health, yoga & creative lifestyles

Ocean waves

Like a wave is inseparable from the whole ocean, you too are not a separate self, but are connected to all existence.  This brings  great joy.

SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF YOGA

Face of Buddha, oil painting, 1969, by Janet D. Luongo

Buddha, 1969, by Janet D. Luongo

At an ashram 37 years ago I was taught by a swami that yoga was not a specific religion, but was the essence of all religions.  Yogis recognize incarnations of the Supreme Being in Krishna, Buddha and Jesus, among others.  

FOCUS WITHIN

Close your eyes and focus on the spot between your eyebrows, or the “third eye.”  Repeat to yourself, “Om.”  This is a sacred sound, the first word, according to the ancient scriptures of  yoga, the Vedas.  It is a powerful vibration.

ABILITY TO SERVE WITHOUT EGO

Everything you do, any duty you perform as work or charity, you do with a full sense of presence to the best of your ability. You let go of the outcome. You are confident that good actions you perform with love are a reward in themselves.

Jesus meditating

Jesus meditating, 1907, artist unknown

YOU DETACH FROM OTHERS’ CRITICISM

When you feel grounded in your own Self, you are free from the opinions of others, whether they praise or criticize you. 

GREATER SELF AWARENESS

In yoga you begin to witness yourself.  You can see yourself as an actor in a movie, speaking, acting.  You become aware of your patterns of thought and action, and awareness is the first step in making any changes you desire.

 SENSE OF PURPOSE

Meditating gives you the tools to become conscious of your Higher Self.

A FEELING OF BEING CONNECTED

Once you go inward and awaken your soul, you feel connected to all other beings.

ON THE LIGHT SIDE: Our egos are like ripples

 ripples on the shore

little ripples on the shore

My guru, Yogi Hari, shared an amusing metaphor, comparing our human ego to a ripple in the ocean.  Like our ego drives us to pump up our individual importance and pride, the little ripple wants to be a bigger ripple – a tidal wave, a tsunami – wow!  If only the ripple realized it was already one with the whole Ocean, it would feel more potent and immense than can possibly be imagined.

Yogi Hari smiling

Yogi Hari smiling

Please see below – reply and write a comment. I’d love to hear from you.  Click the back button and see my past posts – the benefits of yoga on:  diet, emotions, and on our physical and mental states.

Namaste,

Janet

P.S. Click EVENTS  tab at top for my yoga classes – I would love to share this beautiful experience with you.

You can see my guru, where I earned certification, and order from his bookstore at www.yogihari.com.

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Jewell Lake - clear, with reflections of clouds

Imagine your mind like a lake –  

you can only see clearly to the bottom if the lake is still.  

Sit quietly with eyes closed

and allow all thoughts and emotions that arise to float by like puffs of clouds.  

MENTAL BENEFITS OF YOGA

CALM

The true aim of the yoga exercises is to enable you to sit in meditation.  You learn to still your mind, which brings you a sense of your true nature – love and peace.  You watch negative emotions and thoughts arise, and calmly let them go.  You witness your mind chattering with nonsense and negative thoughts and detach from those.  You attach to your higher self and your unlimited potential.

MIND-BODY COORDINATION

Breathing while doing the postures connects the mind and body.  You are constantly bringing your mind to the present moment, to your breath, to your posture.

SELF-IMPROVEMENT

You go inward and  look for your “edge”  which is the limit your mind is dictating.  You may then explore, without force or pain, going beyond your edge to hold a posture just a little longer, to relax into it just a little more.  Be glad for even one micro-movement of improvement at a time.

FOCUSED MIND

There are many methods to focus the mind in yoga – chanting, deep breathing, and repeating a mantra, as well as silent meditation.  All lead to an uncluttered mind that has clarity, enabling you to increase your mental power.

SELF RESPECT

After you engage in yoga, you become more connected to your body, thinking about it and moving it in ways you didn’t before.  You become aware of your body’s powerful physiological systems that function through an intelligence beyond your own will and knowledge. You are making movements that greatly benefit the body, you are caring for yourself.  The discipline it takes to do yoga leads to greater self-respect.

POSITIVE THINKING

A principle of Hatha yoga, which starts with the physical body, is to think positive thoughts.  Thoughts affect your body. You learn to recognize negative thoughts and emotions, which drain you, and substitute positive ones that give you more energy. Positive thoughts make you happier and healthier.

GREATER HAPPINESS

When you feel relaxed and re-energized and your mind is calm, you feel more peaceful and happy.

If you practice controlling your mind through meditation daily for even ten minutes to a half hour, people will notice that you are much more calm and relaxed.

JANET’S NOTE:

The path of yoga that starts with controlling the mind is called Raja yoga. Practice meditation in a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position, with a straight back.  If you can, work toward sitting in a cross-legged position on the floor.  But the main thing in the beginning is to not be distracted by any body discomfort.  Enjoy going inward and experience the wealth of benefits.

Please see below – reply and write a comment. I’d love to hear from you.  Click the back button and see my past posts – the benefits of yoga on:  diet, emotions, and physical.

My next post will be on the spiritual benefits of yoga.

Namaste,

Janet

P.S. Click EVEN TS above for my yoga classes – I would love to share this beautiful experience with you.

You can see my guru, where I earned certification, and order from his bookstore at www.yogihari.com

Sampoorna Yoga Cook Book - by Tara Sukhu

Sampoorna Yoga Cook Book - by Tara Sukhu

To have an even, balanced, consistent energy, follow the lead of Goldilocks in choosing foods. Avoid foods that are too stimulating, too dulling, and enjoy foods that are “just right.”

food and mood

In the Sampoorna Yoga Cook Book, Yogi Hari writes that food determines the condition of the mind, and since “yoga is the process of gaining perfect control of the mind…knowledge of food and diet is the first priority for a Yogic practitioner.  Preliminary in every spiritual discipline is caring for the body.”

“Diet should be adapted to one’s constitution” (or body type) and to the sort of person you are.  There are three sorts of people:  rajasic, tamasic, and sattvic.

“too stimulating” 

“Rajasic people are restless, motivated by greed and pursue success and power.  Rajasic foods are too spicy, bitter or sour.  Examples are spices, coffee, tea, onions and garlic.  These foods agitate the mind, making it difficult for the Yogi to meditate or to maintain a focused, peaceful mind.”

“too dulling”

At the other extreme are Tamasic people who can be “gross, lazy and dull.  Tamasic food is stale, overripe, reheated.  Examples are meat and alcohol (and processed food).  They make one dull and lazy and induce negative thoughts.”

“just right”

“Sattvic people are peaceful, calm, focused and pure in heart and mind,” which is the ideal.  “Sattvic people like foods that increase their prana, energy, strength, purity, joy and health.  Such foods add to the pleasure and cheerfulness of physical and mental life.  They are juicy, soothing, fresh and agreeable.”

stuffed veggies, Sampoorna

stuffed veggies, Sampoorna

Yogi Hari gives examples of sattvic foods:  “healthy food such as fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, whole bread, whole rice, milk, ghee, sprouts, honey and herbal tea.”  They are ideal because they help the Yogic practitioner to be balanced and to gain control of the mind and “reach the ultimate goal of transcendence.”

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Taking into consideration your own culture and genetic make-up, and how your individual body reacts to food, make your personal choices “just right” for you.

 Tara’s Sampoorna Yoga Cook Book uses sattvic ingredients in recipes.  I can attest they are delicious from my delightful stay at the ashram.  To order go to www.yogihari.com.

Namaste,

Janet

EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF YOGA

Practicing Yoga leads to you to feel renewed energy, relaxed, and happy. 

Wonder! little boy, shell & wave

Wonder! little boy, shell & wave, art by Janet Luongo

GREATER ENERGY

Postures, breathing and relaxation open up energy channels along your spine called chakras and the life force flows more freely within you.

FEELING PEACE

After doing yoga and meditation you feel a peaceful sense of emotional well-being.

LESS STRESS

The deep breathing in the yoga exercises stimulates receptors in the lower lung that transmit calming hormones. You develop more awareness of your body and notice where you are holding tension. During your practice you learn how to breath into areas of tightness and let go.  In your daily life, continue to notice tension developing and immediately relax and breathe into it and you will release stress.

TRANSFORMATION

Once I began practicing yoga and went to my first weekend retreat 37 years ago with Swamiji in the Catskill Mountains, NY, I felt transformed. Through going inward in the meditation, I found a part of myself I hadn’t found anywhere else.  I became so much more aware of  myself – like I was standing outside of myself, watching myself going through my day.  I became aware when tension arose, and learned to step back from it.  Yoga changed every part of my life, even during periods when I could not practice the powerful exercises as much as I wanted.  The effect of yoga for me is more in its philosophy and how it raises consciousness.   Yoga opened me up when I was a young woman and allowed me to attract my soul mate, and to begin my lifelong career as a teacher.  Now, after studying with Yogi Hari, I welcome more unfolding of my higher self.

My next post will be on the YOGA DIET, a practice to manage mood…

Namaste,

Janet

Yogi Hari with Janet at graduation

In April I resided in Yogi Hari’s ashram and, after beginning my practice of yoga 37 years ago, I finally earned my yoga teacher certification.

It was wonderful studying with an Indian Yogi who underwent extreme self discipline for 7 years at an ashram to master Hatha yoga, and another 14 years mastering the yoga of sacred sound.  Hatha yoga is the path of yoga usually taught in America under various names, with the emphasis on the exercises. But there is more to Hatha yoga.  This one path includes breathing, relaxation, diet and positive thinking.  In addition there are 5 other paths of yoga. All paths lead to awareness of your higher self. Yogi Hari includes all six paths of yoga in the method he taught me – Sampoorna Yoga – the yoga of fullness.

You may be surprised that yoga benefits you on all levels: physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual. Today I’ll share a few…

 PHYSICAL BENEFITS of YOGA

A COMPLETE BODY WORKOUT

Stretching: Yoga is often known for exercises good for stretching and flexibility, such as forward bends.

Strength building: Yoga postures, such as the plank and leg lifts, are some of the best to tone your muscles through resistance, using your own body weight.

Cardio: Do 6 rounds of the sun salutations and you will get your heart rate up!

Yoga Protects your spine and back. Sitting up straight in a cross legged position strengthens your back muscles.  Leg lifts develop leg and core abdomen muscles which the body can use when lifting instead of over-relying on the back. Stretching ham strings also protects the back. Back bends use muscles we rarely use.

INNER BODY WORKOUT

Yoga postures tone your inner body as well as the muscles of your outer body.  Head to knee poses massage inner organs in the abdomen, and inverted postures such as the shoulder stand stimulates your thyroid gland.

Imagine that!

Next post, I’ll share the EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF YOGA…

Yoga is spreading globally – Look for a class near you, or contact me if you live in Fairfield Co., CT, to find out my schedule.

Namaste

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