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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”
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.
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!
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.
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.
Finding "the deeper pull of what you truly love" is the underbelly of what I teach. A lot of people might think it is self-indulgent to follow our passion, to work when we want to work, to rest when we need rest. But following our heart's deepest desire energizes us to "work tirelessly for the greatest good." Instead of struggling through our days trying to meet a set of ill-defined standards, waiting for things to get better, we can LIVE. But we have to choose to live free. The moment won't demand it. Life won't say to us, "You must be here, you must enjoy yourself, you must take advantage of every opportunity to choose joy." We have to do our part. We have to meet life part way.
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.
Remember, so much of who we are is conditioning. Media, family, culture all pressure us into conformity and consumerism during this time of year (even some yoga centers with enticing ads like 10% off!). However, being a conscious yogi, you can reduce stress greatly during this time with these reminders:
A dear friend who has a strong, clear and constant connection with the Central Desert Aboriginals of Australia gave this message to me. I pass it on to you.
They asked us to look into the starry night sky and bring the starlight into your eyes. Feel the light coming through the top of your head and draw the light down through your body and through your feet and root the light into the earth. They say that the earth needs intensified and descending starlight energy very badly and that we can bring it down.
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.
Until the age of 45, Bill McKeever had always been in the best of health. A student of Buddhism since the age of 21, a Yale graduate, the former director of Karmê Chöling, the former vice president of Naropa University, a Shambhala meditation teacher, and the father of four sons, Bill was not the type of person you would expect to be diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disorder known as Parkinson Disease (PD).Yet when his right hand began to inexplicably tremble nine years ago, Bill knew that something was amiss.
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.
Yoga as Usual in the Oasis
I almost forgot to brush my teeth this morning. Dishes are piling up in my sink; and for the first time in a long while, I didn't make my bed today.
Clearly, despite my best attempts to stay grounded, the DNC frenzy is having its way with me.
While this week has been electrifying, intense, and deeply inspiring, I will be happy to return to real life tomorrow. Simple acts like eating breakfast at home and sitting on my own meditation cushion (rather than the seat of the BX bus) seem like long-lost friends at this point. A lot has happened in four days.
Lull your students into deeper relaxation by integrating singing bowls to your teaching.
I sank into Savasana, wholeheartedly melting into stillness. Eyes closed, the once-distinct boundaries of my skin
dissolved while thoughts evaporated into a sleepy haze. Post-asana energy hummed and whirled through my limbs. My teacher sat in the front of the room, quiet, erect, cross-legged. With a singing bowl in hand, he circled the wooden wand around the bowl's rim, radiating a lullaby to the blissful yoginis in the room.
Those moments always felt like magic to me. Somehow the all-pervading sound of the bowl, like the mysterious
embrace of a whale's song, never failed to seduce me into deeper surrender.
Over time I am realizing that just because I am a yogini doesn't mean that I always have to look, act, or feel happy. Far from it. Rather, to be a yogini means being what is true. Not always easy in a culture where the answer to the question "How are you?" is most always followed by a perfunctory "Fine," even if you may just be having a bad day.
Over time I am realizing that just because I am a yogini doesn't mean that I always have to look, act, or feel happy. Far from it. Rather, to be a yogini means being what is true. Not always easy in a culture where the answer to the question "How are you?" is most always followed by a perfunctory "Fine," even if you may just be having a bad day.
As a yogi, the question is no longer, "What advanced pose can I do?", but "Can I walk my talk?"
In other words, can you live your yoga?
This is the challenge and the opportunity. Especially here at the DNC, where wheeling and dealing is the name of the game and the decisions of a few affect many.
Opening the Conversation
At a dinner party two months ago a friend brought a controversial (and important) topic to a table of yogis.
"How is everyone planning on getting involved in the elections this year?" he probed.
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.
Use your yoga teachings to inspire social change.
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:
The yogis have discovered that the whole universe is emitted, pervaded, and ultimately reabsorbed by sound, or to be more precise, a vibratory power that has both audible and inaudible dimensions. It may seem contradictory to talk about inaudible sound, though of course we're bombarded all the time with sounds we can't hear because of the inherent limitations of our sense of our hearing. But for the yogis, subsonic and supersonic sounds are still considered audible, since we can hear them if our hearing is amplified with special instruments. Instead inaudible sound refers to subtle, or what the yogis call "unstruck" sound.
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.
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.
After a month's hiatus, we return to the story of Yoga in the US. In the July newsletter we looked at one of the unsung female Yoga pioneers of the 20th century, Sita Devi Yogendra, and I promised you then more about our female trail blazers. So this month we'll visit with a woman whose life spanned the entire 20th century, and whose followers lovingly called her the "First Lady of Yoga."
It was my great good fortune last Fall to attend a small yoga conference at beautiful Cavallo Point, just on the Marin side of the Golden Gate. One of the speakers there, Anne O'Brien, a local teacher, gave a fascinating talk about state of yoga teacher training here in the US, presenting in the process some innovative ideas about how such a program should be organized. I naturally began to think about the training program here at PYS, which was just beginning its third cycle in September 2009. Our two previous programs together graduated about 40 students, several of whom are now teaching here in one way or another.
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.
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.
No matter how long you've been practicing yoga you are sure to be familiar with Anjali mudra (prayer position). By understanding the gesture of bringing "hands to heart center" as more than a physical act, you have the power to change your entire practice.
This weekend some of you may consider practicing 108 Sun Salutations to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox or to support the Global Mala Project, but have you ever stopped to think why it must be repeated 108 times? What's so significant about the number 108? Well...a lot of things!
108 is a sacred number found in many different religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, to name a few.  The malas we use when reciting mantra contain 108 beads, much like the Catholic rosary.  We practice 108 Sun Salutations at the Spring and Fall equinox to mark the changing of the seasons. The number 108 is all around us, all of the time.
Maybe this post will be a little too forward, but in the interest of learning and growing I felt I had to share an experience from today. I know that as I continue on my journey to do good, live good, and be good, these karmas will continue to work themselves out and I will eventually find myself closer to my dharma. This is me, being the Capricous Yogi that I am.
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.
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?
I meet lots of yoga students who want to practice more often but just can't find the time. When I ask if they practice at home the answer is almost always, "No." Starting a home practice isn't really as daunting as you might think. One of the most important benefits is that you can do it when it fits your schedule. Below are some thoughts for how to get started.
In these last few days it has felt as though spring is just around the corner.  The snow that has been lingering for several weeks is starting to melt, exposing fertile soils to the encouraging sun.  Because it has been a gradual warming rather than a sudden rise in temperature, the streams and rivers are not strained beyond their capacity, and flooding has been kept to a minimum.
 

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
  ,"If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher."
Hi all!
We had a beautiful class Saturday. Fine yogis moving in and out of 'one legged dogs', working against the wall and some even kicking up towards handstand- it was a wonderful experience. It took lot's of courage and strength and was very inspiring!
The weather, being particularly unstable, warm then cold, steady then windy and still dark, is a sure sign that change is all around. When we practice handstands we mimic that change. And when we pay attention to our practice we see how we are affected by change. Do you welcome the opportunity with creative vision or do you dig in and try and remain stable and steady. Just good information to have.
Mondays: 7:30-8:30
Big Vanilla All levels A nice and gentle wake up practice
Tuesdays:
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.
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.
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
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.
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

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