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Journal Post

Dear Friends,  We hope you took advantage of our call to restart or reinvigorate your pranayama practice this Autumn.  It is a subtle and yet profound cleansing process we can engage in.  This season is the time to cleanse the lungs and large intestine. This is not the time to live it up and binge on food, drink and stimulation as many of us are encouraged to do during the holidays. 
Most of you know, if you have been subscribed to the iHanuman Newsletter for some time, that we pay a lot of attention to the changes and transitions of the natural world. Every year, we are prompted by traditional healing philosophy to reinvigorate pranayama practice in the fall. The fall is the season of letting go and releasing as well as the organs of the Lungs and Large Intestines.
"The Three Months of Fall are called the period of tranquility of one's conduct... The mysterious powers of Fall create dryness in Heaven and they create metal upon the Earth."At the end of October and for some of us not until November, we transitioned from the late summer energy of early Fall into the true Fall Energy of Metal or the quality most closely associated with the Ayurvedic element of Air. Air and Metal energies concern mental and spiritual activities, including the workings of the mind, the intellect and communication.
Are we finally on the downswing from the peak of a very firey and fiesty summer heat wave? As tensions and frustrations flair, we are truly called upon to utilize our yoga practice to cool us down. Two of the primary ways you choose to counterbalance the heat depend on your personal temperament. You can sit calmly and quietly, practicing slow deep breathing or pranayamas specific to cooling you down, like Sitali (sheet - ah - lee) pranayama or practice a quieting asana practice focused on forward bends and other cooling poses. The alternative is to get active, move and raise your internal heat .
“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”
Encinitas holds the distinction of being the American birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga. David Williams began teaching here in the early seventies and sponsored Pattabhi Jois and his son Manju to come here for the first time in 1975. Brad Ramsey and Gary Lopedota, two of David's students, opened their own yoga shala, called the Ashtanga Yoga Nilayam, after David moved to Maui.
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.
Breathing In, it's the very first act of life outside of the womb. Breathing Out, it's the very last thing we do before we die. In-between that first in-breath and final out-breath are millions of opportunities to remember this powerful energy. The yogis call it Prana: that which is everywhere, connecting us all; and on a smaller scale - that energy which moves the breath throughout our bodies. But what most people don't realize is the power of breath can increase or decrease energy, improve health and bodily functions, and reduce stress. A quick Google search can show you statistics, but experience is really the only way to go with Pranayama, the practice of breathing.
PRACTICE FOR THE MONTH:
From the Gheranda Samhita (late 17th century CE)
TADAGI MUDRA. Pond Seal
Lie on you back, stretch out through your heels and reach your arms overhead. If you have one, lay a sand bag over your wrists to help the reach of the arms. Continue to press actively and oppositely through the heels and hands. As an energetic response, your belly will hollow slightly, like a "pond," which gives this mudra its distinctive name. This is a good warm-up for asana or pranayama.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes the hardest part is just showing up.
At the end of many of my yoga classes, I remind my students to bow their head in honor of themselves for the, sometimes, Herculean effort of just showing up to class. It's so easy to get derailed. You know, we all have those "best laid plans."
Back in my office monkey life I remember dreading late afternoon phone calls because they were usually about last-minute-have-to-be-done-first-thing-tomorrow projects. And of course our servers only ever crashed at 6pm. On Friday. These days, I'm amazed that I get myself and my toddler out of the house at all, much less on time.
There is an aspect of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga practice called tristana. Like "yoga" it is both a practice and the state achieved through the repetition of that practice. I'm hoping to get up a few blogs that will look at tristanafrom a few viewpoints, all of which have emerged organically from practice and teaching. First of all, though, let's lay the groundwork with some definitions and background.
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
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.
Yoga offers us a fascinating lens through which to view our lives. Yoga philosophy tells us that the core of our being is conscious pulsating energy. This reality is hidden from us by five layers, or sheaths, called koshas, that are made up of increasingly finer grades of energy. The outer layer is the densest and is made up of matter. The other sheaths are energy states, invisible to the physical eye, although as we develop greater sensitivity we can become aware of their presence. To live a fully balanced and healthy life, yoga urges us to keep each layer strong and healthy through various yoga practices. From the yoga perspective the game of life is to penetrate these cloaks, so that our true nature can be revealed.
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!
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
alternate-nostril-breathing
This profound technique creates a balance between the right and left sides of the brain.
The right nostril governs the sympathetic nervous system; it is related to teh mathematical, aanalytical, active, left side of the brain, harnessing Ha, or sun energy.  The left nostril governs the parasympathetic nervous system, the creative, free-associative, passive side of the brain, ruled by Tha, or moon energy.
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.
John is featured in the Yoga Journal Asana Column
When it came to the fitness benefits yoga can or can't provide, yoga teacher John Schumacher had heard it all. A student of B. K. S. Iyengar for 20 years and founder of the Unity Woods studios in the Washington, D.C. area, Schumacher was convinced yoga provides a complete fitness regime. But many people, even some of his own students, disagreed. Yoga might be good for flexibility or relaxation, they'd say, but to be truly fit, you had to combine it with an activity like running or weight lifting.
Schumacher just didn't buy it.
Summer is the Pitta or Fire Season of the Year. The time to fully blossom and express ourselves. The time when everything seems to be happening at once! Those of us who tend to run hot need to slow down and cool off. Others may use this time of year to purify by heating the body up to perspire and cool down.  Luckily the practice of Yoga Asana (poses) and Pranayama (breath awareness) offer us ample practices to chill. 

The second day of Judith's workshop was equally as informative as the first. The sutra study for the workshop was from Pada II v.16, "Heyam dukham anagatam" or "The suffering that is to come is to be avoided." It is a fascinating concept because everything we do in life is to put our anxiety at rest. We constantly try to control our circumstances to appease our anxiety and avoid suffering.
A couple of weekends ago, I attended a workshop with the illustrious Bobby Clennell. Bobby wrote AND illustrated The Woman's Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of the Menstrual Cycle.
Although some are talking about another 40 inches of snow this month, March is the month of the spring equinox and therefore heralds the beginning of spring. Until then, we are still in the water element and the end of the winter.
2009 - December: Maha Sadhana Intensives with Chandra Come join Chandra for the advanced Maha Sadhana Shiva Namaskar advanced vinyasa series. The advanced series is a unique, beautiful and vigorous sequence, incorporating many of the little known postures and their advanced variations. For Intermediate thru Advanced Yogis, though all are welcome, and may work at your own pace. Chandra will help you according to your abilities and needs. Friday, Dec 11 5:30pm-8:30pm
Saturday, Dec 12 5:30pm-8:30pm $50/intensive (pre-registration),
$60/intensive (one week prior--space permitting)
2010 - January: 250 hour Teacher Training
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.
My thanks to our conference co-coordinators and my dear friends, Patricia Walden and Linda DiCarlo, for their tireless efforts and their deep devotion that made this conference possible. Thanks also to all you workers and volunteers, in front of and behind the scenes for your invaluable and essential assistance. And, of course, thanks to all of you attendees for being here. Without you there wouldn't be any conference.
Come immerse yourself in the practice of Ashtanga Yoga with David Garriques and the Charlottesville Ashtanga community !
The 6th Annual Ashtanga Summer Immersion is divided into three parts, held at Belmont and The Barn at Split Rock Farm:
Part 1: Daily Practice
Sunday, July 13 - Sunday, July 27:
Mondays - Fridays: Mysore Practice, 6:30-8:30am, at Belmont
Sundays: Led Primary Series, 9:30-11:30am, at The Barn
Part 2: In-Depth Study and Teacher Training
Monday, July 14 - Friday, July 25; 11:00am-4:00pm, at The Barn
Spring Cherry BlossomsJoyful Spring to You! The season of Spring represents the Wood Element and we are reminded with each new conscious breath; each inhalation brings a new earthy scent. If you pause, you can literally feel the earth moving beneath your feet and all around you. Buds and shoots push themselves from the ground in anticipation of the warmth and sunlight to come.
From Vasant Lad's Yoga Journal Post: Unusual mental or physical exertion, stress, and lack of sleep can make people tired. Prevention in these cases simply requires self-observation. Sometimes it means not pushing the body and mind beyond its limits. Other times it means walking or doing some physical work to help increase the body's energy level.
AUGUST 22-24, 2008
Early registration by August 10: Entire workshop $125. After August 10: $140
Friday pm, 5:30-8:30 pm - $35
Mysore Practice and Yoga Philosophy
Saturday am, 9:00-11:30 am - $35
Mysore Practice
Saturday pm, 12:30-4:00pm -$50
Ashtanga and Healing: Moving with the Breath and Adjustment Clinic
Sunday am, 9:30-12:00pm - $35
Led Primary Series Class and Introduction to Pranayama
At the end of February we left off with one foot in the door of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, one of the oldest surviving Hatha Yoga manuals. Hatha Yoga emerged sometime in the 9th or 10th centuries CE, strongly influenced by both Hindu Tantra and Indian alchemy. The Pradipika was written four or five hundred years later, though remnants of these ancient disciplines are still evident in this text and others like it. The Gheranda Samhita for example, a companion text that's a few hundred years younger, calls Hatha Yoga the "Yoga of the Pot" (ghata yoga), "pot" here referring to the human body (or more precisely the torso) which is compared to an alchemical vessel.
Devika Gurung was one of my first yoga teachers. I met her while traveling to India to study Yoga. But Devika had just returned from India and opened a Yoga Centre in Pokhara, Nepal. I decided to spend 6 weeks with her helping her with her Yoga Centre and learning English and in exchange I lived with her like she lived in the Ashram in India. We practiced Jala Neti in the morning, meditation, asana twice a day, karma yoga, yoga nidra, and pranayama. It was an incredible experience and helped me on my path towards a daily yoga practice. She is an incredible inspiration to women and yoga teachers everywhere. I was particularly inspired by her dedication to helping Nepalis study yoga.
Traditional Hatha Yoga, as it's described in the school's oldest surviving instruction manuals, is an odd-looking duck, at least to our modern Western eyes. Take the granddaddy of these books, Svatmarama Yogendra's Hatha Yoga Pradipika (literally "Light on the Forceful Union-Method"), which is a venerable 600 years old, possibly older. It consists of 389 verses divided into four chapters on asana, pranayama, mudra ("seals") and bandha ("bonds"), and samadhi or enstasis. We moderns might expect the longest chapter would be on asana. And why not?
There is much focus around the equinoxes around 108 sun salutations. Many yoga teachers encourage this practice as a way to move through the change of seasons. This September 21-23, a large global event will take place, centered in Los Angeles, with the intention of spreading peace around the world like a mala or garland.
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