Tips for Beginning Yoga Practice
Before beginning your Yoga practice you'll need to consider some practical details.
When To Practice
It is helpful to practice once a day. Practicing first thing in the morning is best because it helps prepare you for the day. Also if you put your practice off until later in the day, you may never get to it. And it is best to practice on an empty stomach. Before dinner is also a good time as long as you don't get distracted.
Where to Practice
You should practice in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. If you attend a Yoga class, remember that Yoga is about going within and not about competition. Be forgiving of the condition of your body and take pride in your gradual accomplishments.
How Long To Practice
The Yoga program in this book should take about an hour for the exercises and fifteen minutes for the meditation. You can extend or condense the time depending on how long you will be holding your positions. I have built up to about 60 seconds in each pose. Beginners may want to start out with 15 second intervals on and off. Remember that you should always be breathing in the positions.
What To Wear:
Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing is a must. A few blankets are also helpful because as you go into deep states of meditation your body temperature will lower as a result of your metabolic processes slowing down. In addition I recommend a thick rubber mat, which can be purchased at a sporting good store. Your Yoga instructor will also have straps to help you reach certain positions. Practice in your stocking feet or bare feet.
What To Look At
In general, keep your eyes shut except when in standing or balancing positions. Imagine an Olympic high diver before he jumps. His eyes are open but he is not focused on anything in particular. He has gone within.
What To Focus Your Mind OnWhen you start your Yoga practice you will be primarily focused on what to do with your body. As your practice develops the positions will feel more natural and you will begin to gain control over your awareness. Yoga for Healthy Living includes a series of positive affirmations, which can be your focus as you hold your positions. Eventually you may let go of these as well and just focus on the breathing or a mantra. A mantra is a repeated phrase that is like a boat, guiding you past your thoughts into the meditative state. Mantras will be discussed in more detail in the Chapter 7.
Food To Eat
There is an inherent intelligence in food. In our attempt to improve efficiency in food production we have sacrificed quality for quantity. The law of cause and effect is clearly demonstrated by our food industry. Perhaps it is not just red wine that gives Europeans better health but their lifestyle and relationship to food. The fast-food mentality is harmful to our collective health.
If we look to the animal kingdom for guidance, we notice that there is no incidence of osteoporosis because they follow their natural instincts. If we can get in touch with our natural instincts, then many diseases, which are the results of lifestyle choices, can be avoided.
The wisdom of our physiology has provided us with six tastes:
Ayurveda, the science of life, was developed in conjunction with Yoga, the science of union with the divine. Ayurvedic nutrition recommends that we have at least one meal a day that includes all six tastes. The reason we have so many problems with obesity and health is that the typical American diet is out of balance. It is primarily sweet, sour, and salt: French fries and ketchup. When we utilize all the tastes that nature has provided us we can come back into balance. In addition to more fruit and vegetables we need to add new food groups, like soy and legumes, to our diets.
Reducing consumption of meat will lower testosterone levels, aiding in the fight against cancer. In addition studies have shown that meat consumption increases aggressiveness. For maximum benefits to your Yoga practice and meditation I recommend reducing meat consumption and substituting fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, and soy products.
Fasting may also be useful in helping you to change your eating habits permanently and for cleansing of toxicity built up over a lifetime. I recommend fasting only if you have the guidance of a teacher and you coordinate your fasting with your doctor. A fast may enhance your appreciation of eating and all of the wonderful natural foods that are available to you.
It is most important to eat more slowly and to be present in the moment when you are eating. Being aware will help you avoid eating to satisfy emotions. Properly chewing your food and pacing yourself will help you avoid many stomach problems and weight management issues. These benefits will ultimately improve your Yoga practice.
Dry Body Brush
Starting your day with a two-minute full body and scalp massage with a natural fiber brush will improve circulation and can reduce hair loss. You can purchase such a brush at your local health food store. Start with the scalp and work down over the back, then chest, arms, buttocks and pelvis, legs, and feet.
Your journey can be successful only if you approach Yoga practice with an open mind. You will need to suspend judgment, criticism, doubt, perfectionism, and competition, and replace such negative thoughts with acceptance, compassion, and dogged persistence. You will need to listen to your body and do not attempt to push yourself before you are ready. There should be gain without pain.
Do not feed your mind images and thoughts that will agitate it. You may want to avoid the melodrama of the daily news or images of violence and distress. This doesnt mean that you should be aloof from suffering, but you can deal with it more effectively from a place of detachment.
© 2008, Bruce Eric Van Horn
If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. - Hippocrates
Author, CPA, MBA and yoga instructor Bruce Van Horn founded Yoga for Business, Inc., a company devoted to organizational and individual wellness. He presents a daily Yoga Workout routine that provides a complete physical, mental and spiritual workout. He is the author of Yoga for Prostate Health and Yoga for Men, designed for all levels of experience with yoga.. He has renamed (Asanas) positions in Yoga using terms from business to help you identify with the movement and focus your attention. He is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Center for Complimentary Medicine at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Bruce also leads a volunteer yoga program designed for cancer patients and healthcare workers at Beth Israel Medical Center. He lives outside New York with his wife Michelle who is a Reiki Master. Bruce has two daughters who have asked that he refrain from headstands at the town pool. His website is www.yogaforbusiness.com If you have any questions, feel free to write: E-Mail.
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