The Jungleyoga Training Manual was written by me (Randall O’Leary) over about 4 years. It attempts to explain a pathway of practicing yoga and living life with a yogic approach. After all, they are not really separate. The full manual is available to all students who have completed the training or anyone who writes me with a special request. If you are going to do the training, it would be useful to read beforehand. I hope it benefits your practice and your life. Om
To be born a human is a special gift. We could have been born into millions of different incarnations, but we have been blessed to appear on earth as we are today. However, this gift is not to be taken for granted; to truly appreciate this birth we must make the most of it. Some people feel that to truly live, is to live for one’s self and satisfy all of the urges and cravings that manifest in the mind. They try to gather riches and power in an attempt to maximize their time upon the earth. According to spiritual laws, this can only be the path of sorrow, despite the temporary pleasures it may bring.
In order to be truly grateful for what we have been given, we must live a life beyond our selfish urges. For many of us, a sense of appreciation can come from our yoga practice. When we immerse our lives in yoga, it is called the yoga marg, or the path of yoga – our own creative effort to manifest yoga in life, and live it as best we can. We attempt to live spiritual lives, meaning we try to maximize our lives to be the best they can be, but we are guided by different principles than those of purely self-centered action. Yogic living is the effort to be positive, to benefit not only one’s self, but all the creatures and beings that surround us. A life guided by yoga seeks to realize its highest potential upon earth, today if possible!
Your Yogic Path
Our yoga marg is unique to each of us, but it also adheres to universal principles of yogic living – a few simple and fundamental truths, upon which all of yoga is built – and which are integrated into our lives through our practice. The true work of yoga is to know these truths in our hearts, and not just believe them with our minds. The ancient yogis looked deeply into the nature of the self and the universe: not content to live the life of urges and disgusts, they thirsted to actualize human potential, and sought to discover a path where humans could make the most out of life. The system which they created for others to realize the truths they had discovered for themselves was called yoga. To follow this yoga marg is to follow the ancient path of the yogis: to live the truth of yoga, which, in their infinite grace, they left for us to explore.
At the end of the yoga marg is the true manifestation of our highest potential in life – the realization that our essence is universal, limitless and without separation; that the essence of ourselves is one with the essence of the universe; that our innermost being is a slice of the universal absolute. Our great challenge on the yoga marg is to recognize the unity of all things and live it as an ever-present truth. To accomplish this is to take our place as a part of the shining oneness of nature, something known as moksha or nirvana – enlightenment or liberation. If we put our hearts and minds and the energy of our lives into working towards this accomplishment, in whichever ways are right for us, we are living our yoga. It is up to us how intensely we wish to pursue this lofty goal of unity.
Life and Yoga: A Harmony
The most zealous follow the creed: “Seek liberation like a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond.” Certainly, this approach is not for every yogi; each of us must choose how intensely we want to seek the highest within ourselves.
All of this is not to say that we are to neglect the external duties which we have been presented with in this life. Spiritual living is taking care of what needs to be done – in the right yogic ways – as we work towards fulfillment, whether it relates to our inner or outer worlds. In fact, the challenges we face in life are an essential part of the yoga itself; one cannot seek realization by running away from the things that need to be done. We must find the way of harmony in our yoga and in our relationship to the world at large.
At first, those starting out on the yoga marg often see yoga as a refuge, and possibly an escape from, life’s difficulties. Eventually the yoga becomes more complete and integrated in the life of the seeker and the differences between yoga and the rest of life begin to fade. Then the two begin to work together; inner and outer join together to propel the yogi forwards with even more force and power than when they were in conflict.
The Ancient Path
Even in ancient times, the sages recognised that balancing the yoga with other parts of our lives is one of the most difficult challenges we face on the yoga marg. It was in response to the seemingly impossible conflicts between worldly life and spiritual life that the Bhagavad Gita was written. One of the most ancient and powerful texts that has been written on yoga, the Bhagavad Gita does not outline difficult practices such as swallowing cloth, standing on the head or holding the breath for long periods. Instead the Gita is a treatise on karma and action; knowing when to act and when not to. The Gita clearly illustrates that if we do not act according to what needs to be done, we are not acting in harmony with yoga, even if such acts seem to be in conflict with what one appears to want.
The ability to see a problem clearly and find the path to its resolution is one of the most important – and challenging – skills one can develop in the yoga. Hatha Yoga develops this skill through the work of the asanas and breaths in an essentially simple and basic way. However simple someone might find it to achieve some asanas with the body; they all teach essential lessons that are critically useful in daily life as well. Our most basic goal in developing the yoga in ourselves is the ability to take the lessons learned in the practice and apply them to situations outside the yoga, regardless of their nature. When this starts to happen, then the yoga is truly working, for the harmony between inner and outer is becoming established and life becomes a whole, not just a sum of various parts.
Balance Brings Harmony
What the ancient yogis realised is that in order to have harmony between our inner and outer worlds, we must make a connection to our true center. This center is the source of our being, and has countless names; it can be called the soul, the infinite, the jiva, the Tao, or the divine. Yogis seek this true center, and every practice in yoga – be it asanas, breath cycles or meditations – has its discovery as its fundamental goal. This is important to remember when you are practicing, for it is often forgotten. Students can become caught up in trying to accomplish some seemingly important goal and forget what the true aim of the practice is: the realization of balance which takes us to the centre.