Yoga & Meditation

Rest and Restore Yoga for The Holdiay Season

IMG_8487.JPG

The holiday season is the time for family, friends, and festivities. With so many activities planned, it can be challenging to maintain a peace of mind and sense of care that keeps us grounded and feeling restored. Proper rest, eating healthy and this rest and restore yoga exercise are three things you should be incorporating into your daily life this season. Just take 15 minutes each night as you are winding down for bed, by practicing these simple poses you will be able to  maintain the vigor needed to get through the holidays!

These poses are designed to relax the nervous system and mind, there are a lot of props involved as they will allow you to sink deeply and deliciously into yourself. In each pose, you can also cover yourself with a blanket for greater comfort. Spend at least three to five minutes in each
pose. As you become more comfortable with them, you can stay longer.

Salamba Viparita Karani - Supported Legs-Up-the-Wall Poses.

Start by setting your mat vertically against a wall and placing a bolster across it horizontally. Fold a blanket to the size of a bed pillow; then fold it again two-thirds of the way down, so you have a thinner edge (for your neck) and a thicker edge (for your head). Sit on the bolster with your left hip against the wall. Tip back as you turn your legs up the wall, and lower yourself so that your middle and upper back is on the mat, and your head and neck are on the blanket, forehead slightly higher than your chin. Bend your knees and put your feet through a loop in the strap, tightening it gently around your shins, and reset your legs up the wall. Place another blanket across your torso and a sandbag on your pelvis. Put the eye pillow over your eyes and rest your hands by your sides.

Supported Side bend

Sitting with your right hip against the bolster, lean to the right, placing your right hand on the far side of the mat as you lower down. Stretch your right arm straight along the ground and rest your head on your biceps. Then stretch your left arm overhead and place your palms together. With each exhalation, relax your entire body, paying particular attention to your neck. When you're ready to switch sides, you will slowly turn your body face-down, and then gently press your hands into the ground to get up. Repeat on the other side. After this position gently transition into child's pose and take a few deep breaths.


Salamba Mandukasana (Supported Frog Pose)

From child's pose slowly come up on all fours, with knees wide and big toes touching. Place a bolster lengthwise between your knees and sit back on your heels. Walk your hands forward along the mat until your upper body comes down onto the bolster. Turn your head to one side and deeply relax. On each inhalation, follow the breath into your belly and low back. On each exhalation, release your knees, hips, shoulders, and neck. (Turn your head to the other side when you're halfway done with the exhalation.)

Salamba Bharadvajasana (Supported Bharadvaja's Twist)

Now put a folded blanket at the bottom end of the bolster and sit with your left hip against the edge of the blanket. Turn from your belly toward the bolster, placing your hands on either side and lean down slowly until your forehead touches. Turn your head to the right, tucking your chin slightly. Keep the back of the neck long and the front of the throat soft. Finally, place the eye pillow across the nape of your neck and rest your hands and forearms on the floor. Allow your breath to slow down and deepen; observe how your inhalations root your pelvis and gently enhance the turning sensation in the belly and shoulders. When you're ready, change sides.

Salamba Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Angle Pose)

Prepare a pillow as you did for the first pose and place it on the top end of the bolster. Sit with your back to the bolster; bring the soles of your feet together; and let your knees drop open, positioning a rolled blanket under each one. Lay a sandbag across your feet, and, using your hands behind you on the mat, slowly lower down onto the bolster. Adjust the head blanket, so your forehead is higher than your chin, place an eye pillow over your eyes, and rest your hands on the ground. Allow your breath to slow down and deepen. With each exhalation, allow your abdomen to soften as much as possible.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

 

 

Sadhana and the power of Aum "om"

Sadhana and the power of Aum "om"

In vedic philosophy there is a concept known as Sadhana. Sadhana is a Sanskrit word whose root, sadh, means to reclaim that which is divine in us, our power to heal, serve, rejoice, and uplift the spirit. Sadhana practices encompass all our daily activities, from the simple to the sublime. The goal of sadhana is to enable you to recover your natural rhythms and realign your inner life and daily habits with the cycles of the universe. When you begin to live and move with the rhythms of nature, your mind becomes more fluid and more peaceful and your health can improve. Your entire life can become easier.  

So as you begin your journey with yoga and Ayurveda along the path of practice, you firstmust make the promise to your practice that you are willing to take a very clear look at yourself. Allow yourself to recognize the various disguises and false faces that you have assumed over the years. As you come to acknowledge and know each one, you will also come to see beyond them to your truest self. As you find out more about yourself and your strengths and weakness, you will also learn about your body, mind, and spirit and their innate power. You will awaken to your own self-healing abilities. In Ayurveda, there is a belief that disease happens from within, and so must any cure. In this we can decide that any lack of peace or disease or illness becomes an occasion to go deeper into ourselves, to examine where we must make changes in order to heal our bodies, feeling or lives.

Each of us has a unique purpose on this earth for which we have been born. The vedas call this our dharma and by following the path of sadhana, you will be in harmony with this purpose. Harmony already exists at the core of every human life. Once we become conscious, we are able to recognize it. We become aware of the blessedness that surrounds us, the serenity in our living space after a long days work, the beauty of dusk glimpsed through the windows and the sweetness of sparrows singing their songs, and the warmth of the colors of the autumn leaves.

When we are aware of our inner harmony, our power of intuition becomes active. We become more expressive, more fully alive, and more in tune with our bodies and all our healing energies. This intuition, together with our rational mind, will help us heal and get our lives more in balanced.

Aum represents pure consciousness, through the practice of vedic chants known as mantras, each one beginning and ending with Aum, we harness the inner power of our intuition. Similarly the Biblical word 'AMEN' and Koranic word 'Amin' mirror the Aum sound. Thus the sound Aum is not a religious or ritual word. It's the highest vibrational sound of the Universe, for the Universe and from the Universe. The vedic seers tell us that the universe’s most sacred sound, Aum resonates within in the space of the sixth chakra, located mid-brow, between the eyes, in the area known as the “third eye." In modern science this is known as the connection to the pineal gland, that which regulates the hormone and glands in the body.

These words of Aum, and Amen should always be used very reverently as though one were handling or touching one of the most sacred symbols of Divinity. They are not magic words nor are they curative or therapeutic words to be used in pain and suffering; but purely Divine words to bring about atunement, and at-onement with God in the highest spiritual sense.

Chanting Aum is used as a practice to encourage Sadhana. The purpose is well stated in the Upanishads: “What world does he who meditates on Aum until the end of his life, win by That? If he meditates on the Supreme Being with the syllable Aum, he becomes one with the Light, he is led to the world of Brahman [the Absolute Being] Who is higher than the highest life, That Which is tranquil, unaging, immortal, fearless, and supreme.” – Prashna Upanishad 5:1,5,7

In the yoga tradition, Aum is the most sacred of holy words, the supreme mantra. Aum is also called the Pranava, a Sanskrit word which means both controller of life force (prana) and life-giver (infuser of prana). Each of us has the capacity to enter the vast universe within ourselves and become conscious of the Divine spirit that is beyond the material reality we understand through the five senses. The chanting of Aum daily in your mundane practices such as cooking, cleaning, taking a shower etc will help you learn to shift your perspective and enter a meditative state of mind many times though out your day. In this you will come to see all obstacles and challenges in your everyday life as opportunities to learn more about yourself and your individual inner strengths. This simple practice of Sadhana can have profound impact on yourinner harmony and path to health and happiness.

 

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

 

Bhastrika Pranayama

4Q3A2796.jpg

Bhastrika means bellows breath or the breath of fire. For this changing season, practice Bhastrika every day to help minimize spring’s kapha-aggravating potential while supporting the elimination of any accumulated excess during the winter. It is a great pranayama practice for kapha and vata; but in excess, it can aggravate pitta, so it should only be done in moderation for pitta conditions.

Practicing bhastrika cleanses mucus from the chest and sinuses, kindles gastric fire, improves circulation, brings vigor, vitality, and proper elimination. It improves the tone of the bronchial and heart muscles as well as the diaphragm, and helps to prevent heart and lung diseases. Its a very easy practice and can be incorperated in to your daily life no matter where you are. To practice bhastrika follow the below instructions:

  • Sit cross-legged, keeping the right hand on the right knee, the left hand on the left knee and the spine straight.

  • Do a slight chin lock, contact the anus, and begin to do bellows breathing, which means inhaling and exhaling forcibly. This involves a rapid and forceful inhalation and exhalation powered by the movement of the diaphragm. The movement of air is accompanied by an audible sound.

  • You can do 30 constant, forceful bellows breaths and then rest.

  • When the required number of expulsions, say 30 for a round is finished, the final expulsion is followed by a deepest possible inhalation. The breath is suspended as long as it feels comfortable; then, a deep exhalation is done very slowly.

  • The end of this deep exhalation completes one round of Bhastrika. You may start with one or two rounds (30 each) and work yourself up to do more breathings each round.

Contraindications include pregnancy, high blood pressure, glaucoma, hydrocele, hernia, ascites and recent history of heart attack.

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Kapha Dosha Yoga Tips

The main qualities of kapha are unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and stable. It is also dense, cloudy and viscous. A yoga practice for a kapha individual should be one creating space, stimulation, warmth and buoyancy. Kapha types have the most stamina and strength of all the doshas, but when out of balance, suffer from lethargy and excess weight. If you are predominantly kapha, a stimulating, energizing yoga practice is ideal. It's important to challenge yourself and create heat in your body, to counter kapha's natural tendency to feel cold and sluggish. Move through your flow sequences quickly (though always with conscious awareness) to lighten and warm your body. Most of the standing poses are invigorating, especially if you hold them for a longer time. Try maintaining your asanas for up to 20 breaths. Back bends are also heating, helping to open the chest and circulate the life-giving energy of prana throughout the body. 

Doing your yoga in the early morning hours of kapha (6-10am) will help keep you more energized and motivated throughout the day. At the beginning or end of your practice, you can practice bhastrika or bellows breath, which cleanses the body and energizes the digestive system. Kaphas can cultivate all of this by following some basic guidelines:

 

  • Practice at a vigorous pace and intensity.

  • Focus on the subtlety of the pose and how it creates an expansive presence in the body and energy field.

  • Practice in a warm space.

  • Use a strong forceful breath during practice.

  • When you are ready to release the pose, take one more breath.

  • Keep your chest and shoulders open and lifted as you practice.

  • Have a sharp upward gaze.

  • Feel a sense of lightness in your poses.

  • Pause for a moment between your inhalations and exhalations.

  • Challenge yourself.

  • Keep moving. Have short resting periods between poses.

  • Enjoy a restorative pose for final relaxation.

  • Be precise in your poses.

  • Pay close attention to your alignment.

  • Dont give up!

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Incorporating Essential Oils into Your Daily Yoga Practice

Using essential oils in your daily yoga practice can improve your practice, support the immune system, help you focus and lighten your mood. It is easy to simply add a few essential oils, and the impact is worth it and very enjoyable.  I suggest using DoTerra essential oils for their purity and effectiveness. Below are a few suggestions on how to incorporate the oils:

For a mood balancing practice, began with DoTerra's breath essential oil, this supports a connection and deepens your breathing. Place a drop or two in your palms and bring them in a tent to your face. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. After breathing and grounding into your practices.

Next place a few drops of Peppermint oil at the top of the mat. Create a circle on your mat, repeating the circle a couple times. Peppermint oil works a lot like a mantra; it helps you focus and has calming properties. It is invigorating and supports intelligence through out your practice. Just before ending your practice, use Balance essential oils on the bottoms of your feet, and then relax into corpse pose.

If you need to make your practice quick, sun salutations are the way to go. With this start by sitting in lotus position at the top of your mat. Use one to two drops of peppermint oil in the palm of your hand, rub it together and breath in deeply, allow yourself to connect to your breath and clear your mind. Then apply the oil to your chest and over your lungs, this helps open the airways and prepare your body for effective oxygenation.

Once you are finished with this step use one drop of wild orange on your wrists and at the back of the neck. Inhale deeply and start your sun salutation practice. Once you are complete with the sun salutations, end your series by applying lavender oil at the bottom of your feet and resting in corpse pose.

Additional Tips:

Some people like to help the body detox during a yoga practice, if this is you, take two drops of Lemon essential oil in your water before and after your session to help flush toxins and cleanse the body.

For meditation, use Sandalwood and or Frankincense to balance the left and right hemisphere of the brain.

To clean your mat, use 4 oz of Water in a Glass Spray Bottle and add 10 drops of both Lavender and Melaleuca

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Yoga Tips For Pitta

Pitta types tend to have the best focus and determination of the three Ayurvedic types. Because of their natural physical abilities, in yoga, a Pitta constitution is able to have a very disciplined practice once oriented correctly. To start, Pitta person must understand their strengths and limitations. In general, Pitta tend to overheat, become irritable, and may even lack the patience to get started with the practice. Because of their determination, they may even overdue postures, becoming aggressive with themselves, and they tend stick to poses they can do well while ignoring the ones that they are most in need of to develop further.

According to Ayurveda a Pitta person will do best with a practice that is balancing. Pittas should perform asanas that are cooling, nurturing, expansive and relaxing. In a practice, this requires relaxing breaths and quiet sitting between strong asanas, releasing any stress that has developed. This doesn’t mean that they cannot do any strong practices, but if they do, they should make sure to compensate for any heat created by ending with cooling postures and Pranayama.

Those people with an imbalance in Pitta dosha tend to suffer from excess heat in their bodies. Calming and cooling poses which extend the soar plexus (where pitta resides) helps balance this. Poses which extend the solar plexus help dissipate heat in the body, however its important not to fall for the temptation to over-cool pitta, our bellies should always be warm, but our heads cool. Pitta types tend to be good at asanas but can not do some of the poses Vata types find easy,  due do to their shorter bones.

In general, their practice should cool the head and blood, calm the heart and relieve tension. A yoga practice for a pitta individual should encourage compassion, acceptance, have a relaxed effort and be cooling in nature. Pittas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines: 

  • Have fun in your poses. Do not take yourself or your pose too seriously. 
  • Enjoy movement in your poses. 
  • Soften your gaze downward, at the horizon or even practice with your eyes closed. 
  • Allow freedom and creativity in your practice. Change it up. Avoid sticking to one style or series of poses. 
  • Practice in a moderately cool space. You do not want to get cold, but pittas should avoid practicing in extremely heated spaces. 
  • Focus on the yoga experience in your body, not your brain. 
  • Work at 80% effort. 
  • Avoid being judgmental and critical of yourself. 
  • Make sure you have plenty of practice space. 
  • Remind yourself that yoga is not a competition. 
  • Focus on your exhalation. 
  • Use the exhalation to let go and release any built up anger, frustration, stress, etc. 
  • Be aware of your breath in your back body. 
  • Practice plenty of twists and side body openers. 
  • Notice the position of your ribs; draw them back into your body. 
  • Benefit from practicing at a moderate pace. 
  • Remind yourself that less is more.

For more information on how to balance pitta email us. We have loads of information we love to share!

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Tips for Vata Yoga

People with Vata derangement typically move quickly, sometimes with little awareness, and often push themselves harder than their bodies can take. Vata dosha is characterized by the qualities cold, mobility, lightness and expansiveness. A yoga practice for a Vata individual should be one creating warmth, serenity and nourishment. Vatas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:

  • Practice at a slow, smooth and steady pace.
  • Explore fluidity in your poses. Use gentle movements such as spinal and pelvic undulation, rotation in the joints, counter-poses, and flexion and extension.
  • Hold each posture for a short amount of time, but do multiple repetitions.
  • Draw into and move from your power center or hara. The hara is the area below the navel and above the pubic bone.
  • Focus on the foundation of the pose to create stability.
  • Internally rotate the femurs and press into the outer edges of your legs.
  • As you move, imagine you are moving through a substance like warm water or warm mud.
  • Focus on lengthening your inhalation.
  • Stay connected to the earth. Ground down through your big toes.
  • Fix your gaze below or at the horizon.
  • Engage your entire body by hugging your muscles to the bones.
  • Do not over extend or deplete yourself. Your practice should be strengthening, not draining. Vatas easily exhaust themselves and when the vata imbalance becomes severe, a restorative practice is best.
  • Be present in your practice.
  • Stay warm.
  • Conclude your practice with a long relaxation.

When Vata has gone out of balance, too much air has accumulated in the mind, body, environment. The result is a sense of un-groundedness. The best way to balance excess Vata is to bring more earth and stability into the physiology. Think relaxing.

  • Go to bed and awaken at the same time every day.
  • Meditate twice a day to quiet the mind.
  • Practice yoga to connect with your body.
  • Wear relaxing fragrances.
  • Eat three meals per day and favor, sweet, sour and salty taste.
  • Perform a slow daily self massage with warm Relaxing herbalized oils.
  • Drink Relaxing herbal tea.
  • Look for opportunities to create rhythm and routine in your life.
  • Finish things once you start them.

Connecting Yoga through Breath

yogathroughbreath.jpg

A proper understanding of the connections between yoga and Ayurveda are essential for the effective treatment of illness. Classical texts on yoga such as the Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika describes several asanas and enumerates their benefits on the basis of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic practitioners developed yoga as a form of physical exercise that would support the diseased internal organs and structural imbalances. Using the concepts of doshas, the same terminology for disease, and the same lists of body qualities and functions, asanas where created.

Most yoga practitioner restrict themselves by stating that an asana can help restore balance among all three doshas or some diseases that are explained in Ayurveda.  Ayurveda mentions that all forms of therapy or treatments can be classified under two broad headings: Those that nourish the body, brmhana, and those that remove from the body, langhana. Most methods of therapy suggested in Ayurveda fall under langhana, including both palliative and eliminative methods, because, in both, we are mostly reducing some body quality that is out of balance. 

One reason for is, most treatments in Ayurveda starts with the reduction or removal of imbalances is that balance in the being is a natural consequence of this process. Another reason is that treatment is basically dependent on the status of agni or digestive fire. The importance of agni is acknowledged in both yoga and Ayureda. The primary purpose of all treatment and important goal of practicing asanas, is to keep the agni functioning well. 

Through both movements are breathing are integral to the practice of asanas, breathing is of greater importance than movement in addressing many disorders of the body function such as hypertension or diabetes, or psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Therefore, we need to choose a body position in which the person is able to breathe freely, emphasizing the appropriate component of the breathing cycle.  

Breathing is one of most important aspects in yoga that is directly related to agni rather than specific types of movements. Inhalation helps to increase agni and activates metabolism, similar to that of fanning the flames of a fire. Exhalation, being a natural process of elimination, helps remove toxins and waste that dull the agni, enabling the function of agni to work better. In many functional disorders, it is important to ensure that exhalation is proper, even if inhalation is the component of breathing to be emphasized.

For brahma, the nourishing aspect of Ayurvedic therapy to be effective, the agni has to be functioning properly. Otherwise, even if we consume nourishing foods, herbs etc, they will not be of use to our body, because agni is what allows the food to transform into body tissues. In many disease states, langhana is usually required first to remove the blockages in the functioning agni. Only then will brhama be possible at all. This is why Ayurvedic texs suggest that even in a situation where brmhana is necessary, its may be good to start with mild langhana first. How ever the opposite does not apply: brmhana is not to be done for a person who requires lanaghana.

Classical yoga texts explain the connection between the various types of pranayama (breathing exercises) and the three doshas and various other body qualities and functions. Specific types of pranayama can be used in decreasing the qualities of particular doshas when they are out of balance. Also, these texts related to breathing to the qualities of heat and cold in the body. They classify the types of pranayama as heating and cooling and also suggest that inhalation through the right nostril is heating, while inhalation through the left nostril is cooling. These specific connections between breathing, and the body qualities is one of the most important reason why breath is more important to the management of health, then asanas. 

What ever classification of yoga we adopt, a clear understanding of the relationship between body and mind and their relationship between body and mind and their relationship with breathing and food is essential in order to apply yoga and Ayurveda effectively in the treatment of any illness. 

Yogi Tea

When Yogi Bhajan was a military commander in India there was an epidemic among the troops. He ordered all of his men to fill their canteens with yogi tea and drink nothing else, not even water. His Battalion was the only unit that didn’t get sick! Yogi tea purifies the blood, lungs and circulatory system. It cleans the liver and has many more unseen benefits. It’s good to drink this tea every day.

1 Gallon Water
30 cloves
30 whole green cardamon pods
30 whole black peppercorns
1 lg finger of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
5 sticks cinnamon
1 teabag, Black Tea
*Milk and Honey to taste (*optional)

  1. Bring water to boil.
  2. Add all spices except black tea bag. Boil 30 -45 min. Longer is stronger.
  3. Finally, add black tea bag and boil another 5 min. The black tea is added last because it amalgamates the spices and sort of seals them. Also the tannins help assimilate the spices into the body.
  4. If adding milk & honey, do so after adding the tea bag and letting it steep– or add milk and honey to individual cup or a small batch. That way you can store the raw tea in the fridge and prepare with milk and honey as you go.
  5. If you go cup by cup, you can leave the raw tea on the stove on the lowest flame to enjoy all day.


Milk helps to ease the shock of the spiciness on the stomach and intestines so drink with milk if you’re sensitive. Can use rice milk or almond milk if have milk sensitivities. 

Note: for a stronger tea you can let the spices sit and sink to the bottom. If the tea gets really strong you can cut it with milk or reconstitute with a little water.

Yoga and Depression

Each year more than 25 million Americans are treated with antidepressants. Effective? In some cases yes, but with added stress and side effects such as, weight gain, lethargy, and sexual dysfunction, have brought into question whether medication is the only solution. It may not be. Recent studies have shown evidence that the practice of yoga—postures, breathing techniques, meditation—has beneficial effects on the emotional well-being and mental acuity of depression sufferers. And, best of all, without any of the side effects. 

A recent study in Scandinavian, conducted by Eric Hoffman, Ph.D., measured brain waves before and after a two-hour Kriya Yoga class. It found that alpha waves (relaxation) and theta waves (unconscious memory, dreams, emotions) increased by 40 percent. This means the brain is more deeply relaxed after yoga and the subjects are in better contact with their sub-consciousness and emotions. The Scandinavian study is significant for depression sufferers because after the yoga session, alpha waves increased in the right temporal lobe. 

Previous research has shown that depressed, introverted people typically have more alpha activity in the left frontal-temporal region, while optimistic, extroverted people have more alpha activity on the right. That theta waves also increased supports the notion that yoga works to alleviate depression not only by increasing brain chemicals that contribute to a feel-good response—such as endorphins, enkephalins, and serotonin—but also by providing greater access to feelings. 

Another study, conducted jointly by the Philadelphia-based Jefferson Medical College and Yoga Research Society, found that practitioners experienced a significant drop in cortisol levels after a single yoga class. High cortisol levels are characteristics of stress and serious depression. A marked decrease in cortisol and increase in the hormone prolactin—which is believed by many professionals to be the key in producing the anti-depressant effect of electroshock therapy—was also demonstrated in tests conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India, using the breathing technique Sudharshan Kriya (SKY). In several major controlled studies involving adults with major depressive disorder, SKY produced dramatic relief from depression accompanied by beneficial changes in brain and hormone function. 

What about long-term effects? So far, most of the longer studies have been done in the area of mindfulness-based training; the most recent one was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (vol. 68, 2000). Here, mindfulness-based stress reduction was combined with group cognitive therapy as an eight-week treatment in the prevention of recurrence of major depression. In follow-up testing a year later, the treatment group had a significantly lower relapse rate than did the control group. 

The combination of Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation to holistically solve depression related problems has been successful and has helped several people from eliminating years of dependency on medication. Allowing one to live a happier, fuller life.

So Hum Mantra

According to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the So Ham mantra is considered to be the vibration of the cosmic unheard AUM and produces a union between the individual and universal consciousness. “So Hum” is translated as “I Am That” Pronunciation: So – Hahmmm The two seed syllables inherent four polarities:

  • The polarity of female Yin energy, represented by So, and male Yang energy, represented by Hum;
  • The polarity of inspiration (So – cold air) and expiration (Hum – warm air);
  • The polarity of mental (So) and emotional (Hum) energies;
  • The polarity of spirit (So) and matter (Hum).

How to Meditate
Sit comfortably and quietly with your palms up, open, and placed on your knees and pay attention to your breath. Let your lungs breath with no effort on your part. Simply watch your breath. Inhale. Exhale. Silently pronounce So on inhalation and Hum on exhalation.

Hum means “I“or the individual ego; So means “He, the Divine”. In the natural course of So – Hum meditation, with the So going in, life energy goes in. When Hum goes out, ego, our limited individuality, goes out. Proper practice of So – Hum meditation leads to the union of the individual with the universal Cosmic Consciousness. No effort is required, no concentration, no judgment, just choiceless observation. In that state there is great joy, beauty, and love.

When?
The best time to chant the So – Hum mantra is in the morning before eating breakfast. The chanting will release a finer energy that can be used throughout the day. An early evening meditation before having a meal will relax the body and renew energy depleted during the day.

For how long?
It is important that you sit silent and meditate after silent So – Hum chanting. You can start with 5 minutes silent chanting followed by 10 minutes of silent meditation.

Practice this easy meditation every day for at least ten to fifteen minutes (or longer) and you will discover for yourself the treasure house of meditation. 

Pranayama means control of breath. Vedic science teaches us how to control our mind by breathing practices. We also can use pranayama to activate male (solar) and female (lunar) energy then needed, or harmonize them.

TODAY’S TIP: It is important to meditate in a room that is not used very often and that feels to be your space (such as your bedroom). It shouldn’t be cluttered with too many things and should contain a window.

Why Meditation?

 "In meditation, when the mind is calm, alert and totally contented, then it is like a laser beam - it is very powerful and healing can happen."  Sri Ravi Shankar


So what is it to be healthy? To attain a perfect state of health, one also has to remain mentally calm, steady and emotionally stable. In Ayurveda Swathya means health. Its definition includes being in one's self. Swathya or health is not just confined to the body or the mind; it also connects with the spirit or consciousness. The clearer the consciousness is the more well-being is gained. It has been said that the root of an illness can lay in mind/consciousness. So by attending to the mind, clearing if of disturbances the recovery to health speeds up.  

The practice and philosophy of Ayurveda are not only to restore balance and ease the aches and pains of the body but also those of the spirit. Since ancient times, the message of Ayurveda has been to keep in a state of balance and to avoid extremes so that the existence of the Divine can be felt on the central nervous system. Meditation has great benefits for the human system as a whole. Many people vouch for the fact that meditation has caused marked improvements in their health situations both physical and mental. This has also been proved correct scientifically. Mediation is a process by which there are marked changes in the patterns of the brain waves, having long-term healing effects. Scientists have started realizing the importance of mediation in various healing procedures. Many doctors are now starting to recommend the process of meditation in the cases of people suffering from chronic disorders and also in the cases of terminally ill patients. 

Meditation gives complete rest to the entire system, especially to the brain that keeps functioning during the time we sleep. It invigorates and relaxes the mind so that it can start again afresh. Through meditation the body's metabolism is given attention helping lower the heart rate and blood pressure, which is directly related to the reduction of cholesterol levels in the body, thus reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases. Stress-related disorders are greatly impacted with the practice of meditation. Stress releases lactate and cortisol in the bloodstream, having a damaging effect on various organs. Meditation helps reduce the production of these chemicals. Keep the body vital and strong. 

Prana (or breath) is the vital life energy and is the very basis of health and well-being. Practicing breathing through meditation will provide you with energy, alertness, good humor riding your body of lethargy, dullness or weak enthusiasm. It has been profoundly useful for patients suffering from respiratory disorders because the process of breathing gets stabilized and relaxed, promoting clear and even flow of breath to the entire system. People suffering with asthma, allergies, and sleeping disorders are greatly impacted by the daily practice of breathing meditations. 

So many people misunderstand meditation and when the hear the word "meditation" they want to run the other way. Most people think "oh there is no way I can sit for that long, or I am too busy, sick or have a too an active mind." They key is to start slowly. In Dr. Frawley mentioned in his book "Ayurveda and the mind" Mantras serves like a boat to take us across the ocean of the unconscious. Mantra prepared meditation is easier, safer and stronger than trying to meditate directly. For beginners, guided meditation is very beneficial. Below is a couple simple meditations and mantra. Give it a try and see how meditation can significantly impact your life!

Simple Daily Meditation
Allow the mind to relax; please follow theses easy instructions. Sit on the forward third of a chair or a cushion on the floor. Arrange your legs in a position you can maintain comfortably. In the half-lotus position, place your right leg on your left thigh. In the full lotus position, put your feet on opposite legs. You may also sit quietly with your legs tucked in close to your body, but be sure that your weight is distributed on three points: both of your knees on the ground and your buttocks on the ground cushion. On a chair, keep your knees apart about the width of your shoulders, feet firmly planted on the floor.

Take a deep breath, exhale fully, and take another deep breath, exhaling fully. With proper physical posture, you're breathing will flow naturally into your lower abdomen. Breathe naturally, without judgment or trying to breathe a certain way. Keep your attention on your breath. When your attention wanders, bring it back to the breath again and again -- as many times as necessary! Remain as still as possible, following your breath and returning to it whenever thoughts arise.  Be full, vitally present with yourself. Simply do your very best. At the end of you're sitting period, gently swing your body from right to left in increasing arcs. Stretch out your legs, and be sure they have felt before standing. Practice this peaceful meditation every day for at least ten to fifteen minutes (or longer), and you will discover for yourself the treasure house of meditation.

Yoga and Ayuveda

Ayurveda and yoga are sister Vedic sciences that have been united for thousands of years for the sake of healing body, mind, and consciousness. Generally speaking, Ayurveda deals more with the health of the body, while yoga deals with purifying the mind and consciousness, but in reality they complement and embrace each other.

The ancient rishis (seers) were the original masters of all Vedic sciences. They understood that good health is a great asset on the path toward Self-realization. If the body is neglected it can easily become an obstacle to spiritual practice. Anyone who has practiced meditation for any length of time would agree to how difficult it can be to sit still for long periods of time without feeling discomfort and fatigue. Both yoga and Ayurveda are mutually supportive and offer many ways to prevent and heal various disorders as well as to cleanse and rejuvenate the body.

Besides sharing a philosophical foundation, both systems have many similarities in relation to attitude, nutrition, diet, hygiene, exercise, cleansing practices, as well as spiritual practices. Traditionally, a student of yoga would first live close to and serve the guru for many years, during which time he would learn healthy habits. The basic Ayurvedic principles for health and longevity were past on in the lineage in oral form to serve as a foundation for a life of sadhana (spiritual practice).

Nowadays, the teachings of yoga are easily available to all, and whether prepared or not we can leap headlong into its practice. This has its blessings, in the sense that more people can be turned on to the teachings, although much is often lost without the parampara, or close guidance at the feet of an accomplished master. With this in mind, modern yoga practitioners would most certainly benefit from a basic knowledge of Ayurveda to help establish a healthy daily routine and adjust their practice according to the constitution, dosha imbalance, season, and so on, to prevent disease and promote longevity.

First, let's take a look at the similarities between yoga and Ayurveda: Both are ancient Vedic teachings. Yoga originates in the Yajur Veda, while Ayurveda originates in the Atharva Veda and Rig Veda. Both recognize that keeping the body healthy is vital for fulfilling the four aims of life: Dharma (duty), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire), and Moksha (liberation). Both recognize that the balance of doshas (humors), dhatus (tissues), and malas (waste products) is essential for maintaining good health. Both share virtually the same metaphysical anatomy and physiology, which consists of 72,000 nadis (subtle channels), 7 main chakras (energy centers), 5 bodily sheaths, and the Kundalini Shakti (energy). 

Both advocate the use of diet, herbs, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, astrology, prayer, puja, and rituals for healing the entire being. Both encourage physical health as a good foundation for mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Both share the same view on psychology. Ayurveda embraces all six of the main schools of philosophy including the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Vedanta (a non-dual philosophical and spiritual path). They both understand that the attachment to the body-mind complex is the root cause of all suffering and that the ultimate state of health is experienced when we abide in our true nature, which is total peace, regardless of the state of the physical body. Both use cleansing methods for the body, all of which encourage the removal of waste products and toxins through their natural routes of elimination. Ayurveda has panchakarma (five cleansing actions) and yoga uses Shat Karma (six purification measures) 

The use of asana, pranayama, and meditation for healing is known as Yoga Chikitsa, or Yoga Therapy and has been used for thousands of years by Ayurveda. In Yoga Chikitsa, a group of yogic exercises are chosen that will best support the individual and are practiced daily. This can be done over an extended period of time in conjunction with an Ayurvedic regime and herbal and dietary therapies. Yoga Chikitsa also plays an integral role in the Ayurvedic cleansing and rejuvenation process known as panchakarma. For a well balanced personal yoga practice, it is important to take into consideration the individual's body structure, prakruti (original constitution), and vikruti (present constitutional imbalance). The following are general recommendations according to the predominant dosha.

Vata predominant individuals should remember to focus on calming, grounding, stillness, strengthening, and balancing while doing their practice. Vinyasa or flow styles of yoga tend to move too quickly from one pose to the next and can aggravate the hyper-mobile quality of vata over time. Flow sequences can be made to be more vata pacifying if they are not excessively long, the length of time poses are held is extended, and transitions are done slowly and consciously. Those with lower back problems may find that bending the knees in standing forward bends can prevent discomfort. Back bends should be done slowly, carefully and within one's own limits.

Pitta individuals should maintain a calm, cool, and relaxed intention while doing asanas. Pitta types may benefit from trying to cultivate an attitude of forgiveness, and of surrendering or offering the fruits of their practice to the divine of to those in need of positive healing energy. Because asana practice tends to generate heat in the body, it is best to do them at cooling times of the day, such as dawn or dusk. Also, it is useful to place some emphasis on poses that help to release excess heat from the body, such as poses that compress the solar plexus and poses that open the chest like.

Kapha types tend to be sedentary and often dislike vigorous exercise. For this reason, their practice should be energetic, warming, lightening, and stimulating, providing they are physically capable. Vinyasa or flow style yoga is good for kapha because it is dynamic and moves quickly from one pose to the next, it induces sweating and gets the heart pumping.

Yoga poses that address specific doshic problems can be easily added to an Ayurvedic regime and integrated into an existing yoga routine, or they can be organized as a small session with the help of an Ayurvedic clinician who knows each individual case well and can help set up a well balanced program according to the needs of each client.