- Yamas: self restraint, vows of abstension, control
- Ahimsa: Non-Violence
- Satya: Truthfulness, Honesty
- Asteya: Non-stealing, or Non-misappropriating
- Brahmacharya: Chastity, Continence
- Aparigraha: Without possessions
- Niyamas: fixed observation, rules, precepts established orders
- Saucha: Cleanliness, Purity
- Santosha: Contentment, Peaceful
- Tapah: Fire of Ordeal, A Burning Desire
- Svadhyaya: Study leading to knowledge of self
- Ishvara-Pranidhana: God or Higher Self the target of concentration, surrender
- Asana: posture comfortably held, seat
- Pranayama: regulation of breath, restraint of breath
- Pratyahara: withdrawal of senses
- Dharana: concentration, fixing of the mind (mono-task, stay present)
- Dhyana: meditation, contemplation, reflection
- Samadhi: profound meditation, putting it all together
I love this definition of “believer.” People seem to be so skewed today about “right” and “wrong” and “my religion” and “your religion.” As long as we’re all believers as this article defines it, we are all the same.
It’s a simple question: Are you believer? However the answer may not be so simple. To answer this it may be better to first answer the question: What do you mean by “belief”?
I read this article in Yoga Journal and it made me want to share it. We all strive for happiness in life, so we can all take away something from this article.
The place to start harnessing your power to determine your destiny, to achieve any intention as well as lasting fulfillment, is your own mind. According to the Vedic tradition, the most profound way to affect the course of your life is by harnessing the power of resolution or intention, which in Sanskrit is called sankalpa.
Picture: from the article: Seven habits of highly happy people.
Article: Yoga Journal, author: Rod Stryker
The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for your dreams,
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
I want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal,
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless,
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty,
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.
Here are 32 suggestions on where to place the attention and create the right environment for the magic limb to show up in our lives:
1.- Pranayama beings with noticing. Every time you remember, pay attention to how you are breathing, do not judge, just notice.
2.- Understand what it is. Prana = life force, ayama = extension. Or, prana can also be breath.
Prana is whatever you understand and name that which is keeping you alive right now, your breath, your life force and how we get more of that.
3.- The main purpose of pranayama is to extend life, so we can have those full 100 years and work at our practice for a very long time. Having a longer life is useful in practicing breath extension and with having a better chance at accomplishing or rather, experiencing the other limbs of yoga, the ones that come afterwards, which require a very long time.
4.- Then to teach us slowly, how to extend our breath, and retain it and master it.
5.- The purpose of pranayama is also to remove lethargic tendencies -or tamas-. Pranayama wakes us up and is especially useful for those of us who practice strenuous asana practices, as in some ashtangis who enjoy their series -yes I mean me-.
6.- Then to make us bright and clear in mind. As a consequence be become more clear in our thinking. Also when both nostrils are active both parts of the brain are stimulated which provides a better ability for concentration.
7.- Then to help us focus. A clear mind can withdraw into itself and focus on just one thing, which is the way of the eight limbs of yoga.
8.- Then to aid in the limbs of yoga that follow proper breathing (pratyahara, focusing, merging with the object we focus on)
9.- Notice how the way in which your spine is erected, or not, affects the way you breathe. Change your sitting position or standing position and pay attention to the interrelation of it and the breath.
10.- What nostril is most active right now? How about as soon as you wake up? How about when you wake up in the middle of the night?
11.-If one of the nostrils is blocked see if you can activate it so that both will be flowing by placing a yoga block or a small pillow under the opposite armpit and pressing the arm firmly. Did it work? If not, try laying down on the opposite side of the blocked nostril. Did that open it up? Notice what works.
12.- Is there a difference on how you feel when both nostrils are open together than when just one is open? and if so what are the differences?
13.- When you are agitated or mad, what happens to your breath?
14.- When the breath is shallow and short how do you feel? Observe especially when you feel agitated emotionally.
15.- How is your breathing when you are sick? I tend to do puffs of forced exhalations.
16.- Does your breathing change when you take a bath? I tend to yawn and breathe deeper.
17.- Take a long smooth and slow breath. How long did that take? in seconds? in heart-beats?
18.- How long can you comfortably retain that breath? in seconds? heart-beats?
19.- Exhale and see how long can you make the exhalation. Write that number down.
20.- Have you tried using a neti pot? Try it and make a note of how it feels. Note that if you regularly practice intense asana (poses) then the use of the pot is not necessary as an every day occurrence. Only when you notice that your nose is stuffed.
21.- On your next asana practice pay full attention to the breath, is it reaching every single cell in your body? If not notice the blockages, work to open. Become very aware of how the breath interacts with the pose. Breathe in and lengthen, breathe out and reach.
22.- Do you avoid breathing when you walk on the street near something you consider may smell bad? Are there other moments when you almost unconsciously breathe less to avoid something? bring it all to light, notice it.
23.- Clean your tongue with a tongue-scrapper in the morning. It will change your life to notice what gets stuck there, and you may enhance your sense of smell.
24.- Listen to Richard Freeman’s Yoga Breathing
25.- Try a pranamaya preparation exercise like kapalbhati and begin building the number of expulsions you can do per minute. Rejoice in how your mind gets clear after each round. Think quality, not quantity.
26.- Then practice a basic exercise called nadi shodana, which is safe and can help you calm the mind.
27.- Read about pranayama in the HathaPradipika, this is the commetnary that Srivatsa Ramaswami (a student of Krishnamacharya for 30 years) recommends. It has a lot of Sanskrit on the first part. However, if you are more into the “more English” camp, this is the one I read.
28.- If you would like to take a pranayama retreat here are some suggestions:
In Asia there is Paul Dallaghan.
In North America we have Ramaswami, who studied directly with Krishnamacharya and recently in his Facebook page said: “I studied with Sri Krishnamacharya for a number of years. I do not remember a single yogasana class which did not have a decent dose of pranayama and shanukhimudra (pratyahara) in it and short prayers to begin and end the session”
In India there is O.P. Tiwariji, who is elusive to find as he does not have a website (you will have to google him). He is however offering a pranayama teacher training in Mumbai in November and he is also is teaching with Paul, in October (1st to 14) in Thailand. Blessed are you if you can make it to any of these. He will also be giving short workshops in Paris and Taiwan pretty soon.
There are many teachers, make sure to do your research. Look for quality and lineage.
29.- Read about all eight limbs of yoga so you see where pranayama fits into the map, and the territory.
30.- Begin to investigate the concept of bandhas because they are critical when the retention part starts to happen Do you engage mula bandha during your asana practice (tightening of your anus). Begin experimenting with it if you do not already do so. Get used to it. Learn about Uddhyana and Jalandara bandha. All three bandhas are critical for pranayama practices, especially when they get deeper and they involve retention.
31.- The actual pranayama benefits are reaped through the retention of the breath for longer and longer periods of time. However, the retention has to be done in the proper way, engaging all bandhas, following strict rules, in a right sited position and environment. It takes deep care and dedication, but it all begins with noticing the breath.
32.- Read this book. It is the best I have found, and I have read most.
If you follow these suggestions and begin keeping a diary you will become very familiar with the regular, current patterns of your breath.
You will be in tune, and will become a connoisseur of your own breathing. The deeper your awareness the more prepared you are to go deeper into the fourth limb.
May you be successful on the journey.
I recently dusted off my copy of The Path to Holistic Health by BKS Iyengar and I found this forward about yoga as it relates to fitness. If you’ve been into yoga for a while you know that here in America and most all of the Western side of the world has made yoga into ‘just another exercise’ but it is so much more than that.
“Most types of exercise are competitive. Yoga, although noncompetitive, is nevertheless challenging. The challenge is to one’s own will power. It is a competition between one’s self and one’s body.
Exercise usually involves quick and forceful body movements. It has repeated actions which often lead to exertion, tension, and fatigue. Yoga asanas, on the other hand, involve movements which bring stability to the body, the senses, the mind, the intellect, the consciousness, and finally, to the conscience. The very essence of an asana is steady movement, a process that does not simply end, but finds fulfilment in tranquility.
Most diseases are caused by the fluctuations in the brain and in the behavioral pattern of the body. In yogic practice, the brain is quieted, the senses are stilled, and perceptions are altered, all generating a calm feeling of detachment. With practice, the student of yoga learns to treat the brain as an object and the body as a subject. Energy is diffused from the brain to the other parts of the body. The brain and body then work together and energy is evenly balanced between the two. Yoga is thus termed sarvanga sadhna or “holistic practice.” No other form of exercise so completely involves the mind and self with the body, resulting in all-around development and harmony. Other forms of exercise address only particular parts of the body. Such forms are termed angabhaga sadana or “physical exercise.”
“Unlike other exercises, yoga results in the concentration of immunity cells in areas affected by disease, and thus improves immunity. That is why the ancient sages called yoga a therapeutic as well as a preventive science.” ~The Path to Holistic Health, BKS Iyengar. Pg 42-43
Yoga philosophy states that by simply moving towards a new direction, you are honoring the change that is yet to fully come; as stated in the Yoga Sutras, “Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.”
The changes we seek in our lives will come with a devotion, in any measure, to practicing some aspect of a new behavior.
Change is unknown, and we often cling to old habits because they feel safe. Yet yoga teaches us that change is constant. What first appears to be stillness and constancy in a yoga pose reveals itself to be always shifting, always transforming. The same is true for each of us – while our lives and personalities may seem stable and unchanging, we are actually always unfolding. Yoga teaches us to welcome the inevitability of change, to be curious about where our practice is leading us. When we are open to change, we are better prepared to direct change intentionally.
Expand Your Awareness
Intentional change requires self-awareness. We spend much of our time listening to others, seeking advice, and looking outside ourselves for insight. Yoga teaches us to develop our own insight through careful and compassionate observation. By giving us the opportunity to slow down, yoga helps us recognize what is personally important. A good yoga practice can stir you up, challenge you, and refresh you. What is left, as you settle into savasana or meditation, is clarity. With this clarity, it becomes easy to see what changes will truly enhance your life – and they may not be the kind of changes we habitually pledge in our New Year’s resolutions.
Balancing poses are particularly effective for developing awareness for a simple reason: without awareness and internal intelligence, we fall. To test your internal awareness in your yoga practice, try closing your eyes in a balancing pose (such as tree pose). Instantly, the unconscious processes that were holding you in the pose will reveal themselves. When you stop looking outside yourself for balance, your internal intelligence will rise to the challenge.
Find Your Focus
Yoga develops our ability to follow through on our intentions. Each pose is an opportunity to develop concentration. We direct our effort and attention to simple actions: staying aware of our breath and our body as we hold a pose. Each pose is also an opportunity to develop commitment: we learn not to give up at the first sign of boredom, anxiety, or fatigue.
To achieve true change, focus on the integrity of each action, rather than the outcome you hope to achieve. To find this quality of focus in your yoga practice, choose a standing pose (such as warrior pose) that is challenging but accessible to you. Enter the pose with commitment, but without ambition. Hold the pose as long as you can, without losing the integrity of the pose’s alignment or sacrificing the quality of your breath. End the pose when you feel too uncomfortable or tired to continue, or when you feel a sense of satisfaction and completion. Carry this focus and integrity to every action in your life.
Surrender Your Timeline
Change happens in increments, sometimes large and sometimes achingly small. When we want change to happen instantly, we often give up. Yoga develops the patience to allow change to unfold at its own pace. With time, yoga shows us that small acts, performed consistently, can create profound change over time.
To develop this patience in your yoga practice, enter a pose that directly confronts, and slowly unravels, tension in your body. Choose a pose that challenges your flexibility, but that you can comfortably hold. Relax in the pose and wait. Breathe deeply. Commit to holding the pose for five minutes, or as long as the pose remains comfortable. Notice how the body’s tension unravels slowly, but surely. Practice the same pose daily. As your body adapts to your consistent patience in the pose, your starting point in the pose will change as well. Develop the patience to move towards change slowly and purposefully.
A Practice for Life
Yoga practice is just that – practice for everyday life. Apply these qualities of openness, awareness, focus, and patience to any change that you would like to see in your life. While we cannot control all of life’s many changes, we can act intentionally to shape our lives and experiences. You don’t need an iron will to stick to your New Year’s resolutions – a simple yoga practice is strong enough to guide you, and flexible enough to receive whatever life brings.
Has yoga changed your life? It’s pretty likely, since just about everyone who practices yoga has been touched in some way by its transformative power. Maybe you simply feel better in your body. Perhaps you’ve experienced more profound changes in your life, relationships, and worldview. But because these changes often take place over time, as a part of a subtle and organic process, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about yoga that helps you to live a better life.
Tantra scholar Rod Stryker says that to truly understand why yoga is so transformative, you first have to understand the concept of transformation. The idea that yoga changes you into someone better than the person you were before is something of a misconception. It is more accurate to say that yoga helps you remove the obstacles that obscure who you really are, that it helps you come into a fuller expression of your true nature. We’re not transforming into something we aspire to, we’re transforming into the very thing that we are innately: our best Self.
One way yoga encourages transformation is by helping you to shift patterns you’ve developed over time, patterns that may be unhealthy. When you put your body into a pose that is foreign and you stick with it, you learn how to take a new shape. Taking this new shape with the body can lead you to learn how to take a new shape with the mind. If practiced correctly, yoga asana breaks down the psychological, emotional, physical, energetic, and psychic obstacles that inhibit us from thriving.
Yoga also teaches you how to make better decisions. Everything about practicing yoga involves intention – you set apart time in your day to do it, you move in a specific manner, breathe in a specific way. And when you are mindful and deliberate in your yoga practice, you create the opportunity to become more mindful and deliberate in your life. The people who stick with yoga realize that they make decisions that are more constructive than destructive. “I often tell my students that one of two things will happen after you do yoga for a few years: Either you will begin to change for the better, or you will stop doing yoga” (Stryker).
Perhaps most important, your yoga practice allows you a glimpse of the joyful and free person you can be. Practicing asana shows you that you can accomplish things you never thought you could. At first, we think, “There’s no way I am going to be able to do a Headstand.” And then, in little increments, we start to gain the confidence. And then all of a sudden we can do it. When you’re lying in Savasana at the end of a yoga practice, after you have worked hard and felt thoroughly present and connected to your body, that sense of joy and freedom you experience is an expression of your true nature. Even though it may be fleeting, it shows you what is possible.
For a look at yoga’s amazing healing power, read Julie Peoples-Clark’s story. Her daughter was born with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy as the result of mistakes made by the birthing center, and Julie (mom) fell into a deep depression. She says that yoga saved her life. May her story inspire you to trust in the practice and in the answers that arise from getting to know your own Self.
“The only limitations are those in your head. Everything else is just a technical problem.”~Julie Peoples-Clark
Do you see the beauty in life? No doubt, we have our moments where we stop and say, “Wow, that’s beautiful” but are your eyes (and ears) open to it all the time? Are we desensitized? Do we take the beauty of the world for granted?
In Washington, D.C., at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.
About 4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
- In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
- If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
- Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
- Why do the children seem to have a better “classical ear” than we do? I think children could teach us something about living in the present moment.
With Thanksgiving on my mind I started thinking about what I was thankful for… Truly Thankful. This thought actually started when I got a card from one of my preschoolers parents that said, “Thank you for taking such good care of our little angel and for planning fun activities for the class. We are thankful for you.” In addition to the large smile to my face, my insides were glowing. Telling someone how much they mean to you large or small, in few words or many words, will make their heart smile. To this parent the care of her child is most important and she let the teacher know just how thankful she was. What a novice idea!
To get more Gratitude into your life, use these words daily; grateful, thankful, gift, lucky, fortunate. Realizing and acknowledging all the wonderful things that surround you will make you feel like the richest person in the world.