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Path to Freedom Pointers

The information below was originally shared for those attending the event to taught called “Path to Freedom” at the British Wheel of Yoga North West day of yoga (November 28th 2015). The information be useful for subsequent events or for students wanting some pointers to explore yoga for themselves.

[Note: 28th November 2015. The quotes used during the day of yoga have been added at the request of some of those students present.]

Areas of study and practice:-

 

Specific practices:-

  • Physical yoga postures
  • Mudras such as Chin mudra
  • Pranayama – Specifically in this context Nadhi Shodana also known as Alternate nostril breathing
  • Pratyahara – Shanmuki Mudra or possibly Bramari pranayama
  • Meditation – Specifically in this context Antar Mouna or Inner Silence
  • Karma yoga

 

Further reading (see book list for exact details):-

  • Hatha Yoga Pradipika
  • Gheranda Samhita
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – mainly chapter 1 and 2
  • Edge of Infinity – chapters 3, 5, 6 and 7
  • Bhagavad Gita – chapters 3 and 6
  • Yoga Darshan – Starting on pages 59, 87, 107, 226 until end of section

 

Quotes

99% practice 1% theory
(Sri K. Pattabhi Jois)

“Raja yoga is in practice an exploration and training of the mind. Ultimately this leads to complete mastery and understanding of the mind.”
(http://yoga-bija.me.uk/om/raja-yoga)

“Those who are enamoured of practice without theory are like a pilot who goes into a ship without rudder or compass and never has any certainty where he is going. Practice should always be based upon a sound knowledge of theory.”
(Leonardo da Vinci)

“The Yoga Sutra, is not a philosophy book to be studied with the intellect or ordinary mind, but rather it is an experiential workbook that is revealed by an open heart. Wisdom is by its nature, trans-rational and transconceptual — broader than any manmade conception or constructed thought wave, and Patanjali everywhere confirms that hypothesis. Wisdom as well as intellect comes from an innate sourceless intelligence of the universal boundless mind”
(Online PDF, reference available from yoga-bija.me.uk)

“The path of Karma Yoga gives us the possibility of expanding our awareness and deepening perception whilst acting in the world.”
(Edge of Infinity, page 223)

“Karma yoga means to perform work with awareness and to the best of our ability, without being attached to the outcome.”
(Edge of Infinity, page 223)

“In our daily life our minds are almost continually externalized. We see and hear only what is going on outside of us, and we have little understanding of the events taking place in our inner environment. The practice of antar mouna is designed to turn this around, so that for at least a short period we can see the workings of our mind and understand them. In reality antar mouna is one of the few ‘permanent sadhanas’ which can be practised spontaneously all the twenty four hours of the day by anyone who is really determined to know oneself.”
(Meditations from the tantras, page 211)

 

 


Posted in About Yoga, Developing a Personal Practice, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutras)

Personal Practice Guidelines

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yoga-bija.me.uk/about/personal-practice-guidelines


Posted in Developing a Personal Practice, Hatha Yoga

Asana and Meditation

When practicing postures (asana) it is most beneficial to try to cultivate concentration and awareness. Develop the ability to meditate on your body and posture whilst practicing asanas. Bring in the yamas and niyama (Yoga Sutras, 8 Limbs) into your practice. What are your attitudes towards yourself and your body when you are practicing? Are these attitudes positive or having a negative impact on your practice and being?

A couple of, off the cuff suggestions based on the list below for the 8 limbs.

  • When practicing there are times when closing the eyes is useful. This engages Pratyahara, although there are specific practices for Pratyahara also.
  • Ahimsa, can you stop trying to force yourself into a posture, and apply awareness to be a safe yogi?
  • Samtosha, can you be content with where you are, whilst trying to make progress instead of being unhappy with your practice?
  • Use a Drishti point. This is a steady gazing point such as big toe or a point on the floor in front of you which you focus your gaze on.
  • Can you learn to integrate bandhas, pratyahara, ujjayi and moolabandha to bring a more intense concentration and mediation into your practice?

The 8 limbs are:-

  • Yamas
    • Ahimsa – non-violent
    • Satya – truthfulness
    • Asteya – nonstealing
    • Brahmacharya – self control without disapating energies
    • Aparigraha – noncovetousness
  • Niyama
    • Saucha – cleanliness
    • Samtosha – contentment
    • Tapas – accepting the challenges of tranformation and letting go of the things that cause us pain and suffering
    • Svadhyaya – study of respected texts and healthy ways of living with respect to oneself
    • Isvara Pranidhana – Surrender to the mystery of the unknown in matters we can’t control or understand
  • Asana – the postures we do in class
  • Pranayama – breathing practices to control prana and energies in the body
  • Pratyhara – Sense withdrawl, or turning our attention inward.
  • Dharana – concentration
  • Dhyana – meditation
  • Samadhi

Namaste
Yoga Bija


Posted in About Yoga, Developing a Personal Practice, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutras)

Aim of Yoga

What is the aim of yoga? or what is the aim for the person who practices yoga? Well clearly there are many benefits and reasons to practice yoga. There are also many varied reasons why people become interested in yoga. This is all good.

Looking at the fundamental and essential nature of yoga we find that the real goal is that of quieting the mind. Not making it dull, not turning it off. The mind like a muscle is useful and has it’s purpose. However we tend to find our minds all over the place allot of the time. Most of our real problems emanate from the mind.

In other articles I have looked at Raja yoga and Hatha yoga. Hatha (any physical yoga) was created to prepare one for raja yoga (yoga of the mind). Therefore when practising yoga and following yoga we will potentially become engaged with the real purpose of yoga. Yoga means union, union of what?  To all of our nature, a harmonious interplay of our different aspects. Our mind is the control centre and that is the main focus for yoga.

To still the mind, “Cessation of the fluctuations of the mind stuff” (patanajali yoga sutras). If we are to still the mind we will need to meditate. In order to meditate we need to be able to sit still long enough to meditate without discomfort. When we practice postures (physical yoga) and breathing (pranayama) we need to ensure we are cultivating the cornerstones for yoga.

Therefore when practising any form of yoga, any type of practice it must help cultivate following qualities, or at least not disturb them.

  • Quite mind
  • Develop Concentration
  • Heighten Awareness
  • Bring you close to the moment of now

In order to achieve these things we can focus our practice on.

  • Opening the body to be able to sit for meditation without discomfort.
  • Cultivate concentration and awareness
  • Remove the afflictions of body any mind
  • Learn to meditate whilst practicing yoga
  • Gain an understanding of the effects of yoga off the mat
  • Realise that yoga is practiceable during ones whole day

During a typical yoga class you can work on these qualities and goals in order to explore the real purpose and meaning behind yoga. You can work your practice to be more mindful, to develop a meditative approach. There is allot you can do to deepen your yoga practice on and off the matt, and in and out of class.

On meditation it’s important to note sitting meditation is not the only way to medidate, but it is an important one.

Namaste
Russell


Posted in About Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutras)

Are you making best use of your yoga class?

Ask yourself, how can I use my yoga class better?. This might seem a little odd at first, but it’s a brilliant question when you think of it. First ask yourself why you go to a yoga class? Is it just to spend time in a class and you like the benefits? Maybe your not concerned about progression/healing, just happy to turn up join in and mix with people. Thats fine, just a good a reason as any other. However, if your at the point where you think you need more from a yoga, the class, or maybe a different class/teacher, first ask yourself “am I making best use of this class?”.

Are you making best use of your yoga class? What do I mean by this question. It’s all too easy to get bored, to decide its time to stop, move on or make a change. But have you really thought about why your at that point with that mindset? Most yoga teachers want to engage with their students more, they want them to ask them questions. Yoga teachers generally want to help you with your practice/body/issues etc. Do you give your yoga teacher (or teachers) the chance to help you? In a class they only have so much time, generally a yoga teacher will help the person they see at any moment as needing the most help. They will spread this help around. A teacher can help you before/after the class, or during if they know what you need/want from them and the class. They might create a new lesson plan, maybe when teaching certain postures they can pop over and help you. There are alot of ways a yoga teacher can help you, but only if they know you need that help. A teacher might not seem like they can help you, but how do you know, until you engage with your teacher to find out what is beyond your perception of their abilities, if there is more the teacher has to offer?

Here are some suggestions for getting more from your teacher and/or class.

  • Instructions: As you get more adept at the postures and being in a yoga class, feel free to ignore instructions. Pick up on the instructions that are relevant and focus on your own journey whilst being taught. Maybe the last 3 instructions wern’t relevant, but you could have been focussed on say your awareness and control of shoulder muscles in a posture and learnt experienced something more important for you in that moment.
  • Pain in muscles – Adjusting practice, or practicing certain postures in specific ways may help.
  • Where is your body restricted? Which postures would you like to be less restricted in? Once you have some ideas you may know what to do, or you have the opportunity to ask the teacher. They might only need to give you some advice you can work with in class. Or they could help you in class, or show you some postures/moves for home.
  • Are there any postures your interested in doing? or need help with? Again, chat with your teacher. They can assist you or teach a class or workshop on it.
  • Strength – If you want stronger body, or more strength for certain postures. Ask the teacher, give them the opportunity to help you.
  • Tell the teacher – what you need from them.
  • Beyond Asana – Do you want to know more about pranayama (breathing) or meditation practices?
  • Yogic texts – It’s possible to apply these to yoga practice and daily life.
  • Yoga practice for meditation – Try focusing you posture practice to help you sit better and for longer to help your meditation.
  • Ashram – do you need to spend time in a yoga ashram like the one in West Wales (Mandala Yoga Ashram)

You might be at a point where the difference will be found by taking control more activly and engaging more with your teacher than just turning up. Most people spend more time planning holidays than looking after themselves, their health or what they really need for a healthy happy life. It might be that you need to become more active and aware in your journey. Taking charge of your learning and become responsible is the best way to make a difference.

Where are you in your journey?

Namaste
Yoga Bija


Posted in Hatha Yoga
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