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Journal Post

For thousands and thousands of years the Yoga sages have observed and taught their students that the mind is by nature "outward-turning." That is, it tends to flit about from thought to thought capriciously and from subject to subject like a cork bouncing about in the open sea. The trouble with that is some places the mind bounces into are whirlpools of non-constructive thinking. And as you know, many thought patterns bring with them accompanying emotions -- some of which are disturbing and even debilitating.

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.
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?
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?"
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.
My original intention for this month was to write about one of the pioneers of modern yoga, Shri Yogendra. But just this morning I received a newsletter from a yoga school-here unnamed-where I found a short essay, "About Yoga," that begins with: "Yoga is an ancient science practiced for thousands of years." Friends, as Joan Rivers says, can we talk? Let's start with "thousands of years." The Sanskrit word sanatva means "ancientness," it's an idea that's found everywhere in Hinduism.
We're a little early with our newsletter this month because we have a time-urgent message about our next Advanced Studies program. You might wonder about this: why "study" Yoga, isn't it more about "doing?" Well, that's the active way Yoga is mostly presented in the West, but traditionally study is an important element of the Yoga discipline, going back a good 2500 years. Every school of Yoga has its "doing" element-and it's not always just doing asana-but that doing is always based on some kind of vision or theory about the nature of the world and human consciousness.
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?
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.
Our life is short, yet a real sense of time eludes us. It is more common to get hooked on the world of sensory pleasure than to live a spiritual life. E-bay, appointments and shopping consume the grasping mind. Television seems calmer than silence. Pain and loss are more addictive than gratitude and joy.
From the Preface His Holiness Sri Yogi Dharma Mittra is a precious gem and a jewel among the highest and most exalted Yogis of time immemorial. For decades, seekers who wish to awaken to the Supreme Self through the Holy science of Yoga have turned to Dharma. In Sri Dharma, all aspirants find a remarkable simplicity and complete humility—a true friend to all and the most shining example of living Yoga.
Tapas is the individual process of intense, self imposed purification. Tapas is a burning desire for spiritual development—an intense faith that cultivates endurance, willpower and fortitude.
One of the literal translations of tapas is heat or fire. There is no greater purifier than fire. Fire removes the impurities and allows the golden radiance of what is true to remain, unclouded and unmasked.
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
Beloved Family, Om Namah Shivaya! Salutations to the Supreme Being who is the indweller in all hearts. It is with great joy I send this note to you. The Lord has blessed us again and again.
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?
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
Terry Dobson, an American martial arts master and former U.S. Marine, was a big, powerful man who learned nonviolence by studying the Japanese discipline of Aikido, which means "Way of Harmony." In Aikido, the emphasis is on restoring peace rather than winning a battle. Terry told many stories to illustrate that the "enemy" is usually no further away than our own mind and heart. This is one of our favorites:
The train clanked and rattled through the suburbs of Tokyo on a drowsy spring afternoon. Our car was comparatively empty - a few housewives with their kids in tow, some old folks going shopping. I gazed absently at the drab houses and dusty hedgerows.
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:
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.
Most people know yoga as a physical exercise system that increases flexibility and teaches them how to relax. However, yoga is a comprehensive discipline that encompasses principles for living in the world and practices to deepen spiritual life, in addition to achieving physical well-being. Yoga is a nourishing practice on all levels!
A survey of opinions on whether yoga is a religion offers a range of answers to suit any predisposition or bias. Passionate, polarized debates on 'what yoga is' surface time and again in books, on websites, and during awkward discussions with family members or friends trying to understand what it is that has drawn their loved one to this mysterious ancient practice. Is it religion masquerading as exercise? Eastern mysticism? A fitness regimen? Applied Hinduistic theism? A sister tradition to Buddhism? Pantheist philosophy? An atheist doctrine bent on sabotaging Christian beliefs?
I have to say, in many ways, I am grateful for a reprieve from the daily gratitude post, but it has also been an excellent discipline and learning process. Typically I write my morning pages every morning and move on with my day from there. But this month, I have had to stay put in my seat and write for another hour to get a Gratitude Post on iHanuman. And the fact that I am writing about gratitude has set the tone for the day. So I would like to keep as part of my daily ritual to contemplate what I am grateful for every day. It is also very possible to write a post every day and still get to work by 10am.
John SchumacherHappy Summer Solstice! Just as we asked you to invoke the goddess last month, the longest day of year begs us to inspire the fire inside that is masculine energy. Yang energy is strong, aggressive and passionate. It is the fiery energy of summer. Spiritually, we can practice tapas or discipline, austerity and consistency. Burn your internal fire to overcome difficulties and purify yourself to cleanse the toxins and feel your personal best level of health and vitality.
A Guru is a person whose very presence imparts truth and awakening in the disciple. When I traveled to Mysore for the first time at the age of 22 I asked Sri K. Pattabhi Jois where I could find the illusive state of inner peace that all yoga practice seeks to instill. Known as Guruji to his students, he said "You take it practice many years, then Shantih is coming... no problem" and my heart opened to the grace of his teaching. It is my great fortune to consider this amazing man my teacher and I attribute the depth of my personal practice and teaching to the light that Guruji's fire ignited within me.
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