‘Home from OM – the last yoga retreat’

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.

mumyoga

‘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.

My Yoga Journey

I came into this life with yoga beside me.

Sat in meditation at the age of three.

I was given asthma to focus my mind on my breath.

Always understood that there was no end in death.

 

Met my teacher at just the right time –

Found her teaching and her philosophy sublime.

Then I practised and I taught and I grew,

So much fascinating knowledge to pursue.

 

Each student had a tale to tell

Of how yoga had in some way made them well.

I have never doubted my path,

Nor finished honing my craft.

 

And then came the call to teach teachers, blessed day!

So many eager minds to guide on their way.

To see the groups bond gladdens my heart.

Each one with fresh insights to impart.

 

I love my student teachers and hope to plant seeds.

To nourish their soil and help eradicate life’s weeds.

And then, when they’ve blossomed, passed the course and flown,

I know they’re busy with cultivation of their own.

 

And when we meet up, hug, share and talk,

I know from their challenge they do not baulk,

But push on, with yoga flag unfurled,

Passing on Patanjali’s wisdom to the world.

 

I know my mission and smile with delight,

As the snowball grows ever in might.

It gathers speed and size and on and on

Till the world is changed – we have begun!

CAROLE KERTON.

Twenty-five years

Yogis split their lives into four sections. They believe that the first twenty-five years are for education; the second twenty-five years are for being a house-holder and for raising a family; the third twenty-five years are for teaching; then the last twenty-five years are when you become a hermit. This last period of time is for your own spiritual development.

Yoga is often described as a journey of Self discovery. You see this journey explained and illuminated when you study Patanjali’s Eight Limbs. (Please refer to previous posts.)

Reviewing life’s lessons

Once you’ve studied the yogic philosophies such as the Gita, Patanjali’s Sutra’s and the Upanishads, it is useful to review your life and see what you have learned along the way.

So what was I learning in my teenage years to equip me to become a yoga teacher and, finally, the chairman of a yoga society? I learnt about the complicated games that people play. I learnt that people may be beautiful on the outside, but not on the inside. I learnt to use and to appreciate humour. And I found about the images that people put out into the world. Anyone meeting my family for the first time may well have thought of us as successful and harmonious. We were all good actors in our own way. I look back and count my blessings that we always had animals. I believe they kept us grounded and constantly in touch with unconditional love. We all loved animals. This was perhaps the only constant that the four in my family shared.

As a teenager, I experimented with a more noisy version of myself. I was intent on being heard. I also had my first experience of deja-vu. It was on a visit to Switzerland that I visited Chateau Chillon. Suddenly, in my head, there was the sound of battle. I was a young lad of about twelve, dirty and skinny but alive with a mission. I was running up the steps to do my master’s bidding…The past-life flash was fleeting and vivid, but I knew it to be real. I realise now that along with this noisy, teenage version of myself, my Inner Spirit was growing and developing too.

Brahman is the friend and the refuge

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!

OM…Peace-peace-peace

Svetasvarara Upanishad.

.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 to Kena upanishad

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.

The Upanishads

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.

Chapter 16

The start of Chapter 16 in the Gita descibes the difference between the man who is born with divine tendencies, and the man who is born with demonic tendencies: ‘A man who is born with tendencies towards the Divine is fearless and pure in heart. He perseveres in that path to union with Brahman which the scriptures and his teacher have taught him. He is charitable. He can control his passions. He studies the scriptures regularly, and obeys their directions.He practises spiritual disciplines. He is straightforward, truthful and of an even temper. He harms no one. He renounces the things of the world. He has a tranquil mind and an unmalicious tongue. He is compassionate toward all. He is not greedy. He is gentle and modest. he abstains from useless activity. he has faith in the strength of his higher nature. He can forgive and endure. He is clean in thought and act. He is free from hatred and pride. Such qualities are his birthright.’

See how this description overlaps with the teachings of Patanjali in the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Krishna continues

‘Know this, O Prince: of things created all are come forth from the seeming union of Field and Knower, Prakriti (matter) with Brahman. Who sees his Lord within every creature, deathlessly dwelling amidst the mortal: that man sees truly. Thus ever aware of the Omnipresent always about him, he offers no outrage to his own Atman, hides the face of God beneath ego no longer: therefore he reaches that bliss which is highest.’

The bliss that Krishna refers to here is Samadhi, the eighth limb of yoga. These words are meant to be read out loud. The Gita would have been enacted by travelling groups, and passed down by teacher to student.

Krishna says: ‘By the single sun this whole world is illumined: by its one Knower the Field is illumined. Who thus perceives with the eye of wisdom in what manner the Field is distinct from its Knower, how men are made free from the toils of Prakriti: his aim is accomplished, he enters the Highest.’

And so, by clever rhetoric and repetition, we understand the difference between the physical world and the spiritual world. We understand that Brahman is the Supreme Being, and that Atman is the divine spark within each and every one of us.

The Yoga of Devotion

Krishna tells us, ‘A man should not hate any living creature. Let him be friendly and compassionate to all. He must free himself from the delusion of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. He must accept pleasure and pain with equal tranquillity. He must be forgiving, ever-contented, self-controlled, united constantly with me in his meditation. His resolve must be unshakeable. He must be dedicated to me in intellect and in mind. Such a devotee is dear to me. He neither molests his fellow men, nor allows himself to become disturbed by the world. He is no longer swayed by joy and envy, anxiety and fear. Therefore he is dear to me. He is pure, and independent of the body’s desire. he is able to deal with the unexpected: prepared for everything, unperturbed by anything. He is neither vain nor anxious about the results of his actions. Such a devotee is dear to me.’

This illustrates so well the detachment that we talk about in yoga. How wonderful to have no concern about the results of your actions! Because you lead a yogic way of life, because you walk in goodness, because you trust, worries of outcomes no longer concern you.

And there, in the first line, is the reference to the first rule of yoga – AHIMSA, non-violence.