There are moments in the life of each of us, like the one we are living now, when nothing seems to work as it should, moments that come unexpectedly and go to undermine our serenity. With the thought that becomes gloomy, pessimistic about everything. Inevitably, it is inevitable to suppose that misfortune has raged against an “innocent victim”. But the reality, the great sages of history teach us, is another, nothing happens by chance, and since every event happens for some non-random reason, the wise mind reflects on why a situation occurred and tries to take advantage of it, taking advantage of the lesson and taking an important leap towards the path of personal growth.
It is not always easy, this is obvious, but once learned this attitude of “I let events happen and trust in heaven’s will“, each situation will become lighter to bear and clearer in its manifestation, even the apparently harshest one, like the one we have all been experiencing for weeks. It is clear that, however strong and determined our will maybe, what has to happen happens anyway, in one way or another.
Often such events occur in order to make people understand that the road that is being traveled is not the best one (like the blind race to appear, a pathology of which the human being is affected at this moment in his history), blocking channels and putting obstacles along this road to stop a race destined to a certain abyss.
The experience that the human species of the whole planet is living at this moment, is the scream of nature that is calling the human being, to tell him that life is not at all predictable and safe, that anything can happen at any time. The human being is called to become aware that our health is not certain, our financial situation is not safe.
What we can and must do, as a response to this unequivocal truth, is to define our reaction, this is in our hands. We can react in a positive way, or we can simply play the part of the “innocent victim”, waiting more or less passively for someone else to come and save us.
The wisest path for ourselves and for others is that of positivity, but this path is not just to say “everything will be fine”, remaining what we were until January 2020. NO, THIS IS NOT SUFFICIENT! this world event wants to teach us that contemporary man, despite the great technological progress, is not the controller of the planet but rather the controlled. Technological progress without the evolution of human consciousness is not able to make man’s existence healthy, peaceful, and in harmony with creation.
Although we exercise our bodies, we are careful with our diet, we work hard to earn adequate income and, without a doubt, we find some relationship with the Divine to give us some sense of protection and security. All these activities more or less explicitly demonstrate that we recognize or instinctively feel the insecurity of life.
No matter how much we try to control our future, no matter how much we do from a positive or negative point of view, despite all this, we have the feeling that life is not safe after all. The more we try to control the future, the less secure we feel. If we reflect sincerely, we must recognize that the more we try to control life, our insecurity grows rather than diminishes, united by a common emotion, fear.
Perhaps we should listen to nature, integrate with its rhythms, integrate instead of trying to appropriate it with the false illusion of controlling it. If we positively revise the conception of the man-created relationship, this will make things around us take place in a more harmonious way, without harshness and with greater well-being for all. It is time to revise our vision of things because, as we know, once this experience is over, by necessity, all of us will no longer be as we were before.
Yoga also helps us in this: it prepares us
physically and psychologically to face everyday life, even the hard
confrontation with our most superficial part, the one linked to the search for
a happiness that, even if achieved, turns out to be evanescent and not very
The identity principle of yoga is “union”. It represents the end but,
at the same time, also the means. In order to reach the realization of union,
yoga, if practiced in its entirety, guides us first towards the integration of
all our individuality, an individuality made up of body, energy, mind,
intelligence and soul, then to the final realization that man, integrated in
himself, is naturally in union with his fellow human beings.
The current emergency is clearly showing that
individualism makes us weak and dissociated, while union is a fact, human
beings are united, for better or for worse, by the laws of nature, even before
An inner confrontation that, potentially, each
of us can win and whose prize is the discovery of a world, the inner world,
made of communion with our own self, with others, with the universe and full of
that lasting peace, so far sought in the wrong direction.
us: “This world is your body. This
world is your school. This world is your silent teacher.”
Anxiety disorders, which include panic disorder, are the most common class of mental disorders present in the general population. The estimated lifetime prevalence of any anxiety disorder is over 15%, while the 12-month prevalence is more than 10%. One study estimated the annual cost of anxiety disorders in the United States only to be approximately $42.3 billion in the 1990s.
Specifically, panic disorder, whose key element is an increase in anxiety level, is also a common mental disorder with significant clinical manifestations and socioeconomic impacts. Panic is characterised by the repeated occurrence of discrete panic attacks that features a variety of physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, hyperventilation, perspiration, dizziness, dyspnea, trembling, and uncontrollable fear (fear of losing control and going crazy, fear of dying).
Between attacks, patients might also develop persistent apprehension or anticipatory anxiety, regarding the possibility of another attack. In addition, about one-half of these patients eventually develop agoraphobia.
The magnitude of the short-term societal costs of anxiety estimate in recent studies is surprising. Greenberg et al. estimated that the annual total societal costs of active anxiety disorders in North America alone over the decade of the 1990s exceeded $42 billion.
This estimate excludes the indirect costs of early-onset anxiety disorders through adverse life course outcomes (e.g., the documented effects of child–adolescent anxiety disorders in predicting low educational attainment and consequent long-term effects on lower-income) and through increased risk of other disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders predicting the subsequent onset of cardiovascular disorder). Therefore, it has become urgent the need for effective low-cost strategies that provide the right tools for patients to cope with anxiety themselves, in order to reduce the economic cost of mental disorder in society.
WHAT IS ANXIETY
Anxiety is an emotion that, in itself, would not be inadequate to feel because it is a necessary response to stress. Anxiety is a defensive mechanism aimed at anticipating the perception of danger even before it has clearly manifested itself, it sets in motion physiological mechanisms that lead to exploration, to identify the danger and address it in the most appropriate way.
In the course of daily life, situations that activate anxiety are frequent. In most cases, they resolve themselves positively. Overcoming these experiences, as a physiological phenomenon, represents a fundamental element in the development and maturation of the personality. If, however, we are unable to overcome positively (by deactivating the defence mechanism) a situation of real danger, that is, if the state of alarm does not correspond to a real danger to be faced, anxiety becomes an inadequate or unrealistic response, assuming the connotation of a real psychic disorder. Instead of representing an element of growth and maturation, it becomes an element of the disintegration of the personality.
Integration and adaptation to the external environment are regulated by the nervous system. The nervous system is similar to the hardware of a computer, like a computer, the nervous system analyzes data from outside and inside and then distributes information to various districts and apparatuses.
The functions of the nervous system are:
sensations about the internal and external environment
voluntary and involuntary activities
– Adjust and
control peripheral structures and equipment
THE ANXIOUS PERSON
Feeling anxious is
unpleasant. You feel like people different from everyone else, inadequate,
strange, those who suffer from anxiety try to hide it, often you are teased by
other people. The anxious person lives himself as a person different from
others, represses his fears by taking refuge in his loneliness, the
manifestation of this state is to restrain his breath.
The breath represents an access door, it is the connection between the inner world and the outer world. It represents a bridge between the heart and the brain, that is, between the deep, emotional part and the rational cerebral part. It is a key to access the labyrinths of the unconscious. In moments of anxiety and fear, as an act of protection, the breath becomes superficial (almost freezes), the body stiffens the muscles contract.
When the anxiety takes over, the breathing accelerates and increases the anxiety itself. There is an increase in oxygenation of the blood, too high a level of oxygen in the blood prevents the tissues from absorbing the oxygen they need. It seems a paradox, yet too high levels of oxygen in the blood, do not allow the tissues to receive the oxygen they need, while on the contrary, a higher level of carbon dioxide, would allow the oxygen to pass through the tissues.
The Study observed significant improvement in panic symptomatology following both the practice of yoga and the combination of yoga and psychotherapy.
Yoga acts on both
the outer and inner spheres of the human being. Yoga is able to recompose the
state of dispersion and tension, integrating all the systems: the bodily,
emotional and mental system. The ultimate goal of yoga is to sever the
connection with what causes suffering.
The yoga practice normally taught concerns the practice of technique. Yoga applied as a resolution of anxiety, on the other hand, must be oriented towards the individual rather than the technique. When we speak of an individual we mean an indivisible being made up of:
1- a material body
2- a functional
3- an emotional
4 – an
5- an existential
We move from the
material, visible, to the invisible, immaterial, thinner aspect
against anxiety is different from any other therapy. In conventional therapy it
1- The Therapist
2 -The Technique
3- The Patient
therapy, the person can be treated, consciously or unconsciously. With yoga it
is we who treat ourselves: the path is individual. The yoga teacher is not a
doctor who does everything for us.
The yoga teacher
only acts as a guide (this explains why it is not enough to bend well to be a
In yoga, each individual has to take responsibility. With yoga, we can only work with a conscious person who actively participates in their “treatment“. The essence of yoga applied as anti-anxiety is based on the use of the only function of the body that we can modify and experience with the will: breathing.
Pranayama, the yoga practice that uses breathing. But pranayama cannot be considered as a simple breathing exercise, it is a deliberately controlled breathing. It has as its purpose the control of the upper brain centres.
In the ancient
yoga text Hatha-Yoga Pradhipika cap.II v.2: “When the breath is irregular the mind is unstable, but when the breath
is quiet so is the mind”.
So learning to
breathe properly in a deep way helps our body to function better, helps our
mind to have more clarity and greater control over our emotions, especially
over emotional states such as stress and fear.
To be effective, yoga must be practised in its entirety. Integral yoga consists of both external practices, on the muscles, on the joints (Asana) and on the organs (Pranayama), on the mind (Meditation) that is.
In yoga what is really important is the inner aspect, to reduce the suffering of the person is necessary an inner workable remove the cause of anxiety, not a kind of temporary sedative that soothes the symptom. The whole of the practice of Asana, Pranayama and Yoganidra is what can lead to a new consciousness, to the awareness of being but also of power, of one’s own strength, an inner force that takes us beyond fear and anxiety.
relationship between breathing and mental states, for a yoga teacher it is
essential to know how pranayama works in the human being, even before knowing
the techniques of pranayama. Especially when dealing with anxious students, who
are becoming more and more frequent today.
Practising and knowing in-depth pranayama, for the yoga teacher, today is the ingredient to make a yoga lesson truly healthy.
Yoga is a patrimony, a treasure for the whole of humanity, within which is contained all that can serve to complete the path towards self-realisation, in the awareness of unity with the whole. However, in the process of the discovery of Yoga by the Western mentality, as often happens in the rational and consumerist approach, the meaning of the ancient discipline is being distorted, giving rise to a somewhat distorted and reductive use value of this powerful instrument .
Today “we do” Yoga to get better, to relax, to release tension and cope with the discomforts of an unbalanced life. There is no doubt that Yoga helps in this: ” It’s the least” that such an ancient and wise discipline can offer the fragile and disoriented contemporary human being. Most of the people who come into contact with Yoga today, profusely poured from gyms, spas, hotels, holiday villages and so on, see themselves offered a sort of pill, a symptomatic medicine to break down a fever coming from a much deeper unease.
Thus, Yoga becomes a soothing as another, like a good massage, a sauna, a morning run in a park. More over the proven effectiveness of the postures related to the practice of Yoga has meant that dozens of “new yoga” were born, with exotic and bizarre names, that have nothing to do with the sacred and ancient tradition born of passion, desire and dedication of millions of practitioners at all times. This is why I believe that Yoga should be restored to its original intent, to the spirit of those individuals, practitioners, masters who have strongly desired and wanted to forge a powerful research tool, which could give a concrete answer to man’s eternal questions. To ask questions about one’s own existence is a duty of every human being, and it is his full right to be able to make a free search to become aware of the truth of his being.
Hatha yoga is the most popular
aspect of yoga, but at the same time the most misunderstood. More and more
often mistakenly considered as a simple exercise of positions, not only by
adventurous practitioners but, above all by little or not qualified teachers.
Asana is a term that in yoga
indicates assuming a body posture. However, asanas are something more complex
than a simple position. Asanas being an integral part of yoga are not just a
physical exercise, but involve both physiological and psychological processes.
They are connected to all the other aspects of yoga: they are rooted in the
ethics of Yama – Nyama and have their purpose in spirituality (Samadhi). Yoga
uses the body to exercise and control the mind; in the most advanced stages,
the body and mind together harmonize with the soul.
The hatha-Yoga of which the Asanas
are the base, have purification as their primary objective. Purification means
the removal of what does not belong to the true reality of what we want to
purify. The whole yoga path consists in keeping our being free from all kinds
of impurities, physical, mental, emotional, intellectual.
The practice of Asanas, first of
all teaches us to communicate with the body.
Patanjali defines Asana as a
stable, comfortable and effortless position (Sthira-Sukham Asanam). Therefore
Asana is a position of the body but also a mental condition, a precise attitude
held during the practice.
The etymological root of
“Asana” is “ASA“,
ie: Where I Am Connected …
ASANA … means what helps to take
a stable and comfortable yoga position; it is the third aspect of Yoga,
according to the scientific scheme of Patanjali. Literally it means: Where I am … and in what state I am …
Speaking of Asanas, according to
Yoga, the body is only the starting point for accessing the individual. For any
type of activity, a position is required. Yoga defines the position of the body
in two ways:
1. Pavitra – It is that situation
in which the body takes a certain position that has to do with the outside
2. Asana – or Posture when we do
not carry out an external activity, through the use of arms and legs but, we
assume that posture to be able to start the “inner perceptions“. That is, when we do something that
concerns ourselves, inside. Asana is a physical posture but can also be a
If the body can assume a certain
position, the mind can also assume its positions and its attitudes; depending
on what we have to do, the mind is stable in a certain type of attitude, in
this case it is a mental asana.
The term Asana implies the concept of stability; strengthen the ability to be stable, practicing long and consistently. The guidelines have already been scientifically defined by Patanjali who represents the undisputed authority on the subject. Nothing needs to be invented in this regard.
Y.S. 2 °-46: “Sthira Sukham Asanam”
“What is stable (Sthira) and
comfortable (Sukham) is Asana”
When we talk about Asanas, in
relation to the body, it means that there is no effort at the cortical level
but there is an action that takes place at the level of the cerebellum (lower
or proprioceptive centers).
The posture thus practiced, allows
the mind to be involved in something else that in yoga is the conscious
experience of respiratory movements.
As long as it remains at the cortical (voluntary) level, there is
involvement and attention cannot transcend into universal or perceptive states.
THE ASANA OPERATE
The central nervous system uses its
lower centers of integration to
maintain posture and balance. These lower
centers are located in the medulla oblongata (varolio bridge), in the
cerebellum in the midbrain and in the ganglia. Numerous reflexes are integrated
by these lower centers, which operate
below the level of consciousness to maintain position. Postural reflexes occur
unintentionally following the stimulation of different proprioceptors and visceroceptors,
in the muscles, joints, tendons, under the soles of the feet. The rhythm of
muscle tone can be regulated by the lower
centers completely independently and with absolute efficiency, while the upper centers of the cortex do not
interfere in the least.
Every voluntary effort on the part
of the body and mind means activity on the part of the higher centers, which prevail over the lower centers of integration. This disturbs the normal activity of
the lower centers with regard to
postural reflexes, this is due to the fact that the motor impulses are
transmitted directly to the skeletal muscles.
When the learning of the asanas is
started, a little effort is required for the muscles, joints and tendons. Then
gradually, the maintenance time of the asanas is increased. During this phase
the will plays a dominant role on the lower
centers, it is engaged in the stretching of the muscles, in their
contraction, in the abdominal compression, also feeling some discomfort here
and there. Many people, since they consider the asanas of simple physical
exercises, practice them in the form of isometric and isotonic exercises. It is
obvious that, by changing the execution method, the results will be different.
Let us consider the isometric and
isotonic elements that are introduced in the practice of asanas, then later we
will deal with the mode of execution envisaged by the fathers of the classical
Voluntary efforts are made to reach
the final stage of an asana. The muscles and joints are activated and kept in
position for a certain time, in fact the maintenance of the asanas constitutes
the final stage. This prolonged contraction of the muscles is nothing more than
an isometric exercise. An active stretching of the muscles produces an active
contraction, as a result of the stretch reflex. The tension increases and this
increase is felt by the joints, tendons and muscles, if it exceeds a certain
limit, it causes discomfort and pain. All of this produces muscle fatigue and
even tremors. This isometric activity increases the commitment of circulation
and breathing, as the muscles’ need for oxygen is increased. Such an execution
acts above all on the superficial muscles, rather than on the deep ones and on
their nerves. Internal pressure changes and proprioceptive mechanisms (lower centers) hardly have time to
affect the nervous system.
Sometimes asanas are deliberately
practiced as isotonic exercises. In this type of execution the dynamic phase
predominates, and leaves no room for maintaining posture. This type of exercise
causes heating and profuse sweating, and excites the activity of the Sympathetic
Nervous System, produces cardiovascular exertion, waste of energy with
consequent fatigue of the whole body. It is easily understandable that such a
practice for an individual suffering from a permanent state of severe stress or
anxiety (a very common condition in contemporary society) not only does not
help but actually fuels these forms of disorders. However, if a subject is in a
state of hypotonicity and depression, active stretching and prolonged
contractions will develop tone and muscle strength, producing energy, activity
and enthusiasm in the person, thanks to the action on the Sympathetic Nervous
What happens instead when the
asanas are practiced in the right condition of muscle relaxation, or with
voluntary reduction of effort and absence of tension in the joints, muscles and
Attention is directed to the
breath, with a detached observer attitude (Sakshin), this attitude allows to
relax the body further, releasing the tension of voluntary efforts. The mind is
emptied of thoughts, in the absence of mental activity and voluntary efforts
there is no cortical activity (higher
centers) for the whole time of maintaining the position. The lower centers that regulate posture and
balance are free to act effectively, without interference, however, the type of
postural reflexes that are determined with the related stimuli depend on the
particular postural model, or on the specific asana performed.
We have seen that muscle tone is
the basis of posture and can be influenced by emotional states or the person’s
mental condition. When muscle tone is reduced, due to the passive stretching of
joints and muscles, a sedative and calming effect on the nerves results.
Emotions cannot manifest themselves in a pronounced way: in this way it is
possible to face one’s own emotional load, reducing emotional tensions and
relaxing more and more deeply. There is therefore the absence of internal
disorders (vikshepa) or conflicts (dvandva) and it is therefore possible to
eliminate states of physical or mental instability. In a relaxed and stable
posture, internal awareness not only calms the mind, but also conditions it
through the functional connection of the cerebellum-hypothalamus postural
reflex. Sympathetic activity is suspended while parasympathetic activity
restores stability to various levels. Now the body begins to “speak”
to the mind through various sensations that are perceived by proprioceptors and integrated
involuntarily by the lower centers.
This explains why, in the long run, we see the effect of such an execution on
the postural model of the subject.
According to the principles of
yoga, the most profound changes occur when the forces that hinder change
diminish. In the case of intrinsic balance, a deep level of internal support is
needed, this support exists and takes shape when any extraneous muscular effort
ceases to hinder it. The unconscious muscular effort we make to constantly
counteract the force of gravity requires a lot of energy. Consequently, when
this effort ceases, the experience is that of an energy that is released,
because of this we can define the intrinsic balance as a source of energy,
precisely because of the profound sensation of vitality that distinguishes it.
This explains why yoga asanas help to release the potential energy of the axial
skeleton by identifying and loosening the foreign muscular effort that hinders
the innermost and deeper forces.
Patanjali clearly indicates how the
practice of an asana should be conducted:
“The absence of effort
(Prayatna Shaithilya) leads the mind to orient itself (Samapatti) towards
(Bhyam) the infinite (Ananta)”.
In asana there is the concept of
being able to put oneself in “contact
with the infinite” but, if the being remains tied to the physical
experience, if it remains within the limits of the body, it will never be able
to transcend the state of awareness limited. The “Knowledge” comes
when one comes out of the dual game of “effort” and
“tension”, the mental state becomes more open and the thought more
global; with the absence of effort, the mind enters a state of emptiness.
“Then (Tato) the tension
(Dvandva) disappears (Anabhighatah).”
Speaking of Asanas, in relation to
the body, muscular tensions can be released only if one has the capacity to
abandon oneself and transcend.
2nd – 49: “Tasmin Sati
Svasa Prasvasa Yor Gati Vicchedah Pranayamah”
“Asana is reached, in a stable
and comfortable way (Tasmin Sati, comfortable for the body and for the
individual), one becomes aware of the movements of one’s breath (Svasa and
Prasvasa), of the energy (Prana) that produces the movement (Gati) and how this
energy acts within us.
H. P. 1 ° -17: “Sthairyamarogyam
“Asana is a factor that
contributes to achieving stability, health and lightness of the body”
The result of the state of
“Asana”, when we transcend it, is to be able to enter the
“awareness of the breath”
II-49: “Tasmin – sati
svasa – prasvasa – yor – gati – vicchedah pranayamah”
“You can proceed only if you
have the ability to experience” Svasa “and” Prasvasa
a) Svasa: the conscious
experience of the movements that follow the inspiration.
b) Prasvasa: the conscious
experience of the movements that follow the expiration.
As long as it remains at the
cortical (voluntary) level, there is involvement and attention cannot transcend
into universal or perceptive states.
During a physical exercise, the
mind is concentrated on something that happens outside while in
“Asana”, the mind must move inward.
It is essential for a yogi to know
“how” the mind must move inward, during a particular Asana.
For example: I could also put
myself in perfect Padmasana position and continue to chat happily: while the
body is in Asana, the mind is out of practice.
The concept of “asana” is linked to
that of “posture” which is completely different from the concept of “physical
exercise”. Maintaining a “posture” is the way that allows us to analyze
ourselves and remove from ourselves what disturbs us and does not allow us to
remain in balance.
This is why Patanjali tells us that
there are two ways of practicing Yoga:
1. Bahiranga Yoga: Literally means
2. Antaranga Yoga: Internalization of our faculties, Yoga facing inward
Given the person’s two abilities,
both to turn outwards: “Bahiranga”,
and to return to himself and remain in himself: “Antaranga”, it is fundamental for Yogis to know that they must set
their practice on these two aspects.
Working with the individual, as
Yoga asks of us, means “working with his conscience”, not only with the “physical
For yoga the greatest victory is
the victory over oneself, over one’s weaknesses, over one’s fears, over one’s
Two years ago, I was in Indonesia preparing to lead a yoga teacher training beginning in 72 hours. My phone rang. On the other end, I was told my sister had just died from a heroin overdose. Speechless and gutted, I pulled my arms in front of my chest. I dropped my head into my hands and felt paralysed.
From my previous experience with loss, I knew these actions were causing a “shaking in” of the trauma. The best thing to do in this situation is to run around, move the limbs and yell— “shake out” the trauma. However, we’ve been conditioned to intellectualise the sadness first. This makes navigating and unravelling the inner workings of our feelings difficult, yet an understanding of the Chakras can help. This knowledge was integral in helping me deal with the loss of my sister. I hope it can serve you in your own unique grieving process.
Grieving Through the Chakras
system of the chakras defines how we move. Grief affects each chakra
individually and the system as a whole. Each chakra (energy center) has its own purpose and
receives energy or information from the outside world. Chakras assimilate and
integrate this energy, combine it with their particular states and expresses this
combination back into the world.
1st chakra, Muldhara– stability and survival: Healing from loss and grief here comes through grounding practices. Silence and slow and methodical movements nurture it. Sink into the support of gravity.
garden, get your hands in the dirt.
2nd chakra, Svadisthana – fluidity and emotions:This chakra likes flow of all kinds. Nurture it by experiencing pleasure through all of the senses. Eat delicious and nourishing foods. Look at the beautiful blue sky. Flow in your yoga practice—combining breath and movement supports the relationship between the first and second chakras.
Pro tip: dance.
3rd chakra, Manipura –power and self-discipline: Nurture this chakra by caring for your first two chakras daily. Consistently roll out your yoga mat and move. This ignites the fire this chakra needs to thrive.
Pro tip: care
for your first two chakras, even when you don’t feel like it.
4thchakra, Anahata – breath: Grief affects
this chakra by making the breath shallow or causing it to be held. Heal here through deep breathing—especially
through the mouth in the early stages of grief. Notice how the body moves with
each inhale and each exhale. Let the space between the two begin to lengthen
Pro tip: match the rhythm of the breath with the rhythm of your heartbeat.
5th chakra, Vishuddha – creativity, speech, and listening: When grieving, listen to others share their stories of loss and heartache. Meet with people who can relate to your experience without judgement or sympathy, heard by people that understand that it’s your journey, your own healing timeline.
Pro tip: sing.
6th chakra, Ajna – perception of ourselves and others:We can easily
allow the perception of a loss to define us. Who are we once someone is gone?
Do we feel guilty moving on? Through experience, I know that the sixth chakra
will feel supported, if the time has been taken to care for the lower five
Pro tip: sit quietly with the eyes closed. Bring the gaze up to the space between the eyebrows and connect to your inner wisdom.
7th chakra, Svadisthana – connection and attachment:The healing journey
encompasses the attachment to our perceptions and the stories we tell
ourselves. Who are we if we are no longer that thing which defined us? Do your grounding
practice. Give the first chakra what it needs to build a foundation, then slowly
work your way up through the chakra system, to find answers.
Pro tip: practice stillness. Commit to one minute at a time, then slowly increase the time.
After my sister died, I found safety in my anger and brokenness. It served me until one day it didn’t. If I had rushed the healing process to suit someone else’s timeline, I wouldn’t feel as whole as I am beginning to feel right now. When grieving, take your time. Go through the process of nurturing your chakras, and the healing will find its way.
Denise Payne Teacher Training School in Bali One Song Yoga has been serving the yoga community as a registered school since 2009. Our guiding principles are steeped in yoga tradition and philosophy and offer bespoke teacher training to fit the growing needs of the expanding yoga community. www.denisepayneyoga.com
Praise of Yoga Gymnastic article by Paolo ProiettiTantra Yoga Teacher, books author-Rome, Italy
Yoga “gymnastics” will be the new tag from now on, to introduce all my classes, courses and seminaries.
has the merit of being simple and honest; nowadays there are hundreds of
different Yoga in the “spiritual market” and most of the time they run into
contradiction. That’s why I think it’s therefore right and proper to get back
to clarity and simplicity.
Yoga is the Art of Human Being; it’s the practical application of Sanatana Dharma teachings’ (the perpetual Indian Philosophy) and it has been turned into a desinence or a suffix that aims at attracting new potential consumers inside the lucrative market of spirituality.
The same happened in the ‘70s with the word Zen: everybody thought to do Zen meditation and they applied it to all sort of activities, from motorcycling to tennis, from theatre to writing. Today it’s Yoga turn.
This fact itself it’s not right or wrong; it’s just a fact, a social phenomenon that we can’t disregard. The consumer who embraces spiritual and holistic arts from the East will look for a particular Yoga, so the market will adapt itself to meet specific demands.
Ashtanga, Power or Acro Yoga will be chosen by someone who has a physical approach, otherwise somebody interested in Western gymnastics with low-impact exercises will find Yin Yoga, Mindful Yoga, Yoga Pilates (or Yogiaates) and Postural Yoga.
with a strong passion for philosophic issues, will be fascinated by Advaita
Vedanta (more often in the reinvented version of American psychologists), they
could also enjoy the Tibetan Yoga and other courses that introduce the word Meditation
in their package, another magic word from the Holistic business.
Then we have the Shamanic Yoga, the Yoga related to symbols, the Five Tibetans’ Yoga rites, the Laughter Yoga, and so on. A Yoga for everyone!!
As I already said before, I personally prefer the definition of “Yoga Gymnastics” (or Gymnosophy) because it’s clear, simple and honest.
During my lessons, we practice a series of physical exercises (gymnastics), positions, sequences, gestures and breathing techniques. We work on perception and the use of Subtle Energies. We study philosophical texts.
It’s the combination of these three components of our work that must or should lead to a series of physical, psychic and mental transformations.Therefore, Yoga Gym.
Then we can discuss between us, in private, about the singularity of Yoga, and we could also talk about the risks of this “spiritual market” and its adhesion. Yes, we speak of risks, because it may happen that many people practice (or even teach) Yoga without ever having read a Yoga Upanisad or an Agama.
They could pass off a simple psycho-physical exercise as an ancient traditional technique; an exercise that might be good for health and state of mind, but at the same time it’s similar to Yoga as the pin-pong is to hunting. This is the risk of inventing new disciplines with techniques and concepts mixed together to meet the taste of the public.
Look at the picture below:
The hippie man in his underwear it’s me in the 70s. It’s supposed to be in Capraia (a gorgeous Italian little Island) looking at the shape of those rocks. I was there during one of the “voluntary Yoga retreats” organised by a very large group, with manifold practitioners. There were some Babaji’s disciples, some “Orange”, a few Hare Krishna, some Sri Aurobindo followers and a group of people just returned from India.
We met periodically in the island, where we spent one or two weeks doing “gymnastics exercises”, meditation and mental visualisations. We also talked at night about the teachings of some masters, in front of the bonfire. The most knowledgeable showed us some readings written in English, that they brought from India, and we talked for hours about Sanatana Dharma, Vedas, Gods, demons and heroes.
Beliefs and opinions were different, but I remember that everybody knew and practiced the basic asanas, we all had precise ideas on chakras and we could sit for hours meditating in the lotus pose. We named it just Yoga and none of us would ever think to ask someone else “What kind of Yoga do you practice?”. Because Yoga is (or maybe it was) only one. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions
Let’s talk about Yoga Upanisad.
you ever heard of them? And if the answer is yes, have you ever studied one of
Upanisad are 108 and they are divided into 4 groups:
1) main upaniṣad
2) upaniṣad of
renunciation (or surrender upanisad)
3) Yoga upaniṣad
4) upaniṣad on
There are also other groups of religious nature in addition to them, but now we’re going to analyse the third group about Yoga Upanisad.
There are 20 upanisad (or 17 according to some commentators) and they describe the yogic path to Realisation. A very accurate and clear path, with gymnastics exercises, breathing techniques, mental visualisations and meditation.
These are always
and every single time the same and they are described with a simple language,
This language is not absolutely suitable for metaphorical or theological interpretations. Let me give you an example: Parama-Karuna-Devi
is an Hindu master of Italian origin and she made a translation of the 108
upanisad from which I’m going to transcribe some passages.
I really suggest my colleagues and the practitioners of thousands different styles of Yoga to read them. (The author does not use the transliteration of IAST, so for instance upanisad is UPANISHAD, Siva will be SHIVA and so on..)
Here you can read two verses from the Varaha Upanisad (composed between the 13th and 16th centuries CE) :
The (fundamental asanas are 11: Chakra, Padma, Kurma, Mayura, Kukkuta, Vira, Svastika, Bhadra, Simha, Mukta and Gomukha. (5.15 to 16)
It seems to be
clear enough, isn’t it?
According to the varāha upaniṣad, which forms an integral part of Yajurveda, the practitioner must know how to do at least 11 asanas, in order to undertake the path to realisation. They include the following poses:
gymnastics exercises, Yoga gymnastics, which are fundamental for a Yogin,
according to a traditional Indian text.
It must be said that upaniṣad are not manuals made for buskers or for exhibitions of gymnasts, but they are clear instructions to achieve the yogic path to Realisation.
Do you think varāha upaniṣad is an isolated case?
As if, difficult
poses as it’s considered the Peacock one (Mayurāsana) are believed to be basic
in almost all Yoga upanisad.
It explains that
what it was called to be Yoga, was a discipline made of fundamental poses,
without a doubt. Among these essential poses, there were (and there still are)
some movements quite complex, but they are part of gymnastics exercises.
Like for basketball or the boxe; have you ever heard of a basketball player who does not know how to dribble? Or a boxer who does not know how to throw punches? No, and the same is for Yoga.
As far as I could see and read, nowadays there aren’t a lot of people who know how to perform the bridge on their arms, the head stand or the Peacock pose. In many of these thousands types of Yoga, we could even hear that it is not necessary to learn how to do Padmāsana (the lotus pose), because it could be dangerous for the knees. Moreover, the Head Stand (the king of asanas) has become an optional, good only for performances.
So, the new tag “Yoga Gymnastics” is welcomed, considering that essential asanas poses of the upanisad are left to gymnasts.
But let’s read another passage from the Varāha Upaniṣad:
must be practiced repeatedly in the following order: inhale, hold the breath
and exhale. The main work of pranayama concerns nadis, the channels through
which the energies flow”. (5,18)
“The body of every human being is 96 fingers long. In
the middle of the body, two fingers above the anus and two fingers under the
genital organ, we can find the center of the body called Muladhara”. (5,19)
“Nine fingers above the genitals there is the core of
nadis that takes the shape of an oval; it is made of four fingers on each side,
surrounded by fat, meat, bones and blood. There is a nadi chakra in it with 10
rays, it supports the body and it’s where Kundali resides.
Kundali’s face covers up Brahmarandhra (the
“opening of Brahma”) on the channel called Sushumna. At the sides of
the Sushumna there are the nadis called Alambusa and Kuhu”. (5,20-23)
“The next two rays are Varuna and Yasasvini. On the
southern ray of Sushumna there is Pingala.
On the following two rays there are Pusha and
Payasvini, while on the west side of Sushumna there is the nadi called
“The following ray is Hastijihva, finally there is
these rays of the wheel, 10 nadis move 10 vayu in a clockwise direction from
left to right, and they are intersected in various points like filaments of a
fabric. They also have different colors (5,27-28) “
I think the message of the Yoga Upanisad, the practical handbooks of Yoga, is very clear: a yogin, to be a yogin, must be a gymnast and an inner alchemy expert at the same time. This doesn’t mean that psychic and mental well-being cannot be reached in another way; because one’s self could be realise in many manners.
But what it was
used to be called Yoga included the following activities: gymnastics, inner
alchemy, meditation and knowledge of traditional texts.
Today I’d like to
to call it Gymnosophy, or Yoga gymnastics. I’d really appreciate that my
colleagues and friends who teach Yoga and practitioners of disciplines with the
suffix (or “prefix”) Yoga will read the Yoga upanisad too, when they
have enough time.
In order to know what it was meant to be the word Yoga, since ten years ago. When it was considered to be necessary for meditation to tie the legs in the lotus pose while holding the back straight. As well as the head stand was not considered to be the evolution of an exhibitionist, but it was a technique to stimulate precise energy channels, to transform the perception of one’s body and of evident reality.
Greetings Paolo Proietti -Rome,Italy
Paolo Proietti is a Tantra Yoga teacher and books author. Paolo he has been practising yoga and oriental martial arts since 1974. Instructor of ASI / DOS (Discipline Holistic Health – Holistic Arts and Oriental). Member World M.Y.A. (World Movement for Yoga and Ayurveda), World MIFA (World Movement for Indian Fine Arts), E.Y.F. European Yoga Federation.