It would be great to meet and share experience and notes about yoga.
However, since that is not possible, specifically at this time, and more generally because of time and distances, these notes from me to you.
Please read, and share this with your family. Do allow me to make a difference and a contribution to your life.
Prevention Rather Than Cure
During this time of terrible fear and an unknown and unknowable disease, the world has been looking in the one direction of damage control, treatment and vaccine.
However, there are many people, who have a view based on ancient wisdom, modern scientific research and common sense, and have suggested a better method of dealing with the problem.
The alternative view is to proactively reduce stress and fear, develop immunity and cultivate a calmer state of mind and emotions.
How will this approach help? Please read my view here below.
Since the earliest times that I started practicing yoga over 27 years ago, I noticed one thing clearly – I fall sick almost never, and when I do, I recover very, very quickly.
I started teaching yoga over 25 years ago, and I noticed the same resilience in the students that I taught. They fell sick rarely and recovered really quickly.
As I studied yoga and practiced it and taught and observed thousands of people, and learnt from various sources including the ancient scriptures, I came to understand that yoga provides everything we need at this very time.
With nearly a quarter of a century of experience behind me, it is now beginning to dawn on me, that I have a message to share with you and the world – yoga can help us show the way.
And it is also that kind of a time – anything that can help, we must put to use.
However, what I am suggesting is bigger than just trying – it will work!
Let the slogan be “Stay home, stay safe”. But remember to add this. Do yoga. Be immune.
I present my view about an “yogic immunization” programme with the detailed explanation of the practice of Kapalabhati.
The Sanskrit word Kapalabhati hints to the practitioner and the onlooker alike, what it is meant to do. Loosely translated it means Shining Skull. A better interpretation is like this – do Kapalabhati, and get a glowing face, an outer manifestation of an inner reality of prime health!
The practice of Kapalabhati by definition, offers you the best defense against disease. The practitioner, whose internal systems are working so well, and so efficiently, has a serene face and a shining forehead.
The Three Benefits of Kapalabhati
1. To begin with, Kapalabhati is a cleansing practice, a Kriya, devised by ancient yogis, to perform certain specific things in the human body. It stimulates and invigorates the entire breathing apparatus. It cleanses the lungs, the nasal passages and the sinuses. The focus on forceful exhalations results in a more profound, complete and efficient intake of breath. The respiratory system thus becomes very strong, capable and resilient.
2. During Kapalabhati, the movement of the abdomen and the diaphragm also stimulates the gut - the abdominal cavity and all the organs residing there. As more and more science and scientists are discovering, 70 per cent of our immune function resides in the specific area around the abdomen. In every tradition, there is a discussion about the core, the solar plexus, Manipura chakra.
Kapalabhati ignites the latent potential to its fullest capability.
3. Kapalabhati does one more very important thing to the diligent practitioner – it clears the mind, it removes the cobwebs, it gets rid of brain fog, a term which is now becoming so common. How it does that is through the continuous repetitive action of manipulating the breath 60 to 80 times, one pumping per second. During this time, the area around the eyebrows is stimulated, the residency of the pituitary and pineal glands. Dopamine and serotonin secretions increase, and so does the intake and assimilation of oxygen. This leads to a happier state of emotions, mood, brain and mind.
No wonder the name Kapalabhati – excellent for the lungs, excellent for the gut, excellent for the brain, therefore excellent for health and therefore, bestows the practitioner with a face to be proud of – shining, youthful, glowing, bright!
According to the scriptures, Kapalabhati removes Tamas (inertia, laziness, darkness, heaviness, indolence), and promotes Sattva (brightness, peacefulness, purity and calmness). I agree. 100%
Kapalabhati is a simple breathing exercise. It involves active exhalations and passive inhalations. In the Sivananda class, we usually practice three rounds of Kapalabhati. Each round is between 60 and 80 pumpings, one pumping per second approximately.
In between each round, to pacify the breath, to strengthen the lungs even further, and to slow down the mind and make it more steady, the breath is held in, for a few seconds, sometimes up to 30 seconds or more.
This whole procedure of three rounds takes about ten minutes at the most.
Is that it?
Really speaking, yes.
In times of great stress, and great compulsions, like this unprecedented time, we can practice Kapalabhati twice a day – once at dawn and a second time at dusk.
· There must be a four hour gap between a heavy meal and your practice.
· We must learn Kapalabhati from an experienced teacher, from a traditional lineage.
· It must be combined with all other simple yogic practices, including Anuloma Viloma, Surya Namaskar, and Asanas, to get the most profound effect.
The Sivananda Class And Kapalabhati
Let us put it this way – if you are practicing the Sivananda class every day, chances are, you have insurance – health insurance, life insurance and happiness insurance. A complete protection plan like no other.
If you are not practicing the Sivananda class, just make a beginning. Get protected from the first class onwards.
As you are aware, or will become aware when you practice the Sivananda class, it always begins with the practice of Kapalabhati.
And that is the symbol that tells you – Yogic immunization for perfect health!
Yes, Kapalabhati has been put there, right in the beginning for all the reasons listed above. And yes, it is one of the most important reasons I attribute for my good health.
Come, let us practice Kapalabhati!
(and if you are not clear about how to go about it, please mail back, and our senior staff or I will guide you!)
I am sharing a link to a new video which we uploaded recently, for this very time - it has a focus on Pranayama, and of course, includes Kapalabhati. Do take a look.
I wish you good health.
Acharya and Director
Sivananda Yoga Centre, Gurgaon
Arun Pandala, Yoga Acharya (Master of Yoga) is currently one of the senior-most Sivananda teachers in India. He has been practicing yoga since 1992 and teaching yoga since 1995 and holds an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher ERYT 500 accreditation as well as a YACEP qualification from Yoga Alliance, the international body for certification of yoga world standards (www.yogaalliance.org). Sivananda Yoga Centre, Gurgaon was founded over 15 years ago. We are registered with Yoga Alliance. The centre holds a RYS 200 and a RYS 300 accreditation, Arun and Deeksha, an ERYT 500. Sivananda Yoga Centre, Gurgaon has a regular programme of daily yoga classes, corporate and group classes, private classes at home, yoga retreats and teachers' training courses.
Arun was formerly part of the AYUSH Ministry’s project on world standards as well.