Barbra Brady

Posts Tagged ‘tantra’

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.

The Truth About Tantra

In On Teaching Yoga, Yoga on June 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Tantric Hatha Yoga, that is.

The truth about Tantric Hatha Yoga is, it is not about that. What it is is an extraordinary (and delightful) approach to yoga that is the true “power yoga.” That is, it uncovers the true power of our potential to prosper in every area of life.

My teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker, puts it this way:

As described in the various tantric texts, Hatha Yoga includes the following practices: asana, pranayama, bandha, kriya, mudra, mantra, meditation as well as practices pertaining to kundalini awakening, along with a seemingly endless array of other techniques and knowledge.

Tantra, by providing infinite ways to expand the reach and power yoga, is its most complete and sublime approach. Incorporating the wisdom of ayurveda and the whole of brahma vidya (“supreme science”) or knowledge of the underlying reality, tantra provides a direct and accelerated path to achieving life’s ultimate aims.

Tantra’s core principle asserts that through self-knowledge and the cultivation of our innate power, we can unfold our fullest potential and thus achieve both worldly and spiritual prosperity.

If you’d like to hear more about Tantra, listen in on a panel discussion with Rod and others on Tantra at the January 2010 Yoga Journal Conference in San Francisco. Here’s a link.

I would love to share these amazing practices with you. My classes at Yoga Community in Sonoma are Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:30 a.m. and Wednesday 5:3-7:00 p.m.

Big Sky of Hoarfrost

In It's Not About the Asana, Things I Have Loved on December 29, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Sunday, December 27, 2009.

The drive back from Bozeman, always breath taking, was now spread before me layered, slathered, in hoarfrost. The vast expanse of hoarfrost encrusted-big sky, Wile E. Coyote worthy buttes, and little more than wheat fields, rolling hills, and mountain ranges of all size-persuasions now bound a spell.

My route, Hwy 287 from Three Forks to Helena. Just southeast of Townsend, around 3:00 p.m., it was like I’d been dropped inside a snowglobe…the post-freezing fog crystalized everything. Hoarfrost surrounded me, big sky-wide…

I was in a different universe. At first it was just visual. But as mile after all-alone, awestruck mile rolled away, I found myself (literally…there you are little Purusha!) in a different energetic universe. My teacher, Rod Stryker, tells us that being in nature is prana replenishing, and all important for Pitta balancing.

My energy, soul, and even mind resolute in the knowledge that the world is blissful by nature.

Which is exactly what Tantra is truly about….

The YouTube video was simply a YouTube search…not at all in Montana, and I don’t skate, but still….

in case you had not met the beautiful winter phenomena that occurs in very cold, very dry conditions, after a fog…