Dream Yoga

Dream yoga comes out of Tibetan Buddhism, in which it is thought that we are most asleep in our ordinary life, and most awake during the night, or when sleeping. When we don’t exercise it, the mind can keep us asleep and in a state of suffering; keeping us oblivious to the connection, and peace that is found in awakening to the present moment. Yoga means to unite or yoke, and that is where we stop masking over things with labels, labels like good, bad, like and dislike. With dream yoga you can learn how to wake up in your ordinary life to how illusory the world we live in really is.

Stretching your mind is how it becomes more flexible. It can help you to transform emotions and thoughts that stifle you, freeing you to experience your true potential. With dream yoga you will be learning how to become lucid while you dream. This lucidity is experienced when you are having a dream and you become aware that you are dreaming, then you start to control the dream. One dream yoga exercise is to transform an object in your dream. It could be anything like a tree or a flower, now you transform it, it could change colour or size. This is how the mind strengthens and stretches, finding out that it is capable of transforming what you perceive as real. Without the lucidity in your dream you did not see that the tree was an illusion, when you transformed it you now became aware of how powerful your mind is.

This can later be experienced in your waking life when you are confronted by an experience that arouses a negative feeling. Now you might remember that you have a powerful and flexible mind, and this can help you to transform the negative feeling into something less negative and possibly even something positive. Having lucidity in your waking life, allows you to see that your reactions to objects, events, and people are something that you can transform.

Advertisements

Practicing Laughter

Dr. Madan Kateira, also known as the creator of laughter yoga, recommends laughing 15 minutes a day. Laughter is a potent medicine, and he knew that it must be spread quickly and to many people. That is why he chose to offer it for free. His vision was laughter clubs. People would get together in groups and spend time laughing together. He created exercises which would help people to laugh. Jokes used in laughter yoga are simple and innocent. Like one joke is to take out your imaginary empty wallet, and laugh.

In 2005 researchers at the University of Maryland found a link between healthy functioning blood vessels and laughter. Laughing releases endorphin like compounds which activate receptors to release nitric oxide; this dilates the blood vessels. Also, laughter reduces stress hormones, boosting the number of antibody producing cells, leading to a stronger immune system.

Laughing feels good. Laughter could potentially treat many diseases, when combined with other treatments. Spiritually you might start your journey into yoga with laughter yoga and then find yourself interested in meditation, chanting, and pranayama.

Namaste

Namaste is a greeting, derived from Sanskrit and it means “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.”

Anjali mudra is also sometimes called namaste mudra. A mudra is a seal; some mudras are done with the entire body, and many are done with only our hands.

How to do namaste mudra: bring your hands together, fingers pointing upwards and thumbs close to the sternum.

Anjali mudra is known to benefit you in the following ways:

  • promoting flexibility in the hands, wrists, fingers and arms
  • alleviating mental stress and anxiety
  • assisting the practitioner in achieving focus and coming into a meditative state

You may notice that your teacher will say namaste, hold their hands in anjali mudra, and bow to end a yoga class. Namaste is a salutation used when you may have come into a space where you are more balanced. As the class has ended, you may have discovered the peacefulness that is your True Self. The teacher honours that by closing with a word of respect from their True Self to yours.

Mountain Energy Yoga

During my yoga teacher training, I taught one class to the group I trained with. I was very nervous about teaching the class. After teaching this class, one of my teachers mentioned that I had mountain energy. That is how I decided that I would take that name for my business. I take a lot of time with things; is that like a mountain? You don’t see mountains moving around a lot; they move very slowly. That’s how I have interpreted mountain energy. Mountains are made of rock, and that means they are strong.

I know that people are easily injured. Asana practice is a great example of where we fall into the ego trap. We want to get into a physical posture because it looks amazing. I love this aspect of asana practice myself. But it is an attachment to something outside of ourselves — an image that we want to emulate. The goal of asana practice is to help us to find more stillness to better practice meditation. And becoming injured through asana practice will not help us with that goal.

I started Mountain Energy Yoga as a means to create momentum and to keep me working towards one day teaching. Slowly, like a mountain, I continue to learn about asana practice to find more confidence in teaching the physical side of yoga. Through writing this blog I am learning more about Yoga philosophy. Thanks for reading!

Proofread by Leona B. Hunt, BA, proofreader

http://www.leonahuntproofreading.com

Aparigraha

Aparigraha is one of the yamas which Patanjali writes about in the Yoga-sutras. Aparigraha is a Sanskrit word which means nongreediness or nongrasping. It is releasing control and freeing the self of anxieties. An example of grasping is holding on in the body. You might notice clenching in your hands or in your feet or in your jaw, so to let go and release this clenching is aparigraha. Holding a grudge is also a type of grasping, whereas forgiveness is a way to practice aparigraha. Trying to control others is another way that we are grasping, so when we stop trying to control others, we are practicing aparigraha.

“Greed is good,” said Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street.

Greed is seen as something that benefits civilizations because without greed there is no ambition. It is said that if we did not have greed, we would not have technology, computers, and robots.

Is greed good? Greed is selfishness. Being selfish is being separate. It is not being part of the whole. It is a lonely way to live. It can be a result of an anxiety that in the future we will not have enough. This anxiety leads to hoarding and storing things for that imagined time in the future when we do not have what we need. The anxiety that we have about the future is where we lose something very special: this moment.

Also, greed is bad for our environment. We want more stuff; we need more stuff. To get this stuff, we extract resources, and we use excessive amounts of energy. This causes pollution. Our obsession with stuff means that there may not be anything left for future generations. It may not be so good for civilization after all.

“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish has been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.” Cree Prophecy

A tree demonstrates aparigraha every fall as it lets go of its leaves

Aparigraha is all the ways that we can practice letting go. Here are some ways that you can start to practice aparigraha in your life. Start having more awareness about the ways that you are holding on to things and habits. Some grasping examples are having a need to control someone else, having a compulsion to overindulge with material objects and food, or having tension in your body that may be habitual, but by being mindful, you are able to release. By practicing aparigraha, one of the yamas, suffering can be reduced, allowing the experience of more bliss and connection in its place.

Proofread by Leona B. Hunt, BA, proofreader

www.leonahuntproofreading.com

Ishvara Pranidhana

This is the last of the niyamas listed by Patanjali in the Yoga-sutras. Ishvara is translated as Supreme Being, God, the Creator, Ultimate Reality, or True Self. Pranidhana means to fixate, surrender, or dedicate. Practicing Ishvara Pranidhana is similar to karma-yoga. As with karma-yoga, we detach from our egoistic tendencies and sensory desires when performing our duties, and we focus on our task. Doing this, our task becomes more meditative, which brings us closer to our True Self.

It is a noble act to detach from our ego and selfish desires because then we are not only interested in doing things that we know we are good at. Tasks are not chosen based on confidence; the concern is not with winning a prize. It’s less likely that you will take on projects that only benefit yourself. Instead, you may choose projects that benefit the whole.

Brahma Indian, Pahari, about 1700 Public Domain

Have you ever found yourself criticizing others for their efforts? It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize, to be cynical, to be the person who explains that someone is wasting their time and what they are trying to do will never work. But how can you know that? Maybe it will work. Maybe it would work if you got up and joined them in their efforts and your attitude changed from “That will not work” to “It’s not about the end results. It’s about the efforts, and efforts are not wasted; they are a pathway.”

People often say, “Why would I do that if no one will offer me a reward?” A reason to do things that are not rewarding is that rewards do not really make you feel so great anyway. All rewards have an ending. When you have reached the ending, you are now at that low point again.

As explained in the Deeper Dimensions of Yoga by Georg Feuerstein, PhD, liberation is an even-temperedness. Our minds maintain an attachment to momentary pleasure. When we accomplish the most challenging physical posture of yoga or when we feel the benefits of our breathing practices, our experience is then compared to other experiences or to other people, leading us to a feeling of envy. The pleasure we experience is also shadowed by the fear and reality that our happiness will come to an end.

Ishvara Pranidhana is when we surrender to the Ultimate Reality, or our True Self. It is liberating. It’s seeing a bigger picture, that everything is connected. Living becomes more alive because we do not get stuck within thoughts about our likes or dislikes. Instead, we find ourselves more connected to the people in our lives and being present in the moment.

Proofread by Leona B. Hunt, BA, proofreader

www.leonahuntproofreading.com

The Gunas

Prakriti presents itself in objects and living beings. Within prakriti there are three different qualities, known as the gunas, which are seen in many combinations. The three qualities are sattva, rajas, and tamas.

Characteristics of sattva: goodness, truth, clarity, harmony, purity, balance, joy, intelligence
Characteristics of tamas: darkness, steadiness, heaviness, rest, laziness, ignorance, inertia, procrastination
Characteristics of rajas: passion, action, confusion, aggression, assertion, change, movement, cravings

Sattva helps with determining which guna we need to cultivate in order to improve well-being in the moment. At bedtime we wish to experience more tamas; darkness and rest are essential qualities needed for sleep and recovering the body, which will allow for more sattva during the day. When we are feeling overly tamas during the day, rajas with regards to habits can help us to experience more sattva.

In nature we observe an interplay of the three gunas as well; soil is dark and heavy(tamas), a seed is active and grows(rajas), plants purify the air and flowers bring joy(sattva).

Being overly attached to any guna can be misguided. For example, in modern agriculture, farms use herbicides to eliminate weeds; this results in monocrops, purity, in a way, because the field grows only one crop. This is an example of too much tamas with a bit of sattva. We have ignorantly assumed that using a poisonous chemical on a farm can create purity.

Another example is the overattachment to sattva in modern medicine; the overuse of antibacterial soaps and antibiotics to purify creates an environment free of bacteria. We have ignorantly assumed that our bodies should be scrubbed free of all bacteria. By doing this we lose the benefits of friendly bacteria in promoting a healthy immune system.

Another word used in translations of the word guna is strand. The gunas are like three strands that are woven together into the fabric of our world. They give objects and people texture, colour, and substance; and they give living beings emotions and thoughts. As yogis, we are seeking to incorporate more of the Sattva strands into our lives. We cannot do this without weaving in some tamas and rajas strands as well. Sattva helps us to experience, our True Self, and Bliss, thereby reducing suffering.

Proofread by Leona B. Hunt, BA, proofreader

www.leonahuntproofreading.com