Friday, June 19, 2009

Yoga Chemistry

I've been delinquent in posting recently due to a flurry of life events, including a training with Rod Stryker. He teaches a modern expression of Tantric yoga called ParaYoga, synthesized from his deep studies with Yogiraj Mani Finger and Pandit Tigunait.  I find him to be incredibly inspiring, both as a teacher and spiritual seeker.  He offered a wealth of new ideas and techniques in the training, some of which I hope to explore through this blog.

One set of concepts from the Tantric and Ayurvedic tradition that I find particularly intriguing are the three vital essences: Prana, Tejas and Ojas.  They are described as the spiritual energies of air, fire and water.  Success yoga practice can be viewed as a balanced combustion reaction.  This can get complicated quickly.  One way I think about it:  Ojas is the fuel, Prana is the oxygen, and Tejas is the resulting flame. The yogis valued Tejas because it burns up ignorance, thus allowing the brilliance of our true self to shine through.  The Sun Salutation honors that inner radiance.

All three elements are necessary for balanced spiritual growth.  We overworked, overstimulated moderns tend to be low on Ojas, the vitality that nourishes and supports the functioning of body and mind.  (The Chinese equivalent is jing.)  It is the essence of food.  It is cultivated mainly through diet and herbs, though also through sleep, restorative postures, yoga nidra, loving and receiving love, and time spent in nature. 

I think most people have felt a sense of rejuvenation from spending time outdoors.  Walking through a quiet forest is a meal, of sorts.  From a Tantric viewpoint, this is not metaphorical.  We "feed" ourselves in many ways, not just through the mouth.  A simple picnic by the lake becomes a feast.  From this perspective, environmental degradation is not just a moral or aesthetic tragedy - we're losing a source of vitality that supports our deep well-being.

Gardeners - bon app├ętit!

PS - For more details, check out some excerpts from David Frawley on Google Books.

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