Yoga + YBR: Digestion, Breath, Health and Well-being
As I finish up the first half of the IAYT Yoga therapy training with Paramanand Institute of Science and Research I am struck yet again by the holistic wisdom of Hatha Yoga. For example, in Sanskrit the word Āhāra means food. The concept of Āhāra is not limited to physical food that you chew, swallow and ingest with your physical body. Āhāra also incorporates the type of ´food´you are ingesting into your mind. An example of this might be the media you consume, the kind of conversations you involve yourself in and the dialogue you carry around in your own head.
Yoga has always taught that stress directly affects the ability to assimilate nourishment from food (Āhāra). The ability to assimilate nourishment directly affects energy levels (prana), hormone production and impacts overall health and wellbeing. From a Yogic perspective it is no surprise that modern science now confirms that the most common root of physical and psychological disease is stress.
Physical ´Food´ Effects (sthūlam Āhāra)
It is no mystery that the modern western diet is not very conducive to digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. An excess of sugar, preservatives, chemicals and hormones used during production and in the ingredients themselves have created all sorts of havoc within the gastrointestinal tract.
Furthermore, the sedentary lifestyle of sitting 8 hours or more in front of a screen only exacerbates the situation. Digestion and assimilation of food needs movement and deep breathing to move nutrients through our system. Poor posture and shallow breathing results not only in back, neck and shoulder pain, but also digestive issues like constipation and IBS as well low energy levels, poor immune functioning, mood swings, anxiety, depression, brain fog and exacerbates uncomfortable menstrual and menopausal symptoms.
Psychological ´Food´ Effects (Sukshma Āhāra)
Years ago modern psychology began to observe how the information we take in from our environment (media, social relationships, work) affects the production of stress hormones and directly affects our capacity to think and process information. Placing ourselves within environments of elevated stress or reduced movement directly correlates with increased levels of cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline. It actives the fight/flight response and consequently reduces the activity of the digestive system as it redirects blood flow from the center of the body to the extremities. This is a very intelligent design when used wisely as it enables you to react quickly with your arms and legs to either fight or run away from a perceived threat.
Unfortunately, due to modern day habits and environment – especially during the current COVID -19 pandemic – the majority of modern day humans exist in a continuous low hum of fight or flight stress response. This increase in stress results in poor digestion, low energy levels, poorer functioning of the immune system as well as increased inflammation throughout the entire mind-body complex. This increase in inflammation causes a deregulation in nervous system functioning and according to researchers like Stephen Porges of the PolyVagal Theory, may even be the cause behind the severe increase in depression and anxiety we are observing in the western world.
Yoga + Yamuna Body Rolling: All systems go!
Fortunately there have been very effective systems developed to help rejuvenate
the respiratory and gastrointestinal system without the need for pills or surgery. The ancient science of Yoga has always focused on physical posture and breath as a way to help assimilate and move nutrients through the body. Every single Yoga posture, when correctly executed and aligned, works in one way or another with the respiratory and digestive system. It encourages deeper breathing and works with various physical forms to ensure that whatever might have gotten stuck gets released. At the same time it works as a system of prevention by relaxing the nervous system and toning the digestive tract.
Yamuna Body Rolling:
Yamuna Zake in her wisdom as a Yoga teacher realized that many of her students could not completely execute the various Yoga postures that were asked of them. Therefore through her work of Yamuna Body Rolling (YBR) she provided a way for pressure, breath and traction to provide similar benefits to the Yoga Asana (posture). The YBR work is deep and very effective and when it is combined with Yoga Asana it cements in the body and mind a new experience of space, alignment and breath. Many students who might not have been able to access a Yoga pose before, after one session of YBR are able to execute and understand from experience the integrated power of the yoga posture form.
Healing from the Inside Out
Our breath and digestive tract affects every part of our health. Blockages and weaknesses in these areas can cause back problems that manifest as discomfort throughout the entire spine and internal organ system. Opening and releasing this area of the body can alleviate and correct problems of scoliosis, low back pain, aches and pains of menstruation and menopause, digestion, incontinence and fertility, as well as lower levels of anxiety, depression, stress and increase lung capacity.
After a year of lockdowns and the consequential stressful wear and tear upon the body and mind, treat yourself to more energy, more clarity and an overall greater sense of well being by participating in the the two part series of the ONLINE Karmuka Yoga internal organ and breath workshop. Learn to use pressure and traction with Yamuna Body Rolling combined with supported Yoga postures to open, release and align the entire skeletal, respiratory and gastrointestinal system and heal from the inside out.
Students can choose to do one or both of the workshops with the option of gaining access to the recordings of the workshops so they to continue the transformative practice of Yoga +YBR anywhere at anytime.