The Asanas or postures of Yoga were originally part of the whole “Union” practice in order to get the kinks and distractions out of the body in order to bring focus to the mind, together with the body and soul through meditation. Our Western culture has focused so much on the postures and exercise side of yoga, that the spiritual and mental side has been neglected. I like to encourage all of my students to enjoy the feeling and high of a great Asana Yoga session but these days, especially as we are dealing with more and more of the uncertainties and challenges of our world, to find time for Meditation and Pranayama (Breath-work) as well. Below you will find some of my favourite Pranayama techniques as well as a few Meditations I have recorded over the last few months.
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7 Stages of Liberation – Stage 1 – Self-Awareness
The first stage of Yoga is Self Awareness. This begins the invitation to change, to be present and to be conscious. If you think about it, most of our day is spent unconscious, lost in thought and entertaining the Doer-ship of our existence. This first step engages our light of intellect (Prajna) and our innate wisdom (Buddhi) to dissolve the veil of ignorance (Avidya) and expand our perspective to what is really going on in any given moment.
We use our practice as the opportunity to have an honest self-reflection on the distorted negative illusions we recycle, then open to more positive truths. Self-honesty is an honest look at ourselves preparing us to be humble, compassionate and regain our serenity, this develops trust in ourselves to make wiser decision from a place of knowing what is truly important to us.
The goal of working through these stages is to arrive to Citta Vritti Nirodha – Stilling the roaming tendencies of our heart mind. First we need to become aware of those tendencies, issues, disturbances and habits that cause the Citta to roam. As we practice listening to Buddhi, making informed decisions using Prajna we recognise the pain and suffering that is present. We become aware of our bias, judgements, insanity, habitual patterns and our “stuff”. Sutra 2.27 states that Self-Awareness is the first step to liberation as we heighten our awareness of the human condition of what is going on to cause the Citta to wander. Sutra 1.31 states that what is noticed as we become more self-aware is the symptoms of suffering, in the form of
Self-awareness opens us to the different stories that we have lived through and what stories are being told now. We may not relate to each others stories, however we all understand the shared feeling of anger, sadness, lust, jealousy, grief, righteous indignation, hurt, stress, worry…We as Yogis welcome these feelings as teachers, acknowledging this reality of pain and suffering then use these poisons as medicine. The idea is not to wallow in it, but taste it. The analogy that is made is – if there are 1000 bowls of sugar, you dampen your finger and put it into one, you get the taste of all the bowls of sugar. So when you really taste your anger, you taste the anger of all sentient beings. When you taste your sadness, you taste the sadness of all sentient beings. This opens us to universal feeling.
We all share the feeling of emotions and this is what we use to connect to other beings and self-reflect to our own experience valuing what it teaches us. This is how we start to have compassion. First with ourselves, then we can practice with others. We are not alone, your feelings aren’t unique, holding onto resentment, pain and hurt just creates the cycle of suffering. So GO into your feelings, this is the invitation to change how you relate to the feelings of loneliness, sadness, anger, disappointment. When you feel the “me” that is triggered, ask yourself, Is that who you truly are? What you are?
Who is wounded? What is wounded? What will heal it? Dissolve the ignorance of what holds you in your pain & suffering. OPEN to the potential of healing, grow and flourish, thrive in your life. Let go of the story and connect to the rawness of the feeling. Instead of going out, we go in. Breathe in for self-awareness and Breathe out tenderness, compassion, healing, light, love, breathe out as you. Compassion abiding, Tenderness abiding, Love abiding. Link to humanity and invite change with a fierce tender heart.
Sutra 1.33 states we should be consciously cultivating in practice
To whatever arises…learn to meet your pain and suffering with these intentions to one day able to see the truth within your humanity and meet it with indifference.
But until we can respond to what triggers us, we practice facing our reaction wakefully.
7 Stages of Liberation – Introduction
We as practitioners of Yoga step outside the flow of time, to awaken to experience the eternal blissful source of the underlining layers of all creation. We strive to enter moment by moment awareness as our focus becomes more refined as we continue to practice. What we truly are, was and will always be, our true nature that is joyous, light and always free from suffering. All Yoga is the returning to the source of this nature where we awaken to Viveka Khyati which is the discerning wisdom that leads to enlightenment. To experience this State of Yoga, we practice Yoga, trying to train the mind to attain the state of Prajna (light of intelligence) of buddhi (intuitive wisdom) that guides us to this goal. Patanjali states in 2.27 that at this point, Prajna and Buddhi develops in seven stages. He never specifically lists the stages, as it is an assumption on his part that his students are already familiar with these seven stages. There is a lot of commentary on what these steps are, however, and Georg Feuerstein lists a very simple blueprint in which we as practitioners can apply to our practice to create a powerful impact to lead us to our goal.
7 Stages of Yoga 2.27 Georg Feuerstein
Yoga Sutra 2.28 states through the practice of the 7 Stages to Yoga, whereby the mind has refined its focus and has dissolved the Kleshas blocking it from knowing the true nature of being, there arises Viveka Khyati, the illumination of discerning wisdom that leads to enlightenment and liberation. Though this seems an exciting level and state to attain, it is said that this is not the final liberation and there is considered further liberation to achieve while still living in a body. This suggests we should go back to step one and keep practicing. HA!
Shakti – Ananda – Power of Unsurpassed Joy
We practice to open the ability to see ourselves as our true self, SAT CIT ANANDA – your true nature is the existence of consciousness that is joyous, blissful and always free. The practice of Yoga directs your attention to your heart’s innate capacity to connect to tenderness, love, joy and envelop the whole of each experience in loving awareness, completely independent of circumstances. This love is fuelled by the deep understanding of the oneness of all beings and a true recognition that all are equal. This is that true meaning of Namaste.
Ananda is the energy expression of unbounded freedom, of being full, whole, complete, and at one with the rapture of blissful ecstasy. Ananda means supreme happiness, delight which is said to be our true nature. It is the energy of joy that pulsates with the power of expansive bliss that we have access to all the time.
Divine Feminine Shakti and Divine Masculine Shiva are at the centre of our study of Ananda. Celebrating his beloved Shakti as you, experience a dancing pattern of energy unfolding in our embodiment. This is so that consciousness reflects on her and expresses himself through you as joyous bliss experience (Ananda) of the divine play between her and her beloved.
Our practice is then ecstatic play of Shakti; awareness, joy, intention, knowledge, and wise action awakening to the infinite field of potential that is limitless, that we experience as Pure Consciousness within our lived embodiment. The techniques encourages us to constantly renew our sense of wonderment and curiosity for life, creating clarity of perception and create a rich expression of the deep purpose we cannot ignore. Our practice is like heartfelt prayer or expressions of what matters to us, what brings us joy, what we truly desire and develop the spiritual maturity to find connection with the Divine within and within all beings, emphasising on being of service to others and sharing these experiences.
These Shaktis will unfold naturally, in the way you can best assimilate them as you continue to practice becoming increasingly resplendent, radiant, illuminated beings.
Shakti – Kriya – Power of Action
Kriya Shakti is the Power of Action it is the force behind wise choices. Our ability to spontaneously manoeuvre without hesitation as we are conscious (Cit Shakti) well informed (Jnana Shakti) and have the resources of energy (Iccha Shakti) to fuel our actions with what we need to take to make things happen.
Action in sanskrit is Karma. Karma carries the notion that the fruit of your actions, comes back to you, you can’t escape the consequence of your actions. This is the concept of cause and effect. For every action, there is a reaction, for every choice there is a consequence. The cause behind your current situation is your past Karma. Your’e a sum total of all your choices and actions ever taken. That your current life is a continuation of the past.
Our opportunity in any given moment is to be mindful of what is (Cit) listen to our innate wisdom (Jnana), tap into the resource of energy we have (Iccha) to make better choices to serve our intention, purpose, desires that lead us closer to spirit, our truth and lasting fulfilment in our lived experience and it is said to have an impact on the quality of our present moment, our future and future lives.
3 Types of Karma
You as the Yogi is likened to the Archer. To be a good archer, one needs to practice over and over again refining the skill in making bow and arrows, storing the arrows, choosing the right arrow for the job and aiming then releasing them to the target. Your mindset, posture and what is motivating you all has a place in how skilful you take action to shoot your arrow or not.
There are 5 essential ingredients to be the Archer – Yogi
Shakti – Iccha – Power of Will
Imagine the wisest, most enlightened being out there with all the clarity and consciousness imaginable, exists. This person or being has studied the Sutras and knows their Dharma (as well as Artha, Kama and Moksha for that matter) but “can’t be asked” to put that knowledge to use and reach for enlightenment. Such a waste. Such is the importance of Iccha Shakti.
I always loved the Spanish word for this idea of will, it is called “ganas”, better translated as desire. A Yogi with no power of will (Iccha Shakti) is wasting their time. It takes a bit of work, a bit of “ganas” to even come close to a balanced life or the unicorn of enlightenment. To test your will, I will give you a mathematical formula for those that want to do the work:
⍷ + ⍶ > Ω where –
Added bonus to this practice – The above formula is the secret to life. Your intention of desire plus the intensity of energy you put into it, must be greater than the resistance you may internally have or the obstacles you may face. You must have the will to overcome the obstacles or you will never get over them. This is the power behind Iccha Shakti. If we are true to our practice, the goal of the activity is to embody all our experiences, be touched by the natural joy of being alive and embrace the shadow side without turning away. Iccha Shakti provides that energy to turn to what is arising, the challenge of being in the moment with whatever is present in a tender detachment.
SO that is all fine and good, but you may be an over-achiever, or a high-powered go-getter (lot of hyphens there). You may have no problem with lack of will and desire to overcome obstacles. You may have ganas oozing from your pores, well slow down there turbo. Its all about balance, or as I like to call it, the middle path. Hatha Yoga Pradipika warns “Graha Niyama” not to take things to an extreme that becomes an unhealthy motivation, an obsession that leads to self-abuse. This is where the Shaktis all come together and Yoga/Union loses its cliched identity.
All that vital energy (Prana) we will be cultivating in this practice needs a clear origin and purpose (see CIT Shakti) and a balanced approach by setting intentions (Jnana Shakti) and acknowledging just where that (hyper-, for the highly hyphenated) motivation might be best focused.
Remember that vital energy we call Prana has 5 steps –
1. Activation 2. Churning 3. Ignition 4. Concentration 5. Directing
Once you have harnessed the Power of Will (Iccha Shakti) those five steps must be rooted in the power of effective intention, a divine urge to create through joyous self-expression and a bright fire of energy to move toward what is most valuable and life-affirming to us.
Shakti – Jnana – Power of Knowledge
Jnana – Power of Knowledge. This is our capacity to know, to be informed, to comprehend and to have direct experience of knowing our truth and the truth of all reality. Beyond that understanding to take action from this knowledge gained and put it into the challenges we face in our lives.
With this practice we provoke a reaction (Tapas) that gives us an opportunity to understand ourselves and humanity (Sva Dhyaya). The Yoga Sutras (2.27) describe that we will all face nine reoccurring obstacles in life. These will definitely come up on the mat during this practice and this practice is your compass and your guide to face these obstacles off the mat. The obstacles might sound a bit familiar, they are;
Dullness, Apathy, Self-Doubt, Discontentment, Carelessness, Procrastination, Lead and Controlled by Senses, Instability, Lack of concentration.
With insight and self-honesty our practice gives us direct experience in applying the methodology of Yoga practice when we experience the pain and suffering of life getting in the way. The key to practice is to learn how to free ourselves from that reaction and respond in ways that align to a desired serene life (Nirodha). Our ability to let go and trust is key to practice (Isvara Pranidhana) and float in the enduring calmness that is always present.
Finally before you begin your practice, take inventory of what you are feeling at the present moment and place an intention on your practice with it’s opposite. The Negative Rasa and Positive Rasa find equilibrium and with any luck, you might just touch Nirodha.
The goal of this practice is to understand that the Energy (Shakti) of Knowledge is the key to navigating the human experience. You will use this understanding everyday and the more you practice, well, as the saying goes, the better you will be.
Shakti – Cit – Power of Consciousness
This might get a bit controversial in some Yoga circles, but I’m going to say it – Stability is more important than flexibility.
We come to understand this statement through our practice and focus on Cit Shakti. Cit Shakti is the Power (or Energy) of Consciousness and to elaborate on my statement, let’s use our Yoga mat as a metaphor for life. If we go through life bending and twisting to all the challenges life throws at us, great. Thats one way of doing it. You will have a long future of bending and twisting and finding ways of avoiding all that comes your way. However, the alternative is to create stability and to approach and be confronted by life’s challenges with an understanding and an awareness that is constant and is anchored in your core, it is who you are. The lens that you observe the obstacle is clear and you are unwavering because you knew that obstacle was coming or you have faced that obstacle before, but more importantly, you understand that obstacle and see it clearly.
Cit Shakti is the Power of Consciousness: to be aware of anything, the light of intelligence, wise wakefulness, light of our loving awareness, the mind that has expanded in the pure clarity of perception.
It is said that Consciousness embodies itself as all things, full of unbroken awareness.
In this practice we will work on stabilisation of the mind through Pranayama (as Asana is for the body) and use a focus technique called Drishti which will be our guide for a concentrated intention. When the fluctuations of the mind are totally (stable) profoundly still, you awaken at one with everything and all that is. This is called Samadhi. This is facing all challenges with a clear lens with intelligence and with light. No dodging, twisting or weaving out of the way, but rather stabilising the mind, cultivating more light to see what needs to be seen, using it as a teacher and reinforcing CIT Shakti where the pair of opposites (the balancing emotions, thoughts, beliefs) cease to exist as they become one within you.
This is a great practice to really focus on what Yoga is fundamentally, as a union. Finding the concentration to recognise the opposing emotion or belief that might be lacking and bringing it into your consciousness to create that balance and stability.
5 Principle Powers of Shakti Meditation
After studying Yoga/Meditation for a while, at some point (hopefully) there will be a strong inner urge (Iccha Shakti) to take up the study of yoga philosophy. As humans, we have intellect and curiosity, naturally there is a yearning to know more, to cultivate self- understanding/knowledge (Jnana Shakti) about our purpose of embodiment. Why we are here, how we can free ourselves more efficiently from that which causes pain and suffering and how to find more meaning to our lives. These are timeless questions we, uniquely as a species, battle with. Cit Shakti is the boundless field from which all things in the universe arise, that alight our eyes, mind and body. As we explore these ideas and find our own truths, as we use our practice Yoga (Kriya Shakti) to find discipline and explore a new consciousness we experience a dancing pattern of energy unfolding in our embodiment, this is that consciousness reflecting on herself and expressing herself through you (Ananda Shakti), a joyous bliss experience of the divine play.
To summarise the study of Shakti and what this series will focus on, the following ideas of Shakti must be emphasised. These are the Five Principle Powers of Shakti-
Jnana Shakti – Power of Knowledge: This is our capacity to know, understand, to discern, to be informed, to comprehend, to have direct experience of knowing our truth & the truth of all reality.
Iccha Shakti- Power of Will: power of effective intention, joyous self-expression, a bright fire of willpower, will to express, a divine urge to create, to move toward what is most valuable and life-affirming to us, the driving force that calls us to spiritual practice, that determination and commitment to keep going, being that unstoppable force.
Kriya Shakti – Power of Action: it is the force behind creative, dynamic activity, our ability to spontaneously manoeuvre without hesitation, to accomplish with effort, work and exertion, empowerment behind wise action
Cit Shakti- Power of Consciousness: aware of anything, the light of intelligence, wise wakefulness, light of our loving awareness, the mind that has expanded in the pure clarity of perception.
Ananda Shakti- Power of Unsurpassed Joy: It pulsates with the power of expansive bliss, this is an expression of unbounded freedom, of being full, whole, complete at one with the rapture of blissful ecstasy, supreme happiness and delight.
Through these powers of awareness, joy, intention, knowledge, and action, the infinite, limitless field of potential that we experience as Consciousness, takes form as the universe and all things in it. This is the expression of SHAKTI herself in play, on the macrocosm and microcosm of you and me.
Yoga is then ecstatic play of consciousness; a constant renewal of our sense of wonderment and curiosity for life. Our practice creates Tapas which is the heat for positive change that clarifies and creates a rich expression of the deep purpose to our practice. As we begin to refine the tools to practice, bespoking them to meet our needs of the day, we are able to manifest purposefully leading to lasting fulfilment, contentment and liberation.
Our intention for our study of Shakti is:
There is a light within meThat lights the whole universe (Cit Shakti)
That radiates absolute truth – Pure Joyous love (Ananda Shakti)
Boundless will and power to fulfil your heart’s desire, intention and purpose (Iccha Shakti)
It accesses skilful wise action (Kriya Shakti)
And is the source of all shared universal knowledge and wisdom (Jnana Shakti)
There is a light within me.
That lights the whole universe.
That radiates absolute truth.
Boundless will. Skill in action.
And is the source of all knowledge
Om Shakti, Om Shakti, Om Shakti Om Cit Shakti
Om Ananda Shakti, Om Iccha Shakti, Om Jnana Shakti, Om Kriya Shakti
Om Tat Sat – May it be so!
Sattva Guna Meditation
Sattva Guna is one of three tendencies, qualities, attributes of Nature called Prakriti. Rajas Guna is nature that is active, stimulating, filled with desire and leads to pain. Tamas Guna is nature that is heavy, dense, depressive and filled with darkness to sleep and leads to suffering. Sattva Guna is nature that is light, illuminating, clear and filled with peace and joy.
Sattva is not necessarily enlightenment itself but it unveils what is true and real. It shows itself as beauty, humility, clarity and inspiration, and it promotes life that is filled with faith, devotion and love. It optimises health and creates the feeling of contentment allowing for spiritual growth and an increased connection to consciousness.
Two stages in developing Sattva: 1. Purification of the body and mind Right diet, physical purification, control over senses + mind, mantra and devotion 2.Transcendence, to going beyond the body and mind to our true “Self” beyond a manifested form. To know and abide in the self as the self, free, liberated and enlightened by truthThis comes from dedicated practice of Yoga which includes meditation, yoga Nidra practices that lead us to Samadhi states.
This practice is with 2 types of Kriyas. Kapalabhati focusing on the Right and Left energy channels called Pingala and Ida, Kumbhaka bathing in inner light. Then AUM Kriya chanting to clear the central channel called the Sushumna to connect to the source of all light.
Questions to contemplate focusing on Sattva Guna. Does your practice make you feel more radiant? Does your practice connect to the fire of transformation? Does your practice allow you to see clearly? To have insight? Visions? Are you able to sustain the feeling created? Does the practice challenge you to be more self-compassionate, loving-kindness, positive self-talk? Do you feel your ego is “right-sized”? Can you let go of being a human “doing” and be a human “being”?
Tamas Guna Meditation
Gunas are the three interdependent modes, tendencies or qualities of Prakriti which creates the essential aspects of all nature—energy, matter and consciousness.
This class focuses on Tamas Guna that conceals the presence of consciousness. It is a force that we all can be affected by and it causes dullness, darkness, hopelessness, lack of inspiration, apathy, boredom, stubbornness and ignorance through its power to obscure the truth. It is said that Tamas is the darkest and heaviest density of ignorance (Avidya).
Tama’s nature is heavy. It creates lethargy, sadness, procrastination, self-doubt and depression in your being. However, Tamas guides us towards healing by providing the necessary rest, relaxation and sleep we need to have in order to function properly. Obviously a balance in Tamas is key for a healthy consciousness.
Tamas Guna is the Downward motion, Apana Vayu the movement of death, decay and cessation. It is associated with the Exhale, likened to the last breath we will take in life. There is a lot to be learned by studying the exhale pattern. We hang on out in the exhale when we feel tired, exhausted, drained and lethargic. But we use the exhale pattern to provide the necessary rest, relax, restore, renew & sleep we need.
There are going to be periods in life where grief, sorrow and trauma is like the dark veil that covers our mind, heart and humanity. Tamas is a part of the spectrum of life. Yin Yang. Good Bad. Right Wrong. Virtuous Non-Virtuous. Using the tools that Meditation provides to help manage this in a productive way is what this practice aims to accomplish. We will bring light to our shadow side and bath in the light of our true nature.
This Practice will focus on Rajas Guna which is the energy of change, movement and activity. It is distinguished by passion, desire, effort, drive, determination and energy as it is quite stimulating. In the extreme state, it creates turbulence, agitation, instability, restlessness, nervousness, anxiety, anger, jealousy, competitiveness, intolerance and other you may or may not relate with. A Rajasic state gives rise to emotional fluctuations of attraction and repulsion, acting out in fear and desire, love and hate.
Rajas is the Positive active forces that initiates change and outward motion. Its negative active forces can dry us up and burn us out. It can’t hold it’s own condition for long because it lacks stability and consistency.
Physically, Rajas is associated with Acute disease like an illness, infection, inflammation, trauma, headaches, fractures or pain. It is the movement either from health to disease or disease to health.
Mentally, Rajas is the middle density of ignorance. It creates our ability to involve ourselves in imagination, visions and fantasies. Obsessively this energy leads to more extremes of illusions, delusions, hallucinations, speculations, entanglement, complications and endless mental activity.
Type of People who are characterised as Rajasic are usually very active, A-Type, “Super achievers,” goal orientated and willing to “do something” about life, investing in being seen as a “human-doing,” producing and consuming more. The become limited by the ego which becomes attached to drawing on self-worth only by what is tangibly produced. Rajas creates the pain that binds us to the attachment of the fruits of action and to yearning for more sensory pleasures of every kind.
This meditation practice is using Kapalabhati Kriya and breath ratio with Kumbhaka which are holds to affect the Rajasic Guna, using its active force to direct to healing, inspiration and awake to our true nature.
Your practice should open up some things to ponder. Ask yourself, after practice;
Do you feel excited about life, do you have more insight into yourself, sustainable energy to create and spend more time enjoying life as it is?
Do you have a clear path to follow today?
Do you feel centred, content, focused and yet grounded to make healthier decisions?
Does your asana force you to adapt and navigate change utilising some of that energy?
If you make a mistake or are not able to do a pose can you still be nice and kind to yourself?
Do you really believe you are enough as you are, even if you struggle with the practice?
Does your practice leave you less restricted, stiff and more flexible (in more ways than one)?
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Gunas in Meditation
Welcome to the beginning of our discovery of the Gunas. In practice, this is where we explore the dynamic and static (holding) of Prana in our Kriya practice as well as shaping our breath to experience the play of relationship between our movement, our breath and the Gunas. Everything in this manifest universe is made up of three strands – Three Gunas – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Guna literally means “strand” or “fiber” and implies that, like strands of a rope, the Gunas are woven together to form all that is tangible (material things) and intangible (thoughts, emotions, energies).
Understanding the nature of the Gunas can move us to recognise our true nature, which is pure consciousness, shape our extreme imbalances back to a ‘middle path’ and skilfully navigate this human experience to evolve our purpose of embodiment.
To simplify the Gunas at this point-
Sattva – quality LIGHT, purpose to ILLUMINATE, nature JOY
Rajas – quality MOVEMENT, purpose is ACTIVITY, nature PAIN
Tamas – quality STABILITY, purpose is INERTIA, nature DESPAIR
Resting in STAR LIGHT guided mediation to drop into that profound stillness and unsurpassed JOY, bathing in the illuminated emptiness. Enjoy.
Live class 45 mins –
Andanamaya Kosha Meditation – Yoga Nidra
The fifth and final Kosha is called by Anandamaya. Within our metaphor of the lamp shade to describe the sheaths of the Koshas, this might be the lava-lamp shade where everything is bliss. Anandamaya means joy, bliss or extreme happiness. It is one of the highest states of being and we normally experience this state when we transition into sleep but also when we wake as in a deep meditation. I have offered this meditation as a Yoga Nidra in order to fully try and put you into that state of wakeful bliss and reach Samadhi or the pure absorption into wholeness.
The Andanamaya Kosha is the pure exploration of the causal body. We have moved beyond the Physical and the Subtle bodies and are now exploring our soul’s karma and unpacking it like the luggage we will carry into our next lifetime. At the same time once that luggage is unpacked we can feel the emptiness in order to be reminded of the fullness of the Subtle and the Physical. This is why the Koshas all work together and why progression of the Koshas is key. You need to work the kinks out of the Physical and Subtle bodies before experiencing the profound stillness of Anandamaya.
The Ananadamaya Kosha is where we heal. It is where we truly find the deeper experience of engagement refining and evolving each of the Koshas. Anandamaya gifts us the experience of wakeful wholeness, completeness and oneness freeing us from the bondage of the limiting ego.
Live class 45 mins –
Vijnanamaya Kosha Meditation Bhuta Shuddhi
The work we did in the last session with the Manomaya (Kosha) lays the groundwork for reaching Vijnanamaya Kosha, the 4th Sheath of the Kosha System. Vijnana means discernment, an understanding, one’s knowledge and intelligence of cognition. This is the mental action or process of acquiring information, knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses (Jnana Indriyas). This becomes the bridge between the physical and subtle body to the causal body. Gathering information from the external world inwards and receiving information from within to inform our outer world. It is said that this sheath is responsible for all inner healing, growth and personal development.
The idea of this practice is to purify and calm the physical, energetic and mental sheaths so one can connect to the Buddhi. This sense of inner knowing that comes from this wisdom body, composed of intuition, awareness and insight. Like the inner teacher or guide. It helps you create clarity as you listen to the whispering wisdom of your intuition.
Developing your Buddhi is said to be like the eyes of a hawk. You can see into the truth of reality, noticing all movement of thought, emotion and the subtleties of experience. This is called Viveka Shakti it is keen discernment, wise judgement, consciousness of the higher mind and will. This becomes the means of liberation, conscious practice detaching with love as we rest in the witness awareness.
In this practice we will learn to focus and stabilise the mind dropping into the witness and access a discerning intuition, Buddhi which will guide us through the stuff that arises and learn to watch the stuff as it falls away. We will use Pranayama Kriya techniques as a key component to this standing warrior and forward bend practice.
The symptom of disfunction of the Vijanamaya Kosha is that we feel trapped in a material universe subject to the roller coaster of emotion, thought and life events with its painful ups and downs. Unable to get off the ride, see the big picture or command life effectively.
In this practice we will bring a question we need answering into our meditation. Work through a Bhuta Shuddhi and ask our Wisdom Sheath for help then allow Buddhi to guide us. You will find in this practice we will experience Bauddhika Agni – Fire of Intelligence in the Vijnanamaya Kosha. It is the balance of Wise Judgement and Reasoning, through discerning what is truth/falsehood, good/bad, right/wrong, desirable/undesirable, pleasant/unpleasant. Then we need to focus on Vyana Vayu to circulate and distribute this light of intelligence, helping the function of the systems find harmony, balance and equanimity of the physical, psycho, emotional centres or Chakra; Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna. Re-visiting previous Kosha practices may be advisable in order for you to get the most out of this practice.
Live class 45 mins –
Manomaya Kosha Meditation Bhuta Shuddhi
The third sheath we will focus on of the Kosha system is the Manomaya Kosha. Mano refers to the mind and Maya means made-of, so we are studying here, the instinctual consciousness that holds our thoughts, perception, emotions and desire in the interactive layers of our Kosha system. Interactive because Manomaya is dependent on the other layers of the system but as we know, the mind is powerful and it can dominate the outer sheaths of Anamaya and Pranamaya.
This sheath is where our personality and ego reside. It creates the stories and illusion of the separate “I”, “me”, “mine” and “you” or “other”. The Manomaya is governed by thoughts in the mind, which are considered to have power to both construct and destroy your reality. We as Yogis know that the mind is the forerunner of reality. What you think and feel, your world becomes.
In this practice we will focus on two ideas to explore and shape our Manomaya Kosha; that of Managni – the mental fire and digestion of sensory impressions and Manipura – the will, power and ambition to fulfil our purpose. This practice will utilise forward bends and twists using binding techniques to enable you to hold your attention to what is at the forefront of your mind. Our goal is to produce transparency and clarity with Managni and Manipura and create a path for a healthy and balanced Manomaya Kosha sustained and nurtured by your practice.
Pranamaya Kosha Element & Energy Meditation Bhuta Shuddhi
The Vedas define Bhuta Shuddhi as an ancient tantric practice. Bhuta Shuddhi means “purification or refining the physical and energetic elements.” Bhuta referring to the Pancha Bhutas or Maha Tatwas which are the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space. Shuddhi means to cleanse.
This practice is a fundamental process in yogic culture that connects the physical, energetic and mental embodiment. The idea is that we connect to the physical elements within us, awaken to the energetic centres we call Chakras and create a clear pathway for Kundalini to arise from its dormant state at the base up to Ajña Chakra where all thoughts vanish, and the mind is left behind. What remains is only the awareness of pure consciousness bathing in the light of the source of all wisdom and knowledge.
Benefits of a Regular practice of Bhuta Shuddhi include:
Live class 45 mins –
Annamaya Kosha Element Meditation Bhuta Shuddhi
Welcome to the next 5 weeks where we will be discovering the Koshas. Koshas mean Sheaths – referring to the protective covering of a sword called a scabbard. They are coverings or layers over the true self, in this case called the Atman. This comes from the Taittiriya Upanishad that lays out a map, to guide us through the physical, subtle and causal bodies. The goal of studying the Koshas is to cultivate awareness, understanding and effective skills in maintaining, utilising and clearing these bodies…Living out our purpose (dharma) and refining our actions (karma).
This week we will focus on the AnnaMaya Kosha. Anna means Food, Physical Matter, Maya means “made of”, “consists of”, so a loose translation of the term AnnaMaya is “food body”. What you eat, you become and eventually, when you die, you will become food for someone else. The Annamaya Kosha is said to be made of the 5 Elements:Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether. Yogis understood the laws of nature to attain greater health, power, knowledge, wisdom and sustain a joyful embodiment. This meditation will connect you with each element, honouring and drawing energy from the manifestation within and outside the body.
Live class 45 mins –
Abhinivesha – Cave of the Heart Meditation
Abhinivesha is the last of the five Kleshas which are the mental-emotional afflictions that create persistent distress, pain and suffering in our lives. This particular Klesha is triggering and provoking as it stirs up our fears and makes us react in negative ways. Abhinivesha is the fear of loss, the fear of change and the fear of death. This can be the loss of a job, the change of a relationship status or the death of a loved one. Fear of loss, change and death is a suffering deep within our instinctual subconscious, hard-wired for self preservation as well as to avoid it with all cost. It is imbedded in our autonomic nervous system to protect us from danger. It is in all of us as our biological make-up whether you are wise or naive, educated or not educated, if you approach a cliff edge and peer down 100 meter drop you will have the same reaction to flinch, back away or avoid it, all the same. It is natural to want to stay alive.
So why is death so hard for us to face when it is a part of life? Everything has a beginning, middle and end. We can see this in nature, seasons, in our thoughts, emotions and life situations. Everything changes so why is change such a threat? Well…it’s the Ego…damn Asmita. Why would it want to be evicted from this home, our body? In the status quo it has a mind, opinions, beliefs, views, things to play with, even possessions. It has a personality, reputation and perceived importance in the world. Why would it want to let go of family and friends, a belonging, a reputation, possessions and/or the experience of love?
As long as we are ignorant (Avidya) of the impermanence of things, there will be an ego (Asmita) which is fuelled by attachment (Raga) and aversion (Dvesa). This ignorance will perpetuate the fear of dying (Abhinivesha).
To live and to fear, worry and try to control or resist the inevitable only creates more suffering and unhappiness. As Yogis, the practice is to pause, realise we have no real control when it is our time to die and trust in the process of life and death (Isvara Pranidhana). By practicing Kriya Yoga we can calm the Kleshas and face the unavoidable change.
This practice and exploration offers a deeper relationship to investing in what you are ultimately, SAT CIT ANANDA.
Live class 45 mins –
Dvesa is one of the five Kleshas which are the mental-emotional afflictions that create persistent distress, pain and suffering in our lives. This Klesha is the aversion of past experienced pain and suffering. It is natural to avoid things that are scary or may cause harm, however this Klesha draws our attention to what we are resisting to experience and is usually linked to a past experience of pain and suffering. There is a slogan that says “if it is a hysterical reaction, it normally is a historical one.” This insight into how our brains and body saves and stores memories of fear based information is a useful design to keep us safe and protected for future experiences. As we mature though some of these memories and our aversion to them limit us in our lives and our relationships it give us the illusion that we are free from that painful experience if we keep running away from it. There is another slogan, “what we resist, persists.” This resistance is felts as tension in the body and we contract reinforcing the other Kleshas to get involved forming resentments, grudges, dislikes, hatred, hostility, harmful judgement and more negativity. The solution is to start to look at the stories we tell ourselves that keep us stuck in the core false beliefs and if we can start to investigate and to look at the story in a different way. This technique is called Pratipaksha Bhavana, seeing the value and learning how to see the positive and to view our reaction of aversion as a useful opportunity to practice. This builds trust in ourselves to love and care for our past and present self, opening the possibility for healing, finding lasting fulfilment and freeing ourself from Dvesa.
Live class 45 mins –
Raga is one of the five Kleshas which are the mental-emotional afflictions that create persistent distress, pain and suffering in our lives. This Klesha is the addictive, craving, chasing, dwelling, feeling and a holding on to and attachment to previously experienced pleasures. Raga means colouring, likened to a stain on the lens of our perception which creates ignorance (Avidya). Raga seduces the ego (Asmita) through sensory and emotional worldly pleasures and identifies with the stain, reinforcing a progressive addiction to seek. It tends to pull consciousness out of the moment’s awareness and creates the illusion, that happiness will be attained if it is fulfilled. If the desire is not fulfilled then the experience of suffering arises – disappointment, let down of the expectation that it will FIX or SOLVE YOU. Desire is fine, just as long as we are not attached to the outcome. Raga gets triggered when we think we won’t be able to experience certain pleasures again, so begins the craving.
We will explore this complex dependency Kleshas with the Drishti technique of gazing and drawing our awareness to unconscious wandering and seeking Raga. The practice will create the desired heat for positive change as it provokes, triggers and awakens our attention to longing for more pleasurable experiences. We will combine mantra and point to point breathing to learn effective skills to self-regulate, sooth and create a pause to reflect, digest and release that which doesn’t serve.
Key questions to focus on during this practice are:
Live class 45 mins –
Asmita is one of the five Kleshas which are the mental-emotional afflictions that create persistent distress, pain and suffering in our lives. Asmita is the distorted sense of Self as it mis-identifies with the body, emotions and the thoughts we have. It reduces us to our likes and dislikes, what we can or cannot do, to our job, status, reputation, accomplishments and failures. It is the affliction that reinforces core false beliefs that we are not enough as we are, that you are not smart enough, beautiful enough, flexible enough, successful enough, etc. Whatever the thing is you think you lack or keeps you from seeing your true self is, Asmita.
With this practice we are going to progress and evolve on the first Klesha we worked on last week (the Avidya class). As we were provoked, disrupted and challenged the negative thoughts, emotions and memories that surfaced became our teachers as a result of the Kriya Yoga Practice.
To counter Asmita we need to recognise a healthy ego which is the experience of contentment. This practice will focus on states of change and how threats can arise when we face change and lose sight of the secure feeling of fundamental needs being met. A healthy ego is open, curious and willing to learn. However, most of all, a healthy ego is considerate, kind and compassionate not only to ourselves, but to others. It is said that innately we are SAT CIT ANANDA; existence – consciousness – joy. That essentially we are the experience of the light of awareness embodied that is Joyous. The intention for this practice will be to create the heat and physical discomfort consciously desired to burn through the old beliefs of who we think we are, guided by the light of awareness. Your focus will be to embody what you find as lasting contentment, fulfilment and freedom from your pain and suffering as a result of distinguishing, identifying and separating yourself from your Asmita.
Live class 46 mins –
Avidya Meditation Who am I?
This Kriya practice will help you dissolve the vail of Avidya (ignorance and misunderstandings) that impede your ability to see your life clearly. We will use strength building back-bends and the Mantra SO HUM.
The second chapter of the Yoga Sutras tells us that Kriya Yoga (Tapas, Sva Dhyaya, Isvara Pranidhana) reduces the Kleshas (mental-emotional afflictions). We will start our journey working with the first of the Kleshas Avidya which is the state of ignorance, misapprehension, misunderstanding and the blind spots that obstruct a true view of ourselves, others and the world around us. Using our practice to work with today’s pain/suffering that is felt, we will apply the suggested techniques to dissolve the distorted lens of perception. This will culminate with a meaningful connection to truth, sustainable fulfilment of understanding and ultimate liberation of our suffering. Who am I?
33 mins –
OM Asatoma Mantra Meditation
OM asato mā sadgamaya, tamaso mā jyotir gamaya, mṛtyor mā’mṛtaṃ gamaya Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.3.28
Guide me from untruth to truth, Guide me from darkness to light, Guide me from death to immortality.
Zephyr goes deep into the explanation of this particular mantra and hopes you feel the effects of weaving this mantra into your practice. Mantras can be a bit “marmite” for some, but if you haven’t tried a practice with mantra, this is a great one to “give it a go”. Long may the effects of this practice stay with you. You are star dust!
39 mins –
The Heart to the Method of Practicing Presence – Abhyasa, Vairagya & Viveka
When practicing the goal is not just to clear the mind of all thoughts and stop thinking rather you should try to increase your capacity to recognise when thoughts are present. Practice training your experience of conscious embodiment to rest in the present moment. This moment is the only time you truly can experience contentment, happiness, connection and awakening. To be present two things need to occur; to have the intention to be present and to turn the attention back to the present moment. Try to train the body, breath and mind like a puppy to sit and stay. The mind/breath/body-puppy will wander into the future and start planning your day, wander into the past and fix a problem of yesterday or fantasise about playing in the park with others. Try to devote a dedicated regular daily practice to lovingly train yourself like a puppy to sit and stay in the moment, building the mental capacity to rest in being, lessening the doing and awake to the truth revealed to us in moment-by-moment loving awareness.
Abhyasa is said to be a focused, diligent practice cultivating the authentic trait of stability in body, breath and mind. Vairagya is a letting go of sensory observation of what arising as thoughts, emotions and sensations. Viveka is the wakefulness of keen discernment as we practice turning our attention back to moment by moment awareness.
This practice works with progressively lengthening the exhale pattern for the desired effect of heat (Tapas), leaning into what is, letting go of that which does not serve and letting be in this moment.
Two different practices on the same topic.
45 mins –
30 mins –
Removal of Obstacles to Manifest Intentions
This practice weaves Asana, Pranayama, Mantra, Kriya and Mudra ( I know, a lot! Don’t be scared) into a Meditation experience to direct Prana to your New Year’s Intention. I will share a little secret with you as there is a simple equation to manifest your Resolution more effectively:
Intention of your Desire + Intensity of Prana > or = to your Obstacle
Working with the teachings from the Yoga Sutra (with a Tantric Twist) you will address the obstacles that you face preventing you from fulfilling your intention. I will help you explore some suggested solutions to remove those obstacles and build more vital Prana to direct it to attaining your hearts Intention.
Using the Deities Ganesha, Lakshmi and Sarawati to add a layer of sound, meaning and energy to the experience, Mantra is a big part of this practice.
Gayatri & Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra Meditation
This meditation will guide you through kriya (cleansing practice), mudra (sealing practice) & visualisation to embody the meaning of these two essential mantras.
The Gayatri Mantra is to connect to the light of purification and spiritual guidance.
oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, tat savitur vareṇyaṃ, bhargo devasya dhīmahi, dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt
“Earth, Ether, Cosmos let the most Divine Light guide my thoughts, intellect and intuition.”
“I meditate on the most radiant light of the Divine from which issues the triple world, physical, subtle and celestial, the light so bright that it removes all obstacles and impurities, inspiring and enlightening our minds.”
The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra as a prayer to rejuvenate and heal ourselves while practicing, reinforcing our dedicated intention to practice.
oṃ tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭi-vardhanam
urvārukam iva bandhanān mṛtyor mukṣīya mā ‘mṛtāt
“We meditate on the 3 eyed one – Shiva/Rudra which permeates and nourishes like a fragrance. Shelter and bless me with health and immortality. Liberate me from the clutches of death, even as a cucumber is effortlessly separated from the bondage to the creeper.”
Nurturing Smile Back to Belonging
This therapeutic session helps us to focus on the fundamental needs in our lives that, for whatever reason, are not being met; feeling safe, loved, belonging to and connected to. Nurturing ourselves back home into our embodiment during practice becomes an act of self-love by holding space for our shadow-side of our humanity and loving us through whatever surfaces. Those negative thoughts, feelings and attachments to our actions are there to teach us and exploring your shadow-side and working through those feelings in your practice can be a transformative experience.
This meditation practice will include Mudras which means seal. We will practice throughout a smiling Mudra to shape the breath to be kind, nurturing and patient and hand mudras which will connect us to their unique intention of ‘sealing’ the effects of the gesture within us.
Insights into the 5 Upayas 42 mins
The Union of practice; asana, pranayama and meditation should be grounded in mindful reflection called Vichara. This is how you, as the Adhikara (competent student), to take responsibility and accountability of what comes up in practice and skilfully use the Yoga tools to best move forward in your practice and your life.
The Adhikara is made up of 5 essential ingredients or skilful means called Upayas. These Upayas are 1. Shraddha: Faith, Trust, Serenity. 2. Virya: Strength, Courage, Determination. 3. Smirti: Memory of vital information, what matters most, higher purpose. 4. Samadhi: Absorption, Wholeness, Oneness. 5. Prajna: Illumination, Light of Awareness, Rootless Intuitive Wisdom. We will be exploring these attributes within you through Pranayama (breath work) and Asana (physical practice) moving into strong, strengthening backbends and a lateral practice, mixed with twists and nurturing forward bends.
Power of YES Meditation 28 mins
The practice of Meditation can be used to gain insight through reflection. In Yoga we call this Vichara; to take inventory, study, investigate or uncover the nature of the Self. This practice will challenge you to draw into the field of your awareness. The reflection on difficult and sometimes painful situations are encouraged specifically in order to practice using the Power of YES to self-regulate strong sensations, emotions and thoughts. You as the Yogi/Meditator embody the 5 Upayas (essential ingredients) to be able to skilfully manage the way you react to a triggering memory, detaching with love and responding by using the technique of YES.
The 5 Upayas to refine and develop are: 1. Shraddha: Faith, Trust, Serenity. 2. Virya: Strength, Courage, Vitality. 3. Smirti: Memory, Retentive Power, Reinforcing Intention. 4. Samadhi: Absorption, Unification, Wholeness. 5. Prajna: Illumination, Light of Intelligence, Rootless Wisdom. Vichara can be a great method of making your practice a safe-haven where everything is welcomed, celebrated and honoured. A Vichara practice is an opportunity to practice the path towards serenity, a tool to help you as the Yogi learn from your past and grow to celebrate it as a teacher.
Who are You? Insight Buddhist Meditation 25 mins
In this practice we explore the question “Who are you?” The practice of realising your true nature, what is behind the story of you and refining your relationship to the one who is perceiving moment by moment awareness. We recognise all sounds, sensations, thoughts and emotions are like the passing weather through the sky of your awareness. This meditation allows you to expand your horizons and help you understand who you are when you are not trying to be somebody but rather building a relationship to this wisdom of awareness and abiding effortlessly in loving wakefulness.
Vipassana – Developing Insight 33 mins
Vipssana is a traditional Buddhist meditation practice developing mindfulness to see clearly or to have insight into the nature of all things. This simple practice works by resting your attention in moment by moment awareness with less and less effort. We will practice wakefully breathing, observing sensation, and passing thoughts and feelings. This practice develops your capacity to recognise when you get lost in the story line, gently drawing your awareness to note and label what it is, then guide your awareness back to moment by moment presence. When you truly surrender to being here now, resting in the illuminated emptiness, you open your innate inner wisdom of knowledge seeing into the nature of everything.
Bija Mantras & Chakras 50 mins
There is much mis-conception about the Chakras. At the most basic level, they are wheels or vortexes within the body that both receive and radiate energy. There are seven of them and they start at the crown of the head and then are strategically found down through the body to the base of the spine. The Bija Mantras are known as the “seed sounds”, or the one-syllable sounds that activate the Chakras. Mantra is said to protect the mind and the use of these mantras is to spark a positive neurological effect within the body, energy and mind. We use the the Bija sounds to open us to the meaning of what these Chakras hold, empowering, motivating and potentially healing us through practice. I am not a singer so pardon the pitch and tone of my Bija Mantras, but I will try to express the sound and vibration of these teachings for you to explore your unique resonance and to harmonise the systems and to leave you with radiance from your practice.
Gratitude Practice 29 mins
The intention for this practice is to reflect on the past, present and future blessings. by connecting to sincere gratitude for the joys we experience in our lives. We honour our good fortune as well as the challenges, opening to the richness of our human experience. Refocusing on what we have, not what we lack. Join Zephyr in a deep dive into the delight of cultivating gratitude.
Forgiveness Practice 33 mins
Forgiveness cannot be willed. However through practice we can become open and ready to prepare our hearts, mind and body to forgive the hurt that may still be present. This practice focuses on the forgiveness from the harm you may have caused others, the harm you cause yourself and the harm others have caused you. Cultivating a forgiving heart takes practice, so continuing to repeat this practice in and out your meditation space is vital, reminding yourself of the very basic human goodness, the desire to be happy and not to suffer.
Granthis Knots Meditation 30 mins
This meditation explores the unravelling of the knots that bind us. Working with Pranayama Kriyas, Chanting and Visualisation we use these tools to work through the Physical, Energetic and Mental holding patterns that prevent the light of healing and intelligence of Prana from flowing freely throughout. This practice will clear the pathways to receive and follow our way back home in our embodiment, effortlessly abiding in loving awareness and dissolving back into the mystery of it all!
Loving Kindness & Prana Dharana Meditation 30 mins
This practice uses Buddhist slogans and kind touch to inform, nurture and absorb the meaning of the words to inspire you to be held in loving kindness. Zephyr will encourage you to practice R.A.I.N.- as you recognise what surfaces in your practice, allow more breathing room to air out your pain and to take a deeper dive investigating the root of your pain, nurturing it with loving awareness. Prana Dharana is the technique of focusing your concentration on the energy that is behind the breath; the source of boundless energy, inherently healing and inspiring. This technique will guide you deeper to where you feel able to rest peacefully in meditation.
Nadi Shodana – Pranayama 1 and Meditation 15 mins
Alternate nostril breathing is a technique that helps focus your attention and refine your relationship to Prana – Life force creating a clear path to find your way back home within as you meditate.
Nadi Shodana – Pranayama 2 and Meditation 17 mins
Alternate nostril breathing is a technique that helps focus your attention and refine your relationship to Prana – Life force creating a clear path to find your way back home within as you meditate.
Nadi Shodana – Pranayama 3 and Meditation 17 mins
Alternate nostril breathing is a technique that helps focus your attention and refine your relationship to Prana – Life force creating a clear path to find your way back home within as you meditate.
The Light Within You Meditation 15 mins
We don’t always recognise all the light we carry, however in this meditation, we start to live in accordance to this light. Empowering us to connect to the light that lights the whole world, that radiates the fundamental truth of the human heart; love. This light fuels us to attain our hearts desires and shines on the choices we must make to guide us on the path of our journey. Use this meditation to reconnect to this boundless resource of light and creative energy. Use it to discoverable the light that you carry.
Loving Smiles Meditation 15 mins
This meditation is one that is taught in the Buddhist tradition to connect to loving-kindness. Placing a smile to different parts of our body creates a positive neurological effect on our mind and body, the result is that we feel the warmth of that smile brought to our entire being. Love, kindness, belonging and safety are the emotions and feelings that are nurtured and encouraged in this meditation. Use this meditation to bring a smile to your life both on and off your mat.
HUM SA Spinal Kriya Meditation 16 mins
Meditation is said to bring the mind into a state of awakening into pure consciousness absorbed by the oneness of being. There are many techniques to guide students to this state and one is using mantra. Mantra is said to protect the mind by focusing the mind on the sound, vibration and meaning of the words. HUM SA is used with point to point breathing to have this affect of focusing your concentration and leading it to dissolve into the state of wakeful consciousness. HUM SA loosely means “That am I”, that being consciousness. Our Kriya practice will have us effortlessly observing without doing, bathing in that enduring calm of mediation.
Waves of Emotions Meditation 15 mins
This mediation offers you self-regulating tools to navigate a wide variety of difficult emotions we all feel. We can’t control all the storms in our lives, however we can learn how to sail safely through them. We use intentions to anchor ourselves and connect to deep trust as a compass to wait out the storm. In the meantime, we use breathing techniques to manage the swell of feelings, learning to breathe through them until the storm passes and we can again calmly experience the sea of serenity as a result of our efforts.
Stilling the Lake of the Mind Meditation 29 mins
This meditation offers you a way of stilling thoughts, feelings and energy of the mind by focusing them and stilling the mind like an expansive but calm lake. By diving into the depths of your being, the meditation becomes a healing tool for helping with anxiety and issues around control.
Elements Meditation 18 mins
There are five basic elements of nature; Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space (intergalactic medium that suspends everything in manifested form). This practice uses hand mudras in meditation to connect to these elements with the intention to experience them embodied and around us. The result of this practice should bring balance to the inner and outer ecosystem and to find harmony and connection within them.