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August 2013


Is the Magic Just Intuition?

August 30, 2013

Earlier this year I went to the Jaipur Lit Fest and go the chance to attend many sessions/talks about yoga.  These ranged from early yogis to the practice of yoga to where we’re headed with yoga.  There was one professor David Gordon White who spoke about early yoginis who were mystical beings and had magical powers.  That stayed with me and I recently thought of it again.  I’m currently reading ‘Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by BKS Iyengar.  It is a translation with explanations of all of the 198 aphorisms of Patanjali.  In the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali lists down the powers that a yogi can acquire should s/he practice yoga in the right way and walk the yogic path in the right manner.  He calls these the ‘vibhutis’ (properties) of yoga.  These are:

  1. He begins to know the past and future.
  2. He understands the language of all people, birds and animals.
  3. He knows his past and future lives.
  4. He reads the minds of others.
  5. If necessary, he can define even the precise details of what is in the minds of others.
  6. He becomes invisible at will.
  7. He can arrest the senses: hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.
  8. He knows the exact time of his death by intuition or through omens.
  9. He is friendly and compassionate to all.
  10. He becomes strong as an elephant and his movements are as graceful as a peacock.
  11. He clearly sees objects near and far, gross and fine, and concealed.
  12. He knows the working of the solar system.
  13. He knows the functions of the lunar system and through that, the position of the galaxies.
  14. He reads the movements of stars from the pole star and predicts world events.
  15. He knows his body and its orderly functions.
  16. He conquers hunger and thirst.
  17. He makes his body and mind immobile like a tortoise.
  18. He has visions of perfected beings, teachers and masters.
  19. He has the power to perceive anything and everything.
  20. He becomes aware of the properties of consciousness.
  21. By knowing the properties of consciousness he uses consciousness to light the lamp of the soul.
  22. Divine faculties which are beyond the range of ordinary senses comes to him because of his enlightened soul.
  23. He leaves his body consciously and enters others’ bodies at will.
  24. He walks over water, swamp and thorns.
  25. He creates fire at will.
  26. He hears distant sounds.
  27. He levitates.
  28. He frees himself from afflictions at will and often lives without a body.
  29. He controls nature’s constituents, qualities and purposes.
  30. He becomes lord of the elements and their counterparts.
  31. He possesses an excellent body with grace, strength, perfect complexion and lustre.
  32. He has perfect control over his senses and mind, and their contact with the lower self or the ‘I’ consciousness.
  33. He transforms body, senses, mind, intelligence and consciousness to utmost sharpness and speed in tune with his very soul.
  34. He gains dominion over all creation and all knowledge.

I asked my Iyengar teacher whether he had ever come across anyone (even Iyengar himself) who had experienced any of these vibhutis.  Because I’m no where near experiencing a single one of them.  His answer was cryptic.  He said the Sutras were written 5000 years ago, and you must interpret them in terms of the world today.  Hmm….(I thought trying to look intelligent.)  He also told me to read other people’s interpretation of the Sutras and mabye even write to Iyengar about my doubts.

I’ve been mulling over this for the past couple of days and I’ve started to think that perhaps when you practice yoga and increase your level of awareness then your intuition also starts to sharpen and perhaps you’re able to feel and sense more around your environment.  Perhaps all the vibhutis Patanjali has listed are a result of powerful intuition. 

I’m going to take my teacher’s advice and read up some more interpretations of the Sutras, but I do wonder if there’s some delightful magic in store for us yogis 🙂


Why Yama and Niyama?

August 22, 2013

The philosophy of yoga has 8 limbs (ashta anga = eight limbs).  The first two of these are:

1.  Yama – These are the set of ‘don’ts’.  They can also be considered to be universal moral commandments.  Patanjali laid down these principles as general ethical principles that must be followed on a daily basis.  These are:

  • Ahimsa (non violence) – refraining from any kind of violence, thought, deed action.  This includes not harming yourself.
  • Truth (satya)
  • Non  stealing (asteya)- this deals with controlling and reducing desires and wants.  The observance of asteya gives the practitioner freedom from avarice.
  • Continence (brahmacharya) – refraining from sex in mind and body.  This principle has many interpretations.  Purists believe this means no sex, period.  However, yoga is not a practice exclusively for celibates.  Taking this into consideration, this principle implies abstaining from ‘immoral’ acts of sex.  Morals are a function of the society we live in and therefore might differ from one person to the next.  However, (generally speaking) sex which is outside marriage, or without the consent of the other person, sex as a means of wielding power, sex to harm the other person….is ‘immoral’.  Brahmacharya deals with a disciplined sexual life rather than a non-existent one.
  • Non covetousness (aparigraha) – not desiring things which are not necessary for life.  This includes emotional and intellectual possessiveness.

2. Niyama – These are the set of ‘dos’.  Practicing these leads to self restraint and thereby self purification.  These are:

  • Saucha – purity/cleanliness.  There are two kinds of purity which must be strived for.  These are:
  1. External:  External purity implies purity of behavior and habits.  Cleaniliness of your physical body and your surroundings.  So things such as showering daily and wearing clean clothes and changing your socks :).
  2. Internal:  Internal purity deal with getting rid of any negative or harmful emotion that might be bottled up or that might be manifesting itself on a daily basis.  These negative emotions are:
      *Kama – passion
      *Krodha – anger
      *Lobha – greed
      *Moha – infatuation
      *Mada – pride
                *Matsarya – malice and envy
  • Santosa – contentment
  • Tapas – austerity
  • Svadhyaya – study of scriptures/one self
  • Isvara pranidhana – surrender to the lord of all our actions


Because yoga is the path to enlightenment, it is important, necessary and imperative that yama and niyama be followed.  Without these yoga becomes just a physical practice of asanas.  That’s like having a Blackberry and only using it to make and receive calls.  However, a Blackberry can be used to schedule meetings, check your mail, chat, listen to music and so on and so forth.  If yoga is practiced with a view to only reap the physical benefits, then you are merely scratching the surface of an ancient philosophy which can add so much value to your life.

So to sum up – practice your yama and niyama!!! 🙂


I Can’t Commit!!!

August 6, 2013

It’s hard to stay focussed and committed.  To any kind of routine.  Specially the kind of routine which may require you to wake up early and be on time for a fitness class.  If your class is later in the day then you have to ignore every single excuse that might crop up for why you can’t be at the class, and just go to it.  We all know we feel better post our yoga sessions, but why do so many people start with being regular and then lose steam?  I’m not sure.  But maybe there are a few things we can do to stay motivated, and at least to get to class despite not feeling motivated.

1. Join a class. A friend of mine used to go to the most expensive classes available because she would feel compelled to go so as not to waste all her hard earned money. It worked for her, it might for you too!

2.  Whether the class is expensive or relatively cheap, make friends with people in your class.  Or, better yet, join a class with a friend.  So when you feel like staying in bed, then there will be someone to pull you out and into class.

3.  If going to class is not possible for you then follow one of the numerous health/fitness blogs online and do routines in the comfort of your own home. But this does require you to prowl the web looking for videos which inspire you. These videos should feature routines and instructors who you want to spend an hour with every day. You may eventually get bored of the same videos, or you might exhaust someone’s videos. Then you need to start your research all over again and find other videos which will keep you on track.

As a start watch my videos and give me cmments and suggestions for the kind of videos that you feel can help you!


I Made an Easy Salad!

August 3, 2013

People who know me know I’m not a good cook, nor an interested one. So I like to make things which require minimal effort and yet are super healthy. And since a lot of people ask me for suggestions for what to eat and the kinds of food I like to eat, I thought I’d blog about an easy salad that I made (for the first time) using whatever I found in the fridge.

Plus, lots of people want simple, easy and quick salad recipes for when you have hunger pangs and don’t want to gorge on the first pack of potato chips that you find. I made a salad a few days ago which not only tasted good, but was also very very filling. Almost like a meal in itself! Here’s how I made it:

1. You will need: some carrots, cucumbers, spring onions, an onion, some cheese, pepper, olive oil, a pan to make in and something to stir with. I didn’t use salt, but I suppose if you want, you can add that too. (In fact, I think that you can add anything you like.)

2. Chop all your veggies :).

3. Heat oil in a pan and add the onions. Do this on low flame so that the onions give off that delicious aroma and turn a nice tender pink.

4. Add your chopped veggies in. I had cucumbers and carrots. Stir for some time.

5. Add the spring onions. Stir for some time. Add some pepper. Stir for some time. Cover and let the salad cook in the combined aroma of all your healthy veggies.

6. Uncover and add some cheese if you want. I just used my hands to separate the cheese into big chunks. You can grate the cheese if you want. You can also add some salt. Cover and let it cook for some time.

7. Uncover, serve and enjoy.

I made this out of whatever I had in my fridge. The idea is to make something wholesome and delicious out of your exsisting resources.

Hope you try this and let me know what you think of it!