E-RYT 500, C.Y.T., R.P.C., DIHom.

Nora Benian 

Yoga Therapy & Life Counselling

Courses/ Workshops/Retreats/ Blog

Restorative Yoga Teacher Training

Restorative yoga is a very gentle yoga practice designed to calm the nervous system and create overall health in the body. It offers simple yet powerful postures that can be integrated into existing yoga classes, healing treatments, or used to teach restorative-specific classes. Restorative yoga is a regenerative healing tool that reduces stress by supporting the body’s innate responses towards homeostasis and health. Through the use of supported yoga postures, breathing, and meditative techniques, a profound sense of relaxation can infuse one’s entire being, which leads to healing.

Restorative yoga techniques are helpful in the treatment of nervous system disorders, such as insomnia, hypertension, anxiety, and also with specific ailments such as cancer, although it is often used for structural re-alignment and the healing of injuries.

When the body is fully supported, it will naturally relax, releasing deeply held tensions. Restorative yoga is the yoga of non-doing, and focuses on effortlessness and ease, using well-placed blankets, bolsters, yoga straps, and chairs to safely support the body in various postures. This process invokes a natural state of balance, regeneration, and healing rest.

During this program, you will learn a full series of restorative postures, complemented with gentle stretching, breathing, and meditation. Through direct experience, practice teaching, and feedback, you leave with the ability to confidently teach a primary series of restorative poses to your students as well as incorporate them into your own practice.

The Restorative Yoga Teacher Training is an experiential and fundamentals course designed to provide teachers with a foundation for teaching a safe and effective restorative practice. Students will learn how to meet each student where they are, no matter the age or ability, and teach safe effective postures to heal the body and relax the mind.

Who will benefit from this training?

Certified yoga instructors wishing to expand their knowledge of restorative yoga, teach restorative yoga classes, and add to their class offerings.

You will learn:

  • The benefits of restorative yoga
  • Asanas that naturally induce a state of relaxation and restoration
  • How to effectively support the body in each posture with props
  • How to support people with injuries, stress or chronic pain
  • Restorative postures effectively integrated into hatha yoga classes
  • Restorative yoga as a stand-alone practice.

You will be able to:

  • Improve your ability to see imbalances in the body more clearly and to use restorative poses to realign, rebalance, and restore the root of the imbalance.
  • Set up 25 postures with available props and verbal cues
  • Assess support and comfort of your students
  • Ease agitation and promote relaxation
  • Suggest postures for particular therapeutic effects
  • Explain the organic and emotional benefits of postures
  • Develop an understanding of the healing process
  • Improve your ability to heal yourself and to empower others to heal themselves.

The Fundamentals of Teaching Restorative Yoga

  • Basics of restorative yoga
  • Understanding the nervous system: parasympathetic and sympathetic
  • How restorative yoga affects the nervous system
  • The well-propped pose: to prop or not to prop and why
  • Stress-related disorders caused by an imbalanced nervous system
  • How traditional wisdom and scientific understanding can be blended into a restorative yoga practice
  • Exploring restorative yoga and the five senses in a practical way.

Get inspired!
Read the blog post: The Benefits of Restorative Yoga by Nora Benian (Sundari)

Yin Yoga Teacher Training
Deepening Through Stillness in Asana 
Bridge the gap of an active life to a meditative life for yourself and your students by learning passive yoga. While practicing stillness in asanas with longer holds, our mind begins to quiet down and greater awareness and understanding emerges. Come experience an increase in energy, improved mobility, and decrease of pain.

Passive yoga is a stabilizing, de-stressing, feminine, and contemplative practice that benefits the body by increasing blood flow to connective tissues and energy flow throughout the body, and by stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid, a synovial fluid that lubricates the joints. Based on the Taoist concept of balancing the Yin and the Yang, practicing passive yoga increases flexibility in the joints, strengthens the bones, and releases the tension in the fascia allowing for prana to                                                                                                            flow more easily through previously blocked areas.

As a teacher you will learn to:

  • guide students through a basic series of passive yoga postures
  • offer verbal cues and hands-on adjustments
  • realign and restore balance
  • assess the comfort of your students
  • ease agitation and promote relaxation
  • suggest postures for particular therapeutic effects
  • explain the organic and emotional benefits of postures
  • develop an understanding of the healing process
  • improve your ability to heal yourself and empower others to heal themselves.

Please note A wonderful complement to any other form of yoga, this training for yoga teachers and practitioners offers 30 CEU credits.

Get inspired!
Read Finding Relaxation and Stillness in Yoga Postures: Q&A with Nora Benian (Sundari) on our blog.


                                                                                                      October 21, 2015

by Nora Benian  Posted in Restorative Yoga, Therapeutics, Yoga.

The desire for a day of rest is warranted and actually very much needed in our very busy lives. After all, if a car ran non-stop and never rested it’s life would definitely be much shorter. But how can we make this day of rest happen? Let’s be realistic, it isn’t easy to drop everything, even for a day, without worrying about falling behind in our tasks. But we can start with small increments.

If a full day is impossible, find a morning that’s yours alone, or an hour that you can dedicate to stillness and rest. Be patient, experiment. Be open to each moment and what it has to offer. Sometimes we get stuck in our progress at work; that’s a good time to walk away and do something non-work related. Every effort, has merit and brings you closer to creating more space for being, rather than doing, for rest instead of activity, and for reflection instead of relentless, busy action.

Carving time out for yourself can be fun, like a self-date. Make it a ritual with lighting candles or burning incense or making a cup of tea and just sitting with it as a spiritual practice. Give yourself the time to reflect and be still. You can begin the rest period with a chant, of OM or any other chant you are drawn to. Or even hum a little happy tune. And turn off the ambient electronics, TVs, radios, computers and white noise. Don’t be afraid of silence.

Stillness doesn’t mean mourning, although it will make you see the parts of you have chosen to ignore. That’s a good thing though, all of you deserves your attention otherwise it goes back into hiding and sulks for another eon. Look for a light touch, whether it comes instinctively or not. Strive to see what’s good about you instead of pointing out what needs fixing or improving. Take a break from the inner critic that’s so sharp-eyed and harsh. Ease is its own kind of prayer and it has its own reward.

Make breathing a focus, whether your practice includes formal meditation or simple introspection, make time to breathe consciously and listen. Geshe Michael Roach, a tibetan monk of 30 years plus, wrote in one of his books, “The Diamond Cutter” that we need to unplug from our normal activities for at least 1 hour a day, 1 day a week, and for 2 weeks a year with no stimulation. This gives the nervous system time to catch up processing information and finally rest. The nervous system is sensitive and can be overwhelmed. It isn’t a system that repairs easily. It doesn’t heal like a torn muscle. It requires complete dedication to rest without much stimuli and many years to recover even a little. The way we live in this modern world keeps us going non-stop even while we sleep so prevention of a nervous breakdown is the ultimate goal.

On your self-date you could take the time to make a special meal. Prepare it with intent, as something that will honour and enrich your rest, and eat it slowly, with pleasure. Healthy oils like coconut oil and grounding foods like root vegetables are most helpful for inducing relaxation. Being alone is helpful too if it can be done. You really get to hear yourself think. Sorting through your thoughts is how we clean out the clutter and make room for fresh inspirations. It’s like an automatic review of the week, and a fearless welcome for the days that lie ahead.

Get out of your head and into nature; take a walk. And that doesn’t necessarily mean a hike, or power-walk. Think Slow! Move gently through your yoga practice, with greater ease. Be generous to yourself; the idea is to see where you are, feel your body in space, and move organically, letting life happen.

You’d really benefit by coming to Restorative Yoga at least once a week but twice or more would be even better. ‘Undoing’ all the tension in the body caused by all the ‘doing’ that we do and particularly in the state of mind we are in while we are doing it, is the cause of all our tension. A 75 minute Restorative Yoga class gives the body time to relax quite deeply, allowing the brain and nerves to slow down the communication and feedback between them inducing a state of peace and tranquility. Practicing Restorative Yoga regularly trains the body and mind to come to this peaceful state much more easily in times of stress. It is the practice of just BEING.

Committing to these practices is like making sure you are looked after in the most important ways possible. It’s like loving yourself in the deepest way imaginable. You are the care-giver to yourself. And only you know what you really need at each moment to find inner balance. There will be weeks when the demands of work or life will seem too great to set aside. These are the times you can remind yourself of the promise you made to renew and replenish by doing nothing. And remember, a tranquil moment in a sea of activity is no small achievement at all.

Passive-Aggressive: Explanation & Cure

 Keith Artisanon Jan 21, 2014

The first time I encountered the phrase passive-aggressive was during a break-up.

Feeling hurt, I was defensive and had no idea what the words meant, and all I knew is that it was an attack and a label. Fast forward a decade filled with a great deal of introspection and inquiry into psychology, self-discovery and personality, and I would have had to agree with her. I used to be passive-aggressive, still can be, and have learned what it is, how to identify it, and the cure.

Passive-aggressive is not having the courage to speak openly and directly.

As a highly sensitive person, I am aware of the impact of my words, actions and presence on others. Most especially the people closest to me. The last thing I want to do is hurt them, bring them discomfort or mess anything up. More so, I never wanted to be seen as anything other than human, divine, and loving. I do my best, and I believe the majority of humans also try their best.

I didn’t always have passive-aggressive traits. They grew within me because of life-events; being betrayed, being ridiculed, being treated as less than human and hurt at the deepest levels. On an instinctual level I learned that I had to hide myself. To be open-hearted, expressive and intimate would only allow myself to be hurt, demeaned and abandoned.

It took years for me to recognize my fears, the causes for them, and how to live with and move past them. Most passive-aggressive people tend to have deep wounds, either from childhood or traumatic experiences in life.

The tendency to be fearful is a natural result of trauma. Nobody wants to be hurt the first time, let alone again. And when facing environments, scenarios, emotions or people that trigger past events, an instinctive defensive response arises. The instinctive response happens without thought, and precedes emotion. It is often invisible, cannot be recognized, and rests hidden deep within the subconscious. The emotions that arise are often not acknowledged, and don’t want to be lived. Fear takes precedence and the self becomes hidden from not only the other person, but more importantly to one’s own self. Often times the fear isn’t even recognized as fear. This happens quickly, and is not a thought out, deliberate or intentional response. Passive-aggressive tendencies arise from fear. The fear arises for a few reasons. It arises from not wanting to hurt the other person, or saying something that would bring negative results in one’s own life. Most commonly the fear arises because of not wanting to trigger a response in the other person that would cause them to hurt us. It is an instinctual, animal level fear that slips beneath conscious awareness.

This is what makes passive-aggressiveness maladaptive. Maladaptive is a behavior that has the opposite result of what is intended. Rather than keeping the peace, passive-aggressive tendencies drive the other person away because there is no foundation for truth. And without a solid base for communication, in the absence of security and trust, there is no chance for relationship. Fear manifests the unwanted desire through sheer emotional power. Then the harm that one is trying to avoid becomes real. And the responses one was hoping to avoid in the other arise.

Every person is passive-aggressive to some degree.

I’ve yet to meet a person who does not have this defensive trait. To understand and work with passive-aggressiveness in another person requires a depth of personal truth and security within. It means facing fears, and learning to express and live one’s own authentic self. When knowing how to heal oneself, the sensitivity for recognizing and healing others through non-doing and simple presence becomes available.

The first step to healing passive-aggressiveness is awareness within.

The cure is to be oneself, and to speak internal truth with integrity, regardless.

A person who is passive-aggressive is simply being defensive. To expect somebody to be other than as they are is harmful, and only creates more resistance. It is frightening to present oneself. In doing so, one becomes vulnerable to unwanted reactions, criticisms, judgments and all manners of imagined and real harms.

Speaking personal truth and owning one’s words, spirits and their consequences requires a great deal of courage. Finding the strength to speak openly gives emotional liberty that can be grounding, and very warming.

The cure to heal the other is to first heal oneself and to live the example.

Expressing with sensitivity the personal, individual spirit shows a person who lives in fear how to express and be open without fear. But to take action to try and change the other person is to see them as broken, and needing ‘fixed.’ Nobody wants to feel or be treated as broken. Instead, see the person through eyes of love and see the parts of them that are already whole and courageous.

Verbally appreciate with sincere gratitude the authentic spirit when it presents itself.

To communicate with a passive-aggressive individual can be frustrating.

It is easy to feel off-balanced with somebody who isn’t speaking authentically. The ability to sense that a person is incomplete with their words and not fully sharing their emotions, or speaking the entire truth, is a natural talent. Especially when knowing somebody intimately.

It can be easy to feel that the other is not being forthcoming. This does not mean that the other is being a liar, their defensiveness reveals a personal boundary that must be respected. In respecting the boundary, and being secure with oneself, the chance for healing presents itself.

To judge the person, to throw labels at them and to abandon them only reveals one’s own judgmental nature, critical mind and unloving traits.

In other words, when you recognize that a person is being passive-aggressive or defensive, to point that out or to label them as passive-aggressive will do no good, it will only cause them to retreat further and become more defensive.

Being around a person who is passive-aggressive will raise every trait of insecurity in the people around them. Self-knowledge and adherence to personal truth is that much more essential around a passive-aggressive individual, because the passive-aggressive person will undermine one’s very perspective and relationship to reality. This is why it is essential to first own and work through one’s own passive-aggressive tendencies. Without a solid personal base, the insecure person who is around passive-aggressiveness will disintegrate emotionally. Living with passive-aggressiveness takes patience.

The passive-aggressive individual is not a bad person, they are simply a person who has been deeply hurt.

And when such a person is a family member, friend, or intimate partner, the only way to stay present is with expansive love. Pushing such a person to be honest or direct does not work because they cannot see past their own fear and hurt. Space and time are essential for healing. Even more so, trusting that person and seeing the best in them can alleviate the fear and reassure them that they are trusted, held with love, and embraced with security.

Personal responsibility and living one’s own truth sets an example for others to live and embrace their own nature.

Living and treating oneself with love, sensitivity and awareness gives strength, spaciousness and resources for allowing others to be as they are.

Love remains the cure. First from within, then to without.

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Malas: The Power of 108
Posted on January 11th, 2014 by Thrive in Meditation, Yoga

by Janet Arnold-Grych

The mala I hold in my hand connects me to a lineage of seekers who held one in theirs. Malas are aligned to the Vedic tradition and thought to originate around 800 BCE.

In the sixth century BCE, the use of malas was promoted by no less than the Buddha. It’s said that a king asked the Buddha to encapsulate his teachings so the king could practice and pass them on while attending to his many earthly duties. The Buddha instructed him to make a loop of 108 bodhi seeds and recite, “I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the dharma. I take refuge in the sangha (community).”

It’s no wonder that malas are used in many different cultures—there’s something comforting and yet uplifting about holding them. While the beads serve as a practical aid for counting repetitions of one’s mantra, wish, or prayer, they also function like a prism, helping the user to focus intention. Holding one bead and one thought feels very purposeful. The mind’s incessant chatter is left behind.

A friend recently showed me how to make malas. Each has 108 beads and a larger bead, known as a guru, which is said to hold the energy generated during the mala practice. Curious about the significance of 108, I did some digging. The number 108 is auspicious.  In fact, 108 is sometimes described as the numerical equivalent of om. Here are a few points of convergence:

  • The average distance from the sun to the earth, and the moon to the earth, is 108 times their respective diameters.
  • The dance of Shiva is said to have 108 poses.
  • There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet and two variants of each—masculine and feminine.
  • There are 108 marma points (intersections between the subtle and the physical body) in the body (at least according to some traditions).
  • The heart chakra is the convergence of 108 lines of energy.

The overriding theme suggests that 108 describes the interrelationship between the inner and outer environments—and by thoughtfully moving through the beads on a mala, we connect to a greater whole. When I’m making a mala for someone, I try to eliminate all distraction and repeat a specific wish or blessing with each knot. The knot thus becomes a holder of my intention and the making of the mala becomes a practice in itself.

Malas represent a tradition of aligning intention and focus, stillness and wisdom. There is a reason their use has been carried through the centuries. Whether I’m sitting with a mala, or mindfully constructing one, I feel this potential in the beads in my hand.

Restorative Yoga is the New Power Yoga. ~ Adrienne Sarise Baggs

Aug 1, 2014

Engage the quads. Straighten the arms. Bend the knee. Now straighten the knee. Straighten the knee more! Reach, press, stretch, lengthen—more!

Power vinyasa and hot yoga were my go-to for years. Just the stench of the hot room made me feel accomplished and I loved seeing myself in the mirror kicking some yoga ass. It felt good. I felt strong and flexible. I felt capable and every once in a while that feeling spilled over into my life. I had a lot of physical tension masking my emotions and baby, I was burning through it.

One day I went to class and the teacher mentioned that we’d be doing a restorative sequence. “What?!” I thought. “That s**t was not on the schedule!” We did a total of four poses over the course of one and a half hours and the whole time I was thinking:

“Did I really just pay for this? I mean, we aren’t doing anything.” I was not a happy yogi.

Fast forward to a few years later and a myriad of stress-related life events left me feeling broken and exhausted. Every time I went to yoga, I flung open my mat and laid down. I prayed the teacher wouldn’t make us get up.

When I look back on those moments, I realize my central nervous system was in overdrive. I needed less pushing, less stretching, less muscle engagement, less effort. I needed a space where I could soften, surrender, open and rest.

I needed to be nurtured and I needed to feel safe. I started dabbling more in restorative work and slowly finding a soft place to fall. Every time I left class, I felt a little more normal and at the time, that was a huge relief.

Several years later, I got my first yoga teaching gig and thought I’d take a stab at teaching restorative yoga.

“I mean, how hard could it be, right? It’s just a few poses.” Humility set in when I realized that the people I was attracting through this practice were overworked athletes and hospice caregivers, cancer thrivers and the newly diagnosed, people healing broken spines and people healing broken hearts.

But even more important, these people weren’t just sick trying to get better.

They were on the wellness train—working hard to to prevent further illness, balance the effects of chronic stress and optimize their potential as human beings. These very wise students were giving this very “green” yoga teacher a lot to learn about this practice.

With a ton of studying, training and many mistakes along the way, I now try my hardest to offer a nurturing, open space where people can practice resting (I intentionally use the word “practice” ‘cause learning to rest ain’t easy, folks).

And even though someone passing by might see a restorative yoga class as adult nap time (which would be completely wonderful, by the way), I know these students are doing way more.

They are courageous enough to get quiet and potentially uncover physical and emotional states that are often masked by overbooked schedules and never-ending checklists.

They are aware enough to know that they must take responsibility for their own healing if they expect to be well. They are trusting enough to know the body can do amazing things when we get out of our own way and allow ourselves true rest. And over time, as each student has come and gone, I’ve come to a clear realization that even though I’ve never seen them do a standing pose, restorative yogis are warriors.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love a good sweaty yoga class. However, now I inwardly laugh at the intensity and seriousness with which I used to practice active yoga poses. Instead, when I’m needing to fill up on strength, I take it to the bolster and know that the notion “support equals release” has metaphorical implications that go way beyond the mat.

I’m practicing unclenching my jaw and softening my belly, so my body can teach my mind to stop. I’m practicing becoming aware of how I actually feel, so I know what I actually need.

I’m practicing noticing what is and accepting it, not with the intention to give up but with the intention to be honest about what is happening in my life and move forward with more authenticity.

And to me, that is some seriously power(ful) yoga.

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Back Pain: Is It All in Your Mind? No, and Yoga Helps
Posted: 10/15/2013 12:41 pm
Loren Fishman, MD

Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in New York City, Author, 'Cure Back Pain with Yoga'


There was a time when the common wisdom went along with the teachings of John Sarno, M.D.: that low back pain -- and much of all spinal pain -- results from repressed emotion and unresolved issues, especially anger. Patients were encouraged to stop physical therapy and chiropractic and to write about their emotional problems, and sometimes to seek psychotherapy. I agree that back pain can be exacerbated by stress and emotional problems, but in general I think the Sarno approach is seriously misunderstood and sometimes dangerously one-sided. X-rays, MRIs, EMGs, ultrasound and other technologies indicate that much of back pain has a physical cause. The onset of back pain is often accompanied by diagnostic information of this kind, and that matters. What I mean is that a person who feels just fine one day may then injure her back by leaning over to pull a weed or by twisting while hoisting a suitcase into an overhead airplane bin. Then in addition to the sudden and exquisite pain, an MRI may show a herniated disc or spondylolisthesis.

The Body Can Affect the Mind

Back pain can, on occasion, have a mind-body connection, as Dr. Sarno believes, and addressing that may bring relief. But it can also work the other way. Not only can the mind affect the body, the body can also affect the mind. When a person tightens up in response to pain, when a person experiences even unconscious negative emotions, the muscles can harden and stiffen or go into spasm. That's where yoga comes in. In addition to Dr. Sarno's contribution, that the mind can give you back pain, proper bodily work can have major positive effects on your mental life. I have been prescribing various yoga poses and doing them with patients for decades, and I find that this medical yoga is often extremely beneficial, relaxing, spiritually rewarding and in some cases even helps in overcoming negative emotion.

So far more than 100 clinical studies in peer-reviewed journals overwhelmingly point to benefits of yoga for back pain. Of course more study is needed, but as medical yoga enters the mainstream, yoga for back pain is beginning to seem like common sense rather than an unusual approach. The reasons are simple. While some people think staying in bed is good for a backache, few people are used to languishing about all day, and staying in bed can actually cause back pain. In fact, when you have back pain, moving around about 40 percent of your normal amount can be beneficial. In addition to movement, stretching relieves spasm and other musculoskeletal problems that are common causes of the aching back. The relaxation and stress reductions that are an integral part of yoga have well-documented benefits for almost everything, including negative emotions and almost all types of back pain.

Different Diagnoses, Different Treatments

The problem, as I see it, is that many of the clinical trials that show yoga is good for back pain lump all the diagnoses together, much as Dr. Sarno has done. For the reasons I just gave, yoga does some good almost no matter what the problem is. But to get the really substantial, situtation-changing benefit requires more specific information. Treating all back pain one way is extremely unfortunate, because in reality there are seven major causes of backache. These causes of pain are different from one another. The treatments for them are also different, so different they are sometimes contradictory. Actually what may definitively help someone with a herniated disc may hurt another person who has stenosis.

If I had to choose one pose for each type of back pain, I would recommend child's pose for spasm; locust for herniated disc; head-to-the-knee pose for central spinal stenosis; the twisted triangle for piriformis syndrome; half-lotus forward bend for spondylolisthesis; the cow for sacroiliac derangement; and twisting poses for arthritis. Since yoga is thousands of years old, teaching yoga has been going on for millennia, too. Therefore there are beginner versions of all these poses, and they can be modified to fit the needs of people with injuries. Also, there are many, many more poses I haven't listed that are good for each of the major causes of back pain.

My main recommendation is no matter what you do, don't lump all back pain together. Find out your diagnosis. Only then you can start a rational individualized treatment program.

For more by Loren Fishman, M.D., click here.

For more on natural health, click here.

Just Breathe – Ancient Practice of Pranayama can Help you Detoxify, Shed Excess Weight and Boost Overall Vitality  July 2014

By Carolanne WrightContributing Writer for Wake Up World

Forget the detox pills, fasts and other painful cleansing techniques – instead, take a cue from the yogis of India and look to the breath. Using yogic breathing techniques, we can effortlessly detoxify, burn fat and increase metabolism. With the basic act of bringing in more oxygen, vitamins and minerals are more easily absorbed, white blood cells multiply and the lymphatic system is enhanced. Through the exhale toxins are removed from the bloodstream, which revitalizes the organs and clarifies the intellect. Techniques range from a few deep breaths before a meal to more complex practices. Either way, by using this free detoxification method daily, we can easily (and economically) cleanse the body and mind.

The time-honored art of breathing

Yogis of long ago recognized the merit in calming, cleansing and balancing the body and mind with the breath. Developed over 5,000 years ago, pranayama (Sanskrit for ‘vital energy’ and ‘extend’) is an integral aspect of yogic practice. Below are several examples of how to use the breath to keep the system healthy on all levels.

Simple breath

Before each meal, take three deep breathes. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Although seemingly basic, this technique sharpens the senses of smell, taste and texture while promoting clarity. When we are clear and focused during our meals, digestion is improved and over-consumption minimized. The end result: efficiency of digestion and weight loss.

Relaxing breath

Lie flat on your back with knees bent together, bringing the feet close into the buttocks. Place hands on both sides of the naval region. Breath in a slow, deep rhythmic manner for 20 repetitions. Since the naval region is dense with nerves, relaxing this area calms emotions, strengthens the nervous system and fortifies the immune system – ultimately aiding in the removal of unnecessary thoughts and toxins from the body.

Bhastrika (Breath of Fire)

This technique helps to slim and tone the belly, boost metabolism and detoxify the body. Sit cross-legged on the floor and place both hands on the lower abdomen. Take a deep breath then begin to ‘pump’ the breath rapidly through the nose, expanding and contracting the entire belly. For visual instructions, see here.

Ujjayi (Victorious Breath)

Sitting in a comfortable position, inhale through the nose and lift the chest. Hold for two seconds. While exhaling through the nose, guide the breath to the back of the throat, creating a ocean wave like sound (sometimes referred to as the ‘Darth Vader breath’). When practiced properly, ujjayi pranayama should energize and relax. It also oxygenates the blood, builds internal body heat and removes toxins.

A note of caution: Pranayama is not recommended for those with high blood pressure.

Article Sources






Previous articles by Carolanne:

About the author:
Carolanne enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years. Through her website Thrive-Living.net she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. Follow Carolanne on Facebook, Twitter andPinterest.

Neuroscience Student Shows How Meditation Can Vanquish Mental Disorders
THE MIND UNLEASHED on 26 July, 2014 at 11:36

Can mindfulness practice (meditation) help vanquish mental disorders? According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 7.7 million Americans suffer from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – approximately 3.3% of the US population when combined. Of these, approximately 40% of the individuals with schizophrenia and 51% of those with bipolar are untreated in any given year, but with the new studies being presented by Juan Santoyo and his peers, there could be strong scientific proof that meditation could help even the most debilitating psychological disorders.

Juan Santoyo is studying neuro and contemplative sciences, and he isn’t doing it ‘just to tickle his fancy,’ but to solve the real problem of mental disorders in our society. He presented his findings at the 12th Annual International Scientific Conference of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

He noticed when his family emigrated from Columbia that many homeless people suffered from psychological orders that often went untreated. Instead of pumping them full of pharmaceutical meds, he sees another plausible solution based on the preliminary results of a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The paper describes how meditation affects a subject’s ability to change brain activity in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Given the chance to observe real-time feedback on their PCC activity, some meditators were even able to control the levels of activity there.

“You can observe both of these phenomena together and discover how they are co-determining one another,” Santoyo said. “Within 10 one-minute sessions they [participants in a meditation study] were able to develop certain strategies to evoke a certain experience and use it to drive the signal.”


Of course this is far from the first study to show how meditation can trigger mental and even genetic alterations, but for some scientists, the revelation that meditating can actually trigger molecular changes is groundbreaking. While science certainly isn’t needed to experience or even prove the benefits of this ancient practice, these studies are likely heavily contributing to doctors prescribing things like meditation to patients instead of medications.

This has profound implications for those who suffer from psychiatric conditions, since it is known that certain mental challenges can be mapped to certain areas of the mind.

In the study Santoyo was involved with, he found that carefully coded data on experience —“grounded theory methodology” — supports the formulation and testing of hypotheses and a scientific investigation of mindfulness. . . specifically to aid those who have mental health issues. In a study he published on ‘effortless awareness,’ a phenomenon that often accompanies meditation, he noticed that specific memories or thoughts that caused distress could be changed with feedback after a meditation session.

While studying at Brown University, Santoyo has also noted that “these practices [meditation] have allowed him to feel more engaged with what he is studying, to become more adept at handling difficult situations, and to perform better academically.”

From better grades, to handling life’s challenges with greater élan, to helping the homeless, the further study of meditation and mindfulness has a lot to offer. If Santoyo and others studying this phenomenon are correct, more than 7 million Americans could benefit.

Credits: Written by Christina Sarich of naturalsociety.com, Guest Contributor

Featured image credits: PsyBlog

Science Theory Shows We Can Reprogram Our DNA to Heal Ourselves with Vibration
AUGUST 8, 2014 / 63642 VIEWS

As though to confirm the hunch many of us had that our ‘junk’ DNA was anything but disposable, researchers from the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at Sydney’s Centenary Institute have proven that 97 percent of human DNA programs or encodes proteins in our bodies. One of the researchers involved in this study said, “this discovery, involving what was previously referred to as “junk,” opens up a new level of gene expression control . . .”  

This also means there are multiple modalities that mainstream science has yet to give a nod to, which just might re-train or reprogram our DNA — even cells which have become cancerous or are mutilated by the onslaught of toxins in our environment and negative emotional baggage which has been proven to have an undesirable impact on health. Many people have compared human DNA to the Internet. It communicates immense amounts of information in microcosmically small, but significant ways, mimicking a vast network of information portals, not unlike the billions of websites connected to one another all over the world. It may account for our intuition, spontaneous healing, and a number of other phenomena that mainstream science is just beginning to understand.


Chaos theory states that chaotic appearances are just a very complex system affected by very subtle changes in an almost infinite array of varying possibilities. When you consider that humans have 3 billion base pairs of DNA, most of which are identical, but that there are at least 3 billion raised to the 4th power (4 raised to 3,000,000,000) of positions possible – a number larger than the number of particles in the Universe – you might just call DNA a highly organized but extremely complex system – seeming chaos. Is it not possible that such a complex system can be affected by very subtle shifts of light or sound, even the human voice?


There are numerous scientists (not to mention thousands of years of spiritual adepts) who claim light and sound alter our DNA and directly influence our biology. DNA is a type of language, albeit a complex one. Computer simulations and a purely biological approach to understanding the language, have failed however, in the same way that language fails to describe ‘ascended states.’

Mainstream science will tell us that while DNA involves construction rules that affect different sequences, the ‘dictionary’ of DNA does not follow Zipf’s law, which every other natural language follows. So, even though DNA has structure, it is not a language. I heartily disagree. If you have ever watched a musician who was skilled in playing his or her instrument technically, to absolute perfection, but somehow lost the emotional ‘language’ which is necessary to convey an ovation-inspired performance, then you understand that stringing together a perfect phrase or sequence of notes does not account for an entirely separate and subtle language that speaks to the human heart and mind. It is the technical perfection of the right rhythms and notes paired with heart and passion which brings us to our feet. Similarly, DNA can be strung together in its typical set of A-T or C-G, but it is the junk DNA which might decide whether your cells cause you to develop cancer or be gifted with the ability to see clairvoyantly.

Russian linguists, Dr. Pjotr Garajajev and Vladimir Poponin found that DNA does follow similar patterns and rules to human language, but this is not the most interesting information, by a long shot. In fact, biologist, Dr. David Deamer and Susan Alexjander, who holds an MA in music, have discovered that DNA makes its own beautiful music before we even try to alter it. The two measured the actual molecular vibrations of DNA and recorded it using an infrared spectrophotometer. They exposed each section of DNA to infrared light and measured the wavelength it absorbed, and therefore determined its sound frequency. What it made was ‘hauntingly beautiful’ music. “Some of the combinations of frequencies,” Alexjander said, “. . .they are just stunning. It sounds alive to me.”


While interesting and inspiring, at least to the imagination, ideas of singing DNA and re-structuring DNA with intentional frequency are certainly difficult to find in practical application and are as of yet lacking legitimate scientific validation. As with Chi, the mapped out essence of life to Chinese medicine, the difficulty in finding verifiable proof and use for these theories is something that has earned this line of thinking the title of new age and pseudo-science.

Science does, however confirm that sound and light can and do directly influence the body’ healing processes. Researchers at the University of Cincinatti have had measurable success in applying high-frequency electrical signals to vascular cells with great effect in healing chronic, persistent wounds like diabetic ulcers. For decades the mystery of Royal Rife and his frequency healing machines have been touted by many as the end-all cure for a wide array of diseases, parasites, and bacterial and fungal infections. His discoveries suggest that every living organism has its own unique resonant frequency and that by subjecting the body to electrical currents that target specific pathogens, diseases and ailments can be neutralized and destroyed without pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures. Furthermore, acupuncture, the ancient Chinese system of medicine that works directly with the body’s energy conduits and has offered tangible healing benefits to millions over many centuries, has also recently been validated by scientific research.

These examples corroborate, to a degree, the ancient spiritual notion that the human body is enlivened by a subtle energetic system that can be manipulated by the application of sound, light and intention. For one to understand this on experiential terms, however, it is necessary to cultivate the sensitivity to detect and direct this energy, but for many, this process of cultivation is simply too demanding and too methodical to be assimilated as a habitual part of daily life. Most people simply do not have the patience in our fast paced environment to achieve the awareness of this, scientists included.


While science is making exciting advances in understanding our quantum universe, the timeless healing modalities of shamanism have of late been forcing their way into the popular conversation about healing and spiritual development. In fact, shamanism may offer us the best example of how the use of sound and directed energy can bring about healing in the body and psyche.

In a shamanic healers toolkit, the most commonly utilized and highly prized agents of healing are often Icaros, which are Sacred songs sung by the doctor to the patient to affect health and well-being by enchanting the subtle and unseen spiritual influences that may be gripping the body and psyche. In addition to Icaros, shaman will also often employ chacapas, bundled dried leaves, as well as other musical or tuning instruments which create sounds that are influential to the body’s energetic system.

Often coupled with the use of plant medicines, shamanic practices can have powerfully positive effects on the sick, and some scientists are recognizing that the alkaloid rich medicine Ayahuasca may be able to assist in curing cancer. Eduardo E. Schenberg of the Federal University of Sao Paulo, has recently publicized research indicating that the compounds DMT and harmine, found in Ayahuasca, have “been shown to induce the death of some cancer cells and inhibit the proliferation of human carcinoma cells.”

While reductionist science is good at isolating molecular reactions, the truth is that any research on the subject of Ayahuasca is incomplete without acknowledging the beneficial presence of shamanic healers who are capable of bringing out the highest energetic potential of the effects of any chemical compounds within Ayahuasca, or any other plant medicine. Administering the compounds without the context of genuine shamanism is hollow, and lacks the full picture of the healing potential of shamanic medicines. The primary means in which shaman communicate with a patient is through their Icaros and other instruments of sound and vibration, which demonstrates their understanding that a significant part of the science of healing is working with vibration and frequency.


While certainly an interesting idea to muse, hard evidence that frequency and vibration can directly effect DNA and the body’s healing processes is still forthcoming, however, there is an ample body of experiential human evidence to inspire and warrant further examination of this topic.

This is not an easy theory to prove, or disprove, and the answers are unlikely to satisfy everyone. The best that we can see is that truth is relative to personal experience in some ways, and when an individual has spiritual, or cosmic experiences that do not fall within the explainable territory of rigid science, they unfortunately are left high and dry by a world paradigm that is stringently adamant on disproving mysticism.

Certainly, this is a complicated and sometimes heated topic%

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Credit: Waking Times