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Beat Depression with these Yoga poses

balasana-2

Image via Stylecraze.

#Depression #Yoga #Yoga4Healing #MentalHealth #Wellness #LiveWell @Yoga_Journal

Depression is a reality for many people, yet many still brush off the severity of this mental health issue. Once caught in the chains of depression, one cannot simply ‘get over it’. Personally I don’t think anyone can describe exactly how depression feels, what it does to your heart, you soul and your mind, not to  mention your physical body.

For me it has always been like a well. A deep, dark well with slippery walls and a tiny light, high, unreachable above. You are trapped down in the dark with no way out and your sorrow drowns out everything else. Other sufferers may have a different idea about depression. Each one of us is, after all, different. One thing, though, when you are ‘down in the well’, you have NO energy or motivation to change your disposition. You want out, of course, but lack the strength.

This is why yoga seems like the holy grail for depression sufferers. The low impact, gentle poses takes little effort. There is no pressure to perform while you exercise your physical body. By focusing on your breathing, yoga turns your attention to something else than your depression and through meditation you may find the path that can lead to healing. Another benefit is that it can be done at home. You don’t need to go to yoga class until you feel ready to face the world again.

Richard Rosen shares a sequence of yoga poses that has been specifically developed to ease the symptoms of depression. These nine poses are very easy to master and even those of you who have never been in a yoga class will be able to understand the instructions. You can find the sequence here.

Once you’ve mastered Rosen’s sequence, why not try a new combination of poses. There are plenty to choose from. Those which will help with your depression can be found on yogajournal.com. Click here.

The secret is to start slow, do not push yourself too hard. Try to repeat your sequence at least three times a week. As your confidence grows, you can invite your partner or friend to join you and, eventually, you will feel well enough to go to a class, meet more people and become a whole person once again.

Namaste.

SOURCES:

ROSEN, Richard. 2012.  Dissolve Depression [Web:] Yoga Journalbit.ly/2v1sgH2

YOGA JOURNAL. Yoga for Depression. [Web:] Yoga Journalbit.ly/2vbu4wj

 

 

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the HOLISTIC pages is out! Edition of 19 May 2017

Read all about the latest global trends in holistic health. Find out more about scientific breakthroughs and discover some of the most popular quotes and affirmations of the week.

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Enrich Your Life: Deepak Chopra’s 4-Step Spiritual Seeker Practice

Via @Yoga_Journal

BY DEEPAK CHOPRA

Deepak Chopra

A pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine and author of dozens of best-selling books on Eastern philosophy and personal transformation,Deepak Chopra, MD, is known for bringing traditional wisdom to contemporary issues.

In his latest book, The Future of God: A Practical Approach to Spirituality for Our Times, he dives into the question of the existence of God, and offers his own thought-provoking approach to the ongoing debate between skeptics and believers. He doesn’t give black-and-white answers; rather, he encourages readers to explore their own inner sense of these questions and provides a framework and a set of practices to help each of us discover answers within.

See also 5 Mindfulness Meditations to Master Emotions + Stress

In the excerpt offered here, Dr. Chopra gives new meaning to the term “spiritual seeker,” explaining that true seeking is not a journey to find wisdom outside yourself, but a deeply personal process of introspection. Try the four-step practice below to begin to tap into your personal guiding principles, from which you can live a life of integrity and connection to your core self.

Survey Your True Desires

You are a seeker if these ingredients exist inside you. They may only be seeds; nonetheless you feel a stirring within you, some sort of desire percolating inside.

  • The desire to be real
  • The courage to step into the unknown
  • A refusal to be fooled by illusions
  • The need to feel fulfilled
  • The ability to go beyond material satisfaction
  • An intimation of other levels of existence

The material world is chaotic, filled with events beyond anyone’s personal control. To be a seeker, you are required not to conquer the chaos but to see through it. The Vedic tradition uses a clever metaphor for this: A seeker must walk through a herd of sleeping elephants without waking them up. The elephants are your old conditioning, which insists that you are weak, isolated, and abandoned. You can’t fight this conditioning, because once you wake it up, your fear, insecurity, and certainty that you must struggle to survive will have tremendous power. Once the elephants wake up, they’ll trample you.

So the world’s wisdom traditions figured out another way through. Sneak past these obstacles, without trying to fight them head on. Shift your allegiance, silently and inwardly. Stop being ruled by chaos and be ruled by your core self.

To become a seeker, you don’t have to walk away and exist as an outsider from society; you aren’t required to turn your back on those who love you or to proselytize a set of new beliefs. Those are the customary trappings of religious conversion. Instead, reexamine your present situation. Sit down and confront what your existence is about.

See also Is Yoga a Religion?

Step 1: Rate Your Outer Activities

In one column, list the external things you put effort into. Beside each category, put down a number, either the hours a week you devote to this activity or how much you value the activity, on a scale from 1 to 10.

Here’s a sample list:

  • Family and friends
  • Career
  • School, higher education
  • Wealth, property, and possessions
  • Politics
  • Hobbies
  • Exercise
  • Sex
  • Entertainment
  • Travel
  • Church attendance
  • Service organizations and charity

See also Tap Your Higher Power

Step 2: Rate Your Inner Pursuits

In another column, make a list of the inner activities that you put effort into. Rate these things, too, with a number, reflecting the value you put on each one or how much time you devote to it.

Here are some examples:

Step 3: Compare Your Priorities

Now compare the two lists. They will give you a rough sense of where your allegiance lies between the inner and outer. I’m not suggesting you play a spiritual blame game—almost everyone predominantly pursues outward activities. The material world holds us fast. And remember, it’s alright for inward activities to take place in the material world; they can be part of one’s daily routine.

Step 4: Assess Your Life’s Focus and Set Goals

Unless you devote time and attention to inward things, you are not seeking. Being pious and doing good works are not a substitute. They remain all too often on the external plane. If you wish to set spiritual goals, I’d begin with two that have nothing to do with religion and everything to do with getting real: Find your center, and then run your life from there. Both goals are necessary. If you leave out one, the other will have limited use.

Finding your center means settling into a stable, coherent state of awareness. Outer forces do not dominate you. You’re not restless, anxious, worried, or unfocused. The second goal is running your life from your center, which means obeying your subtle inner guidance, such as instinct, intuition, love, self-knowledge, trust, and compassion.

Take a look at your life and assess which of these two lists sounds like you right now:

You are finding your center when you:

  • Act with integrity
  • Speak your truth
  • Remain unswayed by the need to be liked
  • Do not fear authority
  • Respect your personal dignity and others’
  • Remain self-reliant, not dependent on others
  • Do not blind yourself with denial and self-deceptions
  • Practice tolerance
  • Become slow to anger and quick to forgive
  • Aim to understand others as well as you understand yourself

You aren’t living from your center when you:

  • Focus on external rewards
  • Crave approval from others
  • Open yourself easily to outside influences
  • Put too much emphasis on rules
  • Set yourself up as an authority
  • Compete as if winning is the only thing that matters
  • Gossip and belittle others
  • Hold on to prejudice or ideology
  • Seek revenge
  • Skirt the truth
  • Keep your inner world a secret

Once you achieve the two goals, your material world will hold together in the same way that you hold together. Inner and outer will no longer be two separate domains; you will have made them connect. You can operate from a core of integrity and express your true self. That’s how a person learns to overcome the material world’s chaos and fragmentation.

This project of seeking that I’ve outlined is existential, to put it in a word. The courage to be has traced a path to a solid sense of what it means to be real.

  • When you begin to suspect that you are the author of your own existence, seeking has begun.
  • When you use your awareness to actively shape your life, seeking has brought answers.
  • When you look around and know that reality is based entirely on consciousness, seeking has reached its goal.

The next stage is to journey deeper, always moving toward the source of creation, which is where real power lies. Seeking takes place in the material world, but finding happens somewhere else.

Reprinted from The Future of God, Harmony Books, an imprint of Random House, November 2014.

See also Q&A with Strala Founder Tara Stiles

Worlds Oldest Yoga Teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch’s Secrets to Long Life

Via @Yoga_Journal

BY JENNIFER D’ANGELO FRIEDMAN 

“I don’t want to know what I can’t do. I’m only interested in what I can do.”

If there’s living proof that yoga is the fountain of youth, it’s Tao Porchon-Lynch. The 96-year-old Guinness World Records-certified oldest yoga teacher in the world still teaches regular classes in Westchester County, New York. That is, when she’s not traveling around the world, coming in first place in ballroom dance contests, writing books, and makingvideos with Tara Stiles.

Porchon-Lynch’s life story feels like a movie (and it could end up being one, after she finishes writing her autobiography at the end of this year). The former MGM actress and model for brands like Lanvin and Chanel, who was born in French India, crossed paths with Marlene Dietrich, Gene Kelly, and Gandhi. She studied with B. K. S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois. And yes, you will work up a sweat in her yoga class, and you probably won’t be able to resist hugging her.

“Last weekend I came in first place in a dance contest. My partner was 70 years younger, and all ages were participating. I danced all day for two days then I taught two yoga classes Sunday morning. I wasn’t really tired.”

We sat down with the lovely-as-ever Porchon-Lynch last week after taking her Monday night class at the JCC of Mid-Westchester, where despite a recent slip on the dance floor and three hip replacements, she’s still demonstrating most of the asanas in her class. “I don’t believe in calamities,” she explains. “I don’t want to know what I can’t do. I’m only interested in what I can do.”

Most Important Yoga Lessons

Yoga Journal: You’ve been teaching yoga for 56 years and practicing it for 72 years. Are there any particular poses that you credit with helping to keep you young and fit?

Tao Porchon-Lynch: Breathing is more important than anything else—poses that are not done correctly are not going to help. It’s how much you can feel the breath moving throughout your body. If you’re in touch with the breath inside you, there’s nothing you can’t do.

YJ: Is there anything about yoga that you wish you knew as a younger person?

TPL: Not really. As a teacher, the most important thing is to have iscompassion. We’re not all made the same—you can’t tell everyone to do it the same way. Sometimes it’s better for students to stop physically and continue mentally, rather than strain. It’s important to watch your students to make sure you can help them.

YJ: You studied with yoga greats like the late B.K.S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois. What are the biggest lessons you learned from them?

TPL: They were both the greatest yoga masters. I loved Iyengar for one thing—his alignment, which was always perfect, and his principles of alignment. Pattabhi Jois was wonderful, all breathing, which was what I was looking for. I learned so much from Pattabhi that had to do with my inner self.

See also A Tribute to B.K.S. Iyengar

World's Oldest Yoga Teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch

The World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher on Aging Gracefully

YJ: Do you meditate?

TPL: I believe in nature. To me meditation is, if I see a flock of geese across the sky, I’ll stop my car. I don’t need to make it regular.

See also Why Meditating in Nature Is Easier

YJ: You’re still ballroom dancing?

TPL: Last weekend I came in first place in a dance contest. My partner was 70 years younger, and all ages were participating. I danced all day for two days then I taught two yoga classes Sunday morning. I wasn’t really tired.

YJ: Do you think being a lifelong vegetarian has helped you live a long, healthy life?

TPL: Maybe. I don’t believe in getting old. In America, look how many beautiful trees are hundreds of years old. They are losing leaves but they are not dying—they are recycling. In a few months, spring will start up again. You can learn so much from nature.

See also Aging Gracefully

Tao Porchon-Lynch’s 5 Rules for a Long, Happy Life

1. Don’t procrastinate—tomorrow never comes.
2. You can’t believe in something if you only do it halfway.
3. Each day, whatever is in your mind materializes.
4. Never think about what can go wrong. I know my best day is every day.
5. If you wait for something good to happen, it will. Don’t look for tragedy.

See also 4 Anti-Aging Tips to Grow Older the Right Way

A Beginners Guide to the Chakras

@arosiegirl #Yoga #Chakras #Health #Wellness #Exercise #MindBodySpirit

Via @Yoga_Journal A Beginners Guide to the Chakras.

By Andrea Ferrettiwww.yogajournal.com                                              View Original

Channel more confidence, creativity, and joy into your life with a basic understanding of your body’s energy centers. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s too bad our problems don’t stay behind with our shoes when we step into the yoga studio. Too often, we get on the mat feeling overwhelmed with worry or stymied by a relationship conflict or in need of an energy boost. But the right class can leave us feeling clearer, lighter, and refreshed. Credit the stress-busting powers of a good workout? Sure. But the ancient yogis, and many teachers today, would also chalk this up to the unique way that yoga poses and breathwork move blocked prana (life force) through the subtle body.

According to yoga tradition, the subtle body is a part of you that you can’t see or touch—it’s where your energy flows, which is why it’s also referred to as the energy body. There are seven key points in the subtle body that are thought to be vortexes of energy, known as chakras. When energy becomes blocked in a chakra, it triggers physical, mental, or emotional imbalances that manifest in symptoms such as anxiety, lethargy, or poor digestion. A well-tuned asana practice can free up energy and stimulate an imbalanced chakra, paving the way for that wonderful internal shift for which yoga is known. With just a little bit of coaching, you can tap into the chakras as a potent way of harnessing and shifting your energy in the direction you want it to go.

Start by thinking of chakras as a blueprint for your own self-care, and your yoga practice as the architect that makes that blueprint a reality. The most direct way to use the chakras is to learn how each one is associated with an element in nature. As Alan Finger, founder of ISHTA Yoga, explains, the first five chakras are associated with the physical elements earth, water, fire, air, and ether (or space). The last two chakras are thought to connect us beyond the earthly realm, so they are associated with the elements of light and cosmic energy.

Once you learn the element that each chakra is associated with, you can start to suss out how that element feels in your body. And thinking about your body in these symbolic terms can help you access new stores of energy with the practices detailed in these pages. For example, the root chakra is associated with earth. When it’s in balance, we feel strong and grounded; when it’s out of balance, we may feel unrooted and insecure. Or take the pelvic chakra, which is associated with water. When it’s in balance, we feel fluid and like our creative juices are flowing. When it’s not, we might feel rigid, dry, or emotionally brittle, like a plant that hasn’t been watered enough.

In order to restore balance in your chakras, you must first tune in to how you’re feeling, then figure out which chakra to stimulate to counteract the imbalance. For example, if you’re feeling low in energy, you can do poses that target the navel chakra to rekindle your inner fire. If you’re feeling anxious and long to feel more grounded, choose poses for the earthy root chakra. Or if you seek more courage to speak your truth, the right poses can open and stimulate the throat chakra.

The effects of a chakra-based practice can have a tangible, empowering ripple effect on your life. Jasmine Tarkeshi, vinyasa teacher and cofounder of Laughing Lotus Yoga Center, says she’s been doing more root-chakra practices since becoming a new mom, and the effect is palpable. “If I’m feeling frenzied, I hold the poses longer to feel more grounded and present,” she says. “It informs the rest of my day to the point where maybe I’m not losing my keys so much or I’m not so busy or forgetful that I skip lunch. If I specifically use the poses medicinally rather than just haphazardly, I can really change my day.”

Watch the 5-Minute Chakra Balancing Flow Video >

Each of the poses Tarkeshi recommends here is designed to address a corresponding chakra and its associated life issues. You can do the entire sequence, or focus on the pose or poses that speak to areas in your life that need attention. For a more restorative, meditative approach, first close your eyes while seated and envision the color associated with the chakra radiating from the chakra’s location, as you repeat the sound associated with it. And to help you focus and go deeper into each asana, try repeating the associated chakra sound while practicing.

Remember, the changes to the subtle body can’t be touched or measured as you would your heart rate or height. You have to trust your inner experience to feel them and to recognize their benefits. Claire Missingham, a London-based vinyasa flow yoga teacher, advises trying chakra-based poses for four weeks and keeping a journal of how you feel after each practice. Keep your notes simple, and write down any changes you feel in your energy, such as, “calmed me down” or “helped me communicate more clearly.” Keeping track this way just might help you see how tuning in to the chakras can help you shift more than just your physical state.


Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, creating a stable base. On an exhale, soften your knees, and release your tailbone as you engage your thighs. Draw the sole of your right foot to the inside of your left inner thigh or calf; continue dropping your tailbone and engaging the standing leg’s thigh to keep the stable alignment you had standing on both feet. Press through your left foot as you lift through the crown of your head. Hold for 5 breaths, and switch sides. Allow gravity to root you down, while noticing how prana moves up your spine.

Muladhara (Root Chakra)
Life Theme: The Muladhara governs your family ties and feelings of survival, belonging, and guardedness. Your earliest memories are stored here, including whether or not your basic needs were met. When it is blocked or out of balance, you can become needy, have low self-esteem, or have self-destructive behaviors. When Muladhara is in balance, you feel strong and confident; you can stand up on your own two feet and take care of yourself.
Element: Earth
Color: Red
Sound: Lam


Deviasana (Goddess Pose)

Step your feet wide, turn your toes out, and sink your hips far enough to bring each knee over its corresponding ankle. Place your hands on your thighs and draw your tailbone down as the pubis lifts. Breathe deeply and move side to side, rocking your pelvis back and forth. You can fold down and move your arms side to side between your feet. The point is to enjoy the movement. Feel free to sigh or make sounds. Hold for 8-10 breaths. By opening the hips, you draw focus to the reproductive organs; in swaying, you recognize life’s ebb and flow.

Svadhisthana (Sacral or Pelvic Chakra)
Life Theme: This chakra corresponds with your reproductive and sexual organs, and represents fluidity, creativity, and fertility. You can take a literal interpretation of this, or associate this chakra with whether or not you feel deserving of a pleasurable, abundant, creative life. When it’s out of balance, you can feel emotionally unstable, guilty, or hard on yourself. When it’s in balance, you feel creative, positive, and receptive to change—like the ocean and its tides, you’re in the flow.
Element: Water
Color: Orange
Sound: Yam


Navasana (Boat Pose)

Begin seated with your legs ahead of you. Hug your knees into your chest, and then grab behind your knees to help lift your feet off the floor and balance on your sitting bones. Lift your chest, and draw your shoulders down. Shift your weight forward to the front of your sitting bones as you draw in your navel, engaging your abdominals, and extend your arms forward and your legs up into Navasana. As you exhale, cross your arms at your chest, and lower your legs until they’re a few inches off the ground; inhale to rise back to Navasana. Repeat 5 times, and then lower to your back. Boat is an energizing pose that ignites your core muscles, creating power for transformation.

Manipura (Navel Chakra)
Life Theme: You’ve heard the expression “firing on all cylinders.” When the Manipura is in balance, you feel alive and have the self-esteem and confidence to take action and be productive. When it’s blocked, you lack courage, have low self-esteem, and feel stagnant and inert. By working on this chakra, you can awaken your true personal inner power and work through your fear of taking risks.
Element: Fire
Color: Yellow
Sound: Ram


Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Come to your knees, and sit back on your heels. Join your hands at your heart center. Tuck your toes and rise to bring your hips over your knees, making sure knees and toes are hip-width apart. Place your palms on your lower back with the fingers pointing up and gently draw your sacrum down, as your front hip bones lift. Keep your chin in toward your chest, and lean back. Hug the shoulder blades toward each other. Stay here and breathe, or reach for your heels with your hands. The head is the last thing to release, if it’s comfortable. After a few breaths, bring your hands back to your sacrum and sit on your heels, returning your hands to prayer and bowing your head. Camel opens the heart center. Before you arch back, consider dedicating the posture to someone for whom you feel compassion.

Anahata (Heart Chakra)
Life Theme: Awaken to the power of unconditional love within you through compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. When the heart chakra is blocked, you become possessive and codependent, and may form dysfunctional relationships. You may also stay isolated for fear of rejection. When you stimulate the Anahata chakra, you can heal past wounds by reopening your heart, learn to love unconditionally, and form healthy relationships.
Element: Air
Color: Green
Sound: Yam


Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)

Lie down with your shoulders supported on a folded blanket, head on the floor. Bend your knees, rock your hips up, lift your legs overhead, and then release your toes toward the floor beyond the crown of your head. Place your hands midback, and lift one leg at a time skyward. Allow your gaze to drop toward your heart, and hear the sound of your breath. Feel free to express yourself by joining the soles of the feet, or by lowering one leg at a time toward the floor. Hold for up to 2 minutes. To release, lower both feet to the floor above your head, release your hands to the floor, and lower yourself vertebra by vertebra. Freeing the neck and spine, and then turning the senses in toward your breath, allows you to connect with your own rhythm.

Vishuddha (Throat Chakra)
Life Theme: When this chakra is blocked, you may feel like you can’t find your voice or your truth. You may also be overly talkative and not listen to others. When this chakra is open and stimulated, your voice moves through space to help you communicate your emotions in healthy ways. You also become better at listening to others and honoring their personal truths without judgment.
Element: Ether
Color: Blue
Sound: Ham


Sukhasana (Easy Pose)

Come to a seat. Fold one heel in toward your groin, and then the other. If your knees aren’t lower than your hips, sit on a folded blanket. Cup your palms toward each other, touching opposite fingertips in Hakini Mudra. For 10 breaths, close your eyes, pose a question to yourself, and focus on the sound of your breath, placing the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth as you inhale, and relaxing it as you exhale. Release the backs of your hands to your knees, and see if you sense an answer. Stay here for up to 5 minutes. Hakini Mudra is known to increase the power of concentration, and in this pose you can easily access calm focus.

Anja (Third-Eye Chakra)
Life Theme: This chakra is associated with your intuition, or sixth sense, and governs how the rest of the chakras function. When it’s functioning well, you have insight, and you trust your inner wisdom to face life’s challenges and choices. When it’s blocked, you feel close-minded, too attached to logic, untrusting, and cynical. Working on the sixth chakra opens your mind to the bigger picture and different perspectives, and it helps you receive the wisdom that cannot be seen or heard by ordinary senses.
Element: Light
Color: Indigo
Sound: OM

Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Make sure you’re warm and comfortable, and lie down on your back. You can cover yourself with a blanket, cover your eyes with an eye pillow, or place a rolled-up blanket under your knees or head. Open your legs hip-width apart, and release your arms to your sides with your palms facing up. Take a deep breath and squeeze every part of your body tight, lifting your head, arms, and legs off the floor. Hold for a moment, and let everything go with a big exhale out of the mouth. Do this several times. Imagine a lotus flower at the crown of your head. With every inhale, imagine Divine light pouring in through the flower, and with every exhale, let go of anything that binds you to the past. Stay for 5–20 minutes, then slowly bring your awareness back to your breath, and move your fingers and toes to reconnect to your physical body without losing your connection to your infinite self.

Sahasrara (Crown Chakra)
Life Theme: The crown chakra connects to beauty itself and the spiritual realm. It helps you to understand who you are beyond your physical self—that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. It is not located in the body but actually hovers above the crown of the head. When it’s closed, you think happiness can only come from the outside, and you suffer. Working on this chakra helps you to feel free in any situation.
Element: Cosmic Energy
Color: Violet or White
Sound: OM