Friday December 15, 2017

Yoga: A tool for harmonious existence

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By Shonu Nangia

As the world celebrates Yoga Day, it is worth revisiting the question, “What is Yoga?” While there are many benefits that accrue from doing yogasanas or postures, yoga is much more than just asanas. It is a method of going beyond the limitations of the body, of staying happy and being steady. It is a cultivation of the art of keeping a calm, alert and happy frame of mind which paves the way for success in life. Derived from the Sanskrit root word yuj, yoga means union. At least 5000 year old of knowledge that originated in the Indian subcontinent, yoga is now universal. It has been proven as an effective practice for a healthy and happy lifestyle and encompasses postures, breathing exercises and the exploration of the deeper parts of one’s consciousness through meditation.

peace

Over the centuries, the ancient practice of yoga has found diverse definitions and expressions. The purpose however remains essentially the same: to go within. It’s a technology to harmonize body, breath, mind, intellect, memory and ego with our innermost core. The earliest mention of yoga is found in the Rig Veda, which dates back to over 10000 years. Ancient texts of yoga give us definitions that are indicative of the depth that yoga can give one’s personality.

Recently, I came across a quote by a teacher of wisdom and an eminent yoga personality, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, that grabbed my attention. It said, “All the problems on the planet can essentially be reduced to one thing: misaligned human beings, misaligned with all there is.”

As I pondered over this observation, it led me to a personal insight – – that there are three specific kinds of harmony essential for our lives to be pleasant. The first kind of harmony that we need in our lives consists of environmental harmony. Our environment is made up of things and influences that are physically external to us but have an impact on our mind and body. Environmental harmony especially presupposes a relationship with the air, food, water, space and sound around us that is conducive to our physical and mental wellbeing. To whatever extent those elements in the environment do not agree with us, to that degree this makes life unpleasant.yoga-tree

The second kind of harmony that we need for a pleasant life is interpersonal harmony. We need agreeable interpersonal relationships and exchanges with other fellow humans. Our senses receive stimuli, wanted and unwanted, not just from the ambient environment but also from other individuals we interact with and the quality of these interactions has a great bearing on how we experience our life.

The third kind of harmony that we need to live a pleasant life is inner harmony, a sense of inner happiness and joy. Inner comfort and inner fulfilment are an actualization of one’s higher potential. When it is there, this harmony translates into a certain ease of being in the world. This inner state of harmony characterizes itself as a stress-free mind, an unprejudiced and clear intellect, a memory that is free of emotional wounds, an ego that is expansive enough to be supple and inclusive, and a loving temperament — among other things.

This third and most intimate level of harmony is actually the most essential one because it is the prerequisite for the other two kinds of harmony, the lack of which is the cause of the great human misalignment which is at the root of all problems like violence and conflict. All other external harmonies proceed from this inner harmony.

Achieving this third and the most supreme kind of harmony is at the heart of yoga. For most people, the first two harmonies generally hold the third harmony to ransom. A yogi, on the other hand, proceeds from inner harmony as he negotiates the first two harmonies.yoga

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras define the art and science of yoga as yoga chitta vriti nirodha, the cessation of thought currents in the mind, which frees our being.

The saying that “every child is a yogi and every yogi is a child” is true in the sense that yoga takes a practitioner back to the freshness, joy, love, friendliness, simplicity, naturalness and enthusiasm that we are all born with but lose as we grow older.

Thus, yoga is the science of uniting within to bring out the best positive qualities latent within us, qualities that are a part and parcel of our own highest nature. All these definitions point to yoga as a process of self-discovery and as a technology to reach one’s highest human potential.

As the 2015 summer solstice ends, and as more and more people on Earth awaken to the need to create a better, happier and more harmonious tomorrow for all everybody, I leave readers with two inspirational messages, one from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who on the occasion of World Yoga Day tweeted, “How can we understand each other if we don’t understand ourselves?” and the other from global humanitarian Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose brief message on the United Nation’s International Day of Yoga was simply this: “Yoga helps a human being to unfold his full potential. Yoga improves the quality of life, which is so much needed today. Yoga can wipe the tears and bring smiles on every face. It can bring celebration and skill in everyone’s life. So let’s celebrate this World Yoga Day with zeal and enthusiasm and reach out this precious, ancient knowledge to every human being on this planet.”

 

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Indulge in Yoga for a healthy and a good respiratory system

This article gives information on Yoga which is a very beneficial hack for having a good respiratory system

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Yoga good for healthy and respiratory body.
Yoga good for healthy and respiratory body. IANS
  • Akshar explains the benefits of Yoga
  • Yoga being the ultimatum for a good respiratory system

-by Akshar

Smog, the choking threat which has landed the national capital in a pollution emergency, has been the cause of many respiratory problems in children and adults. When your daily commute feels like living on the edge, what are your other outdoor activities supposed to feel like?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is dangerous to breathe when there is too much smog. Smog contains ozone particles, and elevated ozone levels can have a variety of negative effects on your lungs.

While it is advised to stay indoors when the air is toxic outside, a more practical solution would be to establish a habit of cleansing your respiratory organs through Yoga.

If Yoga has been shown to improve the quality of life of lung cancer patients, it could definitely do wonders against other respiratory issues. Here are a few asanas you could try to give you relief from chest congestion, respiratory flues and discomfort in breathing.

* Pranayama: This has proved beneficial for those suffering with bronchitis or lung congestion.

How to do it:

1. While performing pranayama one should make sure that his or her back is straight and should concentrate on the breathing.

2. Sahaj Pranayama, which is also called easy breathing, involves breathing a few times deeply.

3. Inhale through the nostrils for five counts and hold the breath for 10 counts.

4. Exhale through the mouth for 10 counts; this has to be repeated 10-12 times.

* Adho Mukha Svanasana: This posture strengthens the chest muscles and expands the lung region, increasing its capacity.

How to do it:

1. From table top position, tuck your toes, straighten your legs and lift your hips towards the ceiling.

2. Adjust your hands forward a bit, if necessary, and spread your fingers.

3. Keep your spine long, and your head and neck in line with your spine. Hold for one minute.

* Bhujangasana: This asana opens up the heart and lungs and gives them a good stretch.

How to do it:

1. Lie on your stomach; engage your back muscles in lifting your head and upper torso.

2. Align your elbows underneath your shoulders for support.

3. Open your chest and relax your shoulders away from your ears.

4. Look straight ahead and hold for one minute.

* Sukhasana: This heavy breathing seated position relieves yourself from stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

How to do it:

1. Sit erect, with the feet stretched out towards the front.

2. Now cross the legs in such a way that the knees are wide, shins are crossed, and each foot is placed under the knee. Knees must be bent, and legs should be tucked into the torso.

3. Feet must be relaxed, and the outer edges must rest on the floor while the inner edges must arch on the shins. Look down on your legs, must see a triangle formed by shins that are crossed and both the thighs.

4. Back must be balanced in such a way that the tailbone and the pubic bone are at equal distance from the floor.

5. Place the palms stacked up in your lap. Or you can also lay them on the knees palms up or palms down.

6. Elongate the tailbone, and firm up the shoulders. But make sure the lower back is not arched in such a way that it pokes the lower ribs forward.

* Marjari Asana: This involves deep breathing, which in turn expands the lungs and boosts blood circulation.

How to do it:

1. Begin with Adhomukhi Swanasana

2. Lean forward and place your knees down on your mat

3. Inhale, look up and relax

4. Inhale as you drop your knees

5. While navigating back, shift the body weight from the knees to palms and feet.

(Akshar is founder and course director of Bengaluru’s Akshar Yog. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at akshar@aksharyoga.com) (IANS)

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US Restricts Visas for Cambodians ‘Undermining Democracy’

As a response to anti-democratic actions, Trump administration restrict VISA for Cambodians

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Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen attends a ceremony at the Angkor Wat temple to pray for peace and stability in Cambodia, Dec. 3, 2017.

The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will restrict visas for Cambodians “undermining democracy” in the Southeast Asian nation following the dissolution of the main opposition party and a crackdown on independent media.

The State Department said it was a direct response to “anti-democratic actions” by the Cambodian government but did not disclose which individuals would be affected. It said visa records are confidential under U.S. law.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert called on the Cambodian government to reinstate the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved by Supreme Court order last month, and free its leader Kem Sokha, imprisoned since September. She also urged Cambodia to allow civil society and media to operate freely.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has held power for more than three decades, has sought to neutralize political opponents and silence critics ahead of national elections next year. Kem Sokha has been charged with trying to topple the government with U.S. support, which Washington has said is a baseless accusation.

Supporters of Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, stand outside the Appeal Court during a bail hearing for the jailed opposition leader in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Sept. 26, 2017.

Nauert said Cambodia’s actions run counter to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991. The United States and 18 other governments signed the accords, which ushered in democracy after the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s, then occupation by Vietnam and civil war.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will restrict entry into the United States of “those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia,” Nauert said in a statement, adding that in certain circumstances, family members of those individuals will also be subject to visa restrictions. The department cited a provision of U.S. immigration law under which individuals can be denied entry if the secretary determines it would have “adverse foreign policy consequences.”

The White House has already terminated U.S. support of Cambodia’s national election committee, saying last month that the July 2018 vote “will not be legitimate, free or fair.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary, while maintaining our close and enduring ties with the people of Cambodia,” Nauert said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks during a press availability at NATO in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 6, 2017.

​Monovithya Kem, an opposition spokeswoman currently in the U.S., welcomed the visa restrictions and called for targeted financial sanctions on senior officials in Hun Sen’s government. Kem, who is the daughter of Kem Sokha, urged the U.S., Japan, Australia and the European Union to coordinate responses to the “crisis” in Cambodia and help win her father’s freedom.

Like many prominent opposition figures, Kem has fled Cambodia as she fears arrest.

Hun Sen has been in office since 1985 and has held a tight grip on power since ousting a co-prime minister in a bloody 1997 coup.

In recent months, the government has intensified restrictions on civil society groups and independent media outlets. In September, it shut down the English-language Cambodia Daily. Authorities have shuttered radio stations that aired programming from U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, whose reports they allege are biased.

The government also expelled the U.S. National Democratic Institute, which helped train political parties and election monitors, accusing it of colluding with its opponents.

Hun Sen has moved Cambodia closer to China in recent years and become increasingly critical of Washington. However, he’s been complimentary of President Donald Trump.

Speaking at Asian leaders’ summit attended by Trump last month, Hun Sen praised the U.S. leader for non-interference in affairs of other nations, but complained the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia was not adhering to the policy. (VOA)

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4 Best Yoga Asanas and Their Benefits

Yoga keeps your mind relaxed and helps you to stay fit and healthy. Try these 4 asanas for an overall good health

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yoga asanas
Yoga Pose.Pixabay
  • Yoga is a combination of physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India
  • These 4 yoga asanas will help you to be in shape

“Yoga is the journey of self, through the self, to the self.” – Bhagvat Gita

Weight loss, a strong and flexible body, glowing beautiful skin, peaceful mind, good health – whatever you may be looking for, yoga has it on offer. Yoga is all about stretching our body in different forms and meditation.

Here are 4 best yoga asanas to keep your body toned-

1.Tadasana

Tadasana strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles.It helps to develop good posture and calms down the nervous system.

yoga asana
Tadasana.pixabay

2. Parvatasana

Parvatasana strengthens the muscles of the arms and legs.It tones the spinal nerves and sends the good flow of blood to the spinal region.

yoga asanas
A variation of Parvatasana. For the original asana, you need not raise the leg in the air as depicted here. Pixabay

3. Vakrasana

It is intensely twisted posture which helps in reducing back problems and fat reduction on the belly. It also increases spine blood flow to abdominal.

yoga asanas
Vakrasana, Wikimedia

4. Bhujangasana

It strengthens the spine, chest, shoulders, abdomen and buttocks. It helps in reducing indigestion and acidity problems.

yoga asanas: Bhujangasana
Bhujangasana.wikimedia commons

-prepared by Pragya Mittal of NewsGram| Twitter @PragyaMittal05