How Yoga Heals

This is a re-post for those of you who are interested in exploring yoga for your health and wellbeing.

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yoga for wellbeing

Thanks to Nancy over at Spirit Lights the Way for sparking some yoga inspiration!

I take a therapeutic approach to my Yoga teaching; focusing on body awareness, mindfulness and the breath. To me its more than a physical work out.

I love this quote from Georg Feuerstein taken from Yoga Gems:
“Beginners on the yogic path would do well to understand correctly what Yoga is all about and to then approach it accordingly.
There is a humorous saying in Yoga circles that Yoga has been reduced to the practice of postures, and that postures have been reduced to stretching, and that stretching has been reduced to lengthening the hamstrings. Authentic Yoga is always a spiritual discipline, even when the focus is on the body, as it is in Hatha Yoga.”

The intention of Yoga is the quieten the mind and connect with our inner spirit, consciousness or higher power. Read more about it on my Yoga page.

In his book “Yoga as Medicine” Dr Timothy McCall shares 40 ways that Yoga (Poses, Breathing and Meditation) heals:

  1. Increases flexibility
  2. Strengthen muscles
  3. Improves balance
  4. Improves immune function
  5. Improves posture
  6. Improves lung function
  7. Leads to slower and deeper breathing
  8. Discourages mouth breathing
  9. Increases oxygenation of the tissues
  10. Improves joint health
  11. Nourishes intervertebral discs
  12. Improves return of venous blood
  13. Increases circulation of lymph
  14. Improves circulation of the feet
  15. Improves proprioception (awareness of body in space)
  16. Increases control of bodily functions
  17. Strengthens bones
  18. Conditions the cardiovascular system
  19. Promotes weight loss
  20. Relaxes the nervous system and reduces anxiety
  21. Improves the function of the nervous system
  22. Improves brain function
  23. Activates the left prefrontal cortex
  24. Changes neurotransmitter levels
  25. Lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol
  26. Lowers blood sugar
  27. Lowers blood pressure
  28. Improves levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  29. Thins the blood
  30. Improves bowel function
  31. Releases unconscious muscle gripping
  32. Uses imagery to effect change in the body
  33. Relieves pain
  34. Lowers need for medication
  35. Fosters healthier relationships
  36. Improves psychological health and mood
  37. Leads to healthier habits
  38. Fosters spiritual growth
  39. Elicits the placebo effect
  40. Encourages involvement in your own healing

This list still wows me!

If you are young – there is every reason in the world to start now. Do it!

If you are in Mid life – it isn’t too late. I started yoga in my 40’s and it changed my life. This is where I find my middle ground every day.
Find a studio and a teacher that you can relate to and feel supported by. A word of caution here. Not every Yoga offered in classes is the same. Unless you are an athlete, avoid Vinyasa or Power Yoga.

Even if you are elderly and have a number of health and physical issues, finding an experienced trained teacher with a therapeutic approach can lead to a more active and healthy life… and a sense of peace and wellbeing.

yoga heals

So many people try Yoga in gyms these days. Please be careful as the focus is usually on having a physical workout. In my experience the instructors may not be as experienced, there is less personal attention and less time for relaxation and mindfulness.

For me, Yoga is about balance, alignment and inner peace. Finding balance and peace in our lives and alignment of our mind body and spirit… on and off the mat.

Namaste

YOGA 101 – Om and Aum

Before we get started with some Yoga 101,  please note that “Ohm” is the Standard International (SI) unit of electrical resistance that was discovered by Georg Simon Ohm. The symbol looks like this:

Ω

This is not to be confused with the Om or Aum symbol used in the Hindu and Buddhist tradition.

Om and Aum are the same thing; it’s just written two different ways. It is believed that the sound of “Aum” – the slow, calming chant many associate with the word, is the sound that was made when all of creation came into existence. This symbol is a sacred syllable representing the essence of the universe and all creation known as Brahman.

Just as Brahman is the culmination of everything, so is the Aum symbol. It’s written in Sanskrit, and each part of the symbol has a significant meaning, relating to different levels of consciousness.

om symbol

Source: Pinterest

The large, bottom curve represents the normal state of being awake. The curve above it stands for the sleeping state, while the curve emanating out from the center of the two represents the dreaming state.
Those are the three states of consciousness that every human experiences.
The dot and the open curve above that is what elevates the symbol to a much higher and more sacred meaning. The dot signifies the fourth and highest state of consciousness, Turiya. Turiya is not a state apart from the lesser states of consciousness,  but pervades all levels of reality as transcended consciousness or pure being.
The semi circle at the top represents Maya which gives us the illusion that we are separate from realization of the Highest Level of consciousness.

The chanting of Om has three subtle parts sounding like A-U-M. It is an uplifting and  powerful practice to connect to the deeper meaning of life and higher consciousness. The shared vibration and sound can touch us deeply. Take a few moments to enjoy the good vibrations from this chanting meditation with Tibetan Singing Bowls.

The next time you are in a yoga class, and the teacher leads an Om chant, why not join in. Open your heart, let go of your ego, and experience it for yourself. Chant as if no one is listening.