Sthira and Sukha: Finding Stillness & Joy through Asana

Sthira and Sukha:

Finding Stillness & Joy in your Practice of Kriya Hatha Yoga

 

Science and mysticism agree that although from the outside we appear very solid, we are nothing, but waves of energy.  Mysticism explains that spiritual evolution is dependent on the proper functioning of those waves.  Kriya Hatha Yoga is a spiritual practice of asana that not only focuses on stretching, strengthening and nourishing the physical body, but on increasing vital energy, uncovering and awakening dormant energy and integrating and balancing the physical/mental/vital being.

The Sutras of Pantanjali defines asana as accomplishing steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha) in both body and mind. Kriya Hatha Yoga is resplendent as a yoga of balance. Balance happens whenever the body and mind is simultaneously aligned and relaxed – sthira and sukha. The 18-posture series encourages physical and mental balance through movement and relaxation. It teaches how to observe tension and sensation in the body and how to let go of tension and surrender to sensation. The body has ever-changing tensions and sensations. Tension and relaxation seems unique to the moment, as everything in life affects them: posture, work, relationships and thoughts.  Tension in the body not only causes contraction and kinking in the physical musculature and circulation, they also block energy in the subtle channels and directly create all kinds of clutter in the mind.  Asana practiced with proper breathing, mudra, bandhas and concentration will relax tensions in the body in a way that the mind will empty itself of stress and chatter and energies will flow free.

To maintain health and relaxation, we need to target tension in the body and blockages in the joints.  Working on the joints will re-establish movement and allow for relaxation in the muscles and the diaphragms of the body, stretch connective tissue, strengthen nerve pulsations, increase circulation and get the fluids moving again to remove and metabolize toxins. But if we approach our practice not only as physical, but also as spiritual and use the sensations of tension and relaxation to gain the release of blockages in the physical and subtle bodies, we open ourselves to experiencing our energy body.  Miniscule vibrations and waves of energy flow up and down the length of the body, ebbing and flowing as they respond to the increase of prana animating them.  When we surrender to the sensations of subtle electricity, shimmering, tingling, pulsing, prickling, or rushing in the body we become like a leaf in a swiftly moving stream and balance, brings us into stillness. Each asana offers us perfect immobility, a mental and physical still-point, in which, our energy feels more alive, substantial, joyful and our breath, subtle, vast and free.

Surrendering to sensations allows us to drop deeper into ourself allowing memories from our subconscious to arise. A deep pain, harbored for years, armored by numbness may lurch forward, creating an opportunity for us to be rid of it once and for all.  Letting go of what comes up in an asana often affords us the greatest gains in flexibility and strength.  Practicing longer holdings with the proper alignment and ease, breathing and concentration offers the most gains in flexibility, relaxation and the possibility of overcoming subconscious tendencies.  We carry this physical and mental relaxation with us off the mat.

Stillness and immobility is the ultimate goal of asana practice, where an increase of energy flows in a unified fashion, requiring not only physical flexibility and suppleness, but a tranquil body and mind, where transformation is possible.

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The focus of the Summer 2016, Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Hatha Yoga Teacher Training course is to deepen our own personal experience of the 18-asana, in order to gain some mastery over body and mind.  Emphasis will be on how to find our own personal best practice through either intensifying or modifying the way we personally do asana, and on teaching others to do the same. We will be immersed in knowing how Yoga works, delving into prana, the mind, and the subtle body, functional anatomy, and on pranayama and meditation, and be introduced to Yoga as a means of changing the way the brain normally thinks and responds to stress.

The curriculum covers a thorough understanding of the anatomical mechanics of 18 asana of Kriya Hatha Yoga and structural alignment, the physical and spiritual benefits and the theory behind the asana selection and what occurs energetically as we practice them.  Additional asana will be explored and integrated into our training.  We will begin an in-depth study of the history of asana, of Classical Yoga, Sutras of Patanjali and Bhagavad Gita. We will experience the energy of prana and the subtle body and deeply explore the practices of bandhas, pranayama and meditation and learn how to teach them safely. You will be enlightened and entertained by imminent Osteopath, author and Kriyayogi Pierre Desjardins during the 18-hours given to functional anatomy and physiology of the human body in relation to the practice and teaching of Hatha Yoga. Our training will also cover the qualities of teaching effectively: modifying the postures for particular needs and physical limitations, how to assist students safely, the importance of coaching the breath, working with the lines of energy, working with intensity and relaxation. Modern research will be presented on the proven effectiveness of yoga. The training will help you begin to develop your voice as a teacher by deepening and expanding your own inner experience of Kriya Hatha Yoga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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