Monday, October 7, 2013

My pleasure to teach: Viniyoga asana, pranayama, sutra chanting, and meditation

image compliments of
In a recent substitute teaching venture, I had the chance to teach a full, deep practice.  The asana instructions were minimal as I taught a group familiar with the positions, and moving with the breath.  We could wrap the experience in the deeper aspects of yoga practice, such as Yoga Sutra study and chanting.  The intention of the practice was to encourage an open and frank experience of meditation, with full preparation.

I, myself, have a difficult time with meditation.  It's becoming a less squirmy thought for me, as I put it into practice more, and experience a deeper peace more willingly.  However, I need a great deal of encouragement through proper preparation to drop into the pocket sans resistance.

We explored Sutra 2.11
SwamiJ quote:
2.11 When the modifications still have some potency of coloring (klishta), they are brought to the state of mere potential by meditation (dhyana).
(dhyana heyah tat vrittayah)
  • dhyana = meditation
  • heyah = to be overcome, reduced, abandoned, destroyed
  • tat = that
  • vrittayah = operations, activities, fluctuations, modifications, changes, or various forms of the mind-field
I've heard a very short and sweet translation of this sutra.
Deep meditation burns the seeds of suffering.
                                                    My teacher - Gary Kraftsow  
I shared how difficult meditation is for me, and how, at the same time, I have a great deal of conditioning and habits that do not serve me (don't we all?).  Instead of battling the habits like a warrior, I've decided to turn things over to my practice.  Using a regular practice, I am trusting in the power of the practice and letting go of my identity as a battle warrior.

We practiced some asana after chanting the sutra together.  I used a three posture sequence (with variations) that the students were very familiar with.  Most had used it at some point as a home practice.  It is designed by Ellen Fein and can be found here:

We added some standing postures.  The sequence focused on right/left/together variations to prepare for Nadi Sodhana, a breathing practice through alternate nostrils.  I chanted the sutra at different points along the way, and the practice conculded with vajrasana, bringing us down to a seated position.  We did five minutes of Nadi Sodhana, which the students already knew and had practiced recently (this is such a rarity!!)  Some of use used chairs, some used a supported seated position.

To begin meditation, we used hand-counting to do a round of yoga sutra chanting, sort of like a mantra japa practice.  I reminded them of  the sutra in Sanskrit and in English, and invited them to use what worked for them.  Also, I encouraged them not to let "getting around the hand" to be a race, and to take full and even breaths between repetitions.

After some time of unstructured meditation, we came out and released into savasana for another five minutes.

It was such a gift to work with this group.  The instruction was minimal.  It was a very deep learning experience for me, to see what happens when you can create a true Sangha.  I hope to be able to continue to support this group in practice.


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