Yogastha Sadhana Method
The Sanskrit word yogastha is translated to mean “abiding in the discipline of yoga”. The line from the Yoga scripture, The Bhagavad Gita …”Yogastha Kuru Karmani”, is the instruction that Arjuna receives in an answer of “how to act”. The question of “how to act” is presented in the context of a conversation between the warrior Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, an incarnation of the Divine, on a battlefield just prior to war. While in the story the war is real with an imminent brutal battle, the lesson for the reader is to understand that for the spiritual aspirant, all situations must be faced with discernment; and the ego must be untied from all of our actions in order to be free from the karmic wheel that produces future sufferings. Thus, all actions should be done with the discernment of a yogi. This is the meaning of “yogastha.”
The essence of this discourse in The Bhagavad Gita is that one must be in a state of yoga for action to be pure, refined and astute. And action taken in this higher place will certainly lead to a greater fulfillment in one’s own life. We have one of two options; either our actions take us further down the path into the limited world of our senses and ego, or our actions help us to broaden our perspective and develop our capacity to bring forth the light of our own True Nature.
Since so many of our daily decisions – and thus actions, are tied directly to the physiology and the bio-chemistry of the body, along with the hardwiring of memory in the brain, a yoga practice which works with the mind/body connection will absolutely be a guiding discipline toward a better understanding of ourselves and thus a platform for personal transformation. The suffering caused by the conditioned state of our existence (mind and body) is there for each of us to become aware, of if we so chose. When we practice yoga on the mat, the contracted state of a muscle may show us the limitations of our own contracted state of mind. Or, the instability of a joint may help us to understand the need for more firmness in another area of our life. Or maybe the evidence of a weak or uncoordinated nervous system may point out how much we are at the whim of our inability to control our own emotions. Thankfully, we can do something about it. And the practice of yoga, with asana (postures) and movement is an initial guide to do just that.
As the Bhagavad Gita is a source of inspiration for leading a life that is deeply connected; another ancient text, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is a step-by-step manual on how to do it, with many references of the various stages along the path. Most all of the modern systems of yoga practiced today can be traced back to this one source. This Raja Yoga instruction (aka Classical Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga) outlines the specific process toward the final state of Yoga – and all that must be addressed as we live in our bodies and in this world. The Yoga Sutras guides the practitioner through an 8 limbed path toward a focusing of the mind that develops into the practice of meditation (Dhyana). This is the practice of Raja Yoga. This process is inclusive of yoga postures, since a body under our control is vital if we want to cultivate a mind that we can also direct. Doing yoga postures is a practice that has a strong focus on establishing health and balance in the physical body. There are many different styles of yoga, but for those students looking to understand the basis of this physical exercise in the true yogic sense, the practice should be developed in a way that moves our attention first to our body and then continuing inward to subtler levels (the breath…the mind). In this way, the yoga practice can be understood as… using form to go beyond form.
Yogastha Sadhana is a specific vinyasa yoga practice designed to incorporate all 8 limbs of Raja Yoga (The Royal Path) in the daily activity of practice. This practice has been developed with profound consideration of the vast knowledge offered to many of the great modern yoga teachers advanced through the teachings of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, often referred to as the “father of modern yoga.” The physical challenges of the four different series in Yogastha Sadhana have been constructed to accommodate all levels of students. Modifications are set for each posture so that all students have access to this work. It is meant for the new student to be able to practice comfortably alongside an advanced practitioner. Pranayama (breath control) is a vital aspect of this practice, and the vinyasa quality of the practice (linking breath to body movement) will require an intensely focused mind throughout practice. The seeking of higher levels of concentration through the use of asana and pranayama has always been at the heart of the Ashtanga Yoga method.
A mind fit for meditation is a mind that is not entertaining ignorance, and is firmly established in the gaining of True knowledge. The deeper understanding that comes from the field of higher contemplation is an essential practice in itself. The importance of this process of inquiry should not be neglected by the serious student of yoga. Just as your yoga postures continue to change and deepen with dedicated, regular practice on the mat; so to does the capacity of understanding that comes from regular study of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. To assist the student in this development of Svadhyaya (Self study/Study of Scripture), a contemplative practice on each of the four chapters of the Yoga Sutras is linked to each of the four set Series of Yogastha Sadhana. This is an intentional Raja Yoga vinyasa practice which will serve well the aspirant who is seeking a more devoted practice of honoring the skill and presence of the body, of cherishing the power of the breath, and of understanding the wisdom and focus of the mind – all culminating in a sincere practice of mindfulness that serves as a guide to the discovery of the pure, untarnished Self that resides within.
For more information on the Yogastha Sadhana method of yoga, please visit Yogastha.com.