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How To Do Surya Namaskar: The 12 Poses
Step 1 (Prayer Pose) Pranamasana Stand at the edge of your mat, keep your feet together and balance your weight equally on both the feet. Expand your chest and relax your shoulders. As you breathe in, lift both arms up from the sides and as you exhale, bring your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position. Step 2 (Raised Arms pose) Hastauttanasana Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the objective is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers. To get maximum benefits, you may pull the pelvis forward and ensure reaching up with your fingers rather than going backwards. Step 3 (Hand to Foot pose) Hastapadasana Breathing out, bend forward from the waist, keeping the spine erect. As you exhale completely, bring the hands down to the floor, beside the feet. Step 4 (Equestrian pose) Ashwa Sanchalanasana Breathing in, push your right leg back, as far back as possible. Bring the right knee to the floor and look up. Step 5 (Stick pose) Dandasana As you breathe in, take the left leg back and bring the whole body in a straight line and keep your arms perpendicular to the floor. Step 6 (Saluting with eight points or parts) Ashtanga Namaskara Gently bring your knees down to the floor and exhale. Take the hips back slightly, slide forward, rest your chest and chin on the floor. Raise your posterior a little bit .The two hands, two feet, two knees, chest and chin (eight parts of the body) should touch the floor. Step 7 (Cobra pose) Bhujangasana Slide forward and raise the chest up into the cobra posture. You may keep your elbows bent in this pose, the shoulders away from the ears. Look up. As you inhale, make a gentle effort to push the chest forward; as you exhale, make a gentle effort to push the navel down. Tuck the toes under. Ensure you're stretching just as much as you can; do not force. Step 8 (Mountain pose) Adho Mukha Svanasana Breathing out, lift the hips and the tail bone up, chest downwards in an 'inverted V' (/\) posture. If possible, try and keep the heels on the ground and make a gentle effort to lift the tailbone up, going deeper into the stretch. Step 9 (Equestrian pose) Ashwa Sanchalanasana Breathing in, bring the right foot forward in between the two hands, left knee down to the floor, press the hips down and look up and place the right foot exactly between the two hands and the right calf perpendicular to the floor. In this position, make a gentle effort to push the hips down towards the floor, to deepen the stretch. Step 10 (Hand to foot pose) Hastapadasana Breathing out, bring the left foot forward. Keep the palms on the floor. You may bend the knees, if necessary. Gently straighten the knees and if you can, try and touch your nose to the knees. Keep breathing. Step 11 (Raised Arms pose) Hastauttanasana Breathing in, roll the spine up, hands go up and bend backwards a little bit, pushing the hips slightly outward. Ensure that your biceps are beside your ears. The idea is to stretch up more rather than stretching backwards. Step 12 As you exhale, first straighten the body, and then bring the arms down. Relax in this position; observe the sensations in your body. Top 5 Benefits of Surya Namaskar 1. Improves Blood Circulation of the Body Due to the active process of inhalation and exhalation, the lungs are constantly ventilated and the blood remains oxygenated. It's a great way of detoxing your body and helping it get rid of excess carbon dioxide and other toxic gases. 2. Your Mantra to Weight loss When done at a fast pace, it is a great cardiovascular workout that stretches the abdominal muscles while simultaneously helping you reduce excess weight around your stomach. The asanas also result in toning your arms, abs and giving great flexibility to your spine. Moreover, It helps to strengthen your entire skeletal system including your ligaments. 3. Promotes a Regular Menstrual Cycle If you're facing the problem of an irregular menstrual cycle, these asanas will help you suppress this irregularity and if practiced daily, it ensures an easy childbirth. 4. Benefits your Skin and Hair By incorporating it in your routine it will keep you youthful and healthy even in old age. It improves your blood circulation that aids in bringing back the glow on your face; preventing the onset of wrinkles, making your skin look ageless and radiant. It also prevents hair loss and the ageing of hair. 5. Anti-anxiety and Calming Properties Surya Namaskar helps to improve memory and the nervous system. Moreover, its stabilizes the activity of the endocrine and thyroid glands, thereby reducing anxiety and inducing the sensation of complete calmness and tranquility.
The age old tradition, fasting is now making a big comeback in India
While it may be tough for you to stay away from the food items you crave the most, fasting is said to be healthy for the body. Some nutritionists deem the Navratri fast as a healthy detox since not only are the food items nutritious, they are gluten-free, high in fibre and low on fats. All of this also help in detoxification of the body. What’s more, you can shed that extra flab you’ve been wanting to get rid of as well. Do it the healthy way While the rituals have religious reasons, it is recommended that you do it the healthy way, especially if you plan to fast for all days. Fasting can detoxify your body, provided you have only fruits, vegetables, low fat yogurt, milk, milk products and unsweetened beverages rather than stuffing yourself with deep fried Navratra snacks or carbohydrate rich food like potatoes, sago, buckwheat, etc. Know the real detoxification process A real detoxification process involves drinking a lot of liquids, eating light food that is easily digestible, eating frequently, sipping herbal teas and coconut water and doing a few breathing exercises. Fruits and vegetables provide various vitamins, minerals, phytonutrient and fibres. “In my opinion, one benefit of such fasting is that it may help you to self-discipline. Most of our health problems these days are due to mindless eating. If done the right way, these fasting days can become your triggering point of eating healthy food mindfully, Are you doubling your calorie count? During the fast, some people are either completely off food, or they gorge on ‘Navratra special’ fried stuff and snacks, unknowingly consuming double the number of calories than they would on a regular day. Be consscious of what you eat. Go for the real weight loss Some people fast during these days to lose weight without understanding that weight lost by this method is not permanent. They mostly lose water and not fat and would gain the weight back again as soon as they start eating their regular meals. Not all fasting foods are healthy It will be wise to add proteins to the Navratra diet as most of the food allowed during the fasting ritual is high on carbs and low on proteins. Adding low-fat yogurt/milk, nuts and seeds is good way to achieve the goal. Avoid whole milk/condensed milk as it is loaded with saturated fats and calories. Remember, not all fasting foods are healthy. Summer foods help you stay light The time during which Chaitra Navratri falls is actually a transition time for spring to summer. So, keeping a healthy logical fast can help our body system with the light and easily digestible summer food from heavy rich winter-spring meals. Follow the Satvik diet Earlier, fasts were observed to give peace to our soul and digestive system by keeping away from “Tamsik food” and following a “Satvik diet”. Ease your digestive system by eating fruits, drinking lassi, lemon water and using sendha namak (salt). It also prevents constipation and dehydration. Flush out the toxins Drink lots of fluids to flush out the toxins and rejuvenate yourself. It also helps restore the electrolyte imbalance which occurs due to summer and heat stroke. Not just that, it has beauty effects as well as water moisturises our skin and makes it healthy. Fruits and dietary fibres are good for gut health and proper bowel movement. Eating less quantity of food at regular intervals boosts our metabolism. Also, milk and milk products provide calcium and curd, being probiotic, helps to restore healthy gut flora and good digestive system. #nutrition#fasting#healthyeating
What are Chakras? Chakras are the concentrated energy centers of the body. Chakra is a Sanskrit term and it means “wheel” or “disk” and is derived from the root word “cakra”. Chakras are spinning wheels of energy/light. Chakras have the loving responsibility of taking in, incorporating and emanating energy to keep us functioning at optimal levels. We have Major and Minor Chakras We have major and minor chakras in our energetic body systems. When a chakra is not functioning properly or if it is blocked, illness is more prone to occur. Our wellbeing on all levels can affect and is affected by the chakras. If we are feeling depressed, then we may not be taking in the maximum amount of energy for our needs. If we do not nourish our bodies with the proper food and nutrients, then we may take in less energy than more. If we “block” feelings such as anger, etc., or do not speak our truth, we may be unconsciously impeding our healthy energy flow. How to Strengthen and Enhance the Flow of Your Chakra Systems Chakra Basics On the other hand, if we endeavor to work on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, we can promote with ease the flow of energy through our chakras. Yoga is one way, for example, that we can work to strengthen and enhance the flow of our chakra systems. Clearing out clutter in our lives, physically and emotionally, helps to strengthen the flow of our energy. Forgiveness greatly enhances our energetic health. Of course, Reiki helps to strengthen the body’s energetic flow to bring back balance and promotes wellbeing on all levels. Below is a list of the major chakras and their basic properties. Base or Root Chakra – Muladhara. Bija mantra (seed sound) is lam. It is related to survival, security, and is the closest to the earth, resting at the base of the spine. The color associated with it is red. It is naturally associated with the element earth. To keep this chakra healthy, exercises such as dancing, jogging or jumping are beneficial. We should see if our security needs are being met, and take our power to create our own security in our lives so that our world is a safe and enjoyable place for us. It’s message is, “I exist”. Live your life proudly. Sacral Chakra – Svadhistana. Bija Mantra is vam. This chakra is related to sensuality, sexuality, and desire for pleasure. It is in the lower abdomen and it’s color is orange. Svadhistana is associated with the element water. Bellydancing, loving partnerships, and yoga can enhance the function of this chakra. This chakra says, “I desire”. Live your passion, whatever that may be. What are your dreams? How do you desire to live? Claim your dreams and go out and make them a reality – give birth to you dreams. Solar Plexus Chakra – Manipura. Bija mantra is ram. It’s color is yellow, and it is related to our power in this world. It’s natural element is fire, and this is where the “fire in your belly” term derives from. An overbearing solar plexus chakra (one not in balance with the other chakras in your system or one where your energy is solely focused) can result in obsessive-compulsive control. A third chakra, or solar plexus chakra, with a healthy flow allows you to control your destiny, feel your power and accomplish your dreams. The message of the third chakra is “I control”. Go forth and control your own destiny and happiness – you deserve it! Heart Chakra – Anahata. Bija mantra is yam. Green is the color of this chakra and it relates naturally to love and compassion, being at our heart center. This fourth chakra is associated with air. Healthy relationships, pets, family, even appreciation of beauty and nature enhance the health of this chakra. Anahata says, “I love”. Let your heart energy flow freely in and out. Be open to receiving the love that is available to you now, the free-flowing love that is your birthright. Sense your Reiki family around the world – feel the great love that you all share and that you selflessly emanate into this world. Shine the love that you are. Throat Chakra – Vishuddha. Bija mantra is ham. The throat center or communication center is where you speak your truth in this world. It’s color is blue. When this chakra is flowing at optimum levels, you have the ability to ask for what you need. You also reflect your truth in the world through this chakra though your communication. Singing, chanting and breathing exercises can enhance the health of this chakra. The message of the throat chakra is “I express”. Do not suppress your own beautiful voice. Speak your truth, sing your joy, emanate your love through the vibration of your words. Third Eye Chakra – Ajna. Some associated Bija mantras are Sham or Aum or Om. The natural color of this chakra is indigo. Insight, intuition, awareness and guidance are the properties of this sixth chakra. This chakra, located between the eyebrows, says, “I am the witness”. Meditation and visualization exercises can assist the healthy flow of this chakra. Be open to your inner guidance. Listen to your thoughts, they will assist you on the right path. Crown Chakra – Sahasrara. Some associated Bija mantras are Om or Ah or Soham. It is the silence between the space and represents spiritual connection. It is associated with violet or violet-white light, a color many Reiki practitioners are drawn to and use in their work and meditations. Located a little above the top of the head, it represents union, bliss, the knowledge of being at one with all. Cosmic consciousness and peace are the frequency at this chakra. “I am that I am”. It may be beneficial to meditate on the chakras for increased health of your energetic system and even intuit themes from them. Some simple ideas are: breathing energy into your chakras, starting at the base, seeing the colors vividly and visualizing your beautiful energy centers spinning in a healthy way, filling your body with health, wisdom, and light. Another idea is to meditate, starting at your base chakra, and ask them if they have a message for you. The answers you receive may be quite insightful! Also, continue to give Reiki to yourself – this is one of the best ways to assist your body’s energy system to function in a healthy way and to work toward wellness on all levels.
Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat
Yoga, an ancient practice and meditation, has become increasingly popular in today's busy society. For many people, yoga provides a retreat from their chaotic and busy lives. This is true whether you're practicing downward facing dog posture on a mat in your bedroom, in an ashram in India or even in New York City's Times Square. Yoga provides many other mental and physical benefits. Some of these extend to the kitchen table. Types of Yoga There are many types of yoga. Hatha (a combination of many styles) is one of the most popular styles. It is a more physical type of yoga rather than a still, meditative form. Hatha yoga focuses on pranayamas (breath-controlled exercises). These are followed by a series of asanas (yoga postures), which end with savasana (a resting period). The goal during yoga practice is to challenge yourself physically, but not to feel overwhelmed. At this "edge," the focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting and calm. A Better Body Image Yoga develops inner awareness. It focuses your attention on your body's abilities at the present moment. It helps develop breath and strength of mind and body. It's not about physical appearance. Yoga studios typically don't have mirrors. This is so people can focus their awareness inward rather than how a pose — or the people around them — looks. Surveys have found that those who practiced yoga were more aware of their bodies than people who didn't practice yoga. They were also more satisfied with and less critical of their bodies. For these reasons, yoga has become an integral part in the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote positive body image and self-esteem. Becoming a Mindful Eater Mindfulness refers to focusing your attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment without judging yourself. Practicing yoga has been shown to increase mindfulness not just in class, but in other areas of a person's life. Researchers describe mindful eating as a nonjudgmental awareness of the physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. They developed a questionnaire to measure mindful eating using these behaviors: Eating even when full (disinhibition) Being aware of how food looks, tastes and smells Eating in response to environmental cues, such as the sight or smell of food Eating when sad or stressed (emotional eating) Eating when distracted by other things The researchers found that people who practiced yoga were more mindful eaters according to their scores. Both years of yoga practice and number of minutes of practice per week were associated with better mindful eating scores. Practicing yoga helps you be more aware how your body feels. This heightened awareness can carry over to mealtime as you savor each bite or sip, and note how food smells, tastes and feels in you mouth. A Boost to Weight Loss and Maintenance People who practice yoga and are mindful eaters are more in tune with their bodies. They may be more sensitive to hunger cues and feelings of fullness. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes once a week for at least four years, gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight actually lost weight. Overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared with those who did not practice yoga. Researchers attributed this to mindfulness. Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with food and eating. Enhancing Fitness Yoga is known for its ability to soothe tension and anxiety in the mind and body. But it can also have an impact on a person's exercise capacity. Researchers studied a small group of sedentary individuals who had not practiced yoga before. After eight weeks of practicing yoga at least twice a week for a total of 180 minutes, participants had greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness. Cardiovascular Benefits Several small studies have found yoga to have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors: It helped lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension. It's likely that the yoga restores "baroreceptor sensitivity." This helps the body senses imbalances in blood pressure and maintain balance. Another study found that practicing yoga improved lipid profiles in healthy patients as well as patients with known coronary artery disease. It also lowered excessive blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes and reduced their need for medications. Yoga is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits. Before you start a new exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor. Researchers are also studying if yoga can help people with depression and arthritis, and improve survival from cancer. Yoga may help bring calm and mindfulness to your busy life.