I found this interesting article:

Reconnect with Food: Yoga in Relationship with Food, Body Image, and Emotions

Eating is a necessary part of living. But it definitely gets to be a lot more complicated than that. I think in the West especially, food gets to be a big deal. With fast food and obesity concerns, we know we’re eating too much. At the same time, eating disorders are common problems in high school (not to mention the fact that you can find plenty of pro-eating disorder communities online).

Even when you’re eating healthily you can have an unhealthy attitude about it. Sometimes you still worry that you’re eating too much or too little, or you just end up fixated on what you’re NOT eating right then . . . Instead of being in the present and appreciating/enjoying what you do have.

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These are the foundational texts of yoga as we know it today. They are ascribed to the sage Patanjali, but history does not teach us to what level his authorship extends. This is the original Yoga darshana. It is called Raja Yoga today.

The Yoga Sutras are divided into four books or chapters:

  1. Samadhi Pada – Describes concentration and contemplation at a higher level.
  2. Sadhana Pada – Explains the practice or discipline of yoga. This is from where Eight-Limbed Yoga arises.
  3. Vibhuti Pada – Details power manifestation and progression.
  4. Kaivalya Pada – Explains liberation and realization.

Raja Yoga is a later term that was given to the past to distinguish the older Yoga from the newer Hatha Yoga. However, Hatha Yoga did develop from Raja Yoga. There are some differences to remember though. For instance, Raja Yoga starts with a purification of the mind which leads to the body, while Hatha Yoga has it start with the body and lead to the mind.

This is another little guide designed to clarify some history for myself, as well as anyone who happens to read this . . .

The six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy arose out of Vedic culture. These schools of thought are also known as the six darshanas or darsanas, and are often paired:

Nyaya – Based on the Nyaya Sutras. Has a logic emphasis. Knowledge comes from perception, inference, comparison, and testimony.
Vaisheshika – Has an added emphasis on atoms. Perception and inference are the main routes of knowledge.
Purva Mimamsa – Focus on the Vedas and right action.
Vedanta – Focuses on the Upanishads. Has six sub-schools: Advaita, Visishtadvaita, Dvaita, Dvaitadvaita (Bhedabheda), Shuddhadvaita, Acintya Bheda Abheda.
Sankhya/Samkhya – Strong theoretical focus on souls and matter.
Yoga – Gives techniques for meditation and transcendence. (Actions to match Sankhya’s theory- Almost. Yoga school of thought is more theistic.) Original interpretation later becomes Raja Yoga.

Today, the Yoga and Vendanta darshanas are the only ones which really survive.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are the foundational texts of the Yoga school of thought. It is not quite known whether they were written by Patanjali or simply conceptualized by him. Hmmm…

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! Either I feel distracted, my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”

“It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly.

One week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!”

“It will pass,” the teacher replied matter-of-factly.

Yoga doesn’t always have to be serious. Here’s a funny Yoga Snob quiz: Link.

Also, in case you are concerned about such things as whether or not yoga is a dinner invitation to Satan from the soul: Link.

Here are some relevant sites:

Find a Great Yoga Teacher: 5 Questions You Must Ask to Find a Qualified Yoga Teacher – Pretty straightforward. I include it because it might aid someone in beginning a dialogue on the matter.

American Yoga Association: How to Choose a Qualified Yoga Teacher – This guide takes into account many of the traditional qualities of yoga instructors.

What Is the Difference Between a CYT-Certified Yoga Teacher and RYT-Registered Yoga Teacher? – Some technical wording assistance.

Be Your Own Guru: Guidelines for Healthy Relationships with your Yoga Teacher/Guru – This is more for AFTER you have discovered an teacher. I believe it includes some really useful information (possibly even beyond student/teacher interactions.) Given the vulnerable nature of being a student, it is important your instructor is someone who fully deserves your trust and respect.

While I was researching Yoga Nidra, I came across mention of Swami Rama and the Menninger Clinic studies. As I was looking into more info about him, I was disheartened to read about the relationships he carried on with his female students (and the sexual misconduct for which he was convicted).

Of course, this isn’t entirely uncommon. The American yoga celebrity guru, Rodney Yee, got in trouble for similar situations. Sadly, this all occurred even as he’d written an article with his wife on how yoga was keeping his marriage strong.

Many Codes of Conduct for different yoga alliances and associations address this situation. It’s strange because I feel really betrayed when I hear about such things- Even without having been or even personally known a student who has fallen into such a situation.

This additional article mentions Yee’s situation as well . . . More importantly, it brings up the yamas and their extreme relevance: Compromising positions

In my opinion, you’re not a yoga instructor if you are not keeping in harmony with the whole philosophy. You can master all the moves, but if your true emphasis is not to achieve unity between all parts of yourself and the universe, then that isn’t enough to be considered a guru.

The food article recently linked to mentioned a study involving the cerebral cortex and meditation. It sounded interesting, so I thought I’d look it up.

Here’s a description of the actual study: (Warning, it’s pretty heavy material!) Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness

Here’s a TIME article which summarizes the study and relates it to living in the corporate world: How to Get Smarter, One Breath at a Time

If that’s all too much reading for your time, the basic conclusions from the study are:

1. Meditation seems to be related to physical changes in parts of the brain important for “sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.”

2. Meditation may affect some brain declines related to aging.

(If you ever check out actual research info like that, the scientific wording always comes down to “may impact” and “may be associated with.” But such statements are generally a lot more strongly supported than they sound.)

New yoga mats are usually a little slippery . . . But if the problem doesn’t go away after a few classes, washing it can help.

Also, if your palms sweat a lot, apparently Yogitoes Skidless Towel is a good solution. I haven’t tried it, but it gets great reviews. Along with helping you avoid slipping, it also preserves the yoga mat and is very hygienic (especially useful if you attend classes and are using a shared mat).

A product such as PurEarth Cleaner is also good if hygiene is a concern. Especially since it is biodegradable and has never been tested on animals.

News link

This yoga guru’s Yoga and Ayurveda Research Center has just recently began construction in Houston. Now he’s been invited to “display his yogic exercises” before Congress. The center looks like it could be something great as it offers many such things as a clinic, university, and a herbal garden.

He’s been noted as saying some controversial things, at the same time, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is quoted as having said about him:

If an individual can be credited with reviving yoga in this country (India), it is solely Swami Ramdev. Yoga can cure even fatal diseases and Swami Ramdev has definitely proved it time and again. Swami Ramdev has spread yoga to such an extent that sooner or later, one has to embrace it.

Some of those controversial things I’ve alluded to are apparently related to quotes he’s said being taken out of context about yoga and AIDS or cancer. It’s hard to tell who to trust about such things. But with this center being completed sometime next year, I’m certain he’ll gain much more popularity here in the U.S.

Here’s an article on using yoga for better sleeping: Need better sleep? Try yoga techniques

It has some explanations for the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, backed by a UT Southwestern Medical Center professor. It also has some descriptions of poses and breathing techniques.

. . . I tried with no luck to find the animal study that was mentioned in the article. But here’s some supplementary and relevant info:

Yoga Nidra – Yogic Sleep. It is a deep level of meditation. You go beyond Waking and Dreaming, into Deep Sleep with conscious awareness intact. In that sense, it’s more of a process of learning how to awaken in stages one normally misses.