Saturday, January 24, 2015

Yoga is the vehicle - not the destination

I've been thinking about this theme in my own practice, and also during the classes that I have been offering this week.

Yoga is not the destination - it's the vehicle.  What do I mean by that?

So often we think of Yoga as the end result.  I've even said to myself "When I am finally able to do (enter pose name) then I will have made it."   As if being able to perform a pose was the end result or destination I was seeking.

What I know now more than ever is that Yoga is the vehicle not the destination.  Just like a car is a vehicle that takes you to your destination (i.e., your work, home or vacation spot)

So, if yoga is the vehicle - what or where is my destination?  It's within.   The destination is the deepest places of my heart, my soul, my inner being - a.k.a. - the atman.  

Thus, Yoga is the vehicle that I ride inside!

It's an inner journey to my deepest Self.

Om namah Shivaya

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Meditation - it's not what you think!

I've been meditating more lately. It's good for the mind (and the brain). 

Meditation is not what you think - literally!   In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - they talk about aligning your mind with pure consciousness (something they call "Purusha").

Meditation requires you to do two activities, which are very difficult for most people:

1) Sit still
2) Stay Present

To help one in meditation, it's a good idea to "ask for help" (what a concept!)

In days past, people would ask for help by calling out a chant - and repeating it over and over again. This process of repetition is called - JAPA.  The process of japa is important as it "cuts a new groove" in your old patterns.

One of the oldest chants in the world is from the Rig Veda  (approximately 3,500 years ago).  It's called the Gayatri Mantra and its still chanted today.

It sounds like this: (chanted by Deva Premal) -

The words are as follows:

Om bhoor bhuvah svah 
    (to the supreme essence of everything that permeates of all levels of existence, time & space - 
and that eliminates suffering and embodies happiness)

tat savitur varenyam 
    (to THAT luminous brilliance that is the most virtuous and best for human consciousness)

bhargo devasya dheemahi 
    (Destroy our weaknesses, flaws and defects, so that we may receive in our meditation divine and abundant strength and joy) 

dhiyo yo nah prachodayaat 
    (In order to propel our intellect towards the path of supreme consciousness)

I chant this every day - sometimes out loud - sometimes driving in the car - mostly silently to myself. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The simplest pose can be the one!

We've all seen the pictures of those amazing yoga poses - the poses that look like Cirque du Soleil performers are doing them. Nearly every issue of Yoga Journal has one.  These types of photos are now used to advertise everything from car insurance to bank credit.  Crazy!

These images of "fantastic" yoga poses can be inspiring - but also damaging in a number of ways.  Not the least of which is that it sets a person up for an unrealistic standard and expectation.  

My own experience with practicing yoga is that the simplest of poses can have the most profound effect. Just sitting still is perhaps the most powerful pose that I have performed in some time.   The hard part is being still and that's where the magic happens.  

What if, the next time you rolled out your mat you just took 10 minutes and got as still as you possibly could - either standing, sitting or flat on your back.   This is the practice of yoga. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

After 10 years of practice

What happens after you practice yoga for a period of time?   The pictures below represent a 10 year span for me.  The picture on the left is from 2004.  The picture on the right is from last week (12/31/2014).

What I notice from this is that I'm a little longer, a little more grey, and a little more serene.  

What would have happened if I hadn't kept up my practice for the last 10 years?  No one knows the answer to that question.   But, at 57 years old I hope I can show similar results in the next 10 years.

However, the most important practice is today.  So it's just a good idea to get started when you can.