This is part of my daily asana practice.
This is part of my daily asana practice in the midst of menstruation. I have no particular diet restriction/preference or ancient belief practice and cultural rules to observe during menstruation, but just do whatever my body feels comfortable in the present moment. I would take complete rest from physical activities if that’s what my body needs. I am now entering my 50’s in another few months and transitioning towards menopause. Thanks to all my on going physical exercises since I was a child I never had any problems with menstruation and it was always punctual except once when it was late for two weeks due to the intense physical training when I was participating in the FISAF world sport aerobics championship 2002 in France.
Wishing everyone peace during this time being.
This is part of my daily asana practice.
Through prolonged period of persistent regular self-practice in solitude without attachment, identification or expectation, without straining the body or without forcing the body beyond its limitation, with the correct understanding and attitude while performing the yoga asana practice that might be different in each practice according to the present condition of the physical body and the state of the mind, allowing the practice and the fruit of practice being what it is, until the body and the mind developed the effortless physical and mental endurance and adaptability, turning the outgoing mind inward living in the present dispassionately free from the desire of craving and aversion, being undetermined by all the different quality of names and forms of impermanent life experiences and conditions, naturally, the practice will become effortless, and the mind will be rendered calm and quiet selflessly and intentionlessly. It’s not about the ability, the performance and the benefit of doing the different yoga asana poses or movements. It’s letting go the ego and egoism. All is impermanent.
Wishing everyone peace during this time being.
This is part of my daily asana practice post stamina training rest day practice.
Wishing everyone peace during this time being.
Distraction, inattentiveness, boredom, irritability, impatience, intolerance and outgoing pleasure/fun/enjoyment/excitement/adventure/interaction seeking tendency are some of the obstacles for those who have interest or aspiration in learning and practicing yoga, especially when joining a serious yoga and/or meditation retreat which emphasizing on learning and practicing traditional yoga and meditation to quiet the restless mind, to purify the mind impurities, to eliminate egoism, to allow the mind to reflect upon the truth of names and forms and all the teachings, to allow the mind to know what is going on in the mind or to know thyself, to free the mind from ignorance and suffering, the by-products or consequences of ignorance.
Holding a position such as sitting forward bend for more than a few seconds would appear to be challenging or unbearable for these minds. The minds get bored, impatient and irritable when holding the sitting forward bend or in a lying position during the relaxation for a prolong period of time quietly in stillness. The minds also reluctant to proceed a little more or further in the entire practice once experiencing slight tiredness or discomforts, as they don’t want to forbear or tolerate slightest of tiredness or discomforts.
These minds enjoy very much constant movements of the physical body such like sun salutations, but only as long as there’s absence of tiredness or discomforts. They also prefer the back bending series or challenging balancing series more than the other positions as these movements excite/stimulate the energy fields or the mind, not so much of holding the positions for a prolong period of time, but just to get into the positions and out of the positions quickly. It’s the same as for all the other positions, these minds get into any positions quickly in a rush and don’t like to stay in the positions for longer than a few seconds and eagerly want to come out from the positions quickly. If they ‘have to’ stay in the positions, they won’t stay still for a second, they would move around, such like looking around or playing with their fingers, toes, skin, hair, or clothing.
These minds have intense dislike or aversion towards aloneness or being with people that don’t interest them; non-talking or talking about things that don’t interest them; non-interaction or interaction with people that don’t interest them; silence/quietness or noises/sounds/speech that they don’t like; mental and physical stillness or mental and physical training/practice/activity that they don’t like; restricting the thought activities or focusing the mind at one point for a prolong period of time; or listening to the teachings of yoga of the annihilation of ignorance and egoism, of desireless, dispassion and renunciation that appear to be non-interesting, or irrelevant, or disagreeable to the minds.
Usually, these minds will feel regret for participating in such retreat and eagerly want to give up half way through the retreat and think of many ‘reasonable’ excuses to ‘runaway’ from the retreat.
“It’s so fun and pleasurable when we can be attending parties/celebrations/festivals, dancing and listening to upbeat loud musics, eating, drinking and smoking while talking, flirting, gossiping and laughing with many like-minded ‘friends’ and enjoying outdoor adventurous activities while looking at beautiful scenery are so much more enjoyable and meaningful and well-worth money spending than participating in these kind of ‘retreats’ about holding some tiring, boring and discomfortable positions in closed eyes and observing the breath without moving, talking or interaction for many hours for many days, and have to be listening to some ‘boring’ and ‘ridiculous’ teachings of ‘disciplining/restricting our thinking/actions/speech’, to be quiet, to be still, to be dispassionate and letting go our passionate desires and what we like to enjoy very much.”
It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind.
Relaxation of the body and the mind comes before the attempt of developing the skill, strength and flexibility to perform the yoga exercises or yoga poses.
The physical, mental and emotional tension existing in the body and mind are mainly due to egoism and ungratified desires of coming in contact with the objects of name and form that the mind doesn’t like/doesn’t want and not coming in contact with the objects of name and form that the mind likes/wants, as well as accumulated from an imbalanced lifestyle of overly inactive/sedentary/idle or overly active/busy/restless way of life.
If one doesn’t know how to relax or let go all these accumulated tension while attempting to perform the yoga asana exercises or poses with the intention or expectation to be developing the physical strength and flexibility and the skill to do the poses, it’s not going to work efficiently.
When there are unnecessary tension existing in the body and the mind while doing the yoga asana practice:-
- The entire learning process of the mind and the body as well as the overall effect of the physical and mental practice/training will be less efficient.
- The mind is unable to focus which will be affecting the learning process and inattentiveness/cloudiness will lead to higher risk of accident and injury.
- The muscles/tendons/ligaments/joints/nerves/vital organs that are in a state of tension will be affecting the development of physical health, fitness, strength and flexibility and will lead to higher risk of injury, as well as influencing the mind being unable to be open towards the teachings or philosophy of yoga that might be different from or contradicted to the existing thinking and belief in the mind.
- The tensed body can’t really absorb the effect of the practice/training efficiently/properly/entirely even though the effect of the practice/training is present during and/or after the practice/training.
- Tensed mind and body is deeply related to higher risk of physical and mental illness as well as broken relationships, destructive behavior and social problems, not excluding ‘yoga enthusiast’.
- The tensed mind cannot function/think/act and react properly/healthily and easily gets confused/disturbed/intimidated by all kinds of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses from moment to moment, and eventually losing sanity, or being unable to look after the well-being of oneself, or to live life independently, not excluding ‘yoga practitioner’ and ‘yoga teacher’.
That’s why the initial relaxation of the body and the mind in the beginning of the yoga asana practice, is very important/crucial, even before the warming-up exercises, to allow the body to be able to develop the skill, strength and flexibility efficiently and safely in a relaxed manner, as well as to allow the body to be absorbing the effect of the practice/training to the maximum, but more important, is to allow the mind to be able to be relaxed/open to inquire the truth of the teachings or philosophy of yoga that are not necessarily likable or agreeable to the mind that has been conditioned to think in certain ways and believe in certain beliefs that are different from the teachings or philosophy of yoga.
Relaxation of the body and mind should be the very first practice/learning/training for people who want to learn and practice yoga even before learning to do the basic yoga poses or guided breathing exercises. Such like simple abdominal breathing of slowing down the inhalation and exhalation in a relaxed manner without strain for a few minutes, and then moving the awareness from point to point in the physical body to be aware of any existing tension and let go the tension consciously, and bringing the mind into the present moment to be aware of the reality as it is, without craving or aversion. Without rushing into the yoga asana practice routine, without any expectation, the tension existing in the mind and body will be less intense and eventually dissolved/vanished, naturally.
The yoga asana practice of doing the yoga exercises or yoga poses are supposed to be helping the practitioner to relax the body and mind, or helping the body and mind to let go or release as much as possible all the unnecessary tensions that has been building up in everyday life, provided if the yoga asana practice is being done under a relaxed manner without strain/force with the correct understanding of the core teachings of yoga. It’s not building up more unnecessary tension into the body and mind during the yoga asana practice due to being unable to be relaxed while doing the practice by constantly straining or forcing the body to go beyond its imitation with intention/expectation to make it more strong and flexible in order to do some of the yoga poses that the mind wants to be able to do, due to the lack of correct understanding towards the core teachings of yoga.
The proper way of developing physical strength is not about building up more tightness/tension in the muscles groups of the physical body. Real strength comes from free-flow of sufficient energy supply and efficient/healthy function of the motor neurons and bio mechanism. If one of the nerves that connect the central nervous system to one of the muscles group doesn’t function properly, this part of the muscles group can’t function properly, even though the physical body has gone through intense and prolonged strength training and the muscles group is well-toned. A well-toned or tight/tensed muscles group cannot move or lift something, if there’s no proper sufficient energy supply to that area.
More important, the yoga practice is not about training/making the body more strong and flexible, as peace, compassion and the ability to forgive and let go what the mind perceives/recognizes as ‘negative’, ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, ‘hurtful, ‘sorrowful’ or ‘terrible’, is nothing to do with the physical condition/strength/flexibility. One doesn’t need to be physically ‘strong’ and ‘flexible’ or super healthy, to realize yoga, peace and compassion, or be forgiving and be able to let go.
While applying the teachings or philosophy of yoga practically in everyday life will help the practitioner to stop generating or accumulating as minimum as possible unnecessary physical, mental and emotional tension. It is what yoga practice is about – purification of the mind through the elimination of egoism.
This is similar to the final relaxation in the end of the yoga asana practice. It’s not just about to relax the body and mind after some physical and mental training, but it’s about non-attachment and non-identification towards all our actions/practice and renounce the fruit of action/practice or letting go the expectation towards the result of action/practice. This will bring the body and mind into effective deep relaxation under any condition or situation in life. Relaxation is indeed the elimination of egoism of the practice of non-attachment, non-identification, non-judgment, non-expectation, non-craving, non-aversion, and letting go. The body and mind is unable to be relaxed and constantly being in a state of tension is due to the egoism of attachment, identification, judgment, expectation, craving and aversion, and being unable/reluctant to let go or forgive.
People might confuse ‘the practice of relaxation or the ability to let go/be relaxed/calmed’ with the practice/idea/belief of positive thinking or optimism. Positive thinking or optimism doesn’t necessarily mean that the mind is relaxed/calmed or being free from the desire of craving and aversion, and be undisturbed/undetermined by what the impure mind perceives as ‘negative’, ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, ‘hurtful’, ‘sorrowful’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘terrible’. Positive thinking or optimism doesn’t correlate with the understanding/ability to accept the reality that is not necessarily the way that we like it to be, as it is, but more likely, it’s ignoring or denying the ‘negative’ undesirable reality that the mind doesn’t like and doesn’t want, and desiring/hoping to change the undesirable reality into something else that it is not, and expecting desires/wishes come true by trying to think and feel positively or optimistically. The mind is not free yet.
Yoga practice exists for beings who are in suffering and who wish to transcend suffering…
If somebody who is peaceful, who is free from suffering, then this being doesn’t need to practice yoga… Because this being already knew the Truth about suffering, which is the end of yoga practice…
If our body is sick, then we need to consult a medical doctor and take some medicine to cure whatever sickness that we have and be free from sickness… If our body is not sick, we don’t need to consult any doctor or take any medicine to cure anything…
We are not peaceful and not happy, that’s why we are looking for peace and happiness… If we are already peaceful and happy, we don’t need to look for peace and happiness…
Suffering derives from ignorance…
Ignorance is not knowing the Truth of things…
If we know the Truth of things, there is no ignorance, there is no suffering, there is no need of yoga practice…
If we are free from suffering and are in peace, we don’t need to learn or practice yoga… We are already one with yoga, not separated from yoga…
If we are peaceful and happy, we don’t need to do something or not doing something to have peace or to attain peace…
We will be peaceful and happy no matter what we do or don’t do…
The looking, searching and craving for peace and happiness have come to an end…
Yoga practice is there to help us to remove ignorance, to transcend suffering… Without ignorance, there’s no suffering… Without suffering, peace is there…
If we have been performing a lot of yoga and meditation practice, but as long as we are not completely be free from ignorance, we will still be conditioned by unhappiness and suffering because we have craving, clinging, aversion or attachment, that derive from not knowing the Truth of things – being ignorant of the Truth of things…
And the greatest ignorance is being ignorant of ignorance…
When the mind is full of impurities, and is agitated and not calm, then we need to practice yoga and meditation to help to purify the mind and to render it calm and still… If the mind is free from impurities and is calm and in peace, there is no need of any “actions” or “practice” to make the mind pure and calm… It is pure and calm…
When the body and the mind is full of tensions, we need to perform some “actions” or “practice” or “relaxation” to help to release tensions in the body and the mind… If there is no tensions in the body and the mind, there is no need of relaxation or practice or “actions” to release anything… We need relaxation because we are not relaxed… If we are relaxed, do we still need “relaxation” to be relaxed?
And beyond the impermanent forever changing states of the mind, beyond the conditional momentary peaceful calmness of the mind that derives from performing yoga practice, pranayama practice, concentration and meditation practice, is our true nature – unconditional and unlimited real peace that is always there, unchanging, untouched by all states of the mind… It is neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative, neither happiness nor suffering…
The peaceful calmness feeling that comes from the mind after some yoga, pranayama, concentration and meditation practice is impermanent… It will be disturbed and will disappear…
If we are able to go beyond this peaceful state of mind and not attached or clinging onto it, just be aware of the mind being calm or not calm, we are free from being conditioned by any names and forms that the mind is experiencing from moment to moment through the body and the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think… We are always peaceful… That is our true nature, unconditional peace… This peace doesn’t exist nor stop existing… It is not a quality that arise, change and pass away… It is beyond birth and death, beyond existence and non-existence…
There is no craving for peacefulness or happiness… There is no aversion towards unpeacefulness or unhappiness… It is full, content and whole…
Initial relaxation practice for the body and the mind – non-attachment & letting go
Stay focus and pay attention onto where we are, how we are and what we are doing at the present moment now. Letting go of the past and the future.
The most present thing is our breath. Be aware of the inhalation and the exhalation, without judgment whether the breath is slow or fast. Without comparing each breath. Without expectation towards the result or what benefits are we going to get from observing the breath. Letting go of judgment, comparison and expectation.
This will become a new habit for the mind to be able to let go of the past instantly from moment to moment, in our everyday life, not just during the yoga practice session. This will train the mind to let go of the habits that like to judge, to compare and to expect.
All our actions are intention-less, surrendering the fruit of action. Non-identification as the doer of the action. All actions are nameless and formless.
If the mind wanders to the past or the future, we bring the mind concentrate back onto the present moment on the breath, patiently. Knowing that it is the habit of the mind that it doesn’t like to stay focus at one point for a long time. It is the characteristic of the mind to jump from one thought to another thought unceasingly. Be very patient with the mind. Not judging the mind as something bad or negative. The mind is just being what it is. It is neither good nor bad. It is neither negative nor positive. We don’t have to attach to the mind and just observe the mind as it is.
Be aware of the movement of the abdomen as we inhale and exhale. The abdomen relax during inhalation, and it contracts during exhalation.
If at this present moment now, the mind is agitated, not calm, then we can control the breath to influence the energy or the prana, which will influence the state of the mind. We can slow down the breathing, prolong the exhalation to help to calm down the body, the energy and the mind.
By the chanting of Om will also help to calm down the mind. Beside the powerful sound vibration of Om that will stimulate and purify the energy centres and to chanel the energy for higher spiritual purposes, chanting of Om is also one of the pranayama that is controlling the breath especially during the exhalation, which can give calming effect to the mind. When the mind is calm and relaxed, then allow the breathing to be natural, and continue to observe the breath as it is.
If at this present moment now, the mind is calm and relaxed, then allow the breathing to be natural, just be aware, observe the natural breath as it is without interference, or to control or to change the breathing pattern.
By observing the breath as it is, we are learning to observe the nature as it is, observing the reality or the truth as it is, observing the present moment as it is, observing the world as it is, observing everything as it is, observing everyone as it is, observing the body and the mind as it is, observing ourselves as we are. Being aware that at this present moment now, this is the condition of our body, this is the condition of our mind, this is what our body can do and cannot do, this is where we are and how we are. And most important is, to accept ourselves as we are at this present moment now, without craving or aversion.
Not to take simple or easy movements for granted. Being aware of different sensations that arise in different parts of the body while performing any movements for the yoga practices. It might be some pleasant sensations at certain parts of the body, and some unpleasant sensations at the other parts of the body while performing any yoga practice or asana practice or meditation practice.
Keep the mind stay focus and concentrate on what we are doing. Beside being aware of the sensations that arise throughout the body, at the sametime also being aware of what is going on in the mind.
Maybe the mind is resisting certain positions or movements. Maybe the mind generates craving towards what the mind and the body like about. Maybe the mind is craving to perform certain movements that will make the body and mind feel good. Maybe the mind is having aversion towards certain positions and movements that will cause discomfortable sensations in the body. Maybe the mind disagrees or rejects what the teacher is telling the students to do or what the teacher is explaining about the yoga philosophy. Maybe the mind agrees with and like what the teacher teaches in the class and generates craving towards what the mind likes to hear and like to do.
There is nothing wrong with feeling good and want to feel good. It is our basic craving.
Allow ourselves to feel good and to enjoy all the good feelings but without attachment, clinging and craving. And let it go when these good feelings are gone.
Allow the bad feelings to arise as well. We don’t have to enjoy bad feelings, but we don’t have to generate aversion towards them nor need to push them away. Don’t suppress them nor denying them. We just observe all these bad feelings and let them go. And they will be gone too. Not to judge these unpleasant feelings as something bad and negative.
Just be aware of all these mind activities in the mind but not attach to them, not associate with them and not generate reaction towards them. Allow them to arise in the mind, let them stay and pass away. No craving, no aversion. Not resisting, rejecting nor trying to push them away. All these mind activities are influnced by the elements and energy. It is not in our control that we want the mind to have such activities and not to have certain activities.
If we are able not to attach to the mind, and undisturbed or affected by the mind activities, then we are beyond the mind. We are the one who is in control of ourselves and not the mind controlling us or influencing us. Let the mind be the mind. We don’t need to react to the mind and not generate actions that are influencing by the mind and the ego.
We are just the witness witnessing what is going on in the mind, what the mind likes and dislikes, what the mind wants and doesn’t want, what the mind feels and doesn’t feel.
Observe any thoughts, feelings and sensations that may arise without identification with them, not associate with them, not attach to them, not generate reaction (craving and aversion) towards them.
No craving towards the positive thoughts, good feelings and pleasant sensations. Allow ourselves to enjoy any good feelings and pleasant sensations without generate craving. No attachment, no clinging and let them go when they change and disappear.
No aversion towards the negative thoughts, bad feelings and unpleasant sensations. We don’t have to force ourselves to enjoy any of these unpleasant experiences in our body and mind, but we don’t have to generate aversion towards them either. Just observe all these unpleasant experiences, and allowing them to arise, change and disappear by themselves naturally.
Know that all these positive or negative thoughts, good or bad feelings, pleasant or unpleasant sensations, that they all are very temporary, they will change and they won’t last forever. They don’t belong to us and they are not us. It is not in our control that we only want to have positive thoughts, good feelings and pleasant sensations. It is not in our control that we don’t want to have negative thoughts, bad feelings and unpleasant sensations. All these things come and go as they like. They don’t ask for our permission to come, to stay, to change and to go.
We cannot attach to them. We will be in trouble or make ourselves full of tensions, disappointment, frustration and unhappiness if we attach to either the positive or the negative things. We will be so unhappy if we want to have positive or pleasant experiences but it didn’t happen. We will be unhappy if the positive and pleasant experiences change and disappear. We will be unhappy if the negative or unpleasant experiences appear in our body and mind. We will be unhappy if we try to get rid of these negative and unpleasant experiences but we couldn’t make them disappear from our body and mind.
* * * * * * * *
These are the basic yoga practice from moment to moment.
Practicing non-attachment and letting go.
This will stop more tensions building up in the body and the mind. At the same time it will help us to relieve the existing accumulated tensions in the body and the mind.
When we know how to stop generating tensions into the body and the mind, we don’t even need relaxation because there is no tensions at all.
And before we want to pursue any other yoga practices that will give us good benefits, we need to know how to relax the body and the mind, so that the body and the mind is ready to receive all the goodness that yoga practice is bringing us.
Or else if the body and the mind is full of tensions, how can they absorb the goodness from the yoga practice? It is like wearing a very tight thick jeans, there’s no room or space for the air to come through the jeans to let the skin breath freely.
* * * * * * * *