A foundation within our yogic practice is finding stillness and going inward. Use these practices and reflections for your own benefit and with your Yasodhara Yoga students. We thank a group of teachers, Eva Snyder, Michelle Blance, Victoria Campbell and Gordon Matchett, who came together to prepare these reflections while at the Ashram.
Swami Radha reads Cremation Ground from her book of poems, When You First Called Me Radha. Listen to the audio.
- “When you approach the entrance to the hidden place, it is dark and frightening because it is unknown. A guardian stands at the gate – a big dragon – that will battle with you a thousand doubts. This is the intellect that will fight tooth and nail because it does not want to be defeated under any circumstances, and it knows that spiritual experiences will defeat it.” (Light and Vibration, p. 115) What is your favourite practice to defeat the big dragon of the intellect? Do this practice, and ask yourself “Where is the hidden place of my mind?”
- “Pranayama is the yogic practice of breath control, which enables us to attune to the cosmic rhythm. It a process through which we can isolate our inner Self from the influences and influx of mechanical thoughts. Through the practice of pranayama we can gain control over the nervous system and, most important, over the mind itself.” (Yoga of Healing, p. 74)
Practice the preparatory relaxation exercises. Sit and watch your mind, then breathe to an even count for ten minutes. Note what happens to the mind and the emotions.
- “The tortoise symbolizes looking inward and controlling very carefully what is put out.” (Hidden Language of Hatha Yoga, p. 153) Reflect on withdrawing your senses and finding a steady place of wisdom as you go into the Tortoise pose, Kurmasana. Bring in the mantra, prayer or image of Light.
- Divine Mother Shakti is the power that is in, and comes from, speech. Swami Radha describes silence as a tapas, a discipline that uses the heat of intensity of purpose to burn away the dross, impurities and obstacles. Swami Radhananda says “It is interesting what will arise in silence. The outside noises may fade, the mind may quieten down, but the issues that need sorting out in the mind rise to the surface.” (Living the Practice, p. 70) Choose a period of time to practice silence – it could be a day or portion of a day, or a short period of time each day for several days. Witness your mind in silence. Where does it go? What is revealed?
- “Technology can’t change you; all it has to offer are more opportunities to tempt you.” (Time to Be Holy, p. 165) Choose a period of time – for example, one day a month – to step away from communicating through devices. Recite the Divine Mother prayer every hour and reflect on what you are experiencing having unplugged. Journal, draw a picture or write a poem to remind yourself of your experience.
- “Our sense perceptions are our gateways to the world around us but we don’t usually give them much thought.” (Living the Practice, p. 107) Take a walk in silence. Consider wearing a tag that says “On Silence.” Be aware of your senses and which ones aid you in going inwards and which ones pull you outwards. You can also practice Manasika Japa – repeating a mantra silently – to see what effect it has.
- Take a few minutes to work with Mountain pose, Tadasana, daily for a month reflecting on the following: Standing still: looking within. Standing still: where am I? (Hidden Language of Hatha Yoga, p. 62) Make a few notes each day. At the end of the month review your notes. What have you learned about going inward?
- Repeat the Divine Mother prayer 25 times. Pay special attention to hearing yourself say the prayer. Sit in silence for a few minutes after listening. Then ask Divine Mother a question, something you need to know from Her wisdom. Listen to Her reply. (Devi of Speech, p. 93 exercise for the 5th cakra)