When I ran to a temple in India, I was seeking knowledge and transformation. I had the curiosity to learn ancient ways first hand and not through a book. I wanted secrets. I was intrigued with possibilities that I could find oneness with that something/everything. What do they mean by “to end suffering,” to “loosen attachment?” How is that so? I also had a paper to write for my Master’s degree and I wanted something fresh.
Each day, I was given a litany of various yogas. Most were not about western ideas of health; most were not physical. A yoga is a path to Awakening there. Where I went, it was treated like shotgun medicine. If you try ten yogas, perhaps one will be your holy key, you’ll stick to that one, if it works for you.
One that I particularly enjoy is what this temple called Japa Yoga. I have seen other things here in the west called the same. This one, I find, can be practiced without any strict proprieties. It is fun, yet it will bring one into the moment, away from the periphery of imposing influences of daily modern life, and uses the whole body in a most healthy and rejuvenating way. The basic idea is to allow the body to let go, to let go of the body and to allow something essential to take over. It arrives as a free form dance.
Dancing like nobody is watching is nothing unfamiliar. Many of you have probably come to a point where you find that a creative force has taken over and music has inspired spontaneous movement. It possibly starts with an unconscious tapping toe, or maybe an extra beer.
This one, in a more structured place, will last 21 minutes. A beginning section of slow stretching, becomes a quicker stretch movement into slow dance. It continues into a frenzied pace; it is meant to feel as if a deity has taken over. It continues into a crescendo. Afterward, a cool down.
Blast-worthy speakers, and a good selection of music augment the process. You don’t need a bijan band filled with howling monks. I prefer selections that reflect a spiritual devotion, a Deva Premal, or Lia Ices to start and end. Matisyahu in Reggae beat “King without a Crown” is inspirational and drives the pace and spirit into anything. Blazing Brazilian drums can be a frenzied crescendo. Try Youtube for inspiring selections.
You start slow, stretching, warming up, like any exercise, or development of chi should.
In this case, the movement is directed by our innate awareness. When you rise in the morning, you don’t need a teacher to stretch. Any kinks from the night are felt and a corresponding movement of muscle is found naturally. This simple natural process is taken into a total body’s awareness. When you find something stiff, stretch into it. You may contort in any manner that feels good, generally standing, as the music guides the body into dance.
With the fine line between stretch, relief and dance obscured, you have launched into this Japa yoga. I find that my absolute nudity brings out my awareness, from the way my feet are anchored and then floating, to my ability to move into ways that I obviously haven’t experienced anytime recently. You can tense up a stiff part and then let it go loose. You can breathe in and out to let out and relax.
It is fluid; it is not redundant. The care given by awareness will protect me from over doing myself in a position. I say a little prayer before for guidance and protection and then I trust.
Yes, naked, like nobody is watching, close the eyes and let go. Simple natural stuff.
Naked, barefoot all over, there is only a body in air without draping. Naked, there are no restrictions to movement. Naked can be associated with wild abandon, or even humility.
For the record, at the temple, we were not doing this nude. We even had our shoulders and knees covered so not to “offend” the locals.
The ending segment should find a more alive, flexible, peaceful existence. There may be a sense of peaceful surrender and gratitude for something that is now more obviously there and a part of life. As my day continues, I notice that my body moves better and I am more in the awareness of the present. So, this basic structure is all that is needed, it is a guideline.
Physical ability enters into it. I’ve guided something like one hundred people through this in all sorts of health. Do what you can, this is not meant to cure back injuries, or make instant ballet. It has even been done sitting in a wheelchair. Awareness should show you your current limitations. Your parameters of those will be eased into, patiently. If you have any concerns, check with your doctor about participating in free form dance. After all of that, if it is guided by the divine, then it is okay to get sloppy with the structure of this ancient yoga meditation.
Just practicing being aware and in the moment, is generally enough, but there is more to this. I take the following as an option, closer to the better known Japa. It is the redundant chanting of a phrase, a positive affirmation. My Bhagavan (yes, another head guy called by that name) stated that after repeating something for seven minutes, it sinks into the subconscious. Twenty-one minutes has three seven-minute sections. A chant like “I am love”, “Sat Chit Ananda” “Existence Consciousness Bliss” are common. I suppose that any positive affirmation could be utilized. If nothing else, fun is achieved. Just repeat it, speak it, declare it, shout it, take it into your heart, as they say. It is your mantra.
One more thing, make it as sacred as you care to, but remember, this is an opportunity.
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