Categories
Octavio's Articles

Tantra is Not About Sex. Don’t Get Distracted.

By Octavio Salvado..

Today, Tantra’s innocence is being robbed by charismatic perverts, fooling the masses that Sex is Tantra and sensuality can lead to enlightenment. Its nonsense. Don’t buy into the hype. You’ll only slow down your progress, and probably create an absolute mess of your relationships in the process.

This grand deception is a prime example of Maha Maya (cosmic delusion) in Her most dazzling cloak, where She has even tricked us into poisoning life’s greatest medicine – practice itself. Such fun She has! But the time has arrived for us to wake up to the reality that although sex can be sacred and should certainly always be conscious and beautiful, for yogis like us, it cannot be truly Tantric.

Why can’t Sex be Tantric?

Because the ritualistic rigours of the Left-handed path (the aspect of Tantra that involves sexual practices) are far beyond the reach and capacity of general practitioners. Ask yourself, can I:

  • Sit perfectly still for 3 hours?
  • Sense, guide and direct my own Prana perfectly?
  • Focus my mind in a non-distracted way for long periods of time?
  • Activate my own Kundalini Shakti at will?
  • Remove all sense of lust and desire from the sexual act?

Now ask yourself, would I:

  • Want to perform sexual practices in the presence of other people?
  • Be willing to learn the hundreds of necessary Mantras and long list of Mudras and Pranayamas required to perform the Tantric sexual ritual correctly and safely?

If you cannot answer YES to every single one of these questions, then forget about the Left-handed path. Its not for you. 

Dabbling in this façade is pure distraction and will only increase our addictive tendencies and unhelpful habits, which will slowly weaken the mind, destroy memory and concentration power and keep our Pranic force bound to the lower Chakras – the exact scenario Tantra is designed to combat.

Just to clarify, a true Tantric Guru would never initiate a practitioner who hadn’t first demonstrated a clear mastery over their own mind and energy and a strong capacity to access their own vast inner pool of Kundalini Shakti. So, if this is not yet a part of your daily Sadhana, let go of the idea.

You cannot sleep your way to Samadhi.

Anyone who tells you differently is either trying to steal your money or get in your pants. Having lived minutes away from one of the biggest (and most notorious) ‘Tantric’ schools in the world for several years, I’ve seen every Tantric hustle in the book. Yet surprisingly, I’ve never met a self-proclaimed Tantric Guru, or even teacher that emanated the true essence of actual Tantra, Yoga, or just human decency. 

My advise is to get a grip on your own life and practice first by mastering the methodologies laid out in Tantric texts like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, or study with solid Tantric Hatha Yoga teachers who’s lives, practices and relationships truly inspire you. What does a Tantric Practice actually look like?

  • Asana (postures)
  • Kumbhaka (breath retentions)
  • Bandha (Energy locks)
  • Mudra (The fusion of Asana, Kumbhaka and Bandha)
  • Kriya Meditation (Meditations involving inner light, sound and Pranic movement)
  • Mantra Japa (Silent repetition of Mantra)

I am not saying don’t work on intimacy, or ignore the value and wonder of a loving, sexual connection, because these things are a beautiful part of being human. My suggestion is that out of respect, we stop insulting actual Tantra by calling these couple’s workshops, sensuality seminars and masturbation books ‘Tantra’, because they are not. They do not even belong to the same universe.

In reality, if we did manage to find a true Tantric text on the left handed path, we probably wouldn’t even want to read it – far too dry, technical and unsexy! Forget about 50 shades of grey! Think instead, 50 chapters of dense technical information!

The answer is simple – Do your practice! Do it correctly and consistently. Do it daily. Meditate every single day and touch in on that self-luminous being that exists inside of you, full of beauty and free of fear. This is the goal of true Tantra. To transform the inner world and become a living shrine. Then, everything you do, including making love, will be Sacred.

This blog was originally published on the Moon Sun Fire App.

 

Categories
Octavio's Articles

The Howler

By Octavio Salvado.

Several hundred years ago, when the West was first being exposed to the philosophies of the East, many of the key concepts were simplified, or miscommunicated. Orientalists at the time, in doing their research on advanced topics, unskillfully questioned the common folk instead of adepts better suited to answer questions dealing with the intricacies of the subtle world.

Imagine asking a rice farmer about molecular biology. Undoubtedly their response would be lacking in both accuracy and depth. The same thing happened with Tantric philosophy. Complex questions were asked, yet very basic answers were given. We can clearly see this demonstrated with the concept of Rudra, the Howler.

The Layman’s understanding is that this primal version of Lord Shiva is so fierce and violent that he causes us to howl in fear and cry out in terror. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Rudra is howling out of deep compassion and love for humanity, seeing our deep pain and anguish, having separated ourselves from Him.

So then who, or what is Rudra?

Rudra is that primal force that breathes life into everything, causing life to thrive. The word Rudra is a composite of two root-sounds. RUD means ‘that which lifts us up’ and DRA translates to ‘that which calls forth’. Rudra is about calling forth the power within us that lifts us up out of darkness, out of fear and worry. Rudra is determination and will, the inner motivating force that protects us from sloth, laziness, procrastination and inertia – the inner drive within all beings to fight in favor of life!

On the grandest level, Rudra is the energy that ensures that all of life, nature and the cosmic order continue to exist in symbiotic harmony. Biologically within us, Rudra is the governing force behind our breath, our heartbeat, our lungs, the metabolism within the cells, the fire that breaks down and assimilates the food we eat. Rudra is that which fills us with energy and vibrancy.

In short, Rudra is Kundalini Shakti Herself. Forget about gender here, folks. Personified expressions of Deities are nice, but from Tantra’s lofty perspective, they are for knuckleheads who lack the subtle sensitivity required to register pure, vibratory truth. The reality of God is beyond all divisions and all form. Rudra is both our heavenly Mother and Father, existing eternally inside of us and all around us, as the spark of life within all things – the sacred Fire at the source of all creation.

The connection between Kundalini, Rudra, the sacred Fire and our own human excellence is the central most theme, or pillar of Tantra.

It is therefore a great calamity that the concept of Kundalini, along with its complimentary fire-based practices, have been so widely misunderstood, or ignored by modern Yoga.

Today, Kundalini is considered, for the most part, a myth, or at the very least, an inaccessible aspect of the Yoga tradition, particularly for regular, daily practitioners like us. It isn’t. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kundalini is VERY accessible under the right circumstances and EXACTLY for people like us.

Here’s why –

Our gross and subtle bodies are designed specifically to be conduits of activated Kundalini energy. Why do you think you came equipped into this life with a more advanced nervous system and Nadi system than all other creatures in God’s grand and vast creation? Did nature make a mistake?    

Nature does not make mistakes. We are living shrines to Rudra, the life-force power that guides and governs all creation and as humans, our primary directive in life, is to yoke ourselves so completely to this sacred Fire, to Rudra, to Kundalini Shakti that we illuminate every space we enter and positively activate everything we touch. Therefore, the practices that connect us to Kundalini Shakti were designed precisely for people like us.

Tantra says that the very reason there is so much darkness, forgetfulness, anger and corruption in the world today, is because we have renounced the idea that each person is a living Kundalini shrine.

As a result of this, we no longer live in ways that are aligned to Kundalini’s power and glory – which is OUR true power and glory – and we continue, against our own best interest, to neglect the practices designed to remedy the situation.

It’s time to end this madness, born of inner spiritual poverty and absolute confusion about who we are. It’s time for humanity to reclaim its rightful throne as sovereign protectors, healers and guides for all of life’s creatures and to embrace the hidden power buried deep within us. And this all starts with practice.

Tantra invites us to ignite the sacred Fire through the time-tested, complimentary sciences of Hatha Yoga and Rudra Yaga (Tantric Fire ritual). These methods, when performed accurately and with the right intention, are how we slowly, safely and systematically empower ourselves to move beyond all fear, doubt and disease and regain the fundamental trust in ourselves and in life necessary to lead a truly exceptional inner and outer existence. Everything else, in regard to practice, is a distraction.

Any practice that doesn’t address Kundalini, simply isn’t real Yoga. It is a fake, plastic log-fire pretending to burn, giving off artificial light and only pseudo-comfort. Do not believe the lie that you are not worthy of Kundalini, or are unable to reach Her. She is your Mother. He is your Father. It is the source of your own true being, calling out to you – Howling.

Yogi, Yogini, I’m talking to you right now. Renounce the modern Yoga lie that Kundalini is a far off dream, only fit for Sages in caves. This idea is nonsense and it is destroying Yoga. It is destroying us, one fear, one doubt, one unhelpful reaction at a time.

Practice is about one thing and one thing only – providing practitioners with the precise tools and means required to become a living embodiment of the sacred Fire, the force of Rudra – the most vibrant, energetic, determined and valiant expression of Kundalini Shakti. So strike the match, Yogi. Stoke the flames, Yogini. Offer up for sacrifice everything that is holding you back from stepping into your power and then do what you were designed to do.

Ignite the whole fucking world with your brilliance.

Categories
Octavio's Articles

Dharmic Lives Matter

By Octavio Salvado.

It’s time for us to renounce the lie, that somehow in the eyes of God, certain people are more privileged than others when it comes to finding happiness and success in life. This is the exact opposite of what the Yoga Tradition stands for.

To suggest that race, color, or economic class provide the upper hand when it comes to true liberation and freedom, as certain high-ups in the Yoga world are currently pushing, is a complete dishonoring and distorting of the Yoga Tradition and an indication of lack of loyalty to it.

If, on the other hand, what we are talking about here is a soulless, controlled, mediocre existence, then yes, I agree wholeheartedly. Certain demographics definitely have an advantage when it comes to achieving averageness.

Racism exists, as does sexism, fascism and many other ‘ism’s’. There is no denying it. Yet there is a broader reality governing humanity and all of life, called Dharmic Law, that when understood, obliterates all obstacles to greatness and all arguments regarding privilege.

This is a universal truth that applies to all. You will not be happy unless you achieve your Dharmic potential, which is the singular reason that you incarnated onto this planet. Dharma is the ONLY way to find lasting happiness in this world and there are no exceptions to this rule.

As the Bhagavad Gita states:

Life and Death are not nearly as important as ‘How’ we live. Only Dharma gives our lives meaning.

Please hear it again so it penetrates through the layers of indoctrination and conditioning: only Dharma, only Soul-aligned purpose brings happiness and success. No exceptions. No special privileges.

People who are selling the ‘poor me’ or ‘poor them’ narrative and still calling themselves Yogis, are hypocrites and are not helping people, or their students evolve, but perpetuating a limited view of what it means to be human and the gift that it is.

If you truly want to serve humanity, then teach people about Dharmic Law and lead by your own radiant example. Communicate and demonstrate that everyone can be a force of nature, no matter what their skin color or circumstances. Teach people that Life strives to assist those who strive to help themselves.

Personally, my role models have always been black or brown. As a kid and all through my high school years, I worshipped Michael Jordan. Now as an adult (and realizing that I probably won’t make it to the NBA) my focus has shifted.

Now, instead of Air Jordan posters on my wall, I have Pandit Rajmani Tigunait posters on my alter.

The common thread: Dharma

The common thread connecting both of these extraordinary men, apart from their skin color is Dharma. Both men came from relatively poor families, in relatively poor communities. No special privileges. Yet they heard the inner call, as we all do at one time or another and they committed to that mission uncompromisingly.

They endured the storms and hustled, each in their own way, harder than all the rest. More practice, more study, more failure, more growth. They rose above their circumstances.

Its time to evolve the narrative. If you are pushing the pity card for yourself or others, then you are trapped in a self-created, extremely flawed vision of reality that only leads to one place – suffering.

Let me spell it out for you. This is how you succeed in life and the only way you will be happy.

Get clear on what you love – figure out that one thing that lights you up more than anything else. Then ask yourself if by committing to that thing, you can serve the world and make it shine a little brighter.

Now, for the rest of your life, commit to that thing with the full force of your soul and with every ounce of energy that you have, indefinitely and without wavering.

Next, expect ridicule, criticism, failure, un-follows, set-backs and difficulties. Train yourself to be resilient. Train yourself to get up, time and time again, brush yourself off and keep going with increased tenacity towards your goal. Then train yourself to trust in life.

The result, 100% of the time, without fail, because this is Universal Law, will be that the forces of nature and the broader universal forces, such as those governing timing, opportunities and synchronicity will conspire to assist you in your Dharmic mission and provide you with everything that you need to succeed, or at least to get to the next step.

Will you be rich? Maybe. Will you be happy? Undoubtedly. This is true success.

If your path is the correct one and truly aligned to your grandest reasons for being here, then NOTHING can stop this process. It won’t be instantaneous and it won’t be without heartache, loss and sacrifice, but if you commit fully, it must come to fruition. This is the Law.

If you want proof, first look at nature and see how empowered every single creature is to do its allotted ‘work’. This power comes from alignment to the higher design. From this alignment, each aspect of nature is compelled to act with precision and power and life unfolds harmoniously and with immense beauty.

The reason human beings are not connected and empowered in the same way is largely because of free will, which is a gift or disaster depending on how it is used.

When we are not connected to the guiding principle of life, then free will moves us towards experiences of separation and lack. This will ultimately orchestrate our downfall via mediocrity, or self-initiated destruction and is exactly what we are seeing on a major scale across the planet right now.

The real global pandemic is lack of connection to God and to the forces of goodness that sustain all of creation.

If you want further proof of the laws of Dharma at work, research the vast number of ‘true’ success stories that have come from nothing, or very little. Those who have come from poverty, abuse and hardship, overcome the greatest of odds to achieve their own unique version of greatness.

Typically, these are the success stories that warm our hearts, because we sense the truth in them. All succeeded because either consciously, or unconsciously they understood and tapped into the Eternal Law, a law which is incorruptible.

Privilege can be a major obstacle to happiness.

The concept of ‘Privilege’, as it’s being pedaled today, can actually be a major obstacle to true happiness and success. Why? Because it usually goes hand in hand with money and education.

Education is not synonymous with intelligence. Academics are some of the dumbest people I know, because a lot of the time they lack the inner access to their intuition and God-given capacity to ‘feel’ into what is true. Too much time spent in the left brain analyzing things and being told what to think and HOW to think.

As a result, critical thinking and gut instinct are devoured by memory and book knowledge. Curious minds become submissive, left-brain robots bowing to every command, no matter how unjust or insane, coming from those who they deem ‘above them’ intellectually and higher up the food chain.

Being born into money is another potential obstacle to Dharma. Do you seriously think that money buys happiness? Look around you. Money not earned through hard work often corrupts the personality and makes it weak. Money can also pad us from the necessary blows from life that are meant to shape us.

Furthermore, those who offer the money, whether its parents, or a benefactor will likely have some pre-established agenda for the direction ‘they’ think we should take in life. At the first sniff of rebellion, they will bring the authoritarian hammer down, tell us to get back in line and threaten to withdraw the income flow.

Its time to evolve beyond this worn out idea of ‘privilege’. Its time to evolve beyond fundamental flaws in perception regarding core spiritual truths about life. Its time to evolve beyond hiding behind slogans that allow us to play small, or that keep others small.

We are ALL equal in the eyes of God. Every living Soul has the same potential to be happy and succeed. Therefore, let’s stop whining, complaining and blaming others. Our destiny is in our hands.

Get up. Be brave and go make something of your life.

Octavio is now delivering live-streamed weekly philosophy lectures on Wednesdays at 2pm Bali time. Book your spot online.

Categories
Octavio's Articles

Believe That Both are Possible

by Octavio Salvado.

Where have all the role models gone? Where are the radiant examples of individuals showing us that success in the inner world does not have to obliterate success in the outer world, or vice versa? Tantra’s message is Simple. Both are possible.

Tantra is two things, a life affirming philosophy that views the world as a living expression of the sacred, plus a potent set of methods providing the exact means to experience this philosophy. The ultimate goal of Tantra is to live an extraordinary life, inner and outer both.

According to the tradition, this is achieved through the skillful and willful integration of three separate yet interconnected ideas: Bhoga (Fulfillment), Apavarga (Freedom) and Bhukti (Accomplishment).

In other words, to fulfill our ultimate potential as human beings we must delight in our human lives in a way that’s connected to our highest self and from that place breathe life into meaningful ideas that serve the world.

Bhoga is often defined as the desire for material, or worldly fulfillment. It speaks to the inherent desire to feel pleasure and enjoyment. There are many paths that deny this and try to suppress it.

Tantra sees it as an inescapable part of being human. It states that by meeting this desire with self-awareness, the glory of the soul can be experienced in daily life adding much richness and meaning to it.

Tantra does not support reckless or indulgent behavior. It does not support promiscuous sex, open-relationships, or recreational drug use. This is something we in the West have made up to give ourselves permission to sanctify our general lack of inner resolve. It is much easier to stay engaged in our lower tendencies when we pretend those tendencies are somehow ‘Yogic’.

For this reason, Tantra can be described as a kind of razor’s edge. Many Yogis fall from that edge, or slice themselves in the dance. The number of sexual lawsuits against ‘Gurus’ and international Yoga teachers is a sad and disgusting example of this.

Tantra invites us to enjoy the body and delight in the world from a place of unwavering spiritual discrimination. We should always be asking ourselves ‘who is driving the bus in this moment?’, because the soul will never steer us wrong. When we celebrate life in this way, we give credibility to Yoga, instead of dragging its name through the mud.

Desire, when well informed, is also a powerful tool for spiritual evolution. In fact, without a borderline obsessive desire to evolve beyond our limiting patterns, we simply won’t. The shakti, or power held within those limitations will continue to restrict our forward momentum like a riptide pulling us out to sea.

Apavarga means liberation from these lower tendencies and a subsequent anchorage to the higher Self. Although Tantra invites us to delight in the human world, it also provides an exact set of methods for transcending the limitations of the body and mind allowing us to experience absorption into that which transcends both.

Tantra does not view Bhoga and Apavarga as being in conflict with one another. Instead it views them as major aspects of living an integrated and extraordinary life. The weaving of our human ability to thrive in the world and our spiritual ability to live in constant remembrance of who we are represent two thirds of the tapestry. Yet there is one more crucial thread to living an exalted life – Bhukti.

Bhukti translates to ‘accomplishment’. Tantra does not support shying away from worldly success in the name of spirituality. When Krishna demands that Arjuna rise from the floor of his chariot and pick up his bow to fight, this is Bhukti.

Understanding our soul’s grandest vision and bringing that vision to life is at the core of Tantra? What is your hidden gift? And will achieving that goal bring more light, more healing, more meaning, knowledge and joy to the world? If the answer is yes, then you have a spiritual obligation to exhaust every last resource you have until that dream is a manifested reality. The Gita again reminds us, “Life and death are not nearly as important as HOW we live. In the end, only Dharma gives our lives meaning.”

Tantra is not for the fickle or faint of heart, it demands that we utilize all of our intrinsic power and self-knowledge to overcome struggle and undoubtedly the ambush of inner and outer criticism to accomplish great things in the world. In this way we both serve the world and honor our soul’s innate glory and magnificence.

Believe that both are possible; inner and outer success. If we are not experiencing this, then either we have misunderstood the teachings, our methodology is inadequate, or we are not investing enough effort into our study and practice. Either way, our destiny is where it has always been – in our own very capable hands.

Categories
Octavio's Articles

The Unlikable Road to Freedom

by Octavio Salvado.

Imagine a yoga world where people automatically assumed that when you go to a ‘yoga’ class you will also practice meditation. Imagine a yoga world that taught classes without music, recognizing that silence and single pointedness of mind are the pre-requisite for the deeper inner experiences that yoga promises. Imagine a yoga world that valued tradition and ancient wisdom over innovation and creative sequencing. This is the yoga world that I dream of, and it is coming.

The new paradigm starts with us, the teachers. There is no point us complaining that students these days lack the desire to go deeper. If there is a lack of desire in students, then it is merely a reflection of something lacking in those that are sharing it.

Nowadays I feel that teachers are afraid to lose students, or disappoint them. We would prefer to be liked, followed and paid more than respected and as a result, we seek to entertain students rather than educate them. Class numbers and big followings do not make a great teacher. A great teacher, in my opinion, is forged in the fires of tradition, discipline, loyalty, obedience, failure and humility, shaped over decades of relentless study and practice… and scrubbing toilets.

We live in a yoga culture weakened by entitlement, impatience and a general dislike for hard, unsexy, behind the scenes work. If we can’t post about it, it doesn’t exist and it certainly doesn’t matter. Teachers want name and fame without realizing that there are no shortcuts in the yoga world. Peripheral, quick popularity is an illusion and an obstacle on the path to real progress as a teacher. If you’re a newer teacher, avoid it like the plague. The Masters of the tradition see everything and in the end, it is them pulling the strings from behind the veil and them pulling the rug out from under our feet when we get ahead of ourselves. Their timing is usually exquisite.

There is a wonderful term that addresses this, called ‘Adhikara’, often translated as ‘studentship’. However, the literal meaning is ‘the right to know’. It speaks to the idea that each of us earns the right to receive the teachings based on our own genuine dedication to practice and study. In truth, the age old axiom isn’t ‘when the student is ready, the teachings will appear’, more accurately, its when the student is prepared. In the end, only time, effort and reverence can properly prepare us to move beyond the periphery and share something truly meaningful as teachers.

Furthermore, this progression should be total. Its insufficient to merely evolve our practice and study and discount the importance of simultaneously evolving our relationships, our mental steadiness, our patience, our parenting, and our professional life. To truly earn the right to know and call ourselves yoga teachers, we must courageously seek out constant progress in all areas of life. Then and only then do we become more capable of receiving, assimilating and ultimately sharing the deeper and more profound practices and teachings of yoga.

Maturity, both on and off the mat takes time. I am very familiar with immaturity in both of these areas and believe me, it comes with a lot of karma, so don’t rush. Don’t be in a hurry to be somebody, or to be a visionary, develop a yoga style, or start a movement. If that is your destiny, then the Masters will organize it. Just keep on practicing, dedicate your whole self, your efforts and devotion in a straight, unwavering line along a singular path and don’t deviate from it. Earn your stripes over years and decades, not months and fearlessly commit to improving all dimensions of your life and being.

If we want to see changes in the yoga world and in our students, then as teachers we must be willing to make a stand and make the hard, unglamorous choices, sacrificing fun, insta-fame and numbers to do the right thing. Turn off the stereo and practice at home in silence. Meditate everyday without fail, regardless of whether you ’feel like it’. Remain grateful and open in the wake of one-star reviews. Teach a class of two students with as much passion as you’d teach a class of one hundred. Give zero shits about being popular. Relate to your yoga on the inside.

We all know what the right thing to do is. We just need to stand down from our pedestals and do it and trust that the tradition will support us and that the merits of our own hard-earned efforts will keep us afloat in the chaos that inevitably comes with regeneration and the glorious cycle of death and rebirth.

Categories
Octavio's Articles

It Was Never About The Bones

by Octavio Salvado.

When Ice Cube rapped “Better check yo-self before you wreck yo-self” he wasn’t speaking to modern Yogis, although he may as well have been. Because unless every traditional text on Hatha Yoga, including Swatmarama’s quintessential expose on the ancient science, the ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’ are wrong, Yoga has never been about the body. It was never about the bones.

To begin with, bones don’t even exist. Not really. As soon as we take an electron microscope to a bone and dial in a few clicks, an intricate web of neatly ordered, vibrating, crystalline molecular strings appear. These, upon closer inspection transform into clusters of atoms sweeping back and forth, dancing in unison to a silent melody like a green ocean of grass blades in the wind. If we then zoom in again, the seemingly solid electrons dissolve revealing a vacuum of space supporting a tiny nucleus that upon even further magnification, similarly dissolves into what could best be described as an oscillating field of energy.

The reality is that bones definitely do not exist, at least not as we typically understand them, and neither does anything else. So why would an ancient culture spend thousands of years developing a science to study a non-reality? Exactly. They didn’t. The ancient Yogis understood that life is the intelligent dance of interlocking, pulsating fields of energy occupying the vast infinity of space, simply giving off the illusion of substance via the bonds created by resonant frequencies interacting with one another. They called this field the ‘Nāda’, the ocean of silent sounds. Meditative absorption into it, Swatmarama suggests, is the very purpose of Hatha Yoga. Not surprisingly, the chapter on Asana is way back in the beginning and the syllabus of postures is slim and primarily seated.

Asana certainly plays a role in Yoga, if and when its done well, which currently it isn’t. The great Yogi Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of modern postural Yoga, never intended for adults to practice Vinyasa the way it is taught today, as it runs counter to the fundamentals of Ayurveda and therefore, Yoga. There are exceptions of course. For example, if a student’s primary constitution is Kapha, or if they are in the Kapha years of their life (between birth and age twenty) or if a Kapha imbalance needs treating, then a dynamic, heating practice could be a beneficial strategy to address the inherent qualities of Kapha.

What’s frighteningly obvious today however, is that the integrated knowledge that truly empowers practice, such as the non-negotiable connection between Yoga and Ayurveda is not there. One glance across the sweaty sea of bright lycra reveals a distinct absence of the Kapha constitution. One or two (God bless their souls) will show up and do the honest work perfectly suited to them and the rest, being a mix of intense Pittas and up in the clouds Vatas will both suffer in different ways the wrath of heated rooms, perfuse sweating, loud music, lack of space between poses, competitive environments and unscientific sequencing. The result? A culture of Yogis burning through Ojas like cheap incense sticks. Yogis destroying their immune systems, disturbing their sleep cycles, destabilizing their digestion and sabotaging any real chance of ever achieving deep states of meditation. Instead, the coating covering the nerves keeps getting thinner and thinner until the 40 year-old Yogi’s personality reverts back to one of an over-reactive teenager. Yes, I said it. Sometimes Yoga can take us backwards.

The complimentary issue is that to an imbalanced system, an imbalanced practice will feel healthy, in the same way that a drink will feel relieving to an alcoholic, but just because it feels good it doesn’t mean its good for us. Raw food and our modern obsession with smoothie bowls are other examples of this insanity. Interestingly, these seemingly separate issues tend to show up in the same circles. Both go completely against the fundamental teachings that Yoga has been trying to get through our skulls for several millennia – that in order to thrive, we need inner fire. If we put cold, wet things into our digestive system, the digestive flame will fizzle out, lose its power to process and assimilate food and in many cases, completely extinguish. And to be clear, inner fire, Agni is not generated by turning up the thermostat or by increasing the intensity or complexity of practice.

Again, there are certain constitutions that manage raw food and cold, wet piles of pink and purple mud more efficiently, however generally speaking they suppress the digestive fire which, digestive issues aside and perhaps most importantly, results in a dimming of our mental fire. We become less able to process information, extract nourishment from our experiences and convert it into wisdom. We become less mentally bright.

Do the Traditional texts speak about lightening our intake of food? Yes, in terms of quantity, definitely they do. Existing on nuts and berries on the other hand only applies if we are forest-dwelling ascetics who have the liberty of sitting in ashrams and under banyan trees meditating for 12 hours a day. We are house-holders, mothers, fathers, business owners, students, life-livers and the reality is that to live an extraordinary life, we need the inner fire burning brightly. So check yo-self before you wreck yo-self because smoothie bowls ain’t good for your health, and for the most part neither are hot, sweaty practices, even if they feel good. As a superior yardstick for balance, check your immune system, check the genuine depth of your meditations, check your digestion, check your sleep patterns and check the way you show up in emotionally charged situations. These are the measures that matter.

Its time for Yoga to return to Yoga and ditch the addiction to feel good, flip your dog and flow Yoga. Sweat til you drop, twenty-day Yoga-shred Yoga. Tone your muscles and not your mind kinda Yoga. People ask, ‘Isn’t all Yoga, good Yoga?’ But this is the same as asking ‘isn’t all sex, good sex?’ And we all know the answer to that. Transcendental experiences, whether on the mat or in the bedroom require a serious slowing down, flavored with love, care, patience, presence and in my opinion, no soundtrack. If what we are seeking are the subtle, inner frequency-rivers of the Nāda that connect us to the electro-magnetic ocean comprising all things, then a human playlist becomes a deadweight, anchoring us to a mundane experience of an illusory, peripheral reality.

Yoga’s future depends on the past. A return Tradition, starting with balancing the food-body with a constitutionally sound diet that for the most part, you guessed it, will not include smoothie bowls. Supporting smart food choices will be intelligent Asana practices that don’t over-heat the body or agitate the mind. Practices with space, stillness, silence and slowness built into them, fleshed out with deep seated twists and folds, belly-down backbends and the occasional elbows thrown in the abdomen. Medicine for the modern mind. These are the game changers for the majority of modern Pitta and Vata dominant Yogis. Not hand-standing, not grand-standing, not hollow back anything. Asana is there to pave the way for Meditation by clearing energetic blockages that tend to coalesce in the area between the navel and the pelvic floor, again, the home of Agni, the abdominal fire. When the navel is free, the mind is free. Then we can we evolve the presently backwards moving Yoga dialogue to include the more advanced methods that pulse at the heart of the tradition.

Kriya Yoga and Raja Yoga are two such suggested methods that speak to Swatmarama’s opening verse regarding Yoga’s intended trajectory. The author begins with his praise to the original Yogi, Lord Shiva, who he then tells us instructed his wife, Parvatti in the teachings of Hatha Yoga, considered the ultimate stairway for those who wish to ascend to the highest state of Yoga, Meditation. Hatha Yoga, including Asana, Pranayama, Bandha and Mudra are merely a stairway guiding the mind towards absorption into the vibrating waves of the Nāda, the ocean of primordial sound-currents.

Kriya Yoga as a higher octave of Hatha Yoga, involves the consolidation of Hatha’s Prana-driven practices. It is considered the ideal form of Yoga for modern Yogis who genuinely aspire to advance towards the sublime heights of meditation. For Sattvic minds, namely those people who don’t have jobs, homes, families, partners, pets, parents and worldly lives to attend to, Raja Yoga is the suggested road. The Raja path is not for people like us. Our minds are too Rajasic, too busy, they are constantly moving because our lives are full of activities and responsibilities. Therefore, we must meet our minds where they’re at and skillfully guide consciousness towards the Nāda through the systematic manipulation of energy.

Kriya is a dynamic form of meditation designed for active minds. It appropriately opts to bypass working on the mind directly at the risk of splitting it open even further into duality and instead uses simple, accessible postures with inner visualizations and mantras to guide energy into the spine and upwards to awaken the latent areas of the brain. In doing so, through consistent effort, a refined sense of self arises and a corresponding expanded understanding of a non-solid reality.

Our constant obsessing over the body, putting the bones into increasingly more complicated shapes, shredding the body, sculpting it, flipping it, popping it and ignoring the subtle body is no longer serving us, or humanity. ‘Meditate. Meditate. Meditate’. This is the mantra of the future of Yoga. Same as it was in the beginning. The time has come to evolve the conversation and move beneath the periphery and beyond the shallows. The Masters are calling us from the deep and only in stillness will we hear their call. So pause, be still and listen, because in the silence, we truly can hear the entire universe.

Octavio and the team at The Practice deliver weekly Kriya and Nidra meditations on a Tuesday and Thursday at 3pm. Plus at The Practice Online you can get to experience Kriya and Yoga Nidra classes with Octavio and The Practice Teachers.

Categories
Octavio's Articles

Let Us Be Respectful and Intelligent Also

by Octavio Salvado.

Modern Yogis have been handed the keys to the kingdom and instead of using them to unlock the door to higher consciousness, we’ve made them into flimsy, plastic replica keys, fashion accessories. We’ve mass-produced them and attached them to strings of cheap mala-beads that will never see the light of real Sadhana. Some people say that all Yoga is good Yoga. I don’t hang out with those people.

When my beloved Sat Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda addressed the American crowds gathered to hear him speak in the 1920’s, his message was clear, “God is in your Spine. Yoga is the science of realizing this truth. Do not fail to take full advantage of what I am telling you.” Yet here we are, a century later and Yoga has been watered down so much that it is barely recognizable as the Royal path it once was. We have taken something sacred and precise and made it mundane and chaotic.

Imagine taking the traditional ceremonial practices of the Indigenous Australians and making sixty-minute fitness classes out them. THURSDAY NIGHT ‘HOT’ CORROBOREE PRACTICE or LEVEL 3 DREAMTIME CORE FLOW CLASS, with live DJ and a real-life didgeridoo player!

It would be a fucking outrage. A concept so outrageous and obviously inappropriate that undoubtedly every major newspaper countrywide would plaster it over their pages and without hesitation, rip it to pieces, and rightly so. Yet this is exactly what we have done. We have taken an ancient culture’s spiritual practices and transformed them into a trendy, commercially driven exercise cult. Yoga is about God. It always was and always will be.

It is estimated that 90% of human cultures have ritualized ways of achieving higher states of consciousness. A clear indication that innately we sense there is more to life than this depressing story of birth, going to school, getting a job, starting a family, old age, sickness and death. Deep inside we know there is more.

As a white Australian male from an agnostic white Australian family I was never taught rituals to help me connect with the divine part of myself, so like most kids, sensing I was being lied to at some fundamental level, I turned to drugs and alcohol to achieve altered states. The correct intention was there, but the correct means were not, so instead of switching on dormant areas of the brain, which is the intention of Yoga, I destroyed brain cells. Rather than increase serotonin levels, amplifying my motivation, inspiration and ability to deal with stress, I intoxicated myself and achieved the opposite.

This is my culture, well intended but method-poor. Somehow however, through fluke or divine providence, the scientific map of God-realization landed right in our laps. So, my friends let us not fail to take full advantage of this blessing. It is time we put aside misguided and disrespectful notions about Yoga and started taking the gift of this life a little more seriously.

Even from the vantage point of Darwinian evolution, the purpose of life is clear. The bodies of Earth-bound organisms are getting smaller, yet brain size seems to be increasing. We are not here to get fit, flexible and accrue followers. We are here for one reason, to evolve our consciousness.

The other side of the argument for re-routing Yoga’s current peripheral trajectory is more self-serving. As long as we are practicing Yoga as a body-based system, the results of our practice will never pierce the subtler layers of our being, make lasting changes to the state of our minds, let alone positively impact our destiny.

The Worldview that birthed these practices was a spiritual worldview, therefore, if our own personal way of seeing the world is not spiritually oriented, any positive affects will simply rise for a few brief moments before fading back into the ethers, lacking a resonant belief structure to bond with.

Practicing a spiritual discipline in a non-spiritual way is like trying to run new software on an outdated operating system. It won’t work. The old system won’t allow it. This is why many practitioners will be positively impacted by their Yoga in the immediate short term after a session, however at the first sign of post-practice conflict or confusion, be it an unfavorable text message or getting cut off in traffic, the old and well established belief programs will kick back in. The result is a short-circuiting of the newfound, short lived altered state.

Whether we look at things from the perspective of respecting an ancient culture’s spiritual practices or just maximizing our own returns, using Yoga as a fitness modality, or worse, a fashion accessory is not ok.

Not all Yoga is good Yoga. So let us be respectful, and for our own sake, intelligent also. Let us grow some spine for this science that enlivens our own.

Categories
Octavio's Articles

Be Ordinary and Do Great Things

by Octavio Salvado.

Surprisingly, of all the social media posts I’ve made over the last few years, these five simple words posted last week gained the most traction: NEVER DRESS LIKE A YOGI. For that reason, I thought it was a worthy subject to flesh out a little further.

I think about my two teachers. I consider both of them to be modern day masters of the ancient path of Hatha Yoga. If you were to see them walking down the street there is absolutely no way you could tell that they were advanced Yogis, because they wear their Yoga on the inside. If, however, you stopped them and looked into their eyes, then you would know. They have eyes like lightning, eyes that pierce the layers of mind and personality and penetrate straight to the soul. It’s simultaneously very confronting and profoundly liberating to be in their presence. They see everything and love you anyway.

So why aren’t these men dressed in robes, draped in malas and sporting fancy Indian names? The answer is simple; it comes back to the Yamas and Niyamas. Not those set out in Sage Patanjali’s Classical Yoga, but the Tantric Yamas and Niyamas, Hatha Yoga’s own ethical guidelines. These assist both in purifying the Yogi’s character so that only the best of their being gets vitalized and simultaneously they are a means of gaining insight into progress, a kind of map for living Yoga both on and off the mat.

Tantra does include the five Yamas and five Niyamas of classical Yoga, however it adds an additional handful into each category, such as Forgiveness, Compassion, Authenticity and perhaps the most pertinent addition to this conversation, Humility. What you may notice if you read back through those words (or better yet, feel into them) is a common theme – they all soften the ego.

Hatha Yoga is not like Classical Yoga. The orientation is entirely different. They are complimentary paths, however, they are not the same. Classical Yoga (Patanjali’s 8 limbs system) is a path of Insight, a way of coming to understand the nature of the mind and ultimately move beyond it. What is beyond the mind? The mind’s own source known to the ancients as Purusha, the changeless one, the one who is eternally at rest in the city of our body, our mind and our usually very busy lives.

Tantra, or Hatha Yoga on the other hand, is a path of Power. It sees the value, even necessity of a calm, steady mind (hence it includes the Yamas and Niyamas of the classical system), however the emphasis is on Prana, energy, also known as Shakti. Perhaps this already gives you some insight into why qualities such as humility and forgiveness are not just suggested, but considered fundamental requirements for advancing in practice.

Here is the reality; as we deepen our practice beyond the peripheral and preparatory modalities of Asana and Ujjayi and move towards the more transformative techniques of Hatha Yoga, we will begin to cultivate more power. The Tantric Yamas and Niyamas are there to keep the spiritual ego in check. They ensure that we never get to a point where we feel, or demonstrate, that we are special. Like my teachers told me (and continue to tell me, God bless them, whenever my own ego gets out of check), “Be humble enough to be like everyone else. Relate to your Yoga internally”. In other words, the only time anyone should know you’re a Yogi is when you’re practicing it.

This theme is reflected back to us in so many of the myths rooted in the Yoga tradition and perhaps nowhere more potently than in the story of the Yogi-Warrior Monkey God, Hanuman and the pivotal role he plays in the Ramayana. His power and humility are instrumental in the success of Lord Rama’s mission to rescue his Queen, Sita, after she is stolen away by the ten-headed demon, Ravana. Many consider Hanuman to be the true hero of the story. I would have to agree.

Like all myths, the Ramayana is a mirror into our own lives. Each character represents a unique aspect of our multifaceted mind. The separation of Sita and Rama is the separation of the self from the Self, lost in the forest of life, stolen away by our own ignorance and in the case, the ‘spiritual ego’, anthropomorphized by Ravana, a powerful Yogi in his own right. Hanuman, on the other hand, is the Yogi supreme. More loyal, devoted, courageous, capable, powerful and humble than any other character in the story, Hanuman is the invitation to show up in every single moment as the highest version of our self, minus any pomp or fuss.

His journey is our own journey deep into the heart of practice. When it’s time for him to stand up and show his worth, he summons his power, overcomes his fears, his demons and does what needs to be done, yet does so completely absent of any pride or ego, filled only with humility and devotion. This is what makes Hanuman impeccable; his ability to do great things and simultaneously remain completely ordinary. Hanuman shows us that the deeper we go into Yoga, the more ordinary we must become, as ordinary as a monkey, as relatable as the most common man and avoid at all costs, getting wrapped up in the story, wrapped up in the robes or changing our name to Swami.

Hanuman’s message is simple; get ordinary, simplify, stay humble and then, when it’s time leap, time to fight and overcome, when it’s time to step onto the mat, the meditation cushion, the uncomfortable conversation and practice our Yoga, give it everything you’ve got. Rise up against the darkness, rip open your chest and let the dual light-streams of courage and humility explode out, merge and consume every action, thought and word.

This is Hanuman as the Yogi. No one would know of his immense capacity if they saw him walking down the street, or swinging in a tree, because his Yoga is inside of him, its his personal quest. Yoga then, more than anything is our own private bridge between the mundane world and the spiritual. It speaks to our relationship between the Sita and Rama within, our self and our own Source and no one other than us needs to know what goes on in that world.

So, back to the point, ‘NEVER DRESS LIKE A YOGI’ is another way of saying ‘beware of the pitfalls of practice’. It’s not necessarily about no longer wearing mala beads or white dhotis. It’s more about checking our motivation for doing things (and in this case, wearing things), because as we increase our personal power the ego will seek out new and fascinating ways to express itself, outwardly.

This is the reason for Tantra’s addition to the Yamas and Niyamas. This is why my teachers just look like regular dads. This is the reflection offered to us by Lord Hanuman; just do the inner work, for you. Lean into humility, lean in ordinariness, lean into ‘I’m not special’, then let the light of your own truth shine out of your eyes and be done with it.

Categories
Octavio's Articles

The Marvels of Meditation

by Octavio Salvado.

As published in Yoga Journal Australia Meditation Special Edition (July).

Our current paradigm of yoga is keeping us stuck.

As yoga has become popular in the West the mistaken idea that yoga and asana are one and the same has become widespread. For as long as we believe this to be true we will remain stuck practicing in ways that lack transformative power; stuck in cognitive and behavioural patterns that no longer serve us and, as a result, remain stuck in lives, jobs and relationships that do not serve our highest potential.

It’s time to move on. Asana alone is not enough to evolve our consciousness. While great for clearing blockages within our gross body and subtle energetic networks (blockages that may have been created through past choices and actions), if we genuinely want to commit to a practice that will shape our future and ultimately our destiny, the master key is not asana; it’s meditation.

Think of asana as the opening to a grander and ultimately more interesting conversation about yoga and life; that is, as an introduction to humanity’s ultimate guidebook to a life well lived. If this is the case, the question begs, why are so few yogis turning the page? Is it because we’re afraid? Or because the structure of the yoga industry is such, that our teachers lack the depth of training and personal practice to lead us boldly into the depths of our consciousness?

Tell the average Hindu in India that you’re a yoga teacher and they will assume you teach meditation. Being an asana teacher and a yoga teacher are not the same thing. The world has thousands of asana teachers but few yoga teachers. Let’s face it, as a teacher, it can take courage to portion out ten minutes of a 60 minute class to lead students in a practice of stillness. Yet, without meditation, yoga is little more than exercise.

For the most part, modern asana sequencing is not consistent in its cultivation of a calm and stable mind. To clarify, being exhausted at the end of practice and being stable and calm at the end of a practice, are not the same thing. Did you know, for example, that asana categories (of which there are six – forward folds, twists, laterals, backbends, extensions and inversions) are not designed to be merged (except under specific circumstances in advanced asana practices). Why? Because each pose category has a unique affect our pranic landscape and, through this, a unique effect on our psychology. We cannot condition one without conditioning the other. To mix pose categories without proper understanding of their pranic impact will actually keep the mind stuck in, or perhaps even amplify, existing patterns of agitation. Health benefits aside, asana’s primary purpose is actually to leverage prana so we can then use prana to leverage the mind.

Asana. Pranayama. Meditation. In that order. It has been laid out this way in texts for thousands of years. It’s time for teachers to honor the privilege of teaching the ancient science of yoga by being courageous in our willingness to move against the grain of popular practice. A grain which does not currently serve the highest potential of practitioners. Its time for asana teachers to become yoga teachers. The tradition deserves that and so do our students.

From the yogic perspective, meditation can be broken into three progressive stages. The first stage, Dharana is the development of concentration power by training the mind to move beyond a distracted state. If we are unable to focus our minds for an extended period of time we will end up spending long times sitting on the floor daydreaming without ever really approaching a meditative state. In Dharana, a specific object of meditation is chosen as a point of focus, however, at this point the object is less important than the development of concentration itself.

In the second stage, the thinking mind stops fluctuating and awareness begins to flow in a single, effortless stream. The intellect falls away and pure presence arises. Dhyana is the name given to this phase. It signifies that a line of energetic transference has opened up between mediator and object. Yoga (and now quantum science) takes the view that beneath the illusory sheath of matter everything is made up of one unified energy field. We live in a world of spinning electrons and sub-atomic particles that appear as solid, separate forms yet in truth are simply unique energy flows within this unified field. Both the science of yoga and the science of quantum physics suggest that this field can be manipulated with the mind. As such, through successful single-pointed concentration, the qualities inherent in our object of meditation will begin to impart or transfer themselves to us and that is why here, with the practice of Dhyana, the object becomes more significant.

Over time, whatever we merge our minds with we will become more like. Concentrating on negative concepts like disease (or fear of disease), for example, will manifest a like-vibration in the body, whereas meditating on the Gayatri mantra, an ancient ode to the pure essence of light (which has a much higher vibrational frequency) will cause our own vibration to raise. The choice is ours. And choose we must, because we are always choosing, if not consciously then via our subconscious patterning.
If we are diligent with our meditation practice and show up daily (regardless of whether we feel like it or not), we will arrive at a point where the qualities of our meditation object will endure within us and continue to transform us even after our meditation session has ended. Through repetition, the mind gradually becomes like that which we are meditating on and we will begin to see and experience the world through this new lens of perception.

Mantra is considered the most potent of all concentration tools. Other tools can yield the sweet nectar of meditative absorption but mantra, because of its vibratory nature, is honored as a fast track into the infinite ocean of electro-magnetic energy known to the ancients as Akasha, a hidden world of inaudible sounds and unseen lights just outside the reach of our flesh-born ears and eyes.

The full flowering of meditation takes place in the final stage of meditation, Samadhi, the highest state of perception and mental clarity resulting from the complete merging of the mind with its object of meditation until any personal sense of ‘I’ is obliterated. Once in Samadhi any comprehension of self as separate from the world disintegrates. We are no longer our name or the roles we play. We are no longer sitting in a room waiting for the sun to rise. We are simply ‘existence’; we are pulsing awareness in a sea of infinite energy.

As practice progresses, the moments we spend in this ‘time beyond time’ begin to extend and by consistently touching this place, where a limitless truth beyond the confines of our human identity exists, we start to recalibrate our future. Each day we practice, the vibrational legacy of our meditation deepens and starts to influence the choices we make. We begin to make choices from a place of embodied wisdom, knowing that beneath that which we can see with our eyes, we are all connected. We are united within the one-song of the uni-verse.

Meditation is the master key to forging a new destiny. There is no way more effective to re-groove the mind, to learn how to show up in the world or how to see it in a brand new way. Think of meditation as being the deep root from which the tree of your practice grows and at the same time, the sweetest fruit born of that healthy tree.

Start where you are. Plant the seeds of self-effort today and let the rest of your practice, over time, lead you higher into the clear blue sky of meditative silence because there, beyond the limits of the mind, in that place of pure connection, you will come to understand your sacred reasons for coming here.

Categories
Octavio's Articles

Why Meditate?

by Octavio Salvado

Namaste Yogis,

The time is now.

Out of necessity, the time has come for us to stop kidding ourselves that practicing Asana alone is sufficient in regards to evolving our consciousness and lives. It isn’t. Asana has value when it comes to clearing old energy accumulated through past choices, however when it comes to shaping our future and ultimately our destiny, Meditation is the Master Key.

Why Meditation? Very good question.

We will explore the answer to it in this video-blog, along with what the Yoga tradition considers to be the number one tool for Meditation.

Hope you enjoy.