Educing the Relaxation Response through Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga
Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga
Dr ANANDA BALAYOGI BHAVANANI
MBBS, ADY, DPC, DSM, PGDFH, PGDY, FIAY, MD (Alt.Med), C-IAYT
Chairman ICYER, Pondicherry www.icyer.com and
Director CYTER, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth. www.sbvu.ac.in
• Charles Warner wittily said, “Everybody talks about
the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
• In modern times, we all seem to talk so much about
Yoga, but don’t do anything about experiencing it!
• “Atha yoganushasanam” says Maharishi Patanjali in
his very first verse.
• Yoga is to be experienced through mindfulness.
• We can never really ‘do’ Yoga, but we can prepare
ourselves for the ‘experience’ of Yoga.
• Vairagya is the key in developing objectivity towards
subjective experiences obtained through Abhyasa.
Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga
• We can experience states of expanded consciousness
through Hatha /Jnana Yoga relaxation techniques as
codified by Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri in
the Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga tradition.
• This wholesome system focuses on Yoga as a “Way of
– cultivation of wholesome lifestyle,
– adoption of health promoting diet,
– development of unbiased attitudes with
– bountiful practices for positive health.
THE GITANANDA TRADITION
• Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri (1907-1993)
• Union of Bengali Tantric tradition (Swami Kanakananda
Brighu) & South Indian Shaiva Siddhanta (Srila Sri
Kambaliswamigal)- Mantra, Yantra & Tantra.
• Modern scientific expression of ancient Yogic wisdom
• ICYER at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry has a modern
Gurukula environment where small numbers of select
students live with their Guru and become family.
• Present Acharya: AMMAJI, Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi
Bhavanani and lineageholder: Yogacharya Dr Ananda
SOME CORE CONCEPTS
• Yoga as a 24*7 way of
• Create Gurus not
• Breath is life- great
emphasis on Pranayama
• Wholesome approach
to Ashtanga Yoga of
• Step-by-step approach
• Love for Indian culture
• Bountiful practices in a
• Yantra, enabling one
to evolve in tune with
• Mudras, divine
• Jnana, Raja and Laya
A systematic and conscious adoption of attitudes
resulting in deep experiential states of relaxation.
1. LETTING GO
• We need to let go of our prejudices and
• Let down our barriers to the much needed
advice and help.
• Let go of all false notions and materialistic
idolatry built up in modern living.
• In particular, to let go of the “God of Tension”
which is virtually deified in “civilized” society.
2. GIVING UP
• We must develop a firm desire to give up the
stresses and strains that beset us.
• Does not mean surrender as popularly
suggested by the English term “to give up”.
• Conscious throwing off of weaknesses that
build up tension, and to let off those foolish
tensions that turn us into smoking volcanoes.
• “Giving up” as used here is a conscious,
positive, relaxing and evolutionary process.
3. GIVING IN
• This in the Yoga concept of relaxation, is to
“give in” to the dictates of the Inner Mind, the
• Again, this is a positive process and is not the
giving in of surrender.
• There is no negation or abdication of positive
actions or ideas.
• Initially it is an intellectual process, highly
exciting and satisfying, but must grow into an
even more transcendental state.
4. GIVING OVER
• The highest stage of relaxation where control
of mind is given over to the Highest Self.
• Ishwara pranidhana and Bhakti Yoga in action
• One thus merges into beautiful super-
conscious states of Samadhi indescribable in
mere human language.
• “Giving over” represents the peak of
fulfillment, a state of complete oneness, of
Hatha Yoga Relaxation Practices
• SPANDHA – NISHPANDA: Practices are performed
using the concept of tension and relaxation where
we first tense different parts of the body to the
maximum and then relax them to the maximum.
• SHAVASANA WITH AWARENESS OF BREATH: In
Shavasana the mind is focused on the breath and the
process of deep and rhythmic respiration. The feeling
of cool inspired air flowing into the nostrils and the
warm expired air flowing out of them is experienced
with awareness and consciousness.
This is a ‘22 point’ relaxation practice performed
from Shavasana. The body is relaxed consciously,
part by part, starting from the toes and
proceeding systematically to the top of the head.
This is a three-part relaxation technique in which
the lower, middle and upper body regions are
relaxed with a movement-breath combination.
On the in breath, the feet are moved inwards,
the arms outwards and the head turned to the
right. The reverse process is performed on the
• VIBHAGA PRANAYAMA: Sectional breathing in low,
mid, and upper regions of the chest. This effect is
enhanced by use of specific Hasta Mudras.
• PRANAVA PRANAYAMA: Patanjali says that, Pranava
is the vibration of the Supreme Self. The Pranava is
also known as the “Maha Manta”, the Manta of all
Mantas. Using specific Hasta Mudras, the vibrations
of the Pranava A-U-M is resonated throughout the
lower, middle and upper parts of the whole body.
• SAVITRI PRANAYAMA: Regenerative & rejuvenative
breathing practice performed in ratio 2:1:2:1 and
various Talas such as 2,3,4,5,6, etc. It can either be
performed from Vajrasana or Shavasana.
• NASARGA MUKHA BHASTRIKA: Nasarga Muka
Bhastrika is forceful expulsion of breath through
mouth that can accompany different movements to
relieve pent up stress.
• CHANDRA PRANAYAMA: Exclusive left nostril
breathing in 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. Patients of stressful
conditions can benefit by practising this Pranayama
27 rounds before breakfast, lunch, dinner and before
going to bed.
JNANA YOGA PRACTICES
• YOGA NIDRA: This can be either performed in
Shavasana or any meditative posture. It can be used
for relaxation and to harmonize the body-mind-spirit
through powerful visualization.
Various forms are taught but in the system taught by
Swamiji Gitananda Giri, the energy is imagined to
flow in clockwise concentric circles starting as a pin
sized point at the solar plexus and slowly
expanding to finally be 6 inches beyond the head
and toes. Then the reverse process is performed.
Savitri Pranayama is the breath sequence to be
followed in this practice.
• ANULOMA VILOMA KRIYA: This Kriya affects the
basic polarity of the body, regulating the electrical
flow in the nervous system and the ionization of
cellular energy. It also produces deep relaxation.
In Shavasana, with Savitri Pranayama, the warm
golden Prana is visualized to enter from the top of
the head and flow out the feet on an incoming
breath. On the outgoing breath, the cool silvery
Apana flow is felt to enter the feet and flow through
the body and out the top of the head. This is
continued until a deep relaxation occurs.
• Swamiji taught us that ‘we’ are the source of our
problems. If we are to solve them, we need to
change our attitude.
• An egocentric perspective will never be able to
change anything as all the ego wants to do is survive
at any cost (abhinivesha).
• The Yoga Drishti (perspective) offers a more
elevated and conscious perspective of life that
enables us to convert our seemingly insurmountable
problems into mere molehills.