May 18th, 2023 by
March 31st, 2023 by
In the world of yoga, there is one pose that stands out for its transformative power and ability to lead us towards a deep sense of self-awareness and integration. That pose is Shavasana, also known as Corpse Pose. In this article we explore how Shavasana transcends the boundaries of mere relaxation and becomes a gateway to profound self-awareness and integration.
The Art of Letting Go
In Shavasana, we are invited to release all effort and surrender to the present moment. Like a corpse lying in repose, we allow our bodies to fully relax and our minds to quieten. By consciously letting go, we create space for self-awareness to emerge. Shavasana teaches us the basic lesson of yoga, which is less about doing and more about undoing the knots that bind us.
Systematic Relaxation of All Muscle Groups
In the practice of Shavasana, one of the essential elements is the systematic relaxation of all groups of muscles, leading to a profound sense of release and surrender. As we lie in stillness, we embark on a journey of consciously letting go, starting from the toes and gradually moving up to the crown of the head. This systematic approach to relaxation not only calms the physical body but also invites a profound sense of peace and unity between mind and body.
Embracing Stillness and Non-Action
In a world that glorifies busyness and productivity, Shavasana teaches us the value of stillness and non-action. Contrary to the notion of needing to constantly do something, Shavasana guides us towards a state of deep relaxation and rejuvenation through intentional non-doing. In this state of non-action, we unlock the door to self-discovery and integration.
During Shavasana, as we systematically relax each group of muscles, we begin to move beyond the physical sheath and delve into the subtler layers of our being. By directing our awareness inward, we become attuned to the pranic flow, the sensations arising in the body, and the thoughts and emotions passing through the mind. Through this heightened self-awareness, we start to witness the interconnectedness of the Pancha Kosha (five-layered existence), recognizing that our experiences extend beyond the confines of the physical body.
To conclude, Shavasana, often considered the most neglected asana, holds a unique and pivotal place in our yoga practice. It is the gateway to profound relaxation and self-awareness. While other asanas challenge our bodies and minds, Shavasana invites us to surrender, let go, and experience a state of deep stillness and tranquility. It is in this state of deep relaxation that we draw closer to the essence of meditation itself, where we learn to simply be, just as we are in Shavasana.
March 16th, 2023 by
Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and is known for its ability to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. At its core, meditation involves the cultivation of mindfulness and an increased awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and surroundings. Unlike concentration and focus, which involve directing attention towards a specific object or task, meditation encourages a broader, more open awareness of one’s experiences in the present moment. While meditation can be used as a tool to improve concentration and focus, it is distinct in its emphasis on developing a non-judgmental and compassionate attitude towards one’s thoughts and experiences. Through regular practice, meditation has been shown to have numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits and can be a powerful tool for self-growth and personal development.
Meditation vs. Concentration vs. Focus
Throughout the day we are engaged in some action. When we are not involved in any apparent action, we are lost in thoughts and dreams which is another form of action. There seems to be not a single moment where we are not engaged in some kind of physical or mental action. If we can understand this functional mode of our existence and take a step towards remaining totally unoccupied with action, we are in a state of meditation.
Thus, in meditation, we suspend in the present moment without getting caught up in the habitual patterns of thinking, reacting or acting. During meditation, practitioners try to let go of any thoughts, emotions, or sensations that may arise and instead aim to maintain a state of detached observation. This allows them to gain insight into their own thoughts and emotions, and to develop a greater sense of self-awareness and emotional regulation.
So, while initially meditation does involve some effort on the part of the practitioner, the emphasis is on non-doing or non-action. The goal is not to achieve a particular outcome or state, but to simply be present in the moment and observe what arises, without judgment or reaction.
Meditation is not concentration
We have to understand that meditation is not concentration. Meditation and concentration are related practices, but they are not the same thing.
Concentration is the ability to focus the mind on a single point or object, without being distracted by other thoughts or sensations. It involves the deliberate EFFORT to direct and sustain attention on a specific target, such as the breath, a sound, a visual image, a mantra, or for that matter any activity.
Concentration is also the ability to generate a number of thoughts but all related to each other and arranged in sequential order. Concentration is mandatory to achieve success in any task or target.
Meditation, on the other hand, is a broader and more inclusive practice that involves cultivating awareness, mindfulness, and non-judgmental acceptance of one’s thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. In meditation, the aim is not to suppress, control, or think thoughts, but to develop a more spacious and open awareness that allows thoughts, emotions, and sensations to come and go without getting caught up in them. Hence, meditation is EFFORTLESS.
Meditation is different from focus
Again meditation and focus are related practices, but they are not the same thing. Focus involves directing one’s attention toward a specific task or object, often in order to achieve a specific goal, or outcome. This may involve narrowing one’s attention to a particular aspect of the present moment and ignoring distractions or competing stimuli.
Focus can be best understood by a story from Mahabharat, where guru Dronacharya was teaching archery to students. Once he asked his students to shoot at the center of the eye of a bird’s specimen placed on a tree. He called them one by one and showing the bird, he asked them what they saw. Everyone except Arjuna, said that they saw the tree, the branches, the bird, etc and so everyone missed the target. When Arjuna’s turn came Dronacharya asked “what do you see?” Arjuna replied: “I see the center of the bird’s eye”. Do you see anything else, asked Dronacharya again? To which Arjuna replied “nothing”. Saying so Arjuna released the arrow and it just hit the target straight. That’s Focus. A single thought, single object, single goal.
While focus involves some level of mental effort or strain, meditation aims to cultivate a state of mental relaxation and non-reactivity. The goal is not to achieve a specific outcome or state, but to simply be present at the moment and observe what arises with an open and non-judgmental attitude. In summary, while both focus and meditation involve directing one’s attention towards a particular object or task, meditation aims to cultivate a broader awareness of the present moment, maintaining a witness attitude to whatever arises in the present moment.
To conclude, meditation, concentration, and focus are three practices that are used for spiritual progression and to improve mental clarity and productivity. While they share some similarities, there are also distinct differences between them. Meditation involves letting go or dropping off a sustained effort of focusing of attention to achieve a state of relaxation and heightened awareness. In other words, the effortless flow of focus is meditation. On the other hand, concentration involves directing one’s attention toward a specific task or object, while filtering out distractions and streamlining thoughts. Lastly, focus is the ability to direct one’s attention towards a single goal or objective, and to stay on track until that goal is achieved. Unlike concentration, which can be directed towards a specific task or object, focus is more goal-oriented and requires a deeper level of mental commitment.
To put all three in order of inner experience, we start from concentration, narrow down into focus and finally dissolve into the expanse of meditation.
February 22nd, 2023 by
Stress is a natural reaction that our bodies have to help us survive in threatening situations. The fight-or-flight response is a survival mechanism that has been with us for thousands of years, and it’s still a useful way of managing stressful situations. But when stress becomes chronic—when it happens too often or goes on for too long—it can be harmful. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, weight gain and other health issues.
What is Stress?
Stress is a physical response pattern to a demanding situation. The human body is designed to react to stress. When we feel threatened, our bodies go into a “fight or flight” response designed to help us survive. The human body is equipped with a powerful defense mechanism known as the stress response. It’s a complex process that involves multiple systems in the body, including the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.
Stressors are events or circumstances that challenge our well-being and require adaptation by the body. These can be positive (e.g., childbirth) or negative (e.g., physical assault). In either case, stressors trigger specific responses designed to protect us from harm.
Stress physiology consists of two main branches: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which prepares the body to cope with difficult situations, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which restores balance after stressful events have passed.
Necessary for Survival
Stress is an evolutionary reaction for survival. It is not always bad, but it can be harmful when it becomes chronic.
When we’re stressed, our bodies react by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These help us cope with the situation at hand by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. They also cause us to become more alert and focused on the problem at hand so we can solve it quickly.
This response is useful in short bursts—for example, if you’re facing a tiger in the wild—but it can be harmful if it continues over time. The body’s stress response was designed for short periods of stress, not long periods of chronic stress (like living in poverty). When long-term chronic stress goes unchecked, our bodies start to break down from the strain: Our immune systems weaken; our brains shrink; even our bones get weaker because they don’t have enough time to rebuild themselves after each workout session (which happens when we’re stressed out).
Distress is a term that describes the negative emotions and feelings that arise when a person is exposed to prolonged stress. It is characterized by feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability, and other negative emotions that can impact a person’s mental health. Distress can also affect a person’s physical well-being, manifesting in symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems.
The impact of distress on health is significant, with numerous studies linking chronic stress to a variety of health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, and immune disorders. In addition to physical health problems, distress also has implications for mental health. Individuals experiencing chronic stress are at an increased risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. It is also associated with decreased cognitive function, memory problems, and difficulties in decision-making abilities
Eustress, or positive stress, can be a great way to improve performance.
When we are under eustress, we are motivated and focused on what we are doing. We are more likely to be creative and innovative, which means that we can do things that our competitors aren’t able to do. And when we are under eustress, we’re less likely to make mistakes or overlook important details. We can experience eustress any time we’re doing something that makes us feel excited, happy, or engaged. You may be familiar with eustress as the feeling you get when you’re about to go on vacation or meet your favorite celebrity.
However, when our stress levels are too high, i.e. when they are in the realm of distress—we start making irrational decisions and forgetting things that are important. This can lead us down a path where nothing seems to go right for us anymore.
But if you practice yoga regularly, you’ll find that you naturally keep your moods in balance and stay motivated and mentally balanced throughout the day. Yoga helps us stay at the level of eustress all day long!
Yoga is an effective tool for stress relief, providing several benefits beyond just relaxation. Studies have shown that practicing yoga reduces stress and anxiety levels, lowers cortisol levels, and improves mental and physical health. Mindfulness, a critical component of yoga, enhances these effects and has positive outcomes for stress management and mental health. Yoga can be adapted to an individual’s needs and preferences and is a tool that can be easily integrated into daily life to promote overall wellbeing.
February 10th, 2023 by
Yoga is a great way to help avoid stress snowballing into distress. This ancient practice of calming the mind and body can be used as a preventative measure for burnout and stressful situations, or it can be used to manage existing levels of distress. Practicing yoga regularly has been proven to reduce cortisol levels, improve sleep quality, and enhance psychological well-being.
Yoga has been proven to be an effective way to avoid stress and burnout. Practicing yoga helps to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, while also stimulating the production of endorphins which are known to promote feelings of wellbeing. Yoga can help you to develop better coping skills and become more resilient in the face of difficult situations. When practiced regularly, it helps to foster a deeper sense of self-awareness which can lead to more effective responses when faced with stressful circumstances.
It is important to remember that yoga is not a magic bullet; it takes time for the body and mind to adjust and adapt to its calming effects. But if practiced regularly and consistently, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for helping managers and working professionals manage stress levels.
From Where to Start
A good place to start is by creating a consistent practice that works for you. Identify what type of yoga best matches your needs, be it restorative or fast-paced vinyasa flow, or a moderated traditional hatha yoga and choose a style that resonates most with you. Incorporating breathing exercises into your routine can be helpful as they promote relaxation while also helping you stay present in the moment. Additionally, practicing mindfulness meditation or guided meditations before beginning your physical practice can provide focus and help clear the mind of any negative or intrusive thoughts that may arise during your practice.
Moreover, another benefit of regular yoga practice is that it helps build emotional resilience. Research suggests that practicing yoga increases one’s capacity to cope with difficult emotions, enabling them to process their emotions in a healthy way rather than letting them spiral out of control. Additionally, research shows that regularly practicing yogic exercises such as deep breathing can help induce relaxation and mindfulness which helps indicate when a person might need to take a break from everyday stressful activities before it escalates into distressful situation.
Ultimately, yoga can help prevent stress from converting into distress if done consistently over time. It’s important not just on those days when life isn’t too overwhelming but also when everything seems calm; regular practice will aid in strengthening mental resilience so that even on those tough days there is an underlying foundation of calm regardless of external events taking place around us.
August 28th, 2022 by
Yoga is a practice that has been around for centuries and is still relevant today due to its many benefits. People have always been fascinated with the idea of using yoga to help manage stress, reduce disease, improve health and find greater mental peace. But what exactly makes yoga so fascinating?
Likes and Dislikes
When we are born into this world, we come with both likes and dislikes. We can often become overwhelmed by our own preferences because they can cause us suffering when things don’t go our way. Yoga teaches us how to look beyond these attachments and concentrate on the present moment instead. It encourages acceptance of various points-of-view as well as cultivating an understanding that everything changes in life; nothing stays the same forever. In this manner, yoga helps us deal with our emotions in healthier ways rather than reacting impulsively out of anger or fear – leading to personal growth and transformation over time.
Beauty of Yoga
The beauty of Yoga lies in its ability to be adapted by everyone regardless of age or physical condition – meaning there is something for everyone! While some may prefer physical postures (Asanas) others might enjoy more meditative practices such as breathing techniques (Pranayama), mudras (symbolic hand gestures) or chanting mantras (sacred sounds). No one path needs to be followed; if something resonates you follow it otherwise you try something else until you find what works best for your body type & energy level at any given moment in time.
Finally one key takeaway from practicing yoga regularly is that it leads to maintaining mental balance regardless external circumstances like stress, disease etc., If practiced diligently it brings relaxation & inner calmness which can eventually lead a person towards spiritual enlightenment. This ‘enlightenment’ will eventually make way towards removing sufferings from their life while bringing long lasting happiness within oneself irrespective any external stimuli because they know how to maintain their internal environment without getting affected by things outside their control anymore!
August 25th, 2022 by
Backache is one of the most common physical disorders by which many people suffer today. It is estimated that between 60% and 70% of the population will suffer from an incident of acute or long-term lower backache at some stage during their life. Most orthopedic doctors know that the effectively treatment and therapy of backache can be a long term and frustrating affair for the doctor and for the patient. For this reason, doctors mostly prescribe painkillers, anti-inflammatory pills or in excessive cases they put injections, which cover the problem instead of curing it. However, research has shown that yoga offers a simple, effective and permanent cure to many chronic lower backache sufferers. If it is so then why many new yoga practitioners complain about lower backache after their yoga classes?
What causes the lower backache?
The majority of backaches are caused mostly by the sedentary lifestyle characterized by lack of exercise and overweight. These factors apply an excessive strain in the lower back region causing muscular insufficiency, stiffness or inflexibility of lower back muscles. This will gradually lead to a state of tight painful spasm in the relevant region which initially becomes semi-permanent and if not cured will become chronic. Furthermore, backache is caused by slipped disc, arthritis or degenerative joint disease. However, an acute lower backache commonly arises after bending forward with the knees straight trying to lift a weight from the floor. Lower backache can also occur by a trivial jolt or insignificant movement such as cough or sneeze.
What is the role of Yoga in lower backache
As yoga-asana is becoming more and more popular the last decades, the number of yoga practitioners has been notably increased in all the yoga studios and in all gym which include yoga classes in their schedule. Nevertheless, along with the increased number of yoga practitioners, a rise of lower backache complains has been aroused by the practitioners,especially beginners. But how can this be possible since a lot of researches have proved that yoga can lead as therapy to lower backache?
In ancient times, yogis used to practice yoga-asana with safety and awareness. They were able to maintain their body healthy by keeping their mind completely focused during their practice to absorb in detail the benefits of practice. This kind of practice approach is nowadays almost rare in a yoga studio and exceedingly unlikely to find in a vinyasa or power yoga class because of the yoga class structure’s fast flow.
In the current age of Kali Yuga, our minds are possessed with an intense passion of materialism. The time is limited and valuable, hence students prefer to attend 45’ to one-hour vinyasa or power yoga classes, to finish quickly because they have to return back to their office or to their chores. In such classes the time is limited and the flow is fast, so that they meet the demands of our daily busy lives. This means that there is not sufficient space to look right into the heart of asana and to establish the steadiness of mind so that it arrives at its deepest levels. Fast flow classes are composed by a lot of forward bending and this can be a reasonable cause of the lower backache, especially for the beginners. Many students do not have the relevant flexibility of the hamstrings which is prerequisite for the safety of the lower back. During a forward bend tight Hamstrings generate tension to the sitting bones (ischial tuberosity) and in combination with limited flexibility of hip joints, they prevent pelvis to rotate forward, hence bending does not happen from the hips (as it should have) but from the lower back and tension starts accumulating in the lumbar region. This repetitive tension along with weak lower back muscles and overweight create spasms in the lower back region, which in long-term will lead to lower backache. One very common example of tight hamstrings is the rounded back, like semicircle, in all the forward bends and in adhomukhasvanasana or downward facing dog – as well.
Hatha Yoga as therapy for Lower Backache
Hatha Yoga is also known as the science of body purification. Its main objective is to create an absolute balance and a healthy state between body and mind. In Hatha Yoga Classes there is a holistic approach of the student’s personality in all levels (physical, mental, spiritual), which is achieved through asana, pranayama and meditation. Asana class structure is basically focused on body’s stimulation and relaxation. The pace is slow and calm which gives time to the students to understand the asana and adjust safely and comfortably into it. There are certain asana which are designed to increase the functional efficiency of lower back muscles with safety. When the lower back muscles become strong and flexible the lower back is protected and the lower backache is vanished or decreased. There have been recorded many cases of lower backache sufferers who have found relief after adopting a simple daily hatha yoga program for a certain period of time. This requires time, patience from the student and guidance from an expert teacher.
Recommended Yoga Program for lower backache
Asana: Balasana, pavamukhtasana, ArdhaShalambasana, Bhunjangasana, Setubaddhasana, Sarpasana, Vakrasana, Shavasana or advasana.
All the above asana should be performed under the guidance of an expert teacher and when there is no agitation of the lower backache.
Pranayama: Nadi Shodhana, Bhramari
Diet: Simple diet especially for excess weight loss. Fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses. Avoid too much sugar and spices or any food that creates constipation to you.
Besides the yoga program apply of heat in the lower back region, massage and rest are recommended as a therapeutic approach to the problem.
Be happy and practice safely.
August 21st, 2022 by
Breathis a vital tool given by the nature to turn introspective. Since ancient times sages have used breath to understand the nature of their mind and access its deep layers which usually remain hidden. If we can observe our breath keenly we begin to understand the deep relationship between the flow of breath and quality of mind. Respiration is that medium, if utilised properly, one can have the complete knowledge of body, mind and of the mental impurities hidden deep inside us. With the help of simple breathing practices we can easily clear our mind and understand it nature and improve level of well-being.
Breath – The Bridge
Our pattern of respiration can tell a lot about the way we feel in our body and mind. Irregular breathing pattern and haphazardness leads to pranic imbalance, leading to sickness in body and mind. Correction of breathing patterns is one the most effective way by which imbalances of body and mind can be restored back to normalcy. Good breathing habits also lead to systematic development of body and psyche.
Respiration acts like a bridge between the conscious and the sub-conscious mind, between voluntary and involuntary processes of the body or in general body and mind. Respiratory system is both voluntary and involuntary in nature and hence it becomes a useful tool to even correct involuntary functions.
Let us learn and practice some simple breathing practices which normalises the breathing rate, make it uniform and rhythmic and uniting the body and mind. The practice is known as sectional breathing, which is divided into three sections. It also serves as a preparatory practice for Pranayama. It corrects the wrong breathing pattern and increases the vital capacity of lings.
- Abdominal Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing
Position: Padmasana, Ardha-padmasana, Sukhasana
- Sit in any comfortable position as mentioned above with hands resting on knees.
- Inhale slowly and deeply while bringing the abdomen out.
- Exhale slowly and draw the abdomen in.
- Repeat five cycles coordinating the breath with the abdominal movement.
- Make sure entire process is slow, continuous and relaxing.
- In abdominal we utilise the lower lobes of the lungs.
2. Thoracic Breathing or Intercostal Breathing
Position: Padmasana, Ardha-padmasana, Sukhasana
- Sit in any comfortable position as mentioned above with hands resting on knees.
- Inhale slowly and deeply while bringing the chest forward and upward.
- Exhale slowly and relax the chest.
- Repeat five cycles coordinating the breath with the chest movement.
- Make sure entire process is slow, continuous and relaxing.
- Avoid any movement of abdomen.
- In thoracic breathing we utilise the middle lobes of lungs.
3. Clavicular Breathing
Position: Padmasana, Ardha-padmasana, Sukhasana
- Sit in any comfortable position as mentioned above with hands resting on knees.
- Inhale slowly and deeply while lifting the clavicle bone and shoulder upwards.
- Exhale slowly and drop the shoulders down.
- Repeat five cycles coordinating the breath with the shoulder movement.
- Make sure entire process is slow, continuous and relaxing.
- Avoid any movement of abdomen and chest.
- In clavicular breathing we utilise the top lobes of lungs.
With the help of these breathing practices we become aware of our breath and also the three components of respiration. When our respiration is correct, slow, deep and rhythmic, the dynamics of mind is also corrected. The mind becomes calm, focused and relaxed.
August 16th, 2022 by
When we talk about ancient Indian philosophy we mean the Indian systems of thoughts which through scientific study have shown, in their own ways, the path to self-realization. In like manner when we listen about psychoanalysis our mind relates it mostly to the western method of psyche treatment and to its founder Sigmund Freud. But what could be the potential relation between these two apparently different approaches for self-development that East & West suggest? In this article we will explain that the base of the techniques/theories of Indian philosophy and of psychoanalysis, which have helped many people to overcome their mental barriers, has a very important similarity.
The Sanskrit word that is used for philosophy is Darshana which literally means ‘to see’. To see not only what is seen by the organ of sight, but to see-realize-experience the highest truth. Indian philosophy has been intensely spiritual and has always emphasized the realization of truth which is the ultimate reality. The term Darshana mostly refers to the six Indian orthodox philosophical systems (shad darshan): Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta. They are considered orthodox because they accept the “Vedas” as their guiding light. Apart from them there are some other indian philosophical systems which are considered heterodox because they have not accepted the Vedas as the supreme authority. The teachings of Gautama the Buddha is regarded as one of the heterodox systems of Indian philosophy. Among all these philosophical/spiritual streams (orthodox & heterodox) Vedanta, Yoga Darshana and the teachings of Gautama the Buddha are regarded as the most influential paths to self-realization, until nowadays.
The gift of Meditation
Gautama the Buddha had discovered his own unique way of liberating mankind from all the miseries. He initiated an exceptional practice of meditation which he called Vipassana. Vipassana literally means to observe thoroughly, to see clearly. The purpose of this meditation technique is to guide people to reach into their unconscious level of mind so that they find their deep-rooted impressions and to remove them. According to the Buddha the cause of all our sufferings is found in these deeply rooted samskaras (impressions) which lie on the unconscious mind. Once we realize them we come out of all our bondages. Vipassana meditation technique is a deep “surgical operation” of the mind and so are the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (Yoga Darshana). Yoga Darshana is regarded as the path of meditation and the influence of Maharishi Patanjali by Gautama the Buddha is very much visible in the ‘Yoga Sutra’. Maharishi Patanjali is counted to be the traditional founder of Yoga Darshana. He collected, combined and systematized the knowledge of yoga that was already existed and compiled it in his masterpiece manual “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali”, which is divided into 4 chapters. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a manual in which there is deep and detailed analysis of the deepest levels of human mind. From the ‘Yoga Sutra’ we can assume that Maharishi Patanjali considers meditation as the ultimate way to liberation.
Indian Scriptures meet Psychoanalysis
The similarities between these teachings and the theories of Sigmund Freud (founder of psychoanalysis) and Carl Jung (founder of analytical psychology) regarding the importance of conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind in a person’s life are very interesting. The foundation of psychoanalysis is based on these three states of mind (conscious, subconscious, unconscious). Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung hold the same theory that our experiences are stored in our subconscious mind and they are unconsciously redirected or transferred to our conscious state influencing our present life. In simple terms through psychoanalysis the person is guided to look inwards to find the impressions that have been imprinted to the person’s unconscious mind by the experiences of the past. According to the founders of psychoanalysis most of our pains, our fears and mental barriers have their roots in our unconscious mind. This is something that has been highlighted by Gautama the Buddha, Yoga Darshana and Mandukhya upanishad as well. In Mandukhya upanishad these states of mind are called avasthatraya (Jagarat, Swapna, Sushupti) (you can see more details here: what-is-the-meaning-of-mantra-aum-or-om/ ), in Vipassana technique they are defined as chetan, avachetan, achetan and in Patanjali ‘Yoga Sutra’ they are indirectly meant, especially in the first chapter of ‘Samadhi Pada’.
The Importance of Introspection
Many people cannot look within that is why they will always blame others of their sufferings. They have relationship issues, career difficulties, panic attack crises, mental disorders, yet they keep accusing others of their condition. It is difficult to look inwards, because there is darkness, pain and fear from the past impressions that were imprinted in our mind, mostly during our childhood or even more back. Our behavior patterns, acts, hesitations, arguing are controlled by these deep-rooted impressions, which by Gautama the Buddha and Yoga Darshana are called samskaras. Some of them are rooted in the subconscious mind and most of them are in the unconscious mind. Until unless we realize it, we will be PUPPETS in the hands of the states of mind which will have the role of a puppeteer. If you want to liberate yourself from the strings of puppeteer now is the time for change. You know the way; you just have to choose the path.
July 6th, 2022 by
Wisdom arises in the moments of pure relaxation. Wisdom is to see the things as they are and not as they appear. But to ‘see’ things are they are, cannot be accomplished from the surface layers of mind which are always agitated and disturbed and from where we normally operate. A deeply calm, subtle and penetrating mind has to be cultivated to see things and events in their real nature and not their deceptive form. The moment we transcend the activity of superficial thinking mind, we start moving towards deeper awareness and we experience both wisdom and state of inner relaxation.
Obtaining the right wisdom and carrying it within has been the focal point of all spiritual tradition. From schools of Yoga and Vedanta to the Buddha, search was on for pure knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom for what? For complete eradication of stresses and sufferings.
It was known that gathered knowledge and skill are insufficient means for termination of stresses and states of bondage. People had the knowledge of stars and planets and skills to focus their minds but still there seems to be no end for stress. Stress is not just a modern day phenomena. Stress represents imbalance and imbalances were there in the past too. Patanjali has described stress as klesha and Buddha as dukha. Every action and effort was falling short to deal with the problem of stress or misery. Misery existed beyond doubt and the methods for its eradication were limited and uncertain. There was the need of a completely new way to reach out complete solution to the problem of stress. A discovery had to be made. If there is a problem, then solution has to be there.
Knowledge and skill are part of action and effort. Every time an action is made, something new emerges. With action there is new result, a new building up, a new becoming and a new variant of stress. Action, knowledge and skill howsoever precise and sublime may be, were proving insufficient. Something was missing. What exists beyond human action, knowledge and skill may be the solution. But that is the unknown realm full of speculation and without any perceptual reality or evidence. What if we start observing the action? All kinds of action, those which proceed from body and also those intrinsic to the body like breath, if put under awareness? Actions are endless and flowing with the actions has the potency to propel us endlessly in this present state of imbalance or stress. Therefore, observing action and witnessing it is the new discovery. With this discovery the search came to an end and there is dawn of wisdom.
Thus, the wisdom is in witnessing. Witnessing dissolves ego. Earlier action was building up knowledge and skill, which is feeding the ego. Ego is imbalance and hence stress and misery. Action-knowledge-skill-ego-bondage-stress-misery. A great vicious circle. Now the only way out is to witness. Witness the action of breath, witness the action of mind, and witness the action of body is the way formard. For the first time rather than working for action, witnessing of action happened and that made all the difference. Action is still present, but its ‘doer’ is absent since the doer is witnessing. Now the action is not mere action. Action is transformed and so the individual. Now the action is in ‘relaxation’. Refinement of action is not its outward execution but inner intention, freedom and let-go.
Therefore, the wisdom that emerges from witnessing says that it is not the amount or magnitude of action that is important. Important is how much of it is done under the state of witnessing. Under witnessing there is no ‘doer of action’ or sense of doer-ship. Once the sense of doer-ship subsides there is no ego. There is a great release within and deep sense of ease, comfort, relaxation and letting-go. There is instant awakening to the nature of stress, its cause and the means to liberate from it.
Pranayama is a vast field of yoga, which utilizes certain breathing techniques to help us understand the essence of prana. The Rishis (sages) have linked prana with the breath in its gross form, hence they initiated a complete system of breathing techniques, that initially would help them to understand their breath at the physical level and then to realize the essence of prana. Each technique has its own benefits but there are at least five common benefits for all pranayama i.e. breathing techniques.
Breath is the most vital process of the body. It is the closest thing to us and yet the most forgotten. No matter what we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how skinny or young or wise we are—none of it will matter unless we’re breathing correctly. Yet, the truth is that our capacity to breathe has been deteriorating through the years and the main reason is the stressful lifestyle. Research have clearly shown that more than the average of people is breathing incorrectly, which lead them to a list of many chronic diseases.
In ancient times, the hatha yoga masters had understood that our life span is depended on the rhythm of the respiration. By observing the animals, they noticed that animals with slow breath rate such as tortoise have longer life span than those animals with high breath rate, such as dogs. For this reason they started to begin aware of their breath and focused on their breathing patterns. After long observation and realization the Hatha Yogis introduced a complete system of breathing techniques, which at the gross level is related to the breath and at the subtle level is related to higher level of consciousness through the expansion of prana. This system is called ‘Pranayama’
Hatha Yoga Pradipika, one of the classical texts and the most influential on hatha yoga, mentions eight pranayama. That is Suryabheda, Ujjai, Seetkari, Sheetali, Plavini, Moorcha, Brahmari, Bhastrika. Each one of them has certain benefits and certain contraindictions. Some benefits are common for all pranayama – breathing techniques.
All pranayama techniques increase lungs’ capacity
Pranayama ‘trains’ the muscles of respiration and the respiratory organs. It strengthens the respiratory muscles and it helps the lungs to become more elastic, resulting in a healthier process of breathing. The techniques of pranayama draw sufficient air to the lungs and allow more time for the oxygen to mix with the blood flow. The oxygenated blood will be transported to the cells, which are nourished by it.
All pranayama techniques alleviate heart diseases & hypertension:
The breathing techniques of pranayama minimize the stress on the cardiac system by slowing down the breath. When the breath is slow it gives rest to the heart. Coronary muscles are relaxed without reducing the supply of oxygen to the brain and the other body parts, resulting in a balanced blood pressure and healthy heart.
All pranayama techniques harmonize the endocrine system
During breathing techniques the circulation of the blood is very active and its quality very rich, because of the oxygen supply. The rich supply is brought to the endocrine glands, it enhances their function and along with the regulated breathing helps to balance the system.
All pranayama techniques harmonize the autonomic nervous system
All the major structures of the respiratory system have nerves related to the autonomic nervous system. Inhalation brings in oxygen and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Exhalation brings out the carbon dioxide and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Hence, both hemispheres of the nervous system are stimulated, which results to their balance.
All pranayama techniques lead to mind steadiness
Breathing techniques result in synchronous flow of alpha, theta and delta waves (what is the meaning of mantra om) which harmonize the brain activity.
By understanding pranayama we understand how the billions of molecules we bring in with each breath have built our bones, sheaths of muscle, blood, etc. By understanding pranayama we realize that breathing techniques are a very powerful medicine, because breathing in different patterns can really influence our overall health.
Without breath no one and nothing can survive.
Take care of your breath.