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The Therapy of Yoga along my Way

My dear, youngest sister, perhaps one of the coolest and  most goofball people in the world has asked me to write a short article to present to her college class  about therapy through Yoga. Here it is. (I’m going to ask her to send me a pic of herself in a yoga pose…and if you’re reading this to the class Madeline, I cordially invite you to lead them in chanting Om three times with your hands together at your heart. :))


Let me first tell you that the applications of Yoga for therapy are limitless really. Look at any kind of yoga practice; poses, breathing, or meditation. What is really happening there? You are practicing being consciously aware of yourself and choosing how to be in that environment. The general therapeutic affect of any of these practices is that you become skilled at perceiving yourself presently, perhaps curious to discover if there is still yet some broader capacity for that perception, and empowered by realizing that you can  choose how to be in yourself with any situation, at any moment, and in a way that is genuinely healing to your whole body-mind system more and more often. This healing increases your senses and energy which creates a feedback loop increasing your ability to perceive yourself and the inter connectivity of life. You can choose to be calm. You can choose to energize yourself. You can choose to love yourself and others unconditionally. You may not feel that immediately but you can choose to move in the right direction. The more aware you become of the relationship between these aspects; your breath, mind, and body(in movements or repose) the more you realize how infinite you are.

Yoga is a healing modality that creates balance and transformation. Sometimes people may become obsessive about how to heal from a certain ailment or malady. They focus so hard upon what ails them and their energy becomes consumed in a downward spiral. By Yoga practice you expand your awareness to explore your boundaries. What is the mobility of my body? What is the capacity of this breath in this position? In? Out? How long before the tendencies of my mind interrupt my silence? This expansion of awareness is akin to taking stock on all your resources or being the manager of all your systems and behaviors. Healing which really lasts comes from the intelligence provided by observing yourself and choosing those things which you intuitively feel are bringing you towards well-being. As all things are connected, a positive change in one aspect of your life or relationships can lead to healing in another.

Yoga teaches you the value of retreat, of rest, of times of reflection or integrating your recent experiences. This is the principle in the practice of the corpse pose everyone loves at the end of physical yoga practices. When you get into Yoga you’ll find your skill at relaxing increases. Relaxation is a skill, but it’s a skill of not doing anything. How do you keep entertained like that? Observe yourself. Can you feel your heart beat? Can you feel it in your veins? Can you feel it in your little toes? How about your nervous system? Maybe normally you don’t think of “feeling” your nervous system but how do you feel energetically; serene, agitated, sensitive, dull, blissful? As you observe these things and your own breathing can you feel subtle shifts in your mind? What was that, a thought, or something more subtle? Going into these deep states of relaxation is tapping into the natural healing and restorative intelligences of your mind-body systems. They are pro at this. They just need your attention and they get even better at what they were made for…to help you feel love, to give and receive love.

For me yoga has helped me overcome emotional pains, give up destructive behaviors, increased my self worth, healed minor injuries, given my life purpose, and made me very enthusiastic about exploring the possibilities with a positive attitude for myself and the world. I can do it so well I can even gently subdue my  rational mind and believe “unbelievable” things. Not because I really want to think that they are real, but because I want to see what happens to me when I do. And maybe… because somethings don’t become true, until you believe in them.

George Anthony IV

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World Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive Experience

This is what I wore…when I was walking home I ran into a friend that asked if this was me “dressed up”. I said, “I guess so…”

Have you even done something purely from the feeling that it’s just the right thing to do? Most of the time I seem to be living that way, trusting my intuition, even if my rational mind might have some questions about the particular undertaking. Through connections, and perhaps that kind of inner-listening guiding me, I came to be invited to what is considered a very auspicious event created by the World Siddha Yoga Organization, which practices yoga through meditation, chanting, and devotion to Bhagavan Nityananda and his lingeage through Bhagavan Muktananda, to “Guru Mayi”, the current living master.

The event, the Shaktipat Intensive, of the organization is a day long practice of meditation and chanting lead by a local host and video recordings. The shaktipat is said to be delivered by the intentions, or sankalpa, of Guru Mayi. Shaktipat is literally “descending power” or grace from the guru that awakens ones’ spiritual yearning for unity consciousness, or the divine energy called Kundalini. A general belief about shaktipat, or finding gurus in general, is that it comes to those that are ready to receive it and in a way that is assimilable within the context of the practitioner’s understanding their own notion of surrender. This is a good question to ask ones’ self in my opinion. “What is surrender to me?” The resulting feelings points very deep towards the nature of yourself and shows the shape shifting tendency of the ego.

Of the three Gurus within the Siddha Yoga tradition I feel the most acknowledgement towards Nityananda, said to be born enlightened, even before I knew that many of the practices in Siddha Yoga focus on his form, life story, and teachings. His form is curious…Particularly, I repeatedly noticed how long and rectangular his fingernails were in the pictures…and I don’t mean the haven’t been cut for months kind of long…I mean starting from his last knuckle kind of long. In a “rare” video he walks in an odd shifting manner with one elbow drawn far back. His story is interesting, with many accounts of miracles and good works. The theme of this Intensive is from his words…

“The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.”

Much more could be said about all of that but I’ve kept it brief. I’d really like to say just enough to give some background for my experience.

The meditation practices were led from the recording with either chanting or some spiritual talks’ and Nityananda’s face being displayed. We had four sessions throughout the day with breaks in between for eating and silent reflection. It was all done in the very accommodating and stately environment of the host’s residence and the food was impeccable.

In the first session my focus shifted frequently. I moved through cycles of doubt about how I should practice, release, and then acceptance of my present experience, and then arriving in some deeper place of stillness for a short time before repeating the process. Something peculiar that I’ve never really experienced happened after a few rounds of this. My right shoulder began to throw my elbow about sometimes in small sways and then bigger swings. It seemed to happen completely involuntarily every time I shifted from thought to relative stillness in my mind.

Once during practice I opened my eyes to look at Nityananda on the screen. I felt like some optical zoom affect happened with my vision and my head started to pull forwards and then down as my eyes stayed up.

During the second round after chanting “Om Nama Shivaya” I experienced more… trembles in the area of my pelvic floor and once or twice “electrical” feelings in my body. The swaying arm returned more energetic sometimes causing my torso to move. I prayed to my guru, the Universe, through the forms of these three portrayed manifestations of that…I prayed for health and the love between my girlfriend and I to grow with purity and be a source of joyousness that energizes us to love and serve others. I prayed for all beings to be loved. Many images came.

During the third round I couldn’t stay in lotus anymore. There was a pain developing in my left lower back. I put my left leg in seated warrior and felt much better and felt some of the deepest moments in this round.The most clarity I’ve maybe ever felt in meditation. I felt that temporarily “gone” sensation that’s only ever happened to me once before but this one seemed longer or farther away. Twice it felt like something poked me softly in the back…  What was that? There were other subtle experiences which I don’t have language for… This round was also hard to process in some aspects.

The last round was chanting again for about 40 minutes with a shorter meditation. This made me feel very good. When I made my journal notes on it I just remarked how happy I was about my life and all the decisions I’ve been making and the direction I’m going. I wanted to be more encouraging to people to take care of themselves and look within their  hearts for love.

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Add Flavor to your Asana with Mudras

Mudra is a term most commonly referring to gestures with the hands. More broadly it signifies a seal. Many mudras are ingrained culturally and speak much of the way humans around the world relate to each other in different ways. Sometimes are hands say more than the mouth! Consider how much you can tell about a person by how and where they place their hands. Yoga uses Mudra as a concentration technique, to invoke certain qualities of consciousness, and to stimulate the energetic systems. Keeping the fingers placed in these fascinating gestures requires a heightened sense of kinesthetic awareness that can lead you more naturally into meditative states.

Chin Mudra is most often used for meditation and contains special significance. The thumb, representing cosmic consciousness, is met by the index finger which represents the individual. When you practice mudras, keep a light steady contact with your connecting digits. The free fingers extend out as much as you want while maintaining that graceful poise that let’s you enjoy the unique feeling of your hands.

Joint Mudra                           Chin Mudra                         Apan Mudra

 

 

 

The hands relate to our whole body in the Chinese Medicine system and reflexolgy. Mudras are said to activate specific types of healing when practiced regularly. In my personal experience, mudras can change the feeling of subtle internal energies. When used during an Asana practice they can increase our sensitivity to the alignment of the larger joints of the body and how we are using our muscles. Here are two of my favorites.

Joint Mudra in Warrior II  helps to open the shoulders and creates an anchored drishti.

Chin Mudra in this modified Side Angle makes us feel more alert.

Look for more interesting combinations to come!

Namaste

 

 

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