Everybody has his own idea of what Yoga is. Some believe it to be an Eastern religion while others view it as a strenuous workout.
Neither perception is entirely true because Yoga is comprised of many separate disciplines. Most of us know the 21st century versions of Yoga, but we may not fully understand the intentions of those who created Yoga many, many years ago.
If more people fully knew the foundation of Yoga – from beginning to present -many might be more inclined to take up the practice.
One misconception of Yoga is that this historical practice dates back to the beginning of human civilization. In truth, the evidence of Yoga Poses illustrated on rocks show us that Yoga was developed close to the year 3000 B.C. However, academicians suspect that Yoga’s roots began in Shamanism during the Stone Age.
This is so thought because of the similarities between Shamanism and Yoga. Both practices focused on the health and well-being of humans, while inserting certain religious ideals within the customs that were intended to reach a broad range of humans.
When first invented, Yogic rituals were directed towards entire communities rather than used as a means of self improvement. Yoga’s history can be divided into four time periods, including the Vedic Period, the Pre-Classical Period, the Classical Period, and finally the Post-Classical Period.
The first period, titled the Vedic Period, is defined by the holy writings of Brahmanism called the Vedas, which set the tone for present-day Hinduism.
The Vedas were a compilation of worship songs that recognized an almighty power and encompassed the most ancient teachings of Yoga. Even today, the lessons taught from the Vedas are recognized as Vedic Yoga. The principals of Vedic Yoga are characterized by the customs and functions that allow the mind to broaden.
The Vedic people welcomed Rishis (shamans) and Vedic Yogis to instruct them on how to live in order to meet the standards of divinity and togetherness that the Vedas set forth. Rishis also had the power to view the paramount actuality by means of spiritual customs.
Yogi’s felt that they could best express themselves by living in a quiet, secluded place close to nature. Therefore they established their domiciles in forests.
BREATHE HOW TO BREATHE PROPERLY
The breath is one of the most important aspects of Yoga. Breathing regulates your state of mind, your emotions, your concentration, as well as a variety of other things.
Breathing also affects our daily emotional state, concentration; stress level, and believe it or not, our sleeping patterns. Learning to breathe the right way will help us to be healthier, calmer and give us the ability to handle stressful life situations. Plus it makes you feel better!!!
The diaphragm is the membrane that separates the lungs from the stomach. When we breathe in, our lungs fill up with air pushing the diaphragm down, which in turn makes the abdomen protrude out. During exhalation, the abdomen retreats in automatically.
To be sure you breathe correctly, you must divide the breath into three parts; lower abdomen, middle abdomen, and chest.
When inhaling, first fill up the lower abdomen with air, then the middle abdomen, and last the chest. When exhaling, the air in the chest goes out first, then the air in the middle abdomen, and lastly the air in the lower abdomen. You must physically push the abdomen out when inhaling, and in when exhaling. However, when done correctly, there is no need to pull the abdomen in because it is done effortlessly.
You can compare inhalation to filling up a glass of water. The first thing to be filled up is the bottom of the glass (lower abdomen), then the centre part of the glass (the middle abdomen), and finally the top of the glass (chest). Likewise, exhaling can be compared to drinking the glass of water. First we drink the water in the top (chest), and second the middle part of the glass (the middle abdomen), and last the water in the bottom (lower abdomen).
For most people, due to society pressures, breathing is done exactly opposite of how it should be done. Studies show us that around 40% of people breathe incorrectly. Breathing incorrectly has definite negative consequences in that you could develop future illnesses. If you can consciously breathe the right way by forcing the abdomen out during inhalation your body will soon pick up this rhythm.
How the Nostrils Work:-
When you are healthy both nostrils are constantly working simultaneously while you are breathing through your nose. However, one nostril is always more dominant than the other. Strangely, the dominant nostril switches every two and a half hours!
There is an actual science of nostril breathing called SwaraYoga.
This type of yoga explains that when one nostril is predominant, the other side of the brain is dominant. For example, if your right nostril is dominant, the left side of your brain will be dominant as well.
The right nostril is directly related to the sympathetic part of the brain, the “fight or flight” mechanism. On the other side, the left nostril is directly related with the parasympathetic part of the brain, the “rest and repair” mechanism.
According to this, breathing through the right nostril will make you tap into a more energetic state of mind, and breathing through the left nostril will make you relax and calm down.
In today’s world there is a tendency to use more of the “fight or flight” mechanism. This results in an unbalanced state of mind by creating more stress and lowering our immunologic defences.
Fortunately, there are different basic breathing sets. Pranayamas will help you to regain balance and will even allow the yogi to tap into elevated states of being.
You should be able to switch nostrils by concentrating on them. The left side is directly related with calmness, and the right nostril with energy.
So if you cannot sleep at night, lie down on your right side, apply slight pressure to the right nostril and breathe through the left.
Yogi Bhajan used to teach us that, when having an argument; it would be wise to wait two-and-a-half hours. After the break, return to the initial argument and you will see that your whole mental strategy of the abdomen out. This type of breath is done in a fast pace.
Relaxes the body and mind
Detoxifies the body
Meditation on the Breath
This is a wonderful meditation to perform when stressed, upset, or in a state of fear.
Start by closing your eyes and meditating on the breath. Feel the flow of air entering and leaving the body. Receive every breath as a gift of life.
Use the mantra “Sat Nam”. “Sat” means truth beyond time and space, and “Nam” means identity.
Be grateful and slow down your breath by breathing completely and using the full capacity of your lungs.
Breathing less than eight times per minute will have such effects like making the pituitary gland secrete. This also stimulates intuition and gives you more awareness. The pituitary gland is also known as the master gland because it regulates nine different glands.
Breathing for less than four times per minute will put you in a meditative state.
Breathe Chart (IN SECONDS)
EFFECT INHALE HOLD EXHALE HOLD
Relaxing 4 1 8 4
Relaxing 4 1 12 1
Relaxing 6 1 10 1
Relaxing 6 1 8 4
Balanced 8 1 8 1
Balanced 6 2 6 2
Energizing 6 4 6 1
Energizing 6 6 6 1
Basic Sitting Positions:-
1 Correct Position –
The most important aspect of sitting is to find the most appropriate pose, depending on the physical challenges of the person. Although some exercises can be performed better in one position over another, there are always variations that can be done instead. You need to start simple and build up from there.
One of the most important aspects to remember no matter what position you choose is to keep the spine straight. Do not bend forward or back but remain neutral. This position of the spine is optimum to allow the flow of energy (Kundalini), to take place. This neutral position – it is the most advisable position while meditating.
In the beginning, most people feel a tingling sensation as they go to “sleep”. This is due to the cut off of circulation while the legs are crossed. With time, the yogi will be able to spend longer periods of time without moving. If you are a beginner, just remember the first limb of Patanjali, “Ahimsa”, which means non- violence, and starts with yourself. You are in this path to enjoy the process not to get burned out on the first day.
In the end, not one sitting pose is better than another. It is about finding the one that suits you the best. Once you find stability in your practice, you will be able to sit for longer periods of time without moving, and without pain. Stability of your practice will bring you stability of the mind and stability of the mind will bring you stability in happiness. Basic Sitting Positions are as under:
2 SUKASANA OR EASY POSE
Easy pose is one of the most commonly used of the sitting poses. This is done by sitting on the buttocks, crossing the legs, and keeping the spine straight. It doesn’t matter which leg you choose to place underneath the other.
3 VAJRASANA OR ROCK POSE
This position is called “rock pose” because it is said that when you master this sitting pose you will be able to digest a rock. This pose is done by sitting on the heels, pressing on the buttocks nerves, and keeping the spine straight. Some people find this sitting pose easier than others. This is a fantastic pose to practice after eating or when experiencing stomach discomfort because it facilitates digestion.
4 Siddhasana or Perfect Pose
This wonderful sitting pose deals with the nervous system and directs sexual energy. It is done by bending the left leg and placing that foot on the spot between the sex organ and the rectum. Next, bend the right leg on top placing the toes on the back of the left knee, leaving the big toe to be seen. And of course keep the spine straight!
5 LOTUS POSE (Full Lotus)
Most people have heard about “lotus pose”. This may be due to its beautiful name and mysticism that comes from the lotus flower. This position could also be well known because of the physical challenge it poses. Whatever the reason, the “lotus pose” gives you tremendous stability and concentration.
This is one of the sitting poses you build up with time, and therefore should not be practiced by people with knee injuries. Beginners can start practicing “half lotus” or other variations.
This pose is done by sitting on the buttocks placing one foot on top of the opposite thigh with both legs, while keeping the spine straight. It is your choice which leg you put first.
6 Half Lotus
This sitting pose is a moderate variation of the full “lotus pose”. There are two options; bend one leg and place the foot of the bend leg on top of the opposite thigh. The other leg is bent, bringing the heel towards the buttocks, as in A. Or you can sit on the heel of the other leg as in B. And as in all the sitting poses keeping the spine straight is very important. It doesn’t matter which leg you choose to place on top of the opposite thigh, you can practice with both.
This pose is not advisable for people with knee injuries.
7 Sitting In A Chair
This pose is as good as any other pose and normally used when none of the other ones are physically possible. However, this pose may be too comfortable so remain alert! Choose a good, firm chair with a straight back to support your spine. Sit in a chair placing both feet flat on the floor and keeping the spine straight.
This is a very good option for people with knee injuries, or any other physical challenges that may be very painful while practicing other poses.
8 Bound Lotus
This may be one of the most physically challenging sitting poses, which is why it is advisable to build up slowly. This pose is done by sitting in full lotus pose, bringing your leg on top of the opposite thigh as high as possible. Grab the right foot with the right hand and the left foot with the left hand.
Press the big toe with your fingers because this will stimulate the pituitary gland. Bring your chin in too. This position brings glandular balance, and deep concentration.
For some people it takes a long time, determination, and effort to be comfortable in this position. So, why bother? Well, the healing benefits of this position are unbelievable.
9 Thirty Degree Slant
This sitting pose creates some pressure at the third eye and at the four lumbar vertebrae. It is done by sitting on the buttocks in easy pose, or full lotus pose. Eyes remain semi open for meditation. Lean back 30 degrees, different from slump back, maintaining the spine straight.
10 Lion Pose
Good for problems with the teeth, tongue, or jaw. Also good at times when you have a sore throat. When emulating the sound of a Lion, this links the three bhandas and improves eyesight.
How to do it:
Bend the knees and place feet straight, heels touching the anus, hands in the lap, or on the knees. Stick your tongue out all the way out.
In the nut shell, the main focus should be on doing meditation regularly and comfortably and for this the pose best suited in view of individual preferences should be selected for doing meditation regularly.