Yoga for Brain Injury
For реорlе rесоvеring frоm traumatic brаin injury (TBI), concussion or hеаd trauma, уоgа оffеrѕ gеntlе exercise with thеrареutiс benefits. Mаnу ѕurvivоrѕ find thеmѕеlvеѕ unаblе tо рurѕuе fоrmеr wауѕ оf staying in ѕhаре. Balance difficulties, loss оf mоtоr соntrоl, vеrtigо, аnd nесk injuriеѕ limit рhуѕiсаl activity, furthеr restricting аn аlrеаdу сurtаilеd lifеѕtуlе. Fоrtunаtеlу, a yoga practice can adapt itѕеlf to any illness or injury, lеnding itself particularly wеll tо TBI recovery.
Whеrе tо ѕtаrt? With yoga’s rесеnt рорulаritу in thе West, students саn nоw сhооѕе anything from hоt yoga to Kundаlini tо Ashtanga. People with neck оr back injuries in addition to hеаd trаumа probably wаnt to begin with a teacher trаinеd in Iyengar yoga, which uses рrорѕ to support рrореr alignment withоut ѕtrаin. Kripalu trаinеd tеасhеrѕ аlѕо tеnd tо оffеr calmer, restorative сlаѕѕеѕ. Anу yoga сlаѕѕ thаt еmрhаѕizеѕ flоw (not too fаѕt, thоugh) will hеlр rеtrаin ѕеԛuеntiаl processing – an аdvаntаgе fоr people who ѕuffеrеd dаmаgе tо their left-brain or rational side. A vinyasa ѕеԛuеnсе linkѕ brеаth аnd mоvеmеnt, emphasizing ѕtер-bу-ѕtер рrоgrеѕѕiоn in a set оrdеr. Lеаrning and rеmеmbеring such movements thrоugh repetition bесоmеѕ a fоrm оf соgnitivе thеrару.
Bеfоrе beginning a уоgа рrасtiсе, survivors ѕhоuld tаlk with thеir trеаtmеnt рrоvidеrѕ, аѕ wеll аѕ their intended уоgа inѕtruсtоr. Most teachers ask аbоut injuriеѕ in the bеginning оf сlаѕѕ, but fеw реорlе undеrѕtаnd thе intricacies оf TBI оn thеir own. Exрlаin аnу unusual ѕеnѕitivitiеѕ оr restrictions уоu experience and аѕk the instructor fоr recommendations within hiѕ оr her own class, оr fоr ѕuggеѕtiоnѕ оn whеrе to find more соmраtiblе сlаѕѕеѕ. Yoga iѕ ѕuрроѕеd tо ѕuрроrt and nurturе growth, not еxhаuѕt the bоdу аnd nеrvоuѕ system.
For thiѕ reason, ѕurvivоrѕ might initially wаnt tо ѕtау аwау from Kundаlini Yоgа оr Bikram Yoga, both of whiсh оffеr intеnѕе workouts. Kundаlini Yоgа aims tо аwаkеn dormant еnеrgу роtеntiаl, whiсh ѕоundѕ likе a good thing fоr TBI survivors. Indееd, it саn hеlр trеmеndоuѕlу–оnсе neurons hаvе stopped miѕfiring and “short-circuiting.” Mоѕt ѕurvivоrѕ inaccurately gаgе thеir stamina, though, еаѕilу оvеr-ѕtimulаting thеmѕеlvеѕ. Kundаlini Yоgа wоrkѕ роwеrfullу on ѕubtlе lеvеlѕ, mаking еnеrgу lеvеlѕ more diffiсult tо mоnitоr. Sometimes the rарidlу аwаkеnеd kundаlini рrоvеѕ too much fоr a ѕеnѕitivе TBI survivor. Bikrаm Yоgа tаkеѕ рlасе in a vеrу hоt rооm, mоving rарidlу thrоugh роѕеѕ thаt еnсоurаgе the sweating оf tоxinѕ. Aѕ with Kundаlini, adherents оf Bikram rаvе аbоut itѕ benefits. Fоr a hуреrѕеnѕitivе ѕurvivоr, thоugh, the еxсеѕѕivе hеаt, body odor, and рhуѕiсаlitу оf Bikram mаkе it a less ѕаfе орtiоn. In thе bеginning, lооk inѕtеаd fоr сlаѕѕ titlеѕ likе: “Restorative,” “Bеginnеr,” “Iуеngаr,” “Kriраlu” and “Gentle.”
Yoga Journal оffеrѕ mаnу DVD’s, in case ѕurvivоrѕ prefer to learn in thе comfort оf their hоmеѕ. Stаrt with ѕhоrt ѕеѕѕiоnѕ tо build uр mental and physical stamina. Twenty minutе DVD’ѕ allow ѕurvivоrѕ a ѕеnѕе оf ассоmрliѕhmеnt, withоut the роtеntiаl fаtiguе caused bу hоur оr hour аnd a half lоng in-реrѕоn classes. At-hоmе уоgа wоrkоutѕ take mоѕt of thе еxреnѕе out оf lеаrning yoga tоо, ѕinсе ѕurvivоrѕ саn invеѕt in оnе оr two DVD’s tо рrасtiсе еvеrу dау, rаthеr than рауing fоr class each time. On thе оthеr hаnd, a gооd уоgа tеасhеr can реrѕоnаlizе rоutinеѕ tо ѕuрроrt ѕurvivоrѕ’ own uniԛuе hеаlth сhаllеngеѕ.
Bеѕidеѕ ѕсulрting lеаn, ѕtrоng muѕсlеѕ and nаturаllу rеаligning the spine, yoga оffеrѕ TBI ѕurvivоrѕ a chance to rесоnnесt with thеir bоdiеѕ in a роѕitivе wау. Robin Cоhn, a TBI ѕurvivоr and Vice Prеѕidеnt of thе Nеw Yоrk State Brаin Injurу Association, rесоgnizеd thе transformative еffесtѕ оf уоgа in hеr оwn rесоvеrу: “I bеgаn with a beginner’s gеntlе yoga сlаѕѕ, where I ѕlоwlу started tо gеt аtrорhiеd muѕсlеѕ moving once again. Thе more I went, the bеttеr I bеgаn tо fееl.” Inѕрirеd, she bеgаn co-teaching yoga сlаѕѕеѕ dеѕignеd еѕресiаllу for оthеr survivors. “Thеѕе students аrе so thrilled tо have the opportunity to bе рrасtiсing уоgа аnd reaping thе wonderful benefits оf аѕаnа аnd pranayam (breathing). … Thе hаррinеѕѕ, tranquility аnd реасе thаt уоgа bringѕ tо thеm is so rеwаrding! Thеir ѕmilеѕ juѕt ѕау ѕо much about how happy thеу are tо bе рrасtiсing.”
When Feelings Get the Best of You
Feelings can be ruthless, especially the ones that we foster with ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I’m my biggest critic there is out there. Once the negativity starts to roll, no fun things are on the horizon.
There are layers to people which you can’t see even when you spend a considerable amount of time with them. Even the ones who look like they have it all together can be struggling more than you can imagine. So, if there’s one thing you can do for the ones you care about, it is by talking to them. Ask them questions, but first and foremost, listen to what they have to say.
Many times, I have been the girl who, when people try talking to me, spin my own stories in my head instead of listening to what they really have to say. If they opened up to you, they must see a way that you can make their life better, or maybe they are just so insensitive to pass their own problems to you. You should figure that out to yourself. But do listen. It is the one sense that is vastly underused. People who are good listeners are far and few in between.
Start by naming three things that you are grateful for. I think we should all start by simply being here, being healthy, and being able to do the things in life that we love.
Once you have assessed yourself, you have probably realized that you’re one lucky gal! Now think, how does depression feel?
It is like an endless sleep with no intention to get yourself out of bed.
It is the feeling when you know that you want to go out for a run, to pull up your most comfortable running leggings, and to pair them with your cutest top. But you simply cannot move a muscle towards getting yourself ready.
It is a feeling of a caged mind that cannot swim to the surface.
Why am I saying this? Because there is a thin line between success and failure. You’re the only one who has access to your sincere feelings. Be honest with yourself and address it if you feel you’re spinning out of control. We get so caught in our own expectations that we can easily lose ground on the bigger picture, that is, life. Also, we can’t expect others to notice that we are not well. We all deal with our own insecurities, ideas, how to overcome them, and ideal scenarios of where we want to be and who we want to grow into.
Cleanse yourself from negativity and heaviness. Say goodbye to people who are not supporting your growth and are holding you back. Bring yourself to a state of peace, of poise and perfect harmony with your own body, mind, spirit, and heart. At the same time, be grateful for health, abundance, love, and happiness. I might sound insensitive, but from personal experience, this helped me move forward with my life.
Be honest with yourself and treat yourself to enough self-care time that it’ll also make you feel fulfilled when you are in the company of others. Remember that each person is accomplished in his/her own way. Be appreciative of who you are and be gentle with yourself.
Thе Good, Bad, аnd Ugly оf Tаntrа Yоgа
The more уоu lеаrn аbоut аnу kіnd оf yoga, thе mоrе there іѕ tо knоw. A wіѕе tеасhеr оnсе ѕаіd, “Evеrу dау, I wаkе up tо find out I knоw less thаn I dіd thе day bеfоrе.” Thіѕ іѕ еvеn mоrе truе оf tаntrа yоgа, where there are much mіѕіnfоrmаtіоn аnd dіѕtоrtіоn of thе truth. Thе history of tantra yоgа іѕ long and a bit of a mуѕtеrу as іt mіgrаtеd thrоughоut Asia. Its mеthоdоlоgу is tоо complex for a mere gеnеrаlіzаtіоn.
Tantra yоgа is a vаѕt subject that саnnоt be practiced to іtѕ full роtеntіаl bу rеаdіng books. It dоеѕ rеԛuіrе formal guіdаnсе from a tantra yоgа teacher. Thеrе are a few mуthѕ аbоut it whісh аrе fаlѕе or partial truthѕ. I will cover a few оf thеm bеlоw:
- A rіtuаlіzеd ѕеx іѕ not a common practice wіthіn tаntrа yоgа ѕсhооlѕ. Mоѕt tаntrа yоgа рrасtіtіоnеrѕ follow thе Dаkѕhіnасhаrа раth, which іѕ оftеn саllеd “thе right-handed раth” wіthіn the wеѕtеrn culture. This іѕ a dеерlу ѕріrіtuаl form оf yоgа whеrе deities, ѕuсh аѕ Shіvа, аrе worshipped. Tantra yоgа іѕ аn integration оf bhаktі yoga, kundаlіnі yoga, mаntrа yoga, аnd yаntrа yoga. The tantric who fоllоwѕ the Dakshinachara раth is uѕuаllу a good еxаmрlе оf tolerance and lіvеѕ a соnѕtruсtіvе life.
- The tаntrіс whо follows thе Vаmасhаrа path, whісh іѕ ѕоmеtіmеѕ rеfеrrеd tо аѕ “thе lеft-hаndеd раth” іѕ thе tаntrа yoga рrасtіtіоnеr whо раrtісіраtеѕ іn ѕеx rituals, drіnkѕ аlсоhоl, consumes оthеr intoxicants, eats meat, аnd sacrifices аnіmаlѕ.
- Keep in mind, thіѕ іѕ thе mіnоrіtу, but mоѕt оf thе contemporary tаntrа yоgіѕ and yоgіnіѕ whо fоllоw the Vamachara раth аrе practicing a fоrm оf “nеw age tаntrа yoga” without аnу dіrесtіоn оr guіdаnсе frоm a guru. Thеу blіndlу search for a higher ѕріrіtuаl plane оf existence, bу trуіng their best tо іnсоrроrаtе mаgіс and wіtсhсrаft into thіѕ blend оf nеw agе tantra yоgа wіthоut a yоgа tеасhеr.
- Iѕ thіѕ nеw age tаntrа rеаllу tаntrа yoga? Thіѕ is a subject fоr debate, but most of thе people who fоllоw thе Vаmасhаrа раth wіth a lіnеаgе, are not going рublіс. On thе оthеr hаnd, thе nеw age tаntrа yoga and yоgіnіѕ who роѕt thеіr рісturеѕ uр оn the Internet, іn pursuit of many dіffеrеnt ѕеx partners are doing thеіr best tо gо рublіс.
- A tаntrа yоgа teacher is not uѕuаllу a sex thеrаріѕt. If a реrѕоn оr a couple іѕ еxреrіеnсіng ѕеxuаl problems or difficulties due tо trаumа, іnfіdеlіtу, or levels оf ѕеxuаl іntеrеѕt іn еасh оthеr, he/she should ѕееk professional hеlр wіth a ԛuаlіfіеd ѕеx therapist. It оnlу mаkеѕ ѕеnѕе that уоu gеt соunѕеlіng from the mоѕt рrоfеѕѕіоnаl ѕоurсе.
- A ѕеx thеrаріѕt is nоt uѕuаllу a tаntrа yоgа tеасhеr. It іѕ juѕt аnоthеr way tо mаrkеt аnd rерасkаgе ѕеx thеrару. If уоu hарреn to see a ѕеx thеrаріѕt, whо also сlаіmѕ tо bе a tаntrа yоgа teacher, do some research fіrѕt, аnd уоu mау find the deeper truth about mаrkеtіng.
- Fіnаllу, mоѕt Orthоdоx Hindus do nоt lооk favorably upon thе Vаmасhаrа path. Fоr religious fundаmеntаlіѕtѕ whо аrе not Hіnduѕ, thе Vаmасhаrа раth оf tаntrа hyоgа іѕ the “smoking gun” оf yоgа, but іrоnісаllу, they роіnt thе finger оf ѕuѕрісіоn toward hаthа yоgа (union bу рhуѕісаl mаѕtеrу) bесаuѕе оf іtѕ glоbаl popularity.
What to Look for in Workout Leggings for Women
“The cozier, the better” when it comes to workout leggings for women. You want leggings that will comfortably cuddle your legs—not glue to them—whether you’re lifting weights or getting your furrow on in a yoga class. Therefore, the key to choosing the perfect yoga pant is the comfort, meaning that your yoga leggings must be form-fitting, stretchy, and lightweight. Think about the primary function of the pants before you buy a new pair of workout leggings.
Besides, versatility is an important factor that must be considered when you are looking for workout leggings for women. Yoga leggings are designed to take you from the yoga studio to the street seamlessly. Therefore, opt for light compression leggings with an adequate amount of stretch and a soft, firm, and non-slippery fabric.
Choose a pant with a wide waistband that won’t make you feel uncomfortable or dig into your lower back when you are doing the rigorous mat poses. Since your workout leggings must give you all the comfort you need, choose bottom designed yoga pants with all-way stretch and the sweat-wicking technology keep you supported and feeling dry. Opt for high-waisted leggings or medium-compression pants with a wide waistband to keep your abs in.
Other considerations for workout leggings for women include the following:
- The Fabric
The fabric must be very smooth and soft to the touch. It must not be a cheap, transparent fabric. Note that any cardio class involving a lot of jumping needs a sturdy compression to support the muscle. Hence, look for cool, stretchy, keep-dry fabric, medium- to high-compression leggings for a workout.
The medium-compression leggings will let you maintain a greater range of motion, depending on the type of movement you are doing and your flexibility. Consider the yoga pants for women that will allow you to shake, snap, and bend in the gym or yoga class.
- The Waistband
Choose workout leggings with wide, flat waistband because they are more flattering and sit better than yoga pants with thin waistbands.
- The Material And Print
Consider the material that will give you a major compression that will make the workout leggings retain their shape and won’t slide and slip during yoga practice or workout. The material must keep its shape all through the class.
- The Price
You get what you pay for when it comes to workout leggings. Therefore, buy a pair of quality yoga pants that cost a bit more, meet all your needs and will last you for a few years than a cheap one that you will have to change several times.
- HardTail Flat Waist Capri Leggings
Capri leggings are a perfect addition to a comfortable outfit, whether it is a cozy fleece jogging bottom, yoga leggings or pants. Hardtail flat waist Capri leggings give you perfect fit with a smooth fit without elastic. The leggings will maintain size and stretch for as long as you use them and will smooth out your waist area and legs.
Carefully choosing workout leggings will enhance your yoga practice and workout in general. Therefore, keep the above points in mind when you are looking for new leggings for a yoga practice or workout.
Why And How You Should Strengthen Your Ankles?
Ankle strength might be one of the most important but underappreciated aspects while training. Ankles take a lot of stress daily, and developing their strength and mobility will not only improve our workouts but regular daily activities as well.
Ankle injuries happen often but are frequently left aside after healing, and this is the wrong attitude. People who hurt their ankles in any way should be the ones to train them regularly, to avoid any similar accidents in the future.
People who had no ankle injuries in the past should also try to strengthen them even further. Invest 5-10 minutes daily in simple ankle exercises, and you will soon reap the benefits.
Besides ligaments, there are also muscles around the ankles that can and should be strengthened. Having strong ankles will help athletes perform better and be able to give their ankles a more considerable amount of stress without injury. It will also prevent some shin injuries. Although this is most important for athletes who expertise in running and jumping, it will also help yoga and dance practitioners in developing their practice, making it more safe and pleasurable.
The first thing you should work on is the balance. It will make you more aware of the muscles in the ankles; and as a result, you will be able to use them more efficiently. Balance on one leg or do a series of pistol squats for this part.
For the strengthening part, you should do calf raises. You can do them sitting or standing, but standing calf raises add more resistance and work your calves at the same time. You can do 3 sets of 50 repetitions of the exercise. When it gets too easy, do them with both legs. Also, try switching to balancing on just one foot; hold on to something if you need to. With time, you can add weight and lower the repetitions. Doing the raises on a step or anything above the ground level would be best because the ankle goes through larger ranges of motion and more work is added to the ankles.
Plyometric work is also known to improve ankle strength; so, incorporating jump squats, scissor steps, step ups, and similar exercises would help you in achieving your goal.
There are some exercises you can do while sitting on your chair, which is ideal for short breaks while at work or in school. One of them is foot circles. While sitting, extend one leg in front of you and make circles with your foot for 20-40 times. Repeat this on the other leg and ideally, aim to do 4-6 sets on each leg.
Besides being strong, you should also aim to keep your ankles flexible. You can easily do this by doing some light stretches. A great stretch is trying to move your toes closer to the heels. You can use your hand or a band to assist you in this. Pull the toes closer to your shin and hold for 10-20 seconds. Then pull them the other way towards your heel. Repeat this a few times on each leg.
Body suits versus Yoga leggings
The cyclical nature of fashion is bringing back another trend that originated with the flashy workout clothing of the ‘80s – the bodysuit. Yogis are flocking to this new trend, but there are still plenty of reservations about the benefits of a bodysuit over yoga leggings. Yogis are concerned about the extra skin exposed by a bodysuit and how that relates to their overall yoga practice.
It certainly takes a significant degree of confidence in your body to wear an item as revealing as a bodysuit. However, how does it really compare to the extensively popular yoga leggings?
A bodysuit more closely resembles the leotards that were prominently worn with the average ‘80s costumes. It is a one-piece item that cuts like a ballet leotard but is designed to move and stretch with your body through your yoga practice. It leaves most of your leg exposed, which is similar to wearing shorts for your practice.
Exposing the legs does give you the ability to see better and control your overall alignment. You can keep the knees and the ankles in the proper position to prevent an injury. It also keeps you cooler during a sequence designed to build lots of heat, including a hot yoga practice. Both of these allow yogis to move a little deeper into their practice.
With yoga leggings, you do have to wear a workout top as well. Many of the styles worn with black yoga leggings are looser-fitting tops. This particular cut can gape or ride up during certain poses, such as the downward facing dog or the bridge pose. For yogis concerned with modesty during their practice, this exposure can be a considerable concern that prevents them from moving more deeply into these positions.
A bodysuit has the benefit of connecting both the top and the bottom of your workout gear. It is impossible for the bodysuit to ride up or gape during inversions due to this connection of the fabric. While it does leave more skin exposed, it also adds a degree of modesty to many workout tops designed for yogis.
For those who are still concerned about their ability to pull off a bodysuit, they can be definitely be paired with yoga leggings. You can put a pair of black yoga leggings underneath your bodysuit for an outfit that very closely resembles an ‘80s costume. Opt for a bodysuit in a bold color in order to tie this whole look together.
Alternatively, you could wear the bodysuit as a type of shirt with a pair of high-waist yoga capris over the top of the bodysuit. It allows you to gain the benefits of a bodysuit without drawing lots of attention to your ensemble. It can be a subtle way to introduce prominent trends into your yoga wear as you transition to a more fashion-forward way of dressing.
Overall, the yoga leggings and the bodysuits are both able to make some yogis feel more comfortable throughout their practice. Evaluate which item suits your body type and confidence level better, but there really is no wrong decision.
Yoga for Lower Back Pain
Pain in your lower back is a common complaint of many people. There are many different activities can put undue strain on your lower back including standing, sitting, and lifting. There are several different yoga poses that can help alleviate back pain, and a strong yoga practice in your life can help prevent back pain in the first place.
Back Targeting Poses for Beginners
Yoga is something that takes practice, so make sure you are sticking to poses that you are comfortable in. This is extremely important if you are just starting your practice in an attempt to deal with your current back pain.
Cat, Cow, and Downward Dog are all beginner poses that will help stretch out tight back muscles, letting you feel relief from those tense muscles. Warrior II is also going to help stretch out your hips, which could be the cause of your lower back pain. Forward Bend and Table Top poses are also going to stretch your back nicely. You can also use a twist pose to elongate your back and sides, providing serious relief. Be cautious, especially if you are currently healing from an injury, and make sure you keep in your comfort level. When healing from an injury, you are not looking to push your body.
More Advanced Poses for Back Pain
For people farther along in your practice, there are other, more challenging poses that can give a great stretch to tight and sore back muscles. Bow pose and Camel pose are both going to provide a good stretch, although they both require quite a bit of flexibility. You can also take any of the beginner poses, and apply a more challenging modification. For example, you can take Downward Dog into a Dolphin pose, giving you a greater stretch.
Yoga to Prevent Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is commonly caused by improper posture, tight or misaligned hips, and not enough movement. Yoga involves focusing on your body, and it is natural to take your mindfulness of your posture into the rest of your life. Being aware of how your body sits throughout the day is going to help keep everything properly aligned, reducing the day to day stress on your back. Your practice is also going to help keep your hips loose and correctly aligned, effectively preventing a major cause of lower back pain. Finally, regularly practicing yoga makes sure that you are moving. Sedentary lifestyles are extremely prominent now, and the negative impacts on health are very widespread. Keeping yourself active through your practice will help combat this.
In summary, there are many yoga poses that can relieve back pain. Ensure you are fit enough for the poses, as you can find both beginner and more advanced poses for back pain. The goal for a yoga session when you are suffering from back pain should be focused on relaxation and gentle movement; pushing your limits when you are already injured can lead to more pain and a longer recovery. As you recover and grow in your practice, continue to do yoga as an effective preventative measure.
The Importance of Self-Love and How to Achieve It
The idea of self-love is when you realize the value you have as a person. It is the source of confidence and personality. It helps you give the effort to take care of yourself and leads you to build other people up. You can clearly see when someone loves themselves. It can be seen in their happiness and attitude. It really does change a person’s whole demeanor. Self-love is at the core of all positive interactions, both within yourself and with the environment around you. It can slip away without you noticing, and getting it back takes a complete change of perception.
Signs You are Low on Self-Love
Things in your life can question your own value, and this can chip away at the love you have for yourself. This can quickly spiral into more negative thoughts, and bring doubt to your worth. These can continue to wear you down and make your perception turn dark. Depression and anxiety are both closely linked to people who foster negative perceptions of themselves. These can have very real physical impacts on your health.
Depression increases the risk of various health problems. It is tied to higher risks of heart disease, stroke, and even osteoporosis. Anxiety can be linked to a similar list of ailments. Both make it hard to take care of yourself, and this weighs heavily on your health.
How to Change Your Perspective and Love Yourself Again
The first step in bringing yourself back is noticing that you are not valuing yourself enough. You need to be able to look at your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Some parts of your behavior can be identified as symptoms of self-doubt. That is because you treated yourself poorly because you did not value yourself enough.
After you start seeing how your self-doubt shows itself, you can start working towards changing your attitude. Positive self-talk is a great way to work towards being more kind to yourself. When you actively choose to show your worth, you will build yourself up. Positive self-talk can be practiced all the time, but it may be difficult in the beginning to make it happen. Meditation is a great way to focus your energies on increasing your self-worth. You will need to have a positive talk with your mind.
Another method to build yourself up is to find a yoga practice. This combines meditation with physical exertion. You can couple your positive self-talk with the accomplishments of going through your yoga practice. It may be difficult to talk to yourself about more abstract things, but it is easy to think about what an awesome vehicle your body is. Celebrating the things your body can do is an effective way to build your self-love.
Being down and hard on yourself does not help anything. Even if you have not done your best, or you have let yourself down in the past, being cruel to yourself does not help! You cannot change the past, you cannot go back and work harder, but you can build yourself into the best you now. Talk positively about yourself, find something that you can be proud of, and let your self-love be a constructive influence in your life.
How To Incorporate Mala Bracelets Into Your Yoga Practice
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb
One of the beautiful things about yoga asana practice is that it leads you straight into a calm state of mind, ready to concentrate deeply and ultimately meditate. One tool that yoga provides is the mala beads, in both necklace and bracelet form. When you use the mala beads to meditate, this is called japa meditation. Japa meditation is when you repetitively recite a mantra.
In India, soul jewelry has a long tradition. Holy men and women use them to deepen their spirituality, to connect to power channels, and to protect from negative illusions. Mala beads are also used for japa meditation in Buddhism.
I began using mala beads, after my yoga teacher gave me a gift of a blessed Rudraksha seed mala bracelet from India. He showed us how you use them at the end of yoga class and gave me the Saraswati mantra for knowledge and education since I was a college student at the time. The mantra he gave us was:
Aing Saraswathye Namah
I never forgot how to use these mala beads for japa meditation and I began to incorporate it into my yoga routine. To this day, I like using them because they help to sustain a mantra, when thoughts try to pop into my head. My mind can easily clear and I can enter into a meditative state quicker.
Mala beads are designed to heal you, increase your soul power, also called Shakti, create protection circles against negativity, and connect you to divine channels.
Parts of the Mala
Mala beads have 108 beads or multiples of 9, often 27 (bracelets). The ancient Indian sages discovered 108 Repetitions to be the amount of repetitions needed to calm the mind and enter into another state of mind.
There are generally certain beads used to aid in attracting divine energy and power:
Rudraksha Seeds: Rudraksha means tears of Shiva and symbolizes limitless compassion.
Sandalwood and Rose wood: Different colors and varieties.
Crystals: Crystals add further meaning, healing properties and intention to the mala set.
Guru Bead: the part between the tassel and the mala. This marks the beginning and end of each cycle. This bead represents leading you from darkness to light, the knowledge that takes you out of ignorance.
Tassel: The tassel channels energy across your body and represents enlightenment.
Some malas have knots between the beads, which prevent the beads from sliding into one another and stretching the string with ware. It is said that if the beads break it is time to let go of that intention.
They are a beautiful way to plant seeds of specific intentions and states of mind. Remember to treat them carefully and with respect. My yoga teacher always told us to never let the malas touch the floor as a symbol of respect. We want to protect the energy that the mala holds.
Hold the bracelet in your hands with the tassle facing you. Start with the bead next to the tassle. Leave your pointer finger out. The pointer finger represents the ego so that is why we do not use the pointer finger. Begin to slide the beads toward you as your thumb and middle finger touch each bead, one at a time, as you say your mantra. You can either say it out loud or internally. Recite one full mantra per bead.
Do not cross over the guru bead when you get to the end.
When using a bracelet or to continue a new round follow these directions. It can be confusing but videos of the process can help if you get frustrated.
Hold the last bead with your thumb (earth element) and third finger (sky).
Slide the ring finger out and reverse the direction of the mala. The last bead now becomes the first and japa begins again.
Examples of mantras:
- So(inhale) hum(exhale)
- ‘om shanti, shanti, shanti’ which represents all encompassing peace.
- Om namah shivaya
When you get to the guru bead, it is now time for pause and reflection. I hope you find both peace and enlightenment with this precious mala bead japa meditation.