|Issue 12 - May 1973|
Who sends the mind to wander afar? Who first drives life to start on its journey? Who impels us to utter these words? Who is the Spirit behind eye and ear?
What is Yoga: The Sanskrit word Yoga means to join or to bind. By practising yoga, we join ourselves to the vital energy that flows through all things. That force which animates the universe and gives it life. Yoga is a way of life that leads to inner peace and an understanding of how man can harmonise himself with other living things in the universe. It helps us to know and experience directly the underlying unity of all living things.
Yoga and Change: At the moment, it would seem that man on this beautiful planet is engaged in destroying himself and all the other beings with which he shares it. We live in an age of technological materialism, of exploitation and hatred. It is obvious that if this planet is to survive as a living entity, then man must undergo a complete change in the way we live our lives; in the way we relate to each other and the other life forms. By doing yoga, we can help to counteract the negative forces on this planet. We can learn to live positively and harmoniously.
Yoga and your True Nature: When we are born into this world our minds are clear; free from concepts and cravings. It is only as we grow older that we become trained to think in certain ways, to react in certain ways. Education destroys our true nature from the moment we are born. But as the English mystical poet Thomas Traherne says, "When I was born I had no head, my eye was single and my whole body was filled with light".
Yoga brings us back to that state. It helps us to refind our true nature. The centres of our being. Through yoga we can become complete human beings.
Yoga and Religion: Yoga is not a religion. It is a practical path that leads to self-realisation. Though there have been many words and books written about yoga it is above all a way of living, of acting in the world. You do not need a teacher. The teacher is in you. You merely need to ask the questions and have the desire to know. Yoga is a religion that does away with the need for religion. If we can directly experience the underlying joyful force that lives, breathes, sings and dances in us, then we have no need for religions, philosophies or teachers.
Yoga and the seven vital centres: There are seven cakras or vital energy centres which are situated along the length of the spine, from the base of the spine to the top of the head. We can usefully think of yoga as being divided into seven sections or paths. Each of us will probably incline more to one or the other depending on the needs and individuality.
1) Base of the spine
The yoga of the body. The foundation stone of existence. By performing yoga asanas (positions) we strengthen the body, stimulate the circulation, the nervous system and the glands and come to an understanding of how our bodies work. We help the vital energy (prana) to flow through the body. The breathing exercises of Hatha Yoga, known as pranayana, strengthen the lungs and stimulate the circulation. If the body is sick then the whole being will eventually be sick. Hatha Yoga uses the body to keep the body well, healthy and joyful. The human body is a manifestation of energy, if treated with love and joy it is a source of boundless pleasure and discovery.
2) Opposite the sex organs
Yoga: The Yoga of Fucking. Of the joyful union of the opposites.
Tantra Yoga is concerned with the physical joy of fucking. It teaches
that through fucking we can experience in each other the divine force
that flows from woman to man to woman to man ... We can also understand
Tantra Yoga as a metaphor. The reintegration of the opposite poles
of our identity.
3) Opposite the stomach
The yoga of action in the world (the yoga of how we get our food, an unnecessarily complicated procedure in an unnecessarily complex and alienating society).
Karma yoga is concerned with our relationships with each other in our day to day activities. Man and society in harmony with the universal order. Through Karma yoga we come to understand our own individual situation as a particular individual.
4) Opposite the heart. In the centre of the body
The Yoga of Divine Love
The central cakra in the body. This is the yoga for our age. In the past Bhakti Yoga has involved devotion and love centred round a particular figure. Christianity is full of Bhakti as is the Krishna cult, the Divine Light Mission, and most world religions that centre round a messianic figure. But in this age the central figure is no longer necessary. The love that we feel flows out to all men. To our brothers and sisters, human and all that lives and grows. By using this cakra as a centre for meditation we can come to a real understanding of compassion and love for all beings.
5) In the throat
The Yoga of sound and vibration. Aum ... Ham ... Sa. Mantras are sounds that are used to help concentration in meditation. All material existence is merely an illusion or shadow of a world of atoms, molecules, electrons. A world of sound and vibration. Of flow and pulse. Through Mantra yoga we can experience those vibrations. Mantra Yoga is connected with creative activities - singing, dancing, painting, playing musical instruments.
6) Between the eyes. The Third Eye. Jnani Yoga
The yoga of understanding, of true knowledge. By using the Third Eye as a centre for meditation we can come to an understanding through images, colours and thoughts of how we are what we are. Rather than rejecting the mind and the intellect, Jnani yoga accepts that we are trapped to a large extent in our rational thought processes and uses our rational and intellectual faculties as a starting point on the way to transcending the limitations of logical thought patterns and arriving at higher levels of awareness.
7) Above the crown of the head. The thousand petalled lotus
Om mani padme hum
The Yoga of complete liberation, and self-realisation. This yoga
includes and encompasses all the other yogas. It is the yoga that
transcends the human situation. It is the Yoga of completion, and
is in a sense the final yoga that all the others lead to. This cakra
is a beautiful flower on the top of the head, the spine is its stem.
In a yoga known as Kundalini Yoga the Kundalini (the energy that
is coiled like a serpent at the base of the spine) is made to travel
up through all the cakras until it opens the thousand petalled lotus.
With the awakening of the energies in the body the bud that is in
all of us gradually opens and unfolds into that perfect flower.
Yoga and Food
Your body is built from the food that you eat.
The energy that helps it to function properly. There is little point in doing yoga to open up the body and the mind if we have to use up energy in getting rid of the poisons in the food that we eat.
To harmonise ourselves. To bring ourselves back to a natural way of living, we should try to eat natural foods. To eat life-giving foods. Not processed plastic packaged factory foods.
The force that animates the universe flows through all beings. All life forms have their place, their experience of their world. Their right to life and joy. It is because they have realised this and what it means that many people become vegetarians. They do not wish to take the life of another being to provide themselves with food. Obviously though, we must draw the line somewhere or we could not eat anything at all; though there are yogis and old men who live on water and prana, and claim that once the energies in the body are properly balanced there is no need for food as the body obtains energy directly from the other energy sources around it. It is up to each one of us to decide where to draw the line; I will not eat meat or fish or eggs or dairy produce or anything of animal origin. Bearing in mind that all life is sacred and that man has ruthlessly exploited the other life forms with which we share this planet.
To be a vegetarian is to be aware of the balance and the flow of life. To practise what the Buddhists call 'ahimsa' - harmlessness. This is the central reason for being a vegetarian. The realisation that all life is sacred. There are other reasons. Like the spokes of a wheel. But 'ahimsa' is the hub. An expression and practice of love for all beings.
What is best to eat for the whole being. Try to eat whole foods. Whole grains - brown rice, barley, wheat, maize, buckwheat, wholemeal breads. Fresh fruit and vegetables. Dried fruit and nuts. Beans - soya beans, lentils, haricots, split peas etc. Try to limit your intake of animal food. Try to eat only when you need food. There are many people on this planet who are hungry and have no food to fill them or to nourish them. Eat organically grown foods when you can get it. By buying these organically grown foods you know you're not poisoning your own body and that you are supporting people who are growing food using methods that do not poison and pollute the planet. Eat plenty of raw foods. Don't overcook your food. Eat your food with joy and thanks. The food that we eat is the end product of a truly amazing chain of events. From seed to food. All the elements have had a part in its growth. The earth, the water, the sun and the air. Life to build your life.
Yoga sessions: Most adult education centres run evening classes in yoga. You usually have to pay for them and they seem to concentrate mainly on Hatha Yoga. Newcastle University and Polytechnic also have yoga sessions. But if you want to start doing yoga, you can start today. It is only necessary that you want to know more about yourself. About who you really are, where you came from and where you are going. Yoga can help you to directly experience the answers to these questions. It is you who knows. We all know essentially what we are. We have merely forgotten; through yoga we can remember and rediscover our true selves and each other.
If you want to talk about yoga or find out more about it I would like to talk to you (I live at 51 Larkspur Tce, Newcastle) and sometimes you can find me at the other end of a phone, N/cle 811876. Also Roger who lives at 13 Tankerville Tce, Jesmond, teaches yoga at various places in the north-east and could help you if you want to join a yoga group.
Some books on yoga:
1) Light on Yoga by BKS Ivengar. The work on Hatha Yoga. Full of pictures of asanas. A really beautiful introduction which gets you high and gives a clear idea of the classical Indian approach to yoga.
2) Yoga and Health. Yessudian and Haich (published by Unwin). A good general book for those starting on the journey. Maps, advice and practical guidance.
3) Tantra Yoga. Omar Garrison (Compendium). A book about Tantra. With practical meditation advice and experiences.
4) The Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita (Penguin). The religious and mystical background to Indian yoga. Both very beautiful books. Try and read them in the context of our situation 1973.
5) The Penguin Krishnamurti Reader or any other book by Krishnamurti. The revolution in yourself. The changes and joy of discovering love and revolution are tied together. That we must come to understand each other and lose our petty egos on the way.
6) The Tassajara Bread Book. A good book on how to make good bread.
7) Vegetarian Cookery. Walter and Jenny (Penguin). A good simple book on vegetarian cookery.
Most of these books can be bought from Ultima Thule bookshop, Arcadia, Percy Street, Newcastle.
Oh How you are
Peace Joy and Liberation to all beings.