Archive for ‘health and fitness’

July 8, 2012

Surya Namaskar Mantra…1

Surya Namaskar Mantra…Part One.
Having gone through the movements and the breath in conjunction with the movements, we are ready to learn and utilise the power of the Surya Namaskar mantra. But before we go into the specifics let us have a basic understanding of what a mantra is.
‘A mantra can be defined as word(s) believed to be of super human origin, received, fashioned and spoken by the inspired seers, poets and recited in order to evoke divine power(s) and especially conceived as a means to creating, converging, concentrating and realising intentional and efficient thought or coming into touch or identifying oneself with the essence of the divinity which is present in the mantra.’ ( Gonda:255)
Mantra is a word, or more precisely  sound vibration that has the power to transform our state of mind. It can be in the form of a single syllable, a string or group of words.It comprises of three aspects: the shakti or the driving force, the beej or seed syllable/potential of the mantra and the keel which binds the mantra to the purpose that it is intended.
Any mantra is a tool used by the mind to free itself from its fluctuating nature. It has a deep effect on the body/ mind as well as the surroundings.It is believed that the human body with its various organs is made up of different frequencies of sound that emit unique vibrations. The strength of these vibrations are dependent on the kinds of thoughts we think and the nature of our emotions on a day to basis.Also, the subconscious mind with its primitive consciousness and storage of old memories exists  throughout the physical and subtle bodies which alters the nature of the overall vibration.The  focused, dedicated use of specific mantra has the capacity to cut through crystillised thoughts and emotions stored at the cellular level and bring about deep healing and total transformation. This is experienced as peace, centeredness, harmony and one-ness.
Chanting of mantra has to be done with the correct intonation and the appropriate breath for maximum benefit. That is why it is requested that chanting is to be learned from authentic sources.When chanted with intention mantra has the capacity to bring forth unwavering  focus, deep clarity, intense healing and transformative energy. It is a potential conciousness elevator.
The Surya Namaskar mantra is one of the oldest and most used in the yoga context. It comprises of the six beej mantra as well as the twelve salutatory chant that extoll the virtues of the Sun. The beej mantras have no meaning as such but they are coded energy that have tremendous tranformative capacity.  It is believed that when Divinity manifested in the physical plane It did so in the form of sound and light energy. Beej mantra represent specific aspects of divine energy in its most potent form.
Each beej mantra vibrationally represents a particular attribute of a deity. When we focus our intention on these qualities, chant and move our limbs with the corresponding breath, then the vibrations of these mantras have the capacity to transform us at the celluar level and raise our consciousness to higher planes of being.
The six beej mantras in surya namaskar are chanted either alone or in conjunction with the main mantra. They always begin with the prefix ‘om’, the pranava mantra which is considered the primordial sound vibration of the cosmos. The order in which the beej mantra are chanted are:
Om hram  (acts as a stimulus to the brain, heart, alimentary canal, respiratory organs such as nose, windpipe, throat, lungs and chest and upper ribs.)
Om hrim  (invigorates the throat, palate, heart, respiratory and digestive organs.)
Om hrum  (strengthens the liver, spleen, stomach abdomen, hypogastria, uterus and intestines.)
Om hraim  (stimulates kidneys.)
Om hraum  (normalizes the function of the rectum and anus.)
Om hrah  (develops the chest and throat.)
The Pranava Om stimulates all the vital internal organs of the body, especially the brain, heart and stomach.
Begin each repetition of the sun salutation with one beej mantra or better still, relate each posture to its corresponding mantra. Since there are twelve postures in a complete sun salutation, the beej mantra which are six in number, have to be repeated twice.
When strapped for time or wanting a quicker, more physical rendition, many practitioners make do with performing the sun salutation with the beej mantras only. Let this not become a habit as the benefits that arise from chanting the whole set of the surya namaskar mantra are incomparable and should not be sacrificed at the altar of instant gratification!
April 13, 2012

Surya Namaskar 15 Yoga

Today, April 13th, the Sun moves into Aries where it is exalted. It will remain in this Zodiac sign until May 14 (ET). This is the sign where the Sun has its most power and strength. It is celebrated as the real New Year in cultures that are in deep connection with the rhythm of Mother Nature. This is the time when the energy of renewal, rejuvenation and hope manifest strongly in us and all around us.So it is synchronous that this Surya Namaskar blog posting that started on the Summer Solstice, continued on Spring Equinox should culminate on this very special day.
Position 12: Pranam asana.
From Hasta Padasana, the 11th position, bring your arms down, palms in anjali mudra,(prayer position) in front of your chest,in contact with the sternum. This is the last and the first position of the Sun salutation. You have come a full circle. Your body is straight, completely balanced and relaxed. Your breath is flowing evenly; your mind is focused and alert. This posture denotes steadiness on completion and readiness on commencement.The whole movement is done on an exhale.
The focus is on the anahata chakra, the heart center.
Points of reference:
There are two ways of bringing the arms down. One is by seperating the palms and describing a full circle, allowing the palms to once again meet up in front of the heart region. It is as if you are sketching the sun energetically and paying the ultimate homage of gratitude.
The other way is to bring the clasped hands straight down to the heart center. It is as if you are guiding the higher energy to descend into your anahat chakra.
There is no right and wrong way. Do whatever you feel guided to do.
As you have seen, you start with the focus on the Anahata (Position 1) and end with the focus on the same chakra,(Position 12). The Anahata is the chakra of unconditional love and compassion. The symbolism here is that it is the energy of Love that has the power to move and transform. You are ‘full unto yourself’. Therefore, all you are capable of is to give and radiate this effulgent energy! You are now guided by your Inner Sun…supreme and magnificent in your inner radiance…a source of light to all whom you encounter in this journey of Life!
The Chant: om bhaskaraya namaha: Salutations to He who bestowes lustre; who leads to enlightenment.
On this wonderful note, namaste!
More postings on the pranayama sequence, the mantras and their effectiveness will happen after a short break.
April 10, 2012

Surya Namaskar 14 Yoga


 
Position 11: Hasta uttanasana ( Raised arms pose)
With  your body weight evenly distributed on both your feet lift your arms, face, chest and stretch up to the skies. Allow your spine to arch back slightly. This is a deep stretch, not a back bend. Your palms can be held together as in a namaste position for more intense work on the spine, the laterals and upper shoulders or the arms can  be parrellel to each other with the palms facing up.
The movement is done on an inhale as the whole body opens up to receive prana, the life breath.
The focus is on the vishuddhi chakra, your throat center,accessing deep energy to radiate your unparalleled uniqueness.
Points of interrest:
Just remember: as you come out of uttanasana with your arms extended ahead of you, the centre of gravity shifts. Your arms become a dead weight that needs effort from the back of the legs and lower back to be lifted up.
If your lower back is weak and your hamstrings ( the back of your legs) are extremely tight or weak, allow your knees to relax a bit as you lift your torso and arms upwards. Straighten your knees when your arms reach the final position.
If all is well with your back and hamstrings then keep both your arms close to the respective ears, fully extended forward, with the elbows straight. Next, move your arms and torso smoothly into ardha uttanasana (half lift) and continue to complete the posture in one single inhale. Utilise the natural upward movement of the inhale breath to lift your upper body and arms. Allow your mind to be focused on breathing with the movement. You will experience the sheer exhilaration of effortessness happening in you. When the body, mind and breath move together in a synchronised flow,the spirit celebrates!
The chant: om hroum arkaya namaha - which means Salutations to Him who is fit to be worshipped as the very essence of vitality; who is the remover of impurities and afflictions.
April 2, 2012

Surya Namaskar 13 Yoga

Position 10 – Uttanasana (complete forward bend)
From ashwa sanchalanasana bring your head down towards the knees as you step the back foot (right or left) forward to join the other foot. Palms placed on the ground on either sides of your feet.This is uttanasana, sometimes referred to as padahastasana. The movement is done on an exhale. Though position 9 to 10 just seem as a reversal in movement from position 3 to 4, only the postures   are the same but not the process, nor the sequence of movements, nor the state of your mind. Here you are moving in from an open to closed position, the breath is from inhale to exhale and the mind is more inward oriented, deepening from the physical (asana) to the mental/emotional (pranayama) and the withdrawal of the senses towards the inner environment (pratyahara.)
As before, the focus is on the swadishtana chakra, the hara centre.
Points of interest:
If the back of the thighs, the hamstrings or the upper back is feeling stiff, allow your knees top ‘give’ a little to relax the stiffness. Hold your ankles or chin bones. Use the breath to deepen the posture. As you exhale take your abdomen in and up into a kind of a natural uddiyana bandha. Helps to strengthen the abdominals and intensify the forward stretch.But before you inhale into the next posture remember to relax your abdomen. It will be much easier for the diaphgram to allow expansion if the abdominal muscles are relaxed.
Also, when you step the foot forward to join the other foot, maintain a small distance between the two feet. This will help you to distribute your weight equally on both your feet and lend stability for you to move into the next position.
Dont bounce the body to enable you to touch the ground! Work with the breath and flow with the movement for the desired results to occur. Simply enjoy the deep stretch from your heels, calves, hamstrings, lowerback, spine and your full arms. And remember, with each repetition of the sun salutation, your body will be more relaxed and flexible.
Do not be in a hurry to reach an imagined perfect posture. You will only hurt yourself and delay your progress.

Touch the earth with reverence. Feel your connection to the feminine energy expressed in the exhale breath.

Yoga is all about unravelling the mystery of who you are! Enjoy the inward journey;linger here and there to savour the changing scenes being painted on your inner canvas. Experience the awe of your radiance.

The chant: om hraim savitre namaha- salutations to Him who is beneficent; who produces everything.

March 31, 2012

SuryaNamaskar-12 -yoga

9th Position: Ashwa Sanchalanasana ( equestrian pose)
Now, lift your head and look through your hands to focus on the spot where you want to place your left foot. Do not lift the foot to bring it between your hands. You may find yourself locked in an awkward position. On the other hand, make a forward movement, as if you are rocking on your toes and allow the foot to glide forward into ashwa sanchalanasana (equestrian pose). Or else, visualise the movement as happening in your body.Allow your muscles to record your visualisation at the cellular level; now physically let your body replicate your visualisation. You will be amazed at how well your body responds! This is the power of deep visualisation techniques.
As you inhale,lift your face and chest  Allow your spine and limbs to stretch the new found energy in an attitude of deep celebration. Focus on your ajna chakra, the third eye centre, the space of spiritual awakening,corresponding to the pituitary and pineal glands.
A few points of interest:
 Avoid using your hand to physically move the leg forward at all times, more so if you are a beginner. Its a tricky, awkward balancing moment.The whole point of yoga is to honour and respect your body and understand what it is telling you about your mental -emotional structure. Achieving the posture at all cost, any-which-way is not important. Knowing your limitation and working on it is the way to real progress. As you go deeper and deeper and work with your body and breath and learn to let go, you will find that soon you will be moving into the posture more gracefully and completly. Ahimsa, non-violence, begins with the body! Making your body do something forcibly, when it is not ready for it is the worst form of himsa which will get translated at an energetic level asintolerence and violence, to yourself and to your environment.
Some practitioners bring the same foot that they used to step back in the 4th position forward in the 9th position, i.e. if they  had moved the right foot back then the same foot is brought forward. The advantage here is that there is no confusion in the usage of which leg was used to move into the sun salutation; makes keeping track of the number of repetitions easier! More importantly,at the physical level, both sides of the body get deeply stretched on either side of the spine. Symmetry and balance is achieved with every repetition. The body experiences a total ‘work out’.
Another way of doing this is: when you take the right foot back in the 4th posture at the begining of a sun salutation, you bring the left foot forward in the 9th position. The purpose here is to work on both the masculine and feminine energy in every repetion and make things whole and complete at the energetic level. Note that any movement on the right side of the body is controlled by the left (male) hemisphere of the brain and any movement on the left side of the body is controlled by the right ( feminine) hemisphere of the brain. Therefore, when both legs are used in this manner, equal importance is given to expressing the yin-yang, shiva-shakti composition within. A sense of poornatvam, wholeness, is experienced at the energy level. It is up to the practitioners to decide whether they want to focus on the physical or energetic level and create their  practise accorgingly.
Chant: om hroom adityaya namaha…salutations to the son of Aditi, Mother Earth.
June 19, 2011

books i have loved … osho 8/8

Books spoken about in Session 15:

1. My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
2. Confessions by Saint Augustine
3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
4. The Art of Tantra by Ajit Mukherjee
5. The Tantra Paintings by Ajit Mukherjee
6. Bhaj Govindam Moodh Mate by Adi Shankaracharya
7. Philosophical Papers by Ludwig Wittgenstein
8. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps
9. Zen Buddhism by Christmas Humphries
10. The Songs of Chandidas by Chandidas

Books spoken about in Session 16:

1. My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
2. Confessions by Saint Augustine
3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
4. The Art of Tantra by Ajit Mukherjee
5. The Tantra Paintings by Ajit Mukherjee
6. Bhaj Govindam Moodh Mate by Adi Shankaracharya
7. Philosophical Papers by Ludwig Wittgenstein
8. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps
9. Zen Buddhism by Christmas Humphries
10. The Songs of Chandidas by Chandidas

June 18, 2011

SuryaNamaskar-9-yoga

The postures of Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation- a deeper insight.

6. Ashtanga namaskar – 8 limbed salutation

The Posture: Also called sashtanga namaskar ( complete salutation). From adho mukha svanasana ( downward face dog) lower your knees,chest and  chin to the floor in that order; the sit muscles are lifted with the abdomen off the floor.As a variation, instead of the chin, touch the forehead to the floor.
The Breath: Bahya kumbhaka …moving into the posture on a hold after complete exhale.
The attitude: Total surrender
The focus: On the Manipura chakra
The understanding: When you have completely emptied yourself of emotional baggage, psychological debris and engraved memories at a cellular level, you create the space for surrender to happen;

The chant: om (hraha) pushne namaha – ‘hraha’ being the beeja or seed syllable that is purely vibrational in nature.
The mantra meaning:Salutations to the giver of strength and nourishment.

Benefits at the -

Physical Level: Works deeply on core muscles; strengthens limbs
Mental Level: Sense of unification; letting go.
Energetic Level: Integration of the energy centers; moving beyond fragmentation of Self.
Spiritual Level: Experiencing the dropping of the small ‘i’.


June 17, 2011

SuryaNamaskar-8-yoga

The postures of Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation- a deeper insight.

5. Adho mukha svanasana – downwardface dog posture

The Posture: From ashwa sanchalanasana  (equestrian pose) step the left foot back, simultaneously lifting your hip upwards, so that the sit bones are pointing up.Keep your knees as straight as possible; drop the heels towards the floor; ( do not force this extension ; allow the hamstrings to relax naturally). Lower your head between your hands. Press your palms into the floor and extend your spine.

One of the few postures that allows for the tri-bandhas or energy locks- mula, uddiyana, jalandahra bandha- to be practised simultaneously.

The Breath: Deep exhalation, tucking the abdomen in and up after the complete exhalation.
The attitude: One of turning within even as you remain deeply rooted.
The focus: Vishuddhi chakra – the Throat Center- releasing energy to express one’s uniqueness.
The understanding: Moving into the fifth element-akasha or space- refining one’s personal evolution;connecting to your center, gathering and radiating innate energy.

The chant: om (hraoum) khagaya namaha – ‘hraoum’ being the beeja or seed syllable that is purely vibrational in nature.
The mantra meaning: Salutations to the one who moves through the sky, connoting the energy of activity.

Benefits at the -

Physical Level: Very deeply stretches the spine and the hamstrings. Works on the abdominal muscles through the breath.
Mental Level: Helps to focus; the beginning of pratyahara, the inward turn that frees you from external distractions
Energetic Level: Gathers you at the center. Helps seal dissipating energy.
Spiritual Level: Increase the spiritual fire. Helps redirect, channelize energy.

Wonder, silence, gratitude

one who is going upstream ......

one who is going upstream ......

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