Karma Yoga

KARMA: actions

ASHUKLA: not white (not good, not pure) AKRISHNAM: not black (not bad. not impure) YOGINAS: of Yogis

TRIVIDHAM: are of 3 kinds, good, bad or mixed TARAYSHAM: in the case of others “The actions of Yogis whose minds have been transformed by meditation into Perfect Enlightenment (Kaivalya) are neither pure nor impure; in the case of others there are three kinds of mind: pure, impure, and mixed.”

The ideas of something being pure, impure or a little of both (mixed pure and impure), are simply that: ideas Our potential is to reach a state that reflects a true perception, not a conditioned perception. Ancient yogis used meditation and introspection to attain a state of mind that is transformed and becomes a vehicle for the spmt. Only then will liberation be attained. This is supported by so many traditions such Christianity, as in Psalms 46:10 ‘Be still, and know that I am God”.

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If we pay close attention to our mmd. we will notice that it is constantly judging, as anything perceived is automatically categorised into “good” or “bad*.

Go for a walk and watch the inner conclusions arising in reaction to all we see. We even judge our thoughts, as they too are considered either good or bad We can establish a practice of being present, with a still mind, free from mental conclusions and activity Understanding that the path to freedom is one that takes time, we can use all the tools at our disposal and make experiments.

With this in mind we choose the practice that best suits us for the present time.

We can also choose to practice Intrinsic worth, as a steppmgstone toward transcendence. This step is not to be underestimated and is quite an achievement in itself Yet, we simultaneously understand that our objective lies in a total transformation of mind and its dualistic mechanism. Once we are aware of this mechanism, we can gradually shift to inner silence, establishing a presence that is beyond mental concoctions. When we take steps toward this paradigm shift we will notice how much more present we are. how we breathe more deeply and how much greater is our appreciation of life. Life, just for what it is; as magic, enigmatic, splendid existence. From there comes the ultimate Self-confidence.

My friend is radiant, invigorated and glowing. 1 am deflated, defeated and dehydrated. The sweat runs down me in rivulets and I look like a Belisha beacon. 1 have just endured a sweat yoga class and it’s just not for me. My friend is extolling the virtues of her heated routine on her wellbeing – and her thighs. There’s no mistake it has done wonders for her. The wonderful thing about yoga is that with its diverse branches there is something for everyone. You can create a unique practice that brings you your own radiance. 1 get my ‘divine shine” through with Kundalini yoga, a more grounded (and less sweaty) practice, and plenty of meditation.

My friend glows with Bikram, while another is rejuvenated with cooling pranayama and relaxation after a strong hatha workout. Yoga and ayurveda are two sides of the same coin, creating an holistic lifestyle unique to each individual.

The reason we each respond differently to different styles of exercise has a lot to do with our distinct body types. These are differentiated in ayurveda, and symbiotically yoga has been developed to complement each type. An understanding of our body type – or dosha – helps us understand the effects of our yoga practice on both our gross and subtle bodies, as well as our physical, mental and spiritual energies. With this knowledge we can also adapt our practice to gain the greatest benefit to our body types. Our doshas give us a map of our body, mental state and emotions. We can see where our strengths and weaknesses lie.

It gives us insight into how best to direct our energy in yoga, in creative endeavours or simply planning our days around our fluctuating energy levels. When we understand our energy levels and how this energy – or prana – flows through the body, we can start trusting ourselves, our instinct and intuition to deliver what our bodies need. Generally we let our mind dominate, deciding what we need, what we eat and what we ‘should’ do – rather than by instinctively feeling it. David Frawley, who has written extensively on yoga and ayurveda, says. ‘We should learn to use the power of prana to direct our asana practice from within, making it a creative process.’ The way we approach our yoga practice is as important as the postures we choose. ‘The main thing is to use the asana as a vehicle for directing prana to the part of the body that one is seeking to benefit,” says Frawley. ‘Prana has the healing effect, not the asana by itself!” For some this means a slow, gentle practice, for others a vigorous workout.

Vata types with their long, thin bodies fall into two categories; those with great flexibility (the traditional yogis!) and those who are stiff and brittle. They tend to feel the cold, have stiff, cracking joints, and dry skin and hair. They are prone to fluctuating energy levels and changeable moods. Vata types need asana the most to prevent bone and flexibility problems, such as arthritis, in later life. Asana is also essential as the activity helps to calm their mind so afterwards they can sit peacefully in meditation. Vata types need to incorporate a thorough warm-up into their practice as they are the most likely to injure themselves by overdoing it or taking on too much too soon.

Vata influences the lower back, pelvic region and colon, and this is where most vata problems manifest; so it is essential to focus on this area of the body when practising. Keeping the spinal column flexible is essential too, so spinal twists will nourish as well as remove a build-up of excess vata from the nervous system.

Vata is dominated by the element air, so a focus on forward bends can immediately release excess dosha from the back and joints. Backbends must be done slowly as overexertion in this area will easily cause injury; they also tend to space out the already spacey vata person, so go slow and start with gentle backbends like cobra or locust. The main emphasis of a vata practice should be creating calm and stillness, so sitting in lotus or standing in tree pose are very beneficial. All practice should conclude with 20 minutes in corpse pose. Vata types need to take frequent rests and not exhaust themselves. The aim is to relax, not to create more tension by overexertion or a frantic pace which stirs the mind rather than calming it.

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