Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning "the union of self with the universal Supreme Spirit / God",   
It can be used as a Spiritual Practice or just a form of Exercise.      

This 5,000 year old ancient Indian system of education for the body and mind is a practical aid, not a religion or a cult.  Although, yoga originates in India, it is a spiritual science that can benefit any cultural background as we must remember not to confuse religion with spirituality. 

The principals of yoga educate one to relax the mind (meditation and breathing) so the body will follow, and to use the physical body by performing asanas in a way (breathing and stretching) to relax and open the mind.

Yoga is based on a system of asanas (a Sanskrit word meaning "steady pose"), which are exercises and poses performed while using conscious yogic nasal only breathing to improve flexibility of both body and mind, mental concentration, balance, and strength, as well as, balancing emotions, toning and rejuvenating the muscles and nervous system, improving circulation, and massaging the bodies internal organs and glands.

"One must not confuse an Asana teacher with a Yoga teacher." 

An asana teacher
is one who instructs only in the physical postures and exercises from the ancient science of yoga, getting only physical benefits. 

A Yoga teacher is an enlightened soul that guides students on the spiritual life path that they live, awakening the consciousness while using the ancient asanas of yoga to assist in this spiritual opening and growth with also safely receiving fitness benefits for body and mind.  

Chiropractors and Doctors are now reporting a high increase of so called yoga injuries.  Why is this so?  Because many people are only practicing Asana.  No one has ever injured themselves practicing YOGA, but people have injured themselves doing an Asana class.   Without Yoga or Union of mind, body and spirit, the student is disconnected from the wise inner guide and unable to stop before injury happens. When the Yoga/Union connection is strong the inner guide spares us from harm. 

Yoga is known to help one overcome bodily imbalances and injuries, but if one does not understand the basic principals of postural alignment when practicing yoga, injuries and body problems may result over time.  One should not attempt to practice yoga on his own, until there is a full comprehension of yoga from a highly experienced and trained teacher to prevent self induced injury from improper form or lack of union. Tell your teacher about any injuries or limitations you may have so modified poses can be taught and also so they may guide you away from poses that may cause harm and towards poses which may help. 


How do I know if I have an Asana teacher or a Yoga Teacher?

Interview your teacher before you enlist them as your guide.  Ask them "How long they have practiced" ( 8 plus years is good),  "How long have they been teaching?" ( 5 plus years with a prior 8 plus years of practice is very good)   "What therapeutic background they may have?" (i.e. massage therapist, physical therapist, personal trainer... all indicate a formal education of the physiology; a must for safety and alignment.) and ask them "If they have their own personal daily yoga and meditation practice?"( Yes is the only answer you want). 

If  they have a loving presence and soft nature you are witnessing the sincerity of their intention in being a true Yoga teacher.  Get to know them a bit and you will have a sense of them and if they feel compatible to you.  If they are not incorporating breathing exercises and meditation you are probably in the presence of an asana teacher, a very good one most likely, but still an asana teacher.  If an Asana teacher is all you want then go for it and be very careful about injuries.  Do your homework and make an educated decision.  




 HOW CAN YOGA HELP BACK PROBLEMS.

There are many things about yoga which can help back health.  The slow stretching can elongate muscles to create space between the vertebra of the spine to alleviate pinching of nerves or compression of discs.  But stretching will only give temporary relief for some people. Strength in the muscles of the back along with the stretch will prove long term benefit.  Once the vertebra are decompressed and space is created, strengthening poses will give the body the ability to hold that space open.

Not only must one strengthen the back but also their core.  Yoga is all about core. There are very few poses in yoga which do not involve either strengthening or stretching the core.  One wants a strong core but if it is not flexible it can also cause imbalance in the body as well as make one more susceptible to injury especially in sports.  Appropriate pelvic tilting during poses, which is always involved in core work, will begin to reset the pelvis for optimal postural alignment.  Now the spine can rest upon a balanced foundation (the pelvis) and begin to correct itself over time.  How can one expect a healthy back when its foundation is crooked.

In addition to stretch and strength yoga attends to the mind. Relieving mental and emotional stresses relax the body from tight muscles.  Our mental and emotional states directly effect the muscular body.  The body follows the mind. When the mind tenses so does the body. Emotions such as anxiety, fear, worry, anger and frustration, just to name a few, cause havoc in the physical body. 

The back emotionally represents the support of life. Emotionally when one feels lack of support or love in life the upper back tends to become stressed and strained.  The middle back holds emotions of guilt and getting things off our backs. Then we have the lower back which is upset from financial stress and fear of money.  Many students with back issues not from physical injury when surveyed all agreed their area of back pain was in alignment of these body mind principles proving them to be true.

Our bodies can be thrown out of balance and into pain from three things.

1 )  Physical - accidents, falls, sports injuries, over or under or improper exercise and the adaptation or residue accumulated without proper therapy post physical trauma etc...

2)  Mental and Emotional - stress, strain, trauma, anger, misaligned thinking etc...

3) Chemical - foods, nutrients, environmental pollutants, drug use of any kind, chemical products used for body hygiene etc...
 

 

A TYPICAL YOGA SESSION:


Whether you are participating in a Yoga class or an Asana class you will be putting in the same amount of time ( 60 -90 minutes), but reaping much different results.  Asana class addresses the body only, while Yoga class influences body, mind, emotions, and spirit on all levels.


Each yoga session starts with centering of the mind with alternate nostril breathing followed meditation. 

After this one starts and maintains nasal only breathing called Ujayee or Victory Breath to relax the mind, oxygenate and warm the body muscles to prevent injury and to prepare for deep stretching. 

Next loosening of the muscles and joints begins with simple flowing exercises and poses to build heat within the body and core then gradually the poses evolve into more difficult ones. A meditative state of mind ( a quiet mind) is maintained during practice, so that our spiritual life is evolved.  This quiet mind allows our false ideas of self to drop away and our perfect spiritual self is awakened and allowed to come to the surface so that we may live our life from this truth of who we really are

Throughout the yoga routine the student, in connection with spirit, consistently checks in with their body making adjustments with their routine so that they can honor the needs of their body in every breath to avoid hurting themselves. 

The routine continues with more stretching and strengthening poses that work one's core and enhances stability of the joints with balancing poses.  Then some twisting asanas and abdominal work are done at the end for strength but mostly to help reset and rebalance the sacrum and lower back, so that one feels posturaly centered after practice.. This ab work is not like traditional work. They are slow exercises that isolate abdominals and works them isometricly as to relax the lower back.  Rapid crunches and other quick ab work are fine for other types of exercise routines but not very suitable for yoga.

The abdominal exercises are most important because they are the muscles that are located at the center of the body and are responsible for keeping balance. These muscles are strengthened last because they are needed in almost every pose for optimal balance which will in turn prevent injuries. If the stomach was exercised first it would be too fatigued to provide adequate balance for the entire yoga routine, thus resulting in possible injury to the lower back. This principal also goes for integrating abdominal work with any type of sport; always do abdominal strengthening last

Finally the yoga routine winds down having stretched all muscle groups in a balanced way. For example, the hamstring (back of thigh) is not stretched without also stretching the quadriceps (front of thigh) to maintain centeredness and balance throughout the body.

Every session ends with a brief meditation to quiet the mind (no chanting or such is mandatory), then a relaxation pose is done for 10 minutes allowing the body to rest, renew, reset and integrate the yoga.  This allows the body to shift so that the student is not the same person they were when the began the class.  They leave a new person, and up leveled person in both body and mind but not spirit.  Spirit is unchanging.  It is, has and ever shall be perfect whole and complete.  Our evolution happens in mind, so that we can wake up and become fully aware of our spiritual perfection that is already going on within us. 

PRINCIPLES OF ALIGNMENT
This is the key to an effective beneficial yoga session. There are specific principles of alignment for the arms, legs, hands and feet, as well as the pelvic tilt and head position. Without these principles applied one can cause injury to the body. These principles are not only for yoga but for all body movement in any form of exercise. The lack of knowledge of these principles when exercising, is the reason for many body issues which people complain of.

It does not matter what your body issues are as long as you apply these principles your body will begin to heal. Whether your feet turn in or turn out when you walk, these principles will correct both issues.

Students who have practiced yoga for years not knowing proper alignment find a huge advancement in their health when learned and applied.

These vital principles of alignment are emphasized in great detail with all of Janise's yoga classes.

Developing a self awareness and communication between the body and the mind is an important aspect of yoga.
The goal is re-learning how to listen to what the body is telling the mind. Our bodies talk to us all the time telling us what it wants or needs such as what foods would be most nourishing and healing for us at a particular meal, or it tells us that the body is tired and to rest or not push so hard. It also communicates when we feel a cold coming on and to take care of ourselves, instead of putting in an extra 4 hours at work, or when we are thirsty for water instead of hungry for food ( a signal many times misinterpreted by most overweight people).

Also in yoga, listening to the body is important so that we do not over-stretch and hurt the body, as many do because their ego has to be competitive with the self and/or others in class.

By developing an understanding of our body's language or intuition ( being in-tune) we can enhance every aspect of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual lives.  As we develop our intuition practicing yoga, we begin to trust it so we make better choices not just when practicing yoga, but in every aspect of our lives.


 

5 POINTS OF YOGA:


These 5 principles constitute the essence of Janise's teachings of YOGA for Body, Mind and Spirit Health .

To clarify the science of Yoga and make it accessible to the majority of seekers, Swami Vishnu-devananda extracted its essence and presented it in these universal principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth.

1. PROPER  EXERCISE (Asanas)

Our physical body is meant to move and exercise. If our lifestyle does not provide natural motion of muscles and joints, then disease and great discomfort will ensue with time. Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life.

 2. PROPER BREATHING (Pranayama)
Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity.

3. PROPER RELAXATION  (Savasana)

Long before the invention of cars, planes, telephones, computers, freeways and other modern triggers of stress, the Rishis (sages or seers) and Yogis of yore devised very powerful techniques of deep relaxation. As a matter of fact, many modern stress-management and relaxation methods borrow heavily from this tradition. By relaxing deeply all the muscles the Yogi can thoroughly rejuvenate his nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace.

4. PROPER DIET (Vegetarian)

Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind. For maximum body-mind efficiency and complete spiritual awareness, Yoga advocates a lacto-vegetarian diet. This is an integral part of the Yogic lifestyle. Fish is acceptable as a part of this diet for those who do not want to give up dense proteins.

 5. MEDITATION (Dhyana)

Here is the most important point of all, we become what we think. Thus we should exert to entertain positive and creative thoughts as these will contribute to vibrant health and a peaceful, joyful mind. A positive outlook on life can be developed by learning and practicing the teachings of the philosophy of Vedanta. The mind will be brought under perfect control by regular practice of meditation.     See   for more info.



 

 

BENEFITS OF YOGA:


The benefits of yoga are unlimited. The obvious is the increased flexibility throughout the muscular system, but there is so much more.

As the practice of yoga focuses on deep breathing while stretching, this diaphragmic breath not only helps with sinking into a deeper stretch but also circulates the body's lymph fluid which increases the bodies capacity to cleanse and detoxify by 15% (see Lymphatic Massage). By cleansing the body on a regular basis with this kind of breathing along with a clean diet, the bodies immune system is boosted, the blood is purified, and this results in increased health and vitality.

The deep rhythmic breathing performed in yoga also creates and builds up one's life force energies or Prana, also called Qi or Chi in Chinese healing and martial arts.  So, one actually creates mores energy than is expended during a yoga session. The type of energy that is not from the caloric intake of our diet, but a cosmic energy.

The athlete can benefit by increasing mobility in the joints, thus increasing range of motion for overall enhanced performance. The athlete will be able to reach farther, fall harder while preventing and minimizing injuries because their muscles have a memory (like a rubber band) from the deep stretching obtained in practicing yoga on a regular basis.

Many athletes are having more injuries that require surgery because of the increased focus on strength training with weight resistance.  This method for increasing strength and muscle mass is highly effective and efficient , yet it dramatically decreases flexibility. However, if yoga or other types of prolonged stretching are practiced in combination with strength training and practical application exercises (using the body in a way that mimics the movements of their particular sport, while performing a balancing or core movement), injury can be minimized during engagement in other competitive sports that call for the athlete to be more spontaneous with their bodies, calling for overextended reaches, lunges, falls, etc., all of which increase the odds of injury, opposed to the safety of controlled mechanical motion used in weight room workouts.

With yoga, the athlete will not only increase flexibility but also increase poise and balance from the practice of the yoga holding/balancing poses.  This type of balancing will enhance athletic performance by enabling the athlete to prevent falls because of his heightened awareness of his bodies center place. When balancing poses are mastered the athlete is then conditioned to unconsciously recover from any imbalances their body may experience, staying centered in action, moment by moment during play. This is when the athlete begins to perform miraculous stunts. He is able to use his body in ways he never thought possible while remaining centered and injury free.

Yoga also helps strengthen connective tissue, break down adhesions (tiny scar tissue) from old injuries and over-training, that have tightened as we age thus helping create mobility of the joints and an anti-aging posture.

Finally, one of the most powerful benefits of yoga is the releasing of old stuck emotions from the body creating space for enlightenment. Emotions include daily stress, emotional trauma from life experiences or old physical injuries that can go as far back as childhood. This release can happen while holding a deep stretch and breathing deeply for prolonged periods of time. Often the source of the emotion cannot be identified but sounds such as moaning, growling or even crying may result. This release is encouraged, to fully let go as a yoga class is a safe place to experience this healing process. As a result of releasing old emotions from the body many students of yoga experience dramatic muscular flexibility,  weight loss and/or a sense of lightheartedness and peace overcoming their life.

Yoga can be used cleanse the mind and allow one to discover one's own true self and one's connection with the presence of God within.   One can also discover their true desires and purpose in life, by releasing the stresses of trying to fit in with society.  The student is liberated and allowed to explore new ways of living.

See Yoga 4 Sports    
 
More on Yoga Spirituality at my Myspace for Yoga page:  www.myspace.com/myyogateacher   

 

 

STYLES OF YOGA:
 

  Hatha the oldest, is a flowing style of yoga.  One moves gracefully from one pose to the next un-interrupted while maintaining a meditative state of mind.  The yoga poses are used as a moving mantra to free the mind of thought during practice.  Hatha yoga is most often used in the achievement of peace of mind, union with God, and  enlightenment.

  Iyengar focuses much more strict on form and alignment.  Developed by B.K.S. Iyengar of India, this style of yoga holds poses for extended periods of time while attention is on internal lines of energy. 

  Ashtanga  literally meaning " 8 Limbs" was originally a spiritual practice of yoga now called Raja Yoga.  It is now practiced as a more rigorous physical practice of yoga with set routines.  It is often used in Power Yoga classes for strength building and endurance.  Many asanas for balance are practiced.  

  Anusara  meaning " Opening to Grace",  is a  spiritual practice of yoga blended with the Universal Principals of Postural Alignment.  This style is often blended with other styles of yoga for a therapeutic effect.   Many body injuries or problems are overcome with Anusara yoga. This is the basis of all safely practiced yoga.

  Kundalini an ancient form of yoga, is the least vigorous of all the yogas.  It mostly focuses on creating Prana or life force energy through specific breathing techniques and attention to the chakras (energy vortexes) of the body.  Kundalini  is the primordial cosmic energy located in us and is said to be located spiraling up and down the spine.  This yoga system is used to achieve Union with God and  for enlightenment which is the ability to know all that is known.  To know all that is known means one is in union with God, the all knowing, on a constant conscious basis. We are all always in union or one with God, but most of us are not always conscious of it.  

Raja, Karma, Jnana and Bhakti Yoga styles are together also known as the 4 Paths of Yoga that are taught along with the 5 Points of Yoga (above).

   Raja Yoga  Compiled by the Sage Patanjali Maharishi in the Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbs are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the yogi to enlightenment. These 8 limbs are: Yamas,  Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Smadhi. ( all taught in Janise's yoga retreats.)

     Karma Yoga    "Karma Yoga is the selfless devotion of all inner as well as the outer activities as a Sacrifice to
the Lord of all works, offered to the eternal as Master of all the soul’s energies and austerities."

                                                                                                                           
 quote - Bhagavad Gita

 
Bhakti Yoga the Path of Devotion or Divine Love.  This path appeals particularly to those of an emotional nature. The Bhakti Yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual he surrenders himself to God, channeling and transmuting his emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Chanting or singing the praises of God form a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga.

   Jnana Yoga. The Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom.  This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths - for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation.

All yoga styles, if practiced not just to become physically flexible, can train us to become aware and fully conscious of our Oneness with God on a non-stop basis.  To consciously know the Knower (GOD) that knows all, gives you access to the infinite knowledge and wisdom of the Universe, allowing one to dip into the pure potentiality for their lives.   

                                  
                                    Yoga Retreat at UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center and Resort.


 

 

Now Available Janise's new book; 
 

YOGA WISE "Words of Wisdom to Put Life and Spirit into Your Yoga."

Yoga (yo gah ) n. the moving meditative art of liberating the self and union with the Supreme Spirit, Universal Soul, or God through deep meditation, prescribed poses (asana) and controlled breathing.

In the twenty-first century yoga has lost some of its power in purpose. Yoga today has often become another form of exercise or fitness technique to increase one’s flexibility through poses. Its purpose and intention for practice in the purest form and truest essence is often diluted if not completely ignored and forgotten.  

Yoga once practiced solely as a moving meditation to achieve union with God, higher levels of consciousness, enlightenment and self realization has become, today for many, a competition for the ego to master the external perfect form in many of the challenging advanced poses, such as splits, headstands, and hand stands...rather than a journey of evolution for the soul, which the internal life of a pose can awaken. Focusing on the perfection of the physical body in yoga does in no way guarantee the awakening of the already existing perfection that lies within you just waiting to be realized.

Yoga Wise, words of wisdom for enhanced yoga practice, is a book of intentions for internal focus to use during your personal yoga practice to inspire you in practicing yoga for its intended original purpose along with getting the side effect benefits of flexibility and strength.  

It is to discover on a soul level apart from the ego; Who am I? What do I want? What is my Purpose?

Yoga Wise is to help you in your daily practice so that you may re-discover through yoga your true essence and being in its purest form and also to deepen your at-one-ment that is, your Oneness with God, the universe, the planet and everyone and everything. Practicing yoga in this way, you will find your life will begin to flow with ease because of this deeper awareness of your Oneness.

You will begin to regularly experience increased love and compassion, peace of mind, harmony, perfect health, wholeness, joy, bliss, creativity, infinite possibilities, clarity, and abundance. Divinity and order in your life circumstances will be more present as the intention of Yoga Wise concepts awaken your wholeness from within.

Though the quotes may seem simplistic, do not underestimate their ability to set into motion the intention for self-discovery and realization of your purpose... Just the simple suggestion to “Let the Breath Complete Itself” may evoke you to understand the concept of allowing the divine order of things in your life to unfold in their own time. And also, for you to release your old pattern of manipulating life circumstances or rushing things to happen before their time, thus possibly interrupting the natural process and causing a different outcome; one that is not as beneficial for you in the long run.


It is suggested to choose one or more quotes of this
book for your internal intention or focus before each yoga practice. Instead of analyzing the meaning, allow its meaning to be revealed to you from within on all levels, with each and every pose and breath, so that you may activate growth, healing, awakening, and discovery of body, mind, and spirit. As you evolve, the quotes of Yoga Wise with have new and different meanings, as you are not the same person as you were when you last read them, nor are you the same person as you were the last time you practiced yoga. Practice your yoga each day as if it is the first time to keep your practice fresh, as well as being open to new benefits, insights and possibilities for yourself.  Each time you practice your yoga allow yourself to break your mold and expand into the infinite possibility of who you are.

Yoga Wise may also be used in your daily activities of life so that you may make every aspect of your life Yoga (i.e. Union, Oneness, Creative Flow).

To order your copy of YOGA WISE   go to Contact Us link and email us with your request or look for our new Products link.

 

 

 

© 1999-2012 Copyright Janise Anthony | All rights reserved