For some people the thought of chanting yoga mantras may conjure up images of people dancing in orange robes, but the popularity of yoga has put a modern spin on the whole scene. Entire sections of music stores and sites are allotted for the yoga music kirtan movement these days. Some of these artists are even living the ‘mantra rockstar’ life from their proceeds. If you don’t know these artists, maybe its time you did.
Known as KD to his adoring fans, Krisna Das is the leading seller of kirtan albums in America. His success of over 300,000 albums sold, and fourteen albums released places him at the top of the kirtan food chain. His soulful voice and playful spirit make him the kind of guy anyone can listen to. This year KD can be found touring in Brazil, Romania, Budapest, Prague, Poland, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and all over the continental United States. KD is a ‘don’t miss’ concert!
Second to none, Deva and her partner Miten have reported over 900,000 albums sold worldwide. She has been performing since 1992, and had the prestigious opportunity to chant for the Dalai Lama. Deva and Miten own a recording company named Prabu Music. If you want to see Deva perform, look for her tour coming your way. She’ll be in Greece, Costa Rica, Australia, Rishikesh, and twenty-three different locations across the U.S.
With sixteen albums notched in his belt, Jai Uttal is a fan favorite. Often mixing elements of reggae, jazz and rock, his music offers a unique sound to the finicky kirtan adherent. Jai holds kirtan camps for those interested in learning more about the art. His upcoming tour locations include many spots around California and New York, and an end of the year treat in Brazil.
Boasting eighteen CD’s so far, WAH has found her recipe for success. With her guitar strapped over her shoulder, WAH produces a collage of grooving, snappy, sexy and vibrant kirtan, and she’s coming soon to a venue near you. She’ll be performing in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, California, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Italy in 2011.
Pure coincidence, if there is such a thing, introduced Dave Stringer to the world of kirtan. A film-editing job in India put him face to face with a Guru and a world of music that he had not known existed before. Since that fortuitous event, Dave has gone on to produce six albums. He is usually on the road, making stops across his home country America, but also spreading his talents to Austria, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Greece.
Other notable performers are:
Dr. Kurt “Kaliash” Bruder, Snatam Khur, Durga Das, Clair Oaks, MC Yogi, Mirabai Ceiba, Ragani and many others.
So if you consider yourself a true music fan, and you’ve not ventured into the exciting world of yoga mantras, get thee to a kirtan concert immediately!
An Assessment On How Many Calories Does Yoga Burn
Who is Afraid of Yoga Mantras
You’ve successfully completed your yoga class, but now you fear the uncomfortable part…yoga mantras. Everyone takes a deep breath and out comes the ooooooommmmmm. You mouth it, thinking you can just fake it, or you keep your lips closed, but hum quietly inside your throat. Either way, you are selling yourself short. Leaving out the mantra is like forgetting to punctuate your sentences.
Almost all mantras used in yoga are based in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages in the world, dating back at least thirteen thousand years. It is said that during deep meditations one can hear the sounds of the universe. These sounds have been recorded as the Sanskrit alphabet. The word mantra can be translated into man-mind and tra-deliverance. Reciting a mantra helps to deliver the mind from its usually scattered state into a focused and calm state.
Power of Mantras
Words hold power, and some hold more power than others. The words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are prime examples. Most yoga mantras hold specific resonance with an idea or concept. We all know the saying, ‘ask and you shall receive’. Well this also rings true for mantras. Be specific in what you need or want. For example, there are mantras meant to establish clearer communication for the person reciting it. If it’s money you want, then use a mantra asking for improved wealth. If it is wisdom you seek, use a mantra aimed at understanding.
AUM or Om – AUM is the sound made by the vibrating universe. Reciting it aligns the individual and separate being with the omniscient and universal presence.
Gayatri Mantra – The Mother of all mantras. It inspires intellect and directs us along our correct path.
Om Namah Shivaya – helps to transform us from our physical manifestation back into our spiritual or etheric.
Om Mani Padme Hum – meant to bring joy and peace.
Pick a yoga mantra that speaks to you and try it on. Mantras need time to be activated, so practice reciting your mantra for twenty-one days in a row. You can choose to sit alone and say the mantra out loud to yourself seven, fourteen or twenty-one times. You can also choose to repeat it out loud to yourself while working, driving or walking. The important thing is not to say it in your head, but use the power of your throat and that beautiful voice you have.
Make your mantras fun. Sing them like a tune you can’t get out of your head. Vibrate them like a buzzing bee inside your chest. Enjoy them like they are positive reinforcement snacks. Trust them to support you in times of tribulation.
Next time you are wrapping up that yoga class, take a leap of faith and let your yoga mantras free…you might be surprised how good it feels!
Goodbye Hot Yoga Calories
Yes, I count my hot yoga calories! I count each and every one of them as they burn, burn, burn. I love my hot yoga class and I could care less what the yoga purists say. I’m not in it for enlightenment. I don’t want to sit around chanting. Sure, I’ll offer my OM at the end of class, but what I’m really saying is ooooommm my god do I feel great! I can’t get enough of this stuff.
I was one of the skeptics when it came to yoga. Last year my friend and I made a bet. If I lost I had to go to yoga with him. If I won he had to go trail running with me. I’ve spent a year in yoga class now, and I’m so glad I lost that wager. I was sure that stretching into weird shapes would do nothing for me, but not only am I staying fit, I feel amazing.
I did a little research when I first started attending class. As with most things I try, I wanted to know what I was getting into. The ideas about yoga as a spiritual practice didn’t really interest me, but the info I found about hot yoga made me very curious. I discovered that one hot yoga class offers me the same amount of calorie burning that I would get on a run. That’s something I can gel with.
Besides, this hot yoga stuff is sexy. I can see and feel fat burning off of areas that it didn’t before. It’s a refined sculpting of my body, eating away at the little crevices along my ribs, biceps and even my jaw line. Running never did this for me.
Maybe I’m not supposed to, but I also love the mirrors in class. Am I vain? Maybe, but so what! I enjoy the hot yoga workout. Watching the dripping sweat falling from my forehead past my smiling face is just what I want. Seeing the etched muscle lines along my arms in Warrior II is inspiring. Feeling the burn in my ankles and feet as I balance on my toes hurts so good.
I have to be honest though. Even if I’m not pursuing spiritual gains from my practice, I do sense an increased awareness outside class. When I leave class I notice that the light in the sky looks different. I even think I can hear clearer. Sometimes at work I find myself breathing that crazy ‘Darth Vader’ breath. It keeps me calm. I tend to be a type A personality, but since I’ve been doing hot yoga, I’m naturally a little more restrained. Funny how this yoga stuff works.
What I’ve found most important is to do the practice how I want. It’s my practice, no one else’s. If I want to be angry in class, it’s ok. If I want to cry in class, it’s ok. If I want to count my hot yoga calories, it’s ok, because it’s my practice.
Burning More Hot Yoga Calories
I’ve coined the term, hot yoga calories. I have a feeling that practicing yoga in high heat helps to increase my chances of burning extra calories. After practicing a few years in hatha and vinyasa classes, I started hot yoga. It was then that I became aware of any difference.
I know that burning calories depend on the speed of my metabolism. I naturally have low metabolism, but hot yoga helps me to raise it, allowing for a better flow of nutrition in and waste out.
My digestion has always been slow, meaning that it takes its sweet time. This sometimes leads to unwanted pounds, no matter what I try. I read that hot yoga helps increase pitta, and that decreases the kapha affects on my digestion. Proper bowel movement is sure to help burn more calories.
The positions in hot yoga are challenging. When I first began I could barely get through a whole class. Now I have little problems at all. The heat helped me to warm up better and work through the tense areas in my muscles. This increased flexibility means that I move more fully, and moving helps to burn calories.
I also notice new muscles that weren’t there from my previous yoga practice. I must have created them during hot yoga. I feel stronger, especially in my lower body. Now I get out and walk around the park more. Hot yoga has inspired me to get out of the house, and that is cartainly burning more calories.
I actually believe that happiness burns more calories. Happiness keeps me upbeat, keeps my heart rate regular and shapes the way I breathe. I know this increased happiness is directly associated to my hot yoga class. I feel excited as I write this. For me there’s no question that happiness is contributing to my calorie burning.
I’ve noticed that I eat less, and I’m more conscious of what I eat. I’ve done away with the sweet and salty snacks that I used to rely on in the late evenings. I also fill up faster. My stomach doesn’t have to work so hard to digest. Less eating also means fewer calories.
I’m positive that my theory is correct. It may not be provable, but it is what I feel in my heart. That’s what really matters. I am happier, healthier, and I know that in hot yoga calories are falling to the wayside.
One of the Greatest Benefits of Hot Yoga
In the highly competitive and somewhat oversaturated yoga market, offering a specialized class is one of the greatest benefits of hot yoga schools.
Whether you like it or not, homage must be paid to Bikram Choudhury for pioneering the idea of hot yoga. It was also his brash attempt at trademarking his franchise and the inflexible nature of his classes that lead people to create hot yoga. So, thank you Bikram.
With all the different styles and classes of yoga you can choose from, the idea of sweating in intense heat really appeals to some. Hot yoga can boast something that no other class can: sweltering heat of 105°F (40°C). One must ask, is this a benefit or the potential for injury? Let’s consider both sides.
Pros: Sweating is good for you. Everyone knows that. It’s a good way to remove toxins from the body. Sweating also helps to keep the skin healthy and shining.
Cons: We sweat to keep the body cool, so it’s fair to say that maybe exercising in such high heat is overworking the body. Sweating also leads to dehydration. Many hot yoga teachers don’t allow water in their classes. They state that it is cooling the body when the goal is to heat it. Use your own intelligent mind. If you want to drink, then do so lightly. If the teacher says no, find another teacher.
Pros: Deeper stretching is certainly one of the benefits of hot yoga classes. You may be able to move farther into a pose that would otherwise be more restrictive in a normal yoga class.
Cons: Overstretching can lead to injury. The body has its defense mechanisms. For muscles they are called Golgi tendons. They protect the muscles from over extending themselves. Hot yoga, mixed with a lack of attention and the need to push too hard, can lead to an override of these mechanisms, resulting in injury.
Pros: Purification comes through heat. Your body temperature is raised, just as it would to help fight illness. Blood thins, capillaries dilate and metabolism increases, causing improved circulation of oxygen rich blood and balanced digestion.
Cons: Not everyone is meant for heated workouts. Many people already have high metabolism or high blood pressure. Learn about your dosha type and what kind of exercise is best for you.
These are a few of the important things to consider before stepping into hot yoga. Yes it’s popular, and the pictures of sweating students look appealing, but the truth is hot yoga is not for everyone. Make sure that the benefits of hot yoga outweigh the risks when deciding if it’s right for you.
Honest Benefits of Hot Yoga
Many people rave about the benefits of hot yoga. Chances are some of these people are self-serving, hoping to boost their studio’s attendance or promote their hot yoga guru. Others may be enthusiastic hot yoga devotees expressing their fanatic love of the program. Either way, it’s necessary that we remove the bias and take a real and honest look at the goal of hot yoga.
Following the teachings of Patanjali, the ‘father of modern yoga’, asana is one part of an eight-limbed system leading to awakening. Asana is meant solely for purification and strengthening of the body in order to prepare it for longer meditations and increased levels of energy. Taking this into account, hot yoga is best applied for the removal of ama, or waste.
Ama is the source of all diseases. It is a byproduct of incomplete metabolic processes, not only relegated to digestion, but also including all the building processes of the entire body. Ayurveda acknowledges that there are seven tissue systems formed in the creation of the human body. A breakdown in any of these tissues can result in the accumulation of ama, causing disease. Heat helps to increase agni, the transformational fire, and aids in the completion of these building mechanisms.
Ama is removed in three ways: sweating, urination and defecation. Hot yoga increases metabolism, which helps in the circulation of toxins to their proper removal areas.
Only small quantities of toxins actually leave through the sweat. The majority leaves through urine and feces. Since the urinary system is the body’s temperature regulator, practicing hot yoga will promote frequent urination, thereby removing the ama that has been moved into this system.
Hot yoga insures added heat to the digestive fires, improving the chances of greater nutritional breakdown and ama removal.
Excess ama not only results in disease it also leads to lethargy, sadness, depression and other mental health issues. Hot yoga and yoga in general can help to prevent such maladies.
Purification in asana is not limited to the physical. Once the physical ama is removed, prana, subtle energy, is able to move more freely throughout the energetic body. Energetic ama, also known as karma, becomes the focus. Removing karmas from the energy body is the underlying goal of any yoga practice. This is the beginning to the awakening process described by Patanjali.
Practicing yoga makes you a yogi, an aspirant toward something higher. Yoga requires that you look deeper into your actions and intentions. Enjoy your asana class, but don’t stop there. Explore the rich wisdom at the foundation of yoga. The benefits of hot yoga are only the beginning.
Self-Therapy With Mudra Yoga
Can the secret to a long life be found in mudra yoga? Quite possibly!
Stop for a moment and take a look at your hands. Open them up and really look at them. Now stretch them open as wide as you can and take a deep breath. There, doesn’t that feel better?
The hands are often our gateways to exploring the word around us. Whereas animals use their mouths or noses, the human animal usually starts with the hands. There are about seventeen thousand tactile receptors on the hand, and over one thousand nerve endings. The fingertips alone have one of the densest collections of nerve endings in the body. Put all these figures together, and you can see the importance held in the human hand.
When the hands break down, it is a sign that the whole body is beginning to falter. Anyone with arthritis, will tell you how debilitating it is to loose the full use of your hands. What are the options when this happens? Does one begin to take medications? While painkillers, muscle relaxers or joint lubricators may help temporarily, in the end they are missing the root cause of the problem.
There are ancient forms of treatment that use the hands to heal the entire body. Acupressure, Jin Shin Jyutsu and Reflexology are widely used methods. Another seldom known path to wellness is Mudra Yoga.
Mudra yoga has been around over thirteen thousand years. It is closely related to Ayurveda, the oldest known medical science. Mudra yoga addresses the five elements of the body: fire (thumb), wind (forefinger), ether (middle finger), earth (ring finger) and water (little finger). The intention of mudra yoga is to balance the presence of these five elements within the body’s many systems.
Energy known as chi, ki or prana circulates through the body. In the unbalanced areas where it is not allowed to move unfettered, pain, illness or disease will occur. Using a mudra, or specific hand position will remove any blockage and allow for the energy to be moved along its normal pathway.
The tips of your fingers allow for an exchange of energy. Getting zapped when you touch a television or sometimes another person is a prime example. The same occurs when you rub your hands together quickly and then keep the palms and fingertips close together without letting them touch. Try it.
By touching the fingertips together, the energy of your hands is redirected back into your body and allowed to move directly into the places that have a lack of free flowing energy. The body comes fully equipped with its own self-healing mechanisms. Give it a chance to heal itself before you put something synthetic in it.
Thirteen thousand years of tried and tested therapy can’t be wrong. Challenge yourself to find out more about Mudra Yoga, and you won’t be disappointed.
The Artistry of Mudra Yoga Through Dancing Hands
I witnessed as the old astrologer’s hands danced with the beauty of Mudra Yoga. Behind his thick glasses lights shined from his eyes. His fingers flowed from one position to the next, never once fumbling, and never once faulting. He sang a tune as he ran through the gamut – the way a child would sing a nursery rhyme. I was sure he had known this mudra melody since his youth, but it held no less significance for him now than it did then.
In the light of the waning Udaipur sun, my guide explained to me that he was reciting the Gayatri Mantra and showing me the Gayatri mudras. It was a combination of twenty-four hand gestures, each correlating to particular parts of the mantra. The mantra and the mudras had been around for thousands of years, and were dedicated to praising the light that clears the darkness of ignorance, and illuminates the fire of intelligence. I had no idea that hands could do that.
As I continued my trip through India I was struck by the depiction of mudra yoga around every corner I turned. Hardly a statue was sculpted that did not have a particular mudra represented. While watching a Bollywood movie at the local cinema, I was thrilled to see the dancing actors combining modern hip-hop inspired moves coupled with mudas. During Kathakali, the classical dance of Kerala, India, I watched the performers playfully telling much of the story with their hands. Everywhere I went I was surrounded by mudra yoga.
The mudra that really caught my attention was, of all likely places, on the side of the road. Shrines adorn the streets of India, protecting the drivers and passengers alike. We took a short break from our long drive south, and the driver went to say a quick prayer. Directly beside the Hindu shrine was a shrine to Christ. There he was, Jesus, holding his hands together in the prayer position. I had seen this and practiced this position hundreds of times. Never had it crossed my mind that I was doing a mudra. I asked the taxi driver if he knew the significance, and he told me it was called Anjali mudra. It was the universal hand position for prayer.
It’s been a couple years since I returned from India. I’ve consequently adopted a special regard for mudras. I understand that they are a language, a depiction of expression without the need for often-overused words. I watch people in every facet of life speaking with their hands – middle fingers, pointing fingers, beckoning fingers, thumbs up, peace signs and pumping fists. We use the speech of our hands each day, telling the world what we want, how we approve or not, offering helpful encouragement. This is a tradition handed down from our ancestors. It has permeated all religions, cultures and races. Since the term yoga means unified, and mudra means seal, it is easy to understand that we are one world, sealed in unity through mudra yoga.
Balancing the 5 Elements of Creation in Mudra Yoga
So what exactly is mudra yoga you may ask? Simply put it is a gesture or position of the hand used to communicate an idea or expression. Not so simply put, it is a scientifically tested method to awakening the higher self and balancing your existence here on earth. Whew, that was a mouthful.
How does one go about balancing human and spiritual existence? It comes through understanding the elements that make up all creation. Earth – Air – Fire – Water – Ether. Lets take a litter deeper look.
Ether or space was preset in the beginning. It was void and empty. Through the will of manifestation, wind or air began to move inside this void. As the winds picked up they began to cause friction. Friction produced heat and fire was created. The fires mixed and were cooled by the winds and the condensation formed water. This water was heated and cooled by the fires and winds until a residue resulted and earth was formed. This is the story of the creation of the elements, as Ayurveda would tell it.
Man is created just as the earth. Winds blow inside the space that is the body. These winds are Vata, and they move blood, urine, thoughts and more.
Fire or Pitta, rages inside, burning food for digestion, lighting the fire of our vision and heating the body to fight disease.
Earth and water, known as Kapha, create the fluids and tissues of our bodies. Skin, organs, nerves and tendons are Kapha, as are mucous and bile.
When these elements are out of balance, mudra yoga can bring them back in line. Each finger represents one of the five elements. When the fire or Pitta is out of balance, resulting in heartburn, placing two specific fingers together can cool the fires. When Vata blows too rapidly, resulting in insomnia, folding certain fingers together will slow it all down. Lets take a look at a few popular mudras and see what they do.
Chinmudra is one that most people would recognize. Place the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb and keep the other fingers straight. It can help with insomnia, a restless mind, agitation and other mental conditions associated with Vata imbalance.
Prana mudra is good for tired eyes and general tiredness. It can help with most diseases. Place the tip of the thumb to the tips of the ring and small finger, keeping the two middle fingers straight.
Apan Vayu Mudra is accomplished by holding the index finger to your palm. Touch the middle and ring fingertips to the tip of the thumb. Little finger is held straight up. This mudra helps with menstrual cramps and vomiting, as apana vayu is the outward moving, or expelling wind.
Rudra Mudra pacifies Pitta. It can help with low blood pressure and blocked veins. It improves circulation, eyesight, concentration and breathing. Hold the tip of the thumb and third finger together, leaving the remaining fingers erect.
Shanka Mudra helps with Kapha imbalances. Wrap the fingers of the right hand around the left thumb. Now touch the right thumb to the tip of the left index finger.
These are but a few of the hundreds of mudras known to help balance the body. There are many more directed at balancing and enhancing the spiritual life as well. Books and websites dedicated to mudras are available in great numbers.
Don’t hesitate to explore deeper into the world of mudra yoga.
Supplementing Your Workout To Get Yoga Calories Burned
Have you tried enhancing your workout with quality yoga calories burned?
More and more people are supplementing their regular workout routines with a yoga practice. The combination of weight training and cardio training with yoga is a sure way to complete fitness. Those brave souls that have ventured into a yoga class thinking that it is just stretching, have found out that it can be an ass-kicking workout in itself. If you don’t believe it, then check out the popular regimens like P90X and see how much yoga they incorporate into their routines.
Foregoing your regular workout for a yoga class doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice fat burning. The right yoga class will burn the same amount of calories that an hour on the treadmill will. It’s all about the style of class you choose to take.
This style of yoga can be very demanding. The postures are fixed in their sequence, which allows for a repeated attempt at mastery. You can go as slow or as fast as you like. The flow of ashtanga postures calls for jumping, but allows for stepping instead. If you choose the lighter flow, you will burn fewer calories. The average amount of yoga calories burned in ashtanga is somewhere around 300.
This style of class can be demanding in its own way. The flow of the class depends solely on the teacher. They may have a regular routine that they like to teach or maybe they enjoy shaking it up each time. Either way, you have to pay attention and keep moving. This vigorous, unrelenting flow of postures will surely help to slim you down. Average yoga calories burned is in the range of 450.
If its high pace you want, then skip hatha classes. If you are looking for depth and focus in your yoga, then try hatha on for size. Hatha may actually be the best compliment to strength training, because it helps to move regenerating energy into broken down muscle fibers. Hatha can also work on slow-twitch muscle fibers that are often not addressed in a workout.
You may be lucky to burn over 150 calories in this class.
Power yoga is a misnomer. Many yoga classes can be considered power yoga depending on the way the teacher teaches. Know that a power yoga class you will hold poses longer, which is good for muscle energy and fat burning. You may also find classes labeled as power vinyasa classes. The best thing to do is to shop around and try several. On average you may burn 300 calories.
Hot or Bikram
These classes are conducted under 40% humidity and a temperature of 105°F (40.5°C). This reason alone will help to burn more calories. There is nothing notably special about the postures, except that they are the same twenty-six each time. The one overlooked tool that probably leads to greater calorie burning is the breathing technique. It is called ujjayi, and is meant to heat the body from the inside out. Practitioners of this style will burn between 500 – 1200 calories, considering that the class times are longer than most other styles.
If your goal is to create a well-rounded workout, then you might try to add yoga postures into the workouts you already do. Four or five postures before you begin is a good warm-up. Two postures addressing the muscle groups you are working after each set will enhance recovery time and keep the tissues elongated. Six or seven postures after your entire session will help to engrain the full cardio or strength workout. Listen to your body, and it will tell you what’s the best way for you to get those yoga calories burned more efficiently.