Three Pillars of Yoga By Swami Krishnapremananda

This short article draws from three pillars of Yoga that are directly pertinent to the present uncertain and changing times.

Firstly, yoga practice holds the promise of many things, but key amongst them at present is that of a refuge; finding some quality time and space daily in which we can gain some space from current affairs, family issues and responsibilities. Even a little time spent on the yoga mat and cushion can put us in touch with this sense of refuge. For example, by exploring yogic postures which bring the body back into alignment, harmonising our internal energy pathways; simple pranayama practices which can calm and energise our system, or simply bring us back home to the present moment through breath awareness; meditation and chanting bring more spaciousness to the mind, thereby releasing the heart; moments or times of relaxation/ Yoga Nidra offer the body and mind the blessing of deeply letting go. The problems of life do not just magically disappear, but our capacity to handle them is enhanced through releasing into such a refuge each day through simple yoga practice. 

As the Bhagavad Gita says – ‘No effort is ever lost and even a little practice can protect us from fear’ (2:40)

A second pillar is that of gratitude. We will always have ideas for how life can be improved. Yet consciously cultivating a sense of gratitude for what we have – time in nature, simple gifts of everyday life, the food on our plate and so on – helps to soften the heart and lift our spirits. The glass is seen as half full. We are often programmed to have a negativity bias, which puts more weight on what we do not have, or our problems in life. Gratitude counteracts this, shifting our perspective, and reminding us of the maybe small yet valuable blessings we already have. 

Alongside the previous two, the third pillar is simply the willingness to be of service in whatever small or practical way to those around us. Service, especially if offered selflessly (or as close to this as we can), connects us to the Oneness of Life, whether we know it or not. This connection is why we often feel uplifted through our intention to give. Whatever our present situation, can we offer something constructive through our words, our actions, our silence, or simply our centred presence?  Yes, we may forget and ‘fall down’ many times, yet this is not a problem if we are willing to stand up again, learning from experience, and being available in the service of life.  

Using our practice to find daily refuge, being open to gratitude for what we have, and the willingness to be of service to the situation we are in. These three pillars of yoga practice, amongst others, are readily available to us as we continue to navigate our way through the current uncertain waters.  

Getting what I want in life

Is this not the purpose of our life? Is this not what we have been educated for, and what modern marketing has led us to believe? 

Yet, ‘getting what you want is vastly over sold’, to quote Michael Singer, a wonderful contemporary yogi, teacher, and author. We are promised so much in life. In marketing and politics, for example, we are assured that if we just work hard enough, try hard enough, have enough money or resources, then we will be eternally happy. Even in our yoga practice we have the same aspiration … but is getting what I want the key purpose of my life? 

Please help us grow Yoga…..

A post by Narada / Tony Sugden

‘Please help us grow Yoga in this Land of Ours’ – An appeal
from our Zambian Yoga Group.

We have lost the use of our Yoga Hall.
Those of you who read my previous post (Mandala branch in Africa) know that I established a Yoga group in Eastern Province, Zambia. Well the group is thriving; Swamiji refers to them as ‘our African Branch’. But the Lodge where they worked, and where we used to do our Yoga, is in great difficulty because of the lack of visitors due to Covid, so not only have my friends lost their meagre income, but they have lost the use of the hall where we practised.

Bhagavad Gita – the Yoga of Right Action

by Swami Nishchalananda

(Note: this article is also given in Swamiji’s book ‘The Edge of Infinity’ (chapter 7), published by Mandala Yoga Ashram).

The Bhagavad Gita (lit., the ‘Song of the Divine’) is a superb classical Sanskrit text on the practical and mystical teachings of Yoga. It is a scripture on Brahma Vidya (the ‘Science of Consciousness’), showing us how Yoga can be lived moment to moment in daily life and how our actions can be a way to transcendence. 

Two Faces of Clarity

A Post by Narada (Tony Sugden)

There have been times in my life, when I have become aware that we are all made of the same stuff. Times when I know we are sisters and brothers, not by believing that to be true, but by experiencing the essence of such a truth. It’s a high truth, something profound, that brings reverence. Such vision is often related to meditation, or inward comprehension. It’s a vision which has been granted by that which gives Life. In the Yoga world, and some religions, it’s called Grace.  A wisdom beyond intellect, but yet innate in my ‘greater’ self.

There have also been times in my life, of being with people where we work towards a better way of relating to each other, of understanding each other’s fears, aggressions, anger, grief. It demands self-honesty. When I commit to exploring my inner feelings towards others, I open up a chain of feelings and associated thoughts which can open up lines of communication in myself that go way way back in my history. That in turn usually sheds light on a now redundant mechanism of protection against harm, which before was a nameless monster in the dark.

THE SUN BEHIND THE SUN

A Post by Michael McCann (Spandan)

As the One Sun illumines the whole world, so does the in-dweller illumine the whole body-mind field” 

Bhagavad Gita

In the language of symbols, the sun is the universal symbol of spiritual light. In some Indian teachings, there is reference to “the sun behind the sun”. This is an immeasurably greater sun, concealed in dazzling darkness, “behind the sun”. 

Lighting the Inner Bealtaine Fire

by Guest Author Michael McCann (Spandan)….

…. a long-time regular visitor to the ashram and resident in Ireland.

May, the month of Bealtaine, surely the loveliest of the year, with all its promise and budding beauty. Bealtaine, an ancient Celtic fertility festival, traditionally celebrated in Ireland from the most ancient times, and held on the first of May, half-way between the Spring equinox and the Summer Solstice. This is known as a ‘sandhya’, a liminal, in-between time, auspicious for Yoga practice.

Mandala Yoga Ashram gets a Branch in Africa

I’m Tony, recently given the name Narada by Swami Nishchalananda. The guy at the back in the green t-shirt in the pic above. Before I came to live in the ashram, I’d made contact with the delightful people who work at Tikondane Lodge, near Katete in Eastern Province, and founded a charity to raise funds for special school education for Ketty, a young deaf girl. This is a part of the world where people have very little indeed. But they have big hearts, and it’s a sharing culture. They’re my kind of people.

The Essential nature of ‘I’

What is this ‘I’ with which we so identify and which we spend our entire life-time feeding, pampering, protecting and re-producing? What is this ‘I’ that we fear for after death? Will the ‘I’ be extinguished or will something survive?

For thousands of years, yogis, sages and seers, as well as the yogic texts, have clearly stated that there is just one ‘I’ – behind every action, every thought, every feeling in our lives. This is the Conscious Presence in each moment. This ‘I’ expresses itself at different levels of ego-identification, which we will describe in the following paragraphs. Though they define our moment to moment experience, these ego states are ultimately unreal. We can call these ego-levels of I, the ‘me’.