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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yama/Niyama & Discipline

7.31.11  Discipline
Starseed Yoga and Wellness of Montclair, NJ

H.H. Sri Swami Satchidananda says in his book To Know Your Self on p.52:
"The great sage Bhagavan Patanjali, the father of Yoga philosophy, is said to have lived some two thousand years ago.  He formulated the Yoga Sutras, or aphorisms, known as Raja Yoga or the Royal Path, sometimes called Ashtanga Yoga or eight-limbed Yoga.  He says control of the thought-forms that arise in the mind-stuff is Yoga.  The aspirant who would calm the mind must carefully follow certain ethical codes of living.  The first limb is Yama; the second is Niyama.  These are the do's and do not's.  Thou shalt not cause injury.  Thou shalt not lie.  They are almost the same as the Ten Commandments.  Non-violence, truthfulness.  Thou shalt not steal, which means not only avoiding robbing others' property, but not even stealing their thoughts.  Non-hoarding is also in the code.  Don't be greedy.  Don't hoard things just for yourself or possess too many things beyond the bare necessities.  If you hoard more than you need, you are going against Yoga.
"Patanjali says that tranquility of the mind is the aim of Yoga, without which you cannot gain anything higher.  Call it God, Nirvana, or Self-realization.  Whatever it may be called, purity of mind is the most important.  That's the requisite.  But to maintain the purity of mind, one has to follow these codes.  Someone who believes in violence and continues causing injury to others can never be peaceful.  The one who tells a lie can never be peaceful and pure.  The one who hoards too many things can never be peaceful or happy.
"By living ethically according to these codes you prepare your mind to receive the grace.  Those who open the window receive the light.  Those who spread the sail go sailing.
"Know that its not the Self that needs Yoga.  The Self is always tranquil.  But the limited mind goes through these practices to expand and see the Self clearly.  Then, when the Seer sees it Self and rests in its true nature, it sees the real face which is never disturbed.  You are the image of God.  You are the Infinite by yourself.  How will you know when you have again returned to this state?  When you are in a peaceful life beyond all dualities.
"Remember the goal:  aim at something great."

Today we are going discuss discipline.  How theory alone will never satisfy.  We can learn the teachings and study the sacred texts, but until we put into practice these teachings we can not grow to our fullest potential.  Until we can experience the truth for ourselves, reading and learning the scriptures will not end our suffering and provide us with the eternal peace.  Practice a little bit everyday to keep your focus.  Regularity strengthens the mind.  Look to other accomplished yogis and sages for inspiration.  Living the ethical codes of Yama (harmlessness, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, non-greed) and Niyama (purity, contentment, tapas, self-study and self-surrender) help to keep our mind still and peaceful.  Think of a way that you can bring a little more Yoga into your daily life.  Maybe it is not getting upset when someone cuts you off.  Maybe its saying hello to someone you dislike.  Through developing discipline for our practice, on and off the mat, body and mind, we are able to directly receive and acknowledge the benefits of Yoga. 

Class began in Savasana (corpse pose) with breath awareness and selections from the above reading from His Holiness Sri Swami Satchidananda. Then, my lovely assistant Lucy lead an original warm-up with pointing/flexing the toes, ankle circles, hip circles, yogahug, rock-n-roll to Sukhasana (easy seat) for body circles, shoulder rolls and neck rolls.  [Great job, Lucy!!!]

Theme for poses today is "straight legs, straight arms, and straight spine."   (thanks c-ray)
tabletop, Marjaryasana (cat pose) > Bitilasana (cow pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), Balasana (child's pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana, Uttanasana (standing forward bend) -- theme enforced here - straight legs, straight arms, straight spine.  Tadasana (mountain pose), Urdhva Hastasana (upward hands facing pose) Uttanasana, Utthita Hasta Padasana (extended hands and legs pose), Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose), Prasarita Padottanasana (wide legs forward bend), Surya Namaskara (sun salutations), Eka Padagusthasana (one leg with yogi toe hold) with strap standing 8" away from the wall begin with hips and back against wall, option here to come off the wall and stand freely.  Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) prep or pose, Viparita Karni (legs up the wall), Salamba Sarvangasana (supported shoulderstand) with chair and bolster, Supta Baddha Konasana (supported bound angle pose), Savasana (corpse pose) with guided relaxation.  Played the Manipura chakra crystal singing bowl coming out of Savasana. 

"Patanjali says that tranquility of mind is the aim of Yoga, without which you cannot gain anything higher.  By living ethically according to these codes (Yama and Niyama) you prepare your mind to receive the grace.  Those who open the window receive the light.  Those who spread the sail go sailing.  Remember the goal:  aim at something great." - H.H. Sri Swami Satchidananda

Closing Peace Chants
Asaato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amritam 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.

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