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Yoga Has to Be Good For You - Awakening Alchemy

If you’ve previously read any of my articles, you’ll be well aware I am a firm believer in the “holistic” approach to health and wellbeing. There are so many ways to achieve peace and enlightenment and what I like to do is expose my readers to some of the options out there that they may not have considered previously. Yoga is something that for many seems too hard, too physical, and perhaps too time-consuming for them but, in reality, you only need do as much as you feel comfortable with.

Where Did Yoga Come From?

As with so many of the practices we have adopted in the West, yoga came out of the practices of the peoples of ancient India. There is much debate, in the academic world, about the actual origins of the practice but there is consensus that it originated in India probably around 3000BCE. Carved figures, picturing practitioners in various poses have been dated to this period. It was developed as part of the overall purpose of life – achieving enlightenment.

Yoga From History - Awakening Alchemy

The Pushupati Seal

Although most scholars are agreed that the principles of Yoga probably developed during the Vedic period of Indian history, there is some evidence that it may even be earlier. The Pashupati Seal discovered in an earlier Indus Valley civilization, excavation site, depicts a figure in a position that resembles an asana (a Hatha Yoga body posture) used in meditation. Yoga aimed to achieve harmony between the heart and the soul. Incidental to the practice of yoga came the realization that is was especially useful in controlling certain illnesses and diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, and chronic pain.

Backward Stretch Yoga Pose - Awakening Alchemy It is precisely these benefits, perhaps, rather than the search for enlightenment that saw yoga begin to take off in Western civilization toward the middle of the nineteenth century. One of the results of this rise in popularity of yoga in the western world has been the many differing offshoots and schools of practice that have developed. It is important to understand there is no right or wrong way to practice yoga, just different methods and sometimes different sought outcomes from the practice.      

Why is Yoga Useful to Us? 

Yoga can be beautifully dovetailed into a regime of meditation which I believe is an essential part of wellbeing and centering ourselves. I’ve recently had an article on meditation published in the exceptionally fine, FREE Emagazine, called Mom’s Favorite Reads. You can access the magazine and my article on meditation here from SmashWords. Yoga and meditation are intrinsically linked – one complements the other perfectly. But why do yoga at all?

For most people the idea they would have of yoga is that it is (a) physical and therefore helps with your general level of fitness and (b) mental, in that it helps you relax and gain peace of mind as well as allowing you to zone out from the worries of life, at least for a short period.

Group Yoga Benefits - Awakening Alchemy The experts, however, paint a different picture of the benefits of yoga. They would argue that the aim of yoga is to actually transcend those things of the world, meaning to move your consciousness away from the day to day hassles of life and actually discover a higher, more spiritual plane of thinking. They would suggest that other forms of exercise can achieve fitness and mental wellbeing, like running, the spin-bike or lifting weights, whereas yoga is seen as food and exercise for the soul. Whatever the reason for doing Yoga there are definitely some real benefits to be had from it:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Stress relief
  • Circulation improvement
  • A general feeling of wellbeing
  • Physical fitness

Yoga is Great During Pregnancy - Awakening Alchemy Medical reviews, such as one published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology have shown that practicing yoga will reduce the risk of heart disease as much as any of the conventional forms of exercise. On average, people taking part in yoga regularly (weekly) lost five pounds, decreased their blood pressure, and lowered their LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol – also known as “bad cholesterol” by 12 points. Research is now starting to show many more health benefits of practicing this ancient art, including: controlling obesity, reducing chronic pain, asthma relief, minimizing fatigue and aiding irritable bowel syndrome.

In addition to these findings, neuroscience, using MRI’s (magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain have shown yoga reduces the decline in gray matter brain volume, especially apparent in older people. Interestingly enough, most of this brain protection appears to occur in the left hemisphere, which is the side of the brain most associated with positive emotions and the rest and relaxation response. Perhaps we have finally found the true cause of “grumpy old man and grumpy old woman syndrome”?

It certainly appears there is little to no downside to practicing yoga.         

Yoga's Spiritual Experience - Awakening Alchemy One of the interesting things that Yoga instructors and most students who progress further in the practice have noticed is that their reasons for doing yoga, change over time. What started out initially as a physical activity slowly morphs into a more spiritual and mental activity – a journey of self-discovery, self-actualisation, self-fulfillment, and reflection along with a greater capacity to care for themselves and practice self-love. By reaching back to the very spiritual roots of yoga, people, it seems, actually begin to discover the true purpose for which the practice was developed.

How Do I Get Started on Yoga?

The first thing to remember is it DOES NOT MATTER what age you are or what fitness level you currently have. Clearly, if you are in a major city or town, there may well be a yoga studio available for you to consult and join. If this is not an option, or you feel uncomfortable or shy, training initially with others, you can totally start to learn on your own.

  • Wear comfortable and lose clothing (yoga pants are absolutely not a requirement)
  • Get yourself a non-slip yoga mat
  • Enter the process with an open mind and be prepared to be patient – it takes a little determination but you can do it.
  • Get yourself a quality “beginners” DVD or view a “beginner’s class” on the internet. (YouTube is great for this).  

Some Beginner’s Poses You Can Try: 

  • Yoga Stretching Down - Awakening Alchemy Initially, the key to success is breathing and determination. Don’t give up just because you can’t make the pose shown on your video instruction. Do as much of the pose as your body feels capable of and breathe, always breathe, through the nose, filling your belly and keeping your body relaxed and controlled. 
  • Sit on the floor in a relaxed, easy position with your legs crossed and your back and neck straight.
  • Concentrate on your breathing – regular, slow, peaceful breaths. 
  • Once you are relaxed, stand up straight and stretch your arms as high above your head as you feel able to comfortably – breathing evenly all the time.
  • Exhale as you reach down to the ground. (Don’t get discouraged if you can’t touch the ground initially – just go as far as you feel comfortable without straining yourself).  

Once you feel good with this, you’re ready to move onto a few beginner exercises which will be on your DVD or your YouTube Channel you are watching. 

One thing that is known to put off newcomers is when they see an expert twisted into some “pretzel-like” shape and they immediately say: “OMG! I can’t ever do anything like that – what’s the point of trying?” Like I said earlier – patience and determination and who knows what you can achieve in the future.

Finally, a couple of beginner poses for you to try that absolutely will not send you running to a chiropractor or requiring your partner to call an ambulance to take you off to the emergency room to be untangled.    

Cat-Cow:

A great pose for stretching the back and abdomen.

  • Cat-Cow On Your Knees - Awakening Alchemy Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.
  • Keep your spine flat, like a table – the neutral spine.
  • Keep your neck in line with your spine. Don’t lift it up or drop it down.
  • As you inhale, drop your belly toward the floor and look up. Curl your toes under if this helps you reach the stretch.
  • As you exhale, pull your spine toward the ceiling, rounding your back. Your head will drop down and you can focus on your navel. The tops of your feet will lay flat against the floor.
  • Repeat this action as you continue inhaling and exhaling, working on your breath.

Downward-Facing Dog:

Another really easy yoga pose, to start with.

  • Yogas's Downward Facing Dog - Awakening Alchemy Begin on your knees, as with the Cat-Cow pose, your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • As you breathe in, push your hips toward the ceiling, straighten your legs and place your feet flat on the ground.
  • When your legs are straight, spread out your fingers and let your head hang down between your arms. Use your quadriceps (thigh muscles) to take the pressure off your arms.
  • Once you are in position, continue working on keeping your breathing steady and rhythmical.

 

So, there we have the basics of yoga. I hope I’ve excited you enough to give it a try. Always remember two things:

  1. Nobody (and I mean nobody) cares what you look like at the moment. It’s none of their business, anyway and they, like you, all started somewhere. Everyone will be impressed with one thing – that you are giving it a go. So, don’t be afraid to try.
  2. Like everything worth having in life, it takes time, practice, and determination to achieve the tangible results you are looking for, so don’t be discouraged. I can promise you, though, if you try yoga and apply it diligently, you will start to see the incremental benefits very quickly.

Yoga Takes You Out Of This World - Awakening Alchemy There are a ton of resources out there to help you (thank goodness for the internet!) so don’t be afraid to look and if you join a structured yoga class – don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’re all ultimately seeking the same thing.

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Finally, today, please do pop on over to the section of my website that highlights my Visionary Fiction “whodunit” mystery, Spirit of Prophecy, which incorporates many of the ideas and philosophies discussed in my blog into a fast-paced, fictional, thriller. I know you’ll enjoy it. You can find that here:

Spirit of Prophecy is Magical - Awakening Alchemy

Till Next Time I’m Sending: Peace and Light

 

 

The Lost City of Atlantis - Awakening Alchemy

As discussed in previous blogs almost all modern medicines we use today had their origins in the flora and fauna used by our forebears to “cure what ailed them”. This is equally true of crystals – which have been used as a healing and wellbeing tool for millennia. Today, I’d like to take you on a quick tour of those ancient civilizations and look at what crystals meant to them. As an avid history buff, I am a firm believer of how much we can learn from our ancestors and when it comes to crystals, the answer does appear to be – quite a lot!

Ancient Civilizations:    

As long as man has stood upright, crystals and gemstones have truly fascinated them and there has been a deep attraction to these beautiful stones as well as being seen as a way of warding off evil and protecting the wearer from danger and illness. It is impossible to determine exactly what, when and how, man first began using crystals and gemstones, but archaeologists have found talismans and amulets that date back to the earliest recorded human history. Carved Woolly Mammoth Ivory Beads have been excavated from a grave site in Sungir, Russia and date back some 60,000 years (Upper Paleolithic Period). Included in these graves were also beads made from shells and fossilized shark’s teeth.

The oldest recorded amulets found to date, can be dated back some 30,000 years. Amber beads have been discovered in Great Britain from over 10,000 years ago, right at the end of the last ice-age. If we consider the immense distances early man had to travel to reach Great Britain at that time, we start to gain some perspective into the importance of these gems to them, that they brought them with them on their travels. A popular stone for early man was Jet and jet beads, bracelets and necklaces have been uncovered in Paleolithic gravesites in Switzerland and Belgium.

New Grange Tombs in Ireland - Awakening Alchemy

New Grange Tombs – Ireland

When we consider that early man has been mining such substances as Malachite, in the Sinai, since 4,000BCE we begin to see the importance of these minerals to the early nomads of earth. Jade has been mined in China since the Stone Age (Between 8700BCE and 2000BCE). Also, NewGrange, a prehistoric monument in Ireland, built around 3200BCE and predating Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids, was constructed of white quartz cobblestones.

Even the fabled lost ancient civilizations of Atlantis and Lemuria were said to be reliant on the power of crystals. The Atlanteans, in particular were said to have used the power of the crystals to create forcefields around their world to defend themselves from enemies, however it was the misuse of this power that is said to have destroyed the world of Atlantis and sent it plunging beneath the ocean.

We find the first written reference to crystal use, in the writings from Ancient Sumer, (Modern Day, ancient Southern Iraq, later known as Mesopotamia). The Sumerians used crystals in their concoctions of “magic formulas”.

Egyptians:

An Egyptian Pharoah Being Crowned - Awakening AlchemyThe Ancient Egyptians were noted for their extensive crystal use. They used turquoise, carnelian, emeralds, lapis lazuli and clear quartz in their jewellery. In addition to this their funerary amulets were also made from these same gems. Crystals were used by the Egyptians for protection and health. For example, Chrysolite (known as topaz and perodite) were used as a deterrent to nightmares and to ward off evil spirits.

The Egyptians also liked to use crystals as part of their “makeup” regime. Galena (Lead Ore) was ground into a powder (known as Kohl) and used to shade Egyptians eyes. Powdered Rose Quartz was believed to prevent wrinkles and was extensively used. Malachite was also used as an eye shadow and any “green” stones which signified the heart of the dead person were included with the mummified body in the burial chamber. They would often place a quartz crystal and other gemstones on the forehead of a deceased family member, believing the energy and spirit of the gems would guide their family member in the afterlife.

Egyptian dancers were big users of crystals placing carnelian and ruby crystals in their navels to enhance their sex appeal, whilst Pharaohs, like Cleopatra, placed crushed Lapis Lazuli on their eyes to enhance awareness. Amethyst was also used to stimulate the “third eye” chakra and aid enlightenment.

Ancient Greeks:   

The Raphael School in Early Athens - Awakening Alchemy Perhaps the Greeks, more than any other civilization brought us the world of crystals as we know it today. They believed crystals were extremely powerful and gave us many of the words we use for crystals, today.

Crystal, in ancient Greek, literally means “ice”. This is because the Greeks believed clear quartz was actually frozen water, so solid that it would never unfreeze.

Amethyst means “not drunken” and was worn as an amulet to prevent drunkenness and hangovers.

Hematite comes from the Greek word for blood, because of its red colour when it oxidises. Because Hematite is an iron ore and the Greeks associated iron with Aries, the God of War, soldiers would rub Hematite all over their bodies before battle to protect themselves.

Greek sailors were known to wear a variety of crystal amulets to protect them from the terrors of sea travel and the many mythical monsters that they believed lived under the oceans.

China:

Ancient Chinese: Horse Riding - Awakening Alchemy The crystal that was most prevalent and important in ancient Chinese culture was undoubtedly, Jade. Jade was highly valued and even some Chinese written characters represent Jade beads. Many musical instruments, in the form of gongs and chimes were made from Jade and Chinese Emperors were often known to be buried in armour made from Jade.

Jade was also recognised as a healing stone by the Chinese. It was believed to be particularly effective for the kidneys and kidney related diseases.

Other Civilisations:

Maori Greenston Koru Pendant from New Zealand - Awakening Alchemy

Maori Koru Pendant

The South, Central and North American Native Peoples (Mayans, Aztecs, Inca’s and Native Americans) all used and valued crystals deeply. They also recognised jade as a kidney healing stone as well as using it for funeral masks. The Inca people believed that Rhodochrosite contained the blood of their dead ancestors and the Aztecs made their weapons from Obsidian.

In the South Pacific, Jade (or Greenstone, as it is known in New Zealand) is sacred to the local culture. Maori make greenstone pendants which represent the spirits of their ancestors and pass these down the male lineage, through the generations, considering them to be bearers of good fortune. It is also used extensively by Pacific peoples in weaponry, such as the pictured “mere”.

Religion and Crystals:

The Multi-Gemed Breastplatye of Aaron - Awakening Alchemy

Breastplate of Aaron

All manner of human religions has, at one time or another, considered crystals to be powerful, sacred and part of their religious practices. Crystals and gemstones are repeatedly mention in the Bible and the Koran. The whole concept of “birthstones” actually traces its origin back to a Biblical text in Exodus and the breastplate of Aaron (The High Priest’s Breastplate.)

The 4th Heaven mentioned in the Koran is composed of carbuncle (Garnet)

In Jainism, the Kalpa Sultra speaks of Harinegamesi, the divine commander of the foot soldiers who seized fourteen precious stones, cleansed them of their lesser qualities and retained only their finest qualities to aid his transformations.

The Kalpa Tree in Hinduism, which represents an offering to the Gods is made entirely of precious stone.

In Buddhism, there was said to be a diamond throne situated near the tree of knowledge, on which Buddha is believed to have reposed. A 6th Century Buddhist treatise ranks all gemstones according to caste, with diamonds being the King of Gemstones.

Modern Day Crystal Healing Roots:

During the Renaissance, in Europe, a number of “medical” treatises emerged promoting the use of precious and semi-precious stones for the treatment of certain ailments. The use of these stones, allied with herbal remedies were said to aid recovery and provide strength and protection to the wearer. During this period, it was decreed that because of “original sin” crystals could be inhabited by demons and therefore they needed to be sanctified and cleansed by the clergy, before wearing.

In the early Seventeenth Century, Thomas Nicols declared in his treatise “Faithful Lapidary” that gems, as inanimate objects, could not possibly possess the healing effects claimed by many and the use of crystals in Europe dropped off dramatically.

The Era of “New Thought” and the Rebirth of Crystal Healing:

An Angel Lights up a Star - Awakening Alchemy The middle of the nineteenth century saw a massive spiritual movement known as “New Thought” take hold across Europe and the Americas. The “New Thought” movement, with its fascination and emphasis on the power of thought, vibration, spiritualism, the occult, and energy movement saw a resurgence in the use of crystals as healing talismans. Many of the practices we see re-emerging right through to the current day owe their roots to the traditional native beliefs we have discussed earlier but rely much more on modern science and the belief that everything is energy and crystals and gemstones, like some other materials are magnificent conductors of energy.

Crystal belief and therapies now cross all religious and cultural boundaries and in many cases are seen as a part of the “holistic” approach to wellbeing. Even many modern doctors incorporate crystals and other holistic methods, such as meditation into their diagnoses and therapies. Many books, such as Healing Crystals, Gemstone Healing and many more by Michael Gienger, as well as popular spiritual magazines have served to bring the concept of crystal healing to a whole new generation.

Although there are many physicians who adopt this “holistic” approach to health and wellbeing, there are many more who openly scoff at the concept. For long periods of the twentieth century the whole idea of natural healing was an anathema to Western Medicine and was actually banned in many countries. Slowly, as science progresses and recognises many of the aspects of “new thought” teaching as being reality, we are seeing a paradigm shift as it applies to health and alternative medicine but still the major pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma) are vehemently opposed to this movement and would prefer us to douse ourselves in their chemical concoctions, often with disastrous side-effects and addictive qualities (witness the current Opioid crisis in the USA).

Conclusion:

A Piule of Raw Crystals - Awakening Alchemy Ultimately, crystals can only form a part of an overall wellness regime that includes: diet, sleep, exercise, meditation, natural remedies and yes, modern medical care. All these things should work together in harmony to achieve a balanced, healthy, and happy human being.

We hope you have enjoyed our foray into crystals over the past few weeks. We hope, if nothing else, we have opened your thought processes to looking at alternative options for achieving the wealth, health and fulfilling life each of you was born to enjoy – remember what I said a few articles back:

 

IT IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT TO BE HAPPY AND YOU SHOULD ACCEPT NOTHING LESS.

That concludes our series on crystals and next week we will dive into something equally as fascinating, exciting and important – SELF LOVE and no, I’m not talking about narcissism or arrogance here, I’m talking about loving, respecting and believing in yourself as a uniquely talented human being and fellow traveller in this amazing journey of life. You won’t want to miss this series.

A Healing CrystaL Circle - Awakening Alchemy If you enjoyed this Blog and would like to hear more spiritual and metaphysical issues plus lots more besides, please do join our website and you will receive a notice whenever a new blog is posted, as well as special promotions and the opportunity to win prizes. We will never spam you, though. You can join here:

If you liked what you read here, please do check out our previous blogs. The last four can be found here:

You may also wish to avail yourself of our fantastic FREE report: 3 Proven Ways to Pull More Prosperity to You in 30 Days. You can grab your copy of this here:

Finally, today, please do pop on over to the section of my website that highlights my Visionary Fiction “whodunit” mystery, Spirit of Prophecy, which incorporates many of the ideas and philosophies discussed in my blog into a fast-paced, fictional, thriller. I know you’ll enjoy it. You can find that here:

A Little Boy Reaches For the Moon: Spirit of Prophecy - Awakening Alchemy

Till Next Time I’m Sending: Peace and Light