Introducing the Hatha Yoga Way

The Hatha Yoga Way  It is that, but it is also much more. Hatha yoga practices are more spiritual than physical, more subtle than gross, more a means of understanding than an exotic way to relieve stress or limber up the body.

The sages who developed hatha yoga designed it as a way to gain conscious control of our life energies, a way to go within, to harmonize the external so the innermost Self could be encountered. To them, it was about states of consciousness, about living a divine life, and it was a preparation for meditation.

As you perform the asanas, concentrate on feeling the energies within the nerve currents. Sensitize yourself to knowing when the body has been in each position long enough to tune the nerve currents involved. Then shift smoothly into the next asana. It's like a dance, a deliberate, fluid dance.

During all postures, inhale using the diaphragm, not the chest muscles. Do not stretch unduly or force the body. Relax into the poses. Don't worry if you can't perform them all perfectly. In time, you will find the body becoming more flexible and supple. Free the mind of thoughts and tensions. You will be more aware, more alive, more serene.

While there are many more complex hatha yoga routines, these twenty-four asanas provide a balanced system for daily use. For the simple purpose of quieting the mind in preparation for meditation, this is all you will ever need.

For best results, hatha yoga should be taught personally by a qualified teacher. These instructions are meant only as a rudimentary aid. For more elaborate regimens, inquire at a recognized school specializing in hatha yoga.

The scene of hatha yoga has a spiritual purpose - to balance physical and physic energies in preparation for meditation. It is not only meant to make us young, beautiful or creative, but to aid us in quieting the mind, body and emotions that we may awaken enlightened consciousness & know the Self within.

By Ann Marier - Source: Free Articles


Make Sure You Pick the Right Yoga Class

Regardless of the type of yoga you choose to do, make sure you find a class with an instructor who knows how you are doing, physically and mentally. If you want to get the most of the class, for your mind and body, you must pick an instructor who asks you, before you start the class, how you are, physically and mentally. Once that information is known, you can safely move into the wonder of yoga.


By LeeAnn Simons

Congratulations! You are starting off the New Year by increasing your activity! You are walking, or jogging, or you joined a class at the local Y. Whatever it is, you have taken the first step to improving your fitness. 

Now you are considering working on becoming more flexible. You read somewhere that, to have a "total fitness program," you need to include not only increased activity, but also flexibility and strength.

Good luck. I'm almost 53 years old, and I am not sure I'll ever get all three parts down. But I am a walker and my goal is to walk 4-5 times a week for 45 minutes. Many times I take several short walks, but the total is 45 minutes, so most times I meet my goal. I have also been working on my flexibility for many years by doing yoga. Many yoga poses involve holding this 144-pound body in a headstand, or handstand, and that takes strength. So maybe I won't need to buy weights to keep my bones strong!

Let me tell you a bit about doing yoga, because, as a big fan, I wish everyone could take time to do it. Yoga helps you feel good in your body, no matter what shape you think you are in-and that's what I love about it. Whether I feel too fat from overeating, or I'm feeling energetic because it's...a good day, ten minutes of yoga makes me feel even better. Maybe it's the idea that I have made time to take care of myself, I don't know. Whether you have ten minutes or an hour, you can always find some type of pose (or series of poses) to fit the way you are feeling. You will always feel better, physically and psychologically.

There are many styles of yoga, including Ashtanga yoga, a fast moving, intense practice; power yoga, a Westernized form of Asthanga; and another form known as "hot yoga" where you practice in a heated room (make sure to drink LOTS of water).

The style I practice is called Iyengar yoga, based on the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar. It has been referred to as "props" yoga, because it involves the use of blocks, belts and other objects to aid in learning the poses (also called "asanas"). Once I went to another yoga-style class. After the class, I had a conversation with the instructor about Iyengar yoga. I have a distinct memory of him saying "yes, that is the yoga for people who have hurt themselves and need to start over again, slowly"." I was so angry I would have kicked him! (Since I'd injured my back, though, I couldn't.)

I complained to my instructor about this comment, and she smiled. It's important that you simply start doing yoga, she said, not what style you choose. Very Zen, don't you think? But she's right. The important thing is for people to just get started.

There is one essential piece of advice I'd like to offer anyone interested in learning yoga, regardless of the style you choose. You must make sure you have a qualified instructor. While there are many people out there who may be considered qualified, not all of them should be teaching classes.

Here is one way to tell: at the beginning of your class, if the instructor does not ask "Is there anyone here with a particular health issue I should know about?"-get up and leave. A misconception about yoga is that you simply sit, breathe deeply, and learn small stretches. Learning how to breathe correctly is essential, it aids in concentration and movement through the asanas. However, many yoga poses involve deep stretching and lots of strength (to stay in those poses). Suppose you walk into class with an injury (perhaps you strained your neck in the middle of the night, or pulled a back muscle getting out of bed). If your instructor isn't aware of this at the beginning of class, by the end of class you may be in more pain than when you started.

By all means, pick a yoga class you like-that's the most important part in getting started. Just remember to make sure your instructor knows what going on in your body (and your mind) before you start the class.
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