Self-practice

Developing awareness and correct understanding along with self-discipline and determination, one doesn’t need to continuously attending yoga classes to be following the instructions of a yoga teacher/instructor to be performing the yoga practice, but out of own freewill and intense yearning for liberation, one retreats into seclusion and solitude to perform self-practice. One takes one’s natural pace to perform the practice at ease, without rushing or struggling or straining the body and mind beyond its limitation, and allowing the fruit of the practice to be there as it is.

Many people who attend yoga classes and those who provide yoga classes or other kind of yoga services, will look at or take consideration or give importance onto these factors –
– The qualifications/certifications/experience/background of the yoga teachers
– The professionalism and the ‘yogi’ look/appearance/image of the yoga teachers
– The atmosphere of the yoga practice space, such like the ‘spiritual/zen feel’, the decorations, the colour theme, the furniture, the fittings, the lighting, the plants, the sub-yoga products of ‘yoga attires’, ‘yoga mats’, ‘yoga accessories’ or ‘yoga health supplements’, the convenient facilities and other supplementary services, and/or other yoga family members of animals and pets.
– The surrounding environment of the yoga school or yoga studio, such like the scenery and the ‘quality’ of the neighbourhood.
– The degree of pleasantness of the enjoyment of the senses of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and imagination/visualization/stimulation, and so on.
– The money-worth element of the fees in comparison with the services or enjoyments provided, and the rewards/benefits/effectiveness/recognition/qualification that one would be getting from attending the yoga classes or performing the yoga practice.

Meanwhile, yoga and the yoga practice has nothing to do with all these names and forms. If the yoga teachers or the yoga classes providers don’t get this or don’t understand this, then they don’t know what yoga is. In the process of yoga practice of silencing the mind or meditation, the eyes are either closed or the mind is focusing/restraining within, and all the other senses are restrained/withdraw from the objects of the senses. What kind of scenery or environment or atmosphere is irrelevant to one’s practice. So as all the other factors.

Yoga is in the moment regardless of the mind perception of different qualities of names and forms, environment, experience, time and space. It is not confined in a particular quality of name and form, environment, experience, time and space. If one can only find oneself or peace or the truth in a particular yoga practice environment, experience, time and space, such like being in the nature of forest or mountain or seaside, and doing a particular yoga asana practice or nature activity, then one doesn’t know what yoga is even though one might feel good and peaceful and meaningful being in that particular environment, experience, time and space, and doing that particular yoga asana practice or activity. The truth/yoga is always there as it is, regardless one is doing a particular kind of yoga asana practice or physical/mental activity, or not, and being in what kind of environment, experience, time and space. Peace, compassion and the ability to forgive and let go what that the mind perceives as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, ‘hurtful’, ‘painful’, or ‘sorrowful’, is nothing to do with the mind perception of different qualities of names and forms.

There’s nothing wrong and it’s very common that most people who attend yoga classes will expect the yoga teacher/instructor to be looking at them and their practice, to tell them to do this and don’t do that, to correct their postures, to help them to push/challenge themselves beyond the limitation of their body and mind to make the body become more fit/strong/flexible and be able to do more ‘challenging’ yoga asana poses, to give positive feedback about their practice, to give encouragements of praise and compliments to motivate them to be continuing their practice, to be interacting in some kind of social conversation, to be involving in some form of social community activities together. Just that they haven’t learn/realize what yoga really is about, even after many years of attending many hours of yoga classes regularly, and performing the yoga asana practice in perfect alignment and attaining better health condition, developing fitter, stronger and more flexible physical body, being able to perform many complicated yoga asana poses, and generating momentary good, positive and meaningful feelings in their minds due to the effect of the yoga practice.

All these names and forms are nothing but the modifications of the conditional thinking and belief and behavior of the worldly egoistic impure minds. Yoga practice is mainly to free the mind from all these conditional thinking, belief and behavior of the worldly egoistic impure mind modifications.

One only needs a simple clean space free from dust or insects/animals to be practicing external yoga practice of yoga asana and pranayama practice. If there’s no clean space available to be practicing yoga asana and pranayama practice, or if the weather doesn’t permit such practice (extreme weather condition), or the environment is not suitable for such external practice (causing inconvenience to other beings), then one doesn’t have to be practicing external yoga practice of yoga asana or pranayama practice, but it doesn’t stop one from the unconditional unlimited internal practice of maintaining a calm and quiet mind, allowing the perceived reality/experience/qualities of names and forms that is not necessarily the way that the mind likes it to be, as it is, and be able to forgive and let go something that the mind perceives as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, ‘hurtful’, ‘painful’ or ‘sorrowful’, without craving or clinging towards ‘good’ condition or pleasantness, without aversion towards ‘bad’ condition or unpleasantness.

Contemplate on this and be free.

Advertisements

Expectation from the yoga students towards the yoga teachers

“How come the teacher didn’t say anything about whether my execution is good or not, or whether I’m doing the postures and movements right, or not?”

In most of the “yoga classes” (yoga asana exercise classes), the teacher or the instructor will go around and adjusting the body of the students, correcting their poses and movements, and telling them whether they are good and whether they are doing it right, and constantly give encouragement to them to try harder, to do something that they don’t want to do, or are not comfortable doing, or what they think they can’t do. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.

In the yoga class of learning and practicing yoga to eliminate ignorance and egoism to free the mind from suffering, the teacher seldom or does not go around adjusting or correcting their physical positions or movements, or give them appraisement whether they are good, or not, whether they are doing it right, or not. Because how they look in the positions or how well they execute the movements are irrelevant towards the elimination of ignorance and egoism to free the mind from suffering.

Wisdom and compassion and the ability to let go and forgive, is nothing to do with making the body more strong and flexible to be able to perform many yoga asana poses beautifully or to mastering the skill to perform the yoga poses. It’s about putting the body in certain positions within the ability and comfort of the physical body and holding the positions comfortably as long as the body can stay in those positions comfortably without struggling, in order to bring the mind to be in the present to calm down and quieting the restless mind, to prepare the mind for meditation. And this is nothing to do with whether the yoga practitioner is performing the yoga poses in perfect alignment or not in the yoga asana practice.

Even when a person can perform all the yoga poses nicely in perfect alignment and executing all the movements correctly and gracefully also doesn’t guarantee that this person is or will be free from ignorance and egoism and impurities of anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, arrogance, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, agitation, depression, hurts, regret, guilt, craving, aversion, ill-will, ill-thinking, fear and worry, and so on, if this person doesn’t work on eliminating the egoism that feeds ignorance that gives rise to suffering and all sorts of disturbs and unhappiness.

The teacher who teaches yoga delivers the teachings and the guidelines for the practice to the students to perform their practice, and the teacher might or might not be observing their practice from time to time, but at the same time, without interference, judgement or expectation, allowing the students to experience the teachings while practice what they learn from the teacher about the teachings and the practice, disregards whether their understanding towards the teachings and the practice is perfect or imperfect, and whether they are following the guidelines accordingly, or not, but to inquire the truth of the teachings and the practice through their own direct experience, to develop understanding and awareness towards their own body and mind, to become the observer or the teacher towards their own mind, without attachment, identification, judgement, comparison and expectation.

The students learn to develop self-independence and self-discipline. They don’t need to depend on a ‘teacher’ to tell them whether they are doing their practice correctly, or not, as they should be able to have the basic awareness of whether they are practicing correctly, or not, by being aware of the consequences of the action of doing the poses and movements. For example, the teacher teaches the students who have never seen fire, “Fire can burn your skin and flesh and it might cause painful sensation and damages. And hence do not touch the fire.” and if the students still want to touch the fire, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and got burnt by the fire, that is not the teacher’s responsibility. The teacher cannot be there every seconds watching the students to make sure they don’t touch the fire so that they won’t hurt themselves. The students will have to learn from their own direct experience and be responsible for looking after their own well-being. Just like parents can give advice as much as they can to their children, but they cannot be there all the time to control their children how they should act or react or behave, making sure that they only do good and the right thing, and don’t do bad or the wrong thing.

Only the students themselves will know whether they are practicing yoga, or not. People can be doing yoga poses everyday for years, but they might not be practicing yoga at all, including yoga teachers. It’s not about looking at the teacher and trying to imitate the teacher or other people. The yoga practitioners learn how to perform all their actions, practice, duties, and responsibilities out of compassion, without egoism, being free from attachment, identification, judgement, comparison and expectation towards the actions, the practice, the duties and responsibilities, as well as the result or fruit of the actions, the practice, the duties and responsibilities.

If the students don’t feel comfortable while putting their body in a particular position or executing particular movements, they shouldn’t proceed further or force their body to continue to perform the position or movements that the body feels discomfortable or painful, whether it’s due the limitation of their body, or there’s mind blockage of fear and worry, or it’s due to incorrect understanding towards the practice. If it’s due to their incorrect understanding towards the practice, the teacher will redeliver the guidelines of the practice to them, without expecting them to be fully understanding the practice right away.

The students learn to be aware that all their experiences, whether it’s okay or not okay, are all impermanent. Through their own awareness and understanding, they learn how to make appropriate adjustment to put their body into the positions comfortably, or execute the movements in the way that suits their body most, without expecting a teacher constantly be there to make adjustments for them. Everyone has a different body with different condition and limitation. What is comfortable for some people might be very painful for other people. There’s no best way to execute the movements or the best perfect look of the positions or poses, it’s just what the body can do comfortably, in this present moment. And no body is aware of what is going on in one’s body and mind but oneself, not even the yoga teacher.

For those who have been doing yoga poses for many years, how they look and how they feel in the poses or movements could be different in every practice. It is the truth of impermanence and selflessness. One can’t even look and feel the same in one’s different sessions of practice, then why should one look and feel the same as any others or the teacher in particular in their respective practice?

So what if some people’s body are really inflexible and weak, and they don’t look like everyone else while performing the yoga poses or while executing certain movements? It doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to realize unconditional peace and love or to let go and forgive something that is hurtful. It’s really unimportant and irrelevant about the physical ability and limitation in the realization of selflessness, unconditional peace and love, and the ability to let go and forgive something that the mind perceives as bad, wrong, undeserving, hurtful, painful or disturbing.

A yoga teacher allows the yoga students to take their time to find their own way of putting their body comfortably in the poses without pushing or forcing their body beyond its limitation or disability in the present moment, or adjusting their body and mind by themselves to adapt and accommodate the practice, the poses or the movements with care and responsibility from themselves towards themselves.

What the students can do or cannot do, what the students want or don’t want to do, and how the students interpret and execute the teachings and practice or how they look in the positions or movements are the students’ freedom and responsibility. The yoga teacher is not here to control and judge every action of the yoga students. After learning the teachings and practice by coming in contact with the teachings from a teacher, it’s up to the yoga students to interpret and perform the teachings and practice in their own pace, in their own way, by experiencing and inquiring the truth of these teachings and practice.

The students should be learning how to be aware of their practice and understand the practice via direct experience, without attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgement, comparison and expectation, and don’t depend on the teacher to look at their practice and constantly telling them about how good or bad is their practice. It’s not about how perfect do they look in the positions and how good they execute the movements, but it’s about via the positions and movements, they learn about what is going on in their minds, about the ignorance and egoism and the consequences of ignorance and egoism, about the suffering and the cause of suffering, about the impermanence and selflessness of the physical body and the activities of the mind of all the ceaseless thoughts, feelings, emotions, actions, reactions and impurities.

In order to perform the exercise safely so that the yoga practitioners won’t generate stress or injury onto the physical body has nothing to do with executing the yoga poses or movements in perfect alignment. It’s by understanding and listening to their own body, just do what their body can do comfortably in this present moment, in a relaxed manner, without forcing or pushing their body beyond its limitation, without trying to follow the standard of the perfect alignment, there’s no stress or risk of injury. In contrast, while trying to perform the positions or movements according to the perfect alignment that is beyond their physical limitation, to look exactly like other people or the teacher, building up tension from attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgement, comparison and expectation, could generate unnecessary stress and injury to the body and mind while trying to perform the yoga poses perfectly according to the standard of perfect alignment. Putting the body in the perfect alignment also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is or will be free from ignorance, egoism and suffering. People who are physically fit, strong and flexible, and can perform many yoga poses skillfully in perfect alignment, are not necessarily be free from ignorance, egoism and suffering.

Be free.

It’s really irrelevant and unimportant about how long one has been doing/practicing/teaching yoga

It’s really irrelevant and unimportant about how long one has been doing/practicing/teaching yoga, as to whether one’s mind is free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, disturbs, unhappiness and suffering, or not.

When attending a yoga class or a yoga retreat, most people would like to address about how long they have been doing/practicing yoga, and they want to know how long the yoga teachers have been doing/practicing/teaching yoga. And some people would feel strange and even offended when the yoga teachers who know what is the teachings and practice of yoga don’t bring up the question about how long the students have been doing/practicing yoga.

People who have not been doing/practicing yoga, don’t necessarily means that they are not free from ignorance and egoism, or are not peaceful, wise and compassionate. While those who have been doing/practicing yoga for some time or a long time, don’t necessarily means that they are free from ignorance and egoism, and are peaceful, wise and compassionate.

Those who are free, peaceful, wise and compassionate, then it doesn’t matter how long they have been doing/practicing yoga and they don’t mind about what the teacher teaches in the class, and it doesn’t matter whether their body is strong and flexible enough to do all the yoga poses, or not, as well as how long the teacher has been doing/practicing/teaching yoga.

Those who are not free, they will learn and practice yoga under the guidance of a teacher disregard how long they have been doing/practicing yoga. Yoga practice is in the present moment, doing one’s best to take care of the well-being of the body and mind, without straining the body and mind, being compassionate towards this mind perception of life existence and accepting the body and mind and all kinds of life experience as they are, from moment to moment. It’s nothing to do with how long one has been doing/practicing yoga. If one is already free, one doesn’t even need to do/practice yoga. If one is not free, then keep practicing without judgment or expectation. It’s okay if the mind is not free in the present moment, and this is impermanent.

It’s the same as how long the yoga teachers have been doing/practicing/teaching yoga is also irrelevant and unimportant as to whether the yoga teachers are free, peaceful, wise and compassionate, or not, and whether the yoga teachers are teaching yoga and guiding the yoga students towards liberation from ignorance and egoism, to realize unconditional peace, wisdom and compassion, or not.

If people couldn’t figure this out, or couldn’t understand about this, then even though they think they have been doing/practicing yoga for a long time, and they have been reading and hearing about the teachings/philosophy of yoga, but they are not free. And it’s okay if the mind is not free yet after one has been doing/practicing yoga for a long time, and one has been reading and hearing about the teachings/philosophy of yoga. Just keep practicing, without judgment, comparison or expectation.

People’s power?

People’s power is no doubt very powerful, of course. There’s no doubt that other than the greatest power of nature, it’s the people’s power that is so powerful and influential that it influences the condition or situation of the world, in a country, in a community, in a company, or in a family, through their thinking and behavior, making the world a better or worse place to be in. But what is influencing the people’s thinking and behavior is more powerful. And so, what happen if ignorance, egoism and impurities is the power that influencing many people in the world to think, behave, act and react?

Even those who think they are good people who want to be good, who do good actions and don’t do bad actions are not necessarily be free from the influence of ignorance and egoism and impurities. If the mind thinks and feels, “I am disturbed, disappointed, frustrated, threatened, depressed, angered or hurt by something that I think is bad, negative and wrong”, know that this is ignorance, though there’s nothing wrong with this reaction of thinking and feeling in such way reacting towards certain perceptions of names and forms that the mind believes as bad, negative and wrong. The power of ignorance is so great that the mind doesn’t even know it is under the influence of ignorance, thinking that it is wise or smart enough, or it is wiser or smarter than others. And the ego doesn’t like to hear or be pointed out that it is the product of ignorance, and would feel offended or humiliated or intimidated.

The wise won’t be disturbed nor determined by the ignorance of others of all sorts of ignorant thinking and behavior, or what the mind thinks and believes as bad, negative or wrong. If one will be disturbed and determined by the ignorance of others of their ignorant thinking and behavior, or what the mind thinks and believes as bad, negative and wrong, or be disturbed by the condition and situation of the world that is not how one would like it to be, then this mind is under the influence of ignorance.

One can choose not to be disturbed or determined by the ignorance of others of all sorts of ignorant thinking and behavior, or not.

The wise don’t have any intention to change the world. They allow everyone to be free from ignorance, or not, through everyone’s own interest and effort. If people are not interested in freeing their mind from ignorance, that’s their freedom.

Even the enlightened liberated beings can’t change the world or take away the ignorance in others or remove ignorance from the world. If not, the world is already be free from ignorant beings/thinking/behavior. One can only free one’s mind from ignorance through self-initiative, self-effort, self-discipline, self-inquiry and self-realization.

If there are people have the great ambition to be ‘superhero’ to change and save the world, that’s their freedom.

The YTTC or Yoga Teachers Training Courses is about being a platform for truth seekers who are interested in attaining liberation from ignorance and suffering to learn and practice yoga to become their own teacher to perform self-practice/Yoga Sadhana, to attain self-realization and independence, and when one is free from ignorance and suffering, the world will have less a being under the influence of ignorance. And one can share one’s self-realized knowledge of yoga with others, where yoga asana practice is one of the many practices to purify and quiet the mind to prepare the mind for meditation. But nowadays, many YTTC are not about developing serious self-practice or Yoga Sadhana to free oneself from ignorance and egoism, but, it’s mainly about to be equipped with some ‘teaching technical information’ for ‘teaching yoga (asana exercise) classes’ to most people who are not really interested in the elimination of egoism through the practice of silence, desireless, dispassion, self-discipline, self-inquiry and self-realization, but more interested in empowering egoism and gratifying their worldly passionate desires of craving and aversion especially towards enhancing physical health and fitness level, physical appearance and ability through performing the yoga asana exercises, while some others are interested towards developing mental psychic power for different reasons or intentions.

“I have been doing some yoga regularly for some time. Now, I want to learn and do more yoga. Can you teach me?”
“Really?”
“Yes! I am really interested to learn to do all the yoga poses that I am still not able to do. I also want to know what are the different muscles groups that we use in the different yoga poses and their specific benefits related to health and fitness. I hope to become a yoga teacher to teach yoga classes someday. I need to make my body healthier, fitter, stronger and more flexible so that I can do lots of the yoga poses to be qualified to join the yoga teacher training course. I also want to feel better about myself, because right now, I am not very happy with myself, my yoga practice, my physical appearance, my health and fitness level, my job, my life and my relationship. Many yoga teachers say yoga can gives us lots of benefits to improve health and fitness, and make us look good and feel good about ourselves, and become superhuman with superpower to do anything that we want to do with our body and mind. They say yoga can make our body stay young and strong, that we won’t get sick and we can defy aging. They say by doing yoga we can defy gravity and we can fly. And they say practice yoga can also have all our desires come true. I want a better life, a better body, a better relationship and a better job. I really want to learn and do yoga!”
“I can teach you yoga. But first, you will need to let go all these desires of what you want and don’t want.”
“This is not the yoga that I want to learn and do.”
“Be happy then.”

Body image issue, where it shouldn’t exist in the first place

In the areas where people are struggling everyday to attain the basic food and water resources to survive, to have a place to rest and be sheltered from harsh weather, to be free from hunger, thirst, exhaustion, discrimination, hatred, war and violence, there won’t be such body image issue existing.

Meanwhile, in the modern commercialized society with higher technology and comfortable or fancy lifestyle, where economy and spending power is stable and strong, where basic and higher education came with various subjects and interests is accessible for everyone, where people have the luxury to indulge in physical and mental enjoyments of the senses of sights/visuals, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts/ideas/creativity/imaginations, where food is easily and excessively available in various forms and tastes, where food has gone beyond being a basic necessity of life but becoming an enjoyment of taste, where water and electricity supply and various modern facilities are available easily, where clothing is no longer a basic material to keep warm and be protected from insects and cuts but plays as an important role for self-image and self-esteem, where people are being presented with different choices of lifestyle and leisure activities, where people are interested in promoting health, beauty and fitness, and put importance into personal and general hygiene, where people can travel easily from one place to another, where people can have dreams and ambitions to be fulfilled, where countless opportunities are available for everyone, but then ridiculously, many people are being troubled by body image issue, which is truly unnecessary.

It doesn’t matter people are being knowledgeable, or intelligent, or talented and skillful in certain subjects, or highly educated, or having a successful career, or having a high profile in the community or society, or having a generous income and an easy comfortable high technology living standard, many people are being troubled very much by body image issue, unwittingly.

People’s state of mind, the sense of meaningfulness, confidence, self-esteem, happiness and sense of self-worth and well-being are very much determined by the body image consists of facial features, skin condition, hair condition, physical appearance, body shape, body composition, physical condition, physical ability and achievement, that they like or dislike, satisfied or dissatisfied with, based on a particular standard that they set for themselves to comply to.

People get depressed when they think they have a body image issue, that they are dissatisfied with and dislike their facial features, skin condition, body hair, hair condition and style, physical appearance, body shape, physical condition and ability as it is, that they prefer or desire their body to be something different from what it is now, according to what they think is better, nicer, healthier, fitter, stronger, younger, prettier, or more attractive.

To counter this body image issue, most people will try to achieve the body image that they would like to have, that they think is the best body image, that would give them the sense of satisfaction and good feelings about their bodies and themselves.

Even many of the yoga classes in the world are emphasizing on promoting improvement in physical appearance, physical condition and ability, to boost people’s self-esteem, confidence, sense of self-worth and well-being. And the yoga teachers/instructors aspire to portray a body image of ‘good’ or ‘fit’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘attractive’ or ‘high performance’ kind of physical appearance, condition and ability to inspire or motivate the yoga students to also achieve the similar form of body image (enhanced physical appearance, condition, ability and performance.) – “I can achieve this, so can you!” or “Yoga makes you look better and feel better!” But this is not the teaching and practice of yoga. This is empowering ignorance and egoism. It might give them momentary good feelings and confidence about their body and themselves (the ego) by achieving the kind of body image that they prefer, but it doesn’t help people to be free from the suffering of low self-esteem and depression derived from attachment and identification with the impermanent physical appearance, condition and ability to be who they are. Once the quality of the body image that they like, that they attached onto and identified with, that makes them feel good and confident about themselves starts to change into something else or is no longer available due to impermanence, they will suffer from disappointment, dissatisfaction, self-hate, self-criticism, low self-esteem, depression, self-harm, and so on.

When people think they are disturbed by body image issue, that is mainly due to ignorance and egoism. There is great identification and attachment towards the physical body and all that is related to the physical body, to be ‘I’, or what they think is who they are.

Realize yoga or selflessness, be free from identification and attachment towards the physical body, and body image issues won’t be existing at all. One will take good care of the well-being of the physical body, out of compassion, without attachment towards the impermanent physical appearance, condition and ability, without identification with the physical body as ‘I’, or ‘Who I am’. Be kind to the body, live a healthy lifestyle to benefit the physical body, and allowing the physical body to improve and change to be what it is, as it is, without any egoistic desire or intention or expectation to make or transform or change the physical body to be the way that ‘I’ would like it to be, so that ‘I’ will feel good, happy, satisfied and confident about ‘my’ body and ‘I’. This truly is loving our body, accepting the body as it is, while allowing all the changes to be there as they are, to be what they are.

Expecting the body to be the way that we like it to be, and constantly straining and forcing the physical body with intense physical training so that it will be able to do what we want it to do, and to look the way that we want it to look, to achieve the body image that we prefer/desire, is not loving our body, but it’s the ego loving what it likes and wants. “I want my body to be like this or to be able to do that.” Again, it’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their body, and how they want to treat their body.

Be free.