Living the practice of yoga in your everyday life
To live a yoga lifestyle is more than just attending a yoga class once a week.
In fact, although yoga asanas is beneficial to the body, not much will be gained from such a small amount of practice. To truly make progress upon one's spiritual path a daily Sadhana, or spiritual practice, is a must! A
daily spiritual practice is only way to bring the fastest results to self-realization, as it allows time daily into which
we can devote ourselves to connecting with spirit and our higherselves.
Three main aspects in maintaining a yoga lifestyle are as follows:
Yama and Niyama - The first & second parts of the eight fold yoga path of Patanjali
Asana and Pranayama - daily physical and breathing exercise
Right Diet - Sattvic Foods (pure, simple wholesome foods)
As an aspirant or Sadhaka (one who practices Sadhana), who wishes to gain a higher understanding of yoga and decides to incorporate yoga into their lives, the first thing that must be accomplished is developing a daily
routine. This routine will be different for each person depending on worldly circumstances, such as one living
a householders life with children or a student that attends classes.
Of course the fastest results can be obtained by one who can devote their whole time and day to the practice of yoga and a daily routine. However for anyone looking to start a program of Sadhana, writing out a daily
routine and then following this outline with resolve and dedication will bring about great progress for the
Sincerity and regularity in Sadhana are the secrets of success in the spiritual path!
A simple daily routine of 4 steps should be planed as follows:
1. Rise up during the ambrosial hours
Get up at 4:00 AM daily. This is Brahmamuhurta which is extremely favourable time for doing Sadhana or yoga. All major parts of your spiritual practice should be done during this period from 4:00 AM until 6:00 or
7:00 AM. Devoting this time to your daily Sadhana will give quick and maximum results. Why so early in the
morning one may ask or others may say that time is to early that it can not be done? The yogic scriptures
calls this time the ambrosial hours, the 2 1/2 hours before the rising of the sun, the time at which the
connection to God can be the greatest and easiest to obtain. It is in these hours that the auric protection is
strongest and prana, the basic life force of consciousness, concentrates. Physical cleaning of the body
through asanas is accomplished more easily in these ambrosial hours than the rest of the day.
Another benefit is that the rest of the world and household is still asleep so there is less noise and disturbance to interfere with your meditation and yoga practice. If you are not accustom to waking up at such an early
hour, start training yourself by setting your clock a little earlier each day until you a met the goal. At first this
may seem hard to do, however, by doing your spiritual work and yoga exercises first thing upon waking it will
prepare you with energy and willpower to take through the rest of your day! Plus there will be no excuses to
put for this important work until later, which in fact, will most likely be forgotten as the day becomes busier.
Though many challenges may come to stop your early morning yoga practice, as you conquer each one, you will build willpower, your confidence, and the ability to connect with your higher self and
In the beginning, the conscious effect and willpower it takes to start a daily routine may seem like a
negative action. It will impose discipline at the cost of some other activities such as sleep,
or staying up to watch a movie, etc.
However, you must ask yourself this one question... Are you willing to act and think in your higher consciousness, or do you wish to hang on to your old patterns and identity even
2. Yogic morning cleansing routine
Each morning start with a cleansing routine
to aid in purifying the body before beginning your daily Sadhana - which is for purifying the mind and spirit.
As one approaches the divine, the body should be cleaned, dressed in fresh clothes, and a sacred space provided for your spiritual practice and meditation.
Purity of body helps to bring purity in thoughts, action, and deeds.
Please follow the above link for in depth details about yoga daily cleansing routines
3. Meditation and Japa
The fruit of concentration is meditation,
the fruit of meditation is realisation,
the fruit of realization is liberation
4. Asana and Pranayama
Always cleanse the body first and then the mind and last the spirit. Sat Nam!
Yogic Morning Daily Cleansing Routine
Each morning start with a cleansing routine to aid in purifying the body before beginning your daily Sadhana - which is for purifying the mind and spirit.
As one approaches the divine, the body should be cleaned, dressed in fresh clothes, and a sacred space provided for your spiritual practice and meditation.
Purity of body helps to bring purity in thoughts, action, and deeds...
Make all your actions of the day in the service of the Lord!
1. Morning elimination
2. Mouth Cleansing
3. Nasal Cleansing
4. Cold Shower
As you awake from the nights sleep, do not jump right out of bed a begin moving around. Take a moment to stretch out the body giving time for all those tight muscles to awake along with your mind. Take a few
deep breaths also to help awaken the lungs and brings oxygen to the blood. Open your eyes slowly to
allow them to adjust to the light.
Now your ready to get out of bed, do this by rolling over on your side a slowly lifting yourself up with the help of your arms and elbows. At any time during rising from a prone position, never allow your spine to
take all the weight of your body or strain.
This simple practice will help to keep your spine in better shape!
Next head to the bathroom to start your morning cleansing routine...
~ First thing is to eliminate any waste by heeding the calls of nature, including evacuating the bowels. Try even if this is not your normal routine to go first thing in the morning, your habit will change as time goes by.
This aids in removing waste to allow kundalini energy to flow up the spine, from the first chakra, as you are in
meditation and asanas. If there is waste in your bowels, the energy will have a harder time moving upwards.
Also, check the condition of your stool and urine. Your stool should float, which means that your body has
completely processed the nutrients from the food that you ate the day before. If your stool sinks or stinks
excessively, then something is wrong, either with your diet (to much processed food or meat) or with your
digestive system. You can check on the health of your kidneys by the colour of your urine. It should be a
golden colour or lighter.
~ Second is to cleanse the mouth and tongue, not only for whiter teeth, but for your health, too. There is a yoga recipe for oral hygiene: take two parts powered Potassium Alum mixed with one part salt and use like a
tooth powder to brush your teeth and more important your tongue! You can obtain potassium alum and salt
mixture from our store, click here. Why follow this practice?
During the night our mouths turn into an incubator for a host of different bacteria and germs. If you do not cleanse the tongue and mouth first thing upon waking you will swallow many germs and bacteria when you take
your first drink of water. Which is like introducing poison into your body, so please help to keep yourself
disease free by following this simple solution. Make sure to reach all the way back and clean the tongue until
you gag and cough up the brown mucus that is hidden back there. These germs and bacteria not only form
on the tongue but on two little glands at the back of the throat that need to be cleaned of mucus, too. Making
yourself gaga has the added benefit of causing the eyes to water, which in turn, helps to flush and cleanse
them out. You may follow this brushing your teeth with your favorite toothpaste as the alum is a little bitter, but
~ Third step is Jala Neti or water nasal cleansing, the purpose is to cleanse the nose and sinus passages.
To do this you will have to acquire a special ceramic pot, called a Neti pot. The neti pot is filled with lukewarm water and about a teaspoon of organic sea salt is added and mixed thoroughly. The neti pot is brought up to
one nostril, closing it off, and the head is tilted to the side to allow the saltwater solution to pour from the
closed nostril through the opposite one. Air may also be drawn through the open nostril and expelled through
This aids in removing mucus and build up from the sinus and nostrils and helps to keep the nasal area clear for doing pramayama and breath work and is an essential prerequisite for meditation, too. It is very beneficial
in helping to relive sinus infections and other conditions in the upper respiratory areas.
Nasal cleansing exerts a profound physiological effect on the body and mind. On the physical level, irrigation of the nasal mucosa removes accumulated mucus from the nostrils, associated passages, and sinuses. This
allows air and breath to flow unobstructed through the subtle channels, the Ida and pingala. The regular
practice of neti maintains healthy secretory drainage mechanisms of the entire ear, nose, and throat areas.
The physical effects are the reduction of colds, hay fever, tonsillitis, and sinus infections. The subtle effects
are the increased ability to preform breathing exercises or pramayama and helping to maintain balance
between the right and left nostrils. Your breathing changes between the right and left nostrils ever two and a
half hours, so keeping the nasal passages clean and clear helps to maintain this balance and flow. Overall it
helps to induce a state of harmony and balance throughout the entire central nervous system, Ida and pingala
channels, and the systems governing respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and excretory functions.
Therefore, yogis begin their practice of yoga by doing Jala Neti, which ensures the desired condition for regulating breath flow. Jala neti is also responsible for the stimulation of the pituitary gland in the brain, which
is of tremendous significance in yoga.
This stimulation awakens the energy center behind the forehead called the Ajna Chakra.
This energy center must be sufficiently stimulated for higher states of meditation.
~ Forth and final step in yoga cleansing is one that many people new to a daily yoga practice find the most difficult -
the COLD SHOWER!
This is one step that is mind over ego for sure and one of the best things that can be done for overall health. Before you step into the
shower, you'll first want to oil your body with a little almond oil. You
may also add essential oils of your choice to the almond oil to bring
about a desired effect. This is also the time to preform a daily
massage especially if your Dosha type recommends it.
If you have slow circulation, a self massage in the morning will aid in simulating the blood and muscles and helps to move lymph through the body. The almond oil helps to nourish the body through the skin as almonds
contains many minerals which will be absorbed through the skin.
The oil also provides a layer of protection from the cold water, GO FOR IT!The effect and benefits of the cold shower are many. First and foremost is the effects of hydrotherapy, which some people pay hundreds of
dollars for treatments, which you can do daily at home. As the cold water hits your skin the blood that has
been dormant all night now rushes to the surface to protect and warm the skin. This improves your circulation
on the spot and opens all the small capillaries that can become blocked by sluggish blood movement. The
cold yoga shower also strengthens your nervous system and stimulates the lymphatic system. Helping to
move the lymph out of the body.
Start by slowly moving into the water stream by starting with one arm then the other, then one leg and the other. As the water hits your body rub yourself to stimulate the skin and nerves. Now bring the rest of the
body into the stream of cold water letting the water hit the chest and turn around finish off with the back. You'll
want to go in and out of the water 3 to 4 times, each time staying under the stream, until the water does not
feel cold any longer. Make sure to get under the arms, major nerve and lymphatic centers, and inner thighs,
and also the bottom of your feet. Women, make sure to massage your breast. It may seem strange but taking
a cold shower will warm your body up and make your skin glow! Taking a cold shower not only promotes good
circulation, healthy skin and internal organs it aids in building a strong,
protective electro-magnetic field.
You now have your first victory of the day!
Now dry yourself off by briskly rubbing your skin until it is red and glowing; put on loose clean exercise clothes, and you are ready to do your morning Sadhana.
Notes on cold showers:
For women there are a few exceptions to the rules...
No cold showers during your monthly moon cycle and no cold showers after the 7th month of pregnancy.
For men, one should limit the amount of cold water to the sexual organs by either wearing cotton shorts, swim trunks, or covering the area with a free hand.
Also, do not put the crown of the head under the cold water or expose the inner thighs to long direct spray.
If you like taking hot showers, that's fine, however do this at night so that the relaxing effects may be felt and allow you to sleep more soundly. Most people wish it energize themselves in the morning to ready themselves
for the day, work, etc. Taking a hot shower in the morning will only relax you, make you tired, and wishing for
more coffee. Causing effects we wish to avoid.
Now that your body is cleansed, you are awake and full of energy it is time to sit and start your Sadhana! With practice you will find this routine very helpful to the enhancement of your spiritual growth and ability to meditate.
Always cleanse the body first and then the mind and last
HERBAL CARE of TEETH AND GUMS
We'll have to operate, but we may yet save some of your teeth. It's expensive and painful, but there's no other choice." That was the dentist's final opinion.
Sat Darshan, 53, of Yadkinville, North Carolina, had serious gum disease, brought on, in his words, by a "history of poor oral hygiene, a lifetime of late night sweets, and decades of smoking." His gums were painful and bleeding, and his teeth wiggled in their sockets.
Never one to take a crisis sitting down, Darshan began to explore natural alternatives. His first stop was Bastyr University Naturopathic Clinic in Seattle, Washington. His naturopathic physician recommended daily doses of Coenzyme Q10 to stabilize the gum tissue, and a few basic lifestyle changes. These measures slowed the degeneration, which provided some hope.
Darshan's actual recovery started when he sought out herbal therapy as a last resort. On the advice of a herbalist, Darshan began a regime of nightly gum packs made from herbs rolled in gauze, which he tucked into the corners of his mouth. A combination of turmeric, aloe, willow bark, vitamin E, and powdered alum did the trick. He rapidly noted a "significant turnaround," and by the four- month mark was out of crisis.
Darshan's periodontist concurred. Following therapy, which also included dietary supplements and brushing his teeth with a mixture of powdered alum and salt, the his teeth were more solid in his mouth, and he avoided any extractions. Now, four years later, Darshan still has no significant periodontal disease, just a couple of spots, which is quite normal for a man his age. Even though Darshan's results were dramatic, he emphasizes that it "didn't just happen. It took a tremendous amount of effort and some discomfort" to save his teeth.
Natural Dental Care
Contrary to popular belief, your teeth are designed to last a lifetime. Even so, an increasing percentage of Americans wear dentures. According to the dental profession, between 80 and 90 percent of our population has some observable gum disease.
Taken together, tooth cavities (dental caries) and gum (periodontal) disease, create a painful condition that causes tooth loss and is expensive to correct. Americans spend more than $40 billion a year to treat and slow the degeneration of their dental health.
Dental disease has a reciprocal effect with overall body health. If you're over stressed and generally unhealthy, your immune system will be suppressed and dental caries, caused by bacteria, will flourish. If your mouth is unhealthy, especially with gum disease, it overloads your health every moment of the day, lowering your resistance to all disease.
A clean mouth is a healthy mouth. As the saying goes, "clean only the teeth you want to keep." In addition to conventional care, the main way to keep your mouth clean is to eat a sugar-free, natural foods diet. The bacteria that cause dental caries (Streptococcus mutans) thrive on sugar.
Natural Tooth Brushing
Since tooth brushing is the most basic process in oral care, it's a good place to start your natural tooth and gum care program. Traditional peoples the world over use natural tooth brushes made from healing plants. These primitive twig "brushes" actually work quite well, and provide a natural-bristle, disposable brush with healing herbs already incorporated right in the plant. Children find them particularly fun.
Herbalist Lesley Tierra, L.Ac., in her excellent book The Herbs of Life (Crossing Press, 1992), suggests that "the twigs contain volatile oils which stimulate blood circulation, tannins that tighten and cleanse gum tissue and other materials, such as vitamin C, which maintain healthy gums. Bay, eucalyptus, oak, fir, and juniper all work well for this." In Asia, people often use twigs of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica).
In The New Holistic Herbal (Element, 1983), noted British herbalist David Hoffmann suggests using the roots of marshmallow, licorice, alfalfa, or horseradish. (See "Head Popping Horseradish," page 52 for more information.) Of course, most of us will brush with a more modern, nylon-bristle brush.
Herbal medicine abounds with great substitutes for store-bought toothpaste. Most effective natural tooth powders are warming, which promotes circulation in the gums; astringent, which tightens the gums; and detoxifying, which removes debris. Of course any preparation should also remove plaque.
A classic Ayurvedic combination contains two parts powdered potassium alum, an astringent, and one part powdered salt. Prickly ash bark is a classic toothpowder from North America, and myrrh gum is widely used in Middle Eastern herbalism. Tea tree oil (very dilute) stimulates circulation and kills germs, and Leslie Tierra recommends a macrobiotic preparation of the ash of the calyx of the eggplant, which she says will cure "any toothache, pyorrhea, and other mouth and gum disorders."
And while you're concentrating on brushing and flossing, don't overlook the fact that cleaning the tongue is a critical part of maintaining oral health. Ayurveda, in particular, emphasizes this daily practice. Brush your tongue while brushing your teeth, or use a tongue scraper, which you'll find in most health food stores. Tongue cleaning reduces bad breath, and helps prevent plaque.
General Mouth Care
Most herbalists and natural healers recommend using warming, astringent, connective-tissue-healing herbs to enhance and maintain oral health. These herbs can be used as a rinse or applied as packs (a pinch of powder, wetted to a mush with a liquid such as water or vitamin E, and tucked next to the teeth). Rinses are made by preparing a herb as tea in the usual way, or by simply stirring herb powder into water. Hold the rinse in the mouth for a few seconds or up to several minutes, gargle, and spit out. Michael Tierra, O.M.C., L.Ac., in "Planetary Herbology" (Lotus, 1988), suggests that a daily mouth wash made from chaparral will prevent dental caries. Ayurvedic herbalist Melanie Sachs, in "Ayurvedic Beauty Care" (Lotus, 1994), suggests a gum massage with a mixture containing five parts alum powder, two parts rock salt powder, three parts black pepper powder, and one part turmeric root powder. In The "Traditional Healers Handbook" (Healing Arts, 1988), Hakim Chrishti, N.D., suggests a gum pack made from rose petal, oak leaf, and carob powder.
The Ayurvedic herb, amla, is a general rebuilder of oral health. Dr. Vasant Lad, a noted Ayurvedic proponent, suggests this fruit in his Yoga of Herbs (Lotus, 1986). Amla works well as a mouth rinse, or one to two grams per day can be taken orally in capsules for long-term benefit to the teeth and gums.
Herbs such as amla that support the healing and development of connective tissue when taken internally will always benefit the gums. Just remember that since they must saturate the whole body in order to work on the gums, the healing effect of these tonics tends takes longer to become apparent. The results, however, are more lasting.
Bilberry fruit and hawthorn berry stabilize collagen, strengthening the gum tissue. Licorice root is a gem for the mouth: It promotes anti-cavity action, reduces plaque, and has an antibacterial effect.
The tooth sockets are joints, and the teeth are essentially bones. Herbs that treat the skeleton and the joints when taken internally are good bets for long-term tooth health. Standouts include yellow dock root, alfalfa leaf, cinnamon bark, and turmeric root.
Like the case we discussed earlier, Mrs. I, of Boulder, Colorado, knows the misery of gum disease. At age 45, she was making monthly pilgrimages to the periodontist to save her sore, bleeding gums. These sessions were necessary, but quite painful, and she had grown to dread them.
After 15 years of this misery, she committed to trying herbal medicine. Turmeric capsules, goldenseal rinse, and nightly packs of a paste of turmeric powder, licorice root, and vitamin E solved her problem. She began the program only two weeks before one of her regular periodontal appointments, and her dentist said her gums were in the "best condition ever."
Periodontal disease (PD) is a long-term, low-grade bacterial infection of the gums, bone, and ligaments that support the teeth and anchor them in the jaw. The bacteria are normal inhabitants of the mouth, but when allowed to overgrow, they form plaque and tartar, and produce toxins that provoke the body's immune response. When allowed to progress, the disease destroys the supporting structures of the teeth, which eventually leads to tooth loss.
PD occurs at any age. More than half of all people over 18 have some form of the disease. After age 35, over 75 percent of all people are affected. PD is a major, if not leading, cause of bad breath in American adults and is clearly the leading cause of tooth loss. Diabetes in particular drastically increases the risks.
In my experience, whole body healing along with local gum treatment can dramatically reverse PD. Turmeric mouth packs, specifically, work outstandingly well.
Holistic dentist Victor Zeines, DDS, has spent 20 years developing a herbal mouthwash for PD. A preliminary study showed that, used twice a day, his herbal rinse reduced plaque by 50 percent and reduced gum pockets by 1 to 2 mm, and decreased bleeding. His formula contains extracts of echinacea, goldenseal, calendula, aloe, bloodroot, and grapefruit seed. Similarly, David Hoffmann likes to use tinctures of echinacea, eucalyptus, and myrrh as washes, or a gum massage with the oil of eucalyptus to treat PD.
Commonly called "canker sores," these mouth ulcers can be supremely painful. Jonathan Wright, MD, of Kent, Washington, says that canker sores are virtually always linked to food allergies and nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron, B12, and folic acid. He also suggest using high oral doses of acidophilus and an acidophilus mouth rinse.
Since mouth ulcers stem from a breakdown in tissue structure, the herb gotu kola (Centella asiatica) can be quite effective. Gotu kola is widely known to heal wounds and promote connective tissue growth. The dose is one ounce dry weight of herb per day, brewed as tea.
A recent study showed good results using a chamomile mouthwash in treating mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy. Other rinses that can help include alum, Milk of Magnesia, and cinchona bark. Dr. Chrishti suggests applying the powder of myrrh gum directly to the ulcer.
Probably the most outstanding herbal remedy for mouth sores is licorice root, a potent anti-inflammatory and tissue healer. Put a pinch of powder on the sore, or suck on a lozenge made from DGL (de-glycyrrhizinated licorice).
Your teeth are a reflection of your whole body. If you are healthy, your mouth will be healthy. Teeth, gums, and bone can heal. Give these techniques a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how well they work.