Dragon Yoga Fundamentals
The foundation of yogic and martial arts is not in the number of postures or forms known. It is the basics that are fundamental to building any advanced technique. This section of the Dragon Yoga site offes a glimpse into some of the primary practices and concepts of various arts. The Techniques offered here are aplicable to any art and as bruce lee said “take the best and leave the rest” The Dragon Yoga Fundamentals express a summation of many of the poses and stances found within this section.
Yin Yang Theory
Day has Night, Man has Woman, Black has White, all things have their opposite their Yin and Yang are the ultimate symbols of this idea. The Yin-Yang is the union of opposing forces illustrating its divine teaching in a dynamic symbol. Traditionally the black side is thought of as the feminine and the white side as the masculine. Each side containing the seed or small drop of the other to help show the balance of the micro and macrocosm as well as help show that no thing is ever pure yin or yang that they each have varied degrees of each other. The yin-yang expresses balance and harmony as well as the ever changing cycle of life+death, destruction and renewal, spring and autumn. Using yin and yang in yogic or martial practice can be used as a way of creating balance both in workouts and in actual combat situations. For example in training when practicing external or very exertive exercises balance them with internal fluid light movements, or when stretching lean forward and then back or do the left and then the right. In combat or even sparing begin to bring awareness to your use of yin and yang when someone projects or attacks move yin rather than fight yang with yang and then when you see someone offer yin give yang.
Chinese Five Element Theory
The Basis of the five element theory is nature and the cycles of life. In nature there are primal concepts that express certain innate energies. These energies or elements are the building blocks of all life and the interactions between the living kingdom and the forces of nature. For Example: Water in its myriad forms from raindrops to rivers, from puddles to the mighty ocean water has many expressions. Water is wet, fluid, it fits into any container it can fly or become as solid as a rock and still melt away to move again.Water can combine with other things to sustain life, humans are about 70% water.Yet in any form it always is water. Just as fire is always fire whether the spark of life, the light of the sun, the glow of a candle or the flame in ones heart. The Elements each help to either create or disrupt one another. Each element has defining characteristics. Fire is Hot,quick energy, Earth is Damp, nurturing energy,cool, Metal is Cold, hard energy,solid Water is Wet, moving energy, flowing Wood is Dry, growing energy, strong. Each element has many characteristics and teachings. In the five element wheels creation cycle fire burns to ash leaving earth which crystallizes into metal which then dissolves and solutes into the water which feeds it to the tree as nutrients that grow the wood to be burnt to feed the fire. In the disruption cycle fire melts the metal, metal saws, cuts and chops the wood, the woods roots drill the earth, the dry earth absorbs the water and the water quenches the fire.
Ashtanga 8 Limb Theory
Yamas – Restraints
Ahimsa – Non Violence, Peacefulness
Asteya – Non Stealing, Respect of Others
Satya – Truthfulness
Bramahacharya – Continence, Right use of Sexual Energies
Aparigraha – Non Possessiveness, Non Attachment , Freedom
Niyamas – Observances
Saucha – Purity
Tapas – Austerity
Santosha – Contentment
Svadhyaya – Scriptural Study
Isvarapranidana – Surrender to God
Asanas – Postures
What is now in the western world primarily known as yoga consists of this branch.
The Postures and Poses of Asana Yoga are many and varied. There are hundreds of different schools that teach variations of thousands of different poses. Asana yoga involves purification of the physical body. Through specific movements and breathing the pathways of the body are opened and the kundalini begins to awaken. Yoga asanas can be simple such as touch your toes, or more complex like a martial art form or dance maneuver involving jumps and turning wit legs winding around your neck. Asana is often thought of as a flexibility practice yet it does involve a good deal of balance, strength and stamina. Asanas are designed to purify the body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Mudras(hand positions), Bhandas (locks), Drishtis (gazing points), and physical stretching while in a specific position are the major components of the Asana practice.
Pranayama – Breathing
Our primary and most important connection with life, people, and the world is our breath. Through our inhalations we take in the world drinking of the oxygen mixed with pheromones and exotic aromas. With our exhalation we gift the world with our words and songs and power from the blowing out of a candle to the declaration of love. The breath is our link to life and if we stop breathing we stop living. Pranayama is the art and practice of controlling and training the breath. Many practices contained within the concept of “Pranayama” are explained in that section of this site. The yogi uses breath control and breathing practices to open the body up before, during, and after asana practice and to help initiate the other practices.
Pratayahara – Withdrawal from Sense Perception
Not from eyes nor ears nor smell nor touch shall the yogi be strayed from his path. The ability to focus inwardly rather than on external stimuli is known as pratayahara. In the west this practice is often thought of as meditation. When people first learn to meditate this is actually what they learn before moving on to more advanced practices. By learning to not be distracted by sounds or smells or sights the yogi purifies their inner being and begins to follow the path of self discovery. Pratayahara lets the practitioner listen to their inner voices. It has been said that “prayer is when we say hey god listen to me and meditation is when we say hey god im ready to listen” Through emptying ourselves of distractions and the chaos of the world we get closer to our self and to our dharma.
Dharana – Single Pointed Concentration
This limb of the Ashtanga is where rather than focus on nothing the yogi brings their attentive concentration to a single point or idea. Many Dharana practices are based around a Mantra (seed sound or set of words) that is chanted verbally or mentally. Often the use of a Mala (string of beads) is employed to help the yoga student to keep count of the rounds of chanting. Yantras or special symbols are also used as a point of concentration and even sacred images can be used. The candle flame is another traditional point of focus or drishti as may be a moving river or a raging fire. If all else can be put aside (pratayahara) and one single concept can be contemplated (dharana) then the doorways of self discovery have been unlocked and the sadanah(path to realization) has been begun.
Dhayana – Meditation
True meditation consists of already being able to transcend the realm of physical and sink deeply into the astral realm. Here in the realm of the nadis (meridians) and the chakras true auric development takes place. The yogi is now well on the path of self realization and has found the key to unlocking the doors of enlightenment. Meditation is the state that chi kung masters function within. Meditation is the state of being after deep asana or pranayama practice. Meditation is the feeling of a river or the ocean or the forest . In true meditation the world breaths us rather than we breathe the world. When this state is archived within it come revelations and realizations. These forms of spiritual growth and insight are instantly integrated into our being not comprehended as a lesson.
Samadhi – Superconciousness
The path of climbing all of the limbs and searching all of the branches of the Ashtanga tree lead to the eating of its most precious and sacred fruits Samadhi. The state of samadhi is one of the enlightened nature, the buddha mind, the superconcious realized being. When in samadhi we are surrounded by and permeated by bliss and self love and acceptance. This enlightened state is the purpose of yogic purification. This state is desireless and pure and is in total awareness of its own perfection. Many taste of the fruit of enlightenment but few savor its taste or are nourished by its potency. That is to say that many yogis on the path reach the state of samadi but few remain in it for long. To be enlightened is a journey not a destination, if we are still alive then we still have growing and learning to do and as we realize and learn more and more we find out that we understand little and have much more to comprehend. So the state of samadhi is the highest point of yoga and thru it many new doors are unlocked. The enlightened mind can help share light with others and also can be a living testament to the true innerstanding and sense of well being achievable by continual practice and devotion to personal and spiritual growth.
Chakra is the Sanskrit word for wheel also for disc and primarily connotes the energy centers of living beings. There are traditionally seven major chakras in the human body. Each chakra has a different role and primary concept of energy that it represents. Chakras grow as our life experiences effect our spiritual development. The chakras have petals that represent primary lessons related to that chakras concept. The chakras are colored like the rainbow (which has seven colors as does the musical scale) and are counted from bottom to top. The first chakra Muladhara is known as the root chakra and is located at the base of the body. This base chakras primary teaching is: Rooting. The four petals are Foundation, Survival, Discipline, Stability. The second chakra located at the navel is known as Svadhisthana or the sexual chakra. This chakras primary teaching is: balance and it contains six petals. The lessons of the petals are duality, law, gender/sex, dominance/submission, polarization, and karma. The third chakra or chakra of the will is known as Manipura and has ten petals. This chakra is located at the solar plexus and its primary lesson is: Power and its petals are power struggle, strength, stamina, focus, will, parents, finance, age, race, religion. The fourth chakra is know as Anahata or the heart chakra and is located in the middle of the chest, its primary teaching is: Compassion. This chakras twelve petals lessons are relationships, romance, animals, children, elderly, ill, racial compassion, death, abundance, mercy, family, self. The fifth chakra known as the throat chakra or Visuddha. This chakras teaching is: Communication. It has sixteen petals which are language, music, speech, telepathy, clairvoyance/clairaudience, teaching, writing, reading, prophecy, purity, loyalty, respect, responsibility, reasoning, giving, receiving. The sixth chakra, Ajna is known as the third eye. This is the chakra teaching: Awareness and its two petals are memory / knowledge and creativity / vision. The seventh chakra or crown chakra is known as Sahasrara. This chakras primary lesson is Connection. This chakra is known as the thousand petaled lotus and can have any number of petals. This chakra connects us to our spirit and to god. The chakras are awakened by certain activities or situations and the petals are grown through experience. The chakras are connected by three channels or nadis ida or sun nadi and pingala or moon nadi weave in and out of each chakra while shushumna travels directly up the middle.