It has come to my attention that there is an underlying assumption among many that deters folks away from yoga, which is the belief that yoga is affiliated with religion. Yoga is a non-religious practice and activity meant to bring peace and wellness to body and mind.
According to Barkataki (2020), "It is important to address that yoga itself is separate from religion, though it has coexisted along with many" (p.13). She continues by writing, "Yoga is not under the purview of any one religion, but developed alongside Sramana traditions that emerged as Jain and Buddhist as well as Vedic and Hindu traditions and later was influenced by Islam and Christianity" (p.13).
If we lay out all the major world religions on the table, we can easily see that many of the teachings are aligned or even seem to be a direct pattern seen in yogic or Vedic teachings. I am talking about the 'bones' of the teachings, based on a code of ethics, which are strikingly similar to the code of ethics seen in many of the world's major spiritual traditions. These influence our morals, values and ultimately our behaviors in daily life. Some examples of similarities commonly found are among these are: loving kindness, compassion, forgiveness, helping others, non-harming, honesty etc. These are also fundamental to the foundation which yoga is built upon. For this reason, yoga is not prejudice against any religion nor does it subscribe to any religion so as to be open and welcoming to folks with a multitude of personal preferences, belief systems and backgrounds.
The deep intention of yoga is UNITY, so as to facilitate bringing us together rather than focusing on "otherness" and separateness. At no other moment in my life have I seen a time in which unity could be so necessary for the evolution of human and planetary consciousness. So, let us come together, respect, grow, invite abundance and support one another.
If you have questions, comments or wish to discuss this topic further, the author is happy to offer a safe space to share. This blog post is meant to only be a very brief introduction, due to the depth of the topic being incredibly vast and multifaceted. The author, Rose E-RYT500, has a graduate level education in Psychology, Religion & Philosophy and has been studying and teaching Yogic and Vedic knowledge for many years.
Barkataki, S. (2020). Embrace Yoga's Roots: Courageous ways to deepen your yoga practice. Ignite Yoga and Wellness Institute: Orlando, FL.
Temporary shifts in elemental balance are caused by fluctuations in our external world. Those fluctuations impact our internal world. The five elements air, ether, fire, water and Earth can fall out of balance when there is too much or too little of one or more of the elements leading to illness or dis-ease in the body and mind.
Under stress the elements in our bodies change for the worse. According to Wallace (2009) in his book Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism and Christianity, "Beginning in the late 1970s, Jon Kabat-Zinn, a researcher at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, developed a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which is now being taught in more than 250 clinics throughout the world. As Kabat-Zinn pointed out in a meeting in 1990 with the Dalai Lama on mindfulness, emotions, and health, stress aggravates the symptoms of all known illnesses, from the common cold to cancer. So, alleviating stress with meditation can potentially have an enormous impact on our physical and psychological well-being" (p.30).
Practicing yoga and meditation has been shown by research to lead to better health outcomes. In our western society we rarely have enough time to slow down and take some steps toward our well-being. The world is filled with over-stimulation, sleep-deprivation, nutrient-deficient processed foods and the business of being "busy". This, when done over prolonged periods of time leads to depletion of mind, body and soul. Learning some simple techniques in meditation and yoga can create internal and external peace as well as potentially have some health benefits for mental and physical body. The skill of meditative practices gives you the ability to ride the waves of life with less turbulence and stress because when you are able to calm the internal waters, the external waters also become calm. Your inner world is a reflection of your outer world and visa versa.
What are you waiting for? Join Zen Den Yoga and begin your journey toward wellness. There is never a better time than now. See you soon. Namaste.
Our task as humans is to remember our origins and embark on our own individual journey of ascent through the different stages and dimensions of the Tree of Life, the ladder of existence, toward divine unity consciousness. What can we do to remember the sacredness? Here is a list:
1) write down one thing that has made you grateful to be alive
2) write ten things that are sacred to you
3) think of someone who has betrayed you and make a commitment to forgive them
4) read a short text from any of the worlds spiritual traditions that inspires you
5) when the text you're reading lights a fire inside of you, say a prayer or affirmation that aligns you with pure deep love and compassion
6) make a real commitment to spiritual practice - **just sit and watch your thoughts, in that silence is your greatest treasure**
7) reach out to loved ones - send inspiration, do anything you can to lighten their burden
8) skip one meal in 24 hrs and instead send money or donate a meal to an organization that feeds the hungry
9) find out who is suffering in your community and try to support them
10) give. Give with all your heart, as much as you can as long as you can, without expecting anything in return.
11) Say this mantra daily: "May all beings be filled with loving kindness. May all being be peaceful and at ease. May all beings be well. May all beings know happiness, the roots of happiness and be free from suffering."
Yoga in Sanskrit is "yog", meaning "to yolk". We are not talking about yolking eggs here, although metaphorically you can understand the motion of yolking together the egg white and the yolk, which in the yoga world translates to combining, mixing or coming into union with your higher self. People come to their yoga mat for all kinds of reasons, but most importantly it is because yoga gives them tools in some capacity to feel better in body + mind. Especially in our world right now during the Covid-19 pandemic we can acknowledge that this is a stressful time for most. Many are facing financial hardships, social isolation from friends and family, death and uncertainty about when the nightmare will be over.
As humans we operate well with routine and schedules. The current state of affairs has turned all of that upside down for many. With childcare and schools closed and working from home we have been forced to adjust and quickly. Considering the number of recent unemployment claims it would be safe to say that a phenomenal amount of people have lost their incomes and are having their livelihoods jeopardized. Reported domestic violence cases have increased as well as a spike in those experiencing mental health symptoms. Things are undoubtedly uncertain at this time more than ever in the last 100 years or so in the western world.
How can yoga help with embracing uncertainty right now? Much of our suffering from a yogic perspective is from attachment to the past or the future rather than the current moment. This moment means this exact breath you are taking right now. The moment that existed a second ago no longer exists and the moment that will happen in the next minute does not exist yet. Something yoga teaches us is to try to stay in the present moment, which is much easier to say than to do. However, training the mind can only be done through practice, which takes conscious and willing effort to create change. Think about how many years you have been on this planet. Now think about how many neuronal brain functions and synapses have been formed by all your experiences that are an impediment for you to be present in this exact moment during a global pandemic. It takes small, consistent steps toward recalibrating your mind.
Contemplative practices such as yoga and meditation are termed "practices" because it is a practice and practice makes perfect. While we are not striving for perfection, we as the human race need to strive toward thriving rather than merely surviving. Crisis put us in survival mode, which is driven by fear. This fear is fear of the unknown, the future, things we do not have certainty about. Yoga is the tool that can be used to bring a more peaceful mind and help us to embrace uncertainty and grasp calmness in our inner-knowing. The foundation must be strong just as warrior preparing for battle. Using yoga and mindfulness practices is one method of this warrior training. The time to start is now and the perfect time is always. We are going to be okay. We are all in this together. Many blessings to all. The light in me sees the light is all of you. Namaste.
Rose brought Zen Den Yoga to life with the intention of providing compassionate and professional yoga classes and yoga teacher training programs. Her educational background is in the holistic sciences in the areas of Naturopathy, Ayurveda, Nutrition, herbalism, reiki and consciousness studies. She is a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance E-RYT500 and has taught yoga and meditation around the globe in yoga teacher training programs and retreats.
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