Usually, we express our feelings and experiences through our body’s posture and movements. In some strongly emotional experiences, our whole body becomes involved….if we’re happy our whole body moves into activity…smiling, dancing, singing. In fear our body becomes immobile it tenses up or hurriedly runs away. But most of us avoid certain feelings especially when they feel uncomfortable or painful or may bring cause others to respond in an uncaring or angry manner. But when we avoid awareness we avoid what we’re feeling…….and doing this also stops the movement that usually expressing the emotion…….ie., when angry you may make a fist or tense our arms and shoulders……and stopping the movement also directs our attention elsewhere, losing awareness of this area of our body. In regard to the heart, it literally tightens, feels heavy, tense and constricted…..vital energy becomes blocked causing harm to our body, mind and spirit. To begin the uphill climb to health, the first and most important asset is our self worth. Any kind of exercise can helps us to feel good, look good, be confident and self assured. The pride of looking at ourselves in the mirror gives us a surge of energy and pride.
WHERE TO START
Before beginning any exercise we should limber up, which helps to warm the body and loosen the muscles. Yoga is no exception….sudden or jerky movements can cause stiffness in the body. Not only that, warming up allows the blood vessels to expand, the blood to circulate more freely which allows more oxygen into our system and the muscles…..especially before aerobic exercises. Starting too fast causes anaerobic combustion (not enough oxygen) which can also build up toxic waste in our muscles (lactic acid) which in turn causes pain, strain and tension.
With any exercise we need to slowly, gently and continually practice so our bodies Will begin to experience its greater benefits. And when we feel encouraged by the results, we want to start doing more slightly difficult movements and positions.
WHAT IS YOGA?
A friend of mine teaches Yoga for Golf. “Yoga and Golf” I exclaimed?? At the time I knew little of Yoga and not much about golf either. She then taught me that Yoga not only helps to slim the body and make it more flexible and youthful, it also helps to calm the mind and free it of tension and worry.
This is her website http://www.yogaforgolf.ca/YOGA_STRETCHING.htm with great exercises, stretches and loads of information! All you golfers and non-golfers alike would truly benefit from Peggy’s wonderful website and articles.
Yoga is a gentle exercise for all ages, shapes and sizes. It is not so much for muscle development as it is about bringing the glands and nervous system into balance, giving the physical body more strength, resilience and harmony. The glandular and nervous systems of the body are mainly responsible for controlling our thought patterns, emotional reactions, and degree of happiness or unhappiness. Our physical and mental processes are all regulated by these nerve and glands…..if they aren’t functioning properly, we also aren’t functioning at our optimum potential. Yoga is safe, simple, and easy to grasp and master.
Yoga (which means union, wholeness) is not only a precise science but also a great art. It is scientific because it consists of specific, time-tested techniques with precise and excellent results….it is an art because it is a highly personaly experience and form of self-expression. The different movements/postures help to calm the mind and release tension in the body.
I’m not a yoga teacher but in my quest for wholeness have found certain movements/positions that have helped me with my certain health problem, Fibromyalgia. I’d like to share what I’ve found and learnt to help you find relief too.
THE SUN SALUTATION
I found some great sites with the Sun Salutation exercise..
Here’s one on youtube http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=yuvfHTaftLQ
This one’s great too http://www.yogasite.com/sunsalute.htm
The twelve postures are demonstrated well at http://www.healthandyoga.com/HTML/news/suryaprint.html
let’s go through the steps and steps for each one to help you see how it works to limber your body up before starting the day.
Almost every morning, I do this exercise which if done slowly to get reap the benefits, takes about 15 minutes. Believe me you will feel better for it. There’s a couple of other ones as well which I’ll share too.
The benefits to The Sun Salutation are many. It helps to tone the digestive system as well as stretch and tighten the abdominal area. It also massages the liver, stomach, spleen, intestines, and kidneys….and helps the digestion process, relieves constipation and loose bowels.
The sun salutation also stretches and massages the spinal column, toning and regulating the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. It helps with insominia, hypertension, work and anxiety……also improves the memory!
It also helps to balance the endocrine glands by relieving emotional stress and tension. The thyroid gland gets alot of help from this too.
In other words it affects every cell of the body, giving one a feeling of well-being, vitality and peace. Also, the mind is able to function with greater clarity in a world that sometimes seems to be filled with chaos.
One of the important notes to follow is the breathing which cretes a mediative flow with the body movements. This exercise is a wonderful way to warm-up before a rigorous exercise as it limbers all the muscles and the entire body.
1. Stand erect with your feet and legs together. Join your hands as if in prayer at the chest with elbows pointed downward.
3. Exhaling bend forward from the hips til your hands, palms down, touch the floor. Bend your knees at first if you have too, as you get better you’ll notice the knees strengthening on their own.
4. Inhale and stretch your right leg behind you as far as possible with hands on the ground. Your chest should touch your left thigh and knee. Look up and arch your back, stretch your head, neck and chest.
5. Hold the breath and put your body in the position of doing (men) pushups.
6. Exhale and gradually lower your body, touching chest, knees and forward to the floor. If this is a problem, touch your chin to the floor instead.
7. Inhale and lower your hips and legs to the floor, uncurl your toes and arch your back as in a cobra position. Try to keep the hips and thighs on the floor.
8. Exhale and stand on your hands and feet…..your body should form a triangle….keep your head between your arms. Try to keep your feet flat…if you have trouble walk towards the hands until the feet are flat. Press your torso toward your legs, so that your spine curves inward.
9. Inhale and take take a long and quick step forard placing your right foot between your hands. Keep the left leg stretched behind you and lower the left knee to the floor….raise your head and arch your back…this is the reverse of number 4.
10 Exhale, bring your your left leg forward, placing it next to your right leg. Straighten your knees as best you can….place your palms flat on the floor, bring your head between your knees.
11. Inhale and slowly straighten up, stretching your arms and arching back as in number 2.
12. Exhale and gradually lower your arms back to the prayer position….stand still with your eyes closed, centering your attention inward, notice the changing sensations in your body. Now you’re ready to start a new day!
This is an excellent site that demonstrates The Plough step by step http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/yogapractice/theplough.asp
The plough is done by lying on the ground (or bed) and lifting your feet and legs over your head. Then slowly lower the legs to touch the ground behind your head. Yes this can be hard to do at first but as you practice it becomes easier. What happens is your back gradually lifts off the floor, bending with the stretch. If you could see this energetically, energy shoots along the spinal column, bathing the nervous system with an increase of blood flow. It too benefits the whole system and especially the heart and the thyroid gland which helps the thyroid to increase its hormonal output.
When I started this exercise, I lay flat on the bed, arms by my side, palms down. Inhaling, I pressed my palms against the bed and slowly raised my legs until they were pointing at the ceiling….
Exhaling lower the legs over your head until the feet touch the floor behind your head. Do this as comfortable as you are able. The more flexible you become, the easier it will be to do. Some support their hips with their hands to maintain a balance. Breathe deeply and slowly.
Inhaling, slowly lower your back, vertebrae by vertebrae, until your hips have reached the floor and your legs are pointing to the ceiling. Exhale and slower lower your legs to the floor.
Relax and breathe normally. Sense how your body feels.
Here is a step by step guide to this exercise http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/yogapractice/shoulderstand.asp
This exercise isn’t as easy as it seems, at least not for me. I haven’t been able to fully stretch this one out yet but I’m getting there. The benefits of this pose is great for the thryoid and parathyroid glands through the pressure of the chin. These glands regulate our metabolic processes, heartbeat and blood pressure!
It also helps the organs in the upper part of our body by bathing them in a generous supply of blood, helping to prevent colds, sore throats, bronchitis, asthma and headaches. The heart is relieved for a time of the strain of pumping blood against gravity to the demanding organs of the head and neck.
The shoulderstand also improves circulation, helps prevent and relieve varicose veins, helps all the organs, combats insomnia and nervous disorders, nourishes the skin, scalp and hair roots…..by golly the list goes on and on!
For those suffering from high or low blood pressure, eye disorders such as glaucoma or a detached retina, please consult your doctor first before attempting the Shoulderstand.
This is the beginners posture, as you get better you can follow the step by step guide from the site above.
Lie on your back with your hands at your side, palms down with your feet and legs together. Exhale deeply.
Inhaling, slowly raise your straightened legs toward the ceiling.
Exhaling, life your hips and lower your legs toward the floor over your head. Inhaling life your legs in a sixty-degree angle with the floor supporting your hips and hands. Hold and breathe deeply.
Exhaling, lower your legs toward the floor over your head. Then, inhaling slowly lower your back to the floor. Exhale and return your legs to the floor.
I’ve only given a few yoga samples to play with. My recommendation is you look at the different postures and pick the ones right for you! There’s so many different sites and videos on Yoga movements, the importance is to do them gently and slowly without strain. Each time you practice try to stretch your body a little more, but never to the point of discomfort or pain. You aren’t competing with anyone so you don’t need to do the stretches perfectly. The purpose is to ‘feel’ your body in new ways or with a new awareness and learn what it is telling you.
This is a wonderful site to get you started http://www.santosha.com/asanas/suryanamaskar.html it not only describes the steps, it explains the movments in great detail and the advantages of continual practice.
Next, Meditation and the Heart