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How To Change The Perception Of Your Body With Yoga

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Change Your Perception Of Your Body Image

The sad fact is that about 95 percent of women and 30 percent of men have issues about the way their bodies look. We, modern humans, have a very unstable perception of our bodies: from showing off our over sexual images on social media to absolute body-hate and not wanting to see ourselves in the mirror. We quickly go from one polarity to another, however, both of them have nothing to do with self-love. If your perception of your body is dependent on how much you weigh or if your muscles are toned enough, then you are most likely a prisoner of a delusional self-image made by society norms and standards.

The unhealthy tendency of modern people is that we all struggle with bad body image from time to time. Our relationship with our bodies and ourselves is always changing depending on the situation or circumstance. It takes constant awareness, mindfulness, and willingness to create a balanced and harmonious relationship with our bodies. But, unfortunately, most of us are too busy with self-hate and self-pity that we can’t hear what our bodies are trying to tell us.

Ancient traditions and mindfulness practices offer us practical ways to stabilize our relationship with our bodies. And one of them is yoga. In this article, we want to share with you how yoga practice can change your perception of your body and create a healthy and harmonious relationship with it!

4 Ways Yoga Can Positively Affect Your Body Image

Now let’s take a deeper look at what 4 solutions yoga offers you to change your perception of your body.

#1: Mindfulness through movement

yoga self love image

Yoga helps us create a good relationship with our bodies through movement.

In yoga, we do not try to prove anything to ourselves or to others. Rather, performing each asana is our personal way of cultivating harmony. Every time we face the challenge of new asanas, patiently endure discomfort, and respect all our bodily and emotional experiences, we express gratitude to our body.

When performing asanas, pay attention to how much your body can do – how it allows you to twist, stretch, balance, and bend. Notice all the different parts of the body that make this or that asana possible and thank them. In this way, you can cultivate awareness of the power of your body, and, as a result, change your perception of your body.

#2: Mindfulness through positive self-talk

yoga positive self talk image

One of the best lessons yoga teaches us is to focus on our opportunities instead of limitations.

It’s always so easy to get influenced by our negative self-image, to see that there is always something wrong with us, judge our bodies, and compare them with others’. Such negativity makes us rigid and stifles our natural playfulness.

Yoga can help us let go of the habit of negative self-talk and self-judgment.

Next time you practice yoga, pay attention to how you talk to yourself and to your body. Listen to your inner talk. Are you criticizing yourself for not being flexible enough? Are you comparing your yoga skills to others? Learn to talk to yourself in a caring positive way. Only use positive and compassionate words in your self-talk. Develop the skill of practicing yoga joyfully and cheerfully, and not with judgment and perfectionism. Remember – yoga is not just the asanas but also your inner growth and the self-realization that is happening during your practice.

#3: Mindfulness through observation

yoga mindfulness practice image

It is impossible to establish a good relationship with your body if you do not break out of the vicious circle of judgment and self-criticism. In order to let go of these negative habits yoga suggests us to take an observer’s position.

The observer’s position is neutral. You observe your practice, your life, your body without judging it – whether it’s good or bad. You observe but don’t shape the result of your observation into the form of opinion.

When you practice yoga, just notice everything that you feel – your breathing, the way different parts of your body touch the floor, the sensations in your muscles, the thoughts rushing through your head. Just notice everything without judging. As you get used to practicing this way, you will notice that you have become more aware of your body’s capabilities, as well as its unique qualities. And there is no need of judgement or opinion – whether it’s good or bad, it is rather a neutral state of noticing the results of your observation.

#4: Focus on the present moment

yoga changes body perception image

Yoga is the best practice to cultivate presence.

When we think negatively about our bodies, we are not present in the moment. We are mentally transported to the past or future by comparing ourselves to how we used to look in the past or how we want to look in the future. As a result, we never appreciate and love the bodies we have this very moment. You are taking your focus away from the body that needs to be loved NOW, that needs to be appreciated NOW, and needs to be noticed and accepted NOW! However, it’s never good enough in the present moment.

We have high expectations of how our bodies have to look in order for us to love ourselves. This is how pressure and stress get created. And the most dangerous thing about this mindset is that our bodies can feel what we think of them. They feel our hate, our stress, our high expectations. And often, these negative emotions create such a big pressure in our bodies that they start to get sick.

Moreover, our feelings of shame and guilt lead to a loss of connection with the present moment, and it becomes even more difficult for us to feel confident about our bodies.

Through breathing exercises and yoga asanas, we learn to be “here and now” – and this is an important factor in order to reduce anxiety and negative thoughts.

Our breath connects us to the present moment. So take a little time to just sit and observe it. Observe how your breathing affects your ability to balance and twist. Observe how conscious breathing changes how you talk to yourself and how you perceive your body. With every exhale let go of negative self-image. With every inhale, fill your body in with self-love and positivity.

The Bottom Line

Mindful movement, self-talk, observation, and focusing on the present moment are four keys that you can use to change your perception of your body towards a positive self-image, self-love, self-acceptance, and awareness. If you start using mindfulness during your yoga practice, very soon you will notice that you are becoming more mindful in your everyday life. You will become more mindful in your self-talk which will help you to create a positive self-image and more confidence in life.

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Raja Yoga: The 8 Steps to Self-realization and Liberation

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There are two types of spiritual teachers. Those that tell you, “I have experienced God and for you to tap into this experience you must follow me.” And those that say, “I have experienced God and you can have this experience too.” The latter is where you need to belong. And Raja Yoga aims at facilitating you to experience this higher realm. 

Naturally, human beings are meant to be in a state of higher consciousness to function optimally. See, the human brain is rather restless and therefore we do not see the truth. To experience the higher realm, we need to be focused and concentrate. And we cannot argue with personal experience, can we? So let us share with you how to tap into this path. 

But first;

What is Raja Yoga?

Raja Yoga is one of the oldest yoga systems practiced in India for centuries and now in other parts of the world. It’s simply the path of experience. 

Raja Yoga proposes growing your spirituality without prior faith or belief. This means you can experience God at any time and place without mantras or rituals irrespective of your age or ethnicity. However, this is a branch of yoga that requires a really strong personality as we will discuss below. 

The Eight Stagesto Self-realization and Liberation  

When you practice Raja Yoga, you free the soul (atma), from the bondage of illusions (maya) and unite with your prime soul (paramatma). Below is a step by step experience:

Stage 1: Yama

Meditation in Solitude Image

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.

There are five Yamas:

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

Stage 2: Niyama

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

Five Niyamas are:

  1. Śaucha (शौच): purity, clearness of mind, speech, and body.
  2. Santosha (सन्तोष): contentment, acceptance of others, and of one’s circumstances as they are, optimism for self.
  3. Tapas (तपस): austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, perseverance.
  4. Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय): a study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches, and actions.
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness.

Stage 3: Asana

Asana means ‘posture’ or ‘pose’. So by saying ‘asanas’ we mean body poses. In any Yoga, we need to maintain a steady pose to be able to concentrate and control external and internal energies. By performing certain asanas, a person learns concentration and self-discipline.

Stage 4: Pranayama

Next we engage breathing exercises that directly affect the mind or what we call control of prana (vital energy). See, in today’s hustle and bustle, most people have forgotten how to breathe properly. We simply breathe because our body demands of the oxygen to function. It’s important to always remember that life is breath. And when we exercise control over breath, we can control the subtle Prana inside us. That means having control over all the forces in our universe, both physical and mental. 

Pranayama practice allows you to rejuvenate the entire body and prolong your lifespan. We can practice pranayama as a separate type of yoga technique, or use it as a component of the complex of yoga practice.

Stage 5: Pratyahara

Deep Meditation Benefits Image

Pratyahara means ‘gaining mastery over external influences’.

At this stage, we have to withdraw our senses from objects consciously.

If you have ever engaged in the Savasana (Corpse pose) you must have unearthed your five levels of mental sheaths. These are: 

  • The physical body (food sheath)
  • Prana sheath (subtle energy channels) 
  • The emotional reactions level (mental sheath)
  • Consciousness sheath (the ego)
  • And the causal sheath (the karmic record of your soul’s experiences). 

These mental levels are in order of increasing layers of consciousness. The second stage represents pratyahara. You’re basically leaving the external world but still maintaining contact with it. At this stage, describing from personal experience, you feel trapped in the bottom of a well. You can identify with the surrounding sounds, yet these noises don’t bother you (mentally or physically). You’re in a state of non-reaction. Some Yogi teachers will explain this stage as being in the world yet not of it.

The purpose of this stage 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. In other words, pratyahara is the ability to concentrate and not be distracted by various external stimuli. This step gives you the vision of the internal systems, understanding what can stop your personal and inner growth.

Stage 6: Dharana

Dharana means ‘concentration’ or ‘single focus’. Once we eliminate object attachment, we progress in concentration. This is at the mental sheath stage. You can practice this stage in your daily tasks by choosing to perform just one task at a time or achieve the same during meditation by focusing your thoughts at one particular object, idea or place.

By concentrating, 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. It helps us to see the limitless of our possibilities. At this stage, we gain a skill to slow down the thought process by focusing on sound, image, energy, or body.

Stage 7: Dhyana

Dhyana means ‘contemplation, reflection’ and ‘profound, abstract meditation’. 

It’s the meditation practice where you come face to face with your ego. You tap into your self-awareness or soul. This stage is similar to Dharana, however, here you go in deeper. You choose to concentrate on your point of reference until this thought becomes a part of your consciousness.

Conscious inhibition of thought processes allows to calm the mind, to feel serenity, not to give rise to new thoughts. To reach this stage, you need endurance and strength. For achieving this, you have to put in a lot of effort and time.

Stage 8: Samadhi

Japa meditation image

Finally, at this stage we achieve a super conscious state. See, once you go past your ego, past your senses and past the wandering mind, you can transcend to any levels you imagine of, with complete control over your mind. In other words, you, your mind, and your chosen object of meditation merge together into one. However, most people experience this level based on their soul’s past.

The Benefits of Raja Yoga

Medical benefits

Recent research has seen Raja Yoga as an important therapeutic and prophylactic modality in several health conditions.

Happiness

Raja Yoga enhances positive thinking which increases self-satisfaction and consequently happiness in life. This applies irrespective of your age or the period of time you have been practicing this yoga.

Positive inner transformation

Well, this is obvious since Raja Yoga works on the principle of meditation with an aim to free the soul.

Physical and mental relaxation

With continued practice, Raja Yoga will change your attitude and transform your lifestyle. Eventually, you experience great transformation in your overall wellbeing.

Better control over addictions

Remember we mentioned before that this yoga aims at freeing the soul from the bondage of illusions. Addiction is simply an illusion that clouds your judgment and takes control of your mind. Once you free the soul and experience a higher realm, you will be the only one making your life decisions. 

Conclusion

In Sanskrit texts, Raja yoga was both the goal of yoga and a method to attain it. Nowadays, many people on spiritual path choose to integrate this practice into their lives. By doing so they are able to silence their minds, deepen the meditation practice, take control over their thoughts, and achieve the higher level of consciousness.

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Kriya Yoga: The Benefits and Principles of Practice

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Kriya Yoga image

Are you on a spiritual path to self-realization? If so, what meditation techniques do you practice? In this guide, we will introduce you to Kriya Yoga, a sacred technique that requires both leading an ethical life and practicing yoga and meditation. That way, you can improve your focus and concentration and live a calm and joyous life. So, what does Kriya Yoga entail? Let’s start with the definition.

What is Kriya Yoga?

Kriya Yoga is a yogic practice that focuses on the spiritual benefits rather than the physical benefits of yoga. Hence, it is a spiritual practice that aims at developing your spirit into leading a more conscious and fulfilling life. That is, you aim at enhancing your current life in such a way that your physical, emotional, and psychological survival is no more a concern to you. 

Moreover, unlike hatha yoga that requires hard work and physical exercise, Kriya Yoga relies on growth and expression. 

The Origin and History of Kriya Yoga

“Kri refers to action, and “ya” means indwelling soul. Hence, the term Kriya stands for becoming aware of the power of the inhaled soul. It is about gaining self-realization while also appreciating the mechanics of human life.

The practice of Kriya Yoga dates back to ancient times when advanced Himalayan yogis practiced it in meditation caves. Still, its first mention in modern times is in 1861 when Mahavatar Babaji, the yoga master, passed the practice to Lahiri Mahasaya. More so, it is the spiritual master Paramahansa Yogananda who later brings Kriya Yoga practice to the west, sparking a spiritual revolution. Kriya Yoga continues to impact the lives of millions of people seeking spiritual enlightenment

The Philosophy and Principles of Kriya Yoga

Gyan Mudra For Deep Meditation Image

The practice of Kriya Yoga is split into three key components as follows: –

#1: Meditation

Kriya Yoga advocates for a life of discipline. It requires setting sometime every day to allow your consciousness to clear. Indeed, society bombards our minds with lots of distractive thoughts. It could be from social media, local politics, or family demands. Whatever the source of the cloudiness, Kriya yoga requires us to practice breathing awareness meditation every day to refine our nervous system. 

It also requires that we change the functioning and structure of our brains for clarity of thought. In turn, meditation gradually changes the energy system within our body (Kundalini) and makes us attune to higher consciousness and vibrations. Only then can we become aware of our true selves.

#2: Self-Inquiry/Self-Study

The second stage in Kriya Yoga is Vichara or self-inquiry. Here, we examine our current lifestyles against the true self that we strive to become. It is a journey of introspection and discernment, letting go of false perceptions of self and people’s biased opinions. In turn, we ask ourselves questions such as: –

  • Who am I?
  • What is my true purpose in life?
  • What are my values?
  • How do I define my energy level? What affects it?
  • Can I express the boundary between self and the world?
  • What comes to mind when I inhale and exhale during meditation?
  • Which yoga pause feels most expansive?
  • What inspires me, brings me joy, or matters to me the most right now?
  • How do I feel when I nourish my body with healthy food?
  • What grounds me?
  • What is my definition of success beyond money?
  • From what do I want to detach?
  • How do I express my creativity?
  • Where is my favorite spot for practicing yoga? Why is this spot special to me?
  • What does surrender mean to me?
  • How do I feel when I clean out or de-clutter my workspace?

Self-study makes us contemplate on ourselves. We inquire about our perception of reality versus the true reality. That way, we seek to understand our sole purpose in the world. 

#3: Surrendered Devotion, Isvarapranidhana

Finally, Kriya Yoga is about ethical living, a life of devotion to seeking spiritual enlightenment. The practice helps us make sense of that unease we have when things don’t turn out the way we want. You know that feeling of groundlessness that goes against our societal norms. 

Our communities require us to hold on to a career, family, or leadership to feel in control. Yet, in Kriya Yoga, we let go of our desire for dominion and surrender all effort.

Benefits of Practicing Kriya Yoga as Part of Your Spiritual Journey

Meditation Quotes 5 yamas Image

#1: Attaining a Spiritual Awakening

The ultimate goal of Kriya Yoga is experiencing a spiritual awakening. This awakening takes place by doing four fundamental actions: –

  • Daily Spiritual Meditation – Kriya Yoga relies on the techniques in Raja Yoga to activate higher consciousness. It is a highly individual experience where the participant can hear voices, see visions, lose or absorb a sense of separateness and have a sense of awe or transcendence.
  • Spiritual Contemplation – Here, we observe our thoughts without being judgmental. The practice helps us discover that our feelings reflect how our minds interpret those beliefs. Likewise, we notice that negative emotions arise from our interpretation or judging of thoughts with negativity. 
  • Spiritual Reflection  Spiritual reflection refers to studying and reflecting on the Vedic scriptures. Here, we aim to unlock the secrets of leading a peaceful and prosperous lifestyle. Hence, we want to live our lives with sincerity, knowledge, and compassion.
  • Spiritual Exploration – Finally, Kriya Yoga allows us to explore different spiritual practices to discover what works for each one of us. 

#2: Physical Benefits

Apart from a spiritual awakening, anyone practicing Kriya Yoga shall experience the following benefits: –

  • Improves our moods and overall well being
  • Assists in dealing with depression 
  • Improves our tolerance to pain
  • Helps in managing stress and anxiety
  • Lowers high blood pressure and hypertension levels
  • Soothes, stimulates, and clarifies the mind and soul
  • It helps us regain our self-confidence
  • Improves our concentration and memory power

Conclusion

Kriya Yoga believes that when we enhance our roots, we will see the fruits in the form of a spiritual awakening. In turn, this spiritual practice emphasizes coming to an ideal state that determines the quality of our lives. It is about growing beyond our needs and concerns and becoming a karma yogi.

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Khechari Mudra: Yogic Secret Tool for Immortality

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Khechari mudra is one of the mana mudras (head mudras). This powerful mudra is designed to awaken spiritual energies in the body and activate the kundalini. In this article, we will share with you what Khechari mudra is, what its benefits are, and how to properly perform it.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra‘ can be translated as ‘seal’ or ‘gesture’. When we do a mudra, it acts as a seal or bond which brings our whole body in alignment with the energy associated with the mudra.

Mudras help us correct the direction of energy in the body, control prana, and improve the psycho-emotional state. Also, with their help, we can eliminate problems in the body and the mind by pressing on particular acupuncture points.

What Is Khechari Mudra?

Kechari mudra is considered preeminent among the mudras, particularly because it is an advanced technique meant to assist the practitioner in reaching a higher state of consciousness.

The name for this mudra comes from Sanskrit. Kha means ‘Brahman‘ or ‘Space’ which is infinite. Chara means ‘Obstacle free moving’ or ‘flying’.

Khechari mudra is mentioned in the fundamental treatises on yoga, for example, in Swami Sivananda mentioned in his works that Khechari mudra is the best of all mudras. Kashmiri philosopher Abhinavagupta, in his works on Kashmiri Shaivism, said that all mudras originated from Khechari.

To put it simply, Khechari mudra is a tongue lock. It is not difficult to make it: you just need to bend the tongue so that the tip rests against the upper palate. And keep your mouth closed while practicing it.

The described technique is suitable for beginners. Those who have mastered the described technique and can hold the tongue in this position for a long time can slowly move the tongue deeper into the larynx as if trying to swallow. According to the treatises, the yogis of the past were able to penetrate their throat with their tongue.

According to the yogins, there is a source in the throat that grants immortality. In addition, the yogis of the past, having “swallowed” the tongue, were able to block their right and left nostrils to perform alternate breathing. However, do not try to do it, especially at the initial stage of the practice.

Khechari Mudra Benefits

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is one of the most authoritative sources on yoga, in the 40th sloka says:

“He who knows the Kechari Mudra, is not troubled by diseases, is not stained with karmas, and is not snared by time”.

Indeed, there are certain points on the back of the palate that are responsible for our health. When we’re pressing on these points with a tongue, the release of secretions occurs, which leads to general health improvement.

Yogis of the past believed that those who master this mudra perfectly will “accelerate the onset of deep states.” We are talking here about the possibility of changing consciousness with the help of practice and directing energy to the upper chakras. Also, Khechari Mudra balances the mind and helps to achieve a state of calm.

The regular practice of Khechari Mudra provides the following benefits:

  • opens up blocked salivary glands and prevents painful symptoms of salivary gland disorders;
  • activates the parasympathetic nervous system;
  • relaxes the body;
  • reduces the thoughts;
  • draws the mind inwards;
  • removes symptoms of aging;
  • balances the secretion of the thyroid gland;
  • improves metabolism;
  • contributes the third eye chakra awakening;
  • activates/increases psychic abilites;
  • clears the tongue gag and prevents bad breath;
  • helps to activate kundalini;
  • improves the tone of the voice;
  • reduces abdominal fat;
  • clears the mind of anger, attachment, and ego;
  • increases vitality and energy.

How to Perform?

The instructions listed below have a purely informative purpose. We DO NOT recommend you to practice this mudra without any guidance from an expert teacher.

Instructions:

  1. Extend your tongue up and then roll it back to reach as far as you can. Initially, the tongue may barely reach to the hard palate. Do fake swallowing to slide tongue up to the soft palate. Do it 3-4 times until your tongue rests comfortably at the soft palate.
  2. Now try to slide your tongue further into the mouth.
  3. Reach with your tongue at the bottom of your mouth where it touches the uvula.
  4. Once you reach this far, do it 3-4 times to get your tongue comfortable up to this point.
  5. Now as your tongue touching the uvula, open your glottis and mouth quickly to blow a bit of air inside the throat.
  6. This strong bust of air will push rolled tongue behind the uvula and your tongue will be ready to enter into the nasopharynx.
  7. Once tongue makes its way behind the uvula, now its turn to find a place behind uvula from where the tongue doesn’t come to its previous position. This part will come naturally, the tongue will begin slipping but at this moment there would be a strong urge of throwing out tongue.
  8. Keep breathing slowly, observe what’s happening inside your mouth.
  9. Eventually, your tongue will start slipping into nasopharynx behind the soft palate. This will take tongue to the upmost where it touches a bony structure called the pituitary gland.
  10. Up to this point, the tongue has reached beyond the top of the pharynx.
  11. When the tongue pressed against this, it gets stimulated. Some fluid will start accumulating in your mouth but saliva wouldn’t be swallowed as long as your tongue remains up.
  12. Slowly, bring your tongue down to natural position and you will find the taste of saliva accumulated inside your mouth. In the beginning, the taste of it will be bitter. This is a sign of detoxification of your bodily system. But with practice, you will notice that the bitter taste becomes sweet like honey. It’s called ‘Amrita‘ – the nectar of immortality in Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Duration of the Practice

Start with performing the mudra for 3-5 minutes. Gradually increase the time, bringing it to 1-1.5 hours.

The Bottom Line

Khechari mudra is a powerful mudra that helps us to reach a higher state of consciousness and leads us to immortality. However, if you are a beginner and are not able to do full khechari mudra, a small khechari mudra (nabho mudra) brings many benefits at the physical level. For doing this, simply put your tongue to the soft palate. Give yourself a few months to prepare your tongue for the full mudra practice. Keep in mind that your tongue can be stretched like any other muscle. All you need to do is to be disciplined enough to practice nabho mudra regularly.

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The Law Of Vibration Explained: How To Manifest The Life You Want

Ask anyone to mention the 12 Universal laws, and they will most likely mention the law of attraction. However, not...

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