Meaning: I am part of the whole. In response to the question: who am I ?
This mantra symbolises the connection (yoga) of inside and outside world. In other words, everything is one whole. Everything influences everything according to laws mostly unknown. This provides insight into the meaning of nonsense.
“Me and the Father are one”. This is essentially the same.
This mantra is used in breathing exercises. “So” when you breathe in, “Ham” when you breathe out. Breathing stands for communication. We all breathe the same air and this makes us connected in the physical world as well, whether we like it or not.
The worldwide spread of the coronavirus can symbolise humanity’s lack of unity or alliance.
Sit down quietly on a chair, on the floor or on a pillow.
Make sure your back is straight and relax hips and legs.
Take the time to feel your breath. Breath through the nose.
Count four during inhalation.
Count six for exhalation.
Repeat during three minutes.
Do this exercise several times a day.
Sit down properly, feel your breathing, count four for inhalation, six for exhalation. Breath through the nose.
After taking a few breaths, stop counting.
Keep the same rhythm.
When you breathe in, you pronounce inwardly the word “So”.
When breathing out, the word “Ham”.
Practice this “So Ham”-breathing as already said in step two.
In addition, during the day, when you think of it, have a gentle, intimate “So Ham”-breathing.
Practice, trust and look carefully what it does to you.
Why you do something can only be known by looking at the result.
This creates discipline in your practice.
We always breathe in and out along the nose (during normal activities or rest).
Let there be no doubt about it.
There is only one right way to breathe and that is breathing with the diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a large, flat muscle in the shape of a dome.
It separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity and acts as a bello
When the diaphragm goes down, air is drawn into the lungs. There is a slight pressure on the intestines and the abdomen comes forward.
If the diaphragm moves upwards (the relaxed position of this muscle during normal breathing), the air is pushed out and the abdomen becomes flat again.
Lie on your back with your legs raised, soles of your feet on the ground.
Put one hand on the belly, the other hand on the chest.
Breathe quietly along the nose. Focus your attention on your hands.
When inhaled the abdomen goes up, when exhaled the abdomen goes down.
The other hand barely moves.
In case of incorrect breathing, there are two possibilities. Either one breathes with the flanks of the chest or with the tips of the lungs. This leads to shortness of breath and hyperventilation. Incorrect breathing undoubtedly affects the motor system and clarity of mind to a greater or lesser extent.
Also wrong: sometimes it is said to breathe in along the nose and out along the mouth. Do not be fooled. This is wrong. With heavy exertion, however, one will automatically start breathing more along the mouth.
How do I learn to breathe correctly?
Breathing is a habit. The only way to change habit patterns is to reprogram. This is done by regular, not prolonged, breathing in the right direction. This is best done in a lying position. Once under control, one exercises standing and then sitting. In other words: practise maybe a hundred times a day (short, breathing in and out once or twice is enough) in all kinds of situations.
This has to be maintained for weeks and months until it becomes a natural event again.
The course of breathing is in proportion to the course of mental activity.
If by nature there is not breathing properly anymore, that is the first thing we have to pay attention to.
Correct breathing gives inner peace, more energy and clarity of mind.
To start with, it is important to learn how to breathe with your diaphragm, in a natural way.
Once you master this, you can learn how to practice many other breathing techniques, which will have a profound influence on your wellbeing .
Perhaps the most important breathing technique is the alternate breathing.
In 1984 I came across an edition of the magazine ‘psychology’. Under the column ‘Brains and behaviour’, I noticed the following subtitle ‘’Brain activity is alternately influenced by the left and right hemisphere, a rhythm which probably can be controlled by breathing”. In a nutshell, the following was mentioned, enabling us to draw conclusions. It also gives us great satisfaction to read that , that what has been tried, tested and proven in Yoga, now also has been investigated and proven, by means of Western techniques.
The cerebrum is the largest part of the human brain. It is divided into two cerebral hemispheres, left and right.
The left hemisphere represents verbal abilities, language, arithmetical skills and other rational processes. The right hemisphere stands for spatial thinking, the creative, intuitive and emotional processes. Nowadays, proof of the existence of interaction, following a determined rhythm between the two hemispheres, is at our disposal. It is ancient knowledge for yogi’s that there are methods to control this rhythm. Via electro-encephalogram , carried out on a certain number of people, it has been confirmed that approximately every two hours there is a shift of predominance of operation between the two hemispheres. It has also been discovered that there is a similar shift in the nasal cycle - breathing predominantly through the right and left nostril – as there is in the hemispherical cycle.
This happens diagonally, meaning that, when breathing mainly through the right nostril, a predominating action takes place in the left hemisphere and vice versa.
By closing your right nostril for instance, you are obliged to breathe through the left nostril, thus stimulating the activity of the right hemisphere.
This alteration of activity already takes place after 5 minutes, and sometimes, after 10 to 15 minutes, we notice a long lasting shift. This could be an explanation for the change of our sensitivity and moods under different circumstances, which obviously are changing all the time.
Scientists are now wondering if the balance between the both hemispheres could be influenced in a very simple way, without drastic surgery.
In other words, could it be possible that one could influence mental processes by paying attention to the rhythmic change of the hemispherical predominance and the influence thereof to the mind, by executing simple breathing techniques?
Alternate nostril breathing clearly offers a solution!
From the Indian viewpoint
Two (of the many) energy channels run through our body, called Ida and Pingala nadi. Ida nadi is the energy flow that moves through the left nostril and is called the cooling nerve flow. Pingala is the warming nadi, moving through the right nostril. Usually one of the nostrils is alternatively more ‘open’ than the other during the daytime. If we breathe through the same nostril for 24 hours, it is said that this could be a sign of an upcoming disease.
This exercise restores the natural balance of the nadi’s.
Also wrong breathing habits are discouraged.. The nostrils are relieved and the nadi’s are purified (hence the name nadi shudi).
As is the case with almost all breathing techniques, we obtain peace of mind. In cases of hyperventilation this technique is advised.
From the above we can conclude that this exercise brings both mental and physical balance.
We use the right thumb to close the right nostril and use the little finger and ring finger to close the left nostril.
Just see this as the way we do it
Now close the right nostril. Breathe out slowly and deeply through the left nostril, and breathe in through the left nostril counting to 5. Close both nostrils, hold the breath, and count to 15. Open the right nostril and breathe out counting to 10. Breathe in again through the right nostril counting to 5, close both nostrils, hold breath, counting to 15, open left and breathe out counting to 10.
This is one cycle.
At a later stage, you can lengthen de respective times, following the same ratio.
I.e. 6-18-12. Start with 5 cycles, and build up to a maximum of 15.
Try to lengthen breathing out versus breathing in At first you may omit holding the breath in the middle phase
Breathe out twice as long as you breathe in Gradually lengthen the retention of the breath
The correct ratio is 1-3-2: i.e. 5 counts in, hold breath for 15 counts, and breathe out during 10 counts (ratio 5-15-10). When lengthening the counting, always respect the ratio i.e. 8-24-16
© uit “Yoga Darsana “
Algemeen Yogaonderwijs vzw
First of all you must be able to master the diaphragmatic breathing, before proceeding to additional breathing techniques; see chapter ‘correct breathing’
Breathing exercises, meaning ‘the breathing which is controlled by own will’, are medically regarded as purifying and can improve numerous respiratory related irregularities such as emphysema (disappearance of the normal structure of the alveoli), hyperventilation, asthma, etc… By practicing breathing exercises or ‘pranayamas‘ the human body becomes less prone to colds, and other infections related to the respiratory system.
By doing breathing exercises or pranayama, you will load your body with vital energy which will enhance your overall health.
Prepare yourself before starting your exercises:
exercise in a well ventilated area or in open air (not when the air is cold)
do not wear tight clothing
in the case of your respiratory system being clogged, it is better not to do the exercises: you need to be able to breathe smoothly
never on a full stomach
prepare yourself mentally. try to be in a cheerful mood, and never see your exercises as a duty or a ‘must’
The ‘full yogic breathing’ is often applied during other breathing exercises. However, it is also a specific exercise which can be practiced separately. It has both a calming and positive effect on hyperventilation, especially when you insert a 5 seconds pause between ex- and inhaling.
By doing this exercise, the entire capacity of the lungs is utilized. You breathe with both the abdomen, the chest flanks and the tops of the lungs or the shoulders. The latter part is hardly noticeable. The movements of these three components (abdomen, chest and shoulders), is a result of the profound movement of the diaphragm. In other words, when the diaphragm moves up and down to a maximum, the abdomen, chest and shoulders will automatically follow in sequence.
Start the exercise by breathing out. Then breathe in very slowly, the diaphragm lowers gradually, the abdomen expands. The chest expands, gradually filling the tops of the lungs. The shoulders sometimes slightly move upwards. These movements flow one into the other without interruption.
When breathing out we follow the same sequence, relaxing the diaphragm; first the abdomen, then the chest and finally the shoulders.
When done separately, try to do the exercise for about 5 minutes. Over time, try to gradually delay the exhalation, until you manage to breathe out twice as long as it takes to breathe in.
It is sometimes believed that this way of breathing would cause a fat belly. Nothing is less true! There is no need to work the abdominal muscles at all. Breathing with the diaphragm enhances a massage of the intestines, to keep them healthy. The liver is relieved, and the gall bladder releases bile at the right moment. This prevents gallstones from forming. The spleen, the stomach, the pancreas and the entire digestive tract are massaged and achieve resilience.
The correct breathing is one of the main motive powers of the blood circulation. The diaphragm is a second heart. By the suction movement, the lungs swell, sucking in venous blood, thus improving the overall circulation. The correct balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream is reached.
From © “Yoga Darsana “ 2012
Algemeen Yogaonderwijs vzw
Take the time to literally come to a standstill.
Notice the points of contact between the body and the ground. Standing are the soles of the feet, sitting the seat, legs and feet, lying further touch points. Pass these points slowly.
The body is here, in this place. Let your attention be there too. No past, no future.
Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If you know the “So Ham” breathing, do it for a few minutes.
Open your eyes and look around quietly. Make sure your head moves with the gaze.
Let the description or naming of what you see pass you by and keep looking.
Pick something to focus on. Keep looking, without words, let it all come to you: the colours, shades, shimmerings, shapes, the movement … . Everything is new all the time.
This exercise consists of staring at a specific point or subject without blinking your eyes. One of the six purification exercises with the main aim of developing concentration and mental focus. It is also good for the eyes. The attention is one-pointed and thus thought becomes calmer. In the end, there is only the point of attention.
This exercise is sometimes encountered in meditation techniques. However, it remains a kriya or purification. We purify ourselves of thoughts that are after all the cause of stress and tension. In other words, the exercise leads to peace and balance.
The exercise is usually performed with the flame of a candle. That is why they do it in a darkened room.
Sit with straight back and relax at arm lenght and eye level of the flame. Now look at the lightest part of the flame for at least one minute without blinking your eyes. Then close the eyes, relax the eye muscles and imagine the flame in the place between the eyebrows. Try to mentally hold on to this performance as long as you can.
Repeat this procedure for five to six minutes. Gradually, the duration of staring can be extended from one to three minutes, and the visualization will automatically be longer.
The exercise stimulates the nerve centers, increases concentration and strengthens the eyes. Tratak is always performed without glasses.
From © “Yoga Darsana “ 2012
Algemeen Yogaonderwijs vzw
Even the worst day of our lives has its charms. As in comics, a very strong man squeezes a drop of moisture out of a desert stone, so we can conjure up a divine elixir from the most banal moments. The art lies precisely in remembering that it is everywhere. Something we, little minds, sometimes have some trouble with. Om tat sat
Discipline is a necessity in our lives. It gives strength because it is constructive in practice. It is not an idea but something concrete. You feel something is happening personally. Like a muscle you exercise every day gets stronger. In this way the feeling of self-esteem grows and you reach your essence without arrogance. Discipline does not have a hard-being in it, but it does have a heart, love and perseverance. Discipline is attention, vigilance and meditation. We are not too hard or too soft. Neither this, nor that. We are friendly with ourselves but remain focused. Discipline comes from the word “disciple” and means “to be an apprentice”. To be an apprentice means “to listen”. In order to listen, one requirement is needed: to be quiet inwardly. Not to have a preconceived opinion or image of anything. Discipline leads to inner stillness and this is unity, yoga. Om tat sat
What I can’t understand at all is how human beings can fail to see the bliss that is everywhere in Nature.
What strange disaster has blinded our eyes to that which, of all things, is most obvious?
What dark god is reigning over this labyrinth of our human destiny and is keeping us in mind in case one of us should accidentally find the way out to the exalted simplicity of Nature.
Reply to a letter from a friend who is afraid to disappoint....... We can only enjoy, endure intensely and act when we take everything away from us, when we clear the mess room of our minds and let ourselves go in the moment of now. Our true self then manifests itself. Those who search too much become so filled with the thoughts of searching, that they forget what the real purpose of their action is. In complete tranquillity your true being comes to the surface and the awareness of this fills you with self-confidence and a blissful joy. We do not have to force ourselves to pretend in the best way. There is nothing we need to hide. The beauty lies in authenticity. Just as the flow of truth runs through its channels of error (Tagore), so beauty runs along the paths of flaws. Even the ugliest child is beautiful because of his authenticity.
Everybody is going through something. The older we get, the more there is to look back on. Sometimes we remember something or someone and link negative, degrading thoughts and images to it. This creates an unpleasant sensation or emotion. This is one possibility. Or beautiful memories are linked to it and that gives a good feeling. That is a second possibility. But this can skip into another emotion, because of a certain lack or regret about the past, and that hurts. However, there is a third possibility. We leave the memories for what they are, knowing that they belong to the past and that the past is dead. Only then can man come to rest and experience reality, the ever new. Step out of the duality and notice the foolishness of this infinite mental conflict, so we can come home to our Self.
You cannot practice non-violence (ahimsa), you are either non-violent or you are not. Mind you, he who practices non-violence, violates himself. You cannot learn humility. If only you would realize that you are humble, you would already be courteous. You cannot do your best to love, it is not hard to love. You cannot resist anger, because anger is conflict and resisting is also conflict. True virtue has no opposite, nor does love. Trust is always complete, 99% trust is 1% mistrust. Freedom can never be conceived because thoughts are always dependent on the past and freedom has no relationship with dependency.
Tadasana de basis van alle rechtopstaande asana’s.
Het is in wezen gewoon rechtop staan, maar dan wel op de juiste wijze. Het begint, zoals altijd, met bewustzijn van je lichaam en ademhaling.
Het versterkt en zorgt voor een rechte rug en het werkt grondend.
Stand up straight and be aware of the touch of your feet to the ground. Make sure that the body weight is evenly distributed on both feet. Shoulders are just as high but relaxed. We are in favour of putting our feet a little apart. After all, it should be a natural upright posture from which we can possibly move to other positions or exercices.
Here, too, first look for a balanced distribution of body weight forwards and backwards.
We make sure that the ear, shoulder, middle of the pelvis and middle of the foot are aligned. This isn’t obvious. With a hollow back, for example, one has to tilt the pelvis; with a convex upper back, one has to stretch more, the head upwards etc. … .
Sometimes, depending on the current posture, it is quite a task to get on that straight perpendicular. On the other hand, practicing the other yoga postures will improve Tadasana.
It is a relaxed exercise that can be performed by anyone.
Before the regular schedule, to finish or casually. The exercise arose from the need to make a few simple movements before going to bed, hence the name “moon salutation”.
Stand upright, arms relaxed beside the body (Tadasana). Slowly bend through the legs, trunk straight and feet flat. Come back slowly.
Turn palms outward and make a circular movement upward, hands together.
Stretch out. Turn palms outward, come back slowly.
Put the hands in the lumbar region and support the back, bend backwards. Come back slowly. Let the head hang forward, roll the body down. Do this with your legs bent. Come back slowly.
With relaxed arms, turn the body all the way to the right, then to the left. Come back.
Tilt the body to the right, then to the left, leaving head and arms hanging on the side in a relaxed way. Come back slowly.
All movements are carried out slowly. You can perform this set a few times.