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    Just sharing an audio document I’ve just listened too.

     

    As a scholar and practitionner of Buddhism, Alan Wallace

    tries to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind.

    Large S Samadhi

  • Ruth Gilmore was plenary speaker at the latest British Wheel of Yoga Congress. As a doctor and Yoga teacher she discussed various claims concerning the benefits of Yoga.
    I was keen to have her views on inversions during a period.
    She wrote back in details the following message:
    Here are the views against inversions during a period, followed by my comments on each:
    1. It MAY cause endometriosis by encouraging the menstrual flow to pass along the uterine (Fallopian) tubes into the abdominal cavity.  If the degenerated womb lining contains any healthy cells they might survive within the abdominal cavity and bleed each month, causing the condition.
    BUT         [My comments – the cause of endometriosis is not clearly understood, there are two main THEORIES,

    (a)    that during embryonic life cells that should develop as womb lining (endometrium) spread into other areas of the body and develop there, responding every month to the same hormones that cause the womb lining to build up and then bleed. This theory can explain why endometrial tissue can be found in areas distant from the womb, such as the chest and even in the nose.
    (b) That the menstrual flow can possibly contain some healthy cells that could pass via the uterine tubes into the abdomen and develop as areas of endometriosis.  This theory explains away the finding of such tissue outside the abdominal cavity by saying that cells might get into the blood or lymph and travel that way.

    In my view (a) might be possible.  (b) is COMPLICATED by the fact that in very many women the flow (which pools in the womb cavity at night as most women know, because they experience a greater flow when they get up in the morning) does go along the tubes at least to some extent – this happens in far more women than those who have endometriosis.  Normally if there were living cells in the flow (and I don’t know to what extent this is the case), the immune system would seek them out and destroy them.  Thus retrograde flow can only be a cause of endometriosis if the woman has a specific immune deficiency that prevents such immune response, and inverting will make no difference to whether they develop it or not.]

    2. EMBARASSMENT          During inversions the flow will pool in the womb, and will run out when the woman becomes upright again.  If the flow is heavy this could cause STAINING of the outer clothing or mat and be embarrassing. [I agree with this, and advise against prolonged inversions when the flow is heavy for this reason.]

    3. TIREDNESS    During a period many women are tired and would benefit more from a gentler practice without the work of sustained inversions [I agree with this but have come across women who actually like them at this time.]

    4. MYSTICAL     Considering it from the point of view of the energy body, at this time the net pranic flow is downward, so it seems inappropriate to turn upside down. [I accept this way of thinking, although it has NO SCIENTIFIC  EVIDENCE in favour of it, being a mystical concept.]
    So, all in all, in my view there is no medical or scientific reason not to invert if one wants to, and just as importantly, there is not reason why one should if one doesn’t want to!
    I hope this is helpful.  Let me know if you need more details.
  • I found a tale in  Yogasara N.9 (Iyengar Association magazine) which illustrates the the theme of tolerance.

    Tolerance, according to Iyengar is found  between desire and aversion 

    Here is the French version.

    Please ask if you need it translated 

    “Il était une fois un homme qui trouvait sa maison sale et malsaine. Il s’en alla vers un autre village.

    Ce village étant aussi  peu soigné, il partit vers une forêt.

    Alors qu’il était assis sous un arbre, un oiseau lui envoya ses déjections sur la tête. Dégoûté, il quitta la forêt et se mit debout au milieu d’une rivière.

    Là, il trouva un gros poisson qui mangeait les plus petits. Cela accrût encore son dégoût. Convaincu que toute la création n’était qu’abomination, il conclut qu’il n’avait d’autre issue que de mettre fin à ses jours.

    Il sortit de la rivière et se prépara à mourir, brûlé sur un bûcher. Un homme qui passait par là le vit et lui demanda: ” Pourquoi veux-tu mourir mon frère?” Notre homme répondit alors: “Parce que le monde est abominable et corrompu, je veux m’en aller!”

    L’autre lui dit: “Et que fais-tu de nous? Imagine à quel point ce serait insupportable pour nous quand ta chair commencera à brûler, à quel point cela sentira mauvais. Nous habitons juste à côté, comment allons-nous supporter cette odeur?”

    L’homme fut déconcerté et s’exclama:”Mais alors on ne peut plus vivre ni mourir dans ce monde! Que faut-il donc faire.” Le sage Patanjali dit: (Yoga Sutras II,28) “Par la pratique assidue des différents aspects du yoga, les impuretés sont diminuées puis éliminées et la lampe de la sagesse éloigne par sa lumière les afflictions qui nous consument.” 

     

    picture found on Catherine Mazarguil blog. She speaks on Yoga and Art

  • I practiced the “no blinking” exercise with two students the other night. The idea is to fix you attention on a small object or here on the top of a candle flame and try not to blink for a few breaths, getting the mind completely involved in the small flame. When you are about to blink again, close your eyes and watch for the light to reappear in the dark

    Process

    Sit down and place a lighted candle about two feet in front of you with the flame at eye level. Gaze at the middle of the flame until your eyes water, internal Trataka can then be performed, by closing the eyes and allowing the image of the flame to appear. Try to keep the image clear and unwavering. Repeat the process until you can hold the image externally without blinking as well as internally, without wavering.

    Possible benefits

    Physiologically, Trataka “cures” diseases of the eye such as eyestrain, headache, astigmatism, and myopia. The eyes become clear and bright and able to see the reality beyond external appearances.
    Psychologically, Trataka develops clairvoyance, telepathy, and telekinesis as well as strong will power and ekagrata, meaning single pointedness, without which concentration and meditation are not possible.

    The Hatha Yoga practitioner uses the purified and tuned instrument of the body in order to gain true perception of reality. Swami Muktibodhananda writes in the Bihar School commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika* that vision depends not only on the organs of the eyes, which are lenses or mediums for external perception but on the entire optic tracks. When you look at something, an image is projected onto the retina via the eyes, which stimulates the retina to fire impulses back to the visual cortex of the brain where an inner image is mapped out. When the image of the external object is stabilized on the retina, and held there for some time, without wavering, then the image will completely disappear and along with it a suspension of normal mental processes; in other words the mind will be turned off. More info here

  • Went to Richard Freeman’s  workshop in Oxford last week-end. First time with the “world famous guru”.

    Learnt  about joining coccyx and the pubic bone via the “pc” (no connection with Bill Gates’ desktop.. ) pubococcygeus – muscle (pelvic floor muscle) (in orange).

    Learnt about prana and apana which I still have to explore further.

    Learnt about bringing my shoulders  further back.

    Heard about Astanga being cheaper than Iyengar, because  using no props.

    Heard about a lot of images helping you into the right posture right (hoodie on your head –  feel how to hold your head; kidney wings to  open with the breath).

    Learnt about preparing for headstand, kneeling first and placing your hands crossed behind you head, extending the elbows towards the ceiling and away from the shoulders, making space between the ears and the shoulders and pushing the wrists up.

    Richard Freeman is famous. You can follow his teaching on Youtube. Several times. He looks so “cool”.

    He’s been practicing Yoga for the last forty years, studying various philosophy movements. His popularity makes him an all powered man  (we were fifty in the hall and Vishnu knows  how many on the waiting list?)

    Richard Freeman was late. Started late, finished late. But the majority of us didn’t mind. In the meantime, students were giggling at his jokes. They were not all funny, but he tried hard to make us smile. Release the mouth, the jaw, the palate. It works. RF is aware of so many connections in his own body. he sadly hoped we can follow his pace of mind.

    I felt slightly battered after two days. It went well but I still think  a guru has the right (duty?) to start and finish on time. Respect!