Yoga and Ayurveda

 

 

Vata is the carrier, and the colon is its main site in the disease process. When Vata accumulates, it spreads to the blood, bones and other parts of the body. Vata acts primarily through the nervous system through which it flows like an electric current. Yoga therapy can help to calm, center and relax the body. You can do this through a slow asana practice, and keep the breath deep with emphasis on the inhalation. Pitta pushes or provokes, and the small intestine is its main site in the disease process, in which excess acids or toxic pitta accumulates and spreads through the blood to different parts of the body. Pitta acts primarily through the digestive system and the blood as the body’s primary thermogenic power. Yoga therapy can help to chill and relax the body. You can do this by surrendering to your asana practice and keeping the breath relaxed and exhaling through the mouth to relieve heat as needed. Kapha strengthens or resist, and the stomach is its main site in the disease process in which excess mucus accumulates and spread through the blood and lymph to different parts of the body. Kapha primarily acts through the plasma or lymphatic system as underlying nutrient solution making up the bulk of the body and providing nourishment to all the tissues. Yoga therapy can help to lighten the body and movement. You can do this through an active vinyasa practice, taking deep breaths with an intention for your overall practice to be with effort.

Introduction

Ayurvedic medicine practiced as an ancient healing system used in India and worldwide. The theory of Ayurveda is based on balancing the individual’s three constitutional doshas (i.e., Pitta, Vata, Kapha). Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors are considered such as indiscriminate diet, undesirable habits, not observing rules of healthy living, seasonal abnormalities, lack of movement, misuse of body, mind, and spirit can cause disease. Typically in an Ayurvedic session, there is a diagnosis based on a comprehensive history, detailed physical examination, measurement of vital signs including pulse, and relevant laboratory tests. (Qureshi, 2013)

Yoga Therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress towards improved health and welling through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga according to IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists). A yoga therapist uses tools such as asana/postures, adjustments to movement, pranayama/breath work, meditation, lifestyle and Yama and Niyama to guide the experience. A yoga therapist does not diagnose, medicate, give nutritional advice, massage or do psychotherapy. The process involves an intake, assessment, evaluation, plan and review and uses the Panchamaya Kosha Model of healing which is an ancient model of the human system (i.e., Anamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vijnanamaya Kosha, Anadamaya Kosha).

Both Yoga and Ayurveda reflect the Vedic idea that we must live according to our unique nature and its particular capacities.

 Characteristics of Dosha

Dosha means “fault, impurity or mistake” which is a bit hard to understand in a yoga and Ayurveda context, therefore, we may think of dosha as an organization. It is important to comprehend that all three doshas are present in everybody and everything. When the doshas are in balance they maintain a harmonious psychophysiology as when they are imbalanced they pollute the bodily tissues which lead to disease. The three doshas Pitta, Vata, Kapha bind the five elements into flesh. Vata is space and air; Pitta is fire and water, Kapha is water and Earth. Each of these doshas has their attributes.

Vata means a vehicle to carry or move. Vata regulates movement from the activity of how many thoughts we have to the efficiency of how our food moves through our digestive track.  Vata tends to have few or no children, delicate in health, irregular appetite and thirst. A vata behavior may be easily excited, easily alert and quick to act without thinking. They have great imaginations, daydream, tend to love someone out of fear of loneliness, do not like sitting idle, seek constant action, make good money, have difficulty saving, faith is flexible, and are ready for a change. (Lad, 2002) When Vata is in a sattvic state, the individual is creative, open-minded, communicates well, is a source of constant inspiration and possess a strong sense of human unity. When Vata is in a rajasic state the individual is very active and running to achieve various goals that change continually, they are restless, easily distracted, talkative, superficial and disruptive. When Vata is in a tamasic state the individual is fearful, goes against the order, easily addicted to things, can be suicidal and cannot be trusted. (Frawley, 1999)

Pitta means heat and to be austere.  Pitta usually has strong appetites and like cold drinks and sweets. Pitta is usually disciplined, leaders, confident, wisdom, like to learn, and can concentrate. At times they are judgmental, critical, and perfectionistic. They like noble professions; make large amounts of money, like expensive items, lower sex drive, moderate strength, medium life span and material wealth. (Lad, 2002) When Pitta is in a sattvic state, the individual shines like the sun, disciplined, discriminating in their thinking and always consider the viewpoint of others, friendly, courageous, natural leaders with strong wills for growth and development. When Pitta is in a rajasic state the individual aims at achievement no matter the means, promote themselves and their agendas, critical, controlling, prone to anger and intolerance and reckless. When Pitta is in a tamasic state the individual is destructive, violent, resentful and hostile in life and takes it out on everyone around them, they do not respect social laws or feelings of others and can be psychopathic.  (Frawley, 1999)

Kapha means water.  Kapha has a steady appetite and thirst with a slow digestion and metabolism which result in weight gain which is hard for them to shed. They like to eat, sit, do nothing and sleep for extended periods of time. They have deep, stable faith, love, compassion, calm, and steady mind. They have good memories, deep melodious voices and monotonous patterns of speech. They make money and tend to save money. (Lad, 2002) When Kapha is in a sattvic state the individual is loving, devoted, faithful, they have a comforting presence, patient, a balance of mind, loyal, forgiving and supportive. When Kapha is in a rajasic state, the individual is dominating, controlling, greedy, materialistic, accumulates wealth and possessions until they are overwhelmed by them. When Kapha is in a tamasic state, the person has different addictions, depressed, incapable of self-reflection, blame, trample over others and is usually overweight and full of toxins. (Frawley, 1999)

How Imbalances Present for each Dosha

Vata attributes are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, clear, astringent taste and brownish/blackish colors. Vata imbalances produce fear, anxiety and abnormal movements, however, when in balance it promotes joy, happiness, creativity and flexibility. Vata governs breathing, blinking, muscle, sneezing, elimination, and tissue movement, the pulsation of the heart and all changes in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. (Lad, 2002)

 Kapha attributes are thick, slow/dull, cold, oily, liquid, slimy/smooth, dense, soft, static, sticky/cloudy, hard, gross and a sweet and salty taste, white in color. Kapha imbalances produce attachment, greed, passiveness, apathy, laziness and congestive disorders, however, when in balance it promotes love, strength, peace, longevity, memory retention, calmness, and forgiveness. Kapha forms the body’s structure, organs, provides the cohesion that holds the cells together and supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems; it lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin and maintains immunity. (Lad, 2002)

 Pitta attributes are: hot, sharp, light, liquid, spreading, mobile, oily and sour, pungent and bitter to taste. Pitta imbalances produce anger, hatred, jealousy, and inflammatory disorders; however, when in balance it promotes understanding and intelligence. Pitta governs digestion, vitality, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, and body temperature. (Lad, 2002)

 Plan of Care for each Dosha

In teaching a vata individual it is best to use words like calm, slow, steady, grounding, strengthening, and consistent. The goal of a yoga practice would be the removal of stiffness from the joints, steadiness of the muscles, feeling of groundedness, calm and support. If you chose to do sun salutations with this individual, they should be done slowly and consciously.  Pranayama techniques like right nostril breathing, retention after the inhalation and Nadi Shodhana (combination of heating and cooling) are beneficial for this dosha.

The sequence of vata reducing asana practice is designed to build core strength while maintaining their flexibility. Some things to consider when teaching a vata sequence is to do it in the quiet, to hold the standing, sitting, forward bends and twists longer than the client is inclined to do as this longer hold will be a challenge and a reward for an individual in the long run. Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) holding each pose for a breath before moving on, to practicing being conscious of the movement. Adho Mukha Svanasana (or Wall Push), Tadasana (Mountain), Utkatasna (Chair), Trikonasana (Triangle), Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1), Parsvottanasana (Pyramid), Padangushthasana (Gorilla), Navasna (Boat), Prep for Sirsasana (Dolphin), Child’s pose, Legs-Up-the-Wall, Locust, Dandasana (Staff), Pashimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold), and Marichyasana III (Seated Spinal Twist).  (Kozak, 2001) Pala Mudra helps with anxiety relief and can be paired with an affirmation of “At peace within my inner being, I experience a greater sense of security.” and can be held for a couple of breaths or as long as fifteen minutes. (LePage, 2014)

For meditation, corpse poses with knees, ankles, wrists supported, eye pillow, neck roll, folded blanket around the top of the head and covering the ears, and a blanket to cover the whole body. You may even consider a sandbag on the belly. Long mediations for at least twenty minutes are needed to calm the fear and anxiety that is their inherent tendency.  Meditation can help them sleep, alleviate nervous digestion, strengthen their immune system. Mantra and visualizations work well for them.  Visualizations such as earth, water, mountain, ocean, lotus, rose, the light of the sun at dawn can help as well as color therapy of gold and saffron will contribute to clear their mental field. Mantras of RAM, SHRIM, HRIM are ideal for them to use throughout the day if they find themselves losing balance to worry and anxiety. Devotional meditations that a vata might resonate with are Vishnu as the avatar and savior of Rama, Ganesha as grounding, Hanuman power of prana and represents higher vata characteristics. Vata’s are learning to stabilize their inner nature so that the every changing external world does not un-ground them. (Frawley, 1999)

In teaching a pitta individual, it is best to use words like cooling, relaxing, surrendering, forgiving, gentle and diffusive. The goal of a yoga practice would be to feel the coolness, calm, openness, patience, tolerance; reduction of inflammation, and acidity. Rather than doing the sun salutation, the Moon Salutation (Chadra Namaskar) works better for them. Pranayama techniques like shitali and sitkari and left nostril breathing decrease pitta.

The sequence of asana is for pitta reducing and practiced in an effort with ease that is non-goal oriented. Focus on the breath monitoring the level of work intensity. Forward folds and twists are effective in reducing and bringing up pitta. If you are reducing pitta, hold the postures for extended periods of time. Chandra Namaskar (Moon salutations) done at 50-60% of their effort level works well for them, and they will still be working harder than most. Cat Stretch, Locust, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Low Lunge, Padottanasna, (Standing Straddle fFold), Legs up Wall with Pelvis lifted, Child’s pose, Supta Padagusthasna (Hand to Big Toe), Paschimottansana (Seated Forward Fold), SupineTtwist. (Kozak, 2001) Padma Mudra helps to reduce anger and find unconditional love and used with the affirmation of “nurturing the garden of my heart allows for the blossoming of unconditional love.” and can be done at any time for a couple of breaths up to fifteen-minute practice. (LePage, 2014)

 Savasana for fifteen-twenty minutes with a bolster under the knees, wrist, neck and eye pillow and using a strap at the thighs will help release anger, aggression and let go of their willful control approach to life. For meditation helps them concentrate their energy in a positive way toward an inner goal, however, ensure that they do not turn it into another form of achievement. Focus on expanding the mind and heart to reveal truth like waves move across the lake in the moonlight. Use non-fiery images like a mountain forest, lake, ocean, rain clouds, deep blue skies, the moon, and stars. For color therapy use the colors such as white, dark blue or emerald green. Mantras such as SHAM, SHRIM, OM are helpful throughout the day if anger arises for them. Forgiveness prayers and Meta can help them find peace and happiness for themselves and for those that they have harmed from their forceful actions. For devotional practices Lakshmi born of the ocean, Vishnu and Shiva in their forms of water and space, and God. Meditations that focus on the infinite space beyond the limitations of their critical mind is the art of developing discrimination for them. (Frawley, 1999)

In teaching a kapha individual it is best to use words like stimulating, moving, warming, lightning, energizing, and releasing. The goal of a yoga practice would be to normalize the body weight, reduction of congestion, removal of excess fat, mucus, and water from the body, a greater sense of detachment. Sun Salutations can be active and flow.  Pranayama techniques like Bhastrika and Kapalabhati decrease kapha in the body.

The following sequence is to help reduce Kapha.  Their practice should be energetic with a goal to first strengthen shoulders, arms, and legs so they may master the art of inversions. Hold Forward Folds shorter as this can increase kapha.  Surya Namaskar should be strong considering doing seven repetitions to bring up their heart rate. Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Dog), Tadasana (Mountain), Vrksana (Tree), Trikonasana (Triangle), Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2), Prep for Sirsasana (Dolphin), Sarvangasana I (shoulder stand at the wall), Locus, Niralamba Bhujangasana III (Cobra), Navasana (Boat), Supine Spinal Twist. (Kozak, 2001)  Svadhisthana Mudra is helpful with addictions and can bring in self-nourishment qualities. It can pair with an affirmation such as “completely at home at the center of my being, I experience deep nourishment and inner healing.” and can be done for a couple of breaths up to fifteen-minute practice. (LePage 2014)

Savasana should be five to fifteen minutes on the ground in corpse pose to help them release possessiveness and heaviness into a space of consciousness of true happiness and abundance. Meditation for a kapha may take a more disciplined approach as they are most likely to fall asleep, therefore doing more active meditations that include mantra, pranayama and meditation may work better for them. Focus on images that increase the fire, air and either elements like sun, wind moving through trees, an expanse of clear blue sky in colors like gold, blue and orange. Mantras of OM, HUM, AIM are good for stimulating energy for them. For a devotional practice, they may connect with Shiva or the Kali to stimulate them. Devotion should not become a form of self-indulgence but the purity of heart and mind. (Frawley, 1999)

 Discussion

The Vedas relate to an important practice of yoga and Ayurveda, which reflect an approach that comprehends all aspects of life. Yoga is the application of Vedic wisdom for self-realization. Yoga provides the means for purification of the mind (Chitta-shuddhi) to enable us to gain self-realization through Vedanta (self-knowledge).  Ayurveda is a Vedic method for healing and right living.  Ayurveda affords us purification of the body (deha-shuddhi) for optimal health and energy. As you learn the Vedic system and combine the related disciplines, you have a tremendous resource. (Frawley, 1999) In the modern world, you see these practices in integrative medicine. The body of research seems to be growing faster for yoga therapy, but both yoga and Ayurveda face difficulty. The challenge is in conducting randomized control trials because most of the treatments are individualized and targeted to the entire person. Future research may include looking at combining these integrative modalities and collect data with scientific rigor.

 

References

 

Frawley, D. (1999). Yoga & Ayurveda Self-Healing and Self-Realization. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin: Lotus Press.

 

Frawley, D., & Kozak, S. S. (2001). Yoga for your type: an Ayurvedic approach to your Asana practice. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus.

 

Lad, V. (2002). Textbook of Ayurveda. Albuquerque, NM: Ayurvedic Press.

 

Page, J. L., & Page, L. L. (2014). Mudras for Healing and Transformation (2nd ed.). Sebastopol, CA: Integrative Yoga Therapy.

Qureshi, N. A., & Al-Bedah, A. M. (2013). Mood disorders and complementary and alternative medicine: a literature review. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment9, 639–658. http://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S43419

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Yoga | Add Comments Here »


Yogic Principles

What does it mean to incorporate more saucha, santosha, and svadhyaya in a client’s life? How can niyamas (specifically these three mentioned above) affect chronic pain?  Chronic pain is driven less by tissue damage and more by sleep, mood, thoughts, and emotions. Chronic pain diseases interact with their nervous system, immune system, and endocrine system.  Learn how the principals of the niyamas (also known as observances/ moral commitments) help clients relate to their inner self, the private ritual regarding self-care and how they can apply to those living with chronic pain. Learn how saucha, santosha and svadhyaya interact with the disease mechanisms/ pathways and the connections between physical, mental, emotional and social health. Find out how yoga therapists apply the niyamas with their clients. It is a journey, not a process; they check off their list. Taking it one-step at a time and proceeding with compassion (versus worrying about perfection) is needed while the client learns to dance on their edge of pain and comfort.

Saucha/ Sauca (Yoga Sutra 2:40-41) is purity and at the root concerned with keeping different energies distinct and maintaining the sanctity of the energy around us (Satchidananda, 2005). Using the perspective that there are shattered pieces of themselves, what seems like broken pieces are, what make them whole – they are a soupy mess of transformation called growth.  When faced with a chronic disease and rushing to doctor’s appointment… and subsequently rushed diagnoses in allopathic medicine the client leaves feeling fragmented as their body is talked about objectively in pieces. Practicing saucha they can un-fragment and start to see themselves as a whole. As a yoga therapist, using practices like pranayama and chanting Om (Aum) can help unify their head and heart, bringing them into the present moment. Breathing into intense discomfort at times dissipates the pain. Having a pranayama and chanting practice can bring the body into deep relaxation, relieving tension, tightness, reducing mental noise, agitation, and self-doubt.

Clients loved ones mean well; and while the customer is the ones sitting in the room facing the disease head-on, health care providers and loved ones do not see “them” anymore. They, like others, are approaching the experience with a cluttered mind scattered with thoughts. Clients leave their healthcare appointments with even more scattered thoughts than when they came. Taking a moment to practice pranayama at the end of a meeting can bring closure.   Before the appointment, it can bring clarity to the mind resulting in improved communication during the doctor’s appointment. Taking time to slow down is hard especially in our society where hurrying, multitasking and busyness are often viewed as success symbols.   They are killers of saucha (purity). When they can use pranayama to cleanse themselves, there may be a visceral reaction a feeling of being lighter, having more space and mental expansiveness. The side effects of practicing saucha are feelings of being more alive; their mind is clearer, and the heart is more compassionate (Adele, 2009).

Through pranayama, an inner cleanliness can help with being healthy (Deiskachar, 1995). The external cleanliness of the body and internal cleanliness of pure food digested removes impurities of mind such as arrogance, conceit, and malice (Keller, 2015). Sattvic food is light, fresh and nourishing.  Items such as grains, seeds, fruit, vegetables and dairy food promote health (Fields, 2001).

Santosa/ Santosha (Yoga Sutra 2:42) is being content with what they have already attained and wanting what they already have, accepting what is and making the best out of everything (Satchidananda, 2005).  Approach it from the perspective of; they are responsible for their disturbances.  Waves of emotional disturbance such as being upset, hurt, left out, not appreciated, put upon and mourning the past could be considered giving their emotional state away to someone or something outside themselves.  This is their loss of control and contentment.  The verbal explosion and ruminating are a waste of useful energy, silence, withdrawal, confiding in someone can be helpful.  At the time of diagnoses of a disease, using their energy to heal is very important. The toll is high when they are facing disease and at times have tunnel vision their health and well-being are affected, they have emotional and physical pain, misunderstanding and sloppy work. When they are upset and replaying negative events, they are the ones disturbing the flow of life, not the noise and storms in their lives. They keep themselves out of contentment because emotional disturbance can be traced back to them (Adele, 2009).

As a yoga therapist, using journaling and tracking times that clients are not in pain is a useful tool. Journaling what activity they are doing at that time as well as keeping a gratitude journal can help build more santosha (contentment) in their lives. Accept what has happened with the new diagnoses versus dwelling on the past.  Learn during the process and do not attach results with their actions.  Save them disappointment and despair as they navigate the new waters of living with chronic pain (Desikachar, 1995). Journaling can help uncover pain patterns and triggers that increase episodes of pain as well as patterns that bring them great joy and decrease pain. In learning these patterns, it allows for a better understanding of self and improved communication with health care providers. As a yoga therapist clients respond well when focusing on the patterns that bring joy and decrease pain. Journaling does not always have to be about a health record or pain; it can be about happiness, creativity, feelings, and needs. Journaling helps in the healing from stresses and traumas.  It has been linked to boosting the immune function in chronically ill patients (Murry, 2002).  Twenty minutes a day of pen and paper can be cathartic for the writer (Baikie, 2005). Santosha is the absence of desire beyond what is immediately necessary to maintain one’s life.  They feel that what they have been enough (Keller, 2015). The lack of greed results in calmness and serenity regardless of external and internal circumstances and working toward preventing mental disturbances (Fields, 2001).

Svadhyaya (Sutra 2:44) is the study of one’s self through careful observation (Satchidananda, 2005). If they think of self-study from the perspective of “being the witness.”  There is power in becoming the observer of themselves and learning how their belief system works. Can the need for fixing themselves, while controlling to keep things the same, be changed? Can they witness their reactions and respond with choice?  A yoga therapist might suggest to the client to observe their thoughts, feelings and emotional disturbances looking for clues about their matrix of belief systems. What are the stories they are telling themselves? Can they watch the ego rather than identify with it? Listening brings healing.  Beginning to know their self as something different than who they thought they gave them the opportunity to know their true self.  Understanding how they create their reality marks progress in their growth. Be curious to a beginner’s mind stepping outside their boxes and becoming free (Adele, 2009).

As a yoga therapist, using transcendental meditation ( technique, based on ancient Hindu writings and founded by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, by which one seeks to achieve a relaxed state through regular periods of meditation during which a mantra repeated) to help the client build svadhaya or self-study. Transcendental meditation can help support the autonomic nervous system, neuroendocrine axis, cardiovascular and immune systems and well as supporting the physiology state and function through changing life conditions reducing stress (David Lynch Foundation, 2016). 

Yoga eventually influences all aspects of a person: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Many layers in the yoga philosophy can support a client in approaches to relax, energize, remodel and strengthen body and psyche. As Swami Sri Kripalvanadji stated, “When you pick one petal from the garland of yamas and niyamas, the entire garland will follow.” These niyamas mentioned here can provide direction to participants for clients that are finding it difficult to focus their thoughts and calm their mind. As starting any new endeavor, it ‘s hard in the beginning, but if the client continues to grow and learn about the niyamas, they will bring new behavioral patterns and a deeper understanding of how to build these practices into their life, until one day you realize they have become part of their heart and mind.

 

 

 

 

References

Adele, D. (2009). The Yamas & Niyamas Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice (pp. 105-161). Duluth, Minnesota: On-Word Bound Books.

 

Baiklie, K., & Wihelm, K. (2005, August). Home | BJPsych Advances. Retrieved March 08, 2016, from http://apt.rcpsych.org/

 

David Lynch Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2016, from http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/

 

Desikachar, T. (1995). Living in the World. In The Heart of Yoga: Developing a personal practice (Rev. ed., pp. 101-102). Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International.

 

Fields, G. (2001). Value Theory and Ethics: Health and the Good in Yoga. In Religious Therapeutics: Body and Health in Yoga, Ayurveda and Tantra (pp. 109-111). Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.

 

Keller, D. (2015). Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras- The Niyamas: Inner Observances. In Heart of the Yogi: The Philosophical World of Hatha Yoga (pp. 145-146). Doyoga.com.

 

Murry, B. (2002, June). Writing to heal. Retrieved March 08, 2016, from http://www.apa.org/

 

Satachidananda, S. (2005). Sadhana Pada Portion on Practice. In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (11th ed., pp. 131-151). Buckingham, Virginia: Integral Yoga Publications.

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Yoga | Add Comments Here »


Kapalabhati Pranayama Personal Practice Journal

I am someone who checks in with my breath during my interactions throughout the day as it helps me to decide whether I am calm or triggered into anxiety or fear in some way. In doing the check in it allows me to collect my thoughts, to be more compassionate towards others and to see if the tension I may be feeling in dialogue with others is coming from them or me. I do a pranayama practice at the beginning or ending of my asana practice.  My first pranayama experience as a stand-alone to set a pranayama practice only and to access its effects on my personal being. I chose Kapalabhati Pranayama (an active exhale and passive inhale in rounds of 50-100 repetitions) for my practice to do daily for five minutes for fifteen days. Eight days into this journey I needed to add in Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (inhale left nostril, exhale right nostril, inhale right nostril, exhale left nostril repeating) because I was on fire.

            For me, Kapalabhati Pranayama brought awareness to my Swadhisthana and Manipura Chakras, and I could feel this energy rising in my body until I had a fairly light feeling about myself. This high would then level off after I had finished the practice bringing me into a calm state. Overall I found this exercise to be fun as I had to laugh at myself when I would start to get into my head or overthink the practice my rhythm would no longer be natural and flow with ease. Kapalabhati was teaching me a lesson about letting go and flowing with the present moment. Around days four through eight, I started to notice little fevers in my body and assumed that I was burning off old memories and beliefs stuck in my tissues in my lower chakras of Muladhara, Swadhisthana, and Manipura. I found this intriguing and allowed my body to heal as it needed to. When I went for my monthly energy healing at the end of my session, my healer asked what I had been doing because I had a blazing fire that she worked on in my Swadhisthana and Manipura Chakras. I laughed and told her about my practice, and she suggested that I be mindful of what might be coming up. Now I am getting into this breath.

 I have seen Kapalabhati called many different things such as breath of fire, skull shinning breath and cleansing breath, and I seem to be experiencing them all. The fire burning in my lower chakras, the lightness and calm in my skull and I am confident that both of these things happening in my body are cleansing it of old patterns while embracing new ones. After recently recovering from double pneumonia (a cause from dealing with deep grief in my personal life) my ego was hurt because I could not breathe deeply and I had prided myself on my full breath it was something that I consciously worked at for years. After being in a back brace for a decade, it took me a long time to feel my breath and to break up that fascia so to see it leave me I was hurt and found myself questioning its trust. See the inspiration teaches me about faith I am confident that the in-breath will always be there, but now I was not as sure as it felt as though I was sucking air through a straw. This mindful practice of just five minutes a day of doing Kapalabhati was helping me to regain my trust of my lungs again I could feel my breath getting deeper, and it was filling me with joy.

            On day eight I started to add in three to five minutes of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama because the fire in my lower chakras was getting pretty intense and uncomfortable.  At times so much heat built that I could feel tears manifesting not fully understanding the there source of sadness but allowing the process to unfold knowing I would be lighter in my journey for letting go. I use only to focus on bringing my pita down in line with my other doshas, but now I realize that I need to pay more attention to my Vata qualities (I am a pita/vata). See my Vata qualities either seem to blaze my pitta characteristics to a fiery inferno, or it puts my fire out entirely. I realize that I am all three doshas and that I strive for a balance between them. The skin irritation on my face seems slightly better (day ten). Could this be from the combination of Nadi Shodhana balancing my hormones and the cleansing aspects of Kapalabhati? At this point, my mind is getting bored with the practice as I am about ten days in so I start to add in different body positions during the Kapalabhati portion of the breath. I did things like sitting in easy seated pose, being in twisting lunge/warrior, placing a ball under in my armpit and squeezing it between my arm and ribcage, putting a ball on the side of my neck and squeezing it between the neck and the arm, doing a seated twist, etc. The ball allowed me to explore the depth of the breath three dimensionally with more awareness.

My mental and emotional state appears to be more resilient as things seem to be rolling off my back better. But more interesting to me is that I have a greater awareness of separation when interacting with others. Such as I can see their stuff, my stuff and instead of owning both of our stuff I can honor and acknowledge the separation of lessons that need to be learned.  Another interesting interaction with others was when I was teaching my annual pranayama workshop to clients at the studio. I love Kapalabhati breath for its strengthening and toning of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles and the energizing feeling it leaves in my mind.  I found it amusing when some clients shared that the breath is exhausted (I suspected that their core was weak as these were two new customers) they and they felt tired doing it- it was a good reminder that what I believe in my practice is not always what others feel.

            I felt the benefits of both of these breaths as they helped ground and awaken the pranamaya kosha (energetic body) and clear away obstructions that where inhibiting my flow of pranayama.  I know fully understand the empowerment that a pranayama practice alone can bring to my lifestyle. The benefits that I experienced in doing this practices where enlightening.  Kapalabhati benefits that I experienced where cleansing lungs and respiratory system, strengthen and toning the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, energizing and clearing the mind, and warming of the body. Nadi Shodhana benefits that I experienced where reduced stress and anxiety, calming, balancing of hormones, and fostering of mental clarity and alertness in my mind.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Breath and Health | Add Comments Here »