Listen to “The Secrets of the Yamas”

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****To listen to the audio clip do click on the first line below onto “omlinkblog”****

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The above link is an audio clip, the source is from a book written by John McAfee. It is a small little book that I find has such profound relevance for the true purpose of Classical hatha yoga. In the next few posts I will read the chapters and hopefully give you something to contemplate about your yoga practice. I find that speaking and reading aloud helps me to deeply place the thoughts somewhere inside where I can explore the concepts deeper. Its one thing to write and study yogic texts and another entirely different thing to realize and live the concepts. This is hard work to distill to our basic core, but it is most fulfilling, I hope you have the patience and courage to lift up your experience. Again, I remind myself the best way to do this work is to stay with the Isha Kriya practice for…

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28 responses »

  1. It’s very interesting to find out that the asana’s, although helping in many aspects to maintain our bodies, do not do as much as we wish for ourselves. To reach a higher understanding and become more self-conscious, there must be more than the physical postures. They are still important but without a full knowledge of their true value. We cannot come to fully understand ourselves and live life to the fullest if we do not learn the whole of yoga as a practice and learn everything it can teach. While physically and mentally we have grown vastly, there is still much within ourselves to learn. It would be interesting to read the full book The Secret of the Yamas. Yoga is meant to help understand the self and if it can explain more of what yoga has in store for someone who practices it, then it would be a wonderful source of knowledge.

  2. While I do love how far technology has come and what wonders it has done for our world, I am noticing how at almost all hours of the day I am looking at a screen – my phone or computer or television. How much of this leads to stress, I wonder? I strive to be self-aware; yet actually being self-aware is quite another thing. To actually explore ones reasoning and thinking and action is difficult and requires focus, as we as beings are so drawn to distractions. Yoga as a practice can help to expand ones thinking and to understand the allure of distractions. I was not aware of this aspect of yoga; I believed the asanas, flexibility, and strength were its goals. I am looking forward to discovering more about yoga, and applying it to my daily life, to understand myself more.
    Kristen Breitmaier

  3. Even in my first time doing yoga, its very interesting to have discovered that the Secret’s of the Yamas sounds like a good book. It even taught me something. Alot of times, me and other people are so distracted and preoccupid with alot of work that must be done. This causes us so much stress that we do find the time to stop and smell the roses or think about our health. I believe this is an important aspect, because it can help us focus on the inner depths of ourselves and better to understand ourselves then go ahead and let it go to waste. I believe a peaceful mind is a good mind and it helps your soul. Jimmy Harrington.

  4. I like that you write that we should continue to turn these ideas over inside to own them in our own thoughts and that we become what we meditate upon. I believe that our thoughts deeply effect how we behave, perceive the situation we are in, and respond to it. Our thoughts, negative or positive, I think also effect the people around us, a sort of invisible effect. It was interesting that the physical poses and effects of yoga, what I took to be at the core of the yoga practice, is only the side effect of the yoga practice. The process of knowing the self and a true self understanding lies at the core of the yoga practice and is the true experience of reality. I am interested to know more about the effects of yoga that focus on the mental and internal, versus the external and physical. — savannah

  5. I agree! Nowadays, yoga is commonly explained and practiced as a physical hobby rather than a spiritual finding of ourselves. With so much technology arising, we become less self conscious or aware of our true values, we forget to love ourselves or take time alone. I signed up for the class thinking it would help me physically, but as I work through these assignments and participate in class, I have realized that it will help me grow on a spiritual level, to find myself and become a better person when dealing with different situations at work and school. Everyone should take a minute daily to be alone and truly enjoy their existence.
    -Laura Sanchez

  6. With school picking up and life gaining motion faster than I can keep up I wonder how do I maintain my level of sanity. These last few readings have been very eye opening, even with a little knowledge on the power of self consciousness. To be self conscious is a difficult task and to stay focused, at least for me, is even harder. I have never truly practiced Hatha yoga but I have practiced vinyasa, the classic westernized version of yoga, the yoga that emphasizes physical strength. But even in my practice to maintain physical health, I always keep with me that the journey i take, and not just in yoga, has to be mindful. I must understand why I stand the way I do , why I breathe how I breathe, and sit how I sit. Every movement I take has to be understood. We are all human that carry plenty of chaos and yes, it is true, technology, friendships, alcohol, these “distractions” keep us from confronting our true selves – something that is daunting to many. “Who am I?” May lead to an existential crisis, breakdown , or even so change. There are many questions I pose myself for everyday and the realism maybe I just have to stop the noise in my head, sit, and breathe. This semester I will propose I eat healthier, back away from my phone, computer, be self aware, and start taking control of the yamas.

    • Another good entry….so wonderful that you are sharing in our class this semester! I admire your honesty and willingness to stay on the path and become more diligent with your practices….these are the necessary ingredients for a successful transformation! Namaste

  7. Yadira Guevara Prip
    It is true that our culture values material outcomes over spiritual awareness. With the advancement of technology we find an abundance of distractions, and when deeper questions arise, about who we are and and where we belong, it is an easy habit to look outside of ourselves- especially with so much out there to look at. Open a profile on any social media and you will be bombarded with images and and words that show (often inaccurately) the many ways other people live. Yoga is a sensation on the internet. The most popular videos often have a beautiful, slender (white) woman in an impressive pose, showing off their flexibility and strength along with their new clothes and a long paragraph beneath it about how a miracle tea will make you drop 10 pounds in a week.
    In a society that has so much external stimulus, people do not think to look inside themselves for the answers they seek. There is little money in teaching self aware-ness. It is much more profitable to convince people that they need the BigBooty/FlatStomach fitness program to be happy. It’s a never ending rat race because it is believed that the more material things things a person has, the better off they are.
    Growing up in such a culture, I have found that I desire material solutions to my personal problems. I’ve been told by many of my good teachers that I possess the key to my own happiness, and I know it is true, but materialism is a trap that is easily fallen into. I have taken yoga from many different instructors. Those that have told me to look inside myself, to recognize who I am, have been the most helpful to me. Self discovery is essential to happiness, and it does not come with out a bit of guidance.

  8. I really enjoyed this listening to this passage, as it helped me to better understand the foundation of yoga and how it was designed to create a more profound sense of self-awareness in the practitioner. Today, as yoga is commonly used as a form of physical exercise in the Western world, many classes seem to be geared towards moving through asanas and working on challenging poses in order to increase our physical strength. I admit that I’ve continually sought yoga for this reason, though I always enjoyed the meditative aspects of classes as well. In this passage, it was interesting to hear McAfee call the physical aspect of yoga, which we place so much emphasis on in our culture, a side effect of the practice, and how asanas truly were only intended to play a small role in our yoga practices. While the classes that I’ve attended have almost always contained some portion of breathing exercises, chant, or meditation in addition to the physical portion of the practice, it’s interesting to hear McAfee point out that this is also a form of diversion from what yoga is really meant to help us do – look inward. Already, I’ve had such a different experience in our Hatha yoga class, and I’m really enjoying beginning the journey to self-awareness, and learning how to face myself without the typical discomfort and anxiety I experience.

    – Alexandra S.

  9. Something that I appreciated being mentioned in this post was that concerning the potent side effects of yoga, as opposed to the central purpose of helping foster self-realization. I believe that many time a student may become fascinated by the side effects themselves and begin to pursue them. While I don’t see them as negative in themselves, I do believe that the search for side effects, or a “spiritual high”, can wind one up in a difficult place. Also, in many cases it can cause a direct interference with the experience itself. In my experience, trying to milk a certain side effect by focusing on it will often disrupt the progression of whichever practice I am involved in at the time. Thus, my focus will serve me best if it remains on the practice and on my breath.
    The notion that self-discovery is often reserved for the category of Mysticism is something that I experience and see as evident in society. In my experience, talk of inner work is often met with peculiar reactions in our modern culture. It seems as though many people often feel uncomfortable when topics they consider too serious or sensitive are brought up. It is very surprising to me that more people aren’t discussing information such as this because I see it as worthwhile to say the least. I personally believe that anyone can benefit from approaching self-discovery, and should try to become more comfortable with talking about it. However, I have found that a balance is best for this as well. Over-intellectualization can cause dismay, similarly to the idea of pursuing side effects mentioned earlier.

    – Conrad Hamonet –

    • Thanks for a well written and well stated Journal entry. Your honest personal experiences and opinions are well here. You have invested adequate time reviewing the information from the post as well…keep up this quality writing for the semester, Namaste

  10. I appreciated this reading and its simple explanations of the basic structures of yoga. I have believed for a long time that the physical and mental practice of yoga is extremely important to the individual’s growth, and John McAfee puts it simply. We cannot grow without looking inward. Self knowledge and self reflection are especially important as the individual journeys through transitional periods of their life.
    College is an extremely taxing period of development, both mentally and physically – some might even say spiritually. So much energy is spent on this strange goal: the diploma, a degree to help you as you head into the workforce. What is the point of a diploma if the individual has not put their energy into the right program and learned about themselves and their abilities within this specific field while they were at it? Taking a breather several times a week, putting your attention to the practice of yoga, looking inward and gauging your energy, your emotions; this is an important ritual for a student.
    College students are expected to be at top performance and constantly applying themselves to essays, readings and projects, but I do not believe anyone can do their best work without taking time for themselves. Yoga is an extremely effective way of focusing on yourself. Distractions like homework and the future after your four years are done clear away. You are left with understanding of what is working for you in this journey, what you need to change, and whether the people in your life are uplifting you or holding you back.

  11. The excerpt from the audio clip of “The Secrets of the Yamas” posed many questions relating to our habits that can distract us and keep us from knowing ourselves. Self awareness is a concept heavily discussed in this excerpt, and made me question why we constantly seek stimulating activities to keep us busy from our own selves. I believe that we use technology as comfort, to draw us away from pressing issues. We look for answers and focus on external objects to feel secure, or even use them as a shield of protection rather than looking within ourselves, and being aware of our inner mind. Focusing on our external world can drive us further away from ourselves, through things such as the media and social networking. To know and understand ourselves and how we function will enable us to take better care of ourselves. A few years ago I started to understand who I was as a person, why I had the temperament I did, and it made things a lot easier for me. After understanding and knowing myself better (I had discovered I was an introverted empath, constantly drained from other peoples energies), I was able to be more self accepting and take care of myself better. Although I still don’t understand myself completely, I am much more in tune with mind and its complexities.

    • Excellent that you chose to start the Work on your own personal development and value what you learned from this type of exploration! A much better written Journal entry, Namaste

  12. If nothing else, I believe yoga gives us a quiet time to break from the chaos of our daily lives. During the practice of yoga, we not only allow ourselves time to be alone with ourselves, but we allow ourselves to truly experience the sensations of our body, in a way we are not normally able due to constant distraction. In yoga, you can feel each movement your body makes, you are aware of each breath you take. It allows us to connect to the forms we physically occupy. In day to day life, much of ones actions are performed without any real thought, done almost automatically. Yoga requires we put thought into each movement, emphasizing our connection and appreciation of our bodies.

    • A good beginning Journal entry however, to earn a satisfactory grade do invest more time reviewing the information shared, adding personal experiences and contrasting and /or adding comparative resources….Namaste

  13. Discovering yourself and your body is a big part of yoga. I really want to focus on myself and my strengths and weaknesses throughout this class. I want to learn where I can make improvements and what I’m currently succeeding at. So far I’m realizing that the best way for me to deal with my stress is to just take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, I remind myself that I am in control of my life and I can do whatever I want if I put my mind to it. Being in yoga, it’s almost like I’m being reintroduced to myself and my body.

    • Wonderful that you have chosen to employ yoga to re-introduce yourself to You! Please do take more time when writing your Journal entries to explain your statements, review the data in the post and/or share contrasting or comparative resources…OM

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