Meditation

What Is International Day of Yoga

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA

The International Day of Yoga was declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Dec 11, 2014 as a promotion for global health, harmony and peace. June 21st was chosen to celebrate International Day of Yoga because it is The Summer Solstice. The Summer Solstice is the day with the most hours of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere and symbolizes light, clarity, and wisdom.

The Sanskrit meaning of the word yoga means to join or unit. Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit with the consciousness of peace for all living beings. The theme for International Day of Yoga is Yoga for Peace. International Day of Yoga is acknowledged worldwide and celebrated with the practice of yoga and meditation to serve as a connecting tool between countries and people of differences.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Article written by Anson Bingham
Read more articles written by Anson Bingham at www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

The Benefits of Yoga

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The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is the oldest and most complete system of personal development in the world. Yoga is a life science that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Yoga helps encourage proper breathing, calms the mind, reduces stress and anxiety, aligns muscles and bones, increases flexibility of the spine, strengthens bones and stimulates the circulatory and immune systems. 

Meditation is the practice of constant observation of the mind to discover the infinite knowledge and wisdom within oneself. Proper breathing techniques set the body's mental and physical energy in motion to revitalize both body and mind.

Yoga is a Science Not a Religion

Yoga is a life science that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Yoga physical exercises, known as asanas (yoga postures or poses) have a positive effect on all parts of the body. The asanas enhance the flexibility of the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and stimulate circulation.

Yoga exercises have a rejuvenating effect on the whole organism and are thus incomparable to any other system. When performed slowly and with awareness, the asanas give a sense of physical well-being. At the same time, they are a mental exercise in concentration and meditation.

Yoga for Good Health

Yoga exercises are primarily focused on the health of the spine. The spine is the base of the central nervous system, the body’s communication system. The spine is a direct extension of the brain, so a healthy, straight spine promotes the health of the entire body.

Keeping the spine strong and flexible through proper exercise stimulates blood circulation, ensures an adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen to the nerves, and maintains the ideal weight of the body.

The Flow of Prana (Life Force Energy)

Asanas stimulate the acupuncture zones of the body. When these points are activated, the flow of prana (life energy) increases. Performing the asanas massages the internal organs and boosts organ function.

Together with the yoga exercises of deep breathing, relaxation and concentration, asanas can help us develop control over the mind. The mind – by nature restless and always following sense impressions – is directed inwards, withdrawn from the objects of the senses and gradually brought under control.

The Physical Benefits of Yoga

Improves flexibility and balance
Increases muscle strength, endurance and stamina
Improves respiration, energy and vitality
Reliefs pain, including migraine headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain
Maintains a balanced metabolism and helps with weight reduction
Regulates adrenal glands and boosts immunity
Reduces blood pressure and improves cardio and circulatory health
Relieves osteoporosis and arthritis pain
Decreases cholesterol levels and improves heart function
Improves circulation, increases blood flow and drains lymphs
Creates a healthy digestive system
Helps strengthen and protect the body from injury
Improves posture, strengthens and protects the spine
Improves athletic performance

The Mental Benefits of Yoga

Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
Creates calmness of the mind
Increases body awareness
Creates mental clarity
Sharpens concentration

Article written by Anson Bingham
Read more articles written by Anson Bingham at www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: ansonbingham.com, sivananda.org, dlshq.org, sivanandaonline.org

The History of Rudraksha Beads

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The History of Rudraksha Beads

Rudraksha tree and seed both are called Rudraksha. In Sanskrit Rudraksham means Rudraksha fruit as well as Rudraksha tree. Rudraksha tree grows on mountains and hilly region of Nepal, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra and Burma. Its leaves are green in colour and the fruits are brown in color and sour in taste.

The Rudraksha fruits also adorn the human beings because of spiritual values. From ancient times, the power of Holy Rudraksha beads have been scripted in various religious texts like Shiv Maha Purana, Shrimad Devi, Padma Purana, Linga Purana Bhagwat, Ashtamalikopnishad, Nirnaya Sindhu, Mantra Maharnava, Mahakaal Samhita, Rudraksha Jabalopnishad, Vrihajjabalopnishad, Shiva Swarodaya and Sarvollastantra.

As per ancient Indian scriptures mentioned above Rudraksha is evolved from the eyes of Lord Shiva hence, it’s called Rudraksha. Rudra means Shiva and Akshameans eyes. Aksha also means a group of alphabets in Sanskrit called (Varna). As per details found in Halayudh Kosha (Ancient Scripture) letters from A to kshathat is 51 letters are called Aksha. Therefore, Rudraksha can be called as a seed in which a group of Sanskrit letters called Varna reside.

Rosary made out of Rudraksha Beads in the auspicious numbers like (108+1, 54+1, 27+1) is called Rudraksha Mala. The +1 bead is called as Sumeru (it is not crossed while chanting) which is considered as boundary for returning in reverse direction for further counting. Mala is used for wearing as well as for purpose of Japa (Chanting Mantra for Spiritual attainments).

Article written by Anson Bingham Anson Bingham.com

Source: ansonbingham.com, omshivaloka.com, wananbeads.com

The Benefits of Rudraksha Beads

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The Benefits of Rudraksha Beads

  • Rudraksha change the karma of the wearer, leading a person naturally to the right path of truth and purpose, making the pace along the path quicker and progress easier.

  • They are effective in controlling stress, thus help in eradicating worries and blessing the wearer with greater peace of mind. In over 6,500 years of documented use, Rudraksha have been shown to produce no negative side effects.

  • Rudraksha bring clarity, sharpen the mind, and increase the power of Intuition.

  • They create powerful “protection circles” from negativity and remove obstacles along the path to your success.

  • Rudraksha charge the soul with shakti (spiritual power), increasing the soul’s own radiance and its ability to more fully express its divine power & wisdom in the material world.

  • They create a more intimate connection with the positive forces in nature and the cosmos, help to heal the vital energies and bring them into harmonious balance.

  • Rudraksha are scientifically proven to have many health benefits.

What is a Rudraksha Bead?

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What is a Rudraksha Bead?

Rudraksha is a natural seed, found within the vibrant blue fruit of the evergreen Elaeocarpus ganitrus, it is indigenous to the Himalayas across India and Nepal. It also flourishes in other areas of Southeast Asia, where the volcanic soil is conducive to its growth. Rudraksha literally means “the tears of Shiva”. The varieties of Rudraksham range from 1-36 faces (mukhis). The most common of these beads is the 5-faced Mukhi bead. The greater the number of faces, the rarer the bead.


Article written by Anson Bingham Anson Bingham.com

Source: ansonbingham.com, omshivaloka.com, wananbeads.com

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

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The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga, which literally means eight-limbed yoga is a system outlined in the yoga sutras attributed to the ancient sage Patanjali.

The yoga sutras are general guidelines for spiritual growth through right living, and are universal. They are not beliefs, but methods that can be tested by each practitioner to see for himself or herself if they actually have the benefits that they claim.

The sutras consist of eight limbs or requirements to achieve full self-realization. They are not practiced in order, but are all developed together as one progresses on the spiritual path. Meditation is one such technique that helps a spiritual practitioner to develop in these areas.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

  1. Yamas (Rules of conduct) Sanskrit for "moral discipline" Spontaneous evolutionary behavior of conscious beings

  2. Niyama (Rules of personal behavior) Sanskrit for "moral observance" The internal dialogue of conscious beings

  3. Asana (Physical postures) Sanskrit for "body posture" Mind-body integration

  4. Pranayama (Breath control) Sanskrit for "breath control" Neurorespiratory integration; awareness and integration of the rhythms, seasons, and cycles of our life

  5. Pratyahara (Control of the senses) Sanskrit for "withdrawal of the senses" Tuning into our subtle sensory experiences

  6. Dharana (Mind control) Sanskrit for "concentration" Evolutionary mastery and expression of  attention and intention

  7. Dhyana (Meditation) Sanskrit for "meditation" Resonating at the junction point between the personal and the universal

  8. Samadhi (Absorption) Sanskrit for "bliss" Settled in pure awareness; the progressive expansion of the self

Yama - A yama (YAH-mah) is one of a set of ethical standards that offers guidance on how we act toward others. "The Yoga Sutras" lists five yamas:

"Ahimsa" — Sanskrit for "non-harming"

"Satya" — Sanskrit for "refraining from dishonesty"

"Asteya" — Sanskrit for "non-stealing"

"Brahmacharya" — Sanskrit for "wise use of sexual energy"

"Aparigraha" — Sanskrit for "non-possessiveness"

Niyama - Similar to the yamas, the niyamas are also codes of conduct for living. A niyama (nee-YAH-mah) is one of a set of moral observances toward oneself. Turning your awareness inward helps prepare you for the later, more internally focused limbs. "The Yoga Sutras" lists five niyamas:

"Saucha" — Sanskrit for "purity"

"Santosha" — Sanskrit for "contentment"

"Tapas" — Sanskrit for "self-discipline"

"Svadhyaya" — Sanskrit for "self-study"

"Ishvara pranidhana" — Sanskrit for "surrender to a higher source"

Asana - Literally meaning "seat" or "sitting posture," asana (AHH-suh-nuh) refers to a body position used in a yoga practice. Through practicing asanas, you learn discipline and concentration which are necessary for the later limbs. Moving and stretching your body also helps you prepare for long periods of seated meditation.

Pranayama - Pranayama (prah-nah-YAH-muh) can be translated as "restraint of the breath," it refers to more than simply holding your inhalations. In yoga, the life force energy is called "prana." Practicing pranayama includes yogic breath control and regulation techniques. These exercises are intended to manipulate the flow of prana in order to bring about steadiness of mind and changes in consciousness.

Pratyahara - Literally meaning "withdrawal of the senses," pratyahara (praht-yah-HAHR-uh) is the practice of tuning out the distractions of the outside world. Focusing your mind inward allows you to detach from the trials and fluctuations of life and see their challenges in a new light. You can view your habits and patterns more objectively, becoming aware of things the way they are, instead of reacting to the world.

Dharana - Dharana (dahr-AHN-uh) is the practice of concentration or complete attention. It’s the ability to focus entirely on a single point — to be completely in the moment. Once you have withdrawn your senses through pratyahara, you can slow down your thoughts and concentrate on a single thing. Athletes often refer to this mental space as being "in the zone." You can practice dharana by bringing your attention to a single sensation, object, or thought.

Dhyana - Dhyana (dee-YAHN-uh), you turn your focus entirely inward. This is the practice of deep meditation to attain self-realization. In this second-to-last stage of yoga, you become aware of the flow of all life and existence. Unlike the single-pointed concentration of dharana, dhyana is awareness without a singular focus. Your mind becomes still and your thoughts cease. You simply are.

Samadhi - Literally meaning "a putting together," samadhi (sah-MAHD-hee) is supreme bliss; the highest stage of meditation. Also understood as spiritual ecstasy or enlightenment, samadhi is the state in which you transcend your lower self and merge with the universe. You become aware of your connection to all living things, to your higher self, and to the Divine. The freedom, joy, and fulfillment brought forth through samadhi creates peace, internally and in the world. It is the ultimate "goal" of yoga.

Article written by Anson Bingham
Read more articles written by Anson Bingham at www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: ansonbingham.com, sivananda.org, dlshq.org, sivanandaonline.org, ananda.org

About Mindfulness Meditation

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Background of Mindfulness

Vipassana is a Buddhist attention training that aims to bring people into an experience of present existence, as it really is. This has been applied in Buddhism for 2,000 years as a specific Buddhist meditation technique. In the Western medical and / or psychotherapeutic context, mindfulness became known through American researcher, Jon Kabat-Zinn molecular biologist and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts.

He derived the term mindfulness from the Vietnam monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who was banned from his country of origin during the Vietnam War and lived in France, among other places. He trained others in the training of attention according to Buddhist teachings in the sixties. Many other Buddhist monks also taught Vipassana in its pure form, which eventually led to many Western practitioners, of what was later called mindfulness. Nowadays, mindfulness is used in, among other things, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

Conscious Attention

Mindfulness means giving conscious attention to this moment and being aware and perceptive without judgement. Despite it being derived from the Eastern Buddhism, mindfulness is used in Western psychotherapy where stress reduction is central. This philosophy has been shown to be an effective instrument to combat stress.

Through mindfulness, people who experience a high degree of stress due to, for example, a burn-out, learn how to better deal with stress. This philosophy is being fully present with full attention to the moment. Not thinking too much about the past or the future. It is about the here and now. Through mindfulness, one learns to deal with stress and tension, which can lead to worrying about the future.

Acceptance

Although mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, practitioners don’t necessarily have to have knowledge of Buddhism, Vipassana, Yoga or other meditation techniques. One of the most important elements is to reach acceptance. In the West, people are very much driven by the things they need and what is expected of them.

With this philosophy one learns to accept that certain things in life can not be controlled and that it is not necessary to constantly be in control. It’s mainly about learning to deal with situations that you are not able to control. Mindfulness is therefore the state of mind that is typified by the awareness of one’s own physical experiences, feelings and thoughts without immediately giving in to automatic responses. To work towards full mindfulness, one follows training, meditation and other attention exercises.

Characteristics of Mindfulness

Mindfulness refers, on the one hand, to training in which one learns to live more consciously and to deal with stressful thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, it is a form of meditation, in which one becomes aware of the physical and mental sensation and situation of the moment in a non-reactive manner. The conscious attention is central to this. More features of this philosophy include:

  • Being present in the here and now

  • Observation without judgement

  • Acceptance of what is

Mindfulness has all of the above ingredients. One learns to live with their own human unrest, including irritation, impatience, frustration, anger and sorrow. Through mindfulness one learns how to cope with everything that leads to unrest.

Complaint reduction

Mindfulness is often offered in training sessions and helps people get rid of stress, learn better how to handle stress, become more focused and happier, enjoy more, work more effectively and sleep better. These are a number of topics that lead to complaint reductions. In addition, mindfulness training also results in the following:

  • Reducing stress and therefore better dealing with stressful situations

  • Improving concentration and performance

  • Being able to relax

  • Positive self image

  • Reduction of fear and anxiety

  • Reduction of feelings of depression

  • Reduction of sleeplessness

Due to Mindfulness, a shift in brain activity takes place from the left to the frontal cortex, which results in less fear. People who have had a depression more than three times in their life have a 50% less chance of relapse after following a mindfulness training.

Practice

A mindfulness training deals with some theory in combination with (meditation) exercises. After a mindfulness training, candidates receive a lot of exercises that they can use at home, including meditation exercises.

Practice makes perfect and in order to achieve the right mindset it is important to practice daily. Through mindfulness one learns to see things as they really are. The exercises concern perceiving, giving attention, not judging and accepting.

Article written by Mulder, P.  Source: toolshero.com

What is Mindfulness?

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What is Mindfulness?

Though the word mindfulness was originally coined by Buddhist scholar T. W. Rhys Davids in 1910 translating the Theravada Buddhist term sati, mindfulness arose in popular use throughout the 1980s and 1990s when Jon Kabat-Zinn created Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979.

Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as, "the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment."Today, mindfulness practices are in wide use throughout the fields of psychology and therapy and its clinical and physiological effects have been observed to aid in focus, attention and stress management.

A 2010 meta-analysis published in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology found significant effectiveness of mindfulness on patients with depression and anxiety as well. Universities around the world continue to study the effects of mindfulness and are able to track its affect on the mind in real-time using functional MRI (fMRI) technology.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures the small changes in blood flow that occur with brain activity. It may be used to examine the brain's functional anatomy, (determine which parts of the brain are handling critical functions), evaluate the effects of stroke or other disease, or to guide brain treatment. fMRI may detect abnormalities within the brain that cannot be found with other imaging techniques.

Article written by Nicholas Fuller. Source: Jon Kabat-Zinn, psychologytoday.com, annualreviews.org

The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  • Improving concentration and performance

  • Being able to relax

  • Positive self image

  • Reduction of fear and anxiety

  • Reduction of feelings of depression

  • Reduction of sleeplessness

  • Eases symptoms of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, anger and hostility

  • Reduces levels of stress

  • Helps with insomnia

  • Reduces blood pressure

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Reduces activity in the craving-related area of the brain

  • Improves pain related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Enhances immune system function

  • Improves quality of sleep

  • Improve attention

  • Manage chronic pain

  • Help prevent depression

What is Meditation

Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati

Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati

What is Meditation

Meditation is a technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness. Meditation is the practice of constant observation of the mind to discover the infinite knowledge and wisdom within oneself. Positive thinking and meditation are the keys to peace of mind. Meditation is the method used to calm and focus the mind.

Regular practice promotes not only mental equanimity, but physical and spiritual well-being as well. Before we can meditate, though, we need to center the mind through concentration techniques and positive thinking. A mind full of negative thoughts and feelings is hard to calm down. By controlling the movements of the mind, we can eliminate negative thought patterns and reach the meditative super-conscious state

Meditation is a state of consciousness that can only be understood through direct experience and intuition. Unlike our everyday experiences, which are limited by time, space and by the laws of causality, the state of meditation transcends all limitations. In meditation, past and future dissolve. What remains is the single consciousness of ‘I am’ in the endless, eternal Now.

The Benefits of Practicing Meditation

  • Eases symptoms of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, anger and hostility

  • Promotes emotional health

  • Reduces levels of stress

  • Helps control pain

  • Lengthens attention span

  • Helps with insomnia

  • Reduces blood pressure

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Reduces activity in the craving-related area of the brain

  • Improves pain related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Enhances immune system function

  • Keeps the body youthful and prevents early aging

  • Creates happiness and harmony

  • Reduces age-related memory loss

  • Creates new patterns of thinking

  • Helps fight addictions

Article written by Anson Bingham
Read more articles written by Anson Bingham at www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: ansonbingham.com, sivananda.org, dlshq.org, sivanandaonline.org

What is Yoga

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What is Yoga?

The word Yoga means "to join or yoke together," to bring the body and mind together. Yoga means union of the mind, body and spirit with the Divine and while this refers to a certain state of conciousness both individual and Universal, it is also a method to help one reach that goal.

Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is the oldest and most complete system of personal development in the world. Yoga is a life science that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Yoga is a guide to healthy living with a unique blend of physical exercises, psychological insight, and philosophy. 

Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Yoga means union. Yoga is the union of body, mind and soul. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning "yuj," (pron. "yug") meaning "to join", "to unite".

Article written by Anson Bingham. Source: Anson Bingham - ansonbinghamyoga.com, Sivananda Yoga - sivananda.org, The Divine Life Society - dlshq.org

Yoga is a system for wellbeing

Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. While Yoga is often equated with Hatha Yoga, the well-known system of postures and breathing techniques, Hatha Yoga is only a part of the overall discipline of Yoga.

Today, many millions of people use various aspects of Yoga to help raise their quality of life in such diverse areas as fitness, stress relief, wellness, vitality, mental clarity, healing, peace of mind and spiritual growth.

Yoga is a system, not of beliefs, but of techniques and guidance for enriched living. Among Yoga’s many source texts, the two best known are the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Both explain the nature of—and obstacles to—higher awareness and fulfillment, as well as a variety of methods for attaining those goals.

As in any field, some aspects of Yoga are too subtle to be learned from books or lectures; they must be acquired through experience. Hence Yoga’s time-honored emphasis on the student-teacher relationship, in which the teacher helps the student develop a practice that brings deeper understanding through personal experience.

Since the individual experience of Yoga is quite personal and may differ for each practitioner, there are a wide variety of approaches to its practice. Yoga has in recent times branched out in many new directions, some of which are quite different from its traditional emphases. All approaches to Yoga, however, are intended to promote aspects of wellbeing.

Articleposted by Anson Bingham
Read more articles written by Anson Bingham at www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: yogaalliance.com, ansonbingham.com, sivananda.org, dlshq.org, sivanandaonline.org

What is Yoga Nidra

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Yoga Nidra - The Art of Transformation and Subtle Healing

Yoga Nidra is one of the most powerful practices for self-healing. Only recently has the Western World discovered its transformative medicine. Today, this Ancient Yogic technique of relaxation is used to remedy suffering across the board: from anxiety, stress and PTSD to insomnia and cancer – these are just a fraction of the conditions healed. So what is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra is a holistic system of healing through every layer of our being. In Sanskrit Yoga means “Oneness or union” and Nidra means “Sleep.” Often you’ll hear it referred to as “Yogic sleep,” but it is far from simply that. Often when we are asleep our consciousness falls dormant.

During the practice of Yoga Nidra you remain awake and aware. Your body lies flat, surrendered to the Earth so you relinquish all need to control, hold or support yourself – think Savasana or Corpse pose.  Perhaps you have a pillow, a blanket, anything that lends itself to divine comfort. Some use an eye mask to shut off sense of sight, for it is not needed.

During this practice you see with your mind’s eye and you are guided through a systematic technique of directing awareness to each part of the body. You scan for areas of tension, holding or control from gross to subtle and allow your body to release into relaxation. Moving from the fingers, through the arms, the shoulders, down to your toes, up to the back, the chest, and everywhere to the heart.

As you dive into the healing of your heart you envision a “sankalpa” or a positive intention for your journey. See yourself fully healed and realizing your true potential. Visualize your reality and you begin to create it. Manifest it. As the Dalai Lama said, “True change is within.”

Throughout the journey you visualize healing. Often times when our bodies ache, that pain is rooted in a memory, emotion or experience. Some of this tension is surface level while other forms can live on a deeper layer of consciousness. 

This is the part where Yoga Nidra takes on a profound depth. Yoga Nidra is a methodology that was created to cure every layer of our being – the physical body, energy body and unconscious. Classical Yogic psychology would explain this medicine through the koshas – energetic layers of our body, from the outermost physical plane to our subtle spiritual core. 

We are born into this life with “samskaras” that ultimately shape how we experience life. Some call “samskaras” psychological imprints or karmic tendencies; others deem it genetics or DNA. Despite one’s belief of reincarnation, we can agree that in life you have experiences – and these experiences color the way you engage with the world around you. It is through the practice of Yoga Nidra that we can heal our scar tissue.

The prominent example that comes to mind is the use of Yoga Nidra to alleviate suffering from PTSD. Veterans and others who experienced traumatic events are challenged by reliving the memory with heightened sensitivity. They often witness negative changes in perspective and emotions. Several studies have emerged exhibiting the profound benefits of Yoga Nidra on the psyche of returning soldiers. Today, this practice is incorporated into weekly treatment programs for soldiers all over the country.

Article written by Gaby Colletta. Source: basmati.com

Yoga Nidra Benefits

  • Eases symptoms of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, anger and hostility

  • Reduces levels of stress

  • Helps with insomnia

  • Reduces blood pressure

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Reduces activity in the craving-related area of the brain

  • Improves pain related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Enhances immune system function