Reflections on standing up

For most people, walking freely on two legs is basic to being human, so basic that they never think about it. Losing that ability is devastating and has profound psychological effects as well as physical ones.

I spent a very long time alone in a hospital bed in extreme pain and it was by far the best yoga lesson that I have ever had. The Yoga Sutras, as well as common sense, tell us that of all the ways of knowing something direct experience is the best. Now that I have the experience of successfully applying the science of yoga to that extreme situation I feel I have a responsibility to teach others what I learnt as well as I can.

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It’s the breathing, stupid

After a class at Glenunga I had a Bill Clinton moment. While everyone in the class did as well as they could I wasn’t satisfied that I was getting the magic of traditional yoga across.

I looked into my early practices in hospital and asked myself, what was I doing that was so effective. How was it that I was strong enough to get up and walk in my first prosthesis with no trouble? How did I really reduce pain and deal with the storm of negative emotions that threatened to engulf me? What was it that was so unobtrusive that I could do it comfortably in a room full of strangers?

The answer wasn’t long in coming, ‘It’s the breathing, stupid’.

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Nadi Shodina – Sitali Pranayama

An introduction to the Nadi Shodian and Sitali pranayama practices combined. The practice is preceded by a few simple asanas and intended to help beginners start this extremely helpful practice.

A video can’t replace pranayama instruction from an experienced teacher but it will get you started. Take care no to introduce stress or any laboured breathing. Pranayama is most effective when breath is control is allowed to increase naturally and gently. Forcing either the preparatory asanas or the practice itself is of little use can have the opposite of the intended result.

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