Category Archives: viniyoga of Yoga

Back Pain – 10 key points

Courtesy Irish Independent

Back pain is unique to each person. While it may be a structural issue, stress, mood or poor sleep may all be at the root of the problem. Becoming aware of the various different factors provides a better understanding of the pain and how to address most appropriately.  All of these factors form part of the 121 Yoga process and the appropriate application of Yoga for the individual and their particular needs.

Key related extracts from an article published in the Irish Independent:

Back Pain is common
While back pain can be very painful and worrying, it is very common and rarely dangerous. A total of 84pc of people worldwide will experience back pain during their lifetime. It is equally common across all age groups; from young to old and doesn’t get worse with age. Therefore, it should not be seen as a result of ageing or “wear and tear”. Mostly people recover reasonably quickly, and many recover without the need for treatment. Some people experience repeated episodes of back pain which can be distressing, but again these are rarely dangerous.

Scans for back pain are rarely needed and can be harmful
Most people believe that a scan (for example an X-ray, MRI) will identify the cause of their back pain. However, the scientific research shows that scans are only needed when a serious condition is suspected (cancer, fracture/broken bone, infection). Luckily, these serious conditions are rare and account for approximately 1pc of all back pain worldwide.

The back is NOT that vulnerable to damage
Most people think the spine is something that needs to be protected. This is incorrect and has led to the provision of information and treatments that promote fear, protective guarding, avoidance and disability. Common examples include: “Your joint/pelvis/disc is slipped/out of place.”
People often move differently when in pain, giving the impression that something has gone out of place. However, scientific research has clearly shown that these structures do not go ‘out of place’ or ‘slip’.

The back is designed for bending and lifting
Like other body parts (for example the knee), the back is designed to move and adapt to many activities. It is important to be conditioned to lift; and shown how to lift heavy things correctly and safely. The back is designed to move and adapt to many activities. In the same way that a person can get a sore knee after doing an unaccustomed activity, people can get back pain when they lift something awkwardly or something that they aren’t used to.

You can have back pain without back damage or injury
The traditional view is that pain is a sign of injury or damage. While some back pain may be related to a sudden, repeated or heavy-loading event, we now know that the volume switch for back pain can be turned up by many other factors also. These include physical (minding/guarding the back, avoiding movements), psychological (fear of damage/pain or not getting better, low mood/depression, stress), health (being tired and run down, low energy), lifestyle (sleep problems, low levels of physical activity, being overweight), and social (poor relationships at work or home, work satisfaction, stressful life events like a death or illness) factors.

This means that you may feel more pain when you move or try to do something, even though you are not damaging your back. Ever have a headache when you are stressed, sad, tired or run down? Back pain is no different. For many people, back pain can occur from just a minor mechanical trigger, like picking something up from the ground or rolling over. In this situation it is due to the spinal structures being sensitised due to other factors such as sleeping position or stress.

Don’t take back pain lying down and don’t rush for surgery
Since people often think they have done damage when they get back pain, it is common for people to go to bed and rest until all pain is gone. However, there is very strong evidence that keeping active and returning to all usual activities gradually, including work and hobbies, is important in aiding recovery. While you may feel relief from rest initially, prolonged rest is unhelpful, and is associated with higher levels of pain, greater disability, and longer absence from work.
Surgery is rarely an option for back pain. There are some uncommon back conditions where there is pressure on the nerves that supply the leg and the patient gets leg symptoms such as pain, pins and needles or numbness. For these conditions surgery can help the leg symptoms but it is important to understand that surgery is not always required.

Exercise is good for back pain but people are often afraid
Contrary to popular belief, exercise is helpful for back pain….
It is emerging that the amount of exercise you do is more important than the type of exercise. More than 30 minutes per day has the greatest health benefits but any amount you can manage will result in benefit. The benefits of exercise even include reducing the risk of developing back pain.

Strong meds do not have strong benefits for back pain
Many people think strong pain needs a strong painkiller. This is not true. If you have a new episode of back pain, you should start with a simple over-the-counter painkiller and not rush for prescription medications. Scientific research has shown that strong painkillers such as those containing an opioid do not provide greater pain relief over simpler options, and actually have greater potential for harm.

Buyer beware: internet, fads, fashions and bandwagons
Be wary of commercial sites that are selling a product. We hear daily claims about miracle cures and best treatments for back pain in the media and on the internet.

Back pain can be cured
The thinking around the spine is distorted and infused with panic. Of course you can injure the back – but be confident that it will get better. It is common for people to be told that they cannot change their pain and they have to live with it. The evidence doesn’t bear this out. The back can also recover.

Think of it like an ankle sprain. It is incredibly painful at the start but it gets better with graduated activation. Avoiding movement would not help an ankle sprain, and the same goes for a back injury or back pain. The pain experience is unique to you and can involve an interplay of many different factors. It therefore makes sense that all of these factors must be considered in addressing your back pain. This could explain why many different treatments for pain fail in the long term as they only look at one piece of the puzzle.

Link to full article published in the Irish Independent.

The mind is part of a team…..

img_4404Books in the bookcase leading me to read. Apt quote around my Yoga group this evening.
” The mind is part of a team, along with the body, the breath and the senses. Everything that we do is a product of that team, but the mind is generally the boss……..We know that the state of the mind affects the breath and, luckily for us, the opposite is also true”
What are we Seeking – TKV Desikachar

To draw on Yoga during rough times…..

 

Two balanced rocks contrast a sea of stones under a blue sky.

To draw on Yoga during rough times
you’ve got to practice Yoga during smooth times.

The target of Yoga is ‘svatantra’ which means…..

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“The target of Yoga is ‘svatantra’ 
which means to discover our own technique.
‘Sva’ means self and ‘Tantra’ means technique.
The techniques are in oneself and we must discover them;
if not we will depend on others.
This is ‘svatantra’.”
– TKV Desikachar

…..it is the purpose of Yoga to unify their movement

TKV_Hindu_Oct_2000

“While it is theoretically possible for the body, the breath, and the mind to work independently, it is the purpose of Yoga to unify their movement. In our very first practice classes, we will experience this unification. What appears as Yoga to an outsider is mainly the physical aspects of our practice. They will not be aware of how we breathe, how we feel the breath, and how we coordinate breathing with physical movement.”

TKV Desikachar – Religiousness in Yoga, ch2, p13

Begin your practice from where your are…..

TKV_Hindu_Oct_2000

“Begin your practice from where you are,
finish your practice where you are going.”
– TKV Desikachar 1978

Shared from Paul Harvey’s Yoga Journal

Why have the breath envelop the movement…..

 

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Image: Paul Harvey’s Yogastudies.org

Q: Why have the breath envelop the movement?

A: “Mastery of the Āsana is about mastery of the breath in the form not just the form itself.
The best reference for observing that there is a quality of grace, as well as power within the achievement of the form, is a long smooth breath.
In t
erms of movement this notion means that you can be sure these qualities are embedded by keeping the breath longer than the movement.
This also offers an experience of stillness and an observation point for any stresses arising from the performance of the Āsana.
As mentioned in the original article around this topic there are also other levels beyond the four I discussed.”

The above is a question raised in response to the post ‘Keeping the Breath Longer than the Movement” together with Paul Harvey’s answer.

Progress must be seen as the distance from…..

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”Progress must be seen as the distance from the starting point,
rather than the more usual reference of the distance from the finishing point.”

– Notes from Paul Harvey’s first seminar with TKV Desikachar in Cambridge in 1976
Shared from Paul’s Yoga Studies Blog

Duḥkha is a disturbance of the mind…..

Mind

“Duḥkha is a disturbance of the mind. While sometimes the words sorrow, misery, and disease are used to define duḥkha, it is best identified as a feeling of restriction.
Somehow something deeply disturbs us and we feel restricted.
This restriction is duḥkha…….
We all aim to remove duḥkha……..
That is what Yoga is trying to do.”

TKV Desikachar, Religiousness in Yoga

Yoga for You


Yoga Journey

Yoga, practiced regularly, offers tools for
– maintaining stability
– supporting development
– coping with change.
Yoga is a practice that you can learn ‘for you’.
It is a practice that can be personalised for where you are now
and constantly adapted for creatively meeting what is to come.

The breath can be a key to unlocking the mystery of the relationship…..

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“In looking at how to deepen (rather than broaden) our personal practice choosing to focus on exploring the breath can be a key to unlocking the mystery of the relationship between body, breath, mind and beyond.

Here we can think of the deepening into our practice arising through progressively slowing the patterning of our breathing. To do this we have to reconsider our practice, not in terms of what we do with our body but what we do with the breath within our body.

This means firstly knowing what is our basic practice breath rate per minute and then progressively slowing that rate as we progress from Āsana, through to Mudrā and then to Prāṇāyāma.

For example when working with Āsana we can start with four breaths per minute, then with Mudrā slow it to three breaths per minute and finally with Prāṇāyāma, slow it again to two breaths per minute.

An accomplished practitioner may be working with three breaths a minute in Āsana, two breaths a minute in Mudrā and one breath a minute with Prāṇāyāma.

Whereas a less experienced practitioner may be working on five breaths a minute in Āsana, four breaths a minute in Mudrā and three breaths a minute in Prāṇāyāma.

The starting point does not matter and is something that is appropriate to the history, health and training of the student. What is more important is that no matter where we start from, the journey into the mystery of the breath and its relationship to the slowing of psychic activity, is through the progressive slowing of our breathing patterns.

This is realised within the long term developmental refinement of the practice limbs of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma within our journey into the evolution of Haṭha Sādhana towards Rāja Sādhana.”

Shared from Paul Harvey’s Yoga Studies blog

The person who taught me how to vary postures is Krishnamacharya……

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The person who taught me how to vary postures, to bend the legs, to turn the neck, all the simple and complicated variations, as necessary, is Krishnamacharya. It is important to vary each posture according to the individuals requirements.

Further, he also introduced the use of other aids or supports, so that the person gets the benefit of a posture through other means when he is not able to do the posture itself. This can involve sitting on a chair, using a roll, using supports, etc., the use of other means to help a person achieve certain results.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Shared from Paul Harvey’s Yoga Studies Blog

The spirit of viniyoga…..

The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself.
As everybody is different and changes from time to time,
there can be no common starting point,
and ready-made answers are useless.
The present situation must be examined and
the habitually established status must be re-examined.”
– TKV Desikachar

Shared from Paul Harvey’s Yoga Studies Blog

The greatest gift of practice…..

meditation

“The greatest gift of practice is faith”

Paul Harvey

 

The viniyoga of Yoga is about Relationship

The viniyoga of Yoga is about Relationship……

The viniyoga of Yoga is the application of the principles that link together to offer possibilities to enhance your relationship with yourself through your practice.

This opens the possibility that a deepening of your practice comes not from adding more difficult postures, but from refining your relationship with what you already have.

Life is already full of pressures to go for the newest model, to bring more in from the outside rather than concentrating on bringing more out from the inside.

So we need to take care that we do not become an avid consumer of a new posture or new technique purely for the sake of it.

Yoga is a relationship within which you commit yourself to depth of involvement rather than breadth of involvement.

In that sense, Yoga is no different from how any relationship with someone or something we care for and wish to spend time with should be.

From this relationship we can eventually start to experience the fruits that arise from the time, care, effort and attention.

Perhaps keeping the following words of a teacher from long ago in our mind as we adapt Yoga to suit our particular needs:

“Only through Yoga Yoga is known,
Only through Yoga Yoga changes.
One who is patient at Yoga,
enjoys the fruits over a long time.”

Extract first published in 1996 in ‘The Guide to Natural Therapies’

Paul Harvey (yogastudies.org)

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Some are satisfied with what Āsana brings them…..

“Some are satisfied with what Āsana brings them.
Others are curious as to where Āsana can take them.”

Paul Harvey (yogastudies.org)

Satviniyoga – To give the right thing to the right person…..


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“To give the right thing to the right person at the right time is Satviniyoga.
Don’t look at the file, look at the student!”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983 – Paul Harvey

viniyoga of Yoga

Posted by Michele Harney, Yoga Rathgar & Dundrum – Dublin

The essence of the viniyoga of Yoga lies in the adaptation of the practice to the individual, rather than the adaptation of the individual to the practice.

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It doesn’t matter how beautifully we do a posture…..

“It doesn’t matter how beautifully we do a posture or how flexible our bodies are,
if we do not have the unification of the body, the breath, and the mind,
it is difficult to say that our practice falls within the definition of Yoga.”
Religiousness in Yoga – TKV Desikachar

The breath makes it possible to…..

meditation

“The breath makes it possible to find ways to achieve access to the posture, it is possible to adapt a posture through the breath.”

– Notes from TKV Desikachar’s lectures at a 6 day retreat in England in April 1992
Courtesy –
Paul Harvey’s Daily Centre for Yoga Studies