Claudia Ghetu is certified Holistic Health Coach (HHC) specializing in Vedic Yoga Therapy and Holistic Nutrition, Yoga Instructor (RYT-500) trained by Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman in the Raja Yoga and Iyengar methods, the basis for Urban Zen Integrative Yoga Therapy; LifeForce Yoga Therapy for Mood & Stress Management practitioner, and a Kriya Yoga Meditation practitioner.
It is common knowledge by now that the practice of yoga leaves one feeling good both mentally and physically, with the added bonus of an expanded sense of wellbeing and centeredness. Even in its most diluted and derivative form, as is often taught and presented in the West, yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, due to the combination of sequenced poses or asanas, in combination with regulated, calm, even breathing. The parasympathetic system is part of the nervous system inducing our mind and body to slow down, and is responsible for sending the message to the muscles to relax, also boosting immunity, improving digestion, assimilation, and helping us sleep. It also normalizes blood pressure and lowers the heart rate. The parasympathetic nervous system also counteracts many stress related symptoms and the toxic overload of the cumulative negative by-products of our modern lives – primarily manifesting in the body as severe stress, culminating in disease and mental imbalances. Unfortunately, the type of yoga being practiced widely these days doesn’t do very much for the parasympathetic nervous system, nor does its fulfill its original purpose as an integrative therapeutic practice, as it has been diluted and removed from its proper context.
Yoga has digressed so much from its original form and scope, that it is often misunderstood and unfortunately taught as a form of exercise, to encourage weight loss, tone and strengthen the body, which of course has its own benefits. According to the ancient precepts of Raja Yoga, the asana practice, which is only one of eight teachings or branches of yoga proper, encompassing: yamas, niyamas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, and samadhi. The asana yoga component follows the yamas and niyamas (the moral and spiritual lifestyle precepts which one is encouraged to practice) and precedes pranayama. This integral holistic mind-body wellness system made up of eight branches, which are to be practiced in the aforementioned sequence, is known as The Eight Limbs of Yoga. Hatha yoga focuses on physical component of the practice, the emphasis being on detoxing and purification techniques which free up the flow of Prana or lifefoce energy, which ultimately culminates in the ultimate sense of unification and expanded consciousness, conquering and transcending the physical body into Samadhi. To omit one of the eight branches, and practice just one is like expecting a car to run with only 2 wheels. Sure, a car can be redesigned to operate on 2 wheels, but that’s not how it was tested and intended to run best, or how it was originally designed as a utility vehicle. Also, just as a car or any device we depend on cannot run without having all its parts, so yoga, if not applied in its entirety as in integral system, cannot fulfill it’s true scope.
The primary function and scope of yoga is to promote and increase the flow of vital energy to every living cell in the body, balancing and supporting the physiological functions of the human mind-body. The spiritual component of yoga is also part of the holistic system, as it is believed that mental, physical, and spiritual disease or ignorance are the root causes of imbalance or illness. The vital energy, also known as life-force-energy, is called prana in Sanskrit, and is considered the unifying universal energetic force pervading all of life and nature. In living beings, this underlying life-force-energy is considered responsible for all bodily functions. It is acknowledged more or less in every tradition under different names: the Chinese call it chi, the Polynesians mana, the Amerindians orenda, and so forth. Regulating, expanding, and directing the flow of prana is the very foundation of yoga and ayurveda, the two sister sciences rooted in the ancient Vedic tradition, originating in India over 8,000 years ago. Yoga and Ayurveda are known as the oldest sciences, together comprising perhaps the most elaborate and scientifically accurate integrative mind-body healthcare system. Ayurveda is the science of treating and mapping out the entire system at a sub-atomic, molecular level, and yoga is the multi-layered integrated practice of the ayurvedic science through the practice of the Eight Limbs of Yoga – aimed to keep the body and mind functioning at optimal levels.
Prana is harnessed through the instrument of breath, through inhalation, retention and exhalation techniques and sequences, which comprise the practice of pranayama, an inextricable part of the practice and science of yoga and the Eight Limbs. Through the practice of pranayama, also known as the ‘yoga of breath,’ prana is supplied to every atom and cell in the body, oxygenating and re-fueling the energy channels, known as nadis, throughout the body, and balancing the nervous system. Yoga literally means ‘union’ from the root word ‘yuj’, which means to yoke or bring together. It is the union of the mind, body, and spirit, through the flow of PRANA, which allows us to move beyond physical and psychological obstructions, allowing for transformation and healing, and ultimately higher consciousness. Another major component of yoga is dhyana, which literally translates as meditation. It has to be practices after pranayama, and is preceded by pratyahara and dharana – which are interiorization and deep concentration techniques.
In light of the above information, one begins to realize that the ubiquitous yoga practice, which is the basic yoga asana mainly taught in the West today, offers a fragment of the health benefits that the ancient integrated Vedic system of the Eight Limbs of Yoga offers. Of course you get the high you would naturally get from exercise with the release of endorphins and dopamine, but the therapeutic interlinked mind-body-spirit benefits are nominal. A fast paced vinyasa style class is NOT yoga, nor is it how yoga was physiologically intended or designed to benefit the body, omitting pranayama and the other integral critical components, replacing the slow and prolonged asana postures – which were designed to calm the nervous system and to strengthen and stretch the body before the meditative stages (dhyana and samadhi) – for a fast competitive form of pseudo-yoga. Vigorous vinyasa, or other types of yoga incorporating or focusing on backbends, handstands, and arm balances can be strengthening and beneficial, but they hardly stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, not to mention that the chances of injury are very high. Plus, as Ayurveda highlights, due to everyone’s unique doshic mind-body type constitutions, most yoga asana styles ad classes are a one-fit-all, not taking into consideration that certain poses and sequences can be counterproductive if not damaging for some. Not to mention the effects on the nervous system, which can be overly stimulating for someone who already is prone to anxiety, high blood pressure, or suffers from adrenal dysfunctions, etc. To activate and properly stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and open up the body and energy channels so that healing can begin, you need a specific series of poses that encourage deep relaxation: forward bends and hip openers, poses that emphasize restoring mobility and aligning the spine, more sitting or supine poses as opposed to standing ones, as well as safe inversions supported by props and supervised by a highly trained instructor. You also need to engage and ignite the flow of prana, and end the practice with pranayama and meditation. The Iyengar Yoga method is by far the safest and most refined classically rooted (Hatha) yoga style, taught and designed by the late legendary yoga authority B.K. S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar Institute worldwide. Iyengar not only incorporated all of the branches of yoga within his asana practice, stressing pranayama and meditation, but he designed and encouraged the use of specific props for optimal support and functionality, to induce highly therapeutic restorative results and avoiding injury. Vedic Hatha Yoga Therapy incorporates props for the asana practice in the Iynegar tradition, with the addition of other traditional Vedic practices, such as sound therapy (mantras and bijas), advanced pranayama techniques, and yoga nidra, also knows as ‘deep yogic sleep,’ which is a very deep state of shivasana with guided meditation, similar to hypnosis. The results of Vedic Yoga Therapy are remarkable in terms of integral healing for the mind and body, expediting recovery from injuries, chronic pain management, mental and emotional healing. Yoga after all is meant to be medicine for the body and mind; its very purpose being to preserve and transform – and furthermore help us transcend to highest levels of consciousness and self-awareness.
UPCOMING WORKSHOP ON SELF-HEALING WITH VEDIC HATHA YOGA THERAPY:
MAY 14, AT THE SUMMIT CLUB IN PACIFIC PALISADES & OTHER LOCATIONS TBD
In this workshop you will learn about:
- The original scope and traditional application of Yoga, as a complete and integrative therapeutic mind-body holistic system dating over 8,000 years ago.
- The definitive meaning of ‘Yug” or Yoga, comprised of 8 branches, known as THE EIGHT LIMBS OF YOGA, and its application; yoga asana (exercises and postures) being only one of the 8 practiced in the West.
- Advanced techniques of harnessing your own body’s subtle energy force and directing PRANA into the body to purify, oxygenate the tissues and blood, and revitalize the limbs and internal organs.
- Restorative and energizing Prana building daily exercises or practices, in conjunction with Dharana and Pratyahara (deep concentration techniques), Dhyana (meditation), and Pranayama purification and breathing techniques.
- The importance of developing self-awareness to tune into your own body’s intelligence; and self-care tools as a pathway to long-term health and wellness, working with your body’s own energy system to self-heal and transform.
PLEASE GO TO THE CONTACT PAGE TO BOOK A PRIVATE CONSULTATION OR SIGN UP TO RECEIVE AN EMAIL WITH INFORMATION ON THE MAY 14 EVENT OR OTHER UPCOMING WORKSHOP. SPACE IS LIMITED.