We have been a small group of students this time enjoying a 7 day retreat close to Kudle beach. Luisa our spanish yoga instructor and cook at the same time did a wonderful job in the kitchen to everyones delight. Classes started 8am and 3.30pm on our leaf shaded yoga deck with the sound of the ocean in the background. A big THANK YOU to all my students who made this a very special week. Hari om tat sat
Asanas are a well tested system for attaining mental and physical health. The prime aim is to help us tread the path to higher consciousness so we can begin to understand our relationship with existence. The initial purpose of practising asanas is to eliminate afflictions and disturbances. Also harmonize the nervous system, improve the functioning of all the internal organs, such the heart, lungs, endocrinal glands and so on. This slowly but surely leads to the best possible physical health. Improvement in the general health of the body automatically helps to bring about positive mental changes, because mental stress being the root cause of the problems in the first place. When all the ailments of the body are removed and one is emotionally and mentally relaxed, then one automatically ceases to be aware of the physical body and the superficialities of the mind. In this way the individuality can be released and ones true nature can be realized.
Only do as much practice as you can easily manage. Fifteen minutes practice every day is better than one hour practice on one day.
The program of asanas should be carefully chosen. The order of practising is important to gain the maximum benefits. Is important to choose a systematic program. If you feel physically or mentally tired before or during the program perform shavasana.
Dont use excessive force to attain the final positions of the asanas. You are trying to develop mental control over the muscles and to do this one should try to will the muscles to relax and then they will automatically stretch.
Breathing through the nose as deep and rhythmical as possible.
Close your eyes as much as possible throughout the practice. This will help to intensify your awareness.
In the final position check that the maximum number of muscles are relaxed. The final position is the most important part. Certain muscles are stretched to the limit. This period of immobility is the time when profound and beneficial changes are occurring in the body, and also a time when deep states of concentration can be reached. Correct, relaxed respiration is essential to accentuate the influence of the asana on the body by increase the massage of the internal organs.
Dont hurry under any circumstances. Doing slowly induce calmness. Quick movements use up excessive energy, whereas the object of asanas is to conserve energy. Also aim to slowing down the breathing rate to improve the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, as well induce mental tranquility. Muscular control is attained by slow movements.
The movements to and from the final poses should be done slowly, smoothly, with control and in synchronization with the breath. If you feel tired after asanas, it is a sign that you are doing something wrong. Tensing the muscles too much or concentrate too hard. You should feel calmness and strength in both mind and body.
Dont try to stretch your muscles further than is comfortable. With regular practice the muscles will elongate. If you autosuggest to yourself that you want the muscles to stretch, then the mind will automatically take steps to prepare the body to attain what you want. The mind is the controller. Use your common sense.
If you have specific illnesses should not do certain asanas. Full information on this will be given with the description of each asana. Dont practice if you are ill with a cold or diarrhea etc. The body is directing its energy to fight the illness. From the simpler asanas to the more difficult ones. Asanas are not competitive. Dont compare yourself.
Be aware of your mental patterns and thoughts, but at the same time you should try to be aware of the asana being performed, relaxing, physical movement, breath, parts of the body that influences… The result will be calmness and peace of mind.
Before one starts the next asana is necessary to relax the organs and the muscles. They are flooded with an influx of purified blood to replace the blood that has been squeezed out in performance of the asana.
Practice with feeling and awareness. JUST PLAY!!!
* Place. Clean, quiet, flat and well ventilated. Same place build up an atmosphere of peace.
* Time. Early morning for there are peaceful vibrations in the air and you gain good preparation for the coming day.
* Others. Go to the toilet before; Do yoga at least three hours after food; If possible do neti before. Wash your hands, feet and face after and before the practice.
BENEFITS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS OF EACH ASANA
HALF BUTTERFLY OR ARTHA TITALI Benefits: Looseing up the knee and hip joints.
FULL BUTTERFLY OR POORNA TITALI Benefits: Prepare the legs for padmasanna and release the tension of the inner thigh muscles. Also remove tiredness from long hours of standing and walking.
SHOULDER SOCKET ROTATION OR SKANDHA CHAKRA Benefits: Maintain the shape of the shoulders and chest. Relieve the strain and are helpful in cervical and frozen shoulder.
NECK MOVEMENTS OR GREEVA SANCHALANA Benefits: (All the nerves connecting the different organs and limbs of the body pass through the neck). The asana release the tension, heaviness and stiffness in the head, neck and shoulder region. Contra-indications: Should not be performed by elderly people and those suffering from low blood pressure, very high blood pressure or extreme cervical problems.
KING OR PASCHIMOTTANASANA Benefits: Stretches the hamstring muscles and increases flexibility in the hip joints. It tones and massages the entire abdominal and pelvic region (liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and adrenal glands) It removes excess weight in this area and helps alleviate disorders of the uro-genital system. It stimulates circulation to the nerves and muscles of the spine. It is used in yoga therapy for the management of prolapsed, menstrual disorders, sluggish liver, diabetes, colitis, kidney complications, bronchitis and eosinophilia. Contra-indications: Should not practice if you suffer slipped disc or sciatica.
QUEEN OR HALASANA Benefits: Massage internal organs, activates the digestion, relieving constipation and dyspepsia, revitalizes the spleen and the suprarenal glands, promotes the production of insulin by the pancreas and improves liver and kidney function. It strengthens the abdominal muscles, relieves spasms in the back muscles, tones the spinal nerves, improving the operation of the sympathetic nervous system, and increases blood circulation to the whole area. It regulate the activities of the thyroid gland which balances the bodys metabolic rate, and stimulates the thymus gland, boosting the immune system. It is used in yoga therapy for the management of asthma, bronchitis, constipation, hepatitis, urinary tract and menstrual disorders. Contra-indications: Should not be practiced by those who suffer from hernia, slipped disc, sciatica, high blood pressure or any serious back problem, especially arthritis of the neck.
SHOULDER STAND OR SARVANGASANA Benefits: Stimulates the thyroid gland, balancing the circulatory, digestive, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems. Enriched blood flow to the brain, tranquillises the mind, relieves mental and emotional stress, fear and headaches, and helps clear psychological disturbances. The thymus gland is also stimulated, boosting the immune system. Influence on the parathyroid glands ensures normal development and regeneration of the bones, preventing premature calcification. Abdominal breathing is induced, improving the exchange of air in the body, relieving stress and massaging the abdominal organs. Releases the normal gravitational pressure from the anal muscles, relieving hemorrhoids. It tones the legs, abdomen and reproductive organs, draining stagnant blood and fluid, and increasing circulation to these areas. Flexibility of the neck vertebrae is improved and the nerves passing through the neck to the brain are toned. Circulation is increased in this area, revitalizing the ears, eyes and tonsils, preventing and relieving various throat and nose ailments. Is used in yoga therapy for the treatment of asthma, diabetes, colitis, thyroid disorders, impotence, hydrocele, prolapsed, menopause, menstrual disorders and leucorrhoea. Regular practice helps to prevent cough, cold and flu. Contra-indications: Should not be practiced by people suffering from enlarged thyroid, liver or spleen cervical spondylitis, slipped disc, high blood pressure or other heart ailments, weak blood vessels in the eyes, thrombosis or impure blood. Should be avoid during menstruation and advanced stages of pregnancy
HEAD STAND OR SIRSHASANA Benefits: Is very powerful for awakening sahasrara chakra and, therefore, it is considered the greatest of all asanas. Increase the blood flow to the brain and pituitary gland, revitalizing the entire body and mind. It relieves anxiety and other psychological disturbances which form the root cause of many disorders. It is, therefore, recommended for the prevention of asthma, hay fever, diabetes and menopausal imbalance. It also helps to rectify many forms of nervous and glandular disorder, especially those related to the reproductive system. Strain on the back is thus alleviated and the reversed flow of blood in the legs and visceral regions aids tissue regeneration. Remove carbon dioxide, toxins and bacteria from the lungs. Contra-indications: Should not be practiced by people with high blood pressure, heart disease, thrombosis, arteriosclerosis, chronic catarrh, chronic constipation, kidney problems, impure blood, severe near-sightedness, weak eye blood vessels, conjunctivitis, chronic glaucoma, inflammation of the ears on any form of blood haemorrhage in the head; neither during pregnancy or menstruation. Although it is recommended as a preventative measure for headache or migraine, it should not be practiced during either.
COBRA GROUP OR BHUJANGASANA (SPHINX, TWISTING AND STRICKING COBRA) Benefits: these asanas can relocate slipped disc, remove backache and keep the spine supple and healthy. A stiff spine interferes with all nervous impulses sent from the brain to the body and vice versa. By arching the spine, improving circulation in the back region and toning the nerves, better communication between the brain and body results. These asanas tones the ovaries and uterus, and helps alleviate menstrual and other gynaecological disorders. It stimulates the appetite, alleviates constipation and is beneficial for all abdominal organs, especially the liver and kidneys. The adrenal glands, situated on top of the kidneys, are also massaged and stimulated to work more efficiently. The secretion of cortisone is maintained and the thyroid gland is regulated. On a pranic level, bhujangasans has a strong effect on all the organs related to swadhisthana, manipura, anahata and vishuddhi chakras. Contra-indications: People suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis or hyperthyroidism should not practice this asana.
SURYA NAMASKARA It is such a wonderful practice. Revitalizes the whole body, removes all signs of sleep and is excellent for preparing the body and mind so that maximum benefits can be derived from the subsequent asanas, pranayama, meditational practices and so on. It loosens up all the joints flexes all the muscles of the body, massages the internal organs, activates the respiratory and circulatory system as well as helps to tone all the other systems of the body. In short, it harmonizes the whole body-mind complex. If you feel tired during the day a few rounds of surya namaskara will quickly restore the lost vitality, both physically and mentally. If you feel angry or depressed, surya namaskara is an excellent antidote, not a panacea, but a great help in removing emotional disturbances. Surya namaskara is a powerful method of eliminating toxins from the body. However, these toxins should not be eliminated too quickly. If any such symptoms or sign of fever begins, stop for a few days. Awareness is an essential part of surya namaskara. If it is performed without any awareness most of the benefits are lost.
Limitations. Ladies are advised not to do it during menstruation as a precautionary measure. People with certain aliments, such as sciatica, slipped disc, high blood pressure, coronary ailments and so on should not do surya namaskara.
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Guru means “ remover of darkness and ignorance” . It does not say that the guru gives you anything, only that he removes something. He removes the mental blocks and obstacles that prevent the spontaneous effulgence of light of truth. It can be by personal instruction, by inspiring his followers, by rebuking his disciples for actions which are not in accordance with their nature (adharmic) and by guiding disciples so that their actions are appropriate to their own physical and mental make-up (dharma).
The guru supplies the strength which makes progress possible in spiritual life, and the divine love which makes it so rewarding and joyful. In a sense of goal of spiritual life, no matter what religion or philosophy, is to transcend the individual self and become united with the infinite nature of the guru. His interest is to take us all beyond ourselves to the personal realization of the eternal truth. It is impossible to embark on the higher paths of yogic sadhana (spiritual practice) without the supervision of someone who knows its complexities and pitfalls.???
It is he who opens the disciples eye to the impossible. Everyone we meet in life can be regarded as our guru because each person can teach us something. Even our enemies can be our best teachers, for they clearly highlight and show us our greatest problems, the obstacles to higher awareness. When we know our mental complexes, the deeper ones of which we are not normally aware, then we can take steps to remove them.
HOW TO FIND A GURU?
The answer is that you must just go on looking and following the path of tantra-yoga or any other system as a means to bring about greater levels of mental and physical harmony. This will accentuate your sensitivity and receptivity and eventually your guru will find you. We can never find the guru because we cannot recognize him. If we try to choose our own guru, we will choose according to our mental conditionings and projections. And if we choose a teacher who conforms to our present mental whims, then we will never be able to remove those whims, the very aspects of our personality which keep us in bondage. We should remain open, receptive and make personal efforts to tread the yogic path to mental harmony, breaking down current preconceptions. One way to do this is to hear satsang (spiritual teachings) of wise men whenever possible. There is no need to make any commitment or confine yourself to one teacher or one belief, just go and listen. This will help you to direct your life in positive directions. When you are ready, your guru will be waiting for you. May be in the next lifetime! The guru appears when the time is ripe.
It is essential that the guide be a true guru (sadguru) who is himself fully enlightened and with the highest vision. Such a being lives constantly in a transcendental state of awareness, always in communion with the absolute reality. It is his own inner nature of Self, as it is of all other beings, whether they have realized it or not. His personality is a perfect and pure instrument of the infinite, through which unlimited power flows unceasingly to the world around him.