Monday, February 29, 2016

Breaking it down - the different paths of YOGA.

Although there are many paths of yoga, in the last blog post concerning where all this was originating from, we said that there were 7 disciples that left Adi Yogi (the first Yogi) with 7 different forms or paths of Yoga to bring to the rest of the world.  These paths although different do interlace and do lead to the same destination - to Yoga; to union and oneness.  They lead us to our true selves, our true nature that of existence, knowledge and bliss absolute.  Although these days in your studios etc. you may be hearing just the styles of asana practice mentioned such as Hatha, Iyenger, Ashtanga etc., these are brand names and not to be confused with the different approaches to Yoga which I have tried to briefly explain below.  This is the synthesis of Yoga and the depths of practice and you will see that actually the practice you may be familiar with that you need a mat for is just a tip of a great big iceberg!  Enjoy exploring!

Bhakti YOGA – The Devotional Path
This is the Yoga of devotion, seeking oneness with all of creation often through chanting and song, with worship and ritual, visiting spiritual places and connecting to a higher awareness of consciousness.  Here one can learn to surrender the ego and channel the emotions positively learning acceptance and tolerance, this is yoga of the heart!

Karma YOGA – The Active Path
This is the Yoga of selfless service, we can learn to remove our ego through our actions and service without want or need for any personal gain or benefit to ourselves or thanks for what we have done.  This is giving up any reward or fruits from our action, performing actions selflessly.  Working for the good of others in our mind and not that of ourselves.

Hatha YOGA – A branch of RAJA Yoga
This is the path of purification for the body and mind using yogic postures, breathing and cleansing techniques to liberate the body ready for a higher level of self-awareness.  So when you see a timetable for a studio offering Hatha, Sivananda, Satyananda, Ashtanga, Vinyassa, Yin, Iyengar, Slow Flow, Power, Bikram, Therapeutic, (the list goes on!) this all constitutes as Hatha Yoga, it is using the body and breath.  The different names may represent different teachers that have applied a certain sequence or technique or different styles of movement etc.  Ha represents the Sun and Tha the moon and we bring the two together through Hatha Yoga.

Raja YOGA – The Mystic Path
This continues on with Hatha Yoga following 8 limbs outlined by the Sage Patanjali. These are our ethical codes of do’s and don’ts or Yamas and Niyamas, Asana (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques) Pratyahara –withdrawal from our senses and sense pleasures, Dharana – concentration, Dhyana – meditation and Samadhi – the super conscious state which has different stages leading to complete oneness, duality no longer exists.

Jnana YOGA – The Intellectual Path
This is the path of cultivating knowledge of the true self, inquiring into ‘Who am I?’  Involving the study of the scriptures and intense contemplation of their meanings and meditation into what is real and what is not real, the meaning of the self, this is Yoga of the mind!

Tantra YOGA – The Spiritual Path
This is the path of divineness and probably the most misunderstood.  Tantra is eradicating all duality and seeing all as divine, from every blade of grass to every soul on the planet, to the stars and moon.  Every action is a divine action.  Often tantra is using mantra and the raising of the kundalini, which is a dormant energy in all beings that we raise up through the energy centers to the highest level of awareness.  It is a powerful path and needs the right Guru.  Everything is seen as sacred and can relate to the Shakti – female energy of the cosmos.

Nada YOGA – The Path of Sound
This is often referred to Laya yoga or even Kundalini yoga and is the use of sound to attain the blissful state.  It is the concentration of the inner sounds, the annahata sounds- the internal sounds or sounds of the soul.  It is the transformation of the self-realized through tone.

Kriya YOGA – The Path of Purification
This path is purification of the soul through the performance of austerities; study of the scriptures and of self-surrender.  This is the constant practice of the Yama’s and Niyamas, those that purify the impure mind, which diminishes our animal nature and elevates the divine nature that resides in all of us.  This is spiritual discipline that leads to the complete control over the mind.  This doesn’t mean being able to live your life with one arm raised over your head all day every day or be able to stand in freezing water with no clothes, this means being able to except insult and injury, being able to fast and control our eating habits, to be able to control our sleep and having complete control over our desires.  There should be austerities performed for body, speech and mind to steady our minds and fix it on oneness.

So as we can see YOGA is so much more than just rolling out your mat, it is a complete way of being, a way of higher living to reach liberation from the constant circle of births and deaths.  We see a beautiful mountain and want to reach the top, so which path are you going to begin on?  In YOGA all the paths should intertwine at some point, practicing a synthesis to bring us to truth. 
Have a wonderful Adventure.

Mangala / Nicky.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Origins of Yoga.

More than 15000 years ago Adi Yogi; the first Yogi introduced this beautiful passageway of finding our true selves to humankind.  This passageway is called Yoga.
This one called Adi Yogi first appeared up in the Himalayan range, sometimes he seemed to be in an ecstatic dance and sometimes he was utterly still.  But people could see that there was something about him, something within him, something he was experiencing that they did not know, and they became inquisitive.  But Adi Yogi showed them no attention as they observed him; he was contained within his own practice and was oblivious to them.  People waited and waited but after a long time of being ignored they became impatient and bored and left apart from seven men.  These seven really recognized something in this Yogi and patiently waited.  Adi Yogi only saw them as fools and still ignored them; he believed they would never be ready to receive teachings telling them how much preparation was needed for these practices and that there weren’t just for entertainment.  But still these seven men were persistent, patient and accepting of the voice of Adi Yogi, so they started to prepare in hope that one day they would be ready.
After 84 years of preparation, patience and practice Adi Yogi looked at them and saw that they were shinning and that they were ready to receive knowledge at last, they were now grabbing his attention.  So on full moon on the summer solstice he turned south to face them and became their Guru, their teacher.  He became Adi Guru, the first teacher and showed them his grace and began to transmit the science of yoga to these men.
“The Yogic science is not about a yoga class that you go through about how to bend your body – which every new born infant knows – or how to hold your breath – which every unborn infant knows.  This is the science of understanding the mechanics of the entire human system.”  Sadhguru.
After many many years the transformation of these seven men was complete and they had reached their enlightenment, seven basic forms of yoga had been instilled in them which can still be seen today, and they were sent off to different parts of the world to impart the teachings of yoga – a means to evolve oneself; to the rest of humanity.
“They became the limbs of Shiva (Adi Yogi) taking the knowing and technology of how a human being can exist as the creator himself to the world.” Sadhguru.
With these teachings we can go beyond what we know right now, you can go beyond all limitations if you are prepared and with absolute dedication.  All is possible there is no limit.
Inspired by the article written by Sadhguru regarding the first Yogi in preparation for the world first international Yoga day last year and by a question from a little friend this weekend – can you levitate Miss Nicky?
Have inspired and limitless days!
Mangala / Nicky.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tips for Back Care during your Practice.

We can all find ourselves pushing a little too much in our practice sometimes, at times we can find things that used to feel natural and free flowing a little difficult and challenging as the body doesn’t quite do as it once did.  This can be for many reasons, maybe the body is overly stressed or tired, or the challenges are there due to bad eating and sleeping habits, due to emotions building within the spine and back muscles or a number of things.  But when our minds are not letting go and accepting a more gentle approach until the body is ready again sometimes little injuries can occur and can often be in the back.  Here are some tips just to bring awareness and help protect our spine and back muscles.
1.    Warm up well before practicing asana and especially before attempting back bends.  Suryia Namaskar either from a gentle approach or a dynamic one is the best way to warm up.
2.    Engage your abdominal muscles and core strength throughout your practice.
3.    Lengthen your spine before twisting, forward bends and back bends. In fact just keep lengthening through the spine!
4.    Engaging your glute muscles (bottom muscles) will take the strain off of your lower back, before back bends such as Ustrasan (camel pose) lift up and lengthen through the spine and engage your glutes before folding back into the bend.
5.    Any discomfort in your lower back during forward bends keep the knees slightly bent.
6.    Whilst lying in Savasana if discomfort is felt in the lower back bend the knees and let them rest to each other or place a bolster under your thighs.

Try not to put pressure on yourself and your body during your practice, follow your breath, let your breath be your guide and accept where we are on a moment-by-moment basis.  This is difficult sometimes but everything is constantly changing so if something is difficult for a while accept it and know that it will change.  As we accept the weather we should try to accept ourselves.
Have beautiful days
Sometimes we win and sometimes we learn!
Om shanti shanti shanti
Mangala / Nicky