|More about yoga...
"Venture from the known to the unknown." BKS Iyengar
Yoga is an art, a science and a philosophy. It is not a religion. It touches the life of a person at every level, physical, mental and spiritual. It enables every part of the human system to become attuned to its essence, the conscious seer within.
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word "Yuj" meaning to yoke, join or unite. This implies joining or integrating all aspects of the individual body with mind and mind with soul to achieve a happy, balanced and useful life, and spiritually, uniting the individual with the supreme.
Yoga can enable the practitioner to perceive and experience the world within and around himself or herself and to touch the divine joy of all creation.
Yoga means union.Of all unions, none is more meaningful or fulfilling thatn the meeting that takes place within when an individual meets with his or her Self.
We commence each session by chanting the mantram OM followed by the invocation to Patanjali. OM is the sound of eternity and the melody of this cosmic sound draws the mind gently inward and awakens our blissful self. The sound vibration expresses the realization of our divinity within the self.
OM consists of three inseparable sound waves A... U... M... followed by a transcendental silence.
From the sound A, the causal body of the macrocosm and microcosm evolves.
From U, the subtle body manifests, and from M the physical body. Beyond the physical, subtle and causal bodies lies Pure Consciousness, the silence into which OM dissolves.
What is Mantra? Mantra is an ancient technique for attuning oneself to the Cosmic Vibratiion which permeates all of creation. They are sacred sounds that purify the mind and spread peace throughout the world.
"LOKAHA SAMASTAHA SUKINO BHAVANTU"
This mantra means literally, "MAY ALL BEINGS FIND PEACE."
In it's translation, it implies that all beings are sustained by the same life force and therefore equal.
"Yoga is for all of us. To limit yoga to national or cultural boundaries is the denial of universal consciousness." BKS Iyengar1. Yama - Universal ethics: Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, sexual restraint and non-acquisitiveness.
Historically, Patanjali is said to have lived some time between 500 and 200 BC. Much of what we know of this master of yoga is drawn from legend. He was the author of Mahabhayasa, within which are the treatises on yoga called the Yoga Darsana, which is translated as "mirror of the soul". This was followed by his book on Ayurveda, the science of life and health.
The varied philosophies and methodologies of Yoga itself were clearly and methodically brought together and presented by the sage Patanjali in his set of 196 aphorisms called "The Yoga Sutras," written some 2200 years ago. The Sutras bring together all the various strands of theory and practice from all sources of yoga and present them in one concise, integrated and comprehensive text. How all the aspects interrelate and form part of the whole body of yoga are clearly elucidated.
There are 8 disciplines to yoga as presented by Patanjali (thus Ashtanga yoga - 8 limbed yoga) which must be practiced and refined in order to perceive the true self, the ultimate goal of Yoga:
2. Niyama - Principles of self conduct: purity, contentment, intense dedication or austerity, study of self and scriptures and self-surrender.
3. Asana - practice of the postures.
4. Pranayama - Breath control.
5. Pratyahara - withdrawal and control of the senses.
6. Dharana - concentration.
7. Dhyana - meditation.
8. Samadhi - a state of higher consciousness where the sense of self (ego) dissolves in the object of meditation and the individual self exists in its own pure nature.
"Yoga is the union of the individual self and the universal self." BKS Iyengar
Patanjali's work was dedicated to man's mental, physical and spiritual evolution.
The invocation to Patanjali at the beginning of each session is not a prayer but a traditional way of expressing respect and gratitude to the lineage of Patanjali and of making ourselves aware of the vast universal consciousness that pervades all of existence that we are all a part of. The majesty, the truth, the bliss, the silence and the knowledge are all reflected within ourselves.
The invocation to Patanjali
yogena cittasya padenba vacam
malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena
yopakarottam pravaram muninam
sankha cakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
(Please do not be overly concerned if you cannot memorize this chant right away. Over time and with practice it will become easier.)
The translation of the invocation above is as follows:
Let us bow before the noblest of sages, Patanjali, who gave yoga for serenity and sanctity of mind, grammar for clarity and purity of speech, and medicine for perfection of health.
Let us prostrate before Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa, whose upper body has a human form, whose arms hold a conch and a disc, and who is crowned by a thousand-headed cobra.
Where there is yoga, there is prosperity and bliss with freedom.
The invocation is followed by the practice of asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing) under Rajay's direction according to the Iyengar tradition. This leads up to a final fifteen minutes of savasna (corpse pose) and meditation before the session closes with, once again, the chanting of the mantram OM.
"An asana is not a posture which you assume mechanically. It involves thought, at the end of which balance is achieved between movement and resistance. When the mind is controlled and still, what remains is the soul. The ocean is the self, the waves are the thoughts. The self is silent-the thoughts make noise." BKS Iyengar
BKS Iyengar is one of the foremost teachers of Yoga in the world and has been practicing and teaching for over sixty years. There are Iyengar yoga centres all over the world. He has written many books on yogic practice and its philosophy including "Light on Yoga," "Light on Pranayama," "Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali", Yoga, The path to Holistic Health" and more.
BKS Iyengar's recognition as a yoga teacher is well known in the yoga world but it was a meeting with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1952 which led to BKS Iyengar's eventual international recognition. It was Yehudi Menuhin who arranged for BKS Iyengar to teach abroad in London, Switzerland, Paris and elsewhere and so meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life.
BKS Iyengar has also developed and refined the integral practise of pranayama (breath awareness) and dhyana (meditation) and continues to further develop his life's inspiration and teachings through daily practice at his present age of 90. His dedication and love for yoga continue to be the deepest inspiration to his devoted disciples from all over the world.
"Though man demarcates body, mind and soul, it is impossible to pinpoint where the body ends and the mind begins, or where the mind ends and the Self begins. They are interrelated and interwoven by the string of intelligence. Learning can be acquired but wisdom has to be earned." BKS Iyengar
This mantra is considered the most sacred of the Vedas and is chanted for wisdom and illumination.
om bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yonah prachodayat
Through the coming, going and the balance of life,
The essential nature which illumines existence is the adorable one,
May all perceive through subtle intellect,
The brilliance of enlightenment,
"My ending shoud be your beginning." BKS IyengarRecommended Reading
Read Christine Perre's interview with Prashant Iyengar, the son of BKS Iyengar. In the first part, titled "A Class after a Class" he speaks about different aspect of yoga practise. The second part "Our True Nature" is concerned with philosophical aspects of yoga.
You can read the interview online.
Yoga: An Integrated Science by Prashant Iyengar
(downloadable links to "A Class after a Class" & "Our True Nature")
Below please read excerpts from the book:
Discoures on Yog by Prashant S. Iyengar
Discourse 1: The Glory of Yog
The seer in the Upaishad is praising Yog here without any exxageration of hyperpole. He is just stating a fact. The seer proclaims:
Nothins is greater than Yog
Nothing is more sacred than Yog
Nothing is finer than Yog
The knowledge coming from Yog is absolutely limitless
The knowledge coming from Yog is supreme
Is not Yog truly magnificent? Is not Yog truly magnanimous?
Greatness of Yog
The yogic path shows the way for the upliftment of entire humanity, right from an ordinary individual to the godly and saintly man. Every step in the spiritual progress of man has importance of yog. The Bhagavadgita is taken to be a treasure trove of philosophy and a celestial song by Lord Krishna who is rightly called Yogeshvara and whose life story is an incarnation of Yog and philosophy. Every chapter of Bhagavadgita declares at the end that is a part of yog shastra, universal philosophy of yog. Every chapter relates to a particular facet of yog which is clear from their ending lines. For example, the chapters have their titles, Bhakti Yog, Karma Yog, Vibhuti Yog, etc. Every peice of advice in the Gita is a kind of yog.
The Vedas hold that the human body is the entire cosmos in micro or atomic form and it houses the Universal Spirit with all the divinites. The science of yog thinks of the world in the same way. It comprises of the different yogic paths- Yog (union with reality) viyog (eradication of negative attributes), prayog (experimentation) vinivyog (employment of positive inherent qualities) and upayog (utilization of supplementary virtures from outside). Shama (peace of mind), dama (self restraint) titiksha (endurance), uparati (didpassion), jnanavairagya (knowledge and renunciation), and shantisamadhana (tranquility and contentment0 constitute the six aspects of spiritual wealth.
Excerpt from: Discourses on Yog
by Prashant S. Iyengar
"To explain or summarize the profound sciences that deal with mysticism is the job of sages. Any Tom or Dick can never be entitled to do that. And yet, even though Kind Eagle cannot guage the expanse of the sky, paltry insects also try to fly according to their mean capacity.
This effort is similar to that."
THE HUMAN BODY
The body is the essential prerequisite for spiritual realization, this is an established principle of Dharma. Even though the body is the source of various ailments and sorrows, it is also an instrument of acquiring merit, piety and knowledge.
The science of Yog has classifed different levels of body into sthula (gross) sukshma (subtle) karana (causal) and Mahatkarana (intelligence). Thus viewed in this comprehensive manner, the corporeal body is the means of man's fulfillment. The science of yog is a study in entirety of all the aspects of human existence and it can show a path of fulfillment to human beings.
All the twenty four principles of (tattvas) of Prakruti (Nature) exist in this limited corporeal body. The entire universe is manifest in it. Therefore, thought must be given to the relationship of the Universe and the individual soul. The Universe consists of the seven upper worlds (Bhuhu, Bhuvaha, Svaha, Mahala, Janaha, Tapaha and Satyam). The seven subterranean regions are Atala, Vitala, Sutala,Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala, and Patala. The human body is composed of all the elements of the Cosmos.
The nature and characteristics of the Universe and the human body in general require close attention. The individual is composed of the five grosss elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether (space) and subtle elements (tanmantras). One has to consider the nature and functions of all these aspects. The individual is ocmposed of all these elements of tattvas. Thus,man is not merely an object of medical or anatomical sciences, but is also considered as part of the Cosmos.
Anatomical science is about the gross external body. Psychology is about the external behaviour of man. Man is, however, not determined merely by these characteristics since he possesses many more attributes, such as his sublimal impressions (samskaras) and the higher levels of the subtle sheaths of the body (koshas). Man has existed since the beginning of creation. These samskaras have been stored in the porcess of his metempsychosis. How much of it is dawned upon the modern science of psychology?
Man's physical body has to be viewed in its entirety. It consists of the five elements of nature viz., earth, water, fire, air and ether; the five tanmantras, the seven constituent elements (dhatus) ie, chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and semen. In addition there is the ego principle (Ahamkara), cosmic intelligence Gandha Mahat-tattva) and finally the primordial nature (Mula Prakruti).
All this has to be understood from the Samkhya philosophy of Kapila which is the very basis of the science of yog. Man has been existing since the beginning of creation.His corporeal body also contains all these elements (tattvas). In addition, man's body houses the soul. Thus the science of yoga is a complete philosophical system (Darshana) which enables one to understnd allthe aspects of the nature of man. Medical science merely explains the cuases of man's ill-health and the means of its eradication. Man's real nature is beyond the reach of medical science. Modern psychology is likewise inadequate for the understanding the total man. It only tells us about his actions and behaviour, his subconscious and lower mind etc.
The gross body consists of chyle, blood, flesh,fat, bone, marrow, and semen produced by the five gross elements, necessitation purifactory meas granthisures of the body, and elimination of sorrow and diseases. The gross body hovers between birth and death. It exists for one life-time only, but the jiva (individual soul) journeys through eighty- four lakh wombs along with ethe sukshuma sharira (subtle body). This sukshma sharira is not subject to death even once. Its end comes only once at the time of the final release on attaining Moksha or salvation.
The sukshuma sharira, like the gross body, also possesses the same characteristics of food, water, breath, movements and rest, and can be cast off like the gross body. Knowing this, an easy way is suggested for acheiving the highest value in life. Japa or uttering of the Lord's name (Nama sadhana) and meditation on his form are a powerful means, which aid in its attainment. The practice of yog in the developement of the sukshma sharira enables it to prepare for a higher birth in this very life. The practice of yog can bring about transformation of the causal body within the gross body. The gross body possesses a subtle divinity.
The practice of yog can transform the external and internal behaviour of the individual by controlling the six mystical plexi of the body, shatchakras, the subtle energy channels of nadis, panchpranas, the three important nodes of granthis-Vishnu Shiva and Brahma granthis. The science of yog shows the process of refining consittuent elements of the body (chyle, blood etc) the five elements (earth water fire air ether), the vital airs, the three granthis, the five , sheaths of the body, the three humours of wind (vata), . bile (pitta) and phelgm (kapha), the three gunas (sattva , rajas and tamas), the five upapranas etc. Man's internal state has to change for this. Externally, man may have distinct characteristics, but internally there exist several separate undercurrents. His apparent behaviour is mistaken for his character. Such and such person is irritable, calm or lazy, active, or bold, timid or pleasure seeking. All these are facets of apparent behaviour or temperament. However, there are times when, due to the ill-effects of the Shadripus, there is a play of innumerable states of mental activity.
We see different outward behavioural patterns, eg, of bold or timid, brutal or compassionate, happy-go-lucky, dallying or industrious and devout, irritable or tranquil. The irony of it is that quite often the irritable person gets angry with his own irritability, so also the man of calm disposition is irritated with his tranquility. Man is a peculiar creature so that sometimes even a bold person is diffident of his own boldness, so also the timid person is even proud of his own cowardice! in short, quite often, man feels awkward regarding his own good points as also the wicked man feels proud of his wrong doings. If a person is detemined to weep or grieve, he will do so in spite of his virtues of for the lack of tehm, and also possibly on account of his own wickedness. In short, any fanciful reason could be good enough for a person who is bent on weeping or grieving.
Mind is not actually bound by the mere physical limitations. Human body is formed of five sheaths. The sukshuma sharira is beyond the gross body. Man's mind existed before his birth and will remain even after his death. Therefore, for a real understanding of man's nature there is no alternative to the science of yog. What is the essence of man's nature? His corporeal body and the various organs have their origin in Nature (Prakruti). What is his cosmic or universal characteristic? Man journeys through Nature's processes of creation and dissolution and a correct perception is necessary in this regard. It is not really correct to say that man comes into this world with birth and dies in death. He is actually constantly moving with the wheel of time and the cycle of creation. it would therefore be relevant to recognize the importance of Time. Time is both the cause and effect of everything in this world. Time consists of a succession of moments, as well as a collection of moments. Every moment is a constituent of the Reality of creation. Every happening is associated with time. "There is a time for everything" is practical everyday experience., which is both logical and scientific. Sequence of events is real. The different time periods ranging from the second to minute, hour, day, week, month, year, era, age, etc., all these are surprisingly only the products of imagination. Our idea of time is unreal, illusory and deceptive. While thinking about time, man has to say ultimately at one moment "kalaya tasmai namaha" and stop (oh time, we are nothing before you. We bow before you)
Time is the product of Prakruti, which is erroneously supposed to be founded on reality- the absudity of this idea send sthe brain spinning. While studying the cosmos, it will be recognised that Ishvara is lodged int ehe minutes unit of time, creation and soul. He is a cause of the supreme attainment of the highest value of liberation or salvation or Moksha. Man can attain the highest on realising the Self, the highest bliss, which is not external but within himself, and in order to do this, he will have to obtain the knowledge of the Self. Yog is the surest means of attain this Self-knowledge.
The point to be made here is that in order to transform a man's temperament and behaviour, knowledge of the si plexii is necessary. Yogashastra demonstrates the technique for his transformation. For effecting the transformation, an investigation into the six-fold chakras is helpful. As a consequence of this effort, it is possible to evolve a fundamental transformation in man's panchaprana, panchatattva, vata, pitta, and kapha, or, tridosha.
If we say that the word manava or mankind is derived from the word manas or mind, the truth of the dominance and control of manas over mankind is easily understood. We are human beings, not merely on account of possession our two hands, and our ability to stand on our two legs, but essentially because of our mind, which is far beyond logic, understanding and intellect. Mind, which is present in this corporeal body of six feet is profounder than the ocean, higher than Mount Everest and more expansive than the sky. This fact eludes our attention. The sun exhibits itself and at the same time iluminates the world, but on the other handk, the mind enlightens the entire Univerese, but is hidden in the self. In order to discover this hidden mind and to secure direct Self-perception, there can be no alternative to Yogshastra. Just as the sea is nothing but water, so also the mind is constituted of the subtle and the abstract. So also yogashastra is nothing but science of the mind, consciousness and psyche. In all senses, yog is the science of the mind, intellect and ego. Complete knowledge of the human mind is contained in yogshastra. The focal point of mind is "I". "I" also belongs to the first person in grammar. Thus, mind is firmly attached to this "I". To detach this "I" from the Self by tangible means is extremely difficult.Yoga sadhana does this task very easily. Just as we can remove a thorn from the foot, and minutely observe it, so also the spiritual aspirant can remove his "I", and observe and study it in the test tube of the yogic laboratory. This can be called the science of 'witnessivity'.
Every moment, unfathomable, all while bubbling with bizarre, strange, spasmodic and unpredicatble activities-this is mind. Despite that yogshastra encompasses this infinite mind. In reality, these mind vrittis, movements or thought waves are incapable of esitmation. However, yogashastra has analsed this problem logically, and it postulates that, even though the vrittis are infitinite in number, they are eitherafflicted or unafflicted, and can be classed into only five types. Afflicted or defective vrittis cause man's downfall, and unafflicted or pure vrittis result in his upliftment. Thus, however complicated be the mind-activity, vrittis are strictly limited only to five types without a sixth one. It is emphasized that yogshastra has simplified the analysis in a marvellus manner, by classifying the vrittis, by describing their cause and efect, and by defining their afflicted and unafflicted states. Mind, actually, is unfathomable. It is considered to be deeper than the ocean, high as the skies and infinitely expansive.
Lord Krishna in shloka 35 in Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita states the following: "To win one's own mind is more difficult than winning a whole army of Napoleon or Alexander. The power to control the unrestrained is described in yogashastra, and it can be attained through yogsadhana. Yogshastra contains a scientic study of the total human body and mind.
Man is made up of several constituent elements, such as the organs of perception and of action and the mind; in addition, he has the physiological constituents, such as lungs, stomach, spleen, liver etc.There is however, a subtle aspect regarding the above constitutents of the human system which requires to be stressed and whch is explained in yogshastra. All these constituens have five characteristc features according to this shastra.
Grahana, the functional form of the sensation of organs, svarupa, the substantive form, asmita, the 'I' ness behind the senses and organs, anvaya, sattva, raja, tama constitutents, arthavatva, purposiveness which has bhogarthata and apavargarthata are the five features. It may be observed that the eye is located in a hollow and does the job of seeing. It is able to see an object which is its function but that is not its true nature. The mere superficial action of a sweeper in doing the job of sweeping is definitely not his true nature. He has his own independent individual character.
Thus each constituent of the human system has its unique functional aspect and through the differences in their functional aspects are cognizable, they are really directed by man's "I" or ego. The organs and limbs are in reality directed the active constituents of the mind. They have their own "I consciousness" which is the product of the three gunas. Finally, the experience of joy and sorrow and final emancipation is the aim and purpose, and this purposiveness the basis of the above five forms-such is the extraordinary and established postulate of yogshastra. The yog practitioner has his own kind of experience and extraordinary predilection. For example, any organ such as the abdomen or liver acquires a different nature from its functional form, through the practice of shavasana and meditation. After the vrittis are restrained and one attains samadhi, all the sense organs are absorbed in their pristine state.
Prana is inherent in the vrittis of attachment and detachment of a person. The source of man's existence and external manifestation is prana. It has the greatest contribution to man's character and individuality. It is the basis of all man's physical, mental, perceptive, emotional, and intellectual activities.
The great significance of prana is borne out by the following shloka of the Atharva Ved:
'Prana is the Lord of the Universe. All is controlled by Him. All is contained in prana only.
The above shloka gives a fitting description of prana. Prana is seen to be all-pervading.
Such is the glory and supremacy of prana. Yogashastra gives us the sacred knowledge of prana. All of man's internal and extrnal activity takes place through panchaprana, due to panchaprana and for panchaprana.
Panchaprana exists in man's physical, mental, intellectual and emotioanl states. Yog has the means of controlling this panchaprana. Yogashastra is the very science of prana. An ancient commentary of the Samkhyakarika, contained in the Yuktidipika, makes the following observations:< br>
The internal action of prana is Breathing,its external action is self-confident action.
The Internal action of apana is Excretion and Reproduction. Its external action is succesfful retreat.
The internal action of samana is Digestion of food intake, it's external action is co-operation, co-ordination.
The internal action of vyana is Nerve conduction al over the body. It's external action is pride or arrogance such brandishing a dagger, the threatening action of takein out a sword form its sheath.
The internal action of udana is Conduction arterial pulsation of the temporal and brain region. Its external action is living together, peity, generosity, samaritanism.
Prana plays an important role in understanding of the corporeal body, the mind and moulding of intellectual excellence.
In the practice of yog, prana is not only the prime mover but it is all-in all. Man's internal and external transformation takes place through prana, ie, only through the pranice technique of yogsadhana.
Yog has the capability of fully controlling the panchapranas and the pancha upapranas. It is by controlling prana that a yogi can control the three worlds.
The entire process in Astanga Yog right from the first yama or ethical discipline of ahimsa, non-violence is controlled by prana. The ashtama\hasiddhis, the eight major yogic powers of a yogi are generated through prana.
Yog shastra thoroughly expounds the pranic principle with all it's ramifications. The entire sacred knowledge of prana is contained in yogshastra.
The 18 Mahakriyas of Yogasana
Prashant S. Iyengar
Any and all endeavours commence with a formal beginning or preliminaries or orientation/s. Yogasanas, too, have such a beginning and these are quite profound and transforming. A lot of toning, tuning, transforming, adaptations, acclimitizations are involved. These are very profound commencements ranging from change of ambiance, environment and atmosphere within the embodiment.
Basically, the embodiment has to become Kshetra as the Gita explains in the 13th chapter. The Kshetra-concept in the 13th chapter of the Bhagwad Gita should be understood not as a "Field" but a shrine of Atma-Paramatma and sub-serving deities within (330 of them). The commencement Kriyas are incomparably more profound than they are elsewhere in other endeavours. This is because the foundation of Adhyatmik endeavour such as Yog and Yogasana has a very deep and extensive foundation with a lofty structure for spiritual summum bonum.
If one wrongly looks at Asanas as physical exercises or physical culturing acts, then mere limbering and warming up would suffice. In modern times, Yog needs only LOOSENING, LIMBERING AND WARMING UP.
However, in traditional and essential Yogasanas, the preparatories and preliminaries are profound,, extensive and comprehensive because of 'Yog' in Asanas.
The aspect of:
1. Nirodha in Chitta
2. Restraining Potentials
3. State of Intense Integrations
5. Sublimations for Shrine Conditions in Embodiment
9. Kneaded Conditions
The above imply a very extensive, penetrative and transformative preparation. Prolific aspects of Yog are learnt at the very beginning.
The Yog, at such a stage, is more of the nature of SAMYOG (UNION) than CHITTAVRITTI NIRODHA.
The united, associated and amalgamated conditons are stressed upon.
Thus, there are dynamics for awareness in body-mind breath and mutual relativities, considerations and addressals in body, mind and breath.
Associated conditions are to be evolved.
They are what can be called as:
in the embodiment for the participaton of the entire phenomenal embodiment, not merely bio-mechanical actions as normally deemed.
Then, there are:
in the phenomenal embodiment (that is body, limbs, trunk, senses, mind, organs, brain, breath etc.).
These connected conditions help raise:
in the embodiment.
What is an associated condition?
We have different conditions, and manifestations in different associations with
friends, colleagues, relatives etc.
Similarly, when body-mind-senses, 'I'-'me'-'mine', psyche consciousness etc get collected and connected, there emerge different and unique subjectivistic, associated conditons which are paramount in Yog. Body, mind and breath are reckoned to be the three important aspects of our embodiment.
In the commencement of an Asana, one needs to evolve the following associations:
Thus, Body, Breath-Mind become:
Associated Breath and
The above three assume different and unusual potentials, conditions, status, characteristics, attributes and manifestations. What they are individually and what they are in associated states are two incomparable conditions. As one proceeds with these negotiations, one will realize that these connected conditions are by voluntary, profound, extraordinary and compatible exhalations. There is, what can be called as, 'postural exhalations.' The associations are so thick and profound that they gel very well with each other. There comes a process called the :
Kneading act for well-gelled associations.
WHAT IS THE KNEADING ACT IN ASANAS?
One kneads flour, water and oil for making chapattis and pastas. When kneaded they are ready for roasting and baking. The process, in any case, is magical!
For instance, wheat flour is very finely milled wheat, which is a very powdery, dry matter. In its original state, it does not get along with water. But by strokes of one's hands and fingers, one kneads the flour, water and oil together. The powdery dry flour, water and a sticky substance like oil, each have mutually different characteristics. They do not gel at all; water and oil can never merge and blend. So also, dry flour and sticky oil have mutually opposing natures, which, when kneaded, become indistinctly unified and turn out a forth kind of matter which is flexible like china clay. Is this not a magical transformation?
Similarly, the three major matters of embodiment, namely, the body of the cells, tissues and fibers; breath, which is gaseous, and mind, which is non-physical, start to gather, merge, amalgamate and unify. Thus a fourth matter out of these three is turned out. This matter is used in Asanas instead of:
Independent Body Independent Breath and Independent Mind
in Isolated conditions.
Thus, comes up the first disillusionment that Asanas are by the body as they seem. One cannot wish away Asanas as physical. The nature of Yog-union- can be actualized by the unison of body, breath and mind. The three in unison turn out a fourth entity. It should be noted that the mode of Asanas is to engender this kneaded condition. The invaluable role of breath and breathing is worth noting. The breath develops remarkable potentials to permeate the matter of body and mind in Asanas. Similarly, the mind-awareness also permeates the matter of body and breath. Thus, the amalgamated, merged and unifed matter of embodiment is turned out. This, then, is the unique matter used for performing, laying and delineating Asanas.
"Asanas are not be be done, performed, or executed. Yogasanas being a 'seat', must be laid and delineated. In Indian classical music, maestos do not play Raga but delineate a Raga. Similarly, Asanas are to be delineated and not executed with technical regimen."
To further describe the unifed state of body-mind-breath-organs-psyce-consciousness etc., for Yogasana, the following illustration will help:
"In sleep, the body-mnd-breath-senses are unified; similarly, in Asanas too, these need to be unified."
It will be realised that the breath is a marvellous unifying agent to turn out unifed condition for all aspects of the embodiment. The body and mind have many delimiting factors such as class, caste, creed, gender, status, stature, conditon, genetic inheritance, karmic inheritance, ethnic influences, etc., whereas the breath has none of these. Breath, being a transcendent substance, is a marvel. It is highly natural and universal in essence and nature. It helps to overcome the gravities of the physical-mental aspects and their delimitations. It is a great catalyst, converter, transformer and transmitter. It has cosmic and divine origins.",br>
(The 18 Maha Kriyas of Yogasana)
Prashant S. Iyengar
Second Kriya-The Bodily Acts
"These are not physical Kriyas because by priliminaries, the embodiment is kneaded and thus attains status of 'associated body'. Now, the body is unified substance of body-matter, breath-matter and mind-matter. Thus, the Kriyas which are seemingly physical through bio-mechanical actions are not physical kriyas or Sharirek Kriyas, but are bodily Kriayas or Shareera Kriyas. The difference between Shareera Kriya and Sharireek Kriya must be noted.
In Asana, if the body and its parts or limbs are moved and mobilised or acrtivated, they are not the same as when moved in physical exercise act or physical culture act. In Shareera Kriyas, the associated body will be worked on in the following ways:
"Body for Body, Body on Body";
Here, the physial body may work on organic body or limbs on trunk and trunk on limbs. It should be noted here that the physical and organic body will be of an associated and kneaded condition. Thus, one aspect of body will address, set right and culture another aspect of body, So also, the next aspect,
"Body for Breath, Body on Breath";
Associated body with the assistance of associated mind conditions, evolves and/or cultures the associated breath and breathing. The bio-mechanics here are addressed to breath and breathing. The asanic breath or associated breath becomes the beneficiary with the associated body being the benefactor.
The third aspect of Shareera Kriya is:
"Body for Mind, Body on Mind".
In Asanas, the associated body by the seemingly bio-mechanical actions sets right and/or conditions, evolves and cultures the mind. Bodily acts in asana contribute for mind state and profile which the assistance of breath. The mind is benefitted in Asana in various ways: it becomes prepared, alert, disposed, empowered, participating, involved, animated, Sattvik-ised, steady, steadfast, focused, transmuted, tranquil, soothed, etc. Thus the bodily Kriyas are primarily in benefit of
in their associated condition and thus the YOG process can be augmented. These are Shareera Kriyas."
Third Kriya -The Breathly Acts
YOGASANAS (THE 18 Major Kriyas of Yogasanas)
Prashant S. Iyengar
"Breath and breathing have a leading role to play in the aspects and practices of Yog.
of breath and breathing.
Be it a physical practice, a moral-ethical practice or a psycho-mental practice, the breath and breathing are the main means and play a praiseworthy role.
are primarily composed by breath and breathing. They are breath-based, breath-profuse, breath-intensifed, breath-major, breath-led and breath-dependent as well.
The bodily actions, positions, movements and states have prominence in Asana.
Undoubted and unquestionable!
One needs to accomplish:
Release, Activity, Potency, Mobility, Power, Energy etc.
One needs to go through loosening, limbering and create conducive conditions in body to reinstate the postural component of Asana.
Posture implies movement, positions, conditions and states of the body.
One needs to carry out various bio-mechaical actions of the body, joints and muscles such as:
Hardening, Tightening, Stretching, Softening, Loosening, Extending, Contracting, Elongattng, Expanding, Flexing, Bending, Turning, Concaving, Convexing, Relaxing etc.
Howver, in Asanas the breath must be used for each of these actions with prominence and specifications."
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