A Short History of Yoga in India

A Short History of Yoga in India

Yoga

Yoga is primarily a spiritual discipline that concentrates on subtle science that focuses on achieving harmony between an individual’s mind and body. The word Yoga first appeared in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda and is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means join or unite. According to the Yogic scriptures, the practice of Yoga leads an individual to the union of consciousness with that of universal Consciousness. It eventually leads to a great harmony between the human mind and body, man & nature.

Humble Beginnings

The practice of Yoga was started during the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. It was first mentioned in Rig Veda, a collection of texts that consisted of rituals, mantras, and songs which was mainly used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests. Yoga was slowly developed by Brahmans who eventually documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads that has over 200 scriptures.

Yoga in Vedas means a yoke. In some early writings, Yoga was mainly used in describing a warrior dying and transcending into the heavens while at the back of his chariot to the gods and the higher powers of being.

During the Vedic times, Vedic priests were generally self-disciplined and avoided any forms of indulgence instead; they performed sacrifices which were known as yajna and used poses that most researchers believe are the precursor of the kind of Yoga poses we use today in the modern world.

The Spread of Yoga

In the 3rd Century BCE, the word “yoga” became common in other religions like Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist writings. In Mahayana Buddhism, the practice of yoga for both spiritual and meditative use was known as Yogachara which consisted of eight significant steps of meditation called “insight”.

In the 5th century, yoga was meant for meditation and religious use, but not as a form of workout. At around the same time, the concept became even more established among the Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus. The first versions of yoga were meant for spiritual practices and revolved around several core values.

The first core value analyzed an individual’s perception and cognitive state while understanding the cause of suffering and eventually using meditation to solve the issue. The second core value focused on boosting consciousness, and the third was used as a way of achieving transcendence. The fourth value was full of mystery because it used Yoga to penetrate into other people’s bodies and act supernaturally.

Yoga later became widely valued because of the Indian nationalist movement as a way of building up pride and cultural identity. Surprisingly, the practice of Yoga was widely promoted by powerful families, institutions, and activities until India attained its independence in 1947.

Today, Yoga is practiced worldwide by millions of people in many forms and variations. At Replenish we focus on an ancient wisdom, modern living approach to Yoga. Join us in honoring the traditions of Yoga with a modern approach as we travel to India this November.

by Jul 12, 2018
The Benefits of Yoga in Nature

The Benefits of Yoga in Nature

Yoga

It is a fact that Yoga was born in the woods and came into existence by purely observing nature’s laws, the surrounding environment, animals and the balance between humans and the five elements. From various applications, yoga can take your workout anywhere, and it is better than being confined to your smelly, hot gym for hours. Yoga can be done anywhere! Parks, mountaintops, beaches and even your backyard. The following are the benefits of yoga in nature.

No Competition for Floor Space

It happens to most people, and you will realise that the Yoga class is packed with a lot of people and becomes a significant challenge during the warrior pose. However, when you take your mat outdoors, floor space becomes a non-issue. Placing your feet in the sand or grass is the best way of relieving stress, and establishing an earth connection. Besides, having direct contact with the earth reduces the risk of developing heart-related diseases and stress.

Get Inspiration

Our nature is filled with beautiful terrains, the atmosphere, plants and animals that can significantly inspire you during your workout. It is considering that Yoga poses and their names were derived from plants and animals. When you practice Yoga outdoors, it enables the yogi to symbolise the meaning of the pose while at the same time looking at what inspired the pose.

It’s Relaxing and Recharging

When you integrate walking meditation with yoga, you will manage to attain moments of clarity. If you enjoy yoga and look to experience something more profound, opt for eco-yoga. Besides, it helps those people who love practicing yoga outside have a connection with nature in a compelling way.

Feel Connected to Your Neighborhood

How best can you get connected to your surroundings while having a workout? Go practice yoga in nature.  You can practice Yoga in a park near your hood and enjoy the great experience accompanied by the syrinx of the birds. You will connect with other yogis, the city and the world around you in a unique way.

Be More Present

Did you know that when we get surrounded by nature, our senses get awakened?  Our ears can quickly pick up birds chirping within the surrounding and the warm breeze blowing around us. In addition to that, our skins will absorb the warmth directly obtained from natural heat waves. With our senses awakened, we become more present in our lives with little distractions.

Breathe In the Fresh Air

Yoga practice is mainly influenced by the awareness of your breath and synchronizing it to your movements. It makes a lot of sense to breathe in the freshest and purest air possible, and nature provides that in abundance. When we breathe in the fresh air especially when working out, its filled with oxygen that increases serotonin levels in the body.

Replenish has many outdoor yoga opportunities this summer, so join us outside for a beautiful yoga experience that will leave you renewed.

by Jul 10, 2018
The Value of Surrender

The Value of Surrender

Lifestyle

“Do the next right thing”

“Let Go, Let God”

“God always has a plan”

“Be still and know that I am God”  Psalm 46:10

 

My Thoughts on Surrendering

 

I have heard so many different phrases in my life offering wisdom with regard to surrender.  I quite probably have invited these comments due to a tendency to attach my energies in ways that offended others.   Deb Adele in The Yamas & Niyamas characterizes surrender as giving up the ego to a higher purpose, inviting us to pay attention to what life is asking of us.  To put it in even simpler terms, surrender is the practice of letting go.

 

Ego loves to tell us that we are God; that we are in control or ought to be.  Selfish, irrational thoughts and feelings can race through our minds obscuring our connection to a Higher Power and to one another.  

Surrender invites us to accept a possible higher, unselfish purpose to our being.   Dharma.  It encourages us to pay attention to the world around us and be willing to grow in a direction that may be more useful to life.  Surrender invites us to trust.  Metaphorically speaking, we are encouraged by the loving divine force to be as an acorn growing into an oak.  

We are asked to be actively involved and attentive to the stream of life in the moment, opening our hearts to what is.  Flow.    Selfless giving. Energizing joy.

Tamas Tapas Ahimsa:  Inertia Self Discipline Love

“Coming back to the mat” has become my new way to cope when life challenges me.  What this means to me is to quiet my racing mind with breath.  When I am teaching or doing a physical practice of poses, I invite relaxation into parts of the body with breath.   My mind quiets. I enjoy peace.  I emerge anew, no longer paralyzed. The mind body spirit connection of a yoga practice has been a beautiful gift to share.

“I.26   Unconditioned by time, Isvara is the teacher of even the most ancient teachers.

Surrender can give us certain knowledge of our interconnectedness with the rest of the world.   We all encounter teachers in our journeys. We may teach others as well. The connection and openness to one another benefit all.

“Although all knowledge is within you, and you need not get it from outside, somebody is still necessary to help you understand your own knowledge.  That is why a teacher, or guru, is necessary…  Union with God is the real Yoga.”  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Maybe it’s your first time doing yoga or perhaps you have been practicing for years – regardless, I invite you to join me in a class, workshop or retreat. We can practice what it means to truly surrender and discover our place and purpose in this world.

by Jun 29, 2018
Discovering Consciousness Through Soma Yoga

Discovering Consciousness Through Soma Yoga

Yoga

Discovering Consciousness Through Soma Yoga
By Sage Johnson

When our modern lives stress our bodies, we react in a myriad of ways. For example, working long hours at a computer can cause slumped posture, which in turn results in neck and shoulder pain, TMJ, carpal tunnel and a long list of other issues. Our bodies respond to this stress with unconscious reflexes that, when triggered continually, can cause habitual muscle contractions that can’t voluntarily release.

 

Somatic movement (or somatics), on the other hand, is performed consciously and with intention. It incorporates sensory motor awareness to recondition muscles with the goal of releasing habitual contractions. It is focused on the internal experience of the movement rather than its external appearance or result.

 

Soma yoga incorporates the principles of somatics with classic yoga asana in a practice that invites us to identify – and reverse – unhealthy or harmful movement patterns that have developed over time. Soma yoga is gentle, exploratory and conscious, focused on the internal experience of movement. Soma yoga can help:

  • Develop healthier movement patterns in order to let go of tension, reduce pain and increase mobility.
  • Unwind old stress-holding patterns in your body to unlock your body from chronic pain and increase your flexibility.
  • Change chronic tension patterns by realigning the body’s innate ability to self-correct to ease and efficiency.
  • Gain awareness of habitual moving, thinking and attention patterns; with awareness lies freedom.  
  • Expand your movement – and therefore, improve daily living – by releasing layers of involuntary holding patterns.
  • Strengthens the mind/body connection by building awareness and consciousness.

When our bodies function in the inherent brilliance intended they are limitless and empowered to heal themselves. Soma yoga is ideal for anyone interested in finding a more free, curious, and awake relationship with their interconnected mind/body/spirit.

Experience Soma Yoga in a special workshop series with Replenish guest instructor Angela Fulghum of Nomad Wellness.

by Nov 30, 2017
Your Brain on Meditation

Your Brain on Meditation

Yoga

LeBron James does it. So does the entire Chicago Cubs baseball team. Other well-known personalities such as Anderson Cooper, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Oprah, Steve Jobs, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, and Jennifer Anniston also have committed meditation practices. At its most basic, meditation is the ancient practice of mindful breathing and guided imagery used to clear the mind and find focus in the present. Its physical benefits are relatively well-known and accepted, from helping your body enter into a calm, relaxed state, to slowing respiration for longer, deeper breaths and boosting your immune system by slowing the production of the stress hormone cortisol. But did you know meditation has pretty mind-blowing psychological benefits, as well? Recent research has even shown how the ancient practice can actually change the brain.

End Monkey Brain
The Research: A study by Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the part of the brain responsible for mind-wandering, or “monkey mind.”
So What? Since mind-wandering is typically associated with unhappiness and increased worry, it’s good to dial it down. Through its mind-quieting effect, meditation appears to do just this.
Super-cool Factor: It’s been shown that meditation actually forms new connections in the brain, so even when faced with “monkey mind,” meditators are better at snapping back out of it.

Rival Antidepressants
The Research: A Johns Hopkins study looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Although the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3, it’s the same effect size for antidepressants.
So What? Although meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression (no treatment is), it can be used as one of the tools to help manage symptoms.
Super-cool Factor: Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not a whole lot of nothing, but rather an active form of brain training.

Change the Brain
The research: A Harvard study found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain.
So What? Eight weeks of practice increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and decreased volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress. These changes matched participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well.
Super-cool Factor: A follow-up study found that after meditation, participants’ subjective experiences – improved mood and well-being – seemed to be shifted through meditation as well.

Help Kids in School
The Research: Studies have confirmed the cognitive and emotional benefits of meditation for schoolchildren.
So What? A school district in San Francisco saw suspension decrease and GPA’s and attendance increase when they began offer twice daily meditation programs.
Super-cool Factor: In addition to yoga classes at more studios across the country, educators are starting to bring meditation into schools in lieu of, for example, detention.

Relating to Others
The Research: Studies have found meditation may be linked to increased activity in two areas of the brain involved in empathy.
So What? It appears that people who meditate regularly are better able to respond to the feelings of others and empathize.
Super-cool Factor: Not only are meditators more empathetic, they are better able to relate to others’ feelings without feeling overwhelmed.

Where to Begin
If you’re new to meditation or simply curious about how it works and its benefits, Christa Heibel is leading an Intro to Meditation workshop at the Replenish Yoga & Wellness studio in International Falls, MN on December 2, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. And, according to research, a little mindfulness can go a long way.

Deepak Chopra’s go-to 3-minute meditation to stay focused

by Nov 20, 2017