IS YOGA PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL OR RELIGIOUS? RECOUNTED BY EDDIE STERN

eddie-stern-milano-italia-ashtanga-yoga- scorrere giù per la versione in italiano -

Eddie Stern was in Milan this week-end and I couldn’t miss the chance to practice with him and to attend one of his lectures yesterday afternoon. The subject was Samkhya philosophy and what is yoga. Here a short story he related to answer the question ‘Is yoga physical, spiritual or religious?’:

Once, somebody asked Krishnamacharya: what are yogasanas for?

Krishnamacharya answered:

For those who have faith, asanas are done to realize the link between the individual self and the cosmic Self. Here comes into play the word yoga as union.

For those who do not believe in God, but believe in the individual self, then yoga is the union between that individual self and the mind.

Finally, for those who do not accept the individual self, yogasanas aid the union between self (body) and prana (vital force).

Hence, what is yoga? Yoga is religion, spirituality or physicality based on our own perspective on the Universe!

As clear as that…

 

E’ LO YOGA FISICO, SPIRITUALE O RELIGIOSO? RACCONTATO DA EDDIE STERN

 

Eddie Stern è a Milano questo fine settimana e ne ho approfittato per praticare con lui così come partecipare ad una delle sue ‘conferenze‘ ieri pomeriggio. L’argomento era la filosofia Samkhya e cos’è lo yoga. Di seguito una breve storia che Eddie ha raccontato per rispondere alla domanda ‘Lo yoga è fisico, spirituale o religioso?’:

Una volta qualcuno chiese a Krishnamacharya: a cosa servono le posture nello yoga?

Krishnamacharya rispose:

Per coloro che hanno fede, le posture vengono fatte per realizzare il link tra il sè individuale ed il Sè cosmico. Qui viene in gioco il termine yoga nel suo significato di ‘unione’.

Per coloro che non credono in Dio ma credono in un sè individuale, allora lo yoga è l’unione tra quel sè individuale e la mente.

Infine, per coloro che non accettano l’esistenza di un sè individuale, le posture aiutano l’unione tra il sè (corpo) e il prana (la forza vitale).

Quindi, cos’è lo yoga? Lo yoga è religione, spiritualità o pura fisicità a secondo della nostra visione dell’Universo.

Semplice…

 

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IN SEARCH OF MULA BANDHA

- scorrete giù per la versione in italiano -
 

mula-bandha-ashtanga-yoga-italia-milano-rosa-tagliafierro

Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between yoga and gymnastic?

Gymnastic, as well as sport in general, is a great way to keep fit though, whenever you try yoga, you can immediately perceive that there is something more, something that has to do with your overall energy in addition to body awareness and fitness.

So, what makes yoga so effective? Combination of asanas (postures) with breath and bandhas. The sanskrit word ‘bandha’ means ‘lock’, ‘bondage’, ‘foundation’ and there are 3+1 different locks:

a) Mula bandha, root lock;

b) Uddiyana bandha, rising or flying lock;

c) Jalandhara bandha, chin lock;

d) Maha bandha, which happens when all above 3 are engaged.

During asana practice, and especially when practicing ashtanga yoga, the first 2 bandhas are emphasized as well as ujjayi breathing (while jalandhara bandha and maha bandha are mainly used in pranayama). What are they? Let’s see Mula Bandha today.

In sanskrit, mula means ‘root’ and roots recall the image of a tree. Mula bandha is than the lock which happens at the base of our subtle tree, that is to say our spine which represents our nervous and energetic system. But, what is practically mula bandha?

By contracting the perineum the downward moving apana vayu is forced to go upward. Yogis call this mula bandha – HYP 3.62

mula_bandhaVery often mula bandha is explained as contraction of the anus, as often heard by Sharath or previously by Pattabhi Jois. Many other teachers, as well as the lineage from Bihar School of Yoga, considers mula bandha as the contraction of the perineum (that is the muscle between genitals and anus) for men and the contraction of the cervix for women.

I actually prefer the latest explanation as contraction of the anus is known as Aswini Mudra. Sometimes you might have even heard ‘mula bandha is like refraining the stimulus of peeing’, well it is not even the contraction of the genitals as that is known as Vajroli Mudra.

In fact, mula bandha is a point in the centre of the body, neither in the front nor in the back, where the energy flows when the contraction of the pelvic floor happens. Mastering it over time means to move from the physical body to the energetic body, finally it is said to happen only mentally.

According to Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP 3.65 – 3.69) the role of mula bandha is not only to refrain apana vayu (the descending prana or prana of elimination) from falling but also to encourage it to raise so that it can meet prana vayu (the ascending prana or prana of absorption) in the chest. This happens through the development of subtle heat in the ‘root’ area because of the contraction of the perineum/cervix which can ultimately awaken the potential of dormant kundalini and enlightenment be reached.

Are you wondering how long should mula bandha be kept for all that to happen?

Just as a snake enters its hole, so kundalini goes into brahma nadi. Therefore the yogi must always perform mula bandha. – HYP 3.69

Next blogposts will be about Uddiyana Bandha and Ujjayi breathing / pranayama. Click the follow button on the right-hand side to receive them directly in your inbox. Stay tuned!

 

 

ALLA RICERCA DEL MULA BANDHA

 

Vi siete mai chiesti qual è la differenza tra fare yoga e fare ginnastica?

Ginnastica, così come lo sport in generale, è un ottimo modo per restare in forma anche se nel momento in cui si inizia a praticare yoga, si percepisce immediatamente un qualcosa in più difficile da definire, qualcosa che ha a che fare con il nostro livello di energia in aggiunta alla consapevolezza del corpo e al sentirsi bene.

Allora, cosa rende lo yoga così efficace? La combinazione delle posture (asana) con il respiro e i bandha. La parola sanscrita ‘bandha’ significa ‘chiusura’, ‘sigillo’, ‘fondamenta’ ed esistono 3+1 di queste chiusure:

a) Mula bandha, sigillo della radice;

b) Uddiyana bandha, sigillo che fa volare;

c) Jalandhara bandha, sigillo del mento;

d) Maha bandha, avviene quando tutte e 3 le chiusure elencate prima sono attive.

Durante la pratica delle asana, e specialmente durante la pratica dell’ashtanga yoga, i primi 2 bandha vengono particolarmente enfatizzati così come il respiro ujjayi (mentre jalandhara bandha e maha bandha sono usati principalmente durante la pratica del pranayama). Cosa sono esattamente? Oggi vediamo il mula bandha.

In sanscrito, mula significa ‘radice’ il che richiama l’immagine di un albero, Il mula bandha, infatti, è quel sigillo, quella chiusura che avviene alla base del nostro albero energetico, ovvero la nostra colonna vertebrale che a livello sottile rappresenta il nostro sistema nervoso nonchè energetico. Ma cos’è praticamente il mula bandha?

Attraverso la contrazione del perineo l’apana vayu dal movimento discendente è costretto ad andare verso l’alto. Gli yogi chiamano questo mula bandha. – HYP 3.62

mula_bandhaMolto spesso il mula bandha è spiegato come la contrazione dell’ano, come spesso riportato anche da Sharath o precedentemente da Pattabhi Jois. Molti altri insegnanti, così come la Bihar School of Yoga, considerano il mula bandha come la contrazione del perineo (il muscolo compreso tra lo sfintere anale e i genitali) per gli uomini nonché la contrazione della cervice per le donne.

Io personalmente mi ritrovo maggiormente in quest’ultima spiegazione, in particolare perchè la contrazione dello sfintere anale è conosciuto in yoga come Ashwini Mudra.

Altre volte, invece, il mula bandha viene descritto come ‘trattenere la pipì’, ma non si tratta neanche della contrazione dei genitali dal momento che la stessa è conosciuta in yoga come Vajroli Mudra.

In effetti, il mula bandha è un punto al centro dell’area pelvica che non è né nel fronte né nel retro, un punto in cui l’energia fluisce quando la contrazione del pavimento pelvico avviene. Padroneggiare il mula bandha significa muoversi da un piano puramente fisico ad un piano energetico e alla fine si dice avvenire ad un livello puramente mentale.

Secondo l’Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP 3.65 – 3.69), il ruolo del mula bandha è duplice: frenare la discesa dell’apana vayu (il prana discendente o dell’eliminazione) nonchè incoraggiare lo stesso a risalire in modo da incontrare il prana vayu (il prana che risale o prana dell’assorbimento) all’interno del torace. Questo avviene attraverso il sottile sviluppo di calore ‘nell’area della radice’ grazie alla contrazione del perineo / della cervice, calore che può risvegliare il potenziale dormiente della kundalini e portare al raggiungimento dell’illuminazione.

Vi state chiedendo per quanto tempo occorre mantenere il mula bandha perchè ciò avvenga?

Allo stesso modo di un serpente che entra nella sua tana, così la kundalini entra nel brahma nadi. Pertanto lo yogi deve sempre mantenere attivo il mula bandha. – HYP 3.69

I prossimi blogpost tratteranno dell’Uddiyana Bandha e del respiro Ujjayi. Per riceverli direttamente nel vostro inbox, cliccate il bottone ‘follow’ in alto a destra. Stay tuned!

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5 TOP REMEDIES FOR BODY PAIN

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Ouch!

A hand glides on the yoga mat and your wrist goes off, you get off balance in sun salutation and your shoulder undergoes an uneven stretch or you are almost there in full lotus pose when you feel a pin in your knee… ouch!

At other times, you go to bed feeling perfectly well and the very moment you wake up something feels wrong or you’ve been grabbing a shoe on the floor and just while you’re coming up your back seems not to collaborate any longer.

As much as you may try to avoid or prevent it, on and off the mat, and for whatever reason, body pain can happen… unfortunately! Hence, what to do?

Hereafter my top 5 favourite remedies without recurring to allopathic medicines, in my preferred order:

 

1/ Take a rest with a castor oil bath which has helped me in recovering from body pain a few times now. Covering the body with castor oil helps to release all sorts of tensions, relaxes the muscles and mind, works in breaking up scar tissue, helps in recovering from body pains, cools you down, makes you more flexible and prevents injuries. How does that sounds? Click here for details on how to take a castor oil bath.

2/ Enjoy a massageaccording to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage acts to improve performance, reduce pain, prevent injury, encourage focus and shorten recovery time. As a result of the pressure, an increased and enhanced blood circulation follows helping to relieve muscle tension, reduce soreness and make for a faster recovery. As a consequence, the relaxed muscles can experience “an increase in range of motion and flexibility”. The effects of a massage, nonetheless, are not limited to the physiological side, they go far beyond producing benefits on the psychological side as well: stress, tension and anxiety are reduced while relaxation is promoted bringing an overall feeling of wellness. As a consequence, focus is improved.

Well, I would say there are good reasons to have a massage! :-) But, which one to choose? As an ashtanga practitioner, my favourite ones are rather energetic such as the deep tissue massage and the thai massage, which work on releasing specific knots and tensions for different muscle layers.

3/ Have a hot shower, before and after your yoga practice – The heat applied to muscles has a great effect: it releases them encouraging relaxation! So do not hesitate to take a hot shower before heading to the mat as well as after your practice, so to give a rest to fatigued muscles. In addition, the heat makes the healing process faster in case of injuries. How come? Any chemical reaction in our body is spurred by heat, so a hot shower increases for a while the rate of the chemical reaction happening in our muscles helping them to recover quicker.

4/ Treat yourself with proper foodthe way we eat has a direct effect on our body. There are foods that encourage inflammation in muscles and joints (i.e. highly processed food as well as food high in trans fat and sugar) which may lead over time to more pain, while there are other foods that prevent inflammation such as:

- flaxseeds. Very high in Omega 3, make sure to take them grounded so not they don’t pass straight through the digestive system without having the opportunity to assimilate all of their benefits;

- ghee. A kind of clarified butter which is considered very helpful in lubricating joints and keeping them healthy amongst all other benefits listed by ayurveda;

- nuts, vegetable oils, organic fresh vegetable, etc…

5/ Take a sea salt bath – Enough time for a bath? Fill your tub with hot water, add sea salt and than soak in it for about 20 minutes. Heat will help in relaxing the muscles while sea salt will help you in getting rid of toxins. Perfect if you match it with a detox diet.

 

Of course, undergoing one of the above-mentioned treatment once in a while will be a nice cuddle, nonetheless you won’t get the same benefits as undergoing a regular program. Try them all, choose the ones which resonate with you and make them part of your daily or weekly routine. As in your yoga practice, the benefits are cumulative, that is to say: the more regularly you do them, the more you will receive back. Think of it as a preventive maintenance :-)

 

Those are the methods that have been working for me. Which are yours? Please share in comments.

 

Read more:

MIRACLES A CASTOR OIL BATH CAN MAKE TO YOU

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DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE! 3 EVENTS FOR YOU

In Milan on these dates? We’d be delighted to have you with us! Only a few spots left.

– Scorrere giù per il flyer in italiano –

“DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE!”

3 events to deepen your Yoga practice and touch new inner spaces                  with Virginia Tucci and Rosa Tagliafierro:

April 5 –> Build the Foundations: Bandhas, Ujjay breath and Sun Salutions

May 10 –> The Art of Balance: Standing postures

June 7 –> In the Search of the Unknown: Backbendings


Pilates Shanti – Piazza dei Daini, 3 – Milan (Italy)

10h to 12h + optional 30′

Every session includes a bonus of 30 minutes with FREE attendance:

April 5 –> Yoga Nidra

May 10 –> Pranayama / breathing exercises

June 7 –> Chanting


Single event: 25 euros

Package of 3 events: 65 euros

All levels welcome!

 

Download the flyer here (Italian version): Esplora-nuovi-spazi-interiori

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Need more info? Do not hesitate to contact me!

Rosa    +39 342 7468210    rosa.tagliafierro@gmail.com

or

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HOW YOGA TRANSFORMS YOUR BODY

 

Recall your first yoga class.

You were feeling tense, physically stiff, emotionally rigid, lacking coordination and most likely kept gazing in awe to all others around you. Nonetheless, you tried your best and… you must have felt some benefits coming out of it in order to decide to keep it going :-) Well, I did. I still remember my first shavasana after the very first ashtanga class. I had not a drop of energy left and felt like melting into the mat, a feeling of utter abandonment that went far beyond the physical experience.

And if you have been practicing regularly for a while, you may already have experienced that the benefits of yoga play at different levels (physical, emotional and mental). Over the last two weeks, we saw the basic principles of health and wellness included in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the relationship in yoga philosophy between wellness and the law of karma. And something that still strikes me is that you can start experiencing the yoga benefits right away, starting from your very first class.

Just staying on the physical side, I found this article on how yoga transforms our bodies (from The Huffington Post) very interesting, as it links every quoted benefit to a specific study conducted over the last a few years. I know, as a practitioner we know the good yoga does to us, but reading of so many confirmations from different studies do pacify our inquiry mind :-)

 

Posted: 10/28/13 EDT  |  Updated: 03/05/14 EST

How Yoga Changes Your Body, Starting The Day You Begin (INFOGRAPHIC)

The Eastern practice of yoga has become a modern-day symbol of peace, serenity and well-being in the West. More than 20 million Americans practice yoga, according to the 2012 Yoga in America study, with practitioners spending more than $10 billion a year on yoga-related products and classes.

The mind-body practice is frequently touted for its ability to reduce stress and boost well-being, but it also offers wide-ranging physical health benefits that rival other forms of exercise. While the scientific research on yoga’s health benefits is still young, here’s what we know so far about its potential effects on the body. View the infographic below and scroll down for more detailed information.

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via huffingtonpost.com

Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post

 

After Class.

Improved Brain Function.
Just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga — an ancient form of the practice that emphasizes physical postures rather than flow or sequences — can improve cognitive function, boosting focus and working memory. In a University of Illinois study, participants performed significantly better on tests of brain functioning after yoga, as compared to their performance after 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.

Lower Stress Levels.
Yoga’s stress-busting powers may come from its ability to lessen the activity of proteins that are known to play a role in inflammation, according to a study published last year from University of California, Los Angeles researchers.

Alter Gene Expression.
A small Norwegian study suggested that yoga’s many healthy benefits might come from its ability to alter gene expression in immune cells.

Increased Flexibility.
A recent Colorado State University study found that Bikram yoga — a form of yoga in which a series of 26 postures are performed for 90 minutes in a heated room — is linked with increased shoulder, lower back and hamstring flexibility, as well as greater deadlift strength and decreased body fat, compared with a control group.

 

After A Few Months.

Lower Blood Pressure.
People with mild to moderate hypertension might benefit from a yoga practice, as a study from University of Pennsylvania researchers found that it could help to lower their blood pressure levels. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga had greater drops in blood pressure compared with those who participated in a walking/nutrition/weight counseling program.

Improved Lung Capacity.
A small 2000 Ball State University study found that practicing Hatha yoga for 15 weeks could significantly increase vital lung capacity, which is the maximum amount of air exhaled after taking a deep breath. Vital lung capacity is one of the components of lung capacity.

Improved Sexual Function.
A 2009 Harvard study published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that yoga could boost arousal, desire, orgasm and general sexual satisfaction for women. Yoga can also improve women’s sex lives by helping them to become more familiar with their own bodies, according to a review of studies published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, as reported by CNN.

Reduced Chronic Neck Pain.
A German study published in The Journal of Pain showed that four weeks of practicing Iyengar yoga (a type of Hatha yoga that stresses proper alignment and the use of props) is effective in reducing pain intensity in adults suffering from chronic neck pain.

Anxiety Relief.
A 2010 Boston University study showed that 12 weeks of yoga could help to reduce anxiety and increase gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels in the brain (low levels of GABA have been linked with depression and anxiety disorders).

Relief from Chronic Back Pain.
Researchers at West Virginia University found Iyengar Yoga to be more effective in reducing pain and improving mood than standard medical treatment among those with chronic lower back problems.

Steady Blood Sugar Levels in People with Diabetes.
Adding yoga to a typical diabetes care regimen could result in steady blood sugar levels, according to a 2011 Diabetes Care study. Reuters reported that just three months of yoga in addition to diabetes care resulted in a decrease in body mass index, as well as no increases in blood sugar levels.

Improved Sense of Balance.
Practicing an Iyengar yoga program designed for older adults was found to improve balance and help prevent falls in women over 65, according to a 2008 Temple University study.

 

After Years.

Stronger Bones.
A 2009 pilot study by Dr. Loren Fishman showed that practicing yoga could improve bone density among older adults.

“We did a bone mineral density (DEXA) scan, then we taught half of them the yoga, waited two years, and did another scan,” Fishman previously told The Huffington Post. “And not only did these people not lose bone, they gained bone. The ones who didn’t do the yoga lost a little bone, as you would expect.”

Healthy Weight.
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found an association between a regular yoga practice and decreased weight — or at least a maintained weight — among more than 15,000 healthy, middle-aged adults.

“Those practicing yoga who were overweight to start with lost about five pounds during the same time period those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds,” study researcher Alan Kristal, DPH, MPH, told WebMD.

Lower Risk Of Heart Disease.
As part of a healthy lifestyle, yoga may lower cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, according to Harvard Health Publications.

 

Want to get the links to the different studies? Read the article directly on The Huffington Post. Click here.

More interested in the principle of wellness included in yoga philosophy and Patanjali’s yoga sutras? Read the following recent articles:

PRINCIPLES OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN PATANJALI’S YOGA SUTRAS – GUEST BLOGPOST BY SUNIL SHARMA
YOGA PHILOSOPHY, THE LAW OF KARMA AND WELLNESS – GUEST BLOGPOST BY SUNIL SHARMA
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PRINCIPLES OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN PATANJALI’S YOGA SUTRAS – GUEST BLOGPOST BY SUNIL SHARMA

Patanjali talking about health and wellness in his Yoga Sutras about 2000 years ago. Surprising?

Patanjali-YogaLast week I hosted on my blog a guestpost by Sunil Sharma* – my yoga philosophy, pranayama, yoga nidra and meditation teacher at Tattvaa Yogashala in Rishikesh (India) – on ‘Yoga Philosophy, the Law of Karma and Wellness‘. That was the first extract of his talk at the National Seminar on Fitness and Wellness at Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education in Gwalior (India) on the topic of ‘Wellness and its view in Yoga Philosophy’. Hereafter the second one which focus on the principles of health and wellness in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

Again, for not Indian people, I believe some of the concepts can appear quite ‘strong‘ – at least they still are for me – notwithstanding Western science is validating more and more this ancient yoga teachings.

A careful observation of the Yoga Sutras will reveal to us various methods presented to purify one’s karma at a very subtle level and open the doors of heightened awareness, health and well-being. They are:

  • Abhyasa and Vairagya (PYS 1/12-16) –> Continuous practice and non-attachment

  • Ishvara pranidhana (PYS 1/23) –> Surrendering to the Divine

  • Omkara (PYS 1/27-30) –> Chanting of the syllable OM

  • Chitta prasadhana (PYS 1/33-39) –> Different methods to purify the mind

  • Kriya Yoga (PYS 2/1-2) –> Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaya (self-study) and again Ishvara pranidhana

  • Ashtanga Yoga (PYS 2/28) –> in Patanjali’s meaning, that is all 8 limbs of Yoga

The above-mentioned practices are supposed to bring mindfulness in action so that the chain of karma can be stopped and exhausted.

Modern mind/body medicine has come to the conclusion that all diseases are born out of faulty thinking processes and without altering the thought processes one cannot gain holistic health. Famous author and healer Louise L. Hay claims that all the chronic diseases can be cured by positive affirmations and forgiving and letting go hatred, resentment and stubborn attachments. She herself has cured her cancer by changing her faulty mental processes.

Plan and presentation of the Yoga Sutras is highly effective in the direction of correcting the psychological attitudes towards various life experiences. For example, if I’m involved in thoughts of anger and hatred, my body react simultaneously and my endocrinal secretions alter my body conditions. Hence, no matter how much physical exercise I perform, if I am not able to find out the root cause of anger and forgive, then I cannot reach to highest level of fitness and wellness. That’s why the Yoga Sutras emphasize the importance of Yamas and Niyamas before Asana and Pranayama practices. If my asana and pramayama practice is not supported by correct mental processes then the effects of my physical practice will not last for a long period of time. But If I bring non-violence and forgiveness in my life then I will definitely first help myself by correcting the endocrinal secretions.

If mind is flooded by negative thoughts then the Yoga Sutras offer a beautiful practice to counteract it, that is Pratipaksha bhavanam(PYS 2/33). Whenever a negative thought appears immediately offset it with a positive one so that the negative thought will not be able to get hold of body and mind.

Every moment in our life we encounter various stimulants which disturb the equilibrium at physical, mental and emotional level and in our daily life we have very limited opportunities to nullify the effect of those stimulants. Maharshi Patanjali claims in the Yoga Sutras that if one recites Om with feeling, it will result into turning of awareness inwards and various obstacles on the path of yoga – including psycho-somatic diseases – can be avoided.

Negative beliefs system and thought patterns are deeply sitting in our unconscious and just merely reading and understanding at intellectual level about philosophical aspects won’t result into correction of faulty thought patterns. Hence, only a persistent practice of above-mentioned practices combined with an attitude of dispassion can correct psychosomatic disorders and allow us to enjoy holistic health.

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*Sunil Sharma trained in Traditional and Scientific Yoga from Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla (India). He is Post Graduate in Psychology and has International Diploma in Guidance and Counseling from National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi. He has been teaching yoga at various levels in India and abroad since 2001. His areas of specialization are Asana, Pranayama, Yoga Philosophy, Meditation and Yogic Counseling.

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YOGA PHILOSOPHY, THE LAW OF KARMA AND WELLNESS – GUEST BLOGPOST BY SUNIL SHARMA

cartoneHave you ever wondered what is the yoga philosophy approach to health and disease?

Sunil Sharma* – my yoga philosophy, pranayama, yoga nidra and meditation teacher at Tattvaa Yogashala in Rishikesh (India) – was recently invited to speak at the National Seminar on Fitness and Wellness at Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education in Gwalior (India) on the topic of ‘Wellness and its view in Yoga Philosophy’. In the hereafter, a first extract from his talk focusing on the law of Karma.

For not Indian people, I believe some of the concepts may sound quite ‘extreme‘, at least they still sound like that to me. Nonetheless, on a milder side, let’s not forget Yama and Niyama – right living or ethical rules – are the first 2 pillars of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.

Thank you Sunil for sharing with us!

All Indian philosophies have some common characteristics despite of all their differences. One of them is the Law of Karma. All philosophies of India unanimously agree that we are product of our Karmas. Hence, one has to always keep an eye on its own karma and exhaust it in order to get liberation.

Yoga philosophy is based on the premise that all actions performed by the body, are first performed by the mind. So, if a disease arises in our body then it has its origin in our mind. Modern medicine has also accepted the fact that all diseases are psychosomatic. And if there is no attention paid on psychological processes (thoughts, feelings and actions) then no therapy will ever cure diseases.

Swami Shivananda puts the same idea in this way: “The diseases we suffer from the births we get here on earth are all products of actions done by us in previous times. Every action has its reaction and no action goes unrewarded in a suitable manner. Evil actions do not go without their bitter effects upon the doer. Here are given some of the many pitiable conditions of life which man has to live in due to his careless sinful deeds.”

Yoga philosophy offers a very clear methodology to cure psychosomatic disorder and achieve holistic health. All schools of yoga whether it is psychological types of yoga (Jnana, Bhakti and Karma Yoga) or psycho-physical types of yoga (Tantra, Mantra and Hatha Yoga) focus on systematic control of emotions and thought processes by the application of asana, pranayama, meditation, yoga nidra as well as control of diet and adherence to certain codes of conduct.

It is very interesting to note that in almost all spiritual discipline highest emphasis has been given on following the righteous way of living rather than living a life guided by reflexes and impulses.

In Bhagavad Gita its very clearly stated that “In the person who dwells upon objects, an attachment is born with reference to them. From attachment is born desire and from desire, anger is born. From anger comes delusion and from delusion comes the loss of memory. Because of the loss of memory, the mind becomes incapacitated, the person is destroyed.” (B.G. 2/62-63)

So one who wants to enjoy health and well-being has to keep an eye on reflexes and impulsive desires otherwise a vicious cycle will start which will not only ruin the physical health but may also cause psychological disorders.

Soon a second extract focusing on ‘Principles of health and wellness in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’. Don’t miss it, click the ‘follow’ button on the right-hand side to receive the new article directly in your mail inbox!

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*Sunil Sharma trained in Traditional and Scientific Yoga from Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla (India). He is Post Graduate in Psychology and has International Diploma in Guidance and Counseling from National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi. He has been teaching yoga at various levels in India and abroad since 2001. His areas of specialization are Asana, Pranayama, Yoga Philosophy, Meditation and Yogic Counseling.

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