A-Z of Yoga
A is for Ahimsa
The principle of non-harming, underlying all yoga philosophy and practice; It is Kindness to self and all others.
When we practice yoga asana, the poses, can we be sure to happily choose modifications and use aids so we practice at the right level? Can we remember to bring ourself flowers whenever we look inside and watch the mind turning?
B is for Bhakti
Our ability to expand beyond ourself and open our heart to Other.
Can we follow the path of Bhakti Yoga embracing that which makes our heart soar and inspires connection? Is it possible to find small ways to spiritualize our everyday life which can appear so mundane? Can we bring some beauty to our yoga space, stepping into sacred time?
C is for Chitta
Our Consciousness as part of an infinite Sea of Consciousness that is only separated by the thinnest of veils, a veil that yoga ultimately seeks to part.
To cultivate the witness can we awaken to the moment? Find presence in every small act and sensation, giving depth to our journey? Celebrate the small things so life becomes more fully lived?
D is for Dharma
Is the intrinsic nature of a thing so that honey by nature is sweet and lemons are sour. It is that which causes the planets to follow their paths in the heavens, the cheetah to chase the antelope on the plains, right purpose.
Do we have the courage to express our own nature, the unique song that is ours alone to sing? Can we choose the path of yoga that speaks to our own heart and mind?
E is for Ekagrata
The one-pointed mind needed for the experience of direct knowing. Consciously collecting the straying mental waves to remain focused upon one ‘thing’.
As all effort recedes and stillness persists entering dhyana, the yogic meditative state. Then maybe one day, with grace, spontaneously a switch clicks, the channels open and suddenly there is only ‘It’.
F is for Faith
Or Shraddha without which practice is less likely to follow. Determine your Ishta or Greatest Hope towards which your practice can unfold and have faith that this will be so.
Our Ishta for our yoga practice could be to heal a bad back, to learn to relax, to find calmness of mind; Our Ishta could be to forge new relationships with our Gods, to uncover our sense of Being. Can you find your own inspiration and hold faith?
G is for Gunas
The way Yoga characterises the qualities of the mind. Tamas with great stability and little energy, Rajas with great energy but little stability and Sattva balanced in both.
Is your mind overly tamasic being hazy and lazy? Is your mind overly rajasic being agitated and driven? Or is your mind sattvic being perfectly balanced, energised but stable, clear and focused? Through yoga we seek to cultivate sattva guna - there can be no overly sattva!
H is for Hatha
The uniting of ‘Ha’ the Sun and ‘Tha’ the Moon, the unity of opposites; In our physical practices of asana, pranayama, mudra and bandha more physiological and psychological balance may be achieved, our prana increased, as we move towards more health.
So many benefits to be received, until one day, with grace, the rising energy can expand our consciousness as the great Serpent Bird takes flight.
I is for Indriya
The blessed senses leading us to our own heaven or hell. The pivotal point of pratyhara within the eight limbs of Classical Yoga where we learn to turn senses inwardly, with a sense of real focus and great relief!
Can we reign in the horses or will they lead us? Can we enjoy them and then, like a tortoise folding into its shell, withdraw them at will?
J is for Jnana
The knowing or gnosis, where our own new truth, less fragmented, more whole, can be found and wisdom can grow. The Yogi consciously creating spaciousness inside, from which each new revelation arises when we let go of the need to know.
Can we plant a seed, releasing it to the silence, the Great Unspoken?
K is for Karma
The Grand Law of Cause and Effect where every thought and action must bring about its result. It is for Karma Yoga where we can decide to practice the Art of Service so that the needs of others becomes our primary drive.
Is there a way you can devote a little of your time to a cause that helps others and if you re-define your own home and work life in this way, what changes?
L is for Lila
The Dance of Life where we can, if we choose, enjoy the joys and sorrows that visit us, tasting the Rasa, the juiceness or essence of Life. It is the recognition that both warp and weft are needed to create the fabric of life, that there must be ups and downs.
Can we stay open to both the ups and the downs so we gradually expand into the space that surrounds them both?
M is for Mantra
The placing of spirals of sound in the mind, holding it, transforming it. Each seed sound or bija of the Sanskrit alphabet a creative vibration of the universe; Sanskrit written in the script of Devanagari, the ‘Language of the Angels’.
Can we recognise the very sounds as forces creating their meaning, Shanti meaning Peace, creating Peace? Can we chant until our mantra chants itself?
N is for Nadis
Conduits carrying the intelligent life force of Prana as thousands of filaments of light, emanating from Chakras, the vortices along the spine; Prana divided into the five winds or Vayus, directing subtle vibrational streams to enliven the systems of the body and mind.
Is it possible to appreciate the beautiful yogic imagery of our subtle pranic body, to sensitively explore it from the inside?
O is for Om
The Pranava or Sacred Sound of the Universe singing itself into existence. The original, primal vibration that differentiates into all others. Each seemingly separate manifestation or form comprised of its own signature vibrations.
Can we chant Om whilst linked to the feeling of its significance, that which underlies and transcends all other states, that some might call God?
P is for Parinama
Transformation, where we acknowledge and accept the inevitable cycles of creation, preservation and destruction where everything must necessarily change; As we move through life and our practice, transformation occuring naturally, if we allow.
Can we sense that change is possible, that the potential was always inside and that through Yoga we can gently remove the obstacles, uncovering what was always present? Knowing that it is for us to manifest the unmanifest, to create.
Q is for Questions
The Perennial questions we all ask, “Who am I?” ‘What am I?” “What is it all for?” These are the questions Yoga seeks to address through direct experience or revelation, rather than ordinary avenues of thought.
If we wish we can always find inspiration and food for contemplation within the pages of the ancient Yogic texts.
R is for Relaxation
A cornerstone of yoga, at first often overlooked but soon highly favoured as we feel the easing out of all our everyday tensions. It is the willingness to stop still and replenish, calming the body, releasing all thought.
Can we recognise the true value of relaxation? Can we enter its fullness as Yoga Nidra, the yogic sleep, now able to plant our positive seeds deep into the unconscious.
S is for Sukha and Sthira
Easiness and steadiness, the position of equipose. A balance in both posture and attitude where we soon find that if we alter our posture our attitude necessarily changes and vice versa. It is harmony of the middle path of yoga, giving a feeling of balance which cannot so easily be overturned.
Can we find moderation in all things, including moderation itself?
T is for Tapas
Meaning heat, the fire needed for change and for transformation, just as the blacksmith tempers his sword and the sun ripens the fruit. Denoting the need for discipline, so easily forsaken, when all else beckons us or we set ourselves a task too great.
Can we devote a little time each day to our practice of yoga, knowing that soon the body and mind will more gladly step on to the yoga tapas mat?
U is for Ushas Mudra
A yogic hand seal where our subtle energies are channelled; Hands clasped in lap, left finger pressed against base of left thumb; stimulating svadisthana, our sacral chakra, aligning aspiration with new inspiration.
Can we acknowledge the Ushas, the Vedic powers of the dawn, the new awakening of creativity within?
V is for Vairagya
‘Without colour’, our perception no longer coloured by past voices, former circumstance or expectation. As our conditioning is left behind there is non-attachment and now, increasingly, we can see with new eyes.
At first it may seem that non-attachment would only give greyness but through yoga we find the reverse is true, where all becomes more vital, as is, and therein can be found delight.
W is for Warrior
A pose of strengthening, steadying and opening; Every pose a matrix of energy, each shape soothing and toning our nerves, unknotting our mind.
Can we practice to our edge in yoga asana, sensitively exploring our limits, knowing that if we push and we pull we close down, but if we ease and release into our edges they grow?
X is for not-knowing
Acknowledging our Ignorance, our Avidya, or else we are lost in the ever-changing mercurial mind. This is the innate ignorance of not-knowing what we really are, that in truth we are not only the mind, body and senses but, deeper than this, we are timeless, we are formless, we are Consciousness.
Yoga tells us that this knowing will eventually be experienced by All.
Y is for Yajna
The Sacrifice; Internal offerings of prayer and practice and our external offerings of service; It is the decision to make all action sacred; Casting our mind, body and senses into the fire of purification and transformation; The Ceremonial Fire of Havan.
Finding more meaning as we release our focus on our everyday small concerns, the Bigger Picture remaining.
Z is for Zen
It’s history linked far back with Yoga; Yoga as a science of the evolution of consciousness, giving us tools which can transcend cultural and religious difference
…accessible to all.