Today marks the celebration of Shivaratri–the night of Shiva. Yogeshwar is Shiva as the Lord of Yoga, who was able to transcend the phenomenal world after exploring the duality of experience through the power of yoga. The sage Patanjali tells us that yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Yoga helps one to see the world as it really is–without obstruction from opinions, emotions, and preconceptions–by nurturing clarity, dispassion, and wisdom.
For this reason, yoga traditions honour Shiva as their original guru. The asanas we mimic awaken our latent consciousness (whether or not we are aware of this!) as we continue our journey Home. The practice of yoga supports us through each and every layer of consciousness that we experience—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thus, yoga is a practice of unfolding the spiritual, highest self in an honest and methodical way.
An integral aspect of this journey is the expansion of the mind beyond the narrow confines of the mind-body system. To this end, the breath is a natural and effective approach (i.e., pranayama), because it forms a direct link between the body and the mind. Shiva represents the prana of pure consciousness that is beyond time, space, and duality, which we can–without question–experience directly as we explore within ourselves pratyahara, dharana, and dhyana. It simply takes effort and surrender…over and over and over again…until it doesn’t!
Shivaratri is a day characterized by fasting, prayer, and chanting Shiva mantras throughout the day and night, most notably Om Namah Shivaya and the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. Interested folks can read more about Shivaratri here (just a randomly googled blog): https://umayogini.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/shivaratri-the-night-of-shiva/.
My changed family situation precludes me (Greg) from spending the night at the yoga studio this year. However, to celebrate Shivaratri I’ll be guiding a flow-style yoga class TOMORROW morning (Saturday, Feb. 25th) between 9:00–10:15AM. Donations to the foodbank will be greatly appreciated.
Om Namah Shivaya!