Recognizing the brilliance in the Ashtanga sequence
Is there any danger practicing beyond an asana that you can’t do?
I’m doing a terrible thing and assuming you are practicing this method for more than exercise. If you are doing this practice for exercise the danger is that the Ashtanga police will give you a ticket and make you pay a fine. BUT there is the possibility of driving a pathogen or disease inside the body.
As we will learn, the body will do whatever it takes to preserve the heart and the brain. This ‘whatever it takes method’ could present as prostatitis, uterine fibroids, arthritis, etc. But not limited to this.
Say that you have some unresolved emotions. Who doesn’t? But rather than dealing with these emotions that make you hot and bitter every time you talk about it or deal with that situation you stuff it.
Say that situation that causes this rising of heat inside your body is your job. You have resentment to your boss who is the owners daughter’s boyfriend. You have more knowledge and understanding of the company but this bloke who hardly graduated high school is your boss. And you have a degree in electrical engineering.
You go to work each day rather than finding a new job or starting your own company. You get irritated by your boss, a man you feel is less than you.
When you interact with him, the back of your neck and your head gets hot. These feelings of heat can be cooled by drinking or eating something cool. And the bitter taste that you have in the back of your throat from swallowing your pride can be tolerated by drinking or eating something sweet.
You drink a Frappuccino. It’s cool and sweet, the creamy smooth liquid pacifies that unresolved emotion. It tastes good. It tastes like resolution. No more heat, no more bitterness. Eventually one turns into a 6 pack. The excessive sugar is metabolized as ‘storage’ and eventually deposits to the uterus, the prostate.
About halfway into the Yoga Mala at Baddha Konasana, Jois reminds the reader that practicing correct physical asana and breathing, the diseases listed will be cured, BUT . . . and of course there is an exception. There is always an exception.
The exception in this case is that if we keep eating foods that drive our unresolved emotions deeper inside, it can actually lead to an increase in sickness.
I’m going to look at the Marichyasana sequence since I spent a good bit of time there when learning primary series. And I see many students get locked up here.
These guys restore the digestive power, according to Jois, eliminating flatulence, indigestion, and constipation. (we will look at that further in the digestive system) In women the womb becomes strong. (we will look at that in the reproductive system)
The asana themselves place pressure on certain points that aid digestion. Points that help the Large and Small Intestine’s, the Pancreases, the Stomach, Liver, and Kidneys. But is it the asana that restores the digestive fire?
Perhaps what we need to note is that while these asana assist these organs by placing pressure on certain points, we can’t keep eating the same way and expecting to ‘get’ the asana. That is Einstein’s definition of insanity.
The asana is a reminder that we are probably eating too fast, not chewing our food, or eating too much sugar, since that is the #1 cause of flatulence. Gas is a natural product of bacterial fermentation in the Large Intestine. Excess flatulence is often a result of eating, beans, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bread, sugar, beer, and dairy products.
If we slow down when eating, chew our food, and eliminate foods causing these digestive issues, then we have mastered the point of asana. ‘Getting the bind’ is the result of doing the above, but is not the trophy and not indicative of correct understanding of the asana.
If we can’t get the bind in D should we move on to the next asana?
The next asana, Navasana, also increases digestive fire and in terms of health and practicing to resolve digestive issues, this is the last asana that mentions increasing and aiding digestion. All the rest deal with lower abdominal issues including reproduction.
Medically speaking, I see no issue practicing through Navasana to help restore one’s digestive fire. The full practice to that point is about an hour long and if the student has not taken any food since going to sleep that is about 12 hours of fasting* and enough time to kick into drive gastric juices to begin digesting and metabolizing food correctly.
In the greater hierarchy of needs, digestion comes before reproduction, and one should have a healthy digestive system to ensure a long life, a life that can care for their offspring.
Can you recognize how brilliant the sequence is?
Here is a practice designed to heal, and restore the basic needs of an individual before working on the psychological needs. The needs involving intimate relationships, family, friends, achievement, and respect. Those all come only if we have a sense of safety and proper nutrition/digestion.
* 8 hours of sleep, last meal 2 hours before sleep, awake 30min before practice, 1hr practice, 30min after practice waiting to eat. 12 hours.