Mark Whitwell at Jivamukti Yoga Sydney

Mark Whitwell’s workshop at the Jivamukti Yoga Sydney yoga centre in Newtown re-affirms my studies in Yoga (and theology). According to Mark, the practices (sadhana) of Yoga are the participatory awareness of the marvelous creation of life as inseparable existence, in intimate union, with the divine, if the divine exists. The highest potential as a human being is given, and cannot be taken away from you. It is unfortunate that the orthodoxy of popular world religions, supports the prescription model of God-consciousness, as if you were separate from the divine. Nondualism central to Advaita Vedānta philosophy posits that each divine soul is woven into the same tapestry of life.

Clearly, the goal orientation of dogmatic belief systems provides the platform for cult-like, self-gratifying, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, an extreme example of which is the high aspiration of retention of semen (ojas) by the denial of orgasm. It is vital to understand that there is no spiritual ideal to attain – and that there is no need to struggle in an overly addictive, male-oriented, dogmatic path, towards completely ditching the original, ordinary purpose in your mortal life (dharma). The structure of dogma only reinforces the duality that creates the separation in human life, while authenticity can only come from loving (and completing) yourself – the real essence in you – by engaging your intimacy with the divine, if the divine exists.

To realign our spiritual beliefs with non-attainment, we must first elevate the ordinary practices (sadhana) of asana, kriya and pranayama as the superior to meditation (dhyana). The humility of the ordinary practices teaches transcendence beyond the allure of hubris in the pedagogical pursuit of the siddhi.

Mark Whitwell summarizes five principles to be incorporated into our daily vinyāsa practices:

  1. Follow the breath with movement
  2. Breath is strength receiving, the efficacy of its vibration resonating at the hridyaya and anahata
  3. Start each inhalation/exhalation before moving, and stop the movement before completing each inhalation/exhalation, and notice the pauses (kumbaka)
  4. Asana creates the energy lock (bandha)
  5. Asana and pranayama set the conditions for the siddhi to arise
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