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There is something in your book, but can i see it done somewhere? Just how do i do the posture flows w/meditation? G. Yoga postures/asanas can be a very effective tool for nondual awakening. my own turning of the page occurred while doing an asana sequence using a meditative inquiry and affirmation. Physical postures (asanas) are what we think of when we hear “yoga”. However, in the YogaSutras of Patanjali, the codification of yoga, of the 195 verses/sutras, only 5 mention the word “asana”. The sutras begin w/“yogas chitta vritti nirodaha” which translates as “yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind”. Swami Venkatesananda in his "Enlightened living (Yoga Sutra of Patanjali)" translates this as “Yoga happens when there is stilling of the movement of thought – without expression or suppression – in the indivisible intelligence in which there is no movement.” Yoga is not about flatter abs, tighter buns, or achieving some advanced posture; it is about stilling your thoughts. It is possible to weave non-dualistic practices into a yoga practice in a powerful process of discovery. To do this, we use sequences of postures done at a pace much like that seen in Tai Chi. In the posture flows (vinyasas) used in this work, the critical components are: a) sequencing of individual postures, b) coordination of breath with movement, c) smooth flow from one posture to the next d) coupling self-inquiry and negations with the breath and movement. In most yoga classes, w/postures done one-at-a-time w/verbal instruction, alignment corrections, getting/adjusting props, etc., there is little opportunity for meditation to arise. The competitive environment w/variations, advanced postures, etc., creates comparison, judgment and suffering/craving - not “stilling the modifications of the mind”. The two posture flows (vinyasas) that we normally work with are derived from the teachings of Krishnamacharya, the developer of much that we now know as "yoga". The very different yoga practices of B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, and his son, T.K.V. Desikachar, were created by these students of Krishnamacharya. i practiced the teachings of these masters (and others), and did teachers' training in a Pattabhi Jois fusion approach @ White Lotus. However, my most useful work was in Desikachar's lineage; i spent countless hours w/Desikachar's senior student Gary Kraftsow including weeks w/him w/Desikachar @ the Krishnamacharya Mandiram in Chennai/Madras. i was even a "model" in Gary Kraftsow's landmark book "Yoga for Wellness".
Posture Flow/Vinyasa 1 These two flows alternately expand and contract the breathing apparatus naturally from inhalation to exhalation with alternating postures. Lifting the arms or stretching the front of the body naturally leads to inhalation; lowering the arms or forward bending naturally leads to exhalation. These flows/sequences should first be done 3 to 5 times. Whenever possible, the eyes should be closed. With the eyes open, we are constantly distracted as we are so heavily visually oriented.
Posture Flow/Vinyasa 2 The breathing process in the flows is important. Inhalation is done in opening postures starting from the top of the chest and exhalation is done in closing postures starting from the belly. This facilitates a “top down” filling/inhale moving from upper chest to the intercostals and then to the diaphragm/belly.
The exhale is “bottom up” emptying from diaphragm/belly to intercostals/middle to upper chest. This initial focus engages and focuses the process of the breath for that half cycle as well as brings attention away from distractions and into the flow of thesequence. It is important that you do the sequences well within your breath and physical capacity. If you are straining to achieve a flow which is beyond your abilities, your breath will be gasping and rough and your movements choppy - your meditative state is lost. If your physical and breathing capacities require some accommodations in postures to do the sequences smoothly, then do them. This may involve bending your knees in forward bends, grounding your knees in upward dog, shortening your stance, etc. you will find what is possible while maintaining a smooth flow. To begin, focus on the breath during the posture flows. Watch the inhales and exhales closely. See if you can find where the inhale starts and where it goes to when it ends. Watch the exhale...where does it come from? where does it go to? Is there a space between inhale and exhale? Watch that space. Are you there when this space is there? As you become proficient in the flows w/smoothly flowing breath, incorporate selfinquiry. IME, the most useful approach is asking “Where am I?” on inhalations. During the inhalations, silently engage your inquiry. Allow it to sink deeply into your consciousness. This is not about getting THE intellectual answer; feel the question deeply within. With time, the inquiry will become more presence or energy than thought, moving into probing the very structure that is the “I”/ego construct. After several sequences, investigate holding postures 3 to 5 breaths, or more, as you are able. If one particular posture feels particularly deep, spend more time there. Next, “not this, not this”, (neti, neti) on exhales, which has been done for millennia as a cornerstone of nondual awakening. As the late Ramesh Balsekar, said, “Negation is the only answer to finding the ultimate truth – it is as simple as that.” Realize that if you can objectify something, you can’t be that; you can’t be the object you observe. You cannot feel the tension in your shoulder and also be that shoulder. On exhalations, notice sensations or thoughts as they arise...mentally repeat “Not this”, or “I am not this”. Open, accept and welcome them with “not this”. Don’t resist or push the sensation or thought away as if you were afraid of it, as that resistance will only strengthen and validate it. Welcoming and acceptance opens the way for it to dissolve, to be absorbed in awareness.
The negations will become a feeling, an energy operating in a deeper space, bringing w/them the implicit question as to whether or not this is really true. As to "progress", can do these simple vinyasas in continuous awareness without having thought streams distract you from the inquiry and negations? Can you be naturally open and aware, just stillness, presence and emptiness throughout a flow? Can you go through a vinyasa without thought? Your asana practice, like your life, can become peaceful and effortless, not through suppression or replacement, but through inquiry and understanding. If you cannot have a still, alert and clear awareness during vinyasas, there is little chance that you will have it in your daily life. The posture flows can be physically demanding, particularly if done rapidly or with many repetitions. Anyone attempting them should be fully aware of their physical condition and capacity for exercise, including but not limited to blood pressure, skeletal and heart problems, etc. If there is any doubt, contact your health care provider. Postures should not be done w/pain; stretching will occur, but if you feel pain, stop. If you only have 10 minutes for your meditation/nondual practice, spend it doing these vinyasas. you will get a much deeper, more useful, and complete practice for however your day unfolds with this than you will in a brief sitting meditation. If you have your own vinyasana flow practice already, just put the meditative aspects into whatever you are doing. As many of you have requested, there is now a youTube video demonstrating these posture flows/vinyasas; "Using Yoga Posture Flows for NonDual Awakening" which you might find useful. There is also much more in my book, Happiness Beyond Thought, which is downloadable.
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