Yoga is often thought of as engaging in some sort of acrobatics that involve turning oneself into a pretzel. The practice of postures, or “asana”, is actually only one of the eight practices of yoga. And pretzels are not involved. Asana practice is the one that we in the Western world have adopted most vociferously. Meditation is another of the 8 limbs. The whole of yoga is a system of practices that focus on physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Many people think that yoga is just stretching. While stretching is involved in an asana practice, yoga is really about creating balance and a sense of connectedness with one’s self. It’s this union that IS yoga — a centered connection with the core truths that guide one’s daily life.
Through the practice of asana, we connect with the body and breath and give the mind a focus that helps provide a counter balance to the busy-mind of daily work and life. Through this process of redirecting the mind’s focus to physical sensation and breath, we gently guide the mind away from chatter toward stillness. The stillness of the mind at the end of a practice becomes the sweet dessert of the practice. Meditation is made more accessbile with a preliminary practice of asana and breath, but even alone can provide the path to that quiet stillness of mind.
Each yoga posture, or asana, has specific physical benefits which one learns through instruction and direct experience
Benefits of an Asana Practice can include
– Improved Posture
– Improved Breathing
– Lowered blood pressure and slowing the heart rate
– Relief of symptoms of asthma, back pain, and arthritis.
– Improved sleep quality
– Helping the body and mind respond to stress.
– Creating a feeling of calm and well-being
The practice of meditation invites and sometimes produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention to eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being. Through practice, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day, allow the mind to integrate thoughts and inputs and create space that both feels good and can help with new ideas, solutions and insights.
Benefits of meditation can include:
– Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
– Building skills to manage your stress
– Increasing self-awareness
– Focusing on the present
– Reducing negative emotions
Research suggests that meditation may also help such conditions as:
– Anxiety disorders
– Binge eating
– Heart disease
– High blood pressure
– Sleep problems
– Substance abuse
Yoga Nidra translates as Yogic Sleep. It is an ancient form of meditation that is being re-discovered as an antidote to today’s predilection toward constant input and productivity. The practice of Yoga Nidra brings you to deep levels of rest by relaxing the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight) and bringing the parasympathetic nervous system into dominanace (stimulating integration and healing for the system). When practicing Yoga Nidra, brainwaves drop into the alpha and theta state. As you progressively enter deeper and subtler brain waves, you become more relaxed, integrated, expansive and present. It is said that 1/2 hour of Yoga Nidra equals 3-4 hours of normal sleep in terms of the regenerative rest that the body and mind receive. More information about Yoga Nidra group and private sessions.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra can include:
– Lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol levels
– Strengthening the immune system
– Increasing helper cells that defend against infectious disease
– Increasing blood flow to the heart
– Balancing the autonomic nervous system
– Relieving pain and reducing the need for pain medication
– Balancing and strengthenig the endocrine system
– Revitalizig and recharging vital energy
– Stabilizing mind and emotions
– Enhancing creativity
PLEASE NOTE: Yoga is not a substitute for medical care. Yoga offers many health benefits and may even be included as part of some treatment plans. But it’s still important to work closely with your regular health care providers and get proper treatment when you need it.