Barbra Brady

Archive for the ‘It’s Not About the Asana’ Category

The Baseball Sutra 2011

In It's Not About the Asana, Yoga on October 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Creative Commons License photo credit: kevin dooley

I have an unexpected, playful answer to the question, What is yoga?

Baseball, yogis, it’s baseball.

You see, it is now October. Which means, in the best interest of my soul, I’m kickin’ Wall Street to the curb for now.  Because during this month each year, my meditation practice includes watching the World Series, and my yoga mat is diamond-shaped.

I love baseball for the very reason those who hate it, hate it (same is true of my love of cats). “It’s too slow.” “It’s boring.” “Nothing is happening.” My take = it’s about the subtleties, the nuances of the present moment. So is yoga. Contrary to what many beginning (and even continuing) practitioners believe, the more “advanced” the yogi, the more subtle the practice.Extravagant, flamboyant poses do not necessarily an advanced yogi make.

In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali writes about the stilling of the mind, quieting the waves of the chockfull storehouse of our thoughts. Just watch an exchange among pitcher, catcher, and batter (even a comedic one). Patanjali mentions asana in only three sutras, 2:46-2:48, and they all could be applied to what happens in baseball.

The first sutra on asana (asana means seat–what else is the pitcher’s mound?), 2:46, is on how to doasana–with steadiness and ease. It is to remain in a “good place,” or sukha, and not let anything in your space. Sutra 2:47 tells us how to master asana, which is to while in that good space, meditate on the infinite. Loosening your effort into the infinite… The final asana sutra, 2:48, illumines what happens when we do master asana in this way: you will not be pulled off base by the pairs of opposites, or those things which we tend to either harbor or avoid.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Zach Heller Photography

The Texas Rangers and the  St. Louis Cardinals have practiced their way to the 2011 World Series. At least to some degree, it was by mastering those sutras. One may have to observe closely to see it this way, but that is exactly my point.

Baseball is brilliantly subtle, while vastly complex.

 It is filled with nuance, defined by detail, and when made manifest by its true adepts, is anequanimity of fearlessness and joy… Just like yoga. Yoga is skill in action. Baseball, too, possesses the quietude, timelessness, and the opportunity for stillness which defines such skillful action. (But that is another scripture up my pin-striped sleeve, The Baseball Gita). If you’d like to be prepared, dear student, get out your Gitas.

Do I have any fellow “baseball is yogic” fans? There are some fantastic baseball metaphors ripe for yoga teachers, what are yours? Let’s play ball! (Er, yoga.) I’ll leave you with one of my favorite yoga teaching mantras, one that is honored by the best hitters in the business of baseball:

Be Patient at the Plate.  

first published on yogamodern.com
Advertisements

Pranic Footprint: Taking Responsibility for the Energy You Generate

In It's Not About the Asana on January 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Part II

In the Tantric tradition of yoga, we understand that energy follows thought. Thought matters. That that you think, you unleash. It matters what kind of energy you send out into the world. A projection of energy can happen with a mere thought.

Step mindfully. Just as it is harmful to leave behind a carbon footprint, and we can typically lessen that load in the course of our day-to-day world, the quality of prana you leave behind can be harmful. Negative energy set forth by ill thoughts, unkind words, and wrong action has its imprint. Sticks, stones, and words can hurt.

Recall a time you stepped into a room and immediately felt unwelcome, sensed a certain repulsive force. One unseen, but surely felt. That’s negative pranic energy left behind by a negative thought, word, or action, likely unwittingly by the generating party. Think: Bad Vibes. Getting the icky idea?

Conversely, we can choose to leave a positive pranic footprint. You know how you feel better just being in the presence of some people? Even in passing on the sidewalk? We sense a calm, an open space, a feeling that all is well. A kind glance, word, smile–can work magic on those around you. People you don’t even know, or see. This energy also lingers, its footprint beautiful. It is of a quality that leaves the world a better place.

So, think, speak, and do mindfully, dear readers. The energy you save will fill your, and perhaps the world’s reserves of happiness.

State of Union Address: What's Your Pranic Footprint?

In It's Not About the Asana on January 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

For my 2011 State of Union Address (i.e., State of Yoga), I’d like to bring attention to Pranic Footprint. President Obama made mention of greening up our energy in his State of the Union address. But what about our pranic energy? Do we stop to consider the impact our own energy has on our environment?

If you’re not clear where I’m headed with this, think about the last time you were in a room with one or more hyper people, or on the freeway with other drivers very determined to move ahead. Maybe you’ve witnessed someone enter a room seeping negativity, or know someone who drains your energy to the point you cannot bare to be around them. Their energetic drain depletes you long after you’ve parted company. Know the icky, uncomfortable, Get me outta here feeling?

This is what I mean by pranic footprint. Just like a carbon footprint, the energy we bring to a thought, action, word, situation, or even a room has its effects. The energy we bring lingers. In some cases this imprint has a half-life of many lives. In a time when we are more aware, and cautious of, the impact of our material consumption and expenditures, what if we all become equally mindful of where–and how–we put our energy?

to be continued…

Swami Rama Speaks

In It's Not About the Asana on December 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

The Lord dwells in me. I am a finite vessel, and Infinity dwells within this vessel.

Swami Rama

…This is what Tantra is about.

Meditation to Free the Mind

In It's Not About the Asana on December 2, 2010 at 8:12 am

 

Mind is the key that either locks you in the prison of your own creation or frees you to play in Nature’s exquisite and boundless landscape. It is easy not to see that your mind isn’t inclined toward peace. Penetrate beyond its surface however and access the Majestic universe, the answers to all questions and a path through any obstacle. Meditate to train your mind day after day and awaken its spectacular capacities.

Yogarupa Rod Stryker

Bindu Chakra: Yoga's "Heavenly Drop"

In It's Not About the Asana on November 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Why are Bridge and Shoulder Stand two of the most auspicious of the yoga poses?

Perhaps the most glorious of reasons lies in the spot on the back of the head which rests on the ground while in these two “boontiful” asanas. In Tantric traditions, this is the location of Bindu Chakra. While often given short shrift in modern day charkrologies, Bindu (point, or drop) is in fact extraordinary.

As seen in the above illustration, Bindu is on the top back of the head, the spot where Bramhins leave a small tuft of hair on their shaved heads. It is said to be where we produce amrit, or energetic nectar. In our normal upright positions, this sweet stream drips down into the body as vehicle for supreme (para) guidance. If it comes to rest in Vishuddi, or the throat chakra, it remains cool, nurturing not only consciousness, but creativity. However, unleashed amrit typically falls to Manipura, or the navel charka. Manipura is our center of transformative “fire,” and since heat rises, it does so and burns up amrit. Ah, misspent energy!

An anecdote? An inverted posture wherein our head and heart are lower than our navel center. In our two selected asanas, Bindu rests upon the ground, receiving support and acupresssure. Since heat from the navel center rises, in the inversions it rises away from the throat center, toward the legs. Bindu’s sweet whisperings may remain in the cool recesses of the little “pool” at our throat center, or drop back to Bindu, to send its serene messages to our subtle bodies. As jalandhara bandha (the chin lock) is naturally engaged in these postures, moving prana is kept from moving into the head. The intellect is pacified, not fueled.

So, pay attention next time you are holding Bridge or Shoulder Stand (and they are at their best when held, under the mindful eye of a skilled teacher). The ever present drip from Bindu is thought to provide guidance in fulfilling your dharma, your purpose in this world. As suggested in yesterday’s post, the benefits include willpower, sweetness, refined one-pointedness, attention, enthusiasm, creativity, aspiration and a celebrative world view.

Happy trails of Bindu to you.

Swami Rama Speaks

In It's Not About the Asana, Truisms on November 12, 2010 at 9:21 pm

“Pray in your own language to the Lord of life, who is seated in the inner chamber of your being.”

 

from the Swami Rama Society, Facebook.

Wear Your Love Like Heaven

In It's Not About the Asana on November 8, 2010 at 8:18 pm

….

Need I say more?

Yes, just a little.

Lord kiss me once more, fill me with song, Krishna (sic), kiss me once more, that I may, that I may,

Wear my love like Heaven…

 

Give Up the Ghost Through Yoga

In It's Not About the Asana, Yoga on November 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm

“Give up the ghost.”

My father (RIP 17 years this week) offered this phrase to me enough times that I associate it with him. (He was taciturn.) As a tot, I didn’t grasp its meaning. As an angst-ridden teen and 20something, I came to understand its concept, if not accept it. Then I heard it as, “Give you your dreams,” rather than let go of that which has passed.

To give up the ghost is to let it go. It is to cease the avidya (wrong knowledge) of attachment to a particular outcome. We might realize we need to give up the ghost when we are haunted by recurring thoughts, when we beat our minds silly wishing for the person/thing/situation that got away. When we obsess so, we need to: Give up the ghost.

Yoga recognizes these psychological ghosts, and Sanskrit has a name for them: Bhuta. Bhuta means “ghost,” or things that haunt us. (As with most Sanskrit words, it has multiple meanings, including “element.”) But rather than a mere parental command (because I told you to give up the ghost), yoga, specifically Tantric Hatha Yoga, has a methodology for giving up the ghosts that haunt the corners, and at times forefront, of our minds. It is Bhuta Agni.

If you practice yoga, you may be familiar with Jathara Parivartanasana, or reclining abdominal twist. Your teacher may have mentioned this pose’s capacity to increase gastric fire, or Jatharagni. In the case of jatharagni, we are tapping into our power to digest and assimilate food (“agni” means fire). The agni, or fire, in Bhuta Agni, is our inner transformative power (think of fire consuming whatever we throw on) to “burn up” mental/emotional stuff we take in.

If we begin to consider our mental/emotional/pranic “caloric” intake the way we do with literal calories, and limit the “junk food” thoughts, words, and actions (karmas), we will have less bhuta to burn off. The less recurring thoughts, frets, and obsessions we take in and store, the fewer “ghosts” take up residence in our hearts and souls (and body). It is exactly like food calories. The more calories you take in, the more you have to burn up least you begin to store weight. The accumulated weight may be of the flesh, or it may be psychic.

Tantric Hatha Yoga and the ParaYoga system have techniques (one meaning of the word tantra is technique) and practices specifically formulated to burn up the bhutas–give up the ghost that you can’t seem to get rid of. Through specific sequencing of asana, pranayama, mudras, and meditations (vinyasa krama), we can visualize (another key ingredient in the tantric system) surrendering anything that no longer serves us, or that we cannot/need not assimilate for optimum living.

As The Doors wrote,

The time to hesitate is through.

No time to wallow in the mire…

ParaYoga logo

You know that it would be untrue

You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher
Come on baby, light my fire.

Come on baby, light my bhuta. Give up the ghost.

My Subtle Energy Vinyasa Yoga Classes often focus on “burning bhuta,” as well as other equally deep, transformative practices. Please come. Hear your soul.

Yoga's Cure for a Lonely Heart

In It's Not About the Asana on October 31, 2010 at 4:28 pm

 

Loneliness is less about isolation from others and missing their would-be love and more a symptom of being disconnected––the same noxious seed for so many other ills of the heart. The solution is to listen to your inner spark that needs no thing and no one to be content. Searching for what no one other than you can heal will only fuel your troubles. Just rest and take your medicine from your heart’s joyful roar.

Yogarupa Rod Stryker