Give up the cocoon and know you are a butterfly

We all, knowingly or unknowingly, are searching for lasting peace and happiness in our lives. The instinct of finding peace and happiness is inherent in all sentient beings, we humans are no different. I mean, who doesn’t want to be happy and peaceful, right?

Just as this search for lasting happiness is inherent to us all, the actual state of lasting happiness is also inherent to all of us. That happiness that we are looking for is at the core of our existence, the core that is understood as the ‘spirit’ (atma). The atma is the base, the ‘Being’ within the human form. It is as fundamental to our existence as an apple is to an apple pie. If this happiness weren’t so fundamental to our existence, we all wouldn’t be looking for it. Instead, we would be willingly looking for other things like sorrow and suffering. But we don’t do that because sorrow, suffering, dejection, depression and limitation are not core to our fundamental nature.

If this search for happiness is so basic to our existence where does one go looking for it?

Well, it is not difficult to find happiness these days, especially when sensory stimulation and excitement is viewed as happiness. Eating a sumptuous meal, watching a favorite movie with loved ones or even getting more than expected ‘likes’ on your Facebook post can give happiness. In all fairness, such experiences of happiness are valid but it is seen that they do not last, prompting an urge to repeat or duplicate those experiences. Life then becomes a constant pursuit of seeking excitement and even a moment’s pause generates a wave of anxiety of missing out on happiness that is somewhere out there.

The search for happiness can venture in two directions, finding happiness outwardly, known as Bhoga and/or finding happiness inwardly, known as Yoga. When one stops looking for happiness and peace that is derived from external sources and focuses the search inward, it is then that one truly starts practicing Yoga and becomes a Yogi.

The modern discourse on Yoga is fractured into two. Yoga is either seen as a practice of becoming physically fit by doing some physical movements or Yoga is considered as a practice of breath work and relaxation leading to meditation. Though both these views are correct in themselves, yet they do not individually convey the entirety of what Yoga truly is. Especially, keeping in mind the overemphasis that modern Yoga lays on physical practice it has become more than important to set the discourse straight in relation to what Yoga truly is in its traditional, broader sense.

Yoga is not entirely a physical or relaxation practice but an extensive philosophy and methodology of orienting life to become the best that one can be. This “best” as understood in traditional Yogic understanding is not a stage (out there) of being highest-strongest-fastest-longest but  a state (in here) of undisturbed peace and happiness which is reached through dedicated self-work and letting go off all that opposes inner peace. The nature of this state is undisturbed inner calm, self-empowerment and a broader perception of the self and the world.

The positive assurance of Yoga is that the state of inner happiness is not something that we gain from outside but is the very core of our Being that one discovers by practicing Yoga. We are all, in the heart of our hearts, Love, Freedom and Peace, this being the promise of Yoga.

The journey of Yoga is our voyage through stormy seas of life to discover an inner island of peace and calm. This voyage is guided by the light house of steady practice and faith only to come home to the island of True Self that thrives as a sanctuary of lasting peace and happiness.

As the Bhagavad Gita says, Yoga is a journey of the self into the self by the self. It’s the process of discovering the best that you are. The product of this process is starkly different to what goes into the process at the start. Like the larva that becomes a butterfly is the same individual, yet is completely different in its shape, size, color and capability, the journey of Yoga too metamorphosizes a new you out of you.

This metamorphosis requires hard work, focused attention, faith and divine grace. Like the hungry larva that eats many times its body weight, the practicing Yogi too has to consume spiritual nutrition from the right sources. Like the larva that becomes still to allow the process to work internally, the practicing Yogi too has to cut down on external distractions and become still within. Like the transformed larva that uses its own inner strength to tear down the bondage that it had spun around itself, the practicing Yogi too has to be strong and knock down all the tendencies that keep her limited.

Such is the process of Yogic metamorphosis. Are you ready to be centered and still? Are you ready to tear away what you are not? Are you ready to open your wings and fly? Are you ready to give up your cocoon and know you are a butterfly?

Don’t let your ideas stop your journey. 
Don’t let your fears stop your discovery. 
Don’t let your mistakes deter you because the only way out is through.
Your limitations are not the end, 
they are the challenges you have to transcend. 
With wings of Faith prepare to Fly. 
Give up the cocoon and know you are a Butterfly...

What does it take to be a Yoga Teacher ?

So, what does it take to be a Yoga Teacher ?
– Knowledge of anatomy ?
– Expertise at headstand ?
– Hyper-flexibility ?
– Yoga Alliance accredition ?
– Repeated visits to India ?
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What if I said none of the above ?
Yes, the points in the list are optional but not core to becoming a Yoga Teacher. They are the feathers in a cap, but the cap per se is made of something completely different.
.
To become a Yoga Teacher one must know how to be a Yoga Student. The Yoga Student has to have some essential qualities, which have nothing to do with the list above. A true Yoga Student is,
– Sincerely Disciplined & Committed to Sadhana.
– Never doubts the process of Yoga.
– Is humble, considerate and energetic.
– Understands Yoga as a pursuit of Self mastery and not Asana.
– Honours the culture and living tradition of Yoga.
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Only when the Yoga Student has a well rounded approach to the process and practice of Yoga he/she can be an efficient channel of transmission and inspiration. .
A Yoga Teacher then is nothing but a living inspiration, a reflection of what the practice and faith has become.
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Do You, as a Yoga Teacher see yourself as a Yoga Student ?

Transformational Power of Yoga

 

“Looking at the way Yoga has been embraced by the world in the last decade or so, one can safely say that Yoga has arrived. Modern world has definitely realized the benefits of Yoga. Yoga is here and here to stay.”

Article in Prana Magazine (Denmark) - click to view larger version.

(Click the image to view a larger version)

The following is a translation of the article published in Yoga Magazine of Denmark in December 2014.

Looking at the way Yoga has been embraced by the world in the last decade or so, one can safely say that Yoga has arrived. Modern world has definitely realized the benefits of Yoga. Yoga is here and here to stay. But, when we think of Yoga, immediately an image of a bendy person doing some sort of a body contortion comes to our mind. Modern world has been presented the idea of Yoga as physical exercise. Is Yoga only about stretching muscles and moving into seemingly elastic body manipulations? In this article, let us try to understand Yoga as something more than just a “class” and open ourselves to the deeper understanding of the holistic, life transforming benefits of Yoga.

Traditionally, Yoga is understood as “Moksha Shastra” or the science of liberation. Moksha commonly means “liberation”, but one needs to understand Moksha in its deeper sense. Moksha, is not any mundane liberation but is the fundamental liberation from our erroneous perceptions of ourselves. In its original sense, Yoga is the science of total mind-body transformation that releases us from the limiting perception and experience of ourselves and the world. It would not be wrong to call Yoga the philosophy and technique of correcting our own understanding and experience of ourselves.

But, is there a need for such liberation? I mean, ask yourself, how many times have we decided to do something only to be stopped by self-doubt. How many times have we vouched to be calm only to be disturbed by a wave of anger that seemingly comes out of nowhere. How many times have we suffered under bouts of repeated self-denial, guilt, regret and “poor me” syndrome. These issues have an effect on our body, posture, breath, relationships and life in turn. Yoga is a holistic science that includes all aspects of our life. Practicing Yoga in its entirety and not just as postures eases the pressures of the physical-mental (psycho-somatic) ups and downs generating a lasting sense of peace.

The Rishis or the spiritual scientists of ancient India realized that we humans do not really live with total efficiency and effectiveness. Our day to day life is compromised by limiting psycho-somatic tendencies that restrict our thoughts and actions. Once these limiting factors are transformed and eventually over powered we can live as something very profound and peaceful that we all are. This “something very profound” is known as the True Self (Atman/Shiva in philosophical sense). Simply put, the True Self can be understood as our human potential operating in an unrestricted, optimized, peaceful and loving manner. Liberation from limiting psycho-somatic tendencies that restricts our optimum potential is known as Moksha and the set of practices that help us in facilitating the liberation is called Yoga.

Thus, Yoga is much wider than a mere practice of physical contortions (asana). It is a way of living consciously, working on our limitations and allowing life to unfold the optimum potential within us all. Yoga is not just about physical exercise or a class but it is living a life of conscious transformation. Let us look at some ways in which we can consciously practice Yoga in its holistic sense and make Yoga a self-transformation process.

The process of Yoga: The objective of Yoga is to refine the body-mind complex. Since between mind and body the variable of body is grosser, more physical, we start the transformation process with the body. Yoga essentially believes that mind and body are two sides of the same coin. The body is gross of mind and mind is the subtle of the body. Whatever effects the mind will have its effect on the body and vice versa. This is why we start the transformation process via the body as it is more accessible of the two. The physical posture (asana) practice is just one part of the Yoga process.

Why do we do asana in Yoga: Traditional Yoga schools did not look at asana as flexibility training but as a method of generating self-awareness and energy alignment. Deepening of self-awareness is facilitated by making the asana practice more conscious and mindful. Such conscious, inward focus is cultivated by focusing the awareness on body sensations, breath, emotional sensitivity and through visualizations. A mindful asana practice generates self-awareness and mental stillness, bringing the mind and its movements under observation and a fairly conscious grasp. This is when the deeper work of refining the mind and emotions can start. Thus, a gentle, mindful asana practice can, over a period of time, generate increased self-awareness and slow down the restless mind which is usually responsible for stress, exhaustions and a number of mind-body ailments. A life lived with self-awareness makes the practitioner feel more alive, participative and integrated in the process of life.

Breath is the key: According to yoga scriptures, mind and breath are closely linked. It is said that the mind rides on the horse of breath. When the mind is relaxed, the breath is balanced and effortless. When the mind is agitated, the breath is imbalanced and effortful. Modern life, with its stress and speed has resulted in a hyperactive, buzzing mind. This hyperactive mind keeps us in an excitatory state which leads to a fast, shallow and confused respiratory rhythm. Such respiratory rhythm in turn leads to an agitated mind. This is how the cycle goes on, unnoticed for our whole life.

The technique of breath modulation is called Pranayama and is very useful to calm down the mind. Pranayama has not caught up with the modern Yoga enthusiasts as much as asana. Yet, one cannot rule out its importance. In fact a regular practice of Pranayama has shown to generate a sense of wellbeing, cultivate deep relaxation and increase lung capacity. But the most important benefit of Pranayama is that it makes us more aware of ourselves. It literally creates more space between two moments and allows us to consciously exercise the “choice” that we all have and that every moment encloses within itself. Pranayama practice in Yoga is a slow, gentle practice that makes us more conscious of our breathing which is otherwise usually automatic. When a person is conscious of the breath and is able to modulate it in the right time, the automatic, impulsive thoughts can be reined in. In times of conflict, when the mind and speech fires like a machine gun, one, single conscious breath can create space and give us the moment to choose our action carefully. When choice is exercised in such a way, escalation of conflicts and worries can be avoided. Sometimes all you need to create peace in life is conscious awareness and one relaxed breath. Gradually every single breath, taken consciously, calms down the mind and promotes a reflective life rather than a reactive life.

Relaxation: Yoga practices like Shavasana, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra and Meditation can provide innumerable relaxation benefits. Modern society needs to learn to relax. It is with a sense of urgency that we all ought to understand our mind-body system’s vital need for relaxation. Relaxation, not in the sense of getting enough sleep or resting on a sofa, rather, relaxation emerging from a deep knowing that there is no hurry, there is no need to prove anything to anyone and that it will all be fine eventually. Many of us complain of tiredness, exhaustion and mental fatigue compromising our efficiency. Unless we take the time to relax, our lives will continue to be driven by pursuits that lead to nothing but increased nervous exhaustion. One of the best ways of relaxing is a general slowing down of activities through the day. Unless we slow down, we are too caught up in life’s pace to even know where we are going. Slowing down give us the chance to pause, reflect, prioritize and channel our energies towards the desired goals. Involving more relaxation methodologies in the Yoga practice can create lasting peace of mind that can allow us to reflect on our life and take appropriate steps to slow down life’s pace, enjoy the moment and cherish small joys of life.

Faith and Patience: Last but not the least, each one of us who has been preoccupied with the external world has to one day sit up and take notice of the inner voice. This inner voice is nothing but a deeper, innate instinct of self-refinement (transformation). It is that impulse which is programmed to set us free. Listening to the inner voice will drive us safely and clearly towards self-refinement. Self-refinement happens through patiently experimenting with methods of Yoga and experiencing life consciously and totally. Experimenting means exploring new possibilities and to explore new possibilities we need to be fearless, fearless enough to objectively examine our self and to ascertain what to let go off and what to hold on to. One cannot expect the benefits of Yoga if one is not ready to invest in dedicated and diligent Sadhana (self-practice). Process of Yoga is not merely a pursuit of fitness but a process of enlivening a steady state of peace and contentment. This process of self-transformation is gradual and many a times challenging. But with patience, determination and trust we all can reach the peak of peace and true potential that Yoga promises.

Its time to get back to the Heart of Hatha Yoga.

When a student, who had heard of the foundational history of Hatha Yoga from me, was told in a Teacher Training course that Hatha Yoga was created by smoking sadhus who stand on their heads, I felt it was time to write this blog. Perhaps the modern Yogis could dedicated a little more time to Faith instead of Fascia, Humility instead of Handstand, Bhakti instead of Backbends ?

When a student, who had heard of the foundational history of Hatha Yoga from me, was told in a Teacher Training course that Hatha Yoga was created by smoking sadhus who stand on their heads, I felt it was time to write this blog.

Over the years I have seen some creatively flamboyant “free for alls” written under the topic of Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is a gentle “class” for beginners. Hatha Yoga is a “soft practice” for physically challenged. Hatha Yoga is a “style” of easy physical postures. A system of physical postures founded by Sage Patanjali et al, are just some of the baseless arguments I have heard and seen in the Yoga world over the last decade.

This blog, though not exhaustive, is a short write up to clarify a few things about traditional Hatha Yoga, its origins and its founders.

To start with, Hatha Yoga is NOT just a system of physical manipulations (exercises) but is a extensive spiritual philosophy (which includes practices) based in the quintessential fundamental of spiritual liberation.  It is a moksha shastra itself, the science of fundamental liberation.

Hatha Yoga as a spiritual path came to the forefront around the 9th Cent. A.D. Note: I have mentioned “came to the fore front” and have not used the word “originated,” or “founded”. (I will give the reasons for this in another blog)

The word “Hatha” has been ambiguously translated in modern English translations as “forceful”. Even though the word Hatha (pronounced as Huth) in English is translated as “forceful” it should not be viewed as effortful and compelled. In fact none of the traditional Hatha Yoga scriptures have even a single line in them that suggests that the Hatha yoga path is forceful. The word “Hatha” is never used in Hatha Yoga texts to refer to violent means or forceful effort. In fact, Hatha Pradipika warns the Yogic practitioner against being impatient and forceful. The word actually means and conveys strong determination, directed will and intense self effort in order to facilitate the mergence (samarasa) of Individual and Universal consciousness. Even today, in many local Indian languages, when a child throws a tantrum he is said to be doing “Hatha/Huth“. Thus, it does not convey pain but signifies intense longing. Hatha also has another meaning, a metaphysical one. Hatha is the result of the union of two syllables “Ha” which signifies the solar energy and “Tha” which signifies the lunar energy. The Sun is known by the syllable “Ha” and the moon by the syllable “Tha”, the active and passive energies of our Being.

Owing to the union of the sun and moon, Hathayoga is named thus. – Yoga Bija

The meaning of Ha-Tha is the union of two spiritual energetic forces which are the constituents of our materialized Being. The name itself makes one aware of the goal of Hatha Yoga. The ordinary human appears to be imprisoned in the complex of psycho spiritual embodiment, limited by the dualities of life. The goal of Hatha Yoga is to see (experience) the unity in diversity, the essential One-ness in the duality and to manifest the union of Jiva and Shiva. Thus, Hatha Yoga is neither a “class,” a “style,” nor a “sequence” of asanas, it is an extensive science of spiritual liberation.

The founder of this system is Mahayogi Matsyendranath who received the doctrine of Hatha Yoga from Lord Shiva himself.  Matsyendranath passed on the doctrine to his disciple Mahayogi  Gorakhnath (Gorakshanath). Gorakhnath is instrumental in propagation of Hatha Yoga science in the recent times. Just as Ramakrishna had Vivekananda, Yukteshwar had Yogananada in the same fashion Matsyendra found in Gorakh the spirit, motivation, devotion and faith to bring Hatha Yoga to the masses. Lord Shiva is considered to be the source of both, Hatha Vidya (Wisdom of Hatha) and Natha lineage. He is invoked as Adinatha (Primordial Lord). Guru Dattatreya is considered as the facilitator who blessed Matsyendra and Gorakh as they went about awakening the masses with this venerable psycho-spiritual science.

The founders of Hatha Yoga science through the lineage of Adinath (Shiva), Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath are known as Nathas. The word Natha has two primary meanings. First, Natha means Na+Atha, the one which is beginning-less, unborn and primal. In this sense Natha means the immortal principle of Shiva consciousness. It is the lineage and teaching inspired by the One who is the beginning less. So in this sense, the teachings of Hatha Yoga too are beginning less and immortal. Secondly, Natha also means the protector, nurturer and care taker. Shiva is called Adinath the Primal Lord and his followers who spread the wisdom of Hatha Yoga are called the Natha Yogis. Since Natha means protector or nurturer, the path of Hatha Yoga propagated by the Nathas also assures protection and nurturing of those who can offer dedication, surrender and devotion to the path. This is why Yogi Svatmarama mentions in Hatha Pradipika “Hatha is the monastery for those who are afflicted by unlimited suffering and for those who are engaged in different Yogas, Hatha is a supporting tortoise”- HYP 1:10.

Traditionally, the lineage of Hatha Yoga propagators is called Natha Sampradaya. Amongst all the Nathas there are 9 who are considered primary inspirations. They are popularly known as Nav-Nathas (nine Nathas). Their names are, Matsyendranath, Gorakhnath, Jaladarinath, Kanifnath, Charpatanath, Nagnath, Bhartrharinath, Revannath and Gahininath. (In some regions of India, depending on the inspirations, few names are interchanged)

The Yoga Siddhas of Natha Tradition are [Note: I have not used the word were] adepts who have reached the heights of spiritual evolution. They have verily become the Absolute Truth and shine forth in the union of Divine purity. They have and they do inspire us by their own spiritual grandeur and love. The main contribution of Natha Siddhas towards humanity is their very presence in the world, among the people beyond class, creed and gender. The main message and purpose of the Nathas is to guide humanity to revolt against the limitedness of mind-body complex. As one scripture says, “Yogis in diverse guises, intent on welfare of humanity, walk on the earth, unrecognized by others” –  Kularnava Tantra – 9:66.

Humanity lurks in bondage and thrives in the notion that life is suffering, the Nathas toiled hard to awaken us to work against this mindset. Saint Dnyaneshwarnath in his beautiful contribution Dnyaneshwari  says “Pinde Pindacha Grasu, to ha Natha sanketicha Danshu” means “Using the body itself to devour the ego of the body is the main principle and teaching of Natha Yogis”.

Nathas have been inspirational in bringing social change over the millennia across India and the world. The Natha Siddhas themselves are at a transcendental stage which is beyond the limited understanding of our human mind. But through Bhakti (devotion), dedication and Sadhana (practice) one can access them by being the message itself. Because of their compassion for all, they manifest again and again amongst us. It is because of such selfless liberated souls and their inspiring work that the fabric of human society is maintained.  When the Indian society was suffocating under the dominance of caste-ism, foreign oppressions and social evils it was the Nathas that went from village to village resurrecting the masses to awaken to their true freedom. The purpose of Hatha Yoga is to awaken ourselves and awaken others. The work of the Nathas is for the greater good of all.

Every human, somewhere deep within, feels the urge of transcending bondage and suffering. But by the axe of societal concepts, cultural presuppositions and peer pressure this urge is prematurely killed. The Nathas tapped into this inner urge of the masses by preaching the equation Jiva = Shiva in the local language of the villagers through songs, poetry and many a times even by awakening a spirit of awe and motivation by using their spiritual powers (siddhis) to convince the people that everyone is capable of tapping into the heights of their own spiritual potential.  Since the purpose of Natha Siddhas was raising the masses they did not get involved in academic controversies, philosophical debates and metaphysical duels (as was popular during that time) to establish their rationale amongst the people. They were not interested in establishing any particular dogma, in fact their work was to release the people from accepted dogmas which were eating the society from within. Their work was to raise faith in the One all mighty which is beyond religion and dogma. In traditional Hatha Yoga and the teachings of Nathas there are no limitations based on caste, creed or gender. Everyone is considered to have the same universal potential within and everyone is inspired to reach it and this is why I deeply feel Hatha Yoga is the path for today’s day and age.

I feel modern yoga world should seek to understand the expansive perspective of traditional Hatha Yoga and approach it with humility and surrender.  Somewhere I feel the physical bit has been passed on to the west but the heart of Hatha Yoga is still missing to be conveyed. Perhaps the modern Yogis could dedicated a little more time to Faith instead of Fascia, Humility instead of Handstand, Bhakti instead of Backbends ? The Heart of traditional yoga is in humility, surrender, dedication and selfless service. Perhaps its time to step back from the “asanification” of Hatha Yoga and  move towards the Heart of this brilliant spiritual science. Adesh!

Mahayogi Gorakhnath
Mahayogi Gorakhnath

 

Chakras Demystified – A Hatha Yoga view

This is the way Kundalini rises and our perception of our self and the world becomes broader, broader to such an extent that everything and everyone is experienced not as separation but consolidation.

Our inherent infinite potential (Kundalini) takes the opportunity to manifest its completeness through the body-mind complex by evolving over life times. In fact, this is the very reason why we have a body and a life. In this context, every material body is a vehicle of pure potential and every life is an opportunity to manifest its fullness. The evolution of this potential happens over stages. The stages through which the Being evolves to its full potential are called Chakras.

The chakras are zones of psycho-spiritual energy which our Being is made up of. The word Chakra is translated as “wheel”, but such a translation misleads us into thinking of chakras as “wheel like structures”. Chakras are not wheel like structures rather the word chakra in Sanskrit literally means “something that whirls” and everything that whirls is not a wheel. It is so named because it is supposed to convey a whirling movement of the psycho-spiritual energy. It also conveys a radiating force field, a region (kshetra) and not just a point in our subtle body.

Hatha Yoga says that the stability and/or instability of the energetic field in our subtle body along the chakras consequently manifests in the gross body. The chakras have an influence on energetic as well as physical body because the chakras are essential subtle structures functioning to collect, use, transform and pass on Prana energy. Our material bodies could not exist without them for they serve as gateways for the flow of energy and life into our physical bodies. This is how the subtle energies of our chakras in the subtle body influence the physiology in our material body. In fact, the physical body can be called as manifestation of the psycho-vital body which includes prana flow and chakras. Every chakra corresponds to a specific aspect of human nature, behavior and development. The chakras vibrate at different levels relative to the awareness (consciousness) of the individual and their ability to integrate with life and this is why the “spin” of chakras differ from person to person. In simple terms the chakras can be defined as “the stages through which perception and experience of one’s own self and others evolve”.

Let’s understand the concept of chakras with one simple analogy. Imagine a couple have a baby boy. Just like all parents, the parents of our little boy too want him to grow up and be a healthy and happy adult who can create a life full of possibilities by harnessing his potential. For this purpose the parents facilitate proper education, diverse experiences, safe upbringing and stable support with love and care in the life of the child. This example, which perhaps exists in every household, is a microscopic representation of how Shiva and Shakti as our parents facilitate our growth and evolution towards our full potential. To evolve towards our True Potential is our swadharma, one’s own duty towards oneself in this life.

The little boy starts his journey through life. Schooling and education form an integral part of his life as he grows up. The little child goes to a kindergarten, primary school, high school, college, university and so on to gain the required knowledge and experience to become what he wants (or his parents want!?!). The boy’s growth over many years through his educational life could be likened to our growth as spiritual beings (jivatma) moving through chakra stages. In every stage of the boy’s education he goes through innumerable experiences and experiments with life to gain happiness. In the same way, we as spiritually beings (jivatma) evolve over life time to experience and manifest the full extent of our potential. Some experiences are bitter, some are sweet, but experiences come and they shape our life and existence. There is no doubt that consciously or unconsciously transformation does happen. Just like the boy, we, as spiritual students are admitted to the school of life the moment we are born because our potential (Kundalini) as spiritual beings is limited and not yet fully harnessed. The education of our boy through the six stages of schooling namely, early, primary, secondary, higher, master’s level and doctorate studies could be likened to the evolution of human beings through six stages of chakras in the school of life.

IMG_0970 - Copy

 

We go through life weaving the warp and weft of mistakes and success to shape our life into a fabric of pure love, permanent freedom and unending bliss. This love, freedom and bliss is the full expanse of our True Potential (Param Shiva). This experience is not a step but the stage from where the Being radiates without the hindrance of any limitation. It is here when the Hatha Yogis say the “Kundalini has united with her Shiva”, meaning, the spiritual being has reached its ultimate pure, true potential. When one starts exploring the bigger dimension of their being by starting to explore the inherent potential (Kundalini), the Kundalini awakens and starts moving through the various levels (chakra). This is called evolution of the Kundalini along the chakras. This is the way Kundalini rises and our perception of our self and the world becomes broader, broader to such an extent that everything and everyone is experienced not as separation but consolidation.

Titibhasana

Titibhasana
Titibhasana

Titibhasana

Step-by-step

Start in a squatting position in which your stance less than the distance between your shoulders. Lower your trunk onto the legs, move the pelvis to the front. Now slowly straighten your legs, raise the pelvis up to knee height.
Move the left upper arm and shoulder away from the posterior left thigh above the knee, and rest the left hand flat on the ground, on the outside of the foot. Repeat on the right side.
Now slowly raise yourself. Push your hands into the ground, move your weight backwards. The inner thighs should be placed as high as possible.
Inhale and stretch and straighten the legs on the sides so that your pelvis remains in a high position and legs aligned parallel to the ground.
Lengthen your arms and raise your torso upwards by widening your shoulder blades apart.
Look ahead, and stay in the position for about 10 seconds or as much as your body allows you to, and then come out of the asana by exhaling and returning your feet to the ground.

Benefits

Stretches the back torso and inner groins.
Provides strength to the arms and wrists.
Tones and tightens the belly.
Enhances the overall sense of balance.
Calms the mind by relieving from tension, stress and anxiety.
Strengthens the wrist

Hanumanasana

Hanumanasana
Hanumanasana

Hanumanasana
This posture is dedicated to the Monkey God Hanuman, who is an epitome of strength of surrender. Physically this posture is an intense stretch of the thigh area.

Step-by-step

Kneel on the floor. Extend your right leg forward and bend your torso with an exhale so that both your hands are on the floor.
Slowly start sliding your right foot forward. As the front leg straightens, resume pressing the left knee back, and carefully descend the front of the left thigh and the back of the right leg (and the base of the pelvis) to the floor. Make sure the center of the right knee points directly up toward the ceiling.
Please make sure that the back leg does not extend to the side back. Extend the front leg by keeping it active and engaged.
If the hip doesn’t reach the floor then hold your body weight on your hands. If it reaches the floor join the hands together in prayer position.
Hold the position for 30 seconds to one minute depending on your comfort level. To come out, press your hands to the floor, turn the front leg out slightly, and slowly return the front heel and the back knee to their starting positions. Then reverse the legs and repeat for the same length of time.

Vashishthasana

Vashishthasana
Vashishthasana

Vashishthasana (‘side plank posture’), is a powerful arm balance posture. The name is dedicated to the wisest sage of Yoga.

Step-by-step

Start in the adho mukha svanasana (‘downward dog’) and lengthen your arms and your legs.
Lower your hips and shift your weight forward to come into the start of push up posture. Keep your feet together and balance the body.Press your weight down through your right hand and forearm.
Roll your body to the right, balancing on the outer edge of your right foot.
Place your left foot on top of your right foot and keep your legs straight.
Extend your left arm towards the sky and look at your left hand by turning your head.
Do not let your hip drop, hold your body in a straight line. Beginners can take support of the left leg by placing the left knee on the floor. Hold for up to 30 seconds.
Exhale as you slowly return to Plank Pose, then into Downward-Facing Dog.
Repeat on the opposite side.
After both sides, rest in child posture.

Benefits

(Note: It is important to ensure you are performing the pose with correct alignment.)
The posture is strengthener of your wrists, forearms, shoulders, and spine.
It works on tight hip area and opens the hips and hamstrings. It helps improve balancing ability and concentration.
It also allows strengthening of abdominals for venturing into advanced arm balance postures.

Paripurna Navasana

Paripurna Navasana
Paripurna Navasana

Paripurna Navasana

Step-by-step

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. See to it that you sit on the seat bones with an erect spine. If your spine does not get erect because of tightness in the lower or upper back, then bend your knees slightly to remove the pressure from your lower back.
Now, lean back slightly, around 30-40 degrees and as you lean back focus and engage your abdominal muscles.
Gently lift the legs up with an exhale, and lengthen your spine and tail bone. Extend your arms till they are parallel to the floor and in direction of your feet, keeping the chin parallel to the floor and breath normally.
If the above is not possible, try it by placing the hands on the floor next to your upper thighs and raising the legs by pressing the palms into the floor.
Retain the posture for 10-15 seconds and gradually increase the time to one minute.

Benefits
Strengthens the abdomen, thighs, lower back and shoulder area
Improves digestion by stimulating the digestive tract.
Corrects postural alignment.

Vrikshasana

Vrikshasana

Vrikshasana – Tree Posture

Step-by-step
Stand erect with the feet together firmly placed on the floor and the arms by your sides.
Balancing on the left foot, bend the right leg at the knee, raise the right thigh and bring the sole of the right foot as high up the inside of the left thigh as possible.
Raise both arms over the head keeping the elbows straight and joining the palms together.
Hold the posture while breathing gently through the nostrils for about 10 complete deep breaths.
Lower the arms and right leg and return to the neutral standing position with feet together and arms at the sides.
Pause for a few moments and repeat on the opposite leg.

Benefits
This is essentially a balance posture. Poor balance is often the result of a restless mind or distracted attention.
Regular practice of this posture will help focus the mind, cultivate concentration and improve balance and coordination.
It also builds strength in thighs and lower back.