The great impact of what the yoga teachers deliver to the people in the yoga classes

What the yoga teachers deliver to the people in the ‘yoga asana exercise classes’ generate a great impact on how the people understand about yoga, especially when they teach yoga asana exercise class as merely a fitness exercise class to attain some benefits for health and fitness to look good and feel good, in oppose to teaching yoga asana practice as one of the many yoga practice to discipline the ignorant, egoistic, impure, passionate and restless mind, to prepare the mind for meditation to attain self-realization.

There is a difference between “Yoga is just a physical exercise” and “Yoga asana practice is a physical exercise”.

There’s nothing wrong with “Yoga asana practice is a physical exercise” because yoga asana practice is a form of physical exercise/postures, but it is beyond just a form of physical exercise for attaining health and fitness benefits, because it is one of the tools in yoga to serve the purpose of influencing the state of the mind, to render it calm and quiet, to prepare the mind for meditation upon the truth of names and forms.

Meanwhile, Yoga is not a physical exercise at all. It’s a profound knowledge and practice or wisdom for all beings who seek ultimate liberation from suffering, to transcend all kinds of suffering from its root cause – Ignorance and egoism.

There are ‘yoga teachers’ and ‘yoga medias’ deliver the message about “Yoga is just a physical exercise”. It’s ignorance feeding deeper ignorance. They are responsible for why many people think that they are ‘practicing yoga’ and that they love ‘yoga’ so much because they have been attending ‘yoga asana exercise class’ regularly for many years with the understanding that “yoga is just a physical exercise” because that is what the ‘yoga teachers’ and ‘yoga medias’ have been delivering to them. And when they come in contact with the teachings and the traditional practice of yoga, especially the parts that their minds dislike and disagree with, they generate aversion, dissatisfaction and disappointment, and complain that “This is not yoga (that they think what it supposed to be)”.

When these people who think they love ‘yoga’ (actually what they love is the ‘yoga asana exercise’ and the effects and benefits of the yoga asana exercise) have the chance to experience the traditional yoga practice that integrate the entire teachings of yoga of the elimination of ignorance and egoism into the yoga classes (where yoga asana practice is just a small part of the yoga practice), these people will be in great shock. Some of them might open up their mind to relearn what yoga is about, but many of them generate great aversion towards what yoga really is, and think, “This is not yoga!” or “This is not the yoga that I know that I want!”. Not just that they don’t like yoga as it is, which actually is quite an unpleasant purification process/experience/journey for many egoistic impure minds conditioned by worldly cultural, religious, social and personal thinking and belief, they also condemn yoga (not the ‘yoga’ that they think it should be), the yoga practice of eliminating ignorance and egoism, and the people who teach yoga (those who deliver yoga as it is).

Especially in the traditional ashrams or yoga retreats centres that provide the facilities to conduct yoga courses and retreats for people who want to learn and practice yoga following the tradition of yoga in an environment that allow the people to immerse into the traditional yoga practice to eliminate ignorance and egoism, it is not about ‘commercialized yoga retreats centres’ doing ‘yoga business’ where the ‘customers’ paying ‘money’ to receive some ‘customer service’, ‘special treatments’ and ‘pleasurable enjoyments’. But, it is about the peace seekers contribute some ‘fees’ to make use of the facilities and programs provided by the ashrams and retreats centres to immerse into the yoga practice where it’s about letting go of pleasurable enjoyments of receiving special treatments and customer service, but to give their ‘service’ to serve themselves and other people by observing/purifying/disciplining their own minds as well as to help to maintain the entire place to support Dharma and other people to come to the ashrams or the retreats centres to learn and practice yoga.

During the course or retreat, one practice yoga of changing the egoistic habits of the mind. If there is attachment and identification, let them go. If there is craving or aversion, let them go. If there is pride and arrogance, let them go. If there is defensiveness and offensiveness, let them go. If there is dissatisfaction and disappointment, let them go. If there is anger and hatred, let them go. If there is intolerance and frustration, let them go. If there is fear and worry, let them go. If there is petty-mindedness and covertness, let them go. And so on.

In a simple term, peace seekers come to the ashrams or retreats centres and ‘pay’ to learn and practice “How to take care of oneself or one’s mind”. They learn to develop self-awareness, self-discipline and self-independence to perform their yoga practice, maintaining the tidiness and cleanliness of their own living space and practice space, mind their own practice/minds, and most important is to observe silence and solitude to reduce inputs and outputs of the mind, to silent the restless outgoing mind.

There is also a huge difference between the message of “Yoga asana practice is a physical exercise for health and fitness” and “Yoga asana practice is one of the many yoga practice to discipline the impure restless mind to prepare the mind for meditation to be free from ignorance and egoism to realize the truth of names and forms, to transcend suffering and realize unconditional love and peace, or selflessness and compassion, as the greatest meanings of life and greatest form of contribution to the world to serve humanity”.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want and don’t want, and whether they want to practice yoga as it is, or not. Yoga teachers should teach/deliver yoga as it is, and allowing everyone to decide what they want or don’t want to practice. It’s okay if people don’t want to practice yoga but only want to do some exercise for health and fitness benefits, but with the correct understanding about what is yoga.

Be free.

Advertisements

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Om shanti.

Yoga practice 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.