Karma Yoga – The Art Of Living

The ancient book of Gita, which is the treatise on the living has led a great stress on the karma. Karma is defined as the action and its fruits. Ancient Hindu saints have believed that a man’s life is the direct result of his karma. Good thoughts, words and deeds lead to good and happy life while bad thoughts, words and deeds lead a person to disaster. This has been postulated in the 18th century by Isaac Newton, who gave his law as “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

The branch of yoga that deals with karma is called as the karma yoga. Usually you are bound by the cravings and desires associated with your act but you can free yourself by doing the act but dissociating yourself from its consequences. This is the basic concept behind karma yoga and the person who follows this path is known as karma yogi. His behaviour is of indifference and while the world may think he is not interested, in reality he has mastered his desires and has developed awareness of the real significance of the events that occur around him.

This yoga involves doing your duty without any reservations but is free of the cravings of the results that are obtained from the act. This attitude is difficult to acquire because we are taught to hanker after the fruits of our labour and any failure to obtain the desired results leads you to frustration and negative thinking. Also, constant attachment to the results leads you to stress, competition and aggressiveness. This has led to increased incidences of stress, diabetes, depression, heart ailments and suicides and has led many youngsters to use drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Hence following the teaching of Krishna in Gita, wherein he advises Arjun: “You are entitled to an action but not its fruits” will lead you to a happy and stress free life.

A karma yogi realizes this and hence he follows the path of detachment. But this does not make him dull or inefficient. On the contrary, he channelizes his entire energy into the tasks at hand with complete vigour as his energy is not dissipated and gives it a best shot. Hence the results of his actions are the best and he gets good fruits. He does not run after pleasure but pleasure follows him. This makes him a pleasant person to be around and thus enjoys success in his life.

How To Perform Yogic Exercises

When you have decided to start with your yoga practice, it is imperative for you to learn how to perform a pose properly. Thus it is advisable for you to find a right teacher who will guide you in the correct manner of performing these poses. Since yogic exercises involve the static and isometric contraction of the muscles, where the muscles are held in a state of tension without causing the corresponding body part to move; it is important to note that the stretching or contraction of the muscles should not be done abruptly or suddenly. You should endeavour to reach the final pose as slowly as you can, so that there is a steady rise in the tension of the muscles. Always reach the final posture slowly through the intermediate postures. Master all these postures slowly one by one.

The movement of each body part should be done under complete control of the muscles exercised. This is achieved only after practicing for a certain period of time. There should be no jerks or violent movements. Each step should be executed easily, smoothly and gracefully. Initially, when you start learning the yoga, there is a tendency to use muscles not concerned with the specified movement. But over a period of time with due practice, you can eliminate the unproductive muscular activity. As you progress, you’ll learn to use only the specified muscles for contraction or stretching while the other muscles are kept relaxed.

Avoid rushing into the final position of any posture, unless you have thoroughly mastered the intermediate stages. Always proceed as far as you comfortably can and hold this pose for some time. This will train the required muscles in a few days and thus you can get smoothness and grace. Take caution not to overwork any muscles. Do not control or restrict your breathing. If you are sick or absent from your practice for a long time, start slowly and reach the previous level only after some time. At the end of the session, you should feel fresh and relaxed. You must experience the lightness and exhilaration at the end of every session.

You can adjust the duration of various techniques according to your capacity and there should be no exhaustion or tension.

Following all these practices will ensure you get a correct yoga session.

Mudras For Good Health

We present some brilliant, very effective and simple mudras, which you can practice anytime and anywhere:

• GYAN MUDRA – This is one of the most important mudras. It is widely used in all yogic meditation practices. Join the tip of forefinger to the tip of the thumb. Hold together gently for at least 15-30 minutes.

Advantages

• Increases intelligence and wisdom
• Purifies the mind of the practitioner
• Cures many mental problems
• Makes one joyful
• Cures intoxication and addictive habits

• PURN GYAN MUDRA – This mudra is known as the mudra of Lord Buddha, since it was propagated by him. Sit cross-legged. Keep both hands in ‘Gyan Mudra’ Posture. Now keep right hand near chest region. Keep left hand near knee region.

Advantages

• Clears the aura in the subtle astral body
• Causes electrical changes in the electromagnetic activity of the brain leading to increased clarity and understanding
• Improves memory to a great extent
• Soothes irritable temperaments
• Improves intelligence and wisdom

• ABHAYA MUDRA – This is normally practiced after Gayatri Mantra recitation. Raise both your hands to the sides of your head. Touch the forefinger to tip of thumb (just as you do in Gyan Mudra). Hold the hand vertically straight by the sides.

Advantages

• Makes your mind fearless
• Gives you a feeling of courage and strength

• DHYAAN MUDRA – Sit cross-legged. Place hands in Gyan Mudra, on your lap. Right palm should rest above left palm in Gyan mudra

Advantages

• Makes you tremendously peaceful and tranquil
• Helps in increasing concentration powers
• Cures depression and other mental ailments
• Practitioner can experience the final state of eternal yogic bliss

• PRITHVI MUDRA – Touch the fore part of third finger (ring finger) to the tip of thumb.

Advantages

• Helps balance the earth element in the body
• Normalizes body equilibrium
• Makes you physically stronger
• Increases tolerance and patience
• Helps practitioners of spiritual meditation

• VARUN MUDRA – Touch the fore part of the smallest finger to the fore part of thumb.

Advantages

• Regular practice balances water element in body
• Improves physical appearance
• Decreases dryness in skin and body

• VAYU MUDRA – Fold the index finger (fore finger) on the base of thumb. Press the forefinger gently on the pad. Keep the other fingers away.

Advantages

• Helps in all nervous ailments
• Improves balance of air element in body
• Helpful in pains and aches
• Recommended for patients of Cerebral Palsy and Parkinson’s ailments.

• PRAN MUDRA – Touch fore part of third (ring) finger and tip of fourth (little) finger to fore part of thumb.

Advantages

• Reduces body fatigue and thus energizing the whole body
• Improves eyesight
• Optimizes the circulation of the life current throughout the body

• MRITSANJIVINI MUDRA – Fold the index finger (fore finger) on the base of thumb. Press the forefinger gently on the pad. Touch the fore part of third (biggest) finger and fore part of fourth (ring) finger to the fore part of thumb.

Advantages

• Makes the heart stronger
• Very useful for people with heart ailments
• Helps normalize blood pressure
• Increases self-confidence

• SURYA MUDRA – Touch the third (ring) finger to the base of thumb. Press the thumb gently over this third (ring) finger. Keep the other fingers away.

Advantages

• Decreases Earth element in body
• Cures mental heaviness
• Reduces body fat
• Enhances weight loss

Aromatherapy For Beginners

The ancient science of healing, relaxing and energizing oneself with the use of plants and its parts like roots, barks, flowers, fruits, seeds and nuts is called Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the amalgamation of two words “aroma” and “therapy” that mean “fragrance” and “healing” respectively.

Essential oils, extracted from plants and its parts form the crux of aromatherapy. These oils stimulate the brain, effect our body, hereby improving our mood, relaxing and rejuvenating us. Extracted in various ways, they are highly concentrated and should not be used directly onto the body. They should be blended with carrier oils such as olive oil, sweet almond oil, etc, for best results.

If you are new, then explore this world of fragrance at home with a handful of inexpensive oils. To avoid allergic reactions to essential oils, perform a skin test before you indulge yourself. Take a drop of the oil on a cotton swab. Apply it to the inside of your wrist or inner elbow. Cover the area with a bandage and avoid washing for 24 hours. If there is no itching or redness, oil is safe for external use.

Basic oils that any beginner can start with:

– Lavender – Most basic and very important oil in aromatherapy. Helps in relaxation, calming and balancing of mind. Acts as antibiotic, antiseptic, antidepressant, detoxifier and sedative. Soothes cuts, burns, bruises and insect cuts. Relieves stress if blended with your usual bath oil.

– Rosemary – Acts as stimulant for mental health and physical body on low energy days. Relieves muscular strains, sprains and headaches. Alleviates fatigue, congestion and prevents scar tissue formation.

– Bergamot – Oil for refreshing and upliftment. Acts as antiseptic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, analgesic, sedative, expectorant and deodorizer. Could be a slight irritant to skin.

– Peppermint – A great mental stimulant and digestive aid. Eases headache and fatigue. Behaves as anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic and expectorant.

– Tea Tree – A versatile antiseptic that is very gentle on the skin. Remedy for infections, ringworm, sunburn, acne, athlete’s foot, gum disease. It is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic oil.

– Lemon – Great for dispelling a somber mood, lemon oil can be used to treat insect bites, alleviate tension, headaches and stimulate immune system.

– Tangerine – Works well to create a bright, uplifting atmosphere. It’s soothes and calms insomnia and promotes digestion.

– Floral oils – Great stress relievers. Add floral oils like rose, jasmine along with carrier oils to your bath oils for a soothing massage.

– Germanium – Eases stress, acts as antidepressant, adrenal, hormone balancer, detoxifier, sedative and antiseptic. Helps during PMS.

– Clary Sage – Relieves PMS. Soothes and relaxes mind and body. Works as antidepressant, antiseptic, astringent, aphrodisiac and sedative.

– Clove – Relieves toothache pain, asthma, sinusitis. Avoid using it directly on the skin. Acts as antibacterial, antiseptic, analgesic and disinfectant.

– Eucalyptus – Cools the body in summer and warms in winter. An effective treatment for candida, diabetes, sunburn, congestion, cough and neuralgia. Also works as antiviral, antiseptic, stimulant, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic.