Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring Ayurvedic Detox Diet for the Kapha Dosha

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By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed     

The Ayurvedic system of health and healing began to be systematically compiled approximately 5,000 years ago in Northern India. It is considered to be the sister science to the practice of Yoga. When Ayurvedic techniques and recommendations are combined with a consistent practice of Yoga asanas, pranayama exercises and meditation, a Yoga practitioner is greatly supported in creating and maintaining a state of vibrant good health and well-being. 

According to Ayurvedic guidelines, spring is a great time to cleanse the entire body of toxins that may have accumulated throughout the winter months. Often, we eat heavy, more tamasic foods during the wintertime. Come spring, we may find that we have even put on a few extra pounds! This is especially true for those of us who are predominantly Kapha in nature. The term “Kapha” refers to one of the three doshas or body/mind constellations according to Ayurveda. The other two doshas are Pitta, which is imbued by the fire element, and Vata, which is ruled by the air element.

When a Kapha individual is balanced, he or she is steady, strong, peaceful, loyal and serene. When a Kapha dosha individual is out-of-balance, he or she may experience lethergy, procrastination, excess weight and even depression. As new life begins to bloom around us, very naturally we want to cleanse our homes, wardrobes and bodies.  The softness of the air and the increasing light support us in releasing heavier thoughts, ways of being and dietary habits. In addition to a spring detoxification diet, daily exercise out in the sunshine, engaging in new experiences and rising with the sun will all support a Kapha in feeling light, energized, strong, and healthy. 

Ayurvedic physicians recommend that all doshas reduce the consumption of ama-producing or stagnating and toxic foods throughout the year, especially during a spring detox diet. Examples of ama-producing foods are meat, processed food and fast food. The recommended diets for Kaphas during a spring detox diet are bean-based soups, leafy and bitter greens, steamed vegetables and easily digested whole grains. 

It is also recommended that Kaphas include digestive herbs and spices in their detox diet plan. According to Ayurveda, some of the most highly recommended spices for Kaphas to include during a springtime detox diet and throughout the course of the year are fenugreek, fennel, coriander, turmeric and ginger. Including these spices into your daily diet will help to facilitate thorough digestion, alkalize your body and promote greater enzyme production; thereby stimulating more energy, fire and a sense of peaceful lightness and well-being. 

© Copyright 2013 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or see our selection of affordable yoga instructor certification programs, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Importance of Yoga for Men's Holistic Health

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By Shahid Mishra

With time, yoga has become a female dominated activity. Modern advertising photographs display young and trim female participants in bikinis practicing physically difficult asanas. As an old man, I cannot complain, but this is far different from the male dominated Yoga some Indians practiced, when we were a colony of Great Britain.

Yoga is the oldest method of all existing health maintenance systems. Originally practiced by the ancient yogis in India, it is very important to know the value of yoga and how to properly perform each technique. The saints and ancient yogis performed yoga to control the body, mind and spirit, which they believed could be controlled by many various arts. One of these arts or aspects of modern yoga is the art of asana, which is nothing more than various postures of yogic tradition. Although, mantra, pranayama, meditation and mudra are also arts, people have to be reminded of their significance.

Yoga consists of these different arts that help in the development of physical, mental and spiritual health and also help to improve one's lifestyle through the continual training, practice and control. In order to control one’s mind, one needs to have proper health and should be relaxed enough to know how to manage his daily activities, while keeping the daily stress level under control. This will not only help a man to deal his problems effectively but also helps in maintaining a good personal relationship with his family and friends since his mind is free of various outward stress and tension. When all of these are under control, one can easily attain spirituality.

There are various benefits of practicing yoga regularly as it helps in improving the physical health, improves the mind, enhances the spine's flexibility, tones the muscles, and provides a great sense of relaxation. Each of the asana in yoga is done in proper procedure and in steps, in a very slow and comfortable manner. While each of these steps are done, there is a proper coordination in the breath along with concentration and relaxation. Yoga teaches us how to control your breath and you can reap various benefits from it. It helps in dealing with insomnia, fatigue, diabetes, blood pressure and various other ailments and diseases.

There are various arts within the yogic practices, and these can be attained only through constant study, practice, and control of breath. The word asana also means the mastery of sitting still (Paulji refers to this concept as rooting). No matter in what posture you are holding, which is familiar to you or something that is new and difficult for others who haven’t practiced yoga, you can still root into it comfortably through the art of controlling your breath and the expansion of consciousness

The arts of yoga are now widely spread, as all people are more conscious about their health and fitness. Before practicing any yogic movements or postures, one should familiarize it with the help of a yoga teacher who is well trained and aware of the consequences of doing it wrong and proper method of doing it tight, for all postures may not suit everyone. As certain asanas are restricted for those who have health issues and have undergone surgeries.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or see our selection of affordable yoga instructor training courses, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Yoga Benefits for Back Health

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By Faye Martins

One of the many benefits of yoga is the relief that it can provide for those who suffer from back pain. What makes yoga a well-situated choice for many back pain sufferers is the fact that any person of any age is likely to benefit from it. 

One point to mention before we go over the benefits of yogic exercise for people who suffer from back pain is that you should consult with your doctor or chiropractor before practicing any exercise program. In some cases, such as: osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and other bone diseases or skeletal conditions, a back bend can cause pain or a compression fracture. For these reasons, it is extremely wise to consult with a trusted medical professional about improving your health with yoga.

Some of the additional benefits of yoga for back pain include:

• Fitness

Many people who suffer from back pain could alleviate some of that pain simply by being fit. While many people cannot perform standard exercise like running or weight lifting, yoga is a good option that is low-risk in comparison.

Since fitness based yoga is a low-impact work out, back pain sufferers can ease into the poses at their own pace. Hatha yoga training is a low-pressure fitness approach to stay in shape.

• Improve Posture

Something that many people do not think is related to back pain is balance and posture. However, when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that the posture of your back would be directly related to the amount of pain – or lack thereof - that is felt.

Most people spend hours a day in front of a computer. Students may spend hours hunched over a book while reading or writing. Sitting in one position for a prolonged period of time can put strain on the muscles of the back. When the posture is bad, it can have painful results. Simple yoga postures can help to relieve the muscle strain and increase flexibility in the back muscles can have the positive outcome of stronger muscles and less pain.

• Best Option for All

The bottom line is that anyone who has any kind of back pain will be able to benefit from doing yoga in a proper and supervised way. As we know, yoga has many health benefits and, unlike many other work out routines, anyone can do it. Children with weak muscles can work on their flexibility and adults can also have positive results. 

Even chronic sufferers have been known to have relief in as little as a few days of active training. The important part to remember is to keep going with it. Of course, the poses will be challenging for most people to do in the beginning, but with positive encouragement and patience, there will be positive results.

Side Note for Yoga Teachers

Know the health condition of each student before he or she enters your class. If you do not understand anatomy, ailments, modifications, props, adjustments or how to help students with back conditions, you should refer prospective students to a competent yoga teacher or therapeutic sessions that will not cause injuries. Students with back problems do not belong in boot camp style classes.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of distance learning yoga teacher training courses, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.
If you are a teacher, yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Inspirational Yoga Lifestyle

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By Sangeetha Saran

How do people become inspired to practice or to become a certified yoga teacher? It's not our talk, it's our walk that counts. Think back about what first motivated you to walk the yogic path. Yogic history is filled with stories of individuals who inspired and taught others by overcoming tremendous odds. A number of books on these characters have been written among them are some of the oldest yogic texts known to exist.

What these characters all have in common is a dedication to the yogic lifestyle. Every individual’s faces adversity during their life, yoga training provides the tools to manage and conquer this adversity in a dignified way. Modern stories of people moving beyond physical, mental, and emotional challenges using yogic methods are equally compelling.

Honesty and Self-Awareness

This lifestyle demands honesty above all else. It’s natural to assume that this honesty relates to dealing with others, in a very real sense it does. The essence of yogic philosophy is not concerned with others; it relates to how people see themselves.

This honesty is a way of shaping all of a person’s perceptions. From the opinions we form, to the underlying reasons for the kinds of thoughts we have. Reaching the ultimate level of this kind of self-awareness requires a lifetime of dedicated work.

The Proactive Mindset

While we learn the art of mastering the self, yogic science challenges us to be honest in our relationships with other people and the world at large. Often it is easier to go through life in a passive way, not reacting to potential situations or what we see directly in front of us. The tragedy of living life this way is that when we are forced to suddenly react to situations instead of being proactive concerning our path in life. Sometimes, last second reactions are vastly disproportional to the situation at hand.

Finding Inspiration

In order to find an inspirational yogic figure all one needs to do is take an honest look around. Yoga schools are filled with such people - The person suffering with MS who uses the power of yoga to control their condition, for instance.

Additionally, the student who comes to yoga in order to enhance his or her knowledge of one's self can also be a heroic figure. When one begins the yogic journey, there are no guarantees as to what the outcome will be. Dedication and patience are required before any rewards can be reaped.

The ultimate power of yoga to inspire lies in its core mission of introspection; self-examination is the true path to living an inspirational lifestyle. Yoga provides the beginner or the experienced Yoga instructor with daily opportunities to examine the self and to improve upon it.

Yoga has many examples of heroes to choose from. Each has a personal story to tell. The choices we make as yoga practitioners may very well give us our own inspirational stories to tell.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yoga Exercises for Parkinson's Disease

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By Kimaya Singh

Can Yoga help people with Parkinson's disease? It's difficult to listen to promises and receive nothing in return. Yoga teachers are not all equal in knowledge or continuing education. Some can work with Parkinson's patients, but others can only teach flexible athletes because they really don't understand how the body works. How can there be such a difference? Each style is different in a approaching how exactly to run a 200 hour yoga instructor training program and that's all there is to it. Some trainings are geared to kick butt and some are designed to approach the therapeutic aspects of Yogic methodology.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a degenerative illness in the substantia nigra region of the brain, which controls muscle movement in the body. The part of the brain, which produces dopamine, fails to work. The effects of the disease get worse over time and the damaging loss of brain cells is irreversible. Patients typically suffer body-shaking tremors and have speech pathology problems. Unfortunately, the disease is not well understood enough to have a cure.

Around 60,000 cases of PD are diagnosed each year. 1.5 million cases have been found in total throughout America. At ages 55-60 the greatest loss of dopamine producing nerve cells occurs. Michael J. Fox is one of the most well known people with the disease. Many younger patients have it, but do not display tremor symptoms. They may only be able to operate at 20% less than their capacity for movement. Scientists are not positive if the cause is genetic or from toxic pollutants like pesticides. A patient with PD will begin to feel stiffness in their core during walking and other types of movement in general.

The John F. Kennedy Institute Of Denmark performed a medical study in 2002, which resulted in a 65% increase of short-term dopamine levels during restorative yoga exercises and poses. A 2005 pilot study at Cornell University showed wonderful results for patients with PD who saw major benefits just from their group interaction. They understood each other better than the doctors could.

Yoga training can help the dopamine deficient strengthen their muscles and keep their mind focused on the movement. Yogic methods help the mind concentrate on the center of the body. Yoga movements could help to re-route the brains neurological pathways. The mind learns to use new parts of the brain to perform the work of degenerated cells.

Yogic exercise routines should include only gentle and slow movements to strengthen the core. Lessons are preferable in a calm and non-stressful environment.

Yoga is only advised as a possible alternative or adjunct therapy to standard treatment. Patients who have akinesia (loss of movement), physical difficulty standing in a pose, or have balance problems, will not be able to rehearse typical asanas.

So what do you do? Find a chair, restorative or a vinyoga teacher or a therapist. A certified Yoga therapist can work with any person, whether they are in a wheelchair or a hospital bed. The best exercises to start with are seated pranayama, asana, relaxation, and meditation techniques. Seated techniques can be practiced on a chair, bench, couch or floor. If a patient is in a hospital bed, Yogic techniques can be practiced in supine or a propped up seated position.

Many patients who have PD can do more from standing positions, but an evaluation in the form of a private lesson, with family members welcome, is a good start. A private session let's everyone understand a safe starting point. From that point on, realistic goals can be set. 

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How Yoga Techniques Help Chemotherapy

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By Faye Martins

Chemotherapy (chemo) is an intensive medical procedure that is usually recommended by oncologists for their patients to prevent the growth or effects of different forms of cancer. During the process of chemotherapy it is very important that patients remain as physically fit and mentally alert as possible. Medical evidence supports the idea that the more chemo patients fight to maintain their health, the better the outcome of their treatment is.

Chemo weakens the body and the mind. As patients undergo their chemo routines, they lose weight and muscle tone. Steroids are given to patients to compensate for the negative effects of chemo. Anti nausea drugs are given, but they also cause constipation. These patients suffer from depression as well, while they are terminated by their employers and medical bills fill their mail boxes. Conventional medicine provides treatment in the form of pharmaceuticals. While these prescriptions alleviate the symptoms, they do not provide lasting results.

Doctors are warming up to the idea of using the benefits of yogic medicine as a means of restoring chemo patients to good health. Yogic science has the dual benefit of strengthening both the body and the mind. Chemotherapy patients need support in both of these vital areas.

Since chemotherapy drains the body, patients are often in no position to go through intensive physical exercise regimes. Restorative and therapeutic yoga training allows for low intensity workouts that focus on every muscle group in the body. What’s more, even someone who is restricted to a hospital bed can perform these exercises. As the body goes stronger, the intensity of restorative asana practice can be gradually increased, always at a level the patient can comfortably cope with.

In order to restore cognitive function during and after chemotherapy, psychotherapy and mental exercises are recommended. In these cases, a therapist works closely with a patient, measuring their progress and making adjustments accordingly. Yogic therapy works in a similar way. As yoga training demands ever-increasing levels of concentration, even the most basic of yogic positions trains the mind to focus intently on one goal. As chemo patients learn to hold their focus, their mental alertness increases steadily.

Depression is one of the most pernicious effects of chemotherapy. Patients undergoing radical changes to their bodies often find themselves unable to cope with these sudden changes. Yogic methodology enables patients to think critically and pragmatically about their experiences, and to develop a plan of action.

Very few medical therapies are as intimately intensive as that of chemotherapy. Chemo patients must deal with hourly assaults on their bodies as well as their spirits. Yogic practices are like nothing else and offer patients a strong methodology of confronting the effects of chemotherapy.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yoga Popularity – Will it Stop?

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By Faye Martins

Students are amazed at yoga's increasing popularity across the world. There are many books, magazines, and complete television shows devoted to yoga practice. There are plenty of DVDs devoted to Yogic exercises. The Internet is saturated with websites that speak volumes about the benefits of a Yogic lifestyle. Why does Yoga continue to increase in popularity while other forms of activity decrease or lose followers? Well, it is often difficult to explain in words to those who are not familiar with Yoga training methods. People who become involved with Yogic practices go through an amazing transformation that is very difficult to explain. Yoga Popularity - Will it stop? Judge for yourself.

Yoga is popular because it is an easy way to ease into an exercise program. Yoga schools do not require a variety of equipment or special type of clothing. Yogic techniques are suitable for a youngster and an older adult. The asanas (poses) are usually easy for many people to try and a certified Hatha Yoga instructor can teach anyone the modifications for a new student. Many students are amazed at the strength and flexibility they achieve while practicing the poses. Some find that physical complaints are resolved. They no longer experience aches and pains in their joints, back, or knees. Asanas involve the body and the mind. In fact, the practice is a complete fitness regiment for body, mind, and spirit.

Ask several people why they like to practice and you will probably receive several different answers. The most popular reasons revolve around finding a way to reduce stress or to feel less stress. It is true that we live in a world that is filled with too much stress. We find lots of stress at work and at home. This stress builds up in the body and causes all types of health concerns. Many find that sitting in a quiet space and practicing asana, meditation, and pranayama (Yogic breathing techniques) helps them to reduce the amount of chronic stress in their life.

Yoga also involves the mind and places the individual's attention right in the present moment. It is certainly difficult to think about problems at work, difficult kids, bad relationships, nagging in laws, when you are posing. Yogic methodology is an ancient healing practice that has its origins in India. The practice has achieved amazing popularity over the centuries. People who practice Yogic methods feel that they are definitely on an enlightened path to improved health and wellness, which suggest that Yoga is here to stay. 

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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