Advanced Yoga Practices
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Note: For the Original Internet Lessons with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons Books. For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books, Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.

Lesson 202 - Free-Form versus Structured Practices  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
202.1 - To Go with Automatic Yoga Impulses or Not?
202.2 - Using "Automatic Yoga" as a Primary or Stand-Alone Practice?  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Fri May 28, 2004 10:46am

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

Q: I love reading your lessons. I have not caught up and read them all, but I print them and will get to them. 

Most of the practices you have written about seem to happen to me spontaneously over time during my meditations. I do not consciously do any of them. I have this energy that comes upon me almost as soon as I sit down on my mediation cushion. I simply surrender to it and let it have its way with me. I have learned to simply surrender with trust and gratitude. 

Four years ago at a 10 day Vipassana silent meditation retreat, I experienced a profound Kundalini opening. I have been meditating every day since, usually for 1 hour. I have done this usually only once a day. 

I had to learn to deal with this new energy that was out of control and totally in charge of my physical body at first, creating various problems for me. I had to learn to ground myself, protect myself and learn to function in a new way. There have been many profound experiences during this ongoing process. I have learned to simply trust that I am being purified. 

I have incorporated several techniques in my daily practice. I use incense, because I like it, and I often listen to Sanskrit chants while I meditate, but I really feel more like I get meditated. I sometimes repeat chants in my head; I have found that an AYP mantra enhancement works better for me then simply "I Am." But I often just disappear into nothingness. 

My question has to do with my practice. It seems to work for me. Sometimes in reading your lessons, I recognize the techniques you talk about as having happened to me at some time during my meditations. Since what I am doing is working, I wonder if it benefits me to change to a more conscious doing of the various techniques?

I often feel like I am simply the witness to what is happening in my body. I simply surrender, and observe. I become the witness, I do not judge, I simply let go. Some times I have a profound emptiness, at other times there are many thoughts, colors, lights, visions, etc. I feel like the energy has been moving through my body, healing me, clearing away blocks. There has been much physical movement at times and at times it has been painful, but I just let it happen. I often experience various yoga postures or mudras spontaneously. There have been times when I would simply cry for the full hour, not even sure of why I was crying. The energy would simply get to a part of my body and I would be crying. It always feels like a tremendous release, and I feel wonderful thereafter. I feel like I am becoming Lighter and Lighter. I am very sensitive to energy and quite empathic. I keep learning how to deal with those issues. It has been, and continues to be a journey. 

Any comments or suggestions? I find your lessons to be very helpful. 

A: Thank you for your kind note. It is much appreciated. 

Your experiences sound very progressive and smooth (wonderful!), so who am I to suggest alterations? It sounds like you are having fun on your journey, and that is how it should be. 

On the other hand, meditation and most other practices produce the most efficient results if the technique in use is favored for an allotted time. "Efficient" means maximum forward progress with the least discomfort. It takes some doing, and I'm not sure how it can be done without measuring practices in some way. 

A structured program of practice might seem restrictive if you are in a long time habit of using a free form approach. Still, structure has its advantages. It keeps us on course, especially when there are influences that can distract us. It keeps us from fooling ourselves into believing we are doing practices at times when we may only be coasting. Structure is also useful when we are using an integration of powerful advanced practices that move a lot of ecstatic energy through our nervous system. It is easy to overdo when there is so much ecstasy being generated, and then we need a way to measure our practice for optimum application and comfort. Using the clock for each practice becomes important then. There are plenty of examples in the lessons on the importance of self-pacing. Self-pacing is an essential part of most people's practice here. This is a very fast path -- as fast as the practitioner wants to go. Without prudent self-pacing, we'd have folks burning out left and right. Even with self-pacing it gets a little hairy sometimes. 

So it is a question of how fast you want to go, while keeping safe (and sane) at the same time. 

Maybe a compromise would work for you. Certain practices you could do by the clock, and then another part of your routine could remain free form. A steady dose of spinal breathing could be especially helpful to you if you are experiencing delicate emotions at times, which can indicate an inner energy imbalance. 

It is a matter of traveling as quickly and smoothly as we choose. It is up to you. 

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed instructions on building a balanced daily practice routine with self-pacing, see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Book, and AYP Plus.

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