Management of illness and disease through yoga

The human body is designed for diverse dynamic physical activities.  However, the conditions of modern life are such that the most of us live a sedentary lifestyle.  We lust for all the pleasures and comfort that money can buy us.  However, in seeking more happiness and comfort we tend to adopt an unhealthy lifestyle.

Lower back pain and high blood pressure are commonly linked to stresses of everyday life.  However the effects of the stresses of everyday life on your body can be much worse than this.  For example, prolonged emotional pressure (whether caused by work, home or whatever) can lead to:

  1. Arterial fibulation (i.e. irregular heart rate);
  2. Impaired endocrinal function (i.e. disturbances to hormone production/levels);
  3. Vasoconstriction (i.e. the narrowing of blood vessels which increases blood pressure);
  4. Disturbed sleeping patterns; and
  5. A weakened immune system.

A weakened immune system then opens you up to contracting all manner of illnesses and diseases; all of which have chronic stress as the root cause.  This, then, is a good example of the link between mind and body (which is at the very heart of yoga) in the context of illnesses and diseases.  I am not aware of an illness or a disease which does not involve both mind and body.   Indeed, a vast number of ‘physical’ diseases become worse by mental factors such as stress.

Yoga takes a holistic approach to the management and avoidance of diseases and illnesses.  In particular, Prana Vashya Yoga works through the purification of the nadis (with its emphasis on pranayama) by removing toxins in the body and through the psycho-physiological corrections programmed into your subconscious by regular yoga asana practice.  This cultivates a satvik nature, that is calmness, wisdom and selflessness; an attitude which is needed for optimum mental health.       

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester on Tuesday 7th February 2017.  Spaces at the Prana Vashya Yoga School are limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

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Advantages of breath lock in yoga

The intention behind Prana Vashya Yoga is to make you physically and psychologically stronger in a natural way.  Breath lock is a natural thing.  You may not even realise you are doing it when you have to concentrate hard (consider having to thread a needle; you hold your breath for a few moments while you do it) or lift a heavy weight (again, you tend to lock your breath).   This shows that there is a clear link between the body/mind and our breath.

It is common experience that when we feel that we are getting angry about something our breathing becomes more rapid as the emotion takes hold of us. The emotions and mental activities are, then, related to the nervous system.  It is through the nervous system that that emotions and mental activities change our breathing. So, if we learn to control our breathing we can conquer the life force which is deeply connected with the mind.

Holding the breath inside your lungs (antar kumbhaka) helps build strength in the torso region, as expanded ribs are being maintained which activates things like the intercostals muscles.  Maintaining expanded ribs also frees your torso making the torso independent.  This is important in terms of teaching your muscles to work independently, as this builds muscle tone.

Holding the breath out with all the air expelled from your lungs (bahya kumbhaka) teaches the body/mind to make more of less. It also helps prepare you to take the best inhalation possible when moving into the next position.  This strengthens the nervous system and saturates the body with a high level of oxygen.

Prana Vashya Yoga requires the use of both antar kumbhaka and bahya kumbhaka when performing Sun Salutations and Vinyasa (i.e. the movement between the different yoga postures in the sequence). This unique approach towards the breath serves as additional support for you to accomplish postures without stressing any internal or external parts of the body.  The pattern of breath and kumbhakas in the Vinyasa also causes you to develop the capacity to maintain consistent breath and calmness of mind during the journey of yoga practice.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Prana Vashya Yoga School on Queens Road in Leicester.  Spaces at the Prana Vashya Yoga School are limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

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So what is Pranayama?

In short, Prana means ‘life’ and yama means ‘to extend’; so the practice of pranayama is the practice of breathing techniques designed to make you live longer.

The ancient sages of India coined these breathing techniques which have various physiological benefits, promote longevity of life and enhance well-being. A single hour’s pranayama practice is said to be the equivalent of 4 hours yoga asana practice! These breathing techniques can be practiced at any time of the day on an empty stomach (that is 4 hours after eating a heavy meal or two hours after eating a light meal and at least 30 minutes after drinking any liquids).

For all of the following breathing techniques you should sit in Ardha Padmasana (half lotus pose) with the right leg crossed on top of the left leg.  You must remain absolutely still at all times.  Aside from anything else, if you move around, or shift your body weight, or unfold and re-cross your legs, then you will ache and feel de-motivated.  Only if you stay perfectly still will you avoid numbness in the legs and discomfort.  If you cannot hold this seated position then there are other postures in which you may practice pranayama.  Unless otherwise stated below, both hands should be held in chin mudra (touching the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger) with the backs of the arms resting on your knees.   At all times your tongue should be pressed as far back on the roof where the soft pallet is at.

If you want to increase your energy levels then try twelve rounds of Anuloma Viloma pranayama as this will get your energy levels soaring!  Whilst seated with your hands in chin mudra, you begin by exhaling all the air from your lungs. You then breathe in for a count of 4.  What I mean by this is that you divide your inhalation into 4 equal parts.  You breathe in the first quarter of your total lung capacity (visualising the path of the breath in through the nostrils and through to the throat) and then you pause very briefly; this is the first count.  You then breathe in the second quarter of the breath (visualising the path of the breath from the throat to the heart) and again you pause briefly before the next breath; this is the second count.  Then follows the third count, inhaling the third quarter of your total lung capacity (visualising the path of the breath from the heart to the lungs); again you pause briefly before the next breath.  Finally, you inhale the last quarter of your total lung capacity (being the fourth count) visualising the path of the breath from the heart to the base of the spine.

So after breathing in for a count of 4, you then exhale for a count of 6.  This means dividing the breath into six equal parts and pausing briefly after each exhalation.  As you do this you should visualise the breath moving up the spinal column in six equal parts: from the base of the spine up to the lower/lumber region, then up to the thoracic cavity region through to the upper back, then the cervical spine, to the neck, all the way to the pineal gland (third eye).   This is one round of Anuloma Viloma pranayama.  Try 12 doing rounds.  You can count the rounds with your left hand using your thumb (counting three rounds to each finger).

To purify your body and cure disease you should regularly practice the following three types of pranayama which simulate certain Nadi.  Nadi literally means ‘flow or current’ and they are the channels with which prana flows through your body. In the ancient texts it is written that there are seventy two thousand nadis in the psychic body of man. Of these thousands of nadi three are most important.  The first is the chandra nadi, the second is the surya nadi and the third is the susumna nadi.

Chandranuloma pranayama (left nostril breathing) stimulates the the chandra nadi.   Whilst seated with your hands in chin mudra, you begin by folding in the first two fingers on your right hand (i.e. your swearing fingers) pressing your thumb on your right nostril so it cannot take in any air and then exhale all the air from your lungs (through the left nostril).  Next, breathe in through the left nostril for a count of 4 and breathe out through the same nostril for a count of 6 (at all times visualising the path of the breath as described above).   This is one round; do 12 rounds.

Suryanuloma pranayama (right nostril breathing) stimulates the surya nadi.   The technique is the same as the previous one only it is repeated on the right hand side.  So, using the same right hand (with the two fingers tucked in), press your thumb on your left nostril so it cannot take in any air and then exhale all the air from your lungs.  Next, breathe in through the right nostril for a count of 4 and breathe out of the same nostril for a count of 6 (at all times visualising the path of the breath as described above).   This is one round; do 12 rounds.

Nadi Shodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) stimulates the Susuma nadi.   Shodhana means ‘to cleanse’ and the Susuma nadi benefits the whole body bringing into harmony the left and right hemispheres of the brain which correlate to the logical (masculine) and emotional (feminine) sides of our mind.  Again, using the same right hand (with the two fingers tucked in), begin with the left nostril (by pressing the right nostril with your thumb) and breathe in for a count of 4, then using your ring finger, cover the left nostril and uncover the right nostril (releasing the thumb) and breathe out for a count of 6.  Then breathe in for a count of 4 through the same nostril.  Then cover that same (right) nostril with your thumb and breathe out of the left nostril for a count of 6.  This is one round; again do 12 rounds.

Among these various breathing techniques, Kapal Bhati pranayama (skin and skull shining) is considered the most important and effective for detoxifying the body and clearing the nadi energy channels.  This is done with free hands (so both hands held in chin mudra with the backs of the arms resting on the knees).  As ever, you begin by exhaling all the air from your lungs.  You then breathe in for a count of 4 and then you force all the air from your lungs out of your nose using your diaphragm. Do 50 forced exhalations in a row and repeat this four times. These rapid forced exhalations take the additional prana all around your body (enough to make your skin and skull shine).

If you are over thinking things or otherwise wish to calm your mind then find somewhere where you can make a bit of noise without disturbing anyone and try the Bhramari pranayama (bee breath). This breathing technique is also good for those with hypertension and/or anxiety issues.  Bhramari pranayama stimulates a group of nerves in the body which are beneficial for emotional well-being.  Again, with free hands, exhale all the air from your lungs and breathe in for a count of 4.  Then, ensuring your tongue is pressed as far back on the roof where the soft pallet is at, make a prolonged humming sound like a bee as you exhale.  Then breathe in for a count of 4 and breathe out for a count of 6.  This is one round; do 8 rounds.

The physiological effects of all these breathing techniques are stunning.  For example, pranayama has been shown to help the glands in your body function better.   Your glands serve to keep your body in a state of equilibrium (homeostasis) by setting hormone levels which affects the whole body mind cycle:  hormone levels affect the mind, the mind affects the breath, the breath affects circulation and circulation affects blood pressure.

The psychological benefits f all these breathing techniques are equally as impressive. With pranayama you get to unravel the many layers of the mind and, in so doing, you get know yourself.  When you know yourself you will love yourself.  When you love yourself you will see yourself in other people and your love in life will grow.

It is with little wonder, then, that pranayama is described as a ‘higher level’ of yoga in Patanjali’s yoga sutras.  Prana Vashya Yoga incorporates certain pranayama techniques in its series and it is the perfect accompaniment to pranayama. Pranayama classes will also be taught alongside yoga asana classes at the Prana Vashya Yoga School which opens on 10th February 2017.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Spaces at the Prana Vashya Yoga School are limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian:

Email: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com

Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/?ref=bookmarks

 

Increasing awareness / mindfulness

Awareness or mindfulness (vipashyana or shamata in Sanskrit) can bring inner peace; it is putting meditation into practice in your day-to-day life. With its unique emphasis on the breath and joining movement to breath, Prana Vashya Yoga is an ideal way of putting mindfulness into practice.  Mindfulness when practicing yoga asana, then, is moment to moment awareness of everything your body is doing in time with the breath.  Such awareness can be transferred into your daily life as you learn to control your attention.

Attention is like a spotlight and what your mind throws light upon shapes your brain. So developing greater control over attention is the single most powerful way to reshape the brain and therefore the mind.

To act with awareness in your daily life is to practice being mindful of all the things that you use to torture yourself with on a daily basis.  For example, becoming mindful by abandoning your expectations about the way you think things should be and what others may think of you.  By regularly practicing yoga you begin to develop awareness about the way things really are. This helps the mind to transcend, or settle beyond thought, into silence; that most powerful state of awareness.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Yoga School at 250 Queens Road, Leicester, LE2 3FU in February 2017.  Spaces will be limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com  Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/?ref=bookmarks

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How is holding a position whilst upside down good for me?

There are numerous postures which are held in an inverted position including Sarvangasana (shoulderstand), Shirshasana (headstand) and Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand); to name but a few.  What they have in common is that when the body is held upside down, it reverses the roles of most of the muscles in the body.  So, the muscles that are normally passive during exercise become active and vice versa.    In addition, when you are holding an inverted position, the diaphragm has to work against gravity when breathing.  This adds another dimension to the lungs movement when breathing and therefore increases the lungs mobility (which, in turn, increases the amount of oxygenated blood available).  Let’s look at these three postures:

Sarvangasana (shoulderstand)

This is known as the ‘queen of all postures’ for its effect on reversing the roles of the muscles in the body, as discussed above.  If I only had 10 minutes to do yoga for whatever reason, I would do this yoga asana. The foundation of the position is the shoulder line (not the neck) and it is essential that the elbows are in a little so that the shoulders come together and the scapulae find elevation.

Shirshasana (headstand)

This yoga asana stabilises the muscles in the body and releases tension from the torso, leaving muscles in an expanded state.  This is why it is the last yoga asana in the Prana Vashya sequence of postures.  When coming into this position, placing the weight towards the crown of the head makes for a more neutral spine and a better balanced position; as does fixing your vision point.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand)

This yoga asana shares the benefits of the two postures mentioned above.  It is essential to maintain the correct grounding of the hands with all the load of the body balancing equally upon them and not collapsing into the wrists.   Stillness of the mind and calmness of breath are equally important. This yoga asana, as with all inverted positions, should be perfected under the guidance of a qualified teacher before adopting the same in self-practice.  In addition, all inverted positions should be avoided by those practitioners with spinal issues, heart problems, hypertension and by women who are in their cycle.  Any practitioner with anxiety issues may also wish to avoid inverted positions if they cause discomfort.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Yoga School at 250 Queens Road, Leicester, LE2 3FU in February 2017.  Spaces will be limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com  Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/?ref=bookmarks

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How can yoga change my outlook on life?

Yoga helped me when I needed it the most.   Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the death of my beautiful wife; Kristy.  Kristy was my everything.  When you lose your soul mate in life, it forces you to face your own demons.   In the aftermath of my wife’s death, my thoughts were killing me.  With the help of a regular yoga practice, I came to realise that nothing else can really hurt me; no one can hurt me- that’s my job!   The cause of my suffering, therefore, was the way I was treating my thoughts.  Yoga helps you to put thoughts in perspective by teaching you to stay present and let go of unhealthy traits.  In this way, the sense of well being experienced during practice gradually transfers to your daily life.

Yoga, then, gave me a sense of inner peace in the turmoil and ended up changing my perspective on everything.   Before I knew it, I had quit my lucrative job as a high flying lawyer and started teaching yoga.

In Prana Vashya Yoga the main emphasis is your breath.  By concentrating on the breath – joining and expressing your every movement with each inhalation and exhalation – your body automatically starts to relax.  The parasympathetic nervous system is triggered so the muscles soften and the mind calms. Your thoughts become less and less and appear to slow down and you feel centered in your inner being.

So ask yourself: what are you spending your spiritual currency on in this life? Do you want to improve yourself? Do you want to be the change that you would like to see in the world? Or do you want to suffer or stay inactive – watching TV and playing violent computer games?  Personally, I think we can all better ourselves if we just take action now.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Yoga School at 250 Queens Road, Leicester, LE2 3FU in February 2017.  Spaces will be limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com  Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/?ref=bookmarks

Master Yogacharya Vinay Kumar

Master Yogacharya Vinay Kumar started practicing yoga at the age of 7 and started teaching yoga aged 11 or 12.   By the age of 17 Vinay had developed, and started teaching, his own style of yoga which he has appropriately called Prana Vashya.   Prana can be interpreted as meaning the breath or life force.  Vashya means control.  So Prana Vashya is about developing control over your life.  Therefore the intention behind Vinay’s Prana Vashya series is for the practitioner to develop calmness and stability in the mind, which effects the way we face life.

Vinay’s worldwide reputation as a Master Yogacharya speaks for itself, as does the fact that he has won (no less than 5 times!) the esteemed All India Champion of Champions yoga competition.

 

The benefits of twisting postures

Regular practice of yoga asanas (postures) that bring a twisting influence to the spine have many benefits.  Examples of twisting postures include the 3 versions of Marichyasana (see picture below).

Twisting postures release tension from the posterior extensor muscles (i.e. the collection of muscles in your back that support you when you stand and help you when you lift an object).   In so doing, the twisting postures also help a practitioner retain whatever flexibility has been gained in preceding postures (like forward bending and back bending positions).

The sequence of twisting postures in Prana Vashya Yoga is also designed to remove the negative influence of air.  Air is obviously a good thing when present in your lungs. However, when air is present in, for example, the gastrointestinal line, it is considered to be toxic.

The gastrointestinal line (“the GI Line”) is the pathway from the mouth to the oesophagus, through to the stomach, then down the small and large intestines and to the rectum.  Air can get trapped anywhere along the GI Line.  Once air has been in the body for 4 hours or more, it becomes apanic air (i.e. dead air) and is a toxin to the body.   The first version of Marichyasana (A) is a twisting posture that removes apanic air from the walls of the GI Line into the center. Marichyasana (B) compresses the lower aspect of the body to allow apanic air to escape from the start of the GI Line (as air always moves from higher pressure to lower pressure; like water always runs downhill).  Marichyasana (C) compresses the upper aspect of the body to allow apanic air to escape from the end of the GI Line.

By regularly practicing these 3 Marichyasana postures alone, you will gain better freedom in the GI Line, which results in better digestion and metabolism and you will be much less likely to develop any spinal issues in later life.   

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Yoga School at 250 Queens Road, Leicester, LE2 3FU in February 2017.  Spaces will be limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com  Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/?ref=bookmarks

 

 

The science of AUM

Aum (ॐ) or Omkar (ओंकार) – “AUM”, is a one word mantra (chant) which is the most powerful of all mantras. The Christian equivalent is Amen. Scientists have looked into this ancient mantra and observed that when AUM is chanted in a low tone (at least) five times in a row and in a prolonged manner, that the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s ‘rest and digest’ mode) is triggered, resulting in calmness in mind and body.  The cardiac function improves causing blood pressure to lower to an optimal level. Scientists have observed this using an electroencephalograph which measures the body’s Alpha rhythm (i.e. the regular electrical oscillations that occur in the human brain when you are awake and relaxed). As a result, you feel energised and you experience cheerfulness after chanting AUM.

Some scientists suggest that the AUM vibration is the same frequency as the earth itself.   In 1952 a German physicist called Schumann predicted and observed that there is a predominance of standing waves in the earth’s ionosphere which resonate at 7.8 Hz.  By comparison the Alpha rhythm in the human brain resonates at between 4 – 8 Hz. However, when AUM is chanted the Alpha waves tend to resonate at 7.8 Hz which means we resonate in perfect harmony with the planet earth when chanting AUM.  It is therefore very interesting to note that the ancient Sages of India described AUM as the sacred sound of creation at least 6,000 years ago!

With the above in mind, AUM is chanted five times by practitioners at the outset of Prana Vashya Yoga practice.   You have to keep straight (especially your spine) and stay relaxed and steady. For this reason it is good to take a minute or so to meditate in this position and clear / calm the mind before exhaling all the air in your lungs.  The AUM chant then begins by taking a steady, smooth, long breath in (ensuring that your tongue is pressed far back against the roof of your mouth) and then saying “Ooo” by opening the mouth for the first third of the exhalation.  Then you shut your lips slightly and the sound changes automatically to “Maa” for the remaining two-thirds of the exhalation (thus completing the AUM chant). The voice should be clear, smooth, and slightly melodious when chanting.  You should also visualise the vibrations moving up the spinal column from start to finish of the AUM chant. After all the air has been expelled from the lungs and the chant ceases, you should then pause a little before drawing in another smooth, long breath in to chant the next AUM (do not hurriedly inhale or else your lungs will create a vacuum effect and you will intake less air).

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Yoga School at 250 Queens Road, Leicester, LE2 3FU in February 2017.  Spaces will be limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com  Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/?ref=bookmarks

 

Stresses, strains and yoga

What gives the body energy (?); food and water?  But you can eat and drink sufficiently and yet still develop stresses and strains after a hard day’s work or after a session down the gym or whatever.  Why, then, does this happen if food and water alone are sufficient to provide us with energy to work without stress or strain?

A regular practice of Prana Vashya Yoga will work the muscle groups in your body independently and support their independent behavior.  This way muscles support the joints and tendons.  By training the muscle groups to work independently, they naturally develop stamina.  If a muscle group lacks the necessary stamina to cope with the demand being put on them then they will become fatigued.  Fatigued muscles cease to work and shift the load/weight into the nearest available joint.  The body’s joints are not supposed to take the load/weight without the support of the muscles.  The joint will then become strained.  The body will then stiffen the next day.  This is because the brain recognises the stress or strain put on the body and therefore stiffens the body to protect it from further like harm.

Training the muscles to work independently through regular practice of yoga asana, increases flexibility which reduces stresses on the foundation of the body’s structure.  In addition, by stablising the breath when exercising (something which is very much emphasised in Prana Vashya Yoga) this trains the nerves to resist stress formed in the activity.  This skill can be easily transferred into daily life, preparing us to face life in a confident way.  This has an obvious effect on mental well-being.     

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Yoga School at 250 Queens Road, Leicester, LE2 3FU in February 2017.  Spaces will be limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com  Tel: 0777 900 1896

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/?ref=bookmarks

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