Yoga and the force of habit

Open Yoga Journal

Success in yoga is defined by the habit to practice regularly. Let’s see why a habit to practice is of key importance.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Forming the associative links

The theory of yoga includes the concept of associative links. Each of us has a Higher Self – our true ultramundane essence – however, due to Maya, we don’t realise it. Maya is something which, on the one hand, makes it possible for our Higher Self to manifest itself in this world; on the other hand, it generates the illusion that makes things appear as something different. As a result of this correlation, we associate ourselves not with what we really are, but with our manifestations. This is how our associative links are formed. The first associative link is Prana, the life force, which emanates from our Higher Self to our bodies, giving them life. Forming our bodies Prana ides itself into Consciousness and Energy, which erge into two opposite extremes and create the principles (chakras) one after another. The path of ergence forms the so called Central Channel in our body – Sushumna.

The benefits of doing yoga outdoors

Open Yoga Journal

When we spend our time in nature, we feel much better than in the big cities. That is why, even intuitively, we strive to spend our free time more often in parks, summer cottages, villages, hiking, etc. This is especially important during the warm season. If we spend most of the time in cities where we work and have our social life, then we turn to nature to relax and restore. This type of recreation makes us appreciate nature even more, especially considering the environmental pollution our civilization faces. Many people are moving out to live closer to natural conditions. Let’s see what Yoga tells us about whether it’s worth to move en masse to the countryside to achieve better results in self-exploration.

Self-exploration happens regardless of our location

Yoga is a system of exploring oneself and the Universe. The ultimate goal of Yoga is Enlightenment, which can be achieved at any point in space and time. We can realize the highest true and achieve success in self-exploration everywhere and any time. However, at the beginning of the path, when we still identify ourselves with our body and mind, the yogic transformation is easier and even faster in more favorable settings.

The secret to fullness of life

Open Yoga Journal

Most of us, tired of a drab existence, strive to change our place and surroundings to experience novelty and ersity. But at some point, we realize that we have already explored a lot of things in the outside world and we surrender to a feeling of monotony. Wherever we go, sameness follows us everywhere. Even traveling to other countries, we eventually lose interest in them. The world seems to become small, predictable and boring. The scenery changes, but we see the same familiar picture of the mundane behind it. How to learn to continuously experience the fullness and ersity of life? What do we need for this? Yoga will help find the answers.

“As, dear, the birds come home to the tree to rest, so, verily, all this comes to rest in the Higher Self. The Higher Self is the basis and the reality of this Universe.” Prasna Upanishad

Pravritti and Nivritti

What many people call development, involvement in the outside world, is known in Yoga as the path of Pravritti, the path of expression and fervent activity. If we are totally immersed in this worldly life, this development is coupled with increasing ignorance. To achieve self-awareness, our attention must be turned inward to the source of life. This process is called Nivritti, when the Higher Self becomes aware of itself as the source of its manifestations. Provided that we know the subtleties of the Pravritti path, we can get involved in the external world and at the same time increase self-awareness. With this approach, we naturally lose interest in the outer world and pleasures through external objects and phenomena, and our attention turns back to the Higher Self. Otherwise, desires and aspirations for external objects will never reach the limit and will only get stronger along with ignorance.

Meditation against stress

Open Yoga Journal

Meditation against stress

Meditation nowadays is often mentioned as a practice which helps people to solve problems in the modern world. Meditation is a way to harmonise our personal life and our interaction with the Universe. The ancient history of this practice is a proof of its effectiveness and makes it trustworthy. There are many questions regarding the personal practice of meditation. Which technique should we choose for achieving the best results? How can we add meditation into the practice of physical types of yoga? Is it necessary to adapt the ancient practice to the modern lifestyle?

What is meditation and why do we need it?

The European word «meditatio» is of Latin origin and it can be translated as «thinking». A classic interpretation of the word can be found in the ancient treatise «Yoga Sutras» of Patanjali. According to this text, meditation includes several steps: Dharana (concentration with some effort), Dhyana (concentration without any effort) and Samadhi (the meditation state). These three steps have one name «sanyama». By following this way, we learn subsequently to reduce the number of thoughts in our mind, until we are concentrated on a single thought, which is consequently removed from our mind and we concentrate on our true Self. The Meditation practice can be ided into two parts: meditation as a process and meditation as a state of mind. Meditation as a state has its own classification, however, it is always a deep personal experience. The process of meditation involves certain specific exercises for achieving set goals. The goals can be very inidual.

Feedback. Three things that impressed me at IOYU

Open Yoga Journal

When I decided to study at IOYU, I didn’t have any clue what was waiting for me. We are familiar with the main approaches in the educational process from the early days of school and barely anything changes at a later stage. “Learning is just learning” – but this is so only at the first glance. So, what have I discovered since I started studying at International Open Yoga University (IOYU)?

Academic load

First, I believed that studying to become a yoga teacher is a hobby and is for leisure. The enrollment at IOYU broke this stereotype. I could not understand, that the subject of yoga and self-development, which seems to be simple, easy and pleasant, requires hard work. This work assumed strict discipline towards myself, honesty, organization, continuous self-development, at times some routine and so on.

The educational system at Open Yoga University turned out to be a kind of filter that outcasts “unwanted” people from the university. If you are not interested in devoting all your free time to Yoga, to reading and listening to lectures, watching videos, passing tests, writing reviews and reports on every occasion (i.e., sharing knowledge further), sooner or later, you will get tired of it and will be expulsed. The worst case is that you come up with excuses why you and Yoga don’t get along, trying to justify your unwillingness to work hard on yourself.

Restrain yourself today for a better tomorrow!

Open Yoga Journal

Many have probably heard about the amazing abilities of some yogis, who sometimes do things that seem strange and even absurd from the outside. Some sleep on nails; others starve themselves for several days or even weeks; the third ones retreat from society for a long time in search for solitude in caves. The truth is, they undergo this uneasy experience for a reason. It happens that, a person wants to change some aspect of their life but cannot solve this problem by usual means. According to the teaching of Yoga, practicing asceticism can help in cases like this.

What is asceticism?

We have the ability to feel joy and use the energy of pleasure for our physical and spiritual development. This is our natural ability inherent in us from birth. The possibility to derive pleasure from food, from the contemplation of nature, from communicating with the loved ones, is a gift offered to us by mother nature herself. However, if we are accustomed to just enjoy everything, then this leads to serious dissonance in our life and excessive slack, laziness and inertness emerge. We waste our resources on unnecessary emotions and cannot concentrate on a task. We do not have enough strength or ability to focus even to properly fulfill our daily activities.

Yoga is the key to yourself

Open Yoga Journal

Where does self-exploration begin? Many people start this path by inquiring what their mission or destiny is. Some people discover their path immediately, for others it remains a secret for a long time. The advice of people close to us impedes us from hearing our inner voice. There are many trainings on similar topics that help us recall our mission, which is concealed in childhood memories. “When you were little, what were you most interested in?” – this is the most common question asked by experts. But, even remembering our childhood preferences, we cannot be sure that this is our real mission. Can Yoga be the key that unlocks the potential inherent in each of us? Let’s develop this question further.

We are all products of our childhood

A child’s mind is still pure. Children are closer to the original state of harmony, they feel more rather than think. Through playing, children discover themselves and the surrounding world and realize what is more interesting for them to do, what brings them joy and satisfaction. At various stages, we experienced joy in different activities. Only as adults, we gain enough experience to find out the meaning of our life. But as adults, we tend to forget the state of joy that was driving us in the childhood, we tend to move away from our true self. Indeed, we get smarter and become more aware, but at the same time we start to have doubts. Perhaps due to the upbringing: our parents insist on us becoming a doctor, but we have the talent of a pianist. Or we are influenced by society, where it is prestigious to be a lawyer, a politician or a businessman.

Yoga Myths and Reality

Open Yoga Journal

Yoga has always been surrounded by a lot of mysteries. Nowadays there are not so many people who have a holistic view of this ancient teaching. In this article we tried to highlight the most common myths about yoga and people practicing it.

Myth 1.  Yoga is an Indian gymnastics

First, a lot of scientists come to the opinion that yoga knowledge was brought into India from outside thousands of years ago and had been stored there till the Colonization. After that yoga came to the West.  Second, the system of yoga includes not only physical and breathing exercises but mental ones as well.

Myth 2.  Yoga is a part of Hinduism

Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is a system of self-exploration. It is not against any religions and perfectly combines with each of them.

Working with a voice is a way to self-transformation

Open Yoga Journal

Mantra yoga is a practice of self-exploration, by using sound vibrations of human speechPeople who are proficient in their language have a very strong power of thought. They can influence other people and generally succeed in life. Beautiful, clear and harmonious mellow voice, literate and competent speech  is fascinating by its expression. However, regretfully, not every person can speak perfectly. Is it possible to improve the world and yourself by means of your voice? We will try to find the answer from the perspective of yoga teaching.

From ancient times and to the present day, we find evidences of the magical power of human speech. Miscellaneous ethnic fairy tales and ancient myths tell us about the immense power of the spells and about the might they give to people.

The sublime knowledge of the strength of words was preserved by wise men of the East. This knowledge is called Mantra yoga, which uses our ability to speak.

In Mantra yoga there are special words of power – mantras, which were passed to us by the ancient Yoga teachers. Chanting mantras has a tremendous impact, affecting the whole Universe.  Mantra is so powerful that it can save life, make the wish come true, help to achieve goals, gain spiritual knowledge or material wealth.

Yoga instead of smoking

Open Yoga Journal

Everybody has a certain set of habits. Some of them affect us positively, others can only ruin our health and mood. How can yoga help us quit smoking? What does yoga recommend?

When a person makes a choice to start smoking once, it will be difficult to change it. There is a joke credited to the famous writer Mark Twain: “It’s easy to quit smoking — I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

Usually an inidual does not start smoking spontaneously; he or she even doesn’t know how to smoke! Many implicit reasons are pushing us to this act.

We know from yoga axiomatics that our «Higher self» have an absolute freedom: nobody and nothing have the right to restrict us. By nature we have an aspiration to express ourselves through the realization of our will.  When we do some form of actions, we implement free will. No one but us is responsible for these actions. If we demonstrate our freedom and restrict the freedom of other people, then we should be ready for consequences.

Yantra yoga. The cognition of the world through forms

OpenYoga Journal

Our emotional state is closely connected with the forms around us. Home interior, city architecture, natural landscape – all of these affect us in a certain way. Why does one sort of images evoke in us a sense of calmness, peace, security, and contribute to the restoration of emotional balance, while other sort of images, on the contrary, causes oppression, hidden fear, tension, affecting negatively on our mental state?

Evolution of bodies – evolution of forms

The influence of forms on us is not accidental. Our bodies have evolved over many millennia. The simplest microorganism developed to the level of the human body under the influence of environmental conditions. Our Higher Self manifested by using the principle of form, and adapted from life to life to changing conditions. Every external influence and reaction to it were imprinted in the memory of our bodies and of our minds. Therefore, there is no “unpunished” perception of a form. Any form via associative connections awakens in us this or that response, affects our physical and mental state, and guides our actions.

In many ways, people’s behavior is due to what they see

When it comes to yoga, it is never too late

Open Yoga Journal

Yoga is a system of self-exploration that includes physical and mental exercises and helps to expand our freedom. When should we start practicing Yoga to make the process of engaging in practice as easy as possible and to build the habit faster? How can you understand that a person is ready for yoga classes? Is it possible to arouse interest in yoga in other people?

When we contemplate the idea of starting yoga practice, we choose a period when we can make a conscious decision, and have yoga classes on a regular basis.

The most important thing is to make yoga interesting

We can take interest in yoga at a very early age when we do not only know what yoga is, but also we do not even know how to put our thoughts into words. However, this will not be an obstacle for a young yogi. A child can look up to adults and take certain poses, getting to know the body and enjoying this activity. The child will repeat and copy much of what he or she sees at a yoga class of the adults and, over time, will be able to start independent practice. Such classes will be an excellent base for the formation of the habit!

How much does the spirit evolution cost?

Open Yoga Journal

Modern society provides us with many opportunities to expand our freedom. Subject to the influence of new trends, we wonder more and more where to invest our money to reach a new level of development and to evolve. Various trainings, seminars, mental and physical practices require financial investments. If we pay less – do we get lower quality knowledge, and if we pay more – does it guarantee our spiritual growth? Is it possible to get the desired effect at a discount?

We have to pay for everything in life!

A lot of people around us try to effectively “sell” themselves: scientific researches, quotations of celebrities, broadcasting of a lifestyle – all these are attempts to earn trust and loyalty of the consumer. Often under the guise of the teachings this information contains many illusions, not critically consumed by our mind. But the principle of “the more you pay – the better you get” does not work here.

Yoga tells us that we ourselves have been persistently creating the law of supply and demand for a long time. This is our Karma – the carrot and stick that drives us through life, makes us adapt, become smarter and more efficient. This is a tool in our hands and it should be used purposely.

Parents and children from yoga point of view.

Open Yoga Journal

Sooner or later every person starts thinking about starting a family, having kids and rising a new generation. Many new parents ask themselves: How should they bring up their children and what kind of personal example can they demonstrate. What does Yoga offer in this respect?

The questions of relationship, family issues, advent of life are covered by the Kin Yoga. The main idea of the Kin yoga:“There is nothing more valuable than life”.

Understanding the grandness of life will allow us to dispel the illusion about ourselves, avoid a lot of conflicts and misunderstanding, and make a huge step towards our spiritual development.

Our parents gave us the most precious gift – our life, the possibility to develop spiritually and to realize ourselves. The fact that they gave us our body to manifest ourselves in this world deserves the endless respect and gratitude, regardless of the conditions in which we were born or the attitude of our parents towards us.

How to get rid of importunate thoughts?

Open Yoga Journal

Has it happened to you that some thought was stuck in your head? You would willingly get rid of it, but it would not disappear as a troublesome fly. How can we escape unnecessary thoughts? Can we put  it under control?

You know the expression: sow a thought reap an act, sow an act reap a habit, sow a habit reap a character, sow a character reap a fate…

Every our thought has consequences in the real life. Forgetting about the importance of thoughts in our head, we admit uncontrollable emotions, reactions and events in our life. With time we can notice, that we don’t like what is happening with us. We want to change the situation for the best. Yoga says, that there is a solution — we should put our mind under control.

Yoga is intended to solve our problems!

Classically yoga is aimed to stop the appearing of thought forms on the surface of our mind —  ‘chitta-vritti-nirodha’. But is it so simple?

The soul is in pain, but yoga will help.

Open Yoga Journal

Have you ever felt pain, either physical or mental? Surely, each of us at least once in a lifetime had a feeling of physical or emotional discomfort of various degrees of severity. Have you ever wondered what exactly pain is? Where does it come from and is it possible to avoid it? We shall try to answer these questions from the yoga point of view.

Pain – is a physical or mental suffering, agony, distress, opposite to pleasure, an unpleasant feeling. It is also a reaction to this feeling, which is defined by certain changes, as well as by the act of willing to eliminate the painful factor. Pain is the condition, which any human being is trying to avoid by attaining the state of comfort.

Is it worth avoiding pain or can it be of any use to us?

“Suffering and pain is a challenge, a protective mechanism of life, directing our attention to the danger” Alexander Herzen

On the one hand we associate pain with something negative, hurtful, unpleasant. On the other hand it stimulates us, forcing us to move forward, to develop, and to find the ways to get rid of pain and change. So what is the origin of pain?

From the perspective of yoga, there is no such thing as the energy of pain.

Yoga teaches us that we have a Higher Self – it is something words cannot describe, it is almighty, omniscient, and free. This Higher Self manifests itself in this world in some particular form, such as a physical body with certain character features, thoughts and emotions.

Who to blame for our failures?

OpenYoga Journal

At least once in our life each one of us has been in a situation, which was dissatisfying or unpleasant for us, and caused suffering and pain. Someone did not get the desired job or did not achieve the goal. Someone had a serious illness or could not build a relationship. When something negative happens to us, we start looking for someone or something to blame. We blame our destiny, our life, the Universe, other people and we waste a lot of time, energy and emotions. Is it worth looking for someone to blame, and what can we do with the problems appearing on our way?

Man is a social being. We always pursue to communicate with other human beings.

Usually it’s not so difficult to find an offender, as people spend a lot of time in the company of other people. As a common rule, we tend to shift the responsibility on the shoulders of others. It seems to us that if some person was cruel or unfair to us, this is the reason why we suffer. We think that if our salary is not good enough, it means that our boss does not appreciate our efforts; if our mind is not sharp, it’s because our parents did not give us the right education, if we have bad manners – our environment is to be blamed; if we fail the exam – we blame the examiner for asking the most difficult question.

Nyasa Yoga. Learning the world through touching.

Open Yoga Journal

A person can live to an old age without vision, sense of smell or hearing, but even if all these sensory organs do not function, we shall still have one very important sense – sense of touch.

Many people do not pay due attention to tactual sensations. A person builds up his/her own world and finds it very comfortable, but he/she is not conscious of the way other people live. By cutting oneself off the world a person is suffering very much, and does not understand the reason why he/she is suffering.

Tactual sensations play a great part in human’s life.

When people shrink into themselves, they block the feeling of unity with the whole Universe. All sorts of neurosis, frustration, state of depression and hopelessness appear as a result of lack of tactual contact.

Without a tactual contact our body starts assuming that there is nobody around, that you are the last representative of humanity and have only painful death in loneliness ahead of you.

Continued support.

Open Yoga Journal

Everyone sooner or later asks whether there is something permanent in this world: something that will never go away? The body is aging, emotions replace one another, people come and go. Is there anything we can rely on? If there is something eternal, where can we find it?

A thief picks a pocket, old age destroys the beauty, illnesses take away people and even the stars are hidden behind the clouds” (Boris Grebenshikov)

Yoga introduces some sort of a foothold: the reasonable, the good, the eternal we are all looking for.

There is an axiomatic statement that each of us has a Higher Self, which never disappears, and which we can rely on. It always remains with us and it is one of the footholds.

Give me the place to stand, and I shall move the earth” (Аrchimedes)

What is the Higher Self?

A little bit of yoga to make us happy.

Open Yoga Journal

What is happiness? Do we need much in order to feel it? Where is the key to happiness and what does it depend on? How to be happy despite of all twists and turns in life?

“Happiness is a person’s state, corresponding with the most satisfaction of the living conditions, fullness and meaningfulness of life, and fulfilling one’s purpose in life”.

According to Yoga axiomatic, happiness is a natural condition of any living being!

Many people think that everything is relative, and in order to feel happiness, one needs to feel pain and suffer first: “A blessing in disguise”. Is this correct?

Yoga tells us that there is no pain and unhappiness. There is only the energy of pleasure. Pain is a pleasure, ided into two parts and head-butted with itself. It means that we suffer when we want to get completely opposite things at the same time. For example we feel pleasure when eating a cake and we feel good being slim. But when we eat cakes our body becomes fat. That is where pain comes from. Our two pleasures head-butted each other and self-contradiction occurred.

Effective time management.

Open Yoga Journal

Where does our time fly? What do we spend time on? Why do we have only 24 hours in a day…? Why do some events last forever and others rush by us in a blink? We ask these questions from time to time, but it does not seem easy to get the answers.

Time is an irretrievable asset!

Time is an extremely valuable resource in our life. However, do we always realize its pricelessness? What does it take to spend time effectively, making it the most beneficial for ourselves and for the rest of the world? There are plenty of so-called “time-management” systems, allowing us to resolve this task.

Yoga encourages us to start with defining our aims on which we are going to spend our time.

By identifying short-, medium- and long-term objectives, we can clearly see the image of our desirable future. We can record our goals on paper and place it in such a way that it always remains in front of our eyes.

Being mindful about our objectives will make every second of our life more conscious!

Do yogis have to be vegetarians?

Open Yoga Journal

Open yoga journal- Open yoga project. More information about Open yoga is on the website

Nowadays it is widely believed that before starting to practice yoga, a person must stop eating animal products and become a vegetarian. How much truth is in this statement? It is worth understanding.

It is important to understand that Yoga does not control our every movement and does not impose any binding rules. Yoga makes recommendations, but we decide ourselves how to do it. Yoga is a system of self-exploration, and its main goal is freedom!

Free will in yoga is sacred!

Lifestyle and dietary pattern in particular is a personal matter. A system of spiritual development, which limits us in any matter, cannot be called yoga. Moreover, if someone or something reduces our freedom, then yoga recommends rejecting it. Therefore, if eating only plant food makes us feel deprived, then we must go back to our normal diet.

Let’s recap the fundamental principles, which guide yogis and yoginis in everyday life. If we take the path of self-exploration, these principles will help us understand different life situations.

The first principle of Yoga says about the need to make every effort to avoid harming living beings unless it is necessary.