Yoga teacher and the students on headstand practice

Headstand is the first basic pose in the traditional Hatha Yoga asana practice.

One doesn’t need to be super strong and flexible to perform headstand.

What allowing one to come into the headstand is both the body and mind is able to be relaxed when coming up into the headstand, while holding the headstand, and while coming down from the headstand, without tension, judgement, comparison and expectation.

What hinders people to come into the headstand and holding it, is fear. The fear of falling, fear of injury, fear of pain, fear of death and fear of the unknown.

Headstand is an effective asana to stimulate and purify the crown energy centre and rendering the mind calm and quiet for meditation, as well as giving many other physical and mental health benefits, if it is being performed with the correct understanding and technique, and without the interference of the egoism.

Although it is a great asana for many people, there are some people are not suitable to practice headstand due to certain physical limitations and health complications. People who don’t have those physical limitations like neck injuries and had performed heart surgery before, and don’t have health issues like serious high or low blood pressure, heart problems, eyes diseases, nose and ears infection, intense nose-blocked or headache, or have been advised by their doctor that they are not suitable to practice headstand for some reasons, but if they have great fear of performing the headstand (fear of falling and injuries), then they also are not suitable or ready to practice headstand yet, until they know how to deal with fear, and not being over-powered by fear. If they have great tension in the body and mind due to intense fear while learning to come into the headstand, it will only bring them more harms than benefits. Otherwise, anyone can practice headstand by learning how to come up into the headstand in a gentle and relaxed manner, and keep practicing until one can stay in the headstand for a prolonged period of time, comfortably. But one doesn’t need to be able to perform headstand in order to be peaceful and compassionate. It’s okay if people can’t perform headstand, or any of the yoga asana poses, due to certain physical restrictions.

Falling, whether during the yoga asana practice, or in life (whether physically, mentally or emotionally), is not something bad or negative. It’s neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative. It’s part of the learning process to allow the mind to be more open and wise. When one learns how to perform the challenging asana poses under a calm and fearless mind, one would be able to remain calm and stress-free when performing any challenging tasks in life under any conditions and situations.

Just like when we learn how to stand up and walk when we were toddlers, falling was merely part of the learning process. But, we continued to learn how to stand up and walk, again and again, no matter how many times we fell. And gradually, we developed the stability and learned how to stand up and walk without falling.

As parents, they do their best to guide and assist the children until they are able to stand and walk by themselves, in their own pace, without being pushy, without judgment, comparison and expectation. This includes allowing them to fall during the learning process before they develop the stability. The children also continue to learn how to stand and walk, again and again, no matter how many times they fall. The parents allow the children to take responsibility for their action and the consequences of their action.

This is the same as when come to teaching, guiding and assisting the yoga students to come into the headstand.

The yoga teacher should have no fear to teach the headstand to the students, and without fear about allowing the students to learn how to fall in a relaxed manner, bringing the risk of physical injury to the minimum. And allowing the students to take responsibility for their action and the consequences of their action. The teacher must endowed with patience and compassion to guide the students coming into the headstand, in their own pace, without being pushy, without judgment, comparison and expectation. Meanwhile, the students should learn how to confront the fear and overcome it, while developing acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, patience, perseverance, forbearance, non-attachment, non-identification, non-judgment, non-comparison, non-expectation, self-awareness, self-control, self-discipline and be free from craving and aversion, during the process of learning and performing the yoga asana poses.

Sometimes, some of the students see other people fall down from the headstand, they might generate fear and worry in themselves towards the headstand practice, even though the people who had fell didn’t hurt themselves, and they didn’t allow the fall to stop them from continuing their practice. One must learn not to be affected by one’s past experience of falling or other people’s falling from the asana poses, and do not let fear and worry to stop oneself from continuing to perform one’s own practice.

Fearlessness is part of selflessness. The one who has fear towards something, is the ego. Yoga is the realization of selflessness – the annihilation of the ego. The practice of headstand is confronting fear and be free from fear. The health benefits derive from the headstand practice are just some side-effects. Practicing headstand against the wall might bring health benefits to the practitioner, but it doesn’t allow the practitioner to confront fear and conquer it, instead, it is running away from dealing with fear.

Whether one can perform the yoga asana poses, or not, it’s really not important at all. Even after many times of practice, one might still unable to perform some or many of the yoga asana poses and might fall from time to time, and it’s fine, just keep practicing. What matter is, the practice of letting go of the egoism and not being over-powered by fear. Do our best, perform all our duties and responsibilities, without attachment towards our action and the result of our action, allowing the result to be what it is.

If the students have great fear of performing headstand and refuse to take responsibility for themselves, then they are not ready yet to practice headstand.

Be free.

Practice yoga of selflessness, attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness…

Many people like to do yoga asana exercises, as the yoga exercises, the breathing exercises, and the concentration while performing the yoga exercises can give many physical and mental health and fitness benefits when being done regularly. The body and the mind will feel good and light after the yoga asana and pranayama practice. The vast variations of the yoga exercises also give some sort of challenges and stimulation to the restless mind that craves to be stimulated and kept interested all the time. Or else the mind feels bored, dulled, depressed, meaningless, void or empty. But all these benefits and effects of performing the yoga exercises are impermanent and they are not the end of yoga practice.

Yoga practice is meant to allow the mind to go beyond all the qualities of name and form, to stop chasing after the objects of name and form, to be free from restlessness, to realize the truth of things as they are, and be free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and thus be free from suffering.

The benefits and effects derived from the yoga asana practice that consumes lots of time, effort, concentration, patience, determination and perseverance of the body and the mind, can help to interest the mind to be busy doing some physical and mental activities that don’t just benefit oneself physically and mentally, but at the same time one won’t have the free time, free body and mind to be engaging in any unhealthy physical and mental activities that can harm oneself or other beings. It is very good even if one isn’t interested in the complete annihilation of ignorance and egoism.

All these benefits and effects are momentary, and don’t guarantee one freedom from ignorance and suffering, if one doesn’t know how to be free from egoism, attachment, identification, and desires of craving and aversion.

The root cause of suffering is ignorance (not knowing the truth of things). From ignorance, there arise egoism. From egoism, there arise attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion. From all these attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, there arise all sorts of impurities and restlessness. From impurities and restlessness, the mind has no peace and perceives suffering.

Most minds want to be free from suffering and have peace, but not many are interested when come to the yoga practice towards selflessness (the annihilation of egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion), attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness.

We can be putting our body in many different yoga asana poses after years and years of repeated practice of all these yoga poses, becoming more skillful and effortless while performing all these yoga poses, but, the mind might still be influenced by egoism and ignorance, it’s not free from attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, impurities and restlessness. The mind is constantly being affected, disturbed, influenced and determined by what it perceives through the senses of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks. There is no real peace which is beyond impermanence, which is not the momentary calmness, peaceful feelings and pleasant sensations that derived from performing some yoga exercises.

There is a common reaction of most minds who love yoga or love to do the yoga exercises – After we manage to perform certain yoga asana poses, the ever restless and dissatisfying nature of the egoistic mind will have this thought about “What next?” and try to do some other more challenging poses or new exercises that it never done before, one after another one. Even after the physical body has come to a point in achieving its highest strength and flexibility, the mind is still wondering “What next?”

By challenging and pushing the body to go beyond its physical limitation, and making the mind feels good doesn’t guarantee one peace and compassion. Peace and compassion has nothing to do with physical conditions and abilities, or the impermanent states of the mind. It is freedom from ignorance and egoism.

The restless mind is never contented with just doing the same few basic yoga poses everyday, which is all that we need to help to balance and calm the mind, preparing the mind for meditation. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what the mind does. It gets bored. It needs new toys, new interests, new stimulation.

Even though the body and mind is busy spending lots of time and effort into practicing yoga asana exercises, years after years, and attaining many benefits of the exercises, but we are not really practicing yoga at all, if we never train the mind to go beyond the qualities of name and form, to free the mind from ignorance, duality, egoism, attachment, identification, intention, expectation, desires, greed, dissatisfaction and restlessness. Instead we keep on trying to satisfy the desires of craving and aversion of the restless mind, keep on feeding and strengthening the egoism of the mind and all its modifications while performing the yoga asana practice.

May all be free, by practicing yoga, not just doing some yoga asana exercises.

Om shanti.

Yoga asana practice?

When we perform the yoga asana practice:-

  • Take full responsibility for our own well-being. No one can force us to be doing something that we don’t want to do. No one can stop us from doing something that we want to do. We don’t have to agree nor disagree with anyone or anything. No one but our own self knows what is going on in our body and in our mind. It is our own responsibility to entrust “somebody”, or “teachers”, or “philosophy”, or “teachings”, or “practice”, and bring ourselves to be performing some “practice”.
  • Let go of the past experiences. Be open-minded for what our body can do and cannot do in the present moment now. Let go of the future anticipation, speculation or expectation. Be open-minded for whatever possibilities that may or may not occur during and after the yoga asana practice, no matter it is something that we desire or don’t desire. Be in the present moment now. Be aware of the reality in the present moment now, and allow the reality to be what it is.
  • Let go of the ego. Let go of try to control or interfere with the reality that our ego doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, to change it to be the way that the ego likes it to be. As what our ego likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, is not necessary the truth of what things really are, or how things should be.
  • Let go of craving and aversion. Do not generate craving or clinging onto the pleasant sensations that arise from certain positions or movements. Do not generate aversion towards unpleasant sensations that arise from certain positions or movements.
  • Let go of attachment and identification with the physical body and the mind. The body is not me, I am not the body. The mind is not me, I am not the mind.
  • Let go of judgment towards the yoga asana practice or the exercises, as the yoga asana exercises or poses are just being what they are, they are neither easy nor difficult, neither beginner nor advance, neither safe nor unsafe. They have no intention nor quality to be something easy or difficult, beginner or advance, safe or unsafe. It is how our body and our mind approach and react towards all these exercises or poses. If an exercise is being labeled as “difficult”, or “advance”, or “unsafe”, it is not the truth. If it is the truth, then everyone who is doing this same exercise will be encountering difficulty and injury, as well as only “advance” yoga practitioner will be able to do it. But it’s not. Some people may find this exercise is not difficult at all and they are not suffering any injuries from doing it, as well as a complete “beginner” yoga practitioner can be performing this exercise comfortably or effortlessly.
  • Let go of judgment towards the physical performance or the ability of the physical body to perform the exercises. As selflessness, unconditional peace and compassion has nothing to do with how fit, or strong and flexible is the physical body to be performing the yoga asana exercises “nicely” and “perfectly”, or not.
  • Let go of comparison with other people or with oneself. We cannot expect ourselves to be having exactly the same physical condition and ability, and the state of the mind as somebody else whom we admire or look up to. As yoga teacher, we don’t say to the yoga students, “If I can do this, you can do this as well.” as everyone has different physical limitation that cannot be denied or ignored. And yoga, peace and compassion is not being attained by imitating the teacher physically or mentally. It’s coming from self-realization of the truth when the egoism and ignorance is eradicated. We can’t compare ourselves in the present moment now with ourselves in the past experiences, as every moment the conditions and abilities of the physical body and the states of the mind are constantly changing. They are different from moment to moment. What our body can do and cannot do is constantly changing. How we feel and the reactions from the body and the mind towards the exercises while performing the same exercises in different practice also will change. It is not about what our body could do or couldn’t do in the past, nor it is about what our body can do or cannot do in the future. It is about what our body can do or cannot do in the present moment now, according to the condition and abilities of the physical body in the present moment now. We learn about impermanence and allow all the impermanent changes to be what they are from moment to moment.
  • Let go of expectation towards the physical performance and the expectation towards the result, or the benefits, or the effects of the yoga asana practice or the exercises. Allow the result, or the benefits, or the effects of the yoga asana practice or the exercises to be what it is. The objective of performing the yoga asana poses is not determined by how strong and flexible is our physical body. We don’t have to be super strong and super flexible to balance the mind, to calm down the mind, and to purify the mind. Even though we don’t know what are the names of the yoga poses, or we don’t know about the history and scientific facts about the yoga asana practice, or we don’t know what is the anatomy and physiology of the physical body, or we don’t know what are the benefits of the exercises, or we don’t expect any of the benefits, the benefits or the fruit will still be there as they are, as we practice. They won’t increase nor decrease, or change into something else, or disappear.
  • Let go of anticipation or speculation about possibility of injuries. Be free from fear and worry. Fear and worry won’t stop injury from happening, but it will increase the risk of injury. We perform the exercises with care and attention, but without fear and worry.
  • Learn to relax while performing the exercises, while coming into yoga poses and while holding the yoga poses. Let go of timing ourselves about how long we need to perform the yoga asana practice, or how many yoga asana poses we need to perform, or how long we need to hold the yoga poses. Allow the yoga asana practice to be natural being performed according to the condition and abilities of the physical body in the present moment now, not according to what we would like it to be.
  • Allow the breathing to be natural. The body will know when to inhale and when to exhale, if we allow the breathing to be natural.
  • Learn to be patient, be persevere, be determine to gradually develop the skill, stamina, strength and flexibility for coming into and holding the yoga asana poses. Forbear or withstand any discomforts or difficulties that may arise during and after the yoga asana practice. Be able to adjust, adapt and accommodate the yoga asana practice that the body and mind is not familiar with.
  • Do our best. Do what the body can do in the present moment now and not pushing the body to go beyond its limitation. Let go of pre-judgment about what the body can do or cannot do. Be open-minded towards what the body can do and cannot do in the present moment now, as the condition and abilities of the physical body is subject to impermanence.
  • Be ourselves. No need to imitate anyone else, nor try to be like someone else, not even our yoga teachers. What other people can do with their body is their capability. What talents and knowledge other people have, is their capability. We don’t have to be able to do everything that other people can do with their body or their mind. How other people think, believe, behave, act and react is their freedom and responsibility. We don’t have to think, believe, behave, act and react like how other people think, believe, behave, act and react, not even the yoga teachers whether they are perfect or not perfect.
  • Accept ourselves as we are. Let go of dissatisfaction towards ourselves nor expect ourselves to be somebody else that we are not. Perform actions that we think will bring improvement, and allow changes or improvement to be happening as it is. Accept all the changes in us or in other people as they are, not necessary the way that we like it to be.
  • Perform the yoga asana practice out of compassion, renounce the fruit of action or the result of the practice. Allow the result or the effect of the yoga asana practice to be there as it is, not expecting it to be the way that we like it to be, or the way that we think it should be.
  • The practice of relaxation is to relax the body and the mind, to release tension physically, mentally, emotionally. If somebody believes in the existence of the soul, then the soul also will be benefited from the practice of relaxation. As anything that is subject to existence, and has a name and a form, they will be affected or influenced by ignorance, egoism, and the qualities of names and forms, and thus it needs to be purified, or to be healed. If the body, the mind, or the soul has some “damages” or “pain” that need to be healed, then naturally they will be healed eventually, even without any awareness nor intention coming from the ego. As all the “damages” and “pain” are caused by ignorance and the ego itself, and nothing else. If we truly want to heal the body, the mind, and the soul effectively, all we need to do is stop hurting ourselves, or stop causing damages and pain onto the body, the mind, and the soul, by eradicate egoism and ignorance, be free from impurities like craving, aversion, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurts, pride, arrogance, animosity, fear and worry.
  • We don’t need to have any intention to balance the both sides of the body, the body will be balanced by itself as we perform our practice. We don’t need to have intention to be healing anything, everything will be healed by itself as we perform our practice. All these intentions whether good or bad, they are coming from the ego. If we let go of the ego, there is no intention. Allow everything to be what it is. We just do our best. Perform actions, give and let go.
  • Our true nature is beyond existence and qualities of names and forms, beyond name and form, beyond birth and death. It doesn’t need to be purified nor be healed, nor be benefited from the practice of relaxation. It is untouched by good or bad Karma. It is not important whether the physical body can perform the yoga asana poses perfectly or not. Realize our true nature and be free.

Our true nature is not affected, nor disturbed, nor influenced, nor determined, nor contaminated by the condition and ability of the physical body and the states of the mind, and the actions and inactions derived from the egoism. Our true nature is not affected nor influenced by ignorance, egoism, and qualities of names and forms. It doesn’t need to be benefited from the yoga asana practice. It’s the body and the mind that experience suffering, that needs to be purified through the yoga asana practice, to prepare the mind for meditation to know the truth of suffering, and be liberated from suffering that derived from ignorance and egoism.

Yoga asana practice is meant to be releasing tension and not generating more tension into the system. It is meant to be weakening the egoism and not strengthening the egoism.

Relaxed, and not stressed out physically and mentally by trying to perform the exercises perfectly, or try to perform the exercises just like everyone else. We can be doing the same exercises but we might not look the same due to the different physical conditions and limitations that we have individually. Not everyone can do what other people can do with their body. It’s okay, because we don’t have to be able to do what other people can do, to be free from ignorance and egoism. Being able to do what other people can do with their body, doesn’t guarantee us to be free from ignorance and egoism, nor will give us liberation, peace and compassion.

Yoga asana practice is a tool for the mind to attain liberation, be free from suffering that derived from ignorance and egoism. It is about elimination of the egoism and ignorance. It is not so much about being a fitness training or physical exercise to achieve physical and mental benefits, and the body and the mind will feel good after the practice, although there is nothing wrong with all these by products or side effects coming from the yoga asana practice.

It doesn’t mean anything if our body can perform all the yoga asana poses perfectly, but our mind is still influenced and determined by ignorance and egoism, being attached to the qualities of names and forms possessed by the body and the mind to be who we are, being attached to the worldly image, egoistic desires, thinking and beliefs, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements in the mind, being restless and disturbed by impurities like craving, aversion, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurts, pride, arrogance, agitation, depression, fear and worry.

Om shanti.

Who is feeling happy and unhappy?

It is the mind who feels happy or unhappy. It’s the mind who wants to feel happy and be happy. It is the ego reacts towards what it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, that generates happy feelings and unhappy feelings in the mind.

If the mind gets what it likes and agrees with, it feels happy. Or else it doesn’t feel happy or it feels unhappy. And so, the mind has craving towards the objects that it likes and agrees with.

If the mind gets what it doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, it feels unhappy. And so, the mind has aversion towards the objects that it doesn’t like and doesn’t agrees with.

If we attached and identified with the egoistic mind strongly, and thinking this body and mind is ‘I’, then when we attend a yoga asana exercise class that is only about fitness training, physical strength and flexibility, without implementation of the teachings of yoga about non-attachment and letting go of the ego, craving and aversion, and etc, then this type of yoga asana exercise class will be something fun and enjoyable activity for the mind.

By doing the yoga asana exercises that the mind likes to do, and the body is able to do, can make the body and mind feels good and happy during and after the practice, for a period of time. Yoga asana teachers or instructors who are leading the yoga asana exercise class usually give the people what they want that will make them feel happy and feel good about themselves. They try not to give the people what they don’t want that will make them feel unhappy or don’t feel good about themselves. The yoga asana teachers try to make the yoga students ‘happy’ by giving them ‘what they want and like’. But this is really not what yoga practice is about.

It is like giving sweets to the children, it will make them happy, but we know that it is not good for them.

Yoga practice is stop giving the mind what it likes and wants, but train it to let go of craving towards what it likes, and let go of aversion towards what it doesn’t like. Restricting the outgoing mind from chasing after momentary satisfaction and happy feelings that comes from getting what it wants and not getting what it doesn’t want, and turning the mind inward for self-introspection, or reflection, or meditation.

Just by chasing after the impermanent good and happy feelings coming from performing some yoga asana exercises that our egoistic mind likes to do and the body is able to do, doesn’t give us liberation from unhappiness or suffering. As the root cause of unhappiness and suffering, which is the attachment towards the impermanent qualities of names and forms, such like attach to pleasant sensations and good feelings, and the identification with the egoistic thinking mind and the impermanent condition and abilities of the physical body, is still there, even though the mind feels good and happy by getting what it likes and wants.

Having the strong identification with the egoistic mind, when we attend a yoga class which emphasize on the teachings of yoga about non-attachment and letting go of the ego, letting go of the idea of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, letting go of the worldly self-image that is based on qualities of names and forms that the body and mind possessed, letting go of attachment towards the condition and abilities of the body and the states of the mind, letting go of attachment towards the conditioned habits, thinking and beliefs in the mind, letting go of craving for pleasant experience, and aversion towards unpleasant experience, letting go of anger and hatred, pride and arrogance, fear and worry, letting go of attachment towards the qualities of names and forms, letting go of judgment, comparison and expectation, and be able to accept everyone and everything as they are, out of compassion, then this type of yoga class will be a very unhappy and unpleasant experience for the mind. There will be lots of resistance and aversion from the ego, as all these teachings is telling the ego to ‘get lost’ or ‘disappear’.

Some people react strongly and get very irritated and angry being in the yoga class where the yoga teachers teach or talk about non-attachment and compassion. As these essential teachings of yoga are something completely the opposite of the nature of the ego and what the mind being conditioned to think and believe what things are.

The ego is strongly attached towards what it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, and generate strong aversion towards something that it dislikes and disagrees with, and will react with annoyance, irritation, agitation, frustration, anger and hatred, especially when the teachings are contradicted with what it was conditioned to think, to believe, to behave, to act and react.

Many people think yoga classes or the yoga asana exercises are here to give people happiness, make them feel good and happy, make them feel positive and develop higher self-esteem or confidence about themselves. But this type of thinking and the intention or motivation that motivate them to do the yoga asana exercises doesn’t really give them true confidence, but only boosting or empowering the egoism, which is the complete opposite direction of what yoga really is about. As it is the ego that wants to feel good and happy. It is the ego that needs to feel positive and have confidence. By making the ego happy and feel good about itself when the body is able to perform certain asana that it couldn’t do before will only give momentary good feelings to the mind, or will tune up the egoistic ‘confidence’ for a few moments, but it is not the true confidence that comes from realizing the truth and being free from ignorance.

If people are not looking forward for liberation, but they only interested in chasing after momentary satisfaction and happy feelings from getting what they want, and not getting what they don’t want, then be happy. There’s nothing wrong with that. Life already has lots of complications that sometimes our mind finds them too much to handle, why not just try to be happy by doing what we like to do, and getting what we want to get, to make us feel happy, even though these happy feelings don’t last long. Some people attain good and happy feelings by being good and do good. That is very good. But there are also people in the world who will do things that will hurt other people in order to get some sort of satisfaction and happy feelings.

There is nothing wrong with ‘want to be happy’. But while we chase after some momentary happy feelings from getting what we want, and not getting what we don’t want, we might generate some actions and reactions that will cause disharmony and harmful effects in oneself and in others.

In yoga practice, we are also striving for happiness, but it’s more likely about realizing our true nature being peaceful as it is, the unchanging, unconditioned and unlimited eternal peace and happiness that is being free from restlessness, unhappiness and suffering that derived from ignorance, egoism and attachment.

This unconditional peace and happiness is not coming from getting what our egoistic mind likes and agrees with, or not getting what our egoistic mind doesn’t like and disagrees with.

In the end, it is up to us, what we want for ourselves in this life existence.

There’s no judgment of right or wrong, appropriateness or inappropriateness in whether we are only interested in conditional momentary happiness, or we are interested in unconditional eternal happiness.

Om shanti.

Anything and anyone can teach us yoga, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a person called a ‘yoga teacher’…

Yoga can be found in everywhere. It is not limited in yoga classes doing some yoga practice. It is in this present moment, if the mind is free from being conditioned by restlessness, impurities and suffering that derived from ignorance, egoism and attachment.

Everything and everyone is a Dharma teacher, exists to teach us and guide us towards liberation. Anything and anyone also can make us see, or realize the ignorance in ourselves, and allow us to contemplate upon the truth.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a human being, or a person who called a ‘yoga teacher’, who is teaching ‘yoga’ in ‘yoga classes’ that can or will teach and guide us towards liberation.

Peace and compassion is not in the yoga practice, but it is our true nature. It’s always there, never increase nor decrease, no matter we realize our true nature or not. It is not contaminated by the good and bad qualities that one possessed through the body and mind. It is not contaminated by the actions and inactions done by this body and mind.

Yoga practice being practiced with correct attitude will help us to realize the truth, but by doing some yoga practice in yoga classes doesn’t guarantee us peace and compassion. It might bring some visible physical and mental benefits to our body and mind. The body will be healthier, and the mind will feel calmer and happier. But these by-products are just part of the effects of the yoga practice that is conditioned by impermanence, as they arise in the body and mind that is subject to impermanence.

The attainment of good condition of the physical body and calmness of the mind through the yoga practice, is not the end of our yoga practice. Although there’s nothing wrong with seeing this as the goal of our yoga practice.

It is going beyond the identification with the good and bad condition of the physical body, and all states of the mind, and realization of the truth via meditation with the calm and pure mind, and the elimination of ignorance and egoism that allows us to realize our true nature, the unconditional peace and compassion.

It is being free from attachment towards the limited thinking and beliefs in the egoistic mind that are conditioned by the likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, craving and aversion from the ego, and be free from being conditioned or determined by the impermanent condition and abilities of the physical body, that allows us to be free from being conditioned by dualities, qualities of names and forms, separateness and discrimination, dissatisfaction and disappointment, fear and worry, pride and arrogance, frustration and irritation, anger and hatred, and all sorts of anxieties, doubts, painful sorrows, restlessness and suffering.

Yoga practice has some elements of Hinduism, but it is not a religion practice. It is not some religious ideas and commandments that we have to abide to, or else we will be judged as ‘bad’ yogis or ‘bad’ beings, and will be punished, or will be condemned to ‘hell’.

Yoga teachers are not here to convert anyone to believe in any religious beliefs, nor force anyone to be practicing yoga in certain ways that we think they should be practicing, nor trying to control or change other beings to behave the way that we think they should behave.

It is not that if we do not practice yoga correctly, or by stop practicing yoga will make us a ‘bad’ yogi, and we will be punished accordingly for not being a ‘good’ yogi.

It is up to us, whether to take up the practice seriously, or not. It is up to us, whether to let go of egoism and attachment, or not. It is up to us, whether to realize the truth to be free, or not.

There is no judgment, or comparison, or expectation, through out the journey, whether we are good ‘yogis’ or not.

No one can force, or control, or change another being to be practicing yoga accordingly to what it ‘supposed’ to be, or to make another one to be free from ignorance and egoism.

It is up to us, whether we want to be free from ignorance and egoism, or not.

It is our own free will and effort to practice, to purify our mind, to let go of attachment, to remove ignorance and egoism, to be free.

No one can remove or take away ignorance and egoism from anybody, but oneself.

No one can give liberation to anybody, but oneself.

If we are free from ignorance and egoism, we will be peaceful, and be free from suffering. We won’t generate action and reaction that will hurt ourselves and others intentionally, if we are peaceful, being free from impurities and suffering.

If we are not free from ignorance and egoism, we will be affected and disturbed, influenced and determined by whatever the mind perceives through the senses, we are not at peace. Without self-control, we might generate action and reaction that will hurt ourselves and others, being over-powered by anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, fear and worry.

That’s all.

This is real compassion. There’s no judgment, comparison, expectation, discrimination, criticism, condemn, or punishment. We are able to allow everything and everyone to be what it is, and accept everything and everyone as it is, even though we cannot agree with them, or it is not how we like it to be.

If we think we are better human beings than those whom we think and judge as ‘bad’ and ‘evil’, or we think we are good and compassionate beings who care for the world very much, we are angry with those who are ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ for their ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ behaviors that inflict suffering onto other beings, we criticize them, and condemn them to be punished accordingly so that they will suffer physically and mentally as what we think they deserve, then we are not any different from them, nor are we ‘good’ and ‘compassionate’ beings.

If we think, somehow we have better understanding of everything than some other people, and we live life ‘correctly’ and ‘healthily’, we are being proud of ourselves for what we think we know and what we do and don’t do, and we criticize others who are being different from us, we think they don’t live life ‘correctly’ or ‘healthily’, and we try to change them to be like us, then we are not any different from those whom we think they are being ‘ignorant’ for not living life ‘correctly’ or ‘healthily’.

We are the same, being influenced and over-powered by ignorance and egoism, even though we try to be good, do good and not doing anything bad, if we ever have any ill wills, or ‘sense of superiority’ towards any beings who is different from us, whom we disagree with, whom we think and judge as ‘ignorant’, ‘bad’ and ‘evil’.

If we are not free from ignorance and egoism, that is already a great suffering in us. There is no need of any additional ‘punishment’ to be inflicted onto us physically or mentally to punish us, if we are not ‘perfect’, or not being a ‘good’ yogi, or ‘good’ human being.

The ultimate meaning of yoga is liberation, or freedom from separateness, dualities, qualities of names and forms, conditions and limitations. If yoga and its practice will be conditioned and limited by worldly thinking and beliefs, be limited by specific rules and regulations, then it is not yoga anymore.

Even though in yoga, we have this teaching about the four basic requisites for us to be qualified as a Sadhaka, which are:

1.) Viveka (discrimination of the real and unreal),
2.) Vairagya (dispassion),
3.) Mumukshutva (intense yearning for liberation), and
4.) Shat-sampad (the six virtues)
a.) Sama – tranquility of the mind
b.) Dama – self-restraint or control of the senses
c.) Uparati – cessation from worldly activities
d,) Titiksha – forbearance or the power of endurance
e.) Sraddha – faith in God, Scripture and Self
f.) Samadhana – concentration or one-pointedness of mind,

but all these requisites have nothing to do with the physical conditions and abilities to perform the yoga asana exercises, or how much Sanskrit we know, or how many yoga courses we have attended, or how many ‘recognized certifications’ we have attained, or whether we can stand on our head, and balance on our hands and feet perfectly, or whether we are Hindus, or not.

If we ever hear this, “To be a good ‘yogi’ or ‘yoga teacher’, one needs to participate in some sort of yoga courses for how many hours, able to be strong and flexible enough to do some yoga asana with the perfect ‘correct’ alignment, able to do headstand or hand and leg balancing pose perfectly, able to chant a few chantings and prayers with perfect pronunciation, and attain some sort of qualifications and certifications that are recognized by such and such international yoga alliance, and we need to have certain ‘professional’ yogi image, behavior and appearance, and so on…” then take it as a good opportunity for us to reflect, and to find out what is the truth.

When we hear this, “You look like a yogi.” or “You don’t look like a yogi.” or “As a yogi, you should look like a yogi.” We allow other people to think and to believe in their own way, to act and react towards what they perceive, but we know that yoga is beyond all the qualities of names and forms.

There might be some people react strongly when they read this. Again, take it as an opportunity to reflect and find out who is reacting, and why?

Om shanti.

Yoga Teachers who teach yoga? Or, Yoga Instructors or Fitness Instructors who teach different types of yoga asana exercise classes?

There are lots of ‘yoga classes’, or more precisely, ‘yoga asana exercise classes’ everywhere nowadays.

It’s very good, as yoga asana exercises are really good for everyone physically, mentally and emotionally.

Although not many yoga classes are being taught in accordance with the traditional lineage of what yoga practice really is about, which is to attain Self-realization, it really doesn’t matter.

Even if majority people are practicing yoga asana exercises regularly to gain some benefits physically, mentally and emotionally (being disinterested in the spiritual part of the yoga practice), it is still a very good pastime wholesome activity for anyone to be participating in. As during those hours of yoga asana exercises, at least we are not participating in any unwholesome activities.

There is no need to compare between yoga teachers who teach yoga to other people, or yoga instructors or fitness instructors who teach yoga asana exercises to other people, as these are two complete different things.

Real yoga teachers don’t really need to be teaching yoga asana exercises to other people, in order to teach yoga to anybody. As peace and compassion is nothing to do with how many yoga asana exercises that we can do, or how good we can perform the yoga asana exercises, or whether we know about anatomy and physiology or not.

Yoga practice is about non-attachment and detachment (letting go of attachment if there is attachment). It is about letting go of the ego, craving and aversion. It is about non-identification with the things that we are not, such like the body and mind. It is about unaffected, undisturbed, uninfluenced, undetermined by whatever the mind perceives through the senses. It is about being aware of reality as it is, and accept the reality in the present moment now as it is. And allow impermanent changes to happen as it is, and accept all the changes as they are from moment to moment, without craving for something that we like which is not here, without clinging onto something that we like in the present moment, without aversion towards something that we don’t like in this present moment. All these are nothing to do with the physical condition and abilities to perform the yoga asana exercises, even though yoga asana exercises can help us to purify and calm the mind, to prepare the mind for meditation.

There is no need to criticize yoga asana exercise teachers, or fitness instructors for not able, or not interested to teach the spiritual side of yoga, as even just by guiding people to be doing some yoga asana exercises everyday to many people who are only interested in gaining a better quality of life through doing some yoga asana exercises, is already a great thing to do. The teachers or the instructors themselves are benefited greatly from giving the yoga asana exercise classes, as themselves need to be doing their own yoga asana practice quite regularly, so that they are able to up keep their skills and abilities in performing the yoga asana exercises, in order to lead other people to be doing the similar yoga asana exercises.

Eventually, as we practice yoga asana exercises regularly, naturally the body and mind is being purified to a certain degree that will allow certain shifts in our consciousness unintentionally, even though in the beginning, we have no interests at all about spirituality, purification and self-transformation. That will bring us to start to be interested to know more about the deeper meaning of yoga and its practice.

Real yoga teachers don’t need to call or identify themselves as ‘yoga teachers’. They don’t need to be qualified, or certified, or recognized by such and such ‘international yoga alliance’. They don’t need to go through any yoga teachers training courses to study yoga philosophy, to learn to do some yoga asana exercises, to learn about anatomy and physiology, to learn some chantings and prayers, to learn how to do some karma yoga, and to pass any theory and practical examinations, to attain one or many ‘certification’ to be graduated as ‘yoga teacher’. They don’t even need to be performing any so called ‘yoga practice’, as they are already free from ignorance, egoism and attachment. They are free from impurities, restlessness, or suffering. They are free from craving and aversion. They realized their true nature which is unconditional love and peace, all wise and compassionate. They are at peace as what they really are.

These nameless and formless beings are sharing this unconditional love and peace with other beings who come in contact with them that need some ignition or guidance to realize their own true nature, to be free from ignorance and egoism, without intention, without attachment, unconditioned and unlimited by time, space and causation. Their natural action of sharing the knowledge of yoga is beyond names and forms. This compassionate action of sharing the knowledge of yoga with other beings without intention nor attachment, is not different from being actionless, actions that are not bound by cause and effect, that won’t generate good or bad karma, and is free from birth and death.

Any beings, any things, any happenings that are good or not good, agreeable or disagreeable to us are our yoga teachers, when it allows us to see the ignorance and egoism in us, to allow us to reflect upon the truth.

So, whether Yoga Teachers who teach yoga, or, Yoga Instructors or Fitness Instructors who teach yoga asana exercises, are all good.

If we ever feel disappointed in those who we think they are ‘yoga teachers’ but they are not as perfect as what we think they should be, know that that disappointment is coming from our own expectation, expecting ‘yoga teachers’ should be perfect like ‘God’, as there are not many ‘yoga teachers’ are perfect and are free. There are many people are just ‘yoga instructors’ or ‘fitness instructors’ who teach yoga asana exercises only.

Most important, there is nothing wrong for being imperfect, or is not free yet. Everyone is being there for each other, helping and supporting each other to move towards Self-realization, that’s all.

Only those who haven’t realized the truth yet, will be seeing all the different qualities of names and forms in others, and seeing the defects or imperfections in beings who are not free yet, and generate agreements and disagreements, and have frustration, disappointment, or dissatisfaction in themselves, constantly being affected and disturbed by other people’s actions and inactions, or generate aversion and discrimination towards others whom they disagree with.

Those who know the truth, only see the one true nature in all beings which is unconditioned, unlimited, undetermined and uncontaminated by the different qualities of names and forms possessed by each individual, nor be affected by their actions and inactions. And this allows them (who know the truth and are free) to be completely compassionate towards all beings without discrimination of good and bad beings.

Om shanti.

Are we really practicing yoga?

We are not really practicing yoga, if we are being conditioned by what our mind believes what things are.

Anything that we believe and think is ‘not good’ or ‘not perfect’ is conditioned by subjective ‘standards’ coming from our own perception and recognition about what things are, but it is not coming from the objects themselves.

In different cultural beliefs, being “fat” can be ‘not good’ for some people, but can be ‘very good’ for some other people. What we think is ‘not perfect’ can be ‘perfectly as it is’ for some other people.

Things that might seem like “big problems” for us, might be “no problems at all” for some other people.

It is up to us, how we want to conditioned our mind, or free our mind from conditions.

We either limit ourselves by generate a lot of “standards” and “qualities” for ourselves to live up to, or limit ourselves by allowing other people’s “standards” and “qualities” to determine us.

We also apply our own type of “qualities” and “standards” onto everyone and everything, expecting everyone and everything should also comply to these “qualities” and “standards”, and be judged by these “qualities” and “standards”. We categorize everyone and everything into categories according to our own “standards” of what is ‘good’ and ‘not good’.

The point is, we are free, until the moment we start to apply ‘beliefs’, ‘ideas’, ‘standards’, and ‘qualities’ onto ourselves and towards other people and everything. Expect ourselves, other people and things have to be like this or like that. Making ourselves not free, and disturbing other people as well.

Just by doing some yoga asana exercises and poses, or pranayama, or studying, discussing, talking, reading and hearing the philosophy of yoga, or chanting and praying in Sanskrit everyday, but without practicing the true meanings of non-dualism in everyday life, constantly being disturbed, affected and determined by the good and bad qualities of names and forms, and generate craving and aversion towards what we like and dislike, agree and disagree with, being influenced by discrimination, anger, hatred, dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear and worry, not knowing the practice of non-attachment and non-identification, then it is like performing lots of actions improving the function of the mind, the body, the hands, the feet, and the sense organs, having a good condition ‘vehicle’ with full tank of fuel, but we forgot to learn how to ‘drive’ this good condition ‘vehicle’ towards Freedom or Moksha.

Om shanti.

Intimidated by other people’s physical conditions and abilities in yoga (asana) practice?

If we have been putting in the same amount of time, discipline and effort into our daily yoga (asana) practice, just like those who have been spending lots of time, discipline and effort to keep the body and mind busy engaging in regular yoga (asana) practice, whether for spiritual growth, or for health and fitness reason, or for both;
we won’t have the free space in the mind, nor have the free time to be busy looking at other people’s ‘performance’ or result of a persistent and regular practice, and feel either envy, or intimidated by other people’s physical conditions and abilities, and spiritual improvement.

Although yoga, or unconditional love and peace is nothing to do with the levels of physical conditions and abilities, but naturally, there will be certain amount of improvement in physical conditions and abilities, as an ‘unavoidable’ side effect coming from regular yoga (asana) practice, whether we are aiming at it or not, or whether we like it or not.

We do not intent nor expect to gain any physical fitness, strength and flexibility while performing the yoga (asana) practice, as that is not the objective or goal of performing yoga (asana) practice, and our basic yoga practice is non-identification with the impermanent conditional physical body and the thinking mind. But the physical and mental effect coming from the regular yoga (asana) practice is still there.

The body will gain certain degrees of fitness, strength and flexibility, and the mind will gain certain degrees of calmness and peace. But that is not the end of our yoga practice. We need to use that physical condition and state of mind that is conducive for meditation, to contemplate upon the truth, to go beyond the body and mind, to remove ignorance, to be free from being conditioned by egoism, duality, qualities of names and forms.

We will never feel intimidated by anyone or anything, if we truly practice yoga and meditation.

Om shanti.

Yoga practice in every moment…

In the intensive yoga retreat, we have an advanced practice workshop.

It is not so much about performing some complicated or difficult yoga asana poses that require certain degrees of physical strength and flexibility. As peace and compassion is nothing to do with the physical condition and abilities to perform the yoga asana poses.

It is during the process of learning and performing the yoga asana poses, we learn to let go of attachment and identification with the body and mind, letting go of the ego, judgment, comparison, expectation, craving and aversion.

We learn to accept the present condition and abilities of the physical body as it is, without craving for the condition that we like, nor aversion towards the condition that we don’t like.

We learn to be aware of the reality as it is, and accepting the reality as it is, not necessary it’s something that we prefer, or how we like it to be. Remain at peace, undisturbed, unaffected, uninfluenced, undetermined by the reality of the present moment now, no matter it is pleasant or unpleasant, comfortable or uncomfortable.

We learn to be truthful towards ourselves and others.

We learn to let go of the ego, by letting go of the feeling of intimidation when we ‘see’ other people perform some yoga asana poses that require certain degrees of strength and flexibility. Or when we ‘see’ other people who are more strong and flexible than us physically and mentally, perform some yoga asana poses that our own body is not ready to perform yet, due to physical limitation and mental blockage. We learn to be open minded for what our body can do and cannot do while performing the yoga asana poses that whether we have been practicing, or they are something new to us. We let go of pride and arrogance when ‘finally’ after some repeated practice, we can perform certain yoga asana poses that we couldn’t perform before, or which we thought it’s impossible for our body to be performing.

Being aware of the truth of all the names and forms, about everything is just being what it is. They are not something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, ‘happiness’ or ‘suffering’. There’s no craving or clinging onto something that the mind believes as ‘good’, ‘positive’ and ‘happiness’. There’s no aversion towards something that the mind believes as ‘bad’, ‘negative’ and ‘suffering’.

Our true nature is not determined nor conditioned by the qualities of names and forms that the body and mind is experiencing from moment to moment.

It doesn’t matter what is the condition and abilities of the physical body, or the states of the mind, it won’t determine nor contaminate our true nature to become something ‘good’ or ‘bad’. As our true nature is without qualities, nameless and formless. The good and bad behaviors, actions and reactions, beliefs and thinking, all sorts of impurities, ignorance, emotions and feelings, can’t affect, nor disturb, nor influence, nor determine, nor contaminate our true nature, which is unlimited and unconditional, beyond time, space and causation. And thus, we will respect all beings as they are, when we see the true nature in all which is the same in everyone and everything, disregard the impermanent different qualities, names and forms, personalities, characteristics, thinking, beliefs, behaviors, actions and reactions, and appearances that are possessed by each individual being.

The practice of yoga and meditation is every moment in our life, in our heart, whether we are performing some so called spiritual practice or not. Every moment of observation, mindfulness, non-attachment, detachment, letting go, being in the present, and self-control over the thoughts, action and speech, is the purification process to eliminate ignorance, impurities and egoism.

It is the practice of non-attachment and non-identification towards the body and mind in every moment, whether we are awake or asleep.

Not attached to this life existence and all the experiences through the function of the body and mind, through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and thinking process, whether these experiences are good or bad, positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant, whether in pleasure or in pain.

Not attached to the impermanent condition and abilities of the physical body, whether good or bad.

Not attached to the impermanent states of the mind, whether positive or negative, peaceful or restless.

Not attached to the sensations, feelings, emotions, thinking, speculations, anticipations, imaginations, memories and dreams, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant.

I am what I am. Our true nature is not determined nor influenced by the impermanent changes and functions of the body and mind.

The body is not me, I am not the body. The mind is not me, I am not the mind. The intellect and the ego is not me, I am not the intellect nor the ego. The sensations, the feelings, the emotions and the thinking are not me, I am not the sensations, the feelings, the emotions and the thinking.

Being aware of what is happening in the mind, but without association with the reactions of the mind towards whatever it perceives through the senses.

Go beyond the thinking and beliefs in the mind, the likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements from the ego, there is no anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, pride, arrogance, frustration, irritation, agitation, depression, craving, aversion, fear and worry. After eliminating ignorance, impurities, egoism, dualities and separateness, there is only unconditional peace and love.

It is completely being free from fear and worry.

This is real freedom. Free from being conditioned by the impermanent changes of the qualities of names and forms. Free from being conditioned by the body and mind that is subject to impermanence. Free from being conditioned by the limited and conditioned thinking, beliefs, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements in the mind. Free from being conditioned by all sorts of impurities, ignorance and egoism.

The freedom of being free from impurities, ignorance, egoism, attachment, craving and aversion, and the realization of unconditional peace and love, is nothing to do with whether we can do all the yoga asana poses skillfully and perfectly or not, whether we know all the names and the benefits of the yoga asana poses or not, whether we know about the anatomy and physiology of the physical body or not, whether we know all the chantings and prayers or not, whether we are vegetarian or not, whether our body is strong and flexible or not, whether our physical health is good or not, whether our relationships with anyone is good or not, whether we know about lots of things or not, whether we are ‘qualified’ and ‘certified’ yoga teachers or not, whether we are affiliated and recognized by so called ‘yoga alliance’ or not, whether we have an enlightened Guru or not, whether we learn yoga from famous yoga school and yoga teachers or not, or whether we are so called ‘yogis’ who practice yoga or not, and etc…

We are able to accept ourselves as we are, and accept other beings as they are. We are able to love ourselves as we are, and love other beings as they are, without attachment, selfish intention, selfish desire, discrimination, judgment, or expectation.

We allow ourselves to be different from others, and allow others to be different from us. Without trying to become like somebody else whom we are not. Without trying to change or control other beings to be the way that we think they should be. We respect everyone as they are.

Being aware of the only existence is the present moment now, we are able to live in the present moment now, letting go of the past and the future. Being undisturbed, unaffected, undetermined or uninfluenced by the past pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and future imaginations and anticipations.

We are always at peace, living in the world, but not being disturbed, nor determined, nor influenced by the world.

We perform all our actions, practice, duties and responsibilities whether towards ourselves or towards other beings, out of compassion. Without attachment towards the actions, and the fruit of the actions.

We are able to appreciate this life existence, and make good use of the body and mind, our knowledge and talents, our hands and feet, to perform actions for the well-being of ourselves and others, without discrimination, without attachment.

Practice yoga, purify the mind, meditate upon the truth, and realize namelessness, formlessness, attributelessness, non-duality, non-separateness, oneness, selflessness, fearlessness, wisdom and compassion, and be free.

Om shanti.