Tag Archives: Ashtanga Yoga

Happy Diwali…..What’s the Significance of this Indian Festival?

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Asato Ma Sat Gamaya Tamaso Ma, Jyotir Gamaya Mrityor Ma, Amritam Gayama, Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti OM

We recite this invocation at every yoga sadhana: Take us from the unreal, to the real, take us from darkness to Light, Take us from death to immortality.  This is from the ancient Brihadaranyak Upanishad, 1.3.28….

This reference about darkness and light relates to ignorance and knowledge.  Ignorance, like darkness obscures true understanding.  The remedy for darkness is light, and the remedy for ignorance  is knowledge of one’s own true nature, our Divine Spirit.

The cultural significance is this festival is a way to enjoy and celebrate our Spiritual Birth, our Second Birth.  Diwali celebrations take place all over the whole subcontinent of India, from north to south, east to west, from different religions from Hindu, Sikh to Jain and Christian, including Muslim as it is an agrarian harvest celebration and the business of farming includes all who consume.  The festival spreads over five days, historically marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of the winter season.  Farmers give thanks for their bounty and wealth.  Lakshmi is the deity associated with wealth and is celebrated to bring continued good fortune for families.

Diwali, (spelled differently depending on the state and religious background) means lighting diyas (small clay vessels filled with oil and lit with cotton wicks).  These lights are arranged in huge arrays in beautiful patterns like the rangoli drawings (like the background pictures on this homepage.  The picture just above this text has tea light candles as any candle may be used and fire crackers are often lighted to celebrate the spark of our inner light.

The Yogic and Spiritual significance celebrates the realization of our own inner Light.  Honoring, Atman, the pure, infinite and eternal Divine Energy which can be awakened in all people.  This celebration of victory of good over evil signifies the victory of self-knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness.  The awareness that we are much more than our physical body, but an infinite, ever-present Spirit.  Every year people celebrate their birthday and Diwali celebrates their second birth…the Spiritual Awakening…our Inner Light…the true reality for All.

I read this as a post on Facebook…“Auditions are being held for you to be yourself…Apply within.”

May you choose to wake up and realize your Inner Light!  HAPPY DIWALI!!!!!!!!!

Hari OM Tat Sat OM

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The seven chakras and their significance | The Isha Blog

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The seven chakras and their significance | The Isha Blog.

I guess it’s because of the Yoga media hype that so many have heard the word chakras.  This media has given a heightened mystical twist about the chakras and so many students, especially those new to the practice are so fast to ask about how they can know and experience their chakras.   These are the same students who do not regularly show up for classes, are easily distracted and make excuses, fall ill over and over again.  It is so amazing that the media can trick us into believing that we can “own” and master a phenomenon, which does not exist on the physical plane.  Why would someone think they can access such an advanced stage of awareness when they have not yet decided to engage themselves regularly on the physical plane?  To access experiences that grow cumulatively we must invest and dedicate ourselves on a regular basis.  Just like the steam from boiling water evaporates leaving cooler temperatures when the fire dies down, our energies lose their vibration in a similar way.   Only when we seek an authentic hatha yoga with the support and guidance of an experienced teacher will we be able to access the more subtle aspects of awareness.  But hey, with so many distractions that we can easily become engaged in and possibly addicted to…who needs awareness…especially at the cost of having to divide our time or worse divert our time away from our distractions.   Mediocrity is the norm nowadays and with it comes lower vitality until it ebbs away and morphs into illnesses from anxiety, nervous disorders, disease in various forms.  The easy solution for many becomes medication that may give acceptable results along with toxic buildup.  Why is it so hard to choose to make time to create ease, wellness and pleasantness for ourselves? Why is it so easy to ask the hard questions rather than sit and apply the easy practices that create Joy?  Witness the silly monkey brain, jumping all around, never staying still for long.  Witness the carrot and stick behavior we take part in: we can follow our job description in  a routine fashion for days, months, years because it brings the pay check and benefits.  In other areas of our lives we cannot easily follow regimes, why?  Bottom line….doing the Isha Kriya is easy….practicing hatha yoga is easy…..knowing your chakras is hard….but the only way to get there is to make a commitment to staying on the path with your daily practices.   Let’s start where it is easy and possible to gain mastery.  Maybe you may experience the powers from the chakras, maybe not, but you will surely know pleasantness if you stay with your practices.  When we choose to become conscious we choose reality and I choose to keep on the path with my practices.  I wish that you too may choose to stay on your path with your practices daily….OM

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What’s a Mudra? Isha Blog explains…..The Science of Mudras…

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There are hundreds of hand mudras and in our hatha yoga we use many, Om mudra, Chin mudra, are commonly known.  Thanks to the Isha Blog for writing about the science behind these hand gestures which when practiced regularly aid in our practices.  I share this with a friend in mind, Kathie, for sharing time to visit the Carmel Monastery/Temple complex.  She asked questions about the significance of mudras and being caught up in the ambience and serenity of the Temple I felt I didn’t fully respond to her inquiry.  So grateful that Kathie took time to start off my Pre-Birthday Season with my Favorite pastime, Temple Sojourns, not as worship but to allow the magnificent energies to wash over and through!  Do click the link below to read about the science of mudras….please share with your Yogini and Yogi friends, thanks and Namaste.

“The rule of friendship means there should be mutual sympathy between them, each supplying what the other lacks and trying to benefit the other, always using friendly and sincere words.”   The Buddha

The Science of Mudras.

Facts about the Evolution of Yoga to Impress your Friends | Isha USA Blog | Be, Breathe, Blossom

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We are best at creating a meditative quality through our Yogic Practices...read and listen to Sadhguru explain more about this....

Facts about the Evolution of Yoga to Impress your Friends | Isha USA Blog | Be, Breathe, Blossom.

Please click the link above to connect to the article posted by Isha USA Blog, thanks and please do share, Namaste.

8 Limbs – The real Ashtanga !!!!

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For so many living and following yoga in the west Ashtanga can mean so many things.  It can be a name of a restaurant, a line of clothing or beauty product, a record label or a yoga style made famous by Madonna.  Not sure if Madonna would want to steal Shri Patanjali’s thunder, but it is in fact our most famous sacred Father of Indian Classical Yoga who penned the list.  The eight-fold path or Ashtanga encompasses the entire evolutionary process for this spiritual path.  At the base of these guidelines are the Yama and Niyama, (listed in the two previous posts).  Yama and Niyama comprise the basic, timeless, universal code for behavior and some important guidelines for daily living.  The Yama and Niyama may lead one towards a balanced regimen for individual discipline.  The first six practices are merely preparatory for the first goal of spiritual quest- Meditation.  Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are purely mental and spiritual practices concerned with transformation.

Ashtanga, the eight-fold path, is a practical, workable system of self development that helps to control body and mind, and to live a balanced lifestyle: mentally, physically and emotionally.  Through understanding the intricate connection between body and mind, what causes distractions and obstacles in life, comes a willingness to use these guidelines to achieve the balance of body and mind, eventually leading to self-realization.  Success is measured  by practicing each step orderly and do know the Isha Kriya will allow you embody 4-8, when completing 108 mandalas.  We can use consciousness and awareness as terms in alignment with self-realization.  Without further ado here are the infamous 8:

1. Yamaethical practices

2. Niyamaconscious observances

3. Asanaphysical postures designed to release mental tensions and stresses lodged in the physical body

4. Pranayama the science of breath control to balance prana (life force) in the body, mind and emotions

5. Pratyharasensory practices, aims for the withdrawal of the mind from the senses.

6. Dharana concentration practices

7. Dhyanameditation

8. Samadhiliberation

Continuing about Niyama- Conscious Observances…

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The practice of Yama and Niyama creates a strong fortress of physical, mental and emotional purity for the seeker/practitioner.  If this purity is not created as a foundation, many complications can manifest later to obstruct one in their practice.  For example, as one progresses on the path and more power is accumulated, diversions/temptations may arise that can distract a seeker from a genuine experience, causing the loss of valuable time and energy, as well as getting lost.  Here are the five NiyamaConscious Observances: 

SauchaPurity.  An impurity is anything on the physical, mental or emotional level that obstructs our optimal functioning.  It is our impurities that stand between us and our highest realization  All the practices of Yoga are designed to remove these very impurities.  Some simple examples are the various cleansing regimens of hatha yoga that help purify the physical body and mantras that help cleanse the mind and emotions.  The more work a practitioner has  put into willful cleansing disciplines, the easier, swifter and more successful towards spontaneous development.

Santosha Contentment.  Santosha is the art of being happy with whatever life brings.  It is learning not to expect or desire more than one needs.

TapasTransformative Spiritual Practices.  Tapas creates the heat that purifies and strengthens our bodies and minds to make them fit vehicles for self-realization.

SvadhyayaSpiritual study.  This is not merely study in the usual sense, but a deep contemplation, digestion and integration of the deeper and often hidden essences contained in the Yogic scriptures.  It refers to an intensity of contemplation in which this deeper knowledge is revealed to the seeker from within themselves.

Ishvara Pranidhana dedication to Divine Energy.  Actual practices can include any type of devotional worship, singing of bhajans, repetition of mantras, etc.  These practices purify the heart and mind.  There is a deeper impact when using the original sanskrit for these chants, mantras, bhajans/songs.  The Yogi Scientists of long ago took the time to develop the sounds for the actual idea so that when uttered that same idea is created inside the cells, and this is why Sanskrit is today still so very valuable as a benefit.

This now completes the ten tenets for Yama and Niyama.  These are the first two rungs on the Ladder for Self-Realization on the Path of Classical Indian Hatha Yoga/Ashtanga.  Oftentimes we can see many who are accomplished at doing asana but have not come close towards compassion for their own spirit.    To not get lost in the physical body and to rise beyond via higher consciousness these ten steps must be explored and fully understood.  When we are on the path to Self -Realization it is a different and thorough process above and beyond mere exercise.  Do find a way to keep these Yama and Niyama close to you in your practice via Journal, or any other format that works best for you to re-visit important concepts for your personal development.  Shri Patanjali designed a complete course for us in Personal Development and Self-Realization that is a very Holistic psychology.  Namaste

About the Practice of Yama and Niyama…

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The first Yogic Scholar to document the Tenets for the science of Hatha Yoga was Shri Patanjali in his text Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written at least 3,000 years ago in India.  Hatha Yoga science is not a religion, it is a philosophy for the Art of conscious living.  Hatha Yoga science embraces all faiths, creeds and religions.  The original text was written in Sanskrit and the following is a transliteration that approximates the original context.  Do know Classical Indian Hatha Yoga was scientifically developed as a “101” course to allow people to be strong enough in mind and physical body to be able to sit still for extended periods of time for Raja Yoga: Kriya Yoga/meditation to develop the highest state of Conscious Living. 

There are ten tenets: five Yama known as the ethical practices and five Niyama or conscious observances.  In today’s post I will share the five Yama/Ethical Practices:

AhismaNon-violence.  Ahisma means causing no harm to any living being, including oneself, in thought, word or deed.  Non-violence is the basis of all the other Yama and Niyama.  True non-violence is love.

SatyaTruth.  Satya means not only abstaining from falsehood, but also seeing the inherent good in everyone.  Whenever possible, practicing periods of silence will greatly support one in this Yama.  A suggestion: try to be silent one morning or even one day in the week.  If that is not possible , create times where social interaction is minimized, (including FaceBook and internet!), in which you only speak when necessary with truth and sweetness.

AsetyaNon-stealing.  Asetya also means releasing the desire to possess that which belongs to another.

AparigrahaNon-possessiveness.  We all need certain possessions.  However, many of us not only accumulate more than we need, but continually desire even further luxuries.  Thus engaged, we disturb our peace of mind.  The more simply we live, the more energy can be devoted to our spiritual practice.

Brahmacharyamoderation.  Through Brahmacharya in all areas of our lives, the seeker saves, and thus accumulates great energy that can be channeled into his/her spiritual experience.  This practice is imperative for those wishing to embark upon the spiritual path.

Please do look for part two: Niyama in the next post.  Perhaps take some time to reflect on what the above Yama signifies for you.  For those who keep a journal the Yama and Niyama give us much to think and weave into our daily thoughts and actions.  Best wishes for deep Reflection, Namaste.