ENJOYING YOGA

On the whole, yoga should be enjoyable and bring you closer to joy. If it isn’t, generally something in your approach to your yoga is out - it has become too intense and has lost the overall direction yoga is trying to guide you toward.

If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t continue doing it! Yoga gives you back what you put in, slowly peeling off the layers that are getting in the way of you experiencing joy. This feeling is like being invited to a better party than thinking.

The essence of the yoga taught at Yoga of Self has been passed down from Bhagwan Nityananda. He was a very powerful yogi who left his body in 1961. He was Rob’s teacher’s guru. The name Nityananda means eternal bliss (Nitya – eternal, ananda – bliss). This bliss is always within, waiting to be expressed. Through effort, over time, yoga elevates your energy vibration, so you can feel the joy of your energy welling up and moving through your entire being.

In yoga, bliss is also described as the unstruck sound in the heart. This means that the vibration in the heart comes from within and exists without any external contact. As your yoga practice progresses the feeling and awareness in the heart becomes subtler and more sensitive so this bliss can be felt from within, independent to anything else. The enjoyment of yoga lives in the journey, slowly training the mind to stop competing and comparing, as those roads lead straight to pain and suffering. To enjoy yoga it is essential to accept yourself as you are then gradually evolve from that point.

ROLE OF THE TEACHER - ROLE OF THE STUDENT IN YOGA

Understanding of Self is gained from the teachings of yoga. The teachers role is to guide a student towards this point of understanding within themselves. The students role is to remain open hearted and open minded towards this guidance.

You should choose your yoga teacher very wisely, as this choice determines what is available to you. The teachings of yoga have originated from people who have studied the human condition in depth, showing why people suffer, how to conquer this suffering and live a fulfilling, happy life. Even if your teacher is the best teacher in the world, you won’t gain much unless you are open to what they have to offer.

The student through their own experiences must test and prove this understanding with non-biased experimenting. They must be willing and able to learn when situations naturally present themselves. This is surrendering to the understanding in themselves. If a student just does what they always do, nothing changes.

Key learning occurs when difficulties arise. At this point the mind will often blame others and want to run away. The approach of an earnest student at this point is “where are the teachings guiding me?” Problems can only be resolved when the root cause is understood and changed. Yoga supports you to enquire within to find the point of understanding, expansion and freedom. If a student is not able to enquire and understand a situation, they should seek guidance from the teacher and again feel into where they are being guided. This guidance may not be what they expected, if it was, then a person wouldn’t need help to find it in the first place.

COMMUNICATION IN YOGA

Trying to win or come out on top in a discussion isn't communication. Communication is transferring and receiving information accurately for the good of the situation.

Communication is an essential part of any relationship. This skill takes time to develop. On one side of communication there is speaking or expressing and on the other side, listening or observing. Yoga gradually realign’s a person’s speech with their thoughts, with their feelings an ultimately with universal truths. Then all levels of speech line up.

The realistic starting point of learning the art of communication in yoga is listening. The initial barrier to effective listening is the internal chatter of a person’s mind, followed by the biased judgements of the mind based on what a person likes or doesn’t like. Just as water flows over a rock, through yoga you learn how to keep breathing a natural full breath while at the same time listening.

‘When I started to breathe freely and look my teacher in the eyes as he spoke it was like entering a different world – the ever changing, unknown present moment.’

For a mature student of yoga, pulling away from a challenging situation is overcome through recognising what is happening and then reinstating a long balanced breath. Taking them from a feeling of contraction to one of expansion. Realistically when you don’t yet understand something, you first need to listen openly. Later when you have the space you can try and make sense of it on your own so the information becomes your understanding too.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SADHANA IN YOGA

Sadhana is a spiritual discipline or path, generally involving both physical and mental practices. These practices are systematic and well organised, designed to more and more take you back to the point of spirit or Self.

The journey within is like digging for water in a well.
Many people dig down through the soft top soil, into the clay then hit rock and realise among other things it requires hard work.
“I’ll stop and go dig somewhere else”.
Again they dig down, hit rock, and go in search of somewhere easier to dig.
So like this they never get down to the water.

It is not to say you don’t do other things, just that this is the direction you are moving in overall.

‘Often when I returned from a holiday my teacher would look at me and smile and say “back on the program.” After years of watching everyone come and go, I began to appreciate just how easy it is to get distracted and end up losing your energy and gain a restless mind.’

Effort is the arrow that hits the target, allowing a person to slowly increase the periods of the day they are flowing with life and are remaining in expanded awareness. The essential part in sadhana that facilitates this transformation lies with the breath. This vital energy that gives life to everything is called prana. It is through watching this prana that you return back to its source, pure and unified. When aware of the breath coming up through the top of the lung and into the head, then back down to the navel, you remain free and level-headed.

This practical sadhana is summed up well with the following yoga sutra;

PRANASAMACARE SAMADARSHANUM  siva sutra 3.22
Evenness of breath brings equality-consciousness

In other words, when the inhale and exhale are balanced a person feels unified with life. When the breath becomes uneven they experience duality or separation.

INTEGRATING FEELING VULNERABLE IN YOGA

No need to feel uncomfortable about lack of knowledge. Ignorance is a prerequisite of being a student in yoga, otherwise you have nothing to learn.

We are all in the same boat, all wanting to feel good. At the mercy of the habits and patterns of the mind, we are vulnerable. To help navigate this journey came the teachings of yoga, providing a stable foundation and clear direction.

Under the navigation and guidance of the framework of yoga the mind will now feel vulnerable in a new way. Aimed at removing ignorance, aversion, attraction and ego, part of the very fabric of the thinking mind feels threatened.

As issues come up that are challenging, the truth is waiting to shine through and shed light on the situation. With an open mind and heart, through yoga we are given the opportunity to go from lack of understanding to understanding. Regardless of past actions, embracing the truth of a situation is all that is relevant in order to learn. Here rests a beautiful thing, with no judgement the yogi is supported by their teacher and fellow practitioners – all in the same situation, sharing the load. Working together with honest effort to personally and collectively find the ability to breath and move through things that are easier avoided.

Having an unbroken yoga lineage is very rare, all connected as one large family sailing in the same direction, uniting vulnerability back into the whole.

BECOMING A YOGA TEACHER

Becoming a yoga teacher will find you, you don't have to find it.

For understanding and caring of humankind there is no better thing than becoming awake and aware of ourselves and of life. The deeper value of a person’s time on the planet is determined by their awareness to act for the good of the situation. Many times I heard my teacher quote his guru – “how you allocate your time and energy determines how you grow.”

‘When I met my teacher at age 24 I had not long returned from fourteen months travelling overseas where I was in pursuit of more freedom in my life. It wasn’t long before I was coming to every one of his classes, as nothing else made me feel as good on all levels.’

As a student of yoga gains more understanding of themselves, conscious behaviour stays with them, gradually uplifting their life. Through example this becomes a gift to others. In fact, any person who has a good understanding of yoga will be teaching in whatever they do, simply by remaining aware and connected to reality and not being swayed by likes and dislikes.

A tremendous amount of work on oneself needs to have been done before being able to remain neutral in the role of a yoga teacher. Realistically a person is only going to put in the necessary time learning if they love it and essentially feel to do it regardless of becoming a teacher. The ironic part is the universe practically decides for you. By receiving so much through yoga, the giving back component will just spill over, fulfilling the real purpose of yoga, to help humanity!