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You can get audio or video tapes that give breathing instruction and teach relaxation techniques at health food stores, bookstores, and by mail order. It's probably fine to learn breath and relaxation from a tape or booklet, but don't try the yoga exercises without a skilled teacher. He or she can make corrections, caution you when necessary, and help you to adapt poses, if you need to.



It will be worth it to you to spend a little time finding an instructor who is right for you. Your diabetes nurse educator or other health care professional may be able to recommend a yoga instructor. Get referrals for a yoga instructor as you would for any professional you might wish to consult.



Yoga instructors aren't required to be certified, but many are, through many different programs. Ask prospective teachers if they are certified. A certified teacher isn't necessarily better than someone who isn't certified, but it's something to consider.



Yoga is fun, healthy, and calming. It's a wise way handed down over several thousands of years. There is little danger in yoga, and even a little progress brings with it freedom and peace of mind.



Although most people with diabetes can exercise safely, exercise involves some risks. To shift the benefit-to-risk ratio in your favor, take these precautions:



Have a medical exam before you begin your exercise program, including an exercise test with EKG monitoring, especially if you have cardiovascular disease, you are over 35, you have high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels, you smoke, or you have a family history of heart disease.



Discuss with your doctor any unusual symptoms that you experience during or after exercise such as discomfort in your chest, neck, jaw, or arms; nausea, dizziness, fainting, or excessive shortness of breath; or short-term changes in vision.



If you have diabetes-related complications, check with your healthcare team about special precautions. Consider exercising in a medically supervised program, at least initially, if you have peripheral vascular disease, retinopathy, autonomic neuropathy, or kidney problems.



Learn how to prevent and treat low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia). If you take oral agents or insulin, monitor your blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise.



If you have type I, and your blood glucose is above 250 milligrams per deciliter, check your urine for ketones. Don't exercise if ketones are present, because exercise will increase your risk of ketoacidosis and coma.



Always warm up and cool down.



Don't exercise outdoors when the weather is too hot and humid, or too cold.

History of Yoga




Yoga began in India 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit language and means, to join or integrate, or simply union. Yoga started, as far as we know, as part of India's philosophical system, but not everyone practiced yoga, and it has never been a religion.



About 5 million people in the United States do some yoga. Dance and stretching exercise classes usually have parts and pieces that come directly from yoga. If you ever go to a physical therapist, he or she may give you therapeutic exercises that are yoga postures.



There are several types of yoga. The yoga you may have seen on TV or taught at your local Y or an adult education class is called hatha yoga, or physical yoga. Sometimes it's known as the yoga for health. You may also find yoga being taught in a hospital or medical setting. Many health professionals today feel yoga can be part of a treatment plan.



Hatha yoga has three parts: a series of exercises or movements called asana (poses or postures in English), breathing techniques of all kinds, and relaxation.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)




For controlling your hypertension, there are two effective yoga exercises that helps lower the blood pressure:



Inverted Yoga



Inverted yoga reverses the action of gravity on the body. The most profound changes brought about by Inverted Yoga is in circulation. In inverted poses, legs and abdomen are placed higher than the heart.



Lengthening up through the legs and keep them very active so your spine opens and the entire body actively involved in the pose.



One of the reasons for this is simply because the force of gravity is reversed and venous return becomes significantly greater.



Normally, the muscles of the calf and other skeletal muscles in the lower extremities must contract in order to pump unoxygenated blood and waste back to the heart through the veins.



In inverted poses, gravity causes the blood to flow easily back through the veins and this brings the blood pressure in the feet to a minimum. This in effect gives skeletal muscles a chance to rest.



In Inverted poses, drainage of blood and waste from the lower body back to the heart is increased and disorders such as varicose veins and swollen ankles are relieved.



Rhythmic Breathing



It's time to learn about breathing, because inhaling and exhaling has the power to nourish the body and calm the mind.



Not just any old breathing will do. If you're like most people, you take shallow breaths, pull in your stomach when you inhale and never empty your lungs of carbon dioxide when you exhale.



Here's the physiological explanation: Long, slow breaths are more efficient than short, fast ones.



To take in a good breath, your lungs must first be basically empty. Thus the key to efficient breathing lies in exhaling completely. A full exhalation begins with the upper chest, proceeds to the middle chest and finishes with tightening the abdominal muscles.



Only after a good exhalation can you draw in a good lungful of the oxygen-rich air your blood needs for nourishing cells.

Hatha Yoga




Hatha yoga is an ancient hindu system of working with the human nervous system. Because it releases tension and endows one with renewed energy, far too many 20th century people, yoga teachers included, have come to look upon the venerable Indian physical science as solely an exercise for health and vitality of mind and body. It is that, but it is also much more. Hatha yoga practices are more spiritual than physical, more subtle than gross, more a means of understanding than an exotic way to relieve stress or limber up the body.



The sages who developed hatha yoga designed it as a way to gain conscious control of our life energies, a way to go within, to harmonize the external so the innermost Self could be encountered. To them, it was about states of consciousness, about living a divine life, and it was a preparation for meditation.



As you perform the asanas, concentrate on feeling the energies within the nerve currents. Sensitize yourself to knowing when the body has been in each position long enough to tune the nerve currents involved. Then shift smoothly into the next asana. It's like a dance, a deliberate, fluid dance. During all postures, inhale using the diaphragm, not the chest muscles. Do not stretch unduly or force the body. Relax into the poses. Don't worry if you can't perform them all perfectly. In time, you will find the body becoming more flexible and supple. Free the mind of thoughts and tensions. You will be more aware, more alive, more serene.



While there are many more complex hatha yoga routines, these twenty-four asanas provide a balanced system for daily use. For the simple purpose of quieting the mind in preparation for meditation, this is all you will ever need. For best results, hatha yoga should be taught personally by a qualified teacher. These instructions and drawings are meant only as a rudimentary aid. For more elaborate regimens, inquire at a recognized school specializing in hatha yoga.



The scene of hatha yoga has a spiritual purpose - to balance physical and physic energies in preparation for meditation. It is not only meant to make us young, beautiful or creative, but to aid us in quieting the mind, body and emotions that we may awaken enlightened consciousness & know the Self within.

Got a Few Minutes




Ina Mirx is 68, looks 35, and can do things with her body that a 16-year-old farm hand can't do, but she wasn't always fit-as-a-fiddle.



At the age of 30, while pregnant, she was forced to jump from the third story of a burning hotel. She landed on concrete, fractured her spine and pelvis, broke several ribs -- and lost her child.



Over the next 10 years Marx tried nearly every kind of regimen to rescue herself from this state. Nothing worked, and she eventually reached such desperation that she attempted suicide, twice. Then she discovered yoga -- her salvation.



With new confidence and a new lease on life, she began teaching yoga and has also written two books, ''Yoga and Common Sense'' and ''Fitness for the Unfit.''



With her special yoga program, she combines the physical aspects of Hatha Yoga with Raja Yoga, the meditative side.



Her method is specially designed to reach out to all those who have been left in the dust of the high-energy, high-impact state of modern fitness programs, and those who need to relax and unwind in a short amount of time to relieve a lot of stress quickly.



What's more, the best thing about Marx's form of yoga is that a few stretches a day, for a few minutes a day -- at home or in the office -- can lead couch potatoes and grouches to a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.



Ina Mirx is 68, looks 35, and can do things with her body that a 16-year-old farm hand can't do, but she wasn't always fit-as-a-fiddle.



At the age of 30, while pregnant, she was forced to jump from the third story of a burning hotel. She landed on concrete, fractured her spine and pelvis, broke several ribs -- and lost her child.



Over the next 10 years Marx tried nearly every kind of regimen to rescue herself from this state. Nothing worked, and she eventually reached such desperation that she attempted suicide, twice. Then she discovered yoga -- her salvation.



With new confidence and a new lease on life, she began teaching yoga and has also written two books, ''Yoga and Common Sense'' and ''Fitness for the Unfit.''



With her special yoga program, she combines the physical aspects of Hatha Yoga with Raja Yoga, the meditative side.



Her method is specially designed to reach out to all those who have been left in the dust of the high-energy, high-impact state of modern fitness programs, and those who need to relax and unwind in a short amount of time to relieve a lot of stress quickly.



What's more, the best thing about Marx's form of yoga is that a few stretches a day, for a few minutes a day -- at home or in the office -- can lead couch potatoes and grouches to a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Go Straight to Video for Yoga Training




The various postures of yoga have long been used as a basis for the stretching moves that are prescribed for athletes or used in other forms of exercise. It's no surprise, then, that a flood of yoga tapes is hitting the market.



There are tapes for Olympic-level athletes and tapes for rank beginners. There are tapes that will challenge your strength and endurance, and tapes that will lull you into blissful relaxation.



Here's a look at four yoga tapes, from the most difficult to the most basic. The only thing you need to get started is comfortable clothes and a non-skid surface like a sticky mat.



Embracing Power Yoga

This tape, led by Los Angeles instructor-to-the-stars Mark Blanchard, is the yoga version of boot camp. It's 85 challenging minutes of constant movement designed to build strength and endurance, with Blanchard leading a class of 13 men and women.



The tape is billed as appropriate for all levels, and there's a 5-minute segment at the beginning that offers a quick summary of how to do many of the basic yoga poses in the tape.



But that's not enough for novices, and the rest of the tape is far too strenuous for those who aren't extremely fit. You can tell that Blanchard isn't very interested in newcomers to yoga because he ignores the poor, fumbling fellow in the back row who has little flexibility.



Despite these deficiencies, this tape is wonderfully challenging and effective workout, judging by the sweat that pours off the members of the class. But unless you're already in good shape -- and by the standards of this tape, that means you can do push-ups, balance easily on one leg and have abs of steel -- you'll be better off with an easier tape.



Yoga Zone: Power Yoga for Strength and Endurance

This routine provides a great introduction to the strength-building postures of power yoga. It's taught by Lisa Bennett, who leads two exercisers through the 55-minute class.



One exerciser is a beginner; the other is more advanced. Beginners will be heartened to see that Bennett devotes plenty of time to helping Gina, the beginner, find modified versions of the postures that allow her to complete every segment of the routine. And veterans can learn much from her work with Charles as she guides him into more challenging moves.



One of Bennett's major strengths is her ability to provide clear, detailed descriptions of proper form, from the angle of a bent knee to the direction of an extended arm.



Though there's hard work to be done in this routine, Bennett's comforting tone and understanding demeanor make it pleasurable.

For Some People, Learning Yoga on CD-ROM is a Stretch




As if to lend weight to my contention that your computer can, in theory, teach you anything, along comes a pair of CD-ROMs called Wellness Yoga and Shiatsu Relaxation.



Lithe young women demonstrate these ancient Eastern techniques while mellow-voiced narrators speak over somnambulant music, the better to relax you and make you all well.



Most of us are familiar at least with the concepts of yoga, its slow stretching exercises and its often almost unattainable physical positions. Wellness Yoga is a nicely designed program that packages 74 asanas, or positions, into several packages such as the Quick and Easy Course, the Beauty Course and the Health Course.



The program consists largely of what it calls procedure screens, in which each position is demonstrated in one window while described textually in another. A narrator reads that same text aloud. In addition to the usual tape-recorder buttons to pause, stop and restart the action, there is a graph that displays the approximate duration of each segment of the routine.



The practical difficulties of using this CD-ROM are fairly obvious. The manual, dragged kicking and screaming into English from its Japanese roots, advises the user to First practice forming the pose while watching the screen and try memorizing the whole procedure.'' This, unless you have a 24-inch monitor or keep your monitor on the floor, is likely to be difficult. Clearly the actual learning of the poses could be more readily done with a videotape.



On the other hand, you can hunt around in the CD-ROM, choose from the positions you want to learn, and collect them into personal groups. And maybe you've got a really big monitor, and a cordless, long-distance mouse.



This is a nice program, well-made and instructive. My only complaint is that it does not emphasize clearly enough that unless you are as slender as the model executing the poses, you are not going to be able to do many of them -- the Crow, the Heron and the Frog, for instance -- correctly. On the other hand, we can all do the Corpse.



Shiatsu Relaxation, which teaches a massage technique clearly related to acupuncture, is another kettle of fish.



The theory is that rubbing, kneading or poking specific points on the body, called acupressure points, will make other parts of the body feel better. I am not prepared to argue that premise, but the entire procedure seems shiatsu yourself is not clear, either; the program initially suggests you find some of your own more accessible pressure points, but they are not all available to your own hands and all the demonstrations show one person ministering to another.

Exercises




Yoga exercises strengthen your body and make it more flexible. Yoga also calms your mind and gives you energy. In active sports or strenuous exercises, you use up energy. In yoga classes, students report that they feel tranquil after a class, yet have more energy. Slow and steady motion is the key to going into or coming out of the postures. You hold a yoga pose for several seconds or even minutes and give attention to full, quiet breath. Your yoga instructor will always encourage you to relax as the exercises are being done.



You gently place your body into yoga postures. Done correctly, there's very little chance of injury or muscle stress. A particular asana is not repeated dozens of times, nor are you ever encouraged to push yourself too much.



A yoga session is designed for balance. You stretch to the right and then to the left. You bend back and then forward. You learn to recognize when one side is stronger or more flexible than the other. Thus harmony and balance are achieved with yoga practice.



People of all ages can practice yoga exercises. They are easily modified to meet your needs and physical condition. Don't be put off by the difficult looking postures you may see in a yoga book. A skilled teacher can adapt most asanas by using chairs, cushions, even a wall or other props. A yoga practice can be tailor-made just for you. If something is really impossible for you to do, just forget it. Never compete with yourself or others. Yoga is a stress-free but powerful way to exercise.



Yoga is good for increasing your flexibility and relieving stress, but it doesn't take the place of aerobic exercise. You should still do regular, aerobic exercise, which increases your cardiovascular fitness, helps you lose weight, and, for people with non-insulin-dependent (type II) diabetes at least, improves blood glucose control.

Equipment




Yoga is a challenging discipline for the beginning to the advanced person. The asanas, or postures are slow and steady and are not meant to be painful, but this does not mean that they are not challenging. Never extend yourself too much to cause discomfort. With practice, you should see yourself relaxing into the stretches with ease.



Nevertheless, for beginners there are a few tips when practicing yoga. Release all thoughts, good or bad before you begin. Turn off your phone and don’t answer the door, you need peace and quiet. Make sure you take a warm, relaxing shower and that you wear comfortable clothes that will allow you to stretch easily. You can use aromatherapy that will relax and help to clear you thoughts. You will want to purchase a yoga mat so you can rest on the pad and not slip and slide on the floor. Make sure your shoes and socks are off and that your hair is either comfortable pulled back or no, whatever feels better. Turn the lights low (or you can do it in the sunlight), whatever suits you. You may want to turn some relaxing music of nature, perhaps the beach. Belts or ropes are used to grab your legs and pull them into a better stretch, which should feel delicious. Blocks are used to prop yourself up and sit better or for standing postures.



Without the prop support, you may not be able to attain some postures. Just remember that although the postures are important, performing them absolutely perfectly is not the goal. Yoga is not just an exercise; it includes the mind and intelligence and the reflection in action. These tools make it easier for you as a beginner in yoga, but you will find that eventually you will not need them. Some people prefer taking a yoga class so they are guided properly. There is nothing wrong with this, but keep in mind that only you can take your mind and spirit as far as it was meant to go, alone.

Dynamic Yoga – Exercise 3 & 4




POSE OF THE MOON (Shashankasa)

Sit on your knees with palms on thighs. Close eyes and relax, but keep spine and head straight.



Inhale deeply and lift arms above head, keeping them straight and shoulder-width apart. As you breathe out, bend forward from the hips, keeping arms and head in a straight line. Hands and forehead should eventually rest on the floor in front of your knees. Bend your elbows, so that arms are fully relaxed and hold for five seconds.



Then breathe in and slowly raise arms and body back to the upright position.



Exhale and return your palms to the top of your thighs. Repeat 3-5 times.



MOUNTAIN POSE (Parvatasana)

Strengthens nerves and muscles in the arms and legs, and stimulates the circulation in the upper spine.



Kneel on raised heels and stretch your arms forward so your forehead is on the floor. Breathe deeply and relax for a few seconds. Raise yourself on to your hands and knees, keeping your toes tucked under and your back flat.



Inhale and push up onto your toes. Raise your buttocks and lower your head between your arms. Your back and legs should form two sides of a triangle.



Exhale, rest your feet on the floor and try to touch the floor with the top of your head. Hold the position for 10 seconds.

Dynamic Yoga – Exercise 1 & 2




SWAYING PALM TREE POSE (Tiryaka Tadasana)

Streamlines the waist and develops balance. Stand with feet 8 inch apart and fix eyes on a point directly in front of you. Interlock fingers and turn palms outward. Inhale deeply as you raise arms over your head. As you breathe out, bend from your waist to your left side, taking care not to reach forwards or backwards. Hold for a few seconds, then inhale deeply and slowly return to the upright position.



Repeat 5 times to each side.



CAT-STRETCH POSE (Marjari-asana)

Kneel and lean forward to place hands on floor below your shoulders, fingers facing forward, hands in line with knees. Arms and thighs should be at right angles to the floor; knees may be slightly separated.



Inhale deeply, raise head and drop spine so your back is concave. Fill your lungs and hold for three seconds. As you exhale, lower your head and stretch your spine upwards. At the end of the breath, pull in your buttocks, contract stomach muscles and place head between arms.

Diabetes




Diabetes in various forms affects up to 5percent of the world population with 12 million diabetics in Western Europe alone. Of the different ways in which diabetes presents, noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is probably the most commonly encountered genetic disease. NIDDM or Type II diabetes is multifactorial, depending also on environmental factors including obesity, sedentary lifestyles and nutritional imbalances.



Yoga has shown some beneficial results in curing diabetes. The yoga exercises that are prescribed for curing diabetes is different from hatha yoga exercise because it involves positions tailored to treat certain conditions, as well as meditation, relaxation and stretching exercises.



One of the studies conducted to cure diabetes was the one set up by the Yoga Biomedical Trust, founded in 1982 by biochemist Dr Robin Monro, and an Indian yoga research foundation which discovered that practicing yoga for 30 minutes a day for one month helped reduce blood glucose levels in some diabetics.



The yoga patients took part in one or two 90-minute sessions a week and were asked to practice at home. The classes included the specific yoga exercises of the spinal twist, the bow and abdominal breathing.



At the end of the 12 weeks blood sugar levels fell significantly in all patients in the group and were slightly raised in a control group which had not joined in the yoga sessions. Three yoga students managed to reduce their medication, including one man who had not changed his drug regime for 20 years.



It has been known for a long time that exercise is helpful for diabetics. Yoga therapy may help reduce stress levels which could play a part in maturity onset diabetes. But one drawback is that some patients would find it hard to keep up the regular sessions needed to sustain the benefit. All the patients said they would like to see these classes set up on a permanent basis but we don't have the money.



It is not necessarily the exercise component of the yoga therapy package which is most important, because there is not enough physical exercise to account for the changes, but stress reduction has a lot to do with it. Stress hormones increase sugar levels in the blood. People also benefit from the stabilization of their moods which yoga brings, an increased feeling of well-being and a feeling of being more in control, which may help with their diet control.

Cure through Yoga




Yoga in a popular position Yoga, one of the world's oldest forms of exercise, is experiencing a rebirth in our stressful modern world. You wouldn't think that a 3000-year-old exercise could increase its popularity. But yoga is now being prescribed even by some medical practitioners for a range of health ailments and illnesses, as a stress reliever and to complement other fitness programs.



Talk to anyone who practises yoga and they will quickly extoll an endless list of benefits. It seems beginners quickly become converts. They believe it is the key to good health and happiness in today's world _ a common goal for most people. But probably the greatest advertisement for yoga is the fact that it seems to have graduated from the weird and alternative ranks into a position of fairly wide community acceptance.



Housewives, businessmen, sportspeople, teenagers and the aged are all practising a variety of yoga positions, meditation and associated breathing exercises. For many, yoga becomes a way of life _ often giving a more spiritual side to people's lives, although not necessarily linked to religion. One school of belief maintains that chronic and accumulated stress is the reason for many of our modern illnesses.



Proponents of yoga argue that it has a multiplicity of techniques to counter that cause and, unlike drug therapy, attack the cause, not just the symptoms. It offers, they say, a holistic approach to health and fitness. Many professional athletes, looking for the edge have turned to yoga as a supplementary form of training. They have found that yoga aids their state of mental and physical relaxation between training sessions, and their crucial build-up to big meets, where a competition is usually won or lost in the mind.



Perhaps one of yoga's major attractions is that it combines physical and mental exercise. It is excellent for posture and flexibility, both key physical elements for most sports-people, and in some respects, there are strength benefits to be gained. Yoga teachers say that the approach of yoga therapy is one of the most effective ways of achieving the mental edge that athletes seek.



Marian Fenlon, one of Brisbane's leading yoga teachers of the past 20 years, is the author of two books on the subject and has had thousands of yoga pupils. Many of them have, in turn, become teachers. Believe it or not, she has even taught yoga to footballers. Many years ago, she took Brisbane Souths rugby league team for an eight-week course and, amazingly, it was well-received. She says there are eight components to yoga therapy - attitudes, disciplines, posture and flexibility, breathing, sensory awareness, concentration, contemplation and meditation. Yoga can play a substantial supporting role to modern medicine, and complement other fitness and exercise programs. While there is no great component of aerobic fitness in yoga therapy, it complements aerobic exercise because of breathing techniques that can be learned. So there are advantages for even the most demanding of aerobic sports - swimming, cycling and running. There are numerous documented cases of yoga relieving or curing serious illnesses - such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses like asthma and emphysema.

Cure for Modern Day Stresses




Yoga is a 3,000-year-old, Hindu discipline of mind and body that became known in Western society with the hippie generation of the Sixties and early Seventies. Its image as a mystic practice is disappearing as fast as the stressful aspects of the Eighties are appearing.



As an effective method of stress management, yoga is spreading into the business world, the helping professions, nursing and old age homes, and is used in the treatment of alcoholics, hyperactive children and youngsters with learning disabilities. Yoga centers are getting stiff competition from adult education classes of community colleges, boards of education and parks and recreation departments.



The meaning of yoga is union of the body, mind and spirit with truth. There are many kinds of yoga to study, and there can be endless years of practice for the willing student.



Hatha Yoga is among the most popular forms in the west. It emphasizes the practice of postures, which stretch and strengthen the body, help develop a sense of balance and flexibility, as well as body awareness and mental concentration. All forms of yoga incorporate the practice of proper breathing techniques for relaxation, to rest the mind from its constant chatter, to experience an internal calm, and to energize and purify the body.



As stress levels in society reach new heights, Raja Yoga, the yoga of meditation, is growing in popularity in Western society, while others, such as Krya Yoga, the yoga of cleansing, and Mantra Yoga, the yoga of chanting, not surprisingly, have little appeal for newcomers.



Stretching and toning, though beneficial, aren't the primary reasons people turn to yoga. Newcomers are hoping that yoga will provide them with a means for handling stress and diffusing tension. The difference between exercise and yoga is that yoga has a meditative quality.



A lot of people are exercising for the psychological benefits and trying many of the Eastern activities, like yoga and tai chi. Yoga seems to have a calming effect on people.



And the techniques work on children as well as adults. When your children are quarreling, ask them to stop what they're doing, raise their arms over their heads, lean forward and breathe deeply to help diffuse their anger. It definitely helps them to cool it.

Cure for Asthma




Yoga breathing exercises could help sufferers of mild asthma and may help reduce their use of low-dose drug inhalers in wheezing attacks.



Researchers from the Respiratory Medicine Unit, City University, Nottingham, call for more studies of ways of improving breathing control which they say have been largely ignored by Western medicine.



While yoga practitioners have long believed in the benefits of pranayama breathing exercises for asthmatics, this has been hard to study formally. But, using a Pink City lung - a device that imposes slow breathing on the user and can mimic pranayama breathing exercises - it was possible to measure the effects of controlled breathing in a hospital trial.



Two simulated pranayama exercises were tested: slow deep breathing and breathing out for twice as long as breathing in.



In asthma, the airways become restricted making breathing difficult. It is increasing in the UK, with more than three million children and adults affected, and are responsible for 2,000 deaths annually.



The doctors used standard clinical tests to measure the volume of air patients were able to blow out in a second and to test the irritability of their airways. After yoga, their airways were two times less irritable,



Though asthma patients should not stop their medication, they should experiment with breathing exercises.

The Seven Chakras




Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning spinning wheel. These are a system of seven energy centers located along the spine. Each chakra corresponds to an area of the body, a set of behavioral characteristics and stages of spiritual growth. Practicing yoga and focusing your energies during different postures can help you to align your chakras and get all the wheels spinning in the same direction and speed. Understanding how to fine tune and control your chakras through yoga and meditation can help bring balance and peace to your mind, body and spirit.



There are seven chakras, each associated with a different part of the body along the spine from the perineum to the crown of your head. Each chakra is associated with a particular body location, a color, a central emotional/behavioral issue, as well as many other personal aspects including identity, goals, rights, etc.



The seven chakras are: Muladhara- base of the spine; Svadhisthana- abdomen, genitals, lower back/hip; Manipura- solar plexus; Anahata- heart area; Visshudha- throat; Ajna- brow; Sahasrara- top of head, cerebral cortex.



Through the movements and postures of yoga, you can learn to focus your concentration and energy to and from the various chakras in your body. This can allow you to compensate for areas that may be out of synch with the rest of your body or not active at all. By balancing the energy among all seven of the chakras, balance can be achieved. This spiritual energy is known as Kundalini energy. In its dormant state, it can be visualized as a coiled up snake resting at the base of your spine, the Muladhara chakra. Since the chakras act as valves or pumps regulating the flow of energy through your system, controlled and purposeful movements such as yoga can be extremely beneficial in realigning your chakras in a way that can cause great benefits to you in your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Breathing and Relaxing




You don't need to fall into the stress mode of life. You can use breath to relax, rather than stress, your mind and body. Yoga helps you to relearn that natural state that your body and mind want to be in: relaxation.



Deep breathing is both calming and energizing. The energy you feel from a few minutes of careful breathe is not nervous or hyper, but that calm, steady energy we all need. Slow, steady, and quiet breathing gives a message to your nervous system: Be calm.



Whole books have been written on yoga breathing. Here is one 5-minute Breath Break. (Read through the instructions several times before you try the practice.)



1. Sit with your spine as straight as possible. Use a chair if necessary but don't slump into it. Feet flat on the floor with knees directly over the center of your feet. Use a book or cushion under your feet if they do not rest comfortably on the floor. Hands are on the tops of your legs.



2. Close your eyes gently and let them rest behind closed lids.



3. Think about your ribs, at the front, back, and at the sides of your body. Your lungs are behind those ribs.



4. Feel your lungs filling up, your ribs expanding out and up. Feel your lungs emptying, your ribs coming back down and in. Don't push the breath.



5. The first few times you do this, do it for 2 to 3 minutes, then do it for up to 5 to 10 minutes. At first, set aside a time at least once a day to do this. When you learn how good it makes you feel, you'll want to do it at other times as well.



Just as one stressful situation goes into your next challenge, relaxing for a few minutes every day gradually carries over into the rest of your daily life and activities.

Beginners’ Yoga Video Offers Good Instruction




Trying to find well-produced fitness videos that are truly suitable for beginners can be a daunting challenge.



Most tapes these days aim at intermediate exercisers, the ones who know a grapevine from a box step and a lateral raise from a biceps curl. These tapes may offer a few easier moves here and there, but the instruction clearly is geared to people who already know what to do.



The few tapes that are marketed for beginners often are unspeakably repetitive, as if flabby muscles always mean a flabby brain. And too often, they provide no way to add extra challenge or difficulty to the routine, as if beginning exercisers are going to remain beginners forever.



It's nice, then, to discover Yoga Zone: Flexibility and Tone, a beginners' tape that offers the depth of instruction and easy pace that true beginners need.



The instructor here is Alan Finger, a genial-looking middle-aged man who wears a polo shirt, rolled-up cotton pants and a chin-length bob. His physique is not the standard chiseled form of exercise videos; he looks as if he might carry a few extra pounds around the middle.



But he has a lovely voice (with a hint of a brogue) and a calm manner, two essentials for a yoga tape, where relaxation is key.



And he has a true gift for instruction, combining the nuts-and-bolts details of positioning with what it feels like to stretch and balance.



When he describes how the muscles of the feet ought to rotate through to the little toe, you'll know -- and be able to feel -- just what he's talking about.



But each move contains so many of these instructions that it can be a little overwhelming to try to master all of them at once.



If you have tried yoga before, you'll recognize some of them -- the down-on-all-fours stretch called the cat, the inverted V that forms the down dog, and the corpse, which requires little more than lying flat on one's back, completely relaxed.



In another nod to beginners, Finger also provides true modifications and tips for those who may not be as flexible as they'd like.



Finger shows how a folded blanket can be placed under the knees or for better support while performing seated postures. A folded towel also is used for several poses, although Finger doesn't announce that in advance.



The 50-minute session ends with stretching and relaxation, set to gentle New Age music that might lull you to sleep.

Basic Yoga Postures and their Variations




1. THE COBRA Do this in easy stages. Lie down, face prone, legs tightly together and stretched back, forehead on the floor. Put your hands, palm down, just under your shoulders. Inhale and raise your head, pressing your neck back, now use your hands to push your trunk up until you are bending in a beautiful arc from your lower spine to the back of your neck. You need go no further than this. However, if you are supple enough, you can now straighten your arms completely, bend the legs at the knees and drop your head back to touch your feet. Even if your head goes nowhere near your feet, drop it back as far as possible and hold the posture with deep breathing. Come out of the posture very slowly, returning to the face prone posture. Relax with your head to one side. Repeat.



2. THE BOW This is also an extreme version of the simple bow. It is surprising how many children can do it immediately. Take it, once again, in easy stages. Lie face prone on your mat. If you are very slim have a nice thick, padded mat for this one. Inhale and bend your knees up. Stretch back with your arms and catch hold of your ankles, keeping fingers and thumbs all together on the outside. Inhale and at the same time raise your head and chest, pulling at your ankles and lifting knees and thighs off the floor. Breathe normally, trying to kick up your legs higher and lifting your head up. You are now bent like a bow, balancing the weight of your body on your abdomen. You can stop right here but if you can still stretch further, then slide your hands down your legs, lift them higher, keep the knees together and pull back as much as you can. Hold for a few normal deep breaths, then relax back to the face-prone position, head to one side.



3. THE SHOOTING BOW In Sanskrit this is known as Akarna Dhanurasana and one leg is drawn up like a shooting bow. Sit with both legs stretched out in front and back straight. Reach forward with both hands and clasp your feet, catching the right foot with the left hand and the left foot with the right hand. Inhale, bend the left knee and pull the foot across the body, close to your chest, pointing the elbow up and twisting the body slightly to the right. The left hand stays firm and tight, holding the right foot. Hold posture with normal breathing, release slowly, and relax. Repeat on other side. In the beginning it is enough to hold the bent left leg with the right hand. When this is easy, stretch down and hold the left foot with the right hand. Continue to pull on the left foot, lifting it higher on each exhalation.

Basic Sitting Postures with Benefits




JANU SIRSASANA: Correct foot placement



Sit up straight with legs evenly extended in front. Bend the right leg at the knee and place the foot so that the heel is in the right groin and the front of the foot touches the left thigh. Turn the foot so that the bottom of the foot is facing upward and press the knee back to form an obtuse angle with the body. This position will be difficult at first; don't force it. Put a folded blanket under the knee and also under the hips. Gradually the knee will move farther back. Just keep the foot correctly positioned.



JANU SIRSASANA: Correct, perfect posture



Having positioned the foot and knee correctly, stretch the left leg out, keeping the leg firmly on the mat. Settle the heel firmly and stretch the toes up. (The heel should pull gently away from the ankle.) Now inhale and bend forward over the straight leg, catching the foot with both hands if possible. Beginners should bend only as far as they can without rounding the back. When this posture is done correctly and completely, the body will roll forward over the extended leg, absolutely flat from the tail bone to the head. Stay there breathing normally for as long as you can. Inhale, release the handhold, come up smoothly, straighten the bent leg and relax. Repeat on other side.



JANU SIRSASANA: Wrong posture



The heel is not positioned against its own thigh. The knee has not been pushed back as far as possible to form an obtuse angle. The back is humped and curved because the pelvis is jammed and unable to lift properly. Instead of a smooth, complete stretching of the spine, the lumbar is over-stretched and the rest of the spine constricted. The left leg is not flat on the floor.



TRIANG MUKHAIPADA PASCHIMOTTANASANA: Sitting, forward-bending pose over one leg



This posture generally follows the previous one. Sit with your legs stretched in front. Bend the right leg so that the right foot is near the right hip. The toes should point back. The right calf presses against the right thigh. The body will tilt in this position so put a small folded towel under the left buttock to keep the hips level and the forward stretch even and extended. Hold the left foot with both hands, inhale and bend forward, keeping both knees together as you stretch forward over the straight leg. Many students will find it difficult in this position to even take hold of the foot of the outstretched leg. Do not despair. Just hold the knee, shin or ankle, and sit, breathing deeply, in whichever position represents your best extension. If the back is tight and the spine inflexible, this will take time. Release the hold and straighten the bent leg. Repeat on the other side.

Astanga Vinyasa Yoga




Astanga, or sometimes spelled ashtanga Yoga is actually taught today by a man named Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, in Mysore, India. He has brought astanga yoga to the west about 25 years ago and still teaches today at 91 years of age. Astanga yoga began with the rediscovery of the ancient manuscript Yoga Korunta. It describes a unique system of Hatha yoga as practiced and created by the ancient sage Vamana Rishi. It is believed to be the original asana practiced intended by Patanjali.



The Yoga Korunta emphasizes vinyasa, or breath-synchronized movement, where one practices a posture with specific breathing patterns associated with it. This breathing technique is called ujayyi pranayama, or the victorious breath, and it is a process that produces intense internal heat and a profuse sweat that purifies and detoxifies the muscles and organs. This also releases beneficial hormones and nutrients, and is usually massaged back into the body. The breath ensures efficient circulation of blood. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body and a calm mind.



There is a proper sequence to follow when practicing Astanga yoga. One must graduate from one sequence of postures to move onto the next. The Primary Series (Yoga Chikitsa) detoxifies and aligns the body, purifying it so that toxins do not block. The Intermediate Series (Nadi Shodhana) purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing the energy channels, allowing energy to pass through easily. The Advanced Series A, B, C, and D (Sthira Bhaga) integrate the grace and stamina of the practice, which calls for intense flexibility.



It is best to find a trained and knowledgeable teacher to assist you through this discipline. It is an intense practice that is rigorous, six days a week. You are guaranteed to find inner peace and fulfillment with each breath you take.

Applications in Cancer Treatment




A cure for cancer exists through the use of yoga, a San Antonio, Texas, cancer specialist said during a seminar in Oklahoma City in the 1980s.



But physicians refused to acknowledge the cure, said Col. Hansa Raval, M.D., a pathologist with the United States Army. Dr. Raval said her work in cytotechnology _ a diagnostic branch of medicine designed to pinpoint early stages of cancer _ was fruitless until she began researching the use of non-conventional methods of treatment.



The specialist said she witnessed the use of Raja yoga and meditation cure crippling arthritis, headaches and even cancer.



And even though Raval offers proof, which she said was collected during two years of study at the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in India, she has been dismissed by other members of the medical profession as a kook.



Yoga's success as a treatment method is due to another hypothesis Raval proposes that 98 percent of all cancer is psychosomatic.



This is not chanting or mantra reciting, the physician said. It's not based on scriptures. It's not a cult. It's not biofeedback. It's deeper than that. This is a full-proof method of meditation, a detailed understanding of what the soul is.



Raval maintains that medical schools belittle the study of non-conventional methods of cancer treatment in favor of conventional methods such as radiation, chemotherapy, and treatment through machines.'



Medical schools teach students that the human being is only a body. But the mind has the power to cure the body. By definition, psychosomatic means a combination of mind, or soul and body.



The soul creates the disease, but the body suffers. If the psyche creates the disease, the only way to cure it is through the psyche. It's a very simple formula: treating the seed of the problem.



Further, studies in parapsychology all point to the treatment of illness through treatment of the soul.



The World Spiritual University, which has branches in 30 countries, teaches peace and perfection for health and happiness through the use of Raja yoga. The university gained status as a non-governmental member of the United Nations and has offices at the U.N. building in New York.



Raja yoga teaches students to search their soul world for answers on where they came from and why the cancer entered their body. They learn what role religion, stress, family and lifestyle played in the cancer.

An All-Around Yoga Exercise: 12-Step Salute to the Sun

Uno de los ejercicios de yoga versátil es el saludo al sol 12 pasos. Hacerlo una vez o dos veces cuando te levantas por la mañana para ayudar a aliviar la rigidez y vigorizar el cuerpo. Múltiples repeticiones en la noche le ayudará a relajarse; insomnes a menudo encuentran que seis a 12 rondas ayudan a dormirse.



1. Poneos de pie con los pies ligeramente separados, las palmas, pulgares contra su pecho.



2. inhale profundamente mientras va aumentando lentamente las manos sobre la cabeza y la curva atrás lo máximo posible, mientras aprieta las nalgas. Mantenga pulsado durante tres segundos.



3. lentamente exhala y dobla hacia adelante, manteniendo las rodillas rectas, hasta que sus dedos toquen el suelo fuera de sus pies. (Si no puedes tocar el suelo, ir tan cerca como puedas.) Trae tu cabeza hacia las rodillas.



4. lentamente inhalar, dobla tus rodillas y si los dedos no están fuera de sus pies en el suelo, colocarlos allí. Deslice el pie derecho atrás tanto como puede ir, con la rodilla derecha una pulgada o tan fuera de la planta, (una posición de estocada). Mire para arriba lo más alto posible, arqueando la espalda.



5. antes de exhalar, deslice que el pie izquierdo atrás hasta al lado de la derecha, y con su peso apoyado en las palmas y los dedos del pie, enderezar las dos piernas para que su cuerpo forma un plano. Asegúrese de que su estómago se tira en.



6. lentamente exhala, doblar ambas rodillas en el suelo, doblar con las caderas en el aire, bajar el pecho y la frente al suelo.



7. ahora inhala lentamente y mire para arriba, doblando la cabeza hacia atrás, luego aumentarlo, seguida de la parte superior del tórax, luego baje el pecho. La parte inferior del cuerpo - desde el ombligo hacia abajo - debe estar en el piso y los codos deben estar ligeramente flexionados. Sostenga durante tres a cinco segundos.



8. exhale lentamente y elevar las caderas hasta los pies y las palmas son planas en el piso y los brazos y las piernas son rectas en una posición de V invertida.



9. inhalar lentamente y traer tu pie derecho hacia adelante como en la posición 4. Los pies deben estar planos sobre el piso entre los dedos. La pierna izquierda debe ser casi recta detrás de usted, con su rodilla ligeramente fuera de la planta. Levanta la cabeza, mira para arriba y arquee la espalda.



10. lentamente exhala y traer tu pie izquierdo hacia adelante junto a tu derecha. Enderezar las piernas y el soporte, tratando de mantener los dedos en el suelo y trata de tocar la cabeza de rodillas como en la posición 3.



11. lentamente inhala, levanta los brazos y estirar atrás en posición 2. No se olvide de apretar las nalgas. Mantenga pulsado durante tres segundos.



12. lentamente exhala, bajando los brazos a los lados. Relájate. Repetir la serie.