The Tibetan Book of Yoga by Geshe Michael Roach

My daughter and I worked through all of the exercises in The Tibetan Book of Yoga. I hadn’t realized there was a Tibetan Yoga so this was all new to me. Tibetan Heart Yoga comes from the Gelukpa tradition of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet. I don’t think this is the actual practice, but one modified by Geshe Michael. I was able to follow it and could easily imagine incorporating this into my day – so at least it is accessible to true beginners.

Geshe Michael Roach claims that you can piggy back this yoga on any yoga you are learning – that any instructor can help you perfect the poses. My daughter takes yoga but I haven’t done yoga in years! This may have inspired me to take it up again.

The Diamond Mountain teachers are a group of teachers from the United States, Ireland, Canada and Australia who have extensively studied the ancient wisdom traditions of Tibet and India with the great masters.

The write up on Geshe Michael Roach says he is the first American to complete the twenty-year course in a traditional monastery and earn the title of “Geshe,” or Master of Buddhism. He is the founder of the Asian Classics Input Project, which is probably the world’s largest database of ancient Asian manuscipts, and the author of several internationally selling popular books on Eastern Spirituality. He is a translator of Sanskrit and Tibetan and recently completed a three-year deep meditation retreat in the Arizona desert.

A few ineresting points I want to hold onto:

  • We are are supposed to do yoga facing the east because that is the direction in which we turn as we stand on the Earth. West refers to our back.
  • I liked this: “…this tidiness needs to happen on a wider scale if you ever hope to find the kind of concentration that we’re sending others here. That’s because our minds are like a computer – they only have a certain capacity to store things, and no more. If I ask you how many pairs of shoes you have, or how many knickknacks scattered around your house, your mind immediately begins calling up pictures of each one of them. This demonstrates how cluttered our minds really are: Some old pair of tennis shoes that we never wear is taking up precious space in our minds. And if that seat is occupied when our next great idea needs a place to sit down, we might lose it altogether.

The same thing applies to our relationships, and the books we read, and the news we choose to listen to. The capacity of the mind is not infinite. Relating to a hundred objects on a very shallow level prevents you from going deeply into one or two. And something happens to the inner winds when we do go deep: The flow begins to quiet down and clean up.

  • All-Day Yoga is called Chulam Neljor and some of the greatest descriptions of it are found in the writings of a master called Quicksilver Dharma Bhadra (1772-1851) and in works by Dechen Nyingpo (1989-1941), the teacher of the His Holiness the current Dalai Lama.
  • It’s a good idea to take one day off a week as a break and to start your practice at the same time every day. Your body will respond to this rhythm.
  • It is best to practice yoga on an empty stomach – try not to eat anything 3 hours before practice.
  • It is very important to be steady. You can’t expect great results if you work very hard for a few days a week and then do nothing on the other days. Better a steady, modest effort every day.
  • Give each session a good half hour and don’t try to rush it or shorten it.
  • It is important to stay warm during the practice. Roach recommends a standard “sticky” mat with a traditional cotton mat placed over it to prevent the plastic from coming into direct contact with your skin.
  • It is good to wear clothes that are entirely made of natural fibers like cotton or wool because it further prevents the plastic from coming into direct contact with your skin.