Is your Yoga Practice taking you “off the mat”?

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I have often heard the phrase “Yoga off the mat” as a way to explain the importance of taking one’s personal yoga practice (on the mat) to connect more profoundly to the wider world (off the mat).  And while this is a beautiful, poetic way to describe the importance of outward expression, and I do personally love this expression; this description implies that yoga on the mat is somewhat a separate activity to that off the mat. If indeed we find it necessary to describe yoga in terms of “on and off the mat” then it appears that we are … Read More

I no longer believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I believe in Daily Resolutions

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So it’s that time of year again; where we hear about New Year’s Resolutions and how we are encouraged to set new goals for the year – usually in the area of good health and fitness. Have you done yours yet? Do you make one every year? Do you find them beneficial? A New Year’s Resolution is a positive way to start the year as it helps us set clear goals and a focus.  It is said that goals help us have a positive attitude and helps direct a purpose in what we do.  And while I used to think … Read More

Suffering and your Samskaras – a way to Liberation

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We often view yoga as an activity. The way we speak about yoga reflects this assumption. We often hear the phrase “I am doing yoga” or “I am going to yoga class” and this language is part of our common social vernacular. However, yoga is in fact a state. Patanjali describes yoga as a state of oneness, pure consciousness… unity. At the beginning of the yoga sutras, Patanjali defines yoga as a state of “calming the fluctuations of the mind” (YS 1.1). The term yoga derives from the Sanskrit root word “yuj” which means “to control, yoke or unite”. So … Read More

We All Share the Same Nature

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Last month I talked about the essence of the nature of who we are.  Who are we? We are: Sat Chit Ananda (‘Absolute Bliss Consciousness’).  This is the Self.  We share this nature with all living beings: whether we are human, a cow, a dog or a fish. We all share this common nature of the Self.  As we start to recognise our shared nature with all sentient beings, we start to realise the importance of Ahimsa (non harming).  As living beings we have two main goals in life: to be happy and to avoid suffering.  We share this goal … Read More

The Eighth Limb of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path: Samadhi (absolute consciousness)

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Last month, we covered the seventh limb of Ashtanga yoga – Dhyana (meditation).  All previous posts can be found on the YWG GRACE-MAIL archives.  Now we are going to explore the eighth and final limb:  Samadhi (absolute consciousness).  Just a reminder that the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are: Yama (restraint) Niyama (observances) Asana (posture) Pranayama (breath control) Pratyahara (controlling the senses) Dharana (concentration) Dhyana (meditation) Samadhi (absolute consciousness)  This month’s focus: SAMADHI If you walked the streets and asked people what they think the purpose of yoga would be, many would suggest that yoga is about flexibility, … Read More

The Seventh Limb of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path: Dhyana (meditation)

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Last month, we covered the sixth limb of Ashtanga yoga – dharana (concentration).  Now we are going to explore the seventh limb:  Dhyana (meditation). Just a reminder that the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are: Yama (restraint) Niyama (observances) Asana (posture) Pranayama (breath control) Pratyahara (controlling the senses) Dharana (concentration) Dhyana (meditation) Samadhi (absolute consciousness)  This month’s focus: DHYANA The last three limbs of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga are inward practices.  The sixth limb, dharana (concentration) and the seventh limb, dhyana (meditation) are higher stages of the same discipline.  Dharana is the concentration on a particular physical … Read More

The Fifth Niyama: Isvara Pranidhana (Devotion to God)

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To refresh from last month, the five niyamas (codes of conduct/regulations) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are: Saucha (purity or cleanliness) Santosha (contentment) Tapas (austerity) Swadhyaya (self-study) Isvara Pranidhana (devotion to God).   Last month, we looked at the fourth niyama – swadhyaya (self-study).  This month, let’s explore the fifth niyama – isvara pranidhana in more detail.  This month’s focus: Isvara Pranidhana  Isvara pranidhana relates to the practice of devotion to God.  Patanjali’s reference to the divine in the Yoga Sutras is not restrictive to a particular conventional God but rather a universal divine force.  According to Patanjali, liberation can be … Read More

The Fourth Niyama: Swadhyaya (Self-study)

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To refresh from last month, the five niyamas (codes of conduct/regulations) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are: Saucha (purity or cleanliness) Santosha (contentment) Tapas (austerity) Swadhyaya (self-study) Pranidhana (devotion to God). Last month, we looked at the seconde niyama – tapas (austerity).  This month, let’s explore the third niyama – swadhyaya in more detail.  This month’s focus: Swadhyaya Swadhyaya is the practice of self-study and self-analysis.  Sva is interpreted as ‘self’ and adhyaya means ‘investigation or inquiry’.   As yogis, we are encouraged to self-inquire daily through practices such asana, pranayama and meditation.  Traditionally, swadhyaya is attributed to the study of … Read More

The Third Niyama: Tapas (Austerity)

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To refresh from last month, the five niyamas (codes of conduct/regulations) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are: Saucha (purity or cleanliness) Santosha (contentment) Tapas (austerity) Swadhyaya (self-study) Pranidhana (devotion to God). Last month, we looked at the seconde niyama – Santosha (contentment).  This month, let’s explore the third niyama – tapas in more detail. This month’s focus: Tapas Tapas is the practice of discipline and self-control.  It literally means “heat” and refers to an inner fire or energy which enables one to control the body and the mind.  The ability to do this is created by ascetic practices such as … Read More