YOGA – Philosophy

Please submit an essay about the practical use of Yogic philosophy in your classes. You can base your essay on the modern use the Yoga Sutras in today’s environment.

By researching the “sworn testimony” you will get a lot of different wording statements varying by geographical location; the essence is that they all end with the wording “…I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” The basis behind this statement is that the truth can be distorted by merely reporting some of the facts. And this is something that can even happen unintentionally since there is a possibility of making mistakes in our everyday judgment. Bare in mind that each one of us, can only realize the truth from his own perspective and this is directly related to the way each one of us perceives things. So yes, it’s possible for each perspective to carry a certain element of truth in its equation. Where is the problem? When the perspectives, as mind consciousness systems, fight over one another for a belief while neglecting the physical evidence that exists. Everybody is entitled to an opinion but how many opinions does it really take to form the whole truth? Don’t just think – practice and find out!

Yoga is not a religion but a philosophy. Yoga is the union of the mind, body and spirit; all levels interconnected within one breath. It’s not about a specific style of Yoga or a specific body type but the inner process that takes place within each practitioner. It starts from inwards by understanding and exploring own self and consequently moving outwards and realizing how the self is interacting with the rest of the environment. It’s all about awareness; how and why everything around us is acting and reacting, what responsibilities each one of us has and hence how do we influence this greater picture by shaping our relationships.

And Yoga is for everybody. There are benefits for all ages and types of people. You don’t have to join a cult or anything else and it doesn’t come with a belief system; Its up to you to decide which Yoga style is best for you or what is your purpose in Yoga and Life accordingly. Yoga practices may vary depending on a lot of factors, like the style of Yoga, the teacher and even the group level of the class. You don’t have to be necessarily young, healthy or already flexible to start practicing. It’s a fact that the body will become more flexible practising Asanas but this is not a necessity.

The purpose is not to become flexible or to stretch as far as the person next to you. It’s the process getting there and Yoga is an individual process for each one; All you have to do, regarding the Asanas, is to stretch your body up to the extend you are not harming it. Your body knows better than your mind and it will warn you if you push too much. It’s a fact; some classes are more physically demanding and others are designed for specific needs containing more restorative poses, or specifically custom lessons for pregnancy or people with specific injuries or illnesses.

Having said that and although everybody is eligible for practicing the Asanas, bear in mind that Asanas are classified into 2 groups each one having different difficulty levels. And although flexibility and age will ease the practice of more complicated Asanas, don’t forget that Asanas are merely one component of the Yogic methodology. The majority of the people believe that Yoga is the Asanas; they either don’t know the whole philosophy behind Yoga or they are just interested for the physical aspects. There is nothing wrong with that since everybody has free will, but the truth is that Life does not relate only to the body but concludes the mind and spirit as well. Yoga also acts as a stress reliever and as an anti-depressant. Bear in mind that a conscious breath is way different that an unconscious one; Practice Pranayama as a method for controlled breathing or practice meditation to understand how our thoughts influence and control our happiness creating thus a more deeper relationship with yourself and yoga.

Maharishi Patanjali within the Yoga Sutras described 8 limbs where all of them operate together for a complete practice incorporating philosophy into one’s daily life. The word Sutra translates to “strand or thread” and refers to a series of teaching that are threaded together like pearls on a necklace. Patanjali compiled the Sutras after taking into consideration yoga’s older tradition; a collection of 196 short verses and aging approximately 2,000 years old, but its wisdom is timeless. The first word of the first verse is “Atha” which translates into “Now” meaning that, all that matters is that we begin here and now to live and practice with greater self-awareness and presence.
All you have to do is to remain present without inner and outer distractions and pay attention to the moment. To be “in the moment” is that moment where your total awareness is present and you are merely observing without judging.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras consists of eight limbs; these steps act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. The first four limbs relate on refining our possibilities, gaining mastery over the body and developing an overall awareness of our true self. The remaining four limbs deal with the senses, the mind and attaining a higher state of consciousness. It’s an ongoing process where each step prepares you for the next; a personal system of monitoring and controlling the mind body and spirit. One shouldn’t look at the 8 limbs as a requirement but merely as a guide for a lighter, happier, healthier and more peaceful Life. After all, each one’s process is a personal process.

The 8 limbs of Yoga are:

  1. Yama

Describes the ethical relationships we should have with our environment and that the relationships we build and share with every body else should have the following characteristics: non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess and non-possessiveness.

  1. Niyama

Describes the ethical relationship we should have with our self in terms of self-discipline and spiritual observances. The niyamas are more intimate and personal and have the following characteristics: cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self-reflection and high power.

  1. Asanas

Asana is the practice of physical postures with a combination of breathing techniques. The grounding that asanas provide together with the controlling of the breath can enable you into remaining focus to the present moment. This combination will calm the mind preparing you for the next limbs.

  1. Pranayama

This stage concerns breathing techniques designed to gain awareness over our breath, which connects the body, mind and spirit. It concerns the control and direction of the breath within the organism with the purposes of healing where conscious attention can be directed to diseased parts of the body. Slow, deep and abdominal breathing can lead to meditative states of consciousness; Pranayama is itself a form of meditation.

  1. Pratyahara

Relates to the withdrawal of the senses; once the mind is focused then senses will follow. During this stage we consciously draw our awareness away from the external world or outside stimuli and thus directing all our attention internally. It’s a great opportunity to observe our self with no judgement.

  1. Dharana

Having drawn our attention to ourselves now we can deal with the mind. If we have developed successfully our concentration through the last three stages, now we can slow down the thinking process by concentrating on a single mental object; Could be that of chanting a mantra, gazing at an image or whatever each one is more comfortable with. An extended period of concentration purifies the mind, which can also lead to meditation.

  1. Dhyana

Meditation is the next frontier since concentration is achieved. Although these two can be seem similar, they are not. Dharana practices one-pointed attention and Dhyana is ultimately a state of being without focus because the mind has already been quieted so the “stillness” produces few or no thoughts at all.

  1. Samadhi

Samadhi means, “to merge” and concerns the final stage where the mediator comes to a profound connection with the Divine leading to a state of peace. It’s a state where the body and senses are at rest yet the mind is alert; it’s a union of One’s true self with Life; when Atman connects with Brahman.

Integrating all limbs into a Yoga class can be quite challenging considering the time limitation for each class; how much time are you going to spend on philosophy and how much time on pranayama, meditation and asana? A good idea would be that, for each class a reference point can be given to each limb as lessons progresses over time. By this way classes can become more interesting and practitioners can digest small bits of wisdom more easily.

A teacher should offer to his students the wisdom of the sutras and encourage them to practice the application of these limbs and notice any changes they may bring into their life experiences. His role is merely to open their minds to personal contemplation and not to tell them what to think. A Yoga teacher is a guide, who teaches you to eventually become your own teacher. So, students from their perspective should not just attain classes every now and then but should be taking home and applying what they have learnt in class. Because in the same breath, the students are merely a reflection of the teacher; if the players of a team are negligible then how does this reflects to the coach of the team?

A home practice can only take up to15 minutes and its up to you to decide the time and place. Having no time is just an excuse, so try the following: Put your phone on airplane mode, and set a timer for 15 minutes. Roll out your mat, lie down and spread hands and foot wide to the edges of the mat and close your eyes. Now, think about the idea of “now” and ask yourself the following: What do I need right now? What does my body want right now? Listen in stillness and silence for the answer to arise. By the end of the timer who knows, you may find the answers we were looking for. The worst-case scenario is that where nothing happens – you just relaxed for 15 minutes. How does it feel? When was the last time you relaxed intentionally and spend some quality time with your real you?

Work Cited

http://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2015/10000/The_truth,_the_whole_truth,_and_nothing_but_the.1.aspx

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/the-eight-limbs/

http://www.expressionsofspirit.com/yoga/eight-limbs.htm

 

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YOGA – Ethics

Please submit an essay about the practical use of Yoga ethics in the student/ teacher relationship, and how teachers can maintain healthy and ethical relationships with their students.

Relationships are vital to our survival. If you go back and check, you will see clearly that ever since we came to this world we have had relationships; it started from home as a “parent-child” relationship, then maybe as a “brother-sister” relationship, then as a friendly relationship in school, a “teacher-student” relationship in high school, a sexual relationship as young adults, leading to a professional relationships in a work environment. And they are challenging! Every relationship is like a chess game where each party has the responsibility for his own moves and if you are really into self-awareness and honesty you can find out a lot; not just about others or the relationship as such, but you can find out who you really are and hence what are you honestly giving and taking into every relationship; what your expectations or fears are.

Relationships are Life; the more time you invest in, the more you get back in return. And the more you change, the relationships change too. So our perceptions are always changing also, as we meet new people, tendencies, methodologies and technologies. Don’t forget that everybody sees Life differently; some prefer safe and controlling moves and others prefer more romantic and spontaneous choices. There is not a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choice; at least it depends on the given scenario. For instance, it wouldn’t be appropriate if your dentist was checking at your thigh but if you were in a yoga class and the teacher was checking out your alignment then this scenario seems more logical.

So relationships are sensitive and in order for them to be and remain healthy, all parties should be aware of their own responsibilities, expectations, goals, fears, do’s and don’ts. Time and experience has proven that setting boundaries is an important part of any relationship in order to maintain integrity on both ends. Clear boundaries also help people feel safe and contained. A healthy relationship is one where all parts know their responsibilities and limits. I m not trying to shut the romance out, believe me, I am just saying that it is at least fair to have some guidelines in place, especially regarding the professional relationships because after all, they are the ones that keeps us alive and functioning.

Irrespective of the class type, size and purpose, the teacher is the authoritative figure, the one to be making the opening moves, organizing the game plan and setting out the rules and regulations and keeping an eye on the clock. Of course, both parties have responsibilities at their own ends but it’s the teacher who has the advantage over the vulnerable and unaware student. Therefore, since the teacher is more experienced and aware, it’s his responsibility to maintain a safe, clean and comfortable environment where every seed independently can expand within the freedom of his own choice.

Take a moment here and consider how important the role of the teacher is for our society as a whole; could be as significant to that of a parent since the child’s personality is primarily shaped through home and school. So it’s important for all parents and teachers to remember that their words and actions have a strong influence especially onto children and students. Now I think of it, through out my school years I did not to pay particular attention on subjects where I could not find motivation or encouragement in the teacher’s personality or in cases where I did not manage to establish a firm and good relationship with the teacher and thus I wasn’t concentrated during class.

What’s certain is that the profession of the teacher is not valued enough nowadays; not from the perspective of earnings but from the perspective of values as morals, and thus who should be eligible into becoming a teacher. It’s not something you learn over a small period of studies but is actually your lifetime experiences and what you make out of them; how you use the knowledge and how you spread the message. Don’t forget, we all part of a larger organism and that we are dependent on our relationships and community in order to survive. We need everybody around us to be happy and safe since it’s the relationships that shape our environment that influences our every day life.

The first two limbs of Patanjali’s eightfold path are called yamas and niyamas and together they form Yoga’s fundamental ethical guidelines. One way to look at them is from the perspective that, yamas are restraints; things not to do while niyamas are observances; things to do.

Yamas consists of five characteristics, which are: Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, Non- excess and Non-possessiveness. Niyamas’ five characteristics include Cleanliness, Contentment, Discipline, Self-reflection and High power. All attempts into translating any language into another can be sometimes misleading but then again as human beings we are able of logical thinking. At the end of the day you don’t need someone else to tell you what’s ethical or not, what is true and what is false; it just requires honesty at a personal level.

From another perspective, Yamas can be looked from the context of universal morality and niyamas from the context of personal observances; they are merely suggestions on how we should build and maintain (i) our relationship with our self and how this relationship is reflected to (ii) our relationship with everybody else and our environment.

By following theses practices we can expand our awareness in terms of how we manifest our relationship with our self, how this relationship is extended to our relationship with everybody else and how the sum of these relationships interrelate to the Matrix as global consciousness creating the physical reality we currently live. It’s a process of continually giving and taking, living and redefining.

And it makes sense if you think of it – If you cannot support yourself how can you support others? If you haven’t grounded yourself with strong and solid foundation with everyday practice, consistency and commitment, then it’s inevitable that when the first couple of winds, insecurities and fears come to the surface, you will start shaking and things won’t look to good. To gain knowledge and thus Godhood you must first free yourself from personal attachments and beliefs, mind constructs and habits. Only then you will realize your true self and only then will Atman meet Brahman.

Aristotle thought that everybody wanted to be happy. If you think of it; and who wouldn’t want to be happy after all? So where is the problem and why aren’t everybody happy? The problem is that you cannot define happiness as a mind projection into the physical world. Sure, happiness is not just one thing and definitely is not something separated than you. Happiness comes from within you – as long as you are waiting something else from somebody else, then happiness may not come to you. If everybody else is expecting somebody else to change, then real change wont come, right?

If you want to change then you must first change yourself since you cannot expect from everybody else to do something that you are not really doing. And only if you change and become a better person, then maybe others will follow; Not as followers but as equals, meaning that they are applying the same principles as you are. Someone who is consistent within his foundation has already gained some valuable virtues and experiences, which allow him into establishing and maintaining an ethical atmosphere not only in the practice room but also in his life generally. By merely observing and not judging, one can understand how things work, why people are reacting the way they are and what is the true meaning of Equality and Oneness.

Consequently, these principles may manifest practically into the following:

Yoga teachers should be open to instructing all students irrespective race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and social or financial status. All teachers should respect the rights, dignity and privacy of all students and solve any conflicts having respect for all Life equally.

Yoga teachers are responsible to establish and maintain appropriate professional relationship boundaries where trust, confidentiality and respect are key ingredients. All students should be treated with the utmost respect. It’s not a secret that all teachers began as students, so teachers should always remember that students are vulnerable when practicing. Always ask for permission before entering a student’s practice area, touch students only for the purposes of asana education, healing massage, or comfort and avoid all forms of touch that would be emotionally or sexually invasive.

All forms of sexual behavior are unethical since any personal conflict of interest can impair the integrity of the teacher and hence the “teacher-student” relationship. Of course, having an interest towards your students is inevitable and this is something understandable and not necessarily wrong; actually this will dependent on how you deal with those feelings. Don’t try to ignore those feelings if they do appear because this will only make things worst. You are not guilty by merely noticing or appreciating someone else’s beauty and after all, this is the purpose of Yoga; the process of Self-observance and Self-exploration.

The practice area is not a place to find love or romance. If it happens, you will have to deal with it consciously. If things go big, maybe the most logical think to do, is to end the “teacher-student” relationship in order to start a more romantic relationship, if this is something you both want. And always remember that the practice time is something very intimate and personal to each one and no one should take any advantage for his own personal purposes. A problem arises when you separate a person from the group and treat that person more favorably. If this is the case then you are the cause that separates students to “lucky” and “unlucky” ones; you are the cause for the Inequality that exists both to the practice room and Life as a whole, as life is manifested from our relationships as a whole. Stick to Equality and ground any fantasies that emerge giving equal attention to all students fairly and evenly.

Teach with kindness and gentleness. Yoga teachers will never force their own opinions on students but appreciate the fact that every individual is entitled to his or her worldview, ideas, and beliefs and should never try to exploit the trust and dependency of the students. Yoga teachers ought to be careful to represent facts truthfully to students and should make only realistic statements regarding the benefits of yoga. Therefore advices should only be provided for those problems or issues that are within the reasonable boundaries of the teacher’s competence. Therefore teachers must be willing to accept students with physical disabilities, provided they have the skills to teach those students properly.

Having said that, it is clear that there is not a simple answer to each situation because there is never a simple scenario; each situation is like an equation with different variables all changing simultaneously. Always remember; A Yoga teacher is a guide, who teaches a student into eventually becoming his own teacher. And from the student’s perspective, this does not mean to visit a teacher every so often, but it does mean to practice what is learned in each lesson by bringing it home. Don’t forget that the students are a reflection of the teacher; if students are negligible then this instantly gives an idea for their teacher. The best thing to do, if in doubt, is to think in terms of Equality and Oneness – do what is best for all.

Works Cited

https://www.aurawellnesscenter.com/2013/10/02/yoga-teacher-ethics-and-guidelines/

https://www.aurawellnesscenter.com/2012/07/11/ethics-teaching-yoga/

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/04/the-ethics-responsibilities-of-teaching-yoga-adri-kyser/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236170454_Yoga_and_Ethics_The_Importance_of_Practice

http://www.anusarayoga.com/ethics-2/

 

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YOGA – Anatomy, Physiology and Kinesiology

Please submit an essay about the practical use of Yoga Anatomy, Physiology and Kinesiology in classes. Explain the reasons range of motion limitations for and unique skeletal differences among students.

Anatomy derives from the Greek word “ανατομή” which translates freely to “by section” and hence the purpose of anatomy is the study of the structure of different sections of the body including the system, organs and tissues. In traditional anatomy all movements are described in terms of three cardinal planes as viewing the body in the anatomical position, which is standing fully upright with the arms by the sides and the palms facing forward.

  1. Sagittal Plane, which divides the body into Right & Left side. Any movement that decreases the angle of the joint is called Flexion and any movement that increases the angle is called Extension.
  2. Coronal Plane, which divides the body into Front & Back side. Moving a muscle away from the body is called Abduction and moving a muscle towards the body is called Adduction.
  3. Transverse Plane, which divides the body into Upper & Lower side. All movements include twisting motion and can divide into external and internal rotation.

Consequently, when standing fully upright, your hips and your knees are in extension. If you bring the knee to chest, the knee is flexed since the angle of the joint is decreased. But if you lift that leg straight up in front of you, as like you will kick a ball, the knee is extended and the hip is flexed. Considering the bridge pose for beginners; the neck is flexed while the spine is extended. Although some movements are straightforward, some others should be examined more carefully. The shoulder’s movement for instance, is a bit trickier; the shoulder is flexing when the arm is forward and up overhead in poses like Downward-Facing Dog and Tree Pose and is extending when the arm is forward and down from overhead, even when arm is stretched straight back behind in poses like the Camel Pose.

Anatomy becomes really interesting when combined with Kinesiology because at the end of the day just by knowing the muscle’s name won’t provide much. For example, in order to help someone with a knee injury you don’t just have to know the name of the muscle but the muscle’s actual movement. If you think of anatomy as like the different parts that integrate an automobile then kinesiology would be how those parts form together the vehicle’s movement.” The word “kinesiology” derives from the Greek word “κίνηση» which is translated as “movement”. So kinesiology is the study of the movement because it explores the various relationships between muscles, tissues and energy flow mechanisms.

Understanding the different ways that muscles contract, will not only change your perspective of Life but your Asana practice as well. Realizing how a joint moves in each pose will enable you into giving more clearer and simpler instructions and cues. You will be able to tell your students correctly which parts of their bodies should be actively contracting and which should be relaxing. This way you ensure that muscles work through their full range of motion helping you to develop balanced strength while ensuring safety. There are three perspectives regarding muscle contraction:

  1. Isometric; the muscle is contracted without changing its size, neither shortening nor lengthening. Such conditions are met when we are holding into a pose. It’s the least stressful contraction and is suitable for people coming out from an injury.
  2. Concentric; the muscle shortens upon contraction and it’s the second least stressful contraction.
  3. Eccentric – the muscle lengthens upon contraction, being the most stressful contraction between the three.

Muscles exist in sequences and the trick is to trigger these links; by supporting those individual muscles you are really supporting yourself. By keeping the pace slow within controlled breaths you remain present in the moment and thus keeping those muscles working together. The more awareness is given into the moment the more muscles are doing their job correctly. Take your time and try closing your eyes; this will enable you to pay attention to what’s happening within you. Listen to your body and how your muscles are coping during the postures. An interesting way of understanding better the muscles and their movement is to create sequences around different movements, muscles and joints. So each class can refer to specific joints and muscles, covering all types of contractions and learning what movement supports and harms them.

Remember that the movement coming in and out from a pose is more important than the pose itself. Everybody is different meaning that not every body can do every pose in Yoga. But this does not mean necessarily that every pose in yoga is dangerous for everybody. Danger exists only when a belief, as a mind projection tries to manipulate the physical reality and thus the body; we cannot expect anybody to perform Asanas in the same way since everybody comes from a different background, environment and gene characteristics.

There isn’t such a thing as perfect alignment; one side of our body is slightly bigger than the other and don’t forget there is one dominant hand and leg. As a result you can write better with the dominant hand, see better with the dominant eye and balance better with the dominant leg. Don’t get surprised, if you ask 4 yoga teachers about their techniques and methods and get different replies. Yes injuries can occur in Yoga classes not because of improper alignment but because people push themselves too hard to achieve a pose that their body is not yet comfortable in. Best thing you can do for each pose is to create your own expression where your whole being manifests as breath, mind and body and where all are comfortable and feel safe.

What you can gain naturally out of Yoga is flexibility, which is something that can be achieved through practice but this doesn’t mean that everybody in the class will develop the same flexibility. But then again you shouldn’t really care about how flexible the guy next to your mat is. You can only become more flexible from the person you were before, therefore stop looking externally for perfect alignments and start finding your inner peace.

In addition, DNA controls and shapes our skeleton determining our general bodily characteristics. We all have the same organism, joints, muscles and tissues but not every body has the same capabilities since everybody’s bone structure is different. For example, each one’s pelvis structure may differ meaning that not all of us would be able to perform internal and external hip rotations in the same manner. We are all unique and as such, something that is good for us can be very dangerous for someone else. There are certain postures in Yoga, which people with certain medical issues should avoid them but the same postures can also be very helpful for others. Trust no one and check it out your self. If a posture is not working for you, your body will definitely complain. And always remember that you have the sole responsibility for what takes place on your yoga mat.

Our environment also determine how far our muscles should move; if you think in terms of professions, gymnasts obviously will be able to extend their muscles more than accountants since their daily life sequence is different and hence their body movements. Most joints in the human body have an optimum amount of motion, but specific joints, such as shoulder joints don’t move the same way due to unique structure. A basic principle regarding joint movements is that, the more flexibility a joint has then the less stable is and vice versa. A limited range of motion exists when a joint cannot move as far as it should be able to move. When a joint moves more than the prescribed degree of normal movement, that joint is called “hyper mobile» and when the joint moves less than the prescribed degree of normal movement, that joint is called “hypo mobile.”

Whatever the case is, Yoga can be used as a therapeutic tool bringing stability, strength and control. Some people carry the misconception that Yoga are merely the Asanas; even though the physical aspect of Yoga cannot be compared to other sports since the variety of the postures ensures that all joints are emphasized to all possible and acceptable directions. And this is what makes practice interesting and alive; you don’t have to practice the same sequence day after day. Bear in mind that a repetitive practice can lead to overuse injuries.

At the end of the day, there is no instrument that measures stiffness. Only each one can tell if he is stiff and stiffness can be due to both physical and emotional reasons. If your range of motion is limited by natural genetic selection then the muscles won’t really feel tight unless you are pushing them too hard to stretch. It’s all between you and the yoga mat to decide. Enjoy safe practice!

Possible conditions that causes limited range of motion:

Dislocations;
Since a bone is no longer where it should have been means that it cannot function any more its normal movement.

Joint swelling;
Swelling occurs when fluid accumulates in the tissues with arthritis being the most frequent cause for swelling.

Rotator cuff injury;
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that help stabilize and move the shoulder. The most common injuries are strains, tendinitis and bursitis.

Axillary Nerve Dystunction (AND);
Excessive stress or damage to the nerve can lead to a loss of movement or sensation in the shoulder area.

Osteoporosis;
Osteoporosis is a bone disease where the bone loses strength and density where over time the bone grows thinner and weaker.

Overusing a muscle can also cause pain and thus limited range of motion. Instances like this appear among athletes; the tennis elbow can be triggered by any activity that involves repetitive twisting of the wrist.

Works Cited

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/teach/basic-anatomy-for-teachers/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10860/7-things-every-yoga-teacher-should-know-about-anatomy.html

https://www.yogauonline.com/yogau-wellness-blog/honoring-gravity-judith-hanson-lasater-introduces-kinesiology-for-yoga-teachers

Isometric vs. Concentric vs. Eccentric, what’s the deal?

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/09/every-body-is-different-bernie-clark/

http://www.paulgrilley.com/bone-photo-gallery

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/anatomy-yoga-practice/understanding-muscle-tissue/

https://www.lifetimefitness.com/en/content/details/articles/the-5-myths-of-alignment-in-yoga.html

http://www.healthline.com/symptom/limited-range-of-motion

 

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YOGA – Health

Please submit an essay about Yoga, and its relation to health, as an overview, or Yoga and its relationship to any specific health subject. For example: It could be about Yoga for elders, Yoga for children, Yoga for depression, etc.

The human system and human’s overall health should be looked from a holistic perspective and not in isolation as seen through traditional medicine. What exists out there is a mere reflection of what exists within us, concluding to the fact that we are all part of a greater and bigger organism. The emergence of cancer cells in a cellular level can be mirrored to the emergence of theft or vandalism at a social level. This is merely a direct consequence of our overall mindset and behavior from a cellular and collective perspective. Aware or not, the end result remains the same and in order to change the reaction we must change the action itself since we cannot expect different results if we remain to the original action.

Exercise, food habits, occupation, stress levels, overall awareness, body posture; all are interconnected and all play a significant role on the outcome. Each individual though is unique; something that has a good result on someone does not necessarily have to have the same impact on someone else. Each one walks his own personal process and through Yoga everybody can raise their awareness controlling their breath, body and mind. Each one is responsible for his own well-being and Yoga merely provides everybody the tools to do that.

My college studies led me into being a full time accountant which mend sitting in front of a computer, analysing data and going through files for a significant part of the day. The inconvenient chairs together with my wrongly and unaware body posture were causing me back pains. I remember that on stressful days I had to get home right after work just to lie down in order to relax and feel better. By time, I realized that the back pain was triggered even in general anxiety situations, so it wasn’t just a physical discomfort of the muscles; It also related to psychological issues since it occurred at situations where I was not in the office. By time the back pain became a habit and in order to live with it I tailored some custom postures to get relief when needed.

Later on as time progressed, I heard for the first time the word “Yoga”. Shortly after, I attended several yoga classes and within the first month I had witnessed significant improvements; Not only physically through raising my body’s awareness but also physically achieving peace of mind. I am not saying that Yoga is the answer to all back pains but that through Yoga I had found my balance.
I am practicing Yoga ever since and after 5 years it is clear to me that Yoga saved my life. I remember back then, at the beginning, I was just happy that I was able to wake up from bed and move more easily. The morning practise always relaxes me and helps me start the day with no stiffness, with more energy and more confidence in my every step.

Yoga is a tool, which can be used both physically and psychically and everybody should learn and practice. The benefits are so many that definitely each one has something to gain depending from the perspective he/she approaches Yoga. Yoga is a process and within this process I learnt to remain present and therefore raise my awareness; Throughout Pranayama I am able to control my breath, throughout the Asanas I explore my physically body and with meditation I let go of the monkey business.

By brining my attention to the moment, I am able to concentrate on the present time away from past regrets or future uncertainties. It has an anti-depressant effect enabling One to be in line with his divine plan. It shifts your attention to the breath and thus achieves peace of mind, enabling One to explore the capabilities of the human body and mind. Yoga also helps towards any sleeping disorders; postures can stretch and relax the muscles, breathing exercises can lower the heart rate and meditation can relax the mind.

Another important topic I should mention, directly relating to the subject of ‘health’ is food. I remember back then, I was also unaware of the importance of food I was inserting in my system and neither had I realized the importance of preparing meals from home. If you think that the body is a vehicle then its functions will depend on the nutrients we are fuelling it up. And not just that; a balanced and calm mind is closely associated with the nourishing habits of the body.

I always thought that I never had the time to cook or prepare food from the previous night and as a result, everyday at lunchtime I was having junk food from a variety of fast food providers, which seemed normal at that time since everybody else was doing the exact same thing.
The problem appeared when I noticed that the systematic consumption of fast food and mostly food containing meat, led me wanting to rest right after consumption. In under no circumstance I could process mathematical equations or apply accounting principles on top of a pork chop. I was feeling heavy and sleepy; I just did not have the energy to function after having lunch.

At that point in time, I could not change my job so I had to change my dietary habits; I realized the importance of quality food and hence found the time to cook proper food for dinner and even prepare food for the next day at the office. I noticed that the ‘lighter’ food I was inserting in my system the lighter I was feeling after eating. I found out that, the most important factor regarding ‘food’ is not the ‘food’ directly but how that food makes me feel after consumption. And this is something that can be achieved using whole-wheat products, raw food and not processed, most ‘greens’ like fruits and vegetables and less ‘meats’ and meat related products.

After a lot of research, I came across with some common sense arguments and facts supporting that our whole body’s mechanism is vegetarian based:

  1. The length of our intestines is 7-10 times the length of our body, which is a characteristic, met among vegetarian animals; compared to meat eating animals, which have shorter size intestines to process quicker the flesh, the fatty acid and animal protein.
  2.  People and vegetarian animals sweat throughout their skin compared to meat-eating animals who pant for breath.
  3. Our teeth are short and obtuse shaped with the ability to grind the food. Meat-eating animals do not have to grind their food and in addition their tooth are way sharper from ours.

Those still in doubt can try the ultimate test:

Spot the target and catch it empty-handed with no tools or weapons. And upon capturing, kill it and eat it instantly without using cooking preps or any external means.

All this information lead me to believe that if people were meant to eat meat then it would have been profound that we would be able to eat raw meat from flesh to bones. I mean, why eat the cow and not the seeds, the plants and grass that the cow eats? Why use a «middle-cow» and don’t go directly to the source? But don’t take my word for it and try it out for yourself. Yoga is an individual process; It’s all about testing the variety of options and finding out what type of nutrients suits your overall lifestyle and meet your daily needs. At the end of the day we are what we eat and the output is always related to the input.

There are so many ways for everyone to benefit from Yoga; it doesn’t necessarily mean that Yoga is for people with injuries or with special dietary habits. Below are some wider effects of Yoga for health:

1. Improves flexibility
By time and practice, muscles will loosen and eventually poses, which seemed impossible before become possible. Your everyday step of the day will change as you raise awareness over your body within its possibilities and limitations. Regular yoga practice supports the ankles, knees, and shoulders through toning the whole body enabling the joints to be more flexible in need.

  1. Build strong muscles
    Postures tones and challenges the muscles to lift and move the weight of the body. Although there are other habits out there, which achieve strong muscles, Yoga is the only one, which maintain not only fitness but flexibility too. In addition a regular yoga practice every week is an effective tool for maintaining a healthy weight.
  2. Perfects body posture
    As adults we spend most of our time doing obligations like driving, sitting behind an office, cooking, shopping; in most situations weight lifting is also involved. Despite the muscles getting stronger, Asanas also help into maintaining a better balance of the body, through knowing the body’s functions.
  3. Increases confidence
    Approaching Yoga from a fitness perspective can have a lot of advantages, with the greatest being that since you are more aware in every step you are more confident in every step.
    In addition, regular practice with the intention of self-awareness and exploration can lead into discovering new facets of your personality and experience new behaviours of yourself that did not know before.
  4. Raises awareness
    As you become more aware of your body’s capabilities and limitations together with the understanding on how the mind functions, you will enter into a better relationship with yourself; who you are, what do you want and where you stand inside the environment you are functioning. By doing this, you will be in a better position to improve your relationship with the rest of your environment, family, friends and colleagues.
  5. Muscle/ Joint support
    Whatever profession each one is following at the end of the day the result in most cases would be against our body; it doesn’t really matter what you are doing, either by sitting or just by even standing most of the day can stress specific issues/ muscles/ joints. Supporting your muscles and joints will help them support you back thought out your every day.
  6. Controls blood pressure
    Yoga and meditation can slow the heart rate and thus help bringing blood pressure to safer and more controllable levels. Stretching enables more oxygen to flow into the cells and thus better blood circulation is achieved. However, persons with high blood pressure should avoid certain Asanas, so consultation is needed always to ensure safety.
  7. Acts as an anti-depressant
    Many studies and experiments supports this argument but let’s not stick to the technical information here and move to a real life example. Not all days are the same and not all days has the same tension; yes there are some days that are full with stress, either physical or psychical.
    Take out your mat, come to a pose where you feel comfortable, it can be one of the sitting poses or you can even lie down in a Corpse pose. Keep that pose for 10 minutes, inhaling and exhaling consciously and see how you feel afterwards. I am sure you will different; if not you just wasted 10 minutes of your time for your own self and how bad can this be after all?

Works Cited

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit/

http://www.chopra.com/articles/what-is-ayurveda

Confusion About Yoga for Back Pain

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/lifestyle/eat-like-a-yogi/

http://www.healingyoga.org/pdf/TheYogaofHealing.pdf

 

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YOGA: Safety

Please submit an essay about how, and why, your teaching method will be safe for every student who attends your classes. Establish ten safety guidelines to prevent injuries in your classes.

Yoga is a very powerful medicine with healing benefits on both the mind and body; it cleanses the mind from anxieties and depression as well as cleansing and restoring the whole body from past injuries. Although the evidence is eminent, we should not forget that Yoga is still a physical activity and as all physical activities there is always the possibility of an injury. Yes, injuries can and do occur while practicing Yoga. There are so many reasons that can lead to an injury; from muscles not properly warmed-up to common beginners’ mistakes. Therefore the safety factor should be of top priority in all classes and being as such there are a lot of measures that can be taken in order to minimise this possibility of injuries and to maintain the overall safety.

And as in all classes, the most authoritative figure is the teacher, which controls the environment, the time plan and the structure of the plan. He is responsible for organising and controlling the whole process from A to Z. He is in line with Creation and his manifestation will reflect back to him; the atmosphere, the students, the mentality and behaviours within the class; all will be become his mirroring so this emerging responsibility leading into power isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Therefore there are a lot of precautions to consider here from the perspective of the environment, the students, the teacher and the way all these factors interact with each other.

ENVIRONMENT

Our environment has a direct effect upon us. Imagine a scene where you wake up to see a sunny and warmth sunshine compared to cloudy and rainy scenery. We adopted our personality within an environment and we have even identified our self through the mirroring of that environment thought how other people sees us and what kind of relationships we have associated with them. Therefore creating a safe environment is essential.

The physical aspects of this matter should consist of a well-ventilated and secured practice room in order to minimize any chances leading to injuries. There are many factors to consider here like the arrangement and the hygiene of the space to the space’s structure to ensure that there are no objects in the way leading to any possible damages. It can even be a nice painting on the wall and relaxing music on the background. There are so many variables consisting and shaping our environment simultaneously.

It can be even seen from a psychical perspective, that a safe environment has the necessary tools a seed needs in order to grow, expand and shape its character within his free choice. Remember when we were children how important safety was and how that comfortableness shaped our overall attitude and opinion around a certain subject. So its important not having to think and live within judgement and fear. So a safe environment is also a place where a student is comfortable into expressing him self either through asking questions to trying out different techniques and postures.

NEW STUDENTS

New beginnings can be quite challenging for all parties involved and beginner classes is something to pay particular attention to since there are more things going on. It will take time and patience for each new student to get familiar with the postures and learn to control his breath, mind and body all at once. Over enthusiasm and personal expectations can be a potential to injury not just for the person himself but also for others around him as well.

Every new person comes with a unique body, character and history. Don’t take anything for granted or leave something to luck. Spend some time really knowing your new students. Use questionnaires if you have to and even keep a confidential database in order to remain update with your student’s wealth, pre-existing conditions or medical injuries. This is important since certain medical conditions should not be matched with certain postures or some modifications can be used instead.

There are certain conditions that may require additional attention and safety guidelines like:

Limited range of motion;

In such situations, students should use props; over time and practice, the student’s range of motion will increase.

High blood pressure, heart and circulation problems

Inversions poses or any other pose that require the head to be lower from the heart should be avoided. Poses that raise the heart rate should also be avoided.

Pregnancy

Twists, prone poses and inversions should be avoided. Yoga practice for pregnancy differs from every trimester; that’s why that person should practice a Pre-natal Yoga course.

Menstruation

Avoid postures that elevate your pelvis higher than your heard to avoid interfering with the blood’s natural flow and avoid postures that strongly stretch or compress your abdomen.

TEACHER

A safe environment includes a knowledgeable Yoga instructor who over time and observation will get to know each student’s abilities and limitations. A teacher who does not assumes that the students know the information but is always willing to help and support them if needed with correct cues and precautions, modifications and contraindications. A teacher who remembers that he was in fact too a beginner at some point and realises that each process is personal and requires time and patience. Teaching is all about the students and their safety and its not a time for fun or personal practice. Consider even obtaining a CPR certification; you never know if you will need to practice it but if you do it may be lifesaving.

Teaching experiences vary and techniques changes and evolves over time so it’s essential keeping updated with other fellow yoga teachers. Nobody knows everything so it’s important keeping in touch with more experienced teachers also. And remember Yoga is an individual process for everybody, either you are a student or a teacher.

Emphasize on the alignment. Demonstrate the asana, and then come out of the position to observe the students providing support and advice if needed. Keep class sizes small enough to feel comfortable watching everyone. Recognize the potential for injuries and keep in mind that certain postures are more vulnerable to injuries if not performed correctly. If a student is struggling in a pose then advice accordingly; Feel free to make an assist when possible but first ask for permission before entering a student’s space.

LESSON PLAN

First thing first; all classes should begin with warm ups since this will ensure that the body is ready for deeper stretching. Warm ups not only ensure that the body is ready for deeper practices but also set a more focused mindset to be in place. And the more focused a practitioner is, the less chances there are for an injury. The length of the warm ups will depend on the skill level of each class. Beginner classes, morning classes or classes with more elderly people will require longer warm up sessions.

Tailor the program and the pace within sequences according to the level of the class. The purpose upon completion of the class is to feel relaxed and revitalized and not to be taken up to the point of exhaustion. Its always better performing less postures more efficiently than doing more in a hasty manner.

A satisfactory Yoga program should include warm ups, all body stretches, forward and backward bends, spinal twists, leg limbering, poised sitting/ kneeling, abdominal squeezing, inverted postures and abdominal muscle controls concluding with relaxation. However bear in mind to match postures with postures of the reversed effect; for example after or before a cycle on back bends practice a cycle on forward bends.

Certain postures come with their own special characteristics and alignment so a Yoga teacher should be aware of these features and come up with clever ways or cues to ensure safety. For example in forward bending the spine should be kept long and aligned and bending should be initiated from the hip joints; you can advice students, especially if they are beginners, to firstly bring their torso parallel to the floor as a first phase and secondly roll down to full forward bending. This way they can enhance their awareness as to how each muscle is responsible for which movement.

SAFETY GUIDELINES

  1. To achieve maximum benefits in conjunction with minimizing the chance of an injury, each practitioner should listen carefully to his body. Connect with your breath, move slowly and never force your self in any position. Remaining aware in the moment will enable you to see any signals of non-comfort from your body. Each practitioner is responsible for his own well-being and he should never do any postures that make him feel uncomfortable.
  2. Freely come out of the pose when you need to. There is no point maintaining a shaky pose just because everybody else is doing it. Each pose should be performed without strain. If you experience any pain in the joints or numbness in hands or feet then you should immediately come out from the pose and rest.
  3. Challenging yourself is great but forcing yourself is an entirely different thing. You should go only as far as you can without straining or overstretching and you should never force your body into any position.
  4. You should never compete or try to impress anybody; a competitive attitude can cause risky stretches or twists that can lead to injuries.
  5. Wear comfortable clothing in order to be able to move freely with no constrictions.
  6. Its best to practice on an empty stomach; try not to eat 2-3 hours prior to practice and avoid drinking coffee before practice since it may interfere with the meditation.
  7. To the best of your ability, breathe diaphragmatically, while holding an asana, unless the asana requires a different specific type of breathing.
  8. In all poses, avoid over-arching the lower back by tucking the tailbone, when necessary to lengthen the spine.
  9. Remember that your neck is part of your spine so keep it in line with the rest of the spine to avoid pressure on the discs.
  10. Poses like the Headstand, Shoulderstand and Plough require having a strong and flexible neck and back. Such poses should be avoided if the practitioner has any neck, shoulder or back problems or previous injuries in these areas.

CONCLUSION

Yoga is a continual challenging process for everybody, either you are a student or a teacher and all parties involved should have the responsibility for themselves. The instructor is there to demonstrate a pose but the pose as such should not be the end goal. Every body is different and each process is something personally; it’s more important coming from and out of a pose than the actual pose itself. A belief on how things should be can be the most severe thread towards safety. Enjoy safe practising!

Works Cited

https://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/2011/08/17/teaching-yoga-general-student-safety-precautions/

https://www.aurawellnesscenter.com/2012/04/18/teaching-yoga-student-safety-is-top-priority/

http://www.dummies.com/health/exercise/yoga/10-tips-for-a-safe-yoga-practice/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?pagewanted=all

 

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100. Η Οδύσσεια

οδυσσέας ιθάκηΤΟ ΒΑΘΥΤΕΡΟ ΜΗΝΥΜΑ ΤΗΣ ΟΔΥΣΣΕΙΑΣ ΣΤΟ ΠΩΣ ΝΑ ΠΟΛΕΜΗΣΟΥΜΕ ΚΑΙ ΝΑ ΤΙΝΑΞΟΥΜΕ ΤΟΝ ΖΥΓΟ ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΚΑΘΕΣΤΩΣ ΤΟΥ ΣΗΜΕΡΑ!

Είναι πολύ σημαντικό,αυτές τις κρίσιμες ώρες, να ρίξουμε μια ματιά στην Βίβλο των Ελλήνων, δηλαδή στα ΟΜΗΡΙΚΑ ΕΠΗ και να διδαχτούμε, έστω και την τελευταία στιγμή, απο το πνεύμα του Οδυσσέα.
ΔΗΛΑΔΗ: Να κρατήσουμε την ψυχραιμία μας, να ελέγξουμε την παρόρμηση να έχουμε τις αισθήσεις μας και τις αντένες μας ΑΝΟΙΧΤΕΣ και να μην παρασυρθούμε απο την οργή και το μένος που μας διακατέχει, ώστε να γίνουμε βορρά, στους σύγχρονους «μνηστήρες».
Οταν ο Οδυσσέας φτάνει στην Ιθάκη, η μεγίστη επιθυμία του είναι ΝΑ ΠΑΡΕΙ ΠΙΣΩ ΤΟΝ ΚΟΣΜΟ ΤΟΥ, τον κόσμο που του έκλεψαν. Συνέχεια

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99. Η απάτη της προσσελήνωσης

Τα καλά νέα είναι ότι δεν μπορούν πλέον να μας κοροΐδεύουν… τα κακά είναι ότι χάθηκαν πολλά λεφτά/ πόροι/ χρόνος για μια πλεκτάνη που δεν μας εξυπηρετεί ενώ μπορούσαν να χρησιμοποιηθούν για κάτι άλλο…

Κάποια στοιχεία που μου έκαναν εντύπωση: Συνέχεια

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98. Εγώ παραιτούμε!!

ευτυχίαΠαράλληλα με την πρωινή δουλειά κατά διαστήματα ενασχολούμουν με βραδινές δουλειές/ δραστηριότητες. Ένας διαφορετικός κόσμος από τον πρωινό που μου πρόσφερε κάτι που δεν μπορούσαν να μου προσφέρουν τα χρήματα του πρωινού.

Θυμάμαι χαρακτηριστικά το καλοκαίρι του ’08 όπου συζητούσα με τα παιδιά τα χειμερινά τους σχέδια. Συνέχεια

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97. Εγώ είμαι λογιστής

suitttttttttttttΤέλειωσα το κολέγιο, πέρασα τα μαθήματα, έπιασα το χαρτί – είμαι #τελειωμένος λογιστής και όσον αφορά την κοινωνία είμαι Επιτυχημένος με Αναγνώριση. Έχω ένα ‘καλό’ χαρτί στα χέρια μου και ένα ‘σίγουρο’ μέλλον. Είμαι #καλός στη δουλειά μου, έχω ευθύνες και μια μικρή θέση στη πυραμίδα – με ένα σεβαστό ποσό στο τέλος κάθε μηνός.

Διδάχθηκα τόσα μαθήματα, απόχτησα τόσες γνώσεις/ θεωρίες… όταν δεν θυμάμαι τι έφαγα προχτές Συνέχεια

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96. Το Κουστούμιν

the suitΣτο άκουσμα της λέξης ‘Λογιστής’ στο μυαλό έρχεται αυτή η εικόνα/ στολή. Το Κουστούμι έχει ψυχολογικό παρά πρακτικό σκοπό – να φαντάζει*  Επιτυχία/ Επαγγελματικότητα/ Αναγνώριση και να εμπνέει Εμπιστοσύνη/ Σεβασμό.

* Χρησιμοποιώ τη λέξη ‘φαντάζει΄ επειδή η πραγματικότητα διαφέρει – τα κουστούμια με τους παχουλούς μισθούς και τα μεγάλα αυτοκίνητα μας οδήγησαν συνειδητά στις συνέπειες του σήμερα όπου δεν υπάρχει πλέον Εμπιστοσύνη/ Σεβασμός/ Επαγγελματικότητα.

Συνέχεια

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