Articles derived from yogacharya Sharat Arora (Anand Sagar) Teachings

Pranayama - Working with the Bandhas

Pranayama is very subtle. For this reason, in Iyengar Yoga we go extremely slowly with it. With asana it is different – an experienced teacher can see what is going on and correct straight away.   

When you make your exhalations long, feel the abdomen go down. Do not allow the abdomen to go forward at the end of the exhalation. On the contrary, allow it to go straight up. You don’t have to pull it in. It pulls itself in. The moment you stop exhaling is as if you allow your consciousness to sink down toward the base of the spine.   

Your first inhalation will be somewhere below the navel. This is a very important part of the practice, because with it come two bandhas: mula bandha, and uddiyana bandha.

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The Healing Power of Breath

There was a boy who suddenly got such bad depression, he couldn’t go to work, in fact, he couldn’t do anything. He was a young boy of about 25. So, he had to come for three classes a week and within one month he got all his confidence back, got another job and started to work. He didn’t appear at the Institute after that. What did he do? A lot of backbends and some breathing as well. He sat on a chair and was just breathing in a particular way. He wasn’t lying down and it wasn’t even a real pranayama but it worked straight away. This is how powerful your breath is in sorting out your psychological problems, psycho-emotional problems.

Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the Intensive Yoga Course at the
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre in Arambol, North Goa, 2002

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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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