Activating our Pineal Gland “Third Eye”

The research of DMT caught my attention. That was one of our homework which we are required to do. Initially, I thought DMT is related to some D____ M____ Training.  I was wrong.

DMT refers to Dimethyltryptamine and is structurally similar to melatonin. The biochemical originator to both molecules is serotonin, a key neurotransmitter whose pathways are involved in mood and targeted in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.  DMT also structurally resemblances other psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin which is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms commonly found in the tourist belt of Bali.

One may think how is this related to our yoga learning?

Interestingly, yoga practitioners may have the same transcendental experience of those users of DMT and similar compounds report. Mystical union, contact with the divine, and communication with higher beings or intelligences are all themes woven throughout the path of Yoga.

Accessing higher awareness, both of the self and the spiritual world, is the primary goal of the various facets of yoga. Making use of kriya (postures), mantra (chanting), mudra (hand positions), and meditation (the stilling of the mind) yoga is said to help its practitioners achieve physical, mental and spiritual balance by activating the secretions of various glands in the body.

As we learnt from Master Ram, it is the pineal gland located in the middle of the head, occupying a masterful position in regulating human function produces melatonin, a hormone that profoundly affects us. The release is closely correlated to our sleep-wake cycle. Readily available as a sleep-aid for insomniacs, melatonin production is inhibited by light and stimulated by darkness. It peaks in the middle of the night, and more is produced in winter’s darkness. In addition to influencing sleep cycles, melatonin exerts numerous other important physiological influences, such as regulating

Pineal gland is seen as intuitive center in yoga and is commonly referred to as the “third eye” and the “crown chakra”. This centre of the body represents inner vision, intuition, dreams, and mystical / spiritual experience. There are countless reports of yoga reliably triggering spiritual experiences, sometimes in as little as 3 to 10 minutes of practice of yoga.

So what can we do to activate Pineal gland or known as the “third eye”?

Using Visualization meditation, a technique that harnesses the imagination to deal with stress and illness, improve motivation, and change negative attitudes. Through imagining sights, sounds, taste, or smell, you can positive thinking to restore and maintain good health.  You are able to sharpen your focus through a mental exercise, such as controlled breathing or repeating a mantra. It’s a practice based on calm reflection.

A simple visualization technique known as Candle Gazing Meditation (TRATAKA) is an excellent introduction to the art and science of meditation. People of all ages and stress levels can immediately feel the benefits. That’s because by keeping the eyes open and having an animated object to focus on it is easier to stay focused and enter a state of pure awareness, as we aim to in transcendental meditation.

Some of the benefits associated with TRATAKA are:

  • Improves vision/eyesight
  • Improves concentration and memory
  • Enhances patience and willpower
  • Improves productivity
  • Calms the mind and promoting inner peace
  • Improves clarity and decision making
  • Provides stress and anxiety relief
  • Deepens sleep and helps sleep related disorders
  • Strengthens intuition and clairvoyance

How to do Candle Gazing Meditation?

Set your space: as with any other meditation practice, the space around you is important to set the scene and get you in the zone. Dim the lights, perhaps using a himalayan salt lamp to give a warm ambience to the room. Make sure you won’t be disturbed and turn off any electronics.

  1. Put your candle on a surface in front of you: The candle should be around eye level so preferably use a table rather than the floor.
  2. Light a candle
  3. Sit in a comfortable position and around 1 to 1.5m away from the candle.
  4. Gaze at the candle flame without fidgeting or blinking. Your eyes are likely to water after some time but this is normal. Continue until you cannot physically keep your eyes open any longer.
  5. Finish by closing your eyes: When you close your eyes, you may see an image of the candle flame in your mind’s eye.
  6. Try to direct this image at your third eye chakra (the point between your eyebrows). When the image completely fades, reopen your eyes and repeat the process.

Candle gazing doesn’t have to be a complex practice, but there are definitely steps you can take to make it a more powerful and beneficial practice. Bear the following tips in mind if you’re considering a TRATAKA practice.

  • It is best practiced on an empty stomach so you don’t have energy directed elsewhere (digestion)
  • It works best as a night time practice, since you have more control over the lighting levels
  • If you practice during the day, you might want to consider blackout curtains to completely block out all light
  • Regularly trim your wick to increase the lifespan of your candle and improve the flame
  • Do not strain your eyes – it is better to keep a soft gaze than to stare
  • Rest your eyes after doing the meditation. Avoid straining by looking at laptops, mobile phones or watching television.

Regardless where we live, the current world is hectic and full of stress. We are bombarded with stimulus, perhaps pressured by money and job issues, insecure in our jobs, overworked and unhappy at work, constrained by the jurisdiction system and being apprehensive about the future. 

TRATAKA can be one of those efficient ways to practice meditation and is a great option for those who not only struggle to stop their mind wandering but also help mentally prepare those who yearn for success as they work toward the life of their dreams.

 

 

References:

Does Yoga trigger a natural DMT secretion in the brain?

https://holisticlifehub.com/blog/candle-gazing   

Energised with Pranayama!

By incorporating Pranayama a term for yogic breathing into your daily life, you can derive even more benefits from it. This type of breathing relaxes the muscles and helps stress melt away. People who practice pranayama regularly are happier and more relaxed. The beautiful thing is that you can do it absolutely anywhere.

The term Pranayama is derived from the Sanskrit words prana, meaning “life force”, and ayama, meaning “expansion or extension”. Together they translate to breath extension or breath control.

Pranayama, or breath control, is the fourth limb of 8 limbs of yoga. It is defined by BKS Iyengar in Light on Pranayama as the conscious prolongation of inhalation, retention and exhalation to help yogis develop a steady mind, sound judgement and willpower.

This means that the quality of breath determines the quality of our prana and overall vitality.

Be that as it may, don’t mistake prana for the breath itself – a significant number of us experience life breathing naturally however are as yet lacking in prana. This is on the grounds that a large portion of us don’t breathe into our full body consistently.

The natural breathing process sometimes only stops at the upper chest, especially when we are met with anxiety or stress. Even during the times we do breathe into the lower belly, our upper abdomen and mid-body fail to expand with the breath.

Pranayama breathing demands we “breathe into” the full body – not just the front torso, but also the sides and the back; not just the chest but the full belly, abdomen, rib cage and chest.

 

The Benefits of Pranayama

Pranayama requires us to be conscious about how we breathe. We actively extend the inhales, exhales and retention instead of letting the automatic breathing process take place. The sole purpose of this activity is to increase our prana and supercharge our health.

There are many different types of pranayama breathing techniques, some are meant to energize the nervous system while others calm our minds and bodies.

When done right, breathing can be have an energizing, relaxing and healing effect on the body and that is why practicing pranayama regularly is essential in our daily lives.

Research has shown that regular pranayama practice can (not limiting to the following):

  • Reduces stress and anxiety levels
  • Strengthen respiratory system
  • Lower heart rate to relieve tension
  • Lower/stabilize blood pressure
  • Increase energy level
  • Promote muscle relaxation
  • Stimulate lymph flow and hence immunity
  • Improve digestive system functions and many more

 

3 Pranayama Yoga Breathing Exercise To Kickstart Your Morning

Try spending just 5 minutes every morning for these breathing exercises. You’ll be amazed how these can transform your energy levels, making you more awake to start your day.

These morning breathing exercises are best practiced first thing when you’ve just woken up. You can choose to sit in your bed or on the floor. Just make sure that you are comfortable and able to sit up straight.

 

 

1. Dirga Swasam Pranayama

Dirga Swasam Pranayama or Dirga Pranayama involves breathing through “three parts” of the mid-body, namely the belly, the ribcage or diaphragm, and the chest. This is also known as the Three-Part Breath or Complete Breath.

One: Inhale through the nose, focus on the breathing deeply into your belly expanding like a balloon as the breath moves into your lungs, expanding your ribcage and chest. Then breathing out through your nose, tightening your abdominal muscles and drawing your belly button to the spine, allowing as much air as possible to escape from your lungs.

Two: Much the same, with an added step. Inhale through the nose, allowing your belly to expand, and then allow the breath to expand your rib cage as well. When you exhale through the nose, squeeze the air out of your rib cage and belly until they’re empty.

Three: Take it a step farther. Inhale through the nose, allowing your belly to expand as the breath moves into your lungs and rib cage, and then invite the breath into your upper chest, to your pectoral muscles and clavicle. Then exhale fully.

This is a great exercise to do if you are always breathing shallow, short spurts of breaths. It helps to calm down the mind and body almost immediately.

 

 

2. Ujjayi Pranayama

In Sanskrit, the word Ujjayi means to conquer or to be victorious and is therefore referred to as the Victorious Breath. It is also known as the Ocean Breath, because of the sound it makes when done correctly.

  1. With your mouth open exhale into your palm, imagining you are steaming up a mirror/ glass and feeling the warm breath on your palm.
  2. Creating a slight constriction at the back of your throat so you hear a HAAAAA sound as you breathe in and out.
  3. On your next inhale keep the hand where it is, breathe in making that same sound. Practise this for up to 10 cycles (4 count in, 4 count out, x10).

Unlike other pranayama practices which are mostly practised in a sitting or lying position, Ujjayi breathing can also be performed during an asana (yoga pose) practice.

 

 

3. Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhati Pranayama is known as the skull-polishing breath since kapala translates into “skull” and bhati means “shining”. It involves alternating passive inhales, and short but forceful exhales through the nose.

  1. Begin short sharp exhales out of your nose, drawing your belly in quickly as you breathe out to help expel the air from your lungs
  2. Your inhale is a passive reaction to the sharp exhale. As your belly relaxes the inhale will naturally follow.
  3. Repeat for 30 short, sharp exhales, and then take a few regular breath through your nose.

Kapalabhati oxygenates the blood quickly and rejuvenates the mind and body. It helps to release toxins, improves digestion, reduces stress, warms the body and increases energy.

 

Try them! I hope you will feel energised, uplifted and calm after doing these 3 pranayama breathing exercises.

 

Have a happy day ahead.

Reflecting and resetting my knowledge of Yoga

I was introduced to yoga at least a decade ago. To me, Yoga was then considered as a mild exercise regime with movements incorporated with breathing techniques.

Fast forward, it has somehow become a habit for me to go for yoga classes in hope to increase flexibility, stamina and strength. However, I have been asking myself why my flexibility has not been improving and why am I not able to get into more advance poses like crow pose or even headstand?

With the current COVID-19 situations, classes were limited and it is even not possible to get postures corrected through zoom classes or online app. The only way to self-improvement, I thought was to embark on this yoga teacher training to gain the foundation of yoga and deepen my practice and knowledge.

The experience has been amazing and mind-blowing with Tirisula Yoga, and I believe there will be more to come until the day we graduate. Every week, we discover something about ourselves and our ability to achieve something I do not believe I can do it.

Our trainer, Master Paalu emphasizes the capacity of one’s mind. The works of the human mind and how the power can be unleashed to achieve what seems impossible. Using this application, he applies to our yoga movements.

Fundamentally, it is about thinking of the muscles moving in the body as we practice, can help them to work more efficiently by connecting it with our movement.

By adding conscious movement and visualization to our practice, we will be able to make our movements more intentional and the signals you’re sending to your brain will be stronger. Finally, the conscious movement then can not only lead to more effective practice but also better form, reduced risk of injury, and potentially better results.

Using one of the most common poses – Adho Mukha Shavanasana (downward facing dog), the engagement of rectus femoris and using hip flexors are important. The rectus femoris acts as a synergist of hip flexion and has increased activity with abduction and external rotation of the hip joint while hip flexors create stability in order to stretch the hamstrings and calf muscles, while opening the shoulders to improve overall postural alignment.

Through the yoga practices with Master Paalu, we learnt how to activate the correct muscle groups during poses and utilizing proper muscle activation and technique which will help prevents pain and injury and most importantly the breathing techniques that go along with the movements and transitions of poses.

Besides learning the asanas (known as poses), there are more to Yoga. Yoga is a practice for internal and external wellbeing which gradually increase my energy levels and overall happiness. We were taught not to focus only on the asanas but to practice integrated breath (for the soul) and meditation (for the mind).

Right now, I’m motivated and committed to learn and embrace the art of yoga building the foundation of deep yoga practice through asanas, pranayama coupled with mudras and learning of the 7 Chakras to find fulfilment in achieving mind-body-soul balance.