Yoga Nidra’s Transformational Power with Jenn Brennan

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Description:

iRest & Yoga Nidra can help people lean into their life regardless of the situation or circumstance and support them to discover that there is nothing to fix, heal or change.

Today, with Jenn Brennan, we are talking about Yoga Nidra’s healing effects:

👉 What is Yoga Nidra?

👉 The difference between Yoga Nidra and meditation

👉 The purpose of Yoga Nidra

👉 What yoga teachers should know about Yoga Nidra, iRest and the different Yoga Nidra practices/”styles”

👉 How Yoga Nidra can change your life and achieve transformation

About Jenn:

Jenn Brennan is a Holistic Health Practitioner who empowers women to discover a deep connection within themselves that unlocks more joy in their daily life. She is passionate about helping others in times of stress, transition & loss.

Check out Jenn’s online program: https://www.facebook.com/DeepRestore/

Visit Jenn online: http://www.yogabathandbody.com

Key Takeaways

[00:04] Introduction to Jen Brennan and Yoga Nidra

[00:43] What is Yoga Nidra?

[03:12] Is it normal to fall asleep in Yoga Nidra?

[04:47] What is the difference between Yoga Nidra and Meditation?

[05:45] Is your meditation practice benefiting those around you and yourself?

[09:04] Do certain types of meditation separate us?

[09:45] Yoga Nidra gives us a sense of connection.

[10:37] How Yoga Nidra translates from the supine state into the rest of our lives.

[14:08] The different “brands” of Yoga Nidra and how yoga teachers can get started.

[18:14] When is a good time to do Yoga Nidra?

[19:17] Why you sleep so well after Yoga Nidra.

[22:22] Resources Jenn recommends for Yoga Nidra.

[25:27] How Jenn uses Yoga Nidra in her classes and yoga business.

Quotes from this episode

Yoga Nidra takes you from the waking state, the thinking state, all the way through the different levels of the brain waves that release you into deep relaxation.

With Yoga Nidra, we want to be able to navigate through these different layers of brain wave states and still be aware.

It can be super challenging for people to enter into a Yoga Nidra if they’re used to being on the go all the time because we actually invite in deep relaxation by laying down and resting and stillness so that they can enter into the deeper states where healing can happen and more awareness can shine through. 

Another difference between Yoga Nidra and regular meditation is that it’s a deep practice of welcoming and also befriending life in the body. 

I’ll never forget the moment when I was drinking a cup of tea and for some reason Oprah was on Super Soul Sunday and somebody said, “if your meditation practice is not benefiting those around you, it’s not very powerful.”

When I heard that, I realized my form of meditation was causing more separation. I could only find meditation in specific states. I had to have stillness in order for it to feel like it was working. 

And yet Yoga Nidra is you walking in life, walking through life, feeling everything as it is.

Is your meditation feeding you in a way that you’re a more kinder, more compassionate person, not just towards others, but towards yourself? 

Because if we’re not careful, we can use our meditation as a medication from feeling real life. 

And we all know that the more we put up the resistance patterns of just not meeting ourselves in our meditation practice, then we put that out into the world of not being able to meet the world is it comes to us on an ongoing basis. 

The principle behind the Yoga Nidra and particularly iRest, is that everybody is wanting to feel a sense of connection, a sense of belonging, a sense of being seen and a sense of being heard. 

And so if we are integrating that into the Yoga Nidra or into our meditation practice, there’s a very good chance that it’s going to create a more expansive state. 

iRest protocol is a step by step process to feel into each of these layers of our being so that we can integrate back to the true remembrance of wholeness that we are. 

It’s trying to lead you into a place where you remember that your true nature is really this wellbeing of vitality, of joy and of love. 

The more you practice Yoga Nidra, the more the practice remembers you. It becomes part of your life. It lives through you.

Jenn’s Book Recommendations

The iRest Program for Healing PTSD by Richard Miller

Daring to Rest by Karen Brody

Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep by Kamini Desai

Astrology & Yoga with Sirena Dudgeon

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Yoga is not only the connection of body, mind, and spirit, but also to the cosmos and planets around us.

Sirena Dudgeon connects the cosmos and planets into her yoga classes to create a truly unique class experience for her students.

She’s going to share with us some examples of how you can start to bring astrology into your classes and help your students connect more with body, mind, spirit and the cosmos around us.

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado.

RSVP receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Sirena:

I am a 200 RYT for about 3 years now, I teach in Longmont, Boulder and Lyons. My love of yoga is coupled with my love of Astrology. I design my classes around moon and sun phases of the zodiac – and which part(s) of the body are associated with those signs. I also place a lot of emphasis on the spiritual side of yoga (versus it just being exercise and a workout) in my classes with pranayama, meditation, japa, yoga sutras, etc. I hold workshops on astrology/yoga and also Yoga in the “Church” with a dear reverend friend of mine. We explore spirituality amongst all beliefs and combine them with vinyasa yoga flows in a beautiful sacred space.

Find Sirena online: https://sirenanow.wordpress.com

Key Takeaways:

Allison’s personal takeaways: I don’t have much experience with Astrology and it was fascinating to get my chart read by Sirena. I HIGHLY recommend her for an astrology reading or an astrology workshop. She recently did an astrology workshop for her co-workers- how cool is that?!?

[00:24] About Sirena

[01:56] What is astrology and they type of astrology that Sirena practices

[04:06] The different elements of the signs, cardinal signs, and how Sirena brings these into her class theme

[05:16] Horoscoping

[06:26] Is horoscoping and astrology trying to predict the future?

[10:19] How Sirena brings astrology into her yoga classes – new & full moons, body parts, energies, all the good stuff!!!

[15:02] How yoga teachers can bring in 

[18:08] Mercury Retrograde- what is it and how does it really affect us???

[22:25] How to work with Sirena- workshops, chart readings & yoga classes.

Quotes from this episode

“Astrology is just a huge snapshot of a person’s life. So when you’re born- it’s a snapshot of the sky, the cosmos, and that’s your chart.”

“You have to just work with the energies and it takes time to learn that.”

“Astrology kind of gives you that deeper level of understanding of the “Why” this is happening in your life. It helps fill in the blanks sometimes.”

“Astrology is similar to yoga. It’s a journey.”

“Mercury is a planet of learning and sharing ideas, sharing information, learning information, connecting and communicating. It’s not just technology.”

“If you want to start learning astrology, attend some classes or workshops. That’s really the best way to get started.”

Iyengar Yoga for Healing with Rick and Michelle Gindele

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Iyengar yoga is heavily based on alignment and form. Join us as we chat with Rick & Michelle Gindele of Santosha Yoga and hear their experience of Iyengar Yoga and its healing power. 

We are talking about these topics today:

👉 The Philosophy of Iyengar Yoga

👉 The importance of “proper alignment” for yoga teachers

👉 Rick’s recent experience of Iyengar Yoga’s healing benefits

👉 How to learn more or become a certified Iyengar yoga teacher

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado.

RSVP receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Michelle & Rick:

Michelle is the founder of Santosha Yoga and a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher (CIYT). She began practicing yoga in 1997 and started teaching in the Denver area in 2002. Michelle is very grateful for the opportunity to study the yoga sutras, yogic philosophy, meditation, and astrology for over fourteen years with her guru, GOSWAMI KRIYANANDA. Her primary yoga instructors include Craig Kurtz, Leslie Bradley, and many senior Iyengar Yoga teachers. Michelle’s compassionate and balanced teaching style incorporates principles of alignment, focused awareness, and mindfulness.

Rick a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT) started practicing yoga on his own in 1984 when he bought a used copy of Richard Hittleman’s Yoga 28 Day Exercise Plan in order to relieve chronic back pain. In 1988 he began taking Hatha Yoga classes as a way to bring balance back to his body from years of serious athletic training and outdoor pursuits. Since 2001, Rick has dedicated himself to the study and practice of yoga.

Check them out online http://santoshayogastudio.com

Key Takeaways

[00:16] Introducing Michelle & Rick

[01:40] What is Iyengar Yoga and the Philosophy behind it?

[05:39] What does “alignment based” mean in the Iyengar tradition? And where did Iyengar come up with alignment based yoga?

[15:58] Rick’s personal experience of the healing benefits of Iyengar Yoga

[19:34] What is the first step in becoming an Iyengar certified teacher?

Quotes from this episode:

BKS Iyengar’s quote about yoga – “I just try to get the physical body in line with the mental body, the mental body in line with the intellectual body and the intellectual body with the spiritual body and and so they’re all balanced. It’s just pure traditional yoga from our gurus, from Patanajali.”

“You can reach all the other limbs of yoga through the postures.”

“The point of holding the poses longer is so you can go deeper. It’s an inward journey so you can go deeper into your own body into those different layers and you know, get to the core of your existence. And so it’s all that self exploration that you go through with the help of the teacher of course.”

“Another purpose of proper alignment is so the Prana does move through the body, less restricted and therefore there’s more healing that will take place and all sorts of other things can take place too.”

“if you want to learn more about the alignment than go to an Iyengar class and learn from your own experience. Experience is your best teacher.”

“It Is What Is” – Maintaining Your Body-Mind Connection in the Present Moment

About Elaine:

Elaine has been interested in yoga since she was a teenager, practicing since 1981 and teaching yoga since 1999. Elaine Schuhrke holds an MAT from Colorado College and is certified through the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She is also a certified Life Coach. She revels in introducing the practical, healing applications of yoga to people in every walk of life. Most of her yoga training has been in the Kripalu Lineage.

When you attend one of Elaine’s classes, schedule a private session or contract her for services with your business, you are sure to receive a personal and professionally competent experience that best fits the areas of your needs and concerns and aspects of your life where you feel you need the most assistance.

You can learn more about Elaine at ColoradoYogaDipika.com.

Let’s start the interview!

Allison: Let’s get started! One of the things that I know you’re really passionate about is helping people with the, um, with your upcoming program, which is going to be focused on reestablishing that brain body emotion connection. Is that correct?

Elaine: Oftentimes in our regular, everyday ordinary life, something happens that’s an upset, whatever it might be. It might be something that really makes you angry or irritates you and you find yourself completely distracted. And you find yourself four blocks away from your house and you get to the second stop sign and you think, “How’d I get here?”

Your mind is taking your attention and running off with it. This happens in bigger ways where months go by and you’re like, “how did I get here?”

What I love about yoga is that it teaches us to stay present and focused with what’s going on in front of you without resistance and without attraction. And we can do this with a tool we have every single day – your body.

Allison: There’s a stigma around yoga teachers. Our students, friends and family may look at us and think we have our lives together. We “figured it all out” and we don’t have any problems. But that’s really not true. We get just as distracted as everyone else, we sometimes end up at a stop sign 4 blocks away too. But the difference is we have the tools of yoga to bring us back on track. Yoga helps brings us into this awareness that we are 4 blocks away. Some people may “drive” for miles without noticing but yoga brings us back quicker.

Allison: So I know that you have a retreat coming up where you’re going to help people reestablish this balance and learn to stay in the present moment. What are you going to be doing at the retreat and is it open for everyone?

Elaine: This retreat is open to all levels but we aren’t going to do Hatha Yoga 24/7. It’s a Friday evening, all day Saturday and a half day on Sunday. I adjust the yoga class to the people who come. I have taught yoga to a wide variety of people over the space of 20 years. I’ve come out of public education. And before that I was the lift operator and a construction labor. I’ve gotten really good at making yoga accessible to just about anyone.

Allison: Can you attend if you can’t touch your toes?

Elaine: Of course!!!! The only way people will benefit from yoga is if they do it. You can sit in a chair or in the front seat of your car (with it in park) and, and practice yoga.

Yoga is more than just asana and the postures. I’ve been doing a lot of mudras with my class recently because I work with students who are not very ambulatory. I can’t put them in a dangerous situation because of their balance issues.

But I can teach them mudras that energetically help them align and energetically balance their physical, mental, and emotional states. It is such a rich understanding of how human bodies work in relation to the universe. It is continually fascinating to me.

So many people who come to me for yoga do it for free stress reduction of some sort. They, they realize they have disconnected from something and they want that connection back. They, they know that it’s there and they want that.

We can help them find that through the power of yoga.

Allison: This retreat sounds like it can help people re-balance their body, mind and soul and learn to come back into connection. Tell me more about the retreat- What’s included in the retreat?

Elaine: On Saturday morning, we will start with a Hatha class and a wonderful vegetarian breakfast which is included in the price. The Abbey staff makes wonderful vegetarian fare!

Then, we’re going to use a technique out of yoga therapy that integrative Amrit method calls energy diffusion technique. We use the felt sense of your body to become more present and put your attention on some outstanding sensation and work at that edge consciously and deliberately using your breath and practicing what I like to call nonresistance, just being present with it as it is and allowing it to be in your presence and you to be in its presence.

Our body typically avoids these sensations that we feel in our body and judges them as bad. But when we bring awareness to this area, your mind becomes familiar with that quality of sensation and your conscious attention activates the intelligence of Prana.

Prana is energetic intelligence. It’s not just fuel, it’s intelligence.

It’s running your body all the time. So we want to use Prana to our advantage, to dissolve and resolve mental and emotional blocks that you may carry in your body. We use Prana to dissolve and resolve the blocks that your mind keeps on saying, no, I don’t want to deal with that.

That will be the majority of the work on Saturday. We’ll do some yoga nidra on Saturday night to wrap up, then go out for dinner on your own.

On Sunday morning, we will have morning yoga, breakfast and another session to tie things together and expand upon some of the things that people have experienced.

One of the things about yoga is that if you haven’t experienced it then you’re only talking about it.

That’s intellectual understanding. That’s nice. But it’s not application and it’s the application of yoga that has effect . When you can feel that you can know through experience – that stays with you. It’s not that you memorized all the Sanskrit terms for 108 Sun Salutations. Yoga happens when you have it in your body.

To really experience it in your body, find a pose that you really need and hold it for at least three breaths. Come out of the pose. Feel the release of that Prana that was dammed up in the pose and relax with it and use your breath to keep your mind’s attention on experiencing that expansion of energy because the energy of your body follows the attention of your mind. And by putting your mind’s attention where your body is, not only do you conserve your energy more and more, but the level of energy in your body goes up and washes out some of these mental, emotional, habitual holdings in our body.

And that’s the other reason you’ll usually feel better after a yoga session.

Allison: You’re so amazing! Where is the retreat held?

Elaine: It’s at the Abbey in Canon City off of Highway 50. It’s a former Benedictine monastery. Monks aren’t there anymore. It’s now privately held. My yoga studio is onsite at that campus. This retreat will be held in the Abbey’s room in the community events center You go around the church part of the monastery and in the back there’s a rather modern looking building that’s the event center and there’ll be signs on the stop signs and stuff directing people where to go.

Allison: When and how can people register?

Elaine: The deadline for registering is this Sunday, April 21. If you’re interested, make sure that you visit my website and either call me or email me.
The amount is $195. There is lodging at the Abbey that’s very inexpensive and you can reserve with the lodging and events coordinator, Leslie Durham. That information is on the event flyer on my website.

Hope you enjoyed Elaine, I sure did! Until next time,

Allison
Yoga Teachers of Colorado – President

A Call for Change

Repost from Yoga International

Currently, instructors who lead Yoga Alliance 200-hour teacher trainings are not required to have any background in accessible yoga or adaptation. The only requirement is that the lead teacher trainer be a registered teacher with Yoga Alliance at the 200-hour experienced level (an E-RYT). This means that there are probably many yoga teacher trainers who lack knowledge in how to make yoga accessible.

At the present time, Yoga Alliance is undertaking a teacher training Standards Review Project. Many people within the accessible yoga community sincerely hope that Yoga Alliance will add the teaching of accessible yoga practice adaptations as a curriculum requirement for completing teacher training. The long overdue inclusion of this requirement is essential—not only to keep students safe, but to make practitioners of all abilities feel welcome in classes, both as students and as potential teachers of yoga.

Read the entire article here: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-need-for-accessible-yoga-in-yoga-teacher-trainings

unlocking the upanishads: 4 key lessons for yogis

these texts may be ancient, but they are a powerful source of inspiration for modern yogis

While the Vedas are considered the most sacred and treasured texts of India, it is the Upanishadsthat transferred the wisdom of the Vedas into practical and personal teachings.

The word ‘upanishad’ literally means “sitting down beside,” and the collection of Sanskrit texts known as the Upanishads are thought to be the direct teachings received at the foot of the ancient Indian sages. This illustrates the position of receiving wisdom and guidance humbly from a teacher or guru.

Continue to Read Full Article Below

YOGI TIMES

Asanas, Koshas & Elements: An Essential Relationship: by Mark Giubarelli

“The five elements and Koshas are essential to your proper understanding of this art. You cannot understand balance of harmony if you do not perceive all these layers and elements.” That is what my teachers told me in my earlier years. Many thousands of classes down the road and the clarification has come. Not only has the clarity come, but with it is the ability to give a clear presentation of these theories and concepts to people, even those with no understanding of yoga.
It is complicated to write about these matters and how they are viewed in the yoga postures. So I will just touch upon them. The elements start with the heaviest: earth–skin, bone, and flesh;water—fluids in the body; fire–mental charge that is applied to the body; Air–the air in the body; Space–viewed by my teachers as mental presence. The Five Bodies (Koshas) starting with the heaviest: Anatomical Body; Physiological Body; Psychological Body; Intellectual Body; Blissful Body.

It is necessary to consider each body; otherwise it is almost impossible to reach a blissful state in not only the Yoga posture being performed but also on the sequence and transitioning from posture to posture. We can think of the five bodies like this while in a posture. How is the bone structure? Can I push any further? What effect does this have on my nervous system and mind? How does this posture affect my breathing? Is there that state of lightness in the pose where I am engulfed in light and that light is engulfed in me…where I am no longer inside or out…where I am one with the light that is all around me?
I hope you can attend this presentation talking first about the theories above and then applying those theories to a Yoga Sequence. (Note: Sanskrit left out.)

Mark has taught thousands of classes in the Denver Area, specializing in Vinyasa style, the art of sequencing. He is originally from Scotland, where he began the study of Yoga that eventually carried him to further studies in California and a teaching life in Colorado.

Practicing More Than Asana

Today there are many teachers who excel at teaching wonderful asana classes.

There is more to Yoga than asana. If one explores the Ashtanga Path as defined by Pantanjali in the Yoga Sutras or the Hatha Yoga path as outlined by Svatmarama in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, asana is only one aspect of Yoga. The classical texts include even more techniques.

A basic listing of techniques includes: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi, shat karma, mudra, bandha, drsti, mantra, multiple forms of meditation and ayurvedic attunement to practice.

You may be familiar with many of the practices. How many techniques do you practice? Practice is the door to real understanding.

How many techniques do you integrate into your classes? Granted, it is difficult to “lead” dharana, dhyana and samadhi in a yoga class, as these are the inner experience of Yoga. Class does create the safety and the space for students to experience these levels of union. The other methodologies listed facilitate the opportunity for students to find and explore the meditative practices fully.

It is important to start with an understanding of yoga and need for practices. Yoga is union. It is the quieting the mind. It is action in inaction. To do this effectively, we must maintain our prana instead of continually allowing ojas (a particular yogic form of reserves) to escape by releasing energy through the nine gates (eyes, ears, mouth, nose, anus and uretha) or by spreading ourselves so thin in a multitude of activities we have no way to sustain inner stamina or ojas.

Many of the techniques are about containing and channeling prana and sustaining ojas. The practices are about opening the channels in our body so the prana can flow in our body fluidly. As you practice your own sadhana, notice if you are doing practices to contain and sustain prana or if your practices allow prana to escape.

In this months’ YTOC newsletter, I will define the practices. If there is interest, I will be glad to continue to contribute articles exploring the techniques in an experiential format. The methods are listed the following in alphabetical order as I feel each is equally important.

Asana practices can be done as a stretch or with an internal awareness. Asana can be done with gross muscles or an inner attention to the intrinsic muscles. Asana can be done with containing energy or throwing energy away. Which factors do you consider when practicing asana?

Ayurveda is not really a practice. It is the sister science of Yoga which addresses our health, balance of life and lifestyle. We can do asana, pranayama and other techniques, which do not support our inner balance. For example, too many fire breaths or warming asanas are not good if you are already a fiery person. Understanding and integrating ayurveda knowledge will allow you to develop a balanced flow to enhance your life.

Bandha means “lock”. The major purpose of bandha is to lock energy into a specific region of the body, stimulating the vayu or prana. There are three major locks that are emphasized in the Hatha Yoga writings. They are the mula bandha ” root lock”, jalandhara bandha “throat lock”, and uddiyana bandha “stomach lock”. The locks are used to contain the prana in the subtle bodies. They can be used in pranayama practice or in asana to hold in or lock energy into a specific area for focus, for healing, creating agni and channeling kundalini to the sushumna if the vayus are balanced and the nadis are open.

Drsti is gazing at various points of the body, which changes the energy flow. The most common gazing areas are the chakras or the lingham. Lower gazes root into the earth. Mid body drsti is normally on the heart and creates a calming cooling effect. Third eye gazes can be warming and invigorating as well as deep penetrating energy. Explore a pose such as Paschimottanasana with your gaze at the root chakra and then the ajna chakra. How does it feel?

Mantra is the use of vibrational sound. In the context of the Vedic tradition, essence comes first and sound represents an essence. We therefore, chant sounds that stimulate or awaken aspects of physical, emotional or spiritual body when we use mantra. Mantras are energy based and often have no “translation.” Mantras are chakra based, representing the petals of the chakras. Mantra energizes prana and can be likened to purifying fire. Mantras quiet the mind Mantra can be chanted externally or internally. Do you do dhun, bhajan or vedic chanting with you practice?

Meditation is more than setting and stopping the mind. It is an unfolding process to quiet the mind, a practice that for some is simple, others very difficult. Therefore, in the yoga world there are many styles of meditation to accommodate different types of persons, whether you are more audio, visual or kinesthetic. (These parallel vata, pitta and kapha.) Examples of meditation include: chanting, mantra, japa, nada, ratak, Sambhavi, jyotir, pranayama, inner visualization, subtle body focus, Vipassana, metta. Are you doing a meditative practice, which supports your dosha and feels effortless?

Mudra have two forms both which are used to channel energy in the body. The classical mudras are asana practice with the energy contained by bandhas and channeled with drsti. In more recent years we have developed hand mudras. Each finger has a different energy, planet, organ, part of the body etc. which it effects when touched. Various angles of the hand impact a nadi. By aligning the hands in different positions with the fingers touching, energy is channeled. For example, we can change the breath from the right lung to the left lung, upper lobe to lower lobe just be the position of the hands and fingers!

Pranayama practices can heat the body, cool the body, stimulate or balance different doshas, calm us down or excite the body. We can do breathing practices or pranayama. Breathing practices allow us to strengthen our breath. Pranayama increases life force and sustains prana in the body. Pranayama should not deplete our energy. Do you use pranayama in a way to augment your practice and lifestyle?

Pratyahara is commonly defined as the withdrawal of senses. Have you ever been so engrossed in a book you became oblivious to movement around you — pratyahara. As a yogic technique, we do it as an inward focus rather than through external concentration. Bringing our senses inward, or pratyahara, is the first step of meditation; we can practice pratyahara doing asana by attending to the inner sensations rather then the external alignment and detail.

Shat Karmas or Kriyas are the practices of cleansing the body. Energy cannot flow through the body channels if they are clogged physically. The basic shat karma practices are an internal cleansing of the dhatu’s (tissues) and srotas (body channels). The practices include: neti (nasal cleansing), dhauti (cleansing of the body through washing and vomiting), vasti (enema), trataka (candle gazing), nauli (intestinal wash) and kapalabhati (a breath for “skull shining”).

Yama and niyama are, in my humble opinion, the two most important steps in a yoga practice, and the ones most often forgotten. If we are not living right livelihood, containing our energy appropriately, being distracted by our actions in the world, etc., we will be restless. Our mental time will be spent evaluating and examining ours and others actions. Yoga practice really begins with conscious thought to Yama and Niyama. (Note: there was an article on the Yama and Niyama two issues past.) I find students enjoy the inclusion of different aspects and techniques of yoga. More important is for me to enjoy, benefit and understand the practice. Once I “get” the practice, the inclusion in class comes from my personal experience, not a surface or book knowledge of the technique. Try them . . . you may enjoy the results.

This article was first published in 2010 by Hansa Knox and is still relevant today.

Yoga Beyond the Mat: Yamas and Niyamas

Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras start with saying, “Now, the study of yoga. ” Does that just translate as today, in the moment the yoga teachings are relevant? I feel he wrote “Now” for a more auspicious reason.

In the older traditions, a student went to a teacher to study yoga. The teacher had the student do seva (serving in the household), studying and learning the basic practices of right life. As an example, a friend of mine, Indukanta was studying flute in India. Her teacher often has students play one note for a year before he teaches them the next note! Some students of yoga practiced for years, purifying, cleansing and preparing themselves before they were allowed the privilege of, “Now, the study of yoga.,, Today, some begin asana without even a consciousness of the “living everyday life” practices. Yoga has become a tool for the manipulation of the body. Historically, it was a tool to support our gross life into living earthly life as a Spiritual Being. It is never too late to begin integrating the yogic practices into life transforming moments. The practices are summarized by Pantajali in the second Sutra, as Yama and Niyama.

The yama consist of Ahimsa – non-violence, Satya – truthfulness, Asteya – non-stealing, Aparigraha – non-desire and Brahmacharya – moderation. Niyama include the qualities of- Saucha – purification, Santosha – contentment, Tapas – discipline, Svadyaya – self study and Ishvara Pranidhana – surrender to God.

Sounds pretty basic. Let’s look again. Take an inventory of the following questions.

Ahimsa – non -violence. Did you hurt anyone today? Did you possibly say something that hurt someone’s feelings? Did you sit silent instead of responding to a question? Is the subtle violence any less violating than overt violence?

Satya – truthfulness. Did you tell a white lie to protect someone’s feelings? Did you put on a pretense, afraid to let someone know who you really are? Do you know the edge of when speaking is better than silence?

Asteya – non-stealing. Do you feel jealous of the belongings of others? Do you show up for appointments on time? Do you honor time boundaries in your life? Do you want more than you have? Do you desire … ?

Aparigraha – non-possessiveness. Aparigraha is not about owning possessions it is about the attitude towards belongings. Is there an area in your life you experience greed? Are you willing to let go possessions — physical, emotional, spiritual? Can you expand to the point of witnessing ownership?

Brahmacharya – moderation. Do you moderate all sense pleasures — eating, drinking, sleeping, dress, connection with others? Have you dropped your compulsion to seek pleasures? Can you find pleasure in the simplicity of Spirit?

Saucha – purification. Are you physically clean, neat and eat a pure diet? Are you in the process of purifying your emotions? Do you associate with company that supports a healthy mental diet? Do you include practices allowing you to be established in your “bliss” body?

Santosha – contentment. Santosha is not about being apathetic, it is living life with a passion, content and full each moment. Do you have gratitude for all you have? Do you learn and appreciate even the unpleasant experiences? Can you let go of preferences and receive life as it presents itself?

Tapas – discipline, being in the transformational fire. Do you keep your commitments, to yourself and to others? Can you disciple yourself to honor a healthy lifestyle, physically, mentally, emotionally and Spiritually? Does your breathing slow down, allowing you to breathe life, moment by moment? Have you found your self- creative consciousness?

Svadyaya – self study . Do you study the scriptures and apply them as analogy for living? Do you use your asana practice as insights for how you live your daily life? Can you be in objective self observation? Do you live in a balance with life energy?

Ishvara Pranidhana – surrender to God. Do you love God/Self? Are you willing to allow daily activities to be love manifest? Are you willing to dwell on the Beloved? Do ever feel absorbed in the Beloved?

These precepts are not unknown in other traditions. The Ten Commandments and the Ten Virtues from the Buddhist tradition represent the same concepts. We all must learn that more important than flexibility of the body, flexibility of Spirit reigns. Do you live a life of loving kindness? Do you practice living Yama and Niyama?

Consider exploring the yama and niyama. Choose one a week for the next ten weeks. Daily focus, practice and reflect on the yama or niyama. See how the practice and awareness will make a difference — first within yourself and then watch it overflow into your relationship with others.

Namasté

This article was first published in 2009 by Hansa Knox and is still relevant today.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Samadhi Pada Portion on Contemplation

I.1. ATHA YOGANUSASANAM

ATHA – now
YOGA – yoga
ANUSASANAM – instruction

Now begins the instruction of Yoga.

 

I.2. YOGAS CITTA VRTTI NIRODHAH

YOGAS – yoga
CITTA – sum total of the mind, consciousness
VRTTY – fluctuations
NIRODHAH – control

Yoga is the control of the fluctuations of the mind.

 

For many of us, when we think of Yoga, we think of the physical postures. While the physical practice of Yoga will bring you many benefits, it can also be viewed as a means toward a better capability to control the mind, moving toward a feeling of oneness with the universe.

I.3. TADA DRASTUH SVARUPE AVASTHANAM

TADA – then
DRASTUH – the Seer
SVARUPE – in its true nature
AVASTHANAM – abides

Then the Seer abides in His true nature.

 

As the fluctuations of the mind are quieted, one can then begin to experience her true nature. If you have a jar filled with water with a little mud in it, it is only when the jar remains still for a period of time that you can see clearly through the water. Likewise, we use breath, awareness and receptivity in our physical practice of Yoga to clear our minds, letting some of the “mud” settle. Then, our true nature can be experienced.

I.4. VRTTI SARUPYAM ITARATRA

 

VRTTI – fluctuations
SARUPYAM – identifies
ITARATRA – otherwise

Otherwise we identify with the fluctuations of the mind.

 

Once we identify with these fluctuations, then we lose our true Self and become blind to the one unchanging consciousness.

I.5. VRTTAYAH PANCATAYYAH KLISTA AKLISTAH

 

VRTTAYAH – fluctuations
PANCATAYYAH – five kinds
KLISTA – painful, distressing
AKLISTAH – not painful, not distressing

There are five kinds of mental fluctuations, which are either painful, distressing or not painful, distressing.

 

Each of the five fluctuations can fall within these two broad categories and they can change with time. On the whole, selfish thoughts bring pain, while selfless thoughts bring peace.

I.6. PRAMANA VIPARYAYA VIKALPA NIDRA SMRTAYAH

 

PRAMANA – correct knowledge
VIPARYAYA – misconception
VIKALPA – delusion
NIDRA – sleep
SMRTAYAH – memory

These are correct knowledge, misconception, delusion, sleep and memory.

 

These are the five types of “vrittis” or fluctuations and they will be explained in the next five sutras.

Namasté

 

This article first appeared in 2009.