The Scorpion And The Hare: A Story About The Power Of Yoga
- About 5.000 years ago, the scorpion and the hare were hanging out around the India. They met some gurus meditating in the woods who say how relaxed, light-hearted and carefree the creatures were. The wise men too, wanted to
be stress-free, happy and kind to themselves and others. They decided to be more like the animals, to unite with nature and the energy all around them and to practice letting go. They devised a system of breathing exercises
(pranayama), poses (asana) and meditation practices and called it Yoga, meaning union.
Facts about yoga
- Today, over 15 million Americans practice some type of yoga, from Ashtanga, Anusara, Bikram aka hot yoga, hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Sivananda or Power yoga to laughter yoga, doggie yoga and even naked yoga. In fact about
75% of US health clubs offer some type of yoga class, with the number of facilities offering yoga going up 54% in the past decade.
- Hatha yoga is the most popular type of yoga practiced in the US. hatha is a great way to stretch, work your muscles, get in touch with your body, relax, and decrease stress.
- Yoga significantly lowers the risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death in America.
- Yoga lowers blood pressure, decreases bad cholesterol, lowers blood sugar and boosts hemoglobin and red blood cell levels.
- Yoga improves posture, balance, flexibility and strength.
- Practicing yoga decreases the stress hormones cortisone and adrenaline.
- Yoga has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.
- Consistent yoga practice also improves depression and leads to a significant increase in the neurotransmitter serotonin "the happy hormone" which regulates sleep, and mood.
- Practicing yoga just once or twice a week may lower a number of harmful compounds in the blood as well as reduce inflammation linked to aging and stress.
- Yogis gain less weight over time because they learn to be mindful and make better food choices than others.
- Power yoga can also be an intense workout, burning 350-500 calories an hour and sculpting the body as well as cleaning the mind.
- Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present.
- Meditators have heightened activity in the left prefrontal cortex which has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function.
- Yoga shifts our brains and bodies from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-fight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system (calm and heating). This lowers the heart rate, decreases blood pressure and shifts the
body into restorative and healing mode.
- Often called "the fountain of youth" inversions like headstands, handstands, and shoulder are anti-aging, reversing the force of gravity and time. They also improve strength and balance and are restorative and energizing postures.
- Focusing on the breath helps to stay only in the present moment and leave all worries, concerns and distractions off the mat, letting go of stress with every exhalation.
- Yoga is so effective that the US army uses it to treat vets and to teach stress management techniques.
- Yoga also relieves chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face.
- Yoga improves immune function and respiratory capacity and eases constipation.
- Yoga reduces stress and pain and teaches how to manage and ease it.
- Yoga practice rejuvenates joints and strengthens bones.
- Yoga brings elasticity to the spine and strengthens the muscles of the back and prevents back pain. Experts estimate that 80% of the population will expertise a back problem sometime in their lives.
- The 7 chakras: 1) Crown chakra (Sahasrara); 2) Third eye chakra (Ajna); 3) Throat chakra (Vishuddha); 4) Heart chakra (Anahata); 5) Solar plexus chakra (Manipura); 6) Sacral chakra (Svadhisthana); 7) Root chakra (Muladhara).
- OM/AUM. This is the most commonly used symbol and mantra in yoga. Often chanted three times at the start and finish of a yoga session, it represents the whole universe coalesced into a single sound and symbolizes the union of
mind, body, and spirit that is at the heart of yoga.
- "Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga. Constant practice alone is the secret of success" (Hatha Yoga Pradipika).
- Yogis believe that chakras, meaning "Wheels of light" in Sanskrit, are energy centers that connect the channels in the body through which flow out life force (prana). Traditional Chinese medicine also relies on these energy points and
meridian lines relating to specific parts of the body.
- Sasangasana the hare. Also an inversion, this posture stretches the spine, bringing nutrition to the nervous system, improves the mobility and elasticity of the spine and back muscles, stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands
through compression and helps regulate the metabolism. It also improves digestion and glandular problems as well as helping relieve insomnia and symptoms of depression.
- Vrschikasana the scorpion. In this inversion, the entire front of the body is stretched, especially the chest, neck, spine and abs. This pose strengthens the arms, shoulders and back and stimulates the internal organs. Practicing the
scorpion pose will increase blood flow to the rain and increase circulation in the limbs. It can also increase fertility through stimulation of the reproductive organs.
"Practice, practice, all is coming!" - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute | Sources: http://www.yogaalliance.org; http://www.yogaalliance.org/documents/RealSimple_allpages.pdf; http://www.time.com/
time/article/0.8599.106356.00.html; http://www.medicinenet.com/yoga/page7.htm; http://www.syl.com/hb/thehistoryofyogasymbolsisquiteexciting.html; http://www.medicinenet.com/yoga/page3.htm; http://www.yogajournal.com/
health/1634?page=2; http://www.yogamedicalnewsdaily.com/2010/02/reviewofyogaresearch.html; http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2560; http://www.womansday.com/layout/set/print/Content/Health/Fitness-Exercise/WD-s-
Guide-to-Yoga; Study by Dr. Alan Kristal. associate head of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson center; http://www.dhcrc.org/about/ne/news/2009/08/03/yoga.html;
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2034925/vinyasa_power_yoga_boosts_calorie_burning.thml?cat=51; http://www.healthy.net/scr/interview.aspx?Id=306; http://www.yogajournal.com/health/1634?
page=3; http://www.army.mil/-news/2010/01/07/32565-yoga-helps-vets-find-banace; http://www.yogajournal.com; http://www.acatoday.org/level2_csss.cfm?T1ID=13ID=68; The Chakra Bible, by Patricia Mercier, Octopus
Publishing, 2007 | Other sources: Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar, HarperCollins, 1996; Ashtanga Yoga the Practice Manual by David Swenson, Ashtanga Yoga Productions, 2007; http://www.medicinenet.com/yoga/index.htm;
Infographic World | Signal Patterns | DeepakChopraMobile.com.