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Journal Post

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!
As the yoga boom continues to grow and new studios pop up everywhere, the question arises of how to offer classes in order to appeal to both new and experienced students. Yoga studios usually choose one of two options for class registration. One option is class cards, where the student pays for a specific number of classes over a certain time period. This is often seen as most convenient for the student, as they can go to any class on the schedule without committing to any specific class.
As we see and feel the changes that take place in our body/mind from coming to yoga class each week, there's often a gradual stirring to begin to practice on our own. Our yoga evolves beyond a class we look forward to once or twice a week, and into a regular home practice in which the benefits of our yoga only multiply. It's actually in a home practice that we discover the nuances of the Principles of Alignment, and begin to feel what we need more or less of. Both I and my fellow teachers are very often asked: how might I go about developing a well-rounded practice that fits into my already busy life?
It was my great good fortune last Fall to attend a small yoga conference at beautiful Cavallo Point, just on the Marin side of the Golden Gate. One of the speakers there, Anne O'Brien, a local teacher, gave a fascinating talk about state of yoga teacher training here in the US, presenting in the process some innovative ideas about how such a program should be organized. I naturally began to think about the training program here at PYS, which was just beginning its third cycle in September 2009. Our two previous programs together graduated about 40 students, several of whom are now teaching here in one way or another.
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.
Yoga inspires us, moves us beyond our normal boundaries, and asks us to dedicate ourselves in new ways. Even if you are just beginning your yoga experience, you already know the unmistakable peace left in your body after an amazing session. If you are lucky enough to have a regular yoga practice already, then you have committed yourself on at least some level to the path of personal discovery.
In every yoga class, you renew your commitment to be present with ourselves. When you choose to create the time and space to practice yoga, you powerfully create the life that you want. Each breathe reaffirms your unwavering dedication to your own evolution.
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.
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.
 
We now find ourselves halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Earth-based spirituality celebrates the period from February 1st-February 4th by observing a holiday called Candlemas.  One of eight fire rituals in the traditional calendar, it marks an important time of purification and passage.  It is interesting to note its counterpart in the Christian tradition, in which the holiday Candlemas marks the ritual purification ceremony performed at the Temple of Jerusalem for the infant Jesus and his mother Mary.
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."
Sunday, February 3, 11 am-1 pm
On World Yoga Day, yoga teachers and schools around the world will donate their time and space to a two hour yoga session devoted to human rights in China through Amnesty International. Georgetown Yoga is proud to support this cause - we will be offering a 2-hour led Ashtanga Primary Series class (minimum donation $5). This extended length Ashtanga practice allows for more detailed instruction. An excellent class for those students looking to transition from our Beginning Ashtanga drop-in classes to our Ashtanga Primary Series classes! No sign up is necessary, all you have to do is show up. Space is limited so come early - doors open at 10:30am.
Question: Enlightenment, or being at one with the universal mind, must be very different than the concept of omniscience, or knowing everything about everything. Could you elaborate on the distinction? Or do you believe that one who is enlightened would also be omniscient?
All branches of yoga are in essence very similar. They are each suited for various temperaments. Their goal is the same, Self-realization. The inner silence of God communion is the goal of all the various paths. When identity with God is achieved, all distinctions cease. The Forms of Yoga
Of all the virtues involved in the science of yoga, there is none higher than ahimsa. Ahimsa is the golden thread that runs through all Yoga practice and is the foundation on which all Yogis build the Divine life. Practice of Ahimsa develops pure, unconditional and universal love. The one message of all saints and sages is the message of love. Ahimsa is the highest of all traits found in the mind, speech and actions of all perfected souls. There is only one religion—the religion of love, of peace. There is only one message—the message of unconditional and universal love. Ahimsa is the supreme duty of a Yogi. If you are established in Ahimsa, you have attained all virtues. All virtues spring forth from Ahimsa.
The foundation of yoga is Yama and Niyama. These are the moral and ethical guidelines of yoga; the first and second stages. The ethical and disciplinary precepts that serve as the Sadhaka's guidelines for right conduct in life. Applying these principles helps to purify the Sadhaka's actions and thoughts by removing Rajas and Tamas, so Sattva may prevail. The Yamas and Niyamas Click on any Yama or Niyama to read more. Yama Ahimsa (non-violence)Satya (truthfulness)Asteya (non-stealing)Aparigraha (non-hoarding)Brahmacharya (continence/celibacy) Niyama
Did you ever stop and wonder how you got here? Not here as in this website, but HERE, this spot in your life? How did I end up in this job? This relationship? How did I put on those extra 10 lbs?
In reflection we see that there were a lot of small choices that were made along the way. We may have had bigger dreams , but in the meantime, the groceries have to be bought, the bills need to be paid.....maybe sometime we'll get to those goals......right?
This practice can be a very powerful tool for letting go of false beliefs about who or what controls our moods. We recommend you take this vow for at least one month, and repeat it aloud at the beginning of each day. If possible, let a few friends know about your vow so that they can help remind you if you seem to be slipping.
I pledge to stop blaming others for my negative states of mind.
I pledge to stop blaming circumstances for my negative states of mind.
In 1973 a spiritual teacher named Ram Dass and I got together and talked about helping prisoners to use their time for spiritual growth. It was a quiet chat, no solemn pronouncements or bolts of lightning, no press releases or fund-raising campaigns. We just sat together on the lawn of the ashram where Sita and I were living with our two-year-old son, Josh, and mulled it over: "Wouldn't it be nice to do something to help?"
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:
Here's an almost effortless practice that will definitely change your life for the better if you are willing to commit just ten to twenty seconds a day to it. But first, a little background about how the brain works.
Transcribed from a sermon Bo gave at Unity of the Triangle Church in Raleigh, NC.
When I teach meditation, I'm a stickler for keeping the body still. In the Old Testament there is a curious passage that says, "Be still and know that I am God." Isn't that curious? Be still, not "be righteous," not "be busy," not "be productive," not even "be kind," but "be still" to know God. Do we make enough room for stillness in our lives to know God?
From a talk given by Bo Lozoff at a meditation center in Tallahassee, FL, December 11, 2005.
"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.
Many of us complain about how hard it is to start doing daily meditation or yoga, or to quit smoking or lying or biting our nails or masturbating or any number of things connected to "turning over a new leaf." We may make solemn resolutions, but within a short time we often find everything is back to the way it was. Then we gradually become cynical and conclude that we may as well give up; that "we'll never change."
Vow practice is more formal than making verbal resolutions. Most of us at Human Kindness Foundation work with vow practice and we have found it extremely helpful for making real and lasting changes.
People often come to yoga looking for a way to feel less stressed and more relaxed, and the practice of yoga can certainly make a significant difference. So much so, that I often wonder how people who don't know yoga and relaxation can manage when life gets bumpy! However, the potential benefits from yoga and relaxation training go far beyond just immediate stress relief. They change the lens through which we view our stressful life events, and thereby eliminate many stressful feelings at the source.
Most students report that they come to yoga because of strees; and certainly yoga can bring relief. However, yoga offers many more benefits in addition to relaxation, such as flexibility, strength, increased circulation to organs and glands (often resulting in enhanced health), better sleep, improved digestion, and a quieter and more centered mind. Over several years, this practice can add up to the true essence of yoga: living life with a joyful spirit and a peaceful mind in a relaxed and healthy body. Although these benefits are tremendous (and I have found as I get older they are truly priceless!), they cannot occur if students don't come to class.
July 20, 1969 was an historic day for our country and for the world. It was the day that we landed a man on the moon, and Neil Armstrong uttered his oft-quoted phrase, "One small step for man, one giant step for mankind".
We take space travel for granted now, but back then it was an awesome achievement. When President Kennedy set the vision in 1963 that we were going to the moon by the end of the decade, it was an almost unbelievable proposition. At the time the technology had not been developed to support the vision, but Kennedy had faith in the ingenuity and creativity of our NASA scientists and engineers. He trusted that they would be able to figure it out. He set the vision and the rest is history.
Happy Spring! Daffodils, Crocus, Forsythia and Peach Blossoms are already in bloom in the mountains of central Virginia! After months recharging our yin energy this winter, nature's feminine side is beginning to show its flowery wiles. Between now and Mother's Day is the time to infuse ourselves with the Feminine. iHanuman started off Women's History month with Women's Yoga Expert, Bobby Clennell. Next week we join Elise Miller for her training on Yoga for Scoliosis at the breathtaking Satchidananda Ashram in Buckingham, Virginia. We will be sharing recordings from both of those inspiring women's workshops very soon!
Last night was the full moon and I spent the entire day in ceremony. This full moon was a particularly auspicious one because it is the Full Moon of Initiation and the Lunar Celebration of the Beginning of Winter. Traditionally�Â�  all of the harvest had been stored for the winter and all debts for the year were paid. Traditionally ceremonies were held to release our shadow selves to the eternal flame that burns through the winter and let it burn in transformation for the spring. We release those parts of ourselves that no longer serve us so we can preserve energy for that which we want to flourish in the new year.
Leena Patel, Yoga Teacher and Meditation Practitioner from Las Vegas, Nevada submitted this free audio clip last week. Leena has been a seriously playful student and practitioner of yoga, Buddhism, philosophy and meditation since 1992. Listen to an enticing introduction before beginning your meditation practice. [audio:http://www.ihanuman.com/media/audio/Leena_Patel_The_3_Steps.mp3]
AHHH August! August brings the beginning of my favorite season of the year. The summer months are too hot and the winter months are too cold, but the end of summer and early fall are just right. My emotions are more balanced, my physical body feels more comfortable and everything just seems to flow more easily. Being out of balance can be very uncomfortable and unsettling. There are seasons of the year, cycles of the moon, transits in the sky and just periods in our lives that can bring us slightly out of balance. Two of these periods of life are Adolescence and Menopause.
Although some are talking about another 40 inches of snow this month, March is the month of the spring equinox and therefore heralds the beginning of spring. Until then, we are still in the water element and the end of the winter.
Butterfly PoseWhen determining which yoga pose to highlight today, I could not help but ask our Co-Founder, Peter Agelasto, what pose is his favorite yoga pose. Why? Because Today is his Birthday. He has given so much time, effort and resources to this project. He is the ultimate Karma Yogi.
Bhujangasana -Cobra Pose Open the heart and stretch the belly with Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose. Back bends stimulate the Kidney Energy and invigorate the heart. Back bends can counteract the effects of depression. During the winter, many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, because of the decrease in light. Back bends, when practiced correctly, elevate our mood. This gentle back bend improves digestion and creates flexibility in the spine.
My thanks to our conference co-coordinators and my dear friends, Patricia Walden and Linda DiCarlo, for their tireless efforts and their deep devotion that made this conference possible. Thanks also to all you workers and volunteers, in front of and behind the scenes for your invaluable and essential assistance. And, of course, thanks to all of you attendees for being here. Without you there wouldn't be any conference.
Fine tune your approach to Corpse Pose through an exploration of varying teaching philosophies.
By Sara Avant Stover
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!
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!
Devika Gurung was one of my first yoga teachers. I met her while traveling to India to study Yoga. But Devika had just returned from India and opened a Yoga Centre in Pokhara, Nepal. I decided to spend 6 weeks with her helping her with her Yoga Centre and learning English and in exchange I lived with her like she lived in the Ashram in India. We practiced Jala Neti in the morning, meditation, asana twice a day, karma yoga, yoga nidra, and pranayama. It was an incredible experience and helped me on my path towards a daily yoga practice. She is an incredible inspiration to women and yoga teachers everywhere. I was particularly inspired by her dedication to helping Nepalis study yoga.
Spring DahliaSpring is on the way! Breathing deeply feels like the right thing to do. Continuing to stay centered from the internal reflection of winter and beginning to feel the expansion of spring as the days stay lighter longer and the sun feels a little bit warmer each day. Spring is a great time to cleanse the body with natural herbs, teas and water and a great time to renew your commitment to your regular daily practice.
Traditional Hatha Yoga, as it's described in the school's oldest surviving instruction manuals, is an odd-looking duck, at least to our modern Western eyes. Take the granddaddy of these books, Svatmarama Yogendra's Hatha Yoga Pradipika (literally "Light on the Forceful Union-Method"), which is a venerable 600 years old, possibly older. It consists of 389 verses divided into four chapters on asana, pranayama, mudra ("seals") and bandha ("bonds"), and samadhi or enstasis. We moderns might expect the longest chapter would be on asana. And why not?
Global MalaThe Global Mala Project is a day-long event honoring the Autumnal Equinox and the UN International Day of Peace. September 21 also marks the beginning of YomKippur - the Jewish High Holiday which marks their deepest day of intimacy with the Divine. It is a powerful time on earth and a powerful time to collectively bring energies together. The center of the event will be hosted at the Solar Powered Convention Center in Los Angeles, by such well-known teachers as Shiva Rea, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Sean Corn, Julia Butterfly Hill and many others.
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