Hatha as a Tool for Self Discovery

We tend to identify with the body/mind because it is concrete, easily experienced and appears to be permanent, thus dependable, giving us a sense of security and control. Yoga teaches us that we are much more and that to center our lives around body/mind will be ultimately unfulfilling, often painful, leave us feeling incomplete and unhappy, missing love and peace. Hatha Yoga works with the body/mind to lead us beyond this identification to experience the Self, by attuning ourselves step by step to the more subtle aspects of our being.

Deepak Chopra describes the body’s impermanence by reminding us that “We replace 98% of our atoms in one year.” Like a river, we appear to be — but never are — the same. Otherwise, how would neck pain, ulcers or allergies remain? In exploration of that mystery, ancient yogis discovered the underlying force that animates and structures the body. That force is called prana. The flow of prana gives life to every atom and the patterns of this flow determine physical form – if the flow of prana remains unchanged, so does the form it creates. Those yogis then traced this pattern of prana to its source – the mind. The thoughts and feelings that predominate in the mental level determine the flow of prana that structures the body.

Present day examples of that pattern are easy to find. Medical studies show that people who express a lot of hostility and anger outwardly, have a higher rate of heart disease. People who tend to chronically repress anger have a higher rate of cancer. Dean Ornish’s newest book, “Survival and Healing” documents the connection between loving relationships and healing.

Our understanding of how the mind works, while more scientifically accountable, supports those ancient yogic theories. It is estimated that 95% of our thoughts are the same as what we’ve had before. Thus, set ways of perceiving ourselves, the world, and reacting to each other, lead to characteristics which develop into habits then into a lifestyle that determines our destiny. What remains truly profound, and even crucial in our quick-paced world, are the ways in which yoga teaches us to use that information. The rich tradition of yoga provides specific tools to observe, utilize, and overcome those patterns to assure “an easeful body, a peaceful mind, and a useful life”.

In Hatha practice, we attempt to move and think about our movements in ways outside of our patterned thinking and moving. We practice being and acting free of our conditioning by moving with complete, non-judgmental awareness and in loving response to the capacity of the body in this moment only. A mind that is focused, quiet and open can truly listen to the body as it is without interjecting what it should be. It is this accepting awareness that liberates us from egoism and allows the mind to begin to be guided by the deepest part of our being, the Self or Spiritual Consciousness. Thus we use the body/mind to become less identified with it, and ultimately free of it’s patterning or conditioning.

Then our mental level can begin to be influenced by the wisdom and compassion of our Spiritual Nature. As our thoughts become healthier, the pranic level also will change, flow more fully, and manifest as healing for the harm caused by unhealthy habits of the past. In this way, our Hatha practice becomes a means to contact the Spiritual level and allow it’s light and energy to express through all the grosser levels of our being, recreating this body/mind in the image of our Divinity.

With a conditioned body/mind, it is difficult to rise above our patterned behaviors and thinking, our long time identity, our ways of defining ourselves. Our Hatha Yoga practice very consciously trains us to look and listen deeply within ourselves and to begin to align the body/mind with that consciousness. This process comes over time, with steady effort, patience and non-attachment. With even a little effort to practice Hatha Yoga regularly, you will begin to experience your natural compassion and wisdom. That little effort will be felt in big ways when these qualities spill over into your daily life.

Swami Ramananda Signature

2016-10-15T01:45:57+00:00 June 26th, 2014|Comments Off on Hatha as a Tool for Self Discovery

An original poem entitled “usually”


usually it’s the head
clouded with conjecture
that answers my door
that wants to be captain
and drags around like a ball and chain
worries over a future that never comes

that is stuck like a boat run aground
telling again and again the same old story

by grace or by gift
by practice or prayer
the heart breaks free of that mental anchor
sails to the inner sun
and sinks happily in a quiet ocean of knowing

then gives birth to unreasonable songs of joy
that pacify even the stormiest waters

doubt and self-importance gone
lost at sea
out of nowhere I know a peach appears

Swami Ramananda Signature

2016-10-15T01:45:57+00:00 June 24th, 2014|Comments Off on An original poem entitled “usually”

Dr. Dean Ornish at the IYI

Dr. Dean Ornish made such an inspiring presentation at the Institute on June 7th, describing and documenting how a Yogic lifestyle can heal or even reverse the effects of chronic illness.  He is able to give in striking detail the scientific facts that make evident that Yoga, meditation, diet and group support create dramatic health benefits.

He further showed how such lifestyle changes can be supported by enjoying the wellness benefits that arise quickly when his program is followed, instead of using fear of disease as motivation,

It was interesting to hear Dr Ornish share his own story and how Sri Swami Satchidananda influenced him personally and inspired his work.  Dr Ornish made clear that the essential teachings of Sri Swamiji  form the foundation for his groundbreaking research.

With Medicare now reimbursing for his program in sustainable ways, the teachings and practices that make up the Yogic lifestyle are being offered in a growing number of places.  Clearly, Dr Ornish is on the forefront of a huge paradigm shift in western medical care, from a disease based, to a wellness based system.

Here are some of the other responses to Dr Ornish’s presentation from those attending.

“Dean Ornish’s presentation at the IY Institute in SF was deeply moving. Acknowledging Sri Guruduv for inspiration and guidance, Dr. Ornish shared with us that after 16 years of review his Spectrum Program – the first scientifically proven program to reverse heart disease without drugs or surgery – is now fully covered by Medicare. This is good news not only for our medical system but also for those of us offering therapeutic yoga as stress management.  Thank you, Dr. Ornish for your continuing contributions to the world.”

Jaymie Meyer
“Dean Ornish’s lecture made me understand how important and crucial his work has been: He was able to prove scientifically that conditions like heart disease and cancer could be positively influenced by adapting a yogic life-style. He gave a new level of credibility to the ancient health system of yoga, especially in times when yoga is mainly known as a form of exercise. As a yoga teacher and therapist I feel incredibly empowered, understanding how valuable my work is. I now feel confident that the profession of yoga therapy will be a major component of the future health care system.”

Claudia Huddleston

2016-10-15T01:45:57+00:00 June 20th, 2014|Comments Off on Dr. Dean Ornish at the IYI


“Do not do something if you know that by doing it you are going to disturb your peace. Maintaining your peace is more important. But at the same time, give as much as you can. Even if you get hurt, it doesn’t matter. Give. Because by giving you never lose. There is a joy in thinking of others first. You will have more peace and joy in doing that.”
~Swami Satchidananda, The Golden Present

2014-06-19T07:31:14+00:00 June 19th, 2014|Comments Off on Give