Health

Applying the lessons of the Ashtanga Yoga practice for a healthy life.

Padmasana - the master asana

The closing asana, mainly Baddha Padmasana, and Padmasana, should be preformed by everyone. Jois states that the benefits of Baddha Padmasana purify the Liver and Spleen. One should note that the organs listed are not the western organs but the organs associated with TCM.

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Morgan Lee
The Female cycle

 Should women practice Ashtanga Yoga during their cycle? How does this yoga help with regulating the menstrual cycle?

The major player in human reproduction is the Female. Unfortunately because sexual health is taboo and not openly discussed, in part due to a patriarchal society, the waters around the female reproductive system are often murky.

Aside from acknowledging that some women have abdominal pain during menstruation, the topic of menstruation is not discussed in The Yoga Mala. In fact, ‘a lot of women with strong Ashtanga practices at some point lose their periods, often due to a combination of low body wight and intense exercise.’  (Alison DeMaio, MD OB/GYN) This is common for high intensity sports across the board know as athletic amenorrhea.

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Morgan Lee
Ashtanga Yoga as energy medicine

The practice of Yoga, Tai-Chi, Qi Gong, and the practice of TCM are energy practices. 

According to TCM there are 14 channels that originate from the Chong Mai. In Ayurveda the Chong Mai is named the Sushumna Nadi. From the Chong Mai two channels branch from the Chong and are known as the Ren Mai and Du Mai, or the Ida and Pingala respectively in Ayurveda. These channels are the core of our bodies development and the root of our essence. 

In TCM the outer layers or channels deal with the lower levels of Maslow’s Heigharcy of needs and the chakras related to digestion, while the inner channels protect the heart and the essence of our beings. 

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Morgan Lee
Can Ashtanga Yoga improve the health of the human reproductive system?

Should women practice Ashtanga Yoga during their cycle? How does this yoga help with regulating the menstrual cycle?

In the essential text on Ashtanga Yoga, The Yoga Mala, Jois states, ‘Some women suffer from abdominal pain during menstruation. This is removed by the practice of these asanas (Marichyasana.) The womb becomes powerful and enables a woman to carry a child strongly, and miscarriage due to weakness is cured.’

It’s impossible to deny that there is a flow of energy through the body. “It’s been called by many names. In ancient Chinese medicine, it is called Qi. In yoga, it is called Shakti. In the West, it is called Spirit….the yogis call energy centers chakras.” (The Untethered Soul - Michael A. Singer) Traditional Oriental Medicine links these centers with our internal organs. Both systems involve using natural remedies to allow the body to heal itself.

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Ashtanga Yoga and the Circulatory System (part 4)

Practicing Ashtanga Yoga makes the individual strong from the inside by improving the digestive and circulatory systems. It allows the individual to become responsible for their own health and develop a responsibility for it. Understanding our individual responsibility to our health and health care prevents the unnecessary suffering of others.

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Morgan Lee
Ashtanga Yoga and the Circulatory System (part 3)

There is an element of physicality but it’s mainly mental. That’s what is incredible about free diving. It’s not about your physical ability, but about your mental skills and mental training basically. You need to let go of everything that you know and everything that makes you feel good or bad. And so it’s a very liberating process. But equally you need to stay completely aware of your body and where you are, entirely in the moment.” Martina Amati

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Morgan LeeComment
Ashtanga Yoga and the Circulatory System (part 2)

The heart is the emperor controlling all the other organs, it is at our center and the root of our life. It is protected and held in place by the pericardium. Divided into 4 chambers, left and right, top and bottom, the heart is responsible for the flow of blood throughout the body, and is often thought of as the main energy center of the body, the 4th chakra, our place of feeling.

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Morgan Lee
Ashtanga Yoga and the Circulatory System (part 1)

“your heart is one of the masterpieces of creation. It is a phenomenal instrument. It has the potential to create vibrations and harmonies that are far beyond the beauty of pianos, strings, or flutes. You can hear an instrument, but you feel your heart. And if you think that you feel an instrument, it’s only because it touched your heart. Your heart is an instrument made of extremely subtle energy that few people come to appreciate.” - The Untethered Soul Michael A. Singer

I didn’t want to separate the organ systems into groups because I didn’t want to give the impression that the systems work independently of each other. This seems like a, ‘No shit Sherlock’ moment, but I didn’t realize this very basic concept until a Human Systems Development class in college. Until that point I believed that the digestive system worked with food. Period. The respiratory system dealt with gas exchange, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Period. And the circulatory system dealt with blood. Period.

I didn’t recognize that the nutrients from the food we eat are carried around in the blood stream to their targets. Or that the organs, ALL of the organs, are made from the food that we eat. That all of the organs are supported by the blood that enriches them with oxygen and nutrients. I also didn’t realize that the lungs needed the contractions of the heart muscle to bring the oxygen around the body in the blood. I thought these gasses floated around inside of us, like the broken down bits of food. They eventually would get to where they were going.

There was this big “Oh!” Moment for me in that freshman class followed by this bit of anger for being taught the systems independently and lead to believe otherwise. 

For this, and other reasons, I am not going to separate the Respiratory and Cardiovascular systems. I will attempt to put the pieces together into one category. But please understand that these systems are unified with the other systems to form the perfect being that you are. 

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