from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta

Monday, 14 April 2014

Swami Bua, contemporary of Krishnamacharya

This is curious.

I was sent a link to a video presenting the/a practice taught by Swami Bua (1989-2012) by a friend this week. Very curious, it looks like vinyasa and yet supposedly the breath is independent of the movement. The privacy settings on the video don't allow me to embed it here but heres the link followed by a couple of stills.

It's the movement in and out of asana that make this particularly interesting, we've always tended to associate that with Krishnamacharya, the other contemporary styles were presented as more static in comparison. But here we have Swami Bua and a style of yoga that...moves.

And Swami Bua was a contemporary of Krishnamacharya, Swami Bua was supposedly born in 1889, Krishnamacharya in 1888. Did one encounter the other? Swami Bua was supposedly a wrestler in his youth, is this the connection to the wrestling tradition alluded to by Sjoman and Singleton. Did Krishnamacharya encounter Swami Bua and then introduce the strong breath focus, linking each breath to each movement or was it the other way around. Did Swami Bua perhaps encounter Krishnamacharya and add asana and vinyasa to his wrestling practice.

There is the suggestion that Swami Bua was a student of Sivananda

Swami Bua was in the US teaching in the 60s, Ashtanga didn't come west until the 70s.

Here's a link to part of a class practicing what looks like the sequence in the first video above

And here's my friend Scott's experience of studying with Swami Bua in the 80s

Studying with Swami Bua
"In my earlier email I mentioned my old teacher, Swami Bua (died in 2010 
just shy of his 121st birthday), this is the asana routine he used to 
teach. I went to these classes in the late 80s, a few years before I 
learned Ashtanga, after that I saw him just for pranayama and 
meditation, so the similarity never occurred to me. I don't remember his 
classes being so flowing, but I do remember he never held the poses 
long, but he would sometimes repeat them. As far as I know he had no 
connection with Jois or Krishnamacharya but this looks like vinyasa to 
me and must go way back, he was teaching in this country at least since 
the 60s. I know nothing about the video, the model, or anything else, I 
found it on one of those blogs you link to. I don't know what "series 1" 
means since this was his regular class and I don't recall him teaching a 
more advanced class. It does seem to be his Manhattan apartment, but 
hard to tell since the quality is so bad. His sun salutes were 
something, far more complex than I've ever seen elsewhere and I'm glad I 
have this video to re-learn them.

The thing about Swami was that he insisted that we *not* synchronize 
breathing with movement. It's quite different and counter-intuitive, but 
worth trying, it's very interesting.

He at one time had been a wrestler, and had a body-weight strength 
routine you can see here:   
I'm guessing this has little to do with Yoga but I think elements snuck 
into his asana routine, or vice versa. There's one, about 3/4 in, that's 
like chaturanga, but with the hands wide and you move from side to side, 
I've done it, it's quite intense.

I think he had other things to teach as well that I never was exposed 
to, but wish I had been. I remember one day, we were sitting in his 
living room doing pranayama, there was a screen and on the other side 
one of his senior students was doing something, all I could hear was 
heavy breathing, slapping and a lot of rapid moving around, like 
aerobics, and when the guy came out he was drenched. I'd really like to 
know what that was about. I wish I had asked". J. Scott Moore

After receiving this I mentioned to Scott that i might put up a post, he responded by sending me everything he remembers about studying with Swami Bua, see the end of the post for the full article.

Some stills from the Swami Bua memorial (full memorial video below).

A couple of pictures that make me very curious.....

I can't read this, be curious to know what's written under Hatha yoga 

Swami Bua is on his knees here in lotus, he actually walk's back and forth in the video.
Swami Bua was a wrestler in his youth and there has always been that suggestion of... cross fertilisation between yoga and the Indian wrestling tradition.

Here is a section with the slides above and film of Swami Bua practicing taken from the full memorial video.

Below is the full memorial video

The full article from Scott regarding his experience studying with Swami Bua

My studies with Swami Bua J. Scott Moore

I’m writing here basically everything I can remember about Swami Bua. I hope that what he taught can be preserved, and perhaps I can assist that a little. 
These comments are memories of my experience with Swami Bua. I can only vouch for what I saw and heard, and some of this may contradict what others have said. The obvious thing, on reading my comments, is how I could not have been more grateful, or taken greater advantage, of the opportunity of learning with him. All I can say is my own darkness and ego prevented me from seeing what a tremendous gift the universe had given me by leading me to him. 
Some of my comments below will relate to my disability. I had polio at age 2, with residual paralysis below my diaphragm. I’ve had extensive orthopedic surgery, I have weakness in my legs and can’t spend too much time on my feet. As far as yoga is concerned, I have a lot of tightness in my hips and there are many things I’ll never be able to do. 
About his age: I would love to have seen his passport. From what I heard he refused to talk about his age and I never asked, but there’s plenty of evidence to confirm that he was born sometime around 1889. Students who knew him in the 1960s said he seemed to be in his 70s then. I’ve heard about, but not seen, a photo of him where he’s teaching Sai Baba when the latter was about 14 years old. Swami, in the photo, is middle-aged and has just a little gray in his beard. Sai Baba died a few years ago at 85. Interestingly, Swami kept a photo of Sai Baba on his desk. I did see, on Swami’s wall along with many other photos, a photo of Swami as a young man posing with Sivananda in an obvious teacher-student pose, their relative ages appearing to confirm that birth date. Also there were plenty of other photos there where the photography, background, objects like cars, etc., seemed to confirm it. 
After I finished grad school in 1981, I moved my present location, about an hour north of New York City, glad to live in a place where I could travel to a number of yoga classes. After a while a friend of mine told me about a class she had attended, where the teacher was over 90 years old. She cautioned that he was very cranky and sometimes shouted at his students, but somehow I figured if he was that old, he must know something. So, I called him up and soon after went to class.
He lived on the 11th floor in a high-rise on W. 58th St. in Manhattan, just west of Columbus Circle. It was a small, pretty standard one-bedroom apartment with no furniture in the living room other than a few chairs that looked like they came from a family restaurant, and a small desk that allowed him to sit at on the floor to write on. For the asana class on Saturday afternoons, I’d show up with about eight or 10 others. We’d sign up on a list, which was actually signing onto a legal disclaimer, and I’d leave five dollars. 
I didn’t have much interaction with him in those first few classes, but he seemed friendly enough. It was interesting, he seemed so light on his feet it looked like he was floating and his feet were just trying to keep up with the rest of him. He was hard of hearing, though, and talking with him was difficult in any case. He wasn’t always patient with people whom he couldn’t understand or couldn’t understand him.
He would take us through a strenuous class, which was difficult for me because about 15 minutes of it was standing poses, more than I was comfortable with. While my experience with yoga at that time was not great, I was struck by how long and complex the sun salutes were. He didn’t hold us in a single pose for very long, but sometimes repeated poses. 
Swami insisted that we never synchronize our breathing with our movement, they should be independent. I found that difficult to implement, but once I did, it produced pretty interesting results. 
Swami never referred to poses in their Sanskrit terms (and I’m not sure he ever referred to a pose in English either, he would just tell us what to do), and seemed very amused when people would try to use Sanskrit. He did, however, have a tall stack of very large books next to his chair, including a multivolume Sanskrit dictionary, and always seemed to be in the middle of writing something, so I believe he was well-versed in Sanskrit. 
I didn’t go to too many of these asana classes, since the standing poses were so difficult and I was in so much pain, but he started mentioning to me, and sometimes one or two other people, that we should show up Saturday morning for his pranayama class. Figuring I might have gotten as much out of the asana classes I could, and I had already been practicing pranayama from what I learned in books, I gave it a try.
For pranayama, typically three or four of us would be sitting in his living room on those wooden chairs any would give us instructions. He said we should never do retentions, and never taught any. He did teach us Agni Sar, which he apparently considered pranayama, and made the comment that it was more important to learn how to hold our breath with our lungs empty than with them full, but I’m not aware that he ever taught or practiced internal retentions.
Most of the class was just conventional kapalabhati and bhastrika, but the main thing was bhramari. It’s what we would start out with and spend the most time on. For most people, bhramari seems to be a minor pranayama, if it’s done at all. Swami’s version was different, though. He was careful to tell us not to use our vocal cords, but instead, constrict our throat below the vocal cords, enough to generate the humming sound. This changes it completely. It’s a wonderful exercise, and I would hate to see it die out with him gone.
When practicing bhramari, we would try to maintain a smooth sound but he was on the lookout for an uneven sound, that he compared with a truck trying to get up a steep hill. This was one exercise I could do very well, and drag out for a long time, and he made the comment, “you are well on your way.” He would also, with no prompting from me because it wasn’t something I was thinking about, talk about how my disability and trauma I had gone through with extensive orthopedic surgery, and say how that could possibly kick off kundalini. He mentioned that a couple of times, and talked about someone else, I think it might’ve been Sai Baba, who had been a normal kid, was bitten by a scorpion, went into a coma, and emerged as an enlightened being. Anyway, as it turned out, I was warned by a couple of other spiritual teachers that something like that was headed my way and a few years later I went through a kundalini emergence, so I guess he was right.
Swami was irascible and very difficult to deal with. I’d be doing pranayama, and would swallow my saliva in the middle of it and he would lose his temper. Of course if I didn’t swallow, I’d choke. He seemed to think I should just stop salivating and I never figured out how to do that. Of course he did the same thing once, when he was demonstrating something, so I guess I just don’t know. Couple of times we ended up shouting at each other, which I can’t, for the life of me, fathom why I did that.  I’ve never shouted at anybody else. 
Anyway we managed, and after a while he initiated me into pranayama. He assigned me ujjayi as my main pranayama which would be the focus of my practice, and said I should do the others just often enough that I don’t lose them. On one of my last visits to him, when I had already been ding Ashtanga for a while, which I never discussed with him, we were talking about something else when he stopped, he looked at me and said I should not do pranayama while doing asana. 
One day I showed up for pranayama, he seemed just a little sad or not himself, and mentioned that his teacher’s teacher had just died. Swami, at this time, would have been in his mid to late 90s. He said his teacher, who was still around, was 110. The guy that died, according to Swami, had been over 140. I wish I had tried to get a little more information.
I showed up one day, walked in the door, and he looked at me with what seemed to be a lot of anger. I thought he might have lost it, that perhaps he had gone senile (which didn’t seem like much of a stretch at that time), and couldn’t understand his mood, so I stopped going, feeling I wasn’t welcome any more. It didn’t seem like much was happening in my practice anyway.
Looking back, I think he didn’t realize that I don’t live in the area and couldn’t get there that often. Also, I think he was thinking in terms of the traditional guru-student relationship, which Westerners, or at least I, have difficulty understanding and dealing with. Furthermore, it seemed like he always thought he should have been accorded more respect, or esteem. He never specifically said so, but he would talk about the places he went before he settled in New York, like North Korea, and how well he had been treated in those places. I, being immature and kind of an idiot at the time, wasn’t really in the mood to encourage that kind of attitude. Also I remember once, earlier on, he had a sign there in his living room to the effect that it looked like they weren’t going to be able to raise the money for an ashram and they would have to make other plans. I just sensed disappointment in his students but I could be wrong.
Around 2004, after 20 years of practicing Zen meditation and realizing that I hadn’t really gotten anywhere, I gave up on Zen and started reading about Vedanta meditation, hoping that a better match for my aptitudes would mean more progress. Somehow I heard or came across a reference to Swami, called his phone number and unbelievably, found he was still alive, so I arranged an appointment with Swami. He looked much older, of course, and could hear very little at this point. I had to write my questions on a pad of paper and he would answer them verbally. After a couple of visits, he initiated me for the second time, this time in meditation. He gave me a mantra at that time. 
At that first visit after my absence, he didn’t remember me, and his eyes appeared cloudy, his left eye looking pretty bad and pointing to the upper left, apparently not useful. The second visit, he seemed much sharper, his left eye improved somewhat, and remembered not only teaching me in the late 80s and early 90s, but also meeting my wife back then. The third time, both eyes seemed perfect and he remembered even more but our earlier interactions. 
In 2005, I went to Swami for my last asana class. He refused to teach a class with only one person, so he called one of his students to come over and take the class with me. What I really wanted was to relearn the sun salutes, as I realized there was nothing like it elsewhere. He didn’t seem to want to do it, and instead the focus of the whole class seemed to be around my limitations and working with them. There were lots of leg lifts, variations on poses like dhanurasana (crossing the wrists, crossing the ankles etc.), shoulder stand, and just cycling through again and again so there are many repetitions of a small number of poses, mostly focused on strength. It was very productive, and when I can’t do Ashtanga for reasons of injury or whatever (which is usually at least a few days every week), I work in his poses in a non-vinyasa routine. I believe his version of cobra, where you lay face down, arms outstretched, and then gradually walk your hands in toward your chest, to be far better than any other version I’ve tried.
I only made a few visits to Swami after my long absence. Sometime around, I think, 2007 or so I was planning another visit and started making a list of questions. I called Swami, and a senior student answered who was conducting a yoga class in Swami’s place. He said Swami had gone back to India and would be back after a few months. Meanwhile, this person was teaching the classes. I checked in a few months later, there was no news on when Swami would be back and this person kept teaching the classes. I called back every few months, and it was the same thing, no news but he was pretty sure Swami would be back in a couple of months, but he sounded a tiny bit exasperated.
My calls became less and less frequent, until sometime in 2011 I did a web search and found articles about how Swami had passed away the previous summer. When I had started coming back to Swami, his daughter, Swarna, who seemed very glad to see me, had me write my name and contact information in a small notebook with a bunch of others. I always kind of thought that if something happened, I would’ve gotten a phone call or some kind of notice but I guess not.
Swami’s death affected me more than I would’ve expected, given our rather limited interaction. Perhaps it was the growing realization of just how I had neglected what had been a tremendous opportunity, and how I could have treated him with more respect or understanding.
Some time after learning of Swami’s passing, I called his number and his son-in-law answered. Knowing that he was associated with some organization or ashram in India, I asked if someone would be coming here to take over. He said that things were still in confusion and flux (even after about eight months, apparently they were taken by surprise by the whole thing, which is a little odd) but that someone would be coming to take over. I always kept in reserve the possibility that I would meet with that teacher and perhaps get a tuneup on my pranayama. 
As I write this, I just tried calling Swami’s number and found that it has been disconnected. I still have the numbers for one or two of his senior students, they haven’t answered but I’ll try them again. My focus these days is on Vipassana meditation, and Swami’s regular asana routine may be too much for me, so I haven’t been in a hurry to resolve some of these things. 
A few more memories come to mind. When I first met swami, he asked about my disability, and I told him I had had polio. He told me that he, too, had had polio, and in fact his feet seemed misshapen. At the second initiation, around 2005, in the middle of it he stopped, sat back and closed his eyes for a few moments. He then said I had never had polio, it was something in my family. I do recall discussion of there being a disagreement among the doctors when I got sick, and I’ve tried to do some family research to find out if there’s anything like this among my relatives but haven’t found anything. So that will remain a mystery.
I realize I only scratched the surface of what he could teach. One day, as we were sitting in his living room doing pranayama, there was a screen there and on the other side I could hear his senior student, at least that’s what I called the guy who was hanging around and taking care of all of Swami’s business, doing a very vigorous exercise. There was a lot of heavy breathing, slapping, rapid movements and when he came out from behind the screen, he was drenched in sweat. I’d like to know more about that exercise, whatever it was, and wish I had asked.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting a few quite remarkable, even enigmatic, people over the course of my yoga and spiritual practices. Swami was one of those people that will, to some degree, always be a mystery to me. One thing I’ve learned is that our normal, irritating and difficult behaviors don’t necessarily go away with spiritual realization. I see now what’s different about Swami and other teachers that I’ve been judgmental about is their orientation, what makes them tick and what they really try to accomplish. Swami was here just to help people, that’s all he wanted to do, and he had a very long time to do that.

And to close here is Swami bus leading a group through a relaxation practice.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

"The Pearl" or the influence of Mudra and Pranayama in the spiritual quest

Krishnamacharya's son Sri TK Sribhashyam's at Krishnamacharya's old 'Yoga school' in the Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore (scene from Breath of the Gods).
"The Pearl" or the influence of Mudra and Pranayama in the spiritual quest 
A seminar of Sri TK Sribhashyam in Neuchatel, 29.7. to 01.08.2006
from Yogakshemam Newsletter May 2007
This report was written in the hope to share at least part of the seminar with all those whose application could not be considered. The number of applications exceeded the number of available places in the beautiful yoga room in the heart of Neuchâtel, a four-fold.
Each term and each presented by Sri TK Sribhashyam concept was accompanied by appropriate exercises and a practical implementation. This allowed the participants a theoretical and practical approach to the subject. For obvious reasons it is unfortunately not be able to record the exercises and practice in this report.
The spiritual quest
The hectic pace and demands of modern life often require that we have to fight to get space for the spiritual quest of our lives freely and upright. Yoga is one of the means proposed to support this task. It allows us to nurture the spiritual element in us, and meditation, the non-material, the transcendental, to dedicate time. He helps us to approach God or the Creator.
Yoga recommends two elements to support our spirituality: breathing, pranayama, and postures, breathing and concentration include, Mudrā called.
There is in us, in the universe, in every living being, something invisible, not something material, something eternal, the soul, the spirit, no matter what name you give it. It is an aspect of God, or a reflection of the Creator. So how do we, the sun through its rays and the light that she gives us, perceive - it is part of our lives without us constantly think of it - just as it is with the Creator, He is there, in us, without which we are always aware.
Once we use the word "sun" Listen, we automatically visualize her picture. As for the soul, we often at first a picture, because the soul is beyond time and space and consequently has no form. Everything that has no form, is not tangible and does not acknowledge our existence!
In every spiritual quest must be able to track down his soul. We all have a permanent address, it is equally important to know the "permanent address" of the soul.
Another factor in the spiritual search is an honest and sincere behavior of our environment and to ourselves: in Indian thought is anything that brings us closer to spiritual values, as pure and all that removed us from considered unclean.
Our body is another factor that may be an obstacle or an instrument on the path of spiritual quest: the body ages, it is subject to the changes of aging. You can see it only the physical decay, one is dissatisfied. If you can accept that the body is subject to the inevitable changes of aging, it is our instrument.
Yoga helps us to understand this body and allows us to classify according to the different stages in this transformation. So we can avoid to consider this body as an obstacle, and can use it as a tool for recognizing the truth, truth 'in the sense of reality that is not subject to change', immutable, eternal and outside of time and space existent '.
The perception and Tatsinne used properly, the body becomes an instrument. This one has to learn to align the senses and let do what they do not usually like. Focusing on items that are "not perceptible by a picture" and part of the exercise, which is independent of the world of forms We must learn to see in the what is invisible, to give form, without seeing properties. The only way to learn the perception of the formless world, which is also the spiritual world.
In yoga special Āsana were introduced to help us to distance ourselves from this outer world and protect us from all the impressions of this world: it is the Mudrā, they act like a fortress on our spiritual quest.
Practicing Mudrā us therefore helps avoid emotional influences during concentration. Mudrā are some poses in yoga, which include a focus on a particular point in the body or out of it. External objects are divine objects that are free from human emotions. In yoga, you do not use objects that are dependent on our emotions and our relationships.
The outer points are points of connection between the soul and the Creator. The points in the body as a network and affect the existence of the soul in this life. These very special concentration points are regarded as divine objects.
In addition to the concentration, there is a precise number of breaths (3, 6 or 12). The Mudrā can independently be practiced without the specific order, because they play a role on an emotional level, it is to interrupt the relationship between the senses and the emotions.
Here are some points of concentration:
Aditya (the sun) is the disk of the sun, black and shiny, which is the gate to get out of this world. This concentration will be aligned from east
The star: lying on his back to look as far as possible on the sky
Taraka: the horizon point, the infinite world beyond Earth
Murdhna: this is the point, which is located in front of the nose Murdhna gives us the support of the spiritual master.. Only thanks to their light, their spiritual power we are moving steadily towards the Creator. They nourish our confidence and help us to strengthen these.
Divya Chakshush. Point behind the head (occipital) Divya Chakshush means "divine vision": this is one of the most important concentrations to obtain the vision of the soul
Nasāgra: nose. Reduces the information originating from the sensory distraction
Nabhi. Behind the navel Nabhi is a harmony in the emotional activity recovers
Mula: Mula means "root" and is located between the anus and the genitals. It is a very important point. The aim is to guide all of our different human emotions to the root of all emotions, to enable the divine emotion in us and make room for them.
Bhrūmadhya: point between the eyebrows. On a philosophical level, it means "between two worlds": the earthly world and the heavenly world.
Shirsha: the fontanelle, is located inside the upper part of the skull. It is also a vital point, because by taking the soul at death should be there. The soul is often considered as included in Mula. She was therefore must create a path so it passes through the ascending concentration to Shirsha by passing the view of Mula on a vertical line up to Shirsha.
Hrudaya: this is God's dwelling in us and is a little outside the physiological heart. In the concentration of Mula to Shirsha you happen automatically Hrudaya. This point is protected from any human emotion. As a state of mind is achieved Hrudaya automatically when the mind is free of sensations and emotions.
Man has two kinds of emotions:
a) Emotions that are tied to the Creator, to our spirituality: this is a constant, unchanging emotion.
b) Emotions associated with interpersonal relationships: is changing emotions.
Continuously changing our emotions respiration plays an important role. A steering our breathing is essential, it is necessary to do this every day in order to reduce the anarchy at the level of emotions and feelings and so the divine emotion to gain a place in our lives. Take place because the more human emotions in our lives, the less space there is for the divine emotion.
Everything we do is converted into emotional values. There is an emotional transformation of the sensory data received from our environment. Therefore, it takes time to remove them from our mind. By using the breathing, defends it from the aggression of the immediate area. Thus the emotional aggression does not enter the cells, purified by this pranayama. Do a cleaning between the emotions and the cell life, so that the divine emotion is retained in the cells. In modern science, this is known as the memory cells.
Prana is the primal force of creation, the Creator's love for His creation. This divine emotion is the dedication that is within us all. Everyone needs to cultivate them because only by being cultivated, it remains ever present. You must deliberately cultivate the divine devotion nearby state of mind and willingly give up the material values by meditating. The role of meditation is to prevent the influence of the outer material world to the Divine to dedicate a maximum mental space, because the goal of our existence is to recognize the One who has created us to know where we come from.
Breathing is the unit of time used for everything spiritual (in comparison to the material time unit of time). The indicated number of breaths is the unit of time that a person needs to move away from the day's events and to enter into a state of meditation. Pranayama keeps the mind in a state of meditation. During the rituals practiced pranayama to enhance the meditative and contemplative state. It is a key element in yoga.
Pranayama consists of 3 elements:
The respiration: the substantive tool to our relationship with the Creator "to get going." For ages (since the time of the Dravidians, more than 10,000 years ago), breathing is associated with contemplation. You can stop breathing intentionally hold back his breath. The four members of respiration are: inhalation, stopping after inhalation, exhalation, stopping after exhalation
Concentration, for example, on the sun
The mantra: an accompanying formula (the mantra is not used in the teaching of Sri TK Sribhashyam because it is a religious element associated to Hinduism)
There are many techniques, but there is a basis. The variations depend on the individual and his ability to adjust his mental state to move closer to the Creator. This can happen quickly or slowly. It must be the fear of the unknown, fear of the Creator, and the fear of being associated with the world rediscover his mental state does not take into account.
Since 5000 years, the basis of Pranayama is the following:
Inhalation left nostril, exhale right nostril, right nostril breathing, left nostril breathing out (this is a game).
This technique was later called Nadi Shodhana, which means something like "purify our mind." The mind is considered to be nerve (Nadi = nerve). Pranayama is exercised always point to the east. The East, the place of the Creator. It is believed that the spirit of the morning when the sun rises, is available and this is the best moment for the spirituality.
If one mind on a particular object oriented and our thoughts are focused on the same object, is called contemplation of this state. In meditation, it is always about the invocation of a god or a divine object, such as the sun.
Our intellectual field is filled, the amount of information is huge, the picture of our concentration is obscured. Order to achieve the concentration, loop through two stages:
First A first phase of the deliberate removal of information: you have to keep the importance of daily life away and give the alert called entity importance, then begins the mental field, to clothe with the object: this phase Dharana means (only if a divine object is used) .
Second The exclusion of any intellectual activity, which includes the analytical ability and the intellect. The "I" must be kept away to provide the human emotions calm. This situation - when the mind fully awake when called entity lingers - called Dhyana. Then you lose any notion of duality, because it is not in the mental field, and you are one with the Creator or the divine object. The period during which one is united with the Creator is "Yoga" is named. Every being has that ability, and if only for a split second. This state is a coming and going of concentration. Certain concentration points are dharana and dhyana to support the path.
The mental field is "elastic": you can do it quite small, as if we, for example, employs a problem that fills our whole mental field. But you can also make unlimited. Focusing on a divine object (which is infinite) helps to overcome the limitations of our mental field. Focusing on a divine object has not this effect, because the object has a shape and a connection to our human emotions, the mind is confined to this object.
The concentration phases are interrupted by emerging images: one will be attracted to these images, increase emotional emotional impressions in us, traces of our past emotional life. Avoid the possibility that upgrades of these impressions, the disturbances of concentration are getting shorter. These impressions are called Klesha. It is important to find an agent that prevents the rising of Klesha. Practicing Mudra allows us to nurture not Klesha or emotional tracks. So how to vacuum- packed seeds, so they can not grow. Mudra help that Klesha during the concentration are not active, but our vigilance is essential.
The evocation of the soul of the Creator, God
Because God or the Creator can not be perceived, and it is difficult to detect a formless reality, a term a tangible for the mind concept was introduced: this approach is the light symbolizes, in its original form by the disk of the sun, the one black, shining circle. (A circle automatically takes the whole mental field).
The existing light allows us to see this world; without the light, take the essence of true nothing. God is light and gives us the light. He gives us joy in life, because the image of any object that we perceive, confirms our existence. 
Thus, a representation, an image that is all people are familiar introduced. This was the first form of God as an "icon". Then the man added many parameters, standards and rules: these are the dogmas which form the religion. But God always remains the same: immutable and eternal, and to reach him, you have to let the religious dogma behind. The true value of God is the most important thing in our lives. One should his conviction and his idea of ​​God remain faithful. 
The evocation is done by repeating.
The Prayer
The idea of God or the Creator and prayer are inseparable. Each object in the mental field must - in addition to the image - through a sonic element, the name of the object or the specific function is supported. Disappears as soon as one of these supporting elements, the others disappear. In any process of maintaining an object in the field, you need a mental image and a verbal expression, that is, words and phrases that belong to the object. The expressions, characteristics or properties of an object are divine prayer. In the example of the solar disk with the evocation of their shape and their characteristics is to pray.
Then there is a second type of prayer, supplication, which brings us something. Finally, there is the prayer of thanksgiving after each invocation: giving thanks to God or the Creator for his presence in us.
We had arrived at the end of the four days. Sri TK Sribhashyam ended the seminar with a practice and the introduction of Mudrā that is practiced at sunrise and their name says it all: Aditya Hrudaya (also known as Sūrya Bhedana).

Our Master Sri TK Sribhashyam, just returned from a pilgrimage in India switched, his strength and his belief in spiritual values and poignantly profound way to the entire group. The participants thanked him much for this fascinating and compelling seminar that they henceforth called "the pearl".

Emergence of yoga now out in English Translation

Friday, 11 April 2014

Ulm: Workshops can be disruptive, and yet....

I've no idea how to go about blogging about my own workshop or whether I should even make the attempt but I promised, usually workshop posts are reviews from those attending rather than from the perspective of somebody presenting the workshop, I partly feel I have no place writing about it but seeing as I'm still blogging, just, it would be a shame to avoid the opportunity. But how to start....

Workshops are.... disruptive, no doubt for all concerned.

Disruptive to those who attend, who are giving up their mornings and afternoons, no doubt their regular practice for the period of the workshop. That's something to remember, we don't sacrifice our practice easily. We don't tend to attend workshops for the social aspect, certainly not in Ashtanga, the workshops tend to be for the sake of our practice, to help us develop it, explore it, deepen it somehow, help us to understand it a little more perhaps but also perhaps, and going against all of the above, to become more present in our practice to not separate ourselves from it, to connect with it more. This practice, it's not something belonging to somebody else, it's our practice, the breath should remind us of this, we breathe our practice.

When we go to a workshop we are perhaps taking responsibility for our practice

It's disruptive to whoever is organising the Workshop, they too are giving up their weekends, often they don't even get a practice in ( if they are translating) or if they do then they have so many other things going on in their mind to worry about that I wonder if they can fully enjoy it. And they are also playing host of course, especially when somebody is visiting from abroad. Thank you to Janosch in Ulm and Oscar (and especially  to Maria and the kids) in Leon, Cosmin and Andrea in Valencia. And of course it's not just the weekend of the workshop itself but all the planning and organising that leads up to it, the flyers to be made, the websites to set up, the enquiries to field, often the flights and accommodation to organise. At the end of it all, do they whisper quietly to themselves "never again".... until the next time.

And it's disruptive to the practice of whoever is giving the workshop, in this case myself. I've found for a week or so leading up to the workshop my mind keeps flipping out and looking objectively at what I am doing in my own practice, asking how would I teach/share/communicate this aspect, how would I set it up, make it more approachable.... palatable and then ask is this something I really need to include, or is this something obvious, intuitive, is it something to flag, draw attention to. Or you change your practice to work on something your presenting in the upcoming workshop, an aspect that perhaps you've already incorporated into your own practice, often unexpectedly, by accident or by some curious roundabout route ( one moment from a previous workshop you attended yourself perhaps), something that has come about organically but that you may have to find a way to introduce to somebody for the first time. Or you need to do homework, it's one thing practicing something, another presenting it. One thing practicing to a count another leading it. So it's disruptive before the workshop, certainly disruptive to your own practice during the workshop when you too have had to sacrifice your own practice, and then it's disruptive afterwards as you come back a little drained, mentally exhausted and attempt to slip back into your regular practice.

Why do we do it.....?

There was a moment in the last workshop....... we'd already explored the different hand and arm movements in tadasana in the morning session but here, in the afternoon, we were attempting a 'model Vinyasa Krama practice'. I got the basic pace of arm movements started then suggested that they all continue for the next ten minutes with the different movements as they remembered them and whichever they preferred to practice ( there are lots of options, too many for a ten minute segment of a practice). I walked to the back of the room and watched and I saw all ten doing different variations/options but with the same slow movements and long slow breathing. Ramaswami taught me this approach to tadasana in LA, Krishnamacharya taught him in turn in Chennai and here we were in Ulm Germany, the same slow movements, the breath, I wish I'd taken a photo of that, a short movie.... It was the same in sisrsasana in Leon when i stood back and watched everybody doing their own leg movements, long slow breathing. I'd do it again and again just for that moments like that or for the ten minutes in paschimottanasana, the three minute utkatasanas, the kumbhakas in Krishnamacharyas Primary that we had explored the morning before.....

We love our practice and Ramaswami says that if we love something that we have received, if it's important to us, if we feel it has taught us something then we should share it, offer it to others in return, make it available.

And we should offer it freely and without expectation, just because it works for me, is important to me, it may not be for you, may not be what you need right now, perhaps all it will do is make you appreciate elements of the practice you already have, that too is something.

It's such a joy to share this stuff, to see others engage with it, try it out, explore it a little, try it on for size.

The trick I guess is not to force it on others  but just offer it up, less is more, get out of the way of the practice as much as possible and let it reveal itself.

Each time I've presented one of these workshops I've wanted to hurry home and practice..., as you try to share something with others you begin to see aspects yourself often for the first time, " is it I didn't notice that".

Krishnamacharya mentions this somewhere I think that you learn the most through teaching. When we seek to teach or rather share something we set up a space a clearing we en lighten our practice.

I hope it went well, I felt like I managed to keep out of the way of the practice a little more this time, allow Krishnamacharya and Ramaswami to work their magic.

And Ulm was beautiful of course, here are a couple of shots from the weekend

I was just rereading the John Scott interview in Le journal Le Yoga Shop paris

Kia:We continue to talk about the challenges that may arise from being a yoga practitioner and teacher, while raising a family and maintaining your responsibilities towards them and society...

John: ”I was lucky that I was 36 before becoming a husband and a dad. By that time I’d had nine years of practising with Guruji. Nine years of being a Bramacharya*. In the Indian system this continues up to 24 years of age. From age 24 to 48, Grihastha is the ’householder’ phase. In this phase you have done your practice so you are able to let it go and just do maintenance. So in the Indian system, by the time you are 24 and are moving into the phase of being a parent, you are no longer learning the practice, simply maintaining it. Those nine years of practice with Guruji were like putting money in the bank. I had built up the strength and stamina needed to teach this system. 
The challenge in the west is that many people arrive in the practice already a ’householder’. If you are in that phase but still doing all that study and practising, it is, in a way, selfish. You are putting yourself before the rest of the family. That is the difficulty we have as westerners. I was so lucky I got those years of study without it affecting anybody else. So when I got to the phase of being a ’householder’, I was able to drop it all and slowly bring back a maintenance level of practice. By then I had 2 children and a wife who were dependent on me, so I had to travel more and teach more. It was tiring and I couldn´t practise when doing international workshops. I would get a few practices in between but it´s not until now that I´ve got the time and the space to become selfish again. Today with you, is actually the first time I´ve practised 3rd series in eight years!”

group above from the Vinyasa Krama On one leg sequence

from the the Vinyasa Krama triangle sequence
from the meditative (?) sequence. meditative because it's built on vajrasana

Memmingen, one of my best practices ever here Monday morning, thank you, picture of a gate(way) seemed appropriate
Ulm, the Danube at night

Thank you to Janosch for inviting me and for organising the workshop, to Ronald Steiner and for the support but most importantly, thank you to everyone who came and put their own practice on hold for a couple of days.

Here's a link to upcoming workshops in Ulm.

Next up in

Self Led Vinyasa with David Regelin in Ulm

Janosch is a big fan of David's and kept trying to explain his approach as physical origami, wish i could have stuck around a little longer to attend

WORKSHOP| Physical Origami- levels 1&2

This class offers both innovative and familiar sequences of postures that bring to light the various ways in which the body is designed to fit together, fold and unfold. Expect a fluid physical practice along with nuanced descriptions of form and technique, as well as demonstrations of adjustments with students that show how we can adapt our bodies to the archetypal forms of yoga postures.
For me, next up is the Easter retreat in Spain this coming weekend, it's fully booked but you might be able to twist Cosmin's arm, excited about this, five days is a good amount of time to explore, delve and with a late start each day, I/we, can do our own regular practice too if we wish.
And then the 
Yoga Rainbow festival 3-9 May

Turkey, Simon Borg-Oliver is there too, can't wait


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