Silavadee is a classic sea side 5 resort on Koh Samui island, Thailand. It has a private beach and each room has a private pool. The rooms are all solid wood and have high pitched roofs. They have a rustic feel while being immaculate and spacious, including a very large bathroom and circular jacuzzi tub. It's a beautiful place.
My home and small yoga hall is right across the street and I recently had some private yoga sessions in Silavadee with two students from Moscow who had been practicing Iyengar yoga for the last 2 years. They were very enthusiastic practitioners and we made daily morning and evening sessions. I got to learn a few Russian words and had the pleasure of seeing a few breakthroughs in their practice. Some of the techniques I shared were new for them and we also worked the simple classic poses to their potential, holding until we couldn't, whether it be Warrior III or the meditation posture at the end of each class after pranayama.
If you are staying at Silavadee or just on Koh Samui, you could make your vacation a great way to start yoga or enrich your practice with my classes to get more context, knowledge, and techniques for yoga and wellness. I've been teaching Yoga for over 7 years now and my work has been with all kinds of people. I've worked with thousands of beginners, people looking for how to lose weight and get fit again at detox fasting retreats, children of all ages, people from nearly every major religious background, christians, muslims, jews, buddhist, and taoist...people in their 60's and 70's of age with decreased mobility. I've also trained teachers and other adept practitioners...You can learn ways to expand your perception of your life, improve the health and functionality of your body through smart training with yoga anatomy knowledge, access new poses and ways of being, and how to relax and meditate more simply. It's never too late!
You can book or inquire about a session of Sajeeva Yoga with George at the Baan Geom page. Have a great time on Koh Samui and maybe see you for some sun and yoga! Look at these beautiful rooms at Silavadee Pool Resort. It's a magical place for practicing with the sunrise or under the stars on those decks.
The essence of meditation can be simplified down into a rather short description although it's a logic-breaker.
Meditation is when you, an object(read as any sense experience including thought experiences) and the process of attention towards that object....are indistinguishable.
This is interesting because if there is no difference between you, the object, and your attention...who, or what, are you? When you ask someone who they are they answer with a list of identifications defined by their previous sense experiences, yet countless wisdom traditions point us towards a state of being which is NOT defined by any sense experience or identification. Perhaps the best answer to the question "Who are you?" would be "The one who is here now."
This is also interesting because that means no one is "doing" the meditation. It happens... So...
How does meditation happen?
Meditation happens when the processes of the mind become tranquil and the consciousness does not move to identify with any object. This is the definition of Yoga given by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. This is a lofty, but attainable goal. The typical state of the mind is a constant string of identifications illicited by the external reality. The first step towards the meditation state is to slow down this parade of identifications and move the identifications closer to yourself. This is meditative concentration. When concentrating on the more internal we also stop feeding the fire of our outwardly identifying habits. Tranquility arrives. As concentration is developed, we internalise it further and the technique of concentration becomes more subtle. The more subtle the method of concentration, less & less sense objects are available to which the consciousness can attach itself.
External to Internal Steps for subtle Concentration
1. A flowing body art awareness practice. You must pay attention and perform each move in sequence with the breath.
2. Holding a static position. Micro management of joints and stabilisation.
3. Sitting and breathing in a rhythmic pattern.
4. Sitting and observing the natural breath pattern.
5. Observe your own state.
This same kind of interlization of can be applied to points of concentration, vocalisation, or even other less structured or basically indescribably subtle processes.
Point of Concentration
1. Focus on a movement pattern for the eyes of looking up and down.
2. Focus on a point outside of the body such as the rising sun or a mandala for example.
3. Focus on a movement pattern for a point of concentration within the body, up and down the central channel in sequence with the breath.
4. Focus on a point within the body.
1. Speak an affirmation, mantra, or prayer outloud.
2. Whisper the words.
3. Mentally repeat the words.
4. Mentally listen to the "space" in which the words were spoken.
The highest form of meditation happens when the technique disappears and there is just....
Why you should be practicing meditative concentration
Life is overflowing with experiences. The ability of humans to "keep up" and stay present, which is where we experience peace, well-ness, etc is directly related to a few factors..
1. How much we identify into the experiences we have
2. How quickly we "process" our experiences and move on and hopefully inwards to the subtle
Practicing meditation takes care of it all then. We practice taking a break from identifying with the outside. We give our minds time to "catch up" on all the backlogged experiences we didn't finish with... Do you have lots of crazy random or maybe NOT so random thoughts pop up when you practice meditation? This is normal and just the result of the experiences of our lives. It's not bad to have this experience in meditation. It either means a lot of things have been going on, you started accessing older more subtler impressions, or you started touching some impressions you maybe didn't need to and it stirred them up again. Some old impressions need to be processed consciously, but actually a lot of them can just be left behind and they will fall apart from disuse or become incompatible to our "current version" as we upgrade our mental-psychic structure. Sometimes we need to upgrade until we can bear to consciously process some impressions. This is the process of freedom from impressions, freedom from the past and future, freedom from regret, anxiety, inadequacy, and superiority. All is one in the state of meditation.
With Focused Love,
Would you laugh if I told you that my new found push-ups practice is a great part of my Yoga practice?
For the last 2 months or so me and a few friends have committed to a nearly nightly push ups routine inspired by our returning friend who has kept this discipline solidly for about 10 year! Needless to say, he's very focused and very strong and an all around inspiring guy that often does a lot of other superhuman feats like swimming from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui on several occasions and running up and down the mountain frequently in the morning.
Just like any practice which really makes you discipline yourself...I've found that somedays the performance is better or worse. Last night...I broke some kind of threshold and perfected the technique and experienced my discipline and dedication in a way I never have before. I also experienced a real transformation in my body, and I don't mean just getting bigger pecs...thats nice and all but I'm a holistic guy! The transformation was to my posture and body integration, as well as to my concentration. Now that's really what I like!
So, how to do this practice? Very simply.
1. One minute, do push ups.
2. One minute rest.
Ok. So. Do you want to get in on this with us? Here's what you need to know.
1. You got to have a solid plank pose before doing push ups. Plank works a lot of muscle groups in the body, notably the deltoids, pecs, entire abdomen, quadriceps, and more.
2. When you do push ups only go down as low as you can maintain the straight and firm feeling of plank. If this means you bend your arms 45* or less, so be it.
3. To get the most power in your push up, inhale on the way down, hold your breath briefly while pushing up, and then exhale only at the end of the movement. You will be able to keep consistent power much longer this way.
4. Only go down if you are coming back up without collapsing!
5. If you don't think you can go down and up again...just keep in plank. If you want to challenge yourself a little bit more than that, slowly exhale one knee to your armpit, slightly rounding your back and tucking your tailbone. Hold for several seconds.
6. Do this every other day for proper rest of the muscles. If you want to train other muscles on the day off feel free but make sure you rest, eat proper, and sleep enough every night! The key is as always, discipline!
Yoga is a practice which offers limitless possibilities. Many people come to Yoga and after a short introduction to whatever particular yoga practice they may think "Ah, that's Yoga." Indeed this exact thought, the certainty of what the practice is, limits the very practice itself. A healthy practice takes whatever yogic knowledge is already acquired and uses it to open a greater potential field of awareness and practice. This greater field of awareness entails knowing more experientially the way in which all things are connected the same as you feel your finger is connected to your body. You feel the condition of your life become connected to your self. A higher perspective is to find a way in which an unlimited aspect becomes the definition of self. Yoga practice is an exploration of the Self. Ever hear that one? Your Self represents the potential for limitless experience. Yoga represents the experience of connection to the infinite. Yoga is limitless.
All forms of Yoga practice do however share two things in common. They utilise techniques to stabilise the state of consciousness for concentration, and, these processes of concentration harmonizes the different aspects of that persons experience towards realising wholeness and well-being, personally, socially, and existentially.
Their are four main categories of Yoga practice. Each one suits different character types, meaning each human can find or has already found a form of Yoga that is most natural or agreeable with them and their life.
1. Hatha Yoga - Where Most of Us Start to know about Yoga Practice
Those who like to feel their efforts bring some good results, there is Hatha Yoga. It is in high use because it brings results quickly, people really need the will and discernment that Hatha Yoga brings, and it's of course easily marketable and profitable, hence the explosion of "modern" Yoga.
Ha and Tha mean Sun and Moon and these are representations of our duality, the opposites that interplay and influence the nature of life on Earth. The body also contains many representations of these opposites. Hatha Yoga teaches us to look at the most fundamental aspects of our existence, our body, our breath, our mind, and to learn to see and exercise their functions with full awareness. We try to learn to see the opposites from a single perspective, that encompasses both of them. The result is balancing of the systems and a greater capacity for life and all of it’s greatest experiences, love, understanding, patience, and peace. This is why Hatha Yoga is also often the door way to other forms of yoga practice.
If you want to read more about different styles of Hatha Yoga stay close for my next post!
2. Karma Yoga - Real Life Yoga
Karma means action. The height of Karma Yoga is to “surrender” your action… There are a few ways to consider what this means and how it can be applied. One is to work towards aiding humanity and reduce the suffering of others without expectation of recognition or reward.
Another way is to see all of life’s happenings, all events, all phenomenon… as the effect of the original action, original Being, or God. In such a perspective, our ego diminishes. We are not responsible for anything. Well… is that true? Karma yoga can be tricky and it should come paired with the notion of Dharma. You don't want to become lazy thinking everything will take care of itself without your effort. Dharma is duty, right action, doing what you should do. Whether we are responsible for things or not… everyone DOES experience the crossroads of choosing their own course of action to follow. If you listen carefully within you will know and choose the action which is your dharma. Sometimes you will not always want it or it will not always be easy, but you will know it’s right. This is another meaning of “surrendering” your action. Even if you don’t want to do it, you do. This is about learning to trust your conscience or higher intuition and not blindly follow your more animal based likes and dislikes.
3. Bhakti Yoga - Devotional Yoga
Bhakti means devotion and love. Devotion stabilises the mind. Devotion can eradicate doubts which might distract us from profound concentration. Love pulls us deeply into the present. This leads to profound gratitude for being alive. This is a recipe for the union of Yoga. The natural question is to what do you devote? Whatever has made all of this come to be! It’s the universality, connection, the oneness. A bhakti yoga feels this through their love and gratitude for everything as a manifestation of God.
Bhakti is practiced frequently by ritual. There are many rituals... chanting, lighting candles and burning incense, making offerings to deities or God or your teacher, all of which are ways of practicing to bring these qualities of love and devotion into our daily experience when we might find it difficult to just feel love for everything as it is for no reason. But if you can do it for no reason, by all means please do!
4. Jnana Yoga - Getting to Know
Jnana means knowledge. Through the guidance of teachers and great spiritual masters we can apply our intellect to more clearly observe and see the true nature of our own life. This is the practice for those who are philosophically inclined to inquire into life. There are three essential questions which philosophy tries to answer.
1. Who am I?
2. What is this creation or existence?
3. Is there a God or creator and what is His/Her/That's nature?
Jnana Yoga is important for all practitioners because it informs our practice. Knowledge helps us avoid wrong turns and from repeating mistakes. It also helps us lift our imagination and vision to what may be experiential beyond our normal perception. Are there kinds of experiences you believe you haven’t yet experienced in life? From time to time you can read yoga philosophy, try changing your perspective with a thought experiment, or have a good old fashioned talk about life with some of your friends. The spoken word is much more powerful than the words from the book. Seek living knowledge as much as possible.
Back to Hatha Yoga Styles
Almost all yoga classes happening in the modern studio are within the system of Hatha Yoga, even if it’s called Vinyasa, Power, or Ashtanga. Ideally no matter the style or teacher, the class should consist of exercises that bring people to balance with themselves and their present circumstances. That should start with the environment the people live in and what kind of behaviours and conditions are already the norm for them. Naturally, there are many opinions and options about what is relevant to balancing people in their circumstances! Naturally, some styles and teachers will focus on certain aspects more than others. Also, many "modern styles" of Yoga are partially a result of branding and the need for a means to live by those who seek to make Yoga a career. So, they try to stand out to make it. Standing out is ok, but the integrity of Yoga has to stay! For teachers of Yoga it is healthy to come in with the concept that Hatha Yoga already contains ALL possible practices, that there are no "new styles" but rather perhaps different schools and the individual re-discovery of technique and are main job and attention should be on facilitating people to discover their connection to the infinite.
What makes Hatha Yoga really work though is starting from the present condition and exploring different ways to engage your concentration and relaxation. This should be done in cycles for the greatest effect. Your innate intelligence take this physical exploration experience and begins to reengineers you body and mind to work better with the external conditions. This is also a way of aligning with nature. Over time and repetition, a tendency becomes natural. We train to be in our best balance. When the balance becomes sublime, you can escape all tendency. With such discipline effort becomes effortless effort, there can be soft intensity, relaxed firmness, and the ability to find the middle in more situations and decisions. The yogi becomes established in his/her Self and is more peaceful and harmonious with the internal and external.
Some styles or teachers may represent Hatha Yoga in an unbalanced way for you specifically, but this can still be a lesson on what is balance for you. All styles and teachers ultimately serve as a means of entry for people beginning the yogic process. As I stated previously, there is a yoga practice that will suit each person. As they develop through the first initial practice they might become aware of another form of practice and move to something more balanced, more internalised, more peaceful for them in their current circumstances.
When you are taking classes or trying out new practices ask yourself some questions such as…
Always go by your own conclusion. Doubt new information until it’s tested and proved by yourself. Trust yourself!
Stay close for my next post! What are the different kinds of Hatha Yoga Schools and styles in the current time?
Love and Oms
George is the founder of Sajeeva Yoga School, and a practitioner and teacher on the journey of exploring life, truth, purpose, and
Yoga technique, Yoga in Asia, Yoga Workshops, Teaching Methods, Asana Alignment, Yoga Tips, Breathing, awareness, mindfulness, spiritual journey, yoga lifestyle,