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Health, travel, environment and other related topics. Tips and tricks for keeping your body in shape for spiritual life. Taking care of your health while traveling in India.

Astanga Yoga - Pros and Cons



Pagal Baba - Mon, 12 Jan 2004 05:57:01 +0530
I don't do many asanas myself, but I do practice Tai Chi almost daily. I know there are plenty of devotees that do the pranayama and asanas. In fact Parivrajakacharya Das (formerly Swami) is quite accomplished in that discipline. Certainly there are health benefits, and who wants to sit down to do bhajan when they aren't feeling well?

I am sure there are some good resources for learning some daily practice techniques. I guess it is a matter of balancing it, just like everything else in life, without getting too obsessed with it.

So, please discuss it and speak your minds about it. Hopefully it will be lively discourse and not overly heated. You never know around here. ohmy.gif
Mina - Mon, 12 Jan 2004 05:58:50 +0530
You took the words right out of my mouth, Baba.

Who is your Tai Chi master, if you don't mind my asking?
Pagal Baba - Mon, 12 Jan 2004 06:00:59 +0530
Master Yoda.

Oh wait ... He's my Jedi Master.

It's Master Ming. That's right, Master Ming. He's not from earth you know.
Madhava - Mon, 12 Jan 2004 06:10:15 +0530
Among other projects, I am currently working on the website of our Taiji / Wushu group. I've found Taiji a particularly balancing practice, while Wushu helps me out as a more dynamic exercise.

Hatha-yoga is all right, too, though I sometimes find it a bit boring. Inaction in action.

They tell of the legend of the origin of Kungfu, that it was taught by a wandering Indian sadhu to the monks of the Shaolin monastery, who were all in a sloppy shape and unable to endure long exercises of meditation with rapt attention.

Physical fitness helps keeping your mind sharp. People who don't practice anything easily fall into inertia.
Madhava - Mon, 12 Jan 2004 06:13:55 +0530
By the way, I believe this thread belongs under Health and Related Topics.
Mina - Tue, 13 Jan 2004 03:27:33 +0530
Yes, it can fit under that category nicely, yet at the same time it goes beyond just the health aspects, I do believe. The eight limbs of yoga practice include various types of sAdhanA.

Are those Taiji and Wushu styles hard or soft? There is a world of difference between Kungfu and Tai Chi. Someone recently told me that he knows Tai Chi automatically because he studied Tae Kwan Do, yet he did not recognize any of the simple movements I showed him, such as step back and repulse monkey or play the lute.
avisan - Fri, 19 Mar 2004 21:21:23 +0530
QUOTE(Madhava @ Jan 12 2004, 12:40 AM)
Among other projects, I am currently working on the website of our Taiji / Wushu group. I've found Taiji a particularly balancing practice, while Wushu helps me out as a more dynamic exercise.

Hatha-yoga is all right, too, though I sometimes find it a bit boring. Inaction in action.

They tell of the legend of the origin of Kungfu, that it was taught by a wandering Indian sadhu to the monks of the Shaolin monastery, who were all in a sloppy shape and unable to endure long exercises of meditation with rapt attention.

Physical fitness helps keeping your mind sharp. People who don't practice anything easily fall into inertia.

is your website on taiji/wushu ready.Do let me know when it is.I have a question-is there not a risk of one's focus shifting away from krishna consciousness to the chinese systems if a devotee takes to taiji/wushu etc?
Madhava - Sat, 20 Mar 2004 01:37:30 +0530
QUOTE(avisan @ Mar 19 2004, 03:51 PM)
Is your website on taiji/wushu ready? Do let me know when it is. I have a question-is there not a risk of one's focus shifting away from krishna consciousness to the chinese systems if a devotee takes to taiji/wushu etc?

It is not really my website as such; I am not a Taiji-master. I am a webmaster, mainly involved with the technical side of the site. You can find the site here.

Whenever one engages in anything but the direct methods of sAdhana, one runs the risk of the focus shifting. Such are the ways of life in this world. A person determined in his quest for the goal, bhagavat-prema, will generally be able to accommodate the various "material" aspects of life without much concern. We all need to lead a healthy life to prosper in bhajana.

When you speak of Chinese systems, I take it that you mean some of the philosophical systems involved at the root of Taijiquan and many of the forms of Wushu. That would be mainly Taoism with Taijiquan, while the various forms of Kung Fu are much tied with Buddhism. Is there something in particular you find difficult orimpossible in them to accommodate within a vaiSNava-view of the world?
avisan - Sat, 20 Mar 2004 17:36:07 +0530
QUOTE(Madhava @ Mar 19 2004, 08:07 PM)
When you speak of Chinese systems, I take it that you mean some of the philosophical systems involved at the root of Taijiquan and many of the forms of Wushu. That would be mainly Taoism with Taijiquan, while the various forms of Kung Fu are much tied with Buddhism. Is there something in particular you find difficult orimpossible in them to accommodate within a vaiSNava-view of the world?

first of all let me say that I agree with you that physical fitness is required to keep the mind sharp.And being of a sluggish nature I feel that action oriented wu shu would enable me to come out of inertia.
but then yoga(ie.asanas and pranayama) as a means of physical culture seems to be more compatible with vaishnavism.I find it difficult to go into tai chi or kung fu and not appreciate at least some aspects of taoism or buddhism.This seems to me to be a danger.for eg. a taoist eg of bamboo shoots bending with the wind and hence remaining intact seems to be a good one.
Actually I am more interested in the breathing systems (chi kung).Is there any form of chi kung integrated with (shaolin) forms so that one can develop a martial art along with breath training.
the history of kung fu mentions an indian connection.Is the original art which bodhiharma taught still available?That might actually be along the lines of hatha yoga.
Lastly I must again add that my involvement in all this as yet is purely theoretical.I have only been reading so far,not practised anything.Armchair philosophy,one may say.But if doubts are removed I may start practising and maybe come out of inertia.
Madhava - Sat, 20 Mar 2004 20:18:32 +0530
Indeed, physical fitness helps a long way in keeping the mind sharp.

How would hatha-yoga be so much more compatible with vaiSNavism? I believe the path of mystic yoga (of which hatha-yoga partakes) is classified under one of the classical distractions on the path of bhakti.

Is there something inherently wrong with appreciating Buddhism or Taoism? In my opinion, all culture and religion should be appreciated.

As for Qi Gong, basically all forms of Wushu have a relationship with it. This depends much on the teacher. Some modern teachers may not care much of it. She Ying Quan (snake-form), one of the five classical animal forms of the Shaolin-tradition, has much to do with Qi, being an inner style to a good extent.

I do not think the original teachings of Boddhidharma are documented anywhere.
Bapuji - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 08:56:22 +0530
But, in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Srila Rupa Goswami gives the example of the brahmana who was doing pranayama and performing in his mind his daily service of cooking sweet rice offerings for the Lord. Then one day he burnt his finger while testing the sweet-rice.
Pranayama is a part of hatha-yoga. I has been shown that even yoga performed with the aim of fixing the mind on service to the Lord can also be successful.

It depends on what is the object of the yoga and meditation. If one is doing it for focusing his mind on Krishna, it is not the same as if he is trying to merge into the brahmajyoti.
Controlling the breath is very helpful in controlling the mind. In yoga, controlling the breath is tantamount to controlling the mind. Hatha means SUN-MOON and refers to the process of controlling the mind through controlling the breath. If one uses pranayama for controlling the mind to fix it on Vishnu, then it becomes part of bhakti-yoga.
Srila Rupa Goswami has shown that.
Bhaktivedanta Swami states that in bygone ages the practice of yoga and pranayama was common knowledge amongst even ordinary people. That was Vedic culture. Instead of jogging and going to the gym, people practiced yoga for physiological health.
Theos Bernard wrote in his book on hatha-yoga that the purely physiological form of hatha-yoga done for maintaining health is actually ghatastha-yoga (physiological) and is not for for the attainment of mystic powers.
Bhaktivedanta Swami had his "morning walks" that he did at a very brisk pace that even his young disciples had to practically jog to keep up with him sometimes.
Everybody needs some form of physical exercise to keep the body in good physical condition. Hatha-yoga in it's physiological form was practiced by many Vaishnavas in bygone ages, as was shown in the example given by Srila Rupa Goswami.
Madhava - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 09:49:22 +0530
Jiva writes that, in his tika (1.2.182). In that connection, Jiva mentions that he practiced various asanas and pranayama to attain a peaceful mind prior to his seva-dhyana (meditational services).

So, although pranayama in itself is not direct devotional service, if it is engaged to facilitate both physical and psychic suitability for acts of devotion, it is considered helpful. I wonder, how much different is it, then, from any other methods that can be suitably applied for similar aims? Whatever works should be employed.

As for the statement that in the bygone ages people engaged in yoga instead of the various sports we see nowadays, I wonder how far that statement could be proven, particularly the "instead" in place of "in addition".
Bapuji - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 10:17:53 +0530
QUOTE
As for the statement that in the bygone ages people engaged in yoga instead of the various sports we see nowadays, I wonder how far that statement could be proven, particularly the "instead" in place of "in addition".



I would imagine that it depended on one's varna and ashrama. The Ksatriyas were probably more inclined to gaming and sporting etc. etc.
The yogic lifestyle was probably more associated with the Brahminical order who were not likey to be partaking of sporting and gaming.
The sudras got plenty of exercise doing physical labor, so they probably did not practice yoga anyway.

As far as the ENLIGHTENED brahmincal order goes, I would think that they were more inclined to yoga practice than playing sports.

I was told that Bhaktivedanta Swami told some disciple that he could do his hatha-yoga during the time when it would not interfere with his temple schedule and service. I think I remember hearing that he said that one could substitute some of the allotted 6 hours of sleep for practicing hatha-yoga. If one is willing to do yoga instead of sleeping, then Bhaktivedanta Swami had no problem with it.
dhaa - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 10:40:06 +0530
mana ekatra saṃyujyāj
jita-śvāso jitāsanaḥ
vairāgyābhyāsa-yogena
dhriyamāṇam atandritaḥ

SB 11.9.11: Having perfected the yoga sitting postures and conquered the breathing process, one should make the mind steady by detachment and the regulated practice of yoga. Thus one should carefully fix the mind on the single goal of yoga practice

purport: ...According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the avadhūta brāhmaṇa is recommending bhakti-miśra aṣṭāńga-yoga, or the eightfold mystic yoga process performed as an offering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead...
nabadip - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 14:03:50 +0530
QUOTE
If one is willing to do yoga instead of sleeping, then Bhaktivedanta Swami had no problem with it.


Such advice is sarcasm, not to say sadistic, or if well intended, plain ignorance. Of course, one could sleep during class (or while giving class, as some have shown), or while reading those books. wink.gif

Sleep-deprivation is a form of torture, and a sign of sectarian practice. Every individual and age group requires different lengths of sleep. Ayurveda knows of it. To impose on other people's sleep pattern is just plain sick... complementing that with the overuse of white sugar, a poison for the brain, and more acid-forming food-items you get that kind of brain-function and expressions of consciousness you see displayed in these organisations. No amount of hatha-yoga or use of supplements is going to do them any good, especially, if the person on the next sleeping mat says they are in Maya. These orgs are sick and make sick, and those responsible for such misguidance are accountable for the abuse caused.

Jai Nitai.
Anand - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 17:35:44 +0530
I believe it better if you had added "I believe" or "I think" or "It appears" to your statement above, so it would be uninvasive of other people's religion. If accountability is going to be your religion, may I make the point that perhaps it is equally significant that you denounce unaccountability wherever it is still in effect. Maybe it would be more effective for you as far as a religious practice.

I think it is silly to blame govenment peanutbutter or white sugar intake, or little sleep, for the choices people make.
Bapuji - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 20:11:32 +0530
QUOTE
Such advice is sarcasm, not to say sadistic, or if well intended, plain ignorance.


Then surely you have never practiced yoga, to see that performing some yoga techinques can reduce the need for sleep. I was not saying that one could completely give up sleep and do yoga. I was saying that one could replace 30 minutes or an hour of sleep with yoga.
Myself, when I lived in some temples I practiced some hatha-yoga and found it refreshing and invigorating and reducing my need for sleep.
For example ; the headstand. I would do 30 minute headstands once or twice a day - morning and evening. It was a very powerful practice that improved my mental focus greatly. All my Godbrothers noticed the effect. One of the Swamis that I worked with asked me if I was doing some hatha-yoga. I acknowledged - yes.
He said "whatever you are doing it is very effective". I practiced several of my favorite yogic techniques, especially the agnisara-dhauti, uddiyana-bandha, tratak,shirshasan and pranayama.
I felt a lot more mental clarity and focus and it improved my ability to focus on chanting. Sometimes the mind wanders alot when chanting. I found that yoga discipline helped me control my mind and focus it more on chanting without all these other thoughts going through my mind.


Of course, if you have never practiced yoga seriously, then all you can do is make unqualified judgements and say all sorts of stupid things about it.

Unqualified opinions really mean nothing.
nabadip - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 20:42:29 +0530
I addressed the six-hour advice for everyone, though I did not quote it in my post.
nabadip - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 20:57:15 +0530
Ananda:

If you do not see the connection between the food people eat and the levels of intellectual comptence, you have to live in Switzerland for some time and then visit the United States. The shock is vehement. It is most likely the white sugar intake plus the other carbohydrate-overdoses that makes people as dull and overweight as they are there.

Also it is well observed, that the type of food you eat affects you emotionally considerably. The meat-eating/vegetarian contrast is obvious. Other connections are emerging more and more. you mentioned it: peanut butter. Many people overreact emotionally after peanut-intake, and/or get asthmatic. that's re this statement: (my quotes jump down
QUOTE
I think it is silly to blame govenment peanutbutter or white sugar intake, or little sleep, for the choices people make.


Regarding your advice how i should practice, I'll try to understand what you are saying, but I do not fully get it.
Madhava - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 21:07:43 +0530
I trust we need not quote Bhagavad-gita for that solid point... A man is what he eats. All Ayurvedic doctors I've come across classify white sugar as tamasic.

Food intake and sleep deprivation (or excess sleep) certainly do affect people's ability of judgement. Svapna, or sleep, is one of the five aspects of buddhi; if buddhi is deprived of svapna, it eventually becomes disfunctional.

Here's an interesting proposal: "When imposed willfully on a subject, sleep deprivation is seen as a violation of basic human rights."
nabadip - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 21:26:32 +0530
QUOTE
Then surely you have never practiced yoga, to see that performing some yoga techinques can reduce the need for sleep.


When I have not gotten enough sleep the previous night and need to be fully present for some task I do make sarvasanga asana for prolonged time, and do get the benefit you describe. I notice the same effect (considerably reduced need of sleep) through meditation where one observes breathing; it is a form of unforced pranayama which balances breath to equal lengths naturally.

My whole point was to someone imposing rules on how long one's sleep should be. To pass such rules to young people is irresponsible. and on top of it to say that the person with the 6 hour sleep-pattern can do astanga-yoga, if he wants to pay with less sleep for it, that is just plain .... (choose your word).
Bapuji - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 21:34:32 +0530
According to Gaudiya acharyas, the six Goswamis were into "sleep deprivation" as they were said have slept only 2 hours a night and sometimes not even that.
Even my father, after reaching his 70s found it difficult to sleep more than four hours a night.
Sleeping requirements also diminsh with age. Infants need 12 hours a day while they are growing so fast. Once growth has stopped, then 8 hours is enough.
At middle age one needs less than that - maybe only six. In old age, many people find they cannot sleep more than four hours a night.

Myself, being out of my yogic practice and immersed in worldy obligations, I find that I need about 7 hours to wake up refreshed and invigorated. Too much sleep can cause a melatonin overdose and leave us feeling tamasic and lethargic.

Also, I had heard in the temples that the Ayurvedic wisdom said that one hour of sleep before midnight was better than two hours of sleep after midnight. I don't know how or why this is true, but I have found that getting at least two hours of sleep before midnight can reduce the need for sleep by at least and hour.

Wasn't it Bhaktivinode Thakur who was said to have taken rest at about 9:00 p.m. and rising at 1:00 a.m. to do his writting and bhajan? Taking rest at 9:00 p.m. is a really great sadhana if one uses that to the advantage and rising at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. and using the most quiet and peaceful hours of the day for bhajan and study.

If I take rest at 9:00 p.m., I will naturally wake up early and more refreshed than if I stay up after midnight loitering in forums or watching television.
nabadip - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 21:58:43 +0530
I have noticed that when in India I need much less sleep than when I am in Switzerland, and here again I need less in summer when there is more sunlight.
The same is true when I am in California or other sunny places.
I think sleep patterns are rather well studied scientifically.: googling would reveal a lot, I am sure.

Do you know that Ayurveda input about the tridosha rhythm during the day? Four hours after sunset Pitta-dosha is predominant. If one has not fallen asleep before around 10 p.m., pitta will take over and keep one awake well into the night, falling asleep being more difficult in this intervall.
Madhava - Sun, 21 Mar 2004 23:57:12 +0530
QUOTE(Bapuji @ Mar 21 2004, 04:04 PM)
According to Gaudiya acharyas, the six Goswamis were into "sleep deprivation" as they were said have slept only 2 hours a night and sometimes not even that.

Sleep deprivation is not the same thing as a natural reduction of the necessity for sleep.


QUOTE
Also, I had heard in the temples that the Ayurvedic wisdom said that one hour of sleep before midnight was better than two hours of sleep after midnight. I don't know how or why this is true, but I have found that getting at least two hours of sleep before midnight can reduce the need for sleep by at least and hour.

I recall also reading from one Ayurvedic title about the ideal times for awakening; the text spoke something of two periods during which the body becomes re-energized, the second one taking place sometime before 6.00 AM. Hence, according to that text anyway, one should be sleeping during those hours to have the body fully recharged.
Anand - Mon, 22 Mar 2004 01:47:56 +0530
As far as eating habits, Switzerland does advertise its chocolate and dairy products, thus becoming implicated in irresponability just as much as any other irresponsible Nation.

As far as a man being what he eats, according to Bg., I always understood that the opposite is the fact: that a man eats what he is. We act according to the mode of material nature we are under. This can of course be regulated for balance where balance is in lack, however, the choice is ultimately the responsibility of each individual according to his nature. This has been my understanding so far.

In this regard, I have a personal theory that the generally unusual (for the mother) cravings of expectant mothers are caused, beyond the verified causes, by the tastes of the child in the womb carried from previous life or lives and communicated to the mother somehow. I have personally observed that the foods my children favor are the ones I had strong cravings for as they were forming their bodies inside. Foods that did not necessarily appeal to me otherwise.

The ascertainment of what is to be practiced within a religion is the responsibility of each practicioner. If there is a strong belief, and therefore practice on, that an individual in the position of influencing others must be accountable for such influence, then all influential individuals must also be accountable universaly. Moreover, singling out one individual as responsible for the actions of many others doesn't seem to take entirely in consideration the simple principle of free will. A state of tamoguna, or ignorance, can be seen as consequence just as much as it can be seen as a cause.
Talasiga - Wed, 13 Oct 2004 04:49:57 +0530
QUOTE(Anand @ Mar 21 2004, 08:17 PM)
.....................
I always understood that the opposite is the fact: that a man eats what he is. ................................


This morning I must be a Sultana. Darlings, darlings! How does one say "darlings" in Arabic? cool.gif
JD33 - Sun, 28 Nov 2004 02:38:32 +0530
QUOTE
Madhava: I recall also reading from one Ayurvedic title about the ideal times for awakening; the text spoke something of two periods during which the body becomes re-energized, the second one taking place sometime before 6.00 AM. Hence, according to that text anyway, one should be sleeping during those hours to have the body fully recharged.


Madhava - interesting point - I have also heard long time ago about the two times before dawn that the 'energization' takes place and the advice was to be up at that time in Bhajan to get the most benifit from it! I am sure you will like this idea! Its really inspiring, etc.
Madhava - Sun, 28 Nov 2004 03:17:29 +0530
Now that's an interesting perspective! I would assume though that one would have to be engaged in some sort of peaceful bhajan rather than jogging around. smile.gif
JD33 - Sun, 28 Nov 2004 03:32:06 +0530
Right - exactly! sitting up, deep in Japa seva, etc.