August Calendar

August may be the hottest month, but we are playing it cool with yoga every morning from 7am – 8am JST.

Some features of this month’s schedule:
August 5: Celebrating 500 days in a row of this morning yoga class.
August 8: Silent meditation on new moon and Tokyo 2020 closing day.
August 9: Relaxing yoga spa on the Mountain Day holiday
August 23 -25: Tribute to the Paralympics features three chair yoga sequences.

Our yoga journalling prompts for this month:
What song(s) remind you of someone you love?
and a fundamental check-in
How are you feeling today?

* Please note that August 6th will be a short class, due to my vaccination appointment. Students are welcomed to stay online and converse after 7:30.

112 Meditation Techniques

The Vigyan Bhairav Tantra specifies 112 ways to find reality through meditation. These are the answers that the god Shiva gave to his wife, Shakti, when she asked:

O Shiva, what is your reality?
What is this wonder-filled universe?
What constitutes seed?
Who centers the universal wheel?
What is this life beyond form pervading forms?
How may we enter it fully,
above space and time,
names and descriptions?
Let my doubts be cleared!

Some of the 112 seem simple, others are true puzzles open to many interpretations. And there have been hundreds of interpretations over the 4000 year history of this book. It is worthwhile to explore the originals and the interpretations.

Here is a list of all 112 techniques as taught by Osho, who wrote five volumes and shared countless hours of discourse on the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra.

With so many different ideas for how to find reality in meditation, one or more of them is likely to resonate with you. In our silent meditation sessions for the rest of this year, we’ll try them. Not all of the techniques can be done in class, but many can.

In today’s meditation, we tried three of the techniques:

#90
Touching eyeballs as a feather, lightness between them opens into the heart & there permeates the cosmos.

How we interpreted this was to lightly place our fingertips on our eyelids and bring our attention to the third eye. As in candle gazing meditation, we envisioned light streaming from the third eye to the heart and filling the body.

Personally, I found this one challenging. The sensation of touching my eyeballs was uncomfortable and I had trouble keeping my mind focussed on the light.

#42
Intone a sound audibly, then less and less audibly as feeling deepens into this silent harmony.

Since we are all joining class by Zoom, we each were able mute our mics and choose our own sound, sigh, chant, or even song to interpret this one. We started loudly and then at our own pace quieted to silence and felt the “silent harmony.”

I loved this one and found it to be peaceful. I chanted Om until it naturally started to get quieter and quieter. After about 2 minutes, I was silent and feeling the resonance of the sound in my body. It was subtle but very powerful.

#30
Eyes closed, see your inner being in detail, thus see your true nature.

We used this meditation to supplement our Shavasana. How do you interpret “inner being”? That is the crux of this meditation. When you see it, what does it look like? A collection of organs and muscles? Light? Patterns?

I found it interesting to separate my inner being from my inner body. My inner body wanted breakfast; my stomach was rumbling by the end of class. Despite that, my inner being manifested itself in my imagination as bright and free and colorful.

Nine points of Drishti

Drishti is focal point that enhances concentration when you are performing asanas, pranayama and meditation.

The nine points are sky, thumbs, third eye, nose, hand, navel, toes, left, and right.

While some yoga styles have a fixed or “correct” drishti for each pose, I prefer to let myself choose in the moment. For example, in seated forward fold I might use Nose or Toes. Each of these adds a distinct “feel” to the same pose.

Assorted drishti

Next time you practice, see if you can recognise the focal point of each pose that you do. Note whether it helps you to concentrate and hold the pose more firmly.

Walking Meditation (10 minutes)

Summary

Join me on a 10 minute walking meditation no matter where you are.

Step mindfully with attention to each step. When your mind wanders, bring awareness to your breath, sensations in your body, and your five senses. Then return mindfulness back to the walk.

History of Asanas

Asana comes from the Sanskrit for “sitting” and around 500 BCE the first writing about asanas described them as a comfortable and stable seated pose for meditation.In the 10th century, a yogi stated that there were 84 asanas that came from the god Shiva. But they weren’t listed or described until 700 years later.

In the 19th century, asanas started to mix with other physical exercise practices.In the early 20th century, asanas arrived in America and there were many new yoga centers creating postures and sequences of poses. Hollywood stars, like Marilyn Monroe, did yoga for exercise.

In 1966, Y.S. Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” showed 200 asanas in photographs. This book forms the ABCs of modern yoga.

Today, we have so many postures and positions that I’m not sure there is a real count. In 1984, Dharma Mittra compiled a list of 1,300 asanas, but I know that many yoga teachers (like me!) invent things for their classes. How many asanas? Wakaranai!

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