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 Asanas - Postures and Physical Culture
 Crowley's hardcore approach to Yoga
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Rumighoul

11 Posts

Posted - Dec 13 2009 :  12:27:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit Rumighoul's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
Hi there,
I've a question which may belong in another part of this forum, but it came up while browsing the Asanas portion which is why I'm posting here, hope is ok.

I've been doing the basic AYP routine with my partner for 6 months now (asana, meditation and spinal breathing twice a day)and am starting to get steady results. I'm beginning to feel a Bhakti-like sense that I'm on the right path and that I will keep going. I have no desire to stop. I may post again on my initial experiences but I first wanted to see if anyone can respond to the following, as it's been on my mind.

I have spent a good many years reading and reading many different spiritual books and trying this and that, but i primarily cut my teeth on the writings of Robert Anton Wilson, different writers on Western Magick, Timothy Leary, Christopher Hyatt and others. Figuring very centrally in the above writers' ideas and approaches are those of Aleister Crowley - an individual i'm alternately fascinated and infuriated by.

Basically, as filtered by the late Robert Anton Wilson's presentation of the essence of what Crowely was about, i have come to love and appreciate Crowley's philosophical and scientific approach to both Yoga and Magick, but I'm not sure about his practical instructions in anything. Reading his instructions on Yoga for instance his tone is typically maniacal and oppressive, taking the hardline on everything -the practice of Asana as he describes it involves choosing one posture and staying in it for hours at a time until it is completely "conquered". As shown here http://sacred-texts.com/oto/aba/aba1.htm (scroll down to Asana chapter, though the same tone prevails throughout with Mantrayoga and Pranayama)

By contrast the AYP approach has been a godsend for me I think as the gentle and self-paced multi-platform approach is much more practical and also appeals to the part of me raised on thinking for oneself and avoiding religious or other dogma.

I was just wondering could anyone enlighten me on the differences in these two styles and philosophies of Yoga. Are they from different 'schools'? Are they just two different ways of achieving the same goal? Is Crowley narrow-minded in his approach to Yoga?
The reason I ask is my first exposure to the idea of the 8-limbs of yoga was through reading Crowley (prior to that I had thought it was just stretching), but I never got around to practicing it the way he describes. However the concepts stayed with me, and i'd be interested to connect the dots between such different takes on the same body of practices. I know Crowley isn't the only one to approach Yoga this way.

How is it for instance that in AYP and many other approaches, the practice of Asana means going through many different postures holding each for a short time while 'keeping comfort well in hand', but then there's this other method of holding just one posture until the nervous system passes through 'hell' with it and comes out the other side in comfort?

What gives?

Sorry for the jumbled query, I can elaborate more what I mean.

Any responses would be most welcome, though preferably from those familiar with the authors I site or who don't have a hostility to Crowley, he still seems to be very controversial depending on what information has been absorbed about him.
Rumighoul

adamantclearlight

USA
410 Posts

Posted - Dec 13 2009 :  12:42:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit adamantclearlight's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
What gives is that the most realized masters, i.e., the Buddha, have taken a middle path where physical self-mortification is abandoned. You are welcome to sit in one pose until the pain is unbearable. See how that works for you. Eventually, you will take the middle-path of wisdom.

Adamant
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Rumighoul

11 Posts

Posted - Dec 13 2009 :  12:56:57 PM  Show Profile  Visit Rumighoul's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi adamant,
Thanks for replying. I think I understand you in principle and the 'middle way' approach is implied in my post, as I said I find Crowley's approach somewhat oppressive sounding.

But in practice I mean I've several times come across the actual definition of Asana as something like
"the yogic technique of holding one posture for long
periods of time every day" - and this seems to be Crowley's interpretation of Patanjali for instance.

This is on the surface very different from what goes for Asana practice in AYP and even most ordinary Yoga classes. Is the above definition of Asana a sort of
fundamentalist understanding?
Rumighoul
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Christi

United Kingdom
3449 Posts

Posted - Dec 13 2009 :  1:39:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Rumighoul,

I don't know anything about Crowley, but in the Buddhist tradition that I often practice in we do something called "surrender sitting". With surrender sitting you adopt one asana (a seated one, as the name implies) and you remain in that position for the duration of the sitting. During the meditation you don't move any part of your body or open your eyes, and the sittings usually last between one hour and three hours, although they can last as long as eight hours.

It may sound like an extremist approach, but people don't begin surrender sittings until they are able to sit comfortably for the duration of the practice. In practice it is an amazing form of yoga.

Christi
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Etherfish

USA
3615 Posts

Posted - Dec 13 2009 :  3:53:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Etherfish's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Welcome Rumighoul,
Funny you would call Crowley controversial while mentioning Robert Anton Wilson in passing! Ha!
Years ago I was friends with a guy who was following Crowley, and is quite a well known author now in those circles.

Those paths are all from a more dark side than AYP. It is my feeling that people following those things had a strong desire for spirituality and yet could see the hypocracy and ineffectiveness of prevalent religions. So they decided that since the religions were full of corruption, that the opposite may be full of truth. They seemed to me to depend heavily on the human will as a driving force.
The will IS quite powerful, and magical things can be done, been there, but I think it doesn't lead to enlightenment directly. It can teach you a lot about the illusiveness of reality, but the will is bound so tightly with the ego that it leads you astray. This path is important for a lot of us to teach us that when yoga says God, it has nothing to do with what many western religions say.

Staying in one asana for a long time does force things to happen. There is a western guy, Bob Cooley who has written about that from a non-yoga point of view. He was seeking flexibility and noticed that prolonged stretches had a whole class experiencing similar emotions, different stretches equating to different emotions and chakras.

There are many ways to force things in yoga. Some people do prolonged pranayama and get immediate profound results and think they have found the motherlode! But these things have enormous side effects. They often do the equivalent of dumping energy into one chakra, and unbalance your energy like crazy.
Yogani writes about just "driving the car" (your body) and not fooling around under the hood (messing with chakras, etc.). The reason is that the body has built in mechanisms for clearing out obstructions in the nervous system, and if we just let the body do it's thing, we don't have to worry about bad side effects from tweaking the wrong thing.
Back in Crowley's day spiritual energy was weaker, and they would try more and more radical things just to try and feel some effect.
But the energy is so strong now, that just twice daily meditation has a powerful effect on most people! Then we can add in other practices as mentioned in the lessons and books, and no forcing is necessary.
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adamantclearlight

USA
410 Posts

Posted - Dec 13 2009 :  10:46:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit adamantclearlight's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Rumighoul

Hi adamant,
Thanks for replying. I think I understand you in principle and the 'middle way' approach is implied in my post, as I said I find Crowley's approach somewhat oppressive sounding.

But in practice I mean I've several times come across the actual definition of Asana as something like
"the yogic technique of holding one posture for long
periods of time every day" - and this seems to be Crowley's interpretation of Patanjali for instance.

This is on the surface very different from what goes for Asana practice in AYP and even most ordinary Yoga classes. Is the above definition of Asana a sort of
fundamentalist understanding?
Rumighoul



Asana means "posture." It doesn't mean hold the posture all day until you feel like screaming. There are as many different views as there are teachers and students. Check your own experience to know the truth.

Adamant

Edited by - adamantclearlight on Dec 13 2009 10:57:31 PM
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Scott

USA
969 Posts

Posted - Dec 13 2009 :  11:17:41 PM  Show Profile  Visit Scott's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Christi,

What Buddhist tradition is that? I began the spiritual path doing that exact practice. It came to me somewhat intuitively, after reading Da Mo's parable of the caged bird.

It's a legit practice. Not easy.
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Kirtanman

USA
1651 Posts

Posted - Dec 13 2009 :  11:39:38 PM  Show Profile  Visit Kirtanman's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply

Hi Rumighoul,

Cool username ....!!

Welcome to the AYP Forum!

Crowley is kind of a genius nutcase ..... and legitimately both, in places.

I've found his value is in connecting the dots, with respect to certain correspondences between systems; his understanding of some of the nuances of Kabbalah runs pretty deep.

He's definitely *not* the guy to learn anything related to yoga from, though (unless you feel a super-strong inner draw to do so ... but it doesn't sound like you do).

He simply didn't have enough immersion in yogic systems to be an authority; it was tough for a European to, in those days, unless he or she lived in India, which I don't think Crowley did.

And, much of the time, it's hard to tell if he's joking, high on drugs, or both ... or being serious ........... and he did all of the above intentionally. Kind of a Zen Crazy approach ... one with very limited appeal to, or benefit for, most people.

I hope this helps.

Wholeheartedly,

Kirtanman


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Richard

United Kingdom
857 Posts

Posted - Dec 14 2009 :  05:52:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Crowley...Genius, Nut case? Kirtanman is right he was a large portion of both. He loved notoriety, he loved to be infamous.

There are some real jems in his work but you have to read between the lines all the time.
His approach to Yoga was extreme to say the least. At his retreats at Cefalu Italy he made his neophytes cut there arms with a razor every time they said the word "I" to destroy there ego's (amazing considering the size of his) I think at least one of them died of blood poisoning.

His sense of humer was also extreme, at the time it was very cool in modern terms to have something to do with Crowley so he had a steady stream of bright young things from society visiting him, he would welcome them with a plate of small cakes that they were obliged to eat.

The cakes were (unknown to them) made of a mixture of his semen menstrual blood and goats poo. His system is not for the feint hearted.
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Etherfish

USA
3615 Posts

Posted - Dec 14 2009 :  07:39:16 AM  Show Profile  Visit Etherfish's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Part of Crowley's notoriety was that he was well known for satan worship, and so he was feared and looked down upon by religious people. I don't think that is true, but I am sure he enjoyed that kind of fame.

Why would somebody want to stay in a sauna for so long anyway?
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adamantclearlight

USA
410 Posts

Posted - Dec 14 2009 :  11:30:18 AM  Show Profile  Visit adamantclearlight's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Christi

Hi Rumighoul,

I don't know anything about Crowley, but in the Buddhist tradition that I often practice in we do something called "surrender sitting". With surrender sitting you adopt one asana (a seated one, as the name implies) and you remain in that position for the duration of the sitting. During the meditation you don't move any part of your body or open your eyes, and the sittings usually last between one hour and three hours, although they can last as long as eight hours.

It may sound like an extremist approach, but people don't begin surrender sittings until they are able to sit comfortably for the duration of the practice. In practice it is an amazing form of yoga.

Christi



In that case, I'm for this. 1-3 hours is nothing. 8 hours starts to hurt.

Adamant
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Richard

United Kingdom
857 Posts

Posted - Dec 14 2009 :  12:24:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Part of Crowley's notoriety was that he was well known for satan worship, and so he was feared and looked down upon by religious people. I don't think that is true, but I am sure he enjoyed that kind of fame.


Whatever he was Crowley was not a Satanist this came from his feud with Lord Beaverbrook a newspaper publisher and from his habit of giving himself the number of the beast 666 which had a much deeper meaning.

This discussion has moved away from Asana somewhat so I think if anyone wishes to continue, it should be moved to other systems under the heading Crowley.
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Etherfish

USA
3615 Posts

Posted - Dec 14 2009 :  6:40:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit Etherfish's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
talk about superstition - 666 is not really the number of the beast!
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Scott

USA
969 Posts

Posted - Dec 14 2009 :  8:11:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit Scott's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
In that case, I'm for this. 1-3 hours is nothing. 8 hours starts to hurt.


The only purpose of this type of yoga is to push you past your threshold. If 3 hours is relatively easy, then you need to pay more attention so that you're making less subtle movements, and also extend the time period. The awareness should be on the sensations of the body for every second. It's best done by sitting until you gain enlightenment, and not getting up until it comes, no matter what happens...even death.

Otherwise, there is no point in practicing this.
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Etherfish

USA
3615 Posts

Posted - Dec 15 2009 :  08:07:45 AM  Show Profile  Visit Etherfish's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I have a friend who does this; 6, 8 hours; all weekend, then week long retreats. Using buddhist "sitting" though, not AYP methods or asanas. She says when you feel uncomfortable to watch that feeling. That part is powerful advice, but the method is not for me.
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Rumighoul

11 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2009 :  09:10:27 AM  Show Profile  Visit Rumighoul's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the varied and interesting reponses everyone. It's good to know these questions can be explored on the site.

@Kirtanman
"He's definitely *not* the guy to learn anything related to yoga from, though (unless you feel a super-strong inner draw to do so ... but it doesn't sound like you do)."

Well that's it I feel an inner draw to elements of his philosophy and the sparks that are raised there, but not at all really to his practical apporoach, as you noticed

@Etherfish
Robert Anton Wilson was the guy responsible for getting me into all of this in first place, i've spent so long absorbing his perspective that it stopped seeming controversial to me at least ; however some of his ideas seem less all-encompassing to me now, I still think he's awesome but like with Crowley it's been good for me to move away from that zen-anarchic approach to spirituality and have a daily practice.
I'd be interested to hear more of how you'd define the 'dark' side of things you'd class Crowley's stuff in , and how you mean spiritual energy to have been weaker in his period.
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Etherfish

USA
3615 Posts

Posted - Dec 17 2009 :  10:13:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Etherfish's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Spiritual energy is constantly increasing now. Therefore is was weaker anytime in the past. You will notice (especially here!) people reporting all kinds of spiritual progress signs. I believe there are many more than there were 20 years ago. So that makes it easier for people to make progress.

What I meant by the "dark side" is usually people who mislead and deceive others for their own agenda. Systems that are driven by the ego. Often dark people don't know they are dark because they deceive themselves also.
An example would be someone who sits around and takes no action, but complains about the bad people in the world. Then they pray to win the lottery so they can travel around the world and "help people".
I'm not sure if Crowley was this kind of dark person or not. But I have known people who were into him who were.
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thimus

53 Posts

Posted - Dec 19 2009 :  09:09:40 AM  Show Profile  Visit thimus's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
"The Equinox" is now on the internet :

The Equinox vol.1 nr.7,p.59 Liber RV.On page 66 , 16.Eleventh practice..... and turning back his tongue as if to swallow it. .... (funny thing : notice the three sixes )

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Chiron

Russia
395 Posts

Posted - Jun 17 2010 :  02:25:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Rumighoul

How is it for instance that in AYP and many other approaches, the practice of Asana means going through many different postures holding each for a short time while 'keeping comfort well in hand', but then there's this other method of holding just one posture until the nervous system passes through 'hell' with it and comes out the other side in comfort?

What gives?




How about you try the AYP approach and I will try Crowley's with full padmasana, and in a few years we'll compare notes? :)
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Victor

USA
910 Posts

Posted - Jun 17 2010 :  7:21:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I practice AYP with full padmasana and it works for me
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Chiron

Russia
395 Posts

Posted - Jun 18 2010 :  01:25:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Me too, I was just referring to the asana part of the teaching. What will give you the most physical comfort in your meditation asana, lots of different postures practiced moderately for short periods of time or just the one meditation posture practiced to the limits of one's willpower?
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Victor

USA
910 Posts

Posted - Jun 18 2010 :  3:17:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
In my experience its both. Do different postures for health and training, but then do the one for depth in meditation practice regularly.
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ramandra

United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - Dec 23 2012 :  5:16:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Rumighoul

Hi there,
I've a question which may belong in another part of this forum, but it came up while browsing the Asanas portion which is why I'm posting here, hope is ok.

I have spent a good many years reading and reading many different spiritual books and trying this and that, but i primarily cut my teeth on the writings of Robert Anton Wilson, different writers on Western Magick, Timothy Leary, Christopher Hyatt and others. Figuring very centrally in the above writers' ideas and approaches are those of Aleister Crowley - an individual i'm alternately fascinated and infuriated by.



Firstly, like yourself, I am not sure if this is the right place to post. So bear with me, or if the mods want to move or delete my post, so be it.

I came on here after searching for a yoga discussion forum that was above the humdrum or very basic. Many of the posts indicate famliarity with advanced practices. I did not realise until I had subscribed that it was 'Advances Yoga Practices' with capitals rather than just advanced yoga practices. I have no wish to tread on anyone's toes!

But I rummaged around a bit to find a thread where I might contribute something and found this one. I have studied under the thelemic (Crowley) system for 33 years. I am saying this to indicate where I am coming from, not to claim any special authority.

The relevant works in thelema are Yoga and Magick (generally); Liber E (for the basic instructions on Asana, Pranayama and Dharana), and Liber RV (for more on pranayama). Various people including Wilson were influenced by Crowley but their works are not the same.

Hard core? Yes. For asana, the minimum practice is one hour a day, practiced for one year. Most people do not get anything remarkable in that time, but it is training.

A comparison might be an unknown cross-country obstacle course. You have two people: an army marine and an enthusiastic hobbyist. Which will do better?

Asana for health is a very different area to asana for spiritual work. A variety of postures might be good for the former, and many schools teach them. But it is the ability of the mind to be able to ignore the body during meditation that is key. If you have trained relentlessly, it is easy-peasy. If you have not, the mind tends to be distracted with the task of 'achieving' asana (much as in the preliminary one-hour training). (The daily routine without fail also trains the subconscious mind.)

Often during meditation nothing remarkable happens. But from my own experience, when something does happen, it has usually been past the 40 minute mark. This seems to be when the 'barrier' is passed.

AYP (from the little I understand) is interested in scientific method. In this much, it has everything in common with thelemic systems.

For a thelemic - but more mystical and easy going practice, see 'The Training of the Mind' (from the Equinox also, but you can find a version of most of these online if you cannot obtain originals).

Kindest regards

Edited by - ramandra on Dec 23 2012 5:48:09 PM
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ramandra

United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - Dec 23 2012 :  6:00:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Christi


I don't know anything about Crowley, but in the Buddhist tradition that I often practice in we do something called "surrender sitting". With surrender sitting you adopt one asana (a seated one, as the name implies) and you remain in that position for the duration of the sitting. During the meditation you don't move any part of your body or open your eyes, and the sittings usually last between one hour and three hours, although they can last as long as eight hours.

It may sound like an extremist approach, but people don't begin surrender sittings until they are able to sit comfortably for the duration of the practice. In practice it is an amazing form of yoga.

Christi


Yes I agree with you there. A lot of energy can be generated by this. Several schools seem aware of it, such as the yogi Bhajan school. Certainly it appplies in thelema (Crowley). By the way, Crowley trained in Buddhism and yoga under Ananda Metteyya, who brought Buddhism to the UK. His (Crowley's) system eventually differed from Buddhism in certain important respects, largely rejecting Buddhism as outdated.
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