• A Yoga Journey

    Faith is that initial inquiry you had in the quest of yoga. That deep, indescribable feeling that there is something more in this world. That very inquiry you showed up to yoga with, you are now answering through observation of what is being cultivated within sadhana and what clarity you have come into.

    Yoga is your life and you want to live your yoga. You may have taken teacher training. You listen to spiritual music, podcasts and lectures. Your clothes are all yoga. You are very much yoga.

    You have your community and you have your guide but the support you receive in a packed room full of sweaty bodies feels less authentic — less you. You compare yourself to those practicing around you. You have a little voice in your head that grows with doubt about your practice and well-being.

    The world around you seeps in. Not even ujjayi can help you now. Where did the yoga go? How do I stop making myself mental about yoga? How do I create bliss in life? Surprising enough, we rely a lot on what we consider or fits in the yoga ideological world view rather than the actual attainment of yoga. In short, our attainment in yoga is based on societal definitions of what yoga actually is.

    No matter the claims —actual or media enhanced — yoga is something that is cultivated over time. Yoga is a doctrine of habit. That may seem sterile, making yoga a mere habit or something done without feeling. Comparatively, when was the last time you felt blissed out brushing your teeth? I am not trying to deflate the mental energy and pedestal that you put the culture of yoga on however one thing, for certain, yoga involves you!

    Pretend yoga is a planet. That perfect planet with perfect balance. This perfect planet, planet yoga, is on a normal orbital pattern, moving around and the sun. A few months later, the approach of another planet enters an equally perfect orbital pattern.

    During parts of your day, the orbital pattern of the second planet blocks out the sun. Light has been taken away. The world, for a moment, has come into darkness — void of light and clarity. These moments of darkness are minimal but in a highly sensitive and concentrated mind these less illuminated hours can seem cataclysmic.

    How do you gain light?

    • Rule 1: Start a sadhana.

    A sadhana can be thought of as a means to attain something. At the root of this inquiry is truth. Truth is not meant in the opposite of telling a lie. Truth is something that creates a fixed aspect of your intellectual reasoning. If we look back to planet yoga, truth is the planet is in an orbital pattern.

    The planet may be in motion however it is on a path. That path creates reliability and strengthens awareness. A sadhana does this for us mentally, physically and spiritually

    What is cultivated in this understanding is not being the best at sadhana but coming into a clearer understanding of yourself and that which influences you, moves you, directs you in life. This develops something individually unique: self-purpose. Planet Yoga is moving with duty and so are you!

    How do you get started?

    A simple daily sadhana to practice daily

    • Wake up slowly
    • Avoid electronics
    • Use the bathroom
    • Rinse your mouth, face and eyes with water
    • Massage the body with a brush of small amount of oil
    • Sit in a dedicated practice space (or on the same piece of cloth or material if you travel a lot)
    • Listen to your breathing and let that guide your meditation
    • Let your thoughts form and dissipate. Watch them but do not chase them
    • Follow your breath without disturbing the natural rhythm
    • Practice stretching, yoga asana or physical movements
    • Rest or take shavasana – Observe your mind and thoughts without control or judgement
    • Drink water
    • Walk to integrate your internal experience with the world around you
    • Give thanks and write any predominant thoughts in a journal
    • Slowly start your day

    The practice is not long but detailed in taking the morning with ease and observing internal awareness. The most important part is observing the mind and breath without trying to control anything. Paying attention to what is, without interference is the most critical part of our practices in spirituality. Try to become very familiar with your inner orbital pattern and know that there is going to be one point, perhaps during the day or the year, beyond your control, where the view of the sun is not clear. Create inner light!

    How do we see beyond the darkness?

    • Rule 2: Cultivate Clarity

    Vitarkabādhane pratipakṣabhāvanam.

    What was that!? This passage comes from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in the second chapter and 33rd verse. One of the best translations is from Kofi Busia. Mr. Busia offers the entire translation for free with chants on his site.

    Be sure to check out the free resource! Mr. Busia translates the above sutra as follows: “When the mind is disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be contemplated.” This is practical, straight forward but maybe easier said than done.

    Returning to planet yoga.

    The other planet is blocking the view of the sun and darkness of thought is starting to enter your mind. It is now time to think opposite thoughts. The mind loves to put words into categories. The category provides comfort on a mental level. This is why when a rule, that the mind sees as defined, is broken that a serious psychological reaction may result.

    In plain view, we are talking about another planet on its own unique trajectory and purpose. Planet non yoga is not deliberately trying to stifle your light. A large amount of negative thought comes from thinking that there is an intentional harm aimed at you. Cultivating opposite thoughts comes with practice. Being aware of your need to respond will remove frustration, judgement and reacting with harm.

    The short analogy: try to continuously meet every heavy thought with an opposite thought. In our day-to-day that may not come with ease but elevating the plummeting mind is something that requires awareness and consistency. A great tactic when meeting opposition in conversation is to say in your mind ‘I wish you a good day and I know that ultimately you are trying to move through life according to your own purpose.’ This simple technique is excellent for creating sound responses when dancing in others orbital spaces.

    You can rework this phrase to something that suits your understanding of the situation. Take into account that what is coming at you is not applicable directly to you, it is nothing more than planetary trajectory in the form of someone being upset. We all get upset. This exercise is especially helpful when we have someone we feel is directly influencing our positive attitude.

    Pair this with change of scenery, listening to your breathing or other exercises and it should remind you of earlier in the day when you were practicing Rule 1. And if all else fails, say the most ridiculous word you can think of out loud — try, ‘BOM BOM!’ — and you will surely smile.

    What can we gain?

    • Rule 3: Observe and Develop Faith

    Knowledge is something we tap into, allowing it to become us rather than something we impress our importance upon.

    Observation is key here. Planet Yoga comes around, past the non yoga planet, out the darkness and you bask in the light! Everything illuminates and is vibrant. You observe the splendor and a spark of faith is grown within — you are on your uniquely perfect and vibrant path.

    Observation does a lot for us so look clearly within and how you respond to practices in Rule 1 and Rule 2. Be sure to allow for reflection.

    When we reflect we are not remembering but offering serenity to that which is. In short: It really is what it is. There is no need to change, alter or make better as this would only disturb the process and rob you of faith.

    Faith is that initial inquiry you had in the quest of yoga. That deep, indescribable feeling that there is something more in this world. That very inquiry you showed up to yoga with, you are now answering through observation of what is being cultivated within sadhana and what clarity you have come into.

    All that comes up is brought into your wider lens of self-awareness and reflected in kind from planet yoga. You, yourself are becoming the sun!

    I wish you a pleasant journey on Planet Yoga and should need orbital guidance, feel free to send me a signal.

    By Will Duprey

    Will Duprey is an international yoga educator and is known for effortlessly combining classical theory and storytelling with contemporary yoga methods. With over 17 years of teaching and consulting on yoga teacher trainings globally, his unique mentorship program provides deep knowledge and balance among different styles of yoga. Hathavidya is his personal approach to teaching — starting with the individual practice (sadhana), energy (pranayama) and intuitive framework — classical hatha yoga. Will is a contributing writer to publications such as: Elena Brower’s teach.yoga, Kino MacGregor’s OmStars and is a guest columnist for YogaLife Magazine Malaysia. He lives between Vermont and Malaysia.

    See More From Will Duprey

  • Interview with Will Duprey

      After my first memorable yoga class, I knew that I wanted to teach. I wanted to share. I felt right.  Like all the pieces slid perfectly into place. It was very profound.

    Describe your personality in three words.

    Punk Rock Shaman.

    Where are you from and/or where do you live?

    I grew up in Vermont. I currently live between Vermont and Kuala Lumpur.

    How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?

    I’ve been practicing pranayama and meditation since childhood (1984). I really don’t know why I took up those specific practices. I started a mixed (yoga, meditation and massage course) practice in 1994 during college. In 2002 was the most formal of practices and when I did my first initiation.

    What is yoga to you?

    This is like asking what is the meaning of life. Yoga is a state that is meaningful in different ways to each of us because our integration into the self (consciousness) is different although it appears the same.

    How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you want students to feel after they practice with you?

    After my first memorable yoga class, I knew that I wanted to teach. I wanted to share. I felt right.  Like all the pieces slid perfectly into place. It was very profound. I always want to bring students into their own personal self-realization.

    What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?

    I think it’s impossible not to transform (involution in some yoga philosophical components is our own self evolution). The practice is very much based on the self/you. That initial exploration, we begin to see layers of our own being. In the beginning we are in love and eventually work into deeper parts, sometimes harder parts. Life has all the components to create change. Yoga is what highlights that perfect and complete spirit within. In short, it’s unclear if yoga impacted my life or has been a tool to draw out what is already within.

    Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga teacher?

    Tough question. I just knew. First class, I begged the studio owners to do a teacher training so I could take. I ended up building the program with them as I also was their first studio manager. A lot of people at that time were just offering training programs. I also mentored with the owners and would have so many questions that they suggested I study with someone traditionally. That teacher became my first guru. I think all of those components above are great qualities of a teacher. Study hard, practice regularly, have a mentor and know when you are not of service to the student so have a referral system in play. It’s always good to know an expert with the field — these people are usually specialist in one or two things (e.g. pranayama). I often tell my students who are new teachers that at some point you have to break up with your private client. You want to develop self-reliance not dependency.

    Will Duprey on Omstars, Defining Yoga

    What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective? I don’t practice or teach a style of yoga.  I have mostly been initiated into Hatha, Raja, Siddha lineages. I have studied thoroughly Vinyasa Krama, Iyengar and various mantra and meditation approaches as well as Buddhism. I know that’s a laundry list. I draw upon my practice and experiences heavily. Without experiential knowledge, I do not think we can listen to the student well because the technique gets in the way. By listen I do not mean sitting and talking but using asana, pranayama or whatever yoga technique as a diagnostic tool to work with the practitioner. From there you have a better idea of what can be done or brought into the students life. If I was hard pressed to name a style, I’d choose the path/lineage of Hatha yoga which is mixed with Raja and Siddha.

    Do you have a teacher in your style of yoga?

    I have lots of favorite teachers! Dharma Mittra, Kofi Busia, Srivatsa Ramaswami, Dr. M. A. Jayashree and Professor Narasimhan to name a few.

    What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice? 

    Asana. I was already in love with pranayama (energy and breathing) and meditation from youth … naturally all the visual kriya and mantra came to me. Asana came very fast too however the difficulty was in knowing that you can practice yoga without having done any asana. So asana wasn’t a big physical difficulty but more mental. When the idea that asana, pranayama, bandha, mudra, mantra, etc., could all lead to the same result – a state of yoga – that was really liberating.

    What is yoga favorite yoga pose and why? And what’s your least favorite yoga pose and why?

    I really cannot answer that. I don’t think like that and at different moments one can be favorite or least favorite.

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga student?

    When I was first studying with Dharma Mittra there used to be a small group (5-8 people) of us in his master class. During this time, there is no other way to say it except that there was a lot of psychic energy. I remember him telling us to put our legs in padmasana during all these different types of inversions and in my head ‘No way! I can’t do that’ but then my body would just do it. There were lots of experiences like that. A direct line of communication without words. I feel like we were all connected that way. And the things that were happening (energetically and physically) were unbelievable.

    And how about as a teacher?

    To have a student feel the same way I felt inspired. That raw, unconditional and nonjudgmental space is really big. All the layers of our self-perception go away… I am really honored that I have students who take this life journey with me.

    Why do you practice? Why do you teach?

    Dharma.

    What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

    Consumerism.

    What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you as a student and as a teacher?

    Not really embarrassing but funny. When I was first teaching, I subbed for a fellow teacher. I was so tired, it was an emergency sub and the studio used English words so I went to say “happy baby or dead bug pose” and said “dead baby or happy bug.” I do a lot of silly things in class. I appreciate knowledge but levity goes a long way.

    Do you have any recommended yoga reading?

    I am actually finishing up a book. It’s a poetic translation from a classical hatha yoga text… so you can contemplate the passages, study alongside the text (with commentary on certain passages) or practice the poses (asana illustrations inside). I tend to read scriptural texts. Upanishads are always great!

    What is your dharma, your life mission?

    To teach and help others!

    What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?

    Find a teacher that you resonate with. One that understands your inquiry.

    Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

    The book I mentioned above is one of them. I put a lot of effort continually in the 300 hour program that I run (hathavidya.com). I started this program many years ago as a course to work with practitioners who were looking to integrate yoga into their lives. It’s important to experience yoga rather than just regurgitate information… I am very passionate about knowledge versus information. I am here to help and do the deep work so I provide a space for others who want to do that.

    By Will Duprey

    Will Duprey is an international yoga educator and is known for effortlessly combining classical theory and storytelling with contemporary yoga methods. With over 17 years of teaching and consulting on yoga teacher trainings globally, his unique mentorship program provides deep knowledge and balance among different styles of yoga. Hathavidya is his personal approach to teaching — starting with the individual practice (sadhana), energy (pranayama) and intuitive framework — classical hatha yoga. Will is a contributing writer to publications such as: Elena Brower’s teach.yoga, Kino MacGregor’s OmStars and is a guest columnist for YogaLife Magazine Malaysia. He lives between Vermont and Malaysia.

  • Suffering, Transformation, & The New Reality

    Needless to say, there is suffering. Part of suffering is unavoidable. Small sufferings can wreak havoc momentarily as we attend educational programs, training, relocate, have a child or suffer the loss of a loved one. Often suffering is not the cause of something that was unforeseen though not desired. The word “change” means that something will be made different. It does not say how. We often hear the famous quote “Be the change you…” without taking into account that in order to be change, it is a position elected for one comfortably moving into that which is different, unknown, change itself.

    One of the first ways to seek out the imbalance in Ayurveda is by creating routine. Dinacharya, or a daily care, allows a reset to transpire. The regular, consistency is also crucial in a yoga practice. This daily practice, usually aimed at self-realization, is referred to as sadhana. At root of that work, we have ‘sadʼ to find truth. Seeking change is different than seeking truth. Change can come if we call it but truth is exploring that which is universal and simultaneously internally

    stationary.

    When we seek truth rather than transformation we create stability in our own light. The change can move around us rather than through us. This sets us up for what I refer to as a shift in our psycho-spiritual framework.

    What does this look like?

    Professor Narasimhan and Dr. M.A. Jayashree presented this concept of a metabolic state to me. Think of a coned, funnel standing on the tip. Easy to knock over. Now imagine it balanced on the mouth. Harder, however you can still push it over. If you leave the funnel on its side and push it, it spins in a complete circle. You see it moving but the center of it looks still. The change spins around the fixed point.

    Taking this concept into the framework I mention above it is not as simple as okay, Iʼve knocked the funnel over, I understand. The mind is often not prepared for this change. As Samkya philosophy and yoga introduce there are plenty of dualistic views; good and bad; hot and cold, etc., yet some are blurry to us: pain and pleasure; happiness and sadness. They become blurry as we usually seek to fulfill one that is appealing and avoid one that is potential suffering or painful.

    Patanjali, author of the “Yoga Sutras” spoke of this very concept as part of what is termed “avidya” which is not seeing clearly or with knowledge. This provides us with some word weaponry. One is that knowledge is not merely what you know. It is what you can access, experience and conceive within living. Further, sight is not limited by what you see but it can be limited by avoidance, fear, egoism and demands we place in the world. You can imagine that when the view, or our sight is reactive and operating from avidya that it is incredibly difficult to have a desired, long term outcome that creates stability. In turn, our ideals, mind, get caught up in the spinning of change and it appears as if this is happening to us. That we are in fact here to suffer in the world.

    I am not going to pretend to know anotherʼs suffering and will not ask you to understand that which I have suffered. Perspective, understanding brings about empathy and this is one of the beauties of being a sentient being. You can actually care for someone else. And you can feel for them. That is amazing in itself. Going into that amazing, intimacy, suffering, healing, feeling, each of us also possess a quality which is unique to us. Dharma, which has many definitions, but we will expand into individual purpose. I have noticed in mentoring and teaching and talking to people about life, that we most suffer and experience pain when we are missing or forgetting purpose. Not our occupation but our purpose.

    Another beauty with yoga is it is not for a select few with an unlimited clothing budget, but is readily available to all as it aims at self-identity and realization and part of that is purpose. Our own dharma is a guide. When we move with that, the mind is clear, steady and the movements around us are like a dance. We feel the vibration of the world, people, places and in height or downturn but constant and steady amongst the change.

    Transformation is experienced by feeling our way, growing in the shit and allowing our findings to push into the light. Change is the way in which we transform and it bring us from known to unknown. This can be made steady by dropping the identity in which we had before. Classically, when a siddha (master of yoga) would pierce these states, they would change their name. This is common in yoga by identity but classical is earned through initiation process and reflected purpose and not a cool name that you saw or heard. You lived by the name, reflected in sound and breath and an aspect of the energy that poured through you. That you danced that way, dreamed that way, held another that way and when the mind holds onto identity of that which was, this is when we have psycho-spiritual strife.

    Now what is amplified is not the suffering but the identity of the suffering as one moves from the center of the spinning funnel and into outer spaces of their mental, emotional understanding. Healing involves our own identity that we have with suffering. Transformation involves allowing the body, mind to change, dropping the skin of those results, cravings, desires and moving into the more visible light of our own purpose, over and over again until we no longer need to hold steadiness as we become it amongst change. Is that awesome, you, radiant one!

    Will Duprey

  • Master These 3 Yoga Sutras

    The Yoga Sutras are a collection of aphorisms that teach yoga practitioners all about the 8 limbs of yoga. They are widely regarded as the leading authoritative text about yoga and they are teaming with wisdom that has been helping people live better lives for generations. This week, we are beyond excited to be sharing the insights of International yoga teacher, writer, and storyteller, Will Duprey, regarding 3 very important Yoga Sutras.

    Imagine your mind as one super awesome fiberoptic pathway to consciousness.

    Thoughts and impressions travel this pathway. They create safety and stability in an everchanging environment.

    The cycle of the mind fluctuates between clarity and coloring. Some thoughts are fair and some false but all are strong enough to create a perception.

    Sutra 4.19: Your mind is an object of perception.

    As Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood write, “The mind is not self-luminous; that is to say, it is not a light-giver, like the sun, but a light-reflector, like the moon,” in How to Know God.

    The outside world is in constant change. The change that your mind reflects is not a source of light, knowledge or truth. The mind perceives. Truth comes by association to sensation.

    Remember this Sutra as clarity in sensation, by the way you feel when in balance. 

    The internal energy you experience results only in a coherent mind. And your experiences grouped into the words like “energy” can be disarming.

    Yoga is not a process of accumulation but a doctrine of habit. Sensation is internal to you. It is your map.

    You achieve mental mastery through physical mastery, hatha yoga for the physical tempers the mental. The mind becomes one super awesome fiberoptic pathway to consciousness through allowing.

    When you are out of balance you will feel like you’re living on another planet. When in balance you feel the authentic you.

    Sutra 1.3: Abiding in your real nature.

    You practice with depth. Asana has become equal to the other limbs of yoga for you. You see effort and non effort and you allow — serenity within and surrender outside.

    With that comes a clearer image of you. Not you in the mirror or in doing, but the ever present part of you. The nameless sensation you carry within.

    The tangible goals, ambitions of your practice and life are more about clarity and truth rather than appearance. You smile. You can’t help it when you sit in steadiness, observing your radiant self, abiding in your real nature.

    Real nature is truth and that truth is your compass. Make yoga philosophy simple. Dharma is truth. When you move with this quality, contentment is a sure result.

    Aim your mind at moving with inner sensations and clarity.

    The mastery of the mind, raja yoga has no style.

    Sutra 2.42: Through contentment, you gain supreme joy.

    When you tie all the threads of inquiry together, the mind becomes clear in a different light.

    And the mind threads come together with a different clarity. You reveal an unchanged aspect of your heart.  That steadiness remains through progression and regression. You gain purpose and feel complete in life.

    Think of tying all the threads of inquiry together and through the mind you gain purpose. A completeness in living arising from yoga — direction.

    Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are an amazing treaty on raja yoga. They are not ready to consume and do require their own steadiness.

    Contemplation, or tarka is key. A crucial tool for making the jump from application (dharana) to allowing (dhyana) within mental mastery.

    The takeaway

    You are the takeaway. With extreme simplicity, without you there is not philosophy or thought. For this reason, yoga requires time and pressure…and room to absorb and live the practices.

    As you sit with comfort, become involved in these three contemplations:

    Your mind is an object of perception. Your mind, no matter how clear or clever is subject to misperception. And this is Patanjali’s entire treaty on suffering. When the mind is perceiving, it can operate from a false reality. Focus on internal sensation as a map.

    Abiding in your real nature. Your real nature is clarity. Simple, pure, as is. This will remind you to associate with inner sensation. Your internal energetic sensation will adapt to the environment around you as it remains steady and unchanged with purpose. That is your compass.

    Through contentment, you gain supreme joy. Through contentment you gain joy and not the other way around. Placing joy first establishes a seeking behavior of the mind. Your mind calculates external values as truths and the cycle can repeat. Find contentment in who you are through first two contemplations.

     

    By Will Duprey

    International yoga teacher, writer, storyteller, Will Duprey practices pranayama and meditation and is known for effortlessly combining classical theory with contemporary yoga methods.

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    Learn More About The Yoga Sutras On OmStars