Yoga Simplified | Simplicity Magazine
Yoga is everywhere these days: it is in health clubs, movies, magazines, fashion, television, and even the work place. The reason for yoga’s growing popularity is it provides tangible physical benefits but also helps people gain a deeper awareness and acceptance of themselves. The list of Yoga’s benefits are endless. It balances, strengthens, opens, purifies, and relaxes the body, nervous system and mind.
There are many types of yoga. Hatha yoga encompasses all physical-oriented practices involving poses (asanas) and is the type of yoga most commonly practiced in the West today. In fact, the most yoga styles popular today, such as Astanga, Iyengar, Jiva Mukti, ISHTA, Kripalu, Bikram and Integral, all fall under the umbrella of Hatha yoga.
The word YOGA means “union” in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. Hatha Yoga is rooted in the belief that the body and breath are intimately connected with the mind; and, you can experience the mind/body connection using the breath as a bridge. Through exploring and cultivating this connection, harmony and union is created in ourselves and with the world around us.
In essence, it works like this: stress and tension cause the body to tighten up, it has the same effect on the body as aging. Tension literally blocks off the energy flow. In yoga, you use the poses and the breath to learn to open every constricted area of the body and mind. This helps to release and erase tension that would otherwise accumulate and eventually be experienced as discomfort and ultimately disease. As the body relaxes and opens, the mind also becomes calm and less busy.
When the mind quiets it tends to become less fraught with anxiety, fear, and anger and naturally opens to love, compassion, and patients. With a clear mind, creativity and intuition can flourish. You may find that you become more open-minded, thus less judgmental about yourself and others.
Practicing yoga is a process. It’s not about getting poses right, its about getting sensitive to your own body and quiet enough to hear the subtle voices within you. In just a few simple poses, you can change the state of your body, mind and perspective.
Sanskrit name: Tadasana
To stand in Mountain Pose is to be grounded, strong and centered. As you learn to trust that the ground will physically hold you up, you realize that you do not have to “carry” yourself around by your shoulders and chest. This helps to release tension in the torso and chest muscles that when overworked, prevent complete breathing. This pose aligns the body, teaches correct standing, and helps develop a refined sense of balance and steadiness.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG
Sanskrit name: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward facing dog pose is a full body energizer. This exhilarating and stimulating pose brings blood flow to the brain while working the whole body. The pose resembles a dog stretching himself with his head down. This pose stretches the entire length of the back body. It strengthens the hands, arms, and upper-body while opening the chest. It also improves breathing, lengthens the spine, and rejuvenates the discs.
STANDING FORWARD FOLD
Sanskrit name: Uttanasana
The is a pose of surrender. Forward bending can teach you how to consciously let go. This pose helps depression and calms the mind. The spine is deeply stretched, releasing the compression of your disks which is caused by a day of sitting and standing. In addition, abdominal organs are stimulated and massaged, the nervous system calms, and circulation increases throughout the body.
Sanskrit name: Vrkasana
Tree awakens you to an experience of being both deeply rooted, while blooming up effortlessly into the wide-open sky. It improves balance, concentration, and focus. It limbers the hips and strengthens the ankles, legs, back while opening the shoulders and chest.
Sanskrit name: Virabhadrasana
Warrior pose inspires heroic strength, compact power, stamina, lightness, balance, clarity and poise. It limbers and strengthens legs, hips, and shoulders, expanding the chest and improving balance and concentration. As a result of gazing up and lengthening the front of the neck, the thyroid and the parathyroid glands are stimulated.
Sanskrit name: Bhujangasana
This pose is a heart opener and expresses an exhilarating “openness to life”. It is also about the courage and will power “to bend backwards”. Since the heart is so open here, it is common to experience a subtle release of held emotions in this pose. This pose stimulates the spine, strengthens and relaxes the nervous system. It provides an intense opening of the chest, aids in depression, and invigorates the body and mind while helping correct bad posture.
Sanskrit name: Salamba Sarvangasana
This pose is considered one of the most beneficial of all the asanas. It develops the feminine qualities of patience and emotional stability while evoking a balance of peace and strength. The entire body benefits. Venous blood is taken from the legs to the heart for purification without any strain because of the force of gravity. Oxygenated blood is circulated to the chest area, relieving numerous respiratory ailments. The thyroid gland is stimulated, which increases metabolism. The pose helps calm the mind and aids in headaches, digestion and elimination.
Sanskrit name: Sivansana
In relaxation pose, the entire body is fully supported by the earth, enabling you to deeply surrender the body and the mind. Practicing this pose helps to achieve a state of meditation, somewhere between sleeping and waking. This pose appears simple, but is the most difficult to master. It calms the mind and causes a relaxation response throughout the entire body, even the skin, muscles, and nerves are relaxed.