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Journal Post

Finally, in February, we welcome the return of the light with Candlemas on Feb 1 - the midway point between the Winter Solstice & the Spring Equinox. You may have noticed an increase in energy as the days become lighter and lighter. Hopefully, you have spent some time in reflection and are starting to feel the call to begin to plant seeds to grow your vision for the New Year. And it's ok to move slowly, like the Groundhog, and return to your Winter's nest for a few more weeks.
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!
Cool Down, Chill Out and Help Others! Everything feels as if it bursting at the seems right now. This is appropriate for Summer, the peak season for growth and maturity. Anyone having a hard time sitting still? We are knee-deep in our site upgrade and we are so CLOSE! When things are heating up, turn your thoughts to someone you can help. Show love and compassion for another. Take your attention off of yourself and notice the cooling, calming effect this has on your well-being.
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!
Life is good. As free, joyful, and creative expressions of the One, we are blessed to be embodied in this life. Life is a magnificent gift of the Divine, not some sort of karmic punishment, nor something we need to transcend. Indeed, it is through our limited physical form that we are able to experience our Unlimited Being.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
"We are here to love each other, serve each other,
and uplift each other" -Anonymous
It is with practice and self-inquiry that we come to understand how yoga is much more than a series of poses and breathing exercises. In fact, we see quite clearly that the practice is about relationships, to one another and most importantly to ourselves. With continued practice we learn to serve others, creating an atmosphere of compassion, acceptance, and tolerance, and a more peaceful way of living.
See only love-a very simple, yet powerful statement. It is easy to see love when we are peaceful and happy. When we are filled with joy, it is natural to open our hearts and express our love to the world.  Love can come very easily, but can also challenge us as well.
Often we fall prey to these challenges and allow ourselves to become angry, frustrated and confused by others.  Whether there's an angry caller on the line, a co-worker is not cooperating, or a loved one is placing blame, in instances like these, we must see only love.
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.
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.
From Top Chef to Judge Judy's Courtroom Theater to the Tragedy of Tosca drama sells. At its best drama entertains, teaches and makes people laugh. At its worst it brings out division, hurtfulness and hatred. Yet human beings are somewhat enthralled with the ups and downs of their own emotions. You might even venture to say that we are addicted to them. It is all too easy to get dragged down into the habit pattern of the mind's sometimes sordid past when emotions flare and all too hard to choose the higher, more peaceful ground above. There is truth to the notion that our inner world is a kind of jungle in need of healing.
Now is a time for embracing the Darkness.  In a literal sense, the nights have become longer and colder; in a figurative sense, Hallowmas and the days that follow are the time of year when the veil between our world and the underworld is most transient, and when we are best able to shed light not only on our ancestral spirits, but also on the darkest corners of our own soul.
"Love with our whole hearts, even if there is no guarantee."  - Brené Brown.
"Sharon
  ,"If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher."
It's not what is poured into a student that counts, but what is planted.
- Linda Conway It is awe-inspiring to watch how a sequence of poses can infuse students with energy, or calm them down, or engage their full attention, or invoke a deep relaxation response. The way we teach asana (postures) is important and I love to discover what works with teenagers and share it with you. However, many teachers are encountering road blocks in making their classes appealing and wondering why their classes are not retaining students.The answer is complex but there is a fundamental principal to teaching yoga to teens worth discussing and well-timed with the approach of Valentine's Day. Simply put, it's love.
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
A great sage has withdrawn from this physical realm to go back to the Infinite Source, but his spiritual presence will now be everywhere and will continue to help, guide and inspire all. On May 6, 2011 on Manikoot mountain, deep within the Himalyas, beloved Master and the parapara Guru of our school and lineage, Sri Swami Kailashananda Maharaji entered Maha Samadhi.
Presented by Chandra Om to her Guru, Dharma Mittra, at the Guru Purnima Celebration, 2007
Discipleship of an enlightened sage is an amazing journey. Dharma Mittra is such a being.
Kirtan is the practice of devotional chanting, the coming together to sing God’s glories and elevate one’s consciousness from the mundane to the Divine. The uplifting vibrations created by singing the names of the Lord purifies the mind and stirs the heart.
Kirtan gives strength and awakens nobility. It harmonizes the nerves and eradicates doubt. By reflection and worship of God, love, serenity and compassion are greatly increased, promoting a positive and pleasant temperament. The cosmic harmony and divine intoxication the Sadhaka acquires through Kirtan removes the erroneous ideas of birth, death, bondage, and all dualities.
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
As we step into spring, we move forward out of darkness and into light. Flowers bloom and babies are born. It is a time of renewal.  If you're like me, there are times when your practice has become routine and lackluster. Stale. Even boring.  Use spring as a time to introduce a new sense of play and investigation into your practice.  Take this time to address a pose or series of poses that are challenging to you and approach them without attachment. I particularly like arm balances and inversions(who doesn't love a little handstand at the wall at impromptu moments?) but any remix of your old routine will do.  Always do triangle first? Maybe make a pact not to do it for the next week.
Jesus in word and deed was almost violent in his call for death, for denial, for stripping, for abandoning, for letting go, for leaving all, for the journey up by going down. . . . This whole dialogue runs deep in us and all things. One could say, with complete honesty, that life is really no more than a series of heart-breaking good-byes, so full is it of having and letting go, of embracing and parting.
-- from My Song is of Mercy by Father Matthew Kelty
I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high wall that I was imprisoned; no, it was God who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell but it was not the tree, I knew it was God. It was God whom I saw standing there and holding over me His shade. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a bed and felt the arms of God around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover...It was not the magistrate whom I saw, it was God, it was God who was sitting there on the bench. I looked at the Prosecuting Counsel and it was not the Counsel for Prosecution that I saw; it was God.
- Sri Aurobindo, 1908
Go ahead, light your candles and burn your incense and ring your bells and call out to God, but watch out, because God will come, and He will put you on His Anvil and fire up His Forge and beat you and beat you until He turns brass into Pure Gold.
- paraphrased from Saint Keshavadas
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?
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.
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:
More and more of our prison friends are spending time on lockdown during this difficult age. Many of them feel frustrated that they cannot do anything to help others. But we can all help others. Praying for others is very real and, depending on the strength of our minds, can be very powerful as well. Below is one specific "goodwill meditation" you can use at a regular time each day which will benefit others during times you are unable to be in closer contact.
From a talk given by Bo Lozoff at a meditation center in Tallahassee, FL, December 11, 2005.
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.
In September I read a seminal book that I found transforming: Waking the Global Heart by Anodea Judith. I could hardly put it down! It spoke to me at a deep spiritual level and validated many ideas that I've been contemplating. We've chosen it for discussion at our next book club meeting on February 12 and I will be presenting a short overview of the book. If this resonates with you, please join us!
Sometimes it's nice to site back and reflect on where we have been and where we are now...My husband and I moved to Florida from Virginia five and a half years ago, after he retired. Initially I kept my yoga center in Virginia and went back regularly to run it, so I did not start teaching in Florida right away. However after comparing winter up north with winter down here, I sold my yoga center and decided to focus on Florida! In August of 2000 an opportunity came up to teach in the community where we live. We initially offered two morning classes, with my husband Dave teaching one class and me the other; we had a total of 18 students.
There are several characteristics about a good yoga class that produce the magical experience of yoga. The instructor facilitates a space for students to do three things in particular:
- to slow down
- to pay attention
- to listen in
Just walking into the yoga center begins the process of calming down. After a few visits walking through the doorway becomes an automatic trigger to take a deep breath and allow the spinning wheels of the mind to start slowing down. Ahh ... we're here! We've come to an oasis. We can give ourselves a respite from our hectic lives. We can finally relax and be totally present with ourselves.
In Tantric philosophy, the gunas, rajas, tamas, and sattva are  qualities of nature that come about as matter develops. They then go on to influence our entire lives. Each guna can be identified in us as a certain state of being. When one is rajasic, one tends to be activated, judgmental and heated.  When tamasic one tends to be lethargic, depressed, and lacking in self-confidence. When sattvic one becomes balanced, understanding and compassionate.
Green Yoga
I have mentioned before that I lost my mother at an young age. It was a devastating time to lose her, but from my perspective, any time is devastating. In an ideal world, your mother is the one who is there to pick you up when you fall and tell you that everything is going to be all right. She is your biggest fan and she is always looking out for what is best for you. I know this is the ideal and even those of you whose mother is alive and well, did not have this experience. But what if we could turn this around and treat each other with the kindness of the archetypal mother?
Support Your Spirit
Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1923 - 2009) RAM RAM SATYA HAI OM NAMAH SHIVA http://www.yogavision.net/home.htm
Awakening and enlightenment are two of the most objectified and misunderstood signposts along the spiritual path. Often construed as something outside yourself, many true and genuine seekers mistake the process of gaining spiritual insight as a process of looking for the missing element in their own being. Yet awakening cannot occur to anything outside the realm of what already exists in your own being. Or else, by definition, it would not be awakening.
Lord ShivaHappy July Friends! iHanuman has been busy this month working on upgrading our website to offer our teachers and students new web features and communication tools, so we do not have a new feature this month, but we do have 6 new video classes with Anusara Yoga Teachers Betsey Downing, Ph.D and Jaye Martin.
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