Leture by Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda (Swamiji)
Perth, Australia 2004
Adoration to all divine incarnation on this globe. Salutation to the Cosmic Light, Lord of our hearts, omniscient and omnipresent. Merciful Lord, bless us with good health, a harmonious, happy and long life. Bless us with mutual understanding. Let your divine Mercy shower upon us as nectar of wisdom leading us towards immortality. OM Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.
Today I will tell you about some of my own experiences of teaching and practising of Yoga. I will give you some first-hand information.
The Yoga-system we practice is called Yoga in Daily Life. What brought me to call it a "system"? In this lies the success for our practice.
I've been travelling around the world since 1970, my permanent residence, at least on paper, is Austria. Why did I choose Austria? Because I had many invitations from the previous communist countries to teach Yoga. And these countries are near to the Austrian border; as well Austria is a beautiful country and people.
When I first began to teach, people told me they were only interested in Hatha Yoga. In India Hatha Yoga means Shat Karma or purification techniques. This entails every day practicing Neti, Kunjal Kriya, Nauli, Tratak, and Kapala Bhati. So, I told them: Ok. We will begin with Yoga class at 5.30 in the morning. Then nobody was interested. They said a Yoga class should be in the evening. For me this was like saying: let's take breakfast in the evening. Eventually it came out that people meant Asanas and Pranayam, not the original Hatha Yoga purification techniques.
Many Yoga schools dive into and practice only the higher techniques like head-stands. There is no systematic development, and in this way many people damaged their health instead of improving it. The common opinion is that Yoga means upside down and contortionist-like postures. This is not true.
So I consulted doctors and physiotherapists, and decided to develop a system that begins with very simple and effective practices and gradually advances to the higher levels. And it is this systematic way of practicing that leads to our success. From elementary school to university we have to learn and practice systematically. A staged development has to take place in the brain, in the psyche, in the mind.
The more gradually and slowly you practice, the greater will be the effect. The more you strain your body, the less you will gain. The simplest exercise, practiced properyly, has an immense effect on your psychic development for the more slowly you move, the more you need and will develop psychic strength.
Let's put this into practice right now with an experiment: Take off your wrist watch. Raise your left hand and look into your left palm. Now close and open the fist about ten times. What do you feel? Nothing special. Now do the same very slowly. Close your fist and hold it closed for a while. Now open the palm. Do you feel the difference? Now close the fist again, and with the right hand hold your left wrist tightly. Slowly open your left palm. It will appear pale, because the blood flood has been blocked. Now slowly release the right hand, and what happens? The blood is flowing into the hand very intensively. Now repeat with the right hand. Your hand will feel warm, fresh blood, more oxygen, more energy is coming in. All tissues get new energy, blockades have been removed.
In the same way, practicing slowly, you gain the same effect. By practicing this way you will gain enormous mental power.
The same holds true for Pranayama. You shall use a pranayam-stick. It is a very useful tool, a support for your arm, you will not fall into sleep, you will easily sit straight, your arm is relaxed, back and stomach are relaxed, lungs are open and you will take in maximum oxygen, and when you practice mantra with your mala, your mala will not touch the floor.
Do Pranayama softly and slowly. It purifies your blood, purifies your Kapha. Concentrate more on Pranayama than on Asanas. It does not matter how advanced you are, maybe you are an acrobat, but for Yoga exercises you still need to take a step-by-step approach starting from the beginning. The more slowly you do the exercises the more mental strength you will gain. This way of practicing requires much self-control, patience, awareness and discipline.
It is the same way for eating. Your eating should be like drinking, and drinking like eating. This means you should chew your meal thoroughly until it becomes like liquid. And you shall drink so slowly, as if it were solid food.
Yoga is a science. If you neglect your exercises for ten days, you are a beginner again. It is very important to start slowly and proceed systematically and continuously. And the first and most important exercise is relaxation. For most people it is not so easy to relax. And then to learn correct breathing, slow and deep breathing.
After three years of systematic and frequent practise you will gain strength and trust in your body, and be able to control your muscles. Your practice will become like a Cosmic dance. Never hurry in Yoga. In Yoga there should be no challenge and no competition. Asanas are postures in which you remain for a longer time. Yoga is not gymnastics. In Sukha (bliss, happiness) Asanas, you shall feel comfortable in every posture.
Because many people do not have the strength and will power to practice slowly they have no success in Yoga and give up. The more slowly you practice the more benefit your will gain from your Yoga practice.
Yoga in Daily Life is a system to master your five bodies. Annamayakosha (physical), Pranamayakosha (pranic energy), Manomayakosha (mental), Vijnanamaya (wisdom) and Anandamayakosha (bliss). These five bodies influence our whole life, our entire being.
According to Patanjali there are steps or stages in one's Yoga practice: Asanas (postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawing of the senses from the external objects), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (complete realisation). To develop through these stages we have to develop our mind, our emotions, our hearts, and our knowledge. Therefore we go to Satsang, for we require continual inspiration and support. Satsang purifies our consciousness and inspires our mind.
Eating, drinking, working, speaking, whatever we do in 24 hours should be Yoga, the daily tasks in our lives should be practiced with yogic-awareness and love. Therefore I call it Yoga in Daily Life. Living life according to yogic principles throughout our daily lives. In this way you lead a life united with the Divine, a Divine life.