Tag Archives: pranayama

Yoga helps war veterans deal with trauma

More evidence that yoga and related disciplines can help heal the body and mind of people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PSTD:

Washington PostYoga helps war veterans get a handle on their PTSD.But the new study is the first of its kind to provide scientific support for the benefits of yoga’s breathing techniques for PTSD patients in a randomized and controlled (though small) long-term study which monitored effects of yoga over the course of the year.

The study cited in this article actually deals with the practice of sudarshan kriya, a sequence of breathing exercises created and promoted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. But he does not have a monopoly on the benefits of yoga practice.

Please note that the article was originally published in The Conversation, September 14.

Kriya to the rescue

I have to admit something. Most of my  visitors don’t come here to read about my yoga practice and other jottings.

They come to check out my pages on the Art of Living Foundation, sudarshan kriya and sahaj samadhi. I get a huge amount of traffic from google.in. Sometimes, they will ask questions about the practice or where to find a teacher or whatever. I am not very qualified to talk about AoL practices. I am not one of their trained and certified instructors. I haven’t been to the maja kriya (group practice) in at least four years, even though the Washington DC National Chapter has great facilities for classes and yoga (Meridian Yoga Studio) on 15th Street, NW. For a long time, I let my kriya practice lapse as I concentrated on hatha yoga. But this summer, I started to return more regularly to my breathing practice, and now I try to fit it in everyday, but it’s closer to five days a week.

In many ways, I’ve become less methodical with my kriya now. I don’t freak out if I don’t get the exact number of repetitions of pranayama that are prescribed. I’ve also softened my approach: I used to be a Type-A breather who tried to get the biggest volume of air in and out of my lungs as fast as possible. Ever since Howard Rontal liberated my diaphragm, I’ve become more mellow in my breathing practice because the same volume of air seems to flow without as much effort. I pay more attention to the quality of my breath.

I’ve also added my personal touch to the kriya practice. In between each exercise, I fit in yogic stretches for my arms and shoulders so that I open up my rib cage and broaden my shoulders as much as possible. I also need to stretch my legs if I am seated on the floor; otherwise, my legs will be numb by the end of the session.

I fit my routine in whenever I can. If I have 15 minutes to spare before going to work, I do it before going to the Metro station. At work, I may look for a vacant meeting room during lunch or on a break. Otherwise, I practice in the evening after dinner or my yoga class. On the  weekends, it’s a nice boost of energy in the afternoon because I am usually dragging after yoga class in the morning.

Now that I am writing about the AoL kriya practice, it reminds me that I really should go to a maha kriya. There is nothing like 10-20 people breathing in unison to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s high-pitched voice chanting the pace of the breath.

Trying to get my breath back

I have been trying to do some personal healing over this extended weekend: pranayama and meditation daily, without fail. I returned to my practice of sudarshan kriya, after having left it dormant for several years. I do my yin yoga practice in the evenings.

This year has been a real grind, and over the past few weeks, I’ve felt as if I had depleted all my reserves. I get home in the evening and have no desire to do anything, much less go to a yoga class or the gym or do any of the necessary chores that crowd my desk and spill over into my workspace. I can’t bring myself to read or I want to pull back from the world. I have refrained from writing about it here because it seems to lend itself to self-referential rumination.

I am not expecting miracles because pranayama and meditation do not suddenly make life sunny and bright. They do not put an end to my mourning for the loss of my parents and this chill of solitude that saps the joy out of life.

Calculating the limits of my practice

I’ve come to the conclusion that two days in a row of yoga flow 2 classes or equivalent is just about all that my body can take. Even though today is a holiday and I could have taken in a morning class without complication, I needed to allow my body to recover. Yesterday, I could tell that I had less reserves of strength. I could not get into crow and hold it (all the sweating did not help either because it made my knees slip off my elbows.), meaning my core strength was depleted.

I will probably still fit in some yoga today, working on my core and problem areas, doing my pranayama and meditation. I find that doing some pranayama goes a long way for picking up my energy levels. It’s nice that I have something to fall back on.