What is yoga?

Guest blog by Richard Kravetz:  A wonderful Indian Swami I had the privilege to meet on my first trip to India talked about happiness and sadness as impermanent states and that we yearn for the former to remain and the latter to end. I believe that when these dips occur a spiritual connection can help to redress the balance and bridge the gap.

Yoga is a way of life and helps to achieve calmness of mind and equanimity. A yoga class can be a place of refuge from the chaos of everyday life, where you can spend quality time in a safe place. It can raise spirits and induce a feeling of well-being.

People are generally hard on themselves and suffer pain, stress, fear, and ailments that are undesirable but both yoga and meditation are powerful antidotes. You owe it to yourself to delve deeper and receive the goodness we deserve and need.

In Sanskrit, the term ‘yoga’ stands for ‘union’. A yogi’s ultimate goal is to be able to attain this ‘union’ with the eternal self with the help of the physical and mental exercises.

In the west yoga is primarily considered to be physical, but there is an increasing trend towards viewing yoga as a preparation for meditation (stillness of mind). Meditation is a wonderful practice where words have no relevance, and being present without distraction is the aim.

Regular meditators talk about experiencing a higher state of consciousness and a movement towards a blissful state or Samadhi – see below. In yoga there is a word “Sankalpa” which means an intention to change something in your life. If you concentrate on this during meditation it helps to sow the seed inside you and strengthen your resolve.

Yoga philosophy is a valid discipline of Indian metaphysics (Brahma Vidya). It is the result of human wisdom and insight into physiology, psychology, ethics and spirituality combined and practised over thousands of years for the wellbeing of human beings.

The knowledge of yoga and its practices was systemised by Mahirishi Patanjali who encapsulated them in his Yoga sutras known as the 8 limbs of Yoga.

  • Yama – eternal Vows, how we can be at peace with ourselves.
  • Niyama – observances, how we interact with the world.
  • Asanas – postures to keep the body strong, flexible and without tension.
  • Pranayama – breathing exercises, and movement of prana.
  • Pratyahara – movement of the senses towards silence.
  • Dharana – concentration and cultivating inner awareness.
  • Dhyana – sustaining awareness for meditation.
  • Samadhi – transformation, blissful state.

The essence of Samadhi is by cleansing the mind and controlling thought processes allows one to return to that primeval state, when the individual self was nothing but a part of the Divine Self. The aim is for the yogi is to be able to perceive the world in its true light and to accept that truth in its entirety.

Richard Kravetz is a British Wheel of Yoga teacher, who runs yoga classes in London for adults, workshops, weekend retreats and special needs classes for children and adults. Contact him at richard@yogaforall-uk.com, 020 8349 9602, or visit: www.yogaforall-uk.com

Richard is running a Special Needs Yoga Workshop on 20-21 April 2013 in North London. Call 020 8968 1900 or email jess@specialyoga.org.uk for information.

Pharmaceutical industry’s octopus tentacles

I had an interesting spat with Tom Chivers of the Daily Telegraph who criticised Jeremy Hunt, the new Secretary of State for Health,  for believing in homeopathy.  I asked him if he’d ever tried it and he said, ‘I’m glad you found it helpful. But the reason I can be sure homeopathy doesn’t work is the same way I can be sure that methicillin does work, even though I’ve never tried that either; because it has been rigorously tested, in randomised controlled trials designed to overcome humans’ cognitive biases.’

Interesting that he has so much faith in conventional medicine particularly in the light of a 900 page book called, a Guide to the 4,000 Useful, Useless or Dangerous Medicines which claims that half of the medicines prescribed in France are considered useless by Professor Philippe Even, director of the Necker Institute,and Bernard Debré (as reported in the Guardian, 15 September 2012). 

they claim that if the ‘superfluous and hazardous drugs’ were removed from the health service it would save up to £8 billion a year and prevent up to 20,000 deaths linked to medication. Apparently 12 per cent of GDP  is spent on prescriptions each year in France, while it’s 9.6 per cent in the UK.

Among the medicines that were considered “completely useless” were statins, prescribed to many people to lower cholesterol, but there were many more claimed as dangerous too.   The quote from Professor Even was colourful:

‘The pharmaceutical industry is the most lucrative, the most cynical and the least ethical of all the industries. It is like an octopus with tentacles that has infiltrated all the decision-making bodies, world health organisations, governments, parliaments, high administrations in health and hospitals and the medical profession.

‘It has done this with the connivance and occasionally the corruption of the medical profession. It is the pharmaceutical industry that now outlines the entire medical landscape in our country.’

9 Therapies: What’s the best emotional release technique?

Guest blog by Dr Lisa Turner
One of the biggest myths portrayed by the media, films and stories is that once you’ve had a traumatic experience, you will be emotionally scarred for life and that the best you can hope for is to learn to live with it, understand it.

However, recent years have brought about a plethora of techniques to release emotions. This list has been put together based on my personal experience of these therapies in my own quest to recover from childhood sexual abuse.

I am walking testament to the fact that emotions CAN be released. Limiting beliefs like “I’m no good / I deserve to be punished” can be released forever.

Here is a list of some of the most popular techniques:

Psychotherapy – Essentially a “talking cure” centring on the client talking through their issues with a therapist. The idea is that talking about your problems and past will give you a better understanding of yourself and raise self-awareness.

Affirmations – Saying positive affirmations might change your state or mood in the short term, but it doesn’t remove limiting beliefs. Also, in order for affirmations to change your state you have to remember to say them.

Psychodrama – This is where you act out painful situations from your past and change them so you can experience something different, like fighting back, feeling more powerful.

EFT – This technique is based on tapping meridians to release the emotion. The tapping points are usually on the face, torso and hands.

EmoTrance – By paying attention to where you feel the emotion in your body, allowing it to soften and flow using attention, the feeling leaves your body and with it, the emotion.

Shamanic Healing – Based on various tribal cultures this uses altered states of consciousness, dream work, energy work and symbolism to change your experience of the physical reality.

NLP Neuro-Linguistic Programming and hypnosis – NLP is a collection of techniques that are based on modelling successful therapists and therapies. I found this amazingly successful at enabling me to access more resources and cope with situations that had previously caused me great anxiety. It’s quick and effective.

Timeline Therapy – TLT is phenomenally powerful and as someone who had been haunted by my past daily, was barely able to function normally, and found even the most ordinary situations traumatic and terrifying. TLT was a miracle.

Higher Self Therapy – This technique is even more effective than Time Line Therapy as it is even quicker and removes emotions at an even deeper level. Whereas TLT removes the emotions from the emotional and mental body, Higher Self Therapy also releases it from a soul or karmic level.

These last two are the ones I now teach to my students and are the ones I recommend most highly. If you have had trauma in the past, even if you are not healed yet, please take this one thing from reading this. YOU CAN RECOVER. All you have to do is decide.

If you have decided, get free instant access to how to recover from abuse, go to www.recoverfromabuse.com

 

Lisa is a Trainer of NLP, Time Line therapy, Hypnosis, NLP Coaching, Shamanic healing and other healing processes. If you have been affected by any of the topics mentioned here contact me via lisaturner@psycademy.co.uk  All information will be treated in the strictest confidence.

A nation without teeth

Are we going to end up with a lot of people having their teeth removed because they’ve rotted?  Private practices seem to be going the American way – or rather the celebrity route – with whitening and perfect straight teeth the goal, but at a phenomenal price.  For some years it has been difficult to find an NHS dentist, so many of us have had to resort to private practices, although some do both private and NHS work.

The discrepancy in prices is quite incredible, and an Office of Fair Trading report has just highlighted how many dentists won’t do some treatments (such as bridges) on the NHS, forcing patients to pay privately.

Without intending to do research I had some personal experiences – one person in my family was provided with an estimate for £761.00 including several extractions right at the front of his mouth. He found an NHS dentist online and paid them a visit – he ended up paying less than £100 to get relief from his toothache, and was advised that he might need one extraction (not four).

Trying to get an appointment for myself I found that my dentist was no longer answering the phone – the upshot of this was that he had skipped the country. I was happy with my dentist – he had removed all my amalgam fillings, which I believe has made me healthier. I thought I’d try a new dentist and was shocked (a) to have to pay £86.90 for a check up and two (small) X-rays, and (b)  to be told I needed to see  a hygienist at £91.80.

Needless to say I decided not to go back and swapped to the afore-mentioned NHS dentist. The check-up cost £17.50 including X-rays, the hygienist costs £32.  To have a white filling I would have to pay privately as the NHS still only provides amalgam fillings (this is a whole other subject – see the article Mouthful of Mercury).

The moral of the story is don’t put up with ridiculous prices – shop around and yes there seem to be more NHS dentists out there.

 

Guest blog: Depression

Caroline Carr: Depression affects everyone’s life in one way or another – either directly through experiencing it yourself, or indirectly through loving or caring about someone who does. It is likely to be the result of a combination of some of the following: life circumstances – what has occurred, and what is occurring in the person’s life, the type of personality a person has, and how they deal with things generally, whether or not depression runs in the family, genes and DNA.

Depression can come on suddenly as the result of a trauma or stressful event – although it may not show up till some time afterwards. Or it can build up for years. Some people can have one bout during their lives – or several. Others feel sad and gloomy for months or years. In some cases, it never really goes away.

When a person is depressed, they can become so focused on their negative thoughts and feelings, that it becomes their normal mood state. They can’t seem to break this. To them, everything has a down side – as if they are stuck in an ever-shrinking, oppressive mental black box. They cannot just ‘snap out of it’ – they would if they could, because all they want is to feel better. People describe feeling as if their life is spiralling out of control; therefore any unhelpful behaviour is likely to be a result of that.

Everyone’s experience differs, and this may change as they sink into a deeper state of depression. It is thought that men and women experience and deal with depression differently too. Some people feel and exhibit anger, some do not. Many people do not have the energy to be angry. They may be in a state of lethargy and hopelessness.

Different types of depression are more debilitating than others – and more serious.

Categories and types include:

Bipolar Disorder (manic depression)
Generally characterized by severe mood swings – ‘up’ periods of mania with huge surges of energy and activity, and sometimes irritability and anger, then severe crashing ‘lows’ – the depression. Some people only experience these occasionally, and others may have up to five or six episodes a year. For more details see: www.mdf.org.uk

Post-natal depression:
This can be very serious, and the mother and others around her may not recognise it for what it is. Often it doesn’t show up until months after the baby is born.  A woman suffering with post natal depression needs a great deal of support.  For more details see: http://www.pni-uk.com/ , and  www.apni.org

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
SAD affects some people over the winter months due to reduced exposure to light. This is thought to affect the chemistry in the brain. It is fairly common in the UK, and the symptoms are similar to those of depression.  But, some people are affected adversely by bright sunlight and hot weather too, particularly if they are experiencing high levels of anxiety. For more details, see the article on Healthy Soul: Are you sad?

Clinical Depression 
This is when a person’s mood is generally low, and this affects all aspects of their life for longer than a few weeks. Often, it’s not triggered by anything in particular.  It seems to come from a shift or change ‘within’ the person, and there may be no obvious reason for it. 

I think it’s really important to see the doctor in the first instance, because any symptoms could be due to something else, such as another illness or infection, or a deficiency of some kind. Assuming that there are no medical issues though, treatment offered usually includes medication, often combined with talking therapy such as psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). However, many complementary therapies work really well in the treatment of depression.

Here are a few links to organisations who are doing fantastic work to raise awareness and to provide information and support about depression and other aspects of mental health:

www.sane.org.uk
www.mind.org.uk

www.depressionalliance.org
www.blackdogtribe.com
www.rethink.org
There is also: www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx
And my own organisation to support partners: www.mypartnerisdepressed.com

Caroline Carr is the founder of  http://www.mypartnerisdepressed.com/. She is a hypnotherapist and life coach and the author of  Living With Depression – how to cope when your partner is depressed.