Moving Energy – Expansion or Reduction?
The play of opposites are common to many of the ancient traditions. In Yoga Therapy and in Ayurveda, the “sister science” to yoga, we speak of energy qualities of Brahmana and Langhana. These are the opposites of expanding energies (Brahmana) and contracting or reducing energies (Langhana).
We may loosely refer to these same ideas across many different traditions of healing and well-being. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the concept of Yin and Yang is similar. In modern, allopathic medicine, we look to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems of the larger autonomic nervous system.
All of the systems and traditions within these various practices recognize some form of “energy” in the body. It goes by many names: Prana, Qi or Chi, or response of the nervous system. There is wide acceptance that energy in the body does exist, that it has electrical and electro-magnetic qualities, and that it is extremely important to our health. It is common knowledge that sometimes we need to increase energy in the body. And also honor it’s opposite: the need to soothe, slow and calm the strong forces of energy in the body.
We practice the opposites in Yoga Therapy with postures (Asana) and yogic breathing (Pranayama). Examples are Sun Salutations to expand or increase energy in the body, or Savasana to relax or reduce the expenditure of energy in the body. With Pranayama we may choose to breathe very slowly as a Langhana practice, or flip our energy level to high with a Brahmana breath practice like Breath of Joy.
Managing Energy – What do you do first?
All yoga helps us “manage our energy.” Yoga Therapy is targeted and strategic. In Yoga Therapy we explore this concept of energy, balance, and the opposites of Brahmana and Langhana as we assess the five Koshas. Yoga Therapy recognizes the need to have balance within the five Kosha bodies: physical body, energetic body, emotional body, spiritual body, and bliss body.
- Describe and Assess. The first step in Yoga Therapy is to determine which area or Kosha needs to achieve a greater balance of energy.
- Evaluate and Listen. Yoga Therapists do not diagnose or treat conditions, that’s what doctor’s do! Yoga Therapists listen to their clients and determine what support the individual needs for their healing journey.
- Select and Co-Create. Yoga Therapy is a holistic exploration into managing life energy. The Yoga Therapist works with the individual to choose from a wide range of yogic “tools” for the greatest possibility of positive outcome.
- Organize and Evaluate. A Yoga Therapy practice program and plan is developed. An ongoing evaluation continues to allow the plan to flex based on the individual’s on-going needs.
Moving Energy with Brahmana and Langhana yogic practices
Yoga Therapy practices help individuals tap into the energy centers of the body. Through body awareness practices, energies can be felt. As we learn to become familiar with our own brand of energy and energy centers, we can move toward transforming and directing our own energy. The form of energy has specific qualities that relate to the Koshas. For example, physical body energy can be experienced as being energizing in the body. Emotional body energy can be noticed as a sense of calm, or its opposite: anxiety and stress.
Brahmana means to expand and heat up.
The effects of a Brahmana-styled Yoga Asana and Pranayama practice include:
- Warming and vigorous
- Increased metabolism
- Stimulated nervous system
- Sympathetic nervous system “dominance”
- Stimulated mind
- Heated body
- Energized and engaged
Langha means to reduce and “fast.”
The effects of Langhana-styled Yoga Asana and Pranayama practice include:
- Cooled and eased
- Slowed metabolism
- Relaxed nervous system
- Parasympathetic response
- Calm mind
- Relaxed and refreshed