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Bikram Yoga: Benefits And Harm Of Hot Yoga Classes

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Bikram Yoga Vs Hot Yoga Image

Have you heard about Bikram yoga? This yoga style is becoming more and more popular. Many practitioners find it very effective for creating balance between the body and mind. In this article, we will share with you what Bikram yoga is, and what its advantages and disadvantages are. We hope that after reading this article, you’ll be able to personally determine for yourself whether hot yoga classes suit you or not.

What Is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram yoga is a complex of certain asanas that are performed in a hot room. This type of yoga got its name from its founder Bikram Choudhury.

Initially, this kind of yoga was used by Bikram as a recovery after an injury. He was performing yoga asanas in a heated room. After a full recovery, he has perfected asanas and suggested to practice them in the room with hot temperature.

The initial class of Bikram yoga includes:

  • 2 breathing exercises;
  • 26 consecutive Hatha yoga asanas.

Bikram yoga classes are practiced in a room heated to 105 °F with a humidity of 40%. The duration of the lesson is 1.5 hours.

Due to the complexity of such “hot” exercises the whole body strengthens. Each posture of the asana flows smoothly into the next asana, thus increasing the flow of oxygen, through which toxins are removed from the body.

Bikram yoga is known for its martial style of teaching, the concentration of energy and impeccable posture. It is one of the most popular styles of hot yoga that is practiced all over the world. It should draw the attention of those people who prefer strict, disciplined practice, which controls everything – starting with breathing and ending with the opportunity to drink water.

History

Bikram Choudhury image

Bikram Choudhury was born in Calcutta in 1944. At age four he already began practicing yoga.  When he was 13 years old, Bikram received the title of national champion of India in yoga. At the age of 17, Bikram Choudhury severely injured his knee. Doctors said that he will never be able to walk independently.

But the young champion did not despair and under the guidance of his mentor, he began to perform asanas in a certain sequence, aimed at full recovery of the injured part of his body. A distinctive feature of this complex of asanas was that the room (where yoga was practiced) was very hot. This was essential in order to effectively work on the injured knee, and in order not to further damage. The result of hard training was a fully restored knee.

Bikram Choudhury reasonably believes that Hatha yoga brings the most positive results in conjunction with the hot climate of India. Naturally, not everyone has the opportunity to practice Bikram yoga in a hot climate. Therefore he suggested creating appropriate temperature regime artificially. In this case, we can practice hot yoga in any country, even in the North.

As a result of refinement and improvement of the sequence of asanas, Bikram Choudhury created his own unique style of Hatha yoga, which is now known as Bikram yoga.

Bikram Yoga Vs. Hot Yoga: What’s The Difference?

yoga class image

Many people think that Bikram and hot yoga are the same thing but these two styles still have differences.

So what’s the difference between Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga?

1. Temperature

Bikram yoga studios must be heated to 105°F with 40% humidity.

Hot yoga rooms can vary in humidity and are generally heated to anywhere from 80 to 100°F.

2. Duration of the Class

The duration of the Bikram yoga class is always 90 mins.

Hot yoga classes can last anywhere from 60 to 90 mins.

3. Music

Music or clapping are not allowed during Bikram yoga classes.

Hot yoga classes often have music playing during the class and even can be followed by a round of applause.

4. Asanas Variations

Camel pose image

Bikram yoga includes the same 26 asanas and two breathing exercises. All the asanas and breathing exercises are performed in the same order every class.

Hot yoga can include many different asanas that may vary by class or/and studio.

5. Floors

The floors of Bikram yoga studios must be carpeted.

In Hot yoga studios, the floors are usually made of any type of artificial wood or any other material.

6. Lighting

There must be bright lighting in the Bikram yoga studios.

Hot yoga classes are often performed with dim lights or even by candlelight.

7. Talking During the Class

yoga studio image

It is not allowed to talk during a Bikram yoga class.

During a Hot yoga class, the students can interact with each other and with the yoga instructor.

It is difficult to say which one of these two styles is better. Everything is absolutely individual. Someone may be uncomfortable to practice yoga in a room heated to 105°F, and someone, on the contrary, will appreciate this temperature and find it easier to relax. There are such studios that conduct Bikram yoga classes in a very warm room, but only 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes and in a more relaxed mode.

Or, for example, you may not like to practice yoga on a carpeted floor and will appreciate the wooden floors more that regular hot yoga studios hold classes on.

So it’s completely up to you! Ask yourself which type of yoga will suit you better!

Bikram Yoga Postures And Their Benefits

During Bikram yoga class, a complex of 26 postures is performed in a strictly defined sequence. It is very important to perform these postures to the end and repeat each of them twice. As a result of each such practice, the vital energy (prana) circulates in your body harmoniously, and the organs are exposed to beneficial effects.

Bikram Yoga complex includes the following postures:

1. Pranayama (breathing practice)

This posture is aimed at relieving fatigue, relaxation and at the same time concentration on the upcoming yoga practice.

2. Half Moon Pose (ARDHA-CHANDRASANA)

This asana relaxes and gradually stretches the muscles of the whole body, preparing you to perform basic postures.

3. Awkward Pose (UTKATASANA)

This pose helps to tone and shape your legs, heals chronically cold feet, helps relieve rheumatism and arthritis in the legs, helps to cure slipped discs and other lower spine problems.

4. Eagle Pose (GARURASANA)

This pose is aimed at the development of coordination. This is due to the fact that some muscles of the body tense up, while others relax. As a result of performing this asana, pain in the back and joints goes away, the muscles of the legs come to tone, the blood flow improves.

5. Standing Head To Knee (DANDAYAMANA-JANUSHIRASANA)

Stretches the leg muscles and gluteal muscles, blood circulation in the brain becomes noticeably better, and the blood pressure returns to normal.

6. Standing Bow (DANDAYAMANA-DHANURASANA)

This asana is aimed at developing a sense of stability, discipline and emotional inner harmony and balance. In physical terms, there is a relaxation of the back and strengthening the muscles of the legs.

7. Balancing Stick (TULADANDASANA)

This asana has a moderate load on the heart, stimulates its intensive work and the release of blood. Thereby this posture helps clear the vessels and increases the activity of the brain. This asana is an excellent prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

This asana is aimed at stretching the muscles of the back and strengthening the blood flow to the joints. It also massages the internal abdominal organs, the small and large intestines.

9. Triangle Pose (TRIKANASANA)

This asana is aimed at the simultaneous study of all the muscles of the body and enhances metabolism. This pose is extremely beneficial for women with a broken menstrual cycle. It also benefits the heart and lungs.

10. Standing Separate Head to Knee Pose (DANDAYAMANA-BIBHAKTAPADA-JANUSHIRASANA)

This pose stimulates the work of all the glands of our body, especially the thyroid gland. It also helps to heal reproductive system disorders and frequent chronic migraines.

11. Tree Pose (TADASANA)

This asana aimed at stretching the spine and strengthening the muscles of the back. It improves your posture and reduces tension in the abdomen.

12. Toe Stand (PADANGUSTASANA)

This pose aimed at developing balance and strengthening willpower, as well as stretching the muscles of the legs.

13. Dead Body (SAVASANA)

This asana relaxes every single muscle of your body. As a result, the movement of blood and lymph comes back to normal. Moreover, the internal cleansing happens and we learn to relax.

14. Wind-Removing Pose (PAVANAMUKTASANA)

This pose massages the organs inside the body in a natural way which is especially beneficial for the digestive system.

15. Sit Up (PADA-HASTHASANA)

This asana clears the lungs of the air that has stagnated there. Also, it stretches the spine and increases flexibility.

16. Cobra (BHUJANGASANA)

During the performing of this asana, your arms are strengthened and your back muscles become more flexible. Thus there is a prevention of diseases in the lumbar region, such as, for example, arthritis. This asana increases the performance of the liver and spleen, and blood pressure returns to normal.

17. Locust Pose (SALABHASANA)

Great pose for those who have a pinched sciatic nerve or displaced vertebrae. Practicing Locust Pose is an excellent prevention of varicose veins.

18. Full Locust Pose (POORNA-SALABHASANA)

This pose increases strength in the middle spine and the rib cage elasticity. Also, it firms the abdominal muscles, upper arms, and hips.

19. Bow Pose (DHANURASANA)

This asana increases spine flexibility. It aids digestion, fights constipation, combats bronchitis and diabetes. This pose improves the functioning of the large and small intestines, the liver, kidneys, and spleen.

20. Fixed Firm Pose (SUPTA-VAJRASANA)

While performing this asana you are stretching your spinal muscles and the muscles of your ankles, resulting in visibly tightened thighs and belly. In addition, this asana is the prevention of diseases such as gout and varicose veins.

21. Half Tortoise (ARDHA-KURMASANA)

This asana improves sleep, helps to get rid of frequent migraines, improve memory and normalize blood circulation of the brain, as well as prolong your life.

22. Camel Pose (USTRASANA)

This pose helps to stretch the back muscles. It also improves the flexibility of your neck and spine and helps degenerative spinal problems. This asana helps constipation, stretches the throat, thyroid and parathyroid glands.

23. Rabbit Pose (USTRASANA)

This pose helps to reduce tension in the shoulders and neck. Is also helps alleviate colds, sinus problems, and chronic tonsillitis.

24. Head to Knee Pose and Stretching Pose (JANUSHIRASANA AND PASCHIMOTTHANASANA)

This asana is very beneficial for immune and lymphatic systems, allergies and arthritis. It increases circulation to the liver, pancreas, thyroid, thymus, and intestines. Also, performing this pose improves digestion.

25. Spine-Twisting Pose (ARDHA-MATSYENDRASANA)

Performing this twisting asana increases circulation to all the spinal nerves, veins, and tissues, and improves the elasticity of the spine. It relieves lower back pain and helps prevent slipped discs, kyphosis, scoliosis, cervical spondylosis, and arthritis.

26. Blowing In Firm Pose (KAPALBHATI IN VAJRASANA)

This pose improves digestion and circulation and increases the elasticity of the lungs.

Bikram Yoga Benefits

The successful outcome of Bikram yoga practice entirely depends on you. Regular classes and your devotion to the practice will soon bring positive effects.

Bikram yoga benefits image

The benefits of Bikram yoga are:

  • provokes active burning of calories;
  • helps to lose weight quickly, get rid of cellulite and bring your body into good shape;
  • cleanses your body of toxins;
  • your body gains great flexibility;
  • strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory system;
  • helps to quickly recover from injuries of varying severity;
  • improves metabolism;
  • helps to relax after a hard day and put in order your nervous system;
  • improves sleep quality;
  • helps relieve stress (regular practice helps reduce cortisol levels);
  • improves skin quality (helps get rid of acne and enlarged pores);
  • all muscles come in tone;
  • reduces depression;
  • makes you more disciplined;
  • helps to find inner balance and harmony with the outside world;
  • increases immunity and it becomes easier for your body to fight infections and viruses;
  • relieves mental stress and relaxes you.

Can Bikram Yoga Harm You?

Before choosing to attend Bikram or Hot yoga class you should be aware of the harm that this kind of yoga can cause.

There is a number of disadvantages that you may face during your hot yoga class.

1. A danger of excessive stretching

It may be hard to believe but if you have already good flexibility, then Bikram yoga can provoke muscle tension. The thing is the heat weakens the muscles and you may be in danger of excessive stretching.

2. A danger of dehydration

Practicing yoga in a hot room can naturally lower internal body temperature and provoke dehydration. Moreover, there is a significantly increased risk of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Symptoms of exhaustion include weakness, dizziness, and quite severe nausea, so if you encounter them, it is important to stop your yoga practice immediately and leave the class.

man drinking water during yoga class image

3. A danger of the kidney load increase

When we’re hot and stuffy, we’re thirsty. It’s a natural process. In the conditions of Bikram yoga, there is heavy sweating and, of course, we want to drink twice as much. This means that the load on the kidneys increases.

Сontraindications of Bikram Yoga Practice

Since Bikram yoga is being practiced in a hot room there are some contraindications that can be temporary and permanent.

Permanent contraindications include:

  • vascular problems;
  • varicose veins;
  • heart disease;
  • hypertension;
  • tachycardia;
  • weak mitral and aortic valve function;
  • lung diseases;
  • kidneys diseases;
  • prostatitis;
  • arthrosis;
  • gallstone disease;
  • gynecological diseases;
  • diabetes;
  • asthma;
  • brain diseases.

Temporary contraindications include:

  • pregnancy;
  • period of gynecological inflammation and menstruation;
  • catarrhal diseases;
  • fever;
  • sinusitis.

What to Expect from Bikram Yoga Class?

Yoga Classes Image

If you decided to attend Bikram yoga class then you may have a reasonable question – what to expect? It is natural to feel nervous if you come to Bikram yoga studio for the first time. It’s okay if you are not as successful in your yoga practice as others during the first few classes. Everyone’s been through this.

Let us share with you some tips for those of you who are going to attend your first Bikram yoga class:

  • Come to the studio 15 minutes before your class starts.
  • Be sure to warn the instructor about the presence of any chronic diseases and medical restrictions.
  • Be sure to have an empty stomach. Start training about 2 hours after you have eaten.
  • Do not drink too much water before and during yoga class. It is allowed to moisten the throat and take a few sips. A full stomach is contraindicated when performing asanas!
  • Visit the restroom before the class, as it is not recommended to interrupt the practice.
  • Most studios categorically prohibit the use of a cell phone, so we advise you to completely turn it off and take the time to enjoy yoga.
  • Try to breathe slowly and deeply, it will help to relax all the muscles and get used to the room temperature.
  • Breathe only through the nose, because breathing through the mouth dries the mucosa and excites the nervous system.
  • Be prepared for the fact that during classes you will sweat a lot. Most hot yoga studios artificially increase humidity, so you’ll sweat even in places where you had no idea you had sweat glands (hello, a sweaty inner side of the elbow).
  • Try not to wipe the sweat flowing from you in streams, so you give the body a signal to release even more liquid to cool the hot body.
  • Your heart may start to beat faster, but if you don’t have a problem with that, that’s fine. You need to stay calm and focus on your reflection in the mirror. If, however, you are alerted, and you start to panic, lie down on the mat and take a short break.
  • If you have any unpleasant feelings during your yoga practice, focus on your reflection in the mirror, it will return you to the comfort zone.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel bad (dizzy, nauseous, etc.) during yoga class, the only right decision is to get up and leave. Do not try to break through the weakness, so as not to harm yourself.
  • Improve the result gradually. If you have just started practicing hot yoga, it is not necessary to do the exercises in full force. As in the case of any other workout, your body should get used to the peculiarities of the load. Therefore, start small and boldly move forward.
  • After yoga class, you will have a feeling that you are ready to conquer the whole world (of course, after a long shower). This is the pleasant aftertaste of yoga.

Conclusion

We want to note once again that not everyone can practice this kind of yoga. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor for contraindications. In addition, it must be remembered that the hot conditions of the hot yoga classes may initially seem unbearably difficult to handle. Therefore, you should determine your level of endurance, so not to pass out during the practice.

Summing up, once again we note that Bikram yoga, despite its ambiguity, is an effective tool that allows you to cleanse your body, tighten sagging skin, develop flexibility, form a posture, delve into your feelings and fully master the management of your body.

We hope that after reading this article, you are now able to decide whether this type of yoga is suitable for you or not. Remember that yoga is not a competition, and the approach to choosing a yoga style for practice should be based on individual feelings, needs, and indications.


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Vishnu Mudra for Bringing Peace and Harmony Into Your Life

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Vishnu Mudra Image

Vishnu mudra, also known as “Universal Balance Gesture“, represents Lord Vishnu, who maintains the illusion of the manifested universe. The subordinated to Vishnu universe unfolds from the primordial unity as an endless interaction of opposites: creation and destruction, feminine and masculine, darkness and light. Combining these polarities through yogic wisdom is the highest level of understanding of the essence of things. And Vishnu mudra can help us with this!

In this article, I will share with you what Vishnu mudra is, what are its benefits and how to perform it correctly.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra” can be translated as “seal”, “mark”, or “gesture”. Hence Mudras are symbolic gestures practiced with the hands and fingers.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, we can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body. Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing this or that mudra, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

Mudras are invented for the correct redirection of energy in the body, for the control of prana and for changing the psycho-emotional state. Also, with their help, you can eliminate problems in the body and in the mind by pressing on particular acupuncture points.

Vishnu Mudra

Lord Vishnu Image

In Indian mythology, Vishnu is the protector of the world. He is a Hindu deity whose mission is to protect humans and to keep the Universe in balance. Thus balance and harmony should be our main focus when we are practicing Vishnu mudra.

This mudra helps us to attain balance through the activation of the energies of the first three chakras: Muladhara, Svadhisthana, and Manipura. We activate Muladhara chakra for grounding and stability. Svadisthana activation brings us enjoyment and harmonious relationships. When we activate Manipura chakra we open up our inner power and inner fire.

Vishnu Mudra Benefits:

  • Brings balance and peace;
  • Detoxifies the body;
  • Boosts immunity;
  • Reduces stress and anxiety;
  • Calms the nervous system;
  • Balances hormones;
  • Brings balance to the right and left hemispheres of the brain;
  • Supports respiratory health;
  • Infuses the body with oxygen;
  • Cleanses lungs;
  • Encourages mental clarity and focus;
  • Increases the positive effect of pranayama if performed with it.

How to Practice Vishnu Mudra?

Vishnu Mudra Practice Image
  1. Come into a comfortable seated position.
  2. Breathe easily and focus on your breath.
  3. Keep your spine straight.
  4. Place your hands on the thighs or knees with palms facing upwards.
  5. Raise the right hand with the elbow bent.
  6. Curl the forefinger and middle finger in towards the palm of the hand. Allow your thumb, ring and little finger to extend.

This mudra can be performed during pranayama practice – specifically, Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing).

How Does It Work?

When the fingers of our hands are connected in a certain mudra, we are in connection with the power of the cosmos and the energy of the Universe. Each of our fingers is a symbol of connection with a certain planet and life-creating elements.

Each finger of the hand corresponds to certain energy. And each phalanx of each finger is responsible for a specific part of the body.

In addition, each finger is connected with different parts of the body and internal organs. By performing mudras with your hands, you definitely stimulate those parts of the body and organs that are directly connected to the energy channels that pass through the palms and fingers.

Fingers Corresponding to the 5 Elements image

The thumb symbolizes the Fire element and is linked to the Manipura chakra.

The ring finger represents the Earth element and is linked to the Muladhara chakra.

The pinkie is associated with the Water element and is linked to the Svadisthana chakra.

By extending these fingers you are encouraging the flow of energy to the corresponding elements within you. The other fingers bow down to allow space for these to expand and flourish.

Additional Recommendations

  • It is best to practice Vishnu mudra on an empty stomach. Early morning before breakfast is a perfect time for this practice.
  • Start with practicing this mudra for 5 minutes a day. Then gradually increase the time. But keep in mind that a maximum duration for this mudra is 15-20 minutes.
  • Make sure your breath is smooth and full. You should be relaxed and focused on your breath while practicing this mudra.


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Aparigraha: An Essential Step In Your Spiritual Evolution!

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Aparigraha image

Aparigraha is one of the moral rules described in the ancient philosophical text, ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’. In this ancient text, they are called “Yamas” and help regulate your relations with society, gain self-awareness, transform negative energy into positive, and cultivate a deep sense of inner peace.

In this article, I will share with you the essence of aparigraha, different ways to practice it and will explain why it is so important to practice it for your spiritual evolution (especially if you practice yoga asanas).

8 Limbs Of Yoga

Each of the eight limbs of yoga is not easy in their own way. The first two of them, perhaps, are the most important, because they teach psycho-hygienic rules of life. If there is not enough desire, discipline and willpower to make them your way of life, moving on to the next stages is simply meaningless.

8 Limbs Of Yoga Image

The first limb: YAMA

Yama is a set of ethical norms that teach us to communicate with others in the right way. To be brief, it means one thing: treat people the way you want them to treat you.

Second limb: NIYAMA

The limb of forming the self-discipline and uplifting spirituality. This limb involves regular visits to temples, meditative practices, a study of nature, thinking and walks.

Third limb: ASANA

Asana means ‘posture’ or ‘pose’. So by saying ‘asanas’ we mean body poses.

Fourth limb: PRANAYAMA

Pranayama is the ability to control your breath. It is a set and a system of special techniques that make it possible to establish a relationship between breath, mind, and emotions.

Fifth limb: PRATYAHARA

‘Pratyahara’ means ‘gaining mastery over external influences’.

The purpose of this limb is to achieve a state of the distraction of the senses from the surrounding reality and the circulation of the gaze and consciousness inside of you.

Sixth limb: DHARANA

Dharana means ‘concentration’ or ‘single focus’. By concentrating and abstracting, we get distracted from external ‘noise’.  This is how we can calm down our minds, which distracts us from knowing more than we are able to understand.

Seventh limb: DHYANA

Dhyana means ‘contemplation, reflection’ and ‘profound, abstract meditation’. This is the stage of the full development of the properties of meditation and concentration. 

Eighth limb: SAMADHI

Samadhi is the highest stage of meditation, in which a person experiences oneness with the universe. In samadhi, the mind becomes still. You become totally aware of the present moment.

In western modern society, we usually associate yoga just with asana practice. We call people ‘yoga instructors’ although all they teach is asanas during their classes. It would be more appropriate to call western yoga instructors ‘asana instructors’ because physical exercises – asanas – are only one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Asanas are the third step of yoga. And before starting the practice of asanas (and other limbs of Ashtanga yoga), it is recommended to establish yourself in compliance with moral and disciplinary regulations (Yama and Niyama), including aparigraha.

This recommendation has an important reason behind it. You see, in the process of performing yoga asanas, we increase the amount of energy. And if we have not learned how to control it, if we do not understand what’s the right way to invest this energy in, then we risk building negative karma.

What Is Yama?

What Is Yama image

Yama is the second limb of yoga. The 5 Yamas represent a series of “right living” or ethical rules. It means “reining in” or “control”. These are restraints for Proper Conduct as given in the Holy Veda. The 5 Yamas are a form of moral imperatives, commandments, rules or goals.

The 5 Yamas are:

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness.
  5. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint

Mastering these 5 Yamas is necessary in order to practice niyamas, asanas, pranayama and all other stages of the “eight-step path of yoga”.

Now let’s dive deeper into the essence of aparigraha and why it is so important to follow this principle.

What Is Aparigraha?

What Is Aparigraha Image

Aparigraha is the virtue of non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness. ‘Aparigrah’ is the opposite of ‘parigrah’, and refers to keeping the desire for possessions to what is necessary or important, depending on one’s life stage and context. The precept of aparigraha is self-restraint from the type of greed and avarice where one’s own material gain or happiness comes by hurting, killing or destroying other human beings, life forms or nature.

What’s your real Worth?

We live in an era of hyper-consumption. And we never have enough. It’s not enough to have 2-3 pairs of shoes. We are no longer satisfied with a simple phone model, we need the latest one. We like to surround ourselves with cute (and seemingly necessary) trinkets. Many of us have closets full of clothes that we haven’t worn for several years. And many modern families today own more than one car, apartment, house, or even yacht!

We are not satisfied with public transportation or bicycles – we need cars! We are not satisfied with the suburban house – in addition, we need a vacation house! We can’t wear the same outfit for different special occasions, we feel embarrassed if someone sees us in the same outfit twice. Some of us even are not satisfied with driving and in addition to cars will start buying helicopters and jets. Do we really need all this? Or are we just trying to fill the emptiness inside? Or maybe we are trying to hide our insecurities behind the stuff we surround ourselves with?

People can’t see our souls, our hearts, our ‘shadows’ but they can see the stuff we own so we can make them think that we worth something. But what’s our real worth? Money, gold, success, cars, jets, homes… have nothing to do with who we really are.

We were taught that. We have to make money to fulfill our desires. But is it really necessary? How does the fulfillment of our desires affect us, our beloved ones, our planet, our collective consciousness? Is that new car you’re dreaming about a necessity or simply a way to feel better about yourself, to hide your insecurities, to make people notice you? Does your child need that video game or he’s just trying to escape from this reality? Were those leather shoes you’re dreaming about a product of someone’s death? Do you really want to invest your money in animal cruelty and/or sponsoring someone’s death? These are the questions that need to be answered before you decide to spend your money.

Don’t Be That Monkey!

monkey trap image

We all need to realize and accept the fact that our material possessions control us. To understand how this works, I will give an example.

Indian farmers use a special technique of catching the monkeys that were destroying their crops. Because they practiced compassion, shooting or killing the monkeys was not an option. They had to find a way to capture the monkey, and then return it to the jungle.

After observing the monkeys, one farmer found a way. He cut a small hole in a coconut, just big enough so that the monkey could slide its hand through. He put a banana inside the coconut, then tied it to the side of a tree. The monkey came up, smelled the banana, and stuck its hand into the coconut to grab the banana. When it tried to pull its hand out, because his hand was clenched in a fist holding the banana, it did not fit out of the small hole.  And because the monkey refused to let go of the banana, the farmer was able to capture it.  If the monkey just let go, it would be free.

Interestingly, just like the monkey with the banana, we have a tendency to hold on to things — things that don’t necessarily serve us. And it’s not just our material possessions but also our old habits, behaviors, relationships, the results of asana practice, pleasures, etc.

Unfortunately, attachment is a very natural part of modern people’s life. But sometimes those things that we’re attached to are the very things that hold us back, even causing pain in our lives.

This is What Happens When You Don’t Practice Aparigraha

Everything that belongs to us is supported by our energy. And this applies to anything, even the smallest thing that we own. Yes, you read it right – we basically give our energy to every little thing we own – books, statuettes, decorative items, shoes, clothes, cars, etc. Thus, when we don’t follow aparigraha principle we lose our vital energy.

If you’ve ever done decluttering in your house you probably understand what it’s about. Usually, after decluttering people start feeling happier, more inspired and energized.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali points out that following the Aparigraha principle allows us to gain knowledge of past incarnations and the next rebirths.

How To Practice Aparigraha?

how to practice non-possessiveness image

Now that you realize how important it is to follow the Aparigraha principle you may wonder: “How can I practice Aparigraha living in modern society?”. Here are some ways you can do it!

#1 Get rid of unnecessary things

Start with decluttering! Get rid of everything you don’t use anymore. Give away the stuff that can be useful for someone, donate the clothes that don’t fit you or you just don’t like anymore, donate books to the libraries, etc. Make sure you give away the stuff that can be still used by someone in need and throw away the rest.

#2 Inner yoga practice

Yes, yoga is not just asanas but also a deep inner work aimed at self-discovery and self-transformation. Internal yoga practices will help clear the mind of ignorance, misconceptions, misunderstandings, incorrect knowledge (Avidya). Avidya is a state in which we take “the non-eternal for the eternal, the impure for the pure, evil for good and non-self as self”. It is not just ignorance, but ignorance of its true nature. It is Avidya that prevents us from achieving ultimate success in spiritual practice.

Therefore, it’s essential to make time for meditations and introspective work.

#3 Cultivate awareness

When inappropriate thoughts disturb the mind, you should focus on what is opposite to them. For example, a sudden desire to act rudely or encourage or accept rude actions should be restrained by awareness of harmful consequences. Very often such actions are reflections of our anger, greed, or biased judgment. Regardless of our motives, awareness of such consequences can prevent such actions.

#4 Always keep in mind the importance of Aparigraha

You should always remember the impermanence of all things. Nothing in this world belongs to us. Treat everything material that you have as tools that are given to us by Higher Powers to achieve the higher goals and complete our spiritual mission. At the same time, make sure you are not falling into extremes and fanaticism: a car, a house, a computer, a phone — all this can be used for the benefit of the development of this world. It is important not to be tied to these benefits of civilization but to use them as practical tools for accomplishing your higher goals. And if you lose something material make sure you’re easily letting it go.

#5 Trust the Universe

Trusting the Universe‘ means understanding and accepting the fact that we already have everything we need and we will have everything we really need. Be grateful for what you have even if you have very little.

The Bottom Line

Aparigraha is an essential yoga practice that should become a part of your life principle if you consider yourself following a yoga path. The practice of non-possessiveness will help you to examine your assumptions and will guide you back to healthy relationships with others.


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Yoga

Naked Yoga: a Powerful Self-Discovery Practice

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Naked yoga is increasingly gaining popularity. Asanas are performed without any clothing. It can be practiced by either individual classes or in a group.

The practice of naked yoga is a total exit from the comfort zone. What could be more awkward than naked people around you performing the Cat-Cow pose? But the naked practice is aimed at getting rid of the psychological and emotional blocks, physical body attachments, insecurities, low self-esteem.

After naked yoga practice, most people notice the feeling of liberation. Many people also note that it is very comfortable to perform asanas without clothes that constrain the body. Of course, it may feel awkward at the beginning but the benefits of this practice are simply amazing and definitely worth trying it!

In this article, we will share with you what naked yoga is about and those amazing benefits that may inspire you to try this practice.

Ancient Practice of Naked Yoga

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We used to think that the naked body is related to sexuality and some people even find it vulgar. But we, modern human beings, should remind ourselves that nudity is a natural state of our body. Naked yoga brings us back to our nature and roots and allows us to work with what we have — with all our folds, flaws and shortcomings.

Despite the fact that naked yoga seems to be another marketing move (like goat yoga or cat yoga), in fact, nudity was present in many ancient practices to get rid of attachments to the material.

Naked yoga (Sanskrit: “nagna yoga” or “vivastra yoga”) has existed since ancient times as a spiritual practice. It is even mentioned in the 7th-10th century Bhagavata Purana and by the Ancient Greek geographer Strabo.

In the Bhagavata Purana (written c. 800–1000 AD) it says:

”A person in the renounced order of life may try to avoid even a dress to cover himself. If he wears anything at all, it should be only a loincloth, and when there is no necessity, a sannyasi should not even accept a danda. A sannyasi should avoid carrying anything but a danda and kamandalu.”

Alexander the Great reached India in the 4th century BC. Along with his army, he took Greek academics with him who later wrote memoirs about geography, people and customs they saw. One of Alexander’s companions was Onesicritus, quoted in Book 15, Sections 63-65 by Strabo, who describes yogins of India. Onesicritus claims those Indian yogins (Mandanis) practiced aloofness and “different postures – standing or sitting or lying naked – and motionless.”

The practice of spiritual nudity is common among Digambara Jains, Aghori sadhus, and other ascetic groups in the dharmic religions. The order of Naga Sadhus, conspicuous in the processions and bathing ritual at the Kumbh Mela, uses nudity as a part of their spiritual practice of renunciation.

Naked Yoga Benefits

This ancient practice has lots of wonderful benefits that you may find very inspiring. Here are some of them.

#1 It helps you accept your body

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Unfortunately, in our modern world there are lots of people who are dissatisfied with their bodies, find them shameful and even ugly. If you feel like it’s not easy for you to see your naked body without judgment or desire to improve something in yourself, if you feel uncomfortable to get naked even in front of your partner, then a naked yoga class can be good therapy for you.

Practicing naked yoga will help you reconnect with your own body, stop being ashamed of it, learn to accept yourself, and increase your sense of self-worth.

The vulnerability of the naked body can help bring people together, make them understand that each of us feels insecure about something, but we are all beautiful in our own way.

Naked yoga can help you overcome the rejection and shame about your own body, cope with the psychological blocks associated with your body, and look at yourself in a new way. It will teach you to love your body the way it is, see your body as a beautiful temple for your spirit, and love your shortcomings.

#2 It boosts your confidence

The naked practice is a way to learn how to interact with your body, feel it, and become more confident. This is an opportunity to really see your body and stop taking it for granted.

#3 It motivates

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Nude yoga classes motivate you to master your yoga practice. This is due to the ability to see how each of your muscles moves and how it responds to each exercise. Practicing yoga naked, you are more likely to understand which parts of your body need to be worked out more. You can see and understand more clearly what muscles are too tight and what parts of your body need more stretching. Moreover, you will be able to see where your blocks are located. When you see what your body needs, you can change the content of your classes to suit your needs by targeting the right muscles and body areas.

#4 It makes your skin “breathe”

When you exercise and sweat in your clothes, it adversely affects the skin, because the clothes prevent it from being cleansed. When you sweat naked, your skin can breathe.

Wearing clothes during your yoga class may dry your skin and increase the appearance of wrinkles.

One way or another, clothing always restricts our movement. But when we are performing asanas naked it becomes so much easier for you to improve your practice and reach a new level of mastery!

The Bottom Line

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We should always remember that our body is a temple for our spirit. Therefore we need to treat it with love, care, and respect. Even if you want to change something in yourself, it should not be accompanied by self-torture and criticism. Treat your body with care and without excessive fanaticism in the pursuit of ideals.

Would you like to try naked yoga? If your answer is “definitely not”, then think about what kind of mental blocks stop you from doing this? We are all born and start this life without clothes, so why not to try to reconnect with our true natural selves?


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