13 May 2016

more 2nd chakra

the beauty of swadhisthaana chakra is immense. It is a very visual chakra, & those "visions" can be quite halucinogenic. The colours of everything in nature, around us, are intense, & there is a very good reason for this: we are moving towards the awakening of the pranic "body" sheath, the pranamaya kosha. We are starting to sense the energy all around, the energy growing within us, & the energy of others'. We are not quite at the awakening of the pranamaya kosha, but it is dawning.

We have to do something for this awakening to take place, & the main things to do are: keeping physically busy so that we can sleep well & keep our growing energy moving, & doing pranayama (breathing techniques) that are specific to kundalini experience. The 2 main pranayamas are bhastrika & nadi shodan, or, alternate nostril breath. The bhastrika fires up our energetic system, nadi shodan balances 2 of the main energy systems in our being: the energy flows known as ida & pingala. Ida relates to, but is not, the parasympathetic nervous system. It is a quiet mental energy. Pingala is a more dynamic, energy & relates to the sympathetic nervous system. Ida is more like consciousness whilst pingala is more like matter, & in kundalini yoga, these 2 need to be separated, & flow harmoniously, side by side. They flow up each side of the spine from mooladhara chakra, ida starts flowing to the left, pingala to the right. They then weave together across the spine at swadhisthaana chakra, separate to swop sides, & go up to the next chakra. This continues until they get to ajna chakra, inside the head.

Why are they so important? When they build up in potency, and flow harmoniously together, yet apart, a 3rd energy, the spiritual energy, the mighty kundalini can be stimulated quite effortlessly. It is a natural occurrence, & it resides in the most important flow channel (nadi), called sushumna. Sushumna relates to, but is not, the central nervous system in the centre of the spine & in the brain. The central nervous system is also part of the brain & the chakras are not only in the front & back of the body, but also in sushumna & the brain/mind complex.

Where the ida & pingala nadis intersect in the spine, where the chakras are, these can be stimulated with bandhas, or energy locks. There are 3 main bandhas & they are quite different from the bandhas of vinyasa & ashtanga yoga. There is a root lock, or contraction, of mooladhara chakra, an abdominal lift at manipura chakra, & a throat seal at vishuddhi, the throat chakra. They can be done separately; all together on holding the breath out (maha bandha); or root lock & throat lock together on an inhaled retention. As you can imagine, they greatly stimulate the chakras & when breath retention is done with the bandhas, they release an lot of energy.

At Swadhisthaana chakra, a lot of energy needs to be built up, & I shall explain why in the next post.

9 May 2016

yoga flow

Yoga flow, or flow yoga, has become very popular over the past 10 years & more. But what exactly is it? In modern understanding, it's a flowing style of yoga, called vinyasa yoga, whereby one posture is connected to another, with emphasis on types of surya namaskara (sun salutes), in particular the surya namaskaras A & B, from the Ashtanga Yoga of Pattobhi Jois. So, these 2 surya namaskaras have been modified in many cases, with warrior poses, trikonasanas (triangle poses), planks, standing balances, arm balances, jumping forwards & backwards.....a whole moving scenario of hard poses, finishing often with bridge pose & cooling down leg, buttock, & twist, stretches. Sometimes abdominal work &/or back work is added.

When it's all done very vigorously, it's usually called hot yoga, because it is incredibly heating. And hard. Very athletic. When the yoga session is done a bit slower, it's more flow yoga, & when ujjayi pranayama is also used with the slower style, it becomes more meditative.

Frequently, the asana precision of Iyengar yoga is added, & the adjusting of the session to suit individual abilities, this brings in the teaching attitude of Desikachara. Jois, Iyengar, & Desikachara, were the three most famous names from the teachings of Krishnamacharya, a great yogi & teacher.

There is another style of yoga flow, from Kali Ray, the founder of Triyoga. She called her flow Prasara: flowing without thought, because all the yoga that she teaches, has flowed through her. It just manifested, Kali says, & includes over 1000 hasta mudras (hand gestures) as well as pranayama & meditation. It is a very systematic, meditative, slow moving form of yoga, & she calls many of her poses "flows". Many do actually flow between 2 poses, eg reverse plank to seated forward bend (paschimottanasana). Some are longer sequences that "flowed" out of her. Kali says that she 1st introduced yoga flow in a big way, at at a yoga conference, over 20 years ago.

For me, this is more of an authentic form of yoga flow. The yoga flows through, out of, a person. For most of us, this comes after much training in a system, which leads to a type of "unconscious" knowing of what, when, how, why, to teach yoga. It becomes part of one, whether one is teaching beginners or advanced, physical or spiritual. The knowledge, it too does just flow from a person, from their own accumulated years of practice, & knowing, instinctively, what will be best for a person. Posture sequences may manifest as one practices, or hand mudras, pranayama sequences, dharana (concentration) techniques. This is all quite different from someone who will try & make sequences from poses that they have learnt. Or, someone who reads then teaches what they have read. Quite different.

Yoga is most definitely both a scientific & a spiritual system. Even if we start with a scientific outlook, the spirituality within will want to flow out of us. Our spirit comes alive & we start to want to live yoga, to do, to our best ability, our best with truth, kindness, our spirit starts to show, & the yoga starts to flow, as a way of life, from within.