A Journey In Consciousness

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dear Selene...

(Selene is Raylene's daughter)

A few reflections I meant to share with you concerning the dynamic forms of yoga and what I want to refer to as “still” Yoga.

It seems that in the contemporary American culture of yoga practice, dynamic yoga is highly favored and growing more popular. That is good.

However, there exists a great difference in the effects between dynamic and still yoga.

Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, supposedly written 5,000 years ago, uses among other definitions specifically one that states “the ability to hold a particular posture over and extended period of time.”

When I started my Hatha Yoga practice, in those ancient days, I spent 2-3 hours daily with Hatha Yoga alone and my training focused on movements that were extremely slow and on holding the posture as long as possible.

At the beginning, long was not very long, of course. But after one or two years I was able to extend a motionless asana quite a bit. Sirsasana upto 15 minutes and others could easily be maintained up to 5-10 minutes.

This did build flexibility but also strength in ways that dynamic yoga may not achieve. But, most importantly, it created a purification of the nadis, the subtle energy channels inside our bodies. When these channels begin to open, dramatic and radical shifts begin to take place in our consciousness. These radical shifts may bring about the opening of the Inner Space. The perception of the flow of time will alter. (It is possible to see an effortless reduction of breathing to two or three cycles per minute.)

These radical shifts represent the sole goal of all yoga practice. Let us remember that Hatha Yoga is merely a branch on the Tree of Yoga. Pantanjali, who is often considered to be one of the fathers of the Yogic Sciences, described Yoga as “Cittam Vritti Nirodhah” – that which causes the waves of your consciousness to become still.

Imagine a lake, moved and stirred by the wind. Suddenly the wind ceases completely and all waves stop. The lake becomes motionless. Now everything is reflected clearly and totally. The lake has become a silent mirror and you can see the reflection of the Full Moon with laser-like precision.

Yoga is achieved when the lake of our consciousness does not move anymore and in that motionlessness insight into our true nature arises effortlessly.

That is Yoga; and everything that supports the process that leads to this arising insight – is yoga.

Therefore I am in favor of exploring the hidden secrets of asanas by holding them over extended periods of time. Paradoxically, this will help to bring about the inner openings faster than the dynamic asanas.

Just my thoughts on the subject matter… J

And I want to use this opportunity to tell you that it is great that you are so dedicated to Yoga. Just know that I am extremely proud of you.


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