Yoga - Blocks in the practice
by Shameem Akthar
Discipline is compulsory to enjoy the multidimensional benefits of yoga, says Shameen Akthar
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with
the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and
is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
Rishi Patanjali lists nine blocks in the progress of yoga. He names diseases, distracted mind, false perceptions, procrastination, indecision, failure to progress, lack of steadiness in practice, craving and stupor.
The sub-text of all these blocks ( apart from disease) seems to be a lack of discipline which many of us will admit to being guilty of. His strange inclusion in this list, then, is of diseases. The other blocks may be controlled by the mind, but why did he put disease amongst these?
For me, the most exciting aspect of that verse is that perhaps he means that we must use yoga to control and deal with disease. It is a fantastic healing science. When I trained with the Asana Andiappan Institute at Chennai, I would be awestruck at how the centre was treating an accident patient who had lost sensation in the legs. A pulley would be used to propel the patient into an inversion, to toggle the blood supply. It engaged the patient who wanted to deal with her problem. It is very exciting to watch just how miraculous an effect yoga has on chronic problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, hormonal problems, menstrual issues, migraine and many more. This explains why it is popular. So, when there is a problem and there is a tool (yoga practice) to address it, how unwise would it be to not use it? Why would somebody suffering from intense pain not use it then? Maybe, if they did not use it, it indicated a lack of involvement, a certain indiscipline. Maybe that is why the rishi placed it among other things that arise out of indiscipline. I believe he is telling us, that if we have a disease, we can strive towards healing, using the discipline of yoga.
The therapeutic aspect of yoga has been well-researched. The yogic poses and practices used in therapy are more gentle, individualised and done with awareness and meditative focus. Other aspects of yogic practice – kriyas like jal neti, pranayama, breath control, may need to be involved. Mudras are also very powerful aspects of healing. Definitely meditation should form the core of a healing practice. All these require discipline.
(Half camel pose):
Sit on your knees, as shown. Knees close, if possible, though may be difficult for rank beginners. Place hands behind, with fingers pointed towards hips. Pressing down into the palms, inhale to lift the hips high. Then exhale to drop the head behind. Continue normal breathing, and raising the hips high as much as is possible. Hold for ten seconds initially, increasing time to half a minute.
Inhale. exhaling, lower hips back, lifting head back to normal position, to end the pose.
If having knee or neck, wrist problems.
Tones the back. Prevent all back problems. Used to heal the lower back, if done in a phased manner. Aids weight loss due to pressure at the throat and thyroid. Boosts respiration and immunity.
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