Sunday 25 March 2007

A Yogi's Guide to Strengthening the Immune System

A Yogi's Guide to Strengthening the Immune System

How to incorporate in your practice a sequence of immunity toward infections as well as a deepening of ease in your body and peace in your mind.

Since most of us are happiest when we are feeling healthy and free of "dis-ease" yoga has in its time-honored tradition incorporated several practices to maintain our health and strengthen us when we feel ill-at ease.

Important to this sequence is prana or vital/cosmic healing energy that calms and purifies the nervous system. Pranayama or regulation of breath improves resistance to infectious diseases and increases vitality.

Three practices include: Deergha Swaasam a deep three part breath which utilizes the full capacity of the lungs. Kapaalabhati a kriya cleansing practice and Nadi Suddhi alternate nostril breathing practice which balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Surya Namaskaaram, sun salutations serve as a general tonic for the entire system. They warm and limber the body and move the lymph.

The lymphatic system is the body's network of vessels and nodes that circulates lymph—a transparent fluid rich in white blood cells that forms an important part of the body's immune system and helps remove toxins. The system pumps fluid through the body several times a minute, with assistance from the muscles. "When the lymphatic system operates at its optimum, it's like a free-flowing river, running with no rocks or diversions.

Bhujangaasana cobra pose releases nervous energy up and down the spinal column and makes inner adjustments in the vertebrae.

Arddha Salabaasana half locust promotes elasticity of the lungs and tones abdominal and reproductive organs.

Dhanuraasana the bow removes stiffness in the shoulder joints and gives great strength to the hip flexors and large muscles of the abdomen.

Janusirsaasana head to knee pose calms the nervous system.

Paschimotanaasana forward bending pose tones abdominal organs and improves digestion.

Bhakaasana the crow, Bhada Konaasana and Upavistha Konaasana all stimulate liver and kidney function.

Arddha Matsyendraasana half spinal twist squeezes toxins from the intestines and releases pain and stiffness in the hip joint.

Inversions especially stimulate the body's healing mechanism activating the endocrine system. They include shoulderstand, forearm, head and handstand. Sarvangaasana, shoulderstand drains blood from the digestive organs and rests the heart. It centralizes and nourishes blood in the spinal column.

Matsyaasana the fish pose massages the thyroid and throat and promotes hormonal balance.

Savaasana the corpse pose allows the muscles to relax and the energy to flow freely and is important to incorporate at the end of any practice no longer how brief.

Finally an integrated practice doesn't stop here because meditation also reduces the incidence of infectious ailments by de-stressing the body and mind. Ample research has shown that just 20 minutes of meditation a day increases endorphins, decreases cortisol levels and promotes positive states of mind. An integrated practice continues in the movement of the practice into our lives. A little practice before work, extra practice on the weekends, take a retreat or a workshop here and there, add an element of service and kindness to your daily life and voila a whole and healthy being.

Taking it to the next level


To live a peaceful and productive life you need a calm, clear, one-pointed and joyful mind. The practice of asana is an important step toward cultivating a calm and clear mind, in fact it is a prerequisite to meditation. Practicing asana to the exclusivity of meditation however, will not help you create any transformation in your mind, or help you deepen your asana practice. Yoga is not merely an athletic system, it is a scientific and spiritual system as well. The asanas are designed to affect the subtle body and mind for the purpose of spiritual transformation. Students enter the practice of yoga asana for physical fitness or health, or even because they have heard it is good for relaxation, but ultimately the purpose of yoga practice is spiritual development.

Real transformation means that you are healthy not only in body, but also in mind, and in the end what good is any practice if it doesn't have a positive effect on our relationships with ourselves and others? Through meditation we come to know the body, breath, mind, thought patterns and deeper levels of awareness. When you know who you are and what you are made of, you begin to understand the dynamic forces that govern your thought processes. A clear understanding of yourself allows you to see the world as it is, your judgements and preoccupations fall away. Further, this self-understanding frees you from the opinions and judgements of others; inspiring self-reliance and confidence. As this self-understanding crystallizes further, you attain freedom from all doubts and fears. This freedom is the ultimate goal in meditation.

Does meditation mean simply focusing your mind on something?

Meditation is a more methodical and complete mental and spiritual discipline than we normally imagine. Patanjali, the father of yoga science and philosophy, devotes the Yoga Sutras to meditation. When you read the Sutras you realize that the practice of meditation involves more than simply concentrating on an object, it is also a complete science of understanding the mind and its relationship with the body, breath and soul on one hand, and our relationship with the external world on the other. Respiration is a good point to begin this journey. Breath is a tool with which to explore the truth about yourself because the nature of your breath is strongly connected to your mental state. As soon as any distraction moves the mind to the past or future, the breath becomes irregular, one starts breathing a little rapidly, heavily or perhaps the breath is even held. When the distraction passes away and one returns to the present , the breath becomes soft. By keeping the mind on a present reality, the breath, you are guided to remain in the present moment. The mind will always wander away, but if you patiently and without any tension accept the fact that it is an old habit pattern and you realize the mind has wandered, it will naturally and automatically return to respiration, to the present. This is just the beginning of the transformative power of sitting meditation.



Un mantra est une subtile vibration du son, qui a été revelée aux anciens sages, à du moment très profond de la méditation. Ces syllabes de son sont habituellement chantées au debut d'une séance de yoga. Elles créent dans le corps et l'ésprit de chaque étudiant une vibration pacifique ainsi qu'une sensation intérieure de bien être. Cela donne lieu a une athmosphère et méditative durant la séance entière. On recommande de garder la neutralité de son propre ésprit pendant le chant, à fin de sentir la puissance de la vibration intérieure avec le son éternel.

Parmi les sons les plus connus :
Hari Om
Om Nama Shivaaya
Om Shanti

Ils réveillent une vibration puissante dans le système, et ils contribuent a purifier l'ésprit. En prononçant "ha", une énergie surgit du plexus solaire. Le son "ri" roule doucement en remontant tout au long de la gorge. Avec "om" l'energie remonte pour sortir de la tête.

Chants de paix.
Les chants de paix nous rappellent nos propres aspirations, et ils nous aident à évoquer des bonnes intentions a l'égard de tous les êtres.

Asato Maa Sat Gamaya              Conduis nous de l'irréel au réel.
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya       Conduis nous de l'obscurité à la lumière.
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya   Conduis nous de la peur de la mort jusqu'a la connaissance de    l'immortalité.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti            Om Paix, Paix, Paix.

Lokaa Samastaa Sukino Bhavantu
Puisse l'univers entier être rempli de paix, de joie, d'amour et de lumière.

Jai Sri Satguru Maharaj Ki Jai           Puisse la lumière de la verité triompher sur l'obscurité. 

OM Namah Shivaaya Gurave          Salutations au Guru qui est verité, connaissance et joie. Celui qui     Satchidananda Moortave
Nishprapanjanya                                                           est au dela des monds, indépendent et radieux.
Niralambaaya Tejase



A mantra is a subtle sound vibration which has been revealed to ancient sages at the deepest level of meditation.  These syllables of sound are traditionally chanted at the beginning of a yoga class to create a peaceful vibration and an inner feeling of well-being in the body and mind of each student.  This results in a harmonious and meditative atmposphere for the entire class.  It is recommended that the mind be held withdrawn during the chanting so as to allow the inner vibration to be experienced along with the eternal sound.

Most common of these eternal sounds include:

Hari Om

Om Nama Shivaaya

Om Shanti

They awaken a powerful vibration in the system and help to purify the mind.  With the pronunciation of 'ha', energy rises from the solar plexus.  With 'ri' the sound rolls gently upward through the throat.  With'om', energy rises higher to the crown of the head and beyond.

Peace Chants

The peace chants remind us of our own higher aspirations and help us to evoke an attitude of goodwill toward all beings:

Asato Maa Sat Gamaya                                   Lead us from the unreal to real
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya                            Lead us from darkness to the light
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya                       Lead us from fear of death, to knowledge of immortality
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti                               Om Peace, Peace Peace

Lokaa Samastaa Sukino Bhvantu       May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy
                                                            Love and light
Jai Sri Satguru Maharaj Ki                  May the light of truth overcome all darkness
Jai                                                       Victory to that light

Opening Invocation
Om Namah Shivaaya Gurave          Salutations to the guru who is truth, 
Satchidananda  Moortaye                 Knowledge and bliss.
Nishprapanjaya Shaantayah             Who is beyond the worlds
Niralambaya Tejase                          Peaceful, independent and radiant 



Mantras pour Paix

Sarvesham svastir bhavatu
Sarvesham shantir bhavatu
Sarvesham purnam bhavatu
Sarvesham mangalam bhavatu

Que le bonheur soit parmi vous
Que la paix soit parmi vous
Que la plénitude soit en vous
Que la prospérité soit parmi vous

Sarve bhavantu sukinaha
Sarve santu niramayah
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu
Maā kaschid dukha bhagbave

Puissiez vous tous être heureux
Puissiez vous être en bonne santé
Puissiez vous recevoir tout ce qui est bon
Puissiez vous ne pas avoir de peine

To unite with Source

Om united with the source
On which we yogis ever dwell
Grants desires and liberation
Salutations to the Om Karaam

Om Karaam bindu samyuktam
Nityaam dhyayanthi yoginah
Kamadaam mokshadam chaiva
Om karaya namoh namaha

The Gayatri Mantra
The Gayatri Mantra is one of the oldest prayers known to humanity dating back to 5000 years and passed down from teacher to student. It is as ancient as light and also the vital force itself. This prayer appeals to the highest wisdom; to the brilliance of the cosmos to illumine our true nature. The appeal requests us to be subtle and receptive to divine wisdom that pervades life and is the essence of our very Self.
Om Bhur, Bhurvah Svah, Tat Savitur,
Varenyam, Bhargo, Devasya,
Dhimahi Dhiyo Yonah, Prachodayat

Traduction : Je médite sur la lumière du Divin, rayonnante et fort vénérable, d'où jaillissent les trois mondes (bhuh, bhuvah et svah). Que la lumière Divine illumine et guide mon intelligence.
Traditionnellement ce mantra se dénomme 'La Mère des Védas'. La pratique de ce mantra a permis aux sages de recevoir la révélation de tous les autres mantras, parce que ce mantra calme les bruits mentaux, enlève les impuretés karmiques, purifie l'ego, affine l'intellect et illumine l'être intérieur avec la lumière qui coule directement de la Source. Ce mantra nous relie à notre maître intérieur et nous aide à recevoir des conseils et une inspirations intérieurs. Nous ne remarquerons peut-être pas de transformation instantanée mais l'effet de ce mantra est considérable et éternel. Le processus de purification provenant de cette pratique débute au plus profond de l'inconscient et se propage progressivement à travers tous les aspects de notre personnalité. Nous nous sentons revivre et entièrement transformés.