Our annual celebration of Vyas Puja, or Guru Puja, took place on July 14th and 15th, 2012.  Over 100 people came to read from Satguru Ji’s Ramayan over the 24 hour period, giving us knowledge and peace as we all strive to live a more yogic life. Below are some videos from the auspicious weekend:

This past weekend over 20 students participated in a workshop on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In addition to learning the great wisdom contained in this yogic scripture, everyone also had the opportunity to learn and practice asanas as well as cleansing techniques, like neti and vaman. Pranayama, mudras, and bandhas, practices less commonly practiced in the U.S., were also discussed and practiced.

Above all, students walked away knowing more about the true purpose of Hatha Yoga, which is preparation for higher consciousness. While yoga is commonly thought to be a practice for the body, we wee reminded that  we are not merely seaking the freedom from diseaeses but the freedom from the bondage and the waverings of the mind.

The scripture proved to be full of information, and we will likely be studying it in even more depth during Sunday philosophy classes in the future. Stay tuned!

We celebrated Vyas Puja last month, and have included some pictures from the day. The highlight was Acharyaji’s short speech on Sunday.

“Dhyana Moolam Guror Murti, Pooja Moolam Guror Padam, Mantra Moolam Guror Vakyam, Moksha Moolam Guror Kripa

Hershji translated this beautiful mantra for us: I want to meditate on the form of my Guru, pray to the feet my Guru, every word of my Guru is sacred, and moksha comes only from the grace of my Guru “guru kripa”. Simple words but hard to comprehend, Hershji explained that we want to identify with the Godliness of our Guru. This is the real “puja” of the day, not just the rituals.

Finally, Acharyaji spent some time discussing the relationship between the Guru and disciple. It is important to do seva (selfless-service), not because the Guru needs it but it makes us humble, heightens our intellect, and helps us see God in everyone. Seva prepares one to absorb the knowledge from a Guru, but one must actually be in the presence of their Guru to do this. Just like the dialogue between Krishna and Arjun happened in person, we must make the effort to engage in a conversation of questions and answers to progress on the Yogic path.

To find your Guru, look for someone who has knowledge of the scriptures, an ability to explain them to you, nobility of character, and actually experienced what they are teaching.

Several readers have asked, what really is prana? Prana is the energy permeating the universe at all levels, including physical, mental, intellectual, spiritual, and cosmic energy. While it is hidden, in that the common person cannot hear, touch or feel it, the yogi knows that it is actually the mover of all activity. Both creation and destruction are made possible with prana.

While prana certainly is the power behind creation and destruction, its real power is how it sustains our body. Without it, the body and mind cannot function. Therefore pranayama, often mistaken for merely breathing exercises, is actually a series of techniques developed to enhance the prana in our body which leads to greater vigor and vitality. Prana flows through our nadis, or energy channels, and it is through the use of breath that we are able to influence it.

Knowing this, it may be difficult to distinguish prana and aatma. The Prashna Upanishad clarifies the two when one disciple asks what is “prana and how it is related to aatma?” The Rishi replies, “Prana is same to the aatma as a shadow is to the body.” In other words, they are not the same but move together.

In the next article about Pranayama, we will discuss the nadis.