Posts Tagged With: My Yoga Journey
Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha
Stopping unnecessary thought-waves in the mind is yoga
This four-word definition of yoga comes from many Holy Books of yoga, including Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Seekers must strive to achieve that state of mind which is free from unnecessary fluctuations,
It is said in the Holy Books of yoga that there are three main reasons which hide the Truth of life: 1) Mala, impurities and imbalances in the body and mind; 2) Vikshepa, disturbances in mind and 3) Avarana, a curtain of ignorance.
If you look closely, all the above three reasons are related to the mind. A lack of discipline in mind is one of the main reasons for imbalances in the body and mind. The disturbances in mind occur because the mind has not been trained properly. A curtain of ignorance exists because the mind is not really interested in comprehending the Truth. It is more interested in the fulfillment of its selfish desires.
For the past thirty years, I have been asked one question the most, both from beginners and advanced practitioners, which is how to make the mind quieter and calmer? Most yoga practitioners, even after many years of sincere practices, struggle with it.
Dealing with the mind can be very complicated, but it can also be simple if you have the proper understanding and right tools.
Introducing ‘ SAMATAVAM’ Course
I am pleased to offer this course for those who would like to learn to take care of their minds. During the past twenty years, I have developed many well-received yoga courses, but I have never felt that any of those courses is a must for everyone.
With SAMATAVAM, I do.
Whether your aspirations are worldly, spiritual, or both, their meaningful fulfillment depends on the state of your mind. The SAMATAVAM course teaches you the skills for developing a calmer, balanced, and more focused mind.
I will be offering the online version of SAMATAVAM course on June 18 – 22.
If interested, please follow this link for more information.
Commercialization of Spirituality
The popularity and commercialization of spirituality on a large scale are recent phenomenons. When I was growing up in India, yoga was taught free of charge. Yoga then was not popular. There were no yoga studios in my city. A couple of yoga teachers that we knew held weekly yoga in classes in their houses. Once my mother offered some money to a yoga teacher for teaching me. In a very humble way, he said he would incur a sin if he took money for teaching yoga.
When I came to Canada in 1973, that’s when I first saw a poster of yoga classes for a fee. It was also then when I first came to learn about TM. They were charging a hefty fee for a three-hour meditation course. Though it was against my beliefs, I still paid for yoga classes, and also learned TM, an experience I will share another day.
Since then, I have witnessed the growing popularity of yogic practices and people’s readiness to pay for them. A reasonable fee for spirituality can be justified as some organizations, like the Art of Living Foundation, use that money for humanitarian projects. Many sincere yoga teachers teach yoga full time for a higher cause but also earn an income for their livelihood. When yoga classes are offered free, the majority of the students don’t value them, and they don’t develop sincerity. So, for the above-stated reasons and to cover overhead expenses, a fee for spirituality is acceptable, provided that it doesn’t become a business, and admission is not denied to those sincere students who genuinely can’t afford to pay.
Unfortunately, the wide-spread commercialization of spirituality has its consequences. Primarily, it gives rise to fraud, fake gurus, and corrupt organizations. Sad but true, because of the innocent faith of millions of people, fake gurus become very popular, influential, and they flourish, which further encourages the rise of more fake gurus.
Another consequence of the over-commercialization of spirituality is that it affects people’s shradha (faith and more). Walking on the path without shradha is an endless struggle. It is like trying to grow a tree without water. I will talk about shradha another day.
Ever since I became a full-time yoga teacher, I have strived not to let my teaching grow into a business in which money becomes more important than people and spirituality. I will continue to strive for that. I pledge to my yoga students that any money that I may earn over and above my basic needs, I will use it to support charities and the service work which I plan to do in Vrindavan. Spirituality is a Divine gift to me which I must not misuse.
Cardio exercise is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety and fear. Thirty minutes of cardio twice a day, followed by yoga, pranayama, and meditation can be very helpful in dealing with today’s stresses. You may be very tempted to just sit and meditate, but that may not be of much use, especially if you are not very good at meditating. You may be just sitting there, worrying even more with your eyes closed.
When there is excessive tamas (negative energy), creating good rajas (active energy) is the way to deal with the tamas.
Even when you are in a locked-in situation, there is so much you can do inside the house. There are so many online free videos for all levels that you can follow for cardio exercise. Walk back and forth in your room. Go up and down the stairs several times a day. You can do cardio even while watching TV. Stay active. Keep the blood pumping to keep your energy levels high.
Some Wisdom from Young Wises, Very Relevant For Today
Once, when my daughter Priya was in grade one or two, for some reason ( perhaps because she had not practiced her piano) I got angry at her and told her that she was grounded for 30 minutes, and she must stay in her room. With an unhappy face, she went to her room. Not even a couple of minutes had passed when I started to feel guilty at the thought of her being unhappy and perhaps even sobbing in her room. Not being able to resist any longer, after about five minutes, I went to her room. I was not expecting what I saw. She was in her bed, leaned against 2-3 pillows, with a bag of chips and a book in her hands, I didn’t know how to react or what to say as she was doing exactly what I had told her to do, that was to stay in her room. In response to something I said, she replied,” Well, I am grounded, I might as well make the best use of this time.”
To make the best use of every situation was a great lesson I had learned from her. She has followed this wisdom all her life and has kept our family happy and strong.
This wisdom is suitable for any time but even more relevant for today’s situation when we all are grounded. Make the best use of this time. Lean against the pillows and read your favorite book. Learn something new. The Internet is a great way to learn new things. Catch up on things you have been postponing. Even when in isolation, you can still dance and laugh.
One day, when my son Amol was in grade two, he showed me his collection of hockey cards and then asked me one-by-one if I knew the players. After I failed to recognize about ten players, I could recognize one. Immediately, he looked at me and said to me, “Wow, you recognized one, even though you don’t play or watch hockey.” That was an eye-opener for me. Instead of saying that I could recognize only one, he cheered me!
That’s how he has been all his life. He always sees the good in others, a beautiful lesson that I have learned from him.
This wisdom is also suitable for any time but even more relevant in the current situation when the families may be spending more time together. It is important not to be critical of each other and not complain too much. Instead, praise and appreciate each other. Everyone has good and bad in them. The bad is easily visible, but it may require some wisdom and sensitivity to see the good in others.
Preparing For The Upcoming Webinar, March 29
I am looking forward to seeing all the registered participants who have received a confirmation letter. Please note that if you have not received a confirmation letter, you are not registered even though you may have been able to fill in the form right after the Webinar was fully booked. I will do another one for you soon.
To prepare, please follow the following instructions
The Ojas Pranayama requires contracting the chest while holding the breath. Please check with your physician whether or not you can do this if you have any heart or other conditions which may be of concern to you.
You can do this pranayama while sitting on the floor or in a chair or lying down. Once I have explained the pranayama, you just need to hear and follow the instructions. There is nothing to see. So, if you prefer to sit on the floor or lie down, keep a yoga mat and a cushion handy.
Keep a bottle of water handy. It is okay to drink water during the pranayama if needed, but I recommend that you drink before we begin the practice.
Do not eat anything substantial at least two hours before the Webinar.
Do not gather in groups. Follow the imposed restrictions in your region because of coronavirus.
Please take extra precautions to stay safe and healthy.
"Difficulties in life cannot be avoided but a wise man faces them with a smile" - Guru Nanak
A Strengthening Breathing Exercise
The following breathing exercise, Ojas Pranayama, can help strengthen the upper respiratory system.
It is a part of the OJAS Kriya which I will be teaching in my courses.
- Sit up straight or lie on your back.
- Take 8-10 deep breaths. Inhale through the nose but exhale through the mouth actively and thoroughly with a loud hissing sound.
- Relax the breath. Take your attention to the whole of the ribcage, chest, and lungs.
- With the next inhalation, expand your chest sideways. Try to make the chest and ribcage wider. Hold the breath, but keep expanding the chest and ribcage.
- Imagine that you are expanding your lungs sideways also.
- Exhale through the nose slowly. As you are exhaling, try to squeeze the chest and ribcage from the sides as if you are trying to make them narrow and smaller.
- Take 8-10 such breaths, with a short rest in between if needed. This will complete one round.
- Do three rounds of steps 2-6.
- After completing three rounds, take a deep breath. Hold the breath for 10-15 seconds. Exhale slowly with full control and try to make the expiration as long as possible. Take 5-6 such breaths, making the expiration steadier and longer with each breath.
You can do this OJAS breathing exercise twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. If you are unable to do the complete routine, do as much as you can and slowly build up.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
Laugh every day for 2-3 minutes. Laugh loud from your belly. It is hard to laugh when you are worried or fearful, but that’s what you need to do to come out of it.
You can combine laughing with the above Ojas breathing. Laugh first, and then do the breathing exercise.
This challenging time will be over soon. Exercise daily. Eat and rest well. Support others in any way you can.
"The pain that you have been feeling, can't compare to the joy that is coming" -Romans 8:18
Wisdom and certain practices of different religions can be beneficial to all and should be shared. We all share the same water, earth, sun, and air. Different foods that grow in different parts of the world are meant to be enjoyed by all. Scientific discovery in one part of the world becomes useful for the whole world.
Similarly, the mantras from Hindu Scriptures, which are known for their calming and energizing benefits, can be useful to all, especially now, during this global turmoil caused by coronavirus.
The mantras contain sacred energy, which is positive, powerful, peaceful, and harmonious. Chanting of these mantras, whether audibly or silently, or just by listening to them, radiates this sacred energy to our inner-beings, It combats the negative feelings of fear and worry. As a result, we feel stronger to handle difficult situations with a sense of calmness. This sacred energy also brings a variety of physical benefits by soothing the body at the cellular level.
Today I share with you two mantras, dedicated one each to Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman.
Lord Ganesha is known as the remover of obstacles, and Lord Hanuman is known for His selfless devotion and immense strength.
Their symbolic animal-like forms represent some of their virtues like strength, kindness, wisdom, and generosity, etc. Their different virtues are expressed in different mantras dedicated to them. By chanting those mantras, we assimilate some of their virtues.
Mantra of Lord Ganesha
Om Gam Ganapatye Namaha
(This is the base mantra)
The base mantra is also chanted with other mantras as below:
Om Gam Ganapatye Namo Namaha
Shri Sidhi Vinayak Namo Namaha
Ashat Vinayak Namo Namaha
Ganpati Bapa Morya
More Ganesha mantras with beautiful singing:
Mantra of Lord Hanuman
Om Han (or ham) Hanumatye Namaha
(This is the base mantra)
The base mantra is also chanted with other mantras as below:
Om Han (or Ham) Hanumate Namo Namaha
Shri Hanumate Namo Namaha
Jai Jai Hanumate Namo Namaha
Shri Ram Dutaye Namo Namaha
Below is Hanuman Chalisa, a beautiful Lord Hanuman song, in divine voices.
One can sing along with the above videos, or other audios/videos available online, at any time of the day, even while doing your house chores.
Reciting the above two base mantras silently, eleven times, early in the morning prepares you for the day, and reciting them eleven times before going to bed helps one sleep better.
These mantras are not just for difficult times. During good times, chanting of these mantras brings better health, prosperity, peace, and fulfillment. The mantras, however, are not a substitute for self-effort.
While chanting the mantras, don’t be too concerned about their proper pronunciation. What matters most is that we chant them with devotion, humbleness, and gratitude
May God give us the inner-strength
to go through this difficult period with courage and acceptance!
Hindu Temples Are Not Just For Hindus.
Hindus respect all religions and believe in one omnipresent God. But still, there are a few Hindu temples in India and abroad where only Hindus can enter. Anyone who may not look like a Hindu can be questioned and barred from entering.
A long time ago, almost all Hindus were vegetarians. They lived a life of purity and non-violence and considered themselves to be purer than non-Hindus. Therefore, to preserve the sanctity of the temples, non-Hindus were prohibited from entering many temples, This tradition is still being practiced in some temples even though the old and weak reasoning is no longer valid. Today, a large percentage of Hindus eat meat. Conversely, a large number of non-Hindus are now vegetarians and live a spiritual life.
As a Hindu, I believe that everyone must be allowed to enter Hindu temples, except for any safety concerns. There may be some rules for entering a temple, but they should be the same for Hindus and non-Hindus.
If you are a Hindu and if there is such a temple in your area, you should make an effort to educate the temple authorities and change this wrong tradition.
“I live in the heart of every being” Bhagavad Gita
Replacing Om with a Cross
A few years ago, I went to Mauritius to conduct a yoga course. There, a man came to talk to me about something that had been disturbing him for many years. It was a long story, but in short, the burden of supporting his family had fallen on his shoulders at a very young age. They were very poor and were struggling. One day a Christian missionary approached him and offered to help him, but only if he would convert to Christianity. Out of desperation, he agreed and was converted. He replaced his OM necklace with a Cross. He didn’t consider that to be a big deal then. But as he grew older, it began to bother him. He started to feel ashamed and guilty.
As he was sharing his story, there were tears in his eyes. He believed that he had committed a sin and wanted to know if he could become a Hindu again, and how? I hugged him and told him that he could consider himself to be a Hindu from that moment on and that no formal ritual was necessary. I suggested that he should make a Hindu altar in his home and perform a Puja, and he should revert back to his original identity. He seemed relieved.
The practice of religion-conversion arises out of smallness and ignorance. Converting people by taking advantage of their helpless situations is a disgraceful mission. People should have the freedom to choose their religion or have no religion, but no one should be bribed or forced to convert.
As a student of yoga, regardless of your religion or belief, you must challenge what seems wrong. That’s one of the major principles of Karma Yoga.
I Would Like To Help You
Several years ago, I introduced the SAHC practice in Sri Sri Yoga programs. It consists of a series of unique movements and muscular contractions that are helpful in strengthening and rejuvenating the body. Those who have learned the practice have reported a variety of benefits.
I have now refined and expanded this practice and have also combined it with a few breath-strengthening exercises. I have named it ‘Ojas’, meaning increased vitality. The regular practice of Ojas, I believe, provides additional benefits of strengthening involuntary muscles, and may even help with breathing disorders and early symptoms of Parkinson’s.
If you (or someone you know) have early symptoms of Parkinson’s or breathing disorders which have no cure, I would like to work with you by conducting a few one-to-one sessions of Ojas on Skype. To begin with, I will accept only 15 people. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fee: Make a donation to your favorite charity. Suggested donation
$500.00 CAD, or whatever you can afford. Healing begins by helping others.
I Am Spoiled
I am spoiled
I don’t listen
They said to face East
to worship God.
I faced West
I had my Beloved
all to myself.
I am spoiled
I don’t listen
They said God was within
I looked outside
There He was, everywhere.
I am spoiled
I don’t listen
They said the purpose
was to find oneself.
I jumped in the Ocean
I am spoiled
I don’t listen
The Blessed Loser
A devotee never gains
He loses it all
First, he loses his world
Then, he loses himself
to his Beloved
An Indoor Cardio Exercise Routine
Some form of regular cardio exercise is a must for optimum health. There are many free indoor cardio exercise routines available online which you can follow.
Below is a routine that I have put together for you.
When practicing this routine, pace yourself according to your fitness level. If there is something you can’t do, that’s okay, do something else instead as simple as just walking.
Each day challenge yourself just a tiny more so that your progress is slow, steady, and safe. Move your body more to remain healthy.
Cardio Routine 15-20 minutes
For a warmup, gently walk on the spot. Move the arms back and forth.
Gently jog on the spot with the feet lifting toward the buttocks.
Standing Crunches: Stretch both arms to the ceiling. Lift right knee as high as you can and simultaneously pull both elbows down toward the right thigh. As you press your elbows down, twist your torso to the right. Bring the leg down and straighten the arms to the ceiling. Repeat on the other side. That will complete one round.
Squats. Keeping the feet slightly wider than hips, bend the knees and lower your upper body down as though you are trying to sit on your feet. Come up by straightening the knees, and go down again. As you come up, stretch your arms to the ceiling and lookup. As you go down, lower your arms. Try to keep the upper body straight as much as possible. Keep the knees behind the toes.
( 10 squats)
Jumping Jacks. Jump and separate your feet wide apart and simultaneously take your arms up. Bring your feet together and arms down. That’s one Jumping Jack.(15 JJ)
Three rounds of Sun Salutations. Remain in the cardio mode.
Abdominal Crunches. Lie on your back. Bring both knees to the chest. Place hands under the head. Lift up the head and shoulders. Straighten the right leg and take the right elbow to the left knee. Reverse. That’s one crunch.
Stand up and do the jumping jacks
Repeat steps 1-8 three times.
To add more challenge, do 5 -10 pushups when you are in plank-pose in Sun Salutation.
It should take about 15-20 minutes to do three rounds at a moderate speed.
As you progress, gradually begin to increase the intensity and speed. Try to finish three rounds in a shorter period of time.
Gradually increase the number of rounds also, or you can add more exercises in each round.
Always keep moving. Don’t hold any position unless you need to rest.
Keep breathing, and make each movement with control.
Keep yourself hydrated.
After the cardio exercise, do your asana practice. It is very important to stretch your body after any cardio routine.
Have fun. Exercising should be fun. Then you will stick to it.
More routines to follow…..
The ‘Healthier Me’ Program
Feb 18 – April 21, 2020
I am pleased to offer this program again. This program is a common-sense approach to exercising, eating, and resting properly. In this ten-week online program in which you will receive the necessary tools (such as recommended online resources and my audio recordings), guidance, and inspiration to follow a disciplined lifestyle for making your body healthier, stronger, and more energetic. More information…..
Commitment Needed :
You must be able to spare one hour daily, five days a week, for your exercise program.
Only $300.00 (Canadian). It is a small investment that you make for your wellbeing.
How to register:
Please apply by sending me an email with a very brief description of yourself and your reasons for attending this program. Upon acceptance, you can register on this website.
If interested please write to me: email@example.com
Your body is a Divine temple. You must take care of it.
Are you a yoga teacher in need of some help?
If you have taken the yoga teacher training from me and are teaching yoga independently and need some support, including small financial help, write to me. I will be happy to help in any way I can.
Teaching yoga with good intentions and not primarily as a business is a good form of karma yoga.