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Dharma Mittra: The Essentials of Yoga

Wing recording finishing / Emma Cheung translation / Wang Chen Pictures / Chen Zhipeng, Asian Yoga Conference Design / Aliu
Acknowledgements / Asian Yoga Conference Source / Yoga Journal China

Where are we going to practice yoga or use any other inward exploration? Sri Dharma Mittra, with 55 years of yoga practice, has a deep understanding of the essentials of yoga described by Patanjali. We understand what life is all about, and we can know what is most important. Looking at life from the universe, we will have a broader state of mind and love.

Q: Many people choose yoga and it has nothing to do with belief or religion. And Patanjali said that the highest state of yoga practice is worship of God. How do you think people should understand this sentence?

A: Surrendering to the Lord or God means seeking enlightenment of the soul. This is the essence of yoga. The goal of all actions should be to realize the True Self, the highest soul, which is what they call God. I personally don’t like the word “God” too much. Speaking of “God”, I think it is a kind of wisdom, not a character that existed before the universe was created. What happened before the universe was created? Nothing at all. There is only the source of wisdom, the nectar of wisdom. We are to worship the Supreme Soul. No form, no nature, just like before space. We call it Brahman in yoga. Brahman is the inner void of the tangible god, but what we are talking about here is the source beyond form, beyond mind. We must understand that goals are beyond duality. Everything that is tangible, famous, moving and living in time is not the true “one”.

Those seeking the essence of yoga must first worship God. The other is to understand the ego, understand where the obstacles are, and consciousness, and then must understand the highest part of this infinite truth. Some people with a better education level and a longer training period may feel their integrity and understand that everything is on the same level. This is not easy for beginners. In the end, it will go to the void, which is hard to understand.

Q: When did you start thinking about God?

A: After a long time. Improve your diet, increase compassion, be kind. I learned from my guru to gain Self Knowledge, and then spend some time alone to understand what’s outside form. The last stage is unexplainable. In solitude, I kept my mind absorbed with the guru’s thoughts, and soon realized what was there. Everything is nothing more than a vibration that creates the entire universe. I am grateful for my Self Knowledge because when we have Self Knowledge, we exist. However, through yoga techniques, we realize that we are not the same as Self Knowledge. But, who is pursuing knowledge? It’s Self Knowledge, it’s the mind, it’s the feeling, not the Real Self. In fact, the True Self is perfect.

I focus on Yama. That is ethical behavior, especially caring. Caring cannot stop at pets. My guru always said that you should always meditate on compassion. I gradually realized that I was going to put myself there. This is the first step in Self-realization. For young souls, your compassion can only reach friends, pets and loved ones. What about others? Do you see animals as food? Do compassionate meditation, and slowly your love will go beyond your pets.

I focus on ethical behavior and compassion. Emphasize some of the simplest and most important Asanas to stay healthy. I put special emphasis on keeping a vegetarian diet. If you don’t like Asanas and want to be in good health, then go to the gym, or go swimming, running, or whatever. True Asanas are a preparation for breathing and meditation. I suggest that the practice be consistent and stable, even if it only takes one minute, but insist on it every day. In any case, it’s better to practice for a while every day than not to practice for many days, and practice for two or three hours in a row. A caring heart needs training. Good for pets, good for guests, good for all living beings, be in awe and respect. Eventually you will be able to feel what is important.

Q: You came up with a very interesting concept called “Charging Yoga”. How does Charging Yoga work?

A: For example, when doing the Asanas, you must be absolutely comfortable and turn off all your senses. No energy flows through the senses. This is charging. Most people today, I think 99% of people do not look inside when doing Asanas, what they see is their toes. They are thinking, paying attention to the problems of their posture at the physical level, their eyes are “open”, they are not comfortable, they are doing sports. So, I emphasize that Asanas should be maintained for a longer period of time and one should also make themself as comfortable as possible. In older poses, the energy is concentrated in the battery. Energy does not go out and is not consumed, but stored here. It’s like a dreamless state of deep sleep, waking up very, very well. Because everything is closed, there are no dreams. When you do Asanas, take your time, as if you have no dreams to release tension.

For many Asanas, as I said before, focus your attention here (at the space between the eyebrows). This is the seat of your mind. Focus your attention between your eyebrows and it will trigger spiritual blessings. Attention will stimulate the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is the sixth sense, so if you do Asana, if you really do it, then you are not just doing Asana, but practicing meditation, keeping moving In the stillness.

In 1975, I opened the Dharma Yoga Center in the United States. Since 1964, teaching yoga. Yoga in that era was still very traditional. It needed to be very patient, exercise slowly, and take a minute of rest after each individual pose. But even if it’s not particularly comfortable, people follow it. At that time people listened to the teacher very much and respected the teacher. Today, there are many yoga teachers. Gradually, excellent teachers begin to adjust their Asanas to match the lifestyles and conditions of the local people and the entire country.

Q: You shot and produced “The Master Chart of 908 Asanas”, which sounds crazy. What was your status when shooting these Asanas?

A: That started in 1983. One day, I was lying down, and an idea popped into my head. I wanted to make a poster full of Asanas. So, I hurried out and ran to several bookstores to buy all the books about yoga. There are my Guru Sri Swami Kailashananda, B.K.S. Iyengar, Swami Sivananda and so on. It took me a long time to choose Asanas, cut them from the book and put them together. I went to buy a video recorder. The quality of the video recorder at that time was not very good. It also sold for $2,000, and I bought it too. I also bought a Nikon camera and remote. The remote control is the one with a ball. Once squeezed, the camera will start. I fixed the camera in place and started taking pictures. The camera monitors and there are cameras next to it.

Most Asanas are for the mind and consciousness of the practitioner to reach a state. This state differs depending on the shape of the Asana. When the Yoga Asana is maintained for a long time, the state of consciousness will change and the Asanas will become different. For example, the Camel Pose, after holding for two or three minutes, people will become stronger and more patient. The Cobra Pose will start to look like a cobra after holding it for some time. In order to reach a certain state of Asana, I will keep holding it for a long time, resting in the pose. When I felt it is correct, I pressed the remote control. There are some poses that require the use of hands. I can only put the remote control in my mouth, bite it, and spit it out quickly. The camera gave me four seconds. After several months, I shot every day and night, and took 1300 individual shots. I developed them and finally chose 908. It took a long time to stick them on a large piece of cardboard. When all the poses are finished, I had to mark all of the Sanskrit names. I didn’t have a computer at that time and I wanted to find places to print the Sanskrit names and post them one by one. Then I spent some time looking for a printer, and then I reduced it. In the end, 5,000 copies were printed, each one for 10 cents. I put a poster up at the yoga center and people who came to the class would buy it. Two years later, I had it printed again. I used a computer that time. I rewrote the Sanskrit and English because there were some mistakes in the first version. I have also added more than 20 additional Asanas, all of which are particularly popular today. Because of that master chart, everyone wanted to know the people in the poster and started to call me to conduct workshop courses. Then I started to lecture everywhere. Now I have made a new version and made some anatomical updates.

Q: You emphasized Om in the Third Eye during the class. How do you understand it?

A: To understand this statement, you must first accept the Big Bang Theory. At the beginning of the universe, the first thing created was vibration, very subtle vibrations that finally turned into intelligence. Many classics such as The Bible say that at first there was nothing but the voice of God. The voice of God is the beginning of the vibration.

It took a long time for Patanjali to find a name to remember this existence, but God has no name. In order to find a name that can represent this infinite existence, it must be a name with rich meaning and power. After a long period of meditation, a voice sounded in Patanjali’s ear, and there was the sound “hmm”. People said that “hmm” was the beginning of Om, and “hmm” gradually became Om or Aum. Sing it: the first part is like A, then U, and at the end, the lips are closed, M. The best part of Om is the silence after chanting, like creation. Hmm, A-U-M, silence. Then start again. All yoga practice starts with Om and ends with Om. Om is the best mandala. Most mantras also start with Om.

Sri Dharma Mittra, founder of Dharma Yoga. In 1975, the Dharma Yoga Center was founded in New York. His courses are spread all over the world and he is the teacher of many of today’s top yoga teachers. Sri Dharma is the model and creator of the legendary “Master Chart of 908 Asanas”, and author of “Asanas: 608 Yoga Poses”, “Life of a Yogi Teachers ’Manual”, and “Yoga Wisdom”.