6 Master Yogi Quotes to Inspire Your Practice

In one of our lectures in the YTT 200, we were asked what our favorite quote was. There are hundreds of quotes by famous people to choose from, but when someone asks you point blank and out of the blue which quote you live by, the answer may not come easily. Picking a quote – the quote – that should define what you stand for prompts you to reflect at the very least, or make you feel vulnerable at the most.

But throughout our lectures in the program, our teachers have showered us with insight and wisdom – a few we can barely pronounce but all we can truly apply in our lives.

For this post, I’ve put together six (6) of the key insights from our Master Yogis that I think are worthy of being enclosed in quotation marks:

1. “Do what your body wants you to do, not what your mind wants you to do.” The decision should happen on its own. The body is instinctive and has a natural ability to achieve physical homeostasis. The body is able to discern what is good or bad for it and we have to be in tune with what the body needs and what it rejects, rather than allowing the mind to dictate what the body wants and needs. For example, our body only becomes hungry when we need added nourishment. Craving for unhealthy food is a psychological announcement that is formed in the mind.

2. “There is comfort in consistency.” Maintaining a daily Yoga practice is difficult for most people because you need time, discipline and persistence. But we can push through the discomfort until we are able to ride smoothly through the consistency of a daily routine, which stabilizes your mood and provides you a reservoir of energy to push yourself to do more in other aspects of a Yogic life. So, having at least five regular poses that you do daily can be a big help to regulate your mood, establish consistency, and strengthen your connection with each asana.

3. “Establish a pattern of completion. Whatever you do, finish it; don’t leave it hanging.” Completing something no matter how challenging and no matter your mood relates to the previous insight. However, this one is more on reaching your destination no matter the hurdles and distractions. I think this also links to our habit of complaining and sour-graping. When we complain and have bouts of sour grapes, we place ourselves in a state of constant pain jealousy. We build the hurdles ourselves. We also steal ourselves away from what we need to do (relates to asteya, meaning non-stealing). Without completion, there is no consistency. Without consistency, there can be no relief, growth and vitality.

4. “Find a connection with pose; don’t be a slave to it. Being a slave to something is a form of suffering.” Our masters keep saying that we must enjoy the pose. It can be difficult to hear this, especially when you are struggling to hit the right spot for a certain asana. For example, you might still have a wobbly headstand or you can’t bind in Marichyasana C and D. The frustration can get to you and ruin your mood. But if you can control and manage your mood in relation to a pose, or to any another subject/object, you do not suffer. You can let go anytime. Only then can you be a master of your own mind.

5. “Where there is desire, there is also fear.” The fear can come from thinking that we are unable to achieve the desire or that we are capable but are unworthy of attaining it. The fear could also come from knowing that once we achieve our desire, we would have to move on to another desire, challenge, dream, and, basically, any object that becomes the destination of our life – and changing this destination might require us to redefine who we are and what we represent, which can be confusing and taxing. But Yoga is less about achieving desires and more being recognizing our desires and our human tendency to fall prey to these desires and suffer in the process. As we get older, it also becomes apparent that as individuals, we have basic desires that evolve and mature. However, these desires are basically the same ones that have driven us all our lives. And if we don’t recognize the fear we attached with out basic, individual desire, the fear will also evolve and mature, bringing us further from achieving our desires.

6. “A weakness is a strength, but at the time you labeled it as a ‘weakness’ was actually an inappropriate application of a strength.” Someone’s weakness could be another person’s strength. We can also take this lesson to mean that our abilities and limitations have a proper application; we just need to be able to discern opportunities to apply them in different situations. In addition, we also learned from the YTT 200 that appearing weak and imperfect could be a strength in a Yoga instructor. Students, especially beginners, feel intimated by a muscular and perfectly shaped teacher who does elaborate poses. Instead of listening and trying, all they can take away is how far the gap is between where they stand and how far the teacher has gone. In this scenario, both the student and the teacher fail.

These are just six of the many powerful lessons I picked up from our Yoga teacher training. Certainly, there will be more as we approach the end of our training program, and as we go off into our individual Yogi journeys. But these six quotes are a good starting point to define our ongoing practice and bring us closer to the quote that would define and direct us.

Life around Chakras

By Harsh Thakkar

We are living in the age of data. Yet there are so many things around us that we know nothing or very little about. Back in the stone age when the Neanderthal man did not know or understand something, he looked at stars to see signs to guide him in the right direction. Then came the middle ages and the homo sapiens around the world had been taken over by religion. They started going to priests and reading the scriptures be that the Holy bible or the Quran or ancient Hindu Vedic scriptures to enlighten them and tell them what to do when they were lost. Today when we are lost we google. Which is of course the biggest warehouse of – you got that right – Data. Yoga on the other hand tells us to look inside when you feel lost. Understand yourself and your own body so that you can understand your surroundings.

However, we still understand very little of our own body and how that fits in the vast reality we call universe. Yoga Sutras always had an answer to this question for the mind that seeks. Different books and interpretations of how the human body is powered have been written and explained in different cultures across the world. Of course, over time when we underwent the scientific revolution we found logical answers too to pretty much every religious and cultural belief that we had accepted over hundreds of years. The same scientists still send a silent prayer when things go beyond their rational expertise or will shout out to God to be saved if they were thrown in front of a hungry tiger. No I’m not undermining science or its miraculous achievements. I’m just trying to shine some light that there are so many things that still cannot be explained by science.

Different people are governed by different motives or energies at different stages of their lives. One could say that you have been motivated to work towards becoming a millionaire or that promotion in your current job or to write that novel or this blog. In another part of the world; there is a poor farmer who labors day in and day out just to earn enough to survive and feed his family, a young teenager from the same village puts in the hard work in school and college and becomes an engineer. Another from a different village become an entrepreneur and a millionaire. What is powering these different people from similar backgrounds yet able to achieve such diverse goals and destinies? Then there are some who are born with a silver spoon, everything served on a silver platter, yet they’re not motivated enough to leave their own mark on the world. Chakras may have the answer.

So what are chakras?

Ancient texts between various traditions noted 5 to 114 chakras throughout our body some even elaborated as many as 88,000. The most important of them can be shortlisted to only seven. They can be explained as small rotating or vibrating discs of energy centered around the plane of the spine from the base of the spine at the pelvic floor to the crown of the head in a human body. Every chakra since it is a concentrated disc of energy has its own frequency and color associated with it. And if all chakras in a human body are rotating at the ideal frequency then you as human being are balanced spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

Every chakra is related to a different ailment, or a different strength of your body, even different traits of your personality. At times the focus of your life can be determined by a certain chakra being more powerful than the other. Let us start with describing these Chakras first: 

1. Muladhara (Root) Chakra, Color: Red, Frequency: 396 Hz

Think about your root chakra as the foundation of a house, except for your body—it’s sturdy, stabilizing, and supportive, keeping everything safely connected if it’s functioning properly. It’s associated with the base of the spine, the pelvic floor, and the first three vertebrae, and responsible for an individual’s sense of security and survival. Because of that, it’s also connected to whatever you use to ground yourself, including basic needs such as food, water, shelter and safety, as well as your more emotional needs such as letting go of fear and feeling safe. As you well know, when these needs are met, you tend to worry less.

When it’s unbalanced: A variety of ailments can occur from blockages, including anxiety disorders, fears, or nightmares. Physically, the first chakra is associated with problems in the colon, with the bladder, with elimination, or with lower back, leg, or feet issues.

2. Svadhishthana (Sacral) Chakra, Color: Orange, Frequency: 417 Hz

Located above the pubic bone and below the navel, it’s responsible for our sexual and creative energies. Associated with the element of water, when your sacral chakra is aligned, you will likely feel great: You’re friendly, passionate, and successfully fulfilled while also eliciting feelings of wellness, abundance, pleasure, and joy. By honoring your body and expressing yourself creatively, you’re keeping the energy wheels turning and fluid.

When it’s unbalanced: When you’re feeling uninspired creatively or have some emotional instability, your sacral chakra may be misaligned. Likewise, this can also be associated with physical sexual dysfunction, while also potentially experiencing fear of change, depression, or addiction-like behaviors.

3. Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra, Color: Dark purple, Frequency: 528 Hz

With its name meaning “Jewel City” in Sanskrit, the third chakra is said to be your source of individual power, ruling over self-esteem. Located from the navel to about the rib cage, it reportedly governs all things metabolic, digestive, and stomach-related.

When it’s unbalanced: You can suffer from low self-esteem, have difficulty making decisions, and may have anger or control issues. It’s not just feeling badly about yourself, but also may lead you to outwardly express apathy, procrastination, or that you’re able to be taken advantage of easily. Likewise, you’ll also possibly have a tummy ache of some kind such as digestive issues or gas.

4. Anahata (Heart) Chakra, Color: Green, Frequency: 639 Hz

As the central chakra, found at the center of your chest, represents where the physical and the spiritual meet. Physically, it’s said to encapsulate the heart, the thymus gland (which plays a vital role in your endocrine and lymphatic system), the lungs, and the breasts. And as its name implies, is all about the love. “It’s the awakening to spiritual awareness, forgiveness, and service”. Associated with the color green, it’s believed that when your heart chakra is aligned and balanced, love and compassion are flowing freely—both in terms of giving it out and getting it back.

When it’s unbalanced: A closed heart chakra can give way to grief, anger, jealousy, fear of betrayal, and hatred toward yourself and others—especially in the form of holding a grudge against something or someone. Holding onto hurt harbors negative feelings and cuts you off from opportunities to love.

5. Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra, Color: Blue, Frequency: 741 Hz

Have zero problem saying how you feel? Your fifth chakra, which is all about speaking your inner truth—or specifically, ensuring that your opinions are properly communicated—is likely well-balanced. The throat chakra rules all communication and is the first of the three solely spiritual chakras (as opposed to the lower ones, which manifest themselves in a more physical way). Anatomically, the throat chakra is associated with the thyroid, parathyroid, jaw, neck, mouth, tongue, and larynx. When this chakra is in check, you’re able to fully listen as well as speak and express yourself clearly.

When it’s unbalanced: In addition to having trouble speaking your truth, you find it hard to pay attention and stay focused, or fear judgment from others—which can further hinder your ability to keep it real. Physically, this blockage can manifest itself as a sore throat, thyroid issues, neck and shoulder stiffness, or tension headaches.

6. Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra, Color: Indigo, Frequency: 852 Hz 

The third-eye chakra is physically located between your eyebrows. Organs including the pituitary gland, eyes, head, and lower part of the brain are said to be ruled by the third eye. And it reportedly governs your intuition—plus the ability to recognize and tap into it.  What’s more, the third eye is also said to be responsible for all things between you and the outside world, serving as a bridge between the two, allowing you to cut through any illusions and drama to see the clear picture.

When it’s unbalanced: You may have trouble accessing your intuition, trusting your inner voice, recalling important facts, or learning new skills. And if your lower chakras—AKA the root, sacral, solar plexus, and heart chakras—and are unbalanced, your third eye will likely be as well, which may cause you to act more judgmental, dismissive, and introverted. A third-eye blockage is associated with a broad range of issues, including depression, anxiety, and a more judgmental attitude—while physically, it’s said to cause headaches, dizziness, and a slew of other brain-health issues.

7. Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra, Color: Pure White, Frequency: 963 Hz 

Known in Sanskrit as the Sahaswara chakra or the “thousand petal lotus” chakra, it is the center of enlightenment and our spiritual connection to our higher selves, others and ultimately the divine. As the name suggests, the seventh chakra is located at the crown of your head. When aligned, the realizations that occur within you are said to be along the lines of pure awareness, consciousness, undivided and all expansive.

When it’s unbalanced: Unlike the other chakras, the crown chakra is often only opened fully through specific yogic or meditative exercises, or at certain times—which is not a skill set you can call upon at any given moment. You may be able to get a taste of it, though, through daily practices—anything from meditation, prayer, to moments of silence and gratitude—to have those moments of spiritual connection.

Chakras are essentially nerve centers in the human body the presence and the frequencies of which has been proven scientifically. If the Manipura Chakra is powerful in a human being then he/she would go after power, money and recognition making him/her very ambitious during that phase of life. On the other hand if a person is barely just surviving financially and fighting over stability and security in life he/she is ruled by the Muladhara Chakra. A motivational speaker or an influencer on the other hand is being ruled by the Vishuddha Chakra. With the practice of certain asanas, meditation or breathing one can balance and master the different chakras to maintain proper energy flow in the body. I would like to end this rather lengthy article by quoting Dalai Lama :

“In the view of Tantra, the body’s vital energies are the vehicles of the mind. When the vital energies are pure and subtle, one’s state of mind will be accordingly affected. By transforming these bodily energies we transform the state of consciousness.”

~ The 14th Dalai Lama

Yoga for beginners

by Harsh Thakkar

When we grow up, as humans we start taking things for granted. Small miracles which power our everyday life are still happening with the same frequency and un-mindfulness at which they used to happen when one is born. For instance, you still are involuntarily breathing – without really thinking about it or giving it a second thought. You still eat food, and in a few hours, it provides you with ample energy to engage in activities you love and strengthens your overall body, or simply put “it becomes your body”. Yes, there is a scientific explanation to all this, but nobody thinks about it while doing it. Nobody has the time.

Actions and milestones which used to be groundbreaking when you were 1 year old – the first eye contact, the first step, the first solid meal, the first word that comes out of your mouth, all these happen daily now in your adult life, but they have stopped being miraculous. When I convinced myself to sign up for a yoga teaching course, I didn’t know why I did it. The teacher asked everyone in one of the first few classes – do you want to become a teacher? My answer was maybe, at certain point in my life if I get good at it (still far from it).

I am now in that phase of my yoga journey when I’ve become physically capable of doing most asanas (I must add not perfect yet) but still wondering “What is Yoga really? ”

Recently I started teaching basic yoga to some of my friends and family – they were the only ones who were brave enough to take the risk. And during these sessions I found myself explaining to them – “Yoga is not an exercise regime, it’s about wellness. A way of life.” Essentially the word means “Union”, the union of mind, body and soul – some would say. Or the “Union of oneself with the nature”. Easier said than done, one of my friends chimed. I couldn’t find myself to deny that and just smiled in response.

I read somewhere on the Internet of all things that Yoga is “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.” Well that sounds amazing, apart from the fact that the religion of Hinduism has nothing to do with it! Yes, it was written about and established by saints at the time when Hindu religion was going strong in India. But that would be the equivalent of saying that Pilates is a “Nazi system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness.” Although Pilates was developed during the first world war, Nazism was not even coined at the time even though Hitler was serving in the German army, he had not yet taken control of Germany. Pilates has nothing to do with Nazism, just like Yoga has no religious link – plain and simple.

Living in the moment has become hip these days, but how many people are doing it? If you actively start doing it, that would mean just enjoying the present and not thinking about the future. You earn 3000$ a month, you spend it all, have a great time and live from month to month. Not sure if that’s a good idea. But does it have to be financial all the time?

Living in the moment could also mean, enjoying small mercies in life, that great cup of coffee; the sweet taste of fresh fruit in your mouth; spending time with your loved ones. And then the more basic stuff – you’re still alive and kicking; still able to breath and enjoy the sunrise and sunset, able to walk and get around.

If I were to quote Sadhguru, founder of Isha foundation his definition of Yoga is “that which brings you to reality. Literally, it means “union.” Union means it brings you to the ultimate reality, where individual manifestations of life are surface bubbles in the process of creation. Right now, a coconut tree and a mango tree have popped up from the same earth. From the same earth, the human body and so many creatures have popped up. It is all the same earth.”

When one is practicing Yoga, your mind is focusing on getting that asana right, getting the breathing right, that pain in your thighs during Utkatasana, the rhythm of movement during Suryanamaskara. You’re at that time living in the moment 🙂 So one could say that Yoga teaches you and trains your mind to live in the moment.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4 The Theory

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4  The Theory

Love the theory part, not so much that I like to read now, but so relax and easy that someone there talk and I listen, the science, the philosophy, the art, and the stories.

I had already much forgotten to recall exactly how many years from the day I enjoy listening to the teacher’s classroom teaching.

It’s back to my old golden days.

After all, after reading for so many years, my eye sights getting bad. Just packed up all my books into 26 cartons of boxes while preparing to move them to another location.

After this course, I think, likely will start collecting and pick up again, books on the Yoga’s title.

It’s pleasant reading on the Yoga Sutra, though initially having difficulties and hard time stirring my tongues over the Sanskrit words and trying to figure out what’s the meaning by reading the long explanation inside the manual, which eventually made me more confused.

Lucky enough, I managed to find and organized from the internet.
Well, IF, I meant “IF”, If I have the time, likely will add on to it’s German and Chinese or even other languages translation at my leisure if I can find it.

Here share if you need.

Here go we happy Journey to Yoga Lifestyle.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra Translation Sanskrit to English

 

汇编 Complied by Angie Chua 20190909.

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

 

Oh my goddess pose!

This is the pose to do for everyone who wants to leave negative feelings behind, be opened and overcome a broken heart. Goddess pose reminds you that you are in charge of your happiness!

The sanskirt name states how strong this pose is working for you – Utkata Konasana, where utkata means powerful or fierce (kona means angle). Fierce is represented in the angle of the legs but also in the strength and determination built through mastering this pose. In addition to lighten your emotions, drawing energy form the universe and empowering yourself for challenges to come, this pose also gives a nice workout on your quadriceps, hip groins, chest and inner thighs.

To get into the pose start in Tadasana, place your hands on your hips and then bring your feet about three to four feet apart. Turn your heels in and toes out to pointing in the corner of your mat. Bend your knees deeply so that they are aligned directly over your toes and lower your hips into a squat. Work your thighs to be parallel to the floor. Keep your hands on your hips, place them at heart centre or extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with your palms facing down, before turning your thumbs up toward the ceiling, so that your palms face forward. Bend your elbows and point your fingertips toward the sky; your upper arms and forearms should be at a 90-degree angle. Tailbone is drawn in slightly and hips are pressed forward, while drawing your thighs back. Roll your shoulders down your back and fix your gaze.

Utkata Konasana heats your body and allows a good circulation. This is a pose which develops outer and inner power at the same time and balances the body inside and out. The main chakra tackled in this pose is the svadisthana chakra (second chakra) that sits in the lower abdomen and pelvic area. This chakra is linked to self-esteem, fertility, loving yourself and consciousness of the own body. Practice this pose at seaside to really feel the drawing of energy from the universe when staying in Utkata Konasana.

 So next time you want to say oh my G…. just inhale and exhale deeply and get into goddess pose to balance yourself inside and out!

BG

Asteya – Mind and Body

Asteya is the fourth Yama of Patanjali’s Five Yamas of the Yoga Sutras. Asteya has been called non-stealing, non-covetousness, even non-desirousness, which essentially means non-jealousy. Just like the other Yamas & Niyamas , ‘non-stealing’ means so much more than not physically taking something from someone else.
The meaning behind Asteya refers to our actions, words and even our thoughts. You may be thinking, “I don’t think about stealing things all the time or at all.” but it means so much more than physical theft. To steal or ‘steya‘ pretty much means to take something that we are not entitled to. It can also refer to the thoughts we might have about something we desire but do not yet possess. To forsake a want and not have the desire to possess is Asteya.
One of the challenges of humanity is the inborn capacity to cause harm, be dishonest, steal, be greedy and jealous.
Asteya typically arises when:

  • We feel insecure – We think that “we are not good enough…” Because we are insecure, we feel incomplete and thus desire to have more, thinking it would complete us and make us whole.
  • We are jealous – We have what we need, but because someone else has something more, like a bigger car, nicer handbag, we feel the need to want more so that we can fit into the material society.
  • We rob ourselves away from our true self – this can mean changing our demeanour to satisfy someone just to be accepted.

In yoga asana practice, I find myself constantly reminding myself to practice Asteya. There is always the desire to be able to master that arm balance, inversion or pose that everyone else seems to be able to breeze through. I used to push myself to stretch deeper, reach further and hold longer. It was unnatural and unsatisfying because I knew my body was not ready back then. It also often led to more frequent visits to my chiropractor.
I was fortunate to have a very good yoga teacher who constantly reassures us that we should never push ourselves beyond our limits. One great example was when I was learning to do headstand. He would help me after class and kept asking me what’s the rush, there’s no need to compare? He insisted that I should be patient and keep walking forward until I can comfortably hold in “hip over shoulders” position for 1 minute. He also reminded me to observe the sensations of that position and stretch before I proceed to lift my legs. I tried and practiced the routine daily and a week later, I was surprised how I was able to casually lift my legs off the mat.
Over time, I’ve learnt to accept myself and my body’s limitations. Without the desire to achieve certain poses just because someone else could, I was able to bring awareness to my breath and body and understand what I can or cannot do. I surprised myself because, despite being unable to achieve some of the poses I desire, I was happy because I was listening to my body and working with my true self and capabilities.
I leave you with this quote by Swami Sivananda, which is so true and precious –

“If you are established in non-stealing, all wealth will come to you”

Namaste
Mabel
200hr YTT Vinyasa Flow Weekend

The Three Gunas

Written by Kyra Clarke with inputs from Master Paalu

The Three Gunas have been defined as ‘the three fundamental qualities’ (A Sanskrit-English Dictionary 1866). That is, they are the fundamental ways of characterising people, foods, etc. These characteristics are present in all of us in different quantities and degree, combining to make a whole: we all have parts of the three gunas within our personalities. These characteristics cannot be judged as good or bad, positive or negative. Instead, what is most important is that we learn to recognise the three gunas and become aware of their effect on our lives. An experience of any of the gunas is only pure once we recognise them and create something or enhance or step away from our experience of them. The experience of them should be the instigator nor the stimulus to perform any future actions.

 

Traditionally, tamas means darkness – in Master Paalu’s words, leeching from others. An example might be using others to achieve your own goals while never giving back. In our lives it is important to reduce the influence of this guna. Refusal to come to light of things and using others’ efforts as a platform with little or no contribution from the individual to grow, taking full credit for the growth, if any. In relation to food, Tamasic food refers to, food that is not generated from the fundamental 5 compounds of nature primarily, namely fire, earth, water, space and air. On the other hand food is consumed through third party processing namely an animal or by processing it via machines. For example, when a chicken is consumed, the chicken is third hand protein, carbo or nutrients. The chicken would have consumed the worms or other food to grow its flesh. By consuming the chicken we also accumulate all those food consumed and processed by the chicken’s bodily systems.

 

My understanding of rajas comes from experiences of anger, although in translations from Sanskrit, rajas has been defined as ‘passion’ among other things. Rajas includes those things that stimulate us and get us fired up, although we must not become dependent on such stimulation in our daily lives.

 

For example, it would be ineffective for me to rely on becoming angry in order to get any work done. And yet, anger is one emotion that can be useful in gaining awareness of feelings and the gunas’ impact on our lives.

 

If I recognise how I feel when I am angry and why I become angry, I can recognise these feelings in future and thus manage my anger and direct it more usefully and creatively.

 

The definition of sattva as ‘essence’ (A Sanskrit-English Dictionary 1866) I believe is useful in understanding it – an essence can be the truth of something, but it can also mean getting to its core. Sattvic foods are those foods that are natural and fresh, containing the core nutrients that we need to survive.

 

In our lives, sattva can mean with time, work and discipline that we get beyond the comparisons and judgements we make constantly with each other and instead work on sharing and learning with others – coming to understand one another.

 

None of the three gunas may be regarded as good or bad as it is only in acknowledging these aspects that we can move forward. In this way, coming to purity within the three gunas may be viewed in a similar way to Jnana yoga (wisdom).

 

This requires combining the knowledge that we gather in our lives, experience and understanding of this knowledge, but also our own input, our creativity, to make something new and original. It is only through the combination of these elements that wisdom is found, but also purity in the three gunas.

 

Comparisons may also be made between the three gunas and the first three chakras. Muladhara, our root foundation (earth) located at the base of the spine may be considered as our animal instincts, our constant need for safety/security, food, water and lust. When these needs are the focus of our lives, the chakra spins anti-clockwise.

 

Like tamas, the influence of this chakra in our lives must be dissolved as much as possible, so that we can move on and above to the higher chakras.

 

Swadhisthana, self abode (water) in many ways may be seen to contain similar elements to those found in an understanding of sattva. When this chakra is spinning in an anticlockwise direction, our experiences may focus on jealousy, requirements for attention, success or indulgence. However when it turns in a clockwise direction it may be viewed as a sharing chakra, we want others to do well, indeed to do better than ourselves, to want success but not be obsessed with it, to perform better every day instead of comparing ourselves to an unseen goal, to enjoy our indulgences but reduce the quantity. That is this chakra may be viewed as self love, and loving the self completely, totally. Without loving yourself completely, it become close to impossible to love someone or something as it is.

 

The third chakra, manipura, jewel city (fire) is the position from which we transform, but in order to do so we need to fire up to rise above encumbrances. So just as in rajas we transform anger into creativity, here we can use these negative aspects of our lives to take a step forward into the higher chakras of Anahata, Vishuddha and Ajna.

 

More importantly, once we step beyond this chakra we can act creatively without the need for stimulation – that is, we can understand more clearly how to break the negative patterns in our lives in order to move forward and with this knowledge can do so more easily.

 

In this way, just as our knowledge, experience and creativity brings wisdom and our understanding and experience of the three gunas will bring us to purity, our internal knowledge, understanding, experience and acknowledgement of these three chakras can bring us to higher chakras and thus higher planes of experience.

 

(1866) A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Longmans, Green and Co: London. Found at http://books.google.com.au/books?id=MDEOAAAAIAAJ&vq=sattva&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Pranayama – rediscover your best friend

 

Our journey on this earth will start and end with a single breath. Yet most of us have forgotten that breathing is so essential to our life. In our day to day life we are oblivious to it. And in truth we are really bad at it, well at least I know I was. I really wish I’d been taught how to breathe better at school or as part of physical education. It is a skill we would really benefit from an early age and for the long term…

 

The great gift of the breath is that it is also a volontary action, so we can take control and train our breath, with care.

 

First by just paying attention, how is our breathing pattern in this instant? Is my breathing long, deep, shallow, fast? Do I have a dominant nostril? Is the breathing pattern flowing smoothly or restrained in some areas? Gaining awareness of our breath is already a major first step.

 

Then by acting on the breath through Pranayama. What would be the most beneficial practice in this instant?, would it be to try to calm your mental state?, to energise you?, to balance your left and right channels?, to deepen your breath, making the inhale and/or exhale longer?

 

There are many different techniques depending on the benefit one is looking for. It doesn’t necessarily take long 10′ can be sufficient, although 20-40′ are recommended. Befriend your breath again and the changes will happen through a steady and regular practice. Remember there is no rush as this is one a few activity we’ll be able to practice till the end of our life 😉

Chakra galaxies

The chakras are the energy centers of our body. They are connected to our spinal cord and, on the physical plane, with different organs and parts of our body.

Whilst many people refer to the chakras as wheels or dots of energy, it is useful to visualise them as clouds or galaxies of energy. It entails several benefits:
– it gives a sense of dimension in space (3D perspective), whilst a wheel might cue a presence on a single plane only
– energy systems have boundaries that are less defined than what a wheel or dot suggest. Where does a cloud start? Where does it end?
– it illustrates the fact that chakras are constantly moving and shifting. They are very dynamic in nature and will their state will shift rapidly. They are vortices of energy, moving around a central axis, like galaxies do.
– they are complex systems, including sub dimensions and elements, like a galaxy would comprise several sun systems, each orbiting and moving within the parent system. This has been traditionally represented by the petals associated with each chakra symbol. For example, Muladhara, the root chakra located on the sacrum at the base of the spine, has 4 petals, ie 4 sub dimensions and qualities that will influence the overall dynamic and health of the chakra. When a sub system is unbalanced it will affect the overall balance of the chakra.
– as with any dynamic system, shifts are quite subtle and inter-related. This contrasts with some interpretations of the chakras that are quite  bipolar (chakra open vs close, positive vs negative rotation).
Overall analogies and metaphors are tools to help comprehension but they are limited in nature and nothing will beat one’s own experience of his/her own energy moving in the body, yet, till then, having relevant and powerful analogies can help grasp this complex and subtle subject a bit better. So when thinking about chakras, think about galaxies and how they move and influence your body and mental states.