Asana = Seat .
Asana is a posture that is designed to enhance the body flexibility, stimulate glands/ organs and body awarness. Asanas on a deeper level quiet the mind and prepare it for meditation.Asanas often apply accupressure on points that have certain effects on the body and the brain. ( more
Bandhas means Locks ; in Yoga its Energy Locks.
When a Bandha is applied : the Chakra on its place is activated automatically so that the Prana ( life force) is forced to flow correctly through it.
There are 5 bandhas:
Mula Bandha, or root lock is a applied by contracting the Perinum for men and the vaginal walls for woman .
Uddiyana Bandha or Diaphragm lock: the abdomen is drawn in and up and pulled towards the spine creating a cavity and massaging the heart.
Jalandhara Bandha or Cloud catching lock applied by bringing the chin to the chest and chest to chin.
Maha Bandha its the 3 above applied at the same time.
Brahma Bandha : is fixing once consciousness on God (so its on a subtle level)
Mula Bandha and Uddyiana Bandha are applied in most of the Asanas in ashtanga and Vinyasa flow practice
The Chakras are wheels of energy in the body (mainly 7 ones) positioned above each other from the bottom of the spine to the top of the head.
the 7 Chakras are as follows :
Muladhara chakra ( near the anal muscle), Swadhishtana chakra ( lower abdomen) Manipura chakra (high abdomen), Anahata chakra ( Chest center ), Vassudha chakra ( throat center), Ajana chakra(between the eyebrows) and Sahasrara chakra ( crown of the head).
Asana exercises are designed to clean up the chakras and clear up the Nadis ( tubes in the subtle body or aura), in order for the Kundalini power (see below) to rise from the Muladhara chakra to the Sahasrara chakra.
GU: darkness, ignorence
RU : who removes
GURU is a teacher that helps us attain self realization showing us the right way and leading us into it.
Unlike what people think, a Guru is not always an old Indian man preaching with a beard.
We shouldn't have preconceived ideas about how a Guru should live or act, and follow our instinct to know witch Guru is the right for us.
Swami Sivananda said "When the student is ready, the teacher appears"
We might decide to choose many ones, or a simple beinge that teaches us everything, a child we encounter, a pet we live with .
But the best Guru of all times is within us , its our higher consciousness that takes our awareness away from Maia's illusions, into a deeper state where only silence reside.
The Energy whether individualistic or universal has 3 qualities existing along with each other in equilibrium: Tamasic, Rajastic, Satvic.
All elements on this planet go through those 3 phases simultaneously eventhough defined as belonging to one of the categories.
(Hours of the day, Food, Personality, places, situations, actions..)
Tamasic : Dull, Lazy, low and negative energy, clouded reasoning..
Foodwise its : meat, alchool, tobacco, drugs, fermanted foods..
a tamasic time is usually in the afternoon .
Rajastic : Stimulation, passion, high energy..
Foodwise its : spices, coffe, tea, chocolate, herbs, fish, eggs..
A rajastic time is usually at noon
Sattvic : Calm, self centered, cleared mind, peaceful
Foodwise its : cereals, wholemeals, fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, sprouts..
A sattvic time is usually very early in the morning (5 am)
An incredibly powerful storehouse of psychic energy symbolized as a coiled, sleeping serpent at the base of the spine (" kundal" means Curl). Once awakened it uncoils and ascends through the spinal column (in the psychic channel shushumna) to the Sahasrara chakra ( crown chakra) at the top of the head, and triggers a trancsendant spiritual state. repeated experiences produce enlightement.
The word "mantra" has two components to it : man witch is the root sound of the mind, and tra, witch is the root sound of instrument. So the word mantra literally means an instrument of the mind.
Ancient " vedantists" examined the sounds in nature finding that they are the expression of the cosmic mind. The same vibrations are heard in nature and in animals, babies sometime do them spontaneously.
The whole universe is made up of vibrations : vibrations can move lands and provoke earthquakes or can calm and still : depending on their frequency.
Those vibrations are heard (within and out of one self) if the mind is quiet and if the listening is done with full awareness.
A mantra is a sound system put together and chanted that has a certain vibration affecting the body in a specific way : moving or stilling cells and mind.
Some mantras have the power to shift once energy into a positive one healing him/her mentally and physically.
Others are more calming and have a powerful affect on the mind focusing it .
Examples of mantras : So hum ( I am )
A Sutra is a Mantra that has a meaning ( see below for the full meaning of sutra)
Meditation cannot be taught : its rather a state once falls into that is similar to falling asleep.
It can only be directed.
The aim of meditation is the stilling of the mind or the detachement of it that neutralizes it.
Once has to find a comfortable position, start mentally regulating the breath, then allow the body to breath on its own and watch it, be fully present on the sounds around bringing the attention to the present moment. When the mind wanders watch the thoughts as they start arising and let them pass by without allowing them to have any effect. Remain in this state of detachment and presence until feeling in a place of total security and serenity : a state of meditation.
Its Very difficult to calm the mind and not let thought affect you that's why lots of meditations focus the mind on an image, a story or visualisation, a repeated mantra, a breath counting and so on..to entertain it and allow the " other " consciousness to reach that state of stillness.
Its a Gesture or position of the fingers in a certain way that allows the energy to go through, lock it in a certain way and guides its flow reflexing it to the brain.
(Pictures will be posted soon )
The Sanskrit word Namaste (pronounced Na-Ma-Stay) means the spirit in me honors the spirit in you.
Try this exercise : every time you meet a person or even make an eye contact with a human being say " Namaste" silently , acknowledging that she/he's a being of pure light as much as you are and see how you will start seeing the world in a different angle :)
OM or AUM
AUM is a "Bija mantra" ( seed Mantra) or a sound vibration usually chanted at the beginning and the end of a yoga class.
Its a 3 parts sound : "Ahhh" that blooms from the lower abdomen, "Ohhh" that vibrates in the middle abdomen, and the "mmmm" that resonates in the mouth between the lips and vibrates in the skull.
The meaning of "OM" is all what was, all what is ,and all what shall be .
Some people say that Om was the first sound heard while the creation: "Om" in arabic means mother or creation and is introduced in all the religious salutations as AMen , SalAM, ShalOM.
In sanskrit the curves in the letter OM represents the 4 stages of consciousness:
Jagrat : waking
Swapna : dreaming
Sushupti : deep sleep
Turya or Samadhi : a super conscious state.
It has a Very powerful affect on the mind : once has to repeat it a few times ( 10 or more) with a fully sound pronunciation and length in order to get "shortcutted" into a state of total joy and happiness.
PRANA AND APANA
Prana is the basic life force . Prana flows in the body in the air we breathe and the food we eat, assimilated effortlessly. Prana is an energy that starts in the middle of the abdomen and goes upward to the throat followed by Udana from the throat to the top of the head).So it goes through the upper chakras.
Apana is the force that descends downward : it starts in the middle of the abdomen and goes towards the base of the spine.
Apana is the eliminating energy stored in the lower chakras. When it is raised, and united with prana ( by breath retention and body contractions or locks), psychic heat is generated witch raises the kundalini through the chakras.
Breathing exercises aiming to channel and direct the flow of prana or life force and alter a conciousness and physical state.
Breathing in yoga is usually done abdomenly i.e expanding the abdomen on the inhale and contracting it on the exhale. Both from the nose lips sealed.
Breath of fire and Kahpalabathi :
This is a cleansing and energizing breath, powered by abdominal contractions. Pumping the air in and out of the longs with strong exhalations (the inhale comes without any effort automaticaly in between the strong exhales).
kahpalabathi is usually one breath per second,Breath of fire is 2 to 3 breath per second.
Bhastrika is a more powerful breath where both inhalation and exhalation are active and done with force: the inhale fills to the lungs then abdomen and exhale empties the abdomen then the lungs.
Alternate Nostril breathing (Anuloma viloma or Surya Beda) :
The body usually breathes on one nostril at a time and alternates unconsciously every 2 hours or so.
Breathing through the left nostril is tranquilizing while breathing through the right is energizing.There are many alternate nostril breathing combinations but all of them works on physically stimulating both nostrils at the same time (higher the oxygen assimilation). And subtally on stimulating Ida and Pingala Nadhis that awakens the shushumna in the middle that rises the Kundalini power.
Sitali and sitkari pranayam:
Breathing through the mouth with tongue curled upwards (sitkari) or for ward (sitali) its a cooling breath used to lower fevers down.
Whistle breath :
Inhaling and exhaling through a puckered mouth to produce a whistle : has a powerful affect on the consciousness.
Another whistle breath called Brahmari is inhaling through the nose producing a snoring sound and exhaling producing a humming sound.
Holding the breath in or out is a powerful tool in creating psychic heat.
Directions should be carefully followed as inward retention gives a very high energy while outward retention rises the fear of death and suffocation and helps once go over it.
Moorcha is inhaling deeply applying the 3 bandhas (locks ) retaining the breath until the point of fainting is expected then raise the head and exhale gently and slowly repeat a few times . Do the same but retaining the exhalations .
In Breath retentions
The inhale is called Puraka
The retain after inhalation is called Kumbaka
The retain after exhalation is called Bahya-Kumbaka
The exhale is called Rechaka
Long deep breathing or Samavritti pranayama
This is calming and produces a feeling of "being high" if done properly, slowly and long enough. Place the tongue on the top of the mouth (lips sealed) inhale as slowly and as much as you can allowing only a stream air to follow. And when you can no longer inhale exhale as slow as much.
On each inhale you fill the lower abdomen first then the lungs and on each exhale you empty the lower abdomen first then the lungs ( full abdominal breathing).Try to inhale and exhale for 5 to 8 seconds each.
The Ujjai breath is usually a MUST during the asana practice in Ashtanga and Vinyasa flow as it controls better the energy generated by the practice, regulates the breath and prevents fatigue .
The Ujjai is done by squeezing the throat ( so its passage gets narrowed) and is controlled by the diaphragm consciously. Inhalations and exhalations on equal duration .This breath enables the practitioner to maintain a rhythm to their
practice, take in enough oxygen to build a high level of energy, while clearing toxins out of the bodily system. This breath is especially important during transition into and out of the Asanas, as it increases presence and awareness taking the mind in a meditative estate.
Means the Same.The " same " in all of us : A pure state of bliss and joy.
In the ashtanga practice its the first and the last posture of the sun salutation vinyasa .
Technically its a "standing in a straight line" posture : legs together, heels and big toes touching, chest up, straight stand, head slightly lowered, gaze at the top of the nose.
The sutra is a mantra that has a meaning. Its an intention coded in a sound.
The word sutra is the root of suture meaning to join together by sewing.
Each sutra is linked ( stiched) to the other one by meaning and continuation.
The message in a sutra is simple and complex at the same time.
If I say : chitta vritti nirodaha ( the explanation of yoga in the yoga sutras of Patanjali ) it means yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
I would need 3 pages to explain that.
So the power of a sutra is that it contains within itself a 3 pages explanation.
Example of one of the yoga sutras ofPatanjali :
Heyam Gutam Ana`gatam : pain witch has not come is avoidable
The word Tantra has 2 components : tan which means to expand and tra which means instrument,
So Tantra literally means : instrument of the expansion of the consciousness.
Tantra then uses the prana or energy in order to get to the divine through
physical, psychic, emotional, energetical and spiritual practices .
The microcosm is the macrocosm for a tantric practicionner and every experience becomes mystical and divine.