Among many epithets, Shiva is Yogeshwara, the Lord of Yoga. Here's a way to connect our Yoga practice to the Shiva principle and the ancient lineage of Shavite spirituality known as the Agama.
On pilgrimage this year, Yoga became an important component because Yoga is essential to spiritual realization and practice in Indian spirituality. It is also at the top of the pyramid structure we developed for our training in India and as we advance into this year upon our return. Last but not least, most of our pilgrims this year were yoga teachers.
Upon my return yesterday, I put together a practice late at night, one that ties into the theme of the Sacred Masculine, particularly in the wake of Shiva Ratri recently, but also because it is an essential theme in our tri-part approach in Yogic Mystery School, the others being the Divine Feminine, and the Holy Divanihum, which you will hear more about in the near future.
Here is how I put my practice together the day of my return to the US after our recent pilgrimage. You can use the circle of images in the photo collage below to understand. An explanation follows.
First, I created a passageway from one room into another to simulate the experience of approaching the inner sanctum of the Shiva temple as we whisper in the ears of Nandi, Shiva’s devoted attendant. Next, a black Shiva lingam is placed on a low stool with a votive candle burning a flame. All of the rooms are in darkness, so the flame creates a mysteriousness within the passageway, a simulation of what we in our school refer to as the bottleneck, the journey through Maya.
My yoga mat is placed in front of the lamp and lingam so I can offer my practice to the absolute reality that can be invoked through the Shiva principle. This morning, I used a combination of mantras, pranayama, asanas, and stretches. A comfortable chair is placed behind the mat to be able to meditate. Meditation was the culmination of the process.
At 2 am, it was so serene. And dark. The silence facilitated a profound practice, a sadhana, which is a goal-oriented spiritual practice. The mat also allowed for deep relaxation (shavasana) when necessary. The head is placed at the Shiva lingam to avoid pointing the feet at the holy symbol, a mark of reverence that also creates spiritual awareness.
Later in the day, water and a spoon joined the simple altar, along with a bell and incense. Then, Ganesha was invoked with mantras, incense, and a bell ringing. After this, the water was consecrated, and a nyasa was performed with various mantras. Gayatri japa followed. After the prayers, mantras, puja, pranayama, asana, and meditation were practiced in that order.
The third practice that concluded the day consisted solely of meditation. In the last 24 hours since returning to the US, I committed to a sadhana that involves Yoga but in a way that connects to the Shaiva Agama tradition. I don’t think practicing Yoga and pranayama without a connection to something more significant can satisfy the needs of my soul.
If this approach inspires you, I invite you to create something similar in your practice. We are presently engaged in healing around the sacred masculine in our Yogic Mystery School. If this theme interests you at this time, join on Saturday, March 11, for our all-day intensive on "Healing Around The Sacred Masculine."