Change is the only constant

When I began practicing yoga and meditation, I learned that the body and mind are changing every moment. As human beings, we are prone to attachment. We get attached to people, places, and things. This quality of attachment is what fuels the ego and creates the cycle of unending desires. Due to attachment, we long for specific experiences, people, and environments that give us pleasure. However, nature is ever-changing and does not favor anyone. Through the practice of yoga, we need to synchronize our lives with this truth.

Practicing yoga not only makes us super-conscious of the changes that happen in our body and minds But also helps us become detached from these states of existence. When detachment occurs, peace of mind ensues because we stop identifying with the different mental constructions of our minds. These mental constructions are called Vrittis by the yogis.

Consider the mind as a transparent crystal and the Vrittis as different colors of light. Under red light, the crystal appears to be red. Under blue light, it appears blue. However, in reality, the crystal has no color of its own. It is because of our attachment to our own thoughts, perceptions and various external stimuli that we start acknowledging the crystal to be red or blue.

An interesting analogy was made by Bruce Lee when he said, in an interview, “Empty your mind. Be formless, shapless like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put water into a tea-pot, it becomes the tea-pot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” This statement by Lee, clearly showed that he had understood the colorless, atrributeless nature of the mind. He had learnt to detach his mind with the thoughts and fovus it on his martial arts practice. In my opinion, this is what made him great at what he did.

In 2011, when I began my practice, my mind was bombarded with thoughts of insecurity, anxiety, desire and anger. I was overwhelmed by my own mind and  repeatedly got lost in old, repressed memories. Eventually, with practice I learned to get detached with those feelings and memories. I had become an observer who was watching thoughts come and go like cars on the road.

However, this is far away from the end of the road. Today, though I am not driven by the thoughts that haunted me in the past, I am faced with new new ones. The content of my mind has changed and new patterns of thinking have emerged. I still struggle on certain to find that focus but have become more adept at handling such challenges. So keep practicing!


Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

In my last post, I talked about the science of pranayama and its effects on the human physiology and psychology. Through this post, I will share with you all a specific technique of pranayama that I have practiced myself in the past. This technique has benefited me and will do the same for anyone who practices it diligently. These benefits are improved concentration, calmness in the mind and body, an increase in body energy and many other countless benefits that you will only realize once start practicing it regularly . So let’s get to it!

  1. Close your left nostril using the ring finger of your right hand and take a deep breath in through your right nostril. You do not have to breathe forcefully. Just breathe normally but deeply.
  2. After taking a deep breath from your right nostril, close the right nostril using the thumb of your right hand and open the left nostril by removing your ring finger. Breathe out gently but completely.
  3. Now take another deep breath in using your left nostril while keeping the right nostril closed with the thumb.
  4. Now close the left nostril using the ring finger and open the right nostril by removing the thumb. Breathe out gently but deeply.

These 5 steps lead to one cycle of what is known as the Nadi Shodhana pranayama or alternate nostril breathing technique. Repeat this cycle 6-7 times, twice a day and it will do great benefits to your body. The best time to practice this technique is in the morning when one has an empty stomach after getting up and in the evening before having dinner.

The name Nadi Shodhana pranayama means purification of Nadis, which are nervous channels in our bodies that carry electrical impulses and other vital energies that sustain the body. Nadi Shodhana pranayama purifies the nervous channels in the human body leading to a better energy flow overall, because of which the body becomes healthy overtime.

The right and left nostrils are connected to the left and right brain of our body respectively. Furthermore, our nostrils are actually the endings of our nerve channels that run throughout our body.

Try this simple technique for a few days and tell me about your experience in the comments. There are many variations to this technique which are adpoted by advanced practitioners. For beginners, this technique helps build strength in the lungs so that one can move to harder practices.


Pranayama: The art of controlling life energy

Have you ever wondered what is it that keeps us alive. Sure, in strict medical terms, we can say it is the circulation of blood in our body through the heart that keeps us alive or it is the constant healing mechanism of the body that prevents death. Others may say it is the functioning of the brain that makes us alive or pumping of air in our lungs. But have you ever wondered what is that makes the heart beat or the lungs pump. Air itself cannot make us breathe nor can blood itself make our heart beat. Yogis believe that the whole universe is a manifestation of prana aka life force and it is the source of our existence.

Prana is life itself and its different vibrations exist as different forms of life. When we breathe, there is a constant intake of prana and this prana keeps our body running. It is this prana that makes the lungs pump and the heart beat. Even the food that we eat gets converted into prana finally. By learning to conserve prana, we can be healthier, live longer and be stronger.

The word pranayama is made up of the two words prana and yama. Prana is the essential life force and yama means control. So the word pranayama means the control of prana. Yogis practice the technique of pranayama through systematic breathing. In the average human being, the breathing process is involuntary i.e. he or she breathes without even realizing that they are breathing. An athlete has a little more control over his breathing as he or she is taught to control their breathing process to enhance their stamina. Similarly, even military professionals used systematic breathing techniques to remain calm in stressful situations and gain strength and vigor. The yogi is constantly aware of his breath and some of the yogis have mastered the technique of pranayama to the extent that he or she takes one breath per min. However, this breathing is not forced. For the yogi this has become his natural breathing pattern through years of practice.

The practice of pranayama enhances the quality of our breathing, focuses the mind and makes our body processes rhythmic. Practicing it every now and then refreshes me and helps calm down my overly active mind. So, if you ever feel anxious, have anxiety or angry, take refuge in the technique of pranayama.

The song of the universe

So, this is a poem that i wrote a few years ago, I happened to come across it again and thought I should put it up on this blog. I hope my readers are able to understand and appreciate the message behind it. Here is the poem.

I loved a flower that grew in my backyard….it was beautiful. I loved it’s colour, it’s fragrance and the feeling it gave me when it bloomed.
I wondered how wonderful it would be, to have it In my room.

To experience it’s beauty with each morning that passed, were thoughts of my mind that daily I amassed.

But the flower loved the sunlight, about which I never cared. So I grabbed that little angel and put it where I could stare.

Alas! it lost it’s charm and withered away to history….it’s death was the event that unlocked the mystery.

True love isn’t about capturing to full-fill ones own desire but a blessing of The Lord to nurture the one who makes you aspire.

The mystics and yogis of India

India is a vast land filled with many mysteries. From the Himalayas in the north to the Temples of southern India, there are stories, monuments, artifacts and people who make us question our ways of living and the nature of existence. The yogis and mystics of India are such people. Their lifestyles will perplex you, their philosophies will inspire you and their capabilities will astonish you.

If you go to holy places in India you will find many men with long locks of hair, dressed in saffron clothing and carrying a pot with water filled in it. These men sit in solitude and are often seen chanting the name of god with beads in their hands. Some of them are impostors waiting for their next target, a few are real men of devotion trying to find god and rarely, if you are lucky, you will come across a realized man who has won over desire and is filled with wisdom and knowledge. These rare individuals are usually not found in crowded places as they do not prefer the company of worldly men and women. They are always in an ecstatic mood and as they have reached the state, what yogis call, of no-mind.
Three holy men sitting in Kathmandu Darbar Square.

Though not self-realized, many sages who live near holy places still possess the knowledge and supernatural abilities that attract men and women from all over the globe. People flock to these spiritual men looking for solutions to their problems or to be blessed by them so that they can enjoy a fulfilling life. Some will predict your future, others will bless you if you cannot conceive and a few will even communicate with your departed loved ones. However, people rarely go looking for such yogis to find knowledge.
An ash-smeared yogi meditating in solitude.

There are even large gatherings of such yogis on special days. One such occasion is called the Kumbh Mela, held at multiple sites, where yogis from different religious sects gather and bathe in the river Ganges. The event is considered the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims and is held once in every 12 years. The words “Kumbh Mela” literally mean Kumbh fair.
The Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, India.

I have never witnessed the Kumbh mela. However, visiting the mela will be a great opportunity to meet these men of knowledge and find answers to questions that put me in a deep thoughtful mood.

The types of yoga

Once the yogi has implemented the yamas and niyamas in his life, he should simultaneously practice yogic techniques of concentration. Every human being is unique and has his or her own set of tastes and methodology towards life. However, even unique personalities fall under a broad personality type. Yoga has different paths to attain self-liberation for different personality types.

For people who have a scientific approach towards life, kriya yoga is the prescribed practice. This approach involves directly tuning the mind to higher energies and channelizing these energies into the different chakras or energy centers of the body. It also involves practicing asanas that prepare the body to withstand the cosmic energies and directly percieve god. This is considered to be the hardest path as it requires strict vows and discipline.

For the artists, who love identifying the emotional aspect of life, bhakti yoga is the answer. Through bhakti yoga, the practitioner chooses and establishes a personal relationship with god that he or she is comfortable practicing. People in different religions have either considered god as a father, a mother or a friend. According to yogic philosophies, one can consider oneself to be a lover of god devote him or herself to that relationship.

For the philosophers of the world, jnana yoga is a great technique of finding the supreme truth. Jnana yoga is all about perceiving god through one’s intelligence and gaining knowledge through scriptures and spiritual texts that have been passed on from generation to generation. The jnana yogis aspire to gain the ultimate wisdom that helps them understand their relationship with and their position in the universe.

Finally, for the worldly man or woman who emphasizes on the practicality of life, Karma yoga is the suitable path. Karma Yoga is the path of action that inspires the yogi to perform actions with detachment and fulfill his or her duty. The yogi does not care for the fruits of his or her action and only acts to for the benefit of the cosmos. This concept of performing the right action that upholds the society is defined as dharma in the Bhagavat Gita. Dharma evolves as the society evolves.

It is interesting to find that nature has provided so many paths to its children to choose from and reach the ultimate goal of realizing one’s relationship with the universe.  It is this inherent intelligence of nature that we take for granted in our life and are only able to realize once we make ourselves sensitive and conscious through the practice of yoga.


The anatomy of a yogi

So, we have already discussed the definition of yoga, the purpose of its practice and its origins. However, practicing the breathing and meditating techniques of yoga is not enough for one to become a complete yogi.  So, who is a yogi?

The Bhagavat Gita, which is a Hindu text on spirituality, defines a yogi as an individual who is detached from all desires of sense gratification and a person who performs his or her duties without expecting the rewards. A yogi accepts whatever comes to him or her on its own accord and does not engage or act in the world to fulfill selfish desires. A yogi sees others’ happiness and pain as his or her own.

Many other spiritual texts, including those belonging to Buddhism, that discuss yoga in detail have laid down the disciplines and moral behaviors that a yogi follows in order to achieve the supreme goal of liberation. These behaviors and disciplines are called Yamas and Niyamas, respectively. According to Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, the Yamas and Niyamas guide and protect the yogi on his or her path towards liberation of the soul. Following is a list of Yamas and Niyamas:

1) Ahimsa or non-violence

The yogi should be firmly established in a state of mind that does not think of harming any being either verbally, physically or psychologically.

2) Satya or truthfulness

A yogi should think, act and speak in a manner that does not distort reality and facts. It is the duty of the yogi to guide others in the right direction and not mislead them for selfish reasons.

3) Asteya or non-stealing

A true yogi shall never steal anything that belongs to another being. By stealing others’ hard-earned merits, one does harm to their fellow being and eventually harms himself or herself because the whole of existence is connected.

4) Daya or Compassion

The yogi recognizes the unity in existence and sees others’ pains as his or her own. As a result, he or she should constantly cultivate feelings of compassion for all beings.

5) Ksama or forgiveness

Forgiveness is the wealth of yogi. The more forgiving a yogi becomes, the higher is his state of mind.

6) Mitahara

A yogi neither eats too much nor too less. He or she does things in moderation. This principle was also taught by Buddha because he believed that all that exists is the result of a perfect balance.

7) Sauca or cleanliness

It is important for a yogi to maintain cleanliness of surroundings and his or her body. Impurity and lack of cleanliness act as invitation to disease, which hampers the practice of a yogi.

8) Dhriti or determination

A yogi cannot achieve his goals sans determination and devotion to his or her practice of yoga.

9) Tapas or meditation

A yogi of course has to practice meditation regularly for getting rid of mental impurities that are caused due to interaction with the imperfect material world.

10) Santosh or contentment

A yogi is content with what he has been given by god and never complains about his state of existence. He or she always finds happiness internally and not in external objects.

11) Dana or charity

A yogi does charity for others’ well-being and shares his gifts and wealth with the universe.

12) Arjava or non-hypocrisy

The yogi speaks what he thinks. He or she never hides his or her true intentions.

Practicing these Yamas and Niyamas accelerate the progress of a yogi. Adhering to these principles also protects the yogi from getting attracted to the illusions of the material world and keeps him or her steadfast in his or her devotion towards the divine.

Sure, the practice of these virtues seems hard, but the effort to perfect them never goes in vain. In the words of Norman Vincent Peale  “shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”



Yoga: A technique not a religion

What comes to your mind when you hear the word yoga? You would probably visualize an individual covered in sweat, standing on a yoga mat in a difficult posture with his or her hands folded. Well, you are partially correct. As we begin our journey of understanding yoga through this blog, let us first understand the true meaning and origins of the science.

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit language and literally means the union of the individual soul with the infinite.  Though yoga is believed to have been originated from a part of the world, which we now call India, I do not believe it is Indian. Can science belong to a particular nation? No, right?

Yoga is a science of perception, through which one can realize his or her relationship with the universe. It is the inherent ability of human beings that can bring forth the most sublime part of their personality. A type of knowledge that can open the door to knowledge itself.

All the spiritual giants of the world, who have shown humanity a better path and have taught the message of love, compassion, and unity, have practiced yoga, in one way or the other. In the teachings of yoga, it is believed that once an individual has realized the truth, he or she can see the oneness in all existence and develops compassion and love for every form of life.

It is true that yoga has been practiced in India from ancient times and its knowledge has been passed on from one generation to the other in the form of either documented texts or the guru-disciple tradition. Though yoga is popular in the western world mainly for the benefits it brings to the body, its essence lies in its spiritual aspects. A healthy body and mind are only positive side effects of practicing the ancient technique. Similarly, meditation and mindfulness, which are considered separate disciplines by many, are actually limbs of the ancient technique called yoga.

There are many spiritual texts belonging to the Indian civilization, texts that discuss yoga at length and the various techniques that fall under it that can lead to a healthy body, mind and even attainments that might be considered super-human in today’s world. But, the final aim lies in the liberation of the soul.

For practical purposes, you do not have to believe in a religion to feel the effects of yoga in your life. All you need to be is a curious explorer, who is consistent in his practice and only accepts things if they work for him or her. The first step to being a true yogi is to believe in your own experiences.


If you are reading this post, then you should know that you attracted it. Welcome readers! I am Samarth, an aspiring yogi trying to listen to his inner voice amidst the clamor of materialism. In 2011, life took an interesting turn for me when I discovered the world of yoga and meditation, and the doors of limitless possibilities that it opened.

This blog is about my experiences with and thoughts on meditation, yoga, and mysticism. I believe that yoga and meditation are potent tools that help us realize our intimate connection with the universe and find answers to questions that haunt our minds. These incredible tools reveal to us truths about our personality, its flaws, strengths and potential to evolve.

Besides studying myself, I also study public relations at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Pursuing a master’s degree in a foreign country can be stressful at times. Fortunately, I find solace in meditation and yoga.

Through this blog, I hope to inspire stressed and/or curious individuals to learn more about these ancient techniques that have helped mankind go beyond the limitations of human existence.