Tantra is currently and popularly defined and interpreted as a method of sexual practices, and modern Tantra is often not associated with yoga practices at all. However, this is a very limited view of Tantra. The true essence of Tantra is a meta – philosophy , a universal meditative method of being… which integrates the small personal self living its daily life into the larger arena… of spiritual evolve-ment and enlightenment. This aspect of Tantra has been completely missed in the common limited misinterpretation of this ancient body of principles.
The Essence of Tantra Yoga
General Yoga practice, as we’ve generally come to understand it today, involves practising a series of postures, meditations and breathing exercises on your yoga mat. These practices are a part of Tantra, and perfect as preparation for Tantra Yoga. But Tantra yoga is more than this. Tantra yoga is the “mother of all yogas” – leading one to the higher universal principles of “living Yoga.” It is about yoga beyond being in a studio or on a mat – where every aspect of your life becomes yogic or tantric.
A Different Approach or Perspective
Living in yoga, in awareness, in tantra – is a state of being which embodies the feminine energy – known as Shakti. Shakti receives life and celebrates all the pleasures of life, including our sexuality, as a gift. This is in contrast to the current western approach – which is goal-oriented, where the practice of yoga on the mat is generally understood as the “way to” achieve better health, a better body, a better mind, a better spiritual state.
This goal-oriented approach today is predominantly Masculine, goal-driven energy. Tantra acknowledges a balance in both Masculine and Feminine Energy, and hence, introduces Feminine Energy – as a way of receiving life rather than doing life. The feminine receives and the masculines does
Tantra says, ‘Receive every moment as a gift’. Receive the breath, the food, the sounds; receive yourself; receive the gift of another. It is an ‘Allowing’ of Life.
How Does Sex Come into the Picture?
Tantra honours the Feminine and Masculine energy that exists in each person, in everything in the world, and the universe we live in. In sex, one partner embodies the feminine or shakti energy and the other embodies the masculine or shiva energy. Tantric lovemaking is a prolonged meditation in the pre-orgasmic state. It is a way of empowering and nurturing each other, rather than simply being a way of achieving orgasm.
Why the focus on Sex?
In the context of love-making as a meditative practice, one allows the sexual energy to be in continuous never-ending flow – and the partners nurture this eternal and ongoing flow of energy in each other. This is different from the common masculine, logical approach to sex where the couple directs the sexual energy to the achievement of an outcome, that is – an orgasm. So in the practice of tantric sex, the goal is not to orgasm.
There is no finish – the journey of being completely present and “with the other” is celebrated as an ongoing meditation. As a Holistic Practice Yogic practices on the mat, such as– meditation, yoga postures, and breathing – prepare each partner to be a pure vessel for the orgasmic energy – my physical body as strong, flexible and healthy as I can make it, my emotional body as joyful and light as I can make it and my mind as clear, open and receptive as I can make it for sacred love making. By bringing sexuality into our yoga practice, and sacred lovemaking into our relationships, we are moving closer to making our lives truly enlightened.
Live Yoga Life has a wide range of MP3 yoga classes, yoga ebooks and yoga books available for you to download:
Written by experienced yoga teacher James Bryan from Knoff Yoga School in Cairns, Queensland
For those of us who practice Hatha Yoga (asana, pranayama and meditation), when we are pressed for time, meditation often gets set aside – we want to do it, but how to fit it in our busy day? To get the full benefit that Hatha Yoga offers, we do need to meditate and in this article, we will look at a few reasons for setting up a daily routine to include it.
Patanjali, the father of Yoga, recommends an 8-step program which includes the practice of:
This is based upon:
… or, moving from the gross to the subtle. Another way of looking at the intent of Patanjali’s traditional sequence is comparing to a child’s developmental stages of crawling, walking, running. You need to learn how to control the energies of the physical body, which is tangible, before we will have success with the less tangible breath and the ephemeral mind.
The effects of yoga practice are cumulative, this is, they build upon each other and overall it is greater than what would be achieved from doing the asana, pranayama and meditation separately – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Because the body and breath have already been awakened by the time we are ready to meditate (with traditional sequencing), the meditation can be more powerful and effective. Keep in mind that 10 minutes of focus is more beneficial than 30 minutes of fuzz. No part of yoga practice is about chronological time; it is always about the awareness/consciousness we attain.
“A slack spine equals a dull mind”. When meditating, it is vital to sit correctly with a properly activated and elongated spine. To do this we need to slightly flatten out the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) curves. Internally we balance along the median plane by aligning the soft palate of the mouth over the perineum – then pressing down into the sitting bones and lengthening through the crown of the head. When sitting properly, the mind is energized and meditation will be more successful, i.e. alert and attentive to whatever meditation technique we are using. With correct posture and technique, the spine should be longer after the finish of meditation than when we started.
In Vipassana Meditation it is recommended to sit for 2 hours per day, 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening. Because we encourage the practice of Hatha Yoga for 1 to 2 hours per day, as well as meditation, the overall time commitment is impractical for those with work, family and life responsibilities. We found that when meditating for 2 hours (in addition to asana and pranayama), some of the time we would be mentally drifting off because we were tired, i.e. non productive time. This experience taught us to adjust the Vipassana ‘chronological’ recommendation (doing time) and focus on the quality/clarity – “quality vs. quantity”, that is, making the best use of our limited time.
Meditation is highly beneficial BUT ONLY when we are awake, alert and attentive. If you are tired and falling asleep, go to bed!
Regardless of the type or style of yoga we practice, the ultimate goal is the same – Samadhi, which is super-consciousness or experiencing a profound sense of belonging in the universe, of oneness with the life-force sustaining all of nature. We require a strong body and nervous system in order to achieve this desirable goal. We obtain a strong body and nervous system from practising asana and pranayama. The Buddha did 6 years of austerities (yogic practices) before reaching enlightenment. By his example, we see the importance of asana and pranayama in any meditation practice.
In Patanjali’s teachings, we see that all of the 8 Limbs of Yoga are equally important, and with experience in practice it is obvious that they are all spokes in the same wheel – each contributing to the overall integrity and strength of the whole.
Once students are competent with the Beginner Level syllabus (Knoff Yoga) they should easily be able to complete it in 45 minutes (including relaxation and pranayama) in order to fit in 5 minutes of meditation – for a total daily investment of 50 minutes. This is not too much to ask for health and well-being. It is possible to get up an hour earlier to make space in your life for yoga.
Once students are competent with the Foundation Level syllabus (Knoff Yoga) they should easily be able to complete it in 1 hour and 10 minutes (including relaxation and pranayama), in order to fit in 20 minutes of meditation – for a total daily investment of 1 and 1/2 hours. Yes, this is a considerable slice out of the day, but it can be done by getting up earlier and dedicating yourself to becoming the best person you can be.
Make sure with your meditation, you are focusing on quality and not quantity. 5 minutes of sitting with a dull mind is 5 minutes wasted.
Experiment with the practice and see what works best for you.
Yours in Yoga,
James has a range of products available for you – from Chair Yoga for all levels to Pranayama for beginners and intermediate:
Written by experienced yoga teacher James Bryan from Knoff Yoga School in Cairns, Queensland
If we use the metaphor of hiking in the wilderness as an example of our yogic adventures, then we understand that a relatively small amount of time is spent on the mountain tops – the ah-ha moments, and the majority of the time we are down in the valleys – on the mat slogging away. Becoming clearer on the yogic path and dropping social and mental limitation is comparable to reducing the weight of our backpack – lightening the load!
Physically we take the uplifting path (light/vibrant body), but mentally we must descend through the beta, alpha, theta and delta mental states. As we learn to focus the mind more and more to illuminate the hidden parts of ourselves, we start to release the suppressed contents of our sub-conscious and eventually approach the threshold of the unconscious and eventually the super-conscious mind.
This spiritual evolution is not linear and contains both steps forward and partial retreats. We are told by the ancient yogis that any effort extended is never wasted. Obvious signs of progress are increasing feelings of compassion and clarity.
Feelings of isolation and separation are signs of experiencing the world through the predominance of one cerebral hemisphere; in our culture normally the left (analytical, linear, fight or flight activation, etc.). As we progress and learn how to access and activate both hemispheres simultaneously, not only do we access more brain power, but we also experience profound feelings of unity and harmony – because we are no longer divided within ourselves. Moving from beta… alpha… theta… and finally to delta brain waves… results in complete co-operation and utilization of our separate selves and is the end game of yoga = Samadhi.
When we designed the Knoff Yoga program of 5 levels: Beginner, Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced and Master, we wanted a clear path for our students to follow. Our experiences taught us that most students (and teachers for that matter) are stumbling along in the dark and are very lucky not to trip and fall. One of the pitfalls of the Western approach to yoga is to make asana the total focus and omit the synergistic tools of the rest of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Another is the window shopping approach, i.e., yoga this week and pilates the next. We designed our program to include 5 elements: Meditation, Pranayama, Asana, Relaxation and Philosophy. If any of these integral and essential parts of the yogic path are missing, then our students will not receive the promised benefits they read about in yoga books.
In feudal Japan, the Samurai warriors had only 8 sword movements to fight with. Their techniques had to be totally practical because their lives depended upon it. Today in Kendo there are 100’s of sword movements – what has happened? We kept this in mind when designing the Knoff Yoga program and see great value in the K.I.S.S. (keeping it straightforward and simple) approach to yoga – providing it works of course.
Our passion is to share the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga. Our goal is to offer training that is transformational, and imparts the techniques and philosophy of yoga as well as the enthusiasm to make yoga a life-long choice. We understand that Knoff Yoga will grow and prosper in direct relation to the positive impact it has upon the lives of our teachers and students.
The path of yoga is not easy, nor is it always fun, but it is always worthwhile. 95% of the effort required is in just getting on the mat with no compromises and no excuses. You will always be glad you made the small effort for a substantial return of good health and well-being.
James has a range of products available for you – from Chair Yoga for all levels to Pranayama for beginners and intermediate:
My favourite yoga studio is in Berkeley, California – The Yoga Room.
It’s a purpose- built space designed by an architect in a rough-hewn style with an exposed beam ceiling, natural light on two sides and a dance bar along one wall. Not overly large, there’s still room for perhaps twenty students, with an ambience of friendly welcome.
The building is only two stories high, with a cafe on the ground level that offers the requisite wholesome menu for yogis.
Best of all is the main teacher at the Berkeley Yoga Room, Donald Moyer, who is highly skilled, hugely experienced, and consummately gracious.
Written by Eve Grzybowski
Yoga Therapy, also referred to in the industry as “Remedial Yoga” or “Special Needs Yoga”, describes a specialised area of teaching or practice that offers a holistic approach to treating chronic or acute ailments.
What sort of treatment is offered?
A range of approaches are available – asanas (physical postures), breath work, relaxation techniques to reduce stress and release blocked energy, meditation, Ayurvedic (diet and lifestyle) remedies – some or all of these may be used for the purpose of creating or re-establishing balance in the body and harmony in the mind. Here below is an example of a propped yoga pose.
With consistent practice in the hands of a capable Yoga Therapist, one’s symptoms and even the causes of illnesses may be alleviated.
What is a Yoga Therapist?
A yoga therapist is usually a very experienced yoga teacher who, through years of teaching experience or consistent work with a range of different individuals of varying injuries and medical conditions, has developed the skills, and cultivated the knowledge and intuition to confidently work responsively with different conditions and body-types.
In consultation with the student, the Yoga Therapist designs appropriate practices for the student’s age, condition, and stage of life — in many ways providing the individual with a yoga prescription for special needs. The student can then practice this personalised sequence or set of sequences at home.
Ideally, the student will be inspired to keep up the consistent practice and maintain mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health as a way of life, on an ongoing basis.
The Yoga Therapist and student work together. The student is empowered by doing the yoga practice, and the Yoga Therapist assesses and refines the practice to create an optimum healing situation.
I can say personally that Yoga has assisted me therapeutically over the years dealing with symptoms of hip osteoarthritis. Yoga therapy practice also sped my successful recovery from major surgery after a total hysterectomy. Regular practice of yoga therapy routines assisted me to improve my body’s condition and general sense of well-being.
If you are looking for a practice to provide relief from hip arthritis or recuperation after hysterectomy (or other abdominal surgery), try out my Hip-Arthritis Routine and my Hysterectomy Routine available online here on LYL. These are both short, easy-to-do routines which I have specifically designed.
For yoga teachers – If you are interested in developing your skills in yoga therapy, you can train in Yoga Therapy in Australia. There are schools that run a courses offering a graduate certificate in the subject. You can also become a member of The Australian Association of Yoga Therapists, if you meet the organisation’s standards.
Written by GuruJivan Goodman
Kundalini Yoga is a technology to awaken your awareness and bring you in touch with your original Self. It is a process that allows the natural unfolding of your inner-nature.
“Kundalini yoga classes are a dynamic blend of postures, pranayam, mantra, music and meditation, which teach you the art of relaxation, self-healing and elevation. Balancing body and mind enables you to experience the clarity and beauty of your soul. No previous experience in yoga is required for you to achieve results with your very first class.”
– Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher
The practice of Kundalini Yoga balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system and enables us to harness the energy of the mind and the emotions, so we can be in control of ourselves, rather than being controlled by our thoughts and feelings.
There is nothing more powerful than to awaken your consciousness, confront your ego and drop your fears. There is nothing more elegant than building the strength of your nervous system and character. There is nothing more effective than developing your capacity to be happy in the midst of challenges, grateful for each moment of your life. And there is nothing more profound than getting in touch with the core of your being – listening deeply and hearing the pulse of the creator in all people and all things.
The main difference between kundalini yoga and other forms is a matter of time. Kundalini yoga is yoga for householders, for people who have to cope with the daily challenges and stresses of holding jobs, raising families, managing businesses. It gives results in the shortest possible time. It does not require you to leave your home, become an ascetic or sit in a cave. Kundalini Yoga is for everyone who wants the skills to cope successfully with the challenges of living in this day and age.
Kundalini and the Breath
“The main problem in the world is stress. It is not going to decrease – it is going to increase. If through pranayam the shock can be harnessed, the entire stress and disease can be eliminated.”
– Yogi Bhajan
The breath is a fundamental tool to Kundalini yoga, it:
The quantity, quality and circulation of breath creates the foundation of a vital and creative life.
Most people do not breathe correctly. When we consciously lower the frequency of breaths per minute, we encourage great benefits. Normally we find that men breathe between 16-18 breaths per minute, women generally breathe 18-20 breaths per minute.
8 Breaths per minute
If we can consciously breathe 8 breaths per minute we begin to feel more relaxed. The parasympathetic nervous system begins to be influenced and the healing processes of the body are elevated we also get relief from stress and increased mental awareness.
4 Breaths per minute
At this rate the Pituitary & Pineal glands begin to coordinate at an enhanced level thereby producing a meditative state. Positive shifts in mental function begin; we tend to experience intense feelings of awareness, increased visual clarity and sometimes heightened body sensitivity.
1 Breath per minute (Not recommended for Beginners)
Advanced yogi’s who have had a lot of practice can achieve 1 breath per minute. They experience a stronger connection between brain hemispheres, relief from anxiety and fear, increased intuition and the presence of spirit.
The Natural Breath
Many people have learned to breathe backwards, they inhale pulling the belly in, which makes the space for the breath to enter less instead of more. People who are anxious or smoke tend to breathe in this manner.
A natural breath uses the nose, which filters, warms and humidifies the air. There are many different breathing techniques used in Kundalini Yoga and many of these techniques are incorporated into the Kriya and meditations used while practicing Kundalini yoga.
Kriyas (Asana / Posture) in Kundalini
The word Kriya means complete action, in kundalini yoga it is a sequence of postures, breath and sound that are integrated together to allow the manifestation of a particular state. i.e. to remove blocks, anger or fear, eliminate disease, and create elevation just to name a few.
Postures are used to isolate specific muscles to pressurize specific points or areas in the body that act as reflex triggers to enhance the functions of the glands, organs and to re-direct, flush or increase circulation.
In the beginning you may feel awkward or uncomfortable adjusting to a posture. As you hold it, it starts to feel better. It starts to find a natural place in you. Your body adjusts, your shoulders relax, together with tense muscle groups you didn’t need to use.
You will observe, at some point, a relationship building between you and yourself. There starts to be a bridge of communication between the conscious and the unconscious. This then starts to realign the body and the mind.
Kriya is the spontaneous fulfilment of action by using posture (Asana) that links the infinite Self of you to this finite moment. It tears away at your old attachments and starts to reform you gradually. Postures make you conscious of areas in the body. As you hold the posture you find yourself self-conscious initiall, then you become conscious of Yourself. And if you really put yourself into it you become a conscious self.
There are many Kriyas in Kundalini Yoga that support just about every area of life. Kundalini yoga has many manuals available that focus on Kriyas for a specific purpose, outcome or even, time of day. These manuals contain a wealth of information about the postures sequences, breathing exercises, and types of meditation in each particular kriya.
Kundalini and Relaxation
“Total harmonious relaxation cures the body. To achieve this there must be a coordination between the three facets of ourselves: body, mind and soul.”
– Yoga Bhajan
The ability to relax is essential for physical and mental wellbeing but it something surprisingly difficult for many people to do in today’s world.
After completing a Kriya, the student’s physiological and neural is elevated. At this point, it is then important to relax and allow the physiology of awakening and awareness to begin. During this relaxation phase the following benefits may occur:
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
Corpse Pose is the best position for deep relaxation, after a Kriya, a hard day or even a stressful situation. Lie on your back, arms by your sides with the palms facing up and the legs uncrossed and relaxed. The feet normally fall to the side for most people and the arms are usually approximately at a 45 degree angle from the body.
Kundalini and Meditation
Meditation is the process of controlling and transcending the waves of the mind. Meditation creates a communion between you and your mind and between your mind and your body. It is beneficial for everyone.
Some of the benefits that you may experience while practicing meditation are:
Meditation is a personal and private experience even when you are meditating in large groups.
When you sit quietly and focus your attention inwards you become very aware of what is going on in your mind and all the thoughts that you are thinking (or even thoughts you didn’t think you were thinking!).
By not reacting to or judging the thoughts, and processing them with mantra, breath or mudra you can create a stillness and calmness that will serve you through your daily life.
There are many types of meditation in Kundalini Yoga that can help you stay focused and quiet. There are actually hundreds of these meditations – ranging from group, healing, couples or children’s mediations through to meditations that work on addictions, increasing vitality, clearing chakras or simply just trying to improve mental clarity.
The term Sadhana means daily practice; it is a practice in self – discipline that enables one to express the infinite within one’s self. It is a self – discipline by which we energise and balance the body and clear the mind and the subconscious. It is generally practiced between the hours of 4am – 7am during the Ambrosial Hours. To exercise before sunrise is important because of the angle of the sun to the earth, which makes it very conducive to meditation.
Sadhana is a test of self – grit and refines and develops the characteristics of our consciousness as human beings.
Sadhana benefits us by:
You can choose a Sadhana that suits you or ask your teacher to choose one for you. Start small if you are just beginning or are new to yoga, even if you just do 3 minutes per day for 40 days. Commit to that, it is good a start and you can slowly increase the time as you feel you are ready.