Category Archives: Chanting Yoga

Yoga & Ethics

CHANTING YOGA BEGINS AND ENDS WITH ETHICS

Ethical behaviour is essential for developing harmony within oneself and with others, and yoga offers a systematic ethical and spiritual path of consciousness transformation.

Patanjali described yoga into eight interconnected limbs that led progressively to higher stages of health and awareness.

~ Ethical restrain, not harming, truthfulness, not stealing, Self restrain, cleanliness of mind and body, contentment.
~ Posture: cultivation of profound physical steadiness
~ Breath control: to control and channel life force (Prana) in the breath.
~ Sensory inhibition: Withdrawal of the senses from the external world into the interior self.
~ Concentration: locking attention on a single object.
~ Meditation: Profound state of quite and relaxation
~ Ecstasy: Transcending state of integration with the infinite.(Cameron, 2004)

Chanting Yoga and its relationship with therapies

  • Yogic approaches emphasize somato-psychic functioning of a person in the present moment and are not concerned with past psychological history, and thus are quite different than many of the present-day psychotherapeutic techniques where past psychological history dictates the significant direction of the therapy.
  • Yogic therapies are based on self-regulation and self-regulation of the patient, whereas pharmacotherapy or most of the psychotherapies foster dependence either on a physician or on a drug. Besides, yoga therapies remain an essential part of the multidimensional model of natural and spiritual healing.
  • Tranquilizers or antidepressants reduce the sensory stimulation feedback, thereby decreasing somatic and psychic awareness. Besides, pharmacotherapy not only disturbs homeostatic rebalancing, but also decreases motivation and self-insight.
  • Both psychoanalysis and meditation are based on the idea of increasing the area of consciousness creating more control of the “Self”. They both trace the cause of human suffering in the past and belief that unless the past is unearthed and brought to the consciousness one cannot get rid of suffering. Though the approach is different, psychoanalysis and meditation both help in visualization and relieving but meditation leads to transcendence. Meditation has several advantages over psycho-analysis.
  • Psycho-analysis may help in exposing 10-20 % of the past before the patient’s consciousness, meditation however if done regularly, will expose 100% before him, thus this is the only technique that promises the full liberation from bondages of ego or antahkarna.
  • Psycho-analysis primarily focuses on the search for the final goal, in doing so, it blocks freedom and happiness, as in obsessions. Meditation on the other hand removes all obsessions, hence brings freedom and happiness.
  • In Psycho-analysis, there is a significant role of transference and counter- transference, where as in meditation, there is no role of the same.
  • Psycho-analysis is time consuming and expensive to undertake, where as meditation does not involve any expenditure, as one has not to purchase time from the analyst and can practice mediation in their own surrounding and time, after having mastered the art (Goel, 1993).
CHANTING – IS THE NEW YOGA

EEGWaves in Yoga

Research Studies

High-resolution EEG investigation of meditation
According to recent investigations, theta and alpha oscillations are defined as narrow frequency bands reflecting the activity of multifunctional neuronal networks.These are deferentially associated with orientation, attention, memory, effective, and cognitive processing. 128-channel ESI System (ESI-128, NeuroScan Labs.) and 64-channel QuikCap with imbedded Ag/AgCl electrodes (NeuroSoft, Inc.) were used inorder to record these EEG from 62 active scalp sites referenced to the tip of the nose along with both vertical and horizontal electrooculograms (EOGs). EEG spectral power and coherence was estimated in the individually defined delta, theta, alpha-1, alpha-2, and alpha-3 bands and were used to identify and characterize brain regions involved in the meditative states, in which focused internalized attention gave rise to emotionally positive ‘blissful’ experience.

Blissful state was accompanied by an increase in anterior frontal and midline theta synchronization as well as an enhanced theta long-distant connectivity between prefrontal and posterior cortex with distinct ‘center of gravity’ in the left prefrontal region (AF3 site). Therefore, subjective scores of emotional experience significantly correlated with theta waveforms whereas scores of internalized attention were correlated with both theta and alpha lower synchronization.

Conclusion
These results suggest selective associations of theta and alpha oscillating networks activity with states of internalized attention and positive emotional experience.

Spectral power changes between eyes closed and meditation conditions in the short-term (STM) and long-term (LTM) meditators in the theta, alpha-1, and alpha-2

Coherence changes between eyes closed and meditation conditions in the STM and LTM in the theta band. Solid lines indicate coherence increase whereas dashed lines point to coherence decrease (the thicker lines relate to error probability of P < 0.001, the thinner lines relate to P < 0.01

EEG WAVEFORMS

Traditional time domain EEG spectra are separated into fundamental bands qualitatively based on shape and range of frequency for clinical and research applications. These generally occur within the limits of 0.1 to 35 Hz for clinical and include alpha, beta, delta, and theta waves. When many of the individual bands occur repeatedly in a specific area of the brain, they produce a complex EEG waveform observed in traditional EEG recording methods.

Alpha wave

Normal alpha rhythms are characterized by sinusoidal waveforms occurring between 8 to 13 Hz. Although the specific amplitude varies from one individual to another, it typically ranges from 20 to 60 mV and rarely exceeds 100 mV. They are believed to originate in the posterior region of the brain and are generally observed in the parietal, occipital, and posterior temporal areas. Alpha rhythms are best detected when an individual is mentally inactive, and they are often seen when the subject is awake, relaxed, and in an environment relatively free of stimuli. These rhythms are inhibited by the ascending reticular activating system at the onset of an unanticipated stimulus or when an individual exhibits increased mental and visual activity. The rhythms disappear completely when a person becomes drowsy. This “alpha dropout” is characterized by the eventual replacement of the alpha waves by a low voltage, mixed frequency pattern. Once asleep, patterns known as sleep spindles may appear which resemble alpha rhythms but periodically produce clusters of extremely large spikes in 1 to 2 second interval (Niedermeyer, 1993). These spindle formations are referred to as spindle coma patterns when observed in comatose patients who have preserved their normal sleep patterns (Synek, 1988). Despite the somewhat similar appearance to alpha waves, spindle waves are clearly different and originate in the thalamus where they inhibit the synaptic transmission of that structure (Steriade, 1993).

Beta wave

Beta rhythms include all frequencies above 13 Hz with low amplitudes rarely exceeding that of 30 mV. They can exist simultaneously throughout the cortex at various frequencies but are most common to the frontal and central head regions in nearly all healthy adults. Beta rhythms can be extremely fast with an upper limit between 50 and 100 Hz. Enhanced or fast beta activity occurs over isolated bone defects and is also an effect of minor tranquillisers, barbiturates, and some nonbarbiturate sedatives. Remarkably accentuated beta rhythms are usually classified as only slightly abnormal unless they occur in unresponsive individuals, which may be an indication of a severe abnormality (Niedermeyer, 1993). Frontal beta activity may be one of the fastest EEG frequencies and is common in normal sleeping individuals. Posterior beta activity also may be present in some individuals where it mimics the alpha rhythms blocking and enhancement reactivity to eye opening. In addition, localized bursts of 40 Hz oscillations are characteristic prior to voluntary movement, such as wrist or finger extensions, and beta synchronization appears at approximately 20 Hz after movement (Pfurtscheller, 1992; Pfurtscheller 1996).

Delta wave

Delta rhythms consist of low frequency, high-amplitude waveforms recorded between 1 to 4 Hz with amplitude ranges commonly from 20 to 30 mV. Delta waves can be seen in the posterior regions of the head, and/or they can occur on either side of the temporal region. However, they are most often recorded over the left cerebral cortex. These rhythms are produced by thalamocortical neurons and are virtually absent in the EEGs of normal alert individuals. Delta waves are associated with periods of unconsciousness typically appearing in cerebral monitoring during sleep, coma, or after convulsive seizure. They also are common following traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can occur in conjunction with elevations in intracerebral pressure (ICP) due to an obstruction of the cerebral spinal fluid system or an expanding lesion (Rumpl, 1979). In such cases, waveforms of 0.5 to 5 Hz are recorded diffusely over the cranium. Customarily, waveforms below 1 Hz have been classified as delta waves. However, intracellular recordings indicate that these waveforms are derived from different mechanisms than those waves ranging from 1 and 4 Hz. The slower oscillations are generated by corticothalamic and reticular thalamic neurons, and they are significant abnormalities in severe coma patients (Steriade, 1993). ‘Psychomotor poverty’ is positively correlated with both delta and beta power and ‘reality distortion’ was significantly positively correlated with alpha-2 power (Harris, 1999).

Theta and Gamma wave

Theta waves measure from 4 to 7.5 Hz and have low to moderate amplitudes. They are presumed to originate in the thalamus and are associated with the hippocampus and limbic system. Theta rhythms can be recorded in the frontal, temporal, central, and posterior head regions and are rarely the predominant waveform, frequently mixed with alpha and beta waves. In fact, theta waves are most often seen in conjunction with alpha waves despite their different production mechanisms. Theta rhythms appear in various capacities at different stages of development and maturation. These waveforms also play a vital role in conditions of drowsiness and sleep in all ages and may be linked to the emotional processes in children (Niedermeyer, 1993). Frontal midline theta rhythm is a distinct theta activity of EEG in the frontal midline area that appears during concentrated performance of mental tasks in normal subjects and reflects focused attentional processing. Analysis showed bilateral medial prefrontal cortices, including anterior cingulate cortex, as the source of frontal theta, suggesting suggests that focused attention is mainly related to medial prefrontal cortex (Ishii et al, 1999). It has been suggested that immediate memory in humans may be mediated in the theta band (Towle et al., 1999).

Arousal may be a necessary condition for Gamma activity. In states of extremely low arousal (anaesthesia and non-REM sleep), there is minimal Gamma activity and evidence points to a positive linear relationship between arousal and level of Gamma. Sheer (1984) captured the essential role of arousal in the modulation of Gamma in his interpretation of Gamma activity as a `focused state of cortical arousal’. It has been hypothesised that in patients with schizophrenia, the integration, associating, timing, coupling or binding of spatially diffuse cerebral activity related to a specific cognitive task may be a key feature of the pathophysiology.

Neuroimaging studies of hypnosis have identified many of the same cerebral responses posited in the model of meditation proposed by Newberg and Iversen. In both meditation and hypnosis, attention drives the prefrontal and cingulate cortices which interact with other structures including nuclei of the thalamus and brainstem as well as parietal cortices, resulting in states of decreased vigilance and increased attention.

Furthermore, hypnosis studies have demonstrated distinctive associations between certain brain networks and mental relaxation and absorption. Specifically, hypnotic relaxation involves brain areas known to regulate arousal and vigilance while mental absorption involves a brain network underlying attention mechanisms. Additional increases in occipital rCBF during guided meditation and hypnosis may reflect a decrease in vigilance and in cross-modality suppression, associated with decreases in the cortical release of norepinephrine, and leading to a facilitation of experiential changes. Meditative techniques form a dichotomy roughly akin to the extremes of the allegorical spotlight of attention. Concentrative techniques involve sustained focal attention (e.g. on the breath) whereas receptive techniques involve unfocused sustained attention (e.g. mindfulness meditation). Further, meditative techniques may be self guided or externally guided via an instructor or recording. Similarly, hypnosis can be self induced or induced by a hypnotist.

Considering the striking similarities in their experiential and brain correlates, meditation and hypnosis appear to be closely related phenomena and hypnosis may be conceived as a western form of guided meditation.

Meditation in Yoga

Facts and Myths

Yoga is not confined to attire
Yoga is not renunciation of worldly life
Yoga is not inactivity
Yoga is not torturing oneself
Yoga is not magic
Yoga is not an exhibition
Yoga is not a competition
Yoga is not merely difficult posture
Yoga is not mysticism
Yoga is not one’s inherited domain

Who, Where, When and How?

  • Yoga is recommended to everyone.
  • One must have patience and faith in the Guru (teacher).
  • One can start yoga and meditation at any time in their life after understanding the basic fundamentals.
  • As yoga and meditation facilitates to control kama (lust), lobha (greed), moha (attachment) and control indriyas (senses), hence, one should have good level of motivation and sincerity.

Experience of the self is the first stage which is followed by the second stage that is one of complete visualization and transcendence.

Meditation

The meditation approach is based on understanding of total personality and cure and not the symptoms alone.

Biologically and physiologically, the subconscious human brain is similar to the animal brain. It runs on preset patterns. The higher layer of brain tissue available to humans is the conscious brain, which provides the realization to free will and choice. If this higher faculty is not used to become more conscious of the higher aspects of life, it is taken away in the next lifetime.
Karmically, to have animals killed en mass in slaughterhouses creates such heavy Karma that it is paid by having humans slaughtered en mass in wars.
Killing plants/vegetables also is an act creating Karma. The protection from the reaction comes by offering those vegetables to the Supreme Person with love. Then the reaction (karmic) to the act is eliminated.

Yoga has been found to be efficacious in: Smoking and Alcohol dependence: Substance Dependence (Bowen et.al 2007), Anxiety and Tension / Stress (Burkett et al, 2006, Lee, 2007, Lindberg, 2005), Insomnia and Epilepsy (Yardi, 2001). Psoriasis, Chronic low back pain (LBP) (Williams, 2005). Immunity (Lindberg, 2005, Roggia, 2001), Cardiac diseases, Asthma/ COPD, Eating Disorders, Depression/ Dysthymia (Lindberg, 2005;Galantino, 2003, Pilkington,2005). Adjunct to Infertility Treatment (Khalsa, 2003; Khalsa, 2004). Chronic Fatigue syndrome, Psychosomatic disorders (Galantino, 2003). Perimenopause/ Menopause (Cohen et al.2007), Prostrate cancer, Carpal-tunnel syndrome (Garfinkel, 1998), ect..

The most important rationale is the growing acceptance of utilizing the human self-regulatory capabilities for the treatment of psychosomatic diseases. Yogic approaches are the prime example of such human self-regulatory capacities (Singh, 2006).

What is Meditation?

Meditation is the yogic technique that enables us to experience “self”. Experience of the self is the first stage which is followed by the second stage that is one of complete visualization and transcendence.

During these stages one would experience

  1. Emergence of consciousness
  2. Enlargement of consciousness
  3. Merging of consciousness with cosmic consciousness.

The meditation approach is based on understanding of total personality and cure and not the symptoms alone. The individual consciousness (jiva) falls victim to the desires, wishes, fears, doubts, convictions, pattern formations and drives which in turn lead to disturbance in the psychic energy and gives rise to suffering and disorders. Meditation helps in relaxation and uplifts a person spiritually. Meditation like Kundalini yoga regulates the neurotransmitters, hormones and enhances coherence between the two brain hemispheres. Chanting mantras, meditation, rhythmic movements have a positive effect on our emotions. The parasympathetic system is activated which facilitates relaxation (Aftanas 2002; Kjaer, 2002).

In the last two decades of research in meditation, scientific evidence suggest that meditation has improved immune response, decreased response to sympathetic nervous system, in modification of cardiac symptoms, reduction of pain, reversal of heart symptoms and slowing of the aging process.

Emotional and spiritual benefits through meditation are far more efficacious and early response is noticed as compared to cognitive restructuring and psychotherapy. It enhances self esteem and cultivates self dependence (Aftanas, 2002; Infant, 2001; Travis,2001).

Yoga as Preventive medicine

Stress Management

The term “stress” was coined by Hans Seyle, and defines as non specific response of the body and mind to any demand, and adaptation to challenge. This physiological and psychological response is called general adaptation syndrome.

There have been various models that explain the role of stress in the development of an illness.

Due to the constant hassles of daily living and work in the form of ongoing interpersonal difficulties, persistent threat to security, financial deprivation, and other life events (Eustress, distress) have acted as triggering effect on the illness. This has precipitated the illness at an early age, a concept known as “brought forward time”

Stress strains the coping mechanism resulting in sequences of internal changes, which are outwardly expressed as illness. The “crisis theory” as proposed by Lindermann and Sating states that stress produces disequilibrium (crisis) resulting in either adaptative changes or maladaptive changes (emotional and physical illness).

The cybernetic model by Kagan and Levi suggests that there is a two-way interaction between psychosocial stress and psychobiological program which determines the physiological and psychological reaction leading to precursor of disease. Yoga has been found to be efficacious in resolving this stress by enhancing the internal power, rather than banking on the chemical agents.

It delays the expression of illness. It must be emphasized here that yoga is not a substitute to pharmacological intervention in acute cases, rather has an augmenting and supplementing therapeutic effect with pharmacotherapy in illness.

IN WORKPLACE

  • What prevents you from achieving at a higher level?
  • Lack of confidence in public speaking?
  • Anxiety, panic or a phobia?
  • Feelings of fear, greed, anger, depression, sadness, guilt, frustration, jealousy, hurt, resentment, stress or other?
  • Difficulty influencing others towards agreements?
  • Concept of what you are worth financially?
  • Burnt out?
  • Slumps in performance?
  • Substance abuse?
  • Your value system?
  • How to achieve success at the highest level?
  • How will this program help you?

A study on meditation in the workplace showed that meditation:

  • Increased effectiveness in the work place.
  • Reduced anxiety, work stress, insomnia and tiredness.
  • Reduced cigarette smoking and alcohol intake.
  • Increased job satisfaction.
  • It reorganizes your energy and vital force.
  • Heightens resistance to common diseases (viral infections).
  • Pranayam and meditation is known to boost your immune system.
  • Gain control of your emotions and mind.
  • Regularity and punctuality.
  • Better understanding in family and social life.
  • Increases memory.
  • Enhances Virtues like straight forwardness, generosity, honesty and productivity.
  • Managing negative emotions/feelings means an individual can achieve success at a higher level and an organization can perform closer to peak efficiency. The bottom line is increased job satisfaction and bigger profits.
  • Awakening our original consciousness.
  • Experiencing great peace and supreme knowledge.
  • Strengthen and recondition your entire body.
  • Meditation has been known to be effective in reversing heart disease, dealing with negative emotions, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, diminishing anxiety, stopping smoking, weight loss, eating disorders, addictions, boosting the immune system, and improving sports performance.
  • Regain youthful flexibility in spine and limbs.
  • Asanas (physical postures) have shown to improve the flexibility of the spine and help in the mobility of the joints.
  • Redistribute weight.

Illness and Yoga

1) Hypertension

In patients with anxiety, there is an increased level of catecholamine, particularly norepinephrine and epinephrine. Patients performing transcendental meditation had stable levels of catecholamine. This in turn regulated the sympatho-adrenenal medulla system, resulting in stable blood pressure (Infante, 2001).

2) Insomnia

Meditation has shown to be beneficial in sleep related problems.

3) Epilepsy

Transcendental meditation: A double-edged sword in epilepsy: Transcendental Meditation is derived from ancient yogic teachings. Both short- and long-term physiological correlates of TM practice have been studied. EEG effects include increased alpha, theta, and gamma frequencies and increased coherence and synchrony. Neuronal hyper synchrony is a cardinal feature of epilepsy, and subjective psychic symptoms, apnoea, and myoclonic jerking are characteristic of both epileptic seizures. Clinical studies of similar techniques suggest that meditation has a potential antiepileptic therapy.
In various studies, it has been suggested that behavioural phenomena have an underlying epileptic basis, and the potential efficacy for seizure reduction may translate into improved quality of life. However, more understanding is warranted by clinical trials before a blanket statement regarding the efficacy in seizure disorder is made (Yardi, 2000).

4) Smoking and Alcohol dependence: Substance Dependence

A study by Bowen et al. (2007), in a population of alcohol dependent explored the role of Vipassana, a mindfulness meditation practice emphasizes acceptance rather than suppression of unwanted thoughts. They concluded that Vipassana was effective in reduction in substance use as compared to controls. This was achieved as Vipassana meditation course volunteers reported greater reduction in attempts to avoid unwanted thoughts.

5) Psoriasis

In a study by Frankel (1998), in patients with psoriasis found that meditation helped as an adjuvant therapy. The rate of recovery of plaques was 3.8 times faster in the meditation group as compared to control, this was achieved in as little as four weeks time.

6) Chronic back pain

Back pain is an significant public health problem globally and is the most commonly reported reason for use of complimentary alternative medicine particularly yoga. Asthnga yoga and Iyengar yoga, have been found to be efficacious in patients with low back pain. Iyenger yoga has derived from Asthanga yoga, which consists of eight limbs including morale injunctions, rules for personal conduct, posture, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and self realization (Williams, 2005). Krusen, known as one of the early fathers of physical medicine, has credited yoga posture exercises as a means to correct spinal slumping, and thereby improve the respiratory capacity. Stretching of muscles, which produce propioceptive stimulation thereby relaxing muscle tension and restoring optimal muscle tone and posture

7) Depression

Depression is among the five most common disorders seen in primary care. Disability caused by depressive disorder rivals that of coronary artery disease and is greater than disability caused by chronic lung disease and osteoarthritis according to medical outcome study. Cost of depressive disorders in terms of treatment, missed work and loss of function is 43 billion US dollars annually. There have been various studies that have shown to be efficacious as an adjuvant therapy in patients with depressive disorder. (Pilkington et. al., 2005)

8) Psychosomatic disorders

The above-described paths of yoga help the individual in integrating the personality and steadying the mind by changing the attitude and motivation, by developing health and correct habits and by modifying priorities and values of life.
Breathing exercises help in bio-energy control, which then stabilizes emotional upheaval of illness. Yoga Asanas manipulate nervous system and divert body energy to establish the equilibrium of physical, mental and spiritual aspect of the individual’s life. Yoga hygiene not only removes the habit of unhealthy nutrition, but also establishes homeostatic balance. Somatic symptoms evolve due to fault in psychic energy distribution as explained in psychology. Yoga helps in re-channeling the psychic energy (Singh, 2006).

9) Perimenopause/ Menopause

Restorative yoga for treatment of hot flushes has been found to be effective as there was a significant decrease in mean number of hot flushes by 34% from baseline after 8 weeks of intervention. It has no adverse effects and has been suggested to be efficacious in middle-aged women (Cohen, 2007; Khalsa, 2004)

10) Carpal-tunnel syndrome

Yoga in treatment of carpal-tunnel syndrome (Winston, 1999) : Carpel tunnel syndrome is compressive neuropathy of the medial nerve in the carpel tunnel, its more common in women than men, as women have smaller carpel bone, hence less space to accommodate the nerve of similar diameter. With the extensive use of computer keyboard, the wrong posture has led to an increase in the number of new cases in the recent past. In a randomized control trial, it has been shown that eight weeks of Yoga has been found to be beneficial. There was significant reduction in the pain, and better grip strength (Sequeira, 1999).

11) Cancers

Similar to breast cancer, studies of people with prostate cancer suggest that melatonin levels are lower compared to men without cancer, and test tube studies have found that melatonin inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells. Meditation is a valuable addition to the treatment of prostate cancer. The positive effects of meditation may be due to a rise in levels of melatonin in the body.

12) Obesity

With the practice of asanas and meditation one can achieve weight loss to a greater degree in a short span of time. Weight can be reduced faster then most diets.

Caring for our body

Man has unconsciously tried to be forever young. Man has adopted various methods to achieve this goal, which has been futile and vain to a larger extent. They forget that use of revitalizing lotions or toners to erase the wrinkles is not sufficient. Pharmacological and other toxic substances (viz Botox- Botulin for wrinkles) would not help, to attain youthfulness, vigor and vitality. Yoga and meditation is suggested here, which is devoid of side effects and has lasting effect. (Infant, 2001; Travis, 1999;Travis,2001).

It enhances flexibility, regulates blood circulation, toning muscles, and redistributing body mass and enhances alertness and clarity of faculties of mind.

Yoga is a divine science, taking the mankind on the path of positive thinking. Its basis is banked on the homeostasis of all the systems as proposed by George Engel. The learned saints of ancient India discovered this process. Yoga is complete in every aspect as it touches the every sphere of human life. It is a complete science that provides a healthy lifestyle and a complete preventive medication system. Above all, it is an enlightening spiritual art. Saint Patanjali brought Yoga 5000 years ago, in a disciplined manner to preserve and produce the eight yogic practices in the form of Yoga Sutra.

Moreover, the popularity of Yoga lies in the fact that it has never bounded itself within the narrow-minded attitude of sex, community, area, religion, caste, and language.

Prana is Your ‘Life Air’

BENEFITS OF PRANAYAM

Pranayam can free the mind from restlessness and release the body from painful and unpleasant experiences.

The asanas only concentrate on physical aspects of the body however pranayam works on the subtle physical body much more than the asanas.

The benefits are:
• Physiological
• Mental
• Physical
• Spiritual

Physiological benefits

Most people do not breathe deeply – usually we use only 25% of the lungs, leaving 75% non-functioning. It is estimated that the lungs are made up of 73 million cells. During normal breathing only 20 million cells get oxygen thus 53 million cells remain starved of oxygen due to which the elimination of toxins is reduced causing several diseases.

Regular Pranayam can help in purifying the blood. Breathing air (prana) fills the lungs with the vital force circulating it through the entire body, first to the heart then to the lungs throwing out toxins like carbon dioxide through the process of exhalation.
In addition Pranayam can help with chronic respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, sinusitis and other ailments such as heart disease, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, liver cirrhosis, depression, anxiety and so on.

According to the ayurvedic medical science three items kapha, Pitta, vayu (phlegm, bile and air) maintain the physiological condition of the body. Ayurvedic process of treatment is based upon these three items (doshas). With pranayam a balance is achieved in the three doshas, vayu, pitta and kapha.

The prana vayu continues the life and the apana vayu stops the living force.

Mental health benefits

Great yogis find that chanting the omkara (Om sound) with breathing control allows one to bring the mind under control. This is the way of changing the habit of the mind. The mind and desires cannot be stopped. To develop the mind to function peacefully the quality of engagement by the mind has to be changed. The mind is the pivot of the active sense organs and as such if the quality of the thinking, feeling and willing is changed, naturally the quality of actions by the instrumental senses will also change.

Omkara is the seed of all transcendental sounds and it is the only transcendental sound, which will bring about the desired change of the mind and the senses. Even a mentally deranged man can be cured by the treatment of transcendental sound vibration.
Breathing control helps to keep the mind calm and free from negative thoughts. Also by regularly practicing these breathing exercises one develops practice of deep breathing which has several health benefits.

Well being that includes good concentration, mental ability and good memory are achieved with pranayam exercises.

Physical benefits

Pranayam has several benefits like: Longetivity, youthfulness and vigour.

Other benefits are in respiratory conditions, Allergies, Sinusitis, Asthma, inflammatory conditions like Arthritis and Rheumatism, in Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) Constipation, Prostate gland conditions, reducing blockage in Coronary Heart Diseases, Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Rejuvenation of skin, boosting of the Immune system.
With pranayam and meditation one achieves a transcendental state. In this state the neuro endocrine system is regulated involving the pituitary adrenal axis. The stress hormones like ACTH, Cortisol, Prolactin, Adrenaline and Noradrenaline are reduced and the other good hormones and Endorphins and Enkaphalins etc, increase thus helping in reversing the stress related diseases like Hypertension and Diabetes.

Pranayam brings a balance in the three doshas: kapha, Pitta and vayu (phlegm, bile and air).

Spiritual benefits

Consciousness is the sign of the living entity. The existence of the soul is manifest in the form of consciousness called jnana shakti. The activity of consciousness is performed through the air of life, which are called: prana, apana, udana, vyana, and samana.
Pranayam is meant for concentrating upon the localized aspect of Vasudev represented as Paramatma, the Super soul.
Pranayam brings stabilization of prana and calms the mind thus helping in the upward journey of prana from muladara chakra (base chakra) to sahastra chakra (cerebral) and helps in awakening kundalini (energy centers).

The various pranayam consists of:

Bhastrika pranayam
Kapal Bhati Pranayam
Bahaya pranayam
Anulom Vilom Pranayam
Bhramri Pranayam
Udgeeth Pranayam
Concentration on Breathing (Meditation)

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Why Chanting Yoga?

Chanting Yoga is part of a philosophy of living

THE PRACTICE AND BENEFITS OF CHANTING YOGA

Chanting Yoga combines two of the ancient processes of yoga – meditation (dyana) and repetition of mantras by concentrating on sound vibration.

Chanting Yoga offers a practical solution to the pressures of our time. According to the vedic calendar, we are now in the age of Kali which has also been called the Machine age or the Iron age. It is a time when it is practically impossible to practice traditional meditation because we are constantly exposed to noise – traffic, mobile phones, music – which has become an integral part of our existence. The nature of the mind is to be restless and this makes it extremely hard to concentrate on what we are doing let alone sit in tranquil meditation. Plus the pace of life makes it hard to find any time for our self.

Chanting yoga is perfectly suited to this modern time of stressful and busy lifestyles:

• You can chant anywhere and anytime
• You can chant alone or in a group
• You can chant at work, while traveling or at home
• You don’t have to wear anything special
• You don’t have to sit in a particular position
• You don’t have to carry out any gymnastics

Chanting Yoga is a sublime and simple process by which one can attain peace of mind, bliss and everlasting happiness. From the vedic age came the idea of meditating with a mantra – a word or sound repeated to aid concentration. “Man” is mind and “tra” is to liberate. Therefore chanting of mantras frees the mind from entanglements.

Chanting yoga is based on the concepts of self-regulation, relaxation, and holism. If one wishes, these concepts can be extended metaphorically to create a philosophy of living, encompassing diet, health, lifestyle and relationships with others and the world.

The benefits of Chanting Yoga

Success without stress
• Reduced stress
• Increased focus and concentration
• Enhanced creative intelligence
• Higher productivity

Better health
• Reduced depression and anxiety
• Increased physical health
• Longevity in elderly

Part of a philosophy of living

• Diet: determining ones diet based on ones physiology and season, promoting optimal nourishment and balanced diet.
• Health: physical fitness and good health through prevention – learning to prevent ill health through balanced daily and seasonal routines, proper diet, and higher states of consciousness.
• Lifestyle: relaxation and leading a life which is in harmony with law of nature by successfully controlling the expression of the “self”.
• Relationships: the deeper goal of yoga sifts out the unreal from the real thus enhancing relationships and family life.

How will Chanting Yoga help you?

A study on meditation in the workplace showed that meditation:
• Reorganizes your energy and vital force.
• Heightens resistance to common diseases (viral infections).
• Pranayam and meditation is known to boost your immune system.
• Managing negative emotions/feelings means an individual can achieve success at a higher level and an organization can perform closer to peak efficiency. The bottom line is increased job satisfaction and bigger profits.
• Meditation has been known to be effective in reversing heart disease, dealing with negative emotions, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, diminishing anxiety, stopping smoking, weight loss, eating disorders, addictions, boosting the immune system, and improving sports performance.
• Helps to gain control of your emotions and mind.
• Regularity and punctuality.
• Better understanding in family and social life.
• Increases memory.
• Enhances Virtues like straight forwardness, generosity, honesty and productivity.
• Awakening our original consciousness.
• Experiencing great peace and supreme knowledge.
• Strengthen and recondition your entire body.
• Regain youthful flexibility in spine and limbs.
• Asanas (physical postures) have shown to improve the flexibility of the spine and help in the mobility of the joints.
• Redistribute weight- With the practice of asanas and meditation one can achieve weight loss to a greater degree in a short span of time. Weight can be reduced faster then most diets.

For more info contact me @ YogaMayaFilms.com ~ And see you soon

Why an AYURVEDIC DIET ?

BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

Ayurvedic Food Combining

For many, the concept of food combining—the idea that some foods digest well together while others do not—is entirely new, and somewhat foreign. But according to Ayurveda, it is an essential part of understanding how to eat properly, just as discovering one’s constitution and state of imbalance is important for one’s Ayurvedic self-discovery. Careful food combining can dramatically improve the quality of digestion, support the body in receiving a deeper level of nourishment, and positively impact our overall health.

However, most people in the modern world are accustomed to eating a number of foods that do not usually digest well together (like fruit with nuts, or beans with cheese). So why does it matter? The Ayurvedic perspective is that each food has a distinct combination of tastes and energies—and a corresponding effect on both the digestive system and on the body as a whole. Combining foods with radically different energetics can overwhelm the digestive fire (agni) and can cause indigestion, fermentation, gas, bloating, and the creation of toxins.1 This is why proper food combining is so important. Of course, certain combinations disturb the digestive tract more than others—an important consideration if this practice is entirely new to you. Regardless of your particular habits or symptoms, paying attention to how you combine foods can provide a valuable opportunity for insight, healing, and improved health. Remember, food combining is not about imposing black and white rules. It is one among many powerful Ayurvedic tools for improving digestive health and overall wellness.

A Balanced Approach to Food Combining

It is usually best to embrace the idea of food combining slowly and gently, allowing plenty of time to make the necessary adaptations. Some of the recommended adjustments are relatively simple; others can require a major recalibration in our habits, or be met with resistance. Often, simply developing an awareness of the improper food combinations that you eat somewhat regularly is a great place to start. Notice which foods you combine that may be difficult to digest together, and how often you indulge in them. Become aware of how you feel afterward. Do these choices affect your energy level, your digestion, your elimination, the coating on your tongue? Are particular combinations more noticeably influential than others? These are all important pieces of information. They can confirm the importance of proper food combining and can help each of us to identify the food combinations that are the most disruptive to our systems.

When you are feeling motivated and decide that you are ready to start adapting your diet to accommodate more supportive food combinations, consider tackling just one change at a time. Perhaps you’ll start by eating fruits alone, rather than in combination with other foods. Over time, you can gradually progress toward the ideal. While it would certainly be nice to avoid improper food combinations altogether, reducing their frequency can also be incredibly beneficial. If you do find that some specific food combinations are more problematic for you or your loved ones than others, focus your efforts on changing just those in the beginning. The most important first step is to become aware of your needs and your habits; from there, you can evolve an approach to food combining that works for you.

Combinations to Reduce or Avoid

The following list highlights incompatible foods and offers suggestions for more appropriate combinations. It is meant to be a helpful guide, not an exhaustive list. In fact, you may be aware of other combinations that do not work for your body. Honor those instincts. Because this resource is meant to help you determine optimal combinations at a glance, there is some repetition. Combinations listed in all caps are particularly challenging.

Compatible and Incompatible Foods: A List

Yes, some of these are staple combinations in many households. Pizza and a number of other beloved Italian dishes combine nightshades with cheese. And who among us hasn’t enjoyed beans with cheese at some time or another? Then there’s the fruit and yogurt taboo… So much for about 80% of all available store-bought varieties of yogurt; next time you indulge in a fruit-flavored yogurt, pay attention to how your digestion feels afterwards.In addition, there are some specific preparations that are challenging when combined with particular foods.

Supportive Food Combinations in Ayurveda
All of these rules can feel overwhelming, even irritatingly complicated. But, the rationale behind proper food combining really does make sense. Ultimately, combining mismatched foods generates ama , a toxic substance that is often at the root of imbalance and disease.2 But, for those of you who would like to understand a little more about HOW and WHY these food combinations tax our bodies, here are a few specific examples:

Bananas and Milk

Though commonly eaten together, bananas and milk are challenging to digest together because their qualities are so different. Bananas are heating while milk is cooling. That alone is problematic. Further, bananas become sour as they break down. So now our digestive fire has to process a sour substance and milk at the same time. Ever added a squeeze of lemon to milk? Or maybe you’ve poured a little milk into a tangy, fruity tea… only to watch it curdle instantly? What happens to these mismatched foods in the digestive tract is not much different. When bananas and milk are eaten together, their opposing qualities tend to smother the digestive fire and can disrupt the balance of intestinal flora, which results in the creation of toxins. This combination also frequently causes congestion, colds, coughs, allergies, hives, and rashes.2 A similar situation arises when we combine any sour fruit with milk.3

Eating Fruits Alone

The reason fruits are best enjoyed on their own is that fruit is usually somewhat acidic, fairly simple to digest, and often digests quite quickly. When fruits are eaten with other foods, there is usually a significant discrepancy between the amount of time required to properly digest the fruit versus the more complex food. Inhibited by the more complex food, the fruit tends to move through the digestive tract too slowly and can cause fermentation, gas, and bloating. In addition, the combination typically introduces a number of conflicting qualities into the digestive tract all at once, which has the potential to overwhelm or stifle the digestive fire.

Nightshades and Cheese

This combination is simply too taxing for the digestive fire. A nightshade is a common name for a member of the plant family Solanaceae, which includes potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cayenne peppers, paprika, tobacco, henbane, belladonna, datura, and over 2,500 other plants. Nightshades contain alkaloids, primarily as a means of defense against being damaged by insects. The alkaloids can be anywhere from mildly to fatally toxic to humans. As a result, diverse cultures around the world have long held an intriguing relationship with the nightshade family. Some have been used to make poisons, some contain incredibly addictive compounds such as nicotine, some are mind altering, and others create an incredible sensation of heat in the mouth.4 The bottom line is that nightshades contain a complex array of compounds that, once ingested, lead to a potentially dramatic cascade of chemical reactions in the body. Ayurvedically speaking, all nightshades are believed to be somewhat difficult to digest and to have the capacity to disturb the doshas. When we mix these inherently challenging nightshades with cheese—which is heavy, oily, and also difficult to digest—we can quickly overtax the digestive fire.

Beans and Cheese

Beans and cheese are similar in that they both tend to be heavy and are often difficult to digest. In order to break down properly, they both require a good deal of digestive strength. But, the similarities end there. Beans tend to taste mostly astringent and sweet, can be either heating or cooling (depending on the type of bean), and usually have a pungent post-digestive effect. Cheese, on the other hand, tastes predominantly sour, is almost always heating, and usually has a sour post-digestive effect. The post-digestive effect of different foods occurs once that food has moved into the colon; it affects the urine, feces, sweat and tissues—sometimes even at the cellular level. Two foods with distinct post-digestive effects are typically quite different from one another. This is the case with beans and cheese; when they are eaten together, they tend to overwhelm and confuse the digestive fire. Meanwhile, their combined heaviness makes them even more difficult to process, often resulting in poor digestion and the accumulation of ama.

Ease Into It

Embracing the wisdom of food combining slowly helps us to cultivate a refined awareness around how our dietary choices affect us. This heightened sensitivity can be an invaluable asset, regardless of how quickly we are able to replace improper food combinations with more supportive ones. Be gentle with yourself, progressing at a pace that works for you. You might find it helpful, on occasion, to take a moment to reflect on how your digestion and your overall sense of wellness have changed over time. Proper food combining tends to awaken the body’s innate intelligence, so for most, embracing good food combining habits gets easier with time and practice.

Much of the information contained in this article came from Dr. Vasant and Usha Lad’s cookbook: Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. Our deepest gratitude to them both for sharing an enlightened understanding of how to eat Ayurvedically.

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The concept of agni, the Sanskrit word for “fire,” is rather essential to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda views agni as the very source of life. It is said that a man is as old as his agni and that when agni is extinguished, we die. Perhaps even more significantly, Ayurveda teaches us that impaired agni is at the root of every imbalance and disease. So the importance of agni in Ayurveda simply cannot be understated.

Thank you ~ Banyan Botanicals

The ‘Vedic Times’ Retreat in Paraty ~ Brazil

Join us near the costal ‘historical monument’ town of Paraty, Rio de Janeiro State ~ Brazil

The Eco-Village and the Hotel Dharma Shala are in the mountainous jungle on the coast of Rio.

The Eco-Village has:
Many waterfalls in the mountains, near gorgeous preserved beaches; vegetable gardens, cows, exotic tropical birds, wild bananas, tropical fruit trees, fresh ‘ahimsa milk’ and a beautiful temple.

The Retreat offers:
Vegetarian and Vegan organic meals
Daily hikes to different waterfalls
Chanting & Asana Yoga classes
Ayurvedic teachings
Vegetarian & Vegan Cooking classes
Kirtan (spiritual music sessions)
‘Cinema and the Psyche’ workshop

Massages, one to one therapy with the Ayurveda, Natural Medicine Doctors and Counselors, day or half-day visits to the historic town and preserved beaches nearby can be arranged but are not included.

We will also have music and other performances during a bonfire on the last night.

HOSTING AND GIVING SEMINARS

ARADHANA DEVI DASI: Chanting Yoga ~ Mantra Meditation
MATTHEW JOSEPH MORREALE: Cinema and the Psyche workshop.  ‘Cinema and the Psyche’ is an exploring into the nature of cinema, the psyche and how they interrelate.
KIRTAN: (spiritual music) bhajan leaders from Brazil

Ana Lucia Alves (Aradhana dd) and Matt Morreale

ROOMS ~ SEMINARS ~ PRICES
Seven Days and Six Nights

For Prices, Packages and the booking form to secure your place, please contact us.

Many beautiful and spacious rooms

Package prices include all seminars and workshops, its certificates and all meals. Not included: Flights and pickup /drop off at the Rio de Janeiro International Airport.  Pick-ups with our Van (12 persons) cost $60 each way.

The Science of ‘Chanting Yoga’

Is ‘Chanting Yoga’ a science?
Can we trace the origin of chanting?
Do we need to understand what we are chanting?
Can the power of sound alter cellular and molecular structure – the DNA encoding etc.?
I don’t know how to sing or chant, does it really matter?
How much it will cost me?

Facts about ‘Chanting Yoga’

  • Thoughts are silent sounds.
  • Chanting Reduces Anxiety and Depression by balancing the nervous system.
  • Traditional Yoga, Ayurveda, and Sanskrit sources have demonstrated millennia ago the multidimensional effects of chanting yoga.
  • We become Compassionate to all living beings.
  • The effects of chanting boosts the immune system and can be rationally explained.

Chanting and heart health

There are a number of different “sciences” behind chanting. Some of these are the “hard” sciences such as physics and psycho-acoustics. In order to sustain its findings, such sciences require a deep rational thinking, which is just a small aspect of the vast intelligence. In contrast, the Spiritual sciences such as the different yogic practices that work with sound, are evaluated with a much subtler aspect of the intelligence.  Much has being written about this since yoga in its various modalities has moved to the west.

Recently, many doctors and scientist are becoming interested in the Chanting yoga phenomena. The following are just a few of the all increasing health professionals convinced of their therapeutic effects:

Dr. Herbert Benson states that chanting helps induce a “relaxation” response which causes reduction in heartbeat, brain waves and respiration.

Dr. David Shananoff-Khalsa believes that mantric recitation enables the tongue to stimulate the acupuncture meridians inside the roof of the mouth.

Dr. Ranjie Singe found that the chanting of specific mantras caused the release of hormone melatonin, and is investigating the importance of this in the healing process. So far, he has found that there are many benefits including shrinkage of tumors and enhanced sleep.

Can we trace the origin of chanting?

I have found that virtually every culture and tradition includes chanting and singing in their spiritual and health practices. Recitation of prayers is found worldwide and has been with us since the dawn of humankind. We find this common pattern in Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic and many other cultures.  Whether it is a shamanic or pagan tradition, you will have some aspect of chanting that could be considered Sacred chanting in their rituals and prayers. Sometimes these chants are used to invoke Divine entities. Other times they are used for healing or to ask for some boon such as bringing rain. In my experience, chanting is most commonly used to bring the gross fulfillment of desires.

Do we need to understand what we are chanting?

Anyone who has cultivated the habit of chanting will realize that chanting gives a pleasure that transcends the senses and elevates one beyond the boundaries of time and space. Chanting delivers us from our sense of dependency on temporal enjoyments which are always fleeting and limited. Chanting will move one past this unfulfilling existence to one’s true nature and destination regardless of whether one knows the meaning of the chant or not. I once heard it said: “as music has charms to soothe a savage beast, so the spiritual sound of chanting soothes the restless mind.”

Can the power of sound alter cellular and molecular structure- the DNA encoding etc.?

A great deal of research has been done recently into the power of sound. As a result of this research, it was proven beyond a doubt that sound can alter molecular and cellular structure.

In the 1960’s, a medical doctor named Hans Jenny conducted experiments which showed that sound was able to actually create form in various substances such as sand, plastics, liquids, and water. He would place these substances on a steel plate and then using a crystal oscillator, vibrate these plates with sound. Quite astonishingly, the various substances took on the most organic looking shapes—they looked like microscopic organisms or underwater life. He called this work Cymatics.

A Japanese scientist, Masuru Emoto, demonstrated that water molecules are actually affected by sound and our intention. Intention concerns our thoughts and feelings.  Intention is the energy behind the sounds that we create. Mr. Emoto found that clean water looked like a snowflake, very geometric. Polluted water looks like mud. Mr. Emoto has taken photographs of polluted water, which at first look like mud. After a priest has chanted over this water, new photographs were taken again. This time, the water looks like a snowflake, the sound and intentionality has restored it to its natural harmonious shape.

The work of Fabian Maman, a French acupuncturist and sound healer, has taken Kirlian photographs of hemoglobin blood cells that were exposed to different sounds. In particular, he took photographs of blood cells exposed to an ascending chromatic scale created on a xylophone. Each note effected the cell differently, creating a different shape and different Kirlian color.

The information above represents a small sample of the work that has been done to demonstrate that cellular structure and energy are effected by sound.

 I don’t know how to sing or chant, does it really matter?

The good news is that one does not need to be a good singer or even know anything about music. Chanting is not about singing in the usual sense. It is not about memorizing complex lyrics. It works whether it is done alone or in a powerful group kirtan. It works whether it is done softly or in full voice, as long it is from the heart and with the belly. Although for enhanced effect, one can add eye-focus and a gentle hand mudra, and eventually you may wish to go to a singing classes, these simple steps can easily be included later. The key is to simply begin chanting.

How much it will cost me?

Here is more good news, chanting is absolutely free. All one need do is try and enjoy.  It won’t work if you don’t do it! All that is needed is some time and an open heart. The benefits of chanting cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can only be experienced through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the chanting.

Facts about chanting Yoga: “Thoughts are silent sounds”.

More and more people are aware that our thoughts reflect and affect our mood, our attitude and our general health. Our thoughts are silent sounds–a type of vibration. The more refined our thoughts, the more elevated our vibration.

The entire universe was built on sound (Word), which is nothing but vibration. By vibrating a certain combination of sounds, we tune in to different levels of our intelligence, specifically, consciousness. Thus, chanting mantras is a conscious method of controlling our moods, and in turn, our frequency and resultant all-around radiance, much like changing the channel on the television.

Chanting Reduces Anxiety and Depression by balancing the nervous system

By combining sound, breath and rhythm, Chanting Yoga channels the flow of energy through the mind-body circuit, adjusting the chemical composition of our internal states and regulating brain-hemisphere imbalances, contributing to a natural abatement of fear and despair–emotions that underlie both of these common afflictions. By balancing the nervous system, chanting regulates the chronic stress and tension that is the norm for many people in today’s hyper-stimulated lifestyle. By balancing the endocrine system, chanting normalizes hormone production, which balances our moods and overall sense of well-being.

Traditional Yoga, Ayurveda, and Sanskrit sources have demonstrated millennia ago the multidimensional effects of chanting:

During the practice of Chanting Yoga, the breathing (prana) cycle is altered to a greater or lesser extent depending upon the number of syllables and consonants of the particular mantra.  Through this process, one is able to influence the Subdoshas of Vata namely prana, udana, samana, vyana and apana. This in turn, will bring balance to oxygen-blood ratios, thereby improving the following: a) nutrients absorption; b) optimum function of organs of actions; c) general circulation including the blood flow, the lymphatic system and nerve impulses, and elimination via excretory organs.

Sound (akash), Breath (prana), and Matra (rhythm) combined with Dhyana (meditation) directs harmoniously the flow of energy (prana or Chi) through the (shrotas) body channels. This will adjust and balance Agni (metabolism) and homeostasis. As a result, the physiology known in Ayurveda as doshas (Vata), (Pitta) and (Kapha), the dhatus, and malas are functioning in harmony. Chanting helps one to deal with stressful factors and brings an overall sense of well-being and relaxation. This in turn, triggers a cascade of beneficial influences which aid our General Health (Swasta Vrita).

We become Compassionate to all living beings

Chanting transcendental mantras brings an understanding of ourselves as one and different from God (Sadhaka Pitta). It awakens our original nature and love within us. As George Harrison has said often in his Bhakti practice, this type of chanting is “a direct connection with God.” When our spiritual identity is awakened, we experience the unity and diversity of all life. Our capacity for compassion naturally grows, allowing our daily lives to be free of conditional mistakes such as blaming others, hate, jealousy, envy and pride. With the elimination of these negative concepts, all that remains is pure love.

The effects of chanting boost the immune system and can be rationally explained

Perhaps the key to rationally understand the power and effects of chanting on human physiology are the upper palate, the movement of the tip of the tongue and breath.

The Upper palate is at the base of the hypothalamus, which is the control center of the physical body. It regulates communication between the Doshas Vata and Pitta and its sub-doshas (the nervous system and the endocrine system). My own repetitive experience found that the hypothalamus controls the entire nervous system (Vata ).

The tongue taps certain points along the roof of the mouth, sending signals to the hypothalamus. These signals regulate the chemical activity streaming into all parts of the brain and body.

Breath adjusts all the rhythms of our body, such as the familiar circadian rhythms; but also the lesser known ultradian rhythms, which monitor the smaller-scale energy cycles that occur throughout the day. Due to our hectic life style our nervous systems are often overtaxed. These rhythms are thrown out of balance. However, through the art of chanting we begin to bring a state of balance. When breath and sound are working together, we realize the magnificence of Life and how God became sound. One will also realize also that words are only approaching the tip of even greater benefits!

Chanting and breath brings positive effects on the parasympathetic nervous system (the nervous system that tells us everything is ok). These effects are multiplied and the healing response is triggered, which translates into healing and stronger immunity.

Chanting and heart health

According to the Heart Math, chanting is known to promote general wellbeing, and it is great benefit for the cardiovascular system. One reason for this may be that singing demands a slower than normal respiration, which may in turn affect heart activity. Coupling of heart rate variability (HRV) to respiration is called Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). This coupling has a subjective, as well as a biologically soothing effect, and it is beneficial for cardiovascular function. RSA is seen to be more marked during slow-paced breathing and at lower respiration rates (0.1 Hz and below). In this study, we investigate how singing, which is a form of guided breathing, affects HRV and RSA.

Rhythm: Through repetition of the mantra, patterns of sound are inscribed onto the brain. The unconscious becomes the conscious. The automatic becomes the deliberate. The mindless becomes the heartfelt. The repetition frees us from our destination-fixation, that desire to rush to the end. The repetition is the whole point. Through repetition, the mantra washes over us, as the waves in the sea gradually get us wet.

Projection: When we chant from the navel point while articulating the mantra, we not only stimulate the upper palate, but we vibrate the central channel by which prana, or life force, flows. For millennia, yogis have referred to this as the shushumna.  This dual process is said to move us into the realm of anahat, or unconditional love.

So far everything looks great, but how long will it take to achieve this promises?

Everybody is unique, so how long it takes will depend the degree of dedication and determination over a period of months and years. Although we experience glimpses of the above mentioned benefits almost the same day, this taste will encourage us to go deeper into the chanting Yoga. In the guidelines below, you will be given an idea of what can be accomplished in a certain period of time. This will help you to set realistic goals.

Reprogramming our habits

“It takes 40 days to break a habit; 90 days to gain the new habit;

120 days and you are the new habit; 1,000 days and you are Master of it.”

Chanting from minutes to hours will bring the following benefits:

3 minutes affects the electromagnetic field, the circulation and stability of the blood.

7 minutes begins to shift brain patterns, and the magnetic field surrounding the body increases in strength.

11 minutes begins to change the nervous and glandular systems.

22 minutes sees the three minds (i.e., the negative, positive and neutral minds) come into balance and begin to work together; the subconscious mind begins to clear.

31 minutes allows the glands, breath, and concentration to affect all the cells and rhythms of the body. Endocrine secretions are completely balanced as is the ethereal energy of the chakra (junction points of physical and spiritual centers).

62 minutes changes the gray matter in the brain. It stimulates the frontal lobe of the brain, as well as the pituitary and pineal glands. You work through the physical body, the emotions and mental states, stimulating higher, more subtle aspects of the self. The subconscious “shadow mind” and its psychological projections become integrated.

2 1/2 hours changes the psyche in its co-relation with the surrounding magnetic field so that the subconscious mind is held firmly in the new pattern by the surrounding field. You totally remake your psyche. These changes persist throughout the day and are reflected by positive changes in mood and behavior.

Author:
Alfredo Llorente Marcos
(Chaitanya Swarup das)
Ayurveda & Meditation Therapy

An Introduction to Achintya-Bheda-Abheda Tattva

The philosophy of Acintya Bhedabeda Tattva embodies the quintessence of all systems of Indian philosophy. Indian philosophy, embodied in the Vedic literatures, is over 5000 years old and inspired the birth of the two great Eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. It has also greatly influenced the western world, particularly over the last 200 years. Most systems of Indian philosophy propound the view that the universe is fundamentally one, part of and pervaded by the Supreme Being, from whom it has emanated. As such, they maintain that the universe is not the outcome of blind chance, but that it is the result of intelligent design and that it has meaning and purpose. Furthermore, according to most systems of Indian philosophy the material universe, in which we live, is only part of an infinite and spiritual universe. Both the material and spiritual universe are considered energies of God, the Supreme Spiritual Being. The spiritual universe is defined as God’s internal energy, and the material universe His external energy. All living beings in the material world are essentially spiritual, and part of His internal energy. Finally, according to most systems of Indian philosophy, God is defined as a transcendental Person, endowed with consciousness, attributes and form, and who stands at the center and source of his infinite energies and emanations.

At the cornerstone of this world view is the notion that God, and the universe emanating from Him, are essentially one and different. He is one, in that He is the origin of, and pervades all beings, and He is different, in that His energies have their own independent existence and identity. This independent existence and individual identity accounts for the world of many-ness and variegatedness.. The problem is, that the principles of oneness and many-ness contain a logical paradox, and appear to be mutually exclusive. On the bases of logic it is indeed hard to reconcile how one entity can be one and many at the same time. Within the different schools of Indian thought, philosophers and mystics have attempted to resolve this paradox by emphasizing one principle over the other, thereby reducing e.g. many-ness to a by product of oneness. Some schools of thought, taking a more extreme position, have even postulated that only oneness is real, and that the many-ness constitutes an illusion. Throughout the history of Indian philosophy this theme, and its implicit paradox, has been at the center of philosophical discussions.

Thereby the oneness and many-ness principles do not just confine themselves to the relationship between God and His creation. The principle extends to virtually all areas of philosophy and science, such as the relation between matter and consciousness, between qualities and substance, between particles and fields, between energy and matter, and the personal and the impersonal. Interestingly, therefore, it appears that the principle of oneness and many-ness, with its inherent paradox, extends to all areas of reality.

Within the history of western philosophy we also find the constant recurrence of the oneness versus many-ness theme, resulting in different schools of opposing thought. Thereby the parallels between Indian and western thinking are striking. Most notable is e.g. the discussion and debates that have flourished on the issue of realism and idealism, or the relation between matter and consciousness, during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe.

The great 16th century Indian philosopher and mystic Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu formulated a new principle, shedding light on the paradox, and making explicit what was already acknowledged implicitly by many great Indian thinkers. Caitanya stated that the principles of oneness and difference are inherently inseparable, that they always exist simultaneously, and that their simultaneous existence lies at the core of all metaphysics. He furthermore stated that the simultaneous existence of oneness and many-ness is called Acintya in Sanskrit, which means “inconceivable”. Inconceivability implies that this aspect of reality is inconceivable to the human and finite mind, and transcends the principles of logic. The philosophy of Caitanya has been formulated in Sanskrit as “Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva”. Acintya means inconceivable, Bhedabheda means simultaneous oneness and many-ness, and Tattva means principle or truth.

The problem is, of course, that if we abandon and ignore the principles of logic, then we may be forced to accept any irrational worldview, and loose our ability to analyze and verify scientific and philosophical theories. For logic lies at the core of all philosophy and science. The principle of Caitanya however, makes a noticeable difference, in that Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva should not be considered ‘illogical’, but rather it should be considered ‘supralogical’. The difference is that while a supralogical principle may appear to defy the laws of logic, the principle itself can be perceived and verified by means of direct perception, and has an empirical foundation. As such the principle of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva can be observed in many phenomenon and occurrences in this world.

A good example is the perception of a red rose. As mentioned before, the discussion on one-ness versus many-ness has extended itself to all aspects of philosophy and science. In the western tradition, two schools of thought emerged on the issue of the relation between substance and its qualities. One school, called the realists, founded by the Greek philosopher Plato, stated that qualities and substance are in fact two different realities. E.g. Plato postulated that there is such a thing as universal ‘redness’, that becomes superimposed along with other universal qualities, on a particular material substance, thereby creating a red rose. Plato therefore viewed qualities and substance as being different. Many centuries later another school of thought emerged, called the nominalists, that disagreed with Plato, and postulated that a quality can never be separated from its substance, and that quality and substance are in fact one and the same. This discussion is a very good example of the paradox inherent in the relation between a substance and its qualities. The fact is, that they are simultaneously one and different, and that while this may transcend, or defy, the laws of logic, our perception of the red rose confirms the principle.

Another example is the spatial perception of an object, say a coin. While the coin is one, it has many sides, an inside as well as an outside, an upside and down side. These different sides establish an element of many-ness within the object, that is simultaneously perceived as one object.

In modern physics the relation between particles and fields has been a subject of many discussions. Scientists have observed that a field, or wave, sometimes behaves like a continuum of energy (oneness), and other times behaves like a stream of finite particles (many-ness). The phenomena has in fact been named “wavicles” clearly establishing the simultaneous oneness and many-ness of these manifestations of energy. The discussion reflects the underlying principle of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva. Following this theme, modern physics leans towards a worldview whereby the universe is seen as a unified field of energy, from which finite particles, in the shape of matter, emerge as a continuous process of creation. These finite particles can at any time revert back to their non-finite energetic state, which paints a picture of oneness (the field) and many-ness (particles) continually interchanging, and in fact simultaneously coexisting.

There are in fact many more examples that could be adduced to illustrate the principle of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva, and that confirm the principle by means of direct perception. As such the principle is not illogical, but should be defined as ‘supra-logical’, transcending the limitations of the finite human mind.

Ultimately the philosophy of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva explains the relationship between God and His creation, and more specifically, it also explains the relationship between God and living entities, such as ourselves. The philosophy of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva states that this relationship too, is characterized by simultaneous oneness and difference. We are one with God in a qualitative sense, however we are different quantitatively. In quantity God is infinite and we are finite. It is therefore a mistake to assume, as some Indian schools of thought have advocated, that man is identical to God, and fundamentally one with Him in every respect. We are not God, merely small parts of God, with a limited degree of independence.

Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva also sheds light on the identity of God Himself. It maintains that while God is a transcendental Person, he is simultaneously impersonal as well. The relationship between the personal and impersonal too has been the subject of many philosophical arguments. While consciousness and form represent the personal aspect of God, infinity and all-pervasiveness represent the impersonal aspect, which attributes appear contradictory. Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva maintains that they both exist simultaneously, and that they complement each other. God is simultaneously full of form and formless, finite and infinite, personal and impersonal.

The philosophy of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva, as expounded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, therefore represents a revolutionary new paradigm in our ability to understand reality, and it in fact resolves many of the apparently irresolvable paradoxes that have dominated philosophy and metaphysics in the east and the west for thousands of years.