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9780440508731: The Essentials of Yoga (OMEGA INSTITUTE MIND, BODY, SPIRIT)

Breathing techniques that increase energy and reduce stress
Easy-to-follow programs for flexibility and total body fitness
Expert advice on making  yoga an integral part of  your lifestyle

The Omega Institute, the nation's largest holistic education and retreat center, has helped tens of thousands of people in their search for well-being, personal growth, and spiritual development through its world-renowned workshops and retreats. Now the experts at the Omega Institute share their wisdom with you in a unique series of books that provide the guidance, the inspiration, and the skills you need to bring increased meaning and vitality into your life. . . .

More than six million Americans have chosen yoga as the energizing, empowering way to relax both body and mind. Whether its practice involves a gentle flow of postures or a more physically demanding regimen, yoga has never been more popular . . . as an individualized fitness program, a stress reliever, and a transformational tool. The Essentials of Yoga draws upon the collected wisdom of two of the foremost experts from the Omega Institute to open the door to this calming yet profoundly rejuvenating discipline.

Providing step-by-step guidance and warm inspiration, it shows you:

How to choose the right type of yoga for your age, for your physical condition, and for your spiritual well-being
Powerful breathing techniques that enhance the vital connection between your body, your spiritual energy, and your health
The yogic positions that leave you serene yet invigorated . . . energized yet free of stress
How to successfully take the principles you have learned off the mat and into the real world!
Don't miss these other outstanding Omega Institute Mind, Body, Spirit books:

Vitality and Wellness
Writing Your Authentic Self

And coming soon . . .

Contemplative Living
The Power of Ritual
Bodywork Basics

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

Dinabandhu Sarley has been a leader in the field of spirituality and human development for over twenty years. He is currently the President of the Omega Institute. He was a founding member of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and served as president of that organization for many years. An active teacher and workshop leader in the areas of spirituality, health, and leadership, Dinabandhu also carries on a consulting practice, where he applies his spiritual and developmental insights to business. He has traveled widely in India, studied esoteric traditions with many yoga masters and mystics, and has devoted his life to the intensive practice of a wide variety of both eastern and western disciplines for spiritual growth and transformation.

A founding member and former executive director of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and a teacher of stress management, yoga, meditation, and communication skills for twenty years, Ila Sarley is currently the communications director of the Omega Institute, where she leads the popular Introductory Weekend on stress management and holistic lifestyle practices. With her husband, Dinabandhu, she is the cofounder of the Natural YogaTM system of self-development.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

What Is Yoga?

Have you noticed how yoga seems to be turning up everywhere these days? Chances are, if you chose this book in a bookstore, it probably came off a shelf that held a number of titles on the subject. Your health club may have just expanded the numbers of classes it offers, or you may have noticed that you keep running into people--at work, or through friends--who say they're trying yoga, and everybody you talk to is enthusiastic about their experience.

In the past few years, new yoga studios have opened their doors in big cities and small towns across the United States. In fact, when the editors at Yoga Journal recently commissioned the Roper Poll to do a nationwide survey of people's thoughts about yoga, they discovered that 6 million Americans practice regularly. An additional 16 million people expressed an interest in taking a class. This means that if you are just beginning to explore yoga, you are not alone.

"The seeker who sets out upon the way shines bright over the world."
--the Dhammapada (Sayings of the Buddha)

"Hatha yoga is based on the principle that changes in consciousness can be brought about by setting in motion currents of certain kinds of subtler forces in the physical body."
--I. K. Taimni
Yoga is not only a staple offering in wellness spas and fitness centers. Now even corporate retreat centers offer attendees yoga sessions to start the day. Classes oriented to specific needs have emerged, as well, such as prenatal and postnatal yoga and sessions designed for people recovering from cancer or other illnesses.

For all the attention yoga is getting, and all the images one might bring to it--such as people contorted into astounding pretzel-like shapes, swamis in flowing robes, or leotard-clad models on instructional video boxes--yoga is actually a straightforward endeavor.

Anyone can practice yoga. Age doesn't matter, nor does physical conditioning. Anytime is the right time to begin. All you need is your body, a small amount of space, and a desire for a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Yoga is not as mysterious as it seems. It is not a religion, though many people do find spiritual guidance in its practice and teachings. It is also not a sport, though it does build endurance and strengthen the body. If you are looking for a challenging physical workout, some schools offer this, but many offer an easy, gentle practice.

"Yoga is first and foremost the discipline of conscious living. When we take charge of our lives, we also tap into our inner potential for happiness, or what in Sanskrit is called ananda. This primal joy, which transcends the ego or personality, wells up in our hearts and infuses our whole being with vibrant energy--life. Thus energized, or enlivened, we can go about the business of our daily living in a harmonious manner. We become highly creative, establishing order where there is chaos, instilling life where there is a vacuum, causing comfort where there is distress. In other words, because we are full of joy and life, we become a healing presence in the world."
--Georg Feuerstein, Stephan Bodain, with the staff of Yoga Journal, Living Yoga: a Comprehensive Guide for Daily Life
Essentially, yoga is a system of physical and mental exercises designed to balance and unite the mind, body, and spirit. In Sanskrit, yoga is most commonly defined as "union, joining together."In fact, the Sanskrit root word, yuj, means "yoke," such as yokin, or connecting things.

Yoga is also about the person practicing it, as it works differently for different people, depending on what you bring to it. It is simple, it is subtle, and it can be joyous.

People are drawn to yoga because of its benefits, which can be felt soon after one begins. It strengthens and tones the muscles, reduces stress, teaches relaxation, and just plain feels good.

At first yoga might look like plain old stretching, so you may wonder what makes it different from warm-up exercises people do before jogging. The difference has to do with the intention and experience. Exercise is goal-oriented. The goal could be to finish a routine, or flatten the belly, or lift a certain number of weights, but in each case it is usually to accomplish what you are doing and move on to the next thing.

What's that word? If you come across a term or a phrase in bold, that means it is included in the glossary in the back of this book.
Yoga, on the other hand, is process-oriented. The idea is to focus awareness on exactly what you are doing, in the moment. Yoga coordinates breath with movement, allowing you to sink into the experience of a stretch rather than simply finishing it in order to go for a run. Yoga not only stretches and tones the body, it also teaches the practitioner to be more present while doing so.

There is a component of yoga that is goal-oriented, as making progress through the levels of postures can be an important part of the practice. But it isn't the primary focus--in fact, you progress more easily in yoga when you are aware of the postures that are appropriate for your own level.

"Awareness changes how we physically move. As we become more fluid and resilient so do the mental, emotional, and spiritual movements of our lives."
--Emile Conrad Da'oud
Some people prefer yoga rather than spending an hour with weight machines or in an aerobics class because it provides a nurturing time-out from a busy day. On the days when your life feels like it's bursting at the seams, the peace and quiet of a yoga class can be an oasis. It's dependable, too, because you know you'll walk out feeling refreshed. Some classes are also a form of community. Though the practice itself is inner-directed, many beginner classes have a we're-starting-out-together feeling of camaraderie. You may develop friendships with other class members, as you are all learning and exploring together.

There's another aspect that keeps people coming to yoga, as well, which has to do with its connection to emotions and spirituality. Even as a beginner, you may experience a feeling of serenity at the end of the class. By practicing breathing techniques and moving through a variety of postures, you will have awakened your nervous system and energized your body. Classes end with deep relaxation, which leaves you feeling both calm and rejuvenated.

As you continue practicing, you may find that yoga can lead you on a journey into yourself. You may find the link between the body, mind, and spirit to offer a new arena of inner growth and self-understanding. People who are drawn to yoga for its health benefits often become more deeply involved once they discover its uncanny ability to promote emotional balance and spiritual awareness.

A Brief History

Yoga may be new to your health club, but it has been around for thousands of years. It is included in the oldest known text in the world, the Rig-Veda (meaning "Knowledge of Praise"), which is estimated to have originated in India 4,000 years ago. The Rig-Veda is a collection of 1,028 hymns composed in archaic Sanskrit that were memorized and passed down by oral tradition up until a few hundred years ago.

"Yoga is the stilling of the restlessness of the mind."
--Yoga Sutras
Indian stone sculptures from as early as 3,000 b.c. also demonstrate yoga postures. Yoga shows up 500 years later in Hindu scriptures called the Vedas, and again in the Indian epic poem Bhagavad Gita in 500 b.c.

The first systemized treatise devoted solely to yoga is called the Yoga Sutras. It is said to have been written in 200 b.c. by an Indian sage and physician named Patanjali. Patanjali is considered the father of yoga because, after generations of oral teachings, his texts made it more accessible.

Basically, the Sutras are a collection of 195 statements that explore what it takes to gain mastery over the mind and emotions. They also offer advice on spiritual growth. Many of the teachings you will run across as you study yoga, even in a beginning class, will be based on the philosophical guidelines of this ancient text. Some instructors may refer to a quote from the Sutras to start the class, or mention how a pose relates to the Sutras' teachings.

Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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