Articles derived from yogacharya Sharat Arora (Anand Sagar) Teachings

How to Release Back Pain through Yoga?

Let’s first examine what a normal back is like, then go into what a diseased back is and see how pain starts arising. Finally, we will explain how the yoga we are practicing in this centre takes this pain out.

So, how does a normal back looks like? We have two humps in our back: One at the top of the shoulder and the other in the buttocks area. This is how normal back looks like, as long as the spine maintains its rightful curve. The moment these curves change, it becomes imbalanced. We spent all our life bringing our back in non-balance.

Gravity does not spare anyone; look at a coconut tree, this defies nature. If your spine is imbalanced, gravity will still act on your spine and pull you down. Now something has to hold.

Try to resist gravity to maintain your back straight; those are called tensions, and when tensions stay on for a long time they become painful. How do we get rid of this pain?

Our back has become tight and has lost the capabilities for knowing what is straight because of bad habits. Bad habits come from our thinking process. If bad habits were only coming from the body it would be easy to correct. The habit of mental process means “how I think”; we all have a direction of thought; that direction of thought is inspired/influenced by the things that are important for us in our lives such as our desires, our fears all the things we like and dislike etc. Hence, in order to be aligned and to heal a painful back, the first thing to deal with is the mind. We need to take away the mental causes creating imbalances. Why do you think that most physiotherapies do not last long? Because they do not deal with the mind; hence, the old bad posture comes back. Actually, any diseases or pains are stemming from habit pattern of thinking. Fortunately for us, the yogis figured this out long back before science came.

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Questions & Answers New & Continuing Students

New students’ questions.

Q: Would it be worse doing the continuing week if I only have two-three days as I have to leave early this week.
A: Once you have done the first 5 days you have an introduction to everything that we teach. After that, we allow people to come for only two or three days of the continuing weeks if they wish.

Q: In case I have one hour to exercise, should I do continue three poses for 20 min or should 6 poses 10 min each?
A: Sir, if you had asked: I have only 5 minutes what shall I eat, it is the whole thing, take your time. Anyone who eats fast will have indigestion; it’s a wholesome practice; put it all in one, do the whole thing preferentially in the morning, you never know what happens in the evening. I suggest that you do one hour and a half by getting up earlier in the morning. Regarding standing poses you can do them 2 min each. One minute on each side. Suptavirasana minimum 5 minutes, shoulder stand minimum 10 minutes. Otherwise things do not work.

Q: I have a question about food. Is there a diet that could make the body more flexible?
A: What’s your concern about flexibility?

Q: I felt that being flexible would help me with my yoga. If my body is more flexible then the mind would be more...

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What Does Self-Care Really Mean in Yoga Practice?

What matters most in the process of Yoga is a state of relaxation and an attitude of care. You are learning how to be relaxed in your action. The way in which you practise Yoga should be of great concern.

If you keep plants at home and you care for them they are bound to flourish and grow. The same is true for the body. If you care for your body lovingly through your Yoga practice, then it will grow and become powerful and strong. The same is true for any living thing. When you give it loving care it will be nourished, without a doubt. If you are careless and use fertilisers and pesticides on your beloved plants then they will suffer. Accordingly, if you are out of touch with the needs of your body, and are unaware of its need for nutrition, cleanliness, and daily maintenance it will suffer as a result. Equally, if you feed your body with negative thoughts, judging how it looks with an attitude of worry and stress then, of course, it will suffer. Learn to care less about how you think it should look and care more about how it should be maintained. Just as you avoid putting unnecessary additives onto your plants, apply the same principle to your body, whether the additives are in the form of chemical medicines or toxic thoughts. Learn to give care to your body in every way including through right practice of Yoga.

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Organs of Action in Iyengar Yoga

The hands and feet are the organs of action in the body. In Sanskrit this is called - Karma Indriya. The action in the feet has a direct effect on the alignment of the spine and body and it also influences how we breath. Refining the action in the feet brings clarity towards an experience in the stretch of the whole abdomen in all the standing postures. If the right action occurs, and the pose is done correctly all imbalances start to dissipate.  In order for this technique to work effectively it is vital that the stretching of the toes is done in conjunction with the pressing down of the centre of the heel. The entire sole of the foot is felt through stretching the toes up and this action makes the centre of the heel more accessible.

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Hanging Sirsana & the Earth Element

The connection to the earth is felt through the feet when standing upright.  Hanging upside down in Sirsasana inverts the foundation to be felt on the head, but only if the head is able to rest and connect to something for support. When free hanging without support under the head - full relaxation cannot occur because there is no earth quality. Earth quality is stability and stillness.

For a student who is new to hanging, free hanging is important to ensure that the spine can fully extend and become as straight and unrestricted as possible. Only once a student has reached a certain level of awareness and there are no serious issues in the neck or spine, can they be taught how to use head support. If the instruction is too premature, it will only fill a student’s head with too much information, over complicate things and potentially do more damage than good. A student may push the head down and squash the neck, which is the complete opposite intention of the pose.  The art of resting the head with support is therefore only taught on the Intensive Yoga Courses or Therapy Yoga Courses.

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Top Blogs

Sharat Arora
03 August 2016
16.10.14 When we do a practice like we do in our Iyengar Yoga centres, we gain understanding, so we increase our awareness about ourselves and about the world. We go inside and the mind slowly stops i...