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Sanskrit: A Dead Language in the Living World

Sanskrit: a dead language in the living world By Nidhi Arora https://www.instagram.com/headsupchindown/ “It is a dead language, kind of like Latin,” shared software professional John DiFelice from Elkins Park, US. I had asked him what he knew about Sanskrit. He went on to say that he heard the Indian scriptures were written in Sanskrit and …

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Is Hot Yoga Not Yoga?

by Nidhi Arora ~ connect with her here As Bhagwad Gita says, “There are as many yogas as there are people.” And as i say, “There are as many yogas as there are countries.” Being an Indian, I can be biased towards practices that are taught in different parts of the world in the name …

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Understanding the Basics of Breathing and Respiration

Understanding the Basics of Breathing and Respiration Breathing involves the passage of air in and out of the lungs, and respiration involves the process of gas exchange between the lungs and the blood.1 During inspiration, the diaphragm contracts, the abdomen moves down, while the ribs expand and oxygen moves into the lungs.1 On expiration, the …

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The Goal of Pranayama

The Goal of Pranayama One of the main goals of pranayama is to prepare the body for deep meditation, by withdrawing the senses form the outside world1. However, the effects of pranayama can be altered according to the desired result, via the influence of the breath on the physiology of the body. Thus, one can …

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What is Pranayama

“Prana is the divine force of all function in the body.” Hello beautiful soul, I salute you from the most divine part of me to the most divine part of you. Together, we will be progressing through a series of articles dedicated to the topic of pranayama, one of my favorite topics and of extreme …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 18

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 18 Gaining Knowledge – Higher Truths, cont. – Yoga Sutras (1.49-1.51) Overview: Most knowledge is commingled with words or other concepts, and thus the knowledge of the object is not really pure knowledge. This is the nature of most of our experiences. Like other experiences, Samadhi, or deep …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 17

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 17 Gaining Knowledge of Higher Truths – Yoga Sutras (1.47-1.48) Overview: When the modifications of the mind are weakened, the mind is purified and takes on a crystal-like quality, as was previously explained (Sutra 1.41). However, Sutra 1.47 is explaining that after there is mastery of the nirvichara …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 16

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 16 Types of Engrossments, cont. – Yoga Sutras (1.44-1.46) Overview: Savichara and Nirvitarka Samadhis (engrossments) are similar the two previous Samadhis, except they are more subtle. The objects can be so subtle that they are undefinable by words. All these Samadhis are with seed, which means that they …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 15

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 15 Types of Engrossments – Yoga Sutras (1.42-1.43) Overview: When the mind becomes concentrated and the extraneous thought patterns begin to subside (as a result of the persistent practice of one-pointed meditation), the mind can then be not only concentrated, but also more thoroughly engrossed in the object …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 14

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 14 After the Mind is Stable – Yoga Sutras (1.40-1.41) Overview: Once the mind has been reasonably stabilized and clear (see yoga sutras 1.33-1.39), the process of Yoga can begin to deepen further. Once the deeper stages are reached the mind then becomes like a transparent crystal (sutra …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 13

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 13 Stabilizing/Clearing the Mind, cont. – (Yoga Sutras 1.36-1.39) Overview: The previous two sutras (1.34 & 1.35 – see pt. 12) were the 1st and 2nd of five specific “concentrations” that Patanjali recommended for stabilizing the mind. And we were reminded to become aware of the actual sensing …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 12

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 12 Stabilizing/Clearing the Mind – Yoga Sutras (1.33-1.35) Overview: Many teachers of meditation emphasize only one method. Concentrating on the breath is just one example. Some focus on a specific center in the body (chakra) or fixed gazing on some visual object (trataka) as outlined in sutras 1.33 …

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What Brings You Joy?

We have all heard that we should always do what makes us happy or brings us joy. We have an idea that what we do is related to some special dream. We believe that we will achieve or accomplish happiness and joy with a lot of work, perseverance, and effort. The truth is that we …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 11

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 11 Obstacles & Solutions – Yoga Sutras (1.30-1.32) Overview: As your practice evolves obstacles are to be expected. Yoga sutra 1.30 lists nine predictable obstacles that arise on your inner journey, and sutra 1.31 mentions four consequences that grow out of these obstacles. Although the serious student may …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 10

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 10 Samadhi Attained by Devotion, cont. – Yoga Sutras (1.25-1.29) This practice takes the student on a direct route inward, systematically penetrating each level of consciousness. Here it will be shown how Ishvara is represented and invoked by OM and how consciousness contains the seed of omniscience which …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 9

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 9 Samadhi Attained by Devotion – Yoga Sutras (1.23-1.24) Patanjali uses the next few sutras to focus on the concept of Ishvara in the framework of yoga. Early writings often used Ishvara to mean “master.” A yogesvara was therefore a “master of yoga.” Ishvara is derived from the …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 8

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 8 Effort & Commitment, cont. – Yoga Sutras (1.21 – 1.22) These two sutras (1.21 and 1.22) discuss the levels of intensity applied to actual practice and commitment to the goal. This way each person can progress at their own rate and still have a direct experience. Remaining …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 7

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 7 Effort & Commitment – Yoga Sutras (1.19 – 1.20) Yoga Sutras 1.19 and 1.20 describe two kinds or types of aspirants, both of whom can attain the goals of Yoga: Advanced, born with true insight: These aspirants are those who have made tremendous advancement in previous lives …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 7

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 7 Effort & Commitment – Yoga Sutras (1.19 – 1.20) Yoga Sutras 1.19 and 1.20 describe two kinds or types of aspirants, both of whom can attain the goals of Yoga: Advanced, born with true insight: These aspirants are those who have made tremendous advancement in previous lives …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 6

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 6 Types of Concentration – Sutras (1.17 – 1.18) These two Yoga Sutras describe the entire process of Samadhi, the higher tool of meditation. Therefore, the whole process of yoga is summarized in these two and the preceding sutras. It reviews how the meditator systematically moves inward. First …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 5

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 5 Practice & Non-Attachment, cont. – Yoga Sutras (1.15 thru 1.16) These two sutras cover non-attachment and supreme non-attachment. While the principle applies to all the gross and subtle levels, a gross level example will help. A good example of this is two smokers … Imagine two people …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 4

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 4 Practice & Non-Attachment – Yoga Sutras (1.12 thru 1.14) Practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya) are the two foundational principles on which the entire system of Yoga rests. Through the cultivation of these two principles, all other Yoga practices evolve and eventually mastery over the mind field (chitta/citta) …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 3

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 3 Un-coloring your thoughts, cont. – Yoga Sutras (1.6 – 1.11) Witnessing the five types of thoughts, along with practice, non-attachment are more covered in the next 6 sutras Yoga Sutra (1.6) – pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smritayah. The five types of thought patterns to witness are: Correct …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 2

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 2 Un-coloring Your Thoughts – (Sutra 1.5) Part 1 in this series ended with the forth Yoga Sutra (1.4) – vritti sarupyam itaratra, which says: “At other times, when one is not in self-realization, the Seer appears to take on the form of the modifications of the mind …

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 1 Defining – What is Yoga? – (Yoga Sutras 1.1 thru 1.4) To sincerely begin the pursuit of Self-realization is a most significant step in life. When the highest goal of life is taken on as number one on your list of things to do the student must …

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The Timeless Wisdom of Patanjali – Part 2

Introduction to the Yoga Sutras (Part 2) The concept of yoga being a path toward discovering the Light of the Soul may be difficult to grasp at first. Patanjali says that the path of yoga can help us to realize that creative force that keeps the universe humming. This behind the scenes energy is identical …

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The Timeless Wisdom of Patanjali

Introduction to the Yoga Sutras (Part 1) Most students of yoga have heard of Patanjali, but if they haven’t, then it’s only a matter of time before they do. Patanjali was an Indian sage who distilled the essence of India’s spiritual/philosophical traditions, which included centuries of philosophies and practices, and condensed this knowledge into 196 …

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Transforming Our Pain into Freedom

Life is a flow of inhalations and exhalations; it is a journey. It comes with its joys and sorrows, its ups and downs. Finding happiness and peace within every situation is our challenge. Our work is how to navigate and enjoy the ups, the in-betweens, and the downs without creating any aversion to them. We …

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Contemplating Death

Being in the now – the only thing we have is now. The only thing we know for sure in life is we will all meet death. How fragile life is. So why not focus on living each day as a gift? Live with a sense of humbleness, admiration, and gratitude? Why not befriend death? …

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Navigating Through Our Emotions (Re: COVID-19) – Part 2

Part 2 of 2 Most of us are waiting in long lines to buy groceries, seeing streets with less cars, and people all around with face masks on. We’re staying a minimum of 6 feet away (if the order is being obeyed). It’s like we’re seeing ourselves in a movie, but no, it’s reality! And …

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Navigating Through Our Emotions (Re: COVID-19)

Part 1 of 2 Today seems like any other day in quarantine. It looks like yesterday – you must get up and out of bed and complete some tasks very similar to previous days. Tasks that are perhaps very similar to those you used to do before quarantine. But now with different time schedules, people, …

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The Importance of Feeling Grateful

Sometimes I start feeling small, hidden behind self-negative talk, self-doubt and self-criticism … This quote from Ram Dass expresses it so clearly; ” The problem is you’re afraid to acknowledge your own beauty. You’re too busy holding onto your unworthiness.” Why do we do this to ourselves? We would view it as something bad or …

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Positive Changes Through Attitude Adjustments

Not every day is sunny. We don’t wake up feeling the same every day and starting our day with motivation and excitement sometimes gets difficult. Now that every day looks more or less the same during this confinement. Today it was more a type of misty morning, and my mind was a bit misty too. …

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How to Choose a Qualified Yoga Teacher

Since antiquity, traditional Yoga instruction was from teacher to student on a face-to-face basis. It was relatively easy to choose a qualified yoga instructor. As early as the 1980s, things began to change. Due to popularity in the Western Hemisphere, offering a limited version in a class format became common. Expertise — or a lack …

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Is your yoga instruction spiritual?

Here in the United States, teacher-training programs commonly avoid the spiritual instruction aspects that are Yoga. A brief review of some of these schools and seminar offerings reveals much about the lack of content in their programs. In many modern teacher-training programs, only a small percentage of the curriculum deals with spiritual aspects, which are …

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Pursuing authentic Yoga practices

It’s becoming more prevalent for practitioners to abandon Yoga as spiritual pursuit and look elsewhere for simpler instructions and techniques. This even happens among some of the teachers, scholars, authors, and publishers who profess to be experts in pursuing authentic Yoga practices. Some turn away from traditional meditation and contemplation techniques to “customize” these methods …

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Yoga: a spiritual tool that needs recognition as such

For a student longing for spiritual attainment, the path of traditional, authentic Yoga may be a perfect fit, including all of the many aspects that it may encompass. However, when authentic seekers of spiritual truths start to explore the landscape of approaches, they may quickly become daunted. Students rarely pursue Yoga as a spiritual tool …

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Authentic Yoga: Displaced from its proper role?

In recent times, there has been a commingling of methods on Yoga and the variety of fitness programs. As mentioned in previous blog posts, the word Yoga has lately come into popularity. There are many styles and types of exercise, ranging from aerobics to calisthenics to jazzercise to kick boxing. Quite a few have come …

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Yoga spiritual practice and money

Yoga spiritual practice and money: Is it wrong to use the subtle methods and powers of Yoga as a money-making technique? We don’t have to look far to find a seminar about making money with Yoga. If we’re calling it a fitness program, physical therapy or medical treatment, isn’t that already over the top? Well, …

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Success with Yoga

What establishes success with Yoga? There are differences between traditional and modern perspectives on its nature. In relation to modern Yoga and the shift from traditional Yoga, there exist two main perspectives worth considering: According to the modern or contemporary concept, an improved state of the physical body and/or the reduction of physical disease indicates …

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Yoga is Yoga, not asanas

There is no alternative word for Yoga. It is all-encompassing, embracing all its various forms simultaneously, not separately. So, when people try to find a synonym or substitute word, they misunderstand what Yoga means. For example, the term Yoga is sometimes mistakenly used in reference to Hatha Yoga or, in some cases, asana. People think …

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Is Yoga no longer true to its goals?

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (part 3) Let us remain mindful that the original goal or destination of Yoga is union of the little self, or ego, and the true, or Universal Self. Yoga becomes the realization, of and through, the direct experience of this pre-existing union. Accomplishing the merger between Atman and …

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True Yoga: On or off the Mat?

The True Goal of Yoga (Part 2): On or Off the Mat? Practitioners commonly refer to Yoga as on or off the mat. But the Yoga mat is a relatively new creation, usually made of some sort of synthetic rubber or plastic material. Too many people today accept the false notion that using such a …

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Yoga – Is It a Religion? (Part 1)

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (part 1) “Yoga is in Religion. Religion is not in Yoga” … Swami J. Yoga practices that involve the body, mind, and breath, including the transcendent goal of direct experience may be found in many religions. None of these typically define any specific religion, nor do the followers …

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The Fallacy of Composition in Yoga

The misuse of the word “Yoga” quite often relates to what logicians call the “fallacy of composition.” Being an informal fallacy, it infers that something is true of the whole simply because it is true of some part of the whole. Oftentimes this can lead to false conclusion that whenever a person is performing any …

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The goal of Yoga is Yoga – period!

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (part 6) A human body is a wonderful, functional machine, and proper care of it is essential. However, according to traditional Yoga the body is simply an instrument, and its maintenance is not the ultimate goal. There is no anti-body perspective nor a conflict between philosophies. Instead, the …

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Vedanta and Yoga

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (part 5) Previously we reviewed the six classical schools of Indian philosophy. This article focuses on one of them, “Vedanta.” More specifically, we consider what Dr. David Frawley (aka, Pandit Vāmadeva) writes about the nature of Yoga and its relationship to Vedanta. Yoga-Vedanta: A Complete Science In his …

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True Yoga and the 6 Schools (Darshanas) of Indian Philosophy

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (part 4) This synopsis of these six schools or Darshanas will easily clarify the true nature of authentic Yoga as being a system of spiritual pursuit. There is not universal agreement on there being only six schools. Some scholars consider the teachings of Buddha to be a seventh …

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