Mark Tassi

Holistic Health the Way Nature Intended

Tag: pranayama

Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important ingredients to health, not just physical health either, and one of the biggest pitfalls in the journey of health is not getting enough sleep. Sleep is absolutely essential to good mental health as well as anyone who has been sleep deprived undoubtedly knows. Sleep is more important than eating, as important as drinking and almost as important as breathing. Sleep recharges the physical battery and organizes the mental apparatus. Without sleep, we find ourselves soon being unable to function properly, even more so mentally than physically.

In this modern age of technology and alarm clocks and ambition, capital gains and schedules, adequate sleep is often overlooked. The one who “sleeps in” is regarded as unambitious, lazy, unfit for modern society. “Burning the midnight” oil has, in this modern era, been associated with the hard worker and what we call a “go getter.”

But what about sleep? What about recharging the battery? We’re all too enthusiastic about charging the iPhone but not generally nearly as enthusiastic to charge the apparatus which we inhabit, which we use every day all our lives. When I mentioned to a friend of mine, God bless him, that the alarm clock was an “evil” invention, it was met with ridicule. Why? Because if we need an alarm clock to wake up, then we haven’t slept enough. They now even have apps which are specially designed to help you to force yourself from a sound sleep. If forcing yourself from a sound sleep seems natural to you, then you’ve undoubtedly become indoctrinated by modern times. I’ll go even farther and say that you’ve been bamboozled by it!

Our body’s natural clock is set to the natural cycle of Sunrise and Sunset. When it gets dark, the body begins to produce certain hormones which encourage sleep. At dawn, the body stops producing those hormones. That’s why that if you get up at night and turn a light on, it’s often difficult to get back to sleep. The light fooled the brain into thinking that it was time to get up. One time, I accidentally shined a bright flash light in my eyes while camping at 2:30 in the morning. That was the end of my sleep for that night.

Keep in mind that the homeland is the tropical forest. The nearer we get to the equator, our natural home, the closer is the length of the night and day to one another. On the equator, our origin, nights and days are about 12 hours in length year round. At the equator, the Sun rises at around 7:30 and sets at around 7:30 year round. Before the advent of technology, light bulbs, candles etc., darkness in the tropical forest would allow for us to do little else other than sleep. It would have been dangerous never mind impractical to do much else. In these modern days, 12 hours of sleep is regarded as excessive, but if we look back to more natural times, that would have been just routine.

Early nights and waking up when the body naturally wakes is what our bodies are designed to do. We are diurnal creatures designed for activity during the day and inactivity at night. The best hours of sleep come before midnight, but certainly when it is dark, completely dark. The best sleep, the best rest comes when it is completely dark without any hint of light as it would have been in the forest at night under the tropical canopy.

Today, I didn’t have to get up at any particular time. Last night I went to bed fairly early. So I slept until I naturally awoke. Today I am absolutely super charged. Admittedly there are more factors in this feeling of unlimited energy than just sleep. Proper diet, a diet which does not usurp much of the body’s energy for unnecessary digestion, proper hydration, Sun shine, deep breathing and physical activity are essentials. But all of these things mean much less without enough sleep.

Sleep friends. Sleep. Get early nights, nights early enough so that we awake naturally, without the aid of an alarm clock. Recharge that battery! Don’t let so-called ambition or downright disorganization interfere with one of the most important factors in being the human dynamos that we naturally are!

Pranayama

Sunday last, I attended a Spiritual development workshop at The Aetherius Society in Hollywood. This was led by Reverend Brian Keneipp, executive secretary of The Aetherius Society in Los Angeles and based on the course of pranayama exercises as given by the late Dr. George King in his book, Contact Your Higher Self Through Yoga.

As a practitioner of these ancient breathing exercises for a number of years, the course was an excellent refresher and was suitable for both beginner and experienced alike.

As anyone who lives knows, breath is vital for life. One can live weeks without eating, days without drinking, but only moments without breathing. Of the three then, breath is the most vital.

The ancient Yogis, wise beyond all basic conception, devised exercises to enhance health, not only on the physical plane, but also on the mental and psycho-spiritual planes as well.

As breath controls the entire nervous system, one can, with the correct breathing methods and diligent practice, not only control the physical nervous system, but the subtle nervous systems as well, affecting one’s entire being and vitally enhance the quality of one’s whole life from the basic physical function to the highest spiritual aspiration. And what is more, definite steps towards this can be accomplished in as little as 15 regular minutes per day, and in material terms, a bargain worth its weight in star sapphires!

Let’s have a more detailed look at how this works and why it should be.

Prana

Prana is the basis of all life, of all health and well being. Prana, or the Universal Life Force, is the basis of all energy. One cannot have good health without a consistent intake and flow of prana. Food is but one source of this vital foundation. As previously mentioned, as important, or even more important than food, is the air we breathe, the liquid we drink and as important from a spiritual view, the actions we perform and the thoughts we think. With this perspective, diet, then, takes on a much broader concept consisting of all sources of not only energy intake, but the output of energy as well. Prana is a flow of energy, diet, in its broadest sense, being the intake of all aspects of this energy from it various sources. Health, on the other hand, is the result of the proper ingoing and outgoing of prana. As one must breathe in for life, one must also breathe out.

Source of Prana 
 
All manifestation on Earth is the result of Sunlight. All prana comes from the Sun. There are five major and five minor pranas; each flows from the Sun for 32 minutes each, making for a complete cycle of 160 minutes. It is said that an auspicious time for the practice of pranayama, yoga deep breathing, is 160 minutes, in that an even intake and charge of all the five pranas can be accomplished. An interesting point of note is that modern science has recently discovered that the Sun goes through regular cycles of expansion and contraction lasting periods of exactly 160 minutes. What the scientist discovers today, the Yogi has known for thousands of years, the human nervous system, sensitized by the strict application of Yogic principles, is still the most sensitive of all instruments.
 
All matter on Earth, then, is but crystallized Sunlight.
 
How does one charge oneself with this prana? Besides Sunlight, as mentioned previously, the three ways in which prana is accessed is through the breathing, drinking and eating. Of the three, breath is the most important. Again, one can live for several weeks without eating, several days without drinking, but one can survive only a few minutes without breathing.
 
Deep breathing, then, is one of the finest ways to charge oneself with the Universal Life Force. Good health, both physical and mental, can never be achieved while one fails to breathe deeply. Research has shown the there is a direct correlation between breath and the nervous system. How many times have we “calmed the nerves” by taking deep breaths? Consistent, steady, controlled physical and mental activity can only be achieved while one is breathing deeply. 

Rev. Brian Keneipp discussing yoga concepts with attendees.

Pranayama

To take the principles of deep breathing to the next level requires the scientific application of pranayama or yoga deep breathing. The ancient Yogis devised systems of physical, mental and spiritual development through the control of breath. On the purely physical level, deep breathing oxygenates the blood. Oxygen is required for nutrient absorption and enhanced oxygen boosts the metabolic rate. Converting food to energy requires an alkaline PH and deep breathing helps to increase alkalinity. Deep breathing also helps to move the lymph which in turn results in decreased toxicity by as much as 1500%. Deep breathing calms the central nervous system resulting in greater mental clarity and enhanced physical function and performance. Pranayama breathing exercises are numerous and I will make no attempt here to teach pranayama or give exercises in this space. There are many books on Yoga which contain certain of these exercises. Having said that, one would do well to find a carefully devised course of breathing exercises put together by an experienced Master of yoga. This, however, while certainly available, may not be as easy it would at first seem. I would recommend the booklet, Contact Your Higher Self Through Yoga, by Dr. George King, available through The Aetherius Society.

To your health,

M