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Journal Post

Dear Friends,  We hope you took advantage of our call to restart or reinvigorate your pranayama practice this Autumn.  It is a subtle and yet profound cleansing process we can engage in.  This season is the time to cleanse the lungs and large intestine. This is not the time to live it up and binge on food, drink and stimulation as many of us are encouraged to do during the holidays. 
Samhain (pronounced Sow Wen) is the Celtic word for Summer's end. And indeed the shift from any hope for more warm weather has settled upon us. We can all feel the change that swept through the air these past several days, reminding us who is really in charge. Tonight we don our masks and costumes to protect us from evil spirits that might be lurking about as it is said that the veils between worlds are thinnest this time of year. Many traditions choose to honor their ancestors and those that have passed during this vulnerable time.
  Good health and happiness are our birthright. Don’t trade it away.   According to Yoga sages, the three main causes of disease are stress, toxins, and bad eating habits.

Here are some good eating habits advised by the sages:
Encinitas holds the distinction of being the American birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga. David Williams began teaching here in the early seventies and sponsored Pattabhi Jois and his son Manju to come here for the first time in 1975. Brad Ramsey and Gary Lopedota, two of David's students, opened their own yoga shala, called the Ashtanga Yoga Nilayam, after David moved to Maui.
When I first began teaching yoga in 1981, yoga wasn't exactly entrenched in the mainstream as it is now. I had been meditating for four years and doing asana out of a book daily. There was never a thought about becoming a yoga teacher, as I had four children, ages 7-14, and it was all I could do to stay afloat and meet my commitments as an Air Force wife and mother. My daily meditation practice helped more than anything else to keep me on a fairly even keel during those challenging days.
India! How can one begin to describe the experience of two weeks in this challenging, energetic and sacred land? Eight adventurous students, plus my husband, John, daughter Kate and I, embarked on our second Yoga Pilgrimage to the foothills of the Himalayas in December 2007.
Landing in the New Delhi airport after a 16-hour flight, we were immediately confronted with new and strange sights, sounds and smells. With our large bags stuffed into and on top of the small taxis, we were driven to a Delhi hotel for our first night in India.
Have you been in a class at Willow Street where your teacher set the theme of the class as "change"? In our practice of yoga, we experience change in many ways, from the mat to what we take from the mat into our daily lives. Whether planned or unexpected, change permeates the flow of life. Change is the one thing we can count on.
Samtosha is the Sanskrit term for contentment - it is one of the guidelines of a Yogi seeking union with God. On a daily basis, there are a million opportunities for me to practice this, (enough to eat, enough sleep, enough this, enough that, enough). But there are some bigger feeling events happening that challenge my ability to find contentment as easily as I do when I stop eating when I am full, (instead of cleaning the plate).
During the dog days of summer we're familiar with the usual methods of cooling off: AC, dips in cool lakes, watermelon, and tall glasses of iced tea or lemonade often do the trick.
Yogis, however, use yet another way; and it's one that we doesn't require paying an electricity bill or going on vacation.
We can cool down through our very own breath. That's right, one particular form of yogic breathing, called sitali (pronounced sheet-ah-lee) in Sanskrit, cools down the body when it's feeling overheated, as well as the mind and heart, when fiery emotions like anger and jealousy arise.
Here's how to do it:
We live in a universe of infinite possibility.
That's why last night, along with 80,000 other enthusiasts, I did the wave in a football stadium and swished an American flag through the air for the first time since the Memorial Day parade in the 3rd grade.
As an American, as a yogini, and as an ordinary person who believes in the immortal goodness of the human spirit, I went to Invesco Field last night to participate in history.
My journey there was indeed a pilgrimage- riddled with doubt, despair, dehydration, blisters, sunburn, resilience, and, of course, some raw truffles that I smuggled with me from the Oasis.
Drinking ginger tea, omitting dairy foods from her diet and taking daily walks became as routine as brushing her teeth for Jennifer Cormier, a Pilates instructor at Inward Bound Wellness in Ashland, Oregon. To shed winter weight and brighten her complexion with spring's arrival, Jenn dabbled with Ayurveda (pronounced eye-yur-vay-dah), India's traditional healing science. After a month of adhering to these ancient daily rituals, Jenn began to feel more in rhythm with the budding of new life around her. She began to laugh more and sleep more soundly. Her digestion improved, her eyes sparkled, and she had more energy to exercise and enjoy activities with friends and family.
We in the West think of historical time as running along a track, an arrow moving in one direction only, and each of us having, as the TV soap opera reminds us, one life to live. But in India, historical time is cyclical, running round and round like a Ferris wheel, each of us passing through many hundreds, even thousands of lives. Each turn of the wheel is called a kalpa, a period of time estimated at 4,320,000 human years. This may seem like an eternity to us, but to Brahma, the creator god, it's only one "day" and "night" in his life. It's estimated that Brahma's life span is 36,000 kalpas, which works out to 100 divine years.
Many of us have made new year's resolutions regarding personal qualities that we would like to cultivate in the year ahead.  We can relate this practice of intention-setting to the yogic concept of svadhyaya, often translated as self-study.   Honest, intimate self-reflection is seen as integral to almost any spiritual path.  But yoga asks: can we engage in this process without taking ourselves too seriously?
For over 40 years, legendary and humble yoga Master Sri Dharma Mittra has been promoting a live food diet to students around the world. A Disciple of Sri Swami Kailashananda, Dharma Mittra has spent his life in service to humanity, and has been personally responsible for the advancement of healthy living through a live diet as taught to him by his own Guru, Yogi Gupta. From his days in the Ashram, preparing live food and juices for the Guru and Ashram residents, to his earliest days in the 1970’s as a celebrated teacher in NYC, sprouting almonds and juicing vegetables and fruits for his students, this saintly Yogi has been living and spreading the knowledge of a live diet long before it gained the popularity of today.
Asteya may be achieved through simple living. Steya (stealing) is the result of the inability to control desires for sense-pleasures. Desire is the root-cause for all stealing. When the mind and senses seek enjoyment, thoughts of theft arise as a means of obtaining and satisfying those desires. Desires lend an imaginary attractiveness to the object sought, slaying discrimination, and soon destroy the Yogi’s ethical foundation.
Stealing can occur on many levels. You may steal knowledge, without asking permission to use someone else’s ideas or forms of expression. Overeating or waste is stealing. Taking over a conversation or taking someone’s privacy is stealing.
Dear Family,
There are times in our lives when our problems seem so overwhelming we don't have any idea what to do next in any significant way - how to change our lives, how to address the biggest problems, how to heal the damage between us and our loved ones, how to motivate ourselves to even get out of bed to tackle each new day. Our prayers may be sincere but we may not be hearing any answers. We don't understand the Big Plan a loving God may have for why our lives are so hard, and we just don't have a clue as to what to do next.
On June 17th, 1744, the commissioners from Maryland and Virginia negotiated a treaty with the Indians of the Six Nations at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Indians were invited to send their boys to William and Mary College. The next day they declined the offer as follows:
In the past several months as I've been speaking across the country, many people have approached me and asked with some degree of excitement in their voices, "Bo, have you seen The Secret yet? Oh, you'll love it! It will change the world! Let people know about this!"
At a recent yoga retreat I was presented with a unique opportunity to fly on a trapeze! I remembered that people at the end of their lives most regretted not taking more risks... So, on the appointed day, 11 other yogis and I headed out for our adventure. After a short practice on a trapeze only 5 feet above ground we graduated to the real experience.
Peter, the trapeze artist in charge, emphasized that we could come down at any time. One woman burst into tears on reaching the platform and another decided to come down after starting the first swing. When my turn came I climbed the narrow ladder and found myself standing on a platform the size of a sticky mat, 30 feet above the ground.
If you want to have a beautiful garden you have to nurture what you want (the flowers) and remove what you don't want (the weeds). Otherwise we all know the weeds will take over. The mind works the same way. If you want to have joy and appreciation in your life you have to plant those seeds, but you also have to actively remove what you don't want: the negative thoughts filled with doubts, insecurities, and fear. One way to move your mind away from negativity is to become aware of the amount of complaining you do.
Credit: Woven - Montauk Beach Finally March has arrived and we can begin to wake ourselves up from our long winter's nap. In March, we clear away the clutter from the windy cold winter to allow the new green sprouts to show their color. We plant seeds for what we want to grow and blossom this spring and summer and prune the last of the dead limbs. What remains? What are we bringing forth into the new year to nourish the seeds and tender green shoots? And who are the people in our lives that will support us on this journey?
Credit: Lululemon Athletica Love is in the air this month. And if it's not, we need to ask ourselves, 'Why not?" There have been many a February in my life where I did not have a significant other and often felt lacking and inferior in the days leading up to Valentine's Day. What I discovered is that sense of lack was usually due to missing self love. I had not learned to love myself, so how could I expect to someone else to love me?
I take a weekly walk with some girlfriends and each Friday we wonder if we will walk the next week. We have had several frosts here in the Blue Ridge Mountains and each Friday could be our last so I am thankful for these walks. Even though I could feel a cold coming on, I decided to walk anyway hoping that the fresh air might do some good. I think it did. I progressively felt a little bit worse by the end of the day, but the fresh fall air and gorgeous yellows, reds and orange colors were pleasant and peaceful for my mind's eye and gave me something to reflect upon as I lay in bed wishing I could be back outside. Are you still enjoying the fall or has it turned more to winter where you live?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
In looking for some inspiration for writing this newsletter, I did not have to do much more than walk outside. It is amazing how beautiful and wonderful the world is, especially in the springtime after a long cold winter. It was not that long ago when people depended on new shoots and leaves of spring as the first fresh food since at least the Winter Solstice. IMAGINE if you HAD TO wait until the middle of March to eat fresh greens!
This month we offer you a special interview with California Yogini, Heather Tiddens. Listening to her Interview and viewing photographs of Heather reminds us of the goddess energy present within all beings. And with Mother's Day just passing, Heather's gentle spirit is reminiscent of the nurturing energy provided by women, mothers and Earth sisters. She helps us remember the importance of being kind to ourselves, to our friends and family, and to the Earth, the ultimate nurturer.
Fine tune your approach to Corpse Pose through an exploration of varying teaching philosophies.
By Sara Avant Stover
By now, given yoga's broad popularity, many people know that the word yoga means to unite or yoke together. When one moves past the common notion that yoga is mostly about exercise, flexibility, and relaxation and begins to delve into the underlying philosophy of yoga, one begins to encounter conceptually and experientially what this business of unity is really about. From the moment you stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and ground through your feet, you become aware that the actions of your feet have a direct and palpable effect on your ankles, your legs, your spine, indeed, your entire body. In other words, all the parts of your body are connected to one another. Well, duh!
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