14 April 2018

Why maintain?

I sometimes feel like a broken record as from time to time, I post something similar to this. But, it does concern me, and I know that it bothers others, also.

Yoga is a way of life

Yoga is not only a philosophy, but also the yogas are practices, which, ideally, yoga spiritual aspirants, and yoga teachers, (the two are not mutually inclusive!) do regularly. As a way of life.

Understanding how and why this is done, is probably more important than people realise. It is about 'walking one's talk', and also about maintaining.

Why maintain?

Maintaining what? Maintaining the ability to bend, twist, and so forth. And also, maintaining one's energy and health levels. If you are a yoga teacher who is into the poses mostly, then it's important to be able to keep doing the poses that you are teaching. If you are teaching deep spirituality, then spouting advice and dogma is not the way to go. Doing some spiritual practices regularly is.

Yes, it is, whether it's physically or spiritually based. Maintaining wherever possible.

When not to maintain

Of course there are times where you doing your downward dogs isn't as important as a great difficult life event that requires all of your time and energy. Or, when one is unwell. 

To me, and I learnt the hard way about this, it just doesn't make sense to do asanas, pranayama, or even meditation when one is too sick or has a high temperature. This is the time that we need to rest in order to restore.

And, similarly, when there is tragedy, or we are so churned up inside - I truly think that coping the best that you can, is better than trudging through a sadhana. I recall trying to do bramari (humming breath) when I was shaking so much with distress. What a joke, of course it didn't work! Whereas, bramari is touted as specific for calming oneself down. And as for meditating when your stomach is churning - I think not.

Why maintenance matters on other levels

What maintaining does do when these moments are upon is, is enable us to handle things better, if it's something that affects us emotionally, and, in the case of sickness, our immune system gets stronger with sadhana, and we are less susceptible to maladies.

But what do we need to do?

The trick is, what to do to maintain?

I often recall, with a considerable amount of humour, a particular time when I was training yoga teachers. When it came time for the trainees to do 12 rounds of namaskaras (salutes) each day, one person, nilamani.wright, had it figured out beautifully. With less stress than anyone else. We had taught a number of namaskaras, some of which you did once, and that was a round. Some were sun (surya) salutations (namaskaras) which required doing twice to make a round, and this is what most people were doing, as it was the culture of that particular yoga school to do surya namaskara that way.

                                      Image result for surya namaskara
(doing surya namaskara this way, you do it twice for one round, alternating legs in the lunges)

Nilamani did 6 rounds of namaskaras, each morning and evening - and most of these were the 'do once for one round' kinds. And what a wonderful similar method a person could use to maintain.

I always did the Rishikesh Surya Namaskara, for decades, whereby a kneeling lunge is used instead of a jump-back, and instead of a jump-forward. So, this is the two times = one round system, as one is alternating the leg used for lunges. 

But, a few years ago, I started doing an easy modified namaskara, which was based on the Ashtanga surya namaskara A, then another modification of it, then sometimes an easy modification of surya namaskara B, and finally a kneeling salute. I was doing them for maintenance, and it took maybe 10 - 12 minutes, doing each 2-3 times or so. And, to be honest, this was inspired by Nilamani, all those years ago.

Image result for cat pose yoga 
         cat pose - wakes up our nervous system
   Image result for cobra pose yoga  Image result for child pose yoga
          cobra promotes deep breathing                                       child calms

But, doing some flexibilities, or some simple poses like cat, cobra, child: these might  suffice for you. Simple makes it easy to succeed.

Even people doing advanced practices, like kriyas for deep spirituality, after some time, they end up doing just a few, regularly, as maintenance.

Maintenance of what? In this case, it is maintenance of the spiritual gains: calmer emotions and mind; increased happiness; increased relaxed focus; increased prana (life-force) levels; healthier body. And these gains also make us flexible and supple, so asanas are not needed.

I have had times when it simply was not possible to do any sadhana. (So I do understand when one can't do it) Often, with me, it was due to weakness from anemia. I finally learnt to stop forcing myself into doing what my body could not maintain doing. Now that the anemia seems to have disappeared, it is now so much easier for me. And, no, yoga did not cure it. Not ever. No matter what I did that was 'supposed' to work. (so please don't offer any yoga advice about it .... )

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