Yoga

For Some People, Learning Yoga on CD-ROM is a Stretch

As if to lend weight to my contention that your computer can, in theory, teach you anything, along comes a pair of CD-ROMs called Wellness Yoga and Shiatsu Relaxation.

Lithe young women demonstrate these ancient Eastern techniques while mellow-voiced narrators speak over somnambulant music, the better to relax you and make you all well.

Most of us are familiar at least with the concepts of yoga, its slow stretching exercises and its often almost unattainable physical positions. Wellness Yoga is a nicely designed program that packages 74 asanas, or positions, into several packages such as the Quick and Easy Course, the Beauty Course and the Health Course.

The program consists largely of what it calls procedure screens, in which each position is demonstrated in one window while described textually in another. A narrator reads that same text aloud. In addition to the usual tape-recorder buttons to pause, stop and restart the action, there is a graph that displays the approximate duration of each segment of the routine.

The practical difficulties of using this CD-ROM are fairly obvious. The manual, dragged kicking and screaming into English from its Japanese roots, advises the user to First practice forming the pose while watching the screen and try memorizing the whole procedure. » This, unless you have a 24-inch monitor or keep your monitor on the floor, is likely to be difficult. Clearly the actual learning of the poses could be more readily done with a videotape.

On the other hand, you can hunt around in the CD-ROM, choose from the positions you want to learn, and collect them into personal groups. And maybe you’ve got a really big monitor, and a cordless, long-distance mouse.

This is a nice program, well-made and instructive. My only complaint is that it does not emphasize clearly enough that unless you are as slender as the model executing the poses, you are not going to be able to do many of them — the Crow, the Heron and the Frog, for instance — correctly. On the other hand, we can all do the Corpse.

Shiatsu Relaxation, which teaches a massage technique clearly related to acupuncture, is another kettle of fish.

The theory is that rubbing, kneading or poking specific points on the body, called acupressure points, will make other parts of the body feel better. I am not prepared to argue that premise, but the entire procedure seems shiatsu yourself is not clear, either; the program initially suggests you find some of your own more accessible pressure points, but they are not all available to your own hands and all the demonstrations show one person ministering to another.

Exercises

Yoga exercises strengthen your body and make it more flexible. Yoga also calms your mind and gives you energy. In active sports or strenuous exercises, you use up energy. In yoga classes, students report that they feel tranquil after a class, yet have more energy. Slow and steady motion is the key to going into or coming out of the postures. You hold a yoga pose for several seconds or even minutes and give attention to full, quiet breath. Your yoga instructor will always encourage you to relax as the exercises are being done.

You gently place your body into yoga postures. Done correctly, there’s very little chance of injury or muscle stress. A particular asana is not repeated dozens of times, nor are you ever encouraged to push yourself too much.

A yoga session is designed for balance. You stretch to the right and then to the left. You bend back and then forward. You learn to recognize when one side is stronger or more flexible than the other. Thus harmony and balance are achieved with yoga practice.

People of all ages can practice yoga exercises. They are easily modified to meet your needs and physical condition. Don’t be put off by the difficult looking postures you may see in a yoga book. A skilled teacher can adapt most asanas by using chairs, cushions, even a wall or other props. A yoga practice can be tailor-made just for you. If something is really impossible for you to do, just forget it. Never compete with yourself or others. Yoga is a stress-free but powerful way to exercise.

Yoga is good for increasing your flexibility and relieving stress, but it doesn’t take the place of aerobic exercise. You should still do regular, aerobic exercise, which increases your cardiovascular fitness, helps you lose weight, and, for people with non-insulin-dependent (type II) diabetes at least, improves blood glucose control.

Equipment

Yoga is a challenging discipline for the beginning to the advanced person. The asanas, or postures are slow and steady and are not meant to be painful, but this does not mean that they are not challenging. Never extend yourself too much to cause discomfort. With practice, you should see yourself relaxing into the stretches with ease.

Nevertheless, for beginners there are a few tips when practicing yoga. Release all thoughts, good or bad before you begin. Turn off your phone and don’t answer the door, you need peace and quiet. Make sure you take a warm, relaxing shower and that you wear comfortable clothes that will allow you to stretch easily. You can use aromatherapy that will relax and help to clear you thoughts. You will want to purchase a yoga mat so you can rest on the pad and not slip and slide on the floor. Make sure your shoes and socks are off and that your hair is either comfortable pulled back or no, whatever feels better. Turn the lights low (or you can do it in the sunlight), whatever suits you. You may want to turn some relaxing music of nature, perhaps the beach. Belts or ropes are used to grab your legs and pull them into a better stretch, which should feel delicious. Blocks are used to prop yourself up and sit better or for standing postures.

Without the prop support, you may not be able to attain some postures. Just remember that although the postures are important, performing them absolutely perfectly is not the goal. Yoga is not just an exercise; it includes the mind and intelligence and the reflection in action. These tools make it easier for you as a beginner in yoga, but you will find that eventually you will not need them. Some people prefer taking a yoga class so they are guided properly. There is nothing wrong with this, but keep in mind that only you can take your mind and spirit as far as it was meant to go, alone.

Dynamic Yoga – Exercise 3 & 4

POSE OF THE MOON (Shashankasa)
Sit on your knees with palms on thighs. Close eyes and relax, but keep spine and head straight.

Inhale deeply and lift arms above head, keeping them straight and shoulder-width apart. As you breathe out, bend forward from the hips, keeping arms and head in a straight line. Hands and forehead should eventually rest on the floor in front of your knees. Bend your elbows, so that arms are fully relaxed and hold for five seconds.

Then breathe in and slowly raise arms and body back to the upright position.

Exhale and return your palms to the top of your thighs. Repeat 3-5 times.

MOUNTAIN POSE (Parvatasana)
Strengthens nerves and muscles in the arms and legs, and stimulates the circulation in the upper spine.

Kneel on raised heels and stretch your arms forward so your forehead is on the floor. Breathe deeply and relax for a few seconds. Raise yourself on to your hands and knees, keeping your toes tucked under and your back flat.

Inhale and push up onto your toes. Raise your buttocks and lower your head between your arms. Your back and legs should form two sides of a triangle.

Exhale, rest your feet on the floor and try to touch the floor with the top of your head. Hold the position for 10 seconds.

Dynamic Yoga – Exercise 1 & 2

SWAYING PALM TREE POSE (Tiryaka Tadasana)
Streamlines the waist and develops balance. Stand with feet 8 inch apart and fix eyes on a point directly in front of you. Interlock fingers and turn palms outward. Inhale deeply as you raise arms over your head. As you breathe out, bend from your waist to your left side, taking care not to reach forwards or backwards. Hold for a few seconds, then inhale deeply and slowly return to the upright position.

Repeat 5 times to each side.

CAT-STRETCH POSE (Marjari-asana)
Kneel and lean forward to place hands on floor below your shoulders, fingers facing forward, hands in line with knees. Arms and thighs should be at right angles to the floor; knees may be slightly separated.

Inhale deeply, raise head and drop spine so your back is concave. Fill your lungs and hold for three seconds. As you exhale, lower your head and stretch your spine upwards. At the end of the breath, pull in your buttocks, contract stomach muscles and place head between arms.

Repeat 5 times.

Dru Yoga

Dru Yoga is a potent and graceful form on yoga. It is
based on directed breathing, soft flowing movements
and visualization. Its foundations were set in ancient
yogic tradition.

Dru Yoga works on the body, spirit and mind. It
improves flexibility and strength, creates core
stability, builds a heightened sense of positive
thinking, is deeply relaxing and rejuvenates your
entire being.

Dru Yoga was designed to be practiced by people of all
different fitness levels, different abilities and all
age groups. This is a style of yoga that can quickly
be picked up or you can learn more about it over your
lifetime.

Dru Meditation

If it has been one of your goals to learn how to
meditate in order to feel that inner calmness or to be
a stress reliever, then try Dru Meditation! The Dru
approach to meditation will help bring you balance no
matter what or how you are feeling.

If you seem to be agitated, Dru meditation will help
to bring you a feeling of calmness. If you feel
exhausted, this form of meditation will give your
energy.

It will bring peace to your spirit if you are feeling
anxious. The most important thing that Dru meditation
will do for you is to bring you to that still place
within you, with its sense of achievement, fullness
and deep healing properties that only meditation and
yoga can bring.

If you really want to learn Dru meditation, the best
way to do this is to attend a workshop or a meditation
retreat in your area. If you are not able to do that,
you might try a guided Dru meditation that is
available on CD.

You will find that Dru meditation can help alleviate
fatigue and stress and bring you focus and calm. If
only you can do ten minutes daily of meditation, it
will make a great difference.

Diabetes

Diabetes in various forms affects up to 5percent of the world population with 12 million diabetics in Western Europe alone. Of the different ways in which diabetes presents, noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is probably the most commonly encountered genetic disease. NIDDM or Type II diabetes is multifactorial, depending also on environmental factors including obesity, sedentary lifestyles and nutritional imbalances.

Yoga has shown some beneficial results in curing diabetes. The yoga exercises that are prescribed for curing diabetes is different from hatha yoga exercise because it involves positions tailored to treat certain conditions, as well as meditation, relaxation and stretching exercises.

One of the studies conducted to cure diabetes was the one set up by the Yoga Biomedical Trust, founded in 1982 by biochemist Dr Robin Monro, and an Indian yoga research foundation which discovered that practicing yoga for 30 minutes a day for one month helped reduce blood glucose levels in some diabetics.

The yoga patients took part in one or two 90-minute sessions a week and were asked to practice at home. The classes included the specific yoga exercises of the spinal twist, the bow and abdominal breathing.

At the end of the 12 weeks blood sugar levels fell significantly in all patients in the group and were slightly raised in a control group which had not joined in the yoga sessions. Three yoga students managed to reduce their medication, including one man who had not changed his drug regime for 20 years.

It has been known for a long time that exercise is helpful for diabetics. Yoga therapy may help reduce stress levels which could play a part in maturity onset diabetes. But one drawback is that some patients would find it hard to keep up the regular sessions needed to sustain the benefit. All the patients said they would like to see these classes set up on a permanent basis but we don’t have the money.

It is not necessarily the exercise component of the yoga therapy package which is most important, because there is not enough physical exercise to account for the changes, but stress reduction has a lot to do with it. Stress hormones increase sugar levels in the blood. People also benefit from the stabilization of their moods which yoga brings, an increased feeling of well-being and a feeling of being more in control, which may help with their diet control.

Cure through Yoga

Yoga in a popular position Yoga, one of the world’s oldest forms of exercise, is experiencing a rebirth in our stressful modern world. You wouldn’t think that a 3000-year-old exercise could increase its popularity. But yoga is now being prescribed even by some medical practitioners for a range of health ailments and illnesses, as a stress reliever and to complement other fitness programs.

Talk to anyone who practises yoga and they will quickly extoll an endless list of benefits. It seems beginners quickly become converts. They believe it is the key to good health and happiness in today’s world _ a common goal for most people. But probably the greatest advertisement for yoga is the fact that it seems to have graduated from the weird and alternative ranks into a position of fairly wide community acceptance.

Housewives, businessmen, sportspeople, teenagers and the aged are all practising a variety of yoga positions, meditation and associated breathing exercises. For many, yoga becomes a way of life _ often giving a more spiritual side to people’s lives, although not necessarily linked to religion. One school of belief maintains that chronic and accumulated stress is the reason for many of our modern illnesses.

Proponents of yoga argue that it has a multiplicity of techniques to counter that cause and, unlike drug therapy, attack the cause, not just the symptoms. It offers, they say, a holistic approach to health and fitness. Many professional athletes, looking for the edge have turned to yoga as a supplementary form of training. They have found that yoga aids their state of mental and physical relaxation between training sessions, and their crucial build-up to big meets, where a competition is usually won or lost in the mind.

Perhaps one of yoga’s major attractions is that it combines physical and mental exercise. It is excellent for posture and flexibility, both key physical elements for most sports-people, and in some respects, there are strength benefits to be gained. Yoga teachers say that the approach of yoga therapy is one of the most effective ways of achieving the mental edge that athletes seek.

Marian Fenlon, one of Brisbane’s leading yoga teachers of the past 20 years, is the author of two books on the subject and has had thousands of yoga pupils. Many of them have, in turn, become teachers. Believe it or not, she has even taught yoga to footballers. Many years ago, she took Brisbane Souths rugby league team for an eight-week course and, amazingly, it was well-received. She says there are eight components to yoga therapy – attitudes, disciplines, posture and flexibility, breathing, sensory awareness, concentration, contemplation and meditation. Yoga can play a substantial supporting role to modern medicine, and complement other fitness and exercise programs. While there is no great component of aerobic fitness in yoga therapy, it complements aerobic exercise because of breathing techniques that can be learned. So there are advantages for even the most demanding of aerobic sports – swimming, cycling and running. There are numerous documented cases of yoga relieving or curing serious illnesses – such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses like asthma and emphysema.

Cure for Modern Day Stresses

Yoga is a 3,000-year-old, Hindu discipline of mind and body that became known in Western society with the hippie generation of the Sixties and early Seventies. Its image as a mystic practice is disappearing as fast as the stressful aspects of the Eighties are appearing.

As an effective method of stress management, yoga is spreading into the business world, the helping professions, nursing and old age homes, and is used in the treatment of alcoholics, hyperactive children and youngsters with learning disabilities. Yoga centers are getting stiff competition from adult education classes of community colleges, boards of education and parks and recreation departments.

The meaning of yoga is union of the body, mind and spirit with truth. There are many kinds of yoga to study, and there can be endless years of practice for the willing student.

Hatha Yoga is among the most popular forms in the west. It emphasizes the practice of postures, which stretch and strengthen the body, help develop a sense of balance and flexibility, as well as body awareness and mental concentration. All forms of yoga incorporate the practice of proper breathing techniques for relaxation, to rest the mind from its constant chatter, to experience an internal calm, and to energize and purify the body.

As stress levels in society reach new heights, Raja Yoga, the yoga of meditation, is growing in popularity in Western society, while others, such as Krya Yoga, the yoga of cleansing, and Mantra Yoga, the yoga of chanting, not surprisingly, have little appeal for newcomers.

Stretching and toning, though beneficial, aren’t the primary reasons people turn to yoga. Newcomers are hoping that yoga will provide them with a means for handling stress and diffusing tension. The difference between exercise and yoga is that yoga has a meditative quality.

A lot of people are exercising for the psychological benefits and trying many of the Eastern activities, like yoga and tai chi. Yoga seems to have a calming effect on people.

And the techniques work on children as well as adults. When your children are quarreling, ask them to stop what they’re doing, raise their arms over their heads, lean forward and breathe deeply to help diffuse their anger. It definitely helps them to cool it.

Cure for Asthma

Yoga breathing exercises could help sufferers of mild asthma and may help reduce their use of low-dose drug inhalers in wheezing attacks.

Researchers from the Respiratory Medicine Unit, City University, Nottingham, call for more studies of ways of improving breathing control which they say have been largely ignored by Western medicine.

While yoga practitioners have long believed in the benefits of pranayama breathing exercises for asthmatics, this has been hard to study formally. But, using a Pink City lung – a device that imposes slow breathing on the user and can mimic pranayama breathing exercises – it was possible to measure the effects of controlled breathing in a hospital trial.

Two simulated pranayama exercises were tested: slow deep breathing and breathing out for twice as long as breathing in.

In asthma, the airways become restricted making breathing difficult. It is increasing in the UK, with more than three million children and adults affected, and are responsible for 2,000 deaths annually.

The doctors used standard clinical tests to measure the volume of air patients were able to blow out in a second and to test the irritability of their airways. After yoga, their airways were two times less irritable,

Though asthma patients should not stop their medication, they should experiment with breathing exercises.