Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Happy World Water Day

Image Source
We know, water is life.  And yet water is often taken for granted and worse, polluted and endangered.

Today let's join together in solidarity with those who are working hard to protect our planet's life blood.  

Honor, bless, and thank the water.

How? Here are just a few ways you can participate:

Register to watch the free UPLIFT film Water is Life on

Make a donation to to help protect the Great Lakes.

Practice Pronoia Therapy with Rob Brezsny who asks,

What is the holiest river in the world? Some might say the Ganges in India. Others would propose the Jordan River or the River Nile. But I say the holiest river is the one that's closest to where you are right now.
Go to that river and commune with it. Throw a small treasure into it as an offering. Next, find a holy sidewalk to walk on, praise the holiness in a bus driver, kiss a holy tree, and shop at a holy store.

Awaken your second chakra, the swadisthana chakra through chanting the bija mantra Vam, embracing the juiciness of your own creativity and sense of play, and asanas for the pelvis and hips like Baddha Konasana (the Butterfly) and Bhujangasana (the Cobra).

And watch this video by my lovely friend Cindy Foley

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Stories of King Janaka: Saving Attention

Narada bows to Vishnu, Image Source
According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the goal and practice of Yoga both have to do with Chitta Vritti Nirodh, or stopping the waves of the mind.

This is accomplished through an eight-fold set of practices known as Ashtanga Yoga.

In Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga, withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara) facilitates concentration (dharana) which leads to meditation (dhyana) which in turn leads to oneness (samadhi).

Narada Muni is a joyful, mischievous storyteller who wanders the worlds sharing news and wisdom.

Here is a story of King Janaka's visit from Narada Muni:

“You know King Janaka was called ‘Vidheha’ (means also ‘dead’ or ‘liberated from the body’)

Great sage Narada asked him one day, 
‘ Revered Sir, how are you called as Vidheha, you live in this world, how can you be a Vidheha?’ 
Raja Janaka said,’this is very simple. I will tell you about it in the evening. 
Now, please do this little job for me. There is milk in this bowl. You take this bowl & come along with me. Please see that not a single drop of milk is spilled on the Earth. 
Then only I will tell you why I am called Vidheha’. 

Narada took the bowl & followed Janaka everywhere. He had to be very careful because the bowl was such that by the slightest movement the milk might have spilled. He got very tired. 
When they returned in the evening, Narada asked ‘Please tell me now, 
I am quite fed up with carrying this bowl & following you everywhere at the same time.`

Raja Janaka said, `First of all tell me what you have seen?’
Narada, `Nothing except this bowl of milk so that it won’t spill.`
Raja Janaka, “Didn’t you see, there was a big procession in my honour, then there was a court wherein, there was programme of dancing? Didn’t you see anything?
Narada said, “No sir, I have not seen anything”.

Raja Janaka, `My child, likewise with Me, I also see nothing. 
All the time, I just watch my attention. Where is it going? 
Making sure that it won’t spill away like the milk.`

“This sort of attention one has to develop: chitta nirod’.  
Nirod means the saving of your attention, so your attention should not be on saving money & worldly things and all that, but attention itself must be saved. 
As you watch your money, as you watch your road when you drive, as you watch your child, when it is growing, as you watch the beauty of your wife, or the care of your husband, 
all put together you watch your Self – your attention. 
(Shri Mataji)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

What is a Yogini?

Image Source
Happy International Women's Day!

As I think about what this day means to me, part of what I find myself asking is, 

"What is a Yogini?"

More than just the Sanskrit gender designation for a female practitioner of yoga, the term Yogini has been used for centuries as a respectful title for accomplished spiritual teachers in the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist traditions.

Yogini refers to an enlightened woman, whom some regard as possessing magical powers.

A true Yogini is an enlightened woman with exuberant passion, spiritual powers and deep insight. Yoginis communicate a sense of freedom, a sheer mastery in whatever they do. With their compelling gazes, they can hypnotize even a great yogi and are capable of changing their shapes at will. Tantric scholars have written about Yoginis as independent, outspoken, forthright women with a gracefulness of spirit. Without them, yoga can fail in its purpose and remain sterile.

The path of yoga, or union, encourages us to inquire into the nature of the Self.  

So today I am contemplating:

Who am I?  Am I a Yogini?
What am I so passionate about that it appears masterful, even magical?
Where do I feel a potent sense of community, freedom and respect for women?
When do I communicate my insights most openly and clearly?
How do I see myself as a manifestation of grace and divinity?
Why do I practice yoga?

Yogis and Yoginis, I invite you also to reflect, how are you honoring the sacred feminine in your life, in our world and in yoga today?

Interested in Yoga Her-Story?  Here are a few juicy articles to explore:

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Deepak Chopra at the Sivananda Ashram, Bahamas (Part 2)

Woohoo!  I've been waiting for this!  You are the Universe, Deepak Chopra

Stories of King Janaka: Ashtavakra, the Guru with Eight Bends

Ashtavakra: Image Source, Wikipedia
King Janaka was the student of a young man with a dreadful physical condition.

It is said that in the womb, Ashtavakra listened to his learned father reciting Sanskrit slokas.

Once, his father made a mistake.

The fetus made a sound to indicate that a correction should be made.  Insulted, the man cursed his unborn child to be born with crippling deformities of eight kinds.

King Janaka and Ashtavakra, Image Source: Wikipedia
As a young boy, Ashtavakra entered the court of King Janaka, and despite his youth expounded with great wisdom, knowledge of the Self.

This conversation is recorded in the Ashtavakra Gita which presents the Self as Witness, pure, radiant and majestic consciousness.

It also discusses the nature of reality, freedom and bondage from the point of view of Advaita Vedanta, the classical school of Indian philosophy which emphasizes Jivanmukti, the idea that moksha (freedom, liberation) is achievable in this life.

It states:

If you wish to be free,
Know you are the Self,
The witness of all these,
The heart of awareness.
Set your body aside.
Sit in your own awareness.
You will at once be happy,
Forever still, Forever free.
You are everywhere,
Forever free.
If you think you are free, You are free.
If you think you are bound, You are bound.
Meditate on the Self.
One without two,
Exalted awareness.
— Ashtavakra Gita 1.4–14, Translator: Thomas Byrom[6][7]

There is an interesting rendition of this story on the Isha Blog.  In it, Sadhguru concludes,

"One’s progress within oneself has nothing to do with what a person does on the outside, what is most important is, what a person is doing within him or herself. What you are doing with the outside world is just social; you conduct yourself as it is suitable for the situation in which you exist. It has social relevance but no existential or spiritual relevance. How you are within yourself is all that matters."