Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hatha Yoga Pradipika: How to Practice

Week 2 summary and thoughts for the Hatha Yoga Pradipika reading are up on the facebook page for anyone who wants to read along or comment.

Here are some of my favorite bits from the commentary in this section (Chapter 1 vs 1-16iii):

Believing in one system, following it for a while and then leaving it for another, leads nowhere.”

Environment plays a major role in influencing the results of sadhana.” “Essentially, Swatmarama is saying that the hermitage should be simple, clean, practical and very natural.” “Let us say that for the average person it is enough to have a room set aside and to devote thirty minutes to sadhana every day.

Keep the yamas and niyamas in mind and let them develop naturally.

Good stuff!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hatha Yoga Pradipika: 'Swamiji on Hatha Yoga'

So, I was thinking on a new yoga-related reading project and settled on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.  I had a copy.  I hadn't read it.  ...and I was curious about it.

I wanted to dig a little deeper into the reading though than a quick perusal-and-throw-it-back-on-the-shelf.  So, remembering how much fun it was reading Chogam Trungpa with Owl's group, a couple summers back, I threw out the offer for others to read this with me.  I'm extending the invitation to anyone who reads here to join in reading and/or commenting over the summer

The conversation is being held on the Ashtanga-Yoga-Gainesville facebook page.  You can find a reading/discussion schedule there.

Here's an excerpt of my thoughts on the introduction to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika:

"Swamiji who is responsible for the introduction defines Hatha Yoga as “a preparation for higher states of consciousness”.  He refers to the yogi/sage Matsyendranath who noted that “true meditation” needed preparation and a foundation.  Swamiji seems to be suggesting that the preparation and foundation for meditation can be established through the hatha yoga practices.

It’s interesting to me that “pradipika” means “self-illuminating”.  The title can be translated as “Light on Hatha Yoga”, but I think it also suggests a broader meaning, that the hatha yoga practices themselves are self-illuminating.  As Ashtangis, I think we’ve heard this before.  “Practice and all is coming.”…as in: do the practice and the practice itself will begin to help us distinguish illusion from reality.

Swamiji seems firm on a couple points:
1) Most of us cannot begin to control the mind with the mind

2) Most of us could not handle it if we were able to control the mind immediately when we begin practice.  The body at the gross level and energy at the more subtle levels aren’t able to manage that kind of control—we wouldn’t know what to do with it if it happened.

3) Points one and two are why we begin practice with the body."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Breathe and Move with Attention

Tonight was my last dance class for the season.  Just about every Friday evening, you can find me taking modern dance classes at the studio that feeds our local dance company.  We have the summers off, so no more dance until September.

My teaching bio on my web page says this: "The joy of movement without performance and of meditation in motion keeps her practicing"...and it is very much the truth.

I am not a very coordinated dancer.  I often end on the wrong foot and I'm slow at committing the movement to memory.  The incredible feeling of movement in the body makes up for all of that.

It feels wonderful to move to body, to feel the release of deep stretch, and to feel to steadiness of strength.

Sometimes we make practice too complicated, ask too much from it, and expect too much from it.

Most of us were born with full capabilities to breathe and move.  As children, there was no other way to breathe and move than with full attention to the moment.

On a clear day, practice is just a returning to simplicity.  Breathe and move with attention.