This audio download is the introduction to a series of talks on yoga at the Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia in the Spring of 1975. Over the course of ten weeks, Venkatesananda spoke for roughly twenty hours on each of the five major branches of yoga (Hatha, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, and Jnana), devoting ten hours to formal talks in the morning, and ten hours to questions and answers during the afternoons on each of these topics. One discovers in the course of listening to these talks that the five are not separate paths; that each branch of yoga incorporates elements of the so called "different" paths. While many people often focus on just one branch of yoga, one can’t escape the realization that it would be far better to assimilate them all in some fashion in order to create a balanced approach to sadhana or “spiritual practice.” Swami Sivananda taught that aim of this integration ("Integral Yoga" or the “Yoga of Synthesis”) is to avoid becoming lopsided. In so doing, the aspirant nurtures the whole being. As demonstrated in the lives of both Swami Sivananda and his disciple, Swami Venkatesananda, the words “whole” and “holy” are completely interchangeable.
1. April 14th Morning Session: Introduction to the Talks on Yoga.
2. April 14th Afternoon Session (Questions and Answer Session)
3. April 15th Morning Session: The Non-Haphazard Flow of Chit-Shakti
Consciousness and energy “Chit-Shakti” are not two different things: “the substance and its nature cannot be separated, just as God and its nature cannot be separated.” Venkatesa leads us into the mystery of the "apparent individuality" - the notion of the “I” and “I” and the notion of the Jiva, the individualized soul, with a discussion of prana and the kundalini (spiral) energy and its beginning point (bindu): the “kama” or “desire to know” resulting in a movement of energy in consciousness. While this movement is capable of returning to or finding its source (a circle), it commonly “misses” its starting point (spirals out and away) creating or super-imposing in its path the notion of “my mind” and “the world.” Here Venkatesananda explains that the entire Hatha yoga “practice” lies in reversing this movement of energy, so that instead of haphazard erratic movement, the energy is “gathered in” until eventually the polarization of consciousness and energy is overcome and ... the Source is realized for once and for all.
4. April 15th Afternoon Q&A Session: The Bindu, The Circle and the Spiral - The Kundalini Spiral.
This Q& A (this particular disc) begins with a question the kundalini energy. This allows Swami Venkatesananda to continue his discussion of the spiraling of the kundalini energy discussed in the previous talk. Here you find a fascinating description of both sides (the macrocosmic and microcosmic) of the spiraling of energy in consciousness.
5. April 16th Morning Session: Prana
Just as Chitshakti and its movement back its source can be regarded as central to all of yoga, "prana," can be regarded as central to concept of Hatha Yoga. And just as energy cannot be grasped except by how "acts" through its many vehicles, prana cannot be known except by its functions. Swami Venkatesananda attempts to provide teachers and students with this often neglected overview of prana, and introduces us to the various functions of prana: "prana, apana, sumana, udana, and vynaya.
6. April 16th Afternoon Session: Prana Q&A How do we gain prana and lose prana?
Here Swami Venkatesa discusses the effects of the ego and non-ego centered activity. Various other aspects on this topic are discussed: the effect of the emotions on prana, the effect of self-knowledge, sex and what is known as “Tantra.” Hopefully, that last bit wasn't necessary to add in order to get your attention.
7. Hatha Yoga April 17th 1975 Purificatory Practices
Swami Venkatesananda continues his discussion of the problem of "forgetfulness" explaining that identification with the physical world happens immediately upon losing (or forgetting) our true identity. He points out that main Hatha yoga texts, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika are meant to prepare students for meditation. It is towards that end that The Hatha Yoga Pradipaika, mentions certain " purificatory practices." And likewise, the Gheranda Samhita, which discusses the Sat-Kriyas, asana, mudra, pratyahara, pranayama, dhyana, and samadhi. These are all meant for the purpose of regaining one's true identity, not merely as physical culture or physical betterment.
Continuing on the same track, Swami Venkatesananda continues with the six purificatory practices, dhauti, vasti, neti, tratakam, nauli and kapalabhati, for those in pursuit of the practice of pranayama.
8. Hatha Yoga April 17th 1975 Afternoon Q&A Purificatory Practices
9. Hatha Yoga April 18th 1975 Asanas
10. Hatha Yoga April 18th 1975 Q&A
11. Hatha Yoga April 21st 1975 Intro to Mudras & Pranayama
12. Hatha Yoga April 21st 1975 Afternoon Discussion Plus Q&A
13. Part 1 Hatha Yoga April 22nd 1975 Pranyama Continued
14. Hatha Yoga April 22nd 1975 Afternoon Discussion Plus Q&A
15. Hatha Yoga April 23rd 1975 Movement of Kundalini - Nadis & Chakras
16. Hatha Yoga April 23rd 1975 Afternoon Discussion Plus Q&A
17. Hatha Yoga April 24 1975 Mudras - Bhandas - Nadishuddi Bhutashuddi
18. Hatha Yoga April 24 1975 Afternoon Discussion Plus Q&A
19. Hatha Yoga April 25 1975 Nadanusandana - Contemplation of the Sound
This "contemplation of the sound" or what has been described as the culmination of the Hatha yoga practices can only be understaken if the nadis are pure, for then, and only then can the nada be "heard." Swami Venkatesananda makes it clear that pranayama is the starting point for these purifcatory practices, but indulges us by reading reading a description from The Gheranda Samhita of the three forms of meditation that can be said to be the final "steps" on the traditional path of Hatha Yoga.
(Part 2 above concludes the last Hatha talk. For the concluding Hatha discussion, see disc 20.)
20. Hatha Yoga April 25 1975 Concluding Discussion
Bringing us back to the discussion of the movement of energy in consciousness, Swami Venkatesananda reminds us that the life force is indivisible, and cosmic, and forever non-individualized. Many topics re-emerge in this final discussion, including a few new ones that will be explored further in the Karma, Bhakti, Raja and Jnana talks of this same series of talks given at Yasodhara in 1975. Yoga Vasistha devotees will be interested to know that the facinating topic of "accidental coincidence" or Kakitalaya Nyana is also mentioned.
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