Surya Kriya: Discovering the Classical Roots of Yoga

At the Surya Kriya Program,  Toronto, July 2013

At the Surya Kriya Program, Toronto, July 6-7 2013

Over the first weekend of July, I attended a two-day yoga program/workshop organized by Isha Foundation.  I learned about this non-profit and non-religious yoga organization when I attended the Yoga Show in Toronto with 2 of my yoga friends a few months ago, and was attracted by the intensive teacher training program it offered to aspiring yogis/yoginis like me. 🙂  Therefore, I kept in touch with this foundation and learned that it was offering a program in Toronto, so of course I signed up for it!

Although I had no idea what kind of program I signed up for, I found the title “Surya Kriya” very mysterious and its name promising me further enlightenment of yoga.  I was super excited and thrilled to attend the workshop and didn’t mind the fact that I had to practise yoga on an empty stomach for both days.  Each day was 4 hours long of yoga practise.  As it turned out, I was in for a pleasant and new yoga experience!

Firstly, my perception of yoga has changed as a result of this unique learning experience.  I didn’t realize that the yoga I have been practising is actually a fusion of or modified versions of classical yoga poses.  For example, I’ve always done the Cat Stretch in 3 steps in my yoga studio.  Boy, was I in for a surprise, when I learned that the Cat Stretch can be stretched into 9 steps at this workshop!  It’s truly yoga in its purest classical form.  Lastly, I have learned that yoga should be part of my daily life and can be practised at home.  Prior to this workshop, I would schedule to go to my yoga classes 2-3 times a week, and practise yoga only at the studio.  From this workshop, I discovered that the most powerful yoga practise is when you can do it every day, which becomes daily routine like brushing teeth in the morning.

Now, I will share with you a few things that really stood out for me in the Surya Kriya Program, which has helped to deepen my understanding of yoga & practising it:

1. Yoga is not exercise.  It’s a body, mind and spirit experience, where we become whole with the universe.

~On our second day of the workshop, I felt this body/mind/spirit connection when we were asked as we practised our Surya Kriya routine, to visualize (mind) our better self (spirit) performing the poses perfectly, as we are doing it (body) simultaneously.  All 3 should always be active during yoga.

 

2. Yoga practise is internal cleansing.

 

3. Yoga is an enhancement of perceptiveness.

 

4. Practise yoga with devotion and reverence.

 

5. Wearing loose and comfortable cotton clothing is best.

 

6. There is no ego in yoga.

~Unlike the studio I go to for my yoga classes, this workshop is held in a huge room with no mirrors.  Sadhguru, the founder of Isha Foundation, explains that we need to be simple, back to the origins, when practising yoga.  We don’t need mirrors to watch ourselves to be the best or even use any props to help us achieve certain poses.  We simply let go of our ego, and listen to our inner self/voice, and try our best and do poses at our own pace or level.  We do not need to perfect a difficult pose right away.  It is ok to work towards it slowly.  It is only when we let go of our ego, we can find true inner peace or well-being, which is what yoga is all about in the first place.

 

Ultimately, I learned that I need to make Surya Kriya as part of my everyday life.  Surya Kriya is a 21 steps yoga routine that is required to be practised with devotion and reverence.  The definition of Surya Kriya is activating the energy of the sun within ourselves. (see here for more details: http://www.ishayoga.org/hata/teachertraining/surya-kriya/)  It needs to be practised twice a day for 40 days, and then once a day daily.  The idea is that after 40 days, it becomes a habit, which makes yoga practise so much more powerful and profound.  I am now in the process of making Surya Kriya become my daily routine, and will keep you posted on the impact it will have on me, when I’m ready. 🙂  Namaste!

Here are 3 quotes I love from Sadhguru: 1. "With proper practice of yoga , you create the right kind of chemistry where you are naturally peaceful, naturally joyous, naturally loving within you." 2. "You know everything about the world, but you do not know anything about yourself. This is a ridiculous way to live." 3. “How deeply you touch another life is how rich your life is.”

Here are 3 quotes I love from Sadhguru:
1. “With proper practice of yoga , you create the right kind of chemistry where you are naturally peaceful, naturally joyous, naturally loving within you.”
2. “You know everything about the world, but you do not know anything about yourself.
This is a ridiculous way to live.”
3. “How deeply you touch another life is how rich your life is.”

Feeling Inner Peace…

Taiwan Peace pic

This is one of my favourite quotes of all time.  It was introduced to me by my eternally cheerful, empathetic and optimistic yoga instructor Josie, who is known by all students to begin each class with a thoughtful and inspiring quote.  The quote really resonated with me during that particular yoga class, and when my daily life gets crazy hectic, I return to it.  It empowers and reminds me to stay calm, centered and joyful no matter what happens in my life.  I chose a photo that I took from my travel to Taiwan’s Alishan (Mount Ali) to match this quote.  A few years ago, I went to see the sunrise on Alishan and I have to say, it was one of the most breathtaking moments in my life, to be surrounded by such a gorgeous scenic view, tranquility and pure fresh air.  At that moment I felt so at peace with everything and myself.  Whenever I think of this quote, my mind immediately connects me back to this beautiful moment on Alishan.

I  hope you find inspiration and inner peace from this quote and scenic photo in your own daily life. Keep smiling!! 🙂

What do you do to find or keep inner peace?  Please share. 🙂

Thanks and Love, Violet

Mind Food: “Our body has the power to self-heal.”

The past week has been grueling from completing various deadlines at work, baking for a variety of events, to attending a few family celebrations (which I absolutely love).  I was literally rushing from one task or event to the next, with hardly any time to stop, breathe and think.  I feel as if I’ve been running on adrenaline for about a week now, and finally today my mentally and physically exhausted body told me to stop, think and listen to myself.  I’m reminded that I promised myself to focus on balancing my life, and right now my health and I am top priorities.  I was craving for some tranquility and relaxation, away from the hustle-bustle.  Without hesitation, I postponed an obligation because I realized that if I went there, I would simply exacerbate my exhaustion further.   Therefore, I escaped to one of my favourite places in the world: my regular go-to yoga studio.  It is a place where after a class, I feel rejuvenated, serene and balanced.

I’m happy I made the right decision to attend a yoga class today.  I met a fantastic instructor whom I have not taken a class with before, and found out why everyone raves about her.  She truly brings the term “yoga” to life.  A simple way to describe yoga is that it’s a union between body, mind and heart, and the continued practise of it brings  a sense of peace and well-being, and a feeling of being one with self, others and the environment.  This yoga instructor started our class with an “intention” (a promise we make to ourselves about what we intend to do, say, be etc. throughout our practise) which was that our own body has the capacity to self-heal.  Her intention for our class really resonated with me and I found it very thought-provoking, so I would like to share it with you here.  You don’t have to practise yoga to understand this message.  I believe it applies to everyone, whether you are beginning or already on your journey towards healthy and balanced living, in whichever way you choose to achieve this lifestyle.

My instructor said that we are conditioned and especially our mind to think that we need prescription drugs to heal, and that we can or cannot do certain things due to our age.  In other words, our mind limits the potential that is within us.  If we change the way we think, we can do anything and be able to broaden our horizon, which also includes the strong belief that our own body can heal itself naturally. Furthermore, we should let go of the fears, anger, self-hate, pain, and any other negative feelings and thoughts, bottled up inside us from past experiences and memories, and just focus on the present, opening up ourselves to the positivity and possibilities of life.

During class, I truly felt as if my body, mind and heart were one as I held the intention mindfully through every yoga pose.  Our body is indeed a powerful self-healing mechanism tied strongly to our mind.  You see, when I entered class, I felt weigh down by the past week’s grueling activities, hopeless towards the load of work waiting for me to be completed, and even restless.  However, at the end of class, my exhaustion and all the negative feelings and thoughts totally disappeared.  I felt re-energized and that I can accomplish anything to the best of my ability.  I just experienced that union of body, mind and heart:  As my mind rid itself of the “negative” energy, my heart was filled with self-belief and self-empowerment, and my body naturally felt more vibrant and strong.  That’s the power of positive thinking and self-healing!

Hope you find this mind food for thought meaningful and applicable for whatever stage you are at right now in your journey towards balanced living! 🙂

Namaste & Love, Violet

Power Within You