SweatyYaya is a blog created to help Yoga St. Louis Intro students with building a home practice. SweatyYaya is a memorable mispronunciation of the Sanskrit word: svadhyaya. Svadhyaya is the practice of self-study and is one of the niyamas (observances) presented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.


This blog is for information only and should not be considered medical advice of any kind.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday 6.30p Intro — Week 3 (November 17, 2009)

Focus: Opening the armpits in standings, and applying yamas to practice.

Note new poses for this week are in bold face.

Discussion: Patanjali Yoga Sutra II.30-39 — The Yamas
What is Ethical Yoga Practice?
The five yamas are the ethical precepts of yoga. By listing them as the first limb of astanga yoga, they assume “pride of place” as the very foundation of spiritual illumination (samadhi). Even though yoga has been appropriated through the ages to accomplish the needs of various religions and cultures, yoga stands on its own. These “mighty vows” are the basis for yoga’s universal appeal.

PYS II.30 Ahimsa - satya - asteya - brahmacarya - aparigrahah - yamah
Non-violence - truth - non stealing - continence - non possessiveness (non greediness) (are the self) restraints.

PYS II.31 (Yamas are the) universal vows unconditioned by class, place (or) time.

Patanjali earlier stated that the intelligence exists solely to serve as the agent of the soul, to free the citta from spiritual ignorance [PYS II.21]. Thus, BKS Iyengar characterizes yoga as a spiritual practice that takes its direction from the soul:

“Spirituality is... the inner passion and urge for Self-realization and the need to find the ultimate purpose of our existence.... If the principles of yama are not followed, we deliberately act as murderers of the soul. As beginners we may try to control only our bad habits. But, as time progresses, the dictates of yama become impulses of the heart.”
[B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2005. p. 251]

“Ethical living... develops a feeling of oneness between man and nature, between man and man, and between man and his Maker, thus permitting the experience of a feeling of identity with the spirit that pervades all creation.... To draw closer to one’s soul is also to live more and more by the dictates of one’s conscience.”
[B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2005. p. 249]

The purpose of existence, how the intelligence serves the soul, and the soul residing in the spiritual heart are all topics covered in the Monday 4.30p Intro — Week 8 (April 20, 2009) Intro Class.

Patanjali’s next two sutras convey how the yoga practitioner must put these ethical precepts into practice, and what happens if he doesn’t do so:

PYS II.33 Vitarka - badhane pratipaksha - bhavanam
The principles which are against yama and niyama are to be counteracted with the knowledge of discrimination (or right knowledge and awareness).

PYS II.34 Uncertain knowledge (vitarka) giving rise to violence... is caused by greed, anger and delusion.... It result in endless pain (duhkha) and ignorance (ajnana).

BKS Iyengar explains pratipaksha - bhavanam, literally “cultivating the opposite,” and how to apply yama to asana:

“If you are acting over-aggressively in one side of your body, you are murdering (himsa) the cells on that side. By restoring energy to the weaker, passive side, you are learning to balance violence and non-violence. When the shape of the asana expresses the shape of the self, without forcing, deception, or distortion, then you have learned the truth (satya) in asana.... When a practitioner feels in asana that his intelligence is flooding his whole body throughout the sheaths, he experiences a self-contained wholeness, an integrity of being. He feels himself rise above outer attachments. That is the quality of celibacy [brahmacarya ] in action.”
[B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2005. p. 56

“[Ahimsa means] not to harm: you should not be violent, but be supple.”
[B.K.S. Iyengar, Sparks of Divinity, Noelle Perez-Christiaens [ed.], Institut de Yoga B.K.S. Iyengar, Paris, 1976. P.79]

“When there is strain, it is physical yoga. When the brain is passive, it is spiritual yoga.”
[B.K.S. Iyengar, Sparks of Divinity, Noelle Perez-Christiaens [ed.], Institut de Yoga B.K.S. Iyengar, Paris, 1976. P.298

“Ethics come from inside ourselves [but] ...get distorted by contact with society. This disturbs the consciousness (citta) as well as the conscience (antahkarana).... Yoga trains us away from our selfish, brutal motives and shows us how to complete our responsibilities.”
[B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2005. p. 250]

As a burgeoning awareness arises through the process of self-study, the yoga practitioner becomes aware that involvement with worldly objects involves endless trouble — such as gaining, guarding, losing, and consequent grief. Detachment from desires [vairagya — PYS I.15] allows those objects of enjoyment to exist without distracting the mind.

The results of yoga practice are then described in the next five sutras:

PYS II.35 (When one is) firmly established in ahimsa (non violence, there is) abandonment of hostility (in) one’s presence.

PYS II.36 (When one is) firmly established in satya (truthfulness), (his speech accords with reality and, therefore,) his words are realized (come to fruition or become true: phala).

PYS II.37 (When one is) firmly established in asteya (non stealing), all precious jewels come (to him — not the least of which is virtue—BKS).

PYS II.38 (When one is) firmly established in brahmacarya (continence), vigor (valor, knowledge and energy—BKS) flows to him.

PYS II.39 (When one is) steady in aparigrahah (lack of greed for possessions), knowledge of past and future lives unfolds (and one realizes the true meaning of life: “what I am” and “what I am meant for”—BKS).

Invocation in Swastikasana

1. Tadasana/Samasthiti
a. Arms down, triceps strong to descend the shoulders.

2. Tadasana (Paschima Baddhanguliyasana arms)

3. Tadasana (Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana)

4. Tadasana (Paschima Baddha Hasta arms)

5. Urdhva Hastasana
a. Extend the biceps to open the armpits. Extend the radial wrist, thumbs away from the inner elbows, to extend the biceps more.

6. Tadasana (Gomukhasana arms)
a. Skipped for time and emphasis.

7. Utthita Hasta Padasana
a. Outer left heel down. Left inner thigh towards outer thigh to spread the legs.

8. Parsva Hasta Padasana
a. Keep the outer left heel down and left inner thigh towards the bone to make turning the right leg out very light.

b. When turning, do not lose the opening of the sternum towards the shoulders.

9. Utthita Trikonasana
a. Take the hand down only as far as the chest remains open.

b. Paschima Baddha Hasta arms to prevent shoulder pain.

10. Virabhadrasana II
a. Keep the outer left heel down and left inner thigh towards the bone to keep the trunk in the middle.

11. Utthita Parsvakonasana

12. Vrksasana
a. Like hands in namaskar: Right knee at wall to press right sole into left inner thigh. Entire outer right leg presses into right foot.

b. Open from the inner right groin towards the inner right knee.

13. Virabhadrasana I
a. Inadvertently omitted.

14. Utkatasana
a. Turn the outer arms in to lift the pubic plate. Lift up the biceps to open the armpits.

15. Parsvottanasana
a. Concave back: hands on chair seat

b. Extended phase: head on chair seat

16. Prasarita Padottanasana
a. Concave back: Hands on bricks.

b. Extended phase: Head down on a brick.

17. Baddha Hasta Uttanasana
a. To straighten the knee, lift both the kneecap and the back thigh up, away from the knee, to make the knee light.

b. Inadvertently omitted.

18. Forward Extensions
a. Dandasana

b. Padangustha Dandasana

19. Chair Sarvangasana

20. Savasana

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