The Sanskrit word, yuj, has several meanings, but when applied as the root word of yoga, it can mean two different things. The first is “to unite” or “to join” together. The second meaning is “concentration of the mind, in cessation of the modification of the thinking principle.”1
As most know, the practice of yoga is to help one unite the health of their body and mind. Yoga has many benefits; the most well-known can help improve focus, flexibility, balance, strength, posture, breathing, and more. We invite you to join us at the Osage Beach Library, starting January 4, at 6:30 pm, for weekly sessions of Hatha Yoga with Linda Garcia, a retired master-level yoga instructor. On the last Wednesday of each month, at 5:30 pm, Linda will discuss the following aspects of yoga: Yoga Nidra, Chakras, and Pranayama and Ayurveda.
Participants will need to bring their own yoga mat or towel. And will need to pre-register for this program as we have limited space. If you are interested in participating you may register at the Osage Beach Front Desk or by calling (573) 348 – 3282.
As with any exercise, discussing it with your doctor before taking on any new routine is always best.
A Quick History of Hatha Yoga
Of the many versions of yoga practiced in the United States, the most popular version is based on the practices of Hatha Yoga. Classical Hatha yoga was developed in the 15th C.E. and was brought to the Americas in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda as a spiritual practice. In the 1920s, Hansa Yoga in the West took on a transformation that focused more on the physical rather than the spiritual aspect by adding exercises popular at the time to asanas to create a style with more fluidity.
Richard Hittleman helped introduce yoga to millions in the 1950s with his popular T.V. program, “Yoga for Health.” The practice of yoga also gained another boost thanks to The Beatles and their spiritual advisor, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, combining transcendental meditation and yoga. Most associate Hatha Yoga with the physical and spiritual practice of mind-body health.
How Does Hatha Yoga Work?
The practice of Hatha Yoga focuses on posture and breathing, allowing us to channel vital energy. Sessions of Hatha Yoga could last as little as forty-five minutes or as long as ninety. At the Osage Beach Library, starting January 4 at 6:30 pm, our weekly sessions will last for ninety minutes. Linda Garcia will lead and engage participants in breathing, asanas (yoga poses), and meditation. She will also guide us in creating our yoga flow featuring and adapting asanas for all ages, levels, and physical abilities.
Health Benefits of Hatha Yoga3
|Back Pain||Cancer||Cardiovascular and Related Diseases|
|Increased muscle relaxation||Increased feelings of well-being||Reduced blood pressure|
|Improved muscle balance||Improved coping||Lowered resting heart rate|
|Increased spinal flexibility||Improved immune system function||Reduced heart rate|
|Reduced blood glucose levels|
|Reduced Stress||Reduced muscle tension||Reduced anxiety|
|Increased blood flow to tense muscles, helping promote relaxation||Increased Co2 from breathing techniques, promoting a sedative effect||Reduced severity of depression|
|Heightened body awareness and improved control of muscle tension||Increased ability to let go of worrisom, obsessive thoughts||Improved mood|
|Reduced stress and sleep disturbance|
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra literally translates to yogic sleep. Yoga Nidra is an ancient technique that allows the practitioner to enter a deep state of conscious relaxation. During a session of Yoga Nidra, the practitioner moves their awareness from external sources to their inner realm. At this time, we free our minds from the concepts of time, space, and reason. When we let go of these concepts, we experience a reduction in brain activity and allow our bodies to heal. One hour of Yoga Nidra gives the same benefit as four hours of sleep.
Some think that Yoga Nidra is the same thing as relaxation, and although it does provide a sense of deep relaxation, the practice of Yoga Nidra goes deeper than just relaxation. When we have had a difficult day, we usually go home and find something that helps us unwind, like reading, knitting, watching a movie, etc. Although we call this relaxing, they are a diversion, as we divert our thoughts from the unpleasant to something we find more pleasurable.
Ram Jain says that “proper relaxation is when the body, mind, and five senses are resting.”4 And relaxation is essential in helping our bodies repair and grow, essentially healing. While Yoga Nidra starts with relaxation, as your body goes deeper and turns from the external to the inner self, you are conscious and aware of your body, mind, and senses. Once we enter the actual state of Yoga Nidra, “our mental processes cease, our senses rest, and the mind becomes clear and calm.”4
Others think that Yoga Nidra and meditation are the same, too. But again, there is a difference between the two. When a person meditates, they are still conscious but are focusing their mind and allowing thoughts to come and go. In Yoga Nidra, the practitioner moves “from consciousness while awake to dreaming and then to not-dreaming while remaining awake – going past the unconscious to the conscious.”5
What are the Health Benefits Associated with Yoga Nidra?
Like any form of yoga or meditation, we experience many health benefits. As mentioned above, a one-hour session of Yoga Nidra is as beneficial as four hours of sleep. In addition to body rejuvenation, Yoga Nidra can help reduce stress, improve concentration and memory, and improve our autonomic nervous system (ANS).
On Wednesday, January 25, at 5:30 pm, Linda Garcia will dive deeper into the subject of Yoga Nidra, its benefits, and her experiences with Yoga Nidra.
At some point, you may have heard the phrase, “my chakras are blocked,” but what does that mean? What are chakras? What do they do? And can they be unblocked?
What are chakras?
Let’s first start with translating the Sanskrit word chakra; in English, it translates to wheel or cycle. Chakras cannot be seen or touched in a physical sense as they are a part of our astral body, but many believe that they run along our spine, starting at the base of our spine and running to the crown of our head. There are seven main points or chakras along our spine, and each point coincides with a gland in the physical body. Each chakra radiates a specific color, and five of the seven correspond to an earthly element.
What are the main seven chakras, the characteristics of a blocked chakra, and the signs of a balanced chakra?6
Muladhara Chakra – Root Chakra, located at the base of the spine and is characterized by the emotions of survival, stability, ambition, and self-sufficiency. This chakra is associated with the color red and the earth element. When this chakra is blocked, a person may feel unstable and ungrounded, experience a lack of ambition, and even feel fearful, insecure, and frustrated. When the Root Chakra is in balance, that person may experience more positive emotions, a feeling of stability, confidence, balance, independence, and strength.
Svadhishthana Chakra – Sacral Chakra, located in the lower abdomen, about four fingers below the navel. This chakra is associated with the color orange and the element of water. When this chakra is blocked, a person may become emotionally explosive and irritable and experience a lack of energy, creativity, and manipulation. When the Sacral Chakra is balanced, a person may experience vibrancy, positivity, happiness, satisfaction, compassion, and intuition.
Manipura Chakra – Solar Plexus Chakra, located at the solar plexus, between the navel and the bottom of the rib cage, is associated with the color yellow and the fire element. The Solar Plexus Chakra characterizes ego, anger, and aggression. When this chakra is blocked, a person may feel physical problems with their digestive system, liver, or diabetes. They may also struggle with low self-esteem, anger, and perfectionism. We can feel more energetic, confident, productive, and focused when in balance.
Anahata Chakra – Heart Chakra, located in the heart region, is the seat of balance, as it is midway between the lower and upper chakras. It is associated with love, compassion, trust, and passion, represented by the color green and the air element. When the Heart Chakra is imbalanced, a person may experience anxiety, jealousy, fear, lack of trust, and moodiness. When this chakra is in harmony, we may feel more compassionate, motivated, friendly, and optimistic.
Vishuddha Chakra – Throat Chakra is located at the throat’s base and coincides with the thyroid gland. The color blue and the space/ether element represent it. The Throat Chakra is associated with inspiration, healthy expression, faith, and the ability to communicate well. When imbalanced, a person may experience timidity, quietness, weakness, or an inability to express their thoughts. When in balance, a person may feel a sense of satisfaction and be able to self-express positively, constructively communicate, and enable creativity.
Ajna Chakra – Third Eye Chakra is located between the eyebrows and is used in asana practice as a focal point for developing concentration and awareness, and is represented by the color indigo. This is the first of two chakras that do not have an element. Some of the attributes of the Third Eye Chakra are intelligence, insight, self-knowledge, and intuition. When unbalanced, a person may feel the physical effects of headaches/migraines, blurry vision, and eye strain. When adequately balanced, we may find ourselves feeling more vibrant and confident.
Sahastrara Chakra – Crown Chakra is located at the crown of the head, is associated with the color violet-white, and is not associated with an element. The Crown Chakra is the center of spirituality, enlightenment, and dynamic thought and wisdom. One might feel constantly frustrated, melancholy, and destructive when imbalanced. However, when balanced, a person gains a sense of inner peace and a clearer world perspective.
Linda will go more in-depth on chakras, poses used to help unblock them, and how they all work together to promote a sense of well-being on Wednesday, February 22, at 5:30 pm, at the Osage Beach Library.
Pranayama & Ayurveda
Pranayama7 & 8 is the breathing practiced in yoga and is believed to help detoxify your body. There are three phases, puraka (inhalation), kumbhaka (retention), and rechaka (exhalation), in a pranayama cycle. In addition to the three phases, there are many different pranayama practices. Some of the more popular ones are Bhastrika pranayama (bellow breath), Kapal Bhati pranayama (skull shining technique), Nadi Shodhan pranayama (alternate nostril technique), and Bhramari pranayama (bee breath). Some benefits of practicing pranayama include improved cognitive functions, increased lung capacity, mindfulness, lower stress levels, lower anxiety levels, a reduction in hypertension, and the management of psychosomatic disorders.
Ayurveda, translated from Sanskrit, means knowledge of life and is based on the thought that “disease is due to an imbalance or stress in a person’s consciousness, “9 & 10 and Ayurveda is used to “regain a balance between the body, mind, spirit, and the environment.”9 & 10 Ayurveda relies on natural and holistic approaches to heal a person physically, mentally, and emotionally. Under this philosophy, three doshas (life forces) constitute a person’s constitution: Vata dosha, pitta dosha, and Kapha dosha.
Vata dosha is thought to control the movement between your mind and body and determines your flexibility, blood flow, and breathing.
Pitta dosha is linked to your digestive system, hormones, and metabolism.
Kapha dosha is considered the element that holds everything together. Essentially it is the glue of life, from a person’s cells to their muscles and their bones to ligaments, and is known for endurance and lubrication.
Linda will discuss pranayama and Ayurveda more in-depth at the Osage Beach Library on Wednesday, March 29, at 5:30 pm.
1: Prabhupada. “Look up a Sanskrit Word.” Best Sanskrit Dictionary, https://sanskritdictionary.org/.
2: Iyengar, B.K.S., Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom. Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2005.
3: Markil, Nina M.S., ACSM CES, RYT; Geithner, Christina A. Ph.D., FACSM,ACSM H/FS, RYT; Penhollow, Tina M., Ph.D., CHES, “HATHA YOGA: Benefits and Principles for a More Meaningful Practice.” ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal: September 2010 – Volume 14 – Issue 5 – p 19 – 24.
4: Jain, Ram. “What Is Yoga Nidra – Explanation & Benefits: Arhanta Yoga Blog.” Arhanta Yoga Ashrams, 5 Dec. 2022, https://www.arhantayoga.org/blog/what-is-yoga-nidra/.
5: Fenneld. “What Is Yoga Nidra?” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 14 Sept. 2020, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-yoga-nidra/.
6: Jain, Ram. “Complete Guide to the 7 Chakras: Symbols, Effects & How to Balance: Arhanta Yoga Blog.” Arhanta Yoga Ashrams, 16 Nov. 2022, https://www.arhantayoga.org/blog/7-chakras-introduction-energy-centers-effect/
7: Nunez, Kirsten. “Pranayama Benefits for Physical and Emotional Health.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 May 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/pranayama-benefits
8: “Practicing Pranayama: Facts and Benefits of the Yogic Practice.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-pranayama.
9: “Ayurveda.” Ayurveda | Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2 Dec. 2019, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/ayurveda.
10: Bigleyj. “What Is Ayurveda and Does It Work?” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 10 June 2022, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-ayurveda/.