Just like many practices Yoga has changed and evolved over the years. Yoga was first written about over 5,000 years ago in sacred texts known as the Rig Veda. According to the artofliving.org, "The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means union of the individual and universal consciousness."
The history of yoga is very complex and contains various traditions, texts, and philosophies. The philosophies and practices are a creative merging of thousands of years from various religions. Sometimes these rules of thought compliment each other while others contradict. It is of note that around 500 B.C the Bhagavad-Gita was written which is the most renowned writings on yoga. If you want to read and learn more about the this vast history go to this article "A Short History of Yoga" by Georg Feuerstein.
Driving across the city you may see signs saying "Hot Yoga", "Lava Yoga", "Power Yoga", "Healing Yoga", etc. Most of these are creative ways to get people in the door. Yoga has boomed as way to stay physically fit but it also has many added benefits. Harvard Medical School reports in their research that yoga practices enhance peoples body images, boosts weight loss, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars, creates mindful eating habits, and helps people manage depression and anxiety. Yoga has also been linked to improving sleep, reducing stress, and increasing emotional health reported by the National Center for Complimentary and Integrated Health.
One important thing to learn about yoga is that not all yoga is the same. In fact there are many different kinds. To expand your knowledge and identify what works for you check out this extensive guide "Types of Yoga: A Guide to Different Styles" by yogamedicine.com. It goes into detail about the background of the 13 different styles they mention and why you may like it.
For those just starting out or exploring how yoga may be beneficial for you I have attached this short 10 minute video by SarahBethYoga. Give it a try and see if this may be a practice that works for you. Also its important to note that its about doing your best and not pushing your body further than what it can do. Just do what you can and focus on being mindful of your body, mind, and spirit.
Yoga has the ability to connect us with our spiritual selfs. We become aware of our body, take time to examine the inner parts of our soul, and eliminate distractions and busyness. It is in this practice were we connect with ourselves and the divine in a deeper manner. Through the practice we can answer the questions that we all seek.
Who am I?
What is my purpose?
Where do I find meaning?
How do I allow God to be a fuller part of my life?
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This week take time for a spiritual practice and if you get the chance try yoga out!
Until recently our world has been filled with noise and busyness. Passing street cars, horns honking, banging from the nearby construction and many other sounds that take our attention. Our thoughts focus on these distractions and other things throughout the day causing us to drown out the small sweet sounds like the wind rustling the nearby leaves or the birds tweeting their beautiful song. When we actually stop and listen, I mean truly listen, and minimize our inner dialogue we just may notice the rest of the amazing world. It is in this silencing of ourselves were our awareness is heightened and we see our deeper self.
Be Still and Know I Am God
- Psalm 46:10
Silence has a way of creating space within for us to seek the sacred. Its a practice that has been going on for centuries and is still commonly used for renewal and discovery along the spiritual journey. It allows us to let go of the burdens and stresses before us and recenter our perspective to what matters most.
Silence can be scary and intimidating. Some people are scared of silence because silence causes us to examine who we are and just maybe we are unsure if that is who we really want to be. This running away from our true self causes us to make choices that do not correspond to our values or desires. It can ultimately cause us to be overwhelmed and stressed.
Another reason why silence is intimidating is it takes away our most valuable commodity, time. Our lives are busy and to think about sitting silently doesn't seem productive. However the research speaks for itself indicating when we sit silently we are able to tap into our minds, thoughts, emotions, and creativity so that we can be more productive. It also allows us time to assess our mental and emotional states so we can keep good balance and mental health.
Benefits of Silence:
A 2013 study showed when mice were exposed to two hours of silence every day their hippocampus areas developed new cells which become integrated neurons. The hippocampus is a part of the temporal lobe of the brain primarily responsible for memory. It is also suggested that it plays a major role in spatial processing and navigation.
One study looked at various music styles to determine relaxation on the brain. What they found was the 2 minute silent breaks between whatever music styles chosen actually had greater relaxation benefits on the brain than the music.
According to an article on the Huffington Post, higher noise levels have been linked to increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and disruptions in sleep patterns based on an environmental psychologist in 2004. So too much noise can cause health problems. Creating quiet time and space can help fight against some of these health issues that may arise.
This sounds so simple! Yet creating moments to be in a quiet location and silencing our minds at the same time is difficult. Here are some tips for practicing silence.
1. Schedule it - Make silence a part of your routine that is built into your schedule. Give yourself a certain time each day for this moment to happen. Remember the benefits of it and the importance of creating good health of mind and body.
2. Start small - Start with just a few minutes and work your way up to more. As with most things we want to build on success so decide an amount of time you can be successful at being silent and go from there.
3. Turn off Screens - Screens are major distractions for us. Turn off the screens around you and place your phone in a different room. This eliminates the urge to check any vibration or notification that may come. Remember phones are training your brain, so instead let silence do that and forget about what else is going on except this present moment.
4. Go outside - Nature is a perfect place to be for silence. We can clear our minds by connecting to the creation around us. Find your place where its quiet, serene, and connects with you. Truly listen to nature and what speaks to your soul.
5. Focus on your breathe - Silencing our mind can be difficult. Focusing on your breathe brings you back to the moment and yourself. Use deep breathing as a means for structure in your silence.
Wherever you find yourself during the day, take a few moments of silence for yourself to relax, renew, and reconnect with the divine.
Thank you to everyone who is still following along and figuring out what spiritual practice works for you.
This week find a time to bask in silence and see what you experience.
Body scan meditations are a mindfulness practice used to improve your overall well being. They involve paying attention to parts of your body and releasing tension that may be building up. It has proven effects of improving sleep, reducing stress, increasing focus, and decreasing aches and pains.
Body scans attune our senses to the sensations of the our body without judging them but simply trying to see them for what they are. In merely noticing tensions, sensations, etc. we provide relief to the area and can choose to relax our body. They can also provide some relief to psychological tension which can easily accompany physical discomfort.
There are many body scan scripts available for you to try. You can check out scripts from Greater Good in Action, Mindful, or an audio one by Headspace.
Below are two youtube videos of body scans. The first is a short 5 minute video for those that are beginners and want to try this exercise. The second is 15 minutes for a deeper meditation.
I hope you are all taking care of yourself and looking out for the needs of others during this difficult time.
This week try a body scan and see if this type of meditation works for you.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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