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iHanuman

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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.

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!
This is a question I have been getting more and more of lately, so I think I will write a bit...
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.
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:
How to work with, not against, your fellow yoga instructors
Many of us turned to yoga for its promise of happiness. The four walls of a studio and its community of like-minded Sun Saluters offered solace from the rat race outside. When we stepped onto our yoga mats, we stepped intoa world where joy and harmony reigned.
Later, we became yoga teachers. Sometimes this entailed leaving behind careers that brought big paychecks (for some) an even bigger burnout (for most). Ready to serve students by offering them the scrumptious fruits of yoga, we were bright-eyed, enthusiastic, and, in hindsight, naive.
Find out why gender-specific classes can provide an inspiring teaching experience while attracting an appreciate audence.
As teachers, we can be artists who sculpt experiences for our students through words we use to teach a pose, the music we play during class, or even the ways we decorate our studios. We can also create a more meaningful experience by opting to teach to targe audiences.
This is not a new concept. A glance at any studio's schedule offers us plenty of options: Basics, Level 2/3, Hot Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Mysore, Meditation. Rarely, however, do we see options such as Women's Yoga or Men's Yoga listed.
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.
The old saying "when it rains, it pours" seems ironically fitting for the past few weeks of my life. I've been knocked around by the Universe a lot more than I'd care to admit, and to be honest, I've had a hard time letting go. Of course, the logical part of me knows that these setbacks are only temporary, reminding myself that this too shall pass. However, the emotional side of me has had a hard time releasing and surrendering to the path before me. I've tried just about every meditation, pranayama, and visualization technique in my arsenal and hardly anything has worked to pull me out of my deep despair.
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.
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.
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?
Food is not who you are. It is a way you communicate with the world. You express things through food, through eating, like you do through any art form, but it nevertheless is not who you are at your deepest essence. Your eating habits are merely habits, not your life or your vitality, though they may seriously enhance your life, your energy levels and your overall health.
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?
Every argument with your partner, every honk in a traffic jam and every annoying TV host gives you the chance to check in with yourself to see where you really stand on the inner plane of reality. It's easy to postulate the choice of peace over war, but in the midst of a heated stand-off we are often more interested in being right than in being peaceful. Whenever you care more about the validity of your argument over the connection with the person you're with, the hard truth of the matter is that you would rather be right than be at peace.
It's easy to seem peaceful in the quiet cave of your own mind. It's much harder to face the test of integrating your learning with your life. No matter how peacefully you might leave your daily meditation or yoga practice, there is nothing like a seemingly callous or thoughtless comment from a friend to trigger the stickiest habitual patterns.
Confrontation is a grey zone on the spiritual path. Should you fight your way out of a defeatist victim-mentality? Or should you take a few breathes to ventilate your hostility before taking your inner rage out on your fellow freeway drivers? When is it appropriate to stick up for yourself & when is it time to quietly wait out the storm?
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.
Is each individual on Earth responsible for their own life experience? Or are other people to blame when they are angry, tired, tedious, envious, rude, selfish and just down right mean? How do you make space for other people's roll through the rollercoaster ride of life when it bumps right up against your happy day at the park?
Brahmacharya is not merely the life of celibacy and spiritual study, but the purification of all the senses. The practice of brahmacharya is the vow of abstinence for all sense objects, in particular mentally. Overeating, oversleeping, overtalking and dwelling on, or longing for sense objects are all breaks in brahmacharya. Purity and freedom from lust in thought, word and deed is an essential part of the vow, however. It is freedom from sexual thoughts and sexual urges.
Saucha is perfect purity in body, thought and action—internal and external cleanliness. Internally, saucha allows the mind and body to be free of all impurities so that they may reflect the highest spiritual truth.
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
"May the Lord bestow upon us the Divine way to obtain Ahimsa" 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 inner spiritual life. The one message of all saints and sages is the message of unconditional love. Practice of ahimsa develops this pure, unconditional and universal love, and 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.
Dear Family,
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.
"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.
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.
It's not too late to start over! Did you rise on January 1, 2012! with the best of intentions and then life just started to take over and you lost some steam? This is just a reminder that you can start your new year over anytime you want! In fact, it may feel more authentic to you to take this time now between the full moon and the upcoming new moon to reset your intentions. This is when the Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first new moon of the year.
Today we shifted our life around literally and figuratively. Literally because we are moving spring and summer clothes up to the attic in favor of the warmer variety.�Â�  We did so just in time for our first heavy frost last night of 25 degrees! And I am just about to receive many boxes from my childhood which were waiting for us to create space. In some senses it feels like a grandiose task. Figuratively because this is what happens when you move things around.
Today was the full moon and I spent the entire day in ceremony. It was the final day of our herbal medicine class. The ceremony was one of my favorite aspects of this class. We brought it into every day by brewing herbal teas, lighting candles and gathering in circles over the course of nine months. The idea of coming together as a community, a tribe or a counsel harkens back to ceremonies of yore when everything was sacred. If you did not hold ceremony before planting this year's crop, you could not expect a good yield.
I have decided over the past few years to do a better job of scheduling around my moon time. Of course, there is always work to be done that cannot be avoided, but perhaps it can be postponed to a more appropriate time. In many ways, I have no other choice, as I have fairly painful menstrual cycles, so I am forced to stay present with them. Many of my wise elder female teachers speak about this time not only as a preparation for conceiving and motherhood, but also for Menopause. The emotions, feelings and thoughts that come up are aspects that may tend to cause imbalances down the road when Progesterone and Estrogen become scarce.
I used to feel uncomfortable expressing any acknowledgment of my monthly menstrual cycle to anyone but myself. I know I am not alone in this. Not only do people get squeamish at the thought of blood, but the idea of it coming from "Down There! Good Heavens!" And on top of that we are taught by society to ignore that which makes us part of the Feminine Divine Creative Essence of the Universe. There is immense power in this so we are not encouraged to access it or own it.
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.
You create your reality by the thoughts that you think. Your attention is itself responsible for your life experience. No matter how awful the traffic jam is, how loud your neighbors are, how inconsiderate people may seem, how delayed the airplane is, you are the one who is in control of your reality.
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