Friday, 12 August 2016

The Greatest Yogi

For the Christian who practises yoga, Jesus of Nazareth represents the highest level of attainment, as he came to fulfil the law. Not the law of mortal beings, but the law and will of God. This condemned him to crucifixion, as he exhibited a level of free will with aims contrary to the establishment of the day. He spoke with authority, not the authority backed by man made laws, but with the authority of someone who spoke as one of the elect. Christ saw through and beyond the web of this world, with its trials and tribulations, and could with a glance or touch, relieve suffering and heal the sick. This was not an extra-ordinary gift for someone who was at one with the creator of all life, as he was at one with the truth that underlies and defines mortal existence; it is fallen man that distorts the catalytic power of Christ’s vision.
Self recognition is the goal of the Yogi, there are two aspects to the Self, like a two way mirror, one looks outward to the world, guided by the senses five. The other is looking inward into the pristine stillness, from which the soul was formed.
The outward and worldly looking can so easily captivate us and influence our self-development, we call this the exoteric and because it is so often self-limiting, it is usually spelt with a small ‘s’. The reflexive techniques of yoga and inward looking, the esoteric, releases us from self-limitation  and awakens the soul to a more Conscious and visionary way of life, and here we  refer to the Self by writing with a large ‘S’.
The highest form of Yoga exhibited by Christ is the most difficult; as we have invested so much energy in outward looking that it has become the habitual way of responding to stimulus. These energy patterns have become so habitual that they not only condition human behaviour, but also influence the energy patterns of the life fields of which we are a part.
Every thought in the human mind has an emotional charge, even hidden thoughts, thoughts we would like to ignore and suppress, which when given the opportunity, still seek to find self-expression.
In this context, the words of Jesus “I and my Father are One”, have a tremendous significance, as the Will of God, the Will of the eternal unchanging Self, is not the will of mortal beings with their limited perspectives, but arises from a spiritual vision  that encompasses all worlds from the smallest to the greatest.

When you know yourself as Will, in the highest sense of this word, you can in accord with Jesus of Nazareth repeat the words “I and my Father are One”. All true Yogis work toward achieving this highest ideal of Yoga, Union with the Absolute Good, or Will of God, made understandable and possible by the recorded life of Christ.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Yoga for Back Pain

Yoga for Back Pain
When we use the word Yoga it implies an intelligent and Conscious approach to whatever is being done. Whenever back pain is present there can be diverse reasons as to its cause, from serious trauma requiring immediate medical intervention, to the less serious, whether physical or psychological. At some point decision has to be made whether any form of exercise is appropriate and this is when the realistic approach of Yoga may prove helpful.

It is likely that if the cause of the pain is recent that the injury is at the acute stage, when inflammation, torn tissue and pressure due to swelling affecting nerve endings produces continuous discomfort and the best course of action is rest. It is when healing takes place and when musculature tightens that we enter the chronic phase, when there is undue stiffness and a lack of flexibility. Yoga exercise then becomes part of a Conscious and evolving process in which the spine and associated musculature is allowed to start to express itself through a range of movement, which is extremely gentle at first, as forced movement can be counter-productive. Some basic exercise is described as follows:-

Flexing the Spine as with the forward bending postures, particularly with disc related problems, has to be approached with caution. Paschimottanasana is a seated posture with the legs extended to the front, in which the posterior muscles of the body are given a stretch by bending forward and bringing the body toward the legs. The posture is then held for several seconds without pulling or jerking, but simply allowing the upper weight of the body to contribute toward the stretch. It takes time and patience to stretch tightened muscles; helps are directing the energy and the warmth of the out flowing breath toward the whole of the back.

Hyperextension is the counter pose posture which after spinal flexion is taken up from a lying face down position. Ideally it should be possible to first raise the head and shoulders without assistance from the arms. However, a realistic approach after suffering back trauma is to adopt a Sphinx like pose by resting on the forearms and then raising head and shoulders and holding position for several seconds. With improved flexibility the body can be raised further by adopting the Cobra or Bhujangasana pose with the hands palms down at shoulder level.

Lateral Flexion allows the spine to bend first to one side and then the other. There are a variety of Yoga postures to encourage this, usually from a stable seated position while sitting with the legs crossed or knees bent and at one side and then the other. The arms are then raised and clasped above the head and stability maintained as the body is stretched first to one side and then the other.

Spinal Rotation can be from either standing or sitting and the body rotated first one way and then the other, and holding the twist for several seconds at each turn.

This is a small example of the type of Yoga exercise then can help alleviate back pain. It is important to remember that the body is best supported by a well toned musculature and that there has to be achieved a balance between too relaxed and flaccid, called the hypotonic condition, and the too tense, the hypertonic. The ideal is when muscle tone is such that it is ready for immediate action and referred to as a balanced or tonic condition.

Yoga is very much bringing control back to the individual and assisting in the healing process through an intelligent awareness of the body, whether or not medical intervention has been necessary. The aim of Yogi throughout the ages has been to know one’self at all levels whether physically, mentally or spiritually.