ASHTANGA YOGA

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THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD HEALTH

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THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD HEALTH

We take so much for granted, and don’t realize how fortunate we are until something or someone is taken from us.

Good Health starts from the very infancy. It is here that protection and care is needed, so that each organ functions well, each organ develops naturally, and there are no deformities, disabilities and diseases but often the health of children remain neglected, with the result that they grow unhealthily and that affects their education as well. A healthy child develops into a healthy adult. In case the child does not grow properly, and he remains handicapped in some way, his ill-health spoils his adult life. He cannot join any active service; he cannot be a successful professional, nor can he live his life happily.

Health is real wealth. A healthy person is an asset to himself, to his family and to his community. On the other hand an ailing person is a burden on all. He is a danger for coming generations because heredity plays an important part in this respect. Health is the pivot upon which a man’s whole personality and its well-being depend. An ailing and aching body saps the enthusiasm for pursuit. Unwholesome feelings and sensations retard the pace of functional activity, economic development and spiritual uplift.

Health cannot be achieved merely by taking one or two pills every day or by observing a few restrictions. It can be achieved only by understanding what health is, on what it depends and then applying this knowledge in every-day life.

The care of the body regarding food, cleanliness, exercise, rest and protection against disease, are essential for the preservation of sound health. Life is for living. Without health, life is deprived of not only much of its usefulness but also its joys and pleasures.

The stream of life will be rich and lasting in proportion to the sources which nourish it. These sources belong to every person. They are food, exercise, and proper posture, care of bodily functions, avoidance of alcohol and tobacco and wholesome mental and emotional attitudes.     If we ignore even the smallest of issues, get in to a doctor right away. Don’t think it will go away overnight; it could be something serious and lead to other issues.

Why is there a need to have an amputation?   Can’t the limb be saved?   Is there a reason why this American woman has an interest in such a topic?     Do we personally know anyone who has had an amputation?   I personally know what this all about especially after spending 5 ½ weeks in the hospital due to a serious infection in one of my limbs which ultimately resulted in the amputation of part of the limb. In time I will be getting a prosthetic limb and am learning how to do things in a new manner and more.

In the US, the majority of new amputations occur due to complications of the vascular system (the blood vessels), especially from diabetes. But there are many in the military that have lost limbs as a result of injuries sustained in war, so the numbers of amputees has substantially increased.     I understand the situation so very well with the loss of a limb and the need to relearn how to do even the basic tasks and things we routinely take for granted and do out of habit.

Amputation is the removal of a body extremity by trauma, prolonged constriction, or surgery. As a surgical measure, it is used to control pain or a disease process in the affected limb, such as malignancy or gangrene. In some cases, it is carried out on individuals as a preventative surgery for such problems. A special case is that of congenital amputation, a congenital disorder, where fetal limbs have been cut off by constrictive bands. In some countries, amputation of the hands, feet or other body parts is or was used as a form of punishment for people who committed crimes. Amputation has also been used as a tactic in war and acts of terrorism; it may also occur as a war injury. In some cultures and religions, minor amputations or mutilations are considered a ritual accomplishment. Unlike some non-mammalian animals (such as lizards that shed their tails, salamanders that can regrow many missing body parts, and hydras, flatworms and starfish that can regrow entire bodies from small fragments), once removed, human extremities do not grow back, unlike portions of some organs, such as the liver. A transplant or prosthesis is the only options for recovering the loss.

In the US, the majority of new amputations occur due to complications of the vascular system (the blood vessels), especially from diabetes. Between 1988 and 1996, there was an average of 133,735 hospital discharges for amputation per year in the US.

Reasons for Amputation. Amputation is the surgical removal of all or part of a limb or extremity such as an arm, leg, foot, hand, toe, or finger. About 1.8 million Americans are living with amputations. Amputation of the leg — either above or below the knee — is the most common amputation surgery. The amputation I had is below the knee, so I am fortunate that it did not spread further and that I still have the knee, bone, tendons, muscles, nerves and other parts of the leg which will make things easier for me when I get my prosthetic limb.

There are many reasons an amputation may be necessary. The most common is poor circulation because of damage or narrowing of the arteries, called peripheral arterial disease. Without adequate blood flow, the body’s cells cannot get oxygen and nutrients they need from the bloodstream. As a result, the affected tissue begins to die and infection may set in.

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Other causes for amputation may include: (1) Severe injury (from a vehicle accident or serious burn, for example); (2) Cancerous tumor in the bone or muscle of the limb; (3) Serious infection that does not get better with antibiotics or other treatment; (4) Thickening of nerve tissue, called a neuroma; and (5) Frostbite

An amputation usually requires a hospital stay of five to 14 days or more, depending on the surgery and complications. The procedure itself may vary, depending on the limb or extremity being amputated and the patient’s general health.

Amputation may be done under general anesthesia (meaning the patient is asleep) or with spinal anesthesia, which numbs the body from the waist down. When performing an amputation, the surgeon removes all damaged tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible.

A doctor may use several methods to determine where to cut and how much tissue to remove. These include: (1) Checking for a pulse close to where the surgeon is planning to cut; (2) Comparing skin temperatures of the affected limb with those of a healthy limb; (3) Looking for areas of reddened skin; and (4) Checking to see if the skin near the site where the surgeon is planning to cut is still sensitive to touch.

During the procedure itself, the surgeon will: (a) Remove the diseased tissue and any crushed bone; (b) Smooth uneven areas of bone; (c) Seal off blood vessels and nerves; and (d) Cut and shape muscles so that the stump, or end of the limb, will be able to have an artificial limb (prosthesis) attached to it.

The surgeon may choose to close the wound right away by sewing the skin flaps (called a closed amputation) (this was done in my case). Or the surgeon may leave the site open for several days in case there’s a need to remove additional tissue.

The surgical team then places a sterile dressing on the wound and may place a stocking over the stump to hold drainage tubes (if necessary) or bandages. The doctor may place the limb in traction, in which a device holds it in position, or may use a splint.

Recovery from amputation depends on the type of procedure and anesthesia used. It is important to have a positive outlook during the entire process, and have an excellent support team. Faith and trust are also important.

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In the hospital, the staff changes the dressings on the wound or teaches the patient to change them. The doctor monitors wound healing and any conditions that might interfere with healing, such as diabetes or hardening of the arteries. The doctor prescribes medications to ease pain and help prevent infection.

If the patient has problems with phantom pain (a sense of pain in the amputated limb) or grief over the lost limb, the doctor will prescribe medication and/or counseling, as necessary.

Physical therapy, beginning with gentle, stretching exercises, often begins soon after surgery. Practice with the artificial limb may begin as soon as 10 to 14 days after surgery.

Ideally, the wound should fully heal in about four to eight weeks. But the physical and emotional adjustment to losing a limb can be a long process. Long-term recovery and rehabilitation will include: (a) Exercises to improve muscle strength and control; (b) Activities to help restore the ability to carry out daily activities and promote independence; (c) Use of artificial limbs and assistive devices; and (d) Emotional support, including counseling, to help with grief over the loss of the limb and adjustment to the new body image..

 Kathy Kiefer

SAMKHYA AND YOGA

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SAMKHYA AND YOGA

What is Samkhya and what is its relationship to yoga?

Samkhya is one of the six classical Indian schools of philosophy, and the oldest formulation of the ideas of even older revealed texts, like the Upanishads and the Vedas. Yoga, tantra and Ayurveda are all rooted in Samkhya philosophy, and its concepts are essential in understanding the context for study and practice.     Since the self in Samkhya-yoga metaphysics is devoid of any attributes that could individualize it, no difference can be made between one pursusha and another, therefore their plurality is problematic.

The self is without attributes or qualities, without parts, imperishable, motionless, absolutely inactive and impassive, unaffected by pleasure or pain or any other emotion.   All change, all character belong to prakriti. There does not seem to be any basis for the attribution of distinctiveness to purushas. If each pursusha has the same features of consciousness, all-pervadingness, if there is not the slightest difference between one purusha and another, since they are free from all variety, then there is nothing to lead us   to assume a plurality of purushas. Multiplicity without distinction is said to be impossible.

As a result of the opposed nature of purusha and prakyti, the Samkhya-Yoga metaphysics encounters problems in establishing harmony between empirical and absolute knowledge.

When the Samkhya breaks up the concrete unity of experience into the two elements of subject and object and makes them fictitiously absolute, it cannot account for the fact of experience. When purusha is viewed as pure consciousness, the permanent light which illuminates all objects of knowledge and prakriti as something opposed to consciousness and utterly foreign to it, the latter can never become the object of the former.   The Samkhya cannot get across the ditch which it has dug between the subject and the object.   Unless the subject and object are akin to each other, how can the one reflect the other?   How can buddhi, which is non-intelligent, reflect purusha?   How can the formless purusha which is the constant seer be reflected in buddhi which is changing?   The two cannot, therefore, be absolutely opposed in nature.

No possible relationship can exist between empirical knowledge, which belongs to the domain of prakriti, and the absolute knowledge of purusha. Because they belong to different realms, on the one hand purusha cannot know prakritii and on the other hand, prakriti and all its forms cannot do anything to help liberation.

 

An attempt to solve this difficulty was made by postulating the fact that prakriti operates instinctively for purusha’s liberation. The Samkhya-Sutra states that “creation works for the sake of purusha, so that it may attain supreme knowledge.” The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali also mentions that prakriti exists only for the sake of serving purusha’s liberation. But in the absence of an external agent who could “inspire” a teleological instinct to prakriti, the difficulty is not solved. Samkhya rejects the existence of a creator god, and Ishvara of the Yoga darshana is not a personal god, but rather a macro-purusha that was never involved with psycho-mental activity or the law of karma, being devoid of any creative abilities.

The teleological instinct of prakriti was illustrated in the Samkhya and Yoga darshanas by the image of a horse that pulls a wagon out of instinct, an act to which the wagon driver is a simple spectator. In the same way, prakriti would conduct purusha toward liberation without any external directive. However, it is omitted in this metaphor that the horse was first trained by the driver before he knew the way home. Samkhya metaphysics does not allow such an external “coach” for prakriti. Another deficient illustration used by the Samkhya followers is that of a blind man and a lame man helping each other on their journey. Neither can this be a valid illustration to symbolize the teleological instinct of prakriti, since both the blind man and the lame man possess intelligence and language, and therefore can cooperate in realizing a common purpose. Such cooperation between purusha and prakriti cannot exist, because they have nothing in common. Therefore, the difficulty generated by the impossible relationship between purusha and the psycho-mental abilities cannot be properly solved. How could intellect help to distance purusha from prakriti, if intellect itself is a category of prakriti?

 

Personhood is considered to be a product of prakriti’s manifestation, a sum of psycho-mental experiences that cease to exist at the moment of liberation. Instead of the pantheist view of liberation, consisting of an impersonal merging of the self with the Absolute, the Samkhya and Yoga darshanas state that the liberated self remains eternally isolated, devoid of any relation with other purushas and having as the only possibility that of knowing itself. But given the fact that purusha is devoid of any personal attributes, it is hard to grasp what this self-contemplation could mean. As in pantheism, liberation is out of personhood, it does not mean becoming a free person.

 

The Vedas are expressed in a symbolic language of Mantra, expressing the direct spiritual experiences of the sages. The later Upanishads are profound poems, an outpouring of spiritual revelation, illumination and knowledge where philosophy, religion and poetic expression are one. These revelations are not a dry intellectual enquiry. They are the light of India’s spiritual discoveries. Later, six evolved philosophies came into being, derived from the Vedas and Upanishads, the first of these being the Samkhya philosophy taught by the sage Kapila. In fact, all later philosophies of India were influenced by it. Philosophy at this time was not a purely intellectual pursuit. It was oriented towards the spiritual life and the practice of Yoga. Samkhya and Yoga represent the two wings of knowledge and practice that together give flight to the bird of spiritual experience. Sam means truth and khya means to realize, so truth realization is the goal of Samkhya. Samkhya also means number and it enumerates the 25 cosmic principles that make up the universe. Samkhya guides the seeker towards truth and Yoga gives the practical means to realize and experience ultimate truth. According to Samkhya, belief alone is not sufficient. If truth is knowable, then a means must be available. The universe that we perceive with the senses is only the surface beneath which the subtle cause remains hidden. The subtle cause can only be seen by the insight attained through meditation. So Yoga teaches us how to meditate and gives us the tool to enquire. The 25 cosmic principles enumerated by Samkhya consist of Prakriti, cosmic existence which has 24 principles and Purusha, pure consciousness, making 25. The Seen is Prakriti and the Seer is Purusha. Yoga practice moves us from identification with the Seen to our true identity with the Seer, a state of infinite peace, bliss and freedom. The 24 principles of nature are 1) Purusha; 2) Prakriti; 3) Mahat – cosmic mind; 4) ahamkara – ego; 6-10) five tanmatras –subtle sound, touch, sight, taste and hearing: 11-15) Five sense organs – ear, skin, eye, nose, tongue; 16-20) Five organs of action – mouth, hands, feet, sexual organ, anus; 21-25) five great elements – ether, air, fire, water, earth. This Samkhya system is adopted completely by Yoga, to which it adds ashtanga yoga as its practical method of truth realization. Prakriti consists of three gunas or energy states and all the 24 principles are combinations of these. The three gunas are the factors of bondage. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, the qualities born of material nature, bind fast in the body, O Arjuna.  The mind is satva, the life-force rajas and the body tamas. But rajas (distraction and desire) and tamas (inertia and ignorance) enter into the mind. Yoga removes the rajas and tamas from the mind so restoring the natural state of satva. A satvic mind can discern the truth, reflect and then realise the Purusha, pure spirit. The Yoga Sutra gives three steps to attain the goal of truth-realization: Kriya Yoga (ritual and devotion), Ashtanga Yoga (Yoga practice), and Samyama (focused awareness in meditation). Meditation takes us through 4 stages corresponding to the 24 principles of Nature moving from the gross to the subtle. We begin with our senses and end with unmanifest Nature. Having known the whole of creation, the last step is the realization of the independent, transcendent nature of Purusha. This is called viveka – khyati, knowledge of the difference between Nature and Spirit. So, Samkhya provides the guiding knowledge, Yoga the tool, Samyama.

Kathy Kiefer

YOGA IN THE NEW AGE

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YOGA IN THE NEW AGE

 

What is yoga and New Age all about?   Is it for a select few or for everyone?   Are there benefits and if so what?

The Sanskrit/Hindu word “Yoga” means: “Yuj Atman Brahman ca,” (“To yoke to one’s individual Soul and Soul Source.”) The various (authentic) Yoga’s are the means by which Hindus achieve this Soul/Self-Realization: Karma Yoga (ethics), Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Raja Yoga (meditation) and Jnana Yoga (outer and inner study or enlightenment). There are other Yoga’s within these classic Hindu/Yoga’s, such as: Hatha Yoga (Hindu devotional postures).

It is Hatha that is, generally, distorted by the simplistic use of “Yoga.” With a vital ethical and devotional attitude (posture), the Hindu (or student of Hinduism) is now ready for the physical postures (asanas). The asanas represent a specifically Hindu worldview. “Hatha” refers not only to nature worship (moon; sun: tha) but also to the Hindu deities Siva, Vishnu (Hara; Hari).

The “Soul” purpose of the asanas is to create a healthy body, calm mind and emotions in order to enter the spirit realms. It is for this Soul purpose that, of all the Hindu/Yoga’s, Hatha Yoga was supposed to be kept, relatively, secret. Sages realized that the immature would emphasize the body, thus, completely distorting the spiritual intent. Feeling good at the expense of others is not an ethical choice.

New Age Yoga (NAY) is: Hot Yoga, Power Yoga and Gentle Yoga, to name few. There are especially arrogant individuals who even attach their own names to these Hindu disciplines. There are so-called 200 hour Certified Yoga Teachers and Yoga Therapists.

Imagine treating Baptism and Communion as an Underwater Therapy and Wine Tasting business! Envision a Fitness Rabbi, Diet Pope and Gaming Imam! Picture Hot Baptism (at your local gym), Power Mass and Gentle Genuflecting! How about a 200 hour Certified Communion Teacher greeting students with Hallelujah and denying any Christian connection? How about marketing Baptism pants to display one’s physical accomplishments! As ridiculous as this seems, this is exactly how callous, absurd and insulting is the NAY crusade.

How many also realize that, factually, the following are sacred Sanskrit/Hindu terms: Namaste, Karma, Mantra, Guru, Swastika and Chakras? How many are aware that Hindus invented the all-important zero? Along with Yoga, these Hindu terms have been co-opted and distorted beyond recognition. Unfortunately, not a week goes by that the press and Madison Avenue do not aid in reinforcing the abuse of these religious terms. NAY is bringing in big money.

In the “NAY sayers” dogma, Yoga is everything but religion. To them, Yoga is a physical exercise and, perhaps, an elite universal spiritual practice. The thoughtless cliché: “I am spiritual but not religious,” is a common deception. It is in this pseudo-spirituality that NAY gets very bizarre.

Covertly indoctrinating one into any religion is abusive. Scattering Hindu terms and displaying Hindu images into a so-called Yoga class should be cause for not only questioning the religion of the teacher but also the intent. And, “naturally,” it costs money for these “spiritual teachings.” Those who feel superior to the more religious should remember everyone is free to go into any religious service.

There are many established religions. Of course, a truly creative individual may come up with something new. However, stealing from an existing religion (and/or culture), then denying it, and profiting from it is the M.O. of the usurper. Repeated invasions of India have left many Hindus in a state of confusion, at best. Hindus have historically been “an easy mark” and are at fault for not learning and protecting their religion. Some Hindus simply give up: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Yoga is a set of exercises and meditations that come from Hinduism. Hinduism is a religion that begins in the 16th century BC. The purpose of Yoga is to reach nirvana – the state of bliss, which should be achieved through exercises, meditation and fasting. Many teachers of Yoga instruct their followers to repeat mantra during meditation. It is most often that people from Europe and USA do not even know what they are saying, and this can be very harmful for them. They also have breathing techniques which they call pranayama. Teachers of Yoga will explain those techniques as something beneficial, but it’s just the opposite. One breathing technique is called “Breath of the snake” and this technique really goes into occult. It is very dangerous to practice such techniques.

Teachers of Yoga usually belong to the class of Brahmins, and in Hinduism they consider themselves gods. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Some of their gods are real historical persons like Krishna, and others are false gods like Brahma, Shiva or Vishnu. They sometimes even consider animals to be gods.   Yoga teachers claim that with practicing of Yoga, a person can achieve peace, joy and the state of bliss, but that is impossible without true God, Jesus Christ. The peace cannot be achieved just with exercises and meditation. What brings true peace is a peaceful conscience, and only God can forgive sins.

There are websites, like Christians Practicing Yoga, where they use sentences from the Bible: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”(Philippians 2:12-13). They interpret this sentence as if person has to find his own way to salvation, but with “fear and trembling”. Teachings like this are completely wrong. Not only that you don’t have to practice Yoga, but you shouldn’t practice Yoga at all, exactly because of that passage in the Bible. Jesus never, in the whole New Testament, mentioned that Yoga or Hinduism is a way to salvation. On the contrary, Hinduism is a false religion.

The following passage from the Bible states: “Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10,7).  This passage appears to refer to all those gurus, avatars, yogis and others that were before Jesus, or that will come in the modern times.

There are many different types of Yoga like: Sahaja Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, but all these differences come from different teachers, because Hinduism is practically a conglomerate of beliefs and practices. In USA they have society that promotes Christian Yoga. On their website you can find explanations like this one: “We become more spiritually healthy through the yoga practice by calming our minds and quieting ourselves to the point that we can tune out the world’s frequency and tune into God’s frequency.” To say something like that is absurd because Jesus Christ doesn’t have any frequency. What really brings peace is a Christian prayer and meditation. Christian meditation is when you adore before the Blessed Sacrament, when you pray in the Church or at home, when you read Bible or any other Christian book and meditate upon the meaning of what you have read. We all need peace and rest, and Jesus advised his apostles to get some rest. But it is wrong to seek peace in false religions and from false Gods because you are not going to get it.

In Hinduism, they also believe in reincarnation, and that is a belief that a man, after his death, reincarnates to another man who lives better or worse, according to his merits or sins from his past life. This teaching is unacceptable in Christianity. God created a man, and in his life he should determine himself for God, and live by his commandments. God gave us Salvation in his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for us on the cross in order to set us free from sin and give us eternal life. This Salvation is a unity with God forever.

Yoga is a technique, and you can’t reach true peace with it, nor can you really find the truth, nor can you achieve salvation because it is a gift of Jesus Christ. All those Chinese and Indians who are saved were saved through Jesus Christ, although they maybe never heard of him.

 Kathy Kiefer

 

ASHTANGA YOGA

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ASHTANGA YOGA

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, also known as Ashtanga Yoga, is a style of yoga codified and popularized by  K. Pattabhi Jois, it is often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is named after the eight limbs of yoga mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanajli.

Power Yoga and vinyasa yoga are generic terms that may refer to any type of vigorous yoga exercise derived from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.  The term vinyasa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static asanas into a dynamic flow. The length of one inhale or one exhale dictates the length of time spent transitioning between asanas. Asanas are then held for a predefined number of breaths. In effect, attention is placed on the breath and the journey between the asanas rather than solely on achieving perfect body alignment in an asana, as is emphasized in Hatha Yoga.  The term vinyasa can also refer to a specific series of movements that are frequently done between each asana in a series. This viṅyāsa ‘flow’ is a variant of Surya namaskara, the Sun Salutations, and is used in other styles of yoga other than Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. An example of a standard vinyasa is from a seated position, a ‘jump-back’, low plank, upward-facing dog, downward-facing dog, ending with a ‘jump-through’, directly into the next asana.

The breathing style used in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is referred to as “free breathing with sound” or “normal breath with free flow”. This breathing is characterized by a relaxed diaphragmatic style, producing an ocean sound, which resonates in the practitioner’s throat. Throughout a practice, this specific breathing style is maintained in alignment with movements. The steady cycle of inhales and exhales provides the practitioner with a calming, mental focal point. Additionally, viṅyāsa and this type of breathing together create internal heat, which leads to purification of the body through increased circulation and sweating.

The first four limbs—yama, niyama, asana, pranayama—are considered external cleansing practices. According to Pattabhi Jois, defects in the external practices are correctable. However, defects in the internal cleansing practices—pratyahara, dharana, dhyana—are not correctable and can be dangerous to the mind unless the correct Ashtanga yoga method is followed.  The definition of yoga is “the controlling of the mind” and are the perfection of yama and niyama.  However, it is “not possible to practice the limbs and sub-limbs of yama and niyama when the body and sense organs are weak and haunted by obstacles”. A person must first take up daily asana practice to make the body strong and healthy. With the body and sense organs thus stabilized, the mind can be steady and controlled.  To perform asana correctly in Ashtanga yoga, one must incorporate the use of vinyasa and tristhana. “Vinyasa means breathing and movement system. For each movement, there is one breath. The first vinyasa is inhaling while raising your arms over your head, and putting your hands together; the second is exhaling while bending forward, placing your hands next to your feet.

The purpose of vinyasa is for internal cleansing.   Synchronizing breathing and movement in the asanas heats the blood, cleaning and thinning it so that it may circulate more freely. Improved blood circulation relieves joint pain and removes toxins and disease from the internal organs. The sweat generated from the heat of vinyasa then carries the impurities out of the body. Through the use of vinyasa, the body becomes healthy, light and strong.  Tristhana refers to the union of “three places of attention or action: posture, breathing system and looking place. These three are very important for yoga practice, and cover three levels of purification: the body, nervous system and mind. They are always performed in conjunction with each other.

Another major principle of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the bandha, or muscle locking/contraction, which focuses energy in the body and is closely tied to the breath.   Breathing: The breathing technique performed with vinyasa is called ujjayi [victorious breath] which consists of inhalation and exhalation.   Both the inhale and exhale should be steady and even, the length of the inhale should be the same length as the exhale. Over time, the length and intensity of the inhalation and exhalation should increase, such that the increased stretching of the breath initiates the increased stretching of the body.  Long, even breathing also increases the internal fire and strengthens and purifies the nervous system. Bandhas are essential components of the ujjayi breathing technique.Without bandha control, “breathing will not be correct, and the asanas will give no benefit.

Practicing asana for many years with correct vinyasa and tristhana gives the student the clarity of mind, steadiness of body, and purification of the nervous system to begin the prescribed pranayama practice.  Through the practice of pranayama, the mind becomes arrested in a single direction and follows the movement of the breath. Pranayama forms the foundation for the internal cleansing practices of Ashtanga yoga.

The four internal cleansing practices—pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi—bring the mind under control.   When purification is complete and mind control occurs, the Six Poisons surrounding the spiritual heart [kama (desire), krodha (anger), moha (delusion), lobha (greed), matsarya (sloth), and mada (envy)]—will, one by one, go completely revealing the Universal Self.

The existence or historicity of this oral transmission cannot be verified, and the text itself has not been preserved. It is said to have been made up of stanzas using rhymed, metered sutras, in the manner common to texts transmitted orally in the guru-shishya tradition.   The name Yoga Korunta is the Tamilized pronunciation of the Sanskrit words Yoga grantha, meaning “book about yoga”.   Ashtanga series is said to have its origin in an ancient text called the Yoga Korunta.   The story of the Yoga Korunta though finds no evidence in any historical research on the subject. It seems that no text with this name has ever been written. In addition, there is evidence that the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga series incorporates exercises used by Indian wrestlers and British gymnastics. Recent academic research details documentary evidence that physical journals in the early 20th century were full of the postural shapes that were very similar to Krishnamnacharya’s asana system.     Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has since been thought of as a physically demanding practice, which can be successful at channeling the hyperactivity of young minds. This system can also be used as a vessel for helping calm ongoing chatter of the mind, reducing stress and teaching extroverted personalities to redirect their attention to their internal experience.

The first four limbs—yama, niyama, asana and pranayama—are considered external cleansing practices. According to Pattabhi Jois, defects in these external practices are correctable while defects in the internal cleansing practices—pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi—are not. Pattabhi Jois thought these internal defects to be potentially dangerous to the mind unless the correct Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga method was followed.

There are three bandhas which are considered our internal body locks, prescribed in the different asanas. The bandha is a sustained contraction of a group of muscles that assists the practitioner not only in retaining an asana but also in moving in and out of it. The Mula Bandha, or root lock, is performed by tightening the muscles around the pelvic and perineum area. The Uddiyana Bandha, often described as bringing the navel to the base of the spine, is a contraction of the muscles of the lower abdominal area – this bandha is considered the most important bandha as it supports our breathing and encourages the development of strong core muscles. Jalandhara Bandha, throat lock, is achieved by lowering the chin slightly while raising the sternum and the palate bringing the gaze to the tip of the nose.     Drishti, or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention. The most common is Ūrdhva, or upward gazing, where the eyes are lifted, with the spine aligned from crown to tailbone. This technique is employed in a variety of asanas.

There are, in total, nine drishtis that instruct the yoga student in directing his or her gaze. Each asana is associated with a particular drishti. They include:   Aṅguṣṭha madhyai: to the thumb; Bhrūmadhya: to the third eye, or between the eyebrows; Nāsāgrai: at the tip of the nose (or a point six inches from the tip); Hastagrai: to the palm, usually the extended hand; Pārśva: to the left/right side;  Ūrdhva: to the sky, or upwards; Nābhicakra: to the navel; and Pādayoragrai: to the toes.

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The Ashtanga practice is traditionally started with the following Sanskrit mantra:

I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus,
The awakening happiness of one’s own self revealed,
Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician,
Pacifying delusion, the poison of samsara.

Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
One thousand heads white,
To Patanjali, I salute.

and closes with the mangala mantra:

May prosperity be glorified,
may rulers (administrators) rule the world with law and justice,
may divinity and erudition be protected.
May all beings be happy and prosperous.

A more literal translation:

May it be well with the people.
Let Earth’s rulers protect the Earth with the path of law and justice.
May good fortune always befall cows and Brahmins.
May all the worlds be happy and comfortable.

Power Yoga, taking from its Hatha Yoga roots, consists of both a standing and sitting sequences of movements linking the usage of physical movement, breath-work or pranayama and meditation. Power Yoga strikes a balance between the originating values of yoga found in India and the North American societally driven demands for physical exercise.

Power Yoga is often practiced in a hot room held at a temperature approximate to 105°F.     Power Yoga has been argued to be the fundamental style of Hatha yoga that allowed for cultural acceptance of yoga in North America. According to the North American Studio Alliance, 30 million people are practicing yoga in the United States of America.  This includes practitioners not just of Power Yoga, but the entire practice of Hatha Yoga.

 Kathy Kiefer