“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter your flame.”
~ B.K.S. Iyengar
I’ve been waking up early, without the aid of my 5:45 alarm on my iPhone. And had a most happy, and lengthy, sitting this morning, as I waited for the sun to very slowly make its way up from behind the clouds and the large plume of Sahara dust, giving us more hot and hazy conditions. Yet, our breeze is still here, and I put on a light jacket as I sat, as I was chilled from the internal heat generated by my meditation ….
I have a Daily Yoga Quote app on my iPhone, which comes in with a little bleep at 5:00AM, and I’m wondering if this might be what’s beginning my early rise. I feel so tied into the universe today, as the quote which arrived, is exactly the quote I had intended to use for this morning’s post.
I was thinking about a book which was required reading for my yoga teacher’s training: “How Yoga Works“. It’s a beautiful story of a young girl, in ancient times, who teaches yoga to her captors. One of my favorite quotes from the book was coming to mind:
“If we do something just to help ourselves, it will never work. You can never really put effort into a thing if it’s only for yourself. It has to be for something bigger (for someone else).”
I spent some time yesterday, creating a small packet of information, so that I could teach the Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskara A, the beginning to most yoga classes. I felt so joyful, recalling the Sanskrit for the nine postures, in the flowing series of movements, tied to breath. Hearing myself, asking my friend to coming to the front of his mat in Samasthitih, hands in anjali mudra, or prayer at his heart. Setting an intention for his practice if he wishes. And we begin, inhaling, bringing our arms out, and up overhead, into raised arm pose … Urdhva Hastasana. Swan diving forward, exhaling, coming into forward bend … Uttanasana …
I was amazed at this desire to teach …. So thank you my friend, for trusting me to be your teacher, and showing me yet another something new about myself!
My flame is brighter ….
But the fact that my shoulder muscles (or more properly, my deltoid muscles) are sore from just 6 rounds of sun salutation yesterday, and the day before, makes me laugh (and cringe at how out of shape I am) !!!
John Scott writes in “The Way of Ashanga Yoga“: Ashtanga Yoga is a science and a practice that has evolved over a period of thousands of years to deal with moral, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development. The term astanga, means “eight limbs” and was devised in 200BC (or as early as 400BC according to some), by the great Indian sage Patanjali. He was the first yogi to systematize an approach to yoga, and his eight-limb system provided then, as it still does today, a set of steps through which practitioners can progress in order to reach a state of yoga.
In this context, “yoga” means the yoking, or union, of mind, body and soul leading to self-realization. In order to achieve this union, it is first necessary to take control of the mind and to remove the unnecessary stimuli and clutter that get in the way of clarity. Within the eight-limbed system of Ashtanga, the third limb is asana. This is the practice of classical yoga postures, and it is the device that ties the mind to the body through the “thread of the breath”.
The three techniques of vinyasa or movement – ujjayi breath (or victorious breath), bandhas (energetic locks) and dristis (points of focus) – when applied together, bring about the physical and meditative aspects of Ashtanga Yoga. The practice itself (once the student becomes experienced enough to stop thinking about which asana comes next) becomes a moving meditation. But this grace can only become real when all the aspects of the practice come together in harmony.
Chapter One of the Yoga Sutra – Integration.
Yoga Sutra 1:1 – Now, the teachings of Yoga.
Yoga Sutra 1:2 – Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness (the act of restraining or freeing the mind from the clutches of its modulations).
Yoga Sutra 1:3 – Then pure awareness can abide in its very nature (the seer then rests or remains in his/her own nature, that being in union, one with the divine).
Yoga Sutra 1:4 – Otherwise awareness takes itself to be the patterns of consciousness (you identify yourself with the modulations of the mind all the time).
May I have faith in the teachings, that I can guide my friend in OM, flowing towards pure awareness, Samadhi, union, bliss.
(And how wonderful, as I made my way over to Facebook, my teacher trainer partner, Anna, will be coming on island to visit next week … surely another beautiful sign from the universe.)