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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yoga asana practice?

When we perform the yoga asana practice:-
  • Take full responsibility for our own well-being. No one can force us to be doing something that we don't want to do. No one can stop us from doing something that we want to do. We don't have to agree nor disagree with anyone or anything. No one but our own self knows what is going on in our body and in our mind. It is our own responsibility to entrust "somebody", or "teachers", or "philosophy", or "teachings", or "practice", and bring ourselves to be performing some "practice".
  • Let go of the past experiences. Be open-minded for what our body can do and cannot do in the present moment now. Let go of the future anticipation, speculation or expectation. Be open-minded for whatever possibilities that may or may not occur during and after the yoga asana practice, no matter it is something that we desire or don't desire. Be in the present moment now. Be aware of the reality in the present moment now, and allow the reality to be what it is.
  • Let go of the ego. Let go of try to control or interfere with the reality that our ego doesn't like and doesn't agree with, to change it to be the way that the ego likes it to be. As what our ego likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, is not necessary the truth of what things really are, or how things should be.
  • Let go of craving and aversion. Do not generate craving or clinging onto the pleasant sensations that arise from certain positions or movements. Do not generate aversion towards unpleasant sensations that arise from certain positions or movements.
  • Let go of attachment and identification with the physical body and the mind. The body is not me, I am not the body. The mind is not me, I am not the mind.
  • Let go of judgment towards the yoga asana practice or the exercises, as the yoga asana exercises or poses are just being what they are, they are neither easy nor difficult, neither beginner nor advance, neither safe nor unsafe. They have no intention nor quality to be something easy or difficult, beginner or advance, safe or unsafe. It is how our body and our mind approach and react towards all these exercises or poses. If an exercise is being labeled as "difficult", or "advance", or "unsafe", it is not the truth. If it is the truth, then everyone who is doing this same exercise will be encountering difficulty and injury, as well as only "advance" yoga practitioner will be able to do it. But it's not. Some people may find this exercise is not difficult at all and they are not suffering any injuries from doing it, as well as a complete "beginner" yoga practitioner can be performing this exercise comfortably or effortlessly.
  • Let go of judgment towards the physical performance or the ability of the physical body to perform the exercises. As selflessness, unconditional peace and compassion has nothing to do with how fit, or strong and flexible is the physical body to be performing the yoga asana exercises "nicely" and "perfectly", or not.
  • Let go of comparison with other people or with oneself. We cannot expect ourselves to be having exactly the same physical condition and ability, and the state of the mind as somebody else whom we admire or look up to. As yoga teacher, we don't say to the yoga students, "If I can do this, you can do this as well." as everyone has different physical limitation that cannot be denied or ignored. And yoga, peace and compassion is not being attained by imitating the teacher physically or mentally. It's coming from self-realization of the truth when the egoism and ignorance is eradicated. We can't compare ourselves in the present moment now with ourselves in the past experiences, as every moment the conditions and abilities of the physical body and the states of the mind are constantly changing. They are different from moment to moment. What our body can do and cannot do is constantly changing. How we feel and the reactions from the body and the mind towards the exercises while performing the same exercises in different practice also will change. It is not about what our body could do or couldn't do in the past, nor it is about what our body can do or cannot do in the future. It is about what our body can do or cannot do in the present moment now, according to the condition and abilities of the physical body in the present moment now. We learn about impermanence and allow all the impermanent changes to be what they are from moment to moment.
  • Let go of expectation towards the physical performance and the expectation towards the result, or the benefits, or the effects of the yoga asana practice or the exercises. Allow the result, or the benefits, or the effects of the yoga asana practice or the exercises to be what it is. The objective of performing the yoga asana poses is not determined by how strong and flexible is our physical body. We don't have to be super strong and super flexible to balance the mind, to calm down the mind, and to purify the mind. Even though we don't know what are the names of the yoga poses, or we don't know about the history and scientific facts about the yoga asana practice, or we don't know what is the anatomy and physiology of the physical body, or we don't know what are the benefits of the exercises, or we don't expect any of the benefits, the benefits or the fruit will still be there as they are, as we practice. They won't increase nor decrease, or change into something else, or disappear.
  • Let go of anticipation or speculation about possibility of injuries. Be free from fear and worry. Fear and worry won't stop injury from happening, but it will increase the risk of injury. We perform the exercises with care and attention, but without fear and worry.
  • Learn to relax while performing the exercises, while coming into yoga poses and while holding the yoga poses. Let go of timing ourselves about how long we need to perform the yoga asana practice, or how many yoga asana poses we need to perform, or how long we need to hold the yoga poses. Allow the yoga asana practice to be natural being performed according to the condition and abilities of the physical body in the present moment now, not according to what we would like it to be.
  • Allow the breathing to be natural. The body will know when to inhale and when to exhale, if we allow the breathing to be natural.
  • Learn to be patient, be persevere, be determine to gradually develop the skill, stamina, strength and flexibility for coming into and holding the yoga asana poses. Forbear or withstand any discomforts or difficulties that may arise during and after the yoga asana practice. Be able to adjust, adapt and accommodate the yoga asana practice that the body and mind is not familiar with.
  • Do our best. Do what the body can do in the present moment now and not pushing the body to go beyond its limitation. Let go of pre-judgment about what the body can do or cannot do. Be open-minded towards what the body can do and cannot do in the present moment now, as the condition and abilities of the physical body is subject to impermanence.
  • Be ourselves. No need to imitate anyone else, nor try to be like someone else, not even our yoga teachers. What other people can do with their body is their capability. What talents and knowledge other people have, is their capability. We don't have to be able to do everything that other people can do with their body or their mind. How other people think, believe, behave, act and react is their freedom and responsibility. We don't have to think, believe, behave, act and react like how other people think, believe, behave, act and react, not even the yoga teachers whether they are perfect or not perfect.
  • Accept ourselves as we are. Let go of dissatisfaction towards ourselves nor expect ourselves to be somebody else that we are not. Perform actions that we think will bring improvement, and allow changes or improvement to be happening as it is. Accept all the changes in us or in other people as they are, not necessary the way that we like it to be.
  • Perform the yoga asana practice out of compassion, renounce the fruit of action or the result of the practice. Allow the result or the effect of the yoga asana practice to be there as it is, not expecting it to be the way that we like it to be, or the way that we think it should be.
  • The practice of relaxation is to relax the body and the mind, to release tension physically, mentally, emotionally. If somebody believes in the existence of the soul, then the soul also will be benefited from the practice of relaxation. As anything that is subject to existence, and has a name and a form, they will be affected or influenced by ignorance, egoism, and the qualities of names and forms, and thus it needs to be purified, or to be healed. If the body, the mind, or the soul has some "damages" or "pain" that need to be healed, then naturally they will be healed eventually, even without any awareness nor intention coming from the ego. As all the "damages" and "pain" are caused by ignorance and the ego itself, and nothing else. If we truly want to heal the body, the mind, and the soul effectively, all we need to do is stop hurting ourselves, or stop causing damages and pain onto the body, the mind, and the soul, by eradicate egoism and ignorance, be free from impurities like craving, aversion, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurts, pride, arrogance, animosity, fear and worry.
  • We don't need to have any intention to balance the both sides of the body, the body will be balanced by itself as we perform our practice. We don't need to have intention to be healing anything, everything will be healed by itself as we perform our practice. All these intentions whether good or bad, they are coming from the ego. If we let go of the ego, there is no intention. Allow everything to be what it is. We just do our best. Perform actions, give and let go.
  • Our true nature is beyond existence and qualities of names and forms, beyond name and form, beyond birth and death. It doesn't need to be purified nor be healed, nor be benefited from the practice of relaxation. It is untouched by good or bad Karma. It is not important whether the physical body can perform the yoga asana poses perfectly or not. Realize our true nature and be free.

Our true nature is not affected, nor disturbed, nor influenced, nor determined, nor contaminated by the condition and ability of the physical body and the states of the mind, and the actions and inactions derived from the egoism. Our true nature is not affected nor influenced by ignorance, egoism, and qualities of names and forms. It doesn't need to be benefited from the yoga asana practice. It's the body and the mind that experience suffering, that needs to be purified through the yoga asana practice, to prepare the mind for meditation to know the truth of suffering, and be liberated from suffering that derived from ignorance and egoism.

Yoga asana practice is meant to be releasing tension and not generating more tension into the system. It is meant to be weakening the egoism and not strengthening the egoism.

Relaxed, and not stressed out physically and mentally by trying to perform the exercises perfectly, or try to perform the exercises just like everyone else. We can be doing the same exercises but we might not look the same due to the different physical conditions and limitations that we have individually. Not everyone can do what other people can do with their body. It's okay, because we don't have to be able to do what other people can do, to be free from ignorance and egoism. Being able to do what other people can do with their body, doesn't guarantee us to be free from ignorance and egoism, nor will give us liberation, peace and compassion.

Yoga asana practice is a tool for the mind to attain liberation, be free from suffering that derived from ignorance and egoism. It is about elimination of the egoism and ignorance. It is not so much about being a fitness training or physical exercise to achieve physical and mental benefits, and the body and the mind will feel good after the practice, although there is nothing wrong with all these by products or side effects coming from the yoga asana practice.

It doesn't mean anything if our body can perform all the yoga asana poses perfectly, but our mind is still influenced and determined by ignorance and egoism, being attached to the qualities of names and forms possessed by the body and the mind to be who we are, being attached to the worldly image, egoistic desires, thinking and beliefs, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements in the mind, being restless and disturbed by impurities like craving, aversion, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurts, pride, arrogance, agitation, depression, fear and worry.

Om shanti.

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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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