Bio-Energetic Yoga & Meditation Workshop
Hosted by Deb Porte Bobier, E-RYT 500 and founder of YogaBound.com
When: Sunday, November 24th and Saturday, November 30th
Where: 1201 Harbor Hills Dr., Largo, Florida
Time: 9am – 1pm
Cost: $65.00 day of. Or, pre-pay now (payment button at the end of this page) and pay just $55.00 Bring a friend and pay $45.00 ea. Sign up for both, $40.00 ea.
This is a perfect time to take some time out for yourself before the Holidays. This workshop is designed for everyone. And ideal for new or experienced teacher’s that are looking for a tune-up. Or, wanting to take their practice to a deeper level.
This is a slow, yet powerful practice that will take you inward, to deeper and deep levels of your being. It is intense and energetic, yet will leave you feeling relaxed and blissed out.
We’ll work with all the Chakra’s (the bodies energy channels of consciousness), Pranayama (breathwork), Meditation, then Yoga Nidra, or final relaxtion. Throughout the practice will be powerful messages from the teachings of the 8 limbs. As well as from the Yoga Sutras.
We’ll begin with Sun Salutations chanting the 12 Vedic names for the Sun. Continue with warm up excercises to connect the mind and the body, by arousing the 5th and 6th chakras. Move into a Hatha Yoga practice designed to awaken, harmonize and develop each of the Chakras. Starting with the first Chakra, and working our way up.
We’ll incorporate several Pranayama techniques to open the Nadi’s. Perform several sound meditations to further activate and harmonize the higher Chakras. Then end with a wonderfully relaxing Yoga Nidra.
I hope you will join me. And look forward to seeing you soon. Deb Porte Bobier
If you have any questions please feel free to zip me an email.
The Three Gunas – Balancing Consciousness
The three gunas are the most subtle qualities of Nature that underlie matter, life and mind. They are the energies through which not only the surface mind, but our deeper consciousness functions. They are the powers of the soul which hold the karmas and desires that propel us from birth to birth. The gunas adhere in Nature herself as her core potentials for diversification.
All objects in the universe consist of various combinations of the three gunas. Cosmic evolution consists of their mutual interaction and transformation. The three gunas are one of the prime themes of Ayurvedic thought. They form a deeper level than the three biological humors and help us understand our mental and spiritual nature and how it functions.
Have you ever had a day when you have been hyperactive, on the go from morning till night, then finding it hard to stop? This is an excess of the energy called rajas, or activity.
Or a day when you can’t rouse yourself from sleep, feel unmotivated and drag yourself through the day? This is an excess of the energy called tamas, or inertia.
What about the day when tranquility prevails, when you feel calm and clear and do no more or less than is perfectly in the flow? This is the balance of the energy called sattva, or harmony.
The ancient scriptures of the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita, Samkya Yoga, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, among others, all present these three energies, the gunas, as the basis of the material universe. From the word guna, meaning strand or rope, the three gunas are described as three intertwined strands that bind embodied beings to physical nature or the material world.
The great teacher of classical yoga, Patanjali, says (Yoga Sutras II.18), “The world of objects is composed of the three gunas—the principles of illumination (sattva), activity (rajas) and inertia (tamas). From these the whole universe has evolved, together with the instruments of knowledge—such as the mind, senses, etc.—and the objects perceived—such as the physical elements. The universe exists in order that the experiencer may experience it, and thus become liberated.”
On a spiritual level, understanding the gunas provides opportunities for spiritual inquiry and personal development. On a practical level, the gunas reflect states of mind that manifest as moods and behaviors. Through awareness and discrimination we have the possibility to become a master of their fluctuations.
From the Bhagavad Gita (14.7): “Rajas is marked by passion born of craving and attachment; it binds the embodied Self to never-ending activity.”
As positive energy: Rajas presents such qualities as enthusiasm, excitement, ambition, alertness, accomplishment, passion and an ability to get things done. Vitality encourages work and creativity.
In excess: Too much rajas heightens emotion and develops hyperactivity, anger, anxiety, aggression, agitation, struggle or fear. Thought processes turn off and obsessions arise from desire and an overactive mind and body.
In the physical world: In nature, rajas represents activity. The higher energies of heat and movement are known to be rajasic. Too much movement such as wind or heavy exercise, or higher heat can increase rajas and result in agitation. For example, you may have noticed that you or other people dislike windy days or feel particularly irritable in the heat, whereas others aren’t bothered. It’s helpful to simply notice if the weather affects you on any given day and in what way. If you know you are affected you can then seek balance. In general, calm and temperate weather reduces or helps balance rajas. As you no doubt have experienced, getting outdoors on a beautiful day helps you feel better if you have been agitated.
From the Bhagavad Gita (14.8): “Tamas, ignorance-born, deludes all embodied beings; it binds them by means of dullness, indolence and sleep.”
As positive energy: Tamas presents qualities such as ease, loyalty, patience, stability and being grounded. Shutting down or coming to rest brings forgetfulness and possibility of renewal.
In excess: Too much tamas leads to laziness, apathy, insensitivity, depression, and feelings of darkness, grief, helplessness or loneliness. Sluggishness overcomes the mind and a sense of avoidance prevails.
In the physical world: In nature, tamas represents stillness as well as darkness. Any damp weather, including the full range of light to heavy rain (cold or warm) can increase tamas or the feeling of inertia. You may have noticed that you or others are more bothered by humidity and dislike being in the rain. In general, clear, temperate and sunny weather can reduce or balance tamas. It’s especially healing to get outside in good weather if you are feeling tamasic.
Sattva: Knowledge, Luminosity
From the Bhagavad Gita (14.6): “Of these three, sattva, untainted, luminous, free from sorrow, binds by means of attachment to knowledge and joy.”
As positive energy: Sattva presents qualities such as goodness, clarity, illumination, appropriateness, being in the present and pure consciousness. Virtue brings wisdom and peace.
In excess: One pitfall of sattva is the delusion of the ego, which generates smugness, complacency and self-satisfaction. Another pitfall is attachment. The ancient yogic texts warn against settling into worldly happiness and urge you to wrest yourself away from the material and experience the spiritual nature of the universe.
In the physical world: In nature, light, clear and constant weather is sattvic. But the harmony of sattva can prevail regardless of external conditions.
Basic Characteristics of the Gunas
|Desire, wanting||Acceptance||Not wanting, pushing away, blocked|
|Staying in the same place||Upward||Downward|
Sometimes rajas predominates, sometimes tamas prevails, and sometimes you may enjoy the state of sattva. As in all of life, these energies rise or descend in a wide variety of combinations. The three strands of the gunas intertwine and affect each other. As long as the energies of the gunas stay in relative equilibrium, everyday life remains in balance. If you realize you have become out of balance, you can shift yourself into a more sattvic state of being.
Those with a preponderance of sattva are characterised by clarity, knowledge, sensitivity and grace in the material world. Many people are sattvic; they are not limited to the wisdom teachers and yogis. Think about any of your family, friends, co-workers or acquaintances who are conscientious and serve with open-heartedness and love.
You are sattvic when you experience heightened awareness or savor wellbeing. Through discrimination you can teach yourself to notice your moments of contentment so you can move towards them when you feel imbalanced. For example, you may be at an outdoor café with a friend, at a family gathering or seated in the stadium, watching your favourite sport. Now’s the time to take notice of how you feel—all’s right with the world. You feel harmony, connection, expansion, even love. If you can, take a moment to increase your awareness at this time. Make a mental note that this is what it feels like to be totally content and at one with the universe. Then at another time when you feel agitated, place that remembered state in your awareness and consciously move towards it.
Heinrich Zimmer, in his book Philosophies of India, says, “The intellect or wisdom-mind is compounded of the three gunas, but by means of yoga, sattva guna is made to prevail. Yogic training purges the wisdom-mind of its original inheritance of tamas and rajas. With the removal of tamas, darkness is removed and the subtle matter of the wisdom-mind becomes translucent, like the waters of a mountain lake. With the removal of rajas, agitation is removed and the rippling of the restless surface then is stilled, so that the waters, already cleared, become a steady mirror.”
- Overcoming rajas: The next time you feel hyper-busy, take a moment to notice that you have become rajasic. Even if you have many things to do or are in a momentum of getting a lot done, recognize you may have become unbalanced towards rajas. See if you can identify anxiety, irritation or a chattering mind. You only need a moment to become aware of yourself, focus on the centre of your being and become connected to your higher nature, or sattva. You can still continue doing things, but with more awareness.
- Overcoming tamas: It can be harder to pull yourself up from a tamasic low than to slow down from a rajasic high. Paramahansa Yogananda, the great 20th-century yogi, says, “A restless rajasic man bakes himself slowly in the oven of worries about himself and others. But a tamasic man, as though ossified, is not even roused even by the sizzling process of worries. He exists like an inert, lifeless stone.” By identifying that you have become tamasic, you can try to move yourself out of it. Whenever you recognize an imbalance of tamas, force yourself to get up and do something—anything.
- Burn it out: One approach to balance too much rajas or tamas is to move towards the condition. For example, you can burn out hyperactive rajas through sport or play. You can burn out tamas through indulgence, such as spending a day in bed.
- Change your behavior: The other approach is to move away from the condition. You may need to discipline restlessness with imposed stillness or lethargy with activity.
- Become the observer: You can also take a step back to observe your state and say to yourself, “I am under the influence of rajas. Tamas has me under its grip.” By distancing yourself as the observer you already have more power over the condition.
The challenge is to always move yourself towards sattva. Here are some suggestions to balance your energy. Over time you may develop favourites of your own.
To Decrease Rajas (Hyperactivity) or Tamas (Inertia)
|Antidotes to Rajas
||Antidotes to Tamas|
|Physically||Slow down, rest||Get up and do something|
|Mentally||Change your focus from the sensory experiences of the outer world or the chatter of your mind to the inner world of your heart||Look outward into the physical universe and participate in it|
|Emotionally||Stop dwelling on your highly charged emotional state; if you are talkative, be silent||Change your focus from negative emotions to activity|
|Food||Avoid spicy foods||Avoid heavy carbohydrates|
|Yoga postures||Hold yoga postures for a long time; do postures that get you out of your mind and into your body: lionpose, cobra, upward dog/downward dog||Increase energy by yoga sequences such as sun salutations: warrior pose, bow, triangle, also balancing poses, such as the tree|
|Breath||Practice alternate nostril breathing to burn out the excess of energy or take slow, deep breaths until you calm down||Energise yourself with bhastrika, deep quick breathing from the diaphragm; or slow, deep breaths to help you come into your body|
|Environment||Seek serenity, a place with calming music; or get outside into nature||Go anywhere else than your bed, couch or other favourite hideaway; seek the company of others|
|Meditation||Repeat the mantra or listen to recordings of the mantra; if you have an established practice, meditation is a brilliant method to slow down and become centred||Use recordings of guided meditations; if you can concentrate, read yoga philosophy or scriptures; use the mantra to energise your meditation|
In his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Yogananada says, “Though a brilliant fetter, sattva is still a fetter. A gold wire can tie a man to a post just as securely as can a wire of silver or steel. Like tamas (ignorance) and rajas (selfish activity), sattva also binds the soul to the body and to the earth plane.”
He adds, “Just as a man understands that he sees a motion picture through the instrumentality of an electric beam of light and a variegated film, so a perfected yogi comprehends that the phenomenal worlds and their activities are merely a dance of shadows and lights—the relativities or expressions of the three gunas, animated by the Supreme light.”
When you take time to consider the gunas you will notice their binding nature. Human beings are entranced by sensory experiences. Creating, building, accomplishing and flourishing are attractive possibilities. At the end of busy-ness everyone longs for release, rest, sleep and sometimes even a bit of laziness. Sometimes we ride the passion of an excess of rajas; sometimes we’re seduced by the self-pity of tamas; and sometimes we’re attracted to the good feeling of sattva.
Sri Ramakrishna, a 19th-century sage, used the gunas in teaching his disciples about their binding nature. He would tell a story of a man travelling through a forest when three robbers fell upon him and took his possessions. One robber wanted to kill him but another recommended tying him up. The robbers bound his hands and feet and went away. After awhile the third robber returned and apologized. He released him from his bonds and took him to the road that would take him home.
Ramakrishna said, “This world itself is the forest. The three robbers prowling here are sattva, rajas and tamas. It is they that rob a man of the knowledge of truth. Tamas wants to destroy him. Rajas binds him to the world. But sattva rescues him from the clutches of rajas and tamas. Under the protection of sattva, man is rescued from anger, passion and the other effects of tamas. Further, sattva loosens the bonds of the world. But sattva also it a robber. It cannot give him the ultimate knowledge of truth, though it shows him the road leading to the supreme abode of knowledge. Setting him on the path, sattva tells him, look yonder. There is your home.”
Sattva, personified by the third robber, sets you free from the attachment of the other two gunas, excess and lack, but you have to apply additional effort to shake off the attachment of even good living to seek the spiritual nature of the universe.
Transcending the gunas
The great teaching text, the Yoga Vashishta (The Supreme Yoga) says, “They who are of a pure (sattvic) nature and they whose activities (rajas) are based on purity and light (sattva) do not live their life mechanically, but inquire into the origin and the nature of this world-appearance. When such inquiry is conducted with the help of the right study of scriptures and the company of holy ones, there arises a clear understanding within oneself in which the truth is seen, as in the light of a lamp.”
“What is my place in the universe? Who am I? Why am I here?” These are some of the questions of spiritual inquiry that lead to freedom from the binding energies of the gunas.
As an individual becomes more set in a sattvic life, a broader perspective arises. Sattva as an energy naturally leads upward to a higher state of being or towards knowledge and experience of the divine. Sattvic people tend to question their existence, their relation to the physical world and the spiritual foundation of the universe. The path of the yogi is to experience spirituality as well as serving the material world.
With a nature of stillness, the sattvic person is seated in the third eye, the chakra or energy centre within the body that represents being able to see inwards as well as outwards. By looking inwards, the spiritual context of the universe unfolds. In time even the fetters of goodness dissolve and the yogi experiences ultimate unity.
The philosophy of yoga says the universe exists to be experienced and the goal of human life is to become liberated from bondage. This bondage is the attachment of the gunas; once you can let go of too much, too little and even “just right”, you are well on your pathway home.
(c) copyright 2009 Swami Dayananda
We’ve all experienced those people and situations that could drive a Saint to lose it. I recently found this perspective and found it extremely insightful on how to approach difficult people, or situations.
For example, compassion without ruthlessness is simply mushy niceness without backbone or boundaries. Ruthlessness without compassion is merely vicious callousness. When combined, however, we get the best of both attributes: the loving-kindness of compassion & the fierceness & no-compromise stance of ruthlessness.
Ruthlessness plus compassion is empowerment without cruelty; compassion plus ruthlessness is love with appropriate limits. When we practice ruthless compassion, we accept the other person, but not necessarily their actions; we understand their behavior but don’t necessarily tolerate it.
Those of us that practice and live a Yogic lifestyle have as our foundation, The Eight Limbs of Yoga, as outlined in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.
The first limb is called the Yamas, and there are 5. The second limb is called the Niyamas. And there are also 5. These are likened to the ten commandments. By observance of these restraints it helps one to attain a healthy mind and body. And to live in this world in harmony with others, everything else on the planet we inhabit, and the planet itself. Asana or Postures, is not at the beginning of the Yogic Journey.
These ethical guidelines, briefly outlined below, are challenging, some more than others. Be they are aspirations. And each person is at a different place on their Yogic path.
- Ahimsa: non-violence (or love)
- Satya: benevolent truth, absence of falsehood
- Asteya: non-stealing
- Brahmacharya: spiritual advancement by education and training. Some traditions associate Brahmacharya with celibacy.
- Aparigraha: non-appropriation, absence of avarice
- Shaucha: cleanliness of thought, mind and body – purity.
- Santosha: happy satisfaction; good contentment.
- Tapas: spiritual effort; austerity.
- Svdhyya: self study, study to know more about God and the soul, which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within.
- Ishvarapranidhana: surrender to God
To practice ruthless compassion may seem in conflict with these. However, I feel, that as long as genuine kindness and compassion are practiced along side this, then we continue to honor these observaces. Your thoughts?
Understanding Sanatana Dharma
THE PHILOSOPHICAL ROOTS OF YOGA
Yoga, and meditation are terms that the vast majority of us are familiar with. What most people are not quite as familiar with, however, are the ancient, rich and profoundly spiritual dimensions of these terms. Yoga and meditation are infinitely more that just a series of calming and effective physical and mental exercises. Rather, Yoga and meditation are an ancient and rich spiritual tradition, philosophy and lifestyle designed to help human beings realize the highest degree of excellence in all they do, and ultimately to know themselves and God.
Sanatana Dharma is another, lesser known, name for the path of Yoga Spirituality. In fact, it can be truthfully said that the practical techniques of Yoga are nothing less than the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma in practice.
Sanatana Dharma is the world’s most ancient culture and the spiritual path of almost one billion of the earth’s inhabitants. Followers of Sanatana Dharma are known as Dharmis (“followers of Dharma”). Though the majority of followers today are Indian (South Asian), Sanatana Dharma is a global spiritual path that has adherents from almost every nationality, race and ethnic group in the world, including an ever-increasing number of Americans. There are approximately 5 million followers in America, of which roughly a third are from India and the majority (3.5 million) are non-Indian Americans (Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, etc.). Statistics aside, Sanatana Dharma represents much more than just a religion in the normative sense of the term; rather, it provides its followers with an entire way of life and with a coherent and rational view of reality.
Sanatana Dharma is by its very essence a term that is devoid of sectarian leanings, denominational prejudices, or ideological divisions. This is evident by the meaning of the very term itself. The two words, “Sanatana Dharma”, come from the ancient Sanskrit language. “Sanatana” is a Sanskrit word that denotes “that which does not cease to be”, “that which is eternal”.
The word “Dharma”, on the other hand, is a term that is only properly rendered into the English language with a bit of difficulty. This is the case because the word “Dharma” is describing, not an object, but rather a profound philosophical concept. Its approximate meaning is “Natural Law,” or “the Natural Way”, or those principles of reality which are inherent in the very nature and design of the universe itself.
Thus the term “Sanatana Dharma” can be roughly translated to mean “The Eternal Natural Way.”
Dharma – Natural Law – is universal. Dharma is eternal. Dharma is nothing less than God’s laws as they are manifest in the natural world around us. Sanatana Dharma is referring to those natural principles and ways of being that are in concert with the Absolute. Being a direct reflection of God’s will in this world, such principles are therefore axiomatic, or unalterable, laws of the cosmos. The term Sanatana Dharma is not referring to something that is open to alteration, speculation or human manipulation. Neither is Sanatana Dharma referring merely to some denominational faith or sectarian belief system. The principles of Dharma are transcendent and eternal laws, and thus applicable to all people for all time.
Sanatana Dharma – the Eternal Natural Way – is the metaphysical basis of all true spirituality.
To give an example of the eternal and natural origin of Dharma, we can compare it to many of the principles of science. The laws of gravity, mathematics or logic, for example are not open to sectarian debate or relative opinion. They transcend sectarian belief, and are true regardless of our belief or disbelief in them.
Gravity, for example, is an inherent law of nature regardless of whether one believes in the law of gravity or not. It’s not that gravity works for Roman Catholics, but it won’t work from Scottish Presbyterians! Rather, anyone who walks off a roof will end up with the same effect: falling to the ground below. Similarly the subtle, metaphysical laws of God known as Dharma transcend all partisan concerns and sectarian affiliation.
Referring to this eternal concept of Dharma by the term “Tradition”, the great Italian philosopher Julius Evola explains Dharma’s universality and eternal nature in this way: “Tradition, in its essence, is something simultaneously meta-historical and dynamic: it is an overall ordering force, in the service of principles that have the chrism of a superior legitimacy (we may even call them ‘principles from above’). This force acts through the generations, in continuity of spirit and inspiration, through institutions, laws, and social orders that may even display a remarkable variety and diversity.” (Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins, pg.115)
Whether known by the terms Dharma, Tradition, Natural Law, or any other term, the essential nature of Dharma is eternal, universal and axiomatic.
Teachings of Sanatana Dharma
Followers of Dharma Spirituality (Dharmis) believe in one, all-pervasive and all-loving Supreme Being. Though worshiped in different ways, and by different names, in a variety of ways, there is ultimately only one God. God is not Hindu, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. Rather, God is the ultimate inspiration of all sects and religions, and this is the case whether any particular religion acknowledges this truth or not.
Sanatana Dharma teaches panentheistic monotheism – the principle that God is both transcendent and immanent in all things. God is omnipresent in all things. There is no where in which God is not present. God is further away than the furthest star, and closer to you than your own soul. God has unlimited divine names and positive attributes, all of which share fully in God’s transcendent nature.
Every living being is a spiritual being in our deepest-most essence. Our true nature is one of pure spirit (atman). Not all beings, however, may be aware of the fact of their true spiritual nature at present. Thus, we find ourselves presently in a state of illusory separation from God. In reality, of course, we can never be truly separated from God. But we can have the illusion of separation. Our reason for being in existence is to spiritually evolve toward the eventual goal of re-union with God. Dharma teaches that God’s desire is that all living beings will ultimately attain liberation, or moksha.
Personal spiritual development occurs through the closely related processes of karma and reincarnation. The individual soul undergoes the cycle of repeated birth and death – this is known as the wheel of samsara. During each earthly manifestation, an individual’s karma (literally ‘work’ or ‘actions’) determines her future psycho-physical state. Every ethically good act performed by someone results, sooner or later, in happiness and spiritual development; whereas ethically evil actions end only in loss and sorrow. Thus, the principle of karma is an idea that celebrates freedom, since at every moment of our lives, we are all free to create our future states of existence through our present actions and states of consciousness. This philosophical world-view encourages Dharmis to live happily, morally, consciously and humbly, following the path of Eternal Natural Way.
The Dharma way of life has many important facets. Sanatana Dharma is a way of life that is deeply rooted in a sense of ethical concern. Among the many other virtues that Sanatana Dharma seeks to instill in its followers is the principle of non-violence (ahimsa) towards all beings, and compassion for all life. This sense of love and compassion is directed toward animals and the Earth, as well as all of our fellow humans beings. As a result of these highly ethical standards, Dharmis are vegetarians and strongly pro-environment. The personal goal of every follower of Dharma Spirituality is to live life in such a way that she harms none and benefits all whom she encounters.
In addition, it is taught by Sanatana Dharma that the spirit of service and selfless work for others (known in Sanskrit as the principle of seva) bring one’s consciousness closer to that of God. Consequently, it is quite common to witness followers of Dharma Spirituality engaging in a myriad of charitable and educational activities.
For Sanatana Dharma, practical importance is also placed on studying the ancient Vedic scriptures (such as the famous Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Yoga Sutras and Narada Bhakti Sutras), temple worship (puja), sacred ritual and personal acts of meaningful spiritual purification.
Yoga and meditation practice are also essential aspects of Sanatana Dharma. The true goal of both being to achieve self-realization and God-consciousness.
The Art of Reason
Perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of this ancient spiritual path is its tolerance of other people’s cultures, religions, and views. Dharmis believe that “God is one; though sages call Him by many different names” (Rig Veda). Indeed, Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharyaji (one of the most respected and important Dharma teachers alive today) has said that “Sanatana Dharma is the only religion in the world that doesn’t believe that it is the only religion in the world!”
Within the nurturing framework of this path is a tremendous spiritual freedom that encourages and provokes followers of Dharma to think, learn, explore and look inside themselves for the meaning of Sanatana Dharma and of life itself. Dharma encourages us to use both our heads and our hearts in how we make decisions and how we approach God. We must use both our God-given ability to discern Truth from untruth, in addition to using compassion and love in all important decisions. Sanatana Dharma is a path of reason coupled with compassion. There is no room for fanaticism, fundamentalism, or closed-mindedness anywhere in Sanatana Dharma.
How Can I Become a Follower of Dharma Spirituality?
You may actually be one already…and just don’t know it. There are approximately 5 million followers of Sanatana Dharma currently residing in the United States. About 1.5 million of those are of South Asian (Indian) ethnic heritage. The other 3.5 million are non-Indian Americans who accept and practice the teachings of Sanatana Dharma. While most of these 3.5 million non-Indian Americans follow the practices of Sanatana Dharma, believe in many of the most important teachings of Sanatana Dharma, even have gurus (spiritual teachers) or Sanskrit names, despite all these facts, many do not necessarily consciously identify themselves with Sanatana Dharma. Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya has termed these non-Indian Dharmis the “Hidden Hindus” of America.
Here is a test to know if you are already a follower of Sanatana Dharma, and are possibly just not consciously aware of it:
- Do you practice any form of Yoga?
- Are you a vegetarian?
- Do you read the Bhagavad Gita, or other Vedic literature often?
- Do you practice meditation?
- Do you believe in the process of karma and reincarnation?
If your answers to at least four of the above is “Yes”, then you are already following Sanatana Dharma. You are a Dharmi! Sanatana Dharma welcomes all sincere seekers who wish to adopt Sanatana Dharma as their spiritual path. These are a few things you can do to get started in your practice of a Dharmic lifestyle. By protecting Dharma and supporting your spiritual teacher, you can become a great example for your community.
There is no formal conversion process for becoming a follower of Dharma. After all, how does a person “convert” to the Way of Nature? In order to be welcomed into the Sanatana Dharma community, you simply need to have a well-informed understanding and personal acceptance of the principles of Dharma, and to then declare yourself a Dharmi (follower of Sanatana Dharma). You may want to then deepen your understanding and practice of Dharma by incorporating a serious spiritual practice into your daily life. The following steps will help you with this deepening of your practice.
- Study the philosophy and teachings of Dharma.
- Adopt a healthy spiritual lifestyle, including vegetarianism, and following the ethical principles of Dharma.
- Practice regular spiritual meditation, mantras and puja.
If you would like to to better understand, appreciate, and consciously practice this wonderful spiritual tradition and how you can practice this path more thoroughly and meaningfully, we hope you will join us on for a class, retreats, or workshop. YogaBoundDeb
Self Realization – The Path of the Tradition of the Himalayan Masters
There are so many practicing and teaching yoga today, many thoughts as to “What Yoga Is”, and how it should be approached. Let no one decide for you. It is important to do your own research to see what resonates with you. As I have gone deeper on my yoga journey, I have changed my thinking many times. The more I study and explore, the more I can understand how all these various approaches came about. But I do not believe one way is the right way for everyone. Especially in today’s world. Following a more traditional approach would put few on the Yogic path. Always be sure you have a well studied teacher that is approaching the Yogic path with the right intentions. And be skeptical of anyone that says their way is the only way. Or, pressures you into something you aren’t comfortable with. Deb Bobier (YogaBoundDeb)
YOGA (Skt. yuga, “yoke”), one of the six classic systems of Hindu philosophy, distinguished from the others by the marvels of bodily control and the magical powers ascribed to its advanced devotees.
Yoga affirms the doctrine that through the practice of certain disciplines one may achieve liberation from the limitations of flesh, the delusions of sense, and the pitfalls of thought and thus attain union with the object of knowledge. Such union, according to the doctrine, is the only true way of knowing.
For most Yogis (those who practice Yoga), the object of knowledge is the universal spirit Brahma. A minority of atheistic Yogi seek perfect self-knowledge instead of knowledge of God. In any case, it is knowledge and not, as is commonly supposed, feats of asceticism, clairvoyance, or the working of miracles, that is the ideal goal of all Yoga practices.
Indeed, Yoga doctrine does not approve of painful asceticism; it insists that physical and mental training is not to be used for display but only as a means to spiritual ends.
The Eight Stages:
The Yoga practice forms a ladder leading to perfect knowledge.
- Self-control (yama) involves truthfulness, abstinence, avoidance of theft, refusal of gifts, and not doing injury to living things.
- Religious observance (niyama) embraces austerity, poverty, contentment, purification rites, recital of the Vedic hymns, and devoted reliance on the Supreme Being.
- Postures (?sana), of which there are a great many, are regarded as basic to all the stages that follow.
- Regulation of the breath (pr?n?y?ma) includes altering its depth and rhythm, breathing through either nostril at will, and the virtual suspension of breath.
- Restraint of the senses (pr?ty?h?ra) means their withdrawal from external objects and the consequent turning of the mind upon itself.
- Steadying of the mind (dh?r?na) narrows attention to some one part of the body, such as the navel, the tip of the nose, or the middle of the brow, and in that way renders the practitioner insensitive to outside disturbance.
- Meditation (dhy?na) fixes the mind on the object of knowledge, especially Brahma, to the exclusion of all other thoughts.
- Profound contemplation (sam?dhi) is the perfect absorption of thought in the object of knowledge, its union and identification with that object. The achievement of sam?dhi liberates the self from the illusions of sense and the contradictions of reason. It is thought that has gone beyond thought, reaching its goal by its own negation. It leads to an inner illumination, the ecstasy of the true knowledge of reality.Liberation:
The final stage, in Yoga doctrine, rarely can be attained in one lifetime. Usually, several births are required to achieve liberation, first from the world of phenomena, then from thoughts of self, and finally from the spirit’s entanglement with matter. The separation of spirit from matter is K?ivalya, or true liberation.As adept Yogi approach K?ivalya, they are supposed to acquire certain remarkable capacities. They become insensible to heat or cold, to injury, to pleasure or pain. They can perform supernatural mental and physical feats and even change the course of nature. They can distinguish the subtlest elements of matter and can, at the same time, see the universe as a whole, comprehending both microcosm and macrocosm in the same thought.Such are the powers claimed or promised by Yoga. Few, if any, of these powers have been successfully demonstrated to disinterested observers. Nevertheless, extraordinary achievements have been reported by sober witnesses. Most impressive, perhaps, is the Yogi-sleep, in which animation is nearly suspended, enabling the Yogi to be buried alive for days. The Yogi-sleep has been explained by some authorities as a sort of cataleptic state induced by self-hypnosis and not essentially different from the cataleptic states that can be seen in mental hospitals.
Various Systems of Yoga:
Aspirants have a selection of practices to suit their capabilities and environments. Many of the wonder-working Yogi and almost all Occidental devotees are practitioners of Hatha (physical) Yoga. The latter is the basic system because it is concerned with developing those bodily controls from which all else follows. The other systems differ mainly in the varying emphases placed on the several phases of Yoga practice. Perhaps the most popular system in India is Bhakti (devotional) Yoga. This system emphasizes the first two stages of Yoga discipline, that is, self-control and religious observance.
Other important Yogas are Mantra Yoga, which devotes itself to uttering the name of Krishna and other incantations; Karma Yoga, the path of work and service; and Jnana Yoga, the way of intellect. The synthesis of Bhakti, Karma, and Jnana Yogas is called Raya (royal) Yoga.
The doctrines and practices of Yoga date from the period of the Upanishads. The Maitr? Upanishad in particular outlines the essential practices of Yoga. These practices were elaborated and given a philosophical foundation in the Yoga S?tra of the Indian scholar Patañjali (fl. 2d cent. bc?), who is traditionally regarded as the founder of Yoga. Patañjali derived his doctrine from S?mkhya, the oldest of the classic systems of Hindu philosophy. In order to explain evolution, he departed from the system by grafting the concept of God (I?vara) upon the atheistic outlook of S?mkhya.
The concept is not an integral part of Yoga doctrine; indeed, some authorities consider it actually in contradiction with the rest of the system. In any case, Yoga, unlike other systems of Hindu philosophy, has subordinated doctrine to the refinement of practice; in fact, the systematic study of Yoga doctrine has declined in recent centuries.
As a system of practice, Yoga has from the beginning been one of the most influential features of Hinduism. Yoga exerted a powerful attraction upon Hindus because of the wonders attributed to it and because it gives countenance to the performance of austerities, to which Hindus are so strongly inclined. The strong influence of Yoga can also be seen in Buddhism, which is notable for its austerities, spiritual exercises, and trance states.
As knowledge of Yoga spread, it fascinated and won followers among Westerners. Among the students of Yoga are the British writers Major Francis Yeats-Brown (1886–1944), Aldous Huxley, and Christopher Isherwood; the Romanian-born writer on religion Mircea Eliade (1907–86); and the British violinist Yehudi Menuhin. In recent years Yoga exercises have been recommended by some physical fitness experts as a means of cleansing the body of impurities, of reducing weight, of toning up the nerves and muscles, and, generally, of improving health and prolonging life.
Excerpted from History.com. For further information on this topic, see the Bibliography, section 128. Yoga.
An article from Funk & Wagnalls® New Encyclopedia. © 2006 World Almanac Education Group. A WRC Media Company. All rights reserved. Except as otherwise permitted by written agreement, uses of the work inconsistent with U.S. and applicable foreign copyright and related laws are prohibited.
This information is from Swami J. His site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality.
This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.
Sutra Commentary: The meaning of “OM”
By Ally Ford
Yoga Sutra 1.28 That (the word Om) should be repeated while contemplating its meaning.
Tajjapaha tadartha bhavanam
Why do we chant Om? In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali tells us that Om (pronounced A-U-M) is the designator for Isvara, and Isvara is the highest level of consciousness possible in all beings everywhere, the true Self, and the pervading energy which connects all beings.
In other words, Isvara represents the infinite in all of us, the divine sweetness of life, ultimate knowledge, and the energy which guides and inspires the teachers and leaders of mankind who arise over the centuries. This energy is something we try to tap in to through yoga practice and while these words used to describe it are helpful, it can be very difficult to conceptualize.
So, Patanjali gives us the symbol and the sound, something more tangible on which to focus our minds in order to connect to Isvara. Instead of meditating on a formless thing, we are given something on which to meditate in the form of Om.
Reciting Om repeatedly and contemplating its meaning gives us a direct connection to this higher power or consciousness enabling us to go from merely thinking about the idea of Isvara to perceiving or experiencing it. This is an introduction to the practice of mantra yoga, a practice which aims to bring about changes in matter and consciousness through the agency of sound. It is scientific fact that sound creates vibration through matter.
Chanting and the resulting vibration moves energy through the body, removing physical, emotional, mental and psychic blockages or holding, and lifts us up to a higher energetic plane or level of consciousness. It can be quite blissful and therapeutic. If you have never chanted you can get a sense of how it feels to release sound into and through your being the next time you let out a squeal or scream when you’re excited or perhaps even angry, or how it feels to belt out your favorite song while no one else can hear you in your car or shower.
Om is the most important of all mantras, which is why most Sanskrit chants start and end with it, and it is important to mediate on its meaning during recitation. It is considered the primordial seed from which the universe was born, as well as the root mantra from which all other mantras emerge.
Start with the “A” in the back of the throat, which comes from the heart, is the beginning of everything, and symbolizes the level of consciousness known as the waking state. Allow the sound rise up through the “U” or “Oooo” in the roof of the mouth, which expresses our true state of being and the dreaming state of consciousness. Let the “M” vibrate between the lips and throughout the entire body, representing the state of deep sleep, and bringing the endocrine system into balance and harmony. The fourth part of Om is silence, space or the infinite. Sit in this space for a moment and pay attention to how you feel.
The next time you chant Om, contemplate the meaning of each of the letters while creating the sound. Rather than rushing through it, give yourself time and space to feel its effects. Release inhibition and allow yourself to be carried through the three normal states of consciousness into the resulting silence at the end of the sound, described in ancient texts as ultimate reality or blissfulness.
About the Sutras: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, written around the 3rd Century B.C., was the first-ever “guide book” on yoga. The Sutras aim to systematize the practice of yoga and we may look to this ancient yet timeless text to inspire our present day practice.
For more information visit, www.analayoga.com.