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Integrated Well-being that is Yoga. (September 2012).
We strive for healthy living and a sense of balance in our lives. We focus on physical fitness in order to maintain a sense of well-being. Being physically fit is only part of the puzzle to gaining optimum health. Mental health, emotional health and spiritual health integrated with our physical well-being provide complete balance and nourishment of body, mind and most importantly, the soul.
In this day of deadlines and stress, our general state of health is compromised on a daily basis. Providing equal maintenance of physical, mental and emotional health is the key to relieving stress, to reducing physical ailments and injuries and to experiencing contentment with all that we do. This union of integrated health is achieved with Yoga. Yoga means "to yoke together" or "to unite" and so with regular practice of Yoga, the body, the mind and the soul unite together to provide a thorough workout that ensures ideal health and well-being.
Our thoughts and actions determine our state of well-being. Our emotional state can determine our physical well-being. Maintaining positive thoughts and balancing our emotions have an immediate effect on our physical state. Only Yoga provides the medium for exercising and balancing health on all these levels.
When practicing the numerous asanas, (Sanskrit term for poses), that include standing poses, balances, forward bends, back bends, twists, inversions, prone and supine postures, the body is exercised fully. Yoga postures do not only exercise the outer layer of the body but internally too on all the internal organs and most essentially, the heart, the lungs, the brain and the cerebral spinal system. Together with the physiological maintenance of all the systems the practice of Yoga poses also activate and balance the astral body by focusing on the Chakras or Energy centers of the body. The main ones being:
Muladhara Chakra = The Root Chakra whose inner aspect focuses primarily on grounding spiritual energies. The physical action centers on sexuality; the mental actions focuses on stability; the emotional action is that of sensuality and its spiritual action dwells on security.
Svadisthana Chakra = The Sacral Chakra which deals with relationships, including sexual relationships and how we deal with others thus the inner theme is feeling. Its physical action is reproduction; mental action is creativity; the emotional actions centers on joy and the spiritual actions focuses on enthusiasm.
Manipura Chakra = The Naval Chakra is primarily concerned with the relationship with one’s self thus the energy is that of self power, self confidence and self esteem. The physical action is based on digestion; the mental action is that of power; the emotional aspect that of expansiveness and the spiritual action is centered on growth.
The Anahata Chakra = The Heart Chakra is the centre of all the energy centers that link the physical chakras already mentioned with the spiritual chakras that follow above from it. The heart chakra focus on compassion and love for one self, love for others and love for the Divine. The physical aspect of Anahata is that of circulation; the mental action concerns passion and the spiritual action dwells on devotion.
The Vishuddha Chakra = The Throat Centre that deals primarily with communication, most importantly truthful and non harming communication with oneself and with others. The mental action is that of clear thoughts whilst the spiritual aspect concerns security.
The Ajna Chakra – The Eyebrow Centre is the centre for intuition, knowledge and wisdom that allows for an emotional action of clarity and the spiritual action of meditation.
The Sahasrara Chakra = The Crown Centre whose physical action is that of meditation and most importantly this practice leads to a connection with the Divine.
When one begins a Yoga class, initially the main reason is based purely on physical aspects of exercise, stretching, toning and becoming healthier. This reason to explore Yoga is indeed a valid one because a Yoga practice does in fact provide physical health. The beauty about Yoga is that from this physical practice one begins to realize that Yoga is also working on the sub conscious levels and with regular practice, one feels a sense of mental and emotional serenity developing and enhancing one’s entire being. From that there is a feeling of being more connected with oneself and this in itself is the spiritual connection that one may seek or naturally finds along the path because the practice of yoga is after all a journey of self discovery and connecting with one’s higher self.
So is the physical movement of Yoga a spiritual process in itself? From very personal experience and that shared with fellow teachers and many beautiful students, the answer is abundantly clear, and as the master, B.K.S. Iyengar himself wrote:
"Where does the body end and the mind begin? Where does the mind end and the spirit begin? They cannot be divided as they are interrelated and but different aspects of the same all pervading divine consciousness."
Discover the gift of integrated health with Yoga and enjoy the journey of enlightenment!
Featured as the focus article for the Metavarsity September 2012 Newsletter and Yoga Awakening Africa Blog September 2012.
The Light of Communication. (February 2010).
Public Relations can be defined as “the management, through communication, of perceptions and strategic relationships between an organization and its internal and external stakeholders.” The key word being communication. Without the right communication, the sharing of words, thoughts and ideas, there can be no solid management of an organization and its members, both internal and external. The same principle applies with Yoga. As Yoga is the “Yoking” or “Union” of Body, Mind and Soul, this form of integrated health, philosophy and lifestyle needs to be communicated correctly, the information needs to be shared, but most importantly communicated truthfully and with love in order for the teachings of Yoga to be managed respectfully.
The fundamental teachings of Swami Sivananda of Sivananda Integral Yoga teaches the yoga aspirant to “Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise.” Serving others, loving others, loving the work that we do selflessly, giving without expectation, giving with love is sharing and meditating in order to overcome attachments and negative thinking will enable us to “practice selfless service of humanity and cultivate cosmic love.”
How do we practice this? By sharing. How do we share? By communicating. Through the yoga community and enterprises such as Yoga Awakening Africa, we have a forum for Yoga teachers and Yoga students to communicate and share what is occurring daily, weekly and monthly in the community.
Perhaps as an aspiring teacher one may be hesitant to share with other studios or teachers for fear of competition or lack of enough members. However, it is exactly what the Yoga community needs to do to respect the spirit of Yoga which is to unite, to integrate and share the gift that is Yoga.
Communicating through newsletters keeps fellow yogis and yoginis informed about workshops, retreats, latest studio news, recipes and visits to our beautiful shores by renowned International teachers. Creating a network of communication for teachers to share their stories and news has truly brought the yoga community closer over the years. A wonderful example of this was highlighted through Email and the newsletter announcing the screening of “Love and the Art of Giving” a documentary on Swami Satyanada, a disciple of Swami Sivananda on the 7th February 2010.
The response was beautiful! I was part of an audience that filled the theatre to over capacity with eager viewers sitting on the floor in the aisles. The one hour film was not only educational but so inspiring! What inspired me more was seeing fellow teachers and new Yoga faces gathered together to share the experience. This was achieved through communication by fellow teachers.
The message of sharing and communicating the message of giving has extended from Ashrams in India to all parts of the world including the shores of Cape Town for teachers to communicate Yoga to HIV/AIDS suffering communities and prisons. Communicating through Yoga that there is joy in living, joy in giving, joy in sharing and joy in loving through Yoga - no matter what the circumstances.
Yoga is an integrated system and philosophy; it is a way of life. Part of Yoga educates us about the chakras or energy centres of the body. How appropriate that the 5th Chakra, the throat centre or Vishuddha Chakra focuses on truth and communication.
So as teachers and as students, let us unite together in Yoga, not just in asanas, but as the word itself expresses, to communicate this philosophy with truth, with conviction and with open arms to embrace each other and to share this marvelous gift that is Yoga!
Wishing you blessings of loving communication.
Featured in Yoga Awakening Africa March 2010 Newsletter & Yoganomics USA Website 2010.