Integral Yoga Teachings

Yoga SutrasBeing introduced to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is possibly one of the best gifts of teacher training. If we are willing to explore and try even a few of the principles outlined, we can transform the mundane into the sublime. Take, for example, the “four locks and keys” in Sutra 1:33, or Abyhasa/Vairagyam in Sutra I:12, or Kriya Yoga, Sutra II:1 as well as the rest of the yamas and niyamas, beginning with Sutra II:30. Then study different interpretations and translations and pick apart those texts which resonate with you. Nischala Devi’s, The Secret Power of Yoga, is brilliant in its affirmative and uplifting translation. It offers a heart-opening view of what is possible. It brings the mind into the heart—Om Mani Padme Hum—and reminds us that love and compassion are the tools to create unity consciousness in our community and throughout the world.

At graduation for Teacher Training, Gurudev tells us to “chew.” In the month-long training, there’s much to absorb and it’s only when we’ve finished the training that we hopefully have the time to digest all the many facets of Yoga that we probably never even considered. I recently reviewed Living Yoga, The Life and Teachings of Swami Satchidananda. Right at the beginning, we are inspired to live easefully, peacefully and usefully. We are further encouraged to go deep in our study and practice, so that we are rooted in the teachings of this great science and then, without doing too much, we can be shining examples of Yoga. This is our dharma!

Living YogaBack on September 9, 2009, a time where, throughout the world, there was a uniting of consciousness to envision a shift from (I)llness to (WE)llness. I thought about Gurudev’s statement of “all the ‘mine, mine, mines’, blowing up in our faces!” Our ego is so dominant! (I)llness to (WE)llness—What a concept! It’s a matter of transforming the small self into the higher Self. It’s recognizing our essential Oneness! Also in September, President Obama called for peace and prosperity in his address to the United Nations. Many souls are working for good and harmony as is evidenced in the DVD With One Voice, a documentary featuring Swami Karunananda, which beautifully illustrates that, no matter which path you may follow, love and service are the highest ideals in any tradition. The DVD “2012” is another eye opener. December 21, 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar, the end of the Iron Age and the end of the Kali Yuga.

Some believe that this will be the end of the world as we know it. Others anticipate the second coming of Christ. Still others imagine a time of heightened consciousness. Since our students come to us for different reasons, it is here we as yogis can make a profound impact. When we are grounded in the precepts of our lineage, we radiate a lightness of being that is contagious. It’s the greatest gift we can offer. The thing is: don’t be lazy. It’s so easy to fall into complacency and laziness. (Remember the definition of practice!) We have to be steadfast in our quest to keep joy afloat in the heart and order in our lives.

Outdoor Meditation 2A life in order is a blessing! (I’m reminded of a mother of one of the teacher trainees who was overjoyed that at least her daughter learned to get up at 5:3O a.m.!) Of course there are skeptics, even in teacher training. There are those who believe that you can’t defy gravity. They have not “recognized” that as well as a terrestrial force, there is a celestial force, which is so much more powerful and liberating when you open to the infinite possibilities and determine to put the work in: the discipline, the study and the surrender.

When you make an intention, such as being steadfast on the path consciously, unseen hands appear to direct and guide. It never fails. This is where our unity is perfectly displayed. Its vibration and reflection is of the One. So let us live in alignment with these incredible tools for happiness and freedom, knowing that the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed within. As the Tamil word for God, Kadavul, reveals: Go within. Let us always be grateful and, as Lord Buddha said: “Awake, reflect, watch. Live with care and attention. Live in joy and the light will grow in you.”