Wrong Pranayama Practice - Disorders and Remedies

You will only start to understand the impacts of the pranayama once you have done it for some time.   

If after doing an asana you get a knee problem, you know you did something wrong. Similarly, you will know that you did something in your pranayama, if you cannot sleep or if you are unrestful all day. It is like a turmoil within. You can also get sick or get a sudden fever.

A common disorder that pranayama practitioners suffer from is heartburn. It is a result of a wrong practice i.e. doing the pranayama after excessive eating or before the digestive process is finished. Heartburn is a disorder of the wind, of vayu - the air element, and it is a very important clue telling you that there is something that you are not doing correctly. 

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Sadhana Pada - The Chapter Of Practice. Yoga Sutras, Chapter 2

Sadhana pada: sadhana – ‘practice’, pada – ‘chapter’.

There are three elements of sadhana: tapas, svadhyaya, and Ishvara pranidhana.   

Tapas means ‘concentrated effort’.
Svadhyaya means ‘study of oneself’ and comes from sva – ‘oneself’ and adhyaya – ‘study’. You study yourself through meditation. There is no other way. Some people describe it as reading the scriptures, but if you look at yourself through the scriptures, then you still have to meditate on the truths of what you’ve read within yourself.
Ishvara pranidhana. Ishvara – ‘God’, pranidhana – ‘surrender’. Ishvara pranidhana – ‘surrender to God’. Surrender is not towards someone else. It is the devotion which has to be cultivated within yourself. Patanjali’s practice is non-dualistic.  

So these are the three ways that one proceeds in the eightfold path: yama, niyama, asan, pranayam, pratyahar, dharana, dhyar, samadhi.

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The Philosophical Background Of Yoga Practice - How To Stop The Fluctuations Of The Mind?

Yoga is chitta vritti nirodha - the bringing about to a halt of all the movements that take place in our consciousness. The word chitta means ‘mind’ or ‘consciousness’; vritti means ‘fluctuations’, ‘movements’; nirodha means ‘eradication’. Vrittis lead one to happiness or sorrow and this is a very important thing to understand. The effect of all these fluctuations is that we live in the high state, or we live in the low state; one moment we are happy, the next moment we are sad. Only when the quietness of the fluctuations is brought about, do we see who we really are. There are two ways in order to achieve that.

One way is a complete surrender - Pranidhana, to God – Ishvara. The qualities of God according to Patanjali are that He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. In other words God is timeless - He is in the past, in the present and in the future. God is in all the places at the same time, and He knows everything that there is to know - past, present, future. By completely surrendering oneself to Ishvara, to God, one can reach the state of quietness.

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How Do Asanas Affect Us?

All postures, whether they are corrective, regenerative etc. work on all the systems of the body: digestive (excretory), glandular (which comprises of hormonal system and the lymphatic system), respiratory, nervous, muscular, skeletal and cardiovascular. Were they not to do this, they would be more like exercises. When you exercise, you only work on the muscular system, while all the other systems suffer. Yoga works and nourishes all the systems of the body, IF performed in the right manner. You can also abuse it. All the poses that work on the physical level, also work on the psychological and on the spiritual level.

Here are two examples of how the poses work on various systems:

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Our Responsibility to Yoga

To make Yoga into a physical practice  is a crime on our heritage and an abuse on our pranic forces. According to the texts Lord Shiva taught the Yogic science to humanity for liberation and freedom from suffering and definitely not to build muscle and strength.........as a lot of so called yogas are emphasising on these days.

The very art is to free ourselves from tensions so that pranic energy can move freely.......... How can one create the tensions & call it Yoga.

Ok Yoga has done a detour and come back to our country from the west........ Our job is now 2 fold... to continue to research this wonderful science to apply it to modern times & secondly to break away from some strange concepts that westernisation brought back.

To all those who stand as yoga gurus..... a prayer to enter into the depths & live Yoga, not tarnish it's name or misuse it for name & fame.

Yogacharya Sharat Arora, November 2015

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Svadhyaya - Studying of the Self to Bring Balance

An area where the breath is not going into is either not properly adjusted or there lies your blockage. Like this we use the postures to understand and locate our blockages. Through the use of the breath, where the breath is hindered, adjustments have to be made. In order to be observant, all kinds of software running in the head have to first be quieted. In order for us to be present, I have to eradicate all disturbance; disturbance of mind getting stuck in some pattern. This is the exploration of our being. Some thoughts or thought patterns are recurrent. It’s like the same CD playing over and over. Recognition of this, seeing it, that’s enough, just seeing it. So the CD, doesn’t continue to play without being heard. Often this is a background noise in which we live; all these programs, not one, not two, but many playing all together. Detect this to be present. And only when you’re present are you going to use your time in bringing about balance. Those softwares, those CD’s continuously playing, it’s them that influence our breath. When we become free, our breath becomes harmonious. Every CD playing, every software that is active creates tightness and tension. Those truly are the things that matter to us. When I see it, I catch it red-handed in operation. Now and again and again, thus detected, seeing, it becomes shaky. Our job is just to see it; to see all this happening. That’s it, nothing else. To start to have some aversion, anger, non-wanting or even hatred gives it even more power to grow. We need to see these things that interrupt our balance. When shall we do that, but in the asana practice?

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Sadhana - The Path to Realization

It’s about being happy, taking away suffering; meaning being happy, truly happy. Not the happiness that I get from acquiring something and then after ten days I am bored of it. Acquiring a nice car, then you come, there’s a scratch on it… oh misery. Happiness; or in other words, not suffering. That’s what Patanjali is saying. And how do we practice? He says in three ways; tapas, svadhyaya and isvara-pranidhana.

Tapa is a focused effort. Not dispersed, but concentrated. They used to do tapa standing in the cold freezing water on one leg and sitting in the sun, with seven fires around you. All extreme things, even till today, they are called “tap, tap karna, tapna”. Fully concentrated effort. Practice like this; one pointed and fully powered practice. A little bit doesn’t work.

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What is Yoga?

Yoga is a vast and a very old subject. Many people have written about yoga, but one of the most important works of yoga is by Patanjali. Pata means a snake; Anjali is offering. A woman wished an amazing being to be born to her. She was so pious that God granted her this gift and as she was praying in her hands fell a snake, a little one. Pata- snake; in the hands- offering. That is where the word comes from. The story goes that this was no ordinary being; it was the great serpent Ananta. Ananta meaning - endless; snake is endless.

Ananta asked Vishnu one day; he said “oh lord I would like the occasion to learn yoga from Shiva”. So he said “for that you will have to be born on the earth and then pray to lord Shiva to give you some knowledge”. So he was born like that, because a woman’s desire that she wanted some very exceptional being to be born to her. Thus, we don’t know how he got knowledge from Shiva, but he did and thus wrote this work; The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Sutra is a necklace on a string; so the sutras are like beads connected with each other. And what’s the most amazing fact is that the whole treatise of the Yoga has been put into one hundred and ninety-six sentences. Most amazing.

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Evolution towards Balance and Freedom

Evolution is about becoming more aware and more sensitive. The whole world performs actions, but the yogis’ actions bring balance. The question is; how are you going to know that you are balanced?

I can only do my best and my best is when I am feeling what I’m doing. Don’t just do. We go into this mode of only doing.  Do, but with feeling; with the awareness of the sensations that the action is bringing about. Be clear making the movement, be aware.

An experience of one second of total freedom indicates to you that you are on the right path; the path towards balance. And that is enough. One second; one moment of totality. Wonderful. Like this, in all the poses, a little spark. And that spark changes our entire life.

Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the "Pranic Healing" Intensive Yoga Course
At the Himalaya Shanti Ashram in Dharamsala in October - November 2013

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Asana Practice, Spiritual Practice

The postures only become a spiritual practice when we endeavor, when we try to bring balance. In bringing balance, we’re actually bringing balance on all levels. For everything resides in this body. We are born in this body, everything resides in it. Once you start to bring balance, balance with the breath, you discover that you become more still, more quiet. After all, mind plays in the zone of the body and influences it. And these influences are seen and removed. If we are only doing postures, our imbalances continue to remain, and though we may become flexible and even feel better; the practice is not spiritual. Thus, svadhyaya is seeing all this, studying it. So, don’t be action oriented. See what is happening and sort out imbalances. We always solve them here and now. Not leaving them for tomorrow.

If it’s about balance, how can I put my body in such a situation that it is becoming imbalanced? Thus, when I put my body in difficult situations, I need time to bring that balance. This is called asana practice.

Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the "Pranic Healing" Intensive Yoga Course
At the Himalaya Shanti Ashram in Dharamsala in October - November 2013

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