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    Basic Hatha Yoga and pranayama course notes anyone?

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    Vidya Moksha

    Posts : 501
    Join date : 2010-04-17
    Location : on the road again :)

    Re: Basic Hatha Yoga and pranayama course notes anyone?

    Post  Vidya Moksha on Tue Jul 28, 2015 12:14 pm

    B.B.Baghor wrote:Hi Vidya, thanks for giving your blurb link to the book. I'm not on Facebook. I'll have to wait a couple of days, than I will order
    a pdf version of your book and complete the payment. I'm now a blurbarian too... ha! Apart from having a choice for many more
    books online, blurping could be just the thing for me, once I'm in the phase of publishing my book Bleh

    Thanks BBB.
    yeah, if you want glossy, full colour books you really cant beat blurb for quality. I had better not dwell on the lesser aspects of their service Wink

    Their booksmart software is ok for most things simple, otherwise the indesign add-in is your best solution.. good luck with your blurbing, thanks again for the interest in mine, I hope it is interesting and useful to you.
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    Vidya Moksha

    Posts : 501
    Join date : 2010-04-17
    Location : on the road again :)

    Re: Basic Hatha Yoga and pranayama course notes anyone?

    Post  Vidya Moksha on Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:01 am

    I may as well use what bandwidth and credit I have left (it expires) to do something potentially useful :)
    Wink
    I am reformatting my yoga book, I would like it to look much nicer than my first attempt..

    I will try and sell some copies, as it is a good read and I need the money..

    i may well include text in here, or even a pdf for free as well..

    here is the unformatted and unillustrated pranayama section from my book



    Pranayama
    The purpose of pranayama is to produce correct energy flow within the body, to balance the energies of ida and pingala and to give sushumna a chance to open.
    The energy flow in the nadi corresponds to the air flow in the nostrils and pranayama utilises breathing patterns to influence the nadi.
    Yoga claims that one minute of pranayama energizes the body for one hour. Therefore, a daily practice of twenty four minutes will keep the body fully energized. Suggested practice is twelve minutes in the morning and the same in the evening.
    Technique
    With all pranayama exercises breathing is through the nostrils. There are four basic instructions: inhalation (pooraka), exhalation (rechaka), breath retention after inhalation (antar kumbhaka) and breath retention after exhalation (bahir kumbhaka).
    Pranayama is practiced in a comfortable sitting position with a straight spine. Air flow is regulated through the nostrils with the use of your fingers and thumb. Fold the first and second fingers of your right hand into your palm. The thumb and third finger are then placed on the nose, just below the bridge (bone) and only slight pressure is required to close the nostrils. The technique has been exaggerated in the photos, when performing pranayama both the thumb and fingers rest on the nose throughout.
    Many pranayama techniques require a measure of breathing rate or depth of breath. There are three main ways to achieve this.  
    An obvious method is to use a clock placed at eye level, or on the ground in front of you. Another possibility is to use your heart rate as a clock. A better alternative is to use the fingers of your left hand, pressing on your leg while in a sitting position.
    However, it may be better to estimate time rather than measure it directly, as explained in the precaution section below. If you do time these exercises then ensure that the breathing is always uppermost in your awareness, and the primary focus of your concentration. Do not focus on counting as you breathe.
    Precautions
    Pranayama is a powerful tool for altering the energy flow in your body. There should be no problems performing the techniques described herein but to pursue pranayama further you will need expert guidance.
    Pranayama can be dangerous! I stopped undertaking some practices after I reprogrammed and stopped my automatic breathing function. I was concentrating on counting and timing my breathing rate rather than the breathing itself. When I ended the session, after some time, I simply couldn’t breathe. My breathing was no longer automatic and sub-conscious, it was waiting for my command to breathe. It was quite a scary experience; I had time to be seriously worried before my automatic breathing did return. I no longer count during pranayama exercises, I breathe at a rate that feels correct.
    In the following exercises I=inhale, E=exhale, L=left nostril, R=right nostril and B=both nostrils.

    #37. Nadi shodhanam I
    A simple sequence suitable for beginners is IL, EL, IR, ER, IL, EL, IR, ER, IL, EL, IR, ER, IB, EB, IB, EB, IB, EB etc.

    #37A. Nadi shodhanam II
    An alternative is to imagine a triangle between the two nostrils and the third eye (ajna chakra). Breath in through the right nostril, imagine the breath going to ajna, breathe out through the left nostril. Breathe in through the left, to ajna and out through the right.
    IL, ER, IR, EL, IL, ER, IR, EL etc.

    #37B. Nadi shodhanam III
    Imagine a circular breath: inhale right, exhale left, inhale right, exhale left etc. After three ‘circles’, alternate the flow. After another three circles then breathe through both nostrils for three cycles.
    EL, IR, EL, IR, EL, IR, switch to ER, IL, ER, IL, ER, IL, switch to IB, EB, IB, EB, IB, EB.
    These nine ‘cycles’ constitute one round. Keep repeating this pattern for five minutes every day, gradually increasing to twenty minutes each day. Once you have comfortably achieved twenty minutes then seek further guidance if you wish to increase your practice.

    #38. Breathing with antar kumbhaka and bahir kumbhaka
    Sit in a comfortable position with both hands resting on your legs. Breathe in, hold the in-breath, breathe out, hold the out-breath, breathe in, etc.  Take the same time over each of the four processes.
    It is worth repeating that normal breathing should not include pauses between the in-breath and the out-breath.

    #39. Kapalbhati
    Kapalbhati (‘skull shining') is used to increase mental energy and should be practiced whenever you feel tired but still need to be mentally active or alert.
    In a comfortable sitting position with a straight spine, exhale sharply through both nostrils. This exhalation is produced by an intake of the abdomen (not the chest). The subsequent inhalation is entirely passive, relaxing the abdominal muscles completely to expand the diaphragm naturally. The chest is not involved.
    This passive inhalation is hard to master and beginners will exhale more air than they inhale, resulting in a loss of breath. After a few breaths their rhythm will be interrupted as a fuller (active) inhalation is required. With practice this tendency to run out of breath will diminish.  
    Begin with a slow breathing rate, say one exhalation every one or two seconds. Repeat twenty times. As your passive inhalation technique improves, increase the breathing rate to two breaths per second and increase the duration to 50 breaths. Finally increase to three or four exhalations per second and 100 breaths.
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    Vidya Moksha

    Posts : 501
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    Re: Basic Hatha Yoga and pranayama course notes anyone?

    Post  Vidya Moksha on Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:07 am

    And nothing to do with Hatha yoga.... but a large part of my book

    Part IV – Experiencing advaita and samadhi

    It is difficult to describe samadhi, and I have no experience of the more advanced states, I never reached moksha. It is also difficult to separate advaita from the lower forms of samadhi.  
    What I will be describing in this section is a therefore a blend of advaita and the lower forms of samadhi, but that is clumsy to repeat, so I will use the term advaita to include this mixture.
    Advaita is available to everyone in an instant, they simply have to realise it (which is why everyone laughs heartily when they first get the cosmic joke; it really is that simple!).
    However, if actively searched for, knowing what is involved, then that simple switch is a huge and scary jump into a different world. The state of advaita was once described to me as ‘deliciously alien’. Non duality is alien, and it is accompanied by bliss (ananda), which really does make for a ‘delicious’ awareness. Swami Satyanada defines a yogi as a madman who can handle his experiences and not end up in a lunatic asylum
    Realising advaita represents the first major jump in awareness, it is the ‘passing through a veil’, what the Zen Buddhists call satori.  You can not mistake this sense of awareness. As one Zen author described: ‘satori is the release from one’s habitual state of tenseness, the clinging to the false ideas of possessions, a sense of boundless freedom and not the slightest doubt as to the completeness of one’s release.
    The following short statements, (i) to (xiv) below, are all facets of advaita. They all occur spontaneously and instantly once the state is realised, once you ‘pass through the veil’.

    (i) Advaita (non duality)
    Non duality is an automatic state of mind when advaita-samadhi is realised. In this state there is no good or bad, or even any notion of good and bad. There is no judgement whatsoever; things are what they are, not what you want them to be or think they are. Your mind does not place any mental qualifiers on any situation, and it is impossible to be ‘offended’ in this state of mind.
    Whilst non duality usually refers to objects or situations it also applies to time. You are simply in the moment, not separated from the present moment by your monkey mind imagining a past, future or imaginary scenario.
    You simply live without projecting any mental constructs.

    (ii) Asmita (ego)
    In advaita I had a notion of my self, the ‘I-am’ ego. Although you connect differently to other people there is still the sense that you are a separate being. In advaita there is no sense of egotism in the sense of ‘I want’, or ‘I need’. Things are the way they are, and I would even go as far as to say everything is perfectly as it should be. I know this sounds rather like utopian idealism, but in non duality, with no ego, that is exactly how it feels, especially as the state is accompanied by bliss (ananda).
    There is no concept of ‘my’ anything. I might be wearing clothes but they are not mine, they are simply clothes. If they are not there in the morning, there is no sense of loss.
    But this also extends to people; there is no ‘my son’, ‘my wife’ etc. They are simply human beings. You have no attachment to these people.  You don’t lose your mind or become senile (in fact the opposite is true, mental acumen increases), you don’t forget your past, or your biological relationships, you simply don’t recognise ‘ownership’ of people or places.

    (iii) Ananda (bliss)
    Advaita is accompanied by bliss (ananda), it is an automatic reaction. Bliss is above anything I have experienced as happiness or sensual pleasure.
    Time as a mental construct simply disappears; you are present in the now, not in a mentally constructed future or past scenario. When this happens fear disappears immediately. Fear is always a mental projection. You are anxious about what might (or will) happen in the future or worried about events that happened in the past. Fear simply does not exist in the present moment.
    It is an incredible feeling to be free from fear, even though the fear is not normally a conscious feeling. The fear of death, for example, is carried by most people in their subconscious.
    I can imagine this release from fear in itself would result in bliss, but the experience of ananda goes deeper than this. I felt connected to the planet, a part of it rather than just walking on top of it, in a way I do not feel in duality. I was still ‘me’, the ‘I-am’ ego persists, but the notion of being separate from the earth is removed. There is also a heightened sense of wonder at the beauty of the planet.
    The loss of egotism is also part of ananda. The ‘I-want’, or ‘I don’t want’ ego is lost. There is no concept of what other people may think about you. There is no attachment to any particular outcome of your actions, things are simply perfect the way they are.

    (iv) Monkey mind
    In advaita the monkey-mind is switched off, the constant mind chatter is absent. The mind becomes a tool, available when needed and at rest when not needed.
    It is possible to think deeply in advaita, in fact more clearly, it is easier to discern in this state as egotism does not cloud your thinking.
    There is no monkey-mind chattering about what you will do in an imaginary future, no craving or desire, no aversion; you are simply in the moment, experiencing life without a running commentary and the constant goading of monkey-mind.
    To use the horse and cart as a metaphor, in our normal dualistic mind set the monkey-mind is the horse, driving the cart. In advaita the monkey mind is the cart, it is a tool to be used when needed and it follows your free will.

    (v) Attachment
    In advaita there is no attachment to places, people, places, thoughts, in fact to anything! This mind-set is instant and automatic and comprehensive once you achieve advaita.
    When you come down from advaita, back into duality, a strong sense of this non-attachment continues, especially with respect to material objects.
    For many ‘seekers of a higher awareness’ in their ‘normal’ dualistic mind set ‘losing’ attachment is something that can be worked on and is essentially a three stage process. The first and easiest step is to lose attachment to ‘material things’, possessions. The next stage is to lose attachment to people, especially family and loved ones. The hardest and final stage is to lose attachment to the self, ‘your’ ideas (monkey-mind), egotism and the sense / fear of death.

    (vi) Ahimsa (non-violence)
    Non-violence in its truest form is to abstain from any harm to any living creature, physically, mentally or verbally. Respect all living things and remember that everything is alive.
    I was many years living in India; I squash mosquitos instinctively. At my peak experience of advaita I was actually ushering mosquitos out of my room with cupped hands, such was my perceived connection to the world I found myself living it. If a mosquito landed on me as I write this, in my dualistic mind set I would probably squash it.
    I have the memory of my experience of advaita and ahimsa and I could now re-condition myself not to harm any living creature (as many Buddhist monks do). I know that state will be automatic should I ever reach advaita - samadhi again.
    In its highest sense, true lack of violence is love. Love in a yogic sense is a form of prana, emanating from a properly functioning heart (manipura chakra). It is a real and tangible energy that is separate from head energies. It is not the love of romantic fiction, which is a mixture of love (not always), needs, desires and other mental constructs. The energy from the heart chakra is devoid of head energies.
    I can perceive love energy, just as I can feel heat from a fire, but I don’t experience it too often in day to day life; in my experience very few people can project heart energy. Amma (the hugging mother), who has her ashram in Kerala, India, has the ability to project heart energy and I have only met two other people (both women) who can do this (or from whom I could feel it). I would presume heart energy is part of a mother’s love for her offspring, along with mental construct, chemical interference (hormones) and the innate protective behavioural conditioning. There are stories of still born babies being revived when placed over their mother’s heart, sometimes hours after being proclaimed dead.
    Love energy has nothing do with sexual energy; separate centres are involved, though obviously these centres do not work in isolation. It is generally perceived and generalised that in women heart energy (love) leads to sexual energy and in men a combination of head energies and sexual energies is called love, though the heart chakra is not often involved. These are gross generalisations but interesting to consider.

    (vii) Satya (truth)
    Truth is an automatic state in advaita, what reason is there to lie? There is no egotism and therefore no need to hide yourself or your actions or your thoughts from anyone.
    There is not the slightest concern about what people think about you, there is no judging, but equally there are no defences, you answer truthfully, why wouldn’t you?
    Imagine for a moment a world in which no lies are told, the implications are immense.

    (viii) Asteya (non stealing)
    Non-stealing and non-coveting are automatic mind sets in advaita.  There is no egotism to want anything other than what you have and you don’t see material items as possessions.

    (ix) Brahmacharya
    It is common to associate brahmacharya with celibacy but it is clear that these instructions owe everything to social morality and nothing to the experience of advaita.
    In advaita you would not have inappropriate sex, you wouldn’t force yourself on anyone, but if the opportunity arose I see no reason why two consenting adults would not partake in sex.
    However, in advaita there is no concept of ownership either, so concepts of ‘my’ or ‘your’ wife do not apply either! Adultery is punishable by death in many societies on earth today, and taboo in many others. Advaita and modern society, with its man made morality are not necessarily compatible when it comes to sex between consenting adults.

    (x) Aparigraha (non-greed)
    In advaita the concept of ownership is quite alien, everything you need you already have. Greed is not possible in advaita; it is an automatic condition of the state.

    (xi) Shaucha (cleanliness, purity)
    I’m not a tidy person. In my normal dualistic mind set my office is like my mind, with little bits of several projects whirling around everywhere. In advaita I would clean and tidy any room I was in, it is an ‘energetic’ requirement; clutter in a room literally seems to drain my energy.

    (xii) Santosha (contentment satisfaction)
    In advaita this is another automatic state of mind. You already have all you need; there is no desire in this state.

    (xiii) Tapas (endurance of opposites)
    I am not sure how this applies to advaita.  You would not look to endure anything in advaita; you eat when you are hungry and sleep when tired. It is surprising how little food the body needs, and we mostly eat through conditioning, social needs or desire rather than hunger. In advaita you only eat when hungry but you wouldn’t look to go without food for the sake of it.
    Accepting (but not causing) pain would be an automatic response in advaita but you would not seek out such conditions.

    (ix) Svadhyaya (study of scripture)
    The state of advaita-samadhi is above and beyond books and scriptures. Even the vedas say that scriptures are a means to an end; they are a road map, and when you achieve the destination they are no longer required.
    The irony is, of course, a highly structured teaching like yoga is actually counter-productive to samadhi. You don’t need the teachings (everything you need you already have) and there are a lot of teachings! Discipline and routine are reinforced in yoga teachings, but these are not qualities of advaita.
    The yogis also recognise that ‘the mind is the great enemy and must be defeated in battle’ and that using the mind to defeat the mind is a difficult task.
    However there is merit in having a disciplined mind when you reach advaita and yoga practices and guidelines do provide good training in this regard. It is easy to be over exuberant when you reach the blissful state of advaita.
    I presume you would need further teachings / guidance to attain the siddhis that become a possibility once advaita and samadhi have been achieved, but this is outside of my experience.

    (x) Ishvara pranidhana or Atamivedana (surrender)
    In advaita-samadhi self-surrender is absolute; you surrender to the moment. In this state surrender to a deity I would imagine becomes irrelevant, you would look to nothing outside of yourself.
    You can achieve advaita through surrender to a god or a guru (bhakti yoga) but ‘god’ is just a ‘tool’, a means to achieving the end. Once the end is realised then god in the dualistic sense of the word disappears. You don’t need anything outside of yourself.
    I am not making any statement about god, or the universe or what happens after samadhi, and of course I can only relate my own experience. I follow no theistic religion and pray to no creator god(s), though my world view is broadly consistent with yoga/Buddhism.
    In advaita-samadhi I still did not worship a deity but I did feel that there was ‘something’ outside of me and greater than me, but I did not seek to label that ‘feeling’. I did feel connected to the earth to a depth I have never experienced outside of samadhi, and this may have had some bearing on my feelings.

    (xi) Hatha yoga
    In advaita I never considered undertaking a regular programme of asana or pranayama. I was moving constantly, not sitting around thinking, dwelling, over eating.
    I didn’t lose my knowledge and I imagine if I needed a particular body work, or stretch or repair I would do the appropriate asana. I would certainly have taught a class if asked.

    (xii) Dhyana (meditation)
    As Buddha said, “I point to the truth and you analyse my finger.” Meditation is a means to and end and not the end itself.
    If you are actively seeking a higher awareness then meditation can actually be a dangerous cul-de-sac. Metaphorically, imagine your mind as a book case full of books. The bookcase is the framework, the dualistic mind set. The books represent thoughts.  Through meditation practice you can reduce the books (thoughts) and even empty the bookcase. This is quite an achievement, which takes dedicated practice. However, the bookcase remains, after your practice you go to your home and your family, you might even be pleased with your meditation ability (egotism). When you reach advaita the bookcase disappears instantly, taking all the books with it. Advaita is not analogous to an empty bookcase, but to no bookcase, and it doesn’t take practice to achieve, it is available in an instant.
    In advaita you are alert to every moment and constantly interacting with your immediate environment; you are aware. In sitting meditation you are removing yourself from ‘the real world’ while you focus on breathing (or another technique) to achieve a state of ‘no-mind’.
    In advaita-samadhi you already have all you need, there is nothing outside of your current being that you desire or need. There is no search for a mentally constructed future where you have improved yourself through any practice.

    (xiii) Mental capacity
    In advaita-samadhi my mental capacity was increased greatly, it would have been possible to have several conversations to a group of people about different subjects, at the same time and remain coherent to all. My mind worked very fast, often too fast to effectively communicate via the slow process of speech.
    My mind was capable of constructing huge theoretical models, which I am convinced were sound. As an analogy, imagine constructing the Eiffel tower piece by piece in your mind, out of ‘aether’ as it were. The structure would be sound and coherent, all the pieces would fit together and then could be translated to a real construction.
    This isn’t as far fetched as it might appear; there are parallels with historical figures. Nikola Tesla is reported to have had a mind that worked like this all the time! He constructed all his instruments in his mind, saw how they would work and then constructed them out of real physical components.

    (xiv) Choice versus free will
    In advaita you are living in the present moment, your mind does not look to a mentally constructed future, you have no desire to be somewhere else or be something else. So, if the future doesn’t exist in your mind, how can you make a choice, make a decision? Well, you can’t! You always have free will, but no choice. This is a concept that many people struggle with for a number of reasons.
    Choice implies a mentally constructed future where you have a desire (or avoidance) of a certain outcome. In advaita the monkey-mind is not active, you are always in the present moment, free to do what you want, but with no choice. The future doesn’t exist.
    This concept is well described in Zen Buddhist writings, which say “you can’t make a decision without first making a decision to make a decision, and therefore without making a decision to make a decision to make a decision” etc. The notion of choice requires a dualistic mind set.

    Summary
    I can summarise advaita-samadhi by saying: ‘everything you need you already have’. If you look outside of yourself for anything then you are outside of advaita-samadhi. In this state you are perfectly ‘in the moment’, and continually so.
    There is no egotism whatsoever, no desire to be anywhere other than where you are and no desire to be anybody but who you are you. There is no projection into a mentally created future or remembered past. There are no teachings or practices you must learn. Everything you need you have in the ‘now’, you just need to switch off the monkey mind and realise it. This state of mind has popularised by Ekhart Tolle’s writing, e.g. ‘The power of now’.
    This isn’t quieting the monkey, as can be achieved in meditation, this is switching monkey off completely. It’s a paradigm shift.
    The truth is you are permanently in a state of samadhi, except your mental constructs keep your mind too busy to realise it.  Achieving advaita-samadhi is not a process; it is the passing through an ‘invisible gate’ in an instant into the present moment, the so called ‘passing through the veil’.
    In this state every step in any direction is equally wonderful and equally valid, so where would you go? There is no concept of ‘my’ home or ‘my things’.  In actuality you find yourself following your free will, perhaps interacting with a person you have met or perhaps following a beautiful butterfly. You sleep when tired and eat when hungry. You do not lose your mind, or your mental faculties, you know how society works, even if their concepts now seem alien to you. You maintain respect for all things in this state but you lose your society-imposed morality. You can only be true to yourself and your environment, you have nothing to hide and would not consider harming yourself or another or the environment around you.
    I was describing this state to a friend and she said it sounded like her mother who had senile dementia, and was always wandering off and getting lost. In advaita you are not lost because you are exactly where you should be all the time, there is no notion of some better place to be, choice like that requites a dualistic mind set. You do retain all of your mental faculties, you just lose a sense of attachment to anything.
    In this state you leave everything behind as you pass. You do not think of the past or the future; you are simply (and wonderfully) in the present moment. In non duality you have complete free will and you would simply do what you want, with all the shackles removed. I would stress again that you do not lose respect for everything around you.

    So how do you achieve advaita-samadhi?  Do you even want to reach this state of awareness? Chogyam Trungpa’s advice to those interested in following this mystical path is “don’t even start!” (“Once you are on this path you can’t step off so easily.”)
    I can only conceive of complete surrender and loss of all attachment as a means of entering this state of awareness. The first time I entered the state I wasn’t actively searching for it, I was simply walking away from a failed marriage with no possessions other than the clothes I was wearing.  Ekhart Tolle describes a suicidal state that brought his realisation, but mine was more a sense of overwhelming freedom from a number of stressful situations. There was more involved than can be described here, and I will include more details in a planned second manuscript.

    The second time I entered advaita-samadhi was eight years later, and I was actively looking to return to the state. It was a scary experience until I actually managed to achieve it, and then all fear and worry simply disappeared, as I knew they would. On the second occasion I tried to re-enact my first experience, I simply ‘walked into the world’ leaving all ‘my’ possessions behind me. It was a huge leap of faith, it is quite scary to contemplate, but you are aware that if you can achieve this state you will be fine.

    Samadhi is not the end of the journey, but merely the start of the ‘next level’. The experiences I had in this state of awareness are beyond the scope of this book, but I hope to write about them elsewhere. From this state, with guidance, it also possible to work towards the states of supra-consciousness called siddhis, but this path is outside of my own experience.
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    Vidya Moksha

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    Re: Basic Hatha Yoga and pranayama course notes anyone?

    Post  Vidya Moksha on Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:23 pm

    more jolly bedtime reading,

    The purpose and basic doctrine of yoga

    Brahman is literally everything. It is unchangeable and eternal. Atman is one's inner being, akin to the ‘soul’.  Atman is identical with brahman, but its true nature is obscured by the physical and subtle bodies that surround it (as the air inside a balloon is the same as the air outside it, separated by a membrane).  These bodies create physical, mental, chemical and other barriers to moksha (liberation). The atman empowers these bodies to perceive external objects in order to create the phenomenal world, but this is, in fact, illusionary and non-existent (maya).

    Awareness of the self (vidya), derived from personal insight and self-attainment leads towards this brahman-atman realisation.  
    Yoga includes several paths towards (and beyond) the process of self-realisation and provides a framework to the universe which is consistent in all states of awareness.

    However, the mind is incapable of comprehending the higher awarenesses, the self-realisations are beyond logic, being experiential and not logical or explainable from the position of duality (dvaita). They are also beyond learning (it is more a question of ‘unlearning’), being innate in all of us, available instantly when we simply (!) switch off our mental and emotional biases and conditioning and realise advaita.

    Yoga practices are designed to lead through the process of self awareness and provide the discipline needed when advaita is achieved. The often overlooked preliminary steps of ashtanga yoga (yama and niyama) are seen in a different light from the position of advaita.

    Once advaita and lower forms of samadhi have been realised, samyoga practices lead further towards the brahman-atman realisation.  The three bodies surrounding the atman must be purified one at a time and, finally, the transcendence of the causal body brings discriminative knowledge (viveka-khyati). There are seven levels of discriminate knowledge, the final one being ‘the knowledge of one reality’ (kaivalya jnana) which results in the final state of super-consciousness (nirvikalpa samadhi). At this stage of self awareness the liberated person can step out of samsara forever or chose to remain on earth, fully liberated, and continue to work towards becoming a perfect being (siddha) and attaining a divine body (divya deha).
    As embodied souls (jivatman) we continue to die and be reborn on the wheel of conditioned existence (samsara) until we realise our true nature and attain liberation (moksha). These cycles of birth and death (avagamana) are controlled by various karmas. When the subtle and causal bodies that surround the atman are reborn (they survive the death process) they retain their karma but have no memories of their previous lifetimes and existences. The bound soul receives more false dualistic concepts which create further delusions, desires, avoidances etc., and create further karma.
    These concepts are expounded below.

    Yoga and the universe

    Brahman
    Brahman is the eternal everything, it is indescribable and unknowable. To describe ‘the unknowable,’ brahman is broken down into down into three lower states of consciousness which are knowable: ishvara, hiranyagarbha and virat.

    Ishvara
    Ishvara is the highest of the three lower states of consciousness. Often translated as ‘god’ it is the ‘Great Cause of the Universe’. This state creates and destroys everything with its own illusionary power (maya). Maya is the phenomenal world, illusionary and in reality non–existent, appearing real only because the mind perceives external objects.

    Hiranyagarbha
    Hiranyagarbha, the ‘Luminous Totality of Creation’, binds the universe and all of creation together – akin to some universal non-physical glue.

    Virat
    Virat is the lowest state of universal consciousness and is referred to as the ‘Universal or Cosmic Form’. This is the universe at the gross level, which we perceive as real, visible and coherent.

    Yoga and time

    Yoga recognises three systems for measuring time: yugas, periods of manu and saptarshi.

    Yuga
    A yuga (age) measures time in aeons. There are four yugas of unequal length.
    The first is satya yuga, the ‘Golden Age’, which lasts for 1,728,000 years. It is followed by treta yuga, the ‘Silver Age’ of 1,296,000 years. Next is dvapara yuga the ‘Copper Age’, of 864,000 years and finally kali yuga the ‘Iron Age’ has a duration of 432,000 years.
    These four yugas together make up one mahayuga, which lasts for 4,320,000 years. There are 1,000 mahayugas in one day or one night of brahman. According to the yoga scripts all life is destroyed during a night of brahman, to be recreated during the next day of brahman. There is no agreement on which yuga we are presently in, the most popular theory (but not necessarily correct) is that we entered kali yuga 3000 years ago.

    Periods of manu
    Manu was the first man, and apparently he blinked his eye in 0.088 seconds, which is the value of one nimesha. One shvasa (breath) is about four seconds.
    One day comprises of 30 muhurtas each of 48 minutes duration. Six masas (months) make up one ayana (solstice) and two ayanas make one varsha (year).
    A day (or night) of brahman is one kalpa (4,320,000,000 years).
    There are several other periods of manu not listed here.

    Saptarshi
    The saptarshi is a time keeping system which measures the movement of the Great Bear constellation, which rotates once every 24 hour hours.
    Yoga and the human states of consciousness

    The waking state
    The waking state (vishva) is the normal state of human consciousness, which perceives the ‘real world’ via the five senses and other subtle perceptions.
    The dream state
    In the dream state (taijasa) the senses are ‘switched off’ and ‘dreams’ occur within the body, based on previous experiences and mental constructs.
    The dreamless-sleep state
    In the dreamless-sleep state (prajna) consciousness withdraws into itself and neither the senses nor the subconscious mind operate. There is no concept of ego in this state.  

    Yoga and the human experience
    Atman
    A human being is an eternal soul (atman) encased by three bodies: the ‘causal’, ‘subtle’ and ‘gross’ bodies. Ultimately atman is one with brahman but before this is realised atman is identified with a body and mind and, for emphasis, it is called the jiva or jivatman.  
    In order to transcend their limitations these bodies must be purified and most yoga practices (especially pranayama) are directed towards this purpose.

    Devas only have subtle bodies and do not need to be liberated.
    The atman is often called the microcosm, and brahman the macrocosm.

    The Causal Body
    The sheath that surrounds the atman is called the causal body (karana sharira). It is chitta in a constant state of bliss due to its close proximity to brahman – atman and it is also known as ‘The Sheath of Bliss’ (anandamaya kosha). The causal body is eternal, surviving the death process that the gross body continues to experience while subject to reincarnation (avagamana).

    The Gross Body
    The gross body (sthula sharira) is the outer, physical body of flesh, bones, nerves and bodily fluid, also called ‘The Sheath of Food’ (annamaya kosha).   It is subject to death and is not reborn. It decays or disintegrates according to the environment after the death process.

    The Subtle Body
    The subtle body (sukshma sharira) is a luminous body that operates in the dream state of consciousness. It is composed of three sheaths: the mental body (manamaya kosha), the psychic and higher mental body (intellect) (vijnanamaya kosha) and the vital energy body (pranamaya kosha). These three sheaths give rise to knowledge, intellect, the mind, the senses, the subtle elements (tanmatras) and the five pranic airs. The intermingling of these subtle elements, thoughts, intelligence, emotions and sensations create the ego that keeps us locked into samsara.    

    The Pranic Body
    Prana is the energy that powers everything in the universe. Cosmic prana (mahaprana) is the vital energy of the universe. How mahaprana manifests depends on the entity that is receiving it, prana will match the vibratory rate of the recipient.
    The prana of the human entity is divided into two main types: vital energy (prana shakti) and mental energy (manas shakti). The pranic body (pranamaya kosha) comprises prana particles and the network of fine tubes (nadi) that carry them. The pranic body permeates all five sheaths surrounding the atman and both prana and nadi must become increasingly fine and more subtle as they approach the atman.  

    The pranic body comprises five different pranas: Vyana covers the whole body and acts as a control and energy reserve for the other four pranas and muscular movements. Udana, located in the arms, legs and head, is responsible for all nervous and sensory systems. Prana, in the chest cavity above the diaphragm, controls the lungs, heart, breathing, swallowing and blood circulation. Samana, located between the naval and the diaphragm, controls digestion and the digestive juices and balances prana and apana. Apana is located in the pelvic region and controls the bladder, kidneys, intestine, excretion, the reproductive organs and childbirth.

    In ayurveda there are three regulating systems (doshas) in the body that control seven essential ingredients (dhatus: blood, bone, muscle, fat, marrow, semen and digestive juices).

    The wind dosha (vata) controls motor-neurone activity, the five senses, digestion, food–nutrient circulation and excretion. The sun dosha (pitta) controls food digestion. The moon dosha (kapha) lubricates the body, producing and controlling saliva, mucous, spinal fluids and other bodily fluids.

    Nadi
    There are 72,000 nadis, of which 14 are considered principle.
    The main nadi (sushumna) runs the entire length of the spinal cord between ajna and sahasrara chakras.  
    Ida nadi runs from the left side of mooladhara chakra in a spiral path through each chakra and terminates on the left side of ajna. Pingala nadi runs from the right side of mooladhara in a spiral path mirroring ida and terminates on the right side of ajna. These two nadi represent the opposite flows of energy in the body. The feminine, passive, introverted ida nadi is also called the moon (chandra) nadi. It governs mental energy and sleep and is cooling and constructive. The masculine, active, extroverted pingala nadi is also called the sun (surya) nadi. Pingala governs the body’s energy and digestive systems and is warming and destructive.

    Energy flow in these major nadi corresponds to the air flow in the nostrils. When the left nostril is used ida is active and when the right nostril is being used then pingala is active. When there is the same air flow through each nostril then sushumna is active.

    Most people breathe through one nostril at a time, usually switching every 90 minutes or so. You can alter the flow of air in your nostrils, and therefore in the nadi, by raising one nostril above the other, with the uppermost becoming open. If you lie on your right side, with left nostril uppermost, then the body is cooled and mental energy is available. If you lie on your left side with your right nostril uppermost, then body is warmed and energy is available to aid digestion.

    Breathing through both nostrils produces a calm mind and there is the possibility for sushumna to be opened.
    Pranayama techniques work with the three main nadi by altering the air flow through the nostrils.
    Where two nadi cross there is an increase in energy and locations where many nadi cross are termed chakras (wheels). There are hundreds of chakras in the body and usually seven are considered major. Those that can see chakras describe them as spinning vortices of energy, varying in shape and colour according to their current ‘health’. These spinning vortices are traditionally depicted as lotuses in yoga.

    Chakras
    Mooladhara
    Mooladhara is the root chakra, located in the perineum. It is the centre for primitive instincts and emotions and is partly responsible for energy levels in the body. Modern teachings emphasise rooting to the earth, or grounding through this chakra.
    This chakra houses Brahma granthi (the knot of Brahma) the first of three ‘psychic gates’ in the body. When Brahma granthi is open, kundalini shakti, which lies dormant in mooladhara, can rise.
    Traditionally mooladhara is depicted as a deep crimson, four-petaled lotus. Inside the lotus is a yellow square, reference to the Earth element and inside this is an elephant carrying a downwardly pointing red triangle, a symbol of shakti. Inside the triangle is a Shiva lingam, with the kundalini serpent coiled around it.
    It is an important centre for yoga practices, as the three main nadi (sushumna, ida and pinga) have a terminal here (the other terminal is ajna chakra)

    Swadhisthana
    Swadhisthana chakra, located at the base of the spine, is the basis of human existence, controlling mooladhara chakra, basic animal behaviour and the reproductive and urinary systems.
    Traditionally it is represented as an orange/red, six-petaled lotus. Inside the lotus is a crescent moon, representing the water element.

    Manipura
    Manipura chakra is the body’s energy centre, located on the spinal column behind the navel. Prana is taken in and redistributed by this centre, which also controls willpower.
    Traditionally this chakra is represented as a bright yellow, ten-petaled lotus. Inside the lotus a red triangle symbolizes the fire element.

    Anahata
    Anahata chakra is located on the spinal column in the region of the heart.  
    Traditionally it is symbolised by a green, twelve-petaled lotus.
    This chakra is the location of the second psychic knot, Vishnu granthi – the knot of Vishnu.  It is said that if the kundalini shakti can reach anahata then it will not descend to the lower chakras.
    Heart energy is unconditional love in truest sense, an energy emanating from the chakra that is without mental or other attachments. Heart energy is tangible, though few seem to have the ability to project it, it can be felt by anyone.
    The minor chakras in the palm of each hand are linked directly to anahata.

    Vishuddhi
    Vishuddhi chakra is the purification centre based in the spine at throat level. This is a communication centre, but also the energy of unattached openness, allowing things to be what they are, without mental construct obscuring.
    Traditionally it is depicted as a blue or purple-blue, sixteen-petaled lotus.
    It is an important centre for sound vibrations and mantras.

    Ajna
    Ajna chakra is the ‘third-eye chakra’, located in the medulla oblongata and associated with the pineal gland.
    Traditionally this chakra is depicted as a purple, two-petaled, lotus. Inside the lotus is depicted an ‘om’ symbol and a Shiva lingam.
    This centre is a doorway to the astral and spirit dimensions and when awakened ajna chakra can acquire knowledge without the aid of the senses.
    The third psychic knot, Rudra granthi – the knot of Shiva is located in ajna.
    This chakra houses one terminal of the three main nadi (sushumna, pingala and ida), the other terminal being in mooladhara chakra.
    Sahasrara

    Sahasrara is the crown chakra, located at the top of the head. Traditional yoga teaches that this is not a chakra, but a connection with ‘totality’; a concept that is beyond thought and reason.
    This chakra is depicted as a white, thousand-petaled lotus, with the petals turned downwards, covering the top of the head,
    Head energies and processes

    The atman empowers the sheaths around it to create maya, the illusionary phenomenal world that we perceive as real.
    Our true identity is pure consciousness (purusha) but we attach our true selves to our mind (antakarana) and body, creating ego in the sense of ‘I-am’ (ahem), ‘I-exist’. This process of attachment is called ahankara.

    Memory is a function of chitta, which itself is a mixture of consciousness and emotional energy. Chitta also creates ignorance (avidya).
    Buddhi is the part of the mind responsible for discrimination, ‘intellect’.
    Manas is the mind acting as an intermediary between the senses and the intellect.
    Egotism (asmita) drives our desires and avoidances, the ‘I-want’ ego (or ‘I don’t want’, ‘I-need’).
    Whilst these processes are listed separately they can, and do, all work together. Most people have a ‘running commentary’ in their heads as they plan ways of achieving their wants/likes/desires/avoidances. I term this active mind ‘monkey mind’ and it is a blend of many elements, but driven by egotism (asmita).

    There are two major chakras in the head. Sahasrara connects the body with all of ‘totality’. Ajna chakra is called the third eye, and it is an eye shaped gland. The third eye is the doorway to the spiritual realm, inhabited by beings without a gross body (spirits). It is also the gateway to the astral realms, which we visit in our dream states (though we can train ourselves to visit the astral while conscious). Our dreams are associated with ajna.

    Karma
    Karma is manifest in the causal body as the subtle leshya, which accumulates in the subconscious as impressions. Leshya is characterised by the three gunas: sattvic, rajasic and tamaric and the continual influx of these substances change the colour, smell, shape and size of the auric bodies. Karmas effect how the doshas function

    Every action will yield the corresponding good or bad, unless that action is desire-less or ‘non-karmic’. Non-karmic actions are completely devoid of all ego, personal interest, desire and attachments, All actions carried out in a dualistic mind set on this phenomenal earth are subject to karma. A karmic debt is built up as subtle influences in the subtle body, and is retained through the death and rebirth of the gross body. Karmas are classified according to when they ripen; some will only ripen in future lifetimes and some in the current lifetime may have been collected in previous ones.
    The karmic debt determines into which body the soul will reincarnate.

    The death process
    At the onset of the death process the flow of prana in the body is disrupted. The body’s earthly elements lose cohesion, bodily fluids dissipate, the fire goes out and the body cools and with the last breath the air elements leave the body and the death process is complete.
    The causal and subtle bodies remain and gain a new gross body at their re-birth

    The cycle of death and rebirth (samsara)
    Reincarnation is called avagamana ('coming and going'). We are embodied souls (jivatma) on the revolving wheel of mundane existence (samsara). Karmas control these cycles of birth and death into the various realms.
    When the subtle and causal bodies are reborn they retain their karmic debt but have no memories of their previous lifetimes and existences. The bound soul receives more false dualistic concepts which create further delusions, desires, avoidances etc., and create further karma.

    Paths through yoga
    Yoga is a vast subject which offers several paths towards self-realisation. Identity with self and a dualistic mind set are the main obstacles to advaita and samadhi and both can be overcome by the loss of egotism. It doesn’t matter how you achieve advaita as long as the mental delusions cease.

    Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion, is the complete surrender (of the self) to a deity (or guru).
    It is the belief that everything happens according to god’s will and the same source will provide all.
    Once again the purpose is to lose egotism.
    Bhakti yoga is still a tool, which will become redundant once advaita – samadhi is realised. It is not a path for everyone, but it is generally considered to be one of the easiest ways to self-realisation.

    Karma yoga advocates cultivating a selfless attitude performing right action (ultimately, free from karma). It is good training towards having no egotism. It is possible to surrender to the moment, looking for nothing outside of yourself or the present moment.

    Jnana yoga is the path of knowledge, an intellectual attempt to achieve self-realisation. It is not a path for all, and is considered to be the hardest approach to self realisation.

    The yogis say that the mind is the great enemy and must be defeated in battle. Using the mind to achieve that which is not knowable or understandable by the mind is a difficult task.

    Kundalini yoga utilises a variety of pranayama and energy techniques to raise kundalini energy from mooladhara chakra to sahasrara chakra, which results in samadhi. It is not a path for all and can be dangerous in not undertaken correctly, or under expert guidance.

    Raja yoga is another term for ashtanga yoga. This path follows the teachings of Patanjali, as introduced in this manuscript.

    Sri vidya is a rare form of yoga, practiced by few who thoroughly understand the microcosm and macrocosm.
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    Vidya Moksha

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    Re: Basic Hatha Yoga and pranayama course notes anyone?

    Post  Vidya Moksha on Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:53 am

    Yoga and other esoteric philosophies

    Yoga is one of six esoteric forms of Hinduism. The term esoteric may have originated with Socrates, who used the Greek word esoterikos (‘belonging to an inner circle’) to describe Pythagorean doctrines. The secret society that Pythagoras created to study mathematics (the Pythagorean Brotherhood) is the likely origin of modern esoteric studies and groups (and probably Freemasonry).

    In a modern context an esoteric philosophy is the opposite of an ‘exoteric’ religion. The exoteric religions, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islamism, Theravada Buddhism, etc. usually have a ‘creator god’, who has chosen ‘special’ people (the priesthood or clergy) to enforce ‘his’ rules (they are all male gods). Salvation of the soul is only possible through the church, the middle-men to god. Failure to comply with the middle-men and their rules is usually punishable, often quite severely, and accompanied by a promise of a terrible after-life.  Exoteric religions are concerned with power, money, public coercion and control rather than the salvation of the soul.

    Esoteric philosophies (theosophies) teach that there is no middle-man to god (or god as a metaphor for achieving higher awareness) and that self-realisation can only be attained through personal attainment and merit. The basic doctrine shared by the Yogis of Hinduism, the Qabbalists of Christianity and Judaism, the Sufis of Islam, the Mahayana Buddhists etc. is the same: ‘as above so below’, i.e. it is possible to know the ‘absolute or ultimate’ by looking inside yourself.  In yoga this is represented by the atman-brahman relationship or the notion that the macrocosm is represented in the microcosm.  Christian mystics claim that the kingdom of heaven is actually within every human being. Although their basic doctrine is essentially simple, all of these systems agree that the ‘absolute’ is unknowable, so how to proceed?

    This inward journey to realise the ultimate is sometimes described as starting with nothing and ending with nothing (though nothing with experience). Because ‘nothing’ or the ‘unknowable everything’ can not be measured or described it is broken down into sections that can be knowable. Essentially something is created from nothing; mathematically this can be expressed as 0=2.

    More palatable is the equation 0 = (+1) + (-1) [still 0=2] which instantly introduces the notion of dualism, with two equal and opposite forces that cancel each other out. Although we have artificially created something from nothing, we now have elements we can analyse. Traditional terminology calls (+1) male and (-1) female, (or yang and yin, positive and negative, sun and moon, Shiva and Parvati, purusha and prakriti etc.)  

    To digress slightly, this notion of two equal and opposite forces is a gross oversimplification on many levels. If the two main driving forces of nature were equal and opposite, they would stagnate. Therefore, the Chinese describe yin as 2/5ths and yang as 3/5ths, and although they are not equal in size (the ratio is 1: 1.5) they are in perfect balance.  To help visualise this, imagine a see-saw with a 1kg weight 1m from the fulcrum opposite a 1.dynamic equilibrium. [To further digress, the actual ratio is likely to be 1: 1.618, as this is 1:phi, the golden mean or divine proportion popularised by Fibonacci and everywhere in nature.]
    Male and female energies in this context do not refer to gender; they are nothing to do with men and women. Rather, they represent the basic energies of the universe; we are all composed of a blend of male and female energies.
    With regard to gender it also understood that all modern religions are male dominated and this same bias runs throughout the esoteric works. It should be realised that these philosophical systems are just tools, equally valid to men and women, whatever terminology is used. God used to be a woman, who miraculously bled each month but did not die, and who gave life. When men realised they had a role in procreation the backlash was severe and the ‘sun god’, the ‘great fertilizing symbol’, the ‘ultimate male energy’ became dominant, replacing the goddess. Perhaps the next shift in human awareness will see the reintroduction of the goddess in correct harmonious balance with the god.  

    It goes without saying that concepts like ‘male’ and ‘female’ are gross oversimplifications in a theosophical sense, but they can be useful for condensing a lot of information under a general heading; the tip of an information iceberg.

    Images are the traditional (and powerful) method of summarising large amounts of information; available to all levels of understanding (at the level they can understand) in all languages. For example, this traditional image shows Shiva, representing the male principal. The trident is both weapon and holy symbol, but can also be used to goad the cow, a ‘dumb’ animal that only responds to force. Parvati is the female principal, holding nature in her hand in the form of a flower. She controls the lion through her fearlessness and one-ness with nature; this is not a dumb animal that will respond to force. The male and female energies are in correct balance in the one figure made up of both components.



    This ‘strength in nature’ concept also occurs in the tarot. Although mostly known and used as a divinatory tool, the tarot cards are a pictorial representation of the esoteric philosophies, with their true nature perhaps hidden to avoid persecution from the church.

    The tarot is associated mostly with the qabbalah as it correlates well with ‘the tree of life’ - the qabbalistic attempt to map every force and factor in the universe into diagrammatic form.

    The qabbalah is sometimes referred to as ‘the yoga (dharma) of the West’ and there are many correspondences between the two systems. Both provide detailed and comprehensive analysis of esoteric concepts in the search for higher awareness.

    Yoga goes beyond the male and female archetypes with the three gunas (of which everything is comprised) and the twenty-five tattva categories (which include purusha and prakriti). Although essentially monotheistic, the qabalah-tarot introduces the four elements (earth, air, fire and water), the zodiac, the planets, the Hebrew alphabet etc. Terminologies (labels) differ between the two systems, but the concepts are the same, the same ‘universal energies’ are involved. The yoga concepts of chakras have their equivalent on the tree of life, and a serpent is often depicted climbing from the base of the tree of life to its crown, crossing the abyss (achieving advaita) to reach the crown (kether), mirroring the kundalini energy in the base chakra that must travel to sahasrara, through three psychic gates until advaita is realised and samadhi is achieved.

    It is not just yoga and the qabalah that share these concepts. The orthodox (exoteric) Theravada (Hinayana) Buddhists teach that four noble truths and an eight fold path (essentially meditation and introspection) lead to nirvana (moksha – liberation from samsara).

    The Mahayana Buddhists (with their rich images and symbology) introduced the six parmita practices and the concept of postponing nirvana (in a state of bodhisattva) to help liberate everyone else. Mahayana Buddhism moved away from the notion that liberation resulted from much meditative effort and gave more emphasis to achieving Tatatha - emptiness and non-duality (advaita).

    Vajrayana Buddhism adds to Mahayana concepts and introduces Bodhi nature, which is essentially the yoga concept of advaita. Furthermore, it was emphasised that Bodhi nature is our true nature, available immediately once the obscuring mental clutter is removed. A further concept is introduced: mahasukha (‘great bliss’; ananda, samadhi) is achieved when Bodhi nature is coupled with compassion (upaya).

    The concept that Bodhi nature is inherent in all people and available instantly reaches its fullest expression in Zen Buddhism, where practices are described to achieve satori, the sudden point of self realisation.

    The study of these systems (and others, e.g. shamanism) is recommended in order to realise that they are all the same teachings, using different languages and symbols. An additional benefit to this study is that difficult concepts in some systems are more easily understood or better explained in others.
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    Vidya Moksha

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    Re: Basic Hatha Yoga and pranayama course notes anyone?

    Post  Vidya Moksha on Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:40 am

    thats all for now folks! hope you took something from the above!  

    i am going to reformat my book and use 'generic' royalty free images, so i am not going to post images with my friends in here, i might post my final efforts, but this is on a back burner for me, im just procrastinating in here rather than typing up my next manuscript.

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