International Yoga Day -2016 : How are you Celebrating?

World is gearing up for the second International yoga day 2016. June 21 is knocking at the door. Throughout the world huge number of schools are taking part in the Yoga celebration.

In the US, thousands of yoga lovers are expected to take part in a mass yoga program at Times Square, New York. Indian Consulates in New York, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco have joined hands with local community organisations to celebrate the International Day of Yoga, A special celebration will also be held at the Kresge Auditorium of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.

The city of London will mark the International Day of Yoga on June 21 with a series of events near the iconic Tower Bridge and on the river Thames over the next few days. Kareena Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty, other Bollywood stars are in the yoga news.

Around 30,000 participants are expected to take part in Chandigarh.

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Top Ten Selected Yoga Quotes of Amit Ray

We all know yoga increases flexibility and reduces stress. Yoga aims to build a well-balanced lifestyle. Yoga engages the mind with the body. Yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. Benefits of stretching your muscles are equally important to a busy mum or a stressed-out executive. Researchers observed that eight weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia. Yoga is ideal for all ages and stages.

Here, ten top yoga quotes on life, practice, and the path to turn the moments for renewed yoga interest. Find inspiration and wisdom by enjoying my favorite yogic quotes.

Yoga means addition – addition of energy, strength and beauty to body, mind and soul. — Amit Ray
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Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul. — Amit Ray

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Exercises are like prose, whereas yoga is the poetry of movements. Once you understand the grammar of yoga; you can write your poetry of movements. — Amit Ray
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Yoga is not just repetition of few postures – it is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life. — Amit Ray

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Yoga is bringing fitness in body, calmness in mind, kindness in heart and awareness in life. — Amit Ray

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Beautify your inner dialogue. Beautify your inner world with love light and compassion. Life will be beautiful. — Amit Ray

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Your thoughts are your message to the world. Just as the rays are the messages of the Sun. — Amit Ray

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There are many goals but one path – the path of compassion. — Amit Ray

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Yoga is the art work of awareness on the canvas of body, mind, and soul. — Amit Ray

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Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind. — Amit Ray
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Pain Management Techniques: Yoga and Meditations

Our brain circuit is a very complex subject involving a great deal of biological, cognitive and social functioning. Brain produces different chemicals that causes the feelings of pleasure and pain. When certain part of the brain is “turned on” or “turned off” , we fell pleasure or pain.  We feel pleasure when we we enjoy something like eating good food or being in love.  Our brain has its own reward system. When we do certain things, the brain rewards us by making us feel good. Reward is a great way to encourage us to do something repetitively. Similarly, there is a pain circuit in the brain. When certain things happen in our body or mind, the brain punishes us by developing bad feelings, so that we should not repeat that next time. Yoga and meditation helps people consciously control the perception of pain and pleasure.  The new understanding and perceptions relieves pain.  During pain the blood vessels serve as a radiator to cool the brain, overheating can cause neuron death.

Pain Management Techniques
Pain Management

Five Yoga Exercises as Pain Management Techniques:

#1: Observe your normal breathing patterns

Try to observe your normal breathing patterns.  Do not try to control, remove or diminish your negative sensations or the private events of your life.  Try to accept the unpleasant sensations or thoughts while still persisting with your chosen tasks.

#2: Breathing Exercises:

You can breathe into the area around the pain sensation or around the belly. Yoga literature proposed several breathing techniques to overcome pain. The easiest one is;  place one hand on the chest and another on the belly.  Take a slow and deep breath, take as much air as possible. You can press the belly a little bit, with one hand. After holding the breath for a few seconds, exhale slowly. Meditation with proper breathing is the most common relaxation and pain management technique.

#3: Present Moment Awareness

Present moment awareness is the most efficient and the most ancient meditation technique for pain management. Yoga literature is flooded with present moment awareness meditation techniques for pain management.  You can just bring your awareness to the activities you are doing.  Khechari mudra is a great way for pain management.  If  the khechari mudra is perfect, one can withdraw the mind from the body.

#4: Yoga Nidra for Pain Management

Yoga nidra is a very ancient meditation technique for pain management. In modern literature there are various forms of muscle relaxation techniques. This technique involves slowly tensing, briefly holding, and then releasing each muscle group in a systematic fashion. It starts  with the muscles in the toes and moving upward. During this exercise, the person should notice the differences between tension and relaxation.

#5: Meditation and Visualization for Pain management

Visualization involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all tension and anxiety. You may meditate with eyes open or closed.  Select a simple geometrical shape or symbols, with  some specific color. Think of something which may be symbolically meaningful for you in some way.  For example, you can select some green circles. You can chant any mantra of your choice during visualization meditation.

Meditation and prayers are the great ways to overcome pain. Acceptance is very important in pain management. Mentally, you may say, “It is unpleasant but I can accept it”. Pain is always unpleasant but mediation changes the nature of pain before it is perceived.

Sources:

1. “Meditation: Insights and Inspirations”  By Amit Ray

2. “Handbook of Pain Management: A Clinical Companion to Textbook of Pain”  By Ronald Melzack

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Inner Peace and Beauty: Teachings of Sri Amit Ray

Amit RayDr Amit Ray is known to the world for his teachings on meditation, yoga, peace and compassion. He is best known for his Om meditation and integrated yoga and vipassana meditation techniques. He is author of several books on meditation and other spiritual topics. Ray has many useful things to say about beautification of life. Here are 7 of my favourite fundamentals from Amit Ray.

1. Beautify your inner dialogue

“Beautify your inner dialogue. Beautify your inner world with love light and compassion. Life will be beautiful.” – Amit Ray

True Beauty, comes from within. Inner beautification refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep us strong in the face of discord or stress. It is a state where our mind performs at an optimal level positivity of joy, happiness and tranquillity. It is associated with bliss, happiness and contentment. Inner beautification is the opposite of being stressed or anxious. It is freeing the mind from negative energies of anger, depression and frustration. It is also freeing the mind from inner critic.

2. Living in the moment

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray

Living in the moment eliminates stress, strain and anxiety. Generally, we remain excessively preoccupied with our thoughts of the past and plans for the future and that drains our energy. Best way of living in the moment is focusing on a single-task. Focus on what you’re doing. When you’re eating, just eat. When you’re bathing, just bathe. If you are too fast, learn to live slowly. Let your breath act as an anchor in every stressful situation of life.

3. Send positive energy to the world

“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters.” – Amit Ray

In this fast paced, technology driven world often life brings new challenges which creates stress, strain and anxiety. Moreover, newspaper, television and the media are continuously pouring negative information. If we live from the surface of our mind, we will be unable to handle the situations of life. We need to learn go deep and go within and that will give us positive energy which we can spread to the world.

4. Take action and extend your limit

“It is not over. Champions extend their limits and make things happen.” – Amit Ray

We need to take action. Without taking action very little can be done. It is very easy to get locked into a reactive mindset. It is easy to get lost in the middle. The resistance to action comes from your imagining negative future consequences – or reflecting on past failures. And so you get lost in your circumstances. You tend to feel powerless and like you are just drifting along. But you can rule the circumstances, if you are proactive.  Taking action can be hard and difficult. There can be much inner resistance. But living proactively is much more rewarding and exciting.

5. Live with Compassion

“When the Sun of compassion arises darkness evaporates and the singing birds come from nowhere.” – Amit Ray

Compassion brings lasting happiness. Compassion is the desire and actions to reduce the suffering of others. Living with compassion means striving to maximize the good we accomplish, not following a rigid set of rules or trying to fit a certain label. It is everyday doing something good for the benefit of all beings. Make someone happy.

6. Take care of your Thoughts

“Your thoughts are your message to the world. Just as the rays are the messages of the Sun.” – Amit Ray

Just pay attention to your thoughts. You can see that many thoughts are primarily fear-based and judgmental. Removing the activities, tasks and thoughts that are not so important frees up time and energy for you to do more of what you really want to do. Try to be choiceful about your thoughts.

7. Know your-self

“Self-observation is the first step of inner unfolding.” – Amit Ray

Self-discovery is the highest journey. The idea is to know yourself better. It is building a connection with your soul.  It is an effort to understand your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and fears, your desires and dreams. It should be done in a non-judgmental way. It is to love yourself as you are and not as you should be. When you love yourself, you will know your uniqueness.

 

 

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Yoga beyond Stress Strain and Anxiety

Over the last two decades, the researchers studied the brain’s response to yoga in great detail. Yoga is an easy way for relaxation.  Stress relief is the main advantage of yoga exercises.  Ten minutes Mindful meditation with yoga is a good combination for health benefits.

Stress relief starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life.  You can do daily kriya yoga pranayama.

The stress hormones cycles among these three glands, namely hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis works in a feedback loop. When you’re faced with a major stress, the cone-shaped hypothalamus at the base of your brain releases CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone), which then does a hula dance on your pituitary gland, stimulating it to release another hormone called ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) into your bloodstream.

ACTH signals your adrenal glands to release cortisol and facilitates production and then release of norepinephrine (also known as adrenaline, the fight-or-flight chemical). These four chemicals serve as your body’s SWAT team—they respond to emergencies.

Adrenaline increases your blood pressure and heart rate, while cortisol releases sugar in the form of glucose to fuel your muscles and your mind. Then, to close the loop, cortisol travels back to the hypothalamus to stop the good production of CRH. Stress over, hormones released, body returns to normal.

Regular yoga exercise revitalize the feedback loop. Walking in the morning is a very good practice.

You can do Pelvic Tilts, Cat – Cow Stretches and Sun Salutation are good example for yoga. You can practice dance yoga, water kriya yoga are helpful.

“If you want to conquer anxiety in life –  live in the breath, live in the moment.” – Amit Ray 

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Mindfulness Meditation in Daily Life

“Mindfulness Mediation” or Vipassana Meditation  is a capacity for heightened present-moment awareness that we all possess to a greater or lesser extent.  “Mindfulness” are particularly effective, because they aim at changing the underlying beliefs and patterns of negative thinking that create the anxiety.  Essentially, you learn how to focus mindfulness on the underlying core emotions and make them the primary object of your meditation.  Generally, it is what is not seen that has most power over you, and mindfulness meditation is directed at exploring the structure of our inner feelings in great detail.

Training this capacity seems to have a quieting effect on brain areas associated with our subjective appraisal of our self. By considering thoughts and feelings as transitory mental events that occur, but are separate from the self, people are able to lessen their hold on their worries and positive mental health outcomes follow. Mindfulness can be as simple as just watching the breathing.
Even the most basic tasks such as washing  the clothes can consume so much emotional energy that it simply becomes easier to give up. So much emotional energy is expended in this endless worrying that we are left feeling completely drained and fatigued, which makes us even less able to cope.
However, what is even more important than the thoughts or beliefs at the core of anxiety conditions are the emotions, the feeling energy that empowers those thoughts and beliefs. This is what we address in Mindfulness Meditation.
When you develop a mindfulness-based relationship with your inner emotions you set up a completely different inner environment that greatly facilitates transformation, resolution and healing of the emotional constructs of anxiety and fear. The simple fact is that reactivity inhibits change, while mindfulness promotes change and healing. You first learn to recognize the impulse to react with fear or panic as it arises, and to respond at a very early stage to the impulse with mindful-attention. This simple action stops the reactivity proliferating into worry and negative thinking, and opens up a brief moment of choice, a space before the reaction takes off. This is the beginning of the de-conditioning process. With practice you can develop and lengthen this space, especially in mindfulness meditation sessions, which become practice grounds for developing new ways of responding to your emotions and the associated external situations.
As you develop this space, what is called the “therapeutic space of mindfulness,” you create an opportunity in which the trapped emotional energy that powers the reactions can unfold, unwind and become much more malleable. This inner freedom allows emotions to change and transform, which eventually leads to their resolution. We all know the importance of “facing our feelings.” Well Mindfulness Meditation provides the method and details of how to do that, and in a way that leads to beneficial change, rather than simply re-experiencing the emotional reactivity. It is a well-established fact that Exposure Therapy, in which you deliberately make controlled contact with your fear or phobia, is an essential part of healing, but the whole point of such therapy is not to simply re-experience the trauma, but to experience it differently. Mindfulness allows you to do this very effectively, and with your mind will rapidly learn new perceptions and new pathways of experiencing that are not based on emotional reactivity but on balanced responsiveness. This in turn naturally leads to more functional and more positive thinking and more useful core beliefs that are empowered by positive emotional energy, rather than the previous negative energy.
How to Do Mindfulness Meditation:
1. The techniques of mindful meditation is not new. You  just find a quiet and cozy place. Sit in a chair or at the floor along with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.
2. Try and set aside all thoughts of the past and the longer term and stay within the present.
3. Discover your breathing, targeting the feeling of air moving out and in of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Listen in on the way in which each breath changes and is different.
4. Watch every thought come and go, whether or not it’s a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts arise to your mind, don’t ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.
5. If you end up getting over excited to your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and easily return for your breathing. Remember to not be hard on yourself if this occurs.

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation:
Mindfulness gives rise to insights which ripen into wisdom, because the more deeply and clearly we are able to observe the reality of our mind body and world, the more we will understand how and why things are as they are.

Here are 10 benefits to practice mindfulness meditation.

  1. Increases grey-matter density in the hippocampus (an area of the brain known to be important for learning and memory) and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
  2. Reduces Anxiety Disorders, Including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  3. Reduces Sleep Problems
  4. Improve focus, concentration, and precision.
  5. Improves Relationship Issues
  6. Enhance the quality of communications and relationships.
  7. Deepen peace of mind and sense of flow
  8. Deepen insight and intuitive wisdom.
  9. Awaken more authenticity, heart, soul, and caring in our lives and work.
  10. Increases strengthen faith and self-confidence.

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Yoga Exercises to Reduce Back Pain

Reason for Back Pain

Back pain arises due to some from injury or wound to some of the nerves, bones, muscles and other structures. According to the recent researches, most of the back pain arises due to some form of problems in the nerves that moves along the Spinal Cord through the bones, making the muscles to stressed. The problems arise due to mechanical problem in the Spine, or stress and anxiety. Ulcers, Kidney infection and Constipation also cases back pain. Yoga is useful to solve the problems in the spine to reduce the back pain. The Yoga steps are as follows:

Select an appropriate Yoga Mat:

Selecting a good non skidding comfortable yoga mat is must for doing yoga exercise. If you want to do Pilates along with yoga then also you need a soft yoga mat so that you should not slip out during bending or stretching exercise. The yoga mat should be such that you should not loose your balance while bending your body. While selecting the mat for yoga, you should be careful that the width of the mat is sufficient for your movements. If you are senior citizen you should give extra care for textured yoga mat which can give you extra grips.

Select appropriate Yoga Postures:

All yoga postures are not good for back pain. Some may aggravate your back pain. So, be careful about the correct posture. You take advice from your yoga teacher or medical adviser. First you do the standing poses like Tadasana. All the postures should be done slowly and comfortably. No jerking or pain should be allowed. If there is pain do not go for that. Small relaxation feeling of pain during yielding or stretching is perfectly okay. After doing the standing poses you can go for the sitting poses. Just crisscross your hands, legs in a sitting posture. Do not go for complicated postures. At the end of the sitting yoga asana, you can go for laying postures like sabha asana that is corpse pose. Sage twist pose is also helpful.

Cat Pose is very useful to release back pain. In this pose with a cat like posture with knees and hands on the yoga mat, you just slightly move your spine happily up and down.

Cat Pose Yoga
Cat Pose Yoga

Use Natural Ayurvedic Medicine:

There are many good natural ayurvedic medicines are available to relive back pains, you can try with them. But be careful. Take ayurvedic medicine only from the reliable and authentic company.

If you have acute lower back pain for more than three months, take proper medical advice.

sciatic nerve back pain
sciatic nerve back pain

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Yoga and Vipassana for Stress Relief and Pain management

Each one of us is having the ability to heal ourselves. We need to learn the techniques for healing. Yoga and Vipassan are two beautiful ways to control pain and bring happiness in life. Both these techniques are scientifically proven and millions of people are getting benefits of that.  Just like allopathic medicines, too much Yoga and too much Vipassana meditation is harmful for body and mind. You should be careful they should not create addiction.


Great Yoga and Vipassana master Sri Amit Ray of Uttarkashi in the book “Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style” beautifully explained the ways and means to use yoga and Vipassana for pain management and stress relief.  He says “Select your own yoga posture slowly and very gently twist your body and gently focus your attention to the starting place of the physical pain. Just comfortably permit your awareness to rest in that area for few moments and then move your attention to the …..  “. The book beautifully amalgamated the two ancient meditation and yoga techniques.

But Yoga and Vipassan are not the answer for all pains, particularly for acute pains you need to take proper medical advice. Yoga postures should be selected depending on the nature of pain.

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