Laziness is an obstacle to Yoga

Yoga Sutra 1:30:

~Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception~ these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.

 

“Anyone can  practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Men who doesn’t have strength can practice. Except lazy people, lazy people can’t practice Ashtanga yoga.”

—Quote by  K.Pattabhi Jois

In fact, its true that one does not need to have special ability to practice yoga, no need to be either very flexible or powerful, no need to be young and fit, no need to be rich, no need to look good and wear lululemon… One only needs to be willing to spend time each day practicing yoga.

Laziness doesn’t have to be lying on the couch every day. Our modern laziness can even be  a kind of busyness, I am very occupied every day for doing nothing. Our schedules are always full and our lives become boring.  The hearts and minds are occupied by busyness and get insensitive.  Dullness is mentioned in the Sutra as another obstacle of yoga. We wouldn’t invest the thing that could bring life changes in a positive way by self-discipline. It is also a kind of laziness.

Bob Dylan, the American singer-song writer who won the Nobel Prize in literature last year, sang: “he is not busy being born is busy dying.

Yoga, which is a way to strengthen and purify the body, calm the mind and activate the spiritual system, is a way of transforming. It is grateful that I have this karma let yoga enter my life.  Since I’m already engaged in and have a  patchy understanding of the true meaning of yoga, it is important to examine honestly the obstacles mentioned in Yoga Sutra 1:30, especially those in the mind.

Yoga and Buddhism

Before Yoga, I was introduced to Buddhism and got inspired by the books written by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, who is a renowned Bhutansed lama,film maker and writer. He says that its not the clothes you wear, the ceremonies you perform, or the meditation you do. Its not what you eat ,how much you drink, or who you have sex with. Its whether you agree with the four fundamental discoveries(also known as the four seals)the Buddha made under the Bodhi tree, and if you do, you can call yourself a Buddhist.

So what are these four truths?

All compunded things are impermanent.
All emotions are pain.
All things have no inherent existence
Nirvana is beyond concepts.

By thinking of it, we see that there is nothing moralistic or ritualistic about them. There is no mention of good or bad behavior. They are simply the truths based on wisdom which is the primary concern of a Buddhist. Unfortunately, people seem to view Buddihsm in a religious way.

A few years ago, I got into yoga pratice for fitness reason. With regular pratising, I surely enjoyed all those physical benefits, at the same time, I found Yoga also invovled with a lot mental work. Then this karmic wind continued blowing towards me and here I am in the 200hrs YRS training course.

Its not surprising that yoga and buddhism is connected in the ways of concept and pratice. Some points of connections could be:

Karma.
Meditation position and mudras.
Aim to reach enlightment as to Samadhi or Nirvana.
Yamas in Yoga very similar to Noble Eightfold Path.

Well, I just start the discussion here and this topic is really broad. Yoga, Buddhism and all spiritual paths are a map showing the journey back to the heart of the universe. Its time for us to give some thought to spriritual matters.

Svadhyaya and Dhyana

Svadhyaya simply means the study or observance of the self with no attachment and no judgment.

I really appreciate this term, as it allows me to reflect on  myself and others around me, observing and  analyzing  a situation with an almost scientist-like approach. I have found this brought me new insights to situations, but I have to be careful about whether it is applying judgment or discernment and whether it is expressing compassion or sympathy to myself or to others.

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End of My YTT Journey, Start to a New Beginning

In our life, we crossed path with many people. Some comes and goes. While others, stays along the way.

In this YTT journey, I have met people from all walks of life. Different nationality, race, gender and religion. But we all have the same mind and goal. We shared stories about our life, worked as a group and cherished the moments as we embarked in the 10 weeks long journey together. We are the March Weekend Warriors.

Though the time spent together are short, we had great fun learning from our masters. They have taught us with their utmost passion and sincerity. And I bet you, their dedications are unlike the others.

From this wonderful journey, I have seen the unseen. I have done the undone that I never knew I could. New knowledge gain with nothing to lose.

Over the 9 weeks training, a word has been etched in my mind even since I was introduced to it. “Dhāraṇā” from the Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra. Somehow, I was drawn to it. Dhāraṇā is the sixth stage or limb of eight as explained by the Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga. It’s translated as “concentration” or “single focus”. Somehow, we are always caught up in our daily life, always busy with work and working hard to make ends meet or keeping up with the wants that we start to lose sight of ourselves. We got so engrossed with keeping up with the lifestyles and standards that the world and social media portrays. Over time, we start to realise that we have lost so much time focusing on all the unimportant aspect of life that we forget who we are in the first place.

Dhāraṇā teaches us to focus our attention on the present moment and to bring attention to our SELF. By taking up YTT, I have discovered self-realization. Discovering that sometimes letting go of many of the things associated with our individual identity is needed in order to find our true Self. Take a moment to slow down the pace of your life and start taking the first step to discover yourself.

“Every journey has an end but the start of a new beginning.” Anonymous

 

Patsy Kaye Ang, YTT200 Weekend Warrior – March 2018

 

Bye bye! Sinus!

I have been suffering from sinus for recent 10 years. I have been very sensitive to air conditioning , dust mite, dust, etc. Most of time, one nostril is always blocked. I had many sleepless night because both nostrils were blocked and I refused to be a “mouth breather”! When I was doing martial arts, I had to breath so hard from only 1 nostril, it was embarrassing! I have visited doctors and they told me I have to do surgery… Or go through years of dust mite allergy therapy. 

Last month I was introduced to Sutra Neti in my Yoga teacher training class, which is a nostril cleansing practice. We were given a smooth rubber band, about 30cm long, and told to put into one nostril, and slowly put it out from the mouth.  It was very easy for me to achieve it, maybe because I have suffered so much for my sinus I will do anything that helps.  Ever since that day,  I haven’t had any problem with my nose!

So now I have been doing it once every week or two weeks, when I start feeling sinus, I perform Sutra Neti for 10 seconds on each nostril, and I will have smooth breathing for next few days!

 

My husband usually runs away when I take out the rubber band, he’s very scared to see this!! 

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

In the modern perception of a yoga practice, under the influence of social media, it is often misinterpreted that Yoga is a pose and the goal of yoga is to achieve the pose. However to practice yoga holistically is to go much deeper than the physical.

The yoga poses also known as Asana, is only one part of the 8-limbs as laid down by Patanjali. A holistic yoga practice will need to seek union between mind, body and spirit as it explores the synergy between breath, postures and drishti. Together this allows our external practice to draw inwards and foster an awareness of ourselves as individuals seeking peace and ultimately a connection to the greater whole. Through practicing the teachings of Patanjali’s eight-limbed path, the body and mind is both strengthened and softened, and prepared to go the depths into the exploration of yoga.

In brief the teachings of Patanjali’s eight-limbed path, or steps to yoga, are as follows:

The first and second limbs:  Yamas and the Niyamas, it all starts there, with how we show up in our lives (personal observances) and in the world (universal morality). The attitude we have towards external (people and things) is Yama, how we relate to ourselves inwardly is Niyama. When we incorporate Yamas and Niyamas into both our daily practice and our day-to-day lives, we become more present, cultivating awareness and gratitude in all things that we do and the people around us.

I. Yamas

The yamas are Ahimsa – Non-violence, Compassion for all living things.   Satya – Truthfulness.  Asteya – Non-stealing. Brachmacarya – Sense Control. Aparigraha – Non-hoarding.

II. Niyamas

The Niyamas are Sauca – Purity and cleanliness. Santosa – Contentment. Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy. Svadhyaya – Self awareness, self-study. Isvara pranidhana – Surrender to the higher power.

III. Asanas

Practice of physical postures combined with the fourth limb, Pranayama to foster a quiet awareness of breath, increase flexibility, physical and mental wellness.

IV. Pranayama

Breathing technique practiced together with the third limb, Asanas to balance the flows of vital life forces and energy within us, then directing them inward to the chakra system.

V. Pratyahara

Withdrawal of senses from external stimulation and bringing the focus inwards. With the senses no longer easily distracted, this is a preparatory stage for meditation.

VI. Dharana

Intense concentration, closely linked to the previous limb, pratyahara where with senses withdrawn and focus drawn inwards, we will find a focus and point of concentration. Through this one will be able to steady the mind and 100% focused on 1 thing or subject.

VII. Dhyana

Meditation absorption where one has become completely absorbed in the focus of the meditation.

VIII. Samadhi

The final stage and 8th limb, Samadhi means bliss and enlightenment. In the state of Samadhi, the practitioner merges with the object of their meditation and becomes one with it and their surroundings, to bring together, to merge.

 

So obviously everyone has a choice when it comes to yoga. Patanjali 8 limbs of the yoga sutras can sometimes feel like it will take time (a lifetime!) to cultivate. I’m still scratching the surface with putting some of them into full practice in my life, but having them as goals in my mind and heart is a start and while I’m far, far, far, far (read: not achievable in this lifetime) from enlightenment. I have had moments of what I like to call mini small enlightenment when I’ve practiced them. When I look at my life experiences and my asana practice through the context of their lessons, I often tell myself that perhaps moments of mini-enlightenment in one lifetime is better than nothing.

Louine Liew
(Weekend warrior /YTT200 – Sep 17)

It’s All Right, Brahmacharya Moves in Mysterious Ways

She was a philosopher living out her dharma in this life as a princess as she continued to practice deep meditation on Atman. But a young prince so moved by the sight of her decided he wanted to marry her. As he would not be dissuaded, she agreed to entertain his request at her home in 10 days. For the 10 days until their meeting, the princess drank of a purgative of croton oil. She collected all the motions that issued from her body in 10 enamel commodes and placed them under coverlets of beautiful silk.

When the prince came to call, the princess was unrecognisable in her death-like pallor and sunken face. She assured him that she was indeed the same woman he had admired before and had, in fact distilled her essential beauty into the 10 receptacles. He wordlessly gazed into the vessels, struck by this offering. Falling at her feet, he renounced the empty show of the world, filled with intense Vairagya. He at once cast off his princely vestments to retire to the forests in search of knowledge.

– Adapted from Practice of Brahmacharya by Sri Swami Sivananada, Section III, 22:6

Like the young prince, we spend a lot of time hunting. Many of us feel an innate desire to dominate other animals great and small, including people – to consume their flesh on one level or another. We give this habit the name of instinct, these actions that make sport of an other’s flesh as a crucible at which we sacrifice the energies of another to feed our own aimlessness.

Instead, consider the animal nature within yourself. Do not let cravings and temptations hollow or detract from your mindfulness. Rising monarchs may become consumed by notions of acquisition (be it of goals or accessories) in service to the ego. More than simply wanting to possess the body of the princess, the prince desired to extend his kingdom of dominion further still. He desired immortality. Foolishly, he sought it outside his own body. In doing so, he denied his own suffering and the eventuality of his own death.

The wise brahmacharini purged not only her physical impurities but her own ego. Her gift to a wandering soul was the reminder that body is no more than pus, lymph, blood and ooze. She was a keeper, but she would not be kept! She became the living embodiment of “mrityor ma amritam gamaya” (read: lead me from death to immortality) with her body entire.

Gratitude can be an appropriate, ego-destroying response to difficult, painful realisations. They humble us and destroy the unsustainable unreality or maya we are given to. Can our essential selves draw others to the bliss of dispassion the way our brahmacharini did? To be a yogi means to live in the ways that conduct us and others on the path of devotion, wisdom and universal love. May we not be subdued by our baser instincts, and instead channel our energies to a greater, more sublime goal.

– Jennifer Lew

Yogi Lifestyle of Aparigraha & Minimalism in times of endless consumerism

For anyone living in the major cities, we are all living under the system of Capitalism, an era of endless consumerism. People chasing over things after things thinking and believing that it will lead them to happiness. Using time and life to exchange for money in-order to exchange for things and material. A time whereby human are being consumed by the very material that they are consuming.

In one of the Yamas in the eight limbs of yoga, there is Aparigraha which had been translated into non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness. In my personal opinion, it somehow resonates with the minimalist lifestyle of living. Living with the awareness that what we really need is not many, but the few that really matters.

Mahatma Gandhi has this quote that leaves a deep impact in my heart, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”. Especially in the world of consumerism, human’s greed knows no end, people think they will be happy if they have something, after getting it they think they need another, and on and on. Only till they realised what they really need to jump out of the Rat race of chasing after the “wants”. Many Minimalist understand this very well. Only when we free out ourselves from the wants, we beings to have time and space to do what they truly want. By Identifying what we truly needs & which are our wants and having the discipline to live by the “needs” instead of being the slave of the “wants”. Some of the famous people that had inspired me on this lifestyle are Steve Job, Mark Zuckerberg, taiwan’s comic legand Cai Zhi Zhong and many of the Mystics and Spiritual master who had lived the way.

Once a person start to lives in this way, they will begin to have more time and money to focus on what truly matters to their life.

-Danny Lee

The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness.

Many of us started doing yoga as a form of exercise. My friends and I would go for classes that made us perspire the most.

Hatha? Not so

Yin? Never

Vinyasa flow? YES

Ashtanga? YES

We never liked classes that focused on alignments because we merely needed a channel to vent our frustrations during lunch time or after work, not add on to our frustrations. Most of us work in a corporate setting, and particularly for myself, shouting across desks and screaming over the phones were the default means of communications. There would be traders throwing their keyboards around, sometimes smashing into another person’s monitor. It is a common sight – people slamming their phones and headsets (Guilty as charged, I once broke two headsets in a week). Inefficiency is not tolerated. Everything has to be fast, because time is money. One slight delay could mean hundreds of thousands of losses. There is no time to breathe. Such is the energy across the entire floor. Negative, yet somewhat exhilarating.

However, it’s an entirely different world on the yoga mat. There will be someone to remind you to breathe, to inhale and exhale. It has become such a luxury to be able to breathe freely and this is the reason why we keep returning to the mats. Being focused on the asanas has allowed us to take our minds away from all distractions and all negativity. I started to attend classes that moved at a slower pace and surprisingly found inner peace despite struggling to hold certain poses for an extended time. I started to appreciate alignments and understand the benefits of each poses.

Unknowingly, I became calmer and less irritable at work, as pointed out by my colleagues and husband. When asked what happened, my answer is always “yoga”, even though I did not know why at that time. When and how did this peaceful sensation come along? How did the mind decide to calm itself down?

 

 “The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness.”

– Sakyong Mipham

 

This is a direct quote from “Running with the Mind of Meditation” by Sakyong Mipham, a Tibetan lama and head of the Shambhala lineage.

This quote really resonates with me. In yoga, our body benefits from the various asanas, and our mind benefits from stillness (quote Patanjali’s “yogas chitta vritti nirodhah” which means “yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind”). In stillness, we start working inwards. We listen to our body and observe our breaths. So, continue practicing yoga on and off the mat, and observe the changes taking place, internally and externally.

Imagine if everyone in the company practices yoga, we would have huge savings in terms of hardware replacement costs! But most importantly, everyone will be happier beings with more positive energies that have a ripple effect.

 

With peace and love,

Stephanie

Asteya

Asteya

The eight limbs of yoga are described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Within the first branch “Yama” is found ‘Asteya’ (a = not, steya = stealing) – one of the five primary rules of social behaviour – not to steal. It is mentioned in many other Indian texts; in the Bhagavad Gita (in the Mahabarata), in the Vedas and in the Upanishads.

I would think the concept of not stealing to be fundamental to all cultures, religions and belief systems and a pretty standard rule throughout households worldwide.

As we raise our children, they are all taught not to steal. They should be honest – to not take anything that does not belong to them. This is the initial understanding – where we all start – we all know stealing to be wrong.

Exploring the concept more deeply: Why would we want to steal? Because we are needing something; whether that need is real, or imagined. At the root of this – we have something lacking; something missing. We think we need to fill this gap extrinsically – from the outside – with ‘things’ or sensations. In our fast-paced modern world we are watching these desires and cravings become increasingly urgent and immediate.

When actually, we need to fill this ‘gap’ ourselves, be fulfilled from within. To find solutions intrinsically, rather than using the temporary ‘fix’. We need to shift our mindsets from scarcity to abundance. This we are trying to overcome with our practice of yoga in all its forms with its 8-limbed approach.

Assuming that we are already not physically stealing goods from one another, we can see that the concept of Asteya is also highly intertwined with some of the other yamas:

Ahimsa (non-violence) – understand that stealing is a violent act.

Satya (truth/honesty) – if you live an honest life, the fear of scarcity falls away.

Aparigraha (non-hoarding) – not mindlessly consuming and coveting possessions.

Do not steal from our beautiful planet – use only what you really need.

I feel that easy practices to incorporate Asteya into our daily activities also involve time. Be punctual – do not steal another’s time. Be quiet – I quote Mahatma Ghandi: “Speak only if it improves on the silence”….

Namaste

Alex