Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Holiday Schedule

There are no changes to our schedule for this weekend so join us on Easter, Sunday, April 4 for these classes:

Free Form Vinyasa 8 am
Meditation 9:30 am
Peaceful Flow 11 am
Long, Slow and Deep 5 pm

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Be as little children.....

Be as little children...
How much fun are you to live with?
Dr. Phil
There are no accidents. This week in the studio we are focusing on 4th chakra, the heart center. The archetypal deity that governs the 4th chakra is Lord Krishna. Krishna energy is playful- His lesson is to remember to keep the innocence, curiosity and sense of wonder that children possess. The goal is to keep looking at the world with the eyes of a child our whole lives. Have fun! I was asked to facilitate a welcoming ceremony for the baby of my friends Tru and Lucius. I was delighted to discover that the puja was the very same weekend that we began our Krishna/ heart chakra work! Synchronicity is one of the organizing principles of the universe- we should expect meaningful coincidences to happen all the time. They let us know that we are not alone and that we are on the right path. Chaos theory is really not so chaotic and random.
Baby Vita is a baby born to a Yogic household and her Godparent or Guideparent is my friend Uma, another Yogini. The scriptures tell us that one delivered to the world with these conditions will be special. Vita is beautiful, smart, healthy, affluent and born to Yogis. The divine is obviously expecting great things from her to give her such an auspicious birth.
Sun, Moon, Stars, all you that move in the heavens, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life!
Winds, Clouds, Rain, Mist, all you that move in the air, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life!
Hills, Valleys, River, Lakes, Trees, Grasses, all you of the earth, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life!
Birds, great and small, that fly in the air,
Animals, great and small, that dwell in the forest,
Insects that creep among the grasses and burrow in the ground, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life!
All you of the heavens, all you of the air,
all you of the earth, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life.
Make her path smooth.
Omaha Native American Blessing

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Are you ready for Fire?

Wet Log or Dry Log? Which kind of Yoga student are you? The science of Yoga is the path of fire and light and the dry log is ripe for the fire of transformation to be lit and will very quickly be engulfed in flames. The wet log is a little harder to light and might even need some more time to dry out in order to be really ready. Recognizing which type of practitioner we are is helpful so that we have realistic expectations about the effects of our practice. We should expect very different results from a daily practice versus a once a week practice and very different results from a practice of asana alone versus a practice of asana and meditation. It is not a bad thing to admit that we are wet log students. This is the power of free will. We get to choose how long the path to liberation will be and how painful or how peaceful that path will be.

For those who seek liberation wholeheartedly, realization is near.
Yoga Sutras 1.21
How near depends on whether the practice is mild, moderate, or intense.
Yoga Sutras 1.22

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Joy of Staycation: Stop and Smell the Orchid Tree

This week I was on staycation. My girlfriend Uma told me that hip, cool name for a vacation where one stays at home and how there was a special on NPR about how healthy they are for us. At the beginning of my staycation week, I had a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish during this break- doing my taxes, cleaning out my closet, my car, etc- then mid week I thought hold on there cowgirl, this is about nondoing, undoing and R and R. I did not cross off everything on my list, but it was glorious. This morning my husband and I both woke at 5 am. He walked the dogs and began to meditate as I sat on the couch in front of the fire and had not one, but two cups of steaming chai. Most mornings I teach, sometimes at 6 am, so I practice asana and teach in the am and sit for meditation in the afternoons. As my husband left to go surfing, I began my dance with prana shakti via yoga asana and pranayama. My husband returned about 9 am to hurry off to work just as I was in the middle of a 45 minute practice of yoga nidra, yogic sleep. Later, I sat for an hour of meditation. In the afternoon, the dogs and I explored a new route for our afternoon walk and after, we sat in the backyard sunning ourselves and watching birds bathe themselves in our new bird bath. As I planned my yoga class for tomorrow morning, the most amazing fragrance drifted my way. We have a baby orchid tree and this year is its first year of really blooming like crazy and the fragrance I was enjoying was emanating from this beautiful tree. I never even knew orchid trees were fragrant until today.
This entry sounds a bit twitter like, recounting the achingly mundane blow by blow of my day, but there is a point. This week filled me up. I am nourished, my tank is full and I am ready now to be of service tomorrow as I teach yoga. Doing nothing was really something.....

This is why we meditate in a place where there is very little activity- just the simple natural motion of the trees in the breeze and occasionally the calls of some birds. In our ashrams we plant flowers. All this is to help calm the mind.
Swami Vishnu Devananda

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Yoga and the Weather

There is a joke that old Floridians tell new Floridians- If you don't like the weather in Florida, stay around and it will change soon enough. Being attached to only one variation of countless weather conditions is a surefire recipe for suffering and if we just wait it out, the condition changes anyway.
The emotional states of the mind are like weather patterns- just as vast in their diversity and just as temporary. States of mind come and go. When we are attached to just experiencing one emotional state, like happiness, we are setting ourselves up for suffering. Yogis learn to appreciate and embrace the diversity of the life experience- the full spectrum of emotion. Life on planet Earth is happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain, gain and loss. This is part of the maturing of the soul, to understand that our time here will include a taste of all the worldly dharmas and to not expect that or to try to avoid that is a path to certain suffering. A beam of light is more radiant in a dark room......along the way we discover that happiness is sweeter when we have also tasted sadness.
See yourself as larger than the temporary conditions of emotions. You are a vast expanse of Pure Awareness. You have always been and You will always be. Immortal. Timeless. Boundless. Emotions are like meteorites that come and go in this vast expanse. There is a part of you which is unaffected by the changing weather patterns of mental states. In Yoga, it is called Nirlipta. The Cave of the Heart in Tantra. The part of us which is steady in the midst of change, beyond pain and beyond suffering. The wise Yogi seeks out that refuge in each practice.

If I am unhappy, but do not care that I am unhappy, am I really unhappy?
Swami Vivekananda

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What is the purpose of asana?

This is the question that we considered this week in Yoga teacher training. Those things that come to mind usually are:
to build strength
to create flexibility
to cultivate endurance and stamina
to develop balance
to lose weight, etc. etc.

These things are true, but just a small portion of the more profound gifts of asana practice.

According to Swami Satchidananda, the asanas were created to make the body healthy enough and the mind calm enough to meditate. The asanas are a gateway technique to prepare one for the higher practices.

If we look at the name for the practice of asana, pranayama and conscious relaxation, Hatha Yoga, we see balance as the purpose of asana. Ha=Sun and Tha=Moon, so Hatha Yoga is to balance Sun and Moon energy physically, emotionally and energetically. As we balance the natural polarities of strength and flexibility, thinking and feeling, doing and nondoing, we set the stage for the greatest goal of Yoga to be experienced- enlightenment. Enlightenment is the realization of our greatest potential, the state of communion and grace. It is only by the balancing of the polarities that Kundalini Shakti, the great, dormant creative force, is awakened and begins Her evolutionary ascent through the chakras.

The master Patanjali also speaks of balance. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali tells us that mastery of asana results in the "pairs of opposites ceasing to have impact." As we practice asana, the outcome is steadiness and balance in the midst of change.