Because asana quiets the mind, it is preparation for meditation. Indeed, it can be a form of meditation. It fosters awareness of the mind’s functioning, the body’s state of wellbeing, and the mechanics of breath. Asana helps us reconnect with the vast wisdom that controls and directs body function, the same wisdom that wants to bring our body into healthy balance.
Asana helps to calm the mind and temper emotions. Challenging the physical body helps the practitioner connect with the other levels of self. Because of the rapid ability of the physical body to reflect change, it demonstrates the capacity to change on deeper unseen levels. The physical body is our home in this reality. Memories can be stored in our tissues. Asana is away of strengthening the will and exploring our psychological makeup, creating a balance between our material and spiritual existence.
Moving into and holding various configurations of the physical body as part of the practice of yoga is called asana. When people in the West think of yoga, this narrow range of the total discipline commonly comes to mind. In Sanskrit, ‘asana’ translates as ‘seat’ or ‘seat next to the teacher’, expressing the need to be comfortable in the body before other learning can commence.
Asana practice improves health, strength, flexibility and balance. The lymphatic system of the body needs movement and the flexing of muscles to propel lymph fluids through the body. All the components of the body need to be exercised to maintain optimum function. Without stimulation they tend to atrophy.
The energy of attention stimulates latent apana. Because of the sexual nature of the pelvic prana, sensual arousal might occur. Just observe and accept. There is no need to censure the experience. Enjoy the meditation in observer consciousness.
After a set number of breaths, the attention moves up to the first chakra. If the meditator has time, he or she can relax into the experience and allow attention to percolate up to the sacrum on its own. The first chakra is awash with the color red. When initially meditating, all the aspirant needs is to be aware of is the color expressed through each chakra. With practice, all that will be necessary is to touch the front of the body over a particular chakra and the color associated with it will appear before the mind’s eye. Relax into the hue, feel it as much as visualize it. The shade of the color may vary from meditation to meditation and can be an indicator of the influences the person is presently under.
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You are being let in on a big secret. This shouldn’t be a secret, but it is: ‘enlightened’ and ‘relaxed’ mean the same thing. They are synonymous. We are easing into liberation of the full expression of ‘Self’. If you had the capacity to fully let go, you would literally fall into the full perfect expression of your being. Since enlightenment is so infrequent, the ability to completely relax appears to be very rare.
Asana is helping us to be at ease in our bodies so the body is no longer a distraction. Pranayama is helping create the necessary energy and balance. Now we can start to relax. We can meditate.
Lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea,
To the open arms of the sea.
Lonely rivers sigh “wait for me, wait for me”
I’ll be coming home,
Wait for me.
Oh my love, my darling
Hungered for your touch
A long lonely time,
And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much,
Are you still mine?
I need your love, I..,
I need your love
God speed your love to me
Righteous Brothers 1966
There is much discussion, and among some, anxious speculation, about the coming Winter Solstice on December 21, 2012. This is the last date posted on the very accurate Mayan Calendar. I just saw a cartoon with two ancient Mayan stone carvers chipping away at large stone disks and one of them saying — “Well that’s it, I just ran out of room…um, …I wonder if this is gonna freak some people out?”
Among the cycles within cycles: tides, seasons, lifetimes, on a scale small enough to be familiar and universally accepted, are the less familiar cycles on a stellar scale. Just as our earth circles the sun, the sun is circling the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, which along with the other galaxies, circle that source point all matter and energy are expanding from. Everything is a field of interconnection—what happens somewhere has an affect on everything everywhere.
This is the principle employed through the Zodiac. Within a yearly cycle the earth moves through spheres of influence. Within an approximate 2,000 year cycle, the dominate influence gradually shifts from one of the twelve divisions to the next influence in a clockwise direction. It is why the ancients constructed their early time keeping devices to function clockwise, to reflect these more dominate stellar relationships.
We are now making one of those 2,000 year shifts, from one designation, the Piscean Age, to the next, the Aquarian Age. As you can picture—this shift is very gradual, and at some point, we are said to have left one field of influence and now be in the next. This is happening very slowly in terms of human time. Because of the gradual nature of this shifting influence, change is also very gradual.
From observation of the influence of Aquarius on yearly cycles, assumptions are made about this ‘New Age’: Awareness of our objective connection with our Divine origins will become universal, dissolving the subjective identification fostering separation and loneliness. Spiritual understanding will erase materialism. Just in time, values will change and our most pressing problems—threatening the very continuation of humanity—will no longer be feed by our fear.
A much larger 26,000 year cycle of our sun’s relationship with the Milly Way is coinciding with an even greater more advantageous alinement of our sun, the Milky Way, and the sacrosanct coalesce of our Divine Source.
In summation: There is going to be change, everything is always changing—natural change—to quote the Beatles, “Everything is getting better.”
Bikram Yoga is a style of Hatha Yoga imported to the United States by Bikram Choudhury in the middle 1970’s. It is the forerunner of the ‘hot yoga’ becoming broadly popular. High heat is used to limber the muscles. Bikram Yoga is practiced in studios heated in excess of 110 degrees F.
The exact same twenty-six postures are performed in the same order, for the same length of time, each ninety minute class session; starting and closing with a breathing exercise, and finishing with ‘deadman posture.’ Instructors are taught a dialogue that is repeated almost verbatim. Mirrors are surrounding the participant, so they can observe their performance.
I will discuss some of the benefits of the practice, having participated in four to five sessions a week, while still doing more conventional Hatha practice in addition, for over a dozen years. Entering the studio, at times, your first impression is you’ve entered a too hot sauna — the heat does limber the body at a very deep level. When practicing Bikram, you should be cautious performing the same postures without the heat. You can harm yourself because of reduced flexability. Doing the same postures, in the same order, for the same duration, while under exacting instruction, it is easy to observe and appraise your performance. The postures have unique subtle differences from conventional Hatha practice, and are very effective. They are sequenced in a very logical and complementary order. The high heat causes sweating, the skin being our largest organ, this can get rid of toxins, is purifying and good for the skin.
Bikram instructors have been known to tout the very one dimensional ‘physical’ nature of the practice. “This ain’t no incense, candles, and chanting–gazing at your navel yoga.” No mention or claims of spiritually are made. Because it is yoga, and because of the nature of yoga—a Bikram practice can be very spiritual. Its demanding nature forces the participant to explore their relationship with themselves, pushing through great exertion and exhaustion. The ‘sameness’ of the session frees the mind from thought. It’s a common to experience altered states through extreme exertion, what athletes call entering a ‘zone’. Think of the altered consciousness sought by swirling dervishes. During practice you are encouraged to focus on a spot between the brows on your image reflected in the mirror. It’s easy to lose subjective awareness and meld with the field. Exerting the will to accomplish a very difficult arduous task, one moment at a time, can be very educational and gratifying. It can be possible to have a glimpse of our more than human nature.
Some aspirants can’t take the heat and a person should know some yoga and be in pretty good shape, with a well hydrated body, before attempting a class. In all the thousands of classes I participated, only once did I see an ambulance have to cart someone away. Bikram Yoga’s greatest detractor is Bikram Choudhury himself. Why his guru, who developed the sequence, chose Bikram to bring the teaching to America is interesting to speculate on. Bikram projects a public persona of arrested development at around twelve years of age. He flaunts his narcissism and materialism. His ego appears to have no consideration for the feelings of others. Maybe there is a lesson here too. We’re all human and with fault— learn to look beyond the messenger and evaluate the message on its own merits?
SEVENTH (DIMENSION) CHAKRA
Yoga thinks of this seventh dimension as an alter where spiritual energy, processed up through the chakras, is offered to the Divine and accepted with unqualified love.The intensity of that acceptance, or love, further stimulates the spiritual oscillations, further refining them, causing their ascent. Imagine love so great, our concept of love does’t begin to approach it: Completeness, understanding, beauty and joy so transcendent, it surpasses our cognition.
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