Friday, March 21, 2014

Yoga Therapy

Inner peace

Called it lucky? Or attracted by the positive vibes?

Few weeks ago when we had the normal Yoga class, our Yoga teacher told M, my yoga partner, that she had something for her since M had pain on one of her arms and reduced her ability when practicing the usual yoga poses. At first, I thought she would bring something like medication for her. Later on, she explained further that she was currently furthering her study in Yoga, majoring in yoga therapy class and she wanted to find some students to practice her teaching skill, which hopefully would bring benefit to the person.

“Yoga therapy is the adaptation of yoga practices for people with health challenges. Yoga therapists prescribe specific regimens of postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to suit individual needs. Medical research shows that Yoga therapy is among the most effective complementary therapies for several common ailments.” - Yoga Biomedical Trust (England) - Robin Monro, Ph.D.

Short to say, our teacher would give my friend a special additional class, only to teach her about the yoga therapy to deal with her challenges. Then I told her about my SLE. She said that I too, could join this special class. Both of us would receive different treatments and have separate class in the beginning. Once we both familiar with the technique then we would attend the combined class together. So, other than our usual one-hour class, we would attend additional half an hour class, before our usual class was started.

As a first step, we had to fill up the form with our particular and challenge’s details. We had to state our condition over there so that she would know what kind of yoga therapy that she would teach us.  A week later, we started the class.

As for SLE, she mentioned that according to Western side, the cause of the disease was still unknown and to deal with it, was to suppress the immune system by eating medication regularly. But from Eastern side, they believed that all source of disease would come from stress, and that included SLE.

However, I believed in what she was saying. I’d read somewhere else that when people had cancer, they cured it without medication but just by being happy and stress-less – by watching funny movies all day; some went for meditation (to relax their body and mind), and after some time the cancer disappeared, or it even could prolong their life span. Not sure how true it was, but I believed that we had to relax, mind set in peace, no stress, have positive mindset, exercise regularly, and watch our diet in order to have a happier and healthy life.

We have joined the classes for almost one month by now. She taught both of us about breathing exercises. There were 4 types of breathing exercises (Pranayama) that she taught, which were:

Vishnu Mudra (Pic source:

1. Alternative Nostril Breathing or Anuloma Viloma. In here, we adopted the Vishnu Mudra where our right thumb was to close the right side of nostril; index and middle finger were tucked in; and leave the ring and little fingers opened to close the left side of the nostril.

We started by taking a deep breath, covered the right nostril using the right thumb and exhaled using the left nostril. After that, we covered the left nostril with the ring and little finger, inhaled from the right nostril slowly and deeply. We exhaled using the left nose by covering the right nostril with right thumb, then inhaled using the same left nose, exhaled using the right nose by covering the left nostril, and continued the steps for nine sets. Each inhalation and exhalation was done and counted slowly for about four to six counts.

Alternative Nose Breathing or Anuloma Viloma
(Pic source: Medicina Indiana)

Since our nose was directly linked to our brain and nervous system, for thousands of years the Indian yogis believed that many diseases were connected to disturbed nasal breathing. It’s said that left nostril was for calming purpose while right nostril was for energy.

By practicing this, the purpose was to help restore imbalances in your brain. It could revitalize our energy (clear and boost the energy channel), cleanse our lungs, improve our sleep, calm the emotional state and nervous system (calm our mind), and also improve our brain function.

2. Sectional Breathing or Vibhágiya Svasana. In sectional breathing, it came with three different parts and the forth one was the combination of the three of them. Here, we sat up in cross-legged position, with head, neck and spine straight, both eyes closed, placed both hands on the thighs, and relaxed.

Abdominal Breathing or Adhama Svasa
(Pic source: Yoga Sudha)

a. Abdominal Breathing or Adhama Svasa – inhaled slowly, let the air passed through until the abdomen bulged out and exhaled slowly until the abdomen was drawn inwards. Repeated this breathing for five times, did it slowly, smooth, and continuously.

Thoracic Breathing or Madhyama Svasa
(Pic source: Yoga Sudha)

b. Chest Cage / Thoracic Breathing or Madhyama Svasa – instead of breathing to the abdomen, here, we inhaled and expanded our chest cage forwards fully then slowly exhaled all the air inside the chest cage out. Repeated this for another five times.

Clavicular Breathing or Adya Svasa
(Pic source: Yoga Sudha)

c. Clavicular / Upper Lobar Breathing or Adya Svasa – when inhaled, raised the collar bones and shoulders upwards and exhaled dropping down the shoulder slowly. Repeated this for five times.

Full Yogic Breathing or Purna Svasa
(Pic source: Yoga Sudha)

d. Full Yogic Breathing or Purna Svasa – combined inhalation all the three sections of the sectional breathing above (below, middle and upper part) slowly and fully, then exhaled it out slowly either from below, middle then upper or from upper, middle, then below section. Choose either one and repeated it for five times.

The benefits of this breathing was also to acquire more energy and vitality, calm our body and mind, think clearly and improve our brain function. This breathing exercise could help in lower down our blood pressure (very useful for those who had hypertension or high blood pressure).

3. Light Skull Breathing or Kapalabhati Pranayama – was a cleansing technique to cleanse our lungs, sinuses, and respiratory system, which could help to prevent illness and allergies; and also, was useful for mind detoxification and purification.

By doing a regular practice it could strengthen the diaphragm and abdominal muscles in our body (could also improve our body tone). It helped to increase the body’s oxygen supply, which stimulated and energized our brain while preparing it for meditation and work that requires high focus.

Light Skull Breathing or Kapalabhati Pranayama
(Pic source:

How to do it? We sat up in cross-legged position, with head, neck and spine straight, both eyes closed, placed both hands on the thighs. Took a deep breath and exhaled forcing the breath out in a short burst, making a puffing sound. Focused our mind on the exhalation, and not the inhalation. When exhaled, drew the abdominal muscles inward simultaneously. The abdomen part should have risen when inhaled and retracted back when exhaled. She asked us to do it in fifties (could be increased to sixties or more) for three times with a break in between each set. Just to take note, that whenever women had menses, she advised us not to practice this. Not suitable for pregnant woman too.
Bellows Breathing or Bhastrika Pranayan pose
(Pic source:

4. Bellows Breathing or Bhastrika Pranayana - We sat up in cross-legged position, with head, neck and spine straight, both eyes closed, placed both hands on the thighs. Inhaled forcefully through both nostrils, made sure the lungs were full with air. Once you inhaled fully, exhaled it out with great force and made hissing sound. You should feel the air movement in the chest cage area. Did it 20 times each set rapidly and practiced three sets daily. Those who had high blood pressure or heart disease should not practice this breathing.

The benefits of this breathing exercise were to remove toxins and cure illness of respiratory tract, boost up the oxygen supply, purify and improve blood circulation, keep the negative thought away, calm our mind, increase warmth in the body, prevent common cold and other diseases.

Well, those were four type of breathing exercises that our yoga teacher taught us. If you were interested, you could also practice it. However, it’s advisable and preferred that you first received advice from a qualified and knowledgeable yoga teacher before practicing it yourself.

I read it in one of the yoga websites, which said, "By doing the regular practice of Pranayama, we would be able to purify blood and enhance the oxygen flow. Doing it in the early morning would help us to obtain naturally glowing skin. It could be the secret to ageless skin so that we didn’t have to spend so much money on the expensive beauty products to hide our age." Woww!!! Take note gals!!! ;)

After doing research and put the information here, it made me motivated to practice it daily, especially for the benefits in the above paragraph. Lolx! Perhaps I will start doing it every morning before starting my day. For those who had ever learnt about it before, try to practice it again in your daily life with a hope that it would give you health benefits to your body and mind :)

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!! :)


Sonam Tenzin said...

Honestly commenting, your first is great. :-P
Sadly, I couldn't do yoga though I wish to practise it. I will try to practise some poses you put up here.

Rima Reyka said...

Hi Sonam, thanks for reading and content! Yes, I also think that Alternative Nostril Breathing is the easiest among the four. I think you can practice that one to calm your mind. Have a great time practicing! :)

Choki Gyeltshen said...

Great to know, I did practice some of the breathing practices as you have mentioned above. It's awesome especially doing breathing practices before any kind of meditations. :)

Rima Reyka said...

It's great to hear that you've practiced some of the breathing practices, Choki! Yes, I read it somewhere too that you can do it before doing meditation. Hopefully slowly I can work toward that direction too :)

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