Tibetan Medicine: Eastern Sages Seek Root Causes for Dis-ease

The Benefits of Tibetan Medicine

I am a yoga therapist because I don’t believe in band-aid medicine. Why take a pain killer to mask a problem? I’d rather address what’s causing the pain. My yoga therapy is rooted in eastern medicine. Seeking to find balance in body, mind and spirit. Hence, I attended a Tibetan Medicine workshop last month in Costa Rica. 

The Tibetan Medicine course was led by Dr. Rodolfo Paz. Dr. Paz is a medical practitioner who combines east with west. Research-oriented, he values clinical trials while respecting the ancient sages’ learnings.  

He describes allopathic medicine as symptomatic. It requires large teams and modern technology. Plus, strong synthetic drugs with side effects. Tibetan Medicine, along with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, are based on subtle, energetic and physical anatomy. The ancient life sciences attack the root issue. Eastern Medicine may be low tech. However, rich with thousands of years of case studies, and thousands of plant-based remedies that have no negative side effects.

He says dating back to the seventh century, the Tibetans were studying the human body. Not only externally or energetically, but examining cadavers as part of funeral rites. They recognized humans were comprised of 360 bones, 28 primary joints and 210 secondary ones, plus 35 million pores and 21,000 hairs. 

“It’s absurd that people take pills for their entire lives,” Dr. Paz said. As an example, he recalled his own childhood. He had severe migraines. His doctor prescribed heavy doses of meds from the time he was 12. Of course he was on a vicious cycle. Migraines and meds. Forever. Until he went East. Through Tibetan Medicine, they identified the imbalances…the root of his problems. Since he tried Tibetan Medicine, he hasn’t had another migraine.

Another Tibetan Medicine anecdote he share related to his girlfriend. Constipated for two weeks, she went to a large modern hospital in Dharmasala (the most Tibetan of Indian cities).  The doctor didn’t palpate her belly or order imaging. Rather, he checked her pulse. His diagnosis: liver imbalances. He treated her liver, and her digestion was back on track. 

Similarities between Ayurveda, TCM and Tibetan Medicine

Tibetan Medicine emerged as a fusion between TCM, Ayurveda, Greek Persian and its own widely practiced Tibetan Bon practices. 

Similarities between the Tibetan Medicine approach, and TCM and Ayurveda begin with the approach. They seek to identify imbalances and energetic centers, and identify root problems to achieve well being. Tibetan Medicine asserts that there are four four causes of illness. 1. Weather 2. Food 3. Behavior and 4. Subtle influences. Likewise, TCM and Ayurveda adopt approaches based on the above.

TCM talks of meridians. Ayurveda calls them nadis. In English, we may say channels whereby the prana, qi or life force circulate. Tibetan Medicine acknowledges 72,000 channels which include the veins, arteries, nervous systems and meridians which they call rtsa that transport tsog-lung (prana)

“The body without its life breath or tsong-lung, is nothing more than a cadaver or empty vessel,” Dr. Paz says. 

Three main channels, according to Tibetan Medicine are Uma, Roma and Rkyan Ma. Ayurveda recognizes three main nadis called Ida, Pingala and Shushumna. In Tibetan Medicine, one equates to solar, and the other lunar, which is the TCM yin/yang concept.  

Beyond the channels, there are both differences and similarities to what Ayurveda calls the doshas. Tibetan Medicine talks of three nyepas. Loong (air) travels along the 72,000 channels. In Ayurveda, vata equates toair plus ether. The other two Tibetan nyepas are mKrispa (fire) like the Ayurvedia pitta and BadKan is water and earth. Ayurveda also combines water and earth for kapha. Moreover, just as in TCM and Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine focuses on balance. Dr. Paz explains that the three nyepas are vital forces that impregnate the subtle body and must be in balance for optimum wellbeing. 

Based on one’s dosha, one should follow certain diets. Just as in Ayurveda, there are six Tibetan “flavors” and a combination of those is recommended to help balance the doshas. For example, Loong should eat sweet, acidic and salty foods, along with more fats and proteins, whereas BadKa are encouraged to eat spicy, astringent and acidic foods, devoid of fats and mKrispa are the only ones better off with raw foods. Additionally, as in TCM and Ayurveda, rarely are people 100 percent one element.  To underscore that point, Dr. Paz says that there can be 106 different loong pulse readings.

Beyond the Doshas

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Eastern medicine is complex.  You can’t just solve your life-long problems with a dosha reading.  For example, both Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine recognize five vayus (winds) that regulate the way energy and elements in the body move. This is actually why women on their cycle should not do inversions in yoga classes. Because it negatively affects the movement of bodily fluids and energy, according to Ayurveda.

The five Loongs, or vayus differ energetically from Ayurveda. 

  1. According to Dr. Paz, the first wind is life sustaining and is associated with the head, sense organs and thorax. This vital wind is responsible for breathing, swallowing and even mental clarity. 
  2. The second wind is an ascending one that circulates through the nose and mouth. It affects speech, memory and physical vigor. 
  3. Next is the wind that permeates or circulates through the blood and nervous system. Therefore, it’s responsible for growth, movement of the extremities and even subtle thoughts. 
  4. The fourth wind accompanies the “fire.” In Ayurveda, fire is responsible for digestion and assimilation of nutrients. The same is true for this Tibetan wind.
  5. The last is a downward wind, which is very important in Ayurveda. In Tibetan medicine, likewise, it helps to remove toxins or waste in the form of urine, feces and male or female fluids. 

Additionally, the eastern life medical practitioners identify five types of mKrispa (fire), and five types of BadKan (earth/water) in their patients. Dr. Paz explains that in Tibetan Medicine, the balance between these 15 aspects is what leads to mental and physical well being.  

“The cause of illness is ego. When the body is separated from its entorno or environment. That can lead to 84,000 psycho-emotional diseases.”

Energy and Electrical Impulses

Most yoga practitioners are aware of the chakras. Tibetan Medicine refers to tantric energetic hubs which coincide with the chakras. The ancients considered these more important than the nervous or vascular systems. What’s fascinating is that modern medicine aligns the chakras with the endocrine, adrenal, thyroid, pineal and pituitary glands. 

Dr. Paz says the Tibetans were way ahead of western medical practitioners. “They understood there were subtle energies. Electric energies and magnetic fields chakras that were more important than the veins or muscular systems.”

Unique to Tibetan Medicine is the recognition of the nyepas as types of electrical energy in the body, influenced by the moon. Tibetan Medicine practitioners spend seven years at the university studying electrical energies and breath. Through Tibetan pulse readings, doctors can detect not only tumors, but the growth of cancerous cells. 

With simple exercises we can bring electrical charges to the fibers and ions, Dr. Paz explains. For example, Kapalabhati (breath of fire) brings electrical charges to the liver. Additionally, the Tibetan Medicine system taps into TCM practices of acupressure points, cupping, moxibustion, needles and drainage (blood letting). However, the points are not identical to those in TCM.

Nanotechnology

Today, people want everything. All the time. Eastern medicine believes there’s a time and place for everything. Eat in season. Choose local. Additionally, Tibetan Medicine says you should only harvest when it’s time. Year-round crops don’t allow plants to regain their energy and nutrients. These practices date back to 600 Century BC. Today, modern medicine recommends some people avoid night shades. Tibetans always recognized the importance of where and when something was growing in relationship to the four coordinates.

New clinical trials are indicating that nanotechnology of propolis, for example, kills cancer cells. Likewise, nanotechnology of shilajit combats Alzheimer’s. Tibetan Medicine has followed nanotechnology concepts since the 13th century. The premise is that nano particles can enter and stimulate cells from within.

Not only did the ancients understand what is now called nanotechnology, or nanomedicine, but the Tibetans based medical principles on what we call quantum physics. There must be balance. And, matter is energy.

“The great fountain of youth is alive and well,” said Dr. Paz. 

Sharing Kirtan Practice — in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is  the go-to place for yogis. There are dedicated yoga centers popping up everywhere. Every day of the year, yogis flock here to get centered and grounded. Now, bhakta yogis can find their sangha and relish their kirtan practice in Costa Rica. 

Set in an eco-hotel by the University of Costa Rica, five kirtan leaders representing a good cross section of devotional music were on the stage at the second annual Kirtan Fest Costa Rica.  

Kirtan Artists Reflect Diversity

Camilo Poltronierialejandra late at Kirtan Fest Costa Rica, a one-man-orchestra, opened up the evening. A French musician living in Uvita, Costa Rica, he layered authentic tribal and traditional instruments with digital beats and electronic sounds of nature. Next was Radha Kanti Didi. A Costa Rican who leads kirtan all over the world,  she shared a traditional Vaishnava/Krishna set with two mridanga players, a huge pair of kartals and a mini gong.  Alejandra Ulate, dressed in Kundalini whites, provided balance to the ecstatic chanting. She played harmonium accompanied by a flute player. Alejandra combined traditional Sanskrit mantras with Spanish lyrics for her sing-a-longs. Ensamble Mantrika was next. A couple led call and response with their Latin folk styled ukeleles. 

Ensemble Mantrika at Kirtan Fest Costa Rica

Closing out the night were the co-organizers: Gabriel Wiernick on guitar, and Analú Fariña on harmonium. They led chants including Sa Ta Na Ma, Sita Ram, Saamba Sada Shiva and a Tibetan tune, Tayatha Om Bekandze.

After a spiritually charged five hours, attendees left filled with positive energy. Impacted. Sound body mind and soul. Regardless of their past experience, if any, with kirtan, they left feeling chill.

The Birth of Kirtan Fest Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Kirtan Fest was the brainchild of Ana Lucía Fariña. Founder of Pranaluz Conscious Living, she offers classes, workshops, coaching and retreats. Plus, conscious yoga travel vacations around the world. 

Analú as she’s known, had been involved with music festivals in other countries. Then, she was a kirtan leader at Bali Spirit Festival. In fact, she was living in Bali when she felt the time was right to share kirtan in Costa Rica, and build community. She couldn’t do it alone, or from Bali. So, she recruited Gabriel Wiernick in San Jose. 

Gabriel Wiernik at Kirtan Fest Costa Rica

A talented musician who studied at Berkeley Music School, Gabriel is also a yogi. He has a penchant for meditative and instrumental music, and kirtan.  As a composer and producer, he had worked with diverse yogis and Kirtanis. More importantly, says Analú, “He is passionate to share the gift of Kirtan to all.”

Analú also enlisted her brother, a sound and light technician, and other Costa Rican kirtan leaders.

Developing Her Own Kirtan Practice

Hailing from a family of musicians, Analú got the Kirtan bug early in her yogic life. Nontheless, she needed to nurture her kirtan practice.developing a kirtan practice

“Kirtan is my personal practice. If I could do one thing and live solely from that, it would be kirtan. For my final (teacher training) classes, I just felt all I really wanted to do was chant – not teach any asana. I feel each individual has a unique way to connect with divinity, mine is through a vibrational experience.” She explained, “I see and perceive life in vibrations. Everything is sound and light. Bhakti yoga for me is my practice from heart to heart, a vibrational therapy of love, and devotion. My intention is to be an instrument of service, and instrument of love. A channel to which people can experience and vibrate in the frequency of love, the frequency of divinity. This is Kirtan to me. I feel a deep calling to share it with others as well.”

While Analú was naturally drawn to kirtan, she sought to deepen her kirtan practice. “Fascinated by mantras and yoga chanting music, I would chant sometimes during my asana classes with guitar. I remember going to see Wah and Snatam Kaur. Tears were falling from my eyes from the love and devotion I experienced.  I remember asking them personally, ‘How did you start doing this?’”

In India, her Kirtan practice solidified. “At that point I fell in love with Bhakti. I didn’t play formally, but I remember living in Paris with no job nor work visa. I would sit on the streets along with other musicians and chant mantras.” She returned to India in 2015 to study and practice with teachers and kirtanis there. “When I moved to Bali in 2016, I became friends with a great kirtani there who invited me often to play in Ubud. Suddenly, it just started to flow from all my heart. Since then, I have been doing mostly full moon kirtans, every month. I include kirtan practice in classes, retreats and offer a strong emphasis of Bhakti during the yoga teacher trainings I offer.”  

Kirtan Practice Takes You Beyond Bodywork

altar at Kirtan fest Costa Rica“In the West, in general, yoga is seen as solely a physical practice, or an exercise to gain strength, become fit, or flexible. The full eight limbs of yoga are surely not always taught. Even solely in asana classes per se, I perceive definitely a strong emphasis on form and flexibility rather than understanding the pure intention of asana which according to Patanjali is to ‘cease the fluctuations of the mind’ and its biomechanics (the movement and intention of prana in the body). I know people are working towards meditation and mindfulness in Costa Rica. There are many teachers introducing it to students. Yet, I feel it is challenging to find teachers who embrace, teach and share the eight limbs of yoga. That is one of my personal missions.”

Precisely. That’s one of the beauties of kirtan practice. Attendees embrace the vibrations. The vocals. The instrumentals. There is no competition. As Radha Kanti Didi explained, it’s all about heartfelt joy, and love of the divine, through chanting.

Analú adds, “Everywhere I have been there is always a wide palate of yogis. Those who are just living spiritual materialism, those who dive deep into the studies, those who talk about it not walk, those pure and loving sharing from a place of heart.  That is the beauty of life: variety. Some students will resonate more with just asana, a specific practice, or a certain teacher. We have individual paths. One way or another, we will be where we have to be, learn what we have to learn, and evolve from where we are at that specific moment.”

Finally, Analú shares a special quote from Nicola Tesla. 

 If you wish to understand the universe, think of energy, frequency and vibration.

“This is Brahman. This is God. This is Energy. The ‘source.’  Kirtan is an instrument that allows us to not only feel or perceive, but experience this.  Experience God.”

Read more about kirtan and the power of sound

abhyanga: auto masaje ayurvedico

El Masaje Ayurvédico para Protejer tus Huesos

La Salud Ósea y el Masaje Ayurvédico

El cuidado de los huesos, y prevención de la osteoporosis no sólo se trata de levantar pesas u otros ejercicios en los que se carga el peso del cuerpo.  Hay un método ayurvédico que es sencillo, y una forma de mimarse o cuidarte de ti mismo. Se lo puede llamar champi, sneha o abhyanga. Son costumbres tradicionales de masaje a la cabeza, articulaciones o todo el cuerpo. Próximamente, impartiré un taller con una práctica del auto masaje ayurvédico, abhyanga.  Se llevará a cabo a las 13h el 24 de noviembre en Sueños de Maya, San José, Costa Rica.

Tres formas de masaje ayurvédico

abhyanga: auto masaje ayurvedico con aceitesNo importa la palabra, champi, sneha o abhyanga, cada uno es un tratamiento de la medicina tradicional de la India.

  • La palabra champi significa frote o fricción. El libro “Masaje Champi” explica que “este masaje ha evolucionado a partir de las costumbres ancestrales que forman parte de los rituales del cuidado integral en la vida familiar de la India, siendo una de las tradiciones más arraigadas dentro de esta cultura.” Si la palabra sánscrito champi  te suena, es por que la referencia al masaje a la cabeza dio paso a la palabra champú. 
  • Sneha, significa ambos aceite, y amor, en sánscrito. Laura Plumb, autora de un libro de cocina ayurvédica, y anfitriona de un programa de televisión acerca de los vedas explica, “después de los años 40, es oleación, oleación y oleación.” 
  • Abhyanga refiere al auto masaje al cuerpo, especialmente a las articulaciones. La práctica de abhyanga normalmente utiliza aceite de coco o ajonjolí, a menos que tu constitución (dosha) indica un masaje con pólvora como trífala.  Según Laura Plumb, el ajonjolí es alto en antioxidantes y es un anti-inflamatorio. También es recomendable para los de la dosha vata, o en el invierno.

La relación entre el masaje ayurvédico y los huesos

abhyanga: auto masaje ayurvedico para la salud ósea“Masaje Champi” nota que el masaje limpia el sistema linfático para así deshacerse de las toxinas presentes en nuestro organismo. Además:

  • “Estimula el sistema parasimpático: facilitando el descanso corporal e incentivando la relajación y el sueño. 
  • Aumenta el flujo sanguíneo de la cabeza, el cuello y los hombros: favoreciendo la nutrición de los tejidos y la oxigenación a través de la circulación arterial, y contribuyendo a la eliminación de toxinas por vía venosa.
  • Libera los espasmos y las adhesiones en las fibras musculares: calmando las molestias y mejorando la capacidad de movilidad articular.
  • Disminuye la inflamación de los tejidos: aliviando el dolor y reduciendo la sobrecarga en huesos y articulaciones.”

Hay otro beneficio del champi. 

La terapia que yo ejerzo combina mucho la medicina tradicional china y el Ayurveda. Conociendo los puntos claves de la acupresión (estilo chino) se puede hacer un roce o presión suave con los dígitos o las yemas en los puntos apropiados para estimular los meridianos (canales energéticos o nadis en sánscrito) y sus órganos conectados. Por ejemplo, en mi estilo de yin yoga, miramos a los meridianos del riñón y la vesícula para tratar desequilibrios que puedan contribuir a la artritis o la ciática, entre otras enfermedades.   

Contrarrestando la vejez—empezando con los huesos

abhyanga: auto masaje ayurvedico El reconocido médico Deepak Chopra, en su libro “Grow Younger, Live Longer,” hace énfasis de lo dañino de las toxinas ambientales. “Puedes revertir tu edad biológica eliminando las toxinas de tu vida.”

Chopra, quien aprecia ambos la medicina alopática como el Ayurveda, informa: “Cada impulso de la vida se puede considerar en términos de si trae alimento o toxicidad. Los científicos ahora entienden que el daño tóxico a las células y tejidos es la consecuencia de los radicales libres que se forman cada vez que se metaboliza el oxígeno. Estos químicos hambrientos son indiscriminados sobre cómo reemplazan su electrón de misión, y eliminarán uno de cualquier fuente cercana, incluidas las proteínas, las grasas o las moléculas de ADN.

Explica Chopra que entre las enfermedades más comunes que se puede atribuir, en alguna parte, a las toxinas radicales libres son: el cáncer, enfermedades cardíacas, la diabetes, la artritis y la osteoporosis. Para minimizar el contacto con los radicales libres y así proteger los huesos y articulaciones, hay que evitar el tabaco, alcohol, comidas fermentadas o los productos añejos, las carnes ahumadas o cocinadas al carbón, demasiados aceites saturados o hidrogenados, y el estrés. Otras toxinas fuertes, dice Chopra, son la quimioterapia y la radiación. 

De igual manera, se puede hacer una limpiecita de las toxinas agregando antioxidantes a tu dieta. Por ejemplo: comidas con alto contenido de las vitaminas A, C y E, mas frutas y legumbres frescos, granos, legumes y nueces. Además, como se sugiere la medicina Ayurveda, hay que agregar muchas especias a su comida. Las que contienen más antioxidantes son la menta, jengibre, ajo, eneldo, semillas de cilantro, el tomillo, hinojo y la hierba salvia. Finalmente, Chopra recomienda la meditación pare reducir el estrés, y se entiende que el masaje brinde el mismo efecto. 

Algunas técnicas del masaje ayurvédico

kidney massageConsta que hay diferentes formas del masaje ayurvédico. En la mía, fijamos mucha atención a las articulaciones.  El libro “Masaje Champi” detalla algunas técnicas para los hombros y escapulares en particular.

  • Fricción palmar circular en los hombros: hazlo vigorosamente y con ritmo, ejerciendo una presión suave
  • Presión dígito-pulgar en los brazos: En cada una de las presiones, suelta el aire y libera la tensión; mantén cada una de las presiones entre 5-10 segundos
  • Fricción palmar en los brazos
  • Presión dígito-pulgar en los hombros
  • Roce palmar desde hombros hacia las manos
  • Fricción palmar desde hombros hacia los codos
  • Presión con antebrazos en los hombros
  • Presión con pulgares en los hombros
  • Percusión cubital sobre la cima de los trapecios
  • Presión con pulgares sobre los puntos sensibles en el trapecio
  • Deslizamiento palmo-digital en el trapecio
  • Presión con pulgar en el reborde inter-escapular
  • Presión con canto de la mano inter-escapular 
  • Deslizamiento palmo-digital inter-escapular, y en la escápula: 10 veces, subiendo y bajando, o en moción horizontal

Lee acerca del yoga y la artritis. Para participar en el próximo taller, o para concertar uno en tu comunidad, comunícate con The Namaste Counsel.   

Esther Vexler, San Antonio's Yoga Godmother

Yogaterapia para Huesos Saludables

En una publicación anterior compartí una experiencia personal que me llevó a una exploración sin fin: Yogaterapia para Huesos Saludables y la fuente de la juventud. Mi brújula me apuntó a un sinfín de libros, talleres y charlas. Entonces, ahora les paso mis trucos favoritos a mis estudiantes a través de una serie de talleres de Yogaterapia para Huesos Saludables. Es decir, la osteoporosis, la osteoartritis y la salud ósea en general. Lo llamo Dem Bones (Esos Huesos Saludables). La serie no se basa en las afirmaciones imposibles, sino en la investigación y el conocimiento de muchos terapeutas de yoga, muchos de los cuales son médicos.

Mi primera sesión de Esos Huesos Saludables fue en México, hace unos años. Mi próxima sesión sobre los huesos saludables es el 24 de noviembre en Sueños de Maya en San José, Costa Rica. Para registrarte en la sesión de noviembre, o para reservar sesiones privadas o talleres grupales, conéctate conmigo.

mantenerse joven con el movimiento y el yogaDem Bones (Esos Huesos Saludables)

Tendemos a pensar que es normal que nuestros huesos soporten el impacto del tiempo. Casi todos hemos visto los efectos de los años avanzados en los huesos. Una joroba de viuda. O, el abuelo que ya no es tan alto como solía ser. Dios no lo quiera que una persona mayor resbale y se caiga, ya que las articulaciones frágiles no pueden manejar lo que solían ser choques o golpes normales. Los reemplazos de cadera y rodilla le costaron a Medicare USD$7 mil millones en 2013. Con nuestras poblaciones envejeciendo, una dieta y un estilo de vida pobres, los costos para nuestra sociedad se dispararán si no somos proactivos en la protección de la salud ósea.

Los Huesos Son Preciados

Como una hebra de perlas o cuentas mala conectadas entre sí por hilos finos pero fuertes.

La enfermedad ósea degenerativa no suena tan aterradora como una fractura de cadera. Pero, eche un vistazo a las estadísticas.

  • Los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades de los Estados Unidos informan que entre los estadounidenses de 65 años o más, a la mitad se le ha diagnosticado artritis. Y, dos de cada tres personas que son obesas son propensas a desarrollar artritis en una o ambas rodillas.
  • Según la Fundación Internacional de Osteoporosis, desde 1990 hasta las proyecciones en 2050, el número de fracturas de cadera en mujeres y hombres de 50 a 64 años en América Latina aumentará en un 400%. Para grupos de edad mayores de 65 años, el aumento será de un asombroso 700%. Además, un estudio en Bogotá, Colombia, informó que entre un grupo de mujeres mayores de 50 años, casi la mitad tenía osteopenia (densidad ósea inferior a la normal) en la columna vertebral y la cadera.

“El yoga es útil para abordar los problemas agudos de la hinchazón y el dolor, y los problemas a largo plazo para mejorar la movilidad, la fuerza y la estabilidad de las articulaciones de la rodilla”, dice el Dr. Bell, refiriéndose a la artritis.

Yoga y Envejecimiento Saludable

Bell dirigió un taller sobre Yoga y Envejecimiento Saludable en un simposio al que asistí de la Asociación Internacional de Terapeutas de Yoga (IAYT, por su acrónimo en Inglés). Sin embargo, no es tu médico típico. Renunció a una exitosa práctica médica familiar en Ohio para convertirse en un terapeuta de yoga. Hoy en día, integra las aplicaciones terapéuticas del yoga con la medicina occidental y da conferencias a profesionales de la salud en todo el país.

Bell comparó al yoga como “herramientas para fomentar una vida saludable más larga”, y salud física mejorada. Dijo que el yoga fomenta la ecuanimidad, la agilidad, la coordinación y es ampliamente reconocido que reduce el estrés. El estrés no se puede ignorar, ya que es un disparador importante de las enfermedades del corazón, la presión arterial alta e incluso la artritis.

Cuando somos jóvenes, casi todos nosotros damos por supuesto el hecho de tender cuerpos saludables. Podemos estirarnos para alcanzar un estante alto, o agacharnos para sacar algo de debajo de la cama. Podemos dar vueltas en nuestro auto para revisar a los niños, y no tener problemas para levantar a los bebés y cargarlos a cuestas. No solo podemos pasear al perro, sino jugar con él. En resumen, la mayoría tienen una excelente movilidad.

A medida que envejecemos, si no nos mantenemos al día con estilos de vida saludables, nuestros cuerpos parecen traicionarnos. Nuestros músculos se encogen y pierden masa, lo que afecta la flexibilidad. Nuestros tejidos blandos se secan y se ponen rígidos. Los cojines de cartílago se descomponen dando lugar a articulaciones artríticas. Es como un círculo vicioso. Entonces, perdemos fuerza, flexibilidad, equilibrio y movilidad. Todos estos están interrelacionados.

“Necesitamos fuerza para mantenernos activos”, dice. Da ejemplos de cómo algunos medicamentos administrados habitualmente para pacientes con osteoporosis traen inconvenientes.

Practica Yoga Para Huesos Saludables

yoga para huesos saludables

El programa de Guardia de la Salud de las Mujeres de Harvard informa que existen varios peligros asociados con el uso prolongado de productos farmacéuticos. Recomiendan, “no tome Fosamax a menos que esté seguro de que lo necesita. Continúe con todas las otras medidas que ayudan a proteger y mantener la densidad ósea”, incluidos el calcio, la vitamina D y el ejercicio con pesas.

Presentando, el yoga. Y mi forma favorita, afuera, al sol. Tomando el prana (incluyendo la vitamina D).

Una vez que la galleta se desmorona, es demasiado tarde. Es por eso que el yoga es una excelente medicina preventiva. Baxter Bell, MD, recomienda “una práctica de yoga equilibrada (que) incluye desafíos de estiramiento, fortalecimiento, equilibrio y agilidad, y posturas y prácticas anti estrés.

Bell también habló sobre la sarcopenia, una pérdida gradual de la fuerza muscular que se observa con mayor frecuencia entre las personas mayores de 50 años. Según WebMD, “las personas que están físicamente inactivas pueden perder entre un 3 y un 5 por ciento de su masa muscular por década después de los 30 años de edad ”. Además de que el yoga mantiene tu cuerpo en movimiento, la salud de tus músculos está directamente relacionada con la salud de tus huesos. Bell habla sobre cómo podemos influir en nuestro bienestar futuro mediante la recuperación de la fuerza muscular.

Bell explica por qué el yoga construye los huesos. Durante el yoga, el fortalecimiento de los huesos comienza en solo 10 segundos de mantener una posición. Cuanto más fuertes son los músculos alrededor de las articulaciones, más los protege su cuerpo.

Los músculos comienzan a construirse después de sólo 90 segundos en muchas posturas de yoga, explica Bell. Toma las poses del guerrero por ejemplo. Mantener la postura durante al menos seis respiraciones largas, puede ser agotador, pero vale la pena, tanto para los músculos como para los huesos. Algunos maestros de yoga alientan a los estudiantes a juntar los muslos con energía, la barriga a la columna, o activar los bandhas. Esos son ejemplos de contracciones isométricas que contribuyen a construir más fuerza y, en última instancia, nutrir los huesos. Sin ellos, perdemos nuestra independencia, y luego nuestro orgullo, alegría e incluso el cuidado personal y la depresión. Es una bola de nieve.

Asanas para Huesos Saludables

viparita karani supported legs up wallBell dice que algunas de las herramientas de salud físicas tanto para el cuerpo como el cerebro son poses de fortalecimiento como el perro para abajo o el guerrero 2. Las prácticas que se enfocan en la flexibilidad como el gomukhasana (cara de vaca) también son esenciales para una fórmula saludable de envejecimiento.

Otra herramienta es una rutina de ejercicios que promuevan la circulación. Acostarse con las piernas sobre la pared es siempre un favorito, y el trabajo de respiración es una adición importante a esa caja de herramientas. Sabemos que a medida que las personas envejecen, tienen más dificultades con el equilibrio, por lo que las posturas como el árbol pueden, en última instancia, ayudar a prevenir caídas que, a su vez, pueden dar lugar a fracturas.

Las fracturas conducen al dolor crónico, pueden ser debilitantes, causar angustia emocional y una mayor degeneración muscular. Finalmente, Bell apunta a estudios de personas que han vivido hasta una edad avanzada que muestran que la comunidad es un factor importante en el envejecimiento saludable. “Practicar yoga juntos ayuda a crear una comunidad”, dice Bell.

Para huesos saludables, recuérdate que al igual que el hueso del tobillo está conectado al hueso de la rodilla, los músculos se conectan a los huesos, a través de la fascia y los ligamentos. La salud de nuestros huesos está relacionada con la salud de nuestros músculos, y también nuestras emociones, el corazón y otros órganos principales.

 

 

Girish and heart rate variability

Heart Rate Variability: Chant From the Heart, For the Heart

Bhakti Fest is considered the ultimate playground for yogis. In particular, for bhaktas (devotional yogis). While Bhakti Fest 2018’s Joshua Tree desert playground may span 385 acres, this year I was attracted to a tiny outdoor classroom next to a small artificial pond. Sitting on the sandy ground, or perched at the rim of the pond, a variety of singers, drummers and musicians shared knowledge and tips about their practices. Of note, chanting improves heart rate variability. in other words, chant from your heart, and you’ll be chanting  FOR your heart, and general well being. 

Bhakti Fest’s Kirtan School spanned only four days, with two two-hour sessions daily. Each class had a different lead teacher for a great potpourri of kirtan key take aways. 

As Gina Salá, one of the teachers said, “So many mantras. So much wisdom.” I’d add, So many artists.  So much devotion. For the culmination of so much sangha (association/unity) of sound. 

Your Divine Voice  

Gina Sala at Bhakti Fest

Gina Sala at Bhakti Fest 2018

In a previous article of mine, Gina Salá spoke about music and devotion. A take away was that every voice is divine. Perfect.

Similiarly, in Girish’s Kirtan Class at Bhakti Fest 2018, he said, “There’s never been another voice like yours. The voice is expressing who we are. Free the voice. Free the person. Your personal growth and evolution is inseparable from your voice.”

To me, Gina and Girish have incredible voices. They hit a sweet spot in my heart. Yet, Girish considers himself a drummer. And, most drummers don’t sing. He focused on chanting during his five years as a monk living in an ashram.  “It’s not about the artistry of music. It doesn’t matter how it sounds.” He emphasized, “It’s your call to your creator.”

Most noteworthy, Girish spoke of the science behind chanting. There is clear data to attest to the benefits of singing kirtan or chanting in groups, in particular. 

Chanting for the Heart: About Heart Rate Variability  

In fact, a recent study completed by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden noted that those who sang together had synchronized heartbeats. The head researcher explained that singing is a form of controlled breathing, not unlike yogic breathwork which leads to many benefits, including lung capacity and heart health.  

Furthermore, Girish said, “When we sing in a group, our brain waves start to sync up. And heart beats too.” He talks about the phenomena called heart brain coherence, which has been investigated by the HeartMath Institute in California, and heart rate variability (HRV).  

Girish at Kirtan Class, Bhakti Fest, speaks on heart rate variability

Girish at Kirtan Class, Bhakti Fest 2018

Harvard Health Blog contributor, Marcelo Campos, MD, explains the importance of heart rate variability. “HRV is simply a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat. Over the past few decades, research has shown a relationship between low HRV and worsening depression or anxiety. A low HRV is even associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease. It is fascinating to see how HRV changes as you incorporate more mindfulness, meditation, sleep, and especially physical activity into your life.”

“We want a more adaptable heart rhythm,” added Girish, “as HRV is a biomarker of human health. One fantastic way to increase our HRV levels — and thus our overall health and resiliency — is to sing. And, in fact, chanting mantras increases HRV levels better than any other types of singing.”  Again, Girish has scientific research to back this up. He explains that when you chant mantras, you follow a particular breathing pattern as referenced in the Swedish study. Clearly, the breathwork associated with Tibetan monks is far from that of acid rock. 

However, Girish pointed to research comparing traditional chants from diverse religions and cultures such as Ave Maria and Om Mani Padme Om.  “All have the same breathing patterns. It’s an amazing effect. These practices activate the parasympathetic system.”

Chanting in Any Language, From the Heart

So, you don’t have to be a bhakta yogi.  As Girish jokingly said, believe it or not, “There are people out there who have never done kirtan … or yoga … or worn Lululemon.  It’s not just the yogis. All the world’s spiritual traditions are doing some kind of mantra.  So that tells me that it works.” 

While there’s plenty of evidence-based insights as to why it works, when you look at a toddler or child singing a nursery rhyme, it’s pretty obvious. Singing, especially repetitive sounds, makes us feel good.

“The primal human instrument is the voice. You don’t have to go to a music school to find out where a middle C is,” said Girish. 

Shiva Rae at Bhakti Fest

Shiva Rae at Bhakti Fest 2018

Shiva Rae, also at Bhakti Fest 2018, told an intimate gathering of women there, “Your first mantra was in your mother’s womb (her hearbeat).” And, in many cultures, the drum represents the heart beat. 

For the Mayapuris, the drum represents the sacred, too. In their Kirtan Class, the close-knit bhaktas from Florida explained the essence of the primal beats and their beloved mridanga. 

“The drum is a manifestation of Balaram (Krishna’s brother). Sound vibration itself represents the lord. When we use our instruments in Kirtan we are dressing (up) the holy name, and the instruments are the decoration to attract us. The more that we offer our love, the more we will feel the syncopation,” they said.  

“Something that runs through every culture is rhythm. Every tradition in every era on every continent has some form of collective singing, because it just pierces so clearly. These instruments are a vehicle.”

Chant the Holy Name

Mayapuris at Bhakti Fest 2018

Mayapuris at Bhakti Fest 2018

However, the Mayapuris aren’t saying you can chant mumbo jumbo. “If you were to repeat Coca Cola or water water it’s not going to quench your thirst. When we repeat the names (of the lord) it’s ever-present. It just gets sweeter and sweeter, and more ecstatic. Kirtan is the absolute platform.”

The Mayapuris are Vaishnavas. For them, the names of Krishna and Radhe, among others, are supreme. “In our tradition, we say the name of the Lord until our voice chokes up. Spiritual life starts at the mode of goodness. With that vision, it’s easier to attain that realization. Kirtan is like a shortcut. We’re not worrying about someone’s culture, politics or religion. Kirtan, and in particular collective sangha. You get a little shortcut, like a machete cutting through. And, it’s accessible to everybody.” 

“The first thing the chanting does is dust the mirror of maya (illusion). We just get so consumed and then we’re trapped. The things that get in our way, in our material brains, get pushed aside (with chanting). For this modern age, the scriptures say Kirtan is the dharma.” 

In other words, just as Gina Salá and Girish say that everyone’s voice is divine, the Mayapuris say, “Anyone can take part and start to feel divinity.” 

Bhagavan Das and his ektar at Bhakti Fest 2018

Bhagavan Das: From High Desert to Dallas — on the 33rd parallel

No Ordinary Senior Citizen

Bhagavan Das and his ektar at Bhakti Fest 2018Bhagavan Das left the United States in 1968. At the age of 18, he headed east. To India. Tibet. Nepal. With no money. He adhered to the customs of the elder yogis. A renunciate. An ascetic, or sadhu. After seven years, he returned to the States. But not to the lifestyle of the ordinary American.  

He introduced a friend to one of his gurus, Neem Karoli Baba. That friend is now known as Ram Dass, author of “Be Here Now.” Bhagavan Das authored his own book, “It’s Here Now (Are You?)”, but is better known for his music. In each of his CDs, his chanting is almost spellbinding. Rather drone-like, his concentration on the mantras or prayers is as solid as the Tibetan monks with whom he was guided many years ago.

Today, he doesn’t look like your card carrying AARP man. No Bermuda shorts. He walks barefoot, rather than gym shoes and calf-high socks. Nor does he sport a golf shirt. Rather, he wraps a long white robe around his 6’5” lean body. Yes, he has the grey hairs and receding hairline. But, his white beard reaches almost to his belly. Trailing from the back of his head is  one grayish-brown dreadlock that extends to his upper thighs. Sometimes, he wraps the dread around his head turban-like. 

In his white robe, he looks a bit like what you’d expect an aging Moses to look like. Weathered. Coming down from the mountains. Yes, weathered but wise. 

His music is mesmerizing. Usually, he belts out verse in Sanskrit. At times, he interposes English. One hand is glued to his one-stringed ektara. His deep booming voice resonates well with the sitar, and other instruments from the Indo-Pakistani region.

Ricky Tran, a yogi from Dallas agrees. “There is definitely something different about  Bhagavan Das’ chanting. He enters a trance during his performances, and I can feel the dissolution into the Divine. I have never experienced anything like it.” 

Bhagavan Das at Bhakti Fest’s 10th Anniversary 

Bhagavan Das and his ektar at Bhakti Fest 2018Bhagavan Das’ spoken messages are sparse, but have maximum impact. 

“When the earth had been completely taken over,” he tells a crowded sanctuary room of Bhakti Fest attendees between chants, “… very little dharma was left … Everyone was lost. On the cell phone. Everyone was on e-bay. On YouTube. Lost in the glamour.”  

Next, he continues his story about the sages who formed a circle around the earth. The goddess Durga, who takes away the darkness was coming to the rescue. She was trying to slay the dragon. But alas, every time she struck to whack off the head of the dragon, another head would arise while blood was spurting all over. 

“This is the great ego,” explains Bhagavan Das.  “I. Me. Mine. The self-serving. Self-possessed. Narcissistic.” In the end, fortunately, for mankind, the great goddess, “Maha Kali licked up the blood saving the world from the great ego.”

It had been many years since Bhagavan Das graced the stage there. He was at the first Joshua Tree mega-yoga/music festival, ten years ago. While some kirtan artists live on the road, like vagabond musicians, performing at yoga studios and festivals across the country, and even overseas, that’s not Bhagavan Das’ gig any more. So Bhakti Fest 2018 attendees were in for a real treat this last September as one of the earliest American kirtaneers shared his music, and his wisdom. 

Bhagavan Das at Bhakti Fest

“We live in a dream within a dream,” he said last month in the Joshua Tree desert. “Wake up before you die. Ram (the supreme) is the fire that burns away desire, transforming it into pure love.”

In an interview more than a decade ago with “Time Out New York,” Bhagavan Das explained why people feel so great after sharing kirtan with him. 

“‘Cause when we’re all together in a room and we’re all chanting and we’re all breathing together, it’s like we become this huge deity of breath and now we have a thousand arms and legs and a thousand heads and everyone’s in the same breath.”

Bhagavan Das Heads to Dallas

Now, Texans will be in for a treat as the master Bhakta offers a weekend retreat October 19-21 at Ecstatic Dance Dallas. Ricky Tran will host, and lead yoga workshops. “This is a rare opportunity to study with Bhagavan Das, as he seldomly offers this full weekend retreat,” says Tran. 

Interestingly enough, both Joshua Tree and Dallas are on the mysterious 33rd parallel. Joshua Tree, on the 33rd North Parallel, was once sacred Indian grounds, and still carries much of the sacred feelings. And Dallas? Well, the micro-chip was invented here. But, it’s also Tran’s home, and he’s a wonderful teacher.  So, this weekend in Dallas should be very memorable.

 

Austin Free Day of Yoga

Austin FREE DAY OF YOGA Extends To Wimberley

Austin’s Free Day of Yoga: 20th Anniversary

Austin Free Day of Yoga

For the 20th year, yogis are uniting to bring Austin and neighboring communities free yoga on Labor Day, to heighten awareness of the benefits of yoga. Free Day of Yoga is an outstanding opportunity to meet different instructors, and experience different styles of of mind/body practices. I’ve been headed to Austin for many years to get a yoga recharge on Labor Day. Now, I’m inviting people to my new digs and Hill Country hood. 

This year, as part of Austin’s Free Day of Yoga, two of my fellow mind/body practitioners and I  are offering eight different sessions in Wimberley. Wimberley classes run from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday, September 3. Michael Uzuanis and Brenda Bell are fabulous instructors who will each lead two sessions at Balance Academy, as will I. Balance Academy, on Ranch Road 12, is a spacious zen-like incense-infused studio set on five acres. Additionally, I’ve offer therapeutic Gutsy Yoga, twice, at The Namaste Getaway, less than 10 minutes from Balance Academy.

Our Wimberley Free Day of Yoga selections focus on bringing balance to your body and mind. Choose from Korean Ki meditation, Yoga in Motion combining Tai Chi, Xi Gong and Yoga, Yin Yoga and a Slow Flow gentle vinyasa at Balance Academy. As such, the therapeutic sessions focusing on internal balance for better digestion, metabolism and blood sugar levels.   

Try One, or Fill Your Day

Free day of yoga in WimberleyAustin Free Day of Yoga organizer, Mary Esther Middleton, encourages people to sample.  “Because we offer such a wide variety of yoga teachers, styles and classes on Free Day of Yoga, there is a class for everyone – whether you are tall, short, round, thin, physically active or sedentary.” 

Therefore, browse Free Day of Yoga classes Check out our Wimberley area sessions (see flyer).  Or, better yet, call (512) 436-2048 or (210) 381-1846 to reserve your spot. 

Tips:

  • First, reserve your space at balance.academy to ensure your place. Or, arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Second, bring a yoga mat and/or cushions, blocks or bolsters. If you don’t have any, loaners will be available.
  • Third, while in Wimberley, cool off at The Blue Hole or Jacob’s Well (reservations required).
  • Afterwords, enjoy food and drink at The Junction, just past Balance Academy.

About Free Day of Yoga

A non-profit corporation, Free Day of Yoga Austin is dedicated to providing the gift of yoga to the community. The organization helps to educate the community about the health and wellness benefits of yoga through interactive, participatory and educational events in the Austin area.  As such, Free Day of Yoga Austin offers annual events at no charge to those attending. 

 

BhaktiFest

Bhakti Fest: 10 Years of Woodstock for Spirituality

The Birth of Bhakti Fest: Spirituality at Woodstock  

It was 1969. There were 500,000 gathered in Woodstock as Sri Swami Satchidananda gave opening remarks and prayers. “America is helping everybody in the material field, but the time has come for America to help the whole world with spirituality also.”

spirituality at Bhakti Fest 2018Swami Satchidananda’s inclusion at Woodstock was the brainchild of Sridhar Silberfein, who suggested spirituality was missing from the original Woodstock lineup. He also suggested taking this concept a bit further. Why couldn’t spirituality be the focus for a mass festival? The Swami agreed, and Sridhar recognized he had to make it happen. 

After raising four children, establishing the first natural foods store in the LA area, and making tea tree oil commonplace in the States, Sridhar set out to design a Woodstock for Yogis. He created a spirituality-based festival where the focus was chanting the names of the divine, and bringing higher consciousness to the masses. 

In 2009, Sridhar opened the gates to the Joshua Tree Retreat Center for the first Bhakti Fest. This September 12-17, two of the artists that have graced the festival each year, are once again taking center stage.   

Jai at Bhakti Fest 2018

Jai UttalJai Uttal: 10 years at Bhakti Fest had been leading weeklong Kirtan Camps for six years when Sridhar first told him about his idea for Bhakti Fest. The musician with a traditional rock background, infused with Indian and Brazilian instruments and beats said, “Yes, it’s the perfect time!”

For those unfamiliar with Bhakti (devotion) and kirtan (devotional chanting), Jai tells why it’s such a powerful practice. “These ancient chants contain a transformative power and healing energy. By singing these prayers we join a stream of consciousness and devotion that has been flowing for centuries.”

Jai, who has been singing kirtan for many decades, felt his students were longing for a bigger-scale gathering full of spirituality and sacred chants.  

“The community of ‘devotees’ has grown and expanded like ripples in a lake. The more we toss in our tiny pebbles of love, the greater are the waves of compassion and caring.”

This year, as in all the prior years, Jai will be a prime time performer on the main stage. Additionally, his yogi/dancer wife, Nubia Teixeira, will lead four different workshops including a session to empower women to heal the world. Like Jai, Nubia has been following the path of yoga and spirituality for 30 years. 

Jai always gives a great show, with his high energy, and deep devotion.  Read about one of Jai’s past special events in Austin. 

Spirituality Awakens for Donna De Lory

Donna De Lory’s blend of world music, mantras and electronica has been a favorite at Bhakti Fest, since 2009. She made her way to the first Bhakti celebration, after touring the world for 20 years as a singer and dancer with Madonna.  

Donna De Lory at Bhakti Fest for 10 yearsA Valley girl, her mom died of breast cancer when she was just 16. That event reshaped her life in many ways. She moved south to live with her dad, a Latin band leader who was into health foods and Eastern religions. She took up meditation, and worked at a vegetarian restaurant. She read a book by OSHO, and made gospel music. All in the land of country music. Nashville, Tennessee.

As a young adult, she moved back to LA, and eventually landed what many would have considered the ultimate job. Part of Madonna’s crew.  Throughout those years, the sacred vibes and sounds of devotional music never escaped her. About the time that the west coast yoga culture was taking off, she had two children, left the “Material Girl” circuit, and recorded her first yoga CD, “The Lover and The Beloved.” 

The arrival of her children, and Bhakti Fest, cemented her true desire to do her own style of world/sacred music. 

“I realized I have to do my own music. What am I about, and where’s my devotion?” Her fellow Bhakti musicians, Girish and David Newman, helped to bring her to “a place where all these loose ends came together.  We all felt we were part of a movement…like Woodstock…of people wanting to come together and expand their consciousness and go deeper within.”

Joy-Filled Participatory Fans

Donna said goodbye to the “Material Girl” and hello to “Bliss” and “Sanctuary.”  But they weren’t two completely different worlds.

“It is a community. People were so joy-filled. They never stopped smiling. I felt like I was down with the people,” she says about the Madonna days. “I learned the value of that touring with Madonna. I’d go out in front of the hotels and talk to people.” Same for Bhakti Fest.

Furthermore, the Madonna fans knew all the lyrics of her songs, and would sing along “…to the point that we couldn’t hear ourselves.” Again, same for Bhakti Fest.

Collaboration at Bhakti Fest

spirituality at Bhakti Fest 2018

From that original Bhakti Fest, collaboration abounded, Donna explains. “The artists were all one big tribe.” The musicians are almost like mix-and-match. On stage in many configurations.

“There’a a lot of integration of styles,” explains Donna. “The artists and teachers have been given space to blossom in what they offer.” For example, MC Yogi does hip hop. Sean Johnson’s style is NOLA infused. The Mayapuris perform traditional Indian ragas, samba and spirituals. 

Donna sings in English, Sanskrit, and Spanish. Often mixing one to another, just as she did with Madonna on La Isla Bonita. A professional singer and dancer, everyone who hears her can channel some of that. “No matter how much I may be in an introspective place, it just goes there. You just see it. People want to dance, and sing together. It’s in our DNA. To have this celebration, together.”

spirituality at Bhakti Fest 2018People connect with each other, and with Joshua Tree. “It’s the nature. Community. Expansiveness. Especially in today’s world. It’s a place that allows you to just be who you are, and not be judged,” explains Donna. 

Now, to amp up that collaboration and closeness between artist and attendee, Bhakti Fest 2018  includes a Mantra Dome, for a more intimate gathering to chant sacred mantras.

“Bhakti Fest was so rooted in the devotion. People feel free to let go and show their devotion. These festivals are allowing you that.”

yoga for body/mind harmony

Yoga’s Mental Health Benefits

Guest Blogger, Meera Watts, shares her list of yoga’s mental health benefits. 

If you think yoga is all about getting fit and toned muscles, it’s probably the right time to get the facts straight. Most people who engage in yoga aren’t really after the physical benefits of the practice. A lot of them are actually looking for a way to reduce their stress, anxiety, depression, and mood. And if you’re still in doubt about that, here’s a list of yoga’s mental health benefits to convince you.

Eight Examples of Yoga’s Mental Health Benefits

yoga helps concentration1. It improves concentration

With each yoga pose you do, you’re improving your brain function by training your mind to focus and concentrate. The practice stimulates both your nervous system and brain so you can process information faster and more efficiently.

2. It makes you more mindful

Yoga is all about what’s happening in the present. It teaches you to be more connected with your body and what it’s currently experiencing. It syncs your emotions so you can have better social relationships and connection with your mind. Once you are able to achieve those things, you’ll be able to focus on the present without being judgemental.

3. It eases depression

Yoga has a unique way of lowering the level of depression in a person. One way it’s able to do that is by increasing the production and release of certain happy hormones in the body while lowering specific stress hormones.

4. It makes you sleep better

Having a hard time falling and staying asleep can be troublesome. It can affect your productivity, mood, appetite, concentration, and problem-solving skills.

By reducing stress and encouraging relaxation, yoga can help address certain sleep disorders such as insomnia. It can make you feel well-rested and energized that you won’t have a hard time powering through your day.

Take note, however, that although yoga can help you get better sleep, you should also consider what you eat, drink, and do before you get to bed. For example, drinking caffeinated drinks and doing really heavy exercises a few minutes or hours before bedtime can make it hard for you to get to sleep. 

yoga helps concentration5. It enhances your decision-making skills

When your mind is cloudy and you’re having a hard time thinking straight, coming up with a good decision won’t be easy. In fact, you can end up making the wrong move if you force yourself.

Yoga strengthens the part of your brain responsible for making decisions. It improves your brain’s clarity so you’ll have a better ability to deal with situations and decide properly.

6. It lessens the effects of traumatic experiences

People who develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorders typically have flashbacks and nightmares that can negatively affect their lives. While there are medications and treatments that can help address such mental health issue, yoga is proven to be as effective and safer in reducing PTSD symptoms. It requires no strong medications that can harm the body eventually.

Yoga’s Mental Health Benefits are Preventative, too

yoga helps concentration

7. It delays the onset of mental health problems

Yoga is seen as an effective approach for enhancing breathing, promoting relaxation and meditation, improving moods, and controlling anger. These things play a huge role in making the mind stronger and more resilient to psychological conditions, particularly among teenagers.

8. It reduces the risk for migraines

Yoga is known for its ability to reduce pain and promote comfort. With specific yoga poses, it can also prevent or alleviate migraine and headaches. Yoga can restore the balance in your autonomic nervous system and circulatory system which can reduce your likelihood of going through another migraine episode.

Summing Up Yoga’s Mental Health Benefits

While effective, yoga doesn’t really work like magic. It won’t give you results overnight.

For you to experience all those mental benefits, you need to be consistent and dedicated to incorporating yoga into your daily routine. You don’t necessarily have to spend hours performing poses after poses. A few minutes each day can be enough to create positive changes in your mental well-being.

About the Author

Meera Watts‘ has written articles on yoga and holistic health for Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Additionally, Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India and Indonesia.

Intention Attracts Divine Energy: Shakti at The Western Wall

The Western Waldivine energy at the Western Wall in Jerusaleml is considered one of the holiest places. It attracts people from all over the world, of different faiths, to pray here. During my first visit, the meaning and history behind the stones and traditions didn’t really resonate. My second trip was not the same. The divine energy was visible and palpable. I attribute the difference to many things. In part, I was in a different place in my life, and spiritual path.  

A few months ago, I watched hundreds of women* filled with their own divine energy (shakti). They purposefully approached the wall. Fingers touched and caressed the wall. The ladies reflected all ages, religions, races, and corners of the world. With great intent, connected to divine energy, they found a space for their carefully written prayers to be sent to heaven.  

Whether it was my personal prayer, intuition, current events, or the shirts worn by dozens of Brazilian Christians, I felt we were all one. Joining in prayer for world peace. Peace for Jerusalem. An end to conflicts.

After their time directly at the wall, the women slowly placed one foot behind the other, maintaining their hearts and eyes facing the divine energy at the wall**. Rows of females continued their reflections, sitting facing the sacred stones. Others entered a covered prayer galley. The sincerity was apparent in the faces, body language and respectful clothing of all.

Two trips over a span of about ten years. Same wall and same traditions. Same passport I was carrying. But, not the same person. Neither my mind, body or spirit grasped any of the divine energy in my first trip. Perhaps, I had built up my own wall of protection.

Energy Follows Intention

divine energy at the Western Wall in JerusalemPennsylvania-based pranic healer, Andrew Chapoy-Garza, explains part of the phenomena of the divine energy that people feel at the Wailing Wall. 

“When I was trained as a pranic healer a number of years ago, I learned that energy follows intention. When someone writes a prayer on a paper that is placed in the Western Wall, the intention in it attracts the divine energy and vibrations from the Divine Source. This happens so much at a number of different holy sites around the world that portals of light are created in the midst of this present darkness.”

That energy is not confined to the Western Wall. I learned the same concept in my Reiki trainings that spanned nearly ten years. Just like the Wall, my Reiki atunements didn’t give me automatic entry to divine energy. What I felt in my hands after my first Reiki training, was similar to what I felt at the Wall on my first visit. However, by the time I reached Reiki Master, likely, I allowed myself to connect to the divine energy.  Long ago I was taught each one of us has the same powers. What we do with them is the difference.

Andrew further shares, “In the spiritual world, I believe we experience this (divine energy) within ourselves every time we meditate, chant or pray. These are wonderful powerful ways to reconnect with the Divine Source. The Western Wall is one of these places of spiritual energy exchange just like the Kaaba in Mecca for all our devout Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Generations of Humans Have Prayed at the Wall

divine energy at the Western Wall in JerusalemFellow yoga instructor, Steve Rubin, of Orlando, Florida was far better attuned than I was during his first visit to the Wall. He spent two hours watching, praying and crying.

“It was a very special/charged place,” he recalls. “All the prayers that have been shared there for so long made it a very tangible feeling — very strong — at least for me.  I could feel the timelessness of humans and our prayers. It brought me to tears instantly, as soon as I laid my hands and head on it, which is not something that happens so quickly for me.”

Furthermore, it was an instant humbling for Steve, who is a very well travelled spiritual yogi.  He attributes the divine energy, in part, to “the generations of Humans for so long pouring sincerity and prayers into the wall.” Additionally, he  felt a connection to his own Jewish roots that he had not felt before while in Israel. 

The Western Wall is the most sacred construction for the Jews. But, what made an impact for me was seeing the large number of non-Jews sharing in the practice of prayer at this holy site. A kids’ brochure, simply, with lots of color, explained how “Jerusalem is the city that brings everyone together.  Adults and children from around the world come here to visit, to touch, to feel and to pray.” The same Creator, whatever one may call it.

Where God Created the World

divine energy at the Western Wall in JerusalemThis area (Temple Mount or Mount Moriah) is where Herod declared, “whomever has not seen the temple, hasn’t seen a true beauty in his life.” 

Even more impactful, some believe that Mount Moriah is where God created the world.

Certainly, it’s hard to imagine man building this wall without a whole lot of divine energy.  The entire wall extends 488 meters, and was at one time up to 60 meters high. Much of the wall is under ground, so what is visible is just a part of the enormous structure. Then, consider that part of the wall is comprised of massive meter-deep stone frames. Each weighs 570 tons, measures 40 feet wide. With today’s technology, the best crane in Israel can’t move these stones. Furthermore, each piece is carved perfectly, and set in place with no mortar. 

Prayers at The Western Wall, JerusalemIsaiah called the temple “a home for all nations,” or a spiritual gathering place, regardless of one’s chosen religion. That’s what one sees today, thousands of years later. Albeit one wall that has withstood earthquakes, ransacking, fires, and destruction by the Romans, Moors and Babylonians. It was covered up by the Muslim quarter built on top of the ancient temple. Then, politics attempted to obliterate the wall. 

In 1948, with the emergence of the State of Israel, this part of Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan. No Jews were allowed here. When Israel took over in 1967, the wall was made accessible to all, and the area was consecrated as a temple with space for 60,000.  

Not surprisingly, today, it is the most visited place in all Israel.  

* Not unlike traditions at many Indian temples, men and women pray at separate areas at the Kotel. 

** Again, as in Hindu traditions, when one’s back is not to face the deities, the same etiquette is practiced at the wall.  

Protected by Divine Energy 

As I left, I took a a Spanish-language.

Todos son iguales frente al Muro. El tocar sus piedras nos vincula a nuestra nación y legado…lo insignificante se desvanece. El Muro ha sido testigo de épocas de guerra y épocas de paz, de destrucción y renacimiento.

Everyone is equal in front of the wall. Touching its stones connects us to a nation and a legacy. What’s not important disappears. The wall has witnessed times of war and times of peace, destruction and rebirth.