How can we meditate if our bodies are sick and diseased? Of if our minds are uncontrollably restless?
Yoga āsana has the power to heal the body, to cure disease, and to purify our nerves so that our concentration becomes one-pointed.
Yoga means "union" or "to yoke," which is the key to all healing -- reconnecting what's broken. Unity brings more purity because wherever there's union there's divinity. It is the Divine nature of our supreme Self which manifests through the practice of yoga. Our Union is connection, and our connection gives us safety.
Our own body understands this, connecting the muscles to the bones and hugging the organs close, because our bodies know that we want everything together. If even one part of our body comes into danger, the whole body pays a lot of attention because it knows that its existence is dependent on every part of itself.
Our bodies are teaching us to pay attention when we feel pain from part of it becoming hurt, and we do -- and we take care of our bodies as a result. But a yogi, a real student of union, sees the whole universe as his or her body. More than sees, actually feels the universe as their own.
Amma knows your pain is mine, actually, she feels our pain as her own. Amma recognizes the spirit of Union as being the real spirit of the yogi. A true yogi is only always trying to create union with the Divine, to unite with the healing force of Mother Nature and Her medicines, to unite the families into loving harmony, to unite the communities into peaceful relations, to unite the peoples of all lands and ways, to unite even the terrible and the horrifying with the chance for redemption into the Unity of love.
This past Wednesday I was blessed to be in the presence of Amma Sri Karunamayi, the Divine Mother of creation, the Supreme Goddess Mother Nature Herself. It's difficult for Westerners to grasp the concept of an avatar in our world home. Amma does not want us to recognize her or even show devotion towards her. All she asks for is that we remember to aspire to the highest goal of this human life, achieving enlightenment. Amma's light offers us, through her gifts of the techniques of spiritual knowledge, the rays of hope that the highest goal of knowing our True selves in this lifetime is a real possibility.
Amma sees the commotion going on in our world now. She is tirelessly listening to our problems and consoling our tears. She travels around the world every year to make her compassionate heart and spiritual practices easily and freely available so that we are empowered to heal ourselves.
Healing ourselves is just the first step, because we know that even our own planet-home is sick with the fruits of greed, pride, lust, anger, jealousy, and delusion, and these fruits are polluting our Mother Earth and making it ever more difficult for Her to provide for us, Her children.
The hope is, and scientific studies have proven, that violence is reduced in the area surrounding people practicing meditation. Amma is devoted to teaching about the power of meditation to nullify negativity in the environment and also how meditation can create world peace and provide the solutions to all of our individual problems and collective problems as well.
The best way to learn about movement is through stillness.
The truth about yoga is -- a little bit everyday is much more important than a lot once in a while. If you do a lot of yoga at once, you might make yourself sick by the sudden release of so many toxins. So practicing an hour of yoga once a week is not going to have nearly the same benefit as practicing for just ten minutes every day. And remarkable benefits and progress can be seen with just ten minutes of daily practice!
Yoga āsana targets and tones the organs and the endocrine system. Regular practitioners of yoga āsana become very aware of their inner organs. One can feel the liver happy, the colon at peace, and the stomach vibrant from the deep detoxification of the poses. We only experience this joy on a minor level in flow yoga without āsana.
The toning also applies to the glands of the body like the adrenals, testes/ovaries, thyroid, thymus, pancreas, even the pituitary and the pineal glands. Many health issues can be alleviated and even completely cured from the endocrine system coming into healthy balance. Imbalances in the endocrine system are the cause of mood swings, depression, irritability, and a host of other negative emotions. Yoga āsana brings all these hormones into balance so that the mind becomes very steady and very joyful.
1. Yoga starts with the cultivation of inner fire. In the body, the sacred fire is located at the solar plexus, where the sacred fire of our digestive juices process the food we feed it.
More important, however, is what comes out of our mouths than what goes in them, because our words are like ligaments that hold together the many pieces of the cosmic Self. We are all connected on the subtle level through our words, and our shared words connect us on a mental and emotional level. So the quality of those words determines the quality of those subtle cosmic connections.
Since this universe is all mind, the level and the care and sweetness of our words affects the vibration of the entire universe. While our diet has the power to heal or harm our individual bodies, our words have the power to heal or harm our cosmic Self. The sweeter our words, the more we nourish the strength of our cosmic Self, and the stronger our society becomes.
2. Yoga is not exercise. Most Westerners learn in gym class the principle of exercise: exhaust your muscles with a heavy workout and then rest and they will build back stronger. This is an adaptive mechanism Mother Nature created in order to have your body prepared to deal with stresses that will be placed on it. If you never use your muscles, your body won't put energy into building what you haven't shown it needs. On the other hand, if your body experiences a great amount of stress, it will take the first opportunity it has to build itself up in order to be better prepared for the next time that stress comes. In effect, Western exercise physiology is based on the idea of scaring your body into being prepared, with routine stress being given to exhaust its present capacity for work, followed by rest, so that it can build up and prepare to do more work next time.
3. Yoga āsana's aim is to tone the nervous system, a very different approach from Western exercise physiology. Yoga āsana is not just targeting the muscles. Our nerves, unlike our muscles, do not respond well to sudden and high impact stress. Our nervous system requires steady and gentle toning, the exact opposite of high stress followed by rest. This is why Amma Sri Karunamayi has given us this simple way to tell the different between exercise and yoga, "In exercise there is movement, in Yoga there is no movement. In order to tone the nervous system, we need stillness and deep breathing.
4. Āsanas are meant to be held steadily without movement. If we use them for exercise, we are putting our bodies at risk for injury, and several studies have shown that yoga-related injuries have been steadily increasing with the rise of untraditional yoga. The way to purify the nerves is through steady energization, which is why we hold the poses without movement so that nerves can experience a steady stream of energy flowing through them from the mind to the body. The toxins in the nervous system get flushed out through this energization, allowing the nerves to be more awake and active for the rest of the day. This is an amazing experience to have these nerve channels cleansed, and you discover how to move your body in more naturally powerful and efficient ways when these channels are awakened like this.
5. Yoga strengthens the connection between our minds and our bodies. We underestimate the strength of our muscles. Have you ever heard stories of women being able to life cars when their children's lives were at stake? This super-human strength in times of crises can't be explained just by adrenaline. The strength lies dormant in the muscles. The reason we can't ordinarily lift cars is because the connection between our minds and our bodies, through the nerves is not clear.
6. Yoga purifies the nerves. Our bodies already have all the muscle mass we need. If we want more strength and our nerves are weak, it won't matter how much mass we put on. On the other hand, if we purify the nerves, we can discover just how much strength our little muscles actually already have.
7. Yoga gives a natural high that lasts as long as your body maintains balance. One can get a natural high from exercise when the body releases endorphins to numb the body's reaction to increasing toxicity so that it can keep working, but this high is not a sustainable one and the high leaves when the endorphins wear off. But the natural high one gets from yoga is truly natural, it comes from all the parts of your body being in healthy harmony with each other, and the bliss that results lasts as long as your body maintains balance. While exercise gives you a temporary joy by way of a chemical designed to numb your body to pain, yoga asana reveals the natural joy inherent in a healthy body.
8. The nerves are the bridge between mind and body. All of the benefits and joy Yoga gives us comes from the special toning of the bridge between the mind and body, the nerves. This is why we want our practice to be quiet since any sounds or music will be a distraction to settling our nerves. We want to avoid all external distractions, controlling the senses to go inward. As we settle deeper into the āsana, so long as we maintain our concentration on flooding the nerves with steady energy, our nervous systems will be able to hold more and more energy in the pose. As the nerves hold more and more energy, the concentration will likewise become greater, until all 72,000 nerve channels become flooded with life force. When this happens, time drops away, and mind and body become merged into one being.
Yoga Is Union, The Yoga of Amma Sri Karunamayi, Darin Somma
Passionate about self-healing and empowering others to take healing into their own hands.