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Yoga elements have been worked with for millennia in many different contexts. Although formalized primarily in India, they have been looked at, worked with, and transformed by other ancient cultures.

Yoga stimulates muscles, improves circulation, allows important inner peace, and creates ability to work with energy. For spinal cord injury, although it is important to work with a teacher to learn practices, the most important components are done alone.

Individual practice is the time for true inner work and deeper communication. The injury-blocked, physical pathways will have opportunities to speak and share their energies. This communication can come symbolically, by dream, and by work on subtle levels. Basically, when the subtle bodies make deeper contact with consciousness, you become aware of the deeper messages held within the body.

Such contact will be an important turning point in yoga with respect to SCI, allowing the individual to face helplessness, work with constructive approaches to karma, and finding the way in which they could work with the energies all of that they have built up in terms of thought forms, assumptions, negative inner messages, deeply held beliefs, and various aspects that would otherwise be unconscious.

Though varied in approaches, most yogic disciplines will intertwine some aspect of consciousness with breath. This can lead one to go deeper into their own unconscious, dredging up difficult issues in an entirely different context, and receiving those messages peacefully in a place of calm and opportunity to absorb and receive them openly.  This will often have tremendous benefit psychologically.

Kundalini yoga is a difficult area because some who have delved into it based on various writings have harmed themselves. This is particularly possible with SCI because Kundalini practices can bring up much electrical energy through the spine, creating even more nervous-system difficulty - even increasing scar tissue. Nevertheless, kundalini has tremendous potential when used under a skilled teacherís guidance to improve functioning, break through barriers, enhance the nervous system, and ultimately continue various spinal-cord, regenerative processes.

Various yoga-related energy channels are symbolic of or connected to subtle-body energies. These are primarily found in the etheric body or holochakra as a duplicate of the spine with a direct relationship to DNA spiraling and the capacity for the causal body to bring in various patterns.

The bodyís foremost channels are the Shushmana, located in the spineís central column (an energetic counterpart of our spinal cord) and the Ida and Pingala channels (the energetic equivalent of nerve plexuses that radiate out from the cord) that crisscross through the Shushmana.

After an injury, there is an energy build-up in areas adjacent to the actual severing of nerves. This, in turn, will tend to energize those areas in the subtle-body representation (i.e., spinal-cord double or the para-spinal cord). As they become more energized, these points will continue to share energy across the injury site at the higher subtle level.

The difficulty comes when you realize that many physical injuries actually begin at the subtle level. Those with sufficient ability to perceive this can actually prevent injury. They can sense where the injury is in the subtle body, bring this out in the consciousness, and look at the issue; by so doing, they can prevent an accident and physical harm because they can then look at underlying issues and clear them before becoming physical.

However, what this means then is energetically, although there will always be some connection and some ability to transfer energy across the gap or rejuvenate harmed or degenerated area, there will still be a difference. It may be discolored. The subtle energies may move in other directions. They may move with a backward twist or shift energy in a spiraling motion away from the injury site to other subtle bodies back to the site and so on.

It is useful to determine these movements to have a deeper sense of this. Yoga is excellent for this process. When one is in the quieter place yet in a physical posture, movement, breathing, and through all of these aspects that you are aware of, it is easier to draw attention to your visualization of what is happening in the spine and receive the messages, ideas, pictures, and sounds.

One must be open to whatever modality one is comfortable with. Many respond well to kinesthetic modalities. So have the sense of breathing into the site and having it breath back to you, feeling, sensing, observing, having the sense of what that may feel like if you breathed it, touched it, rubbed it, etc. not necessarily with the hands either but with any part of oneís consciousness or of the imagining of the physical body. Then move to a different posture. Receive similar energies and notice the differences. Do not make conclusions from this process but simply be aware of these energies so that deeper communication can be established.

In kundalini yoga, energies move up and down the spine through channels, which have analogs in acupuncture meridians. Various aspects of Sufism, especially its clockwise and counter-clockwise movements, enhance interaction with various subtle bodies - from physical through etheric all the way through emotional, astral, mental, and causal. But it must be some way in which the individual is themselves attuning. This is where yoga shines so well because such an attunement is made with some degree of physical interaction. The body is moved, and the breath is stimulated. The individual is a part of this physical process while they are working with the various postures.

Regarding the postures, it helps if the spine is involved, although often difficult for those with SCI. Hence, a typical posture for spinal benefit is the cat pose and its variation which entail spinal alternate stretching and compression. Such poses are tremendously helpful when coordinated with breath. However, for some individuals with SCI, they would be impossible without appropriate body-support assistance. To some extent, the postures can be worked with through visualization, watching someone else do the posture, taking a portion of the posture at the same time, working with it in oneís inner sense, remembering what it might of felt like if done before injury, or a way in which your imagination is brought in. The body is otherwise posed appropriately, and one is able to breath with the posture or a portion of the posture.

Downward-dog pose is also helpful. With assistance, an injured person often still can be positioned in the pose, particularly if done with knee rather than full leg support. Furthermore, it does not demand much movement.

Frequently, it is the movement or switching between postures as one is focused upon the breath and energy transitions that the various revelations, belief patterns, and deeper insights will show up. 

It is similar in some ways to playing a musical instrument. As one works through the capacity of working with the energies at different levels, one becomes more familiar with it, comfortable with it, and does not have to think of the mechanics. This allows the subtle energy to move as needed.

By itself, kundalini yoga has cured SCI. Traditionally, this is an ancient practice known to the more secretive healers who have trained for many years. Similarly, you see many other disciplines that focus energy in the back area, such as qigong.

What is usually determined first by various means is the connectivity or the way in which the energy moves across the injury site at the subtle level. This must be corrected first. Sometimes the teacher will allow this by movement of the hands. But what is more typically done is to breathe with the student, to allow energies through the postures as best they can be accomplished by the teacher and student at the same time. This allows a new energy model to be transmitted. Although this is more typical with qigong, it also occurs with yoga and it can occur in times when the student is not fully aware of what is happening.

This process is somewhat similar to hypnosis, and, in fact, engaging of the sub-consciousness and hypnotic processes have a long tradition in many Vedic, Hindu, and other Indian-based aspects of yoga and various meditations. The opportunity to move out of the conscious mind and to quite it is one of the bases of hypnosis. And this allows the individual a new model. The opportunity at the subtle level to re-strengthen and remodel the para-spine is essential in these disciplines.

The way to accomplish this can of course be from many different pathways and can be accomplished in so many diverse areas. This brings up the idea of mixed yogic disciplines, for instance blending Kundalini with Ashtanga, or various other non-yoga disciplines. The downside is that it is more difficult to fully learn if one is working with multiple specialties simultaneously. Still though, if an individual has an attraction for one or two and can focus on these to the exclusion of the others, this can be more beneficial because this will enable that place of quietness, the opportunity to come to self examination, and re-strengthening of subtle energies.