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Journal Post

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.
Om Shanti. Shanti. Shanti. Peace. Peace. Peace. We have been a little out of touch with our newsletter subscribers this summer. The firey energy of summer called us to create and continue our work on iHanuman 3.0. Now that the summer is winding down and we transition to fall, we turn our energies toward harvesting the fruits of our efforts. As we put our new website into place, we spent time observing all of YOUR growth and movement during this time. So much has come into being since we launched the first version of iHanuman in the Fall of 2006. We have taken what we have learned and are so excited to offer it up to you all.
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.
As the yoga boom continues to grow and new studios pop up everywhere, the question arises of how to offer classes in order to appeal to both new and experienced students. Yoga studios usually choose one of two options for class registration. One option is class cards, where the student pays for a specific number of classes over a certain time period. This is often seen as most convenient for the student, as they can go to any class on the schedule without committing to any specific class.
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.
I write this from the vantage point of 37,000 feet above our earth, looking both up at the bluest of blue skies and down at cloud patterns of marshmallow fluff, and am seized with a sense of gratitude for the supreme beauty of our planet, and all that is in my life since I embarked on a spiritual path over 30 years ago.
This is a question I have been getting more and more of lately, so I think I will write a bit...
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.
Greetings from Denver, where life is hot, busy, and good. The city is teeming with visitors from all over the world; and if there is anywhere that needs yoga right now, this is certainly it!
I just finished my third raw chocolate and superfoods truffle here at the Huffington Post Oasis at Denver's National Convention.
Teaching to nonnative English speakers is challenging, but these tips will help you make sure your teaching transcends all language and cultural barriers.
Once, while teaching in Paris with a translator, Nischala Joy Devi, international teacher and author of The Secret Power of Yoga and The Healing Path of Yoga, was asked by an English-speaking student if she would return to teach there again. "There are certainly worse places I could come back to
than Paris," Devi replied, smiling. The translator delivered her response to the group and, upon seeing the ensuing sea of horrified faces, Devi stammered to the translator, "What did you say to them?"
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.
Learn how to use your personal challenges to find your authentic voice, fortify your teachings, and inspire your students.
By Sara Avant Stover
Amy Ippoliti, a senior certified Anusara Yoga teacher based in Boulder, Colorado, felt vulnerable and fragile as she attempted to pull herself together to teach in New York City following September 11, 2001.
"Despite my own grief, I tried to acknowledge the pain everyone felt and uplift them in the face of such madness," she says.
Take your seat in style and discover how what you wear affects how you feel and how
others feel about you.By Sara Avant Stover
Whether you buy your yoga wardrobe from WalMart or Lululemon, you can find just the right fashions to suit your size, budget, and mood. As a student, you might search for styles that show off your body or personality, but, as a teacher, there's more to consider. When you step into the seat of the teacher you become a role model. Then what you wear has a greater impact not only on how you feel but also on how others feel, too. The task is to dress in a way that uplifts your words, actions, and spirit in service to your students and your subject matter.
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.
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.
Explore the pros and cons of hands-on guidance and learn to use skillful assists to empower
your students.
By Sara Avant Stover
"Come on! Extend, Karl! Don't be so stingy!" exclaimed Sharon Gannon, cofounder of Jivamukti Yoga, to student Karl Straub, as she assisted him in Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). Straub, a Jivamukti Yoga teacher himself, as well as a Thai Yoga Bodywork practitioner, recalls the potency of Gannon's assist-one that he revisits every time he practices that
Learn how seeking constructive criticism from more experienced teachers can improve your teaching skills.
By Sara Avant Stover
At one point several years ago, Elena Brower, Anusara Yoga teacher and owner of New York City's Vira Yoga, received letters of constructive, critical feedback from two of her teachers-both on the same day.
While this initially ignited her inner critic and bruised her selfesteem, she soon came to realize how fortunate she was to have received such wise and attentive care from her trusted mentors.
"It ultimately brought more clarity to my teaching and gave me more respect for my teachers and more trust in myself," Brower says.
Use your yoga teachings to inspire social change.
Learn how to take the leap from teaching classes to leading workshops. By Sara Avant Stover Are you the kind of teacher who always finds yourself ending class 10 minutes late? Do you know your teaching routine so well that you could almost do it in your sleep? Or do you keep a list of topics that you would  like to develop and share but can't seem to fit into your regular drop-in classes?
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.
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.
The last time we checked in we were in India in the last quarter of the 18th century, with the British East India Company (EIC) serving as much of the country's governing body. Unfortunately for India, like most businesses-except Piedmont Yoga of course-the EIC was in business to make money, and when that aim conflicted with good government-surprise!-making money won out. When a severe drought hit India and food shortages threatened, despite plenty of early warnings the EIC sat on its collective hands and did nothing...nothing that is except allow merchants to RAISE the price of foodstuffs, thereby exacerbating an already catastrophic situation. The result was predictable: uncounted millions of Indians died of starvation.
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."
"We are here to love each other, serve each other,
and uplift each other" -Anonymous
It is with practice and self-inquiry that we come to understand how yoga is much more than a series of poses and breathing exercises. In fact, we see quite clearly that the practice is about relationships, to one another and most importantly to ourselves. With continued practice we learn to serve others, creating an atmosphere of compassion, acceptance, and tolerance, and a more peaceful way of living.
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.
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.
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.
A yoga posture demonstrated by a master level practitioner is often the epitome of grace and ease. Yet when the novice student attempts to mirror these same movements the degree of difficulty is immediately evident. The real test of a yoga practitioner comes when the path ahead is laid out clearly and the student choose whether to commits to each step of the journey regardless of difficulty.
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.
Can there be any doubt that we are in the midst of great change? From the historic campaigns waged by both American political parties to the rise of China as a superpower to the generational shifts in the workforce to catastrophic weather patterns to changes in the face of yoga, everywhere you look the tides are turning in some form or another. When Shiva as the great destroyer dances on the small ego we all have, it is change itself embodied the great equalizer of the Hindu deities. Resist change and you resist the law of life. Fight it and you will only hurt yourself.
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?
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?
NAMASTE,
It's such a cliché to remark on the speedy passage of time. Nonetheless, I have to trot out the "how time flies" line to comment on the arrival this year of Unity Woods' 30th anniversary. To tell you the truth, things are tumbling by so fast and there so much going on that I might have missed noticing it altogether had I not been prompted by the ubiquitous accolades to local (and national) media star, Diane Rehm, on her 30th anniversary. That's when I said to myself, "Hey, Unity Woods has been around for 30 years, too."
Last week, Southern Baptist Minister Albert Mohler made headlines when he charged that yoga is incompatible with the Christian faith.  At first my reaction was, perhaps, predictably cynical.  Being from the South, I'm not surprised that a literalist view of the Bible would preclude the teachings of yoga.
After reading his full essay, I think there's definitely food for thought for anyone practicing yoga and especially for anyone teaching yoga. The question is:  do you know what you're doing and why you're doing it when you step onto your mat?
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.
Question: Enlightenment, or being at one with the universal mind, must be very different than the concept of omniscience, or knowing everything about everything. Could you elaborate on the distinction? Or do you believe that one who is enlightened would also be omniscient?
In this 20 minute video, expert teen teacher Koren Palmaan teaches inner city teenagers in a Los Angeles High School.
Koren Palmaan creates a classroom dynamic that is magnetic for teenagers.  Watch and learn from her powerful teaching example where students are challenged, encouraged, and guided to have a profound yet fun yoga experience.
Purchase and Download this Video from Christy.
It's not what is poured into a student that counts, but what is planted.
- Linda Conway It is awe-inspiring to watch how a sequence of poses can infuse students with energy, or calm them down, or engage their full attention, or invoke a deep relaxation response. The way we teach asana (postures) is important and I love to discover what works with teenagers and share it with you. However, many teachers are encountering road blocks in making their classes appealing and wondering why their classes are not retaining students.The answer is complex but there is a fundamental principal to teaching yoga to teens worth discussing and well-timed with the approach of Valentine's Day. Simply put, it's love.
My journey of yoga is one of Gratitude; for the insights, healing, blessings, and the complete transformation of my life. I cherish every moment, every breath, all the experiences it has taken to get here.
I found my first yoga class at a church in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where yoga was anything but mainstream. I was unhealthy, worked in a casino, smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day, ate a terrible diet and wore a hard brace on my neck due to an accident. Yoga was a last resort. I was willing to try anything to get out of the pain - even yoga. If I also found flexibility and stress relief, I would take it but I was skeptical. BUT, I wasn't turning off my pager or my phone! The teacher smiled and handed me a yoga mat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
See God in yourself and see God in others". When I heard this from meditation teacher Swami Muktananda in the 70's it was a revolutionary concept to me. However, something deep inside resonated with this teaching and I felt especially uplifted. It felt like a way to connect with the best in myself and with the best in others.
Most students report that they come to yoga because of strees; and certainly yoga can bring relief. However, yoga offers many more benefits in addition to relaxation, such as flexibility, strength, increased circulation to organs and glands (often resulting in enhanced health), better sleep, improved digestion, and a quieter and more centered mind. Over several years, this practice can add up to the true essence of yoga: living life with a joyful spirit and a peaceful mind in a relaxed and healthy body. Although these benefits are tremendous (and I have found as I get older they are truly priceless!), they cannot occur if students don't come to class.
July 20, 1969 was an historic day for our country and for the world. It was the day that we landed a man on the moon, and Neil Armstrong uttered his oft-quoted phrase, "One small step for man, one giant step for mankind".
We take space travel for granted now, but back then it was an awesome achievement. When President Kennedy set the vision in 1963 that we were going to the moon by the end of the decade, it was an almost unbelievable proposition. At the time the technology had not been developed to support the vision, but Kennedy had faith in the ingenuity and creativity of our NASA scientists and engineers. He trusted that they would be able to figure it out. He set the vision and the rest is history.

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