The “Diamond Body” or vajra deha is a Tantric term used to describe the process of refining both the physical body and “energy body” through the practices of hatha yoga. Like the intense heat and pressure needed to form the pure, luminous crystals of a diamond, the physical and energetic body are cleansed and refined to a radiant strength of clarity through yoga. Traditionally it was thought that this method would not only bring the practitioner to the ultimate level of consciousness but could give them magical powers and even make them immune to death itself! Continue reading →Posted in Commentary, The Energy Body | Leave a comment April 28, 2013
I got an email from a yogi who has been using my first book, The Yoga Practice Guide. His question is a good one and I hope to address it in what follows. Thank you Jason!
“Quite a beautiful book. It’s obvious that you took some care in its preparation. One thing I’m curious about — you show gomukhasana with the person sitting between the lower legs instead of sitting on them (as illustrated in Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” and practiced in Pattabhi Jois’ ashtanga second series).Why is that? It seems to me that there is a very profound difference between those two postures. I was always taught that sitting between the legs is samkatasana, not gomukhasana”. - Jason Continue reading →Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment January 22, 2013
This idea of “going to the next level” gets mentioned a lot in yoga. The inference is that if you study with this teacher or attend that workshop you will, almost by transference, amp up your asana practice to some mystical height. You will be given something you did not have before and very likely would not attain on your own.
This appeals to our tendency to want to accumulate things and to find the people who might get us what we want. It also appeals to our competitiveness.
I too spent several years “accumulating” asana and wanting to “get the pose.” This was especially true when most of the other people I was studying with were already very accomplished asana practitioners, endowed with tremendous athletic gifts. They were the benchmark. I worked hard to step up to that mark. I worked hard to win my teacher’s approval and the recognition of my peers. I would go to workshops or retreats, absorb all I could then go home and practice everything for the next few months until the next time I attended some event. Continue reading →Posted in Commentary | Tagged yoga asana, yoga level, yoga poses, yoga postures, Yoga Practice | Leave a comment July 21, 2012
Reviewed by Elaine G. McGillicuddy, co-founder of Portland Yoga Studio and
author of Sing to Me and I Will Hear You – The Poems
This book is as practical as it is stunning in its beauty. Written for those interested in the path of yoga, that beauty is profound because its author, clearly a yoga adept, shares his story. His mastery of yoga is the fruit of perseverance through his own difficult journey. His eagerness to help others by sharing the secrets of his healing through yoga is plain to see and feel in this well written and compassionate book.
Always the wise teacher, Bruce Bowditch takes his readers by the hand assuring them, for example – if they find the material confusing – it’ll all get clearer. “I’ve distilled a huge body of knowledge into a dozen pages,” he admits, coaxing them by pointing out – If it seems “ethereal” at first, “stay with me. You’ll begin to see” as you begin the practice.
A cursory look could lead one examining the book to conclude it is too comprehensive, too detailed in what it includes. But Bowditch calls it a “primer” and his compassionate conversational style elucidating the centuries’ long tradition of Hatha Yoga works! It works because, far from being a theoretical exercise, the author’s distillation reveals he practices what he preaches.
For example, an elegant passage like this one expressing his appreciation of pranayama. can only come from experience: “From the moment we are born until life slips from our body, the breath is offered freely to us. It is a gift we all receive no matter who we are, what we look like, what we have done, how we behave, or what we believe. It is unconditional.”
Bowditch praises his Grandmother and the Chinese master Dr. Sung Ian Hsia whose influence in his life has borne rich fruit. He wants to pass on the advice he gave himself – to stop wrestling with the self, to discover as he did in yogic practices the gift of being “more deeply seated in the heart “so that our gifts can be offered fully.” He wants others to experience as he did – that “Our life happens through us, not to us.”
His aim in this book is to offer something that goes beyond the limiting Western view of the body where physiological processes happen in the background, separate from the whole self. Instead, he wants to “open windows” by clarifying for 21st Century seekers the wisdom that resides in traditional Hatha Yoga practices. It’s all about discovering the interconnection of all things through the flow of spiritual energy within our own bodies which are, in themselves, “a total energy system” connected to Source. His book offers us a map, a compass. He doesn’t pretend, but says it clearly – this is not a spiritual guide – admitting, however, that the practices he so convincingly describes, do “set the stage for deeper spiritual development.”
I find genuine humility in his attitude of reverence expressing awe at the “intelligence and exquisite complexity” of our immune, digestive, circulatory systems. He is not fooled, admitting that some yoga promoters, in emphasizing physical performance, or various brands of yoga, have “diluted” it. The original intent of yoga, he reminds us, was to release negativity, to correct faulty thinking and free us of misperceptions – all as early first steps to “realize and express (our) own worthiness and radiance.”
Using his skill as an artist, Bowditch depicts the poses in a variety of Asana Sequences with his own unique inch long figures. Illustrated with Sanskrit names on oversized pages spiral bound, the book’s format makes it eminently practical. Fine artistry is featured everywhere in this book, e.g. in the colored panels of his own creations (paintings, really) which are used to introduce the book’s various major sections.
These include, after the Asana Sequences – The Internal Energy System, Pranayama and its Practices, and Meditation. Bowditch does an excellent job making connections between the Gunas, the Five Great Elements, the Chakras, Kundalini Sakti and the Vayus. In like manner, in his section on Pranayama he skillfully shows the relationships, e.g. use of the Bandhas in Pranayama, and in his section on Meditation, he demonstrates mudras during meditation to enhance work on the chakras!
His section on the mudras includes not only mudras for the vayus and the chakras, but five “additional ” mudras (which I found fascinating) which he called “gestures.” The “cin mudra,” for example, is a “gesture of wisdom – for calming and focus) etc. The others are gestures . . . of knowledge . . . for grounding. . . for heart center. . . and for deeper connection to creative life-force.” Bowditch notes: “Applied along with meditation or pranayama, these gestures positively affect the nervous system and our state of consciousness.”
A fine “Quick Guide” to Sanskrit pronunciation, End Notes and Bibliography completes this third of Bruce Bowditch’s books, all in similar attractive, practical format. Each of them promises to benefit all yoga practitioners, students and teachers alike. We’re assured of this because the practice this master yoga teacher advocates has already transformed his own life.Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged The Yoga Practice Guide, The Yoga Practice Guide Volume 2, Yoga, Yoga Practice, Yoga Sequencing | Leave a comment February 6, 2012
Yesterday in The Practice, a student related an interesting comment made by one of her other teachers. If I have it right it went something like this: When someone has attained true mastery, they no longer need to practice a wide range of asana. All that is required is about twenty four. The rest are unnecessary.
I took this to infer that if one is a true master (enlightened) one has no more need of asana. I felt this was a very limited perspective and said as much. I may have jumped to a conclusion without asking for clarification before offering my own comments. I’m sure this statement had more context when her teacher made it. I also felt it was a sincere question/comment deserving of a more thought through comment than I offered at the time. I guess I baulk at what seem like blanket statements meant as a collective marker or to focus an end goal for our individual practice.
Anyway, from my perspective asana practice can have several initial goals and have several layers of long term effect. As we gain these effects and reach these goals, the motivation for continuing to practice asana may shift. You may begin an asana practice for any number of reasons; to get in shape, ease bio-mechanic discomfort, find deeper self- knowledge, to work through “your stuff,” make new friends, etc.. The list can be as long and varied as the number of people taking up the practice. Yet as you continue to practice, what motivates you to persist may change. At a certain point, some may decide that they have attained their purpose for practicing asana. They may no longer feel the need to practice this aspect of yoga very extensively. They may choose to put their focus on other types of practice. So if the comment was intended to point out that asana practice is not necessarily an end goal in itself, this can indeed be true. And yet others will continue a very expanded practice for the delight this embodied experience can offer. They too may have reached their intended goals. They may perhaps now delve into other practices. And yet they may still choose to continue an extensive asana practice just for the sheer joy of it!Posted in Commentary | Tagged Asana, Asana Practice, Practicing Yoga, Yoga Practice | Leave a comment ← Older posts