Articles derived from yogacharya Sharat Arora (Anand Sagar) Teachings

The Importance of Dreams

One thing is certain - nothing comes without a reason. Everything has a cause and so do dreams.

Western scientists say dreams lay in the sphere of subconsciousness. In Yoga there is a state called pratyahara where there is no stimulation and spiritual life starts. Once you stop providing inputs, nothing should catch your senses. This is when you start to work on the deeper conditionings, samskaras – impressions that our actions, intentions or experiences leave in the deeper structure of our mind.

Dreams do not just come by chance. They are another way to work with samskaras. There is a sutra that says you can use dreams to look in to your conciousness. In pranayama we are preparing for this research.

Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the Intensive Yoga Course at the
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre in Arambol, North Goa, 2000

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What Should Our Daily Practice Look Like?

In the hectic western life, 2 hours of daily Hatha Yoga practice should be done to get most benefits. There are two stages – energizing and deconditioning. You need energy for deconditioning and living with clarity. The upside down poses are energizers. When you have taken tensions away, you decondition and then recharge yourself with Hanging Sirsasana and Shoulderstand.

Do standing poses every day, every second day backbends or twist and forwardbends.

Give pranayama at least half an hour and always do Viparitakarni before that. Pranayama shouldn’t be done immediately after asanas with the exception of Viparitakarani.

You cannot do pranayama without asanas. The other way around is possible. Hatha Yoga texts say that asana is absolutely essential – it is the first practice.

Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the Intensive Yoga Course at the
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre in Arambol, North Goa, 2000

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The Purpose of Pranayama

During Yoga practice, many postures do not seem to be a natural thing to do. We do them in order to get rid of the unnatural. Similarly, the technique of pranayama is not a natural thing to do, but the result is that it takes away unnaturalness in our lives, in our bodies, in our breath and in our mind. Pranayama brings naturalness in our body through alignment.
The breath is a manifestation of life and the purpose in doing pranayama is to understand life and yourself better.

How to prepare for pranayama?
The imbalances in our lives, the conditioned reactions are reflected in our body in the form of tensions and changed structure. Tensions are caused by contractions which, in turn, are caused by fear. Most creatures contract when they are afraid – it is a basic reaction of all animals.
Therefore, in order to undo those tensions, we stretch and we relax. Our body is a battlefield and in the postures a war is being waged. Asanas prepare the body for pranayama.

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Religions, Spirituality and Yoga

Are religions, not churches or temples, spiritual paths? By pointing out similarities between different religions we will find out whether they can lead to spirituality. We will also see if the same qualities exist in Hatha Yoga.

So, what are the common features?

  • Surrender to something bigger or higher then yourself. All religions speak of surrender. If there is a religion that doesn’t have it, it is Buddhism. From the East to the West, all religions believe in a higher spirit, they just have a different name.
  • Prayer - one of the things coming from surrender is prayer.
  • Trust and faith -  faith is a concept, while trust is an experience. In order for faith to happen, belief has to be there. Belief is part of the spiritual path. Unless you have faith you will not have trust. Trust in an experiental thing. We have to surrender to have faith.
  • The attainment of a higher state as a goal. It is based on freedom from suffering, mysery and unhappiness.
  • Love is an element of religion if it means compassion. It is more a product, a result of religion.
  • Dedication is part of practice.
  • The founder and the scriptures.
  • A moral ethics, a code of conduct.
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How Do The Yoga Postures Work (The Physiological Effects Of Asanas)?

Postures deal with the mind, body and spirit. The easiest of these is to understand how they work on the body.

Stretching and elongating is the very first quality of postures.

Every day tensions build up and cause hardness of the muscles. This, in turn, blocks circulation. All yoga postures work on circulation in two ways: by stretching and by blocking it in one part and increasing it in another part. Blood is life: it carries oxygen, glucose, and takes waste matter away. When a muscle works, it uses nutrition and releases uric acid. Therefore, blood is the provider and the purifier.

The circulatory system is connected to the lungs, to the respiratory system, which help clean the blood.

Moreover, the digestive system has to work in order to provide the nutrients e.g. liver which stores the nutrients.

All in all, in order for health to be, all the organs, including the brain, have to work and be in the state of balance, homeostasis.  

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