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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.

If you are interested in all things spiritual and esoteric then please do visit my website and sign up to receive my regular blogs which cover many aspects of spirituality, alternative lifestyle, other esoteric topics and fascinating insights into the world of science and the paranormal. 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:

Spirit of Prophecy is Magical - Awakening Alchemy

Till Next Time I’m Sending: Peace and Light

 

 

Generally, the idea of karma is associated with reincarnation, the soul derives from a higher dimension but choses to [re-] incarnate on Earth – here on the physical realm of the 3rd dimension. We reincarnate many, many times and on each occasion, we have a soul blueprint which will include lessons to be learned, contracts to be upheld, karma to be balanced or received, gifts to be expressed, and ‘purpose,’ to be discovered and lived. I was open to metaphysical ideas and found them fascinating from quite an early age, in my teens I read Tarot cards and read lots of books about magic and New Age Spirituality. On a personal level I had a profound experience in my early twenties where I become convinced that my Junior show jumper who had been put to sleep owing to a twisted gut, had returned in the guise of my new horse a 16.2 hand palomino called Hooray Henry. Their ways, behavior patterns were uncannily similar, so many synchronicities and ultimately it was an over-riding gut instinct or intuition which had me swayed, as these things can be felt, intuited and believed, but can be difficult to materially prove with hard scientific or otherwise “evidence’’. I’m hoping this will change and that science and spirituality will forge a closer bond going forward.  

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.’’

                                                                    Nikola Tesla

The concept and idea of Karma is one that is rooted in the very history of mankind, right back to the first time we took steps out from the jungle and began to organize ourselves into self-governing communities. Broadly speaking, Karma, certainly as defined by most people today is the concept that; our actions today have an effect on the results we will receive tomorrow. It is the spiritual principle best defined by “cause and effect”. In other words, our intent and our actions (cause) influences the future of what we will receive (effect). If we have good intent, and perform good deeds then that contributes to our “good karma” and we can expect to receive future happiness from it. Conversely, our bad intent or our bad deeds will contribute to us receiving “bad karma” or future negative outcomes.

Karma, is a critical underlying thread that underpins much of the action that takes place in my novel, Spirit of Prophecy and I thought it might be a good time to explore and expand on what karma can mean to us today, in our everyday lives.

Originating in the ancient Indian, Vedic civilization, the philosophy of Karma has been intrinsically woven into the fabric of almost all religions and philosophies over the history of man. Karma is often associated with the idea of being “reborn”. This is particularly apparent in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Taoism. In these religions Karma is seen to affect not only your current lives, but also the nature and quality of your future lives, when you are reborn, after death. 

Over the years, karma has also come to be a concept accepted and understood by the mono-theistic religions, such as Christianity and Judaism. Although not specifically spoken of as Karma, there is an acceptance among many biblical scholars that sin and the effects of that sin i.e. the final judgement are very much in line with the concept and teachings of karma. Similarly, in Judaism, the concept of “measure for measure” applies. In matters of ethics, this means, how one’s actions effect the world, will eventually come back to that person, in ways he or she may not necessarily expect.  

In recent years, the concept of Karma has been thrust very much into the mainstream of philosophical thought, with the emergence of new-age thought and more specifically the 2006 publication of the movie and book, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. The principal concept that this new-age spirituality promotes is that, “thoughts are things, and what we think determines very much what our reality will be.” Karma plays a crucial role in new-age thought. The Theosophist I.K. Taimni wrote; “Karma is nothing but the Law of Cause and Effect, operating in the realm of human life and bringing about adjustment between an individual, and other individuals who he/she has effected by his thoughts, emotions and actions.” In simple, laymen’s terms, “what goes around – comes around”. I don’t entirely agree with this definition as the assertion that: “Karma ís nothing but the Law of Cause and Effect,’ is flawed in my experience, it is that to a certain extent, and is certainly based on Newton’s law – for every action there is a reaction, and yet it is so much more. I’ll elaborate more on this in my subsequent post. Meanwhile, remember that karma shows up whether you consciously recognize it as such or not, some children are more likely to recall past lives, but generally even as we evolve and become more spiritually attuned we tend only to remember vague snatches, save perhaps in a good Past Life Regression therapy session – more on that later. Meanwhile look at events in your life as learning possibilities, giving you the opportunity of course correcting. Ultimately you are the master of your own destiny. Accept where you are right now, and what is occurring [everything was agreed up-front, so no point resisting or fighting back – if you do it will just boomerang further down the track, on this circuit or the next and even add some new karma to be worked through as well, perhaps?] and ask yourself, ‘Okay, what’s going on here? What did I do to cause this, now or previously?’ Accept, genuinely without bitterness and resentment that at some level you deserve this. Accept your responsibility and instead of retaliating, forgive the other person and yourself, and send loving compassion instead.

The Secret, The Law of Attraction, Quantum Physics, Manifesting, Gratitude, and other concepts of these new-age philosophers are all areas I plan to expand on in future articles. For now, though, I hope I’ve awakened your interest in this fascinating and constantly evolving area of philosophical discussion and I hope you will take a quick look at my novel, Spirit of Prophecy, where many of these concepts are intricately woven into the storyline, in such a fascinating way. You can find it here, on my website. http://http://bit.ly/2LeRJ84

Here is my opportunity to earn some instant karma by recommending the latest book from my fellow author and dear friend, Ken Fry. Shakyamuni’s Pearl is an exciting, thriller set in modern day Japan, with roots in the ancient system of the Samurai Warriors. This is an absolute “pearler” of a novel and one I can not recommend highly enough. You can find a copy of Shakyamuni’s Pearl, here on Amazon.com: https://amzn.to/2CbmZkM

Or conversely, here on Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2FnJkio

17th Century, Japan
The Legend…

Ama divers, Makoto and Kaho, discover a gigantic pearl deep in the coastal waters of Japan, resembling the head of Buddha, Shakyamuni. At that time, all finds are the property of their Daimyo, Lord Hatakeyema. Their secret is discovered, and before they can bring the pearl to the surface, they are attacked. Rather than face certain death by beheading, the couple commits suicide by drowning — taking the pearl with them.

Since then, it has never seen the light of day…

The Present…

Maxine D’Argy Steele and Hugo Leyton, renowned researchers, are offered a lucrative deal by an American-Japanese pearl and diamond dealer. Locate the legendary pearl and recover it. They form a team to help them in their quest — a renowned freediver and oceanographer, and an ama diver, Mizuki, who has motives of her own.

But the problem with legendary treasures is that people will kill to own it.

Two rival factions, the Yakuza, a criminal organisation led by Kazuma, and The Flaming Flag Society led by Yamura, are aware of the expedition, and they will use all their resources to possess the pearl.

With danger from above and from below, Maxine and Leyton dodge bullets and threats as they try to resurrect Shakyamuni’s Pearl from its watery tomb.

 

You may wish to check out our previous blogs, which are listed below:

An Attitude of Gratitude

Three Day Eventing: A Horse’s Pentathlon? What’s That All About, Then?

Money and Your Wallet – A Love Story More Tragic Than Twilight

Wealth Mentor/Best Selling Author – Jill Hughes