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.

Foot Massage Therapy

Foot massage therapy is an excellent way to relieve stress and pain for tired aching feet. 

Our feet tend to weather some serious use on a daily basis. Imagine the miles you walk just in one day while you work, go to school, do chores around the home or exercise? Those miles add up quick! A gentle and well-deserved foot massage will reduce pain, sooth tense muscles and calm overcharged nerve signals.

foot massage therapy

Let’s Learn the Best Techniques for the Ultimate Foot Massage Therapy

Cleanse the feet in mild soap and water. Now you need to soak the feet in warm water mixed with Epsom salts for about 10 minutes. After a generous amount of soaking, dry the feet. Apply foot cream, aroma therapy oils or rich lotion on the feet.

Place your thumbs on top of the foot and your fingers on the bottom and glide your thumbs over the tendons that are located between the toes and ankles. Use a moderate amount of pressure to stretch the tendons but not cause pain.

Next, place your thumbs on the sole of the foot and use a circular motion applying pressure while slowing scaling across the surface of the sole of the foot. Apply moderate pressure with your thumbs across the ball of the foot while massaging in a circular motion. Add a generous amount of lotion to the toes and move them back and forth with your fingers to loosen up the muscles. Repeat this process on each foot.

Another amazing relief for tired feet is heat therapy after the massage. It is best to use a moist heating pad and wrap it around the feet. Relax in a recliner enjoying your favorite cup of tea while the soothing warm moisture further works on the muscles in your feet to loosen them and melt away all of the hours of stress and overuse. You will be pleasantly surprised at how amazing your feet will feel afterwards.

If you suffer from foot pain, foot massage therapy may be just what you need. Did you know how our feet develop over the course of our younger years and how we take care of them will result in how much aches and pains we may have to deal with in later years? Well developed and strong foot muscles make walking much easier! Proper stretching techniques will prevent the muscles in your feet from tightening and contributing to a host of medical foot problems later in life.

Tips on Taking Care of Your Feet....
Always wear proper fitting shoes Use comfortable insoles when necessary Keep your feet clean and warm during the winter and cool during the summer Stand on your feet properly. Do not spend a lot of time putting pressure on the ball of your foot or toes. Evenly distribute your weight across your feet. Use lotion or foot balm daily Get a foot massage at least twice a month (especially if you spend many hours on your feet each day) Keep your toe nails trimmed Let your feet breathe. It is ok to go barefoot when you can around the house.
Hot Stone Massage Therapy

Hot Stone Massage Therapy

Hot stone massage therapy is a soothing variation of what we all know as classic massage therapy. Smooth flat stones are heated and placed on key points of the body, especially problem areas that are tense and knotted. The massage therapist may also hold the stones and use them to massage certain areas of your body. The technique has been used for years to reduce stress and muscle tension.

The stones that are typically used in hot stone massage therapy are river rocks which are smoothed over with time from the currents of the river. There are also varieties that are made of basalt which is a type of rock known for a rich content of iron.

How to heat up the stones for the massage session.. A professional massage stone heater is ideal to use for heating your massage stones. Never heat the stones using a slow cooker, oven, microwave or any other type of cooker. Always heat the stones in water so that you are able to control the heat.

Water that is between 110-130 F is the best temperature to heat your stones so that they are comfortable and do not burn the skin. Cover the entire stone with water and let them heat. In order to know that your stones are a safe temperature for the massage session, hold or squeeze one of the heated stones for approximately five seconds, if the stones feel too hot for your hands, they are too hot to use for a massage. Adjust your settings as needed and retest until the stones are soothingly comfortable to your hands.

hot stone massage therapy

How Does Hot Stone Massage Therapy Work?

The calming heat from the stones relax and warm overused muscles. Deeper pressure can be applied if desired to work out any tight areas. Warmth from the stones helps calm the nervous system as well as improve circulation.

The benefits of hot stone massage are many.

This type of massage is beneficial for people who suffer from poor circulation, osteoarthritis, back pain, arthritis, anxiety, tension and depression.

The stones are comfortable and smooth so there is no worry or a rough feeling rock laying on your back.

What Can You Expect During the Massage?

The beginning of the massage is often the application of oils to the body (such as the back) which will allow the stones to easily be moved along the body. The stones are left on the body for a period of time so that their warming therapy can have its full effect. Once the stones have assisted your muscles to relax, direct massaging of the muscles by hand will further ease tension and promote muscle health.

Hot stone massage is not recommended for certain people: People with skin infections, rashes, open wounds or are at risk of blood clots should not participate in hot stone therapy. Always speak with your doctor before determining if this type of massage is right for you.
rigger point massage therapy

Trigger Point Massage Therapy

Trigger point massage therapy is a wonderful treatment that helps relieve muscle tightness and pain for people who suffer from fibromyalgia and other myofascial pain disorders.  Often times, muscle strain and injury cause myofascial pain. Physical as well as psychological stress can cause muscles to tighten up and form trigger points. These trigger points, which are mostly knotted hard muscles, can be very painful and even debilitating. 

Other factors commonly noted to cause trigger point formation include poor posture, deconditioning of muscles, repetitive mechanical stress and imbalance, joint disorders, non-restorative sleep, and vitamin deficiencies.

Getting a trigger point massage at least once a month will help your muscle fibers relax and unlock the knots that cause you so much pain. A massage therapist that has experience with trigger point massage therapy is highly recommended to help you get your muscle pain resolved.

Trigger Point Massage Therapy

Trigger Point Massage Therapy Techniques

Sarcomere (the unlocking of a muscle contraction mechanism) involves trigger point pressure release. Your therapist will apply pressure with their finger or a device directly to the trigger point and slowly increase pressure which manipulates the muscle and forces it to soften and release. Each therapist has their own way of performing this procedure. Most patients start feeling a soothing and calming relief during the session.

Spray and Stretch procedure… This is a technique which uses vapo-coolant spray to distract the muscle and allow it to completely stretch and release the trigger point. The vapo-coolant is very cold and it will evaporate once it touches your skin. Once the therapist gets the trigger point released, the muscle will need to be moved slowly with simple limbering exercises that can be done at home which are used to retrain the muscle so that it can work in the proper position.

What You Should Expect From Treatment

Trigger point massage therapy has a high success rate with many patients experiencing relief after the first treatment. Some patients will need several treatments before they start seeing results. Every person responds to therapy differently. Muscle soreness and fatigue are both common a few days after treatment and should resolve quickly. Over the course of treatment, some people who seek therapy for neck pain many times will also experience relief from chronic pain in their forearm or hand. This is due to referred pain from the neck radiating to other parts of the body. Your therapist will give you self-care advice for managing pain for when you are home. Minimizing stress and slowly working into your normal activities without overexerting yourself will increase your chances of becoming pain-free.

Rate of Results

Your rate of results will depend on several conditions:

Your compliance with self-care instructions and reducing or eliminating activities that aggravate your symptoms.

Your overall physical health and any possible aggravating medical conditions.

Nutrition and any vitamin or mineral deficiencies from poor or high fat diet.

Quality of sleep you get If you experience any symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Other medical conditions that you have

Things that your Therapist Needs to take into Consideration

Your therapist should take into account your full medical history as well as the amount of time you have experienced the pain.

Assess your work environment and the ergonomics of your work area or any other precipitating factors.

Make or direct you to someone who can make nutritional and proper sleep recommendations.

Be sure that your normal family care provider has ordered lab/blood work to rule out any other possible causes that should be addressed.

Help you to learn a self-help treatment plan and proper exercises to keep your muscles strong and reduce the chances of any recurring trigger point issues.

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