Patanjali Online Yoga Classes, Or In-Studio.

Implementing Key Elements of Patanjali’s “The Yoga Of Action.”

Plus, Avoiding Obstacles To Practising, & Bringing About Change.

Change is the result of our own actions.

Patanjali online yoga classes at Flametree, as well as those in-studio, teach a Kriya Yoga approach first described by the yoga sage, Patanjali. (Flametree’s approach also offers a Patanjali yoga retreat, and Patanjali Yoga teacher training course).

In this regard, the ancient texts on yoga like Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutras”, and the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” by Svetambara, emphasise that understanding, self-awareness, and enlightenment, come as a result of our actions.

Change does not happen by wearing the clothes of a yogi, or by talking about yoga, or believing in the power of yoga to bring about change. Instead, change happens through our actions as we progress through yoga.

Thousands of years ago Patanjali, in the second chapter of Yoga Sutras, used the term Kriya Yoga to describe the nature of yoga practice. He said that Kriya Yoga is the yoga of action.

He meant that it is yoga where you set about causing changes as a result of the actions you take.

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Patanjali yoga classes for all levels. HERE.

Understanding your fascia, and how it works with yoga, is just one tiny example of the self-study that is part of a Kriya yoga approach.

Practising Patanjali Yoga online, in-studio, or via retreats

By the way, before I continue, I want to differentiate between the two meanings of the word practice, or practise.

The first meaning is that a yoga student or yoga practitioner has their own yoga practice, at whatever level they’re at.

In this case, I’m using the word in the same way as a medical doctor might have a medical practice. (My mum taught me to remember the spelling by recalling that “ice” is a noun.).

In contrast, you go to a yoga class to practise your yoga. So, when I’m talking about practising yoga in the studio, or wherever, I’m using the word as a verb.

Sorry to be pedantic, but I think you’ll find it helps with understanding what I discuss in this Post.

By the way, just to make it more confusing, the distinction in the spelling of the word practice only happens in UK and Australian English. American English uses practice for all meanings and uses of the word.

In other words, you may have a Patanjali yoga practice, but each day, you’ll be practising Patanjali’s yoga online or wherever.

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3 layers of action in Patanjali yoga

Patanjali said that your yoga practice, in order to achieve outcomes, and whatever changes you may want, should contain these 3 layers or tiers.

  1. work (tapas),
  2. self-study (Svadhaya)
  3. surrender (Isvara Pranidhana).

He went on to outline the nature of these 3 layers.

Below, I’ll outline my summary of what he meant, as well as try to explain how to apply it in contemporary terms.

The layer of tapas, or work

With this layer, we focus on the quality of our application, focus, and effort.

In addition, tapas is viewed as the heat we apply or generate in our practice so as to move forward, and to deepen our understanding of what is happening in our yoga.

Tapas is seen as both cleansing and purifying. This is due to the fact that we have to overcome many obstacles within ourselves.

In a Post, I’ve said more about this first layer of tapas, or work.

Patanjali online yoga classes, or in-studio, for Kriya Yoga in action

Patanjali yoga classes for all levels. HERE.

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Flametree’s Patanjali yoga retreat is suitable for anyone with at least 6 months of yoga. Classes are personalised to whatever level you’re at. Learn more about Flametree’s retreat.

The 9 obstacles to practising yoga

Patanjali also noted 9 obstacles to practising yoga. As we go about our yoga practice, they occur for each of us.

Patanjali, all that time ago, said that the major obstacles to practising yoga were:

  • disease
  • inertia
  • laziness
  • doubt
  • heedlessness
  • indiscipline of the senses
  • erroneous views
  • lack of perseverance

Obviously, we can all recognise these obstacles in ourselves at various times. It’s fascinating to realise that not much as changed in the time since Patanjali wrote his Sutras.

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Kriya yoga ideally also involves regular breath meditation. It can dramatically increase the outcomes you’ll get just from yoga postures alone. It’s part of our Kriya Yoga classes options.

The possibility of growth and change

Tapas lets us burn off past impressions.

This first tier of Kriya Yoga also shows us that it’s possible to change and grow. In the process, it helps us refine our misperceptions of yoga, ourselves, and the world around us.

It also lets you become present to current moments, without the mind always interpreting our experiences. In other words, you’re quietening your “monkey mind”.

(By the way, a “monkey mind” has been variously described, including as a state of restlessness, capriciousness, and lack of control in one’s thoughts, or being unsettled, restless, or confused.)

The work that you do in yoga

For instance, your yoga teacher may ask you practise a number of asanas with a particular emphasis. For instance, in a yoga class, or your own practice, you might be asked, or have been asked, to do things like practise yoga with your back heel to the wall.

In the process of any such specific way of practising yoga, your understanding of the asanas (or yoga postures) has changed. This change is due to your continuing yoga practise.

But, in addition, it’s due to the fact that your understanding of yourself, as you have gone about each such practice, will also have changed.

It’s all just a small illustration of how tapas (or work), causes growth and change.

Lessons for your home practice

When we practise combining effort and concentration in a balanced way, we’re also learning how to become present to the world immediately around us right now.

We also begin to experience ourselves and our world “directly”. This means that we’re at least lessening the constant filtering of all our experience through the filter of our minds, habits and preconceptions.

Obviously, I know you will have encountered many or all of the above obstacles to practice, and probably some other obstacles as well.

As clever as Patanjali was, he could hardly have foreseen the many additional distractions in our current world. Some of these probably fall into whole new and additional categories of obstacles. Can you think of any?

Check out Flametree’s Patanjali Yoga retreat. HERE. 

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Patanjali online yoga classes, or in-studio, for Kriya Yoga in action

Consider your obstacles and share about them

I am very keen that you identify and share about both the obstacles you encounter, and how to deal with them.

Sharing is a useful learning exercise, and it also helps others make contributions that you might otherwise miss.

I’m also interested to hear how you altered your yoga practice due to whatever mix of obstacles you encounter.

For instance, I know of some students who only do yoga in our studios, because their partner or children distract them at home.

But, others who do practise yoga at home, use the discipline of attending an online class, as a way to overcome the inertia that Patanjali identified.

So, when you think about Patanjali’s 9 obstacles, and any others you can identify, what has been going on for you?

Aspects of how you apply Tapas (or do the work)

Tapas, or how you do the work in your yoga postures, has a wide range of other aspects to it. For instance, it can involve any mix of these elements:

  • creating a way of acting that involves compassion and patience
  • understanding effort management in relation to your tapas
  • building sustainable effort
  • the number of repetitions you do
  • to what extent your effort is balanced, and what it is balance among
  • understanding that different asanas, or groups of asanas, each require different levels of effort.

When you think about these aspects of your tapas, or work generated as you do your postures, what can you identify about your way of doing your postures, thinking about them, attitude to them, and the outcomes you get.

Also, which asanas in your yoga sequence practice required the most effort and concentration?

See Flametree’s Patanjali online yoga classes, or in-studio.

Patanjali yoga classes for all levels. HERE.

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Advanced forward bend by Chris Lalor, from Flametree Yoga, at Umbrawarra Gorge NT.

Second tier of Kriya Yoga is Svadhaya, or self-study

When it comes to the second, self-study tier of Kriya Yoga, it’s also useful to think about these questions.

  • How do you, or did you, cultivate dispassion, and / or put aside judgement from moment to moment?
  • What’s your ability to see yourself as you go about your practice?
  • Can you identify some of your habits, beliefs, and prejudices?
  • What is your ability to see your changing moods and emotions, and how do they affect you day to day?
  • What teaches you to be less judgmental, and / or more forgiving?

Often we try “to do” exactly as the teacher tells us. But then we discover that more time is needed perhaps in preparation, different prop use, and more.

So, modifications need to be made. Have you already found this with the yoga sequence you’ve been doing recently?

Self-study, and the issues that come up for you as you do it, and consider it, are what starts to make your practice “yours”.

In addition, self-study is what makes your practice more meaningful, effective, and powerful.

In relation to this self-study section, here is one last question for each of you. Which postures allow you to get quiet and centred in your home practice?

Third tier of Kriya Yoga. (Surrender or Isvara Pranidhana)

Isvara Pranidhana, is translated as surrender to a god, gods, or God, or surrender to some higher force. It can be a higher force within yourself, or beyond yourself, of whatever kind you choose.

In a yoga practice, we come to understand that surrender is an essential part of practice.

A first thing to note is that some Westerners (and maybe not just Westerners), are brought up with the idea that surrender is inherently bad. In their mind, it can mean giving in to things such as lack of discipline, or difficult circumstances, or whatever.

When I’m teaching yoga, I sometimes notice this approach in gymnastic types who are relatively new to yoga. They sometimes “go at” a pose like a bull at a gate. In the process, and in their stiffness, they often even hurt themselves.

Moreover, their body and mind, being ill-prepared for yoga, often causes them to struggle, and certainly does not assist them.

This approach also often leads to going hard at something for a short while, and then giving up on it altogether. Instead, a more yogic approach is being more measured and persistent.

In addition, a so-called bull at a gate approach spend more than appropriate amounts of time with a focus on the sympathetic nervous system. In the process, such people are unduly stressed by yoga, rather than finding the inner peace that I discuss in the next section.

Patanjali online yoga classes, or in-studio, to learn any mix of poses you want to practise.

Patanjali online yoga classes, or in-studio, for Kriya Yoga

Patanjali online yoga classes, or in-studio, for Kriya Yoga in action will deliver inner peace, and much more.

Check out Flametree’s Patanjali Yoga retreat. HERE. 

Get up to 90% off our Patanjali yoga teacher training course. HERE.

What poses help you find inner peace?

The Western perceptions of surrendering, or giving in, are not what Patanjali meant by surrender.

Instead, we mean that as we practise our yoga, change happens. We surrender ourselves to accept and move with that change. It obviously happens on both a physical and spiritual level.

Again, I don’t mean spiritual in any religious sense. Instead, I like Wikipedia’s definition of secular spirituality.

“Secular spirituality emphasises the inner peace of the individual, rather than a relationship with the divine. [It]…emphasises humanistic qualities such as love, compassion, patience, forgiveness, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others.”

So the issue to consider is to what extent a pose, and the way you do it, physical and mentally, helps you to find inner peace, or helps you get more of those humanistic qualities? Or maybe it also leads to other changes that you accept as useful?

Which poses allow you to surrender?

We have to learn to allow surrender to take us where it will. It’s essential in order to allow for the unfolding of your “constructed self”.

So I ask each of you a question. Which asanas allowed you to let go, so the mind could stop its chatter. Or, in other words, to what extent did any particular asana allow you to shut down, or quieten, you monkey mind?

Another more current way that some think about this issue, is to consider which poses let you “zone into” them so you lose sense of time. Sometimes, in those or other poses, you can consciously feel yourself relax physically.

For example, for me, postures lie Legs Up The Wall, or T-Shaped Bridge Pose, or some of the many forward bends, will most immediately quieten my mind. In other words, they quickly give me a sense of inner peace, as well as physical relaxation.

Do Flametree’s Patanjali online yoga classes, or in-studio.

Last, here are some further aspects of Kriya Yoga to consider as you go about doing your next sequence of yoga poses.

  1. How do you enter each asana?
  2. How do you accept what each asana is doing? (EG start to look at the stretch in the asana).
  3. What is the way you can surrender to each asana, and thereby stop the struggle with it in your mind or body, or both?

So, in summary, Patanjali developed the process of Kriya Yoga, or “yoga in action”, to help us practise better, quieten our minds, and gain inner peace. I’ve outline the elements of what he meant.

Patanjali yoga classes for all levels. HERE.

Check out Flametree’s Patanjali Yoga retreat. HERE. 

Get up to 90% off our Patanjali yoga teacher training course. HERE.

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Arm Balance by Flametree Senior Teacher Chris Lalor, of Darwin NT. See more about Chris’s Patanjali yoga teacher training course deals.

Yoga is your path to inner peace

Practising yoga and breath meditation is the super highway to everything you want from yoga.

Particular types of yoga, like Gentle Yoga, or Back, Neck & Shoulder Yoga, or Easy Restorative Yoga, are especially good for both de-stressing and stretching.

These are excellent beginner classes when you have not been exercising for a long time, or are stiff. As well as improving flexibility, these classes reduce stress, and fix imbalances.

Ideally, as soon as you’ve done at least 6 months of yoga come to Flametree’s Patanjali yoga retreat in Bali 2024.

But, start yoga, or continue your yoga, including breath meditation, at whatever level of skill your at. In the process, apply self-study about yoga, so as to help you go further and faster.

In due course, for an even higher level of training, check out Flametree’s teacher training at up to 90% OFF. 

All Flametree classes are both online and in-the-studio, including private classes. There is also a large selection of yoga video courses and classes.

See our most popular passes at the orange links below.

10 HALF price beginner yoga classes, & 2 FREE

Patanjali yoga classes for all levels. HERE.

Check out Flametree’s Patanjali Yoga retreat. HERE. 

Get up to 90% off our Patanjali yoga teacher training course. HERE.

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One Reply to “Patanjali Online Yoga Classes, Or In-Studio.”

  1. jo rees says:

    thanks Chris, very helpful. I often wonder about the life of Patanjali and what he looked like. Who were his peers and teachers and students. I wonder also about how many layers of generations before him did it all begin, or was it his special gift to the world.

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