Ecstatic Yoga Immersions
EY Ceremony, 4 Yogas' & Yogic Lifestyle Lesson
EY Asana II, 4 Yoga's & Yogic Lifestyle Lesson
“Yoga is a lifestyle and not just a mere kind of exercise to stay fit and healthy. It is a science which unfolds the endless potentials of our mind and soul.”- Anamika Mishra
This lesson contains the following:
8 Limbs review
Yogic Lifestyle Principles
Yoga Personal Practice
A yogic lifestyle aims to create unity on all levels, mind, body and spirit. Finding deeper calm and peace of mind daily, more alert presence daily, and deeper respect and connection to Atman/Brahman. Benefits of living a yogic lifestyle are becoming vibrantly healthy, compassionate to all species, a more conscious, present and peaceful extension of Source. Recognizing our Unity with all life and creating deeper realizations of our God Self and the Divine Source of our awareness.
We will use the Vedanta, Upanishads, Patanjali and yogic history for this lesson on yogic lifestyle. In India where yoga originated, yoga is not only an integral part of life, yoga is a way of life. Yoga doesn’t begin and end on the mat, it weaves into every aspect of life. Including pranayama breathwork, asana poses, meditation, yogic philosophy… studying ancient vedic sutras, practicing the 8 limbs… yamas and niyamas. Practicing healthy lifestyle and ayurvedic medicine, yet the bottom line is living a life that is inspired by the way ancient Indian yogis’ lived.
We live in a different world than ancient India 5,000 years ago, so the question is how does a modern yogic lifestyle look like? Although we don’t need to wear only untailored garments made of locally grown fibers spun into the fabric, there are still many lifestyle techniques we can adopt from ancient Indian Yogi’s if we truly want to live a yogic lifestyle as a modern yogi.
Living a yogic lifestyle can bring peace and harmony to the mind, vibrant health to the body, bring compassion to those around you, extend your life expectancy, bring thriving life to the community and the planet, and benefit the yogi mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The Four Paths to Yoga
Vedanta offers us four paths to yoga to help in remembering what we are, overcoming all suffering and recognizing in form we are all unique and learn uniquely. See what path you naturally feel pulled to the most, and what parts of each path you resonate with. It is recommended to learn all four paths to awakening to oneness, and honor yourself by practicing and applying the paths you feel most interested in.
-Bhakti Yoga, the path of love and devotion
-Karma Yoga, the path of selfless service
-Jnana Yoga, the path of truth and wisdom through study and self inquiry
-Raja Yoga, The royal path, control over the mind through meditation and techniques.
The yoga of love and devotion
Ultimately this path is a natural and deep sense of love and devotion to the Divine Source of our Understanding. It is not to be in love, but to become love itself, being in love with love itself. Sometimes that takes time and steps, especially for those new to yoga or any type of spiritual path. In the beginning yogi’s may feel a sense of love and devotion to a guru, a family member, past loved one, partner, friend even a pet. What is important is a strong emotional tie, opening the heart to a sense of deep love and devotion. Ultimately the fully bloomed Bhakti Yogi will feel a deep love and devotion to their Divine Source and all life.
Bhakti of devotional love begins and ends with love and devotion to the Infinite Self, which is the same as love for the Divine. If we cannot love the Self, that which the Divine Created in His likeness, we cannot wholly love the Divine.
Bhakti yoga has been said to be the easiest and most fun path to awakening the yogi to full self-realization. People of all mental and physical abilities can master Bhakti without extensive practices. It is an opening of the heart, a flowering of the heart through love and devotion.
No one can ever be too busy to practice Bhakti, even busy parents raising families, because Bhakti is the act of serving your family through being that conduit of great love and devotion for whatever child or family member is present. You cannot be in love with love itself and not exude and pass that love onto those closest to you. Practice bhakti in your home with your loved ones as an act of love and devotion to God and your Self.
The beautiful thing about Bhakti is that it immerses the heart with love, bliss, rapture and in that state of grace the ego disappears, no sense of grievances, jealousy, hatred or separation can exist when the heart is flooded with rapture and joy.
The Vedanta calls the thread that connects all of our hearts to the heart of the Divine “Prem.” This thread can never be destroyed; it is a permanent connection to our Divine Source. This thread is the essence of Bhakti, and once the dormant prem energy is awakened by grace you become intoxicated with Divine Love.
Inquiry to Bhakti Yoga
What is the deepest longing within my being, within my heart?
How can I honor and respect all life?
How can I purify all my thoughts, words and actions daily?
Help me to see the Divine within all beings and all things, always
How can I purify my heart, surrender to absolute love and devotion?
How can I surrender deeper to Divine Self and Source?
How can I serve the Divine best in this moment?
How can I celebrate the Divine through song and dance?
Ultimately when immersed with Bhakti you not only feel ultimate and boundless love and devotion to your own Eternal Self, your Divine Creator, but also, boundless love for the Divine Self within all people and all beings. You rest in the heart of the Universe, the heart of the Divine, attached to only one thing… your devotion and love to the God of your understanding, the infinite Divine Inner Sanctuary of your heart, completely liberated, unlimited and free.
Achieving Perfection in Action, Selfless Service (Seva)
All desires melt and merge into only one desire… to serve our families, humanity and ultimately our God.
This high level of self realization and awakening is living in a state of surrendered service to the Divine of your understanding. You perform actions without any attachment to outcome, without any ego, without any expectation of recognition, reward, payment, thanks or acknowledgment of any kind. You serve from your heart with no expectation, as selfless service, as a pure offering of love to the Divine.
All action is seen as all loving service to the Divine. We find our ultimate service to the Divine when we do “The right thing” when we follow our dharma or true purpose in this lifetime. By allowing life to arise without judgement or expectation. Not requiring anything in return for our service, dharma and true purpose.
Karma yoga purifies the heart and burns away all ego… hatred, jealousy, anger, judgement, selfishness and blame. Divine qualities emerge within you naturally like compassion, love, kindness, humility, acceptance and tolerance.
Inquiry to Karma Yoga
How can I speak my truth in all things, thy own self be true?
How can I maintain friendliness, love and ease in all things?
How can I live passionately while unattached to outcomes?
How can I be an expression of tolerance and compassion with all interactions?
How can I be neutral in all things, in good times and bad, being criticized and complimented.
How can I be steady in equality, neither feeling above or below anyone.
How can I rejoice in other’s success, glad for other’s good fortune.
How can I maintain vibrant health, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
How can I be calm in all things, responsive rather than reactive, extending only peace in all interactions.
Howe can I have deep self love, faith in my self and trust my Divine Source loves and cares for me always.
How can I adapt to all situations and all types of people, extending pure love to all, judging no one.
How can I live fearlessly, serving the Divine ceaselessly with faith.
Gyana Yoga (Jnana Yoga)
The path to knowledge and wisdom through study and self inquiry.
We awaken from the heart in Bhakti Yoga and Selfless Service in Karma Yoga, in Gyana Yoga we awaken through reason. Gyana Yoga is devoted to truth… honestly discriminating between what is real and what is not. The process of reasoning to logically deduce what is real and what is not real is self inquiry and study. The Work is a powerful Gyana Yoga practice that invites a student to honestly inquire as to the reality of certain thoughts, especially those causing suffering.
Gyana Yoga Self Inquiry for the heart
Who am I?
What do I want?
What is my purpose?
What am I grateful for?
Study is an important part of Gyana Yoga as all yoga comes from the ancient Indian texts like Veda’s, Vedanta, Patanjali’s Sutras, Bhagava Gita, Upanishads Texts, etc.
It is a yogi’s job to study what interests them from the ancient Indian texts and create your modern perspective. Without changing the truth, just providing a more expanded view that allows more awakening within the Mind. All ancient texts have that power… they have an energy and by reading the information, you expand your consciousness a little bit more, and more, and more. Until you remain fully present and awakened at all times, in all circumstances.
It uses the mind to witness the mind’s insanity, thus waking up a part of the mind and that Mind that rests in Truth takes over completely. Then the Mind is One, Chitta is no longer tolerated… the Truth within has taken over and knows that all life is wholly innocent and One with God and Universe, all that is. Mind rests in silent stillness, bathing in the rapture of it’s own being. This can take the form of samadhi to Mindfulness to Meditation to Asana to Prayer to Dance to Rapture… yet all expressions are awakening to and becoming one with the Divine that Sources their very existence.
Gyana yoga has been called the yoga of the “razor’s edge” by the Upanishads, calling on the absolute vigilance of guarding the doorway to your mind. Acknowledging that in every instant fear or love are options, however consciously choosing to respond in love always is a practice that requires a strong spiritual commitment. A person committed to serve the God of their understanding, with a sharp intellect, logical yet creative, strong will power, ethical, powerful strength of character and determined (Not one to give up easily.)
Ramana Maharshi, a great Indian Saint & Gyana Yogi would respond to many student’s questions “First ask yourself who is asking the question.”
Gyana yoga is the study of ancient sacred texts of the student’s tradition, therefore if your tradition is Christianity you may want to study the bible, or for Buddhists the Tipitaka, the Quran for Islam. There are many spiritual traditions and many sacred texts, Gyana Yoga doesn’t require a student to only study yogic texts, it honors sacred texts, teachers and Great Masters of all spiritual paths. Most importantly is the study of the Divine Self the Atman that dwells within all people of all paths. Thy own self be True.
Inquiry to Gyana Yoga
-Contemplative, Self Inquiry
-Study spiritual texts of his/her traditions
-Mindful of the surrounding world
-Detachment, discernment, surrender
-Take time in silent meditation
The “Royal Path” control over the mind & using techniques for awakening.
Raja Yoga is the most popular path for Westerners because you don’t need any faith or particular belief. Raja Yoga encourages students to develop beliefs through direct experience rather than faith.
Raja Yoga recognizes that the Divine Self exists within all beings, however it can be obscured by the disturbances and divergences of the mind. Therefore, it’s goal is to calm and still the disturbances of the mind so that the pure reflection of the Divine Self can naturally emerge. When the body/mind is pure and still the Divine Self shines brilliantly forth without effort.
When we practice Raja Yoga we claim the territory of our mind, taking back our power. We invite and allow the higher Self to take over the mind, shine truth within the mind and the ego to surrender. It is a ongoing vigilance of choosing thoughts aligned with Truth over lower disturbing thoughts of fear, separation and illusion. Keeping the mind silent and still rather than distracted, disturbed and full of Chitta.
Raja Yoga uses techniques as well as honors Patanjali’s 8 Limbs to maintain stillness, control and balance of the mind.
- Uses meditation, pranayama, asana, mantra chanting techniques to quiet the mind.
- Uses non-judgement and equanimity in witnessing to develop a neutral mind.
- Harmonizes with the rhythms and laws of nature.
- Students take full responsibility for their state of mind and life circumstances.
- Takes control over mental and emotional distractions
- Keeps a balance in all area’s of life, work, play, diet, rest.
Patanjali’s Astanga or 8 Limbs of Yoga Review
Patanjali, the great Indian sage in his yoga sutras provided yogis with the Yamas and Niyamas as a powerful guide in living a yogic lifestyle. Although we have had a couple in-depth lessons on the 8 Limbs, we will review them in light of yogic lifestyle.
Yamas; Abstaining from harming others, harmlessness
Not wasting our energy
Abstaining from hording or being greedy
Niyamas; Principles to apply in our daily lives.
Cleanliness and purity of body and mind
Asana; Yoga poses, posture of seat
Pranayama; Intensifying, enlivening and mastering the life force energy
Pratyahara; Sense withdrawal, inner reflection
Dharana; Concentration, focused attention
Dhyana; Uninterrupted flow of meditation
Samadhi; Bliss, liberation, awakening
The four paths to yoga all support one another and lead the student to the ultimate goal of yoga, to become One Self united in the One Mind of Brahman. All four paths lead up to the same mountain peak, the same goal of full awakening to the One Divine and Holy Mind that you are, that includes all that is.
Discover aspects within each path that you like and practice those, or maybe you are drawn to just one or two paths… allow whatever practices you feel drawn to and weave them together to journey closer and closer to the ultimate goal of direct union with the Divine Source within you. Make it a joyful journey, bringing your deep self love and devotion to every step.
- Plant Based
- Humane, local sources
- Clean and Natural, both physically void of chemicals and emotionally void of toxins by being grown and prepared with love and positive attention.
A traditional yogic diet is from clean, plant based, all natural foods obtained from humane sources. Yogi’s were very conscious of growing and preparing all their food with love, gratitude and respect, usually prepared by the yogis own hands. Yogi’s loved making their own food, milking the cows, churning the ghee, cooking farm to table. A modern yogi may not be able to spend hours churning ghee, however, we can purchase ghee and all our food from ethical, clean, humane, high quality vendors and not waste food. Yogi’s wasted no food, food that was left over was used for compost, to feed animals, or used for some useful purpose.
Organic Rice, beans, vegetables, spices and milk products were common staples in a yogic diet.
Not only have yogi’s of ancient India been committed to eating plant based, clean and humanely grown sources of food, they also ate in moderation. Often, they would fill a bowl once for an entire meal. They had a rule that a bowl was about the size of their stomach and to fill their stomach with some clean and healthy rice and vegetables they were honoring their bodies as well as the planet and fellow human beings. (Remember greed and abstaining from hording is a Yama.)
Yogic Lifestyle Principles
Yogic lifestyle has utmost respect for all species and the entire planet.
Yogi’s don’t waste, from food to clothing and all products used, they put everything to it’s best use. They used their hands to eat most foods and would never think of using plastic utensils or straws. A yogi uses natural and re-usable items. It is a Yogi’s honor to respect the Earth as a sacred Mother and friend. Things were re-purposed, re-used, fixed, or sown rather than put in the trash. Yogi’s reduced their waste to a very minimal amount. Trash was minimal, just a small bundle was burnt weekly, so no waste was built up in the community.
A clean and healthy lifestyle invites optimal health, mind, body & spirit, enhances the functioning of all the organ systems. By deepening the spiritual aspects of our own Atman and deepening our connection to Spirit we are able to live more joyfully and fulfilled. We make more conscious choices, become better human beings who care not only about ourselves but also for others.
There are a number of things we can ensure while buying our clothes, first and foremost purchase preowned clothing, re-use. By purchasing used clothing are repurposing and reusing. We are fortunate to have many outlets available for pre-owned clothing, and by purchasing used clothing we are helping the planet. We are not wasting, re-using perfectly good clothing, not filling dumps that are already overflowing and re-purposing. If you do purchase new clothing buy your clothes from fair trade and clean manufacturers who source their raw materials ethically. What this means is they do not use materials from slave labor, swet shops and labor exploitation that is rampant in the world today.
Put comfort and what you think looks good above what is fashionable at the time. Choose clothing made of natural fibers, they are better for your skin, better for the environment and usually last longer and look better.
As you purchase new items in your wardrobe, and when your closet and bureau seems to be stuffed, take time to go through your clothing and if it is an item you have not worn in a couple years, donate it to your local used clothing store.
If you have items that have a rip or a hole, take the time to make those simple repairs. Yogi’s in India were always repairing items. All it takes is 15 minutes and some thread and needle to repair a hole in a sock. Rather than wasting time and money by throwing them in the trash, unnecessarily spending money for new socks, using gas and far more than 15 minutes to take a trip to the store. You can also re-purpose old socks as rags.
Try to use natural and reusable items as much as possible.
In reusing, purchasing only what you will consume, donating and giving away clothing, items, even food that you are no longer using makes the world a cleaner planet for everyone. Simple things like using re-fillable bottles, using re-usable grocery sacks, and sewing a hole in your shirt rather than filling the dumpster go a long way to help the planet and all the species that call Earth home.
Yogi’s from thousands of years ago have practiced harmlessness as a lifestyle, after all it is our very first Yama in the 8 Limbs. Not consciously or unnecessarily bringing harm to any species on the planet, from the tiniest bug to another human being. This includes verbal and physical harm.
Some yogi’s go as far as not sitting where they know there are microscopic bugs… however, that is not necessary for a modern yogi unless you feel guided to be that conscious of life.
The most important thing is to not send out toxic energy or unloving energy toward those closest to us, and all beings big and small. Many yogi’s use natural products so the chemicals don’t kill insects and microscopic life unnecessarily. Be mindful of where you dump things as to not kill life.
Also, being mindful in nature to not unconsciously pull up a rock or stick where a village of bugs had called their home. Stay on trails as much as possible so you don’t stomp on homes and villages small creatures may had spent weeks creating for their families.
Yoga is about oneness, that ultimately we are all one Mind, together in a Universal Mind called Brahman, taking many forms yet joined together as One at the very core of our existence. Like aspen trees that look like a grove of hundreds of separate trees, yet when examined deeper it is very evident that it is one plant, one organism with a core root or mother underground connecting every tree as one plant.
A yogi knows he is one with all that is, he identifies himself as one with everythingl, one with all nature and a deeper part of yourself. intimately connected to all of existence. Knowing this may make you more conscious of stepping on an ant just for the fun of it or dumping poison on your grass because it is convenient.
Personal Yoga Practice
Designing a Personal Yogic Practice
A yogi cannot truly say they live a yogic lifestyle without some sort of committed yoga practice. Yoga practices are as varied as are yogis, however they will include basic elements of yoga.
Creating a yoga practice for yourself is very personal and can change over time. Maybe in your early 20’s you are committed to an evening practice with the sun setting including some yoga, pranayama and meditation. However, in your 30’s with a few children running around, evenings are busy and not optimal for a yoga practice. Getting kids fed, bathed and to bed take a higher priority than sunset asana. So you adjust and create either an early morning practice before the kids wake up, a mid-day practice during naptime or an evening practice after everyone is asleep.
In creating your daily yoga practice you will want to first create the timing.
Yoga Practice, Timing
You should create the length of your practice, the time of day and the days during the week you will be committing to practice yoga.
First choose how long you wish your practice to be. Everyone is very different, some choose only shorter practice periods of 15-30 minutes, some several hours daily and everything in between. You need to look at your own life and choose how much time you desire to bask in yogic practices. A 1 hour to 90 minute practice is very common.
Next you need to choose a time of day. Be sure the time you choose is a good time for you that has the least time conflicts and distractions as possible. Early morning and evening are often good times for many people. Look at your life and see if you either need to make some changes in your life, maybe eliminate some things that are a lesser priority… like sitcom’s or social media. You are fully empowered to choose what you do with the time you are given every day. If you are committed to living a yogic lifestyle and becoming a yoga instructor you will prioritize at least 30 minutes in every 24 hour period for the practice of yoga. If you don’t have that much time, maybe you want to be a on and off yogi, but it may not be time for you to become a committed yoga leader.
Once you look over your daily schedule, rearrange, eliminate or adjust what you need so you have a prioritized time slot for your practice, it is time to choose which days out of the week you will practice. Optimally 7 days a week, that is what the ancient yogi’s did and many modern yogis do regularly. However, a lot has changed in 5,00o years and lives are busier and more complicated. Try to pick at the very least 3 or 4 out of the 7 days of the week. Once you have chosen the days and times for your yoga practice, stick with it for at least one month. They say a habit takes 30 days of practice to integrate into the brain and nervous system, and it will take that long to really see if the practice routine works for your life.
Yoga Practice, Content:
Service or Seva
Once you have the timing all set that works for your life and you are committed to that time, you are ready to design your practice. Ideally your practice will include some asana, pranayama and meditation. You may also want to include chanting, service, dance or ceremony.
It is YOUR practice, so you truly get to design it and choose what it will contain.
You can have each day be a bit different, or each day the exact same. You can have 5 minutes of several different practices plugged into an hour period. Every yogi has practices they love and practices they know are good for them and want to include, but they resist. You are the designer, so you get to choose how you plan your practices. You may start with only 5 minutes for those practices you resist and extend the time the following month… or you may decide to eliminate it all together.
Try to find a balance. You may be the type that is single focused and only wants to do one practice per day… and you choose to do 1 hour asana one day, one hour meditation the next day, one hour pranayama the next and an hour of chanting the next. Or you may be the kind of person that enjoys variety and you may create a practice with asana, pranayama, meditation, followed by chanting all in one hour.
One thought to remember as a yogi, is that for thousands of years yoga was mainly raja yoga, philosophy and meditation… hatha and asana poses were added more recently as an activity for students to help them quiet their minds so they could meditate more easily. With this said, if you have a time you want to do meditation, pranayama and asana, you may want to do asana first and follow it with pranayama and meditation.
Yoga Practice, Creating Sacred Space
We can take any space and create it as sacred space. Our sacred yoga practice space. One of the first things you can do when you find your space is to sage it and fill it with prayers, inviting love and light to fill the space. You can create a warm and inviting environment to practice in by choosing to fill your space with your favorite yoga music, some plants, the perfect lighting, a comfortable temperature and delicious scents like essential oils or incense that inspire you.
Your space may be outside, you can have fun creating a perfect outdoor space for yourself. Even if you only have a yoga mat sized space or a small meditation chair in a shared room in your home, you can make your space sacred in your own way.
Have fun in designing your sacred space and the contents of your yoga practice… own it and commit to it. That way you are telling yourself that it is a priority for you, you believe in how your body, mind, spirit benefit from this practice. You are a practicing yogi living a yogic lifestyle of your choice.
Begin to adjust your lifestyle little by little, making small changes… maybe purchasing used items, eating clean food and committing to a 10 minute meditation practice daily. As time goes by you can deepen your lifestyle changes, lengthen your meditations and maybe add 10 minutes of asana daily. Honor your life and prioritize your time. Taking steps will lead to more steps and before you know it you will be quite fulfilled. Most important it to practice with joy… the yogic path is about finding the innate joy within us all. Enjoy!