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Yoga for Life

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Breath Holds the Key

I consider myself a Yoga student for life. To me, it is more than a physical practice or a keep-fit regimen; it is my connection to my innermost self. It is an experience and understanding of the nature and meaning of reality.

Healing of the body and mind comes first and foremost. It makes our ‘vessel’ strong. And, as we continue our connection with Yoga, the true depth of our practices begins to reveal itself. Yoga has been a constant in my life, from a very young age. My earliest memories of Yoga are of my Mother teaching me the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) .... I have to admit that I baulked at it then and did it because she-told-me-so! Yoga came to me in its truest sense at a time when my life was at its lowest ebb ~ a true teacher, it put me together piece by piece and healed my mind, body and spirit in ways that I never imagined.

The more I make Yoga a part of my life, the more it takes me inwards in an exploration of the depths of my Being. No matter what is going on in my life, I love knowing that Yoga is there. Not just the Yoga that takes place on the mat, but also the Yoga that happens in the ordinary, everyday moments of my life. When my anxiety kicks in or I find myself feeling rushed on my way to accomplish a task at hand, I often pause what I am doing, inhale deeply, and say (sometimes aloud): And now, the practice of yoga begins.

Yoga is, now, just part of who I am. I like to think that I have a little Yoga seed that is in me and in everything I do. If I am standing in line at a grocery store, feeling impatient, I will stand tall, breathe and connect with that breath. It is amazing how quickly your perspective changes once you remember that you are alive and breathing in a beautiful world.

In the words of Patanjali, the Father of Modern Yoga, “Yogas-Chitta-Vrutti-Nirodhah” ~ Simply put, it means that the cessation of fluctuations of the mind is Yoga. And how do we accomplish that? Conscious breathing is a simple and easy tool.

Conscious breathing is really the fourth of the Eight Limbs of Yoga that Patanjali describes. However, I am starting my series here since I have realized that most of our mind-body issues arise from lack of awareness of breath. 

Loosely translated as “Breath Control”, Pranayama really means ‘extending the life force energy’. (Prana = Breath or Life Force or Vital Energy; Ayama = to draw out or extend). 

Think about this ~ just fifteen minutes of conscious breathing each day, can work wonders. And when this becomes an integral part of our daily regimen, the practice could extend beyond that. Let the mind, body and spirit take the lead! We do so much for others, placing them before ourselves all the time. This is the least that we can commit ~ to and for ourselves, wouldn't you agree?

 

 

Kapalbhati (Passive Inhalations, Active Exhalations)

Sit comfortably in any meditative posture with your spine erect. Exhale through both nostrils, contracting the middle and lower abdomen portions. Release the contractions quickly and immediately follow with another forceful exhalation . Inhale passively and effortlessly. Gradually increase the frequency to about 100 strokes/minute. After the round take a deep breath and gradually exhale.

 

What good can this do?

  • Cleans capillaries of the remotest part of the body.
  • Purifies the frontal portion of the brain.
  • Aid in combating asthma, diabetes, and chronic bronchitis besides other 
  • Cleans the nasal passages.

 

 

Bhramari (Humming Bee)

Sit comfortably in any meditative posture. Sit erect. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose. Let the inhalation caress the throat area. Then gently plug the ears with the respective thumbs and gently place the middle and ring fingers and the pinkie over your eyes, with the two index fingers on your “third eye”. Inhale deep. Exhale slowly producing a long and continuous humming sound. Enjoy the sound and vibrations produced during these breathing techniques.

 

What good can this do?

  • Promotes a clear voice and is recommended for singers.
  • Reduces blood pressure and promotes better sleep.
  • Makes an impact on the mind, producing peace and joy.

 

 

 

Nadi Shudhi (Balancing the two lobes of the brain and cleansing the meridians in the body)

Sit comfortably in any meditative posture. Sit erect. Be calm and close your eyes. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Now inhale slowly through the left nostril and fill your lungs. After complete inhalation, press the left nostril with the ring finger of the right hand and close the left nostril. Hold your breath for a few seconds. Open the right nostril, exhale slowly. After complete exhalation, this time inhale through the right nostril and fill your lungs. Close the right nostril by pressing it with the right thumb. Hold your breath for a few seconds. Release the left nostril and slowly exhale. This process is one round of Cleanses and tones up entire nervous system.

 

What good can this do?

  • People suffering from cough and cold benefit greatly.
  • Blocked nostrils are cleared.
  • Removes mental tension and worries.

 

 

Bhastrika (The Bellows)

Sit comfortably with your spine erect. Bend your arms at the elbow, making loose fists with both hands. Your fists are positioned on either side of your shoulders. As you take a quick, deep breath in, raise both arms toward the ceiling and open out your fingers. Exhale forcefully, bend your elbows and bring back your arms to the original position with loose fists on either side of your shoulders. Repeat the process about 15 times. Relax your arms and rest. Breathe normally. Repeat the process. 

 

What good can this do?

  • Very good for the respiratory system including the diaphragm and the bronchial 
  • Improves function of digestive organs.
  • Helps reducing excess fat in the abdominal region.

 

 

Stay healthy, in Mind, Body and Spirit!

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About the Author : I was introduced to yoga as a child, by my mother, who I consider my first Yoga Guru.  Always drawn to yoga, spirituality and the holistic sciences, I took my first Reiki certification course 22 years ago and have remained a student of spirituality, holistic and metaphysical sciences, ever since.  I consider myself fortunate that I have a life partner who shares my passions;  together, we have participated in several workshops on  modalities such as Tachyon, Theta Healing, AyurYoga and several other techniques that we enjoy integrating into our healing practices.  I consider Yoga and Yoga Therapy an integral part of my life and am devoted to furthering my understanding of this vast treasury of wealth that we have inherited from our ancestors, implementing it in my life and sharing it with others around me.  I received my first yoga teacher certification about a decade ago and am currently steeped in yoga study courses with a view to deepen my knowledge and hone my personal practice.

About the Column :  I enjoy the informative articles on B'Khush and do look forward to sharing my thoughts and understanding of yoga and the holistic sciences through my column, with other readers and followers.

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Chhaan!

Hi Avanti, Your uplifting article reinforced my own conviction that one must not "do yoga " but at all times "be in yoga"....do keep sharing your wisdom..

Love, Mona Vijaykar

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