Yoga practice

Karma yoga – A Kuwait Yoga Teachers Blog

World of Karma – Beginning

Without a doubt, at least once in life we have heard the word Karma. However, not all of us have a clear understanding of the meaning of it.

First, Karma means movement of change and this change is brought about by action or deed. Moreover, Karma is something we can not avoid. In fact, when we are born we have to act. We get food, earn living, interact with the outside world. Second, it is not possible to exist without Karma. Third, absence of Karma means absence of life.

In the modern world, the explanation of Karma will be “what goes around comes around.”

If you give out good energy and positive vibes, it will come back to you in a full circle. The same can be said for negative energy and thoughts.

New life Karma

In the modern world, the explanation of Karma will be “what goes around comes around.”

Spirit of Karma in Yoga practice  

Many people live their lives on autopilot mode. They are not aware that their thoughts influence their realities. Much of the unrest we see in the world today is a direct result of people’s thoughts. All of the conflicts, wars, complaining, and general unhappiness begins with a thought carried out with action.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means union. The roots of yoga are founded in a philosophy of union. Union of the mind, body and soul. Union of the self with the divine. It is the concept of oneness — of each individual being a part of a universal consciousness.

Busy people

Through Karma yoga we learn kindness and compassion without an expectation of gain.

Yoga is a union

Karma yoga – Yoga of action

If we integrate Karma and Yoga together, the meaning of Karma Yoga will be action that joins or unite. It is the action that joins us to everything around. And what is around? It is the creation of God, which includes living beings, nature, animals, other human beings. Any action that unite us to everything around us is Karma Yoga.

Karma yoga is the yoga of action. It is about purifying your heart by learning to act selflessly in service of others. Through Karma yoga we learn kindness and compassion without an expectation of gain. The idea being that learning these lessons helps us to step away from our ego. I fact, it is freeing us to move one step further on the path to enlightenment.

Karma yoga – Three attributes of action

 According to Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu sacred text, there are three attributes of actions. Therefore, if the action has these three dimensions, then it will be Karma yoga.

 First, the action should be without selfish desire. Apparently, desires create strong attachments. So, as a result of desires, we have attachments to the fruit of our action. These attachments are the cause of our stress and unhappiness.

Yoga and study

For example, if you are studying for the exam and you can achieve a higher grade then you may get highly paid job. And then you will get attachment with higher grade and this attachment brings lot of stress. It means that in Karma yoga the action should be performed without any desires. After that, while you perform any action without any attachment then you have no stress, anxiety and depression even if you fail.

Karma yoga – The second dimension

The second dimension of Karma Yoga is selfless action. In other words, action without false ego and action not for me. When you are doing something, you say: “I am doing it for myself.” That “I” is false ego.

For example, I decide to travel to Paris for the Christmas holidays, but if I cannot travel that leads to a big disappointment and sad feelings.

In Karma yoga there is no sad feelings, no quilt and just peace and contentment.

The third dimension is that it should be in line with your duty, responsibility. The right action in that moment and situation and space.

For instance, if I am a mother then I have certain duties towards my children. Moreover, if I live in a society then I have to follow the law and respect others. The society has given me a lot, so I have to give back. After all, I receive so much from mother nature. That means I have to give back to mother nature.

Good vibes

In Karma yoga there is no sad feelings, no quilt and just peace and contentment.

Karma yoga – Daily practice of every human being

How can we practice Karma yoga in our daily life?

First, when it comes to practicing Karma yoga, it is important that the service comes from a selfless place. It is about giving to those in need, sharing love, and spreading light.

Second, start practicing Karma Yoga at home, with yourself. In other words, when you live your life with awareness, you carve a path to nourish the universe that eventually nourishes you. Besides, being kind to ourselves and taking care of ourselves is not selfish but rather critical. If you are not healthy and peaceful, you cannot help others.

Good Karma to help orphan kids

Be honest with people, tell the truth. Put out your best effort and stay your true self in the world, and the universe will send you experiences and people to match your energy.

Help others and they will appreciate your help. Surprisingly, you will make an ever-lasting mark on their life. When you help others, you also help yourself. Everyone needs a purpose in life, and helping people should always be a part of that purpose.

Recycle

Karma yoga – Way of right living

Contribution is a big part of Karma yoga practice. It might be a donation, volunteering or simply listening to someone (friend or doorman) who is having a bad day. Nevertheless, this is also a contribution. Helping an elderly person carry groceries is also a contribution – a huge one!

Be kind and respectful to nature and animals. People need to respect nature and living things. The environment is also good for our health and helps us to breathe too.

Hurting the environment hurts animals and pollutes the earth. Hence, Karma yoga takes a huge part in saving the environment of mother nature.

In conclusion, whatever you choose to do, making the above things a regular part of your life. This is the key of practicing Karma yoga. It can become more than just a practice. After all, it can become a way of your truthful and harmonious life.

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Meaning of cleansing process in Hatha yoga – A Kuwait Yoga Teachers Blog

Meaning of cleansing process in Hatha yoga – Beginning 

 We all know that the cleansing is a natural process. Every living being has its own way to clean. Rain is a very good example of cleansing process in nature. Animals, even the little birds have bath and clean themselves. Finally, human beings life has a huge part in the cleansing process too.

In fact, we are very absorbed about a daily cleansing during whole life circle. Every day we take a shower, clean our teeth, evacuate our bowels etc. Many of us like to take a shower or bath, and we really enjoy that. However, when it comes to Yoga cleansing techniques, things are different. Constant yoga followers reluctant or even refuse to practice those techniques.

Why do so many of us, who like to clean themselves not like there Hatha Yoga Cleansing techniques? Nevertheless, they are many reactions which are probably responsible for this negative reaction to the yoga way of cleansing.

cleansing is a natural process

Every person in the world wants to be in control of their body. However in cleansing techniques people have a very little control.

Meaning of cleansing process in Hatha yoga – Fear of Criticism

 The first reason can be in the social acceptability of these techniques. In society we are taught not to display the negatives or waste products that our body and mind produce. We often think that it is not proper to do it in front of others or in society itself. What will other people think about it? Society will think that it is a mannerless person. It calls a fear of criticism. Obviously, it can be obstructing the acceptance of these cleansing techniques.

human beings in the cleansing process

Many yoga teachers are introducing at least a few techniques in their classes. Most of them can be performed at an advanced level only, after years of yoga practice.

meditation and yoga

Meaning of cleansing process in Hatha yoga – Emotional makeup

The second reason is related to our own emotional makeup. We often suppress our emotions, we may not express ourselves. This creates an emotional stress in the deeper mind.

For example, memory of sad events and negative experiences. This can create similar experiences in our mind.

We all know that as the body and mind are closely related. The mind resists as it is scared of letting the negatives accumulated come out. 

This happens when we are trying to bring the waste products from inside of the body. Sometimes when sudden death of a close person creates emotional strain. We know that it is better to cry and release these trapped energy in this situation. Cleansing is a simple release of these emotional stress on the physical level. It is definitely affecting the mind in a positive way.

Meaning of cleansing process in Hatha yoga – The other reason

  The other reason is the lack of control during the practice. That is why we are reluctant to practice cleansing techniques. Every person in the world wants to be in control of their body. However, in cleansing techniques we have a very little control.

Sometimes we have various thoughts and emotions. We definitely express them in a totally different way. There is a split between what is inside and what we show outside. The cleansing techniques bring out what is inside on a physical level. Moreover, as the body and mind are connected, people are scared of letting these internal experiences from the mind to come out.

meaning of the cleansing in hatha yoga

However, there are 6 different techniques of cleansing in Hatha Yoga. We briefly discussed about them in the previous article Traditional Hatha Yoga. All of them have to be practiced only under the guidance of yoga expert. Also, remember that the improper practice might cause some serious health side effect.

Meaning of cleansing process in Hatha yoga – Magnificent Techniques

 Many yoga teachers are introducing at least a few techniques in their classes. In fact, most of them can be performed at an advanced level only, after years of yoga practice.

We are going to discuss about first technique, which is Kapalbhati or Frontal Lobe Cleansing.

In the process of Kapalbhati exhalation is fast and with jerk. However, inhalation is slow, passive and without any effort. Emphasis is given more on the process of exhalation.

In natural respiration, emphasis is on inhalation and it is active. However, exhalation is passive. In Kapalbhati the process is exactly reversed. It gives us more importance to exhalation and less importance to inhalation.

The benefits of Kapalbhati are different. It helps us to clear and purify the mucus, dust, carbon particles from the respiratory tract. Also it helps to improve digestion, the function of liver and pancreas. It increases the strength of abdominal muscle and the diaphragm.

stillness in yoga

Regular practice under the guidance of yoga expert will help to the state of health on both physical and mental levels.

Meaning of cleansing process in Hatha yoga – Magnificent Techniques

 Second technique is Neti or Nasal cleansing. Magnificent practice, helps to remove obstructions from the nostrils. It creates a proper air flow through the nostrils. It also helps to improve the secretion and functioning of the nose, throat and ear. This technique opens up the inner ear, which helps to improve hearing and prevent ear infection. It helps to get rid of and prevent tonsillitis, allergies, cough, cold, hay fever. The practice supports to remove the accumulated mucus from the sinuses. Finally, gives relief to migraine.

 Third, Vaman Dhouti or Regurgitive cleansing helps to increase the efficiency of the abdominal muscles. As large amount of water consumes, it stretches the stomach muscles. It also helps to remove excess mucus and acid secretion. It will not be absorbed as the water is salted. Instead, water along with toxins from the blood will come in the stomach and will be vomited out. So, it is a process which helps in digestive problems. It also improves digestion, improves the strength of abdominal muscles, and relieve the pressure on the heart.

 Fourth, Shankha Prakshalana or Master cleansing. In fact, this technique is described in “Gherand Samhita”. It is a text on Hatha Yoga written by Sage Gherand in 13th Century. Many diseases like diabetes, IBS, colon related problems can be effectively treated with Master cleansing.

Hatha Yoga Cleansing techniques

It is a process of consuming of salted water with lemon followed by complex of exercises. Generally, this process should be done in presents of yoga of even medical expert. Besides, salt can increase blood pressure during the practice. Also, there are some more precautions which are not allowed to practice this technique.

meaning of cleansing in modern life

Meaning of cleansing process in Hatha yoga – Eyes Cleansing

 Finally, Trataka or Eyes Cleansing. This is a process of looking intently and to gaze at a small single point until tears are shed from the eyes. Candle flame is usually used for the Trataka practice. Even after closing eyes the impression of candle flame remains for a long time.

The practice helps us to improve the function of our eyes. It gives relief from eyes strain, headache, myopia and the early stages of cataract. The eyes become brighter by the magnificent practice of Trataka.

More importantly, Trataka has an effect on the mind and brain. It is useful in cases of depression, insomnia. It will also help to increase memory and concentration.

 As we can understand now, yoga cleansing techniques surely affect our body and mind. It helps us to bring purification which leads to our physical health. It also leads to a strong mind and controlled emotions. Regular practice under the guidance of yoga expert will help to the state of health on both physical and mental levels.

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The science of breathing in yoga – A Kuwait Yoga Teachers Blog

The science of breathing in yoga – Beginning 

 It’s assumed that we all know that breathing is an essential process in staying alive on this planet. It starts at the time of birth and stops at the death. We already have been talking about breathing in a previous article – Traditional Hatha Yoga. This article however will be focussed on the science of breathing during yoga practice.

Breathing is like no other body function because it connects us with our environment. Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. While human beings and animals inhale oxygen-rich air and exhale air high in carbon dioxide.

Meditation

Yoga breathing exercises help to increase the gas exchange in the lungs and in all the cells of the body.

The science of breathing in yoga – Respiratory Rate

 Perennially most of the time we breathe involuntarily. Thanks to respiratory-control centres located in the brain. An average adult respiratory rate varies between 12 to 20 breaths per minute per rest. It is moving about half a litre (1 pint) of air in and out of the lungs. This is the vital capacity.

When the adult exercises, the respiratory rate can go up to 35-45 breaths per minute. In this case, increasing vital capacity to over 4 litres (8 and half pints) of inhaled and exhaled air.

yoga practice in Kuwait

Yoga breathing exercises focus specifically on opening two major Nadis – the Pingala nadi and the Ida nadi – and strengthening the flow of Prana in them.

Stone and flower

The science of breathing in yoga – Mind and Breath 

 The mind, consisting of thoughts and emotions is closely related to the breath. When the mind is calm and relaxed, the breathing is smooth and slow. If you are stressed, the breathing is fast & shallow. But mostly through the chest.

When we get angry, the breathing becomes fast and forceful. In depressed states we sigh, when in pain we gasp and in anxiety it is shallow and rapid.

In this way, the mental and emotional states directly affect breathing.

The science of breathing in yoga – Prana

 Yoga breathing exercises help to increase the gas exchange in the lungs and in all the cells of the body. Oxygen is provided to all the parts of the body including organs and cells. After all oxygen is life, a vital force of energy.

According to a content of Hatha Yoga, this vital energy is called Prana. It found in all forms of life, from mineral to mankind, where its force controls and regulates every part of the body. 

Although prana is in all forms of matter, it is not matter itself. It is the energy that animates matter.

Prana is in the air, but it is not oxygen. It is in food, water, and sunlight. Yet it is not a vitamin, heat, or light. Food, water and air are only the media through which prana is carried. We absorb prana through the food we eat. As well as the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

Yoga and balance

According to the ancient yogic texts, prana circulates through the body in a network of 72,000 astral energy channels, or Nadis. It is a Sanskrit word, which means tube, pipe or blood vessel.

Yoga breathing exercises focus specifically on opening two major Nadis – the Pingala nadi and the Ida nadi – and strengthening the flow of Prana in them.

 The Pingala nadi corresponds to the right nostril and left hemispheres of the brain. The Ida nadi to the left nostril and right brain. In the mystical language of yoga, the Pingala nadi is warming and corresponds to Ha, or the Sun. The Ida is cooling and corresponds to Tha, or the Moon. Therefore the purpose of Hatha yoga is to bring the balance between Sun and Moon or Pingala and Ida nadis.

​​The science of breathing in yoga – Pranayama

 Afterward there is also a process of controlling the Prana. Furthermore, it is regulating the breath and calls Pranayama. It is the science related to vital force supplying energy and controlling the body mind complex. Every part of the body can be filed with prana and when we do this, the entire body is under our control and control of Pranayama.

Breathing is the process of taking in this vital energy and removing the waste products out of our body and mind. Generally breathing includes inhalation and exhalation. Pranayama also includes retention of breath. This is a very important process. The ancient texts say that retention of air increases the level of prana (energy) in the body. Also, it regulates the flow of pranic energy throughout the body. So, Pranayama in yoga practice helps remove all the ailments and also can stop the aging process of the body. 

Relaxation in yoga

Less breaths per minute we make, the longer is life.  In fact, animals, who takes less breaths per minute live longer. This is also believed to be why dogs generally have a short life compare to other animals.

​​The science of breathing in yoga – Benefits of Pranayama

 Currently there are different types of Pranayama which have a different effect on the body, mind and even spirit. Regular practice will train the respiratory muscles and develops use of your lungs capacity. It improves your body’s supply of oxygen while reducing its carbon dioxide levels. It also helps to relax and strengthen your nervous system, calm the mind, and improve concentration.

Pranayama practice is proven to energise the body. People who complain about weakness and have a low energy can be benefited as well.

Movements in Pranayama stimulates the heart and lung muscles improving blood circulation.

Sunset yoga

Pranayama is also useful in removing stress and mental problems like anxiety, depression, anger. It is useful for heart patients as well. 

The practice of Pranayama improves digestion, harmonizes the secretions of the reproductive organs and all the endocrine system.

Stretching exercise

 The most common practices of Pranayama are: Deep or fast breathing, Bellow’s breath, Humming Bee Breath. In addition, Cooling breath, Victorious breath, Alternate nostril breathing and more.

In order to archive the above benefits of Pranayama, always practice under the direct guidance of an expert yoga teacher. For the reason that it may be of no use or even it may be harmful to your health. Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced yoga practitioner.

Hence, aim to practice Pranayama for up to 20-30 minutes every other day, before or after asana practice. It will increase the flow of prana through the body, which literally recharges your body and mind and will make you happier every day of your life.

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Asanas and purpose of Asanas practice – A Kuwait Yoga Teachers Blog

Asanas and purpose of Asanas practice – The History.

 Surprisingly that the majority of people while practicing yoga do not know the meaning of the word Asana. Even more do not know the true purpose of Asanas practice.

Therefore, in this article I will try and explain from where world Asana came from. Also, what is Asanas mean and purposes of Asanas practice.

First of all, let me start from the meaning of word Asana. The Asana is derived from the Sanskrit, the language of ancient India.

“Asa”, which means existence or “to be established in to” and state of existence is Asana or Position. Eventually, Asana means the position of the body as well as the state of mind.

The oldest scriptures of Yoga and Asanas were discovered around 5000 years ago.

In fact, the first complete text on Yoga was written by Patanjali 500 years ago. He is the father of Yoga.

Patanjali defines Asana as a steady and comfortable position. So, it is necessary that the movement involved should be slow and steady. Moreover, fast and speedy movement, jerks and strains should be avoided too.

Buddha and asana practice

In the same way, in the Western world we call Asana a Yoga posture.

Asana practice

Asanas and purpose of Asanas practice – Important Steps.

 If you consider the Asana, there are 3 steps.

First: Taking the position.

Second is the Asana or position itself.

Third is releasing the position.

Furthermore, movements have to be slow and controlled. Additionally, while maintaining the position, one should perform with steadiness, comfort and relaxation.

Patanjali defines asanas as a steady comfortable position. He believed the purpose of asana was to develop the ability to sit comfortably in one position for an extended period of time. Especially a necessitative requirement for meditation.

Whereas, Hatha yogis say that when we are in particular asanas, energy channels and psychic centres are open. They found that they could control the mind and energy. It happens while developing control of the body through these particular asanas practice.

They say that asanas are tools to build higher awareness. It provides the necessary foundation for exploring the body, mind and higher states.

Asanas and purpose of Asanas practice – Significant Types.

 The Asanas can be classified depending on the application of the asanas.

Meditative asanas. The purpose of this asana is to stabilize the body for advanced practice of Pranayama (breathing) and Meditation.

In particular, Padmasana (Lotus pose) or Varjrasan (thunderbolt pose) are the great examples of meditative asanas.

Naturally, an experienced yogi can maintain these asanas for three hours without any discomfort. It is mastery on physical level, with a focus on the mind and breath.

Asanas for improving health. In this category we classified asanas which have a complementary effect on various organs and systems in the human body.

As an example, Matsyendrasana (spinal twist pose) has a good effect on the digestive system. In fact, specifically on the pancreas for improving the insulin production.

In another case, Sarvangasana (shoulder stand pose) has good results on the endocrine gland system, particularly the thyroid glands

Beautiful yoga practice

 Relaxing asanas. Give complete rest to the body and mind. Great example of this will be Shavasana (corpse pose) and Makarasana (crocodile pose).

As a result, both poses are showing a great impact on body relaxation. It applies before, during or after yoga practice.

Camel yoga posture in the desert

Asanas and purpose of Asanas practice – Meaningful Benefits.

 In Gherand Samhita (text on Hatha yoga) the author describes the effect of asanas as: “The result of Asana is perfecting the stability of body and mind.”

The similar description of Asana is found in Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It says that “One can achieve sound health, stability, lightness of body and mind with Asana”.

In the same way, we can see the other effects of asana in day to day life. As a result, quiet and calm mind, easy control over emotions. Therefore, improvement in attitude.

Increased immune capacity and efficiency are also one of the positive effects of asana practice.

Asanas and purpose of Asanas practice – Western view.

 Meanwhile, we know that the mind and body are not separate entities. Even though there is a tendency to think and act as though they are. Asana practice integrates and harmonises the two.

Apparently, there are tensions in both the mind and body. Each mental tension has a corresponding physical tension and vice versa. Asanas helps release these tensions.

A well-chosen set of asanas is effective in eliminating tensions from both the mental and physical levels.

The set has to be combined with pranayama, shatkarmas (cleansing techniques) and meditation.

Even it will help in the following:

  • Release dormant energy, giving the body vitality and strength
  • Provide the mind with peace and calmness.
  • Increase confidence in all areas in life.

If fact, if you correct the body through asana practice, you can correct many emotional disturbances of the mind.

For example, practicing asanas that have an effect on the digestive system will furthermore help to relieve anger and anxiety.

History of Yoga

​Increased immune capacity and efficiency are also one of the positive effects of asana practice.

beautiful combination

 To summarize, we shall state the main purpose of asana practice is to influence and integrate. Also, harmonise all levels of being – physical, pranic, mental, emotional and spiritual.

In any case asanas have also profound effects on every level of being if they are combined with awareness.

 Awareness to the whole body, peaceful mind and harmonious breathing.

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