(9) Atonement

AUM Namaste Life Is Yoga Groningen Jeffrey Deelman

The good stuff

Slowly your story’s coming to an end. It’s time for ‘the good stuff’. You wanted or had to go on an adventure. You made choices, were challenged. At this point you gradually transformed into a different person. You’re almost home, more richer. This is the moment just before a deep sigh of contentment or relief.


Two of the eight limbs of yoga are called Yama and Niyama. They are the survivalkit to help you on adventure you take upon. Guess that’s why these two are the first of the eight.


The first limb, yama, deals with one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. Yamas are universal practices that relate best to what we know as the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The five yamas are: Ahimsa: nonviolence | Satya: truthfulness | Asteya: nonstealing | Brahmacharya: continence | Aparigraha: noncovetousness


Niyama, the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly attending temple or church services, saying grace before meals, developing your own personal meditation practices, or making a habit of taking contemplative walks alone are all examples of niyamas in practice.

The five niyamas are: Saucha: cleanliness |Samtosa: contentment | Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities | Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self | Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God


They help you to make thruthfull choices. Choices that are close to your heart, although you ego isn’t always that happy about it. Look at is as a ration. According to your ego it is tasteless en barely eatable, but most important: it keeps you alive. Just like the nasty stinging sensation when you use jodium to clean a wound. Het hurts a bit, but it’s for a good cause.


In almost every play you see a character develop, making a transformation. The main character always get out of ‘battle’ different then when he started it. If you ask actors why they act, they often say they want to give something to the audience. A story of recognision, comfort or confrontation. In the end you as a member of the audience will leave the theatre as a richer person. So even you made a transformation too.


SOURCE: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/the-eight-limbs/

(8) Transformation

Life is yoga | Work in progress | Jeffrey Deelman


Sometimes we wriggle ourselves to get something done. To change our behavior or even the world around us. Nobody is perfect. Even I am fed up with the things I do. My stubbornness gets in the way big time sometimes. And there are moments where I can be really stubborn. Often leading to frustration in my surroundings but mostly to frustration of myself. Change those habbits for once. Try and be flexible from one moment to the next and try to listen to your surroundings. How do you do that? 

Just do it

Well, just do it. Just DO it! There is one but. It doesn’t happen from one moment to the next. We need time to get used to new behavior. Look at it as learning to walk. When you were young you also needed to practice that.

And if you don’t succeed the first time? Know that you are not a total failure. Yoga means ‘controlling the fluctuations of the mind’. It deserves practice. Practice makes perfect.


Actors do the same thing. Before a theatre group presend a play on stage, they hit the rehearsal studio. They seek the peace and quiet for a month or two, where they really focus on ‘constructing’ a character and constructing the story. Actors are trying, repeating, rehearsing consciously. Aiming at reproducing it in the end. It has become a habit to act like the character.


You also require the time and the rehearsal studio to practice. Find moments in your every day life to practice. Maybe there are situations where you could try a part of that behavior (onnoticed). Every time consciously trying that new behavior. It’s almost like meditation; focussing on one thing. And it almost touches pratyahara ‘abstention’. At the moment that you can separate behavior, thought and feeling, you’ll grow a little. You’ll transform to a richer and truer person.

You’re on the right path…



ASANA: Write down which poses frustrates the most. Why does it frustrate you? Maybe it seems weird, but the frustration is a gift. The frustration is trying to tell you something valuable. So when you start to feel you are blocked in doing the pose, ask yourself ‘where do I find the gift to success?’

(3) Chaos

Life Is Yoga - Hand - Samadhi

For the umpteenth time I start anew. Yet I can´t seem to get it done putting the yoga-meanings Niyama and Pratyahara together in a simple and understandable story. And above this I also want to explain to you how actors apply this in their job. That it could be something you would benefit from. I can´t seem to manage.


For weeks now I have been struggling. In what kind of shape should I mold it all? What do I want you to learn from it? A story of 500 words has become a chaos of 13 pages. Stop it. Wait. Take a distance. What´s in fact the essence of what I want to say? And be satisfied with less. Stop. Wait. Got it. This is exactly what Niyama en and Pratyahara is about.


ln, the eight branches of yoga is the second branch ? . Niyama which means as much as ´regulation´ gives you something to hold on to and consists of five virtues: purity, contentment, diligence, self-reflection and awareness of the divine.


Pratyāhāra is pulling back from the (inner) senses from their objects so as spirit (chitta ) remain themselves. Let me put it another way: thoughts determine your feelings. Your feelings determine how you behave in a given situation.

Zoom in

This is what actors do when they develop a character. They unravel – ontrafelen – the script with the aim to find as much information about the character as possible. They try out everything physically. This they try to do as pure as possible (niyama). They are constantly wondering whether they yet have the essence of the character (pratyahara). In addition, they use their body (behaviour) to transfer to the public certain feelings and thoughts.


Because I desperately wanted to tell everything, I wasn´t pure anymore. I was writing like crazy and I became more and more dissatisfied. My thoughts made ​​me feel frustrated and that was reflected in my behaviour: 13 pages full with chaos. And now? I stopped and asked myself what it was really about. That gave me the possibility to come the essence. There was peace in writing my story. Bingo!



Imagine you have to explain a blind person what someone looks when he is ´angry´, ‘happy’ or ‘sad’. Look at how someone physically changes. What happens to the shoulders and chest, where do the mouth corners go, what do you hear of someone’s breathing, etc.


Savasana. In this pose, you lie stretched on the floor. You try to be as relaxed as possible with eyes closed. Your thoughts will do their best to distract you. The trick is to consciously keep your focus on your breathing. If you are in Savasana , try to re-examine how the principles of Niyama and Pratyahara apply . Wait. Stop. Try. Do not expect perfection, it´s about trying and exploring.






(5) Threshold

Life is yoga | Threshold

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better”, by Samuel Beckett. This Irish (drama) writer and poet inspired my yoga practice. How often do we pursue perfection on our yoga mat and most of all in our daily lives?


What if everything was so simple? With a snap of the finger live the perfect life. Or instantly get a hang of that challenging yoga pose. Why is there always resistance? Why those thresholds? Many times I felt frustrated because things didn´t go the way I wanted them to.

Small steps

But wait … How did I learn to walk? Probably dozens of times I fell. Every time a small step. Raising myself at the bars of the baby crib. Slowly it went better. Was I frustrated? I was too young to remember it, but I think not. I was exploring. Without judgment seeking the essence of “walking.” With full attention and without judgment.


You cannot stand up without falling. But by falling, each time you come closer to the top. Slowly, but surely you climb higher and higher. Your positive attitude is the ‘ life – line ‘ in this climb to a great view: success.


Also actors do this. They try to figure out every time what makes a character unique. They try to make many mistakes so they know all the ins and outs of the character. And with this they come to the essence. They are protected by the safe walls of the rehearsal. They keep a life biography of the character that they play with all kinds of important information.


Maybe nice to know: Ganesha, is the god of travelers. He protects travelers on their way; their discovery. He throws thresholds; makes you stop and hold on to make choices. He is there to protect you, to give you the confidence that every choice is good. So have confidence, fall, get up and be a master in falling.

(7) Revelation

Courage | Life is yoga | Groningen | Jeffrey Deelman


Bronnie Ware, an Australian sister, wrote about her patients’revelations during the final stages of their life. These stories were collected in a book: ‘the top 5 remorses of dying’. On the first place was: “I wish that I’d have the courage to a true life. And not living the life others expect from me.” If you would be the writer of your life story, what would you like to look back on? Did you have the courage to life a true life?


First I’ll take you to the theatre. During a play the theatre makers will tell you a story. Frequently you’ll see the main character go head on with a problem and during the play go through a change. In the end the main character will come to new ideas.

Theatre makers try to do this as lifelike as possible. They’ll show you the story in its essence as true as possible. You could say that you could find Dharana (one focus point, concentration) and Yama (5 vows) here. The question is of course what could you learn from this. Here a few tips from theatre makers. :

1) Dharana

As a theatre maker you show what it is really about. What is the essence of the story that you want to tell? That question is something you could ask yourself too: what is it actually about? Don’t get distracted by other things, but stay true to yourself. Stay true to your story.

2) Yama

Theatre makers also keep their vows, they have a code. It’s the theatre makes job to tell the story the best way they can. Actors on the other hand, sometimes consciously cross those boundaries of the yama’s. This asks a lot of the actor. For instance digging deep down into their own emotions. Everything to tell the story.


Should you cross your boundaries? No, but investigate your boundaries. Ask yourself what ‘non-violence’ means to you. Are you (truly) sincere in your behavior and thoughts or are you feeding your ego? It’s okay to lose it sometimes; you’re discovering. Try to be an true, honest and courageous person.

Right and wrong

Have you noticed that I don’t use the words right and wrong? It’s not about good behavior or acting wrong. As far as I can say it’s about being true.


Practice: During your meditation a lot of thoughts run through your mind. Take a couple of minutes to follow these thoughts. How often do you have not-good/bad thoughts and how often do you have good/well done thoughts?

Do you have a lot of wrong thoughts? Try to postpone your prejudices. It’s just an observation. And all those wrong thoughts you can also turn around be repeating them into good thoughts.

Asana: With this exercise I want you to find the essence. What is it really about in this exercise?. Seated Forward Bend / PASCHIMOTTANASANA: What do you need to deepen the stretch in your hamstrings? Tilt from your pelvis and focus on keeping your spine straight. It isn’t about touching your shin with your nose.


Where do we go wrong? Eighty percent of people are visual learners. This means that they copy what they see another person is doing. Most of the times a yoga teacher is more flexible and can get his/her nose to their shins (while keeping their spine straight). With yoga we would like to emphasize that everyone is different. Skelet and flexibility differ from person to person.



Seated Forward Bend

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