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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
To put your limits is the best option to make someone understand that you can both live happily by mutual respect. Every time you suppress your limits a certain impression is recorded in your subconscious mind. There is a huge misconception around yoga that yoga practitioners should endure everything. NOT AT ALL! Through the practice of yoga we learn to cultivate our limits. Endurance of everything is an aspect that has been promoted by those who want to nurture submissive personalities, having as purpose to manipulate their mind, hence, to control the masses!
Concept of Limits
According to the dictionary limit means: “a point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass”
The famous poet Alfred George Gardiner in his work “Pebbles on the Seashore” had very nicely explained the meaning of limits in one sentence: “A person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins.”
Countries, cities, villages create lines to define their territories and to make their population to understand that we do not live in a jungle, where creatures eat each other, but in a civilized society, guided by defining limits.
Our family is a miniature of the society, where we as children are taught about our limits and we are prepared to face the society later on. If this is not been taught within the family, then it is definitely going to impact our adult life negatively, until unless we define our limits, by the society’s subsequent demands.
Some people believe that by putting your limits is a sign of domination. On the contrary, to put your limits is the best option to make someone understand that you can both live happily by mutual respect.
Remember that every time you suppress your limits because you have to face someone who has no limits, a certain impression is recorded in your subconscious mind. If this impression is not properly analyzed two things can happen: either you will have a surprising outburst in an irrelevant time or you will experience psychosomatic diseases later on, from the unwilling endurance you have shown.
Yoga Practice Cultivates Limits in the Subconscious Mind
There is a huge misconception around yoga that yoga practitioners should endure everything. NOT AT ALL! In yoga asana we limit our practice on a mat with certain dimensions and we work on that limit, hence it is recorded in the subconscious that there are limits. We also learn to work within our body limits and to respect it, because if not so, a somatic injure will definitely occur. The yoga asana, that is physical practice, is what we call gross level and its impact is recorded to the subtle level that is our subconscious mind. Hence, by yoga asana practice we learn to build limits in a flexible way.
Likewise from the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali we understand that the path of the spirituality is not full of rose petals, rather it is rough especially for those who live in the mundane. It requires discipline, which means to limit your actions and your behavior patterns in a different way from what you have used earlier, so that you achieve the goal of self-realization. For instance, if a person is addicted to drugs or to alcohol or is indulge into sexual intercourses, this person has to limit his behavior patterns to be able to walk on the path of spirituality. But how can such a kind of personality limit his behavior patterns with the help of yoga sutras? The answer is that it might can, but it requires more effort. Taking into consideration that yoga starts from gross level of our personality and penetrates into the subtle level, the person can start by practicing initially Hatha Yoga. Hatha yoga starts working with our gross level, penetrates into the subtle level of our personality and leads to Raja Yoga that is the yoga sutra of Patanjali. Transition should be smooth without trying to suppress one’s feelings because it may lead to insanity. We should understand that these techniques and philosophies are rooted in a period where the lifestyle was different. In the current times, where our minds are possessed by an intense passion of materialism, you should not be disappointed if all of them may not be applicable. Perhaps progress will not be easy and it might take time, but it is a journey worth try.
Patience vs Endurance
To sum up, through yoga practice we learn to create our limits, to build strong personality, to respect all beings of this planet and we cultivate patience. Some people are confused between patience and endurance. Enduring everything, no matter what, is the huge TRAP! It is acceptance of everything with judgement.
Endurance of everything is an aspect been promoted by those who want to nurture submissive personalities, having as purpose to manipulate their mind, hence to control the masses!
BE AWARE by whom you are receiving your practice! and by whom are you guided into the path of spirituality.
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.