Siddha’s – The History

While Siddha‘s have an oral tradition that dates back millennia and still exist to date within Siddha monasteries and communities which are hidden from the public eye – very little is known about them. Here is a little information about 3 of the better known Siddha communities.

The 18 Tamil Siddha’s

Siddha (Sanskrit), Siddhar or cittar (Tamil), is a perfected individual, who has attained intellectual powers called siddhi by constant practice of certain cognitive, perceptual or physical disciplines.

Historically, Siddhar also refers to ancient wise, wandering, men and women who dominated ancient Indian teaching and philosophy. They were knowledgeable in astronomy, drama, dance, fine arts, literature, music, science, technology and warfare. They assisted all, from kings to common people, by providing solutions, curing their illness and advising them for their future. Many of their written works date from 300BC to 300CE, although their oral tradition exists for centuries before that. 

In ancient South India, Siddha’s were saints, doctors, alchemists and mystics all in one. They wrote their findings in secret poems. These poems were written in Tamil script on palm leaves. These palm leaves were collected and stored in what are known as “Palm leaf manuscripts“. Although centuries old many of these palm leaf manuscripts are still owned by some families in Tamil Nadu and handed down through the generations. Some are  kept in public institutions such as universities in India, Germany, Great Britain and the United States. The British Museum has a few in its archives. 

Among other branches of a vast knowledge-system, Siddha’s developed what is now known as Siddha medicine. A rustic form Siddha medicine is still being practised by experienced elders in the villages of Tamil Nadu. It is believed that Ayurvedic Medicine – the world recognised Indian medical system, has its origins in Siddha medicine. 

Siddha’s are the founders of Varmam or Marman. This is both –  a martial art for self-defence and a medical treatment at the same time. Varmam, marman or marmani are specific points located in the human body which when pressed or pierced in different ways can give a variety of results. It can be used to disable an attacker in self-defence or to balance the body or release trigger points in order to resolve a physical ailments. It is also used as an easy first-aid medical treatment.

Tamil Siddha’s were also the first to develop pulse-reading (“naadi paarththal” in Tamil). This was used to to identify the origin of diseases using pulse to gage the bio-electric condition of the body. Some Siddha’s were so developed in this ability that they did not have to touch the patient but via simple observation they could determine the condition of the body. 

The Siddhars achieved their immense knowledge through their daily yogic practices. They lived and believed in a holistic wellbeing and were in constant pursuit of perfecting themselves and their wisdom so they may assist and share this with people around them.

In the Tamil tradition, there are 18 siddhars who are considered as the pillars of siddha medicine. There is no consensus on when these Siddha’s lived – but much is known about them. They were all historical figures. Their names, contributions, peoms and place where they attained Samadhi (eternal consciousness) are well documented in Tamil literature from the 3rdcentury BC to present. To date there are Tamil Siddha’s in villages of Tamil Nadu. They are elusive – not much is know about their lives – but their healing abilities are well known and highly regarded. 

The Tibetan Mahasiddha’s

In Tibetan tradition the Mahasiddha were great adepts who cultivated and embodied human perfection. The Mahasiddhas were known practitioners of yoga and tantra. They were also known as tantrikas. Their historical influence throughout the Indian subcontinent and the Himalaya’s was vast. Their wisdom was codified in their songs of realization and hagiographies, or namtars.  Many of these have been preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon

The Siddha communities of India and the Himalaya’s were like “Institutes of Advanced Studies”. The first Universities in the world were created or curated by them – Taxashilla (pre 600BC), Nalanda (500CE) and Vikramashila(700CE). These were research centres for highly cultivated, successful and graduated experts in various branches of Science and Inner Science (adhyatmavidya). Many of the teachers at these institutes were monastics and could move back and forth from university (vidyalaya) to monastery (patha).  Many had taken vows of poverty, celibacy, and so forth, and were lived in the classical Indian sannyāsin or sādhu style. Robert Thurman called the mahasiddha’s “psychonauts”. He claimed that in “parallel with our “astronauts”, the materialist scientist-adventurers whom we admire for their courageous explorations of the “outer space” which we consider the matrix of material reality. Inverse astronauts, the psychonauts voyaged deep into “inner space”, encountering and conquering angels and demons in the depths of their subconscious minds.”

And what they shared with the world was their understanding on how to develop human ability. Some of the revered Siddha’s in the Tibetan tradition are Tilopa, Naropa, Niguma and Sukhasiddhi. The 6 Yoga’s of Naropa and the completion stage yoga or Niguma are practices based on Siddha wisdom. 

The 84 Buddhist Siddha’s

The Buddhist schools that flourished from the 8-12 centuries borrowed from earlier records and developed a very systematic theory on the Siddha’s. According to Buddhist and Tibetan texts and a poem by the Sufi saint and poet Kabir – there were 84 Siddha’s. All of them were human teachers who who attained supernormal abilities through the practice of yoga. Many of these Siddha’s were women. All of these texts list the names and offer some details of the lives of these Siddha’s.

These authors of these medieval texts refer to earlier Indian texts that also detailed the lives of Siddha’s but many of these original texts are thought to be lost or hidden. The Siddha’s composed texts and mystical songs. These have been preserved mainly in their Tibetan translations. This is because when India was invaded in the 11thcentury many of the Indian Siddha’s fled into the Himalayan range with earlier works and these were shared with Tibetan students who translated the works into their language for safe keeping and posterity. Some of the original texts written by 11thcentury Siddha’s have been discovered – the Siddha’s songs are preserved in a collection known as Caryāścarya-viniścaya. The Siddha Tilopa, who was the teacher of Naropa, has part of his original writings preserved in one of his Dohākośa’s. 

Theses mystical songs and text share experiences, insight and details of special types sadhana (spiritual practices) that the 11thcentury Siddha’s found effective in their development. 

What was the special form of mysticism that the Siddha’s adhered to?

As much of Siddha literature is still unknown – details are pieced together from Tibetan translations and 11thcentury texts. 

The teaching of Siddhācārya was esoteric. Nobody except a qualified guru was allowed to initiate a disciple into the mysteries. This is why even in modern times the few known Siddha students in Nepal are known as gurubhāju – followers of the guru. They distinguish themselves from followers of the Brahmanical faith who are called devabhāju – followers of God. 

Concepts that are repeated in Siddha texts:

“The truth that is free from duality is thought by the Siddha”. 

“By following the Siddha’s instructions with patience and persistent practice, the truth will be revealed to you.” 

“The Siddha does not ask you to believe anything, the Siddha gives you the tools that enable you to experience reality for yourself.”

“The one who is open to the Siddha’s instructions becomes the Siddha”

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

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Yoga – Why Interoception Matters?

In the Western hemisphere many are familiar with only one limb of Yoga – Asana, or physical postures. However according to Patanjali (Ancient Indian Yoga Scholar and systematiser of the Yogic texts) there are eight limbs of yoga. They need not be practiced in any order – but for a real yoga practice – all eight limbs should be incorporated. 

Those deeper into yoga have also come across pranayama or breath control. I won’t explain all the limbs of yoga but jump to the fifth: pratyahara.  Many western translations will refer to pratyahara as withdrawal of the senses, but that’s not the complete picture. Pratyahara is really about changing your focus from the outside to within.Pratyahara is understood as the practice of withdrawing external sensory perception in order to increase inner awareness .  In neuroscience we have now defined and are beginning to understand this inner sense. We call it – interoception.

What is Interoception?

Interoception is the sense of our internal bodily states2. It underlies our ability to know what’s going on inside our body. Interoception which is also called “our extra sense”is unlike our other senses -hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste.  Theses well known senses develop almost spontaneously from birth in most people unless there is a physiological abnormality. And while interoception can occur spontaneously for some, for most it is an acquired skill that requires practice to master. This is because our brains default mode is externally directed3,4. Those who practice meditation acknowledge the challenge required in attending to a single object and maintaining focus without allowing the mind to wander. Meditation and meditative yoga encourage the practitioner to turn their attention towards the present moment, which traditionally includes the sensations arising in the body. Studies have found a relationship between the ability to be mindfully aware and the ability to use interoception5. This is because “being mindfully observant is connected with greater body awareness”5. Thus, mindfulness meditation and yoga can strengthen our interoceptive ability. However, because yoga engages both body and brain at the same time – it has the ability to more train interoception more effectively and more speedily.

A Brief History of Interoception

Interoception was first mentioned by Charles Sherrington, an American physiologist in 1906 in his book The Integrative Action of the Nervous System. However, even though he did not use the word interoception, Charles Darwin alluded to its significance in his lesser known book published in 1872, The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals. Darwin theorized that the experience of an emotion is heightened when accompanied by bodily expressions (e.g., baring one’s teeth or smiling)7,8. William James, the father of American psychology expanded on this idea when he suggested that signals from the bodily inform the mind about its emotional state5. He endorsed the idea that “we do not shiver because we are scared of a lion, but we shiver, and we label this shiver as fear”9. He suggests that a bottom-up process – from the body to the brain – underlies all emotion.

However, this idea was relatively unexplored as the research community of the 1900’s – 1990’s favoured a top-down process, where the emphasis was placed on how the brain informs the body. 

Researcher’s side-lined this area of study due to the inability to find that neural pathways that enabled us to perceive internal sensations. They knew that a system was at work that processed internal signals and that this system kept us alive for it regulated the heart rate, breathing and almost all internal function. They proposed that these inner workings were controlled by the autonomic nervous system.  It was believed that these autonomic functions happened automatically and there was no way to be conscious of them, let alone control them.

It wasn’t until Antonio Damasio proposed his somatic marker hypothesis (SMH) in the 1990’s, which he describes in his book Descartes’ Error that the bottom up processes resurfaced. The somatic market hypothesis describes how sensations that arise in the body bias our decision-making10. Due to interest in this theory there was an emergence in research of how bodily sensations guide our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours11.

Interoception – The Science

Leading on from bottom-up processes, in 2002 Bud Craig, an American neuroatomist and neuroscientist brought interoception back into the research arena when he redefined interoception as the sense of the physiological status of all tissues of the body. And he proposed that interoception is what supported homeostasis – the process that enables the internal environment of the body to sustain life. From this point a small body of researchers decided to discover how information from all tissues of the body made its way back to the brain. They discovered that this information was transferred via a specific nerve pathway (the lamina-1-spinothalamic tract) found in the spinal cord. Via this area of the spinal cord, information from all body tissues pass to a very specific part of the brain called the insula where the body sensations are put together for form a sense of self. It was also discovered that poor interoception was linked to anxiety, body dysmorphia, eating disorders and depression. Hence it became important to discover how to train people to be more interoceptively aware. 

How to become more Interoceptive?

My research in this field considered how to teach one to become more interoceptively aware. I looked at top down and bottom-up techniques to discover if training mental attention or body awareness was the more efficient method for interoception training. An early research paper entitled Interoception: A Measurement of Embodiment or Attention explains the process1https://www.ibpj.org/issues/articles/Buldeo%20-%20Interoception%20A%20measure%20of%20Embodiment%20or%20Attention_.pdf

My studies in this area have enabled me to develop the Interoceptive I-Yoga technique to teach interoceptive awareness speedily and efficiently while improving posture and overall wellbeing. I-Yoga is a simple 4-Step pracitice to increased interoceptive awareness.

What was remarkable for me as a Yogi and scientist is that while it took centuries for the modern scientific research community to grasp how the body and mind work together to create our experiences, ancient Yogi’s described this process in detail. The Upanishads, written works dated from 1900BC which were based on an even older oral tradition discuss yoga and the process of inner awareness. The Yogatattwa Upanishad dated pre 150CEdescribes the practice of pratyahara in detail. It states that Pratyahara arises from the union of Prana (breath),Apana(hydration and oxygenation of body), Asana (physical alignment) and Jivatma(bio-physiological harmony or homeostasis). Pratyahara (inner awareness) leads to higher functioning and supernormal states of functioning. Modern research is suggesting that the same is true. Higher interoception (inner awareness) leads to superior human abilities.

This is why interoception matters. Interoception is the window into the body that informs the mind. And as we hone our interoceptive skills, we are able to utilise the influential power and wisdom of our body sensations.

Every cell in our body responds to the environment, our body is full of wisdom – by training interoception we discover how to utilise this wisdom. 

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you

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References

  1. Buldeo, N. Interoception: A measure of embodiment or attention. International Body Psychotherapy Journal. 2015;14,1:65-79. https://www.ibpj.org/issues/articles/Buldeo%20-%20Interoception%20A%20measure%20of%20Embodiment%20or%20Attention_.pdf
  2. Garfinkel SN, Seth AK, Barrett AB, Suzuki K, Critchley HD. Knowing your own heart: Distinguishing interoceptive accuracy from interoceptive awareness. Biol Psychol. 2015;104:65-74. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.11.004.
  3. Farb NAS, Segal Z V, Anderson AK. Mindfulness meditation training alters cortical representations of interoceptive attention. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2013;8(1):15-26. doi:10.1093/scan/nss066.
  4. Farb NAS, Segal Z V, Mayberg H, et al. Attending to the present: mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2007;2(4):313-322. doi:10.1093/scan/nsm030.
  5. Hanley AW, Mehling WE, Garland EL. Holding the body in mind: Interoceptive awareness, dispositional mindfulness and psychological well-being. J Psychosom Res. 2017;99:13-20. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.05.014.
  6. Hasenkamp W, Wilson-Mendenhall CD, Duncan E, Barsalou LW. Mind wandering and attention during focused meditation: A fine-grained temporal analysis of fluctuating cognitive states. Neuroimage. 2012;59(1):750-760. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.008.
  7. Darwin C. The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. London: John Murray; 1872.
  8. Strack F, Martin LL, Stepper S. Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: a nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988;54(5):768-777. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3379579. Accessed October 30, 2017.
  9. Fuchs T, Koch SC. Embodied affectivity: on moving and being moved. Front Psychol. 2014;5:508. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00508.
  10. Dunn BD, Dalgleish T, Lawrence AD. The somatic marker hypothesis: A critical evaluation. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(2):239-271. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2005.07.001.
  11. Werner NS, Schweitzer N, Meindl T, Duschek S, Kambeitz J, Schandry R. Interoceptive awareness moderates neural activity during decision-making. Biol Psychol. 2013;94(3):498-506. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.09.002.

Sanatana Dharma

Sanātana dharma meaning “eternal order” is the what underlies all Indian philosophy. It was the main cosmological explanation in the Indian subcontinent. The adherence to Sanātana dharma is what evolved into modern Hinduism. Many say that Hinduism is the new new name for Sanātana dharma – this is untrue as Sanātana dharma was never a religion but a way of life. In ancient India, there was no religion. Sanātana dharma was about understanding the fundamentals of the universe and living by those principals. Hence it was more science than religion.

The word Hindu was of Persian origin, it is what the Persians called the people who lived to the east of the River Sindh.

To understand Sanātana dharma – you need to understand three underlying concepts – Rta, Maya and Karma. 

Rta is the principal which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything in it (including humans) – it is akin to the fundamental forces described by modern science. Sanatana Dharma involves honouring these fundamental forces. 

However, as most humans cannot even perceive these natural forces – living this concept has historically come with detailed instructions and the need for a spiritual guide. This concept is what inspired many enlightened teachers – like Buddha. 

It is also this concept that gave rise to the various meditation, yoga and tantric practices. These practices were used to develop your body and mind so you may perceive and live in accordance with Rta. Living in Rta means living your dharma. 

However, if your perception or consciousness is unclear then you are prone to being led astray by misguided goals. These misguided goals may have short term benefits but are detrimental in the long term. Misguided goals are due to Maya. Maya means fraud, deception, illusion – it refers to anything that misleads and creates disorder. 

The world as most of us perceive it, is often referred to as Maya. We know that if we looked through a giant microscope – we will see a very different picture. Yet, we decide to make the material world our reality. 

Maya is contrary to Rta. And Maya conditions us to behave in a self-limiting manner. This self limiting behaviour results in karma.

The only way to overcome karma is to train your mind and body to live your Dharma. Live your truth!

Dharma is to do whatever you do practically, skilfully for the benefit of all beings. Dharma is purity of heart. 

Response from a Nun to Bethany Hughes question “What is Dharma?”

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius. 

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Siddha – The Accomplished Ones

The idea of a siddhi – psychic or supernormal power – is universal in Indian philosophy. Almost all schools of belief in India and other Asian cultures – that were influenced by Buddhism and Sanatana Dharma – attach great importance to yoga. It is understood that the practice of yoga yields these siddhi’s or powers. And a Siddha is one who has attained these supernormal powers. Siddha – which means “accomplished one” – refers to those who via practice or grace have accomplished a supernormal ability. While these abilities make the Siddha appear superhuman – Siddha’s are always human. Siddha’s are just fully functioning humans or superconscious humans. All they have done is overcome limitations to use abilities that all humans possess to a greater level.

Although we all have the potential to do it, the attainment of a siddhi is a challenging task that requires patience, perseverance and skilful practice. Hence there were just a few special schools which specialised in these practices. These mystery schools were never large organisations, nor commercial or publicised ventures. They were small organisations developed by Siddha’s and designed to attract only a special kind of student. This special student is one who is committed to developing his or her human potential to the fullest. In order to only attract the correct student – these schools were shrouded in mystery and secrecy.

However if we look at any of the great esoteric, spiritual or yogic schools, even those in existence today – we can trace back the original teaching to a Siddha. The schools founder or the founders teacher, will have been inspired by a solitary being. A person they may have met only a few times, or spent many years with. But this being would have initiated a transformative change or enlightening experience. For this is the only goal of a Siddha – to enable others to achieve their full human potential.

Hence while the Siddha lineage has been in existence for millennia – and references to Siddha’s are made in most classical Buddhist, Brahmanical and Daoist texts – very little is known about them.

Why are Siddha’s so secretive?

It is often said in classical texts that the Siddha’s used a secret language called “sandhya bhasya”. They practiced in isolation. They shied away from publicity. They had special healing abilities which they used to help people from all walks of life – yet they never sought to use this healing ability for commercial gain. WHY?

Regarding the secret language – there is not really one. It’s just then when Siddha’s talk about experiences, states of consciousness or perception that individuals cannot yet understand or relate to, it seems like they are talking in code. Yet as one develops their practice, perceptive ability and alters their state of awareness… this once secret code makes absolute sense.

They practiced in isolation and shy away from attention because vital to the Siddha practice is Ego-lessness. The only way to lose your limitations and achieve unlimited human potential is to lose the limitations of your ego. And in an ego-less state – there is no need to call attention to the self. There is no need to create a persona or to aspire to celebrity status. This is a real challenge in our modern social media driven culture. Yet the Siddha will value their ego-less state more than anything else – even to detriment of their own social standing – for it is in this ego-less state that real potential emerges.

They refused to gain from their healing abilities because these abilities arise as features of the higher states of awareness. And this higher awareness infuses them with overwhelming bliss. This blissful state is all they desire. If their focus shifted to the healing ability – their blissful state my be diluted. Hence the Siddha would use their abilities to benefit others but never for personal gain – as the blissful state is worth more than anything else.

How do I find a Siddha school or teacher?

It is often said that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. This is true. If your desire to achieve your highest potential is strong, your teacher will appear. All you need to do is commit to your current practice and live your life authentically.

Why is Siddha and Siddhi’s of importance in this modern world?

Never before has the human race been as aware of our ability to shape our own evolution as we are now. With the advent of AI, robotics, transhumanism, gene modification therapies – we have already begun altering our evolutionary process. Yet this practice is not new – Siddha’s have transformed themselves over the ages – however they did it in keeping with nature. Many of the technologies we are now developing could have detrimental effects as we try to overpower nature and natural evolution. The reality is that the planet will go on – it is humanity who will disappear if these new technologies go wrong. It has therefore, become ever more important for a larger group of humans to embrace the wisdom of the Siddha’s.

To discover more about Siddha’s or their practice please comment, ask questions or make suggestions for future articles.

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

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Yoga & Meditation – Is there a difference?

Many international yoga journals have claimed that you don’t need to meditate in order to practice Hatha Yoga. Nor is the practice of Hatha Yoga mandatory in order to meditate. They claim that the two practices support each other but are mutually exclusive. Yet this idea goes fundamentally against what Yoga is.

What is Yoga?

Yoga comes from the root word Yug which means “to join”. The philosophy of yoga is simple: mind, body and bio-energy are all one and cannot be separated. The purpose of yoga is to strengthen your awareness of this unity.

The gift of Yoga is that awareness of this unity of mind, body and energy, enables you to act effectively, purposefully yet effortlessly.

The practice of yoga enables mind and body to work as one unit that is continuously aware of and responding to the surrounding environment. Yoga is a combination of asana (posture), pranayama (breath and energy flow) and dhyana (concentration or meditation). Yoga is therefore meditation.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is mind training. To reiterate, the yoga tradition is designed to reveal the interconnectedness of every living thing. This fundamental unity is referred to as advaita or oneness. Meditation is the actual experience of this union.

What do Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ tell us about Yoga & Meditation?

Patanjali in his second verse of the first chapter states that yoga (or union) happens when the mind becomes quiet. He goes on to say that this mental stillness is created by bringing the body, mind, and senses into balance. Note here – Patanjali claims that yoga only happens when the mind is still. Yoga only happens when the meditation is present. In fact this idea is inherent in the entire corpus of Yoga literature.

You are NOT practicing Yoga if there is No Meditation.

Yoga only happens when the awareness of body and breath leads to mindful stillness.

I-Yoga and I-MediTate classes use the scientific study off interoceptive awareness to enable you to experience the meditative state of yoga quickly and effectively. The classes also introduce you to a variety of different meditation techniques so you may discover the one that works best for you. 

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Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

What is I-Yoga – Interoceptive Yoga?

Interoceptive-Yoga or I-Yoga was developed by Dr Nitasha Buldeo. It is a simple 4 step yoga practice designed to deepen your body awareness. It is based on a comprehensive understanding of classical Hatha Yoga and scientific research in the field of interoception.

Interoception is a scientific term that means inner awareness. By fusing scientific understanding with the ancient practices of yoga, Interoceptive Yoga has the ability to train body and brain awareness more speedily than traditional methods. 

How Interoceptive Yoga Works?

Interoceptive Yoga may be seen as a bio-hacking technique that enables you to peel back your superficial layers of awareness to free your Inner Genius. It comprises weekly yoga classes for 12 weeks. Over the 12 weeks, you will be guided through the I-Yoga 4 step process to improve your body function. This 4 step process is repeated 3 times – to help you understand the process and learn the tools required to maintain optimal functioning.

Step 1 – I-Yoga MyoRelease – works on tight muscles and tendons that give us poor posture. We use trigger point stimulation to release muscular tension and myofascial contracture. Poor posture prevents your body from functioning optimally. Muscular tension and contractures hinder the bio-electric flow through your body. By releasing these – nerve impulses can flow freely. I-Yoga MyoRelease also eliminates muscle fatigue, restores flexibility and enables deep relaxation.

Step 2 – I-Yoga ReAlign – once myofascial contractures are released – we begin to realign the body for optimal performance and enhanced bio-electric energy flow. You see immediate improvements in your posture and learn the posture of success. You will also start to understand how to use breath to control the Body. I-Yoga ReAlign improves posture and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to aide deep healing.

Step 3 – I-Yoga Stimulate – once your body is realigned and posture corrected we begin to strengthen your skeletal muscle to maintain this good postural alignment. Yoga flow sequences and strong holds are then used to stimulate the sympathethic nervous system and strengthen your body and mental resolve. You learn how to use posture, breath and mental focus to calm your mind and overcome challenges.

Step 4- I-Yoga MediTate – once your posture and breath are strong and controlled, you are taught mind and body techniques that enable your to access deeper states of awareness, creative insight, intuitive wisdom, mastery or peak experiences. Using repetitive flow, deep breathing and a variety of mind-training techniques, I-MediTate harmonises mind and body generating a deeply restful yet super-creative mental state. With regular practice, you learn how to access this superconscious state at will.

To summarise – in step 1, the primary focus is on the release of tightness and pain in the body. In step 2, we realign and correct posture to enable more efficient bio-electric energy flow in our body. In step 3, we direct the body, breath and bio-energy to strengthen the mind and diminish disruptive thoughts. And once this happens we are able to proceed to step 4, where we explore the learn how to access our creativity, intuition or inner wisdom.

Interoceptive-Yoga is The Most Direct Method to a Blissful State.

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

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What is Your Level of Yogic Awareness? The Kosha’s

Ancient yogis had drawn a map to explore the deepest levels of consciousness which was used to guide their yoga journey. This map consists of five layers of the human body that you have to navigate to gain enlightenment. The theory of five layers of awareness within our body was first presented in the early yogic texts, the Upanishads.  Fifteen centuries later Advaita Vedanta reformers refined these five layers into the koshas, the five coverings that hide the light of our True Self (Atman).

Understanding the Kosha’s

The koshas can be imagined as layers of an onion. The outer layers of the onion cover the inner layers – in the same way the external and visible kosha’s form a barrier preventing us from recognising our true nature and connection with the universe.

Yoga developed as the tool that enables you to peel back layer by layer. By peeling these outer layers, our awareness shifts to the deeper levels of our bodies, eventually reaching the innermost core, our True Self. We move from being externally focused (exteroception) to being more internally focused (interoceptive). It is only when we become more interoceptively aware (internally focused) that we can clearly see, understand and align the layers of the kosha’s to attain the goal of yoga – samadhi or oneness with the universe.

The Kosha’s

There are 5 kosha’s.

  1. Annamaya kosha
  2. Pranamaya kosha
  3. Manamaya kosha
  4. Vijnanamaya kosha
  5. Anandamaya kosha

These 5 levels are described below.

The outermost layer is our visible physical body, called the Annamaya kosha. Anna means ‘food’. This layer – the physical body – feeds sensation and nutrition to the deeper layers. And in doing so it sustains the other 4 koshas. The Annamaya kosha interacts with the outside world by taking in information and nutrition. The Annamaya kosha also impacts the outside world via our actions and words. When we begin to pay attention to what we put into our bodies and the effects of our action – then we begin to experience the beauty of Annamaya kosha.

The second layer is the energy body. It is called Pranamaya kosha. Prana means ‘life force” and refers to the bio-electric impulses that enables our body to function. The Pranamaya kosha regulates the movement of the physical (Annamaya kosha – discussed above) and mental (Manamaya kosha – discussed below) levels via bio-electric impulses. These bio-electric impulses are catalysed via oxygen in the blood and pass through nerves, physiological energy channels (nadis), specific trigger points (marma) and energy confluence centres (chakras) – giving rise to actions and thoughts. Once we access this layer – we have greater control of physical and mental responses.

The third layer in is the mental body. It is called the Manamaya kosha. Mana means ‘”mind”. And this layer refers to the thoughts and feelings that arise from the bio-electric impulses that originates in the second layer. When nerves, nadi’s, marma and chakra’s are stimulated – they set off a chain of reactions – releasing stored instinctual patterns of behaviour. The Manamaya kosha therefore gives rise to either – rational or irrational behaviour, linear versus abstract thinking and focused sequential thought versus ambiguous emotional states. However if we have learned how to use our Pranamaya kosha – then we are able to stop instinctual behaviours that are self-destructive.

The fourth layer of the subtle body is called the wisdom body or Vijnanamaya kosha. Vijnana means “knowledge”. This layer contains memories of everything that we have ever experienced or learned. The Vijnanamaya kosha gives rise to creativity, intuition, wisdom and heightened consciousness. But the Vijnanamaya kosha is overshadowed by the Manamaya kosha. It is only by learning to control the Manamaya kosha that the Vijnanamaya kosha becomes actively conscious.

The last kosha is the bliss body or the Anandamaya kosha. Ananda means “bliss”. This layer refers to the pure unchanging awareness that is found at the deepest layer of our being. When you reach this level, you are no longer merely aware of your feelings. You experience a state of being that connects you to everything. You know that you have always existed in this state. You understand how your awareness was previously obscured by focusing on the superficial koshas. Anandamaya kosha is the awareness of our True Self. When you operate from Anandamaya kosha – you have the ability to choose to operate from multiple levels of awareness (other kosha’s) depending on the task at hand. Hence you have the world at your fingertips. But – Great awareness comes with great responsibility.

The Kosha’s and Yoga Practice

The koshas serve as a guide for deepening your yoga practice. They are a map for your journey. The path of yoga is about progressively moving inward, through each of the koshas, to experience the radiance of the True Self. At the same time, yoga allows this inner radiance to shine through as our individuality or personal magnetism.

Interoceptive-Yoga is The Most Direct Method to Your Bliss Body.

Interoceptive-Yoga or I-Yoga is a simple 4 step yoga practice to deepen your awareness and take you to yoga bliss. It is based on a thorough understanding of classical Hatha Yoga. Interoception is a scientific term that means inner awareness. By fusing scientific understanding with the ancient practices of Hatha yoga, I have created Interoceptive Yoga. Interoceptive Yoga is a bio-hacking technique that enables you to peel back your superficial layers to reveal your True Self or Inner Genius.

I-Yoga: Interoceptive Yoga Four Step Process

Step 1 – I-Yoga MyoRelease – works on the Annamaya kosha. We use trigger point stimulation to release muscle tension, myofascial trigger points and contractures that inhibits your body from functioning optimally. Trigger points and contractures hinder the bio-electric flow through the body. By releasing these, the Pranamaya kosha (energy level) can operate effectively. I-Yoga MyoRelease also eliminates muscle fatigue, restores flexibility and enables deep relaxation.

Step 2 – I-Yoga ReAlign – follows MyoRelease. Once myofascial contractures are released – we begin to realign the body for optimal performance and enhanced bio-electric energy flow. Breath is used to engage and experience the Pranamaya kosha. You are taught how to use breath to control the Body or Annamaya kosha. I-Yoga ReAlign also helps improve posture and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to aide deep healing.

Step 3 – I-Yoga Stimulate. Once your body is realigned and posture corrected we begin to strengthen your skeletal muscle to maintain good postural alignment. Yoga flow sequences and strong holds are used to stimulate the sympathethic nervous system and strengthen your body and mental resolve. In step 3, we work with Manamaya kosha – teaching you how to use posture, breath and mental focus to calm your mind and overcome challenges.

Step 4- I-Yoga MediTate teaches you how to access your intuitive wisdom or Vijnanamaya kosha. Using repetitive flow, deep breathing and a variety of mind-training techniques, I-MediTate harmonises mind and body to generate a deeply restful yet super-creative mental state. With regular practice, you learn how to access this superconscious state at will.

To summarise – in step 1, the primary focus is on Annamaya Kosha, the alignment and sensations of the physical body. Once we have corrected, aligned and harmonised this kosha we can use the breath as a bridge into the Pranamaya kosha. In step 2, when we understand the Pranamaya kosha, we are able to connect with the bio-electric energy manifesting in our body. In step 3, we direct the body, breath and bio-energy to strengthen the mind and diminish disruptive thoughts. This allows Manamaya kosha to be calmed, balanced and harmonised. And once this happens we are able to proceed to step 4, where we explore the Vijnanamaya kosha and learn how to access our intuition and inner wisdom. By working through the the first four layers we spontaneously begin to experienced the bliss of Anandamaya kosha – the Blissful state. Enlightenment happens when all the koshas are aligned to experience the oneness of our True Self.

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

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What is Samadhi?

Samadhi is enlightenment. Samadhi means “joining together” or “a state of wholeness”. Within many spiritual traditions Samadhi refers to the deepest state of meditative consciousness or enlightenment. Swami Rama – Master of the Himalayan Tradition described samadhi as the highest state of wisdom. And Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra’s claimed that samadhi was the final limb and ultimate reward of yogic practice.

Patanjali’s second sutra or aphorism explains the aim of yoga philosophy and practice. Yoga chitta-vritti-nirodhah. This translate to “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”. Or “yoga is samadhi”. The aim of yoga practice at every level and in every moment is to attain the highest of all states – samadhi.

But, what is samadhi?

For Patanjali samadhi is not about communing with God. Gods existance or not, was of no concern to him. “Oh yogi,” he says “you have to know yourself on all levels.” You have to understand your body and how it works. You have to know how your body affects your mind. It is only then that you can begin to look into your mind. Only when you understand your mind and discover what is conscious and what is not – that you begin to understand yourself. And when you understand your Self, you understand the Self of all – the Absolute Self (Brahman). This is called Absolute Truth. This is samadhi.

The Katha Upanishad – an ancient Indian text – described samadhi as a feeling of tranquility that is never disturbed, no matter what happens. While experiencing the tranquility of samadhi, your mind becomes so balanced that you are able to enter the fourth state of consciousness – turiya or the superconscious state.

Superconsciousness

All of us have experienced the first three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming and deep dreamless sleep. However a few – yogi’s who practice the inner yogic path – become aware of the fourth state – turiya – superconsciousness or universal consciousness. By attaining turiya – you come in touch with the source of knowledge and infinite love. You gain access into the library of intuitive knowledge.

Turiya is acute, heightened perception not limited by human or ego needs. In the state of turiya – the yogi is still susceptible to mundane challenges – but because all conflicts within and without are resolved – nothing in the world can disturb him.

The Fluctuations of the Mind

Until we reach the state of samadhi – our minds fluctuate between sankalpa (intentions) and vikalpa (imagination). Both sankalpa and vikalpa have positive and negative effects.

Sankalpa helps with discipline and enables us to focus on and achieve goals. But sometimes these intentions can become obsessions that prevent us from growing or achieving higher states of being.

Vikalpa – our imagination may be a wonderful source of creatively – helping us see alternative ways of being. But imagination may also give rise to fear, doubt, mental lassitude – preventing you from achieving your potential.

Hardwired for Tranquility

Yoga practice disciplines body and mind – giving you control over both – so you may stop the mental fluctuations at will. With regular yoga practice we train and develop neural pathways to achieve a states of tranquility. Over time our bodies become hardwired to maintain these states of tranquility – making it possible for us to attain Superconsciousness or Turiya.

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

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The Night of Transformation 04 March 19 – Maha Shivratri

From sunset on the eve of Monday, 4 March 2019 to the morning of 5 March 2019, Yogi’s across the globe will celebrate Maha Shivratri, a night-long hypnotic-spiritual celebration to honour the deity Shiva.

Hailed as both the creator and the destroyer, the blissful mystic meditating on a mountain and the ecstatic wild man dancing in the cremation ground.  Shiva performs the tandava, a vigorous dance that maintains creation, preservation and dissolution. There are two parts to his dance the violent and destructive Rudra Tandava and the blissful Ananda Tandava. He is therefore hailed as the divinity of dance and yoga, of joy and discipline.

This dark night – with no moon to light the sky – has been celebrated in ancient Egypt, Greece and India since antiquity. The worship of Thoth in Egypt, Dionysus in Greece, Pashupathi or Shiva in India, suggests that these cultures shared a common belief – the only way to transform was to let go of the norm.

Alexander The Great had referred to Shiva as the Indian Dionysus. Like the Dionysian Mysteries, Shiva worship involved the use of trance inducing techniques to remove inhibitions.  This allowed the individual to return to their natural state. Over the centuries this ritual has been associated with the use of psychedelic herbs, shamanic drumming, rhythmic chanting, yogic ascetics and trance dance. Basically it is a night where you are encouraged to let go…. Let go of all limitations and envision the new.

From our earliest times, humans have strived to overcome challenges, to find new ways to empower ourselves, to survive. Whether we call it shamanic journeying, individuation, self-actualisation, mastery, samadhi, sahaja, psychotherapy or personal development – we are all hoping for a similar outcome – to overcome our challenges.

evolution

I am not religious and I do not believe in a creator. However, I do respect the wisdom of the ages. So I encourage you to use this night to contemplate your life, to acknowledge personal limitations and to initiate your plan for change.

For me transformation does not come from searching for the light, it stems from acknowledging the darkness. This is why I honour Shiva iconography. He symbolises the sun and the moon, light and dark – for without one you cannot have the other.

My book The Body Heals Itself, shares a 7 step plan to transforming your body for greater wellbeing and optimal performance. Available on Amazon.

Article originally published on 24 January 2017 on drnbuldeo.wordpress.com.

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Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

What is Spontaneous Enlightenment – Sahaja?

Sahaja means spontaneous enlightenment. Sahaja practices became popular in India during the 8th century amongst yogi’s called Sahajiya Siddha’s.

Spontaneous enlightenment is described as “a deep understanding of spirit and matter, subject and object”. It refers to a method of perceiving the world as it is, instead of being limited by our ego based mental attitudes.

Sahajiya Siddha’s (Siddha means “one who is accomplished”) believed that enlightenment could be achieved in this lifetime, by all people living in samsara (the entanglement of the world). The Sahajiya Siddha’s practiced yoga which included various meditation techniques and a form of ritual union which was supposed to bring the female and male elements in each person together and in balance. Hence the Sahjiya Siddha’s pre-empted Karl Jungs theories of Individuations and Anima and Animus by over 1000 years. The aim of this practice was to unify all aspects our our personality.

The Sahajiya Siddha concept of spontaneous enlightenment influenced many Eastern religious traditions including Buddhism and Hinduism. Spontaneous enlightenment was alluded to indirectly and symbolically in the twilight language (sandhya bhasa) used by the Siddha’s throughout the centuries.

One of the early Buddhist Sahajiya Siddha texts the Hevajra Tantra describes four kinds of Joy (ecstasy).

From everyday Joy – there is some bliss. However from Perfect Joy there is even more bliss. From the Joy of losing the ego comes a passionless state. And the Joy of Sahaja is the finality.

The first or everyday Joy comes by desire for contact, the second or Perfect Joy comes from desire for absolute bliss, the third Egoless Joy comes from the passing of passion and by this, the fourth or ultimate Joy of Sahaja is realised.

The first Joy is Samsara (mystic union), The second Joy is Nirvana (the goal) The third Joy is Vairagya (dispassion) which shows you that there is no difference between samsara and nirvana. The fourth Joy of Sahaja (Sahaja-Siddhi) is free of them all. For there is neither desire or nor absence of desire, nor a middle to be obtained. You are free.

Yoga was a big part of the Sahajiya Siddha tradition. The development of the human body (kāya-sādhana) through Haṭha-yoga was of paramount importance in all Siddha schools. The strength of the body was deemed necessary to enable the supreme realisation. Supreme realisation was called Sahaja-siddhi or the fourth Joy.

Sahaja-siddhi means “accomplishment of the unconditioned natural state”. There is also a text by the same name. This text was revealed by Dombi Heruka, one of the eighty-four Mahasiddha’s or most accomplished ones. The following quotation from this text shows how the state of Sahaja-Siddhi. differs from the ‘mental flux’ of our everyday minds.

Although this translation uses the masculine pronoun for siddha, it must be remembered that the term ‘siddha’ is not gender-specific and that there were many female senior teachers within the siddha communities.

On achieving the fourth state or sahaja-siddhi, the practitioner is known as a siddha, a realised soul. He becomes invulnerable, beyond all dangers. For him all forms melt into the Formless.

Surati dissolves into nirati and “japa is lost in ajapa“.

The disolution of surati and nirati is one of the signs of  the accomplishment of sahaja-siddhi. 

Sahaja-Siddhi by Dombi Heruka

Surati is the act of will that occurs even when you try to disengage from worldly attachments. It refers to the self protective or ego-driven choices we make even when we decide not to be selfish. Surati can only be destroyed when the ego is destroyed. If we are able to destroy our ego then we achieve nirati – the cessation of the mental flux, which implies cessation of all willed efforts. 

Cessation of willed efforts does not mean that we are no longer active in the world. All it means is that our actions are not driven by conscious or unconscious personal desires.

The concept of Nirati or Sahaja-Siddhi is found in many schools of spirituality and yoga.

In Surat Shabd Yoga, nirati is the dissolution of the mind in “Sound,”.  In terms of Layayoga – when the ego dissolves – “Japa is lost in Ajapa” – sound becomes soundless. Words no longer matter – for you feel the truth.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s begin with “citta vritti nirodhaya” – the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.

Modern Sahaja Yoga was popularised by Mataji Nirmala Devi (1923-2011). She taught a meditation technique which aims to enable self-realisation along with the experience of thoughtless awareness or mental silence. While I have no experience of this meditation technique, intellectual understanding of Mataji Nirmala Devi’s philosophy suggests that her idea of thoughtless awareness alluded to nirati and Sahaja-Siddhi.

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

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