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10 Tips For Teaching Middle School Math

As a teacher for 11 years and middle-school math teaching consultant, I’ve seen a wide array of different math programs and classes. I’m sharing here the 10 best teaching tips I’ve compiled over the years.

1. Provide compelling content to study.

Years ago, a colleague I was working with said, “Maybe class can be fun, but I can’t make class compelling. I have to teach math!” It’s an assumption worth exploring.

Take Ron Berger’s middle-school math project to study levels radon in their own homes. Studying radon is boring. But Berger’s class project has got to be one of the most compelling projects in math class history. What if his students discovered dangerous levels of radon in the homes of one geographic area and published the results as they had intended? What would happen to real estate values in that area? What he found is that students were highly engaged in mapping, taking averages, looking at standard deviations- students that heretofore didn’t care one bit about radon or the other concepts.

So what’s the trick? The trick is that there isn’t one. You can’t trick students into finding something compelling if it isn’t. Take a little bit of time to develop a few topics of study throughout the year that you find compelling- the Economy, the Presidential Campaigns, the Human Body, etc. Find an authentic way to present your result- the paper, the web, a magazine. Keep the project small, authentic and do-able.

Students of teachers that do take this kind of time have better outcomes on state tests than students of teachers who only stick to the text. Almost any social studies context provides a backdrop for learning that adds depth.

Even teachers who hold a math “topics” class only once a month see real benefits, so you don’t have to abandon your regular class. And, you’ll find that students are more engaged when regular class is held.

If you want to go really deep and have solid administrator support, look into the school reform movement of Expeditionary Learning Schools who have an excellent approach to thematic teaching.

2. Don’t use extraneous rewards such as candy, purchase points, stickers, etc.

There is nothing more certain than seeing the culture of a math class decline over a period of years when a teacher bribes them. The intent of the teacher, of course, is good. A teacher cares about his or her students and wants the very best for them. “I don’t care how they learn math,” one teacher said to me. “I just want them to learn it so that they are prepared.” The teacher cared enough to purchase candy out of her own pocket, but the real message to students is this: the “positive reinforcement” of candy means “math isn’t worth doing on its own.” The research is clear on the matter too, and shows us that extrinsic, non-relevant rewards hurt learning.

Even if the effects aren’t immediate, over time so called “positive reinforcements” like these mentioned above erode an otherwise high-quality math program. As a teacher, you are much better off trying to create inherently compelling curriculum than buying candy.

3. Build a culture where students teach each other.

For many teachers, one student helping another is called cheating. But I actually found that the better middle-school math programs all encouraged students to team together at certain times throughout the week. The activities were usually graded as complete or not-complete, and when tied to meaningful tasks, such as building a survey together and collecting original data, student comprehension was greater than on individual tasks.

Building the kind of culture that works for student pairs or groups takes years and lots of practice. But before you give up and decide it doesn’t work, determine if you are following tips #1 and #2 first.

4. Give less, but more meaningful work, including homework.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study labels the curriculum in the United States as “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Their review of math texts in middle-school found that some were almost 700 pages long. With heavy pressure to teach to the standards, as a teacher you might be tempted to skip and jump to many topics throughout the text. Don’t. It achieves little learning.

Choose the most important pieces before the beginning of the year, and keep it simple. Teach the concepts you do teach with depth.

The national advisory counsel formed from the study recommended “put first things first” and suggested that indeed, less is more. Take the time to cull the curriculum to a manageable size for your students, and present them with only that. If you have to “cover” standards, find out what standards and document when you indeed teach them in class. You’ll find that teaching with depth often reaches to a broad array of standards.

It’s helpful to know what’s driving the breadth. As the national study panel concurs, publishers are trying to meet demands of hundreds of different districts by including everything that any school might want. And while publishers have been attempting custom publishing, it is just as difficult to create a math curriculum for a small district as a large one. Thus, the challenges of book publishing lead to a single, uniformly created overarching textbook. Often this is a very large text or an entire series.

In the classroom, teachers and students become overwhelmed and unable to handle the scope or breadth of learning in this form. As teachers, we have to recognize that predominantly negative emotions surround math in middle-school, and that anything we can reduce those emotions will go a long way toward gains in learning learning. Placing a 500 page text in front of a 7th grade student is unlikely to help, so use it sparingly and build little, home-made notebooks for daily use.

5. Model thinking, not solutions or answers.

Don’t show a student how to solve something. Instead “think aloud”. For example, you might have a whiteboard with a problem up, and start by saying, “o.k., I notice that the 4 numbers I am to sum are all in the thousands category, and that the first is near 3,000, the second near 5,000, and the third… I am confused about…” Model exactly what you thinking including confusion, emotions, skills, strategies and more.

When you do this, also let your students know how mathematicians think. One piece of research that is helpful to know is that mathematicians spend a long time thinking about how to set up a problem, a little bit of time doing the problem, and a long time “looking back” by asking the question, “Does this make sense?’ Model that for your students, by putting up a complex problem on the board and spending time not just jumping into a solution, but just talking about what strategies you might use to solve the problem.

6. Provide feedback that is immediate, relevant to the task, non-comparative, and leads the way to next steps.

Many teachers believe that grading is a form of feedback. It isn’t. Grading, when done well, can be a form of assessment of learning, but the distinction should be clear. Grades are not an effective tool as assessment for learning. Grades are the end of the road, when you assess what has been learned, but they should not be intended to inform a student where to go next.

Take, for example, three groups of students who received different kinds of “feedback” on math papers they had “turned in.” The first group received only narrative feedback (no score) informing them where and how they made mistakes. The second group received a grade (or score) and narrative feedback. The third group received just a grade. Not surprisingly, the students who received narrative feedback improved when re-tested. Those who had received only a grade did not have the information to improve, and performed the same when re-tested. But here is the surprising part. There was no difference between “grade-only” group and the group that received the grade and narrative feedback. Why? The students who received both a grade and narrative feedback completely ignored the written suggestions and only looked at the score. “I got a blah, blah, blah… what did you get?”

Because we live in a world where grades and formalized assessments are so important, work with the system by differentiating assessment for learning and assessment of learning.

When you are grading, one guide is to reference Rick Stiggins strategies of assessment for learning. That way, when you are conducting an assessment of learning (i.e. grading), you’ll notice that you are momentarily stepping out of the role of improving a student’s learning and won’t have the conflict of trying to do two things at once.

7. Change mimeographed sheets to problems you and your students personally develop.

A pervasive aspect of our culture is to give out page after page of information. In faculty meetings, business meetings and conferences, hundreds of pages of documents are handed out. It makes us look organized and prepared. It’s also a way to “cover” content. But for a middle-school math student, it also makes it hard to determine what is important. Was it the fractions part? Was it the decimals section? Was it the number line? Was it the triangle puzzle problem? Was it the cartoon?

Instead of another mimeographed page, have your student write their own story problems. Tell them to add artwork for comprehension. Give them the latitude to make them fun. Celebrate them by posting them in class. Give them 5 home-made story problems they create for homework instead of a mimeographed sheet with 30 problems, and really dive into improving them through revision.

8. Use story to teach math.

Write a story, a real story with characters and plot, and add the math problem set. Write about wizards that need to use angles for their sorcery. Write about spice trading ships on the deep seas. Write a story that lasts a whole page before even getting to the math portion. You’ve engaged the right-side, or less analytical, part of the brain and you’ll see a powerful effect of enhanced engagement.

9. Get math tutor volunteers once a week for two-months before state testing.

As a teacher or administrator, spend time during the fall months by planning for and scheduling a single day each week during the months of February and March (right before testing) to have volunteers come in to teach math in small groups. But what’s nice is that if developed correctly, these volunteers don’t need to have any special training in math.

Start with a simple plan. Each student has 10 skills they have chosen to work on during the whole class tutoring session and have written down their practice problems in class. The phone calls are made, the specific planning with an administrator is done, and volunteers come in and help the students answer the 10 questions during class with support. Schedule tutoring once every week for two months before testing and see your scores greatly improve.

10. Work with the emotions your students have for math.

10a. Ask your students how they feel about math. Use a bit of class time periodically to gain a better sense of where they are. And, just let them feel how they feel. If they like math, they like it. If they are bored, empathize. If your students can’t stand math, you will gain far more ground by seeing their perspective than trying to prove they are wrong. As a teacher this is hard because we are so accustomed to trying to “fix” the situation, and of course, our ego is tied to student emotion. If our students are bored, we feel like we aren’t doing the right thing. But the larger truth is that there is an ebb and flow in all of us for the topics we are learning. When the boredom, frustration and negativity does emerge, try understanding it. Perhaps class does feel a little boring. That’s o.k. Sometimes it will. And then slowly, over a period of years, build those compelling pieces into your classes so that you punctuate boring times with excitement and joy.

10b. Go slowly. Changing the direction of your math class is like trying to change the direction of a large ship, especially when dealing with emotions. Even once everything is place for the changes to occur, you will notice the “ship’s” momentum going in the same old direction before you sense any real shifts. This is part of the process. It took me three years to develop a coherent math program at my middle-school and even then, we occasionally slipped in to old patterns. Good luck!

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Yoga and Personality Development

What is personality?

Human personality is a very complex topic by itself. There are many

definitions of personality. For the sake of simplicity we can consider it as a

collection of physical, mental and behavioral traits and patterns that we

exhibit in our life.

Often personality development is either misunderstood or ignored. It is

acknowledged mostly in professional fields. Companies conduct training programs

on communication skills, leadership skills, and creativity and so on. They

collectively call these trainings as “Personality Development”. Unfortunately

they are talking about only one side of the coin. No doubt that these traits are

important but they are just “external”. These programs miss the more important

factor – body and mind. There are hundreds of books available in the marked who

are supposed to tell you “how to win” or “how to be happy” but how many really

get benefited just by reading the books? Books will tell you to think positive

but the poor individuals do not know how. Just by thinking that “I will think

positive” you can not be positive. It requires practice and fine tuning of body

and mind. Unless you have proper foundation of body and mind you simply can not

build any superior personality infrastructure.

Do I need personality development?

Majority of people feel that they already have a developed personality and

they don’t need to enhance it further. After all they are working in

professional and personal sector for years! But let me tell you that if you are

thinking on the same lines then its time to introspect. The first step in

personality development is to acknowledge that you need to improve your

personality.

How do you know whether you need fine tuning of the personality? Just sit

peacefully and try to answer the following questions:

  • Do you feel that you work hard but still don’t get expected returns?
  • Do you often feel that you deserved a promotion but somebody else
    grabbed it instead?
  • Do you feel drained after your job hours?
  • Do you feel stressed – physically and mentally?
  • Does your job affect your health?
  • How are your interpersonal relationships?
  • Do you feel void ness in your life?
  • Do you often feel unhappy (many times not knowing why)?
  • Do you feel that you can not deliver 100% of your potential?

The answers to the above questions will tell you whether there is any

friction within yourself.

The yogic view of of personality

As per Yoga the human body consists of five sheaths or layers. They are:

  • Conscious physical sheath (Annayama Kosha
  • Subconscious physical sheath (Pranamaya Kosha)
  • Mental sheath (Manomaya Kosha)
  • Intellectual Sheath (Vigyanmaya Kosha)
  • Blissful sheath (Anandamaya Kosha)

The Annamaya Kosha is related to our conscious physical deeps including

walking, talking, viewing and other such functions. These are the functions that

we perform using our physical body deliberately.

The Pranamaya Kosha deals with physical activities that we do in subconscious

state. Digestion, movement of the heart and lungs fall in this category. We

never do any deliberate efforts for these actions; still the body knows how to

perform them.

The Maniomaya Kosha deals with mind, emotions and thoughts. All our gross

thinking and emotions fall in this category.

Intellect is that faculty that decides what is good and what is bad. It is

the ability for rational thought or inference or discrimination. The Vigyanmaya

Kosha helps us to identify true from false. We can choose the correct path in

this “maya” filled world with the help of nourished Vigyanmaya Kosha.

Anandamaya Kosha or bliss is a pure state of happiness and joy which is

beyond any material pleasure. Samadhi or deep meditation gives such a joy.

The Anandamaya Kosha is the innermost sheath wrapped by other sheaths in

succession.

If you observe carefully you will realize that each sheath affects certain

part of our personality. Accordingly we can classify our personality as follows:

  • Conscious physical personality
  • Subconscious physical personality
  • Mental personality
  • Intellectual personality
  • Spiritual personality

How Yoga can nourish these personalities?

The conscious as well as subconscious physical personality can be greatly

improved by Yoga postures. Yoga postures stretch your body and induce

relaxation. They affect the vital force or Prana and cause it to flow in

specific parts of the body. They are excellent remedy for back aches, digestion

problems and heart problems. The modern life forces us to sit at a place without

much physical activities. Yoga postures can strengthen the joints and various

parts of the body.

The mental personality is greatly affected through Pranayama and

concentration. Our mind remains focused at our work and in home enabling us to

do the things with full dedication and interest. In naturally results in better

personal and professional gains.

Meditation enriches the intellectual personality. Your mind becomes calm and

clear. You can think with more care and affection for others. Maya can not

delude you any more. Your decisions prove to be correct.

Finally, the deep meditation or Samadhi brings you the ultimate bliss. The

joy that is impossible to achieve through worldly enjoyments. This is the final

aim for any Yogi.

In summary practicing Yoga regularly nourishes all these five personalities

and makes your life joyous, happy and healthy.

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5 Best Yoga DVDs for Men

Obesity has become an international concern. The results of being obese are critical and cause several health ailments. Yoga poses can help you lose some of the excessive weight and assist you in leading a healthy life. Frankly speaking, yoga poses are ideal for men, women and even children. Your entire family members can practice them.

Here is a list of some of the 2016 5 best yoga DVDs for men.

Element: Hatha & Flow Yoga for Beginners

The Element: Hatha & Flow Yoga for Beginners is designed to reduce the stress and boost your inner strength. If you feel that your health and lifestyle is not right, then this DVD can help. It has a 30-minute workout session where you can quickly learn how to start doing yoga exercises. The instructions are easy to understand and guidance useful.

A.M. Yoga for Your Week

The A.M. Yoga for Your Week is ideal for both men and women. It provides you with yoga exercises which you can practice the whole week. It is an excellent training tutorial and has five 20 minutes sessions which give you the perfect routine. Each session covers something different and enables you to learn something new.

In yoga, you should how to breathe correctly. They also help you release tension and stress to make your body stable.

Jillian Michaels: Yoga Meltdown

Jillian Michaels: Yoga Meltdown is one of the all-time greatest yoga DVDs. He has received awards from several people throughout his lifetime. Several people have benefited from it. The DVD comes with both soft-core and hard-core training. The DVD is ideal for both experts as well as beginners.

Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners

Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners is the perfect yoga DVD for beginners who do not know where to start. Many people have failed to lose weight or achieve what they wanted to because they are not following the right exercise methods. Using the right poses, breathing techniques, and doing it the right way can only help you lose weight.

The Biggest Loser: The Workout – Weight Loss Yoga

The Biggest Loser: The Workout – Weight Loss Yoga, considered as the best 2016 yoga DVD. The DVD comes with simple solutions for your yoga workout. Ideal for beginners and professionals, they learn how to do natural poses. It helps you to remain relaxed and calm when doing the exercises.

Words of caution

The yoga DVDs for men can immensely help you achieve what you can. If you are somebody who has had an operation recently, having health ailments, and are under medications, then you will want first to consult with your doctor about practicing yoga postures. Certain poses require you to bend and strain your muscles.

When doing them, it can cause stress on your heart and other body regions. As soon as you feel some pain or discomfort then stop doing yoga pose immediately and take some rest. The whole idea of using yoga DVDs is to have fun and achieve what you want to, which is losing weight and becoming slim.

Yoga poses can are great exercises for losing weight as long as you feel comfortable doing them. Get your entire family along with you in the mornings or evenings and put on the DVD to start a whole new healthy family.

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Anusara Vs Iyengar Yoga – Are They the Same?

Yoga has branched out into many categories based on the different philosophies behind them. Some are rapid paced and better suited for individuals looking for a fast track program, while other are slow paced and suit the needs of people doing yoga for meditational purposes only. Most are a combination of both, creating a well balanced mind and body workout for the overall well being.

Here we will compare the similarities and differences between two popular forms of yoga; Anusara and Iyengar. They both have a lot of similarities, as the founder of Anusara; John Friend was initially a pupil of the founder of Iyengar, B.K.S. Iyengar. John studied under Guru Iyengar for a number of years and was a certified Iyengar instructor in USA before introducing Anusara. After practicing Iyengar for a number of years, John Friend realized that his philosophies were not completely consistent with B.K.S. Iyengar’s. So he developed the Anusara with the basic structure of both being similar to each other in terms of focusing mainly on proper alignment.

Even though Iyengar is alignment oriented, it endorses strength building whereas Anusara is more fluid and promotes heart opening poses. Anusara also differs from Iyengar because of its use of Tantric teachings. These reflect the Hindu or Buddhist religious ideas to improve the mind and body in a positive way. Another difference is that Iyengar leads the yogi through a series of poses that are held for a longer duration, whereas Anusara follows a flow of postures with smooth transition between each change. This creates a very fluid yoga session and relaxes the mind to focus on the heart.

The Iyengar practice and Anusara follow the same foundation about alignment, but because of the different philosophical views, Anusara is more detail oriented towards the subtle body and the energetic body which are called energy spirals and Iyengar is more inclined towards the technical orientation.

The word Anusara means to move with the flow of grace, so it leans towards opening each and every part of the soul and viewing it as something sacred or as a supreme consciousness. Unlike the Iyengar, Anusara does not divide the body into two different systems; the spirit and body; instead the body is disciplined to penetrate the spirit and view the whole as something beautiful, worthy and divine.

So if someone has attended both Iyengar and Anusara classes, they can easily point out the similarities as well as the differences. People who are more laid back prefer to follow the Anusara path whereas people who are more rigid in their lives tend to pursue the Iyengar method of alignment as it provides a certain set of rules for them. It is all entirely up to the student to choose between the two, and some end up following both alternately.

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Gout and Exercise – Some Surprising News

Gout is the most painful form of arthritis and is caused by an excessive amount of uric acid in the body. Gout symptoms come on quickly and intensely and often include extreme pain, swelling in the affected joint, redness and lessened mobility. Uric acid is a naturally occurring chemical in the body and if being over produced can be controlled with some medications specially made for the treatment of gout, though most excessive levels of uric acid come from a diet high in purines.

Purines are found in foods high in protein and can be found in common foods like salmon, yeast, bacon, turkey, and scallops, as well as unusual foods like heart, mutton, smelt, sardines and liver. When considering a treatment plan for gout, it’s important to work with not only your doctor but also a trained gout diet nutritionist.

Gout and exercise have also made some recent leaps up the gout treatment plan ladder. When thinking about gout and exercise it’s important to consider exercises that are easy on the joints and will not aggravate gout symptoms further. The best two forms of exercises for gout patients have been determined to be water aerobics and yoga. Water aerobics allows for the strengthening of muscles and joints in a low impact environment that offers no pressure on the joints during the workout routine.

Yoga offers stretching of the joints and muscles to help with flexibility which can also help prevent gout episodes and symptoms. Yoga is also a progressive form of exercise which allows for someone who is only a beginner or experience severe gout symptoms to start with smaller movements, then move to more challenging movements and positions as they are able to. Both of these forms of exercise are widely available at most fitness centers and community centers.

While, gout and exercise is a great way to help treat and prevent gout episodes, it’s important to work with a nutritionist on putting together a gout diet to get and keep the excessive of uric acid out of your body to better prevent future episodes. Pain management may also need to be worked into your treatment plan while you are working to prevent future episodes. With a little help and some dedication you can get your gout under control and keep it from affecting your active life.

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Don’t Believe The Myths About Facial Exercises

Facial exercises are becoming increasingly prevalent for men and ladies in their quest to look younger, but there are many myths about facial exercise regimens. We detach fact from fiction.

For those who are not sure what yoga facial exercises are, they are usually techniques used on various parts of the face and neck to firm sagging face skin, eradicate hog jowls and double chin, revitalize skin color, tighten turkey neck, and smooth out face and eye wrinkles. Some face exercise programs involve isometric principles, and some employ massage techniques involving the use of the fingertips.

Here are some interesting things to take note of concerning facial exercises:

Myth: You can alter the facial structure of the face with plastic surgery, but not with a facial exercise system.

Fact: To some extent, you can actually change your face structure using facelift exercises, just not as fast and as drastic as cosmetic surgery. If you concentrate on certain regions such as cheek exercises, the cheeks will fill out. If you do them on eye bags, these will diminish and your face form will alter towards a more youthful shape. However, facial yoga is not effective for correcting birth defects or damage caused by an accident.

Myth: Surgically cutting away loose skin to firm turkey neck, lift sagging face skin and hanging jowls, and to solve a double chin problem is better than painstakingly massaging these areas.

Fact: Surgical lifting of sagging skin is temporary. After a while, it will become baggy again, and you will have to repeat the surgery at more cost to you. Face and neck exercises will keep the skin firm and toned on an ongoing, yet non-invasive basis.

Myth: DIY Non-surgical facelifts are not as effectual as plastic surgery procedures.

Fact: Cosmetic surgery is radical and interferes with the body’s natural energy lines and nodal points. Facial exercises are gentle, non-invasive, and boost the energy and blood flow, as opposed to restricting it.

Myth: A facial exercise system has to be undertaken every day, and it’s complicated to remember all the techniques and points, and is also time-consuming.

Fact: It’s advisable to do facelift exercises daily for about twenty minutes. There are generally about twenty points to massage on the face and neck, so one minute on each point will suffice; usually they are situated on the same face and neck positions that acupuncturists use to treat certain ailments.

Myth: Facelift exercises are painful, or will damage the sinuses.

Fact: Face exercises must be applied with the fingertips firmly to very specific pressure points. Firm, but not too firm as to cause pain or discomfort. At first, you might experience some stuffiness for the first few days in your nose as you massage the sinus area, but that is perfectly natural, and this will dissipate quickly.

Myth: Facial yoga, or exercises don’t produce better results than creams, lotions, Botox, thermage, laser treatments as an anti-aging skin care routine to smooth out eye wrinkles(crow’s feet), laugh and forehead lines.

Fact: Lotions and creams are great for anti-aging skin care in the long term, and I advise people to use this when performing yoga facial exercises to work in the cream simultaneously. Botox and other artificial methods are quick fixes and can even be harmful to you. But facial yoga can easily turn back the clock holistically, not just be used to slow down the effects of aging.

Before spending substantial amounts of money and risking your looks to a surgeon, try a facial exercise program. They are very cost-effective, and a powerful tool to regain your youthful looks in a couple of weeks!

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The Benefits of Practicing Tantric Sex

The benefits of practicing Tantric Sex or High Sex are many. Tantric sexual states have long been associated with similar high states of Theta wave as achieved by meditation. The primary purpose of these high states of sexual energy has been to achieve unity consciousness or ‘mahamudra’ with life. Any sexual activity is beneficial not only to the body but to the psyche as well. We know that when one is in a high state of sexual arousal the body unleashes hormones that give us a sense of euphoria and flood the endocrine system. Sexual energy nourishes our bodies and gives us a sense of aliveness. When making love we open our hearts to another and give ourselves the opportunity to receive and give pleasure.

Sacred sexuality goes beyond this to teach us about the deeper inner realms of our psyche and provides us with true understanding and compassion. Through passionate, sensual awareness you can increase the quality of your sexual life.

Through the practice of Tantric Sex you have the opportunity to awaken what is known as the ‘Kundalini’ energy. This energy is highly beneficial to you. Tantric sex enables you to begin to understand the power of this sexual energy. Sexual energy is one of the most powerful energies on the planet. When cultivated within the body it can not only bring you into ecstatic states of being, it can heal your physical and emotional states of being as well. Dr. Patti Taylor, an expert in the field of expanded orgasm, explains that when a person is in an orgasmic state for a long period of time they can process their emotional state much easier and receive pleasure at the same time. This is a very different way of looking at emotional clearing and much more fun.

The Tantric school of thought now used in the West is called Neo-Tantra. It combines White (devotional), and Red (sexual) Tantra, and principles of yoga and meditation. It weaves together both sensuality and spirituality so that the practitioner sees the act of making love as sacred. A loose tradition to begin with, Tantric teachings offer no clear record of their origins. Some believe they originally began by using bodily fluids as offerings to Tantric deities. Even the definition of the word ‘Tantra’ has varied and is sometimes defined as, “web,” “weaving,” “expansion,” and “liberation.” No matter what the definition, the heart of Tantra involves honest communication, creating intimacy and Self-realization.

Self-Realization is infinite and beyond space and time. The ultimate goal of Hindu-Buddhist based Tantra is Self-Realization, which leads to complete peace of mind, contentment and unity consciousness. It does not require you to change your spiritual beliefs in order for the process to work. Neo-Tantra Neo-Tantra may also include accessing high states of consciousness as its main objective. But for most Western practitioners it offers another way to enrich, expand and enhance their lovemaking. Osho, the “father” of Neo-Tantra, said, “The first part has to be sex. The second part has to be love. The third part has to be prayer. And the fourth has to be transcendence. So from the gross to the subtle you move. And in the fourth, sex has to completely disappear, love too, prayer too. Make it absolutely silent, peaceful, meditative… not even a trace is left. These are the four stages of Neo-Tantra…” “Neo-tantra typically makes use of the traditional tantra yoga asanas (positions), breath control, and meditation, but it is taught outside the framework of Hindu culture and religion…. Unique to Neo-Tantra is a modern or New Age tendency to include massage (so-called “tantric massage”), Reichian body-work (e.g. “bio-energetics”), and even counseling (e.g. “sexual healing”) to the course of study.

Below are 20 Sacred Sexual Secrets, that will assist you in receiving the most benefits from Tantric sex. 20 Sacred Sexual Secrets

1.Be In The Moment: Most people miss what is going on for them in the moment. Be present for the fun.

2. Make Conditions Right: Turn off the TV, get focused, feel rested and take advantage of the desire.

3. Cultivate Sexual Mindfulness: Be playful, attentive, erotic and be involved in the sensory moment.

4. Create a Sensual Atmosphere: Utilize the power of light, the scent of aromatherapy, the magic of incense and the toning of music.

5. Entice with Natural Aphrodisiacs: Nature holds the key, with sensual foods such as oysters, coco and juicy fruits.

6. Open Your Mind: Expectations can kill the moment! Try things that empower, enlighten and return you to the magic of youthful energy.

7. Let Go of Fears: Inhibitions are useless and block who you really aspire to be. This is really the time to complete who you are. The more you let go of your fears, the more highly aroused and more deeply impacted you will be by the sexual experience.

8. Be In Tune With Your Surroundings: Feel each sensation, your breathing, your environment, your sounds, your emotions. Whether you are alone or with a partner, be conscious.

9. Experience The Power of Color: Use color therapy by incorporating candles of color, lingerie, lighting or fabric in order to bring color into your environment.

10. Use Your Chakra Energies: The Chakras are stations along the central axis of your being. Each one is a point at which energy can be expressed in a certain set of actions, attitudes and emotions.

11. Rev Up Your Kundalini: This major life force energy is an ancient system originating from India that helps the student awaken and merge their spiritual natures.

12. Give Up Control: Allow for the give and take of each others’ lead. The giving up of power can be just as arousing!

13. Flow With The Rhythm: Entrainment is the tendency of two oscillating bodies to lock into phase, so that they vibrate in harmony.

14. Take Your Time: Only by exploring the erotic landscape, savoring all of the body’s hot spots, can we find a road to ultimate fulfillment.

15. Express Your Joys: If it works, let your partner know. Being vocal about your pleasure may help entice your partner. If it’s not, show them where it can.

16. To Release or Not To Release: Whether you’re a believer in the great release of energy or simply transmuting this sexual energy through other channels, there is always pleasure through a Sacred Union.

17. Reach New Heights: Rediscover the deep interrelationship between sexuality and spirituality.

18. Sex Is The Common Denominator: Sex is the energetic healer of our mind, body, and spirit.

19. Honor Pleasure As A Divine Gift: Sex is the most honest aspect of the Universal creative life force, which electrifies every stage of our lives.

20. Cultivate Pure Ecstasy: The goal of your Tantric practice is to bring high states of sexual arousal while remaining completely relaxed.

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Thai Massage Versus Sports Massage – Which Is Better For Athletes?

Thai massage may be the ultimate sports massage. By understanding the world’s oldest medicine systems, we become better equipped to treat athletic conditions.

Thai massage, also called Thai-Yoga, is rooted in the 7,000-year-old medicine system of Ayurveda. Although Ayurveda is ancient, the U.S. is just discovering its therapeutic riches.

What is Thai massage?

Thai massage is also called Thai-Yoga because it is rooted in yoga. Thai massage is like having yoga done to you.

Like massage, Thai massage is performed by a practitioner onto a recipient. The client passively receives a series of stretches and compressions. Unlike most massage styles, a highly-skilled therapist will also receive therapeutic effects by offering the treatment.

Like yoga, a session involves a series of dynamic stretches. Like stretches or postures in yoga (asanas), many muscles are stretched simultaneously.

And the stretches tend to be multi-planar. This means each stretch moves the muscles in more than just one direction. Multi-planar stretches prepare the muscle better for everyday activities than do stretches that are isolating or uni-directional.

The most notable effects of the treatment sequence include:

* Stretching tight muscles

* Loosening stiff joints, and

* Improving energy circulation.

The treatment improves energy circulation by loosening muscles that commonly tighten and restrict the flow of blood, nerves, oxygen, and other vital energy. In many Eastern health practices, this focus is called clearing chakras. By clearing all of the body’s major chakras, vital energy flow is restored throughout the body.

How is Thai massage different from Sports massage?

Sports massage is a common style of massage used to train athletes and treat sports injuries. Most massage therapists receive special training or a distinct sports massage certification in order to practice it with athletes.

Sports massage is a combination of assisted stretching and massage techniques. The application depends on the phase of the athlete’s training.

The benefits of assisted stretching are limited, however, because muscles are stretched in isolation, uni-directionally.

Thai massage is also typically applied in a gentle manner that enables the recipient to relax. When the body is relaxed, and stretches are received passively, the muscles can be stretched more deeply.

Using multi-planar, dynamic stretches, with a relaxing approach, is more beneficial than typical assisted stretching focused on muscles in isolation.

Clearing chakras is also more restorative than working on muscles individually or treating problematic areas separately from the rest of the body.

While most Americans consider massage to be holistic medicine, Thai massage is truly more holistic by nature than most other styles of massage, including sports massage.

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Prenatal Yoga – Start Your Baby’s Life Off Right With Prenatal Yoga

Most expectant mothers have been told by their doctors at some point or another that proper exercise is an important part of a healthy pregnancy, but that overdoing it is never okay. It can be tough to know where to draw the line, and what the difference is. What would normally be considered strenuous can have adverse effects on the baby, and what might normally be considered a light workout is often sufficient for an expecting mom. Practicing such exercise throughout one’s pregnancy can feel like it’s not even worth it at times, especially for those moms that simply can’t find a place to draw the line.

This is where prenatal yoga comes into play. With the help of prenatal yoga classes and instruction, expectant mothers can easily find that line between what is acceptable and what is too strenuous for a pregnancy and stay on the safe side of it. At the same time, prenatal yoga is a great excuse to start a healthy new hobby and get your baby’s life off to the right, healthy and fit start.

Where to Find Prenatal Yoga

Many of the yoga centers in your community offer prenatal yoga instruction, usually at far less a frequency than other yoga classes. Yoga classes of this type are often held once or twice a week depending on the need, and do not always run as long as other classes as they are supposed to be less strenuous.

Certain types of instructors teach prenatal yoga as it takes a complex understanding of the reproductive system and what it is and is not able to withstand as far as exercise while carrying a child. Poses are designed to strengthen the body and the immune system and help to provide a degree of fine tuning and support that other types of fitness endeavors a pregnant woman might undertake (like walking) may not offer.

Benefits for Lifelong Yogis

There are benefits to the fact that yoga can be practiced during pregnancy. There are many moms who are devoted to yoga and don’t want to have to stop their hobby while they are with child. This gives a great excuse for expectant mothers who would normally be pretty sedentary otherwise to get up and moving about in a healthy way. Women who practice yoga are known to gain less ‘bad weight’ during pregnancy and have easier births at that; that is something that all new moms can get with!

Is prenatal yoga right for you? Talk to your doctor before you start out, and start looking around at yoga studios today if you don’t already belong to one.

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Happy Endings

Stacey helps relieve people of their aches and pains. And she loves it! Massage therapists share a certain trustworthy anonymity with hairdressers and bartenders. Within a few sessions, her clients are telling her their deepest secrets, their personal issues, and all their juicy gossip. She enjoys her relationship with most of her clients, usually contributing only enough to the conversations to suggest interest and keep the client relaxed. They bare their souls and leave the sessions feeling better in body and spirit. But unfortunately she has to bite her tongue with one particularly nasty customer. Steve is a big, vulgar, middle-aged business man who can not resist telling stacey about all his sleazy encounters with prostitutes when traveling on business. He takes pride in how well he keeps his womanizing a secret from his wife. This evening, the explicit descriptions of his latest sexual exploits are too much for Stacey. Disgusted, she ends the massage with no intentions of ever allowing Steve back into her clinic.

Feeling especially tense and, yes, dirty after she gets rid of the smug braggart, Stacey decides to slip into the yoga class offered every evening upstairs from her clinic. Yoga is a phenomenal aid to relaxation and coping with the stress. And right now, this idiot has filled her with stress. Already extremely in tune with her body, she quickly catches on to the philosophy and techniques of the discipline. She is pleasantly surprised how calm, centered she feet going home later.

In short order, evening yoga sessions become an integral part of her routine several days a week. Soon she is reading about the history and philosophy of the ancient discipline. She comes across multiple references to different forms of meditation, yoga of the mind, as one writer called it. Practitioners claim that the benefits of meditation are evident in all aspects of their lives: greater productivity at work; increased personal satisfaction, heightened sense of identity; even a more rewarding sex life. She contemplates enrolling in one of the meditation classes, but her statements emphasize personal goals and achievements, so she decides to do it on her own. Soon she is delving into advanced techniques. She feels herself changing. She is less stressed, more satisfied with life; she sees the world and her role in it more clearly, and she is more content than she's been in years.

One evening, an advance meditation exercise takes deaf into herself than ever before, to a realm unfamiliar to her. So unprepared for the strangeness of the experience that she is rendered temporarily unconscious. When she awakes, her body tells her she has been out for a while, forty-five minutes by the clock, although she has no sense of the passage of time. She is several feet from the mat she sits on to meditation, the coffee table and the love seat are out of position, and the lamp that was on the end table lies broken on the floor. She has several bruises on her shins and right arm, evidently from violent contact with furniture. Her hair and sweatshirt are wet and matted with a white frothy substance.

Afraid that she may have had a seizure, she sees her doctor for a medical check-up. Everything seems fine. She takes the week off work at the doctor's request, but by Saturday she is antsy and accepts an appointment with one of her regular patients. Sylvia requires regular massage to control her migraines. She is in a terrible state because Stacie was unavailable for her usual scheduled Wednesday appointment. Midway through the treatment, Stacey senses something odd happening. As she massages Sylvia, her fingers begin to tingle and a cool sensation climbs her arms, crosses her shoulders, and runs up her neck and into her head. She is momentarily lightheaded, but succeseds in shaking it off. Although she is a little preoccupied, waiting for other strange sensations in her hands, the rest of the massage proceeds without incident.

The day's strangeness is not over yet. Stacey's sleep tonight is interrupted by a terrible nightmare. She is being abused and beaten by an angry man, her husband in the dream. The man punches her in the face, and just as her head hits the kitchen counter, she awakens in her bed. Sleep is elusive the rest of the night.

Sunday is spent pacing and wondering, 'What the hell is going on?' Monday afternoon, Stacey is massaging another regular, Diane, when the strange cool feeling comes back. But this time, the sensation starts in her forehead and travels down her neck, over her shoulders, and down her arms to her fingertips. Again she leaves disoriented, lightheaded, but quickly recovers. As the previous time, nothing untoward occurs the rest of the day. But the next day …

Diane calls Stacey to report having intense heads since the session yesterday, headaches unlike anything she has ever experienced. Could the massage have caused such headaches? Stacey admits the possibility, but stresses that such occurrences are rare. She recommends that Diane drink plenty of water to flush from the body the toxins released during massage that can cause flu-like symptoms, including headaches. A few days later, Diane is not feeling any better and plans to see her doctor.

The next day, Sylvia returns for her Wednesday massage in extremely high spirits. She has never felt better. She has not had a migraine since Saturday, not even a hint of a headache. Being pain-free, she feels like a new person. Overwhelmed by the possibility that her life might be changing, she tears up and hugs her therapist.

After Sylvia has gone, Stacey sits quietly staring at the wall, trying to make sense of the events of the last few days. Time passes unnoticed; by the time she comes back to the here and now, she is late for her evening yoga class. Afterwards, Stacey apologizes to the instructor for disabling the class by her late entry and requests him if he has time to stay. She needs some advice. When they are alone, she tells the instructor about her experience meditating, the strange nightmare and what happened with Sylvia and Diane. She has come to the conclusion that she absorbed the migraine symptoms from Sylvia and transferred them to Diane. Is it possible, she asks, that something happened to her during her meditation experience that could have caused this new ability.

The instructor points out that her hypothesis is far from proven, but he will accept the promise for the time being. He explains that the brain is a powerful, but mysterious organ. Brain activity can be measured in all areas of the brain, but all the functions of the human body can be adapted to a small portion of the brain. The rest is active, but we have no idea what it is doing. Many scientists have postulated that some of these areas of the brain may harbor metaphysical abilities that we have not yet discovered how to use, or sometimes have forgotten how to use. It is entirely possible that rough mediation, she may have opened a corner of her mind to which the rest of us are denied access. Perhaps this newly opened chamber has given her the ability to collect memories, emotions and physical sensations from one person through her hands, then transfer them to another. The real problem is its apparent randomness at the moment. Stacey must learn to control the absorption / transfer process. If she does not, the consequences could be disastrous.

The next few days Stacey experiments. She tries different amounts of pressure, using more palm and less finger pressure, then vice versa. She works first quickly, then more slowly. She evaluates the effect of several types of lotions and different types of hand movements. She discovers that if she quickly lifts her hands off the clients when her fingers begin to tingle, the sensation dissipates. She is relieved that she can control the absorption with such a simple motion. She fine-tunes the skill by transferring minor feelings from one client to another, and back during subsequent sessions. Over a week or so, she is becoming pretty adept.

Steve calls on a Friday morning. He needs a massage badly because he twisted a muscle while entertaining a female friend at a Vegas convention, if she got his drift. Stacey can almost hear the * wink wink * over the phone. Her first impulse is to claim she is fully booked, to hang up on the freak. But a perverse but satisfying idea crosses her mind. She schedules Steve for 4:00 pm, then makes a call.

Diane arrives to the clinic at 3:00, as scheduled. She thanks Stacey for offering to help her with her migraines. They come every couple of hours, and constantly medication prescribed by her family physician, they are unbearable. She is desperate; she can not go on living with such pain. Stacey reassures her that the migraine will be a thing of the past after this session. She uses some of her yoga techniques to help her relax. Within a minute or two of beginning the massage, Stacey's fingers begin to tingle. She smiles and welcomes the cool streak running up her arm.

An hour later, Steve swaggers into the clinic. Stacey invites him in with a smile and a promise of something special today.

'Oh yeah! Does it involve a happy ending? ' requests Steve, suggestively.

'I guess you could call it that,' answers Stacey, smiling.

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