Friday, 7 December 2012

New Halogen heater, Baddha Padmasana on both sides and Mudras

"Om hrim namo halogen"

One of the things I miss about Santorini is the sun. Holding effulgence in the heart during meditation along with the breath in pranayama and generally throughout the practice is a lot easier i find in a place where the sun dominates the experience of place. It's harder in grey old England, shouldn't be but it is, in the beginning at least. In fact I never really got the effulgence thing until I visited Santorini and tried practicing it there. 

"1:36 Visoka va jotismati (fourth method)

Or, one can bring the mind under control by looking at a flame or imagining it in the heart. This removes depression. Light and the heart are associated. (it is a method of meditation in the Vedas/Upanishads.)"
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: Based on the teaching of Srivatsa Ramaswami by Pam Hoxsey.

See this post on meditation on effulgence

So it was fine for awhile when i came back but has become harder as the days have become greyer and darker. A bonus then of the halogen heater that arrived today was that's it's reminder of the Santorini sun, of the sunrises and sunsets that are one of the enduring memories of that time, see the blog header picture.




I can't just do a whole post on a new heater but I can feature it perhaps.

I've been wanting to draw attention to something I noticed in AG Mohan's recent release of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (part II) ,the original it seems of Salutations to the teacher and the eternal one. In Maha Mudra, Krishnamacharya has us open the straight leg out 30 degrees adding a slight twist to the postures, hadn't come across that before.




Here's the full description of Maha mudra, my favourite posture and being a mudra you can practice it when ever you wish. Ramaswami recommends you stay in the posture for five minutes each side, an ideal time to practice it would be at the end of the practice before pranayama. As it opens the hips nicely it's ideal too for an extra evening practice where the evenings focus might be mainly on pranayama and meditation.

21. MAHAMUDRA
Technique:
1. Spread something soft on the ground, sit on it.
2. Stretch the right leg in front, so that it makes an angle of about 30 degrees to the
right. The foot should be perpendicular to the ground, the calf and the thigh touching the ground (seat and the leg straight)
3. Bend the other leg at the knee and bring the sole of the foot to touch the inside of the right thigh, and heel of the left foot below the penis. The thigh of the left leg should touch the ground (seat that has been spread on the ground). The two thighs should make an angle of 120 degrees
4. Sit upright and keep the spine straight.
5. While exhaling, twist the trunk to the right, so that the two shoulders may be
equidistant from the right toe.
6. Do chin lock, so that the chin is drawn tightly in the notch between the collar bones, keep the spine straight, draw in the abdomen, and catch hold of the right toe by the hooked forefingers of both the hands, bending at the hips.
Note: Catching hold of toes may not be possible at the beginning, it is enough if the hands can be placed on the right thigh or the right kneecap or the right shin or the right ankle i.e., as forward as possible without undue strain. As practice advances it will become easier to bend forward, and later on it would easy to interlace the fingers round the right foot at the instep, even the heel. The important points to note are that the spine is kept straight, the chin is locked, the stomach drawn in, and the trunk twisted so that both the shoulders are equidistant from the right toe. Both the thighs should touch the ground.
7. Keep eyes closed so that the mind may not get distracted. Take long and deep even inhalation and exhalation with rubbing sensation in the throat, six breaths.
19
Note: For beginners the trunk is not bent. After practice has advanced, after having taken six breaths without bending the trunk, three deep breaths are taken, exhaling while bending the trunk. The forehead to touch the knee, at the end of the forward bending but it need not be kept touching the knee. If this be not possible the trunk to be bent forward to the extent possible without undue strain.
8. Repeat with the other leg.
When practice has advanced, breath can be kept controlled both for retention and keeping out for 2 to 5 seconds in each round of deep breathing. Not more than 5 deep breaths each side. If there is any heart weakness, this control of breath should not be for more than a second.
For advanced trainees, who observe BRAHMACARYA, who live in a cool place and can have rich food, maximum of 32 rounds of breath can be done for each side, with control of breath for 5 seconds each round.
NATHAMUNI of Maduranthakam, in his treatise on Yoga-YOGA RAHASYAM-writes that if this mudra is done with Uddiyana bandha for ten seconds one conquers death and can overcome all poisons
This is extremely beneficial in the treatment of diabetes, spleen complaint, dysentry and other stomach disorders.
When specifically used for the purpose of overcoming poisons inhalation is as in sitali pranayama i.e., with rolled protruding tongue. The tongue is now taken in rolled back so that the tip touches the UVULA (JIHVA BANDHAM), chin locked,and stomach drawn in and upward (UDDIYANA BANDHAM) and slow exhalation through both nostrils.

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Maha Mudra leads nicely into baddha konasana and also baddha padmasana and yoga mudra ( another mudra).

Something else I noticed in Yoga Makaranda (part II) was that krishnamacharya has us practicing  baddha padmasana and Yoga Mudra on both sides






35. BADDHA PADMASANA
This asana is the counter pose to the ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA - Section A, and should be done immediately after that asana.
Technique:
1. Sit upright, with both legs stretched in front. Bend one of the legs, say the right, at the knee and place the foot on the left thigh as high as possible. The heel should be as near
39
the navel as possible. Now bend the left leg at the knee and place the left foot on the right thigh as high as possible, and the heel as near the navel as possible. The knees should be as close as possible and touch the ground.
2. Take the left arm around the back and catch hold of the toes of the left foot by the right hand. Next, take the right hand behind the back and catch hold of the toes of the right foot by the fingers of the right hand.
Note: Which hand is taken round first is important. In the position described above, it will be observed that the LEFT leg is crossed over the right leg, and it is the LEFT arm that is taken round the round back first, to catch hold of the toes. When the asana is repeated on the other side, the right leg will be over the left leg and right arm will be taken round the back first.
3. Chin lock, chest forward. In the case of those who are married, the gaze should be to the tip of the nose, and in the case of the others the gaze should be to the midpoint of the eyebrows.
4. Take deep breaths. The deep breaths in this asana can with advantage be with control both after inhalation and after exhalation i.e., both ANTHER AND BAHYA Kumbhakam. The retention of breath, in the beginning stages, should not be more than 5 seconds after inhalation and not more than two seconds after exhalation. The breathing in and breathing out should be as thin and as long possible, with rubbing sensation in the throat. The number of rounds can be as many as it is conveniently possible without strain. 5. Get back to the position in step (1) and repeat on the other side.
This is one of the asanas specifically recommended for doing Pranayama. When a large number of Pranayamas are done there is a feeling of hunger, but it is a false sensation. Benefits: This benefits all parts of the body, reduces the waistline, strengthens the lungs and the blood vessels.
Yoga makaranda (part II) p39-40

35. YOGA MUDRA
Technique:
After step (3) described under Baddha Padmasana while exhaling, bend trunk forward, till the head touches the ground.
Take deep breaths as many as is possible without undue strain.
While inhaling raise trunk.
Yoga Mudra should be done immediately after Baddha Padmasana. The above describes the final complete pose and may not be attainable at the beginning but only after considerable practice. In the beginning the trunk should be lowered to the extent that is conveniently possible without undue strain and the final position will become possible in course of line. p40



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I like mudra's a lot, fascinated by them in fact and recently received some anonymous comments on them directing me to one of Krishnamacharya's sons Sri TK Sribhashyam, below is a link to his website.

http://www.yogakshemam.net/English/homepage.html

And here's the seminar report from one of Sri TK Sribhashyam newsletters, the seminar was on the topic of mudra and pranayama.

"Pearl" or the influence of Mudra and Prânâyâma in a spiritual search

Seminar given by Sri TK Sribhashyam in Neuchâtel from 29.07 to 08.01.06

This report is written with the hope to share at least part of the seminar with all who wished to participate and have not seen their registration restraint. Indeed, enrollment was twice the number of seats in the beautiful yoga room, in the heart of Neuchâtel.
Each concept and each concept introduced by Sri TK Sribhashyam were followed by a practical and appropriate exercises and offering participants a comprehensive theoretical and practical subject. For obvious reasons, it is unfortunately not possible to include these exercises and practice sessions in this report.

Spiritual search
Speed ​​and the demands of modern life make it often takes fight to maintain and save space for spiritual quest in our life. Yoga is a means to support this proposed task. It allows us to nurture the spiritual and devote time to contemplation, not hardware, everything is transcendental. It helps us to go to God or the Creator.

Yoga has two elements to support our spirituality breathing Prânâyâma, and include breathing postures and concentration, called Mudra.
There is something in us, in the universe, in every living being, something that is not noticeable, which is not material and is eternal, the soul, the spirit, whatever name we give . This is one aspect, a reflection of God or the Creator. This is like the sun that we perceive through its rays and the light it brings, it is part of our lives without our pensions, at any time. It is the same for the Creator: He is in us without our being aware at all times.

Once you hear the word "sun", it automatically displays the image. For the soul, often the first time, we did not picture because the soul is something that is outside of time and space and therefore has no form. Anything that does not is not comprehensible form and does not confirm our existence!
In any spiritual quest must know situate his soul. We all have a permanent address, the same way it is important to know the "permanent address" of the soul.

Another factor in the spiritual search is an honest and pure behavior vis-à-vis our neighbors as ourselves: in Indian thought, anything that brings us closer to spiritual values ​​is pure, and all that we away is considered unclean.

Our body is another factor that may be an obstacle or an instrument on the path of spiritual quest: the body ages, it undergoes changes with age. If we see only the physical decay, it is unhappy. If we can accept that the body undergoes the inevitable evolution of the age, it becomes our support.
Yoga offers us an understanding of the body and allows us to position ourselves well in relation to different stages of this evolution. This allows us to avoid considering the body as an obstacle and use it as a tool to know the truth in the sense of what is Real and not subject to change, which is immutable, eternal and in- beyond time and space.

Managing a fair sense of perception and sense of action, the body becomes an instrument. We must learn to direct sense perception and do what they were not accustomed to, such as the concentration of points "elusive image ', which is part of the independent perception of the world objectified. We must learn to see in us what is invisible to shape without seeing attributes. This is how we can develop the perception of non-objectified world, which is also the spiritual world.
In Yoga, Asana was introduced some to help us get away from the outside world and we protect data from this world: it is the Mudra, they act as fortresses on our path of spiritual quest.

Mudra
Mudra practice helps us offset the influence emotional during concentration. The Mudra represent some postures in yoga which include a concentration or a specific point within the body or outside the body. External objects are divine objects, which are devoid of human emotions. In Yoga we do not use objects that have a dependency with our emotions and human relations.

The outer points are points of connection between the soul and the Creator.

Points inside the body are like a network and relate to the existence of the soul in life. These very specific points of concentration are considered divine objects.

Concentration is added to the number of breaths specific (3, 6 or 12). The Mudra can be practiced alone, in no specific order, because their role is on an emotional level, it involves cutting the interrelationship between sense perception and emotions.

Here are some points of focus:

- Adityas (Sun): it is the solar disk, black and shiny, which is the door to go beyond this world. This concentration is against the practice.

- The Star: lying on the back, direct the eye as far as possible in the sky.

- Taraka: it is the point on the horizon, infinity beyond the earthly world.

- Murdhna: this is a point which lies to the root of the nose. Murdhna gives us the support of spiritual masters. It is thanks to their light, their spiritual strength as we continue to move towards the Creator. It is our belief that nourish them and help us to strengthen it.

- Divya Chakshush: point of the occiput. Divya Chakshush means "vision of God" is one of the largest concentrations for the vision of our soul.

- Nasaagra: tip of the nose. Reduced from dispersions of sense perception.

- Nabhi: behind the navel. Nabhi restores harmony in the emotional activity.

- Mula: Mula means "root", it is located between the anus and the genitals. This is an extremely important point. This is to bring all of our different human emotions to the root of emotions, Mula, to activate and give way to the divine emotion.

- Bruhmadhya: the point between the eyebrows. In philosophical terms, its meaning is "land between the two" heavenly and earthly.

- Shirsha: fontanelle. It is located in the upper part of the skull at the inside. It is also a vital point, since the soul is supposed to leave at death. The soul is often seen as confined to Mula. It is therefore necessary to create a path for him to go Shirsha, concentration upward, directing the gaze Mula and follow a vertical line Shirsha.

- Hrudaya: the place of residence of God in us. It is a little outside the physiological heart. In the concentration of Mula Shirsha to it automatically by Hrudaya. This is protected from any human emotion. As a state mental Hrudaya is given automatically when the field is free of mental sensations and emotions.

Pranayama

Human beings have two kinds of emotions:

a) the emotions connected to the Creator, our spirituality is an emotion constant, immutable,
b) the emotions of human relations: it is emotional variables.

In the constant modification of our emotions, breathing plays an important role. Direct our breathing is essential, it is necessary to do every day to reduce the emotional anarchy, sentimental, and allow the divine emotion to also have a place in our lives. For more sentimental emotions take up space in our lives, there is less room for the divine emotion.

Everything we do is converted into emotional values. There is an emotional conversion data we receive from the surrounding world through the senses of perception. So it takes some time for them out of our minds. Using breathing, it calms aggression immediate world. For emotional aggression does not penetrate into the cells, purified by Prânâyâma. On a sweep between emotional life and the life of the cell so that the divine emotion remains in the cells. In modern science, we talk about the memory cells.

Prana is the first force of Creation, the Creator's love for His creation. This emotion is the divine devotion that is in us all. Everyone should cultivate because it is only by cultivating it remains constantly present. Must deliberately cultivate mental state close to the divine emotion and material values ​​exclude voluntarily practicing meditation. The role of meditation is to prevent the influence of the material world objectified to give maximum space to the divine mind, for the purpose of our existence is to know the One who created us and know where we come from .

Respiration is used as a unit of time in all that is spiritual (in comparison with the time unit is the material time). The time is indicated breaths unit time for an individual to get away from everyday life to be in a state of contemplation. Pranayama keeps the mind in a contemplative state. During the rituals,

Prânâyâma are made to strengthen the contemplative and meditative state. It is a major element in the approach to Yoga.

The Prânâyâma contains three elements:

- Breathing: tool material for "turn on" our relationship with the Creator. Always been (since the time of the Dravidians, there are more than 10000 years) was related to breathing contemplation. There may have stopovers, that is to say retentions. The four members of respiration: inspiration, retention after inspiration, expiration, retention after expiration.

- The concentration, such as the sun.

- The Mantra: Accompanying this is a formula (the Mantra is not used in the teaching of Sri TK Sribhashyam because it is a religious element unique to Hinduism).
There are many techniques, but there is a base. The variations are based on the individual and his ability to change his mental state to go to the Creator. It is possible to go slower or faster. It is necessary to take into account the fear of the unknown, the Creator, and the fear of not finding his mental state related to the world.

Since 5000 years, based Prânâyâma is: Inspiration left nostril, right nostril expiration; Inspiration right nostril, left nostril Expiration (all form a "cycle").
This technique will be called later Shodana Nadi, which means "purify our mental field." The field is considered here as mental nerve (nadi = nerve). The Prânâyâma is always facing east, is being considered as the place of the Creator. We start with the idea that in the morning when the sun rises, the mind is available and what is the best time for spirituality.

Contemplation
If you have an object in the mental field and is supported by our thoughts, this condition is considered contemplation. In meditation there is always the mention of God or a divine object, such as the sun.
Our mental field is filled, the cluster information is huge, the image of our concentration is camouflaged. To achieve concentration, passes through two stages:

1. The first phase of elimination conscious information: it must dismiss the importance of everyday life and give importance to the subject discussed, then the mental field begins to cover the object: this phase is called dharana (only if a divine object is used).

2. Disabling all intellectual activity, which includes the ability to analyze and intellect. The "I" must be removed to disable human emotions. This situation, when the field is completely mental with the divine object mentioned is called Dhyana. It loses all sense of duality, because it is not in our mental field, and we are one with the Creator or the Divine object. The unit of time in which we are united to the Creator is called "Yoga." Every being has this ability and it would be a fraction of a second. This state is a back-and-forth of concentration. Some points of concentration Dharana and Dhyana to go for support.
Mental field is "elastic": you can make very small, such as in the situation of a problem that concerns us: it fills our field. But we can also make unlimited. Concentration on a divine object (which is unlimited) helps to remove the limits of our mental field. Concentration on an object not divine does not have this effect because the object has a form and links with our human emotions, the mind is therefore limited to this object.

Concentration phases are interrupted by images that appear: If you are attracted by these images, then back the emotional and sentimental footprints, traces of our emotional life over. If it keeps up prints, faults are becoming shorter. Fingerprints are called Klesha. We must find a way to prevent Klesha back up. Mudra practice can not feed Klesha or emotional traces. It is like putting seeds "vacuum" for they can not grow. The Mudra helps that Klesha not become active during the concentration, but vigilance on our part is necessary.

The evocation of the soul, the Creator, the God
Because God, or the Creator, is not perceptible, and it is difficult to perceive reality without form, we introduced a concept, a concept evident that the mind can enter field: this concept is the Light symbolized as first formed by the solar disk is a black circle, brilliant. (A circle automatically takes all the space of the mental field).

The light that exists allows us to know this world without the light being perceives nothing. God is light and gives us light. He gives us the joy of living, as the reflection of any object that we see confirms our existence.

So we introduced a representation, an image, which is known by every human being. This became the first form of God as an "icon". Then the man said many parameters, standards and rules: these are the tenets that make the religion. But God remains the same: immutable and eternal, and to go to Him, we must go beyond religious dogma. The actual value of God is the most important thing in our lives. We must remain faithful to his conviction and representative picture we have of God.
An evocation of force is repeated.

Prayer
The notion of God or Creator and prayer are inseparable. Any object in the mind must be supported - in addition to the picture - sound by a factor which is the name or functions specific to the object. As soon as media goes, the other also disappears. In any process of holding an object in the mental field, it takes a picture and a verbal expression, that is to say the words and expressions that go with the subject. Expressions, or attributes, or qualities of an object are divine prayer. In the example of the solar disk, evoking with its shape and its attributes becomes a prayer.

Then there is a second type of prayer is the prayer of petition, prayer brings us something. Then there is the prayer of thanksgiving after each invocation: we thank God or the Creator of His presence in us.

We arrived after four days. Sri TK Sribhashyam ended the seminar with practice and the introduction of Mudra is done at sunrise and whose name says it all: Adityas Hrudaya (also called Surya Bhedana).
Our Master Sri TK Sribhashyam just returned from a pilgrimage to India was able to convey his strength and belief in spiritual values ​​movingly and deep the whole group. The participants warmly thanked for this exciting and captivating seminar, which they called "the pearl."

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And just for the sake of completeness, below is one of my posts from a year or two ago on Full Body mudras



I mentioned in a previous post that I'm using Vinyasa Krama to adapt and moderate my Ashtanga practice. One of the ways I'm doing that is through the use of Mudras.

I'd always thought mudras were hand gestures but it seems there are also full body mudras, some can be found in the Hatha Yoga Padipka

Another word for mudra is lock or seal and the ones here, as they come up in Ramaswami's Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga tend to involve engaging of the bandhas.

Ashtangi's are already familiar with mudras. The bandhas (or locks) are mudras, Mulabandha Mudra, Uddiyanabandha Mudra and Jalahandra bandha Mudra, but we're also familiar with the full body mudra, Yoga Mudra in the Finishing sequence is, as it's name suggests, a mudra and not strictly an asana.







Yoga Mudra








Swami Satyananda Saraswati's in his book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, has this to say in his section on Mudras.

'Mudras manipulate Prana in much the same way that energy in the form of light or sound waves is diverted by a mirror or cliff face. The nadis and chakras constantly radiate prana which normally escapes from the body and dissipates into the external world. By creating barriers within the body through the practice of mudra, the energy is redirected within' p424

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I haven't, as yet, bought into the prana/chakra/subtle body model. However I do like how he goes on to say

'The aim is to create fixed, repetitive postures and gestures which can snap the practitioner out of instinctive habit patterns and establish more refined consciousness'. p424

I use them for two reasons, one, they tended to be my favourite postures in Vinyasa Krama, and two, I just find them useful for moderating my practice, slowing it down, taking control.


In Vinyasa Krama you tend to stay in the mudra for an extended period. You might stay in Maha Mudra, for five or more minutes. I tended to stay for ten to twenty-five breaths each side. Because it's a mudra rather than an asana, you can pretty much practice it anywhere.

Below is a video from last year some time. Of course you might feel that it slows your practice down TOO much. Ramaswami recognizes this and suggests that you might like to spend less time in maha mudra in the main sequence (it comes up in the Asytmmetric sequence in VK) and perhaps longer before or after Pranayama. If you have a separate Pranayama and/or Meditation practice, this is a nice mudra to do in preparation for full or half lotus.

In Ashtanga, I include Maha Mudra before Janu Sirsana A. I engage all the bandhas strongly and stay for ten breaths each side. It refocuses my attention on the breath and bandhas and I finding somehow grounding.

I have that tendency in Ashtanga to get carried away with the practice, with the athleticism, the strength and movement, the flow of it all, the mudras kind of pull me up a little. The best thing about Maha Mudra is that it pretty much is Janu A without the forward bend, it slips neatly into the practice. I also like to include it before Leg behind head postures as it opens the hip nicely.

Another favourite is Mahabandhasana (the great lock). I slip this into Intermediate after Bakasana and before Bharadavajrasana (which is pretty much a twisted version of the mudra). If you don't like Maha Mudra so much you could use this after Tirang Mukkha Eka pada Paschimottanasana. From that posture I tend to cross my extended leg into half lotus to jump back anyway, which pretty much puts me into the mudra. Similarly, following Krounchasana in 2nd series or perhaps after Supta Urdhva Pada Vajrasana, it'll settle you before the seven deadlies.



Vinyasa Krama recommends taking mini Savasanas to settle the breath and heartrate. Breath should be steady in Ashtanga too. Rather than just taking a Savasana you can bring in Tatkamudra (the pond gesture the belly in full Uddiyana looks like a pond). I like it after Supta Vajrasana or Karandavasana, again it slows me down, grounds me, reminds me what I'm doing there on the mat. I also like it towards the end of the practice before the Shoulder stands









I mentioned Yoga Mudra in the finishing sequence, variations of that mudra include bending to the right and left side. Below is Laghu Yoga Mudra (Simple yoga seal) again the bandhas are engaged.
















And just one more because I like it a lot and and always try to include now at the end of my headstand, Viparita Yoga Mudra (inverted yoga seal).









......and a reminder from my friend Chiara

'...also sarvangasana and sirsasana can be used as mudras actually, and remember that viparita karani is indeed a mudra'!!!

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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