Yoga = Stirring the Ingredients = Balance


Yoga = Stirring the ingredients = Balance

Recently been wondering about how “easy” it is for yoga practitioners to get off their yogic practice path and fall into illness, sadness and/or depression.  It always surprises me how when someone new to yoga marvels about their feelings of balance and peace.  Shortly thereafter, they are equally amazed about how the experience dissipated.  True hatha yoga is about energy cultivation.  This classical hatha yoga from India is a process for the art of living well.   There are so many priorities in our world that may confuse or overwhelm us.  When we give up on ourselves we are allowing everything else to have power over us.  In fact zapping and depleting  our energy, and then what are we left with? Satsang can be translated to community for conscious exchanges and yoga classes can be our satsang.  When we have others around to help us stay on the path, to share their experiences, concerns and discoveries this all helps us in our own trust in our yoga.

One way to keep the glimmer of satsang is to keep inspirational texts close by to muse.  In this age of the internet, Youtube and blogs we can see, listen and follow those who share conscious living quite easily.  Like refreshing your computer screen these little visits refresh our outlook – inwards as well as outwards.  I found this quote from Sadhguru that helps me as a teacher see what may be happening for practitioners:

…The science of yoga essentially means this – even a little baby, if you pinch him, he will cry because he can feel his body.  But he may not be able to feel his thoughts and emotions to start with: he can just feel his body.  So the body is the first thing he feels.  The journey of yoga is to take you from the body, to different dimensions of who you are, to the ultimate core….in that sense…then you may be equipped.”

Many of us when overwhelmed lose our memory of our wellness when the “other” priorities take over.  In these depressed economic climates it is understandable that people are juggling priorities to stay protected in their work environments.  But is it worthwhile to forget ourselves and lose our personal power/ourselves?  While awaiting Sandy – the Epic Storm of our Lifetime, I have noticed so many institutions actually offering concern, guidance, and even compassion.  Banks offering forgiveness due to projected lapses due to the storm.  Businesses closing days early, cities closing public transport and roadways, colleges sending dormitory student populations home days ahead.  All this to get families together to manage the crisis as a unit, perhaps as a financial decision that does in fact allow for some family bonding.  Rather amazing that the crisis elevates institutions to compassionate legislation and executive decisions.  Do we have to wait for a crisis of an even greater magnitude for executive decisions to remind us to stay on our yogic path.  Perhaps yes?  Sadhguru commented when asked    “is 2012 the end of the world?” – What is there to worry about if the world is over, no worries he says!  Our real concerns are what to do with our problems plaguing us with the environment, poverty, famine, corruption, etc.  How easily we can be distracted from the main event!!! We can become so numb that we cannot see how our thoughts are distracting us from our real priorities to be effective in all aspects.  We rather contemplate doomsday prophecies than work on solutions to the real crises that plague us.  We are in general the type of being who lapse in our practices and fall ill or sick, time and time again.  We can become like the little baby who cries when pinched…because we ignored the information at the mental, emotional, energetic screens.

What does Sadhguru mean when he says…“then you may be equipped” ? Equipped to grow up towards: strength, health & well-being, compassion for self and others, higher creativity, mental clarity with ease, higher powers of intuition, successes in all endeavors, these follow once the equipment is in place.  The question I continually have for practitioners is are we doing hatha yoga for exercise?  When classical yoga is anaerobic not aerobic, one should not confuse the two and both activities are necessary for optimal health.  True hatha yoga is like stirring a pot of soup to mix the ingredients, to blend and marry the flavors evenly….after some time when we stop stirring the ladle in the pot the ingredients slow the revolutions until it comes to a dead stop….stillness.  Are we doing hatha yoga for energy cultivation and harmony then why stop the stirring before we are ready for a full stop?   Frankenstorm aka Sandy is stirring up lots…are we equipped to manage during the storm and equally important to handle the aftermath?  Namaste


125 responses »

  1. Though the events of this article may have passed, the article’s content and context are still very much relevant. I agree that people do tend to lose track of the things that truly matter within their chaotic lives. With each passing day, there seems to be some new danger brewing or some new failure eminent and people feel powerless and give in. When we lose faith in ourselves, we relinquish our power and self worth to others and achieve nothing. Yet we must take time to look within and reclaim our own worth, recognize who we are and strive to grow, not let outside forces limit the amount we are able to do so. The introspective stillness that yoga brings is one that makes us realize our own strength, clarity, and creativity and through this, we are able to deal with a great number of situations once we stop focusing on the problem and start looking for a solution. With something like a natural disaster, we must accept that we do not have control of the storms course, rather we have control over how we choose to perceive the storm after it passes and whether we choose to grovel in our own incapability to alter the natural course of something or decide to stay strong and rebuild. Through yoga, we can discover who we are, choose to live a more positive and balanced life, becoming strong through the bonds we share.

    This week, I have practiced the IK four times. At this point, I can feel the vibration in the middle of my forehead almost immediately after starting. It feels easier to concentrate on the practice while dismissing the outside world that used to distract me a lot whenever I went to do the IK previously. I feel calm, collected and re-energized when I have finished and the passed stresses that I felt seem to melt away while my mind feels clear and allows me to think in a more level-headed fashion. I think that the IK has been beneficial so far and I cannot wait to see how the practice changes for me through the course of the semester.

  2. I have struggled with body image and mental illness for a good part of my life. Therefore, the one part of this reading that spoke most to me was “The journey of yoga is to take you from the body to different dimensions of who you are, to the ultimate core….in that sense…then you may be equipped.” I have always thought of yoga as solely a physical health aid – something I have struggled with. I find it hard to focus on my physical being before my mental health, as the physical issues are something that effects my mental health. This class has actually stirred up a lot of these feelings and thoughts and has made me want to work on my whole being. I have begun to work on creating a better diet plan for the next year, and am working towards a better physical health in hopes that my mental health will follow. I am hoping this focus more on my physical wellbeing will do exactly as Sadhguru says, and equip me for better wellness.

    I have previously mentioned in essays that I am a person who suffers from mental illness (MI) – specifically anxiety and depression. Some days, my MI causes me to dissociate from the world around me – or completely disconnect. There have been days where I have dissociated for hours and did not realize it until I started to come out of it. It is something that I started dealing with much more about a year and a half ago. I have found a lot of techniques to try to prevent the dissociations when it is coming on, the biggest one being sitting still and breathing for about thirty seconds. I wanted to take hatha yoga this semester for the purpose of working through and with my anxiety. I had read many places that this type of yoga had helped with anxiety and general stress. I had done the simple breathing, and I was ready to add more. Therefore, when I started hatha yoga, and more specifically Isha Kriya (IK) this semester, it was not a foreign thing to me. It was much harder to get into because I have never sat still and battled my thoughts for as long as IK calls for, but I knew the basics. I have found, that by doing this my assigned four times a week, I am able to combat my anxiety. When I am able to catch it coming on, I can sit and do my Isha Kriya to try to prevent the dissociations. Sometimes it definitely works better than others – depending on how far into my anxious state I am. I have found this a wonderful one of many ways that IK has been able to further my wellbeing throughout the week.

  3. I found this inspiring because it talked about how when you are practicing yoga sometimes you can get thrown off by distractions, but you shouldn’t give up. I know I tend to get sidetracked a lot, and I think I also sometimes give up on things too easily if they seem intimidating or hard. I didn’t totally understand the quote that was in the middle of this passage about how if you pinch a baby they will cry without fully realizing it and it said that that is related to the journey of yoga which made me really confused although as a whole I thought this passage was useful, and maybe I’ll understand the quote more later.

  4. When yoga practitioners practice yoga everyday, with physical, mental, and spiritual techniques, it’s hard to fall into illness, sadness and/or depression because they are often studying their bodies and connecting with themselves more than emotionally and physically but spiritually. Practitioners have displicined themselves to take care of what’s hurting them immediately instead of ignoring their problems. Yoga is a great form of exercise but it also makes the mind stronger with meditation to help someone overcome their suffering, inner peace and salvation.

    In disaster situations, it can really bring friends and families together because we often lose our internal power so we must rely on someone else. My family was impacted by the super typhoon in the Philippines and it created physical damage to our family, but we learned from experience and made us stronger as an unit because we realized our priorities should be helping each other out rather than creating anger and lashing out.

    I practiced Isha Kriya with Sadhguru’s “Learn Isha Kriya Online” video twice this week and twice without the video. I’ve notice each time, I’m becoming more relaxed, which is motivating me to practice and concentrate more. Before, I couldn’t focus on my mind because my back position was stressing me out, but now I’ve became less tense. I’ve practiced 4 times this week and all times, I’ve done them at night because they would make me relax for bed. It’s exciting for me personally that I don’t need the video anymore.

    -Melenie Warner

  5. I sometimes suffer from very bad stress and I sometimes forget who I am as an individual now and slowly start to become to old me with the bad temper. I do feel that this class is helping me better my understanding of who I am as a person and helping me better my mind in the long run. As I continue my journey in yoga for this semester I have actually noticed how the Isha Kriya have decreased my leave of stress and also has kept me calm through the difficult years. As I look into my future I feel it getting better and stronger due to the IK exercises. I makes me want to continue doing yoga more than once a week the energy we need to keep our bodies healthy and fit for the next change that comes at us. Knowing the IK is right at my fingertips makes me so happy and calm.

  6. I can relate to this article so much. When I first began practicing Isha Kriya, I was alert and it was a new experience. This new balance and relaxation in my life was wonderful. However, the question became, how do I keep this going? When we exercise, at first, we become sore, but we also become toned and lose weight. However, when we continue to do the same exercises, they lose their effect. Similarly, when I first began practicing yoga on a deep level, I felt peace and calm. However, in order to maintain this, I must continue to cultivate my mind and expand my practice. I practiced Isha Kriya in the mornings and sometimes at night. To change up my routine, I am beginning to practice during the day as well as in the morning. I also added the finger hold exercise to my practice. When I do practice, I try not to go through the motions. When we do the same thing over and over again, we fall into routine and we lose the significance of our practice. I make an effort to be fully engaged when practicing. I find it helpful to practice every week in class. People say to surround yourself with those who have the same goals as you. By surrounding myself with fellow yogis, I stay motivated to practice and advance in my yoga. As mentioned in the article, we sometimes become overwhelmed by life and start to forget ourselves. We are in such a frenzy to maintain schedules that life begins to control us when we should be controlling our lives. As I continue my practices, I do sometimes find it difficult to be fully immersed in my practice. Sometimes, I start becoming anxious when painting or checking social media. However, I make a strong effort to practice. This keeps my stress at bay so I can stay on path with my practice. As I move forward with my yoga, I hope to keep stirring my pot by changing up my practices and making a conscious effort to be engaged.

    • Well stated….the more you allow yourself to be present while practicing hatha yoga you will be able to appreciate every moment is different and each practice is always different even if it is the exact sadhana.

  7. After reading this blog post it brought me to the realization of many things. I like the idea that “the journey of yoga is to take you from the body to different dimensions of who you are, to the ultimate core.” Which is believable because for yoga you have to create a connection with the inner pieces of yourself to create the balance. The ideas that many of us when overwhelmed lose our memory of our wellness when the “other” priorities take over is true especially for me because for example, when I’m not so stressed out I feel very balanced but once I start with everything that has to get done I let that overpower the balance that was already established. I don’t think it is worthwhile to forget ourselves and lose our personal power because that is what keeps us leveled at all times and the priorities we have shouldn’t overpower that we should be able to have the two work together. I believe that it is crazy that the ideas about the crisis of the world ending had the ability to take our focus away from the other horrible things that are happening in the world and I never realized that concept of “worries about the world ending in 2012 when we should worry about our problems within the environment, poverty, famine, corruption, etc.” That is such a great point that should be spoken about, also i have noticed that we become so numb that we cannot see how our own thoughts distract us from our own priorities, that often happens with me especially at this moment because I am going through a breakup and I let that cloud all the other responsibilities that I have here at college and I have to work on focusing on my balance. And that is where my practice of IK comes in and lets me be able to focus on myself and my balance internally rather than worrying about everything else that is going on, I still use the video for the sense of the background noise so I don’t get fidgety. I still try to practice 4 times.

  8. It is quite something how people can go from feeling balanced and at peace with themselves to feeling down and defeated if they falter in some way. It is important to find that balance of energy within oneself, but it is equally as important to maintain that balance. It is true that people need to be willing to change themselves to truly cultivate energy, but people cannot achieve that change alone. People need a community to help them along the way and keep them on tract to stay positive.
    That does not mean that a calamity or a major event needs to happen for that community to come together. The community does not need to be something too big or too physical. Even looking at positive messages online is a form of community to keep balance with oneself. When that energy is cultivated and people do not stop too early or falter in their practices, people become aware of more than just the surface of themselves. They can become more aware of their inner selves.
    In terms of doing the Isha Kriya, I have set up a daily routine and do the practice every night. I find doing the Isha Kriya at night to be more calming than doing it during the day outside of class. I have the image of the day getting rest and recharging for tomorrow in the same way that I am winding down with this practice. I have done the practice on my own without any assistance a few times.

  9. Personally, I feel like we need dark to show light. We need light to show dark. With that being said, in order to see happiness, we need to have experienced or seen sadness/depression. As kids, we grew up always trying to look at the bright side of things. But in order to see a bright side, we needed to be aware that there is a dark side. If not, we would just be looking at one point of view and that point of view would just be considered the norm. Honestly, kind of sounds boring to me.

    I think it’s cool that yoga practitioners experience ultimate oneness but then get on a path of depression. They probably started yoga with depression and realized it was a way to distract the demons inside and calm them down. But in reality, they never go away. When we’re happy, when we feel like nothing can stop us, our demons have not disappeared. They are simply being over shined by our brightness through our happiness at the time. But there will always be a cloud on its way. And what’s wrong with that? Again, to see light, we need dark. Going through a dark time can help us revaluate ourselves as human beings and adjust the things we want. Darkness gives us the opportunity to continue constructing ourselves.

    I have been practicing the Isha Kriya and am realizing that the more I do it, the more I’m beginning to shut my thoughts up. It has been such a struggle to be able to ignore my thoughts. They speak with a microphone and won’t get off the stage until I give them attention.

  10. I am experienced this excitement about my practice and have also experienced the discord. It brings confusion to me because I don’t understand why I shift from the extremes so frequently and truly desire to have a balance so that I can keep with my practice. Without this I will continue to go back and forth, in and out. That’s not really something I want, right now what I think I want more than anything, with yoga, with painting, drawing, reading, and many other things I want to do, is consistency. I don’t want to over work myself one time just to resist it the next. I want to be able to return to these things knowing that I am returning to myself, that I am there for myself and because I Want to be there. I feel so much resistance toward my yoga practice (and other things that I love), I know it’s what I truly want but I also feel as though I can’t bring myself to do it sometimes, to show up for myself.
    “When we give up on ourselves we allow everything else have power over us.”
    We feel that we must be rewarded and the reward is holding the attention of others, to share with others always something involving another. When I recently just came to the realization that the trust reward is to have the attention of myself, to allow ourselves to have our own full attention, being here with ourselves through and through, day in-day out.
    I think Satsang is a very valuable thing because it allows you witness your own individual being be there for yourself with others who are with themselves as well. Embracing that you are in fact not alone in your journey.
    As for inspirational texts, I have a few apps on my phone that help me to bring myself back to the present moment of the outside and inside aspects of myself. The Now, Affirmation, and I Am are two that I can think of right now. I love reading and writing, I wish I had once place to store all the inspiration texts that I find, soon I will find that place I’m sure, I think I need to create it and commit to that once place. I also discovered another app recently called Forest, that helps focus and doesn’t allow you to use your phone, this has really been helping me to be present with my work and myself. I feel like I becoming not only more productive but more present in my productivity.
    How do we know what is our true wellness if we are only just being exposed to it? How do we identify it and know it is indeed ours? Knowing that this is how things should be? There’s been multiple times where after class I am feeling so whole, so whole that I don’t want to continue anything for the rest of the day, even when I have lots of work to do. Maybe the solution is to finish all my work before our Wednesday classes so I can use the whole day to just enjoy the cultivation of my energy. Hm.
    I’ve never understood why things need to become so extreme for people to become receptive to the damages. I suppose I can’t deny that this does happen within myself. It’s like that one quote that says something like, “you don’t have to give until it hurts.” One of my friends who goes to school in VT told me how every other week or every two weeks or so they get a week off because of the suicide rate. This is something I really found interesting, and inspiring, the compassion that is given to students is amazing, it really allows them to have the space that they may need, it also helps for ideas and concepts they may be learning about to really settle in.
    Lastly, something that I think a lot of us do too much is think too much, and do too little. Instead of spending the time we have moving we stop and think about all these things that don’t exist. I understand some thinking is necessary but not as much as we are doing now. Actions speak louder than words, and thoughts are basically just words and images that aren’t really anything until you take the action to make them into something.
    Again, I believe the whole idea is about the process, finding balance and making it a part of the process, that way the extremes of good and bad cease to exist and rule.

    • You are very sensitive to your environment and your experiences and as you gathered it’s important to protect yourself by grounding and have restful experiences. Do work towards this being a priority, thanks for sharing the information about useful apps, Namaste

  11. It is very true that “many of us when overwhelmed lose our memory of our wellness.” I am deliberately leaving out the rest of your sentence not to contort the meaning of the original but to highlight that individuals do tend to forget happy memories during times of depression. When we are depressed, the world takes on a different hue; it is what is referred to as seeing the world through a different colored lens.

    What does Sadhguru mean when he says this? Perhaps he means: Are we able to look beyond the temporary to find the permanence? In other words, we equip ourselves with the knowledge that whatever happens our wellness is not contingent upon present circumstances.

    I do wonder about what happens for people who suffer in the mind regardless of circumstance. I am speaking of those who live with mental illness. I ask this earnestly: when an individual with a mental illness goes “from the body, to different dimensions of who you are, to the ultimate core” what is that core? Has Sadhguru ever spoken of this?

    • Sadhguru often speaks about us all having bouts of mental instability, you may want to browse the Isha Foundation and his own YouTube channels for the hundreds of helpful videos posted. Remember all the answers you need are stored inside of you and your mindful practices will allow you to unpeeled the layers until you may reveal the answers. Pranayama is useful to balance the left and right side of the brain which may become stagnant when blues and depression are present. Another way to get out of a depressed state is to offer service to those less fortunate in a selfless way. Sometimes people are left with too much time alone and they overthink everything especially seeking to place themselves in a relative position to others perceived as normal. We each are a mere speck of the universe and cannot expect to be the most important aspect when the stars, moon, planets, sun, oceans, all are striving for balance as we continue to ruin the environment. There are zillions of people, mega zillions of animals and plant life all apart of our reality and we should spend time in awe of the dance between it all, instead of placing ourselves first. Namaste

  12. The IK is an “activity” that calms me. I notice when I practice that I find my self drifting to a dream like state. But not for very long. When I think to much about the day, and what it is I have to get done. I fall out of meditation. But once this happens, and I tell my self to just acknowledge it and move one. I find my self back in my dream. Once here my mind sits in a dark void of a place and I feel blank. no emotion, just blank. I can stay here for what feels like seconds, when in reality it’s been five to ten minuets. Part of me wishes I could feel this “blank” for those minuets. To just be empty and know that I am using my time for me, to feel that slow passage of time. But then wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of the mediation?

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