YS II.46 stira sukam asanam
the connection with the earth should be steady and joyful

YS II.47 prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam
the means of perfecting the connection (posture/seat) is that of relaxing or loosening of effort and allowing attention to merge with endlessness, or the infinite

YS II.48 tatah dvandva anabhighata
from the attainment of perfected connection (posture/seat), there arises an unimpeded freedom from suffering due to the pairs of opposites (such as likes and dislikes, or pain and pleasure)

All of life, it seems, can be boiled down to moments of coming together, and separating apart. Things all around us are in a constant state of fluidity and change, and this can be very destabilising, especially if the body and mind are busy processing all this change; especially if we perceive the transience all around us as important, as real.

When I look back over my own life, I have been moved to a place of instability, disconnection and loneliness at the time I have felt insecure in myself. The insecurities have come from what boils down to a longing for togetherness, a longing to belong. What I did not realize (and still sometimes forget), is that I never didn’t belong. We all belong, we have a reason and a purpose to exist. We are all complete just as we are, and our completeness comes from our connection. When we recognise this, the points of divergence, the things that limit and separate us disappear. Each one of us has the potential to do beyond-human things. Each one of us has the potential for magic. When we perceive reality as the things around us that are constantly changing, however, we forget how to simply be, and instead end up longing. The magic comes in shifting our perception of what is real, of what is important. We are so much more than the body and the mind and the events that shake our foundation. When we realise our connection and points of similarity with all other beings, we cease to see other beings. We see ourselves in everything, we realize we are, in fact, united. This is when we can stop trying to Belong, and simply Be. This is when we have perfected our asana.

When we are able to fine a place of ease in our body and mind and let go of the entwinement of the daily happenings around us, the moments in our life that once defined us become but a thread in our rich life’s journey that we create together; and together, we are more than the sum of our parts, we are limitless.

When we come to the mat to practice asana, we aim to create a connection that is steady and joy-filled by way of making shapes that resemble beings with diverse physical forms: the tree, the crow, the mountain. The more we see beyond the shapes we assume with our body into the very nature of each form, the more we have the potential to merge with the form. This is when we cease trying to create a ‘pose’ and simply inhabit the connection, the asana. We can relax into the asana, we can relax in our life, we can stop identifying with all the things that lead to separation and longing. This is convergence, this the state of yoga.

A life less ordinary

“As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.” How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment—from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies—how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?”

~ Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Take your practice on the road this summer

with Lizzie ReumontSunday, July 6th, 1.30-4.30pm
at Indaba Yoga Studio

Whether you are going on holiday or just wanting to spend more time in the sun, don’t let your practice get left behind! This workshop is about creating a well-balanced self-practice, whether you are completely new to practicing on your own, or are an old-timer to self-practice and looking for some inspiration.

Sequencing, alignment and self-adjustment will be key themes, as will the role of pranayama, diet and nutrition. To support the workshop (and your practice) Raw Fairies, the raw, vegan food delivery service, will be on hand with some tips for adding nutrition into your daily regime and sharing some treats.

LIzzie’s vinyasa-based classes are infused with a passion for music, attention to alignment and awareness of the breath. Hands-on, intelligent adjustments are her specialty, enabling the practitioner to open blocked areas of the body and deepen into the practice. Above all else, Lizzie believes that the only way to practice and to teach yoga is with a compassionate heart.

Sex, Death, Sleep, Love, Magic and Pratyahara: Jivamukti Yoga Focus of the Month: July 2014, by Sharon Gannon

Everything that is seen should be looked upon as the Self
Shandilya Upanishad

“Guruji, what is pratyahara?,” I asked my teacher. He came closer to me, turned my head to face a wall in his practice room and asked, “Look at that wall, what do you see?” “A wall?,” I asked timidly. “If you see a wall that means you have to practice pratyahara, then afterwards you will see God, not a wall.”

Yoga is a tantric practice in which the practitioner practices seeing all of life as alive, as the living manifestation of God. What is realized in the yogic state of samadhi is the Oneness of being. A realized yogi does not see a world populated with others—living beings or inanimate objects—separate from themselves. A realized yogi sees the Self/God in all of life. It is the illusionary appearances of others that must be overcome in order to break though the false separation between self and other, or between self and nature, or between self and God. Practically speaking, what that might mean is that you start by putting a face on the other, you relate to others that you encounter as persons, you even relate to the Earth as a person, to animals, trees, plants, even streams, rivers and oceans or rain and wind as persons. You don’t see the living world as made up of inanimate objects or unfeeling, faceless animals, plants, minerals or elemental forces, but as individuals, much like yourself. When you perceive the world as alive in this way, it is easier to interact with and relate to your environment; you don’t feel so alone or as if others or the world were coming at you and you were only a passive victim. Pratyahara is the practice of purifying your perception—not believing in only what you see with your physical eyes, but looking deeper. When you can really relate to others as persons more like you than not, that provides a way, an access point, to get underneath or through the illusion of separateness.

You know how it feels when you fall in love with someone and at first, they seem like a separate person, and you seem like a separate person, but then you become enthralled with the similarities rather than the differences between the two of you, which draws you even closer, and the separateness that seemed to separate you from them dissolves. You may even feel like the same person. It may dissolve for perhaps only a moment, but in that moment, you know that it’s possible. They say that everyone experiences the true Cosmic reality many times in their life. You don’t have to be an enlightened being or a saint to have this experience of the Oneness of being: it happens at the moment of sexual orgasm and at the time of death. And it also happens every night when you go to sleep, into deep sleep, where you lose your identification with your ego/personality, with your body and mind, and you no longer experience your own self as separate, you let it go. For most people the merger experiences of orgasm, death and deep sleep are involuntary, beyond their conscious control.

A yogi wants the deep sleep experience while they are awake, a conscious experience of continuous ecstasy, like a perpetual orgasm; well, we could use the metaphor of the orgasm, but we could also use the metaphor of death. Many tantric practitioners meditate on death, and others on sex and others on sleep. The word tantra means to stretch across: tan=stretch + tra=cross over. The tantric yogi stretches their perception of self and other so far that their perception magically encompasses all of existence, including of course the Divine. To the realized yogi there is nothing outside of, or separate from God.

The word sex means separation. Etymologically, the word sex is derived from the Latin roots seco and secare, which mean “to divide, cut or separate.” Actually the experience of orgasm is a resolve of sex or separation, where the person loses themself and feels the heightened experience of oneness, if for only a moment. At the time of death a person separates from their body and merges with the oceanic experience—no longer identifying themself as a separate being confined in a body of flesh and blood, but instead as one with the universe of potential. The experience of samadhi is akin to orgasm, death and sleep, as it is a resolving of all forms of separation into the reality of Oneness. Yoga means “to yoke, to connect, to dissolve disconnection.” Yoga is the antithesis of sex, because sex means separation—to divide or separate—and yoga means union—to yoke or bring together. The state of Yoga is the state of Love, unconditional. To see yourself in others—to see so deeply into others that otherness disappears and only the Self—only God, only Love—remains is the yogic magical quest. Through the practice of pratyahara—looking deeply within—one refines their ability to go past the outer differences apparent in other beings and things in order to perceive what unites all beings and things—the universal solvent, the Divine force of eternal love, which is actually the essence of one’s own self.

—Sharon Gannon


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