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Harness Your Inner Power

Marcel Kraushaar is hovering a few inches above the ground, eyes closed, legs in the lotus position, hands forming the Brahma Mudra (the right in the left, thumbs gently touching) supported by only the very ends of his fingertips. He is completely at ease, with not a single muscle tensed. He tells us, in a way that is highly reminiscent of Yoda teaching Luke Skywalker about the Force, that the difficulty in achieving such a feat is purely in our minds, not our muscles.

The daily practice of Kriya Hatha Yoga and Preksha Meditation will help free your mind from struggle and conflict, eliminate energy blockages, harness the power of dormant faculties and bring multiple health benefits. It has been shown to be effective in relieving such ailments as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia and arthritis. It also improves the function of the circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems and promotes concentration, relaxation and self-discipline.

Kriya derives from the Sanskrit word "kri", meaning action and "ya" meaning awareness and hatha is a compound of "ha" meaning sun and "tha" meaning moon. The word symbolizes the duality of the positive, masculine, aggressive force and the negative, feminine, receptive force. Most people notice that one side of the body is lighter and the other stiffer when they begin to practise hatha yoga, due to an imbalance in these two forces. The discipline of Hatha Yoga is based on the teachings of Babaji and his disciples, the 18 Siddhas. Babaji was born in 208 AD and reached Enlightenment at the age of 16, when he conquered death and ceased to age. He is reported to be still alive and well in the Himalayas today. While most of us are unlikely to follow suit, the practice of Hatha Yoga will still be exceedingly beneficial to all aspects of our lives.

Hatha Yoga works on the principle that the human body contains several rotating energy fields, known as chakras, located at various points in the body, close to the spine. The stimulation of these centers during yoga and meditation will awaken our higher spiritual consciousness. The life force or prana is the basic energy underlying everything and is found in the air, the earth, water and sunlight. Prana flows through channels, called nadis are called meridians. If you are unable to get into a certain position, this is because there is an energy blockage in one of your nadis, prohibiting the passage of prana. Don' worry if you are not particularly supple; with perseverance and patience, your muscles will gradually loosen up and you will be amazed at what your body is capable of.

Hatha Yoga involves the practice of asanas, mudras and bandahs. An asana is a posture, which produces relaxation, a mudra is a gesture, which affects the flow of prana, and a bandah is a psychomuscular energy lock, which redirects pranic flow and awakens the chakras. It is not the case that some asanas, mudras and bandahs are more basic whilst others are advanced. Everyone has their own positions at which they are adept and others that really cause trouble for them. These are different for different people as everyone has different emotional problems and concerns, i.e. energy blockages in different areas.

It is important to remember that the mind and body are one, so we practise Preksha Meditation. The purpose of meditation is to develop a sense of self-awareness. During meditation you must be highly alert in the here and now but not of anything in particular. It is a state of wakeful repose, in which all your organs become deeply relaxed and yet you are completely aware of being inside your body. Do not allow your mind to stray into the past, where you will encounter regret, or the future, where you will encounter fear. The first step of Preksha Meditation is Khaorsanga, during which you attempt to become aware of your body on a cellular level.

We are guilty of not paying enough attention to our bodies, of not reading their signs correctly. We fail to notice when we are thirsty, ill and malnourished. We ignore and punish our bodies because we have experienced pain in them in the past. We numb our sensations by indulging in harmful behaviors. Through Preksha Meditation we can regain our bodies and ease our pain. We fool ourselves into thinking that we are not in control of our lives, actions and bodies to avoid responsibility and inhibit change. It is up to each of us to break out of our destructive cycles and take our lives into our own hands.

If you experience any aches or soreness from sitting still in one position for so long, you are taught to use the technique of auto suggestion to eliminate them. Imagine that your conscious mind is a torch beam and visualize its rays penetrating the skin, muscles, nerves and bones. Instead of trying to ignore the pain, travel deep into the bothersome area and imagine light particles dispelling shadows. This technique requires a huge amount of concentration but I assure you, it does work! The idea of auto suggestion is not as crackpot as it seems. Western science has gradually abandoned the idea that mind and body are two separate substances, so it is perfectly logical that the one can have influence over the other.

Another practise is Pranayama or breathing exercises. Respiration is the only bodily function which is both voluntary and involuntary, so it is regarded as forming a bridge between the mind and the body. When we bring breath consciously under our control during Pranayama, we increase the level of control we have over the mind and the body. The regulation of breath helps us to absorb more prana from the air and so prevent disease, increase longevity and promote good health.

You wouldn' think it, but after a one or two hour session, everyone has had a good workout and is desperately in need of a long cold shower. It is extremely intense and leaves you tingling and revived, like having a massage from the inside out. In my opinion, certain positions are akin to tortures however the wondrous feeling of wellbeing and content people experience after a hatha yoga session makes it all well worth the effort.

Marcel has been practising hatha yoga for 25 years and teaching for 20 years. Everyone is welcome to come along for a lesson in the serene setting of the Centre. It is easily reached by traveling south along the Chiangmai-Lumphun Rd. or the Night Bazaar Rd. Contact Marcel Kraushaar, Hatha Yoga Centre, 129/79 Chiangmai Villa 1, Mahidol Rd., Padaed Intersection, Chiangmai 50100. Tel./Fax. : 053-271555.

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