Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October Monthly Theme: Ahimsa

In the Yoga Sutras, Pantanjali outlines an 8 limbed path known as, Ashtanga Yoga. This is the means he gives as the way to follow the path of yoga. The first limb is known as Yama or translated as restraint. There are 5 Yamas and they are:

1.) Ahimsa:non-violence

2.) Satya: Truthfulness

3.) Asteya: non-stealing

4.) Brahmacharya: continence

5.) Aparigraha: non-greed

Ahimsa, often translated as non-violence, is the highest of all virtues involved in the science of yoga. It is said that if one can perfect the practice of ahimsa, one need learn no other practice of yoga, for all the other practices are subsumed in it. We must restrain ourselves from non-violence in thought, word, and deed. It means causing no harm or discomfort to any living being, any creature that has eyes, a beating heart, and breath. The practice of Ahimsa develops pure, unconditional and universal love. The ability to place our selves in others is essential, thus how can we hurt others? As a Yogi, it is essential to develop the attitude of Ahimsa.

ahimsa pratisthayam tat sannidhau vaira tyagah II:35.

For the one who is firmly established in non-violence all hostility ceases in the presence of that one.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Monthly Theme: Pranayama

The September theme of the month is the 4th Limb of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga—Pranayama.

Prana is the vital force that animates the body, enlivening it with motion, intelligence, radiance, transformation and artistry. Though closely associated with the air we breathe in, Prana is subtler than air. Rather, air is the medium through which we absorb Prana into our being. This Prana is introduced into our being through breath, and upon entering our being it courses through invisible channels called nadis ( a concept similar to the Chinese meridians), that crisscross our being. The science of Yoga informs us that we human beings possess 72,000 nadis.

Pranayama is the science of breath control. Breath is intricately connected to the mind and emotions. When one is calm the breath is deep and slow. When one is tense, anxious, angry or fearful the breath is either, held, irregular, short or difficult. Therefore by changing your breathing pattern you can regulate your emotions and feel calm. Careful regulation of Prana, through a series of spiritually determined and scientifically validated sequences of inhalation, exhalation, and retention, maximizes Prana absorption, retention and application in healing the body and mind.

Some of the Pranyama techniques outlined in The Hatha Yoga Pradipika that you can expect to do this month are: Kappalabhat (shining forehead), Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing), Ujjayi (victory breath), Surya Bhedana (sun piercing), Chandra Bhedana (moon piercing), Sitali (cooling), and Bhramari (black bee.)