by Andrew Kalat
Creative Commons 2008
One of the great things about yoga is that it is something that everyone can do. Whether you are old or young, big or small, mobile or immobile – you can practice some form of yoga.
Perhaps you are taking care of your body or are recovering from an injury or surgery – try gentle or restorative yoga. Perhaps you are fit but new to yoga – try introductory or beginner classes. Maybe you have been practicing for a while and want a challenge – try Bikram, power or flow.
Yoga will meet you right where you are. It is comforting to know that you don’t have to perform or worry about what anyone else is doing. Yoga is a life changing journey with no destination. All you have to do is get on your mat and you will reap the benefits of yoga.
Ask yourself two questions – What is the worst that could happen? What is the best that could happen?
Creative Commons 2009
We can now call Jon Bon Jovi – Jon Bon Yogi. The 50 year old artist began practicing yoga in 2011 after years of lifting weights and cardio workouts in a gym.
He has since given up the gym and only practices yoga. He attributes his fit body and inner peace to yoga and influences others to practice.
Master yoga trainer, Sadie Nardini, wrote a chant in honor of Jon. Checkout the Bon Jovi chant.
Creative Commons 2008
Of course yoga is not a religion. Most of us are familiar with the religions of the world – the larger ones anyway – and yoga is not one of them. Check out Wikipedia’s list of religions. If you ever see yoga on this list, please let me know. Certainly, you can bring your religion into your yoga practice just like you can with anything else – ingesting bread and wine or playing baseball for example.
Yoga is much older than most of today’s religions. Yoga started – perhaps more than 5000 years ago – as a list of instructions on how to live a life of honor – don’t be violent; don’t steal; don’t be greedy; don’t take more than your share; tell the truth. The physical poses (asanas) came later. Many religions adopted similar philosophies. You are probably familiar with the Ten Commandments.
Yoga is not a religion, nor do you have to be of a certain faith to practice yoga. Perhaps there are some types of yoga that directly incorporate religion but I am referring to yoga as we know it in America. I have taken more than 1000 yoga classes with 100 different instructors of all different faiths and I have never been subject to someone’s religious beliefs.
What about meditation? Meditation is simply focusing on one thing to calm what we yogis call the “monkey mind” – the never ending slew of anxious and negative thoughts that can steal our peace. Your meditation practice could include dancing, staring at a candle flame, listening to music, reading the Bible, reading the Quran, chanting, doing the dishes, praying, petting the cat – whatever works for you.
In conclusion, the practice yoga is not a religion any more than baseball is a religion; however, you are welcome to bring your religion into your yoga practice – just as a baseball player may trace the sign of the cross on his chest before batting. It is a personal choice. Typically, people who practice yoga regularly become more relaxed, more generous, more accepting of themselves and others – more Christ-like. Maybe yoga should be a religion. What do you think?
by Relaxing Music
Creative Commons 2012
There are eight main types of yoga including Hatha Yoga – the most popular among Americans. Within each type, there are many styles of yoga. Vinyasa, Bikram and Ashtanga are some examples of Hatha Yoga styles. Within each style are different lineages that date back to ancient India and extend to modern America. You may find more than a dozen ways to do a pose and more than ½ dozen names for that pose.
Although it can be confusing, all of the methods share a common goal – to maintain and improve health. Yoga Therapy classes focus on just that – how yoga can help prevent, manage and even reverse health problems including cardiorespiratory disease, cancer, arthritis, depression and anxiety – just to name a few.
Yoga Therapy focuses not so much on how to do each pose but how to adopt a lifestyle that includes a daily practice of poses (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), hand positions (mudras), locks (bandhas) and powerful thoughts (kriyas). It focuses on yoga as preventive medicine and as a way to reduce health care costs. Yoga Therapy classes include a lot breathing techniques so be prepared for some Ujjayi, Alternate Nostril Breathing and more. Visit Carole Fogerty’s blog to read a great article, 12 Great Reasons to Start Alternate Nostril Breathing.
Yoga Therapy classes are often taught by health care professionals. As more teacher training programs are born, more yoga instructors will be entering this specialty. Yoga Therapy classes are gaining popularity in the military as a means of dealing with physical and mental trauma.
Dr. Sarkar, retired vascular surgeon, teaches an outstanding Yoga Therapy class on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the Hindu Temple on Dominion Boulevard. If you are in the Chesapeake, VA area you absolutely must give it a try.
Check out the International Association of Yoga Therapists for a list of certified Yoga Therapists and schools in your area.
What are your thoughts about Yoga Therapy?
by Opening Minds
Creative Commons 2011
Since my post What Is Bikram Yoga, I have participated in several Bikram classes and am ready to give my review. I attended one class at an official Bikram studio and several classes at a Hot Yoga studio. Let me explain the differences.
Bikram Choudhury believes that his style of yoga is the only way and it is forbidden to use his name if the studio offers other styles of yoga. The instructors must have completed training with Bikram Choudhury. Variations and modifications are not shown and could be considered disrespectful. The humidity is regulated at 40%. I found the dry heat to be a little uncomfortable. It felt like a sauna whereas I prefer a steam room but that is a personal preference. When class was over the instructor said, “Congratulations, you have just survived 90 minutes in the Bikram torture chamber.” I left red faced, sweaty and tired but with a sense of accomplishment. I felt great afterwards.
There are Hot Yoga studios that teach Bikram style yoga but, although the instructors trained with Bikram Choudhury, they are not allowed to use his name because of the other styles of yoga offered at the studio. These classes are listed as Hot Yoga classes with 90 minute durations so you may be doing Bikram yoga and not even know it. Look for the 90 minute classes. Pose variations and modifications are welcomed. These studios don’t seem to be concerned about lowering the humidity level. In fact, the studio where I practiced had a humidifier running. The warm humid air is much more comfortable for me, especially in the wintertime when the air is already dry.
In a nutshell, I love Bikram yoga! I felt so good after my first class that I got a wave of positive energy that brought me to tears on the way home. I still don’t think that it is beginner-friendly and I will stand by that. If you have been practicing yoga for a while, you owe it to yourself to try Bikram yoga. I now practice Bikram yoga about once a week in addition to my other classes. I prefer to practice at a Hot Yoga studio as opposed to an official Bikram studio but that is just my preference. I like variety in my yoga practice and will continue to learn and practice different styles of yoga. What’s next? Jivamukti, I think.
In case you missed it, here is the complete video.
by lululemon athletica
Creative Commons 2011
Triangle pose is great for relieving back pain because it opens the hips, increases spinal flexibility and strengthens the leg and core muscles.
- Begin by standing lengthwise on your mat with your feet about 4 feet apart.
- Turn your right foot out toward the top of your mat and your left foot in slightly about 30 degrees.
- Lengthen up through the crown of your head and ground down through your feet as you lift your arms up to shoulder height and extend out through your fingertips.
- Shift your left hip backward slightly as you extend through your right leg. At the same time, reach out through your right fingertips as if you are trying to touch the wall in front of you.
- Keep your torso strong and elongated as you fold your right arm down and your left arm up.
- Place your right hand on a block or your shin. Be sure not to collapse the right side of your torso.
- Gently open your left shoulder back and your right shoulder forward until you get a sense that your shoulders and arms are stacked directly over one another. Align your body as if it was positioned between two panes of glass.
- You can keep your gaze straight ahead or look up to your left hand. Be sure to select a gaze that is comfortable for you neck.
- Hold for 10-30 seconds.
- To come out of triangle, look down at your right foot and slightly bend your right knee as you lift up using your core strength.
- Repeat other side.
Creative Commons 2009
Ahhh, my favorite celebrity yogi Michael Franti, lead singer of Michael Franti and Spearhead. I look forward to seeing him live each year. I have even travelled to see him during the years that he didn’t make it to my area. One great thing about Michael is that he really loves his fans and it shows. He has a true yogi heart. In fact, he comes out into the crowd several times during his shows and he even takes time to talk with fans and sign autographs after the show. You can really feel the love that he has for people and his big heart comes out through his uplifting music.
Michael began practicing yoga in 2001 to deal with the stress that he was experiencing after the 911 terrorist attacks. Michael is a peace advocate. He took 911 very hard but rediscovered his peace in yoga. Michael practices just about every day and says that his yoga practice is always in his music. Michael practices on the road and likes to visit different yoga studios in each town where he plays. Michael plays at lots of yoga events including the Yoga Journal Conferences, Yoga Day at the Park and Power to the Peaceful. Look for Michael at the next yoga event in your home town. Michael, I got love for ya baby. Thank you for blessing us with your sweet music.