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Journal Post

“Yoga is a science which liberates one's mind from the bondage of the body and leads it towards the soul." – BKS Iyengar, Tree of YogaMany scholars have searched for the date of the first reference to yoga, but BKS Iyengar reminds us in The Tree of Yoga, that Yoga, like Ayurveda, is apauruseya, not given by man. "Brahma is the Founder of Yoga” and also "Lord Siva is the Founder of Yoga, which he first taught to his wife, Parvati." (156). Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy, which was organized by Patanjali, in his classical work, the Yoga Sutras.“Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”
 "Where women are respected, there god dwells. Where women are disregarded, there all deeds go in vain." - Manusmriti Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women's Day. On this one day we honor the achievements of women around the world. We also recognize the unfathomable violations that women and girls still face to their basic human rights. Please take some time to acknowledge and appreciate the women in your life - mothers, sisters, grandmothers, daughters, yourselves.
Did anyone else feel like they wanted to start this year over? Thank God for the Chinese New Year, the first new moon of the Lunar Year. 2013 is the year of the Water Snake.  The moon takes close to 13 months to travel around the Earth. This New Year speaks more to me than the arbitrary day, December 31, marking the Earth's revolution around the sun. Imbolc, the Return of the Light, has just passed and with it the fact that we made it to the halfway point between the first day of Winter and the first day of Spring.
Over twenty years ago I walked into my first Ashtanga yoga class, a fairly stressed-out, exhausted, toxic, and depressed individual. An hour and a half later, I walked out, feeling relaxed, energized, happy, and cleansed from the inside out. Ever since that first class I've been fascinated by this transformative power of the practice, what I call the alchemy of Ashtanga yoga.
India! How can one begin to describe the experience of two weeks in this challenging, energetic and sacred land? Eight adventurous students, plus my husband, John, daughter Kate and I, embarked on our second Yoga Pilgrimage to the foothills of the Himalayas in December 2007.
Landing in the New Delhi airport after a 16-hour flight, we were immediately confronted with new and strange sights, sounds and smells. With our large bags stuffed into and on top of the small taxis, we were driven to a Delhi hotel for our first night in India.
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.
This is a question I have been getting more and more of lately, so I think I will write a bit...
Samtosha is the Sanskrit term for contentment - it is one of the guidelines of a Yogi seeking union with God. On a daily basis, there are a million opportunities for me to practice this, (enough to eat, enough sleep, enough this, enough that, enough). But there are some bigger feeling events happening that challenge my ability to find contentment as easily as I do when I stop eating when I am full, (instead of cleaning the plate).
During the time I write this, it is Thanksgiving, a time of thankfulness. I don't think we stop enough to remember how blessed we are. We (assuming this email goes out to residents of the US) are so privileged, it is really amazing. We have access to clean water, food anytime anywhere, I cannot remember ever knowing someone who truly was hungry, ever! From a yogic standpoint, perhaps we are all souls who chose this time (20th century) and this place (good ole USA) to grow closer to God. How can we remember to do that when abundance is shoved down our throats? We can make small changes in our purchases, our choices, our words.
It was a late lunch/early dinner (linner? Or lunner?) with a good friend, and after addressing and quickly solving a number of thorny issues that have troubled humankind for millennia, our attention wandered from swerve of shore to bend of bay and settled on the strange case of the Yoga Sutra. No one knows much of anything concrete about the origins and authorship of this little curiosity of about 1200 words, maybe 100 fewer than the Declaration of Independence. Estimates of its date of composition range anywhere from 200 BCE to 200 CE, its authorship, or more precisely compilation attributed to a semi-mythical figure named Patanjali.
We in the West think of historical time as running along a track, an arrow moving in one direction only, and each of us having, as the TV soap opera reminds us, one life to live. But in India, historical time is cyclical, running round and round like a Ferris wheel, each of us passing through many hundreds, even thousands of lives. Each turn of the wheel is called a kalpa, a period of time estimated at 4,320,000 human years. This may seem like an eternity to us, but to Brahma, the creator god, it's only one "day" and "night" in his life. It's estimated that Brahma's life span is 36,000 kalpas, which works out to 100 divine years.
I teach because I am inspired to do so. I teach because I feel compelled to share what I've discovered with others. I teach to learn. I teach to serve. I teach because I want to understand. I teach to give back all that has been given to me. I teach because it makes sense. I teach to know my Self better.
We are all student and teacher at the same time. No matter how big or small, we all continuously learn from one another. At the end of each class I thank my student's for their time, but really I thank them for the exchange that has just taken place. I thank them for the opportunity to impart some of this great wisdom to them. I thank them for all that I learn while I am teaching.
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.
In keeping with the four-word theme of the amazing iHanuman community, I thought it appropriate to write a few quick words for each as my first post. Love: We have a Thought Board at my office. It's a simple dry-erase board at the entry that everyone writes on. Some days there are random thoughts but most days there are questions. The other day the question was: Which is more powerful, love or hate? A seemingly simple question but, in reality, more thought provoking and discussion sparking than everyone was prepared for that day. It was amazing to witness. My answer: Love is infinitely more powerful than hate and love in numbers cannot be broken or challenged.
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.
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.
Arise, Awake, approach the teachers and know the Truth. The person who is blessed with a Guru knows the Highest. He whose devotion to the Lord is great, and who has as much devotion to the Guru as to the Lord, Unto him, that high-souled one, the meanings of the sacred texts stand revealed.
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.
Santosha is the result of complete faith and trust in God. A Yogi is always content. Through contentment one enters into deep meditation. Do not seek your happiness in the external, ephemeral world. External circumstances are ever changing and can never bring lasting happiness.
Of all the qualities to be cultivated by the Yogi, there is none higher than Satya. Satya is complete truthfulness, in which thought, word and act should agree. Satya does not twist or modify in any way.
God is truth. Truth alone prevails. Whatever you have heard or seen, it must be spoken of as it is. By living truthfully, the mind is purified and the Divine light dawns. A Sadhaka is of noble countenance—nobility is 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
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.
Aparigraha is the non acceptance of that which is not required for the maintenance of the body, and items that are considered luxurious and oftentimes binding due to the strings attached by he giver. The Sadhaka must be simple. Do not keep things that you do not need, and never take from life more than is needed for simple living. Lose any desire to have what belongs to others. Be always content and satisfied with whatever you have. Have Supreme faith in God.
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.
"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.
Asteya may be achieved through simple living. Steya (stealing) is the result of the inability to control desires for sense-pleasures. Desire is the root-cause for all stealing. When the mind and senses seek enjoyment, thoughts of theft arise as a means of obtaining and satisfying those desires. Desires lend an imaginary attractiveness to the object sought, slaying discrimination, and soon destroy the Yogi’s ethical foundation.
Stealing can occur on many levels. You may steal knowledge, without asking permission to use someone else’s ideas or forms of expression. Overeating or waste is stealing. Taking over a conversation or taking someone’s privacy is stealing.
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.
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.
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.
Svadhyaya is often translated as scriptural study, the actual reading of and reflecting upon the sacred books, as in the Vedas, Upanishads, Yoga Sutras, the Bible and other holy texts. This is preliminary Svadhyaya.
When done with concentration and faith, this form of Svadhyaya helps the student to maintain a psychic connection with the Masters who have authored these holy texts as well as the living link of the Gurus. These writings continually show the yogi the goal of yoga, and the practical steps that will lead them from the borrowed world of mortals and into the exalted spiritual state of God communion.
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
 
 
Happy New Year to you all. Salutations to the inmost Self residing in all beings. May this find you in good health and joy. As we approach the commencement of another year in this physical realm, the order of the day is clear. Worldly relations are transient, imperfect and impermanent. It is when we identify ourselves with these changing and impermanent relations that we experience attachment, pain and restlessness.
Om Namah Shivaya,
Happy New Year to you all. Salutations to the inmost Self residing in all beings. May this find you in good health and joy.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna imparts that all of nature is composed of three forces—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, collectively known as the Gunas. Continually in flux and intermingling, these three forces manifest in the material world as conditions present everywhere, existing in varying degrees of concentration and combination.
Depending on their singular or intermingled strength, they determine the nature, actions, and behavior in the material realm. They create delusion, desires, and attachment.
Ishvara Pranidhana is the essence of Yoga and the goal of spiritual aspirants. There is no higher practice. Devotion to God is renunciation of all actions and ego to the Lord. Lose all sense of “I”-ness, “me,” “the do-er”—all separateness. Renunciation and surrender of the ego is Ishvara Pranidhana.
Read more: http://ncschoolofyoga.com/library/new-year-message-2011#ixzz1Qm2UKvgc
North Carolina School of Yoga
 
Hari Om! At this auspicious time of the new year I send to you all my sincere heartfelt wishes for a bright and successful year ahead. May God bless you with spiritual aspiration, unfoldment and divine peace, bringing to you spiritual light and illumination.
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?
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,
Dear Family,
In the ancient Hindu epic The Ramayana, there's a passage where Rama, a young prince who is actually God born as a human being, is supposed to be made King the next day, and his people are the happiest people in the world because they love him so much. There's a classic line in this part of the story that I have remembered so many times in my life - "Many things can go wrong in the dark night before a King is made." How true!
There's an old Native American saying that I quoted in We're All Doing Time:
If you seek to understand the whole Universe, you will understand nothing. If you seek to understand yourself, you will understand the whole Universe.
Transcribed from a sermon Bo preached at the Ainsworth United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon.
Many of us say we have faith in God. We say we believe in prayer, we believe that God loves us and has a plan for our lives. But do we actually walk through the day feeling comforted, protected, and secure in those beliefs? Do we go to sleep at night knowing God is with us and is guiding us? Jesus said, "Take comfort and be of good cheer. I am with you always." Notice the two verbs, "take" and "be," suggesting that it is up to us. We must take comfort from His presence, not wait for it or hope for it. He is delivering the good news to our doorstep, but it is clearly up to us to open the door and let it in. So this practice is to take comfort in an active way.
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.
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.
A friend of mine got out of prison on the last day of 1997. He was thirty-seven years old and had been in prison since he was nineteen. Because he was on a 90-year sentence, he had spent his whole prison time in one old maximum-security facility in mid-Florida which has a very tough reputation.
In all those years, William (not his real name) was never encouraged to get a G.E.D. or any other education or skills training. There were precious few programs offered at his prison because all the inmates there had such long sentences, the state felt, "Why waste the money? They're never getting out of here."
"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.
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
A Simple Path, a book about Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity, describes some of the prayers they use in their spiritual practice. One especially caught my eye, because it seems to be specifically geared to letting go of our whole sense of the personal self.
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

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