Adaptation to seasons, external circumstances, as well as situations is integral to yoga philosophy. As the season changes, this post is a reminder to begin the adaptation phase. Holidays become markers to remind us to clean our house–homes, bodies, minds. Here are some suggestions to start the process.
Shatkarma: These are cleansing kriyas or practices. See the blog post Yoga Spring Cleaning: Digestive System (March 20, 2011). Cleaning the digestive system can be gentle or moderate through varied detoxification methods. From partial fasts, to high-fiber diets, to shankhprakshalan, there are many ways.
Asana: A gradual switch to more active routines from the relatively passive summer asanas is now appropriate. Active routines counter the slowing winter metabolism and help keep the body warmer. As the digestive system becomes more sluggish, a practice of surya namaskar/sun salutations can invigorate and improve the digestive process by toning and stimulating peristalsis.
Pranayama: The cooling summer breaths of sitali and sitakari give way to kapalbhati and bhastrika. The active breaths gently pump the belly and stimulate the heat-generating manipura chakra. The abdominal organs get a work-out. The respiratory system is flushed and strengthened.
Meditation: These practices remain steady. A greater inner focus begins.
We all know this. We experience its benefits every time we practice, whether at home or in a weekly class. In the Satyananda system of Integral yoga, in addition to favourites such as Yoga Nidra, we have a set of practices that cleanse our bodies, and clear our minds. We need therapy to counteract disease. If disease manifests in the physical body we often emphasise physical therapies. Similarly if disease manifests in our minds or emotions we seek out mental or emotional therapies. But because all these layers of our being are inextricably linked, we usually need to address our disease from as many levels as possible in order to clear it from every level. All forms of pranayama can be helpful because they work through the pranic body – the bridge between body and mind. The digestive system is the base of many diseases. When we have faulty digestion from poor production of digestive juices (commonly caused by eating the wrong foods at the wrong time, or by stress) then we have the potential for huge amounts of toxins in the gut. These, along with toxins from our environment and the effects of our own negative thinking, result in toxicity that is a playground for disease-producing organisms – hence our susceptibility to viruses, infections and so on. A healthy balance of flora (bacteria) in the gut is essential to good health and can be assisted by regular cleansing of the gut through Yoga cleansing practices. These cleansing practices also help to maintain the health of the gut wall – an important part of the prevention of allergic reactions. Poor digestion is behind many allergies such as hay fever, skin rashes, allergic asthma and even some forms of arthritis.
Thank you for your detailed comment which is well appreciated. It is interesting to note "We all know this." None of us know it all in yoga. In this blog's opinion, we all learn from each other with some sense of humility (an important aspect of yoga) and that process never stops for anyone if we keep ourselves open. This is what Swami Satyananda taught me.