Tuning Into The Rhythm of Life

By Craig Hanauer E-RYT 500 RCYT

Isn’t it remarkable that a healthy vestibular system can process lower frequency rhythmic sound vibrations and translate them into corresponding bodily movements? Alfred Tomatis the creator of the Tomatis Listening Method observed that both rhythm and sound are processed through different parts of the human ear. He described the vestibular apparatus as the ear of the body, the part involved in the feeling and production of movement and rhythm, and the cochlea or hearing apparatus deals with the perception of sounds and pitch. Music helps to join brain and body in their response to the resonance of sound so that the body itself becomes an instrument of expression.

It is no coincidence that many disciplines designed to address vestibular dysfunction have a rhythmic component to them. Take for example traditional Sensory Integration Therapy’s focus on rhythmic movements to stimulate the vestibular system in different ways; Harald Blomberg’s Rhythmic Movement Therapy designed to address nonintegrated primitive reflexes through rhythmic movements; and although not aimed specifically at vestibular dysfunction, the therapeutic branch of Eurythmy (a practice common to Rudolph Steiner’s Waldorf Schools around the world) aims to restore an individual towards balance and equilibrium.

Clearly rhythmic movements are comforting and organizing for many children, and that is why rocking a baby tends to be soothing and swinging forward and back upon a swing is a popular activity for many kids. But what about the child who avoids the swing or is upset by even a gentle rocking motion? What does this say about her vestibular system, and how can she gradually become acclimatized to such movements so that she begins to enjoy them and to develop a corresponding internal rhythm and order?

It is through being bounced, rocked, and spun that babies develop a healthy vestibular system, so children who are hypersensitive to vestibular input should not be allowed to avoid it completely, but rather should be exposed to it with consideration to time and intensity. Much like the child who has difficulty waiting; if always called upon immediately s/he will have no opportunity to increase her capacity to wait, however kept waiting too long will send her into unproductive distress.

So what does all of this have to do with Children’s Yoga? I wasn’t aware of the many ways I was already incorporating rhythmic movements into my children’s yoga classes until I attended training on Blomberg Rhythmic Movement Therapy. All of that rocking, rolling and moving to music has a rhythmic component to it, and engaging my students through rhythm makes the class run so much more smoothly; it’s is akin to moving with the river rather than against it. In addition, I have become aware of so many new ways of incorporating rhythmic movements into my classes, now that I see how these movements benefit my students, and myself in terms of the energy I expend in leading a class. We often hear the expression “being in the rhythm of life” and this is something that can begin like so many other things on the yoga mat!


 

You can read more about Craig and his programs by visiting his websites and Facebook page.

Words that start with ‘M’: Mindfulness & Mental Health

By Marni Levitt

Mindfulness and Yoga changed my life.

Not only in terms of REDUCING STRESS and increasing intuition and creativity, BUT ALSO: they are tools that systematically helped me to become a BETTER PERSON, AND helped me to discover my true GIFTS and TALENTS to share with others, and to inspire the best in them, through my LIFE’S WORK and MISSION. I want that for you, your students, your clients, your team, your family.

Mindfulness and Yoga are tools that have had a huge impact on my life – in fact, they have completely altered my patterns of relating to my self, other people and the world at large. I have literally experienced miracles as a direct result of my practise of yoga and mindfulness. I have connected with just the right person at the right time (when I needed something), I have had powerful access to my intuition that has helped me to solve significant problems at work and in life. I have sensed that something important was about to happen, before it did. It has seemed almost as though, as I get to know myself deeply (the patterns of my thoughts, emotions, body sensations and energies), then I automatically know the world, and other people deeply. I believe that’s because I am in the universe, but the universe is also in me. This direct experiential knowledge (in addition to the mountains of growing scientific evidence) has huge implications for individuals, families, organizations and businesses.

In maintaining my own mental health, mindfulness has acted as a powerful compliment to aerobic exercise, healthy eating & cooking, gardening and hobbies, talk therapy, a community of friends and neighbours and self-expression through music, dance, art and writing. I have discovered that being mentally healthy means getting in touch with the unique gifts and talents I was born with, that I need to share. When I am not able to share my gifts or my brilliance, (ie. music!), then they get stuck inside me, and it doesn’t feel good. When I share them, I self-actualize while simultaneously inspiring and moving other people. Health for self means health for others. There are exponential returns when I feel I am living my life in alignment with my truth, and my true calling, and when I am present. Being present in my moment-by-moment bodily, thinking and emotional experience, is something I have learned through the practise of mindfulness.

I can’t count how many times magical connections have been made when I trust the creative process that is life! I believe that mental health is just as much a social responsibility, as it is an individual responsibility. The solutions lie in how we relate with ourselves, and each other, in a collective context. Culture is the means by which each individual relates with the whole. Move-N-Music aims to be a leader in healthy-culture creation. The culture I envision is one grounded in Mindfulness. I use cultural arts (singing, drumming, dancing, spoken word poetry, storytelling) to promote this culture. I believe we are at a turning point in our world, and we must move swiftly towards a more productive and healthy way of being. Our very ecosystems, economic systems, healthcare, education and business systems are at stake if we do not change and move towards health. All of these systems impact your own personal wellness, success and happiness directly.

Each person is part-and-parcel of the larger whole. So many jobs and workplaces structured in our modern world do not allow people to use or express their natural gifts. In the world of public school teaching, the resources were often scarce, and the systemic stresses in the system so significant, that sometimes I could not even teach music, I was just maintaining safety in the room. As human beings with great potential, I believe we can do much better in structuring our systems to facilitate real growth! Mindfulness is one of the tools that can give us back what is natural and inherent in all of us: the power to be authentically human, and to thrive.


Want to learn more about The Move-N-Music Story? Click here:

Want to introduce habits to foster Mental Health for your school, workplace, family or organization?

Move-N-Music offers Mind-Body Breaks Presentation & Workshops: An Inspiring and motivating start to creating positive physical and mental health

Activities include:

-Singing, Rhythmic Clapping, Movement
-Music, Sound and Breathing Games
-Fun Contests & Imaginative Play
-Singing Bowl demonstration
-Stretching, Guided Relaxation and Visualization

Email me marni@move-n-music.com or call 416-910-3114 for more information.

It is my mission to support you.
1-416-910-3114
@Move_N_Music
marni@move-n-music.com
www.move-n-music.com

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed. OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music
Arts & Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker

The Art of Living Happiness Program

Living Life to its Full Potential

The Art of Living Happiness Program integrates ancient yogic practices and wisdom into our lives today. Practicing these techniques enable us to be more in the present moment and live with greater clarity, creativity, peace and joy.

The Happiness Program Features

THE SUDARSHAN KRIYA

Only taught in The Art of Living’s Happiness Program, the Sudarshan Kriya is an approachable, simple yet powerful rhythmic breathing technique. It helps alleviate our physical, mental and emotional stresses, leaving us refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated and giving us a sense of peace and rest never experienced before.

PRANAYAMAS

Simple breathing exercises that remove toxins accumulated from persistent levels of stress. These techniques bring the mind, body and soul in sync – the prerequisite to being happy and living a balanced life.

YOGA

Gentle and dynamic postures that remove inertia and relax the body. Yoga raises energy levels and calms the mind, complementing meditation and magnifying the benefits of the Sudarshan Kriya.

GUIDED MEDITATIONS

One of the deepest forms of rest for your system, meditation recharges you at the level of the body and mind. Meditation leaves you calm yet alert, while revealing hidden potentials and talents you never knew about!

Gentle and dynamic postures that remove inertia and relax the body. Yoga raises energy levels and calms the mind, complementing meditation and magnifying the benefits of the Sudarshan Kriya.

PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT

Includes processes which enable you to release your inhibitions and give you a greater sense of confidence. Interactive team-building exercises develop your leadership skills to make you more active in your life.

PRACTICAL WISDOM

Applicable wisdom that help you manage daily life situations of work, family and relationships more skillfully. This wisdom can integrate into your life to deal with the challenges of life in a seamless manner.

For more information, click here:

http://www.artofliving.org/ca-en/happiness-program#acol=0

If They’re Singing They’re Breathing!

By Craig Hanauer E-RYT 500 RCYT

If movement is a child’s first language then music is her second. Visit any good preschool or kindergarten class and there is a song for everything from cleaning-up to preparing to go home. This is because young children are much more likely to process language communicated to them via song. Unlike speech, music is processed at all levels of the brain; at the brain stem it affects arousal levels and through the limbic system it has a powerful impact upon emotions. It is in the cortex that it is understood on an intellectual level.

Yoga class provides many opportunities for singing and moving to music, and the benefits of these activities abound. Children can be implicitly guided through a yoga sequence coordinated to kid friendly music, and explicit directions can be communicated via song. Rhythmic movements tend to be organizing, and singing supports expressive language and literacy. Different frequencies resonate in different parts of the body, so chanting mantra stimulates the body’s energy centers/chakras.

Another benefit of singing is that it is the perfect way to prompt young children to breath. Sheila Frick OT in her manual on building core strength describes the twofold recipe for increasing postural support; simultaneously engaging the core muscles closest to the bone while taking deep inhalations followed by long controlled exhalations. This is exactly what singing entails. If you can get your students to hold Boat Pose while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” you are serving them well.


Craig Hanauer is a Kripalu trained Yoga Alliance Registered “Experienced” 500-Hour Children’s Yoga Teacher.  He is also certified in New York State as a Creative Arts Therapist, a School Teacher and a School Building Leader.  Committed to the health and wellbeing of children, Craig has developed “Every Kid’s Yoga”, a unique and successful program for children with varied abilities and needs that integrates the creative arts, yoga, and play. He specializes in training yoga teachers, educators, therapists and parents in this therapeutic and fun-filled approach to working with kids. Craig continues to work directly with young people in a variety of settings such as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Preschool at 3rd Street Music Settlement, and Satellite Academy a NYC Department of Education Alternative High School. Craig recently founded The Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Collaborative, a Yoga Alliance Approved 95-hour children’s yoga teacher training school.

You can read more about Craig and his programs by visiting his websites and Facebook page.

Emotions Experienced in the Body

Written by: Marni Levitt

I remember my body dropping several flights in a split second on the ride at Disney World. The ride was called ‘The Drop’ or something like that, and simulated an extremely sharp elevator drop. My stomach was up, several meters higher than the rest of my body, which dropped down sharply – all of a sudden. A thrill, an unpleasant feeling, scary – all depending on how you perceived it. For me, it was both scary and unpleasant. I have felt that feeling in my stomach many times – but not on a Disney World ride – rather, in daily life situations that feel scary or stressful. I feel like my stomach is dropping down – almost right out of my body. (The opposite of my body dropping down, and stomach in the air, but similar feeling nonetheless). I have felt like that many times at work, in stressful moments.

I am sure many people experience similar physical experiences of emotions. ‘I have butterflies in my stomach’; ‘I have cold feet’; ‘my heart is broken’, ‘you make me sick’, ‘I am listening to my gut, and something just doesn’t feel right’. If you resonate with any of these expressions, or feelings, you may have a sense that our language reflects our lived experience and reality.

With the recent scientific validation of mindfulness and yoga, through studies and neuroscience, it is easy to start believing that emotions and feelings happen between your ears, in your head (ie. in your brain). In Eastern thought (where yoga and mindfulness originate), the mind is considered a mystery. Who is the one who is knowing and experiencing? Western science takes this ‘self’ for granted, Eastern traditions question and wonder about it.

I wonder how many people experience their emotional reality inside of their heads? Through my years of mindfulness meditation experience, and practise of yoga, in addition to work with a psychotherapist – I have learned to be aware of, and identify the feelings in my body; in this way, my body has become my emotional compass, leading me to wellness. For example, when my chest and throat start to feel tight, it is likely that I am experiencing sadness or grief. When I tune into this experience (either through mindfulness meditation, or just being aware as I go about my day), I can then work with it, be present with it, and that is when it often starts to transform, or loosen, and I get some relief from the pain. Identifying my physical experience of emotions – or physical processing of emotions, has made a world difference for me, on a practical, daily basis.

I have been able to navigate life and work, and improve my mental health and wellness in leaps and bounds.

According to Wikipedia, Pali (Pāli) is a Prakrit language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of many of the earliest extant literature of Buddhism. The Pali-English Dictionary suggests citta is heart / mind, and emphasizing it is more the emotive side of mind as opposed to manas, as the intellect or mind-sense in the sense of what grasps mental objects (dhammas). From the cultures that gave birth to mindfulness practices now transforming the West, there is a different understanding of mind than that assumed by modern, Western, scientific concepts. The heart is in the body, the body experiences emotions. The more traditional (and time-tested) practices such as mindfulness and yoga have an understanding of mind that includes the heart. This conception certainly resonates with my life experience – and being in touch with my body (and therefore emotions) has only improved my life and relationships. Being aware of the body, and of feelings, is the first step to working with those feelings – and often, mitigating or limiting a fight-or-flight stress response.

There are scientific studies on just about everything now – which is great, as it helps give a certain validity to fields or practices previously considered marginal (in modern Western context). More and more people are turning to these types of supports, in search of practical solutions to exponentially-increasing stress and distractions modern life. People are flocking to yoga and mindfulness meditation retreats in droves. Parents are finding help for issues that previously seemed unsolvable for their kids. I know that I have made a scientific study of my own life: about 99.9% of the time, when I am feeling a great deal of stress about something, after a yoga class, whatever problem seemed insurmountable before class, suddenly feels workable – and often I feel at peace. Wow.

Just like magic. My mind (and emotions) became calm because of actions I did with my body and breath. Hopefully with the logic of science, and the art of being aware of feelings – we can start to connect with a broader canvas of human experience: one that includes the head, the heart, the body, and therefore our entire being. I believe that’s where we will find long-term solutions for the pervasive ailments of modern living.


Move-N-Music is offering ‘mind-FUN-ness’ customized small group coaching sessions to introduce the concept of mindfulness in a fun, hands-on, engaging way.  For more information, please email marni@move-n-music.com
Every Sunday Morning near St.Clair and Oakwood in Toronto

April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8, 2016
9:30am – 10:30am
For ages: 5-8

Find out more about Marni’s programs by checking out her website; www.move-n-music.com

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music
Arts & Wellness Educator,
Animator, Speaker

1-416-910-3114
Skype: Marni.Levitt1
marni@move-n-music.com
www.move-n-music.com

Photo in article from Move-N-Music Family mind-FUN-ness day in Toronto – Feb.2016.

How Do You Say “Yoga” in Spanish? Answer: Joga

By Craig Hanauer E-RYT 500 RCYT

As a Spanish language learner, one of my favorite activities is to take yoga class in Spanish. These classes have provided excellent opportunities for me to work on my receptive language skills and to ultimately better understand my language challenged students. I benefit from the linking of words with familiar movements; the relaxation I experience there allows me to better process what is being said; and I am more fluent after class. Though not evident in English (except perhaps when attempting to identify the words in a song), my expressive language is much stronger than my receptive language in Spanish. I know at times I have impressed native speakers with my ability to speak, and have been met with responses that are communicated much too quickly for me to completely comprehend. This same misunderstanding occurs with children who sound good due to scripting and echolalia, but are quite challenged receptively. I’ve always been told that language ability decreases under stress and at times I have been alarmed by the lack of access I have had to my Spanish when I’ve been angered or upset.

Now after many years of working with language challenged students I find myself working in a preschool with mostly typically developing children. The first marked difference is that they can wait. I used to clamor to move onto the next song or activity to avoid a regression into total chaos, but now as I fiddle with my ipod, most of them are able to just sit and wait, incredible! For my language challenged students just following along in English was difficult, however here in the preschool I am inclined to take advantage of that brief window of opportunity when children are most receptive to learning a second language. I have been looking for ways to incorporate Spanish into my work, and young children who are exposed to a second language either at home or at school are likely to retain that information for a lifetime.

One of my first ventures into bringing Spanish into my children’s yoga classes was to have a Mexican program assistant lead an entire class in Spanish during a children’s program at Kripalu. Although most of the children did not identify as Spanish speakers, they were able to follow along with minimal support due to the associated movements and sounds. Now I have a whole lineup of Spanish language songs that lend themselves to yoga-based movement. The music provides me with the structure and support I need to introduce Spanish to my students, and the associated movements and sounds provide the same for them. I was blown away recently when one of my 4 year-old students translated “estirar” into “stretch”, as she was familiar with the song we were acting out in English.

If you do decide to bring Spanish into your kid’s yoga classes just keep in mind that animals make different sounds in Spanish than they do in English; did you know that in Mexico chickens say Pio Pio and roosters says kikirikí, ki-kiri-ki?

I’m in the market for a Spanish “See and Say” if anyone has any leads.

 


Craig Hanauer is a Kripalu trained Yoga Alliance Registered “Experienced” 500-Hour Children’s Yoga Teacher.  He is also certified in New York State as a Creative Arts Therapist, a School Teacher and a School Building Leader.  Committed to the health and wellbeing of children, Craig has developed “Every Kid’s Yoga”, a unique and successful program for children with varied abilities and needs that integrates the creative arts, yoga, and play. He specializes in training yoga teachers, educators, therapists and parents in this therapeutic and fun-filled approach to working with kids. Craig continues to work directly with young people in a variety of settings such as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Preschool at 3rd Street Music Settlement, and Satellite Academy a NYC Department of Education Alternative High School. Craig recently founded The Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Collaborative, a Yoga Alliance Approved 95-hour children’s yoga teacher training school.

You can read more about Craig and his programs by visiting his websites and Facebook page.

The Power of Saying No!

Written by: Anita Barnes of Leslieville Yoga in Toronto, Canada.

Learning to say No! Do you get anxious just thinking about it?   Saying no is challenging for most of us. We want to make people happy, be liked, and not disappoint those that we care about or annoy a boss.  If you are always saying yes, not only will it impede your self-care, it will leave you open to exploitation.

I have always been amazed and inspired by the few individuals that I know that seem to say “no” so effortlessly. They don’t second-guess their decision; they don’t feel guilty and are not too concerned what the recipient of the no thinks. This is something to aspire to!

It goes beyond saying no to a request. Maybe you need to say no to long hours at work, relationships that are a drain and lack reciprocity, an unhealthy diet or lifestyle.

Learning to deny a request confidently is a boundary issue. Having good and healthy boundaries is critical to your well-being. I’ve been in many situations in which I have said yes only to feel the regret as the yes was leaving my lips. Occasionally I have felt put on the spot because it happened in front of a group of people and I wanted to be a nice person.

At times I have followed through with whatever I said yes to with great resentment or had to cancel because what I said yes to wasn’t possible. Neither situation is respectable. Walking around with resentment when the recipient of your yes is unaware of how you feel can turn into a poisonous situation.   Letting the person down by reneging on your yes can have a negative impact on your relationship as you will come across as unreliable.

Since some of these awful and very awkward situations I have been practicing saying “no.” Some requests are very easy to say no to, while others feel like I have to say yes. Now, with most requests, I say, “I’ll think about it, let me get back to you.” This gives me time to think about the request, check my calendar and with my husband. I find it very helpful to sit quietly with it, take a few deep breaths, and notice what feelings come up. It helps to ask yourself: “ Do I really have time for this? Will this interfere with my self-care in any way?”

I also believe that it is important to be as nice and friendly as you can with your nos. There is no need to be rude or curt. You can politely decline: “no thank-you.”

With these soft responses most people have respected my decision and dropped the subject. I also realized that if someone gets really annoyed with my no, then I have to ask myself if I want that person in my life.

Years ago I knew an individual that I didn’t particularly like or trust. They were very aggressive insisting that we go for a coffee. It was something that I had no desire to do. I didn’t say yes, which was good, but I didn’t say a clear no either. For months, this person kept asking and I kept making excuses. Finally, I responded by saying: “Thank-you so much for your kind offer. I’m going to pass though.” Polite and very clear. I did not give a reason. This person never asked me for a coffee again or bothered me about anything else.

At times you may have a very valid reason to saying no: “Sorry, I can’t watch your cat when you are away because I will be away at the same time.” It is also essential to be mindful of excuses.   You don’t need to explain yourself and your no will lose its’ strength and clarity if you go on and on with an explanation. If your new to this “no” concept and feel you need to give a reason, keep it short: “sorry, this is not a good time for me”, “my schedule won’t allow it” or “that is not possible.” Keep in mind that pushy or demanding people will keep trying and you will have to be firm and may need to repeat your response without adding to it or giving in.

It is imperative to find some balance. You don’t want to go to the extreme of saying no all of the time because that will disconnect and isolate you from your community. You also don’t want to continue saying yes all of the time because that will cause exhaustion and resentment.

Make the decision that your self-care is important. It takes practice and some courage. With practice, it does get easier. Ask yourself: “by saying yes to this request, what I’m I saying no to in my life.” Saying no is being honest and is as important to your happiness as getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, and exercising. Saying no is saying yes to your well-being and life.

Written by Anita Barnes of Leslieville Yoga in Toronto, Canada.


Anita first became curious about yoga at a young age wondering why her mother was standing on her head. In 1993 she walked into a yoga studio and her life changed forever. Yoga and meditation are responsible for her twisted back remaining pain free and her recovery from depression.

She is a certified Hatha Yoga Teacher and received her training from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram in Val Morin, Quebec in 1998. She has also received training in Yin and Restorative Yoga and has a certificate in Trauma Sensitive Yoga. She is also a certified Thai Yoga Massage Practioner. She taught at the Sivananda Yoga Centre in Toronto from 1998 -2010, and has also taught yoga in a Toronto courthouse and hospital. She is a member of the Natural Health Practioners of Canada and the Canadian Yoga Alliance.

She has created a “Yoga On And Off The Mat Program” which introduces individuals in the corporate world to yoga and teaches how one can incorporate yoga into everyday life. She has a long history of working in mental health and with individuals that experience homelessness, and is currently exploring ways to bring yoga to both.

She continues to be a student of various types of yoga, yoga philosophy and theory.

You can learn more by contacting her at:

http://www.leslievilleyoga.ca/

241 Leslie Street (north of Dundas)
Toronto, Ontario , M4M 3C8
Phone: (416) 838-9461
leslievilleyoga@yahoo.ca

32 yoga tips from Swami Sivananda!

 

Tip # 32: Inverted V – Sun Salutation, posture #8

Exhale, tucking your toes under and raising your hips to come into the inverted V. Do not move your hands or feet as you come into the position.


Tip # 31: Arch your chest – Sun Salutation, posture #7

Inhale as you slide your body forward and bring your hips down to the floor. Arch your chest forward and tilt your head back. Slightly bend your elbows into your body.


Tip # 30: Lower Chest to the floor – Sun Salutation, posture #6

Exhale. Lower your knees to the floor and your chest straight down between your hands, without rocking your body. Bring your forehead to the floor (a beginner may need to lower the chin instead).


Tip # 29: Push-up Pose – Sun Salutation, posture #5

Retain the breath. Bring your left foot back, next to your right foot. Keep your spine straight and do not let your head or hips drop.


Tip # 28: Leg Back – Sun Salutation, posture #4

Inhale as you stretch your right leg back as far as possible and bend your right knee, lowering it to the floor. Stretch your head and look upward. Your hands should stay in the same position throughout the movement.


Tip # 27: Bend Over – Sun Salutation, posture #3

Exhale as you stretch forward and bend down into the third Sun Salutation position. Bring your hands down to the floor, and place them next to your feet, with the palms downward. Your hips should be kept as high as possible. If necessary, bend your knees so you can touch the ground. Tuck your forehead in toward your knees.


Tip # 26: Arch Back – Sun Salutation, posture #2

Inhale and stretch your arms up over your head. Arch your back so your hips come forward, and stretch as far is comfortable.


Tip # 25: Prayer pose – Sun Salutation, posture #1

Stand up straight with your feet together and your arms by your sides. Take a deep breath, and then exhale while bringing your palms together at chest level.


Tip # 24: Purpose of the Sun Salutation

The Sun Salutation is a 12-part warm-up exercise. It limbers up the body and mind in preparation for the ensuing yoga session. Each of the 12 positions brings a different vertebral movement to the spinal column and is tuned to the inhalation or exhalation of the breath, thereby instilling a feeling of balance and harmony. The positions follow one after the other, making this Salutation graceful to perform. Attempt to do at least six sequences at the start of every session.


Tip # 23: Neck Exercises

Relax your neck by combining these four exercises. Sit cross-legged and practice each set of neck exercises at least three times.
1. Back and forth. Drop your head back gently and then slowly drop it forward
2. Side to side. Tilt your head to the right shoulder, to the center, and to the left.
3. Turn your head. Turn your head to look over each shoulder in turn.
4. Circling. Inhale as you rotate your head to one side, exhale to the other.


Tip # 22: Eye Exercises

Exercising the eyes releasing any buildup of tension and aids relaxation. When practicing, keep your head still and move only your eyes.
a. Stare at your thumb in front of you, then look into the distance, Relax and repeat
b. With eyes wide, look from side to side 10 times, then up and down 10 times and then diagonally 10 times.
c. Finally, after rolling your eyes in circles in both directions, cup your hands over your eyes for 30 seconds and relax.


Tip # 21: Kapalabhati

This exercise, using rapid breathing, is believed to be such a powerful cleanser that the face literally “glows” with good health. Before beginning the exercise, relax by taking a few deep breaths. Perform 25 rapid “pumpings” in each round. Relax between rounds by breathing deeply. Try to do three rounds.


Tip # 20: Alternate Nostril Breathing

When you are comfortable with single nostril breathing (tip #19), begin alternate nostril breathing, where you practice retaining the breath for a count of 16. The action of alternate nostril breathing is physical, but the greatest benefit is the calmness and lucidity of mind that results. Try to perform at least 10 rounds daily for best results.
The steps to be observed are:
1. Inhale through the left nostril to a count of four
2. Close nostrils and hold breath to a count of 16
3. Exhale through the right nostril to a count of eight
4. Inhale through the right nostril to a count of four
5. Close nostrils and hold breath to a count of 16
6. Exhale through the left nostril to a count of eight


Tip # 19: Single Nostril Breathing

The object of practicing Yogic breath discipline, or “Pranayama”, is to increase physical and mental health. You can practice the breathing exercises on their own or integrate them into your program of Yoga Asanas. Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position, with your spine and neck straight, but not tense.
Hold your head erect and gently close your eyes. Use the fingers of the right hand to close off each nostril in turn. Hold them in a position called “Vishnu Mudra”. For “Vishnu Mudra”, extend the thumb, ring finger, and little finger of your right hand and fold down your other two fingers into your palm. Rest the left hand on your left knee.
Breathe through the left nostril. Close right nostril with thumb, and inhale through left nostril to a count of four. Exhale to a count of eight. Repeat 10 times. Breathe through the right nostril. Close left nostril with the two end fingers, and inhale through right nostril to a count of four. Exhale to a count of eight. Repeat 10 times.


Tip # 18: Full Yogic Breath

Place one hand on your lower ribcage and one on your abdomen. Breathe in, trying to fill the lowest part of your lungs, then the middle, and then the top. Feel your chest and abdomen expand.


Tip # 17: Sitting Properly

Adopt this posture for the breathing exercises in Tips 18 to 21. Sit cross-legged, aligning your head, neck, and spine. Keep your shoulders straight but relaxed. If you are a beginner, sit on a cushion. This lifts the hips and makes it easier to keep the back erect.


Tip # 16: Abdominal Breathing

Learn to breathe efficiently. Lie flat on your back, placing one hand on your abdomen. Start to inhale deeply, feeling your abdomen rise; then feel it fall as you exhale. Breathing slowly and deeply brings air to the lowest part of your lungs and exercises your diaphragm.


Tip # 15: How The Lungs Work

On an inhalation, your diaphragm (situated below the lungs) moves downwards. Air you breathe in through the nose is drawn down the trachea to the lungs, which are protected by the ribcage. If you are breathing properly, the abdomen and ribcage will expand as you inhale. On an exhalation, your diaphragm moves upwards, compressing the lungs and pushing air out of them. The air passes back up through the trachea and out through the nostrils.


Tip # 14: The Importance Of Proper Breathing

Breathing gives life. Without oxygen no human cell can live for more than a few minutes. Many people use only part of thier full breathing capacity, taking in about one third of the oxygen that thier lungs could use. This leads to stress and fatigue. The yogic breathe discipline teaches you to breathe through the nose, to accentuate exhalation rather than inhalation, to cleanse the lungs and eliminate toxins. These techniques increase your physical and mental health.


Tip # 13: Balancing Both Sides Of The Body

Many of our regular daily habits tend to emphasize the use of one part or side of the body. To achieve a healthy and harmonious balance, it is important to keep all parts of the body equally strong and flexible. Yoga exercises make each group of muscles work equally on the left and right sides of the body to achieve equilibrium.


Tip # 12: Know Your Body’s Capablities

Before you begin your yoga asanas, it is important to recognize your body’s capabilities. Never force your body into a posture or try to go beyond your limit. Remember, yoga is not a competitive sport. Progress may be slow, but with time your body will become flexible. Ease yourself gently into each position and when you are holding a pose, check the body to see if you can feel tension building up anywhere. If you do, consciously try to relax that tension using the breath.


Tip # 11: Each Session: How Long?

For maximum benefit, you should set aside about 90 minutes. When you are busy, try a shorter session with fewer asanas. It is very important not to feel rushed, and to allow time for relaxation between poses. You can always perform the breathing exercises at a later stage.


Tip # 10: When & Where To Practice

Try to practice yoga everyday. At the same time, be gentle. Do not force yourself. A yoga session should be a joy. Set aside a time when you will not be disturbed and you will not have to rush. Morning practice helps loosen up stiff joints after sleep. Evening practice releases the tensions of the day. Whenever you practice yoga, avoid eating for at least two hours beforehand.


Tip # 9: What You Need

You do not need special equipment to practice yoga. Although you can buy foam yoga mats, a towel on a carpeted floor will do just as well. For practicing indoors, you will need an open space, clear of furniture. The room should be comfortably heated and free of disturbances.


Tip # 8: The Importance Of A Teacher

Whether you are learning yoga singly or in a group, it is always best to be supervised by a qualified teacher. A teacher will demonstrate how to ease your body gently into and out of the yoga postures and, most importantly, how to breathe correctly when holding a balance. He or she will ensure that you do not strain your limbs, and will help you to align your body in the asanas.


Tip # 7: Positive Thinking & Meditation

Meditation is a state of consciousness. When practicing meditation, you must first learn how to calm the mind, and focus your mental energy inwards. Meditation can help to relieve stress and replenish your energy. If it is practiced on a daily basis, you will also find it will enable you you to think more clearly and positively, and to be at peace with yourself.


Tip # 6: Proper Diet

The recommended diet for a student of yoga is a simple and wholesome vegetarian one, made up of natural foods that are easily digested. It keeps the body vital and healthy, and the mind calm and free from restless thoughts. Processed and tinned foods are to be avoided when possible.


Tip # 5: Proper Relaxation

The release of tension through relaxation is vital to keep the body healthy. Begin and end each session of yoga asanas with relaxation, and relax between postures. This allows the released energy to flow freely.


Tip # 4: Proper Breathing

Most people use only a fraction of thier breathing capacity. Proper breathing focuses on nasal breathing techniques to unlock energy and vitality. Breathing exercises concentrate on exhalation rather than inhalation, to cleanse the lungs of stale air and to eliminate toxins from your body.


Tip # 3: Proper Exercise: Yoga Asanas

The aim of proper exercise is to improve suppleness and strength. Each posture is performed slowly in fluid movements. Violent movements are avoided as they produce a build-up of lactic acid, causing fatigue.


Tip # 2: Check With Your Doctor

Yoga asanas can be practiced by young and old alike. While there is no one who should be excluded, check with your doctor before you begin a course if you suffer from a medical condition or have any doubts.


Tip # 1: What Is Yoga?

The word “yoga” means “union”. Yoga is a form of exercise based on the belief that the body and breath are intimately connected with the mind. By controlling the breath and holding the body in steady poses or “asanas”, yoga creates harmony.
Yoga practice consists of five key elements: proper breathing, proper exercise, proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation. The exercises, or asanas, are designed to ease tense muscles, to tone up the internal organs, and to improve the flexibility of the body’s joints and ligaments.