Yoga and Oriental Medicine

Dr Hiroshi Motoyama, Ph.D, Institute for Religion and Psychology, Japan

After two years of research I reached the conclusion that yogasanas, pranayama, bandhas and mudras have been brilliantly developed from a thorough knowledge of the nadi system, and the results of twenty years research in our institute have proven that the meridians of Chinese acupuncture and the nadi system are essentially the same.

Asanas: Prana can accumulate in the joints resulting in painful diseases such as rheumatism, neuralgia, backache, etc. To release this accumulation everyone should practice simple exercises daily to ensure the free flow of prana. Bending the toes, rotating the ankles, twisting the wrists, clenching the hands, etc., take but a few minutes to perform and effectively release prana which accumulates in these areas causing painful diseases.

Pranayama : Daily practice of nadi shodhana will induce calmness, remove pranic blockage and balance the flow of prana in the ida and pingala nadis, leading to a general purification of the body. This pranayama is an indispensable preliminary to meditation and should be practiced under the guidance of a teacher.

Bandhas: Moola bandha is performed by contracting the perineum while holding the breath. The special contractions associated with the bandha bring energy upwards in an effort to unite the lower and upper pranas and to create a healthy and harmonious state of body and mind. Similarly, in Chinese medicine, acupuncture treatment is given to the sansho or triple heater meridian to create a balance in the body. Sansho means 'three energies' and treatment of particular points along this meridian aims to harmonize the upper, middle and lower body energies. The effect is therefore similar to that of performing moola bandha and it is my feeling that moola bandha was created by Indian yogis out of an awareness of this energy channel or meridian.

Mudras: Khechari and vajroli mudras are used to awaken swadhisthana chakra. As the swadhisthana chakra controls the genitourinary functions, it is related to the kidney and urinary-bladder meridians. The tongue position in khechari mudra stimulates a point on the kidney meridian at the back of the palate which affects the genito-urinary organs and therefore stimulates the swadhisthana chakra.

Although the Chinese and Indian cultures evolved differently, they did in fact both possess a similar knowledge of the workings of the energy system. The Chinese developed acupuncture and the meridian system; the Indians developed yoga and the system of the nadis. They did later seem to exchange their views and influence each other. For example, the triple heater meridian mentioned above which has the same effect as moola bandha is quite different from the Chinese concept of yin/yang dualism which is the basis of acupuncture theory. This meridian seems to have been a later addition to acupuncture and was probably influenced by Indian thought. The asanas, pranayamas, mudras and bandhas of yoga are cleverly constructed from a thorough and deep knowledge of the directional flow and function of the nadis or meridians. Furthermore there is a definite relationship between the chakras and the nadis and meridians, and also the internal organs.