Journaling and self-reflection have long been critical components to personal development and lifestyle enrichment. Philosophers, writers, artists and scientists such as Dante, Anaïs Nin, Leonardo Di Vinci, John Dewey and Nikola Tesla all kept personal journals. They also kept very accurate field notes, which have accurately reflected their views in throughout their life. Like them, there is a beautiful, yet mysterious side to us all. There is an energy potential waiting to surface, unfold and express itself through the various channels of our being— all through the efforts of self-inquiry. So please, when working with ALFW, be as honest as possible when working through your workbook questions, journaling and peronal enhancement exercises. Be sure to work through the course on your own terms! Make sense of it in such a way that it becomes an uplifting personal experience— something you look forward to do on a regular basis. The premise of this course is for you to begin to see your own emerging patterns as it relates to emotional wellness. That is to say, begin to see things which are either too close or too far away to otherwise see. In a nutshell, ALFW is a process of refining (y)our mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. It is about perserverence, thouroughness, tranquility, poise and contemplation. Lastly, it is about learning how to understand and control our emotional circuitry. ALFW is also about tenacity… learning how to take your life in a new direction. The majority of the elements of this course may be shared with others via social media. Conversely, you may keep it completely private. It’s all good no matter what you choose to do. Just be sure to understand that it is always more effective to share who we are with others and get their perspective as to what they see and feell about us. Please note; while ALFW is a very effective tool for personal growth and development, it does not in any way substitute the need for professional counseling and/or psychotherapy. If you feel that many of the things in your life are just a little too much to handle, please consult a mental health professional. You may also reach out to like-minded people by reaching ou to others and interacting with our ALFW blog.
Very often when people take the time for themselves they feel guilty, selfish and even self-centered! Let me dispel this ill perception: Truly the only way for you (or anyone else) to stay sharp, healthy and skillful is to take the time to maintain your good health. We all know that we must care for ourself to be mindfully more effective and helpful to others. It really is this simple. Moreover, we must understand the critical importance of teaching our children (all children) this very same thing: to love themselves as they are— again, this should never be confused with selfishness or being self-centered. Individuality is a basic human right and not a privilege. The right to be different is the fundamental backdrop of being healthy! So, with this in mind, remember to be as light and playful as possible when working with this workbook and journal. Do not take any of this material too seriously.
Congratulations on discovering this amazing course. It will be a valuable companion on your journey inward. My personal journey has been blessed with the presence of Miguel Latronica, his expansive wisdom, knowledge and passion for yoga. This course, however, is more than just a course about yoga; It contains an interactive process for healing at all levels: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
As a physician I have spent more than 20 years exploring wellness. My quest to understand1 the multidimensional aspects f wellness and healing began in public health and then traditional allopathic medicine. I soon recognized that our traditional model (with its focus on treating disease) was lacking in helping to create dynamic wellness. This personal paradigm shift has led me to explore yoga, meditation, and ayurvedic medicine. One of the many interesting features of Miguel’scourse is how he incorporates so many aspects of healing and wellness. A Light From Within is a beautiful and comprehensive exploration of both yoga and wellness. In the West, many tend to perceive yoga as only the physical practice of postures, or asanas. I am so excited to be able to recommend and share a book, such as Miguel’s which explores many aspects of yoga and self-care, ultimately leading to self-healing.
There have been several recent articles in major publications about the increasing popularity of yoga. In general, these focus on the physical practice of yoga– the asanas. While this is a great doorway into what we call yoga, there are, nonetheless, many other facets (or jewels) of yoga that allow us to shine and experience our “light” more deeply. Miguel’s course helps to do just that: He guides us in a process of learning how to cultivate the “jewels” of yoga from within. For example, in addition to the 52 physical yoga poses, we also learn how to blend and incorporate breath work (pranayama), mudras (energy locks) and other exercises too.The journaling and workbook exercises allow us to to peel away the unwanted layers of our life. It is through this process that we may learn to become aware of how the words we speak and images we conjure affect who we are.
A Light From Within encourages us to explore the way we think and feel about the things before us. This is what makes this course different from any other yoga courses I’ve ever seen. Its method leads one to the heartfelt process of self-inquiry. It presents a self-guided process based on your personal historical timeline and can therefore be personalized. The method presented here can be beautifully utilized alone, or in small group settings such as yoga teacher trainings. It is very interactive and includes social links to share and exchanging your thoughts and ideas with like-minded people. More importantly, it can be used alone and kept private so that no one but you sees and interacts with its content.
For those with minimal free time, explore one section of the course at a time. You can start anywhere and explore it’s many options. Just as we are all unique beings, the course can be individualized to provide a unique experience for each and every person. Becoming whole, healed or well requires attention to not only our physical body but also our othermore subtle layers. Traditionally, the disease-centric model of Western medicine has failed to address this unity of body. We developed “ologies” or separate silos of specialties. Fortunately, I am blessed on my journey as an integrative physician to have discovered functional medicine: a systems biology approach to wellness, understanding that the entire system (mind, body, spirit) functions and cooperates together. Specifically, functional medicine looks upstream at the root causes of disease and illness, in order to create wellness and vitality. It is more than naming a disease and prescribing a medicine. Rather, it is about digging deep to understand causes and individual variability, in order to heal and be well and vital.
A Light From Within is like a functional method for exploring yoga and wellness. It focuses on the unity of the body, mind and spirit. There are comprehensive directions of each asana, as well as corresponding journal entries, reflective questions, affirmations, mudras and haikus. In this book, you will learn about the subtle aspects of wellness, such as our energetic system, through exploring the power of mudras. The questions for journaling guide us to dig deep and understand the many layers of our subtle being. Each workbook question has a table to rate and explore our emotional imprint or intelligence. When we recognize and rate the parameters of our emotions, we bring more clarity and awareness to our feelings. We all have the ability to heal and turn toward greater health and wellness.In order to heal, we need to understand what role conditioning has played in our lives. In A Light From Within, Miguel provides a rich format in which to explore self-awareness and self-acceptance with gratitude and grace.
This course helps us to better see and understand our habits and cultural biases. It actually encourages us to learn to be more present in the moment and develop habits that encourage mindfulness. In our world today, we are rich with opportunities to disconnect from ourselves and our surroundings. We can find endless ways to occupy and distract ourselves from the process of life, from pain and suffering, and ultimately distance ourselves from joy and contentment. Being aware of our breath is one such practice we can cultivate. From our first inhalation to our last, our breath gives us life. In between this first and last are potentially billions of breaths of which we may never take notice, and that we often take for granted.
The section on Pranayama teaches us how to harness the subtle healing potential of prana. We can create a contract with the sublime healing forces of pranic healing from our breath. Traditionally,yoga has eight different limbs or rungs to it. A Light From Within focuses on the asanas, mudras, questions and journaling, it includes more than 50 hours of meditative exercises. The entire course is divided into Four Seasons, 52 weeks, or sections of your life. You can begin anywhere. Just begin where you are.
Please checked this checkbox for completed yoga pose.
Lie down on the mat belly side down (prone).
Keep hips, torso, shoulders and arms on the ground.
Lift left leg up off floor and slither it further back behind the right foot.
Keeping the left leg fully engaged, lift the right leg up and move it back to meet the left tips of the left foot. Legs should be about 6 inches from each other.
Place hands slightly out in front (or under) the shoulders, while keeping the elbows lined up with the sides of the torso.
On an inhalation, begin to straighten out the arms so that the head and torso lift up off the floor.
Be sure not to pinch the lower back. Keep the tailbone tucking in toward the floor and pubis toward the navel.
While keeping the buttocks soft, inhale and lengthen the spine, but again, be sure not to increase the lordosis in the low back or at the neck (cervical).
As the hands press the floor down and away, be sure to broaden the back of the shoulder blades away from each other.
Keep the eyes and face soft.
Hold the pose anywhere from 10-40 seconds.
Pearls of Wisdom
Bhujanga means cobra in Sanskrit. The snake, or serpent, embodies the life of the spine. Kundalini, the serpent goddess, the symbol of our divine potential energy, is said to lie sleeping at the base of the spine. In this pose, we seek out our relationship to gravity, using consciousness to rise with great discrimination, as the cobra does, to meet opportunities. Bhujangasana strengthens, tones, and lengthens the muscles of the spine and back, helps to align the spinal disks, stimulates the thyroid, kidneys, adrenals, tones the uterus and helps to regulate the endocrine system, assisting in reproductive and menstrual problems. As the chest opens, lung capacity is increased, also helping to massage the heart. For the front body to open, the pubic bone must press into the ground, lengthening the low back, which makes more energy available to rise along the spine, allowing the heart to open to feeling, and the mind to open to intuition and discrimination, allowing the choices we make to become more conscious.
Front View of Hips
We highly recommend that you hold this mudra for at least 5 minutes in a seated meditation. Perform it at least 13 different times. Mudras may also be utilized while holding a yoga pose. Remember, mudras tend to be subtle and are very powerful in their own way.
K a n g u l a [ kan-gu-lam ]
The Kangula or “tail” mudra signifies the small or diminutive. It is the gesture of holding up a child’s face by the chin; representing a bird, little bells worn by children, pills, a coconut, the betal nut tree or fruits.
As explained in the pranayama chapter, bandhas are energetic “locks” or interconnecting energy points within the pranic body at the most subtle level. On the physical level, the bandhas have corresponding gross focal points not unlike other yogic tools and practices and have an impact on the mental and physical state of the body. The internal actions sustained by bandha activation within the body have the following effects:
1. Help generate and maintain heat in the body.
2. Support the four natural curves of the spine.
3. Help to focus awareness on subtle energetic experiences.
4. Help set the way for meditative/contemplative absorption. Bandhas may also be included in one of the eight limbs called pratyahara (sense withdrawal). Learning to change the energetic sensations both internally and intuitively requires a deeper commitment to both presence and attention to the details from awareness. Initially, the concept of a “lock” may be useful however, the and has are as much (if not more) an “energetic intention” than a physical muscular contraction. In fact, as one develops and advances the use of bandhas, less “physical energy” is used to achieve the same (and sometimes even greater) subtle results.
The throat or chin lock is engaged on either the inhale or exhale. For beginners, the recommendation is on the inhalation only. The chin lock can be activated by beginning with lifting the sternum upward and drawing the chin slightly back toward the occipital ridge at the back of the neck. Allow the space t the back of the ears to tilt upward slightly until the skin of the sides and back of the neck feels taunt. Finally, lower the chin down slightly toward the space at the center of the throat.
Jalandhara bandha corresponds to the Vishuddhi Chakra and raises air and space energy up the central channel.It draws prana vayu (upward flowing energy downward for mixing with apana vayu). The throat lock stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands. It is used to keep the collected elemental energies and prana from escaping the central nadhi channel. On a physical level, the bandha is associated with keeping the pressure in the carotid sinuses in the neck artificially elevated. The result of the increase in pressure in the throat allows the brain’s natural defense against high blood pressure to be reset temporarily as the practitioner holds the breath for longer periods than would be possible without using the technique. With careful practice, the use of Jalandhara can reduce the heartbeat and help establish a feeling of meditative or contemplative awareness.
The upward flying lock is engaged best on the exhalation of breath down to the residual volume capacity (the amount of air still contained within the lungs once you have exhaled as much as possible and the root lock is engaged. In order for the middle lock to be effective, the root lock engages automatically (for most ) and the chin/throat lock must be used to seal the vacuum from above in the glottis. This seal causes the internal breathing diaphragm to lift upward. Hold in emptiness and keep the Jalandhara lock in place. Attempt to inhale to lift and expand the thoracic ribs laterally but do not inhale, hold the breath out. Uddiyana bandha corresponds to the swadisthana, manipura, and anahata chakras. It raises water energy up the central channel. The upward flying lock tones the abdominal organs and stimulates the heart and thymus.
The root lock is engaged best on the exhalation for most beginners although it can be activated on the inhalation. Bring awareness to the abdomino-pelvic floor region. Initially work toward contractions in the urogenital and rectal triangles combined.As your ability to refine the core lift develops, become more centered on lifting at the baseline that connects these two triangles, located medially between the genitals and the coccyx. In this space are the deep pelvic floor muscles, shaped like a hammock that supports the pelvic floor organs. Hold the lift briefly and then inhale, allowing it to relax. The root lock corresponds to the Muladhara (root chakra) and raises earth and fire energies upward along the central channel. The root lock draws apana vayu (downward) flowing energy upward. The deep toning of the pelvic floor muscles with mula bandha helps pelvic and lumbar stabilization in many positions. Many poses can be facilitated with greater ease using the root lock, and some poses are next to impossible to perform without the technique.
The integrated involvement of all the bandhas at once is called the great lock. The Mahabandha, also known as Tri Bandha, offers the integration of all the aforementioned principles and moves the individual practices to a new space of awareness where the parts no longer equal the whole. The use of all three locks is said to break down the three psychic knots believed to exist within the subtle body. The knots are detailed as:
1) Brahma granthi— the knot that has us attached to the material realm. 2) Vishnu granthi— the knot that has us attached to our emotions. 3) Rudra granthi— the knot that has us attached to our individuality.
The use of Maha Bhanda offers the yogic practitioner the opportunity to deepen awareness of the inner realm in addition to the external based explorations of asana and other elements. It is a factor in yogic lore of chakra activation and kundalini or pranic flow into the primary subtle channel, called Sashumna Nadhi.
1. Begin with Mulabandha, Jalandhara, and finally Uddiyana bandha in sequencing the introduction of the bandhas.
2. External breath retention (holding with breath out of the body) is considered a more advance technique and not appropriate for beginners. The Bandhas may increase intracavity pressure and are not appropriate for those with acute conditions of the pelvic floor or the abdominothoracic and cranial regions.
3. Offer easier exploration of all the bandhas by positional work previous to seated bandha work.
4. We can get a feeling for the Jalandhara bandha and prepare our energy and physical structures by holding a rolled-up sock, a small beanbag, pad, or the like in between the chin and sternal notch.
5. Practice bandhas after you have demonstrated skill at basic pranayama techniques previously introduced
There is an expression: Take down three walls, but leave the fourth one standing: this is the centerpiece of your being grounded. Welcome to A Light From Within Yoga Coarse™ (ALFW™). I commend you in your desire and willingness to create vibrant health and achieve greater awareness. We all have the ability to transcend our personal experiences, and, it is never too late to live our life the way we want to live: to renew or reconstruct the blueprint(s) of our life’s perceptions. ALFW is based not only on the seasons of the year, but the seasons of our life. It has a common-sense approach to the art of lighter living. It is deeply grounded into the roots and details of our life, our community, our friends and our family. In many ways, it helps us to become more aware and tuned in to the conscious process of “letting go and holding on.” I invite you to think of this course as your living autobiography. Feel free to explore its many different platforms and possibilities. Have fun with it! Now, I’d like to introduce you to some of the courses operating principles. First and foremost, unlike a novel, you needn’t read and work through the book logically from the beginning to end. It is dynamic and is meant to be as polymorphic as possible.
I encourage you to take your time with this course as the purpose is the process. The course is based on a 342 page book and has six chapters. It is divided into two parts. Part One contains 102 Health and Wellness news updates, 102 workbook questions and 102 journal entry plates. Part Two contains the physical yoga exercises, anatomical renderings, personal enhancement exercises, mudra meditations and miscellaneous Pearls of Wisdom. It is self-directed, and after interacting with the it for just a short while, you will begin to see and feel the difference it makes in your life. Just remember: do not over-edit yourself while responding to the workbook questions.
The important thing to keep in mind while working through the course is that as long as you’re journaling and answering the workbook questions, you’re doing the work. And, as long as you’re practicing the physical yoga poses, mudras, and other exercises, again… you’re doing the work. When it comes to working through personal change, many of us take an analytical approach, while others may take on a more organic and intuitive approach. No matter your approach… it’s all good! After all, we’re all neurologically wired a little differently. That said, ALFW was specifically designed to be used by the many different kinds of thinkers and learners.
A young or elderly woman?
We all know that we feel and experience things differently in life. So, many of the things that live and express themselves through us now are nothing more than mirrored portals from the past. Living in full awareness requires the ability to transcend any and all forms of prior conditioning. When we safely bring to surface the various layers of our past conditioning, we also expose the many operating assumptions and preconceived notions attached to them… which, more often than not, sometimes mislead the direction of our life’s purpose.
This course is self-reporting and is based on your life’s own timeline. What you get out of the course depends entirely what you put in to it. The ALFW method demonstrates how often it is that you may (or may not) have consciously, and even unconsciously chosen to default to the various emotional responses throughout your life. Emotions proceed and are very different from our feelings. They request an in-the-moment response. They cue us in on the various events from within and around our physical body. However, they are more concrete and measurable than are our feelings. Emotions can be measured by Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), blood Flow, facial Expression, body language and brain EEG patterns. And, we must remember, we all have an equal opportunity as to how we chose to act or react. When we objectively chose to respond to our emotions, there is greater clarification, more reciprocity and greater mindfulness. However, when we blindly live out our the energy of our emotions, there tends to be a greater disconnect in the mind-body-heart tryad. Like the old saying “Every coin has three sides”: two large flat sides (opposite to each other), and the third side: the edge with which connecs the two. I like to tell remind both myself and my students that it is the third side with which we gauge and give rise to either given side. Simply put: It acts as our filters. what ever filters through creates the presentation.
Let’s face it, we all know what it’s like to have experienced insecurity or rejection. We all know how uncomfortable negative emotions tend make us to feel. However, it is very important to understand the critical importance of not getting caught up in the whirlwind of any single emotion. So if we remember to incorporate the tools and skills of critical thinking, we may more readily stay in the moment of mindfulness. Let’s look at this scenario a little differently: hypothetically speaking, if we were to strip away all the elements of time such as the past, present and future, what would be left for us to see? I will tell you: the raw collection of all your lifelong learning, conditioning and coping mechanisms. These “functions,” in part, represent how often it is that you have habitually (or otherwise) gravitated toward and/or defaulted to overusing particular positive and/or negative emotions. Remember, we are looking to balance our emotions and feelings— not get rid of them.
Emotions serve us in such a beautiful way— each has a place, purpose and function. It is critically important to remember that all the various things that have happened to you— in throughout your life, are exactly what led you to be the wonderful person you are today! Embrace and feel your gifts. But at the same time, trust yourself to let go of that which no longer serves your purpose: Journal and talk to others about your life:Let’s open the doors and windows of our lives together!
In life we create goals to get or achieve the things we need and want to get done.There are countless ways upon which to aim and direct the bow and arrows of our life. And, we all know that, until now, there were endless excuses and personal circumstances, which, in one way or another, seems to justify and validate our beliefs, behaviors and habits. Our intention influences the integrity and clarity of our perception’s aim. So, we must find effective ways with which to feel more safe and secure in expressing ourselves to others. A Light From Within is an inquiry into the heart and wisdom of your life. It is an effective tool to explore the various landscapes of your being. This brings us to the subject of yoga: Yoga helps to bridge the mental, physical and spiritual triad of our life. It is a practice whose integrative process allows for uncanny discernment. Yoga helps to teach us to become more present and it actually helps to create greater community! Throughout the six chapters of this book, you will learn how to safely open up to the more hidden aspects of yourself so that you may more easily accept that of which is, and that of which isn’t. You will safely learn how to tap into the poetic truth from within your heartfelt being. In many ways, ALFW is a living autobiography that helps guide us away from our fictitious being and more toward our truthful self. A famous German poet by the name of Friedrich Hölderlin once said:”Dichterisch wohnet der Mensch” Poetically man dwells
“Never let your negative past steal the beauty of your present.” -Edmond M Biaka
So, learning how to open up to yourself, is, in part, a lesson of patience and great observation. One important thing to keep in mind while working with this book is that feelings are not always analyzable as is emotion. In other words, sometimes it is a “gut feeling,” a sensation, thought or association from the past that gives rise to an emotion. So, after working through this course for just a short while, you will begin to understand the difference between an emotion and a feeling. Here is a brief distinction:
Feelings are senses working through your body via: • Hearing • Taste • Sight • Smell • Heat • Cool • Pain • Pleasure • Sense of balance (vestibular) •Pressure •Motion (kinesthetic)
Emotions are somatic: They are felt/sense-based processes that you can experience within your body. Again, emotions are physical and instinctive. They are programmed into subcortical levels of the right and left brain as stimulus-response patterns.
In many ways, when you read or hear the words “Poetically man dwells,”‘ please know that this is what I think the author had intended: Every living person is mortal and capable of dying. Therefore, here on earth, over a period of time, one man replaces another. Therefore, the dwelling is both you and the earth, together to do the miracles of one only thing. We find and/or create a more meaningful perspective by comparing the nature of our existence to that of which is linked to the greater whole: something greater than ourselves. For example, this could be your Godhead, nature or even the skies and stars above. When we learn to trust and feel more comfortable in our skin, we no longer have the fear (as an emotion) in exposing our vulnerabilities, wounds and scars to others. And why would we want to make ourself vulnerable and more visible to others? Well, because when we work through the fires of introspection, we create a clearing or space for a whole new possibility.
Positive personal change is akin to that of a flowing river. A river continuously fills and empties itself. Again, we see a process of holding on and letting go. Water continuously morphs. You may know the old saying by Heraclitus,”You can never step into the same river twice.” This is also nature’s way of assuring Her health and resilience:emptying and filling itself. This is no different than how we conduct and maintain our daily life. One of the six entry points (portals) into ALFW is Haiku. A haiku, traditionally, is a 17-syllable poem. It was invented in the late 19th century by the Japanese. Haiku has always been deeply rooted into Zen culture. Haikus are arranged in a three-line format of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Why did I choose to incorporate haiku as an integral part or entry point of this book? Simple: Haiku helps to express our union with nature. Usually, they revolve around the four seasons of the year,and are otherwise timeless. Haiku helps to cultivate simplicity and heightened awareness. They keep us grounded,close to the details and, truly, in the present moment. So, to that end, only you (the observer) and that of which is being observed (object) become one. The following quote was written by Basho describing the “ah-ness” of the haiku moment:
“Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. And in doing so, you must leave your subjective preoccupation with yourself. Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn. Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one – when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden glimmering there. However well-phrased your poetry may be,if your feeling is not natural – if the object and yourself are separate – then your poetry is not true poetry but merely your subjective counterfeit.1
Here is an example of a famous haiku, so famous that a group of Japanese men once carved it into the rocks of the mountains:
There is a beautiful moment in time when, every 17 years, cicadas appear seemingly out of nowhere. Their sounds are so piercing and intensely loud that nothing else seems to be of significant importance. Only the listening of the sounds of their celestial song. It is my great hope that ALFW will help you delve more deeply into the essence and nature of your personal experiences, that which makes you the beautiful person you are today.
The six main tenets of this book: • Self-cognition • Self-compassion and compassion for others • Fulfilling your social obligations such as donating or volunteering your time for others • Expansive emotional awareness • Social and cultural tolerance • Nonobjectification of animate and inanimate entities
The six main tenets of this book: • Attentive introspection • Appreciative discrimination • Confidence • Sustained effort • Integrative movement forward
1 Yussa Nobuyuki (trans.), Basho: The Narrow Road to the Deep Northand Other Travel Stretches (Hammondsworth, Midddlesex: Penguin, 1966).
Just below is an illustration of the Caduceus staff. It has somewhat of an esoteric meaning. However, it does have two serpents, each spiraling around a staff from two different directions. It also has a superimposed set of wings attached toward the top of the staff. Traditionally, the Caduceus relates to one’s physical and subtle being. As you can see, there are seven different colored discs known as chakras embedded upon the staff. Chakras are aligned along the axis of our spinal column. They consist of avortex of oscillating vibrations that regulate the subtle electrical impulses that affect the
Staff of Caduceus
seven different glands of the body. Chakras play a critical role in the function and operation of our endocrine system. They have to do with polarities and the transmutation of energy. Simply put: Chakras regulate the up and downward flow of energy via ida and pingala. Ultimately, it is their job to keep the sushmna healthy and resilient. There is an old saying by Hermes Trismegistus: “That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing.” So ou see, the upward moving force of the chakra system is prana and the downward moving force is apana. Each working “… to do the miracles of one only thing.” Chakras are nothing more than the regulation of a feedback loop.They seek to balance each other, just like all the other forces of nature do.When the earth and atmosphere get too hot, the ice caps melt to cool it off!
Now here is the beautiful irony: as Hermes Trismigistus said, there are two elements, one above and one below. The magic is in how the two elements come together to “do the miracles of one only thing.” All throughout time, the laws of opposites (or contrast) have existed. For example, let’s look at two elements from the periodic table— sodium and chloride— each by themselves, caustic and corrosive. The two together create a stable unit called table salt. The same is true of hydrogen and oxygen, left alone, each is explosive and even deadly. United, they sustain and create the harmony of the universe as we know it. So you see, in life, it is ery important to observe and respect the various laws which bind and hold things together as they do. In the scientific community there exists three different kingdoms of Life: Eukarya, Eubacteria and Archaea. In the yoga world, we also say that there are three kingdoms of Life: Animal, Vegetable and Mineral.
Each is a form of life. We must think to ourself: just because crystals do not have organs, brains or blood running through their “veins” doesn’t mean they are devoid of what is scientifically, otherwise believed to be “life qualifying.” In fact, crystals grow and belong to the mineral kingdom just like plants and animals. Through evolution, man is just one of God’s many beautiful expressions. In order to live and maintain a healthy planet, we must learn how to harmoniously coexist. We must also learn how to properly release strong and unwanted negative emotional patterns and replace them with positive and uplifting energy or habits. To that end, this book is about the nature of what binds light to dark, life to death and thought to form. Awareness is a process of learning how to accept yourself (and others) without condition. It is about learning how to forgive others, therefore yourself, for the stumbling blocks placed upon the path of your growth and autonomy. Awareness is, in part, learning to understand why things are the way they are— and not the way we’d like to change them for our personal gain.
In the parlance of yoga there is a concept known as Tapas, or Tapta Marga. Tapas is a spiritual process of rejuvenation.It is a heated-rebirth or renewal of energy. It usually involves giving up one thing for the gain of another. In many ways, it is akin to our yoga practice. Usually we build up heat when we string the asanas or poses of our physical practice. This, in turn, burns away many of the physical and emotional toxins in the body and mind. Therefore, we sacrifice physical effort for the gain of better health— a simplified explanation. The elements of nature have an incredible way of helping to recharge the batteries of our life. However, in order to accept the charge, we must remember to align and keep the cells of our thoughts and body healthy. Remember, while we’re still in our bodies, our potential is never fully exhausted. For this and the gift of life we must forever be in great gratitude!
The Two Landscapes of Man: Visible and Invisible The visible landscape of our life has its weft and warp in the components of our everyday physical being. Articles of interest such as art, books, cars, houses, music, pictures of family and friends, etc., lend a hand in creating value to the appreciation and felt gifts of our life. I love my children. I love my family and friends. This too is a gift of life. Remember… things are not just good or bad, right or wrong. Things are layers of variable vibrations ranging from thoughts to physical matter. Very often, many of the things perceived outside ourself and outside our physical bodies are really nothing more than mirrored images or representations as to what is inside the world of who we are. We all posses the the capacity for honing in on greater awareness. We just need to remind ourselves that from time to time,what it is that really matters in our life.
The invisible to the eye landscape is a little trickier. It has a greater potential to cause havoc or disorganization in our everyday life. It is important to understand that what is inside, yet out of mind, can bury itself much more deeply, and,when not properly attended to, has the capacity to create disease from within. For example, when we eat food, is there not an outlet for its waste? Yes, there is. When we get physically sick, does our our body not restrict and limit our dietary intake? It does! Really, this is no different than an ngineered computer virus: when it hits our hard drive, we’re out of commission! The solution? We purchase and install an antivirus software program. And, so now we must ask ourselves: What tools do we have to help minimize or eliminate subtle or invisible negative energetic patterns or entities? Actually there are many! Yoga and meditation are just two practices of many that help to keep us strong and more positively aware— all of which, incidentally, help to minimize and deflect disease. It is, in part, the principles of yoga that help mitigate the ill effects of negativity and other strong emotions and neurosis. Yoga helps us to bounce right back to vibrant health. It helps to renew our spiritually rich life. Yoga grounds and keep us close to ourselves and the people with whom we belong in community. We must never forget this! It is with the help of our family, friends and community that we best learn how to responsibly self-heal.
So, when it comes to yoga and self-healing, I wonder, have we relied too much on science and not put enough emphasis on our own personal responsibility to do what we know is right in our hearts and minds? It is through the process of this book that we utilize the tools of yoga, journaling, workbook questions and other exercises to bring us closer to a better understanding as to how to create a new possibility that allows for simple living through full awareness.
We are all a great lotus, ready to blossom yet another gift of life. But please remember: both the observer and observed must unite to do the miracles of one only thing. No single entity is a universe unto itself unless, of course we are speaking of God.
Perhaps it is both chance and God that implied universal love and unity. And, so here we are, able to acknowledge each, the other as a gift, onto the other. Together, you and me, we hold the recipe for change and reciprocation. We can waste our precious time folding into the echoes of a fictitious self, or we can allow ourselves to become a little more humble, more intimate and awakened to the beauty of each other in this present moment. Therefore, I declare: I would like to share my findings of the world with you! For us to share of ourselves (and bread each other is indeed a gift of pure divinity. Oh, and, one last thing: Each day, we must commit to our memory, to engrave into each 206 bones of our body, one of the oldest proverbs known to mankind. It is from the Delphi Temple and it reads: Man, Know Thyself”
a non abhaya freedom from fear abhinivesa possessiveness abhyasa steady effort acharya a religious teacher adhah down adhara a support adharma breach of duty adhibhuta the principle of objective existence adhidaiva the principle of subjective existence adhikari competent candidate adhimatra superior adhimatratama the highest, the supreme one adhisthana seat, abode adhiyajna the principle of sacrifice,incarnation adho-mukha face downwards
adho mukha svanasana the dog stretch posture adhyasa a case of mistaken identity adhyatma the principle of self adrishta the unseen (e.g. actions ofinvisible entities) adisvara the primeval lord, a name of Shiva bhu land bhudana the donation of land bhuja arm or shoulder bhujanga snake bhujangasana the cobra posture bhujasana the arm posture bhumi the object of meditation bhumikatva firm ground bhuta a ghost, an element bija seed bindu drop or point bodhi supreme knowledge Brahma the creator Brahmins the highest, priestly caste brahmacharya control of sexual impulses brahmacharyasana the posterior stretch posture brahmadvara the door where kundalini enters the spine brahmanda-prana cosmic breath Buddha Buddha buddhi wisdom, reason
chakra a wheel or vortex chakra-bandha the binding which seals all of the chakras gomukhasana the cow-faced posture gorakshasana the cowherd posture gotra family, race granthi a knot, obstruction in the chitrini gu darkness gulma the spleen guna a quality of nature gup guard, hide guptasana the hidden posture guru a spiritual teacher, heavy,important
ha the sun Hakini the goddess in ajna hala a plough halasana the plough posture hamasana the altered peacock posture hamsa a swan Hanuman a monkey chief, son of Anjana and Vayu hanumanasana the splits hasta the hand hasta padangusthasana the hand-to-big-toe posture hatha force, against one’s will hatha-yoga union with the supreme via discipline khechari mudra where the tongue is inserted in the upper cavity khyati an outlook of knowledge kleshas the five sources of trouble and suffering kona an angle koshas bodies or sheaths krauncha a heron krikara one of the vital airs, causes coughing and sneezing Krishna the eighth incarnation of vishnu krishnasana the Krishna posture kriya cleaning krounchasana the heron posture Krttikas the Pleiades kshatriyas the caste of princes and warriors kshipta neglected or distracted kukutasana the cockerel posture kumbha a pot kumbhaka holding the breath kunda starting place of kundalini kundala coil of rope kundalini a coiled female snake, the latent energy at the base of the spine kurma a tortoise, one of the vital airs-controls blinking kurmasana the tortoise (leg-lock) posture kutichaka the hut-builder
nabhipedasana the upward ankle-twist posture nada an internal sound nadi a channel within the subtle body nadi-shodhana the purification of the nadis naga the vital air that causes burping naishkaramya karma actionless action nakra a crocodile namah a salute nara a man Narasimha the man-lion, fourth incarnation of Vishnu Narayana the supporter of life – Vishnu Nataraja Lord of the dancers, a name of Shiva natarajasana the Lord of the Dance posture nauli an abdominal exercise (lauliki) nava a boat navasana the boat posture neti not so neti-yoga cleansing of the nostrils niddhyasana meditation and contemplation
ojas concentrated psychic power
raga anger, passion raja a ruler, king raja-yoga the yoga of mastery over the mind rajas mobility Rakini the goddess in svadhishthana Rama the seventh incarnation of Vishnu rambha plantain Ravana a demon king from Lanka who abducted the wife of Rama rechaka outbreathing retus semen ru light Rudra a form of Shiva rupa a form or body
Sadashiva a form of Shiva sadhaka an aspirant, seeker sadhana practice, a quest sah he, that sahaja the karma to which one is born sahasrara the thousand-petalled lotus within the cerebral cavity shrivatsa the curl on Vishnu’s breast shuddha clean, pure shvana a dog shvasa inspiration svasa-prashvasa heaving and sighing siddha a prophet or adept siddhasana the adept’s posture siddhi a psychic (or occult) power simha a lion simhasana the lion posture sirsangusthasana the deep lunge posture sirsasana the headstand posture Sita the wife of Rama Skanda a name of Kartikeya, god of war sodhana purification steya robbery sthirata steadiness sthiti stability sthula-sharira the dense body styana sloth sudras the caste of servants and labourers sukha happiness sukhasana the easy posture sukshma-sharira the astral body sumanasya benevolence utkatasana the the hunkering posture uttana an intense stretch utthita stretched utthita eka pada sirsasana the balancing leg-behind-head posture utthita kurmasana the balancing tortoise posture utthita lingamasana the balancing on the phallus posture utthita padangusthasana the balancing big toe posture utthita parsvakonasana the stretched lateral angle posture utthita paschimottanasana the balancing back-stretching
vacha speech vaikuntha Vishnu vairagya uncolouredness, not desiring physical objects vaisesika one of the schools of Indian philosophy vaisyas the caste of merchants and professionals vajra one of the channels in the spine,a thunderbolt, diamond vajrasana the thunderbolt posture vajroli the thunderbolt contraction vakra bent vakrasana the curved posture valakhilya a class of tiny entities, about the size of a thumb aditi the mother of the gods aditya son of aditi advaita non-duality of the universal spirit advasana the prone posture agama proof of the trustworthiness of a source of knowledge aham I ahamkara tendency to identify oneself with external phenomena, ‘the I-maker’ ahimsa non-violence aishvarya desire for power ajapa involuntary repetition (as with a mantra) ajna command akarna towards the ear akarna dhanurasana the shooting bow posture akasha ether akrodha freedom from anger alabhdha-bhumikatva the feeling that it is impossible to see reality alamba support alasya idleness amanaska the mind free from desire amrita the elixir of immortality anahata unbeaten ananda bliss chakrasana the wheel posture chandra the moon chatur four chela a pupil chit pure consciousness chitrini a fine cord within the spine chitta mind-stuff, the lower parts of mind – such as memory chitta-vikshepa confusion, distraction chitta-vritti a mode of behaviour crore ten million
Dadhicha a sage who gave his bones to the gods, from which was fashioned the thunderbolt which slew Vrita Daitya a demon son of Diti dakini the goddess in muladhara Daksa a lord of created beings daksina the right sidev dama control of the body and senses damaniv a layer within a nadi allowing for the passage of energy dana giving Danava a demon danda a staff dandasana the staff posture darbha a sweet-smelling dried grass himsa violence Hiranya-kashipu a demon king, killed by Vishnu
ichchha the will ida the channel on the left of the spine indriya organ of sense or action indriya-jaya mastery of the senses by controlling the desires Isha a form of Shiva ishvara a supreme being, god ishvara-pranidhana attentiveness to god
jagrata-avastha complete awareness of the state of the mind jalandhara bandha where the chin rests in the notch between the collar bones janma birth, incarnation janu the knee janu sirsasana the head-knee posture japa repetition of a mantra
lac 100,000 laghava lightness laghu handsome, small Lakini the goddess in manipuraka Lakshmi goddess of beauty and luck lalata the forehead Lanka the kingdon of Ravana, Ceylon lauliki a movement of the abdominal muscles and organs laya absorption of the mind laya-yoga yoga using the latent power of kundalini lingam the phallus lobha greed loka a habitat lola swinging lolasana the swing posture loma hair
madhyama average maha mighty
pada part of a book, the foot padahastasana the balancing forward bend padangushtha the big toe padasana the foot above posture padma a lotus Padmanabha a name of Vishnu padmasana the lotus posture palmyrasana the palm tree posture para beyond, higher paramatma the supreme spirit parangmukhi facing inwards Parashurama sixth incarnation of Vishnu parigha a bolt for shutting a gate parighasana the locked gate posture parigraha hoarding paripurna complete, whole parivartana revolving parivrajaka wanderer parivritta parshvakonasana the revolved lateral angle posture parivritta paschimottanasana the twisting back-stretching posture parivritta sirsasana the twisting head-knee posture parivritta trikonasana the revolved triangle posture sakshatkara the spirit sakthi chalini the nerve-power posture salabhasana the locust posture salamba supported salamba sarvangasana the supported shoulderstand posture sama equal, upright samakonasana the sideways leg-splits posture sama-sthiti standing still sama-vritti pranayama where inhalation,exhalation and suspension of breath are of same length samadhi where the aspirant is one with the object of his meditation samana one of the vital airs, which aids digestion samasthiti the upright-sitting posture sambhava birth samkatasana the dangerous posture samkhya one of the schools of Indian philosophy samkhya yoga the yoga of science samshaya doubt samskaras memories samyama dharana, dhyana and samadhi taken together sannyasi one who has renounced the world sanjivani a life-restoring elixir or herb supta sleeping supta baddha padmasana the supine bound lotus posture supta janu sirsasana the supine head-knee posture supta padangusthasana the supine big toe posture supta paschimottanasana the supine back-stretching posture supta vajrasana the supine thunderbolt posture surya the sun surya namaskar the homage to the sun posture sushumna the spinal cord sushupti-avastha the state of the mind in dreamless sleep sutra a thread sva vital force, soul svadhyaya education through the study of the divine texts svapnavastha the state of the mind in a dream svarga heaven svarupa one’s true nature svasamvedana the understanding of oneself svastikasana the prosperous posture
tada a mountain tamas darkness, inertia, ignorance vama the left side vamadevasana Vamadeva’s posture Vamana Vishnu’s fifth incarnation vamaprakasha lovely shiningness vasana longing Vasnata the deity of Spring vasti internal cleansing Vasuki a name of Shesha vatayana a horse vatayanasana the horseface posture vayus the vital airs veda the sacred scriptures of the Hindus vedana feelings vedanta one of the schools of Indian philosophy vedas the sacred scriptures of the Hindus vibhuti divine power vichara continued thought vidya knowledge, science vijnana comprehension vikalpa imagination, fancy vikshepa confusion vikshipta mental aggitationAnanta infinite, a name of Vishnu anantasana Ananta’s posture anga a limb, or body part angamejayatva unsteadiness of the body angula a finger angushtha the big toe Anjana the name of the mother of Hanuman anjaneyasana the splits antahkarana the mind antara within antaranga the practices of pranayama and pratyahara antaratma the inner self, residing in the heart anuloma with the grain, naturally anumana an inference apana one of the vital airs, controls the elimination of bodily wastes apara lower aparigraha abstention from greed, nonpossessiveness
Bbaddha caught baddhahasta sirsasana the bound hands headstand posture bandha binding, a muscular lock darshama a visit to a great person,viewpoint or vision daurmanasya despair dehi the self deva a divine being devadatta one of the vital airs, which causes yawning devata a divine being similar to an angel deva-dasi a temple prostitute devi a goddess dhanu a bow dhanurasana the bow posture dharana concentration dharma the law, duty, way of life dhasanjaya a vital air that stays in the body after death, sometimes bloating the corpse dhenu a cow dhirata strength dhwani a resonant sound dhyana contemplation dirgha long Diti mother of the daityas demons dradhasana the side relaxation posture drashta consciousness, the ‘witness’ dridhata strength duhkha pain, grief dvesha hatred jathara the stomach jathara parivartanasana the bellyturning posture jati circumstances of life to which one is born jaya victory jiva a creature jivana life jivatma the individual soul jnana knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge jnanendriya an organ of knowledge, i.e. the five senses jyotir dhyana luminous contemplation jyotis inner light
kailasa a Himalayan mountain, home of Shiva kaivalya spiritual independence and freedom kakasana the crow posture Kakini the goddess in anahata kalabhairavasana Lord Kalabhairava’s posture kali-yuga the current, pleasure-loving age Kama desire for material pleasures, the god of passion mahabandha/mahamudra types of mudra Mahadeva the great god – Shiva mahat cosmic consciousness maitri friendliness maithuna sacramental intercourse makara a crocodile makarasana the crocodile posture mala a wreath malasana the garland posture man to think manana pondering manas the reasoning ability of the mind manasika of the mind mandala circle Mandara mountain used by the gods to stir the cosmic ocean manduka a frog mandukasana the frog posture mani a jewel manipura navel manomani samadhi mantra a prayer or sacred thought Manu father of the human race marga a path matsya a fish matsyasana the fish posture parshva the side parshva dhanurasana the sideways bow posture parshva halasana the lateral plough posture parshva sarvangasana the sideways shoulderstand posture parshva sirsasana the headstand posture parshvakakasana the sideways crow posture parvatasana the mountain posture paryanka a bed pasasana the noose posture pasha a trap, noose pashchima west, the back of the body pashchimottoanasana the back-stretching posture Patanjali author of the Yoga Sutras pavanmuktasana the knee squeeze posture pida pain pincha the chin, feather pinda an embryo pingala the channel on the right of the spine pliha the spleen Prahlada a devotee of Vishnu sansara the wheel of reincarnation santosha contentment sara essence Sarasvati goddess of speech and learning sarva whole sarvanga the whole body sarvangasana the shoulderstand posture sat reality sat chit ananda bliss consciousness Sati mother of Kartikeya and Ganapati sattva orderliness, the quality of goodness in everything natural satya honesty savasana the corpse posture savichara investigational meditation savitarka inspectional meditation sayanasana the repose posture setu a bridge setu bandhasana the bridge posture shabda sound, the creative principle Shakini the goddess in vishuddha shakti female creative power, goddess shaktichalani one of the mudras, involves contracting the rectum shalabha a locust shalabhasana the locust posture shama calming the mind tan to stretch tandava violent dance of Shiva tanmatras the five potentials or senses tantras treatises on ritual, meditation,discipline, etc. tap to burn, shine, suffer tapas austerity, purification tara crossing over Taraka a demon slain by Kartikeya tat that tattva an element, the twenty-four categories of thatness tejas radiant energy, majesty tirieng horizontal tittibha a firefly tittibhasana the firefly posture tola a balance tolangulasana the balance posture tolasana the scales posture trataka an exercise to clear the vision tri three trikona a triangle trikonasana the triangle posture trishna thirst, desire Trivikrama fifth incarnation of Vishnu, who filled the earth, heaven and hell with his three steps (krama) viloma against the natural order of things vipakas the distressing results of karmas viparita reversed, inverted viparitakarani the upside-down posture viparyaya a mistaken view vira brave, a hero virabhadrasana the arrow posture Virancha name of Brahma virasana the hero posture Virochana a demon prince virya vitality, enthusiasm vishama-vritti uneven or strained movement whilst breathing vishesha particular Vishnu the preserver of life vishudda pure vitarka discernment viveka discrimination vriksha a tree vrikshasana the tree posture vrishchika a scorpion vrishchikasana the scorpion posture vrit to turn vritti a vortex, an idea, behaviour vyadhi illnessbandha padmasana the bound lotus posture baka a wading bird, the crane Bali a demon king basti method for cleaning the intestines bhadrasana the auspicious posture bhagavad gita the dialogues between Krishna and Arjuna bhagavan holy Bhairava terrible, one of the forms of Shiva bhajana a hymn bhakti devotion, worship bhastrika the bellows breath bhati light bhavana concentration bhaya fear bheda a division bhedana breaking through, piercing bheka a frog bherunda terrible bherundasana the formidable posture bhoga enjoyment bhoktir one who enjoys bhramara a large bee bhramari the bee breath bhranti-darshana a delusion dvi two, both dvi-pada two feet
eka one, single eka pada hastasana the one leg posture eka pada kakasana the one leg crow posture eka pada sirsasana the leg-behind-head posture ekgara one-pointed ekamevadvitiyam one without a second
gana Shiva’s attendants Ganapati god of luck and wisdom ganda the cheek garbha-pinda an embryo garbhasana the foetus posture garuda an eagle garudasana the eagle posture ghata a pot, the body ghi clarified butter go a cow gomukha musical instrument resembling a cow’s face kama-dhenu the heavenly cow kanda a knot, the place where the three main nadis join kandasana the upward ankle-twist posture kapala the skull kapalabhati a process to clear the sinuses kapota a dove kapotasana the dove posture karma work, action, the law of cause and effect karmaphala the result of an action karma-yoga unselfish actions karmendriya an action organ, e.g. the hands or feet karnapidasana the ear-press posture Kartikeya the god of war, was reared by the Pleiades karuna pity, tenderness kathanta howness katikasana the front-stretching posture kaustubha one of Vishnu’s jewels kaya the body kayika pertaining to the body kevala whole, pure khandapitasana the ankle-twist posture matsyendrasana the posture of Matsyendra maya illusion mayura a peacock mayurasana the peacock posture meru-danda the spinal column mimansa one of the schools of Indian philosophy mirdu soft, gentle mirta a corpse mirtasana the corpse posture moha infatuation or delusion moksha emancipation of the soul from rebirth mudha foolish, stupid mudra a seal mudita delight mudras muscular contractions that include the bandhas mukha the mouth mukta liberated muktasana the liberated posture mukta hasta sirsasana the freehand headstand posture mula root mulabandhasana the ankle-twist posture mulashodhana cleansing the rectum murcha mind-fainting Prajapati Lord of created beings prajna wisdom prakasha shining, clear prakriti eternal nature pramada indifference pramana authority, an ideal prana breath, energy, life pranava another name for aum prana-vayu a vital air that moves in the chest pranayama control of the breath pranidhana dedication prasarita stretched out prasarita padottanasana the spread legs posture prashvasa expiration pratiloma going against the grain pratyahara control of the senses pratyaksha direct evidence punarjanman rebirth punya virtue, merit, good purakha inhalation purnata perfection purusha the spirit or soul purvottana the front of the body purvottanasana the front-stretching posture shambhavi related to Shiva shambhavi mudra gazing between ones eyes Shambhu a name of Shiva shan six Shanmukha with six mouths, a name of Kartikeya shantih peace sharira a body shaucha mental and bodily cleanliness shava a corpse shavasana the corpse posture shayana a bed shesha the serpent of eternity, having one thousand heads shirsha the head shirshasana the head-stand posture shishya the pupil of a guru Shita cold Shiva the destroyer shmrti memory shodana purification shoka anguish shraddha faith and trust shravana the act of listening to the doctrines
ubhaya both ubhaya padangusthasana the buttocks balance posture udana the vital air controlling the intake of food and air uddiyana a fetter or binding involving the raising of the diaphragm ugra powerful, noble ugrasana the posterior stretch posture ullola a large wave Uma Shiva’s wife, Parvati unmani samadhi Upanishads the philosophical parts of the Vedas. ‘upa’ (near) ‘ni’ (down) sad (to sit) – the act of sitting down by one’s Guru to receive instruction. upavishtha seated upeksha disregard urdhra prasarita ekapadasana balancing forward posture urdhva raised urdhva hastattanasana the up-stretched arms posture urdhva-mukha face upwards urdhva-retus a celibate ushtra a camel ushtrasana the camel posture utkata fierce vyana one of the vital airs, circulates energy all over the body vajna a sacrifice
Yama the god of death yamas the five moral commandments yantra a design used in meditation yastikasana the stick posture yoga union, from ‘yuj’ – to join yogadandasana the yogin’s staff posture yogasana the anchor posture yoga-nidra the sleep of yoga, where the body is resting but the mind is awake yogi/yogin one who practices yoga yoni vagina, womb, or source yuga an age yuj to yoke, join, concentrate on yukta joined with, one who has attained the communion with the supreme spirit
FOR THIS INSPIRING EXERCISE, it is important that you hone in on your heart center or heart chakra. When you hear the words heart chakra or heart center what is its meaning to you? What experience comes to mind?
Draw a picture or representation of it by using crayons, pencils, scissors, glue and glitter (or whatever else you may need or want to create and render your symbol. There will be a list of questions for you to answer upon the completion of your final soul symbol. Creating the stage: Lie down or sit comfortably in sukhasana, half lotus or any other comfortable position that suits you well. Focus on your breath to calm your mind and body.
Now begin to imagine that your heart center is so much more than just a place for the physical muscle of the heart. Maybe refer back to the heart chakra section of this course. Your soul symbol should be drawn on blank piece of paper, and then uploaded to this exercise (see upload button on top of this page). Please do your work in a quiet, soft neutral setting. Please use no words in your drawing as it tends to bring one into a more logical mindset, thereby restricting the creative process. Feel free to practice on as many blank sheets of paper as you’k like.
Explore the possibility that your heart center is an energetic entity that resembles a luminous nebulous cloud. One that extends throughout your entire body. It is an expression that by the process of awareness, one can tune into the source related to their soul purpose. Before you begin your soul exercise, here are a few items that we think you should have available:
•Crayons •Pencils/Pens •Paint/Glitter •Scissors •Any other supplies you see fit to use
When ready, ask yourself “are you grounded fully relaxed? Then begfin by opening the communication channels… and ask your heart center to search deep within to present you with a symbol that represents your soul’s purpose. Once this symbol surfaces, explore its characteristics; i.e., what colors are there? What is the surface or appearance of your symbol? Are there lines, curves, open or closed loops? Are there triangles, squares or other geometrical forms? Are there any layers? Is there an imagined odor? How can its texture best be described and incorporated? Once you are comfortable and have a good mental representation of your soul symbol, begin to draw
Note: Remember to have fun with this creative exercise. It is critically important to keep your feeling heart open. My recommendation would be to read these instructions over and over again, so that on any given day, when the time is right, you may begin the process of creating your soul symbol.
Symbol of Your Soul Exercise
What do you feel and think this symbol means to you?Does your symbol relate to harmony and/or conflict?Do you think that your soul symbol is trying to tell you something?What do you think the colors mean? Can they be explained by some of the threads in your life?If your symbol could speak to you with words, what do you think it might be trying to tell you?Is your soul symbol something that represents your past, present or future, or perhaps all three? Explain
What unsaid things linger in the landscape of your heart? In this exercise, please call, write or contact someone you know and have not talked to in some years, tell them whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to express to them (but for some reason did not). Regardless of the circumstances, this exercise is designed to free you up on an energetic level. Sometimes, we create scenarios (in our heads), and that, more often than not, there is no real basis for them. Is there a living relative, adversary or long-lost friend you’ve always wanted to tell something to but didn’t? Call them and do so. If it is a person who is deceased, imagine contacting them and visualize that imaginary conversation. Communicate the things you’ve always wanted to say to them. Please journal your experience just below:
Prana = the fundamental life force/energy Ayama = to stretch, extension, prolongation. To channel and control pranayama is the conscious use of breathing as a tool to cultivate pranic energy inside the body. Breathing techniques have always been an integral part of yoga and mindfulness meditation. Therefore, when we first learn and hear about “pranayama,” we must realize that it is a subcomponent of the larger system of the eight limbs of yoga more properly called Ashtanga, which in English translates to “Eight Limbs.” Pranayama is the fourth of eight limbs of the science of yoga.
Regardless of which door one enters into the discipline of yoga, it is imperative to know that all eight branches are intimately connected and therefore work in tandem. That is to say, the body and mind are bridged and strengthened with greater control when incorporating more than one of the eight limbs of yoga into their daily life. The focus and end goal of pranayama is to learn how to channel and transport very subtle forms of pranic energy. There are purported to be well over 72,000 nadis (acupuncture junctions) in the body. All these nadis revolve around the three different parts of breathing as outlined below:
• Purak: Inhalation of breath • Rechaka: Exhalation of breath • Kumbhaka: Retention of breath
Pranayama is described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It is much more than just a mechanical respiratory exercise: It helps to obliterate and/or minimize daily stress and other psychological and neurotic conditions. When properly learning how to incorporate the many different pranayama techniques into ones daily life, it is only then that we come to learn how to master the mechanics and underpinnings of the mind or what is more commonly called chitta. Learning how to consciously change the biorhythms of the body and mind is unlike anything else. More often than not, we are learning how to rewire the circuitry and biochemistry of the brain. Pranayama helps us to change the alpha, beta, theta and delta wave lengths of the brain. It allows us to masterfully channel the subtle energy waves from one power substation to another. In many ways, the science of prana works hand in hand with what Rosicrucian philosophy calls the “Etheric Envelope.” Basically, the Etheric Envelope consists of four different grades or parts. Simplistically speaking, it is the notion of what we commonly call the invisible force ether. Its four parts consist of the first being “Chemical” ether, the second is “Life” ether, the third is “Light” ether and the fourth “Reflecting” ether. As you may have guessed, ether is not what is physical to the eye; however, neither are feelings. I think the important thing to understand is that everything in the universe has its opposite polarity, or set of complementary charges such as the charges of positive and negative poles in electricity.
So with these principles in mind, pranayama leads us into the second half of the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi). It helps escalate our experience by inducing the body and mind to higher states of subtle consciousness. Of the already mentioned 72,000 nadis, 40 are considered to be secondary and 7 are the major chakras of the body. It is through the gate of pranayama that we learn to experience the sublime effects of the healing chakras.
It is pranayama itself that helps to move and transport the very subtle forms of energy from within and around the body. You see, once we learn to introduce and redefine the patterns and ratios of the breath, it is unlike anything you may have ever experienced. Pranayama helps to build and maintain the bodys nervous system. Its uncanny powers allow for multiple immediate feedback loops, which ultimately help to bridge and strengthen the neurological components of the mind, body and spirit.
As Swami Rama once pointed out, there was once a Sufi scholar quoted to say “the subject of breath is the deepest of all the subjects with which mysticism or philosophy is concerned, because breath is the most important thing in life.” The first breath begins at life once outside the womb. The beginning of respiration transforms the dynamics of the circulatory and neurological systems.
Introduction and Notes on Pranayama
Here are some general guidelines to consider in the practice and instruction of pranayama:
1. Begin by clearing the nasal passages of any blockage by blowing the nose or using the neti pot (kriya technique).
2. As in asana practice, pranayama is best performed on an empty stomach.
3. Pranayamas such as Dirgha or Ujjai are most easily introduced to beginners in a reclining or supported reclining position. Bhramari should not be taught in a reclining position.
4. Initially, simply observe the dynamics of the breath without attempting to control it. Then begin to regulate gradually, leading over time into full pranayamas.
5. In seated pranayamas, it is essential that the practitioner is supported by bolsters, blankets, and any other props as necessary to achieve a straight, extended spine, so that the spinal nerves can draw prana, or energy, from the breath, rather than causing strain to the nervous system.
6. Be sure that the exhalation is smooth and even; if there is any choppiness or strain, stop the practice and return to the natural rhythm of breath.
Pranayama is the conscious use of breathing as a tool to cultivate and move pranic energy inside and around the body. Prana is the essence of life in its most subtle form. Prana is found in all things, but humankinds ability to control this flow provides an immeasurable tool for transcendence. “Prana” means the fundamental life force and “yama,” means to channel or control. The various pranayama echniques are used to channel subtle energy into the body or one might also say to bring energy into the subtle channels of the body. Yama in Vedic literature and iconography, is also the god of death, so if prana is the essence of life, the experience of breathing is the mid ground between life and death as we know it. Another explanation from the Sanskrit is that “ayama” (which means to expand) following “prana” suggests that the goal is to expand the body with vital force.
General Pranayama guidelines
1. As in asana practices, pranayama is best performed with little abdominal congestion due to meals or drinks.
2. Choose a reclining position initially for pranayama practice.
3. Do not force the breath to move or stop moving initially; simply watch what happens.
4. In seated pranayama practices, keep the spine extended.
The movement of the diaphragm places increased pressure on the internal organs. This has the following effects:
1. Acts to increase digestive homeostasis by facilitating peristalsis (normally incited by parasympathetic nervous system control), which is the wavelike movement of contractions of the intestines. Peristalsis works like a gentle pump for vascularizing the abdominal organs. It impacts the liver and helps with the removal of waste products. Also it acts on the kidneys by creating a massaging effect with the diaphragm. One role that the kidneys play is in controlling blood pressure.
2. The spleen, which is involved in the immune system function, is massaged and better able to perform its job of filtering blood, and storing lymphatic tissue and white blood cells.
3. The movement of the diaphragm supports the movement of lymphatic fluid from the lower body to the thorax where it is reabsorbed into the circulatory system. This aids in the production of immune system agents.
4. Pranayama regulates the flow of blood to the brain, which can stimulate both hemispheres of the brain creating balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Additionally, pranayama stimulates the olfactory bulb, which rests near the emotional center of the brain, and can have a quieting effect. Pranayama is effective for clearing the mind and concentrating attention mentally.
5. The full use of the lungs can prevent toxic buildup of waste materials in the bloodstream. Pranayama techniques affect the heart rate. Slow, even breathing can reduce the heart rate…. and in some cases canslow heart rate. This effect reduces the workload on the heart and makes its actions more efficient.
6. Many pranayama techniques can increase the flow of blood to the base of the lungs to remove fluids that build up there. The base of the lungs— where more alveoli are found due to gravity— do not naturally absorb as much oxygen because the gas more easily is drawn into the upper portion of the bronchial tract. Further, pranayama can increase the amount of oxygen transferred into the alveoli by extending the length of breath into the lower lobe of the lungs.
7. Pranayama affects the residual amount (functional residual capacity) of oxygen, which remains in the lungs more often than not making room for more air uptake by the alveoli.