PADMASANA or the Lotus posture is the classic yoga meditation pose, where the spine it’s straight the eyes are down to the gaze point know as nasagrai, the focus is drawn inward towards breathing and the bandhas.
Ashtanga Yoga means “eight limbs of yoga.” These limbs are defined in the the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and comprise the foundation of the Ashtanga Yoga philosophy.
Asana is the 3rd limb of the 8 limbs, however today, when many people say “Ashtanga” they are often simply referring to Asana, which is the physical sequence of postures as taught by Sri. K Pattabhi Jois.
The following are the 8 practices or limbs:
1. yama / or moral restraints / how we relate to others
2. niyama / observances / how we relate to ourselves
3. āsana / posture / how we relate to our body
4. prāṇāyāma / breath extension / how we relate to our breath or spirit
5. pratyāhāra /sensory withdrawal / how we relate to our sense organs
6. dhāraṇā /concentration / how we relate to our mind
7. dhyāna /meditation / moving beyond the mind
8. samādhi /meditative absorption / deep realization and inner union
What are the Yamas?
The Yamas or the first limb, consists of five parts:
- ahimsā / non-harming
- satya / truthfulness
- asteya / non-stealing
- bramacharya / focus of energy towards the divine
- aparigraha / greedlessness
What are Niyamas?
The Niyamas also contain 5 aspects:
- śauca / purity
- santoṣa / contentment
- tapas / purifying practices
- svādhyāya / self study and the study of sacred texts
- Īśvara praṇidhāna / surrender to the divine
What are Asanas?
The Āsanas we practice and teach have been given to us by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois called Guruji. He believed it was necessary to enter into the eight limbs of yoga through the physical postures, the third limb.
External and Internal Yoga
The first four limbs are referred to as “external yoga,”and the last four limbs are called “internal yoga.” The fifth limb, pratyāhāra, acts as a bridge between the external and internal limbs.
As students of yoga we are able to actively practice the external limbs, while the internal limbs are the fruits of a sincere and continuous practice.
The final limbs of our practice are manifested through Divine Grace and arise spontaneously. They are not mental states that can be brought about by our own individual efforts. They are the result of fully understanding what it means to completely surrender to something greater then oneself.
The eight limbs of yoga are interconnected, and not separate steps along the path. Whether one starts by practicing the physical postures, breath awareness, or mindfulness in the daily practice of the yamas and niyamas, each limb encourages growth in the other.
As the body becomes steady and at ease, the breath starts to come under control, and the mind begins to experience moments of clarity, and essential peace.
Post by: Francisco Neri Bonilla
Swasthi-praja bhyah pari pala yantam
Nya-yena margena mahi-mahishaha
May prosperity be glorified
May administrators rule the world with law and justice
May all things that are sacred be protected
And may people of the world be happy and prosperous
Yoga Chikitsa (योग चिकित्सा, Yoga Cikitsā) is the Sanksrit (संक्सृत्, Saṁksr̥t) name for the primary series and it can be translated as Yoga Therapy. Therefore this series purifies and heals the body.
The first or primary series forms the basis for all subsequent series. Superficially seen it may seem the easiest of all six Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga series. It is however the most difficult one; it is the series first learnt by every Ashtanga-Yogi; this is where one becomes familiar with the Vinyasa System and gets used to everyday Yoga practice. The following series do not bring anything that is relatively new. Only a couple of new postures integrate into the system one is already familiar with.
Lahiri Mahasaya was born on September 30, 1828, in the village of Ghurni in Bengal, India. At the age of thirty-three, while walking one day in the Himalayan foothills near Ranikhet, he met his guru, Mahavatar Babaji. It was a divine reunion of two who had been together in many lives past; at an awakening touch of blessing, Lahiri Mahasaya became engulfed in a spiritual aura of divine realization that was never to leave him.
Mahavatar Babaji initiated him in the science of Kriya Yoga and instructed him to bestow the sacred technique on all sincere seekers. Lahiri Mahasaya returned to his home in Banaras to fulfill this mission. As the first to teach the lost ancient Kriya science in contemporary times, he is renowned as a seminal figure in the renaissance of yoga that began in modern India in the latter part of the nineteenth century and continues to this day.
Paramahansa Yogananda wrote in Autobiography of a Yogi: “As the fragrance of flowers cannot be suppressed, so Lahiri Mahasaya, quietly living as an ideal householder, could not hide his innate glory. Devotee-bees from every part of India began to seek the divine nectar of the liberated master….The harmoniously balanced life of the great householder-guru became the inspiration of thousands of men and women.”
As Lahiri Mahasaya exemplified the highest ideals of Yoga, union of the little self with God, he is reverenced as a Yogavatar, or incarnation of Yoga.
Paramahansa Yogananda’s parents were disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, and when he was but a babe in arms his mother carried him to the home of her guru. Blessing the infant, Lahiri Mahasaya said, “Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.”
Lahiri Mahasaya established no organization during his lifetime, but made this prediction: “About fifty years after my passing, an account of my life will be written because of a deep interest in Yoga that will arise in the West. The message of Yoga will encircle the globe. It will aid in establishing the brotherhood of man: a unity based on humanity’s direct perception of the one Father.”
Lahiri Mahasaya entered mahasamadhi in Banaras, September 26, 1895. Fifty years later, in America, his prediction was fulfilled when an increasing interest in yoga in the West inspired Paramahansa Yogananda to write Autobiography of a Yogi, which contains a beautiful account of Lahiri Mahasaya’s life.
Kriya Yoga (क्रिया योग) is described by its practitioners as the ancient Yoga system revived in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji through his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya, The definite science of meditation known for millenniums to the yogis and sages of India, and to Jesus, any seeker of God can enlarge the caliber of his consciousness to omniscience to receive within himself the Universal Intelligence of God.”
Wisdom, creativity, security, happiness, unconditional love — is it really possible to find that which will bring us real and lasting joy?
Experiencing the divinity within our own souls, claiming divine joy as our own joy — this is what the Kriya Yoga teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda offer to each of us.
Post by: Francisco Neri Bonilla