“If you want peace and purity, melt away your coverings…let a streaming beauty flow through you.” – Rumi
This week we continue our quest to support a steady yoga practice by looking at the second limb of the yoga system called niyamas or observances. There are five niyamas and the first is shaucha or purity.
By observing purity, we endeavor to lift ourselves to a higher, clearer and more peaceful state at all levels: intellectual, verbal and physical.
Remember the most essential aspect of healthy yoga is going inward and growing more mindful with each breath. Let us not get distracted by “getting better” at yoga with our drive to achieve more. Instead, let us focus on deepening our relationship with our bodies in a way that is empowering and mindful.
One of the most difficult yamas (restraints) within the 8 limb-fold system of yoga to define is brahmacharya.
Literally, it means celibacy. However, it can also be defined as non-sensuality, which is the detachment from fulfilling the senses.
…we should progressively embrace what is real for us, so that we may find health and harmony. As you go deeper into yoga, remember that you are doing this study in order to remember yourself, to come home to all of you… – Rolf Gates
In our practices this week, let’s focus on the second ethical quality or yama known as truthfulness. As a moral principle, truthfulness or satya, as it is called in Sanskrit, asks us to convey truth responsibly. Like the other yamas, we should consider truthfulness in thought, speech and action.
Remember, there is a natural ebb and flow to everyone’s practice. B.K.S. Iyengar said, “a yoga practice waxes and wanes like the moon. Sometimes our work is bright and shiny, like the full moon, while at other times it feels dark as when the moon is new. Realize that the cycle of yoga practice is not 24 hours, weekly or even monthly but spread out over a lifetime.”
“Feel the life force flowing from you and drawing into you from the atmosphere: from the rain, from the sky, from the air around you and the stars and the moon and the sun, and everything that exists that represents energy.” -Rudi
Our “pillar” this week is to do some “mind clearing.”
Today I am introducing what may be the most effective concentration/meditation technique that I have encountered in my training and practice. It frequently helps to remove the attachments and fluctuations from my mind so that I can focus on my breath and generate positive energy.
The technique is called Hong Sau – a name that originates from the Sanskrit word Hamsa which means Holy Gander (that migrates back to its spiritual home). Its concept is symbolic. Geese migrate or wander; yet no matter how far they fly from home, they always return. Like the gander, we strive to migrate back to our higher self or spiritual nest so that we may experience joy and contentment. Continue reading “Migrate Back to Your Spiritual Nest”→
This past week, I completed a wonderful detox diet that I discovered in Yoga Journal several years ago. Because the reference is difficult to locate on the web nowadays and I have had so many requests, I will link it here as I address this week’s subject of detoxification.
Tool #1: Diet
Scott Blossom, practitioner of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and yoga has developed an effective and balanced cleansing diet that I have tried numerous times over the years. It was originally presented as part of a Fall Detox program. Since summer is officially winding down, now is the perfect opportunity to share some of his recipes with you.
Balance is a deep subject. There are so many levels to consider. We may look to balance ourselves through yoga but in reality what we are actually striving to balance is our energies. The basic nature of ourselves. We want to be calm yet alert, active but stable, open and centered, lifted and grounded, receptive yet detached… the list can go on and on.
There is a sanskrit term that labels the idea of balance. It’s called Samana. Samana is defined as “equal”, “like”, “staying in the middle” or “straight”.
Samana also describes one of the five vayus or winds. A vayu is an energetic component with a distinct flow or function. The samana type of energy moves from the periphery to the core and unifies (or balances) the upward energy called prana and the downward energy named apana. Since samana vayu is the meeting point between the upward and downward energies, it is called the “balancing air.”
The samana vayu also governs the digestive fire which burns brightly when prana and apana unite. Twists are the yoga postures that most relate to this blend of upward and downward energies. When we rotate the spine, we essentially energize our digestive systems.
Another connection to samana is the practice of samavritti or “same wave” breathing. It is a simple method of matching the length of the inhalations to the length of the exhalations. A nice time to practice samavritti is upon waking as it provides an energetic effect. It’s the perfect preparation for an early morning meditation!
This week, strive to cultivate your samana vayu by bringing your sense of alertness into balance with your ability to remain calm. As you lengthen, ground and as you stabilize, find ease. Take in what you need and release what no longer serves you. Incorporate twists and samavritti into your daily routine.
You can also apply this practice to the various segments of your “life wheel.” Look closely at the amount of energy you spend on your job, your health, your hobbies, your family or any other areas in your life. Reflect on how these energies can be more balanced.