Jim's Writings

The Yamas and the Niyamas

The Yamas and the Niyamas

We have begun to see how Patanjali's asthanga (eight parts) yoga can be taken as a progressive, interdependent or constituent path and we have seen that the yamas and the niyamas come at the very beginning.
It is a position that implies their function as foundational to the path as a whole and to its individual parts.

Yoga, friendship and the heart

Whether you are a yoga student or teacher, the practice of yoga (in the spirit of Patanjali’s Astanga path) and in particular practice with others, inevitably starts to tease the edges of your heart. The spirit of working with the breath, creating space in which to move the joints and in the mind in which to absorb the finer details of instruction, is evocative of acceptance, allowance and inclusion: the qualities that underpin both friendship and wisdom.

Zen master Hakuin inspires us to develop fortitude

Hakuin’s early extreme exertions affected his health, and at one point in his young life he fell ill for almost two years, experiencing what would now probably be classified as a nervous breakdown by Western medicine, though the symptoms were similar to Kundalini.

He called it Zen sickness, and sought the advice of a Taoist cave dwelling hermit named Hakuyu, who prescribed a chakra visualisation practice which eventually relieved his symptoms.

What is yoga?

Yoga how to recognise it and what it is for

Yoga is a small word with a big meaning. It does not mean exercise or flexibility, it simply means ‘union’.

The root of yoga practice

Allow prana to flow by moving in as you let go (let the sun be guided by the moon). Note all release is natural; be with your experience but give it space. This is the root meaning of any yoga practice.

Seasonal illumination

This is the festive season, whether or not you are celebrating one of the religious festivals held at this time of year. The days draw darker up to the solstice and this evokes all kinds of responses in all aspects of nature including us.

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Quotes

On Svadyaya…
‘Svadayaya means self study. My understanding is that this Niyama means develop objectivity. Study your mind and your body, observe yourself deeply, understand yourself thoroughly. Become self aware. Practice the four foundations of mindfulness. Also study the truth through texts and seek out good teachers to help you.’

— Karunajala