I would like to share with you my studies and experiences in the realm of Ayurveda. I beseech you to ask me questions so that I may better learn the answers myself and to be patient with me as I step along this path... this journey is to me a very blessed one and I am hoping that as we learn this science of life together we may in fact grow more closely together.
In the many years that I have been practicing yoga and studying Ayurveda, I have repeatedly observed that lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and daily routine, can be a potent source of healing as well as a cause of disease. Many health problems seem intertwined with the stresses of daily life, family and relationship problems, and worries about job and money. Others are directly connected to eating the wrong kinds of food or getting too much or too little exercise. I have also grown more and more aware that illness provides us with an invitation for self-transformation, an opportunity to change our way of thinking, feeling, eating, and in general caring for ourselves and our lives. It never ceases to amaze and delight me how quickly and powerfully life can be set on the right track and balance restored simply through a proper diet, herbal medicines, meditation, an appropriate exercise program, and other purely natural means.
The remedies and notes in this blog come from my own personal experience and studies, based on principles and practices developed over centuries. The tradition of Ayurveda extends back over more than five thousand years of continuous daily practice, from ancient times to the present day. It is not a recently developed system of “alternative healing” but an enduring science of life that has never lost its integrity and essential nature. You can imagine how much wisdom it contains and how much practical knowledge it has accumulated over a span of five millennia!
The great sage-physician Charaka, one of the founders of Ayurvedic medicine, said, “A physician, though well versed in the knowledge and treatment of disease, who does not enter into the heart of the patient with the virtue of light and love, will not be able to heal the patient.” To the best of my ability, as I continue my own self-education and as I share with you what I have learned, I will follow this advice and I would urge you to follow it in using this knowledge to help others and to heal yourself.
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
Yoga Therapy: Unlocking the Hidden Vitality"
by Antonio Sausys
What is Yoga Therapy?
This article originally appeared in the April 2006 edition of 'Yogi Times'
It's widely known that Yoga can enhance your physical and emotional well being, but when Yoga is practiced with a therapeutic intention in the form of Yoga Therapy, it can help prevent and aid recovery from physical and mental ailments. Yoga has long been practiced with therapeutic intentions as way of transforming both the body and the mind.
According to classical texts, most of the problems in our health come from a state of ignorance of who and what we are. By offering a vehicle for self-knowledge, yoga provides an opportunity to become acquainted with our essence, in tune with the Oracle at Delphi's command: "Know thyself." From a psychological standpoint, therapy is defined as the possibility of accessing self-knowledge that will enable us to change that what we consider dysfunctional. A number of research studies have proven the effectiveness of Yoga Therapy as developing exactly that type of awareness.
The applications of Yoga Therapy range anywhere from maintaining health, to recovering from illness - in some cases, even those considered incurable. The first stage of healing involves the movement of vital forces in the system. Practitioners of many Eastern forms of medicine believe that every illness involves a certain level of energy blockage. By promoting the flow of prana, or vital force, yoga combats those blockages, restoring the basic condition for health. Common applications for Yoga Therapy also serve structural problems such as spine misalignments or joint function. Deeper applications may even aid more intractable problems such as AIDS and cancer.
By combining different techniques such as massage, stretching or alterations of the circulatory patterns, yoga promotes specific changes in muscles, joints and organs altering the vital functions of the body. A good example would be the way Yoga Therapy can help overcome panic attacks. By practicing a balancing breathing technique, a sense of control is gained, combating the fear and anxiety produced by its loss. Additionally, by practicing Tratak, a specific technique that involves eye movement, the pituitary gland is reset via the optic nerve, influencing the 'fight or flight' reaction so intimately related with the syndrome.
On a psychological level, the introspection promoted by yoga is essential to the self-knowledge process that fuels psychic transformation. The different relaxation techniques allow the troubled mind to calm and decrease its activity while promoting stability. Yoga considers the psyche to be spread in different centers along the body (chakras). Each related to a nervous plexus, an endocrine gland, an organ or group of organs and specific psychic qualities. By acting upon the chakras, yoga brings light to any psychic blockages, making them available to the conscious mind. The modern western correlate of this scheme is in the core of psycho-neuroimmunology, a branch of psychology that studies the interaction between the nervous, endocrine and immune systems, explaining some of the subtle mechanisms of psychosomatic medicine.
The fact that the different branches of science are now acknowledging that everything in the universe works together with absolute, intimate and exquisite interrelationship is part of the basis of the increasing success and respect that Yoga Therapy is gaining among main stream medical practitioners. As more clinicians use these techniques either for themselves of or their patients, and as more masters design specific applications of yoga, the spectrum of Yoga Therapy grows exponentially.
More than following just one style or one branch of yoga, Yoga Therapy feeds from virtually all styles and branches, combining the tools that each one of them bring in the design of a yoga sadhana, or a routine that addresses the given condition. Even though different Yoga Therapists follow different procedures to establish the sadhana, a pretty general scheme would first determine the condition to be treated, and then an evaluation of person's general abilities. Then the appropriate techniques can be chosen from the various disciplines which best serve the therapeutic process.
At last, the logistical aspects of the execution of the sadhana should be determined, such as order of practice and number of repetitions. The person then can practice this sadhana on his or her own, or receive the expert guidance of a Yoga Therapist. The sadhana is then updated according to the progress that the student accomplishes.
The integration of mind and body is very important for the healing process, but perhaps the main area where yoga comes in handy is the inclusion of the 'spiritual' realm into the equation. Even if the student or patient belongs to no religion, or even if she or he does not acknowledge the existence of spirit, the practice of some of these techniques can eventually integrate this aspect of the self
After all, the Earth is spinning, and it needs not our acknowledgment, nor it does it need us to push it!
♬ Music to Move You ♬
Music suggestions for Vinyasa Flow, Hatha Yoga, Osho's Dynamic/Transcendental Yoga, and Meditation.
Random Types * Breakthrough * Chakra Healing Chants * Yoga Chill * Yoga Moods * Yoga Rhythms * Yoga Sol * Tantric Chill *
Asian Underground * TJ Rehmi * DJ Cheb I Sabbah * DJ Pathaan * Dum Dum Project * Nitin Sahwney * Bill Laswell * Ustad Sultan Khan's RARE Elements
Rhythm * Layne Redmond * Gabrielle Roth * John Dekadt * KDZ: The Drummers at Kripalu LIVE * Shaman's Dream * Tumbara * Glen Velez * Joel Virgel * Alcyone and Suzanne Sterling * Hi-Fidelity Dub Series
Kirtan * Jai Uttal * Bhagavan Das * Krishna Das * Donna DeLory * Wah! * Benjy & Heather Wertheimer and Shantala * Steve Ross * Govindas * Ashana
Lunar Music * Steve Gorn * Manose * Sivakumar * Uwe Neumann * Shaman's Dream * Dharma Moon * Al Gromer Kahn * PC Davidoff * Sheila Chandra * Ben Leinbach
Well :) I opened a yoga studio in Cusco, Peru. Lately, people have been trying to find me here, looking for classes, etc... so I thought I'd post that information here, just in case. Come find me at YogaWasi!
+51 961 369 218 (cell & whatsapp)
There's a book called Yoga Anatomy, by Leslie Kaminoff. Let me tell you about it...
Originally when I purchased this book and attempted to read it, I was pretty new to yoga and anatomy. Because of this, it was actually difficult for me to follow along. Since taking a college anatomy course I find the book absolutely necessary in my yoga studies. I especially love how the writer ties the concept of anatomy to the foundation of yoga philosophy. I'm not quite through with the book yet, so I will continue to update you as I go along and finally rate it between 1 and 5. 1 meaning that I think you could live without it and 5 meaning you must take a gander at it.
Here's a nice quote from the chapter about tadasana:
"Nothing lasting can be built on a shaky foundation. This may be why tadasana is considered by many yoga traditions to be the starting point of asana practice..... the foot has evolved over millions of years in a world with no roads or sidewalks. In today's world in which many uneven surfaces have been leveled and paved, it's clearly over-engineered. When the adaptability of the foot is no longer needed for locomotion, the deeper muscles that support the arches inevitably weaken, eventually leaving only the superficial, non-contractile plantar fascia responsible for preventing the total collapse of the foot. This frequently leads to plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. The practice of standing postures in general, and tadasana in particular, is one of the best ways to restore the natural aliveness, strength, and adaptability of the feet. Once your foundation is improved, it's much easier to put the rest of your house in order."
Click on the following button and you'll be able to take a look inside the book yourself and even read a few pages from it on Amazon.com. Enjoy!
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. - Rumi
The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga
Niyama: personal observances
Asana: seat or posture
Pranayama: breath control, development of energy
Pratyahara: sense withdrawl
Samadhi: absorption, enlightenment
My thoughts are on my mother and grandmother at the moment... the loss of them and the process of recovering from that loss... or rather, the current moment and it's appearance due to that loss.
"The psyche knows how to heal, but it hurts. Sometimes the healing hurts more than the initial injury, but if you can survive it, you'll be stronger, because you've found a larger base. Every commitment is a narrowing and when that commitment fails, you have to get back to a larger base and have the strength to hold to it."
I read that yesterday and it made me think of all that has happened since losing the two women who played the largest roles in my life. It made me wonder about this "larger base". What does "larger base" mean? Can it be a place? Does tragedy result in strength? Is it possible that all is going to be okay?
I sat with those thoughts a bit.... contemplating whether Cusco was supposed to be a part of that "larger base" or not. Contemplating whether or not I am doing the right thing... settling here, breathing normally again, pausing my adventures around the world.
Joseph Campbell once wrote:
"Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called "the love of your fate." Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, "this is what I need." It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment - not discouragement - you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.
Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You'll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes."
This day, four years ago, was the day my mother was in a car accident that eventually took her life and soul out of this world. She took her final breath, on her own, in literally about 10 more minutes, 3:31 pm, four years ago. It feels so crazy to write that. And it feels even crazier that I am able to breathe right now. For so many years this day has come around and I have found myself unable to breathe, unable to sit still, unable to look at anything beautiful without crying, unable to feel loved.
But, this year is different. I am still sad. I still have this tension in my chest, like tears welling up that need to seep from my eyes eventually, but it's not so painful. What I find the most amazing is the journey to this point. The tears shed, the adventures, the letting go, emotionally, physically, etc. The base finally forming like strong steady stone beneath my feet instead of like an ocean of tears.
The yogi principle of non-attachment has been my mantra for as long as I can remember. This concept that everything is temporary. Nothing lasts. Death is inevitable. However, of course, when something or someone is snatched from you, as a human, it is a natural reaction to grasp at it a little tighter and to crave its presence. It's that craving though that causes the suffering. It's the suffering that causes the numbness that sometimes cynically follows. And yet, somehow, there's supposedly a balance that can evolve from the tragedies. One can find gratitude in all the temporary.
I think I've finally reached that point where I am able to feel gratitude for the tragedies, and love for the experiences, for the results.
Because my mother lost her life like she did, when she did... because my 8 year relationship ended suddenly and without warning a couple months later, because I lost all the family I felt I really had since most had been non-participatory in my life... because of the depression and sadness... I was able to leave the country and end up here.
I am now here. Present. Awake. Open-Hearted.
And to be honest, there's nowhere else I'd rather be. I feel very lucky. I feel very blessed. I feel very strong. I feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair and I simply desire nothing more than another June 25th. Another memory. Another breath. Another day.
The dark night of the soul
comes just before revelation.
When everything is lost,
and all seems darkness,
then comes the new life
and all that is needed.
A spirit that lives in this world
and does not wear the shirt of love,
such an existence is a deep disgrace.
Be foolishly in love,
because love is all there is.
There is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.
If someone asks, But what is love?
answer, Dissolving the will.
True freedom comes to those
who have escaped the questions
of freewill and fate.
Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him.
He barely notices their tumbling game.
Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
for that way of being.
How long do you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.
Anything born in spring dies in the fall,
but love is not seasonal.
With wine pressed from grapes,
expect a hangover.
But this love path has no expectations.
You are uneasy riding the body?
Dismount. Travel lighter.
Wings will be given.
Be clear like a mirror
Be clean of pictures and the worry
that comes with images.
Gaze into what is not ashamed
or afraid of any truth.
Contain all human faces in your own
without any judgement of them.
Be pure emptiness.
What is inside that? you ask.
Silence is all I can say.
Lovers have some secrets
that they keep.
“Isn’t it time
to turn your heart
into a temple of fire?”
There is an aloneness that is not loneliness, and not despair, and western medicine hasn’t got a clue. It is something like a profound closeness with your own being, an intimacy with the quiet passing of things, friendship with the broken and the transient within and without. While you quietly grieve over yesterday’s dreams of tomorrows that never came, you hold today so close in your arms. You are the mother of today.
There is a fragility that is not weakness. An exquisite sensitivity to the sad majesty of this ordinary world, a vulnerable openness that has nothing to do with how much money you have made, how you have succeeded or failed in your quest for perfection, or how beautiful or immune to infection your body is, but something to do with the tenderness with which you are willing to touch the broken parts of the world, the depths of aloneness to which you are willing to plunge.
There is an exquisite melancholy that is not depression, contains no pathology, for it contains no self at all. It is as if the heart is broken open and cannot be closed again, ever. Like everything is made of the finest crystal and could shatter at any moment. The sun could burn up without warning, the breath could seize up, a loved one could pass away quietly in your arms. That tiny bird on the tree over there is made of finely woven thread. The neglected pool of water by the supermarket door has infinite depths but no surface, no surface. The moon takes on the quality of a reflection of a reflection in a dream, and everything is so close. You can touch the horizon, whisper to galaxies.
This melancholy, sometimes it arrives unexpectedly in the middle of the night, when you cannot sleep and the moonlight is casting tender shadows on your forearm, or it comes sometimes as you walk through the forest with your dog (you love how he waddles now that he’s getting old, your little companion) and you remember what it is like to be free, or at least alive; or it comes unexpectedly at the dinner table with friends, with delight at … the salt, yes, delight that the salt could exist at all, that there is a world with salt and food and friends, and the possibility of meeting.
Do not medicate away this melancholy. Go deeper into it. It contains information, important information, and longs to release its healing energies. No, they won’t understand you, they will call you depressed, self-indulgent, mad, but you will smile, for you are like the daffodil, and you never wanted to be understood. Your being is too vast to be understood. You will take this imperfect life over no life at all, you will take this broken world blasted through with gratitude over a perfect world half-touched or half-remembered, and the judgements of others will be a small price to pay for never being able to turn away.
Running naked through the streets, throwing off the last of your clothes, you will laugh as they come to lock you up. You are free! You are free! And this beautiful melancholy will keep you from ever closing your heart!
- Jeff Foster
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley