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Kiiko Matsumoto "Clinical strategies"

Kiiko Matsumoto"Hara diagnosis"

Artur Akhmetasfin "Chinese medicine"

Shandor Remete"Shadow yoga"

Alain Danielou"Yoga"

Ewa Wong"Taoism"

John Upledger "Craniosacral Therapy"

The Stages and Order of Practice in the Oriental Schools Part II

The previous article dealt with the stages of mans development from the uterus to adulthood in relation to energetic obstructions and with the way one should cope and work with these obstructions via suitable bodily positions and by altering breathing patterns and muscle tone. These principles provide us with a broader perspective on the spiritual development and orient breathing and posture. Another aspect which deserves our attention refers to the link between the obstruction of energy and junctions in the physical body. Reflecting on this aspect shall assist us in focusing and reaching a profound understanding of the order which governs the spiritual process and practice.
Various prevalent oriental approaches emphasize the link between the process of spiritual development and the vertical axis of the body. The Chinese, for example, position man in between heaven and earth (while the order of creation is heaven earth man). Therefore, in his natural state, man is supposed to transfer energy from earth to heaven, via meridians which stem from the feet and the perineum and end up in the palms and the crown of the head; and back from heaven to earth, via meridians which stem from the head and palms and end up in the feet.
The Hindus and Tibetans have traced the flow of energy through the Chakras, along the central axis of the body, which they regarded as the motivating force for - as well as the indicating factor and the equivalent process of - spiritual development.
Alongside these schools, the Cranio-Sacral approach sees imbalance as derived from the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid along the spine.
We may gather, then, that the free flow of energy along the vertical axis of the body is required for balancing the body or seeking spiritual development (while obstructions of energy usually occur along the horizontal axis of the body). When the vertical axis is blocked the regular flow of energy is also obstructed.
In the human body there are 108 energetic junctions that may become obstructed as a result of imbalance; the most important of them are those which govern the vertical flow of energy in the body. These junctions are located in the joints, which, for reasons such as inappropriate muscle development, unnatural movement, and internal imbalance within organs and systems in the body, have lost their correct inner space and the ability to enable energy to flow through them.
In yoga the joints are seen as related to the element of Ether (Aakash/space), which is the first element in the order of creation and the one upon which all the other elements depend for their proper development. Hence, appropriate space enables the right movement which relates to the element of air (Vayu); the correct heating which relates to the element of fire (Tejas); the lubrication related to the element of water (Apas); and the nourishment related to the element of earth (Prithvi).
The cause of imbalance in the joints, in addition to that which stems from certain mental and energetic patterns, stems from the initial constitution of the bones, the tendons, the muscles and the internal organs; from impaired posture and movement; from traumas, etc.
The factors depicted in the previous article, that dictate the order of practice (which begins with standing postures and concludes in the head stand) in relation to the development of man from the uterus to adulthood, should be considered in light of the fact that the lower body parts are connected to the lower stratums of consciousness and that the element of earth is connected to the physical body, to instincts and animal-like properties; whereas the upper body part is connected to the spiritual, superior stratums and to the heaven, which are the first to have been created and what allows us to become one with the universe. This hierarchy explains why we should   work on the joints from bottom to top.
We should therefore strive to balance the joints in the following order: beginning with the feet, towards the knees, the pelvis, the vertebral column, the shoulders, the neck and the skull. The pelvis, the spine and the skull are crucial for spiritual development, while the other joints are important for the overall balance and wellbeing of the body.
The feet are the first junction met by the energy which flows from earth to heaven. The feet establish and determine the position and state of all the joints above them. Balancing the first junction is crucial in order to achieve proper movement throughout the body; this is also where healing begins. According to the oriental schools, the feet correspond with the hands and the neck.
From the feet movement passes on to the knee joints, and thence upwards. This movement is parallel to the flow of energy from the surface inwards, which manifests and influences the condition of the internal organs, the liver, the spleen and the kidneys in particular. The knee joints tend to suffer from impaired posture and movement patterns which originate in the feet and the pelvis. Any pathology or imbalance in the knees can either be the source or the outcome of a serious internal problem, because the knees cause and also embody problems in the internal organs.
The pelvis is one of the important central junctions. It exerts extensive influence on the body on all levels. The pelvis especially affects the reproductive and urinary systems, the spine, the shoulders, the skull bones, the breath (the exhalation in particular) and the state of consciousness. The pelvis provides the body with strength and stability, and constitutes the first obstacle in the way of spiritual development (referred to in Yoga as Brahma granthi Brahmas knot, meaning the obstruction which stands in the way of the Kundalini energy). As long as the pelvis area is obstructed, one cannot make significant progress in the path of spirituality.
The vertebral column forms a rigid construction which contains the spinal cord and serves as an energy channel. The state of the vertebrae energetically affects the regular functioning of all the internal organs, besides exerting its influence on them through the nervous system. Any damage therefore, cause afflicted upon the area of the vertebral column, may awaken and generate various symptoms in the systems of the body, and may even disturb the free flow of energy in the channel which is the fundamental prerequisite for a shift in consciousness and spiritual development.
The shoulders, elbows and the wrists complete and support their corresponding joints (the thighs, the knees and the feet) and influence the condition of the pelvis, the upper back, the neck, the stomach, the lungs, the heart and the breath, in a way which is crucial for working with mental and psycho-somatic conditions and accumulated stress. These joints enable the understanding and internalizing of principles of movement stemming from the relation between the hands and the element of air which provides the body with the ability to feel and understand the quality of movement in the body; and hold the key to mastering back bends and inverted postures.
The neck manifests and affects the state of the immune system, the autonomic system, the hormone system and the state of the bones. Furthermore, regular functioning of the sensory organs (the nose, tongue, eyes and ears) is conditioned by a released neck, which also determines the ability to forge a connection between body and consciousness (between mind and heart).
The skull is a highly important junction which serves as the last obstacle on the path to spiritual development. Balancing the skull area prepares the brain and the nervous and hormone systems for the transformation of consciousness and for entering and remaining in a meditative state.
The end result, which also serves as an indicator that the practitioner has exercised and released these areas correctly, is manifested in the classic Yoga postures and breathing patterns suitable for the practice of Pranayama. The sitting postures mentioned in the scriptures, such as Padmasana, Kurmasana and Gomukhasana, indicate the state of release in the pelvis; Paschimottanasana and Dhanurasana indicate the state of release in the spine; the ability to perform a head stand and Khecari Mudra, as well as to remain in meditation, indicate the state of release in the skull.
This is the natural state the body reaches due to a mental and energetic change, which cannot be achieved by Western athletic practice. The goal of spiritual practice is to nurture energy via the manipulation of the physical body, and affect a change of consciousness via the transformation of that energy; this is opposed to the Western approach, whose purpose is the cultivation of the body itself, and which goes on to achieve its goal without being aware of the internal and universal rhythm and without seeking to understand which practice is suitable when, and what kind of preparation it requires from the body.
When the joints are brought back to their natural, regular space in a way which attests to the regular physical functioning of the body, and obstructions are cleared, energy begins to flow naturally and undisturbed, and consciousness may enter within. However this is only an imperious preparation before one may set out on the spiritual path; since the energy and change are not strong or stable enough in order to sustain a dramatic physical and conscious transformation. For this first a power station is needed, which will gather, concentrate, and convert the energy stored; and pumps which will push the energy upwards along the vertical axis of the body. The human abdomen provides precisely such a power station: the pumps are located along the spine, in the diaphragms which are activated via the Bandhas (locks); and, providing that the body is free from obstructions (for otherwise damage may be caused in the process) - push the energy upwards.
The manipulation of energy using the abdomen and the Bandhas is related to the internal activity of the cultivation of energy (internal alchemy). This activity is what differentiates between guided affective imagery and true occurrences. In the following articles I shall demonstrate certain aspects of this internal practice, which, in order to assure the safety of the practitioner, can be exposed in full only in a private



Kiiko Matsumoto "Clinical strategies"
Kiiko Matsumoto"Hara diagnosis"
Artur Akhmetasfin "Chinese medicine"
Shandor Remete"Shadow yoga"
Alain Danielou"Yoga"
Ewa Wong"Taoism"
John Upledger "Craniosacral Therapy"



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