Archive for the ‘Yoga’ Category

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Quotes, Yoga
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Yoga is the teacher of yoga; yoga is to be understood through yoga. So live in yoga to realize yoga; comprehend yoga through yoga; he who is free from distractions enjoys yoga through yoga.

– Sri Vyasa’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras in the Vishnu Purana

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Posted: November 27, 2011 in Quotes, Yoga
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The body is not to the Hatha Yogi a mere mass of living matter, but a mystical bridge between the spiritual and the physical being.

– Synthesis of Yoga, Ch. XXVII

Neti Kriya

Posted: November 1, 2011 in Book Notes, Yoga
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  • One teaspoon of salt for two neti pots (1% salt solution)
  • Keep the mouth open to allow the natural breathing to take place as you pass water from one nostril to the other.
  • For general health, once a week is enough. For nasal allergy, it can be done every day or even twice as per need.
Benefits
  • Good for nasal allergy.
  • Good for sinusitis and related headaches.
  • Sharpens mental faculties like memory, IQ, etc.
  • Helps to improve eyesight.
  • Opens the nasal passage by removing the blocks and allows free flow of the air; corrects the breathing patterns.
The Four Branches of Yoga
  • Jnana Yoga – the path of wisdom
  • Karma Yoga – the path of action
  • Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion
  • Raja Yoga – the path of psychic control
Kriyas
  • Kriyas is part of Hatha yoga – a path of will power.
  • Kriya means cleansing process.
  • Hatha Yoga prescribes the following six kriyas to keep ourselves healthy:
    • Trataka – clean the eyes
    • Neti – clean the nasal passage
    • Kapalabhati – clean the lungs and to stimulate the brain cells
    • Dhauti – clean the stomach
    • Nauli – clean the intestines through abdominal muscles
    • Bastic – clean the bowls (Sanka Praksalana is used as an easy alternative to Basti)
What is nasal allergy and how does neti help?
  • Allergy is “altered reaction.”
  • Sneezing is a protective reflex.
  • When the system becomes over-sensitive, it recognizes even harmless substances as harmful and goes on effecting sneezing reflex.
  • Jala Neti desensitizes the system through water. Training the nose to tolerate lukewarm saline water then other allergens as well.
  • The sensitivity of nasal passage is the result of a sensitive mind.
    • Body and mind are connected.
    • In fact, body is nothing but the mind in a gross form.
    • Whatsoever happens in the mind, comes to the body through the Prana.
    • Oversensitivity of body is, therefore, oversensitivity of mind.
    • Mind has lost the stamina, the capacity to tolerate. Very small things irritate us. We have lost patience. We cannot adjust with others.
Yoga teaches us to accept life
  • When we are deeply relaxed, we, not only, develop the capacity to tolerate the situation, but also learn to accept it.
  • Tolerance is yet a negative feeling. We don’t like a person or a situation, but we don’t show it or grumble about it outside. Inside, we are not easy about it.
  • Acceptance is a positive quality which is the result of deep thinking, patience and relaxation. When we accept a person, we have an understanding that no one is perfect and we accept him or her as he or she is.
  • Various practice of Yoga bring this understanding through deep relaxation.
  • We are always thinking that by changing our situation we will overcome our mental agitation, and we are always thinking that when we reach a certain point, all mental agitations will disappear. But it is the nature of the material world that we cannot be freed from anxiety.

What is called renunciation is the same as yoga, or linking oneself with the Supreme; for no one can become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense gratification. – Bhagavad Gita 6.2

  • The desire for sense gratification must be overcome by the process of purification, but desire for Krishna should be cultivated. It is simply that we have to transfer the desire. There is no question of killing desire, for desire is the constant companion of the living entity.
    • In the material world everyone is working for sense gratification. The profits of one’s labor in the material world are used to gratify one’s senses. But a real yogi does not desire such fruits. He has no desire other than Krishna, and Krishna is already there.
  • The whole process of the yoga system is to purify oneself. And what is this purification? Purification ensues upon the realization of one’s actual identity. Purification is realizing that “I am pure spirit – I am not this matter.”
    • Due to material contact, we are identifying ourselves with matter, and we are thinking, “I am this body.” But in order to perform real yoga one must realize his constitutional position as being distinct from matter.
  • Simply breathing deeply and doing some exercises is not yoga as far as Bhagavad Gita is concerned. A whole purification of consciousness is required.
    • One must sit very straight, and the eyes be only half-closed, gazing at the tip of one’s nose.
  • Contemporary civilization in this age of Kali has actually made it impossible for us to be alone, to be desireless and to be possessionless.
  • When a candle is in a windless place, its flame remains straight and does not waver. The mind, like the flame, is susceptible to so many material desires that with the slightest agitation it will move.
    • A little movement of the mind can change the whole consciousness.
  • As long as we are in the material conception of life, we are not actually enjoying ourselves but are simply becoming more and more entangled in material nature.
    • The more we increase material enjoyment, the more we become entangled in this world, and the more difficult it becomes to get free from the material entrapment.
  • No one is born our enemy, and no one is born our friend. These roles are determined by mutual behavior. As we have dealings with others in ordinary affairs, in the same way the individual has dealings with himself. I may act as my own friend or as an enemy.

For those who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy. – Bhagavad Gita 6.6

  • To cut something, a sharp instrument is required; and to cut the mind from its attachment, sharp words are often required.

For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquility. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same. – Bhagavad Gita 6.7

  • One has to transcend dualities, but as long as this body is here these dualities will be here also…One has to learn to tolerate such dualities.
  • In everyone’s life there are two duties: one is to serve the illusion, and the other is to serve the reality.
  • The constitutional position of the living entity is to be a servant, not a master.

Rudra Yoga

Posted: May 18, 2011 in Yoga
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Turn your troubles into treasures,
Turn your obstacles into opportunities,
Turn your problems into possibilities,
Turn your challenges into chuckles,
Turn your difficulties into delights,
Turn weirdness into wonder!

How do you do this?
The energy is in the obstacle.
The obstacle is in yourself.
Turn the obstacle into energy.
The flow will be the answer.

Rudra refers to the digestive fire in the navel and the aspect of Lord Shiva that removes obstacles. Yoga means union. Rudra Yoga is the power to dissolve and blast through obstacles and live every moment through waking, dreaming and deep sleep in a unified state.

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Quotes, Yoga
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Health is wealth. Peace of mind is happiness. Yoga shows the way.

– Swami Vishnu-Devananda

  • By persistent and sustained practice, anyone and everyone can make the yoga journey and reach the goal of illumination and freedom. Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek but a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal.
    • Spiritual realization is the aim that exists in each one of us to seek our divine core.
  • Yoga could reveal to us our innermost secrets, as equally as it reveals those of the universe around us and our place in it as joyful, suffering, puzzled human beings.
  • If you take up any noble line and stick to it, you can reach the ultimate.
  • Be inspired but not pound.
  • I do not want yoga’s widespread popularity to eclipse the depth of what it has to give to the practitioner.
  • While we often think of these as the problems caused by the demands of modern life, human life has always had the same hardships and the same challenge – making a living, raising a family, and finding meaning and purpose.
  • As bearers of a divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon the earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound.
  • Most people simply want physical and mental health, understanding and wisdom, and peace and freedom.
  • Yoga’s goal is to attain the integrity of oneness – oneness with ourselves and as a consequence oneness with all that lies beyond ourselves. We become the harmonious microcosm in the universal macrocosm. Oneness (integration) is the foundation of wholeness, inner peace, and ultimate freedom.
    • To a yogi, freedom implies not being battered by the dualities of life, its ups and downs, its pleasures and its suffering. It implies equanimity and ultimately that there is an inner serene core of one’s being that is never out of touch with the unchanging, eternal infinite.
  • Life itself seeks fulfillment as plants seek the sunlight.
  • When you and I meet together, we forget ourselves – our cultures and classes. There are no divisions, and we talk mind to mind, soul to soul. We are no different in our deepest needs. We are all human.
  • Yoga is like music – the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.
  • The practice of yoga teaches us to live fully – physically and spiritually – by cultivating each of the various sheaths.
  • The human being is a continuum – there are no tangible frontiers between the kosas as there are no frontiers between body, mind, and soul. But for convenience sake, and to aid us on our journey, yoga describes us in terms of these discrete layers. We should imagine them as blending from one into the other like the colors of the rainbow.
  • [The existence of soul] is logical but remains conceptual to our minds until we experience its realization within ourselves.
  • In unity there is no possession, as possession is a dual state, containing me and it.
  • Everything that exists in the macrocosm is to be found existing in the microcosm or individual.
  • There can be no realization of existential, divine bliss without the support of the soul’s incarnate vehicle, the food-and-water fed body, from bone to brain.
  • Nothing can be forced; receptivity is everything.
  • By drawing our senses of perception inward, we are able to experience the control, silence, and quietness of the mind.
  • In asana our consciousness spreads throughout the body, eventually diffusing in every cell, creating a complete awareness.
    • Stressful thought is drained away, and our mind focuses on the body, intelligence, and awareness as a whole.
  • Duality is the seed of conflict. But we all have access to a space, an inner space, where there is an end to duality, an end to conflict. This is what meditation teaches us, the cessation of the impersonating ego and the dawn of the true, unified Self, beyond which there is no other. Yoga says that the highest experience of freedom is Oneness, the supreme reality is unity.
  • Yogis know in their innermost being that the divine unites us all and that a word or action done to another is ultimately done equally to oneself.
  • …exist purely in the moment, without reference to past or future.

The Physical Body (Asana) – Stability

  • Because most modern people have separated their minds from their bodies and their souls have been banished from their ordinary lives, they forget that the well-being of all three (body, mind, spirit) are intimately entwine like the fibers of our muscles.
    • To be spiritual, one must not deny or forget the body.
    • To a yogi, the body is a laboratory for life, a field of experimentation and perpetual research.
  • Purity permits sensitivity. Sensitivity is not weakness or vulnerability. It is clarity of perception and allows judicious, precise action.
  • Strength and flexibility allow us to keep an inner balance, but man is trying more and more to dominate the environment rather than control himself (i.e. central heating, air conditioning, cars, imported food)…Yet none can deny that there is more to life than mere physical pleasure and pain. If we abandon or indulge our bodies, sickness comes, and attachment to it increases.
  • The essence of yoga is not about external display but internal cultivation.

Asanas bring perfection in body, beauty in form, grace, strength, compactness, and the harness and brilliance of a diamond. – Pantajali

  • Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence, and benevolence of spirit.
  • We think of intelligence and perception as taking place exclusively in our brains, but yoga teaches us that awareness and intelligence must permeate the body.
    • The duty of the brain is to receive knowledge from the body and then guide the body to further refine the action.

Action is movement with intelligence.

  • The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.
  • Be self-aware, not self-conscious.
    • Self-consciousness is when the mind constantly worries and wonders about itself, doubting and being self-absorbed.
    • Self-awareness is when you are fully within yourself, not outside yourself looking in. You are aware of what you are doing without ego or pride.
  • Extension is attention, and expansion is awareness.
    • When you extend and expand, you are not only stretching to, you are also stretching from.
    • Extension and expansion bring space, and space brings freedom. Freedom is precision, and precision is divine.
    • Extension is freedom, and freedom allows for relaxation. When there is relaxation in the asana, there is no fatigue.
  • Keep your attention internal, not external, not worrying about what others see, but what the Self see.
    • All people are born with different constitutions. Never compare with others. Each one’s capacities are a function of his or her internal strength. Know your capacity and continue to improve upon them.

Perfection is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached. – Pantajali

  • Inhalation is tension, exhalation is freedom. All movements should be done with exhalation. Exhalation purges the stress and tension of the body.
  • We are seeking the balance of polarity, not the antagonism of duality.
  • If you balance in the present, you are living in Eternity.
    • When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future, only present.
  • Only when there is pain will you see the light. Pain is your guru. As we experience pleasures happily, we must also learn not to lose our happiness when pain comes. As we see good in pleasure, we should learn to see good in pain. Learn to find comfort even in discomfort. We must not try to run from the pain but to move through and beyond it.
    • Practice is about awareness, and awareness leads us to notice and understand both the pleasure and the pain.
  • Yoga is meant for the purification of body and its exploration as well as for the refinement of the mind.
    • I use the body to discipline the mind and to reach the soul.
    • Body is the bow, asana the arrow, and soul is the target.
  • Many intellectually developed people are still emotionally immature – when faced with pains, they try to escape rather than work through them.
  • When everything else is stripped away, the essential is revealed.
  • To do nothing is an action too, with inevitable consequences.
  • Let the goal be to reach Perfection, but be content with a little progress toward perfection every day.
  • The test of a philosophy is whether it is applicable and even more so applicable now in how you live your life.
  • Yoga is mastered only by long persistent nonstop practice, with zeal and determination.
    • When the gardener plants an apple seed, does he expect the apples to appear at once? Of course not. The gardener waters the seed, watches each day, and feels happy seeing the growth. Treat the body in the same way.
  • Light comes to a person who extends his awareness a little more than seems possible.
    • You have always to do a little bit more than you think you can, in quality and in quantity. This is what leads ultimately to beauty and greatness.
  • Never repeat: A repetition makes the mind dull.
    • You must always animate and create interest in what you are doing.
  • You have to create within yourself the feeling of beauty, liberation, and infinity. These can be experienced only in the present.
  • The word tapas contains the meaning of inner intellectual heat, which burns out our impurities.
  • Practice and purity of life place us “among” not above. The fully sensitive and sensible being becomes not a “somebody” but the common denominator of humanity. This takes place only when the intelligence of the head is transformed by humility and the wisdom of the heart and compassion is kindled.
  • We all receive God-given talents, and it is our duty to develop them energetically to realize their full potential, otherwise it is as if we are turning our nose up at the gifts of life.
  • The pain is temporary. The freedom is permanent.

The Energy Body (Prana) – Vitality

  • Prana, Chi, Ki – vital energy, life energy, the Holy Spirit in Christianity.
    • Prana is God’s breath. Breath of life of all beings in the universe.
    • Prana is the energy permeating the universe at all levels. It is physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual, and cosmic energy.
    • Prana carries awareness. It is the vehicle of consciousness.
    • Prana is our link to the infinite cosmic intelligence (mahat).
  • Hindus often say that GOD is Generator, Organizer, and Destroyer. Inhalation is the generating power, retention is the organizing power, and exhalation, if the energy is vicious, is the destroyer.
  • Pranayama – the extension and expansion of all our vital energy.
  • We live within our individual consciousness with its limited intelligence, often feeling lonely and puny, when there is conduit available directly to cosmic consciousness and intelligence. Pranayama is about restoring this conduit so that the intelligence bearing the energy of the macrocosm can illuminate our microcosm.
  • We must live fully before we die. We must generate sufficient energy to realize our full potential.
  • Watching the flow of the breath teaches stability of the consciousness, which leads to concentration.
    • By learning to appreciate breath, we learn to appreciate life itself. The gift of breath is the gift of life. When we receive a gift, we feel gratitude. Through pranayama we learn gratitude for life and gratitude toward the unknown divine source of life.
  • Pranayama is the beginning of withdrawal from the external engagement of the mind and senses. This is why it brings peacefulness.
  • As leaves move in the wind, your mind moves with your breath. When breath is regulated and pacified, there is a neutralizing effect on the mind. When you hold your breath, you hold your soul. By retaining the full in-breath, you hold the divine infinite within yourself. At this moment you have reached the full potential of your individuality, but it is a divine individuality and not the small, selfish creature you normally take yourself for. By exhaling you generously give your individual self to the universal world. To expire means both to breath out and to die. What dies is the known I-sense, which clings passionately to its own identity and existence. In retention after exhalation, you experience life after death. The ego’s worst fear is confronted and conquered. The veil of illusion that shrouds the “me” is lifted.
    • Inhalation engulfs the whole body with life. Exhalation surrenders that life to the source of life.
  • We cannot eliminate stress and tension from our lives. That is not the point. Our aim is to be able to deal with stress as and when it arises, and not to imprint and accumulate it in the body’s various systems, including both conscious and unconscious memory.
  • The cure to combat the three S’s – stress, strain, speed – can be found in three W’s – the work of devoted practice, the wisdom that comes of understanding the self and the world, and worship because ultimately surrendering what we cannot control allows the ego to relax and lose the anxiety of its own infinitesimally small self in the infinitude of the divine.
  • Humans innately resist change because we feel safe with what is familiar and fear the insecurity that comes with something new. We tend to live in a familiar fixed routine and try to avoid accepting or even feeling what is beyond the known. But life inevitable oscillates, moves, and changes between the known and the unknown. So often we are not ready to accept the flow of life. We seek freedom but cling to bondage. We do not allow life to “happen” and take on its own shape.
    • The yogic solution is to control the emotional disturbances and the mental fluctuations. Conscious self-control will save many a situation.
  • Six emotional disturbances – lust, pride, obsession, anger, hatred, greed.
    • Religion tell us to get rid of these emotions, but we cannot. They are human emotions that we will feel whether we want to or not.
    • We carry around within the recollection of the mind our rancor, resentments, hates, greed, and lust, even when the motivating stimulus is absent. When we allow feelings to harden and coalesce into emotions, which we transport like overburdened slaves, we deny ourselves life’s freshness, its ever-present potential for renewal and transformation.
    • Yoga is about transforming that energy to higher purposes.
  • 99% of all human communication is emotional, not intellectual. Emotions, far more than thought, guide most behavior in the world. Emotions relate not only to what we feel, but to the value we place on things.
  • Trust and faith bind us not only to each other but to the Universal.
  • Virtue is an ideal. Integrity is an reality.
  • The ego seeks power because it seeks self-perpetuation; it seeks at all costs to avoid its own inevitable demise.
  • Lust is self-validation through consumption.
  • Be fanatical with yourself but not with others.
    • A passion for excellence is one thing; to force one’s beliefs and practices onto other people is another. That is ego; that is pride.
  • Appetite for life is wonderful – for scents, for sights, for taste, and for color and human experience. You just have to learn to control it. Quality is more important than quantity. Take in the essence of life as you would smell the fragrance of a flower, delicately and deeply, with sensitivity and appreciation.
  • We seek power from the accumulation of surplus; we are greedy for more than our fair share. In a finite world, we search for infinite satiation.
  • We minimize our needs so that we can minimize our attachments and to maximize our contentment. The fewer our demands on life, the greater is our ability to see its bounty.
  • Yoga is not asking us to refrain from enjoyment. Draw in the exquisite fragrance of the flower. Yoga is against bondage. Bondage is being tied to patterns of behavior from which we cannot withdraw. Repetition leads to boredom, and eventually boredom is a form of torture. Yoga says keep the freshness, keep the pristine, keep the virginity of sensitivity.
  • The superficial sympathy we express for the woes of others, when we watch the nightly television news, for example, is often no more than a wish to feel good about ourselves, a sop to our own conscience. “I am a person of sensibility and feeling,” we say. Without action, this is mere self-indulgence.
  • All illness fragments and so whatever integrates also heals. It is axiomatic in yoga that illness has its origin in the consciousness. Self-cultivation really begins only with total self-absorption, so anything that facilitates concentration, reflection, an inward absorption is going to begin to heal the problems of the fissured, imbalanced self.
  • Our desire to control by description, interpretation, and consumption robs us of much of the scent, taste, and beauty of life.
  • Involution means “turning in.” As though a rose should be shut and be a bud again.

The Mental Body (Manas) – Clarity

  • A conceptual understanding is not a substitute for practice.
    • An architectural plan is not the same thing as the building itself, but it is certainly an important element in bringing about its realization.
  • Consciousness means our capacity to be aware, both externally as well as internally, which we call self-awareness.
    • Mind is an aspect or part of consciousness.
    • Consciousness is a double mirror, able to reflect the objects of the world, or the soul within.
    • One good image for consciousness is a lake. The pure waters of a lake reflect the beauty around it (external), and one can also see right through the clear water to the bottom (internal). Similarly a pure mind can reflect the beauty in the world around it, and when the mind is still, the beauty of Self, or soul, is seen reflected in it. But we all know what stagnation and pollution do to a lake. As one has to keep the water of a lake clean, so it is yoga’s job to clean and calm the thought waves that disturb our awareness.

Happiness does not consist in acquiring the things we think will make us happy, but in learning to like doing the things we have to do anyway. – Descartes

Know yourself. Know what is good. Know when to stop. – Lao Tzu

  • The specific quality of the mind is cleverness. All people are clever compared to other forms of life.
    • Stupidity is the absence of intelligence.
  • To innovate is to introduce the new, to engage in a process of change. To invent is to produce a different variation of the old.
  • Two characteristics of intelligence:
    • It is reflexive; it can stand outside the self and perceive objectively, not just subjectively.
    • It can choose. It can choose to perform an action that is new, that is innovative. It can initiate change.
  • After samadhi we return to our ego but use it as a necessary tool for living, not a substitute for soul.
  • Mind produces thought and image all the time, like a television with no off switch. Thought moves too fast to catch and never, of its own accord, stops.
    • The role of intelligence is to stop, to discern, to discriminate, to intervene.
  • We feel happy when we are directing our own lives because we are experiencing a growing freedom. We are exploring the possibilities of life on earth through the release and realization of our own potential. Freedom is the innermost desire of all our hearts. It is the only desire that leads us toward unity and not separation. It makes possible our aspirations to love and be loved, and on its farthest shore, touches that union with infinity.
    • Yoga takes us to an unconditioned freedom, because yoga sees even good habits as a form of conditioning or limitation.
  • Deal with a the situation as it is; with moderation and lightness.
    • Direct action stems from direct perception, the ability to see reality in the present, as it is, without prejudice, and act accordingly.
  • Actions are either black, which means they are entirely rooted in selfish motivations and lead to painful consequences, or white, disinterested and good or, like most actions, grey, in that they stem from mixed motives and therefore bring mixed results.
    • The yogic action is an action that is absolutely unfettered by past habit and without desire for personal reward in the future. It is the right thing in this present moment just because it is right and is colorless or taint-free.
  • The soul is always outside the game of life, a Seer, not a player, and so when the ego-based human consciousness loses its identity in the Soul it can no longer be ensnared in pains and pleasures. The ego is then understood to be no more than an actor’s mask for the true self.

Yoga is about stilling the turbulence of consciousness. – Pantajali

  • By breathing before acting, we are able to slow down our responses, inhale divinity, and surrender ego in our exhalation. This momentary pause allows us the time for cognitive reflection, corrective reaction, and reappraisal.
  • A scab that we constantly pick will not heal. In the same way we have to let old wounds in memory heal over. This does not mean repressing them. It means that what is not fed will wither.
  • Memory is absolutely necessary for the development of intelligence. Only when intelligence (buddhi) consults memory can it get at the information it needs to initiate the transformation it seeks. While mind reacts to memory, intelligence interrogates memory. Intelligence can conduct a thorough interrogation of memory to discern consequences and make connections that mind (manas) shies away from as they are too uncomfortable.
  • Where nerves are, mind must be. Where mind is, so is memory. Any repetitive skillful action depends on that memory.
  • Intelligence strives to see things as they are, but mind and memory tend to interpret these in relation to the past.
  • When intelligence is awakened in the cells, then instinct is transformed into intuition and the past loses its deterministic grip on us, as our inner intelligence tells us what the future requires.
    • Memory at the cellular level is at the service of intelligence in the form of intuition.
    • When intelligence consults spontaneously with memory at each moment, then conscious intuition arises, and the word we give to conscious intuition is wisdom.

The Intellectual Body (Vijnana) – Wisdom

  • Hatha Yoga – Sun (Ha) and Moon (Tha)
    • Sun is the Soul and Moon is Consciousness.
  • If our house is gloomy because the windows are dirty, we don’t say there is a problem with the sun; we clean the window.
  • The consciousness must become passively alert – not placid like a cow contentedly chewing the cud, but alert and receptive like a wild deer in the forest, except that whereas the deer’s senses are turned outward, the yogi’s, with equal acuity, are directed inward.
  • Three functions of consciousness (citta):
    • Cognition – perceiving, knowing, and recognizing
    • Volition – of will, which is the impulse to initiate action
    • Motion – express the fire nature of mind, ever transforming itself
  • All philosophies recognize that a pleasure-seeker will end up as a pain finder.
    • The ancient Greeks said that moderation was the greatest virtue.
  • When awareness is linked to intelligence, we are able to see with absolute honesty. When brain and body move in harmony, there is integrity.
  • Socrates said quite simply that self-knowledge allows us to live deliberately out of a state of freedom.
    • Most of us travel through life in the same way an 18-month-old baby walks. The reason he keeps putting one foot in front of the other is that if he doesn’t, he will fall over. His walk is a sustained totter, punctuated by falls. To live deliberately is to walk like an adult, to have balance, direction, and purpose and to walk in growing freedom and assurance toward the ultimate freedom.
  • One should be natural, like a happy, confident child. The soul seeks nothing more than to expand to fill our whole being.
  • Yoga is an interior penetration leading to integration of being, senses, breath, mind, intelligence, consciousness, and Self. It is an inward journey, evolution through involution, toward the Soul, which in its turn desires to emerge and embrace you in  its glory.
  • Yama and niyama (the ethical code) assist us in this reasoned restraint, acting as a firebreak for our behavior. Asana is a cleansing agent and pranayama begins to tug our consciousness (citta) away from desires and toward judicious awareness (prajna). Pratyahara is the stage at which we learn to reverse the current that flows from mind to senses, so that mind can bend its energies inward. Dharana (concentration) brings purity to intelligence (buddhi), and dhyana (meditation) expunges the stains of ego.

As the hot coal is covered by smoke, mirror by dust, embryo by the amnion, so the intoxicated intelligence covers the Self. – Bhagavad Gita 3.38

  • True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness.
    • Yoga is about how the Will, working with intelligence and the self-reflexive consciousness, can free us from the inevitability of the wavering mind and outwardly directed senses.
  • I do not say, “I am meditating.” I am not. I am practicing asana but at a level where the quality is meditative. The totality of being, from core to skin, is experienced. Mind is unruffled, intelligence is awake in heard rather than in head, self is quiescent, and conscious life is in every cell of the body.
  • Yoga is meditation, and meditation is yoga.
    • Meditation is the stilling of the movements of consciousness.
    • Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of consciousness.
  • The yogi is journeying in the opposite direction, from the world of things and events, which are so joyful, painful, baffling, and unending, back to the point of stillness before the waves were ruffled.
  • If we are a mansion with hundreds of rooms and corridors, we might say that normally we are always in one room or another. We are in our minds, in our memories, in our senses, in the future, eating so that we are in our stomachs, and thinking so that we are in our heads. We are always in one bit or another, but we never occupy all our inheritance. To experience the totality of being is to be in every room of the mansion at once with light streaming out of every window.
  • We use the word kaivalya for the state of Ultimate Freedom that follows samadhi, a state of aloneness, which means that one has merged with the infinite and can therefore never again be taken in by the appearances of the world of diversity.

The Divine Body (Ananda) – Bliss

  • Being ignorant of our true Self, we identify only with aspects of the natural world, which is in a state of flux.
  • When we first asked the question, “Who am I?” what we were truly hoping for was to discover an enduring identity, beyond roles or function or attribute, a “real” Self, real in the sense that it is not menaced by the mortality of the flesh but that is permanent and unchanging.
  • Discover the unknown, and you will encounter your own immortality.
  • We judge by externals and by worthless comparisons. We lose the possibilities of joy in the existence of others. We expect others to perform according to our desires and expectations.
    • The correct attitude to our “possessions” is gratitude, not ownership.
  • Love is transcendental and transcends the separation of death.
  • Naturally when you are sick, your biological body clings to life; it is supposed to. This is the struggle for existence, the reasonable desire to prolong the life of the vehicle of the soul. After all, it is not like a car. You cannot just buy another one.
    • We are not our body in any permanent sense, but for all practical purposes we are our bodies, because they are the vehicles through which we perceive and can discover immortality.
  • The Five Afflictions:
    • Avidya – ignorance, lack of knowledge, lack of understanding
    • Asmita – ego, sense of I-ness
    • Raga – attachment or desire
    • Dvesa – aversion, emotional repulsion and flight from pain, manifesting as prejudice and hatred
    • Abhinivesa – fear of death, clinging to life
  • Where there is pride there is always ignorance.
  • When we begin asana, we worry about the shape of the pose, that is, how we look in the mirror, in other words, the space we exclude. By now we should be worrying about  the space we include, the space within, for it is largely that which gives true life and beauty to the asana.
  • The eyes belong to mind and fire, the ears to awareness and space. The eyes are the window of the brain, the ears are the window of the soul.
    • The ears also witness silence. Silence is the music of samadhi.
  • To yoga, nature is nature and spirit is spirit. They intercommunicate, and the spiritual Soul is supreme, the abiding reality. But we must take nature seriously as we belong to it and live in it. To dismiss it as an illusion by a philosophical sleight of hand is, to the yogic mind, naïve.
    • Yoga sees nature and soul as inseparably joined like earth and sky are joined on the horizon.
  • The Three Gunas (qualities of nature):
    • Tamas – mass or inertia
    • Rajas – dynamism or vibrancy
    • Sattva – luminosity and serenity
  • Cosmic intelligence (mahat), which exists in all of us, is the first manifestation of the invisible. From cosmic intelligence sprout cosmic energy (prana) and consciousness (citta), and from these devolves ego (ahamkara) or the sense of self. From the one root comes duality (which is the ability to separate), from duality comes vibration (which is the pulse of life beginning), from vibration comes invisible manifestation, and from the invisible comes the visible in all its glorious and horrendous diversity and multiplicity.
  • Yoga dissects but it is not only analytical. It examines in order to know, like science, but it wants to know in order to penetrate, to integrate, and to reconstruct through practice and detachment the perfection of nature’s original intention.
  • We struggle from the gross material world into the subtle heart of nature, like the salmon returning to their source for both death and regeneration.
  • …recognizing that whether the fault is his or not, the solution is in his hands.
  • The knowledge and the effort are all within you. It is as simple and difficult as learning to discipline our own minds and hearts, our bodies and breath.
  • When the clouds covering the sun move away, the sun shines brilliantly. In the same way when the covering of the self in the form of afflictions, disturbances, and impediments is removed, the Self shines brilliantly in its own glory.
  • Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice.
  • Remember the Greek root meaning for actor is “hypocrite”.

Living in Freedom

  • The Ultimate Freedom is the fusion of our individual soul with the Universal Soul, as we release our own wants and wishes for a higher purpose and a higher knowledge of the will of the Absolute in our lives.
  • Ordinary people say, “I live my life.” The yogi is aware that it is the Divine Breath that lives us. And he can see that Divine Breath in others. His insight penetrates at all times beneath the surface of appearances. Essence is more real than expression.
  • Kaivalya is both freedom and aloneness. It is the aloneness of a prime number that, indivisible by any other number except Oneness itself, lives in unassailable innocence and virtue. The yogi has experienced the freedom that comes from realizing that life has nothing to do with perpetuating the existing of our mortal selves, either in its physical or egoic forms.
  • The realized yogi continue to function in the world, but free from the desires of motivation and free from the desire of the fruit or rewards of action.
  • Spiritual maturity exists when there is no difference between thought itself and the action that accompanies it.
  • A spiritual man with his knowledge and wisdom perceives the differences of age and intelligence between himself and others, but he never loses sight of the fact that the inner being is identical. Even though the man possesses an inner knowledge of such depth and subtlety that he visibly lives in a state of exalted wisdom, he also visibly lives with his feet planted firmly on the ground. He is practical and deals with people and their problems as and where they are.
  • The free man, although he still lives in a world of cause and effect, has learned to tread very lightly and to act with great precision.
  • Cleverness, acting alone, can be seen as a centrifugal force, likely to spin ever faster and to lose control of its original intention. Yogic knowledge is, on the contrary, a centripetal force, forever discarding the irrelevant in order to invest in the search for the core of being where enduring truth resides.
  • To relax is to cut tension. To cut tension is to cut the threads that bin us to identity. To lose identity is to find out who we are not.
  • The problem with Time is this. We can conceive of it only in spatial terms, like a running river or a piece of string. We divide up the string into decades, years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds. These are lengths of time, and whatever time is, it is not fair or accurate to treat it as a dimension of space.
  • Acting takes places over time; it has duration. Being transcends time. A state of being can be achieved only by cutting all threads that bind to past or future.
    • The ultimate yogic triumph is to live in kaivalya, outside time, you might say, but really inside it, inside its heart, disconnected from past and from future. That is to live always in the kernel of the present.
  • Being is not static, but like the heating water, it is a moment in present time, in certain state or condition, and from which, if we continue to add the flame of zealous practice, suddenly another state will spontaneously emerge, as if by magical transformation…We perceive only the sequence of these transformations in time, which is why we are caught in the illusion of becoming, instead of just being, and then being again, and being again, separately but transformatively, ad infinitum.
  • Life puts us in one place and time, and we must live it to the best of our abilities from that point.
  • The Four Aims of Life (Purusartha):
    • Dharma – doing one’s duty by living in the right way (religion or religious duty)
    • Artha – self-reliance of earning one’s own living
    • Kama – pleasures of love and human enjoyment
    • Moksa – freedom, liberation
  • It is our training for the greatest detachment that leads to the ultimate freedom, kaivalya.
  • Tradition is like a beautiful statue, which over the years, gradually returns to a raw lump of stone. It is our duty to chisel away at it and recarve the beauty of the original form within.

Behaving morally to ward other people requires that we respect them for themselves, instead of using them as a means for our enrichment or glory.

  • The yogi cannot be afraid to die, because he has brought life to every cell of his body. We are afraid to die, because we are afraid that we have not lived. The yogi has lived.
  • A yogi becomes a dharma – a righteous person who merely enacts his duty as an end and fulfillment in itself. This is what keeps him clean and free from worldly entanglements.
  • Wealth is energy, and energy is intended to circulate. By covetousness or miserly clinging on, we stop energy from flowing, from creating more energy, and eventually, by this offence against natural law, it is we who are impoverished and poisoned by our own hoarding of life’s riches.
  • We are creatures that are designed for continual challenge. We must grow, or we begin to die. The status quo leads to stagnation and discontent. Standing still is not an option, we have to move on.
  • Asana should be comfortable and steady. The steadiness comes only when the effort has ended.
  • Both birth and death are beyond the will of a human being. They are not my domain. I do not think about it. If one is already free from that complexity, death comes naturally and smoothly.

Asanas for Emotional Stability [PDF]

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Quotes, Yoga
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Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.

Physical health is not a commodity to be bargained for, nor can it be swallowed in the form of drugs and pills — it has to be earned through sweat. It is something that we must build up.

B.K.S. Iyengar

A Day at Agama Yoga in Mazunte

Posted: May 1, 2010 in Blog, Yoga
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Five weeks of yoga course have come to an end. An end that only marks the beginning of my spiritual path – the path to my inner self. Many beautiful people have helped me to get started on this path. They shared their beauty and love with me. I have no words to express my gratitude, so I intend to describe an exemplary day at Agama Yoga Mexico in Mazunte, where we once experienced the simplicity, the purity, and the pleasures of being.

6am: Wake up

Lying in my ‘bed’, I watch the morning sun break the horizon. The school is located on a cliff by the ocean and this is where some of the students sleep – a few blankets and a mosquito net. Always feeling refreshed, I put away the ‘bed’ and perform the five kriyas. I like to prepare breakfast while performing the final kriya which is washing my mouth with oil. Breakfast consists of cereal, yogurt and fresh tropical fruits. Papayas and mangoes are great here so they normally find their way into the morning mix. Sitting in the hammock, I enjoy my breakfast – in fact, I eat as slow as possible. The sun is rising, delicious food, still quiet all around – I take my time. As part of karma yoga, I water the plants around the school and after that, it is straight to typing up class notes from the previous day.

8am: Morning Class

A new asana is introduced every morning before we get into the hatha yoga practice. During the first week of the course, it was more theory focused – we were taught about the chakras and principles of yoga, so that we could understand what each asana is working on and where to concentrate our mind.

11am: Free Time

Apart from cooking lunch and eating, my free time is pretty much split between two things – reading and playing in nature. The school has an library on site with a great selection of books on the topics we touch upon in the lectures. The learning was natural as I was not only reading but also living by the same principles. A walk down the hill from the school is the closest beach and there are a couple more to choose from, all within 10 minutes walk. Swimming is a given but if you are adventurous, the magical Punta Cometa offers a rush of exhilaration. Trekking up a mountain, you will follow a path on top of giant boulders which leads you well into the ocean – an incredible spot to watch sunset, to feel the gusts of the ocean, or to enjoy a naturally formed jacuzzi and witness the power of the waves.

4pm: Afternoon Class

The afternoon class starts with 12 sets of sun salutation and is followed by hatha yoga practice.

6pm: Dinner

Much like lunch, dinner is simply and nutritious – brown rice and vegetables make up majority of my diet.

7pm: Evening Lecture

The evening lectures are always very interesting. We were taught the history of yoga, the branches of yoga, diet, among other topics. The main focus of the lectures was the yamas and the niyamas, which are the foundation of yoga.

11pm: Sleep

The moon and the stars tuck me in bed; the ocean waves tell me bedtime stories; and the sea breeze gently rock me asleep.

Weekends and Special Events

All the people that hang around the school are talented. As if that is not enough, there are many charismatic people who live in Mazunte and the nearby areas. Adding bright colors to my daily life, I learned West African dance, hula hooping, and Reiki; saw dolphins and sea turtles; received back massages and acupuncture; participated in contact improv, waterdance in the ocean, shamanic rituals, bonfire music, sanka praksalana, Temazcal, potlucks, and making chocolate.

Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering. You can be loving all the time. This is your choice. You may not have a reason to love, but you can love because to love makes you so happy.

Savasana

Posted: April 26, 2010 in Yoga
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[Great Further Reading]

Corpse Pose

Final relaxation after yoga practice.

  • When effort ceases we are able, if only briefly, to die into corpse pose. The void is left when the self is absent. When there are no views, no conceptions, no thoughts, no ideas, the world is seen in its actuality, with no filters, modifications, interpretations, goals, and qualifications.
  • We allow our conception of the world to pass on, we experience the world as it is in itself.
  • There is nothing to be done. Thinking comes to a standstill and an intuitive dialectical knowing, rather than a logical or rational understanding, occurs.
  • Our imagination makes us very busy exploring the world of choices. In the end, there will be no choice, just death.

A small death, every moment, every day.

– Pattabhi Jois