Friday, February 10, 2012

The Real Purpose of Hatha Yoga

This morning I was studying the Hatha Yoga Padipika with commentary by Swami Muktibodhananda and I found this to be very inspiring and a wonderful reminder about the real role of a yoga teacher. 

Swamiji explains, "In the last forty years hatha yoga has been accepted as a therapeutic science all over the world and many scientific studies have been conducted in this field. Today we teach yoga to people because it is very necessary. Man [the human] has become sick and medical science is not able to meet the challenge. Hatha yoga, however, has been helping everybody. Therefore, we do not want to discourage this aspect, but at the same time we should not forget what hatha yoga really stands for.

Behind every sick man there is a spiritual man. Behind a diabetic there is a yogi. Behind a man suffering from depression there is an aspirant. When a patient comes for help, teach him yoga and make him better. Treat his sickness, but do not stop there. Take him further into the spiritual domain of life.

This is the mistake that most yoga teachers make in the West. 

They just take a patient with arthritis, rheumatism or insomnia, teach him a few exercises and that is it. Hatha yoga has not been used to treat the total personality. This is why teachers are not able to raise the level of their pupils. 

Just to improve the physical health is not enough. The mental health must also improve, the nature must change, the personality must change, the psychological and the psychic framework also has to change. You should not merely feel freedom from disease, but freedom from bondage and from the vagaries of the mind.

Now, the time has come when teachers in every part of the world must understand and transmit the true spirit of hatha yoga."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Power of Thoughts

Thoughts, those all-too-often-pain-in-the-neck energies that seem to ceaselessly rule our lives. Did you know that thoughts travel virtually in no time at all and even faster than the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second? According to ancient yogis and their traditions, thoughts are living things and supplied to us by food. They are wireless messengers and have tremendous power.  How often do you find yourself "lost" in your thoughts? Are you your thoughts? Are your thoughts who you are? 

Yoga teaches us that we are not our thoughts, but rather a Divine ever-peaceful, radiant light of Pure Consciousness. To better grasp this theory, we need to start by defining "thought." Thought is a great force, it moves, it creates. Every thought that you send out is a vibration which never perishes... never. Thought has a weight, shape, size, form, color, quality and power. In fact, every thought has name and form. Have you ever noticed that every thought that enters the mind has a shape and a name? For this reason, we cannot separate thoughts from name and form. In Swami Sivananda's book Thought Power he states that thoughts have specific shapes and colors associated. Here are some examples:

selfish thought = grey brown color, sucks energy from the object
anger / hatred thought = deep red, sent like an arrow to the object
pride / ego thought = orange, hits object like a baseball bat
spiritual thought = yellow, uplifts the object
love = white, with hue of light rose pink, elevates and uplifts the object

What colors, shapes, and vibrations are you sending out into the universe impacting the world and yourself?

It will be good to know that thoughts are changeable. In today's society it's pretty easy to find a variety of information about thoughts, even the book mentioned above can be found on the internet for free ( Thoughts have an influence. Think about your friends, the company you keep. Do you associate with uplifting people or people that drag you down and tend to gossip about others? Because thoughts travel, other people's thoughts affect you too, so be sure to hang around positive people so that their optimistic viewpoint will also lift you, and your thoughts, up.

In fact, let's take a moment to investigate the four effects of thoughts:
1. A thought effects the person who thinks it.
2. A thought effects the person to whom the thought is sent / directed.
3. The thought effects the psychic (mental) atmosphere by polluting it (brings it down) or elevating it (lifts it up).
4. The effect of the thought returns to the person who originated the thought.

Let's put this into an example. Let's say that I have the thought "I think Jennifer is a wonderful woman!" By professing this, I am uplifting myself, Jennifer, the universe and am inviting a similar experience to return to me. Now doesn't that make you feel different about your thoughts... especially about gossip?!?

During this month, dedicate time to observe your thoughts. Should a negative thought arise, simply change it to a positive thought. For example, "I'm not worthy" will become "I am worthy." By doing this you are changing the thought vibration and lifting up your own mind. This takes serious dedication but brings lasting effects. Make a resolve today to begin to witness your thoughts. Remember, no judging, just use a keen eye to simply observe and literally transform "one thought at a time."  Enjoy the journey.