Yoga Daya Blog
The Integration of Yoga
by Tulsi Laher
Have you experienced more from yoga than strengthening your biceps? If you answered yes, we agree that yoga is more than building muscle and being flexible. Otherwise, everyone who is flexible would be considered a perfect yogi. Yoga requires integration of the body, mind, intelligence and the self with skill and dedication. While practicing an asana (pose) like Tadasana, we have to utilize the intelligence and seek out where there is disharmony, such as a pain in the foot or pain in the neck, sometimes both. Through integration, we discern where the disharmony is and make the necessary modifications so that the body can become peaceful. Then, the mind will be peaceful.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali speaks of samadhi parinama and ekagra parinama. Samadhi is a revealing state or higher state of yoga. When a scattered state of mind is brought to a single state of mind, that is samadhi. Even when you come from a scattered state to a single state, that single point can still waver. To keep the mind to ekagra is when the mind is brought to a single point. It remains quiet and does not wander. Ekagra is when that single state does not waver.
While applying the intelligence in yoga to modify the pose, there is a tendency to become side tracked with over-modifying. This can manifest in constant fidgeting while in a pose. Instead, acknowledge the moment of being in the pose, feeling in space. In the example of Tadasana, ask yourself, “how are my feet placed, how are my legs placed, and how is my pelvis aligned?” The remedy for over-modifying is to penetrate deeper into the self. The mind also creates problems. This is why Patanjali begins with asana so the mind is situated internally to see the inner body. By engaging the mind in the yoga practice, we can use the body as a tool to connect with our inner self.
Often in the West, we are driven by ambition. “What is in it for me? I am doing this because I want a particular result.” This creates duality because when that result is not achieved we don’t appreciate the situation. Practice directing the mind inward without ambition. In the words of Iyengar, “Please do not practice yoga with the intention you are going to achieve a purpose. Then you are going to be a failure.” Everybody wants to know the self, that is an ambition. People want to experience peace of mind that is also ambition. Instead, practice choicelessly. Then the light will come on its own, you will be satisfied and grow admirable.
by AT2 Acarya Monge USN, CFO Yoga Daya
Recently, while practicing Pranayama, I got onto the track of attitude. I was lying down and holding my breath half way through the inhale, at full breath, halfway through the exhale, and at full exhale. My body was uncomfortable and I became distracted. I could not focus on my breath because of cars outside, a wrinkle in the blanket beneath me, and I was uncomfortable. I eventually slipped into focusing on my mental arena instead of my body and surroundings, which became just background in my awareness. Thinking about all of the things I have to do and imagining ways to achieve what I have to accomplish became my thought train. My mind was simply going through the motions, like a boring job, completely uninteresting. How many of you have a monotonous job? How do you cope? Whether it’s a boring job, painting a house, making breakfast, taking a shower, or whatever it is we do throughout the day, we would do well if we put conscious attitude into our daily life.
When you inject your emotion into something, that is attitude. Roll on by unconsciously and the mind will flop like a fish. Being consciously aware throughout the day instead of just doing whatever you’re doing because you have to get it done is the first step in using your emotions purposefully. Whether what you’re doing is pleasing, mundane, or profound, awareness of your attitude is a must.
When advanced yoga practitioners talk about yoga and they’re coming from a position of authority, not just giving their opinion on yoga, they say yoga means nothing if you’re just doing it for the gymnastics. Flexibility is not the goal. The spiritual awareness behind it is the real substance. I can breathe in, breathe out, and get into a certain posture, but that exhale isn’t going to do anything for me with minimal care for my attitude. It’s purely a physical breath, merely a pose. If, however, my attitude is purposeful, my mind is guiding my body, and my focus is steady, my mind will naturally dissipate clutter like sunshine chases away fog. This is what is meant by aligning the purpose of your body with the purpose of your mind. Going through the motions is only going to serve to separate your mind and body, which can wreak havoc on your emotions.
Emotion, feeling, is an incredible tool when it is added consciously, as opposed to being reactionary only. (Attitude – additive emotion) It may seem exhausting, but it’s not a waste of energy to insert your conscious thought and awareness! You have the ability to choose your emotions, and you want to choose consciously a baseline of no fear. Choosing fearlessness allows us to express positive emotions. Whatever you’re doing throughout the day, consciously choose your emotions as well as your actions. I guarantee you will not only be completing the task at hand, but also satisfying your mind in the process because you’re not just doing it for the sake of doing it. You’re doing it with an attitude of devotion and there’s a purpose behind what you’re doing.
AT2 Acarya Monge USN, CFO Yoga Daya, is currently based in Maryland. He is our special guest during the Live Yoga Demos December 17, 2017 (12:00-2:00 PM). After the demo, there will be a Q&A on yoga topics including awareness, the mental/bodily connection, fear, depression, attitude, and purposeful intent. Join us at the event and get Inspired for 2018!
Invocation to Patanjali
In “Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” BKS Iyengar translates the invocation as: “Let us bow before the noblest of sages, Patanjali, who gave yoga for serenity and sanctity of mind, grammar for clarity and purity of speech, and medicine for perfection of health. Let us prostrate before Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa, whose upper body has a human form, whose arms hold a conch and a disc, and who is crowned by a thousand-headed cobra.”
Prayer for Peace
The following prayer is a sanskrit slokam for peace. It is a reminder of how yoga helps us connect not only to ourselves through meditation, yet encourages us to develop kindness and compassion toward others so the mind becomes serene and benevolent. Download a printer-friendly version of the prayer.