A FASCINATING TRIO

AHIMSĀ 🟱 SATYA 🟱 ƚAUCA

In my yoga training that just ended the participants put forth some yoga philosophical topics they had been reflecting on and some questions about the state of awareness in the asana practice.

The first question was asked by Jenni. During the training she had concluded that I give the energy level the priority over the physical body when I adjust asanas. She wanted to be sure that she had understood me right. I first answered by admitting that that’s how I behave. But then I corrected my words by saying that everything always depends on the context. 

Usually when yoga practitioners practice asanas as if they were doing some sports, which means that they put a lot of effort both in the movement and the immobility of the asana, they can’t feel the energy level of their bodies. The power of the physical body overrules it. Whereas if you approach the practice through the energy level, you have a bigger field and a different awareness and you can do a much more subtle practice. You can listen to your different bodies. Therefore, if from this starting point you realize your body needs more energy, power or movement, you can add more energy to it. But it doesn’t work the other way around. 

As a yoga teacher and facilitator I have the same approach. I connect to the student in a bigger field to feel the whole. I listen to this to understand if our ”intentions” can connect too. If we are one on the energy level, it’s easy to bring the awareness to another element, i.e. to the reality of the physical body. When you are aware of these different fields, you can really support the student’s practice. For example, if the student has a very errant mind and her/his body feels unrooted, it’s essential to give rootedness with your own physical presence and clear touch. But if the student is very physical, it can be justified to have a lighter and more energetic presence to tune her/him to feel more than just the physicality and in a more sensitive and open way.

To teach yoga and to guide the students are both this kind of listening to me: Do we share the same awareness? Where are we? Are we on the physical, energetical, emotional, mental or spiritual level or on all of these? I can feel if the student is missing the awareness of one of these ”bodies”.  My response to the student’s unaware parts come from the level the lack of awareness is manifesting. I could give an imaginary example. If the student is emotionally restless, the antidote to this from the teacher’s part is to be at the same time peacefully in her/his own body and in this emotional field to recognize the emotions. 

Another student in this training, Emma, had been contemplating the principle of purity and cleanliness, ƛauca. She shared her insights of how ƛauca often comes close to the principle of non-violence, ahimsā. We talked about this for a while how ahimsā is also purity of thought and action. So, indeed, ƛauca and ahimsā are very close to each other. 

And then one student, Viivi, told us how she had had challenges to keep herself to ahimsā with a neighbor who had been treated her badly. This was the moment I could bring all these topics together. All these principles of yama and niyama are expressed as energies in and around the body. Therefore ahimsā is also about energy. It’s a certain kind of prāna. That means it’s not a fixed concept, but very vivid attitude, very vivid energy which adapts to the life’s situations. You shouldn’t’ think that someone who is committed to ahimsā, never gets angry or never says anything against to anybody. On the contrary! Namely ahimsā means that you protect your boundaries, you don’t make yourself suffer! Sometimes we meet people who don’t respect what we say when we say it in a friendly way. We need to put more energy to make this person understand where the boundaries lie.

I believe that one misunderstanding in interpreting the yoga philosophy’s prescriptions on how to behave, is that you can’t use your power. I’ve seen a lot of how some yoga practitioners try to control their real feelings and energies in the fear of not following the yoga principles. Aggression as energy can be used in a constructive way. Because pure aggression is pure. It doesn’t harm anybody. It purifies the air and the situation. There’s no hatred, attack or destruction. And that’s why no hatred is left after the situation either. 

If you try to hide your real feelings, if you try to be nice and understanding in front of some injustice, that’s when you’re not respecting the yogic principles, such as ahimsā, satya and ƛauca. Yoga doesn’t mean you deny yourself and you try to be something you’re not. Yoga means Life with a capital letter. We practice yoga on the energy level to be able to response to life with the most adequate energy. All energies are good when they are pure.

VAIKUTTAVA TRIO – AHIMSĀ 🟱 SATYA 🟱 ƚAUCA

Hetki sitten pÀÀttyneen joogakoulutuksen viimeisellÀ kerralla osallistujat ottivat poreilevasti esille sekÀ erilaisiin tietoisuudentiloihin liittyviÀ asanakysymyksiÀ ettÀ joogafilosofisia aiheita, joita olivat itsekseen pohtineet. 

Jenni oli tullut siihen johtopÀÀtökseen, ettÀ minÀ avustan asanaharjoituksessa lÀhinnÀ energiatasolla. HÀn halusi varmistua, onko niin, ettÀ energiataso on prioriteettini. KyllÀhÀn se oikeastaan nÀin on, mutta asiaa hetken pohdittuani vastasin, ettÀ kaikki riippuu aina tilanteesta.

YleensÀ on niin, ettÀ jos ihminen tekee asanaharjoitusta urheillen eli fyysisesti ponnistellen sekÀ liikkeiden ettÀ asanan liikkumattomuuden aikana, hÀneltÀ jÀÀ kokematta kehon energiataso. Se peittyy voimankÀytön alle. Kun taas, jos harjoitusta ja itseÀÀn lÀhestyy energiatason kautta, on saman tien laajemmassa kentÀssÀ ja tietoisuudessa ja voi harjoitusta tehdÀ selkeÀsti kuuntelevammin. Jos sitten havaitsee, ettÀ keho tarvitsee enemmÀn energiaa, voimaa tai liikettÀ, sitÀ on helppo siihen lisÀtÀ. ToisinpÀin se ei onnistu.

Ohjaajana toimin samoin sÀÀdöin. LĂ€hestyn oppilasta isommassa kentĂ€ssĂ€ ja tunnen ensin kokonaisuuden. Tunnustelen yhdistyvĂ€tkö meidĂ€n ”aikeet”. Jos energiatasolla yhteys on, on vaivatonta siirtyĂ€ toiseen elementtiin eli fyysisen kehon todellisuuteen. Useammassa eri kentĂ€ssĂ€ työskennellessÀÀn voi myös oikeasti tukea oppilaan tekemistĂ€. Jos esimerkiksi oppilas on jotenkin pÀÀ pilvissĂ€ ja juureton, on olennaista tuoda fyysistĂ€ juurevuutta omalla kehollisella lĂ€snĂ€ololla sekĂ€ tuntuvalla kosketuksella. Mutta sitten taas, jos oppilas on hyvin fyysinen, voi erilainen, kevyempi ja energeettinen lĂ€snĂ€olo, virittÀÀ hĂ€ntĂ€ tuntemaan joko muuta kuin pelkĂ€n fyysisen olemuksen tai sitten ylipÀÀtÀÀn herkemmin ja laajemmin. 

Joogan opettaminen ja ohjaaminen ovatkin minulle juuri tĂ€llaista kuuntelua: missĂ€ tietoisuudentilassa olen oppilaan kanssa? Olemmeko fyysisessĂ€, energeettisessĂ€, emotionaalisessa, mentaalisessa, spirituaalisessa kentĂ€ssĂ€ vai kaikissa nĂ€issĂ€ yhdessĂ€? Tunnen, kun oppilaalta puutuu yhteys johonkin nĂ€istĂ€ “kehoista”. Myös ohjaus oppilaan kehojen tiedostamattomiin kohtiin tulevat juuri sen kehon tietoisuuden tasolta, jossa tiedostamattomuus ilmenee. EsimerkkinĂ€ tĂ€stĂ€ voisi olla tilanne, jossa oppilas on tunnetasolla levoton. Siihen vastalÀÀke on olla ohjaajana rauhassa omassa kehossaan, ja samaan aikaan siinĂ€ energiakentĂ€ssĂ€, jossa emootiot liikkuvat, jotta ne voi tunnistaa. 

Toinen osallistuja, Emma, oli miettinyt puhtautta eli ƛaucaa ja miten lĂ€helle se lopulta tulee ahimsāa (elĂ€mĂ€n kunnioittamista). Puhuimme siitĂ€, miten nimenomaan ajatuksen ja teon puhtaus on ahimsāa. Toki myös fyysisen kehon puhdistaminen ja puhtaus liittyvĂ€t lĂ€heisesti ahimsāan, koska itsestĂ€mme huolehtiminen on elĂ€mĂ€stĂ€ huolehtimista.

Kolmas osallistuja, Viivi, taas kertoi haasteesta pysyÀ ahimsāssa tietyissÀ tilanteissa. HÀn oli halunnut noudattaa ahimsāa suhteessa naapuriinsa, joka oli jo pitkÀÀn kÀyttÀytynyt törkeÀsti. Otin tÀstÀ kiinni ja jatkoin ajatusta energiatason asiana, miten yama- ja niyama-periaatteet ovat erilaisia energian ilmentymiÀ. NimittÀin ahimsākaan ei ole mikÀÀn kiinteÀ kÀsite, vaan aina elÀvÀ tietoisuus, asenne ja elÀvÀ energia ja siten elÀviin tilanteisiin mukautuva. Siksi ei pidÀ ajatella, ettÀ ahimsāa noudattava ihminen ei koskaan suuttuisi tai sanoisi kenellekÀÀn vastaan. PÀinvastoin! NimittÀin ahimsā-periaate sulkee sisÀÀnsÀ tietenkin myös jokaisen itsensÀ ja niinpÀ meidÀn pitÀÀ pitÀÀ puoliamme ja kunnioittaa rajojamme. Joskus vastassa voi olla ihminen, jolle ei riitÀ se, ettÀ sanoo ystÀvÀllisesti. Laitamme ponnekkuutta mukaan sen verran, mitÀ tarvitaan, jotta tilanne tulee tasapainoon. 

Uskon, ettÀ yksi vÀÀrinkÀsitys joogafilosofian kÀyttÀytymiseen liittyvien kÀsitteiden tulkinnassa onkin se, ettei ihminen voisi hyödyntÀÀ aggressiota eli omaa voimaansa. Olennaista on se, ettÀ aggressio kÀytetÀÀn rakentavassa tarkoituksessa. Olen kyllÀ nÀhnyt sitÀ, miten joogaajat yrittÀvÀt pidÀttÀÀ todellisia tunteitaan ja energioitaan siinÀ pelossa, ettÀ he eivÀt sitten enÀÀ elÀisikÀÀn nÀiden periaatteiden mukaan. Kuitenkin puhdas aggressio on puhdasta. Se ei vahingoita ketÀÀn. Se puhdistaa ilman ja tilanteen. Se syntyy vastaukseksi johonkin energiaan. SiinÀ ei ole vihaa. NÀin se ei myöskÀÀn jÀtÀ jÀlkeensÀ mitÀÀn pahaa. 

Jos yritĂ€t peittÀÀ todelliset tunteesi, jos yritĂ€t olla kiva ja ymmĂ€rtĂ€vĂ€ loputtomiin jonkun epĂ€oikeudenmukaisuuden suhteen, silloin vasta rikotkin erilaisia joogan periaatteita, kuten ahimsāa, satyaa ja ƛaucaa. Joogassa ei ole kyse siitĂ€, ettĂ€ kieltÀÀ itsensĂ€ ja yrittÀÀ olla muuta kuin on. Jooga on ElĂ€mÀÀ isolla e:llĂ€, eikĂ€ elĂ€mĂ€n kieltĂ€mistĂ€ meissĂ€ tai muissa. Harjoittelemme asanoitakin energiatasolla voidaksemme vastata elĂ€mÀÀn oikealla energialla. MikĂ€ tahansa energia on hyvÀÀ, kun se on puhdasta.

⟱ Honesties ⟣

Usually when we talk about the cornerstones of the yoga philosophy, the concepts of Ahimsa and Satya are brought forward. That’s not a surprise, because these principles don’t belong only to the philosophy of yoga, they are very closely linked to anybody’s life. And we are dealing with these things every single day. 

I have often heard that Satya, the truthfulness, shouldn’t never be valued more highly than Ahimsa, the principle of non-violence. We should be truthful, but not to the detriment of hurting somebody. This kind of emphasis is not directly found in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Actually, on the contrary. Yama – all five principles under which the yoga practitioner observes and practices self-discipline – are all equal. They are equal also because they all somehow include all others and are interweaved. 

As life is complex, so is yoga philosophy that teaches us how to live a good life. If you live your life intellectually, it’s a big challenge to live up these principles of respecting all life and being truthful. It can seem even impossible, because sometimes it feels that if you obey to one principle you have to give up another one. Mind has its limits. The heart doesn’t have limits. It understands everything. 

There are many sides to truthfulness. What about for example when our words in their truthfulness touch people or even hurt them, and those same words finally change their life in a good way? And that’s the point! The criterium cannot be whether the truth hurts, but on one hand, why do we say what we say and on the other hand and where do our words lead the other. 

The ultimate criteria is still Ahimsa, but it’s an experience in our heart. When we act from LOVE and for life, we know what is right. We find the right words and we have the courage to express what is to be expressed even if we hurt somebody momentarily. 

Love is responsibility. Responsibility is understanding the necessity of growth in life. That’s why our honesty can sometimes hurt and still be the right thing to do. If honesty leads to growth, it usually is justified.

LA VÉRITÉ BLESSANTE

On entend souvent dire que Satya, vĂ©racitĂ©, ne devrait pas Ă©vincer Ahimsa, non-violence. Nous sommes censĂ©s ĂȘtre honnĂȘtes et vĂ©ridiques, mais sans blesser personne avec notre vĂ©ritĂ©. Toutefois, ce n’est pas sur cette idĂ©e que le Yoga Sutra de Patanjali insiste. C’est presque le contraire. Les cinq principes – Yama – que nous observons en nous et sous lesquels nous pratiquons la discipline, sont tous Ă©gaux. Ils sont Ă©gaux aussi, parce qu’ils se contiennent les uns les autres et s’enchevĂȘtrent.

La vie est complexe et la philosophie du yoga l’est naturellement aussi, en Ă©tant un systĂšme qui aide Ă  construire une vie saine et Ă©quilibrĂ©e. Si nous vivons notre vie intellectuellement, ça serait un grand dĂ©fi de vivre selon ces principes qui respectent toute expression de vie. Ça peut nous paraĂźtre mĂȘme impossible, vu qu’en suivant un rĂšgle, nous avons l’impression de devoir en laisser tomber un autre. Le mental a ses limites. Le cƓur n’en a pas. Il comprend tout.

Il y a plusieurs facettes Ă  la vĂ©racitĂ©. Par exemple, nos mots dans leur vĂ©ritĂ© peuvent toucher quelqu’un ou mĂȘme faire mal Ă  quelqu’un et par lĂ , ils changent quelque chose en bien en eux. Le critĂšre n’est pas si la vĂ©ritĂ© fait mal, mais plutĂŽt pourquoi nous Ă©mettons ce que Ă©mettons et en plus, oĂč nos mots vont conduire l’autre.

Le critĂšre ultime est toujours Ahimsa, mais c’est une expĂ©rience dans notre cƓur. Lorsque nous agissons Ă  partir d’amour et pour la vie, nous savons ce qui est juste. Nous trouvons les mots justes et nous avons le courage d’exprimer ce que nous devons exprimer mĂȘme quand ça fait mal Ă  quelqu’un dans un moment donnĂ©. 

L’amour est responsabilitĂ©. La responsabilitĂ© veut dire la comprĂ©hension de la nĂ©cessitĂ© de grandir dans la vie. C’est pour ça que l’honnĂȘtĂ© peut parfois faire mal, car elle fait grandir.  Et si elle amĂšne l’autre Ă  grandir, elle est justifiĂ©e. 

TOTUUS SAA SATTUA

Puhuttaessa joogafilosofisista elĂ€mÀÀ jĂ€rjestĂ€vistĂ€ kulmakivistĂ€, tuodaan usein esiin Ahimsan ja Satyan merkitystĂ€. EikĂ€ ihme, sillĂ€ nĂ€mĂ€ asiat eivĂ€t kuulu yksinomaan joogafilosofiaan, vaan liittyvĂ€t tiiviisti kaikkien ihmisten elĂ€mÀÀn. Me olemme tekemisissĂ€ nĂ€iden asioiden kanssa jopa pĂ€ivittĂ€in. 

Monesti kuulee korostettavan, ettĂ€ Satya, totuuden puhuminen ei saa jyrĂ€tĂ€ vĂ€kivallattomuuden ihannetta (Ahimsa). MeidĂ€n tulisi siis olla rehellisiĂ€ ja totuudellisia loukkaamatta rehellisyydellĂ€mme. Patanjalin Joogasutra-tekstistĂ€ ei tĂ€llaista painotusta kuitenkaan löydy. Oikeastaan pĂ€invastoin. Yama – ne asiat, joiden suhteen joogaa harjoittavan tulee haluta pitÀÀ itsekuria – ovat kaikki keskenÀÀn samanarvoisia. Ne ovat samanarvoisia myös siksi, ettĂ€ ne ovat kaikki toistensa osia ja kutoutuvat toisiinsa.

ElÀmÀ on monisyistÀ ja niin on joogafilosofiakin, joka tarjoaa evÀitÀ hyvÀÀn elÀmÀÀn. Jos elÀmÀÀ elÀÀ Àlyllisesti, on suuri haaste voida elÀÀ nÀiden periaatteiden mukaisesti. Silloin voi nimittÀin nÀyttÀÀ siltÀ, ettÀ kun yhtÀ periaatetta toteuttaa, joutuu luopumaan toisesta. Mielen rajat tulevat helposti vastaan, kun taas sydÀmellÀ ei tÀllaisia rajoja ole. SydÀn ymmÀrtÀÀ kyllÀ.

Totuudellisuudessa on monta puolta. Jos esimerkiksi sanamme kaikessa totuudellisuudessaan koskettavat jotakuta jopa satuttavasti, koska ne osuvat ja sitten lopulta vaikuttavat elÀmÀÀ parantaen, niin se muuttaakin kaiken. Kriteeri ei voikaan siis ole se, loukkaako joku asia, vaan yhtÀÀltÀ se, miksi sanomme, mitÀ sanomme ja toisaalta, mihin tekomme ja sanamme johtavat.

YlimmĂ€ksi kriteeriksi nousee edelleen Ahimsa, mutta nimenomaan kokemuksena omassa sydĂ€messĂ€mme. Kun sanamme nousevat RAKKAUDESTA ja ovat elĂ€mĂ€n puolella, me tiedĂ€mme, mikĂ€ on oikein. Me löydĂ€mme sanat ja uskallamme sanoa, vaikka hetkellisesti loukkaisimmekin. 

Rakkaus on vastuullisuutta. Vastuu on sitÀ, ettÀ ymmÀrrÀmme henkisen kasvun vÀlttÀmÀttömyyden hyvÀn elÀmÀn rakennusaineena. Siksi rehellisyytemme voi joskus loukata ja silti olla oikein. Jos se loukkaa jotakuta niin, ettÀ siitÀ seuraa jotain parempaa, on rehellisyys ajanut asiansa.

Conference notes

NOTES FROM SHARATH’S CONFERENCE ON THE 22TH OF DEC

Tapah-Svadhyaya-Ishvarapranidhanani-Kriyayogah (Patanjali Yoga Sutra, II.1.)

Tapas means austerity. It means to lead a disciplined life.

Yoga practitioners (don’t talk about yogis) should get up early in the morning, follow a vegetarian diet and get early to bed. You should be able to maintain the discpline.

If you party in the night, you will struggle in your practice, because your mind is not focused.

Why should we follow strictly these guidelines? The mind is either focused or distracted. By an undisciplined life, the mind gets distracted and it’s impossible to go further in the asana practice.

Svadhyaya – selfstudy. You do your practice, teacher teaches and you think the whole day what your learned from him. You do your own research. Yoga books and yoga knowledge help us, but the student should put effort to understand. You can study and never understand even if you come 30 years to Mysore if you just hang around after your asana practice.

Asana brings calmness to the mind. If it’s not done properly, can bring aggressivity. We study the three limbs, Yama, Niyama, Asana to get rid of the disorders of the mind. That’s the purpose of doing asanas.

Ishvara Pranidhanani – Surrender to the Divine. Difficult for many people. When this is established, it’s Kriya Yoga. When practiced and established, you can go to Samadhi. When you surrender, nothing can hurt you. You become part of the Divine.

We think we are great and that’s why it’s difficult to surrender. The ‘I’ is always first.  When the ‘I’ is greater than yoga, the problems start. We act like we are everything even if we are just a tiny dot in this universe. Think someone is above us – Supreme God.

You should follow 4 things (when ready for Pranayama), Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama, then automatically the rest (of Ashtanga) will happen. Dhyana (meditation) – you can see people doing workshop advertizing with pictures where outside they are like Buddha, but inside the mind is running. 😀

STUDENTS’ QUESTIONS

Q1:  How to develop faith? When I practice at home I don’t feel so inspired. It would be nice if something happened, but don’t believe anything happens through my practice.

A: You just do your practice. Your duty is to do. Fruit will come. God gives.

By coming to Mysore makes changes in you. It’s already an effort itself. If you don’t believe in this practice, try not practicing for a month and you’d understand the value of the practice.

Q2:  How to maintain spirituality if you’re not spiritual?

A: You are spiritual, but you don’t know it. You have to build a correct foundation. If the foundation is not correct, also the spiritual practice will tumble.

Spirituality has nothing to do with religion. Religions started often like this. You believe someone else’s experience instead of finding it inside of yourself. Fundamentally we are spiritual. Many things disturb us so that we don’t realize that. The change that comes through yoga is that first everything seems to be outside of us and after we find everything inside.

There are yogis in all the religions as there are non-yogis in yoga.

Spirituality is like growing a flower. You need to nourish the ground and the flower will blossom. In yoga you nourish with Yama, Niyama, Asana.

When you have children, educate them to respect the mother, the father, teachers, others and you become spiritual. It’s more spiritual than going to the temple and then do bad things after.

Q3: How do you share the experience of yoga with someone who doesn’t believe in God?

A: By practice. Once people come to yoga, they’ll come to know the spirituality. At least 30%-40% of them.

Q4: Do we need to do advanced asanas to reach Moksha?

A: No. Proper understanding is needed. Advanced asanas not a guarantee. It’s more how you do your practice that counts. You can have Dhyana state when doing asanas. Someone can be very flexible and so can do asanas easily, but the mind is not there. It’s not yoga.

Q5: Should we count in the practice?

A: Counting is important to know the Vinyasa.

Q6: So many asanas, some are stronger than others. In Yoga Mala Guruji speaks about Sirsasana and you seem to put a lot of importance on back bending.

A: You do so much forward bends, so it’s important to compensate that.

Q7: What should be the room temperature for the practice?

A: You must do efforts in asana practice to bring sweat from inside. If the sweat comes effortlessly (heated room), no use. It only dehydrates you and makes you weak.

Q8: Can you say something about the lifestyle business?

A: People learn 15 days in teacher training and then they say: “I’m a yoga teacher.” They are spoiling yoga and the name of yoga. How many of those “teachers” are dedicated to yoga? How many of them dedicated their whole life to yoga? These people give bad fame to yoga. It’s about Sa-tu-dirghakala-nairantaryasatkarasevito-drdhabhumih (Patanjali Yoga Sutra I.14.). You have to practice long time without interruption and with devotion.

Some people do many workshops with different teachers and then they put this list on their website. From yoga’s point of view not good to do different workshops. Do the same thing and maintain the dignity.

Students can feel the teacher’s energy. If the foundation of the teacher is not good, whatever they teach, is not good.  If you don’t practice, how can you teach others?

Q9: If yoga increases sensitivity and perception, how does it not weaken oneself?

A: You have to think and find what is good for you. The strength and perception comes through practice. It’s a process. It comes by time. You will have better clarity and understanding. If it doesn’t happen, your efforts are wrong.

2013-12-21 17.10.00~ Blossoming in Mysore ~