It has become widely accepted and research has shown that the practice of yoga is effective for both the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression. Research has also shown that the methods of mindfulness meditation and the related breathing awareness methods actually positively effect our brain chemistry and greatly reduce the effects that stress have on our mental and physical health. So what happens when you put the two together? That’s the story that Yantra Yoga has to tell.One of the oldest recorded systems of yoga on earth, it was introduced to the west by the great Tibetan scholar and Dzogchen Master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. Yantra Yoga is one of the various Tibetan yogas, the central feature of which is to work with the energy of the body through breathing techniques combined with yogic postures. Most of these systems are kept secret because of the need for initiations in order to practice them. However, this is not the case for Yantra Yoga.
What is Unique About Yantra Yoga?Here is a quick list of the defining features of Yantra Yoga:
- The primary aim of every posture is to guide the breath into its natural flow and shape.
- All movements are performed to a precise rhythm, in flowing sequences where the inhalation and exhalation are in exact unison with the movements.
- Whenever the movements stop, it is for a precise count while the breath is held in a specific manner.
- Because the postures are not static, there is no particular emphasis on muscle strengthening or flexibility, but rather the synchronization of the breath with the movements.
- Like MBSR (Mindfullness Based Stress Reduction) Yantra Yoga originated from Buddhist meditation practices.
The Unique Healing Benefits of Yantra YogaOne of the really helpful things about the ancient texts on Yantra Yoga dating back to the eighth century (some of the oldest recorded yoga texts in the world!), is that there are precise indications on the healing benefits of each sequence. These explanations are written according to the anatomy and physiology terms of Traditional Tibetan Medicine and Ayurveda, the mainstream medicine of that era. The predominant theme in the benefits is that Yantra Yoga is primarily acting on the wind element, Loong in Tibetan Medicine and Vata in Ayurveda.
The Function of the Wind Element: Demystifying EnergyThese days it has become common to hear us wellness folks talk about the idea of energy. It often times sounds like some kind of mystical force related to chakras and channels unrelated to the physical world we know. According to Traditional Tibetan Medicine the wind element is the energy of our body and has very precise physiological functions. These include:
- All physical and mental movements
- Opening and closing of valves, sphincters and orifices
- Activity of the heart and central nervous system
- Sense of touch and all sensations of enjoyment
- Memory and clarity of the senses
- Expelling impurities
- The life-sustaining wind is responsible for inhaling as well as the clarity of the senses and focus of the mind.
- The ascending wind supports speech, mental capacity and memory.
- The pervading wind supports physical and mental movement as well as opening and closing of valves and sphincters.
- The fire like wind divides the impure and pure parts of the food.
- The downward clearing wind is responsible for the birthing process and holds and expels reproductive fluid, menstruation, urine and feces.
- Mood swings
- Memory loss
- Moving pain especially in the lower back, hips and joints.