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Yoga and Nerves

The greatest Yoga teachings are spoken by those individuals who have realised the unconditional state. Because their ego is largely merged into That which forms the basis of their being, their words are to some extent, spoken by Life itself. This is possibly where the idea of Jesus and God being one arose, or why Jesus is reported as having said, “The Father and I are one.” What I wish to stress however, is that to some extent, such people are speaking things that arise beyond their own conscious personality. The biographies at the end of this book will tend to explain the feasibility of this a little further.

According to such teachings, the whole universe consists of two basic things, Prana and Akasha. These in turn arise from what remains, ever causeless, unknown, unconditional, formless and invisible.

The story is told of a student asking how he might obtain the knowledge and power of all things. The reply was that all things can be traced back to common sources. Understand the sources, and one can control the general. Reverting to the analogy of electricity again, through understanding the basic laws pertaining to electricity, we can produce light, heat, power, sound, vision etc. Such knowledge of the general allows us to produce many particular results. But the Yoga teachings state that there are general principles underlying all creation. To some extent we can see this with very little effort in the laws of polarity. That is, negative and positive. We see it in the working of magnets, electricity, the opposite sexes, cell structure, energy and inertia, light and darkness, atomic structure, cosmic bodies such as sun and earth, and so on. Here is a general principle that underlies all creation. If we really mastered the laws of polarity, we would have mastery over all the particulars or results of creation.

Prana and Akasha are, in fact, the basic polarities underlying all others. Akasha is the primal matter, or material of the universe, and Prana is the primal energy. When this primal energy, or Prana, acts upon the basic material, all known forms arise. A human being is an excellent example of the interplay of Prana and Akasha.

In some pictorial or symbolic philosophies or religions, these opposites are often expressed as the Divine Father and the Divine Mother. H. Spencer Lewis, in writing about these prime forces of the universe, said, “The negative is passive, static, receptive, and nurturing in contra-distinction to the positive, which is active, creative and dynamic. The negative registers a hunger for the positive, while the positive registers an urge, an impulse toward union with the negative, in order that it may, with the cooperation of the negative, cause a manifestation or creation. Neither can, of itself, produce any result, for one compliments the other, supplies what the other lacks.” (From “Rosicrucian Manual” AMORC.)

Looking around, we can see the truth of this in a thousand ways. Earth or matter is negative or receptive to light. Together they manifest colour. Electricity has a negative and positive polarity which only in unity produces a result. Movement, acting upon inert matter, also produces sound.

Taking light again into consideration we see that a luminous body projects light across the universe, as does the sun. While a receptive body such as earth receives it and manifests life thereby. Electricity, in its positive polarity, will leap across the sky as in lightning. While the negative conductor attracts and channels its expression. Even the shape of our sexual organs manifest perfectly the underlying law of polarity. The male organs project and give of themselves, while the female is negative, receptive, offering a fertile nurturing state which directs the expression of the positive.

The Yoga philosophy points out that this cannot help but be as it is, because all things arise from Prana and Akasha. All things are built in “their image.” For Prana and Akasha, intermingling and acting upon each other at a multitude of levels and variances, bring forth all form and experience.

We must also realise that latent in Prana is the ability to build form out of matter; to manifest sensation, feelings, emotion, intelligence and mind (in other words, Satchitananda). But just as light, heat and power cannot be realised while the two polarities of electricity are separate— so none of these can be manifest while Prana and Akasha are not married. This is why Yoga sometimes calls creation the “play of Brahm,” for life realises itself in its multifarious creatures.

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Meditation | Leave a comment

Breath Control In Yoga

Many writers on the subject of breath control start off by showing how breathing is linked with emotions, thought activity, heartbeat, even digestion. For instance, it is said that in states of high emotion one can easily notice that the breathing directly reflects the mood. Anger, passion, fear, affection, deep thought, even imagined situations, will each produce a particular type of breathing. This it all mentioned to try to impress upon the reader that there is something magical or particularly special between breathing and the rest of our being. Certainly there is such a special link, but there arc also just as wonderful connections between the heart, digestion, circulation, brain and nervous systems, and even the tiny hairs and the rest of the body. Each cell, in fact, has a special relationship with the whole.

The relationship between body and psyche (i.e. mind, emotions, feeling) faculties, between the psyche and any organ, cell, or function, is nothing short of a revelation. So much is this so that an expert on any particular aspect of us, such as the way you walk, sexual activity, writing, breathing, stance, or features such as your skin, urine, hair, eyes, speech, liver, your shape, etc., can tell an enormous amount about you, even to the point, in some cases, of a minute description of personality. It is because this special relationship exists, that Yoga can take any of the aspects of your being, and through training, influence the whole self. Yoga also says that a similar relationship exists between an individual and life in general.

The Cleansing Breath

In using breathing techniques as a method to find liberation from ill health, nervous tension, unhappiness and futility, one has first to learn a natural breath rhythm. In doing this it must be remembered constantly that our sickness, our lack of harmony with ourselves, our fear and tension, is interwoven with the way we breath (and all our functions). When working with our breathing, or mind, etc., we are directly confronting our problem.

Wilhelm Reich, in his monumental work “The Function of the Orgasm,” says that “There is no neurotic individual who is capable of exhaling in one breath, deeply and evenly. The patients have developed all conceivable practices which prevent deep expiration. They exhale ‘jerkily’ or, as soon as the air is let out, they quickly bring their chest back into the inspiratory position.”

We must, therefore, approach any breathing exercises with the realisation that any difficulty we have in breathing easily and smoothly it a reflection of our inharmonious condition. In disciplining our breathing to right this, we are reaching deep into ourselves to the basic causes of our personality dis-ease. All sorts of excuses and fears will rise to the surface trying to dissuade us from continuing. It is only by gently but firmly persevering that we move through and beyond such problems.

Yoga also maintains that the breathing methods have a cleansing effect upon the system. It maintains that throughout our body are a series of non-physical pathways of energy which it calls “nadis.” These are not the nerves, although at certain key points the nadis and the nervous system relate through resonance of cells and energy. These points are at the base of the spine, the plexus that controls the sexual organs and bowels, the solar plexus, cardiac area, base of throat, centre of forehead and fontanel or crown.

It may be difficult for some of us to visualise or believe, that energy can have no physical channels, but we can see such energy at work when a magnet creates patterns in iron filings through the lines of its invisible force field. Crystals also “grow” in the pattern of these invisible lines of energy, thus having regular and beautiful shapes.

The nadis are said to be clogged in the majority of people by very fine matter of an unclean nature in our system. This causes the body and mind to function far below its possible level. The breathing exercises, if done carefully and regularly, act upon the energy in the nadis in a stimulating manner, which circulates it and cleanses the dross. Phlegm, excess mucous, catarrh, clogged sinus, foul breath, odorous perspiration, constipation, are all signs that the body is badly clogged, and needs cleansing. Allied with a wholesome diet, the breathing methods will cleanse the whole system, and bring greater harmony.

Naturally, if you are going to practise Yoga seriously, it is best to choose one of the methods to use as one’s main practice, only using the others when necessary. If you are practising numerous postures, there will be little time left for breathing exercises of an extensive nature, or for meditation.

Each one of these if practised for results, needs a full hour each day. Trying to do too many methods will result in failure in all. Better to stick to one that suits you-all will work.

Of course, deep breathing also has repercussions upon all the tissues in the body, not only the nadis. Thorough oxygenation of the system supplies each cell with sufficient oxygen to enliven its functioning, and to burn up waste products. This enables the body to utilise food more thoroughly and to repair itself. But Yoga does not use breathing techniques so much for their physical exercise value, as their value psychologically. If we understand this a little more, it will be seen what is meant, and the greater knowledge will enhance one’s practice.

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Meditation | Leave a comment