Yoga Therapy International News

The Grace of Sweet Surrender

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 07:53 -- admin

Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtra-s (YS) I-23 Īśvara (Source)-pranidhānādva (OR continuously and completely offer yourself to)

OR (-va) you can continuously (pra-) and completely (-ni-) offer (-dhānā) yourself to the Source (Īśvara) of all That Is

As the fruit ripens on the trees around me on Cortes Island, Canada, where I am completing my yearly two-month retreat, we too arrive at the fifth and final pathway to that state of Heart called Yoga – sweet surrender. Sometimes this ripening process takes its own sweet time. Like nature, it cannot be rushed. Surrender arrives when we are ready to drop to our feet and let go like a fruit finally drops to the roots (pranidhānā) of its Tree of Knowledge (Īśvara) with perfect timing. It is not in our control, but an act of Grace.

The Five Pathways to Yoga

  1. Abhyāsa– By practicing – (Yoga Sūtra-s) YS I, 12-16
  2. Vairāgya – By detaching - YS I, 12-16
  3. Bhavapratyayo – By birth (naturally born in a state of Yoga) – YS I, 19
  4. Śraddhā – By trusting our Heart - YS I, 20-22 OR
  5. Īśvara pranidhānā - By surrendering to Source of all Wisdom - YS I, 23 with 24-29

Grace and Effort: The Two Wheels of Transformation

While effort (prayatnam) is needed for pathways 1-4, only Grace (anugrahan) is necessary for this fifth pathway. Surrender (prapatti/saranagati/pranidhānā) to Source by whatever name or form we prefer, only arises with the admission that we can’t do it on our own anymore, that we need help from some power greater than ourselves, or that we choose Truth over illusion, deciding to wake up to what is Real. Any form of surrender works, be it with a personal deity or Truth, itself!

By Grace we Surrender and Finally Let Go

Sweet Surrender only happens when the fruit of our life experience is ripe to fall of its own accord - when its fruit is sweet enough to fall effortlessly to the ground of our Being. The process cannot be forced. We can’t let go (Vairāgya) until the lesson has been learnt. It is only through Grace, that unquantifiable aspect of Life, that we somehow let go and let be when the time is exactly right. It is only through Grace that one day, we wake up and are ready to accept our lives as they stand before us. It is only through Grace that we accept what IS and ISn’t with equanimity and radical acceptance of the way things really are despite all efforts to change their course.

In this Sūtra, the self-reliant jnani yogi (contemplative) of pathways 1-4 becomes a bhakti yogi (a mystic) through the Grace of sweet surrender. She offers her head to her Heart and finally lets go (Vairāgya) of what she thought she had wanted, now accepting what IS instead. The fruit finally falls off the vine to the ground of her Being. She falls into the rapture of a mystical awakening: singing, dancing, and crying out the many names of the Divine with whom she now unites.

Śiva Meets Patanjali

Maha Mityunjaya Mahāmantra Tryambakam yajāmahe
Sugandhim
puţi vardhanam Urvārukamiva bandhanān
Mrtyor muk
īya mā’mtāt

We meditate upon Śiva (the Transformer), the three-eyed one (tryambakam), the Lord (yajāmahe), fragrant (sugandhim) and nourishing (puţi) the growth (vardhanam) of all, so that as a ripened squash (urvārukamiva) is liberated (bandhanān) from bondage to its vine, Śiva may liberate us (mukīya) from death (mrtyor) for the sake of immortality (mā’mtāt).

This great Vedic health mantra has inspired my interpretation of this Yoga Sūtra because it says only when we have fully ripened from our life experience, will be become liberated from the death of suffering. The goal of chanting this mantra is to spiritually "ripen" so that we can be free from our bondage to all things that keep us from spiritual freedom.

My Personal Mantra
Standing firmly with gratitude, on the other side of some intense life lessons on letting go, my personal mantra/affirmation for 2014 has been, “May I accept both what is given and not given with perfect equanimity”. May I also accept what I can and cannot emotionally let go of in this moment, even when I intellectually understand that it is no longer serving me and have tried my best to move on. May Grace help me accept the spiritual ripening process just as it IS, as I patiently await the fruit of Wisdom to drop to my feet with perfect timing.

The Gift of Grace
Although I certainly have much more spiritual ripening to experience, this year, I have finally felt the breakthrough of the breakdown of some very old stuff deep within. Through some intense unhinging life experiences, I was forced to go very deep within and clear away some deep seated patterns that had been holding me back. More to come, as I transform step by step, but the Joy and Presence that have been gifted me this year are profound motivators to keep going deeper, clearing space for more and more Joy (Ānanda)!

Yoga Sūtra Questions
What do you desperately want to let go of but are simply not able to despite all efforts? Can you accept your present attachment as a necessary part of your life lesson, trusting that you will naturally let go of it when the time is right? If you are a theist, can you ask for help from Source, using any name or form of your choosing? If you are not a theist, can you ask your noble Heart to show you things as they are, accepting that Truth with Grace rather than resistance?

What’s Next
This exploration of Īśvara pranidhānā will continue over the next many months to come through further examining Yoga Sūtra-s I, 23-29. We will consider whether surrendering to the Source of all Wisdom is a choice for a Yogi or not, while discovering who Īśvara is as well as how to call upon that Wisdom through our continuous practice of Yoga.

Maggie Reagh, MA in Teaching, E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT) conducts private and public Yoga Therapy classes as well as her own 1000-hour Yoga Therapist Diploma program, recently accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). She regularly teaches Therapeutic Yoga programs at Capilano University where, in addition, she teaches and coordinates the English for Academic Purposes Department. She started her own yogic studies in the Krishnamacharya lineage in 1995 in Vancouver before going to Mysore, India in 2000 with BNS Iyengar. She went on to study with the Desikachars in Chennai, India and the Kraftsows on Maui. She studied for 5 years with Lindsay Whalen, an Iyengar-based Yoga Therapist in Vancouver. She continues her studies in Yoga Therapy, Philosophy, Chanting, and Ayurveda with DV and Radha Sridhar, Viji Vasu, and Dr. Ganesh in Chennai, India.

IAYT Accredited Certified Yoga Therapist Program!

Yoga Therapy International’s Certified Yoga Therapist Program is now Internationally Accredited!

You haven’t heard much from me since February because I have been working on a big project! Yoga Therapy International‘s Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT) Program is now accredited with the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)! It has been a rigorous process and was not easy to achieve, a living experience of tapas (Yoga Sutra-s II-1).

Maggie sings with Spirit Voice in Vancouver

This improvisational-based kirtan group co-creates music together once a month with audiences of 20-30 people at Open Door Yoga, 1651 Commercial Drive, (enter from Gravely). Vince Gowmon, Maggie Reagh, Marvin Entz, and Dave Fogel will guide you through call and response devotional singing of Sanskrit mantras and original English songs, which open the heart and free the mind. Expect to get ecstatic!!! Join Spirit Voice on Facebook for more information.

Fanning the Fires of Faith

Sat, 02/22/2014 - 21:54 -- admin

PatanjaliThe fourth route to Yoga through śraddhā (faith, trust, enthusiasm, interest, motivation), can be fanned though never taught. The more intense the śraddhā, the faster we arrive at our heart’s deepest desires, so fanning the fires of faith should be a priority for teachers, encouraging their students’ transformation.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtra-s (YS) I-21

Tīvra (very high)-samvegānam(speed) āsanna(be there – arrive)

The more śraddhā we have, the faster we will arrive at our goal of samadhi (enlightenment).

Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtra-s (YS) I-22

mdu (low) madhya (medium) adhimātra(high)-tvāt tatō (that)’pi(further) viśea(differentiates)

Śraddhā can be further differentiated by these three levels: low, medium, and high.

Faith is Taboo

The word “faith” immediate triggers ideas of being controlled and manipulated by a belief system that is not based in logic or science. In the West, we left the Dark Ages, the “Age of Faith”, in the 11th century with the early medieval universities, and later with the rebirth of art, culture, and humanism during the Renaissance. This culminated with the Age of Enlightenment/Reason, which questioned the authority of church over state and religion over science. Even though during the postmodern era, philosophers started to question our addiction to science and discursive logic, with its clearly defined subject-object relationships, most of us still revert to a modernist Enlightenment viewpoint that claims reason, logic, and science reign supreme over superstition, faith, and ignorance of the facts. If faith is equated with intellectual laziness and naïveté, why would we want to fan these fires of faith?

The Universe is Friendly

Contemporary metamodernist philosophers such as Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker in Notes on Metamodernism are trying to bridge the gap between reason and faith as well as absolutes and relativism with an informed naïveté. They offer a bridge between the modernist faith in science and the post-modernist mistrust of it. They present a way to believe that life has meaning and purpose without falling back into superstitious belief systems. Chaos is tempered by knowing that there is an intelligence that pervades the whole.

This cultural shift can be seen in rhetoric from politics to sporting events. Barack Obama’s 2008 speech to Democratic Assembly asserted “Yes, we can change.” The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics’ motto for Team Canada was “I believe”. Both point to an optimism that was made mechanistic by the modernists and naïve by the post-modernists. Metamodernism bridges that schism of world views, restoring our faith in a life that often feels uncertain.

Trusting that the Universe is friendly, that our Life has a certain logical flow, and that we are on Earth to learn, can all help us live happier lives that feel safe to embody. In order to move forward in our lives with any goal, we need a good dose of faith. We would not even wake up in the morning if we didn’t have faith that the Sun would come up and shine on us again. To some extent, we need to believe that most things will continue to flow as they did yesterday. We need to believe that things are semi-permanent to survive the constant flux of life events. Depressive realism is a labeled as a psychological abnormality for a reason. We have to have faith and hope to survive our lives, which are constantly challenging us with unforeseen changes.

The Mind is Not as Smart as the Heart

As my monk friend Matthew used to say to me in India, “The mind is just not sharp enough to penetrate reality.” According to the Yoga tradition, practicing being present is the only way to bypass our addiction to thinking that the mind will free us from our suffering. We need to find ways to create space for our Hearts to be heard away from the daily grind of obligations and tasks. With that practice, we will start trusting (śraddhā) the wisdom of our Hearts, our intuition, and our deepest sense of Self. This faith will bring us much more comfort than a harsh intellectualism that refuses to believe in the impossible or the unseen worlds of the mystic.

Believing in your Self and your Life

When we have learnt to trust our Hearts over our heads, we have developed a level of wisdom that cannot be taught but can certainly be encouraged by our teachers and friends. As that trust deepens, the innocence (from Latin “to not harm”) of our presence expands. We start to radiate an authenticity that others can feel. We feel less fear about outcomes and more certainty that Life will provide us with exactly what we need at any given moment. As my Yoga Sūtra-s teacher, DV Sridhar once said to me over 10 years ago, “Live as if everything in your life is perfect and see what happens!” Now that is Faith!

Yoga Sutra Questions What do you believe in? Is your level of faith high, medium or low? Is it enough to motivate you to transform your life into the one your Heart is asking for? If not, how can you fan its fires to inspire such change?

Maggie Reagh, MA in Teaching, E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT) conducts private and public Yoga Therapy classes as well as her own 1000-hour Yoga Therapist Diploma program, recently accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). She regularly teaches Therapeutic Yoga programs at Capilano University where, in addition, she teaches and coordinates the English for Academic Purposes Department. She started her own yogic studies in the Krishnamacharya lineage in 1995 in Vancouver before going to Mysore, India in 2000 with BNS Iyengar. She went on to study with the Desikachars in Chennai, India and the Kraftsows on Maui. She studied for 5 years with Lindsay Whalen, an Iyengar-based Yoga Therapist in Vancouver. She continues her studies in Yoga Therapy, Philosophy, Chanting, and Ayurveda with DV and Radha Sridhar, Viji Vasu, and Dr. Ganesh in Chennai, India.  www.yogatherapyinternational.com

Trusting The Heart

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 16:57 -- admin

PatanjaliAs we continue to explore the five routes to experiencing Yoga, we open up the fourth pathway to a focussed, stable mind (citta vṛtti nirodhaḥ - see YS I-2) through the door of Trust.

The Five Pathways to Yoga

  1. Abhyāsa– By practicing – (Yoga Sūtra-s) YS I, 12-16
  2. Vairāgya – By detaching - YS I, 12-16
  3. Bhavapratyayo – By birth (naturally born in a state of Yoga) – YS I, 19
  4. Śraddhā – By trusting our Heart - YS I, 20-22
  5. Īśvara pranidhānā - By surrendering to the Highest - YS I, 23

Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtra-s (YS) I-20 śraddhā (trust, faith, enthusiasm, interest, inspiration) virya (energy) smṛti (memory) samādhi (enlightenment) prajña (intuitive knowledge) pūrvaka (before mentioned) itareṣam (other than)

By trusting in our true heart’s desire, we find the energy to move forward, remembering to keep on course towards that enlightened state of intuitive knowing called Yoga.

Trusting our Hearts without Attaching to Outcomes Other than those who are naturally in a state of Yoga by birth, the rest of us must get there through our own efforts (pathways 1-2). Trust (śraddhā) is the motivation behind those efforts to stay on course. It helps us to practice being present and detach from anything distracting us. We must trust (śraddha) in our deepest heart’s desire without attaching to any outcomes because one never knows in life. All we can do is be true to this inner calling without worrying about what it means or how it will manifest. This trust (śraddha) will provide us with the energy (virya) to move forward and will keep reminding (smṛti) us of what our heart is truly calling for even if the desired outcome appears to be impossible.

Taming the Wild Horse Mind In this Chinese New Year of the Horse, the wild horse mind can take us towards many possibilities that seem equally compelling. We need to keep on course to guide that horse towards our deepest heart’s desire. As we saw last fall, it often takes letting go (vairāgyam) of old patterns to let in (abhyāsa) new ones. It often feels safer to hold on to what we know than to step out into something new with no certain outcomes. What fuels us to make those changes?

Enthusiasm – The Fuel of Transformation Where there is interest (śraddhā), there is energy (virya). This enthusiasm (from the Greek “being filled with Spirit”) helps us to remember (smṛti) where we are going and why. When that energy is lacking, ask yourself why. Maybe you are off course. Maybe there is another path which will bring you greater Joy (ānanda), inspiring you to live your life on purpose.

Is it Love or Lust? The Play of the Three Guna-s: Tamas, Rajas, and Sattva Sometimes we feel filled with apathy. We feel uninspired to get out of bed and face the tasks of our day. This is called tamas (heaviness, darkness, laziness). Other times we feel inspired to make a change, but those passions (rajas) are short lived. We fall in lust with a person or an idea, but it doesn’t last. By contrast, when we feel śraddha, we may be filled with a Love that doesn’t die. Something deep within us compels us to act. Our Hearts are running the show, and our heads are along for the ride. Nothing can stop us from reaching our heart’s true desire.

This śraddha (faith, trust) is a sattvic (pure, balanced) quality of mind that naturally arises when we are centred in the Heart and grounded in the body. The first goal of Yoga is to develop this sattvic state of being, freeing us from both debilitating lethargy (tamas) and unsustainable passion (rajas) to rather enjoy a balanced, grounded, pure state of being (sattva). In this mind-body state, we find our deepest Heart’s desire. It fills us with the trust and innocence of sattvic (pure) child, who dares do exactly what she wants with great enthusiasm(śraddha) and energy (viryam), continuously remembering (smrti) to play in the truth of her being (samādhi prajña).

Yoga Sutra Questions What is your Heart calling you to do right now? Do you have the energy to do it? If not, is your Heart just not into it? Are you lacking a particular direction for a fundamental reason? Is it time to change course?
 

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