Yoga pathways part 3

    Bhakti Yoga – the yoga of devotion.  Finding inner stillness by transforming our basic nature, making love pure, transcendental and focused,  providing a  direction for the emotions.  Bhakti Yoga is a very powerful            tool for the creation and expression of love without boundaries - universal love.  The faculties of the heart are cultivated by following the yogic path of Bhakti. The process sounds simple - the practices include  kirtan     (joyful led chanting usually in Sanskrit); mantra; cultivation of an attitude of love (bhava) and so on.  But of course it's not easy as it requires a transformation of our basic personality. I find it comforting that  we can           transform our personal difficulties by practice.  That's why it's called practice of course because we're not perfect!  

          Have a look at a new FB page www,  Lots of photos and teachings from Satyananda gurus.

      Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

         The mind becomes clear and serene when the qualities of the heart are cultivated: friendliness towards the joyful, compassion towards the suffering, happiness towards the pure and impartiality towards the impure"

          The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Chapter 1 verse 33


              The Bhagavad Gita  has some of the most beautiful expressions of bhakti in classical texts.  For example:

             “He who works for me, who loves me, whose End Supreme I am, free from attachment to all things, and with love for all creation, he in truth comes to me.”

              Bhagavad Gita, chap. 11


            “Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge.”

              Swami Sivananda


              And here's an extract from "How does it feel to be a man?"  by the Sufi poet Hafiz, full of expressions of divine love:

              My dear, 

              A better question for Hafiz, 

    Would have been

    "How does it feel to be a heart?"

    For all I know is Love,

    And I find my heart Infinite and Everywhere


    Send me some of your favourites by email and I'll add them to this blog






    Scottish Satyananda Yoga Retreat May 2014


    We are delighted to present a residential weekend retreat

    Yoga of the Heart


    Swami Satyaprakash Saraswati

    “Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the Heart,……

    Realize the Self, Hidden in the Heart, and cut asunder

    The knot of ignorance here and now.”  (Mundaka Upanishad)

    Friday 9th – Sunday 11th May 2014

    Gillis Centre, Edinburgh

    Swami is a very popular teacher, so early booking is advised. The programme is suitable for practitioners with at least two years’ experience of yoga practice, who wish to delve a little deeper.

    Cost: £185 (£65 deposit and two instalments of £60)

    Application forms and further details from: Carol Godridge or Tel. 01848 200681

    Yoga pathways part 2

    • Hatha Yoga – probably the main form known in the West.  Sometimes it may seem that it comprises only vigorous bendy asanas.  I've even had people say worriedly to me that they can't possibly do yoga as they are too stiff.  Fortunately I can usually offer an alternative view. 

    "In The Yoga Upanishads hatha yoga is described as a means of attaining physical and mental purification and balance.  Although hatha yoga is the most commonly known yoga, there is a great misconception about its meaning. Hatha is generally translated as "force" whereas in the yogic literature the word hatha is a combination of two mantras, ham and tham, which correspond to pingala and ida nadis repectively.  So the term hatha yoga means the yoga through which these two forces are balanced.  Ida nadi is one of the three major pranic (energetic) channels within the body and represents the mental force.  Pingala nadi represents the solar, vital energy which manifests in the physical body.  According to this description, hatha yoga is the yoga of channellling the pranas in the body."

    Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati  - from "Yoga Darshan - Vision of the Yoga Upanishads".

    "Hatha yoga concerns two important and vital systems in the physical body – the solar and lunar forces.  In tantra and in hatha yoga these are known as ida and pingala, representing the mental force and the pranic force.  In the body these forces interact with one another, respectively controlling, guiding and directing the senses of action and of knowledge (shakti and shiva)”.

    Swami Satyananda Saraswati

     In Western physiology could it be that pingala nadi represents the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system;  and ida nadi corresponds to the parasympathetic system or relaxation response?  Most busy and/or stressed  people have an excess of adrenaline.  So the yoga through which these two these two forces are balanced does seem very relevant here and an excellent introduction to yoga practices.



    Yoga pathways part 1

    Yoga is an experience, a state of being with potential for action.  It can be translated literally as union, a coming together of body, mind and spirit to a point of balance.  English words such as “yoke” are derived from the same root word. When we are “doing” Yoga we are actually practising some form of technique to bring us to this state of union.  So Yoga is both the aim and the pathway.

    Anna Yoga – the yoga of awareness of what we eat and drink and its effect on our inner balance, physical and mental – hyped up, torpid or balanced.  Linked to Ayurveda, the ancient science of healing that is the partner of Yoga.

    Jnana (pronounced gyana or like the Spanish ñ)the yoga of Self - enquiry – what life is about, what death means; what the human being is and the nature of the Ultimate Reality; the Self as pure consciousness.  Consider the soaring beauty in the Upanishads, some dating back 3000 years:

    “Smaller than the smallest particle of an atom, and yet more vast than the whole expanse of space, this Self resides in the heart of all beings.  …….One who meditates on that Self which is formless in the midst of all forms, eternal in the midst of the momentary, which is everywhere at once and great beyond compare- such a one will know that Self and finally cease all grieving.”

    Katha Upanishad Part 1 (2)

    To be continued......

    Adventure in India - The World Yoga Convention

    Ganga Darshan (image from www.

    In October 2013 I was one of a group of yoga enthusiasts- mainly, but not all, yoga teachers - who travelled from the UK to India for a double celebration - the World Yoga Convention, held every 20 years, and the Golden Jubilee of the setting up by Swami Satyananda of the Bihar School of Yoga.  Four of us from Scotland joined the UK group led by Swami Satyaprakash Saraswati, who is based in Birmingham.  The theme of the Convention was summed up as "Immersion in Yoga - serious, sincere and committed".  I'd never been to Ganga Darshan, the Bihar School of Yoga ashram situated just outside Munger, but apparently it had grown substantially in the last ten years.  Security was tight and rules such as no mobiles, no cameras, not being allowed out of the ashram except at permitted times were strictly enforced.  The need for this came home to me when we heard reports, on the final day, of bombs going off in Patna, the capital of Bihar state.  Something to do with elections I think.

    The Convention was huge: 22, 000 delegates from all areas of India and a substantial number of overseas delegates heard 5 days of academic presentations focusing on all aspects of yoga, especially some very interesting scientific studies on the benefits of yoga practice.  The speakers came frrom many different traditions of Yoga. Every session was preceded by a kirtan;  mantra meditation as song, led in a call-and-response way so thousands of voices were raised in chant. It almost always resulted in dancing and clapping as well as chanting!   Swami Niranjanananda presided over every session and did most of the translating, either from English to Hindi or vice versa. There were lunchtime workshops too but unfortunately for one reason or another I didn't manage to get to any so I can't report on those.  The Golden Jubilee was celebrated in parallel, with a large fire ceremony (havan) burning all day accompanied by deep-voiced pandits chanting in Sanskrit.  There were all-day kirtans by various national groups, evening entertainment programmes and a specially commissioned DVD of the life of Swami Satyananda.  One of the highlights for me was called the Kundalini Awakening Centre or KAC for short.  It was a short film in 5D (don't ask!) made by the sannyasins, with great effects illustrating the five senses and the awakening of the primal energy of kundalini, ascending up the spine- brilliant graphics!  

    As is traditional at Satyananda gatherings we also participated to some extent in the life of the ashram, contributing karma yoga for example in the kitchen, or cleaning bathrooms.  Cleaning duty was 5-6 am; on the first morning I hadn't quite realised this but I did wonder why there were so many people in the shower area as I tried to complete my morning ablutions.  Someone kindly explained so I then knew I should be working, not showering at my leisure.  Karma yoga takes priority so when we were summoned to the kitchen  area to help prepare vegetables we just had to drop all other plans.  

    The sannyasins based at the ashram had obviously been working very hard, under the direction of Swami Niranjanananda, because BSY published new or revised editions of 350 books (!)  We were allowed to choose as many as we wanted, given away to us as prasad - gifts - so my luggage coming home was very heavy.  Actually I had to post most of them back and they've just arrived, so I'll have a lot of reading to do.