Posts Tagged With: spirit

Namaste

Most yoga practitioners and/or India-lovers have come across the greeting or prayer: Namaste. I love to end my yoga sessions with ‘Namaste’ while bringing my hands together in front of my heart and bowing my head. In India it is used as an everyday greeting such as ‘Hello, How’re you?’ So what does it mean precisely? It is a Sanskrit word with Nama meaning ‘bow’, as meaning ‘I’ and te meaning ‘you’. Therefore the literal translation is ‘I bow to you’. The deeper spiritual significance refers to the belief that the life force or the divinity in me and in you is the same in all. If you use the Namaste to greet another person, you acknowledge this oneness or union with the meeting of the palms for the chest and you indirectly express:

  • The best and highest part in me greets the best and highest parts in you.
  • Your spirit and my spirit are ONE.
  • The light within me honors the light within you.

The bowing down of your head can be considered as a gracious form of extending friendship in love, respect and humility.

 Ram Dass states it beautifully: “I honor the place in you where the entire Universe resides. I honor the place of love, of light, of truth, of peace. I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.”

For me, this one word brings together the true meaning and purpose of yoga. It implies letting go of all our identification layers or ego patterns, instead we connect with each other on a more authentic level. We see and meet the very best in ourselves and in others. We acknowledge that we all look different and act differently, but we are the same deep inside or on a spiritual level. This realization brings me to a peaceful state; we are all humans and all connected and all having the same love inside us. We all would like to love and to be loved.

As a human, I make mistake and I not always act like I would like to act afterwards. I judge people from the outside and forget about our oneness. It can be challenging to see the good in everyone, especially if others are confronting and challenging you. Yoga can bring you back to that place of peace and bliss, time after time. You receive a second chance to start fresh, again and again. At the same time remember to acknowledge your own light and divinity.

 

Namaste

 

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A – U – M………..

Do you end your yoga class or practice with the ‘Aum’ now and then? How do you feel about it? Do you feel awkward and inhibited while chanting the sacred sound Aum? Or is it part of your standard yoga practice and do you feel incomplete without it?

Either way, it is interesting to know more about the Aum. Personally, I quite like chanting and I don’t have any problems with inhibition or awkwardness. As a teenager while in my mother’s yoga class, I was always curious how long I could make my ‘Aums’. For some reason, the chanting brought me in contact with something deeper, something steady, still and strong.

Aum is the most sacred of holy words, the supreme mantra and symbolizes and embodies Brahman, the Absolute Reality. According to the Hindu and yoga philosophy, Aum is the primordial sound from which the whole universe was created. Another word for Aum is pranava, which means ‘the best praise or the best prayer’. The Aum mantra is constantly repeated in unison with the breath and the purpose is to become free from suffering and limitation. The symbol AUM is composed of four elements: the first three are vocal sounds: A, U, and M. The fourth sound, unheard, is the silence which begins and ends the audible sound, the silence which surrounds it.

  • The letter ‘A’ resonates in the center of the mouth and symbolizes the conscious or waking state. This is the level of mechanics, science, logical reason and the lower three chakras.
  • The letter ‘U’ transfers the sense of vibration to the back of the mouth and symbolizes the dream state. This is the realm of dreams, divinities, imagination and the inner world.
  • The letter ‘M’ is created while humming with lips gently closed and resonates forward in the mouth and buzzes throughout the head. This sound represents the dreamless sleep state of the mind and spirit. Only pure consciousness exists.
  • The entire symbol stands for the fourth state, which combines all these states and transcends them. This is the state of Samādhi.

The three letters A, U and M also symbolize the absence of desire, fear and anger, while the whole symbol stands for the perfect man, one whose wisdom is firmly established in the divine. They represent the three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter and the three tenses – past, present and future – while the entire symbol represents all creation together with the Creator.

The symbol AUM

The symbol AUM

Categories: Chakra, Inspiration, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yoga of the Heart

My mum's beach yoga class

My mum’s beach yoga class

If I tell other yogis that my Mum is a yoga teacher, most of them are keen to know what kind of yoga she is teaching. “A mixture of different types of yoga; Hatha, Raja and Dru Yoga among others, as well as her own ideas and creativity in regards to Yoga”, is what I often reply. My mum recently told me that her kind of approach to yoga can be called: Satyananda Yoga. Soon after that, I jumped behind my computer to do some research about Satyananda Yoga; honestly I had never heard of it before.

Satyananda yoga, widely regarded as ‘integral’ yoga, is developed by Sri Swami Satyananda Sarawati with the aim of spreading yoga from door to door. Satyananda yoga encompasses all the major branches of yoga, including Hatha, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Raja Yoga. The aim of this integral or holistic approach is to develop and balance all aspects of one’s being – body, mind, emotions and psyche – leading the practitioner towards a more harmonious state of being. Satyananda yoga is often referred to as the Yoga of the head, heart and hands. The head represents intellect, the heart represents compassion and the hands represent action. Yoga is achieved when these three aspects of self are balanced. Satyananda yoga is suitable for everyone; from beginners to advanced yogis and does not conflict with one’s social background or religious beliefs. It is an evolving yoga that is grounded in tradition, yet adaptable to the needs of today. In this way the teachings are universal, progressive and inspiring.

At the moment, I’m moving away from going to a lot of yoga classes as a student. Instead, I try to deepen my home practice and my ‘own’ yoga more. A fellow yogini told me the other day: “True yoga, is the yoga done in your own home. In this way you can be aware and focused on your own body, mind and spirit and their needs.” I still love my yoga classes, especially because of the social aspect to it. At the same time, I feel I can develop myself further by listening to my specific needs to still my mind. My wise mum advised me as well to practice yoga at home mainly and maybe go to a few classes a week. The difference between a yoga teacher and a yoga student is that the first one doesn’t need a teacher or yoga class to practice yoga. Slowly I start to embrace a more holistic approach to yoga. As an exercise lover, I am naturally drawn to the physical aspect of yoga. However, at times my body screams for some rest and soothing poses. Also, I can definitely incorporate some more yoga of the heart in my daily life, as my partner would say; Real Life Yoga. If you’re living in Australasia and keen to practice Satyananda Yoga, have a look at: Satyananda Yoga Australasia

Meditator-with-red-heart

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The Anahata Chakra

The fourth chakra is called the Anahata chakra and is sometimes referred to as the ‘heart chakra’, because it resonates in the heart and relates to compassion and love. Anahata means ‘stillness’ or ‘unhurt’ in Sanskrit. This name implies that deep beneath our personal stories of brokenness and the pain in our heart, wholeness, boundless love and compassion reside. When the fourth chakra is flowing and open, you feel deeply connected to everyone in your life and feelings of compassion arise. This fourth energy center governs intuition and love. Glands, organs or body parts associated with this chakra are the heart, thymus, lungs, chest, arms, circulatory system, shoulders, upper back and breasts. The primary colour is green and the element for the fourth chakra is air. The sense for this chakra is touch and the emotion is compassion and joy.

Anahata Chakra

Anahata Chakra

Center of the Seven

The Anahata chakra is a powerful chakra and is referred to as the center of the seven, since there are three chakras above and three below. The fourth chakra lies in the core of our spirit, the center of the body and is directly connected to the third eye and the crown chakra. This chakra is the balance point, integrating the world of matter (the lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (the upper three chakras). Through the heart chakra you open to and connect with harmony and peace. The health status of this center represents the quality and power of love in your life and it is the seat of balance within the body.

Living in your head

If your heart chakra is obstructed, you can experience feelings of loneliness and a sense of alienation. Other signs if you fourth chakra is out of balance can be; feeling sorry for yourself, paranoid, indecisive, afraid of letting go, afraid of getting hurt or unworthy of love. You may live your life mainly in and with your head and not with the heart, with the result of being overly focused on thought and the tendency to cut yourself off from emotions and your body. Physical illnesses related to a blocked fourth chakra are heart attack, high blood pressure, insomnia, asthma, difficulty in breathing and other lung diseases. If the heart chakra is deficient, you may experience feelings of shyness and loneliness. Since the heart chakra is the center of the being, blocks in this center can throw your entire system out of alignment. It can cause emotional detachment, inability to love or show affection or self hatred and loathing. You are not able to connect with other humans, experience self-love or true happiness and intimacy. A blocked heart chakra can lead to despair, jealousy, hate, unrealistic fear and rage. Our lives and intimate relationships will suffer unless you can find a way to connect with the heart center and achieve healing and harmony. Yoga is a perfect method to achieve this.

Opening backbend

Opening backbend

Yoga

For an excessive heart chakra, forward bends are recommended, because they are grounding and foster introspection. Asanas that enliven the heart chakra include passive chest openers in which you arch gently over a blanket or bolster, shoulder stretches such as Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) and Garudasana (Eagle Pose) and backbends or basically any pose that opens the chest. By practicing backbends you develop trust and surrender and you heart opens fully. If you feel fearful, then there will be no room for love and your body will contract. Love can melt away fear and bring joy to your practice. In addition, in many back bending poses the heart is positioned higher than the head which is wonderful to let the mind drop away from the top position and instead lead with the heart.

Bring joy to your practice

Bring joy to your practice

Pranayama

The element for the fourth chakra is air. This air is essential for life as the breath brings oxygen to your cells via the lungs and the heart muscle then pumps the blood throughout the body and thereby giving and sustaining life. Like the element water, air assumes the shape of whatever it fills, yet it is less subject to gravity than water. Air permeates breath and therefore pranayama practice can help to balance and tone this chakra. Basically all forms of pranayama can assist you to use more air, more prana and thereby increasing your vitality and enthusiasm for life.

Love

The challenge of the heart chakra is to remain open and balanced in a world which can be emotionally painful. This center is the place of unconditional love, forgiveness and utter devotion. The most effective and powerful way to open, energize and balance not just the heart chakra but all of your chakras is to love yourself and others. It sounds so easy: allow yourself to love and show compassion towards others, since love is the greatest healer. Though, it is a challenge and obstacle for most of us. Besides love; heartbreak, grief, pain and fear are all emotions that are felt intensely within this energy center. All of us have to deal with disappointment, greed, conditional love of others and loss from an early age onwards. Therefore a deficient or excessive heart chakra is so common. Definitely, learning self-love is an amazing tool to develop and maintain a healthy heart chakra. Remember, that there is a never-ending supply of love in the universe and there to be used in any moment. You can first start with opening yourself up to love by giving your love to others. Slowly, you can learn to treat yourself with love, patience, compassion and kindness and replace judgments with acceptance. Unconditional love can be a creative and powerful energy that may guide and help you through the most difficult times in your life and you can use it to free yourself from your limits and fears. In addition, if you keep yourself in a loving space, you will have a positive and healing effect on your environment.

The true gifts of life

The true gifts of life

Relationships

The first three chakras are the chakras of the self. The fourth chakra is the energy center of relationships and refers to giving and to receiving. To keep this chakra healthy you need to maintain a balance between giving and receiving and in your relationships. It is good to remind yourself that life without other beings would be empty, dull and worthless. It is the love for your family, friends and other people in your life that keeps you here and keeps you going. You could see life as a celebration and a celebration without your loved ones is not complete, but fruitless and aimless. Also, it is just as important to give as it’s to allow yourself to receive. In order to give love fully, you must allow yourself to receive love fully. You can use this beautiful affirmation:

“I am loved.
There is an infinite supply of love.
I love myself and others.
I love everyone.
I invite love into my life.”

Put your heart into it

The third chakra represents fire, passion and personal power. Though, without air, a fire will burn out. In the same way, without heart, you cannot have true will power. Without this passion supplied by the heart chakra, true transformation is difficult. The saying “put your heart into it”, illustrate this beautifully. As said before, the heart chakra is a powerful energy center, since it is the center of all energies and unifies our being as a whole. An imbalance in the heart chakra will adversely effect all the other centers. Therefore a clearing of the heart chakra will improve the interaction of all other chakras. The more balanced the chakras are, the more balanced you will be in all walks of life. With a healthy heart chakra you will approach all situations with wisdom, love and equanimity and you feel compassionate, empathetic and see the good in everyone. Sounds worthwhile to balance your Anahata chakra, isn’t?

Love in the air

Love in the air

Categories: Chakra, Happiness, Inspiration, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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