Much of the hatha yoga styles as they exist in the West are beautiful hybridizations of the traditional yoga of India, the desires of pro-active individuals in Western society necessitating the focus of the practice to be directed more towards the body.
From the perspective of the Siddhar Sages who embrace yoga in its entirety (both the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga), the yogic journey is about being liberated as Spirit, and then understanding that the body must be properly respected and cared for as it is a shrine to the divinity of the Self. With liberation from the mind and body to Spirit comes the understanding of the body as a shrine and the mind as a tool of consciousness, and thus the inner journey of yogic philosophy and wisdom unfolds each day with our own enriching experiences.
[By yoga we refer to ‘hatha’ yoga as practiced in the West – the physical postures and the inner journey through this form of yoga as in sequences of postures. The Siddhar wisdom is potent when applied to the hatha yoga practice as the body is an effective tool to work the mind towards the inner core of realization. Tapasyogi Nandhi offers the yogic insights from the mystical Kalangi Kundalini Yoga as practiced by the Siddhar Sages of South India]
1. Yoga and the Five Elements:
One of the core principles of hatha yoga is the realization of the vastness of our Spirit awake and the status of the human as shrine to that Spirit. The yogi understands the human body as an individual site that contains all of the universe and Mother Earth. This “Allness” is contained in the five elements- earth; water/fluidity; fire; air and void space. When the yogi understands the energy of the Source to be present in the five elements and begins to attain mastery over each element- the path towards union of human and Source has begun.
So in our daily yoga practice, understanding our inner journey through the elements with awareness paves way to the mastery of wholeness. The elements are- the body as the element of earth; our thoughts as the element of water; our inner physiological functions (the energies that help with digestion, breath, activities etc. leading to the kundalini fire) as the elements of fire; breath and the breathless realm the element of air; and the final destination- infinite void space of ever expanding consciousness.
2. Do Yoga Nude (only when/if circumstances permit!)
Why? While the word ‘nude’ does trigger extreme reactions in the minds of most people, for a yogi, wearing minimal clothing allows one to wear the entire infinite sky as clothes. Digambara, meaning the sky-clad one, is another name for Lord Siva. Practicing yoga in the nude enables us to more easily integrate the five elements into the body and our being.
The yogic path demonstrates that through grace and learning comes the ability to break free of the limits that the mind imposes on the body and climb above extreme states; freezing cold or scalding heat, the desire for food and sleep. The concept of ‘tumo’, the inner fire that produces warmth for the body, is vital as an important aspect of our yogic journey. By doing yoga nude we integrate the element of infinite space; air through breath and our breath beyond breath wisdom; the inner fires and our body shrine representing Mother Earth.
Ways to incorporate this into your practice include:
– Open your window or door to keep the outside air flowing inside so as to better connect with the air element.
– Be conscious of the temperature (hot or cold) and work towards harnessing that awareness so that the inner fire is not affected by the weather outside.
– Allow awareness to go beyond the mind to connect with the infinite nature of the sky. Realizing that we are infinite beings through the practice is one aspect of the rich human experience.
3. The Power Within Each Posture/ Sthira
Within each posture is the trigger of vital energies kindled through breath. The Himalayan Master, (from Autobiography of a Yogi: for those who have not read this wonderful book, a life changing read awaits you!) Mahavatar Babaji’s teachings of the mystical kriya yoga establish “sthira” as a very vital part of the practice. Sthira is the attainment of calm, tranquil, harmony of the breathless breath in a posture. In each posture, dive into this tranquil space by utilizing the breath of sthira and expand the Self. Sthira is the attainment of bliss and joy through breath from the breathless being. A ‘yoga’ session without usage of “AUM” is no more than glorified gymnastics, as we are not including the greatness of our partnership with Source. In the breath of sthira is the realization of the eternal ‘AUM’ that makes us aware of our infinite being, one with Source.
4. Skip/Dance/Run down the Yogic Path
Yoga originated in the wilderness of caves and mountains, practiced by the Sages. Every day they walked, climbing up hillocks and hills. Most temples and shrines in India are located above on hillocks and hills to facilitate such pilgrimages. Their daily hatha yoga practice complimented their walking while their diet was minimal.
In our society we do consume far more calories than needed. We are exposed to huge blasts of stress in the modern world. We live without the need to walk on a daily basis. To make our yoga practice more effective, this environment needs to be transcended by including other physical exercise in our daily routines, such as skipping, dancing, running, cycling etc..any additional physical activity that gives rise to joyfulness!
5. Do Yoga Daily
Use a yoga studio as you would use a walking stick. Yoga studios should be thought of as places where we can expand our knowledge and learn sequences of asanas, but this should not take precedence over our daily yoga practice. A daily yoga practice is important for the daily continuation of the individual inner journey in its practice, learning, wisdom and experiences.
There is a deeper wisdom from the yogic perception of time. When we ensure that we have our own daily practice that does not rely on anyone else or any circumstance (like a yoga studio), we begin to step into realigning the 24 hours though the experience of stepping into the gift yoga has to offer- timelessness. Doing yoga is a powerful form of worship and a journey into timelessness. When we step into timelessness just once a day through yoga, we reflect life as though we are the sun.
Another key benefit of having our own daily yoga practice is in awakening ourselves to be the greatest master and the most deserving student. When we learn from a yoga teacher we are then able to incorporate all the gold nuggets of wisdom into our daily practice.
6. Yoga is Tantra
Tantra comes from the pre-vedic teachings of South India, the Dravidians. The worship of Lord Siva and Goddess Sakti and the yogic teachings within it was called “Tantiram”, the roots of tantra. Tantiram is to unite the Source with our human reality through the wisdom of joyfulness. Tantiram wisdom teaches that the roots, the muladhara, hold all the power in our journey towards realization and the journey through consciousness after waking up. The root chakra holds the key to the inner journey.
When we follow the yogic path we begin to see that the many layers of our reality, like an onion, starting from the roots all the way to the crown. Tantiram, the core of tantra, is the experience of orgasmic bliss within each and all layers of reality that we can enhance through our daily yoga. When we awaken to the wholeness of yoga, we transform our primal energies of sex, sensuality and survival instinct into evolved angelic potent thoughts of manifestation. Our daily yoga practice can be a tool to aid us in transforming and evolving through embracing wholeness, the tantiram.
Most hatha yoga teachings involve having to invoke the root chakra to awaken and work with Mother Kundalini. When we journey inward, we know Mother Kundalini as another state of consciousness and through this awareness, we ride through the inner fire awakening each chakra that holds the secrets of each layered reality as in its manifestations through harmony, abundance and Divine grace.
This wholeness is the union with Source that holds the nature of bliss and the understanding of the “I Am” experience as in the bold statement, “I Am God”. Lord Siva as experience is “Satchidananda”- the experience of the now as in being the bliss form.
About Nandhi: After years spent in the caves and wilderness as a saddhu under the guidance of enlightened gurus, Nandhi awoke to his childhood dream, a vision that he unfolds as the Ariven Community- global sanctuaries for retired animals- www.ariven.org. Supporting the Vision is: www.sensitiveplanet.com , the enlightening marketplace offers products that are recommended by the yogis of India. Nandhi imparts his wisdom and the inner teachings through yoga, through music and by initiation. His yoga website www.nandhi.com