Many start doing Yoga thinking its only some physical exercise, but as you progress realisation dawns upon you that it is far more profound that that. Yoga is a path of self-evolution, of self-discovery that can guide us to the universal spirit and connect us with the divine being.
Like a quote from William Blake reads, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.” Guiding us further on this path of discovering more about oneself with yoga, is Davide Ghiottone, an Italian yoga practitioner (since 1990) and teacher of Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga. We thought of asking him more on Yoga, breathing, his Gurus and his inspiration behind learning this ancient Indian science.
What got you interested in learning Yoga?
After I read the book on Hatha Yoga by Theos Bernard in 1989 awakened my curiosity, and it was my first book on the subject. Seeing the poses sparked a burning fire in me of learning the great skill to do those asanas. My natural flexibility and practice of karate and Jujitsu also supported in practicing yoga.
How would you define Yoga?
Yoga is a science for discovering of what we really are. To know this, we must begin to practice yoga in all its form. There are many ways – Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion, because without devotion to our body, our mind, our spirit or for all that we desire, there is no life. At first, the devotion is only for our health or for our benefits, but in time we develop real devotion for the supreme mind or spirit and then begin doing Bhakti.
There is Jnana yoga or path of knowledge, because without knowledge of what we are, there is no yoga. To begin, we have to know what is this consciousness, this mind, body, and the universe. As we delve deeper, we get better understanding of the Supreme Spirit or Shiva or the Supreme Consciousness, that is our only and real support of life and breath.
Another type is Raja yoga or yoga of the mind. In this we come in contact with our three minds: subconsciousness, consciousness and super-consciousness. On this path, which can be dangerous, we need a real master, the gùru, who will help us find a correct navigation to our goal.
Then there is the science of Ashtanga Yoga that composes 8 limbs of yoga, and Hatha yoga is the branch that study the physical aspect with àsanas and pranayama and breath being the link that connects the physical and spiritual.
When did you decide to focus on learning/practicing yoga? Where did you learn and which form?
My decision to focus on learning yoga matured with time. It started during my practice of meditation with the technique of Pratyahara that I learnt from my master Dada Muktatmananda of Ananda marga in 1990. Ananda Marga is the way of Ashtanga Yoga developed by the great master and guru Shri Anandamurti.
A simple technique called Isvara Pranidhana (means that if we are able to completely surrender our individual ego identities to our own higher self we will attain the identity of God) – yoga developed automatically in my spirit.
While I started doing asanas in August 1990 with my master Maurilio Spagnoletti, a teacher of Integral yoga. He is a very skilled master and a true yogi that practices all the branches of Hatha yoga. I’ve learned from him the basic asanas and pranayama, and I practice this with Jujitsu.
Yoga is developing in me with each moment, in every breath that I take. In 2007, I began the Pattabhi Jois method of Ashtanga yoga with his great student Pierpaolo Altini. I do many stages of asanas with various masters, and now I comprehend that the master is always within me, in my intuition and knowledge of my body.
What difference has Yoga made in your life – spiritually, physically and mentally – in all these years?
The difference is evident in my lifestyle because from my meditation and contemplation, I’ve learned the reality of polarity and vibration in all that is in life. With time my life has changed, physically I’ve learned to balance, in terms of eating, sex, sleeping, working, and all movement that I do with my body.
I’ve also developed an agile, skilled, strong body with asana and pranayama, but in reality, body and mind are one and the same. My master taught me that our spirit is the higher mind the higher self, our middle self is our conscious mind that is our personality, and our low self is our body.
What is the importance of breathing in yoga?
Breath in yoga is the foundation for a good practice because breath is life and without coordination of breath and movement, called Viniyasa, there is no yoga. We must know that breath and thought have the same root in the supreme spirit, known as Prana, without prana there is no life.
Franz Bardon, the great teacher of Hermetics, taught about real breathing and the link between our breath, body and the astral matrix, he was a true yogi master. Few more great masters in this were Charles Leadbeater and Helena Blavatsky…
Do you chant mantras as well?
Mantras are words and vibration of the words. Vibration is life and frequency, our breath is a mantra. Let’s take the word, ‘Love’, this can be a mantra if we repeat it with full consciousness and its implanted in our subconscious mind.
Mantra in Sanskrit has the power in connection with those letters and how these letters vibrate and how much concentration of will and mind is behind them. We are always in connection with other human beings and beings in other plane of existence. Yes, I chant mantra every day because my recitation is always a prayer for humanity, for all being, for all my brothers. We are all connected like the computer is connected with the net. The universal mind is the great net and individual PCs are the individual mind of humans, animals, plants and all others being. The repetition of a mantra connects us with the thought currant of the supreme spirit, but there are mantras with bad powers as well.
How does one progress on this path of learning, in terms of asanas, pranayama?
One can progress on this path by purification of the emotional body with yama (social ethics) and niyama (personal practices), purification of the physical body with àsanas, purification of subtle body with pranayama and prathayara breath exercises and restriction of physical and subtle senses. Then move on to purification of the mind with dharana and dhyana (concentration and meditation).
In your opinion, what do you think of all the new forms of yoga – hot yoga, power yoga, etc., is it diluting the true essence of yoga?
There are many distortion of yoga practices – there are many styles in Hatha yoga like Bikram yoga, Iyengar yoga, Power yoga, Baptiste yoga. All of us can begin a new style, but is only a method and really yoga is not just physical àsanas, thats only a branch of yoga. Now many gurus are perverting this great science with their ego, but as I’ve always it is not important. What is really important is the increasing awareness of this spiritual science all over the world. In this time, the collective consciousness is in continual awakening and yoga is playing its great part. Namastè to all!
Hope this article serves as an inspiration to seek a more balanced living. No better than learning and practicing this divine process of finding oneself and oneness!