By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
We are all human, living life with its many “ups and downs,” but how can we keep our spirits up in difficult times? There are many types of Yoga, and not all are physical styles, like the many popular Hatha Yoga sub-styles. To name one that is not Hatha, and classified as one of the nine main Indian Yoga styles, there is Bhakti Yoga – the union of love, devotion, and worship.
The principle of Bhakti Yoga is universal to all people of all religions. A person who sings, prays, worships, and helps another person is practicing this form of Yoga – whether they have heard of Bhakti Yoga or not. It does not matter what religion you practice because singing, praying, worshiping, forgiving, and helping are morally right.
To quote one of the most enlightened men of the 20th century,
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Therefore, life is a daily Yoga practice, even if you do not attend a Yoga class. When you help others, you are practicing Yoga. It could be argued that you are practicing other forms of Yoga, but that is not the purpose of this article. It is more important to understand that you can help others in many ways, and it does not have to cost you a fortune.
Projecting happiness is free and does not require a lot of money. Here are some ideas that will help you to be happier, and hopefully, more worry free. Whether you are a beginner, Yoga practitioner, Yoga teacher, or Master teacher of Yoga, you should spread happiness to everyone you meet.
Listen to everyone, regardless of his, or her, social status. Let go of judgment; it makes fools of all of us. Pre-judgment is prejudice, and this is the one thing that prevents world peace. To some degree, we all have felt it, but you must discard it, suppress it, and never teach it.
You cannot listen if you are talking at the same time. The wisest and most educated person has learned that the purpose of listening is to understand; understanding is knowledge, and knowledge is power. There are times, when you cannot listen. This could be due to time restraints, the fact that you may have heard it all before, or possibly you do not consider this person’s opinion to be important.
My grandfather had a saying, “Even the court jester can teach you something about life.” Sometimes, we take the help, or opinions of others, for granted. How many times do we seek more information in order to make the best decision? The final decisions you make, in any given situation are entirely up to you, but when you can sit back and listen, that is time for learning.
Try to avoid arguments and stay the course of peaceful co-existence. You may not always be able to do this, but you should try to improve. You could keep a log of daily situations that end peacefully and those that did not.
This is not meant to make you feel guilty, but it is a course in self-improvement.
You will then see your daily shortcomings and your success. Learn to develop your power of influence for the common good.
It does not matter who is right, especially, if your intention is to proliferate happiness. Related to this, I share one more quote by Mahatma Gandhi.
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?” – Mahatma Gandhi
Think about these words, and how you can make the world around you a happier place. This concept is contagious, but it has to come from within and spread worldwide.
The Right Attitudes to Perform Hatha Yoga (Part III)
By Dario Colombera
(VIII*), maintain a detached and calm mind;
For a westerner, it is necessary to abandon any impatience for results, any desire to overdo, and any tendency to feel happy or disappointed with his results.
Insofar, the correct attitude for practicing an inner discipline is extreme appointment but without any emotional involvement. In other words, make your exercises with enthusiasm and, at the same time, with total indifference for the results. After a little practice you will understand this seemingly absurd teaching: strive without forcing, act without being active.
At last, remember that the improvements you get through Yoga don’t follow a constant progression. They are characterized by great improvements and slight regressions, mainly due to your subconscious mind, which does not want to be dethroned. Therefore, the mind opposes an enormous strength to your attempts to achieve total freedom.
If you think about the past, you distract you; if you cogitate about the future, you distract you. The distraction reduces the concentration on the correct use of the muscles. Learn from Karma and Tantra Yoga to live in the eternal present.
(IX*), understand the effects of the various asanas in biological terms;
It is important to understand the various effects of the asanas on your mind and body: to stimulate the body, to harmonize body and mind, and to reveal the body to the mind. Moreover your mind becomes apt to meditation and your moods improve. Of course, to achieve these results, it is necessary to practice a series of well chosen and harmonized asanas.
In biological terms, the better advantages you obtain with your exercises are: improvement of blood and lymphatic circulation, nervous and glands stimulation and muscular relaxation.
Because personal growth should be our outmost significant task, be sure that your discipline increases: firstly, your freedom from the environment; secondly, your respect for the environment; thirdly, your knowledge of the deep evolutional significance of all inner searches.
(X), choose a proper place: silent, solitary and healthy.
It is important to choose a well aired room, healthy, silent, and deprived of insects and pets. However do not sit in the open or with open windows, if you risk getting a cold. Remember that it can be very dangerous to be assailed by an affectionate child, or pet, that wants to embrace or lick you, when you are in deep meditation or in a complicated asana. You might suffer a stroke or other damages.
The air should be clean. Avoid noises of every type, even agreeable music. In fact, one of the events that point out the attainment of a good level of concentration is that you do not perceive external sounds.
The ideal is to practice on a wood floor covered by a carpet. You should absolutely avoid soft surfaces, like usual sofa, armchair, and so on. You should stretch on an ample, thick blanket.
Many Yogis recommend holding the head toward north, but few apprentices would be able to perceive such advantages. Since there is no hidden danger in this recommendation, I suggest keeping it when you can.
Dawn, and dusk, is the best time, and also the most pleasant. To perform your exercises in the same hours help you to persevere, because you make use of the strength of habits. Extra exercises, performed by chance, improve a lot you skilfulness and help you to destroy the conditioning influence of habits.
When you are not under the best environment conditions? When working or playing? Will you then stop to practice yoga? Of course not, but practice Tantra and Karma yoga. In the case you are very busy, practise especially short Hatha Yoga exercises (see Iyengar’s and Ph. De Meric’s suggestions), or drishtis.
(XI), have a correct motivation, as for instance: to improve both the performances of your body and mind and your control over them.
Since it is difficult for a westerner to long for that total freedom, which is obtained bringing normal mind to a standstill (see Raja yoga), I recommend easier wishes, such as to improve the performances of your body and mind.
No inner discipline should be offered to those people who wish to attain those extraordinary powers that represent a by-product of Yogas, because they represent a danger to avoid and not a finality to pursue. In fact nothing strengthens your ego more that the attainment of exceptional psychic powers.
Certainly Hatha Yoga can be practiced in order to take care of yourself, but do not forget the last value of all inner searches: to be aware of ampler and more interesting realities than those proposed by your culture.
On the physical plan the first footstep to be done by Hatha Yoga is that to repurchase your physical equilibrium, first footstep toward an inner equilibrium.
On the mental plane, the asanas offer an improvement of your mental capabilities but Hatha Yoga must be integrated with raja, tantra and karma Yoga (or other disciplines, since the way of inner evolution and infinite) if you want to reach real enlightenment.
(XII), remember the most common errors to avoid: overdoing, complaining about your failures, to be absent minded, to feel satisfied after a sound new achievement, and so on.
Some of the above-mentioned errors may seem vulgar or banal, but they are enough to bring neophytes to fail.
(A), to take cold.
For example, in our climates, it is very easy to take cold during the asanas, because: firstly, the body temperature lowers during relaxation, but it gives a feeling of heat, since the peripheral circulation increases. Secondly, teachers recommend performing your exercises naked, with open windows. However, if you don’t live in a warm climate, wear a proper suit and don’t open the windows. To the limit, ionize the air, in order to demolish its pollution and to enrich it with negative ions.
Thirdly, if as a rule, you cannot defend yourself from flu and cold during winter time, you must learn how to defend yourself from these nuisances. I suggest: cleaning the nose and the frontal breasts with an Indian massage. Under your arms (it is there that our body holds its thermometers) before beginning the day or the asanas. Keep relaxed the muscles of the face, and avoid getting angry. Follow a suitable diet (avoid meat in particular and too much food in general).
(B), to be absent minded.
Don’t make the exercises thinking to something other. If are in a hurry, this is thinking to other. To visualize the exercise before and during its execution, to practice tantric and karmic attention during whatsoever activity, will help you to avoid such mistakes.
(C), to be cross with your subconscious.
When a disturbing thought arrives during meditation, observe it with indulgent indifference for two minutes; it will go.
(D), to hurry for results.
We are used to getting everything at once: instant coffee, instant skill, instant results. But, in the case of Yoga, such mental attitude is certainly wrong, because our subconscious reacts with a proportional strength against the changes that we impose to it. Therefore, it is important not to brood over results and to respect the principle of moderation.
(E), to wear unsuitable dresses.
Another source of serious trouble for the apprentices can be the suit: too narrow, too warm, too cold, and so on. If you live in a warm climate, the best suit is that of the Indian farmers, in silk instead that cotton. Besides, remember that the unsuitable suits are also those that prevent movements, and which can irritate the skin that makes you to sweat. Such suits should be always avoided. Since in some exercises, you have to fold downward, lift the legs, and the torso, a tunic is not always right. The ideal is something like pajamas of silk, cotton or wool, not to narrow but laced to the ankles, so that they do not slip down when you turn upside-down. I dissuade suits of synthetic materials. Then mind the colours of your suits, use the colours you prefer, because colours influence your psychic and physiological state.
(F), to interrupt the exercises.
Any contortionist can tell you that the exercises done, in order to improve the flexibility of the articulations, must be performed every day. To discontinue your exercises for weeks or months means to have to return afresh to the beginning, since your joints will have lost all their lastly acquired flexibility.
The times to devote to the exercises must be calculated on your progresses, starting from a minimum of twenty minutes for a session. A complete session, of about ten asanas, will approximately take you an hour.
(G), ignore pathological or particular physiological conditions.
Pay attention that some pathological (painful illnesses), physiological (pregnancy, menstrual periods), and mental (contingent emotional stresses) conditions are an impediment for many asanas. Under these conditions, it will be better to practise exercises of meditation and/or relaxation only.
(H), ignore the risk that you may suffer a violent personality.
Remember that you live in a very competitive society, which produces aggressive mental attitudes. Unfortunately, these attitudes cannot be limited against others, but also harms you at a subconscious level.
Therefore, practice your exercises with devotion, humility, affection and gratitude but, at the same time, with absolute indifference for the results.
(XIII), choose the proper companions or otherwise stay alone.
This recommendation will seem absurd, since it is well known that Yogis like to withdraw in lonely places. However, for the westerner who wants to begin Hatha Yoga, I warmly recommend to start with suitable companions. For instance, enrolling yourself in a seminar of Yoga. After all, we are a social animal.
(XIV), to learn with a convincing, even if somehow defective teacher;
How recognize a true teacher, if you are not a true disciple? I suggest 1, take from a teacher what convinces you and refuse what you don’t like. 2, verify, in first person, the results of his/her teachings. 3, when the teacher doesn’t satisfy you anymore, look for another instructor. 4, at last, accept the idea of becoming the teacher of you.
However, never refuse a teacher only because it comes in rout of collision with your ignorance, your poor myths, and hopes. I know from direct experience, how much is difficult to have disciples in Italy, if you refuse to be condescending.
(XV), to establish the times for every asana on the base of your possibilities;
In various texts of Yoga, you find indications about the times to devote to the various asanas. Unfortunately, because of the enormous differences amongst apprentices, such times are often not practicable. Therefore, many authors recommend good sense and mental elasticity in to determine such times.
However, I try to offer a subjective criterion that everybody can calculate on his/her own.
Firstly, be ready to begin a session of asana without any limitation of time. It means: do not worry about your bus or rendezvous!
Secondly, it is better a little painful stretching for three minutes that one very painful for five seconds. Particularly, for the asanas you held during meditation, utilize a facilitated position (generally an adjustable and rigid support to be held under your bottom). Moreover, before beginning, for about a minute, assume a more severe position, capable to force your joints more than what they really need. Finally, take the asana you have chosen for meditation.
If at the end of your meditation, you will have aching articulations, before relaxing in savasana, massage your knees or other joints until these pains disappear.
Thirdly, when an extraneous thought pushes you to interrupt your asana, observe such mental stimulus with benevolence until it disappears. In this way, you will learn about your bossy, unconscious mind.
Fourthly, interrupt the asana when it becomes too much fatiguing or painful, don’t be masochists. Pain distracts the mind, and therefore, too much suffering is self-defeating.
Fifthly, if after a week of a Yoga discipline, your muscular strength, your control of muscles and your suppleness have not improve at all, increase the time and/or the frequency of your sessions.
Prof. Dario Colombera
Via Trespole 68
35037 Teolo (Padua) Italy
Tel.: (Italy) 049 9925217
Bahi Ranga Yoga: Popularly Known as Hatha Yoga
By Guru Suneel Singh
Yoga is a complete science of health, which deals with the under standing of the adequate functioning of all systems of our body and appropriate coordination between them along with the healthy functioning our mind. Yoga is derived from the sanskrit dhatoo “Yuj” which means to join or bind, to attach. It also means “to direct” and to concentrate on a particular point of thought to works in full attention of mind and body.”
Yoga based as it is, on our ancient wisdom and culture, is more than 6000 years old and has been referred to be two specific words. ” one is “Sanatan” means eternal as the process of evolution. And the other is “Puratan” means very ancient. Yoga is found in the ancient Vedas the Gita, the Upanishads and the Patanjali Yoga sutras.
Yoga is a fully developed science based on the deep inner study of human body and intense self experiments and practices of our ancient rishis. Since yoga developed in India it got associated with Hinduism and its philosophy. But yoga is independent of any religious doctrines or dogmas. Yoga does not discriminate any person or belief. It is a way of thinking, doing things and following. yoga is science as well as an art of healthy living. Yoga means holistic approach towards the cause and treatment of disease.
Yoga arose at the beginning of human civilization when man first realized his spiritual potential and began to evolve techniques to develop it. According to mythical tradition, Lord Shiva said to be the founder of yoga and his wife Parvati, his first disciple. The yogic science was slowly evolved and developed by ancient sages in India. yoga is in no way limited by race, age, sex, religion or creed.
Many Types of Yoga
There are many types of yoga training, though nine are considered principal depending upon which school of thought they come from these are:
In the past men were interested not so much in material objects but quest led them to go beyond matter. A certain part of their life was spent in under standing the issues for the ultimate knowledge to the universe. Man and the spirit in the search for the ultimate knowledge. The ultimate goal of the yoga training is the same, though the paths or methods prescribed by each may be different – yoga is process of conscious upholding of one self where by the physical, mental and spiritual nature of the individual attains “its perfect development the totality of whole life. Yoga is process of realization.
It was Rishi Patanjali rightly called the father of Astanga yoga. Patanjali in is treatise on yoga, the yoga sutra in which he has mentioned all the eight limbs or constituents are to be present in the same sequence to make the process of yoga successful. The classic yoga training, commonly known as the Ashtanga yoga cover both the yoga ideology and technology.
The first five deal with training the body and last three teach the perfection of thyself.
- Yama: code of conduct both personal and social in society.
- Niyama: self discipline.
- Asana: postures.
- Pranayama: breath control or bio-energy control.
- Pratyahara: withdrawal or abstraction.
- Dharna: concentration.
- Dhyan: meditation.
- Samadhi: super consciousness.
Of these the first five called as Bahiraya yoga or Hatya yoga while the latter three called as Antranga yoga or Raja yoga.
In Hatya yoga yama is comprises of five ethical disciplines of self restraint (1) Ahinsa (non violence) (2) Satya (truth) (3) Brahmacharya (continence) (4) Asteya (non stealing) (5) Aparigraha (non hoarding).
Are the five regulation governing personal behavior or self discipline (1)Saucha (purity) (2) Santosha (contentents) (3) Tapas (austerity) (4) Swadhaya (sefl study) (6) Ishvar pranidhan (dedication to the god).
Asanas are well described in Hath yoga pradipika ” The posture in which one can sit for indefinite period comfortably is called asanas.” Patanjali says ” stir, sukham asanam,” which means the posture in which we can sit comfortable and steadily is called asana.” Literally asana means “posture of the body which can contributes to the steadiness of body and mind and a sense of well being. The asana can be defined as a postural pattern one has to achieved this pattern slowly maintain the posture steadily for some time and then slowly release the posture. There are two aspects involved in asanas. (1) Dynamic aspect (2) Static aspect. Asanas are classified in three categories (1) meditative asanas (2) asanas for mental tranquility (3) asanas providing physical strength.
Ever asanas consists of three stage, that is coming in to the prescribed pose, holding it and then finishing it. They should be performed slowly steadily with patience. Different school of yoga have mentioned different yogic posture in common are 84 asanas. Asanas make the body disease free, strong and flexible by regulating glandular secretes toning muscles and nerves, Asanas helps a practitioner getting freedom from physical disabilities and mental distractions.
The word pranayama is formed by two words Prana and Ayama. Prana means a subtle life force and ayama is voluntary effort to control and direct this prana. “pranyaman means control of the motions of exhalation and inhalation.
Stiffness of the body due to blocked prana and a subsequent accumulation of toxins when prana begin to move or flow, the toxins are removed from the system ensuring the health of whole body. And when the quantum of prana is increased as great degree the body moves in to certain postures by itself and asanas and pranayama occur spontaneously. The main object of hata yoga is to create balance between the interacting activities and processes of the pranic and mental forces. Pran it is known as “chi” in china Ki in Japan and spirit in the Christian world. As it said that breathing or respiration is the most vital process that provides the body the necessary oxygen and vital energy from the air.
Four Aspects of Pranayama.
- Pooraka (or inhalation).
- Rechaka (exhalation).
- Antar kumbakha (international breath retention).
- Bahia kumbak (external breath retention).
Though there are numerous types of pranayama but commonly known are (1) surya bhedi pranayama (2) Ujjayi pranayama (3) Shitkari pranayma (4) shitali prayanama (5) bhastrika pranayama (6) bharmari pranayama (7) murcha pranayama (8) palavani pranayama.
Pratyahara, shat karma, mudras, and bandhas are also the part of hatya yoga. These practice done in combination with asana and pranyama. Pranayama makes us aware of our breathings so the we can activate and regulate the vital life force in our body. Pranayama influence the flow of prana in the nadis, purifying, regulatating and activating them there by inducing physical and mental stability. According to Hata yoga pradipika in one cycle of pranay are has proportion of 1:4:2: for inhalation the retention and exhalation.
Hath yoga is the universal religion of man irrespective of his political, religious, or social states. It has more preventive than curative values. Hath yoga provides the best means of servicing the body and mind.
For information please contact Suneel Singh (Yoga Guru)
Mobile No: 9811520891
*Note from Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500 (Director of Yoga Teacher Training, Aura Wellness Center): Guru Singh is seeking a Yoga teaching position abroad.
Yoga Teacher Training Blog
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2005 Restorative Yoga Teacher Training Course – Only Three Left!
As many of you know, the 2005 version of our Restorative Yoga instructor training course is currently being updated for 2006. There will be a new Yoga anatomy DVD with four hours of lectures and demonstrations. Additionally, we are introducing a new Restorative Yoga teacher DVD. We are clearing out the entire 2005 edition Restorative Yoga teacher training courses, while they last. The last three of these Yoga teacher certification courses are on sale at $50.00 off their regular price, while they last.