Universal Yoga is based on our own experience, direct – non doctrinal. Movement away from guru based teaching to universal practices that are not dependent on a guru or lineage. Movement from elitism to availability to everyone. Non-mystical involvement in life – Charlotte Joko Beck – we have mystical moments, intuitive realizations, but we do not withdraw from life, we are more alive, more involved with life, we experience everything more intensely with a full range of feeling and thoughts.
Pir Elias Amidon talks about - Universal Revelation - revelation as being not transactionary but immanent realization. We are no longer dependent on a particular tradition but learn from all of human experience.
Yoga practice is just that, a practical way to deal with life’s issues, our challenges and joys. One of the practices is Kriya Yoga. Kriya means action or activity, but in the context of the Yoga Sutra chapter 2 verse 1 it means practical yoga, yoga practice that leads to deeper inner awareness.
The 3 components that Patanjali talks about are: Tapas - burning up of impurities (heat), Swadyaya - self study, an understanding of our habitual tendencies to act in certain ways and Iswara Pranidhana - movement to inner awareness.
Karma also means action, but the implication is that often the action is a result of previous conditioning or that it creates a conditioned result (more habitual action, e.g.). Kriya yoga is intended as a practical means of activity or action that ultimately leads to inner awareness. The implication is that this leads us to liberation from samskaras or habitual tendencies - to higher consciousness or I prefer Awareness.
“Spirituality is supremely practical. Contrary to popular belief, it does not liberate us from the world. By profoundly transforming our experience, spirituality enables us to live in the world more freely and more fruitfully. Where once the world might have seemed like a web of perplexing drudgery with fleeting bright spots, through spiritual awakening it can become a place of beauty and meaning. The Sufis call this ‘The Dance’. They invite us to learn ‘the steps’ and discipline ourselves through practice so that we can ‘dance’ with confidence, and élan. In other words, become fully embodied expressions of spirit. Yes, we still have to pay the mortgage, fix the car, tend to our relationships, but when it's a Dance two very important things happen: First, your days move in a powerful harmony, a flow out of which success and unexpected joy come naturally. And, second, your effect on the world around you is increasingly healing and uplifting -- like a wake of goodness you leave behind everywhere.” Puran Perez
Embracing the body and the mind
Embracing all experience
“When a yogi is walking, a yogi knows that he is walking, when a yogini knows she is sitting, she knows that she is sitting, when a yogini is happy, she knows that she is happy, when a yogi knows is thinking he knows that he is thinking, when a yogi is angry, he knows that he is angy, etc., etc,.” The Buddha.
One could say that Awareness is yoga or that yoga is awareness. Most of the time we are not aware of what we are doing, feeling, thinking as we are lost in thought, in our stories that lead to anguish. Awareness enriches the texture of all of our experience.
Mindfulness – Sanskrit - smriti – remembering; so mindfulness or awareness is remembering to remember. The word remember comes from re and member i.e. re connect with our member the body, the sensations and then sounds, thoughts, sights, touch – awareness of all the senses.
Santosha – contentment
Most of the time we are not content. All of our anguish arises from non-acceptance of phenomenon presenting themselves to us, of not getting what we want or desire. And yet it is important to desire and to know what we are desiring. It is somehow related to longing – that deep felt feeling in the solar plexus – Rumi calls it “the return answer”.
“Reintegrating deisre, the senses and passion with spirituality is the only serious antidote to religious and sectarian madness or to generalized materialism, because nothing terrifies their adherents as much as these words and the incandescence they point to.”…And today our desire, our passion, is to find absolute freedom, love, and plenitude without being bound hand and foot. We want to leave behind our ancestral guilt and accept the body wholly: It is our only door into infinite erality. Without the body, we would be nothing. With it, we can be everything.”
Daniel Odier, Desire: The Tantric Path of Awakening’ p 11. Italics mine.
Yoga is about integrating mind and body. It is a reclaiming of our physicality. The true purpose of hatha yoga is to bring about balance between the left and right brain, the rational and the intuitive parts of our being.
Awakening – what does it mean to be awakened. How do we know we are awakened.