Category Archives: Uncategorized

To you…with love – Anahata Yoga’s Story

As I sit down to write to you,there are multiple images flashing ,multiple images  mapping the 10 years since I first taught yoga to a group of 4 people on my friend’s terrace.

Never ever had I thought that this passion for yoga,this passion to teach and share  yoga will go such a long way.With a very humble beginning in 2009, every step taken was to fulfill a burning desire, to spread the benefits of yoga and make people realize that YOGA is for everyone.

With that vision was born ANAHATA YOGA ZONE,with the very first studio being established in 2010, and today, we are proud to say that we have 3 Studios and various Satellite Centres and Corporate Wellness sessions  and we have grown from one instructor to 15+ instructors, 2 students to more than 500 regular students.

We have conducted several batches of Teachers Training Course (TTC) that has helped many people choose yoga as a rewarding career, with many of them successfully running their own studios today.

The dream and vision was always very clear—to spread the benefits of yoga and influence as many people possible.We are dedicated to making our studios a place where yoga is considered as positive, fun and thoughtful. We inspire people to take up yoga because it’s better for their minds as well their bodies. We love the atmosphere that the friendliness of great classes creates and we believe that feeling fantastic is about creating positivity and joy together, not working in isolation. And, we’ve gone to great lengths to create spaces that reflect that!

As we grew,studio to studio,batch to batch,student to student,there were innumerable challenges,multiple hardships,but the love and faith from our students helped us overcome everything and we kept spreading our wings.

Adding multiple styles of yoga,conducting regular events and workshops and hosting various free yoga awareness programmes not only in Hyderabad but all over India.

Ofcourse, a major contribution in the growth of ANAHATA YOGA ZONE was the dedication and commitment of our instructors who shared the same passion and love to teach and spread.

We are eternally grateful to each and everyone who believed in us played a  role in the growth of Anahata!

Transformation is our message and Yoga is our medium

Now, as we move forward on this journey of transforming more lives through yoga and have people become the best version of themselves, we felt our brand needs to echo the same essence. And to strengthen that message, we decided to rebrand our logo and our image. We now travel onward with renewed vigour, renewed passion and a renewed image.

The Meaning behind Our New and Transformed Logo

anahata-yoga-logo-hyderabad

Our logo stands for Anahata chakra, or heart chakra that is the fourth primary chakra – the seat where love, passion and compassion dwells. Anahata is associated with balance, calmness, and serenity, charity to others and psychic healing.The logo has a circle, symbolic of the chakra or wheel that is constantly in motion, depicting change. Change is a reality. The world around us is constantly changing as well as our physicality changes.You accept and flow with the change, but yet the essence of you remains unchanged.

The image of man in the centre of the chakra – ‘the urban yogi’ – with a hand on the heart represents radiating and receiving love.The colour green is the colour of the anahata chakra. It is the colour of life, renewal, nature, and energy, is associated with meanings of growth, harmony, and prosperity.

Anahata is as much about feeling good as it is about looking good!

– Anahata Yoga Zone

Anahata Yoga Zone was borne out of love and our trainings reflect just that. So whether you’re an expert or a beginner, we will help you to fit a better body and a better mind into your life!

Come, join us as we transform ourselves and you.

 After all, yoga is an inside job!

Love and Health,

Pratibha Agarwal

Founder & Urban Yogi

Anahata Yoga Zone

YOGA FOR RUNNERS

YOGA PRACTICE FOR RUNNERS

Yoga,they say is very complementary to running and that the runners should include atleast twice a week yoga practice in their routine.Because YOGA  improves their form and balance and decrease their susceptibility to overuse, injuries of the lower extremities, including plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, patellofemoral (knee) pain, IT band syndrome and trochanteric bursitis (hip pain). Yoga also improves their focus before and during the race, when mental staying power is as important as physical endurance.

During the course of an average mile run, your foot will strike the ground 1,000 times. The force of impact on each foot is about three to four times your weight. It’s not surprising, then, to hear runners complain of bad backs and knees, tight hamstrings, and sore feet.

A typical runner experiences too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating, and loosening work. Without opposing movements, the body will compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability. Compensation puts stress on muscles, joints, and the entire skeletal system.

The below mentioned yoga poses will help the runners not only to run but also will prevent them to be sidelined by injuries and discomfort brought on by your running program. Chronic injuries can eventually self-correct through a gentle yet consistent yoga practice. Remember, your body is on your side. It has an inherent intelligence to bring about a state of equilibrium no matter how many times your feet hit the pavement.

yoga-poses-for-runners-01-fiss431DOWNWARD FACING DOG

“The most common issues for runners are shin splits, knee and foot problems, and IT-band syndrome so poses that are going to lengthen, strengthen, and open the hips, quads, calves and hamstrings are recommended.” Downward Dog does a lot of that, in addition to opening the arms and upper back, she says—which also tend to get tight after long stretches of repetitive forward-and-backward swinging. Lift your hip bones straight toward the ceiling and push your heels into the ground for the best overall stretch.

 

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-02-fiss431UPWARD FACING DOG

Runners often have very strong legs but weak upper bodies including the core and arms, which may hurt their performance. Practicing an upper-body yoga sequence can help build strength in these neglected areas, she says. From Downward Dog, move into plank (or high push-up) position, lower halfway to a low push-up, and then roll over your toes and arch your chest upward into a backbend for Upward Dog.

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-03-fiss431PASCHIMOTTANASANA/FORWARD BEND

Any pose that involves reaching for your toes is great for stretching your hamstrings and calves,  pulling up on your toes can also stretch your arch and your IT band—a perpetually tight muscle in runners that travels from the hip to the outer knee. Harrison likes to do both standing and seated forward folds after a run. For the best stretch when seated, hinge at the waist and reach as far you can with a straight back before folding over your legs. If you can’t touch your toes when standing, bend your knees slightly or stand with your feet slightly apart, or place your palms on your calves.

Yoga_BoundAnglePose_01_300x350COBBLER’S POSE

Sitting in Cobbler pose (also known as Bound Angle pose), with the soles of your feet touching and your knees wide apart, opens the lower back, hips and inner thighs, especially when you fight the urge to hurry through your routine and hold it for several minutes at a time. If your hips or groin feel too tight to sit up straight or to bring your heels in close to your pelvis, sit on a block or a blanket. Don’t force your knees down to the ground, but let them drop naturally so you feel a gentle stretch.

yoga-poses-for-runners-05-fiss431RECLINED PIGEON POSE

This pose is great for improve the range-of-motion and flexibility in your hips, which will in turn lead to better running form. For this stretch, lie on your back with your knees bent, and cross your left ankle over your right quad. Gently pull your legs toward you for a stretch in your left glute and hamstring, then repeat on the other side.

 

 

imagesBRIDGE POSE

Backbends help open the shoulders and the front of the body, and also strengthens the core. “They’re good counterposes to running, because the longer we run the more we tend to hunch forward.” Lift your hips up toward the sky and try to keep your body in a straight line with your core engaged. To open your chest even further, clasp your hands together underneath your pelvis and try to roll your shoulder blades toward each other

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-07-fiss431ARDHYAMATSYENDRASANA

“Running is all forward and backward, and there’s not a lot of turning or swiveling or lateral movement,” says Harrison. “You’re essentially stuck in the same position for however many miles you’re going.” Twists can help loosen and lengthen the spine, and can ease a stiff neck and shoulders after a long run. You can do a basic twist while sitting Indian style—or, try Half Lord of the Fishes pose: Cross one leg over the other, knee pointed toward the sky and the sole of your foot on the ground. Reach your opposite arm across your body and push it against the outside of your thigh, near your knee, to deepen the twist.

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-08-fiss431ANJANAYEEASANA

Low lunges are a great way to start your yoga practice, because they get your whole body engaged,” says Harrison. “They also force you to practice your balance, which is an important skill for runners.” Lunges stretch out both the front and the back of the legs, open the hips, and strengthen the core. To take a low lunge even further, drop down onto your elbows in Lizard pose. This position works all kinds of muscle groups — thighs, groin, abs — and improves flexibility in the split-legged position that’s similar to a running stride.

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-09-fiss431TREE POSE

Balancing on one leg is great for athletes—runners especially. “The more you can strengthen your legs and improve your balance, the less likely you are to twist an ankle or fall down when you’re on a trail or any type of uneven ground.” To master Tree pose, fix your gaze on an object in the distance—whether it’s the horizon line or a spot on your studio wall. Once you’re able to stand in Tree for 30 seconds to a minute, make it harder by practicing with your eyes closed.

 

triangle-pose3TRIANGLE POSE

This type of twist can be really difficult for runners because their hips and glutes are so tight—but it can also be extremely beneficial for the same reasons. If moving into Triangle pose causes pain in your outer hip, she adds, try resting your arm on a block instead of the floor. No matter what sequence of poses you do, Harrison adds, remember that your breath is also important—both on the mat and on the track. “If you can practice lengthening and evening out your breath while you’re stretching, it will also transfer to smoother, calmer breathing while you run.

 

slide_354574_3877179_freeGARLAND POSE

Also called the Garland Pose, the squat in yoga isn’t all that different from the one you’ve done at the gym, form-wise. To get into the position, squat with your knees over your toes — legs at a 45-degree angle from the midline — and hold your hands together like you’re praying. The heels don’t necessarily need to touch the ground. Hold for five to 10 breaths. The squat stretches the back, inner thighs, calves and feet — everything that tightens up from running.
slide_354574_3877180_freeLOCUST POSE

Despite its unfortunate name, the locust is a simple and essential pose for distance runners. To do it, lay on your stomach with your hands by the hips, then lift your torso, arms, and legs simultaneously. Hold this for five to 10 breaths and repeat three times.

It’s not as easy as it looks. This position strengthens the muscles in your neck, back, and the backs of the arms and legs. You’ll find that it improves your posture, especially toward the end of a marathon-length run, when those core support muscles start to give way. Plus, you’ll have a little more protection from lower back injuries that start to plague us mostly in our thirties.

 

slide_354574_3877181_freeBOAT POSE

The boat might feel familiar if you’ve done crunch variations. It’s arguably more difficult, though, if you focus on form and not just scorching the core. To get there, sit with the knees and ankles together, then lift your legs and arms into a V position. Hold for five to 15 breaths and repeat three times. We’ve always found it difficult to know if we’re balancing on the right part of the seat: What you’re aiming for is the triangle formed by your sit bones (the bones that support you on a bike saddle) and tailbone.

The important thing with the boat is to keep your back long and straight, strengthening the core and the hip flexors, which are hard to target but get hammered during runs.

 

Yoga’s internal focus centers your attention on your own body’s movements rather than on an external outcome. Runners can use yoga practice  to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. Asanas move your body through gravitational dimensions while teaching you how to coordinate your breath with each subtle movement. The eventual result is that your body, mind, and breath are integrated in all actions. Through consistent and systematic asana conditioning, you can engage, strengthen, and place demands on all of your intrinsic muscle groups, which support and stabilize the skeletal system. This can offset the effects of the runner’s one-dimensional workouts.

BY-

PRATIBHA AGARWAL

INSTRUCTOR AND DIRECTOR

ANAHATA YOGA ZONE

 

Navratri and Dussehra…….. A TIME FOR MENTAL DETOX

dushehra-4dNavratri and Dussehra……..
A TIME FOR MENTAL DETOX

The holiday season has begun for many. The ritual of fasting these nine days of detox and clean the body as also to clean the house to get rid of clutter is followed in many cultures.But what is the true significance of this cleaning and also of the annihilation of Ravana,which we have been taught since childhood is the victory of god over evil. These practices or rituals may have a clear and practical message for a peaceful mind. Mental turmoil is clearly not just a contemporary affliction!
The mythical tale of the popular Indian festival of Dussehra also known as Vijaya Dashmi, like other major world holy days, is seen as a metaphor of mental reflection and clarification of our own minds. Swami Satyananda wrote in Yoga Magazine, October 2008:

“In the present day, the demons that we need to deal with are ignorance, corruption and terrorism that are rampant in the entire world. They are the Ravanas of today. Therefore, the destruction of Ravana should not be seen as a mere symbol. Ravana or Mahisasura should not be simply relegated to Puranic tales or history; their annihilation should be real for us. That is the significance of this festival.
It denotes that you will remove ignorance and lack of awareness from your mind. That is when you will be truly able to say that Ravana or Mahisasura has died.”
The aim is to get rid of attitudes, thinking, behaviors that become obstructions to a peaceful, harmonious, and joyful life. These are universal concepts and the stories help bring them to life.
This is the time to reinforce the discipline of practicing the “YAMAS and NIYAMAS”as cited in Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga that of “Swadhyay”,to understand and observe one’s habit patterns which bind us to our personalities and hinder our progress.
That of “TAPAS”,to keep the fire ignited which will burn our samskaras and drive us to a better “we”.
Arguably, the core of our yoga practice is the work that we do to purify, reforge, and replace the inner patterns that in Sanskrit are called samskaras.
Samskaras are the accumulated impressions—in scientific terms, the neuronal patterns—that create our character, our ways of thinking and acting, and our perspective on life.
The word samskara can be translated just the way it sounds in English: as “some scars.” Samskaras are energy patterns in our consciousness. I always picture them as mental grooves, like the rivulets in sand that let water run in certain patterns. Samskaras create our mental, emotional, and physical default settings.
The tendency to think “I can’t do this” when you’re faced with a new challenge is a samskara, and so is the confidence that develops once you’ve mastered something that was hard for you. The tension lump that shows up in your right shoulder when you feel stressed is a samskara, and so are the song lyrics that pop into your mind unexpectedly and—in my case at least—often reveal themselves to be the perfect comment on the situation that you’re in at the time.
Neurophysiologists mapping neural pathways in the brain report that each time we react in a certain way—getting angry, for instance, or procrastinating yet one more time—we strengthen the power of that pathway. The yogic texts make the same point. The bottom line in each case is that the way we feel, the way we react, and the behavior we manifest at any given moment are the result of samskaras, or neural connections, operating under the surface.
Once the samskaric pathways have been set, most people just keep running down them, like rats in a maze, reacting with the same old patterns and feelings every time they find themselves in a situation that seems to mirror whatever the original trigger might have been.
You probably know, intellectually at least, how this works. When you’re feeling abandoned because your friend hasn’t called you in two weeks, you might understand that it isn’t because he’s stopped liking you. You may even realize (especially if you’ve done some therapy) that his silence is triggering one of your old samskaric grooves—perhaps a childhood memory of abandonment. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily stop you from reacting. Samskaras are powerful, which is why knowing better does not always change our behavior. There’s a weight to those accumulated impressions. They are, on a daily basis, the reason we think and feel the way we do.
That’s both good news and bad news. The bad news about samskaric grooves is that as long as the negative ones are in place, it’s hard to escape the limitations imposed by our personal history. The good news, however, is that we can change those grooves. The brain is so fluid and malleable, so prone to take and hold impressions, that when we keep leading it into new pathways, the accumulation of new insights, practices, and experiences will eventually overwhelm the old ones and, given the right circumstances, even eliminate them entirely.

Create New Grooves
One of the best ways to create new samskaras is to keep consciously shifting your behavior and ways of thinking out of negative patterns and into positive ones. This idea is the basis of many of the transformative practices we do in yoga—for example, the practices of truthfulness and loving kindness, or Patanjali‘s practice of countering a negative thought or feeling with a positive one. Suppose that every time you feel angry, you make a point of remembering love, or of finding the energy behind the anger, or of looking inward and asking, “Who’s angry?” or even of reminding yourself that there might be another way to look at the situation. After doing any of these for a while, you’ll notice a shift in yourself. You might still fall into the anger groove, but along with the anger samskaras, you’ll have developed an alternative set of samskaric grooves that will rise up along with your anger and remind you that there are more expansive ways of approaching the situation. Your practice will have created a positive “field” inside you that, in time, will become as strong as the negative one. You now have more choices about how you react.
Moreover, most of the core yogic practices—asana, meditation, study, mantra repetition, visualization, Pranayama—not only create new, positive samskaras, they also have the power to wash away the old, limiting, pain-producing ones. Here, meditation is especially effective because it can literally flush old samskaras out of your unconscious. When mental static or strong emotions surface during practice, beginning meditators sometimes think they’re doing something wrong. In fact, a rush of thoughts and emotions is part of the natural process of samskaric burn off, in which some of your layers of buried impressions come up to be released. There’s a reason why a period of meditation or yoga will leave you feeling calmer, clearer, and less emotionally cluttered—even if your mind did not become noticeably calmer during the meditation itself. Simply practicing has cleansed your unconscious of some of its burden.
There are many stories of Dussehra. All Indians know the story of Rama and Ravana. Rama was the king of Ayodhya who had been sent into exile (accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshman). Ravana was the king of Lanka who abducts Sita. Rama is the symbol of light and harmony, or sattwa. Ravana is darkness and disharmony, or tamas. They battle at Lanka when Rama goes to rescue Sita. Ravana has ten heads and is finally vanquished. The day of conquest is celebrated as Dussehra (destruction of ten heads–dass/ten, hara/ cut or destroy).

Symbolism Of Ravana
“Ravana is depicted as the king of Raakshasas [demons]. He is said to have ten heads. He was not born with ten heads. Who is this Ravana and what are his ten heads? Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Moha (delusion), Lobha (greed), Mada (pride), Maatsyasya (envy), Manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (will) and Ahamkara (the ego) -all these ten constitute the ten heads. Ravana is of all the ten qualities. Each one can decide for himself whether he is a Ravana or Rama according to his qualities.”
The redemption suggested in yoga is abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (non-attachment) as explained by Swami Satyananda,

“Vairagya…. is the ability to disconnect the present from the past. Past events disturb one’s present life. All that you ever see or hear accumulates in your mind. Your grandfather may have died five years ago, but you still think of him. The connection of the past with the present needs to be determined by every individual for himself. We are not able to do this, and therefore our minds remain disturbed.”

So this Dussehra,let’s work to clear and destroy the darkness within and open up to a more aware and conscious “us”.

BY PRATIBHA AGARWAL
ANAHATA YOGA ZONE

(inputs from swami satyananda’s teachings and yoga journal)

ARE MEN INTIMIDATED BY YOGA………..?

s433770732928253702_p15_i1_w300

Where are all the male yogis?

Yogasana is a practice that was designed by men, originally intended for men. But the undeniable absence of men in the yoga classes makes you wonder….. Why is it that in this new age, men share no interest in taking part in this amazing practice? Is it because, they identify emotions like aggression and competition with physical activity? Or is it because they simply haven’t understood the holistic nature of yoga practices? Are they not aware that these lessons stretch far beyond a body position — they transcend into life. Yoga has seven additional limbs, with asana as only one — the most popular. Are they not aware of the fact, some of the best athletes of today incorporate yoga into their everyday lives? Many celebrity men, not only from India but all over the world are following the path of yoga.

There have been many misrepresentations of yoga, especially now that it has been commercialized; many skinny women are seen advertising yoga. May be that is why, yoga is perceived to be a gentle form of physical activity for feminine, delicate bodies. These misconceptions are very common amongst those who don’t fully understand the practice.

For all men out here, let’s be clear… yoga does not make you dainty or feminine. It makes you strong and durable. It provides you with a constant challenge to become a better form of yourself, day in and day out. It teaches you how to find comfort and contentment in some of the most uncomfortable situations.

Is it not funny, when guys say, ‘I don’t think I should do yoga because I’m not flexible’? It’s like saying, ‘I’m too weak, so I can’t lift weights.’ Actually if one is not flexible, that’s the precise reason one should be stretching on the yoga mat.

Majority of the men, are naturally tight. Though boys and girls may be born equally flexible, by adolescence, boys generally lose flexibility faster than girls, and as boys become men, the differences in flexibility tend to grow. Researchers have noted this gap, although they can’t specifically link it to differences in hormones, musculature, or connective tissue. Whatever is to blame, the typical man’s pursuits and lifestyle, does not help them to retain the original flexibility.

While increasing your range of motion and flexibility, yoga postures enhance the aesthetic of the physique. It even enables you to lift heavier weight. Additionally, most yoga poses are held for longer durations than traditional exercises. This causes your muscles to have an isometric contraction which increases overall muscular endurance.

Lifting weights shortens muscle fibers, leading to reduced flexibility. Asanas like plank, cobra, up-dog and most inversions, help in building great scapular durability, which is a prerequisite for upper body strength training. Exercises like bench press, pull ups and seated row all depend on the serratus anterior, trapezius muscles, etc. in order to perform these exercises.

Most yoga classes begin with a reminder to honor your body’s particular needs and limits on that particular day. This basic ability to scan and assess yourself as you practice will help reduce the incidence of injury when running or playing other sports. Plus, flexible, well-stretched yoga muscles will heal and recover more quickly after working out or getting strained.

Men often suffer from tightness particularly in the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders that can lead to injury or weakness. Over-training in any one sport can cause repetitive stress and other more serious injuries.

Yoga is a full-body workout that creates both strength and flexibility. You need to have both. One without the other is a recipe for disaster. The yoga session for men should include the practices which stretch out guys’ tightest spots (like the shoulders, hips, and groin) and strengthen muscles that get no love during workouts (like the low back and knees).

Forward Bend : Padhastasana
Stretches hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthens legs and knees
What’s good about it ? This is a great move to use as part of a warm-up for any workout.
Sometimes it’s difficult to know that buildup of tension in head, neck and shoulders, and can create headaches, insomnia, poor circulation and decreased lung capacity. If you practice slow, steady breathing along with this pose, it can lower your blood pressure over time.

Downward-Facing Dog : Adhomukh shwanasana
Stretches feet, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves; strengthens arms, legs, and core
What’s good about it? Men often experience back pain due to chronic tightness in the hamstrings and hips. It’s also common for them to have very tight shoulders. Down Dog releases those areas, while building upper body strength. If you can do only one pose a day, start with Downward Dog.

Chair : Utkatasana 

Stretches shoulders and chest; strengthens thighs, calves, spine, and ankles
What’s good about it?  No gym necessary! Chair pose torches abdominal fat while strengthening the thighs and legs.

Crescent Lunge : Anjaneyasana

Loosens tight hips by stretching the groin; strengthens arms and legs
What’s good about it? Tight hips can cause lower back pain, knee strain, and injury, which can keep you out of the game, out of the gym, and in pain at your desk. Add Crescent Lunge to your pre-workout routine to open the hips

 

Warrior I : Veerbhadrasana I
Stretches shoulders and hips; strengthens upper and lower body
What’s good about it? Warrior increases space and mobility in areas where men need it most—shoulders, hips, and knees. It’s another pose that generates great stability in and around the knee, so increases stability for high-impact workouts.

Bridge pose : Setubandhasana
Stretches chest, neck, spine, and hips
What’s good about it? Many men are tight in the intercostals muscles and connective tissue surrounding the rib cage, which can limit lung capacity. Bridge pose opens the chest and releases those tight muscles, allowing for fuller, easier breaths. Over time, practicing this pose can improve performance in all physical activities and is helpful for relieving upper respiratory issues.

Bow Pose : Dhanurasana
Stretches hips, shoulders, and thighs; strengthens back

What’s good about it? One of the best stress-busting poses, Bow opens the chest to allow you to take in more oxygen. Strong abs are great, but can lead to injury if you don’t strengthen the back, too. Bow pose takes care of this, reducing your risk of injury due to muscular imbalance.

 

Boat Pose : Naukasana
Strengthens abs, spine, arms and hip flexors

What’s good about it? In addition to strengthening the core and back muscles, Boat promotes healthy prostate gland function.

Hero Pose : Virasana
Stretches knees, ankles and thighs

What’s good about it? Hero pose stabilizes and strengthens the vulnerable knee joints while lubricating the connective tissues in and around the knee with blood, oxygen, and fluid, making it an essential pose for runners.

Reclining Big Toe : Supta Padangusthasana
Stretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves; strengthens the knees

What’s good about it? This pose stimulates the prostate gland and improves digestion. Runners may find it useful for relieving sciatica caused by a tight piriformis.

Bringing yoagsana practice in the routine will make a man realize that the mat offers him a place to calm his nerves and breathe deeply. He returns to the office rejuvenated and relaxed, ready to work with a purpose.

Although the primary mission of yoga is balance (in both body and mind), it seriously challenges your strength and flexibility. There are a fair share of poses that put people—particularly men—to the test. Advanced yoga positions that every guy should strive to achieve are Chakrasana, Shirshasana, Sarvangasana and Halasana.

Even though yoga practices are safe (if done under able guidance), men also have to be more mindful about injuries. As some yoga teachers observe, men also are more likely to push into a position rather than relax into it or avoid it completely. As with anything, the baby-step approach helps. Developing your practice from simple to advance postures, understanding the ways to approach a posture and the non-competitive attitude helps!

MEDITATION:

Meditation—the ability to quiet your mind—is probably the biggest challenge! The ability to obtain focus and clarity is a tremendous advantage for everyone. The practice can also teach a guy who’s overwhelmed by his many responsibilities that the best way to get things done is by being present—focusing on one thing at a time. Meditation has vast benefits from improving your mental focus, clarity, lowering stress levels, to kick starting your immune system. Practice every day to settle the mind.

The countless benefits of yoga extend far beyond gender. Open up to possibility and indulge in opportunity. Be well!

 

BY SUJATA NERURKAR

 

SPRING UP…………..!!!!!

“Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal and transformation in our lives.” ~Mary Ann Brussat

Spring is a time of dawning light, new life, new birth, and new hope — a time of warmth, exuberance, dancing, and blossoming. Spring is a season of renewal and rebirth. It’s a time when buds become leaves and flowers.

As outside, so inside! Watching the leaves fluttering to the ground in the fall, we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in our lives. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that have been a burden. All the religious traditions pay tribute to such acts of relinquishment. After the cleaning and letting go, here comes the spring, making way for fresh possibilities and new commitments. It’s a time to revive our senses and expand our horizons. It’s a time to begin again.

Windows are open wide in the spring, carpets hang outside on the line, and the breeze is gentle and warm. It is the best time to rid yourself of unwanted accumulations, vacuum the dust, take down cobwebs. To make way for new growth, it helps to clear our mental landscape of any destructive thoughts or feelings.

Challenge your fears. Anytime new insight replaces an old assumption or a fossilized perception is the spring. New understandings sprout, new tolerances appear, and new curiosity draws you to previously dark places. Just as the sun shines earlier and longer in the spring, changes that seemed impossible appear to be possible with each new insight into your own health.

All forms of life are designed to adapt to their environment, becoming dormant in the autumn and reactivated in the spring. We humans are no exception. Spring is the perfect time to effect a positive change in our lives because the ever-lengthening days of warmth and light — and all of nature’s responses to them — are powerful cues for new growth.

It’s time to stimulate the growth cycle by syncing yourself with nature. The sun is the ultimate source of energy, light, and warmth for all of life on earth. Simply witnessing the solar ascent is enough to lift our spirits, but bright sunlight also stimulates serotonin production, gifting us with a sustained elevation in mood and vitamin D production, providing us with an essential pro-hormone with many rejuvenating properties.

The spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. So, if the spring is in our mind, we do not have to check the calendar and be restricted with it. We can bring our own spring more than once in a year.

Yoga practices open up the “spring state” of mind. By practicing asana, pranayama, meditation, or OM chanting, we nurture and revitalize our inner self.

download (1)

 

We evolve !

Creating the fertile ground of the peaceful mind is what we need to do and then just observe silently the inner world blossom, spreading its fragrance outside.

Amongst the yoga practices the most practiced one is asana. The health benefits of asanas are very well known, be it flexibility, strength or the soothing effects on mind. If we learn to look beyond… asanas release trapped energy improving our sense of well-being. Asanas give a firm foundation to psychological and spiritual growth. The movement to get into an asana, is the journey towards stillness. We learn to accept. And the breath awareness during asana elevates asana,… the physical posture to a higher level of experience.

Engaging the mind by breath awareness starts a positive creative process towards the meaningful progress. Pranayama takes us from gross to subtle. The mind calms down. Fine tunes our awareness on the journey inward. Peace becomes the natural state of mind.

It’s astounding how quickly your creativity unleashes itself in the fertile ground of a peaceful mind. The creative impulse seems to be activated as soon as there’s a little breathing space in your mind. Spring season strikes. Seemingly from out of nowhere, a spark of creativity is ignited and you have a vision, plus the optimism and enthusiasm, and even a sense of urgency, to bring it into being. Suddenly, you find yourself doing things which were found to be difficult earlier.

To tap into our potential, we simply need to make space for it. Too often the creative aspect of the Self gets hidden or pushed aside in the hustle and stress of everyday life. Whoever you are, whatever you are seeking, you rely on creativity to meet everyday challenges. And you thrive on its ability to fill your life with beauty, purpose, and meaning.

If we are in sync with the nature we may realize that our creativity as humans, our creative impulse is related to the evolutionary impulse of the universe.  There is vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action.

Creating authentic power is continual spring-cleaning. That power can be created by adopting yoga as the way of life. Awareness built by practicing asana, pranayama will bring forth what’s to be discarded…  the “unwanted” emotions, the destructive habits, behavior within us. All those unwanted things …waiting to be uprooted and thrown out. Giving way to the emergence of a new-self. The self which is ready to create the life that is calling you–a life of more joy and less pain, more freedom and less limitation, more love and less fear!

So, your spring is here…. Right on your yoga mat !

UPSIDE DOWN………………

CAM00765[1] CAM00766[1] CAM00773[1] CAM00775[1]

 

“−−On the first day he should remain [only] a little while in the headstand, with legs in the air. Increase the practice time a little each day. After six months gray hair and wrinkles disappear. He who practices three hours a day conquers death,” ….Hatha Pradipika claims. Is it tempting enough to bring inversion postures in our practice?  Unfortunately daily practice of three hours sounds a bit too difficult.  Lets keep aside the death conquer part, just tackling “gray hair” and “wrinkles” itself is good enough reason. Still not many students are willing to venture into this area of turning yourself upside down.

 

And what is so difficult about learning this? Purposely turning ourselves upside down is contrary to our human physical locomotion-nature. The transition from childhood to adulthood has taught us to be “upright”. We have forgotten the playful ways of experimenting. And probably it’s the fear in the mind which is restricting the body from turning upside down.

 

Just as yoga gently encourages us to move away from any unconscious habitual patterns, the invitation to invert is simply another way to step out of the comfort zone.

 

Inverted poses are an important group of asanas. Inverted asanas reverse the action of gravity on the body; instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. As you age, fat and skin sag, which physically and, perhaps emotionally, drags you down.

 

As gravity pulls your body down, tissues and fluids in your body pool towards the lower extremities — resulting, potentially, in varicose veins. Anatomist David Coulter, PhD explains in a Yoga Journal article that “when you turn upside down, the fluid in your lower body drains better to the veins and lymph vessels, helping to clear up congestion in all parts of your body. Blood goes quickly to the heart and circulation improves, which may help your body get rid of waste products more efficiently and enhance the flow of nutrients to working cells. Fluid and blood that tends to concentrate in the lower lungs due to gravity is distributed to the upper lungs during inversions and this may enhance the health of your lung tissue”

Continued practice of shoulder stand eradicates common colds and other nasal disturbances. Due to the soothing effect of the pose on the nerves, those suffering from irritation, shortness of temper, nervous breakdown and insomnia are relieved. The asana is recommended for urinary disorders and uterine displacement, menstrual trouble, and hernia. It also helps to relieve epilepsy, low vitality and anemia. It activates the abdominal organs and relieves people suffering from stomach and intestinal ulcers and severe pain in the abdomen.

By reversing the pull of gravity on the organs, especially the intestines, it helps to cleanse them and overcome problems of the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines and reproductive system. Headstand increases gastric fire and produces heat in the body. When done properly, headstand helps the spine become properly aligned, improving posture, facilitating good breathing and reducing muscular stress. The weight of the abdominal organs on the diaphragm encourages deep breathing, which gently massages the internal organs. Sirsasana is used to treat asthma, hay fever, diabetes, headaches, anxiety and menopausal imbalance.

Inversions give you temporary relief from the pull of gravity. Similarly, on the emotional and psychic levels, inverted asanas turn everything upside down, throwing a new light on old patterns of behavior and being.

 

Inversion postures build the core strength as well as the strength of shoulders and arms—especially for women who tend to be stronger in the lower body, inversions create body balance by developing upper body strength.

Generally, these practices improve health, reduce anxiety and stress and increase self-confidence. They also increase mental power, concentration and stimulate the chakras. There are four major systems in the body that the practice of inversions positively influences: cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine. The circulatory system is comprised of the heart, the lungs, and the entire system of vessels that feed oxygen and collect carbon dioxide and other waste products from the cells. Arteries fan out in an intricate tributary system from the heart, which pumps freshly oxygenated blood from the lungs outward. Veins return blood to the heart, and, unlike arteries, make up a low-pressure system that depends on muscular movement or gravity to move blood along. One-way valves at regular intervals prevent backwash and keep fluids moving towards the heart in a system known as “venous return.”

The lymphatic system is a key player in keeping the body healthy. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Because lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, getting upside down allows lymph to more easily travel into the respiratory system where much of the toxins enter the body.

 

Shirshasana (Headstand) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) are seductive poses—physically challenging, visually dramatic, and exhilarating. Like all things in life, the suggestion to get upside down should not be universally prescribed. Unfortunately, however, beginning and veteran yoga students are seen seeking help of medical professionals with compression of the upper spine and impaired mobility in the neck, presumably from the practice of inversions. This indicates some students are clearly flinging themselves into inversions too soon.

So, to Invert or not to invert? How, then, do we evaluate and approach inversions, poses that are said to be invaluable and that possess distinct physiological benefits?

 

If you are new to yoga, take your time before inverting—Self-study or swadhyaya plays an important role here as self-awareness makes our practice safe. Even if you are inverting consistently now, there will be times when the practice is inappropriate. We practice yoga to decrease suffering and develop our capacity to be fully present in our lives. Why persist in practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand if it causes you pain?

 

When we think of inversions the postures which come to the mind are, head stand, shoulder stand, hand stand or forearm stand. But any pose that has you put your head below your heart is classified as an inversion. So, the gentler options like Adhomukhshwanasan, Setubandhasana are safer to start with. While the intense inversions (handstand & headstand) energize, inversions of the cooling type (Downward facing dog and bridge pose) work to calm the nervous system, thereby activating the parasympathetic nervous system and producing feelings of balance and calm.

 

Work closely with an observant and knowledgeable teacher. Attend class regularly. Learn the fundamentals: Find the extension of the spine first, open the shoulders with and develop balance, clarity, and strength by practicing appropriate postures.Structure a yoga practice that is balanced and wise. Practicing alone will help you purge the urge to perform your asanas for others and cultivate a deeper understanding of your body and its rhythms so that you can practice in ways that respond to your needs. With mindfulness, even a beginner can practice inversions without injury.

 

If you already invert, ask yourself how you do it. Do you use muscle to stay up? How much do you observe yourself in the pose, focusing on your alignment? If you wish to work towards longer poses, by all means do so. But do so intelligently, and be willing to progress slowly if you want a healthy neck in your old age. Observe the subtle changes in your neck and throat, and watch your breath. Stay up for short periods of time first—a minute or two. Back up on occasion. Always come down if there is pain.

 

There are certain contraindications that should be observed so as not to cause or aggravate previous injuries or illnesses: un-medicated high blood pressure, some heart conditions, neck injuries, recent stroke, detached retina, glaucoma, and epilepsy are common issues that should be addressed before inverting. Talk with your doctor and teacher if you are unsure about your status. Additionally, women on their “ladies holiday” should indeed take a vacation from inversions.

BLOG CREDIT-SUJATA NERURKAR

PHOTO CREDITS-ANAHATA YOGA ZONE