The graceful gifts of yoga include the attainment of higher consciousness, health, abundance, love, and harmony. Yoga naturally yields all attributes of yogam - which means good luck in Tamil. Yoga, in the Western sense, spearheads this awakening, even if it is considered a simple exercise for health benefits and fashion, instead of a spiritual discipline; the taste of a drop of honey will eventually lead to the honey pot of higher consciousness.
The body is an effective tool to lead the mind towards the inner core of realization. By yoga, we refer to various styles of “Hatha” yoga as practiced in the West – the sequences of physical postures and the inner journey created through this practice. If you're newer to yoga, we recommend utilizing simple practices like traditional Sun Salutation sequences to experience the teachings below.
Below are some of the more esoteric benefits, lessons, and secrets of the teachings of yoga:
1. Yoga is a journey through breath and consciousness: “Ha” and “Tha” of Hatha yoga mean the intertwining of Sun and Moon energies of the breath. Hatha yoga is in reality the journey of consciousness through breath. The right breath is the Sun and the left breath is the Moon. The sages call these two breath streams the inner rivers through which we ride through awareness. By being aware of our breath in its Sun and Moon energy, we are able to utilize the natural currents of the breath via yoga. To swim along with the predominant breath and to stimulate the Sun breath and the Moon breath equally enables us to flow with the inner currents of the mind and consciousness. To know breath and the source of breath is to know life, death, and our spiritual immortality. Harnessing breath, we can awaken to the wisdom of our spiritual self.
2. Yoga awakens gratitude: Our consciousness begins from each cell and each cell could owe its existence to our parents. One of the initial steps of awakening consciousness is to acknowledge our Father and Mother in gratitude, both literally and symbolically. Through the first round of Sun Salutation, we utilize the asana sequence of the left to visualize and express gratitude to our Mother – the Moon breath. Likewise, we utilize the sequence of the right to visualize and express gratitude to our Father – the Sun breath. By acknowledging our Father and Mother (as in thought, dedication, and gratitude) who are the seeds that created our body, and who are part of the thinking process we possess, we shift our body consciousness and field of energy.
When we are thankful and grateful to our parent’s unconditional love from the moment of our birth, we are able to vitalize every cell of our body into a state of wellbeing. Moving towards higher consciousness begins with gratitude. Focusing on gratitude can pave the way to the present moment and this is where the yoga practice begins.
3. Yoga activates the root chakra: The success of the inner journey, Kundalini awakening, and journey to higher consciousness relate to the strength and power of the root chakra. The root chakra, once activated through yoga, holds the key to the wellbeing of the body in physical reality, as well as in the spiritual essence, and this creates a strong foundation of harmony. The root chakra (Muladhara) can be activated through the bandhas (the inner lock, called the mulabandha), visualization, and mantra. The Muladhara is our inner foundation.
4. Yoga with mantra can be powerful: The mind and thoughts are vibrations. Mantras are vibration-inducing resonances that shift and transform the frequency of the mind in order to generate thoughts that are more aligned to the energy within the mantra. When we recite mantras throughout our yogic sequences, our breath entwines with the mantra to unravel the higher energies of consciousness within the mantra.
Each chakra or energy center can be activated through the mantras, through breath, and through our awareness. Awakening our inner fire, the Kundalini, we utilize our daily yoga to transform ourselves. When we do yoga simply as a physical exercise without awareness of the sacredness of breath, we are more likely to injure our bodies and not receive the amazing and beautiful benefits of yoga.
5. Yoga activates your Third Eye: All rituals and disciplines lead to the supreme state of being still – the attainment of the vibrant stillness of meditation. This stillness within happens when we find our center. By practicing yoga, we awaken the inner fires that lead to vibrant stillness.
This surge of bliss initially is like a nuclear explosion rushing above the crown chakra. A yogi can direct the explosive energies of the crown chakra towards the third eye to harmonize this inner fire with focus. This third eye focus takes us to the seat of the universe – the magical space that is the meeting point of source and human. Awakening the vast energies within ourselves through breath, asana, and the grace of mantra, we rise to the seat of consciousness, to the third eye.
The third eye is where we can experience samadhi – a state of awareness that exists while being absorbed in meditative oneness. In bringing all the focus through the third eye, we can focus on the energies of bliss, manifested as wisdom and super-normal strength in our physical realities.
The objective of yoga is the attainment of the awareness that you are a spirit having a human experience, or in more practical terms, to be able to bring source energy into your present physical reality moment to moment.
Much of the Hatha yoga styles we have in the West are beautiful hybridizations of the traditional yoga practiced in India, but with a focus on the needs of pro-active modern individuals and directed more towards the body than towards the mind.
6. Yoga can connect you to the five natural elements: The yogi understands that the human body contains all of the universe and Earth. This connection relates to the five elements — Earth, water, fire, air, and ether (the void, space, and infinity).
The yogi understands the divinity and energies of each of the five elements. Each element represents one aspect of the universe. Once this is understood mastery of consciousness can be attained. So in our daily yoga, awareness of our inner journey through the elements paves the way toward wholeness and connection with the outer world.
The body is represented as the earth element. Water represents our fluidity, life force, and our intellect. The fire element represents all the various fires within our body, from digestion to thinking processes. The air element represents our breath, the air we breathe, and our prana. Ether, the infinite void element is our experience of the meditative state. The experience of the element of infinity is bliss and joy.
7. Doing yoga nude (only when appropriate and if possible!) can be powerful: While the idea of practicing yoga in the nude may sound alarming, for a yogi, wearing minimal clothing means practicing in our natural state. Digambara, the sky-clad one, is another name for Lord Shiva, the supreme yogi. Practicing yoga in the nude enables us to integrate the five elements as one body, one being. It can be extremely liberating. If you have the opportunity to practice somewhere private, in nature, it can be extra powerful.
8. Walking, dancing, cycling, and running complement yoga: The yoga practice we do comes originally from the sages who lived in the wilderness of caves and mountains in India. Every day they walked and climbed up hills. Most temples and shrines in India are located up in the hills to facilitate such pilgrimages. Their daily Hatha yoga practice complemented their walking, and their food intake was minimal or optimal.
In our society, we consume far more calories than we need and are exposed to huge blasts of stress energies. Many live without the need to walk on a daily basis. We can transcend this environment by including skipping, walking, dancing, running, and/or cycling to complement our daily yoga practice. I recommend including any additional activity that gives more joyfulness, as joy paves the way to daily discipline.
9. Do your own daily yoga: Utilize a yoga studio or online classes as you would use a walking stick. Yoga classes are for us to learn sequences of asanas, but this is not a substitute for your daily yoga practice. Your daily yoga practice with or without a yoga studio is important for your daily inner journey in its practice, learning, wisdom, and experiences.
There is a deeper wisdom that stems from the yogic perception of time. When we commit to our own daily practice that does not rely on anyone else or other circumstances (such as a yoga studio), we begin to step into a realignment of our 24-hour cycle through the gift of yoga — that of timelessness. Practicing yoga is a powerful form of worship and a journey into timelessness. Each day consists of 24 hours of day and night that limit us. When we step into timelessness just once a day through yoga, we reflect life as though we are the Sun; the Sun does not experience night or day, and so the mind ceases to be limited by the perception of diurnal change.
10. Yoga is tantric: Tantra comes from the pre-vedic teachings of South India, from the Dravidians. The worship of Lord Shiva and Goddess Sakti and its associated yogic teachings was called “Tantiram”, the roots of tantra. Tantiram is to unite source with our human reality through the wisdom of joyfulness. Tantiram wisdom teaches that the root chakra, the Muladhara, holds all the power in our journey towards realization and the journey through consciousness after waking up. The root chakra holds the key to the inner journey.
When we tread the yogic path, we realize the vastness of ourselves; we are like an onion, layered in realities, from the roots all the way to the crown – realities to unite with source. The core of tantra is the experience of orgasmic bliss within each and all layers of reality that we can enhance through our daily yoga. When we awaken to the wholeness of yoga, we transform our primal energies of sex, sensuality, and survival instincts into evolved potent thoughts of manifestation. Our daily yoga is a tool of transforming and evolving through the embrace of wholeness.
By Nandhiji Yogi
Nandhiji is a Siddha Yoga Master, humanitarian & visionary awakening humanity through mystic wisdom, community and service. He is an artist, award-winning, ecstatic chant musician, author and teacher- representing the path of the Liberated Siddhas.
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