Page 31 - seniors today August issue
P. 31

nostrils. Although, I discovered that until          to that, through the day we essentially breathe
        a certain level of consistent Asana practice,        ‘mindlessly’, only upto our upper respiratory
        it is difficult to have the lung capacity to         tract, that is, shallow breathing. The magic of
        smoothly practice anything more than one set         therapeutic healing, organ cleansing, hormonal
        (11 rounds) of any type of classical Poorvak         balance happens when we take the slight added
        (complete inhalation), Kumbhak (retention            effort of breathing in and out deeply, with
        of breath within the lungs and chest cavity),        patience until our rib cage expands, intercostal
        Rechak (complete exhalation) and Shunyak             and deep core diaphgramatic muscles participate.
        (emptiness of breath after exhalation).              This is when we catch up on all the times during
                                                             the day that we may be distractedly breathing and
        Most austere form                                    short-changing our complete breath cycle.
        Having mentioned Hatha Yog, where one                The most important thing to remember is that
        essentially follows a clean diet, punctual, heat     Asana practice is essentially that: a practice. It is
        generating practice and then challenges one’s        not a performance where we are more concerned
        boundaries by holding postures until the             about how we are looking aesthetically to others
        pose feels comfortable and pleasant. This was        around us in a certain posture. Yog essentially
        considered the most austere form of practice,        means a union of the various seemingly
        where the yogi follows a strict regime, and          unconnected parts of ourselves. So, it could mean
        attempts to balance the mind by gaining              the union of our physical body to our breath or
        mastery over bodily discomforts. Ha-Tha              Prana body, mind or though body (includes the
        literally translates as stubborn or determined.      mind, Ego and higher intellect or Buddhi) and
        Today, considering our modern lifestyles,            therefore reaching a state of clarity where we feel
        today Hatha Yog is essentially reduced to a          more connected to our inner voice, consciousness
        one hour session where one tries to align,           or our inner True Selves.
        breath, body and mind. Other popular forms            Yog as Asana practice is meant as one of the
        of practice are the Vinyasa (flow of asanas          techniques to attain, even a few moments of
        as smooth sequences) or the Ashtanga style,          Ekagrata or one-pointedness of mind within our
        which is a lovely combination of variations          chaotic day. Yog is the union or alignment of our
        of surya namaskaram and holding postures             probably erratic breathing patterns, by releasing
        with mindful attention to breath and bandhas         the restlessness that manifests in the form of
        (a body lock done through muscle holds to            unproductive physical and mental energy. Out of
        retain breath within a certain area of the           the 102 Yoga Sutras, only a total of 3 are dedicated
        body).                                               to defining Asanas and 4 for Pranayams. This
         Zen masters, Yogis or even sportsmen and            is a subtle reminder that while attaining control
        magicians have been training their lung              over our lower selves in the form of discipline and
        capacities for centuries and amazed the              physical exercise, diet and a clean mental attitude,
        world with feats, endless reserves of energy         we have to rise above our fixation over our
        and core strength or by living long, healthy         physical form in order to break the attachment
        lives. Prana+Ayam or breath regulation is            we feel towards our bodies. Only when we
        undoubtedly a powerful tool to increase one’s        have thoroughly examined the true nature and
        physical and mental wellbeing.                       limitations of our physical selves can we be still
                                                             enough to be ready for meditation. This is how
        Breathing is the key                                 we take the first step into living more consciously,
        Logically, the better we breathe, the better we      mindfully and spiritually.
        replenish, reenergise and detoxify the systems
        within the body. It is staggering to learn that
        on an average we anyway breathe at below
        50% or less of our total lung capacity. To add

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