Live free yoga

Liberated living through the sadhana of yog; enlivened by the grace of my satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath.


3 Comments

The dilemma of morality, to do or not to do

MORALS, the word has a very Christian connotation for me, as does the word SIN. Educated in Christian Missionary schools in various little towns of India by stern Catholic nuns imported from Ireland and other European countries, I had to attend what was called a Moral Science class, which even had a Moral Science Book. I don’t remember any of the lessons I learnt here but do remember scoring over 90% marks in the subject throughout school. From what I remember of the dear sisters, brothers, fathers and the Mother Superiors was that though all of them were sincere and many of them had a sense of humour most of them seemed as if running away from some great tragedy, occurred back home and a zealousness to save us, they seemed just like Jesus carrying a personal cross. As students we would make up stories, a tragic love affair, a dead child or lover, which had driven them into the arms of Christ, very poignant it all was. Even what seemed mundane qualified as a SIN, wearing skirts above the knee, talking loudly in the corridors, giggling; swear words, bindi, earrings or bangles and any digression would be paid for in HELL and earned in bad points in class. CHARITY was another of these words that we learnt, encouraged as a virtue we were rewarded with good points for all such acts, donating old clothes, contributing to hours packing medicines for the leper colonies, crocheting little doilies and needle point embroidery on hankies, tea coasters, napkins etc all for sale at the annual fete, the proceeds of which would go towards charity.

Contrast with stories at home, those of a God who stole butter from the neighbours, had no qualms about hiding clothes of the girls bathing in the river, played pranks on the citizenry in general and was reluctantly punished by his loving exasperated mother. The same boy though, saved the village from various calamities and was the darling of everyone and went on to expound the Bhagavad Geeta! Stories from Panchatantra about owls and crows outwitting each other, animal stories that defined wisdom, bravery, compassion and yet at the same time condoned political connivance for self serving purposes…. More stories from the Mahabharat, Bhagavatam and Ramayan told tales of a brother who staked and lost, in a game of dice, his kingdom, brothers and wife , a mother who asked her sons to share a wife, a husband who asked his wife to pass a test through fire and then abandoned her whilst pregnant in the forest to fend for herself, gods who seduced and were seduced…but these very same characters fought for the downtrodden, upheld the truth and showed bravery and acts of kindness in extreme situations. Stories of Bhakta Prahlad, Markandeya, Ayyappa, Meera, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu filled one with awe and inspired emotions of sharing and caring, bravery, devotion and love for the Divine.

Coming to the tenets of Yam and Niyam or as it is popularly spelt Yama and Niyama (got to do this if I want the internet search engines to pick it up ha ha) I realized that as a child I was taught these as an example by my family, truthfulness, non violence, honesty in ones dealings, non hoarding, cleanliness, contentment and surrender to the Divine were practiced diligently by the elders in the family. Though how much of this was truly imbibed by me as a child and now realized as an adult in practice is a debatable point! More in detail about this as we take the tenets one by one over the next few blogs.

Of course when I met my Satguru, Yogiraj Siddhanath this entire perception of good and bad, right and wrong learnt in school and at home was demolished and the mind expanded into a new level of understanding. Yogiraj explained how all these qualities could be fully realized and practiced only in Reality and not in Relativity in which we lived and acted. Coloured by our upbringing, social conditioning, the external world we live in we can accomplish it only within that limitation.

In one of his poems, Yogiraj extols:

“Paap punya vivcharon ko bhasm karo

Aur satya ki khoj mein nikal pado.

Aham-hasti va maipan mitate chalo

Jag prem param-pad paate chalo.”

 When translated it means, burn to ashes all thoughts of sin and virtue and journey out in search of Truth, dissolve ego and i-ness and achieve world love and ultimate salvation. Sorry it loses in translation and the closest I could come to the opposite of sin was virtue, apparently the English language does not have an antonym for sin. In short, in a flash he burnt to ashes all my preconceived notions!

Since Yogiraj does not expound intellectual exploration, he teaches a practical method for this alchemical transformation, whereby his disciples can transform their negative passions to positive emotion, positive emotions to first human then spiritual love and compassion and finally the compassion and love to awareness of their own divine nature thus achieving ultimate salvation. This meditation is called the Siddhanath Samadhi Yoga, it transforms the practitioner from man the brute to man the man to man the God. To my feminist readers, man here also means woman, its just a figure of speech so lets not get our pants into a twist over this, please.

Well, before I start with my understanding of the first two tenets of yog sadhana of Patanjali, I want to clarify that this is not an attempt to interpret Patanjali. I am only trying to see what I understand from it and of course everyone is welcome to his or her interpretation or to disagree.

According to the Patanjali sutras there were 5 Yamas-

  1. Satya (truthfulness),
  2. Ahimsa (non-violence),
  3. Asteya (honesty),
  4. Brahmacharya (popularly sexual control, i have my own interpretation) and
  5. Aparigraha (non-hoarding)

The 5 Niyamas-

  1. Shaucha (cleanliness),
  2. Santosha (contentment),
  3. Tapa (austerities),
  4. Swadhyaya (self-study) and
  5. Ishwar Pranidhan (surrender to divine will).

Later yoga schools and Gurus added many more to these tenets sometimes taking the count up to 10 each but I will stick to the original Patanjali.

We will cover the 5 Yamas also called the restraints or social code in the next blog. Below is the article published in 2006, wonder why I thought fit only to mention aparigraha, tapa and swadhyaya……

Break free with yoga
The Tribune, May 13, 2006, Chandigarh, India

The first two tenets of yoga Yama, meaning restraints, and Niyama, meaning observances, are the most ignored by hatha yoga. Many beginners and even some adepts consider them as a pack of moral bullshit.

However, these two limbs of yoga take on more importance as the yogi progresses on the path towards higher realisation to raja yoga, and the sincere disciple, by virtue of the practice, feels an inner urge to follow them. Aparigraha, means non-hoarding or non-collecting. The practising sadhak is constantly offloading baggage, be it physical, emotional, or mental. As the chakras, are balanced and activated through the practice of asana, pranayama and other specific exercises taught by a master, the practitioner realises the limitations that come with an attitude of amassing material goodies for a rainy day! This restraint does not only extend to gathering frivolous material objects but transcends to include debilitating passions and emotions that diminish the sadhak. Carefully collected memories of being wronged or being happy, emotions that have been nurtured to depress, or contrarily elevate, mental callisthenics, that allow a person to conduct oneself always for personal profit, are all dropped with equanimity by the practising yogi. By doing this, the yogi makes life simple and spontaneous and connects to an inner fountain of unrestrained joy.

Tapa is an important observance for a yogi relentlessly on the path of yoga. Tapa means ‘to blaze’; the practice given by a realised master burns the impurities in the seekers psyche. As the intensity and duration of the practice increase the person sloughs off negative emotions and mindset, the physical body cures of all disease and the mind is filled with clarity.

Svadhyaya means self-study. Once again, due to the practice, the witness consciousness in the practising sadhak is awakened. Also known as, the sakshi bhav, this consciousness allows the practitioner to watch one’s action from the outside. A talent to observe oneself and ones life as it unfolds develops. The practitioner also learns to observe the thread that connects the past, the present, and the future in an unbroken chain of action and reaction.

This may extend to more than just this life to many past lives. This self-study helps one to know the exact circumstances that have brought one to this specific condition in life. The yogi faces one’s own drawbacks and talents with equipoise and having come to terms with them is ready to move on.


A Relaxing Technique

Lie on a mat on the floor without using a pillow. Make sure the body is perfectly balanced by imagining a straight line flowing from between the feet to the head dividing the body into two equal halves. Keep the chin towards the neck and the head in the centre.
Now wherever the body is touching the ground, feel the gravitational pull of the earth gently pulling out all tension. When the tension is released, stretch and get up.


3 Comments

Do we find the Path or does the Path find us??

Fortunately for me, the Satguru (Yogiraj Siddhanath) and the path (Kriya Yoga) both found me. Blissfully ignorant of Babaji and Kriya Yoga and the other Kriya masters in the lineage in spite of having read the Autobiography of a Yogi, I was happily cruising along in my ‘normal’ life when my Satguru appeared in a vision and guided me to him and the forest ashram in Pune, India. For me it was like waking up from a deep slumber of thirty-six years in this life. My constant association with Him and his wife Gurumata Shivangini and steady practice for over 16 years has brought back memories of past lives practicing this sacred evolutionary science and my many lives in his service. There are many who are guided in a similar manner to their past Masters, even if some of them are not aware that this has happened.

“Practice the necessary means to achieve the necessary end,” says my Satguru Yogiraj Siddhanath, a very practical and profound advice to the novice seeker. In todays era of excessive information we often come across people flitting from practice to practice and ‘gurus’ to ‘gurus’ looking for a quick fix to life’s problems. It has become very fashionable to say, all gurus preach the same things and all paths lead to the same goal. Really?? There is a market out there promising from the art of loving to living to dying, from material abundance to freedom from disease, from finding your ‘soul mate to ridding yourself of the present one, from sewa to satsang, old wine in new bottles and new wine in old, you can pay a fee and choose the path leading you to your hearts desire. So definitely all paths don’t lead to the same end and most definitely all gurus don’t preach the same thing. So the first step is to identify what one wants to achieve and choose. Whether you get what is promised in the promo is another ball game altogether 🙂

And even if the goal is not material but self-realization or spiritual evolution you have to find the right path and the right guide (satguru) for YOU!! Its like getting to the top of a mountain, some may want to take the tough trek up the most difficult path, others may want to meander by a more gentle slope, still others may want to try out many of the different tracks branching out, yet others may want to stop at every bower and meadow, read a book and talk to every flower and its all OK. Out there is a Path and a Satguru perfectly suited to You and you have to find it. No easy task left to our limited and normally confused mind. Of course just like the game we played as kids we keep looking till we find.

But there are certain yardsticks, first of course is, have you got what was promised? How much time have you devoted to practicing the given technique before you make this evaluation? On a spiritual path some of the indication are a freedom from earlier fears and insecurities, an awakening of spiritual compassion as compared to human charity, feeling of contentment in any life situation, calmness and equanimity in the face of turmoil, a constant joyous demeanor, a non judgmental (not indifferent) attitude to others etc. If you achieve even a modicum of one of these qualities after a couple of months then you are probably on the right path, for you. Of course like in the corporate world this evaluation can be done periodically to check progress. But watch out for the mind and the ego, it’s a devious thing and can lull you into many delusions…even the delusion of being fearless or joyous or compassionate. It is especially so if you are involved in an organization with a large number of followers where the ego is stoked and stroked and even in service to others there is pride, in compassion pity and a feeling of superiority in general to the rest of humanity that has not ‘found the way’ that we have been so fortunate to have been guided to.

Whatever path you may have chosen and whichever guru you may be following; there is a video by Yogiraj that I find very helpful to a seeker.

Now as promised below is the article from 2005 about various yoga systems available to us. Of course since then many new ones have emerged, the latest being Naked Yoga. Is it really the clothes we have to drop? I would think it should be our ego with all its accompanying paraphernalia, eh? Does Living Free entail wearing no clothes? Maybe they start with the clothes and will move inwards…in any case good luck to them in their endeavor.

Next post will touch upon the much ignored and misunderstood first two tenets of yog sadhana- yam and niyam more popularly, observances and restraints.

LIFE POSITIVE
Connecting to one’s sacred self with Yoga
The Tribune, Friday, October 14, 2005, Chandigarh, India

Image

Yoga trainer Jyoti Subramanian elaborates on the various branches of Yoga.

Good health is not just related to the physical body. Complete health has to permeate the physical, emotional and mental. This is where the practice of yoga plays such an important role. The practitioner not only cures the physical ailments but also moves in to cure the emotional or mental reasons for the disease and progresses to understanding his innate divine nature.

Often novitiates are perplexed by the variety or branches of yoga available and propagated-Patanjali yoga, Kundalini yoga, Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Raja yoga, Kriya yoga, Hamsa yoga, Iyengar yoga and now Bikram yoga- the list is endless.

Patanjali codified yoga in the treatise ‘Yoga Sutras’ in the year 200 BCE. Even then, he is not the originator, the knowledge of Yoga having come from the Mahayogi Shiva himself.

All yoga that is taught today, which includes the ones mentioned above has its origin in Patanjali who has systematically recorded all the practices of yoga. So we can visualise Patanjali as this big umbrella from where all forms of yoga come.

Ashtanga means ‘eight limbs’. Now according to Patanjali the Tree of Yoga has eight limbs, yama (restraints) and niyama (observances) are the first two and comprise the following qualities taught to children by their parents and teachers through example: non-violence, truthfulness, freedom from greed, control of sensual pleasures, non-stealing, compassion, moderate eating, austerity, contentment, belief in divinity, charity, company of men of wisdom.

Third comes asanas, for steadiness of posture, good physical health and lightness of body.

Fourth is pranayam, a technique to make the respiratory organs move intentionally as against automatic habitual breathing. One learns to harness the mind via the medium of breath.

Pratyahar being the fifth limb is a process of reversal of energy. Our sense organs, always attracted to the external, are drawn inwards seeking their own divinity.

Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi are final three stages; a single point attention with the mind unwavering and unruffled, a merging of the one meditating and meditated upon- the true state of meditation and finally the state where the yogi realises the individual self to be a part of the universal self. Therefore all yoga has to be part of ashtanga.

Hatha Yoga ignores the first two: yama and niyama and concerns itself with the practice of asanas, pranayam and pratyahar. Raja yoga concerns itself with dharana, dhyan and Samadhi.

Most yogis normally practice a combination of Hatha-Raja yoga. The former to maintain the physical body as a fit vehicle and the latter for spiritual evolution leading to union of the individual self with the divine self.

By tradition, Kriya yoga was never taught publicly, normally communicated verbally by master to disciple. Even today though many masters are authorising their disciples to teach this practice it is essential to be initiated by the master to enliven the process. Kriya yoga is the practice of Kundalini yoga and both are part of Raja yoga. Hamsa yoga, a special form of yoga practiced by the Himalayan yogis is also part of Raja yoga.

– Hamsacharya Jyoti Subramanian was introduced to yoga in 1972. She teaches the New Life Awakening techniques of Hamsa Yog and Babaji Kriya Yog.


1 Comment

Why Blog??

book cover kindle

Why blog?

Needed to get this clear first. Yes really, do I have time for this blogging in my busy schedule of teaching the practices of the Siddhanath Yoga Parampara, travelling abroad for a couple of months every year, managing my centre in Chandigarh, India, helping out at our Siddhanath Forest Ashram, this apart from other family and farm obligations? What is prompting me to do this? Do I have anything so important to share that others will want to read? Do I even want anyone to read what I write or have to say? Do people really care? Do I care? Questions, questions, questions.

Then I realized that all these thoughts, ideas, words, realizations (mine) are knocking around inside my head and my god, once they are out how much better would be my sadhana (spiritual practice)! And hence the platform of the blog, more for my own benefit than others. See a lot of similarity to writing my book One Master one disciple too which was first written as a journal for myself then published first in 2007 then again now in 2019 updated with fifteen more years of understanding. So enjoy….or not haha

I had written a series of articles for a local newspaper, actually two newspapers way back in 2005. In 9 years by 2014 the Satguru has helped connect many more synapses in the brain and regular practice and association with him has brought many more revelations. I am going to start by producing the articles here verbatim and adding the new stuff, thus tracing the evolutionary path….

Starting next week with the first one- Connecting to one’s sacred self with Yoga.