Code of conduct

moral

Ego Mind: Manas (me/I)

It is abundantly excessive to believe that the entire reality of the realms of the universe exists (as comprehensively accurate & exhaustively correct), in the minds of our one, own, very limited perspective on “reality”. Our perspective (largely, as a matter of circumstance), in its singular form of existence, is the one & only plausible, comprehensive in its totality, available, reality.

And yet, this is the myth of the ego mind. The, often frustratingly persuasive, ego mind: manas.

Wisdom mind: Vijnana (our/ours)

Inversely to the ego mind’s beliefs, the knowledge of the wisdom mind is that we will forever be rooted in the foundational concept of “one-of-many”, or, perhaps more accurately, “part-of-the-whole”. Having awareness of this & checking the thoughts that run through our brain, words of our speech, & actions of our bodies through this foundational truth of partialism in respect to all the other options & possibilities keeps us rooted in the presence of truth.

This is the compassion & love as offered by the wisdom mind:  vijnana.

Yamas & Niyamas

The five yama & five niyama together comprise a moral code of conduct. These are akin to the ten commandments of Christian & Jewish faiths & serve as a foundation for our spiritual journey. They are relative & contextual, & for that reason often intertwine & overlap. As I interpret them & as it relates to our yoga practice, they are the qualifiers that allow us to distinguish our ego mind from our intelligent mind. Religion & spirituality aside, these are a general set of values that attempt to outline what it means to, quite simply, be a good person. At each limb of yoga, we purify our thoughts, speech, & actions through the five yamas & five niyamas. 

 

The Yamas, translated as self-control, relate to how we connect & interact with our surroundings. 

  1. Ahimsa (Non-Violence)
  2. Satya (Truthfulness)
  3. Asteya (Non-Stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (Pure Way of Life)
  5. Aparigraha (Non-Accumulation of Possessions)

The Niyamas, translated as discipline, relate to how we connect & interact with ourselves. 

  1. Shauca (Purity)
  2. Santosh (Contentment)
  3. Tapas (Self-Discipline)
  4. Svadhyaya (Self-Study)
  5. Ishvara Pranidhana (Devotion to Source Energy)

Yamas

01

Ahimsa

The first yama, or external ethical discipline, is ahimsa, which refers to non-violence. 

ahimsa

yoga

While yoga is not often thought of a violent sport, the sustained mental fortitude to open completely in our physical, emotional, & spiritual bodies can be quite intense. As it relates to the strength & flexibility of our physical bodies, we hope to encourage & develop a sustainable practice. One that supports healing, lifelong mobility, & restorative movement & allows us to feel peace, balance & harmony in our body, mind & soul.

With regards to our asana practice, our bodies come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, & capabilities. We must honor & respect what our bodies do for us each day & show gratitude for those gifts by minding to the health & spirit of our bodies & minds, so that we may more clearly see the path to our united spirit. With regards to our practice, we must cultivate an intimate internal awareness & move from our hearts with honesty & compassion instead of our minds which often results in a forced practice based on external comparison as a faculty of the ego-based mind. If we each stretch to our own individual capacities & commit to a dedicated practice while continuing to strive for improvement, without attaching to outcome, that is when we truly practice yogasana. When we practice, let us remind ourselves that it is a place for still awareness & reflection. A place to cultivate compassion, understanding, patience, & new growth.  

Mentally, ahimsa may be practiced by observing our internal narrations. That voice in your head? That voice should be your very best friend & supporter. If it’s not, why not? How can it be?

Emotionally, practicing ahimsa may translate to being kind to ourselves when we are going through a hard time. Nurture & comfort yourself. Whether that is a hot bath, a good book, buying yourself flowers, or any number of ways to care for yourself, make sure you are making time to take care of you.

ahimsa

sexuality

Why do you want to have sex? The reasons are as & unique & varied as people themselves. And, all too often, we may hide or ignore our true motivations & desires for sex based on learned attachments of what is ‘normal’ or expected. These associations may be influenced by what we learned about sex growing up, our own sexual experiences & relationships, or applied judgements through cultural ‘norms’, school, the media, & anything else that has contributed to our current formed perception around sex. 

Our modern definition & association of sexuality has been, well, skewed. Sexual imagery saturates the promotional imagery we interact with in our daily lives. The availability of porn has made it so that we can find pretty much whatever, whenever, wherever. To an extent, sex has become more commonplace. But, are the images & videos we interact with through porn & sexual imagery based on realistic expectations of what sex is & looks like? More than likely, a majority of them are not. Porn very rarely shows asymmetrical breasts, the beautiful spectrum of what labias & vaginas can look like, stretch marks, inverted nipples, or average-size penises. It is sex seen through a lens of enhancements to create a polished symmetry, not based on our natural forms & expressions. So, we are left with an altered image, a script, an attachment, an association, and an unrealistic expectation for what sex is & can be. If we are not careful, this distorted representation can bleed on our own perceptions & expectations of ourselves & others leading to issues of inadequacy & warped body & self-image. Let us remind ourselves to be kind, both to ourselves & others, in our sexual exploration. 

Another way of being kind to ourselves in our sexual exploration might be to create an environment that encourages those sexual feelings. Whether that means a warm bath, clean sheets, silky boxers or lingerie, massage oil – whatever kindness means to you!

02

satya

The second yama, or external ethical discipline, is satya, which refers to truthfulness. 

satya

yoga

Living our truth requires that we think, speak, & act from a place of integrated self-knowledge (svadhyaya), honesty, & transparency. 

As experienced in our yoga practice, this may translate to recognizing the limits of our bodies with regards to the shape of our asana. It may also mean learning to observe our thoughts, instead of associate with them. In this, we identify the space between us & our fluctuating mind & emotions. For many, simply becoming aware of this notion that we are not our thoughts can allow us the freedom to slow down instead of reactively bounce from stimulus-to-stimulus, thought-to-thought, & emotion-to-emotion. 

Practicing satya in our yoga practice involves listening to external input & knowledge, but reconciling that against your own felt internal  experience. Is that true for you? Do you experience it that way? Only you will know your truth. 

As it relates to our asana practice, when we are guided by an instructor, however well-intentioned the instruction is, we are still being guided by an external stimuli, rather than listening to our own internal intuition. To truly practice yogasana, we must turn inwards & supply our body & mind with what it requires to balance. This varies by person, day, & moment. That is why presence is of crucial importance during our practice, on & off the mat. 

satya

sexuality

Social constructs may develop when there is a difference between what we perceive is expected of us (as learned & applied through our various backgrounds, sexual histories, education, parents, cultural norms, & media), & our own individual, authentic truth, as is often felt in the form of intuition. When left unaddressed, this gap serves to distance our mind from body & we often experience disharmony between internal sensual observation & external sexual expression in the form of indecision, overthinking, self-doubt, & general lack of positive self-image.

Some of these attachments might include:

  • Monogamy being the only “real” type of relationship.
  • Sexual desire being sinful,  immoral, dirty, or irresponsible.
  • Romantic love as a form of obsession or control (ie: jealousy).
  • Being attracted to multiple people reduces takes away from the primary relationship.
  • We need a relationship to be a complete person.
 

These are fear-based (ego) attachments & emotions. In their release,  we create time & space for love-based (intelligent) emotions, as our actions instead become motivated by our unity. With this newfound freedom, we allow ourselves permission to explore our own truths, limits, & boundaries. In openly communicating these with others, we create a supportive environment based on the truths of the individual, instead of vague, generalized (& often inaccurate), assumptions.  

03

Asteya

The third yama, or external ethical discipline, is asteya, which refers to non-stealing. 

asteya

yoga

What does it mean to do the opposite of stealing?

A = opposite of
Steya = to steal

Like all yamas & niyamas, the meaning of asteya can be applied & equated to so many different contexts & situations. However, generally, we see a pattern of avoiding attaching to a desire that does not belong to us. 

Mentally, in practicing asteya, we turn down the ego-based internal narrations that often tell us to seek “more” & instead tune into the idea that we may just already be, do, & have “enough”. All too often, our minds are left racing about in seamless reaction to our external stimulus & perceived expectation. This robs us of our awareness to the present moment. In redirecting our focus away from the many mental distractions & refocusing on the here & now, we better understand the context, participants, & interaction of the present. 

Practicing asteya may also translate to being considerate of what we, consciously or not, rob from others. Environmentally, do we live in a way that will support future generations? Do we communicate with ourselves & with others in a way that allows us/them to feel accepted as we/they are? Or, do we approach with an agenda-based expectation & our own preconceived notions of who & what we/they “should be”, creating an unsupportive environment of expectation? How, what, & who do we rob? Most importantly, how can we create, live, & thrive in a world based in love & abundance, instead of fear & starvation-based mindsets?

asteya

sexuality

Asteya in the lens of our ropes practice & sex means not allowing the experience to be stolen or lessened by the pre-conceived notions or thoughts in our head formed through external expectation.

Through the gender bias of most porn being made by men for men, women are often objectified & cast into the role of stimulating & facilitating men’s pleasure, not their own. When the focus is on the woman, such is the case with ‘squirting’ videos & the like, it almost appears to be a circus trick of sorts to be performed in order to massage the ego of the pleasure giver, instead of the focus being to truly provide a gift of pleasure to the receiver. If female ejaculation happens in our sexual encounters, then great, but if not, it should never be a pressured expectation that when not met leaves both parties feeling, well, not enough. This is true of any performance-oriented acts of pleasure that leave us trapped in the confines of our minds instead of exploring the sensuality of our bodies during sexual union.

Porn can be a powerful tool to help ignite passion, share experiences, or even better understand our own sexual desires & interests. But, when porn breeds a comparative mindset, separating our minds from our bodies & leaving us with false social constructs to be filled, or if we abuse it to the extent that we use it as an escape or distraction from our actual relationships, that is when problems start to emerge. When we see our partners & lovers as body parts, as objects, as tools for gratification instead of people with their own wants, needs & boundaries to be respected, worshipped, appreciated & loved. That is when porn & sex becomes an unhealthy problem. That is when the sacredness of sexual union dissipates.

04

brahmacharya

The fourth yama, or external ethical discipline, is brahmacharya, which refers to the right use of our energy. 

Brahmacharya

yoga

As it relates to our yoga practice, brahmacharya has a connotation of celibacy, & for that reason is frequently disregarded as a practice. However, translated as “right use of energy,” brahmacharya addresses listening to our bodies in a way that isn’t distracted by external observances, but instead internal understanding. What does your body & mind need to achieve balance? Listen to your body & adjust your habits accordingly. 

Asana, translated as “a steady, comfortable seat,” comes in all kinds of varieties of yogic styles & postures. The dominating connotation associated with “yoga” in today’s modern society is limited to, primarily, asana practice. Perhaps some pranayama here & there, but for the most part, when we think of yoga, we think of bendy types that plaster the walls of our social media feeds. 

Form, through the lens of asana practice, can be a difficult topic to address. What does it look like? Just as one can smile without being happy, one can do triangle pose without practicing asana. If our seat is steady & comfortable, if our physical body supports a meditative mind, only then are we  practicing asana. Too often, yoga & rope are associated with a certain body type, weight, or general appearance of what they should look like in any given posture. In essence, that’s the concept of form – the visible appearance of an object. However, if we attach to a concept or image outside of what is authentic to our individual & varying natures, we are not practicing yoga at all. Rather, reversing that flow of energy & allowing the form to express what is true for our bodies at that moment is how we practice brahmacharya through the concept of asana.

Brahmacharya

sexuality

Healthy sex recognizes the respectful & consensual relationship dynamic between the parties involved in the experience & supports the wellbeing & boundaries of all. Healthy sex, as initiated by our intelligent mind, allows us to feel empowered. We may experience abundance & connection as a result of the experience. It is based in self-love & is the beautiful expression of our life-giving sexual energy. 

Unhealthy sex, as initiated by our ego mind, is rooted in validation through sexual consumption. This is based in fear, lust, loneliness, abandonment, & lack of self-love. 

Examining healthy motivations as initiated by the intelligent mind & unhealthy motivations as initiated by the ego mind, we can establish the significance of variation between ‘why’ we have sex & not just ‘how’ we have sex. This expands our perception of what healthy & unhealthy sex may look like. 

For example, kinky play, like BDSM, may be healthy as long as the established relationship is respectful, consensual, & based in healthy motivations as initiated by our intelligent mind. Likewise, if we are having sex out of perceived expectation to satisfy our partner, this is unhealthy sex & may leave us feeling increasingly hollow, disconnected, & isolated. This is not an expression of our life-giving sexual expression.

05

Aparigraha

The fifth yama, or external ethical discipline, is aparigraha, which refers to the non-accumulation of possessions. 

In unity there is no possession, as possession is a dual state.

B.K.S. Iyengar

Aparigraha

yoga

Practice & Non-Attachment are the two core pillars on which all of yoga rests.

  • Practice involves cultivating a dedicated, consistent practice & effort that includes holistically aligning your actions, speech, & thoughts towards a place of balance.
  • Non-Attachment, to which aprarigraha refers, means learning how to actively encounter, explore, & let go of the many aversions, attachments, false identities & fears that are clouding the true self.
 

Together, they work as companions. Practice initiates movement while non-attachment allows us to continue the journey towards the soul while getting less distracted along the way. Practice initiates the flow & non-attachment maintains the fluidity.

Personally, I like to think of my tiny house lifestyle as an act of aparigraha. Minimalism, to me, is about reducing the attachments that bind me not only to obligation, but also expectation. About turning down the noise, clutter, & mental chatter that so quickly runs away with our calm & awareness.  By reducing my physical belongings, I am better able to clarify my mental & emotional focus & intention. 

Non-attachment also opens our eyes to the many ways in which we may be forcing our environment to adapt to us, instead of us adapting to our environment, & the many consequences of these decisions. In working with our environment we create harmony. In working against it, we create conflict. 

Aparigraha

sexuality

We may also view aparigraha through the lens of non-possession. As we have learned, we are each comprised of & united by the same source energy. Through this, we are able to overcome our sense of duality & therefore release our ego. With it, we surrender our need for ownership & possession. We are able to step into a self-less love where the satisfaction of giving & receiving are equal to one another. In loving someone, we want that person to experience true support, joy, happiness, & satisfaction. In giving them that satisfaction, we receive satisfaction & are able to celebrate the expression of that life energy with them. 

In practicing aparigraha, we are confronted with the often solidified attachment that being someone’s “true love” means that we fill their every need & desire. In part, this alludes to the statement that we are not “complete” on our own & need someone else to be our “better half”. 

Why do we so readily accept the sentiment “it takes a village” with regards to raising a child, but shun this same sentiment when it comes to fulfilling our relational desires? Shedding this shame-inducing notion that we are somehow broken or have not yet found our “true love” if they do not fulfill us on our every level is a liberating step toward our own sexual enlightenment. We relate & interact with different people, well, differently. Allowing ourselves & each other to explore this concept is an expression of self-less love, instead of love based out of control & fear of not being “enough”. 

niYamas

01

shauca

The first niyama, or inner discipline, is shauca, translated as clearness, cleanliness, & purity, which refers to purity of our mind, body, speech, & actions. 

shauca

yoga

Shauca means purity & cleanliness in mind, spirit, body, & surroundings. ‘Purity’ refers to our mind, thought, spirit, & body being completely from ego. When we operate in our ego mind, when we experience an emotion, we will often experience not only that emotion but along with it the attachments & associations that we have tacked on to it through years of conditioning & experience. When we operate in our intelligent mind, we are able to identify those additional charges, strip them from the emotion, & experience the purity of the emotion just as is, without all that additional ego stuff piled on.

Physically, this may mean cleaning our feet before our yoga practice or making sure our hygiene routine is on par (not bringing yesterday’s stank into today’s experience). It may also mean cleaning up the clutter in our environment or workspace (a clean physical space encourages a clean mental space).

Mentally, practicing shauca may mean becoming aware of the judgmental, comparative, or ego-based thoughts that so often jump into our heads when we feel threatened, scared, or not enough (as these are often indicators of unresolved issues from another previous experience & not spurred by the moment we are currently experiencing). 

As it relates to our pranayama practice, each breath we take is a practice in shauca as the breath is always, & can only be, experienced in the present moment. We cannot breathe tomorrow’s breath, just as we cannot breathe yesterday’s breath. The breath requires us to be in present. If we feel carried away by our thoughts or emotions, we can return to our conscious breathing. In this practice, our mind stills as our focus is shifted towards our slow, deep breathing. The mind cannot think while we are concentrating on the breath.

Being aware of our wandering minds & their tendency to thrust into worried, anxious thoughts of the future & guilts or regrets of the past permits us the opportunity to utilize the breath as a tool & resource to consciously calm the mind. In calming the mind, we calm the senses, & nervous system, which allows our body to feel more at ease. 

 

 

shauca

sexuality

In our play, practicing shauca may translate to practicing safer-sex & risk-reducing strategies. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Reserving certain sex toys for specific partners (ie: Ethan’s dildo or crotch rope).
  • Using birth control to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy.
  • Using condoms for fellatio, anal sex, & vaginal sex.
  • Using gloves for masturbation of either gender & for inserting fingers into anuses & vaginas.
  • Using plastic wrap or dental dams for analingus or cunnilingus. 
  • Regularly getting tested for STDs. 
  • Abstaining from intoxicants, such as drugs & alcohol, which can complicate matters of consent. 
 

We encourage you to research the protocols that apply to you & your lifestyle & to consult with a medical professional on what may work for you. There are a host of websites, books, & resources on safer sex. The Center for Disease Control also maintains a website on safer sexual behavior:

On an emotional level, practicing shauca requires us to enter each moment anew. We remain ‘pure’ by open-mindedly approaching our sexual curiosities, free from previously conditioned responses & attachments. In this way, we reclaim our sexual innocence through thoughtful, mindful exploration of our physical bodies in order to become increasingly aware of our emotional & spiritual bodies. 

By questioning the sources of our attachments & where those learned energies or judgements may have originated from, we have the opportunity to unlearn the harsh habits & patterns of thinking that were previously so ingrained that we became hardly, if at all, aware of them. In recognizing them, we afford ourselves a choice to continue with them, or to adopt a new way of thinking. 

02

santosh

The second niyama, or inner discipline, is santosh, which examines the qualifiers to our contentment.

santosh

yoga

In our yoga practice, santosh relates to removing the associated prerequisites to our happiness. The phrase “I’ll be happy when…” is an albeit, well-intentioned, but all too often, destructive force. This performance-based statement lessens our awareness of the present & the juiciness of the journey. 

We often see this in striving to achieve a specific image-based attainment of the pose, instead of understanding the intended energy behind it. This results in collapsed poses with minimal extension & lengthening. Let’s take a moment & examine this concept in a frequently malaligned pose, supta virasana (reclined hero pose): 

Fluid anterior & posterior tilting of the pelvis can be inhibited by many of the surrounding muscles. In supta virasana, if the hip flexors are tight, it will pull the pelvis into anterior pelvic tilt, dumping the weight into the lower back. Functional awareness of our body allows us to address tightness in the muscles that are restricting the pose, & support or modify as needed until those tissues are lengthened. Dumping into our lower back is our ego-mind trying to be clever & trick us into thinking that we are “achieving” the pose because we look like the image we saw. However, the pose is to lengthen the quads & hip flexors. If we aren’t doing that, we aren’t doing the pose.

It is fine to have goals, but in aligning with a path of self-improvement, without attaching to “achievement” of that goal, allows us to be fully occupied with that which is now. Our progress is our success. 

santosh

sexuality

Our sexuality is literally & metaphorically, our source energy. Whereas our sensual energy does not pull us in any one direction, except perhaps scattered if not checked by our intelligent mind, our sexual energy has an inherent drive towards surrender. It cumulatively builds in its intensity as we approach climax & then pulsates throughout our bodies as we experience the ultimate surrender & union of orgasm. Orgasm seems to be the goal & finish line of so many of our sexual encounters. Understandably so, it feels amazing & can provide a boost in wellbeing & vitality due to the hormones & other chemicals that released by our brain. However, when we approach sex with this achievement-based mindset, we strip ourselves of the beautiful wanderings & curiosities as we explore our bodies through our sensuality, to explore & build the sexual energy that ultimately allows for greater release. One must wonder if this desire to orgasm at each encounter is it yet another attachment & expectation that we cling to. 

So, what is an orgasm? As it turns out, there is not a current agreed upon definition & largely depends on who you ask as medical & mental health professionals define the term based on different criteria. There are many different types of orgasms – pressure, relaxation, tension, fantasy, & g-spot to name just a few. The way we experience orgasm depends on our gender & anatomical composition. However, increased blood flow & muscle contraction in the genital area is a shared & mutual experience.

03

tapas

The third niyama, or inner discipline, is tapas, which means heat & refers to burning off impurities. In becoming aware of the impurities, the attachments & imbalances that are often quite destructive in nature, we are able to question their relevance to the present moment & context & then thoughtfully, honestly, choose. As we develop our practice, we are able to identify & release the fear-based energies & in their place seeds of compassion, cultivating space & time to truly observe without attachment or possession.

Tapas is the process of developing restraint & self-discipline of our minds through the eight limbs of yoga. If we commit to a sustained practice of the eight limbs, they begin to blend, & overlap, to merge as it were, into one experience of being. Together, they create a meditative experience, something entirely new on its own, allowing our minds to still. 

tapas

yoga

It takes truckloads of courage to be fully present in our physical & energetic body. We may encounter emotional imbalances that we have ignored or avoided for some time & for that reason can be especially painful to work through. 

Tapas is purification by fire. It is the commitment to keep practicing & through our practice burn away the impurities of thought & action as they present themselves. Tapas involves using our intelligent mind to remind of of what is true & real as opposed to what we feel at any given moment as influenced by our fluctuating mind & emotions. Cultivating tapas is cultivating discipline. 

We know that going to bed earlier will help us be more rested tomorrow. That practicing our arm balance today will make us a bit stronger tomorrow. That despite us wanting ice cream for dinner, eating some protein & veggies will help us feel better tomorrow. In essence, we become our own love-based bullshit meter. 

 

tapas

sexuality

As it relates to our sexuality, shame can be an especially potent emotion. Shame tells us that “we’re not okay”. Unfortunately, many of these seeds of repression were planted during early childhood & adolescence & have festered in our energetic body for some time & continue to alter our perception of ourselves & each other, even through adulthood. When we are young, many of us are taught that we are “bad” for exploring our natural sexual curiosities. From those seeds of suppression & control sprout mindsets that sex is “dirty” or that we are somehow bad for exploring & expressing our sexual innocence. These attachments can be quite powerful, are difficult to identify & overcome, & are able to taint our views of sex as a whole. Shame is not our truth. Shame is very likely someone else’s bullshit that was dumped on us during a time when we were either too young or too vulnerable to know the difference. It is not our fault, & we should not be forced to carry it. 

04

svadhyaya

The fourth niyama, or inner discipline, is svadhyaya, which means to study the self.

svadhyaya

yoga

Svadhyaya is the study of the self. It has many meanings & contexts as it relates to our yoga practice. It may imply studying texts such as The Bhagavad Gita or Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Beyond reading, it asks us to introspectively observe our actions, emotions, thoughts, & the linkages between them. In our asana practice this may mean approaching our practice with our internal awareness instead of external expectation, open-mindedly exploring each pose & listening to our bodies responses & possible avoidances. In our pranayama practice, if we carry the breath high in the chest this may be indicative of different emotions than if we breathe low into the belly. Similarly, in our pratyahara practice, noticing the tensional patterns through the internal awareness of our attachments may allow increased intimate knowledge of ourselves & how we interact with the world. Off the mat, we may practice svadhyaya by noticing our habits as initiated by the ego mind instead of our intelligence. By cultivating our awareness, we are empowered with the decision of choice after studying & better understanding ourselves.

svadhyaya

sexuality

Self-pleasure through masturbation is a way to  reclaim our sexual energy as our own. We often rely on others to show us what we like, hoping that they stumble into something we enjoy, instead of allowing ourselves the time, energy & space to explore what we like ourselves. Through the practice of svadhyaya in our ropes practice, we gain an intimate understanding of the ties we are capable of, the texture & tightness of rope we prefer, & the sensitive areas of our bodies with regards to myofascial tightness & individual nerve placement & depth. This may initially take the form of self-tying to deepen our awareness of self (always with a spotter – safety first). With this newfound knowledge, we can share what we enjoy with our partners & create a more open, understanding, harmonious experience. When we do not take this time to self-study, we default to seeking permission from others to explore our sexual selves & with that, their input of how our sexuality is defined. Self-pleasure is an opportunity to open-mindedly explore our bodies noting what positions, pressures, textures, rhythms, toys, or any other of the many beautiful options we may enjoy incorporating in the exploration of our sexual selves. It is also an opportunity to thoughtfully explore & note any limits or boundaries so that we clearly communicate those to any potential partners. 

05

ishvara pranidhana

The fifth niyama, or inner discipline, is Ishvara Pranidhana, which means to surrender to source energy.

ishvara pranidhana

yoga

In most translations of Ishvara Pranidhana, we are advised to cultivate a deep & trusting relationship with the universe. To surrender our ego mind & approach our actions as daily offerings to something bigger than us. 

“God” is a tricky word that for many, can be uncomfortable to talk about. It’s often loaded with connotations & as with all words, those connotations are entirely dependent on the person hearing the word. Many though, associate that particular word with a bearded figure in the skies, silently watching & judging our every impulse. In yoga, while God is often not specifically mentioned, there are certainly undertones of something bigger than ourselves. As cited in the Upanishads, the term ‘Isvara‘ means a state of collective consciousness. In this interpretation, God is not a man in the sky, but rather the collective consciousness of all beings, including ourselves. 

Though, if we hit pause on that fast reel of thoughts for just a moment, we see that people experience God in many ways. For some, God is found through music. Getting lost in the improvisational fluidity of stringing together notes, riffs, chords, & samples of scales. For some, God is found in the meditational trance of simply being still & continuing to return to the breath. God may be found while cooking, swimming, connecting the outdoors, in the process of creating art, or in dedicating ourselves to our communities through various callings. In yoga, this is known as your Ishta-Devata, how you personally connect with God to serve humanity. 

Personally, I experience God through the combined & culminated practices of nature, yoga, rope, & sex. These concepts allow me to approach, question, & unveil fear-based notions & replace them with compassion, & love. These practices are my individual prayers & my daily offering is my commitment to openly explore these complex topics through a lens of understanding. In that approach, I hope to encourage connection & unity. 

 

ishvara pranidhana

sexuality

In Samadhi, we experience the timeless emptiness of the divine & fusion with the infinite. Just as in our pranayama practice we cannot force the calm as induced by our conscious breathing, samadhi, also, cannot be forced, 

Our sensuality allows us to connect with the world & those around us through our five senses. Our life-giving sexual energy allows us fusion with that which was previously perceived as ‘other’. Sex, good sex, allows us to feel connected in a way that personally, I have yet to find anywhere else. Sensations of melting into each other through our harmonized movement, breath, & energy allow us an extraordinarily deep physical, spiritual, & emotional connection. Orgasm, when organically progressed to & naturally reached, allows a complete & total surrender to the life-giving energy that comprises our very being. Being completely present in that moment, we are united with that which we are, & of, we are made. To connect with our sexual nature allows us to quite literally tap into & harmonize with the flow of life itself. 

Just as samadhi requires that we surrender our ego mind, orgasm requires that we surrender our physical & energetic bodies. In sex, good sex, we step outside of our mind & allow our bodies to guide us to what energy, pace, pressure, location, & texture is suitable for that moment. Spontaneity & creativity is birthed from lack of structure. The structure that we desperately cling to in our daily lives out of our need for control & fear of the unknown. For a moment, we allow ourselves to be completely wild & untamed. We listen instead of instruct. We allow ourselves to be guided, open, transparent, & are gifted with this beautiful gift of connection. For a moment, we have faith. In that faith, lies “God”. That which, I believe to be – Nature.

 

Catherine Tekakwitha, what care we if they cast you in plaster? I am at present studying the plans of a birch-bark canoe. Your brethren have forgotten how to build them. And what if there is a plastic reproduction of your little body on the dashboard of every Montréal taxi? It can't be a bad thing. Love cannot be hoarded. Is there a part of Jesus in every stamped-out crucifix? I think there is. Desire changes the world! What makes the mountainside of maple turn red? Peace, you manufacturers of religious trinkets! You handle sacred material! Catherine Tekakwitha, do you see how I get carried away? How I want the world to be mystical and good? Are the stars tiny, after all? Who will put us to sleep? Should I save my fingernails? Is matter holy? I want the barber to bury my hair. Catherine Tekakwitha, are you at work on me already?

Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers