When you practice yoga regularly, you will notice changes not only in your physical body, but also on a mental and emotional level. By doing yoga with full dedication and commitment, you are on a path of self-discovery!
Even if you are not flexible, or have excess fat in your body, if you think this is not for you, I encourage you to try, give it a chance. Sometimes you need to change multiple instructors to find a right one for you. Of course, not all people will be attracted to yoga and that is perfectly fine.
In my life I’ve been practicing various sports. After graduating from the Faculty of Sports and Physical education, I started working as a fitness trainer and conducted various group fitness programs as well as personal trainings. I always loved to see how people become healthier and happier; the smile on their face was my biggest reward. But for me, something was missing…
Gyms were always full, group programs were raising the adrenaline, but I was looking for some silence. When I tried yoga, first time in 2015, a whole new Universe opened to me and I would like to share with you a few important lessons that yoga taught me.
I have been practicing yoga regularly since 2016 and in 2020 I finished the Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga’s Teacher Training Course in Bangalore, India. I always believe that what is original is essential and truthful; that is why I wanted to study yoga that had been practiced even centuries ago.
Your body is your temple – this is so true. Take care of your body, feel your body, connect to your body. There is no better way to do this than yoga! I am pretty sure! And it is not only about your body, it is much more… If you are interested in knowing what exactly yoga can teach you in life, keep on reading!
1.Love and accept your physical body
How much do we really love and accept our body? How many times do we say “if I could only change this…”? How often do we feel the pain in some body parts and what do we do about it? Our body is sending us signs that we should do something about it.
In yoga, you have the opportunity to connect to your body, feel your body and also transform your body, become more flexible, stronger and healthier. Body transformation will always follow the inner transformation. When you do the asanas, you are fully aware of the body parts involved, you actually feel what is going on in your body and you respect the limits of your body. So there is no pushing or forcing!
2. Love and accept yourself
You are enough and you are unique! Being imperfect is perfectly fine! Drop all of your self-judgment, self-criticism and allow yourself to flow, to be natural. Yoga will teach you that!
You are much more than your physical body. Yoga can lead you to higher levels of awareness and you can only reach this state only when you are in silence and when you are in deep peace.
3. Be in the present
Be here and now. Present time is the only thing you have. Past is gone, future is unknown, so be in now. When you practice the asanas, you are fully in the present moment, feeling what is going on inside you and in your physical body. When the mind starts wandering, the effect is much less. When you are fully focused, which gets improved by practice, you also start to live more in the present in your daily life, and concentration levels are much higher.
4. Do not compare with others
Your neighbor in yoga class might be doing that amazing advanced yoga posture that you’ve always dreamed of! And you are maybe struggling even to move your finger! So what?!
We are all different. Yoga is only about yourself, there is no need to compare with anyone, not only in yoga but in life as well. Everyone has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. Keep on practicing regularly and you will become much better, there is no need to show off nor to compare with anyone.
5. Small steps towards big success
“Success comes before work only in the dictionary” is one of my favorite quotes. Today some yoga postures may not be easy, but the more you practice you will become much better and enter into the postures much more easily. For some postures, it may take longer, but keep on practicing. In yoga, as in life, commitment and discipline are the essential part of the success.
6. Failure is fine
When you already have been practicing yoga for a certain period of time and your body is ready for more advanced postures, you may fall hundred times until you learn how to perform certain asanas. “Failure is not the opposite of success; failure is the part of success”.
7. Flexibility, balance and strength
As your body becomes more flexible, the more you will be flexible in life. You will just go with the flow. Yoga also balances body and mind. The more you practice yoga, the more you will be balanced in your daily life. Yoga improves focus and concentration. You will become like a peaceful warrior, peaceful inside and strong and brave to deal with many different life challenges.
8. Everything starts with a breath
You can’t control your heartbeat, your digestion, secretion, etc. The only thing you can control is your breath. Without oxygen, there is no life. Everything starts with a breath. Different breathing techniques, or pranayamas, will help you become more peaceful, stress-free, relaxed, to sleep better, while some of them will make you more energetic, balanced, sharpen your focus. There are plenty of health benefits of breathing techniques, which are one of the important parts of traditional yoga classes.
9. You need to find time for yourself
In the modern world, we are so busy. There is a quote “If you can’t find time for your wellness, eventually you will find time for your illness”. You need this time for yourself. You deserve time for yourself. After yoga class, people usually feel so refreshed and rejuvenated.
And after all, just relax! Drop off all your thoughts, heaviness and relax completely. One of the best moments for many yoga practitioners is a deep relaxation part after yoga asanas. This feeling can hardly be put in words, you have to experience that!
Authors: Monika Nedic, yoga instructor
Since the days of war in Former Yugoslavia, I embraced uncertainty as my friend and a launching pad into a better, more expanded understanding and experience of reality. Interestingly enough, when Mohanji and I got married in 2010, he told me: “By marrying me, you have married uncertainty.” He is usually very cryptic and it takes time to understand the deeper meaning of his words. I remember smiling and giving a naughty remark: “How romantic.” But at a deeper level, it was a confirmation for me that I am on the right path.
All our comfort zones are beloved to our ego and mind full of expectations, insecurities and desires. At the soul level, there is absolutely no attachment to comfort zones. We are all equipped by our Creator to deal with anything, and by that I mean anything, that comes our way – including the current Coronavirus fear pandemic perpetuated by the media.
I would like to start this experience sharing by looking back at the start of 2020, when I conducted an unforgettable Conscious Dancing session in Belgrade, Serbia. I remember the thought I had “This year is going to be something special.” From there on, I was in a full-speed – starting from Slovenia, I travelled to Serbia to conduct a training program, then proceeded to a pilgrimage to the Holy Land as Mohanji Foundation representative. This was followed by some super-intense series of yoga and meditation programs that I conducted in Qatar, various programs and trainings within Mohanji Foundation platform in Sri Lanka and India, then a month-long Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga Teacher Training Course (where I had committed to be actively involved as the Faculty till the final examinations), until the next destination where programs were planned – London.
Just before coming to India, our daughter Mila joined Mohanji and me in Sri Lanka for his birthday celebration and the travels that ensued. She was to stay with us for two weeks before resuming school in Slovenia. We even celebrated her birthday early, before she was scheduled to leave. However, just when the Yoga Teacher Training Course was ending, the sudden lock-down took place in India. In the middle of the night, as the full curfew was being enforced, I managed to reach Mohanji ashram in Bangalore, a lovely house in which Mohanji, his parents, Mila and a couple of our friends were staying. The entire situation with Coronavirus lockdown seemed like a scene from a Matrix movie. It was completely surreal.
All of this felt like somebody pressed a mighty break from above while I was on the fastest highway track, moving in full speed. “And now what?” was the natural question that arose in many minds, including mine. Air tickets were lost, programs cancelled, opportunities lost, plans changed, but at a deeper level, there was a lot to be gained. Upon Mohanji’s advice, and by the natural flow of the events that ensued, I intensified what was missing – quality time in silence within, through my own spiritual practice, as well as the quality time with our daughter Mila, who misses her parents too many times per year. Her Indian grandparents are elderly and this was a precious time for Mohan family to spend time together.
Moreover, soon after the lockdown had started, the auspicious time of Navratri came. Traditionally, this is the special time in India when different aspects and qualities of Divine Mother are being celebrated, worshipped and imbibed through a fire ceremony called Homa. Since the days of war and despair in Former Yugoslavia, when my spiritual journey effectively started, I felt an especially deep connection with the Divine Mother (in Christianity we call her Mother Mary, but later on in India, I connected at a deeper level with all aspects and qualities of Mother, including the powerful, fierce, protective one). This led me to choose the name Devi in 2015, to honour and further strengthen this sacred connection with Mother.
It is said that five is the minimum number of people needed to form solid group energy in any spiritual process. And so it happened that five of us (from Europe, USA, India and Australia), we’re blessed to get together and truly make the best out of the Coronavirus quarantine situation. We were getting up at 4.30 am to prepare and chant mantras for 3h hours every morning during those nine days of Navratri Homa. This was done in the virtual company of tens of thousands of people who were joining us through Facebook Live streaming. We were receiving feedback from people how powerful the cleansing was, crying, bliss, inner revelations, clarity at the level of the mind, deep inner experiences, all this took place.
In my case, it all culminated on the first and second day after Navratri. The morning after Navratri, on April 3rd, my usual Consciousness Kriya practice felt much deeper and I could feel the energy in my spine for quite some time afterwards. On April 4th, I followed the same routine of yoga and kriya and then felt the pull to take a nap afterwards. Mohanji told me that from 9 – 10.30 am that morning will be a “special time, highly auspicious, great for chanting Shiva mantras. Not a minute should be wasted.” I got up just on time and hurried to join my friends Rajesh and Ananth who did a prolonged Yagnya (cleansing through fire) especially for this occasion. Ananth then started chanting the Rudram – he said he has been practising Vedic chanting since childhood and really loves it. I must say it was really amazing. I could feel the effect of this Rudram, together with the Yagya that Rajesh was performing, and simply enjoyed the vibes seated next to them.
At some point I felt a super intense energy literally grabbing me from above. My eyes got rolled up and my lower jaw dropped instantly. I had no control over this energy and could not close my mouth, nor open my eyes, not to mention looking elsewhere. I was totally consumed by this intense, blissful energy. This was totally unexpected. While part of me was surrendered to this sudden state, another part of me was witnessing it all in awe, completely present in the moment. The entire experience was fascinating and a bit scary at the same time, depending on the perspective. I understand now why Kundalini is symbolically depicted as a snake. It really felt like a big snake coursing through my spine, while its hood on top of my head was like a huge, powerful magnet that kept my eyes rolled up and glued to it in the feeling of continuous, super intense presence.
I stayed in that state for an hour or so. It was beyond amazing! The whole experience lasted exactly till the end of those 90 minutes that Mohanji described as the important time for spiritual practice. Such is the blessing of having a Spiritual Master in one’s life. It took me a while to settle down and digest this experience in silence. After I grounded myself through a bit of food and could finally manage to speak, I thanked Ananth and Rajesh from the bottom of my heart. After some time, I went upstairs to joyfully share the experience with Mohanji, although aware that he would know about it anyway. After I briefly explained what had happened, he replied in his usual, cryptic way: “I know, I saw it. Good. Write about it while it is still fresh in your mind.”
It was then that I remembered that I had committed to Mia that I would contribute to the May edition of Refresh Your Life magazine. This experience created a sufficient momentum to write.
The following day, April 5th, was yet another special day. This time it was the extraordinary astrological position of Jupiter and Pluto conjunction. A global wave of meditation was being organized by many spiritual groups across the globe, all meditating at the same time. Mohanji agreed that we too give our contribution to this wave of positivity. I was to conduct it. We chose one of our standard meditations, but I was to modify it a bit to make it match with the intention and inclusion of the element of Light that was essential for this global wave. Little did I know how deeply this would hit me. The entire meditation was preparation to safely enter into a vast state of expansion, way beyond our planet, and connect with the Light. In all my years of meditation, I have never felt the light so vividly and intensely. From the Cosmic Sun, to galactic Suns, to the Central Sun of our Galaxy, my consciousness witnessed the flow of the sacred light to our Sun and then through our crown and spine, the light was being grounded into Mother Earth, all the way to her core. At the end I chanted a special mantra, celebrating the Light. Every cell of my body was vibrating and the glory of sacred unity was felt throughout. This was beyond beautiful. Again, I received many messages of gratitude from friends, who were also blown away by the power of this meditation. One of my friends shared her vision of higher beings, way above the 5th dimension, who joined us during this meditation and supported it with their blessings. I felt so incredibly blessed to serve as an instrument in this process. I will forever treasure all these sacred experiences. If it wasn’t for the Coronavirus quarantine, I doubt I would have been to dedicate this much time to spiritual practice. Thank you Universe, I forever trust the Divine Providence behind all our experiences.
I was reminded of the ancient Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times.” This is that special time on our planet when a huge transformation is taking place at the level of individual consciousness, collective consciousness, from the understanding of our reality and our true history, to a huge change in our education system, healthcare, financial/economic system – all of it. It is a great blessing to be alive in the here and now. My message to all the readers is – choose wisely how you utilize this precious time off that has been given to us. Be aware where your attention goes, for where the attention goes, the energy flows. May this be a great time of transformation and spiritual awakening for all of us.
Author: Devi Mohan is Global Ambassador for Mohanji Foundation, Senior Instructor of the Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga (HSTY), and Global President of ACT Foundation, an internationally active charity. Participant at various international events, initiatives, and forums: from interfaith dialogue and world peace-related forums such as the Parliament of World’s Religions, Peace Pledge Project and Unity Earth, to non-violence and women empowerment-related events and initiatives such as Vegan India Conference and Women Emerging. Through her inspirational speeches, she aims to touch the hearts of people and serve the cause of peace through the active expression of love and expansion of consciousness.
This article was first published on Refresh Your Life Magazine https://ryl.rs/
Each December, around my birthday, I witness a new synchronicity which appears in relation with some changed circumstances in my life. As if some new birth takes place. The death of one identity, the loss, so I would learn a lesson about detachment, or as gamers would say, I so I would move to the next level of this game called life. The last December, in 2019, in just 24 hours, I experienced once again how the cosmos functions. My daily job was bothering me because I had the urge to dedicate myself more to my purpose of adding value to society and helping people progress spiritually. Ever since I completed the intensive Mohanji Acharya training in October 2019, along with 100 other people from all over the world, I swore to life which assumes adding value to society, I have learnt not to waste my time but to keep asking at every moment what else I can do, how else I can help. As our thoughts and energy always flawlessly create just what we want, even if don’t say it, a few days after my birthdays I was faced with the news that the company I was working for would no longer need my services. On the same day at my office, I received the book “Life and Teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba”, one of the greatest masters and enlightened people who belongs to the same tradition as Mohanji, my spiritual teacher who has brought me closer to myself and to my life purpose.
While I was packing my things from the office, I looked at the book which was smiling at me from the desk and felt it was time for the next adventure. The next day, I received the news that someone had anonymously donated the money for me to attend the one-month course for the certified Yoga teacher of the Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga in India, which I would otherwise not be able to attend: if I had kept my job, I couldn’t attend it due to the lack of time, and I could not afford it without the job.
So, the cosmos miraculously arranged everything for me and helped me skip both obstacles, temporal and financial, in just 24 hours. I made a plan with a couple of friends who are also Mohanji Acharyas (those who spread and live Mohanji’s teachings about adding value to society, unconditional love and non-violence), to visit the temple in Shirdi after the Yoga course. I felt that Shirdi Sai Baba has invited us to India through his book Sai Satcharita.
Since a few of us who have travelled to India to the Yoga training are also volunteers of the charity organization ACT Serbia Foundation, after arriving in Bangalore we organized three charity actions in the centers for elderly people, as well as the centers for very poor children. Part of the teachings of the traditional Yoga also encompasses Karma Yoga or philosophy stating that we cannot progress spiritually until we start being unselfish, generous and modest. That would mean we should share all that we have, share from the heart and not allow our ego to take any credit for these generous acts.
It’s been over one month since I arrived in hot India and I’m laughing out loud to my plans. Life teaches us that the plans’ purpose is to fail and thus teach us flexibility and acceptance of the current situation. Within the Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga, we have learned not just about asanas, but also about pranayama (breathing exercises), Yoga philosophy, ancient wisdom, Ayurveda, anatomy, Sanskrit and a true Yogi’s way of life. A real Yogi strives to conquer not just the body, but the mind as well. The fundamental teaching is ahimsa or non-violence in thoughts, words and actions. Our life should be such that we do not hurt or do not even have the intention of hurting anyone, not even in our thoughts. The goal of every Yogi is to liberate the mind in order to merge with the universal divine consciousness which is the source of everything. The mind is considered a beautiful instrument which enables us to experience the universe. We have come to this world to have certain experiences. When we are ready to get rid of the mind’s impurities and all the patterns we have accumulated through lifetimes, a master or a teacher whose purpose is to direct us toward the final destination appears in our life. That is why great masters often say that the clear sign of spiritual progress is having fewer thoughts per second. Until we completely liberate our mind. That is exactly what the people are striving towards by practising meditation. Yoga helps us with that.
Yoga unifies body, mind and spirit.
The day before was supposed to be the last day of the training for Traditional Yoga teachers, and twenty or so of us from different countries, cultural and religious backgrounds were looking forward to the final results and to the successful completion of our training. For days we were bombed by the news of Coronavirus and its consequences around the world. Our flights were cancelled. We were trying to book the new tickets and return home, but we kept receiving different news every moment. At first, the websites were showing three times higher prices of the tickets which we were not even able to book. After that, we were able to book the tickets but the payments wouldn’t go through since even the bank systems started glitching. When we finally managed to book the tickets, we were informed that the Serbian airports were closed. Very soon after that, the Indian government declared the complete lockdown which should last for 21 days. A very loud silence ensued. At one moment, we could only hear mosquitos, crickets and frogs.
All the textbooks about the body, as well as mind detox state the period of 21 days is ideal if we want to cleanse our organism, leave a bad habit, have a transformation. During this period the cells in our organism are renewing as well. They say that Coronavirus attacks the heart and the lungs. The feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt and helplessness are the emotions which additionally attack these organs on the physical level and additionally weaken our immune system, which makes us even more susceptible to viruses like Corona. Out of twenty-something people who were “stuck” in Bangalore, ten of us were Mohanji Acharyas. We quickly became aware that it is no coincidence the ten of us ended up together in isolation. In the couple of previous weeks, we were learning what it means to be a true Yogi through philosophy and theory, and now was the time to check how much of it we actually apply in our lives. Americans have the saying “walk the talk” implying we need to live in accordance with what preach. We realized we didn’t want to spend a single hour panicking and allowing self-pity, panic and anger to take over. We organized a meeting to which we invited everyone present to make the plan about the structure of our day and organize programs both for us here, as well as record the content and techniques to share with the whole world and contribute to the overall stability and positivity. The morning starts with yoga and breathing exercises, during the day we organize meditations, conscious dancing and group Mai-Tri energy treatments, and the evenings are ideal for singing bhajans or chanting mantras. Mantras as well as prayers rise the vibration of our organism and do not allow the negative energies to reach us.
Considering most of the staff which were helping us so far had been sent home, we split into teams and assigned tasks: Cooking Team, Cleaning and Washing Team, Changing the Sheets Team. One day we change the sheets, the next we peel vegetables and prepare the pastry for chapati (yes, we have learned some Indian recipes), the third day we clean the rooms. This reminded me of the scene from the novel Eat, Pray, Love where Elisabeth Gilbert describes how she went through experiences of cleaning an ashram in India. She visited a few countries in order to experience the transformation through extremes, and we got three in one through this isolation.
What will happen tomorrow? I don’t know. I know I have scheduled recording of the video about emotional stability for our Mohanji Acharyas YouTube Channel with the purpose of empowering as many people as possible in this period of instability.
Tomorrow I may conduct a meditation or help in the kitchen. Or both things consecutively. There is no true spirituality without flexibility. I think the Yogi within me has finally stopped resisting the unexpected. Even the monkeys stopped entering the room and destroying things, now they are waiting for me to go outside and give them biscuits. I guess they can see the benefits of our isolation too. There is also something good in it.
When we realize there is no point in resisting or expecting anything from the outside; we just grow silent. And then we feel the gentle breeze of transformation.
Author: Sanja Stanković
Sanja is a Sociologist with a career in Human Resources. Her hobby is empowering people through many humanitarian actions that she’s conducting with her volunteer team from the ACT Foundation. In the business environment, she strives to raise awareness of people on the importance of mindfulness, well-being and kindness. She believes in the power of personal responsibility as well as the possibility of changing environment by providing personal examples.
Yoga off the mat means actualizing our Yoga practice into a life with awareness, filled with love, selflessness, compassion, surrender and higher purpose.
This is best expressed by the famous slogan of Sathya Sai Baba: ‘My life is my message’. As per the subtle but unmistakable energy laws, preaching something one doesn’t live eventually leads to imbalance and illness. That is why true yogis and Yoga instructors by default, become the living ambassadors of a yogic lifestyle – and this is definitely much more than one’s practice on a Yoga mat.
Yoga off the mat is not equal to yoga postures off the mat. Down-dogging in tight or transparent pants in the effort of seductive attention-seeking is not yoga. Similarly, yogic lifestyle does not include any degree of ‘holier than thou’ attitude rooted in spiritual ego. Yoga is all about being natural, a steady effort of embracing and living our highest version and our highest potential. The number of complex Yoga asanas one can conquer does not reflect the depth of yoga. The way in which we live our life, the energy we radiate, the beauty of our relationships and our ability to snap out of the negative states of mind much faster than before (braving the blockages within through awareness and the ever-active inner witness), are the true signs of a sincere and deep yoga practice.
Moreover, the inner balance, alignment, lightness and fullness that true yoga practice brings inevitably include non-violence. When awareness is applied to postures, movement and breath, we become real practitioners; when awareness is applied to our food choices, we become vegan.
This text is my small contribution to a natural and inevitable link between yoga, ahimsa (non-violence, one of the critical yamas of the yogic sage Patanjali) and social service (Karma Yoga, an active expression of love and unity consciousness) which I embrace, live and breathe.
Given the fast approaching International Day of Yoga (IDY) on 21 June, I would like to start with a historical description of yoga by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, who firmly placed yoga onto the international stage in 2015 by initiating the world-wide celebration of IDY:
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies the unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in wellbeing. Let us work towards adopting this on International Yoga Day.”
By living the five precepts of social conduct (yamas), one of the eight limbs of yoga defined by Patanjali almost 3000 years ago in his famous Yoga Sutras —non-violence, non-lying, non-stealing, non-excess and non-possessiveness—one gains a clear compass of universal morality. By following these precepts, and by expanding one’s individual practice to include the remaining seven limbs of yoga (niyama, asana, pranayama, dharana, dhyana and, ultimately, the state of samadhi), one can achieve actual yogic presence in his/her daily life.
Non-violence (ahimsa) stands out as the number one precept among the yamas because violence and yoga morally and experientially stand in direct opposition to each other.
There are different dimensions to ahimsa – from eliminating physical violence at the level of thought, word and action, absence of any self-shaming/emotional hate, to no killing and no harming of any sentient being – in all these ways, the principle of ahimsa helps one awaken to a new level of subtlety and love. There is no compromise, no degree of violence any Yogi could ever embrace and still remain one, as non-violence creates the very base of yogic practice.
What I love about yoga the most is that yamas, the socio-moral precepts, are not some punitive measures that members of a global Yoga community are threatened by. The ancient sages who gave us the knowledge of yoga firmly placed the focus on the experiential side of yoga, which organically expands one’s awareness from within, thus making the outer shackles of dogma wholly unnecessary and redundant. There is no stick of hell in yoga, only expansion in awareness and intensity of the inner experience. Just like a fruit that naturally falls off the tree when ripe, after the direct experience of prana (the subtle life force energy) and inner fullness, a sincere Yoga practitioner can’t but become subtler, more sensitive and loving, more connected with nature.
I state this with absolute conviction: any fellow being from the animal kingdom, breathing the same air and vibrating with the same prana that connects all creation, can’t be eaten with indifference by a sincere Yoga practitioner.
When I started my Yoga practice in 2005, I had already dropped red meat and chicken, but still continued to consume seafood, eggs and dairy products. After another couple of years of practice, and especially after becoming a Yoga instructor in 2007, I finally took the plight of all animals off of my plate. That was the time when I freed myself up to truly and deeply connect with each and every animal—not as a product of the meat and dairy industry nicely served on the shelves and plates, but as a fellow being. By embracing the vegan diet, I consciously renounced the confinement, abuse, and killing of animals. In this way, I was able to disengage myself from one of the most common and grossly overlooked forms of violence on our planet – factory farming. Such cruelty cannot be supported by our food choices. This fundamental shift happened after the realization that we are indeed interconnected, that at a deeper level their suffering is my own, and that I can no longer bring myself to the necessary level of insensitivity to be able to ignore it.
Since 2007, the practice and teaching of yoga have had a profound impact on my ability to understand and enjoy life. Yoga helped me sail through some really tough challenges of life, avoiding deeper scars, while continuously cleansing deeply buried emotions and blockages. Prenatal yoga helped me a lot during pregnancy, ensuring smooth, natural delivery of my daughter Mila. Moreover, after being diagnosed with post-delivery Hypothyroidism, the daily practice of Yoga and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) in particular, helped me get off the Eltroxin medicine that doctors said I was doomed to take till the rest of my life. Hypothyroidism was also connected with my dissatisfaction with a career within the stifling system of the corporate world where I felt that hardly 10% of me was alive and being expressed. While some people find their place and expression in the corporate world, I am definitely not one of them. Since then, you will never see me in black and grey clothes again.
My illness disappeared entirely after the shift from a corporate lifestyle to Yoga teaching and conducting life transforming retreats took place in 2014. This shift helped me realize and embrace my uniqueness and allowed me to express myself fully. I started to really enjoy what I do. I am forever grateful to Mohanji, my husband and spiritual teacher, for encouraging me to take the plunge and leave the false comfort of my office job. With yoga, everything suddenly made a lot of sense – my postgraduate Peace studies, life challenges during the war in Former Yugoslavia, my dreams and aspirations. A whole new dimension of life flowered within me when I started teaching yoga full-time.
The blissful expressions of my students after coming out of Yoga Nidra at the end of a Yoga session are one of the most beautiful moments of my day. I invest all my love and energy into teaching Yoga through Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga (and specific other methods like Conscious Dancing, Awakening Yoga Nidra, Mai-Tri Method, etc.) and truly consider it a privilege to be in a position to serve as an instrument of this profound ancient science in the fast-paced world we live in.
I strongly feel there has never been a time when Yogic wisdom was needed more. Our lives have become so hurried, food and lifestyle habits so unhealthy and planetary energy changes on Mother Earth so great, that a practice like yoga (coupled with non-violence, feeling of unity and sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of our planet and all sentient beings), is not only needed, but vital for the inner balance, health and inner fulfillment of an individual.
Finally, while Yoga practice alone may not guarantee one’s complete spiritual awakening, it surely provides one with a solid sattvic (balanced) base for the same. Social service (Karma Yoga) is an incredibly important aspect of yogic practice and lifestyle. As the awareness expands, the cup naturally overflows and the desire to help the helpless and extend our financial support and/or offer our time, talents and loving presence in support of the needy, comes as natural. As a president of a globally active charity ACT Foundation, dedicated to selfless service beyond all man-made barriers (including the boundary of species), I bear witness to the tremendous transformation that social service blessed me with over the last eleven years.
It was with selfless service, vegan lifestyle, clarity and inspiration that I receive through Mohanji, that my yogic practice and meditation deepened manifold, enabling me to experience the divine blessing of a deep Samadhi state (the eighth limb of Yoga that Patanjali defined in his Yoga sutras) several times thus far. With the practice of yoga, I got empowered to truly live my higher purpose, as revealed to me during a near-death-experience in the year 2000. Amid an experience that the mind would find scary, I somehow left my body, started expanding in multi-point awareness. Indescribable bliss of a vibrating Light was all around me, until a point when I was sent back to my body with a message that took me time to understand it in its true multi-dimensionality: “It is not your time yet. You have not fulfilled your mission, and your mission is to serve the unity. ”
I hope this text will serve its purpose of offering clarity and inspiration to many beautiful souls on the path of awakening to the Unity that Is, to the essence of yoga as both, the path/practice and destination/the permanent state of yoga, when a drop becomes the ocean…
While celebrating the beauty of endless diversity that surrounds us, may we develop the maturity to recognize the source and living reality of our true unity. May we be blessed to live in yoga – both, on and off the mat.
Most loving Namaste,
Devi Mohan is a certified Yoga Instructor (E-RYT 200), Director and senior teacher of Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga (HSTY) and the Global President of an internationally active charity ACT Foundation. Devi has been an integral member of Mohanji Foundation, the international spiritual mission of her husband and spiritual guide Mohanji, since its formation in 2007. She represents the Foundation as its Global Ambassador at various international events.
During Devi’s search for her own self, she learnt yoga while in India in 2007. Since then, she has augmented her training through multiple special and advanced courses. Her passion for the yogic way of life led to the creation of the Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga (HSTY), of which she is the main proponent and lead teacher.
For more information about Devi Mohan please visit www.devimohan.com/about/
As the world celebrates Deepavali in the welcome home-coming of Sri Rama, I was inspired to go through the text of Yog Vashishtha the dialogue between Sri Rama and his guru sage Vashishtha ascribed by sage Valmiki. Most of us are familiar with the Ramayana, the life story of Sri Rama. His character is ever-inspiring, and hence it is worthwhile to know the teachings that went into shaping this character. Yog-Vashishtha outlines these teachings explicitly.
The text begins with the Vairagya Prakarana, wherein Sri Rama after his pilgrimages is in a despondent state towards all worldly matters. Then sage Vashishtha inculcates advice upon Rama, gives him the reason why and how he should work in the world by tracing the origin of the universe and the ‘I’ in man and finally initiates him into the mysteries of Atman.
In the second chapter, the Mumukshu Prakarana he lays out the four fold qualifications necessary to a disciple on the path, vis., the discrimination of Atman and non-Atman, etc., Rama having developed the first three is asked by Vashishtha to concentrate his mind upon the attainment of Moksha. For this purpose, Vashishtha expatiates in Mumukshu Prakarana upon the preliminary qualifications necessary for the attainment of Moksha or salvation.
Here the author says that the four sentinels posted at the gate of Moksha are Shanti (peace of mind/stillness), Vichara (the enquiry after Atman/mindfulness), Santosha (contentment of mind) and Sadhu-Sanga (association with the wise) and will have to be befriended by one wishing to attain Moksha. Should one of them at least be befriended, he will introduce the aspirant to his companion sentinels. Then the author goes on to explain that Moksha does not mean the physical separation from all worldly affairs but only a state of the mind bereft of all impure Vasanas(desires) or clinging towards, but yet working as usual amidst, worldly things.
In the next chapter or the Utpatti Prakarana, the author gives out a story to illustrate Para Brahm manifesting itself as Brahma, the creator with the conception of ‘I’ through its own Sankalpa or resolve.
And taking the reader through the Sthiti Prakarana or the preservation aspect, explains how the ‘I’ in man passes through different stages and develops itself in him after innumerable births as the Ahankara we find in him now.
The next section, the Upasanthi Prakarana elaborates on the quiescence of the mind. To develop this state, many means are given out, such as the Lord s grace through Bhakti or devotion, the direct knowledge of Maya(illusory forces), Yoga, Atma-Vichara or Atmic enquiry, and Chitta-Nirodha or the control of mind, Pranayama, etc.
And the last section, the Nirvana Prakarana illustrates the Turiya or fourth state, where the developed one is able to have a commanding view of the lower stages.
A voluminous text replete with stories pertaining to spiritual development of any aspirant in this field.
Source: Yog Vashishtha
Contributed by Jyoti Prateek
By Kino MacGregor
A guru is a person whose very presence imparts truth and awakening in the disciple. When I traveled to Mysore for the first time at the age of twenty-two, I asked Sri K. Pattabhi Jois where I could find the elusive state of inner peace that all yoga practice seeks to instill. Known as Guruji to his students, he said, “You take it practice many years, then Shantih is coming . . . no problem,” and my heart opened to the grace of his teaching. It is my great fortune to consider this amazing man my teacher, and I attribute the depth of my personal practice and teaching to the light that Guruji’s fire ignited within me.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois taught Ashtanga yoga for more than 65 years before passing on May 18, 2009. The depth and power of Guruji himself inspired his students to have faith in themselves and in Ashtanga yoga. The miracle of Jois’s life and legacy far exceeds his physical presence and is perhaps the very definition of the word guru. The strength of Jois’s very being made the difference in his teaching, and his spirit will live in yoga forever. Speaking in his endearingly broken English, Guruji communicated a transcendental knowledge of yoga despite his lack of full linguistic fluency. It is not what he said, but the space that he held that carried forth the ineffable and made realization possible in every student lucky enough to practice under his guidance. While Guruji may have left this Earth, he lives in the pulse of every Ashtanga yoga student and teacher around the world.
Each day of Jois’s life was marked by a relentless devotion to the Ashtanga yoga lineage which he carried with absolute integrity. A humble man born in a small village called Kowshika in southern India on guru purnima day (the first full moon of July in 1915, designated as a national holiday in India to honor all gurus), his life embodied the tradition of the sacred teacher-student relationship. First, Jois became a devoted student after discovering yoga at the age of 12 when he saw the man who would become his teacher, Krishnamacharya, give a yoga demonstration at his school. Studying daily for two years, he devoted himself to yoga at an early age and ultimately moved to Mysore to continue his education in yoga and Sanskrit studies. There he flourished as a scholar and yoga teacher. It was only after Jois taught the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar, that the Yoga Department of the Sanskrit College of Mysore was establised on March 1, 1937 with the approval and blessing of Krishnamacharya. After 37 years of professorship, Jois earned the title of Vidwan (professor emeritus of Sanskrit Studies).
Though he was a Sanskrit scholar, Jois remained true to his teachings in yoga and regarded practical, direct experience as the highest form of learning. He said numerous times that yoga is “99% practice, 1% theory.” Throughout his years as a professor, Guruji also taught yoga in a small room on the first floor of his modest house in Mysore and encouraged every student to find the personal experience of truth that yoga practice offers. More often than not, the group was small and less than enthusiastic. Thankfully, Guruji persisted for nearly 30 years before passionate interest developed. He never doubted the method of Ashtanga yoga, nor his ability to teach. Instead, he persisted against all odds and guarded the sacred jewel of the yoga tradition with reverence. If not for his steadfast belief in the validity of Ashtanga yoga throughout the years in which he lacked worldly success, yoga as we know it would not exist. Only in the early 1970s, when his son, Manju Jois, traveled southern India to give Ashtanga yoga demonstrations, did the first American students travel to Mysore and invite Jois to travel, teach and tour. Subsequently, both Guruji and his son made their first tour outside of India and arrived in California in 1975 carrying the mantle of Ashtanga yoga. Manju stayed to teach and still resides in California, making time to travel the world sharing his good-humored presence. Since that serendipitous tour, Ashtanga yoga has spread like wildfire around the globe, growing geometrically each year.
Always joyful to see a new student, Guruji carried the torch of Ashtanga yoga while it grew over the last 34 years from a few disinterested students to a flowering, international community of dedicated, passionate practitioners. He lived to see the full fruition of his life’s work as Ashtanga yoga spread to more than 30 different countries, transformed thousands (if not millions) of yoga practitioners, and sprouted studios all over the world.
Ashtanga yoga is now one of the most powerful, popular and proven methods of yoga. This dynamic flowing series of postures traces its lineage to an ancient sage named Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. Combining breath and movement in vinyasa, Ashtanga yoga purifies the body through the stimulation of internal heat (agni). In the tristana method specifically taught by Jois, Ashtanga practitioners concentrate their minds by focusing on three things: breath (ujjayi pranayama), posture (asana) and gaze (dristhi). In more than 65 years of diligent, soulful teaching, Guruji maintained the Ashtanga yoga method in its pure form. To experience firsthand the transformative power of yoga, authorized and certified Ashtanga yoga teachers regularly study at the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India. This type of study exemplifies the ancient tradition of guru parampara (an unbroken succession of direct teacher-to-student transmission).
Guruji used to say,
“Ashtanga yoga is for all people–old people, young people, fat people, skinny people–only, not lazy people.”
That is because Ashtanga yoga is challenging: it asks tightness to bend, softness to be strong, and pushes the limits of the mind and the body beyond popular medical notions of safety, possibility and comfort. In doing so, practitioners literally expand their consciousness. The practice comprises six series of postures, yet most practitioners spend their entire lives working on the first or Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga because its levels of strength and flexibility are already quite challenging. However, the Primary Series is a complete practice that burns through accumulated toxins within the body. Without regular cleansing, the body collects toxins from the environment, food and even emotional states that, if left unattended, can sometimes lead to disease and discomfort later in life. Health and comfort can return to the body with regular, disciplined yoga practice. While Ashtanga yoga is no magic pill to cure all ailments, Jois’s long, healthy life is a testament to the true power of Ashtanga yoga. Yoga is as strong as you make it and takes you as deeply as you are willing to go.
We have the practice of Ashtanga yoga today because of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’s unwavering dedication to sharing his wisdom to every student who was willing to work at this daily discipline. There is no greater way to honor Guruji’s life than to get on our mats and practice every day. He gave us the gift of Ashtanga yoga, and now it is our responsibility to venerate his memory with our own commitment to yoga. If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that Guruji wants us all to take “practice, practice, practice . . . then all is coming.”