I was introduced to Bikram Yoga practice about 9 years ago and I had been practicing since. I had treated my Bikram Yoga practice more as a stretching exercise and now I have learned a lot about the medical benefits of it.
Since I started reading more about it I discovered that a lot of the gurus of Yoga came to the West in the early 1920’s teaching the mind-body connection of yoga. Since I am Chinese I cannot help but be influenced by the Tao teaching, as well as Buddhist teaching, as that was very much a part of my heritage. I also came from a family that was influenced by British missionaries, and our family had been Christian for four generations. To put it mildly, I am spiritually diverse!
The seeking of information about Yoga philosophy was my curiosity. In my inherent quest for knowledge I decided to find out how different the Yogi’s thinking is in relationship to the diverse information that I had picked up throughout my life from the many gurus and many authors I had practiced with or studied.
Yoga means “union”. The practices that connect our body with our mind (and visa versa) are yoga. According to the yoga tradition, breath is the link between body and mind. The quality of our mental and physical functions is heavily influenced by the quality of our breathing. It is through prananyyama (the breathing practices) that asana and meditation lead us to the goal of yoga: the experience of fulfillment and freedom.
Mastering the Mind
A great master Patanjali said, “A confused mind is not fit to follow any path.” He tells us that the practice of yoga entails attaining mastery over the mind. The mind is often run by uncontrolled and aimless thoughts, feelings, and desires. It is influenced by preconceived notions, prejudices, and preoccupations, and is driven by the demands of our ego and the cravings of the senses. As a result, the mind continually drifts from one state to another—from disturbance to distraction and becoming depleted in the process. We become more dependent on outside forces to heal and nourish us. According to Patanjali, therefore, inner healing and positive change—both within and without—are dependent on having mastery over our mind.
The mind has the ability to achieve anything it wishes. Its power is limitless, yet it has fallen victim to its own ignorance regarding its powers and privileges. It is full of fear and doubt. Anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, attachment, and desire have made it restless. It is caught between wanting and not wanting. It has split itself in two and is warring from both sides. It is confused. Such a mind is its own worst enemy. Freeing the mind from this enemy is the first and foremost step in the practice of yoga.
The body is the gateway to experiencing the fulfillment inherent in worldly objects in our senses. It is also a gateway to attaining freedom from all cravings. The body and mind work together. They nurture each other and support each other’s functions. Unity of body and mind and their collaborative efforts are to achieve a common goal: fulfillment and freedom. Restoring this fundamental unity is the essence of yoga practice.
Unveiling the Mystery of Life
Yoga is about connecting, healing, and becoming aware of the higher reality within all of us. It reinforces the body’s connection with the mind. It reestablishes and strengthens the relationship between the physical and emotional parts of ourselves., and it creates an internal environment in which the body and mind begin to love, care for, and support each other. This body-mind integration enables us to discover and awaken our dormant potentials.
When we become aware of the deeper dimensions of reality we realize life is truly a mystery. Unveiling this mystery is the reason we are born. The layers of this mystery are numerous and our fulfillment depends on how many layers of this mystery we unveil. Yoga’s higher practices are the means of unveiling these deeper layers.
Yoga is a spiritual path
It begins with a formal initiation and it requires strict discipline and training.
- The first level is mantra initiation, Asana practice, breath awareness and meditation on a mantra.
- The second level of initiation consists of meditation on the inner light—our own core being. This inner light is known as the Divine Mother. Depending on the student‘s physical capacity, emotional maturity, and intellectual comprehension, he or she will begin with meditation either at the navel center or at the center between the eyebrows (commonly referred to as “the third eye”)
- The third level of initiation is the transmission of spiritual energy. This initiation helps the dormant energy within us,to awaken, and causes it to rise to the surface. This level of initiation is a spontaneous inner awaking propelled by divine grace—where human effort plays an insignificant role.
These three levels of initiation and the practices that accompany them lead us to the highest level of realization, which culminates in the experience of real truth. From this experience the values that guide and govern our thoughts, speech and action evolve: loving all and hating none, embracing all and excluding none. This is the ground for inner healing and lasting change.
I wish you all continue practicing Yoga and may you discover the spiritual path thorough you practice. Hope you all live life with passion !