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Yoga Studio
 
The recently completed Yoga Studio provides a spacious, relaxing environment with all the apparatus needed for a full body and mind workout.

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Bring your own yoga mat and water bottle to all classes.

 

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What is Yoga?
 
The Sanskrit word "Yoga" actually means "alignment of mind, body, emotions and spirit". In western terms, it is co-ordinated stretching and breathing exercise. Yoga is really a heap of things, many of which are feelings of well-being that can't be talked or written about - but can be experienced!

First it is necessary to say what yoga is not. Yoga is not contortionist training. Yoga is not athletic exercise, where one sweats and strains to hold a posture. Yoga is not as some religious quarters suggest "evil".

Yoga is injury and pain prevention. Just as weight trainers develop certain muscles by selected exercises, as we all choose certain exercises by way of our jobs and lifestyles, and we do thousands of repetitions over the years, like weight trainers, we develop certain muscles. Unconsciously our bodies adjust according to those muscles being exercised, and those, which are left out. The imbalance leads to weak points, and these are observed in our posture and pains! They make us injury prone, and cause the aches. Yoga provides a counter-stretching mechanism to keep all muscles and tendons toned, stretched, and balanced evenly, preventing injury and discomfort, and providing relief to existing conditions.

Yoga is stress control, breathing awareness. Breathing is fundamental to our minute-to-minute physiology - we can starve for days but we can choke for only a few minutes! Breathing controls the flow of oxygen into our lungs, and into our bodies. Breathing patterns reflect our emotional state - ever notice how you breathe when you're scared? Controlled breathing is the secret to stress release, and mental control. Correct posture is very important for correct breathing. Yogic breathing techniques create feelings of calmness, and readiness to deal with life's trials and tribulations. They can also directly help respiratory disorders such as asthma, panic, etc.

Yoga is healing. Physical healing is a direct function of our body's ability to deliver blood, which contains oxygen and healing nutrients, to the troubled areas. Tissue, which is shocked and scared, is like a barren landscape with no rivers or creeks (blood channels); it is tough and hard and it takes flash floods or hard digging to break water through to the areas. So it is with our bodies. Intelligent breathing and stretching allows us to consciously direct blood to these areas. The benefits are truly noticeable.

Yoga is science. Over hundreds of years, master yogi's have developed hundreds of techniques for exercising every muscle, nerve, gland, and organ in the body. These "asanas" secure a fine physique, which is strong and elastic without being muscle bound; they keep the body free from disease, and calmly change with the energy. In spite of this, the real "behind the scenes" importance lies in the way they train and discipline the mind. The martial arts, which emphasise concentration, balance, and readiness, are all based on yoga techniques. In modern days, deep-sea free divers use yoga breathing techniques to stay down as long as 6 minutes!

Advanced pupils discover that yoga is more than just body fitness or healing. It is health and life consciousness. It is an attitude of self-discipline and taking responsibility for our own health, and our state of affairs. It is an attitude that we are not victims of circumstances, that we can and do have a say in the course of our lives. It is an attitude of finding answers within us, using the options and attitudes of outside influences such as friends, doctors or institutions to our benefit, rather than accepting their words as our truth. It is an attitude of bravery, going for it, standing up for ourselves in a world of conventional thinking.

Yoga requires no facilities, or expensive equipment! Just a mat and some quiet floor space. Yoga is a tool that lasts a lifetime. Yoga is a way of thinking. Yoga is a way of feeling good!

 
The Breath ~ The Master Key to Good Health
 
Slow, deep breathing is probably the single best anti-stress medicine we have.

When you bring air down into the lower portions of the lungs where oxygen exchange is most efficient, everything changes. Heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, anxiety eases and the mind calms. The immune system and all cells of the neurological and bodily functions are in fact improved by 10.5 percent.

Andre Weil, director of programmes in Integrative Medicine and clinical professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Arizona, says breath control alone can achieve remarkable results in improving digestive problems, lowering blood pressure, ending heart arrhythmias, decreasing anxiety and allowing people to get off addictive drugs. It also improves sleep and energy cycles, increases blood circulation throughout the body, and enhances the autonomic nervous system and auto immune system.

Sandie Matthews, founder and director of the Jivana Yoga Centre, Greymouth, on the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand, says, "In the 36 years I have been practicing deep breathing (Pranayama) yoga and teaching these basic ancient principles to my students and clients, I have constantly been impressed with the increase of the health improvements of each person. People would come into class in a stressful state, and within 10 minutes they could notice changes to their pulses, heartbeat, nervous systems and mental state. People who have been crippled for several years and under ACC would tell me that changes took place immediately after their first session of Pranayama yoga. Asthmatics also improve their breathing ratio and help to avoid common panic attacks which triggers their asthma."

C.P.T Breathing
You are never too old to learn the art of C.P.T. (count pause throat) breathing. At present there are only two places in NZ that the C.P.T. breathing is taught, Gisborne and the Jivana Yoga Centre Greymouth, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol levels are normalized; Uric Acid levels can be reduced, helping gout problems. Depression, Stress and Anxiety can be overcome, along with Asthma and many other chronic and acute health conditions. In many health related problems the red blood cells in the brain and body are starving for oxygen, this is taken care of through the C.P.T. breathing. You begin to take on a brand new lease of life as these starved cells begin their rejuvenation and repair.

Relaxation breathing works to increase parasympathetic tone, slowing the heart rate and decreasing blood pressure, bringing the two systems into balance. Unlike drugs, it is free of toxicity, easy to practice and at no cost in terms of time and money. One of the few studies of clinical application of Pranayama yoga found that menopausal woman were able to reduce the frequency of hot flushes by 50 percent.

Studies also suggest these breathing practices can combat infertility. Watch a baby breathe and you will see the rise and fall of the belly. With age, most people shift from this healthy abdominal breathing to shallow chest breathing. This strains the lungs, which must move faster to ensure adequate oxygen flow, which taxes the heart. The heart is then forced to speed up to provide enough blood for oxygen transport. The result is a vicious cycle where stress prompts shallow breathing, which in turn creates more stress. The simplest and most powerful technique for protecting your health is breathing.

The tortoise is the longest living animal and, coincidentally, the slowest breather.

Today some hospitals are teaching breathing techniques to hospital patients with a wide range of conditions and all different age groups.

"Deep diaphragmatic breathing and other mind-body techniques in Pranayama yoga can significantly reduce symptoms of severe PMS, as well as emotional distress, depression and anxiety," says Alice Domar, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Mind/body Centre for Woman's Health..

Sandie reports Howard Kent from the Yoga for Health Foundation in Britain visited New Zealand over 20 years ago. "He walked through the Wellington Airport doors where I was waiting to pick him up. My focus was instantly drawn to his massive diaphragm. Over the past 20 years he and his eight trained staff have been working very effectively with over 300 people with MS. Breath is the main key, he says, in helping those with this most difficult disease. Barry had not used his legs for 18 months when he visited the centre, and the form of his MS made control of all muscles virtually impossible. By his third visit he was able to stand against the wall supported by only two fingers. Soon after, with help, he climbed stairs. He now is retaining his muscle tone. This is one of hundreds of similar case studies."

In 1972 Miss Kerstin Ahlbeck had her first symptoms of MS. In 1975 she was diagnosed. She slowly deteriorated with no remissions. Miss Ahlbeck came to a yoga centre in Britain for the first time in March 1981. She is now divorced and bringing up four children aged between 15 and 21. During the years since her first visit, she has practiced regular deep breathing, yoga postures and meditation. During the whole of this period her situation reversed with slow but equally steady progress. There was no apparent regression. On her first visit Miss Ahlbeck had no use in her legs, now she can walk 50 yards or more with the help of a frame.

Yoga and the Spine. The nerves, which come from the cervical spine (the neck or upper seven vertebrae), connect with the senses taste, smell, sight and hearing. Nerve branches from here also go to the brain. Pressure on this part of the spine such as often caused by muscular tension in the trapezoid and rhomboid muscles over the neck and shoulder may result in headaches of the nervous "tension" sort. Pranayama yoga sets out to eliminate this nervous tension through its practices of relation and breath control.

In yoga we try to maintain all the basic movements of the spine bending back and forth, bending side-to-side and twisting. In effect we are counter-posing our normal daily activities, which are usually concave chest and rolled-forward shoulders. If not corrected at the end of our day we may end up with weakened skeletal muscles around the vertebrae and lack of tone and strength also in the frontal portions. If all lobes of the lungs are not used efficiently, the heart has to work harder because the blood, which it pumps to the lungs, is inadequately charged with oxygen. So in order to ensure that each part of the body receives its quota of oxygen, the heart will attempt to pump more blood around the body to compensate. Even so, the oxygen supply may still be inadequate in some quarters. The result of this may be high blood pressure (hypertension).

Remember, by breathing slower and deeper you can clear the mind, slow the heart beat and pulse rate, and rejuvenate the cells of the brain and the body. This, in turn, aids the internal organs and glands.

The lungs generate the electricity in the body. This provides one of the main aspects of balance to your mental, spiritual and physical health.

When we learn to breath properly, we learn to calm and rejuvenate ourselves. This way we control our own lives, master our own course, captain our own ships, and increase and lengthen the quality of our lives.