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Yoga for Modern City Life: Ancient Practice Fits Modern Life

Yoga for Modern City Life

When Trace Bonner launched Holy Cow in West Ashley's South Windermere Shopping Center last summer, she didn't know what to expect. Now she's teaching 16 classes a week and adding another instructor. And while she credits the center's success in part to its cute cow logo and convenient location, there's no question that there's a revived interest in yoga across America.

The ancient Indian practice of yoga first arrived in the US at the beginning of the 20th century, but didn't really catch on until 1969 with chants at Woodstock. Now, after being overshadowed by the aerobics craze in the '80s and early '90s, yoga is once again attracting followers, with many looking for relief from ailments and injuries or from the stress of daily life.

Baby boomers, worn out from years of jogging and bouncy workouts, are back on board. But interest is growing with other age groups, too, from college students to senior citizens to celebrities.

The surge in interest is being fueled partly by doctors' growing acceptance of yoga's healing potential. Mainstream medicine has adopted yoga as a gentle therapeutic method for treating a number of illnesses, so more and more doctors are referring their patients to yoga. Initial trials have shown yoga can help people with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma and cardiac risk factors.

Yoga for Computer Users: The Triangle


Stand with your back against the wall. Place your feet two or three feet apart. Keeping feet firmly on the floor, and weight balanced on heels and toes, stretch your body up, pressing shoulders back and allowing arms to hang at your sides .

Exhale and slowly bend from waist, sliding your right hand down the right side as far as it will go. Shoulders should press back and hips should remain level, pointing forward. Head should be turned to the side, so that it's at a right angle to the body. Hold posture for 10 slow counts, inhale and come up to starting position. Exhale and repeat on left. Inhale and come up to starting position.

Exhale and rest a moment. Inhale and slowly raise arms to shoulder level, palms down. At the same time, point the right foot to the right at a 90-degree angle while keeping the left foot turned in slightly. Exhale and bend to the right, sliding hand down to ankle or foot. If possible, touch the ground behind foot. Pull hip square against wall with left hand and turn head to look up.

Inhale and raise left arm straight up over head so that arms are in a straight line. Keep hips and torso against the wall as both arms stretch, one down and one up, touching the wall. Hold posture with smooth, even breathing for a slow count of 10. Inhale, come up and repeat on left.

Benefits: Trikonasana helps produce excellent spinal flexibility. It stretches the legs, back and neck and helps to loosen up the hips and make them strong and flexible. It is also, to some extent, a balance posture; in yoga, it is believed that the skill developed in physical balance has a profound effect on the mind, quieting unruly emotions and creating calm. It is one of the best postures for slimming the waist, hips, arms and legs. Remember to breathe deeply in when stretching up and breathe deeply out when bending the body downward.

Yoga for Computer Users: The Side-Angled Stretch

The Side-Angled Stretch

Stand straight against the wall and stretch the feet about three to four feet apart. Inhale and raise arms up to shoulder level, palms down. Point right foot to the right and slightly turn in left foot. Bend right knee to form a right angle, with thigh parallel to the floor and the shin vertical. The knee should be directly above the ankle. Stretch the back leg and tighten the knee.



Exhale and stretch right hand down to rest on floor behind right foot. Turn head to look up and press left hip flat against wall with left hand. A strong pull should be felt all along the left side. When you feel comfortable, stretch the left arm up and press it against your ear so that from left heel to left hand the body is stretched and extended. Hold this position for a slow count of 10, making sure that upper shoulder, hip and bent knee are pressed against the wall. Inhale and return to starting position. Exhale and repeat on left.



Benefits: This posture produces overall health. It tones every muscle, tendon and joint in the body. The heart is revitalized and strengthened, and, if crooked, the spine is stretched and realigned. The hip joints, which can weaken with age, become stronger and more flexible. The neck is stretched and made more flexible, easing the pain of stiff, tense muscles and spondylosis. Thighs, hips and waist are firmed. Even digestion is improved.



Remember to lie down and relax after your yoga practice. Relaxation after exercising helps the body to recover, regulates the flow of blood, and calms and soothes the mind. That way you don't feel tired but refreshed and invigorated.

Yoga for Computer Users: Supported Side Stretches


Many computer users around the world face the problem of back pain. Having your back against the wall usually means you're in trouble. But for certain yoga positions, having your back firmly against a wall will aid health.

In Hatha Yoga, the practitioner forms what Swami Gitananda calls body geometry--triangles, straight lines, circles and parallel lines. When you do a posture, always stretch your body to its utmost limit and then hold it there for a slow count of 10, gradually building up the time, until each posture can be maintained for 30 seconds. Holding a posture is essential to yoga because it gives the body a chance to settle into the stretch and loosen up. Then each time you stretch it will be just that little bit farther.

Many of the sideways, or lateral, stretches in Hatha Yoga require that the body face forward, with hips level and back and spine tilting neither forward nor back. Beginners tend to lean forward to increase the stretch. But leaning forward is wrong and will actually detract from benefits and possibly cause harm. To perform these stretches properly, make sure to keep your spine firmly against a wall. The wall acts as a prop. Even those who have practiced yoga may find that they cannot bend as far as they thought they could when they do the postures properly. The extra time spent in forming careful postures will pay off: Your body will gain excellent flexibility and strength.

Yoga for Computer Users: Releases Lower Back Pain

Releases Lower Back Pain

Twenty percent of all those who undergo surgery for lower back pain will get no relief. The remaining 80 percent will have problems ranging from mild to severe. All will have trouble with spinal flexion.

Yoga does not offer cures. It simply promises that if you faithfully practice these asanas every day, there will be no pain and you will build up a strong and supple spine, restructuring posture and body image. Once you have back problems you must remain conscious all through the day of how you stand, sit and lie down. Here are a few guidelines:

Always sleep on a firm (not necessarily hard) bed, with a flat pillow under your head and a thicker one under your knees. This will help the spine to reposition and adjust itself.

Do not wear high heels as this promotes lumbar lordosis and throws the spine out of balance.

Do not go in for break-dancing, strenuous aerobics, jogging, running or anything where you need to bounce or jiggle. Guarded activity is the key here.

For lower back pain, sitting is the most painful. Sit on a firm seat, not squashy cushions, and sit on your buttock bones. Do not loll back on the tailbone or lower spine. Wedge a rolled towel or small cushion behind your back to keep you upright. Sit as often as possible in The Diamond Posture  in order to benefit the sciatic nerve and to cure a convex or a lateral curvature of the spine.

When the pain is acute and you can neither sit nor stand in comfort, rest in bed, take whatever anti-inflammatory or analgesic medications your physician prescribes, and wait until the pain is milder before starting on these postures.

All these asanas have healing and curative properties. They will act as a form of mild traction, gently stretching the spinal muscles in safe extension postures. Strength will be gradually built up in the paraspinal muscles and buttocks, abdominal organs will be toned and strengthened, and pressure points all along the spine will be stimulated. Practice each asana to the point where mild pain is felt.

Yoga for Computer Users: Other Postures

Yoga for Computer Users

The Diamond Posture (Vajrasana)

Kneel on a thick carpet or blanket with your knees close together. Sit back on your heels and stretch up from your hips, balancing your head well so that a line drawn through ear, shoulder, elbow and hip would be straight. You should sit up in this posture for greatest benefits.

The Locust (Salabhasana)

Most yoga students are familiar with this posture. Lie flat, face down, chin on floor. Make your hands into fists and push them either under your thighs to help the lift, or place them alongside your body. Exhale and lift legs from your hips, tightening your buttocks and stretching your legs up and back. Hold position for as long as possible, exhale, return to starting posture and repeat.

he Dog Stretch (Adho mukha svanasana)

Lie face down, legs stretched back, buttocks tightened and knees pulled back. Place hands just below shoulders, exhale and lift head, then chest, shoulders and torso, pushing down from your pelvis and straightening your arms. From the back of your head to your tailbone, your body should be curved back. Push shoulders back and down. Push head back more. Stay like this as long as possible with normal breathing. Come down very slowly, and relax.

The Twist (Bhardwajasana)

Kneel on the floor and sit back, bringing both feet to the right of your hips. Straighten your right arm, bring it across your body and turn to the left. Place your hand, palm down under your left knee. Exhale, turn your body more to the left and clasp your right elbow with your left hand, from the back. Turn your head and gaze over your right shoulder. Fold position for a few breaths and then twist and look back over your left shoulder. Shoulders should be at right angles to the body. Come back to starting position and repeat on other side. You should do this posture once every hour if you have lower back pain.

Yoga for Business People: Workplace Implications

Yoga for Business People

Mind-body fitness, which derives from Eastern philosophies and religions, improves physical and emotional well-being, and has implications for workplace performance.

The overall benefits of mind-body exercise are documented in an increasing number of scientific studies. They include everything from reducing cardiac risk factors to enhancing mood.

'You're under stress, but you have to be in control all day, and after so many years, what happens is that leads to eating misbehaviors, stress hormone production and cardiac risk factors,. The good news is you can reverse these risk factors non-pharmacologically and develop some habits for a lifetime' that complement conventional diet and exercise.

The kinder, gentler movements typical of yoga improve flexibility, strength and muscle tone and can be more youth-promoting than the wear-and-tear of daily aerobics, weights and running alone.

Especially with the baby boomer generation getting older, they're realizing the need for flexibility, the need for good posture, and the desire for the things that are going to help them look and feel young.

Yoga for Business People: Mind-Body Connection

Yoga for Business People: Mind-Body Connection

A rising number of business people are finding the mind-body connection.

Yoga, meditation, and other Eastern-born exercises are finding a growing audience among harried business people craving inner calm. Classes are offered at health clubs, company fitness centers, corporate retreats and spas.

Ideas that once were left-of-center are finding greater acceptance with the public support. Mind-body executive fitness is a hot topic right now.

Lynn Doody, owner of Zen Fitness wellness programs in Chicago, notes that, whereas in the past most of her clients pursued traditional cardiovascular and weight-training exercise, most now incorporate mind-body applications into the regimen.

There's just a general awareness, and non-conventional health care is a little more available.

No need to convince Mark Frantz. The 40-year-old vice-president at Merrill Lynch & Co. had learned in 15 years of trading commodities to manage stress and anxiety. He ran a few times a week, worked out at the gym, and worked at reducing stress in other conventional ways.

But he still ground his teeth at night, massages were temporary Band-Aids, and even while running he'd tense his muscles. He wanted more. He sought ''a different quality of life.''

What he found was yoga and meditation. At home, on an airplane, or for 10 minutes behind closed doors at work, Mr. Frantz can shut out distractions with deep breathing, yoga poses, imagery and other relaxation techniques.

He still runs, but '(yoga and meditation) forces you to focus on what's going on in the moment and to be aware of what your body is telling you. It relaxes you, brings your heart rate and your blood pressure down.

Yoga for Business People: Lifetime Habit




Mr. La Forge (Yoga Trainer) suspects that because the mind-body exercises typically are easier to pursue, executives have a better chance of making a lifetime habit of them. To see if his hunch is correct, he launched a five-year study of 110 middle- and upper-level executives in companies in the US. He tracks their exercise habits and see if those incorporating mind-body techniques stick with the program longer.



Devotees say the mind-body exercise regimen has a payoff in the workplace, as well.



Barry Moltz, 36, founder and CEO of CHTech International., a mail-order distributor of computer hardware and software, started doing Yoga a year ago at the to balance the pressures of growing a business with starting a family. He still works out in a gym and commutes to work on his bicycle, but he also meditates in the half-lotus position for 15 or 20 minutes at night after his two young children have gone to sleep.



He says most of his friends, also in their mid-30s, have jumped on similar mind-body fitness tracks.



''I think the toughest part about running a company is that there are so many demands on your time. When I meditate, it really allows me to relax and focus all my energies in one place,'' he says. ''Now when I'm involved in a meeting, I can be immersed in that meeting instead of thinking about 15 other things. And people really respond when you're totally focused on just them.''



The pressures of the job say you shouldn't be satisfied where you are today. You can never feel like you've achieved anything because it's very elusive. Yoga and meditation allows you to be happier and more effective in what you're doing now.

Yoga for Business People: Enhance your Business Acumen




There are many of us who feel we are not as bright as we would like to be; or that we lack the will power a friend or a colleague seems to have. What is not known widely - or taken with skepticism even when known - is that mental power can be enhanced by Yoga and meditation.



Don't worry if your allopathic doctors dismiss this claim, or worse, laugh at it in contempt. Allopathic doctors tend to downplay such claims because allopathy has been brainwashed into a sort of negativism.



While the neuro-surgeon himself swears by the mantra which he recites every morning, believing it is instrumental in making divine energy flow through him, he feels that the beneficial effects of yoga on all professionals, particularly businessmen, have hardly been talked about.



Yoga or meditation is very beneficial to business executives because it makes decision-making much easier and quicker. It takes away vacillation and helps the brain to grasp the pros and cons quickly.



A surgeon needs to take a decision quickly on the operating table. Similarly, a businessman may not have more than five minutes to decide. Supposing he has a dollar 1 million business deal where a decision has to be made in five minutes, he needs a brain which is stimulated and in a trim state. In this state, decision-making becomes easy and anxiety level goes down.



In such a state not only is the brain able to think clearly, but the other systems of the body which suffer due to stress or tensions, are also spared.

Yoga for Business People: Do Not Get Distracted From your Goal




Suresh Nigam, chairman of MetJet, one of the leading trainers of computer hardware engineers in India, not only practices yoga but preaches it at his 35 centers.



So what is it and how does it work.



At the heart of it is something which translates as the stoppage of mind modification. For example when we hear music we get distracted. We must stay aware and conscious but not get distracted from our goal.



How then does yoga, an ancient, essentially private activity, help in the work environment.



Suresh believes that the collective is an entity just as much as an individual is. If individuals are happy, calm and alert then the collective consciousness is harmonious and dynamic and will produce better results. If people are tense and unhappy it will reflect in their productivity.



At MetJet all managers and employees are sent to the Yoga Institute at Santa Cruz (in Mumbai) which was founded in 1989. There people are shown a path, how to control your mind and not to run after sensual pleasures. You learn not to run away from your responsibilities.



The root cause of these afflictions is ignorance. That leads to a grandiose sense of self-importance and misunderstanding. We love and hate in extremes. By getting up and finding out what is happening, we reduce stress. Once you are aware of what is going on you have won half the battle.

Yoga and Sports: Tennis




Tennis requires cat-like reflexes with short bursts of strength. These short movements do not allow the muscles to extend their full length. When muscles are strenuously worked they become tight and can lose their elasticity unless properly stretched. Yoga exercises can increase the body's range of motion. The lack of movement because of inflexibility binds the joints. Without the elasticity of the muscles, I think an athlete can be a prisoner within his own body.



Using yoga techniques makes it possible to retrain the muscles. Most tennis athletes play in a constant state of muscle tension. Yoga trains the body to relax muscle tension. Learning to begin your game in a relaxed state could mean gaining an extra step on the ball.



When in a ready position muscles are contracted and ready for action. To move, muscles must be relaxed and then contracted again to spring in any direction. By retraining the muscles you begin from a relaxed position, giving a quickened reaction time.



Yoga breathing exercises can help improve endurance and stamina. When exerting in sports or exercise we often hold the breath as a way to create strength. Yoga trains the body to create strength through breathing control. Holding the breath at points of exertion takes a great deal of energy that could be used during long sets or matches.



Learning the correct way while doing a yoga pose is simple. Exhale during the execution of a pose until you feel the muscles' full length of stretch (maximum resistance). Never hold your breath. Breathe normally and listen to the body. Hold for 30 seconds, then release the pose slowly. By constant practice of yoga poses you'll soon apply breathing techniques in everyday routines.



A simple spine twist is excellent for rotational sports. It can help increase needed flexibility of the shoulders and back and hips. Remember to apply the breathing technique to this pose.



Begin the spine twist by sitting on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Keeping the spine straight, bend the left leg placing the left foot on the outside of the right knee. Now, place the left hand on the floor behind you with your arm straight and the right elbow bent. Positioned on the outside of the left thigh place the right hand on the left hip.



Slowly exhale while turning the head and upper body to the left, looking over the left shoulder. Pressure from the right arm should keep the left leg stationary while pressure from the left arm and torso gives you the twist. Stronger use of both arms increases the twist. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and repeat twist on the opposite side.



A total body conditioning and flexibility routine is essential for the avid tennis player. Yoga techniques could be the edge you need in developing your game.

Yoga and Sports: Skiing




It is incredible what yoga does for skiing. People can ski all day long and much better.



Conditioning before hitting the slopes can increase the safety and enjoyment of the sport. Most ski injuries occur early in the day when muscles are tight and enthusiasm is high, and late in the day when muscles are weakened and technique is poor.



A simple yoga exercise called the awkward pose, can increase your strength, balance and concentration which will make the ski season more rewarding.



It consists of three variations which are done sequentially.



To begin, stand with the feet apart, about shoulder width, an even distance (approximately six inches) between your heels and toes. Extend the arms out in front of you parallel to the floor with the shoulders pressed down and away from the head. Keep the upper body strong and firm in this position.



Bend your knees and shift the weight back into the heels, pushing the buttocks out behind you. When the top of the thighs are parallel to the floor and arms, hold your pose. The feet should be held parallel and the knees should only be shoulder width apart.



One good way to think of getting into this pose is to imagine that you are sitting in an invisible chair leaning back to bring the spine and shoulders against the back of the chair. The arm muscles are contracted, the abdomen is held tight and your breathing should be normal. Hold the pose for 20 seconds. Stand up.



The second part of this series is similar to the first. Keep the upper body the same as before and stand straight up onto the balls of the feet, standing as high as possible with the arches pressed forward. To keep the ankles strong and straight, press down with each big toe. Now, bend the knees again keeping the spine straight and stop when the quadriceps are parallel to the floor. Hold this pose for 20 seconds. Stand up. You will find this second pose a bit more difficult.



Third, assume the same basic pose with upper body firm and strong. Again, slowly bend the knees and this time sit all the way down lightly onto the heels. Now press the knees together and hold the body still. The quadriceps are again level with the floor and the spine is straight. Hold again for 20 seconds. Stand up out of the pose slowly, bring the heels down and relax. Don't forget to do a second set of all three poses.

Work – Life Balance and Yoga




After a surge of interest during the consciousness-conscious '60s, yoga began to fall out of favor. Exercisers apparently lost patience with the activity, which offers slow but steady results, and turned to the fast pace and quick shape-up of aerobics. Now yoga is back-less mystical than in the past, less reminiscent of gurus in pretzel positions, and more attractive than ever to people who are interested in working out rather than working toward some spiritual goal.



Once you step out of the metaphysical atmosphere, yoga is a great stretch and flexibility program. Yoga is increasingly being used by those who are having a trouble in balancing their work and personal life. A stressful working environment and a hectic schedule has a telling impact on the personal lives of the modern day executives and so they are turning to yoga to bring about a peace of their mind and to adopt a perfect work-life balance.



Also, many disgruntled runners, weight trainers and aerobic dancers complain that instead of reducing the stress in their lives, their exercise regimes add more.



People rush to work out every day at lunch, force themselves to keep up and then rushed back to work. Surely, it does something good for them, but it is just another pressure. Yoga is less competitive, less stressful, and above all gives a wonderful feeling of being.



Indeed, the healing aspect of yoga is a key to its renewed popularity. The strained knees, aching backs and neck pains generated by the push for fitness and the stress of making it in a competitive world have inspired a packaged set of a book and audio cassettes. Some orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors and neurologists are now referring patients to specific yogis during treatment.



Growing interest in the mind-body connection is fueling a major comeback of the ancient practice, boosted by research suggesting it can reduce stress and blood pressure, improve work performance, even slow effects of aging.



Several techniques are now being taught in mainstream hospitals and businesses; books about them are brisk sellers and discussion groups have sprung up on the Internet.



Even the Army is interested - it has asked the National Academy of Sciences to study meditation and other new age techniques that might enhance soldiers' performance.



Details differ, but a common theme is relaxing the body while keeping the mind alert and focused - on an object, sound, breath or body movement. If the mind wanders - and it always does - you gently bring it back and start again



Stress-related problems account for 60percent to 90percent of U.S. doctor visits, and mind-body approaches often are more effective, and cost-effective, than drugs or surgery. For example, 34percent of infertile patients get pregnant within six months, 70percent of insomniacs become regular sleepers and doctor visits for pain are reduced 36percent.

Ten Minute Yoga Plan to Pep Up




Whether you might be staying home with a new baby or working too many hours at the office, anytime is a good time for yoga. You can do yoga stretches and postures in bed or even while driving to work.



Hundreds of fitness seekers use their lunch hour to squeeze in exercise and take off extra pounds.



I occasionally use my lunch hour for Yoga, said John Ray White, 35, who works at the Arkansas attorney general's office. Downward facing dog and sun salutation are two of the postures she practices every day.



Practicing yoga in the middle of day some people think is the break that they need to face the afternoon, said Ray.



Lunch-hour fitness routines become more popular in warm weather.



Kick Back Log-on Pose



Interlace your fingers behind your head. Relax your elbows and shoulders. Smile, breathe and stretch your elbows back. Let the tightness release slowly.



E-mail Meditation



While reading your e-mail, remember to breathe slowly and focus your attention on your breath. Make the out-breath two times longer than the in-breath. This will immediately calm you.



Photocopier Stretch



Place your hands on the edge of the copier. Stand back with feet apart. Drop your head and chest. Breathe and relax your shoulders.



Close-the-deal Warrior Pose



Raise your arms to the side with fingers pointed. Take a big step to the side, with your right foot out and knee bent, your left foot planted, left leg straight. Keep the upper body straight and strong, shoulders relaxed. Relax into the stretch -- don't hold your breath. Return to a standing position, switch sides and repeat.

Some of the Lesser Known Yoga Videos




With more than 100 yoga videos on the market, you can imagine the diversity among them - everything from nude yoga to postnatal yoga.



Healing Yoga for Common Conditions

This video promises to improve circulation, promote weight loss and manage the symptoms of diabetes and high cholesterol. Without a medical study it's hard to say if it can really deliver, but the hosts, Lisa and Charles Matkin, come with good credentials.



They have taught therapeutic yoga programs at Beth Israel Hospital in New York and New York Presbyterian Medical Center, working with physicians in using yoga to help people with chronic injuries and illnesses.



The 35-minute video is designed to help you increase your metabolism, according to the Matkins. The couple begin the workout with Lisa demonstrating the moves next to a pool with an ocean in the background while Charles does the voice-over, then they switch, then switch again. Both have soothing voices and good form.



The workout is divided into three sections. The first deals with learning to control your breath. It's a pretty basic segment, teaching you breathing techniques and stretching out the body.



The second is for strength, and involves poses that are a bit more difficult, such as the warrior and downward-facing dog poses.



In the third section, you work on releasing tension and relaxation.



This is a good video for all fitness levels. The moves are explained well, as are the benefits and purposes of yoga. None of the poses is very difficult, and the instructors give you modifications to make the moves easier.



Power Strength Yoga for Beginners

Though the title says for beginners, don't believe a word of it. This video takes you through a vigorous set of poses collectively called the Sun Salutation (which you learn in another video, Power Yoga Stamina for Beginners).



Then, with the mountains of Maui as a backdrop, instructor Rodney Yee takes you through a series of very difficult poses including the pendulum, where you balance your entire body off the floor with the strength of your arms, and others that require a good deal of upper-body strength.



The workout takes only 20 minutes, but you work hard in those 20 minutes. It's the only yoga video of those reviewed here in which your heart rate gets close to an aerobic rate.



Yee has a great, soothing voice and perfect form, but he never really offers an explanation of the poses or an easier way to do them. Nor does he offer any help in how to build up to them. That said, if you have the upper-body strength, this is an amazing - and fast - way to get in a strength workout without having to go to the gym.

Rewards of Yoga - E-Commerce Style




As we enter a new millennium, more and more people are seeking lifestyle changes that foster mental and spiritual well-being as well as physical fitness. As a result of this trend, the ancient discipline of yoga is currently undergoing a widespread renaissance. We are dedicated to bringing the benefits of yoga to the widest possible audience through the Internet.



With this statement, wailanayoga.com launched its grand opening on the World Wide Web.



People are more aware than ever of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness, says Wai Lana. regular exercise has been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease, strokes, and cancer. Although it is common knowledge that exercise helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, reduces blood pressure, and promotes psychological well-being, there is increasing consensus among health and fitness experts that physical activity doesn't need to be strenuous to be effective. Yoga offers the perfect combination of strength and flexibility.



Yoga's roots date back around 5,000 years when it was established as a form of meditation. The word 'yoga' in Sanskrit means 'union' - practicing yoga ultimately brings one back in touch with the state of union, or oneness, that exists at the core of every being, she added.



Wai Lana has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 25 years. Her television series, Wai Lana Yoga, is aired in the U.S. on PBS nationwide, as well as in over a dozen countries on five continents. She has produced and hosted nearly 200 half-hour television shows of yoga instruction. Wai Lana has also authored several books on yoga, recorded yoga music in a variety of styles, and released an award-winning series of yoga home videos.



The web site, wailana.com, features yoga asanas (exercises), yoga music, a guided meditation, vegetarian recipes, information on Wai Lana's television series, video and CD sales, and Wai Lana's personal life story.

Prevention of Heart Attacks




Strict changes in diet and lifestyle can not only prevent heart attacks, but can reverse the clogging of the arteries, according to a small but pioneering study.



The study showed that a vegetarian diet, moderate exercise and an hour a day of yoga and meditation could produce a reversal of atherosclerosis, a blockage of the arteries that can lead to a heart attack, in men and women who were strict in following the daily regimen.



Experts say this is the first study to report that such blockage can be reversed without using cholesterol-lowering drugs or surgery.



The study, which was conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish, director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., was presented at the meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.



This is a tremendously important study in the control of heart disease. It's the very first study indicating regression of coronary heart disease without pharmaceutical intervention. The results also suggest that the current medical guidelines for changes in the habits of people with severe heart disease do not go far enough.



Previous studies have shown that exercise and diet changes can slow the progression of heart disease, but not reverse it.



While the study did not determine what percentage of improvement could be attributed to the lifestyle changes alone, the researchers noted that stress-control methods have been shown to ease recovery from a variety of disorders, including hypertension.



But some experts are skeptical of the need for stress-management methods, which are not currently among standard recommendations for those with severe heart disease.



Some experts on cardiac rehabilitation question whether most people with heart disease could follow such strict changes in their habits.

Posturing: Introduction




It increases muscular strength. It reduces tension and stress. It has a low potential for injury, and it doesn't even look like exercise.



Why, then, don't more people practice yoga.



People think of yoga as being passive and mystical - an otherworldly activity that doesn't relate to their lives. People are experiencing a vacuum because of all the outward directed activity, and they are going to have to go back to the experience of self.



Although the Indian discipline of yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, in this country there are few followers. Almost half the American adult population swims and close to a quarter runs or jogs, yet only 2 percent practices yoga.



The word yoga derives from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning to yoke or connect. Through yoga's various techniques, one is said to arrive at mental and physical equilibrium, better health and inner peace. It has been described as providing, in effect, a ''work-in'' rather than a workout.



There are at least eight main branches of yoga and several offshoots of each, but essentially there are only two concerned with exercise: hatha yoga and kundalini yoga.



Hatha is the most popular type of yoga in the Western world. It is a slow-paced discipline that emphasizes controlled breathing and assuming various physical poses. It is said to aid the nervous system, the glands and the vital organs.



Kundalini, which was introduced to this country in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan, is more active, combining various modes of breathing, movement and meditation. It is based on the idea that body energy that is coiled below the base of the spine can be tapped so that it travels upward through different energy centers or chakras until it reaches the head. At this point one arrives at one's highest potential.



Classically, there are 84 basic yoga positions, or asanas, which are coordinated with special breathing techniques. The asanas range from simple bends and twists to pretzel-like contortions reserved for the most advanced practitioners. The various poses elongate the muscles and build flexibility. Along with the proper breathing, they help rid the body of tension. Static holds isolate and strengthen particular muscles.



Asanas have been evolved over the centuries so as to exercise every muscle, nerve and gland in the body. They secure a fine physique, which is strong and elastic without being muscle-bound, and they keep the body free from disease. They reduce fatigue and soothe the nerves. But their real importance lies in the way they train and discipline the mind.

Perfect Truths about Yoga




Turbaned gurus, sing-song mantras and bodily contortions . . . the promise of true enlightenment and omphaloskepsis (contemplation of the naval) completes the cliche. But don't knock yoga till you've tried it, and then only with respect.



Yoga means to bind together -- variously joining sun and moon, left and right, male and female, and any number of yins and yangs -- through ascetic techniques of meditation and exercise. The goal is physical and mental balance.



Indian Hatha' yoga is best known to Westerners. Double-jointedness isn't a prerequisite, but the classic lotus position, cross-legged on the floor, soles-up on the inner thigh, either comes naturally or doesn't.



Then there are more magical/mystical varieties of yoga for which people quit jobs and polite society and retreat to the Himalayas. But not everyone follows a spiritual guide beyond the Beltway; they'd rather take up the discipline at a local ashram or the Y.



Committed practitioners claim yoga leads to intuitive awareness, spiritual harmony, perfect concentration. Others use it to lose weight or quit smoking. Some just like the lift they get from yoga asanas (positions) better than breaking into a sweat with pushups. In any case, it can't hurt, if done in moderation and with proper guidance.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras




Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is a text that covers many aspects of life, beginning with a code of conduct and ending with the goal of yoga, a vision of one’s true Self. The Pantajali’sYoga Sutras is probably the most authoritative text on yoga. It defines yoga as a focusing of the attention to whatever object is being contemplated to the exclusion of all others. Yoga isn’t only about postures, or meditation, it is a way of life, or religion. In this influencing scripture there are eight steps to awakening or enlightenment through yoga. These eight astanga or limbs of yoga are: yamas, niyamas, asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.



The yamas consist of lessons in moral and social conduct in our environment. It teaches us to restrain from lying, stealing, and greed. Non-violence and consideration toward all living things is the key. Communication with sensitivity towards others and moderation in all things we do is revered.



The niyama focuses on attitudes towards ourselves: compromising, cleanliness, serenity, devotion, and asceticism. One should study and reverence to a higher intelligence. There is an acceptance of our limitations in relation to God. It is key to have removed the impurities from the mind and body.



In the asanas, one focuses on posture practice, positioning the body while incorporating the breath to achieve a greater awareness in the mind. One is alert and relaxed without tension, while observing the reactions of the body and breath to various postures. This minimizes the effect of the external influences on the body, such as diet and climate.



Pranayama, or the restraint and control of the breath, helps with concentration, energizing and balancing of the mind and body.



Pratyahara is the relaxation of the senses, where no distractions actually activate the mind.



Dharana, or concentration, is the ability to direct the mind toward a chosen object and focus in on it alone.



Dhyana, or meditation, is the ability to develop focused interactions with what we seek to understand.



Lastly, but most importantly, Samadhi is the ultimate state of Self-realization, or union with the Source.

Parkinson’s Disease




First described as ``shaking palsy'' the disease that now bears his name, medical science has thus far been unable to unravel the cause or causes of most Parkinson's cases or to devise a cure. Nonetheless, dramatic progress has been made in treating the disease, which is known to afflict about half a million older Americans, or one person in 100 over age 50. This figure does not include the untold thousands with symptoms of the disease that are not severe enough to prompt them to seek a diagnosis. But early diagnosis is important.



Diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is based on the patient's symptoms and performance on certain neurological and neuropsychological tests, along with ruling out other possible causes of those symptoms. Some cases of what doctors call Parkinsonism are caused by potent drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses or they are a result of poisoning by manganese.



Through medication, exercise regimens and tips on adaptive living measures, modern treatment can forestall or reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, allowing patients to lead full and active lives for years after diagnosis and often for the rest of their lives because most of its victims are elderly. The late stages of the disease, however, can leave patients vulnerable to pneumonia, blood clots and bodywide infections that can be fatal.



Yoga has a major role in management of Parkinson's as it has emerged as a beneficial alternative therapy and an ideal form of exercise for Parkinson's patients because of its slow movements. Following the steps mentioned below could effectively help people with Parkinson’s:



Concentrate on controlling your breath (Pranayama) as this form of yoga helps in moments of panic – such as feet sticking to the floor when walking.



In this form of yoga, the mind is always alert.



Few yoga exercises like back strengthening postures, lots of shoulder movements, breathing practices and some meditation definitely helps.



One of the most useful forms of yoga used for Parkinson’s is Ashtanga Yoga. It works to strengthen the body and do increases blood circulation.



Daily practice of yoga is essential since Parkinson’s itself does not necessarily weaken the muscles. Weakening of muscles is generally caused by lack of movement. Daily practice should be encouraged, but not enough to cause fatigue.



Parkinson’s also result in the loss of movement of the facial muscles. Pranayama and other yoga movements could help in relaxing those muscles and bring in smile on the faces of the patient.

Origins of Yoga




Today’s society is much faster paced that ever before. People have more stress problems which lead to more health problems, mental and physical. There are more concerns with toxicity in the food we eat and the air we breathe. Millions of Americans today live a sedentary lifestyle, which is associated with obesity. The body, the cavities of our soul, was not meant to deteriorate in such a way that leads to disease. Yoga was developed over 5,000 years ago in India and it included spiritual beliefs, physical techniques, and scholarly philosophy.



There is a growing trend to practicing Yoga for many different reasons, which include attaining the yoga body or physique, relaxation and peace of mind, or to prevent injury and ailments. Americans mainly practice Hatha Yoga, which focuses on postures and stretching the body.



Yoga, which is derived from the sacred Sanskrit language of India, meaning *union* or *to yoke or harness*. Yoga is a way or path to transcendence and liberation from the self and the ego by purifying the mind and body. Practicing yoga leads to a union with the mind and body or the individual and universal consciousness. In other words, yoga is the union with the Individual Self and the Universal Self. Yoga predates all other religions and has influenced and inspired many other traditions and philosophies. Yoga is better understood as a union of the physical, physiological, mental, emotional, and intellectual bodies, which leads to a purposeful and balanced life.



There is simply no other discipline quite like yoga because it utilized the body, mind and spirit, all in one practice. Yoga is indeed a spiritual path that is based on ancient sacred philosophy, but one does not need to make an ethical decision when practicing yoga, rather finding your own path is wholly accepted. The holistic benefits of yoga are suitable for the young or old, sick or well, with any religious background. The secrets of yoga are inwardness, concentration, and purification of mind and body with cleansing thoughts and food. Indian philosophy states that within man is the spirit that is the center of everything. *Internal equilibrium is the basis and the ground for the higher illumination,* The cultural Heritage of India (Vol. I) - published by The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata, India

Kundalini Yoga




The word Kundalini is a familiar one to all students of Yoga, as it is well known as the power, in the form of a coiled serpent, residing in Muladhara Chakra, the first of the seven Chakras, the other six being Svadhishthana, Manipuraka, A nahata, Visuddha, Ajna and Sahasrara, in order.



Less is historically known of the Agamas than the Vedas, because the latter provide descriptive poem-pictures of Vedic life. The original Agamas are twenty-eight in number. They are called Saiva Agamas as they focus on establishing a relationship with and ultimately realizing the Supreme Being Siva. They carry names like Vira, Hero. Siddha, Perfected and Swayambhuva, naturally revealed.



The Agamas are divided into four parts called padas, lessons. The first two padas - Chariya good conduct, and Kriya, external worship,- include all the details of personal home life, house planning, town planning, personal worship in temples, the architectural plans for temples and sculpture as well as the intricacies of temple puja. The final two padas - Yoga, internalized worship and union, and Jnana, enlightened wisdom, – vividly describe the processes and stages of kundalini yoga, and the Cod-like plateaus of consciousness reached when Sivahood is attained. In the actual texts, the padas are ordered with jnana first, yoga second, then kriya and chariya - unfurling from a God-state to a human state.



The Agamas contain tens of thousands of verses, much more prolific than the Vedas. Though the Vedas stayed strictly in Sanskrit, the Agamas proliferated across India and oilier countries through many languages. But they fared poorly over the millennia, particularly the Yoga and Jnana Padas - so high and powerful. The custodian Saiva priests neglected them. Many padas of entire Agamas were lost or destroyed.

Instant 10-minute Yoga: New Form of Yoga




Do you drag yourself out of bed on Monday mornings, exhausted before you've even begun the week. Or maybe you can't enjoy your evenings, because work drains you of every ounce of energy.



Don't worry, you can boost your energy levels and balance your body with a new form of yoga - dynamic yoga.



Its simplicity and almost instantaneous benefits have made it one of the most fashionable alternative exercises of the new Millennium. Normally known for its relaxation benefits, dynamic yoga can boost your energy levels in just 10 minutes.



It includes some of the most basic yoga postures. You can try each of them individually, or in succession, but none of them should be rushed. However, you should feel the benefits after just ten minutes.



The deep stretches and graceful movements help to unblock energy, improve muscle tone and increase your general stamina. When practised regularly, say enthusiasts, you will experience improved energy levels, greater sexual vitality and better self-discipline. In the long-term, the breathing and body exercises will help detoxify your mind of tension and strain, creating calm and an inner peace.

Insomnia




Sleep is an essential part of good health. A good night's sleep can help you feel good, look healthy, work effectively and think clearly.



But sleep is not always so easy to come by. If you sometimes have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you're not alone. A 1991 Gallup study found that more than one-third of all Americans suffer occasional or chronic insomnia.



People often are surprised to learn that daytime drowsiness is not an inevitable, harmless byproduct of modern life, but rather a key sign of a sleep problem that could be disastrous if not treated.



Recent figures show that nearly a quarter of the population regularly cannot go to, or remain asleep, and every year doctors write out more than 14 million prescriptions for sleeping tablets.



The causes of sleeplessness are many and varied. 'It can be due to a medical condition, such as chronic pain from rheumatism or arthritis,' says Professor Jim Horne, who runs the Sleep Research Laboratory at Loughborough University. 'Or it can be chemical, as a result of drinking tea, coffee or alcohol. Chronic or long-term insomnia is often associated with depression or anxiety, and environmental factors certainly contribute.'



And sleepless nights, staring wild-eyed into the darkness, are worse than bad dreams,



For too many people--an estimated 9percent of the American population--a good night's sleep is an elusive goal. The consequences of fatigue from chronic sleeplessness include accidents in the car and at work, a dramatically increased risk of major depression, and worsening physical illness.



Immediate relief is available, in the form of hypnotic agents, for persons who have difficulty in falling or remaining asleep or who cannot obtain restful, restorative slumber. However, long-term improvement usually involves behavioral therapy. These therapeutic approaches must be integrated if the patient's short- and long-term needs are to be addressed.

Infertility




Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of trying, or the inability to carry pregnancies to a live birth. It affects one out of six couples of childbearing age in the United States today - at least ten million people. And in a career-oriented area like Washington, where many couples postpone decisions about childbearing until professional goals have been met, the ration of one in six is probably on the conservative side. Yet it is rarely discussed, and understood even less.



For almost all couples the condition comes as a surprise. And no wonder. It seems as if the whole is on its guard against producing unwanted children. Every day 19.9 million women in this country wake up and remind themselves to take the Pill. In China, a woman with more than three children is considered an enemy of the state. In India, population experts fear the country may end up at century's close with four times as many people as it started with - up from 250 million in 1900 to one billion. The huge nation has resorted to quickie vasectomies and cash rewards at commuter train stations. Two will do posters are everywhere.



Although infertility may affect people of all social classes, the childless poor usually have neither the time nor the money to undergo a lengthy series of tests - commonly called an infertility work-up - to determine the cause of the problem. There may also be class differences in a person's willingness to endure many sacrifices so that a long-range goal can be realized. For these reasons, the inability to conceive and bear children seems to be a middle and upper middle-class problem.



The anguish of infertility will strike increasing numbers of couples in the next few years, however, as the children of the baby boom reach their late twenties and early thirties. Many who till now have postponed marriage and childbearing for their careers will turn to both to round out their lives - and find child-bearing not possible.



The men, after years of enjoying what they consider a healthy sex drive, will be shocked to learn that their sperm are too few in number or perhaps not active enough to effect a conception. The women may be given a finding of endometriosis, a condition in which parts of the uterine lining seed themselves in various places along the reproductive tract. Unknown in cultures where women marry young, it is a common finding in American women past 30. Or the women may be part of the 10.9 million who took the Pill every day whether or not previous gynecological abnormalities should have warned the physician against a prescription.



A generation ago, before the current explosion in medical technology, many couples who could not produce children were told there was nothing wrong with them: either it was all in their heads or God's will. There was also smirking ignorance on the public, the insinuation they weren't performing correctly in bed.



In fact, male impotence is the source of less than five per cent of the cases of male infertility, and the sources of impotence are extremely varied, from diabetes to perineal nerve injury to psychogenic causes.