Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fingers Exercise To Health (3)

5. SHUNYA MUDRA -Mudra of Emptiness

Keep the middle finger at the mount of Venus and press it with thumb.

It reduces the dullness in our body.

Time Duration:
One can practice it for 40 to 60 minutes daily until to be cured from the disease.

It relieves an earache within 4 or 5 minutes.
It is useful for the deaf and mentally challenged, but not for inborn ones.

6. SURYA MUDRA - Mudra of Sun

Bend the ring finger and press it with thumb.

It sharpens the center in thyroid gland.

Time Duration:
Practice it daily twice for 5 to 15 minutes.

It reduces cholesterol in body and helps in reducing weight.
It reduces anxiety.
It corrects indigestion problems.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Habits Bring Inattention to Your Yoga Practice

Do you always place your mat or go to the same spot in the studio every time you attend a yoga class? I read an article where the writer, a yoga teacher wrote about doing yoga habitually with the same tone that one would be driving, sitting, reading or working. She observed her students falling into postures with little understanding of why and what they are doing as they move from their head rather than from their heart and from inner guidance. When the students do yoga habitually and mechanically, they are more likely to quickly grow bored with their practice.

She also wrote about yoga asanas being playgrounds to explore the balance of posture, lifting, energy and refining awareness. But often, due to poor habits of one’s practice, students react to their poses as though they are etched in stone. Whatever they did the last time they were in the pose, it is going to be the same. “This is where I was last time so this is all I can do today.”

From the article “Yoga as Self-Transformation”, the author writes about habits in the mind which tend to make us more "narrow-minded” resulting in being attached to a particular set of beliefs which limits the field of what is possible for our in life. The beliefs, values, headsets and even the wants that live in thought create self-images that determine what we think, imagine and therefore what we do. How much do memory, expectation, and immediate gratification affect the way you do yoga? What thoughts come up during your yoga practice? Are there postures you look forward to doing, while you avoid others? Do you hurry the ones you don't like to get them over with? Does your mind wander? Do you contemplate what posture to do next, how long you have left to go or what you're going to do after yoga? These types of thoughts may cross your mind while doing yoga. Naturally, they greatly influence how you do the pose and the quality of energy generated.

As I read the above articles, I realize that I am bringing some of these habits to my own yoga practice. I would normally go to the same spot in the studio and sometimes would not be willing to do a pose as I had not been able to do it previously. There are also times when my mind is wandering and I start to lose my focus which causes me to lose my balance in the pose. I know I have still a long way to learn to be fully present in the posture and learning how to let go - that it is the body that "decides" when to hold, when to back off, when to deepen and when to come out of the posture.

So the next time you step into your yoga class with your yoga mat, start by finding a spot that you haven’t sat in before and learn to leave your habits outside the door of the studio which is what I am going to do from now on.

Fingers Exercise to Health (2)

3. VARUNA MUDRA - Mudra of Water

Tip of little finger touches the tip of thumb, with the other three fingers stretched out.

It balances the water content and prevents all diseases which come due to lack of water.

Time Duration:
It has no specific time duration and one can practice it according to their time.

It retains clarity in blood by balancing water content in the body Prevents the pains of Gastroenteritis and Muscle Shrinkage.

4. VAYU MUDRA - Mudra of Air

Keep the index finger on the base of the thumb and press with thumb keeping the other three fingers straight.

It prevents all the diseases that occur due to the imbalance of the air.

Time Duration:
The practice of this mudra for 45 minutes reduces the severity of the disease in 12 to 24 hours. For better results practice it for two months.

It cures Rheumatism, Arthritis, Gout, Parkinson's disease and paralysis without any medicine.
It is useful for Cervical Spondilytis, paralysis to face and catching of nerve in neck.
It corrects the disorder of gas in the stomach.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fingers Exercise to Health (1)

I received an email about the ten important Mudras that can result in amazing health benefits and I will be sharing them here in my next few posts.

Your health is, quite literally, in your hands…. You can do the mudras anytime, anyplace – in the bus, train, car, office or at home.

1. GYAN MUDRA - Mudra of Knowledge

Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger, with the other three fingers stretched out.

As it is a mudra of knowledge, it enhances the knowledge. The tip of thumb has centers of pituitary and endocrine glands. When we press these centers by index finger the two glands work actively.

Time duration:
There is no particular time duration for this mudra. You can practice by sitting, standing or lying on bed whenever and wherever you have time.

Increases memory power and sharpens the brain.
Enhances concentration and prevents Insomnia.
If we practice it regularly, it will cure all psychological disorders like Mental, Hysteria, Anger and Depression.

2. PRITHVI MUDRA - Mudra Of Earth

Tip of the ring finger touches the tip of the thumb, with the other three fingers stretched out.

It reduces all physical weaknesses.

Time Duration:
It has no particular time duration. You can practice it any time you want.

It helps to increase the weight for weak people.
It improves the complexion of skin and makes the skin to glow.
It makes the body active by keeping it healthy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today is Earth Day

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment.

What are you doing to keep our Mother Earth safe?

Start today by committing yourself to take one daily action that will help to save our environment. It can be a pledge to use less water, turning off lights and appliances when they are not in use, printing on both sides of paper, recycling, planting more trees in your garden, etc. Click here to get more ideas on ways to save the environment.

Earth Day is a day of action and civic participation. So why not make a personal commitment to join the Green Generation by signing the Green Manifesto at Make this Earth Day the beginning of a new era of personal responsibility for preserving the Earth.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Yoga Pose For the Month - Triangle Pose

For the month of April, I have chosen Triangle Pose or Trikonasana to be my pose of the month.

The Triangle pose gives an excellent and complete stretch throughout the entire body as it stretches the hamstrings, the hips and the calves, improves overall balance and also strengthens the lower back.

The benefits of the Triangle pose include:-
•Removes tension from the neck as the neck muscles are given a twist while looking up.
•Reduces excess fat from the sides of the abdomen, thus giving the body a more graceful form.
•Improves posture.
•Increase flexibility of the waist and hip joints.
•Opens up the chest and expands it.
•Back muscles are strengthen, thus making the spine more supple.
•Relieves constipation by invigorating the peristaltic action of the bowels.

1.Standing in Tadasana (mountain pose), walk your feet approximately 4 feet apart. Your feet need to be in line and pointing forward at right angles.

2.Inhale and lift your arms out to the side at shoulder height, level with the ground. Palms are faced down.

3.Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and turn your left foot towards the right about 30 degrees. The right heel is in line with the back of the arch of the heel of the left foot. The right knee should be in line with the right ankle.

4.With an inhale, lengthen the spine and lift the chest, looking straight ahead.

5.Exhale and extend your torso to the right, bending from the hip joint, not the waist, allowing your hips to shift to the left. Slowly drop your right arm towards the lower leg, while stretching the left arm up towards the sky.

6.Rest your hand either on your thigh, shinbone, ankle or a block. Ground your legs into the floor, especially pressing through the back left heel. Keep your legs straight but do not lock your knees.

7.Keep the thighs firm and rolling around towards the buttocks, moving the left hip back and open the chest.

8.Inhale, extend the neck and spine, keep your head in a neutral position or, if your neck feels OK, turn your face to look up at your left hand. Make sure your chest is facing forward and keep opening your whole body up. Breathe easy.

9.To come out from the pose, inhale and lift the torso up. Turn your feet to the left, and repeat the pose on the left side, hold it for the same number of breaths as you did on the right.

Some points to note:
•It is important to keep the lower back straight in this pose.
•Remember that when you are twisting, the hips do not twist along. Otherwise the right hand side becomes active and the lower back gets “locked up” which will result in tension in the lower back.
•The right hand is only touching the right leg so you can reach the arm long and the shoulder reaching down which is countered by the left arm reaching long and upward.
•If you’re not sure you’re properly aligned, practice this pose with your heels about an inch away from the wall, allowing your shoulders, hands, and hips to touch it.

I was having some pain when I did the triangle pose especially when I leaned down, I felt pain at the back of my front thigh. I managed to get some advice from Judy Krupp, a yoga guru whose workshop I attended last year. She told me one of two things that could help. Firstly not to go down that low over the front leg if my hamstrings are tight. And secondly I might be holding my back hip up, not to square off the hips and to soften the back hip lightly forward. I followed her advice and adjusted the pose accordingly and it did help to ease the pain.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sun Salutation Workshop

Date : Sunday, 19 April 2009
Time : 9:00am - 12:30pm
Venue: SunYogaKL
145B Jalan Aminuddin Baki, Kuala Lumpur (please see location map)

Indra is an experience yoga teacher who gives emphasize on the holistic approach to well being. She believes that yoga will benefit for our hectic modern lifestyle on and off the mat. And this is the most suitable practice for busy people which unfortunately, given less attention in most of yoga classes.

You will learn how is sun affecting our daily life and history about sun salutation, the postures (asanas) from the very beginner level and moving to the final position, breathing techniques (pranayama), Chakra awareness, modifications for pregnant ladies and children, therapeutic benefit when practiced in the correct manner, and yoga relaxation (shavasana).

Fee: RM75/person (include light refreshment)
You can email for further details.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Life Enhancing Tips From Yoga

I find the tips below from Michael Myerscough, a professional speaker and relationship success coach to be very good guiding principles for my yoga practice. I have posted the tips here to share with you all and hope that you will also use them in your practice and in your life.

Top Ten Life Enhancing Tips From Yoga
by Michael Myerscough

Standing on a yoga mat, you strive for the physical. You take away each new posture like a prize. It’s a physical victory. Such is your concentration; it’s easy to overlook the other valuable things you learn on the mat, lessons that help you on your path through life. Here are some tips from my years of yoga teaching to help enhance your life beyond the yoga mat.

1. Stand on your own two feet

You've got to be able to stand on your own two feet. If you can do it with a bit of grace so much the better.

2. Have courage

Attaining postures may well be entertaining but it's not necessarily enlightening. Being able to do the perfect handstand does not change your life. The courage and tenacity that you build getting there does.

3. Take responsibility for where you are

Yoga promotes a sense of Awareness (ouch! My legs hurt), Acceptance (my hamstrings are short) and Responsibility (if I want longer hamstrings I can choose to commit to regular practise). Without these three qualities, progress is difficult.

4. Embrace a sense of calm

A calm, even breath will naturally promote a calm, even mind. Learn to control your breath and you’ll have control of your life.

5. Be an honest novice

Life is a lot less stressful if you can admit to being a beginner. You make life harder when you pretend to be able to do something you can’t. Yoga promotes an ability to tell the truth, because at any given time you can either do a posture or you can’t.

6. Get a sense of detachment

Even a person with both legs wrapped around their head can complain of feeling stiff. There are no good days or bad days, only our reaction to them.

7. Pursue Patience

Dynamic Yoga promotes a sense of lightness and grace in your life. We are all angels in training. Flight may be possible at some time, but not necessarily now.

8. Roll with it

If you lose your balance in a headstand it is much safer to roll out of it than struggle. Relaxed people bounce back more easily for the next challenge in life, creating a lot less noise and chaos.

9. Make space for yourself

Whatever time you find for doing yoga is time away from the noise of the world. It’s the quiet introspection that allows you to become aware of your internal wisdom.

10. Begin with the end in mind

In the beginning some postures can be intimidating. If you can keep in mind a sense of your destination and take regular steps toward it, you are more likely to get there.

© Copyright 2002 by Michael Myerscough ‘The Great Sex Coach’. All Rights Reserved.

"Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don't transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better."
~ Donna Farhi

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Toe Cramps and Yoga Sandals

The other evening, during one of our private yoga classes, my sister complained that she was having toe cramps. It had come on suddenly while she was doing a pose. I read that the usual culprit that causes toe cramps is ill-fitting shoes that are tighter than they should be in the toe area. Toe cramps tend to come on when feet have been confined to shoes for hours.

To alleviate toe cramps, you can do special exercises designed to strengthen the muscles. Try standing on tiptoes and raising your body up and then down repeatedly, using your toes to support you. Hold each position for five seconds. Another good exercise is to pick up marbles with your toes and relocate them to another spot on the floor.

Lila mentioned to us at the class that there are yoga sandals available in US which are designed to spread the toes apart like when they put those toes separators between your toes during pedicure. I surf the net and found the website Yoga Sandals Footwear which sells the yoga sandals which are NOT for wearing during yoga practice.

The yoga sandals use four toe separators to space each toe from its neighbour and the resulting separation opens up the bones in the feet and helps those bones become mobile. As the foot bones regain mobility, balance, body alignment and improved posture is restored, often resulting in reductions of leg, hip and back problems. It has received testimonials from pleased customers and podiatrists, doctors and chiropractors are using the sandals to help their patients improve posture, relieve hip and back problems and with other various foot disorders.

The yoga sandals are suitable for everyday wear and I find a few designs of the sandals quite nice. Wonder when these sandals will be available for sale in Malaysia!

Meanwhile, if you are interested to get a pair, you can always order them online – a pair cost about USD30 but the online store is having a super sale clearance section - up to 50% off for some of the sandals.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Yoga Injuries

My friend told me that she had injured her lower back at a yoga retreat. As she had been feeling pain whenever she does the forward bend, she had gone for a medical check-up and the doctor had informed her that she had a tear (muscle sprain) in her back muscle as she had overstrained herself.

Yoga has many benefits and is a great form of exercise but like any other exercises, if not done properly, it can also lead to injuries. You can reduce the risk of injury from yoga if you practice the following:-

Injury normally happens to yogis who have an attitude of competition and wanting to show off. Trying to do a challenging pose when you are not strong or flexible enough will only increase your risk to injury. Always remember that yoga should be practiced with patience, surrender, acceptance and awareness.

Know your limitations. It's better to practice a partial pose with good alignment than to push it into a full pose with poor alignment and face the risk of possible injury. Performing certain poses incorrectly year over year can create permanent damage.

Previous Injuries
If you have any existing physical problems or previous injuries, tell the teacher before the start of the class so that he or she can provide you with any modifications or alternatives to the poses.

Danger Signals
Listen to your body. If you are experiencing pain or exhaustion, stop or take a break. Danger signals include exaggerated breathing or having to open your mouth to breath, shaking beyond control and collapsing in the pose.

When yogis forget that two-thirds of the practice is going in and coming out of poses with control, they risk tweaking or creating new injuries. When you are ready to come out of a pose, always come down mindfully and with full control.

The most common injuries which occurred during yoga are caused by repetitive strain or over stretching and occur at the wrist, shoulder, neck, along the spine, hamstrings, knees and at the sacroiliac joint.

Types of Yoga Injuries

Neck: Poses like "plow," "shoulder stand" and "headstand" can be risky, because if done improperly they can put undue pressure on the neck. Beginners should try these poses only under the close supervision of an experienced teacher.

Wrists: If your wrists are strained or you have carpal tunnel syndrome, asanas such as Plank pose, Chaturanga Dandasana, Upward Dog pose and Downward Dog pose will cause you pain and further injury. There are variations for these common poses which involve the wrist such as doing the Downward Dog with the forearms on the floor and Upward Dog done on fists instead of open palms eliminates the extension of the wrist, which can often lead to wrist pain.

Knees: Don't force your knees into Lotus or other vulnerable positions. Without adequate hip-joint flexibility you could tear a meniscus (cartilage) or you could stretch or tear one of the knee ligaments.

Lower Back: Forward and backward bends and twists, if done incorrectly, can result in back damage. Listen carefully to instructions and bend your knees to take pressure off the lower back.

Inversion Poses: Inversion poses like shoulder stand and headstand put the head lower than the heart and raise blood pressure. Refrain from these poses if you have cardiovascular problems, hypertension, diabetes or glaucoma.

Click here to read the article “Insight From Injury” from Yoga Journal.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yoga for Round Bodies

If you have not tried yoga and think that yoga is only for people with thin bodies, think again!

Yoga will help you to embrace your curves as it will help you to focus on how your body feels and not how it looks. Studies report that women who do yoga have better self-esteem and fewer eating disorders than those who stay in shape by running or attending gym classes. And regular practice of the asanas (poses) may in fact lower blood pressure, improve circulation and balance and build strength. Yoga also develops peace of mind, self-acceptance and greater body awareness.

Plus-size instructor Megan Garcia has modified poses in her book MegaYoga (DK, 2006) and these four, common in yoga classes, account for ample body parts.

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Effect: Wide knees in this relaxing, back-stretching pose allow for deep breathing.
How to: Drop your hips to your heels, spreading your knees wide enough to make room for your chest and belly. Reach your arms forward, and rest your forehead down. If your head doesn’t reach the floor, stack your fists, and place your forehead on them. If your knees hurt, place a pillow on top of your calves, and sit back on it.

2. Dolphin Pose
Effect: An alternative to Headstand and Downward Dog, Dolphin increases blood flow to the brain, opens shoulders and upper back, and stretches hamstrings.
How to: Begin on your hands and knees. Lower your elbows to the mat directly under your shoulders. Rest your forearms on the floor, and clasp your hands. Exhale as you lift your hips up toward the ceiling, straightening your legs and lowering your heels as close to the floor as possible. Take five deep breaths, and release your head and neck completely.
Breast-Binding Tip: A yoga strap can keep your breasts from falling into your face when you’re upside down. Buckle the strap into a loop; slip it over your head and shoulders and under your armpits. Tighten the loop so it compresses the breasts and won’t slip during the inversion.

3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Effect: Strength and balance without knee strain; promotes confidence
How to: Position a chair to your right with the seat facing away from you. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, right hand on the chair. Exhaling, lunge your left leg back to a wide, but comfortable distance. Face forward. Keep your right foot parallel to the mat’s edges and pigeon-toe your left foot in slightly, resting your right hand on the chair for balance. Bend your right knee deeply (your knee should not come forward of your ankle) and look straight ahead or over your right arm. Hold the pose for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.

4. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
Effect: Opens hips, improves balance, builds leg and core strength
How to: Start with your back against a wall. Put a yoga block in front of your right foot, and step your feet apart, turning your right foot out 90 degrees (parallel to the wall). Bend your right knee; pick up a block with your right hand and move it about a foot in front of your right leg, against the wall. With most of your weight on your right leg, simultaneously straighten that leg and raise your left leg up until it’s parallel to the floor (if possible). Your left leg, hips, shoulders, and head should rest against the wall. Reach your left arm up toward the ceiling, and turn your belly and chest toward the ceiling, too. Look up at your left hand or straight ahead. Breathe here for five breaths and repeat on other side.
Tip: For extra support, use a chair instead of a block, resting your hand on the seat.

Learn more about how to modify yoga poses for larger bodies by reading this article from ehow.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yoga for Osteoporosis

I read from the Gaiam blog about an on-going study on Yoga for Osteoporosis being conducted by Dr Loren Fishmen and his study partner, Ellen Saltonsall. They found that yoga poses act on the bones by “applying forces of opposing muscle groups to them that greatly exceed gravity, stimulating bone cells (osteocytes) to create more bone.” They also suggest that yoga greatly improves arthritic joints by circulating synovial fluid, and stimulating all of the connective tissues around the joints, helping to mobilize these stagnant tissues.

Dr Fishman said that there is a magic number to initiate this process of new bone growth. "72 seconds". Yes, you must hold your pose for 1 minute and 12 seconds to reap the benefits. This should be approached gradually, as building up the strength to maintain a pose for 72 seconds may take months — but it will be well worth it. Plus, you will be rewarded with less stress (the anxiety-producing kind) and improved breathing, sleep and coordination. You have nothing to lose … and you can gain bone density!

You can visit this website for the twelve poses which can help to prevent and treat osteoporosis and osteopenia.