Postures are Not Yoga
1. This is education in yoga, for yoga, and by yoga that is paramount in the Classical approach, rather than the contemporary consumer approach.
2. The last couple of sessions we have delineated the theoretical and philosophical aspects of yoga. Today, let’s embark on the practical aspects. Be prepared to do some asanas.
3. I have been telling you that postures are not yoga. Today we will highlight how and when yoga can come into postures to make them yoga asanas…. Postures are required for asana, but are not asanas themselves. For we neophytes, how does yoga come when yoga has not been actualized, or even been traced?
Posture Awareness — Connect Body Parts to Each Other +2.45
1. Do Sirsasana and variations. If unable to stay in Sirsasana for the duration of study, do standing Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, or sitting Bharadvajasana I…. Do on your own without [me telling you] to change sides or variations.
2. The moment we get into posture, we become posture-aware, posture-conscious, and posturally-active to get the proper posture…. Now [that] you are in a… posture, how does yoga [commence]?
The indoctrination is to do the posture with musculo-skeletal awareness, carrying out certain bio-mechanics by activating your body matter — muscles, joints, bones, skin, and flesh…. It will take some time to reach a workable posture by improving it, evolving it, and adjusting it.
3. How does yoga commence for us neophytes? By becoming connected with limbs and trunk. Connect the lower body to the upper body; the back body to the front body; and the surface body to the inner physical body.
Establish the connections… between one part and another part of the body — each and every part of the body with every other part of the body….
4. Getting connected is one of the connotations of yoga. There are so many suitable connotations. The connotations change at different hierarchies….
Posture Awareness — Connect Mind & Breath to Body +7.15
1. Then let us get connected between breath and body, and between mind awareness and body. Body, mind, and breath come together. First create a network of body, mind, and breath; body, mind, breath, and senses; body, mind, and breath, senses, and organs….
2. When body, mind, and breath are mutually connected with each other, they have a different work culture, a different activity culture. This is an aspect of literacy and education.
3. What does the breath do now in your position? Change sides in your asana when needed.
Learn how to fit theory into the practice of yoga. How does one part of the body work when associated with the rest of the body…? Any part of the body will work differently by connecting and associating with another part of the body. Relate the conditions of one part of the body to another part of the body.
Breath will work differently. [Beyond] a respiratory process, it is an active force. Within the breath is an internal conative (active) organ, an internal cognitive (sense) organ, an internal sensitive organ, and an internal perceptive organ. The breath will contribute from motor activity to ideo-motor activity.
4. The mind will similarly contribute. Try to understand how the mind works in the conditions associated with the breath and the body.
Otherwise, in the temporal condition, the empirical condition, imagine what the mind does. The mind thinks, perceives, feels, senses, imagines, and recalls. The mind [performs] so many functions — cognition, perception, sensation, memory, recollection, and imagination. Mind can go to the past, or the future. Understand how the mind works in the temporal plane, the empirical world.
5. Now, how does the mind work while it is associated with the body? All the body, mind, breath, and senses become mutually compatible, [both] mutual benefactors and mutual beneficiaries…. How each acts as a benefactor is an aspect of literacy in education. How does each act as a beneficiary? What is the give and take between body, mind, and breath?
In case of posture, we merely do it. Posture has to be done. But [note] the interaction… They become mutually considerate. When you act considerately towards another, your thought process differs from when you act inconsiderately. When body, mind, and breath are mutually considerate, how do they work? What do they do? Educate yourself about your own embodiment.
6. Here, the yoga comes in the form of getting connected, becoming mutually related, mutually activated and getting activated by each other. [In asana], there is dispensation and reception, a give and take, [whereas]… there is only doing in posture — “Have you done this? Have you done that…?
In asana [body, mind, and breath] work mutually for each other. They interact; there is interplay. When they are related to each other, their relationship is encouraged…. Although we want all of them to be related to us, we don’t want them to be mutually related to [each other], which is an atrocity….
7. No, go for fraternity. When affiliations are established, they begin to work with each other. That is also a connotation of yoga.
When our things work for our things, that is also a connotation of yoga. When you are working for your things, and your things are working for you; when you are working for things in you, and the things in you are working for you, this affiliated condition is a connotation of yoga at our hierarchy.
8. Change sides on your own.
We are not just supposed to be doing in asana. We are supposed to be staying. We are supposed to be maintaining.
9. I’ve told you about the whole path — doing, staying, maintaining, efficiency, access, penetration, freedom, intense freedom, and the condition of getting settled. Those are negotiations. So, now, do [what is in] this list of requisitions [demands]…. You are not just supposed to be doing. You are supposed to stay in, and maintain, what you are doing. Develop efficacy, intensity, access, freedom, and, then, a settled condition. Proceed for all of these on your own.
Spinal Observatory & Laboratory in Asana +15:30
1. Use a spinal paradigm, as if the back is the generator of associated body activities, associated mind activities, and associated breathing activities.
2. The spine should be like a porthole [window in a ship]. Observe from that porthole. Decipher from that porthole. Unlike just doing in asana — doing, correcting, perfecting, accomplishing — you [should also] be observing. There is much to observe in the interplay of the body, mind, breath, and senses. The spinal column is like a an observatory. Observe the body, mind, and breath interaction and interplay. Create an observatory in the asana.
3. Then create a laboratory. Asanas should not be done by technical prescriptions. We’ve [realized] the fact that we will have to customize… [asana] every day, and every time. There has to be experimentation in the spinal laboratory for asana. So, spinal observatory for the asana, and spinal laboratory for asana.
Two Channels in Spinal Academy of Yoga +17.30
1. In the spinal academy for learning asana there are two channels —
- doing, staying, efficiency, access, freedom, getting settled; and
- doing, learning studying, understanding, comprehending.
Without that, there would be no experimenting.
Even when observing, you don’t just observe. Observation [provides] you the perceptions… to learn… a scope of study.
2. In the second channel of negotiating asana, you are doing, learning, and studying. [Asana] is an observatory, …academy, and …laboratory for you to facilitate the process. These academic, lab, and observatory processes [are not just a] specific set of techniques used for posture.
3. Identify the educational material you have from the spinal port-hole in your asana. The body process must be generated by the spine, from the spine, through the spine, in the spine, and with the spine…. Spine includes the back.
4. Initialize the breathing process from the back and spine. Watch how much the back and spine are a breathing organ…, a conditioner of your breath and breathing.
5. So, also, the mental processes — sensation, perception, cognition, and thought are also bred by the spine. There is a spinal bred breathing process, …physical process, and …corporeal process. Watch how these things take place.
Asana — Weave of Activity & Thought +20.20
1. Identify the weave of activity and thought. Are you merely active in your… asana? No. Invariably, because of your awareness, observation, and sensitivity, you have a state of mind.
The state of mind, as I said in [Lesson 7], has an underlying thought. You cannot have a mental state without a thought pattern, or thought content. You can’t be thoughtlessly in a good state of mind. You can’t be thoughtlessly in a negative state of mind. There is always a thought present, whether in a positive or negative state, a desirable or undesirable state, or a clement [pleasant] or inclement state. There is a thought and… thought process present….
You are not merely in a posture. You are structuring your mind, mindset, consciousness, and state of mind. Mark the thought processes as you go through the different phases of asanas – in the [first] channel of doing staying, maintaining, and in the second channel of doing, learning studying, understanding, comprehending, analyzing, and synthesizing.
2. As I said in [Lesson 7], that is the weave of activity and thought processes. Become aware of activity and thought processes — the activity thread in the weave, and the thought thread in the weave, as the weave of horizontal and vertical threads in woven textiles….
These two threads of activity and thought will weave an asana position, condition, state, caliber, etc. The activity process alone will not [allow] you to graduate in your posture. The thought fabric is also important, if not more important, to graduate…. That is implied in asana. It is not just activity, improvement, correction, and adjustment to set right… the asana….
3. Now, while you are doing this “back-ified” Sirsasana or Bharadvajasana, understand how the mind is participating. How is the mind receiving? How is the mind dispersing? What is the activity of the mind? What is the profile of the mind? What is the function of the mind?
The mind works internally for the other aspects of you. It is not only working for your body, but [also]… your breath, and all mental functions.
The spine, or back, is the locus, or sprout-hole [source], of awareness, consciousness, and flow. It will also address the mind. Find out how the thought process differs when it addresses the body. How is the thought process when it addresses the breath? How is the thought process when it addresses the mind? That activity will be changing.
4. These are nuances of asana that address body, mind, and breath. Render [these] and understand how activity and thought processes change.
Asana — Meditative Activity +25.25
1. In [Lesson 7] we discussed meditativity…. Not all books have meditative potential. [Only] some subjects have meditative potential. You can’t trace meditative potential in a newspaper story. However, books, such as Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, an adhyatmika (pertaining to the atman)… life of the sage, or philosophy, provide a lot of matter to meditate on…. That’s why I said [in Lesson 7] that thought should be suitable for meditation. Not just any thought can be a [worthy] structure for meditation. How much potential is there for meditativity — thought [aimed at] pensiveness, reflection and meditativity?
2. Change posture… for further exploration, but maintain the spinal paradigm.
Refine the fabric of your thought…, and activity. Refined thought and activity will definitely lead towards a meditative state…. Asanas give you a plethora of meditative potential.
3. In the [Lesson 5] session on meditation, I told you that there are three aspects: thought, thinking, and thinker. Try to catch hold of the thought behind your state of mind because we [seek] a quiet, serene, sublime, noble, unalloyed state of bliss in asana.
4. Asana [aims] for a positive, not negative, state of mind. We want to improve the state of mind through thought structure. Highlight the thought process when [aiming] for a refined state of activity and thought. Identify the thought content. See how the thought content changes in the body-set addressal, the mind-set addressal, and the breath-set addressal…. Thought about thought… can become very handy here.
5. Don’t just [aim] for a quiet, serene, sedate… state of mind in yoga. That is consumerism…. Understand the underlying thought, and underlying thought structure for sublime states. Let us not be a consumer, but [aim for] a sublime [refined] thought structure. What is the raw material of the underlying thought on which such a structure is [erected]? Scrutinize and assess… thought about a thought…. [Then] you will be able to improve the thought process.
6. Also consider the thinker…. [When] thinking, you have a thought. If you have a thought, you cannot [conclude] that there is no thinking. So, when there is a thought, there is a thinker. When there is thinking, there is a thought. These are three dimensions of one concept. Don’t [accept] only the literal meaning of thought and thinking. These are three dimensional words….
7. Asanas give you a [chance] to identify, then to study, the three dimensions of thought, thinking, and thinker with a wonderful clarity. It is a possible to have a thought about a thought, a thought about a thinking, and a thought about the thinker. This is important in the meditative process. See the enormous potential for meditativity in asana.
Yama Implies Shat-Sampatti (Six Virtues) +32.15
1. I told you about meditation, and yama and niyama in previous sessions. Understand the thought culture and process, mind, psyche, and consciousness.
As I said, not committing himsa (harm), does not mean that you are necessarily ahimsic (non-harmful). If you are not in a-satya (non-truthfulness), it doesn’t mean that you are satya (truthful). You must be in truth to be true. You must be in ahimsa to be in ahimsa [non-harmful]. You can’t say, “I am in ahimsa because I am not in himsa.”
To be in asteya, you must be in asteya. It cannot be deduced that if you are not in steya that you must be in asteya. It cannot be deduced that if you are not in abrahmacharya that you must be in brahmacharya. These [yamas] are not negative states.
2. You [may] not be committing himsaka (harmful) activity…, or even think of himsa. But that is not [sufficient]. Go beyond that. [Don’t inadvertently] encourage the pratipaksha (opposite) of ahimsa.
Himsa (harm), etc., are manifestations of the shad-ripus (six enemies of lust, anger, greed, pride, attachment, and jealousy). [However,] ahimsa (non-harmfulness), etc., are manifestations of the shat-sampatti (six virtues of equanimity, control of the senses, tolerance, desisting from sensual pleasure, knowledge of vairagya, and steadfastness in peace).
3. What [should be] prominent in body, mind, and breath is not the absence of himsa, asatya, steya, abrahmacharya, and parigraha [non-restraints which are the antitheses of yama], but their antagonizers: shama (equanimity), dama (control of the senses), titiksha (tolerance), uparati (desisting from sensual pleasure), jnana vairagya (knowledge of detachment), and shanti samadhana (steadfastness in peace) [of the shat-sampatti]. [Let] this noble material surface in the consciousness.
4. The raw material of ahimsa, satya…, etc., doesn’t just prevent us from himsa and asatya. It implicitly encourages us to reap the harvest of shama, dama, etc. [of the shat-sampatti].
Or, [discrimination between the divine and demonic that is the title] of chapter 16 of the Bhagavad Gita — daiv-asura sampad vibhaga yoga. Study that chapter to understand [the difference between] demonic and godly potentials.
Asana Generates Noble Qualities +35.40
1. You are evolving saintly potentials in asana. A saint does not merely refrain from himsa and asatya, etc. He is established in the opposite of them, which he has earned through the shastra satsanga, sadhana satsanga, and sattvic ahara vihara vichara that is the shat-sampatti: shama (equanimity), dama (control of the senses), titiksha (tolerance), uparati (desisting from sensual pleasure), jnana vairagya (knowledge of detachment), and shanti samadhana (steadfastness in peace). See how these things are churned out by your asana.
2. Your simple Sirsasana, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, and Bharadvajasana I, which are deemed to be physical postures, generate noble qualities. That is [an example of] the samudra manthan (churning the ocean) aspect in the microcosm of yoga.
All noble qualities surface. When [these] noble qualities surface… there is no chance of you going towards himsa, asatya, steya, abrahmacharya, and parigraha [non-restraints which are the target of yama]. Not only will you be turned away from them, but you will also be engaged in their opposites — the dharma tattva (principles of dharma). You will be established in dharma tattva.
3. The material of yama is being churned out in asana…. Try to live in yama…. That’s the yogic mind.
Refer to Guruji’s booklet Yaugika Manas to understand how to turn out a yogic mind from what you are doing.
Class Summary +37.35
1. I’ve tried to bring in the practical aspects of the theory we’ve discussed in the last three sessions to understand how posture becomes asana, and asana has yoga…. Therefore it is called yogasana…
2. Asana and pranayama generate meditation and meditativity, and ethico-religious principles — the achar niti dharma.
3. In dynamic meditation, consider the thinker and thinking, not just the thought. Rather than hovering around a thought [and calling it] thinking, think about thinking and the thinker. They are the major components of meditativity.
 Within the breath is an internal conative (active) organ, an internal cognitive (sense) organ, an internal sensitive organ, and an internal perceptive organ: The breath is comprised of the evolutes of prakrti.
 doing, staying, maintaining…, and… getting settled… are negotiations: These are necessary steps of working through the difficulties of asana to reach mastery. In the prior section, “Connect Body Parts to Each Other,” Prashant stated, “It will take some time to reach a workable posture by improving it, evolving it, and adjusting it.” In the next section, Prashant will refer to this as “negotiating” asana.
 not committing himsa (harm), does not mean that you are necessarily ahimsic (non-harmful): Prashant first brought this up in Lesson 4 (4-19-20), then in Lesson 5 (4-25-20). See 1) “Yama and Niyama are Ethico-ReligiousPrinciples,” Yama and Niyama — Ethico-Religious Practice 4-19-20; and 2) “Yama and Niyama are Ethico-Religious Principles,” Dynamic Meditation 4-25-20
 committing himsaka (harmful) activity: The actual Sanskrit word was himsatmaka, which breaks down into himsa + atmaka (nature of) = intent of doing harm.
 [Don’t inadvertently] encourage the pratipaksha (opposite) of ahimsa: PYS II.33 | vitarka badhane pratipaksha [opposite + to take a side] bhavanam | Vitarka (the principles which are against yama and niyama) is to be countered with pratipaksha bhavanam (the knowledge of discrimination).
 shad-ripus (six enemies of lust, anger, greed, pride, attachment, and jealousy): So long as one continues to live with the six enemies (shadripus) in the form of desire (kama), anger (krodha), greed (lobha), delusion (moha), arrogance (mada) and jealousy (matsarya), even if one retires to a forest, one will continue to be fear-ridden and cannot hope to have any peace of mind. (Bhagavatam 5.1.17) Guruji objectified the mind by superimposing mental states onto body matter: aggressive (himsaka) wrist; greedy (parigraha) knee & toe; fear (abhinivesha) in ribs. See B.K.S. Iyengar & The Dalai Lama: Paths to Happiness +28:30
 has earned through the shastra satsanga, sadhana satsanga, and sattvic ahara vihara vichara: association (satsanga) with spiritual texts (shastra), practice (sadhana), and a sattvic diet (ahara) and thought (vichara).
 samudra manthan (churning the ocean) aspect in the microcosm through yoga: The reference to churning probably alludes to the Puranic myth of churning the Ocean of Milk to bring the nectar of immortality to the surface. [Vishnu Purana I.9, 2.1.4; Bhagavata Purana VIII; Ramayana, Canto 45] Similarly, asana is a refining process that allows the noble qualities of yama to rise to the surface. See footnote #3, Ahimsa — Gandhi’s Nonviolent Political Action
 You will be established in dharma tattva: See “In [Indian thought] we have philosophy — tattva jnana (knowledge of principles of prakrti), and dharma,” in “Yama and Niyama are Ethico-Religious Principles,” Yama and Niyama — Ethico-Religious Practice 4-19-20; “Dharma is Subjective,” Dharma in Asana 4-26-20
 Refer to Guruji’s booklet Yaugika Manas to understand how to turn out a yogic mind from what you are doing: B.K.S. Iyengar, Yaugika Manas: Know and Realize the Yogic Mind, Mumbai: Yog, 2010. This self-published booklet focuses on how the dual manas, mind, becomes polluted, and how to purify it through yoga. It’s key points were subsequently integrated into widely published: B.K.S. Iyengar, Core of the Yoga Sutras: the Definitive Guide to the Philosophy of Yoga, London: HarperThorsons, 2012.