Asmita the hindrance of Pride and the ego
We are pondering the Kleshas in the Relax and Revive class this term, these are the 5 very human hindrances that hold us back in our yoga journey. This week we are looking at Asmita which translates as Pride, or Ego. Here are some thoughts on that...
Asmita happens when you identify with those things in your life that can change, for example your job, or the possesions that you own, a fancy car or wonderful home. It may even be your health or bodily appearance. But we age, the economy changes and jobs can be lost.. Everything changes, so we must look inside to cultivate what we call our Witness or Higher Self. We have all had glimses of that inner wisdom that rests within but can be so easily obscured by want or desire.
When the ego is pre-eminent we see ourselves as seperate, apart from other people, separated from them because we are superior. We live in a nice home, they live on the street. We have an interesting job, they sweep the streets. Our culture has history, amazing architecture, they live in teepees and mud huts. When we come to see our culture or life style as superior to others that is a form of mass Egoism and the stuff that has begun wars.
Modern science is telling us that we are all interconnected. We have come to learn that what we do, what we buy, effects the enviroment. I am sure the amount of hairspray I used back in the 80's is directly responsible for a large part of the Ozone layer depletion!
The opposite of pride is humilty, and cultivating that is a vital step in the diminishment of the ego. The word humility is derived from the latin word humus or grounded. Being grounded and stable is what we strive for in our yoga practice.
This is a wonderful video clip made by the American Museum of Natural History. It is an awesome, (in the original sense of the word, ie. inspiring awe, wonder or fear) clip. The astronomy involved in mapping the universe is quite amazing. This certainly puts life into perspective and shows us that we are not the centre of the Universe.
When you see the face of anger
look behind it
and you will see the face of pride.
Bring anger and pride
under your feet, turn them into a ladder
and climb higher.
There is no peace until you become
Let go of anger, it may taste sweet
but it kills.
Don't become its victim.
You need humility to climb to freedom.
It was wonderful to see so many of you at the REST class yesterday. 16 people came from The Yoga Studio to support Karla's wonderful "blanket yoga". She was going to take a photograph of you all but a pile of blankets isn't that interesting. I really appreciate the chance to take time out and be in such a gentle, nourishing class, the breathing space this kind of yoga gives me spreads thoughout the week and beyond.
All the money from the class is going to Tibetan Refugees who live in the Himalayas and there is another ere is another opportunity on Sunday 23rd September at 4.30 - 6.30pm again at the wonderful Cotter House ballroom in Remuera.
You can book directly with Karla via her web site. www.karlabrodie.co.nz
Supta Padangustasana 1 instructions ( hamstring Stretch)
Well you asked for it so here are the instructions for a modified HAMSTRING STRETCH
Tight hamstrings can inhibit you in so many yoga poses. Stretching them out can help with lower back pain and prevent sciatica. By doing this on the floor you can stay in the pose for longer and don’t have to worry about your balance. This wonderfully simple pose is a great pose for sore backs.
The instructions are quite detailed so read them through a few times, or get someone to read them to you!
Lie down on your back in a straight line. Use support under the head if your chin is tipping up to the ceiling.
Have your knees bent, pointing to ceiling, feet on the floor.
Bend your right knee and place the strap around the ball of your foot.
Straighten your right leg. Pull on the strap to help open the back of the leg and stretch out the hamstrings.
Keep the front of your right leg in line with the front of your right hip.
Tighten your kneecap, firm your right leg by pressing the thigh muscle towards the thigh bone.
Make sure your shoulders are drawn away from your ears and your chest is open.
If you find it helpful and the leg feels heavy, place the upper arms on the floor - elbows tucked into the body. Or you can walk your hands up the strap keeping your arms straight.
Keep your face relaxed and your breath smooth and steady.
Keep the leg active and observe your breath. Once the stretch becomes less intense in the right leg, straighten your left leg and take it flat to the floor.
Press the back of the left leg firmly to the floor, especially the inner thigh.
The back of the left heel should be on the floor and not tilting to one side or the other.
Both legs are now active with the knee caps tightened (without locking them). The front thighs press firmly onto the thigh bone
Ensure that the sides of your body stay evenly lengthened by keeping the outside edge of right hip away from the waist.
Open the “eyes” at the back of knees.
Continue to keep the breath smooth and steady and the face quiet and calm.
Repeat on the other side and reverse the instructions.
“practice and all is coming” Geeta Iyengar
POSTSCRIPT I wanted to share this picture with you. Joy has been busy triming the new grey blankets in the studio so they are all one standard size and neatly hemmed. She gave some off cuts to a friend who has been making pin cushions from them. Isn't it lovely. Great way to recycle.
I have this image of myself in my head as someone who can do these wonderfully creative things- just hasn't happened yet!.
Metta Bhavana meditation
or Development of Loving- Kindness meditation
Welcome to the first newsletter for students of the The Yoga Studio. It will be an occasional event, a place where I can share useful information, provide practice sequences or post anything else you may be interested - let me know.
This term in the Relax and Revive class we are exploring some different techniques that help us on the path of meditation and illuminate the Yamas and Niyamas. We began with a focus on Ahimsa (non-violence). Expressed positively this is the cultvation of love, peace, friendliness and compassion for everyone.
As requested here are my instructions from last weeks class for the Metta Bhavana (loving kindness meditation). I am keen to share this technique with you, I have found it to be a powerful and transformative practice that cultivates these values. It is a Buddhist practice rather than a yogic one, but you don't need to be a Buddhist to do it. As The Buddha himself is reputed to have said, one candle can light a thousand and the light of the candle is never shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. I hope practising this meditation makes you feel good about yourself and that you pratice it regularly to develop a calm, kind anchor in your life that helps you weather the rough seas of your emotions.
Read through the instructions a few times before you begin. It helps to choose in advance the people you are going to focus on. Don't dwell on this too much, just whomever pops into your head. Set aside some time where you won't be disturbed. Once you are ready, sit comfortably and scan your body to release tension. Observe your breath until you feel yourself settling peacefully and the breath is calm.
You can focus on each area for up to ten minutes but to begin with, just a couple of minutes on each heading will help.
Let your heart fill with love for yourself. Generate a warm feeling of complete love and acceptance of yourself as you are right now in this moment not as you might wish to be. Spend some minutes on this, send warm heart felt wishes to yourself. Here are some suggested words that you can say silently to yourself which are based on the traditonal ones, but you may choose your own. You may need to work at it to generate this feeling of unconditonal love for yourself. Think of it as a big mental hug. If you don't feel it don't worry it will come with practice. Repeat the words silently with as much conviction and you can muster.
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be free from suffering
May I develop spiritually
2 A dear one
Then bring to mind someone you love, a smile, the sound of their laugh or an image of you both together in your mind may help. As you hold their image in your mind, send them the same warm wishes you gifted yourself. Don't repeat the words mechanically, but with the full purport of the words. You truly want all of these wonderful things for your loved friend or family member. Generate as much love and good feelings as you can, and be clear in you desire to send good wishes for this person. Then after your chosen time period let them fade from your mind and call to mind your neutral person.
May they be well
May they be happy
May they be free from suffering
May they progress spiritually
3 Neutral person
Your chosen neutral person may be someone you see at the bus stop, or at the reception desk of a place you visit regularly. You may have never spoken to them but you know their face. As you hold their image in your mind aim to keep the same feeling tone that you had for yourself and your dear one. Like stoking a fire we must practice building up this unconditional love in our hearts. It is harder when you don't know someone, but be persistant. Try to see this person three-dimensionally, they too are deserving of love, good health emotionally and physically. They too want a peaceful life. Send them good wishes like an anonymous gift.
May they be well
May they be happy
May they be free from suffering
May they progress spiritually
4 Challenging person or "enemy"
When you first begin this practice don't be tempted to choose your arch enemy! Start with someone that you feel a bit uncomfortable around, or someone in your life who has views you find challenging. It could be someone from your past. I sometimes choose someone who I care for but am really annoyed with and feel stuck with these emotions.
Observe yourself as you recall the image of this person in your mind. Be alert to any tension creeping back into your body. Observe your reaction to this person impartially, and be present to what is there. Take care not to ''narratise'' your feelings, eg. last time I saw them they said so and so , I wish I had said something cleverer back to them etc . Create an image of this person happy and smiling. Try restoke the fire of unconditional love and good feelings you have for your dear one. Remember all people want to be loved, to be healthy and at peace. Metta Bhavana meditation is a ''practice'" and we need to work at it, and train our minds, if it becomes too hard then let it go and come back to good wishes for yourself.
To bring the meditation towards its conclusion put yourelf back into the frame alongside your dear one, neutral person and challenging person. Wish for them all what you want for yourself and then expand it out to all people.
5 All people everywhere
Expand your feelings to include not just these four people but all beings on this planet, include everyone, all races, creeds. Be expansive and inclusive, send your warm wishes to the animals, plants, the enviroment. We all want a peaceful and well world. Why stop there, send love to the universe as well! As you become more experienced with this meditation you can try to empathise with people in the world that you disapprove of as well, those on death row, terrorists and so on. Remember that unconditional love is just that, unconditional.
Conclude by coming back to wishing yourself well. Rescan your body for tension, feel the weight and shape of your body as you sit. Notice your breath. Be aware of how you feel. Then slowly open your eyes.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Searching all directions
with one’s awareness,
one finds no one dearer
In the same way, others
are fiercely dear to themselves.
So one should not hurt others
if one loves oneself.