Before I explain why you don’t have to be a vegetarian to practice Yoga, let’s lay a foundation of where this idea comes from. Patanjali was an ancient Hindu sage who compiled the science of Yoga in a systematic manner. So, Yoga has to do with Hinduism when considering its origin. When studying the many aspects of Yoga, because of this origin, regardless of who you are and what your origins are, the information will be getting to you throughout this lens of Vedic Hindu tradition. As a first step in this Vedic Hindu tradition of disciplining the body, and thence, the mind, the Asanas are one way through which we get initiated into Hinduism, like it or not. But if you actually pay attention to the philosophy of Yoga and comprehend the teachings, it stops there as far as the practitioner either becoming Hindu or even merely imitating Hinduism. Yoga, although born of Hinduism, goes far beyond its origins and cannot be described rightfully and respectfully if it stays in the limited context of Hinduism.

Yoga is not an all-or-nothing kind of commitment. You aren’t expected to retreat into a cave wearing monk garb, cutting yourself off from society once you begin Yoga practice. This is also why although vegetarianism is suggested in Yoga teachings, it is also taught that Yoga is not about restricting yourself from what life has to offer and therefore vegetarianism is not required. To think it is required is to misunderstand the yogic path.

So it isn’t good or bad to be a vegetarian, but rather what you feel is right for you. What is bad is only what kind of vegetarian or non-vegetarian you are. Whether or not you eat meat is less of an issue than the quality of what you are putting in your body. Definitely don’t confuse vegetarianism as something that is right or wrong for animals who give their lives for us to consume their carcasses. This is a life-limiting approach and Yoga is about making life as enriching as possible, not a list of commandments that tell you what not do or what is allowed. Let’s save that for Christianity.

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The End Of Suffering

June 10, 2010

Humans go through suffering, and this is fact. But what is suffering? Before that is answered, let us dwell on one very important fact just as strong as the one previously stated: suffering is not warranted. When we suffer, we walk in the light that illuminates a life, routines, movements, experiences being experienced from a perspective of weakness caused by a confusion about who and what we are.

Physical pain and hurt is not suffering. Let’s be clear on this. It is my understanding that those who have studied and specialize in Hatha Yoga can avoid to a very great extent physical pain and sickness, adding longevity to the body. Even so, physical pain and hurt is just a way of life because we have these biological bodies as our vehicles to experience life itself fully.

So, what does suffering have to do with how well you know yourself? This is getting to the root of the issue and once you understand it, it is simple and freeing. Suffering is directly related to ignorance about one’s own nature, about the existential existence, about one’s own being. In this way of seeing reality, if I do not understand what life is, then I identify with things that are smaller, compartmental, fragmentary. On this level, the inner substance of my being is  not perceived. My body is not me, and if I were to say “I am sick”, or “I am dying”, it is a wrong identification. If I were to instead equate my knowledge and thoughts with the essence of my being instead of my biological structure, equating my views and memories with who I am, saying “I am hurt”, to go on identifying with the experiences, then suffering begins. Both manners of equation lead to suffering, identifying with the physical and identifying with the psychological. If this identification doesn’t take place, not the identification with the body and not the identification with the inner workings of the mind connected to Egotism, then the essence of life is something additional, something qualitatively different, there is no suffering.


Of the Niyamas, “Tapah” is one that can easily be misunderstood, either by improper translation or improper interpretation, both leading to misapplication of otherwise strong efforts. What it is not, is a torture, as in to make the body fast, or deny its demands, suppressing and repressing. It is an austerity. This is to live the truth you understand. Tapas is to educate the body through experience – Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, etc., so that it can set itself free of the clutches of conditionings. Conditionings cannot be destroyed but you can release yourself from their hold, their domination, their clutches.

Austerity is required to live the truth you have perceived. Without perceiving the truth there can be no tapah because that is passive repetition of certain codes of conduct. If you understand the truth about diet then you do not move an inch away from your understanding about diet. If you understand something about sleep, such things as how much sleep is necessary, when to give the body sleep, what kind of bed should be given, then you live that truth. What kind of exercises to be given, what clothes to be worn, how to use sound, how to use the mind, and movement of thought, once you are acquainted with, observe, and understand it, then you live the understanding. That is Tapah.

Start with what you call every day, normal thoughts, actions, perceptions. This is an idea filled with things we can all generally agree upon because we have all learned the names of things, definitions of surroundings, basically all that man has created for us in consciousness to refer to so that we may function in society as civilizations and cultures. Our modern way of living ignores the dimension of Silence or motionlessness. Meditation is a silence and an aloneness, a necessary self-education. If you were to still the body on the outside, stillness from walking, standing, running, sitting, you still must go deeper and still the internal movements. So, you put the body in a posture which is convenient, agreeable, enjoyable to the body and persuade it to be steady for half an hour.

Then you close your eyes so that the eyes make no contact with any matter outside the body. As soon as the eyes see an object, then your learned memory will turn up the name of the object, your attachment to the object, your likes, dislikes, prejudices, judgements, and so the movement begins, so closing the eyes is a help.

You abstain from speaking, something taught in order to function at school, at a job, communicating in public. When speaking is silenced, we do it internally, chattering to ourselves, trained to think, to acquire and organize information, comparing and evaluating, making judgements. The brain is always busy. We have become addicted to the movement of knowledge within us.

Sitting in silence, we are educating the brain to be free of that incessant movement of knowing, experiencing, accepting, and rejecting. Once you have tasted the nectar of Silence, then it does not matter whether you are sitting in a room or walking on a street, talking to people; the quality of aloneness, the quality of motionlessness, the freeness of thought does not get affected by physical or verbal movement.

Before you are living in harmony with non-knowing, stillness, silence, it may help to acknowledge who you are in this cosmos. Outside of the perspective of knowing, the man-made definitions of the cosmic life, there is no death. There is not Life, creation, and destruction. There is only emergence of creative energies and merging back, a cyclic movement. Remember that you are a newborn baby that does not yet know any of the ideas that man has put into your brain to fool you into knowing a false reality. You experienced this when you were born and it is still with you now as you strip away all of the things that keep you moving and addicted to moving. Not knowing is where Truth lies. The rivers and oceans and sky and land were here long before man came into existence, long before man gave these things their names, before there was knowing, and here lies the Truth. When you still your mind and body the Truth remains and in the Silence is Everything.


Discernment in Yoga

May 5, 2010

There is at the core of Yoga, discrimination. One key thing to remember about yoga for yourself is that it is only about you and no one else, until you make decisions to include others into what may be your practice. Just as you may decide to include people into your life as friends or acquaintances, there is a process that each of us has that is a personal acceptance strategy. We all have our own reasons for acceptance or non-acceptance, and yoga should be no different, lest we prepare for distractions in our practice. Although the actions related to yoga lifestyle exude acceptance of everyone and love for all, it does not mean the inclusion of a level of comfort that invites lax behavior leading to a slowing or halting of growth. Through my personal yoga practice, I have attained everything I owe to yoga without the inclusion of another, by discriminating to keep all possibility of distraction in my power away from my practice. I am not convinced that a class setting can be as beneficial to a practitioner as this kind of practice where there is nothing to distract the mind, both conscious and unconscious. But this is my perspective, and others may vehemently disagree, and that is their path to take. The single most important step in discrimination I urge all to take is not to follow another’s move but instead to read and meditate and practice from a place within that is true and take the first moves forward from there. Yoga in the western world is being filtered through our culture and understanding of experiences that may or may not ordinarily exist without yoga. That sets up a lot of individuals for a misunderstanding of what yoga is, and it is very easy to have a class full of people utterly confused and in the dark. A common phrase these days is “to take yoga”, and is at the crux of this kind of misunderstanding, whether it is meant to be misleading or not, listeners are always interpreting and misinterpreting. I can go my entire life without taking yoga, because that is something I have no interest in. I must discriminate, however, in order to live and be yoga.

Resisting Yoga

April 25, 2010

Besides people who are frequent practitioners and people who have never tried yoga, there are also people who in the face of practicing, resist. I often hear that it is crisis that draws people to doing yoga, or to put it another way, yoga finds those in need. When bodies and souls have been neglected and become contorted and unable to operate freely without obstruction, asanas get right to the troublesome areas, expose them, and put the body in a position to begin healing. When I first began doing yoga and saw and felt firsthand all the physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits that less than 30 minutes each morning did for me, it was not difficult to suggest it to those who obviously could benefit the way I did. To my surprise, nobody I knew actually tried it or wanted to do it.

One day my mother was suffering from an upper back muscular discomfort that looked like a buildup of tension manifested into a shoulder knot. Days later I found about it, and it worsened to the point that her right shoulder was sitting higher than her left and she woke up in terrible pain. I immediately gave her instruction for tension-releasing movements in the area to massage the muscles back into shape. Ten minutes later she was beaming, ecstatic, walking straight, and so relieved that this wasn’t going to require a doctor’s visit.

If you resist yoga, you are only making a statement about your own inability to face something about yourself. You may not be searching for anything that yoga seems to offer, or you may be looking for them in other forums that are unfulfilling. One day yoga will find you and it will be your choice to listen or ignore.

Yoga Attitude

February 24, 2010

Before we all got brainwashed into thinking we need $75 yoga pants and $45 yoga tops and whatever commercialism that comes with yoga here in the West, old men in gauze diapers were the authority on Yoga thousands of years ago in silent daily practice alone beside their beds at the crack of dawn. Look through leading Yoga

Biological Infinity

publications today and besides the muted, benign, unassuming look of people in casual outfits bordering on Star Trek The Next Generation costumes, the newest infiltrating ads have no problem bringing the dance club into the yoga class. Butt-enhancing, butt-cloaking, high-technology fabric that makes it easier and more comfortable for you to…do Yoga?

Most people would agree that Yoga exudes a lack of attitude. This is wrong. To decide to do anything, let alone follow the principles, philosophy, and methods of Yoga, it takes sureness, conviction, fervor, and an attitude to follow through. Sometimes a lack of attitude can be the attitude. Many people walk around with an attitude problem and don’t even realize it. It doesn’t mean they are bad people, it just means they are not following through with their actions with the most beneficial attitude.

Attitude starts with the Self. Yoga ends with the Self. The two together are like a serpent eating its tail, a symbol for infinity. If the attitude that drives you through yoga is selfless, you arrive at the ideal agreement of a lack of attitude. If you inadvertently put yourself between Yoga and the way you practice Yoga, then there is an attitude problem; you have become your own obstacle and can’t even see it in your way, your lack of attitude becomes your attitude, and chances are that when you leave your yoga class you leave Yoga behind in the class as well.

I will not enhance my butt. I will not cloak my butt. I will not buy “yoga clothes”. I will not wear colors that look like I’m in a Bananarama video. I will do yoga in what I feel most comfortable. I will not let someone else tell me what I can and cannot wear or look like while doing Yoga. Before I do Yoga, I am doing Yoga. When I’m done with Yoga, I am still doing Yoga. I am Yoga.


When sound hits the ear canal and vibrates the eardrum and the inner ear, a complex combination of bio-electrical impulses are sent to the brain where sound must then be interpreted. Sound is always open to interpretation. To say anything more distinct and certain about how one might react to a sound or collection of sounds entering the transducer that is the inner, middle, and outer ear, would be to begin making assumptions. If we zoom out as far as we can to make the safest of assumptions and still be guilty of them, we can say that we all know what rainfall sounds like, what thunder sounds like, or what the ocean sounds like. Although most of that may be true, you still cannot say with certainty anyone’s interpretation of these sounds but your own. I am making a bigger assumption right now by not considering that people may not have their hearing and therefore excluding all deaf and hearing impaired people. If I can say with certainty that I know what rainfall sounds like, and another person says the same, we can both agree that in our minds we each have a distinctly different concept of that sound that overlaps in a common area where we both share a similar memory of experience. But maybe my memory is the sound of rain on concrete and asphalt, or hitting a wood-shingled roof, or how it sounds from the inside of a car, while another person’s memory is that of rain hitting a tin roof, falling on bare earth, tree leaves and grass, echoing through a forest instead of off the sides of buildings. These are minor differences if our focus is the rainfall itself, but make all the difference if we are concerned with the way the rain falls, what it hits, and basically the reason that we hear it.

When sounds enter our ears, it is up to us where we have our focus while at the same time involuntarily drawing on past experiences to identify first where our choices of focus are. These are examples of not only why a silent yoga class can be a more focused yoga class, but also examples of how a properly constructed introduction of sound can benefit any experience, compliment it, or take it to a level previously unforeseen.