by Dr. Karel Nespor, Czechoslovakia
"Some form of anti-stress is urgently needed for modern man. Chemical tension suppressors are not the answer. Drugs, if relied upon regularly, can create a dependence within the user; also, some chemical relaxants have harmful side effects. Relaxation appears more and more to be the answer to this problem.
The physiological changes during relaxation are just the opposite to stress reactions. A comparison between stress and relaxation measured by EEG shows that muscle tone, blood pressure, cardiac rate, sweating, and hormonal secretion increased during stress, recording beta (fast) rhythm and decreased during relaxation, recording alpha (slower) rhythm.
How to relaxEvery man has the innate ability to relax himself; he only has to be shown how to utilize it. Relaxation is both muscular and mental. Due to the link between body and mind, muscular physical relaxation implies that mental relaxation also occurs.
Mental relaxation involves liberating the mind to express itself with a more controlled freedom. Whatever aspect of yoga one practices, relaxation is the charging force behind it.
Relaxation is such a simple common sense way to joyful, healthy living. The general public should become aware of it. Yogic relaxation is a concentrated form of rest. It has immediate effects upon one's vitality and production during the working day. Some people I have met have the ability to stay relaxed throughout the day. For example, one of my university teachers appeared to be carefree and loose to the point of laziness. It surprised me to learn from a doctor collaborating closely with him, that he was actually a highly productive, active man.
Today I realize that this man was unconsciously relaxed.
Relaxation is not only for the chosen few. Any person can re-learn it. During the course of education man learns many things which he never uses. Why then should he not learn relaxation; something useful for living?"
Beautiful Yoga & wisdom
Yoga approaches the getting of wisdom by working with the physical body to work with the mind. By strengthening the muscles of the body one strengthens the nervous system and therefore the muscles of the mind.
By stretching the body one stretches the muscles, the nervous system and the mind. The tools for stretching and strengthening the body and the mind are asana, pranayama and bandha.
Yogic practices are not just ordinary exercises of body and breath and energy but practices which are held in position with a long exhalation and which are, over time, held for longer and longer exhalations and periods of time.
Wisdom is not thought – it is a quality which expresses itself in one’s health, actions and thoughts.
Addictions - and the mind
Addictions are known to all of us. They are day-to-day desires which may be felt as physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual cravings, both strong and mild, arising from emotional tensions and unhappiness. They affect us all the time at the emotional level, and left unharnessed, may cause very deep emotional unwellness and unhappiness which is easily triggered. Your happiness cannot be left to chance, or to others, it is a skill, an art, which can only be honed by you.
Normally, we seek to fulfil our desires/addictions in order to experience emotional pleasure. However the gratification of addictions gives only very temporary pleasure, leading to further and often more intense requirements, which in yoga is known as pain. Drug and alcohol addiction is a very obvious form of this. Less obvious addictions are present in almost everyone. The addiction to be liked. To be attractive. To eat comfort foods. To eat vegan. To eat meat. To be punk, or pure, academic or arty. The requirement for status leads to the requirement for many and expensive material objects. The craving for status, money and power is not pleasure - it is a pain.
When gratification of a desire is thwarted, the emotional body reacts, becoming frustrated, angry, sad, restless, etc, etc. When you want something, chocolate, for instance, you want it when you want it - and practically go hunting for it, tracking it down. There might be a bit in this cupboard or at the back of the fridge, or ‘I might as well go for a walk since I can’t have chocolate’ and you find yourself right outside the chocolate shop. The goal is to get beyond the urge for gratification.
We are addicted to the type of clothes we wear, the friends we have, the furniture we have, movies, the internet - to virtually everything in our daily lives. A ‘non-materialistic’ person may have an aversion to expensive things and have an addiction instead, to old, worn, op-shop things. Addiction implies you are not free of to be relaxed. Some are addicted to fragrance, others to taste, some are addicted to touch, others to the need for space. Some are addicted to romance, or solitude, repression or hedonism, success or failure. Some are addicted to independence, or co-dependence, to religion or atheism, to the couch or to power-sports.
Of course desires are natural and many lead us to explore and awaken greater potential both within ourselves - and this planet. For that it is essential that we discern how a desire should be fulfilled, so that it doesn’t become an addiction. Emotional wellness occurs when addiction and negative perceptions are reduced - and desires which awaken potential are acted upon. Choosing to thrive.
See. Question. Cut.
Due to the clever machinations of the super-structure we call mind we cling to bad habits and negative emotions as if they are the dearest things in our life. We have justified them at some level and in doing so they have become as solid sediment in the subconscious mind (the partly conscious mind). To get beyond the grip of these addictions we first have to be able to see them, second question them and third be able to cut from them. We have to cultivate the strength and inspiration of mind to say “I cut from this tension, which binds me”.
Louise Hay writer of You Can Heal Your Life says affirmations to remove old habits and bring in the new vibrant state of consciousness need to be said 3-400 times a day for the first week, to imprint on, and vibrate the subconscious.
Tension is embedded in the amazing mind like old concrete - and just as hard to dislodge. It takes self-love along with patient, vigilant affirmations and actions, to break it down into workable bits. It’s been in there a while, it won’t be eradicated overnight. But it will get broken down with inspiration. Vishuddhi chakra – the throat chakra – is the chakra of inspiration, which brings in change, softly and surely.
Detachment, gratification, unhappiness and joyousness are all qualities of the personality which belong to swadhistana chakra – the tailbone chakra – the chakra of joyousness.
Chakras are whirlpools of energy which reside in an energy-body which is approximately the same size as the physical body. They have been photographed by kirlian photograpy so at least on that level science has met yogic knowledge.
Six of the main chakras sit at junctures along the spine, within the energy-body. They play a huge role in feeding and balancing our nervous system as they either fuel, or block, the energy which flows along the spine, fuelling & blocking the nervous system, and thereby fuelling and blocking our behaviour. In yoga the word energy is known as prana and from here on will be referred to as prana.
Awakening of the chakras goes on undetected until we become sapient – very aware that we exist – then information about them somehow comes to us, where it never did before.
When this happens we are able to work the chakras consciously and carefully. While this is simple and easy to do, needing only a simple technique known as chakra shuddhi, it is essential that you are taught by a fully qualified teacher who understands the processes involved and will support you appropriately, on the journey. For this I would recommend an experienced Satyananda Yoga teacher.