Author Archives: Yoga on Waiheke

Authenticity, Awareness & Yoga

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yamas and niyama

 

 

 

How Yoga will Develop Your Authenticity and Awareness

 

When I think of the energy yoga creates in your life and put that energy into words, the two that resonate the most with me are Authenticity and Awareness.

My name is Premaloka and I would love to share with you how embracing yoga as a lifestyle will help you discover your authentic self and how this will enable you, with the awareness to identify the brightness and light  within yourself, your fellow human beings and the universe around you.

When we discuss embracing Yoga as a lifestyle we are considering that their is a lot more to yoga that what happens on a Yoga mat. To live a life in Yoga we would need to start with the philosophy behind the system and science. To live a life in yoga we would need to discover the eight Limbs of Yoga, the Heart of Yoga. This eightfold path set out for us by the ancient Indian philosopher Patanjali, in the yoga sutras is considered to be the fundamental text of Yoga.

The eight Limbs are

Yama – Moral Principles

Niyama – Observances

Asana – Postures

Pranayama – Breathing

Pratyahara – Sense withdrawal

Dharana -I concentration

Dhyana – Meditation

Samadhi – Liberation.

I am sure that you may have heard of some or most of these 8 aspects of Yoga. But you may not know much about the first two. At this stage it is worth noting that Asana is the 3rd Limb of Yoga, and in fact in the past when Yoga was passed down from teacher to student, Asana was not taught to the aspirant until they had mastered the first two Limbs.

This was for a very good reason. Most of us are aware that we have a vibration, an aura or energy, we are aware that yoga asana changes this energy and vibration and it makes us more open to the energy and vibration around us. What we achieve by adhering to the Yamas and Niyamas is the knowledge of how to channel and direct this energy in the best, most authentic and positive way. How to use it not abuse it.

It is unfortunate that in the age we are now living in the first two aspects are seldom passed down from teacher to student and instead so much energy and focus is expended on Asana alone.

So let’s start with the Yamas, which are 5 – restraints, moral principals, ways not to be.

Ahimsa – Non Harming

Satya – Truthfulness.

Asteya – Non stealing

Brahmacarya – Restraint (chastity)

Aparigraha – Non Avarice.

To most of us these would seem pretty simple and ways we would generally choose to act.But they are layered and there is a certain unity to them which I feel enables them to cohese well, so let’s explore them a little further.

Ahimsa – Non harming, of course this means the obvious, to not physically harm people, animals or the environment. But its overall meaning is kindness to all – In every way that we act, verbally, mentally (our thoughts) physically and spiritually. Treat everything and everyone with loving kindness.

Satya – Is all about truthfulness, it is about not lying, keeping your frequency high and clean by being straight with others and yourself. Keep honesty front and centre and first and foremost don’t lie to yourself.

Satya – Tells us to not take anything that does not belong to us. But it is broader of course than simply not stealing the material. We can steal people’s time, there energy and even their words and work. What we are asked to realise is that there is no such thing as free , there is always an energetic exchange – Don’t take without giving.

Brahmacarya – Is about restraint, It is connected to your sexual energy, but not only this. In modern day yoga it can be about reserving your sexual energy for when love is attached, not diluting it by expending it without loves vibration – It is also about showing restraint in your life and not always seeking more…and more.

Lastly we have Aparigraha, which is all to do with Greed.We are asked to not take more than we need and not always be wanting more than we have. To explore and live with contentment. We can identify with this on all levels, from our portion size to the make of our car, to the size of our house. Simply we explore need more than want.

Now we move on to the Niyamas – which are also five – Observances, ways to be and act.

So if the Yamas are about cleaning up your home then the Niyamas are reverence for your home.

They are –

Sauca – cleanliness and Purity

Santosa – contentment

Tapas – work- effort

Svadhyaya – know yourself

Isvara PranIdhana – Devotion.

First we have Sauca, which is about keeping it clean, when energy flows right it is clean. In this Niyama we focus on not only keeping our house and surroundings clean but keeping our minds, body and our thoughts clean. It is as simple as showering and coming to our mats clean each morning or removing your shoes before coming indoors and consuming clean high energy food. Even if your eyes are closed, if your heart is open you will be able to feel the energy of a clean  space. We practise thinking positively and with kindness about life and others and therefore not poisoning the mind, keeping our thought vibration high. This of course then ties in with keeping our words clean and kind so that we don’t lower the vibration of others.

Santosa is all about contentment and with contentment comes calm. It connects to balance and being able to be in a space where you can say and believe , everything is ok, exactly as it is. Not constantly yearning for what you don’t have. To be grateful for everything that you have and a knowledge that all is as it should be.

Tapas is about work and effort, it is about commitment and perseverance. We realise that life is not always easy and that to live by these restraints and observances will require work. As does most things in life. This Niyama focuses on our ability to do a job well – If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well. We are reminded that in life commitment and perseverance are often required for a beneficial outcome.

In the fourth Niyama – Svadhyaya we are asked to move a little deeper into ourselves and the spiritual and discover our own divinity. We are asked to take the time to get to know ourselves. Explore with honesty and total awareness all aspects of ourselves. Change or release what doesn’t serve us and develop and deepen the positive. We explore balance and duality.

Lastly we come to Isvara Pranidhana – this Niyama is Devotion to the Divine or Simply it is about realising there is a bigger picture, a higher power. It is calling you to understand that it’s not all about you or even us. We are asked to embrace inclusivity and realise the universality of our existence.

Although many thousands of words could be written about these first two limbs of Yoga, this is a brief description of how following these restraints and observances, these simple yet beautiful ways of being, enrich your life. They without doubt develop your awareness and ensure your life and you are Authentic. People may ask why live this way, to which I would answer, we all have an energy or Aura and this Yogic lifestyle will assist in your Aura being bright and positive. You will vibrate at an optimal frequency and your positive energy will increase your ability to touch your spirit and create positive change in the world around you. Yoga encourages you to be the very best you, you can be. As a wise Guru once said to me “ Yoga is the shortcut to our own realisation”

Kriya Yoga

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Introducing Kriya Yoga

Kriya Yoga is an internal action, and a Kriya is a series of Asananas, Pranayama, Nada Yoga (usually mantra repetition is used) Mudra, Bhanda and Meditation. This series of actions is combined to create a specific outcome on an energetic level. Kriya Yoga is primarily about awakening the Kundalini. Simpler Kriyas are also taught, without Asana and Bhanda. In fact, a very core Kriya can simply be the Ujjayi breath carried out, with concentration on the energy travelling up and down the spine. Kriya is also interpreted as an outward physical manifestation of awakened Kundalini.

Hatha Yoga refers to the six Shatkarmas or six actions as Kriyas and many styles of Yoga teach basic Kriya, with the Ujjayi breath and then other hatha yoga features added. So most Yoga practitioners will have at some stage practised a Kriya or Kriya Yoga, even if unaware.

Most commonly taught are the Kriyas handed down from the Mystical Guru Babaji to his disciples. We are most familiar with those passed on from Yogananda and the Shivananda and Satyananda traditions.

My Name is Premaloka and I am a Yogi Passionate about bringing Joy and ease to your life through Yoga. Yoga has been a part of my journey since childhood. I have dabbled, explored, studied, doubted, analysed and immersed myself in it. Eventually I befriended it and we have been together ever since. What I know is that it is a system and it works. Like most systems it requires you to participate, and to follow the system.

Kriya Yoga is simply a system within a system, but there is no doubt about the benefits of working with your energy in this way. Once practiced you will find that it brings another dimension to your life. Internal activity releases you and this is exactly what happens when you incorporate Kriya in your yoga practise.

I came to Kriya yoga when I went in search of some deeper teachings attached to Shivananda Yoga and found a Swami in New Zealand. Swami Shantimurti Saraswati was teaching Yoga based on his own experience and his own personal teachings from Swami Satyananda Saraswati.

This changed the course of my Yogic Life. It is from this study, and what I have learnt in the subsequent years that the Aroha Kriya that I now teach evolved. What I have learnt is that we must look to our hearts, for Anahata Chakra is where purity of emotion resides and gratitude and Happiness are the keys – unlock the heart and your life will be filled with joy and ease. A grateful heart is a happy heart.

The Aroha Kriya is simply a system of techniques, from Hatha Yoga put together, with the intention of increasing the Happiness in the practitioners life, activating, even Awakening Anahata chakra. During the Kriya we Prepare ourselves – emotionally, mentally and physically. We Tune into the Bhavas (our body’s emotional response to asana), we breathe, we smile, we chant, we meditate and we purify. The way that we feel on an emotional level is linked to the chakra system. Each Chakra relates to different emotional states, and balancing and activating these chakras impact our sense of wellbeing. So, we release and activate the lower chakras in preparation for the work that we are doing on the upper chakras and Each time we practice the Kriya another petal of the anahata lotus starts to open.

An excerpt from the Aroha Kriya for you to try at home

Sitting in Ananda Madirasana (Intoxicating Bliss Pose) or Easy pose if this is more comfortable for you.

Closing the eyes, settling the body and bringing yourself to stillness.

The spine is straight.

Please chant Aum 12 Times, with an awareness of the A at Ajna, the U at Vishuddhi and the M at Anahata.

Opening the eyes Perform Khechari Mudra, with Shambavi Mudra and the Ujjayi Breath (if This is familiar to you silent repetition of the Mantra Aum can be repeated) x6

Release the tongue close the eyes and rest – 3 breaths

Half open the eyes, direct the gaze to the nose tip and focus all your concentration on Ajna x9 silently repeat the mantra AUM

Close the eyes rest 3 breaths

Opening the eyes Perform Khechari Mudra, with Shambavi Mudra and the Ujjayi Breath (if This is familiar to you silent repetition of the Mantra Aum can be repeated) x6

Release the toungue close the eyes and rest – 3 breaths

Half open the eyes, direct the gaze to the nose tip and focus all your concentration on Mooladhara x9 silently repeat the mantra LAM

Close the eyes rest 3 breaths

Opening the eyes Perform Khechari Mudra, with Shambavi Mudra and the Ujjayi Breath (if This is familiar to you silent repetition of the Mantra Aum can be repeated) x6

Repeat this pattern moving through the rest of the Chakras

Swadhistana -VAM

Manipura – RAM

Anahata – YAM

Vishhudhi – HAM

Ajna – AUM

Sahasarara – AUM

Then finish back at Anahata, before each Chakra, Repeat Your Khechari Mudra Practice. If you are comfortable with visualization, when in complete concentration on Anahata, you can visualize a 12 petaled smoky blue lotus flower opening and closing.

After finishing this rest for 3-9 breaths, with a gentle smile before Chanting AUM 12 times as you did to start.

This is one part of the Aroha Kriya that I hope you benefit from practicing at home.

I know that happiness lies within each and every one of us. It starts with a deep love and compassion for ourselves. Yoga is here to help us discover this love. We already have all the tools we need to engineer lives rich in health and happiness, Yoga simply shows us how to use them.

About the author

I am Premaloka – A Yogini and mother of 6 who teaches on the beautiful Island of Waiheke in New Zealand, Dublin Ireland and India. I am passionate about Yoga and Happiness and love to share with others this amazing science, by teaching the Aroha Kriya in both retreat and Workshop form. I have embraced a style of Yoga that resonates Authenticity, and combined with my experience of Yoga since childhood, the lineages of Shivananda and Satyananda and Ashram Yoga in New Zealand, I have created a Fusion that I hope is emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally fulfilling. I have been teaching for many years now, and hold a E-RYT 500 hr Yoga alliance registration and am a YACEP provider.

 

Yoga to Awaken The Heart

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This is the first article I wrote on the effects of the Bhavas
Since edited by myself and published on the Yoga Lunch Box

Yoga to Awaken the Heart –Activating the Chakras to enable one to delve deeper into the body’s emotional response, (the Bhavas) to Asana.

In this article I would like to invite you to come on a journey of exploration, as we discuss using the Bhavas to deepen our experience both on and off the mat.

What are the Bhavas many may ask? Bhava is a Sanskrit word, as with many Sanskrit words it can have more than one meaning, but in this context it means emotion, sentiment, state of mind or body. Also, the Bhavas are referred to as attitudes to cultivate yoga.
Duty – Dharma
Knowledge – Jana
Detachment – Vairagya
Self reliance – Aiswarya
As I prepare to teach a class, I will often ask a student “why have you come to the mat today?” Is it just for the physical, the exoteric benefits? To stretch, to strengthen, to breath, or are you looking for more? To grow, to evolve, to transform, to experience more gratitude and happiness?
We Yogis talk about coming to the mat to shift stagnant energy – I certainly talk of this.
Using postures to lift the energy that pools around Muladhara and Swadisthana and encourage it to rise. But before it rises and awakens Anahata, we must be emotionally ready. For it is said that, after awakening and ascension of the Kundalini Shakti to a Chakra, if negative or pessimistic attitudes arise in the mind, the energy then returns to Muladhara.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati tells us that if the energy has only reached manipura it is easily awakened again, but if it reaches Anahata, and then descends, it is very hard to awaken subsequent times.
There is much discussion on whether or not the practitioner should actually work on awakening the Ajna first, so that they are ready for the release from Muladhara and Swadhistana once they are awakened.
Many Yogis strive for enlightenment, for the Prana Shakti to rise and awaken within the higher Chakras, to achieve more than a brief glimpse of what this state of being feels like. All of us that are dedicated to this yogic path have briefly tasted this state, even if unaware at the time. But then the mind and ego return and our energy descends and the work continues. For most of us this is simply because we are not ready, we haven’t spent enough time on the preparatory practises and evolved emotionally and mentally to the required level.
I believe we must look to our hearts. Anahata Chakra is where purity resides and to start to awaken this chakra one should always be optimistic and maintain harmony, inner peace and pure thoughts for all others. This is of course not easy to achieve. We need to work on releasing what is stored in our lower chakras,in our unconscious mind our samskaras, our ego based emotion. Once we realise and achieve this our hearts will be more open and receptive. It will be much easier to be in the space required to awaken Anahata, once this is achieved.
With an open heart, a heart filled with kindness toward ourselves and others, the journey will be brighter.
This is where the Bhavas come into play, this is where we use that energy awakened in Asanas, Mudras and Bhandas to create a state of mind and body that is loving, optimistic and grateful.
Along the journey, what I have learnt, is the importance of my emotional energy. How, to enjoy the journey, we must focus on the heart. I feel that not enough yoga is focused on this extremely important aspect of creating, developing and exploring the emotional ease, joy, gratitude and happiness a session on the mat can bring. Or the openness, optimism, confidence, strength, vulnerability or passion that other sessions will create.
I was fortunate to come to yoga as a child. I practised for years many different styles, experimenting playfully with some more seriously with others. I taught before I was trained, always so eager to spread the word, and passionate about this science of life. But what I came back to every time is the joy that Yoga brings when the heart is awakened and part of your practise.

So I come to the mat and I ask my students – Please today let us explore how we truly feel on the mat, as we move from Asana to Asana, and we do.
Come with us..
We go deep within, whether we are flowing or holding. We investigate how the energy the posture is awakening manifests in emotion.
I believe that each time we step on to the mat for our practise it is a deeply personal journey into ourselves. We are here to release, refill, replenish.

We start with Ajna, we activate this chakra first, then we move to Muladhara, Swadhistana and Manipura. Through a series of Asanas and practises we encourage the Prana Shakti to Ascend. We then move to the Anahata and we remain there through longer, more sustained periods.
To follow is a exert from a class, that we may do once prepared.
As we flow from Vajrasana to shashankasana and the prana starts to rise, we may feel the urge to release, to let go of any dis ease that we have brought to the mat today. As we come to the knees, raising the arms, arching back, opening the Hridayakasha (the heart space), we start to feel the gratitude swell within, as we lower the hands and body into the extended child, with grace we awaken more deeply this emotion of gratitude and devotion, as we strike into shashank bujangasana we continue to open the heart as we send the energy up the spine from Muladhara and Swadhistana. The gratitude deepens and joy starts to manifest as we then settle into holding Bhujangasana, bringing in Shambavi Mudra, we work on transcending the mind and ego as well as activating the intuitive aspect of ourselves. We open the heart to receive, with mental concentration at Anahata, before moving to rest in Shashankasana, where we focus on Ajna letting the energy sit at this higher level.
Moving up into Parvartasana we ground once again. We are aware of the activation of Swadhistatna and the release of negativity at Vishuddhi and as we move into Santolasana, acceptance comes and with this, the powerful emotions of resilience and courage, we know we are equipped for the journey. As we rest in Matsya Kridasana, we feel a deep sense of inner peace, and I often like to think that this is tinged with anticipation and excitement for life.
As we find ourselves once again in Shashankasana, we look within and gratitude sits in this space, as we flow through Ardha Ushtrasana the feelings deepen, the heart opens and joy is abundant, too much to keep within so we send it out, sharing it universally. This time as we come to rest, we feel a deep love, for ourselves. We are full once again replete and with this comes a deep sense of contentment.
This is just a small example of how we can come to the mat to feel deeply. To manifest joy in our lives through our practise and ensure the journey is a happy one. That by following the ancient Yogic practises with integrity, combining Pranayama, with stimulating the Chakras through Asana and Mudra, activating them with channelled prana and direct mental concentration, we can become more enlightened. I believe if we start each session on the mat with an open and grateful heart and let the emotion flow, abundance will come to all aspects of our lives.

Awakened Heart Yoga Retreats and Tours.

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Our Retreats were born out of a passion to share yoga in India with as many people as we could.

Our retreats are focused on giving you the opportunity to come to the Mat to feel , not just move. A chance to reconnect emotionally and experience the Bhavas, which are your emotional responses to the Asanas.

To explore the connection of Yoga in Mother India, to ESCAPE TO AWAKEN – to Rejuvenate Pyhsically, Recharge energetically, Transform emotionally and spiritually. Give yourself the gift of a Yoga Holiday that will positively transform your Life.
A Retreat to explore the Bhavas, the emotional response to Asanas.

Contact Premaloka for more details. Everyone welcome from beginners to experienced yogis. This will be a wonderful transformational experience, and packages start from around $1600 NZ (excluding air fares).