Medical doctors have studied the effects of yoga on blood pressure and anxiety. After six weeks, almost all of the sixty-two people tested, showed a five to ten point decrease in their blood pressure level. These tests, as well as many others, revealed that proper yoga breathing, for thirty seconds, reduced blood pressure for thirty minutes. If we breathed properly all day, we’d bee in pretty good shape.
Additional medical tests also concluded that yoga proved most effective in reducing stress levels. Three specific techniques were suggested for maximum benefits: Hatha Yoga, various relaxing methods, and meditation. The study concluded that our bodies need movement and that these particular methods help us reduce stress and enable us to cope better in our daily lives by fully using our bodies. Most people do not perform strenuous physical work every day. Fortunately, Hatha Yoga moves the body, fully but gently.
In our practice of yoga, we develop our concentration and become aware of the changes we must make in order to lead healthier lives. Yoga helps us become more aware of our inner being. As we become more centered and more balanced, we become calmer beings. With regular yoga practice, our entire existence becomes more flexible – physically and mentally. Consequently, if our minds are flexible, we are able to release and relax and better deal with any stressful situations. As we continually remember these practices, we bring ourselves into a closer harmony with nature. Our meditation should’t be only an occasional practice. We should become it. Mediation creates the ability to look at things as they are. It allows us to face our problems calmly, as they are. It teaches us how not to turn molehills into mountains. Meditation calms and balances our body. A calm and balanced being flows through daily life easily, with the flow of life itself.
Round Rolls. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your hands clasped underneath your knees. Roll back until your back is on the floor and your clasped knees are upward. Roll around on your back in full circles: on one side of your back; and finally, on your upper back. Rotate in one direction, then stop and rotate in the opposite direction. Stay relaxed. This posture loosens up and massages your whole back.
Advanced Fish – Lotus. Lie on your back. Bend your knees; place your legs in Lotus position. Keep your arms at your sides. You may hold your feet with your hands if you wish. Raise your upper body and place the top of your head on the floor. You buttocks stay on the floor. Be sure that your weight is on your elbows and not on your head or neck.
Standing One Leg Stretch. Stand with your feet about one foot apart. Inhale, bend your left knee, and raise your left leg. Hold your left foot with your left hand and stretch your leg and arm forward. Exhale, release your foot, lower your leg, Repeat for your right leg.
Relaxation/Meditation: Kneeling Meditation
Kneeling meditation combines movement, from the waist up, and nonmovement, from the waist down. If you are not used to kneeling, or if you have bad knees, you may be more comfortable with a small pillow or your rolled-up mat placed under your buttocks, which will raise your torso slightly and keep pressure of your knees. This style meditation is called Zen sitting, and it can be quite comfortable with practice, even more comfortable than Full Lotus sitting style traditional in yoga.
When you are settled, take a few deep, relaxing breaths and close your eyes. Choose an inspirational image on which to direct your concentration, perhaps an image of Jesus, Buddha, Kwan Yin, The Mother of Compassion, the Virgin Mary, a saint, or the Universal Force. Take your time, for this is with whom you will be communicating.
Once you have chosen your image, simply sit for a moment and picture the individual clearly. Hold the image in your mind and in your heart. (pause.)
Keeping your back fairly straight and relaxed, but not stiff, inhale and stretch you arms up and out. Drop your head back slightly as though you were looking up at the person you have selected. Picture this person in your mind. Bring your arms together, cupping your palms upward as though you are gathering something. Exhale and bring your arms down toward your heart center.
Pause briefly and fill yourself with whatever you have brought back. Then, repeat this movement over and over again. Inhale as you reach up. Pause, and gather in. Exhale and bring your hands back to your heart. Pause again before repeating the movement.
Whatever or whoever you have chosen to gather, meet it as an embrace, a longing, a wanting, a desiring. Be sincere in your reaching, your enfolding, and your gathering to you. Reach with gratefulness and appreciation. Fill yourself. (pause.)
Be receptive and open to filling and to the feeling. Let it flow into you, over you, and all around you. (pause.)
You are showing your gratefulness and your humility, and, thereby, demonstrating your greatness. It is by being humble that we rise to greater heights. Each time you practice this meditation, you will find a fuller peace. Feel it now. (pause.)
Do you see that radiating image? Is it smiling at you? Is your heart smiling at this moment? That is the feeling you want to absorb and fill yourself with. This time, when you bring your hands back to your heart center, hold them in a prayerful pose for a moment, then lower your head down to them. Pause for a few seconds, then release your hands out to your sides and down.
It is through meditation that we are able to glimpse into the blessedness of the infinite, the Everlasting, the Pure and Holy, the untarnished reality of Is-ness. You should never be afraid to take the gigantic leap from finite to infinite experiencing, from prisoner to prince of princess, from fatuity to freedom, from pain to peace.
Realize how you feel right now, at this moment. Have you ever left more content, protected, watched over, and loved? You can feel this way anytime you wish by being silent and going within. Treat yourself to this pause that refreshes, renews, reaffirms, redirects, and reassures us of who and what we truly are. We are precious and perfect, as we are. There is nothing for us to become. We must only realize our self. Did you realize? If you did not realize this time, you will when you are ready.
Prepare yourself to come back to the room around you and to this moment. Gently stretch back to aliveness. Affirm to yourself: “My body is relaxed and my mind is peaceful. I am whole and complete just as I am at this moment, and this moment is complete.” Learn to say this to yourself. Stretch fully, yawn, and smile from the joy in your being.
Vitamins and Minerals
Some of us may feel that a once-a-day vitamin covers all vitamin and mineral needs. However, once-a-day vitamins are geared for the “average body.” Vitamins have more value when taken individually because specific vitamins are more likely to suit your body. Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin B and C, are very important. Since they are water soluble, we can’t overdose on them, and any excess is washed out of our system. Brewer’s yeast, for instance, is a complete, balance vitamin B in natural proportion to the other B vitamins. In other words, it does not contain 50 mgs or 100 mgs of all the B vitamins. Most research shows that brewer’s yeast has twelve to fourteen individual B vitamins. If you don’t like the taste of brewer’s yeast, then consider primary, grown yeast. This comes in powder form and, when mixed with liquids for a drink, tastes nutty. Vitamin B keeps us from becoming tired, irritable, nervous, and depressed. It also helps with constipation and insomnia.
Vitamin C comes in two forms: Natural C, which contains all the citrus bioflavonoids, and Synthetic C, which is ascorbic acid. Both types are beneficial to your body, and will keep you free from colds. Vitamin C interacts with other vitamins to aid in healing and is also excellent for fighting infections.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are oil-soluble, which means that they remain stored in your system for varying periods of time and should be taken in low dosages. As with all vitamins, always follow the directions on the bottle. Vitamin A is an antioxidant and wonderful for the eyes and skin; it helps your immune system and aids in the prevention of cancer. Vitamin D, as you all know, is called the sunshine vitamin. It increases the body’s absorption of calcium and phosphorous, protects against muscular weakness, and helps build and strengthen bones. As we get older, we need more vitamin D, but only in recommended dosages. Vitamin E recently gained prominence in treating heart disease because of its benefits to the circulatory system. It is an antioxidant and strengthens the immune system. Although vitamin K is often ignored, it is very important in helping the blood to clot.
Easy Cobra. This easier variation is for those who might have difficulty with other Cobra postures. Lie face down on the floor with your hands under your shoulders. Bend your elbows, slide your arms forward, and clasp your hands in front of your head. Slowly slide your arms toward your body and rest your forehead on your clasped hands. Inhale, slowly raise your head, and look toward the ceiling. If you are able, as you raise your head, try to raise your upper torso of the floor. Exhale to lower your body and head. Even though this is an easier version of Cobra, it still improves your circulation and keeps your spine flexible.
Flying Bow. Lie face down on the floor with your arms stretched out in front of you. Your arms and legs are apart. Inhale and lift your arms and legs as in Half Bow. Balancing yourself on your stomach, bring your arms to your sides then, to the back. Return your arms to your sides and again to the front. Your legs remain raised, while your arms move from front to side, to back, to side, and to front, as though you were flying. If you have difficulty going through the full rotation and keeping your legs raised, stop and lower your legs after each arm movement. Simply remember to raise your legs again when you are ready to continue.
Pelvic Lift Variation. Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Raise your knees and bring your heels as close to your buttocks as you can, as in Pelvic Lift. Do not hold on to your heels. Inhale, raise your pelvis, and, at the same time, raise your arms up and back, so that they rest on the floor behind your head. Exhale, lower your body, and bring your arms back to your sides.
Relaxation/Meditation: The Path to Oneness
The word “meditation” is a dichotomy: Your are alone, yet you are in oneness. You are alone in the sense that you must make the journey and have your adventure alone into that other consciousness. However, meditation is a oneness in the sense that you are not alone when you are in that other state of consciousness. You are one with everything and everyone with the entire universe! Your oneness is so inclusive that neither the past nor the future exists. All time is right now, right here! You are experiencing every thing all at once, with no division, no separateness – a totality! it is fantastic! Wonderful! Breathtaking!
Since we must travel alone, this meditation is designed to help you to enter that state in aloneness, feeling not lonely but complete and content. By now you probably feel quite comfortable locking the rest of the world out and locking yourself in, putting your ego aside and experiencing your inner self. This meditation emphasizes and teaches you the power that your mind has in creating and disintegrating. It teaches you concentration.