Training is based on the following foundations and topics.
Shiva Kaivalya yoga roots: In the beginning we must come to relate to gravity and the earth, not merely standing on the ground but relating to it. For the beginners placements of hands and feet are essential elements and then understanding how we cooperate with gravity for balance.
The essential concepts of what is required to complete forward bend, backbend, sidebend, twist and inversion are explored and will connect us to the advanced stages with primary principles of movement and posture. Linking the static postures we will become embedded in Hatha, the incorporation of measure, drishti, breathing and counterpose. Strength and stability are the qualities we will emphasise as we touch the fundament.
Shiva Kaivalya Yoga Ascension: With our feet on the ground we can reach for the sky without falling over. Having a firm hold of the basics it is possible to extend the practice safely and begin to explore the limits. The cardinal directions are mapped out with asana which progress in sequences and allow for gradual realistic progression without setbacks. Asana like mountain climbing requires a planned and supported approach avoiding dangers and securing the ground covered. The way is steep and sometimes obscured but by focussing on forward movement the obstacles are overcome.
Shiva Kaivalya Yoga Peak: At the summit we can see where we have been and where we are going now is the time for celebration and expression of joy. The poses reflect the exhiliration and bliss of feeling at home in a special place. The peculiarity of existence is reflected in the many and various possibilities. Having used a map and formula to find our path we now see that there are other ways. Yet the end is just another beginning as here we see the introduction to advanced asana. Beyond this the individual must travel alone but now not merely equipped with a map we can learn to make our own maps.
The Shatkriya (The six detoxification or purification methods according to Hatha Yoga).
“These yogic kriyas, as an indispensable tool, lighten the burden, quicken the cells and atoms, bring brilliance and dance, transform the dross, and pave the highway with gold”.
The kriyas heighten our sense-ability. They strengthen the nerves and open the Heart and Mind. Thus the inner wisdom shines forth on its own.
Purification is a central theme in yoga, along with empowerment, activation and integration. As such it is abides at the first stage of yoga but also at the last simultaneously. This is an inner laboratory — to mother’s holy child born out of sacred wedlock with Infinite spirit — thus the manifestation in reality of infinite love. May this love be widely known.
The kriyas are a series of purification methods, not only of the body and the psychic nerves, but also of the mind, the kleshas(afflictions), the vasana (impure desires) and past karma. The ultimate KRIYA being the burnt offering of all karmic existence as a surrender to the natural, spontaneous, all encompassing, universal Self or Divine Leela (Play). It is here where the kriyas emanate and it is to here the kriyas lead. It is her extremely intelligent dalliance and brilliance which is revealed, as Lord Shiva’s mate. It is divine mother Durga (Shakti) of infinite radiance who shines through, illuminating the entire earth and cosmos with her innate goodness.
Simply put, when our past conditioning and programming no longer dominate and limit our present creative potential, we are then allowed to be engaged in and enter upon the sublime portal of the sacred present having become completely liberated from the energetic dynamic bonds of the past. Because yoga does not validate the separate existence of body, mind, nature and spirit, these yogic cleansing activities work on both the body and mind simultaneously as well as our relationship with creation, causation, our future karma, and spiritual well being.
In particular, Hatha Yoga kriyas stimulate and accelerate body/mind/spirit change and evolution so we become a more powerfully embodied vehicle of evolutionary love, healing, and consciousness.
Here the dross of the body, the impurities, and constrictions of the nervous system and psychic nerves (nadis) are washed away. These practices will be found specifically valuable to asana, pranayama, and meditation students because spiritual and physical progress can be severely hampered in the presence of physical toxins, irritants,impurities, congestive/constrictive habituations, pathway(nadis) blockages, contractions around imbedded irritants, and other similar obstructions of the energy body or physical body.
As these processes affect the blood stream in a sanguine manner, a burden is lifted from all the organs including the brain and nervous system allowing them to function more efficiently and with greater lucidity.
As the asanas liberate evolutionary energy permitting them to circulate in the activated or evolved body/mind, the presence of toxins will cause shut down systems while in many cases create disease patterns unless eradicated. This is obvious in severe cases of liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal syndromes, but it can be applied to the health or stress upon any cell of the body, since the blood stream is affected.
Some areas and systems that have been asleep, de-energized, or not used for a long time may be atrophied, congested, full of toxins, or in need of being flushed and cleaned out while other areas are sources of chronic irritation, inflammation, stress to the immune system, anxiety, mechanical sources of spasm, clumping, and contraction, and the like until their associated obstructions or toxins are loosened and excreted. The hatha yoga kriyas (cleansing activities) are specifically designed to clean the body, energy body, and chakra systems quickly and painlessly. They are often broken down into six or eight divisions of action such as the shat (six) or ashta (eight) karmas (actions).
Most of these purification exercises are designed to remove stagnant internal toxins or inner blockages (called ama in Ayurvedic medicine) consisting of both matter and its associated energy, but they also correspondingly clean out energy paths (nadis) and allow more energy to flow within the body/mind complex. The kriyas will sometimes also release and thus expunge some negative emotional contractions (kleshas) and holding patterns (vasanas) such as pride, fear, anger, greed, jealousy, possessiveness, secretiveness, neurotic desire, attachment, and so forth.
On a physical level accumulated physical wastes are eliminated. Their presence irritates the nerves, slows down function, numbs sensitivities and higher function, and burdens the energy body by inviting unwanted parasites whose presence create unusual cravings and demands for additional nutriments as well as creating nervous agitation. So with mere physical removal of accumulated toxins the body becomes less sluggish, lighter, less agitated, and more sensitive as both the afferent and efferent nerve impulses are less burdened.
Along with these physical cleansings, many of the kriyas specifically work on certain nerve plexi strengthening and activating them increasing function. Other kriyas (such as nadi shodhana) restore balance in the psychic energy channels (nadis) clearing away causal obstructions which govern the health and balance of the entire nervous system including the brain. In general, the hatha yoga kriyas such as the shat karmas (six cleansing methods), open up obstructed energy pathways, enliven previously sluggish or stagnant areas, activate dormant circuitry and function, and in general augment the transformation process of hatha yoga in order to allow the evolutionary healing and creative energy its natural expression.
It is not necessary for everyone to do all of these procedures, as each of us is unique. By experientially performing these, certain effects will be experienced and one who has become even slightly attuned to their own energy will know soon afterwards (through their innate awareness) to which specific exercises they are specifically well suited. How do we know which kriyas will be best unless our inner wisdom is opened? Indeed such is an excellent question. Yoga answers it thusly.
Yoga is not a religion, a set of blind belief, mechanical rules, a dogma, or ideology. Rather yoga says that the answers are inherent in the practices. Just try it and you will see for yourself. Indeed a wise and suitable diet along with an active asana practice is meant to along with these kriyas.
Backbending: One of the most challenging aspects of asana is to stretch the spine into extension known as backbending. Shiva has spent years of training with B.K.S Iyengar in pune, Rudradev in Rishikesh, Swami Vishwarupananda, Acharya Venkatesha in Mysore who is well known internationally for his approch to backbendings Shiva’s approach is presented as a safe and systematic approach, breaking things down into digestible pieces and then putting it all together to see whats possible. When the lower back unlocks then movement in all directions becomes deeper and more substantial. Backbending is exhilarating and very rewarding, the alignment of the lower back and pelvis has an effect on the whole body’s symmetry.
Hip Opening: Anyone who takes asana seriously and intends to make it a part of their life should seriously consider spending a year or two on opening the hip joints. The protection from injury for the knees that open hips provide makes it worth it alone but then flexible hips can prevent back strain as well. Many of the standing poses become easy and will not require so much attention. In fact opening the hips and the lower back is pretty much a definition of the preparation needed for advanced asana practice. Hip opening will improve both forward and backward bending. Most relevant for yogis is the seated position and with flexible hips it is possible to sit comfortably and firmly without pain or numbness in the legs.
Anatomy: Understanding anatomy is probably the most useful information available to a yoga practitioner. In our own practice we develop a keen intuitive understanding of our bodies, yet without the language to communicate this knowledge practice and teaching can be frustrating.
In Shiva Kaivalya Yoga verbal communication is the key to sharing an intelligent process of human movement. The basic terms of Anatomy describe the positioning and movement of the human form in three dimensional space. With clarity and consistency aspirant will develop confidence that comes from knowing rather than guessing.
The limitations of the body must be respected for progress in asana. To understand the basis of these physical limitations anatomy provides the answers. bones, muscles and tissues have various inherent properties relevant to physical strength and flexibility. In fact the riddle of the many and varied asana can be comprehended by knowing what areas of the body are being targeted. By understanding the articulations of the body movement is clarified.
With his background Shiva as a yoga therapist presents this subject with a therapeutic view in mind. Drawing from years of teaching experience he presents an explanation of Yoga as an ultimate medicine or healing which meshes perfectly with the definition of Hatha and Raja to describe how asana, pranayama, meditation and mantra works therapeutically. This is original work that has come from years of personal practice and a discriminative analysis of the practice from years of study.
Pranayama and Pratyahara: On a physical level, these breathing exercises tone and co-ordinate the muscles of respiration. Physiologically however there are some very intresting things happening. In the blood Co2 and O2 levels have a direct effect on two important factors. The state of consciousness is effected, and the stress response may be invoked. Pranayama requires conscious dampening of the stress response and this is its profound effect, to induce a calm state of mind in stressful circumstances. The Yogis believe it to be 10 times as effective as Asana to this end. Also it allows the body to conserve energy. On the mental level Pranayama is a concentration exercise which prepares for meditation. It is believed to be effective in balancing the function of the two sides of the brain.
Shiva’s approach to pranayama is designed to suit an individuals needs and builds from there. The basic breathing excercises are required as is a solid seated position. Then systematically the ratios of inhalation and exhalation are introduced until the basic level is reached. Breath retention and bandhas are then given and a method for advancing in the practice. The whole process should take around three years of practice to reach the advanced level safely.
Pratyahara: (withdrawal of sense organs and mind) is a process of retaining the sense awareness within the field of the body. These exercises are deeply relaxing and lead to a meditative state of mind. In the field of yoga most of the pratyahara techniques come from Tantric meditations and are collectively known as Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep).
Meditation: The jewel in the crown. For this most important practice we will take the seated position developed in asana and bring about steadiness of the body. Then use the pranayama techniques to make the breath even and minimal and begin to calm and soothe the mind. From this base we will begin to learn Dharana (concentration) using the yogic method of taking many points of focus for short periods. Lengthening the period of concentration and keeping the point of focus fixed brings us to Dhyana (absorbtion). Samadhi arises out of awareness which focuses in on itself, it is a natural consequence of practice.
Meditation can be difficult and is commonly misunderstood. Most yoga teachers either embellish or avoid this most vital and fundamental aspect of yoga. To clarify and lay the path we will study Patanjali yoga sutra briefly. Without philosophy yoga can be misguided and even dangerous. Without practice philosphy can be dry and theoretical.
Through meditation liberation is possible in a way that asana and pranayama rarely achieve. The process will begin with fully guided practice and gradually develop to self practice. Shiva’s traditional approach uses shifting points of focus, gradually covering the layers of manifest consciousness. Eventually we identify consciousness iteself as the source.
Ayurveda: Ancient science of India which is “ science of life”. It helps to guide a healthy life and a complete life!!
Tridosha: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are the three functional unit of our body. They are primary constitutional factors of our body, which maintain its integrity.
Saptadhatu: These are the seven basic elements of our body which supports and nourishes our sharira (body) manas (mind) and prana ( life).
Dinacharya and Rutucharya: Ayurveda gives equal importance to the maintenance of health by prevention of ailments and in curing them. A branch of ayurveda deals with the maintenance of swasthya ( state of well being/ steady state of equilibrium). It includes dinacharya ( daily routine) and rutucharya ( seasonal regimen) which has to be followed by the healthy person. Those who follow this will attain longevity, Health, prosperity, fame and above all, heavenly abode at the end.
Ahara krama: As the proverb goes, “ What you Eat, That you become”. It is the diet regimen explained by ancient ayurveda to lead a healthy life.
Ayurveda is eternal. It has no beginning, no end. It’s basic principles are similar to that of the elementary principles of creation of universe. Each and every sentence told in this ancient classical text is true and applicable even today. By applying this life science in our day to day life we can live our life to fullest.