Titusville Yoga Loft

What Is Henna

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Origin of Henna

The art of henna (called mehndi in Hindi & Urdu) has been practiced for over  5000 years in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East. There is some documentation that it is over 9000 years old.  Because henna has natural cooling properties, people of the desert, for centuries, have been using henna to cool down their bodies.  They make a paste of henna and soak their palms and soles of the feet in it to get an air conditioning affect.  They feel its cooling sensation throughout the body for as long as the henna stain remains on their skin.  Initially, as the stain faded away, it left patterns on the skin surface which led to ideas to make designs for decorative purposes.  In the ancient Egyptian times mummies wore henna designs and it is documented that Cleopatra herself used henna for decorative purposes.

Henna was not only a popular adornment for the rich but the poor, who could not afford jewelry, used it to decorate their bodies as well.

Henna in the West

Today people all over the world have adopted the ancient traditions of adorning their bodies with the beautiful natural artwork created from the henna plant.  It became a very popular form of temporary body decoration  in the 90's in the US and has become a growing trend ever since.  Celebrities like Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Yasmine Bleeth, Liv Tyler, Xena, and many others proudly adorn their bodies with henna and show them off in public, movies, videos, etc. People throughout the west have adopted the eastern tradition in their lives by having their hands and feet painted for weddings, bellies painted while in pregnancy, heads adorned with henna while going through chemotherapy, scars camouflaged to make them unnoticeable, etc.

Cultural & Medicinal Uses

Henna is used for many reasons including: self-expression; celebration of special occasions like weddings, holidays & birthdays; inspiration; reminders; beauty; cosmetic treatments; medicinal uses; blessings & well-being; to be part of an ancient tradition; and an alternative or precursor to a tattoo.

The Henna Plant

Henna (Lawsonia inermis, also known as hina, henna tree, mignonette tree, Egyptian privet) is a flowering plant that grows 12-15 feet high and comes from the sole species of the Lawsonia genus. The English name "henna" comes from the Arabic (ḥinnā).  The name henna also refers to the dye prepared from the henna plant and the art of temporary tattooing based on those dyes. Henna has been used for centuries to dye skin, hair, and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather.

Henna henna was used for cosmetic purposes in the Roman Empire, Convivencia-period Iberia and Ancient Egypt, as well as other parts of North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Near East and South Asia.  It can be found in other hot climates like Pakistan, India and Australia.   The plant grows best in heat up to 120F degrees and contains more dye at these temperatures.  It wilts in temperatures below 50F degrees.   It also grows better in dry soil than damp soil.  The leaves are in opposite decussate pairs and vary in sizes from approximately 2-4 cm. long.  The flowers are fragrant, produced in conical panicles 1040 cm long, each flower 5 mm diameter, with four white petals. The fruit is a dry capsule 68 mm diameter, containing numerous 12.5 mm seeds.

The henna plant contains lawsone which is a reddish-orange dye that binds to the keratin (a protein) in our skin and safely stains the skin.  The stain can be from pale orange to nearly black depending on the quality of the henna and how well ones skin takes it.  A good henna, fresh from hot & dry climates, will stain the darkest.

For body decorations, the leaves of the henna plant are dried, crushed into a fine powder, and made into a creamy paste using a variety of techniques.  This paste is then applied to the skin, staining the top layer of skin only.  In its natural state it will dye the skin an orange or brown color.  Although it looks dark green (or dark brown depending on the henna) when applied, this green paste will flake off revealing an orange stain.  The stain becomes a reddish-brown color after 1-3 days of application.  The palms and the soles of the feet stain the darkest because the skin is the thickest in these areas & contain the most keratin.  The farther away from hands and feet the henna is applied, the lesser the color.  The face area usually stains the lightest.   The designs generally last from 1-4 weeks on the skin surface depending on the henna, care and skin type.

Henna works on all skin types and colors.  It looks just as beautiful on dark skin as light skin but because some people skin may take the dye better than others, it can look more prominent on one and not as much on another (even lighter skin).  But nevertheless, henna is a symbol of beauty, art, and happiness and is meant for EVERYONE!

Because henna acts as a sunblock, there is an added benefit to having henna designs in the summer.  For those who love to get a tan It leaves tan lines!  In order to benefit from this, it is best to get a henna design, let its natural color stay on for 3-5 days and then go and get a tan.  This way you can enjoy the natural henna color on your body, the henna color with the tan, and then tan lines in the shapes of the design (once the henna fades away)!  The tan lines last as long as the actual tan!

Medicinal Properties

Henna is considered an herb, and has long been known to have healing qualities.   It is used topically and usually not ingested or inhaled.  In ancient times it has been applied to the skin surface for such ailments as headaches, stomach pains, burns (including sunburns), open wounds, as a fever reducer, athlete's foot and even the prevention of hair loss.   It is also a sunblock and has been used on the noses of animals to prevent sunburn.  Another use of henna would be to apply it to goat skin bags, after they have been salt-cured.  It "insect-proofs" or "moth-proofs" the bags by making the skin poisoned or inedible.

Traditions

Henna is traditionally used for special occasions like holidays, birthdays and weddings in Africa, Pakistan, India, and the Middle East.  The most popular of the traditions is the Mehndi (henna) Night where the bride, her family, relatives and friends get together to celebrate the wedding to come.  The night is filled with games, music and dance performances that may have been rehearsed for months prior to the event by those closest to the bride while the bride gets extensive henna patterns done on her hands and feet that go to her elbows and sometimes, knees.  The bridal patterns can take hours and are often done by multiple henna artists.  The guests will usually receive small designs (tattoos) on the backs of their hands as well.

Today, brides prefer to have their henna done prior to the mehndi night so that they can enjoy the festivities and also have a deeper stain by the wedding day.

Tradition holds that for as long as the henna stain appears on the bride, she doesn't have to do any housework!  Also, the darker the stain the better the marriage and the better the mother-in-law will be!  So you can imagine why the bride would want the stain to come our dark and last as long as possible!

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

Article written by Silkn Stone.  Source: www.silknstone.com

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

What is Sound Bath Meditation

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What is Sound Bath Meditation

Sound Bath Meditation is a unique meditation experience that uses quartz crystal singing bowls as music therapy and sound healing to calm the mind, align and harmonize the body. Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls emit very pure tones, close to sine waves. Their sound is a synonym of purity for our ears. the tone is produced by striking the side of the bowl with a wooden mallet and running the mallet around the bowl to create a pure tone and make the bowl sing.

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

Yoga Nidra and Meditation

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Yoga Nidra and Meditation

The practice of Yoga Nidra induces complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. In yoga nidra, the state of relaxation is reached by turning inwards, away from outer experiences. If the consciousness is separated from external awareness and from sleep, it becomes very powerful and can be applied in many ways. For example, to develop the memory, increase knowledge and creativity or transform one’s nature.

Life in the modern age has become particularly trying. Standards of living have improved. Yet man suffers under the weight of present-day living, both mentally and physically. The art of relaxation has been forgotten.

Normally people think that they are relaxing when they collapse on an easy chair with a cup of coffee, a drink or a cigarette, and read a newspaper or listen to music or watch television. But this will never suffice as a scientific definition of relaxation. These are only sensory diversions. True relaxation is actually an experience far beyond all this. For absolute relaxation, you must remain aware and you relax consciously.

Research has established that Yoga Nidra practice helps deal with stressful conditions, offers insight to meet the demands of present-day problems as well and help improve the quality and happiness of human life.

Yoga Nidra can be defined as a state of conscious deep sleep. It is both the name of a specific practice and a state of being. It is a state of mind in between wakefulness and dream. Normally when we sleep, we loose track of our self and cannot utilize this capacity of mind. Yoga Nidra enables the person to be conscious in this state and nurture the seed of great will power, inspire the higher self, and enjoy the vitality of life.

Yoga Nidra restructures and transforms our whole personality from within. With every session of yoga nidra we are actually burning our old Samskaras, habits and tendencies in order to be born anew. The sowing of seeds of change is found in Sankalpa, which you make for yourself during each practice. Sankalpa can be translated as resolve or resolution. It is the most powerful method for reshaping your personality.

Explore and practice the various aspects of the yogic technique of Yoga Nidra. The first Yogi to actively teach and educate people on Yoga Nidra was Paramamamsa Swami Saatyananda Saraswati and furthered by Paramahamsa Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati.

Article written by The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center San Francisco. Source: sivanandasf.org

The Deeper Meaning of Yoga

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The Deeper Meaning of Yoga

In the past two decades, yoga has moved from relative anonymity in the West to a well-recognized practice offered in thousands of studios, community centers, hospitals, gyms, and health clubs. Although yoga is commonly portrayed as a popular fitness trend, it’s actually the core of the Vedic science that developed in the Indus Valley more than five thousand years ago.

The word yoga derives from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means union with the source of existence.  Unity consciousness is also referred to as the state of enlightenment in which there is complete freedom from all conditioning and one is no longer constrained by habit, past experiences or “karma,” and any forms of dogma or ideology. It is a state of spontaneous creativity, love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. These are also known as divine qualities.

As yoga has evolved and blossomed over thousands of years, numerous forms and schools of yoga have developed. Traditionally there are four types of yoga:  

  1. Jnana Yoga - The yoga of the intellect, science, and knowledge

  2. Bhakti Yoga - The yoga of love and devotion

  3. Karma Yoga - The yoga of service and action

  4. Raja Yoga - The yoga of meditation, physical poses, and breathing practices.

Raja yoga is frequently referred to as the “royal path to yoga” because it focuses on practices that take our awareness inward and promote the integration of the mind, body, and spirit. The classic text on raja yoga is the Yoga Sutras, attributed to the legendary sage Patanjali. While the precise dates of Patanjali’s life and writings remain fuzzy, scholars estimate that the Yoga Sutras was written at least 1,700 years ago.

According to The Yoga Sutras, “Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence. When the mind has settled, we are established in our essential nature, which is unbounded consciousness.” The essence of yoga is the union or integration of all the layers of life – physical, emotional, and spiritual. It is a practice for going beyond the ego’s habitual identification with the mind and body and directly experiencing our true spiritual self. Rooted in this connection to spirit, we are able to solve the challenges that arise in life with greater ease and grace. 

The Yoga Sutras, which consists of 195 aphorisms (sutras), describes the eight branches or “limbs” of yoga, providing a clear roadmap for the evolution of consciousness from ordinary states of awareness such as waking, dreaming, and sleeping – to higher states of consciousness, including the nonlocal consciousness known as Atma Darshan, cosmic consciousness, divine consciousness, and unity consciousness.

Like anything else, knowledge must evolve and although there are standard interpretations of the eight limbs of yoga, at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, we have developed more contemporary perspectives that are in alignment with our philosophy of spiritual evolution. Here is a distillation of the standard interpretations of the eight limbs and our contemporary interpretations:

The Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga 

  1. Yamas (Rules of conduct) - Spontaneous evolutionary behavior of conscious beings

  2. Niyama (Rules of personal behavior) - The internal dialogue of conscious beings

  3. Asana (Physical postures) - Mind-body integration

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

  5. Pratyahara (Control of the senses) - Tuning into our subtle sensory experiences

  6. Dharana (Mind control) - Evolutionary mastery and expression of  attention and intention

  7. Dhyana (Meditation) - Resonating at the junction point between the personal and the universal

  8. Samadhi (Absorption) - Settled in pure awareness; the progressive expansion of the self

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, M.D. 

The seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga as a practice for integrating and balancing all the layers of our life so that our body, mind, heart, intellect and spirit flow in harmony.

1 Law of Pure Potentiality

Our essential nature is pure consciousness, the infinite source of everything that exists in the physical world. Since we are an inextricable part of the field of consciousness, we are also infinitely creative, unbounded and eternal.

2 Law of Giving and Receiving

Giving and receiving are different expressions of the same flow of energy in the universe. Since the universe is in constant and dynamic exchange, we need to both give and receive to keep abundance, love and anything else we want circulating in our lives.

3 Law of Karma (Cause and Effect)

Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in kind. When we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.

4 Law of Least Effort

We can most easily fulfill our desires when our actions are motivated by love, we expend the least effort and we offer no resistance. We tap into the infinite organizing power of the universe to do less and accomplish everything.

5 Law of Intention and Desire

Inherent in every intention and desire are the mechanics for its fulfilment. When we become quiet and introduce our intentions into the field of pure potentiality, we harness the universe’s infinite organizing power, which can manifest our desires with effortless ease.

6 Law of Detachment

At the level of spirit, everything is always unfolding perfectly. We don’t have to struggle or force situations to go our way. Instead, we can intend for everything to work out as it should, take action, and then allow opportunities to spontaneously emerge.

7 Law of Dharma

Everyone has a dharma or purpose in life. By expressing our unique talents and using them to serve others, we will experience unlimited love, abundance, and true fulfilment in our lives.

Article written by Deepak Chopra, M.D.  Source: Chopra.com

The Theory of Yoga Nidra

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The Theory of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is the technique of Psychic Sleep, or the Sleep of Awareness, also known as the Yogi’s Sleep. It is an age-old practice from the Tantras which has been re-discovered and developed for modern people and is now being taught all over the world in many different spiritual and non-spiritual guises.

Originally, it was discovered and developed by the Yogis as a way of transcending sleep. A way of gaining the greatest benefits of relaxation during the time allotted for sleep without actually going unconscious or losing awareness. Nowadays, it is used as a method of freeing the conscious, subconscious and unconscious layers of mind from the accumulations of daily tension, which once learned and perfected, enabled the practitioner to enter the trance states of Samadhi and Self-Realisation. It has been evaluated that 1 hour of Yoga Nidra gives the equivalent rest of 4 hours normal sleep.

Although as modern people today, we may be overloaded with the hassles of daily life and feel very far from spiritual enlightenment, never-the-less, Yoga Nidra still is a sublime method of dealing with the states of mind which create and sustain those patterns of inner tension and conflict. Therefore, within the framework of your weekly Yoga Class, let us not forget the true nature and purpose of Yoga Nidra. Try not to think of it as just a “nice lie down” or “that bit of relaxation at the beginning,” but please give it the respect it deserves as a highly evolved technique of self-transcendence.

It cannot be mentioned too many times that the purpose of Yoga Nidra is not to sleep. If you make a brief commitment to yourself at the beginning of each practice “I will not sleep,” then you will find your awareness remains much more awake throughout. Only in the fully conscious state will the full benefits of Yoga Nidra be gained.

Preparations for Yoga Nidra
If you are practicing Yoga Nidra at home, choose a place which is clean and quiet and ensure that you will not be disturbed. Take the phone off the hook, close the door, protect against draughts, insects, and wind, close any curtains to exclude bright light, clear a space on the floor so that you will not be touching any furniture.

Remove your shoes, loosen tight clothing, remove restrictive jewelry, remove glasses if you wear them. Lie down on the floor on your back and, when using a tape recorder, position the crown of the head towards the voice of the instructor. Cover yourself with a blanket. Close your eyes, then position the body as instructed to do so.

Body Position for Yoga Nidra
The best posture for Yoga Nidra is Shavasana. Under certain conditions such as later pregnancy, other positions may be used. Learn to take up Shavasana whenever Yoga Nidra commences. There will be a brief reminder of the posture, and once you set the body in the best position, you should remain perfectly still until the end of the Yoga Nidra practice. Any movement that you make will disturb the ever-increasing relaxation of the body.

Even a slight scratch will break the absolute stillness and the process of sense withdrawal which you are trying to develop. If at all possible, try to lie still through all passing discomforts. They will disappear as you focus back into the technique. Check the body for any parts where you know you hold tension, any parts that are weak or need healing. Relax them consciously.

Sankalpa – The Resolution of Yoga Nidra
At the beginning of Yoga Nidra, and just before the end, you will be reminded to repeat your Sankalpa – your resolution. The word Sankalpa means “determination.” It is not a wish, or a prayer, or a promise, or an airy-fairy sort of affirmation that you will lose interest in several weeks hence.

It is a profound realization of something in your life which you are going to do. It is not something you want to come true tomorrow, or something in the future you hope might come true or a loosely worded projection of fantasy and desire. It is a sincere practice of exercising the will-power. Its purpose is not to make desires come true, or to gain profit from mental powers, but to help develop a new force of transformation from within yourself. For this reason, it is not something that someone else can decide for you.

It should be phrased in a very direct, short and positive statement. Not something negative that you wish to give up, but rather something positive that you will do. “I will …………….”. It may not come to you on the first day. Don’t just make one up to fill the time. Wait and watch for a realization of something which is extremely important to you at this point in your life.

You may only start with a small but important thing in your personality, or you may have a long-term goal to work on. Either way, once you have chosen/ realized your Sankalpa, do not change it until it comes true in your life. Do not reveal it to anyone. Don’t pin it up on the kitchen notice board or the back of the toilet door! You don’t need to think about it at any other time in the day except within the practice of Yoga Nidra. Don’t be fickle and change it often because it doesn’t seem to be working. Give it time, and most importantly, give it practice. With regular use of Yoga Nidra, it will surely begin to manifest in reality.

Many people can testify to the unbelievable power and effectiveness of the Sankalpa made in Yoga Nidra. Many who thought that such a goal was far off, have been amazed at just how quickly the resolution made in Yoga Nidra can come true. This is because:- at the beginning of the practice when you are fully awake and full of worldly thoughts, the resolution comes through your waking consciousness but in fact, it has come from deeper in mind before that.

At this stage, it is part of your mundane existence, just a worldly desire that you have and that you want to come true. But then later, just before the end of Yoga Nidra when you are reminded by the instructor to repeat the Sankalpa, that same thought or suggestion which is consciously remembered is then plunged strongly into the subconscious again, the state at which your mind rests just before coming out of Yoga Nidra. So a circuit of consciousness has been established. It is not like a normally repeated intellectual suggestion, but it is more effective because it is planted in a truly open and receptive mind.

This process has been likened to a seed, planted deep in the subconscious soil, where it lays dormant until watered and fed. Each time you repeat your resolution, even though you can’t see it working, you stimulate its growth deep down below your conscious understanding, and this continues to increase its power until it breaks through into the light of day and becomes a part of your waking life. Then you know you have made a great link between conscious desires, the will-power, the subconscious, and the unconscious mind. This is the true purpose of Sankalpa and Yoga Nidra.

Rotation of Sound Awareness for Yoga Nidra
The next aspect of Yoga Nidra is to start the involution of the senses. That is to disconnect outside awareness and begin to relax inside, at the mental level. Initially, when you close your eyes and try to focus inwardly, the mind behaves like a naughty child. It does the direct opposite of what you instruct it to do! So we use this mischievous tendency to overcome itself.

You will be asked to listen to all the different sounds that you can hear and to rotate your awareness from one sound to the next, and on to another different sound, and so on. This may not be easy at first. You may want to listen and analyze the sounds. They may trigger lots of thoughts from within your memory. Just keep on with the practice, moving and moving and moving restlessly from sound to sound, with the attitude of a witness.

You should try not to be affected by any auditory information that you hear. This is continued for some time until the mind becomes very bored with this stupid game and it automatically switches off from outside sounds. This is the desired effect, but you may not achieve this for several sessions. It takes practice. After the sense of sound has been disconnected in this way, you should not have any further distraction from sounds for the remainder of the Yoga Nidra time.

Rotation of Body Awareness for Yoga Nidra
The next phase of the practice is critical. It involves two things. One is to disconnect the tactile senses, and the other is to develop the link of mental/physical awareness. Just as we disconnect the sense of sound with the rotation of sound awareness, now we disconnect the sense of touch. Similarly, the instructor will guide you through a particular pathway of internal body awareness. Naming each part as you feel it, you move from part to part with awareness and detachment. Just naming, feeling and moving on, without stopping, all around the body.

As each part is encountered, there is a mental repetition of its name, and there is a brief moment of tactile awareness of each part. This creates an energetic and psychic pathway between the brain and that part of the body. For a brief moment, there is complete relaxation and healing connection to that part, but then it is left alone, and the awareness is detached from it as you move onto the next part. This part of Yoga Nidra will become quite spontaneous after some time.

Eventually, with practice, you will notice that you cannot feel your body anymore physically. It doesn’t seem to be there. And again, this is the desired effect. But this will only happen if: you stay awake to follow the technique; you lie perfectly still and do not move; you keep your awareness moving in a prescribed way. But many people are afraid of such an experience and protect themselves from having it by continually moving their body for one reason or another. It reminds them of death.

Why do you think it is called the Corpse Pose! That is precisely the aim of disconnecting from body awareness, at least temporarily. To experience ourselves as much more than this physical body. To realize that we do have a consciousness which transcends this gross physical form. But perhaps you don’t want to know this, so either you fall asleep or wriggle.

As well as sense withdrawal, rotation of body awareness stimulates different parts of our brain which control each body nerve. When you are aware of each part of the body, you are psychically massaging the corresponding part in the brain and as well. You establish a connection between that part of the body and the brain. This can be evidenced by the many people with disabilities or lack of feeling in the limbs which give testament to experiencing a part of the body for the first time during this technique of Yoga Nidra.

Rotation of Body Awareness terminates with “Whole Body Awareness.” Awareness of no particular parts, but just the whole body together. It’s a holistic appreciation of physical oneness. And for many people with disjointed physical consciousness, this can be a profound experience.

Breath Awarenessfor Yoga Nidra
From the physical and mental experience of body awareness, next in Yoga Nidra one progresses to yet another more subtle level of experience – that of the elements of breath and Prana. When the body remains perfectly still for some time, there is a definite slowing down of the metabolic rates of breath and heart rate. By lying still and watching the natural processes of breath in Yoga Nidra, greater relaxation of body and mind is achieved, as well as deep understanding of the nature of breath and its ramifications upon the body/mind complex.

Always in Yoga Nidra practice, we do not interfere with anything. The whole technique is nothing but a process of witnessing, of unaffected observance. It is not concentration. The aim is never to force the mind to concentrate. This would create mental tension – the opposite of the real purpose.

So when practicing breath awareness in Yoga Nidra, there is not to be any wilful change or effort imposed upon the natural breath as occurring at any moment. We watch – we just observe how the body breathes in its natural state of relaxation. You will learn; how, when first lying down, there is a rushed feeling in the energy of breath; and how, after some time of relaxing, there is a far more regular and peaceful experience of breathing.

Your awareness may be watching in a general way, being aware of the speed, the rhythm, the depth, the regularity, or the evenness of the natural breath. Or you may be instructed to focus breath awareness in a particular part of the body, a particular breathing or energy center, or within one of the many energy channels through which the psychic breath flows. All these patterns of awareness are simply methods by which we can develop our consciousness to understand what is going on inside – which aspects of our personality are the causes and which are the effects of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

The breath is like a bridge between the body aspect and the mental aspect of our existence. Not only physical in its substance, and not fully mental, the breath is a psycho-biological link between conscious thinking, the feelings, and the mental or psychic imagery stored in the brain and the mind.

Often during sessions of breath work such as Pranayama, and in Yoga Nidra as well, repressed material from the subconscious and unconscious layers of the mind surfaces. It bubbles up to the surface because the blocks and psychological barriers have been removed through the safety of relaxation. It is at this time we can look at things, observe them more clearly and see solutions to those inner conflicts. And this is why many people arise from Yoga Nidra feeling like a great weight has been removed from within. But all this can only occur if there remains awareness with no sleeping.

Use of Mantra for Yoga Nidra
Beyond breath awareness, tools such as Mantra and visualization are used to work directly on the unconscious levels on the mind. These are the normally untapped and unreachable areas of experience which only Yoga Nidra and Meditation can influence successfully.

Use of a Mantra in Yoga Nidra is going completely beyond the rational, intellectual arena of experience. You cannot understand what it is doing with your normal thinking abilities. It is re-patterning, re-programming the very vibratory structure of ones inner mental make up. It is working on the inter-connections between thought, feeling, and action. It is working on the archetypes or universal symbols, called “Samskaras.”

Samskaras are like seeds, small compact forms which hold vast amounts of genetic information or mental impressions. These imprints may be stored in the potential/latent form, or they may be just sprouting, or they may already be well growing. It is like how a computer uses inner symbolic language to represent and deliver its information to the screen.

What you type on the surface at the keyboard, is far different from the way in which that information is stored and processed inside the actual electronic workings of the computer’s memory banks. Some instructions or programmes are asleep; some are just waiting to be activated, and some are already in action.

The mantra is a subtle vibration of sound which gets into these mental forms and triggers their release. It wakes them up bit by bit so that you can see and appreciate that these things do still exist deep down. Mantra works effectively whether you understand it or not; whether you want it to or not; whether you believe in it or not. That’s because the ancient Yogis discovered these secrets of the mind’s workings and perfected effective ways to work within it from outside.

In Yoga Nidra, a Mantra is repeated mentally, sometimes in time with the breath or the heartbeat or just at a spontaneous frequency. Just try to follow the instructions as best you can, and true understanding about Mantra will come as you experience the practice and its effects. When a mantra is used in a deep state of relaxation, its effects are enhanced many-fold. More about Mantra is explained within the section dealing with Mantra Japa Meditation.

Visualization for Yoga Nidra
The final guided aspect of Yoga Nidra that you will be introduced to in an Integral Yoga Beginners Course involves the use of visualization. Initially, the purpose of visualization in Yoga Nidra is just to practice psychic visual recall and disposal. You may not be very good at it, but that doesn’t matter. Just keep trying to do the best you can.

One type of visual projection involves the use of archetypes. Simple, single images of symbolic meaning which when presented to the mind in deep relaxation, will trigger the release of psychic tension and realizations of spiritual significance. These may be religious symbols, nature symbols, geometric symbols or others. In essence, psychic symbols all have the same basic function, and that is to trigger direct perception of the object in focus and reveal the true nature of inner experience.

Eventually, this ability will lead on to the faculty used in the method of Raja Yoga Dharana, or concentration upon a symbol. Visualisation practice develops the faculty of inner creativity – a great help to artists and creators of visual forms.

Another type of visualization which is popular nowadays is the “guided story” approach. For example, you are taken on a journey to a secret place, or to a beautiful land of dreams, or into a tunnel, where certain events occur in your mind, and these projections trigger past, present, and future experiences.

Although they may be either relaxing or stimulating, these types of visualizations do not work at such a fundamental level of mental transformation as the single image visualizations. They deal predominantly with experiences of an emotional and “feel good” nature and this practice can be fraught with danger for the inexperienced teacher and student.

There may be a great inner catharsis on one level but not quite a full resolution at another. There are therapeutic methods of properly releasing deep traumas through the techniques of Yoga Nidra, but these take many years of practice and understanding. So it is wiser to stay with the simple forms of visualization and not get carried away with images of fantasy unless properly used for therapeutic purposes under qualified guidance.

Chidakash and Hridayakash for Yoga Nidra
Near the end of Yoga Nidra, after all the guided parts of sounds, body, breath, mantra, visualization, there will be a time of watching “the inner space” called Chidakash. Chidakash means “the space of mind consciousness.” Some people experience it as the area inside the forehead. Others experience it as the space behind the closed eyes.

There is also a space called Hridayakash which is the “space of heart consciousness” inside the center of the chest. It can be felt like a large cave, both within you and surrounding you. Chidakash and Hridayakash are both used for brief periods of contemplation at the end of Mantra Japa Meditations.

Whichever space you are watching, or wherever you perceive it to be, the principle is the same. It is to be observed like watching a T.V. screen; as though you are a viewer to the movie of your mind, or as though you are a member of the audience to a stage play. If there are pictures – fine. If there are thoughts – fine. If there are feelings – fine. If there is nothing – that’s fine too. It is a time to let go completely of all efforts, of all impressions, of all functions of the mind and just to be in the space – but watching with detachment.

The irony of the experience is that you are in the space, and yet space is within you. You cannot objectify a difference between you and it. This is the final experience of Yoga Nidra. To have awareness; to know that you are aware, without substance, object or subject; just to be in the space but also to be a perceiver of your self in the space. But don’t worry if you don’t get that experience immediately.

Your mind may still be busy with mundane thoughts, or you may be afraid to have an empty mind, or you may still be caught up in some previous experience, or you may well be asleep or semi-conscious. It does not matter. It can only happen in its own time.

The true experience of Chidakash and Hridayakash cannot be created or manipulated in any way, or you lose it. It is very subtle and tricky, but with practice, you may experience what is written here. Even for a fleeting moment, or perhaps a long uninterrupted stretch, it is an experience which leads to the absolute depths of your being. At this stage, Yoga Nidra has taken you as far as it can.

With regular practice, you will be able to go more directly to this experience, both within Yoga Nidra practice and within your daily waking life. What exists beyond that is a transcendental experience beyond even individual ego awareness. A complete merging. And that is what is known by the Yogis as “Samadhi.”

Article written by Spirit Web. Source: www.spiritweb.org

Breast Cancer Awareness Month at The Titusville Yoga Loft

Breast Cancer Awareness Month at The Titusville Yoga Loft - Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Meditation Downtown Titusville Yoga Studio.jpegNational Yoga Month at The Titusville Yoga Loft - Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Meditation Downtown Titusville Yoga Studio

Yoga for Breast Cancer Awareness
In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Titusville Yoga Loft will have a special Yoga Beats all-levels donation-based yoga class Friday, October 26, 2018 to raise money for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for the American Cancer Society.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month at The Titusville Yoga Loft
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), also referred to in America as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.

The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer. Breast cancer awareness month is a yearly campaign that intend educate people about the importance of early screening, test and more. This campaign starts on October 1st and ends on October 31st every year.

Titusville Yoga Loft - Yoga for Breast Cancer Awareness Warrior Tank Tops at The Titusville Yoga Loft Downtown Titusville

Yoga for Breast Cancer Awareness Tank Tops at The Titusville Yoga Loft
The Titusville Yoga Loft has designed and printed breast cancer awareness warrior tank tops for the Yoga Beats Yoga Making Strides Against Breast Cancer special event. This is an exclusive design only available from The Titusville Yoga Loft.

National Yoga Month at The Titusville Yoga Loft

National Yoga Month at The Titusville Yoga Loft - Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Meditation Downtown Titusville Yoga Studio.jpegNational Yoga Month at The Titusville Yoga Loft - Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Meditation Downtown Titusville Yoga Studio

National Yoga Month at The Titusville Yoga Loft
September is National Yoga Month. National Yoga Month is an official holiday created by the Department of Health & Human Services. National Yoga Month was developed to raise awareness of yoga's health benefits and provide people with guidance and tools to improve their well-being.

In celebration of National Yoga Month, The Titusville Yoga Loft will be having workshops every Saturday during the month of September at 11:30 AM.

National Yoga Month Workshops
Yoga for Runners - Saturday, September 8, 2018, 11:30 AM
Philosophy of Ashtanga Yoga - Saturday, September 15, 2018, 11:30 AM
Technique, Alignment and the Benefits of Hatha - Saturday, September 8, 2018, 11:30 AM
Thai Bodywork Partner Workshop - Saturday, September 29, 2018, 11:30 AM

 

10 Reasons to Try Yoga
Pain Relief
Stress Reduction
Better Breathing
Increased Flexibility
Increased Strength
Weight Management
Improved Circulation
Cardiovascular Conditioning
Sharper Mind
Inner Peace