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The body as a temple is a common metaphor within many spiritual traditions. In this book, author and yoga teacher Christina Sell delves into the "how" and "why" of this widely accepted comparison. With the freshness of a memoir, she uses her first visit to an extraordinary temple in southern India as a structure upon which to build a treatment of basic yoga principles. Beyond the ordinary aims of yoga as a means of stretching and strengthening, or even for being happier or more centered, My Body is a Temple is an instruction manual for dedicating oneself to a life of the spirit, in and through the vehicle of the human body. The temple of the Indian saint Yogi Ramsuratkumar (1918-2001) was still under construction when Christina entered for the first time in 2004. Yet, within it, she felt a deep peace, happiness and connection to ultimate "Sanctuary" within herself. Her own body was experienced as a receptacle for the saint's grace and an artifact of the Presence of God. "Could a life of yogic practice help me to abide more constantly at the shrine of my own heart?" she asked herself upon returning home. "Do the forms of yoga practice contain the necessary building blocks to construct a life that is a sanctuary, and a body that is a temple?" This book answers those questions. Students of yoga will appreciate that this metaphor embodies high ideals. The author argues that aiming toward this higher sphere elevates one's life, "unsticking" us from habitual, ordinary mind. Instead of simply performing the yogic postures (asanas) physically, she explains how to use exercise as prayer, affirmation, and an expression of Remembrance. My Body Is a Temple will encourage readers to listen to and honor the body; to enter more fully into their lives as they are, here and now; to see that each moment contains a Divine blueprint for success; and to reclaim the bricks, mortar, raw materials and energy, always already present, to build a great temple that provides refuge and sanctuary for thenselves, and inspiration for others. While the author's tradition is that of Anusara Yoga, the book is written for any hatha yoga aspirant or practitioner. It stands for traditional practices and ideals, without being rigid. My Body Is a Temple is a vital and realistic treatment about the process of human change and transformation.
Table of Contents
|Preface by the Author||p. xv|
|Building Plans: Put the Highest First||p. 1|
|The Highest First||p. 7|
|Intrinsic Goodness¨Looking for the Good||p. 33|
|The Body||p. 44|
|Asking the Right Questions||p. 52|
|Laying the Foundation||p. 63|
|Yamas and Niyamas||p. 73|
|The Conditions||p. 82|
|Scaffolding: Erecting and Maintaining Walls of Support||p. 109|
|The Dharma||p. 111|
|Spiritual Authority and the Guru||p. 121|
|The Kula||p. 136|
|Enthusiastic Discipline||p. 146|
|The Sanctuary: Expanding the Inner Life of the Temple||p. 155|
|Beauty and the Expanding of the Inner Life||p. 157|
|Asana as Sacred Art||p. 163|
|Pranayama as an Invocational Dance||p. 170|
|Mantra as Devotional Music: Changing Your Background Noise||p. 172|
|Worship: Life at the Shrine of the Heart||p. 177|
|Darshan of the Heart||p. 179|
|Outreach Ministry: Celebration through Service||p. 187|
|Service and Outreacn||p. 189|
|Appendix-The Tattvas||p. 195|
|Suggested Reading||p. 205|
|About the Author / Contact Information||p. 217|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
Many people come to yoga practice with an ordinary inspiration such as "I want to be more flexible” or "I need to calm down” or even "I want to get fit.” Others come for the more spiritual promises like inner peace, greater compassion and expanding one's consciousness. And while the exterior reasons vary person to person, most of the reasons boil down to, "I have a longing to know myself more fully. I want to experience a greater freedom and live from that knowledge. I think yoga can help me somehow.” In this book I do not concern myself so much with the overt reasons why people are practicing yoga because I see the different motivations as facets of the same diamond; as various manifestations of the longing to align with our intrinsic samkalpa (our intention or aim), to experience a greater freedom and self-knowledge and to act from that understanding. Wanting to do something good for ourselves, like yoga, aligns us with that fundamental part of us that is good and knows that we deserve the goodness of health, clarity, integrity and happiness. Yoga philosophy suggests that the body is a microcosm of greater spiritual forces. Therefore, wanting the health of the body is not divorced from spiritual intention. When we are building a temple of the body we want the structure to be sound, laid out according to a solid plan, and built with the best construction materials and technology available. Physical fitness, therefore, is not a lowly intention. Seen from this wider perspective, freedom for the body is freedom for the heart. Whatever gets (and keeps!) someone on the path of yoga is great because every motive points us back to our heart's intention (to our samkalpa) to experience a higher degree of freedom and self-knowledge. Because we are talking about a temple of the body, even the loftiest of intentions must be brought down to earth and brought to life in the sometimes messy and humbling domain of human experience. One of my counselors in college used to tell me all the time, "You know, Christina, you just can't get through life without getting some of it on you!” Even the most transcendent of aspirations will be made quite real in this endeavor of temple building. Building a temple of the body is as much an intention for practice as it is an outcome of our practice. This intention places our attention and efforts in a stream of ideals that has our highest possibility in mind.