Our session with Prashant-ji on July 20, 2018
My friends, students and colleagues from México, Marina Navarret , Loreñia Trueba, Krista Baldini and Eduardo Mata and I were fortunate to have a session with Prashant outside of class on this auspicious day. What follows is my later transcription of the conversation.
I’m also recommending that you read James Murphy’s summary of Prashant’s teaching from his first ever “ex-tensive” in Pune last year. Here is the link:
First Question (Loreñia):
What are the signs of education?
A: You yourself will know whether you have education or not. There are no exams in relationships, nor are there exams in yoga.
He said something about mother exams and daughter exams, jokingly. We do not have exams to be in relationships.
Nerves or breath will give signs of education. For example, consider a baby learning to eat or walk, or a runner checking her watch to see that 10 minutes remain of her one hour run. The baby has internal signs of education, the runner checking her watch, is using an external sign of progress. Consider also the yogi/ni practicing asana with a timer checking to see how much time remains of a long hold instead of meditating/feeling/discovering “what happens when I hold this pose this long?”
Second Question (Loreñia):
What is meant in II.33 by “pratipaksha bhavanam”?
A: When anger erupts in life, you can’t use pratipaksha bhavanam. Contrast this with a walk towards your rival’s house for a discussion. In this scenario, you CAN prepare and use the technique of pratipaksha bhavanam.
Related Question: How can we prepare for the emotional rollercoaster of the romance of a romantic movie or the horror of a horror movie? Implied answer: We can’t. We are at the mercy of the moviemaker/actors/music, etc.
Prashant mentions that his father wrote Light on the Yoga Sutras for non-academics, not for scholars.
Third Question (Eduardo):
How can we deal with the feeling of guilt in our lives when it arises?
A: When we are admonished, it is an opportunity for learning and reforming our actions. When we dwell on admonishment, it is like a dog licking his own vomit. By dwelling on the feeling of guilt, we WEAKEN THE MIND.
Good company can help with guilty feelings. The sangha is very important. Also, going into nature, going to temple. Do passive poses for better understanding of yama and niyama. Do backbending poses to counter tamas. Do pranayama practice when you are NOT testing your lungs (i.e. do not do a strong pranayama practice when the lungs are compromised for any reason—physical/emotional or otherwise.
Discussion of food “ahar”—we eat grass eaters, in contrast to the tiger, who eats a goat, but does not become the goat.
There is “food” for all the senses.
Fourth Question (Loreñia): Why go INSIDE for answers to important questions? Why not seek answers in relationships/interactions with people?
A: Prashant gives the ingredients in the chai/tea as an example. Body/breath/mind are kneaded together; they cannot be separated. Some actions have to be coordinated and must happen in succession, others have to be synchronized, and have to happen at once. He gave the example of contraction then suction in pranayama. Yoga is by happenings, not by doings. We have to know the difference between reason and logic. These things, by implication, we have to know from the inside. Doubtless (this is Peggy speaking now), there are ways that our journey inward will support and nurture our relationships with nature, other people, animals, the outer world in general.
At this point, my notes are generalized. I remember asking Prashant myself about appropriate yoga practice for different ages at some point, and loved his answer that we are not female or male, old or young, etc. when we practice. We are consciousness itself.
In pranayama practice, we empty the back. Furthermore, as he noted in a class later in July, the back has no nadis. They are all toward the front body.
Ap kriya is not a reference to physical water (perhaps to the concept/experience of moist flow itself).
A chakra is not a wheel but a junction of prana nadis. All chakras are in the spine.
Our job is to empower you.
In yoga practice, body and breath become subjects.
Example of trikonasana: legs straight? Waist turned? Arms straight?—the body is knowable. Then: How is breath flowing? Then breath becomes an object. In trikonasana, what mind state am I in?
We see in Chapter IV, Kaivalya Pada, of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, that man can be object, subject, and/or instrument. We see that the mind can be a mansion of mirrors. The brain creates AND receives reflections.
There is soft flute music playing. The concept of mirror neurons occurs to me. Perhaps we are mirroring his understanding; I for one hope so.
Example of the cat in front of the mirror. The cat sees another cat. The cat is not confused. I can be ego or not ego, therefore I am and I am not. When I look at my reflection in the mirror, I know that what I see is not me. Prashant implies that our study of yoga through its eight limbs can lead us to clarity in understanding our own consciousness, our own mind/body/breath complex, our own mansion of mirrors.
Deep bows of thanks to you, Prashant-ji.