this webinar we will be talking about Yogic
classical meditation. This is the system of 8 limbs Yoga of Patanjali
Maharishi, where meditation is limb number 7, and Samadhi- the state of
superconscious is limb number 8. Classical Yoga (Raja Yoga) includes ethical
behavior , (1) the behavior to avoid (Yamas) and (2) the behaviors to adopt
(niyamas) (3) the yoga postures (asanas), (4) breathing exercises to control
prana (pranayama) (5) and the turning inwards (pratyahara) as the outer steps
of Yoga practice. The inner steps are (6)
concentration (dharana) and (7) finally meditation (dhyana).
It is not the purpose of this seminar to talk in
details about each of those steps or limbs but to focus on the understand what
is meditation is and what meditation is not in order to (1) remove false
preconceptions of meditation bringing confusion, fears and short term attempts and
(2) to clarify what is the yogic meditation practice. It is a known fact that
people associate yoga with physical exercises and not as meditation practice to
calm the mind, release stress and achieve peace . In fact Yogic exercises are
part of the meditation practice.
In this time of uncertainty and stress due to
collective effort to try to suppress the spread of the virus, governments and
nations put their whole country, states, cities , under lock down modes .
Normal activities are interrupted and people stay home with more time in their
hands and consumed by worries and anxieties.
In this time, meditation practice or the turning inwards of the mind to
find recharge and new perspective about one’s life and one’s self become imperative.
In this context, learning correctly meditation is necessary and removing of
prejudices and preconceived ideas about meditation is helpful.
The purpose of meditation is to find inner peace.
Inner peace will lead to strength of mind and
character and bring about increase capacity to remain calm under challenges .
From the capacity to remain calm , the individual will
not loose him or herself in fears and panic and thus leading to wrong reactions
which bring the individuals down further more and perpetuate one’s already
habitual negative vision.
To know more about the mechanism of fear and anxiety
and how they make you loose your capacity
to be your happy and creative self , see my past talks on
Inner peace can
not happen if the mind is constantly turning
outwards and keep
ruminating about the past regrets or the projected fears about the future.
Inner peace can not happen if one is worrying about our material survival only.
Inner peace can not happen if one is lack of self confidence and is dependent of everything external to be happy and to find meaning.
Inner peace can not happen if we do not have good relationships with self and with others, if our heart is closed and we are blaming others, judging others, if we are full of negative emotions such as anger, grief, guilt, hatred, greed, jealousy, lack of contentment.
Inner peace can not happen if we are swayed by our insatiable desires, and in the situation like this one, when our desires and expectations can not be fulfilled, our inner peace is replaced with frustrations, resentments.
Inner peace will not happen if one is distracted and restless, lack of concentration, when the habitual goal and motivation are being questioned ( for example when one finds oneself jobless ) and one’s schedule and habits are being changed.
Inner peace can not happen if one is sick and lack of vitality.
Inner peace can not happen if one is desperate, have no faith and connection with the supreme intelligence.
mind, give instructions to be here and now. What is the mind? A lake, a drunken
monkey, a wild horse, a shy lady, music record, a fast fan , a needle with
petals, relationship mind and body, relationship mind and breath, relationship
mind and senses. One thought at a time. Mind works with names and forms, works
Breath – deep
Breath rhythmical and calmer and calmer till breathe
Point of focus- 2
places of focus to choose from
object of focus-
mantras. Learning about mantras
detachment attitude. Not fighting with the mind.
Return to focus, to the breath, let go
silence and peace. Meditation is like an elixir or tonic renewing oneself.
object of meditation and act of meditation become one.
meditation is not
Meditation is not imagination, meditation is not
relaxation, meditation is not dreaming, meditation is not seeking for
experiences. Meditation is not a quick fix. Meditation is not wandering in the
psychic world. Meditation is not seeking for extra sensorial experiences.
Meditation is not just sitting closed eyes without
caring for one’s responsibilities. Meditation is not escaping from reality.
Meditation is not achieving a goal. Meditation is not selfish endeavor.
Meditation is not just technical and dry. Meditation is not religious even
though one might have spiritual experiences. Meditation is not seeking for
spiritual experiences. It is important that the meditator follows guidance from
a teacher and practice step by step all the spiritual instructions.
meditation is practicing the 5 points Yoga life.
Meditation is not just sitting half hour a day closed
eyes and expect something extraordinary to happen. It is part of a meditation lifestyle, called
Yogic lifestyle or integral Yoga life. The 5 points of Yoga Life as per swami
Vishnudevananda are: Yoga asanas, breathing,
relaxation, vegetarianism, positive thinking and meditation are part of this
Asanas practice help to still the mind, remove
blockages, allowing prana to flow.
Pranayama practice purifies the nadis and balances the
mind, and helps to bring the mind to higher dimension. Conscious relaxation either
done separately or along with the asanas practice basically helps awareness and
teaches us detachment, ultimately detachment towards our body and mind itself.
Proper diet in particular the practice
of vegetarianism gives us life force as we consume food that is high in prana
and is alive , also helps us to alleviate our mind through the practice of non
violence and respect of animals. Positive thinking practice allows our mind to
keep going with meditation and keep seeking higher truths. The ultimate
positive thinking is in fact the assertion of our true nature. I am not the
body, I am not the mind, I am not this separated identity … I am existence
absolute, knowledge absolute, bliss absolute. I am pure consciousness. There is
always a positive perspective in all happenings. Positive thinking practice
allows the meditator to turn things around and to detach from the thoughts and
the emotions. Meditation life is practice little by little but everyday all of
these 5 points so that the mind becomes pure, transparent, strong and stable
ready for self enquiry and ultimately realization. Perfecting oneself in these
5 points Yoga life in fact is meditation practice in itself. You become aware,
centered and clear . In fact, meditation life is not separated from the
dedicated sitting meditation practice. There are infinite ways how you can improve in
the 5 points. That is why it is difficult to give up meditation once you
understand the intricate relationship between the different practices, all
under the banner of “meditation”. In reality,
the quality of the sitting meditation will influence
your waking life and the quality of your waking life will influence the quality
of your silent meditation.
is practicing the classical 4 paths of Yoga.
Meditation life includes all the 4 paths of yoga. It
means perfecting oneself in these practices or qualities:
1. Karma Yoga – a selfless attitude towards
life and towards meditation, the offering of one’s actions so we renounce being
in control and avoid to tie ourselves further into the chain of karma.
2. Bhakti Yoga – a humble attitude towards life
and towards relationships, seeing them as opportunities to learn to curve our
ego self and join each other in love. Also practicing Bhakti Yoga means purifying
the lower emotions, sublimating the lower desires and returning to pure love
and respect for all. This devotion and
faith to the Supreme will make you calm in all situations and help one to self
surrender one’s limited view to embrace the unknown. The meditator leans to be
very flexible and soft in his meditation practice.
3. Raja Yoga: – an awareness of the mind and a constant practice of one pointed
concentration which eventually will remove the separateness and duality to
become one with all. In daily life, if the meditator is aware of the mind and
constantly endeavors to keep the mind focused on positive goals, the meditator
builds up strength and forbearance necessary for advanced stages of meditation.
Awareness of the mind ‘s behavior and constant coaching it back to the center,
can be a tedious and at the same time rewarding practice. The ethical
foundations of Raja Yoga , the yamas and niyamas, prescribe numerous virtues to
do and vices not to do that can keep the meditator busy for a long time. As
Hatha Yoga is considered to be part of Raja Yoga, one can start to control the
body, the breath and the senses to improve concentration and reach meditation.
These practices in themselves are rich and interesting, so the meditator can
actually be creative with his /her life daily routine without the feeling
of wanting to give up due to boredom or false conception that one knows it all
Yoga: – a sense of knowing of what is real and true and what is changing
and illusory. A general attitude of detachment and wise attitude coupled with
the self confidence and self affirmation of who am I truly from inside. A
vision of oneness and unity in diversity.
meditation in daily life
Cessation of practice
Health and diet
Laziness and sleep
Complications of daily life –undesirable company
Lack of preceptor
Mental obstacles: anger, depression, doubt, memory,
fear, greed, hatred, Loss of vital energy.
Stay detached from experiences of cosmic mystic Sounds,
lights, forms , feelings of separation, cosmic consciousness.
An on line satsang with Swami Sitaramananda 03/30/2020
Today we will introduce you to a new way of thinking that
will help you to feel strong in the time of fears and anxieties due to epidemic
Covid 19. We are facing an unknown
“enemy” and our daily life is being put to a halt. We feel that our health and
wellbeing are being threatened.
We are faced with uncertainty. Existential questions long
time not dealt with, come to a surface. Now is a great opportunity to think
deeply and find peace and strength through a new understanding of “who am I”.
This new understanding of ourselves and our environment shed light to our
problems of fears and anxieties and makes us feel stronger.
The practice of Self enquiry:
Asking the question “Who am I?” and breaking the habit to be yourself.
Vedanta philosophy is a powerful philosophy coming from the
ancient Vedas. It gives us new insights and solutions to our problems.
It says that we need to solve our problems from
a different level of consciousness than the one we are familiar with.
It is about seeing our own self and our environment
To do so, we need to think deeply and endeavor
to distinguish between what is unchanging and what is changing.
Something unchanging is real. Something changing
To get to the unchanging, we need to question
what we believe about ourselves and our perception of the universe we see
around us to be true.
The whole meditation exercise is about asking
ourselves “who am I?”
And breakdown the false identifications- You do
not know who you are, but you know who you are not.
What remain is the “I”
By doing so we recover the Self and feel
stronger and happier.
We free ourselves from sufferings and fears
resulting from our attachment to the false Self.
We realize it is a habit we carry for a long
Therefore the meditation needs to continue over
We become more and more detached
It takes strength and sharp intellect to do so.
Our habitual mind keeps
reproducing the past illusions
Things are not the way we think them to be. The reality we see is the reality of our mind projections. The classical story of “snake and rope” illustrates well our situation. In the darkness , this person saw a snake and jump in fright. Someone who is not afraid of snake brought the light to shine upon the snake. Under the light, It turns out that it is a simple and innocent rope. The rope looks like the snake but is not the snake. The rope did not become a snake, and the snake did not become a rope. All what is happening is in the mind. The mind has already the fears of snakes, therefore projected “snake”. One’s thought and memory is being superimposed upon the truth. In the same manner, in the darkness of our spiritual ignorance, We keep seeing scary and stressful things. And reacted in fears.
When we dare to enquire, the knowledge sets us free. As we see things as they are and not what we imagine it to be.
Why do we keep seeing
the same thing?
In order to really be free, we have to revisit the past illusions Personal and collective In order to wake up. Revisiting our scares and fears And see them for what they are. Not real, In our mind. Become familiar with our mind patterns Help us to recognize them. We keep seeing the snake But also become stronger with time As the memory of rope becomes more and more established and we can transcend the vision of “snake” to see the “rope” Our fears resulting from our weakness become more and more Known And we become more and more stronger. Self enquiry helps us to do so.
How to unveil the
Self and be free of the habit to be ourselves?
First, you are not the body: Upon asking the first question “Who am I” The first answer is I am the body The body is made of the 5 gross elements Earth, water , fire, air and ether. It is made of food We are born with our constitution There are 3 types according to Ayurveda, the ancient science of medicine You can be solid , earthy , supportive and steady , made of Earth and water You can be fiery , sharp , active , inquisitive, made of Fire You can be quick, sensitive and moving like air in space The body constitution gives the predisposition To think and be this way or that. We are not seeing the same thing. As our constitution veils us.
However whatever constitution or body type we are, The body is born, grows, decays and dies At due time It is not meant to be forever, It is not ourselves As it keeps changing. If we line up different photos of ourselves At different times of our lives, From being a baby toddler to an adolescent, a grown up, an adult, and photos of ourselves in our thirties, fourties, sixties The body looks totally different in size, shape, weight And yet we pointed out to each photo and recognized the same “me” exclaiming “ this is me!” , “this is me” ! Think about this, there is a “me” that is not the body . The body is our instrument In our journey, Not ourselves. Mistaken identity with the body gives fears and anxieties Specially the fear of death. The body journey is a chapter in the book of our lives Not the whole story.
I am not my gender, male nor female I am not my race, black, white, yellow I am not my age, young, old, older I am not my physical beauty or appearance I am the driver of this body vehicle. I am not the color or shape of the vehicle I am not my muscles, my bones, my lungs, my heart My arms and legs My nose, tongue, eyes, skin, ears I am the driver of this body vehicle And these organs and limbs are my instruments I am the subject and these are the objects. I am consciousness and not the sum of body parts. Detachment towards the body Not overly worry about it as yourself But as the caretaker of the instrument Gives you strength and health. Free you from the fear of death Which is paralyzing In this time of virus threat.
identification is with the prana – life force
The prana energizes the body and gives it life Prana is changing, sometimes low, sometimes high Balanced and unbalanced Prana comes with the air we breathe The earth, water, fire, and etheric space. We can identify with what we feel, Energetic or tired Strong or sick Blocked or flowing Acting and enjoying Moving here and there Or staying still and shelter in place But we are not our prana, life force. So be aware, take care of your prana Do pranayama to purify and regulate your prana and emotions, but we are not the prana. Therefore stay detached from it.
identification is with our mind and emotions.
Who am I? I am worried, angry, fearful, joyful, sad, grieving. Our states of mind and emotions Kidnapped our identity We lose ourselves in our emotions. And become what we feel. The senses are connected to what we feel And keep us revolving between pleasures and pains They set the stage for the mind and emotions to play Its comedies or dramas But comedy turns to drama and drama turns to comedy Snake turns to rope and rope turns to snake Nevertheless, the sense of I is lost, drown in the emotions Of all our relationships Which make us feel ups and downs, Happy and unhappy Loved and separated Stay still, turn within, Happiness is within Love is already there Calm down, detach I am not the mind and the emotions.
Fourth, I am not my
ego and intellect:
I can tell the story of my life Over and over again To one person, hundreds people, thousands To my children, grandchildren, Yet I am not my story Even though I might be attached to it. My story even well rehearsed From life times to life times Generations to generations Keeps changing As my lessons keep changing. I keep acting out what I think myself to be. My level of consciousness My level of self awareness My level of being the silent witness To myself. My understanding of who am I Separated or connected Isolated or together Alone or involved Unstable or stable Worthy or unworthy Proud of accomplishments Better or worst
Achiever, intelligent or a failure, My level of self knowledge is changing Therefore it is not me, the unchanging. Truly, there is something beyond the ego stories That can not be described This is who I am, the background of things, The movie screen On which the movies, stories play And yet unaffected Detached Witness I am . The calming of the mind and the ego, The realization of the silent witness The observer of my thoughts The consciousness awareness itself Makes I feel strong I found myself and not losing myself When I detach myself from my stories And stop justifying Myself. I am not my ego.
My fifth level of
identification is more subtle
As it speaks about my purpose. As my question becomes deeper, I realize that I have been there, done that For a long long time. The purpose of this birth And its lessons Is revealed. As far as the “I” is Conditioned, attached My sense of purpose is distorted. Now I realize the purpose of this birth My journey is From karma to dharma And I am blissful and happy No more fear No more separation No more doubt No more agenda I am consciousness and bliss. I am free
thinning out the veils:
Seeing through the illusions of self and others. Turn within and solve our problems from A different level of consciousness. It can only get better We are not loosing anything Only gaining in strength and courage To face our lives By being ourselves. This meditation and Self enquiry are forced upon ourselves In this time of crisis when all established habits are being questioned, And reinvented. The more the veils are thin, The happier and steadier we become. The more this world will come to peace As we understand that myself and yourself are one. Unity in diversity. Celebrate our interdependence And let go of our fears Clinging to the past Projecting in the future
There is only one
There is not your truth and my truth Because both are only reflections. There is only one sun Reflected in many surfaces Reflected in rock surface, the light shines little Reflected on water, it becomes distorted with the waves Reflected on wood surface, the light is dim and stable Reflected on shiny mirror, the light is bright and the image sharp. There is only one consciousness The same in all beings Whether mineral, animal , human , superhuman, We are one The differences are external But the essence is one.
We do not know the
truth and act out of ignorance
Forgetting the big picture, Forgetting to do self enquiry Forgetting the search of truth Forgetting our purpose We become greedy, senseless, abusive towards animals, nature Not thinking, not respecting Constantly Creating pains to others For our own pleasures. This time is the time, We need to wake up and turn inwards, Question our ways Cease to blame, But taking responsibility Stop the killing Of innocent animals Their abuse and torture Become vegetarian Stop the wasting of resources And the appropriation Of planet earth Stay still and Meditate Everything you want is right Here and now.
There is only one
We are waves of the same ocean We are clay becoming different ugly pots and beautiful vases We are gold turning into different shapes and forms of ornaments We are spirit and consciousness in the guise of different classes of man Corona virus is equalizer Can affect rich, poor, statesman and beggar the same, What ever you are and where ever you are. Start our self enquiry Listen to the teachings of the scriptures And the wise of all times Even if you can not understand completely Try This is the time for us to practice this meditation wake up and Learn what you can To Remember ourselves Stay away from past and future Be in the moment present See the essence and not the manifestations Respect the differences as it is in essence one. Come back to unconditional love Of Self and Others The Love and the Truth will set you free!
important thing here is that we are uniting together as yoga teachers,
Sivananda Yoga teachers. We have a
mission to be leaders in time of need and to help people. Which way we can help people is the topic of
today. So I hope that you have seen my
video and my article. If you have not,
please do read it, “self-quarantine or yogic turning inward: how to live with yourself and be happy and
healthy”. There is an article about this
and it’s been also translated. So in this article there’s already a lot of
teaching that is there that you need to communicate with people in your own
way. If you have difficulty
communicating with people, then please write to me so that I can explain in a
few words what to say and do. For
example, if you want to help people convert from fear to self-confidence and
faith, you can write to me. The idea is as
a yoga teacher you need to feel that you have a responsibility. Sometimes we
sit in our corner and we do not really know what to do. The meeting is for that reason, for you to
know what you can do.
Thought Power: Time to Spread positive thoughts
first thing you need to know is that this is a pandemic, but also this is a situation that touches the whole world,
and it changes the vibration of the whole world. The whole world is in a panic, in the worrying
and questioning mode. It is very important
that yogic teaching is known at this time so people will turn from negative
thoughts to positive thoughts and know the cumulative action of thoughts. This
is what the yoga teacher needs to know, that his or her thinking is not only
relating to him or her, or the people that are in the same room or house with
him or her. The thinking together as a
collective consciousness, the positive thinking, affects the whole world. Now more than ever we need to be aware of
that. We need to be aware that our
positive thinking or positive talk affects the world and the way we can help
the world to heal and to uplift their consciousness is to more consciously practice
our sadhana or yoga. It is so important that
you see everything collapsing, changing and the whole world is in lockdown. What
that means is people will stay at home and they have a lot of time, things
stop, what are all of these people going to do? This is a moment of transition,
a moment of choice, either we are going to be depressed and you will go down
with everybody or we are going to rise up. That is why the teachers need to
play a leading role.
Raise vibrations with mantras
Most importantly what a yoga
teacher needs is to know that his / her thoughts are important. It is very
important that you raise your thought vibration by continuing to do your
practice. Even though you might think
that you are alone in your house doing your practice, you need to do it for the
sake of the world. When you do your
practice, yoga and meditation, it is not only improving your life but also improving
the vibration of the whole world. So the
easiest way to increase your vibration and help the world is repeating Mantras.
Those who have been Sivananda yoga
teachers know what is a Mantra. There
are a few Mantras that you can do, now more than ever, and gather people
together to repeat the Mantras because of the collective effect. It’s like adding the energy together and you know that, when you add
energy, you don’t just add energy to your country but you add energy to the
whole world. We need to create this
positive vibration to balance out all the negative vibration. It is a question of knowledge, not just of
blind faith. That means that you know
that vibration or thought or Mantra thoughts have effect. You need to repeat a few Mantras and teach
people to repeat Mantras as well. Sit together to repeat Mantras. It helps them to have a strong mind, but also
it is radiating out.
Good mantras to use in this time:
the mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya”. With
your heart, you send the Mantra out. You
know that it helps people to bring them to peace, to calm. The Mantra of Lord Shiva can remove poison, protects
you and brings you to high consciousness:
“Om Namah Sivaya!” You can
record this Mantra and play so people can hear all day long and they can learn
also how to pronounce it correctly. The next mantra is a mantra of protection
and strength. Goddess Durga is very
powerful and she can calm down all fears and all delusions. People are completely crazy and you let them
hear this mantra and also not only hearing but seeing the picture.
seen many times people with panic attacks.
I made them repeat the mantra of Durga and I made them see the picture
of Goddess Durga, and it calmed them down. Goddess Durga is very powerful because she can
fight with all the demons and the negative forces within your self and outside
of your self. The mantra is like this: “Om
Sri Durgayai Namah”. Swami Vishnudevananda
allowed us to use the strong form of the mantra of Durga with the bija mantra
“Dum”. You repeat it like this “Om
Dum Durgayai Namah!” Please record
this mantra and give it to people to listen and broadcast it. Now is the time
for us to broadcast mantras. Usually we don’t broadcast mantras because people need
to be initiated into a Mantra, but now in this time of need, you can work on
the mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya”, which is the mantra that Swami Vishnudevananda
decided to broadcast a long time ago to help the world. The Mantra “Om Namah
Sivaya” is very good because of the virus. The Mantra “Om Sri Durgayai Namaha”
or “Om Dum Durgayai Namaha” is excellent because the world is in panic mode.
Mantra for healing:
is another mantra that you can use, record, broadcast and play which is the Mahamrityunjaya
Mantra, an excellent mantra for healing and for liberation. If you know people
that are sick or very upset mentally because they lost their loved ones, the
people that have died, or they are afraid of sickness, you can use this Mantra “Om
Tryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushthivardhanam. Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaan
Mrityormuksheeya Maamritaat”. Please
record this mantra and play if you have in your household and your community
people that are very anxious. The best thing is to record this mantra and play
it at low volume all the time, 24 hours, so they can hear it. Even though they
might not understand it but it brings peace to their mind. For the people that
just died or they’re on the sick bed, the best thing is to play mantras for
them. Every yoga teacher needs to use his / her consciousness. You cannot
really repeat the Mantra with only your lips, but rather you have to repeat the
mantra with your heart, because consciousness or God is dwelling in your own
Chant mantras with heart and consciousness:
now the time for you to connect to your heart. When you want to send the mantra
to somebody, in order for you the assure the healing power, physical healing and
mental healing and also spiritual healing, then you need to do it with your own
consciousness and with your heart addressing to the community or to the country
or to the person that is in need. Everything really happens in the psychic
world – the spiritual world. As a yoga teacher, this is the best time for you
to apply. You need to focus your mind and it’s like a prayer so you can deliver
these masses of energy. Basically you have to imagine like this, that you are
delivering masses of energy to an area of the world. You don’t need to run
there and bring some water and some supplies but you are using this very
powerful method of sending positive energy. In the psychic world, everyone
receives it. They might be confused at that time because their senses and their
mind are switching their consciousness to another level but in between there
will be times when they will be calm and they will be praying then they will
receive your prayers. That’s the first action that all yoga teachers need to do,
to spread positivity, by Mantra and also please read my article on how there’s
a connection between Prana and thought.
Connection between Prana, Thought and Immunity:
more that you do things to increase prana, the more that you are strong and
your immune system will be strong to prevent disease. You need to explain that to your students and to your family,
the link between Prana and thought. Prana is that which you can find in nature.
There will be a talk later about how you can get prana in nature, so you need
to explain to them the link between prana, thoughts, emotions and immunity. The
best thing to prevent the world from being sick is to increase immunity, which
is the fighting mechanism that nature has given us in order for us to prevent
diseases. The prana needs to be high, so you need to increase the prana by
absorbing the prana from nature by having a proper lifestyle, eating the right
food and also by not spending the prana through negative thinking, worries and
actions that are mindless.
Decrease expenditure of Prana through negative
your mind. Concentrate your mind, doing mindfulness, mindful actions, the more
the prana will be high, the more that you prevent disease, and you will have
high immunity. Increase the prana intake from nature, decrease the lost a prana
through the senses and through your thoughts, your worries and your negative
emotions. It is a very simple mathematic formula: increase prana, decrease
energy waste. We will talk more in detail how you can lose prana and how you
can increase prana. I repeat, number one: increase the spreading of positive energy by
mantra and positive thoughts. Number two: increase prana, decrease the
expenditure of prana through worries and negative thoughts and through too much
information that you cannot digest. When you get too much information that you
cannot digest, automatically you would be stressed. Gather the information that
you can digest. It’s like food. If you eat too much, you cannot digest then you
have toxins. If you eat the food that is not fitting to you, then you also have
toxins. You need to do that.
Comforting people, be humble, learn to listen:
other thing that you need to keep in mind is that, in this time people need comfort.
Not merely calmness but they need a comforting kind of presence and comforting
words. Of course you cannot meet each other like before, you are in quarantine
but you can call people on the phone and talk. You know that your presence is
important. Sometimes you have some kind of feeling with people and relationship
and you don’t want to talk to them, but now it’s a good time that you transcend
this kind of limitation that comes from ego, relationship dynamics. It’s good for you to call people, your friends and relatives,
and reach out to your neighbors maybe by phone or email so that you can give comforting
words. It’s very easy to give comforting words: “how are you, how are you doing,
we are concerned about you, is everything okay, we love you “- these kind of
comforting words, and offer empathy. Empathy means we understand why you lost
your job, you are at home and you don’t know what to do and you’re depressed,
you’re worrying. We understand. Just offer empathy by listening. People need to
be able to talk out their worry, so then at that time you have to just listen
but without trying to give an answer because really truly nobody has an answer.
Be humble and just try to listen, not only engaging people when you feel that
you have an answer. Nobody is having an
answer but it’s very helpful to just listen to people. Listen to their voicing out whatever they’re
worried and concerned about. That’s enough to help them to feel comforted and
to calm down. So know that it is a need to be listened to.
next point is you need to help people to increase relaxation because this is a
time of stress. Know that there are three levels of relaxation. The first level
is physical relaxation, because when your mind is tense, your body will be
tense. By asana and simple stretch, you let the prana move, you are more relaxed.
Savasana or tensing and releasing with attention are a very good exercise.
Maybe your family members or your neighbors are not ready to practice yoga; maybe
they still have some kind of prejudice against yoga. It doesn’t matter if you
just tell them to lie down and to do some stretch, tense and release, and use
their mind to relax their body. It’s called Savasana or physical relaxation, releasing
the tension from the body by stretching. Mental relaxation:
second level of relaxation is mental. What that means you need to understand
clearly. When the mind is distracted, it is not calm. When the mind is
distracted, the mind has a tendency to worry. It needs to be concentrated. The
best thing is that people concentrate on repeating Mantras, singing kirtan,
reading books, and studying, but they need to keep their mind focused on
something positive. That is called mental relaxation, when they focus on
something positive. It is wrong to think that mental relaxation means your mind
is empty. It is wrong because when the mind is empty, it is time to worry. Even
though you might not be aware, but thoughts of worry and all kinds of
imagination can come into the mind when it is idle. Make sure that people understand
third level of relaxation is called spiritual relaxation. Spiritual relaxation
is when you know who you are. Most of us are in the dark. This is not only
virus crisis, is not only a mental-emotional crisis in the world, but also it is
a spiritual crisis because we go on and denying the spirit. We got lost in the
consumer world and technological world, and we can go on living our life very
rajasic or very externally oriented. We don’t take time to sit down, to think, to
study, to introspect, to make wise choices, because we’re being pushed here and
there by the senses, by the pressure of advertising, by consumer society. Now
is the time also to spiritually rethink. Spiritual relaxation comes when you have more knowledge of
the truth, of this life, when you have more knowledge of yourself, (called self-knowledge).
That comes only when you are able to meditate or you have faith. We can talk
about faith another time. Try to get people to relax, physically relax, mentally
relax and spiritually relax. The more they are calm and positive, they are spiritually
Nature helps people to relax:
in nature is helping people to relax. Maybe you have to be quarantined in your
house and you cannot go out but you can look at your plants and take care of
your plants or flowers. Look through the window and look at the trees. Anything
natural will help you to relax. You have to do it, focus on nature. Yesterday I
had people doing an exercise in our advanced TTC class here, an exercise of
contemplating nature. Nobody has to go anywhere. Actually we sat in one place
and we just looked at the tree and we looked at the water in the pond, looked
at the dog that is passing. We were just contemplating. By being still, learning
how to contemplate, everyone experiences a state of calmness, and not just calmness,
but a state of joy and unity. This is exactly what we mean when we talk about
spiritual relaxation. There are a lot of techniques of yoga that can bring you
to that state. We will have a subsequent other kind of teaching so you can make
use of all these. Yoga is the wealth of information that you can apply. The
more you apply and the more you see that it works, the more that it encourages
you to use it more. Before yoga was regarded as marginal, but now you can see the world is collapsing the way it is,
so now is the time for yoga and yoga teachers to bring the secret techniques
and methods out and serve the world. There’s no time to lose. This is the time.
I talked about relaxation and you need to explain to people that the way they
can take care of their fear and anxiety is through increasing relaxation,
physically, mentally and spiritually.
Yoga for overcoming anxiety:
Now I just give to the yoga teacher a few tips.
Actually we study all this in the yoga health education course that is very
handy now because we train people to become a health educators, basically in a time
of disease, what to do. Here are a few pointers. How do you teach yoga for
overcoming anxiety? The first point is that you need to help people
to improve the breath, body and mind awareness. Improve breath, body and mind
awareness with rhythmical breathing. Just breathe with the diaphragm to get
more oxygen, but also use rhythmical breathing, and then it will help. When you
do asana, make sure that people coordinate their breath with their movement and
do pranayama. People are afraid sometime to breathe because they are afraid of bringing
in the virus. It’s a kind of wrong thinking because it creates more tension. Unless
you are already a yogi that you can hold your breath and survive but you are
not an advanced yogi so you need to breathe. Now the best thing is to find
nature to practice breathing. You might not be able to go out in the street but
you can open your window. You need to ventilate your room and your house. Don’t just
close the windows. You need to sit near to the window and you need to breathe.
Do pranayama. In general for yoga teachers, you need to know that now is not
the time to do intense variations, intense yoga asanas. It’s the time to do
gentle yoga to slow down so that you allow more mindfulness, more awareness in
your breathing and in your movement. It will counteract the fear and anxiety. You
need to do restorative yoga. If you don’t know what is restorative yoga then
you can learn. Basically it is be in very relaxing postures and put some kind
of props like blankets and pillows on different parts of your body, on your
chest primarily, but also on different parts of your body. It feels like
weighed down and comforted. The focus is on mindfulness, awareness, slowing
down and be comforted.
Asanas for stress resilience:
The second point is to increase the prana, which I said already, by
moving the body in order for the prana to move. If you feel that you are stuck
and if you feel that you are panicking, then the prana is blocked. At that time
your thought goes down more. You need to just keep moving, but in the yoga
postures in order to move the prana and to balance the flow of prana. It is
very important at this time because it will help you for your stress resilience.
People will increase in their capacity to deal with stress if the prana is
balanced. Simple moving of the body, stretching but moving the body in the way
of yoga, right and left, backward and forward, in a balanced manner with
awareness. At that time the mind will be
balanced and you increase your stress resilience.
The third point is to improve the mental-emotional balance. The mental and emotional balance is most
effectively accomplished by regulating the breath. If you feel tension, you
need to learn to exhale, calmly and as slow as possible, so it releases the
tension. Let’s say you are talking to the neighbor and the neighbor is
panicking, you can say on the phone to the neighbor: “OK, calm down now, just
exhale slowly. Inhale and exhale to the count of six. Inhale and exhale to the
count of ten. Go very slowly and they will calm down. Then the breath needs to
go with the movement and the concentration of the mind. The awareness and the
concentration need to be there. People cannot do yoga when they are stressed. Why?
Because their mind is obsessed with something external and they cannot do yoga.
At that time, you tell them to lie down, to stretch, to breathe, and then to
concentrate on the breath.
Learn Ayurveda: Increase Ojas
Shakti to avoid burnt out:
The forth point is that for yoga teachers you need to know that you
get burned out and the virus can attack you. One Ayurvedic teacher stated the
virus is a pitta disease, which means too much heat in your body. That’s why
more relaxation is important. And if you have too much heat and too much anger
and too much thinking and too much stress, what you are doing is burning out
your ojas, which means the helpful energy to sustain your life. So you are
burned out. What you need to do is to increase the ojas shakti, which means the
power of sustenance of you own body that would bring you contentment, gratitude
and the sense of relaxation. The key is increase ojas. This is the subtle
energy that is taught by Ayurveda. This is a good time to learn Ayurveda and
apply the Ayurvedic principle in your diet and your lifestyle to increase ojas,
by sleeping well. When you see people that are anxious, they cannot sleep well.
You need to apply some warm oil on your body, on your head. You can use warm
sesame oil. Heat it up and anything
warm, even warm water can be put on the body. With warm water, you can rub your body.
It is okay if you don’t have oil, but anything warm. You can eat properly. When
you are stressed, you are going to do nervous eating. You are at home and you
have the canned food that you have stored. You don’t know what to do, so you
eat the canned food and sugar so it calms you down artificially. This is the
worst thing to do. You need to eat very nutritious food, simple food. The
essence of the food will feed you, feed the ojas and it helps you to calm down.
If you have ghee, you can take one or two spoons of ghee in your food, and then
you will be nourished. Almond drink is also very good for increasing ojas. You
need to have a positive feeling and connection to the Divine. That will also
give you the direct connection to the source of life, and that will sustain you
as well and increase your ojas Shakti. In this time of virus threat, you need
to increase your ojas Shakti, which means increasing your quality of life, and not
to destroy your life by wrong habits. It’s a time to be much more careful of
what you eat, think and feel.
Increase the sense of safety:
So now the fifth point we have already talked about. It is to create the sense of security, of
warmth, of quiet and of support so that people feel safe. Okay, the key word is feeling safe. To let go of the worries and the defense mechanism
because if you feel worried and your fight-or-flight response is increased,
then your defense mechanism will wear you out. So it is important that you
relax, that you activate your parasympathetic nervous system by many different
means, yoga asana in a conscious manner, rhythmical breath, all this is helping
or increasing your parasympathetic nervous system activation and also the faith
that I talked about. So use the right brain, increase the faith. If you have
some kind of spiritual practice you need to do it now. Do not waste your time
in worry but use your time in prayer. Decrease the defense mechanism in the
Increase the detachment
The sixth point is what I talked about a little bit already, the
relaxation, but I add on now you need to change your attitude towards life. The
attitude before we have is the attitude of being passionate about life,
passionate about enjoyment of the senses, rajasic attitude, running here there
so your life feels like more meaningful because you are experiencing everything
and you are enjoying everything. So that is called rajasic kind of activity.
And you need to decrease these kinds of rajasic activity and you need to
increase the detachment attitude that means a meditative contemplative attitude
towards life. You step back and then you find the fullness within yourself and
you detach about what is going on. We must think about this more and there is
more teaching that needs to be involved in this matter because even though it
is not that easy but basically I just give you a taste of this. You need to be
detached towards your actions and the result of action, that means your work,
your money and your life. Be detached from it. If you attach to it then you
have more worry, so try to be detached from the result of your effort and the
result of your action. I know it is difficult but still that is the way to go.
Either you worry about it and you cannot do anything about it, and then you
will make yourself worse and then you get disease because your immune system is
low or you can just basically take the stand of being detached and to be in the
present. Then you will be more recharging yourself and things are not that bad.
So basically change your attitude towards your whole life should be more
detached be more centered.
The best person who can
supports you is your Own Self:
Point number 7 is you need to experience the connection with your own self and to others so the sense of connection is very important for mental health. People talk about social distancing; everyone needs to stay away from each other, not moving. But then people don’t know what to do. So they stay home and they are depressed. They miss their friends. They miss their social activities, so they are depressed, angry and worried. This will make things worse. You might help in not spreading the virus, but you are increasing the spreading of the negative virus of the mind. When people are worrying and they send the negative thoughts out to the atmosphere. You need to be aware of that. You need to help people feel the connection to their own Self. These yoga techniques of asana, pranayama and meditation are helping at this time for people to feel the connection with their own Self. We are having the bad habit to always think of something external or somebody external to ourselves is supporting ourselves. And these relationships are very essential for our well being. Fine and good. You have your supportive network, your friends and people that you trust and love. This is very good. I don’t say anything against this. But what I am saying is that you need to have your own support system in your own Self. And you need to turn you mind inward in order for you to find that support system within your own Self. And that would help you because even if you have your loved ones, they cannot be there with you 24 hours 7 days a week. They cannot be there for you all the time. And then you feel let down, worried and anxious when they are not there. So the best person who can support you is yourself. Turn inward, feel the strength from within.
Do Self Affirmation:
Do Self-affirmation. Let’s say you never think about this kind of
thought before. And now it is the time for you to do Self-affirmation. Right
down the sentence and repeat yourself many times. “I am content and happy with
myself.” You say something like this. Day by day, everything is improving,
everything is better in every way. So say things like that: “I am happy with
the present moment”. Do Self-affirmation, something that you feel is good. The
positive thought that helps you, and at that time you keep repeating that
thought, because that thought will gain more momentum and more power in the
psychic world and then at that time it helps you because when you are
panicking, this thought will come up to the surface of the mind and will help
you. You have to do Self-affirmation as a habit. Create a gratitude list. So
your heart keeps opening, your worries and negative emotions, anger and frustration
come only when you have your heart closed. Your heart becomes limited and
closed, then you have the tendency to blame and to be negative. This is not the
time to blame, to be negative, you should not blame anybody, and try to
cooperate and not blaming. Everyone is trying to do their best. If you blame
people to lie, to cheat, to not do the right thing, you are sending more
negativity in the world. Try to send positive energy. Try to focus on the
positive, not on the negative and the blaming.
Teach a gentler Yoga class:
So now the last point, in the yoga class, when you teach the yoga
class, I said already, teach a gentler yoga class. It is encouraging and
calming. That is the best that you can do. Of course in the time of social
distancing and we advise that yoga teachers should not correct the students.
You can teach people online. You can use Zoom, video conferencing, in order to
teach people online. But only if you have people at a room in your house, it is
advisable that you have them sit at a separate distance from each other and you
are not touching them, correcting them. So with your voice, that is what you
can do. You can use the voice, the verbal cue with people and correct them. It
is very important for yoga teachers to remember is to wash your hands with soap
in the beginning and at the end of the class. If you do teach people, everyone
needs to wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, with awareness, as
much as you can. That is the only way right now to not to spread the virus. We
said a few tips for yoga teachers already.
Restoring Faith, faith gives
you stronger immunity:
The last point that I have before you ask questions is restoring
faith. The idea is the virus comes from nature, and then we become suspicious
of nature. We become afraid of nature that can be also, you can say, nature is
God or Goddess, is the universal presence around us we call nature. So we need
to reconnect with Mother Nature instead of being fearful and blameful of Mother
Nature. You need to recognize that you have mistreated Mother Nature, not be as
aware of her presence as you could. You maybe have acted like a spoiled kid and
think that mother will always be there for you. And when mother is upset, and
she spanks you, you get angry. But you need not be angry with Mother Nature.
That is my point. You need to rely on her, even though something is manifesting
which you perceive to be negative and it comes out of the blue and it is
mysterious, and you don’t understand but still you need to have you heart open
toward Mother Nature. You know that she is there to take care of you, that she
loves you and she gives you everything that you need. But stop acting like a
spoiled kid and remember her. So restore your faith in nature. Those who have
faith toward your particular god, prophet, religion, name and form of your
faith, it is very good because you have your faith. In time of need, we usually
turn toward our faith. We learn how to pray. So what I am saying is you need to
restore your faith. It is not the time to doubt even though the tendency is
more to doubt at this time, to be anxious and doubting. It is the opposite of
what you need to do. And you need to
reconnect and to be appreciative and to pray. Why? Because faith keeps you
going. In time you want to control but you cannot control. You want to
understand but you cannot understand. At that time, faith is what you’ve got.
Faith keeps you going and faith gives you stronger immunity. Faith gives you
strength. This is the time to relate to our faith, not the time of doubt. Of
course you have to do the thing that is needed. There are practical things that
you need to do to not spread the virus, not to be sick yourself, increase your
immune system as we talked about ealier. But you need to take care of your own
spiritual Self, or your God. Try to find the connection with God. For some of
you, it might be not something that you are used to, but it is never too late
for you to understand that you are never alone, that you are not in control. It
is some intelligence that takes care of things, in a bigger scale than you can currently
see. For a yoga teacher, it is very important to have strong faith, because you
have to be positive and guide the students.
Vedanta philosophy about the
Self and the Not Self:
For a Vedanta student, Vedanta is Yoga philosophy, then we talk
about the Self, and about the detachment toward the things that are transient
and changing, and to discriminate, to know the difference between what is
permanent, and that which is changing, which is the Self and that which is the
not-Self. You need to have some basic education in Vedanta philosophy, which is
Yoga philosophy in order for you to understand how to do this. But in general
you need to remember that there is some presence within you, consciousness
within you that is there, no matter what. You need to tune to that. That
consciousness can be seen outside as hands of God or the Divine, or can be seen
inside as your own inner deeper presence.
Yoga Teachers and Health
Educators need to be patient:
That’s enough talk and we need to keep rehearsing because one time you hear, one time you practice is not enough. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years basically, just rehearsing and rehearsing, hearing it again and again. For yoga teachers and health educators, just know that it is not one time that you need to say to your student to calm down. You need to be very patient, to repeat again and again. Be available to the students and people because people hearing one time is not enough. Your presence needs to be there steady and constant, and you need to be repeating. Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself. It is not the question of information here but it is the question of self-transformation and to help people to go more deeply within themselves.
Swami Jnaneswariananda is from the Yoga Farm in Grass Valley CA and has been a yoga teacher since 1996. She teaches in the teacher training courses along with the Yoga Health Educator program focusing on Anatomy & Physiology and how to modify the postures.
In this video on Adjustments to Key Poses in the Sivananda Sequence, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of 4 of the sivananda postures.
Swamiji shows us how to do the poses correctly and some common mistakes along with the pose benefits & some small corrections in the pose.
In this video on Exploring the Sivananda Shoulderstand Cycle, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of coming into the shoulderstand, the plow, the bridge, and the wheel.
11:24 Adaptations for Shoulderstand and Plow 19:44 Moving in and out of Bridge and Wheel 27:51 Other Variations 32:45 Advanced Variations for Plow and Shouldertand
Swamiji shows us how to do the poses correctly, how to adpat the posture for certain body types and some key techniques to improve in the practice.
In this video on Sivananda Yoga Gentle Modifications and Advanced Variations of the Shoulderstand & Fish Pose, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of these 2 sivananda postures and their gentle modifications and advanced variations.
01:00 Modifications for Shoulderstand using the Wall 06:42 An Advanced Variation of the Shoulderstand – The Candle 11:05 The Fish Pose – Matsyasana 17:41 A Gentle Modification for the Fish Pose 19:54 An Advanced variation of the Fish Pose – Lotus Fish
The question is good. Why do u want to become a yoga teacher? And where are you going to learn to become a yoga teacher?
So the ideal is you want to become a yoga teacher for yourself, to improve yourself, to elevate yourself, to learn the techniques how can you become strong, and healthy, and positive and knowing yourself more and more.
Yoga Teaches Union
The second point is how you’re going to serve others? Because we can never exist without others. So we elevate ourselves and we need to elevate other people, our friends, our families, the world, society. So that’s why you want to become a yoga teacher.
Sivananda Yoga Lineage
Now, where you want to learn to become a yoga teacher? You need to learn to become a yoga teacher where they know what is yoga. Yoga is universal. Yoga is science of self-realization.
So you need to learn from people that know what means self-realization, what is union of body-mind-spirit, what is in a nutshell who we are, and how we can find true happiness and true health.
So that’s why you try to find a yoga teacher training course that is from a long tradition, a classical tradition with teachers that know what they’re talking about.
The Founder’s Vision
The Sivananda yoga system was founded in 1969 by Swami Visnudevananda, after he has a vision how to help to bring the world to peace by training people individually to find peace and also to find health.
Now, there is 45 thousand yoga teacher trainedin this system and people come out of this course feel much better about themselves, and knowing better what to do to help the world.
So you’ll learn difference things cause program’s very intense but the idea is you’ll become healthier, you’ll become happier, you’ll become more clear, more knowledgeable at the end of the 4-weeks course.
What You Will Learn
You’ll learn philosophy and yoga asanas. You’ll learn scripture and the teacher will talk a lot about yoga psychology how to become more positive and what is the science of self-development, that is yoga how to lead a yoga lifestyle.
You’ll learn how to be healthy, a little bit about Ayurveda, you’ll learn a little bit about anatomy physiology, you’ll learn a lot of kirtan, you’ll chant kirtan so you’ll be happy, you’ll have a nice community,
Usually international community so people often are in different steps of life and you can meet them and see yourself in their eyes, and see yourself in the eyes of the teacher. So you’ll have a different vision of yourself, and you’ll become completely re-charge.
So that’s how you wanted to take the yoga TTC and the classical traditional yoga school that there’s a lot of experience. It’s not just learning asanas, it’s not just learning exercise, it’s not just learning physical health but learning about mental health, spiritual health, a holistic approach to life, holistic approach to Yoga.
So that’s why you want to become a Yoga teacher so that you can improve yourself, you can improve your health, your happiness, but also you can serve this world that is very stressed out and very confuse and unhappy and Yoga is a solution of humanity nowadays.
This is why Sivananda Yoga TTC is so popular, because it is serious and demands from us commitment. Sivananda Yoga TTC is a month-long practice of holistic Yoga Life experiencing Yoga as Body-Mind-Spirit Union. Only then does true transformation and Self growth have a chance to appear.
Q: Why is the immersion course four weeks long?
A: If we are learning Yoga techniques alongside our life like a weekend course for example, we will always pick and choose what we are going to learn and will not be able to experience the wholesomeness of Yoga Life where one element of life influences the other; for example, if we are positive and emotionally felt supported by the group, the spiritual community (sangha), we will feel more confirmed in our spiritual and lifestyle choices which will lead to Health and Peace.
Q: Why the mixing of people from different countries, age groups and levels of fitness together in the same training group?
A: Students are not only being exposed to diverse cultures, diverse levels of physical fitness but also to diverse personalities and religions, and diverse levels of mental and spiritual fitness. This is the way to find Unity in Diversity, to find the commonness among differences: increase tolerance, love of humanity as a whole and avoid sectarianism and partisan spirit.
Respecting our differences, we learn to adapt, adjust, accommodate, and thus can not be confirmed in our false beliefs and self images, rather reaching out to our core Self that is the Truth in all. This is the essence of the teachings of all religions.
Q: Why get up at 5:30am ?
A: Because it is the best time for meditation at sunrise. It represents the rise of Light, of Knowledge and the Awakening from darkness. It forces us out of tamas, depression, and turns our life around, holding life at the right end of it and not being victim to circumstances. Early morning meditation before starting the day is a foot in the right direction for a Healthy Lifestyle. 30 days of this regime will equip you with this new habit which has the capacity to turn your life around.
Q: Why this rigorous daily schedule?
A: Yoga is Life and Life is Yoga. Master Sivananda taught the Synthesis of Yoga, combining the different classical Yoga methods for a Balance Life and Peace of Mind.
The schedule is busy, but busy with good and positive things such as meditation, Yoga asana classes, pranayama , relaxation techniques, teaching instructions, vegetarian meals, scriptural study (Bhagavad Gita), and Yoga Philosophy (Vedanta).
We get to experience all day long new thoughts and get out of our habitual thoughts. This is helping us to create self discipline and balance our energies and forces us to live in the solid present, instead of wallowing in the past or projecting upon the future.
The NOW can be attained by a concentrated state of mind.
We get to experience all day long new thoughts and get out of our habitual thoughts.
The traditional system of transmission of knowledge Gurukula
Vedanta philosophy is the basis of this classical teaching. It is the philosophy of oneness in consciousness. A Guru is not a person. It is your own deeper consciousness mirrored. The eternal knowledge is passed on through a lineage.
In this way, we remain in awareness. There is no better way to keep being aware and keep being strong than to keep connection with Consciousness itself, reflected outside us and seen as the Gurus but felt within. Through the connection with Consciousness, consciousness will be awakened and thus the transmission of knowledge. Being a Yoga teacher is not being a preacher or a technician, but existing as a total Being sharing joy and Love with others.
Holistic Approach to Yoga
The Yoga Teacher Training Courses serves as a first step on your path to healing yourself and others. After completing this training you are eligible to register for the 800-hour Yoga Health Educator Training which is certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. This training allows you to apply yoga into the mainstream healthcare system and counsel people on how to integrated yoga lifestyle practices into their daily life.
It is not a business venture and all teachers are fervent selfless practitioners, following themselves the discipline, a rare thing indeed in the world of today. We invite you to share in this venture for Peace. The Yoga therapy here is not just physical therapy but the collective Yoga Therapy for a Healthy Mind, a Healthy World and Healthy Environment in a Healthy Spirit.