Grace's Blog

Saving Lives is Sexy

Ever wondered why fire fighters, paramedics and police officers are so often used as sex icons?

What is it that they all have in common?

Other than the fact they all wear a uniform (which is often portrayed as sexy), they all have the ability to save lives.

Saving lives is something extraordinary. Fire fighters, paramedics and police officers have the ability to do something that ordinary people cannot usually do themselves. They are able to take someone from their suffering or near-death experience and save them; giving them a second chance at life.

Saving lives is sexy.

And being saved or getting a second chance at life is often a life changing experience. It is these moments that are pivotal in our lives and cause us to reflect on our values, our past and our future.

These moments cause us to reflect on our core beliefs around God, the universe, the after-life and what lies beyond the realm of our physical death.

Yoga is about saving lives.

The practice of yoga takes us from our focus on mortal things to that which is immortal. It takes our focus from our mortal self to something beyond us with the ultimate goal of yoga to be unification with the divine nature.

Let me repeat. The goal of yoga is to be united with the divine nature (internal and external).

Internally being the soul, externally being God.

Another way to say it is that yoga is the unification with the divine nature within and unification with the divine nature in the universe.

Wow. Intense right? Not sure if you were expecting that!

Yoga means union. It is a state, not an activity.

So the state of yoga is the realisation of our oneness with the divine.

Pretty intense hey? And I think most people know yoga is more than just stretching, hence why you may read these inspirational quotes that say things like “yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down”.

Yoga removes the sense of dissolution of separateness. It leads us to the core realisation of the oneness of being which brings us lasting happiness.

Jivamukti Yoga is a style of yoga focused on a pathway of liberation of the soul with compassion at the core of its philosophy. The term Jivamukti is a modern fusion of two Sanskrit terms: jiva (individual living soul) and mukti (freedom from the eternal cycle of death and rebirth); which together implies “liberation while still living on Earth”. It has also been translated simply as “Self-liberation” or “Self-Realisation”.

In summary, yoga’s ultimate goal is to liberate the soul from suffering. Yoga aims to help us break free from this cycle of suffering and liberate the soul. Imagine being liberated from suffering – this would be what happiness truly feels like.

So if you want to be sexy like a fire fighter, paramedic or police officer and you want to find a pathway to reduce your suffering to experience true happiness from within, perhaps it’s time to consider saving your own soul by taking up the practice of yoga… and at a superficial level, you can look pretty sexy in your yoga gear with your cool yoga moves 😀

Grace's Blog

The Fifth Limb of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path: Pratyahara (Controlling the Senses)

Last month, we covered the fourth limb of Ashtanga yoga – pranayama (breath control).  All previous posts can be found on the YWG GRACE-MAIL archives.  Now we are going to explore the fifth limb: pranayama (breath control).

Just a reminder that the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:

  1. Yama (restraint)
  2. Niyama (observances)
  3. Asana (posture)
  4. Pranayama (breath control)
  5. Pratyahara (controlling the senses)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (absolute consciousness)


This month’s focus: PRATYAHARA

Pratyahara is centering the mind with control of the senses.  The yoga sutras define pratyahara as ‘the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses’.  You can liken the state of pratyahara to a tortoise who hides in its shell or the return of sun-rays at sunset.  Pratyahara encompasses the ability to direct your five senses internally instead of externally.  The yogic paradigm suggests that there is an internal world within each one of us that can be explored, and only by withdrawing from the exterior environment can one begin to investigate the inner world.

Jean Dechanet describes the external senses as servants of the soul, not masters and the internal senses must be wise and active.  In order to have this control, one must get to know one’s mind.  A simple exercise of pratyahara would be to spend some time daily observing the mind; its drumbeats so to speak, and gradually after consistent practice, it will grow calmer.  Self-inspection is one of the most effective and penetrating criticisms which leads to mental control.    When the senses are at rest, a sense of internal stillness causes the mind to be clearer.

Saint Teresa of Avila describes the senses as inhabitants of the castle of the soul which if not ordered and controlled can plunge into inner darkness.  For the yogi, the senses should be refined and tuned into the experience of the divine….be it Allah, God, Jesus, Yahweh or simply the universe.

So what does pratyahara look like in a practical sense? It can be described as the state of non-reaction to external stimulus – like a state of being in the world, but not of the world.  Many of us can relate to pratyahara in the resting posture of savasana.  The last posture we practice in a yoga class; lying completely still on our back and the practice of falling into deep rest and relaxation.  Initially it seems difficult and we shuffle into a comfortable position but once our physical body is still and relaxed, the mind then begins to become still and relaxed and soon enough you are in a blissful state of relaxation where you withdraw from the external world but without losing contact with it.  You may still register the sounds around you, the temperature of your skin, your position on the mat; but it does not disturb your mind or body.  So your sense organs still receive the input of what is happening around you however you are unresponsive to it because you are in a state of pratyahara.  Like a tortoise who hides in its shell is still able to hear and feel the outside world, but is now unresponsive to it.  Or the sun that sets, is still present in the world although introspective.  So in pratyahara, it’s as though you are removed from your senses.  This is the beginning of being in a true meditative state!

  • Do you give yourself time during your day to practice pratyahara? ….Simply sitting or lying still while focusing on relaxing the body will naturally relax the mind and encourage you into a state of withdrawing the senses…
  • B.K.S Iyengar says that in Sanskrit, pratyahara literally means “to draw toward the opposite”.  The normal movement of the senses is to flow outward and this limb is concerned with going against that grain, a difficult reaction.
  • Pratyahara is built brick by brick through the first four limbs of Ashtanga yoga – yama, niyama, asana and pranayama, then utilised in the last three limbs – dharana, dhyana and samadhi.  It is the fifth petal of yoga, also called the “hinge” of the outer and inner quest.  It is the pivotal movement on yoga’s path.
  • Pattabhi Jois says in Yoga Mala that yoga is a path we step into and that will lead us towards unveiling the Self.

 “Pratyahara helps the mind acquire knowledge of the self”  -B.K.S Iyengar