Monthly Archives: November 2013

The many different kinds of yoga | Yoga practices and benefits – Part 3

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga

Integral Yoga:

Integral yoga combines postures, breathing exercises, meditation, selfless service , chanting, self-inquiry , and prayer.

ISHTA Yoga:

ISHTA stands for Integral Science of Hatha and Tantric Arts.  It was developed in South Africa by teacher Mani Finger, and popularized in the United States by his son Alan Finger. It focuses on opening the Chakras, energy channels throughout the body, with postures, meditation, and visualizations.

Iyengar Yoga:

Iyengar yoga was developed by yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar more than sixty years ago.  It promotes flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance through coordinating breathing and poses. The poses require precise body alignment and are generally held longer than in other styles of yoga. In this form of yoga you slowly move into a pose, hold it for a minute or so, and then rest for a few breaths before moving into another pose. The thing that distinguished Iyengar yoga from types of yoga is the use of equipment like blankets, cushions, blocks, and straps to help the less flexible. Iyengar incorporates the traditional postures (asanas) that make up the broader category of hatha yoga, but the use of cushions and other props revolutionized yoga by enabling even the sick, elderly, and disabled to practice yoga. Because of the attention to detail, slow pace, and use of various props, Iyengar yoga is especially good if you are recovering from an injury. And, because of its accessibility to a wider population, Iyengar yoga is one of the most popular types of yoga practiced today.

(Go back to Part 1, Part 2)

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The many different kinds of yoga | Yoga practices and benefits – Part 2

 (Go back to part 1)

The Practice of yoga

The Practice of yoga

Bikram Yoga:

Bikram yoga is also known as hot yoga.  It is practiced in a temperature of 95-105 degrees in order to prevent injuries a promote detoxification through sweating and more flexibility by warming up the muscles. It was created by Bikram Choudhury who was a disciple of Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (who wrote Autobiography of a Yogi).  Bikram was a gold medal Olympic weight lifter in 1963, and wanted a yoga method that provided a comprehensive workout which included all the components of physical fitness ( muscular endurance, muscular strength, cardiovascular flexibility and weight loss). Thus, Bikram yoga was born.

Hatha Yoga:

Hatha yoga is a basic  easy-to-learn form of yoga.  It is the foundation of all Yoga styles. It incorporates postures – Asanas, regulated breathing – Pranayama, meditation – Dharana & Dhyana, and kundalini – Laya Yoga into a complete system that can be used to achieve flexibility, physical well-being, peace, and enlightenment or self-realization. Thus it has become very popular in the western world as source of exercise and stress management. The Hatha yoga approach is one of peace and calm.  The practitioner should practice the Hatha Yoga poses, asanas, in a calm, meditative mood.  After sitting quietly for a few moments, he can begin the series, slowly, with grace and control, staying inwardly aware as the body performs the series of poses selected for the practice session. One should not overdo the asanas or try to compete with others. This is a yoga to be taken easy and enjoyed.

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The many different kinds of yoga | Yoga practices and benefits – Part 1

The Practice of Anusara yoga

The Practice of Anusara yoga

In the introduction to yoga I mentioned that there are about 20 different styles of yoga.  This article is the beginning of a series of blogs to describe the many styles and their benefits.

Ananda Yoga:

Ananda Yoga focuses on gentle postures designed to prepare the body for meditation by moving the energy up to the brain. It also focuses on proper body alignment and learning to control breathing.

Anusara Yoga:

Ansusara Yoga is a relatively new form of yoga and was developed in 1997.  It pairs a playful spirit with strict principles of alignment. Even though postures can be challenging, the true message of Anusara yoga is to open your heart and strive to connect with the divine in yourself and in others.

Ashtanga (or Astanga) Yoga:

This is the name given to the system of yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga yoga is physically intense because it involves synchronizing breath work with a progressive and continuous series of postures.  This process produces intense internal heat and a profuse and purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs.  Ashtanga is an athletic yoga that should not be practiced by beginners. Results of this yoga include improved circulation, flexibility, stamina, a light and strong body, and a peaceful mind.

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An Introduction to Yoga | What is Yoga – Part 2 of 2

Yoga. The practice of uniting mind, body, and spirit.

Yoga. The practice of uniting mind, body, and spirit.

(Go back to part 1)

Over its long history, many different schools of yoga have emerged, and there are many examples, branches, and philosophies that have sprung up. Although, in most countries, the practice of yoga is no longer based on Hindu religious beliefs, it allows an individual to gain an understanding of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. It is agreed on by everyone that this is the fundamental purpose of yoga.

Now yoga is accepted as a comprehensive exercise to promote flexibility of the body and control of the mind. It is more than just a means of being fit and trim. It can in fact help you live a healthy, whole, and empowered life. In recent decades, yoga has become the most diversified spiritual practice in the world. The practice of yoga now recognizes no borders as it continues to spread globally.

The Times of India recently wrote an article about 20 different kinds of yoga, which I thought was very interesting.  Each one has certain health benefits, so it is important to know what the different types of yoga are and how it can help you.  I’ll post a few follow-up articles on the different kinds of yoga they list, and the benefits of each.

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An introduction to Yoga | What is Yoga – Part 1 of 2

Yoga.  The practice of uniting mind, body, and spirit.

Yoga. The practice of uniting mind, body, and spirit.

At its essence, yoga is a union of mind, body, and spirit. It is believed that yoga dates back to at least 3000BC and originated in India.  The background of yoga is long and filled with tradition. It is an ancient technique for its practitioners to attain and maintain their personal health and fitness.  The background of Yoga can be divided into four main periods.  These periods are the pre-classical period, classical period, post-classical period, and modern period. The word yoga was first mentioned in the Rig Veda, the oldest of the sacred texts.  The actual book of yoga is called the yoga sutras.  The word Yoga literally meant “the Yolk” that joins something together, such as an ox to a cart. The idea is that yoga joins all aspects of existence into one.  Mind, body, and spirit become joined rather than staying separate.

What most people think of as Yoga, the impressive contortionist postures, is really only one small aspect of a much larger field of practices. The methods of yoga include ethical disciplines, physical postures, breath control, and meditation.  The 20th century ushered in a resurgence of yoga that caused a globalization of this ancient tradition.

(Go to part 2)

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Quote about Women | Women’s rights | Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart, Defend the rights of women and girls

Patrick Stewart, Defend the rights of women and girls

I love this picture!  And thank you Patrick Stewart for standing up for the rights of women and girls.  But why is this true?  Why does it take an old white guy to convince the world that standing up for human rights is necessary?  Why don’t people from other cultures stand up for women and girls?

And that’s really the problem isn’t it?  It’s not popular in a lot of cultures to stand up for female rights.  So even men who do support feminine rights often won’t say anything.  They don’t want to risk their own popularity, and maybe their safety, to stand up for something that isn’t popular.  It’s frustrating isn’t it?  It’s not that there aren’t men in other cultures that believe in female rights.  It’s just that they don’t say anything.  They don’t spread the word.

I often wonder about what it would take to help these men to stand up for what they believe in.  To motivate them to create a better world for their wives, sisters, daughters, an granddaughters.  What do they need?  And how can we provide it?  What will create the change we need?

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SADHU T. L. VASWANI: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

Sadhu T. L. Vaswani, founder of the Mira School

Sadhu T. L. Vaswani, founder of the Mira School

Sadhu Vaswani was a great Sindhi educationist and philosopher. He was born as  Thanwardas Lilaram Vaswani, on November 25, 1879, in Hyderabad, Sind. In his youth, he became a scholar of the Upanishads, part of the oldest spiritual texts on Earth. He graduated from the University of Bombay with a bachelor’s degree in 1899, and a master’s degree in 1902. His first job was as a teacher at Union Academy. He then took a professorship in History and Philosophy position at the City College in Calcutta. It was here  that Vaswani found his Guru (spiritual teacher), Sri Promotholal Sen, affectionately known as Naluda. Five years later, Vaswani moved to Karachi, in 1908, and joined the D. J. Science College as a Professor of English and Philosophy. In 1910, Vaswani and his guru, Sri Promotholal, sailed from Bombay to Berlin (Germany) to attend the Congress of World Religions. In 1920, Vaswani’s mother died. Shortly thereafter, he became a brahmachari.

In the beginning, Sadhu Vaswani developed a devout following of mostly women. They called themselves the Sakhi Satsang back then. During an age when a woman’s place was in the home, Sadhu Vaswani suggested that they be the ones to lead the country towards a brighter future. He was so committed to this belief, that he founded a girl’s college to educate women and named it the Mira School. Thus began what the world now knows as the Mira Movement.

Sadhu Vaswani was one of the first supporters of the Satyagraha Movement, a freedom movement characterized by noncooperation and nonviolence, led by Gandhi. He used his influence on the Indian National Congress to get legislation passed in favor of Indian independence. He also wrote many books about the socioeconomic and political affairs of the time, such as My Motherland and Awake Young India.

- Written by Neelam Wadhwani

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Quote about Women | Ann Richards | Fred Astaire | Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

“After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did.  She just did it backwards and in high heels.”   ― Ann Richards

I love this quote!  It’s so true isn’t it?  And it just states the obvious in such a simple way.  Women go about their days doing everything expected of them.  They often do the same things as men in their day-to-day lives.  But they don’t get recognized for their accomplishments.  They don’t get recognized for often having to work harder to achieve the same successes as men do?

And why do they need to work harder?  As much as we hate to admit it, we still live in a very male dominated world.  Men can do less and get more recognition.  And often the things that seem to warrant recognition in society are only the things that come easily to men.  The things that come easy to women are often trivialized.  Society doesn’t put as much value on being a mother, and all the work that that entails, as it does as being a businessman.

Isn’t it time that we start to highly value what women do naturally well?  Isn’t it time we gave them all the tools they need to succeed at whatever they choose to pursue?  Isn’t it time we give them the credit they deserve when they choose to compete in, and succeed at doing something just as well as a man?  I think it’s time.

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Inspirational Quote | Franz Kafka | Start with what is right

Inspirational quote

Inspirational Quote

Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.
- Franz Kafka

I think most of us spend our time just doing what is acceptable.  Our cultures tell us what we should be doing, and even if it doesn’t sound or feel right to us, we do it because it’s what is expected of us.  It’s what our society thinks is acceptable, and if we want to be accepted we do what is acceptable.  Often, doing what is right is not popular.  Standing by one’s values and beliefs is often an act of courage, because it’s often not considered acceptable.  And because of that, that person loses their acceptance in their community and/or family.  This loss can be painful, and many of us don’t want to suffer that way.

But the world won’t change until we stand behind our beliefs.  The more of us who stand by what is right, the more acceptable it becomes.  What would the world be like if it was “normal” to stand for what we believe is right?  What if that became “acceptable?”  But it starts one person at a time.  Each of us can make a difference.  Each little step is a step towards a better world.

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Quote about Women | Nora Ephron | Quote about Courage

Beatiful Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
― Nora Ephron

In many countries around the world, getting an education is an act of courage.  We saw the story of young Malala, who stood up for her right to an education and got shot in the head for her beliefs.  That’s a dramatic example of what it can take, but there are so many girls around the world that fight the same battle, but without the same drama (thank goodness) and the same visibility.  They have to fight the norms of their cultures, the inaccessibility of schools, the demands of their families on them to help in the house or nurse their elders.  They are often pressured to get married at a young age and then become mothers even before they are teens.  For these girls, education, just learning the simple skills of basic reading and addition and subtraction, is such a gift.  And for this gift they must struggle.  They intuitively know they must be the heroines in their own lives.  Against the odds, against social pressure, they refuse to be victims.  They do whatever they can to get the education that could make them who they really want to be, or give them freedom that they seek.  They are examples of what real life heroines look like.  They are the beautiful faces of courage.

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