What is Yoga

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What is Yoga

The word Yoga means "to join or yoke together," to bring the body and mind together. Yoga means union of the mind, body and spirit with the Divine and while this refers to a certain state of conciousness both individual and Universal, it is also a method to help one reach that goal.

Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is the oldest and most complete system of personal development in the world. Yoga is a life science that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Yoga is a guide to healthy living with a unique blend of physical exercises, psychological insight, and philosophy. 

Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Yoga means union. Yoga is the union of body, mind and soul. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning "yuj," (pron. "yug") meaning "to join", "to unite".

Article written by Anson Bingham. Source: Anson Bingham - ansonbinghamyoga.com, Sivananda Yoga - sivananda.org, The Divine Life Society - dlshq.org

Yoga is a system for wellbeing

Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. While Yoga is often equated with Hatha Yoga, the well-known system of postures and breathing techniques, Hatha Yoga is only a part of the overall discipline of Yoga.

Today, many millions of people use various aspects of Yoga to help raise their quality of life in such diverse areas as fitness, stress relief, wellness, vitality, mental clarity, healing, peace of mind and spiritual growth.

Yoga is a system, not of beliefs, but of techniques and guidance for enriched living. Among Yoga’s many source texts, the two best known are the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Both explain the nature of—and obstacles to—higher awareness and fulfillment, as well as a variety of methods for attaining those goals.

As in any field, some aspects of Yoga are too subtle to be learned from books or lectures; they must be acquired through experience. Hence Yoga’s time-honored emphasis on the student-teacher relationship, in which the teacher helps the student develop a practice that brings deeper understanding through personal experience.

Since the individual experience of Yoga is quite personal and may differ for each practitioner, there are a wide variety of approaches to its practice. Yoga has in recent times branched out in many new directions, some of which are quite different from its traditional emphases. All approaches to Yoga, however, are intended to promote aspects of wellbeing.

Article posted by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: yogaalliance.com, sivananda.org, dlshq.org, sivanandaonline.org

What is Meditation

Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati

Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati

What is Meditation

Meditation is a technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness. Meditation is the practice of constant observation of the mind to discover the infinite knowledge and wisdom within oneself. Positive thinking and meditation are the keys to peace of mind. Meditation is the method used to calm and focus the mind.

Regular practice promotes not only mental equanimity, but physical and spiritual well-being as well. Before we can meditate, though, we need to center the mind through concentration techniques and positive thinking. A mind full of negative thoughts and feelings is hard to calm down. By controlling the movements of the mind, we can eliminate negative thought patterns and reach the meditative super-conscious state

Meditation is a state of consciousness that can only be understood through direct experience and intuition. Unlike our everyday experiences, which are limited by time, space and by the laws of causality, the state of meditation transcends all limitations. In meditation, past and future dissolve. What remains is the single consciousness of ‘I am’ in the endless, eternal Now.

The Benefits of Practicing Meditation

  • Eases symptoms of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, anger and hostility

  • Promotes emotional health

  • Reduces levels of stress

  • Helps control pain

  • Lengthens attention span

  • Helps with insomnia

  • Reduces blood pressure

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Reduces activity in the craving-related area of the brain

  • Improves pain related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Enhances immune system function

  • Keeps the body youthful and prevents early aging

  • Creates happiness and harmony

  • Reduces age-related memory loss

  • Creates new patterns of thinking

  • Helps fight addictions

Article posted by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: yogaalliance.com, sivananda.org, dlshq.org, sivanandaonline.org

The Benefits of Yoga

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The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is the oldest and most complete system of personal development in the world. Yoga is a life science that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Yoga helps encourage proper breathing, calms the mind, reduces stress and anxiety, aligns muscles and bones, increases flexibility of the spine, strengthens bones and stimulates the circulatory and immune systems. 

Meditation is the practice of constant observation of the mind to discover the infinite knowledge and wisdom within oneself. Proper breathing techniques set the body's mental and physical energy in motion to revitalize both body and mind.

Yoga is a Science Not a Religion

Yoga is a life science that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Yoga physical exercises, known as asanas (yoga postures or poses) have a positive effect on all parts of the body. The asanas enhance the flexibility of the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and stimulate circulation.

Yoga exercises have a rejuvenating effect on the whole organism and are thus incomparable to any other system. When performed slowly and with awareness, the asanas give a sense of physical well-being. At the same time, they are a mental exercise in concentration and meditation.

Yoga for Good Health

Yoga exercises are primarily focused on the health of the spine. The spine is the base of the central nervous system, the body’s communication system. The spine is a direct extension of the brain, so a healthy, straight spine promotes the health of the entire body.

Keeping the spine strong and flexible through proper exercise stimulates blood circulation, ensures an adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen to the nerves, and maintains the ideal weight of the body.

The Flow of Prana (Life Force Energy)

Asanas stimulate the acupuncture zones of the body. When these points are activated, the flow of prana (life energy) increases. Performing the asanas massages the internal organs and boosts organ function.

Together with the yoga exercises of deep breathing, relaxation and concentration, asanas can help us develop control over the mind. The mind – by nature restless and always following sense impressions – is directed inwards, withdrawn from the objects of the senses and gradually brought under control.

The Physical Benefits of Yoga

Improves flexibility and balance
Increases muscle strength, endurance and stamina
Improves respiration, energy and vitality
Reliefs pain, including migraine headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain
Maintains a balanced metabolism and helps with weight reduction
Regulates adrenal glands and boosts immunity
Reduces blood pressure and improves cardio and circulatory health
Relieves osteoporosis and arthritis pain
Decreases cholesterol levels and improves heart function
Improves circulation, increases blood flow and drains lymphs
Creates a healthy digestive system
Helps strengthen and protect the body from injury
Improves posture, strengthens and protects the spine
Improves athletic performance

The Mental Benefits of Yoga

Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
Creates calmness of the mind
Increases body awareness
Creates mental clarity
Sharpens concentration

Article written by Anson Bingham
Read more articles written by Anson Bingham at www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: sivananda.org, dlshq.org, sivanandaonline.org

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

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The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga, which literally means eight-limbed yoga is a system outlined in the yoga sutras attributed to the ancient sage Patanjali.

The yoga sutras are general guidelines for spiritual growth through right living, and are universal. They are not beliefs, but methods that can be tested by each practitioner to see for himself or herself if they actually have the benefits that they claim.

The sutras consist of eight limbs or requirements to achieve full self-realization. They are not practiced in order, but are all developed together as one progresses on the spiritual path. Meditation is one such technique that helps a spiritual practitioner to develop in these areas.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

  1. Yamas (Rules of conduct) Sanskrit for "moral discipline" Spontaneous evolutionary behavior of conscious beings

  2. Niyama (Rules of personal behavior) Sanskrit for "moral observance" The internal dialogue of conscious beings

  3. Asana (Physical postures) Sanskrit for "body posture" Mind-body integration

  4. Pranayama (Breath control) Sanskrit for "breath control" Neurorespiratory integration; awareness and integration of the rhythms, seasons, and cycles of our life

  5. Pratyahara (Control of the senses) Sanskrit for "withdrawal of the senses" Tuning into our subtle sensory experiences

  6. Dharana (Mind control) Sanskrit for "concentration" Evolutionary mastery and expression of  attention and intention

  7. Dhyana (Meditation) Sanskrit for "meditation" Resonating at the junction point between the personal and the universal

  8. Samadhi (Absorption) Sanskrit for "bliss" Settled in pure awareness; the progressive expansion of the self

Yama - A yama (YAH-mah) is one of a set of ethical standards that offers guidance on how we act toward others. "The Yoga Sutras" lists five yamas:

"Ahimsa" — Sanskrit for "non-harming"

"Satya" — Sanskrit for "refraining from dishonesty"

"Asteya" — Sanskrit for "non-stealing"

"Brahmacharya" — Sanskrit for "wise use of sexual energy"

"Aparigraha" — Sanskrit for "non-possessiveness"

Niyama - Similar to the yamas, the niyamas are also codes of conduct for living. A niyama (nee-YAH-mah) is one of a set of moral observances toward oneself. Turning your awareness inward helps prepare you for the later, more internally focused limbs. "The Yoga Sutras" lists five niyamas:

"Saucha" — Sanskrit for "purity"

"Santosha" — Sanskrit for "contentment"

"Tapas" — Sanskrit for "self-discipline"

"Svadhyaya" — Sanskrit for "self-study"

"Ishvara pranidhana" — Sanskrit for "surrender to a higher source"

Asana - Literally meaning "seat" or "sitting posture," asana (AHH-suh-nuh) refers to a body position used in a yoga practice. Through practicing asanas, you learn discipline and concentration which are necessary for the later limbs. Moving and stretching your body also helps you prepare for long periods of seated meditation.

Pranayama - Pranayama (prah-nah-YAH-muh) can be translated as "restraint of the breath," it refers to more than simply holding your inhalations. In yoga, the life force energy is called "prana." Practicing pranayama includes yogic breath control and regulation techniques. These exercises are intended to manipulate the flow of prana in order to bring about steadiness of mind and changes in consciousness.

Pratyahara - Literally meaning "withdrawal of the senses," pratyahara (praht-yah-HAHR-uh) is the practice of tuning out the distractions of the outside world. Focusing your mind inward allows you to detach from the trials and fluctuations of life and see their challenges in a new light. You can view your habits and patterns more objectively, becoming aware of things the way they are, instead of reacting to the world.

Dharana - Dharana (dahr-AHN-uh) is the practice of concentration or complete attention. It’s the ability to focus entirely on a single point — to be completely in the moment. Once you have withdrawn your senses through pratyahara, you can slow down your thoughts and concentrate on a single thing. Athletes often refer to this mental space as being "in the zone." You can practice dharana by bringing your attention to a single sensation, object, or thought.

Dhyana - Dhyana (dee-YAHN-uh), you turn your focus entirely inward. This is the practice of deep meditation to attain self-realization. In this second-to-last stage of yoga, you become aware of the flow of all life and existence. Unlike the single-pointed concentration of dharana, dhyana is awareness without a singular focus. Your mind becomes still and your thoughts cease. You simply are.

Samadhi - Literally meaning "a putting together," samadhi (sah-MAHD-hee) is supreme bliss; the highest stage of meditation. Also understood as spiritual ecstasy or enlightenment, samadhi is the state in which you transcend your lower self and merge with the universe. You become aware of your connection to all living things, to your higher self, and to the Divine. The freedom, joy, and fulfillment brought forth through samadhi creates peace, internally and in the world. It is the ultimate "goal" of yoga.

Article written by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: sivananda.org, dlshq.org, sivanandaonline.org, ananda.org

What Is International Day of Yoga

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International Day of Yoga

The International Day of Yoga was declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Dec 11, 2014 as a promotion for global health, harmony and peace. June 21st was chosen to celebrate International Day of Yoga because it is The Summer Solstice. The Summer Solstice is the day with the most hours of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere and symbolizes light, clarity, and wisdom.

The Sanskrit meaning of the word yoga means to join or unit. Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit with the consciousness of peace for all living beings. The theme for International Day of Yoga is Yoga for Peace. International Day of Yoga is acknowledged worldwide and celebrated with the practice of yoga and meditation to serve as a connecting tool between countries and people of differences.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Article written by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Power Objects of Holy Men and Women

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Power Objects of Holy Men and Women

Within the community of saints, Rudraksham are sacred power objects, which possess the power to positively influence and protect every aspect and expression of your life and soul as you walk the path to your Immortal Enlightenment. Yet, to express their full divine potential, their power must be activated through specific spiritual processes.

Otherwise, it will remain virtually dormant in these natural ‘holy’ objects. The knowledge of how to bless/activate them properly, as well as the many uses of both natural & super-natural sacred power objects, are part of the soul sciences of ancient India, first recorded in palm leaf books 3000 years ago. Here and now, we offer you the authentic fruits of this knowledge and the power of these sacred objects for your supreme health and happiness.

Article posted by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: omshivaloka.com, wananbeads.com

The Benefits of Rudraksha Beads

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The Benefits of Rudraksha Beads

  • Rudraksha change the karma of the wearer, leading a person naturally to the right path of truth and purpose, making the pace along the path quicker and progress easier.

  • They are effective in controlling stress, thus help in eradicating worries and blessing the wearer with greater peace of mind. In over 6,500 years of documented use, Rudraksha have been shown to produce no negative side effects.

  • Rudraksha bring clarity, sharpen the mind, and increase the power of Intuition.

  • They create powerful “protection circles” from negativity and remove obstacles along the path to your success.

  • Rudraksha charge the soul with shakti (spiritual power), increasing the soul’s own radiance and its ability to more fully express its divine power & wisdom in the material world.

  • They create a more intimate connection with the positive forces in nature and the cosmos, help to heal the vital energies and bring them into harmonious balance.

  • Rudraksha are scientifically proven to have many health benefits.

Article posted by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: omshivaloka.com, wananbeads.com

The History of Rudraksha Beads

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The History of Rudraksha Beads

Rudraksha tree and seed both are called Rudraksha. In Sanskrit Rudraksham means Rudraksha fruit as well as Rudraksha tree. Rudraksha tree grows on mountains and hilly region of Nepal, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra and Burma. Its leaves are green in colour and the fruits are brown in color and sour in taste. The Rudraksha fruits also adorn the human beings because of spiritual values. From ancient times, the power of Holy Rudraksha beads have been scripted in various religious texts like Shiv Maha Purana, Shrimad Devi, Padma Purana, Linga Purana Bhagwat, Ashtamalikopnishad, Nirnaya Sindhu, Mantra Maharnava, Mahakaal Samhita, Rudraksha Jabalopnishad, Vrihajjabalopnishad, Shiva Swarodaya and Sarvollastantra.

As per ancient Indian scriptures mentioned above Rudraksha is evolved from the eyes of Lord Shiva hence, it’s called Rudraksha. Rudra means Shiva and Akshameans eyes. Aksha also means a group of alphabets in Sanskrit called (Varna). As per details found in Halayudh Kosha(Ancient Scripture) letters from A to kshathat is 51 letters are called Aksha. Therefore, Rudraksha can be called as a seed in which a group of Sanskrit letters called Varna reside. Rosary made out of Rudraksha Beads in the auspicious numbers like (108+1, 54+1, 27+1) is called Rudraksha Mala. The +1 bead is called as Sumeru (it is not crossed while chanting) which is considered as boundary for returning in reverse direction for further counting. Mala is used for wearing as well as for purpose of Japa (Chanting Mantra for Spiritual attainments).

Article posted by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: ansonbingham.com, omshivaloka.com, wananbeads.com

What is a Rudraksha Beads

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What is a Rudraksha Beads

Rudraksha is a natural seed, found within the vibrant blue fruit of the evergreen Elaeocarpus ganitrus, it is indigenous to the Himalayas across India and Nepal. It also flourishes in other areas of Southeast Asia, where the volcanic soil is conducive to its growth.

Rudraksha literally means “the tears of Shiva”. It is said, while contemplating Man’s suffering, Shiva — the great Mahadeva, the Supreme God and divine gift-giver — unexpectedly began to cry tears of compassion. As his tears fell, he guided them towards Earth and transformed them into divine seeds for the benefit of those seeking freedom from suffering and union with the Divine. The varieties of Rudraksham range from 1-36 faces (mukhis). The most common of these beads is the 5-faced Mukhi bead. The greater the number of faces, the rarer the bead.

Article posted by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com

Source: ansonbingham.com, omshivaloka.com, wananbeads.com

What is Sound Bath Meditation

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What is Sound Bath Meditation

Sound Bath Meditation is a unique meditation experience that uses quartz crystal singing bowls as music therapy and sound healing to calm the mind, align and harmonize the body. Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls emit very pure tones, close to sine waves. Their sound is a synonym of purity for our ears. the tone is produced by striking the side of the bowl with a wooden mallet and running the mallet around the bowl to create a pure tone and make the bowl sing.


Article written by Anson Bingham for www.ansonbinghamyoga.com
Photography by Greg Wostrel at Wostrel.com