the 7 bodies method
Please watch the below video, and continue with the below program theory. Please note that you can either listen to the theory podcast, print the PDF or simply read the web text. All three methods contain the same information.
How To Work With The 7 Bodies
First, here is a recap of the 7 Bodies:
Your physical body.
All systems of the body, movement and what you choose to put in and on your body.
All of your thoughts. If we could put a container around this entire program, it would be the mental body, as we need to think about everything in order to understand it or connect with it.
All of the 6 Human Emotions:
Joy, Anger, Sadness, Discontentment, Contentment and Fear.
The energy you give off and the energy you take in (your vibe). The energy you create.
Similar to MENTAL BODY, but only relates to our NEW knowledge, new learnings or new information.
This body is self defined. Some describe it as their faith, others a universal connection, intuition and some simply have a "not applicable" or "I don't know". All answers are acceptable.
This body is about our life's purpose; why we are on this planet at this time - our dharma.
Knowledge Is Power.
Now that you have an understanding of what the 7 Bodies are, let's talk about how you can use them as your personal development tool.
Firstly, the 7 Bodies can help us generate a macro picture of life. For instance, let's say you are going through a stressful situation within your romantic relationship. You are unsure where the relationship is headed, and you are in fear that it may come to an end. You are stressed out. You can barely eat, and barely sleep. You become exhausted and your energy is rapidly depleting. Regardless of what else is happening in your life, you are focussed only on this situation: your thoughts are consumed by it, as are your emotions. You are feeling sad. You wake up sad, you go through your day sad and you go to bed sad. Your sadness is heavy and emits a heavy energy. This energy is evident to everyone around you.
You bring it to work, and you bring it to the people in your life. It is fair to say that you are focussed only on your feeling of sadness. But, your feeling of sadness is only one part of the whole you! You see, your feeling of sadness belongs in your emotional body, along with the other 5 Emotions which are: fear, joy, discontentment, contentment and anger.
Something fascinating that we often forget, is that we humans were in fact designed to feel ALL of these human emotions - every single one of them. With that said, here is another fascinating piece of information: There is not one emotion that is better than the other. I'll say that again - there is not one emotion that is better than the other! The trap that awaits each and everyone of us is believing that joy is the goal, and when we find ourselves angry or worried (aka anxious) or in the case of this example - sad, we can become consumed by it, rather than leaning into it and expressing it in a healthy way.
The Problem: What we resist, persists.
If we are feeling an emotion and not taking ownership of that emotion and expressing it in a responsible manner, it will become stuck.
When an emotion becomes stuck, two things can happen:
1. An irresponsible emotional reaction, for example: yelling or screaming at someone; or
2. A lack of expression; whereby the emotion gets stored in our physical body and begins to manifest as an illness of some kind.
Express, express, express - Responsibly of course!
How to work with the Physical Body
Start to record what you eat and how you feel 3 hours and 5 hours afterward. Keep a log for 30 days. Once complete, go back and review the log and see where bloating, gas, dips in energy, spikes in energy and skin reactions were present. This will show you what foods do not work for your body.
Look at your products (shampoo, soaps, lotions, make up), how many of the ingredients are chemical? Do your research on what chemicals are present and the effect that they have on your physical body.
Examine your exercise routine. What is working? What is not working. What can you do to make it work better?
How to work with the Mental Body
Examine your thoughts. Journal. Notice what thought patterns are not healthy, and which ones support your core values and your purpose (soul) for being on this planet. Which thoughts feed your strengths, compassion and kindness? What judgments do you have about yourself and others or situations? What thoughts can you let go of? What is a mantra that you can create in the form of I AM that you can repeat when the “not so positive” thoughts enter your mind?
How to work with the Emotional Body
Make a list of all of the emotions you feel on a day to day basis. Go back into the past if you need to. Then plug each emotion into one (or more) of the categories of the 6 Human Emotions: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Discontentment, Contentment and Fear.
Anger: frustration, anxiety, rage
Sadness: anxiety, depression
Discontentment: anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, rage, depression, joy Contentment: peace, love, acceptance, forgiveness, calm
Joy: happiness, love, peace
Fear: anxiety, worry, panic
Next, beside each emotion you listed, note how you express or hold on to the emotion.
Anger: frustration, anxiety, rage — stuff it down, turn red, start to sweat, cry
Sadness: anxiety, depression — eat bad food, drink alcohol, no sleep
Discontentment: anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, rage, depression, joy — over-think, under exercise, cry, throw things
Contentment: peace, acceptance, forgiveness, calm — celebrate, socialise, take care of my wellbeing, be healthy, eat healthy, exercise, journal
Joy: love, happiness, peace — celebrate, socialise, take care of my well-being, be healthy, eat healthy, exercise, journal, do acts of kindness for the people I love
Fear: anxiety, worry, panic — short fast breaths, increased heart rate, sweat, cry, worry
Learn how to express each of the 6 Human Emotions responsibly, and without impacting others.
Here is a list of suggestions to get you started.
Joy - Be aware of people around you that are not feeling joyful. Perhaps joy can be expressed in a different way than to someone who is not feeling joyful. Other expressions: a bubble bath, self care, spa, reading a good book, going to bed early, writing a blog.
Anger - Yelling, screaming, saying mean things, punching and throwing things are irresponsible, yet common expressions of anger. I prefer to yell in a bowl of water, in a pool, the ocean or a bathtub. This literally releases any holds of emotions in your cells. I do this for 10 minutes, with a 7 bodies check in before and after.
Sadness - Cry. But don’t get carried away. I view depression as unexpressed sadness. For those who need to work on sadness, set a timer; 10 - 30 minutes max, depending on how much sadness you have to release. Do a 7 Bodies check in before, set your timer, when it goes off, do a second 7 Bodies check in.
Discontentment - Journal and get to the root of what emotion is behind the discontentment and express accordingly. Usually a little water scream can help loosen up your "stuckness" so awareness can flow. This is the trap - not being content with any emotion we are feeling. Remember that we are humans and we are designed to feel. FEEL TO HEAL - Not "get rid of" to heal.
Contentment - Try to work feeling content within any of your emotions that you are feeling, and watch the detachment occur. Also, part of contentment is to celebrate your successes, no matter how small, celebrate them (in an appropriate way of course!).
Fear - My favourite way to lean into fear is making a WHAT IF page in my journal - writing out all of the what if scenarios, and then answer the questions. For example: What if my relationships ended? Write your answer. What if I loose my job? Write your answer. Then write CANCEL CLEAR DELETE across the page, to confirm to the universe that you are not manifesting.
How to work with the Energetic Body
Dance. Shake your body. Lay on your back with your arms and legs in the air and shake them like crazy, think about letting go of any stuck or held energy.
How to work with the Intellectual Body
What are you learning about yourself? Can you celebrate any shifts in the changes that you are noticing within any body? I like to keep a journal of INSIGHTS. When I have 10 new insights, I celebrate them.
How to work with the Spiritual Body
Find a meditation practice that works for your spirit. Commit to meditate one time per day for 30 days. Do a 7 Bodies check in before and after each meditation. At the end of the 30 day cycle, note the changes in your 7 bodies check in.
How to work with the Soul Body
Examine your core values, the most important human characteristics to you. Then ask yourself what your Mission is: your mission is HOW you will deliver your core values to the world. Next, think about your purpose! Why are you are on this planet? I love using the tool of the Myers and Jung's personality typing test, which you can do here for free! CLICK HERE - this can help provide some direction within our purpose, it is very interesting.
The 7 Bodies Check In | Why it works
Think of yourself as a scientific experiment. In order to see what is working and what is not working, it is helpful to have a data tracking system. Your personal data tracking system is The 7 Bodies Check In.
If you use the 7 Bodies Check In Method, you will perform a 7 Bodies Check both before and after you use any personal development, healing or self care tool. At the end of your specified commitment for your choice in your tools, you will have complete data collection of how the tool affected every area of your being. From there you will then be able to make an educated decision for what works for you and what does not work; which I feel is required for a sustainable change to occur. Just because one tool works well for someone, it may not work at all for another! This is the beauty of The 7 Bodies Method.
Complete your 7 bodies meditations and record your insights and experience with each one.
Do one meditation each day, do a written 7 Bodies Check in before and after each one.
Journal - which body do you connect with most and why?
Journal - which body do you connect with least and why?
Completion date: September 24.
yoga history & philosophy
Born on November 18, 1888, in a village in the state of Mysore, South India. He was born into a family that traces its roots back to the famous ninth-century South Indian sage Nathamuni, author of the Yoga Rahasya and the first teacher in the line of Vaishnava gurus. Krishnamacharya was a vedic and Ayurvedic scholar, studying various philosophies in yoga tradition for 33 years of his life. From 1933 to 1955 Krishnamacharya taught yoga at the school and wrote his first book, Yoga Makarandam (Secrets of Yoga). By this time his reputation was spreading throughout South India and beyond. Krishnamacharya’s first Western students came to study yoga with him in 1937. Indra Devi was among them. B. K. S. Iyengar, who was to become Krishnamacharya’s brother-in-law, received his first yoga instruction with the acclaimed teacher. In 1939 and 1940, Krishnamacharya was visited by a French medical team who wanted to verify that an experienced yogi could deliberately stop his heartbeat. For Sri Krishnamacharya, this much marvelled at examination was a rather bothersome demonstration, one that he undertook out of feeling responsible to validate yoga in the eyes of the skeptical scientific world.
What is yoga?
Root word: ‘YUJ’ which means to merge, yoke, unite or come together.
Yoga is one of the 6 fundamental systems on Indian thought, collectively known as Darsana (which means ‘to see’).
Another meaning of the word yoga is “to tie the strands of the mind together.”
A further meaning of the word yoga is “to attain what was previously unattainable.”
Yoga means to act in such a way that all of our attention is directed toward the activity in which we are currently engaged.
Engagement of everything.
Yoga has been an ever evolving term; it does not have a singular meaning; what we do now is a homonym for the word yoga, not a synonym.
Each lineage will present a different definition. Yoga History
The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago. Yoga’s long rich history can be divided into four main periods of innovation, practice and development. Something important to note is that the way we know yoga today (the asana) is not ancient. Most of the asana we do today were created in the 1900’s by a man named Krishnamacharya.
4 Time Periods of Yoga
#1 Pre-Classical Yoga
#2 Classical Yoga
#3 Post-Classical Yoga
#4 Modern Period
#1 Pre-Classical Yoga
The beginnings of Yoga were developed by the Indus - Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago.
The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rg Veda (Rig Veda).
The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras and rituals to be used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests.
Yoga was slowly refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishis (mystic seers) who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads (upa = near / ni = down / shad = sit)
The most renowned of the Yogic scripture is the Bhagavad Gita composed around 500 BCE.
The Upanishads took the idea of ritual sacrifice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action (karma yoga) and wisdom (jnana yoga).
#2 Classical Yoga
In the pre-classical stage, yoga was a mishmash of various ideas, beliefs and techniques that often conflicted and contradicted each other.
The Classical period is defined by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the first systematic presentation of yoga.
Written some time in the second century, this text describes the path of Raja Yoga, often called "classical yoga".
Patanjali organized the practice of yoga into an "eight limbed path" containing the steps and stages towards obtaining Samadhi or enlightenment.
Patanjali is often considered the father of yoga and his Yoga Sutras continues to strongly influences most styles of modern yoga.
#3 Post-Classical Yoga
A few centuries after Patanjali, yoga masters created a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life.
They rejected the teachings of the ancient Vedas and embraced the physical body as the means to achieve enlightenment.
They developed Tantra Yoga, with radical techniques to cleanse the body and mind to break the knots that bind us to our physical existence.
This exploration of these physical-spiritual connections and body centered practices led to the creation of what we primarily think of yoga in the West: Hatha Yoga.
#4 Modern Period
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga masters began to travel to the West, attracting attention and followers.
This began at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago, when Swami Vivekananda wowed the attendees with his lectures on yoga and the universality of the world’s religions.
In the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India with the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda and other yogis practicing Hatha Yoga.
Krishnamacharya opened the first Hatha Yoga school in Mysore in 1924.
In 1936 Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society on the banks of the holy Ganges River.
Krishnamacharya produced four students that would continue his legacy and increase the popularity of Hatha Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, Pattabhi Jois and the first female to start a yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947: Indra Devi.
Sivananda was a prolific author, writing over 200 books on yoga, and established nine ashrams and numerous yoga centers located around the world.
Since then, many more western and Indian teachers have become pioneers, popularizing hatha yoga and gaining millions of followers. Hatha Yoga now has many different schools or styles, all emphasizing the many different aspects of the practice.
Soon Krishnamacharya’s interest and work turned toward treating the sick, using Ayurveda and yoga as healing agents. He became increasingly well known, and in 1952 was summoned to Madras to treat a popular politician who had suffered a heart attack. Finally, Krishnamacharya settled in Madras with his family.
As well as his Indian students, more Westerners came to Madras to study. Gerard Blitz, who brought these teachings to Europe, was one of the first to seek out Krishnamacharya, as was Jean Klein, the Advaita teacher. In 1976, T. K. V. Desikachar, Krishnamacharya’s son and one of his closest disciples, founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, an institution where yoga is used to treat sick people, and is taught to both Indian and foreign students Krishnamacharya was teaching and inspiring those around him until six weeks prior to his death in 1989.
Krishnamacharya’s teachings were unique in his insistence on attending to each individual and to his or her uniqueness. If we respect each person individually, it naturally means we will always start from where each person currently is. The starting point is never the teacher’s needs but those of the student. This requires many different approaches; there is not just one approach for everybody. The way yoga is taught nowadays often gives the impression that there is one solution to everyone’s problems and one treatment for every illness. But yoga affects the mind, primarily, and each person’s mind is different. Indeed the culture and background of each person is different as well. Krishnamacharya chose what seemed necessary and useful: sometimes it might be asanas, sometimes it was a prayer, sometimes he even told people to stop a certain yoga practice: then the healing occurred.
The main styles of yoga in the west became Ashtanga, which was created by Pattabhi Jois (ashta = limb and anga = practice), being a practice of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Ashtanga was born to be a strong practice, without the use of props. Secondly, Iyengar was born at the same time period (around the 1900s), by BKS Iyengar, known today as Iyengar Yoga. This was a slower paced style of yoga that focussed greatly on alignment.
From Ashtanga, Vinyasa Yoga was born. Vinyasa however was not a new age term. Vinyasa is found in the yoga sutras, and is defined as: Vinyasa krama, which describes a correctly organized course of yoga practice. It is a fundamental concept in yoga having to do with constructing a gradual and intelligent course for our practice, and is important to employ irrespective of whether we are dealing with asana practice, prāṇāyāma, or some other aspect of yoga.
Developing a yoga practice according to the ideas expressed in the Yoga Sutra is an action referred to as vinyasa krama. Krama is the step, nyasa means “to place,” and the prefix vi - translates as “in a special way.” The concept of vinyasa krama tells us that it is not enough to simply take a step; that step needs to take us in the right direction and be made in the right way.
Modern day Vinyasa Sequences are presented today as more or less of a watered down version of Ashtanga Yoga, Primary Series One. If we look at how Krishnamacharya designed asana sequences, you will see that these modern sequences have the tendency to contradict what Krishnamacharya was trying to achieve.
Remember - when we define Vinyasa as it is meant to be - it means “to place in a special way”. We will dive deeper into what this means as we progress through this manual. Today when we hear the word ‘yoga’ we think of the categorised asana styles as we know them today, consisting of hatha, yin, vinyasa, power, restorative.
The yoga world Krishnamacharya inherited at his birth in 1888 looked very different from that of today. Under the pressure of British colonial rule, hatha yoga had fallen by the wayside. Just a small circle of Indian practitioners remained. But in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a Hindu revivalist movement breathed new life into India's heritage. As a young man, Krishnamacharya immersed himself in this pursuit, learning many classical Indian disciplines, including Sanskrit, logic, ritual, law, and the basics of Indian medicine. In time, he would channel this broad background into the study of yoga, where he synthesized the wisdom of these traditions.
According to biographical notes Krishnamacharya made near the end of his life, his father initiated him into yoga at age five, when he began to teach him Patanjali's sutras and told him that their family had descended from a revered ninth-century yogi, Nathamuni. Although his father died before Krishnamacharya reached puberty, he instilled in his son a general thirst for knowledge and a specific desire to study yoga. In another manuscript, Krishnamacharya wrote that "while still an urchin," he learned 24 asanas from a swami of the Sringeri Math, the same temple that gave birth to Sivananda Yogananda's lineage. Then, at age 16, he made a pilgrimage to Nathamuni's shrine at Alvar Tirunagari, where he encountered his legendary forefather during an extraordinary vision.
The correct spelling is AUM; each letter represents a state of our being. In yoga philosophy, the sound ‘AUM’ has been used since the beginning of time; it represents complete creation and unification.
A, U, M, and a symbol representing resonance; therefore OM has four aspects.
A: AWAKE STATE
The first is the A, a sound that comes from the belly, is formed in the open throat, and is voiced with the mouth open. As with many alphabets, A is the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. When I sound A, I must open my mouth, which stands for the process of creation. Pronounced for 2 seconds.
U: DREAM STATE
The second aspect is the U, a sound that is formed in the middle of the mouth. The mouth is not as wide open as it is for sounding the A. U represents continuity and connection. Pronounced for 3 seconds.
M: DEEP SLEEP / UNCONSCIOUS STATE
With the third sound, M, the mouth closes. M is the final consonant in the Sanskrit alphabet. So getting from A to M through U represents everything that can be expressed in letters and words.Pronounced for 5 seconds.
The sound rises to the nasal passages, from where the resonance, the fourth aspect of OM. The audible pronunciation of AUM is for a total of 10 Seconds.
Everything which can be expressed in words is Isvara. U symbolizes the continuance of creation, which is constantly renewing itself. M symbolizes the end and dissolution. This parallel points to the one who stands behind all four states, the only one who is truly awake: Isvara. There is One who is present in all these states, One who never sleeps and never dreams, One who is always awake, always watchful, One who knows about everything and yet is beyond everything.
If we repeat OM with these ideas in the back of our mind, we will gradually become immersed in Isvara and our minds will become so saturated with Isvara that we will become very still. Then we can go on our way again. For this reason, isvarapranidhana is one of the strongest ways for dispelling the obstacles we meet as we move forward in life.
The top of the OM represents bliss, or turiya (meaning the fourth) and representing the fourth state of consciousness; pure consciousness - being limitless - oneness; the goal of yoga.
The semi circle under the turiya is maya (meaning illusion) (bad wolf, parent ego, child ego)
ILLUSION / PARENT / CHILD EGO
M / UNCONSCIOUS
U / DREAM STATE
A / AWAKE STATE / ADULT EGO
Nama = bow / as = I / te = you
Namaste literally means “I Bow to you”.
Namaste is commonly used as a greeting in India and across parts of Asia.
traditionally, Namaste is used in conjunction with Anjali (salute) Mudra (a symbol).
Our western world has adopted this practice to end a yoga classes. You are welcome to do this, however don’t be alarmed if a traditional yogi or Hindu is confused by this action! I like to close my asana classes with a meditation, pranayama or mantra or a simple “thank you for joining me" works too.
The Traditional Branches of Yoga
Hatha Yoga is the physical practice of yoga. The asana practice of hatha yoga symbolizes the connection of the right side of our existence, represented by sun qualities (male, Shiva) and the left side of our existence, represented by the moon qualities (female, Shakti) bringing the world and the physical body into balance.
The word Hatha means “to strike with force, or forceful,” meaning to strike the body with the challenge of the postures and to “yoke” (the meaning of yoga) the mind into singular focus.
Most styles of yoga in the United States are based in Hatha with different philosophies, practices, and terminology that allow yoga to fit the individual practitioner. Its traditional source in relation to the postures is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Raja = king, this is described as the royal path (“raja” means king), the yoga of meditation.
The focus is to quiet the mind.
The practitioner’s attention is fixed on an object, mantra, or concept.
Whenever the mind wanders it is brought back to the object of concentration.
In time the mind will cease wandering and become completely still.
Raja yoga practitioners aim to establish “a mental link with the supreme source of all spiritual energy and power, the Supreme Soul, with the purpose of freeing the individual soul from misery, pain, fear, illness, phobias and enabling the soul to experience peace, happiness and lasting health and prosperity.”
The yoga of knowledge.
Closely associated with Advaita Vedanta, one of the six philosophies of Hinduism.
Advaita Vedanta believes that everything in the universe shares a single soul, including all living creatures and God.
The wisdom associated with discerning the Real from the unreal or illusory.
The yoga of devotion.
The practitioner’s emotional force is concentrated and channeled toward the Divine.
Bhakti practitioners are openly expressive; their devotion is sometimes compared to a love-relationship with a divine being
Kirtan, devotional singing, is a popular practice of Bhakti yoga.
The yoga of service to others and to God
Actions are assumed for the benefit of the greater good
There is no concern for personal benefit
The Bhagavad-Gita describes Karma-Yoga in detail to: “Be intent on action; not on the fruits of action.”
The great Battle of Kuruksetra is about to commence for over a period of 18 days.
The battle is a result of the culmination of a years-long feud over sovereignty of a kingdom, between the five sons of Pandu - The Pandavas, and their one-hundred cousins: the Kauravas.
Intrigue, cheating, and political positioning over several years have led to this battle, which involves the several kings of Bharatavarsa: the land presently known as India.
Duryodhana, leader of the Kaurava brothers, has rejected all conciliatory gestures by the Pandavas who, ever since childhood, had suffered numerous abuses by him.
On the first day of the battle, prior to the first armed engagement, the Pandava warrior, Arjuna, and his charioteer, Krishna, hold an extended consultation. It is this dialogue, in which Krishna counsels Arjuna on focused engagement (yoga), that constitutes the Bhagavad Gita.
The Yamas + Niyamas:
The Yamas & Niyamas comprise the first and second limbs of Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga. The Yamas and Niyamas are a set of guidelines that reference our interaction with others and ourselves. The attitude we have toward things and people outside ourselves is called yama in yoga, and how we relate to ourselves inwardly is called niyama. Yama and niyama deal with our social attitude and lifestyle, how we interact with other people and the environment, and how we deal with our problems. All aspects of yoga help us become aware of where we are, where we stand, and how we look at things. Recognizing our mistakes is the first sign of clarity. Then gradually we try to bring about some changes in the way we show our respect to nature or relate to a friend. No one can change in a day, but yoga practices help change attitudes, our yama and niyama. It is not the other way around.
An important note:
As we dive into the yoga history and philosophy, it is important to remember that when you see or hear the word "God", it is to be taken as an indivudual interpretation. Yoga is all inclusive; it does not separate. So whatever God means to you - insert that definition.
1. The Yamas
Non-violence / Kindness
Sutra 2.35 Ahimsa Pratisthayam Tat Sannidhau Vaira Tyagah:
"The more considerate we are, the more we stimulate friendly feelings among all in our presence."
Ahimsa is the first, most important Yama.
This Yama alone can create peace within our 7 bodies.
The idea is that the more we emit harmonious vibrations of a peaceful presence, the more peace will enter the world.
We cannot experience peace if we are engaged in levels of harming - even on the most subtle level.
The word himsa means “injustice” or “cruelty:, but is more than just a lack of violence.
It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things.
Ahimsa goes beyond the obvious of not killing, although it can imply to not kill anything from bugs to animals, including killing animals for food or animals for their skin (leather); however Ahimsa asks that we don’t avoid something that will inevitably cause harm - for example - is it best to eat the meat or starve to death?
Harsh language and gossip even contribute to disharmony and suffering.
Ahimsa asks that we avoid indirect violence (such as having stocks or mutual funds that profit from war, plundering the environment of natural resources and/or exploiting third world labor and resources).
Ahimsa has to do with our duties and responsibilities too.
It could even mean that we must fight if our life is in danger.
In every situation we should adopt a considered attitude; this is the true meaning of ahimsa.
Ahimsa also refers to not harming our environment, nor our bodies, with toxic chemicals, and protecting our minds from movies, TV shows and music that glorify conflict and violence.
Ahimsa also means refraining from unkind or critical thoughts of ourselves and others, and not harbouring feelings of anger, fear, regret and resentment.
Ahimsa is also related to kindness toward our physical bodies within our asana practice. For the purpose of this action, we have inserted the Virtual Prana Critical Alignment here.
Part of self love and self care is knowing what feels good in your body, from food to your yoga postures. Some key critical alignment points we are going to anchor are:
1. Spine + Pelvis
In 90% of your postures, aim to keep the natural curves of your spine.
We call this ‘Optimum Alignment’.
This is achieved by keeping your pelvis in neutral, allowing your lumbar curve to stay curved while drawing your thoracic spine back, and allowing your head to balance onto of your atlas. Our cervical spine is at risk these days, as will be discussed in further detail later in the course. Always work at keeping your neck neutral and avoid putting pressure on the top of your head and on your C7 vertebrae.
It is important to keep your 4 fingers spread wide apart, and your thumbs in a little bit - why? Keeping your thumb in slightly will protect the median nerve that runs through your thumb pad and wrist. It is important to keep ALL 5 of your knuckle pads anchored into the ground, and allow these areas and allow your finger tips to absorb most of the pressure, so there is little to no pressure on the outside of your hand and in the heel of your hand.
Keep your finger tips strong and anchored into the floor; this will also help support the stability within your hand, and support the creation of a suction cup action from the centre of your palm.
A healthy lock of the knee is ok, however hyper extension is not.
Never ‘stretch’ your knees.
Never allow your knee to move past your ankle or collapse toward the inside of your foot.
If you feel PAIN, PRESSURE, OR PULLING in your knees, modify.
Truthfulness in Word & Thought
Sutra 2.36 Satya Pratisthayam Kriya Phalasrayatvam:
"When we show a high degree of clear communication, being aware of the impact we have on others, we will not fail in our actions."
Satya means “to speak the truth.”
Satya cannot interfere with Ahimsa, so if speaking the truth causes harm to another, it is best not to speak the truth.
However, if you fear speaking the truth about something you did that was not truthful to another, it is not considered harmful to the other person (many get this confused).
Both Satya and Ahimsa asks us to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. I
At the heart of Satya lies love, compassion and integrity.
Our human mind is capable of clouding Satya; however, the wisdom of our heart is ever pure and truthful.
The instinctual knowledge that we all have a deep voice within us exists - this is the voice of our soul. It is ever honest, incorruptible and eternal. You have heard it each time you engage in unconscious behaviour, even if you chose not to listen.
As we seek to still our mind, we hear this whisper of the soul with increasing clarity. Eventually we enter into full dialogue and live from this place of grace.
The practice of Satya is a pathway to this wisdom of the heart. Most of us have been taught since we were children to always tell the truth, but how many of us really do?
We call in sick to work, we tell lies to hide certain actions of which we are not proud of, we spare our true feelings to a friend or loved one for fear of causing hurt, conflict or retaliation.
We even tell lies to ourselves about our motivations or to excuse ourselves for inappropriate behaviour.
This comes in the form of rationalization and self-delusion.
Satya is contraindicated by over- consumption of food, alcohol, drugs, chronic shopping, lack of self-discipline and other embarrassing behaviours that we are unwilling to face.
If we firmly establish ourselves in truth, we remove illusion, self-deceit and pretence, all of which are elements that veil reality, create fear and constrict the heart.
The Mahabharata says: “Speak the truth which is pleasant. Do not speak unpleasant truths. Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing to the ear. That is the eternal law, the dharma.”
Non-stealing / Non-covetousness
Sutra 2.37 Asteya Pratisthayam Sarva Ratnopasthanam:
"When we are trustworthy, because we do not want what belongs to others, we naturally obtain everyone's confidence and everything is shared with us, no matter how precious it might be."
Asteya is the third yama; Steya means “to steal”; asteya is the opposite—to take nothing that does not belong to us.
This also means that if we are in a situation where someone entrusts something to us or confides in us, we do not take advantage of him or her.
Asteya moves beyond the act of physically stealing something from someone. It includes taking away someone’s experience by interrupting, or wanting what someone else has, or simply by not being satisfied with what we have.
It includes seeking financial gain to the point of engaging in some form of stealing; for example having stocks in companies that exploit our planet’s resources.
Some examples of this are: keeping our car engine running when we don't have to, driving when we could walk or ride a bike; and over using water and electricity.
When we do not practice asteya, we are likely to either not get what we were after or lose it at some point in the future. In the process, we also lose touch with our soul.
Just as discussed in Satya, where we will likely find ourselves telling little white lies for convenience sake, we too likely commit little thefts without paying attention.
The more we are established in the act of non stealing, abundance comes our way.
To live completely in Asteya, we must enhance our awareness and be willing to do the necessary research to work towards living more consciously.
Sutra 2.38 Bramacharya Pratisthayam Virya Labhah.
"With awareness and moderation, we can achieve ultimate vitality and connect with our divine."
This word is composed of the root car, which means “to move,” and the word brahma, which means “truth” in terms of the one essential truth.
We can understand brahmacarya as a movement toward the essential.
Bramacarya is a practice of moderation and abstention; especially when it comes to indulging all of our senses.
When we practice Bramacaraya we do not waste our vital energy.
This can be accomplished through responsible behaviour.
Just as we have noted the many ways that violence, dishonesty and stealing pervade modern culture and contribute to our conditioning, sensual pleasures are a major focus of society and economics.
From early childhood we are taught to focus on and cultivate our desires. We learn to associate gifts and acquisition of material items with affection and love.
We are tantalised with sweets to the point that food often becomes more about pleasure of the senses rather than nourishment of the body.
Desire has a wide range of impacts on us depending on how much we cater to our urges and compulsions.
Over-shopping, too many vacations, overeating, excessive drinking, vicarious living through mass media, addiction to drugs and excessive gambling can all lead to mental derangement.
This is not to say we should retreat to a cave and chant AUM for the rest of our lives!
We should live our lives to the fullest and rejoice in every single moment, exploring and absorbing all aspects of our existence - however, everything in moderation! It is when we become attached to our senses, seeking fleeting pleasure only through them and habitually over indulging ourselves, that we endanger our well being.
Sutra 2.39 Aparigraha Sthairye Janmakathamta Sambodhah:
"When we are not greedy, we are secure. We have time to think deeply and understand ourselves. Once we have this understanding, we will experience completion."
Aparigraha; a word that means something like “hands off” or “not seizing opportunity.” Parigraha means “to take” or “to seize.” - Aparigraha begins with awareness.
When we let go of greed, we come to understand the true meaning of our birth and existence.
We realise that life is not about what's in it for us. Greed can mean not only material possessions, but greed when it comes to self expression and when it comes to clinging onto patterns within our thoughts and emotions, and even our intellect and our energy that no longer serve us.
Awareness is the first step; through awareness we cultivate compassion, along with understanding, acceptance and generosity.
When we release greed we are more likely to serve others and to give rather than to take.
Releasing greed shifts us away from our desires, patterns and petty concerns.
Aparigraha involves not just transcending our individual greed, but also opening our eyes and our hearts to the suffering of humanity.
The more we take of the world's resources for ourselves, the less others have.
From a global vision, Aparigraha can mean non-greed within our emotional selves, considering our patterns and our desire for material possessions.
Expanding this concept requires us to think about other people and create compassion, understanding and acceptance to where others are at.
As well, we can implement the use of generosity; not only from sharing our material items we have no use for, but also sharing our experiences and tools in order to empower and enhance the lives of others.
2. The Niyamas
Cleanliness of Body and Mind
Sutra 2.40 Saucat Svanga Jugupsa Parair Asamsargah:
"When cleanliness is developed, it reveals what needs to be constantly maintained."
In order to become strong and happy, we must keep our temple clean (washing our body, brushing our teeth, washing our hands); feed ourselves healthy and "clean" foods.
We gain more clarity and confidence as these habits progress. It teaches us we have the power to change our habits and transform our lives.
Just as important as the purification of the body, is the purification of the mind.
Think of both inner and outer cleanliness.
Mental purification helps to bring us stillness.
In this stillness is where we can experience true connection and union.
Just as overeating and impure foods pollute the body, over-ingestion of negative impressions pollute the mind.
We must avoid the trap of becoming fixated with our body and remember that a central aspect of Saucha is to disassociate as well; moving from attachment to our physical matter to our spiritual connection.
Satisfaction / Contentment
Sutra 2.42 Santosad Amuttamah Sukha Labhah:
"Through contentment, we can obtain ultimate joy."
Santosha is the most elusive of emotions for most of us and among the most blessed to attain.
The key to any lasting contentment is learning to see and accept reality for what it is and then act skillfully, rather than reacting when reality fails to conform to our expectations.
The result is that we come to recognize that there is more going on than just our own little movie, that our ego is not running the world and there is a higher power behind our experience.
One of the primary reasons most of us spend our lives reacting to reality - feeling stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy as a result, is because we have been deliberately conditioned to do so.
Another factor is related to the constriction of our range.
Much of our social conditioning results in increasingly narrow viewpoints and experiences.
We come to see the world through our lens of political, social and philosophical prejudices.
Our tolerances for anything outside of our range is diminished as we become deeper and deeper set in our ways.
We automatically react when inevitable fluctuations of life spike outside of our comfort zone.
We can begin to expand our range through cultivating gratitude and acceptance; thus we will live more fully in reality and increase the level of Santosha in our lives.
As we accept experience in one area of life and learn to cope with challenges, we are able to expand in other areas. This helps us release our egos, prejudices and social conditionings. This promotes fuller self expression, a greater willingness to accept changes and enhanced self esteem.
Living in Santosha is living from the heart. It is a full blossoming of Yoga, it brings a delightful fragrance to our life that assists in healing ourselves and calming those in our presence.
It is what we all truly want. There is no greater gift than this, no acquisition or experience that can compare; no level of power, wealth or status that even comes close to the grace of true contentment.
Sutra 2.43 Kayendriya Siddhir Asuddhi Kshayat Tapasah:
"When we remove impurities, we allow our body to function more efficiently."
Tapas means to heat the body.
Seeing yoga is based on action, tapas can be considered the austerity, the hard work, the self discipline and sustained effort it takes to achieve Yoga (not just in the asana, but all of the limbs).
We can know everything there is to know about food, from planting to harvesting to serving, but we must ingest it to be nourished.
We can study yoga and come to know its myriad of aspects and applications, but we must practice it with enduring effort and self-discipline for it to unfold its many blessings in our lives.
The root of Tapas is "tap", which means to “apply one's heart”.
Tapas is the inner flame (the heat) of the heart required to burn away our impurities and transform the fuel of knowledge into wisdom.
We all possess this fire and it is inherent in all matter; however, often times it lies dormant.
Even dried sticks of wood, when vigorously rubbed together over a period of time, will reveal their inner flame; so it is with each of us.
Through Tapas, we take full responsibility for our healing and our spiritual growth. It implies a complete commitment and demands we expend the necessary energy to fulfil that commitment.
To align ourselves with our divine, we must move into action; this requires a complete accountability on the impact we have on others, the breaking of old habits and the extraction of ourselves from our day to day conditioning.
This can only be done with great and consistent effort. We can use Tapas when we feel our old patterns re-surfacing.
We can choose to sit in the fire and feel our feelings, wholeheartedly, without wanting to change them or without wanting to feel something different or something better.
Through Tapas we can shift our patterns into new patterns that serve our higher self in an empowering way.
Without Tapas, we are unable to achieve any kind of personal growth.
Self Study for the purpose of Spiritual Study
Sutra 2.44 Svadhyayad Istadevata Samprayogah:
"Through self study and reflection on sacred words, we can unify with our chosen God."
Svadhyaya is the act of self-study and reflection on sacred words; a primary pathway to self- awareness and personal growth.
Sva means “self” or “belonging to me.”Adhyaya means “inquiry” or “examination”; literally, “to get close to something.”
Svadhyaya therefore means to get close to yourself, that is, to study yourself.
All learning, all reflection, all contact that helps you to learn more about yourself is svadhyaya.
It helps us move past our ignorance of our true nature, ego, attraction, aversion and fear.
It involves facing ourselves and really owning our behaviour, then seeking the guidance embodied in sacred words that offers us a higher course of action and being.
The most common way to perform svadhyaya is the devotion or study of one's Brahma (or God).
This comes in many forms: Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Shiva, Rama and Vishnu. We do this by studying “sacred” text. In yoga these texts include: The Vedas, Bhagavad-Gita, Yoga Sutras and Upanishads. Depending upon your spiritual orientation, you may prefer: Bible, Diamond of Sutra of Buddhism, Tao, or any other sacred text or any other kind of science.
We come to see our perspectives and patterns in different light when we read and reread this wisdom.
We have communication with those great sages and seers who have actually explored the inner frontier and brought home divine guidance.
We could be inspired to shift, change and grow: What if through this practice, our hearts are open and our souls are touched?
Sutra 11.45 Samadhi Siddhir Ishvarapranhidanat:
"When we surrender to God, Samadhi is attained."
It is stated that if you attain this sutra, you need not pay attention to the others, as you have attained Samadhi (the final/eighth limb of yoga).
Ishvarapranidhana means “to lay all your actions at the feet of God.” Because avidya often underlies our actions, things frequently go wrong.
This is the reason why santosha (modesty / contentment) is so important: let it suffice that we know we have done our best.
We can leave the rest to a higher power. In the context of the niyamas we can define Ishvarapranidhana as the attitude of a person who usually offers the fruits of his or her action to God in daily prayer.
This does not mean you have to be religious, it means you have to be willing to look outside yourself and see the divine in all things.
Such an act has a greater purpose than that of your achievements, your materials and your relationships.
This act is when you surrender yourself, all actions, all thoughts and all feelings to the Divine (whomever your Divine is: God, Goddess or higher power, etc).
This is ultimately full surrender of your ego(s).
We mostly find it easier to see the beauty and grace in those we love.
This sutra is seeing the beauty and grace in all beings, even the ones we once had animosity toward.
This is at the seat of forgiveness, compassion and acceptance of all events, all feelings, all emotions; this is full expression, with balanced boundaries.
We all have this in us, we were born with it. The proof is watching a small child; they are fully expressed. As we grow we are conditioned and our light is dimmed by the many lampshades of our perception.
Practice of Postures
Sutra 2.47 Prayatna Saithily Ananta Samapattibhyam:
"When we lessen the tendency for restlessness and meditate on the infinite, posture is mastered.”
Asana are the postures practiced in yoga, comprising the third limb.
In the yogic view, the body is a temple of spirit, the care of which is an important stage of our spiritual growth.
Through the practice of asanas, we develop the habit of discipline and the ability to concentrate, both of which are necessary for meditation.
Mastery of Asana can be achieved by recognising and observing our reactions to various postures.
Once we know our reactions, they (our reactions) can be controlled.
Each asana should have a balance of Sthira (stable) and Sukha (comfort); to much of either created in imbalance (definitions taken from the Yoga Makaranda)
Sutra 2.49 Tasmin Sati Svasa Prasvasayor Gati Vicchedah Pranayamah:
"A firm posture being acquired, the movements of inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is Pranayama."
Generally translated as breath control, this fourth limb consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognising the connection between the breath, the mind and the emotions.
As implied by the literal translation of Pranayama, "life force extension", yogis believe that it not only rejuvenates the body, but actually extends life itself.
You can practice pranayama as an isolated technique, simply sitting and performing a number of breathing exercises, or integrate it into your daily yoga routine.
These first four limbs of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga concentrate on refining our personalities, gaining mastery over the body and developing an energetic awareness of ourselves.
All of these 4 limbs prepare us for the second half of this journey which deals with the mind, senses and attaining a higher state of consciousness.
Control of the senses
Sutra 2.54 Sva Visayasamprayoge Cittasya Svarupanukara Ivendriyanam Pratyaharah:
"Withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects and then drawing the senses inwards toward the seer, is pratyahara."
Pratyahara, the fifth limb, means “withdrawal” or “sensory transcendence”. “Ahara” means “nourishment”; pratyahara translates as “to withdraw oneself from that which nourishes the senses.”
This means our senses stop living off the things that stimulate; the senses no longer depend on these stimulants and are not fed by them any more.
Our eyes are drawn to a beautiful sunset as bees are drawn to honey—this is the way our senses function normally.
There is also the possibility that the most beautiful sunset on earth will not attract our attention, will not engage our senses, because we are deeply immersed in something else.
Normally the senses say to the mind: “Look at this! Smell this! Touch that!”
The senses register an object and the mind is drawn to it at once.
In pratyahara we sever this link between mind and senses, and the senses withdraw.
Each sense perception has a particular quality to which it relates: the eyes relate to the form of something; the ears to the sound, the vibration it makes; the nose to its smell.
In pratyahara it is as if things are spread out with all their attractions before our senses, but they are ignored; the senses remain unmoved and uninfluenced.
During this stage we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli.
Keenly aware of, yet cultivating a detachment from our senses, we direct our attention internally.
The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves.
This withdrawal allows us to objectively observe both our cravings and habits that are perhaps detrimental to our physical, mental and spiritual health, which have the tendency to interfere with our personal growth.
The Practice of Yoga Nidra can be a way to deepen Pratyahara.
Cultivating cognitive awareness
Sutra 3.1 Desabandhas Cittasya Dharana:
"Dharana is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea."
As each stage prepares us for the next, the practice of pratyahara creates the setting for dharana, or “concentration”.
Having relieved ourselves of outside distractions, we can now deal with the distractions of the mind itself.
“Dhr “ means to hold; literally meaning to hold our concentration in one direction.
In the practice of concentration, which precedes meditation, we learn how to slow down the thinking process by concentrating on a single mental object: a specific energetic center in the body, an image of a deity or the silent repetition of a sound.
We have already begun to develop our powers of concentration in the previous three stages of posture, breath control and withdrawal of the senses.
In Asana and Pranayama, although we pay attention to our actions, our attention travels. Our focus constantly shifts as we fine-tune the many nuances of any particular posture or breathing technique.
In Pratyahara we become self-observant; in Dharana we focus our attention on a single point.
Once we have reached the ability to direct our mind on one single object, it is possible to maintain the concentration despite the many other potential distractions. Extended periods of concentration naturally lead to meditation (Dhyana).
Sutra 3.2 Tatra Pratyayaikatanata Dhyanam:
"Dayana is the continuous flow of cognition towards that object."
Meditation, or contemplation, is the seventh stage of Ashtanga; it is the uninterrupted flow of concentration.
Although concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana) may appear to be one and the same, a fine line of distinction exists between these two stages.
Where dharana practices one-pointed attention, dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without that one-pointed focus.
At this stage, the mind is quieted and in the stillness it produces few thoughts, or in advanced stages, no thoughts at all.
The strength and stamina it takes to reach this state of stillness is quite impressive, but don't give up!
While this may seem a difficult, if not impossible task, remember that yoga is a process.
Even though we may not attain the ‘picture perfect’ pose, or the ideal state of consciousness, we benefit at every stage of our progress.
Dhyana strengthens self-sufficiency.
Yoga makes us independent.
We all want to be free, although many of us are dependent on psychologists, gurus, teachers, drugs, or whatever.
Even if advice and guidance are helpful, in the end we ourselves are the best judge of our own actions.
No one is more interested in me than me. With the help of dhyana we find our own methods and systems for making decisions and better understand our behaviour.
Sutra 3.3 Tad Evarthamatra Nirbhasam Svarupa Sunyam Iva Samadhih:
"Samadhi is within the meditative state where only the object is present and nothing but the comprehension of the object is evident."
Patanjali describes the eighth and final stage of ashtanga, Samadhi, as a state of ecstasy.
At this stage, the meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self altogether.
The meditator comes to realise a profound connection to the Divine; an interconnectedness with all living things. It is when our personal identity—name, profession, family history, bank account, and so forth—completely disappears. In the moment of samadhi none of that exists anymore.
Nothing separates us from the object of our choice; instead we blend and become one with it.
What Patanjali described as the completion of the yogic path is what all human beings aspire to - Peace.
We also might give some thought to the fact that this ultimate stage of yoga, enlightenment, can neither be bought nor possessed, it can only be experienced.
Section 108 of The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states: “The Yogi, engaged in Samadhi, feels neither smell, taste, color, touch, sound, nor is conscious of his own self. * We must take Samadhi with a grain of salt, as true Samadhi in the sense of Patanjali, is to not experience our human body.
The Heart of Yoga, TKV Desikachar
Yoga Makaranda, Krishnamacharya
Describe what the AUM symbol means, as you would to a brand new student of yoga.
Describe what Namaste means, as you would to a brand new student of yoga.
Read each of the Yamas & Niyamas, and answer the following questions:
- How could you incorporate more of the yama/niyama into your life?
- How could you incorporate more of the yama/niyama into your asana practice?
Completion date: September 24.
deepening your personal practice
Do a minumum of 10 asana practices at Playa Negra Yoga or visit Hali Love's class library. Do a written 7 Bodies check in before and after each class. Subsequent to each class, note what inspired you about the teaching style.
Completion date: September 24.
the Bhagavad Gita (for 500 hour students only)
The Bhagavad Gita, often referred to as the Gita, is a 700-verse scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata, dated to the second half of the first millennium BCE.
The Gita is a dialogue between the warrior-prince Arjuna and the God Krishna who is serving as his charioteer at the Battle of Kurukshetra fought between Arjuna's family and allies (the Pandavas) and those of the prince Duryodhana and his family (the Kauravas) and their allies.
How does the Bhagavad Gita relate to yoga?
Bhagavad Gita – Lord Krishna defines yoga as a balanced state of the body and mind. Yoga is a balanced state of emotions. Yoga is a balanced state of thoughts and intellect. Yoga is a balanced state of behaviour.
Please read the first 5 Chapters by August 28, you do not have to understand the story, just get familiar with it. Note any insights you get from the reading.
Purchase a downloadable or paper copy of the Bhagavad Gita, preferably the same version as noted in the photo above. We will be reading this together as a group. If you have the time, and want to get a head start, you can read the first 4 chapters. This assignment is simply to get you familiar with the story and writing of the Gita.