Samkhya - Integrative Yoga Therapy

The History of Yoga – part II

Continued on the History of Yoga. Follow below.

  • Samkhya – A philosophy originating approximately 3,000 years ago that influenced all other Yoga traditions that came after. Jnana Yoga.

Spiritual path as a science of describing the nature of the universe and mind

  • This philosophy sees itself as the mother of science;
  • The concepts of avidya, hope and suffering and kaivalya, enlightenment as salvation appear for the first time;
    The aim was to describe all components of the Universe with spirit as the most fundamental;
  • The original Samkhya makes no reference to God because the aim is scientific and not religious investigation;
  • Samkhya declares that the Universe is a school where we can discover our true nature with spirit;
  • Pure spirit, purusha, is seen as distinct from matter, prakriti;
  • Every Yoga that came after is based on this philosophy in one way or another;
  • The methodology of Samkhya is contemplation on the spirit and discernment between matter and spirit.

What keeps a person attached to matter is the activity of the three gunas – rajas, tamas and sattva.

Recognition of the real Being as the purpose of life / The personality as a matrix of conditioning that produces suffering / reincarnation as the destiny of those who do not recognize the real being

  • Within samkhya philosophy, the world exists as a school for recognizing the Real Self;
  • Personality, and all the likes and dislikes associated with it, are considered conditionings that do not reflect the real Self;
  • Suffering serves to warn us that we are moving away from our true nature;
  • Experiences, peace and harmony that bloom from the inside out, indicate to us that we are approaching the real Being;
  • As long as the purusha is not recognized, we continue in a cycle of endless births.

 

The Nature of the world under the influence of the gunas

  • Because of the polarity of the gunas, the material world by itself does not offer happiness, but creates suffering and limitation.
  • Rajas is an energy of desire and expansion related to the search for happiness and satisfaction in the present and future;
  • Rajas have value when channeled to the spiritual path;
  • Tamas is an energy of inertia, conservatism and stagnation that tends to focus on the past;
  • Tamas energy is needed to create ground for the spiritual journey;
  • Sattva is an energy of balance that focuses on the present moment. Associated with positive emotions such as love and compassion, lightness and openness of heart, Sattva is a gateway to the experience of enlightenment;
  • Because it’s a rollercoaster of ups and downs, the only way to avoid getting sick is to get out of the game of trying to find happiness in matter and find it within yourself.

The Art and Science of Yoga Therapy and the Five Koshas

On February 26th, Joseph Le Page will be presenting the twelve-week course, the Art and Science of Yoga Therapy, for Inner Peace Yoga Therapy.

“Within this course, we use the model of the Five Koshas, the five dimensions of our being as a framework for the theory and practice of Yoga Therapy. The objective of the model of the Five Koshas is essentially spiritual; to provide a clear path to union with our true Being.

Along this journey however, as we traverse each of the koshas, we gain an in-depth awareness of each of the dimensions of our being, allowing us to cultivate integration and harmony which supports our overall health and the process of healing. Along this journey of awareness, we also cultivate health and healing which both support our journey and reflect our growing approximation to the source and essence of health.

Through an in depth understanding of the model of the Five Koshas, we create a foundation for the Art and Science of Yoga Therapy, serving three main functions:

  • The Koshas form a framework for healing at each level of our being; each facet of our lives requires consciousness, care, and evolution cultivated through Yoga practices specifically designed for each person’s individual needs.
  • Secondly, the koshas function as a framework for developing competencies at each level of being, allowing the Yoga Therapist to master an understanding of health at physical, energetic, psycho-emotional, intuitive, and spiritual levels.
  • The third function of the koshas is to remind that that the purpose of all of Yoga, including Yoga Therapy is the recognition of our true Being, whose very nature is wholeness and peace, and that health and healing are ultimately reflections of our union with the one source energy.

On the video, we review each of the koshas briefly and meditate on them!

Get to know more about the Art and Science of Yogatherapy!

 

A Yoga New Year’s Resolution

Patanjali Yoga Sutras 1.1 is “atha yoga anuśāsanam”

Therefore, (when the student is prepared), instruction in Yoga (begins).

The decision to begin the Yoga journey is a crossroads where we choose consciously between ways of doing and being that cause limitation and suffering and the journey of Yoga that leads to greater joy, equanimity and clarity.

Along this journey, we also open to receive enhanced levels of health and vitality that are an essential support for our journey.

This crossroads is even more important as we enter the New Year which is traditionally a time for affirmations, resolutions and new beginnings.

In order to create positive affirmations for the new year, you will explore four different facets of daily living.

Within each one, you will reflect on your attitudes and tendencies before you begin practicing Yoga, and how they have evolved since Yoga practice began.

With this clarity, you will then create an intention for further growth and transformation in the new year.

Watch the video and let’s meditate together! 

Happy 2023!

Joseph Le Page and Integrative Yoga Therapy Team

Let’s Meditate!

 

Buddha Park

History of Yoga – Part I

Follow below, the chronology of the History of Yoga:

 

1. Vedic Epoch: five thousand years ago. Mantra yoga

2. Samkhya:  a philosophy that originated approximately three thousand years ago and still influences other yoga traditions that came later. The Origin of Jnana Yoga

3. Epoch of Vedanta: Three thousand years ago. Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.

Main texts: The Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita

4. Time of Buddha: Two and a half thousand years ago. Roots of Raja Yoga.

It marks the beginning of yoga traditions that did not accept the authority of the Vedas and which are essentially psychologies and not religions.

5. Codification of Yoga until then by Patanjali: two thousand years ago. Raja Yoga

Development of Meditation as a science.

Importance of spiritual powers in the practice of Yoga.

Embryonic origin of the Chakras and Tantra Yoga.

6. Epoch of Tantra: Fifteen hundred years ago. Chakra Yoga.

The body as a vehicle replaced an obstacle to spirituality.

The use of the senses, color, shape, sound, as paths for the spirit.

7. Epoch of Hatha Yoga: A thousand years ago.

Strong influences from Patanjali and Tantra.

Focus on the health and integration of body and mind and the integration of polarities as vehicles for reaching the spirit.

8. Age of Modern Yoga: From a hundred years to today.

Revival of India’s traditional culture through a disillusionment with colonialism and modernism. The influence of Yoga in the West and the reinvention of Yoga as a psychophysical discipline. The Yoga teacher as an agent of transformation of society in terms of physical health, psycho-emotional integration and recognition of spiritual growth as the purpose of life.

The Yoga Paths in the Context of the Eras of Yoga History

1. Vedic Epoch: 3 to 5 thousand years ago – Yoga path associated with this era: Mantra Yoga.

The use of sound to unite with the sacred

Ancient India represents a mixture of indigenous and Central Asian influences;
The Sanskrit language originates in Central Asia and forms the basis of Greek, Latin, English and other European languages;
The Sanskrit language is much more than a form of communication. He is the source of the creation of the universe and the divine in manifestation, but at this time only through the priests;
The sound of OM and the use of sacred mantras is the legacy of this tradition;
The word mantra means: “One who carries the mind”. It fills the mind with positive intentions that replace patterns of negativity;

Control of attention and breathing

The religion of this civilization is encoded in the Vedas which are collections of prayers dedicated to over one hundred deities. Veda means knowledge;
The most important of all the Vedas is called Rig Veda, and is composed of more than one hundred and ten thousand mantras in honor of more than one hundred deities. The most famous mantra in the Rig Veda is the Gayatri Mantra;
This civilization was organized into castes: 1st the brahmins – priests; 2nd the kshatrias – politicians and warriors; 3rd the vaishyas – merchants; 4th the shudras – workers;
Represents a segment of society specializing in spiritual practices;
The Brahmans were a very powerful group, because communication with the deities and obtaining the favors and blessings of these deities was acquired only through them;
Memorizing the vedas and chanting them required attention and breath control which is a foundation of Yoga.

Deities as embodiments of positive qualities – reflections of the positive nature of the universe

Initially, the practice of Mantras was used as a vehicle for supplicating goods and blessings to the deities.
These deities are archetypes of universal qualities that exist in the cosmos and in our own consciousness. Ex: Ganesha = protection; Saraswati = Creativity; Lakshmi = material and subtle wealth: Shiva = purification, Savitri = sun as a symbol of spiritual enlightenment.
Mantra serves to purify the mind because it offers a fixed, positive, repetitive point of concentration.

 

By Joseph Le Page

5 Elements Meditation

Within the Yoga philosophy, all creation is composed of the FIVE elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.

Our bodies and minds are also composed of these FIVE elements.

Each element is located in a specific area of the body and is also related to one or more body systems.

Each element has a symbol, a mantra or sacred sound, and is also related to a facet of the natural world.

Through meditation on the 5 elements and their various attributes, we cultivate perfect balance of our bodies and minds as doorway to absolute health in the form of recognition of our spiritual being.

Let’s meditate in the 5 elements with the professor Joseph LePage!

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as a Journey of Healing

Understanding the Spiritual Essence of Yoga Therapy with Joseph LePage

Meets live virtually weekly on Fridays from 8:30-11:30 AM Mountain Time

September 23 – December 9, 2022 (12 week, 36-hour course)

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a key text of Yoga tradition. In 196 short aphorisms, we find a compilation of the essential philosophy, methodology and techniques of the Yoga. This text also forms a foundation for the study and practice of Yoga Therapy. In this 36-hour course, we will explore the Yoga Sutras in detail with a special focus on their vision of health and healing at all levels of being. This course is based in Joseph Le Page’s upcoming book, The Yoga Sutras in Practice to be released in 2023.

Areas of Study:

  • Patanjali’s vision of health and healing at all levels of being
  • The nature of the mind in relation to health and healing.
  • The role of surrender and divine grace in healing.
  • The sound and symbol of OM as a vehicle for healing.
  • The impediments to healing and their symptoms, including depression and anxiety.
  • A road map for the treatment of depression and anxiety in Yoga Therapy.
  • The means to promote healing including one-pointed concentration and breath awareness.
  • The cultivation of positive qualities that support healing including loving kindness, compassion, inner joy, and the ability to not take things personally.
  • The five kleshas as the root cause of dis-ease.
  • Kriya Yoga, the Yoga of inner transformation, as a road map for the journey to healing.
  • The relationship between karma and dis-ease.
  • The three gunas and their relationship to stress and dis-ease
  • The limbs of Yoga as the foundation practices along the journey of healing.
  • The inner and outer limbs, relative and absolute Yoga Therapy.
  • The practice of samadhi as a path of healing.
  • Mastery of the five elements as a path of healing.
  • Harnessing the power of the mind and positive qualities in healing.
  • The role of the prana vayus in balancing the physical systems of the body.
  • The chakras as a map for health at all dimensions of being.
  • The role of the senses in the healing process and healing of the senses themselves.
  • The role of the mind in the perfection of the body.
  • Enlightenment, kaivalya, as absolute healing.

Learn more

Each week will include a balance of theory and experience including guided exercises, meditation, and sharing within the group.

Participants will receive weekly material from Joseph Le Page’s upcoming book, The Yoga Sutras in Practice. Participants will also receive weekly study materials and meditation scripts.

Fees, Eligibility and Continuing Education:

  • This course is open to all Inner Peace Yoga Therapy students as well as yoga teachers/yoga therapists from other schools
  • This course is an Elective for all Inner Peace Yoga Therapy students pursuing their 800-hour certification
  • For those already certified as Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT), this course offers 36 hours of continuing education via Approved Professional Development
  • Tuition fee $500 payable below.

This 36-hour course will meet virtually each Friday from September 23 – December 9, 2022. Class time is 8:30—11:30am MT each week.

Students are expected to attend sessions live, but each session will be recorded and placed on our learning platform. Students are expected to listen to the recordings from any missed session before the next week’s session takes place.

About Joseph

Joseph’s innate desire for wholeness led him to his first Yoga class in 1973, and his first meditation retreat at the Tibetan Buddhist Samye Ling Tibetan Center in Scotland, with his first trip to India in 1975. He made six subsequent journeys to India for study in Yoga, Yoga Therapy, and Ayurveda. He is a graduate of Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training. His master’s degree in teaching has supported his development of experiential education methodologies.

He founded Integrative Yoga and Integrative Yoga Therapy in 1993, and is a pioneer in the field of Yoga therapy training programs. He began teaching yoga therapy in hospital settings in 1995 and continues up to the present as Director of The Healthy Heart Program, which conducts Yoga Therapy group programs in public health settings throughout Brazil.

Joseph has been a speaker at major conferences including Yoga Journal, the International Association of Yoga Therapists, the Kripalu Yoga Teacher’s Association, the International Association of Yoga and Ayurveda, and others. He is co-founder and director of the Enchanted Mountain Yoga Center in Garopaba, Brazil, one of the largest Yoga retreat centers in South America.

He is the co-author of the book Yoga Toolbox for Teacher and Students, one of the most widely used materials in teacher training programs in the US and in Brazil, published by Integrative Yoga. He is also co-author of the book Mudras for Healing and Transformation, also published by Integrative Yoga.

Subscribe here!

The Sixteen Qualities of Authentic Being

Our true Being, purusha, is ultimately beyond all description because it is beyond the mind and the realm of prakriti. We can, however, gain a sense of our inner Being by recognizing and cultivating its essential qualities. These qualities are said to be sixteen which represents the number of petals of the throat chakra. 16 is described as a perfect number because it represents the perfect harmony between the moon’s waxing and waning. All the numbers of the petals of the chakras culminate in 16:

First chakra = 4 petals; Second chakra, 4+2=6 petals; Third chakra, 6+4=10 petals, Fourth chakra, 10+2=12 petals, Fifth Chakra, 12=4=16 petals, Sixth chakra = 2 petals remaining. It is the throat chakra where the sixteen limiting tendencies related to the conditioned personality are seen, questioned, and released and also where the sixteen qualities of authentic Being are integrated, allowing us to speak our truth from our inner Being rather than the conditioned personality.

  1. Changelessness – avyakta

Within the realm of prakriti, everything is in a process of constant change, but the observer, our inner being, which has always been and always will be, is primordial and unchanging, avyakta.  To experience this quality, place your hands in Adhi mudra and take six breaths, allowing this quality to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant,

Om Avyakta Devaya Namaha.

       

2. Wholeness – purnatvam

Within the realm of prakriti, the results of our activities and our perception of our own being are seldom whole or complete and are often subject to feelings of inadequcy, fefectiveness or failure. In our interactions in our surroundings, it seems there is always something that we want to have, do or change within ourselves or in our surroundings, or both in order to feel complete. In contrast, our inner Being is naturally whole and complete, purnatvam, so that we don’t sense a compulsive need to do or achieve in our surroundings. Also, when we do make plan and organize projects, we are less projects attached to the results and more attentive to the process of learning that occurs along the journey.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Hakini mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of wholeness to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Purnatvam Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Naturalness – sahaja.

Within the realm of prakriti, it is common to sense that we are not completely comfortabel or that we cannot truly be ourselves or even that we are living a life planned for us that is not truly our own. As we align with our inner being, we experience a naturalness, sahaja, in living as if we are always in the right place, at the right time and can be completely relaxed and natural just as we are.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Ushas mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of naturalness to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant, Om Anuthana Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. intrinsic joy – mudita

 

Within the realm of prakriti, satisfaction and happiness are largely dependent on our surroundings. As we unite more completely with our inner Being, we discover an inner spring of joy and peace that wells up from within us and overflows into our surroundings. This inner spring provides joy and satisfaction ongoingly and is especially important when we face obstacles and challenges, allowing us in meeting them more objectively and with a knowing that our inner peace prevails no matter what is happening in our surroundings. This inner joy is also important inradiating the energy of cheerfulness and good humor that are reflections of inner Being into our surroundings to support others on the journey of awakening.

 

To experience this quality, place your hands in Hansi mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of intrinsic joy to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant, Om Mudita Devaya Namaha

 

  1. Lightness – laghiman

 At the level of the conditioned personality, tension and resistance are often the result of the constant tug of war between our perceived needs and our perceived capabilities and possibilities. This often results in stress and an inner and outer atmosphere of density and heaviness. Under the effects of stress, there is a tendency to identify with the limited personality and take things, even little things, seriously and personally, resulting in even more heaviness, stress, and subsequent suffering. This heaviness and stress are an important factor in the development of body-mind disease. As we align with our inner Being, we a take wider view of interactions and situations in our surroundings, recognizing that they exist to guide us along our journey by showing us the core beliefs that are the cause of suffering. Within this wider perspective, we release the stress and heaviness that are the cause of dis-ease allowing us to live with lightness and ease and a sense of playfulness even when situations are challenging.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Hastaphula mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of lightness and ease to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant, Om Laghiman Devaya Namaha

 

  1. Equanimity – samatva

At the level of the conditioned personality, life can often seem like a roller coaster where we are either going up or coming down with only brief moments of balance in between. As we align with our inner Being, we discover a place of deep inner peace and equanimity like being in the depths of the sea where the storms that rage on the surface are barely felt and no linger have the power to throw us off our center. With greater centering and equanimity, any unforeseen challenge that arises is seen as an opportunity to recognize and dissolve any limiting core beliefs that keep us bound to the limited personality. And, even when we lose our balance, we recover more quickly.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Dhyana mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of equanimity to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant, Om Samatva Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Life purpose – Svadharma

At the level of the conditioned personality, confusion as to our life purpose and meaning is much more common than certainty. As we unite with our inner Being, we gain a knowing of who we are beyond all theory and questioning, and also recognize this knowing as our life purpose and meaning. With this sense of meaning, we are guided to unfold our unique talents and possibilities which, in one form or another, serve the entire journey of huamnity toward its destiny in the form of Self-knowledge and spiritual awakening.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Kubera mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of knowing your life purpose and meaning to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant, Om Svadharma Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Compassion – Karuna

Within the realm of prakriti, we tend to frame all experiences and interactions within the lens of our own limited conditioning. As we align with our inner Being, we cultivate compassion which is the ability to see situations through the eyes of others; to see life as other see it. With this vision we see others suffering and understand intuitively the conditioning that brought this suffering into being. We also see that the core intention of others, even when their level of consciousness is limited, is not to create harm or negativity but only to find happiness and avoid suffering within the limits of their understanding. We also understand that when others act negatively, it is not directed toward us personally, but only reflections of their own limitations and misperceived needs and priorities that get projected onto anyone that happens to be in their way. We can also recognize that these people’s suffering is real and that we too have suffered in this way in the past and acted unconsciously. We also see that other people’s beliefs, just like our own, are not fixed, for each individual always has the capacity to transform themselves and live more consciously. Finally, we recognize that the best way to support other in changing their attitudes and tendencies is not through criticism or advice, but through our own example of living in peace and equanimity.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Karuna mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of compassion to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Karuna Devaya Namaha.

 

9.Discernment – Viveka

At the level of the limited personality, there is a tendency to identify with our conditioned ways of seeing and being, even when we know that they don’t offer the possibilty of freedom, happiness and peace, but instead tend to perpetuate patterns of limitation and suffering. As our recognition of our inner Being as our true identity becomes more complete, we are able to discern clearly between the klishta vrittis, the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that cause suffering, and the aklishta vrittis, the movements within consciousness that lead to fredom and awakening. Limiting vriitis that lead to suffering will not dissolve quickly because of the depth of our conditioning, but, through discernment, we develop the ability to witness them without reacting unconsciously. Witnessing gradualy reduces the power of these pain producing vrittis, allowing us to live with greater freedom and autonomy.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Citta mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of compassion to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Viveka Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Surrender to the Lord – Ishvara Pranidhana

Within the realm of prakriti, we tend to rely on our skills and abilities at the level of the personality to find, happiness, success and meaning. Since prakriti is goverend by the three gunas and therfore in a characterized by mutability and uncertainty, the reults are always mixed and often lead to suffering when our plans and expectaions do not materialize as expected. As we align with our inner Being, we recognize it as a reflection of the intelligence at the heart of all things, Ishvara, the Source Energy. By aligning with the Source, we transcend the the ups and downs within the realm of the gunas and recognize that the happines, success and peace we seek are the very nature of our own Being as reflections of the infinite nature of the Source Energy. Through this alignment with Source, we enter into a state of Divine grace, which both guides and protects us along our journey. Within the light of grace, we find a synchrony with universal rhythms and become co-creators within our surrounding to support the greater destiny of humanity as spiritual awakening into being. We also use our challenges and difficulties as ways of seeing where we are still clingin onto the limited personality so that we can surrender ever more deeply.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Pushpanjali mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of surrender to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Ishvara Pranidhana Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Inner Silence – Antar Mauna

At the level of the conditioned personality, the level of contentment and peace we encounter is usually dependent on circumstances in our surroundings. In terms of inner silence, most struggle in meditation for a considerable length of time to find moments of silence. Through ever deepening surrender and grace, we naturally begin to experience inner silence and inner peace through aligning with our inner being which is simultaneously union with the Source Energy. This silence and peace is beyond the mind and the realm of prakriti and therefore more immune to the ups and downs in our surroundings.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Kurma mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of Inner Silence to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Antar Mauna Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Omniscience – Sarvavidya

Within the realm of prakriti, we tend to learn compartamentally, mastering pieces of information on specific themes.  Even when we become Phd.s, our knowledge in any area is is limited. In terms of the larger picture of existence, the more science discovers, the more question arise and the scope of our understanding is dwarfed by the infinity of creation. For example, the more physicas adavances, the more the definition of material creation resembles that which Yoga has ascertained intuitively, and endless field of energy whose manifestaion as materiality is almost nothing! As we align with our inner Being as a reflection and extension of the Source energy, we cultivate a differeny type of knowlegd in the form of an intuitive knowing of the essence of all things, of the laws that govern creation itself and of the Source that underlies these. This knowing provides alsolut sertaint about whowe are, the nature of created things and our life purpose and destiny in the form of spiritual awakening.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Bhairava mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of omniscience to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Sarvavidya Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Limitlessness – Ananta

At the level of the conditioned personality, limitation is an ever-present reality. We almost never achieve our wants and needs completely. And, by our very human nature, as soon as we do attain something, there is a tendency to want more or better or different. Moreover, even when we have all we need at a practical level, there are inner patterns of defectiveness and deficiency that continue to create a sense of limitation and subsequent suffering. As we align with our inner Being, we recognize that the true nature of both the creator and the creation is limitlessness. This even applies to our understanding of the universe where science often seeks to find frontiers and boundaries but where the reality just keeps expanding. As we become one with the limitless creative, we experience it as the nature of our own Being in samadhi. We also gradually integrate it into daily living where we come to understand that our capacity for living fully and joyfully is also limitless. Simultaneously, even at the level of material manifestation, we come to see that our ability to unfold our unique talents and possibilities for the good of all beings is also limitless.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Ananta mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of limitlessness to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Ananta Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Self-mastery – Vashitvam

At the level of the conditioned personality, there is a strong tendency to identify with and be subject to a wide range of emotions, drives and instincts related to likes, dislikes, and perceived needs. Emotional patterns such as a sense of loss, shame, neediness, or grief can encompass and characterize our entire personality. As we align with our inner Being, we recognize that these tendencies exist only in our mind and in patterns of conditioned beliefs that have no basis in reality. We therefore cultivate the ability to witness these patterns of negativity, no matter how powerful they may seem, without identifying with them as “me.” Through this commitment to no identify with patterns that ultimately cause suffering, we gradually develop autonomy, the freedom to choose our thoughts, emotions and beliefs beyond the realm of our conditioning which is the essence of self-mastery.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Kaleshvara mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of limitlessness to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Vashitvam Devaya Namaha.

 

  1. Unconditional Love – Prema

At the level of the conditioned personality, love is usually dependent on our surroundings and in reciprocity. When we receive affection, nurturance and caring, it is easy to respond in ways that are loving. When this caring is not present, we rend to react, and the source of love can quickly transform into a source of hurt and pain. As we align with our inner Being, we recognize it as our very nature in the form of caring and positivity. Love is the very essence of creation when we release all the conditioning that keeps us searching for satisfaction and happiness in our surroundings. At a practical level, this wider experience of love permeates our relationships so that we are able to see everyone wants the love and happiness that is a reflection of their true Being, who they are in reality. In the end, love is simply a home coming. Through this recognition, we can avoid the neediness and codependency that keeps us from loving unconditionally.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Padma mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of unconditional love to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Prema Devaya Namaha.

  1. Spiritual Freedom – Moksha

Through the cultivation and unfolding of all the other qualities, we naturally experience freedom as our very nature; a sense that we are no longer bound either to our own conditioning or to situations in our surroundings. We are also free from fear of deathj as we recognize that our inner being, as one with the total, has always been and will always be. In complete freedom and imortality, we also recognize ourselves as one with the intelligence at the heart of all things, Ishvara, the Source Energy. Challenges may continue to arise, but we deal with them objectively without the need to take anything personally. Within this lived experience of freedom, which we recognize as our life purpose and meaning, our energy is freed from patterns of resistance and anxiety, allowing us to support all beings on the journey of awakening.

To experience this quality, place your hands in Jnana mudra and take 6 breaths, allowing this quality of spiritual freedom to blossom from within and permeate your entire being as you chant Om Moksha Devaya Namaha.

Por Joseh Le Page

Foto capa: Laion Cantarelli

The Yoga Sutras and Yoga Therapy

1.1 atha yogānuśāsanam

atha – now, therefore; yogaḥ – art and science of spiritual awakening; anuśāsanam – instruction, teaching, discipline

Now, when the student is prepared, instruction in Yoga begins.

  • The word atha means “now” and also “therefore”, and both words are important in relation to Yoga Therapy.
  • “Therefore” refers to a process that occurred to prepare us for the journey of Yoga. In the case of Yoga Therapy, this preparation is taking responsibility for your own health.
  •  In terms of the word “now”, Yoga Therapy always works in the present moment, so that the past, together with experiences of guilt or shame, are seen as patterns of thought and believe in the present moment.
  • The root of the word anushasana is shas meaning instruction, but is also related to the word for sword, reflecting the need to cut through patterns of limiting conditioning in order to move toward optimal health.
  • Shas is also related to the word sishya meaning a pupil or disciple, reflecting the need to find an authentic teacher that can guide us to health.

1.2 yogaś citta vṛtti nirodhaḥ

yogaḥ – the art and science of spiritual awakening; citta – mind-field; vṛttiḥ – movement, activity, modification; nirodhaḥ – stilling, cessation, restraint

Yoga is stilling the activity of the mind.

  • There are two basic types of stilling the mind and both are important in Yoga Therapy.
  • Yoga has a wide variety of techniques which support reducing the activity of the mind, especially in terms of reducing patterns of negative or destructive thinking. Asana, pranayama, mudra, meditation, and Yoga nidra, all play a role.
  • The second way to still the mind is through witnessing, sakshitvam. In this way, the inner dialog and outer expression of this dialog continue, but we gradually learn to witness without repressing or reacting, thereby gradually reducing identification, which reduces the stress response and stress related illness.

1.3 tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe ’vasthānam

tadā – then; draṣṭuḥ – of the seer; svarūpa – true nature, true form; avasthānam – abides, is established, dwells

Then, when the movements of the mind have come into stillness, the seer abides in its own true nature.

  • The word drashtu, referring to the one who sees, is important in that it emphasizes that recognition of our true Being is a question of clarity. In Yoga Therapy, we create an opening in which the care receiver comes to see for themselves the patterns of thought, feeling, relief, lifestyle, and diet that are the source of dis-ease.

1.4 vṛtti sārūpyam itaratra

vṛtti – activity, movements, fluctuations, modifications; sārūpyam – identification with, similarity, taking the form of; itaratra – elsewhere, otherwise, at other times

At other times, when not abiding in one’s own true nature, there is identification with the movements of the mind.

  • One of the greatest obstacles in healing is the tendency to identify with one’s illness or limitation as “I” and “mine”. In Yoga Therapy, we reinforce the understanding that health conditions are not a permanent characteristic and that our true Self is the inner being that witnesses them.
  • In this way, we create a space for disidentification with the cause of suffering.

1.5 vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ kliṣṭā ‘kliṣṭaḥ

vṛttayaḥ – activities of the mind; pañcatayyaḥ – of five kinds; kliṣṭa – painful;
akliṣṭaḥ – non-painful

The movements of the mind are of five kinds and are either painful or non-painful.

  • This sutra is key to Yoga Therapy because it defines painful and non-painful in ways which are completely distinct from the norms upheld in our culture.
  • Painful is anything that creates separation from our true Being, even if it may seem pleasurable in the moment. This includes all the way the body is abused in the name of pleasure, such as drinking, drugs, partying or even exercise or asana practice when they become addictions.
  • Non-painful is everything that leads to union to our true Being, even if it is uncomfortable initially, including getting up early to practice meditation, or confronting core beliefs that bring up strong feelings.

1.11 anubhūta viṣayā ‘saṁpramoṣaḥ smṛtiḥ

anubhūtaḥ – experienced; viṣayaḥ – sense objects, objects of experience; asaṁpramoṣaḥ – retained, not forgotten, not released; smṛtiḥ – memory

Memory is the retention of sense objects experienced in the past.

  • This sutra highlights the importance of bringing memories into the present moment where they can be experienced as reflections of current patterns of thought and belief, rather than past events which are no longer accessible.
  • When these beliefs are worked with in the present moment and released, they no longer need to be retained.

1.12 abhyāsa-vairāgya-ābhyāṃ tan-nirodhaḥ

abhyāsaḥ – practice, effort, application, will; vairāgya – dispassion, non-attachment, uncolored; ābhyāṃ – of these two; tat – of those; nirodhaḥ – bringing into stillness, cessation

That stilling of those movements of the mind is accomplished through practice and non-attachment.

  • The Yoga therapist works to awaken both these essential qualities in the care receiver. Practice is essential in reforming limiting patterns of diet, lifestyle, and belief.
  • Non-attachment is part of the process of reminding the care receiver that they are already whole and complete. We do this by constantly reinforcing the positive qualities that Yoga awakens, including inherent self-esteem, and inner peace.

1.17 vitarka-vicārānandāsmitā-rūpānugamāt saṁprajñātaḥ

vitarka – cognitive reasoning; vicāra – intuitive understanding; ānanda – joy, bliss, ecstasy; asmitā – I-am-ness; rūpa – appearance of; anugamāt – accompanied by; saṁprajñātaḥ – samādhi supported by an object of meditation

Samprajñātah samādhi is accompanied by the sequential appearance of cognitive reasoning, intuitive understanding, bliss and “I-am-ness”.

  • These levels of samadhi can be seen as levels of understanding of our own bodies. At the vitarka level, the body is a solid entity. At the vichara level, we understand it subtle dimension. At the ananda level, we discover that the body is a source of joy and ecstasy; and at the asmita level, we experience our deeper being, a greater Self, the “I” that inhabits the body.
  • This path of samadhi is also the path of health in a greater sense.

1.20 śraddhā-vīrya- smṛtiḥ samādhi-prajñā-pūrvaka itareṣām

śraddhā – faith, confidence; vīrya – energy, strength, vitality, a firm decision, commitment, virility; smṛtiḥ– remembering, awareness, mindfulness; samādhi – meditation, concentration; prajñā – transcendent wisdom, knowledge; pūrvaka – preceded by; itareṣām – for others

For others, not born with a natural predisposition, attainment of asaṁprajñātaḥ samādhi is preceded by faith, energy, mindfulness, regular meditation practice and wisdom.

  • These qualities are pre-condition for the effortless practice of samadhi but can also be seen as essential for whole person health.
  • Faith is confidence in our own true Being and that healing is an intrinsic facet of this true Being.
  • Virya is vitality, energy and strength, the essence of health. It unfolds naturally as we set a firm course toward recognition of our true Being.
  • Smirtih is remembering, which is a way of saying that we can witness without identifying all forms of negative thinking which are the source of dis-ease through constantly remembering the inherent perfection of our true Being.
  • Samadhi, in this sense, is reminder that changing old patterns can only occur through constant reinforcement of new patterns.
  • Prajna means wisdom, and in relation to Yoga Therapy is the recognition that the entire life journey is a path of healing.

1.23 īśvara-praṇidhānād-vā

īśvara – Lord of creation; praṇidhānāt – through devotion, dedication, surrender; – or

Or, asaṁprajñātaḥ samādhi is experienced through surrender to Īśvara.

  • Part of the process of healing is expanding our vision of ourselves beyond the conditioned personality with all of its wants, needs and perceived deficiencies.
  • This larger vision is one of ourselves as part of the whole of Creation, the entire Universe.
  • Ishvara is the energy Intelligence at the heart of the Universe. when we surrender to Ishvara, we surrender to our own greater Being whose very essence is healing.

1.27 tasya vācakaḥ praṇavaḥ

tasya – his; vācakaḥ – symbol, signifier, word, name; praṇavaḥ – OM

His, Īśvara’s, symbol is OM

1.28 taj-japaḥ tad-artha-bhāvanam

taj – that; japa – repetition, recitation; tad – that; artha – purpose, meaning;
bhāvanam – cultivation, realization

The repetition of that syllable OM leads to the realization of its purpose and meaning

  • The Universe is created by the sound of OM, this is Ishvara voice calling the Universe into being.
  • The Yoga Therapist can use sound, including the sound of OM, effectively as way to connecting the care receiver to the Source Energy, which is also the source of healing.

1.29 tataḥ pratyak-cetana-adhigamo-’py-antarāya-abhavaś-ca

tataḥ– through that; pratyak – inner; cetana – consciousness; adhigama – realization; api – also; antarāya – impediments; abhavaḥ – negation, absence, removal; ca – and

Through that repetition, consciousness of the inner true Self is realized and the impediments to the practice of samādhi are removed.

  • This sutra reminds us that as Yoga therapist, we are always involved in two processes simultaneously.
  • The first is reinforcing all the positive qualities awaken along the Yoga journey, beginning with relaxation, continuing with inner peace, and culminating in self-understanding.
  • The second process is providing a lens through which the care receiver can see more clearly the impediments that they place in their own path to healing.

1.30 vyādhi styāna saṁśaya pramādālasyāvirati bhrānti darśanālabdha bhūmikatvānavasthitatvāni citta-vikṣepās te’ ntarāyāḥ

vyādhi – illness; styāna – dullness; saṁśaya – doubt; pramāda – carelessness; ālasya – lack of energy and enthusiasm; avirati – sense indulgence; bhrānti darśana – false views; alabdha bhūmikatva – failure to gain a firm ground; anavasthitatvāni – instability; citta-vikṣepāḥ – distractions of the mind field; te – they (are); antarāyāḥ – impediments

Illness, dullness, doubt, carelessness, lack of energy and enthusiasm, sense indulgence, false views, failure to gain a firm ground and instability are the distractions of the mind-field that are impediments to samādhi.

  • Dis-ease, vyadhi, is first and foremost in this list, reminding us how challenging it is for care receivers with chronic illness to embark and remain on the journey of self-healing.
  • One effective way for the Yoga Therapist to work with these antarayas is to reinforce their positive opposite qualities, supported by mudras:

1.31 duḥkha-daurmanasyṅāgam-ejayatva-śvāsapraśvāsāḥ vikṣepa sahabhuvaḥ

duḥkha – suffering, pain; daurmanasya – anguish, despair, depression;
aṅgamejayatva – trembling of the limbs, anxiety; śvāsa – inhalation; praśvāsāḥ – exhalation; vikṣepa – distraction, dispersion; sahabhuvaḥ – accompany, correlates, symptoms

Suffering, anguish, trembling of the limbs, erratic inhalation and exhalation accompany the distractions.

  • These symptoms of the antarayas remind us that stress-related illness is not new, and that depression and anxiety were already a subject of concern for Patanjali.
  • With this understanding, we remind ourselves that stress is the cause of most chronic illness, and that lack of self-knowledge is the cause of stress.

1.32 tat-pratiṣedhārtham-eka-tattvābhyāsaḥ

tat – these; pratiṣedha – counteract, prevent; artham – as a means of;
eka – one, single, unitary; tattva – principle, truth, quality; abhyāsaḥ – practice

As a means of counteracting these impediments, practice a single truth or principle

  • Yoga tools and techniques are almost infinite in scope and variety. The texts of Hatha Yoga alone state that there are eighty-four thousand types of asanas.
  • When working in Yoga Therapy however, it is often helpful to take a single tool, such as guided meditation, a mudra or an affirmation and make them the heart and focus of a healing practice.
    Even when we use a variety of practices, and these progress over time depending on the students need, we can maintain one theme supported by various healing tools.

1.33 maitrī-karuṇā-muditopekṣāṇāṁ sukha-duḥkha-puṇyāpuṇya-viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaś citta-prasādanam

maitrī – loving kindness; karuṇā – compassion; mudita – intrinsic joy;
upekṣāṇāṁ – neutrality, indifference; sukha – pleasure, comfort; duḥkha – pain, sorrow; puṇya – virtue, merit; apuṇya – non-virtue, demerit; viṣayāṇāṁ – in relation to, with regard to; bhāvanātaḥ – through cultivating; citta – mind field; prasādanam – clear, serene

The mind becomes clear and serene through the cultivation of loving kindness, compassion, intrinsic joy and neutrality in relation to pleasure and pain, virtue and absence of virtue.

  • All of the values of the Yoga techniques and methodologies will be seen primarily and most importantly as changes in our attitude, beliefs and tendencies.
  • These healthy attitudes are embodied in the four measurable qualities and these qualities will affect the overall functioning and health of both the mind and the body.

1.34 pracchardana-vidhāraṇābhyāṁ vā prāṇasya

Prachchhardana – exhalation; vidhāraṇābhyāṁ – control, regulation, retention;
vā – or; prāṇasya – of the breath

Or, the impediments to samādhi are overcome by exhalation and control of breath.

  • This sutra deals with breath awareness as opposed to pranayama techniques, reminding the Yoga therapists that observing the care receiver breath and supporting them in bringing awareness to their breath are important tools for Yoga Therapy.

1.35 viṣayavatī vā pravr̥ttir utpannā manasaḥ sthiti nibandhinī

viṣayavatī – having sense experiences; – or; pravṛttiḥ – awareness, perception; utpannā – manifest, arisen; manasaḥ – of the mind; sthiti – stability, steadiness; nibandhinī – firmly establishes.

Or, awareness of the arising of sense experiences firmly establishes the stability of the mind.

  • The ultimate goal of Yoga is self-mastery, but along this journey self-expression also has an important role to play.
  • The Yoga therapist provides safe resources for feeling and expressing emotions, such as “Ha breathing”, and the release of sound and tension during asana practice.
  • As Patanjali states, this emotional release, when done within the framework of Yoga Therapy, cultivates stability in the mind.

1.41 kṣīṇa-vṛtter abhijātasyeva maṇer-grahītṛ-grahaṇa-grāhyeṣu tat-stha-tad-añjanatā samāpattiḥ

kṣīṇa – weakened, diminished; vṛtteḥ – one whose mental fluctuations; abhijātasya – transparent, naturally pure, perfect; eva – like, as though; maṇeḥ – crystal, jewell, gem; grahītṛ – knower; grahaṇa – process of knowing; grāhyeṣu – the known, experienced objects; tat-stha – becoming focused, becoming stable; tadañjanatā – taking the color of, taking the form of; samāpattiḥ – merging, fusion, engrossment, coalescence

When one’s mental fluctuations are weakened, consciousness becomes like a transparent crystal that can take on the color of whatever is placed before it whether that be the knower, the process of knowing or the object of knowing which naturally merge in samāpattiḥ.

  • An important characteristic of dis-ease is the inability to see clearly. In this sutra, Patanjali reminds us that the essence of self-knowledge, which is also the essence of health, is gaining objectivity so that we see ourselves, other people, and life as a whole, as they are and not as we want them to be, or think they should be.

1.50 taj-jaḥ saṁskāro ’nya-saṁskāra-pratibandhī

tad – that; jaḥ – arising, born, produced; saṁskāraḥ – habitual latent impressions;
anya – (of) other; saṁskāraḥ – habitual latent impressions; pratibandhī – wipes away, inhibits, annuls, blocks

Impressions arising in r̥taṁbharā wipe away all other impressions.

  • In the process of Yoga Therapy, the care receivers begin to experience positive sensations and qualities that arise within their own being.
  • This begins with simple relaxation and the unfold as inherent joy, and finally, as an experience of knowledge of truth.
  • This knowledge of truth infuses our entire being and erases all beliefs of defectiveness, which are replaced by absolute knowing of our life purpose and meaning.
  • This knowing of truth is health in the deepest sense.

2.1 tapaḥ svādhyāyeśvara-praṇidhānāni kriyā-yogaḥ

tapaḥ – discipline, austerity; svādhyāya – self-study, study of scripture; Īśvara – The Lord; praṇidhānāni – surrender, devotion; kriyā – action, transformation; yogaḥ – union, integration

Kriyā-yogaḥ consists of discipline, self-study and surrender to the Lord.

2.2 samādhi-bhāvana-arthaḥ kleśa tanū-karaṇa-arthaś-ca

Samādhi – meditative absorption; bhāvana – realizing, cultivating;
arthaḥ – for the purpose of; kleśa – obstructions, afflictions; tanū – weakening, attenuating, diminishing; karaṇa – cause; arthaś – for the purpose of; ca – and

The purpose of kriyā-yoga is to realize samādhi and weaken the kleśas.

  • Kriya Yoga can be seen as a roadmap to health.
  • We begin by creating new patterns through practice and discipline. We engage in a process of inner observation to see all that has been limiting and destructive and also to visualize new ways of being.
  • Finally, we awaken self-knowledge which is also knowledge of the whole Universe and of the energy and intelligence at the heart of the Universe.

2.3 avidyā-asmitā-rāga-dveṣa-abhiniveśaḥ kleśāḥ

avidyā – absence of wisdom, absence of knowledge of the true Self; asmitā – sense of individuality; rāga – desire, attachment; dveṣa – aversion, dislike; abhiniveśaḥ – fear of death, drive to survive, existential anxiety; kleśāḥ – root causes of suffering

Absence of knowledge of the true Self, identification with the limited personality, desire, aversion and fear of death are the kleśās, the root causes of suffering.

  • The word klesha comes from the root klish, which means both impure and painful. The kleshas are therefore the root cause of dis-ease.
  • The Yoga path is a lifelong journey of removing the kleshas and in the space of clarity created, recognizing our true Being which is synonymous with self-healing.
  • The Yoga therapist, even when working with basic techniques, with a specific objective of relaxation and stress management, always keep the kleshas in view as the deeper source of dis-ease.

2.11 dhyāna heyāḥ tad-vr̥ttayaḥ

dhyāna – meditation; heyāḥ – dissolved, destroyed, resolved; tad – these; vr̥ttayaḥ – activities of the mind

These vrttis, the kleshas, are destroyed through meditation.

  • All of the techniques we teach in Yoga Therapy are ultimately guiding the student toward an experience of meditation in the form of quieting the mind and eventually recognizing the inner I whose very nature is silence.

2.12 Kleśa mūlaḥ karma-aśayo dr̥ṣṭādr̥ṣṭa-janma-vedanīyaḥ

Kleśa – affliction; mūlaḥ – root, origin; karma – action; aśayaḥ – accumulation, storehouse; dr̥ṣṭa – seen (in this lifetime); adr̥ṣṭa – unseen, (from other incarnations); janma – births, incarnations; vedanīyaḥ – experienced

The kleśas are the root cause of the accumulation of karma experienced in this or other incarnations.

  • We often think of karma as a storehouse accumulated in previous lifetimes, but karma is also the sum total of our thoughts, beliefs, lifestyle and activities in day-to-day living.
  • The Yoga therapist creates an opening for the care receiver to see how the sum total of their karma is creating dis-ease.
  • The Yoga therapist also creates an opening for the care receiver to see that a new incarnation, a new way of being can occur in any moment, when there is a willingness for genuine transformation.

2.15 pariṇāma tāpa saṁskāra duḥkhaiḥ guṇa-vr̥tti-virodhāc ca duḥkham-eva sarvaṁ vivekinaḥ

pariṇāma – transformation, change, effects, results, consequences; tāpa – anguish, suffering, acute anxiety; saṁskāra – imprints in memory, habit patterns; duḥkhaiḥ – pain, sorrow, suffering; guṇa – constituents of nature; vr̥tti – activities, fluctuations, modifications; virodhāt – internal opposition, conflict; ca – and; duḥkham – painful, sorrowful; eva – only; sarvaṁ – all: vivekinaḥ – to the discerning, to the wise.

For the discerning, all worldly experiences are painful because of the conflict and change inherent in the gunas leading to continual change in which experiences of anguish become habit patterns that deepen the experience of suffering.

  • From the Yoga perspective, experience within the realm of prakriti, material reality, will never provide the knowledge, satisfaction, happiness, health, or peace that we seek.
  • Within Yoga, we choose a completely different path in which all of life is seen as an experience of learning, leading to awakening.
  • This understanding is key in Yoga Therapy because it is only in embracing this new way of seeing that health can unfold in the deepest sense.

2.16 heyaṁ duḥkham-anāgatam

heyaṁ – overcome, avoided, dissolved; duḥkham – suffering, pain; anāgatam – yet to come

The suffering yet to come can be avoided.

  • This sutra reminds us that while the suffering and dis-ease of the past is real, it need not continue.
  • By changing our attitude, priorities and use of time and energy, all forms of dis-ease can be released allowing us to continue into the future with health, happiness, and clarity.

2.33 vitarka bādhane pratipakṣa bhāvanaṁ

vitarka – negative thoughts; bādhane – disturbance; pratipakṣa – opposite thought or principle; bhāvanaṁ – cultivation

When these universal values and spiritual observances are disturbed by negative thoughts, the opposite positive thought should be cultivated.

  • In Yoga Therapy, we need to create an opening where negative and limiting ways of seeing and being are replaced by positive ones.
  • This is much more than an exercise in positive thinking and is embodied in the following process.
  • Cultivating the skill to do the opposite of what our instincts tell us to do is referred to within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as pratypaksha bhavana, which literally means to visualize the opposite thought or quality as a response to all forms of negativity.
  • Simply trying to think of something positive when we are feeling negative could lead to repression that could have negative consequences.
  • Therefore, pratypaksha bhavana is not just replacing a negative thought with a positive one, but a process of understanding that allows us to transform negativity into positivity.
  • This process makes use of pranayama techniques, including Kapalabhati:
    1. Bring to mind an issue that you are facing currently that generates any kind of negativity in the form of anger, fear, aversion, discomfort or annoyance. Notice the thoughts and feelings that accompany this pattern.
    2. Bring this situation and accompanying feelings into your body and notice where they live as well as their size, shape, color, texture and any accompanying symbols. Take some time to feel where this pattern lives within your being.
    3. Perform 27 rounds of Kapalabhati, developing openness and clarity to sense this pattern of thought and feeling even more clearly.
    4. Take some time to dialogue with this pattern of thought or feeling, basically allowing it to tell its story, how it perceived what happened and how it became hurt, frightened, angry, etc.
    5. Allow the others involved in this situation, even if it was in the distant past, to also tell their story, beginning to see that ours is not the only way to perceive the situation.
    6. Perform 27 more rounds of Kapalabhati, developing openness and clarity to see all the perspectives involved in the situation.
    7. Notice that this situation has an emotional charge for you currently, but that it is not new, since it reflects core beliefs that tend to recreate patterns of thought and feeling over and over, with different characters and different places, but the same general theme.
    8. Reflect on other similar situations you’ve been in, noticing how the pattern of thought and feeling are the same.
    9. See if you can identify a core belief within your own being that sustains these patterns of thought and feeling, that gives them energy.
      1. These core beliefs include a whole range of defense mechanisms developed early in life in order to protect ourselves from hurt and loss while trying to attain love, belonging and happiness.
      2. These beliefs include “I need to protect myself or others will hurt me,” “Life is never completely safe,” and, “I’m the only one who knows how to do it right.”
    10. Perform 27 more rounds of Kapalabhati and then rest in the space created to see if you can identify a core belief active in this current situation.
      1. When this core belief was developed, it was as a response to something positive you were trying to attain or achieve in your life, such as acceptance, belonging, recognition, love or even survival.
    11. Think back to when this core belief developed and notice what you really wanted. Notice where this positive quality lives in your body as well as their size, shape, color, texture and any accompanying symbols.
    12. Notice that you desired this positive quality so intensely because it is actually a reflection of your true Being, who you are beyond all the beliefs, conditioning and patterns of thought and feeling which are all superimposed externally. Take 27 more cycles of Kapalabhati to integrate this quality throughout your entire being.
    13. Reassess the current situation and your attitudes and visualize a way of thinking, feeling and responding that are pratypaksha bhavana, exactly the opposite of what you might normally think, feel or do, thereby supporting the release of all forms of limiting conditioning while supporting the recognition of your true Being.
    14. Visualize ways that this new attitude can be put into practice so that your needs are met, the maximum of harmony is created in your environment, so you stop creating similar situations in the future.
  • Practice 27 more rounds of Kapalabhati to help visualize this new way of working with this type of situation.

3.23. maitryādiṣu balāniprakāśā ‘saṁprayoge ‘ntardhānam

maitrī – loving kindness; ādiṣu – and so forth; balāni – powers, stengths

By the practice of the threefold discipline on qualities like loving kindness, we come to embody that quality.

3.24. baleṣu hasti balādīni

baleṣu – in strengths; hasti – elephants; bala – strengths; ādīni – and so forth

By the practice of the threefold discipline on elephants, and so forth, we gain their strength.

  • These sutras remind us of the power of visualization and imagery and how the Yogs therapist can use this to cultivate and reinforce positive attitudes and qualities.

3.29. nābhi cakre kāya vyūha jñānam

nābhi – navel; cakre – at the center; kāya – body, anatomy; vyūha – organization; jñānaṁ – knowledge

By samyama at the navel center, Maṇipura cakra, knowledge of the organization of the body is gained.

3.30. kaṇṭhakūpe kṣut pipāsā nivṛttih

kaṇṭha – throat; kūpe – well, pit, hollow; kṣut – hunger; pipāsā – thirst; nivṛttiḥ – cessation

By samyama at the pit of the throat, Viśuddha cakra, cessation of hunger and thirst is gained.

3.31. kūrma nāḍyāṁ sthairyaṁ

kūrma – tortoise; nāḍyāṁ – channel; sthairyaṁ – stability, steadiness, immobility

By samyama at the tortoise channel, Muladhara cakra, steadiness is gained.

3.32. mūrdha jyotiṣi siddha darśanam

mūrdha – of the head; jyotiṣi – on the light; siddha – masters; darśanaṁ – vision

By samyama on the light in the head, Sahasrara cakra, a vision of the masters is gained.

3.33. prātibhād vā sarvam

prātibhād – spontaneous enlightenment, flash of liberating intuition; – or; sarvaṁ – all

Or, through a liberating intuition at the third eye, Ajna chakra, all knowledge is gained.

3.34. hṛdaye citta saṁvit

hṛdaye – on the heart; citta – consciousness; saṁvit – full knowledge

By samyama on the heart, Anahata cakra, full knowledge of consciousness is gained.

  • These sutras on the chakras remind the Yoga therapist that health and balance in the subtle body is a key aspect of overall health.

3.40. samāna jayāj jvalanaṁ

samāna – middle current of life force energy; jayāt – through mastery;
jvalanaṁ – radiance, brilliance, vitality

Through mastery of samāna, (the middle current of vital energy, one gains) radiance and vitality.

  • This sutra on the prana vayus remind the Yoga therapist that these currents of subtle energy, which bring vitality to the physical body are a key facet of health and healing.

3.41. śrotrā ‘kāśayoḥ saṁbandha saṁyamād divyaṁ śrotram

śrotrā – ear, power of hearing; ākāśayoḥ – space; saṁbandha – relationship between; saṁyamāt – by saṁyama; divyaṁ – divine, supernatural; śrotraṁ – hearing

By saṁyama on the relationship between the space element and the power of hearing, divine hearing is attained.

3.44. sthūla svarūpa sūkṣmā ‘nvayārthavattva saṁyamād bhūta jayaḥ

sthūla – gross, material; svarūpa – essential nature, own form; sūkṣmā – subtle;
anvaya – interconnection, constitution, inherence; arthavattva – purposefulness; saṁyamād – through saṁyama; bhūta – the elements; jayaḥ – victory, mastery
bhūta – the elements; jayaḥ – victory, mastery

By saṁyama on the gross nature, essential nature, subtle nature, constitution and purpose of the elements in relation to purusha, one gains mastery over them.

3.45. tato ‘ṇimādi prādur bhāvaḥ kāya saṁpat tad dharmā ‘nabhighātaś ca

tataḥ – then; aṇima – becoming minute like an atom; ādi – and so forth;
prādurbhāvaḥ – appearance of, attainment; manifestation; kāya – body; saṁpat – perfection, excellence; tat – their (the elements’); dharma – constituents, characteristics, attributes; anabhighātaḥ – unafflicted, unaffected, immune from; ca – and

Then (from the mastery of the elements), sidhis such as becoming minute manifest along with perfection of body and its immunity (from the ravages of) the elements of nature.

3.46. rūpa lāvaṇya bala vajrasaṁhananatvāni kāya saṁpat

rūpa – form, beauty; lāvaṇya – grace; bala – strength; vajra – diamond like firmness; saṁhananatvāni – structures, constituents (these are); kāya – body; saṁpat – perfection

Beauty, grace, strength, and adamantine firmness constitute perfection of the body

  • This sutra is dealing with the five elements both in their gross and their subtle form and their relationship to the senses reminds the Yoga therapist that working with this relationship is a key part of the healing process.
  • Balancing the senses, the paired organs and the five elements with Anuloma Viloma Kapalabhati
  • To attain this balance, we will practice Anuloma Viloma Kapalabhati with each of the senses and paired organs individually.
  • Begin your pranayama and focus first on the left and right nostrils. Focus on the left as you exhale forcefully left and on the right as you exhale forcefully right for 18 cycles.
  • As you breathe, also sense your connection to the earth element by visualizing a yellow square at the base of your body. After 18 cycles, release, taking three natural breaths to sense the balance of your nostrils and sinus passages and sense of smell, integrating the quality of grounding.
  • Next, focus on your left and right cheeks and left and right sides of your mouth and tongue. Focus on the left as you exhale forcefully left and on the right as you exhale forcefully right for 18 cycles.
  • As you breathe, also sense your connection to the water element by visualizing a silver blue crescent moon within your pelvis. After 18 cycles, release, sensing the balance within your cheeks, mouth, tongue and sense of taste, integrating the quality of fluidity.
  • Next, focus on your left and right eyes. Focus on the left as you exhale forcefully left and on the right as you exhale forcefully right for 18 cycles.
  • As you breathe, also sense your connection to the fire element by visualizing a downward-facing red triangle at your solar plexus. After 18 cycles, release, sensing the balance within your eyes and sense of sight, integrating the quality of clarity.
  • Next, focus on your left and right lungs. Focus on the left as you exhale forcefully left and on the right as you exhale forcefully right for 18 cycles.
  • As you breathe, also sense your connection to the air element by visualizing a six-pointed green star at your heart center. After 18 cycles, release, sensing the balance within your lungs and sense of touch, integrating the quality of harmony.
  • Next, focus on the left and right hemispheres of your brain. Focus on the left as you exhale forcefully left and on the right as you exhale forcefully right for 18 cycles.
  • As you breathe, also sense your connection to the integration of all the elements by visualizing the symbol OM at your third eye. After 18 cycles, release, sensing the balance of all your senses and paired organs in perfect harmony, integrating the quality of unity.

Pranayama for Healing and Transformation

The new book on Pranayama by Joseph Le Page and Karin Silberberg is near in completion and due to be released by the end of 2021. The book follows the same style and format as Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph Le Page and Lilian Aboim, which has literally become the bible of Mudras for many yoga students both in the United States and internationally. Like the Mudra book, Pranayama’s for Healing and Transformation is divided into families which begins with an introduction to the overall uses and benefits of that family as well as the core qualities awakened by each breathing techniques. For example, the first family, the Dirgha Pranayama Family contains five breathing techniques, each with its own focus and benefits.

Each pranayama is then presented in-depth, including its benefits, supporting affirmation, meaning and symbolism, variations and instructions. Each pranayama will also be available on the app which accompanies the book with spoken instructions for each pranayama. This new facet of the Integrative Yoga vision promises to add a completely new dimension to pranayama practice.
For more Pranayama and Mudra videos stay tuned to our Instagram @integrativeyogatherapy

 

Unifying the Definitions of Yoga

The meaning of Yoga is not found in a single definition but through several interrelated definitions that come together to form a vision of Yoga beyond words and concepts. Together, these definitions form a mandala, a circle of understanding that both encompasses and transcends all of the various shades of Yoga’s meaning, guiding us to its essence – the truth of our own Being which is simultaneously the truth of all things, which words can point to, but never express completely.

 

Yogaḥ saṁyogaḥ – Yoga is Union

The Sanskrit root of the word Yoga is yuj, meaning “to join or unite”. There are many cognates for the word Yoga in Indo-European languages including the English “yoke”, to join two things together, and the Portuguese “conjugar”, to join or unite. The concept of Yoga as union encompasses a broad range of meanings, each of which contributes to the understanding of Yoga as a whole. The ultimate meaning of Yoga as union is the joining of the individual soul, Atman, with the Universal Self, Brahman, which is the recognition that the ultimate purpose of each individual’s life journey is to unite with their true Being which is simultaneously the Universal Self and Source at the heart of all things.

We begin this journey of union at the most palpable level – union with our own body. Although we relate to the body as “I” and “me”, our relationship often lacks any real depth or intimacy. In fact, our body is often treated as a slightly foreign object, used by the everyday personality in its quest for survival, reproduction and social hierarchy. Through Yoga in general, and through the techniques of Hatha Yoga in particular, we unite with our body deeply, optimizing its functioning, thereby transforming it into an appropriate vehicle for the journey of union with our true Being.

This union with the body serves as a foundation for uniting with our own breath through pranayama, the science of yogic breathing. As we develop mastery of the breath, we balance the nervous system, reducing stress and cultivating the equanimity that serves as a foundation for our journey of union with our true Being. Union with our breath naturally awakens awareness of our body of subtle energy, an expansive dimension of being that allows us to transcend our everyday thoughts, feelings and beliefs, thereby loosening our rigid identification with the personality.

Uniting with our breath and body of subtle energy cultivates spaciousness within our psycho- emotional being that allows us to explore it with greater openness and objectivity. Ultimately, we will come to see that our everyday mind, called manas, is not our true identity, but the first step in working with limiting patterns of thought, feeling and belief is to unite with them more deeply through awareness of the tendencies that cause confusion and suffering. Through this greater intimacy with our psycho-emotional being, we come to see that the personality is actually a composite of layers of conditioning in the form of evolutionary survival instincts, culture, society and family completely distinct from our true Being.

This gradual recognition of the limiting nature of the conditioned personality naturally awakens our higher mind, called buddhi, that witnesses limiting thoughts, feelings and beliefs while neither repressing, reacting unconsciously or identifying with them as “I” and “me”. As we unite with this higher mind more completely, witnessing becomes natural and spontaneous, gradually releasing tendencies toward negativity, hostility and feelings of  defectiveness and insufficiency. This union with our higher mind through conscious witnessing is especially critical when we experience loss, pain and suffering, for behind every experience of limitation, there always lies the possibility of seeing the limiting beliefs that are the cause of psycho-emotional pain and suffering.

Through awareness and release of limiting thoughts, feelings and beliefs, space is created for understanding the meaning of Yoga as union in the ultimate sense of union with our true Being.  This union is not something we create or achieve, but is simply seeing clearly when all misperceptions, limiting beliefs, confusion and conditioning have been released. This true Self is pure conscious Being, inherently complete, the Universal Self at the heart of all things whose very essence is unity.

The nature of this Universal Self and the means to unite with it are clarified by other definitions of Yoga found in the Bhagavad Gita. The first of these is in Bhagavad Gita 2.50:

 

Yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam – Yoga is skill in action

Skill in action is essentially the ability to see clearly who we are not, the conditioned personality, and who we are, limitless true Being. This skill is expressed moment to moment in daily living through conscious witnessing, observing psycho-emotional patterns and tendencies while neither repressing, reacting unconsciously or identifying with them as “I” and “me”. Skillful action is also respect for our own conditioned patterns and tendencies by recognizing that they are deeply entrenched and therefore not released quickly and easily. Working with these patterns skillfully requires timing, patience and compassion for self and others, for confronting limiting beliefs too forcefully can actually empower them or send them deeper into hiding. Skillful action therefore encompasses acceptance and respect for our own history, recognizing that every step, no matter how painful, has been part of our journey of awakening. Skill in action is also integrating positive qualities such as love, compassion and generosity into daily living, so that whenever negativity arises, we do the exact opposite of our initial tendency which might be reactivity, defensiveness or hostility. This skillful action in daily living allows us to see with absolute clarity that fulfillment and meaning will never be found at the level of the personality but only through union with our true Being.

Skill in action naturally leads to equanimity, which is highlighted in the next definition of Yoga, from the Bhagavad Gita 2.48.

 

Samatvam yoga ucyate – Yoga is equanimity

Through union with our own body, breath and mind, and our ability to act skillfully, there is a natural increase in psycho-emotional stability along with a reduction in confusion, stress and anxiety which allows us to live with greater equanimity. The essence of equanimity is the ability to encounter challenges, issues and problems as opportunities for transformation and awakening rather than as emergencies that need to be resolved by changing people or things in our surroundings. This change in attitude is key to union with our true Being, for as long as we see life’s meaning in success and achievement, we will be forever trying to fix and improve our surroundings, searching and struggling while never seeing that we are the problem and also the solution we seek. This 180º change in attitude allows us to see every interaction and activity as an opportunity for greater recognition of our true Being by not reacting, and instead stepping back to see the tendencies and conditioning that cause the same “problems” in different disguises to occur repeatedly. Equanimity begins as a practice requiring constant remembering, but, as the conditioning that causes suffering is gradually released, we experience equanimity continually as a natural reflection of union with our true Being.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 2.3, broadens our understanding by focusing on Yoga as a means for uniting with the stillness which is the essence of our true Being.

 

Yogaś citta vṛtti nirodhaḥ – Yoga is the stilling of the activity of the mind

Union with our body, breath and mind together with growing skill in action and enhanced equanimity naturally lead to a stilling of the mind. Yoga practice cultivates stillness by reducing the confusion, distraction and conditioning that keeps us from seeing the essential silence and peace of our true Being that is always present and waiting. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali present a multifaceted methodology for bringing the mind into stillness by releasing limiting conditioning at all levels of being. The Yamas, the ethical precepts, reduce inner and outer conflict. The Niyamas, spiritual observances, provide a road map for the journey awakening. Asana, the Yoga postures, remove stress and tension from the body while optimizing its functioning. Pranayama cultivates calm and tranquility while awakening us to our body of subtle energy. Pratyahara draws the senses inward, reducing distractions from our surroundings. Dharana, concentration, cultivates psycho-emotional stability and Dhyana, meditation, allows us to experience the wholeness, integration and peace which are reflections of our true Being.

Each of the limbs of Yoga, when practiced diligently and sincerely, prepares us for complete stillness of the mind which is experienced in samādhi, the essence of Yoga practice from the perspective of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

 

Yogaḥ samādhiḥ – Yoga is samadhi

Samādhi is deep meditative absorption in which we focus exclusively on the object of our meditation and also merge with that object completely, so that the meditator and object of meditation unite as a single entity. There are various levels of samādhi, and as we deepen our practice, our object of meditation becomes increasingly more subtle until it is transcended completely and we experience only pure conscious Being, beyond the realm of thought, concept, theory or belief. In this deepest level of absorption, all movements of the mind, whether positive or negative, naturally come into stillness, which is not void in any sense but is infused with truth, meaning, wholeness and peace that absorbs us so completely that it becomes our sole reality. At this level of samādhi all of our definitions of Yoga merge to form a Mandala of union with our own true Being which is simultaneously the Universal truth at the heart of all things. This experience gradually infuses every activity and every moment of living with the essence of truth that is our life’s purpose and destiny.