Asana as Meditation

We have examined a group of 10 persons who do yoga and enjoy fairly good health. 

The test participants are 25 to 33 years old.
Their “track record” in Yoga has been from 1 year (4 persons) to 4-5 years (6 persons).
The parameters measured are the following:
— the simplest indices of hemodynamics when in asanas (systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), heart rate – or pulse (HR)).

The device used in terms of the investigation is an AnD tonometer, model UA-668.

The asanas that have been examined are: the downward-facing asanas (Yoga-mudra, Paschimottanasana) and the upward-facing ones Bhujangasana, Ushtrasana).

Here are some interesting things that we have observed in the course of the experiment:

1.  Regardless of whether it is an upward-facing or a downward-facing asana, the body responds by rise of its hemodynamics parameters (SBP, DBP, HR).

2.  The rise of the afore-mentioned parameters is experienced by the examined person:

- in form of heat,

- in form of general muscular tone increase (in upward-facing asanas),

-  as a feeling of heaviness in one’s head (while staying in downward-facing asanas).

In both upward- and downward-facing asanas the participants of the experiment reported their sense of muscle tension within the initial 30-60 seconds after coming into asana.

While staying in asana and getting accustomed to it, the people under study as a rule used to feel their muscle tension localized in some particular zone (for instance, when performing Ushtrasana – in one’s lumbar zone or in the neck, between the shoulder-blades; in case of Yoga-mudra these were the areas of the neck, pelvis, etc). 

Sometimes the test persons referred to the zone where they had their muscle tension localized as a problematic zone “for real” – that is, regardless performance of asanas this zone was characterized by periodical muscular contractions, discomfort, painfulness or anchylosis.

External examination of the test participants confirmed these observations – in 100% of cases the local zone identified in the asana proved to be rigid or inactive (in scope of spinal muscular constitution determination in static and dynamic).

3. The rate of hemodynamics indices change (SBP, DBP, HR) depends upon individual peculiarities of vegetative reactivity and vegetative supply of the test person (“vegetative profile” or vegetative constitution) (we plan to cover this exceptionally interesting material in a separate article, since it is very extensive and requires individual consideration).

4. In a number of cases in asana itself the phenomenon of hemodynamic compensation took place – the parameters of blood pressure (SBP, DBP) and heart rate (HR) that were elevated at the beginning of the process returned to their original value within the process of further asana performance.

We have seen from the observations that compensation occurred only in case a test person within the process of asana performance could find the “right’ muscular position of the body in the space. (When doing an asana a test participant usually searches for the most harmonious and comfortable position in a pose that initially seems to be very uncomfortable one, rearranging the zones of muscular tension – we have called such calibration one’s muscular search while the positive result of such body “constructing” in asanas has been referred to as muscular equilibrium).

Immediately before the hemodynamic compensation the muscular tension was getting even higher, especially along the energetic channel strain (A.G. Safronov, “Yoga: Physiology, Psychosomatics, Bioenergetics”), or along the activation vector of the “muscular train”/muscular chain/musculotendinous  meridian (Buske, Tom Myers, N. Kravets) that were loaded in the asana.

The muscular tension was accompanied by temperature rise and hidropoiesis, especially along the channel or in a problematic (“constrained”) zone, as well as in the cones of muscular compensation.

During the moments of energetic and physiological burst we witnessed the increase of the ABP and pulse rates.

When the activation peak has been passed, the organism reacted by general relaxation and normalization of muscular tension.

According to subjective perception there was the sense of comfort while staying in the asana.

The systemic hemodynamics parameters were coming back to their reference points (baseline).

The case: The test participant P. (fem.), 27 years old, 1 year of Yoga experience, the asana – Yoga-mudra.

 

SBP

DBP

HR

Notes

Baseline

112

73

68

 

The parameters immediately after coming into asana

124

88

83

 

After 1minute of staying in asana

131

77

72

The stage of finding the muscular equilibrium in the asana

After 2 minutes

127

93

71

Further equilibration in the asana, the vascular tone’ calibration is displayed through DBP increase. (Such DBP increase may come as manifestation of the muscular tension in one’s body)

At this stage the test participant sensed some muscular contraction in her pelvic zone and started to stretch further

After 3 minutes

134

90

73

 

After 5 minutes

103

67

73

The stage of relaxation (formation of muscular equilibrium)

Immediately after coming out of asana

112

65

65

 

 

 

 

 

 

The case: The test participant K. (fem.), 33 years old, 5 years of Yoga experience, the asana – Yoga-mudra.

 

SBP

DBP

HR

Notes

Baseline

118

82

80

 

The parameters immediately after coming into asana

131

86

80

 

After 1minute of staying in asana

130

87

75

 

After 2 minutes

134

90

80

No compensation occurs, muscular contractions are sensed, the attempts are made to release them.

After 3 minutes

138

94

91

The state of activation peak

After 5 minutes

113

88

89

The stage of relaxation (formation of muscular equilibrium)

Immediately after coming out of asana

118

79

85

 

 5.       In the course of muscular search a part of the test participants happened to have the episodes of the ABP calibration.

The case: The test participant Ch. (male), 28 years old, 4 years of Yoga experience, the asana – Yoga-mudra

 

SBP

DBP

HR

Notes

Baseline

120

68

65

 

The parameters immediately after coming into asana

106

79

80

This kind of DBP and HR increase against hypotensive SBP may speak on disalignment between the work of heart and vessels after the load on cardiovascular system induced by the pose.

After 1minute of staying in asana

132

74

72

 

After 2 minutes

114

77

71

The stage of finding muscular equilibrium in the asana, calibration

 

After 3 minutes

123

70

71

 

The test participants with bigger pressure stability (as per the anamneses and the results of vegetal type diagnostics) as well as those who have been doing yoga for a longer period were observed to have a shorter stage of calibration.

Thus we can make a resume that regular practice of Yoga and Yogatherapy develops the ability of delicate regulation of one’s cardiovascular system work as well as other vegetal functions.

6.       In the course of muscular search the periods of searching for the cardiovascular equilibrium were observed.

7.      In some cases of asana performance the test participant failed to find the state of muscular equilibrium.

Here, while they were performing the asanas, the muscular tension, the ABP and the heart rate parameters were also increasing, yet neither muscular discharge nor hemodynamic compensation that accompanies it occurred.

At the height of the muscular and hemodynamic tension the testee could register the state of the ultimate subjective discomfort up to a very strong desire to come out of asana. It was at that moment that expressed emotional responds emerged.

We have defined this state as muscular tension jamming, by analogy with the energy jamming within the channel (A.G. Safronov, “Yoga: Physiology, Psychosomatics, Bioenergetics”).

After the testee’s coming out of asana the hemodynamics parameters were coming back to their baseline gradually; rather often this process was a fairly lasting one (up to 10 minutes).

8. There is an interesting fact of rationalization of the tensions that were not overcome and made the testees cease performing the asana (in this case it goes about the defense mechanisms of one’s psyche).

A part of the test participants managed to actualize the problematic, constrained zone.

The tensions determined by a big part of the test participants as significant were in fact inappropriate since objectively they were not the ones that made one come out of asana (“the floor was too hard to stand on”, etc.).

It shows that if body zones/areas are really problematic or they are topical to work with, one’s consciousness often tries not to notice them, to circumvent them. Because if a problem is revealed one will have to work with it, so it is easier not to see it.

Such situations are not rare. You may remember your first steps in Yoga: it was almost impossible to sense and even to see the spinal curvature zone without instructor’s help – you thought your were sitting with your back straight.

Hence comes a very important conclusion – even in its work with one’s body Yoga is oriented onto the advance of one’s mind, onto extension of the apperception limits. In fact, even Hatha Yoga has never been only a means of “making one’s body fit”. Yoga is the means of body and mind development; in Hatha yoga it is done through cognizing one’s body and mastering it.

 9. Both in case of finding muscular equilibrium as well as in case of failure we were able to detect the hemodynamic and vegetative profile of the testee that was clearly revealed at the height of the systemic hemodynamics parameters.

 10. The “habitual” asanas have not evoked any significant changes in SBP, DBP and HR.

The case: test participant F. (fem.), 35 years old, 5 years of Yoga experience, the asana – Yoga-mudra.

 

SBP

DBP

HR

Notes

Baseline

105

79

82

 

The parameters immediately after coming into asana

105

75

76

 

After 1minute of staying in asana

106

74

83

 

After 2 minutes

105

75

77

 

Immediately after coming out of asana

110

79

82

 

Hence we can make the following conclusion: habitual postural poses level eventual hemodynamic effects.

This in its turn levels training and development effects of asanas and pranayamas in case they don’t come as something initially “uncomfortable” or in case the complex is not subjected to upgrade.

Besides, this point demonstrates tremendous abilities of the human body’ adaptation reserves as well as the possibilities of managing the organism’ vegetative functions.

General summary and commentaries:

What does affect the organism is the performance of a new asana, and this factor is more significant than the performance style (power yoga or yoga done in the state of relaxation).

A new non-habitual position of one’s body will by definition engage problematic zones (that need to be worked out).

A new position predetermines the intensity of hemodynamic load to the same extent that the intensity of muscular tension does.

In the course of doing an asana the following stages can be singled out:

- the stage of coming into asana;

- the stage of initial changes – intensification of hemodynamic modifications, muscular search;

- the stage of activation peak;

- the stage of discharge (possible and preferable, yet not always fulfilled);

- the stage of muscular equilibrium formation depending upon successfully performed previous stage;

 - the stage of coming out of asana.

Thus an asana can be defined as a meditation of the body and in the course of its performance there occurs intelligent, conscious* search for a conceptually new (for a practicing person) and at the same time harmonious (the one leading to the state of muscular equilibrium, and maybe tendinous as well) position of the body **.

It is this very performance that also facilitates training of the cardiovascular system. Besides, it allows developing the skill of sophisticated management of the vegetative effects from the side of the NS.

This singles Yoga as a practice out from a number of purely sports procedures. Out from the habitual concept of working with one’s body as seen from the point of the Western medicine.

*A conscious approach is essential for finding, precise defining of the problematic zone, sensing it, and that is – for one’s capability of working it through. An asana without it lacks the desired curing effect, or this effect shall degrade significantly.

** To learn more about meditation in Yoga refer to A. Safronov’s blog “Yoga-Sutra – Commentaries of the Modern Mystic”

Elena Akhramieieva

29.07.2013

Запись опубликована в рубрике Articles, Yoga & Science. Добавьте в закладки постоянную ссылку.

Комментарии запрещены.