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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 (stress, 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.

Please read our other articles regarding our practices and sign up for our next fabulous GY Retreat here and see you soon!

WHAT IS KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS?

By Ananta Sesa Dasa

The Vedic Times organisation follows the principles of Vaishanavism. Many supporters of the VTO are well versed in Krishna Consciousness; however, since the VTO welcomes every spiritual seeker, it seems appropriate to take a bit of time to discuss the history and philosophy of the movement.

History
Krishna Consciousness is our original spiritual understanding, which means that its history is actually as old as the universe. However, we will start the history a little more recently.

The Vedic culture (Veda means sacred knowledge) began in India over 5000 years ago. This culture is so named because of it’s spiritual and ritualistic adherence to the Vedas. The four Vedas (Rg-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, and Yajur-veda) were delivered to the people of India by Vyasadeva in order to make this most ancient wisdom available to all. The Vedas are very technical and difficult for the common person to understand, so other writings were brought into being as a way of bringing wisdom and truth to the less intelligent of society. These works were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Contained within the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad-Gita, considered by many to be the Bible of the Hindus, but of course, it is really the Bible of humanity.

The Bhagavad-Gita tells the story of a conversation held between the great warrior, Arjuna, and Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Taking the role of guru, or spiritual coach, Krishna carefully guides Arjuna towards spiritual awakening and full knowledge. This text is left as humanity’s instruction manual. Its teachings are simple and to the point, but sadly, human ego drove some to abandon the true message of Krishna Consciousness, and instead to manipulate it to serve their own sense gratification for power and wealth.

Because of this corruption, Lord Krishna entered the world. This time, he appeared as a devotee of Krishna called Lord Caitanya (1486-1534). Caitanya fought against the corruption caused by ego and initiated a spiritual awakening through the sankirtan movement. The sankirtan movement, which is the chanting of the holy names, is the simplest method of reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness.

The teachings of Lord Caitanya have been passed down from guru to initiate for the last 500 years, which brings us to the founder of Krishna Consciousness in the West, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977). Shortly before his death in 1933, Prabhupada’s teacher, Bhaktisiddhanta Swami, instructed him to bring this ancient knowledge to the West. Prabhupada was finally able to make this a reality in 1965.

Swami Prabhupada arrived in New York in the fall of 1965 virtually penniless, but he was able to set up a small store front temple at the former Matchless Gifts giftshop on 2nd Street. From there he began to chant, give teachings from the Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other important scriptures. Very slowly people started to notice, listen, and begin to follow the teachings from this spiritual coach. As the 60s moved on, and with the help of some prominent figures such as Allen Ginsberg and George Harrison, the movement grew in popularity and attracted many followers. (It attracted our own Gurudas in 1967).

During the final years of his life, Prabhupada travelled around the world 14 times and wrote over 50 books. He worked tirelessly to make Krishna Consciousness the world-wide movement that it is today.


Philosophy

The basic philosophy of Krishna Consciousness begins with the idea that we are not the physical bodies that we believe we are. Material conditioning has made us accept many falsehoods. Instead, we are spirit soul, which is part and parcel of Krishna.

In the beginning, humans existed in their original constitutional position, as the appendages of God. There was no sense of ego or desire to become anything more. We simply served the Lord and fulfilled His Divine Will. However, as time went on, a false ego developed within humans. This ego insisted that mankind was not just an appendage of God, but rather was its own person. With that mentality, desire for sense gratification developed and grew.

The created world had so many allurements, beauty, sex, wealth, power, entertainments, and so forth, that humanity forgot its true nature. As a result, we spent our time seeking these allurements and trying to find happiness within them. Of course, this is impossible. Any happiness found in this world is temporary, and when it is gone, it leaves a gap that brings misery. Suffering is the common state of existence for one who has forgotten one’s true nature.

True happiness can only be found in the eternal, which means letting go of all our temporary attachments and surrendering to Krishna. By doing so, we may return to our original constitutional positions as servitors of the Lord and find genuine happiness through that service. But how do we do this?

Lord Caitanya taught that the easiest method for reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness, our love of Krishna and understanding of our true self, was through the chanting of the Holy Names of God. Within the Vedic traditions, the name of God, the image of God, or anything else associated with God is identical to God. So, when we chant the names of God, we are bringing Him into our presence.


The greatest desire of humanity is to see and know God. “I really want to see you Lord,” George Harrison sang in My Sweet Lord. There is a great deal of doubt and skepticism in this world about the existence of God, even from so-called believers. Like Doubting Thomas, they want proof, but it seems no proof is forthcoming. Another line from Harrison; however, says “it won’t take long my Lord”. This is acknowledgement that if one begins the process of chanting the Holy Names that one will quickly experience God and have the proof that is desired. One will soon be in the presence of God.

The Maha-Mantra
The chanting that Lord Caitanya spoke of is called the Maha-Mantra (the Great Mantra). It is comprised of three of the names of God: Hare, Krishna, and Rama.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Hare is the spiritual energy of God, and also represents the feminine aspect of the divine as Radha. Krishna, a name that implies universal attraction, is the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Rama, who entered the world in human form, is the supreme enjoyer. It is through Him that we find true happiness. (Readers from a Christian background may find a strong similarity to the Trinity. Krishna would equate to God the Father, Rama to God the Son, and Hare as the Holy Spirit.)

Lord Caitanya taught that a devotee of Krishna should chant this mantra on a string of japa beads (similar to a rosary). The string contains 108 beads, and one chants the mantra once on each bead. After 108 times, one round of japa is completed. Caitanya advised that one should chant 64 rounds each day. In this way, the mind would constantly be focused upon Krishna to the exclusion of everything else. Recent spiritual guides, such as Srila Prabhupada, have lessened the number to 16 rounds per day due to the pressures and duties of modern life.

The key point is to ensure that one is constantly thinking of Krishna. The process of Bhakti-yoga requires that one offer devotional service to the Lord with love. So, one’s actions should be directed toward the service of the Lord and one should always be thinking of the Lord. In this way, one will remember and regain one’s original position as servitor of the Lord, and not be bothered by suffering from the illusions of the material world.

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.