Posts Tagged With: union

Behind every successful man stands a strong woman

Parvati

From Ganesha, Shiva and Hanuman we move to Parvati. Parvati is known to be the most important wife of Shiva. Shiva and Parvati have two sons together Ganesha and Skanda. Together with Shiva Parvati symbolizes the strength to create and destroy. Only Parvati’s presence is enough for Shiva to bring about uncontrollable desires. Parvati symbolizes the marriage and the well behaved wife. She is also the goddess of beauty and often symbolized with beautiful round curves and full features. Parvati, like Shiva is known in many different forms: Durga (the brave goddess) and Kali (the black goddess) are well known incarnations. Parvati has to watch how Shiva easily plays adultery on a regular basis, but he always returns to Parvati.

Prana shakti

Parvati represents our longing to unite in the form of a romantic relationship, as well as to unite/connect with our own essential nature, a vibration we can call consciousness or the “mother energy” that holds everything together. This energy vibrates and pulsates and is also called prana shakti or life force. Through the practice of yoga especially meditation we can reunite with the prana shakti in us and around us. We can recognise and see the prana shakti in the cycles of the moon, the seasons, the rhythm in our ocean tides, the cycle of day and night and the sparkle in the stars. In our bodies the prana shakti is experienced with the blood running through our veins, the beating of our heart as well as the continuous cycle of the inhale and exhale. It is that energy that brings about continuous movement in our bodies, conscious and unconscious movements.

Power of the breath

Our ever present breath represents this ‘mother energy’ or prana shakti and is the life force that keeps us alive. Through our breath we can actively influence our nervous system and thereby affect the way we feel emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Our breathing is such a normal, regular, automatic activity and at the same time such a powerful tool in many ways that goes beyond words. It brings me back to that time I was in the midst of giving birth to my first son and the focus on my breath was the only grip I could hold on to. I went into a meditative state is what the midwife later wrote in her report. Luckily I had my mum (an experienced yogini and mother of four) nearby and guiding me with breathing when the moment was there to push. She reminded me to relax my jaws (something I remind my yoga students of all the time, but forgot to do myself in this intense experience) and there he was and he took his first breath! Magic has happened yet once again. In an instant I became mother and my mother became a grandmother. The ‘mother energy’ that all gives us life and keep us living.

Parvati and Shiva reunited

Prana shakti is a reminder that everything is constantly moving and changing. All is coming and going. This realisation is a way to connect with the life force within us. In our patriarchal society, humans often feel more like rocks and we have lost the sparkle in own eyes, we have forgotten about the passions we had as children and we are unable to connect with the flow in us and around us. Being in nature, moving, dancing, meditating and practicing asanas are all ways to connect with the prana shakti. I think the world could use some more softness, compassion and love that comes with a more matriarchal society. In many cultures and countries women are honoured for their ability to give birth. For example within the Maori culture in New Zealand, but also in the old cultures in Europe before other religions took over. It is not without reason that we call our planet mother earth and the connection of a mother to her child(ren) is unbelievable powerful and based on unconditional love. Some say that man might have been intimidated or jealous by the power of women and therefore try to repress this female energy. We all know the saying: behind every successful man, stands a strong woman. Prana shakti or parvati doesn’t imply that woman are superior over man. This female energy (parvati) when reunited with the male energy (shiva) creates a healing and creative magnetic energy in us and on the earth. We all have the shiva and the shakti energy within us. It is our invitation to connect, accept and embrace both of them. It is my belief that this will bring more balance and healing on our planet. When practicing yoga, you can invite both the female (yin, softening, receiving, cooling) and the male (strength, power, heat, yang) into your practice. I truly believe when you can connect with your own true essence or your prana shakti, it is also easier to connect on a deeper (romantic) level with another person and experience union.

Pregnant with my second son embodying the so-called mother energy (2017)

 

 

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Confessions of a White Yogini

More Confessions! Read my latest article on Elephant Journal:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/06/confessions-of-a-white-yogini-jacinta-aalsma/

DSC04058

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Bhoga or Yoga?

Lately, I have been contemplating about the true aim of Yoga. Yoga is HOT and more and more yoga schools are opening their doors. You can find yoga in most of the bigger fitness school, community centres and schools. The benefits are acknowledged and yoga is recommended by doctors, physiotherapists and osteopaths. Great, isn’t? Yes, it is and at times only the asana aspect of yoga is being presented. Yoga teachers basically become asana or posture teachers.

So what are we missing? It is worthwhile to study the concept ‘Bhoga’. ‘Bhoga’ is a Sanskrit word meaning; enjoyment or an object of pleasure. If the senses are directed outwards, they are attracted to objects and follow the path of bhoga. Yoga means to yoke or to unite, to become one. A yogi transforms bhoga (the enjoyments of earthly experience) into yoga (a path of Enlightenment).The direction of the senses is changed so that they turn inwards.

If you practice svādhyāya, you read your own book of life and at the same time you write and revise it. This can lead to realization that all creation is meant for bhakti (adoration) rather than for bhoga (enjoyment). That all creation is divine and that there is divinity within yourself and that the energy which moves you is the same that moves the entire universe.

So yoga is not about having fun?! Do you have to choose between bhoga and yoga? You can calm down your confused mind, since they are complementary rather than conflicting. It is all about balance and the essential duality you are surrounded by in life. It’s not about right and wrong, both are there and have value.

Yes! You can have fun while practicing yoga (asanas). If you focus solely on gaining physical strength, you are more a bhogi than yogi. Since you’re focused on a materialistic aspect which will give you only temporary happiness. A yogi aims to still the mind through asana, as well as through the other 7 limbs. Enjoy!

enjoyment-levensvreugde

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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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Find Love in unexpected places

While I tried to calm my overactive mind by a stroll along the beach, I was happily surprised by the following:

Let Love find you

Let Love find you

What a beautiful present! I felt much better straight away about my decision to go for a walk and my guilt started to disappear slowly. Guilt about not applying for jobs, studying my yoga Teacher’s Training course preparations, writing blogs or other useful tasks. At the same time inspiration arrived for my next blog. Once again I learned that relaxation is beneficial in a lot of ways.

This little sign of love brings me to Bhakti yoga, also called the yoga of devotion or love. The Sanskrit word bhakti is derived from the verb root bhaj, which means ‘to belong to’ or ‘to worship’. Bhakti can be translated into devotional service or pure love. Within this yoga style, your personal relationship with God and emotional fulfillment and wellbeing are your focus points. It is the way towards realization and union of the individual with the universe or the Supreme Soul through acts of love and service. Bhakti yoga leads to the same destination as all the other branches of yoga, but is especially suitable for those who are emotional in their nature and have feelings of love and devotion highly developed. In terms of the five principles of niyama, bhakti yoga is Isvara pranidhana; surrender of one’s actions and one’s will to God. Through practice you can reach a higher state of intelligence and that makes you lose the identity of the self, you become one with God.

Above all, love is the most fundamental drive of every living entity. You cannot be happy without satisfying your desire to love. So let’s LOVE today on Valentine’s Day!

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The Sahasrara Chakra

The seventh and last chakra is the Sahasrara chakra or the ‘crown chakra’. This chakra resides at the crown of the head and connects you to higher consciousness and pure awareness. The Sanskrit word Sahasrara means ‘thousand fold’ and therefore this chakra is also known as ‘Thousand Petaled Lotus’. This lotus burst open when you remember your true nature and experience enlightenment. The crown chakra is the foundation of your spiritual body and links you to the highest spiritual consciousness. This chakra relates to spiritual will, inspiration, idealism and intuitive knowing. It is about integrating your consciousness and subconsciousness and living in the NOW. The associated glands and body parts are the pineal gland, brain and central nervous system. The element of the seventh chakra is thought or cosmic consciousness. This cosmic consciousness can feel like an ultimate intelligence and a sense of all knowing. The associated colour can be violet or white, a combination of all colours. This is in line with the chakra as an integration center of all the other chakras.

A white lotus, the symbol of the crown chakra

A white lotus, the symbol of the crown chakra

A blocked Sahasrara chakra

A blocked crown chakra can result in the following physical and mental problems: diseases of the muscular system, skeletal system and the skin, depression, chronic exhaustion, headaches, coordination difficulties, poor balance and clumsiness, sensitivity to light, sound or the environment. Emotional issues related to an out of balance seventh chakra can be; lack of purpose, loss of meaning or identity, trust, selflessness, lack of devotion, inspiration, values or ethics. If you have a closed crown chakra, it is highly likely that you are unable to live in the present and unable to gain closure on unfinished business. You always seem to be either revisiting your past or looking ahead to the future. You are normally confused and have no purpose in life. You may live on poor quality food, exhaust yourself and are probably ignoring your bodily needs. Fear of religion or spirituality and frustration can also be experienced. There is little joy in your life and you are afraid of things that cannot be understood with the physical senses. It can lead to unwise decisions, unhappiness and a sense of indecision. You can feel alone and separate and feel cut off from spirituality. An excessiveness in the seventh chakra can appear as being overly intellectual and feeling superior to other human beings. It can be described as ‘being in your head’ and you may possibly show some hysterical, psychotic and/or manic-depressive behaviour.

In the Here and Now

In the Here and Now

Yoga and other stimulants

There are different ways to balance your crown chakra for example through prayer, (chakra) meditation or colour and sound therapy. The Tibetan Bowl creates sounds that can help you to achieve a balanced seventh chakra. In terms of nature, viewing mountain tops can be helpful. Supporting yoga poses to balance this chakra are Padmasana (Lotus Pose), Salamba Sirsasana (Supported headstand) and all meditation poses. Since meditation is the yogic practice for this chakra, it clears and quiets the mind and connects you with the higher self. A daily head massage is also a good method towards balance of the crown chakra. In addition, you could focus on your dreams and write down your visions. You could also consume violet foods and drinks, wear violet clothing and use violet oils such as lavender or jasmine essential oils. Foods that can help to open up the seventh chakra are foods that generate space, for example raw green veggie juices. Moderate fasting can also activate the seventh chakra. One of the most important elements of physical, emotional and spiritual health is being inspired by your own life and live in the present moment.

Tibetan Singing bowls

Tibetan singing bowls

Balanced crown chakra

If your crown chakra is balanced, you are released from ego driven desires and you are able to trust in your highest guidance. Your sense of empathy and unity expands and your consciousness raises. You can experience another person, place or object as if you are inside of them or as if you are ‘being’ them. You will have wisdom, trust, selflessness, humanitarianism and the ability to see the bigger picture in a spiritual life. You feel calm, deeply at ease and fully aware with a gentle and compassion nature, free of worry. You show the ultimate goal of every human being: inner peace and satisfaction. You are truly in the present moment, living in the ‘Here and Now’. You reach a state of ‘being’, rather than a state of ‘doing’. There is no longer a sense of division, the macrocosm becomes the microcosm and all is in unity and you are in optimum balance. Compassion is the main sense that develops if you crown chakra opens. This ‘crown compassion’ is more about perception and communication, compared to ‘heart compassion’ which is more about emotions and empathy.

Union or Yoga

If all your energy centers are open and balanced, all selfish desires disappear. You are grounded, grateful, peaceful and visionary. By opening your crown chakra, you have reached the highest state of consciousness. Through firm grounding into the earth (first chakra), opening up your creative energy (second chakra), manifesting your dreams in the world (third chakra), opening your heart (fourth chakra), expressing your true voice (fifth chakra) and connecting with your inner knowing (sixth chakra), you are finally experiencing total unification or yoga by activating the seventh chakra.

Compassionate communication with lightness

Compassionate communication from the heart and with lightness

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Samadhi

The final limb is samadhi, a spiritual state of consciousness. Samadhi means ‘to bring together, to merge’. It refers to absolute bliss, in which you and the universe are one. In this state your body and senses are at rest, as if asleep, yet your mind is aware and awake. You have gone beyond time, space and individuality. In this effortless state, you connect with your essential nature. There is only the experience of consciousness, truth and joy. You can compare it with an individual wave settling down and experiencing the unbounded ocean.  

Yoga means union of body, mind and breath. That union alone can bring amazing results. However, there is a higher level of meaning: the union of the thinking mind with the universe or cosmic intelligence. Patanjali defines yoga as ‘the complete settling of the mind’. The results of that, according to the Yoga Sutras, is bliss-consciousness. The bliss of this state eliminates the possibility of any sorrow, great or small. Like no darkness can pierce into the bright light of the sun. You realize that you are a spiritual being having a human experience and not the other way around. In samadhi, you have achieved union and you are in perfect harmony with the ever changing flow of life. You are still acting as an individual who lives it’s life and conducts daily activities. However, you act from the level of your highest self and realize that there is no separation between you and the rest of the universe. According to Patanjali you are always capable of experiencing samadhi, any moment you can become whole and fully present. Required is a willingness to learn and a deep intention to grow as a conscious human being and to live fully in the present moment. It seems like that we need the journey (of yoga) to discover our true being or our true essence. The eight-fold path provide the roadmap for realizing samadhi.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
–T.S. Eliot –

 

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