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Reach Anatomical Perfection With Iyengar Yoga Practice

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Today Iyengar yoga is considered one of the world’s most popular kinds of yoga. It is practiced not only in India but also in other countries. And there are reasons for that.

Iyengar yoga is an amazing tool to give your body anatomical perfection, get rid of emotional and physical stress, improve health, prolong youth and beauty.

The founder of the teaching is Bellur Krishnamachar Sundarārāja Iyengar (better known as B.K.S. Iyengar) who did everything to enable everyone to practice yoga, regardless of the level of physical shape, age, gender, flexibility and plasticity of the body.

In this article, we will share with you what Iyengar yoga is, what its features and benefits are.

What Is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar yoga is a kind of Hatha yoga, which, however, has many fundamental differences from the basic teaching. The main feature of this kind of yoga is a long and careful alignment of the asanas.

The performance of the asana is static. A practitioner “freezes” in a pose, continuing to work continuously on taking the most correct position for this pose. The performance of each asana in the teachings of Iyengar is subject to strict rules. Moreover, the asanas should be performed in a specific sequence.

The uniqueness of Iyengar yoga is an individual approach to each practitioner. Exercises are selected individually, depending on the state of health, the level of physical shape, body characteristics, the endurance of each practitioner.

Therefore, this kind of yoga can be recommended to both beginners and advanced yoga practitioners.

In his teaching, Iyengar developed a system of exercises using different props, which is especially important for beginners, as well as for people with health problems.

Iyengar yoga practitioners usually use such props as:

  • Belts;
  • Blocks;
  • Straps;
  • Blankets.
  • Bolsters;
  • Pillows;
  • Chairs

The use of these props reduces the load on the muscles or joints, helping to build the correct posture.

This type of yoga is suitable for anybody, even for the elderly and people with health problems.

Regular Iyengar yoga classes often give a therapeutic effect – help to treat joints problems and the musculoskeletal system diseases.

Iyengar Yoga Features

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  1. The main tools of Iyengar yoga practice are asanas and pranayamas. One of the distinguishing features of this type of yoga is that asanas are performed statically. That is, when taking a certain pose, it is maintained for a long time, during which a practitioner seems to freeze. Ligaments, muscles and all internal organs undergo therapeutic effects of asanas.
  2. Asanas should be performed strictly according to the rules and in a certain sequence. This is the only way to achieve the proper healing effect.
  3. Iyengar yoga is suitable for both beginners and those who have a yoga practice experience. The uniqueness of this yoga style is that depending on the level of training, health and individual characteristics of a practitioner, suitable asanas are selected for him or her. Even people with a low level of flexibility and physical endurance can start classes, gradually increasing the load.
  4. Iyengar yoga has 200 asanas. Each of them was personally tested by the founder of this yoga style.
  5. Since everyone has different degrees of training, individual physiological characteristics, and some even have health problems, Iyengar suggested using different props. Pillows, chairs, blankets, belts and other tools allow you to give the body the optimal position for performing asanas.
  6. In practice, a special place is given to yoga healing therapy. Iyengar yoga can help alleviate the condition of the practitioner with colds, colitis, gastritis, problems with the musculoskeletal system (various deformities of the spine, stoop) and other diseases. B.K.S. Iyengar tested the effectiveness of this method of healing on himself. Asanas helped Iyengar to get rid of his own diseases. Therefore he believed that yoga it the true path to health.
  7. In this yoga style, attention should be paid not only to asanas and pranayamas but also to the study of the philosophy and moral and ethical principles of the teaching. To achieve these goals, to cure diseases, to get rid of negative emotions, it is necessary to change your worldview, rethink your system of values and views.
  8. Another unique feature of Iyengar yoga is the development of a separate program exclusively for women. Due to the fact that the female body has unique physiological characteristics, and the emotional sphere of women is more sensitive than men, the Iyengar program for women is based on a special asana complex. By practicing these special asanas, a woman will learn to listen to her inner feelings and desires. In addition, she will be able to preserve the youth of her body and skin as long as possible.
  9. This yoga style pays special attention to inverted poses.
  10. Iyengar yoga uniforms relaxation and stretching of the body during staying in asana.
  11. During yoga class, the yoga teacher usually provides a detailed explanation of each asana.

The above-mentioned features of Iyengar yoga speak about the individual approach to each individual person during the classes, which makes this practice, in comparison to others, more accessible.

What Are Iyengar Yoga Benefits?

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Compared to classical yoga, Iyengar yoga has some advantages. One of the most important is that this type of yoga allows you to quickly achieve the correct performance of asanas (thanks to the props), relieving excessive stress from the body.

Other benefits of Iyengar yoga relate mainly to the effects on the human body, among them such as:

  • wellbeing;
  • strengthening the musculoskeletal system;
  • the improvement in cardiac performance;
  • normalization of the nervous system;
  • strengthening of immunity;
  • getting rid of back pain and other muscle aches;
  • stabilization of a hormonal level;
  • increase of endurance, concentration, flexibility.

In addition to the above, this type of yoga increases stress resistance and helps to eliminate bad habits.

Iyengar Yoga Levels Of Difficulty

Depending on how experienced a practitioner is, this type of yoga uses different programs with appropriate levels of difficulty:

Introduction Level

This level is designed for beginners. Practitioners learn to practice relaxation, asanas in a sitting and standing position. The introduction level prepares practitioners for the inverted poses.

Basic Level

This level includes a more thorough practice of asanas in sitting and standing positions and also inverted poses. Then there is a transition to more complex exercises – headstand and shoulders stand. Practitioners prepare for the practice of pranayama.

Intensive Level

The most difficult asanas and pranayama are performed on this level.

Meditation Technique

According to the Iyengar method, a conscious approach to the world around us is continuous meditation. This means that entering into a meditative state you need to live in it constantly. Exactly the same approach applies to Iyengar yoga. According to Iyengar, meditation is not the end of all asanas, it accompanies all asanas, helping to free the mind during the yoga practice and through the purity of consciousness to achieve awareness.

Iyengar Yoga For Women

Yoni Yoga Image

There is a separate school of Iyengar yoga for women. Its author is B.K.S. Iyengar’s daughter – Geeta S. Iyengar. Since her childhood, she attended yoga classes, conducted by her father, and was well versed in both theory and practice.

Geeta Iyengar identified important cycles in a woman’s life, such as:

  • puberty;
  • menstruations;
  • pregnancy;
  • menopause.

In accordance with these periods, she selected special asanas for yoga practice.

There is an assumption that too intense yoga classes due to the impact of yoga practice on the hormonal background lead a woman to early menopause. For this reason, Geeta Iyengar advised practicing yoga gradually, without overloading. Also, she found it necessary to choose the right asanas in special periods, such as conception or pregnancy. She said that some asanas can prevent conception or can even cause a miscarriage.

The Bottom Line

Due to the fact that Iyengar yoga is available to almost everyone without restrictions, it is currently one of the most popular types of yoga in the world. Iyengar yoga classes are a great opportunity to develop physical endurance, improve your body, develop coordination and flexibility. A very important result of Iyengar yoga practice is getting rid of various negative emotions, depression, and anxiety. As a result, mental balance and positive emotions are acquired.

Health

Dosha Quiz: What Is Your Ayurvedic Body Type?

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How would you describe your body type?

This includes your height, body build, muscle development, and size. Are you tall, short, thin, stout, or thick? How would you best describe your body frame?

What effect do your eating habits have on your body weight?

eating habits dosha image Pexels.com

Is it easy for you to gain or lose weight?

What is your skin complexion?

skin complexion ayurveda image

What's your hair type?

hair type dosha image

What is your sleep pattern?

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Some people are light sleepers while others are deep sleepers. Do you awaken easily in the morning? Or do you struggle to get out of bed?

How would you describe your dreams?

dreams ayurveda image

How do you react to stress?

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Stress is normal in our day-to-day lives. However, we each cope with stress differently.

How would you describe your temperament?

Are you easy-going and accepting or are you lively and enthusiastic by nature?

How would you describe your decision-making process?

Decision making process image

Your ease at decision-making will vary depending on your dosha type. This may also influence how well you handle stress. Are you usually calm and collected or are you tensed at the slightest provocation?

How would you describe your energy type?

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Different doshas exhibit different energies around them. You will observe that some people are more lively, talkative, or active than others.

How would you describe your sexuality?

passion and sexuality ayurveda image

What climate do you feel most comfortable in?

How would you describe your memory?

How would you describe your thought process?

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What do you consider to be your shortcomings?

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Dosha Quiz: What Is Your Ayurvedic Body Type?
Vata Dosha

Vata Dosha Image

Vata dosha consists mostly of two elements: air and ether. You are exceptionally creative, communicative, and brimming with ideas. Generally, Vata is very vibrant and energetic. You have a very inventive and creative mind. You think outside the box but can become easily distracted. What’s more, your mood is highly dependent on the weather, people around you, and the foods you eat. Your mood can actually be quite unpredictable at times. Although you are a quick learner, your long-term memory is not that good. You are easily enthused, but run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and getting distracted by something new after just a short time. You frequently suffer from cold hands and feet. You love the excitement and new experiences. You are quick to anger but also to forgive. You are prone to worry and anxiousness and may often suffer from insomnia. According to Ayurveda, for optimal health, a Vata-dominant person should follow a regular daily routine, manage stress through meditation and other calming practices, and maintain a warm body temperature by avoiding cold weather and consuming warm foods and drinks.
Pitta Dosha

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is based on fire and water elements. You have a powerful intellect, a strong ability to concentrate, and big ambitions. You have a passion for leadership and are not afraid to speak up and take charge. You tend to be quite protective when provoked and are fierce opponents. You can be quite determined and don’t give up easily. Your aim is to win. You have bursts of energy to take on challenges. And you actually love a challenge, whether that's professionally or in sport. You can be a good decision-maker, a teacher, a manager, and a speaker. You have a knack for building connections and make very good friends. You are often honest and straight to the point. Although, sometimes you can be short-tempered, easily irritated, and argumentative. Those with a pitta-dominant dosha should focus on work-life balance and avoid extreme heat (e.g., weather, spicy food).
Kapha Dosha

Kapha Dosha Image

Kapha dosha is based on earth and water elements. You are usually calm, collected, and slow to anger, and therefore, not easily provoked. You are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. You are loving and caring, and this makes you a good acquaintance. You have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with a routine. Private joy in a stable partnership, healthy kids, and loyal friendships are the things you prioritize and that give you inner satisfaction, security, and personal happiness. You learn slowly with a high level of retention. Although you move slowly, you are very purposeful and enterprising. Most of all, you value inner tranquillity, peace, and harmony. You may tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. You may also resist change and be stubborn sometimes. For good health, a Kapha-dominant person should focus on regular exercise, a healthy diet, maintain a warm body temperature (e.g., by eating warm food), and establish a regular sleep routine.

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Yoga

Jnana Mudra: a Powerful Technique For Activating Your Crown Chakra

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Jnana mudra is one of the most widely used mudras in meditation practices, in Buddhism, yoga, and even in the martial arts of the East. The Buddha’s hand performing the Jnana mudra at the heart level is a symbol of openness to the whole universe. Being a gesture of openness to new things, this mudra also symbolizes the true knowledge of existence.

In this article, we will share with you what Jnana mudra is, what its benefits are, and how to practice it.

What Is Mudra?

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

What Is Jnana Mudra?

Jnana Mudra Practice Image

Jnana mudra is a yogic hand gesture that represents wisdom and knowledge. In Sanskrit, jnana means “wisdom” or “knowledge” and mudra means “gesture.” It is a hasta mudra, which means it is performed using the hands.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, we can activate the energy meridians and direct energy throughout the body, restore the flow of energy and eliminate “breakdowns” in diseased organs thus improve our health.

Different positions of the fingers have the ability to close or clear the energy channels. In addition, performing mudras, we affect the biologically active points of the palms and fingers.

When practicing Jnana mudra, we connect the thumb and index finger. The thumb symbolizes Brahman, or universal consciousness, whereas the index finger symbolizes Jivatma or the individual self. Therefore, the connection of the thumb and index finger represents the union of the supreme and inner realities. And the three extended fingers represent the three gunas that must be overcome: sattva (middle finger), rajas (ring finger), and tamas (little finger).

Each of the fingers has symbolic significance:

The index finger is associated with knowledge, wisdom, and self-confidence. It is connected to our life force.

The thumb is responsible for our ego, will, and logic. Also, this finger is associated with wisdom, mind, and awareness.

Also, it is important to know that each finger is associated with one of the 5 elements. Thumb represents the Fire element (Agni). The index finger is associated with the energy of the Air element (Vayu). Thus, Jnana mudra can be used to balance the elements of Fire and Air within the body. When we reach the balance between the Fire and Air elements within our bodies, we are able to still our mind, concentrate, and practice deep meditation.

Fingers Corresponding to the 5 Elements image

Also, the connection of the index finger and thumb allows prana to circulate freely inward, rather than dissipating outwards. By directing prana inward, we can sit in meditation for longer periods of time.

Jnana Mudra Benefits

On the subtle plane, the practice of Jnana mudra activates the Crown chakra (Sahasrara), whereas on the physical plan it helps you to harmonize biological rhythm, normalize blood pressure; eliminates anxiety and anxiety. Moreover, the regular practice of this mudra provides the following benefits:

  • helps to cope with depression and fatigue;
  • improves memory;
  • stimulates mental function;
  • helps to relieve insomnia;
  • boosts creativity;
  • develops intuition;
  • restores peace of mind;
  • enhances the connection with the Higher self;
  • lifts dull energy;
  • brightens mood.

How to Perform?

Although this mudra can be practiced in any yoga asana, it is most commonly used in a stable seated position such as easy pose or lotus pose. In Kundalini Yoga, this mudra is usually practiced with the hands resting on the knees and the elbows straight.

what is jnana mudra image
To practice Jnana mudra, follow these simple steps:
  1. Tuck your index finger under the tip of the thumb to form a circle.
  2. Extend the remaining three fingers.
  3. Rest the back of the hands on the thighs or knees, with palms facing upward.

Another variation of this mudra is to touch the tip of the index finger and thumb together, thereby forming a full circle.

When practicing this mudra, make sure your body is alert but relaxed, with little to no strain in the arms or extended fingers.

For maximum benefits, practice this mudra during your meditations for at least 15 minutes, 2-3 times per day.

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Shanmukhi Mudra: a Simple Stress Relief Technique

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Shanmukhi Mudra is a simple and effective way to calm your mind, relieve stress, and restore your nervous system.

With regular practice of this beautiful mudra, it is possible even to improve vision and hearing. It also promotes the development of internal concentration and the ability to detach from external stimuli and objects of the surrounding world.

In this article, we will share with you what Shanmukhi mudra is, what its benefits are, and how to properly practice it.

What Is Mudra?

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

What Is Shanmukhi Mudra?

Shanmukhi mudra is a yogic hand gesture that represents closing the six gates of perception – the two eyes, two ears, nose, and mouth. In Sanskrit, Shan means “six”; Mukhi means “face” or “gate”; and mudra, means “gesture”. Thus, Shanmukhi mudra means the ‘six-gated mudra’.

The purpose of the Shanmukhi Mudra is to symbolically shut the mind from the five senses so the mind can maintain an inward focus and get ready for meditation.

The Shanmukhi mudra practice helps the practitioner look within himself to find the very source of his being.

When all the senses turn inward and the breathing becomes harmonious, the mind calms down. As a result, you feel inner peace and now you are able to hear the voice of the Divine Self within you.

The Shanmukhi mudra practice helps you to free yourself from the domination of the senses and find the strength to take your desires, instincts, and emotions under control.

Shanmukhi Mudra Benefits

There are lots of amazing benefits the practice of Shanmukhi mudra can provide. Here are some of them:

  • Balances internal and external awareness;
  • Enhances focus and introspection;
  • Calms the mind and nervous system;
  • Clears energy blocks, giving room for easy flow of prana;
  • Relaxes and rejuvenates the eyes and facial muscles;
  • Creates a state of pratyahara;
  • Ensures the smooth functioning of the facial nerves;
  • Reduces anxiety;
  • Helps to deepen the meditation practice;
  • Alleviates vertigo problems and brings a calming effect to the head;
  • Helps to remove negative thoughts and worries;
  • Promotes clear thinking;
  • Helps Kundalini awakening.

For maximum benefit, this mudra should be accompanied by pranayama or bandhas (energetic locks). Shanmukhi mudra is commonly practiced with brahmari pranayama, also known as Humming Bee Breath. In this pranayama, the mudra enables the practitioner to focus on the inner vibration created by the humming breath.

How to Perform?

Shanmukhi mudra is usually performed in a stable, seated meditation posture such as padmasana (Lotus Pose) or sukhasana (Easy Pose).

To practice Shanmukhi mudra, follow these simple steps:

  1. Sit in the Lotus Pose or Easy Pose. Straighten the spine and align the position of the head.
  2. Bring your palms up to your face. Raise your elbows to shoulder level and place your thumbs in the ear canal, muffling external sounds.
    If you feel pain, place your fingers on the tragus of the auricle (small protrusions at the base of the auricle) and press them against the ear canal.
  3. Close your eyelids and rise your eyeballs up. Place your index and middle fingers on your eyelids so that the first two phalanges completely cover the eyeball area. Do not press on the cornea. Use your middle fingers to point your eyelids down, and use your index fingers to lift the upper parts of your eyelids up. Gently press on the outer and inner corners of the eyes.
  4. The pressure on the ears and eyes should be equal.
  5. Use your ring fingers to apply pressure evenly to your right and left nostrils. This will narrow the nasal passages, which will promote slow, deep, even, rhythmic, subtle breathing.

Practice the mudra for five to ten minutes.

The Bottom Line

As a result of turning all the senses inwards and concentrating on deep and slow breathing, the mind becomes calm. When performing this mudra, it’s common to experience:

  • a distinct sound in the ears;
  • the appearance of flashes of light and various images on the internal “screen”;
  • vibrations, thrusts, tingling, heat, or other sensations inside the body.

All these feelings are quite normal.

 

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