Sunday, March 23, 2014

Yoga Hygiene: Care of the Tongue

It is not generally known that tartar and decomposing material tend to collect on the root of the tongue and are often more responsible for foul breath than stomach conditions. Most persons do not know that the base of the tongue is often the place from where bad breath arises. So it is just as imperative to scrape the tongue well as to cleanse the teeth and the mouth. 

In diagnosis, it is an accepted medical fact that the condition of the tongue acts as an index of the state of health of the alimentary canal more truly than other external organs. It is held by the Yogins that the neglected and therefore, unhealthy tongue likewise reacts unfavourably on the alimentary canal. The yoga practice of Jihvamulasodhanam or the cleansing of the root of the tongue consists of reaching the back of the tongue, as far as one can, and thus removing with the finger-tips whatever mucus and phlegm deposits that may have accumulated there. 

The practice of brushing the tongue and the root of the tongue with an ordinary tooth-brush is really not as safe as it appears, because the hard bristles if thrust too far by oversight, may lead to an injury of the oropharynx, or can cause extreme gagging or sometimes may even hit the root of the mouth.

In this respect, the yoga method is comparatively more precise, simple and effective. It is practiced thus:
Practice of Jihvamulasodhana
or the cleansing of the root of the tongue.

  1. Join together the first three fingers known as the forefinger (Tarjani), the middle (Madhyama) and the ring finger (Anamika);
  2. Push them into the throat deep enough and rub well till the root of the tongue is cleansed. While washing thus, simultaneous efforts should also be made to throw out whatever phlegm and mucus (Kafa), that may have surrounded the cavity.
  3. After a minute or two of such cleansing, rub the tongue with butter very sparingly so that the scraping which is to follow may not lead to an irritation of the surface. Then hold the tongue scraper on the tongue pulling the same slowly downwards.           

That the practical Yogins should have realized the import and necessity of not only cleansing the surface but even the base and lower portion of the tongue most carefully twice every day, namely (i) early morning and (ii) before retiring to bed, when even the casual cleansing of the tongue was not so popular is really remarkable.
by Shri Yogendraji

Source: This text was originally written by Shri Yogendraji and posteriorly used at the monthly journal "Yoga & Total Health" issue of May 2011, edited and distributed by the Yoga Institute of Santracruz, Mumbai - India.

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You can learn this and many other techniques for the care of the body (kriyas), and experience an authentic Yogic lifestyle by attending our next Yoga Teacher Training Course in Thailand.

Namaste

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pranayama - By Shri Yogendraji

Pranayama is the controlling of Prana or the “life essence of the universe”.

A great deal of misunderstanding, however, seems to exist in relation to the various practices of this science. Some call it the Science of breath, while some call it the control of psychic Prana. But the truth is that it is both: physical as well as mental.

In Sanskrit, Prana literally means Life; it is also supposed to mean Breath. It is the sum total of all cosmic energy. It is the vital force in our body that moves us to action.“From thought to the lowest physical force, everything is but the manifestation of the Prana” (Swami Vivekananda). It is the “potential energy which remains constant, no matter what changes take place around us; it is eternal and infinite” (Tyndall, Fragments of Science).

This is what the Yogis know to be, as Cosmic Prana. This all-pervading cosmic energy, when it becomes limited in a certain body is called the individual Prana or the kinetic energy (finite) that manifests itself through the different functions of our organism. It is the same cosmic energy that the recent scientists try to control.

According to the Yogic psychological anatomy, there are five main Pranas and five minor Pranas, which have different duties to perform. The main ones are the chief nerve-currents that control certain vital organs. The minor Pranas are subordinates to the function of the higher ones, but they are independent of each other. They have also the corresponding relation with the cosmic energy. The main Pranas have a separate element and have different planes on which they chiefly operate. It is the control of this cosmic energy or Prana that is desired by the Yogis for the control of higher life.

Regulation of breath
Shri Yogendraji in suitable pose
for Pranayama practice.

Patanjali defines Pranayama as the stoppage of the inspiratory and expiratory movements. It is quite natural that, when the breath is active, the mind becomes active also. In sleep, when the mind is temporarily inactive and concentrated the number of respirations is generally reduced, so much so, that they are nearly half the number of the otherwise active condition.

It is true that the control of Prana requires steadiness of mind. The easiest way to control the Prana is to control the breathing process, because it is it’s chief activity.

The lungs are the most active part of our system that works automatically and unceasingly. It is the control over their motion, which is necessary for the control of vital energy. The essence of the techniques of Pranayama lie in the fact that if the breathing is controlled to the extend of having the capacity to stop it, if this can be done, the activity of the body is quite naturally controlled.

This article was published in Yoga & Total Health (August 1991) - the monthly magazine of The Yoga Institute.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Integrating Habits (Words of the Master)

We are often conscious of a certain habit pattern that has become a part of our life. We may, for example, be vaguely conscious of our habit of hurrying away with things, or our habit of procrastination, etc. We realize the consequences of some of these wrong habits. We even feebly, wish to change our habits, but unfortunately nothing much comes out of such wishes.

The question that troubles many of us is how to overcome what we have come to regard as a wrong habit. Obviously, the impulse to change a habit has to arise from the same personality structure that has all along nurtured the old habits.

In Yoga, therefore, we talk of the existence of both the Klista (afflictive) and Aklista (non-afflictive) Vritti (thought waves) in a particular state of mind. Nobler aspirations exist in the midst of ignoble traits. We must strengthen the nobler aspirations against the overpowering influence of the ignoble ones. No sooner we detect a desirable tendency growing within us, we should help to strengthen it. One should try to remain very aware of these happenings in our mind.

The inherent understanding about life and its purpose, that we all possess to a larger or smaller degree, is the very foundation for all improvement. With some, of course, the clarity is very poor. With others, there is much greater clarity. Once a good base of clarity or discrimination of the real, from the unreal, is available, one can go about identifying, the desirable tendencies more easily. The right thing for all of us will be, to continuously clarify our minds, about the way we live, and the satisfaction we gain by such living.

Sketch of Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra
President of The Yoga Institute of Santacruz

Those who do not study this aspect of their lives, or do not evaluate their progress, are very much like the ‘disappointed villager’. This villager, according to the story, went enthusiastically to witness a drama performance. On realizing that he was too early for the performance he preferred to spread his mat and rest for a while. However, in the process, he overslept and was shocked to find that, while he was asleep, the performance had already taken place.

This villager represents all of us, who come to this world to enjoy life and to understand it. Unfortunately we never come to grip with the issue, till the very end of our life – which happens to be the time of our departure.

Source:
From "Stray Thoughts on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" by Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, published by The Yoga Institute of Santacruz, Mumbai - India.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Selfish Attachment

Very many saffron robed Sanyasis (a Hindu ascetic) in India don their clothes with motives – unconnected with spiritual interests. Sometimes it is the gain of material objects, at other times success in an undertaking – mostly a selfish utilitarian goal. Whereas religion and spirituality command total disinterest towards worldly objects, these men are grounded in them all the time. We are not against truly pious men, disinterested in worldly gains. On the contrary the author believes that attaining such a state of simplicity and disinterestedness is the only solution to our modern problems. We want more and more of such highly evolved persons. Unfortunately the society is not moving in this direction, and instead pseudo-spiritualists are on the rampage.

There is an interesting story:

"At the edge of a forest, in a small village lived a Sadhu (hermit). Among his possessions he owned a beautiful mare. In fact the mare was so much admired by people all around, that there were offers of various kinds to purchase the animal. The Sadhu personally tended the pet, fed her green grass, took the mare to the river for bathing and for quenching her thirst. In fact the hermit was not prepared to trust the mare to anybody for fear of her being stolen. A strong attachment had grown in the mind of the hermit for the mare. He remained quite engrossed and anxious about her upkeep.

A 'Greedy Renunciate'
In a near-by village lived a man who developed a keen desire to possess this mare. Knowing full well that the hermit would not part with her on any consideration, he approached the hermit once as a loyal student who would look after the hermit and attend to all his needs. The hermit accepted the student and accepted all his services with the exception that he would not permit the newly found disciple to attend to the mare. Even though gradually the disciple won over great affection of the hermit, the latter would not trust the mare to him. The disciple realized for the first time, the difficulty in his mission to get possession of the mare.

However, once it so happened that the hermit fell sick. Strangely the hermit lay in his bed most of the time, but when it came to tending the mare he would himself get up and attend to the animal. The hermit’s sickness took a serious turn. He was one day unable to get up from his bed. That day he called the disciple and asked him to lead the mare to the river to quench her thirst. The disciple jumped at the opportunity. He led the mare to the gate and asked permission to place on her back his belongings since he was afraid to climb her. The hermit in a delirium agreed. The disciple mounted the mare and sped away. He finally succeeded."

Such deep-rooted is the attachment for worldly objects even in the so called hermits and men of God!

by Shri Yogendraji

Source: This article was published at the monthly journal "Yoga & Total Health" issue of June 2012, published and distributed by the Yoga Institute of Santracruz.

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So, perhaps it would be serviceable to post here a quotation from the Bhagavad Gita:
"A man of disciplined mind, who has his senses under control and who has neither attraction nor aversion for sense objects, attains tranquility, though he may be moving amidst objects of the senses" ~BG 2.64
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You can learn more about Yoga philosophy, techniques, and experience an authentic Yogic lifestyle by attending our next Yoga Teacher Training Course in Thailand.

Namaste

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Yoga Education - Part 2

How does one select the right type of Asanas?

The Yogi borrowed heavily from Nature because of his proximity to forests, mountains and caves. However he was judicious in his selection. He preferred to learn from the relaxed crocodile rather than from the rabbit or the inquisitive dog (although these postures are there in Yoga nowadays). He imitated certain birds, animals and natural objects. The selection of  postures (Asanas) was based on an overall approach to the physical, mental and moral well-being of an individual.

Methods

The Asana practices were carried on for a longer duration. This provided a chance for prolonged mental participation, synchronization and direction. Thinking precedes action and unless the mind is well under control, merely developing the body may later weaken it. The Yogis therefore took into account the psychological aspect of our personalities. The well-known physiologist Matveyev said: “The Yogis demonstrate pronounced endeavour to consciously direct the activity of certain organs, even of certain glands and internal secretions and maintain that they scored along the line.

Right and Wrong Directions

Talasana or Palm Tree Pose
Talasana or Palm Tree Pose
(focus on the synchronization of
breath and movement)
With the practice of the third step, the Asanas, we overcome unsteadiness, inertia and other impurities. We might even perfect the steadfastness (Siddhi) that involves the mind even further (Samapatti) but this is an exception. We must not aim at too many things at the start.  In fact, each step of the Eight-fold Path (Ashtanga) has only a certain strength to impart.

All that we should concern ourselves with, during the Asana practice, is imparting a wider meaning to our activity. The act of breathing is a good aid in holding our attention. Also directing our mind to different parts of the body. Synchronization of breathing with movements of the body during the practice of Asana in a fixed measure was introduced by Shri Yogendraji in 1917 and is now popular among many Yoga teachers and schools.

There is, in fact, much to learn from Asanas.  However, a practitioner must possess:

(i) a strong commitment,
(ii) a disciplined mind,
(iii) introversion and tranquility when one begins the Asana practice, and
(iv) synchronization of breathing.

If one has achieved the above conditions, one will succeed in uplifting one’s thoughts to a higher level of consciousness.

Steadiness

We have just discussed that steadiness is vital to the performance of an Asana. How do we achieve this steadiness? Secure the feet correctly, sit upright, have a good base (Sthirata), avoid hurry, agitation and speed. Cultivate solemnity, commitment, decisiveness, etc. To remain for a certain length of time without agitation is in itself an achievement.

The next step is the achievement of relaxation while carrying out conscious movements. You will ultimately reach a state of profundity or the so called “let go” sensation. Full composure and control is necessary. One must not collapse into a final position. One must consciously seek out areas of relaxation – some sensitive zones in the body.

Matsyasana or Fish Pose
Matsyasana or Fish Pose
(focus on relaxation through awareness of
the movements of the abdomen while breathing)

Relaxation

The state of relaxation is very valuable in therapy. Coordinated breathing aids in bringing the mind to this state. Otherwise, the chances are that the mind strays away from the Asana into other areas. You must lead your mind to areas such as the abdomen in Matsyasana (Fish Pose) and create the sensation of “let go”, or the chest in Talasana (Palm Tree Pose). This directing of attention and concentration on breathing will achieve a good deal of relaxation. These poses are many other Yogic techniques are very well examined during our Yoga Certification Course in Thailand.

When one works systematically one experiences a change in one’s thoughts, behavior, action etc. Usually these conditions come in a flash and are lost. There are usually so many external distractions and constraints that restrain a person from achieving relaxation.  In Yogic Asanas you are with yourself and can perfect these attitudes by self-training. In the end you can achieve a perennial state of stability (Ananta Samapatti). 

The postures you do every day need not be very difficult, but your attitude while doing the postures must be sustained. You should thus understand the deeper significance of the Yoga postural training: steadiness (Sthira) and contemplation on fixity (Anantasamapattibhyam).

Photos: taken on location - The Yoga Institute of Santacruz, India. Daniel Fonseca performs two simple, but effective, postures advocated by Shri Yogendraji for a daily course of Yoga postural training.

Source:
Excerpts of the book Yoga and Total Health in Schools - published by The Yoga Institute of Santacruz.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Yoga Education - Part 1

The ultimate purpose of pedagogy, the science of teaching, is the attainment of human maturity.  It is this that distinguishes this art from other disciplines, distinctly defining it in its own essence.  Maturity is obtained by different traditions of education all over the world.  Nowhere does it achieve greater results though, than, when the education process itself is studied objectively devoid of dogma.

Yoga, it has been established, has very specific educational functions.  It helps in achieving a higher state of consciousness on the evolutionary scale of individual development.  It is the discipline of the body and mind and in that sense it is education, because education leads to discipline.

Yoga a Science of Life

Yoga is as old as life itself.  In essence it is a specific way, a manner of living.  Basing its insights and discoveries on the observation of nature, Yoga imparts a certain quality to life.  Yoga, for example, tells us how to think, behave and grow to our fullest maturity.  It provides us with procedures that consistently help us in every area of our life.  Yoga can, thus, be defined as an ancient system of self-development that expedites one’s natural process of evolution.  This applies to all departments of one’s life with a special reference to the evolution of consciousness.

Experience & Yoga Education

Experience has proven to be the primary building block of learning.  The closeness of an experience to the personality helps in building newer traits.  These take root as against other kinds of learning that remain detached from the central core of our personality.  A deep sense of relaxation is consciously cultivated and this, in turn, fosters other worthwhile experiences.  What is stressed is the actual experience - as opposed to mere information or technique.  One may read about relaxation or listen to a physician’s instruction, but the condition remains distant in comparison to the actual experience, consciously induced.

Aims & Objectives

The aim behind the introduction of an experience-Yoga-based program is to foster self discipline, cultivate high ideals and appreciate higher values.  It also promotes a deeper understanding of Indian culture and a habituation to the Yogic way of life.  A variety of worthwhile experiences become the basis of learning at both the subconscious and conscious levels.  Some of these are related to better physical control of human organism and the maintenance of its steadiness and strength.  It establishes self-reliance, self- confidence; the cultivation of objectivity in emotional experiences and finally conditions oneself for greater receptiveness in the learning program.

All problems originate from a state of imbalance between our physical, mental and spiritual levels.  Our problems are closely related to our understanding of life and the patterns we choose to follow.  The more we cherish materialistic values, the more we expose ourselves to pain, suffering and problems.  The struggle for the satisfaction of our desires and ambitions is a continuous one, leaving us with no rest.  Our constantly over strained nerves make our bodies and minds restless and weak, opening doors to passion and emotion.

Perhaps the very first step towards a more fulfilling life would be, simply, the acceptance of life itself.  It involves a faith in life, but perhaps even more important, a surrender to a larger reality.  This acceptance does not imply a placid acquiescence of any aspects of modern living.  On the contrary with acceptance of life comes the acceptance of our duties and responsibilities in life.

Excerpt of a poster displayed at an exposition on Yoga Education, by
The Yoga Institute of Santacruz, Mumbai - India.

Activity & Attitude

The traditionalists in Yoga recommended the right combination feelings and attitudes with certain selected physical activities.  The physical activity is undoubtedly selected after deep consideration.  It proves incomplete without the proper attitude.  If the activity is the right kind and the attitude enriches one’s consciousness, then the entire exercise – is satisfying and elevating.

We see the reverse of this when a person struggles to succeed in Shavasana (Dead Body Pose) - or any other relaxation posture, or in a meditative pose - without having first created a passive attitude.  It is thus that, throughout the Yoga Teacher Training Course or any other workshop or workshop, activities and processes are carried out only after a certain 'conditioning' of preparation has been achieved.

The selection of Yoga processes and the correct performance of them along with the right state of mind all need to be attained.  We tend to sacrifice that total for the immediate and fragmentary.  Sometimes Yoga practices are carried out for their demonstrative value and at other times for attaining physical fitness.  In taking up Yoga in this partial manner one really does not gain much.

So in our next post, we will have an opportunity to examine how does one select the right type of asanas (postural training), or better saying, how do the ancient Yogis have selected the right type of exercising disciplines best suited for the students of self-culture and for naturally leading one to a more balance state of mind and to the habituation to a spiritual consciousness.

Source:
Excerpts of the book Yoga and Total Health in Schools - published by The Yoga Institute of Santacruz.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Yoga and Ayurveda food session with Jeenal Mehta

Dear friends, 

Namaste! Almost all my life I have eaten pure Ayurvedic food.

Being an Indian, born in a traditional family and also being a Yoga Teacher the Ayurvedic food suits my mind, body and my lifestyle.

It was a fortune that I have learnt so much with my mother. She is an extremely intelligent women and when it comes to eating healthy and having healthy ingredients on your kitchen shelves, she puts all her energy into it. The kitchen cupboards and the shelves of her kitchen are filled with hundreds of varieties of health foods.



So, in our Yoga Teacher Training Course in Thailand - at our center Wise Living Yoga Academy - I have set a perfect diet which is not only nutritious but also delicious.

In Yoga we call it as 'Sattvic Food', meaning pure food which is easy to digest, assimilate and eliminate. It does not leave toxins in your body. It helps in conservation of energy and makes a person feel buoyant and healthy.


The participants follow this special Yoga and Ayurveda diet for 4 weeks and the results on the body and mind are deeply positive. The students have a special session on Yoga diet and Ayurveda food and spices with me.

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Wise Living Yoga Academy is authorized to impart Yoga Teacher Training Courses on the tradition of The Yoga Institute of Santacruz in Mumbai, India – the world’s oldest organized Yoga Institution. The residential programs are held regularly in Bali (Indonesia), Chiang Mai (Thailand) & Minas Gerais (Brazil) throughout the year and are accredited by the Yoga Alliance USA, allowing the graduates to teach Yoga in any part of the world.

The 200 hours courses and the Advanced 300 & 500 hours Yoga Teacher Training Courses are conducted regularly in our new permanent Yoga Center in Doi Saket, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Please follow the links to know more about all the scheduled
Yoga Teacher Training Courses (YTTC)  in 2013 and 2014: