Yoga is Freedom

Yoga is freedom

I’m often asked the question – “What kind of yoga do you do ? ” You think this would be simple question to answer , right?? It usually tempts me to go deeper than the expected answers of Ashtanga , Vinyasa , Hatha .. Etc and even deeper than the actual types of yoga such as Rajas, Karma , Jnana.. Etc… I ponder whether the person asking the question wants the real answer or are they looking for the style of physical forms I prefer to take while “I do” yoga. I usually answer vaguely and give them the answer I feel they want . A short description of something they have heard of before . What I want to say is FREEDOM I “do yoga” for freedom.
Yoga creates space . Space creates freedom . If yoga is not creating freedom it’s simply not yoga . So what is this freedom I am speaking of ?? Let’s start with freedom in the body . Freedom for the joints to move with ease . Freedom from the bondage of working against tight muscles to take a step , freedom from pain due to misalignment in the body , freedom from compulsion to feed our body foods that will cause harm . Freedom from desiring to completely fill up the belly to feel satisfied, freedom from attachment to foods that in some way bring bring pleasure . Of course this doesn’t mean one can never enjoy a treat from time to time, but freedom from the bondage of needing them . Freedom from carrying around so much weight that it creates daily suffering in the joints ,the heart and the lungs . When people ask me if they can lose weight doing yoga the answer is undoubtedly YES … If you follow the whole practice, not just the parts of it that are comfortable for you . Yoga creates freedom in our bodies which allow us to live within them without unnecessary suffering . Yoga gives us the freedom to balance our physical lives with action and rest . The word Hatha translates to “sun-moon”. The balance of effort and ease . When we lack this balance our lives are full of only effort . What’s the joy in that ?? So many work work work without balancing it with rest . This imbalance disallows the freedom of rest , the time to rest , the space to rest and move and enjoy . Which once again creates unnecessary suffering .
“Unnecessary Suffering ” ??? Well that’s where the mind comes in to play . Yoga creates freedom of the bondage of the mind . It creates awareness of our breath and how I can change the quality of the mind at any time by changing how I’m breathing and what I’m focusing on . It creates awareness of the mind and the nonsense it creates . It teaches us to know the mind so well that we don’t fall victim to its games . We learn to still it , even in the face of a said problem, we can calm the chatter and see clearly . We still the mind and create space between the thoughts . Our untrained monkey mind will keep throwing thoughts at us unless we cultivate awareness of its nonsense . An unattended mind has no space, it has no freedom to move around and see clearly. It’s stuck . It’s so full that it cannot see the problem clearly and begins a major downside which can be difficult to recover from . Yoga is a practice to learn our mind and develop a healthy relationship with it . To see it as it really is. When watched you’ll find it quite humorous. The mind is much like a toddler that cannot sit still and is always desiring something else . Anything other than what is . Our yoga practice settlers us into what is and away from what we wish it were . Where each moment becomes an opportunity to practice being in the moment and accepting the moment precisely the way it is . Each moment is an opportunity to grow and learn . Can we adapt to what is ?? Can we see each moment and each person who crosses our path as a teacher . A teacher who is there to help us grow . With this growth comes tremendous freedom . The freedom of knowing we can handle each moment as it comes . If we stay in the present and meet the moment where it is , without needing the moment to meet us where we are , an amazing freedom arises. It alleviates fear, as fear is simply our feeling of an inability to cope with what “might” happen . When we practice equanimity we also learn the precious and difficult fact that all in human life is impermanent. All except one The Soul . This is a very hard one at times especially with the loss of a loved one . We intellectually know this to be true, but we are human and we love deeply the human form of another . In its highest state our Yoga practice allows us to know the truth of the souls permanence .While we may deeply grieve the loss of our person, we know in the depth of our hearts that they are not gone, just their human form is gone . What freedom that is to know this to be true .
Yoga gives the freedom of not having to judge a person , situation or a thing. Of course I fail at this daily, but that’s why it’s called a practice . Yoga allows me to know that the soul of each is as shiny and bright as the soul of any other . We are all souls simply having a human experience. Each one of our experiences are different , as is the lens we see the world though . What a beautiful freedom to allow others to simply be as they are and where they are . My job is to navigate them with grace knowing that they are exactly where they are supposed to be at this time in their lives . Phew !!!! I don’t have to change them or scream at them until they see the world as I do ! What a beautiful freedom ! In the end Yoga shows me the absolute interconnectedness of all . Yes even those I may not like in their manifested form . It takes away any feeling or interpretation of duality on any level of existence .
As I roll out my mat each day, let me be reminded of what type of yoga “I do”

OM Asato ma sadgamaya
Tomaso am jyotirgamaya
Mrtyorma amrttam gamaya
Om shanti shanti shanti

What is it to live in the state of Yoga ??

If a yogi is the one who lives in a cottage at the bank of a river, then why cannot a turtle be a great yogi, who lives always at the bank of a river? If a yogi is the one who eats very little and only plants, then why cannot a deer be a great yogi? These are not the things that make one a yogi. In fact, even your busdriver can be like Buddha.

Yoga is related to renunciation. What is understood as renunciation is to leave one’s house, give away all posessions and continue life with just a few things you need. The aim of renunciation is to get rid of attachment. When you live with as little as possible, does this automatically take away attachment? On the contrary! Imagine you live on the street with just one blanket, a few dollars and a phone. This is all you have. Now a robber comes and steals your phone, money and rips your blanket. Now you would feel even more devastated because this was all you had!

Non-attachment is not in the more or less you have, it is all about your state of being. You can have a house, car and possessions while at the same time being totally non-attached. We don’t have to escape the external world, the world is full of beauty which has to be enjoyed. We live in a complex society in which effort is needed to sustain and take care of each other.

Real renunciation is when you can use and enjoy material, but accept the impermanence. You use the car, but you don’t treat the car as your child. Of course there still is a distinction between greediness for more and being content with what one has. But the point is that you don’t need to change what you are doing, only the state and awareness you have while you are doing it.

You do yoga so you awaken a lot of energy, so why not to use it! This is why karma yoga (selfless work) is highly practiced in an ashram. The more energy you have, the more you distribute for the upliftment of others. You learn to work from another state of mind.

You perceive the unmanifested in the manifested and are non-attached to your thought patterns which take you away from the moment right now. Fully immersed in the moment, you enjoy every activity with full joy. Losing the mind, there is room for the perception of the wonder in the small things. Losing the mind, you make room for consciousness to flow through you.

Escaping the world you will still fluctuate between joy and sorrow, because it is all within you. But finding the state of yoga, you participate in the world from your heart, and not from your mind.

Hari Om

Purpose of Duality ? There must be a reason we feel separate right ?? Why , what is the value ?

Purpose of duality ?? What is it ? There must be a purpose for us to all feel separate right ?? Why ??
The subject-object relationship is an important concept in yoga and tantra. Most people live in accordance with the subject-object perspective of duality without ever realizing that there is any other way of viewing life. However, in yoga we are very careful about making this distinction, because the ability is there to perceive the unity behind the diversity. Although the yogi understands the absolute truth, he also accepts the relative truth of the subject-object relationship and the purpose for this awareness. If the awareness of duality is common to everybody, it must have some definite purpose; it cannot exist by accident or coincidence. The perception of duality is a stage of evolution, which every individual must pass through on his journey to enlightenment. Of course, this subject-object awareness of duality is also the cause of division, disharmony, unhappiness and sorrow. We are born to experience unity, not separation. That is our birthright and the sooner we realize it the better. For this reason, one has to be very alert about how he views life and interacts with the world. Although yogis understand the mundane experiences in relation to duality, at the same time the transcendental reality is seen and one is never identified or confused with the events of life. In this way, one lives in the world but remains untouched by it. Although people think human birth is for achieving things in the material world, the real purpose of birth as human is to rise above the perception of duality and experience unity. …. or so I believe ✌️

What’s this all about ??

When we begin to see ourselves as a soul having a human experience we can begin to accept all earthly things and experiences without needing for them to be any different than they are . Knowing for a reason, unseen by us at the time, that all is exactly as it should be for us to achieve this growth . We are on this earth to simply experience and grow within .All while greatly respecting The Whole (= that ) When we meet someone and recognize them as an “old soul” what we are saying is that they have wisdom beyond their years . They have somehow learned certain things which have to be experienced in order to learn and we wonder at how they know this. We can clearly see that they “know” it through experience , not through a book, but as though they have had life experiences which are beyond their years ,Our goal as a human is to grow and evolve as a soul . Each circumstance handed to us in our lives has a deeper purpose , each one is an opportunity for soul growth . The pleasant and not so pleasant . All of it is to be experienced with the same “enthusiasm” . There is a lesson and growth to be had in all of it …. and when we get past THIS particular experience there will be another one and another one …. each soul is on its own unique journey, yet we are all connected . Just as we are connected with all else on this earth . What we do affects all the rest . Our actions , our words , our use of the resources provided . It all affects the whole . On an energy level. Our energy blends with all the energy of the matter around us and creates a universal being , universal consciousness , universal love . We are “That ” . We are not separate from “That” but an integral and beautifully unique part of “That” , the whole . We are part of what makes up this divine love, this divine consciousness, we are not separate from that , we are a part of “that” .We are THAT . All matter is made of energy , which all blends together and creates this enormous vibration . All the vibrations, of all the different frequencies , blending together creating the whole . That universal vibration makes the sound OM . Those that are very empathetic experience this universal consciousness , this universal vibration much more deeply and personally than some others do.. Feeling the emotion , pain , joy and general vibration of all the parts with much more awareness . It can be very difficult to navigate this , but as we begin to lift the veils and reveal our true self , it becomes navigable, we begin to see this truth, the whole , in all we do . We recognize “the whole” and how we are affected by it and how we are affecting it . We begin to smile back at human selves when we see our ego and human side leading the dance of life . We most often choose to shift to a better vibration… yet sometimes we choose to stay in it and suffer until we surrender and learn what we need to learn to advance to the next level in our growth . Sometimes we become stuck and it takes great sadness and “ stuckness” to propel ourselves forward . Forward to where we will once again realize and Know , with a capital k , that all this earth stuff is meant to be experienced and not to be attached to .Then we once again progress forward in experiencing the beauty of our existence on earth . Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Hatha Yoga – What is it ?

Hatha Yoga – What is it ???

Something I wrote on the bigger picture of Hatha Yoga . As usual I wrote it without intention of sharing so disregard any typo, grammatical errors .etc…Thought some of you may like to see my viewpoint on the bigger picture of the practice of Hatha Yoga.

Hatha yoga = Physical yoga – Covers all things about our physical life – prepares our bodies and mind for life .

We have built many conveniences in life . These things allow us to live with more physical ease . These are good to have , but attachment to them is not . We have warm water , warm homes, air conditioning, cars, convenient stores, big comfortable beds , etc.. We use these to make life easier and more comfortable , but need to be able to be content without them . Without intention and practice in doing so , we leave our peace and contentment in the power of outside circumstances . Hatha yoga makes our bodies strong, our breath controlled, our minds focused and always aware of the truth. In our practice we condition our bodies and minds for life without suffering . In our asana practice ( physical postures ) we strengthen our bodies and make them more flexible with better mobility . When we practice asana we strive to take our bodies to our edge . Taking as much discomfort as we can handle is where we want to be in our practice to prime our bodies and minds for life without suffering . The mind is weaker than the body . With the practice of handling the physical discomforts in our asana practice we condition the mind as well as the body . Then when life becomes uncomfortable we are prepared and can mentally and physically peacefully experience whatever comes our way . We instinctually know what to do to soothe ourselves and are most often times unaffected . We soon begin ” playing” with the situation and peacefully see it all as a test and challenge of our desire to remain content or even peaceful in adversity . This comes through constant and absolute awareness of our higher self ( soul) and absolute devotion of connecting our soul to God (as we relate to “him”) ( Bhakti Yoga) . Many people cannot find contentment unless things are a “certain way” . The home , the food , the bed , the temperature or the entire situation itself etc… must be a certain way or suffering occurs . Yoga assists in removing this attachment from our lives . Only when these attachments are gone can we experience true peace and contentment . Until then our peace, happiness and contentment are very circumstantial, which is not peace at all . In Hatha yoga we are provided the tools to live peacefully with or without our earthly desires being met . Through asana we make our bodies strong , through pranayama we can control the temperature of the body, the energy in the body and irritations of the mind , through concentration and meditation we can overcome all mental disturbances and learn to be focused and completely present in all that we do . When on this path we will naturally begin to self monitor our behavior to keep our bodies and mind well . For example we will not eat heavily because it will cause us physical and emotional suffering which will in turn affect our ” good work ” meaning our commitments to others , our ability to do our paying job , we will be unwell and cannot care for our children , we cannot walk as needed , etc… This will negatively affect our practice of Karma Yoga ( karma yoga = Yoga of action , I’ll get into that a different time ) Meaning we cannot physically perform the actions and deeds we are here to do Hatha yoga is 85% asana and 15 % pranayama and mediation . With these 3 things we can handle any physical situation . Hatha yoga is all things physical in life . Suppose we have to walk 5 miles to the market , we would prepare for the trip . We are mindful and do not take this trip unprepared. Our minds focus on what we need to buy, we make one trip with intention . Our bodies and our minds are prepared for it . We take care of our bodies properly knowing that if we do not we cannot walk the 5 miles to the market and therefore cannot provide for ourselves and others. When we only have to travel 2 miles in a car we are careless with both condition of the body and mind. Unfocused not acting with intention. Our minds jump around and are unfocused due to the fact that the consequences of such mental fluttering , fluctuations and lack of focus are very small. Or are they ??? Attachment to the luxuries in life make for weakness of the mind, carelessness in our care for our bodies and carelessness in our actions . Physical discomfort makes our minds stronger. In most cases our bodies can already handle the discomfort , especially if we keep our bodies strong and otherwise healthy. It is our minds that cannot . Spending time in physical discomfort will make a mind controlled and focused . We learn to acknowledge the discomfort , analyze whether a change must happen and then either change it or use our breath and meditation to detach from said discomfort . This practice will naturally create the desire and discipline needed to live life without suffering . Our perceived needs and desires will naturally begin to lessen due to our successes in new life experiences and our ongoing practice of non attachment (One of the Yamas = I’ll get into that another time ) . We will develop the disciple to avoid the things that cause our bodies to suffer. A simple example would be overeating and eating heavy foods. A heavy body causes us to sleep more , we lack the energy and the strength to move ourselves around with ease. This then leads to depression , joint pain , irritability , anger , etc… . A controlled, experienced , focused mind will do the ” work” to avoid such suffering in life . Our deep desire to do “good work” ( karma yoga) will make us choose not to do the things that cause us pain , therefore becoming a burden to our families, etc. and can no longer do our work for them , ourselves and others. The practice of Hatha yoga is all encompassing . Though it must follow the steps of understanding Bhakti ( the yoga of devotion ) Jnana Yoga ( yoga of known) and Karma Yoga ( the yoga of action ) to be complete .