Poems to Mukunda By Mukunda Tom Stiles from his book The Yoga Poet

Abhyasa and Vairagya (Constant Practice & Dispassion)

Mind is racing
Never calm
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

Joy, ecstasy
Bliss eternal dances within me
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

No one loves me
I have no merit, no worth
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

I’m known the world over
Highly praised by others
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

I’m virile amazingly strong
I have the energy of ten
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

My joints are hurting
My back is sore, I’m old
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

Yogasana – I’ve mastered all
Peacock, scorpion, lotus
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

Siddhas, sages proclaim my greatness
Siddhis seek me to dance around
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

I’ve known all scriptures and sacred texts
No truth is hidden from me
O mukunda practice
Yoga Sadhana anyway.

This poem was published in 2009.

Yoga Is…

Yoga is about finding balance. In fact, the word yoga is taken from the Sanskrit word “yug” which means “to yoke” or “to join” – joining together of two equal but opposite things or ideas into a balanced whole. The integration of the mind & the body, the past & the present, masculine & feminine, strength & flexibility, to name but a few.

Many people have a tendency to equate the practice of yoga with the goal of placing the body in pretzel-like positions and contortions when in actuality it’s not at all about goals or learning to tie our bodies in knots.

” Before you learn to stand on your head, you need to learn to stand on your own two feet.”
Swami Satchidananda

Balanced in the present moment. Yoga is a process, not a goal. It’s not about trying to look like a picture in some book, but about learning about your own body and cultivating that mind-body connection. The physical is a reflection of the mental and spiritual. When the output of action does not balance with the input, we experience stress. Hatha yoga attenpts to bring the input and output into balance. We, as human beings, exist as a polarity. This is epitomized by the very word Hatha. “Ha” means Sun in Sanskrit – Heat/Light/Energy/Creativity/Action/Passion “Tha” means Moon in Sanskrit – Cool/Reflective/Receptive/Intuitive/Accepting

We move from one extreme to the other. The process of yoga is to lead us into balance and harmony of this polarity. The asanas or postures are a discipline for the body, exerting effects on the mind. Positive effects not only on the mind and the emotions, but on the muscles, organs and glands as well. They have a balancing effect upon the nervous system, making us better able to deal with stress. They increase our flexibility, improve our circulation, strengthern our muscles, aid in digestion, support stress-related conditions and improve our breathing capacity and the elasticity of our lungs.

The health community has realized that a high-impact aerobic work-out creates more injuries than benefits – in the knees, low backs and ankles. Yoga lasts for a liftime unlike many sports that we may need to abandon as we age. But the benefits far exceed enhancing our physical health and mental activity to promoting emotional balance and spiritual awareness. It provides a way to feel peaceful in this chaotic world in which we live.

Yoga is neither political or religious. Anyone can practice it regardless of age, sex or physical condition. Yoga evolved initially as an oral tradition which was taught one on one so that the teaching was passed directly from teacher to student. Today, there are many fine books and tapes about yoga which are very useful whether you are a beginner or a continuing student. But a teacher can provide that personal guidance and instruction that you may not find in the pages of a book. You make your own choice as to what will work best for you. And if you do decide that you would like to try a yoga class, please utilize our directory of teachers. There you will find representatives of a variety of styles of yoga from the strengthening yet relaxing focus of classical yoga, to the dynamic pace of astanga yoga and the alignment-oriented requirements of an Iyengar class. Please feel free to make inquiries of any of the teachers so that you can learn more.

Practicing yoga and meditation is not about withdrawing from the world, it’s about how to embrace life more fully – how to accomplish more without getting stressed in the process. It is the process of joining the ordinary with the extraordinary during our daily life. Yoga is a tool for learning to notice and challenge our perceived limitations, giving us the opportunity to suspend our beliefs about what we can and cannot do.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

The above article was written by Christine, a certified yoga teacher in the Denver area and was originally published in 2009.

Excerpts from Yoga Sutras of Patanjali interpreted by Mukunda Stiles

II, 28
By sustained practice
of all the component parts of yoga,
the impurities dwindle away
and wisdom’s radiant light
shines forth
with discriminative knowledge.

II, 29
Yoga’s eight component parts
are self-control
for social harmony,
precepts
for personal discipline,
yoga pose,

regulation of prana,
withdrawal of the senses from their objects,
contemplation of our True Nature,
meditation on the True Self,
and being absorbed in Spirit.

II, 46
Yoga pose
is a steady
and comfortable position.

II, 47
Yoga pose is mastered
by relaxation of effort,
lessening
the natural tendency
for restlessness,
and promoting an identification
of oneself as living
within
the infinite stream of life.

II, 48
From that
perfection of yoga posture,
duality,
such as reacting to praise and criticism,
ceases
to be a disturbance.

II, 49
When this is acquired
then pranayama naturally follows
with a cessation
of the movements
of inspiration and expiration.

II, 50
The vacillations of breath
are either external,
internal, or stationary,
they may be regulated
three ways:
by location, time, or number;
then they will become
prolonged and subtle.

II, 51
In a fourth method
of regulating one’s breath,
it is extended
into the Divine Life Force
and prana
is felt permeating everywhere,
transcending the attention
given to either
external or internal objects
.

II, 52
As a result
of this pran-ayama,
the veil obscuring the radiant
Supreme light of the inner Self
dissolves.

II, 53
And as a result,
the mind becomes fit
for the process of contemplation
of the True Self.

 

This article was originally published in 2010.

Present Moment Practice by Bethany Doepke, YTOC Correspondent

Why do we practice yoga? What sustains us through every resistance, every episode of mind negativity, every bout with the chattering ego? Is it not the desire—often unarticulated, sometimes buried deep beneath everyday consciousness—to be whole, to be truly ourselves, to radiate the energy into which we sometimes, joyously, tap?

In fact, is that not solely the goal of yoga, but the goal of life—to tap into the source of pure energy, and allow that energy to play through us as if we were harps upon which the Divine played it’s song?

Yes! Yes, we cry!

Of course, on tired days (and perhaps this is one), wouldn’t we simply like to be free of our exhausting neurotic impulses: our fears and obsessions, our blind spots and constrictions?

Of course. Of course we would.

Even for the experienced yogi, however, the path to this freedom is subtle and difficult to discern. A beautifully executed asana is not the path if the mind is full of its own clutter. The thoughts, comments, judgments, and reactions that make up the mind’s clutter are the roadblocks to wholeness and freedom because they are not of the present moment, and here is the key,
here is the subtlety: the present moment. It is only in the present moment that true life, true freedom, occurs. It is only in the present moment that we have any real power.

Thoughts masquerade as the present moment because they occur in a slice of consciousness we call “now.” But actually, thoughts always have their reference point, their true origin and location, in the past or the future. It is not thoughts, but experiences, that happen in the present moment. Experiences are feelings and sensations that are always locatable in your body—your hamstring suddenly seizing in resistance, a piercing shock of embarrassment as you fall out of a pose others are holding, a sluice of sudden energy through your spine in a deep backbend. It is when the mind comments upon or judges the experience that we are taken out of the present
moment because all of the comments and judgments have their reference points somewhere else: in a comparison point against which this experience transcends or falls short. The profound experience of wholeness, however, comes when we ALLOW the experience to be whole in itself—not better or worse than another experience we have already had, or wish to have in the
future.

Seeking to unite the ancient consciousness-evolving practices of the East with the psychological insights of the West, John Ruskan writes, in his book, Emotional Clearing, that “while the mind is always either in the past or the future, the body is always in the moment because of its feeling
nature, and feeling is inherently in the moment. Being in the moment is a condition that we should strive to develop, because life is taking place in the moment. When locked in the mind, in expectations of the future based on the past, we do not confront and experience life.”

It must be admitted, however, that staying in the direct experience of the present moment is not easy. The mind has a way of asserting itself so convincingly that we are always believing ourselves to be just on the verge of real truth as we listen to its commentary. The mind is a persistent companion, a really loquacious “friend,” and just because we become conscious of the wish for it to pipe down (and perhaps, on an unconscious level, we’ve become rather comfortable with its noise), does not mean it will actually comply, and be quiet. It’s only means of survival, after all, is it’s own voice. It has every desperate stake in continuing its monologue, with you as it’s rapt audience.

Chip Hartranft, a modern interpreter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, points out Patanjali’s recognition “that one of the most primary internal forces in a human being is the inclination toward selfhood. Self-making has the effect of organizing the shifts contents of consciousness into a seamless pseudo-reality that seems to unfold over time.

” . . .However, when consciousness becomes truly motionless, these appearances of permanence and continuity break down . . . [and] the illusory reality represented in consciousness becomes transparent as body and mind grow deeply still.”

Furthermore, Hartranft points out, “one’s sense of time becomes spacious, with consciousness sensing many more individual events than before, and beginning to perceive it’s own workings in more detail. What had seemed like a smooth flow—the reality of the phenomenal world—can now be seen as the flickering of microphenomena arising and vanishing with unimaginable
subtlety . . . As [the] illusion falls apart, the self and the world reveal themselves to be nothing but a stream of rapidly changing events . . . In this light, the dramas of consciousness no longer seem real, nor do they propel one any longer toward thoughts or actions that bring more suffering.”

The only hope, then, for dispensing with the reality of our exhausting and, essentially, false dramas, is to acquaint ourselves with a more steady, more present companion. This companion is the breath. The breath is remarkably subtle and quiet, and yet it is always there—no, it is always HERE, right HERE, precisely in the NOW. The more you know the breath, the more you
unite your actions with the breath, the more subtle will be your awareness of the present moment, and the more power you will have to dive into the present moment’s depths, and see the true nature of reality.

The Yoga-Sutra reminds us that “a disciplined inner life is the most direct path to happiness.” Interpreting ancient teachings to a modern audience, Chip Hartranft explains that “our bodyminds can know their true nature by letting themselves gravitate towards effortless sitting and breathing. And our attention can be stabilized, with perception coming to rest in the
present moment and clarifying to the point where the unity of all things is known beyond argument or reservation.”

In other words, eventually, the breath will take you deep enough that the mind will no longer follow. In this place, you will find truth and freedom, recognizing that truth and freedom are one and the same, and furthermore, that the mind, in itself, has access to neither.

Put simply, any time the goal is freedom, the breath can be your guide. In yoga, in meditation, in a stressful situation, at dinner with your partner, in the car with your kids, the breath is your portal into present moment experience, and present moment experience is where you find your wholeness and freedom. Hartranft reminds us, however, that it is not in sitting and focusing on the breath that the trouble occurs, “but in overcoming the well-established mental and physical habits that already produce suffering in our lives. These habits of perception and behavior cost us dearly, yet we cannot help but hold them dear, for they ARE us. That is, we have all
developed seemingly tried-and-true patterns of thinking and reacting, crystallizing into stories about ourselves and the world, and we cling to them as our identity and home.”

While clinging to the noise of these stories and beliefs may be our inclination, we must never underappreciate the profundity of the breath’s depth and silence. The breath leads us to a place that confirms that the present moment requires no judge or narrator. The mind, protecting its
very existence, would only have us think so.

Quotes taken from The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, by Chip Hartranft and Emotional Clearing, by John Ruskan

 

This article was originally published in 2010.

The Beauty of Breath by Roseanna Frechette

Within our breath lies the fundamental essence of yoga. Without the sustenance of breath our human selves would not even be alive to experience the vital life force, the pranic essence of yoga. Without breath we lose the connection to that universal life force energy, the joining with which brings us into a state of yoga.
But how many times a day do we find ourselves lessening, stalling and even holding the breath? We get busy with the never-ending list of to-do’s and all the details of our day-to-day existence. Our attention constantly goes out of ourselves. We feel rushed and stressed. We forget to breathe!

Try this. Take a moment just to notice the immediate quality of your breath. Is it shallow or deep, quick or slow? Is it sporadic or steady, incomplete or full? Just notice at first. Watch the breath coming and going. You may begin to feel the sensation of your breath against your nostrils–cool as it comes in, warm as it moves out. You may begin allowing the breath to slow down.

As you continue to consciously breathe, you may try allowing the breath to drop down to the belly. Imagine you are filling a balloon in the belly with breath. Try this several times. Next allow the breath to widen the rib cage. You might imagine you are playing an accordion by allowing the breath to move the ribs in and out, sideways. Try this many times. Now allow the breath to warm the upper regions of your lungs where the heart center lives. You may feel the breath move front to back as if you had doors opening to the front side of your heart and doors opening from the back side of your heart. Let the winds of your breath move freely in and out of the doors to your heart.

Now try moving the breath like a rhythmic breeze slowly, smoothly, in and out. Feel the expansive quality of your breathing as you fill the belly and rib cage as well as the upper lungs. Hear the sound your breath makes. Feel a vital life force, the pranic essence, filling you over and over. And when you empty the breath, let it empty all the way from the belly, rib cage, and upper lungs. You might allow tensions and mental debris to flow out on the exhalation. Or you might choose to send a beautiful force back out of yourself through your breath.

As you move forward from here, try carrying this quality of breath with you. Make a decision that you will honor your breath throughout the day. And from here on, when you catch yourself tensing, stalling, holding the breath, give yourself just a few moments to repeat the above exercise. You may need to practice with the written instructions many times at first. You are training yourself to breathe the full yogic breath. But like many things, with consistent practice you will eventually just know how to do this. You won’t need instruction. Only awareness. Then, as often as you like, you’ll be able to let your devoted awareness bring you back to the beauty of your breath.

 

This article was originally posted by Mandi Ashbrook in 2010

Wisdom at its best! … A message from Swamiji Dharmananda

Dear Friends,
This is wisdom at its best, coming from a young 33 year old American. Please pass it on to as many young people as possible.

It is these informations that are coming to me day by day. It is these informations that are termed as the highest wisdom. This particular piece of wisdom is from a young American age 33. This is the young generation and this is there wisdom.  For some reason I feel everybody needs to know this. It is this education that all great ancient traditions/masters have taught and modern education is not teaching. Present education in the Universities is wrong, in the families is wrong, leading to a unhappy existence. That needs to be corrected.

Love and blessings.
Swamiji
Address in USA
1813 Rannoch Dr,
Longmont, CO-80504,
Telephone:  USA – 720-.310.2207)
Email: sdharmananda@yahoo.co.in
Website:www.swamidharmananda.weebly.com

India Address
Spiritual Teacher and Counselor
International Vishwaguru Meditation and Yoga Institute
Ved Niketan Dham, P.O. Swargashram – 249304
Dist. Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, via Rishikesh, India

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi
Happy moments praise God. Difficult moments seek God. Quiet moments worship God.
Painful moments trust God.  Every moment thank God
Good thoughts are always positive to the bad ones and bad ones are always negative to the good ones
Everything is impermanent, so let giving without bargaining be a joy.