Astanga Yoga London

20th of Jan 2021
20th January 2021

At the last conference, (there will be more) we covered a variety of subjects and after some reflection I felt I could add more or at least put it in writing. Plus there is a book list at the end.

There was a question about drishti, which comes up regularly. It’s usually the last part of a triad of breathing, bandha and drishti. So it’s usually forgotten, or at least easily forgotten. There are precise points to look at for each asana, and over time there have been changes. To my mind it’s the act of keeping your eyes on one point that is important and that because we are doing a spiritual practice drishti has a further emphasis. It’s the focused view of something now and a long view. Of seeing God in all the odd places, fingertips and toes.

Pranayama gets asked about frequently. I usually teach it to students who have completed intermediate. It’s wonderful but also difficult. It feels somewhere between meditation and breath control. It requires a lot more focus than normal. You quickly realise how the mind slips away.

It leads on to the moment between breaths and I suppose the concept of now. Recently I read a few answers to what is now. It ranged from a continuum to future memories to a variety of time lengths depending on how you measure consciousness.

The books we picked, and a few more.

Louise’s choices were:

Bhagavad Gita for westerners by Jack Hawley, Upanishads by Eknath Easwaren, Path with a heart by Jack Kornfield, Yoga sutras by Satchidananada, Mudras by Gertrud Hirschi, My life in orange by Tim Guest.

We both by chance chose Hatha Yoga by Theos Bernard. As an historical book it is fascinating to read.

The books I would recommend are as follows:

Obviously Yoga Dharma, for understand the yoga sutras louise’s choice is good but I’d also recommend Edwin Bryant and Barbara Stoler Miller. For the Bhagavad Gita Eknath Easwaren does a nice translation and also a ‘guide to…’ I like also Roopa Pai’s kids edition and she has also done a good translation of the upanishads. Getting a really good translation of the Gita is difficult as all the authors disagree on who’s is the best and it really depends on your personal preferences. But I’d recommend if you want more depth the following. ¬†Feuerstein, Radhakrishnan or Zaehner. For Mahabharata and Ramayana you could do well with Devdutt Pattanaik.

Over the years I have read thousands of books on yoga and related subjects. And to be honest as amazing as they are and how lucky I’ve been to have the time to study so much I still return to the same source books. Yoga sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the upanishads.

There is another section of book which we can call hatha yoga which often describe asana. Hatha yoga pradipika being the most well know. When I first moved to London I managed to get a five year study pass at the British Library and I spend many late mornings there researching what ever hatha yoga books/manuscripts they had. So over the next few posts I’ll go over some of the other books available.

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