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by Turtledragon
Lammas 2002, Vol 1-4
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Yoga is a gentle practice for the body and mind -- it is simply slow stretching while in a meditative state. Your breathing is even and deep. Your mind is at rest. Your body can tell you which way it would like to move or needs to stretch if you learn to listen to it.

Consider getting a book to learn some simple yoga stretches, or take a yoga class so that you can learn the techniques properly. Find a teacher who is gentle and respectful of your body and needs, one who does not push you to do more than you are ready to do.

Once you've learned some basic techniques, you can adapt yoga activities to your own needs and schedule. When working solo, be slow and gentle with your body when stretching. Always breathe deeply, and when you reach an area that needs to be stretched, move very slowly and stay relaxed. You are not stretching for a marathon, and you don't need to stand on your head. You have nothing to prove. This is not a time to pretend that you are an experienced yogini who has practiced for years. Instead of "seeing how far you can go," just release the tensions in your body and "hang there" into the stretch. It is not about how deep you can go into a split, and it is not a competition. Yoga is something that you do in solitude for yourself and your body. It is a time that you give to yourself so be gentle with your body. Smile to it lovingly and thank it for all it does for you.

Let your body make the noises that it needs to make. There is no need to be embarrassed about normal body functions. This is just a sign that the body is releasing "sick winds". If your neck or knees make noises, don't be alarmed. Calcium deposits collect in the joints and when you circle them there are normal sounds that occur while these deposits are being broken up. If it hurts, however, listen to and respect your body and stop or go very slowly, gently and softly, making micro-movements, floating the joint around. Do what feels right to you and helpful for your body.

As you circle your joints, or imagine circling them, place good energy into the joint. Imagine that a warm glowing golden light energy is entering the joint and healing it. See the good energy grow stronger and brighter, warmer, healing every part of you. See your bones, muscles and organs as perfect. You can even imagine this golden energy as being a soft cushion like a pillow. Place the pillow between the bones of your joints, between each vertibrae, around the spinal cord and brain, around each of your organs, etc. This energy acts like a cartilage shock absorber, makes room in the joint, and strengthens, heals and protects all the parts of your body. Imagine the warm energy inside of and all around the joint, and parts of your body and aura strengthening and protecting it. (This is chigong. You can combine more than one technique for more effectiveness.)

If you are not used to stretching or exercising you might notice that areas are tense or stiff. Just take your time and go slowly and lightly. These areas may need to be gently worked over a period of days or weeks in order to loosen. Be gentle with your body and it will learn to trust you and relax more. You can do simple yoga poses almost anywhere, like a modified form of the tree pose, with both feet connected on the ground, the knees slightly bent, and the back straight, with your body gently stretching toward the sky. Imagine that you are a flower, or tree, rooted in the earth, drawing energy from it, and growing upward. As you grow, gently feel yourself straighten up and grow taller.

This may seem far fetched, but we all know that as we get older we tend to "shrink." Due to the effects of gravity we find ourselves slouching and slumping more and more and tightening our bodies. Work with yoga stretches to let your body expand and give room for all your joints, bones, muscles, organs and organs. If standing poses are difficult for you, yoga stretches done while lying down can be very effective. Just allow your legs, arms and back to straighten and lengthen, naturally. Remember, if it hurts, it's no longer beneficial.

Find some mini stretches that you can do when you are waiting in line, or taking a break at your desk. If you can, spend a couple minutes each day at work to simply close your eyes and breathe. You might be able to do this at your work station, but if you have to, excuse yourself and go into the bathroom to do it. Mudras, "hand yoga," provide simple ways to do yoga at your desk...or in line at the supermarket. If all you can do every day is spend a few minutes breathing deeply each day, this simple act will have healing, enriching benefits for mind, body and spirit.

Graphics Credits
+ yoga, courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live

Further Resources
+ Hatha Yoga
, free lessons, very extensive
+ Kundalini Yoga- free lessons online
+ Yoga postures step by step
+ Yoga poses
+ Yoga intro in real audio
+ Yoga Everywhere -- Simple and practical guide to yoga, at work and at home
+ Christian Yoga
+ SpiritWeb: Paths of Yoga -- A directory of introductions on: Yanta, Karma, Agni, Krija, Sahaja, and Matra Yoga, sutras, Body/Mind integration... you can really get lost in here. This is really just to explore. These just give you a taste of each style.

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