Physical exercises and yoga?

Just like everything else, physical exercises are neither good nor bad. If it is being performed with some basic knowledge and understanding of how to perform the exercises with care and attentiveness, as well as without the influence of egoism and attachment, then it will bring benefits to the body and mind. If it is being done under the influence of egoism and attachment, without the basic knowledge and understanding, nor with care and attentiveness, then it might cause unnecessary tension, stress, damages or injuries to the body and mind.

At any stages in life from young to old, the physical body needs to be performing some forms of regular physical exercises to improve and maintain its good health and fitness level. The intensity of the exercises should be within the effort according to the physical condition and ability in that moment. Some forms of gentle exercises for about half an hour to an hour a day will be sufficient to achieve the benefits of physical exercises. Over exercising or performing strenuous physical exercises that is beyond the effort of the physical condition and ability in that moment can cause short term or long term damages or injuries to the physical body.

The body needs certain degrees of ‘stress’ to maintain its bone density and muscular strength. But excessive ‘stress’ that can cause over-stimulation to the entire body systems, energy depletion or over-exhaustion, and muscular tendons injuries, isn’t necessary. What’s the point when we try to make the body fitter and healthier, but being disappointed, or dissatisfied, or frustrated, or unhappy about oneself imposed by some negative judgment, comparison and expectation coming from oneself towards one’s physical condition and ability, or the physical performance and achievement.

Yoga is not a physical exercise as some people think it is. Yoga asana practice is one part of the many types of yoga practice. Yoga asana practice involves physical movements that will give the similar effects of performing any physical exercises. These effects of physical exercise that we attain from performing regular yoga asana practice is just a side-effect from the practice, it is not the goal of the practice.

Physical exercises don’t guarantee anyone to be peaceful and compassionate. But yoga, which is the mental exercises or internal observations, if being practiced with the correct understanding and attitude, can bring oneself to realize unconditional peace and compassion, that is undetermined by the physical conditions and abilities.

Yoga asana practice is like everything else, it is neither good nor bad. It has no quality nor intention to generate pleasantness or unpleasantness, positive effects or negative effects to the practitioner. Yoga asana practice being performed regularly without the influence of the egoism and attachment will bring oneself towards peace beside getting the physical and mental effects of physical exercises. If it is being done under the influence of the egoism and attachment, it might cause tension, stress, damages or injuries to one’s body and mind.

Although regular physical exercise doesn’t guarantee us to be free from ignorance and egoism, or be free from unhappiness and suffering, it can help us to develop higher energy level, strengthening the body systems, improve physical stamina, physical strength and flexibility, to lower the risk of incurring diseases and lower the risk of physical injuries, promote good health, alertness, positive thinking, cheerfulness, determination, perseverance and tolerance to deal with unexpected or undesirable situations that may arise in everyday life more efficiently and easily.

The effects of physical exercises are beneficial for both physical and mental health and fitness, to allow us to enjoy a better quality of life, to allow ourselves to have the good physical and mental condition, the clear thinking ability, the strength and mobility, and the higher energy level to perform selfless service for oneself and others. But no matter how much we try to maintain the good condition of this physical body, it is still subject to changes, decay, injury, pain, discomfort, stiffness, weakness, old age and decomposition.

Appreciate and take good care of this physical body as well as the mind, but without identification with the body and mind as who ‘I’ am, and without attachment towards the impermanent changes of the body and mind. Allow the impermanent changes to be what they are, without craving for particular conditions, nor aversion towards certain conditions. Make good use of the good condition of the body and mind that is available now, to be doing something beneficial for ourselves and for others, without identification with the actions and the fruit of actions, without attachment towards the actions or the fruit of actions.

Om shanti.

About the physical alignment and adjustment from the teacher in the yoga asana practice…

There’s nothing wrong with performing the yoga asana exercises with proper alignment and adjustment from the teacher to gain maximum benefits, as well as to ensure maximum safety, or minimize the risk of injuries, in the standpoint for safe and effective physical exercise.

Yoga is about unconditional peace and compassion through the realization of the truth, free from ignorance, egoism, identification, attachment, craving and aversion, and all sorts of impurities. Yoga asana practice is one of the many ways to help to influence the state of the mind, prepare the mind for meditation.

Does it mean that when the students are able to perform the yoga asana exercises with the perfect correct alignment and with some adjustments from the teacher to make the postures as ‘good’, as ‘correct’, as ‘perfect’, as ‘graceful’, or as ‘beautiful’ as much as possible, then they will be peaceful and compassionate, and will be free from ignorance, egoism, identification and attachment? And if the students are not able to perform the yoga asana practice with the perfect correct alignment and don’t make any adjustments to make the postures as ‘good’, as ‘correct’, as ‘perfect’, as ‘graceful’, or as ‘beautiful’ as much as possible, then they will not be peaceful and compassionate, and won’t be free from ignorance, egoism, identification and attachment? Does everyone need to be able to go beyond certain degrees of flexibility to be able to see the truth?

No doubt that the body and mind will feel good when the body is able to do what we want to do, to achieve certain results that we want to achieve, but this is just some momentary satisfaction, pride and good feelings coming from gratifying the desires of craving and aversion, through getting the things that we like and want the way that we like it to be, and by not getting anything that we don’t like and don’t want. It is not the unconditional peace that is undetermined by the qualities of names and forms.

Yoga asana practice is nothing to do with perfect physical alignment, nor it’s about making the body to be more strong and flexible than it is now. It is also has nothing to do with adjusting the yoga asana poses until we think it is ‘good’, ‘right’, ‘perfect’, ‘graceful’, or ‘beautiful’ enough. Nor does yoga has anything to do with what kind of benefits that we are getting from performing all these yoga asana practice. The benefits will be there as they are as we perform our practice, but all these benefits cannot guarantee the practitioners to be free from ignorance and egoism, and realize unconditional peace and compassion. That’s why there might be people who practice yoga asana regularly for years, and getting all the benefits from the yoga asana practice, but they might still be disturbed, affected, influenced and determined by the qualities of names and forms, and have no peace. Some people may never perform any yoga asana exercises, not to say in perfect correct alignment, but they are peaceful and compassionate.

By giving some instructions about the ‘correct’ alignment, and making everyone in the class to be doing the yoga asana exercises in accordance to the ‘correct’ alignment has nothing to do with the realization of unconditional peace and compassion in the yoga practitioners. It is the teachings and practice of letting go of the egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion, and free from being affected or influenced by the past memories and the future anticipations or projections, free from judgment, comparison, expectation, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, feelings of hurt or guilt, agitation, depression, anxiety, doubt, fear and worry, that allow one to be peaceful and compasionate. One doesn’t need to be able to perform the yoga asana poses with the perfect correct alignment to achieve that.

Everyone has a different body with different physical limitations. Many of the perfect correct alignments are beyond the physical limitations of some people. It is not natural nor comfortable for some people to perform certain exercises in accordance to the perfect correct alignment, and thus unnecessary tension is generated in the mind, and injuries are generated in the physical body, when they try to do the exercises or poses to meet up the requirement for perfect correct alignment, and forcing their body to go beyond its limitations.

It’s about to go beyond all the qualities of names and forms, to realize attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness, and to go beyond all the identifications with the body and the mind, as well as the attachment towards all the qualities of names and forms to be who we are. It’s not about to go beyond the physical limitations, by challenging the physical body to be more strong and more flexible than it is now, and pushing the body to go beyond its limitations, generating unnecessary tension and injuries onto the body.

It is aware of the reality, and allow the reality to be what it is. It is accepting the physical condition and abilities in the present moment now as it is, without attachment nor identification with the physical condition and abilities to be who we are. Knowing that even this present condition and abilities of the physical body is impermanent and it will change, and allow all the impermanent changes to be what they are, from moment to moment.

Everyone just need to perform the exercises or poses at their own capacity and at their own ease, in accordance to their physical condition and abilities in the present moment now, without any judgment, comparison, expectation, craving and aversion. There’s no stress or tension generated in the mind, and there is minimal risk of injuries when they perform all the exercises in a relaxed manner and moving into the poses calmly and gently, without forcing the body to go beyond its limitations. Everyone might look differently from one another while doing the same type of exercises or poses, as they all have different flexibility and limitations. And it’s fine.

It’s about performing all our practice, actions, duties and responsibilities towards oneself and others out of compassion, without attachment towards the actions and the fruit of actions. There’s no expectation towards any benefits of the yoga asana practice, nor expectation towards the results or benefits of the yoga asana practice to be the way that we think it should be, but allow the results or the benefits to be there as they are.

May all be free through self-inquiry.

Om shanti.

Feel intimidated or frustrated by some of the yoga asana exercises?

Due to some physical limitations, or injuries, or weakness, or stiffness, or diseases, some people might be limited from performing some of the yoga asanas.

It’s totally okay if someone cannot perform some or all of the yoga asanas. It doesn’t limit anyone to realize selflessness to be free from ignorance and egoism, and realize unconditional love and peace.

As selflessness, peace and compassion is not determined by how many yoga poses one can perform, nor how ‘good’ can one execute the yoga poses.

Everyone and anyone also can practice yoga and be free, but it is an undeniable fact that not all the yoga asana exercises are suitable for everyone, nor anybody should be performing all the yoga asanas disregards their physical limitations.

Yoga is not at all to push the body to go beyond its limitations, nor to make it stronger or more flexible, but it is to go beyond all the identifications with impermanent qualities of names and forms, and realize attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness.

One should be more calm and relaxed by performing the yoga asana exercises instead of feeling intimidated or frustrated by some of the yoga asana exercises that one couldn’t perform due to some physical limitations.

Om shanti.

Money cannot buy love, peace, compassion and wisdom… Let go of stinginess and be generous…

Yoga and its practice are not meant to be some kind of pleasurable sensual enjoyment such like paying some money for getting some service like spa treatments. It is a practice to develop dispassion or disinterest in pleasurable sensual enjoyment to let go of craving and aversion.

Yoga and meditation practice is a process to change the old habits of the mind that have been there deep rooted for a long time influencing the mind for as long as we live. It is stop giving what the mind likes and wants. It is calming the mind and stop stimulating the mind. It is quite unpleasant for the mind in the beginning of the yoga and meditation practice as it takes some time for the mind and the body to adjust, to adapt, or to get use to something that it wasn’t familiar with, or to develop interest in something that it never interested before. As well as it is unpleasant for the mind to be not having something that it was addicted to, or used to familiar with. It is about letting go of desires of wants and don’t wants. It is not about fulfilling the desires of wants and don’t wants. The mind will resist. The mind will want to runaway.

If our will-power is weak, we will give in to the desires of the mind, and give ourselves many reasons or excuses why we should not continue the yoga and meditation practice temporary or permanently, and instead we look for some other activities that the mind enjoys, likes and craves for, to make the mind feels pleasant, stimulated, or excited.

We often hear many ‘yoga’ enthusiasts say, “I love yoga. I want to practice yoga. Yoga makes me feel so good.” But then when they experience some discomforts or unpleasantness physically, mentally and emotionally, they want to runaway. They complain this is not the yoga that they were expecting, that the yoga and meditation practice is not the way that they think it should be. They say they only want yoga that will give them pleasant sensations and which is enjoyable. They don’t want yoga that doesn’t give them what they want and like. Be happy. In the end it is our own freedom for what we want for our life, and what we want to do with our body and mind. We take full responsibility for the consequences of our actions derived from our desires of wants and don’t wants.

In order to allow the physical body to be able to perform the yoga asana poses comfortably, our body and mind will have to go through some unpleasant purification process while developing the skills, stamina, strength, flexibility, patience, perseverance, determination, forbearance, tolerance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, concentration, non-attachment, non-identification, non-expectation, non-judgment, non-comparison, faith and courage to be able to perform and hold the yoga asana poses comfortably for a period of time effortlessly without struggling. And this will allow us to realize selflessness and compassion. It is not at all about how good we look and feel during and after the yoga asana practice, nor what type of benefits we are going to get from performing all these yoga asana poses.

Money cannot buy love, peace, compassion and wisdom. It takes some efforts, self-control, self-discipline, patience, perseverance, determination, will-power, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, for us to eliminate egoism, attachment, desires, greed, craving and aversion from the mind to be free from ignorance and impurities, and to realize unconditional love, peace, compassion and wisdom.

Greed is also associated with stinginess. It’s like, “If I can just pay as little money as possible and get as many things in return as possible, that would be very nice…”

Even highly intelligent or educated people might be influenced by stinginess and greed, and are not free.

Before we start practicing yoga, we need to learn to let go of stinginess and start to be generous.

If we cannot understand why we should let go of stinginess and be generous before we start to perform any yoga practice, we can never realize what is selflessness and compassion, even though we can be attending many yoga classes or yoga courses to learn and perform some forms of yoga practice, or if we have been practicing yoga asana for many years and our body has developed the skill, strength and flexibility to perform many yoga asana exercises beautifully in perfect alignment. All these qualities of names and forms have very little to do with what yoga really is.

Om shanti.

“Professional profile” of a yoga teacher or a yoga school?

“How long have you been practicing yoga?”

“How long have you been teaching yoga?”

“Where and whom did you learn yoga from?”

“Who is your yoga teacher or Guru?”

“What type of recognitions, certifications and qualifications do you have?”

“What type of yoga do you practice or teach?”

“What is the level of this yoga course or yoga class?”

“What type of certifications I can get from attending these yoga courses or classes?”

“What type of results or benefits I can get from attending this yoga course or yoga class?”

All these are the common questions coming from most people who want to practice yoga or to teach yoga. But yoga is nothing to do with all these names and forms…

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Normally, when people are looking for a yoga school or yoga teacher to learn about yoga, or to do some yoga exercises, most of us will want to know the “professional profile” of the yoga school or the yoga teacher, to know what are the qualifications, certifications, affiliations, past experiences, achievements, types of courses, classes or services of the yoga school or the yoga teacher.

Same as when a yoga school or a yoga teacher wants to “promote” their classes or services, naturally, they want to have a “professional image”, and to give a “laudable”, “highly recommended”, “reliable”, “professional”, “expertise”, “highly experienced”, “outstanding”, “competent”, “recognized”, “affiliated”, “updated”, “distinctive”, or “beautiful” type of profile to show to the respective “clientele” or yoga enthusiasts who might be interested to take up yoga courses, yoga classes or yoga exercise classes at this yoga school or with this yoga teacher.

There is nothing wrong with this universal worldly idea and practice in the process of getting a “product” and promoting a “product”. Just that, all these “identifications” that identify with certain qualities of names and forms has nothing to do with the practice of yoga and meditation, or the realization of the Truth, or the propagation of Dharma, which is about annihilation of ignorance and egoism, realization of selflessness, fearlessness, oneness, namelessness, formlessness, compassion and wisdom, and transcend suffering, birth and death.

As liberation, or selflessness, or compassion, or realization of the Truth, is undetermined by all these qualities of names and forms that consist of worldly minded business marketing standards, ideas and strategies, qualifications, certifications, affiliations, achievements, past experiences, excellent and extensive services.

All these identifications with qualities of names and forms are irrelevant to what yoga is, or the teachings and practice of yoga, or the realization of yoga, or the beings who learn, practice and realize yoga, or the liberated beings who share the wisdom of yoga with other beings.

Here are some examples of a common profile of most yoga schools and “professional” yoga teachers who provide yoga courses, yoga classes, or yoga exercise classes :-

“Want to teach yoga? Want to be certified as an internationally affiliated and recognized yoga teacher? Come to us, let our professional yoga teachers trainers to train you to be a qualified professional yoga teacher and be certified and recognized internationally”

“Our yoga school is a Yoga Alliance 200 Hour & 500 Hour Registered Yoga School.”

“Our yoga school has been established for how long.”

“I am a Yoga Alliance 200 Hour & 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher.”

“I have been practicing and teaching yoga for how many years.”

“I have been to such and such yoga schools.”

“I had learned and graduated under such and such yoga teachers and gurus.”

“I have attained such and such qualifications and certifications recognized and issued by such and such organizations, or alliances, or affiliations.”

“I am a qualified and certified yoga teacher, I teach such and such types of yoga classes.”

“The type of yoga classes and practice that I teach will give you such and such benefits and results.”

“I am an advance yoga practitioner and yoga teacher, I practice and teach advance yoga.”

“I am experienced, knowledgeable and well-trained yoga teacher. Come to my yoga class. I teach you yoga. I teach you yoga exercises.”

“I have how many years of teaching experiences.”

“I have taught yoga classes in such and such (creditable) yoga schools.”

“I am a good, happy, healthy, experienced, knowledgeable, fit, strong and flexible yogi and yoga teacher.”

And so on…

There is nothing wrong with all these worldly thinking, ideas, qualities and identifications, and most people want or need to see all these qualities to find what they believe is a “good” and “reliable” yoga school or yoga teacher, that will give them what they want after they have paid some fees to be getting something that they are looking for. As well as most yoga schools and yoga teachers also think and believe that they need to have such qualities to convince themselves and the world that they are experienced, qualified, knowledgeable and good enough to give or provide some forms of services, courses or classes to those who pay them some fees for some services or results in return.

But, yoga is nothing to do with all these worldly image or identifications, or worldly ideas of marketing strategies, business exchange of services and achieving results.

All these names and forms have no meanings or values for beings who truly practice yoga and meditation to transcend suffering, egoism, ignorance, names and forms.

Who is being there to identified with all these qualities of names and forms, to acknowledge ourselves and others that “this” is who I am, what I am, what I do, and what I can give you?

Those who had realized selflessness, who have gone beyond the qualities of names and forms, who are free from egoism, and who can guide anybody towards selflessness from their own direct experience and realization, out of compassion, undetermined nor limited by any worldly individuals or organizations to qualified or certified them to be sharing love, peace, compassion and wisdom with anybody, without intention, without identification, without discrimination, without attachment, they are not determined nor limited by any qualities of names and forms, nor will they strengthen the worldly ideas and attachment towards the qualities of names and forms, when the basic teaching and practice of yoga and meditation is to go beyond all these qualities of names and forms, and realize selflessness, namelessness and formlessness.

Those who are suffering, and are determined to be free from suffering, they will either meet the teacher, or the teacher will come to them naturally, when the time is right, to guide them, to show them the way. And the teacher is not necessary in a form of human beings who bear the title of “experienced, qualified and certified yoga teacher”.

Everything else is just a play of some worldly ideas and egoistic desires.

The Truth or Dharma, is always here as it is. It doesn’t belong to anyone or any organizations. It is not limited in yoga schools, yoga courses, yoga classes or yoga teachers. It’s not tradable nor exchangeable. It can’t be sold nor be bought. It is whether we realize it, or not.

Om shanti.

Yoga classes?

Yoga classes are in great demand, as there are many people interested in joining yoga classes. And there are many “yoga classes” available in many places in the world, where people can attend one or a few “yoga classes” everyday, or a few days weekly or monthly, or once in a while. But, what is a yoga class?

Yoga classes that exist under certain names and forms that are available in particular time and space, with some teachers giving some forms of yoga teachings and giving instructions on how to perform some yoga practice (including the basic observations of Yama and Niyama, yogic cleansing practice, selfless service, study of the teachings of yoga, chanting, yoga asana practice, pranayama, concentration and meditation practice), act as the doorway to yoga, or as a foundation for us to start to perform our own yoga practice to eliminate ignorance and egoism. And yoga practice exist everywhere and in every moment, unconditioned and unlimited by name and form, time and space. It is not limited in a “yoga class” getting some instructions from a teacher to tell us what we should do and shouldn’t do.

When we attend some “yoga classes” or “yoga courses”, our motivation or intention is to learn about yoga and the yoga practice which can lead us to realize yoga, under a teacher’s guidance and advice. But, we have to walk the path by ourselves. The teacher cannot do the practice for us, cannot eliminate the ignorance and egoism in us, cannot free us from suffering. Nether by attending “yoga classes” regularly due to the reason we don’t have self-discipline to be performing our own regular yogic practice will guarantee us liberation. It’s not about attending a “fitness training exercise class” doing some yoga asana exercises under the instructions of a teacher, to attain some physical and mental fitness and health benefits, to boost our confidence, self-worth and physical performance. Though there is nothing wrong with this intention and expectation for attending “yoga (asana) classes”. As just by performing regular yogic exercises without the intention for spiritual realization will also bring some basic purification effects to the practitioner. But without the practice of non-attachment and letting go of the egoism, ceaseless impurities keep arising in the mind, which hinders the mind to see the Truth of things as they are.

There are people who carry out the teachings of yoga in all aspects in everyday life, but they don’t or never attend any yoga classes at all.

After we learn about the teachings and practice of yoga from some yoga teachers, and have certain degrees of awareness, basic understanding, non-attachment, self-control and self-discipline; then the entire worldly existence is a yoga class or journey that allows us to materialize the yoga teachings and practice at everywhere and in every moment.

Every single life experience that made out of the objects of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, and thoughts, are the yoga teachers who carry the teachings of yoga. The mind itself is the greatest teacher among all, as well as the yoga practitioner. The mind is teaching and training itself. And what enable the mind to be at peace, and be free from egoism and attachment, unattached towards all the perceptions of names and forms, unaffected, undisturbed, uninfluenced and undetermined by all the pleasant and unpleasant life experiences, and be free from any impurities, is the yoga practice. Realization of the ultimate Truth, of selflessness, oneness, non-duality, fearlessness, attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness, transcending birth and death, is yoga, or liberation.

The moment the mind comes in contact with the objects of the senses, perceiving names and forms, whenever there are thought activities or thinking process happening in the mind, there is when and where the yoga practice is happening. The yoga class, the yoga session, the yoga teachings and the yoga practice, the teacher and the student, are all happening in the mind in this present moment now, no matter who we think we are, where we are, how we are, in actions or actionless, under any conditions or circumstances, yoga practice exists in every moment of life existence.

Observe, be aware, no attachment… Perform necessary actions, duties and responsibilities, selflessly without identification.

There’s no success nor failure, no good nor bad throughout the journey.

Just that, when there is attachment, suffering exists. When there is no attachment, suffering doesn’t exist.

Om shanti.

Keep practice, without intention nor expectation, allow the result to be what it is…

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By being able to perform any physical exercises or yoga asana poses that requires certain skills, stamina, strength and flexibility doesn’t guarantee us to be free from ignorance, unhappiness or suffering, nor will guarantee us unconditional peace and compassion.

Unconditional peace and compassion that derives from realization of the truth and be free from egoism and attachment, is not determined by the conditions and abilities of the physical body to do this or that.

Yoga practice of letting go of the egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion, requires great patience, determination, perseverance, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation. Throughout the journey towards the realization of the truth or selflessness, there’s no judgment, comparison nor expectation. Just keep practice, without intention nor expectation, and allow the result or the fruit of our actions / yoga practice / duties and responsibilities to be what it is, as it is.

In the process of practicing any yoga asana poses, in order to be able to come into any of the poses effortlessly without struggle, we need to be patient, be determined, be persevered, be tolerant, be able to forbear any discomforts physically, mentally and emotionally, be able to adjust ourselves to adapt and accommodate the practice under any circumstances, conditions or situations, be able to accept the body and the mind as they are from moment to moment while allowing changes or improvement to be happening naturally as it is, allow the physical body and the mind to develop all the requirements that allow the body to come into the yoga poses effortlessly without struggle, without giving up, without judgment, comparison, expectation nor intention, and allow the result or the fruit of the actions / yoga asana practice to be what it is, to be there as it is.

In the process of performing all these yoga asana practice, it is not about achieving certain results or attaining certain benefits from the practice, nor it’s about to look good and feel good about ourselves (the ego), to boost self-esteem or self-confidence, nor strengthening the egoism, identification and attachment towards the qualities of names and forms, but we should be letting go of the egoism, letting go of identification and attachment towards the impermanent conditions and abilities of the body and the mind, letting go of attachment towards any qualities of names and forms, letting go of attachment towards the egoistic likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, craving and aversion, judgments, comparisons, expectations, intentions, and eventually be free from being disturbed, or affected, or influenced, or determined by the qualities of names and forms, or the result of our actions, and be free from impurities of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurt, guilt and regrets, pride, arrogance, agitation, depression, fear and worry.

When the mind is free from egoism, attachment, craving, aversion, and impurities, the mind is able to perceive the truth of everything as it is, uncontaminated, uninfluenced, undetermined by impurities that arise due to egoistic reactions towards the perception of names and forms based on what the mind believes what things are, under the influence of incorrect information, thinking, beliefs, judgment, imagination, projection, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, craving and aversion. And this allows us to realize unconditional peace and compassion.

Even if our physical body is in good conditions, being strong and flexible, and is able to perform all the yoga asana poses perfectly and beautifully, but if we don’t know what is letting go of the egoism, identification, attachment, selfish desires, intentions and expectations, craving and aversion, then we will still be affected, disturbed, influenced and determined by impurities of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurt, guilt and regrets, pride, arrogance, agitation, depression, fear and worry coming from the egoistic reactions towards the objects of the senses (qualities of names and forms) perceived by the mind through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and thinking faculty. The mind is constantly being in a state of restlessness, and have no peace nor be compassionate towards oneself or others.

Om shanti.

Yoga?

The student said to the teacher, “For me, yoga is a fitness exercise. It is a business deal. I pay the money and I expect the customer service that I want. I don’t want the real yoga like the one they do in the Ashrams in India. I don’t agree with the teachings of yoga. I am a Christian.”

The teacher replied, “Be happy. There’s nothing wrong if anyone disagrees with the teachings and the practice of yoga, and don’t want to practice yoga. Even if you have given some money or something to the teacher, the teacher cannot teach you anything, because you don’t allow and don’t want the teacher to teach yoga, as you don’t want to learn and practice yoga. There are other people who come here to learn and practice yoga. The yoga classes here is about yoga. You don’t have to attend this yoga class, if this is not the “yoga” that you want. You can take your money back and leave the yoga class now, if you wish.”

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.

Feel uncomfortable or have difficulty with breathing while performing the yoga asana exercises?

During the yoga asana classes, most of the teachers or instructors might tell us to “Be comfortable or be at ease while holding the yoga asana poses.” or “Perform the movements coordinating with the breathing.” or “Breathe in coordination with the physical movements.” or “Inhale…. Exhale….” or “Stay in the position for X minutes….” and etc.

Actually, it’s because of these common instructions or cueing in the yoga asana class, that there are some people “struggle” to “be comfortable” in doing the exercises and have difficulty with breathing, such like feeling out of breath, or couldn’t breathe comfortably while performing the exercises, or find it very discomfortable or difficult to coordinate the breathing and the movements, or feel very uncomfortable or difficult to perform yoga asana practice or holding a position for some time.

There might be different reasons why we feel uncomfortable while performing the yoga exercises or being in certain yoga poses, as well as why we feel uncomfortable or difficult to coordinate the breathing with the movements. Here are a few of them.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Without any particular order, all these points are equally important to understand a bit about what is going on in the body and mind while performing the yoga asana exercises or poses.

  • Whether we will feel comfortable or be at ease while doing the yoga exercises or holding the yoga asana poses, or how long we can maintain comfortable being in a certain position, or when will the discomfortable sensations change or go away, it’s not in our wish or control at all about how we like it to be, or expect it to be. All the pleasant and unpleasant physical sensations come and go, arising and passing away at their own cause and pace. We can try to put ourselves in a position that will make us feel comfortable, but after being in that “comfortable” position for some time, this comfortable sensation will change and disappear, and uncomfortable sensation will arise. This is the truth about everything is impermanent. And so, we can’t really expect to be at ease completely through out the entire yoga asana practice.

 

  • Yoga asana practice is supposed to be a self-practice practice, it is not so much about practicing in a group class or private class following some cueing or instructions from somebody else to be doing the yoga asana practice, and everyone is doing the same movements at a particular pace and breathing rhythm following the cueing of the teacher. Before we know how to perform the yoga asana exercises, we have no idea what we are supposed to be doing, then we need to approach some teachers to learn about the yoga asana practice. In the group or private yoga classes, we learn from the teacher how to perform the yoga asana practice, but afterwards we will be doing the yoga asana practice on our own, at our own pace.

 

  • Everyone has a different physical body with different types of limitations, stamina, strength and flexibility, and different breathing patterns and rhythm, as well as different states of the mind. When we try to follow the instructions or cueing from the teacher or instructor in the yoga class (may it be in a private or group session), the pace or the cueing of the teacher might not be able to suit every individual natural physical mobility and breathing rhythm. We are moving our body and breathing in an unnatural rhythm when we try to follow the instruction or cueing from the teacher to be doing the exercises or holding the yoga poses. Not everyone can hold the position for the same length of time comfortably, and it will be different experience in different practice. Sometimes we can hold comfortably for certain length of time, but during some other time, we can’t. Those who cannot perform the movements at the same pace as the teacher, or cannot breathe at the rhythm in accordance to the cueing of the teacher, of course they will feel very uncomfortable and struggle, trying to either slow down their pace or fasten their pace of the physical movements, and try to prolong or cut short their inhalation or exhalation, which is not in accordance to their own pace and natural rhythm at all. How can they be at ease or breathe comfortably under such unnatural circumstances? Their natural breathing pattern is obviously disrupted.

 

  • In terms of breathing exercises, it takes time for the unhealthy breathing pattern to be adjusted and to adapt a new breathing pattern, to enhance the breathing pattern to be more healthy. But during the process of changing or regulating the breathing pattern, we will feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean that we have done something wrong, or didn’t do it correctly.

 

  • It’s not so much about whether the physical movement is following the breath, or the breath is following the physical movement. The two of them will come together naturally (without which one should come first) when we are able to perform the exercises without “thinking” or “worry” about how we should breathe (when to inhale or exhale), and how long is the inhalation or the exhalation, or try to control the breathing while performing the exercises according to the way/rhythm/pace that the teacher cues us. The best way is to allow the breathing to be natural.

 

  • When we feel “struggle” while performing the yoga asana exercises or holding the yoga asana poses, is mainly because the physical body has not yet developed the basic skill, stamina, strength and flexibility to come into the pose, and to hold the pose at ease for a period of time. The mind is also responsible for whether we are able to be relaxed and at ease in holding the yoga asana poses, especially if the mind is untrained yet. There are lots of mental activities in the untrained mind consisting of attachment, judgment, comparison, expectation, anticipation, doubts, insecurity, anxieties, protectiveness, fear, worry, dissatisfaction, disappointment, frustration, craving, aversion, distraction, and etc, while performing the yoga asana exercises or poses. And all these mental activities are influencing the physical body to be holding certain tension in the physical body, causing the body being unable to be relaxed and comfortable while performing the yoga exercises or poses.

 

  • Yoga asana practice is not about challenging the physical body to go beyond its limitations, or pushing the physical body to go beyond its limitations to make it more strong and flexible than what it is now. It is to do our best in accordance to the needs of the body and the mind based on the condition and abilities of the physical body and the state of the mind in the present moment now. It is when we push the body to go beyond its limitation, we will start to feel uncomfortable. But this is not the practice of yoga, as peace and compassion has nothing to do with the physical conditions and abilities. It is not that if our body is strong and flexible, we will be peaceful and compassionate. Neither if our body is not strong or flexible, we will not be peaceful and compassionate. The ability to forgive and let go something that we think as ‘hurtful’, ‘bad’, or ‘wrong’, is nothing to do with the physical condition, ability and limitation.

 

  • It is very normal that (especially) in the beginning of our yoga asana practice that we will experience certain degrees of discomforts physically, mentally and emotionally. It is part of the purification process that will trigger certain physical, mental and emotional discomforts. It’s also part of the learning process especially when the body and mind is still unfamiliar with the yoga asana practice yet. It takes some time of regular and persistent practice to allow the physical body to develop the basic skill, stamina, strength and flexibility, to be performing the yoga asana comfortably. It also takes time for the mind to be familiar with the yoga asana practice.

 

  • It takes time for the mind to be able to be free from anxiety, tension or fear while performing the yoga asana poses. As these anxiety, tension or fear are part of the reasons why we couldn’t be relaxed in the yoga asana poses, or we couldn’t be at ease while performing the yoga asana exercises, or we will encounter difficulty with the breathing, as breathing is inter-related with the state of the mind. It is also normal that our breathing will be different while being in different positions, such like the breathing is shallow and short while holding a twist, as the position restricts the movements of the ribcage and the abdomen. It doesn’t mean that we are doing the exercises wrongly, or breathing incorrectly.

 

  • When the yoga teacher or instructor tries to insist that everyone should perform the exercises or yoga poses in accordance to the guideline of “proper physical alignment”, this makes many people who have different types of physical flexibility and limitations being very uncomfortable and stressed, when they try to perform the exercises to meet the guideline of “proper physical alignment” that their body is unable or limited to do so. And when the yoga teachers emphasize about “improper physical alignment” will result in injuries, the yoga students accumulate so much tension of “fear and worry” that if their physical alignment is “incorrect”, it will bring “damages” or “harmful effects” onto the body. Whether before or during the yoga exercises or yoga poses, they are full of tension coming from “fear of injuries”.

 

  • If we are able to perform all the yoga asana poses in a relaxed manner without forcing the body to go beyond its limitations, do what the body can do, and not forcing the body to be doing something that it cannot do yet, follow our own pace and rhythm, and perform the exercises according to the needs, the condition and ability of the physical body in the present moment now, without tension of “fear of injury”, without the influence of egoism, without attachment and identification with the body and mind, without judgment, comparison, competition or expectation, without craving or aversion, then there is no need to be worry about “injury” at all while performing the yoga asana poses. And hence, we are able to be relaxed while performing the yoga asana practice. And we will be able to be at ease while performing the yoga asana exercises or being in the yoga poses.

 

  • In fact, there are countless micro “injuries” throughout the physical body that we are not aware of and it’s not in our control at all. Every single movement that we make, will generate some sort of tiny damages in the body, and the body is constantly repairing itself every moment, even when we are asleep, without our intention to heal anything. The word “injury” and “healing” is being over-rated in yoga or fitness classes. And by having fear towards injury will not stop injury from happening if it is meant to happen even when we take full precautions to avoid injuries, but instead it will generate the unnecessary tension that will increase the risk of injuries.

 

  • Ease comes naturally as it is at it’s own cause. It’s not something that we can make it happen, or expect our body and mind to be at ease at anytime. We cannot make our body and mind to “be at ease” or “feel comfortable” while performing the yoga exercises or poses, when the teacher tells us “Be comfortable and be at ease while performing the exercises or while holding the position.” We can try to relax the body and the mind as much as we can while performing the yoga exercises or poses, but it is not in our control at all whether the body will be at ease or not. It occurs in the body and the mind naturally as it is when the tension in the body and the mind is absent.

 

  • Whether we feel comfortable being in certain positions or poses, or we don’t feel any discomforts in the beginning of the yoga exercises or holding the poses, know that this is impermanent. No matter how comfortable we feel being in certain positions/poses or doing some movements, it is very normal to feel uncomfortable after holding the same position/pose for some time, or after continuously doing the same movements.

 

  • Yoga, selflessness/egolessness, or unconditional peace and compassion, has nothing to do with what yoga asana poses or how many yoga asana poses we can perform, nor whether we can perform the yoga asana poses nicely or not, in a perfect correct physical alignment or not, nor how long we have been practicing yoga asana exercises, nor what type or style of yoga asana we are practicing, nor which school and teacher that we learn from, nor how much knowledge we know about the anatomy and physiology of the physical body, nor whether we know about the names of the yoga asana poses in Sanskrit or in any form of languages, nor about how we feel and how we look during and after performing the yoga asana exercises or poses, nor what type of benefits we are going to get from performing the yoga asana poses.

 

  • Sometimes we feel uncomfortable to do any physical activities simply because our body needs to take a break from any physical activities. Sometimes it’s because we didn’t have a good night sleep. Sometimes it’s because anxiety attack. Sometimes it’s because we have some breathing problems that we are not aware of. Sometimes it’s because we have indigestion. Sometimes it’s because our mind is disturbed or distracted by something. Sometimes it’s because of low energy level. Sometimes it’s because of intense rejection from the ego does not want to go through the purification process (physical, emotional and mental discomforts), or the ego is reluctant to perform certain movements or positions that the ego doesn’t like or doesn’t want to do (aversion).

Teaching yoga is about allowing the yoga students to experience personally what they are experiencing in the present moment now, be aware of the reality in the present moment now, and not expecting the reality to be something that they think it should be, or the way that they like it to be. And how they feel or react in the present moment now, is impermanent. They might feel differently performing the same exercises or poses in the next practice. It is not about telling them how they should feel being in certain postures or poses, or how will the positions make us feel, nor telling everyone to anticipate or expect the same type of reactions in the body and mind towards particular exercises or yoga poses. Some people might feel very uncomfortable, while some other might feel very comfortable being in the same position. And this is due to different states of the mind and different reactions coming from different types of physical body with different limitations towards the same position, and the limitation of the physical body will change.

While teaching yoga asana exercises, we can say, “Try to relax in this position… If you can’t relaxed, it’s okay. The reality is not necessary the way that we like it to be. Be aware of the reality in the present moment now, and allow the reality to be what it is… And be aware of the impermanent changes…” but we can’t really say, “You should relaxed in this position…” or “You should feel this or that in this position…” or “This position will make you feel like this or like that…” As how the people feel or what they experience being in the particular position, is not in our or their control at all. The exercises, the movements or the poses have no intention nor quality to be something comfortable or not. It cannot make us feel comfortable or uncomfortable. It is our each individual physical and mental reactions towards the exercises, the movements or the poses, that makes us feel comfortable or not. Some people might experience calmness or stimulation being in certain positions, but for some other people might be experiencing something different being in the same positions.

We can’t expect everyone to be comfortable in all the exercises or poses, at all time. We can’t expect ourselves to be comfortable in all the exercises or poses, at all time. There’s nothing wrong and it’s normal to experience discomforts from time to time physically, mentally and emotionally. This body and mind, this life existence is subject to impermanence.

When we feel uncomfortable is due to the unpleasant sensations that arise in the physical body. Yoga practice is not about only want to experience pleasant sensations and do not want to experience unpleasant sensations, or only want to be comfortable and don’t want to be uncomfortable. Yoga practice is about being aware of all these impermanent pleasant and unpleasant sensations that arise in the body from moment to moment, and not generate attachment, identification, craving or aversion towards all these impermanent sensations, and allow the reality in the present moment now as it is, not necessary it’s comfortable, or it’s the way that we like it to be.

In our own self-practice, we perform the yoga asana practice at our own pace, at our own natural breathing rhythm, within the physical limitation, and perform the yoga asana exercises and poses in accordance to the needs, the condition and abilities of the physical body and the state of the mind in the present moment now. It is not so much about following some instructions or cueing of a teacher or instructor in a class to be doing some yoga exercises in a particular style or pace.

It doesn’t matter the body will be at ease or not, being in any positions or poses, or during any physical movements. We take responsibility towards the well-being of ourselves, know when we should continue the exercises or when we should take a break, not straining the physical body to go beyond its limitation and cause unnecessary injury to the body. Allowing the physical condition, ability and limitation to be what it is and allowing the impermanent changes to be there as they are. Allowing the physical body to develop the skill, stamina, strength and flexibility gradually and naturally. Most important is the mind is at ease, remain equanimous, being free from ceaseless egoistic mental activities, undisturbed and undetermined by the impermanent condition, limitations and abilities of the physical body.

Om shanti.

Yoga classes, fitness training, motivational and empowerment workshops?

Even though the means of yoga practice is supposed to be eliminating egoism, but sometimes it is not really eliminating the ego, but instead it is empowering the ego while performing the yoga asana practice.

There’s no good or bad, right or wrong in whether we are eliminating the ego, or are empowering the ego through the yoga asana practice. It is fine whether people perform yoga asana practice is for transcending the identification with the body and mind, to realize unconditional peace and be free from egoism, ignorance and suffering, or it is for getting some benefits for the body and mind, to attain good condition of the physical body, to relax and release tension physically, mentally and emotionally, or it is for both, or it is for any other reasons.

The duty or the role of yoga teachers in guiding the yoga students to be eliminating egoism and ignorance, to transcend suffering effectively, is different from the duty or the role of fitness instructors in guiding the fitness students to be performing some exercises to attain physical, mental and emotional fitness goals or to achieve positive results effectively.

In fitness training, there’s attachment towards the fruit of the actions, or the practice, or the exercises to attain some benefits, or to achieve certain results or improvement. And we are very much influenced or determined by the result or achievement to be motivating or demotivating us to perform the exercises, to feel good or not, to be happy and confident or not.

In yoga practice, there’s no attachment towards the fruit of the actions, or the practice, or the exercises. It is not about performing the yoga asana practice to attain some benefits or to achieve certain results in return. But to allow the fruit of the actions, or the practice, or the exercises to be what it is. There is no doership. There is no identification with the body and mind, the physical condition and appearance, the physical abilities, or the state of the mind. All the yoga exercises are preparing the body and mind for meditation to contemplate upon the truth. And the truth is nothing to do with the the physical condition and appearance, the physical abilities, or the state of the mind that are impermanent. We are not influenced nor determined by the result or achievement to be motivating or demotivating us to perform the yoga (asana) practice, to feel good or not, to be happy and confident or not.

In fitness training, there are judgment, comparison, expectation, desires of craving and aversion (coming from both the teachers and the students) to be encouraging or motivating one to be performing their fitness training. The students want to be “good” students who achieve “good” results. The teachers want to be “good” teachers who give “good” results to the students. The students have expectation towards the teacher’s performance, while the teachers also have expectation towards the student’s performance. It is empowering the egoism and strengthening attachment towards worldly self-image or identification with qualities of names and forms. It is looking for some pleasant sensations in the body and mind. It is about “I want to look good.” or “I want to feel good.” It is looking forward to achieve certain qualities that our mind likes and agrees with, and want to get rid of certain qualities that our mind doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with. It is living in the state of dualism.

While in yoga practice, we are letting go the usual habits of the egoistic mind that involve lots of judgment, comparison, expectation, desires of craving and aversion in order to eliminate egoism and ignorance. It is shattering the egoism and weakening the attachment towards worldly self-image or identification with qualities of names and forms. It also involves some unpleasant purification process. It is not about “I want to look good.” or “I want to feel good.” It’s not about looking forward to achieve certain qualities that our mind likes and agrees with, nor to get rid of certain qualities that our mind doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, to be motivating us to perform yoga (asana) practice. But we allow the result of the yoga (asana) practice to be there as it is. It is living in the state of non-dualism.

In yoga practice, the teacher should be guiding the students on how to identify the egoism in them, and how to eliminate the ego and remove ignorance, by stop giving the ego what it likes and wants. The teacher allows the students to find the highest teacher within themselves and it’s not about following or listening to what the teacher tells them about what they should do or believe, and what they should not do nor believe. The teacher is free from egoism and attachment towards qualities of names and forms, and allows the students to be free from egoism and attachment towards qualities of names and forms. It is not about “be positive” at all. It is seeing the truth of names and forms as they are, that all these names and forms are neither positive nor negative.

In fitness classes, we will hear the teacher constantly motivates the students by using a lot of “positive”, “encouraging”, “uplifting” and “acknowledging” words. “Keep it up!”, “That’s very good!”, “Well done!”, “You are very good!”, “You can do it!”, and etc. It’s the ego that needs to rely on these positive, encouraging, uplifting and acknowledging words to be motivating them to do better or to work harder. Or else the ego feels demotivated or discouraged to strive to do better or to improve. This is empowering the egoism, by giving what the ego likes and wants.

How the yoga teacher teaches the students in performing the yoga (asana) practice cannot be judged with how the fitness instructor teaches the fitness students. Out of compassion towards the students, the teacher starves the ego of the students by not giving what their ego likes and wants. This type of teaching method might be criticized by worldly minded thinking as “unmotivating”, “cold” and “hard”.

There’s nothing wrong with different types of “motivational” and “empowerment” workshops or classes in this world to bring “positive changes” and “motivations” to many people to bring out the best in us, to find the meanings of life, to live a more meaningful life, to have better relationship with anyone, and be successful and happy in life. It will help to boost up the self-confidence and strengthen one’s ability to think and act, so that people can enjoy a better quality of life. But this doesn’t really help to remove the root cause of affliction or suffering. As it is the ego that needs all these “motivational” training to improve “self-confidence”, to be “better”, “to be “good” and “to be successful”, so that the ego will feel good and happy about itself and about life, when its desires are fulfilled, when condition is good, when things are the way that it likes it to be.

In motivational and empowerment workshops, many of them are about strengthening the self-image and empowering the identification with certain qualities of names and forms, and what we think we know and have, to be who we are. It’s about empowering our intention and desires to bring out the best in us to achieve what we like and want. There’s totally nothing wrong about this. Since not many people are interested in ultimate freedom that is free from being conditioned by qualities of names and forms due to egoism, ignorance and attachment, but rather interested in chasing after qualities of names and forms that they like and want, that will give them the sense of achievement, satisfaction and happiness that they want.

If we are interested to attain ultimate freedom or unconditional peace and happiness, we need to be free from egoism, ignorance and attachment. Be free from being disturbed, affected, influenced and determined by all the qualities of names and forms that our mind perceives through the senses from moment to moment, and thus be free from restlessness or unhappiness that derived from impurities that arise due to reactions of the ego towards what it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with. We do our best to perform actions but not attach to the actions and the fruit of actions, and allow the reality to be what it is, as it is.

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.

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.

Give yourself 15 minutes, to get you going in daily yoga asana practice…

Before the start of yoga asana practice, it’s normal that our mind feels reluctant to move the physical body. We will give ourselves ‘reasonable’ excuses to escape a two hours of daily yoga asana practice.

The point is, even before we bring the body to perform daily yoga asana practice, to overcome that ‘laziness’ or ‘struggle’ is our real yoga practice.

To develop strong self-discipline in anything that we want to pursue is indeed our yoga practice. It’s not so much about how good we are in what we are doing. But to keep up the discipline is where the practice is.

It is only the first 15 minutes of physical movements that we feel ‘struggle’. After 15 minutes or so, it will turn into ‘enjoyable’ and ‘energizing’ that you don’t want to be disturbed until you finish your daily two hours routine.

That’s why I encourage anyone to do some yoga asana practice even just for 15 minutes (It’s a trick, but it works). Because that is what you need to get your body going. You will no longer need someone to ‘push’ you to ‘finish’ your daily 2 hours routine. As the energy fields in your body will tell you, “Yes! Keep going… 15 minutes is not enough.”

Om shanti.

Adjust ourselves to adapt and accommodate the yoga (asana) classes, is part of our yoga practice…

Yoga classes are different from fitness exercise classes, where the fitness exercise class format and intensity is purposely designed and adjusted to suit each individual different fitness level and liking. Especially when it is about running a commercial business to provide physical health and fitness exercise classes or services to the clients, then the classes have to be designed into multi levels, different varieties and choices to suit all and everyone, try to ‘make sure’ everyone is happy and satisfied with the classes and services that the fitness centres provide and sell.

Naturally, when we attend yoga (asana) classes, we usually like to attend the type of yoga (asana) class that is catering for the fitness level that we think we have, and is designed to suit our liking (what types of asana practice and intensity that we prefer, of what we like and want to do).

Very often in the commercial types of yoga (asana) classes, when we don’t like the type of yoga asana exercises and intensity that the teacher teaches in the class, we will go to the teacher and tell the teacher what we want for that yoga class, and expect or demand the teacher to give us some other types of exercises and intensity that we prefer, depending on our mood and what we like and want to do for that class.

In fitness classes, it’s about what ‘the clients’ want and like, and give them what they want and like. ‘I’ pay to get what ‘I’ want and like, and so, give me what ‘I’ want and don’t give me what ‘I’ don’t want.

But yoga classes is different from fitness classes. Yoga classes are here for us to learn about life, and to accept life as it is, while we do our best to adjust and accommodate every situation and condition that is not necessarily the way that we think it should be, or how we like it to be.

It is for us to practice letting go of the ego, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements. It is for us to let go of craving and clinging onto something that our ego likes and agrees with, and let go of aversion towards something that our ego doesn’t like and disagrees with.

It is not about what type of yoga asana exercises and intensity that we do in the yoga class that matters. It is the practice of non-attachment and letting go while performing the yoga asana exercises that our ego likes or dislikes, agrees and disagrees with.

It doesn’t matter what is the format and intensity of the yoga class that is being taught by the yoga teacher, we do our best in that class. Do what we can do, and not forcing ourselves to do what we cannot do in that present moment, according to the condition and abilities of the physical body in that time being. Accepting the present condition and abilities of the physical body as it is. Allow impermanent changes to happen from moment to moment and accept all the changes as they are.

Sometimes we find the same type of asana practice is harder for us, and sometimes it’s easier for us. It’s not because of the exercises or the intensity of the yoga (asana) class is different from what it was that makes us feel harder or easier, but it is because of our own impermanent physical conditions and abilities, as well as the state of our mind that is constantly changing.

We adjust ourselves into any types of yoga classes and different intensity. We accept and accommodate the yoga class as it is, without judgment about the yoga class as easy or difficult, nor judging our performance, our physical conditions and abilities as good or bad. Without expectation towards the yoga class that it should be something that we like it to be, or expect the yoga practice or yoga exercises to be adjusted to accommodate what we like and want. Without expecting our performance to be the way that we think it should be. If we have certain physical limitations, or illness, or injuries during that time being, we adapt ourselves into the practice by making some adjustment, without expecting the class to be adjusted and to accommodate our physical limitations.

Life doesn’t adjust itself to suit our preferences, and it doesn’t accommodate our liking to be something that we like it to be. But, instead we have to learn to adjust ourselves to adapt any life situations, and be able to accommodate any life conditions as it is.

We cannot expect life or the world to be the way that we like and want it to be. We will be very disappointed by our own expectation, as the entire worldly life existence doesn’t belong us, nor in our control of how we want it to be.

We allow life and the world to be what it is, while do our best in adjusting ourselves to adapt and accommodate life as it is, not necessarily the way that we like it to be.

Om shanti.

Advancing or improving in yoga and meditation practice?

How do we know if we are advancing or improving in our yoga and meditation practice?

When somebody come to a yoga class, we all want to know the different levels of yoga classes and what level are we being categorized into.

Nowadays in most of the yoga clubs, yoga centres or yoga studios, yoga (asana) classes are being separated into beginner level, intermediate level and advance level. And usually the different levels of these yoga classes are being categorized, or determined, or judged by the degrees of difficulty or complexity of the yoga asana poses that requires certain degrees of skills, physical fitness level, stamina, strength and flexibility.

The yoga students are being categorized into beginner level, intermediate level or advance level by themselves or by the yoga teachers based on their physical condition and abilities to perform the yoga asana exercises. The people who are physically fit and are able to perform the complicated yoga asana poses are being put into advance level yoga class, and call themselves advance yoga practitioner. And those who has a weak and inflexible physical body, and are only able to perform some simple and easy yoga asana poses, they are being put into beginner level yoga class, and call themselves beginner yoga practitioner. But this is not what yoga practice really is about.

A person who has a very fit, strong and flexible physical body, who only goes to ‘advance level yoga classes’ can still be a very ‘beginner’ yoga practitioner even after many years of ‘advance yoga practice’.

A person who doesn’t has a fit, strong or flexible physical body, who can only goes to ‘beginner level yoga classes’ can be a very ‘advance’ yoga practitioner even he or she hasn’t done many, or never done any ‘yoga practice’ before.

It is about the state of mind. It’s about how pure is the mind and how well the mind is tamed. Even if the physical body can be trained to perform many ‘difficult’ asana poses, but it doesn’t determine whether the mind is well-controlled as well.

In the end, beyond names and forms, there’s no level at all.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

If the mind is becoming more peaceful, cheerful, clear and open-minded, whether being in comfortable or discomfortable condition and situation. The mind starts to be able to be balanced in both pleasure and pain;

If calmness of the mind is able to sustain for longer period of time, being less disturbed, or less affected, or less determined, or less influenced by the qualities of names and forms, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements;

If the ego (the idea of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, pride and arrogance) is getting smaller or weaker;

If selfish desires, or wants and don’t wants are getting less;

If attachment is becoming less, while non-attachment is getting stronger;

If impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, fear, worry, disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, irritation, agitation, aggressiveness, pride, arrogance, craving and aversion are becoming less, and are losing their strength to influence our action and reaction, and eventually all these impurities are disappearing from the mind;

If argument, criticism, complaint, defensiveness, offensiveness and self-justification are becoming less and disappearing;

If greed, possessiveness, ill will, petty-mindedness, hypocrisy, evil thinking, actions and speech are becoming less and disappearing;

If patience, perseverance, determination, forbearance, forgiveness, humility, contentment, acceptance, adaptation, adjustment, accommodation and tolerance are getting stronger;

If we start to becoming more aware of all the activities in the mind, without identification or association, without judgment or expectation;

If we start to be able to accept the reality of everything as it is, even if the reality is not something that we like it to be, and stop trying to control or change the reality that we don’t like into something that we prefer;

If the mind starts to turn inward and performs self-introspection towards the mind activities, and less going outward chasing after worldly objects of names and forms, material and sensual enjoyment;

If we start to see our own defilements and being aware of the ego, and know how to take full responsibility for our own physical and mental well-being, happiness and unhappiness;

If we are able to respect everyone as they are, without discrimination or trying to change other beings to be the way that we like them to be, or what we think they should be;

We are able to have certain types of beliefs, disciplines or principles of life, but we keep it to ourselves, and allow other beings to have different types of beliefs, disciplines or principles of life from us;

We are able to let go of emotional turbulence a little faster and easier than before;

We can go to sleep without being worried or mentally disturbed by what we had experienced in the day;

We have less projections into the future, less imagining or anticipating about what is going to happen next;

We start to be able to forbear or withstand insults, criticism or condemn without generate anger and hatred;

The mind can be in the present easier and longer than before; And etc;

Then we are advancing or improving in yoga and meditation practice. It doesn’t matter if it is a huge improvement, or just a small little improvement.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Even though our physical body fitness level and health condition are improving due to the regular yoga asana or pranayama practice; and the body is developing physical stamina, strength and flexibility, and is capable of performing many of the yoga asana poses that it couldn’t perform before; but due to certain ‘reasons’ that the mind has not been getting any of the above mental and spiritual improvements significantly, then we are not really improving in the yoga and meditation practice.

If so, we need to find out why we haven’t really improve anything at all, and work on it. Without judgment or expectation, nor comparing with other yoga practitioners, just keep practice.

As during and after the yoga practice, the mind might feels good and experiences some sorts of contentment, or pleasant sensations, or relaxation in the physical body, but very soon this contentment, pleasant sensations and good feelings will be disturbed and disappearing, and there are more tension continue to be accumulated in the body and mind coming from our everyday life experiences, or derived from the reactions of the egoistic, impure and untrained mind towards what it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks.

The mind is constantly swaying between the states of elevation, calmness and depression, being restless and dissatisfied even though sometimes it experiences momentary contentment and peacefulness coming from performing the yoga and meditation practice.

This is because we haven’t really been practicing yoga in our everyday life experiences.

We didn’t know what is non-identification with the body and mind, but instead we attached strongly to the body and mind, and identified with the body and mind as ‘I’. We didn’t know what is perform all actions without attachment, or what is renounce from the fruit of action, but instead we attached strongly to our actions, and have great expectation towards the fruit of action, and be determined by the fruit of action to motivate or demotivate us to perform action.

We think, “The thinking mind is ‘I’. The physical body is ‘I’. ‘I’ am the one who sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks. ‘I’ am the one who feels good or bad, happy or sad. ‘I’ am a good person. ‘I’ do good actions and ‘I’ will be receiving something good in return. ‘I’ am a yogi. ‘I’ am a meditator. ‘I’ am the one who is performing all these yoga and meditation practice, and ‘I’ will be getting the benefits from performing the yoga and meditation practice.”

How many people who practice yoga will think and say this, “I practice yoga. I have been practicing yoga for how long. I am a yoga practitioner or a yogi. I am a yoga student or yoga teacher. I love yoga. I can do this yoga asana. I cannot do that yoga asana. I like this yoga asana pose. I don’t like this yoga asana pose. I like to do this. I don’t like to do this. I am not strong or flexible. I want to be strong and flexible. I want to be like him or her. I like this type of teaching and classes, I don’t like this type of teaching and classes. I prefer a more gentle practice. I prefer a more intense practice.” And so on.

We didn’t know what is the ego or how to let go of the ego, but instead we are constantly empowering the ego while performing our yoga practice. We didn’t know what is letting go of craving and aversion, but instead we are generating more craving and aversion in our yoga practice, towards the yoga asana poses that we like or dislike.

We didn’t know what is real and unreal, but instead we are being over-powered by ignorance and selfish desires, constantly chasing after for the unreal or impermanent objects of the senses, such like pleasant sensations and good feelings, and good condition of the physical body, which are the ‘side effects’ of the yoga practice, but not the main objective of performing the yoga practice.

We didn’t know what is non-judgment, but instead we are constantly judging ourselves and other people, and judging the practice all the time while performing the yoga practice, and be determined and troubled by our own judgment about everyone and everything. We judge the yoga class or yoga session as good or bad. We judge the yoga teacher as good or bad. We judge the type of yoga teachings or practice being taught in the class as good or bad. We judge our performance as good or bad. We judge the yoga asana exercises as good or bad.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Yoga and meditation practice is not limited in a yoga or meditation class, but to be practiced in everyday life existence.

As the entire yoga and meditation practice is a purification process for the mind to eliminate impurities, ignorance and egoism. It is about conquering our own mind, changing the conditioned habits of the mind, realization of the truth, going beyond the qualities of names and forms or duality, be free from craving and aversion, and be free from restlessness or affliction that derived from attachment towards the body and the mind, and the qualities of names and forms. This is not determined by the fitness level, or health condition, or strength and flexibility of the physical body.

Purification of the mind, controlling the mind, eliminating the egoism and ignorance, eliminating craving and aversion, is not a ‘pleasant’ experience for most people. Especially during the purification process. The egoistic mind will rejects, generates great resistance towards its own destruction. And this resistance is manifested in the physical body as discomfortable sensations, or tiredness, or low energy level.

In fact, the purification process is quite discomfortable, or even painful or difficult for some people. Depending on the strength of the ego, and the past accumulated tension, impression or impurities in the body and mind, there will be different layers of physical, mental and emotional discomfort manifesting in the body and mind. We need to have patience and perseverance to forbear or endure all these discomfortable experiences being part of the purification process of eliminating the egoism and ignorance.

The mind will see a lot of ‘ugly’ sides of itself. Sometimes due to pride and arrogance, the mind does not want to admit or confront with all these defilements, and wants to avoid or reject the purification process coming from yoga and meditation practice. It will give itself many excuses or reasons why the body and mind should not continue practicing yoga and meditation, or to take a break from the practice for some time. This is a common obstacle in the journey towards realization of the truth.

If we are able to forbear or endure all the discomfortable manifestations during the purification process without any expectations, it will be followed by unconditional and unlimited joy and peace, and real contentment or satisfaction coming from being free from attachment, egoism, ignorance and impurities.

Om shanti.

My life stories – Part 10

My life Stories – Part 10
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

We had been travelling a lot being away from Langkawi last year. Wherever we went, we enjoyed our stay and travel in these different places with different cultures, scenery and climates. We are also very happy to be back in Langkawi not travelling to some other places. Living in Langkawi isn’t any much different from being in a beautiful holiday destination. Many people from around the world come here for holidays. Throughout our travelling during our stay with our family and friends, and staying in many different tourists guest houses, I continued my daily yoga asana practice wherever we went, in additional of the yoga practice within the mind every moment which is unseen from the appearance.

Yoga asana practice coordinates with the breath which requires certain amount of self-discipline, faith, concentration, awareness, acceptance, adjustment, determination, forbearance and perseverance, isn’t all of yoga. It’s one of the many sides of the yoga practice which can help us to influence the state of the mind, to purify the mind, to bring the mind into the present, to channel our energy into performing spiritual practice to realize unconditional love and peace, to develop divine elements or qualities to counter evil or negative tendencies, to develop non-attachment and non-identification with the body and mind, to let go of the ego, cravings and aversions, and eventually be free form all sorts of suffering that derived from ignorance and egoism.

Yoga asana practice being practiced with the correct attitude and understanding helps us to realize and accept the truth of impermanence in everything, for us to be able to let go of attachment towards the qualities of name and form, and thus be unaffected, or undisturbed, or undetermined by the impermanent qualities of name and form that the mind perceives through the senses. It also helps to maintain a better condition of physical and mental health for us to make good use of this body and mind, or this life existence, to help ourselves to have peace and to serve other beings.

At home in Langkawi, whether we are running yoga retreats, or not, I maintain my daily yoga asana practice even if it’s only for one hour in the evening after sending our retreat guests back to the guest house. When we are running yoga retreats, I will get up around 6.00 am, and will be continued busy until after 9.00 pm, or sometimes after 10.30 pm if we bring our guests to the town for dinner and to explore the local night market. When there is a short break in between yoga classes, I’ll still be busy with preparing the dinner.

I enjoy very much being busy with running the yoga retreats, teaching yoga classes, doing the maintenance works like cleaning and tidying our yoga studio and our home, where our retreats’ guests have their meals with us, being the driver sending our guests between our yoga studio and the guest house, shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables and what we need for the retreats, and cooking for our guests.

When there are no yoga retreats, I also enjoy having more free time for ourselves (my husband and I) spending time together going to the beach, or to the waterfalls and to do the things that we aren’t able to do when we are running the retreats. Usually I practice my daily asana routine for about two hours when we are not running retreats, as well as writing some blog posts inspired by my daily personal yoga practice and from giving yoga classes.

Rarely, some days I will take rest from asana practice. I don’t feel bad or uncomfortable when I don’t perform asana practice for a day or a few days, as that is the resting moments which my body requires for that time being, to be away from too many physical activities. It doesn’t matter if there’s no suitable time or space for me to practice yoga asana, the yoga practice within will never stop.

During our travelling in India for more than one an a half months, I had encountered quite serious discomforts on my left knee coming from old injuries resulted from my previously more than twenty years of high impact fitness workouts and competitive physical trainings for competitions. I couldn’t walk properly. It woke me up during my sleep for many nights. But still, it didn’t stop me from doing my daily yoga asana practice. I still continued with my yoga asana practice with some modifications to allow my knee to heal itself with some exercises that help to strengthen and maintain the mobility of the muscular tendons that support the knees. In the present, after almost four months having discomforts on my left knee, it’s back to its normal condition (discomforts free).

These are the videos of my daily yoga asana practice in India while having the knee discomforts. It wasn’t much different from my usual asana practice, but I performed the exercises with some adjustments to accommodate the discomforts in my left knee :

 

Basically, I live a very simple lifestyle. Besides the daily life routines, I spend most of the time doing yoga, purifying the thoughts, speech and actions, observing the mind and watching the ego, developing and strengthening the inner strength and inner flexibility, letting go of selfish desires, cravings and aversions, and any impurities or impure thoughts that arise in the mind; running yoga retreats, giving yoga classes and sharing yoga through the blogs. I spend some of the time on doing house works, washing and cleaning which I enjoy very much. I never feel there’s any separation from yoga whether I am doing some yoga practice in particular name and form, or not.

It doesn’t matter my body is at rest or in action, being with some other people or being with myself, I don’t feel separation from yoga. Whatever I do or don’t do, all are not separated from yoga practice. Buddhism practice, Karma yoga, Raja yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga are all in actions and inactions. It’s all about eliminating the selfish egoism, to remove ignorance, to be free. All these are the yoga and meditation practice in life every moment.

I spend lots of time being with myself (whether surrounded by people and happenings, or being alone), especially when there are no retreats. I don’t feel myself being isolated from anything or anyone, even when I am alone by myself. I don’t feel that I need to be in certain place, or be with certain people, or to do certain things, to feel good, happy, meaningful, love and peace. Wherever I am or I am not, whatever I am doing or I am not doing, I am at ease. Usually I stay out of unnecessary ‘troubles’ when I can see them coming. If I can’t avoid them, I accept them as they are.

I try to stay away from social gossips and vain talks as much as possible.

I don’t need to go to Ashrams or silent retreats to cut off from social life activities for me to observe silence, seclusion, self-contemplation, self-discipline, or to practice yoga and meditation, although occasionally I will spend some time in the Ashrams and silent retreat centres. But there’s no difference for me in my own practice, whether I am inside or outside of the Ashrams and retreat centres. As the mind is being in the present follows wherever the body goes.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Before we moved to this house where we are living now, I didn’t cook at all. My husband did all the cooking for the meals of our yoga retreats. I had started preparing food and cooking for our yoga retreats only about a few months ago. This was possible after we had rented this house with bigger kitchen and dining hall, and we only use the wooden house as yoga studio for the retreats classes and activities. It’s also conveniently located very close by to our yoga studio.

I enjoy very much preparing and cooking the food for our yoga retreat guests. I had no idea how to cook or what to cook, but I was determined to try to learn to cook from watching you tube videos and getting recipes from the Internet. My husband was my food taster. It didn’t matter to me in the beginning the food tasted not so good. I kept trying to experiment cooking. Until my husband thought it was good enough, I started preparing and cooking the dishes for our yoga retreats.

Because I love eating Malaysian food, Chinese food and Thai food, I have been trying to cook a few dishes like Chinese style stir-fried different types of vegetables, vegetarian Thai green curry, vegetarian Nyonya sambal with Tempe, Achar – vegetables pickles, boiled or mashed potato, vegetable soups, pan fried or grilled mushrooms. Basically I didn’t have precise measurement for the ingredients that I use. That’s why they tasted slightly different every time when I cooked. My husband will prepare the Chickpeas curry, Turmeric tofu with ginger and lemon grass, vegetarian lasagna with Tempe, hummus, tahini, condiment dressings for salads, home made bread and a few other vegetable dishes which I haven’t know how to cook yet. He is a very good cook.

I am contented, grateful and appreciate the present living condition which is very conducive and convenient for me to practice yoga and what we are doing in the present moment, as well as what and where the universe is leading us, or going to lead us.

Om shanti.

Yoga practice is not separated from yoga philosophy or everyday life…

Without yoga philosophy or yoga teachings and without life, there is no yoga practice… It is a contradiction when we say that we want to practice yoga but we do not want to practice the yoga philosophy or the teachings, or we can only practice yoga in yoga classes and retreats, but we cannot practice yoga in everyday life. As when we really practice yoga, we are actually practicing the yoga philosophy or the teachings practically in everyday life, as yoga practice is not just about doing some physical yoga exercises in yoga classes or retreats…

Even though some people practice yoga asana poses regularly by attending yoga classes for many years, and we can perform many of the complicated asana poses that require certain degrees of physical strength and flexibility, and our physical fitness level is at the peak level, it still doesn’t guarantee us peace, compassion and wisdom. We still can be not free from impurities, ignorance, anger, hatred, jealousy, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, fear, worry, cravings, aversions, unhappiness, and doubts…

We (out of ignorance) might even think and believe that “To share or teach yoga, yoga teachers need to be qualified or certified by some recognized yoga affiliations. And as yoga teachers, they should be able to do all the yoga asana poses and know all their names in Sanskrit by hard, and they should be able to touch their head with their feet from behind…”

We judge and categorize a yoga teacher, yoga practitioner and the yoga practice (beginner, intermediate or advance level) based on the fitness level of physical strength and flexibility to perform the asana poses, or based on how many hours of yoga courses we had attended in the past…

Some people said that they only want to practice “yoga” but they don’t agree with or cannot accept the yoga philosophy or teachings… What they actually mean is that they only want to do the yoga asana exercises as it makes them feel good, fit, strong and flexible, but they do not want to know anything about letting go of the ego, letting go of pride and arrogance, letting go of selfish desires and attachments, letting go of cravings and aversions, letting go of judgment and expectation, letting go of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, fear and worry, and etc…

They are not interested at all to practice non-attachment, or to know about the mind, or to realize unconditional peace, selflessness or compassion. They say it is impossible to practice all these “philosophy” or teachings of yoga in their everyday life, living and working in the big city of the competitive modern world. They think these yoga philosophy or teachings can only be practiced in peaceful quiet environment where there is no external distraction, or disturbance, or tension, or stressful elements… There is nothing wrong with this type of thinking, as just by doing the physical exercise is already a very good pastime activity to improve our physical and mental health and fitness…

The main obstacle that contributes to this type of understanding is our own egoistic mind being not knowing or being unaware of the ignorance in the mind, due to ignorance (absence of wisdom)… Just like the eyes can only see what is in front of it, but it couldn’t see itself. It can perceive objects, names and forms in front of it, but it couldn’t perceive itself… It needs a mirror (reflection) to see itself. And this mirror, is awareness from the higher mind, to be aware of the ignorance in us, to be aware that there are impurities in our mind that hinder us from seeing the truth of things as it is, to be aware that it is our own mind being responsible for the happiness and unhappiness in us…

The one who thinks and believes that “It is not possible to practice yoga in everyday modern competitive hectic lifestyle and stressful working environment” or “Yoga can only be practiced in a yoga and meditation retreat centre with peaceful quiet environment away from all sorts of distractions, disturbance, tension and stressful elements”, is our egoistic mind.

We (our mind) think and believe that there is an “I”. We (the egoistic mind) think and believe that this body and this mind, and all its modifications (sensations, feelings, emotions, thinking, believes, personalities, characteristics, actions and reactions, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, wants and don’t wants, self-image, self-worth, self-esteem, and etc) belongs to “I”, and they are who “I” am.

It’s because of this wrong identification or incorrect understanding, we (the egoistic mind) have selfish intentions (good or bad intention) to motivate us to perform actions, we have selfish desires and attachments. From these selfish intentions, desires and attachments, we have expectations. We expect to receive the fruit of our actions the way that we like it to be (craving for something that we like and agree with), and expect not to receive the fruit of our actions the way that we don’t like it to be (aversion towards something that we don’t like and disagree with)…

From expectations, we have cravings and aversions. From cravings and aversions, we have fear, restlessness, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, disappointment, frustration, irritation, pride, arrogance, self-protection (something like “I’ll kill you first before you kill me”). And all these impurities strengthen the ignorance… And ignorance strengthens the egoism… And egoism strengthens all the selfish intentions, desires and attachments, and thus strengthens expectation, cravings and aversions, and thus strengthens fear and all the other impurities, and so on…

When we say we cannot let go of the ego, it is actually our egoistic mind being reluctant to let go of its selfish desires and attachments. We do not want to let go of this “I”, who we think what we are…

We do not want, or we have fear of letting go of the self-image that we have been building up for this “I” with such and such qualities that we would like us to be… We identify ourselves as “somebody” with all these qualities that we possess (qualities that we like and agree with) and don’t possess (qualities that we don’t like and disagree with).

We want to protect this self-image to the extend that we will say and do things that will hurt ourselves and other beings. We do not want this self-image to be damaged or stained by any external elements, such like judgments come from people whom we come in contact with, relationships status, friendships status, things, happenings, social status, career status, and etc, as we (the egoistic mind) depend on all these elements to support and compliment us for who we think what we are.

When we realize compassion that is free from (or by letting go of) attachments, craving and aversion, separateness, discrimination, selfish desires, possessiveness, judgment and expectation, we will be able to perform all our duties and responsibility at home, at work or in the society, without being affected or determined by our actions and the result of our actions, whether the actions are being performed for ourselves or for other beings, whether it is a job that is getting some pay, or it is a volunteering work without getting any pay. We are able to perform all actions without fear, without selfish intentions, desires and attachments, without possessiveness and expectation… There is no stress, tension, expectation, disappointment, as there is no such thing as success or failure when we renounce the fruit of actions… We do our best in everything we do, and we renounce from the fruit of our actions. We are not affected nor determined by the result of our actions, or other people’s reactions towards our actions.

Compassion and friendliness is nothing to do with how many personal friends or good friends that we know and have, whom we can spend time with, to eat, to drink, to talk and to do things together (or how many friendships that we have been accumulating and possessed), or whether we have an active social lifestyle or not. It is being free from ill-will, or hatred, or discrimination, or judgment, or expectation, or fear towards any beings, even if some of the beings’ thinking and behaviors are not what we like nor what we can agree with…

When we have selfish intentions, desires and attachments, cravings and aversions, expectations and fear, we will identify or categorize the people or beings whom we like and agree with, as friends. And we will identify or categorize the people or beings whom we don’t like and disagree with, as not friends (or as enemies)… These are friendships or social networks that are made under the influence of our selfish intentions, desires, attachments, cravings and aversions, likes and dislikes, discrimination, judgment, expectation and fear…

When we see a poisonous snake in front of us, out of fear and self-protection (by imagining, or anticipating, or expecting the snake is going to harm us), we might attack and hurt the snake first, even if the snake has no intention to harm us at all… This is selfishness and ignorance… This is absence of compassion and wisdom…

Yoga practice is in life. In our every moment of existence.

Om shanti.