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Body & Mind Connection

Connection between body and mind is there all the time. In fact, according to the Yoga philosophy, first there is mind, then there is body. First comes thought and that thought has influence on the body. The mind comprises all the things that we desire and all the things we dislike; all our fears about not having enough and not being able to fulfil our desires. This is constantly at work even when we are asleep, through our dreams. The mind is its own entity and we cannot perceive how much influence it has on us.

First let us look into what the mind actually is and what effect the mind has on the body. Over fifty years ago Western society realised that all the malfunctions of the body were indeed related to the mind. This wisdom existed long ago but was popularised by Western philosophers or psychologists. The refusal of this fact is largely based on the desire to sell pharmaceuticals. If the mind is pacified and taken away from its wrong movements it no longer requires medical intervention. Anyone who meditates knows that thoughts produce certain sensations in the body. This is the basis of Vipassana meditation. Most of the time we are unable to watch our sensations because we are over stimulated. When we meditate we are able to see the rise of certain thought patterns and all the sensations that go with it. Other teachers such as BKS Iyengar, Ekhart Tolle and Krishnamurti - all supported these views in their work. The author Louise Hay cured herself of cancer by exploring how thought patterns affect physical health and which specific thought patterns create specific illnesses. This whole knowledge is what Yoga is about; the understanding that as long as the mind is the peace is not.

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Prostate Health & Yoga

Over a third of men over the age of 50 will experience some issues relating to the health of the prostate, statistics from the National Health Service in the UK, and yet it is a part of the anatomy most men are very unfamiliar with.

What is the prostate? The prostate is a small gland found only in men. It surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). It sits just below the bladder and the opening of the vas deferens (tube that carries sperm up from the testicles to the urethra).

What issues does it face and why? The prostate can become enlarged, a common occurrence in men over 50, and can put pressure on the urethra and effect the ability to urinate. It can become inflamed and sometime infected by bacteria. This is most common in men between 30 and 50. It is also susceptible to cancer. There is evidence to show that chronic tension caused by stress directly impacts the health of the prostate. Stress weakens the ability for the body to fight infection and lowers levels of minerals such as zinc, which causes enlargement of the prostate.

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What Does it Mean to Surrender to God

With weak aura you are like food. With strong aura nothing can affect you. It refers to the smallest forms of life like bacteria, that in fact is very simple life form that only think of food. Where it sees food there it goes.

The question to ask – are we susceptible to be eaten by different forms of manifested life forms, energy forms, thought forms, and other beings? Are we feeling affected by the things that are around us, by the environment, by the media, by our family and friends.

We can admit that things and life forms have certain properties. All can hook on other things. But only if there is a hook…

In Indian philosophy such hook is karma…

We cannot avoid karma as long as we are in the network of karma laws.

How do we step out of our karma? Surrender to God is the shortest way. There is no “you”, no personality, individuality, ego or self-centredness – and therefore there is no karma.

In that state we are free from any bondage, ideas, conditioning. We just allow the Nature to perform its laws through us without resistance and therefore with no harm to us. Our health is radiant, consciousness receives the highest frequencies of the Universe. Only Goodness and Love is penetrating us and manifested through us therefore. We only age & get sick as long as we resist the laws, trying to fight them. Once we let go, staying equanimously within, observing the life events unfold without being shaken out of our unmovable godly core, the life becomes pleasant, easy and light.

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Holistic Healing Through Sound and Awareness

Aum is the first sound. They say the sound came from God. And all was created from his word.

Sound can transform matter…

It can travel through space and time too…

Sound is like magic that people of the modern world are still able to perceive…

There is something in the sound that fascinates all of us…

You listen to the nature and everything changes…

Music that comes from God – like Indian classical music, with its ragas, human vocal, majestic veena instruments and subtle drums… – can manipulate the mood of those who listen to it. It is a very refined art that people still wholesomely are not really able to grasp.

Raag Bhimpalasi is devotional and to be performed late afternoon. Gaud-Sarang is a sunshiny, lively early-afternoon raga. Bhairavi is sweet and gentle often sung at the end of a long performance as a way of winding down.

Rasa or emotion is associated with a raga — a raga like Puriya is meditative, while the same set of notes with different emphasis in Raga Marwa create a restless energy.

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Aura and the Harmony in our Body

When your aura is weak, the air born bacteria can enter your system. When you strengthen your aura (by relaxing the body and expanding your awareness) nothing negative can enter your system. It’s like a ball of light encompassing you. Aura has many colours (respectively extruded from your body). Green aura is from the liver support, blue aura from the kidneys, red one from the heart etc. If you let negative emotions weaken any organ it automatically reflects in your aura.

People have different colours predominant in their auras. It is due to their work or life style, belief system, conditioning. How they use the body, what they think. Scientists tend to have blue aura. Healers who are ascended masters will have golden aura. Funnily enough the doctors nowadays have blue aura and not even yellow (which would be closer to the saint healers, angels, holy guides).

Through the yoga practice we are able to stimulate heat as well as encourage coolness. Excess heat in the head as well as in the heart is dangerous. This excess heat should be stored in the lower abdomen. On this example from the holistic healing system we see that we can heal the body simply by harmonising the temperatures in our body in different parts. Regulating the temperatures of the respective organs will show healthy reflection of these organs on the aura.

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Understanding Nature to Understand Myself through Yoga & Permaculture

I am living evidence of my connection to Nature. When I walk out into the cold and look down to my bare arms I see the hairs on my skin standing up. In the heat of summer my skin begins to sweat. There is a direct connection between my physical body and the external world. Spending time connecting with Nature I realise how many patterns we share. The pores of my skin interlock like the scales of a pinecone; the bronchiole of my lungs branch out like tree branches; when I stretch my toes forward and press my heels down my trunk rises up, just as the trunk of a tree rises up from its roots.

As a specie we are rapidly losing out connection with Nature and our sensitivity to its inherent intelligence. I may feel this as I begin exploring the work of my feet in my practice of the Standing Poses: toes may be numb or frozen from years of blocking their connection to the Earth by encasing them in shoes. When I am out of touch I lose sensitivity and understanding.

Permaculture observes principles found in nature to guide us to rebuild this understanding. I can use these principles to reflect on my practice of Yoga and recognise its potential to connect me to the Natural world...

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Peacefulness Is Our True Nature

Peacefulness is our true nature, but because of all our wishes and desires that peace disappears. The path of yoga is the path of going back to the source, which is this peace.  On the elemental level this body, this mind and everything comes from Space, which in the Chinese terminology is called the Sky. From this, the body, the mind and the consciousness manifest. And the path of wisdom is to return back to this freedom, this space, which is peace. The sooner we realise that, the more useful our life becomes. The sooner we realise that our journey is actually back to the source of our being, the more useful our life becomes. Otherwise at the time of death we are still full of desires and wishes. And according to the Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, at the time of death the consciousness that remains is the one that takes birth in the next body. If there are more desires present when we die we will be born with a consciousness full of those very same desires in the next life. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense why some people are born poor and the others are born rich, and with different levels of intelligence. Use this time to transform, to create space in yourself, to connect to the peace which is in all of us.

Master Yoga Teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from Introductory 5-Day Yoga Course in Beijing, Day 4 June 2016.

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Realisation of What is NOT True

The process of yoga is to lose false identification with the sense of ‘I’ as we experience it, or ‘asmita’, as Patanjali calls it. There are 5 things which stop us from seeing the truth. These are fear, hatred, our desires, our sense of pride, ego, and ignorance about what is true. Until this is realised we are ignorant. We are ignorant until we realise how these 5 keep us in constant unhappiness.

What is the true path to liberation and being happy? All of us think that we are interested in getting the latest model of phone or car and that this will make us happy. But that happiness lasts a very short time and then again, we are unhappy. Just reflect. There is no limit to all the things that we want. Desire is insatiable, unable to fulfil itself. So, a lot of people spend their whole life pursuing their desires but never find lasting happiness. This is in the teachings of Patanjali, the father of yoga. We spend our whole life running after this and running after that. We have to see this is not the path and realise it, not as a philosophy but as an actual realisation.

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Yoga Is About Living Peacefully

The origin of yoga was in India, but it is absolutely universal. It applies to every human being. Unfortunately, and we see this all the time, yoga has become a way to be more flexible, strong and agile, but that’s not at all what yoga is about. It’s about living peacefully, it’s about learning how to be happy. If you want to be happy, getting into lotus pose or being able to stand like this on the head or taking your legs here or there doesn’t help. What that will do is increase your ego and separate you from the others, causing more suffering, and this is the opposite of happiness.

Patanjali is a great sage who wrote down the yoga sutras. According to Patanjali a pose is to be done in a way where one is stable and easy in a pose. Therefore, as long as you are struggling the pose is not working. When your struggle stops the pose starts to work. Everyone has a very strange idea about what yoga is. They think that the more I struggle the better the yoga is working. Many people are used to doing very hard practice and creating all kinds of tension. Nothing comes out of tension. Only tension comes out of tension. If you sow rice you won’t get corn. You put tension in your poses you will get tension. We have to learn how to be relaxed all the time and from that relaxation we make our action. This was the first teaching of Lao Tzu which is more than 2500 years back, which means to go with the flow and not to resist. In our present times we are so fearful that all the time we have resistance and create tension. For this reason we do not want to create more tension, rather we want to learn how to do things well without tension.

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8 Unearthing Abundances with Yoga and Permaculture

Permaculture and Yoga are two systems which give guidance for how to live integrated, balanced lifestyles. In this article I will explore how the two systems speak similar languages and what they can reveal to us on the topics of abundance and wealth.

Permaculture has it’s roots in farming. It’s pioneer, Bill Mollison, in the 60s began to explore holistic approaches to design for agriculture, many of which had been employed by our ancestors for years but brushed by the wayside to make space for industrial mass food production. The Permaculture approach recognises that humans are but one element amongst many, in a vast and complex system of life, and that for our survival to be secured we must understand and respect our place within it. Since its conception permaculture has become a design philosophy which has multitudinous applications, from land, to community, to the self.

In a technical sense Yoga refers to a far reaching range of ‘values, attitudes and techniques that has developed in India over the past five millennia’. The word ‘Yoga’ comes from the verbal root ‘to yoke’, implying ‘union’. Amongst many definitions yoga can be equated to a state of ‘ecstasy’ in which one becomes liberated. George Feuerstein, in his book ‘The Yoga Tradition’ succinctly describes how ‘liberation is not a technique but a way of being in the world without being of it’. This suggests having an understanding of the systems of this earth without being overly reliant on them. Yoga shares a common aim with Permaculture for finding unity in the world through a deep understanding of oneself, one’s environment and our higher purpose within it.

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Problem Solution

We all encounter problems in life, big ones and small ones. We can get engrossed in the difficulty of the problem and it seems as though we have no option but to turn the other way and run. Within every problem that we encounter, though, there is a lesson to be learnt which is especially apt to us individually. If we think of a map, the problems are like the turning points in the route to where we need to go. If we keep diverting the problem we end up walking in circles, ending up again and again at the same spot.

Within every problem there is a solution. All too often we are concerned only with the problem. To use physical ailments as an example, when an imbalance emerges in the body it is possible to accept it as something that we have to endure and allow it becomes a part of us, a part of our story. With this attitude we deny our agency in matters relating to health. Whatever the reason, whether it is fear of engaging with problem or lack of curiosity to explore it more deeply, we limit our growth and our potential. When we experience imbalance in the body we have a choice to find solutions.

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To Be Free in an Unfree Society

Let’s first specify what is freedom and what is not. We have certain freedoms in our society. We don’t live in tyranny and we can talk freely. However, we are not talking about the surface, we want to go deeper. Let’s find out in our life whether there are some forces from society, but also within ourselves that push us into doing things.

Are we free? Am I free to do the things I want to do, to think what I want to think, to go the way I want to go? In society, there are certain norms I have to follow. For instance, if I belong to the Hindu religion, I am expected to behave in a certain manner and I am being judged if I do not act accordingly. If I am a Christian, it is the same. My neighbours are observing: is this person going to church? Is this person doing this or that? We have that social pressure on us. Of course, I can always claim to be free and try to live a life which I call freedom not doing what I am expected to do. Does this bring peace in me? No. It does not because now I have to face people who are surrounding me and I can feel their rejection. I am expected to follow a certain line and “I” decide that “I” want to be free so “I” don’t follow this line and this creates tensions within myself. Generally, this state does not last very long and little by little we start doing some things, some even that we do not want to do. We have to do things for our parents. There are things we have to do, some duties such as meeting with our parents at least once a year, and then on that Christmas or whatever meeting, there is fear. What are they going to tell me? I have been told that at Christmas there is often a fear of explosion; everyone will express all the things they are unhappy about and “I” have to take that shower. Have you faced something like this? If not from your family, from your friends or neighbours? Therefore, what do we do? We say that it is better to follow than to create conflicting feelings within ourselves. Hence society’s expectations on us, on every one of us is not allowing us to be who we are.

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How to Deal with Conflicts?

How to deal with conflicts? How to behave in a conflicting situation in which another person is being angry or aggressive towards me? I might be able to manage the situation within myself but not the other person; hence, how can I stop the other person’s anger?

To answer this question, I will tell you the story of the Buddha. There was an elephant who had become mad and broke his chains. In his anger, he destroyed the whole village and of course took some lives. When it approached the Buddha, instead of running away like others, He just stood steal, he did not react. There were no fears; He stood steal because from Himself there was no fear, only love and compassion. Immediately the elephant stopped and became calm.

Are there any ways that we can behave when someone is being aggressive? If you run away from your oppressor, he will think you are afraid. The Buddha just stood there and that calmed the elephant. The elephant lost it. Many times in life we lose it.

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How to be Present in our Lives to Find Freedom within Ourselves

What does it mean to be present in our lives? To understand what presence is, let’s first understand what being un-present means. We are often not in the present moment because we are driven by our fears and stay in our minds. Because our thoughts are not here and now, but somewhere in the future or in the past, we are missing incredible opportunities.

For instance, I am walking through a beautiful landscape but I am unable to see its beauty because I am having a conflict with my partner and I am arguing on how things should have been or should be etc. What a paradox! I am in a wonderful place but I am not in a wonderful place simultaneously. The view is breath-taking, and I am thinking, reviewing what I will say when I will be back from my walk and I have missed the whole opportunity of an amazing communion with nature. All this because I am unable to let go! Unable to be there! My mind, my fears are driving me away from the present moment. I am visiting a new city but I am not able to enjoy it because I am looking at how the rickshaw driver is driving; because I am really scared. Is that justified to be scared? My mind will find all sort of narration to justify my fears: “yes, it is normal to be scared, he is driving so fast etc”. In constantly doing so, I end up not knowing what it means to be there, in complete honouring of this moment. Even if it is not a fabulous view or an exciting place to visit, learn how to HONOUR THE PRESENT MOMENT, whatever it is, it does not matter how banal it is.
What matters is what is happening now. People are struggling to be in the present moment: Something very vital is happening, I need to attend to it, and I think that by being all in my mind, I am attending to it. But who is attending to it? A confused person. The person who has multiple desires that are conflicting with each other. Is that person really attending to the situation? And we go on like this. Attending, sort to say, to things which are “important” and the day is gone. And the next day again, we attend to other “important things”. Alternatively, I divert myself and I resort to amusement in which I am taking my mind away from the situation, from this present moment. I am taking myself purposely away. I am not saying it is bad. I listen to music, I go drumming etc. We all have our things and we never deal with the situation by learning how to be with the situation as it is, especially if it is not very pleasant. We try to avoid it, to put it aside. But is that the way? Is diversion ok? It is ok to relax yourself a little bit? You can convince yourself that it is ok and your situation will remain the same: days in and days out, your situation does not change and you carry on struggling with your life.

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Intensive Yoga Course is to Work on Awareness

Control is the next step; monitoring means to have the mind interfering with the thought or the world or your actions and I am asking you to just be aware that there are many things that happen with awareness. As soon as you become aware, you want to change something because you think that it is not right; and who is that is thinking? Who is thinking that this is not right? It’s your mind. The mind is useful but never in this sense where it guides our hand into everything… So, your two weeks of intensive, this is how this is intensive! Because you are going to immerse your attention into yourself. It is difficult in a place like Goa with all the distractions immediately as you go out of the centre. What to do... We are where we are, but if you want to work on yourself intensively, which I hope is the case. And you are going to ask yourself - is this the case? Then you are in the right place. Understand. You cannot do deep work just by being with the body; it’s gross. How deep will you go? But if you are willing to take on also the mind - this makes a change. Then what happens when we become aware? Things start to change automatically and it does not matter whether the results are positive; that does not matter: what matter is that I gave my total attention to it; that is what matters and we do not do that often. I am trying to make you see the two weeks ahead of us. I am not interested in pushing you around; why should I? I said the theme for this course; I am setting the theme; the rest is up to you. If you are honest, you go far, and if you are not, you stay where you are, it is up to you. I indicate, go this way, this is the way of the intensive work on yourself. So, let’s spend our two weeks aware.

Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora
Arambol Yoga Centre, North Goa, March 2012

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How to Release Back Pain through Yoga?

Let’s first examine what a normal back is like, then go into what a diseased back is and see how pain starts arising. Finally, we will explain how the yoga we are practicing in this centre takes this pain out.

So, how does a normal back looks like? We have two humps in our back: One at the top of the shoulder and the other in the buttocks area. This is how normal back looks like, as long as the spine maintains its rightful curve. The moment these curves change, it becomes imbalanced. We spent all our life bringing our back in non-balance.

Gravity does not spare anyone; look at a coconut tree, this defies nature. If your spine is imbalanced, gravity will still act on your spine and pull you down. Now something has to hold.

Try to resist gravity to maintain your back straight; those are called tensions, and when tensions stay on for a long time they become painful. How do we get rid of this pain?

Our back has become tight and has lost the capabilities for knowing what is straight because of bad habits. Bad habits come from our thinking process. If bad habits were only coming from the body it would be easy to correct. The habit of mental process means “how I think”; we all have a direction of thought; that direction of thought is inspired/influenced by the things that are important for us in our lives such as our desires, our fears all the things we like and dislike etc. Hence, in order to be aligned and to heal a painful back, the first thing to deal with is the mind. We need to take away the mental causes creating imbalances. Why do you think that most physiotherapies do not last long? Because they do not deal with the mind; hence, the old bad posture comes back. Actually, any diseases or pains are stemming from habit pattern of thinking. Fortunately for us, the yogis figured this out long back before science came.

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Questions & Answers New & Continuing Students

New students’ questions.

Q: Would it be worse doing the continuing week if I only have two-three days as I have to leave early this week.
A: Once you have done the first 5 days you have an introduction to everything that we teach. After that, we allow people to come for only two or three days of the continuing weeks if they wish.

Q: In case I have one hour to exercise, should I do continue three poses for 20 min or should 6 poses 10 min each?
A: Sir, if you had asked: I have only 5 minutes what shall I eat, it is the whole thing, take your time. Anyone who eats fast will have indigestion; it’s a wholesome practice; put it all in one, do the whole thing preferentially in the morning, you never know what happens in the evening. I suggest that you do one hour and a half by getting up earlier in the morning. Regarding standing poses you can do them 2 min each. One minute on each side. Suptavirasana minimum 5 minutes, shoulder stand minimum 10 minutes. Otherwise things do not work.

Q: I have a question about food. Is there a diet that could make the body more flexible?
A: What’s your concern about flexibility?

Q: I felt that being flexible would help me with my yoga. If my body is more flexible then the mind would be more...

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What Does Self-Care Really Mean in Yoga Practice?

What matters most in the process of Yoga is a state of relaxation and an attitude of care. You are learning how to be relaxed in your action. The way in which you practise Yoga should be of great concern.

If you keep plants at home and you care for them they are bound to flourish and grow. The same is true for the body. If you care for your body lovingly through your Yoga practice, then it will grow and become powerful and strong. The same is true for any living thing. When you give it loving care it will be nourished, without a doubt. If you are careless and use fertilisers and pesticides on your beloved plants then they will suffer. Accordingly, if you are out of touch with the needs of your body, and are unaware of its need for nutrition, cleanliness, and daily maintenance it will suffer as a result. Equally, if you feed your body with negative thoughts, judging how it looks with an attitude of worry and stress then, of course, it will suffer. Learn to care less about how you think it should look and care more about how it should be maintained. Just as you avoid putting unnecessary additives onto your plants, apply the same principle to your body, whether the additives are in the form of chemical medicines or toxic thoughts. Learn to give care to your body in every way including through right practice of Yoga.

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Yoga Puppetry - Yoga Karunta!

Yoga Karunta, also known as “yoga puppetry” is a wonderful tool to help students who have very tense and tight shoulders and imbalances in the shoulders itself with an additional benefit that it wakes you up. The movement brings the shoulders into balance by putting things into the correct place. It is a full rotation and powerful movement for the shoulders and must be practiced with awareness and control. Doing Yoga Karunta is like driving on the highway, you have to be very careful of what you are doing. At first the student needs to be in the presence of a teacher or capable assistant to ensure that they are doing it right for at least two to three weeks. Shoulders are one of the most unstable and complicated joints in the body. They are the most difficult and worst to repair. People with serious shoulder injuries need to dedicate two to three months of Yoga Therapy at the Centre with Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora for healing to happen and before attempting Yoga Karunta.

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Organs of Action in Iyengar Yoga

The hands and feet are the organs of action in the body. In Sanskrit this is called - Karma Indriya. The action in the feet has a direct effect on the alignment of the spine and body and it also influences how we breath. Refining the action in the feet brings clarity towards an experience in the stretch of the whole abdomen in all the standing postures. If the right action occurs, and the pose is done correctly all imbalances start to dissipate.  In order for this technique to work effectively it is vital that the stretching of the toes is done in conjunction with the pressing down of the centre of the heel. The entire sole of the foot is felt through stretching the toes up and this action makes the centre of the heel more accessible.

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Sharat Arora
03 October 2016
Yoga Master Teacher Sharat AroraPhilosophy Paraphrased, Adapted and Edited 10 December 2013Combined Introductory and Continuing Class, Day 5 To be quiet and peaceful is our right. Exercise this right ...