The Power of Pranayama

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“Take five deep breaths through the nose before bed each night…”

As a child, I was diagnosed with chronic asthma (or assmar, as I lovingly referred to it as.)  I took up to three daily medications (Alubuterol, Combivent, Advair, Singulair, etc.) to control my breathing and prevent the dreaded “assmar attack.”  Even given this medication, I consistently found myself low on lung capacity and was subject to bouts of extreme respiratory strain; sometimes leading to hospitalization.

Despite the relative effectiveness of medication, I was constantly trying to avoid it.  I hated being dependent on drugs, and worried about the long term effects. In addition, the $40-60 a month was putting a hurt on the ol’ pocket book..  I took numerous breaks in my medication routine to see if I could manage.  Numerous attempts provided the same results- I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t breath, until I found yoga.

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Ego and Injury

mag-08yoga-t_CA0-articleLarge“We don’t use our bodies to get into these poses.  We use these poses to get into our bodies.” -Sarah Powers

One of the primary goals of yoga is to quiet the dominating ego (asmita).  The ego is the lowercase self that we often falsely identify with (“I am a teacher.  I am a man.  I am absent minded.”) However, it is only a reflection of the true, capital SELF (purusha). The ego is a reflection tainted with smudges of emotion, false knowledge, and fears.  Yoga helps us clean this lens, so as to come in touch with the true, unchanging SELF.

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Finding Perspective

Mist at Tone River

“When we are swimming in a river and cannot see the bank, it is difficult to notice the current.  We are moving so much with the river that we may scarcely see its flow.  But if we go to the bank where we have firm ground it is much easier to see how the river is flowing.” -T.K.V. Desikachar

 

After testing the waters of Newport Beach I’m officially back in Big Bear!  As this is my first blog, I want to address my return to Big Bear and why I’ve come back so completely convinced of the transformational power of yoga.

A primary goal of yoga asana practice (the postures) is to gain new perspective.  For example, most of the things I’ve learned about my imbalanced standing posture have not come from standing.  It was in Headstand (Sirsasana) that I discovered my tendency to sink into my right hip more than my left. In Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) I learned that I externally rotate the right leg and not the left.   When we place the body into different positions and turn our gaze inward, we take ourselves out of our patterns and tunnel vision.  We begin to see.   Read more