Yuni is an amazing yogi, and our wonderful teacher at Escape Haven Bali. Here she shares a hip opening pose called the Twisting Dragon - it stimulates energy flow to the stomach and spleen meridians, and helps you to emotionally connect with yourself. Dragon pose stretches the groin, ankles, and hip flexors.
Twisting Dragon adds twisting for the spine to maintain flexibility. Some people may find that Twisting Dragon stretches the groin more (by pushing the knee outward) than the normal Dragon pose. Try to hold this pose for two or three minutes, then change sides.
Benefits: stimulate the energy flow for Stomach and Spleen meridians, emotionally connects with worry.
Tips: adjust the supported hand to feel a deeper twist.
Train yourself in the ideal of the lily, which blossoms in the mud and has to keep itself engaged in the struggle for existence day in and day out, parrying, bracing and fighting the shocks of muddy water and storms and squalls and sundry other vicissitudes of fortune, and yet it does not forget the moon above. It keeps its love for the moon constantly alive. It seems, however, but a most ordinary flower. There is nothing extra-ordinary about it. Still, this most ordinary flower has a romantic tie with the great moon. Similarly, you may be an ordinary creature - you may have to pass your days in the ups and downs of your worldly existence - still do not forget that Supreme One. Keep all your desires inclined towards Him. Always keep yourselves merged in His thought. Go deep into the mood of that Infinite Love.
By: My Beloved Gurudeva, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti on book: Subha's'ita Sam'graha III, 76
However great may be the wealth of attainment, it cannot satisfy the hunger of the human mind, which always yearns for unlimited happiness, Those who run after wealth and reputation, name and fame, can never be happy unless they can attain an infinite quantity of the same. But because the world itself is finite, how can the objects of this world be infinite? Besides, it is not materially possible to acquire objects of an unlimited quantity. So worldly achievement-even if it is the acquisition of the whole globe--is neither unlimited nor eternal.
That what is that eternal object which can provide unlimited joy and happiness to human beings? Only the Supreme Entity (Parama Purus'a), eternal and infinite. The total realisation of this Supreme Entity brings about supreme satisfaction. In fact, behind all the unending desires for worldly enjoyment, there lies this hidden desire for Supreme self-realisation. So the attainment of Brahma is the very innate characteristic (Dharma) of human beings, the ingrained nature of all living beings.
"Dharma" literally means an innate characteristic, the nature or property of an object. The property of fire is to burn. Just as fire and its property are inseparable, similarly human beings and their property--their quest for Brahma -- (the Supreme Entity)-are also one and the same.
Special thanks to Lena and friends (Russia) and hope to see you again.
Recently I teach many prenatal yoga classes. It's always amazing to do yoga with a mother to be. So much love and positive feeling. Sometimes it just make me remember my pregnancy long time ago. No wonder some of my fellows said, teaching yoga for pregnancy makes you want to be pregnant again (lol :D).
Few days ago, I had prenatal yoga class with 2 georgeous ladies. They're sisters and pregnant at the same time (without any appoinment before :))
The other day I had a prenatal class with 4 ladies, but only one whose pregnant. It's quite interesting, because they're all young and sporty. What can I do? I was really grateful that I have known Yin yoga. Finally I just mix my prenatal yoga class with the yin yoga. And, guest what, they're enjoy with the class. And asked for more lesson :))
I just felt a little worried before the class, because prenatal and yin yoga sometimes looks like "a boring" session for young people. But I've proven it's wrong. It gave me a lesson, never underestimate young people for their "capacity" to do "a slow down" yoga session :)
My mother was an air hostess with KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, so I was flying around the world before I was even breathing. The globetrotting continued throughout my childhood, as my father’s expat job made us move from country to country. And from each new location, we would visit other destinations, never spending a single holiday at “home”. By the age of eight, I was travelling alone, often flying to The Netherlands to visit grand-parents and friends.
The travelling has never stopped.
Fortunately, I do not only enjoy the time I spend at each destination, but I also take pleasure in the actual journey. I like the buzz at airports and the chaos at train stations. It’s fun to observe other passengers and fantasise about the reason for their voyage.
Never was I unable to sleep in moving vehicles, finding the sound of the engines soothing, the rhythmic swaying rocking me to sleep. Being rather short, I have always been able to fold myself up and get comfortable in the most unfriendly seats, be it in trains, plains or automobiles. I would never get swollen ankles, have headaches or sore muscles, nor would jet lags ever ruin my travel plans nor my mood.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
I am nearing my forties. Although my appetite for travelling has not lessened, my resilience seems to diminish. I still love the kick I get from travelling, but the aftermath seems heavier. I am more sensitive to the drafts of cold air in the airplane, to the terrible seats, my feet look a bit puffy after a flight and I definitely feel the jet lag when going east or west.
Luckily, there is a remedy for all these discomforts: my after-travel Yin yoga sequence.
This Yin sequence helps me ground after a Vata-aggravating trip that involves bumpy bus rides, eating dinner when my body is expecting sleep, transfers in the middle of the night, dragging excess luggage from one terminal to the other and making sure I don’t get ripped off by taxi drivers or dropped off in front of the wrong guest house.
After sitting for hours in an absolutely non-ergonomic airplane seat, my ankles and hips seem frozen in a 90 degree angle, I feel like I’m hunching like Quasimodo and the rotational capacity of my neck has halved. But all these complaints vanish like frost in the morning sun with this practice.
When I wake up from Savasana after this session, I jump up and feel energised like a pink bunny, ready to take on the world—and the next trip to the other side of the globe.
Note to the practitioner: I hold the poses for anywhere between three to fives minutes, making the practice last about an hour to one and a half hour. After the more intense postures, I rest in Savasana or in Crocodile pose (depending on whether I’m on my back or belly) for half a minute or so.
- Mountain pose / Tadasana / Samasthitih: for grounding. I stand, both my feet planted on the floor hip-width distance apart. Eyes closed, shoulders and arms relaxed. Micro-bend in the knees, just to avoid unnecessary contraction of the knees and quads or hyper-extension.
- Rag Doll / Uttanasana: for grounding and lengthening the spine. I grab hold of my elbows, bend forward and sway gently from side to side before I find stillness in the centre. I lean forwards a bit, applying equal pressure on toes and heels. I feel the sides of my body stretching as well as the muscles along my back, the glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles. If it becomes too much, I micro-bend the knees again.
- Thunderbolt pose / Vajrasana: sitting on my heels, I give my ankles a nice stretch and I use the time to meditate a bit.
- Child’s pose / Balasana: some more grounding and at the same time working on the ankles, knees, hips, spine and shoulders (when I choose to stretch my arms overhead). Putting my forehead on the floor, activating the third eye and sixth chakra is such a simple way to clear the fog and regain focus.
- Melting Heart pose / Anahatasana: time to get rid of the hunchback. This super intense stretch is a difficult one for me, so as I’m lying on my chin, I focus on my breath and try to let go of any urge to fight the pose. On a good day, I can get my chest on the floor (says a rather flat-chested girl). I go back to Child’s pose to counter-stretch.
- Sphinx or Seal pose / Cobra / Bhujangasana: even though I always try to prop a pillow behind my lower/middle back during flights, a gentle back bend feels necessary to relieve the sacral-lumbar arch after a long trip. Depending on my mood, I go for gentle (Sphinx) or more intense (Seal).
- Evil shoulder openers: travelling or not, these poses are a must for someone with strong shoulders like mine. These postures have been nicknamed evil by the staff at Brahmani Yoga, one of my favourite yoga schools in Goa, India. Watch their videos below for an explanation of the postures. I do at least two out of three, all of them if I have enough time.
- Happy baby / Ananda Balasana: Not only does this asana help me opening up the hips, but at the same time, I have the benefits of the inversion. Wonderful for swollen ankles and feet.
- Saddle pose / Virasana: For me, the intense sensations I feel during this asana are compensated by the immense relief that washes over me when I come out of the posture. Everything that was compressed, quashed and suffocated during the flight, is now being stretched, opened and given space to breath. Careful not to overstep my boundaries, I use as many pillows as I need.
- Butterfly / Baddha Konasana: As a counter-pose to Saddle, I finish the practice with Butterfly, a posture that I could hold for 20 minutes if I had the time.
- Corpse pose / Savasana: Last but not least, I rest. When I sit up, I feel like I’ve finally landed.
Event: Prenatal Yin Yang Yoga with April and Chris
Venue: Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa, Bali
Photo: Wirayasa Photography
ISSUES IN TISSUES: Looking at The Emotions we stores in our Bodies
Just as it is inappropriate and unhealthy to push past our physical edges, it is also unskillful and unhelpful to push past our emotional edges.
The first thing to recognize when strong emotions arise in our yoga practice is: “I am not alone!” Many people experience discomforting emotions and even elating emotions while doing their practice. Just being aware that others have gone through the same experience—and survived very nicely, thank you very much—helps to take the edge off the anxiety of the moment.
The second thing to be aware of is taking advice over the Internet on matters of personal health: I am not a doctor and cannot diagnose you or prescribe what you should do for your physical health, nor am I a psychotherapist and cannot give you the personal counseling you may need to help you through an emotional or mental crises; and even if I were, taking advice over the web is fraught with dangers of distance, missing key facts pertinent to your situation and misunderstanding what is really going on, thus giving you unhelpful guidance. Given all that, however, I can provide some thoughts for your consideration, that you can take to your chosen health care provider, to help you understand what is going on, and decide how to approach dealing with whatever your situation is.
We all have issues in our tissues, which is to say, we store emotions in our bodies. Where else could they possible be?
Emotions are not stored out there in some cloud server on the Internet: they are not on a Google computer in hyperspace. They are within you, close at hand and ready at a moment’s notice to manifest.
The dance of yoga is one of playing our edges: we approach the point of being too deep, never actually arriving at this point, and then we back off to see if we can approach that edge again, safely. This is the art: never actually going too deep, but moving constantly towards that edge where the sensations are juicy, where there is definitely something happening, but it is not too much sensation and we are never in danger of ripping the body open.
Photo: Elation by andrew_byrne on Flickr
When we think about our edges we often think in physical terms, and you may well have had such an image in your mind when you read the above words, but we have edges emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well. Just as it is inappropriate and unhealthy to push past our physical edges it is also unskillful and unhelpful to push past our emotional edges. Just as we may have scar tissue in our body that prevents our full range of movement, we often have emotional scar tissue as well that can restrict our interpersonal and lifestyle ranges of movement. These stuck, contracted areas can be painful when worked into and we can only go so far in our yoga practice to really open up; often professional guidance is needed to make sure that we successfully remove the scar tissue.
Physiotherapists are licensed to hurt you because that is what may be necessary to break the living tissues that are scar tissue, and psychotherapists may similarly have to take you into painful areas to exorcise any existing psychic damage. Yoga teachers are not trained to this degree so all we can do, or even should do in our yoga practice is to work to the edges of the blockages.
For some, that will be all they actually need, so assuming that this is the case, what can we do in yoga to help?
Once again the answer is to play your edge, but with enhanced awareness.
Our basic emotions exist within us to provide protection, healing and growth—they are not inherently bad: they are in fact very necessary for a whole life well lived. But sometimes emotions are evoked unskillfully and it is in these cases that we need to evaluate the raw experience of the emotion unemotionally, with dispassion.
Let’s take a real life example: let’s say that recently you have begun to experience a strong feeling of fear, desperately wanting to get out of the posture, wanting to scream like crazy, “A pressure on my chest!” as one student recently noted when she went into Straddle (Dragonfly) pose during a Yin Yoga class. She had been practicing Yin Yoga for over a year so this sudden arising of fear was surprising, perplexing and worrying. What does it mean and what should she do?
First, realize that you are not the only one. Emotions will arise at some point in your yoga journey. That is quite natural when you consider that yoga works the full body, not just the physical tissues. Next, consider the depth of the emotions and whether these feelings are limited only to your yoga practice or also arise at other times in life, because if they do, you may want to seek some professional assistance in determining what it means and how to work through the challenge. Finally, know that this is a wonderful opportunity to deepen your yoga practice, to go beyond the mere postures and into the depths of your own being.
David Williams, one of the first two Americans to practice Ashtanga Yoga, once observed that the real yoga is what you can’t see. He means that the real process of yoga unfolds beneath the obvious shapes that we contort our bodies into, it involves the breath and the way we pay attention to what is happening within. This is the invitation your strong emotional response is offering you. Rather than blindly or automatically react to the emotion, cultivate an attitude of acceptance and curiosity. Ask yourself what is really going on: “What is this?”
Both the Indian yogis and the Daoist yogis in China noticed a correlation between particular emotions and certain areas of the body: fear is centered in the kidneys, anger in the liver, worry in the stomach, fright in the heart and grief in the lungs. These associations make a lot of intuitive sense even to us Westerners. When we grieve our lungs go into spasm (called crying); when we are frightened suddenly our heart skips a beat (or we suffer a heart attack and become “frightened to death!”); when we fret the rate of ulcers rises; when our liver becomes damaged we may subject our loved ones to bouts of extreme rage (as most families of alcoholics are only too aware); and when we are afraid our adrenal glands activate readying us to run away or fight that which confronts us. Fortunately, we are also beneficiaries of positive emotions as well: the home for beauty is in the lungs; joy in the heart; creativity in the stomach; kindness in the liver; and wisdom in the kidneys.
Poses in yoga work the body physically and energetically, stimulating the meridian lines that correspond to the major organs of the body and sometimes eliciting strong emotional responses. In the example of the woman who experienced fear while she was in Straddle Pose, she may have created a deep stress along the inner thighs, the adductor muscle group, through which the liver and kidney meridians run. This stress may be sufficient to trigger an emotional response if there is some blockage psychically or emotionally in the pertaining organs of the liver and kidneys.
Regardless of the cause of the emotional response, the prescription is the same: awareness with dispassion. Watch what is occurring without trying to change it, without running away from it, without giving into it in despair or resignation. Of course, as we have already discussed, if you really feel you are past your edge and are too deeply into an emotional state, then back off! But if the emotions are just challenging, not dangerous, stay and observe the raw experience that is occurring. This is when something interesting is about to happen. Don’t miss it!
Ask yourself constantly, “What is this?”
Note the emotions and the associated physical sensations in detail to yourself: what are you feeling, what is your breath like, your heart rate, is there increased tension in your jaw, shoulders, neck? For example, if you are feeling fear, notice what fear feels like: “my breath is shorter and choppy; my shoulders are tense; my thoughts are foggy and I can’t focus.”
Don’t judge these sensations as good or bad and don’t try to change them; just observe them as they are. If you would like to work more deeply with these feelings check out the exercise described in YinSights called A.W.A.K.E.N. It is based on cognitive behavioral therapy where a similar program is offered to help people cope with anxieties, phobias, and debilitating fears.
To sum up, when a strong emotion arises in the middle of a yoga practice pay attention to it. If it is too strong, back off and perhaps even stop the practice for that day. If this continues to happen to the degree that you can no longer practice skillfully, then seek help from a qualified yoga teacher or counseling. However, if the emotions are challenging but not dangerous, use this opportunity to take your yoga practice to a new level: play the edge of the emotion without going over the edge. Start to observe what is actually occurring, without adding anything to the experience and without taking anything away from it.
One last thought, and for this I will quote Rod Stryker: “If you have never laughed or cried in a yoga class, what are you waiting for?”
There should not be any impurity, any black spot in the mind.
A feeling of selflessness; a feeling of universalism, is the only remedy for cleansing mental impurity. Those who have fascination or temptation for external objects can gradually get rid of the mental pollution arising out of selfish motives by adopting just the reverse course.
Those who are very greedy for money should form the habit of charity,
and they can serve humanity through such a practice.
Those who are very angry or egoistic should inculcate the habit of being polite,
and they should serve humanity through that practice. Therefore, selfless service to humanity,
and the effort to look upon the world with a Cosmic outlook,
alone can lead a person to be established in mental purity.
Thanks ya buat temen-temen yoga di Westin, yang sudah super semangat yoga sama kita.
You know, us yoga fanatics tout the benefits of yoga like it is going out of style. For most of us, it is because yoga has so profoundly changed our lives that we want to shout about it from the rooftops.
Some of us actually DO shout it from the rooftops. But the truth is, yoga does have a dark side. There are some legitimate reasons why someone may want to consider avoiding starting or maintaining a practice. In order to save you from any pain or suffering, here is the list of reasons why you should skip practice.
1. It Will Ruin Chili Cheese Fries
When you have a regular asana practice, you are going to notice the effects that the foods you eat have on your body on a whole new level. To the point that you may actually feel like giving up some of your oh-so-tasty but oh-so-stomachache-inducing foods. If you are a foodie, you may want to steer clear of the yoga mat.
2. It Will Put A Downer On Your Late Nights
Getting on your mat after a late night out, or a night filled with one or two too many Netflix episodes may become so unpleasant that you turn into an early bird – both in rising and in going to sleep. Your party days may be slightly numbered.
3. Love Drama? Skip Yoga
It is pretty difficult to maintain a life of drama when you have a dedicated yoga practice. In fact, you may become someone who so enjoys peace that other people stop wanting to talk to you, because you just don’t get sucked into their dramas anymore, let alone your own.
4. It Will Make You Have To Take Responsibility
The mat is generally a mirror for people, and this means you are going to notice all the places you are blaming other people for the things that are going on in your life – and you may discover that it is not really their fault at all.
You may even come to the conclusion that you have the power to stand up and make the changes in your life that will make you happier. If you really like blaming others, yoga may not be that great for you.
5. It Will Suck The Fun Out Of Judging People
Again, where pointing out the faults of others used to be kinda fun, now it just feels mean. You are most likely going to want to spend more of your time talking about all the amazing things the people in your life are doing – which may be a bummer for some of your friends out who still enjoy a gossip fest.
6. It Will Ruin Your Wardrobe
You used to have nice things. Now you just have 1,000 pairs of yoga pants. What happened to you?
7. It Will Make You Cry In Public
If you are not into public displays of emotion, then yoga is most likely not for you. You never know when the teacher is going to say just the right thing, or when you are going to go into just the right heart opener and the water works will be turned on.
8. It Will Make You Feel Your Feelings
Getting in touch with your body means you will get more in touch with your mind, which inevitably is going to lead to your emotions. If you are someone who wants to run from how you feel, you should most likely run from yoga.
9. It Will Open Your Hips, Your Shoulders And Your Heart
The softer your body becomes, the softer your heart is most likely to become. You will be opening the stiff parts of your body, along with the stiff parts of your deepest self. Yoga is steeped in tradition and spirituality – most hearts do not make it out still hardened.
10. It Will Ruin Your Relationship With Anything That Is Self-Destructive
And yes, this includes even the fun, self-destructive things. You are going to connect in with yourself, and start to notice how all your habits are affecting you. This may just ruin all your desires to drink, smoke, swear, stay up late, eat fast food and drive really fast. If you love your life the way it is now, then don’t take up yoga.
Hopefully, you can sense the jest of this post! Of course there are yoginis who still drink, smoke, swear and eat less than optimal food—they just tend to be a lot more mindful about it.
In all truth, yoga can and most likely will change your life. However, you are still in the driver’s seat and can take it at a pace that works for you. Happy Bending!
Author of The Perception Diet, a book designed to help you create the life and body you desire through awareness and a deeper connection with yourself. Through her own struggles with body images issues, Ali used yoga, meditation, mindfulness and serious self love to heal. Now it is her mission to spread the tools she used to gain her wellness with the world.
Event: Private group yoga at Villa, Seminyak, Bali
Photos by: Wirayasa Photography
"What is not infinite cannot permanently remain the object of your enjoyment.
It cannot be your permanent resort, since the existence of all these finite objects is dependent on others, bounded by the limits of time, place and person."
Devotion means longing for the Supreme. Now the question arises, is devotion natural or unnatural for living beings? All the conscious or crude things we see in the manifested universe bear attraction for one another, and as a consequence, the continuity of the thought-projection of the Cosmic Mind is maintained. It is on account of the mutual attraction of myriads of heavenly bodies oscillating in the infinite space that balance is maintained in the firmament.
In this attraction, there is effort for self-preservation. The bee flies around and around flowers in quest of honey, just for the sake of preserving its existence. It can be seen that every entity runs toward that abode which is more lasting and secure and which can provide it greater and longer safety. People run after money for the only reason that they believe they can maintain their lives under the shelter of money; that is to say, money alone can save them. But they do not know that money can provide them neither permanent stability nor a securely-founded shelter. Even during the span of their lives, money will come and go several times. At times its glamour will dazzle their eyes, and sometimes it will make them cry, hunger-stricken. Not to speak of money alone, all finite objects have this characteristic. What is not infinite cannot permanently remain the object of your enjoyment. It cannot be your permanent resort, since the existence of all these finite objects is dependent on others, bounded by the limits of time, place and person. If the terrific speed with which the extroverted person runs after finite objects is introverted towards the Supreme Being of his or her life, s/he can attain the Supreme Consciousness, can achieve the Supreme State.
The world is a changing phenomenon. Therefore, it is unwise to be attached to any object in this ever-changing world. The very name and form will undergo changes with the change in time and place. The child changes into youth, the youth into the old, and the old into the corpse. But if wise people take every object of the world as the expression of the one and single Cosmic Consciousness, then on seeing the changes in the name and form of any particular object, they will not be affected by pain or pleasure. Cosmic Consciousness to them would remain Cosmic Consciousness; they would lose nothing.
In Yin Yoga, poses are held for several minutes at a time in order to the stretch the connective tissue around the joints. The most prominent advocate of this method is the American teacher Paul Grilley, who learned the basic technique from Taoist Yoga teacher and martial arts expert Paulie Zink. Grilley also studied with the Japanese Dr. Motoyama, whose research posits that our connective tissue may actually be the key to discovering subtle energy channels in the body (called nadis in yoga and meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine).
Despite having an advanced asana practice, which is supposed to help prepare the body for meditation, Grilley found himself uncomfortable when he began to attempt long, seated meditations. Yin Yoga directly addresses the demands that sitting still in one position for a long time places on the body by focusing on stretching connective tissue instead of muscle. Sarah Powers, who studied with Paul Grilley, is another well-known teacher in this field.
Yin and Yang
In Chinese philosophy, the yin yang symbolizes the duality and interdependency of the natural world. Things that are yang are moving, changing, and vigorous. In contrast, things that are yin are still, static, and calm.
The majority of western yoga practices have evolved into being very yang- lots of movement, with an emphasis on stretching the muscles. Muscles are yang, while connective tissues like tendons and ligaments are yin. Sitting for meditation is more yin, and therefore requires a practice that adresses this use of the body. While joints like the knees and ankles are fragile and easily over stretched, the body also contains joints in the pelvis, hips and lower spine that are naturally much less flexible. It is these joints that yin yoga primarily addresses.
Event: Regularly Yoga for all every Sunday 7am (free of charge)
Venue: Renon, Denpasar-Bali
Teacher: Ananda Marga
Photo: Yuni (Yoginii Devii)
"Human society is one and indivisible. Don't try to divide it.
Each and every individual should be looked upon as
the manifestation of the Cosmic Entity."
Shrii Shrii Anandamurti
To establish harmony between the spiritual and material worlds, Ananda Marga advocates a balance between the internal and external aspects of life. Self-realization is the foremost duty of human beings. But at the same time we cannot neglect our social duties and responsibilities, as this world is also a part of the Supreme Being. The universe, having been created of and by Him, exists within Him – is a part of Him. As such, all created beings are His children, part of the one cosmic family. Love for His creation is the same as love for Him. To neglect society would only hamper personal progress because one would be neglecting the very thing one is trying to attain. Ours is a subjective approach with objective adjustment. That is, it is a balance between personal development by expansion of mind through meditation, and the fulfillment of social responsibilities by selfless service. The social philosophy of Ananda Marga is one of universalism: fraternity for all creatures of the universe; not just human beings, but animals and plants too. "It is the cosmic ideal alone which will unify humanity," because only when one realizes the unity in all diversity can the feeling of love for every created being be developed, transcending all apparent differences. Love for God implies love for all as a part of Him; as members of the same universal family. "The social philosophy of Ananda Marga advocates the development of the integrated personality of the individual." All should be afforded equal opportunity for their development. Ananda Marga advocates a world of unity, security and peace for all.
Meditation. I know it’s good for me, but sometimes my body and mind refuse to cooperate.
The wild horses in my mind gallop and stomp all over the place while my body begins its own restless little dance as I try and sit still. An itch here, a numbness there, followed by overall twitchiness. It feels like my mind and body are siblings in a never-ending rivalry. So what to do with these quarreling children of our selves? For me, it’s yin yoga. One of the best kept secrets of yin yoga is that it’s really meditation that you do three minutes at a time. Yup. That’s it. Three minutes at a time (or five minutes if you are cranky and tight that day).
Yin yoga is pretty new to the yoga scene. You won’t find it mentioned by Patanjali, but the practice of Yin really does ask us to keep the postures steady and comfortable as suggested in Sutra 2:46.
In 2002, Paul Grilley brought Yin’s message to the yoga community in his book, Yin Yoga: Outline of A Quiet Practice:
“It is not muscular strength that gives us the feeling of ease and lightness in the body, it is the flexibility of the joints, of the connective tissue.”
Yin does this with quiet but powerful poses.
Yin asks us to let our body rest and release in the posture, to gently stretch the connective tissue that forms our joints, to let the tendons and ligaments find their original range of motion that has been constricted by our benign neglect.
The body loves it and responds deeply to the stimulation and movement of energy through the joints, to the gentle massage that holding a posture brings to the inner organs.
What no one talks about is that the busy mind has nowhere to go when we settle in for the three minutes of butterfly pose. And the mind really, really complains. It starts giving you all the reasons why you should be doing the grocery shopping or at least some hot yoga instead of this lame practice of sitting and holding. It natters on for about three poses.
Then something quite wonderful happens. It gives up. The mind settles down. It softly releases its incessant voice with an almost audible sigh. It decides to go with the flow. It stretches and releases. Just like your connective tissue, joints and tendons are doing. The thoughts that show up are kinder, softer and less demanding. They also don’t stay long. They meander on into nothingness, leaving you deeper in the pose.
And it feels wonderful. Almost with no effort you find a place within you that is peaceful and relaxed. Your low back feels warm and open, your hips are loose and your face has let go of its habitual tension. You might even have a soft smile on your face. You find yourself being friendly toward your body and appreciating its movement, restrictions and needs.
This is what yoga wants for you. Union between the body and the mind so you can open to the wonder of being released from stress.
That’s why I love to teach yin yoga. Within the quiet power of a yin practice we meet ourselves fully on the mat as we take time to delve deeply into a posture and listen to what comes up within our emotional world.
When we meet ourselves this way, we see what’s really going on inside us. We have time to appreciate the goodness within us, that which we too often deny because we are busy yelling at our inner selves.
We actually hear our self-talk. And hearing it we may decide to change it, to bring kindness and compassion to our own beautiful selves, to appreciate and honor our human life with all its eccentricities. To befriend who we are.
That is the hidden secret of yin yoga. Meditation.
The whole time you were “doing yin yoga” you were actually meditating, gently moving inward physically and mentally. You were allowing space for stillness. You were totally present.
The movement of each and every object of the universe is in a particular way, unless redirected in some other way by a stronger mental force. But the case of human beings is different--they have certain specialties of their own. A river moves from the mountain towards the sea, and also from the sea towards the mountain. But in the case of human minds, of human microcosms, the movement may be from the mountain towards the sea, and also from the sea towards the mountain--this is the speciality of the human mind.
The objectivity of the human mind, unlike other entities of this universe, may move from subtle towards crude, or from crude to subtle. That is why it has been said, "Mind is the cause of bondage, and this very mind is also the cause of liberation, of emancipation." If the movement towards crude is encouraged, the mind -- and at the same time the entire existence of the human being--will be converted into crude matter. It will be a path of negative prati-saincara (negative evolution). And if the movement towards subtle is encouraged, then the entire existence will be converted either into Cosmic Mind or into Cosmic Cognitive Faculty. If the very I-feeling is surrendered at the altar of Supreme Existence, then the entire existence will become one with the Supreme Cognitive Principle--one will be come Omniscient and all-knowing entity.
("Existential Flow and Its Culminating, Point," Calcutta, 1986)
Yin and yang are terms applied to relationships. Every aspect of our lives can be classified as Yin or Yang as determined by their primal function and contrast to something other. In terms of the tissues of the body, the muscles are more yang as they have greater softness, elasticity and superficiality being located closer to the surface of the body. In contrast, the connective tissue is more yin as it is more stiff, inelastic and closer to the core. Tissues need to be exercised in a way that is appropriate to their nature: yin tissues respond best to being exercised in a yin way and yang tissues respond best to being moved in a yang fashion. The connective tissue responds most effectively to these long steady durational holds held in Yin, whereas the most effective muscular exercise involves rhythmic repetitive movement.
Yin Yoga extends and strengthens the deep layers of connective tissue that encapsulate the body. Connective tissue resides at and beneath skin level, in our skeletal systems, organs, tissues and in the deepest part of each and every cell. Yin focuses on these deeper layers of the body by stimulating the flow of chi through them. Chi flows much more predominantly into the muscles and the fascia when we move. Therefore, once we adopt a particular shape we minimise movement as much as possible to direct chi appropriately: to the connective tissue, the bones, the joints. Due to this emphasis Yin is best done when the body is cold. When the muscles are warm they take the body of the stretch and in this practice we want the muscles to become as passive as possible to soften so we can move deeper, more effectively reaching stretching and extending the connective tissue.
Yin Yoga is often known as yoga for the joints as it primarily focuses on the joints above knee height and beneath the navel. In targeting the hips, pelvis and lower back this practice can increase the mobility and the agility of these regions that become less mobile primarily through disuse and aging. Yin promotes greater circulation through the body’s core resulting in greater comfort when the body is still for prolonged periods – for example, when driving a car, working in front of a computer or within a meditative practice – and elicits more coherent graceful integrated movement in whatever activities we choose to embark upon. It can enable the body to open up, discharge stress and ease through physical tension. Yin can highlight discrepancies between the two sides of the body. Sometimes these differences can be incredibly subtle and other times they are incredibly obvious. In bringing awareness to these differences it enables the practitioner to begin to
minimise the effects they have on the body. It can also enable differentiation between our ultimate limit of our flexibility, compression, and what is simple muscular tension. Transformation can come through this awareness.
When we are born as humans we are incarnated into a yang phase: babies and young children have a great deal of mobility and flexibility and little strength and stability. Increasingly as we move through various stages of life our stability and strength increase and our flexibility lessens: we become increasingly yin. Ultimately when the body dies we have become completely yinified in rigor mortis. By the time we reach our early thirties we
generally have a beautiful balance between our mobility and stability but, if we do not continue to move our joints through their full ranges of motion we become increasingly stiff, tight, taught, restricted within ourselves. In this way Yin Yoga can reduce this contracture or shrink wrapping of the joints.
In yang physical training muscular strength is emphasised. However in order for the body to be able to use this additional strength, the joints and the connective tissue that become pivotal muscular attachments and surrounds must also have adequate strength and extensibility. These parts of the body are often neglected but are absolutely essential to work with the musculature for smooth efficient motion. Yin is an exceptionally beneficial practice particularly for athletes that tend to peak in their late 20s as it can prolong athletic performance. Often times people’s athletic careers are ended prematurely due to injury that are often joint related rather than muscular. In placing an appropriate degree of stress on the joints, gently teasing the bones apart it stimulates the production of synovial fluid, lubricating the joints allowing for smooth free effective movement. It can enable us to more fully express more strength and power as the joints can
move through a fuller range of motion.
Yin can enable us to come home to our physical body, to deeply inhabit regions of ourselves that may have been untouched for a long period of time. We can come back to the initial concept of what does it feel like for me to be in this body, in this shape, in this space, in this moment of time? Habitually we can be so busy ‘doing’ we lose a sense of ‘being’, being with ourselves, being with our bodies, with our minds, within our own energy. Our bodies can become objectified rather than embodied and embraced. We learn to feel the body from the inside, to deeply listen and respectively respond. We can foster and nurture an on-going dialogue with the body to determine whether it is appropriate to deepen, remain or back away from the intensity of the posture.
As the tissues moisten the body naturally invites you to move into the posture more deeply. We feel a soft tugging sensation, akin to a dull achiness deep within the tissues as we wait without moving. Assuming no pain is experienced you remain still. If your body asks you to leave, you gently move away from the edge, lessening the intensity without judgement or egoic striving. As Bernie Clark astutely states ‘use the postures to get into the body. Do not use your body to get into the postures.’ This is one of the reasons this practice is a beautiful way for those of us who have disconnected from our bodies, for trauma survivors and those suffering from eating disorders to reconnect in a gentle compassionate way, deeply listening to the inherent wisdom of our physical form. It can also be exceptionally beneficial for dealing with anxiety and PTSD as it can help regulate the nervous system, providing the conditions for parasympathetic activation promoting equilibrium when the sympathetic nervous system has been working overtime. It can thus promote the relaxation response by providing a space for the body to deeply relax, rest, recover and be nourished
In this Universe of ours, there is nothing non-causal. Do you know the meaning of non-causal ? Non-causal means "having no cause". In hoary past, there was a great philosopher named Kan'a'da. He said in his theory -- "Ka'ran'a'bha'va't ka'rya'bha'vah" Ka'ran'a means cause, Abha'va means want. Where there is no cause, there cannot be any efect. He was a scientist, and he invented the Atomic Theory. He was Mahars'i Kan'a'da. Long before Dalton's Atomic Theory, about 1500 years ago, 1000 years after Buddha, he said, 'Ka'ran'a'bha'va't ka'rya'bha'vah'. "Where there is no cause, there can not be any effect", and it was he who established the fact. Everything in this Universe of ours is causal. Now, here we are. Say a few years ago, none of you knew that Baba is on this Earth. None of you knew that Baba loves you. But Baba was there, and Baba loved you, though you were not acquainted with Baba. Is it not the fact ? And I think, now some of you feel that Baba loves you, at least a little. Don't I love you a wee bit? (Baba makes a pinch measure with His fingers). And I also realize that you love Me very much. (Baba makes a grand measure with his arms spread wide). You do not know, but it may or may not be a fact. Rather, it may be a fact that I knew you. Nothing is non-causal in the Universe. You came in close contact with Me, I came in close contact with you. This is also not non-causal. Certainly there is some cause behind this actual happening. The cause may or may not be known to you. There are so many people in this world. Why did you, boys and girls, come in close contact with Me, but not others ? Certainly there is some cause. And perhaps this cause or seed germinated in long past, say, 5000 or 10,000 years ago. The seed was there and it germinated, and finally, when its sprout was out, you came in contact with Me. What is sprout ? The white portion of the tree that first comes out of the seed. So, when nothing is non-causal, your coming in close contact with Me is also not non-causal. There is some cause, you do not know. It may be that in hoary past you were also in close contact with Me. It may or may not be on this Earth, on this planet. It may be on some other planet that you were known to Me. It may be that on that planet, we sat like this and decided that, "Let us go to that small planet known as Earth, and there we may do some work." And, just to fulfill the the pledge of ours, we have come here. So nothing is non-causal.
This Cause and Effect Theory is called Ka'rya-Ka'ran'a Tattva. In Sanskrit, Ka'ran'a means cause. Tattva means theory. Those who are theoreticians are called Ta'ttvika in A'nanda Ma'rga, because Tattva is theory. The range, the jurisdiction of this Ka'rya-Ka'ran'a Tattva is within the scope of mind -- within the scope of collective microcosm, and also Macrocosm, Separately for Macrocosm and collective microcosm. You should know the difference.
A particular man, a particular living being has got the ectoplasmic structure of microcosm, but the mind of Parama Purus'a is bigger than collective microcosm, because the entire crude world of quinquelemental factors is also a part of Macrocosm, a part of the mind of Parama Purus'a. This Cause and Effect Theory functions within the scope of collective microcosm. And above and beyond the range of this collective microcosm, there may be Cause and Effect Theory within the scope of Macrocosm as well. But as we can not bring Macrocosm within the scope of unit minds, rather it can not be tethered by logic and reasoning, that's why we may say that this Cause and Effect Theory functioning within the range of microcosm. The starting point of mind is zenith point of Cause and Effect Theory functioning within the range of microcosm. The zenith existence is beyond the periphery of this theory. It depends on the sweet will of Parama Purus'a. And human Cause and Effect Theory can not go beyond that zenith point.
If one wants to know something more beyond the scope of that zenith point, one is to coincide one's own existential nucleus with that final zenith point. When one will be one with the Macrocosm, one will know how sweet the Macrocosm is. And that, one can do by dint of one's devotional Sa'dhana'. Sa'dhana' without devotion is meaningless, a waste of time. Sa'dhana' with devotion means maximum utilization of human existence.
So you may or may not know the logic. You may or may not know the philosophy. You may or may not know the spirit of Cause and Effect Theory. But if you have got devotion, if you have got love for the Macrocosm, you will get everything. And the secret of Parama Purus'a is known only to Parama Purus'a. That is why, if you want to know Parama Purus'a, you won't be able to catch Him with the help of Cause and Effect Theory. Yoiu will have to become one with Him. There is no other alternative.
A finite entity requires a base for its existence. The base shall not only preserve its "I" feeling in physical form, but it shall also nourish the same every moment with vital energy for that entity. The subtle entity requires a base in exactly the same manner as a physical entity -- the base is simply the subtle form of the physical entity.
The subtle entity with which we are always intimately concerned is the mind. The base or vitality of the mind is the collection of objects which have been contemplated, accepted or discarded. These objects in their basic states are external physical, but the mind enjoys them in their internal impression, as mental forms.
The mind of a certain individual enjoys a particular finite object either for a long time or slowly according to its sam'ska'ras. After enjoying a particular object just for a short time it wants to turn to another. The mind cannot forever enjoy any finite object because the finite objects have both a beginning and an end. In that eternal movement, that which has a beginning certainly has an end too. You will not be able to enjoy it for all time. The long hands of death certainly will snatch it away. People fail to comprehend this. They treat those things as pleasant which, according to sam'ska'ras, they retain in their mind for some time or which they enjoy slowly. They treat this slow speed as pleasure and call it happiness.
The minds of some people remain absorbed in the thought of money for a long time. They surrender the fragrance of their lives at the altar of money. Others treat the achievement of fame or having a child as the principal object of their lives. They do not hesitate to lay down their life to have a son or to achieve fame. When the mind cannot enjoy a particular object for a long period, or enjoys it hurriedly, then such an experience is called a painful experience or pain. For example you cannot look at a decomposed corpse for a long time. Similarly, after a brief talk you will dispose as quickly as possible of a person who causes you pain.
Therefore, whether an object is pleasant or painful, its finiteness cannot be your permanent object. You and that object are bound to separate. The mind is needed for one's preservation and for its own preservation the mind needs a safe shelter, as can hold it throughout eternity. Human beings always crave for a safe shelter. Is it not so? Will you build your house on quicksand? No, you will construct your house on the firm foundation of solid earth.
People always seek a solid base to preserve their mental potentialities till eternity and to give them vital energy in the struggle with temporal factors. Is there a solid base in this world? That which is finite cannot be the base of your life, because it will be used up and will leave your mind unsheltered. Thrusting you in the abyss of darkness, it will pursue its course on the unending path. Therefore, no one except Brahma, the beginningless, endless and infinite can be the object of your mind and the base of your life. How then in this manifested Universe, where there are multitudes of finite objects can we start a life based on Brahma? The answer is that you adopt Madhuvidya'. Instead of seeing the finite and superficial objects as finite look upon them as the finite expressions of the Infinite or the permanent. Then the attraction for Preya and love for Shreya shall all fuse into one.
Vishvajaner pa'yer tale dhu'limay ei bhu'mi
Sei to svarga bhu'mi
Sava'y niye sava'r ma'ghe lokiye a'cho tumi
Sei to a'ma'r tumi.
Do you love son? It is perfectly right that you should, however, when the son dies, you will experience great pain. Is it not so? The son is Preya, a finite entity. He cannot live till eternity. He will depart and make you weep. But if you treat your son as the expression of Brahma in the form of your son, then you will never fear losing him because Brahma cannot be lost in any span of time. He is present around you in all the ten directions.
O Human beings, in that state, no finite object can colour your mind. You will be beyond all colours or Varn'a'tiita. Then you will be able to give proper treatment to any finite being that you may come in contact with. Give proper treatment to the expression of Brahma in the shape of your father by serving him and paying attention to his comforts. Give proper treatment to the expression of Brahma in the shape of the earth by cultivating it and increasing its fertility. If you give such proper treatment to the different objects, they will not be able to degrade your mind. This is called true Vaera'gya.
Vaera'gya does not denote renunciation, desertion or escaping to the Himalayas after leaving one's spouse, child and family. A'nanda Ma'rga staunchly opposes such an escapist mentality. According to Ananda Marga, the practice of Dharma by means of Vaera'gya is a part of family life. Those who harbor the sentiment of running away and leaving everything behind are laboring under a defeatist complex. The thief, who for fear of the police, the debtor, who for fear of the creditor, the afflicted, who for inability to put up with afflictions, are all amongst those who take recourse to the so-called Vaera'gya. Such Vaera'giis do not have the fortitude to face the setbacks of this world. They try to hide their cowardice under tall talks. Even when they accept the order of the so-called Vaera'gya, the worldly attractions do not abate in their mind. Therefore, pursuing an incorrect interpretation of the term, they insistently practice Tya'ga (abnegation). Consequently most of them fall from their path.
"Vaera'gya" is derived from the word vira'ga. The word "Ra'ga" denotes attachment. The practice whereby we develop detachment from finite objects, i.e. the discipline whereby the mind is not influenced by the attractions of worldly objects is Vaera'gya Sa'dhana'. The true Cosmic Entity is only revealed to people with this Vaera'gya. This Cosmic Entity alone is the basic shelter of the human beings. It is a strong foundation which shall not, at any time forsake them leaving him forlorn. In this very Cosmic shelter you can establish yourself fearlessly for all time to come.