Sunday, September 30, 2012

Disturbed Night= No Morning Practice

Last night was a doozy for me. The little baby that is roaming around my insides decided it would be a neat/fun idea to cause me discomfort all night. It wasn't so much that he was moving or even kicking... he was PUSHING in all sorts of directions. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. My alarm went off at 6:00 this morning which inevitably was reset for 6:30, 7:00, and then 7:30. Lazy, I know. But at 7:30 I roused myself from bed and fixed a cup of coffee (I'm beginning to wonder if it's not the coffee that's doing me in; even though I've drank it throughout pregnancy). After that, I grabbed Iyengar's book Light on Yoga and headed for the front porch.

The rain could have another effect on my drowsy tendencies this morning as well, but either way I was content to sit on the porch to drink my coffee and read my book. I'm making it more slowly through this one than Maehle's book on pranayama. Mostly because I've never been good at reading multiple books at once. I like to delve myself into one particular book until it's finished, but I'm exploring two right now. Well if you count textbooks it's technically five books, but those aren't for fun or pleasure.

Anyways, my thoughts thus far on this wonderful book...

I would have loved to practice with or even be taught by Iyengar. His stance on yoga in this book fascinates me. I guess my fascination comes into play with the religious tie-ins throughout the text. While yoga is not based in religion and religion not necessarily based in yoga, there are a lot of things that coincide with one another from the two different aspects. 

For instance, when Iyengar begins his dictation of the eight limbs of yoga he, of course, begins with Yama (the first limb) and tells about each of the subheadings that fall within yama. The first of which is ahisma (non-violence). I guess because I'm Christian, I can find all the different facets/ways that these aspects of the limbs of yoga can relate to the ten commandments, because ahisma is similar to the commandment 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'. Iyengar writes, "the yogi believes that to kill or to destroy a thing or being is to insult its Creator." That line caught my eye and stuck with me. Only yoga takes it further than just killing. Ahisma also relates to harming others with words thoughts or deeds, and a yogi refrains from harming others in any way. He/she believes that, even though one may be evil, they can be brought to light and forgiven. A yogi is supposed to help others rather than subject them to prejudice. 

Sounds a lot like Jesus, does it not? Speaking of, Anthony Grim posted recently a blog concerning the Orthodox Church that is a pretty interesting read concerning Jesus and yoga. It can be found here

Next, after ahisma, the book moves into satya or truth. Kind of like the saying, "the truth shall set you free," the same concept applies here. However, Iyengar covers not only speech, but also thoughts. He describes four sins of speech though: "abuse and obscenity, dealing in falsehoods, calumny or telling tales and lastly ridiculing what others hold to be sacred" and then goes further to state, "the man firmly established in truth gets the fruit of his actions without apparently doing anything. God, the source of all truth, supplies his needs and looks after his welfare." To me, so far, this is all reminiscent of the Bible and all the things it describes for us from God. 

Moving forward though, we find asteya or non-stealing. This section, though, covers the act of not coveting anthers life, belonging, or attempting to take what others have. What shocked me the most, I think, was the fact that Iyengar even stated, "He who obeys the commandment Thou shalt not steal, becomes a trusted repository of all treasure." (My bold) So interesting to read it as I am making my own connections.

The next one I have a little trouble understanding. Bramacharya, while I understand it to mean the life of celibacy, religious study and self-restraint. The celibacy still throws me off. Mainly, because marriage isn't thwarted off, but encouraged because "without experiencing human love and happiness, it is not possible to know divine love." So my question is, basically, does one practice celibacy at certain times? Or is marriage, in itself, a form of celibacy since one is no longer tempted by others during bachelor/bachelorette life? The religious study and self-restraint aspect is a bit easier to understand. I think the only saving grace for a bit of understanding is when Iyengar writes, "the brahmachari will use the forces he generates wisely; he will utilize the physical ones for doing the work of the Lord, the mental for the spread of culture and the intellectual for the growth of spiritual life." 

Lastly, but certainly not least, we read about aparigraha or non-hoarding. My basic understanding of this sub-limb of Yama, means that one should not hold worldly possessions close to ones heart. Rid oneself of material attachments to become closer to God. He will provide us with all that we need and therefore do not need to hoard worldly attachments in an attempt to feel successful or even worthy of others approval. Many men/women crave the need for more objects and possessions and then will end up focusing more on their possessions than on the Lord. Relinquish all ties to this world because we are only a passing through as we make our way home to God. There are a lot of things that clutter our lives just as much as they clutter our home. Think of Spring cleaning as a way to rid yourself of attachments that aren't being used. If you go through your belongings and come across things that have dust on them or you haven't used them on a daily basis, chances are you're hoarding it merely because you want to keep it not because you're using it. Give it to someone else who you think might benefit from its use and keep moving with your daily life. 

I only made it through the discussion on Yama and felt it best to stop there and digest what I had read. I will work through Niyama tomorrow, either before or after my practice. I hope to be able to practice later this afternoon— if my body feels up to it at least. I was given some information pertaining to my discomfort in Utanasana and I'm going to give it a shot to see how it works out. Therefore, in substitution for Utanasana I'm going to try Malasana. It may or may not feel comfortable but it's worth a shot if I find myself feeling discomfort in Utanasana again.


  1. Many modern, "householder" yogis believe that Bramacharya deserves a modern interpretation. Iyengar himself had a wife and children!

    Some of the interpretations I've come across are:

    - Conserving sexual energy. For men, this is specifically about conserving sexual fluid, which is believed in some traditions to be the life-force of the body (so by conserving it, you get a longer life!). So basically, have sex, but don't have too much of it!

    - Engaging in healthy and mutually beneficial sexual relationships. Essentially, have sex as an act of love and union - not as a compulsion or compensation mechanism for low self-esteem / anger / jealousy and other negative emotions. This means that you are getting back what you give in love and energy.

    - Expending life energy in moderation. This interpretation takes Bramacharya beyond purely sexual energy and looks at it in terms of life energy. Basically it is saying that we only have so much life force, so choose wisely what you spend it on and try to live a moderate and balanced life that replenishes you as much - or more! - as it depletes you.

    1. THANK you for explaining Bramacharya in terms I can understand!! I assumed that it meant to not be frivolous in ones sexual life but wasn't completely sure. Heck, Iyengar even stated that it was recommended for a yogi to be married and have children because without those attachments he/she can't know love properly in order to love God. (I'm paraphrasing there of course)

      Maybe we can suggest to someone, like Gregor Maehle, to actually sit down and write a modern version of what Bramacharya actually means. ^ He's already written one on pranayama, so why not just continue and explore more eh?

      Thanks for reading and helping me out :). I'll be posting on the last three here soon and would love your input once I finish!