Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Handouts For Teachers
Program


Instructor/Facilitator


Yoga Dictionary


Handouts


Links





UniWeb Design - Animated Unicorn
UniWeb Design Tallahassee, Florida USA
Florida State University Certified Webmaster
Teaching Handouts
Compiled by R. John Allcorn


H - M

Basic

KARMA
Contributor: Dorine Owens
“Ekam sat vipraha, bahudha vadanti.” (Rig Veda)
[“Truth is one, the wise call it by various names”]

A man ignores a homeless women begging on the street as he begins to cross a busy intersection. A truck fails to stop and hits him. This is instant karma as the Beatles referred to it. Also, in western civilization karma can take on a negative connotation. For example, "karma is gonna get you" as if it is something to fear. Neither instant karma nor negative karma explains what karma really is.

Eastern Philosophies teach that everyone lives a series of lives. Reincarnation is a "never ending cycle of births and deaths." (Feuerstein, Georg. The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, p234) As our soul (purusa) leaves one life and incarnates to another, it takes with it the lessons and experiences learned as well as the accumulated karma. According to the Shambhala encyclopedia, Karma can be thought of in three ways:
1) Your total stock in karma deposits
2) Karma that has come to fruition in this lifetime.
3) Karma developed in this lifetime that will come to fruition in the future.

Between lives the soul will stop off at the "karma bank" to withdraw from the karma stock for the next life. The soul then uses the withdrawn karma. For example, a child abuser may choose to come back as an abused child so that she may balance the karma and better understand her past actions. This withdrawn karma is responsible for an individual's birth, span of life, and life experience. Karma stock must be transcended for enlightenment to occur.

With karma, there is no confession nor forgiveness. The three forms of karmic acts are action, speech and thoughts. Every act could have a direct result on your karma. Some acts may be considered neutral, for instance, walking across the kitchen. Words also have tremendous power and should be used with caution. Who hasn't hurt someone's feelings or been hurt by someone's words? Even our thoughts can have an effect on our karma. Modern psychology recognized and stresses the power of thought. Negative thinking often results in negative consequences. For the most part, actions have karma results.

According to Satchidananda, in our life’s journey towards realization, each body is our soul’s vehicle. Each vehicle will be chosen by us. A happy life or unhappy life is our own creation. Nobody else is responsible.

Top of Page
Intermediate

KARMA
Contributor: R. John Allcorn
“Ekam sat vipraha, bahudha vadanti.” (Rig Veda)
[ “Truth is one, the wise call it by various names”]

The most common synonym for karma is probably results. Karma is the result of any action, any word spoken, or any thought generated. All actions, words, or thoughts are considered karmic acts. There is no way to avoid karma. There is no “forgiveness” nor is there any way to lessen or weaken any karmic act. Karma is as natural and amoral as gravity. Gravity holds us on our planet and breaks our favorite dish. It is handy, although inaccurate, to label some karma “good” and other karma “bad.”

Feuerstein presents three kinds of karma: (1) sancita-karma, (2) prarabhda-karma, and (3) vartamana-larma. (1, 150) Satchidananda presents different Sanskrit words and meanings which highlights the difficulties in translating Sanskrit and the challenges we students face when studying Yoga. (2, 96) For this discussion, we will refer to Feuerstein’s translation.

(1) sancita-karma is “the total accumulated stock of karmic deposits (ashaya) awaiting fruition.” (1, 150) This is the “Bank of Karma” that we visit between incarnations. We look at the balance sheet and choose what karma to bring with us and work on during our next life.

(2) prarabhda-karma is that karma “which comes to fruition in this life.” (1, 150) This is the karma we withdraw from the Bank of Karma and bring with us. So, when we are born, we already have karma to be addressed. We begin working on this karma before we are born. For example, we may choose the parents we have in order to address some karmic debt.

(3) vartamana-larma is that karma acquired during the present lifetime and that will bear fruit in the future. This undermines John Lennon’s idea of “instant karma” referred to in the Beatle’s song Instant Karma. On the other hand, Satchidananda says that karma “may bear fruit now or in a future life.” (2, 96)

Ever heard someone say something like, “Look at his life. Must be good (or bad) karma.” This may be somewhat accurate since it alludes to the purusa trying to find a karmic balance. Let’s take a look at how this might work. Suppose you have been beaten or raped by someone. Since this is clearly a karmic act, your response can build up “good” karma or “bad..” Your purusa is using the perpetrator to help balance your karma from some or one previous act, most likely from a previous incarnation. So, you could actually be grateful to the perpetrator for his or her assistance in balancing you karma. If you respond with love and compassion you might also realize that the perpetrator is also significantly effecting his or her own karma and you could feel sympathy for the perpetrator’s future troubles. If you are able to feel both gratitude and sympathy for your tormentor, you will surely build up some “good” karma. Sutra 1, 33 in the Yoga Sutras says, “If we can be pleased with others who are happier than we, compassionate toward those who are unhappy, joyful with those doing good, and remain undisturbed by the inconsiderate or evil acts of others, our minds will be very tranquil.” (4, 159) And we will certainly build up “good” karma.

* Most Eastern thought refers to only one life, not multiple lives, and that is the “life” of the purusa. Individual “lives” are best referred to as incarnations.

WORKS CITED
1. Feuerstein, Georg. The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga. Shambala Publications, Inc. Boston, 1997.
2. Satchidananda, Sri Swami. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Integral Yoga Publication. Yogaville, Virginia, 1978/2001
3. Thurman, Robert. Infinite Life. Riverhead Books. NY, 2004.
4. Desikachar, T. K. V. The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice. Inner Traditions International. Rochester, VT, 1995/1999.

Intermediate

KARMA AND THE BIBLE
Contributor: R. John Allcorn
“Ekam sat vipraha, bahudha vadanti.” (Rig Veda)
[ “Truth is one, the wise call it by various names”]

The example given in the previous handout may have been somewhat startling and you may think that this idea is just too far “out there” or just too weird. But it may not be as unusual as you first thought. There are similar ideas in the Bible.
In The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 5:44, Jesus says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” And in Matthew 5:39, Jesus says, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on they right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
In The First Epistle General of John, 3:14-15 it says, “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

Top of Page
Intermediate

KLESAS/KLESHAS [clay-shuh]
Contributed by: John Allcorn
Obstacles to Self Knowledge

Klesas:
Translated by Desikachar as “Obstacles.” The Yoga Sutras name 5 obstacles: avidya, asmita, raga, dvesa, abhinivesa. These are obstacles to self knowledge that throw a cloud over your ability to see inside yourself and to discover the “God within” or purusha. They prevent your mind from being balanced and calm. (John Allcorn)

Klesas In the Sutras: (Sutras 2.1 through 2.28)
In Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras the first 28 Sutras deal with moving from unbalanced, scattered thinking to balanced, focused and calm thinking. (NOTE: Sutras 2.29 to the end of Chapter 2 introduce the 8 limbs). These first 28 Sutras describe the klesas and how to void them.

Sutra 2.1 and 2.2 explain that by the practice of Krya Yoga we can minimize the effects of the klesas and attain Samadhi (the 8th limb). Krya Yoga includes the practice of tapas, svadyaya, and isvarapranidhana.

Sutras 2.3 through 2.9 describe the klesas and Sutras 2.10 through 2.28 explain specific ways to recognize and reduce the impact of klesas which includes and explains the use of gunas to move toward clarity of conception.

Avidaya:
Avidya means “not seeing clearly” and has two distinct applications. First, the more esoteric, is that condition caused by the other Klesas which prevents us from seeing within. Secondly, however, is a more practical and more applicable definition: not seeing this world in a “rational” way. This would be like expecting a 2 year old to sit quietly at a table with adults for an hour without getting “antsy.” Or expecting a politician or salesman to be perfectly honest. In this sense, Avidya is unrealistic expectations.

“Avidya is the root cause of the obstacles that prevent us from recognizing things as they really are.” (1, p 11-Figure 1)

“The first klesa is Avidja (ignorance). Somehow we don’t want to see the things as they are in life. We want to see things in this world as we want them to be....You should accept a thing as it is but you are not doing that.” (20, p.8)

Asmita (Ego)
A popular definition of a human is “a spiritual being enjoying a physical existence.” If that is even close to what we are, then seeing yourself as a teacher or doctor or even a mother or father, is “ego.” The “true you” may be behind layers of ego and misconception. (John Allcorn)

The ego (asmita) is “the root of ignorance....The ego is the sense of ‘I’ as separate from the rest of the world.” (7, p67)

“Second is Asmita (Ego). We are so attached to things” that we identify ourselves with those things. (20, p8)

Raga (attachment/greed)
Reasonable attachment is not admonished in Yoga. It is when an attachment prevents you from reaching within yourself in your spiritual pursuits that attachments become Raga. (John Allcorn)

“What we do have is not enough and we want more of it. We want to keep what we are asked to give away. This is raga.” (1, p 10)

“When a man knows that his Atman; Is the Atman in all creatures,; Then let him act,; Untainted by action.” (2, p 57)

“All work becomes equally and vitally important. It is only toward the results of work–success or failure, praise or blame–that he [the Yoga adept] remains indifferent.” (2, p 139)

Dvesa (cf. Klesa)
Dvesa refers to fear of the past or memories. Just because something has happened once does not mean it will happen again. Common sense must obviously be applied, however. It is always reasonable to be cautious without being fearful. (John Allcorn)

“Fourth [sic] is Dvesa (Aversion).... You have no right to dislike something. That’s very clear.” (20, p.9)

Abhinivesa
Abhinivesa refers to a fear of the unknown or future. Being afraid to do something that is outside past experience. This is a “normal” human behavior. It is said that the only human who enjoys change is a baby. When this fear of the unknown restricts our spiritual pursuits, it is Abhinivesha. Abhinivesha is often manifested as a lack of confidence or insecurity.

“Lastly, the fifth which talks about Abhinivesha (Selfishness, Love of life, Holding on to self) not accepting changes in life, little change and you get upset.... Holding onto your own opinion.”

The Bhavas
The “Bhavas” help one overcome the Kleshas. (20, p.44)

Dharma, Jnana, Vairagya, Aishvarya are the Bhavas, the feelings which you have to generate...whenever you are doing asanas.”(20, p.47)

Dharma is duty. When doing asanas, “the state of quietude becomes our duty because without that experience, you wouldn’t be able to go further.... Self Direction, constantly directing ourselves, is our duty. Constantly developing our awareness is our duty. All those postures which help us to become introverted fall into this category of duty, Dharma. ” (20, p46) First duty is towards your self. Second is towards your near and dear, your children, your husband. Third is towards your work situation. Fourth is towards society and fifth is towards the nation.” (20, p.182)

Jnana is knowledge. “We have to know more about our own body, our own self. We have to understand our personality more and more.... All Asanas which require neuromuscular coordination and balance...deepen your concentration, then you will be able to progress faster. So, this is Jnana, which needs concentration, only with concentration and knowledge is it possible to gain a deeper understanding of yourself.”(20, p.46-47)

Vairagya is a humble attitude to control ego. “All forward-bending postures go in this category where you are naturally trying to humble yourself.... This includes relaxation poses.”(20, p.47) Such a humble attitude can help one release negativity or the effects of negative acts one witnesses during the day. This release can be done while practicing the forward bend.

“Real love will only come when a person is totally disinterested in life, when Vairagya comes in.”(20, p.165)

Aishvarya is “willpower or self-reliance.” “So, all backward bending postures and all Kryas, like looking after your eyes or nose or ears etc.”(20, p.47) While practicing back bends and other strengthening asanas, you can consider your own beliefs and mentally strengthen or reinforce them while strengthening your physical body.

1. Desikachar, T.K.V., The Heart of Yoga: Developing a personal practice. Inner Traditions International. Rochester, VT.
2. Prabhavananda, Swami and Christopher Isherwood, Trans. The Song of God Bhagavad-Gita. The New American Library, Inc. N.Y. 1972.
7. McAfee, John. The Secret of the Yamas. Woodland Publications. Woodland Park, Colorado. 2001.
20. Yogendra, Jayadeva. The Yoga of Caring. The Yoga Institute. Mumbai, India, 1997.

Top of Page
Basic

“Meditation”
Contributed by: John Allcorn, M.A., E-RYT

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, meditation is defined very clearly and narrowly. For Patanjali, meditation is when one has mastered control of the senses and thoughts. Since this usually takes years, where do we start? We start where most adept meditators start: with Focused Awareness and simple Relaxation.

Focused Awareness is concentrating on something that you are doing to the exclusion of all other thoughts. The idea is to focus on your action until a thought or something else disturbs your concentration. Then, without judgement and especially without self criticism, shift your focus back to your chosen action. This can be done for any action at any time of the day. See the back of this sheet for suggestions on how to start.

Relaxation is just as easy to start practicing as Focused Awareness. One difference is that you are more settled while practicing Relaxation. Although it is possible to practice relaxation while standing, it is far better to be seated. See the back of this sheet for suggestions on how to start.

In Relaxation and Focused Awareness, the emphasis is on the body although the mind certainly does join in and becomes calmer. The goal is to keep your mind “in this very moment.”

BENEFITS OF RELAXATION/MEDITATION

DURING RELAXATION/MEDITATION
In 1968, Dr. Herbert Benson and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School scientifically proved that: (1) Heart beat and breathing rates slow down. (2) Oxygen consumption falls by 20 percent. (3) Blood lactate levels drop. This level rises with stress and fatigue. (4) Skin resistance to electrical current, a sign of relaxation, increases fourfold. (5) EEG ratings of brain wave patterns indicate increased alpha activity, another sign of relaxation.

FROM REGULARLY DOING RELAXATION/MEDITATION
Dr. David Orme-Johnson studied the long-term effects of meditation on health and found:
Meditators need only half the average amount of medical attention
87% reduction in heart disease and nervous system disorders
55% reduction in tumor occurrences
30% reduction in infectious diseases
visited the doctors 44% less often
admitted to hospitals 53% less often

HOW TO BEGIN FOCUSED AWARENESS:
It is best to choose one action and practice only that one until you have nailed it. Start with an action that takes only a short time and then move toward lengthening the time. A good place to start is when flossing your teeth. Try to floss without thinking of anything else.

RELAXATION - PHASE I
You can begin by simply stopping a regular activity and closing your eyes. Begin by focusing on your belly and let your belly soften. Breathe in and out from your softened belly. Then, let your shoulders drop and feel them soften. Then, focus on your tongue and let your tongue soften and spread across the floor of your mouth. You can start practicing this while waiting at red traffic lights. Keep your eyes half open and watch the brake lights of the car ahead so that your don’t disturb those behind you. Here’s the surprise: it will feel so good when you have to move that you will actually begin to look forward to stopping at red lights instead of feeling a little frustrated.

RELAXATION - PHASE II
Phase II Relaxation is just a bit more structured and can get you even more relaxed. Find a place where you can be alone and undisturbed for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the telephone and any other distractions. If you share your home, ask others not to disturb you.
Begin by sitting on the floor in a comfortable position with your back up straight. If your back has a tendency to round or slump, place a cushion or small pillow under your “sit” bones. If sitting on the floor is not a comfortable option, sit in a straight chair with your feet on the floor.
Rock briefly from side to side, then front to back and establish the point at which your torso feels balanced on your hips.
Close your mouth and breathe through your nose. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Breathe only into and out from your belly keeping your mouth closed and your chest still.
With your eyes closed softly, take several “letting go” breaths. Then allow your breath to soften and fall into a rhythmic pattern. Focus intently on your breath to the exclusion of everything else.
Become a passive observer of your experience. When thoughts and feelings arise, dismiss them without judgment.

Top of Page
Intermediate

DEEP RELAXATION AND MEDITATION
Contributed by: by John Allcorn, M.A., E-RYT

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, meditation is defined very clearly. The Sanskrit word Dihanai is usually translated as meditation and functions as Yoga’s official definition. Patanjali defines Dihana as the mastery of Pratyahara and Dharana. Pratyahara is mastered when one has complete control over one’s senses during the meditative process. Dharana is mastered when one has complete control over one’s thoughts during the meditative process. Since the mastery of these can take many, many years, where should you start? With Deep Relaxation.

Deep Relaxation is both attainable within a reasonable time and is extremely beneficial. With the uninterrupted practice of Deep Relaxation over a relatively short time (months rather than years) you can notice dramatic changes, changes observed by others as well. You will become more rational in your thinking and will thereby make better decisions and be happier with your decisions. You will be able to interact with others more effectively and more compassionately and gain a deep sense of satisfaction from your effective interactions. You will even drive better with more focus on your driving and with more focus on everything else you do. You will become healthier and sleep better as your stress levels drop dramatically.

When jogging, your metabolism rises and remains higher throughout the day even when you are not jogging. With Deep Relaxation, your mind calms and you remain calmer and more rational throughout the day. See the back of this sheet for suggestions on how to start Deep Relaxation.

Meditation is a powerful practice that should be done only after years of uninterrupted Deep Relaxation. It requires the mastery of both Pratyahara and Dharana. The Mastery of Pratyahara is achieved when one is able to keep the natural input of the senses from interfering with one’s concentration on one’s chosen object of meditation. Satchidananda, in response to Sutra 2,54, says that “You shouldn’t delude yourself into thinking you’ve gained mastery after even a few years of practice [of Pratyahara].” An “object of meditation” is just about anything. In some cases, it can be a physical object like a flower or a candle. Usually, however, it is a mental picture or idea. One can imagine a sunset, a loved one, a holy person or the concept of love or friendship or devotion. One should choose a object for meditation and stick to that object.

Mastery of Dharana is, without a doubt, the most difficult challenge to undertake. It has been referred to as “taming the wild monkey” since taming our mind and our thoughts is as easy as taming a wild monkey: nearly impossible. Nevertheless, with uninterrupted practice and appropriate guidance, progress will be made.

HOW TO START

DEEP RELAXATION:
Find a place where you can be alone and undisturbed for 15 to 30 minutes. Turn off the telephone and any other distractions. If you share your home, ask others not to disturb you.
Begin by sitting on the floor in a comfortable position with your back up straight. If your back has a tendency to round or slump, place a cushion or small pillow under your “sit” bones. If sitting on the floor is not a comfortable option, sit in a straight chair with your feet on the floor.
Rock briefly from side to side, then front to back and establish the point at which your torso feels balanced on your hips.
Close your mouth and breathe through your nose. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Breathe only into and out from your belly keeping your mouth closed and your chest still.
With your eyes closed softly, take several “letting go” breaths. Then allow your breath to soften and fall into a rhythmic pattern. Focus intently on your breath to the exclusion of everything else.
While continuing to breath rhythmically, begin to relax your muscles while exhaling. Focus intently on this. Gazing at a fixed object such as a flame or flower can also anchor Deep Relaxation.
Become a passive observer of your experience. When thoughts and feelings arise, dismiss them without judgement.

MEDITATION
Meditation may occur as you become more and more practiced in Deep Relaxation. To begin serious meditation, it is recommended that you seek and find a “meditation guru” who is well qualified to guide you in the intricacies and complications of serious meditation.

Top of Page
Basic and Intermediate

Mountain Pose
Contributed by: R. John Allcorn M.A., E-RYT

TADASANA or TALASANA or PARVATASANA

The use of “The Mountain Pose” to describe the standing pose with the arms flat against the sides pervades most of western yoga literature including the most-respected and admired of writers and scholars like David Coulter in The Anatomy of Hatha Yoga and Joseph and Lilian Page in Yoga Teacher’s Toolbox. The problem is that there is no Sanscrit word that transliterates as tadasana or “tad” or tada that comes even close to meaning mountain. The closest word to tad would be the Sanscrit word referring to a tree, although the pronunciation sounds a lot more like “tard.” The Sanscrit word tala, however, can be transliterated palm (tree). This does seem to make more visual sense because the pose looks far more like a straight and narrow palm tree than a mountain.

The Sanscrit word for mountain is closer to the transliterated word parvata. So, it seems that we here in the west have been, for years, misnaming a very popular and common asana. According to Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra of the Yoga Institute in Mumbai (Bombay) India in his book Cyclopaedia Yoga Vol. I, the Mountain Pose (Parvatasana) is a seated pose combining the Lotus pose with the with raised arms and the palms together. Once in the pose the student may lean forward, backward, side to side or rotate around for a spinal twist. This pose also makes more visual sense because the legs form the base of the “mountain” and the raised arms form the pointed top.

The attached pages from Yogendra’s book mentioned above give more details of both Talasana and Parvasana.
Top of Page


CONTACT: R. John Allcorn, M.A., E-RYT
727-463-5975
allcorn@tampabay.rr.com

Lotus Flower