Comfortable and steady posture. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler
BY SUSHANT PANDEY
Concept of Asana
Asana (posture) and Pranayama are the 3rd and 4th limbs in the text of Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Asana literally means ‘seat’. In the text of Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Asana is described as a seat of meditation. In the second chapter, verse 46; Patanjali defines asana as ‘sthiram sukham asanam’. This verse is translated as ‘posture (should be) steady and comfortable’. While defining posture Patanjali was well aware of the body-mind connection. Therefore he puts asana after Yama (social codes of conduct) and Niyama (personal codes of conduct). He knows that having practised or incorporated the aspects of Yama and Niyama in life, sitting steady is possible. Sthirta (steadiness) of the body is only possible when one has channelled the mental energies. Otherwise sitting still is a big task. (more…)
Yamas & Niyamas according to Patanjali. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler
BY SUSHANT PANDEY
Raja yoga is understood as one of the classical branches of the yoga tradition. Literally, the term ‘Raja Yoga’ connotes, the culmination or highest state of yoga. Raja means royal; it is so named because it enables the yogin to reach the illustrious king within oneself, the supreme self or atman. In various texts or scriptures of yoga, this term is used in different context as well. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika; one of the most popular traditional Hatha yoga texts; it is mentioned that ‘the knowledge of Hatha yoga is only for Raja Yoga’. (Verse 2/chapter 1).
The term Raja Yoga used here stands for highest state or culmination of yoga i.e. Samadhi or the state of transcendence. Here most scholars and aspirants get confused that purpose of Hatha Yoga is to prepare one for Patanjali’s Raja Yoga. But here in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the author (swami Swatmarama) is referring to attaining the state of Samadhi through Hatha yoga. Raja Yoga, therefore, refers to the highest state of yoga practice i.e. practices leading to the state of Samadhi. (more…)
I often get approached by people, who ask for recommendations of ashrams in India where they can study yoga. At some point in time, both beginners in yoga and experienced yoga practitioners long to come closer to the source of knowledge.
Before suggesting a concrete place to go, I always ask, what is the real motivation for them to undertake such a journey. Is it the desire to advance their physical yoga practice, is it the search for spiritual growth, a way to heal from a trauma to detox body and mind, or maybe just an idea to spend a holiday in a useful way? For many, a yoga retreat in a beautiful set up in Goa or a residential stay in a yoga school can be just a much better option.
When you do decide to go to a real ashram to study yoga, there are a few things to consider, that will help you understand if it is the right place for you to stay. (more…)
BY SUSHANT PANDEY
The process of meditation entails centering, mindfulness and internalization of awareness. Traditionally, the process of meditation is seen as a continuous process of an inward journey from the field of sensorial dimension to the innermost state of being. Technically this process begins with the stage of Pratyahara (withdrawal of mind). Pratyahara is the first and foremost stage of meditation which starts with the awareness and acknowledgement of sensorial inputs and simultaneous witnessing awareness. There are many techniques which are employed to help facilitate this process of mind-withdrawal. (more…)
Main Lecture Hall of the Yogshala
BY ADITHI MATHEWS
Set in the Yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh Yogis Yogshala has it’s heart set on spreading the message of authentic Yoga. The founders of the shala, Uttam and Sushant met while teaching Yoga at Ananda in the Himalayas. After a few conversations about the lack of authentic Yoga schools in India, the duo decided to open their own Yogshala in their hometown Rishikesh. (more…)
Yoga Therapy was greatly influenced immensely by Guruji BKS Iyengar. A picture from RIMYI, Pune. from Photography: Coni Hörler
BY MEREL MARTENS
Since yoga is becoming more and more mainstream, yoga therapy is rising in popularity too. I have studied medicine myself and have been practicing, studying and working with yoga for many years now. It is beautiful to observe that yoga therapy is not only being embraced by so-called ‘alternative people’ and ‘yoga lovers’, but by medical professionals alike! For example, in the yoga therapy programs that my school offers we have students working as physiotherapists, as well as students who have never opened a medical textbook in their lives. (more…)
Pranayama at Bihar School of Yoga in Munger. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler
BY SUSHANT PANDEY
Yoga is a path; a philosophy to harmonise the interactions and expressions of consciousness and energies in an individual. There are numerous methods and tools employed to reach a state of inner poise, balance and harmony. These interactions of energies and consciousness express onto different layers of existence; creating various dimensions of human functioning and experiences. In our lives, we experience dimension of expressions in the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and behavioural plane. From the grossest level; it is the physical body where both energy and consciousness interact on the plane of gross energies, vitality and senses. Then on subtle plane, we have the expressions of mental energies. The existence of emotional energies makes us experience the emotional dimension of being. And then we do experience more subtle expressions of intellect in the form of clear, detached and refined perspective to life and events. The cumulative interactions of these various energies and consciousness present there result in the outcome of certain behavioural patterns and interaction with the external environment. (more…)