Sunday, 27 November 2011

How Yoga Really Works

The Three Main Nadis and Seven Major Chakras
A Great Big Thank You to everyone at Yoga for Today who gathered for the first Yoga Teachers' Professional Development Weekend

It was such a joy to study with you again, I'm already looking forward to the next time!  Thank you all for your kindness and your ongoing enthusiasm!

Here is the free pamphlet I mentioned by Geshe Michael Roach.  It is a condensed version of two of his books, The Diamond Cutter and Karmic Management

Fearless Success in Work and Life by Geshe Michael Roach 

You can learn more about the Tong-len asana series we practiced on Saturday (Tibetan Heart Yoga, Series One) in The Tibetan Book of Yoga or you can register for my new Saturday morning Tibetan Heart Yoga class starting in January at Yoga for Today.

As you may already have guessed, at the very very top of my recommended reading list for yoga teachers is How Yoga Works.  It is a beautiful story by Geshe Michael and Lama Christie McNally that presents the philosophy of yoga and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in a way that is authentic, engaging and easy to relate to. 

For information about Geshe Michael Roach and a few of the organizations he has founded so far, check out the links on my Guru Parampara page.



And hey - congratulations!  You just earned five more hours toward an attendance certificate in Hatha or Raja Yoga in my Yoga Apprenticeship Program

It's easy to sign up and it's free!  I hope to hear from you soon!

Jai!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Happiness and the Hanuman Chalisa

Hanuman by Betsy Schott

The crazy winds today have me thinking of Hanuman, Son of the Wind God and Perfection of the "Monkey Mind".

And also of a wise "peace" of advice from my friend Marci: 

She says that when you feel blown around by life, when the mind is as turbulent as the wind, there are two sure ways to get happy

  1. Hang out with uplifting people. 
  2. Listen to the Hanuman Chalisa
There are lots of gorgeous versions of the Hanuman Chalisa out there, but this peaceful and mesmerizing tune by Krishna Das is the one stuck in my head today. 



And if you like that, 
here are a few more...


This one is just so cheerful you can't help but feel uplifted...


Another from Krishna Das that's great for chanting along with:


And another from Krishna Das with Roshi Bernie Glassman:


Have fun finding more, and let me know your favorites!

Sri Hanuman Ki - Jai!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Yoga for Today, Teacher Training Assignment

Practicing the
Yamas and Niyamas

It was great seeing you all this morning at Yoga for Today. 

Thank you for your warm enthusiasm on this snowy day!

Here's your assignment.  Please come to our next meeting with a copy of your summary to discuss.

And for those of you who asked, here is a link to my Navaratri post which gives a little more information about the marigolds.

From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, please choose one of the Yamas:
  1. Ahimsa (अहिंसा): non-violence.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truth in word and thought, absence of falsehood or giving someone the wrong impression.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): celibacy in case of unmarried people and faithfulness in action, words and thoughts in the case of married people.
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रह): absence of avarice, not coveting or hoarding.
OR one of the Niyamas:
  1. Shaucha: cleanliness of body and mind; purity.
  2. Santosha: satisfaction with what one has; contentment.
  3. Tapas: austerity.
  4. Svādhyāya: study of the Vedic scriptures and the Self, which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within.
  5. Ishvarapranidhana: surrender to, or worship of Ishwara (God).
Spend 24 hours consciously practicing your chosen Yama or Niyama or some aspect of it. 
For example:
  • Practice ahimsa by not eating meat for the day. 
  • Practice santosha by not complaining about work, your husband, or the weather.
  • Practice satya by not exaggerating. ("I'm starving!"  or "I hit a million red lights on the way here!")
  • Practice asteya by not making personal calls, surfing the net or texting on business time.
  • Practice tapas by going on a one day "media fast", turning off the tv, radio, and internet gossip.
  • Practice saucha and aparigraha at the same time by finally cleaning out the basement or the back closet and donating the clothes you're not wearing to someone else who can!
Get it?  It's challenging, but really fun!

If you find it helpful, jot notes down during the day about how it's going.  Maybe make a note every few hours about whether or not you were able to keep your committment to yourself during that time. 

Don't get discouraged - keep going! 

At the end of the 24 hours write approximately 1/2 to 1 page summary of the experience. 

Please bring a copy to class with you and be prepared for a group discussion. 

Your best bet is to choose one and begin right now! 

Otherwise, the tendency is to "forget" indefinitely, or to make some small transgression of your committment and give up or start over with the illusion that getting it "right" and doing it "perfectly" is what will make your experiment and your Yoga "successful".

Please recall that this is a practice and each "mistake" helps us to grow in awareness.  In that sense, there is no such thing as a mistake.  Each lapse in awareness allows us to see ourselves more clearly.

Be warned:  Sometimes in the process of cleaning the mind we "kick up some dirt", but it's well worth the effort!
Have fun! 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011

Yoga Within, Teacher Training Assignment

Practicing the
Yamas and Niyamas
It was wonderful to see you all on Saturday and voyage through the chakras together!

If you would like the words for the "Sun Salutation Prayer" my Mom and I wrote and shared, you can click here.

And you can find Mahatma Gandhi's "Namaste" by clicking here.

In our short time together, we explored the chakras in terms of location, associated elements, emotions, senses, bija mantras, and the colors of the rainbow. 

For the traditional colors and other details of each chakra, visit the Sanatan Society website.

You can also check out a great index of articles on prana, the nadis, and awakening kundalini on swamij.com.

When we meet again on November 25th we will complete our study of the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and discuss the Yamas and Niyamas homework assignment. 

Here is your assignment again:

From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, please choose one of the Yamas:
  1. Ahimsa (अहिंसा): non-violence.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truth in word and thought, absence of falsehood or giving someone the wrong impression.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): celibacy in case of unmarried people and faithfulness in action, words and thoughts in the case of married people.
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रह): absence of avarice, not coveting or hoarding.
OR one of the Niyamas:
  1. Shaucha: cleanliness of body and mind; purity.
  2. Santosha: satisfaction with what one has; contentment.
  3. Tapas: austerity.
  4. Svādhyāya: study of the Vedic scriptures and the Self, which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within.
  5. Ishvarapranidhana: surrender to, or worship of Ishwara (God).
Spend 24 hours consciously practicing your chosen Yama or Niyama or some aspect of it. 

For example:
  • Practice ahimsa by not eating meat for the day. 
  • Practice santosha by not complaining about work, your husband, or the weather.
  • Practice satya by not exaggerating. ("I'm starving!"  or "I hit a million red lights on the way here!")
  • Practice asteya by not making personal calls, surfing the net or texting on business time.
  • Practice tapas by going on a one day "media fast", turning off the tv, radio, and internet gossip.
  • Practice saucha and aparigraha at the same time by finally cleaning out the basement or the back closet and donating the clothes you're not wearing to someone else who can!
Get it?  It's challenging, but really fun!

If you find it helpful, jot notes down during the day about how it's going.  Maybe make a note every few hours about whether or not you were able to keep your committment to yourself during that time. 

Don't get discouraged - keep going! 

At the end of the 24 hours write approximately 1/2 to 1 page summary of the experience.  Please bring a copy to class with you and be prepared for a group discussion. 

Your best bet is to choose one and begin right now! 

Otherwise, the tendency is to "forget" indefinitely, or to make some small transgression of your committment and give up or start over with the illusion that getting it "right" and doing it "perfectly" is what will make your experiment and your Yoga "successful".

Please recall that this is a practice and each "mistake" helps us to grow in awareness.  In that sense, there is no such thing as a mistake.  Each lapse in awareness allows us to see ourselves more clearly.

Be warned:  Sometimes in the process of cleaning the mind we "kick up some dirt", but it's so worth the effort!

Have fun! 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

11.11.11.11.11


Hey - Did you know that this is the first time in something like 800 years that
if you add your birth year plus your age it will equal 111?  Cool!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Check out my New Blog!

Guess what? 

I've started a second blog called Alberta Kirtan Community to share news about Kirtan events close to home!

If you are interested in attending these events or have one of your own to promote, please visit the blog and tell others about it! 


The more listings and visitors we can bring together, the more we can help our Bhakti Yoga/Kirtan community to grow and grow and GROW!

Over the years I've met many famous kirtan wallahs like Bhagavan Das, Jai Uttal and Daniel Paul, Snatam Kaur, Narayan Jyoti, and Geshe Michael Roach who would happily come to perform if only we had an established community to support them. 

My dream is to be part of such a receptive community - but not depend exclusively on visitors from far away for our events! 

I believe our hearts and practices are ripe to create a Sangha around the joyful and devotional practices of Bhakti Yoga including Kirtan, Yoga Sutra Chanting, Bhagavad Gita Chanting, festival celebrations and more!

Let's support the Kirtan musicians we do have close to home and create a network for sharing information about upcoming events. 

And then the best part - let's get together and SING OUR HEARTS OUT!!!

Ooooommmm.....

New Session of Yoga and Meditation Starts Today!



It's time to start a new Yoga and Meditation Session at Yoga Within

Please join me for a moving meditation journey through the Chakras featuring a special asana series from Geshe Michael Roach known as The Yoga of Lady Niguma and a sampling of seated meditations including:

  • Gentle Gazing Meditation, Tratak
  • Meditation and the Voice, Chanting the Bija Mantras
  • Meditation on the Breath
  • Meditation and Visualization
  • Mudras for Meditation
  • and more!
See you there!  Namaste!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Chant for Enlightenment

Om
Asatoma sat gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mryityor ma amritam gamaya

Om
From the unreal (untruth) to the real (truth)
from darkness (tamas) to light (sattva)
from suffering to the nectar of immortality.

 - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad


This is the verse I often close my yoga classes with.  I chant it the way I learned from my Sivananda teachers, but here are a few of others for you to listen to.

First, a beautiful and meditative Ravi Shankar version from "Chants of India".



Now, some of you may recognize the next one from the final credits of "The Matrix".

WARNING - this video contains scenes from the movie which are violent and gross!

Please feel free to scroll to something more sattvic while you listen.


And finally, the sweet and lovely Deva Premal. 

(Did I ever tell you that I met Deva?  In 2009, at the Omega Ecstatic Chant weekend.  I thanked her for Dakshina which I and many of my students at the time were listening to over and over and over again!  She hugged me for a long time and Om'ed in my ear... ahhh... I pass that big hug and her beautiful smile on to you now!)


Let us reach enlightenment together!  Jai!

The Teacher Student Chant

Om
Sahanavavatu sahanau bhunaktu
Sahaviryam karavavahai
Tejasvinavadhitamastu
Ma vidvishavahayai
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Let the Studies that we undertake be effulgent;
Let there be no Animosity amongst us;
OM. Peace, Peace, Peace.

(Recited before the commencement of education)  From the Yajurveda Taittiriya Upanishad 2.2.2

Many of you are familiar with this short chant from the Upanishads from the opening of the classes I teach. 

I learned it during my Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training in 1997 and loved it so much that I have chanted it out loud or in my heart before every Yoga class I've taken or taught since.

It reminds me that we are all, always, and in all ways both teacher and student in every situation. 

It reminds me to honor both roles and the divine Leela or play we partake in when we assume either role.

And it reminds me that on those rare and precious occasions when we have the karma to participate in formal sacred teachings, we must make a conscious decision to embody Namaste - to suspend criticism and judgement and choose to see the divinity in eachother rather than the differences.

Although the tune below is not the one I typically use, it is definitely one of my very favorites. 

It comes from the cd "Chants of India" on George Harrison's Angel Records Label and features the great Ravi Shankar on sitar. 

It is so beautiful I had to share it here. 

Thank you for chanting it with me.  May we enjoy learning Yoga together for as long as it takes...


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Japa Yoga - Mantras for Peace

I am absolutely thrilled to be starting the second session of Meditation and Yoga Philosophy, Level One at Yoga for Today tonight! 

Those of you who attended the fall session will recall that Taruna (Tina) kindly brought us a handout on Japa Yoga from her priest to go with our new malas and mala bags from the Temple

Rather than make a hundred paper photocopies, I figured it was "greener" to share the handout here.

Heartfelt thanks again to our friend Taruna-ji, and to the Temple Priest for sharing! 

And thank you to all of you for attending!  It was a wonderful and once-in-a-lifetime kind of session that I feel truly blessed to have been a part of.  

I look forward to seeing you (and some new faces) again tonight, let the Japa continue!

... AND on to Yoga Sutra 1.5!  Hooray!

To all of the Yogis and Yoginis, past, present and future - JAI!  VICTORY!

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