Monday, August 31, 2009

Yoga and Vacations. It's not about the pose.

The body is merely a vehicle. Yoga is not about making a "beautiful body" for yourself (although it does do just that quite nicely!)

So, if it's not about the pose - then what is "IT" about?

Here's an analogy to help answer the question - It's the same as a "vacation."

The vacation isn't about what car you drove to get there -or - what airplane you flew. The vacation is about something else besides the vehicle that brought you to your destination.

In fact, it's not even about the destination. Because every vacation is different. Some are in the tropics, some are in the mountains, etc.

So - if Yoga is NOT about the pose -and it's not about where the pose TAKES you- then what is IT about?

It's about the EXPERIENCE - your experience - Period!

It's about your experience of getting into the car (pose). It's about your experience of traveling to your destination (your inner-Self) - AND - it's about your experience once you're there.

This is what it's about - the experience of living - of going deeply into that experience, and returning to share it with others who desire a similar experience - a similary journey.

Need a vacation? Go practice yoga - and experience the joy of living fully now.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Ultimate Freedom -

The Sanskrit word for ultimate freedom is "Kaivalya."

According to the Yoga Sutras of Panajali, true and complete freedom is experienced when a person is no longer imprisoned by the five afflictions (klesas) common to all of humanity. These afflictions are: ignorance, ego, desire, aversion and fear of death.

The Sutras of Patanjali also lays out a crystal clear path towards achieving this ultimate freedom.

Verse 1:12 reads: "Abhayasa Vairagyabhyam Tanniroddah"

This roughly translates as "...constant and dedicated practice, extinguishes the obstacles to freedom."

Constant and dedicated practice? Constant and dedicated practice of what?!?

So here's the rub - we have to constantly practice these five things:

Recognizing that we are ignorant - that we don't know. This keeps us humble and inquiring.

Surrendering our ego. This keeps us right-sized.

Letting go of our insatiable desire. This give us serenity and peace of mind.

Experiencing the uncomfortable and painful. This gives us stregnth and endurance as we courageously face the distasteful and unpleasant situations and events in our world.

Accepting death as our inevitable and ever-approaching birthright. This gives us clarity in the moment as our end may come at any time.

Ultimate freedom means that nothing has power over me - nothing has control or "hold" of me. I am thus totally free to express my deepest creative self. I am not moved by fear, worry or doubt, anger, lust, pride, greed, etc.

Through constant practice ultimate freedom can be achieved - yet we must practice.

Om shanti shanti peace

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hold the pose - longer - longer

Why do we hold the pose in our asana practice? Because it takes time to get still and go within. The yoga sutras say "Sthira Sukham Asananam" - Sthira means firm, unmoving, immobile. Sukham means happiness, joy, delight.

Thus, it is by holding the pose - being still in the asana that we can find the inner joy and happiness that exists. That is the only place it exists. Wait for it. Hold the pose a little longer. Move through the aches and pains and itches and twitches that have us come out of the pose a moment too soon - the moment before the miracle happens.

Hold the pose.

Namaskar - Jim