This series was intended to be a series of short practical essays on yoga but evolved into a video presentation with the very first one. It was felt that this format may make it easier to learn with the main points in video and audio at the same time. The rest in the series started off the same way with writing the main points to be covered and some detail but the audio recording gave room for expansion of content. I was freer on the audio and so it contained more than the text. Now, we have a fusion between the earlier text and the spoken word, now transcribed. Light editing was necessary to make this a stand-alone work without the video or audio or as a guide.
The first talk has been broken-up into a small introduction on raja yoga, yama and niyama as separate topics to flow better in line with the eight limbs of yoga. Asanas and pranayama have also separate topics in this version. Samadhi has not been dealt with in this series. At the very end, you will find the guided discussion in a user friendly format which will also be available on the website as a separate download.
Yoga, spiritual life or religion is not coffee table discussion stuff but practice—and all of life is the mat of practice, not just the little prayer area or a room in some building. Swami Sivananda writes, "An ounce of practice is worth more than ten tons of theory".
This is intended as a practical guide, one to read now and practice now as you go along. Theory must give way to practice and practice to experience. Experience shapes understanding and checks habit. The mat of practice involves all of life, not just the sitting area. We must be able to sit inwardly or be steady while we are standing, walking and doing all that we do. This inward sitting is what yoga calls asana, not just an exercise posture.
This inward sitting is something all can and should do as it removes impurities in the mind or habit and paves the way for one's true nature to unfold. This double-sided single action is the purpose of yoga, religion, spirituality: the removal of impurities so one's true nature can be seen. When spirituality enters life, life enters spirituality. Practice diligently.
Raja yoga is a direct way to restore good health to the entire system, understand and transcend all limitations in the mind. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali lays out the system of raja yoga with eight limbs which is also called ashtanga yoga. It is better to consider them as limbs belonging to one organ and best if practiced together.
Any change must start very close—with our attitude towards everything in life. How we see things is what we see. It is here that we must start for any real change, as the triggers of action or the response mechanism lie in our attitude towards people, things and conditions.
To save money, we must have income, avoid unnecessary expenses and have a good savings plan. Similarly, for change, we must avoid the all that is counter-productive to overall health—mental and physical.
We struggle with avoiding what is counter-productive in change only because we have not at the same time started functioning in ways that are productive or helpful to our aspiration. When we start functioning in ways that contribute to our aspiration, we turn our back on habit without struggle. When you face the light, the shadow is not seen; when you eat what is healthy, you are avoiding what is unhealthy—there is no struggle because the energy that used to flow in habit is given new direction which you have already embraced.
To wholeheartedly want change is requisite. You cannot sit on the fence and try to renew the old with the new. Change is not a cosmetic inner paint-job—it is making new. The heart has to be new for anything it wishes to renew or there will be endless struggle and pain.
Yama is avoiding the counter-productive and niyama is a positive choice in place of habit. Both of these have to be practiced simultaneously as they are the keys to restoration of good mental and physical health or well-being.
1. Yama: Avoiding the Counter-Productive - There is one common video and audio for yama and niyama though I have broken up the text pages (7 May 2012)
2. Niyama: Better Options Instead - There is one common video and audio for yama and niyama though I have broken up the text pages (7 May 2012)
3. Asana - There is one common video and audio for asana and pranayama though I have broken up the text pages (9 May 2012)
4. Pranayama - There is one common video and audio for asana and pranayama though I have broken up the text pages (9 May 2012)
Practice charts & posters:
Asana and Pranayama Practice Chart (pdf - page size)
Suryanamaskar Chart (jpeg image - page size)
Yoga Asana Chart (jpeg image - poster size)
5. Pratyahara - There is one common video and audio for pratyahara and dharana though I have broken up the text pages (22 May 2012)
6. Dharana - There is one common video and audio for pratyahara and dharana though I have broken up the text pages (22 May 2012)
7. Dhyana or Meditation (2 July 2012)
What follows below are guided meditations in three parts.
Meditation 101: Stabilization - A guided meditation video, first of three parts. (19 July 2012)
Meditation 201: Mastery of Mind - A guided meditation video preceeded by a ten minute talk on awareness. (27 July 2012)
Meditation 301: Self-Inquiry - A guided meditation video preceeded by a short 11 minute talk on inquiry. (10 August 2012)
eBooks, Quick Reference and Posters
eBook for readers (Optmized for most readers, size 5.5 x 8.5 inches)
eBook for print (Optimized for print on regular sized paper 8.5 x 11 inches)
Guide to Meditation (Concise booklet with the complete flow of meditation that can be printed on one sheet, double sided and folded in half to make a handy booklet. Though this goes through from Meditation 101 through 301, it has markers where it moves on and you can stop where you feel best till you are ready to move on) Click here to download
Yoga Asana Poster (Can print up to 30 inches wide by 20 inches tall or smaller without any loss – just make sure it fits the size selected. Large sized prints can be printed at most online photo places and very reasonable at club stores)
Suryanamaskar Chart (prints on regular sized paper (8 ½ x 11) or photo paper)
Asana and Pranayama Practice Chart (pdf - page size)
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