Guest post by Christian Leeby
Hand-Yoga-Rose

Yoga is wholeness. It is a word, practice, and realization that describes our true nature, oneness. Yet the best way to experience the whole is to know the parts, so a deep Yoga practice involves delving into the parts to better know the whole. It’s an artful balance because when you focus on the parts it’s easy to forget that the value lies in bringing that into the larger perspective, and if you only think about the whole then you’ll certainly miss important pieces of the puzzle.

In the big picture this translates to the 8 limbs of Yoga. Many people think that Yoga is just asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing). Now if you’re nodding to yourself thinking “Yes, there’s also meditation” you’re absolutely right, but in addition to those 3 branches there are still 5 more! If that’s news to you then google “8 limbs of Yoga” and you’ll be pleased to see there are plenty of excellent articles describing all 8 steps. In the West many yogis focus only on one or two of the stages mentioned, but when that happens we’re less likely to reach the ultimate goal of Yoga because the whole has been lost to a few of the parts.

If you approach your practice with this understanding, then concentrating on individual parts will give you great gains toward achieving the whole, and one of the best examples of this is how you use your hands in your asana practice.

The hands are extremely unique for many reasons, and how you activate them in your asanas has a profound impact on the results you get. One of the most unusual qualities of the hands is how much you can stretch them. Try it. Open your hand and stretch the fingers apart. Now ask yourself if there’s any other part of your body than you can move with such effect. There isn’t, in fact no part of the body even comes close. This isn’t just interesting, it’s also very useful, because stretching the hands directly relates to what happens in your mind, as well as your whole body.

When you first try my suggestion of stretching your fingers apart, it’s a fairly common action that is not new to you. However, if you take your time and really concentrate, you’ll be surprised to see how much more you can do. The first step is to stretch your fingers apart, which means make as much space between each finger as possible. Look at your hands as you do this, and you’ll see that some fingers have much more distance between them than others. Without loosing any of the space you have between the ones that open easily, make the ones that are closer together move farther apart from each other. Maintain that, don’t loose any of the stretch, and now imagine you can extend each finger from it’s root, where it meets the hand, through it’s tip.

Take your time to get the best extension you can in each finger. Now, without loosing any of those actions, spread the skin of the palm of the hand from the center outwards.

These instructions go from easy and obvious to subtle and not so obvious, but if you concentrate you will realize that although someone looking at your hand might not see you spreading the skin of the palms outwards, you can certainly feel it. It’s a remarkable ability that the hands alone have, to stretch and extend with such physical and subtle action.

If you play with this a bit you’ll see that the mind doesn’t really have to focus much on the easiest movement, stretching the fingers apart, but you can’t do the next step of making more space between the fingers that don’t move apart as easily without focusing. Then to extend the fingers through the tips, your mind has to remain right where it is and become even sharper. To proceed, you simply cannot spread the skin of the palms without further concentration. The hands provide perhaps the best opportunity to see how working the parts of the body with precision demands one-pointed focus, which is at the heart of Yoga and is instrumental in calming the mind that is always jumping here and there.

Physically this practice also has great effects. Straighten your arm and follow the same instructions with the hand. It’s immediately obvious that each action engages the forearm more and more deeply, and with continued practice and you will soon be able to see how the actions of the hands also awaken the upper arms, the shoulders and shoulder blades, and even the upper back and spine. Stretch the hands with precision and intense focus in any straight-armed asana like Downward Facing Dog or Tadasana with the arms overhead and you will begin to see that working this individual part of the body, the hand, has a direct effect on the whole body, as well as the mind!

Focus on the parts to awaken the whole. Your Yoga will go deeper and deeper and move you towards the realization that you are not a part of this world but are actually the whole that is the root of all that is; pure consciousness.

Christian Leeby has been teaching Yoga for over 20 years. He has studied in India with the world’s greatest Yoga master, BKS Iyengar, 5 times. Visit him at www.miracleofyoga.com

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yoga-enlightenment
By Ann Purcell author of Let Your Soul Sing, Enlightenment is for Everyone

Yoga has become so mainstream today that it is even offered at my family’s tennis and beach club. Almost every time I tell someone I meditate, their immediate response is, “I practice yoga!”

When I ask them about what type of yoga they do, they always mention some type of physical postures, but rarely does their practice involve any type of meditation.

In ancient India, where the tradition of yoga originated, the understanding of yoga (literally union) means the union of mind, intellect, emotions, and body, and union of the individual with the universal. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, which serves to unite and integrate all aspects of life into wholeness.

The ultimate goal of yoga is enlightenment whereby one is living unity consciousness—a state in which one realizes the supreme oneness of life in terms in one’s self. In this state, no diversity of life is able to overshadow this essential oneness.

In the ancient Vedic literature, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1.2) say that yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ “Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind.”

After doing an hour of yoga exercise, one does feel more settled and clear, and it is extremely beneficial to the mind, body, and spirit. However, the deepest experience of that complete settling of the mind is the experience of transcendental consciousness—one’s pure silent being.

The settled state of transcendental consciousness unites the mind, intellect, emotions, and body. This state is also an experience of union of the individual with the universal. Empirically, this unity or coherence can be seen in increased brainwave coherence between the left and right hemispheres. Transcendental consciousness can be effortlessly experienced through the technique of Transcendental Meditation.

I say effortlessly, because many of the people who tell me that they do yoga have also tried other meditation techniques, but find it difficult to settle down—they are restless and have lots of thoughts.

The experience of unity and inner peace grows over time, first in meditation and then even in activity, eventually resulting in the permanent experience of unity consciousness. The more your activity is infused with the silent level of the transcendent, or unity, the more smoothly and effortlessly every aspect of your life will flow in the evolutionary direction, leading to greater success and fulfillment. This is the growing state of enlightenment and the true goal of the practice of Yoga!

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I recently had the chance to take some online yoga classes called ShapeShifter Yoga. I was a bit skeptical at first because I had previously enjoyed a number of different yoga classes but I was pleasantly surprised by the simplicity and joyfulness experienced with this one.

chakrasana-shapeshifterIt was developed by an expert Yogini named Kris Fondran who is a veteran yoga instructor and also has a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiotherapy. Fondran leads the online yoga videos in an expert way to combine both the health and spiritual aspects of the practice. She says, “everybody can benefit from yoga. It is something that personally I would like to see the whole world do.” I completely agree with this statement. Wouldn’t it be great if they taught us yoga at school?!

I spend a lot of time behind a desk sitting and this can certainly cause some aches and pains along with stiffness in my joints. When I do yoga asanas, the tension disappears and the bliss of life comes back to me within minutes of my practice. It is like magic! So if you’re feeling a bit sluggish or stiff I highly recommend you get down to your local yoga studio for a class to bring you back to life. Or if you are too far away or don’t feel the desire to do yoga in public then doing the Shapeshifter Yoga program may be the solution.

yogaHere is a quote describing the Shapeshifter classes: “A ‘Scientific’ yoga teacher is transforming ‘yoga-haters’ into fitness & flexibility ‘gurus’ — and teaching them age-old secrets that burn fat faster, make them younger, banish stress, and increase flexibility (WITHOUT chanting a single ‘omm’)”

Benefits of Yoga

1) Help relieve aches and pains in the body
2) Fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply
3) Improve your sex life and reach orgasm faster with prolonged ecstasy
4) Increase your confidence and satisfaction with life
5) Tone your entire body and achieve the “yoga butt”
6) Enjoy great calmness and equanimity in the ups and downs of life
7) Experience your true spiritual self – the center of the universe

For more information about the Shapeshifter Online Yoga Classes CLICK HERE.

I’d love to hear what’s your favorite online yoga classes?

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allergies-in-children

Preventing allergies is one of the most important things you must try to do. It is much better to prevent than to cure. As they say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This is the philosophy of natural healthcare which seeks to bring balance to the body through natural means that don’t have negative side effects. It is definitely true that allergies are tough to deal with, but you might as well prevent them rather than trying to fight a blocked nose, itchy eyes and headaches etc. In this article, you will discover several ways to find relief from allergies that can help prevent those allergies from occurring and coming back trying to ruin your health.

How to prevent allergies

1) Drink Ginger

Ginger is a powerful and natural herb for improving ones digestion which is thought to be the source of allergies. This makes sense because your immune system is directly linked to your digestive fire which has the ability to burn incoming pathogens. Ginger acts to stoke the digestive fire and can be eaten raw before meals or added to the food. If you eat it raw then try cutting a thin slice with a little lemon and salt and chew 10 minutes before the meal. Another option is to make some ginger juice but this require a good blender. Ginger certainly can be great for removing your allergies and preventing them.

2) Plenty of Sleep

Sleep is said to be one of the pillars of health. There is a saying that says, “early to bed and early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise.” By going to be before 10pm you are aligning yourself with the cycles and rhythms of nature and you will get the deepest rest which will again boost your immunity and help prevent allergies. Getting enough rest leads to strength, health and the feeling of a refreshed and clear mind.

3) Warm showers

It is proven from many people that a nice relaxing warm shower can help increase chances of going to sleep easier and not having the sniffles so often. Hot water can help clear up your sinuses and guide your nose to breath correctly. Warm showers should not be taken when you already have a strong cold, but when it is just starting out, then get into the shower right away.

Preventing allergies from taking place is very easy once you have a solid baseline of several preventive remedies. It is important that you keep yourself active and moving as much as you possibly can. Your body will be much stronger when you exercise since it will help strengthen up your immune system. It is wonderful how well your body can feel better through simple exercise and using the tips above. They may not give you instant results, but they are definitely powerful. Use the tips above to help increase your chances of preventing those allergies.

What tips do you have for preventing allergies?

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What Is Enlightenment?

November 1, 2012

The term enlightenment, in the simplest definition, refers to the act of fully comprehending one’s condition, for the purpose of gaining an understanding of their sense of self. Enlightenment is a difficult concept or term to assign a concrete definition, since it can define virtually most states of being aware of one’s self, across both [...]

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Living a Sustainable Lifestyle Through Yoga

August 5, 2012

There are many ways to live a life of Sustainable Living, and one of the healthiest ways is through learning the benefits of yoga. Unlike competitive and high-impact sports, yoga centers around the individual, finding the center of one’s being, and about living in in the moment so that we might appreciate each of them [...]

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Chakra Meditation

June 7, 2012

Chakra meditation is the fundamental way to guide and focus your body’s energy. Of the people who have tried meditation, many will relate to a regularly experienced problem, that of sustaining concentration. Picture yourself relaxed in a peaceful place – maybe an isolated acre of meadow in the forest or a quiet, solitary room somewhere. [...]

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Different Yoga Techniques

June 3, 2012
Thumbnail image for Different Yoga Techniques

There are so many different yoga techniques that can be used today. Yoga has been around for a long time, and many people use yoga for different benefits. Yoga is one of the best ways to keep healthy and stay strong. There are actually over a 100 different schools of yoga, but they do have [...]

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Chakra Healing with Sound

May 8, 2012

The chakras are energy centers within our bodies and aura, and the Sanskrit word means “spinning wheel of energy”. There are seven main chakras receiving and transmiting energy, and each chakra is associated and connected with a different part of the body. Each chakra is positioned at a major endocrine gland, and a nerve bundle [...]

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Śānti Takes Meditation Apps To A New Plane

April 26, 2012

Khth today released Śānti 1.0 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users. This app sets itself apart from other meditation aids by offering more options and generating binaural beats in real time, instead of using the same, pre-recorded tones over and over. Śānti 1.0 lets users choose the length of their session, and automatically modulates [...]

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