THERE are two types of class I always take at a yoga festival. One is a class I’m most familiar with and second is one I’m most unfamiliar with. The first is to deepen and refresh my prior knowledge in case I’d left something important in my daily practice. A gentle reminder, I can say. The second helps me broaden my views. This type of class is very much exciting as I see myself as a triar.
Ronan Tang brought us in that quite humid afternoon a reminder of how crucial and vital but almost forgotten our heart really is. This is an organ that shows one’s life. Once it stops beating, it means an end of a life. And thus, the health of it guarantees a productive, full life.
Getting to Know our Heart
What is unique about heart is that it’s one of very few organs in human body which never gets attacked by cancer. “Have you ever heard of heart cancer? No!” he convincingly quipped.
He has an argument. Heart is an organ that constantly works throughout one’s lifetime (besides small intestines). Because our heart always moves and pumps blood, it’s very hot by nature and cancer cells can’t thrive in it. “Cancer cells are like mushrooms, they can only thrive in humid, dark places. They can’t survive in a place where sunlight is too much. They die instantly.”
That being said, Ronan can’t stress more on the importance of keeping our extremeties (body limbs such as arms and legs) warm. But this warmth is not produced by external heat source. The heat must come from inside, i.e. one’s heart. A healthy heart can pump blood strongly so as to keep the furthest bodily parts warm and well circulated with oxygenated, fresh blood. So he advises that if one wants to stay healthy, always make sure that one’s hands and feet are warm.
When one is attacked by any type of cancer, more focus is put on how to get rid of cancer cells. Seldom do people try to seek a root problem of this. Why do cancer cells grow there? That’s a question one needs to address in the first place. Ronan mentions the importance of having extra energy in the ‘dantien’ to warm up the lower and upper extremities (feet and hands).
Besides showing how healthy one is, feet can also indicate one’s aging process. People grow old from their feet, Ronan said. Normal and healthy babies usually have warm, supple and soft feet. Old men have just the opposite condition of feet. Their feet get dry, cold and hard.
Ronan points out that if we want to take care of our heart better, we must pay more attention to how our feet and hands stay warm all the time from inside. It’s a sign of a normally-working, healthy heart. Another sign of healthy heart is normal, fully functioning reproductive organs.
Afterwards, the next question is: How can we maintain this ideal warmth in our hands and feet and at the same time, cool down our head? Because our problem these days is that most people usually experience this: cool dantien but warm (or hot) heads.
How to Care for Our Heart
Taking care of our heart where anahata chakra lies is the key to getting rid of various illnesses, disorders resulting from imbalance. “Your mind and body determines everything,” Ronan pointed out.
When someone is trapped in a vicious energy pattern which eventually drags them to the abyss of suffering (whether it be anxiety, depression, cancer. etc), it’s vital that the heart is once again revitalized so as to bring more energy to someone’s soul, nourishing it to deal with whatever challenges life may bring.
The first step to break this evil circle is making efforts to concentrate our mind on the inner self. “And then from there, we can bring the fire down,” he added.
Whenever obstacles get in the way to bring heat down, fix the root problem first. First thing first: correct our bodily posture. Provide enough space for heart by avoiding hunching too often and too long. “Beneath our heart lies our diaphragm. When we get stressed out, diaphragm keeps pushing up against our heart, leaving less space for heart to expand. Because to achieve a healthy heart, it should expand itself. When it can expand, it can receive blood.”
After the heart is revitalized and thus full with energy, the next step is channel the energy down to our extremities. “Problems arise when the energy is stuck around our chest. To channel it downward, we stay away from too much cold foods and drinks, or eat too little or too much.
What is interesting to me is when Ronan stated that it’s not enough with meditation only. After concentrating your mind on clearing all blockages, the next thing to do is move our body to manifest this improvement process. Meditation (which involves visualization of channeling energy downards) is therefore not enough to achieve holistic health. One must also move the physical body.
Techniques to Apply
Now we arrive to the most practical part of the class, which I like most. Here are some tehcniques for us (especially for those with cancer and other terminal diseases) to apply on daily basis Ronan recommends:
- Deepening and prolonging breaths: This is done by opening our thoraxic area (chest) and practicing pranayama. Performed correctly, this is effective to release tension in heart. A simple breathing technique to release is take a deep breath and then hold for a few seconds and then exhale slowly from mouth.
- Thunderdrum: Imagine you’re like a gorilla punching its chest with its fists. This move may activate T cells which are helpful for our immunity system. This is good for people with cancer. Pressing the center of sternum is also effective to get rid of stress and anxiety, indicated by shallow breaths.
- Releasing the superficial layers of myofascia: You can do this by pinching gently your own skin, from the lower waist to shoulders. Ronan says it helps us prevent breast cancer.
- Energy clapping: In the morning, use your hands to slap your body softly but powerfully. The parts of body to slap on are ones where accupressure points lie. This technique is to create space for lower dantien. One may slap from several dozens to a hundred in a single session.
- Laughing is the best medicine: It’s not the external artificial medicine that cures us but our chi, our own energy, that can cure our diseases. This can be done by gently beat chest with fist in the morning while mouth is half open to let out the air. Laugh and play with children when you feel stressed out to release any tension in the heart. If one finds it hard to laugh, try emulating laughs by pronouncing “hahaha” for several minutes.
- Changes of lifestyle: Ronan highlighted some lifestyles these days that he thinks is not worth it. To take care of heart, avoid at all cost modern lifestyle such as partying all night long, drinking liquor excessively. He also advised that one reduce sexual activity when getting older and under unfit conditions.
Ronan also challenges some modern approaches that see and cure illnesses unholistically. Such as when someone suffers from a spine problem, s/he is told to strengthen back and abs muscles. That may be effective to some extent but doesn’t necessarily address the root of problem. “Where does the energy come from in this case? From our kidney. Because our kidney and our lower dantien are connected. They both give energy to our spine.” (*)