Listen, surrender and flow with the natural circles of life, leaving your preferences and ambitions behind. Dedicate your life to wisdom and truth, love and compassion. This is the aim of Yoga. Realize your Essence, Be who You Really Are.
"Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize..." Sw.Sivananda
What is Yoga? By Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati
Yoga is living a natural life, a life in which you are able to understand Yourself. In order to do that you need to look deeply within human nature, observe your thoughts, feelings, sensation, motivations and interactions with the external world. At present you do not live that sort of life. If you lived a natural life, your will know what your body is saying and you would not have to ask anybody. This body is a product of nature, the five essential elements, and therefore whatever kind of life you choose has to complement them. As the body is a product of nature, any means that you employ to improve yourself has to be natural, not chemical, as chemicals cause an imbalance in the body.
So when we talk of Yoga, it is not just Asana and Pranayama that we have to consider, because that is a very small portion of Yoga. Yoga refers to a Yogic lifestyle, living consciously from moment to moment. It includes all we do, the way we do it, what we ingest in our body and mind, the quality of thoughts and emotions we carry. Just practicing Asana for ten minutes a day is not enough. It is like sinning the whole week and then going to confession on Sunday, and then getting ready to sin the next week. If you fill your body and mind with toxins all week and want to eliminate them in ten minutes, it is not possible. The Yogic lifestyle has to be included in your curriculum if you want to improve your lifestyle. People come to Yoga when they begin to feel an imbalance in their life, an imbalance in the body, thoughts or emotions. They come to Yoga to correct the imbalance, for which not just practicing Yoga, but living a Yogic lifestyle is necessary. A Yogic lifestyle means two things: Balance and Discipline. The best example of balance is found in nature. Nature is balanced. Night is balanced by day, heat is balanced by cold. That is how nature acts all the time, balancing everything that takes place. That is the balance you have to bring into your own life, starting with the amount you sleep, eat, talk, think or work. Everything has to be regulated. Balance is taking the middle path, without any extremes. When you live a life of extremes, you tax your body and mind, and then you have to pay the price. The second aspect is discipline. If you want to achieve anything in life, you have to discipline yourself.
Seeking Yoga Power in Nature. By Ram Giri Baba.
The yoga teachers we have in the West can be brilliant, amazing, and inspirational; there is much to learn from them. However, there is a massive part of the yoga wisdom that does not reach us. This is due mainly to the fact that it remains in India with the traditional yogis and sadhus (monks). I studied for many years under western teachers, but always had a yearning for the deeper and hidden sides of yoga. I found myself in India for the 3rd time in 1997. I was living at the Ved Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, Uttranchal in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Rishikesh is known as the ‘Yoga Capital of India’ and there are, in fact, many yogis and sadhus in the area. It is also a centre for Indian pilgrims to come and soak in the holy atmosphere. Westerners also come here seeking yoga teachings or wisdom. I, too, was in India seeking the wisdom of yoga at its source. I started with ashram life: living in a comfortless cement cell, eating the tasteless food, helping to clean the living areas, and practicing yoga morning and evening. Ashram life is supposed to help you focus on your spiritual practice because the environment is supposed to remove distractions like television, cooking, and the like. After some weeks of this life, I was not feeling fulfilled. There was a yearning in me for the deeper teachings of yoga and it did not seem to be coming from the ashram. The ashram swamis/teachers were a bit jaded and did not put much effort into teaching the westerners who came through there to live or practice. This particular ashram had been hosting westerners since before the Beatles moved into the area (along with thousands of followers) to seek their own deeper teachings. It’s not a surprise the swamis in this ashram were a bit callus. Most yogis in India do not live in ashrams because there are too many rules to abide by. They prefer to have a more carefree life in the forests. The life of the forest and river is better suited to the nature-loving yogis. This is what drew me to them, once I found out what a real yogi was like: a nature lover. All I knew up until then was that a yogi was a person who did asana, often on a sticky mat with some blocks and bolsters around. I was not prepared for the traditional version of yogi, who looks a little wild, is often hard to find and even more difficult to speak to, and holds some of the ancient wisdom of India. The traditional Indian yogis (many of them at least), are a peculiar group. They try to live their lives immersed in nature and tend to live outside, wandering from place to place. They frequent temples, rivers, caves, springs, and other powerful places. Often on their wanders they meet old friends, who are also wandering or on a pilgrimage. They forage for food and cook it themselves. They may also obtain food from ashrams, or go hungry. Their fate is often left up to the whims of nature and chance. Sometimes there is a shelter to sleep under and sometimes not. These people have to be extremely tough and adaptable to survive in their environment. Many of them head up to the very high mountains in summer and live above the tree line. They will bathe in icy cold rivers, shiver at night, and roast during the day. They suffer these trials because they say they are closer to the Divine Shiva, who is the lord of the mountains and the ultimate yogi. One does feel different at such extreme altitudes. There is great power and energy to be gained there, if you can handle it. This prana, or life-force, is one of the reasons that traditional yogis live as they do, in nature. They believe that if one can receive true and solid harmony with nature, great health and personal power will result. These yogis never have a sticky mat (as far as I’ve ever seen) and rarely do any asana, but they are some of the most powerful and peaceful people I have ever met. Their wisdom comes from the timelessness of nature. Their power comes from the mountains and rivers, from the moon and sun, from the earth and sky. Once I discovered the magical and fascinating creature that is the Indian sadhu/yogi, I was hooked. I wanted to learn some of their ways and spend time with them in nature. I left the ashram and went high into the Himalayas, seeking the yogis. What happened there I cannot currently say…. We can all take a lesson from these yogis of nature, by going outside as much as possible. If you can, take your practice to the park or forest. Bring your sticky mat (the old yogis would not mind) and soak up some natural prana. Try to sleep outside sometimes and make sure to go places with good air and water. You too can gather some of the nectar of nature. It’s free and all you have to do is find some nature and spend some time there. The peace and power will come.
Being 'connected' with nature. By Magnus Hjort
People like to believe that being connected with nature is some kind of mystical power. It is. But it it is also a very mundane thing. Let us say that you and I both share a friend, whom we love in our hearts with equal sincerity. One of us spends days and weeks in the city, working hard so that some unknown rich person can get richer, while the other spends their days in the company of this friend.. Who will be the most connected with our friend? It is of course possible to nurture very deep connections with limited time. Whether an old friend or the community of life in the local woods, it is the quality and attention that we bring into our meeting that determines the connectivity. But there is another factor that cannot be ignored. It is the small, every day things that you notice when you live with a partner or a close friend with whom you spend time with nearly every day. Slowly, you start to 'get' that person in a new and much more rich, sincere and including way. Nature is the very same thing. Just 'being around' nature gives that increased connectivity; the slow, undulating change of seasons is actually felt and experienced as subtle and dramatic change in light, rain and snow, temperature, the presence of birds and other animals change. You notice these things not because you are some kind of super human endowed with a mystical gift of 'being connected with nature' but simply because you are there to witness it! So while I immerse my mind in books and crafts, invest in my relations and basically go about life, I do this in a *place* and setting where "nature" is actually seen and felt. Sure I like taking Nature on a "date" now and then - setting aside some hours or a full day and REALLY get into each other - but mostly, I let our relation grow and flourish by sheer exposure. Like a happy marriage or a devoted friendship, it is doing me a world of good while I really just going about my life. Living with nature is a good life. And - whats more! - it has actually given me a new appreciation for the city; this week I hitting the big city for a visit on one of its many interesting museums! I never did these things when I lived in cities..! Might be that I matured as a person, or I am just not so miserable any longer, and that leaves more room for culture, and innovative behavior. While elaborate ceremony and ritual may indeed increase our connection with nature - or a person - the simple truth is this: the best and easiest way to develop connectivity is to simply Be There. Be with that person. Be with nature. Connectivity will form spontaneously, with no other prerequisite than your loving attention.