Tantric Yoga Roots Ancient Rituals in Modern Life
Tantric Yoga is kind of touchy.
The ancient Hindu practice gets a lot of press for its sexual image. However, if you delve deeper than the popular hype, you find that the 1,600-year-old ritual is not concerned with sexuality, but rather the goal of Tantric Yoga is to awaken and harmonize the male and female aspects within each person on a spiritual level, according to Yoga World.
There are so many different elements and schools of thought on Tantric Yoga that I started researching and was quickly overwhelmed. Better to start with the basics.
Yoga is a mental, spiritual and physical discipline stretching back 6,000 years to ancient India, and is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism and Buddhism. "Yoga", in Sanskrit, can be loosely translated as "union"; the original root word yuj means "to yoke" or "attach" yourself to a task. Many people think of yoga as simply easy stretching. However, the ancient "yogis" developed these physical stretches and breathing exercises to both strengthen and also loosen their muscles and minds in preparation for hours of meditation and spiritual contemplation. In yoga, the purpose is to find union, or balance, between mind and body.
"Tantra" is the name scholars give to the style of religious ritual and meditation that arose in medieval India in the Fifth century AD. The earliest documented use of the word Tantra is in the Hindu text, the Rigveda; and Tantra is perceived to have influenced all medieval forms of Indian religious expression to some degree, according to Wikipedia. Tantric practitioners seek to use "prana", the Hindu name for the energy that flows through the universe (including one's own body), to attain goals that may be spiritual, material or both, Wikipedia cites.
The intention of Tantric Yoga is to expand awareness in all states of consciousness, being awake, or in a dream or sleep state, according to both Yoga World and the Sanatan Society. The point is to identify what factors influence our thoughts and feelings, to transcend obstacles, and to create peace, harmony and balance in how we regard ourselves, others and our surroundings, states the Sanatan Society.
By means of physical yoga postures, breathing exercises, contemplation, visualization and repetition of a "mantra", Tantric Yoga helps unfold a person's divine nature, state multiple sources on the subject.
"The Tantric viewpoint is that at our core, all of us are divine and good," explains Nancy Goodfellow, yoga instructor at Pranamar Oceanfront Villas and Yoga Retreat in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. "Holding this viewpoint, you can see the goodness in the world instead of focusing on negativity. That's how expansion relates to Tantric Yoga, the exploration of our divine nature."
Costa Rica's Playa Santa Teresa shines with holiday festivities
Walking in a winter wonderland is just a tad different on Costa Rica’s Santa Teresa Beach. Rather than the traditional “white Christmas” and “snow glistening in the lane” scene, it is closer to Frosty the Snowman’s situation … “The sun was hot that day. So he said, let’s run and we'll have some fun now before I melt away."
Get your groove on for the holidays with a unique and fantastic Live Music Yoga Class on Dec. 28th at Pranamar Oceanfront Villas, led by renowned yoga instructors Nancy Goodfellow and Esteban Salazar. Be prepared to “let your spirit soar” says Nancy with “Pulsations in Nature” from 5:00-7:30 pm in the hotel’s Yoga Shala. All levels are invited. Contact Pranamar Oceanfront Villas at 2640-0852 for reservations and details.
Later this month, the big jolly guy with a beard and red suit will be taking his around-the-world whirl. If I were one of his helpful elves, I’d recommend stopping off last in Santa Teresa and bringing a surfboard and some shades. Known for its romantic tropical beaches, spectacular sunsets, epic surf breaks, and bohemian international town, Santa Teresa is your quintessential tropical paradise. Lying on the remote southwestern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula along the rugged Pacific Coast, Playa Santa Teresa was voted the #1 beach in Central America for 2012 by Trip Advisor.
Pranamar Oceanfront Villas and Yoga Retreat in Santa Teresa also believe in sharing their Christmas spirit with the local community. They invite all guests coming to Pranamar Villas and Playa Santa Teresa during this holiday season to toss a few notebooks, pencils, pens and other school supplies in your suitcase to donate to the local Malpais Elementary School. This year’s “Children’s Christmas Campaign” is themed the “Gift of Art.” The hotel administration will be collecting school and art supplies, and also financial donations, during December and January for the school. Pranamar’s goal is to bring joy to the schoolchildren with 10 art boxes filled with art supplies for the new academic year starting in February 2013. Pranamar Villas’ employees also will have a donation box, in lieu of exchanging gifts, at the hotel to give toys and/or money to purchase toys for disadvantaged children in town.
Is Eco-friendly Hospitality Really Green?
Do you like to work out in your hotel’s gym when you’re away? If you happen to be staying in Denmark’s Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, keeping fit while traveling will help generate the hotel’s electricity and earn you meal vouchers in their restaurant. The flagship eco-hotel is the first hotel in Denmark to generate all of its power from renewable sources – solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling pumps, and stationary bicycles connected to generators which provide the hotel’s electricity. Guests can pedal for only 15 minutes or so and “earn” enough electricity wattage to score a free meal voucher, plus personally contribute to the planet.
This novel idea is the latest twist in the eco-friendly hospitality movement that not only benefits the hotel, but gets guests involved in a real-time personal way.
Eco-consciousness as a buzzword has turned into a billion-dollar business ranging from everything from the hospitality and tourism industries to clothing, cosmetics, cars, cleaning products, and corporate philosophies.In technology, you’ve got solar-powered laptops, bamboo iPhone cases, and now a new eco-friendly light bulb called LIFX LED that you can manipulate its color and brightness from your smartphone via WIFi. You can even match the light’s settings to the songs on your playlist. How geeky is that?
Healthy, long life thriving on Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula
I want to be part of a Blue Zone. What is a “Blue Zone,” you ask? It is a place where people live happily and healthily for a very long time. The term was popularized by author-educator-explorer Dan Buettner in his 2008 book, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from People Who’ve Lived the Longest.” Published by the National Geographic Society, Buettner identified places in the world there is a high concentration of persons over age 100, and there is a substantial disability-free and disease-free life expectancy. Why are they called “Blue Zones”? The name comes from a 2004 demographic study called “Identification of a Geographic Area Characterized by Extreme Longevity in the Sardinia Island: the AKEA study” (Experimental Gerontology by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, among other authors). The study identified Sardinia’s Barbagia region as an area with a very high concentration of men over age 100. As the authors discovered more clusters of long longevity in the world, they began drawing blue circles around them on maps, referring to the areas as “Blue Zones.” To my delight, Costa Rica has its own Blue Zone – the Nicoya Peninsula! According to Buettner’s studies, the Nicoya Peninsula has the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and the second highest convergence of male centenarians. Costa Rica indeed does celebrate its elderly citizens; every person who has a 100th birthday is featured on the national news. As of June 2012, our tiny country reported 417 citizens over the age of 100; the country’s official population is more or less 4.5 million. Costa Rican Photographer Mónica Quesada is creating a book and video documenting Ticos who have lived a century. More information at www.indiegogo.com/CRCentenarians. Buettner’s research with National Geographic also turned up longevity hotspots in Okinawa, Japan; the Aegean island of Ikaria, Greece; a Seventh Day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California; and we already know about the mountainous Barbagia region of inner Sardinia, off the western coast of Italy. So what’s the secret? Buettner’s team of researchers and specialists found interesting similarities among the Nicoyan centenarians that are common characteristics in all of the other Blue Zones: .
- Have a “plan de vida,” or reason to live; it also can be called “why I get up in the morning”. Centenarians say they feel needed, with a sense of purpose that often centers on their family.
- Focus on your family and friends. Having a good relationship with their family and maintaining a strong social network contributes greatly to centenarians’ sense of purpose and well-being. People of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities.
- Have Faith. The Nicoyans’ strong belief in God and their “faith routines” help relieve stress and anxiety. Almost all of the centenarians interviewed around the world for Buettner’s book belonged to a faith-based community of some form.
- Work hard. Nicoyan centenarians maintain a strong work ethic, which keeps them active and healthy while contributing to their sense of purpose. Moderate physical activity is a normal part of daily life – walking, bicycling, gardening, cooking, keeping up the house, taking care of animals, etc.
- Drink hard water. High amounts of calcium and magnesium, essential for bone and muscle strength, abound in Nicoya’s water. By drinking and cooking with this water, people here get their daily intake of calcium throughout their entire lives.
- Healthy diet. Most of the various Blue Zone residents in the world eat a primarily plant-based diet, especially legumes (all kinds of beans, peas and lentils). They also eat rich, colorful fruits – in Nicoya, they eat marañon, the red-orange cashew tree fruit that has more vitamin C than oranges, and noni, a pear-like fruit rich in antioxidants. Nicoyans eat their biggest meal during the day and their smallest meal at night. Japanese centenarians have a rule to eat only until their stomachs are 80% full to avoid being “overstuffed.”
- Get some sun. Nicoyans enjoy healthy doses of daily sun, enriching their bodies with Vitamin D. Getting at least 15 minutes every day can decrease the risk for osteoporosis and heart disease, experts say.
- Get Sleep. Nicoyans sleep an average of 8 hours per day. They more or less go to sleep soon after nightfall and wake with the sun.
- No smoking. Smoking is not common in Blue Zone communities.
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