Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jala Neti • Nasal Cleansing

Jala Neti • Nasal Cleansing

Most colds and viruses are breathed in through the nose. From there they work their way through our system to the throat, chest, and into the entire respiratory system. One of the most effective ways of stopping that cycle is to clean out the nasal passages. A neti pot and some lightly salted water can do the job quite thoroughly. Nasal cleansing exerts a profound physiological effect on the body and mind. On the physical level, irrigation of the nasal mucosaremoves accumulated mucus from the nostrils, associated passages and sinuses, allowing air to flow without obstruction. Regular practice of neti maintains healthy secretory drainage mechanisms of the entire ear, nose and throat area. This helps to ward off colds and coughs, hay fever, and tonsillitis. It builds up resistance to various diseases of the ears, eyes, and throat. Practicing neti promotes a balance between the right and left nostrils and consequently the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This induces a state of harmony and balance throughout the entire central nervous system, and the systems governing respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and excretory functions

Practice

Jala neti

Using a neti pot (illustration or a small cup with a spout, a small teapot or watering can will work), fill it with warm saline water. The salt should be just enough to taste. Stand squarely, legs apart, body weight evenly distributed between the two feet and lean forward. Tilt the head to the right side and place the neti pot nozzlein the left nostril. Open the mouth slightly and breathe through the mouth only. Keep the whole body relaxed and let the water pass out through the right nostril. When you have used the water, remain bending forward, center the head and let the water run out of the nose. close the right nostril with the finger and blow gently through the left nostril so that all the remaining water comes out. Repeat, passing the water through the right nostril.

Throughout the whole practice, keep breathing through the mouth and do not attempt to breathe through the nose. When blowing the nose, do not blow very hard, otherwise remaining water may be pushed into the ears. It is important to remove all the water after the practice so irritation of the sinuses and mucus membranes does not occur.

• Notice which nostril is blocked. Does it change from day to day? At different times during the day?

• After doing the neti, do you feel a sense of clarity?

• What happens to your hearing?

• Does food taste differently? What about your sense of smell?


Cleansing and Purification:: Meltdown

Nauli kriyas

If you look around you, you’ll notice what happens as we get older. The middle of the body begins to lose shape and collapse. Gravity is pulling us downward. Unless we are practicing some type of opposing technique, the whole solar plexus area, a major nerve center of the body, will become squashed. Not to mention the toxins that get trapped, the poor digestion that results, and thelack of oxygen to the abdominal region. Naulis, in conjunction with the bandhas, bring everything upward, inviting vitality back into the middle of the body. These techniques keep the gastro-intestinal or alimentary system balanced and functioning smoothly. Naulis massage the internal organs, acting as an internal cleansing technique. Keeping you pure and clean, naulis remove sluggishness of the stomach, intestines, and liver, bringing back upward the evercaving-in abdominal region which is crushing and suffocating internal organs as gravity pulls us down.Don’t let the fire go out. Keep the channels of the body pure and open the pathway for the oxygen to keep feeding the fire. It’s best to practice on an empty stomach in the morning.

Practice

Nauli

1. Stand with feet one and a half to two feet apart. Bend the knees and rest the palms of the hands just above the knees, thumbs on the inside of the thighs, fingers touching the outsides. Keep the head up and eyes open. Breathe deeply through the nose and exhale quickly through the mouth, slightly pursing the lips. Perform jalandhara bandha while maintaining full exhalation retention . Suck the abdomen and stomach in by performing uddiyana bandha. Hold. Then release uddiyana bandha, raise the head, stand up and inhale slowly. Repeat three times.

2. Practice as in #1, but this time after pulling the abdomen in with the exhale retention bounce the belly gently in and out, thereby massaging the internal organs. Repeat three times.

3. Rolling – stand with legs apart, knees slightly bent with hands on thighs. Exhale and perform uddiyana bandha. Contract sides of abdomen, isolating the central muscle. Then press on alternate hands to move the muscle from one side to the other.

4. Notice any weak or tender areas. Breathe into them and pull upward

5. What happens the more air you exhale? Do you feel a tighter inward contraction?

6. Do you feel dizzy? Imagine what happens as the toxins move out of your system

7. Try practicing uddiyana bandha during naulis. Notice how much more control you have with the air fully exhaled.

8. Now try mula bandha.

9. Practice naulis everyday for at least ten minutes.

Drishti (Eye Play)

Eye Play

The gaze is a focusing technique. By directing the gaze at specific points (the space just beyond the tip of the nose, betweenthe eyebrows) the focus is directed inward. This brings moreconcentration and awareness into the movement. Keep the gazesoft.

Practice

Drishti

1. Pay attention to your wandering eyes. What distracts you?

2. Try to control the urge to look toward something moving in the distance.

3. Gaze at the space just beyond the tip of your nose for one minute.

4. Does sound distract your eye gaze? Smell? Notice how your senses direct your focus.

5. At different times during the day focus your gaze at specific points (the space just beyond the tip of your nose, navel, a spot on the wall) and see what it takes to make you look away.

The nine looking places are called nava drishtis

1. Nasagrai - the space just beyond the tip of the nose. This is used most often and is the primary drishti in the sitting postures.

2. Ajña chakra - the space between the eyebrows (ex. Purvottanasana/intense east stretch)

3. Nabi chakra - navel center (ex . Adho Mukha Svanasana/downward dog)

4. Hastagrai - hand (ex. Trikonasana/ triangle)

5. Padhayoragrai - toes (ex. Savangasana/ shoulderstand)

6. Parshva - far to the right (ex. Supta Padangusthasana/reclining big toe posture)

7. Parshva - far to the left (ex. Marichyasana C/Marchi’s posture)

8. Angushtha ma dyai - thumbs (beginning of Suryanamaskara/sun salutation)

9. Úrdhva drishti ou antara drishti - up to the sky ( Virabhadrasana A/warrior)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Asanas


Asana is not a particular posture, but a state. Within the word asana itself are the connotations of strength and firmness, as well as the connotations of pleasantness and comfort. This is the balance we are trying to achieve, strength and flexibility, not only in the physical postures, but also in our mental state.

Take The Ambition Out Of It

Everybody is unique and their progression in yoga is going to look differently than the person next to them. It is important to allow the asanas to arise out of an internal place rather than some externally imposed idea of what the posture should look like. As long as you are working at your peak, combining breath, bandhas, and movement, and you are gaining that internal sense of stretching and strengthening, you are exactly where you needto be.

In the beginning, the physical aspects of the postures will affect you the most. In time, and as you progress, you will become more aware of the flow of prana, life force, moving through your body. As your practice evolves, these subtle, but deep movements will reawaken your awareness and control of your body, leaving you both relaxed and full of energy.

To Flex Is To Stretch

By flexing your quads you will notice your hamstrings get a deeper stretch. As you pull your abdominals inward and upward you can feel the lower back lengthening. Maintain a flexed contraction within the stretch by engaging the opposing muscles. Don’t sink into your knees or lock them. Always lift up the kneecap by flexing the quadriceps. Maintain awareness also of your elbows, shoulders, and wrists. The intention is to bring life energy into our bodies, for this we need awareness.

Some Tips

• Visualize yourself in the posture before moving into it. Some of our resistance is just a conditioned mental idea that we cannot do the posture. Change the mental idea.

• Never force it. Allow the breath to move you gradually deeper into the posture.

• Focus on the breath to bring lightness, ease, and fluidity into the movement. This is not about contorting your body into some frozen posture, there is always movement in the stillness.

• Be patient with yourself, notice that the more even your breath, the slower the breath, the easier the movement.

• Let the thoughts go by, notice them as just thoughts, and then let them go.

• Notice how persistent the mind can be.

• Feel the breath as an extension of the bandhas.

• What happens to your spine if you connect breath and bandhas as you move into a posture? And if you don’t?

• As you flex the front of your thigh (quadriceps), notice the extended stretch on the opposite side (hamstrings).

Fearasana

One of the greatest obstacles is fear. Go into the resistance, allow the body to open. S U R R E N D E R.

Prana


The Chakras

From bottom to top the 7 chakras:
1. Muladhara chakra - at the anus
2. Svadhishthana chakra - at the genitals
3. Manipura chakra - at the navel
4. Anahata chakra - at the heart
5. Vishuddha chakra - at the throat
6. Ajna chakra- between and behind the eyebrows
7. Sahasrara chakra - at the crown of the head

Prana is a subtle form of energy. Prana literally means “breathing forth” the universal life force. Through practicing asana and pranayama, prana is brought into and stored in the body, increasing vitality. Prana mainly flows through the body in the nadis, or nerve channels of the astral body. Prana exists as a negative energy as well as a positive energy. Prana moves upward and apana moves downward. When the two unite at the muladara chakra (base of spine) kundalini (dormant cosmic energy) is awakened. The most important nadi, or energy channel, (there are 72,000!) is the shushumna nadi which correlates to the spinal cord in the physical body. When kundalini is awakened it starts to move up the shushumna nadi, through the seven chakras toward higher states of consciousness. In ashtanga yoga there are three locks (bandhas) that are engaged throughout the practice to prevent the dissipation of, and direct the flow of prana in the body, and convert it into spiritual energy.

• Jalandhara bandha prevents prana from escaping the upper
body.
• Uddiyana bandha forces prana up the shushumna nadi.
• Mula bandha, when engaged, prevents apana escaping from the
lower body and draws it up to unite with prana.

The History of Ashtanga Yoga

Twenty years ago Ashtanga yoga was very much a fringe activity. Our small, dedicated group of students in Encinitas, California were mostly young, hippie typeswith little money and few material possessions. We did have one precious thing – Ashtanga practice, which we all knew was very powerful and deeply transformative. Practicing together created a unique and magical bond, a real sense of family. Over the years the Ashtanga family has grown considerably throughout the world and I’ve had the opportunity to share the practice with many wonderful people as both a student and teacher. In Austin, Texas I met Larry Schultz 15 years ago when
he was just beginning his Ashtanga practice with my teacher, Pattabhi Jois. Even though the practice was very challenging for him, Larry approached it with great enthusiasm, optimism, and
gratitude. He, like so many others, recognized immediately that this was exactly what he had been looking for and was very excited by both the practice and the people involved in it. Larry and I have become close friends over the years and together we have witnessed the profound positive impact the Ashtanga practice has had on hundreds of people’s lives, particularly our
own. We have developed many wonderful friendships within the Ashtanga family and feel truly blessed to be able to share the practice with others. Motivated by this desire to share the practice, Larry opened It’s Yoga in 1991, which has become one of the largest and most successful yoga schools in San Francisco. A problem that Larry and I have encountered over the years is how to keep beginning students going with the practice when they are unable to attend class due to work, travel, family, etc. For the past 5,000 years Ashtanga yoga has existed as an oral tradition, so when beginning students asked for a practice guide we would hand them a piece of paper with stick figures of the first series postures. Larry gave Bob Weir such a sheet of paper a couple of years ago, to which Bob responded, “You’ve got to be kidding. I need a manual.”
Thus began Larry’s process of creating this manual, which has now been completed with the help of several friends. Now, happily when beginning students ask for a practice guide we can offer
them this excellent, practical, and informative manual.

Tim Miller
Senior Teacher Ashtanga Yoga

As the story goes, the ashtanga yoga system was reconstructed from a mysterious manuscript written on a bundle of palm leaves, the Yoga Korunta. This collection of verses on hatha yoga was discovered in the 1930’s by yoga master and Sanskrit scholar Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and his disciple K. Pattabhi Jois while researching Sanskrit texts at a Calcutta university library. The manuscript is dated to be between 500 and 1,500 year old. Krishnamacharya and Jois translated and reconstructed the ashtanga yoga series (originally there were six sequences of postures) and Pattabhi Jois, with the encouragement of Krishnamacharya, took the instructions as the basis of his practice and teaching. He is still teaching this method today in Mysore, India at the age of 85. Ashtanga taught by Pattabhi Jois is a form of hatha yoga which focuses on asana (posture) and pranayama (breath control). Some
people call this ashtanga vinyasa yoga in order to distinguish between Patanjali’s eightfold system and the ashtanga yoga described in this manual.

as taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois