CAUTION
: this exercise has not undergone any medical verification. It should NOT be practiced by individuals carrying a pacemaker or other electronic health-appliances. NOR by individuals with cardiac problems and myopathies in general, without prior medical consultation or supervision.


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Franco Dell'Oro - Street 173-1 #3 - P.O. Box 4543 - Asmara, Eritrea.

Tremor Yoga - and more!
   
 
 


The word yoga is here used as it can aptly be applied to the practice which is going to be described, however in this context it is not describing a psycho-physical discipline with its origin the Far East and, as well, dynamically it is the very opposite of typical hata yoga methods where absolute stillness is required in any of the various yoga postures (asanas) employed. That it may bring about some results similar to those achieved in laya yoga, in respect to what is symbolically described as the coiled serpent in Kundalini yoga and as well in the yogic practice of the psychic heat, (tūmmō) as evidenced from purely subjective experience, is indeed likely, however this practice is mostly a tonic and therapeutic exercise and, in this respect, of all things which life may offer us there is only one which we would never forsake: good health!

Tremor, as an intrinsic manifestation of our psychophysical constitution, is indicative of certain metabolic changes under particular situations such as fever, illness, physical discomfort, extreme cold and psychological stress such as fear, rage and a variety of other circumstances, both physical and psychical. As such it reflects certain states of our psychophysical stand due to sustained biochemical changes within our organism, changes which can be traced to the release of diverse neurotransmitters from the synapses in our neural networks.

Although tremor is an autonomic property of the nervous system indicative of homeostatic unbalance we can easily imitate or feign it to a certain degree by a deliberate act of will and a set goal.

 


The exercise here described in itself is, initially, very easy in that it simply consists on generating a vibrational effect throughout the body, not dissimilar from shaking and trembling and akin to the vibration caused when you yawn and stretch your arms’ muscles. This can be effortlessly obtained by acting on the muscles in the body's trapezoidal, abdominal, and lumbosacral regions, in unison or separately, in so many ways as a practitioner can devise; anyhow, just to give an example: clench you fists and draw your scapulae inward and you will experience a sustained vibration taking hold of your torso. The more you pull your muscles, the stronger tension you apply to them, the stronger the resulting vibration. This is not dissimilar from a stretching exercise but for the fact that stretching, by itself, will not generate sustained vibrations unless some other muscular structure is activated, as from the example above: if we just clench our fists we will obtain muscular tension in both arms, but if contemporaneously we pull the arms backward and the scapulae inward (the latter action also expands the chest) a vibration takes hold of the whole torso.

Given the easiness and lack of particular training with which tremor, or muscular vibration, can be generated it appears that it is an exercise that anyone can practice independently of sex and age and, nonetheless, even in those cases where physical ailments are extant. All in all it requires just a conscious act of will and giving due time to the exercise itself; as stressed above, tremor can be obtained in a variety of ways that can best suit, or satisfy, the practitioner’s exigencies. While is just a matter of simple practice to devise a method which is personally more suitable, the vibrational activity should be extended to the abdominal and the perineal regions so that the vibration is fully felt all the way between the neck and thighs. It takes practice, but this is the part of the exercise where similarities with laya yoga and psychic heat (tūmmō) may be discerned and where health may be influenced for better. It goes without saying that coupling the exercise itself with a beneficial breathing practice, regarding which a description will be found below, will surely add to its positive effects. However, in the latter case, at least initially it is not easy to properly direct the mental concentration to two simultaneous activities, namely that of maintaining a steady vibration and that of sustaining a regular, conscious, breathing exercise. That will be achieved with due practice and the process will become automatic; if so willed, since the tendency to concentrate on the bodily vibrations apparently is stronger and both activities must be properly synchronized.

   

This exercise activates all the paraspinal muscles, namely, the muscles that run next to, and roughly parallel with, the spine. They consist of many small muscles that are attached to the vertebrae and control the motion of the individual bones, as well as assist with the larger motions of the whole trunk, or core, area. Nearly all skeletal muscles in the human body work in pairs; while one muscle is contracting, or getting shorter, another muscle must get longer to allow movement. Together with other muscles, they help support the spine and keep it in proper alignment. They also limit the range of motion of the spine, which helps to prevent injuries to the disks and spinal cord caused by overextension. The paraspinal muscles do not work alone; they are part of an interconnected network of muscles that wraps around the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. All these muscles work together to protect the spine and allow movement within a safe range.1 Basically and in an extremely simplified description, the process behind the exercise can be traced in the following metabolic processes: we know that the resonant frequency of a nerve impulse is of about 360 cycles per second and that it can reach, under excitation, a maximum frequency of about 500 cycles per second. As well, we know that when a nerve cell is stimulated a single electrical impulse starts from a value of negative 60 millivolts, crosses a zero point and rises to a value of 60 positive millivolts; this potential then falls again, crosses the zero volt threshold of the cell's membrane, and again becomes 60 millivolts negative when the nerve cell comes to rest again. These differences of potential and frequency in the nervous system act on the permeability of the nerve cell’s membrane consequently favoring greater or lesser biochemical activation and exchange. Electrical signals sent down motor neuron axons to a synapse called the neuromuscular junction cause muscles to contract; when the axon fires from the synaptic vesicles in the nerve ending the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (an excitatory neurotransmitter released at the ends of nerve fibers in the somatic and parasympathetic nervous systems; it is a derivative of choline) is released in the nerve ending from the synaptic vesicles. The neurotransmitter receptors on the muscle fiber are stimulated by the acetylcholine and cause the muscle to contract. Hence, and not unlikely in the case in object, we have an important modulation of the nervous system resulting from a balancing biochemical reaction which, in the last analysis, is what lies behind good health. "The cell is indeed a machine";2 it is within our powers to tame it.

This means that the exercise acts on all the components of the nervous system favoring, mechanically, a relaxation between tissues while, from a neurological and electrochemical point of view, we can envisage sustained favorable biochemical processes with a tendency to promote physiological equilibrium and in some instances even healing of certain ailments.


As related to personal experience, this exercise was devised in response to the excruciating and intractable pain generated from cervical spondylitis and the constant heavy need of analgesics in order to try living a normal existence. Pain neurons are squeezed between each vertebra of the spinal column. While pain may originate in our nerve endings, it is processed and channeled only through our spinal cord; here it is where endorphins - the neurotransmitters which are the natural opiates in the human body - regulate the pain naturally. The immediate result of this exercise which, above all is based on a sustained activation of the intra-spinal nerve fibers was neither healing nor reshaping anew the encrusted cervical vertebrae, but a remarkable remission of pain and long intervals between attacks which were almost daily. Hence a long practice with the technique itself and variations of the same followed so much so that the exercise, which can be practiced at leisure anywhere, has become almost addictive. Deep relaxation ensues after the exercise; a breathing exercise is practiced altogether.

In some instances, although not invariably, another effect, not easy to come about and reminiscent of what is what is known as psychic heat is that the abdomen and subsequently the thorax and above experience an intense pleasurable heat; in this particular case time and mental relaxation play a prominent part. Another physiological effect is arousal which may be sustained indefinitely so long as the exercise is carried out, and this happens if during the induced vibration constriction is applied to the muscles in the sacral region. This last effect, which very likely is cardinal to some practices of Tantric yoga, is brought about spontaneously and without any physical contact or mental imagery - namely, without induced stimulation whether physical or mental - hence it unmistakably indicates that the arousal mechanism of the brain is spontaneously affected; to state it differently, it unequivocally testifies to the strong metabolic and physiologic influence that the exercise exerts. Together with the psychic heat, it suggests similarities with some practices related to laya yoga. Additionally, applying force to both the sacral and abdominal muscles by forcibly pulling the buttocks together will give rise to “spikes” in that some jerky muscular contractions will abruptly raise the trunk if supine; since this may issue also as a sudden and violent reaction, proper control is necessary.3 However, properly controlled and stabilized at a reasonable intensity, it will bring about an orgasmic effect terminating in momentary deep relaxation. Properly forcing - without undue exertion which could bring about "spikes" - only the abdominal and coccygeal muscles to the exclusion of all other muscles will give way to a soft, almost subliminal, vibration in the whole organism. Possibly this should be the aim of the exercise since in the latter case the least effort is required and the best result obtained. With due stress on the fact that the observed results are strictly subjective, as a closing remark emphasis is to the effect that the outcome of the exercise is a substantial sense of power, of accumulated energy. Why this? Possibly due to the fact that in this instance you are consciously taking partial control of that which controls you. In other words: depending on the effort which you exert to applying force to both the sacral and abdominal muscles you will feel some sort of sensation in the lower spine, by the coccyx, a sensation which you can extend, by forcing the exercise, all the way up to the first vertebra at the base of the brain. Here, apparently, you take control not just of your muscular setup, but of the nerve fibers – an extension of the brain within the spine - relaying signals to the same, that is, control of your nervous system. The arching of your spine, or eventually "jerky spikes", will also be subject to your control and modulated as you wish.

It may not be farfetched thinking that, under proper supervision, this exercise might help several myopathies, diminish seizures in epilepsy, reduce compulsive behavior, and therapeutically aid other ailments since brain stimulation can potentially help in a wide range of disorders.

Breathing is the most obvious and vital process of everything that thrives on the planet - it is the basis of biological life - but man normally misuses it since as a rule he has something else to think about; we just breath in an automatic way as dictated by our autonomic nervous system and our life goes on at its best immersed in the beautifully polluted atmosphere of this gorgeous spot in space, as we think it should but that might not be the case. Breathing is a sensorymotor act integrated by nervous influences that arise from nearly every level of the brain and upper spinal cord. In higher mammals and especially man, respiration subserves two major functions, one of metabolism the other of behavior. Breathing is both an art and a discipline and as such it is disclosed and taught in many diverse forms of breathing exercises more or less exotic and we may have proof of that in any yoga treatise but we are simple people and as such we may cling to something easy and effective, like that which follows.

We do not need to sit in the lotus posture or choose any inconvenient position which will simply avoid relaxation because we would have to get used to it; our exercise may be carried out sitting comfortably on a chair or lying on a hard surface. It is well if our spine is kept erect and straight as that will make it easier to properly oxygenate ourselves, as we well know from the fact that a folded balloon is not so easy to inflate. A quiet dim or dark environment obviously is preferable and it is left to us to decide whether to keep our eyes slightly open or closed or fixing the sight to the place within the bony box above the neck where our pineal gland is supposed to lodge. This said, the breathing should be carried out with no forcing as stress might obtain the opposite result and be noxious, while timing among inhalation, retention and exhalation as well should follow a natural unforced pattern although this will change by itself with time and exercise. It is not just oxygen and vigor that you are taking in because the mind as well is a primary beneficiary of the breathing exercise. So as you will not get a good painting from a painter ill at ease, in the human being the painter is the brain, the mind is the canvas and the appreciating spectator is the psyche and you should visualize this with your mind's eye, namely, both the physical and psychical benefit that you derive from a good breathing exercise. Altogether any good breathing exercise reflects the Hindu's concept of life-force, or prana. Not barely oxygen and vigor, but a total benefit of both body and mind.

The breathing itself should be as follows:

Inhale, slowly and naturally but with a perfect consciousness of that which you are doing, filling first with air, as much as you can, the part of your body at the height of the abdomen so that it looks like a reversed beggar's bowl; then without stopping the intake fill yourself to the height of the stomach (this will to some extent deflate the beggar's bowl) and after that up and above the sternum just to have the feeling that the intake of air, now your chest fully inflated, reaches all the way up somewhere around or above your neck or, still better, that it envelopes your being completely, just like a chick is enveloped in an egg and here have a pause - retention - just so much as it is comfortable than slowly exhale, to complete emptiness, in the reverse order and here have a short pause before the next cycle of inhalation. The inhalation and exhalation should be performed through the nostrils.

The immortals of ancient China are thus described by Chuang Tzu "The true men of old slept without dreams and waked up without worries. They ate with indifference to flavor, and drew deep breaths. For true men draw breath from their heels, the vulgar only from their throats."

It is hard to say what the meaning of "true men draw breath from their heels" may be, nor a plausible explanation has been given, much less that they walked on their lungs and that we should imitate this difficult art, but we may take it as to mean that a little auto-suggestion, like in anything else may help. The breathing from the heels implies a perfect and total oxygenation of the organism, we might in the exercise close our eyes and imagine the air coming in from under our soles and leaving our body from the fontanel, the yogi's Brahmarandhra or "Aperture of Brahma" corresponding to the junction of the parietal bones of the skull on the crown of the head. And to keep up with the little auto-suggestion, we might even visualize the air that we inhale as a source of life-giving essence, or light, with the color of a white-cold light or eventually a nice color which is pleasant to us and leaving the fontanel just like the water leaves a fountain to complete its cycle. This breathing pattern should become an integral part of our life so much so that it should become so much as possible instinctive even in normal activity aside from any concerned exercise.

Whatever sensation is experienced while doing the breathing exercise, like cold feet, numb arms, or images crossing the mind: just let them have their way, do not heed them, you are simply not concerned with them. Your task is to get to the top and apex of the pyramid and everything else has its own life apart from you, mind it not. Mind control is very expensive in terms of psychic energy and the effort to control your train of thoughts, to get rid of them and to "think-not" very often is a stumbling block. The "heed them not" is psychically much more economical but where it meets some difficulty, a little visualization may be effortlessly and profitably employed. Just imagine two rails well spaced apart, ending nowhere into oblivion and that you thoughts can move only on these rails, whichever way they like. The rails are immersed in nothingness, nothing laterally and nothing in between and if any thought strays it is just lost in nothingness. Focus your attention on the empty space between the rails and let the thoughts go their way, you are concerned only with the void or naught in between the rails. That will require little if any effort and will be effective.

If you are keen on meditation practices, something additional is indeed worth trying; its import will be self-evident as we read along.

When we look at a building in its complex, we perceive its outlines; then within the same its distinctive features strike our imagination: nice outfits and ornaments, or old and falling apart, or whatsoever. We hardly, if ever, give a thought to that which is hidden beyond the plaster, namely, bricks, stones, cement or whatever keeps it standing. Sadly, we normally do the same thing when we look at or think about our physical temple. We perceive an image and appreciate its youth, or its beauty; or we despise its manifest old age, or its ugliness and all sort of things. All in all we perceive a living entity, so dressed, so moving, so behaving, or so attractive or so repulsive. We look at it just like we look at the building above mentioned; we hardly if ever give a thought to the hidden structure which lies beyond the skin and bones which keeps it together. We are struck and narcissistically attached to the outward appearance. This hidden structure however, as we are too well aware, is made up by a myriad of living organism at a very primitive level, acting in concert – the cells which make up the various important organisms within the body itself. Each of these cells, singly among thousands of billions of them, has a life of its own, a motive power and intelligence and thence this temple of ours, as such, is not an individual living being but the sum total of uncountable microscopic organisms’ lives, each thriving with an exact purpose, an unerringly set goal. As to the purpose of this remark: so much so as it is useful to look within our mind, on the other side of the rope something equally precious is hanging but we never give it proper attention. We are hardly conscious that these myriad of lives are the very pedestal not only of our physical frame, but as well of our mind and that this complex frame of ours should, likewise, be properly visualized for what it is and not from the outward appearance of the structure. Looking at ourselves in such a wise a different reality is perceived, a greater, incomparably richer image teeming with life strikes our mental vision and widens its horizon towards border-less visions. Calling it “our physical temple” is not inappropriate because here it is that, like in prayer in a holy place, a greater discernment of our real place in nature, as well as a greater understanding of the nature within ourselves develops and matures; a keener view of what we really are.

Adapting this vision as it better suits you, you should cling to the same while doing the tremor exercise, possibly at that level which above was termed as subliminal vibration. Here you may find yourself as rigid as a corpse but, nevertheless, you will have the unspeakable feeling of every single atom vibrating in your organism.

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1 - "... [Fridtjof] Nansen made the fundamental discovery that all nerve fibers upon entering the spinal cord immediately divide into two branches. One runs up the spinal cord toward the brain, and the other branch runs down to the tail. This structure-governing the route of entry of all sensation into the nervous system-holds true for all animals, from fish to humans." R. Douglas Fields, Ph. D. - The Other Brain - p 30 - Simon & Schuster - 2009.
This discovery, at the end of the 19th century, parallels on the material side the discovery, on the abstract side and thousands of years old, of the Hindu's nadis, namely ida and pingala (subtle nerve channels, conduits of prana). While no scientific contemporary notice of this fact appears on record, it is a most important fact worthy of full investigation. On the other hand, see Sir John Woodroffe "The Serpent Power" chapter V: "The Centres or Lotuses (Cakra - Padma)" published by Ganesh & Co, Madras 17 - 1972.
2 - Jacques Monod - Chance and Necessity, p. 108 - Fontana books - 1974.
3 - Caution: this reaction may possibly be due to some sudden nuclear discharge in the brain and result in unpredictable adverse effects on the CNS (Central Nervous System). From a neurophysiological point of view, these sudden, abrupt autonomic reflexes (sudden uncontrolled movements of the cranium) akin to concussion might also cause organic brain damage. Hence this reaction must absolutely be avoided.