I discuss, in the following sections, the hatha yoga that is known worldwide. Although the use of posture is only a part of that approach, its expertise on postural dynamics remains without rival, even today. Yogis assume that one needs a set of highly differentiated approaches to grasp and master the complexity of an individual human system. Thus, Iyengar identifies eight limbs of yoga4 that promote an individual’s quest:
1. Yama. Ethical disciplines: nonviolence, truth, no stealing, continence, no coveting, and love.
2. Niyama. Rules of conduct for individuals: purity of the tissues of the organism, emotional tranquility, joyful austerity, understanding how one functions, dedication to the sacred.
3. Asana. The mastery of the organism’s repertoire of postures. The asana are the postures explored by the yogis. The term asana designates both the methods of self-exploration based on the use of the postures and particular postures. A person practices each posture in a way that is firm and comfortable (Patanjali, 2001, 2.46). This politeness toward oneself, which is also stressed in point 6, is pedagogically crucial, and should always be stressed when yoga is used in a psychotherapeutic context. The aims are (a) not to create tension in other parts of the body when one works on specific muscles (see the section on Bulow-Hansen in chapter 19 for more on this point, p. 543), (b) supporting the need to practice regularly, (c) not to use yoga to strengthen the superego (as defined in the section on Freud’s Second Topography in chapter 15, p. 400f). It is best to meditate with a real teacher in a real group. The teacher can then provide feedback on the beneficial use of meditation and yoga exercises. This feedback is essential. I have met several people who have attempted such a process alone, with the help of a my yoga blog or a DVD. The result was always counterproductive, not only because essential external feedback was missing but also because it led to an overdeveloped will, which is often associated with an overly powerful superego in psychodynamic clinical discussions.
4. Pranayama. The mastery of the breath. Soft breathing exercises are essential when yoga is used with depressive patients. The softness and gentleness is crucial, as mentioned in the previous paragraph (see the section on Gindler’s Berlin in chapter 12, p. 302ff for more on this point).
5. Pratyahara. To free oneself from the needs imposed by the senses.
6. Dharana. The development of attention by learning to concentrate on one task and one point alone with gentleness, serenity, and patience (Patanjali, 2001, 3.1.).
7. Dhyana. The capacity to integrate that which goes on in meditation. This implies the capacity to observe what is happening with benevolence, without desire for money and power.
8. Samadhi. The goal of this quest is the state of illumination.
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