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May all find the teacher within to guide oneself towards unconditional love and peace

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Asana Practice - Part Three





A good asana practice is actually a mind re-programming process. It is like a brain-wash but in a good and beneficial way for us to be able to recognize our true self and be happy. There are many people still attached strongly to the ego, the mind set, the thinking habits and reaction habits that had been implanted into the body and mind for a very long time. Even though many people are in search for the Truth of what is real and unreal, we are still caught up in this deep programming ignorantly.

Like many people, we are attached strongly to our name and the body, the ego and the mind, the feelings, the appearance, the family, the relationship, the job, the intellect, the culture, the knowledge, the language, the likes and dislikes, success and failure, eating and drinking pattern, and daily life routine.

In an asana class, we are learning to detach from all these names and forms. But how do we achieve that? That’s the question in lots of people. Many people understand what we need to learn in yoga but find it very difficult to apply it in life.

First we must understand that when we say detached from all these name and form, that doesn’t mean that we deny them, or make them disappear, or runaway from them, or being irresponsible towards our life, family, relationship and job. We still carry all these name and form with us and carry out our duty and responsibilities towards ourselves and our lives, but we are not attaching to any of these emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When something so called “not nice” or “not happy” is happening to these name and form, we don’t get upset or suffer. When something so called “good” or “happy” is happening to these name and form, we appreciate them and are grateful. We accept the condition of impermanence and the karmic law. We can let go when it is the time to let go. We don’t hold on to these things tightly. We don’t possess these things, not even our own body and mind. We are just being temporary with all these things. We are here being with all these name and form to learn, to experience, to enjoy, to be wise, to be selfless and to be unconditioned – be free.

When we are in an asana class, we start to let go all these name and form bit by bit. It is a very slow and long process. This will help us to develop patience which is the medicine to get rid of anger, irritation and frustration. We stop the habits of judging, comparing, competing, criticizing, and expecting. We stop the habit of the mind that like to wonder to the past and the future by practice concentration at the present moment.

We stop identify with the body and mind and go beyond the body and mind while we perform all those physical demanding exercises and complicated poses that require deep concentration and effort.

We detach from praise by not being driven by compliment and applause when we perform some complicated poses and not looking forward for others appreciation and praise. We detach from criticism and censure by not giving up in trying to perform a pose and not being disturbed by others criticism when we can’t do the poses properly or we are not perfect in our practice.

We learn that all feelings and sensations are very momentary and thus we don’t need to give any attention or value to all the feelings and sensations while we encounter some pain and discomfort while performing the poses. We learn to observe all the sensations and not identifying with them and not react to them.

We learn to let go of fears that are related to the physical body when we realize that this physical body is just an instrument for us to be here to learn and to experience. Sometime we have soreness and bruises after the practice but it will be gone after some times. And thus we stop paying too much attention onto the comfortness and appearance of the physical body. We learn to withstand pain and discomfort without feeling frustration.

We stop comparing ourselves with ourselves and with other people. We stop judging ourselves and other people. We stop criticizing ourselves and other people. We learn to do this in the class while performing the poses and it will become a natural habit for us to do it in life as well - not judging, not comparing and not criticizing.

We learn that there is no success or failure in real. It is a condition of the mind that creates the term success and failure. We found out that what matters is not the destination but the journey.

We do all the poses with full effort and confidence but without thinking of the benefits that we are going to get from it. And this will allow us to do things in life with full confidence and full effort but without any expectation. This will reduce so much tensions and the result will be much better without stress.

We built up patience, perseverance, determination, acceptance and will power while we are learning the poses. This will naturally make self control and all other disciplines so much easier.

We learn to become humble but full of confidence through the process of learning asana. There is no need for us to feel proud at what our body capable of doing because if our nervous system or muscular system breakdown, we cannot do anything with this body. It is not in our command anymore. If the eyes and ears have problems we cannot see or hear. So what is so big issue about beautiful look and ugly look, sweet sound and irritating sound? If the senses of taste and smell stop functioning, what are good taste and bad taste, what are nice smell and disgusting smell? And so, we learn not to give too much attention to all these name and form. And thus we appreciate the good thing and stop complaining about the things that we don’t like. Our craving and aversion will become less. Life is becoming easy. Heart is becoming happy.

We learn to become positive and cheerful doesn’t matter how the surrounding is. We are not being disturbed by what other people do and don’t do and how others look at us and think of us. We are what we are. We are not to be mould into what other people want us to be.

We learn to become independent and have self discipline through the practice of asana.

We make it into a natural habit to be in the present moment as much as possible effortlessly through the process of keep bringing the focus on to what we are doing and where we are now in the class.

It is a purification process and reconstructing the mind set and habits.

May we all develop positive thinking, energy, cheerfulness, humility and a strong body through asana practice for us to walk the path towards wisdom and compassion.

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Know thyself. There is no existence of 'I'. Everything is impermanent. Be free, be peaceful, be happy.

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Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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