“Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.
It is the ultimate destination and the journey is the reward.”
SOUND BODY ~ SILENT MIND ~ TRUE HEALTH
What is Spiritual Awakening – How is it Practiced?
Awakening spiritually is a profound experience, through which you realize who you really are and gain knowledge and awareness about that which is real. It is a journey that starts with the awareness of your sense of identity and leads to an identity transformation. Common signs of this awakening include feeling a deep connection with the universe, a strong desire to help others, enhanced intuition, and a shift in perspective. Other signs include an increased sensitivity to energy, a desire to learn, and a newfound appreciation for the b
Spiritual Awakening Yoga is an approach that honours the original intention of the founders of Yoga as its aim is the realization of the True Nature of Your Being. It is a practice that focuses on the spiritual aspects of yoga, rather than the physical postures. It is designed to help students deepen their connection with the spiritual world and gain an understanding of their true nature via experience. The practice includes meditation, pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), chanting, and visualizations, as well as asana/postures. The aim of this approach is to help students open their hearts and minds to their true Self, and to bring them inner peace, clarity, and joy.
see also: Seven Stages of the Spiritual Journey
and Spiritual Health as the Fullness of Emptiness via the
James with B K S Iyengar at Yogic Conference in Canada
James Traverse facilitates Nisarga Yoga and Yoga Nidra for Spiritual Health.
The two approaches highlighted in this article are:
- Nisarga Yoga
- Yoga Nidra
What is Nisarga Yoga?
Nisarga Yoga is a Hatha Form that is practiced in the light of the wisdom of Vedanta. Its focus is Yoga for Spiritual Awakening.
Classes include energy body postures and commentary on the Upanishads and Nonduality.
The real body is the energy body, not the physical body.
The physical body is an appearance – it is a form that energy takes.
Yoga means union. It is the union of the material and spiritual realms.
Breathing is the link.
~ ~ ~
Awaken Spiritually via
the Space of the Body
the Silence of the Mind
the Stillness of Yoga
the Solitude of Being
- Breathing is Breath Flow and Blood Flow. Form is made out of Flow
- Union with Flow is Yoga.
- Nisarga Yoga classes focus on Breathing, Asanas/Poses, Guided Relaxation Meditation and Authentic Being
- Breathing is the means and the end.
- Nothing in this universe stands still
- it is an Ocean of Motion
- as it Oscillates
- and Vibrates
- it is Energy-In-Formation!
- Breathing is Oscillation as Blood Flow and Vibration as Breath Flow.
- In this light Breathing Awareness is the means of Yoga/Union
- with the Flow of Life and of realizing the true nature of Being
- that is Always Available!
~ ~ ~
What is Yoga Nidra?
The Aim of Yoga Nidra is to Relax and Awaken Spiritually
Yoga Nidra helps you to Awaken Spiritually via the process of being awake in Deep Sleep.
It is a form of Relaxation Meditation that flowers as Spiritual Health.
This is experiential in nature, which means that there is not much more that I can say about it.
All Yoga Practice is a Form of Beneficial Mind Control
Yoga is a form of positive mind control.
The second sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras says,
“Yogas chitta vritta nirodhah”
“Yoga is the cessation of the whirl of the mind.”
In this light it is important to understand ‘What is the mind?‘
and ‘What is meant by a yoga asana/pose?’
What is the mind?
The mind has four aspects:
1) Manas, the ability to think; to conceptualize experience
2) Chitta – the mind stuff itself; it can be likened to the ocean and vritta its waves/whirlpool – it is also the content/storage of information as memory
3) Ahamkara – the ego as the mentally generated I-entity [the false ‘I’]
4) Buddhi – the higher mind; the ability to discriminate; the will
Thus yogas chitta vritta nirodhah is understood as ‘seeing through the mind’ rather than ‘seeing with the mind’
Two things are necessary for this quality of seeing as Buddhi, willful discrimination:
1) the mind must be silent, like a perfectly calm ocean;
2) the mind must be absolutely free of content, innocent; like the ocean water being perfectly clean/clear.
What is meant by an asana or pose?
Asana literally means “seat” – it means to “take your seat” and when this is translated as the word “pose” it means the biblical direction to “be still and know”. In other words “meditation”.
The understanding that flowers out of this practice is the other biblical expression, “I Am That I Am”or said another way, “I am the knowing by which I know that I am.” This is the experiential understanding of Nonduality.
Have you noticed that life is like the Flow of a river that you cannot push or stop?
Nisarga Yoga practise is a means of attuning with that Flow via Breathing and practice gives access to a higher intelligence than book learning and general knowledge.
That higher intelligence is called Buddhi, and action that arises with it is the definition of what the Bhagavad Gita speaks of as Yoga, which is that Yoga is skill in action. It is this skill in action that provides the widespread benefits to health and well-being, and simultaneously it is a way to understand the deeper questions of life like, “Who am I?”; “What is life – does it have a meaning?”; “What does it mean to be new?”
What am I?
The practice of Yoga Nidra answers this question via experience.
What is seen is that Consciousness is not a definable thing, yet it is not nothing. This fact is easily verified by your experience when you allow your mind to fall silent and note that at such times the Presence of Consciousness is self-evident. It follows via the same exploration that Consciousness is what you are.
Absolute freedom is natural being. Joy, peace, space, relaxation, etc. are attributes of your true nature. Ancient sages saw that most humans had lost this most basic freedom and they prescribed a means for us to rediscover our true being.
Yoga as described by Patanjali is what they prescribed and it is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Yoga is a vast art and science with many branches. Each branch studies an aspect of truth, and ultimately all branches foster the realization of the true nature of being.
Nisarga Yoga and Yoga Nidra practice is in the timeless present. It is the living process of exploring truth and understanding true being now. The practice is the means and the end.
The body-mind is a manifestation of truth, and it is innately intelligent. This intelligence, Buddhi, is one’s inner guru or teacher. The superior health benefits of yoga are extensive and are by-products of precise alignment and Choiceless Awareness, which are the foundation pillars of yoga practice.
True Health and Well-Being
Nisarga Yoga and Yoga Nidra are both Hatha forms. Practitioners explore their closest environment, the energy body and mind, via breathing and relaxation, the physical challenge and precision of Iyengar Yoga and the wisdom of Advaita Vedanta.
Yogic knowledge and wisdom has traditionally been transmitted directly from an authentic teacher to the student. Because it is experiential in nature, this is the best way to study this approach to the true nature of your being. The books, tapes, and videos available today are recommended as aids to compliment an established practice and at times when one does not have access to a qualified teacher.
What is yoga? Yoga means union. Breathing Awareness is the means.
The Four Yogic Paths to Awaken Spiritually Are: Jnana, or Gnana, Raja, Karma and Bhakti.
Travel these paths to realize Spiritual Health, which is a dimension of human wellness that integrates all dimensions of health: physical, emotional, mental, and social. This essential health cultivates altruism and ethics, and is based on individual perceptions convincing us of our ability to survive. It is the ability to be connected to something bigger than ourselves, to be open to life’s possibilities, and to be able to find joy in the present moment.
Meditation is Action in Stillness in Action
See ‘What is Meditation’ below…
“An improvement in posture and breathing is not the sole nor even the primary aim of yoga. Instead, it is either a therapeutic method of freeing the mind from false beliefs, or the insight into ultimate reality, the dharmas, achievable by this method. Yoga is an intrinsic and integrated system consisting of metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, the theory of knowledge, ethics and the philosophy of language.” ~ Patanjali [Patanjali is said to be the father of yoga].
Yoga is an ancient art and science that has many branches, all of which study the relationship/union of things.
Yoga is a way of seeing. It is in the very nature of a mistake to cease to be, when seen. Nisarga Yoga and Yoga Nidra are ways to access this way of seeing.
Both Nisarga Yoga and Yoga Nidra are means of accessing the higher intelligence of Buddhi, which is a way of seeing or understanding as insight or clarity. In this way, the practice of these approaches are the dynamic art of effortlessly dissolving barriers to reveal existing universal connections and to allow the full flowering of goodness and health.
Breathing Awareness is simultaneously the beginner’s and most advanced yogic practice, it is the master key to health and well-being, and, to understanding the mysteries of life.
Asanas (poses) are of a branch called Hatha Yoga. People have been practicing Hatha Asanas for thousands of years to promote inner peace, holistic health, and longevity, etc., and to rediscover genuine freedom and innocence.
Energy Body Asanas are the foreground activity that occur against the background of meditation, they are action in meditation and meditation in action.
Initially, the practitioner tends to focus on the physical precision and health benefits. However, the combination of the practice of Nisarga Yoga and the insight that unfolds out of the practice of Yoga Nidra directs the practitioner to attend to the energy body. In this way, attention to the energy body becomes a pointer to the meditative mind, which in turn flowers as the realization that the true nature of being is available now via experience.
Asana in Ashtanga?
Asana practice represents the third limb of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga [the eight limbs of Ashtanga or Patanjali’s Yoga are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi].
- The five Yamas and five Niyamas are foundational moral and ethical guidelines for Spiritual Health and Well-Being.
- Asanas focus on the Energy Body and Physical Body.
- Pranayama focuses on the Flow [Energy] of Breathing – the Breath Body.
- Pratyahara focuses on the Senses [Pratyahara is the switchover from attending to the objects of perception to attending to the perceiving itself.
- Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi focus on the Mind as Samyana-Total Attention [Dharana-Concentration, Dhyana-Meditation, Samadhi-Absorption – understanding the true nature of being].
Ahimsa is the key to the application of the Yamas and Niyamas as it means without violating natural order and this is so because the other moral and ethical guidelines naturally flower out of Ahimsa.
The other six limbs of Ashtanga concern
- Body – Asanas,
- Senses – Pratyahara, and
- Mind – Dharana-Dhyana-Samadhi
Also note that the link between the Body and Mind is Breathing – Pranayama and that Pratyahara is the Switchover of focus from the Body to the Mind via the relationship with the Senses [ also note that this Switchover is in sync with Breathing-Pranayam]a.
The spacious, silent, meditative mind is the explosion of Love. Love knows no separation. To it, far is near. It is not the one or the many, but rather that in which all division ceases. Like Beauty and Truth, Love, it is not of the measure of thought.
From pure stillness alone the meditative mind governs action, yoga is the choiceless awareness of this action as it animates the body-mind. Its movement manifests with flawless ease and harmony. This is the benediction that one is ever seeking.
In the absence of even the idea of absence there is Presence, the experiential understanding of this is yoga.
Nisarga, which means without parts, and Nidra, which means yogic sleep, are ways to realize this Truth.
A Frequently Asked Question
What is the difference between Kundalini Yoga and Spiritual Awakening Yoga?
All yogic paths are spiritual in nature. The aim of every path is to ‘Know Thyself’ the physical and health benefits of yoga are a byproduct of authentic practice.
Kundalini Yoga uses a kind of map of the energy centres that are connected via what are called the nadis or energy channels. The Kundalini approach is to attend to these energy centres. The process starts from the lowest energy centre located at the base of the spinal column and then the Kundalini energy is stimulated to flow upward through seven consecutive energy centres to the uppermost, called the Sahasrara, which is just above the crown of the head.
Spiritual Awakening Yoga is a more comprehensive approach as it acknowledges other approaches, like Kundalini, Kriya, Bhakti, Raja, Karma, and Hatha etc. yet its main focus is Ahstanga or the Eight Limbs of Yoga as described by Patanjali.
Who am I?
This question cannot be answered intellectually, which means via the mind, yet it can be understood experientially via practices like Yoga Nidra.
What is real?
Many sages have asked this question. The answer from the Rishis is that that which is real does not come and go and its reality does not depend on anything other than itself.
Are you aware?
What is important about this question is to see that you do not have to go anywhere to answer it as the ‘Yes’ answer is that self-evident.
What is Nonduality?
Nonduality is the wisdom of understanding that which is true and how it appears. This understanding is the focus of the practise of Spiritual Awakening Yoga.
What is Health?
Health is well-being on all levels.
Will yoga help me in my daily life?
Yes. If it doesn’t you have to change the approach. There are four main approaches that appeal to each of the four gerenal ways that humans appear. It is best that you explore to find the one or combination of approaches that best helps you.
What is the Energy Body?
The Energy Body is an envelope of energy that surrounds and supports the physical, mental and causal bodies. Some folks speak of this Energy as Shakti.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the Art of Being Still. This does not mean that there cannot be Movement, Sound or Shapes – For example: Dance is a Movement Meditation that does not disturb Stillness; Music and Song represent Sound that does not break Silence; and Art and Architecture are examples of shapes that do not displace Space. Anything done in Love is Love in Action is Meditation.
What is Freedom?
Freedom is Lasting Peace and Happiness.
What does it mean to be new?
To be new means to Be Welcoming of the Unknown.
What is Breathing?
Breathing is Breath Flow and Blow Flow.
Some of the Themes of Spiritual Awakening Yoga
Themes of spiritual yoga include cultivating self-awareness, seeking inner peace, and deepening the connection with the highest intelligence. Other themes include cultivating self-discipline, learning to be mindfully present, and acting appropriately as each situation requires. Additionally, themes of spiritual yoga include cultivating a sense of compassion and understanding, developing an attitude of gratitude, and embracing the journey of self-discovery.
Still other themes:
- Every sage has said, “Know Thyself.”
- Will practising this approach reduce my stress? … Relieve my back pain? …Can I be flexible?
- True Relaxation… The Ease of Being! Spiritual Awakening.
- What does it mean to Listen?
James Traverse is a revered student and semi-retired, senior teacher of Nisarga Yoga, who has over 40 years of experience in the practice and teaching of yoga.
James studied Iyengar Yoga with Lisa Schwartz for 8 years in the 1970’s and went on to complete many intensives, conferences and apprenticeships with senior Iyengar teachers in various locations globally. In 1987 he studied Iyengar Yoga directly with B.K.S. Iyengar and Geeta Iyengar in Pune, India. He began teaching on a full-time basis in 1985 when he moved to Halifax and founded ‘Iyengar Yoga of Halifax’.
In 1990 he moved to Victoria, B.C. where he continued to teach, and while living there he expanded his yogic studies to include Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir Shavism, with Jean Klein, a medical doctor, musicologist, and sage. James’ Advanta Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism [the energy body work] studies were from 1990-1996, in Seattle, Wash., Joshua Tree, Ca. and New York, N,Y.
Today James again resides in Halifax and teaches Nisarga Yoga, which is a blend of the technical precision of Iyengar Yoga, the energy body flow (the breath body) of Kashmir Shavism and the nondual wisdom of Advaita Vedanta.
Classes with James are available online and via this website.
Private Classes and consultations are by appointment.
James’ contact info:
phone: 902 702 3249
facebook: James Traverse