Yoga of Correct Approach to the Spine (Vajra Yoga)

Yoga of CAS

Yoga of Correct Approach to the Spine (or Vajra yoga) — is a way of performing asanas (postures) aimed to preserve and improve spinal health.

“Hatha Yoga Pradipika” (with Svatmarama’s comments, approx. 15th century A.D.):

It is the first limb of Hatha Yoga and Asanas are therefore described first. I should be practiced for steadiness of posture, health and lightness of body.” (sloka 1.19.)

We intentionally draw your attention to these lines, as some instructors paid with their health for practicing modern, “improved” asanas.

The main essence of CAS Yoga can be expressed in three terms: extending, strengthening, relaxation.

1. Spinal extension is performed by using local spinal muscles only and not by a leverage (such as arms, props, etc) and a momentum.

2. Strengthening means the impact that asanas have on vertebras, strengthening paravertebral and other muscles in the body. This improves the tropism of the surrounding the spinal column tissues, including ligaments, muscles and intervertebral discs as well.

3. Relaxation is based on the observing the state of your spine during whole asana practice and during relaxation. (“listening” to your senses). Drawing your attention to it and awareness are key factors in the successful practice. In addition to this we use key breathing techniques to complement the impact of asanas: breath-holds (kumbhakas) – Sahita and Kevala.

These basic principles are different from the common modern approach to yoga asanas (that is based on the deformation of the spine). The Correct Approach to the Spine fully matches classic ancient approach to the asana practice of Indian schools and schools of Tibetan Yoga (Trul Khor). Descriptions of Indian schools can be found in the Upanishads and ancient yoga scripturess. Which once again confirms the truth that “everything new is well-forgotten old.”

CAS Yoga is based on the Western scientific knowledge of physiology and anatomy, medicine as well as on the knowledge gained from ancient texts on Hatha Yoga. The effects of different asanas on a spine of a healthy person were studied while creating this spine-friendly approach. We also studied the possibility of curing spine pathologies through asanas. For small vertebras displacement (up to 3 mm) we may observe a compensatory effect of asanas. The results of the first studies at the early stages of forming this approach made us to change change the modern (and flawed) concept of the asana practice completely. In group practice we exclude those asanas that can even theoretically lead to a vertebrae or an intervertebral disc displacement (mainly twists, deep back bends and other spinal deformities that are harmful to the spine). As the goal was to make a practice  suitable for everyone, even for people having issues with their spine in order not not to make it worse but rather help it (according to the mailn principle of medicine – “do no harm”). And a healthy people can benefit from it as well, strengthening their spine, the foundation of our health . While improving the practice, an important rule of Correct Approach to the Spine was born – hold your spine naturally straight.

Brief description of some CAS Yoga principles:

  • The golden rule of CAS Yoga: keep shoulders’ line parallel to the line of your hips.
  • Extending, strengthening and relaxation
  • Matching breath with movement, using  Sahita and Kevala kumbhakas. Gentle breath control practice.

A detailed description of the initial techniques and principles can be found in the methodology’s author, Anatoly Pakhomov book: “Hatha Yoga. The correct approach to the spine” .

All certified instructors, completed full Yoga CAS training in the Kyiv Yoga School, Ukraine are presented on the International Yoga Federation page.