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Journal Post

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.
Not long ago, I was troubled to read in the Washington Post that local hospitals are having to expand to accommodate increasing numbers of aging, ailing Baby Boomers - a generation of which I and many of Willow Street's students are a part. We're living longer than our parents did, and of course we want to grow older gracefully. Yet even as health care is one of our highest concerns - as it is for people young and old - right now, we're most worried about our pocketbooks and retirement plans!
I write this from the vantage point of 37,000 feet above our earth, looking both up at the bluest of blue skies and down at cloud patterns of marshmallow fluff, and am seized with a sense of gratitude for the supreme beauty of our planet, and all that is in my life since I embarked on a spiritual path over 30 years ago.
Warm your heart with the softness of a loving thought for billions of years of peace, prosperity and bliss for our children's children. Praise and bless them as peaceful, loving and evolved beings who live in an enlightened and sustainable society. This loving thought will make it so!
OK, everyday is mother's day, please don't get so affected by Hallmark's marketing and propaganda, and if you do cave in and buy something, try to make it a sustainable, conscious, earth-friendly purchase (hint: massage gift certificate! yoga workshop!).
A good friend of mine (and revered yoga master) recently suggested that we adjust our students like they were our mothers, (not friends, siblings, or lovers). This was to encourage a neutrality and gentleness to the hands-on adjustment, so it is never done without awareness.
Breathing In, it's the very first act of life outside of the womb. Breathing Out, it's the very last thing we do before we die. In-between that first in-breath and final out-breath are millions of opportunities to remember this powerful energy. The yogis call it Prana: that which is everywhere, connecting us all; and on a smaller scale - that energy which moves the breath throughout our bodies. But what most people don't realize is the power of breath can increase or decrease energy, improve health and bodily functions, and reduce stress. A quick Google search can show you statistics, but experience is really the only way to go with Pranayama, the practice of breathing.
The summer after I graduated from college I headed off to fulfill a dream -- I traveled solo through Europe for two months. Sauntering on Parisian streets; sipping vino in Italy; snuggling under down comforters in Switzerland and Austria; and noshing on pastries in Belgium, and Prague -- I was finally free of all the obligations that my schooling had entailed and was embarking on the path of my adult life.
At least that's how things seemed on the outside.
Teaching to nonnative English speakers is challenging, but these tips will help you make sure your teaching transcends all language and cultural barriers.
Once, while teaching in Paris with a translator, Nischala Joy Devi, international teacher and author of The Secret Power of Yoga and The Healing Path of Yoga, was asked by an English-speaking student if she would return to teach there again. "There are certainly worse places I could come back to
than Paris," Devi replied, smiling. The translator delivered her response to the group and, upon seeing the ensuing sea of horrified faces, Devi stammered to the translator, "What did you say to them?"
Encourage your students to develop a home practice-and
stick with it.By Sara Avant Stover
I moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, from New York City when I
was 21. I had been practicing yoga for three years, attending
group classes four times a week. When I moved, though,
things changed. Chiang Mai's yoga scene didn't compare to
the abundant supply of classes I had grown so used to in
New York. If I wanted to keep practicing, I had to do it alone.
Forced by circumstance to foster a home practice, my
relationship with yoga quickly deepened and became more
intimate, more connected. Equipped with a solid foundation
Explore the pros and cons of hands-on guidance and learn to use skillful assists to empower
your students.
By Sara Avant Stover
"Come on! Extend, Karl! Don't be so stingy!" exclaimed Sharon Gannon, cofounder of Jivamukti Yoga, to student Karl Straub, as she assisted him in Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). Straub, a Jivamukti Yoga teacher himself, as well as a Thai Yoga Bodywork practitioner, recalls the potency of Gannon's assist-one that he revisits every time he practices that
One of the magazines that I subscribe to is "Body + Soul"--because it is beautiful to look at AND it has really great articles. I recently read an article in one of the issues called "Happy in Hard Times," by Frances Lefkowitz. And, since one of my passions is on the pursuit and emergence of happiness, I of course gave it a read.
The author gives 7 essential tips to rebound from a setback--super important for all of us! How to we get back on our feet after a bad fall? How do we stand in our own power again instead of playing the victim? (And, yes, sometimes it does feel good to wallow and wimper, we just don't want to hang out in that place for too long!).Here's what she says:
The yogis have discovered that the whole universe is emitted, pervaded, and ultimately reabsorbed by sound, or to be more precise, a vibratory power that has both audible and inaudible dimensions. It may seem contradictory to talk about inaudible sound, though of course we're bombarded all the time with sounds we can't hear because of the inherent limitations of our sense of our hearing. But for the yogis, subsonic and supersonic sounds are still considered audible, since we can hear them if our hearing is amplified with special instruments. Instead inaudible sound refers to subtle, or what the yogis call "unstruck" sound.
Happiness is, and always will be, a beautiful and unique human desire.  Yogi Bhajan stated that it is "our birthright to be happy" and H.H. Dalai Lama has artfully taught us what it means to be happy.  With every breath we take, every intention we make, happiness is the source that drives us.
Happiness can be so many things and what might make one person happy, could absolutely bore the next. It can be as simple as smile or as complex as a long-standing completed project.  Just like life, happiness is what you make it. I say, you must participate in order to understand what true happiness really is.
Stepping on to your mat for the first time can be a daunting experience. The excitement of trying something new, moving your body in ways you've never imagined, and stretching your limits can be exhilarating, if not overwhelming. The same can be said for more practiced students, who with time and experience may feel ready to push beyond their limits, but end up feeling frustrated when they cannot "go beyond."  That being said, whether you're brand new or you've been practicing for many years now, following are a few tips to keep in mind whenever you come to your mat.
Atha Yoganusasnam
Yogash Citta Vrtti Nirodhah
Tada Drashtuh Svarupe Avasthanam
-Yoga Sutra-s (1.1-1.3)
The Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali is handbook for yoga, but you do not have to read much further than first few lines to understand what yoga is all about. Patanjali makes his intentions clear from the very beginning.
1. Atha Yoganusasnam (YS 1.1). Now is the time for Yoga.
With the very first sutra Patanjali sets forth the path of yoga. What follows are complete instructions on what yoga is and how, through practice, we begin to still the mind, reaching Samadhi (bliss). But, you must start now. Now is the time.
Emotional vulnerability seems to snowball at all the most inappropriate moments. When you're feeling down the most insignificant comment can send you deeper into the darkness. On days when you feel torn open by life, your heart is raw, exposed, and injured. In this space everything hurts. Is it just chance and coincidence that dishes up misery for no reason or is there some hidden cosmic force that answers to a pecking order higher than your melancholic feelings?
Have you ever walked into a string of extremely unfortunate events? Imagine that your partner leaves you for a younger, prettier, wealthier, funnier version of yourself the moment you feel deeply insecure about your body. Then the government slams you with $4,000 of extra taxes to paid right after you quit your job. And in your yoga practice you injure your hamstring right after your shoulder finally started to get back into shape. There are often weeks, months or even years that may have you wondering what the Divine plan for your life is really all about anyway.
This year's political season in the U.S. highlights some of the most monumental achievements and pitfalls of the past century and inspires a renewal of the dream of peace, hope and change. Yet in such an atmosphere we must also ask ourselves where the realization of such broad specturm dreams is to be found if these ideals are really to be more than just a dream after all is said and done. We know now that the ultimate resolution of the seemingly eternal problems of humanity is not to be found in a battle between nations fought with weapons of mass destruction, nor in a war of words among politicians, nor in the battle of the sexes. So where and to whom do we turn to answer the most difficult questions of our lives?
If you believe everything you read online, hear on the radio or see on TV, then you're probably convinced that we really are headed straight down the proverbial toilet bowl. But think again. Nothing you read, hear or see is absolutely true. News, although an attempt an objectivity, is nevertheless an account given by a person, just as history is a story told by the survivors. Many pioneering thinkers and coaches suggest taking a "news fast" for a week to ten days as part of a mental detoxification program.
How you think, feel and act influences the kind of interactions you have in the world. While there might not always be an easy causal relationship between thought, action and experience, if you dig deep enough the connection is almost always evident. There is an ancient Zen parable that tells of a young monk-in-training who searches the world for a true master and a peaceful place, but finds only angry, unhappy people everywhere he goes. After roaming through many towns the young aspirant meets a Zen teacher in disguise who asks the traveler what he has experienced during his journey.
The mind enjoys putting on a melodramatic show. From the thick plot of stress, anger, pain and loss, it proclaims that we are "just fine", "coping quite well" or "not really bothered at all". The body, by contrast, doesn't lie for very long if at all. Its simple proximity to nature cannot go on with show forever. If stresses like lies are present, the body will hold it in the belly for a period of time and then, after a critical turning point, it will give up, give in and collapse. Some of you may be all of familiar with this state of your body.
Living in North America, we are part of a society that exports the flashy famousness of the newly discovered. We are collectively in a rush to unearth the next hidden secret and produce our very own million-dollar invention. This makes us brilliant innovators, forward thinking dreamers and daringly ambitious artists, and yet simultaneously, history-deprived, beauty-obsessed shopaholics haunting soulless strip malls sipping mass produced lattes. Is it no wonder then that we as nation seem to be in search of spirit? What else is left for America to invent than an authentic self in the midst of such rampant materialism?
If you're looking for a sense of ease, grace and effortlessness in your practice, the key lies in finding a sense of spaciousness in your mind. There is a way to practice and to be with your body to create the kind of neurological and structural foundations for a complete sense of openness. There is a way to literally get more flexible without collapsing the core stabilizing patterns of the body. In this way you may learn to practice all types of yoga with an inner awareness that has relaxation as its basis.
The spark of interest in yoga often ignites an inner obsession that infiltrates every aspect of your life. At first yoga is life and you cannot get enough of it. Yoga reconnects you to long forgotten inner realms and you somehow fall in love with yoga. Yet if your yoga practice evolves into a daily, lifelong relationship it is almost inevitable that at some moment you will get bored with it. The insatiable hunger for as much yoga as possible will shift and change to a space where you will be absolutely full of it. This period of lackluster levels of initiative often comes ironically as a result of your full immersion in the yoga world.
You will see in others what you see in yourself. All of the insecurities you see in others are really the ones you have within reflected back at you. A Course in Miracles states that you cannot give to another what you have not known yourself. But is this true with love? Or does love play by other rules? When we ask others for unconditional love does that mean we are capable of it ourselves? In the total acceptance of our imperfections we find a grace beyond measure and a joy in the otherwise confusing panorama of humanity. Yet if we are only able to love another person to the extent that we are able to love ourselves our capacity to give might find a dead end in the caverns of our self-loathing and the doldrums of low self-esteem.
There is a point in every marathon where no runner quits and there is another point where the majority drop out. The quitting point is painstakingly close to the finish line and, when measured in terms of percentage points, sits at approximately the last five percent of the race. The drop outs' hurdle is the last stretch of the race where the end remains hidden from view. It is here where athletes have been working for a long time that all the major mental and physical obstacles set in. Doubt, anxiety, disbelief, exhaustion, dehydration, hunger, the feeling of no end in sight and physiological stress compromise rational thought and convince many to throw in the towel.
While in Mysore last year, Evan and I had the great pleasure of attending this event at the gates of the Mysore Palace. This year, tapas yoga shala will particiapte as one of 114 events in 34 countries worldwide. Here's just a bit of info on this spectacular organization:
* Odanadi Seva Trust is a pioneering anti-trafficking organization based in Mysore, South India, working for the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of t...rafficked women and children.
* Today Odanadi runs two residential rehabilitation centres in Mysore, housing up to 85 women and young people at any one time.
For many of us, summer is a time that brings back pleasant memories of the carefree days of our youth.  These were the times before we had to take responsibility for attending to the details, such as paying the bills on time, that keep the utilities turned on and life flowing smoothly.
This is a time of year when it is common to find ourselves feeling a sense of overwhelm.  Daylight is dwindling and our energy is on the wane.  At the same time, social and familial obligations for many of us are on the rise.  Whether we enjoy holiday gatherings or not is beside the point.  Either way, we are being asked to dig deeper into our energetic reserves at a time when our bodies--and our minds--might prefer to hibernate.
If you find yourself having a difficult time mustering the enthusiasm to attend yet another holiday function, or feeling particularly averse to going to a party that you do not think you will enjoy, it may be helpful to bear in mind the larger context behind any social gathering:
NAMASTE,
It's such a cliché to remark on the speedy passage of time. Nonetheless, I have to trot out the "how time flies" line to comment on the arrival this year of Unity Woods' 30th anniversary. To tell you the truth, things are tumbling by so fast and there so much going on that I might have missed noticing it altogether had I not been prompted by the ubiquitous accolades to local (and national) media star, Diane Rehm, on her 30th anniversary. That's when I said to myself, "Hey, Unity Woods has been around for 30 years, too."
"Sharon
 

28 Day Meditation Challenge
Anyone up for joining me for a challenge?   How about a month-long meditation challenge?  I'll go easy on you, we'll pick the shortest month of the year.
Hi all!
We had a beautiful class Saturday. Fine yogis moving in and out of 'one legged dogs', working against the wall and some even kicking up towards handstand- it was a wonderful experience. It took lot's of courage and strength and was very inspiring!
The weather, being particularly unstable, warm then cold, steady then windy and still dark, is a sure sign that change is all around. When we practice handstands we mimic that change. And when we pay attention to our practice we see how we are affected by change. Do you welcome the opportunity with creative vision or do you dig in and try and remain stable and steady. Just good information to have.
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.
"Mindfulness" is a word that is seen and heard more and more often these days, and the simplest definition is usually that mindfulness means to pay attention to what you are doing at the moment; do one thing at a time, and do it well. This is true, but our practice of mindfulness often stays at a pretty superficial level, and we may fail to grasp how powerful and life-saving the practice can really be. The primary purpose of mindfulness practice is to prevent the mind from running wild and always keeping us at a distance from where we are right now. Every spiritual tradition reminds us that "right now" is all that exists.
Dear Family,
A friend wrote recently that she was in a deep funk and feeling low. I was about to reply with an encouragement for her to realize that these are hard times for most of us on Planet Earth, and it is understandable that she will feel her own share of these hard times, and for her to try not to take those feelings as a personal crisis, but rather as her "portion of the cross" that we are all bearing. I was going to point out that instead of making her feel tight or further separating her from others, her blues can actually soften her heart and expand her compassion and sense of unity.
All of us at Human Kindness Foundation had a rare privilege when we brought the Vietnamese Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced Tic Not Hon), into his first American prison to talk with inmates and staff about the practice of deep mindfulness. We chose Maryland Correctional Institution at Hagerstown for this special event because Bo had been there recently and had been very moved by the spiritual sincerity and strength of the prisoner community. Many of the prisoners have taken the Alternatives to Violence Project training and have been involved with our books and tapes as well. (Special thanks to Emma Lou Davis, of CCSC in Hagerstown, for coordinating the whole event).
"Humanity grows more and more intelligent, yet there is clearly more trouble and less happiness daily. How can this be so? It is because intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom.
When a society misuses partial intelligence and ignores holistic wisdom, its people forget the benefits of a plain and natural life. Seduced by their desires, emotions, and egos, they become slaves to bodily demands, to luxuries, to power and unbalanced religion and psychological excuses. Then the reign of calamity and confusion begins.
Learning to decipher what is important in life is a key ingredient in creating a life of happiness, balance, and joy, and yoga trains us how to do this. Students usually come to yoga first for the physical benefits, although it soon becomes apparent that yoga has profound effects on the psyche as well. Yoga teaches focus and concentration, and over time these skills have the effect of reducing mental clutter. In class, for instance, instructors draw students' attentionto the specific muscles and actions that are important in doing a particular pose. An
often overlooked benefit of a home practice is that students begin to make these choices for themselves.
I have discovered the secret of a happy life! It came to me again recently while vacuuming. I say "again" because we all know this truth, but most of us overlook it. My husband Dave and I were having friends over for dinner. He was cooking, and I was in charge of cleaning the house, not usually my favorite job. I put the Three Tenors on the CD player and cranked it up. As I vacuumed and listened to the music, I became totally immersed in the job, enjoying seeing the dust bunnies, pet hair, and various other interesting objects disappear into the vacuum cleaner. I continued cleaning for a couple of hours, singing away, marveling at the improvements appearing before my eyes.
Six Years ago I attended an Intermediate/Advanced Yoga Workshop taught by John Friend in Utah. We practiced all kinds of challenging and unusual poses, as well as the more typical postures. One day John had me demonstrate Adho Mukha Vrksasana, the Handstand Pose. I love this pose and have practiced it for years. However, he had me demonstrate in the middle of the room. He caught my legs as I kicked up and helped me find my balance and maintain it for about a minute in the middle of the room.
I recently attended the Anusara Certified Teachers Gathering in Denver, CO. A group of 150 certified teachers came together for 5 days of inspiring practices led by Anusara founder John Friend and transformational presentations by Paul Muller, an internationally recognized scholar in the field of Tantric philosophy. One of the major emphases in Anusara is to take our yoga off the mat and into the world, so that we are living our philosophy that we are all part of One Big Spirit. To that end, John invited the Karma Krew to come to our gathering. Karma Krew is a yoga-inspired non-profit organization created by two like-hearted yoga teachers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
We are in challenging times with the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression, 2 wars, international terrorism, and global climate change. People are worried about their finances, keeping their jobs and homes, and the bleaker future that may face their children and grandchildren. Research has shown that stress is a major risk factor in just about every disease and physical condition. One of the most intelligent choices you can make in these stressful times is to invest in your most precious resource: your health and well-being. Making that investment through yoga benefits all aspects of your being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Discipline is one of those qualities that many of us wish we had more of! In fact, a study several years ago listed lack of discipline as one of the most common regrets as people looked back on their lives. My favorite definition is framed on the wall in the yoga center and in my office: Discipline is remembering what you want. This definition established discipline from the inside out, so it's an inspiration rather than a control imposed from the outside in.
Use the heat of your attention to cleanse your consciousness: KRIYA YOGA
Kriya means "action", or "deed"; Kriya practice is the "divine action" of purifying your consciousness.
We are Pure Consciousness. But in the manifest world, as our consciousness mixes with the senses, it is influenced by the limits of those senses. The more the two mix, the more we begin to identify with and believe we are that limited perception of the world.
Summer is the Pitta or Fire Season of the Year. The time to fully blossom and express ourselves. The time when everything seems to be happening at once! Those of us who tend to run hot need to slow down and cool off. Others may use this time of year to purify by heating the body up to perspire and cool down.  Luckily the practice of Yoga Asana (poses) and Pranayama (breath awareness) offer us ample practices to chill. 

Last night we had dinner with our friend and musician, Alex Schein, who is currently recording in our studio. Alex uses his music to promote peace and raise awareness of international issues. He is a very uplifting individual. Inevitably, however, our dinner conversation turned toward current events and Alex introduced us to the increasingly common practice of fracking. Needless to say, we all became a little depressed. Alex, ever the orator, continued to be upbeat and encouraged us to get our stories out there.
Attitude of GratitudeNovember is Gratitude Month at iHanuman. Our intention is to make gratitude a daily practice, and in an effort to set that practice in motion we are encouraging you to join us by posting something that you are grateful for every day during the month of November.
Photo Credit: J. Glide
John Schumacher in Arm BalanceNamaste! Ahhh August! In the Southeastern US its as if the whole earth has given a sigh of relief. Although, it cooled off,�Â�  it has been so dry that we are beginning to lose leaves! A reminder that it has been a fiery hot summer and we need to explore cooling practices and keep hydrated to stay in balance. iHanuman has stayed out the heat this last month to bring you a new home page! Let us know what you think!

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