Posts Tagged With: Universe

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!


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Which direction are you going?


In the yoga sutras Patanjali describes two guiding concepts: abhyasa and vairagya as a key to yoga and to gain control of the mind. Abhyasa refers to persevering practice: a spiritual practice which is regular and constantly practices over a long period of time. Vairgaya can be described as non-attachment or abandonment, in particular from the pains and pleasures in the material word. On the surface these two concepts can be seem as opposites: practice requires the exercise of the will or discipline, while non-attachment seems more a matter of surrender. In fact they are complementary within your yoga practice. Practice leads you in the right direction, while non-attachment allows you to continue the inner journey without getting sidetracked into the pains and pleasures along the way. There are basically two directions you can go in live: towards truth and away from truth. Let’s have a closer look.

Abhyasa implies action without interruption or action that is not easily distracted, discouraged or bored. It means cultivating the lifestyle, actions, speech and thoughts, as well as the spiritual practices that lead you in the right direction. Abhyasa is its own catalyst: the more you practice, the more you would like to practice and the faster you develop. Another meaning of abhyasa  is ‘to be present’. This is a reminder that for an effective practice, you should aim to be intensely present to what you’re doing. Eventually, this mindful doing and being becomes part of your everyday life and is present in everything we do. To truly achieve this kind of commitment and constancy, vairagya or non-attachment has to be included as well.

Vairagya can be translated into ‘growing pale’. Our consciousness is typically ‘colored’ by our attachment to objects, other people, ideas or other things. These attachments influence how you identify with others and yourself. Vairagya refers to letting go of the mental coloring, so your consciousness becomes a transparent jewel. This allows the light of your authentic Self to shine through brilliantly without distortion. You will no longer thirst for either earthly objects or spiritual attainments. Another translation of vairagya is release, surrender or letting go. Though, the first step should involve the practice of discrimination: becoming better at discriminating between what actions, speech, and thoughts take you in the right direction and those which are doing the reverse. Gradually, non-attachment can expand to the depth of the subtlest building blocks or gunas of ourselves and the universe, which is called paravairagya or supreme non-attachment.

Abhyasa and vairagya are often compared to the wings of a bird; every yoga practice should aim to include these two elements equally. The persistent effort to realize the goal and a corresponding surrender of worldly attachment that stand in the way. In life as a whole it is important to alternate periods of intense activity and rest. Abhyasa can also be translated into ‘constant exercise’ and vairagya into ‘dispassion’.


Within your yoga practice and within your life it is all about creating a healthy balance. At times you need that extra push to get yourself on your mat or to a yoga class. Other moments some more feminine or soft energy is welcome to surrender to the magical experience of life and yoga. At the moment my focus is on vairagya or to surrender to my life exactly how it is now. Letting go of the need to rush the process and developing more trust in the universe and myself. Aim for more rest in my life and in my yoga practice and above all find and enjoy the peace within myself.

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What is your religion?


Recently, I spoke to a middle aged woman who was genuinely interested in yoga as a health practice. Though, she felt that yoga was interfering with her religion, since she was raised as a Roman Catholic. I felt it was better not to start a discussion about yoga and religion, instead I suggested trying Pilates or Yogalates, a fusion of yoga and Pilates. Some religious leaders actually forbid practicing yoga, but allow their followers to do a stretch class (not mentioning the word yoga); a class focused on the physical practice of yoga or asanas and the lack of any Sanskrit words or links to (other) God(s).

Most yogis would agree with me that yoga is not a religion. I would classify it more as a holistic ancient health practice. T.K.V. Desikachar stated: “Yoga was rejected by Hinduism, because yoga would not insist that God exists. It didn’t say there was no God, but just wouldn’t insist there was.”

Though, yoga has similarities with a religion; for example it involves spiritual experiences and includes a moral code (the yamas and niyamas). So maybe we should classify yoga as a spiritual practice? Honestly, If I’ve to fill in a questionnaire which includes asking for my religion, most of the time I’m hesitating. Am I Buddhist? Or a Hindu? No, I am not. I’m yogi, but that is not a religion. But for me it is my lifestyle and my personal practice. My belief system is based on my inner guru and ‘outside gurus’ who remind me of the universal wisdom. Some bhakti yogis consider ‘Love’ as their religion. At the same time religious people can experience God as Love.

According to Wikipedia; “Religion is an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their ideas about the cosmos and human nature, they tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle”

What do you think? Is yoga your religion? Or are you a Catholic/Hindu/Muslim/Atheist/Jew practicing yoga? Or do you think it doesn’t matter at all?


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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.




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Karma yoga and fame?!

Karma yoga is the yoga of selfless (altruistic) service or the ‘discipline of action’. It is based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism. Karma is derived from the Sanskrit word kri, meaning ‘to do’ and refers to the universal principle of cause and effect. It is the path of doing the right thing and following ones’ personal dharma or life purpose and accepting destiny as it comes. This includes acting without being attached to the fruits of one’s deeds. If you do your work without selfish expectations it purifies your mind.

Karma yoga is performed by right means and does not harm anybody or anything. The so-called ‘doer’ is dropped from the action, since you are a mere tool of the divine. If you practise karma yoga, you’re expressing the unity and the divine, ego plays no part. A karma yoga teacher is aware that the result of the teaching is out of his/her hands. You are an instrument, a servant of truth or love. Unique about karma yoga is the focus on the spiritual and the philosophy behind the process you experience on your mat. Karma yoga can assist you with living your role or dharma in life without actively seeking any remuneration in the shape of wealth, satisfaction or fame.

How do you inspire?

How do you inspire?

Then I start to wonder, what is my dharma or life purpose? I can easily think of aspects of my dream job; freelance writing, teaching yoga, counselling, inspire people. Not sure how, when and where yet. I find it challenging to disconnect this with remuneration. Once I made a vision board about my future wishes and without thinking I wrote down the word famous. Why? Maybe it is a wish to be seen and heard, hidden behind my introverted character. Or a deep desire to accomplish something extraordinary in life. I guess – as long as you are not obsessed with your goals and enjoying ‘the ride’- it is okay to strive for them.

For me karma yoga and the associated dharma means; go with the flow in life. You certainly can have specific life goals and at the same time you’re flexible or willing to change your path, while listening to the dedicated signs the universe provides you with. I am the owner of a strong will and I am ‘blessed’ with an abundance of self-discipline and perseverance. Though, at times these characteristics are not very helpful. I tend to ignore my intuition and I don’t listen to the small signals life throws on my path. Whilst the average person already has decided to take another direction, I am still trying hard to go where my rigid mind thinks I have to go to. Yoga is a perfect way to reconnect with my inner world. Practicing yoga allows me to start fresh – like a beginner – with learning to listen and follow my breath. This rhythmic flow of the inhalation and exhalation teaches me to flow more with life and brings me to undiscovered places. I realize once again how wonderful and subtle life is.

Life flow chart

Life flow chart

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Sanskrit – the yoga and ancient language from India

If your yoga practice starts to deepen, for sure you will come across Sanskrit: the oldest language known to man. During my regular yoga classes I have learned several Sanskrit names for commonly practised asanas (poses). For example: Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose). With my Yoga Teacher’s Training coming up, I’m keen to explore the Sanskrit language more and expand my knowledge.

A dead language

The connection between Sanskrit and yoga has existed since yoga’s beginnings in India. The language has remained crucial in the practice of Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands years. Patanjali’s foundational texts, the Yoga Sutras, were written in Sanskrit, as well as the Vedas, the universally accepted first scriptures of humanity. Nowadays, Sanskrit is considered to be a ‘dead’ language to many, since it has ceased evolving. Although, it is still spoken by many people all over the world and is acknowledged as one of the 22 official languages of India.

The Devas

Sanskrit is even considered to be the origin of language itself. All languages have in some way arisen or evolved from this ancient language. In addition, numerous important works including classic literature and historical texts in the great sciences of astrology, astronomy, medicine, architecture and the physical sciences were written in this ancient language. In India it is believed that Sanskrit is the language of the Devas (Gods). In the 17th century the Western world began to take intellectual interest in Sanskrit and many scholars started to translate classical texts into English and other Western languages.

The perfect language

It is believed that the language of Sanskrit itself arises from the ‘root sounds’ or vibrations of the Universe. The various vowels and consonants of the Sanskrit language represent these root vibrations, also know as bijas. A Sanskrit word is not merely a word chosen to name something, but an actual reflection of the inherent ‘sound’ of that object, concept or phenomena. Therefore, the perfect pronunciation of a Sanskrit word can replicate the essence of that which it is referring too. The Quantum physics clarifies and confirms this, because it has revealed that everything consists of vibration and the primary essence of any object or phenomena could be thought of as its own unique pattern of vibrations. Sanskrit is for this reason referred to as the ‘perfect language’.

Sanskrit Journeys

As a yoga student, I think it is helpful to have an understanding of the Sanskrit language. It is even essential to have knowledge of Sanskrit to study the ancient scriptures and thereby get to know the depth and profoundness of yoga. Since only a fraction of the ancient scriptures has been translated into our contemporary languages. For now, I keep on expanding my Sanskrit knowledge through yoga DVDs, books and yoga classes. During a yoga class I silently repeat the Sanskrit word after I’ve heard my yoga instructor say the name for the pose I am practising. As for learning any new language, repetition is important. You will also realize there are common words which are added at the beginning of poses like ardha (half) in for example Ardha Chandrasana (Balanced Half Moon), urdhva (upward) in Urdhava Makha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) and adho (downward) in Adho Mukha Svansana (Downward Facing Dog). I’m definitely keen to deepen my Sanskrit knowledge. Please feel invited to share you personal Sanskrit journeys.




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