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Journal Post

I remember seeing Dr. Masaru Emoto's incredible images of water molecules several years ago. As the rain finally falls on our farm after several weeks of drought, I am so appreciative of the water. It is as if everything breathes a sigh of relief. One of my teachers, pauses during workshops to give thanks as she takes a sip of water as if it is the most precious thing in the world. And it is! Our access to clean air and clean water are basic human rights and yet millions of people live without access to clean drinking water.
"Good things come to those who wait, but often as a result of those who hustle."
~ A Taste of China Fortune Cookie
Two weeks of gratitude and how do I feel? In a word, Grateful. It has had a profound impact on my overall state of mind. It is like when you go to your mat on those weeks where it feels like going to your mat is the only thing going well. You are just so thankful for your practice or the respite from a busy day. My morning page commitment has been like this. It puts me in a good mood immediately because I know I am eventually going to be grateful. I have also been able to use this practice to help some of my friends who are having a difficult day. I recommend focusing on what is good and precious in their lives instead of the impermanent situation in which they have found themselves.
For the last nine months, I have taken an herbal medicine course with Sacred Plant Traditions under the tutelage of Kathleen Maier. Herbal Medicine combines so many of interests in health, healing, botany, language and beauty. This weekend I am finishing my final project for the course and I am thankful for the opportunity to share what I have learned. First and foremost, I have been introduced to the plants ( most of which grow in my backyard ) and the energetics of the plants. I have also learned how to preserve the plants through tinctures, teas, salves, oils, honeys and vinegars.
Today I am blessed with little ones. First by my black cat, Deva, who loves to snuggle with me every morning while I write my morning pages. I am so appreciative of her love that I take what I can get. On Fridays, I walk with my friend Erika and her blossoming 3 month old, Elsie. The leaves are still turning colors since we continue to have warm days. We walk a perfect one-hour loop on the Rockfish ValleyTrail. And it is fun to watch Elsie grow so quickly every week.
We started iHanuman as an independent media company providing enriching and uplifting high-quality content on the ancient science and art of yoga. There is enough that we encounter on a day-to-day basis that is confrontational and rajasic. iHanuman aims to be a voice that rises through the crowds helping to raise the vibration of the planet. And we appreciate everyone who listens and participates in this little dream of ours. We are so grateful for all of the teachers who contribute and for all of the students who listen, comment, subscribe, and download. Each interaction is a karmic exchange which gives us more energy. So Thank YOU from the bottom of our hearts for helping to build the bridge with iHanuman.
Last night I listened to an interview and meditation with Susan Piver. And it made me grateful for people who are walking a peaceful path. This is not necessarily the path of least resistance, but a commitment to listen to your own truth while being compassionate to another's. In Buddhism, All Life Is Suffering. But I have been working with one of the Yoga Sutras that was introduced to me by Judith Lasater and was repeated this past weekend in John Schumacher's workshop.
I have decided over the past few years to do a better job of scheduling around my moon time. Of course, there is always work to be done that cannot be avoided, but perhaps it can be postponed to a more appropriate time. In many ways, I have no other choice, as I have fairly painful menstrual cycles, so I am forced to stay present with them. Many of my wise elder female teachers speak about this time not only as a preparation for conceiving and motherhood, but also for Menopause. The emotions, feelings and thoughts that come up are aspects that may tend to cause imbalances down the road when Progesterone and Estrogen become scarce.
It was already dark, when I returned home from Richmond last night. My husband had already cleaned the house and was ready to cook dinner. ( More on this cutie later ). We crawled into bed and were asleep by 9pm! The sun woke me up this morning as it usually does, but of course it was "early". While I sometimes feel it is just another way of man controlling nature and we are already shunning the use of clocks except when necessary, this year I choose to be grateful. So far it has had a great psychological effect. I feel well-rested and ready to accomplish everything on my list.
Yesterday morning I spent 3 hours in a backbend workshop with John Schumacher. I already mentioned to John that I have a sacro-iliac injury that was the impetus for me to start my yoga practice back in college. So when things started to heat up, there were several of us that went to the "Lower Back Pain Corner". The only pose we really practiced differently from everyone else was Chatush Padasana. Instead of grasping our ankles or using a strap to reach our ankles, we placed our upper arms on the floor with our fingers up towards the sky, palms facing one another. This practice helped us to keep from over arching in our lower backs.
Today I am thankful for experience because it is rare and somewhat miraculous to be in the presence of a teacher with more than 40 years experience. You always know an experienced teacher because they are not always trying to provide you with the answer. They often want to know, "What is your experience?" Last night with John Schumacher, we worked on fundamental standing poses, because it was the only class in the workshop that was open to all levels of students. But we addressed the standing poses from a completely different perspective.
I am thankful to be attending a yoga workshop today with one of my teachers. He may not exactly know yet that I consider him to be one of my teachers, because I actually do not see him very often and have only taken a few classes with him. But I am blessed to listen to his live classes on iHanuman.
iHanuman Yoga Teacher and Co-Founder, Tilak Pyle, sent me this video when I told him of my plan to post every day for the month of November in honor of gratitude. This is his favorite clip on Gratitude. I immediately want to add it to my play list and listen to it every day when I wake up ( although the pictures are beautiful too ). It reminds us of how precious each moment is in our lives. Each moment gives us a new opportunity for something miraculous. Each moment we make the decision to live in the past or future or just be in awe of what is happening. This is ultimately what gratitude is and what Yoga teaches us. Remain in the present moment. See. Feel. Taste. Touch.
There have definitely been times in my life where I felt like I was on my own, like it was just me against the world (Thanks, Tupac).�Â�  It is during those trying times that we are hyper aware of the people who take the time to truly pay attention to us. Today I am grateful to the people who care. Not the ones who are just "doing their job", but the ones who go above and beyond. This extends to the people who take the time to read your emails and respond with their thoughts. It is the people who sit and have a cup of coffee and truly listen to what is on your mind as opposed to staring at their watch. It is the people who recognize that you cooked dinner so you are exempt from doing the dishes.
Photo Credit: J. Glide
Today I am feeling hungover, even though I have not had an alcoholic drink for at least six months. This hangover is the result of my indulgence in cake and coffee after 10pm last night as part of my birthday celebration. Kathleen Maier, Director of Sacred Plant Traditions, purports that the medical traditions recognized hangovers long before the prevalence of alcohol over-consumption. These hangovers, while intensified by a heavy night of alcoholic drinking, can also take place when the liver is simply overtaxed with its job of detoxifying the body.
(This story is part of an ongoing sharing of my experiences sitting with Asha Greer. For an introduction to Asha, please see the previous post titled�Â� The House that Zen Built.) Cracks The routine the first few months sitting with Asha was that I would call the evening before to make sure it was okay for me to come sit with her the following morning. �Â� During one phone call she hesitated when I asked, started to say something, paused, and then just said, "Yes. Please come. I'll see you then."�Â�  I thought it was a little odd, but didn't think too much about it.
According to Chinese Medicine, the early fall is the time to watch for and prevent imbalances in the Lungs and Large Intestine. One of my favorite ways to soothe the lungs, especially as it begins to get cooler, is to drink lots of hot tea. Here is a great recipe from Rosemary Gladstar that includes many herbs you can find out in the wild or even in your own back yard.
In my last post I wrote about the necessity of intentionally and consistently surrounding yourself with people and activities that feed your Spirit. Over the next couple months I'd like to share with you some short vignettes from something that I do personally that continues to nourish, challenge and inspire me: Meditating with Asha.
For the past seven months, I have been taking a course with Sacred Plant Traditions. Every month we focus on a different system of the body and relate it the Chinese Medical Philosophy of the 5 elements. This week we enter Autumn and in the Chinese Tradition, this is the season of the Metal Element. The metal element rules the lungs and large intestine. This is one of the reasons why it is beneficial to cleanse during the fall season of the year. It is the time to release that which no longer serves us.
About 15 years ago, I became interested in Yoga and Astrology. Not in relation to each other, but it was about that time that my Virgo Sun progressed into Libra. What does this mean? Most people know astrology through their sun sign, ie in what constellation the sun was at the time of your birth. Your sun sign is how you shine in the world. It is how others see you. So I spent the first 20 years of my life as a Virgo. Virgos tend to be well-grounded as Virgo is an Earth sign. Virgo is the sign of service and humanitarian pursuits. Virgos also tend to be very health-conscious. Virgo rules the small intestine and the digestive system, so this is where trouble can set in when we are out of balance.
I spent a great deal of time cooking for my herbal medicine class this week and last night I just wanted to go out to dinner, but options are REALLY limited when not eating cheese or wheat. We also live out in the country where we are limited by our restaurant choices as well. This is fine because I generally prefer to eat my own food. Every once in a while it is pleasant to eat somewhere else, but I am reminded that it not the case when cleansing. During a cleanse it is encouraged to prepare your own food.
Typically when eliminating or cutting down on foods from your diet, cleansing will help get you to your ideal weight. Whether this is your intention or not, this is generally what occurs. After almost two weeks of cleansing, I noticed ( and so have others ) that I have become lighter. This can be attributed to being more careful about the amount of food as well as the type of food in the diet. In my cleanse, I have eliminated wheat, soy and dairy. These foods are "damp" in the Chinese Medical Philosophy. They are Kapha as described in the Indian Ayurvedic Philosophy, meaning they are heavy, cold and wet.
I am going to make gratitude a part of my daily ritual. Every so often I read a passage which reminds me to be thankful. Or I am listening to the news and I hear about something awful. ( Which is most of the time.) And I think about how lucky I am in so many ways. Then I give myself a hard time for being so selfish. ( Remember the Second Arrow? ) But when we start our day with gratitude instead of "What are you going to do for me today?" or "What do I have to do today?", it automatically changes the tone for the whole day. I tend to feel softer and lighter almost immediately.
I used to feel uncomfortable expressing any acknowledgment of my monthly menstrual cycle to anyone but myself. I know I am not alone in this. Not only do people get squeamish at the thought of blood, but the idea of it coming from "Down There! Good Heavens!" And on top of that we are taught by society to ignore that which makes us part of the Feminine Divine Creative Essence of the Universe. There is immense power in this so we are not encouraged to access it or own it.
The second day of Judith's workshop was equally as informative as the first. The sutra study for the workshop was from Pada II v.16, "Heyam dukham anagatam" or "The suffering that is to come is to be avoided." It is a fascinating concept because everything we do in life is to put our anxiety at rest. We constantly try to control our circumstances to appease our anxiety and avoid suffering.
On day 8 of my cleanse, I was blessed to attend one of two days of a workshop with Judith Hanson Lasater, author of several books including, Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times,Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life, and her most recent book which I am dying to read, What We
There is a Buddhist teaching about the second arrow. The idea is this. Life is suffering. Whether you are a Buddhist or not, you will encounter suffering along your path. Whether we like it or not, everyone that we know and love will pass away one day. This is the first arrow. The second arrow is our reaction to the first arrow. What we feel and think about the first arrow is often how we harm ourselves again. But it is our choice.
As I mentioned before, I have fasted for 7 - 14 days with NO food or even fruit juice at all. So cleansing and eliminating while still being able to eat some of my favorite foods makes me grateful. During the fasts at the Samui Dharma Healing Center we spent most of our days in classes and we talked a great deal about food and food combining. We even spend a day in the kitchen learning how to make delicious raw vegan treats. It is a bit tortuous to talk about food so often while you know you cannot have any of it.
It's true. I drank a cup of black tea with a tablespoon of soy creamer. Sounds harmless, right? I decided to read Stephen Cherniske's, Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug
Yesterday turned out to be a relatively difficult day for me. And as difficult as it may have been it made complete sense, because we use food and drugs, like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol to escape from many of the feelings we feel. Organic Whole Food is a medicine. It nourishes, cleanses and heals. If you eat a bag of grapes, it may give you a bit of a sugar rush, but overall it will have a cleansing effect. Processed Food acts as a way to numb you out. When you are cleansing you are confronted with the real you. You can no longer use food as an excuse to socialize and "Do something". I realized that I often use food to get out of my daily routine and have fun.
Nature's Sunshine Herbal Products is a company I have grown to know and trust. It is important to find companies that make sense to you and that you wish to support. ( For Bulk Herbs, I love Mountain Rose Herbs ). After my first cleanse, I came across a small herb shop in Charlottesville, Virginia run by Terry Saunders. She offers free classes on cleansing and after attending one of her classes I purchased Clean Start for my next cleanse. It is a combination of herbal capsules and an herbal detox drink. It is an all in one 2 week cleanse which I have used since that fateful day in 2002.
My first cleanse was dogmatic, rigid and spartan. I appreciated learning this way because it gave me a reference point. What is the most strict way to cleanse and still survive? I was prepared for it, however. I was expecting it to be strict and I wanted it to be strict. I think it is important to learn the purist view before experimenting with what works for you on an individual basis. The first fast I experienced was under the care and tutelage of Hillary Adrian, Director of the Samui Dharma Healing Center. I traveled to study with her 4 times to cleanse for 8, 7, 10 and 14 days respectively.
Tomorrow I enter what I consider to the be the second half of my life. I will be halfway to seventy. Not that I think I will die at the young age of 70, but I might, and I want to feel like I have accomplished everything by 70. I hope to be able to enjoy my senior years with my family, students and sangha. I am thankful that I have found yoga and nutrition so early in life. I know this relationship to health has been integral in my life for the past 10 years and will continue to be ingrained in my soul for the rest of my days.
PeppermintWe have had a heat wave here in Central Virginia and it is peak growing season, so there is little time for rest during the daylight hours. All of a sudden, everything is growing with gusto ( including the weeds ) so you have to stay on top of your garden or July is overwhelming. We took some advice from a local herb farmer, who suggests harvesting your first herb crop now.
Lately I have been practicing a series of poses recommended by Patricia Walden in Dr. Timothy McCall's book, Yoga as Medicine, which includes another of my favorite yoga poses, Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon Pose. I love to enter Ardha Chandrasana through Utthita Trikonasana , Triangle Pose, another incredible asana. In case you had not guessed from my last Favorite Yoga Pose post, Anantasana, the external/internal hip rotation poses are a lifelong favorite of mine.
I always heard that people start to get allergies as they age and I all but prided myself on being such a picture of health that I "did not have allergies". But a young healthy woman in her teens and twenties SHOULD be healthy and free from allergies, right? This is the prime of your life. Honestly, if you want better health as you age, you must claim it for Yourself. Health is not something that is handed out to anyone on a Silver Platter.
I spent most of yesterday indulging in the last day of a mini 5 day retreat. Don't get me wrong, I love a good retreat as much as the next lady and I try to take mini retreats every week, but this one was somewhat forced upon me because of an unexpected slide down our studio stairs. I was blissfully day dreaming about starting a women's circle when I carelessly stepped down the stairs and proceeded to bump my left side down the well-worn oak stairs.
Support Your Spirit
Recently, at a natural health seminar, Master Herbalist, Phillip Fritchey, mentioned the debate about bottled water and ultimately it started when Coke and Pepsi were losing money because people are becoming more intelligent about the detrimental health effects of Soda, or as one friend suggests, "Bubbly Brown Chemical Water". Because Coke and Pepsi were losing money, they decided to place bottled water in vending machines. What's worse is that the bottled water is actually just filtered tap water. What a joke! Well, the folks at The Story of Stuff have made another descriptive and educational video called "The Story of Bottled Water". Check it out:
We had such an amazing time in Costa Rica last year that many people are wanting to go again! So please join us January 8-15, 2011, for a week of blissful yoga, deep meditation, communion with nature, and fun with some of the best people on the planet, all at the tropical mountainside paradise of�Â� Pura Vida Retreat Center and Spa in Costa Rica!
From Vasant Lad's Yoga Journal Post: Unusual mental or physical exertion, stress, and lack of sleep can make people tired. Prevention in these cases simply requires self-observation. Sometimes it means not pushing the body and mind beyond its limits. Other times it means walking or doing some physical work to help increase the body's energy level.
Annie Carpenter shares her wisdom on APARIGRAHA the fifth of the five yamas, or disciplines, set out by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.
NOVEMBER 12, 2008
Meditation & Chanting with Manorama
8:30pm-10:00pm Ahimsa, The Gateway to Yoga Jivamukti Yoga School
841 Broadway, 2nd fl. NYC
212.353.0214 Please bring: a curious spirit, meditation shawl & a notebook with a pen.
My wife, our two kids and I spent November and December in India. I had been once before, so this one was about exploring the mother land as a family. We went to museums in Delhi, took boat rides in Nainital, cable car and horse rides in Mussoorie, a jeep safari at Rajaji National Park, saw Agra Fort and, of course, the Taj Mahal. We also got to touch the spiritual heart of India: the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram in Kainchi, darshan with a Saint in Rishikesh, Arati at the Ganga. But the thing that we all agree touched us the most was being with the kids at Ramana's Garden School and Orphanage in Lakshman Jhula.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar was born on December 14, 1918. From the Iyengar Association fo the United States:
You are invited to join the Iyengar Community in the United States in our grandest, most glorious celebration ever! A MALA FOR THE GURU
This Mala, or garland, is our offering
of love and affection, respect and memory
in honor of the 90th Birthday
of Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, our beloved Guruji.
Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights. It is celebrated on the second to the last new moon of the year. According to hindu mythology, Diwali, was the homecoming of King Rama after a 14-year exile in the forest. The people of his kingdom welcomed Rama home by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (deepa), thus its name, Deepawali, or simply shortened as Diwali. The festival marks the victory of good over evil, and uplifting of spiritual darkness. Symbolically it marks the homecoming of goodwill and faith after an absence, as suggested by the story of Ramayana.
Our son Texil was born while Michelle and I were working our way through college. Michelle had just completed an unpaid internship, and I was going to school during the day and working late nights and weekends at a smoky (and very illegal) Beach Bingo. When Kali was born, Michelle left her job to stay home with the kids for the first few months while I went to graduate school and taught freshman English as a graduate assistant. During both of these times money was very tight, and both times we took advantage of a federal food asistance program called WIC (Women, Infant & Children), that allows expectant mothers and mothers with small children to receive a certain amount of free formula, milk, and cereal every month.
There is much focus around the equinoxes around 108 sun salutations. Many yoga teachers encourage this practice as a way to move through the change of seasons. This September 21-23, a large global event will take place, centered in Los Angeles, with the intention of spreading peace around the world like a mala or garland.


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