Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hatha Yoga, Cosmology and Consciousness

Tanumânasî Meditación en postura del Loto (Pad...Image via Wikipedia In the process of overcoming my disabilities, I have been feeling a greater connection to the universe as I literally become more conscious of my body and the world around me. 

This feeling of connectedness from the micro world, through the macro world, through the greater cosmos is very interesting and I am finding that a lot of people are grappling with it these days from a multitude of perspectives:  scientific, historical, social, biological, physics-based, ecological, spiritual and religious.  There is a lot of research going on linking neuroscience to meditation and the cosmos.  Not too long ago, I saw an exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art contrasting Tibetan cosmology with early Christian cosmology (before Descartes came along and split the mind from the body).   So, I have gotten quite attuned to looking out for how different peoples have understood their place in the universe. 

My eyes have literally begun to see many things around me that were not evident.  As I see knew things around me and begin to form relationships with them I begin to start to ask the age old questions of "Why I am here on this universe?"  "What place do these things around me have in my mental world?"  





Also, I have been doing some yoga on and off.  Originally, I started it as a physical exercise.  But, I have come to understand it in a much wider framework:
 

 "Hatha yoga…[to be] commonly misunderstood and misrepresented as being simply a physical culture, divorced from spiritual goals…Asanas are not just physical exercises: they have biochemical, psycho-physiological and psycho-spiritual effects.”"Yoga Hindu Origins | Hindu American Foundation (HAF):
What a lot of people don't realize is that yoga is part of the Hindu cosmology and a way for people to connect from the soul to the greater universe.  Each chakra is a a specific energy source that connects people to energy both within the soul and without in the universe. Chakras are related to colors and emotions:
 The following books have different ways of balancing the chakras for healing and relating them back to the chakras above.
Wheels of Life & Chakra Balancing
by Anodea Judith
Healing Yoga
by Swami Ambikananda Saraswati
The Spiritual Science of Yoga
by Goswami Kriyananda
First Chakra (Muladhara)
Salabhasana (locust), janu sirsasana (head to knee), supta padangustasana (hand to foot). Movements such as stamping the feet and jumping to stimulate and release energy. Eating less and eating lighter  foods to reduce excess energy.
Kandasana (root), upavista konasana (wide angle forward bend), parsvakonasana (extended side angle), ekapadasana (one-foot, or warrior 3).
Paschimottanasa
(seated forward bend), bhujanasana (cobra), virasana (hero), uttanatavasana (leg lifts). Affirmation: I will do what won’t have to be undone.
Second Chakra
(Svadisthana)
Supta badha konasana ((bound cobbler), pelvic tilts, standing hip circles, leg lifts. Adequate intake of water. Biking, walking, sexual activity. Taking time to tune into your own emotional realm.
Ardha chandrasana (half moon), padmasana (lotus), setu bandhasana (bridge), prasarita padottanasana (wide legged standing forward bend) among other poses.
Kapotasana (pigeon), trikonasana (triangle), garudasana (eagle), dhanurasana (bow), setu bandhasana (bridge), salabhasana (locust). Affirmation: I will look to a philosophy that increases the “do’s” and decreases the “don’t’s.”
Third Chakra (Manipura)
Phalakasana (plank), stomach crunches, belly rolls. To increase fire: risk-taking, eating hot foods, avoiding iced drinks. To decrease fire: limiting spicy foods and caffeine, taking time to relax and meditate.
To enhance the third chakra, abdominal-strengthening poses: surya namaskar (sun salutations), navasana (boat), virabhadrasana (warrior I, II & III), twists. To cool the chakra: restorative, passive backbends.
Kukkutasana (cock balance), viparitakarani (reverse, or legs up the wall), chakrasana (wheel), navasana
(boat).
Affirmation: If I wish my consciousness to grow, I must feed it, rest it, exercise it.
Fourth Chakra (Anahata)
Standing yoga mudra, matsyasana (fish), bhujangasana (cobra), alternate nostril breathing. Emotional practice--release grief through crying, talking. Express gratitude and forgiveness.
Bhujangasana (cobra), ustrasana (camel), gomukhasana (cow face), vasisthasana (side plank), parivritta janu sirsasana (rotating head to knee), halasana (plough), supported savasana (corpse).
Child’s pose, jathara parivartanasana (prone spinal twist), parsvottanasana (head to knee side stretch). Affirmation: Anything that is truly mine can never be taken from me.
Fifth Chakra (Vishuddha)
Neck rolls, sarvangasana (shoulderstand), karnapidasana (knee pressing ear pose), halasana (plough).
Chanting, mantra repetition, listening to music, writing as self-expression, prayer.
Urdhva bhujangasana (raised cobra), vajrasana (thunderbolt), sirsasana (headstand), sarvangasana (shoulderstand), matsyasana (fish), vrksasana (tree), trikonasana (triangle), maya bandha (the great lock).
Sarvangasana (shoulderstand),ardha matsyendrasana (half spinal twist), setu bandhasana (bridge), karnapidasana (knee pressing ear). Affirmation: Self-expression makes for self-preservation.
Sixth Chakra
(Ajna)
Yogic eye exercises,
meditating upon a color, creating beauty in the environment, keeping a dream journal.
Not addressed.
Siddhasana (perfect pose), gomukhasana (cow face), padmasana (lotus), vajrasana (Zen), sirsasana (headstand).
Affirmation: The moon shines by the light of the sun.
Seventh Chakra
(Sahasrara)
Padmasana (lotus), sirsasana (headstand).
Yogic eye exercises, meditating upon a color.
Not addressed.
Same asanas as those for the sixth chakra. Affirmation: An optimistic atmosphere helps take the place of sunshine in the winter months.
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