Please note: Jude is teaching the three week teacher training block course right now and due back to teach Meditation Monday in February. Barry is relieving for her.
The aim of our 7pm Meditation/Philosophy Monday class is to teach you about the key theories, principles, and concepts of the scripture referred to as Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. This is so that you can learn practical ways to implement these yoga practices (the 8 Limb Practices of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga) into your life on and off the yoga mat. Patanjali was referred to as a svayambhu, an evolved soul incarnated of his own will to help humanity. He assumed human form, experienced our sorrows and joys, and learned to transcend them. The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is one of the most enlightening spiritual documents of all time. It is often referred to (tongue in cheek) as the bible of yoga. Approximately two thousand years old, it is a collection of 196 short concise observations on the nature of consciousness and liberation. In other words: it is directed towards women and men’s spiritual evolution- we are more than just minds in bodies! We are spiritual beings and the practice of yoga is to connect with, to strengthen and to live life through spirit, free from the ramblings of our fluctuating minds. In essence, spirituality deals with our relationship with that which is beyond us as individuals. This is the relationship with something greater than we are, with a source of being that we have come from before our birth, and where we will go after our death. In my opinion as the Director of the YA 500 Yoga Teacher Training Course how this is defined from individual to individual is personal and is for each person to define for themselves, e.g. Christians talk of the Holy Ghost, Buddhists of Buddha Nature, Muslims of Allah, New Agers of the Cosmic or Higher Self. This concept of spirit has even been describe by Frank Lloyd Wright (the famous American architect) as: “I spell God “NATURE”.” Many paths lead to the same place”, says the Dali Lama and I couldn’t agree more.
The general structure of the class: You will do a few stretches to prepare the body for sitting meditation, followed by some Pranayama (breathing exercises) and then we do a meditation with a focus on an object. Through the year we change the focus of the object of the meditation so you experience a range of techniques and thus find one that really works for you. The evening is completed with a mini-lecture on a theme taken from the Sutras of Patanajali and a small group discussion on that specific theme.
Why you would want to attend this class regularly – what are the benefits to you- how will it change your life? Most people live on a day to day basis with a mind so turbulent and emotions storming within (anger, jealousy, grief, fear, and guilt) that the disturbance and anxiety this creates drown peace, joy, and love. This results in obstacles that get in the way of them experiencing a quality of life and they miss the opportunity to realize their full potential, e.g. such mind states result in a very short concentration span so the results of the work they do are hampered by a sub-conscious preoccupation with upset. As stated by AG Mohan (Senior student of Krishnamacharya and the Founder and Director of Svastha Yoga www.svastha.net/): “ All of us have experienced at one time or another as though everything was coming apart and disintegrating around us into so many pieces and that we were without a way of holding them together. And yet what is so often fragmented and chaotic about the situation is not the events themselves but the state of our own minds. On the other hand we have also had occasions-albeit temporary- where we have experienced a state of integration. This is a state where are minds perceive things clearly, when an underlying sense of order seems to prevail and we feel a sense of love toward everything around us. In short we feel free. We all wish to feel that state again. We even hope to find some way to actually live that way, instead of falling into the clutches of our desire, anger, greed, frustration, sorrow and despair, reintegration is the process of bringing us back to that state. It is the process of changing a wandering mind to a centered one, a wanting mind to a content one, a self-indulging mind in to a self-fulfilling one. It is the process called yoga.”
And how does it work – how does it result in self-transformation? The effect of Patanjali’s 8 Limbed Yoga Path (or Raja Yoga as it is called by its other name) is described succinctly by BKS Iyengar in his book Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: ” The effect is to reflect the thoughts and actions of the aspirant as in a mirror. The practitioner observes the reflections of his thoughts, mind, consciousness and actions and corrects himself. This process guides him or her towards the observation of his inner self. Yogis follow this process in their effort to develop refined language, a cultured body and a civilized mind.”
And so by participating in this Monday 7pm Meditation and Philosophy Class as well as our Asana Classes on a regular basis you will embark on a guided yoga journey that will not only make your bodies stronger, more agile and more flexible, and make your minds more relaxed, but you will be led to discover that the ultimate aim of teaching you this particular class is to show you how to use the yoga practices of Patanjali to go beyond your limiting habitual ways of existing and to untie all aspects of the person: mind, body, heart and spirit. It is in this sense that it is called a spiritual practice. And it is the reason that Yoga is often called the science of Self-realization, because its end result is that we realize just who we are, not limiting that knowledge to our surface personality, or the ego-led persona that we project out into the world, but discovering the real person, the Self hidden deep inside, which yoga declares to be spirit itself.