Wa Yo Yogi

Leanne Kitteridge's adventures in Yoga

Tokyo Immersion 2010- Day 2 April 3, 2010

Stone Jizos holding the jewel of light to lead us from the darkness....

Today , as Skeeter said, was a really good day.  John’s overarching theme of the day was relationship- a carry over from yesterday and how do we have a relationship with Spirit, how do we have a relationship with others, how do we have a relationship with ourselves.

How do you know your yoga practice is working? This was John’s question he put to us. He explained that you know because you come into better relationship with everyone and with life. You experience harmony- peace, love, happiness….why is that? Because when your yoga is working you align with Spirit- you experience it- it makes you feel amazing.  Many times we will say ” Oh,  it’s that teacher- they did it” but the teacher knows that they aligned with Spirit and then they aligned with the Spirit in you so you could see who you truly are. The teacher is the mirror- they show you who you are inside. You have the power of Grace inside you to help you reveal your heart- the teacher just shows you  how.

John proceeded to take the top 5 tattvas :Shiva, Shakti, Iccha, Jnana, Kriya and talk about how they relate to studentship.   He lined the tattvas up with the Mahabhutas or 5 elements- which we went over a bit yesterday. I will go over the attributes to each one in a little detail:

1. Shiva- sky- open, sensitive, humble

2. Shakti- earth- commitment, loyalty , trust, long term, steady

3. Iccha- water- always goes back to it’s source, goes down- humble, reflects, feels, adapts

4. Jnana- fire- burning to make a positive change, fire is greater than our fear

5. Kriya- Air- intelligence, quick, you see from all angles- even from outside the box

John took the five through the sensory organs in the tattva chart as well:

1. Space- hearing ( Shiva)

2. Earth – smell ( Shakti)

3. Water- taste ( Iccha)

4. Fire- sight ( Jnana)

5. Air – feeling/touch ( Kriya)

Studentship is about discipline. Discipline comes from th same root as disciple. I remember once John saying discipline is where you chose to place your heart. What are you a disciple to? Where do you place your heart?

Besides the 5 elements, there are things we as students should be doing. One of them is to have a deep meaning in your practice. Even when you don’t feel great or you don’t want to practice, you treat the studio as a temple, your mat as sacred space and you invoke meaning into your practice- you want to cultivate a relationship with Spirit so much that it holds a very deep meaning. Never get complacent, don’t lose the reason why we do the practice.

Also at the end of practice you should ask yourself what did I learn? What did I gain? You answers should tie back to Shiva/Shakti , Chit/Ananda. Did you gain awareness for example- that would be chit. Did you gain a virtue- courage, peace? – that would be Ananda. You may experience both but maybe just one. For example you didn’t gain knowledge but you had fun- you feel happier inside- that is Ananda.

In the afternoon we went over the Yamas and Niyamas and tieing them to the elements and the top 5 tattvas. Wow- it was cool. I am going to out myself here by saying that I have never been big on the Yoga Sutras- Classical Yoga imposition is how I have always thought about it. It has never really related to my experience of Anusara yoga or how I relate to my practice in general. It seems to be a text that has become prevalent through the default of early translation and dissemination. Ok- enough ranting- I am tired.

Ok. The Tattvas are sequential and cumulative just like the 5 Universal principles. You start from the first one- ie Open to Grace- and then you proceed to the next, never losing the first one, etc etc. John proposed that the Yamas and Niyamas are the same. ( For those of you not familiar with the Yamas and Niyamas they are yoga ethics with the Yamas being external observances and the Niyamas being internal observances…)

This is how he described the Ethics of Anusara Yoga:

1. Ahimsa- sky- seeing Shiva/Shakti in each other- if you see god in everyone would you act unethically in the first place? Would you cause harm?

2. Satya- earth- truthfulness, deep trust, integrity, honesty

3. Asteya- water- water doesn’t grab, it flows around. It doesn’t take. Don’t take create for others ideas etc.

4. Bramacharya- fire- proper sensual/sexual relations- a balance in relationship, one sees clearly the Spirit in another

5. Aparigraha- air- simplicity of living, a lightness that is unburdened, don’t take so much another suffers or the earth suffers


1. Saucha- sky- purity , clarity- a sky with no clouds, purification of the heart and mind

2. Santosha- earth- contentment, your are satisfied, you are still at the deepest core but not complacent

3. Tapas- fire- burning aspiration for connection with the divine

4. Svadhaya- air- study of yourself, study of texts, intelligence that sees all sides

5. Ishvara pranidhara- water- from you heart you flow your offerings out to God.

Ok here is the kicker- just like UPA’s if you do Open to Grace and Organic Energy you basically get it done- you remember your source and you offer out- Well if you do the first Yama and last Niyama you get it all done too. If you see shiva-shakti in everyone ( Ahimsa) and you make your efforts an offering to Spirit from your heart ( Ishvara pranidhana) you encompass everything.  As John summarized- you see it and then you do it. Talk about synthesis! The Yamas and Niyamas never looked so good in my tantric eyes….


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