By Marc Titus
I have experienced in the 11 years that yoga has been a part of my life Yoga as Unity and also a pathway to Unity Consciousness. It has been a personal journey, one of many discoveries and profound insights; the mat has brought me to Spirit. In a world filled with negativity, stress, environmental toxins, and other energy sapping temptations Yoga brings a lifestyle and practice that reconnects mind, body and Spirit. Rooted in traditions thousands of years old, Yoga Science is a proven and complete system of health and wellness, desperately needed by a disparate society whose predominant nature is very self-destructive. Yoga has turned back the clock for me; a 42-year old male whose body began to fail him in his late 20’s and at 30 was told he might never walk again without a cane.
That stark reality I faced some 12 years ago and was eventually guided by Spirit to my first Yoga class. Little did I know that first class would change my entire life and lead me to the place of becoming a certified Yoga Instructor. Nor could I imagine that the Yoga System, of which that first class only taught the asana or bodily postures, was in fact such a full and rich Science dedicated to leading the Yogi on a path to intuitive enlightenment or Samadhi. The Science provides the methodology to the proclaimed outcome, Truth, which can only be experienced when the mind releases to become still, allowing body and Spirit to unite in that stillness and become One with All that Is.
Coming off the mat, where posture and breath are studied and specific techniques employed, or Hatha Yoga, brings clarity and awareness drawn from personal experience within the practice. It becomes a deep meditation that draws awareness into the body and breath, leaving the mind to still. As the asanas strengthen over time and the initial shock and subsequent cleansing of the entire body systems wears off, a deeper awareness begins. Insights are drawn from the stillness of a posture, body understanding arises and every cell comes alive to the vibration of the Universe. One begins to sink into the infinitesimal vastness that comes from a still mind and one day, the elusive appears, total bliss, a fleeting moment but certain in your experience of it, the Journey begins…
There are many “categories” of Yoga, the aforementioned Hatha Yoga that supports the deeply healing and introspective Raja Yoga, or Union by mental mastery. Raja Yoga is known as Royal Yoga, as one who masters this practice becomes the “ruler of the mind”. Could that possibly be of assistance in today’s day and age? When one is able to master thoughts and to still the mind at will then the energetically chaotic and physically draining world that many share as reality becomes an entirely different experience all together. With the ability to stop a thought and replace it with another comes a radical shift in the way one participates in the world. The benefits to all of humankind are enormous when the consideration is given to stilling the human mind enough to see that there is more to the picture than meets the eye.
The wonderful thing about a Yogic practice is that it is through direct personal experience that one comes to these understandings. Complementing perfectly with my Shamanic training in Journey and Soul Retrieval, it has been an invaluable system that has brought deeper access to my Shamanic tools. It was Raja Yoga, meditation, that brought me to see non-ordinary reality and it was Hatha Yoga that brought me to meditation. A broken body and mind, combined with a life devoid of Spirit, brought me to the mat, so the system does work!
Meditation, at the heart of Royal Yoga, is a proven stress-buster, our purported #1 killer in the United States, working at subtle energetic levels upon the nervous system and other physiological processes to provide a lasting calm that stays with the yogi for great lengths of time. One begins to experience the Loving Timeline as reality, when meditation is focused on Love and Kindness and Devotion to Spirit, or Bhakti Yoga. Cohistency, A consistent and cohesive experience of Conscious consciousness and compassion on the Loving Timeline, begins and Love spreads forth into this new, enlightened understanding through thought, word and action. Meditation brings about a peaceful life experience, as the calming effects of the practice relax the entire being.
In the Shamanic Journey, a meditation with intention to see the Highest Truth about a situation, one begins to see how the Universal Karmic Laws have affected them over the course of their energetic life. By taking total personal responsibility for all thoughts, words and actions one has ever created in any lifetime, dimension or state of consciousness one begins to heal and see the fruits borne of their actions. This can lead to the practice of Karma Yoga, selfless action and service without thought to outcome. Letting go into the very kindness of one’s actions is another blessing to humanity in these times of change.
The benefits of a meditation practice go far beyond the physical, as science is now beginning to reveal new understandings about the relationship between intentions, thoughts, words and actions and the reality that we see before our very senses. Knowing that I am participating in my reality, also personally experienced through Raja Yoga, has caused me to look at the deeper experiences that molded me into the person that comes to the mat to practice asana each day. By incorporating Shamanic Soul Retrieval into my meditation I have been able to heal the past by calling back lost pieces of my energetic experience that fractured off as a result of some traumatic situation. The Royal Yoga was my entrance onto the path of Spiritual knowledge and wisdom, or Jnana Yoga, and from the fount of Universal Knowledge also came the experience of non-ordinary reality and the Cosmic connection to Source where I was finally able to pierce the veil of illusion and experience the Truth.
As I said, it all began with that first Hatha Yoga class all those years ago. I remember thinking that Yoga was just “stretching” and even when my Tai Chi Instructor suggested I try it to enhance my energy practice, I declined. It wasn’t until I had spent 6 months in agony, with a severely traumatized lower back and the neurologist telling me I would need 3 surgeries, minimum, the worst of which would require 9 months bed-rest to recover, that I decided to change my life and somehow, at that time, I knew that I created the problems and that I could heal them myself. That is when I went to my first Yoga class.
I remember distinctly the teacher, John, was very peaceful and serene every time I saw him. He was kind and compassionate in a deeply comforting way. I was so out of touch with my body that I couldn’t even bend at the waist or touch my knees. I told him about my situation and he said, no problem, I will let you know which poses not to do and help you with the others if you need it. He taught the whole class right in front of me that day and I remember laughing so much at my inability to even approximate most of the poses that seemed to come so easily to the others in the class. But, I stuck with it and continued to go 3 times a week for about 6 months. Along with walking and reducing my beer consumption, these changes were the only ones I made in my life at that time. Within 2 weeks the pain was reduced to a 4 when it was a 14 (10 point pain scale) and my mental health, well-being and physical fitness were all much better as well. After 7 weeks, I was pain-free 90 percent of the time and my neurologist told me I was a medical miracle. “Keep it up,” he said… So, I did and 9 months later, I joined a Helitack Wildland Fire Crew as a helicopter crewmember and performed at the arduous level required for such duty for a 2-week detail. I turned my life around and Hatha Yoga saved me from a life-altering series of surgeries. It works…
The postures, asana, and breath-work, pranayama, comprise the core of Hatha Yoga, albeit, difficult for the Western competitive sports trained mind to grasp that this is a practice to be worked towards, so anyone regardless of age or fitness level can come to the mat; as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Yoga begins now, we come to the mat who and what we are in that moment and begin… working towards the depth of the posture where the opening to Samadhi exists. The postures are designed and have the effect of stilling the mind, as well as exercising, in a well-designed sequence, every part of the physical body, including organs, glands and the nervous system. It is a complete system of moving stillness and meditation as to bring tremendous calm on and off the mat. For the first timer, the best advice is to take it slow and steady, rest often, move fluidly without bouncing or jerking and don’t go into pain. If it hurts in the least, best to back off and ask your teacher. Also, as you look around the room or study a video, remember… Look to see how the posture works, but don’t succumb to the competitive urge.
The postures also afford time and breath to go inside, looking into the depth of our being as the mind begins to still. And it will still, eventually, there will be quiet and you will hold a balance pose for the first time without teetering spastically and falling in a heap like I did the first time I tried Half-Moon Pose or Tree Pose. As your practice continues, you will begin to understand and hold a higher consciousness regarding your body and how it works. Your health and vitality will improve and you will experience greater joy in your life. Your mind, body and Spirit will unite and you will be far more resilient to the vagaries of life’s ebbs and flows. Yoga often becomes an integral part of life and as the deeper meaning begins to follow you from the mat there begins to be that peaceful experience that my first teacher exuded every time I saw him, regardless of where he was or what he was doing. That is what I was looking for and in Yoga I found it. From this Yoga Journey, I now carry forth peaceful vibrations into my relationships, my career, my community, my family and friends. My unified identity, as a vibrational signature is far purer than ever before and I have turned back the clock on my physical fitness, health and wellness. Mental clarity and resiliency are the norm and the practice continues to take me ever deeper into the experience of me. And in that, I find the greatest treasures of life’s experience, mined from the vast abundance that pervades the Loving Timeline. The System, experiential by design, works on so many levels and has inspired me to become a certified teacher. It has brought about a humility and understanding that I am merely a guide, as those who have gone before me to lead the way, I dissolve from the experience as it becomes yours and you make of it what you will. I am only with you for a short time; the rest is up to you…