Nava Yoga Newsletter: Sept 26–Oct 2

Namaste Dear Friends,

We hope you’re enjoying the transition into Autumn! Please note that we’re offering two free yoga classes this week in preparation for their official 4-week registration periods, which begin the following week.

The first free class is “Intro to Yoga” on Wednesday night between 7:00–8:00PM. This class is intended for people new to yoga or who are returning to their practice after a hiatus. The second free class this week, taught by Nancy Burkhart, is “Yoga for Runners” on Thursday night between 6:00–7:00PM. This class is designed for runners/athletes who wish to enhance their performance while minimizing potential injury.  Please note that the registration cost is $50 for each of these sessions.

In addition, we’ve had some requests for information on the meditation course offered by Sarah Thompson that begins Oct. 17th. A description of the course is now posted on our website at http://www.navayoga.ca/classes/. The cost for the 8-week course is $100.

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Monday:
Yoga for Men w/ Greg @ 5:30–6:30PM

Tuesday:
Vinyasa Flow w/ Leanne @ 5:30–6:30PM
Gentle Yoga w/ Leanne @ 7:00–8:15PM

Wednesday:
Hatha Yoga w/ Greg @ 5:30–6:45PM
(Free) Intro to Yoga w/ Greg @ 7:00–8:00PM

Thursday:
(Free) Yoga for Runners w/ Nancy @ 6:00–7:00PM

Saturday:
Morning Flow w/ Greg @ 10:00–11:15AM

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POSE OF THE WEEK:
Paschimottasana

••• a seated forward bend in which the legs are extended straight along the floor while the torso rests on the legs. The full version of paschimottasana can be very challenging as it requires significant flexibility in the back and hamstrings. For this reason, it is often advantageous to sit on the edge of cushion or folded blanket to minimize strain. A strap can also be used around the feet to help practitioners work their torso towards their legs whilst maintaining a straight spine and relaxed torso, shoulders and arms.

Please speak with your instructors regarding safe modifications for your body type this week as they introduce you to other aspects of paschimottasana and how it relates to all forward bending postures.

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YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI
We’ll continue this week with a handful of sutras and commentary we explored before the summer break to re-orient us with Chapters 1 and 2 of Patanjali’s compilation.

(Chapter 1)
34. Overcoming the obstacles to the mind is also achieved by the expulsion and retention of the breath.
39. Or by meditating on whatever is agreeable.
41. For the person who has mastered the vrittis (i.e., thought waves) through meditation, there is a merging of the perceiver, perceived, and perception, just as the crystal assumes the colour of the background.
(Chapter 2, Sutras 1–3)
1. Self-discipline, self-study and surrender to God constitute Kriya Yoga.
2. These are performed to promote samadhi and to remove afflictions from the mind.
3. Ignorance, egoism, attraction, aversion and clinging to life are the five afflictions.

Sutra 34 is a reference to the practice of pranayama (breath regulation) as a method for purification towards stillness. Every breath pattern has its own merits; slower breath rates lead to more passive states whereas faster breath rates lead to mind/body activation. Retention following an inhalation or exhalation provides another level of breath-body-mind mastery.

As noted in a June newsletter, Sutra 39 is one of my favourites because it validates the dictum “the paths are many but the Truth is One” by suggesting that an aspirant should choose anything that suits their temperament and stick to that method until reaching liberation. There is a softness here that I appreciate; the practice is meant to meet us wherever we are. Ultimately, the practice is an internal one and all outward seeking must fall away. The practice requires trust is one’s experience, an open mind, and great self care and love. Without a doubt, yoga was never intended to be dogmatic or prescriptive–it is an experiential process of unfoldment of relationship.
Sutra 41 describes the mastery that extends from the microcosm (perceiver) to the macrocosm (perceived/perception) and the merging that is associated once the thought waves are stilled.

Chapter 2 begins by describing Kriya Yoga to consist of three aspects: tapas (self-discipline/austerity), svadhyaya (self-study, for example, through Vedanta), and Ishvara pranidhana (devotion/surrender to God). Last May/June we discussed how Ishvara pranidhana and discrimination (viveka) were the two primary means described in the Samadhi Pada to achieve samadhi. Recall (from May/June, Sutras 17–18) that samadhi is a superconscious state of blissful awareness. Attaining samadhi directly by way of Ishvara pranidhana and discrimination can be challenging, which is why tapas and svadhyaya may be required as additional aids. Consequently, it is said that Kriya Yoga is applicable to almost everyone.

Yoga recognizes five afflictions (kleshas) of the mind that cause suffering, which Sutra 2.3 lists. The cause of all affliction is ignorance (avidya). It is not an ordinary ignorance or lack of outer/book knowledge. It is a spiritual ignorance of not knowing our true nature as Eternal, Purusha, Love, Divinity, Self, call-it-what-you-will. It is because of ignorance that we confuse the transient with the eternal, the body-mind system with the Self. It is said that all causes of pain and suffering automatically disappear when avidya is replaced by enlightenment.

Have a wonderful week!

Om Namah Shivaya

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