Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cold Showers Rule !

You may not like what I have to say, but I have to tell you that a daily cold shower is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  The yogis have known through the ages that cold water keeps you young and healthy.  Can't you just imagine the yogi coming out of his hut in the pre-dawn morning and immersing himself in the glacial stream of water that runs through the Himalayan mountains?  We may not have Himalayan mountain water, but on some mornings in winter it can't be too far off!

The Yoga of Cold Water

Why would anyone want to take a cold shower when a warm shower feels so good?  Because when that cold water hits your skin, your body systems begin to do what can only be described as internal yoga.

You see, cold water opens the capillaries and strengthens the entire nervous system.  When you take a cold shower, your blood rushes out to meet the challenge.  This means all the capillaries open up and all toxins are cleansed out.

When the capillaries return to normal, the blood supply goes back to the organs.  Each organ has its own blood supply.  In this way, the organs get their flushing, like a beautiful rain that grows the fertile crops.  When the organs get flushed, immediately the glands have to change their secretion.  When the glands secrete, the entire body system is revitalized.

The glandular system is the key to vitality.  According to the science of yoga, youth is measured by how vibrant and healthy the glandular system is.

When you are under the cold shower, your body will certainly feel the cold.  But if given enough time (30 seconds to 1 minute), your blood and capillaries will open fully and your body will not feel cold.

If you bring your body to that temperature where it can meet the cold by its own circulatory power, you have won the day.  You have empowered your own health and happiness.

Preparing The Body

Cold showers are strictly for the purpose of internal health, and are not meant to replace warm showers or bathing.
  1. First massage your body with pure oil.  Almond is preferred for its high mineral content.  The oil will be driven into the skin through the pores while showering, and it will provide a protective coating to the skin.
  2. Using a pair of mid-thigh or knee-length underwear or shorts while in the shower will protect the femur bone in the thigh, which controls the calcium-magnesium balance in the body.  If no such protection is available, keep the thighs from the direct hit of the water.
  3. Allow the cold water to hit your feet, bottoms and tops, and then the rest of your body, including your face, but not your whole head.  Massage as you move in and out from the cold water.  Pay special attention to the lymph nodes under the armpits to help prevent colds.  Women should massage their breasts under the cold water to keep circulation strong and to keep cancer away.
  4. Breathe deeply or chant a mantra to keep yourself going.  Start at 30 seconds, and work up to 1 minute.  Towel dry, rubbing the skin briskly.

Although warm showers can be taken at any time of the day, a brief, cold shower is best taken first thing in the morning.

Those who have circulatory problems or other medical conditions should seek medical advice before trying cold showers.  Pregnant or menstruating women should not take cold showers.

Source from K.I.S.S Guide to Yoga

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Benefits of Poses

Asanas are based on the three basic human postures of standing, sitting, or lying down.  But they are not a series of movements to be followed mechanically.  They have a logic which must be internalized if the pose is to be practised correctly.

The Sanskrit term, asana, is sometimes translated as "pose" and sometimes as "posture".  Neither translation is wholly accurate, as they do not convey the element of thought or consciousness that must inform each movement of the asana.  The final pose of an asana is achieved when all the parts of the body are positioned correctly, with full awareness and intelligence.

To achieve this, you must think through the structure of the asana.  Realise the fundamental points by imagining how you will adjust and arrange each part of your anatomical body, especially the limbs, in the given movements.

Then, mould the body to fit the structure of the asana, making sure that the balance between both sides of the body is perfect, until there is no undue stress on any one organ, muscle, bone, or joint.

Importance of Practising Asanas

The practice of asanas has a beneficial impact on the whole body.  Asanas not only tone the muscles, tissues, ligaments, joints, and nerves, but also maintain the smooth functioning and health of all the body's systems.  They relax the body and mind, allowing both to recover from fatigue or weakness, and the stress of daily life.  Asanas also boost metabolism, lymphatic circulation, and hormonal secretions, and bring about a chemical balance in the body.

It is important to keep practising until you are absolutely comfortable in the final pose.  It is only then that you experience the full benefits of the asana.  The sage Patanjali observes in Yoga Sutra 11.47, "Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless, and  the infinite being within is reached."

Source from B.K.S. Iyengar - Yoga the path to Holistic Health

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Yoga Posture: The Tree (Vrksasana)

Vrksa means a tree.  It's a balancing exercise.  For the most part, it is physically simple, and yet it is mentally highly demanding.  This posture develop, to the highest degree, the powers of mental concentration and single-mindedness of thought, as well as physical balance.

The pose tones the leg muscles and gives one a sense of balance and poise.  This balancing pose adjusts the vertebrae of the spine and promotes good posture.  It refreshes and uplifts the mind.

Common Faults
  • Body is leaning to one side, or twisted with one hip pushing out.
  • Standing knee is bent, or rotated outwards.
  • Palms are not flat against each other.
  • Elbows are not straight above the head.
  • Thumbs are crossed, instead of side by side.
  • Bent knee is coming forwards, rather than pointing out to the side.
  • Eyes are looking downwards.
  • Mind lacks proper concentration.

The above pose, Half Lotus Tree, is for more advanced, and more flexible, students.  Fixing the eyes on a point in front of you is the key to balancing the body.

For this Tree variation, place the foot on the opposite thigh in Half Lotus position.  Hold the pose for as long as you feel comfortable.  Make sure you practise on both sides.

Note: Please perform the yoga under the guide of a certified yoga teacher especially for beginner. You are at your own risk and responsible if you perform on your own. Whatever provided here is just act as an information.

Source from Yoga Mind & Body - Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
                       Light on Yoga - B.K.S. Iyengar