Mirabai Bush speaks on Yoga and its uprooting (Part 3)

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By Nithin Sridhar

mirabaiDuring a time when people across the world are struggling hard to manage work-related stress and balance professional and personal lives, Mirabai Bush has helped thousands to harmonize their lives and optimize their outputs through contemplation and mindfulness practices.

She is the co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and teaches contemplative practices and develops programs that apply contemplative principles to organizational life. She had also helped Google create its ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program, and was one among those who introduced Buddhist practices in the West in the 1970’s.

She traces her spiritual practices to her root-teacher, Neem Karoli Baba and other masters in India from whom she learned various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram she spoke about her life, her work, and her stay in India way back in 1970’s.

Interview with Mirabai Bush- Part 3

Mirabai Bush on parallels between Yoga and Aikido

Mirabai Bush is well versed with both Iyengar Yoga and Aikido having learned both of them from teachers in respective traditions. Speaking about the common elements between them, she said: “They both are really grand in Ahimsa or non-harming. In the practice of Aikido, unlike other martial arts, no attack is taught. It is not only about defending yourself, but also about protecting the other person from creating bad karma for himself by hurting you. In the same way, in Yoga, by coming into harmony and balance with the body, mind, and soul, you come into a place of non-harming. So in that way, they are the same. You know the activities are very different, but both teach strength, flexibility, and centering.

“When I was practicing Aikido in a Dojo, during the time of practice, I did not had one thought in my mind expect the practice. It was partly because I was scared that if I did not pay attention, then I would get hurt. Anyways, in the same way in Yoga also, I had to pay so much attention to the body and the postures that other thoughts didn’t come in. So, by the end of either practice, I felt a kind of calm, clear and centered.

When asked about her personal philosophy and spiritual practices, Bush said that her personal philosophy is directly from Neem Karoli Baba’s teachings. She also does Buddhist meditation, Kirtan (chanting) and goes to retreats. Lately, she said, she has been doing practices that open up the heart. The practice involves just resting in loving awareness and repeating ‘I am loving awareness’.

Mirabai Bush on the uprooting of Yoga and meditation from their roots

yoga-tree

When asked about her opinion regarding how some teachers in US teach Yoga and meditation by uprooting them from their roots, Mirabai Bush said: “First of all I will say that I think of these spiritual practices as human practices. I mean, really at their depth, they are not Hindu or Christian you know. They are for us to wake up as humans. That being said, you should know that, in America there is an undeveloped sense regarding the roots or history of things. America believes like we developed everything from the scratch. Partly that was because, a lot of people immigrated here in order to start a new life and they tried to forget about their origins. This attitude kind of permeates American culture.

“Though everybody says Namaste at the end of practicing Yoga, most don’t understand its meaning. Also, in many cases, only the Asanas (postures) alone are taught without their philosophical roots. And this has happened in meditation as well.”

Bush narrated an incident in which she gave a presentation to a group of 60 participants about the origins of mindfulness and her stay in India with Neem Karoli Baba. After the presentation, around 20 participants who were from different parts of Asia came to her and said that they never knew that mindfulness came from Asia and that they always thought that it was an American thing. Bush said that she felt stunning when she heard what those Asian participants told her.

Bush added: “It’s not that people need to know geographically where a practice came from although that’s certainly helpful, but people need to know about the philosophical roots. So, that they don’t get caught in this superficial understanding of the practices. There is a potential in these practices for causing a deep transformation and now there are quite a few people who know that and who are writing and talking about it.

She further said that one must keep in mind that to some extent the practices themselves transmit the essence even though when taught in a secular setting. She gave the example of how Asanas if practiced properly one will learn a lot from within, even though the Asanas may be taught by a very secular teacher. But she added that: “It is just a shame to lose the opportunity to study and learn the philosophy and spiritual frameworks. Because, it increases the possibility of (inner) transformation. It’s not that it is terrible to teach the practices without their philosophical roots, it is just shameful to lose such richness.

More in the Series:

Mirabai Bush speaks on Mindfulness and its application in Google (Part 1)

Mirabai Bush speaks on her stay in India and the Guatemala Project (Part 2)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Right Livelihood & Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (Part 4)

Mirabai Bush speaks about her root-teacher Neem Karoli Baba (Part 5)

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Here’s How Yoga Can Help Fight Menstrual Problems

Yoga helps with both physical and mental health thus having a positive impact on your hormonal health

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Yoga
Yoga asanas help fight menstrual problems to a great extent. Pixabay

Monthly menstrual cycle varies depending on the physical strength of your body. During periods, women face different issues like lack of energy, extreme pain, mood swings, fatigue, bloating, and irritability.

The menstrual cycle is exceptionally sensitive, if you are stressed or traveling; change in your eating pattern can change your menstrual cycle. The condition of menstrual cycle mirrors the condition of physical and psychological well-being. Periods are no reason to avoid physical activities, more so yoga, which helps with both physical and mental health and thus has a positive impact on your hormonal health.

On Menstrual Hygiene Day, Paramita Singh, Nutritionist cum Yoga Practitioner, suggests a few yoga asanas that are help fight menstrual problems. These health tips can go a long way.

Head to Knee Pose – Janu Sirsasana:

Extend your right leg and place the sole of your left foot on your right inner thigh. Centre your torso over the right leg and fold forward. Come back through baddha konasana to set up for the other side. Continuing to take it nice and easy, janu sirsasana – head to knee pose – stretches the hamstrings in a simple forward bend. It’s an easy stretch that allows you to focus on one leg at a time and gently extend and lengthen your hips and groin.

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Yoga techniques practiced throughout the month can help balance the hormones. Pixabay

Seated Straddle – Upavistha Konasana

Open both your legs wide into upavistha konasana – seated straddle. Again, a supported forward fold with a bolster or blankets is a great option. We’re concentrating on those hamstrings again, but are also stretching the inner thighs and lengthening the spine.

Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana

Paschimottasana

Bring both legs outstretched for a forward bend. Lengthen the spine in a seated position before coming forward. Imagine the pelvis as a bowl that is tipping forward as you come down. The seated forward bend – paschimottanasana – goes deeper still in opening the hamstrings and calves. It also gives your back a nice stretch.

Supported Bridge Pose

Setubandhasana

Lie down on your back. Press into your feet to lift the hips slightly and slide a yoga block under them for support. To come out, press into the feet to lift the hips again and slide the block out.

Also Read: This New Drive Aims To Push the Indian Salon Industry

Many yoga techniques can be practiced throughout the month to help balance the hormones, the menstrual cycle and to prevent pre-menstrual syndrome, period pain, emotional disturbances and other associated symptoms of menstruation. (IANS)

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This Quarantine Centre is A Place To Delight: Filled with Music, Yoga and a Menu of choice

This COVID-care centre in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan offers music, meditation, aerobics along with the choicest of the menu for the people staying there!

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Quarantine centre
Rajasthan's quarantine centre has emerged as a role model by setting up new benchmarks. Pixabay

BY ARCHANA SHARMA                                                                                                  A COVID-care centre in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan has emerged as a role model by setting up new benchmarks as it offers music, meditation, aerobics along with the choicest of menu for the people staying here!

Called as Parda Chundawat Quarantine Centre, it has set example by creating a serene environment where people wake up listening to soothing music. Then, there are Yoga and meditation classes where they exercise to shoo off negativity from their mind.

In fact, the daily schedule of those admitted here is quite impressive. They wake up listening to melodious bhajans at 6 a.m. Soon after, there are two yoga classes — one for the people who love to do indoor exercise while the other for those who are interested to do yoga under open sky.

All guidelines of social distancing are followed by the people while performing yoga.

Soon after Yoga, they go for aerobics where they stretch their body rhythmically on different music beats. Thereafter, they get breakfast of their choice and are served lunch in the afternoon. As they take nap in afternoon, the evening time at 5 p.m. awaits for another interesting activity where they listen to their favourite songs of renowned singers including Kishore Kumar, Rafi, Asha Bhonsle, Lata Mangeshkar amongst others, while sitting together.

Qurantine centre
This COVID-care centre in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan has emerged as a role model. Pixabay

Special games and activities are available for kids which include spelling, synonyms, pronunciation, painting etc. Kids find this environment really engaging, says Sabhla sub divisional officer Manish Faujdar who is in charge of this centre.

Also, there are psychological experts who help in counselling. “People coming here are quite worried about their future life, their spouses and families. These counsellors help them connect to meditation with scientific facts which make them feel joyful and relieves them of their stress,” says Chhaya Choubisa, assistant director, Information and public relations, Dungarpur.

Faujdar says that when admitted, these people were quite aggrieved and angry. “We saw an unseen fear in their eyes and mind. Therefore, we introduced a few activities which can make them relieved from their stress, offering mental peace to them. We wanted to divert their attention and hence launched music therapy. We connected the music system to youTube where there were bhajans in morning, filmy songs in the evening and Aarti and patriotic songs later. Eventually, their anger vanished and they look joyful now with no stress or anger seen amongst them.”

Also Read: Caring For The Elderly, Tackling Old-age and Loneliness in The Times Of COVID

District collector Kanaram also visited this place and praised these innovations. (IANS)

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Caring For The Elderly, Tackling Old-age and Loneliness in The Times Of COVID

While we do our bit to stay safe, looking after our loved ones, particularly the elderly, is crucial

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Elderly
Caring for the elderly in these troubled times is very important. Pixabay

BY SIDDHI JAIN 

The Coronavirus pandemic has left human race with feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and a fear what’s coming next. While we do our bit to stay safe, looking after our loved ones, particularly the elderly, is crucial.

In this crisis, just like the little children in the family, our elders also need extra care and attention, especially if they are living alone and are prone to feeling isolated. Coupled with the greater restrictions on the 60+ population stepping out, these feelings can negatively impact physical and mental health, and must be addressed promptly and with care.

In a chat with IANSlife, here are some ways suggested by Dr Ishita Mukerji, a senior psychologist at Kaleidoscope, a mental wellness centre part of Dr. Bakshi’s Healthcare.

Teach them to go digital: Patiently help them learn the use of various video/voice call applications available and encourage them to stay virtually connected with their friends and family. They can also use this time to rediscover their lost art of writing and share short heart felt notes via email, to their loved ones to lift their spirits. Demonstrate to them how to use taxi-hire apps, medical-monitoring apps, emergency call services, and the like. Hand them a copy of all necessary phone numbers and save them on their phones.

Elderly
Looking after our loved ones, particularly the elderly, is crucial. Pixabay

Prioritize their nutrition intake and physical activity: Senior citizens need adequate sleep, optimum nutrition and some kind of physical exercise on an everyday basis. Ensure that their sleep cycle is not disturbed due to the changes in the household because of the factors associated with social distancing. Their daily diet must have a combination of essential proteins and minerals, fruits, green vegetables, dairy products and a lot of liquid, as we are in the peak of summer. Elders might find it tough to exercise within the house, as many go to neighbourhood parks and yoga classes. However, you must help them incorporate at-home yoga and breathing exercises into their routine.

Enjoy recreational activities together: A good way to bond and enjoy as a family is watching a movie, listening to music, indulging in some craft activity, looking through photo albums together or playing indoor games like cards, chess, ludo, monopoly, carom etc or some mind stimulating games like Sudoku or puzzles. These activities will in turn make them feel relaxed, rejuvenated and something to look forward to each day.

Keep them engaged indoors: It is important to involve your family’s senior members in the household activities as much as possible. Their help in such basic activities will let them stay occupied and also give a sense of accomplishment to them but do not push them to perform strenuous activities. You may encourage them to pursue hobbies like reading, writing, knitting, singing or painting. Make sure they have enough supplies to last the crisis. Encourage them to teach young kids a skill.

Involvement in decision-making: We must seek advice and suggestions from the elders in our families at all times, especially when making decisions that might directly or indirectly impact them or their lifestyle. Taking their inputs into consideration will make them feel wanted and heard. It is really important to respect their thoughts and feelings that they derive out of their life experiences and wisdom accumulated over the years.

Create a positive environment at home: Getting exposed to the concerning news around worsening situation for longer durations can create anxiety and fear in seniors’ minds. Create a positive atmosphere and help them keeping calm and positive. Speak to them about their happy times. Revisit old memories, reopen photo-albums, listen to their life experiences and spend quality time with them.

senior citizen
The elderly can also use this time to rediscover their lost art of writing and share short heartfelt notes. Pixabay

Taking care of mental and emotional needs: Pay attention to the thoughts and concerns that the elderly might have as there may be big or small issues where they may need your help to solve them. Look out for mood swings too, as it might mean they are struggling mentally and need extra support and care. Also be aware of any cognitive difficulties they might be facing like being anxious, angry, stressed, agitated or withdrawn. It is very important to provide emotional support to keep them mentally and physically fit.

Also Read: Turn to Yoga For Quitting Tobacco

The elderly have sacrificed a lot in their youth for our sake and it is now time that we show them utmost love and appreciation, signs off Dr Mukerji. (IANS)