Yoga, Meditation, Chanting and Qi Gong
While there is no one thing that fits everyone, you may have heard good things or have experienced the benefits of yoga. It can relax you. It can improve fitness and can be a wonderful support to be able to overcome numerous medical conditions.
Yoga is great for flexibility, for strength, for posture, balance, Yoga has been found to improve quality of life, reduce stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression and back pain. It has also been found to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
But ultimately yoga isn't about building muscle, strength or flexibility (even though these are wonderful side-effects).
Yoga means union. Union of body, mind and spirit. When we are able to stop the movement, the constant chatter, of the mind, we are in Yoga - we are in Union.
While the active part of yoga (the exercise part) is important, to reap the truly beneficial effects, one must include the relaxation part and meditation. Only doing the exercises as vigerously as possible, may or may not be helpful and in some cases when self awareness is subverted by a competitive mind set, people have actually gotten hurt.
One of the primary purposes of a yoga practice is relaxation. Whichever kind of yoga relaxes you and doesn't feel like just vigerous exercise is a excellent choice. Relaxed mindfulness is the goal.
Especially the breathing aspects of yoga can be helpful in so many of our daily life challenges: to help children sleep, reduce anxiety, help with post-traumatic stress disorder, for athma, autism and as support and pain management.
In my experience it has been a great help with both the anxiety and pain levels I experienced during my close encounter with Lyme disease.
What seems like a slow start—breathing deeply, in and out—fires up your prefrontal cortex, the brain's think tank. You just got smarter: In one study, people scored higher on cognitive tests after 20 minutes of yoga.
Your intense focus helps quiet your nagging amygdala—a.k.a. your instinctual emotional network: the fight-or-flight stress mechanism. That means more control over feelings such as anger and fear.
The intense focus on breathing, mental focus, and movement ignites the parasympathetic, or "rest and digest," nervous system, the antidote to the fight-or-flight stress response.
The vagus nerve, one of your body's neural highways, carries that chill-out message to all your internal organs. Ahhh!
Lungs and Heart
Memo received: Your lungs expand and contract and the breaths extend to deep abdominal breathing, which gives you a deep internal massage while the body gets oxygenated.
Your heart also benefits. The effect is so strong that a regular yoga practice can lower your resting heart rate— during and after class.
The adrenal glands ease back on production of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to cravings for fatty foods, estrogen dominance, thyroid disorders and much more. Post-yoga, it may be easier to resist snacking and feel more at ease.
That vagus nerve may also alert your immune system, which releases a stash of immunity-enhancing cells. You could now be better primed to fight off infections.
Balance and Strength
Yoga—even just twice a week for a month—can improve your balance, fitness and strength.
Easing yourself into positions stretches your muscles, tendons, and connective tissues. Repeating these movements can strengthen your core and limbs. And it will add to your flexibility, protecting your joints and muscles from damage.
From the medical community to the yoga community, the verdict is out: you need to meditate! Recent studies from Harvard University found what long-term meditators and yogis been teaching for thousands of years: that meditation reduces stress, fosters clear thinking, and increases our capacity for empathy and compassion.
You will experience the benefits of meditation for yourself when you make the time in your daily schedule. However, once you do it regularly, it is like breathing fresh air, you wonder how you ever existed without this daily breath of fresh air and ritual of relaxation! Check out the range of benefits that a regular practice offers:
Physical Benefits of Meditation
When meditating, MRI images have clearly shown a complete change in the brain’s chemistry, which results in a relaxation response in the rest of the body.
When meditating, beta waves, which indicate a state where information is being processed, decrease, and are replaced by alpha waves, which are associated with total brain function integration and smooth working of the brain. The back of the brain, the instinctual older parts of the brain, governing our fight or flight response (stress response) are calmed resulting in calming the nervous system as a whole, and bringing about relaxation and improved functioning of the entire body.
On a physical level, meditation:
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Reduces anxiety attacks
- Decreases tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
- Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior and reduces stress
- Improves the immune system
- Increases the energy level
Mental Benefits of Meditation
As mentioned before, meditation changes the brainwave patterns to a relaxed alpha state. This relaxes the body and mind. These brainwaves allow the body and mind to enter a state of deep rest. Meditation is also a way to connect with the real, the true you. This is important when we wish to make decisions that align with the person's authentic feelings and desires.
On a mental level, meditation:
- decreases anxiety
- improves emotional stability
- increases creativity
- increases happiness
- develops our intuition
- helps to gain clarity and peace of mind
- assists in being able to see any obstacle in life as a challenge, rather than seeing it as a threat
- sharpens the mind by increasing focus and expands the mind through relaxation
- brings balance of a sharp mind with an expanded consciousness which results in being able to navigate life more elegantly and understanding the the blueprints operating from behind the scenes of our life.
Transformational Benefits of Meditation
Ultimately meditation can bring about true access to the greater aspects of our personality (which often remain hidden to us because of the hubbub of our lives), which allows us to live our life more meaningful, more true to ourselves and living life with a sweeter touch.
Chanting, toning, singing - they are all using sound, breathing and rhythm. It helps to oxygenate the lungs, let the mind relax by focussing on the sounds, massaging all internal organs and gets us ready for meditation.
There is so much benefit from chanting - it is like a transformation mechanism that once set into motion, it will bring about a change. Depending on what we are chanting, the results may be specific or general, may be applied for physical benefit of the body, may be used to benefit our mind or , emotional bodies, or to improve our intuition and much more.
For more information, feel free to contact me.
Unlike Western aerobic workouts, this Eastern approach to exercise is more holistic. It doesn't just benefit the muscles (and in aerobic exercise it actually contracts the muscles), but it builds the muscles, while the body remains relaxed. This allows the energy to travel freely through the body and build source energy in the body. When contracting muscles via aerobic exercise, it slows down our lymph system, however qi gong will improve the lymph system flow and discharge toxins from the body more quickly. It builds power, while remaining relaxed.
- builds muscles and power, while remaining relaxed
- strengthens all internal organs
- improves the cardio - vascular system
- improves lung function and breathing
- strengthens nerves
- can be used by anyone and reaping benefits, no matter if it is a seriously ill person or an athlete
- prevents injury to joints, ligaments and bones
- speeds recovery time from injuries and surgeries
- eases stress and balances emotions and mental attitudes
- benefits sedentary workers and meditators.