Tag Archives: alignment

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 9)

What constitutes success with Yoga? There are many implications regarding the shift from traditional to modern perspectives on the nature of Yoga. In relation to modern Yoga and its shift from traditional Yoga, there are two main perspectives worth considering as far as the success of each:

  • According to the modern or contemporary view, the success of Yoga is judged by an improved state of the physical body and the reduction of physical disease.
  • According to the ancient view, the success of Yoga is judged by the degree to which one experiences realization of the eternal (or higher) Self, which is beyond the physical body, its maladies, and its inevitable death.

Today yoga is often seen as a medical treatment, as if it was reduced to a physical therapy program. There are even efforts to have modern yoga covered by insurance programs, using it as a treatment for specific diseases. While this may be good for the physical health of people, it tends to convince people that yoga is only a physical program.

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 9)

Useful treatment modalities such as Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are very effective and needed professions. However, designing such treatment methods and calling them "Yoga" is a huge disservice to both those professions and to yoga.

Remember, the sole purpose of yoga is spiritual in nature. Yoga is a systematic program whose sole purpose is spiritual, whether you call it enlightenment, Self-realization, or other similar terms. The purpose for working with the physical body is so that the body is not an obstacle in certain yoga practices such as meditation, contemplation, and prayer. Obstacles to these spiritual practices are naturally minimized (or completely removed) in the process of following the traditional teachings of yoga.

Yoga is now often prescribed for its side-effects and this leads to a confusion of goals. The goal of traditional Yoga is spiritual in nature, and the side effects regularly include physical healing. In modern times, when yoga techniques are being practiced for their side-effects, the real goal is usually being ignored.

By developing physical therapy programs and labeling them “yoga,” and by focusing on one small aspect of yoga (the physical), we find that the whole, greater, truer meaning of yoga is lost to anyone who would seek the higher ground.

It would be so much clearer if classes that are predominantly about asanas (postures) were called asana classes instead of yoga classes, though this isn't likely to happen.

Imagine for a moment that you were to go to a lecture by a yoga scholar, but the promotional material only announced that he was going to teach a “yoga class.” People would likely show up with their mats and/or other paraphernalia. But he might be giving a lecture on yogic contemplation, or jnana Yoga. What if people showed up to find it was a two hour religious ritual led by a Hindu pandit or a Buddhist priest, rather than a class about asanas.

Doesn’t it seem strange that one small part of yoga called asanas gets elevated to the status of using the whole or all-encompassing name yoga? The same is true of other parts, which together, comprise yoga. Remember Bhakti Yoga is only a part, as is Hatha Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Laya Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Nada Yoga, Raja Yoga, Tantra Yoga, etc. They are all parts and “Yoga” is the whole.

Stay tuned, this series will continue – coming up next; “Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 10),” which will deal with the touchy subject of using the subtle methods and powers of yoga as a money making technique.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

How the Benefits of Yoga Transcend Conventional Exercise Regimes

Yoga starts by learning how to develop self-awareness and feel good about the physical body. It shapes and tones the body, helps with flexibility and the development of balance and strength, but it doesn’t end there. Additionally, it helps you become more focused in life and discover your inherent happiness. It slows down your thoughts, and quieting the mind helps the mind and body relax and be at peace.

But, for yoga to be more than a physical work out, you’ll need to skip the trendy yoga classes that are almost entirely focused on weight loss, or looking hot, and commit to a high-quality practice that encompasses more of yoga’s original teachings.

Conventional exercise trends such as Zumba, Tae Bo, Jazzercise, P90X and Insanity may come and go. And sadly, many styles of yoga (especially in the West) fall into this category. They promise a “quick fix” and eliminate the details and the depth of a thorough yoga practice. This “workout” style of yoga can be a popular entry point for students, however, it often leaves them unsatisfied (sometimes injured) and seeking more. Instead of seeking instant gratification and a hasty means to a temporary state of health, try a quality, “full spectrum” yoga for a full, meaningful and safe experience.

“Full-Spectrum” Yoga Practice:

Most serious students, at some point, need depth in their yoga practice to achieve optimal health and wellness along with long-lasting results. If your practice is purely physical, you’ll probably get bored and burn out quickly. Yoga that provides both insight and fitness is a great way to maintain a balanced practice with profound depth. This way you get fit and continuously learn and evolve while having an enjoyable experience. A properly taught and guided yoga practice is designed to provide deep insights on alignment along with techniques that bring your attention to the simplicity of the breath. After such a practice session you feel more grounded in both your body and your mind. It’s this experience of a mind-body connection that often produces those endorphins that makes you feel blissed-out and provide a real depth and richness in your practice.

A good yoga practice accompanied by proper guidance and instruction from an experienced, registered yoga teacher (ERYT) will help you to find (and apply) the value of its teachings in everyday life. Unlike a simple work-out program, yoga classes often have a specific focus or theme (intention) that is interwoven throughout an asana sequence. Themes can take a variety of purposes, such as balance/centering, calming/relaxing, breathing/meditation, healing/therapeutic, etc. When you practice with a vision and intention, it gives you insights and a purpose that goes well beyond the physical poses.

How the Benefits of Yoga Transcend Conventional Exercise Regimes

Remember that your physical body will go through many different evolutions over time as you grow with your yoga practice. Some asanas and techniques you will achieve with relative ease, others you won’t. Keep it fun, and they’ll be a great way to keep your vitality. A strong yoga practice teaches you to cherish life and the things that matter most to you.

There is no limit to the ways you can approach most asanas. The subtle nuances that you can observe will work to advance your practice. Through mindfulness and awareness, you’ll find revelations in your body that are fascinating and keep you longing for more. When you intellectualize the physical postures and your approach to them, you can rethink and rework them, attaining a healthy alignment.

Overall, everyone wants to be healthy, fit and at their best. Working out using conventional methods like those typically found in a gym or fitness center is not a bad thing if done intelligently. In fact, yoga can be a great workout in itself or can be used to supplement and amplify other physical forms of exercise. So, it would be fine to say that fitness is an important part of most modern yoga systems, but it is only one part of a very dynamic process. Yoga practice can become an awesome way to align all the facets of your life so that you feel healthy and whole, while simultaneously exploring and exercising self-awareness and self-control. Yoga enables us to transcend our lower instincts and harness the true power of transformation.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Yoga and Muscle Conductivity

Muscle conductivity is simply the ability to conduct impulses, either electrical or chemical, along the muscle membrane.

Muscles enable you to move. The muscles in your arms lift and pull. Muscles in your legs help you stand, walk and run. Thumb muscles help you to hold things. Muscles in your chest help you to breathe. You have more than 600 muscles and muscle groups in your body. Muscles help us to move if we don’t have muscles we can’t move of our own free will.

Muscles function in many aspects of the body. There are three basic types of muscles:

  1. 1. Skeletal muscles function to move your body during any activity such as walking, etc.
  2. 2. Smooth muscle is found in your blood vessels and can regulate blood flow.
  3. 3. Cardiac muscle is what your heart is made of and is necessary to pump blood to all of your body.

One purpose of the skeletal muscles is to allow movement of the limbs, whereas the smooth muscles keep the body functions going. Also, the heart is a four chambered cardiac muscle, whose sole purpose is to pump blood round our bodies and keep us alive.

Traditional yoga from the ancient East didn’t emphasize how yoga can sculpt one’s body, but it definitely was all about the mind-body connection. Much of the West has evolved yoga to its own purposes, adapting it to the modern world. Originally, yoga was a way of life and being, rather than a way to look better in clothes. Nonetheless, whenever we look at a typical “yoga-crafted body,” we can’t help but admire their limber physique.

Many now believe that yoga, however, is a more balanced approach to strengthening and toning than resistance training and weight lifting. For one, it trains conscious muscle conductivity and conditions your body to perform things you do every day: walking, sitting, bending, lifting. Your body moves in the way it was designed to move.

As our understanding of the human body as a matrix of electromagnetic and chemical energies deepens, we come to see that the fascia or connective tissue (structuring, sheathing and interconnecting our circulatory system, nervous system, muscular-skeletal system, digestive track, organs and cells) is actually an energetic communication system dependent on conductivity.

The collagen that most of the connective tissue in your body is comprised of is liquid crystalline in nature. Liquid crystals (known to be semi-conductors) are designed to conduct energy in similar way that wiring system in your house conducts electricity. They are also able to send, receive, store and amplify energy signals, almost like your high-speed internet connection.

Because our fascia interconnects every system in the body, it provides a basis for both information and energy transfer beyond purely chemical origins. That is to say; while we’ve traditionally thought of communication in the body as mechanical (where chemical molecules fit into receptors like a key into a lock), we now realize we can open the lock much faster with energy (like remote control devices).

Yoga seeks to open and release the tightest places in our bodies (connective tissue, joints, ligaments and tendons) which routinely become tight and restricted through injuries, repetitive stress, poor postural habits and even emotional trauma. The amount of neural conductivity it takes to do just one simple action is huge, and any movement of the body requires an intense amount of brain power. As we perfect a physical skill, such as yoga asana most of this happens subconsciously. However, yoga can also teach you to have finer control over these movements and you progressively become more skilled.

Yoga helps better tune mind-body connection through conscious conductivity. Ultimately, yoga enhances the way you create motion and move through life. With proper yoga instruction and practice you can train yourself to become more aware and in control of all the physical actions you perform.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

How Well is Your Head and Heart Aligned?

One of our greatest strengths as humans lies in our unique ability to operate from either our head or our heart. Both our brain (with the ability to think) and our heart (with the ability to feel) are powerful organs that not only sustain life, but they are tools that can help us experience the world in a most profound way. New research has conclusively shown that we can “think” both with our brains and with our hearts and if (and when) we do that, we increase our ability to make better decisions. Aligning our heads and our hearts also greatly helps us to gain clarity, feel more flexible and resilient, plus it works to guide us toward a more balanced and peaceful life.

We experience this whenever we create coherence. Coherence is the state when our heart (along with its feelings/emotions) and our mind (along with its thoughts/logic) are in dynamic alignment and in cooperation with each other. Heart and mind coherence can be defined as the synchronization of our emotional, mental and physical systems, creating a high-energy, optimal state that has the ability to encourage, stimulate and produce positive outcomes whenever its combined force is concentrated.

This heart/mind alignment results in us feeling good, and when we feel good we generally do good. We fully engage life, with less stress and more energy. We have greater power to make better decisions, and all this comes from developing the awesome potential of our heads and hearts working in synchronicity.

Three tips on accomplishing this alignment.

  1. 1. Listen your heartbeat while breathing from your heart space. Begin by just slowing down and noticing the miracle that you are. Find a comfortable spot and sit quietly, taking slow, deep breaths and experience your own heartbeat. Be aware of its pulsing. Then try breathing from the heart center. Resist the temptation to force the breath, just breathe normally, but visualize each breath coming in and out of the heart center. This draws you from the head into the heart space and now the two can be engaged and aligned.
  2. 2. Always act with compassion. Compassion is a quality that manifests on a heart level and head level, it involved both thinking and feeling and when balanced it becomes a powerful force for good. You’ll notice it’s a deep feeling, precipitated by thought and understanding, it’s also an excellent way to create coherence. When you act compassionately, mentally visualize that emotion swelling out of your heart until your head and heart find their proper alignment.
  3. 3. Go beyond listening to just your heartbeat and try to hear what the heart has to say. It’s common to hear the inner voices coming from our head. They tend to be in the form of thoughts – analytical, critical and sometimes disparaging. Well, next time these inner voices arise, listen to what the heart has to say, likely these will be kind, compassionate, supportive words. Imagine your heart speaking directly to you and you may realize that in reality it’s sending us these signals continuously.

There are many ways of aligning your head and your heart to create the coherence mentioned above…Try this, next time you feel like you are too much “in-the-head” about something, pause, take a deep breath and merge those thoughts with the feelings arising from your heart center. Visualize these two aligning, creating a cooperative force designed to help ease your stress so that you can create a better thinking/feeling experience, subsequently enriching your life and all your activities.

Of related interest, click on: Meditation on the “Feeling” of Being

And: The Importance of Meditation to Yoga Practice

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

Principles of Health and Natural Healing

Our health is determined by factors that are created (in part) from our environment. Imagine a spinning wheel in which we are the center or hub; at the outer rim (or periphery) is our natural environment and all its associated energies, e.g.; the sun, the air, water, soil etc. Within this are the spokes, our more immediate environment which includes the geographical area of the earth we live in and its climate and further in it becomes more specific, whether we live in the city or the country, our chosen profession and social relations etc. It is within these very environments that we think, plan and act every day.

So our thoughts and our actions could very well be considered “products” of our environment, as well as the food we eat. Our food becomes a concentrated form of the environment that we internalize three or more times per day. Our everyday thoughts and actions constitute our “lifestyle” and this lifestyle determines our choice of food. And the reverse is true, the foods we choose to eat, in turn affect our lifestyle (thoughts and actions).

Now consider this; our environment, our lifestyle and the foods we eat all combine to create and maintain our current state of health. When we get these things in balance, when our lifestyle and diet are in harmony with our environment, we will experience optimal health. If however, we allow them to become unbalanced or extreme, we lose our harmonious relationship with our environment and sickness will probably be the result. If we persist in this, we will surely develop serious illness and/or chronic disease.

The principles of natural healing are based on positive change and balance. Change, being the law of life, is inevitable and constant. It’s the motivating force and the order of the universe. Fortunately, as manifestations of the universe, we humans have the built-in ability to cause or initiate change through our choices. Each and every one of us is granted the inherent power to change direction, leaving sickness behind and embarking on the road to health and wellness. But first, for healing to begin, we must realize and accept that change is possible and act upon that realization.

The old adage “we are what we eat!” starts to ring true, our daily food and drink really are the actual source of our physical makeup. Our entire bodies, our blood, our cells, muscles, organs, tissues, bones and glands are sustained and renewed by the transformation of the minerals, proteins, lipids, enzymes, water, and other nutrients that we consume on a daily basis. Therefore, whenever we consider any aspect of our physical health, it is necessary that we carefully review the choices we have made in regard to what we put in our bodies.

People are beginning to wake up to the fact that many of  today’s health problems are directly related to the repeated and continuous consumption of meat, eggs, cheese, poultry, and other animal-based foods. Cancers, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and a host of other chronic and deadly diseases are the result of two problems; quantity and quality. Let’s look at quantity; people are eating a lot more animal products now than they did several generations ago, far beyond what is reasonable even for meat eaters. Meats and other animal products have essentially become the mainstay of the modern American diet.

Looking at quality; today’s artificially inseminated, hormone boosted and antibiotic fed livestock bear little resemblance to their natural, grass fed, free range predecessors. The arrival of “Mad Cow” disease and the subsequent European community’s refusal to accept imports of hormone fed American beef emphasizes just how deadly (pun intended) serious these issues have become.

Commercially raised, indoor-caged poultry products, especially chickens and turkeys are becoming increasingly problematic; even more so since extensive advertizing has many people believing chicken and turkey to be “healthy” alternatives to red meat. These birds become so weak and susceptible to infections that they require regular doses of increasingly stronger antibiotics, just to keep them alive. Additionally, they are fed synthetic growth hormones to speed their growth and breast development. One result of these practices, according to one study, is that as up to 95% of the commercially raised chickens on their way to market have at least one type of cancer! Without a doubt, chickens from a modern poultry farm are not a health food as claimed by the industry.

Let’s just suppose someone we care about is facing a health crisis (and there might be more than one), and we know they are overly reliance on a diet of animal products. What can we do to help them change their situation into its opposite, one of healing and improving health? Obviously, the first step would be to encourage them to convert from an animal-based to a plant-based diet.

Contrary to animal products, plant-based foods enhance, rather than inhibit, healing and regeneration of tissue. Daily dietary choices are the central issue in our lifestyle as a whole. They can be viewed as a reflection of our priorities and our way of looking at society, nature, and the universe. Dietary change, combined with an understanding of harmony and balance, can serve as the focus, initiating a positive change in our lifestyle. Unhealthy choices can be reviewed and changed into healthy ones, and then they can be brought into proper alignment with natural harmony, befitting us and our environment.

Of related interest, click on the following…

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 1)

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 3)

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500 

Hatha or Ashtanga Yoga? A Beginning Student’s Dilemma

It is often quite confusing for those interested in beginning a regular yoga practice to choose from all the yoga studios online. Which style of yoga would be best suited for them, can be a major concern. Before they figure out which class they’d be most interested in taking, they need to know what the differences are. Discounting Bikrams, which is controversial (besides, all Bikrams is hot yoga, but all hot yoga is not Bikrams), the differences between the other styles aren’t so clear. Hatha and Ashtanga yoga may appear to the novice as the same style, but yet they are often found to be very different when put into actual practice.

Let’s start with Intensity

Hatha yoga is often used as an umbrella term that encompasses all styles of physical yoga practice, including Ashtanga, but yoga studios that typically promote the slower, gentler yoga classes are known as Hatha yoga. These less challenging classes are generally considered more appropriate for beginners. Even though Hatha classes are commonly taught at a relatively low intensity level, it is still best to speak with each individual instructor beforehand to decide if the class is right for you. Some yoga instructors teach Hatha yoga classes at a more strenuous level than others. Some studios assign a numerical value to the difficulty level, such as 1, 2 or 3, with level 3 being the most demanding class.

Flow (or pace)

In Sanskrit the word for flow is “Vinyasa” and this determines the difference between Hatha yoga and Ashtanga yoga in terms of the class’s structure. Whenever you see the word Vinyasa or flow added onto the end of the class or studio name, this probably means that you will be  moving from Asana (posture) to asana without stopping (or in a flow). This is usually the way Ashtanga yoga is taught. Hatha yoga, on the other hand typically goes into one asana, holds the pose, and then comes out of it after a determined amount of time. With Hatha yoga there isn’t any transition between each asana as there is in Ashtanaga yoga classes.

Primary Objectives of Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga practice focuses on perfecting the asanas and doing pranayama (breath control), to increase the flow of prana (life force) through the nadis (channels throughout the body through which the prana flows). Prana is similar to the concept of chi (or Qi). Pranayama is the scientific practice of first controlling and then directing the prana through breathing exercises. Hatha works to balance increase this flow of energy. Asana and pranayama practice are part of Ashtanga yoga as well, but they are only two of the “Eight Limbs” (aka branches or objectives) of Ashtanga.

So basically, when you join a Hatha class it means that you will get an easy, gradual introduction to the most basic yoga asanas and then strive to perfect them. It’s unlikely you’ll work up a sweat in a Hatha yoga class, but you probably will end up leaving the class feeling taller, looser, and more relaxed. Posture is also usually improved.

Primary Objective of Ashtanga Yoga

A student or practitioner of Ashtanga yoga not only works on asanas and pranayama but also all the other six limbs which are; yama (the do not’s), niyama (the do’s), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (bliss or effortless meditatio). The Yamas & Niyamas are yoga’s ten ethical guidelines and are the foundation of skillful living. Pratyahara is a means of withdrawing all sensory perceptions. Dharana, dhyana and samadhi are connected, being successive stages which lead to enlightenment.

Today, Ashtanga yoga is based on ancient yoga teachings that were popularized and brought to the West by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s. It’s a more rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures similar to Vinyasa yoga (both styles links every movement to a breath). Ashtanga performs the exact same asanas in the exact same ordered sequence. This can a hot, physically demanding practice and you will break a sweat.


Hatha Yoga has become the most popular style of Yoga in the United States. It focuses on the physical well-being of a person and teaches that the body is the vehicle of the spirit. There are lot of different Yoga Styles that have their roots Hatha Yoga, but all these styles strive to balance the mind, the body, and the spirit through the asanas, although the emphasis sometimes varies. Some put the emphasis on the strict alignment of the body while others focus on the coordination of breath and asana.

Ashtanga yoga may be the perfect yoga for those who want a serious workout. Students and participants move through a series of flows, sequencing from one asana to another in order to increase strength, flexibility and stamina. This is not for beginners or anyone who taks a casual approach to fitness. Ashtanga Yoga Practice involves performing challenging sequence of poses with Ujjayi Breathing and vinyasas (a flow of postures). “Power Yoga” is based on Ashtanga.

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500

Got Belly Fat? Yoga Asana Can Help!

Regular yoga practice can help greatly in the reduction of belly fat (superficial or subcutaneous fat) and fat deposits within in the body (visceral fat). Both these types of fat compromise our ideal appearance, but the visceral fat surrounds our internal organs, finding it way into our blood vessels (including the heart) and can pose some serious problems, even inhibit their function.

Superficial (subcutaneous) fat is often considered a “good fat” It’s the same type of fat,  that covers the face, arms, hips, and thighs. It can be pinched between the thumb and fingers and has certain health benefits, but only when it’s controlled.

There are several dynamic moves which can be added to the asanas which help in the reduction of the belly fat, such as twists and elongations.

Surya namaskar (Sun Salutation) helps to provide exercise for the whole body and helps the stomach to be free itself of fat while at the same time toning the body. Surya namaskar helps to improve flexibility of the spine and makes the limbs more flexible. While toning the entire body it burns extra cholesterol deposited around (and inside) the belly region.

Deep breathing exercises help to burn extra fat which is deposited around and in various organs of the body. Stomach lifts up and down along with proper breathing exercises show exceptional results in relatively short amount of time.

Now, on to some beneficial asanas…

Marjarasana (Cat Cow Pose) – Cat cow pose is sometimes referred to as simply the Cat pose. It’s another of the most effective yoga stomach exercises. It’s easily performed by beginners and leaves you feeling open and stretched. This is one of the few yoga stomach exercises that is safe for pregnant women. Move your body with your breath while performing this exercise for the best results.

Benefits: Cat cow pose is one of the best yoga stomach exercises for conditioning the abdominal muscles and increasing flexibility of the spine. It tones the abdominal wall and massages the internal organs. The exercise also helps clear out emotional baggage.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) – This baby backbend can help compensate for all those hours spent hunched in front of a computer. Be patience as you learn the proper foundations of this pose, such as how to work the legs, pelvis, chest, arms, and especially the belly.

Benefits: Greatly assists in keeping the dorsal spine elastic and strong. Backache due to overstrain can be thus relieved. Also, helps considerably in reducing abdominal fat.

Navasana (Boat Pose) – The body comes into a V-shape, balancing entirely on the buttocks. In different variations and traditions, the arms legs and torso may take different positions.You may perform the boat pose with or without the assistance of yoga props.

Benefits: This asana strengthens the abdominal muscles, the legs and the lower back. It is said to relieve stress, improve digestion and aid the abdominal organs: kidneys, thyroid, prostate and intestines, plus

Improve Your Posture with Yoga

Would you like to stand straighter or appear taller? Then read on, yoga can help. No matter what your actual height is, by correcting your posture you’ll add the attractiveness of extra elegance and poise. In reality, yoga is not going to make you grow, but it can noticeably lengthen your spine, improve your posture, making you look taller, thinner, and that will surely give you more confidence.

Postural problems are often caused by spending too much time each day slumped at your desk, hunched over a computer terminal at work, or driving a car. Confidently carrying yourself upright and walking with a nice stride, raises your stature in both height and overall appearance. And there are some yoga asanas (poses) that are sure to help you achieve that desired improvement and make you look slimmer, taller and more agile.  

Actualizing that near perfect posture with yoga asana…

Certain yoga poses when practiced regularly will not only tend to improve/correct your posture, but they may well be the solution to help you when shedding those extra pounds off your weight chart. Hold each and every asana for a few seconds in the beginning and gradually increase the time to a minute as you progress. The longer you can retain a yoga asana in its correct form (with focused attention and proper breathing), the greater your reward will be.

Here are some asanas to practice for postural improvements…

Paschima Namaskarasana (Reverse Prayer Pose) – This asana of doing namaskar from the opposite (back) side strengthens the shoulders, shoulder blades, arms all the way down to the frontal finger joints. When you practice this pose regularly your upper back and shoulders become more flexible and strong, lengthening and straightening your spine, as well.

Marjariasana (Cat/Cow Pose) – Based on a cat’s spine stretching exercises, regular practice of Cat/Cow Asana keeps your spine supple and strong, helping to ward off any injury. It relieves any tension in your lower back, purifies the blood and increases its flow to the spine and the internal organs.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose) – This dog-like stretching asana focuses mainly on the upper back. It calms the brain, reducing stress and depression when it’s done regularly. Downward Dog helps to eliminate back pain, insomnia, fatigue and even relieves menopause symptoms. Along strengthening the hands, legs, shoulders and calves this asana has also proven to be therapeutic for asthma, sciatica, and high blood pressure.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Dog Pose) – This asana greatly improves your overall posture while it strengthening your wrists, arms and spine. It energizes your chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen while stimulating your internal organs. Regular practice firms up your buttocks.

Parivrtta parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose with a Twist) – This asana plays an considerable role in healing, stretching and strengthening your legs, ankles, groins, chest, lungs, shoulders, spine and abdomen. Regular practice enhances stamina, improves digestion (eliminates acidity) and restores proper balance.

Purvottanasana (Inclined Plane Pose) – Done on a slanting plank, this pose strengthens your wrists, arms and legs. Furthermore, it works on your chest, shoulders and the front of your ankles. It also works well to offset fatigue.

Ustrasana (Camel Pose) – This pose centers on strengthening your wrists, ankles, thighs, groins, shoulders, spine, chest and your stomach.  It’s extremely helpful in improving posture; strengthening back muscles, hip flexors and it activates the internal organs in the abdomen.

Managing Sciatica With Yoga

It is common knowledge that yoga is now a well established (and complementary) approach to managing a wide range of neurological and orthopedic afflictions. And the effectiveness of yoga applies even to the easing of sciatic nerve pain.

Along with being an excellent solution to alleviate pain and improve range of motion, regular yoga practice also works well to relieve the torment for those who suffer from sciatica, a pain (often intense) in the lower back running all the way down the leg. Yoga asanas (poses) that focus on the twisting and bending of the spine combined with stretching and strengthening of the muscles greatly helps to improve both spinal alignment and overall flexibility, this generally results in the reduction of the pressure on the sciatic nerve itself. These benefits are amplified when yoga practice is complemented by medical therapy.

What actually is Sciatica?

Sciatica is generally symptomatic of orthopedic/neurological conditions such as a herniated disk, lumber spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, actual sciatic nerve injury and/or piriformis syndrome. Sciatic nerve compression results and that cause inflammation accompanied by pain and limited of movement. The Sciatic nerve is the largest and longest single nerve in the human body, originating in the lower spine and extending all the way down the back of the leg to the toes. Sciatic nerve pain is typically felt in the lower back, subsequently radiating into the buttock and down the back of the leg.

Yoga benefits for Sciatica relief…

Sciatic pain often hampers daily activities and may even become debilitating to the point of leading to a sedentary life for those that suffer the condition. The more movement is restricted by the pain, the worse the muscles stiffen and that further complicates the problems. Alternatively, gentle yoga asanas stretch and relax the affected muscles, promoting greater flexibility and improving the body range of movement.

Regular yoga practice will help achieve:

Improved spinal stability, alignment and posture.

The release of undue nerve compression and inflammation.

Strengthening of the muscles of the spine, hips, groin and inner thighs.

Increases sense of body balance.

Stimulation of the nervous system to function optimally.

Improved blood circulation to the back, hips and legs providing sufficient nutrients and oxygen to muscles.

Recommended yoga poses for relieving the pain of sciatica:

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana): Strengthens the lower back and hips. The stretching of the muscles from this area releases the tension and improves muscle functioning and imparts improved range of motion.

Locust Pose (Salabhasana): This asana has a therapeutic application, soothing the sciatic nerve pain. This back bending posture stretches the muscles of the spine and buttocks, releasing tension and increasing the blood supply to hip area.

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): Strengthens the spine and firming the buttocks providing com

Yoga to Improve Breast Appearance

No need to hide your droopy breasts by wearing push up bras any more. If you’re looking for a good solution for saggy breasts, try yoga practice. Yoga asana can give your breasts excellent lift and refined contour.

A woman’s breasts are generally taken as an indication of her overall beauty and body fitness. Sagging or drooping breasts can take away your confidence and make you feel overly self-conscious, especially if you’re in the nude or in loose fitting, skimpy clothes. This can also lower your self-esteem. In these situations, you may be tempted to fall victim to all the ads and commercials claiming to tone and firm breasts, going so far as opting for cosmetic breast lifting surgery. Things like padded bras and other absurd “boob boosters” are not only expensive but also cumbersome to wear.

Maintaining proper physical posture, regular breathing exercises and practicing mediation will all help to achieve a more perfect body appearance, so you can walk gracefully with a nice youthful body presence.

Breast toning can be a problem in itself. Sagging breasts are a common complaint among aging women. However, many women notice it to a great extent after pregnancy, breastfeeding, and/or losing weight. Breasts are primarily made up of fatty tissues and milk producing glands, but they lack muscle mass. This makes it nearly impossible to tone or shape the loose skin in sagging breasts. When breast tissues are no more capable of holding your breasts up, the result is saggy boobs. So, this begs the question; what you can do to improve your bust-line?

There are yoga asanas that can firm, tone and strengthen the underlying muscles that your breasts rest upon. Stretching and strengthening the upper chest muscles (pectorals) and the chest muscles surrounding the breasts will tighten and lift them up. Regular yoga practice works for nearly all breast problems and bestows a more curvaceous look.

Yoga asana practice is a completely natural method which has direct impact in improving both breast shape and breast health. Yoga exercises, especially those with special stretching techniques help to streamline top-heavy figures and give breasts a “perkier” look. Good breast shape with enhanced cleavage can heighten your sense of feeling beautiful, plus it boosts your confidence.

Yoga Asanas to Tighten and Firm Breasts…

The yoga asanas (poses) outlined below stretch and open the chest, helping to strengthen the chest muscles and subsequently tighten and firm the breasts, greatly improving their appearance.

Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose): Reclined inversion stretches the chest and opens up the sternum.

Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle pose): Extended lateral stretch expands your chest and shoulders.

Bhujangasana (Cobra pose): Intense backbend with raised hood stretches pectoral muscles and expands the chest.

Dwikonasana (Double angle pose): Backward stretching followed by forward bend gives a great stretch to the chest.

Dhanurasana (Bow pose): A basic back-bend stretches the entire chest.

Virabhadrasana (Warrior I): An intermediate standing posture causes the chest to open.

Viprita Karani (Inverted leg stretch): Legs up the wall position reverses the effect of gravity on breasts.

More Useful Tips for Healthy Breasts (in addition to yoga asana)…