Lesson Three from Pondicherry, India

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

We have a saying here at the Ashram.  Where the mind goes, Prana flows.  Prana is energy.  Where is your mind?  Are you focused on the chaos of daily city life?  Are you surrounded by drama?  Does your mind constantly race uncontrollably?  Does it seem like there is never peace?  Are you focused on some form of constant physical discomfort?  Are your emotions all over the place?  All these questions are common in today’s society; we become mentally and physically conditioned to accept them.  Whether it be from the constant barrage of advertising specifically designed to elicit an emotion reaction or the need to constantly multi-task caused by the type of work that we perform to earn a living.  The reality is that first and foremost we attract all of this chaos, usually from some form of social conditioning deep in our subconscious.  Some of it is deep in our subconscious just from being a human being!  And then our mind continually goes to these traumas of the mind, and that is where all our Prana goes.

There is good news, these conditions can all be overcome – with Yoga!

In this week’s lesson, we explore the definition of Yoga, and there are many.  These are the definitions as taught by our Rishis and have been used for thousands of years, and will be the two definitions that we will use as the Ripple Yoga community grows and flourishes.

Yoga is a Way of Life.  Yoga is not just something that we do once or twice a week where we get together and make different shapes with our bodies to a rocking playlist.  Some believe that is yoga, it is not.  Our guru calls it “Neoyoga” or “yoga calisthentics”.  In either case it is not yoga, it is something that people are calling yoga because they have not been taught correctly what yoga is.  Even people that own studios and teach!  If we want to call ourselves a yogi, then we must be honest with ourselves about what it is.  That means “living it” or “walking the walk” to the best of our ability.  This means having awareness in our actions and deeds, and thinking through and making decisions based on right action, right ethics, right time with the right people.  It means performing service for others with the expectations of nothing in return.  It means striving every day to evolve into the best version of you that you can be.  Which brings us to the next definition of yoga!

Yoga is Conscious Evolution.  To understand this, we must understand how the brain works.  We have 3 primary centers in the brain.  The reflexive portion of the brain which is at the base of the skull on the back.  This part of the brain controls animalistic functions and behaviors including all involuntary functions such as breathing.  Above that is the Limpic system.  This is where all of our emotions reside.  And on the front of the head behind the forehead is the neo-cortex.  This is where our higher conscious exists, our humanness.  The purpose of Yoga is to develop the neo-cortex to take over the other 2 parts of the brain, and it has been medically proven to do just that.  However, our animal and emotional instinct is strong, this is why we see such drama and emotionalism in the world.  This is why we see advertisers and politicians, to name a few, aiming their messaging to this part of the brain.  Higher evolved humans wouldn’t tolerate such nonsense!!!  As we advance in Yoga, and this does not mean advancing to the ability to a handstand), we increase our conscious awareness of self.  The practice of Yoga is the set of tools that allows us to consciously evolve.

 

Enjoy, keep practicing, keep evolving and so much more to come!!  As always if you have any questions, you can email me at gary@rippleyoga.com.

Namaste friends

Gary

Lesson Two from Pondicherry, India

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

It has now been two weeks since I departed Seattle for Sadhana in India.  Life at the Ashram here in Pondicherry is demanding.  We are fully immersed in the yogic lifestyle, living by our principals (Yamas and Niyamas, the first two of the 8 limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga system.  These include a strict vegetarian diet, celibacy, and regular rhythm in our practice and daily routines.  We continually practice Karma Yoga, service to others, as it is one path to enlightenment.

I am reminded that as a human being we have responsibilities, and these responsibilities are to serve others.  The service of self is a path to self-destruction and unhappiness.  People often remark to me on my happiness, and the answer is simple, I find as many ways as I can each day to help another human being, to be of service, including teaching yoga to the beautiful Ripple Community.  Even in Sadhana 10,000 miles away.

In this week’s lesson, we discuss the importance of Pranayama.  “Prana” means “energy or breath” and “Yama” is ”to control.”  Therefore Pranayama is to control energy or breath.  This is the fourth limb of yoga, and it is vital to any yoga practice.  Here at the Ashram, we practice Pranayama at least 5 hours a day.  Did you know that most people breathe just enough to stay alive?  Including you?  Shocking, isn’t it.  Shallow breathing is the cause of a litany of medical issues in the physical body including blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and many more!  It is also the cause of mental stress because shallow breathing tells the mind to get up and go, rather than relax.

Get to the studio 5 minutes before class.  You can also do this in the morning.  Sit on your mat in Vajrasana, or thunderbolt posture.  This is sitting with the hips to heels and the spine erect.  The hands can be placed face down on the thighs, fingers together.  Close the eyes, inhale exhale, and silently chant “Om” to yourself 3 times on the exhale.  From there, breath into the full lungs, belly, mid-section and top, for a minimum of 4 seconds.  Exhale for the same 4 seconds, squeezing all the air out.  You can do this for up to 8 seconds depending on your lung capacity.  Do this for at least 5 minutes, if not longer, and on your final 3 breaths exhale “Om” to yourself.  You will notice that you are more relaxed and more at ease, and ready for practice!  You can do this in the morning, mid-day and at night before bed in addition to before your practice.  Enjoy and as always if you have any questions, you can email me at gary@rippleyoga.com.

Namaste friends

Gary

Lesson One from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community Namaste from Pondicherry, India.

I have arrived in Pondicherry and Friday begin the exploration and leveling of self that is yoga.  For after all, this is the true nature of yoga, to discover self.  If we peel the layers of awareness we as we discover them, we find that we explore the physical first, then the conscious mental, the subconscious mental and finally the awareness of our own awareness, which is referred to as cosmic consciousness.

Yoga cannot be achieved with the 3 R’s, and they are not reading, writing and arithmetic!!!  We are talking about Repetition, Rhythm, Regularity.  Sometimes we make excuses to ourselves as to why we cannot practice, telling ourselves that other external factors in our life are more important.  Ask yourself with honesty, what is more important than your own personal growth and awareness?  If indeed you were to commit to expanding your own personal growth and awareness, wouldn’t this then improve the external factors that were “preventing” you from practice in the first place?  Apply the principals of Repetition, Rhythm and Regularity and soar!!!

Each week you will have the opportunity to read and absorb a practical lesson from me that can be utilized and incorporated into your practice.  Sometimes these lessons will be very mental in nature and it may seem to you that it has nothing to do with your tight shoulders or hamstrings!!  Take heart, by reading and taking these lessons seriously, and incorporating them into your practice, you are agreeing to either step on or continue your yogic path!!

Today’s lesson is a brief synopsis of the first and second sutras from the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, the basis of the Raja System of Ashtanga Yoga, what I am studying here in India.  These two sutras are the what and why of yoga.  In short, what it is and why we practice, and the foundation for the remaining 190+ sutras.  Sutras are simply short thoughts, and the translation means “strings”.

Yoga Sutra One:  Atha Yoganusasanam – Now the exposition (instruction) of yoga is being made.  This means that the practice of yoga is based on instruction and not mere words and philosophy.  Without practice, nothing can be achieved.  As the student, we must always take action, and that action is the practice.

Yoga Sutra Two:  Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah – The restraint and modifications of the mind stuff is Yoga.  If you are keen in study, this sutra explains yoga as the rest of the sutras go on to expound upon this one.  If we can restrain the mind of mental modifications, then the goal of yoga is reached.  Our practice, in its many forms, is what allows us to achieve this.

I ask that you ponder these thoughts as you continue with your practice.  They have very deep and effective meaning to any one that is truthfully seeking an actively self-aware life.  As you apply these thoughts in your practice and in your life, continue to soar – you inspire by the actions that you take!!

I will leave you with this thought – Mana eva manusyanam karanam bandha moksayoh.  This means “As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your own mind.”

Namaste friends

Gary