The meaning of Yoga

My personal understanding of what Yoga is

 

YOGA NOWADAYS

 

In this world we live in today, we tend to oversimplify a lot of complex concepts. Very profound philosophies, systems and methods, that used to be known only to the initiated and learned members of certain groups and societies, are now widely spread and available to anyone.

On one hand, this creates a lot of opportunities for spiritually inclined people to get a notion and interest in certain techniques, and then to pursue them deeper. On the other hand, however, oversimplifying concepts such as Yoga, meditation etc. may, and often does, lead to misconceptions about what these techniques really mean.

 

Nowadays, “Yoga” is most commonly associated with physical exercises. That is why so many new styles in Yoga crop up, designed to cater to the restless mind of a modern man who always craves variations, something different, something new. Few of these styles have anything to do with Yoga and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with the techniques and systems themselves, it is wrong to use a name of an ancient art designed to work on all the levels, physical, mental and spiritual, when we simply do some acrobatics with a hula hoop… :)

 

I do not want to make fun or judge different styles of Yoga. I tried many and enjoyed some greatly. But what came to me with years of practice and studying, is a deep conviction of Yoga being a complete and holistic art that goes far beyond anything that we experience in our day-to-day lives.

 

WHAT I BELIEVE YOGA REALLY IS

 

yogIn definition, Yoga is agreed to mean ‘unity’ (from Sanskrit ‘yuj’ → to unite, merge). We ask: A unity of what with what?… The answer we most often get is: Yoga is the unity of body-mind-spirit. That’s all very nice, and true indeed, but while having a pretty good notion of what body is, we have very vague (if at all) experience of the mind and, most often, absolutely no understanding of the spirit.

 

Feeling stuck in this description of the unknown with more unknown, I gave it a lot of reflection. And from there came my own, simple and comprehensive (I hope) definition of Yoga, as unity of the known with the unknown. We start of at the point that we understand, and from there proceed to explore and integrate into our being all that is yet veiled and unknown to us, all that we cannot as yet comprehend about the world or our deep, vast Selves. We call this unknown ‘mind and spirit’, but I find it useful to give no name to the phenomena that are not understood (and I mean really understood, not just logically analysed with my reason, but also felt deep within my intuitive powers), other than just ‘unknown’.

 

On another level, the aim of Yoga is two-fold: to unite all the scattered inner parts of your being, through experiencing, understanding and acceptance, as well to unite you with the world, the creation and all other beings dwelling in this realm we live in.

 

This is my simple understanding of Yoga but there are many more levels and each of them can be divided into more and more subtle layers. Some of these I discuss in my blog. Some others I may never reach or realize. If you have your own experience or understanding, please share it with us here!

I’m so happy to be on this journey with You.

Blessings from the depth of my heart.

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Cleaning Your Yoga Mat

How to Clean Your Yoga Mat

 

It could be a nightmare of every Yoga practitioner, especially painful for those healthiest, who enjoy doing their routine in the fresh air, where a lot of dust, dirt or other substances easily transferable by the means of feet abound.

Yes, I am talking about cleaning our mats…

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Just as keeping our bodies clean is very important for Yoga or meditation practices, so is our environment. Most of all, cleanliness of our mats since they have a frequent and close contact with all our bodily parts.

The bad news is – there is no magical solution. We will have to wash.

The good news is – it is not as dreadful as we often imagine (i.e. long hours of vigorous scrubbing on your knees, elbow deep in soapy foam…) and could actually be a bit of fun if you start choosing your favourite essential oil for the fragrance or make a little healthy ritual out of the whole procedure.

So here’s a short tutorial with some mat cleaning info and tips. Test them yourselves and enjoy the Child’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog again!

HOW OFTEN?…

It depends of course on how often you practise Yoga. For those eager to keep a daily routine, practicing hot Yoga or living in a hot climate and sweating a lot, it will be neccesary to take more frequent care of their faithful companions, the mats, than for those who do it once a week or simply from time to time. Generally, it is enough to do it once a month, if you are a medium-to-keen practitioner.

Best rule is to apply your healthy judgment and clean your mat long before it starts getting sticky, stinky and black… :)

HOW TO?…

There are several natural methods for cleaning Yoga mats. I give you two of my favourites*.

* The third favourite is a simple garden hose, soft cloth and some dish soap, a perfect summer solution for all of you who have a garden. It can be such fun! :)

Method 1

You will need:

– bathtub

– dish soap or mild laundry detergent (best organic)

– warm water

Method:

  1. Soak the mat for a few minutes in the bathtub with warm water, adding the soap/detergent.

Note: Don’t make a relaxing bubble bath for your mat! A moderate amount of the detergent will do (about 1 Tbsp/15 ml of dish soap or laundry dtergent per 3-4l lukewarm water).

  1. Wipe both sides of the mat with a soft cloth. Be sure not to rub too strong not to destroy the surface of the mat.
  2. Rinse the mat with clean water, until all soap residue is removed and the water runs clear.
  3. To dry the mat, you can use a towel. Put it on top of the mat and then roll the mat tight or even step on it to remove the excess water.
  4. Hang your mat up to dry on a cloth rack. Do not use it until it is completely dry (you can test it by squeezing a part between your fingers), as a damp Yoga mat creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Keep it in mind that it can take up to 24 hours before your mat dries (depending on the temperature and humidity).

mats

Method 2

You will need:

– spray bottle

– ½ cup water

– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

– 5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil (my favourite: tea tree for its desinfecting properties or lavender for the divine aroma…)

Method:

  1. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray the surface of the mat. If the mat is very dirty, you can let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Wipe with a soft cloth.
  3. Repeat on the other side
  4. Allow the mat to dry (shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes but if you want to speed the process up, you can wipe it thoroughly with a piece of dry cloth).

NOTE: Some people complain that apple cider vinegar leaves an unpleasant smell off on the surface of the mat or that it can even destroy the material. I personally haven’t experienced any of these troubles but if you have concerns, use less vinegar or try another method!

Maintenance

To keep the mat from getting lots of bacteria and dirt on it, try to be consequent about washing your hand and feet (or at least wiping the with wet wipes) before every practice. This will prevent the ugly dark marks being created and will make the cleaning routine more pleasant and effortless.

It is also important to air your mat out regularly. Don’t keep it rolled every time you are in between the yoga sessions, let it breathe in a dry space, preferably on a rack that will enable the air flow on both sides.

If none of these methods speaks to you or you are short on time, you can always get ready-made mat sprays or wipes, usually offered by the mat producers.

mats_blue

Enjoy your fresh and shiny mats! :)

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Benefits of a Headstand

A HEADSTAND A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY

 

When something significant happens in our lives, something that changes the way we are or the way we think and act, we say that our life was turned upside down. It could be due to a positive event or something we call negative, but a fact is a fact – a change occurs and any change is a step forward on the path of our development.

Similarly, turning our bodies upside down for a couple of minutes every day is a step forward toward a better health.

Apart from strengthening the mental qualities, such as clarity, will power, concentration and its calming, rejuvenating effects on the body, it brings many more benefits:

– strengthens abdominal, arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders muscles;
– improves the blood flow to the pituitary gland, promoting healthy endocrine system and balanced hormones secretion;
– massages and improves the functioning of the abdominal organs, strengthening the digestive system;
– improves circulation and gives the heart a short break from pumping the blood up to the brain;
– this is a good one: improves the circulation in the face area, reducing possibility of skin problems and wrinkles – natural face-lift! :)
– boosts the immune system;
– improves blood circulation in the scalp, preventing hair loss (and, as some also claim, prevents or even reverses graying of the hair!).

If you are convinced and want to gain all the remarkable benefits this simple exercise provides, make sure you learn to do your headstand with a qualified instructor and practice it in a safe environment once you feel confident to do it on your own.

Turn your world around and enjoy the new perspective! :)

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