Tibetan Yoga of Movement: The Art and Practice of Yantra Yoga

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Reviewer Namta Gupta: Namta is a senior journalist based in New Delhi, India and has been covering news in all its form for past 5 years. An MA in English and Human Rights she is an avid reader and loves every piece of fiction and non-fiction that she can lay her hands on. Yoga is entrenched in Asian culture but even Western countries have now been seduced by this essentially Eastern import.

Tibetan Yoga of Movement: The Art and Practice of Yantra Yoga - PDF Drive

There are several variations of Yoga that are spread in different nooks and corners of the continent of Asia. Even India, where the birth of Yoga actually took place, has around 25 variations! A reading of the book proves that it is comprehensive in all aspects and has been written with precision. And this is no surprise because a Yoga practitioner himself has penned this book to teach the nuance of this practice.

Hence, the practical aspects have been addressed pretty well; it was expected and it has been delivered! The best part of the book is the usage of pictures to illustrate the movements. And no it is not just the final postures that have found a place in the book; in fact right from warm ups to preliminary positions have been pictorially represented for the benefit of the end user.

Add to it a very crisp written account of the precautions, warm-up exercises and the benefits that one would derive and the book is a wonderful guide for Yoga lovers. In the s he was invited to teach in Italy. During his career he wrote many books on Tibetan culture and Dzogchen Buddhism. He is the founder of two nonprofit organizations including the Shang Shung Institute for Tibetan Studies, which is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture. Born and raised in Italy, Fabio Andrico is an internationally recognized expert in the unique tradition of Tibetan yoga known as yantra yoga.

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Currently a hatha and yantra yoga instructor and teacher trainer, he studied directly under Tibetan scholar and Dzogchen master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. The form known as Yantra Yoga has movements in all a number considered auspicious because it echoes the canonical texts of the Buddha.

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Yantra Yoga is one of the few trul-khor practices of the Buddhist tradition that authorized teachers will transmit, at least in part, to students who are not engaged in the traditional three-year retreat process, and who have not completed a lengthy series of prostrations, meditations, and mantras. The Eight Movements of Yantra Yoga , a recently released videotape from Snow Lion Publications, represents a remarkable breakthrough in making Tibetan movement practice universally available.

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Fabio Andrico, also of Italy, is the tape's instructor; originally a student of hatha yoga, as were many trul-khor practitioners, he met Norbu Rinpoche in When asked to compare trul-khor to hatha yoga, Andrico notes that Tibetan yogas vary; just as there is a wide range of schools and traditions in hatha yoga, the same is true in the lineage-specific forms of trul-khor. In Yantra Yoga, you do not stay in a position for a long time—the position is only a moment in the sequence of movement, ruled by the rhythm of the breathing and the application of one of the five kinds of breath retention.

Movement is more important. For example, in order to get into an asana, breathing and movement are linked and applied gradually.

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  • The [hatha yoga] movement is also limited by time, which is divided into periods consisting of four beats each: a period to get into the position, a certain period to remain in the position, and then a period to finish the position. Everything is related in Yantra Yoga. The overall movement is important, not only the asana. This is a very important point. He agrees that the focus on breath is a primary point of difference between Yantra Yoga and hatha yoga as it's taught today in the West.

    The Trul-Khor taught by Chaoul-Reich shares this emphasis on movement and breath. Some say that because of its forceful nature, Trul-Khor is similar to what is called Kundalini Yoga in the West," he adds. Legend says that a British explorer learned them in a Himalayan monastery from Tibetan monks who were living in good health far beyond normal lifespans.

    Skeptics say that no Tibetan has ever recognized these practices as authentically Tibetan, however beneficial they may be. Yoga teacher Chris Kilham, whose book The Five Tibetans Healing Arts Press, has contributed to the practice's current popularity, makes no claims of certainty about the series' origins. As the story has it, they were shared by Tibetan lamas; beyond that I know nothing of their history.

    Personally, I think these exercises are most likely Tibetan in origin. The issue at hand, though, is not the lineage of the Five Tibetans. The point is [their] immense potential value for those who will clear 10 minutes a day to practice. Kilham believes the Five Rites have "the tang of Tibet," and others agree that there are similarities to Tibetan yogas. Furthermore, the Five Rites are potent in their intensity.

    Tibetan Yoga of Movement: The Art and Practice of Yantra Yoga

    There's an unbroken lineage," Katz says. This may not be the case with some hatha yoga traditions, where there are various interpretations. I think the lineage in this particular tradition is very strong. Chaoul-Reich echoes this reflection on the adaptation of hatha yoga traditions, agreeing that teachers of Tibetan yoga must weigh the risks of compromising tradition against the risks of losing these practices altogether if they are not taught more widely.

    Today we even see hatha yoga courses in gyms which seem to be just stretching exercises," Chaoul-Reich says. I believe it's a challenge, too, to be able to instruct without corrupting the teachings, yet acknowledging the audience. If he feels it's more important that it be practiced more accurately by a very few, he'll make the call. All the Tibetan teachers want to make sure these traditions are not lost, and so would like people to practice.

    At the same time, if it's not practiced as accurately as they would like, they have a strong feeling it's not worth it.

    If it seems startling that any tradition could remain so mysterious and little-known today, when virtually every culture and every corner of the world has been explored, it may reflect the power that these practices are said to have. As mentioned above, early Western visitors to Tibet reported yogis with phenomenal, almost unbelievable, powers.

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    While trul-khor practices may have been only a small part of the spiritual landscape—and lifetime devotion—that made these feats possible, the movements are nonetheless considered to be powerful. While holding unlimited potential for healing and balancing the body, mind, and spirit, these movements were and are also considered possibly dangerous to those who use them recklessly or without adequate instruction. In the West, however, the current level of teachings available will not take students to dangerous extremes. Theoretically it's possible to develop these powers through the practice of trul-khor and, in particular, the "unification of the sun and moon," Katz says.

    Someone who was to devote his life, in retreat, to these practices could develop these kinds of capacities," Katz adds. Most Westerners are, instead, at what Katz calls a "spiritual beginner" level, which limits our capacity for such extraordinary feats. Moreover, trul-khor can have negative consequences if performed improperly or with arrogance.