Friday 4.29.11 - Meditation based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Taught by Sisters Saraswati Andrea Lee and Chitra Jessica Sunshine Klein
Fridays 8-9am - Starseed Yoga and Wellness in Montclair, NJ
Sponsered by The Yoga Life Society
Welcome to Meditation! Let us begin by first tuning into our breath. Feel the breath. Follow the flow. Let the inhalations and exhalations be smooth. Let us begin by joining our voices and hearts in unison by chanting 3 OM's together, followed by a call and response chant of OM Shanti.
OM Shanti, OM Shanti, OM Shanti OM
Sit silently and feel the vibrations from the opening chant. Watch the mind. Bring your hands in front of your heart in Anjali mudra (Anjali = offering), palms pressing against one another evenly. Gently bow you head to your heat to acknowledge the Divinity within.
My name is Chitra Jessica Sunshine, please tell me your name and what you like about yoga. Today I will introduce you to the people in the pictures on the alter. The traditional Yoga Life Society alter contains the Integral Yoga Yantra in the middle, with a picture of Sri Guruji Reverend Jaganath Carrera on the left and a picture of Sri Swami Satchidananda on the right.
A yantra is a sacred diagram made up of geometric figures in various colors. It is an expression of the Divine that holds energy and helps retain our connection to the Cosmic consciousness. A yantra is a visual form of a mantra. The Integral Yoga yantra represents all faiths and all of creation. Each part of the yantra symbolizes a different part of the cosmos. The most note worthy part is the bindhu, the central dot. It is the beginning of creation. Concentrating on the bindhu can be a tool for focusing the mind during a visualization meditation. [Note: check back next week for this meditation!]
The guru is a spiritual master/teacher who is the remover of darkness. Saraswati and I are disciples to Sri Guruji, who is a direct disciple to H.H. Sri Swami Satchidananda. Spending time with our guru is a blessing as it is a direct transmission of wisom from one human to another. The guru walks beside the disciple guiding and supporting to Self realization.
Sri Guruji Reverend Jaganath Carrera is the founder and spiritual head of the Yoga Life Society. For a complete bio please see Guruji's bio. He is a direct disciple to world renowned Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder and spiritual guide of the Integral Yoga Institutes and Satchidananda Ashrams worldwide. Integral Yoga fuses all of the six major branches of yoga together:
1) Hatha 2) Karma 3) Jnana 4) Bhakti 5) Japa 6) Raja
Goals of The Yoga Life Society
1. Lead a life of harmony, service, peace, and joy through the study and practice of the six major branches of Yoga.
2. Create an environment within and without - in which spiritual ignorance evaporates leading to the experience of Self realization.
3. Bring loving kindness and compassion to all.
4. Realize there is one universal Truth or reality, and that all faith traditions are valid and complete ways to know that Truth.
Last week review: Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. Meditation brings the mind to a place that is peaceful, clear, and one-pointed.
Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.14 Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and with enthusiasm.
Any effort to still the mind is practice. Firmly grounded practice occurs daily without strain or grudging particpiation. It is a practice that is meaningful, inspired, and focused. Practice becomes a joyful habit when it is no longer confined to outside of us. Success requires persistence, patience, joy and dedication. Regularity is the key. A little bit everyday goes a long way.
"Yoga is a science. If you practice diligently you'll get the results. There is no doubt about it. We develop into better people seeking within ourselves to find a place where devotion lives, where consistency is the natural state and the roots of love are hidden. We could replace long time, without break, and with enthusiasm with devotion, consistency, and love."
- Guruji Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras, p. 42
At this point, Saraswati and I switched roles for Pranayama.
------------------Saraswati------------------Before we engage in our meditation for today I’d like to do some exercises that will help to balance the breath and create an ideal mental and physiological environment for meditation. Controlling the breath, called pranayama in Sanskrit, is the practice of bringing your awareness to your breath and modifying it in ways that either balance, energize or calm the mind and body. In Sanskrit the word prana means life energy and while it is not solely found in the breath, following the breath is one of the most tangible ways to get in touch with it.
Today we will be trying a pranayama technique that you may have heard of as Nadi Suddhi or Nadi Shodona. You may also know it as alternate nostril breathing and it is an effective way of balancing the many energy channels we have in the body. You may notice when you wake up in the morning that one nostril is usually more constricted than the other. When you rise your left nostril may be dominant but in two hours your right could be. This is a back and forth pattern that happens throughout the day, typically unbeknownst to us. Alternate nostril breathing balances and provides cleansing for both nostrils, and their corresponding energy channels in the body, regardless of which is dominant. In doing so it helps to calm and still the mind.
Make your right hand into a fist and lift your fingers into a “peace” sign. Place the index and middle fingers on the third eye, the place in between your eyebrows. Place your thumb gently on the crease of the right nostril and the ring and pinky fingers on the crease of the left nostril. Inhale and exhale deeply through both nostrils at your own pace. When you feel ready gently close off the nasal passageway of your right nostril and inhale only through the left. Now close off the left nasal passage and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale deeply through the right. Return to the left side as you exhale. Keep this exercise going for a few minutes. If you forget where you are just pick up inhaling the breath on the right side and exhaling on the left.
------------------Break for Tea------------------After the break, I lead the students in a Breath meditation for 15 minutes. First tune in by observing the breath. Let the cycle be smooth and round out the edges. Feel that the inhalation is cool and the exhalation is warm. Today's meditation with focus on counting the breath. One cycle of breath is an exhalation and an inahalation. So, counting will be inhale 1, exhale 1, inhale 2, exhale 2...all the way to 10 and then back to zero. If you get lost, you can certainly start again at one. Let go of any distracting thoughts and bring your focus back to the breath. The breathing is a reflection of our state of mind. Slow and even breathing = calm and focused mind. Completing the meditation we sat for a golden moment, bringing the non-judgemental witnessing attitude to our thoughts. Just watch the mind. Feel the effects of the meditation.
A passage from the writing of Swami Kripalu:
"To read uplifting books or listen to spiritual discourses is good. But to practice even a little is of the utmost importance. The profound meaning of yoga is understood only by those who study it systematically through personal practice. The day you start to practice, your true progress will begin. Accepting the truth proclaimed by scriptures does not produce knowledge. Real knowledge is only obtained through direct experience. For experience, practice is indispensable. Knowledge without experience is false knowledge. Through various yoga experiences, a seeker goes on intensifying his faith, courage, knowledge, zeal, and devotion. In this way he progresses on the path of yoga, gaining the knowledge of yoga through the practice of yoga."
Ending Peace Chants led by Saraswati
Asaato Maa Sad Gamaya Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya Mrityor Maa Amritaam Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real. Lead us from darkness to the Light. Lead us from the fear of death to the knowledge of Immortality.
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!
Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu
May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light!