The Goddess Lakshmi and the Art of Giving and Receiving

Lakshmi goddess of prosperity

Recently I’ve been drawn to the great goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. Their stories are magical and moving, exciting and inspiring, and sometimes even terrifying. My original intention was to write a blog post introducing the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance, well-being, harmony, good luck and prosperity in all forms, but she also personifies so many other characteristics worthy of discussion and embodiment. We call on Lakshmi to access the ocean of abundance that lies within, to find our radiant inner beauty, and to guide us on the path of our dharma.

As one of the Great Mother goddesses, Lakshmi guides us from the darkness to the light. She helps us move from a mindset rooted in fear and lack into a mindset of love, abundance, and generosity. The name Lakshmi comes from the Hindu word Laksya with means “aim” or “goal”. When manifesting abundance we can practice self-inquiry and take a moment to examine our intentions. Why do I want this? How would having this influence my life? How would it improve my life and how could my having it improve the lives of others? How can I use this to serve my community?

Abundance Flows to You and Through You

“Abundance flows to you and through you” has been my mantra for more or less the past year. And yes yogis, it is true, abundance flows both ways! I’ve experienced this flow (and lack of) again and again. When I found myself getting stuck in feelings of fear of not having enough or lack I could feel the Universe pulling back. But what’s even more amazing is when I drop back into the space of abundance, gratitude, and worthiness, I feel the support of the cosmos, Lakshmi, the Universe, God, whatever you want to call it. It’s as if I could do anything.

Our ability to give and receive freely depends deeply on our own personal beliefs that we are worthy of love, worthy of gifts, and that others too are worthy of these same gifts. Sally Kempton, author of Awakening Shakti, said it perfectly, “When you can allow yourself to receive with the feeling that you deserve the gifts of life, and then give with the feeling that others deserve them also, you find yourself in what one of my teachers called the auspicious state of mind, the state where shri is simply flowing through you. You feel Lakshmi’s presence as internal abundance and also as gratitude and as the desire to bless others. It’s then that you can begin to feel Lakshmi’s energy as your own.”

Lakshmi: A Tale of Generosity

One of my favorite stories of Lakshmi personifies an attitude of generosity, compassion, and empathy. As the story goes, Lakshmi and her husband Vishnu were the manifest deities at a wealthy temple for the high-caste in Varanasi, India. One year, during the festival of Diwali, Lakshmi decided to visit the town’s untouchables and bestow the untouchables with food and money. Her generosity extended to both those who worshipped her and those who did not. A beautiful reminder that we are all worthy, whether we (or others) deem us to be worthy.

Upon learning that Lakshmi has been spending time with the untouchables, Vishnu becomes angry with her. She immediately flees and goes to live with a group of sweepers. Upon Lakshmi’s arrival, the sweeper community begins to prosper, there is an abundance of food and there is enough money for the sweepers to fix-up their homes.

While the sweepers are being lifted up out of poverty Vishnu’s temple is falling into ruins, the community stops bringing offerings, and the surrounding trees begin to wither. Out of desperation, Vishnu finds Lakshmi and begs her to return. She obliges on one condition, that he may never restrict her ability to share her blessings again.

I think we all probably know a Lakshmi. We have a friend that we can count on… she lends us an ear when we need to chat, she nourishes with food and her gracious spirit, she uplifts us when we need a pep talk, she believes in the abundance of the Universe and is happy to share. She gives from a place of love and heart and soul. She gives without expectations. And yes, abundance seems to flow her way.

The Goddess of Abundance and Padma Mudra (Lotus Mudra)

The lotus is a common image in Hinduism and Buddhism and Lakshmi is often depicted either sitting or standing on a lotus flower and holding two lotus flowers in her hands. Bansi Pandit goes into even more detail about the symbolism of Lakshmi’s lotuses and explains that “since the right side of the body symbolizes activity, a lotus in the back right hand conveys the idea that one must perform all duties in the world in accordance with dharma. This leads to moksha (liberation), which is symbolized by a lotus in the back left hand of Lakshmi.”

A lotus flower begins down in the muck and mud and rises up through the water to blossom unscathed at the water’s surface. You can think of the path of the lotus as the journey to enlightenment. It is the journey from the darkness to the light.

To practice Padma Mudra, bring your hands into Anjali Mudra (prayer mudra) in front of your heart center and then separate your index fingers, middle fingers, and ring fingers. Allow the fingers to spread away from one another like a lotus flower blooming while keeping the pinkies, thumbs and wrists touching.

Did you also know that Ambuja means lotus? Learn more about the meaning of Ambuja here.

Four Lakshmi Inspired Practices to Cultivate the Art of Giving and Receiving

“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

~Brene Brown

A practice in self-love.

Lie down onto your back and come into Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose/Reclined Butterfly Pose). To practice Supta Baddha Konasana, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to touch. Allow your knees to drop out to the side like the pages of a book. If you have any pain in your hips or knees support your thighs with blocks, cushions, etc.

Now bring your right hand to your belly and your left hand to your heart. Before continuing, take a moment to bring your awareness to your breath and your heartbeat and simply witness.

Your right hand is often considered the hand of action and your left hand is often considered the hand of reception. In this exercise, envision a free flow of self-love flowing through your left hand and into Anahata Chakra, your heart center. Your heart, mind, and body receive this love graciously and without judgment or expectation. Stay with this free-flowing self-love, allow it to flow into your body for ten to fifteen breaths. Then release this awareness and bring your awareness to your right hand, repeat a mantra of kind words and affirmations of self-love, gratitude, abundance, and/or worthiness. If you’re feeling stuck, perhaps try the same mantra that I have been using, “Abundance flows to me and through me” or try “I freely give and receive the gifts and blessings of Lakshmi.”

A practice in the art of giving and receiving inspired by Sally Kempton’s Awakening Shakti

Set aside thirty minutes or so to journal about your beliefs about giving and receiving.

  • To begin, let’s focus on what you would like to receive. Free write a list of the blessings/gifts you would like to receive, whether they are material or spiritual. Be specific. Are other people involved? If yes, name them.
  • From the above list, decide which three are the most important blessings. For each of the three blessing answer the following questions:
  • How would this blessing influence your life? How would things change? How would this influence your relationships with others? How would you be able to serve others better?
  • How do I intentionally or unintentionally limit my ability to receive these blessings? In what ways do I limit my potential or practice self-sabotage?
  • How could I help someone else receive the same blessings that I want for myself? Write down a few actionable steps to help someone else achieve the same blessing that you want for yourself.
  • Now put it into action, for yourself and for this other person.

Say yes when help is offered. Ask for help when needed.

When we accept help from someone, we gift them the opportunity to be of assistance. If we deny their offer to help, we are shutting down the energy and flow of abundance. I know I struggle with this one! I like to be in control and allowing someone else to help with a task, means that it is out of my hands, but what a gift it is!

I was reminded of this recently when I was leading a yoga teacher training weekend in Bend and we had to be out of the studio quickly, so the next group could come in. One of my gracious students offered to help sweep the floors and my first instinct was to shut it down and say “no” and “that I’ve got it” simply because I’m a people pleaser and I want to make sure that I’m not inconveniencing anyone. I quickly checked myself and my ego and accepted her offer to help. The next time someone offers to help you I encourage you to check in and say yes.

And yogis, we have got to ask for help when we need it! I’m still working on this one. I will run myself into the ground before asking for help, so maybe I’m writing this more for myself than for you. But we cannot do it all ourselves.

And plus, when we ask for help, we are gifting someone with the opportunity to lend a hand. They will feel good about helping someone in need (YOU) and you may end up with a bit of free time to take care of yourself or help someone else in need.

And finally, get your chant on. Chant to Mata Lakshmi.

Okay, I’m definitely the crazy lady chanting in the car, walking the dogs, etc. But I don’t really care.

Invoke Lakshmi with this beautiful simple chant.

Om shrim maha Lakshmyai namaha

Ohm shreem muh-hah luhk-shmyai nuh-muh-huh

Om, I offer salutations to the great goddess of good fortune.

Jai Lakshmi!

Until next time beautiful yogis!

Love and Light,

Autumn

What Is The Meaning Of Om?

om mantra meaning

If you’ve attended a yoga class or visited a Hindu or Buddhist temple you have likely heard the mantra OM or AUM being chanted. The Om mantra is the most sacred mantra in both Hinduism and Buddhism. In addition, Om is also said to be the primordial sound of the Universe. The Om mantra is the most elemental of vibrations and is considered the sound of the void.

According to Patanjali, Om, the original sound, is a direct expression of isvara or God. Therefore, when we chant Om it provides a direct link to the Divine and divine knowledge. Om connects us to the Divine in vibrational form and makes our prayers and mantras more effective by increasing pranic energy.

Where did the Om mantra originate?

Om, an ancient Sanskrit letter, first appeared in the Vedas between 1500 and 1200 BCE. The main teaching on Om from the Vedas, Upanishads and Yoga Sutras is to experience non-dual awareness.

How do you pronounce Om?

The common pronunciation of Om is to pronounce the mantra with the same “o” sound as in “home”. But there are actually three sounds that make up the mantra: A-U-M or “aaah”, “oooh”, “mmm”. The sound of OM/AUM begins at the back of the throat with the “aaah” sound and ends at the lips with the “mmm” sound. When chanting the mantra OM, it fills the entire mouth from back to front, which represents the entire Universe. Similarly, when chanting Om, one can feel its vibration deep within the body. At the end of chanting AUM there is a pause or a moment of silence. This pause represents the state known as Turiya, or Infinite Consciousness.

What does the Om symbol mean?

If you look at the symbol for OM you will see three curves, one semicircle, and a dot at the top. In addition, each portion of the symbol contains not only the sounds of the mantra but deeper symbolism and meaning.

  • The large bottom curve symbolizes the waking state, A.
  • The middle curve signifies the dream state, U.
  • The upper curve denotes the state of deep sleep, M.
  • The dot signifies the fourth state of consciousness, Turiya.
  • The semi-circle at the top represents Maya or illusion. Therefore, it is the illusion of Maya that is an obstacle to accessing our highest self.

The three sounds of the om mantra represent the various trinities:

  • Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (creator, preserver, destroyer)
  • The past, present, and future
  • The waking, dreaming, and dreamless states
  • Heaven, earth, and underworld

In David Frawley’s book, Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound, he says:

“Om is the prime mantra of the Higher Self, or Atman. It attunes us with our true nature. It is the sound of the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe, who is also the inner guru and prime teacher. It reflects both the manifest and un-manifest Brahman, sustaining the vibration of being, life, and consciousness in all worlds and all creatures.”

The mantra Om is directly linked to the sixth and seventh chakras, Ajna and Sahasrara respectively.

Sound and vibration are powerful tools for healing and transformation. Exploring the mantra OM, and the power of sound can remind us to treat our words and thoughts as sacred, creative, and divine. What we think and say, we manifest.

Nikola Tesla said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

om mantra meaning

New Yoga Teacher Tips: What to do when you’ve lost your center

new yoga teacher tips

Erik Brolin @ Unsplash

I recently moved to Santa Barbara, CA and have started teaching at some studios in the area. YAY! It feels great to be back in the studio teaching again… but I have to laugh because I feel like I’m starting over from scratch. Teaching in a new space, especially after a break from teaching tends to throw me off… even though I have been teaching for what feels like a bazillion years. So I thought I would share my go-to practices for recentering. There are a handful of tips for new yoga teachers I would love to share, but today I will focus on tackling just this one issue. Here are my favorite ways to teach a great class after I’ve lost my focus or center.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #1: What to do when you’re anxious before teaching your yoga class.

first yoga class jitters

Joe Gardner @ Unsplash

As a new yoga teacher, you could be anxious for a ton of different reasons. Maybe it’s your first class in a new space, maybe it’s your demo class or the studio owner is taking your class or a million other reasons… and that’s okay. We all get anxious sometimes. New yoga teacher tip #1 for centering when you’re anxious: DON’T start your yoga class with everyone sitting or standing there looking at you. Invite them into child’s pose or down into supta baddha konasana or even just to close their eyes. With their eyes off of you, start guiding them through some three-part belly breath (deerga swasaam) or alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana). And do it yourself. A few minutes of either of these pranayama exercises will get you and your students grounded and centered for class.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #2: What to do when your music stops working randomly.

Santa Barbara Roll and Restore yoga teacher training

Okay, this honestly happened to me this morning. On a system that I don’t know how to troubleshoot (yet). Sigh. New yoga teacher tip #2: have your students hold a pose like downward facing dog, child’s pose, or forward fold while you troubleshoot your music. If possible, keep teaching the breath and they won’t even notice, or they’ll at least think it was part of the plan.

  • Check your auxiliary cord and make sure the connection is secure.
  • Check the settings on your sound system.
  • Check your bluetooth (sometimes if another teacher has their phone in the same room and it also connects to the same sound system then it can override your connection… *sometimes*)
  • If none of the above work… restart your phone. And try again.
  • If that doesn’t work, roll with no music.

This morning my Spotify account was being buggy. The songs would play for ten seconds and quit. Not so cool, but restarting my phone did the trick.

Keep teaching the breath. If you need to ground, join your class for a downward facing dog or a partial sun salutation.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #3: What to do when you forget the sequence on one side.

center your class new yoga teacher tips

rawpixel @ unsplash

Oops! You’ve linked together too many poses and can’t remember the other side!!! Eek! Okay, but seriously don’t freak out about this one. Once again, have them hold a pose for a few breaths while you try to remember… and if you can’t? New yoga teacher tip #3: OWN IT! You’re human, it happens. Ask your students! Laugh it off! Thank them! What would you do without them? Also, your students are your best teachers, often times they will go into the next pose without you even teaching it… a blessing in disguise!

That being said, if this happens a lot… you need to create shorter sequences or spend more time prepping for your classes. If it happens once in a blue moon, it will endear you to your students. If it happens every other class, it will drive them nuts.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #4: What to do when you fall out of a demo.

vinyasa-yoga-greece-retreat

Autumn Adams @ Ambuja Yoga

You might not be teaching advanced asana when you’re a brand new teacher, but also you might be and if you are, there is a good chance that one of these days you’ll fall out of an asana… perhaps you’ll fall on your bum or perhaps you’ll fall on your face. New yoga teacher tip #4: this is a great teaching moment. It teaches your students that it’s okay to fall. It’s okay to not be perfect. And you better get up and try again. Laugh it off. Keep it light. Smile. Have fun. And keep going.

I was teaching a private yoga teacher training for a student and we were taking a class together and practicing side-by-side and we were transitioning from eka pada koundinyasana up to chin stand and I hadn’t done it in a while and I used WAY too much force to lift up and I ended up skidding across the floor on my chin. It hurt, but I was fine and we had a good laugh. And my student now uses it as a teaching story in his own community.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #5: What to do when someone walks out of your yoga class.

new yoga teacher tips

Mitchell Griest @ Unsplash

Whatever you do, don’t take it personally when someone walks out of your class. It will happen eventually. Yes, it throws you off. Yes, it makes you doubt yourself. Yes, it makes you want to run after them and make sure everything is okay. Consider that a good thing because it shows that you care. You want people to enjoy your class. I get that. New yoga teacher tip #5: people leave classes for all kinds of reasons… smells, temperature, they don’t feel well, the level of the class, the music… honestly it is rarely because of something you’ve done. Personally, I like to let the yoga studio owner know… and that’s just so they can follow up with them if they want to. Keep going. When you’re distracted by your student leaving you might want to make your next sequence simpler, likely you will not be present as you were before they walked out. Get yourself grounded again… teach the breath, get everyone into a grounding pose, join your class for a pose or two. Give a simple *feel good* assist and move on.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #6: What to do when someone does their own flow.

effects of yoga on the body

Okay, I’m not going to lie, this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It is so distracting! Not only is it distracting, but if you’re not careful you can get sucked into questioning your teaching ability… is my sequencing good enough? Is my pacing okay? Etc. Etc. Etc. New yoga teacher tip #6: Don’t go down the rabbit hole! If they’re doing mostly the same sequence and modifying to make it more challenging or more accessible let them be (this doesn’t bother me at all). If they’re doing warrior 2 to reverse warrior and the rest of the class is doing a crescent lunge sequence it’s going to be obvious and distracting. If you’re up for it, you can bring the class down into child’s pose/down dog and quietly check in with the student… they could have an injury or something else going on. If you’re not confident enough to address the issue right away, check in after class. If you do check in with them, make sure it is from a place of care not from a place of ego, doubt, anger, frustration, etc. And be prepared for any kind of answer.

Remember that it is their practice and it might be the only chance they have all week to get on their mat. Maybe ask them to set their yoga mat up toward the back of the room the next time they come in, simply so they aren’t distracting the other students. For me personally, I partially ignore these people. I will still have an eye on them, but my main priority is going to be keeping the students that are participating safe and engaged.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #7: What to do when you’re hungry/hangry.

new yoga teacher class ritual

Erol Ahmed @ Unsplash

Oh boy, this definitely happens. You accidentally skip a meal and now you’re irritable, light-headed, spacey. New yoga teacher tip #7. Keep a snack in your bag… something simple like a bar or a handful of almonds and eat it before class starts. If you don’t have a snack available, make some tea. If you don’t have tea available, drink lots of water. Also, do yourself a favor and keep your sequencing simple. Teach your go-to sequence. Maybe don’t demo your forward folds… you might get light headed when you stand up to tadasana.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #8: What to do when you’re exhausted.

new yoga teacher tips essential oil

Christin Hume @ Unsplash

Keep it simple. Simple sequence. Simple theme (or just use the breath as your theme). Personally, when I’m tired and I have to teach I get inverted! A couple of handstands at the wall will usually give me the little boost I need. And if I don’t have time for a short inversion practice I will center class using pran mudra… it’s a mudra for vitality and reducing fatigue. Another favorite is shaking… it sounds weird, but it really helps. I will shake my right hand/arm above my head for a count of seven, followed by my left hand followed by my right leg followed by my left leg. Then I repeat the sequence from six and then five… all the way down to one! You can even do this with your class if the energy is low.

When things don’t go as planned, go back to the basics. Keep it simple. Recite a grounding mantra or hold a mudra for a few moments. Keep a couple of your favorite essential oils in your bag so they’re there when you need them. Try to come up with a pre-class ritual that helps you ground and center. Follow these tips and you will be able to handle anything that comes your way with grace and ease!

Do you have a favorite tip that you would like to share? Comment below!

Much love,

Autumn

 

 

Your Body On Yoga

Yoga has gained a lot of popularity worldwide because of what the majority says. Most people would say, including me that “I feel so calm and relax after the class”. For those who haven’t tried it and heard this comment, it would sound so intriguing right? Yes, it has been proved that yoga can help you relax but what does it do to your body? What goes on inside the human system? How does yoga affect the human body?

effects of yoga on the body

How Does Yoga Affect The Human Body?

Effects of Yoga on the Skeletal System:

effects of yoga on the musculoskeletal systemThe skeletal system is the hard framework that is mainly composed of the bones, associated cartilages, and joints. It plays an important role in protecting the organs inside our bodies. Imagine the human body without the skeletal system? We’d for sure look like jellyfish.

Recent studies had shown that some yoga poses had improved the health of joints by stimulating the release of synovial fluids. Synovial fluid is responsible for reducing friction between articular cartilages. It helps joints flow smoothly during movements. The synovial fluid is significant for delivering oxygen and nutrients to hyaline cartilages that don’t have any sort of oxygen. Regular yoga practice can make practitioners move around more smoothly and easily.

Even though Yoga is a weight-bearing exercise like running, weight lifting, walking, etc. It is less risky than other exercises because it creates tension on the bones and helps them lengthen and align.

According to a study conducted by California State University in Los Angeles, they said that yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (known as the “stress” hormone) which in result may help retain calcium in the bones.

It is a fact that as we age, our bones start to weaken or even deteriorate and a consistent yoga practice can help improve our strength and coordination.

These are some poses that can help strengthen the bones:yoga retreats in Greece 2019

  • Vrksasana (Tree)
  • Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
  • Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)
  • Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
  • Table Top and alternate lifting and extending opposite arms and legs

Effects of Yoga on the Musculoskeletal System:

Yoga helps strengthen the joints and support the muscles. The isometric poses of yoga train the smaller muscles surrounding our joints to endure longer holds for balance or coordination. Over time, with regular stretching, the muscles become more flexible. Flexible muscles are far less susceptible to damage in the future and put less strain on the body’s joints. Less stress on the joints means less damage to the joints which reduces the chance of developing osteoarthritis. Also, because the muscles are warmed and stretched during a yoga practice, yoga improves recovery of muscle tissues.

Muscles function properly because of the increased blood flow.

effects of yoga on the musculoskeletal system

Yoga improves flexibility and strengthens postural muscles. Poor posture can cause a lot of injuries in the future. It can result in discomfort, pain, or degenerative disease like arthritis of the spine.

As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension. It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice to learn how to relax them.

Effects of Yoga on the Nervous System:

Alternating sympathetic and parasympathetic activation. Regular practice of yoga, slowly invites the nervous system to shift out of patterns of chronic stress back into the body’s natural rhythm of activation from sympathetic to parasympathetic.

Yoga stimulates the vagus nerve. This is the 10th cranial nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve of the body. It connects to vital organs like the heart, lungs, liver, stomach, colon, spleen and other parts of the abdomen.

Practicing yoga also increases serotonin levels. Serotonin is commonly known as the “happy” neurotransmitter, serotonin is mainly found in the brain, intestines and blood platelets.

Yoga influences the rate of thyroid hormone secretion. Yoga asana, especially Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), by increasing the protein bound iodine and rehabilitating the thyroid gland it may be effective to treat underproduction of thyroid hormones. Various stretching, twisting and compressing yoga asana provide nourishment to the cells, improve blood circulation, massage the thyroid gland and stimulate it to release thyroid hormones.

effects of yoga on the thyroid

Yoga decreases cortisol hormone. According to a study conducted by Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and the Yoga Research Society, a 50-minute yoga session performed for seven days- which included postures such as Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand), Salabhasana (Locust Pose), Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Halasana (Plow Pose) – significantly reduced cortisol levels.

Practicing yoga also stimulates growth hormones. The body’s diminishing supply of growth hormone is responsible for the frailty that comes with aging. If you want to increase the level of growth hormone being secreted, consider asanas that are of moderate aerobic exercise. Studies have proved that moderate forms of exercise can increase basal levels of growth hormone in humans.

Stepping on your mat and flowing through class also ups oxytocin, the “LOVE” hormone. It plays a role in sexual reproduction, sexual arousal and is released by the hypothalamus when you have an orgasm.

Yoga also balances Dopamine “the reward” hormone. A clinical research from the J. F. K. Institute in Denmark published in Cognitive Brain Research found that Yoga Nidra– a guided meditation that produces deep relaxation- increases level of dopamine in the brain by 65 % on average.

Practicing yoga also balances melatonin “Rest-Sleep-Heal”. Researchers at Rutgers University discovered that melatonin levels for meditation practitioners were boosted by an average of 98%. Incorporating meditation into your life can be your much needed physiological re-balancing tool.

Performing pranayama or simply breathing deeply activates the prefrontal cortex and that results in an increase in cognitive function.

Yoga also increases endorphin levels. Endorphins are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Endorphins are the body’s internal painkillers. Endorphins are known to cause euphoria, produce a feeling of pleasure, reduce stress, increase relaxation and are highly effective in pain modulation and management.

effects of yoga on hormones

Spending time on your yoga mat also improves GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter secretion. GABA is a known major inhibitor neurotransmitter in the brain. This chemical can cause some common problems like: anxiety, nervousness, phobias, restlessness, and insomnia. In 2010, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine found that a 12-week yoga intervention was linked with greater improvement in mood and anxiety and increased levels of GABA than a metabolically matched walking exercise.

Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs.

Effects of Yoga on the Cardiovascular System:

Deep breathing ignites the sympathetic nervous system, causing the heartbeat to slow and reduces blood pressure. Relaxation exercises found in yoga help increase blood flow throughout the body which also improves oxygen circulation in the body.

Many yoga flows can also increase your heart rate (like Ashtanga Yoga) may lower the risk of heart attack and relieve symptoms of depression. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. One study found that subjects who were taught only pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.

Effects of Yoga in the Respiratory System:

effects of yoga on the respiratory systemDeep breathing in yoga can increase lung capacity while reducing breaths per minute. It improves the supply of oxygen to the lungs.

With ‘Pranayama’ breathing exercise in yoga, you can increase your intake of oxygen up to five times. The more oxygen-rich blood that flows to the brain, heart, lungs and digestive organs will enable these organs to work better and further bolster one’s health. Moreover, deep breathing can help you to improve the flow of your lymph system thereby helping the body to get rid of toxins. And it is found to strengthen the diaphragm.

Even the use of chanting sounds such as chanting “Om” can even help soothe the sinuses.

Effects of Yoga in the Digestive System:

Yoga encourages the adrenal glands to produce less cortisol which can reduce cravings for fatty foods. Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol. This effect can reduce the risk of diabetic complications like heart attack, kidney failure and/or blindness.

Having a regular yoga practice also reduces stress, which can alleviate ulcers, IBS, and constipation, and other digestive problems. Yoga may also be a good method to help the movement of waste to move smoothly out of the body. However, there are some conditions for which using asana for exercise may not a good idea, such as severe cases of diarrhea or constipation, or for someone with an acute bout of pain related to their digestive disorders. In such cases, we recommended turning to other yoga tools, including stress management and relaxation.

Twisting poses can serve as an internal massage of the digestive tract. The massage effect ensures more blood and oxygen and strengthens the muscles of organs.

Asanas that affects the gastrointestinal tract:

  • Parivritta Trikonasa
  • Marichyasana
  • Setu Bandha Sarvagasana
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Utkatasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Balasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Apanasana

Static poses that strengthen and stretch the abdominal area help tone the abdominal muscles that house and support the majority of the organs of digestion and may assist in the movement of material through the system. Dynamic poses that fold, stretch and twist the abdominal area can improve blood and lymph circulation, and create a squeeze and release effect on your organs.

Yoga and its many practices have numerous benefits for the human: body, mind, and soul! What’s keeping you from getting on the mat? And if you already practice, please share in the comments how yoga has influenced your life!

 

Sources:

https://asmy.org.au/yoga/yoga-skeletal-system/

https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/good-bone

https://www.fireengineering.com/articles/fire_life/articles/2014/april/the-skeletal-system-the-yoga-way.html

https://www.gaia.com/article/3-ways-yoga-improves-your-joint-system-and-skeletal-structure

http://yogaforhealthyaging.blogspot.com/2016/03/how-yoga-helps-your-digestive-system.html

http://bahiranga.com/yoga-and-the-digestive-system/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/28/body-on-yoga_n_4109595.html

http://donthateyourguts.com/benefits-yoga-part-4-nervous-system-benefits/

https://dutchsmilingyogi.com/effects-yoga-on-respiratory-system/

http://www.organicauthority.com/this-is-how-and-why-a-yoga-practice-strengthens-your-nervous-system-and-brings-balance-back-to-your-body/

http://www.theyogamandala.com.sg/how-yoga-helps-in-the-respiratory-system/

https://www.mokshamantra.com/yoga-impact-on-hormonal-health-and-neurotransmitters/

https://medium.com/@RandoxHealth/what-happens-inside-your-body-during-yoga-practice-6deee1019c4

 

Rosalee Oxford

Rosalee Oxford is a passionate seeker of happiness and adventures. She just finished her 200 hr YTT with Ambuja Yoga as well as her 20 hr AYRx with Jen Healy. She’s on an ongoing quest to discover all the joys life has to offer and is excited to share her love for yoga with others. With this desire, when she’s not practicing yoga she’s either swimming, scuba diving, pole dancing, or chasing her brown goldendoodle around the house. Her classes are a combination of Hatha and Vinyasa flow that accommodates all skill levels."

Latest posts by Rosalee Oxford (see all)

    11 Important Questions to Ask Before Choosing Your Yoga Instructor Course

    Congrats! Embarking on a yoga teacher training course will absolutely change your life, and that’s why it’s so important to choose the right yoga instructor course for YOU. I have personally taken a handful of yoga teacher training courses that have ranged from really freakin’ awesome to ugh… what a waste of money, time, etc. I want to make sure you find the yoga instructor course that works best for you, your needs, your lifestyle, and your practice.

    Here are eleven questions you should definitely ask any yoga school before signing on the dotted line.

    1.) Is the yoga instructor course registered with the Yoga Alliance?

    yoga-teacher-training-course-meditation

    Yoga Alliance provides the minimum standard for which a Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher training must meet. The Yoga Alliance outlines a minimum number of hours to be spent on each topic: philosophy, anatomy, practicum, methodology, etc.

    I’ve heard horror stories where yoga instructors were duped into taking a yoga instructor course not registered with the Yoga Alliance and their teacher training fell way short.

    While Yoga Alliance isn’t a perfect organization, it does provide a bit of necessary accountability to instructors leading yoga teacher training courses.

    2.) Who are the lead yoga instructors? What’s their experience? What style(s) do they teach?

    yoga-teacher-training-trainees

    You will spend a LOT of time with your yoga instructors and your fellow yoga teacher trainees. I recommend chatting with the lead instructors before the teacher training begins. Find out what the lead yoga instructors are passionate about. What do they love to teach?

    If possible, you should take a class with the instructor before the teacher training. Do you actually enjoy their class? Would you like to teach the way they teach? Some instructors will invite you to take a class with them at a local studio or give you a video link to preview. Familiarize yourself with their teaching style and explore other styles too.

    What type of yoga will you be learning? Vinyasa? Iyengar? Bikram? Ashtanga? Restorative? Yin? Hatha? Integral? Kundalini? Make sure their teachings align with what you want to learn AND with what you want to teach.

    3.) Where is your yoga teacher training course located?

    yoga-teacher-training-course-location

    Will the training be in your hometown or abroad? Is the training held at a yoga studio, retreat center, or conference room? Will all of your class sessions be in the same place? Are portions of your yoga teacher training done online?

    What time of year is the yoga instructor course? Is it in the summer or winter? Is it during the rainy season or dry season? I personally wouldn’t throw out a yoga teacher training course just because it is in the offseason… you’re doing yoga and learning the whole time anyway, but if it’s important to you, then take note.

    4.) What are the expenses associated with your yoga instructor course?

    yoga-teacher-training-course-cost

    Typical 200 hour yoga teacher trainings cost between $2300 and $4500 USD. Sometimes these trainings are all-inclusive, other times it’s just the training that is included.

    There are often additional expenses associated with yoga teacher trainings. Examples of additional expenses include: books, manuals, private lessons for missed hours and registration with the Yoga Alliance.

    If the yoga teacher training course isn’t in your hometown, then you will also need to factor in accommodation, meals, and possibly flights.

    5.) What is not included in the training?

    yoga-teacher-training-course-required-reading

    Make sure you know exactly what is included and what is not included in your yoga teacher training.

    Also, note that your registration as a Yoga Alliance registered yoga instructor is typically not included in your course fees. The Yoga Alliance registration isn’t much, so don’t let that deter you from becoming a yoga instructor.

    Books are often not included either…. which is a good thing. You can often find used copies for cheaper online on Amazon or similar.

    If it’s a destination yoga teacher training, then accommodation and meals are frequently included, but not always. You might as well double check.

    6.) How many teacher trainees do they accept?

    yoga-teacher-training-course-class-size

    There are benefits to both larger and smaller yoga teacher trainings. In larger groups, you have an opportunity to connect with more like minded people and see more bodies in their yoga practice. In a smaller group you will receive more one-on-one time from your instructors, develop closer relationships with your classmates and have more time to practice teaching yoga. What do you value most? Choose accordingly.

    7.) How long will it take to become certified? What is required to receive certification?

    yoga-teacher-training-course-homework

    Some yoga teacher trainings are done in an intensive format, typically around three weeks long, others are spread out over a few months or even a year. All formats have their benefits. In an intensive you are fully immersed in the yoga lifestyle. In a longer training you have more time to integrate between sessions.

    Are there any additional papers or online classes that you will need to complete before you receive your certification? I didn’t look into this for my 300 hour yoga teacher training and I realized that I was going to have to essentially write a masters thesis to receive my certificate. Whoops! I learned my lesson.

    You will also likely be required to attend a certain percentage of class hours to reach the minimum requirement set out by Yoga Alliance. The lead instructors for your yoga course will also have their own standards of attendance.

    8.) What’s their policy on attendance, cancellation, etc.?

    yoga-teacher-training-attendance-policy

    Each yoga teacher training course will have different policies regarding attendance, cancellations, etc. Some teacher trainings allow you to make up time with private sessions (usually at a cost), extra book reports, or self-study.

    Know the yoga teacher training course’s policies. If you know the policies then you won’t be surprised when something does come up.

    9.) How much yoga experience is required to participate?

    yoga-teacher-training-experience

    Many yoga teacher training courses require you to have a minimum number of years or hours of practice under your belt. Some yoga instructor courses are more flexible on this requirement and some are more strict.

    A few courses may even require that you practice at their studio for a certain number of hours/months/years before acceptance into their yoga instructor course.

    10.) Will the program teach you how to modify for those with injuries? How to teach beginners? How to teach all levels?

    yoga-teacher-training-course-beginners

    No matter where you end up teaching after taking a yoga teacher training course, you will end up with beginners in your classes and you will end up having people with injuries in class too. It’s important, from a safety standpoint, to be able to teach both of these populations.

    11.) What are the yoga instructors passionate about teaching? How do they teach?

    yoga-teacher-training-course-anatomy

    Are the instructors passionate about teaching anatomy? Are they passionate about story telling, theme-ing, philosophy? Do they teach from their mat? Do they walk around the room? Do they demo? Do they use their hands? Do they use their voice to speed class up or slow things down? Do they teach pranayama and meditation? Do they teach the business of yoga?

    You should find out as much as you can! It’s okay to ask to see their syllabus too. You’re paying good money to enroll in their training, so they should be happy to answer your questions.

    I hope this blog post helps clear up some of your questions. I also recommend that you reach out to your yoga instructors in your community and ask them about their experience with teacher trainings. In hindsight, what would they have done differently?

    If you’ve read this far, you might be interested in checking out the Ambuja Yoga 240 hr. Intensive Yoga Teacher Training held in Bend, Oregon in August 2018. As always, Toni and I are happy to answer your questions.

    Have you already completed a yoga teacher training course? If yes, please share your experience below.

    Love and Light,

    Autumn