About Yogastha

The Sanskrit word yogastha is translated to mean "abiding in the discipline of yoga".   The line from the Yoga scripture, The Bhagavad Gita ..."Yogastha Kuru Karmani", is the instruction that Arjuna receives in an answer of "how to act".  The question of "how to act" is presented in the context of a conversation between the warrior Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, a representation of the Divine, on a battlefield just prior to war. While in the story the war is real with an imminent brutal battle, the lesson for the reader is to understand that for the spiritual aspirant, all situations must be faced with discernment; and the ego must be untied from all of our actions in order to be free from the karmic wheel that produces future sufferings.  Thus, all actions should be done with the discernment of a yogi. This is the meaning of “yogastha.”

The essence of this discourse in The Bhagavad Gita is that one must be in a state of yoga for action to be pure, refined and astute.  And action taken in this higher place will certainly lead to a greater fulfillment in one's own life.  We have one of two options; either our actions take us further down the path into the limited world of our senses and ego, or our actions help us to broaden our perspective and develop our capacity to bring forth the light of our own True Nature.  

Since so many of our daily decisions - and thus actions, are tied directly to the physiology and the bio-chemistry of the body, along with the hardwiring of memory in the brain, a yoga practice which works with the mind/body connection, will absolutely be a guiding discipline toward a better understanding of ourselves and thus a platform for personal transformation.  The suffering caused by the conditioned state of our existence, mind and body, is there for each of us to become aware of if we chose to.  When we practice yoga on the mat, the contracted state of a muscle may show us the limitations of our own contracted state of mind.  Or the instability of a joint may help us to understand the need for more firmness in another area of our life.  Or maybe the evidence of a weak or uncoordinated nervous system may point out how much we are at the whim of our inability to control our own emotions.  Thankfully, we can do something about it - and the practice of yoga, with postures and movement, is set to do just that.  

As the Bhagavad Gita is a source of inspiration for leading a life that is deeply connected; another ancient text, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is a step-by-step manual on how to do it, with many references of the various stages along the path.  Most all of the modern systems of yoga practiced today can be traced back to this one source.  This Classical Yoga instruction (Raja Yoga, or Ashtanga Yoga) outlines the specific process toward the final state of Yoga - and all that must be addressed as we live in our bodies and in this world. The Yoga Sutras guides the practitioner down an 8 limbed path toward a focusing of the mind that develops into the practice of meditation (Dhyana).  This process is inclusive of yoga postures, since a body under our control is vital if we want to cultivate a mind that we can control.  Doing yoga postures is a practice that has a strong focus on establishing health and balance in the physical body.  There are many different styles of yoga, but for those students looking to understand the basis of this physical exercise in the true yogic sense, the practice should be developed in a way that moves our attention first to our body and then continuing inward to subtler levels.  In this way, the yoga practice can be understood as... using form to go beyond form.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a specific style of yoga that was developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and his teacher Krishnamacharya in Mysore, India.  This yoga is characterized by its emphasis on "vinyasa" or the dynamic flow between the static postures.  With this flow - there is more movement, and more heat.  The practice has 6 Series of sequences of asanas that become increasingly more challenging and are always done in the same order. The 1st Series is called the "Primary Series", and being called "primary" does undoubtedly make it the most important one. Because the Ashtanga practice has a strong physical orientation, it is important to emphasize that the development of this system of yoga does draw directly from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras - and the establishment of the meditative state of mind.  This practice has a particular focus on the body, and the movement of the body (through vinyasa); yet, the attention continues to move inward with concentration on ujjayi pranayama (breath), physical energy locks (bandhas), and control of the eye gaze (dristi).  If this interior path is not cultivated, the attention to the physical prowess of this practice could instead lead one once again down the path of the sense and into the pain and suffering of the egocentric self.

Todd Geiser practices and teaches yoga through various workshops, and private and semi-private instruction.  His teaching is grounded in the 8 limbed path of Classical Yoga.  The foundation for his asana practice and teaching is the Ashtanga Vinyasa system, and he believes the guiding principles of this practice, along with the sequence of asanas, can be an invaluable tool for students to deepen their personal yoga practice.  Along with the practice of postures, he offers advanced teachings in the two primary traditional texts of yoga: The Bhagavad Gita and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. 

Please feel free to contact Todd if you are looking for personal instruction in the development of your yoga practice or if you are interested in organizing a workshop in your own community.

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