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Dru Yoga for Healing

by Paulette Agnew(more info)

listed in yoga, originally published in issue 62 - March 2001

The gap between modern medicine, quantum physics and ancient forms of health care, is closing fast. At the centre of this paradigm shift in conscious awareness lies the power of the heart to heal. The science of Dru Yoga plays an essential part in this journey of discovery, as it works to heal through engaging heart power and through building bridges with therapeutic movement sequences between body, mind, emotions and spirit. Its popularity and appeal worldwide is growing because anyone of any culture can work with it either as pure Dru Yoga or as an addition to existing therapies and training.

Many eminent scientists of today are showing how, when we feel loved and have close caring relationships our immune systems are stronger, we can resist diseases more powerfully such as cancer, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and many degenerative conditions. Dr Dean Ornish in his latest book on love, intimacy and survival, gives one whole chapter to worldwide case studies proving this point. Candice Pert talks about molecules of emotion and how, when we are happy, we are more resistant to invading bacteria and germs. In his book The Dance Between Joy and Pain, Dr Mansukh Patel talks of the transforming power of love: 'Love is the part of us that is real, that makes us peaceful, content, happy and free. It is the energy that lies at the core of creation – the primordial force that brings everything into being. The great mystery that keeps everything going. No longer can we ignore our feelings, emotions and states of happiness and contentment as they are intricately connected to our state of health and overall wellbeing.'

Dru Yoga harmonizes the energy flows on a physical and emotional level to create complete health and vitality.(Photograph courtesy of Elna Obreen)

Dru Yoga harmonizes the energy flows on a physical and emotional level
to create complete health and vitality.(Photograph courtesy of Elna Obreen)

Dru Yoga Activates Heart Power

Dru Yoga is essentially a yoga of the heart in that many of the postures and sequences are designed to activate the Anahata chakra or heart centre. A healthy heart both physically and emotionally is imperative for a happy and fulfilled life.

Our thymus gland, which is the seat of our immune system, is located very close to the physical heart, just under the sternum. The location of the thymus gland makes it directly affected by the energy fluctuations of the heart chakra. Hence, by caring for the heart through Dru Yoga movements, we massage and nourish the physical organ, and stimulate the heart chakra, which in turn will work energetically to stimulate the thymus gland and begin a deep healing process.

The heart's language of love and compassion for self and others is the greatest communication tool known to humanity. In essence, happiness is the raison d'etre for living. We may not be fit, or rich, or have the perfect figure or job, but we can be happy. Whatever the trauma, crisis or problem, by opening the heart, healing begins, be that through laughter, or forgiveness, or simply by beginning to experience. Nelson Mandela talked of learning to love when he said 'No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can learn to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.'

The Principles of Dru Yoga

  • You are taught to activate the subtle body, and work with your own energy or prana;
  • It's easy to practise, it's fun and the benefits are felt immediately. This is primarily because Dru Yoga helps you to open and focus on the heart centre;
  • There are seven composite stages of a Dru Yoga session that are designed to take you deeper into yourself and to experience a state of heightened awareness quickly and without strain;
  • Dru Yoga contains specific EBRs or energy block release sequences that free every part of the body and many graceful movement sequences that connect you with your heart power;
  • You learn the art of therapeutic posture work and how to change emotional states or negative thought patterns through Dru Yoga.

Druvam – the North Star

      Dru or Druvam was the son of a great king who had two wives. One day when Dru went to be with his father, his stepmother, the King's second wife, who was jealous of Dru, pushed him away. She told him that he would never be good enough and because the king was infatuated with this beautiful woman he said nothing. Dru, feeling hurt and rejected, rushed to find his mother who reminded him that he had a much greater father who would never let him down.
      Dru ran out of the palace and into the forest to search for this other father and, although still five years old, he meditated, practised yoga and prayed constantly. His practice was so pure and sincere that the Lord finally appeared to him in a vision and asked him what he wanted.
      Dru asked for a place in this world that is immovable, where no one could ever again take away his joy and confidence. The Lord promised him that he would have just that, but first he must go back and live a full and active life as the prince and future king. He told Dru that he would give him the North Star as his final home, because it stayed still in the heavens.
      Dru returned to the palace where his father welcomed him lovingly. Years later Dru did become a noble king and ruled with wisdom and justice, and never lost his sense of inner peace. When he died his spirit took the North Star as its eternal abode. Hence in India the North Star is known as the Dru Star.
      This story represents many things but, in particular, the search for that quiet place within us all where we are able to stay calm and centred regardless of what is happening around us in our busy, hectic world. Like Dru we all have a calling to a higher destiny that we may or may not be aware of and through regular practice, we can begin to be aware of that greater purpose which calls us to work on ourselves.

Seven Composite Stages of Dru Yoga

Each stage is progressive and designed to take you deeper into yourself and to experience a state of heightened awareness quickly and without strain.

Dru Yoga

1. Activation

The first stage is to loosen up the body, enhance circulation and draw your potential energy out of your core being, which enables you to resonate more fully and actively with life around you. This is practised in a systematic format to free the body of tension and fatigue.

2. Energy Block Release Sequences

These are specifically designed sequences that work to dissolve areas of tight or blocked energy in your physical, mental, emotional and subtle bodies, or koshas. They are very potent and can be practised quickly and stand on their own.

3. Movement Sequences

Each has a specific health focus, but all the sequences help to relate to the constant flow of life. Nothing in nature exists in a state of rigidity, everything is in a state of flux, and yet habitually most of us resist change rather than embrace it as a source of new opportunity. These sequences allow us to tune into this aspect of our mind and in particular give us tools to change long-standing mind-sets, which hold us back from experiencing our full potential.

4. Therapeutic Posture Work

Many yoga practitioners will be aware of the therapeutic benefits of asanas or postures, especially when combined with breath, chakra activation and conscious intention as in Dru Yoga.

5. The Art of Deep Relaxation

In Dru Yoga, relaxation sessions are given plenty of time in order to allow the energy that has been activated to settle in the right way and place, so that maximum healing takes place. We know the body is designed to heal and repair itself given the right conditions. This time of relaxation is the perfect opportunity.

6. Concentration and Visualization

Concentration and visualization are a prelude to meditation and a useful tool when learning to discipline the mind. The end product we are aiming for is a focused, still and creative mind.

7. Meditation

The heightened awareness and clarity gained from meditation allow you to unfold your personal power. But so often, when we try to sit for meditation, we find our mind and bodies too unsettled. After practising the first six steps you will find meditation so much easier and effortless, because we have cleared away all those internal agitations and discomforts.

Subtle Bodywork

We are essentially beings of light or energy according to quantum physicists – a fact well known to the ancient yogis who studied the universe many thousands of years ago. Masters of the Far East have shown immense control over their bodies and their control of energy. So what is this force or chi or pranic energy? It is our life force – our prana – and it can be measured, directed and transformed at will given the correct training. There is no need to try to become a Jedi knight or yogi with special powers (called sidhis) but it is worth learning how to direct one's life force to heal parts of our body that may be unwell. We can also choose to use our prana or energy to help us focus our mind to achieve our goals and dreams.

Unfortunately, when we carry negative or disempowering thoughts about ourselves and others, we lose our power and potential to tap into this unlimited resource. Kirlian photography shows the aura or energy field radiating from the body, and an adept's aura can often project many miles, often suffusing the area with positive light energy.

Dru Yoga focuses on energy flow, awakening our proprioception and directing our awareness; the ability physically to perfect a posture or mudra (hand gesture) is not all-important. All the sequences can be modified to suit the old, the infirm, an excitable child or someone with disabilities. We can all experience that graceful flowing feeling and find progress at any stage in our practice.

The Sequence of Immortality
The Sequence of Immortality

Soft, Flowing Sequences

Sequences are one of the hallmarks of Dru Yoga. They are beneficial in many ways, because anyone can do them and partly because they focus on building and directing energy flow. Each sequence has a powerful focus aimed at helping to alleviate physical conditions and to change old habit patterns – (those unhealthy mind-sets we tend to hold on to and act out every day).

Personal Experience

I experienced this first hand when I was suffering from back injuries caused by falling off too many horses followed by years as an outdoor pursuits instructor, carrying heavy rucksacks. I was too immobile and in too much pain to practise yoga postures, but when I came across Dru Yoga, and its gentle approach of working from the inside out, I began to heal. My road to recovery began with a special back sequence, which I practised three times a day, consisting of simple movements performed from a lying down position. The external movements seemed almost nil and apparently ineffectual but I could feel changes happening to my deep muscles almost immediately. Within nine months I was pain free and able to practise much stronger sequences, with the added bonus of feeling much more self-confident, in charge of my life and knowing that I have the potential to remove pain from my life.

Changing Mental and Emotional States

Body/mind medicine has become a familiar term these days, and if we observe ourselves carefully we will notice how certain thought patterns are intricately connected to our physical wellbeing and vice versa. For example, remember when you felt incredibly happy, and your body radiated health and strength. The opposite also applies. Think about a time when you had a bad cold and your nose was streaming and you ached all over – did you feel like jumping for joy or rushing over to hug your doctor? The answer is usually no. We also know from Eastern and Oriental medicine that different emotions are stored in various organs and parts of the body, especially if a trauma or crisis is involved. Louise Hay has done much to bring this science into the public eye. For example, the liver will hold feelings of anger and resentment, the lungs store sadness and grief, and so on.

Our physical body mirrors our subconscious mind. It is hard to change a thought like anger or a feeling like grief, regardless of our efforts, and these emotions can stay with us for months and years, often to the point where our health begins to break down. In the past 25 years therapists from the Life Foundation have been working and researching just how we can heal and harmonize our constantly changing states of mind and mood swings along with physical health problems through Dru Yoga. One of the easiest pathways is through daily practice of certain movement sequences, hand gestures (mudras), spinal work and specific pranayama (breathing) exercises that help to move energy blocks. Each exercise works on a specific part of the body, so with just a little patience and 15 minutes' practice each day, you can learn to free yourself and find great inner peace and harmony, without any kind of cathartic responses. In short, Dru Yoga is a holistic approach to uplifting and healing your whole being.

This approach is also one of the reasons many people practise Dru Yoga as a self-development tool and why it works especially well for those living or working in difficult areas of the world or who have adrenaline-filled occupations.

History of Dru Yoga

Dru Yoga has been available in the West for a quarter of a century thanks to an Indian couple, Echanben and Chaganbhai Patel, who moved from Gujerat, India, to Kenya, and then to escape the unrest of the civil war, to Britain. Their son, Dr Mansukh Patel, began offering Dru Yoga classes whilst at University in Bangor, North Wales.

Mansukh and four other yoga and complementary therapists, Annie Jones, Chris Barrington, Rita Goswami and John Jones formed the Life Foundation, of which Dru Yoga has become an international hallmark. Their aim was to create a safe platform in a busy world where anyone of any age or culture or ability can explore yoga and spirituality and enjoy the journey of self-discovery. Today over sixty like-minded individuals teach worldwide.

The Dru Yoga Therapy Diploma Course has become very popular worldwide, with schools in Sydney, Vancouver, Scotland and the Netherlands as well as at the Life Foundation International Course Centre in North Wales. Dru Yoga, which is taught exclusively by the Life Foundation School of Therapeutics, has uniquely been applied in war zones and troubled areas such as The Greater Horn of Africa, and the Russian/Chechan border.

The courses are also run as a progressive programme of self-development as well as a carefully structured teacher-training programme. Course members are from many different backgrounds and with various needs. A typical course would include students, teachers, mothers, aid workers, businessmen and -women who are looking for practical tools to handle change and find success, and yoga students or teachers and meditators looking for greater depth in their practice.

Further Reading, Viewing and Listening

Ornish Dean MD. Love and Survival. Harper-Collins. 1998.
Piert Candace B. Molecules of Emotions. Simon and Schuster. 1998.
Patel Mansukh and Goswami Rita. The Dance Between Joy and Pain. £6.50 – filled with techniques to transform emotions such as fear and anger into courage and creativity. Also contains Dru Yoga sequences and hand gestures.
Jones Annie. Yoga in a Nutshell. £4.99 – suitable for the beginner wishing to explore yoga for the first time.
Patel Mansukh and Agnew Paulette. Body, Heart, Mind (video). £12.95 – contains a daily programme and many beautiful Dru Yoga sequences filmed in Kenya.
Doerstal Regina and Marvin Jean. Energy Block Release (EBR) 1/2 (audiotape).
Doerstal Regina and Goswami Anita. Energy Block Release (EBR) 3/4 (audiotape).
£6.95 each – designed to help alleviate stress and release trapped energy.

Further Information

For details of the Life Foundation School of Therapeutics(UK), Dru Yoga courses and seminars and free catalogue of books, tapes and videos contact:
Life Foundation International Course Centre, Nant Ffrancon, Bethesda, Gwynedd, North Wales L57 3LX. Tel 01248 602900; fax 01248 602004; E-mail: lfstnwales@aol.com www.lifefoundation.org.uk

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About Paulette Agnew

Paulette Agnew. BSc (Hons) (Biochemistry), is an international motivational speaker who combines Eastern philosophy, indigenous wisdom and contemporary Western thought. She runs programmes in practical spirituality, emotional self-reliance, stress management, detraumatization and Dru Yoga therapeutics. She is director of Life Foundation Africa, and splits her time between Britain, Africa and Australia.

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