My latest book is now available on Amazon! It’s a novel way to navigate the ageing process, and uses story to spread the teachings of yoga.
Buy your copy of ‘Home from OM – the last yoga retreat’ now! They’re selling fast…
Click on the cover to purchase.
‘Home from OM’ employs the ancient yoga technique of story-telling to put across spiritual teachings, the infinite wisdom. Following the progress of ten occupants of a residential home, we engage with their lives and their pasts. Can living in a yoga community bring grace and fulfillment to their last years? Could this be a way for the elderly to progress instead of diminish? Or will new challenges emerge from the experiment? Carole Kerton has been teaching yoga for forty-one years. She believes in using humour and anecdotes to facilitate learning. Whilst yoga supports all age groups, the elderly in Carole’s classes thrive on their practice.
Brahman is the friend and the refuge of all…
The Self is hidden in the heart of all creatures..
If the truth of these scriptures are meditated upon by a man in the highest degree devoted to God, and to his Guru as to his God, they will shine forth. They will shine forth indeed!
.That brings us to the end of our study of the upanishads. When you train as a yoga teacher, you immerse yourself in three great works, ‘The Bhagavad Gita’, ‘Patanjali’s Sutras’, and ‘The Upanishads’. The ancient teachings guide our steps.
Isha upanishad completes with: ” Let my life now merge in the all-pervading life. Ashes are my body’s end. OM…O mind, remember Brahman. O mind remember thy past deeds. Remember Brahman. Remember thy past deeds.”
And Kena commences in a way to remind us again: “The power behind every activity of nature and of man is the power of Brahman. To realise this truth is to be immortal.”
Yoga is NOT a religion. Yoga is a way of life, built on truth and ethical beliefs. All the teachings lead us to an understanding of goodness, of God, or Brahman, or the Supreme being. I refer back to Patanjali’s Eight Limbs. The second one, the Niyamas or ‘Do’s’ contains Ishwara Pranidhana – Awareness of forces greater than oneself.
As a mother, you take on the dharma of motherhood. It is your responsibility to care for and nurture your children. As a grandmother, you take on the dharma of caring for your grandchildren, and filling in the spaces where you are needed. As a teacher, you take on the dharma of caring for your students. As you get older, you begin to question more deeply the philosophical questions of life and immortality. Respect, courtesy and good old-fashioned niceness is required for all generations to grow, learn, harmonise and move forward in love.
Student yoga teachers study three great works, ‘The Bhagavad Gita’, Patanjali’s Sutras and ‘The Upanishads’.
Upanishad means to ‘sit at the feet of the Master’. This refers to the fact that yogic teaching was passed from Guru (teacher) to chela (student). The Upanishads are like our fables. You need to read them with your heart, rather than your mind. They all contain a moral.
The Upanishads are the philosophical part of the Vedas. Neither dogma nor theology, these meditations concern direct, overwhelming religious experience in the midst of life, and record insights into eternal truths. They are unified by their common search for the true nature of Reality, and in the course of this search afford glimpses into supreme states of the soul.
In the days to come, we’ll explore twelve of these Upanishads.
So the first of the Eight Limbs of Yoga is the YAMAS or ‘Don’ts’:
BRAMACHARYA, non-misuse of energy
The second of the Eight Limbs of Yoga is the NIYAMAS or ‘Do’s:
ISHWARA PRANIDHANA, recognising that there are higher energies
If children were brought up to REALLY understand these five Don’ts and five Do’s, the world would change forever. If adults lived by these five Don’ts and Do’s, children would REALLY understand them.
The last of the Niyamas, the ‘do’s’ is ISHWARA PRANIDHANA. This is about leading a good spiritual life. It is about seeing the good or the God in everyone and everything. It is walking in beauty, walking in grace, walking in goodness. Those people who work with angels and spirit guides, those of us who recognise a Higher Being, or Brahman, understand that there are energies beyond our world. This is ishwara Pranidhana.
The fourth of the ‘do’s’ or observances is SWADHYAYA, self-study. This is where you become a little detective! You work with self-awareness, watching how different foods affect your health, watching how different yoga practices affect your sense of well-being, and watching your behaviour to yourself and to others. This Niyama wakens you up to caring about your own development, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
However, it doesn’t stop there. It also reminds you to study the yoga philosophy and the great teachings like the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. We are always learning and all growth begins with ourselves, and our desire to self-improve.
The second of the EIGHT LIMBS of YOGA is the NIYAMAS. These are the observances, the things that we should do to live a fulfilling, ethical life. The first of the Niyamas is SAUCHA, cleanliness. In the western world, we are very clean on the outside i.e showering, washing our clothes, hoovering our floors, but generally we are less concerned with the inside. Practises such as ‘neti’ or nasal cleansing are used by yogis. Tongue scraping is another favourite, and does really prevent some colds and infections. Eating nutritious, carefully chosen foods keeps our digestive tract clean and healthy. Many people nowadays are in to detox, which is helpful, focussing the mind an keeping the insides clean. Meditation is a powerful tool, used by all yogis, to clear and cleanse the mind. Yoga practice itself cleanses the energy channels and the aura.
There’s a lot to think about with this Niyama. We have been noticing the increase in rubbish thrown out of cars on the motorway. This is irresponsible and dirty. It goes against the Niyama, saucha. It is just as important to keep our neighbourhoods, our countries, our planet clean, as it is to keep ourselves clean! Dirt clutters the mind…