Āyurveda – sūtra 3

The third of five sūtras fundamental to the study of Āyurveda:

“Like increases like. Under certain circumstances ‘like cures like cures like’ and under other circumstances ‘like causes like’ but always ‘like increase like’, by the principle of resonance”
Robert E. Svoboda

Āyurveda – sūtra 2

The second of five sūtras fundamental to the study of Āyurveda:

“Air, fire and water are the three principles most fundamental to life. They appear in the body as vāta, pitta and kapha and their subtler forms are prāṇa, tejas and ojas respectively. They represent, in order, the cosmic urges to movement, transformation and stability.”
Robert E. Svoboda

Habits – Saṃskāra

IMG_3141“We become conditioned to certain habits or comfortable grooves. When we can’t continue in them because of change, we suffer. Even if the change is the right one and will lead to a better awareness we would rather stay in the comfortable groove even knowing it to be a negative pattern.

An example of this could be taking time to practice and the patterning of the psyche compelling us to find other activities or in-activities to fill the time. We can make a career out of finding a myriad of ways of staying too busy to make time for ourselves.”

Excerpt from article by Paul Harvey cYs on Āyurveda & Yoga

Scans ‘show mindfulness meditation brain boost’

From the BBC website:

“The theory that meditation can reduce stress, depression and even chronic pain is one that has been gaining in momentum in recent years.

So the BBC’s David Sillito has been learning the art of mindfulness meditation in order to find out for himself.

After getting to grips with the activity, he joined some other devotees for an MRI scan to find out what impact the practice can have on brain activity.”

View article and video.

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Patients & Complementary Therapy – Irish Study

A summary of the details of a new Irish study has shown that a significant number of patients use alternative and complementary medicines without informing their GP, despite the fact that these may negatively interact with conventional medicines. The article is published by Irish Health.

“We found that a significant number of patients were using alternative and complementary medicines, with the majority not disclosing this to their GP and a significant proportion having chronic medical conditions for which they were also taking conventional medicines,” the researchers explained.

I think if research was conducted on the disclosure by clients to their complementary therapist in relation to their use of conventional medicine the findings would be similar. My experience in the area of Yoga teaching and Yoga therapy, in Dublin, is that students/clients quite regularly do not disclose relevant information in relation to specific physical conditions and the taking of prescribed medication.

While clients complete a confidential health questionnaire, additional information is frequently revealed though dialogue and verbal questioning. Clients often do not appreciate the importance of full disclosure in relation to their medical situation. It is as if there is a perception that medical treatment and complementary treatment are separate and that what is prescribed by one may not relevant to the other.

The point is that they are mutually supportive.

Translations, Belief Frameworks & Modern Yoga Practice

Mark Singleton
Credit: modernyogaresearch.org

Mark Singleton author Yoga Body, the Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010) excerpt from conversation with Susan Maier-Moul

Susan Maier-Moul:
How does everything we’ve been talking about relate to practice – to actually doing yoga?

Mark Singleton: Practical yoga in modern times has changed immensely, sometimes out of all recognition. This is also a process of translation. Practices are taken from earlier traditions, added to, edited, spun and re-cast, until they become something completely other.

This is particularly visible in the way that yoga these days has become almost synonymous with posture practice—this is a new situation, that has very few precedents in any pre-modern yoga traditions. I examine the reasons for this development in my recent book Yoga Body, The Origins of Modern Posture Practice.

As in translation of texts like the Yoga Sutras, the translation of practices is guided by the belief frameworks and needs of that particular time and place. So in early twentieth century India, Hindu Indians were seeking to assert their own indigenous religious practices, in the face of colonial impositions. One of the names given to this project was “yoga”.

Susan: What we are doing now and naming yoga – whether it’s something that’s being called “classical yoga” or “flow yoga” or something else – it isn’t consistent with even the yoga of Patanjali, much less “ancient” practices.

Mark: The body of practices that grew up (mainly among English-educated, urban Indians) was quite different from what we might call “grass roots” versions of yoga.

For one thing, in spite of their assertions of religious and cultural independence from abroad, many of these men (and occasional women) borrowed significantly from Western philosophical and esoteric concepts. It was these people, and particularly the immensely successful Swami Vivekananda, who first brought yoga to the West, and who, to a large extent, shaped early American and European understandings of yoga.

Translations, Belief Frameworks & Modern Yoga Practice

Mark Singleton author Yoga Body, the Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010) in conversation with Susan Maier-Moul – The Magazine of Yoga. Mark’s “writing and teaching provide a bridge between the concerns of academia and those of practice.”

Part 1 of the conversation focuses on the difficulty with translation of Sanskrit texts, with particular reference to the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali and how it can be influenced by the prevailing belief framework.

“Words amplify and change their meaning according to the other words around them. Phrases amplify and change their meaning according to the other phrases around them. And paragraphs change their meaning according to the other paragraphs around them. A good translation is one that is aware of these contexts within and around the text in question, and self-critical with regard to the particular choices that are available to the translator.” Read part 1 of the conversation

To begin to appreciate the depth of knowledge contained within the Yoga Sūtra requires more than mere translation of the words, it requires intelligent interpretation with the guidance of a teacher.

Health Benefits of Yoga

Image: Paul Harvey’s Yogastudies.org

Most common questions on Yoga relate to the health benefits associated with practicing Yoga, together with questions around how Yoga practice differs from conventional exercise.

Answers to these questions have been researched and are presented in a detailed article published on the IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists) website, providing interesting reading.

In terms of the health benefits the information is grouped under physiological benefits, psychological benefits, and biochemical effects. It is based on the regular practice of traditional āsana (yoga postures), prānāyāma (breath), and dhyāna (meditation).

Yoga Compared to Conventional Exercise



Parasympathetic nervous system dominates
Subcortical regions of brain dominate
Slow dynamic and static movements
Normalization of muscle tone
Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments
Low caloric consumption
Effort is minimized, relaxed
Energizing (breathing is natural or controlled)
Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups
Noncompetitive, process-oriented
Awareness is internal
(focus is on breath and the inifinite)
Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness
Sympathetic nervous system dominates
Cortical regions of brain dominate
Rapid forceful movements
Increased muscle tension
Higher risk of injury
Moderate to high caloric consumption
Effort is maximized
Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)
Imbalanced activity of opposing groups
Competitive, goal-oriented
Awareness is external
(focus is on reaching the toes, reaching the finish line, etc.)
Boredom factor

Yoga & Rheumatoid Arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease causing the immune system to attack joints. However it can also affect other areas of the body such as lungs, heart and bone marrow. It is a painful inflammatory condition that can lead to loss of mobility due to pain and damage of joints. It is known that the practice of Yoga can help people with rheumatoid arthritis.

The research was completed in United Arab Emirates. The details of the findings were presented at the 2011 Annual Congress of EULAR – The European League Against Rheumatism, in London. The findings state that “….individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who practice yoga showed significant improvements in disease activity….” Their view is that the practice of yoga long term could result in further significant improvements. They are continuing their research into the benefits of Yoga in the context of RA.