The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. In May 2008, NIH held its first Yoga Week featuring yoga demonstrations, classes and speakers each day. The event was free and open to the public.
Yogiraj Alan Finger, was the opening speaker for the 2008 NIH Yoga Week. In this series of seven videos, he describes the system of yoga he developed called ISHTA YOGA, an acronym for the Integrated Sciences of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda. Although it was now 5 years ago, this video series has been very popular and the content is timeless, so we thought to share it with our readership.
- The Purpose of Hatha Yoga
- Power of Breath
- Tantra Cosmology
- On Ayurveda
- On Yoga and Trauma (this post)
- Yoga and Modern Science
- Integrating Yogic Sciences
I was going give a talk about how ISHTA began and about my dad. My father was actually in the Second World War and he came out with shell shock. He became a drug addict, alcoholic and was in and out of homes. My grandfather kept sending him from South Africa on business trips and on one trip to LA in the hotel Yogananada was giving a lecture. My father went to that lecture (I don’t know why, he was probably half drunk) and at the end he bowed down to Yogananda who brought him up and initiated him in that moment into the path of Yoga and Kriya. He did also say to him that he would go to India, back to South Africa, become a famous yogi and that one of his sons would follow.
But to answer your question about post traumatic stress….
All memory is stored in your flesh and your conscious mind. This is the biggest problem because your conscious mind can rationalize and can say ‘I am no longer in the war or I’m no longer in the situation so why am I behaving like this?’ but your conscious mind is not what governs you. Your unconscious governs you. Your subconscious, where there is less grey matter and cells in your being, goes down to your navel. That region of your spine is grey matter and you can still call on the feelings that are in this area and bring them back up through therapy even asana and other practices.
What’s below your navel has become unconscious, just white matter and nerve fiber, which goes into the tissue behind your legs. So your unconscious begins to lock behind your legs and in that area of your being. That is why people become so tight especially in their legs. There is no reason, a lot of people hardly walk or run at all, but their legs will get tight. Why? Because that is where the unconscious builds up and it is those unconscious suppressions that actually haunt and govern us. So if you can release the unconscious suppression with Down Dog Pose or anything that stretches open the legs, that is going to begin to release those suppressions.
If a person is in therapy and you want to help them, simply have them lie on their back, put a strap around their leg and stretch each leg for two minutes. They will feel an immediate relief from their stuff.
Breathing also helps us and there are specific techniques to explore the unconscious and mantra helps release it too.