By Yogi Ashwini

Asthma is characterized by dryness in lungs as a result of loss of sukra from the body. This hampers the normal supply of air, leading to respiratory disorders. The book, ‘Sanatan Kriya, the Ageless Dimension’ details the causes of loss of sukra from the body and provides techniques to prevent its loss and also for increasing its production in the body. In this article, we will be discussing certain techniques from the book, to tackle the specific condition called ‘asthma’.

For the lungs to function at their optimum level, one needs to optimize the expansion and contraction of abdomen by maximizing the movement of diaphragm. This reduces pressure on lungs while optimizing its efficiency. This might seem technical; however it is so simple that even a newborn baby knows the trick. All you need to do is get back to nature, to Sanatan Kriya.

Pranayam: Close your eyes and sit in with your back straight. While inhaling, expand the stomach [diaphragm is pushed downward] and on exhaling, contract it [diaphragm is pulled back up]. Keep your awareness on the breath. Produce a gentle hissing sound from the pit of the throat as you exhale. This is Ujjai Pranayam.

Breathing in ujjai, has the twin effect of first heating and then cooling the body. In the process, all the impurities are killed, and the entire body including the lungs gets revitalized. While optimizing the functioning of the lungs, the practice also acts as a purification process. This can be practiced while keeping the back straight, whenever the stomach is empty and one is in a clean environment.

Cleansing with Jal Neti (Nasal Cleansing): When the weather is changing, the environment is full of allergens and these allergens often contribute to problems like asthma and for an asthmatic, aggravate the problem. An effective technique to prevent allergens from entering the body is Jal Neti.

Take 500 ml of bearably warm water in a neti pot, add half tea-spoon black/rock salt and a pinch of turmeric. Stand evenly, bend slightly forward and tilt the head at an angle of 45 degrees towards the left. Insert the nozzle of the pot into the right nostril. While breathing from the mouth, tilt the pot so that the water flows into the right nostril and flows out of the left. Repeat on the other side. Breathe normally afterwards. Saline water is the best cleansing medium, which absorbs and scrapes away infectious pathogens accumulated in the nasal passage. Turmeric is a disinfectant, antiseptic and scouring agent.

This can be followed by putting warm pure ghee (made out of cow's milk) to a bearable temperature. Lie down flat on your back and let the head hang down, bending the neck backwards. Using a dropper or spoon, pour about 5 drops of ghee in each nostril in a way that it does not flow down towards the throat but back towards the head. Keep lying in this position for 5 minutes. Ghee lubricates the nasal passage and strengthens the mucous membranes against infections.

In the next article we will cover some asans as well as an ayurvedic cure for asthma.

Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and an authority on the Vedic Sciences. His book, 'Sanatan Kriya, The Ageless Dimension' is an acclaimed thesis on anti-ageing. Log onto to www.dhyanfoundation.com for more

A judge in New Zealand followed by another in India have created history and maybe controversy with a single verdict; they have given human status, therefore legal rights to certain rivers in their countries! In New Zealand it is the Whanganui river and in India, the Yamuna and Ganga!

Now they are to be recognized, the world over, as people!

As mountaineers with heavy gear climbed the mighty Everest, they heard rumblings beneath their feet, “Everest is angry!’ whispered the Sherpa guides as they trembled within themselves.

“How can a silly mountain be angry!” said the climbers and heard a rumble underneath, a cascading of snow and soon they were in for a merry tumble which was not too merry as they realised they could have easily fallen into a chasm. “Looks like you are right!” said the climbers hastily, “looks like Everest is angry!”

But it wasn’t just Everest as the world soon discovered, but mountains and hills all over, soon joined by rocks and trees, even pebbles and stones.

“What’s happening?” asked people, looking at volcanos threatening to erupt and seas ready to create a tsunami, “What have we done wrong?”

“Why only rivers?” asked a wave lashing the beautiful shores of a Sri Lankan beach, while it’s sisters did the same in Australia, “haven’t we carried your ships across ourselves?”

“Haven’t we prevented invaders from attacking you?” asked the Alps to little Switzerland.

“Protected you from the vagaries of the weather, given you shade and firewood?” asked a thousand trees with a mighty roar in the Amazon forests.

“Why only rivers?” they cried and people all over fled under their beds or into their cupboards, hearing the mighty sound.

The representatives of different countries, meeting at the UN, huddled together to find a solution. “We cannot ask these learned judges to reverse their decisions!” they discussed, “Because now that the rivers have tasted human rights, they will not want to give it up!”

“How right you are!” shouted the Ganga, and echoed by the Hudson outside the UN building in New York.

“We don’t want our fruits eaten!” cried the trees, “People call themselves vegetarians, and eat us up! Not fair!” they cried.

“And no wearing boots with spikes when you climb on us!” cried the hills and mountains.

“Okay!” shouted a learned judge from China, who people say was a descendent of Confucius,”Calm down everybody.” He brought a giant screen and placed it in front of the angry rioters. “Now here is what is happening all over the world. Tell us whether you want human rights?”

The mountains and trees, the oceans, volcanoes and others looked at fighting in Syria, racial violence in America, stone pelting in India, rapes in Africa, then slowly looked at each other. “No!” they cried, “We are happy as we are..!”

And the world returned to normalcy again.

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With all Indian airlines refusing to fly the MP who had bashed up an airline official, and with political leaders not willing to give up their fists and chappals, it looks like a stand-off is on the cards.

“The only thing we can do,” said a worried official of the government, “Is to have another mode of transport for our political leaders, where their violence need not be curbed and will not be noticed by the public!”

“Why not have an airline especially for them?” asked his assistant brightly. “We could even call it PoliticAir!”

“That’s a very interesting thought!” said the official, looking at his assistant with admiration, “An airline that caters only to our political leaders!”

“We could have robots as flight attendants, steel ones, so they can be punched, kicked, slippered and thrashed, but have the flexibility to rise again and serve without a change in expression!”

“And without making such a hue and cry over some measly twenty- five slaps!” sighed the official. “We can even have punching bags dropping instead of oxygen masks so our revered leaders can vent their anger on flight whenever they want! There’s so much for them to be angry about, with all the stone throwing, and other acts of violence all over the country! Those punching bags will help bring peace to their troubled minds!”

“Sir!” said his assistant, “We may have to build special airports for them. The counter staff at our present airports won’t handle them! The country will need funds for this!”

“Of course!” said his boss, “We just add on a VIP Fly Tax on top of the airport tax, on top of the travel tax, the fuel surcharge and flying insurance! There’s nothing in our country that’s unsolvable!”

“What about the pilots sir? They may refuse to fly?”

“There is no problem that is unsurmountable,” said the official with a smile, “Every politician will be given a crash course on flying as soon as he or she is elected! And since we are a democracy, they can elect one from their midst to fly them on every flight! Come let us go and tell our minister sahib this new idea, and get it implemented!”

The official and his assistant walked down the corridor to their boss’s office. They opened the door, at the most inappropriate time, as a slipper thrown by their master hit the official, who fainted.

“Take him away!” shouted the political leader angrily, “Did he have to open the door, just when I am practicing my slipper throw? Anyway, what did he want to tell me?”

“Nothing sir,” said the assistant looking at his fallen senior with dismay, “Nothing! He just wanted to wish you a safe journey as you drive back and forth to Delhi..!”

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By Yogi Ashwini

Hanuman is the giver of gyan. When there is gyan, avidya vanishes. And then automatically all the problems also go away. All our problems stem from avidya. Avidya, which connects us with the unreal. It is because of avidya that a human being attaches him/herself to health, finances, relationships, social status etc…all of which are unreal. Unreal because, they are temporary and are bound to leave us, and when they leave, they leave us in pain. Think about it, is there anything in the physical world which you can hold on to, or which will not leave you? Even your own body is not your own and will be left behind. Yet all our life we keep chasing the temporary and getting troubled by it – this is avidya.

There is a famous episode from the life of Hanuman, where as a child he swallows the sun. Surya is the epitome of gyan, in being inside Hanuman, it is indicative of all the gyan of creation residing in this mighty energy.

Let us distinguish gyan from knowledge here. Gyan is the experience which you live through, it is granted by your Guru. Knowledge, is for the brain. The former dissolves the ego, the latter makes it shoot up, tying a being further into unreality and taking him/her away from reality. Ego, in fact, is considered as one of greatest barriers in yoga.

Take a look at majority of the learned men around you, you will find their egos touching the sky. Hanuman, on the other hand, was a gyani. An incarnation of Rudra aspect of Shiv, he was unparalleled in might and power and abilities, yet he made his place at the feet of Lord Rama. He was a gyani and so he dedicated his life to supporting the incarnation of Vishnu in its task of preserving the Creation.

Hanuman Jayanti marks the day when this phenomenal shakti took an earthly form. The energy of Hanuman exists on earth even today, but in a semi-dormant form, as there is no one to awaken them.Hanuman Jayanti is powerful day to awaken the force of Hanuman, through specific mantras and yagya, as prescribed by your Guru. This normally has the effect of wish fulfillment.

At Dhyan Ashram, a specific yagya is performed on this pious day to awaken this force, all are welcome to experience the effect of this awakening.

It's essential to awaken this dormant force.....what other day than Hanuman Jayanti!

Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and can be reached at www.dhyanfoundation.com

By Yogi Ashwini

Navratras come twice a year and mark transition in seasons, winter-summer and summer-winter. According to ayurveda, during this time, one should consume nourishing foods and in minimal quantities to rid the body of the toxins collected during the rains. The nine nights and ten days of navratras hold within them the energy of ten forms of shakti– shailaputri, brahmcharini, chandrakanta, kushmanda, skandmata, katyayani, kaalratri, mahagauri, siddhidatri and aparajitha thus each navratra has a specific purpose. In the navratras weather changes, ie, various energies of this creation move from imbalance towards a new normalcy, including our body. In these nine days the prana shakti inside our body undergoes a process of re-alignment, ie from imbalance to new balance for new season.

For this re- aligning the body has to be kept light. Therefore our ancients prescribed fasting or upvaas in these nine days.Upavaas has a much greater connotation than what it is generally misunderstood as - mere holding back from eating certain foods. At Dhyan Ashram, sadhaks observe Upavaas in its aunthentic sense, that is, giving up pleasure to observe austerities during sadhna. This is done by celibating, eating food for energy, not sensual pleasure, following a niyam of the sadhna your Guru has given you - a mantra, dhyan or a tantric practice where senses are kept under strict control and the focus is your ishta deva and all your thoughts and actions during those days are devoted to the ishta-deva. Charity and service are an intrinsic part of such sadhnas. During navratras these fasts are observed for purification as well, both etheric as well as physical.

Apart from fasting, there are certain mantras also which are chanted on these days for a complete body detox. For the beginner, these nine days may be divided into 3 parts of 3 days each for the three parts of body-  the region below the navel, between navel and shoulders and the upper head region, corresponding to the energies of goddess sarawati, goddess lakshmi and goddess durga respectively. The 9 devis originate from these 3 devis which in turn have their origin in Adi shakti. These 3 parts are further divided into 3 parts each, thus the body is divided into 9 parts in all.

In the first 3 days the sadhak stops having spicy food and performs a havan at the morning and evening sandhya with the chants invoking ma durga. Offering of kala til along with ghrit is made and desi cows upla and palash samedha is used. In the next three days, sadhak stops intake of anna and only light foods are ingested in order to keep the body light. Havan for Ma Lakshmi is done at the two sandhyas by making offering of a sweet along with ghrit . In the last three days, the sadhak only consumes water and juice (not even milk as it is considered an animal product) and havan for Ma Saraswati is performed at the two sandhyas by making offerings of ghrit and guggal. On the 10th day, complete fast is kept and once more Ma Durga or Ma Kali is invoked as on this day Ravan had invoked Ma Kali and Ram had invoked Ma Durga. This process brings about the required re-alignment. After this, the sadhak performs his sadhna and chants specific mantra as prescribed by his/her Guru. With yog sadhna, all the energies that are invoked come to the sadhak. Navratras are days to prepare your body in order to accept the new energies of the coming season. For 9 days you re-align your body and after that on the 10th day accept new energies.

Most people lighten their bodies by fasting for 9 days, only to make it heavy on the 10th day by crowding to restaurants and liquor shops. It is something like you clean your room and after that you bring all the garbage back to the room.  Fasting or any such technique will bear fruits only if carried out with a sense of detachment, for the purpose of evolution. The Guru knows the capacity of a shishya and prescribes a fast depending upon his/her requirements. Therefore it is of utmost importance to observe fasts in tandem with yogic practices such as the Sanatan Kriya under the sanidhya of a Guru to reap maximum benefits.

Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and can be reached at www.dhyanfoundation.com