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Summer is in full swing! And not only is it hot (and humid), but everyone’s routines have shifted. We are the stewards of a 10-acre farm in central Virginia, so we are outside as much as possible, planting and harvesting fruit, flowers and herbal medicine. The change in seasons affects different people differently. Some people enjoy heat more than others. You will find me under shade and out of the sun between 10 - 2pm, but my husband LOVES doing work outside during the heat of the day. Summertime is an opportunity to pay attention to the heat and what affect it has on you.
The spring is a powerful time of year. We watch in awe as green sprouts out of the ground and buds burst on spring-blooming trees. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spring is governed by the Liver and Gallbladder. The Liver is our decision maker. If the Liver is not functioning well, we lack the ability to make clear decisions. In TCM, the eyes are the external organ of the Liver, so we might encounter vision problems, if our Liver is out of order. The Liver is not only related to our physical vision, but also our metaphorical vision. When someone has difficulty envisioning the future or has no vision for her life, we look to the Liver to bring about change.
What a year it is has been! On SO many levels. I have so much to write about and yet so much is still percolating. One item that I do want to mention is that this year marks the 20th year since I started practicing Iyengar Yoga! I lucked into a 5 day workshop during my travels in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A friend recommended the course as I had already been practicing yoga on my own, with books and classes at the Y in college. Even though no one else signed up for the Intermediate course that week, the teacher taught me privately for 5 hours per day! It was such an incredible gift!
We just passed through the first New Moon of the New Year. New Moons are always potent times to set intentions, but particularly the first New Moon of the New Year. This past year felt particularly destabilizing and I have absolutely cherished my yoga practice, as it keeps me steady, clear and grounded in the present. I pay fairly close attention to what is going on around me, but as a yoga practitioner, one of the disciplines of the practice is to not get pulled into the drama - the ups and downs of everyday human existence.
In the yoga sutras, Patanjali talks about effortless effort - "Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached." - Light on the Yoga Sutras, BKS Iyengar Perfection is connected to the metal element present at the end of this season - the need to be perfect, valuing oneself, the need to have shiny material possessions and conversely, the exact opposite - not valuing oneself or not believing oneself worthy of respect. It is something well worth examining as we close out this year.
Dear Friends, As we mentioned last month, we are in the season of the Lungs and Large Intestine. It is the time of year to whittle, to hone, and to refine. These are two of our organs of letting go. I am finding time this week to reflect on what I was able to accomplish this year and letting go of what's left. It is a time of resetting and putting things to rest.
"Grief, expressed out loud, whether in or out of character, unchoreographed and honest, for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.” - Martin Prectel
As we have talked about in previous articles, summer is represented by the Fire element which is our passion, joy, creativity and the quality of our relationships. This period of time of social distancing makes some of these aspects of summer challenging but we must keep these important qualities at the forefront during these fleeting months. For example, now is a great time to dig deeply into connecting or reconnecting with what brings you joy; to discover or rediscover some areas of life about which you are truly passionate.
We are reconciling what we have collectively witnessed with regards to racism and injustice in our society. We stand with our brothers & sisters of color in solidarity and will continue to educate ourselves and foster work that helps tear down the walls of inequality in our communities. Yoga is a gift to humanity that helps us dissolve ignorance and brings us closer to uncovering the fact that we all come from the same Divine source. We are all one race - the human race - and these horrific events have the potential to wake us up and bring us together in collective action.
The Full Moon this month is a particularly auspicious moon on many calendars. Native Americans named it the Pink Moon to denote the Pink Phlox which spreads as one of the first harbingers of spring. It is the Pesach or Passover Moon in the Hebrew Calendar. In the Christian Calendar this is the Paschal Moon as it is the full moon that marks the date of Easter or Pascha. And in the Hindu Calendar this Full Moon corresponds with the Hanuman Jayanti Festival celebrating the birth of Lord Sri Hanuman. This full moon is also the largest super moon of the year! We are celebrating with some stories of Hanuman from our archives and with an offering of 20% off ALL Downloads in our Store this month. We hope you will enjoy!
We are so lucky to have our yoga practice particularly during times of change. One of the ways we remain grounded is by adherence to the Yamas and Niyamas, one of which is Svadhyaya or self study but also includes the study of spiritual texts. I recently began re-reading the Bhagavad Gita during a particularly tumultuous time with my family. The first chapter of the book introduces us to the protagonist, Arjuna, who must go into battle with his family.
We hope you survived the New Years Celebrations relatively unscathed? So what have you learned? Not just from the holidays but from the lessons of the past year. Wintertime, the essential time of annual hibernation, is upon us and despite how our LED-powered world removes the enforcement of winter rest, we really are better served to heed her call.
Happy Solstice! We approach the end of this year (and Decade!) and the shortest day of the year. We then begin our return to the light from now until the Summer Solstice. For now, we rest in the stillness that the dark nights bring. Now is the time to turn inward, to rest, recover and recuperate. We will be turning the lights down low through the end of the year to spend time with friends and family to restore ourselves from a challenging year. While we are resting, the elves in our download store will be working overtime to offer you all a gift for the end of the year! Now through the end of this decade, we offer you 20% off all classes in our store!
Here we are again at the end of what has proven for me and my family to be quite a challenging year. We are encouraged to practice renunciation as we enter the last few weeks of the year or the letting go of the results of our efforts. This is the foundation of yoga as we read Sutra I.12 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah - "Practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness." - BKS Iyengar
Halloween has always been a favorite celebration of mine. I love coming up with a costume and actually creating something beautiful or scary to wear. I teach yoga this Halloween so I have had a lot of fun turning my creativity towards designing a sequence of poses that are in the Halloween theme. My sequence includes poses like Skeleton Pose, Full Moon Pose, Zombie Pose, Rabid Dog Pose, Headless Headstand Pose, Frankenstein Pose, Swarming Locusts Pose, Dead Bug Pose and of course Corpse Pose. You can see a link to the traditional names of these yoga poses here.
We have entered my most favorite time of year. Earth is the name that the Chinese give to the energy of late summer. Earth is the time of harvest and gathering. It is the midpoint in the cycle of life. The time when we raise a family, create a body of work, settle down, and begin to reap the rewards of our labors. Our thoughts turn to nurturing, parenting, mentoring and mothering. Earth governs our bodies, our flesh and our ability to nourish ourselves through the foods that we eat. Earth governs our cycles - sleeping, eating and breathing. Earth energy also helps us on a mental level to digest ideas, process experiences and form thoughts. Out of balance Earth can be obsessive, obstinate and stubborn.
Can we finally begin to breathe a sigh of relief? July was unbearably hot. August invites a cooling down period or at least tells us there is an end in sight! We kept visions of cool ponds, pools, rivers and oceans everywhere we went. In southwestern Virginia, we were lucky to receive plenty of rain in the spring and early summer, but now everything is dry and hot!
Wow Friends! We are almost halfway through the year and there is so much to celebrate! The summer solstice is right around the corner and with it the peak growth and full blooms of all of our hard work this year. The first official day of summer is also the day that the United Nations chose to celebrate International Yoga Day! There are events happening globally. It is an opportune time to be with your community to celebrate the gifts of yoga and share those benefits with others.
As we discussed last month, Spring not only brings with it the ability to plan and organize, as the time of year of Liver/Gallbladder Energy. But now is the time to lighten the load on these organs by consuming more of the fresh green (and sour) foods that are in season. One of the best things about these foods being in season, is that they can also be foraged and free. As long as you have access to an organic wild meadow, you can find dandelion greens, chickweed and violets everywhere you look!
Happy Spring! This is always an exciting time of year. After a long winter's rest the spring flowers are beginning to bud and bloom. There is so much potential! Spring brings with it the energy of Wood in Traditional Chinese Medicine. We see this in the energy of the green shoots sprouting out of the ground. If used wisely, Liver energy is perfect for envisioning, planning and organizing. We till the ground and plant the seeds for the fruits that will come later in the year.
While we spent January in introspection and reflection, February brought a welcome lightness as we passed through the midway point from the Winter Solstice to the Spring Equinox. We also recognized the Lunar New Year and I found myself getting even more excited about the New Year and the possibility of things to come. It can be challenging to stay grounded in the present moment as we contemplate the potential of the coming spring.
Most of you know, if you have been subscribed to the iHanuman Newsletter for some time, that we pay a lot of attention to the changes and transitions of the natural world. Every year, we are prompted by traditional healing philosophy to reinvigorate pranayama practice in the fall. The fall is the season of letting go and releasing as well as the organs of the Lungs and Large Intestines.
Dear Friends, As the sun shifts into Virgo and the late summer's earth element, we are enjoying the fruits of our labors along with the slowing & cooling down of summer. The earth element brings us stability and a space to pause and collect ourselves between the seasons. The calm and steadiness of earth helps prepare us for the shifting unsteadiness of the air element which visits us in the fall. I love this time of year! The weather is a perfect mix of warm days and cool nights. AND September is National Yoga Month! This is a wonderful time of year to get the word out about the benefits of yoga. Reference our resources below on the benefits of yoga as a place to start your conversation with new students.
Today marks the halfway point between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. It's called Lamas and it signals the beginning of the harvest season. We are about to transition into Late Summer as we move beyond the peak of summer. Before we do, take with you the lessons learned from your growth this year. Take some time to honor what you have accomplished before you begin to reap what you have sewn.
Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of the summer season. Summer ignites the fire element. The warmth of fire has the power to bring us out of the contraction of the cold dark winter into a state of expansion and joy. We have more energy to accomplish our tasks and more hours of light within which to accomplish them. Fire is known for its dynamism, transformation and passion, but also gives us the capacity to feel joy, compassion, empathy as well as deep sadness, because only a strong heart can truly feel deep sadness.
I taught a restorative yoga retreat last month where we contemplated the energy of the Ayurvedic constitution made up of Earth and Water, Kapha. We contemplated stability, density, structure, boundaries and flow. We discussed ways to antidote the excess and deficiencies that arise with these elements, which are predominant in the winter and early spring. One of my favorite topics to discuss as a remedy for Winter stagnation is the creation of clear un-obstructed space. This time of year is ideal for space clearing of any kind. As a Virgo and a Pitta Kapha, this brings me joy.
It has been a little while since you have received an email from us. If we are being totally honest, this past year was a particularly challenging one on a number of different levels, personal and professional. I remember reading and sharing about last year being the Year of the Fire Rooster, in Chinese Astrology. What I read, indicated that Rooster years are about doing the constant disciplined day to day work. I certainly found this to be true this last year. It was a year of keeping my nose to the ground, putting one foot in front of the other and doing the work. Have any of you found this to be true?
Even though it is almost 90 degrees where I live in central Virginia, we have now officially transitioned into early Fall. If you cannot yet feel it in the temperature, you can see it in the colors of everything around you. What was lush and green a few weeks ago has started to turn yellow. Aptly, this is the color of this time of year, the color of the stomach and spleen meridians, our digestive organs, the Earth Element.
Does this heat make it feel as if the summer could go on forever? As we start the month of August, we are entering into the late summer period, the fifth season, recognized in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine. BUT before we get ahead of ourselves, I wanted to share some final insights from the end of the summer season. As we mentioned last month, the element associated with summer is fire, which shows up in the external environment, but internally as well.
It's Officially Summer! AND the International Day of Yoga! In honor of these two special events, we are offering some sequences for you to enjoy on International Yoga Day, as well as a discount in our download store from today until the end of June!
I made it through another Mother’s Day, but this year was different. I have been inspired by women around the world who are sharing about their struggles with Mother’s Day; mothers who have lost children, women who have lost mothers and women who are not able to be mothers. Mother’s day has always been difficult for me, since I lost my mother, tragically, 28 years ago, just months before my thirteenth birthday. Once I recovered from the shock of the loss, which actually took about 5 years, I finally started to grieve. That grief, for me, has taken the better part of the last two decades. Thankfully, however, for about the last ten years, I have been deeply committed to healing that pain.
Thank You for Helping Us Raise $10,000! Simple Spring Recommendations & New Audio & Video with Kofi Busia!
Dear Friends, It has been an exhausting couple of weeks here in the United States. In addition to everything we normally have going on in our lives, we are being tormented by misinformation, lies and deceit in the executive office of our government. It is hard to keep up with it all and this is leading to frustration, hopelessness and overwhelm. What can we do?
"In his search he discovers the three noble ways of word (jnana), work (karma), and worship (bhakti), which teach him that his inner light is the only guide leading to mastery over his own life.” - BKS Iyengar, Light on Pranayama
Eliminate and Let Go with Pranayama. New Recordings with John Schumacher & Kofi Busa, 10 % off ALL Downloads through the end of 2016!
"The Three Months of Fall are called the period of tranquility of one's conduct... The mysterious powers of Fall create dryness in Heaven and they create metal upon the Earth."At the end of October and for some of us not until November, we transitioned from the late summer energy of early Fall into the true Fall Energy of Metal or the quality most closely associated with the Ayurvedic element of Air. Air and Metal energies concern mental and spiritual activities, including the workings of the mind, the intellect and communication.
Celebrate Yoga Month & the Earth Element with A Prayer for the Earth and New Summer Intensive 2016 Recordings with Lois Steinberg
Happy Autumn, Dear One!
How Do You Cool Down in the Summer Heat? Lighting the Way and New Downloads with Lois Steinberg, Elise Miller's New Yoga for Scoliosis Book & More
Are we finally on the downswing from the peak of a very firey and fiesty summer heat wave? As tensions and frustrations flair, we are truly called upon to utilize our yoga practice to cool us down. Two of the primary ways you choose to counterbalance the heat depend on your personal temperament. You can sit calmly and quietly, practicing slow deep breathing or pranayamas specific to cooling you down, like Sitali (sheet - ah - lee) pranayama or practice a quieting asana practice focused on forward bends and other cooling poses. The alternative is to get active, move and raise your internal heat .
Happy New Year! It is going to be another fantastic year for Yoga Media and Technology. We have so many new classes to share with you in the coming months. TODAY, Enjoy over 50 new Iyengar Yoga Classes with John Schumacher AND his free quarterly discussion on the question, "Is Yoga A Religion?" Look out for more yoga media coming soon.... Until then, be well.
Sara Miles Pope Agelasto
Love. Service. Devotion. Yoga.
Sara Miles Pope Agelasto
Love. Service. Devotion. Yoga.
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