Yoga for the Western
world is exactly 110 years old. It was brought from India by one of their
celebrated sages, Swami Vivekananda, at the 1893 World Fair in Chicago.
Since that time it has been growing in popularity and has expanded into our
common language. Since that time we have had a stream of Swami's from India
and have brought Western Culture together with Eastern philosophies.
Although Yoga originated in Hinduism, it cannot
be equated exclusively with that religion. Yoga is many things to many
people. It can be an emotional outlet, a stress reducer, a physical
stretching program, or it can become a way of living. Through publications
Yoga Journal and continued updates on this website, you can explore many
expressions of Yoga. Yoga for health and body...Yoga for breathing.. Yoga
for muscle toning...Yoga for digestion...Yoga for body sculpting....Yoga for
eating...Yoga of Service...and on and on the list truly could be endless.
Yoga by its very definition, which stems from
the Sanskrit language, has many perceptions contained within it. Yoga means
"Union", "Balance", "Discipline", and meanings
that take us beyond the physical and at the same time cord us into our own
bodies. This is why Yoga has captivated much of my heart, and will continue
to grow in my life as I grow in Yoga.
As a fitness instructor in years past I
instructed aerobics, weight training, and "Control" type physical
exercises. And, while I still believe there is a place for this type of
physical exercise, it has never offered the opportunities for growth at so
many levels as the practice of Yoga. I am in constant awe of the deepening
of each pose, the stretching of each layer of my being, and of the unlimited
potential for growth, opening, and expansion available in a single pose.
To see this for yourself, begin today with the
opening techniques of Yoga...Breathing...for that is the beginning of
learning Yoga in a way that will take you into new and heretofore unseen
places of yourself.
Sit on the floor cross-legged (I don't recommend
attempting the lotus position, until you are further along in your
practice). If you're uncomfortable on the floor, use a chair or whatever it
takes to allow your body to be comfortable.
Quiet your surroundings and yourself.
Place both hands palms down on your abdomen.
Fill your abdomen with breath, just as if it
were a balloon your were expanding.
Using the power of your mind...and joining it
with the rhythm of your body, inhale bringing your breath up into your back
Hold it here for a count of 5.
Then, exhale releasing the breath out through
the crown of your head.
If you feel dizzy or agitated, hold the breath
for a shorter count. Slow down and allow yourself to deepen into the
process. Often, when beginning, one may feel agitated, dizzy, or even a
little nauseous. Don't give up there. That is your body telling you that
something is working and that you need this.
When beginning this method of breathing as in
beginning a practice of Yoga, be patient with yourself. In our Western World
we are very quick to "give up" if we do not notice anything
extremely stimulating on the first few attempts or if there is discomfort of
any kind. Learn now to distinguish between the discomfort of GROWING and the
limits of your body. You have been breathing in your chest and allowing the
shallow breathing to sustain your body for some time...now be kind to your
body...give it some deep breathing and do the exercise about 4-5 times.
Then, just sit quietly for awhile...let your mind, body, and spirit begin to
communicate with one another. Do this exercise for about a week and begin to
notice the subtle differences you feel. It might be a good time to begin a
Yoga Journal of your own. Most of all remember that your body carries great
wisdom. Never push beyond what it is telling you and never demand that it
perform something outside it's limits. Make friends with your own body.
If you have any questions or would like to share
an interesting experience from practicing this exercise, you are welcome to
email me. I will address your questions as quickly as possible.
Until the next update on Yoga and Energy