Breathing to a quieter place

The word pranayama is comprised of the sanskrit words “prana” meaning breath or life force and “ayama” to length or expansion. This practice of controlled breathing helps the energy to flow more easily into the nadis or energy pathways and koshas (layers) of the body. The koshas can be visualised as the rings inside a tree trunk, where the outer layer is the physical body, moving inward to the energy (pranic) body, the thinking mind, inner wisdom and spirit. When we influence the flow of prana in the energy body through pranayama its effects penetrate every cell and fibre of our being.

When practicing pranayama, choose an environment that is clear, clean and free from distractions. Begin by observing your natural, spontaneous breath; breathing through the nostrils.  As you connect with your breath cycle, observe the four phases of the breath: the inhalation, retention, exhalation and suspension. Check there is no holding of breath or strain; that the pauses at the top and bottom of the breath are natural. The more you stay with your natural breath, the more the breath will deepen and lengthen without effort or force.

When we work with pranayama we are looking to cultivate two qualities: dirgha and sukshma. Dirgha means long and steady and sukshma means smooth and subtle. As we find the steadiness in breath, we find a steadiness in the mind, calming and quieting, soothing the nervous system. This in turn triggers a cascade of physiological changes: the heart rate slows down, blood pressure decreases and muscular tension is released.

We discover that changes in the prana maya kosha (energy body) affect the physical and mental bodies. When we find the steadiness, quietness and space within these outer layers, we open a doorway to the deeper and subtler aspects of self. Our inner wisdom, intuition,creativity and spirit move into our field of awareness as the ripples of disturbance subside.

Here is a simple pranayama practice. Enjoy!

 

In practice, I find patience and peace

The true heart – anahata chakra

Focus your awareness on the physical heart and its cavity. Although the physical heart only occupies a small space, the true heart is without limitations.
Try to feel the beating of your own heart. LONG PAUSE

Located in the middle of the chest is anahata chakra, the heart centre. The chakras are inner wheels of energy that control and distribute the energy around the body. Through the discipline of yoga (controlled breathing, sound and postures) we can balance these energy centres to awaken, release and harmonize the body.
The organs associated with Anahata are the lungs, the heart, and the entire cardiovascular system. These are the pumps and delivery systems of prana to the body’s many systems.
Nurturing the energy of the fourth chakra through breathing, meditation, and asana is vital to maintaining the body’s own healing power.

Anahata chakra is the centre of air.

Air is expansive and will expand into any space yet it is gentle and soft. Love is similar, being an expansion of the heart. Ideally, the heart chakra radiates love from a spring of solidly centered self-acceptance that reaches out with the compassion, care and support of others. Balance of our love of self and love for others and the interconnectedness of our spirits, is the fundamental message of this chakra.
Loving encompasses nurturing, caring, supporting, understanding, protecting among many other qualities.
When this chakra is open and balanced there is a genuine ability to give and to receive.
The anahata centre controls the sense of touch. This is not surprising, for the heart meridians run along the length of the arms into the hands. It is through our hands that we offer love in the form of comfort, a loving caress or a healing touch.

A wonderful practice for the heart centre is Hridaya Mudra (heart gesture).

Place the tips of index fingers to base of the thumbs and join the tips of middle and ring fingers to tips of thumbs. Little finger remains straight. Hands on knees, palms up.
Observe breath in the chest area.

If you enjoy sound, chant the mantra YAM three times in silence, 3 times aloud and 3 times in silence. Then observe the effect on body, mind and breath. Feel the effect on the whole system ; a feeling of harmony and deep peace.

Benefits : diverts flow of prana from the hands to the heart area, improving the vitality of the physical heart. The middle and ring fingers relate directly to the nadis connected with the heart, while the thumb closes the circuit and acts as an energizer, diverting the flow of prana from the hands to these nadis.
This mudra helps to release pent up emotion and unburden the heart. It may be useful during emotional conflict or crisis.

Namaste

More to come……………

Let your body sing……….

For a moment imagine the human body as a musical instrument, especially one of the Indian instruments like the Sitar or Sarangi, which have playing strings that are struck or bowed, and also have 40-odd strings which are never played but are sympathetic strings. When the playing strings are struck, they set up vibratory frequencies that begin to sound the finely tuned but un-struck sympathetic strings. These strings pick up the frequency and vibratory rates of the struck notes and begin to sound and create incredible overtones without being physically touched. It is this design that gives these instruments their unique and meditative sound.
The human organism has a similar design. In Yogic terms, we have the central pranic energy channel (shushmana) corresponding to the spinal column. To either side of it are the ida and pingala, the energies of the sun and moon. Think of these as the playing strings. These energy channels then connect with 72,000 nadis (energy channels) loosely corresponding to the nervous system, that extend throughout the body. Think of these as the sympathetic strings. Whatever we vibrate in shushmana begins to set up a sympathetic vibration in ida and pingala and throughout the nadis that transfer that vibration to all the cells of the body.
If we are conscious in our speech and what we are vibrating, we can choose mantra, harmonious communication, and musical sounds that elevate, heal, and balance us.

Hasta mudras – Varuna and Prana

Varuna Mudra:

Join: Tips of the thumb and little finger
Benefits: Balances the water content in the body and improves the blood circulation. The top ends of the thumb and the little finger are to be touched while keeping the other three fingers straight. Follow Varuna mudra with Prana mudra for added benefits.

Prana Mudra: Join: Tip of the thumb with ring and little fingers and keep other fingers erect.
Benefits: This mudra vitalises and invigorates the whole body. Improves the eye sight. Improves the healing power in the body. Good for people with leg pain, legs going to sleep and leg muscle pull.

Prana Mudra: This is recommended for overall good health. As the name suggests, this mudra helps optimal flow of the prana (vital energy) in the body. Practicing this mudra energizes and activates every cell of the body and thus helps in regulating the biochemical and physiological processes and induces youthfulness and alacrity.

This mudra enhances vitality and immune system of the body. It invigorates the defense mechanism of the body and thus increases its capacity to fight against dreaded diseases. Its regular practice is found quite effective in recovery against thyroid problems and several kinds of cancer. More the patient practices it, the greater would be the benefits.