By Shameem Akthar
How yoga helps you to heal and transcend the sexual impulse
In yoga, it is interesting to note that the same exercises or practices used to treat sexual problems are also used to encourage spiritual celibacy. The difference in results is achieved in proportion to the intensity as well as intention of the practice. This is amongst the reasons why these special practices must always be done under the guidance of a teacher, and in an ashram.
Intensive pranayama practices can also encourage a desireless, celibate mental state. It is wise to remember this when you are a householder. Moolabandha (root lock or the master key) is another such practice.
How intriguing that our ancient seers realised that the uro-genital system must first be got into order before we think of other impulses, including the highest spiritual union with the divine. In fact, what is experienced as an explosive encounter between two individuals has for its basis several other impulses – the need to reproduce, the need for a genetic survival, the need to protect the progeny, and therefore the need to accumulate (property, homes) for furthering the survival of the offspring. All these are just bio-chemical impulses subtly manipulated by our bodily secretions from the uro–genital system.
We get side-tracked by the sexual tag attached to these hormones, but the fact is that these bio-chemical secretions are related to these instincts as much as they are to the physical act of intimacy itself. For instance, vasopressin is a neuro–chemical messenger that triggers the need for nesting in birds. We can safely assume that somewhere it is ticking that same need in us. Which may explain why a lot of unhappy or spiritually unfulfilled people find an outlet in accumulating homes, even though they may not have any offspring to fill up the houses they desperately buy! Oxytocin is another reward hormone (also released during an orgasm), released when we feel a surge of achievement. Perhaps where this is not free-flowing, people desperately have the need to push themselves so much so they can die discontent despite their overt and publicly acknowledged achievements. It is just now that the medical world is waking up to the emotional basis of these sexual secretions, appreciating that they are more than the sum of the act. But our sages had gauged this before, and created the yoga practices to get our base and lowermost chakra (mooladhara) in order before we started dreaming of spiritual goals. A regular yoga practice resets the imbalances in the mooladhara, whether it is blocked or overflowing. A blocked one causes extreme unhappiness, intense dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, while an overflowing one causes extreme greed, violence, and overweening egoism.
Moolabandha (root lock or master key):
This is also taught as part of the uro-genital toning Kegel floor exercises.
To do this, sit on the floor in any meditative pose. Inhale. Tighten the perineal muscle (to locate it, see instruction below), hold for a count of four. Relax with an exhalation. Do it five to ten times. With practice the number of times you do it may be increased. It may be done anytime also.
To locate the perineal muscle: For men, it is the spot under the scrotum. For women it is the inner vaginal region.
As you advance in practice you may increase the length you hold the contraction, with or without breath retention (breath retention is contraindicated for those with high blood pressure and heart problems). Also, it must be avoided when you are in an anxious, highly stimulated state such as anger, etc, since it is a powerfully stimulating practice. Avoid it also when having any urinary infection since it is likely to push the infection further up the tract.
Benefits: It is called the master key because it prevents the downward flow of prana (also called apana). It tones the pelvic floor, which as we saw earlier can become slack, and cause embarrassing problems like incontinence. It helps control or treat problems related to this system – such as premature ejaculation, impotency, prostatitis, infertility. It seems to have neurological impact, affecting our emotional and physical selves at once. This makes it a therapeutic tool in most disorders. Its main benefit, when used in a meditative temper, is to redirect our spiritual impulses to a higher plane within ourselves.
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