Is there any sequence of asanas?

Yoga says that before we got a human body we had a lot of lives in different other bodies. Human body is a serious achievement and it shows us that we worked hard in our previous lives. But our body depends on our karma: first of all on the part which we received from our parents, and secondly, it depends on those internal moulds, which we drag on our causational body to the physical body. Asanas are given to us in order to eliminate all the faults and imperfections of our body. In fact hatha yoga is not the purpose, but the method, which helps to make the body perfect. General belief is that we all have approximately similar karma, and for this reason the modern person can actually use 85 poses out of many thousands, and they will eliminate the most serious problems; they can be used in different groups and sequences.

It makes sense to do all poses, but focusing on those, which remove specifically your defects. Out of 85 poses the most effective are 30-40. For everyday practice it is better to take 7 poses, better do less, but in a state of Bhava.

It is recommended to practice hatha yoga in a group 1-3 times a week, the rest of time it should be personal practice, and first of all it is necessary to do poses, which you want to do. Choose a group of asanas and do them for a week, then change a group, or add some additional asanas, or just change the sequence. This should be a creative process, matching your internal feelings, without using any dogma.

Can I practice pranayama without practicing hatha yoga, as the channels are not clear?

In Yoga-sutra of Patandjali the principle of asanas is more important than the principle of pranayama, for a reason. Asanas in Yoga-sutra by Patanjali are first of all correct pose for meditation, as well as for practicing pranayama. Later in treatises it is written that we should prepare all channels and centers for the passage of prana. We can make a comparison with a sewage system: if you open the tap, and the sewage is blocked, the water will not flow through the pipes, but it will slop over and will flood. So before you start allocating more prana during practice, you should understand where it will go. In a same way as a plumber cleans the sewage, hatha yoga stretches and squeezes the associative channels, cleans them, similar to stretching and squeezing the pipe when all unnecessary things dropped out of it. When you are doing any asana in harmony, you affect the associative links which is stored inside you as a result of the negative situation, and you direct the energy into a new way, towards something good and fair. But when the Energy is moving along the old channels, prana fires up all the things that the mind is scared of and it brings not very pleasant feelings. But if you establish the new associative links, the energy will not flow into exaggerating your worst nightmares, but it will build the new associative links and will be stored inside you. That is why the main thing in hatha yoga is harmony. If you subconsciously are pleased with your practice, then nobody will push you, you will want to practice yourself, and this will serve as a springboard for pure sensations.

Am I right that the measure of success in yoga and my readiness for further achievements is my mind, or in other words I should understand with my mind when it is necessary to work hard in pranayama?

The criteria could be your inner intuitive feeling «Yes, I am ready». You can start practicing pranayama if you already practice hatha yoga, but do it slowly, in small portions. This is because after some time on a physical level everything will be as normal, the main thing is how much you practice in the beginning. Its important not to force yourself, do not get more prana than you are able to pass through yourself.

Do mantras clean the body? And is it enough just to listen to them?

Mantra yoga is a very serious part of yoga. Mantras do really clean the body, it is necessary to listen to them, but this is not enough. Individual mantras are those which open to the person and become very close to them.

For example, a great designer aims for enlightenment and on the other hand he would like to leave something behind as an artist. He wishes to live his life showing his worth as a designer, and incrementally raise higher and higher to the final goal of yoga. For this he would choose mantra Sarasvati, which will lead him through discovering his artistic skills. The individual mantra is helping us to reach the Highest through those qualities, which we choose. As each person has different ambitions, the personal mantras will also be different.

Is there any method to stop thoughts?

Let’s repeat again:

  1. Only enjoyment from doing it or from overcoming;
  2. Bhava, internal motivation and no pressure;
  3. Combination of the Energy method with the method of Consciousness, knowing when to let yourself or when to make yourself.

What thoughts should we have? It must be the feeling of enjoyment and the thoughts can be different. In the octal pyramid Patanjali, which ends with Samadhi, yoga is down to stopping the thought forms and controlling them. We should learn to control all thinking processes in our heads, i.e. to motivate the good ones and to cease the bad ones. Hatha yoga helps us to stop our thoughts: with the ability to fix the body in motionless position we obtain the ability to stop our thoughts. At first we limit the thoughts, make them slower, and later we shall be able to block unwanted thoughts completely.

Distance mind-reading and other miracles start only after we learn how to stop thoughts in our own head. Yoga is a very precise system, it says that reasons of conscience cannot control the thoughts, but we can push these thoughts out to a certain degree by means of sensation. When we feel pleasure from practicing or from overcoming difficulty, we have emotional background, some feelings. We must shift into the area of sensation and push out the disturbing thoughts – this is the first thing we can do in the process of controlling thoughts. That is why, the longer we can stay still in yoga pose, the more is our ability to stop thoughts. Later we shall learn to concentrate deliberately on the required thought and to ignore unwanted thoughts. When only one thought is left and we decide to concentrate on it, and no other thoughts or feelings remain, we shall have Samadhi – the highest state, which can be experienced by a human being, the main goal of yoga.

I would like to know about the obstacles on the way of yoga.

When we start practicing yoga, we start to clean our body on two levels: a personal – we begin to perceive life in a different way, and interaction with surrounding world – the social circle is changing, people around don’t understand. This period can be long and painful but it has to be passed. It all depends on our karma: if it is good, we overcome this period easy and painless, but if not – we have to pay for it. It is much easier during this period to stay with supporters, who help to make no doubts. Yoga says that everybody goes through these stages, periods of falls and depression. The most important thing is to remember about the principle of no harm to any living being: if we untie our negative karma, we need to do it in such a way that everyone is happy. When a person starts practicing Pranayama after practice of hatha, the process of changes may go very quickly. This is not safe! Harmony and gradualness is important. Everybody have these periods, we stop being gregarious and become self-sufficient, responsible people, but also we should not forget about another part of the freedom, which is responsibility.

Is yoga saying anything about the thoughts?

This question is dealing with by such sections of yoga as Jnana yoga, Raja yoga. A thought is the finest vibration of the Energy, through which the strength of Consciousness shines the most brightly. The strength of our Consciousness is like a magnet which makes the finest strands of Energy to line up along magnetic lines. And depending on what the Consciousness wants to see, it forms the Energy accordingly.

What stretching exercises can you recommend?

All exercises which are given in books on yoga are good, if you alternate the methods of Energy and Consciousness in your practice. You can force yourself to do splits very quickly, but in 6 months you won’t be able to do it again. But if you manage to do splits by yoga methods, you will be able to do it for the rest of your life. When we practice yoga by the method of Energy and the method of Consciousness, with time we can master the pose better and better and at some point we receive a quantum jump – so called sidhi. If a person once achieved sidhi in asana, he/she will be able to demonstrate this asana any time in future. Sidhi changes cell metabolism, energy structures – all the deepest levels of the nature. But if the person does not reach this leap and stops practicing, everything goes backwards. Similar to pushing a stone up the mountain and drop it before you reach the top – it will roll back down, but if you push it all the way up, and let it go, it will roll further by itself. It is reasonable to get proper skills. People come with different levels of physical ability, but in yoga there are no external criteria of success. The only criterion of success in yoga is regular practice! If it’s your habit, it means that the internal process has started, there are no other criteria. Level of expertise in yoga is defined by one pose – shavasana, corpse pose. The value of this pose is the ability to relax, switch off and leave the body.

Are there any restrictions for practicing yoga if a person is ill?

If a person is ill then firstly this person should visit a doctor. Yoga is intended for healthy people but in reality majority has some kind of health problems. None of yoga instructors will recommend practicing yoga if a person has some serious health problems. From one side we are the masters of our body and we can do whatever we want, including yoga practice but from the other side it is not good thing to put on the responsibility regarding our body on our yoga instructor. If a person decided to practice yoga anyway then he/she is doing it at the own risk. Of course, yoga may create miracles but if the modern medicine can heal easily some illnesses then it should be done by the modern medicine. The remaining can be tried to be correlated with the help of yoga but this is the personal decision of everyone.

If we are talking about the poses that should be made then majority of people don’t have the harmony background and they don’t know what to support on, where they should stop and where they should make an effort. Many difficulties arise. But yoga is a wholesome system and if some aspects are not described in hatha yoga then we can take other kinds of yoga, for example, mantra yoga or pranayama. When we start practicing yoga there are some processes of renewal taking place inside us. In ancient texts you may read about yoga miracles: stopping of aging processes, reversing metabolism processes, making body younger. These texts also contain notes on the methods but no exact instructions have remained until our days.

What is the key of yoga?

The key is the work, that turns into a routine. You should form the proper habits. To make the habit to practice yoga you should do it in a way that the body would not object, would not resist but would feel requirement to practice yoga every day. As soon as it is done the required result will be achieved for sure!

We will have to force ourselves anyway before the habit is formed?

Yes, you will have to do it but don’t get fanatic. You have to make the first step. Bringing the violence to the minimum and if you feel the violence simply make the pose and don’t do it. You can imagine that you are doing it or simply think that you should do the pose. And do it as long as the need appears to practice. You should support on your sensations and feelings.

Last modified: Sunday, 25 December 2016, 9:44 PM