Yoga is often defined as the union between our lower self and our Higher Self. The "higher" or transcendental Self is referred to as purusha, or pure and unchanging spirit. The lower self is generally referred to as the ego or asmita and is concerned mainly with one's individual thoughts, body and senses, all of which are changing. It is the clinging to that which is changing that brings about suffering. Alternately, remembering who we truly are, via connection to the Self, brings about the inner peace that Yoga seeks. In this article, we invite you to allow your physical Yoga practice to become your spiritual practice. "Spiritual" refers to how we connect to something larger than ourselves-it is the union of our lower and Higher Self.
Dr. Bob Butera
This Yogic saying holds a key universal truth about learning. Regardless of age, social class or ethnic background, information can be presented to a student, and then the student must choose to learn what is set before them. Developing a readiness to learn in students is the art that all good teachers practice.
The Western model of cramming information into the minds of young children so that they can regurgitate it for testing purposes effects minimal change – perhaps even creating a disrespect for the learning process itself. For example, dictating to a child that they will follow a yoga pose routine to help increase concentration, improve grades and make themselves a better athlete is not likely to elicit a positive response. The same is true for most adults.
One of my primary roles as a trainer of Yoga teachers is to counsel people who are coming up against negative emotions or opinions towards others.
When someone has a strong negative reaction to another person, I often lead the person toward examining the situation from an internal perspective, and ask them to see what in them is causing their reaction. This is a common process, and one that many people are not used to, so I often find myself saying, “What you think about others is what you think about yourself.” This approach is a paradigm shift for many people, and because of this, I am often asked to explain the concept in greater detail.
“When the restraints (non-attachment, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, non-greed) and Observances (purity, contentment, self-discipline, spiritual study, faith) are inhibited by perverse thoughts, the opposites should be thought of.”
In traditional schools of Classical Yoga, an earnest student would spend a minimum of three years learning the practice of ethical living, as outlined by The Yoga Sutras in the form of the Yama (restraints), and Niyamas (observances). In order to achieve these practices, students would spend their time reflecting on their behaviors in order to deepen their emotional understanding.
To bring full awareness to an emotion, one must attempt to go deeper in order to examine the issue beneath the emotion. This is not an easy process – it takes a lot of patience, fortitude and a willingness to move beyond attachment to the emotion itself. A strong emotion, when carried over time can become a limiting belief structure. Transmuting a negative emotion means cultivating the ability to focus on positive emotion in place of a negative one. It is called Practicing the Opposite. There are seven major emotional states, and each has it’s opposite.
If you have the privilege to watch a child take his first step, you have witnessed raw creativity happening. The child joins the vertical human race and experiences a new perspective on reality. Their newly upward mobile position in life is full of potential.
As this same child progresses, there are many firsts: first day of school, first love, first heartbreak, first competition, first job and first visit to a far-away place. When the child transitions into adulthood, life offers less and less “first” experiences. While life is always changing, it is very easy for us to resist the change and get stuck in a routine. When we get stuck in the dryness of a routine we can lose our youthful essence and forget about the potential exploration that comes along with new experience.