Mental Health

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the perfect practice of building strength and flexibility with many different aspects of yoga blended to create the ultimate balance.

What Does The Word Hatha Mean?

To get a better understanding of this mixture of techniques for yoga, you should be aware of what Hatha means. This word is translated as ha which means “sun” and tha which means “moon.” The combination of the opposites such as masculine with heat (sun) and feminine with coolness (moon) resonates in all of us. Therefore, Hatha yoga is a method of creating balance, aligning the opposites and development of flexibility and strength.

hatha yoga

The Eight Limbs Practiced in Hatha Yoga.

There are eight limbs of the practice of yoga which is believed to have been collated into the practice called the Yoga Sutra about 2,000 years ago by the Indian sage Patanjali. The eight limbs are yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).

As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior with our interaction and interpretation of the outer world, and then we focus inwardly on ourselves until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

Let’s further go into depth on the eight limbs of yoga so that we can better understand how the entire Hatha process works

Yama: Universal morality

The yamas are broken down into five “wise characteristics” that have been practiced for centuries. These characteristics reveal our fundamental nature which is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.” They are as follows:

Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness

Satya means “to speak the truth,” yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa.

Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things

The word ahimsa literally mean not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way whatsoever. Ahimsa is, however, more than just lack of violence as adapted in yoga. It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things.

Aparigraha – Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth

Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy. We should only take what we have earned; if we take more, we are exploiting someone else.

Brahmacharya – Sense control

Brahmacharya is used mostly in the sense of abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths. Brahmacharya does not necessarily imply celibacy. Rather, it means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth.

Asteya – Non-stealing

Steya means “to steal”; asteya is the opposite-to take nothing that does not belong to us. This also means that if we are in a situation where someone entrusts something to us or confides in us, we do not take advantage of him or her. Non-stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to that intended, or beyond the time permitted by its owner.

Niyama : Personal observances

The Niyama of Hatha yoga is also broken down into smaller branches. These smaller branches are:

Saucha – cleanliness

This applies to cleanliness on the outside as well as the inside. Eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water helps clean toxins and harmful waste products from our bodies. Cleaning the outside of our body rides our skin of dirt and impurities. What about mental cleanliness? Yes, we should also clean our minds by riding ourselves of anxiety, worry, anger, sadness, violence and any other negative emotions that can hinder us on our yoga journey.

Santosha – contentment

Being content should not be a difficult thing yet for many of us it is so very hard to achieve true contentment. Forget your worries, set aside your cares, leave anguish and strife behind. Be happy in the moments you have and live for the present. This will help you achieve real contentment.

Tapas – heat or austerity!

From the practice of Hatha yoga we can achieve a burning fire to better ourselves and achieve heights in our lives that we have not experienced before. The desire and passion within builds motivation which is the heat or Tapas of yoga. Eliminate negative addictions and mind-set. Be the best person that you can be.

Svadhyaya – Study of oneself

Know thyself! This is a wisdom of the centuries. Once we come to truly know ourselves we will be better able to take care of what our bodies and our minds need to achieve for growth and vitality. Once we become more aware and see our faulty side which we all possess, we will be able to become a more positive and spiritual person.

Ishvara – Pranidhara – surrender to God

Get in touch with your spiritual self. Your soul. Put yourself in the will of God. Open your mind to the truths and the path that you are supposed to lead. Learn to develop patience and self-control in this state of Hatha yoga.

The Next Purifying Aspects of Hatha Yoga Are:

Asanas : Body postures

Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana

Pratyahara : Control of the senses

Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness

Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine

Samadhi : Union with the Divine

Beginning Yoga

Beginning Yoga

Are you just beginning yoga and looking for some helpful advice on how to get started and make the most out of your experience? If so, I am delighted to be your guide on the journey to discovering the benefits of yoga and your quest to achieve the most from your yoga experience.

When Beginning Yoga

Yoga may seem fairly intimidating once you start thumbing through magazines and see all of the “what appears impossible” poses some of the pros can twist themselves into. Do not let doubt leave its nasty effects on you. Those outrageous poses that you think you will never be able to master are from years and years of practice and increased flexibility. Rest assured, you will not be expected to bend yourself into a pretzel or any other daunting shapes when you begin your yoga journey.

As a beginner, we will focus on relaxation, basic poses and deep breathing techniques. After you learn and master the basics, you will find how easy it will be to move on to more challenging poses.

So what is yoga? It is a practice of uniting the mind, body and spirit that rejuvenates the body and balances the nervous system. Yoga is thought to date back thousands of years and developed in the Hindu culture as a means of connecting the body and mind to a spiritual journey and to enhance health and vitality. Nowadays, the practice is used for many reasons and the health benefits of yoga are amazing.

When beginning yoga, do not try to do too much at once. You must start out with slow basic poses for short periods of time and work your way into more advance routines. You will risk a possible trip to the ER if you try to do more than what your body is ready to receive. Short twenty-minute sessions of yoga each day is a reasonable amount of time to get your body adapted to yoga.

Beginning Yoga – Should I opt for Teachers and Classes?

There are numerous places that you can learn to practice yoga. Many gyms offer yoga classes and then there are studios dedicated to yoga. The ideal way to get started is to practice with a qualified yoga instructor. You should look for instructors that have at least two years of experience and are registered with Yoga Alliance.

If you do not want to expend the money or time scheduling that classes may require, it is fine for you to start practicing yoga on your own. There is a wealth of knowledge, books and videos to help you along your way.

What should I wear and what equipment do I need to get started?

As a rule of thumb, you need to wear comfortable clothing when doing yoga poses. Clothing that does not inhibit movement and flexibility is required. Natural fiber clothing works best and you do not want to wear baggy clothes. Yoga pants are tailored especially for the practice and flexible cotton t-shirts, spandex style tanks or any other clothing that is light, airy and moves with the body is fine.

I recommend that you check out Yoga Clothing for You by clicking on the banner below. They have a wide selection of cute and comfortable clothing to get you well on your journey to become a yoga queen (or king).

Yoga Clothing

A yoga mat is a must when it comes to equipment. Other pieces of equipment that will help you get the most from your practice is blocks, bolsters and blankets.

Beginning Yoga – Enjoying Your Practice

Lets get started on the poses that you will use to achieve the full effects of your yoga experience.

To warm up your body so that you are able to embrace yoga, we will start out with sun salutations which are gentle back bending and forward bends that take you through a full range of motion and are usually done at the beginning of your practice to warm and loosen-up your body. Sun Salutations are used to help build endurance, strengthen the body and create flexibility as well as develop steadiness.

Moon Salutations are a counter balance to the Sun Salutations and are also a wonderful sequence of asanas to cool and calm the body which will help get you into the mental aspect of your yoga experience.

Yoga Breathing Techniques

Beginning Yoga – Pranayama

The Pranayama breathing technique is a series of controlled breathing exercises that increase enhance the life force called Prana and increase long capacity.

Certain pranayama techniques are used to relax your body and some are used to energize your body. These breathing techniques increase the benefits of the postures by increasing the healing abilities of the asanas and bringing in more oxygen to your body. Gentle Ujjayi breathing is one way to start a very basic Pranayama practice. This amazing yet easy breathing practice will help to relax you through deep stretches, and it also adds a meditative quality to your practice due to the audible sound of your breath.

The best techniques to practice when beginning yoga is the practice of Hatha Yoga. This yoga style will align your breath, body, mind and spirit into perfect harmony. Starting your journey is a discovery of inner peace and gentleness and getting started on this journey was one of the best decisions you have ever made.

stress and relaxation

Stress and Relaxation

Stress and relaxation are two polar opposites. When you are stressed you are not relaxing and when you are relaxing you are free from stress. How can we find a way to relax in today’s fast paced lifestyle filled with all of the stressful factors that comes with it? It can be hard, but it is not impossible.

stress and relaxation

A typical day for most working families involves getting ready for work, getting the children off to school, meal preparation, fighting rush hour traffic, dealing with a daily dose of difficult people and the list goes on. After 8-10 hours of this constant barrage of activity, it is no wonder that most of us experience the all too familiar symptoms of stress overload such as neck and back tension, stomach disorders, anxiety, headaches, weakened immune system, depression and many more.

In reality, we just cannot eliminate all stress from our lives, however; there are several ways to learn how to cope with stress in a positive and healthy manner and lead a more balanced and happier lifestyle.

Stress and Relaxation DVD and Audio

There are a host of relaxation DVDs and CDs which include skilled therapists leading you step by step to a relaxing place of harmony and peace. Learn how to tune your mind from an anxious and tense state to a soothing and calm sense of reality even if your day has felt like it was the worst. Our minds are equipped with the ability to operate in mind over matter. All we need are the right tools to tap into our place of tranquility.

Relaxing Music

Music is melody for the soul. We all have certain tastes in music that can deliver us into memories of happier times or lull us to sleep. Think about what sounds relaxing to you. Is it the mighty ocean waves crashing into the shore? What about peaceful harmonious instruments ever so lightly humming a soft tune? Music combined with yoga activities or quiet meditation are great ways to calm the mind and have powerful effects for stress and relaxation.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis (the induction of a deeply relaxed state) can play a tremendous role in stress and relaxation therapy. Practicing mind over body techniques and relaxing exercises in a hypnotized state has delivered amazing results for many people who suffer from stress and tension.

Deep Breathing Techniques

Do not wait until your stress hormones kick in the fight or flight feelings we all know too well. Learn what deep breathing techniques can do to help your body relax and release stress in a healthy manner. There are several ways to rid your body of anxiety and frustration with these simple exercises.

Equal Breathing

Balance can do your body good just by beginning with the breath. To start, inhale for a count of five, then exhale for a count of five — all through your nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. This helps calm the nervous system, increases focus and reduces stress. It is a great technique to practice before going to bed, especially if you have difficulty sleeping.

Nadi Shodhana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”

A yogi’s best friend, this breath is said to bring about calm and balance, and create an equal partnership with the right and left sides of the brain. Starting in a comfortable meditative pose, hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril. At the peak of your inhalation, close off the left nostril with your ring finger, then exhale through your right nostril. Continue this pattern for several (up to ten) breaths. This is a wonderful technique to help you feel more focused and energized.

Abdominal Breathing Technique

With one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, take a deep breath in through your nose, ensuring your diaphragm and not your chest inflates with enough air to create a stretch throughout your lungs. The goal is to take six or ten deep, slow breaths per minute for about ten minutes each day to promote immediate reductions to your heart rate and your blood pressure. This technique is ideal before participation in any sort of stressful event.

Kapalabhati or “Skull Shining Breath”

This breathing technique begins with a long and slow inhale, followed by a quick yet powerful exhale generated from your lower belly. Once you are comfortable with the contraction, up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through your nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths. This technique is good for when it is time for you to wake up, start your day or increase a positive feeling.

Meditation

Quiet your ever-racing mind with meditation. Meditation is known to reduce anxiety, increase concentration, relax muscles and create an overall sense of well-being for stress and relaxation. The first part of your meditation should begin with mild stretching. Get your body loosened up and ready to absorb the quiet surrender that meditation brings. Focus your breath and after taking slow deep breaths to release pent up negative energy.

Soothing Baths, herbs and massages

One promising trick that works with stress and relaxation is to take soothing warm baths. Soaking your pores in warm water increases blood flow and proper circulation. Bath oils, salts and other personal care products that are naturally derived such as lavender will increase your sense of calm with the relaxing aroma it brings.

After a warm bath a healthy back or foot massage is in order. A massage is the perfect way to release tightened muscles, tension and promote stress reducing hormones to help you achieve total relaxation.

Clinical Signs of Depression

Clinical Signs of Depression

Do you think you are experiencing clinical signs of depression, also known as major depression?  We all have days where we feel sad sometimes, but if the feelings of despair and utter emptiness have consumed you and will not go away, you may have clinical depression.   Getting through the day and what used to be simple tasks can seem overwhelming when you are battling depression.  Some people even shut down from all activities and are unable to get out of bed.  

clinical depression

Remember, regardless of how down and out you feel right now, you can overcome depression and feel better again. The first steps to overcome depression is to learn the signs and symptoms and start a treatment plan that is right for you.

Clinical Signs of Depression

First of all you need to know the signs of depression in order to determine if you actually suffer from this problem.

You sleep more than you should or you can’t sleep

You constantly feel helpless, hopeless or impending doom

Self loathing

You are overeating and gaining weight or you do not have an appetite and are losing weight

You are engaging in reckless activities or behaviors that you normally would not do

You have no interest in hobbies and other activities that you once enjoyed

You experience extreme fatigue

You deal with a large amount of negative thinking

You are aggressive and irritable

You have thoughts that life is not worth living or have contemplated suicide (please seek help immediately if you experience this sign of depression)

If these symptoms have went on for a while and are affecting your day-to-day life you are probably suffering from clinical depression and you need to seek help from a qualified medical professional.

Major depression seems to affect more women than men but it can affect both. It can also affect children and teens. Sometimes a traumatic life event can cause the onset of depression or it can be caused by hormonal imbalances or other changes in your body.

Stress that is not dealt with properly can build up over time and cause clinical depression so it is always important to seek therapy or other forms of relief if stress build up is starting to overwhelm you. Clinical depression takes away your ability to live a happy, functioning and enjoyable life and it is a serious mental health problem but it is a problem that can be treated.

social anxiety

Social Anxiety Disorders

Social Anxiety disorders which some people refer to as social phobia is currently one of the more well-known anxiety disorders in the United States. It interferes with the lives of more people than you may think so if you are plagued by this type of anxiety disorder, you are not alone.

Social Anxiety Disorders

People who suffer from social anxiety experience the following symptoms:

Irrational fear and avoidance of social situations

Fear of embarrassment

Fear of public speaking or attention being drawn to oneself

Anxiety

Nervousness

Sweaty palms

Racing heartbeat, sweating, tremors Fainting

Some people consider this type of anxiety disorder to be an extreme form of shyness which makes it impossible for the person who suffers from social anxiety to participate in many activities and develop healthy relationships due to the ever-present fear of not fitting in and feeling normal like everyone else.

About 15 million American adults have social anxiety disorder

36% of people with social anxiety disorder report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help

Typical age of onset: 13 years old

Many other fears that are commonly experienced by people with social anxiety are eating and drinking in public, using public restrooms, asking strangers questions, talking on the phone and participating in meetings. It is easy to see how this disorder can be extremely disruptive in both our personal lives as well as our professional lives.

Methods for Treating Social Anxiety Disorders.

There are ways to treat this disorder and regain control of your life.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has a high success rate in assisting individuals with social anxiety to learn how to cope and even eliminate their symptoms. It is most often very helpful to talk about and discuss the fears and issues that revolve around your disorder. Counselors teach techniques that assist with changing thought patterns, calm breathing patterns, unique coping skills and various other methods of facing the anxiety head on and learning how to control it.

Medications such as anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs are first line choices to assist sufferers from a chemical standpoint. MAO-inhibitors and beta blockers are also good at treating this disorder however every person is different and results for one individual will not be the same as the other.

Always consult with your doctor concerning what he or she recommends for you and report any positive or adverse reactions to any medications to your doctor promptly.

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