Yoga an easy guide to yoga
You don't have to start speaking in foreign tongues (Sanskrit); you don't have to worry about your friends ever hearing you say "mindfulness"; you don't have to wear thigh-clinging capris, and you don't have to carry around a rolled-up mat like you're going to a camp out.
You don't have to join the New Age, age-old practice/exercise/philosophy/art of yoga to get its benefits.
Here are some simple and commitment-free yoga techniques that you can use to improve your health anytime you want, no strings - and no head-wraps - attached.
Get your shoulders away from your ears. When we tense up, we tend to assume a posture with the shoulders rising toward the ears. Stephanie Miller, owner of BambooMoves yoga studio in Englewood, NJ, explains that this command, which "doesn't have a specific name","serves as a stretch to alleviate pain and tension in the upper back and shoulders where the trapezius muscles are located and opens the chest. This stretch also helps to correct posture and alignment of the spine."
Keep your tailbone tucked in. Unless you're J.Lo, you'll look better, for one. More importantly, this move is thought to improve your posture, allow your spine to lengthen and stretch, and engage your stomach muscles. "Be sure to not 'squeeze the buttocks'", Stephanie cautions, "as this adds unnecessary tension in the body; but rather tighten and engage the top half of your buttocks, not the lower half."
Yoga Positions Breathe deeply and fully. "Bringing awareness to your breath and learning how to breathe deeply from the abdomen will not only help us to stay healthy and improve our circulation, but it also calms and clears the mind." explains Stephanie.
"Some simple techniques to bring awareness to our breath are to imagine the breath moving with the belly. When we are at ease, the diaphragm is the primary engine of the breath. As we inhale, this dome-like muscle descends toward the abdomen, displacing the abdominal muscles and gently swelling the belly. As we exhale, the diaphragm releases back toward the heart, enabling the belly to release toward the spine. Closing the eyes, relax the jaw, throat, neck, and shoulders, then begin to picture this wavelike movement of the belly expanding on the inhale and then releasing inward on the exhale, consciously trying to make your exhales longer than your inhales. In our most relaxed state, the end of each exhalation is punctuated by a short pause, lingering in this blissful state of emptiness can be deeply gratifying…"
Be Mindful. (I stand by the fact that you really don't have to use the term "mindful"…Just Pay Attention!)
Just be aware - of what's happening right now. Don't let life's moments simply pass you by. "The Buddha advocated", (No, you don't have to conceive of "Buddha" either, just of Stephanie, a dedicated yoga instructor explaining how to be present), "that one should establish mindfulness in one's day-to-day life, maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one's bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself… We can start to become more mindful, by taking in our surroundings and environment and noticing the way our bodies and minds react in certain situations. From this, we can start to change our actions, become calmer, more peaceful, and more present to those around us."
For its followers, yoga is mind, body, spirit. For everyone else, it's simple - Stand up straight, breathe, and pay attention - simply healthy. Namaste.
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