Monday, May 4, 2015

Shake Those Chakras and Bind Those Bandhas

In the recent article, Warrior Pose - One way to help veterans with PTSD?  Lots of yoga., the author describes how a soldier fell in love with his time on the mat- with yoga's traditional asanas aka poses and deep breathing.   After attending yoga classes for 2 years- I can now touch my knees!  The terminology thrown around is still confusing.  The instructors intersperse Sanskrit terminology with modern day definitions including multiple animal named postures. 

The following are some general terms and simple explanations for the uninitiated.  Yoga has gone mainstream and multiple references are made that might even be amusing, if you knew what they were talking about.  This is not a complete list.
  1. Mantra "means a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power."  During meditation OM is a frequent mantra.  It is also a popular all-mountain ski by Volkl.
  2. OM is the creation within ourselves a vibration that attunes sympathy with the cosmic vibration.  It is also the first two letters of the abbreviation for Oh My G_D!
  3. Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind to eliminate the constant clutter of daily life's lists of activities.  Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease any health concerns, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.  Practicing postures in yoga is "moving meditation".  In some eastern practices, meditation is central (e.g. Zen Buddhism); while in others it is simply an aspect of the endeavor (yoga).  Meditative based practices have spawned some businesses as well- e.g. transcendental meditation, or TM.
  4. Chakras is the 7 centers in our body in which energy flows through.  Each chakra is located in a particular part of the body. 1-Root Chakra- the feeling of being grounded; 2- Sacral Chakra- ability to connect and accept others and new experiences; 3- Solar Plexus Chakra- ability  to be confident and in-control  of our lives; 4- Heart Chakra- ability to love; 5- Throat Chakra- ability to communicate; 6- Third Eye Chakra- ability to focus on the big picture; 7-
    Crown Chakra- ability to be fully connected spiritually.
  5. Bandha allows energy to flow.  Mula Bandha is introduced with the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles.  You achieve Uddiyana Bandha, by gently drawing the stomach inwards- Mula is linked to exhalation and Uddiyana to inhalation.  Both badhas remain continuously activated throughout the whole practice.  Therefor the diaphragm, through which much of the control is gained, is a key aspect of focus in yoga practice. 
  6. Pranayama breathing is the science of breath control.  You will hear your instructor say inhale through the nose for 3 sec and exhale for 3 seconds.  Ideally, this practice of opening up the inner life force is not merely to take healthy deep breaths.  It is intended for yoga practitioners to help and prepare them in their meditation process.
  7. Namaste-Shalom is a customary greeting when coming and going.  It is customary to be spoken with a slight bow and hands- palms pressed together.
It is well known that those raised in a western culture, have some difficulty fully comprehending the underlying meaning and intent of eastern practices.  In a famous conversation between Carl Jung- one of the principle founders of western psychology and Masao Abe- a Zen academic and proponent of east-west dialogue, the two agreed that their foundational mental capacities were so cully determined by the cultural upbringing, that they could never really understand one another.

As you can see this is a foreign language.  This should not deter one from trying a few classes out.  Flexibility, balance, focus, ad weight loss are all secondary great benefits when one participates in the process.  This can be a key health benefit for the AARP crowd (myself included) to have the physical and mental health to enjoy a slower version of life.


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