Yoga in Practice
“Okay, you’ve got me! I’ve been found out! I hate to admit it, but I’m one of those ex-dancers, ex-distance runners, and overly competitive Yoga practitioners Paul was talking about in February’s newsletter.
Although I hesitated going to my first Yoga class, afraid everyone would look like they just stepped out of Yoga Journal and me only a beginner, when I finally did get up the nerve, I quickly discovered how ‘advanced’ my asana practice was. I breezed through the gentle class, sailed through the beginner class and finally landed in an intermediate class. When the teacher said ‘Crow’, I was the only one teetering on my elbows. When she said ‘Headstand’, I was the only one with my feet in the air.
Was I competing with everyone in the class, even the Yoga teacher? You bet I was! After all, that was my background. It was all I knew how to do. Even now, four years into my daily Yoga practice, it is still my first inclination when I hit the mat. Any Yoga training session quickly turns sweaty and Ashtanga Yoga. Quite obviously, I’ve been missing some of the basic principles of a full Yoga practice.
Fortunately, just today, I watched a Yoga video titled, ‘Yoga for Round Bodies’. Do I have a ’round body’, you wonder? Hardly, my adolescent bout with anorexia would never allow it, but as I’m hoping to begin teaching soon, I thought the video might provide some good background info.
Well, lo and behold, I was transformed! In their video, Linda DeMarco and Genia Pauli Haddon offer a marvelously relaxed, self- accepting style of Yoga that I seem to have been missing up until now. Certainly I’ve read how important such things are in Yoga training. Certainly I thought I’d integrated these beliefs into my practice but unfortunately, I’m still far from either. I always seem to be in a hurry, always looking for the quickest results in the least amount of time.
How wonderful at 46 years old to have these two knowledgeable women offer me a different way of approaching my time on the mat…a different way of approaching my time here on Earth. Both Linda and Genia moved through their poses slowly, confidently and with grace, all characteristics that elude me as well as anyone else who is in a constant state of trying to outdo…or perhaps, due some presumed inner fault, a constant state of trying merely to keep up.
So, will I be less competitive in my yoga classes or in my daily practice? Only time will tell. After all, old habits die hard. I only hope that as I begin to teach yoga, I am able to offer my students at least a glimmer of what Linda and Genia offer in their video…a calm and centered practice, self observation without judgment and the need to trust ourselves as we explore our bodies, our minds and our spirits, both in Yoga and in life.
Namaste. Lynda Wisdo-Ball
Pine Plains, NY
Why Practice the Eight-Fold Path or Ashtanga Yoga?
Yoganganushtaanaa dhashuddhikshaye gnana deepthi raa vivekakhyaatheha 2.28
The wisdom is developed with the result of purification of defilements by following the path of these eight limbs of Yoga training. Avijja or ignorance is the root cause of all defilements or impurities besides greed, craving, aversion and fear being other four defilements (avidyaa asmithaa raaga dweshaabhiniveshaha kleshaa 2.3).
It is because of these impurities that the mind is wandering. Mind is not wandering due to lack of control or mastery over it. If mind is to stop wander or rest at peace, these impurities of mind are to be removed (yogaha chittha vritthi nirodhaha 1.2).
What are those eight limbs of Yoga training?
Yama niyamaa sanapraanaayaama prathyahaara dhaaranaa dhyaana samaadhayoshtangaani 2.29
Niyama (rules of discipline)
asana (Yoga posture)
praanayaama (Yoga breathing – observance of breath)
pratyaahaara (restraining from sensual doors lust)
dhaarana (momentary concentration or kanikha/kshanika samaadhi)
dhyaana (access concentration or upaachaara samaadhi)
samaadhi( absorption samaadhi or arpana/appana samadhi)
What is Yama?
Tatraahimsaasatyaasteya brahmacharyaa parigrahaa yamaaha 2.30
Ahimsa – Non-violance or abstaining from killing or harming
Satya – speaking truth or abstaining from speaking lies,
Asteya – Not taking that is not given or abstaining from stealing,
Brahmacharya- following celibacy or abstaining from extramarital affairs or sexual misconduct
Aparigraaha – Non-desirables, which make you addict or slave of mind or abstaining from intoxicants.
The aim of the eight-fold path is the purification of five defilements or impurities (pancha kleshaha) as mentioned above. When purification is the goal of the path, the first step on the path is not to add any additional dirt. Means stop doing such actions by body and speech, which add such dirt and, which harm others and us by increasing or supporting any of those defilements or impurities of mind. Mind is like a room, if room is to be cleaned, all doors and windows to be closed in first place, because dirt being added from these avenues. Then you can start cleaning. In the same way antakaranas (four faculties of mind) gets purified only when we stop adding further impurities of mind. Without this, of course, it is possible to control the mind through by other means, but not possible to get liberated from bondage of impurities or enlightened or to attain dharma megha samaadhi (the absorption of mind due to elimination of impurities by following the path of dharma or laws of nature of mind and body).
The beginner in the meditation experiences Tarka (arguments in the mind) not allowing the mind to concentrate the tarka is due t0
Vitarkaa Himsaadayahakrutha kaarithaanumodhithaa lobha krodha moha purvakaa mrudhu madhyaadhimaa traa dukhaajnaa naanantaphalaa iti prathipaksha bhavanam 2.34
Violence and cruelty are rooted in anger, ignorance, lust and greed, which are the bases of tarka which are in three types: soft, medium and hard which give rise to unhappiness and infinite bad fruits. That is why one should think in opposite nature.
Vitarka Baadhane Pratipaksha Bhaavanam (2.33)
Whenever such tarkas arise on the base of mind the aspirant should think in exactly opposite to that nature of thoughts.
The first samadhi of nirvitarka means arguments vanish from the mind based on unwholesome thoughts. For this following Yama is very important
1) Ahimsa- Non violence – We cause violence due to anger (aversion) in the mind. When there is anger in the mind, one cannot experience peace in the mind. If one wants the peace of mind, one should stop doing that un-wholesome action that supports the anger that is harming or killing. If we have to remove the defilement or impurity of anger or aversion, then one should stop further harming or abusing or killing any fellow being.
If some one kills, harms or abuses, and we don’t like it or become unhappy, then how can we do the same act, which brings the unhappiness to others. Whatever we dislike, others also dislike, hence we should abstain from such act that is not acceptable to either of us. When we stop violence, anger automatically subdues, if not removed. If mind is to be tamed, it happens only when it is calm and quite, hence we should create such atmosphere, that it should not get disturbed. Mind is like an ocean when it is disturbed we cannot make journey, but when it is calm we can travel. So, abstaining from killing or violence leads to calming down the mind.
Patanjali (Sage and author of the Yoga Sutra) had followed the path same as Buddha followed by suggesting Pancha sila (five precepts) the first being paanaathi paatha veramani sikkapadam samaadhi yaami – I abstain from killing any being, so that I get good mastery over the mind.
In order to support Ahimsa (non violence), one has to practice opposite traits like
Maitri (pure love or same love for all or impartial love),
Mudhita (sympathetic joy-sharing joy of others)
Upekha (equanimity: in cases like win-defeat, gain-loose, happiness-sorrow)
Benefit of Ahimsa or non-violence:
Ahimsaa Prathishtaayaam tatsannidhau vairaatyaagaha 2.35
When the Yoga aspirant is established in non-violence means has no anger or animosity on any being, all beings loose enmity with the aspirant. It means no being with life, would harm such a person, even mosquitoes will not bite, snakes will not bite, wild animals do not harm. It is because you have removed anger. You can experiment and see.
2) Satya – Truth: We do not speak truth because of fear it means we will lie. When there is fear in the mind one cannot experience peace of mind. Such mind is difficult to concentrate. In order to remove the Fear from mind, one should not tell lies. The deepest impurity of mind is fear particularly the abhinivesa means the fear of death is so strong within us. We loose self- confidence due to fear. We should speak truth to remove Fear from the mind.
If someone lies to us, we do not like, in the same way. If we lie to others, they do not like it. Such an act, which is unacceptable to either of us, should be abandoned.
The second sila or precept by Buddha is: Musaavada veramani sikkapadam samaadhiyaami – I abstain from speaking lies, using harsh words, idle gossip, telling tales, back biting, complaining on others etc., so that my mind attains tranquility.
Benefit of Truth:
Satya prathishtaayaam kriyaaphalaashrayatvam 2.36
By always speaking truth one develops a power of Vaksiddhi means whatever you say by words that would certainly happen. Whatever you do, they give immediate fruits for the deeds.
3) Asteya or non-stealing: We take something, which is not given to us or without permission because of greed (lobha) within us. When there is greed, the mind cannot experience peace. Without greed one cannot steal. Hence one should not steal anything without being given.
Anything that belongs to us is lost, we do not like it or become unhappy. In the same way other person become unhappy if we steal anything that belongs to him/her. Such act by which either of us, become unhappy should be abandoned.
The Buddha said: adinna daanaa veramani sikkapadam samaadhiyami – I abstain from taking anything that is not given to me, sothat my mind gets quickly concentrated.
The Yoga student needs to develop the quality of dana or generosity or charity to overcome greed.
Benifit of Asteya:
Asteya prathishtaayaam sarvaratopasthaanam 2.37
By following this yama, the Yoga student becomes very rich with all kinds of wealth. One is born as rich in next birth.
4) Brahmacharya-Celibacy: One violates celibacy or has sexual misconduct because of lust (kama-moha) in the mind. When there is lust in the mind, one cannot experience peace in mind. Lust brings unhappiness, so that sexual misconduct or extra marital affairs should be abandoned. If one is gruhastu means a family holder should have relationship with spouse only. Thinking about another woman, being married brings unhappiness to him and family. If one is a bachelor one should not have any kind of sexual relationship, if there is any, it should be with only one person as a committed relationship.
When there is lust, a Yoga student looses concentration and also energy and one becomes weak. One cannot perform his/her duty properly etc.
Buddha says: abrahmacharya veramani sikkapadam samadhi yaami. I abstain from sexual misconduct, so that my mind is free from thoughts of lust during meditation and it gets in to tranquility quickly.
Benefit of Brahmachriya-Celibacy:
Brahmachrya prathishtaayaam virya laabhaha 2.38
By establishing in practicing celibacy one gets the benefit of having very high energy levels to do anything successfully. One can put maximum undaunted effort.
5) Aparigraha-abstaining from undesirables: By taking intoxicants like alcohol, drugs, smoke etc. one becomes addict and slave of mind. By Any such addiction one looses peace of mind . Already one does not has any control on mind and it is already wandering all the time either in to the past or in to the future, and for those addicts for intoxicants, it is impossible to gain mastery over the mind.
Buddha says sura,maraya,majja,pamaa,dhattana veramani sikkapdam samaadhiyaami – I abstain from taking toddy juice, wine, drugs etc. so that I attain mastery over the mind.
Benefit of aparigraaha or undesirables:
Those without any such bad habits gain superior concentration so that they develop the ability of seeing their complete past births, in few cases they can even see others past births too.
What kind of Yama?
Yama should not be practiced as a rite or ritual but by volition. Then it becomes a supreme one.
Jhathi desa kaalasamayaana vchinnaaha saarvabhaumaa mahaa vratam
by birth , by region, by time factors few practice yama but it does not give any fruit. The yama should be practiced by volition. It means for example one born in brahmin family does not kill any being because it is a tradition. It does not mean that he/her does not have anger or violent nature. One should not kill any being without anger. This is the spirit. When one becomes angry, it is anger that causes harm not the mere action.
One restrains from stealing during one particular month, because such act is abandoned for such period. Such kind of observances, are not yama.
Andhra Pradesh, India
Yoga Teacher Question of the Month
Q: Could I actually make a good living, if I take a yoga teacher training course, become a yoga teacher and open a studio? I work for the Post Office now, with 14 years in, so a change like this would be pretty radical! On top of that how do the high priced (over $10,000) yoga teacher training ashrams expect their graduates to recover financially? These places have staffs working for free (seva) and they squeeze money out of everyone.
A: You would want to build your business as an independent contractor first. In our Yoga teacher training course, you will find 16 ways to grow your business with little or no overhead. When you build up enough accounts, the decision to of whether or not to open your own independent Yoga studio will be clear. Some Yoga teachers never open their own studio, but instead, they are independent contractors who teach classes in facilities that they do not own.
Becoming a Yoga instructor, and making a living from it, has been a radical job change for all of us, who left the “corporate world,” but you do not have to take any sudden or financial risks. Growing your own Yoga business can start on a part time basis and later develop into full time, if you decide to. All you need is the right guidance and to take the proper steps without wasting your money.
Once you learn how to become a Yoga instructor, the safest financial step is to teach Yoga classes part-time. Opening a studio is a step we cover in detail within our Yoga certification course, but it is a major step with business planning
Please bear in mind that the business and marketing information in this course is current and “field tested.” This information is specific to Yoga instructors and contains successful methods used, with regard to return on investment.
Right now, there are a lot of Yoga studios that flounder economically, because the owners have insufficient business or marketing skills.
You could be the best Yoga teacher within a 50-mile radius, but if no one knows it, you will have enough students to support your studio or ashram.
Within this kind of economic climate, it is not hard to get your market share of Yoga students within your geographic area, if you are properly educated.
If anyone is already a certified Yoga teacher and new to our courses, we do have a Yoga business and marketing course that will put you on the fast track toward financial success.
I also have a few openings for one-to-one Yoga business coaching services, but there is limited space. It consists of developing / implementing a marketing plan and business plan, one hour of consultation by phone per month, and unlimited Email support.
About high priced Yoga certification courses: I cannot criticize an ashram for charging money. Maybe their overhead for Yoga teacher training has a high price tag? Who knows what each Yoga certification organization’s running costs are? Our in-person Yoga teacher training course is more expensive than our distance learning Yoga certification, because there is much less overhead involved. For example: You follow the step-by-step instructions and use the materials in your Yoga teacher certification course. If you need assistance, you contact us by phone or Email and your tutor helps you. This is much different than all of the running costs involved in the average Yoga teacher training. The result is the savings are passed on to you. This is the same reason why so many of the world’s universities provide, or are planning to provide, online educational training. Online Yoga certification and distance learning Yoga teacher training is just beginning to grow, and will have a promising future, much like the many courses that are springing up from universities around the world.
Yoga teacher Training Recipe of the Month
Vegetarian Split-Pea Soup
- 1 lb. dried split peas – rinsed well
- 6 cups water
- 2 shallots diced
- 6 whole garlic cloves
- 2 cups diced celery
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 1-teaspoon celery salt
- 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1-tablespoon basil
Always stir and add a little water if the peas get too thick, to prevent burning.
Place all ingredients in crock-pot and cook on high for 4-6 hours.
Like everything else I make, season to your specific taste and feel free to add or subtract any spices or vegetables. Sometimes, I add half of a head of rinsed and chopped escarole to this recipe.
To be honest, I use four tablespoons of curry for my taste. To me, the combination of curry and split peas is “comfort food.”
If you want to speed up the cooking on a stovetop: Soak the split peas overnight and sauté your vegetables in virgin olive oil. Cook vegetables until aldenté.
Combine your ingredients in a pot with 6 cups of water and cook together. Stir frequently and add a little water when necessary to prevent burning. With all the olive oil used in the sautéed vegetables you won’t need to add more, but if you do, the additional 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil gives it a smooth taste.
Lastly, soybean based Bacos or Morning Star Veggie bacon make good ham substitutes for your family members who insist. Again, always add for specific taste.
Mangi e goda! (Eat and Enjoy)
Announcement – Summer 2005 Yoga Teacher Training:
There are still a three spaces left in our Summer Yoga teacher training. Nine Yoga teacher interns have already signed up. Therefore, if you are interested in taking our onsite Yoga certification course, the window is closing fast. We have a firm policy of 12 candidates for Yoga teacher training at Aura Wellness Center’s North Providence, RI facility.
Side Note from the Editor:
Although we present a number of subjects related to Yoga instructor training, we are open to your suggestions about Yogic subjects. From past surveys, we have learned that 92% of our readership consists of Yoga teachers and interns. Any requests made by you regarding continuing education and services for Yoga instructors will be considered. We are gradually expanding our staff (authors and editors) to meet the needs of Yoga teachers around the world.