Asana is a fundamental aspect of yoga practice, and it is designed to help us develop physical, mental, and spiritual strength and flexibility. The practice of asana involves holding specific postures or poses, with the aim of promoting physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Here are some key features of asana that make it such an important tool for self-improvement:
1. Stable and comfortable
One of the key features of asana is that it encourages us to find a state of stability and comfort within each posture. This is achieved through proper alignment, engagement of the core muscles, and a focus on deep breathing. Stability helps us to maintain the posture for a longer period, allowing us to benefit fully from the practice. By finding a sense of stability and comfort within each posture, we can learn to stay grounded and centered even in challenging situations.
2. Stimulation and Relaxation
Another key feature of asana is that it stimulates and relaxes different parts of the body and mind. Each posture can be thought of as a specific tool for targeting different areas of the body, such as the spine, hips, shoulders, and legs. Asana first help to stimulate all such different parts of our body, by gentle stretch, improving blood circulation or by massaging effect.
At the same time, asana also encourages us to cultivate a state of relaxation and surrender, reducing tension and stress. This is achieved through conscious breathing and withdrawal of stimulation, at the same time maintaining an internal awareness. By learning to let go of tension and resistance, we can create a sense of ease and openness in our bodies and minds.
3. Merging with Infinity
Another key feature of asana is that it encourages us to connect with the infinite nature of the universe. Each posture is designed to help us access a deeper level of consciousness and awareness, where we can experience a sense of merging with the universe. As we practice different postures, we become more aware of our body and breath, and our mind becomes more focused and still. This helps us to connect with our inner self and the universal consciousness, leading to a deeper sense of peace and harmony.
Through this merging with infinity, we can tap into a source of infinite wisdom, love, and compassion. This can help us to overcome feelings of fear, doubt, and anxiety, and to cultivate a sense of peace, joy, and gratitude.
4. Dual Free
Finally, asana is designed to help us break free from the limitations of duality. In yoga philosophy, duality refers to the idea that we see ourselves as separate from the universe and from other people, as well as the concept of opposites, such as hot and cold, light and dark, or good and bad. This sense of separation can lead to feelings of loneliness, fear, and insecurity.
Through the practice of asana, we can learn to see ourselves as interconnected with the universe and with all living beings. This can help us to cultivate a sense of oneness, compassion, and empathy. By breaking free from the limitations of duality, we can create a sense of freedom and liberation in our lives. As we practice asanas, we learn to be in the present moment and accept things as they are, without getting attached to any particular outcome or judgment. This helps us to transcend duality and achieve a state of oneness and unity.
In conclusion, asana is a powerful tool for self-improvement, offering us a wide range of benefits for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced practitioner, incorporating asana into your daily routine can help you to find stability, relaxation, connection, and freedom.
Yoga is an ancient system of healing that has been practiced for thousands of years. It has gained popularity in recent years as a form of alternative medicine due to its ability to promote physical, mental, and emotional health. In this blog post, we will explore some of the core concepts of yoga as an alternative medicine and highlight the importance of calming the mind towards overall wellbeing.
Yoga a Holistic Healing System
Yoga is a holistic system of healing that works on the mind, body, and spirit. It is based on the concept that the human body is a complex system of interconnected parts, and that when one part is out of balance, it affects the entire system. Yoga postures or asanas are designed to bring balance to the body by stretching, strengthening, and relaxing the muscles, while pranayama or breathing exercises help to regulate the flow of energy in the body.
The Importance of Mindfulness
Yoga emphasizes the importance of mindfulness, which is the practice of being fully present and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Mindfulness helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and promotes a sense of calm and wellbeing. In yoga, mindfulness is cultivated through the practice of meditation, which involves focusing the mind on a single point of concentration.
The Role of Chitta
Chitta is a Sanskrit term that refers to the mind or consciousness. In yoga, it is believed that the state of the chitta is closely linked to physical and emotional health. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the chitta can be disturbed by various mental states such as fear, anger, or desire. By practicing yoga, we can calm the chitta and bring it into a state of balance, which leads to greater wellbeing.
Yoga for Specific Health Conditions
Yoga has been found to be effective in managing a variety of health conditions, including back pain, arthritis, anxiety, and depression. Certain yoga poses and breathing techniques can help to alleviate physical symptoms and improve overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, yoga can be practiced as a complementary therapy alongside traditional medical treatments.
The Benefits of Regular Yoga Practice
Regular yoga practice has numerous benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health. It can improve flexibility, strength, and balance, reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and boost overall mood and wellbeing. By cultivating a regular yoga practice, we can create a strong foundation for long-term health and wellbeing.
In conclusion, yoga is an effective form of alternative medicine that promotes holistic health and wellbeing. By focusing on the mind-body connection and cultivating mindfulness and calmness, we can improve our physical, mental, and emotional health. Whether practiced as a complementary therapy or as a standalone practice, yoga offers a powerful tool for promoting long-term health and wellbeing.
Hatha yoga is a practice that helps to unlock the power of your solar and lunar energies within. By balancing the opposite energies, you can open yourself up to a science of purification and energy channelization. This practice is believed to be able to transmute cells from gross to subtle and accelerate evolution by compressing life into few minutes of bodily existence. This blog post will break down what hatha yoga is, how it works, and why it is such an effective system for unlocking your body’s power.
What Is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha yoga is an ancient system of physical movement that originated in India hundreds of years ago. It was designed as a way to balance physical, mental, and spiritual energies within the body through conscious breathing patterns, posture work, meditation, and relaxation techniques. It has been used for centuries by yogis (practitioners) as a way to achieve higher levels of consciousness and self-realization.
Hatha yoga helps us to tap into our inner solar and lunar energies, which are said to be opposite forces. The idea is that when we bring these forces together, we can create perfect harmony between mind, body and spirit – a state known as “samadhi”. At its core, hatha yoga seeks to make changes at the cellular level by transmuting cells from gross matter into subtle matter. This shift helps us gain access to our inner wisdom which can lead us towards higher consciousness and spiritual enlightenment. By compressing lifetimes worth of knowledge into a few minutes of bodily existence, we can rapidly accelerate our own evolution.
How Does Hatha Yoga Work?
Hatha yoga works by activating the body’s subtle energies (prana) which are believed to be responsible for our overall health and wellbeing. Through conscious breathing patterns (pranayama), postures (asanas), meditation, and relaxation techniques (shavasana), we can tap into these hidden powers within us. By using these tools in combination with each other, hatha yoga can help us access our own inner wisdom and intuition while providing us with tools to manage modern day stress more effectively. In addition to this, hatha yoga also helps strengthen muscles throughout the entire body while improving overall flexibility.
Transforming Our Bodies Through Hatha Yoga
The chief benefit associated with the practice of Hatha yoga is its capacity for transforming our bodies from gross matter into subtle matter. As we practice asanas and pranayama regularly, we begin to notice changes in our physical form as well as mental clarity and emotional stability. We also become more aware of how certain postures affect us differently than others – some may make us feel energized while others may make us feel relaxed. By becoming familiar with these sensations, we can learn how best to tailor each session according to our needs at any given time.
Why Is Hatha Yoga So Effective?
Hatha yoga has been proven time and time again to have numerous benefits for practitioners both physically and mentally. Physically speaking, it increases circulation throughout the whole body while stimulating organs like the heart, lungs, digestive system, etc., leading to improved overall health. Mentally speaking, it helps improve focus and concentration while reducing stress levels through its calming effects on both mind and body. In addition, research has also shown that practicing this form of yoga can have an impact on brain plasticity – meaning it can help improve cognitive functioning such as memory recall and emotion regulation over time. Improved brain plasticity also help reduce symptoms associated with neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia in elderly individuals or those suffering from traumatic brain injury or stroke recovery.
Hatha yoga is an incredibly powerful practice that can lead us down a path towards accelerated evolution. By creating balance between solar and lunar energies within us, we are able to purify and channel energy which leads to higher levels of consciousness. Through this practice, we are also able take advantage of brain plasticity by creating new neural pathways or strengthening existing ones in order to gain greater insight into ourselves and achieve spiritual enlightenment faster than ever before! If you’re looking for a way to increase your personal growth rate exponentially, look no further—hatha yoga could be exactly what you need!
The seven Chakras are also known as the psychic centers of our personality. According to Rishis (sage) they are situated in our subtle body. Although there is not a scientific explanation yet regarding these psychic centers, the Rishis had experienced them while they had been in deep meditative states. There are myriads of chakras in every person, but as mentioned by the Tantrik texts of Hatha Yoga, there are around thirty-two chakras out of which seven are the most important. These seven main psychic centers of our personality will be analyzed in this blog.
Defining the Chakras
The information that we have regarding the psychic centers of our personality are mostly from the Tantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga. Literally the Sanskrit word chakra means wheel or circle, but as explained by the Rishis it means whirlpool.
Chakras are considered as spinning disks of energy in our subtle body. They sent vibrations at specific areas in the subtle body and they control the flow and the direction of prana within it (for prana click here: the-energy-that-gives-material-form-to-everything/ ). Although the psychic centers of our personality are located in our subtle body, yogis had realized that the chakras are very much related to our anatomical regions and our physiological functions as well, especially to our endocrine glands. Hence, they affect our physical and emotional well being.
Chakras had been experienced by the yogis in the form of lotus (padma). Lotus is a beautiful flower with very deep meaning, it is a concept and it has become an archetype. The lotus flower has to pass through three stages until it blooms: mud, water, blooming. These stages are related to a person’s spiritual path. For instance in the spiritual path a person has to pass through three phases: ignorance (darkness, mud), aspiration and endeavor (endeavor of lotus to pass through water to surface), illumination (blooming). Additionaly the lotus flower is regarded as a symbol of detachment because although lotus needs water to survive it is detached by it because its leaves are waterproofed.
The ‘anatomy’ of the psychic centers
The yogis under deep meditative states have experienced that the seven chakras are located along the merudanda, which in the physical level is our spinal column. Each of the psychic centers corresponds to a network of very subtle nadis. Nadi means flow, thus nadis are pranic channels for the flow of prana. In our physical body these nadis can be related to the arteries or nerves. According to Tantra Yoga there are approximately 72,000 nadis in our body out of which three are the most important. That is Ida nadi, Pigala nadi and Sushumna nadi, which circulate the mental, vital and spiritual energies respectively within our subtle body. The principal nadi is the Sushumna Nadi, which is considered to be inside our merudanda. As per the Rishis, in the physical body Sushumna nadi extends from the region of our genitals to the crown of the head. Ida and Pigala nadis – which are also in the merudanda– lie respectively on left and right side of the Sushumna base, that is at our genitals. They ascend together in a coiled manner around the Sushumna nadi by creating ‘meeting’ junctions in certain points of the Sushumna. Each ‘meeting’ junction created on the Sushumna nadi by Ida and Pingala originates one of the seven main Chakras that will be analyzed here.
It is important to understand that the above correlations of nadis in our physical body are not tangible, they are just a projection on it. For instance we cannot feel the nadis by putting our fingers on our spine, neither they can be seen through an X-ray nor through a body operation nor with any other medical approach because they are in our subtle body, which can only be experienced. As you know the subject of modern anatomical science is the physical body rather than the subtle body. Subtle body is still controversial subject in most of the modern medicine fields. Hence, these correlations are meant only to help the modern mind to understand the concept of nadis and the psychic centers.
The theory around the chakras – the psychic centers
According to the Rishis there are many chakras in our subtle body out of which seven are the most important and which in our physical body reflected in our spine. Each one of the seven chakras is pictured in the form of lotus having a certain number of petals and a characteristic color. Each chakra is reflected in a specific part on the spine, it is related with a certain gland, it is associated with one of the five elements of nature, a particular sense – organ, an organ of action, a vayu, a seed-syllable, a male deity and his consort and a representative animal. When one chakra does not function properly, there is imbalance of the flow of energy in our subtle body, which is manifested in the form of disease in the physical body. It is considered that there are certain diseases that are caused by a certain chakra which is not in balance. Equilibrium of chakras functions means health and to maintain this health in the physical level there are specific groups of asanas for chakra balancing. These theories are part of the evolution of chakra theory and not the base. These theories have emerged because the psychic centers have stimulated enormously the interest of many other traditions around the world which have tried to analyze them. Thus, although the source of the chakras are the Kundalini Yoga, Tantra Yoga and Hatha Yoga, the latest information that we have regarding the psychoanalysis, the diseases and the group of asana related to the chakras is a mixture of Indian tradition, western approach and Chinese medicine.
The ‘meeting’ pointof the three main nadis where they merge into one stream of consciousness up to Sahashrara.
Number of Petals
Group of Asana
Trataka, meditation, Shambavi mudra, kaki mudra, jala neti, sutra neti
Higher states of awareness, clairvoyance, strong will power
7. Sahashrara – Crown Chakra
Sahasrara = One Thousand
The union of Shiva & Shakti
Number of Petals
The above information of the chakras’ features come mostly from the Tantric and Hatha Yogic books. In our attempt to study the chakras deeply from different sources we might find some slight differences. This is because there are many interpretations of the chakra analysis by different traditions which give their own point of view.
Once again, it should be remembered that the description of chakras is directly derived from visualizations, and not from imaginative reflection, which means that the concept of chakras is essentially esoteric. Therefore, attempts at discovering the physiological correlates are bound to be misleading.
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.
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.
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.
The most common explanation given for the word prana in most of the texts is either “vital force” or “energy” but none of these words can precisely describe the deep meaning of prana. The term prana had emerged from higher states of contemplation referring to “livingness”, that is THE one energy which gives material form to everything in this universe. Whether it is a planet or an asteroid, an animal or a human, a grass or a tree, if there were no prana there would be no life into existence.
What is the source of information regarding Prana
In Prashna Upanishad there is a discussion between the rishi Pippalada and his six disciples, who had reached his feet seeking for clarifications regarding their intellectual & spiritual doubts. One of the six questions deals with the creation of the universe, in which the rishi explains that everything in this universe are created by the pair of Prana (energy) & Rayi (matter). Prana is the energy that gives material form to everything. When we say form it does not mean only those that can be seen, but also all the subtle products that cannot be seen, like the thoughts created by the mind, for example or the blood circulation.
Nowadays, modern science has given sufficient data to us, especially with the theory of relativity, not to doubt on these declarations. According to scientists this earth, every one of the billions of individual cells of our body and every atom of matter began as an intangible form of energy. As far as science has been able to determine, the entire universe consists of but two elements, that is matter and energy. Nuclear scientists “cry” that matter is established, controlled and sustained by energy. Through the combination of energy and matter has been created everything that it is perceptible to us. What the science has found lately, regarding the composition of the universe, is exactly same with what the rishi had experienced after been in deep meditation states, i.e. energy (prana) gives material form to everything in this universe.
Hatha Yoga & Prana
According to the Prashna Upanishad Sun is the presiding deity of energy (Prana)and Moon is the representative deity of matter (Rayi). Hatha Yoga is based on exactly same concept because the word HATHA is the combination of two beeja mantra(seed mantra, a particular vibration which has its origin in transcendental consciousness). The beeja mantra HA represents the sun, the energy (Prana), the vital force and the beeja mantra THA represents the moon, the matter (Rayi),the consciousness, the mental force. Both prana and consciousness must be present for the life to exist. Hence hatha yoga means the union of vital and mental forces, which permeate every atom and cell of the universe.
The five pranas – Pancha Vayu
The Prana, the energy that gives material form to everything is also called Maha Prana – the great energy from which five primary forces (pancha prana) are emerged. These five forces that are also called prana vayus, function when the life resides in the body and they operate at all times to accomplish various body functions. The term vayus means “that which flow” and the prana vayu represent their flow in all the elements, organs and the mind.
The pancha vayu maintain the balance between the physical and the mental level and their physical locations are relevant in regard to the functions of the body.
Apana Vayu: Apana vayu is located in the lower portion of the body. It operates in the pelvic region, it is related to the earth and water elements and it is responsible for the expulsion of gas, feces, urine, semen and ova. It nourishes the fetus and it helps the uterus during the labour to give birth.
Prana Vayu: Prana vayu is located at the upper portion of the body and it is related to the sun. It operates in the thoracic region and it is the center of circulation of life energy. It is responsible for all chest activities such as breathing, swallowing and circulation of blood.
Samana Vayu: Samana vayu is located at the middle part of the body and it is related to the space between sun and earth. It is responsible for digestion and to maintain all nutrition and healthy life of all the cells in body. Samana vayu has a stabilizing role between prana and apana vayu.
Udana Vayu: Udana vayu operates in the extremities of the body, that is the arms and the legs and it directs the activities of the brain (vision, hearing, smell, sensation). Activities such as food & drink intake, vomiting, spitting, swallowing are all under the control of udana. Udana is related to the fire element because it gives warmth to the body. It also provides the motive force for the subtle body to move out of the physical structure at the moment of its death.
Vyana vayu: Vyana vayu pervades the whole body and acts as reserve energy. It gives extra boosting to all other pranas whenever it is required. It is related to the air element and it is responsible for all the muscles movements.
Everyone is born with a certain quantum of prana, but the quantity and the quality change continuously, as one goes in life. All Yogic practices generate higher levels of prana, but pranayama is the most effective, because it help us to expand the prana, regulate it properly and maintain its quantity in high levels.
Prana is the first principle that comes along our birth and the last which leaves us after death. Without prana there is no life into existence.
AUM is the mystical utterance that stems from the sacred language of the Vedic revelations. The meaning of mantra AUM or Om is understood as an expression ‘of the totality of creation’, it is considered as the sound of the universe and it seems to have an allusion to the Triple deity of Hinduism as well.
Generally the mantras are hymns to the powers of nature, which is seen as kind, tolerant and merciful, yet mighty, severe, and unrelenting deity. The Mantra is the language of nature in which cosmic intelligence reverberates as the laws of nature. They are expressions of joy, ecstasy and wonderment for nature’s beauty. The rishis (sages) worshiped the dignity of mountains, the majesty of the sunrise, the beauty of moon, the grandeur of ocean. All the Mantra together form the structure of pure knowledge.
A logical explanation on how the mantra had been revealed can be given by taking the example of physics:
The formula E=mc2 was given by Einstein and it is the expression of matter in energy, which we cannot see.
Like the formula used in science there are Mantra (sounds) and Yantra (symbols) used in yoga. Just as a scientist gives an expression to the principle of energy he sees or experiences through research and intuition, similarly the Rishis (sages) have given an expression, a designation of the supreme consciousness that may be in the form of Mantra or Yantra. In the form of mantra it means that supreme consciousness is designated by a sound formula, while in the form of Yantra means that it is designated as a psychic symbol.
The Mantra AUM is both Mantra and Yantra. It is the universal cosmic Mantra that – according to MandukyaUpanishad represents the four stages of consciousness and it is an aid to the ascertainment of the reality of the self.
Analysis of Letters (AUM) Sound
For the sake of the analysis we divide the self into four quarters, that mean the four steps to the knowledge of Self.
A- sound (A-Kara): Stands for the first quarter of the self, that represents the sphere of the awaking state (Jagrat). The A – sound is related to our conscious mind, to our physical body, to the external things of the gross cosmic world and to the objective experience. It signifies the creation – the Brahma.
U- sound (U-Kara): Stands for the second quarter of the self, that represents the sphere of the dreaming state (Swapna). The U – sound is related with our subconscious and with our subtle body. During this state the mind projects the impressions that have been accumulated throughout the awaking state. The person becomes a witness of subjective experiences. It indicates the preservation – the Vishnu.
M- sound (M-Kara): Stands for the third quarter of the self, that represents the sphere of the deep sleep state (Sushupti). The M – sound is related with our unconscious and with our blissful body. During this state everything becomes undifferentiated, the person abounds in bliss, without any experience, but the person is not the bliss itself yet. It personifies the Mahesh – the destruction.
The Silence following the pronunciation of the three, A, U, and M, is the fourth quarter of the self. That is the ultimate un-manifest, wherein perfected supra-consciousness (Turiya) totally reflects and merges with the pure, transcendental essence of Divine Reality. The person becomes bliss itself.
If the meaning of mantra AUM is understood in relation to the state of consciousness, the aspirant transcends the three states of manifested consciousness and ultimately reaches to the fourth state, that is Turiya (supra – consciousness), the unmanifested, unexpressed and unheard state of true self.
Brainwaves & their Relationship with AUM
But how can the aspirant reach to these levels mentioned above? The answer is simple: with the help of meditation. The Rishis were able to reveal the AUM “formula” through profound internal research, while being in deep meditation. Modern science has shed light on the states of consciousness by verifying that each state has certain brain frequencies, same in all human brains, irrelevant of age, sex or origin. Research have shown that the brain is an electrochemical organ which can generate some power which is displayed in the form of brainwaves. There are five categories of these brainwaves, ranging from the most activity to the least activity. The four of them are mentioned bellow and they are related to the mantra AUM.
When the brain is active & engaged in mental activities (awaking state, jagrat, the A sound) it generates beta waves. These beta waves are of relatively low amplitude and are the fastest of the four different brainwaves. A person in active conversation would be in beta, a person making a speech, or a teacher taking a class would all be in beta waves.
When the mind is in a dreaming state (Swapna, the U sound) it is typically of a great amplitude and slower frequency and it generates theta waves. This can happen either while the person is sleeping or in daytime while running outdoors and being in the state of mental relaxation or even while shaving or in shower or anytime the person is mentally disengaged.
During the deep sleep (sushupti, the M sound) the brainwave state is delta. Here the brainwaves are of the greatest amplitude and slowest frequency and the person abounds in bliss.
Higher brain functions and higher states of awareness (Turiya – silence) that are generated during meditation produce gamma brainwaves, which are very beneficial for a continuous mindfulness state.
The mantra AUM, therefore, together with its surrounding silence, is a sound-symbol of the whole of consciousness existence and awareness. The meaning of mantra AUM is difficult to be understood by logic or intelligence, until unless it will be experienced and realized through the meditation. This is a good reason for integrating-yoga-in-our-life/