Saturday, June 27, 2020

Book Review; The Science of Breath

Science Of Breath
A Practical Guide
Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine M.D.,
and Alan Hymes

Reviewed by Trina Perdue
ChayaVeda YTT Student

I had so many moments of “aha!” while reading this book, For example, I've always wondered why houses seem to fall in on themselves or go into disrepair so quickly when no one lives in them. It's like they know no one is inside breathing! The answer is prana! How can we be walking, talking, laughing, growing, blinking, etc.. one minute, and boom! Something can happen that stops the  breath, and it all stops-the heart, the “animation” is gone and we decay. Prana no longer occupies that body.

This book states that “prana is the link between the body and mind”. It's what animates us and it flows through the universe. Our breath is how we connect to it.

In the very first chapter, first page, in fact it says many of the amazing “feats” a yogi can accomplish or perform are done by first controlling the breath. By the end of the book it made perfect sense!

From our western view, most of our day to day dealings are with the material things. Yoga sees us as multifaceted, beings. In this lies that “power”. Our breath is the only thing that can be either voluntary or involuntary. If we can take control of that, we can open that window to control of things we didn't know we had control over! Our breath changes with our emotions and physical condition, so doesn't it make sense that if we can take control of our breath, it will in return affect our emotions and even our physical condition?

Physically, there are so many things about how and where the breath goes that will govern what we see and feel as the outcome of  taking a breath. The nose is much more than just something to hold up glasses on our face. It has many jobs- preparing the temperature and humidity of the air are just the first things. The nose is centrally located so that new air comes into contact quickly with the brain, nervous system and pituitary gland. Then there's the first cranial nerve, which is how we process scent.  There are 3 types of breathing- clavicular, thoracic and diaphragmatic. Diaphragmatic is the most efficient. Because of gravity, the blood is already in the lower lungs. This will give the blood the highest amount of oxygen. We tend to be shallow breathers today, which is obviously not the ideal scenario. Negative emotions (fear, jealousy, rage, and sexual issues etc...) are held in the lower chakras. We tend to hold our diaphragm tight and not breath fully. We lock those emotions down and pile them up, not letting them be released through the breath.

We don't always breath the same volume of air through both nostrils. The coordination of this is called the “infradian rhythm”. We can even use this to our advantage depending on what task we are trying to accomplish. This has to do with the left/right brain, the nervous system, and the Ida, Pingala, and sushumna nadis. Here is where we get into pranayama. Ideally, with control of the breath, practicing and focusing, we can learn to let those held emotions, negative beliefs, and judgments release. We can get prana, first flowing up and down through the Ida and pingula, then up the sushumna

This book gives the processes you can use, but also warns that some of them need to be taught by experienced yogis. In getting the prana to rise through the sushumna, we are given a feeling of extreme joy. I believe also, that this leads us to genuinely see our true nature, which is being one with each other, the universe and all things. 

Once we see that, how can we not love each other?  

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Out Of Many, One

Guest contributor Sierra Kantamneni
ChayaVeda Intern and UF College of Journalism
The past few weeks have been nothing short of surreal. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and thousands of other Black Americans have changed the world. Protests internationally for Black Lives have ignited the much-needed conversations and steps to create permanent change. 

As a first-generation Indian immigrant, I have witnessed the rampant anti-blackness in my own household. From the colorist roots in the Indian caste system to the infamous Model Minority stereotype, Indian culture perpetuates anti-blackness and ignorance. The conversations I have had with my family since the inception of this movement have been poignant and visceral, and most importantly, transformative. We recognized our privileges as non-Black people of color and how we directly benefit from the systems that continue to terrorize Black Americans. Our presence in the US is thanks to the efforts of those who fought during the Civil Rights movement. The passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965; which lifted restrictions on immigration into the US, was a direct product of Black-led activism. Staying silent is complacency. We must use our privilege and voices to seek justice for the Black community.

As the protests gained momentum, my social media flooded with resources on how to aid the Black community and ensure the movement generated long-term change. It is easier than ever to educate yourself and learn about the systematic racism in the US and be an informed ally. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have not participated in the protests as my father is imuno-compromised. If you are in a similar position as me and cannot protest, do not fret! There is still much you can do. There are thousands of virtual petitions you can sign to open old cases or investigate those where the system simply failed in seeking justice. If you have the financial means, you can also donate to relief organizations, victims, Black-owned businesses, etc. Another method, and arguably the most imperative, is education. I have been reading books and watching documentaries regarding the Black experience in the United States, and the systems in place since the slavery-era that continue to oppress Black Americans. There is simply no excuse for ignorance. I urge you all to truly take the time to learn, listen, and understand the injustices rampant in our country. 

I commend those who are on the front-lines of the movement despite the risks, and for all the change these protests have brought. People from all backgrounds have united for this cause, and have already generated substantial change. Governor Andrew Cuomo (NY) recently released several reforms to the state in regards to police brutality and racism. From banning chokeholds, outlawing racial 911 calls, and only allowing independent prosecutors to represent in cases against the police to eliminate bias, Cuomo has facilitated the incentive stages of permanent change. Furthermore, several Confederate statues across the country have been toppled, the most recent being the fall of Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham in Richmond, VA. Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields recently resigned after the murder of Rayshard Brooks, and is now evaluating methods of reform and rebuilding trust in the community, And lastly, Minneapolis has committed to dismantling its police after George Floyd’s murder. In the words of his six-year-old daughter Gianna, “Daddy changed the world.”

All in all, it would be foolish of me to say we could undo centuries of systematic racism in a week, but this is a promising start. Now more than ever, we need to unite and take a firm stand against the racism, police brutality, and flagrant oppression Black Americans face each day. We must speak up for them, and ensure that the justice our country promises to all of its citizens is served. Our country’s motto preaches inclusivity, 
E Pluribus Unum”, meaning out of many, one. Out of many states, one country. Out of many people, we are all the American people. 

Link to petitions, donation sites, and other resources:



Black-owned businesses in Gainesville:

Black-led LGBTQ+ Organizations accepting Donations:

Innocence Project:

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Innocence Project

ChayaVeda is founded upon six core values; community, empowerment, healing, respect, passion, and honesty. Now more than ever, it is important to honor our values and stand together as one as we fight for the ones whose lives were lost due to racism and years of injustice in our society.

The other night, I was watching America's Got Talent with my family. A man with the name Archie Williams performed the song "Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me" by Elton John. The lyrics took on a whole new meaning as he told his heart-wrenching story. Archie spent 37 years of his life in jail due to a false accusation of rape. Archie was a poor African American kid and did not have the means to fight for justice. His fingerprints were not found at the crime scene, and three people testified that he was home, but that was not enough. He spent 37 years of his life in jail. More than half of his life was taken from him. About ten years into Archie's imprisonment, the Innocence Project took on Archie's case, and 37 years later, DNA freed him.

This story does not end with Archie. According to the Innocence Project, it is believed that 20,000 people in our nation are falsely convicted. That is 20,000 innocent people who are not able to experience the full beauty of life. To this date, the Innocence Project freed 367 lives. 61% of the wrongly accused people were African American.*

This is a problem.

We, as a nation, need to do better. We can do better.

How can you take action?

Donate to the Innocent Project:

Educate yourself on Wrongful Conviction (Movies and TV Series):

Donate to the George Floyd Memorial:

Support the National Police Accountability Project:

Donate to the Bail Fund Program:

*The demographics of the 367 people are the following:
225 (61%) African American
110 (30%) Caucasian
28 (8%) Latino
2 (1%) Asian American
1 (<1%) Native American
1 (<1%) Other

Guest Contributor: ChayaVeda Intern, Alyssa Alalouf,
UF Anatomy, Physiology and Applied Kinesiology Major