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Chakras

Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018

Happy Holidays!

Get prepared to welcome a New Year & New You with Good Yoga!

Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - GoodyogaI hope everyone is ready for the great adventures that await us in the year 2019. To help you maintain your calm during all the changes that are most certainly going to occur this year and to help you keep focused on your goals and desires, there is always Yoga. Yoga is a holistic science that works with many different aspects of our lives. Hatha Yoga works specifically with the body via the endocrine and nervous system to affect and improve both mental and emotional function so that we can experience the clarity and calm we are all looking for.

This desired calm and clarity is first found by controlling and relaxing the body. The mind follows the direction of the body. The secondary effect of a relaxed body is a relaxed mind. This is because the reality of the mind-body complex is that they are one and the same and it is impossible to change one aspect without affecting the other. There are many pills and recipes that offer a way to influence either the mind or the body with promises of relief from physical pain, anxiety, stress and depression.  Nonetheless, it is not necessary or even recommended to swallow a pill to find relief as the secondary and long term effects are often worse then the primary problem.

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Hatha Yoga offers another way. The science of Hatha Yoga is explained with a different vocabulary from that of western medicine but the theory is the same. The endocrine system as outlined in western medicine is centered purely around a physical approach whereas in Yoga both the physical and energetic components of these glands are taken into consideration and outlined in the chakra system of Yoga science. By aligning and releasing energy blocks in the body, otherwise known as chakras in Yoga, physical and psychological problems associated with various parts of the endocrine system, can be released and relieved. This article summarizes how the chakras correspond with the major glands in the body (the endocrine system) and how certain postures interact with their functioning. Or you can experience for yourself the great benefits of a full Hatha Yoga practice with an all day workshop of Good Yoga to start the holidays off right!

Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga

Christmas Yoga Workshop

The Koshas and their connection to the Chakras

The first part of Yoga science to understand are the koshas and their connection with the chakras and consequently the endocrine system. Yoga philosophy states that everything is energy, our bodies included, and that the differences we observe in appearance and texture are simply points of energy vibrating at different frequencies. Nothing is fixed or solid. Quantum Physicas now confirms this.  The mind-body complex is both united and seperated by different frequencies. In the tradition of Ayurveda (the medical branch of Yoga) these different frequencies have the name of Kosha or ´layer/sheath´. There are 5 different layers (koshas) that vibrate at different frequencies. The idea is that if there is an imbalance or block somewhere along these different layers or frequencies, other layers will also be affected. For example, a block along the manomaya kosha (mind layer) will not only manifest at the level of the mind but will also be reflected at the layer of both the breath (Pranamaya Kosha) and the physical body (Annamaya Kosha). One can see this connection by observing how both the breath and physical body change in reaction to stress stimuli that first primarily affects the mind (Manomaya kosha). It is this mental stress response that is the culprit behind so many modern day physical ailments.

Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga

Inside this system of Koshas there are the chakras. Chakra in Sanskrit literally means ´wheel´. Chakras are therefore seen as wheels of energy located along the spinal column. One of the purposes of Hatha Yoga is to open the blocks in these wheels of energy first at a physical level and then going deeper into the Pranamaya kosha, the Manomaya kosha and eventually all the way to the Anandamaya kosha.

The Chakras and the Endocrine System 

 Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga       Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga

Each chakra is associated with physical and psychological characteristics as well as different sounds and colors. The science of Yoga shows that the location of each chakra is associated with certain glands of the endocrine systems. The endocrine system acts as a great network of communication between brain and body and is in charge of various metabolic functions that facilitate cellular communication as well as stimulation and hormone release. In order for the entire human organism to function well it is necessary that these endocrine glands produce and maintain a balance of these various fluids and hormones.

  • Samsara & Anja Chakras: The balance and release of the various hormones throughout the body is controlled mainly by the hypothalamus as well as the pituitary gland which is associated with the crown chakra, or Samsara chakra at the top of the skull. These same chakras are also closely related to the pineal gland which is often associated with the Third Eye/Ajna (associated with intuition and spirituality…as well as the release of DMT).  Headstand/Sirsasana is the most beneficial in activating these glands/chakras, hence why it is considered the King of Asanas. Nonetheless any kind of inversion is useful for activating and balancing these chakras. It is not necessary to hurt your cervical spine to active the crown or third chakra. Look for modifications of the pose if you have any physical discomfort along the neck or spine.

 

Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - GoodyogaChakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga

  • Vishuddha Chakra: Moving down to the Thyroid and Parathyroid glands. The Thyroid is located in the throat and associated with the Vishuddha chakra (throat chakra). It is responsible for controlling metabolic rate, growth and therefore, cell processes. Functioning of the Parathyroid determines how much calcium and phosphate are in the blood and if you regularly do the shoulder stand/Sarvangasana (Queen of Asanas) and the fish pose/Matsyasana you might just find your teeth are stronger, your sleep and appetite regulated as well as an increase in energy levels.

Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - GoodyogaMatsyasana

  • Anahata Chakra: Below the Vishuddha Chakra in the location of the heart resides the Anahata Chakra. This chakra is associated with the thymus gland that produces cells for the immune system. Postures that open the chest and increase oxygen intake in this area help to activate this chakra. Virsasana, Ustrasana and Virabhandrasana I, II are good examples. With these postures you also have the added benefit of working with the Root/Muladhara chakra as well as the solar plexus/ Manipura chakra.

Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga

  • Manipura & Muladhara Chakras: Below these glands we then come into contact with the Pancreatic and Adrenal Glands which are associated with the Solar Plexus/Manipura and the Root/Muladhara chakra, respectively. (These glands work closely together so I put them in the same paragraph and left the Sacral/Svadhisthana chakra for the end). The pancreas aids in digestion while the adrenal glands guide our ‘fight or flight’ response. It is said that due to high stress levels and diet the majority of people nowadays have low functioning adrenals that result in a sense of fatigue and foggy thinking. Doing postures that massage these glands as well as the spleen and pancreas helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which has a huge impact upon both physical and emotional well-being. Working with these chakras can also help with weight-loss due to the regulation of insulin that occurs as a result of massaging the aforementioned glands. Mayurasana, or the Peacock, is great for this, but often too advanced. Doing twists such as Ardha Matsyendrasana or back bends like Dhanurasana (The Bow), as well as Supta Virasana are very useful in activing these glands as well.
Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga

Supta Virasana

  • Svadhisthana Chakra: Finally, we move to the ovaries and testes where the Sacral/Svadhisthana chakra resides. Postures such as Samakonasana, Uppavista Konnasana, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon pose) or variations thereof, that open the pelvis and and/or work pelvic floor are usually quite beneficial as they bring blood flow to this area and can help with issues of fertility and/or menstruation. On an emotional level, Ana Forrest claims in her book Fierce Medicine that hip openers, especially if maintained for extended periods of time tend to get into really deep seeded emotional baggage that can have their roots in issues of security and/or sexual/emotional repression or abuse. Breathing through the pose will help you to release the baggage.
Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga

Uppavista Konnasana

Yoga is a Personal Journey

This is a VERY brief summary of certain Yoga postures and their associated chakras (aka glands) as well their connection to the koshas of Ayurveda medicine. Yoga is a holistic practice and like the body it cannot be separated into parts and pieces nor can it be isolated into one specific approach. One pose will almost definitely work with more than one gland and to maintain balance in body and mind, each gland deserves your breath and attention. For that reason it is important to participate in a complete Hatha Yoga practice that addresses the activation of each of these chakras without causing harm at either a physical or psychological level. Look for an experienced and trained instructor to help you and enjoy the great benefits of this ancient practice.

Happy Yoga practice and Happy New Year!!!

Chakras and the Endocrine System: Full day Yoga workshop December 2018 - Goodyoga

OM

The nervous system, back bends and inversions

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

As we continue to get through the colder, darker and more sedative months of winter, inversions and backbends are a fantastic and holistic way to combat the symptoms of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), exhale out the stress of the holidays and warm up the body and soul. Below is a little introduction to the physical and neurobiological mechanics of backbends and inversions. I also offer some insight and instruction on how one can correctly execute these great mood enhancing poses that not only help to relieve lethargy but are also great for releasing neck and shoulder tension.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions:

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

Urdhva Dhanurasana

One cannot discuss the nervous system without introducing the Vagus Nerve.  This is a fascinating nerve that is linked to everything from digestion to depression. Dr. Levine and Dr. Kolk in their research hypothesize that there is a direct connection with the poor functioning of the vagus nerve and its associated organs with anxiety and depression. Simply put, the hypothesis is that anxiety has it´s root in an overactive fight/flight response and depression is then the result of the frustrated fight/flight response. In other words, when the nervous system perceives that there is no way out of a perceived threat, the biological defense response is a kind system shut-down that results in what researchers call ´freeze´ and what would be experienced on the emotional level as depression.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

Levine and Kolk argue that these sensations of stress, anxiety and depression occur first in the body and are then interpreted in the brain. The primary path of this communication from body to brain is the vagus nerve. There is more and more literature discussing the importance of a good ´vagal tone´ to maintain both mental and physical health. In fact, pharmaceutical giants Glaxo-Smith-Kline are trying to make profit out of this fact by investing over 50 million dollars in researching a device that would provide vagus nerve stimulation  (Medicine Beyond, p. 235). Lucky for humanity, Vagus nerve stimulation is something that Yoga provides naturally and free.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

 

What is the Vagus Nerve?

Vagus is Latin for ´to wander´ and that is exactly what this nerve does. It starts up behind the ear moves down the neck and continues to spread out it´s tentacles along the chest, around the heart and into the gut. 70-80% of the information that is passed along the vagus nerve moves from the bottom up and only 20-30% of it moves from the top down. This is why some people say the second brain is in the gut. All those sensations that are experienced in the gut (which has as many neurons as a cat´s brain) and along the organs connected to the Vagus Nerve are sent up to the brain to be analyzed and interpreted by the pre-frontal cortex, language centers and amygdala. That means working with the vagus nerve and the organs connected to it can modify messages sent to the brain about sensations that are experienced in the body.The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

In fact, the majority (80-90%) of the ´feel good´ neurotransmitter, serotonin is produced in the gastro-intestinal tract. The upward movement of information along the Vagus Nerve and the connected internal organs demonstrates how working with the body, one gets to the brain. Amy Cuddy demonstrates this beautifully in her own research which can be viewed here.

Cuddy, Kolk, Levine and other renown researchers like Dr. Steve porges are demonstrating how direct work with the body influences our energy levels, sexual desire, sleep patterns and digestion…and working with the body to control the mind and increase quality of life IS precisely the theory behind the practices and postures of Hatha Yoga.

Poses for Vagus Nerve Tone: Examples and why they work

One Yoga pose will activate multiple meridians, muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments all at once.  Nonetheless, if one wishes to focus upon the activation and toning of the vagus nerve- which has its chakra associations with the solar plexus (Manipura), heart (Anahata) and throat chakras (Vishuddha )– than backbends and inversions are the way to go.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

 

Backbends/Back extensions:

Due to the physical form of these poses backbends work directly with the vagus nerve. Backbends, or back extensions as they are also known, work by opening and toning the front of the belly, chest, sternum and throat which, as mentioned earlier is home to that wandering vagus nerve. Via breath, pressure, stretching and by holding back bends CORRECTLY while breathing into the pose the organs associated with the vagus nerve and the nerve itself is activated, toned and strengthened. A well ´toned´ vagus nerve and the attached organs means that the brain receives biological signals of relaxation such as a regulated digestive tract, slower heart rate and deeper breath. It signals to the brain, via the Vagus Nerve, that all is well and there is no need for fighting, running way or freezing up.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

DHANURASANA

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

shalabhasana

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

ustrasana

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Precautions:

It is important that when practicing backbends that one take great care around the lumbar spine. The most common mistake in these poses is to clench the buttocks-which can result in compressing the lumbar spine. Also, when going up into poses like bridge (urdva danurasa), compression of the lumbar occurs when one pushes straight up through the public bone or belly button rather than lengthening the lumbar and lifting through the sternum. My advice in all back bends is, to think about internal rotation of the thigh bone and activation of the abductors…the muscles on the inside of the thighs. This action will automatically open the space around the lumbar and activate the abdominals which need to be strong to protect the lumbar.  Always start slow and gain real awareness of what the space around the lumbar, stretch across the chest and strength in the abdominals FEELS like. Look for the correct sensation, not just the correction formation.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

supta virasana

Inversions:

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - GoodyogaFor thousands of years human beings have practiced inversions and now in various physical therapy clinics, props like inversion tables are common.

The ´Yoga Form´ mechanics of inversions are fantastic not only for decompressing the entire spine, which is of course has its effect on the entire nervous system both posteriorly  (along the spinal cord) and anteriorly (vagus nerve) but is also great for increasing lung capacity, activating digestive organs, strengthening the immune system (by helping to activate the lymphatic system), regulating hormone release and increasing the production of all those feel good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

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The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

AdhoMukhaSvanasana

All this neuro-biological activity that occurs during inversions results an overall more balanced state of emotional, mental and  physical well-being.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

uttanasana

Just like with back extensions, one must be very
aware of doing these poses correctly

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

Pincha mayurasaa

to avoid causing damage to the cervical AND lumbar spine. The most common mistake in inversions is putting too much pressure on the neck and not bringing the weight of the body into the shoulder girdle. Again, look for the correct sensation, not just the correction formation.  One should feel activation in the triceps, the dorsal spine and the pectorals NOT the neck or lumbar spine. Think about pushing the shoulder blades up towards the hips, the elbows and wrists towards the ground and maintain the aforementioned rotation of the thighs, like you would in a back extension, to keep the core active and the lumbar spine protected.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

Every yoga pose (asana) should be done with awareness and with careful internal observation-after all asana means ´seat of awareness´ – and this awareness even more important for backbends and inversions.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

If you would like to learn more on how you can correctly execute these poses without causing harm to yourself or others while increasing vagal tone and achieving all the feel good effects highlighted above,  sign up for the workshop on February 9th 2019 in the well equiped center of Yoga & Wellbeing Seville. 10% early bird discount for those who sign up before the 1st of February 2017.

The nervous system, back bends and inversions - Goodyoga

Aum (OM): What is it and why do we chant it

Aum (OM): What is it and why do we chant it - Goodyoga

Last week I had the privilege and honor to officiate the wedding of one of my Yoga students. When she asked me if I could officiate her wedding,  I started to cry just from sheer emotion, but then reality sunk in and I spent a week starting than stopping, wringing my hands, and flipping ideas back and forth on how I was going to start and lead the ceremony, I mean this was a first for me…officiating weddings was never in any of my trainings. I had never in my life even contemplated acting as an officiate in anything, especially in a wedding.

Aum (OM): What is it and why do we chant it - GoodyogaNonetheless, eventually, after lots of hand wringing about how to start this multi-cultural, bi-lingual, interfaith, no-faith wedding, Yoga gave me the answer. One morning, as I started my personal practice just a few weeks before the wedding, the most obvious answer came to mind- I needed to start the ceremony with that ancient and powerful chant, the Aum (OM).

In India it is customary to start all sorts of ceremonies with the repetition of the Aum (OM). I always start and end my classes in this way. There is an art to its repetition and there are countless theories and interpretations on what exactly the vibrating sound of Aum (when chanted sounds like OM) means and what its origins are. Below is a brief description of the most common:

There is agreement that it is an ancient sound that is said to represent the beginning/birth (A) the middle/life (U) and end/death (M) of creation as well as all the spoken sounds and aspects of language. Is it said to represent the very basis of the universe, and its continuous becoming. It is symbolic of the divine triad of Parvati, Lakshmi and Shakti as well as their masculine aspects of Bhrama, Vishnu and Siva.

Aum (OM): What is it and why do we chant it - Goodyoga

The silence at the end of the Om is symbolic of Ishvara, a divine concept that exerts that pure divine existence resides in complete stillness and silence, beyond language and consciousness, over which masculine and feminine energies unite in equal parts to manifest as creation. For this reason it is connected with the vibration of the 7th chakra (wheel of energy) that exists above the head, more or less where the soft spot is on a baby´s skull, outside of the body, placed in-between the point of material and non-material existence.

Aum (OM): What is it and why do we chant it - Goodyoga

Furthermore, at 432 HZ it is believed to be the base vibration of all material existence and supposedly if you listen to the recordings of NASA and their recordings of the earth, a low hum that sounds strikingly like Aum (OM) can be heard.  You can listen to it here:

When one chants the OM one should try to not only hear and listen to the hum and vibration but also feel it throughout the skull, the brain, the chest and entire body.

Finally, according to the ancient Yogic texts of the Upanishad the Aum (Om) is the union of breath and sound and together they mate to produce song. With this clarified, it not only seemed ideal, but necessary to start the wedding with this chant. So as an invocation, I asked all those in attendance to participant in the honoring of the joining of these two humans by chanting the Aum (Om) 3x and to maintain a small still silence at the end.Aum (OM): What is it and why do we chant it - Goodyoga

I was a little uncertain about asking all of the wedding attendees to participate in this chant, but despite there being very few Yogi´s in the wedding with people from all over the world who came from different backgrounds, faiths, ages and beliefs everyone came together in one vibration.

In the silence afterwards, and between the stone walls that had witnessed over 400 years of history, I felt a deep sense of calm that confirmed and clarified the reason why so many of the ceremonies in India start and end with this ancient chant.

Science has shown that in the end we are all just vibration spinning at different speeds and I would argue that the practices of Yoga, be it Hatha Yoga asana practica, Kirtan mantra chanting, and/or Kundalini breathwork we have the power to influence and raise that vibration so that we can life more fully and with more joy in THIS, the present moment, within ourselves and with others, this wonderful experience called life.

Aum (OM): What is it and why do we chant it - Goodyoga

 

OM
Aum (OM): What is it and why do we chant it - Goodyoga