My trip to India to explore the yogic way of life
A few years back, I went to India to experience the yogic way of life. I lived at the Isha Yoga Center, with its graceful ashram setting amidst the sacred Velliangiri Mountains, for about 6 months. At this consecrated space, I learned Isha Yoga and completed 1750 hours of training. I was driven to learn this classical yoga because it maintained the sanctity of the ancient yogic tradition thousands of years old.
Yoga to experience bliss and higher states of consciousness
What is compelling to me about these ancient yoga practices is that they were transmitted to us by realized beings who understood how the human system works. They knew how to manipulate one’s energies to bring balance and strength to the hormonal and central nervous systems. As a result, the body becomes more stable and the mind more still. It is in these conditions that one can experience a deep state of relaxation and joy, even bliss and higher states of consciousness.
Setting the right conditions to support these experiences
As an aspiring yogi, any actions that can promote these elevating experiences are important. Here I share seven measures I have learned during my teacher training program that can be taken to set the right conditions:
- Cotton Clothing: synthetic material that can crackle with static energy is not good for the system. It obstructs the flow of energy. So wearing organic materials, such as cotton, silk, or wool is important.
- Not Wearing Accessories: wearing eyeglasses or anything metallic or plastic can also restrict the flow of energy. This includes jewelry. For women, it is best to wear bras that have no metallic clips (especially on the spine) – plastic clips are better, but it is ideal to wear a cotton bra with no clips. On the other hand, it is OK to wear earrings. Also, wearing a ring on the ring finger, especially one made of copper, is said to stabilize the body. It also keeps you grounded once in deep meditation.
- Cotton Yoga Mat: it is advised to practice on a cotton yoga mat. Over time, your mat will have your own sweat and energy, and thus should not be shared with anyone else. To keep it clean, it is OK to wash it every 15 days or once a month. If you find it slippery or too thin without much cushion, you can place another mat underneath it.
- Cold Bath Before Practices: showering (especially pouring water on the head) with cold water that is 5-14 °F below room temperature is encouraged. At this temperature, the epithelial cells will contract. Thus, when you practice yoga, the space between the cells will be charged with energy. In addition, this enhances cellular youthfulness and muscles’ flexibility.
- Comfortable Temperature: practicing yoga in the morning or evening when the temperature is comfortable at around 75 °F +/- 14 degrees can bring strength and rejuvenation to the cellular system, slowing or even reversing the aging process. However, doing yoga in hot temperatures can cause damage to your cellular system. Moreover, muscles can get easily injured if you stretch them when it is too cold (in this case, it is good to warm the body first by doing Angamardana, for example – an Isha practice that prepares the body for Hatha Yoga).
- Rubbing the Sweat Back: it is best not to wipe the sweat with a towel, but to rub it back on the exposed part of your body. In Hatha Yoga, we are generating energy and we want to make use of it. The sweat is water that has memory and carries that generated energy. So you don’t want to lose it. Sadhguru says if you rub it back “It will develop a certain level of aura and a certain strength for the body. It’s called kavacha or cocoon of your own energy.” Doing this and practicing regularly will lower your physical compulsions, such as being troubled with hot or cold temperatures, hunger, or thirst.
- Wearing Rudraksh: rudraksh is the seed of a particular tree that grows mainly in the Himalayan mountains. These seeds are made into malas to wear around the neck. They have a unique vibration that protects from negative energies and helps you create a cocoon of your own energy. They also lower your blood pressure and calm the nerves. A five-faced Rudraksh is the recommended one to wear. It is important to buy it from a trusted source to ensure it is not made of another seed or plastic (try Ishalife.com).
These measures provide support to your yoga and can become part of your practice as an aspiring yogi.