat on their back during this semester as well.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Yoga for Couch Potatoes

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By Clyde Granger

It is human nature to want changes in some areas of the body more than others, and you are confined to a couch because of a health condition and are in more difficult position to do the usual set of postures taught in yoga classes. The yoga workout for couch potatoes is specifically designed for total body balance, which is the key to getting shape when you are idle on the couch.

The best way to do yoga exercises of this kind is with a simple posture where you place a mirror in front you, sit and take a good, hard look at your body. What parts of your body needs to be reduced? What needs to be worked on? A self-assessment of your body will help you realize the perfect postures needed to correct them. These yoga postures are all simple enough to do sitting on a couch, with no other equipments but your body. Simply sit on an armless chair or a couch, with your back erect and shoulders back, knees bent at 90 degree and hands either on your knees or joined together. 

You should be able to see your toes without bending. Your mind should also be cleared off the clutters, as well as relaxed. With this position, you can now get engaged in core exercises, neck muscles, thighs and feet with your yoga training session for the day. You can do them all at home, or in your hotel room bed or a friend's when you are traveling. After these postures, eventually, you will be self-motivated enough to enjoy the yoga routine so much that you will be able to move to the next level.

Your routine with yoga couch exercise plan should take no longer than thirty minutes, no matter how many postures you decide to include. As you already know, here more time is spent doing mild postures that are counterproductive not only to the hands and legs but neck muscles and face. 

As for when you do your yogic exercises, the morning is optimal to charge your metabolism and clear your mind for the day. While you need to stick to the program and do all the exercises in each section, you can surely change the order of these postures. However, the most important thing is that you make time for these exercises. Yogic exercises for couch potatoes is not a comparison study to other workouts. It's a program for life. 

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