In yesterday’s post, I hardly had time to get started. Talking about the balancing act between prâna and apâna, I likened it to the accumulation and ridding of material things. I wanted to finish the post by discussing the IN and the OUT of yoga practice.
Most of us arrive at a yoga practice carrying a lot of impressions (samskaras). When used therapeutically, yoga helps us to unpick the essential from the superfluous. Let’s use fear as an illustrative example. A healthy amount of fear, or caution, is necessary. Otherwise, we might try to fly off mountainsides, or jump into strangers’ cars at 4 in the morning. But too much fear can stop us talking to interesting strangers at parties, travelling to unknown lands or otherwise enriching our human experience. So, the continuous practice of yoga, especially challenging postures that elicit a certain amount of fear (say, backbends, breath retentions) allows us to watch our fear response, get to know it intimately and then, ultimately, control it at important moments.
So, yoga can be used to unpick the essential from the superfluous. When there is a dominance of prâna>apâna, there may be a tendency to flightiness, an abundance of ideas without the capacity to distinguish the good ones from the mediocre, and an inability to realise/materialise one’s own ideas. Somatic manifestations like headaches, twitching eyelids, tooth grinding, jaw tensing, ear ringing, panicky breathing, neck and shoulder tension, pounding heart, tingling fingers and nervous habits like skin picking, smoking and nail biting are all related to prâna>apâna. (please bear in mind that prâna and Prâna are two different things. The lowercase version refers to the vayu that dominates the upper body. Uppercase refers to the universal energy that sustains all Life.) When prâna is in balance, our thoughts are fast but not fleeting, we have good recall and can crosslink ideas as well as exercise intuition. When prâna is overactive, we are nervous, irritable and irascible. When it is underactive, we are forgetful, fretful and worried.
Of course, we need adequate prâna to sustain life. Likewise, we need adequate apâna, also. Apâna dominates the digestive organs and pelvic region. When it is out of balance, all manner of digestive troubles may ensue, as would varicose veins, swollen ankles, heel spoor and other foot disorders, cellulite or peau d’orange as well as general sluggishness or tiredness. When apâna is strong, we are able to rid ourselves of waste material (urine, faeces) but don’t excrete too much (frequent urination, irritable bowel). When it is weak, we may have flatulence, constipation, diverticules and pelvic prolapse.
Of course, should anyone out there reading this believe that yoga alone can cure any of the above named disorders, I have to do the responsible thing and state this this post is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose any medical problem. Go to your doctor, FFS. But, if they can’t put a name on what ails you, as often happens, ie: you don’t have a diagnosed and named pathology, then maybe some self-care in the form of yoga can prove helpful.
How to balance prâna and apâna? Coming soon…but Krishnamacharya would probably say apanâsana and dvipâdapitam…
Namaste and may you be filled with joy. JSK.
Muy interesante artículo…http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/gallery/2014/jul/22/serpentine-swimming-club-in-pictures
The shoulder joint is the joint in the human body with the greatest range of motion. To keep the shoulder joint stable, we have the wonderful rotator cuff, a group of small muscles below the armpit and shoulderblade. Sadly, these little muscles are ofter under-developed, leaving the shoulder unsupported and prone to pain and dislocation. This little sequence is very healing for shoulders. I learned it from Claude Maréchal, the head of the Viniyoga lineage in Europe. But, the shoulder-drop to the floor with the arms at vertical is pure Rachel…my little contribution to the sequence to make it more healing…Try to do this six times, twice a day.
Earlier, I published a description of the yoga pose dvipada-pitâm. Here are the photos to accompany that post. Please refer to the description. Please note: keep the chin tucked in, make sure hands and feet are firmly on the floor. Don’t pull the feet in towards the buttocks with your hands. Let the natural flexibility of your leg joints determine the distance between bum and heel.
I previously published a description of the yoga pose apanâsana. Please refer to that post. Here are the photos to accompany the description. Please note: Keep your chin tucked down!
Ayer, tuve el placer de dar una clase en una Jornada de Bienestar y Salud, en Dénia. Habían unos 20 personas. Entre ellos, algunos novatos, y algunos que ya practican hatha yoga.
Es curioso como los que ya practican yoga piden casi siempre clases y posturas avanzadas. De un lado, lo puedo entender, este deseo de reproducir las posturas tipo espaghettis que nos venden en las revistas de yoga. En un momento dado, yo también tenía muchas ganas de hacer el Escorpión. Incluso, me caí de cabeza intentando bajarme las piernas desde sirshasana (el escorpión no se toma desde sirshasana…pero como era bastante neofita y sin profe, bueno…)
Pero luego, encontré el Viniyoga y, estudiando con asiduidad, llegué a entender que las posturas no son el fin de la práctica del yoga. El fin es tranquilizarnos la mente para encontrar la felicidad.
La posturas forman parte de método del yoga. La paz mental es la meta. Importante no confundir el método por la meta.
En Yoga Sutras Libro II, el sábio Patanjali describe el camino del yoga. Consiste en ocho partes, ó miembros. Las primeras cinco – yama, niyama, âsana, pranayâma y pratyahara – son el método. Es la receta para preparar la mente para la medtación. El sabio cierre el segundo libro con pratyahara, el retiro de los sentidos. Parafraseando, Patanjali dice:
Bueno, alumnos, ahora que, a través de nuestros buen comportamientos hacia los demás y hacía nosotros mismos (yama, niyama), a través de la práctica contínua y al largo plazo de las posturas y respiraciones (âsana, pranayama), habeis llegado al momento para sentaros, retirar vuestra atención del entorno (pratyahara) y contemplar.
Patanjali continua en Yoga Sutras Libro III describiendo el camino del yogi. Ahora, abordamos la contemplación meditativa. Dharana, dhyana, samadhi….concentración, meditación, liberación. Estos tres son la meta del yoga, Tambíen forman parte del camino, pero son realmente los frutos de la práctica. Repito: importante no confundir le método por la meta.
¿Y, de estos que te demandan las posturas avanzadas? Bueno, en el contexto de una clase general y grupal, no las vamos a abordar. Y punto. Iguál en una clase avanzada ó MasterClass se podría trabajar equilibrios avanzados. Con la preparación y actitud adecuadas son perfectamente asequibles.
Pero,¿como una profe puede satisfacer a la necesidad de esa gente de profundizar en su práctica? Porque, en su esencia, cuando te piden posturas avanzadas, lo que realmente te estan pidiendo es profundizar en su práctica. “He llegado a tal punto, me encuentro bien, por donde voy ahora?” Puede ser impaciencia (ojo!). Pero, puede ser la sed de él que busque pidiendo limosna. “Por favor, enseñame el camino que me lleva desde la miseria hacía la paz”, te imploran.
El Viniyoga dispone de muchas herramientas para esa gente. Nosotros los viniyoguis abordamos la respiración con una lucidez y coherencia que no se encuentra en otros lineajes (admito que no conzco de primera mano el método Iyengar. Lo aprecio como un método muy sano y coherente. Igual allí también dan a la respiración la importancia que merezca…). Las técnicas respiratorias son nuestras semillas. Vamos plantando semillas en las cabezas de estos yoguis sedientos. De que colores serán sus flores?
Como profes de Viniyoga, sabemos muy bien poner pautas respiratorias a posturas sencillas, dandolas el enfoque mental completo y absorbiente tán característico de una buena práctica de hatha yoga. Pausas (krama), retenciones (kumbhaka), y ritmos. Bandhas (cierres musculares), mudras (apretones), dristi (la mirada) y bhavana (enfoques mentales). Todas estas cosas aportan una dmiensión energética a la práctica, saciando a la más hambriente mente. Cuando las inquietudes mentales se suavizan, entonces, el alumno está prácticando yoga de verdad. Hemos relizado la meta, empleando las herramientas del método.
The guru is in you. Let us yog.
A fundamental tenet of Naturopathic Cure is the healing crisis.
The philosophy of naturopathy asserts that all symptoms of dis-ease are the body’s sincere efforts to rid itself of substances that offend it. These substances may be foreign (dust, chemicals residues, micro-organisms) or come from the body itself, thus endogenous (organic acids, hormone residue). When the body is strong enough to rid itself of the noxious substance, it mounts a defence and sends it out via the nearest elimination route. The routes of elimination are urine, feces, sweat, skin shedding, hair shedding, and pus/mucus.
What provokes a healing crisis?
Naturopathy aims to avoid healing crises. But, sometimes they are unavoidable. Some people have a high tendency to mount strong healing crises. With these people, we have to be careful that their therapy is gentle, keeping them as comfortable as possible. Other bodies need a good, hard shove, and can tolerate stronger therapeutic regimes. Magnesium is a strongly detoxing mineral whose administration can cause strong but bearable reactions such as muscle and joint pain, low grade fever, sweating and fatigue. Don’t worry, this is just your body doing its work! Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is also strongly detoxing, causing flushing through the skin, redness and heat.
Of course, healing crises can be provoked by other modalities. A good, strong chiropractic adjustment can certainly throw things off for a few days as the body adjust to its new position and the eyes and ears rebalance. A deep massage can also release acids left behind in tired muscles, leaving us achey and stiff for a day or two afterwards. Again, this is only healing and should not be taken as alarming.
Yoga is a long term ally in the restoration of good health. But, we do have to set goals and keep our practice current in order to really shift from one state to another. Lately, I have been working the post Eka Pada Rajakapotâsana . It is a powerful pose because not only do the hips and pelvis have to be fully opened and rotated, the spine is in full extension with the arms held above the head and grasping one foot behind.
I was able to enter the pose twice last weekend and it felt great. But, it left my hips rather raw. Not in a scary way, just in a “I know this is good for me, but…” kind of way. Well, today my little pelvis could take no more and sent me to bed for rest. I have had a day of classic healing crisis: fatigue, aching joints and sore muscles.
What to do about a healing crisis?
I cannot stress enough that you should avoid anti-inflammatory and analgesic medicines if at all possible. Let your body do its thing and your won’t prolong your suffering, nor send it deeper. All will be well within about 48 hours. And, of course, don’t ignore symptoms if they become more acute. Doctors are there for a reason.
Rest, take liquid, don’t worry. If you have plans, break all but the most essential. Be honest, people who don’t respect your need to rest and recovery are probably most in need of it themselves and will thank you for being brave enough to set the example. I am not saying “shirk off” by any means. I am a very reliable person who is not afraid to admit it when I need some downtime.
I wish you the very best health.
There is much talk of fire in most Yoga texts and teachings. Fire is one of the 5 elements, the others being Air, Water, Earth and Ether/Space. Fire is felt to transform matter from one state to another. Its sinuous flames remind us nearly of liquid, so despite its “hot” quality, it is also intimately associated with Water, Water being its equal and opposite.
The path of yoga is one of transformation. We learn new ways to move, think, breathe and be still, and thus we transform ourselves from one type of person into another. We are still ourselves, but we have changed, shed a skin or grown a new one. Thus, stoking the fire of transformation is of utmost importance.
In hatha yoga, we do this mainly through postures associated with the abdominal region. We also practise breathing techniques that emphasize the inhale and breath retention with lungs full. Other lineages may follow other methods, and these are all legitimate. You are always in control of your yoga practice, and are free to choose the branch of yoga that most satisfies your heart and soul.
This winter, I have learned to tend the hearth. I have never before lived in a house with a working fireplace, let alone relied upon it as my main heat source! But, I am open to change. I had call to be the sole firelighter for a period of nearly two weeks. I struggled mightily at first, sitting near it, blowing desperately on rapidly dwindling sticks and leaves and bits of paper. Once, I managed a roaring inferno on the first go, but most nights heard me cursing the whole rustic life and yearning to go back to the city and central heating.
But I persisted.
I discovered that the paper I use on my massage couch serves perfectly as a recycled firelighter. Light, and slightly oil-streaked, it takes immediately and burns hot. I learnt the value of the small bits of kindling that my partner lovingly chops, and how to tell if wood if green or dry. I am now a one-match woman. I can set and light a fire in about ten minutes, and tend it carefully for hours. I watch it and poke it and generally feel it to be a living presence in my home.
I think that our inner Fire is the same. It needs the right material to start it up, and the right material and rhythm to keep it burning brightly. We need to pay attention to it, feeding it more when it needs it, and leaving it to rest when it doesn´t. Cared for properly, our inner Fire helps us efficiently transform our food into healthy tissue and keeps us energetic and motivated.
Weak Fire leaves us sluggish, uninspired and waterlogged. We feel like we are walking in soaked through clothing. A Fire burning too brightly manifests in a flushed face, quick temper and impatience. Remember, a person may have imbalance of one Element in the physical body, while having a completely different Elemental layout in the realm of the Mind.
So, tend your Fire, dear souls.