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Journal Post

  Good health and happiness are our birthright. Don’t trade it away.   According to Yoga sages, the three main causes of disease are stress, toxins, and bad eating habits.

Here are some good eating habits advised by the sages:
When I first began teaching yoga in 1981, yoga wasn't exactly entrenched in the mainstream as it is now. I had been meditating for four years and doing asana out of a book daily. There was never a thought about becoming a yoga teacher, as I had four children, ages 7-14, and it was all I could do to stay afloat and meet my commitments as an Air Force wife and mother. My daily meditation practice helped more than anything else to keep me on a fairly even keel during those challenging days.
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).
It may seem complicated to manage the needs of parents and their children in a yoga setting, but parent and child classes offer your students moments of calm and connection amid the chaos of parenting.
By Sara Avant Stover
Being a parent doesn't have to mean zero personal time and a slimmed-down social life. Today yoga classes are not just for the super-fit, super-flexible, and super-serious. Anyone and everyone can find a class that suits his or her needs-including parents and children.
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.
Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature's changing seasons. In lieu of fancy spas and healing retreats, they relied on plants, prayer, and rituals to heal themselves. Today, we've lost our connection to that wisdom. The frenzied pace of the modern world, our increased exposure to environmental toxins, and a growing alienation from nature have caused most of us to fall out of alignment with an optimal state of health and happiness. But each new year brings another opportunity to perform the time-honored ritual of internal cleansing. Spring, which celebrates rebirth lasts approximately from March 15 to May 15 in the Ayurvedic calendar, is the perfect time for detoxification.
Jyotisha: The Yoga of the Cosmos
Interview with Dr. Katyayani Poole, Ph.D
By Sara Avant Stover
She hadn't spoken to her brother in three years. Despite being a dedicated yoga teacher and practitioner and serving as Core Power's Colorado regional manager, Heather Peterson couldn't find the tools to mend this familial divide.
"All of the other work I've done to heal this relationship" she revealed, "are interesting and good, but to understand things from a larger, karmic perspective through Jyotisha (pronounced joe-teesh-ah) helped me to make bigger changes."
One of the magazines that I subscribe to is "Body + Soul"--because it is beautiful to look at AND it has really great articles. I recently read an article in one of the issues called "Happy in Hard Times," by Frances Lefkowitz. And, since one of my passions is on the pursuit and emergence of happiness, I of course gave it a read.
The author gives 7 essential tips to rebound from a setback--super important for all of us! How to we get back on our feet after a bad fall? How do we stand in our own power again instead of playing the victim? (And, yes, sometimes it does feel good to wallow and wimper, we just don't want to hang out in that place for too long!).Here's what she says:
I reviewed my first video for Yoga Journal in 1991, and since then I've reviewed at least a couple in every single issue for the last 18 years. Just this year I reviewed my 300th video (though I've probably watched at least half again as many that didn't pass muster), and by some strange alignment of planets or more likely some cosmic comedy of karmas, it was a presentation by our very own Rod Yee.
No sooner than I heard the words "you already know" then I realized that becoming a yoga teacher would change my life forever. A light bulb immediately went off during my training and the sheer power of this statement resonated so deeply with me that I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. When I am faced with the fluctuations of life, the anxieties of the unknown, and the temperance of ambitions, I stop to breathe and listen, and remind myself that "I already know."
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.
Stepping on to your mat for the first time can be a daunting experience. The excitement of trying something new, moving your body in ways you've never imagined, and stretching your limits can be exhilarating, if not overwhelming. The same can be said for more practiced students, who with time and experience may feel ready to push beyond their limits, but end up feeling frustrated when they cannot "go beyond."  That being said, whether you're brand new or you've been practicing for many years now, following are a few tips to keep in mind whenever you come to your mat.
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.
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.
When we begin practicing yoga the deepest part of our consciousness asks for clarity, awakening and truth. What is sometimes the first step in taking positive steps towards the peace that we all yearn for is a recognition of exactly how deeply we are entrenched within our ways of warfare. Yoga for example can sometimes be riddled with fierce competition. You might find yourself competing with a new yoga practitioner in your daily class who is naturally very flexible. Or you might find yourself competing with yourself and comparing your body in a negative light with the way it was last year, last week or yesterday. Yet still you might be competing with your friends and peers.
Do you ever find yourself holding on so tightly to a desired outcome that you are a filled with anxiety, tension or blind ambition? Have you ever wanted to do a yoga posture so badly so that you are literally obsessing about it and can talk of almost nothing else? This is perhaps the definition of unhealthy attachment at its core. Yet at the same time the driven mind directed at a task at hand is one of the most powerful tools we have to change our lives. So the question then becomes not how to rid ourselves of our desires or our drive but instead how to train our mind to work towards our desires without the unnecessary tension of attachment.
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.
A couple of newsletters back I wrote about how the Unity Woods logo came into being and what my thinking was in creating it, and the significance of the various components. As there wasn't space then to talk about the three words that appear at the points of the triangle, I said I would do so in subsequent newsletters. In the last newsletter, I discussed the relevance of the first of the three words: health. Now we come to the second: serenity.
  ,"If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher."
"Love with our whole hearts, even if there is no guarantee."  - Brené Brown.
 

28 Day Meditation Challenge
Anyone up for joining me for a challenge?   How about a month-long meditation challenge?  I'll go easy on you, we'll pick the shortest month of the year.
"Sharon
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.
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
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.
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.
In the past several months as I've been speaking across the country, many people have approached me and asked with some degree of excitement in their voices, "Bo, have you seen The Secret yet? Oh, you'll love it! It will change the world! Let people know about this!"
All of us at Human Kindness Foundation had a rare privilege when we brought the Vietnamese Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced Tic Not Hon), into his first American prison to talk with inmates and staff about the practice of deep mindfulness. We chose Maryland Correctional Institution at Hagerstown for this special event because Bo had been there recently and had been very moved by the spiritual sincerity and strength of the prisoner community. Many of the prisoners have taken the Alternatives to Violence Project training and have been involved with our books and tapes as well. (Special thanks to Emma Lou Davis, of CCSC in Hagerstown, for coordinating the whole event).
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
"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.
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?"
The perspective of Tantric philosophy is to use everything in life as a means for awakening. Events in our lives can be catalysts to open us to our True Nature of consciousness and bliss. It is especially useful to view life's most powerful events through the Tantric lens.
Learning to decipher what is important in life is a key ingredient in creating a life of happiness, balance, and joy, and yoga trains us how to do this. Students usually come to yoga first for the physical benefits, although it soon becomes apparent that yoga has profound effects on the psyche as well. Yoga teaches focus and concentration, and over time these skills have the effect of reducing mental clutter. In class, for instance, instructors draw students' attentionto the specific muscles and actions that are important in doing a particular pose. An
often overlooked benefit of a home practice is that students begin to make these choices for themselves.
Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again. Chinese inscription cited by Thoreau in Walden
Annie Carpenter shares her wisdom on APARIGRAHA the fifth of the five yamas, or disciplines, set out by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.
Tibetan Children's Education FoundationIn 1997, The Tibetan Children's Education Foundation built an education center and boarding hostel in Clement Town (in Northern India) for children of the exiled Tibetan community.
I woke up Sunday morning to an email message from my friends who were visiting from California saying, "I am so sorry that your event got rained out...." It did rain for the Yogathon and Blissfest. Hard, torrential rain. In retrospect, I am so glad it did. On event day, at 10:15a.m. Saturday morning I took 3 steps on the field at Thunderbird stadium and my flip flops became 'slip slops'... It was a wet field worthy of a brutal rugby match or for a medieval Excalibur type battle, but hardly the type of weather that would ever inspire people to come practice yoga outdoors and listen to live music.
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