I recently read a remark from someone who was confused and thought I taught “Bikram” yoga. I immediately responded by writing that Mr. Chatterjee’s American franchise is not at all what I practice and teach. I am proud to teach authentic Indian hatha yoga. But, then I realized I made an error and meant to write Mr. Choudhury. I had thought of his cousin the famous musician Samir Chatterjee who is referred to by his beloved students and audiences as Pandit Chatterjee. Then I thought how sad it is for teachers even with the financial status and name recognition of “Bikram” that his American students never give him praise and respect for the yoga he has them so “addicted” to. I remember the one time meeting Mr. and Mrs Choudhury, it was with the Late Great Margo Jenni she was long time friends with them. Mrs. Margo Jenni was a lovely beloved and cherished Yoga Teacher who was famous for many things in her long career and among them she taught the famous Delaney sisters from Westchester. (There was a wonderful Broadway play, “Having Our Say” after the award-winning book, in which she is referred to as their yoga teacher. While reading the book and later watching the production I always wondered who their yoga teacher might be and was so surprised and grateful to one day later to meet Mrs. Jenni. I remember being at Mrs. Jenni’s Memorial at the Ethical Society in White Plains listening to her students herald her legacy with their kind and loving words.) I wonder if “Bikram” students ever spend anytime to learn about their founder, much less give praise, respect and honor to Mr. Choudhury. I guess I shared all this to say that I think it equally important to honor our teachers and loved ones while they are alive in our midst and to commemorate them after they have passed on. That is why I am proud and grateful to have come to know Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and The Isha Foundation. For all the hard work they do to share about the science of classical Indian hatha yoga. There is so much confusion in the west where everyone thinks they are an expert because they have taken a few classes and/or done a few days of so-called training. How one thinks they can master thousands of years of experiences, data left in Sanskrit, and from another time and place, leaves me scratching my head. I would never be able to say that I have a handle of mastery even if I spent the rest of my life studying in India and travelling the entire sub-continent to all the sacred sites to share something of its contribution towards the thousands year old sciences of Yoga. There is not just one Yoga there are many, but not like franchised names in the west but different paths delineated long ago by Shri Patanjali in his treatise “Hatha Yoga Pradipika.” Shri Patanjali begins his Treatise with…..”And now Yoga….” As in you have tried so many different methods to find happiness and found no success and now are you ready for Yoga? And so I say here….and now for the Truth from Sadhguru about the yogic sciences. Please do click the link below the image to read Sadhguru’s article that is important for serious yoga practitioners to understand. Please do share with your friends in Yoga…..and leave your comments, thanks for taking the time to review this post…..remember to pay homage and respect regularly to your beloved teachers as your gratitude will be deeply received by them…..OM
Please click the link above to view the chart showing the 8 stages, limbs of hatha yoga as prescribed by Shri Patanjali. Thanks to Alison Hinks for creating and sharing this vital visual tool for Yoginis and Yogis. Namaste
At last, yes this is the final reading from John McAfee’s book, “The Secret of the Yamas.” Here is a quote from this chapter: ” If we observe ourselves in our relationships – through our actions, thoughts and feelings as they are happening-then we will catch a glimpse of the ego. In that light of awareness the ego will vanish, and in its place a profound silence will blossom. In that silence is all beauty. It is infinite, unknowable and not separate from ourselves. It is immortality.”
Thanks for being a part of listening to my readings and I hope they have provided some useful food for thought and the quieting of mental chatter. I do hope you may continue to stop by here on a regular basis as a subscriber. I also look forward to your comments about your experiences and ideas. Namaskaram
After finishing the chapters on the five Yamas from John McAfee’s book, “The Secret of the Yamas,” the above link is a continuation of my readings. Getting to the core of this self-discipline Yama practice that Shri Patanjali layed out for us so long ago begins with McAfee’s summation. A quote from this chapter:
“…It is an illusion to believe that fundamental change requires time, that we must work diligently toward a goal and gradually become better, wiser, happier, and more spiritual. Such an approach uses the present moment as a tool to obtain future fulfillment; the present is used for planning, dreaming, working toward a result. Consequently, our lives are lived in the future and we are in constant relationship to the past; and the field of life – the present moment – is missed entirely…”
This entry is the last of the five Yamas- Satya, truth. (the next two posts from John McAfee’s book ” The Secret of the Yamas” will delve a bit deeper into the guidelines of self-discipline). Here is a quote from this chapter: “…Love eradicates all personal hatreds and jealousies, and where jealousy or possessiveness exits, love cannot. Yet, we still insist to ourselves and to others that we love. But if we look deeply enough, we will find that the root of our supposed love is our individual need for security, contentment or pleasure, or that it keeps fear or discomfort at bay. We use the object of our love as a distraction against the unpleasant, or as a stimulus to pleasure. Cruel words perhaps, but please don’t simply reject them out of hand. Look into yourself, without judgement or condemnation, but with simple observation. It is our condemnation that has originally created this inability to see the truth in ourselves…”
Thanks for taking the time to listen, read and be a part of this stream of consciousness. Namaste
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 Niyama– Conscious Observances:
Saucha – Purity. 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.
Tapas – Transformative Spiritual Practices. Tapas creates the heat that purifies and strengthens our bodies and minds to make them fit vehicles for self-realization.
Svadhyaya – Spiritual 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 Pranidhan – a 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
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:
Ahisma– Non-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.
Satya – Truth. 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.
Asetya – Non-stealing. Asetya also means releasing the desire to possess that which belongs to another.
Aparigraha – Non-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.
Brahmacharya – moderation. 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.