Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011 Holiday Schedule

Happy Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Yule, Winter Solstice, New Year, Chinese New Year and Merry Christmas!

Satuday, Christmas Eve:  9 am All Levels Flow with Sherri - only class of the day
Sunday, Christmas Day:  9 am All Levels Flow with Sherri  -only class of the day
Saturday, New Years Eve:  9 am All Levels Flow with Shri- only class of the day
Sunday, New Years Day:  11 am All Levels Flow with Sherri and Sound Healing Concert with Living Sound 5-7 pm by donation

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yoga Teaches Us How to Think and Not What To Think

Yoga teaches us how to think and not what to think.
Shri Hamilton-Hubbard- with many thanks to Ted for an amazing conversation over a Thanksgiving feast!  (And Yoga teaches how to not think at all which is when the answers truly come!)

Yogas chitta vrtti nirodhah.
Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.

Tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam.
Then the seer rests in his/her own true nature.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.1 and 1.2

Yoga teaches us that if we can quiet the mind then we will know who we are.  Patanjali tells us how to know who we are but does not go so far as to tell us who we are.  I love this about the Yogic system!  It lets practitioners discover Truth on their own.
The same state of mind- quiet enough to hear divine guidance and inspiration- serves us well in life practically.  We make much better decisions if we are fully present in the moment.

"When our perceptions are no longer dressed up or boxed in by our endless list of ideas,

we can understand what is meant by "Seeing things as they are."

When we are very, very still, in the way that meditation allows us to be,

we can find the space to let everything be as it is.

It is from that space that you will find the room you need

to see who you are and how you fit in the world."

Angel Kyodo Williams

Bliss Yoga 200 Hour TT Program

Our next 200 Hour TT program (Feb 2012) includes a weekend retreat with Sandra Anderson at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA!!!

Sandra AndersonCo-author of the award-winning Yoga: Mastering the Basics and a senior editor for Yoga International magazine, Sandra Anderson’s work draws on her studies of traditional yoga texts and her extensive visits to India, where she conducts an annual yoga teacher training program. Sandra holds a degree in geology and began her studies in yoga while working in the environmental protection field. Initiated into the Himalayan tradition in 1988, she lives at HI and teaches all aspects of yoga.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training with Shri

This will be my last teacher training program until 2015 so if you are thinking of taking TT with me- then now is the time!

Bliss Yoga Shala

200 Hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training with Shri Hamilton-Hubbard
February through November 2012

Tuition: $3000.00 -includes unlimited classes at Bliss Yoga Shala for the duration of the TT program and all workshops including a weekend of Yoga with Sandra Anderson at Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. (transportation to Honesdale is not included) All workshops are in the Jacksonville area except for our weekend at HI.  (Absolutely no refunds will be issued)

Participants must be registered by Feb 1 in order to book workshops!


Orientation: Saturday 28 at noon (We meet for an hour)

Sat and Sun February 11 and 12: Meditation weekend with Dr. Rolf Sovik (Jax)

Sunday March 11: Restorative Yoga Workshop with Kate Cordell (Jax)

Saturday March 31: Temple of Sound/ Nada Purification Workshop with Kirtan Master Bagavan Das (Jax)

Sat April 28: TT at Bliss

Sunday May 6: Meditation retreat at Honeycreek Retreat Center in Georgia (an hour away)

Fri through Sunday May 18-20: Yoga and The Vayus Weekend Retreat with Sandra Anderson at HI in Honesdale, PA.

Sat June 9: TT at Bliss

Sunday June 24: Therapeutic Yoga for the Back with Joan Ryan (Jax)

July, Sat 7/14 and Sat 7/21: TT at Bliss

Aug, Sat 8/11 and Sat 8/25: TT at Bliss

Sept, Sun 9/16 and Sun 9/23: TT at Bliss

Oct, Sun 10/14 and Sun 10/28: TT at Bliss

Nov, Sun 11/11 and Sun 11/18: TT at Bliss

Other guest teachers include: Anatomy with Derek Gill and the Yoga Sutras with Stan Hubbard

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Head and the Heart

The ancient stories are either mythology or scripture- depending on which house you were born into.....
either way, the stories are here to teach us lessons.

Once upon a time, the archetype Lord Shiva decided that he would go to Earth and teach the humans how to live a life of devotion.  He would incarnate in the body of Hanuman- half monkey and half man.  His wife at the time, Shakti, would not let Shiva go alone for his task so she came with him as the tail of the monkey.  Shakti is energy and monkeys play and have fun swinging by their tails.

Hanuman took his birth on Earth and as a baby he looked up at the Sun and thought it was a ripe, juicy mango.  He made a giant leap up toward the Sun to eat it and Lord Indra shot a bolt of lightning at the baby monkey to prevent him from eating the Sun.  The bolt of lightning broke Hanumans jaw- his name literally means one whose jaw was broken.  Hanuman was taken to a hospital for healing and was taught the science of mantra- sacred sound- in order to facilitate his healing and recuperation.  So, the breaking of his jaw was actually auspicious because it was his initiation into mantra.  Often in life, what appears to be a challenge eventually becomes a blessing.  After Hanuman was healed, he decided to continue his studies in mantra in earnest and asked around for a mantra teacher.  Everyone told him that the Sun was the very best mantra teacher.  Hanuman asked the Sun to take him on as a disciple but the Sun was still upset about Hanuman trying to bite him so he initially refused.  Hanuman continued to ask and promised that he would be very good and the Sun finally relented and took Hanuman on as a dedicated student of mantra. Hanuman eventually becomes a master of Mantra and a living example of a life of surrender and devotion.

We are taught in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that mantra brings union with one's beloved deity (source of inspiration) and obstacles are cleared.  Hanuman's beloved deity (ishta devata) is Ram and the ancient stories are filled with tales of Hanuman's loyalty and devotion to Ram.   Hanuman's actions and his practice of sacred sound (mantra)  brings him union with Ram.  In one story, Hanuman rips open his heart to show the world that Ram is there residing in his heart.

For many people, the 11.11.11 auspicious date that we just experienced is thought of as a portal, an entryway into a new age- an age of higher consciousness and increased harmony.  Jyotish, Vedic Astrology, agrees in that it predicts a 14 year cycle which begins now for humanity- a cycle where the prevailing theme is the urge to merge.  Inverted poses facilitate the lessons of Hanuman because in those shapes, the head is lower than the heart.  We are reminded that ideally the mind should serve the desires of the heart.  In this age, we will all feel the impulse to merge the heart and the mind.  Sometimes the heart wants one thing and the mind talks us into another.  This conflict will often affect our physical health in negative ways.

Chinese medicine teaches a strong connnection between heart and mind.  It is said that when we sleep, the mind is housed in the heart, which is why we wake up in a good mood, feeling refreshed.  Conversely, when we do not sleep, we are often cranky - like a dog that is agitated because it cannot get into its house.  Most major organs in the body have their own meridian, but the brain does not have its own meridian because it is said to be ruled by the heart meridian, which ends in the pinky finger.

This week in the shala, we will honor Hanuman and learn about Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion, by practicing inverted poses and mantra and paying particular attention to our pinky fingers in asana and mudra work.  And, we'll practice a pose that reminds us of Hanumans auspicious leap toward the Sun- his initiation into the magic of mantra- the Mango Pose!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule

Holiday Schedule:

Thanksgiving Day:  9 am All Levels Detox Flow with Pam  (The only class for the day)

All other classes remain the same and the Saturday after Thanksgiving at 8 am with Shri we'll be practicing to music- getttin your groove on Shala style.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Judgement, Dreadlocks, Smart Cars and Solitude

Several months ago, I decided to dreadlock my hair.  I had been thinking about this for a long time- for me its a permanent change to my hair and I wanted to make sure it was right for me.  I have always been drawn to statues of Shiva with his beautiful dreadlocked hair holding the Moon and the sacred Ganga river in it.  I was uprepared for how much of a topic of conversation my hair would become, which is kind of ironic because that was part of my thinking that I no longer wanted to invest time in my hair- it feels like I have bigger fish to fry at this point in my life.  So many people wanted to know about the dreads and why I would want to do it.  Most people were just plain curious, but a few conversations were with people trying to convince me that I was making a decision that I would regret.  Even a few people who like dreadlocks told me that I was doing it the wrong way and that of course their way was the right way, which is again ironic because part of dread culture is freedom of expression.

I also recently purchased a Smart Car.  These cute, bitesized cars first took off in Europe and are just now becoming popular in the US.  I liked the idea of downsizing- physically and financially and of reducing my carbon footprint because my previous car was an SUV.  Again, my car has been a topic of conversation among friends and strangers.  Most people just smile when they see my car- its cute and fun.  One unsolicited conversation with a complete stranger at a gas station consisted of the well meaning ? stranger giving me a list of reasons why my car was unsafe and downright dangerous.  As he returned to the comfort and safety of his SUV, I'm sure he felt as though he had convinced me of the gravity of my mistake in purchasing my car and had educated me on the right way to choose a car.

Increasingly over the past 13 years of teaching Yoga, I have become quite a hermit.  I think because I spend almost every single day of my life teaching to groups, I have a profound need for more solitude.  I am highly creative and solitude, especially in nature, inspires me.  I have always viewed the solitary life of cloistered monks and nuns as romantic and my Guruji spent 40 years alone in a cottage high in the Himalayas meditating.  So, I have had a longtime love affair with and deep respect for solitude and my career dharma has only made that love more passionate.  I do love connecting with others, but I prefer to do so in very small groups, one on one is even better, because I find trying to communicate in a large group is very distracting and difficult.  Yet, many people just do not understand this need and longing to be alone and quiet.  Im sure the Buddha and Thoreau had people urging them to get out more- get out from under that tree already!  leave that pond for the love of God!  For many rishis- the path includes some time of isolation and quiet contemplation.  This is often difficult for the western mind to grasp.  And sometimes people are very vocal in urging me to get out more or to join this group or that group.

In all 3 instances, I could have either told people to mind their own business or to look at where I might be judging others.  I have a strong belief that whatever happens to us is a karmic response to what we are putting out- sowing and reaping.  Judgment is the labeling of something as right or wrong.  It sometimes includes in my case people telling me what is right or wrong for me.  I think I will choose to tell them to mind their own business AND to look at judgment in my own life.

Nonjudgmentalism  develops over time as the soul matures.  Nonjudgmentalism may be defined as tolerance for other's choices.  A step in the right direction is at least moving from this is right and this is wrong to this is wrong for me.  It changes the direction of the thinking from outward moving to inward moving and gets us to start thinking about ourselves and tuning into what we're feeling about what we're seeing.  Why is what I'm seeing bringing up judgment in me?  My husband and I met and married only 5 months later.  When we told our friends and family about our upcoming marriage, we found it interesting that the people who vocalized the most concern about our hasty marriage were people who were the most unhappy in their own marriages.  Often, when we judge it is indicative of an imbalance in our own lives in that area.

Wise Yogis pay attention when non tolerance bubbles to the surface in our thought patterns.  There is a fine line between judgment and discrimination and this is complicated further if one happens to be a Yoga teacher where our dharma is about helping others to be the best that they can be.  We need discrimination to choose the best words, actions, friends, foods, etc for ourselves and compassion helps us to not be so harsh or critical with ourselves.  When our discrimination spills over into labeling the actions of others as good or bad, I believe this requires even more mindfulness and compassion and perhaps restraint and patience to pause and consider whether our non tolerance of that person's actions is altruistic or serves some non positive, petty desire in ourselves.  The book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism is all about how it is quite common for modern Yogis to use spiritual language in a desire to make a non positive action appear altruistic.  "I told her she was being a bitch to help her."  Again, a slippery slope, but not insurmountable fortunately.  Tolerance, patience, compassion, awareness and clarity of vision all develop over time with a regular practice.  "Practice and all is coming."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yoga and Christianity

This entry is for someone who recently asked me about practicing Yoga as a Christian- you know who you are- this is for you!
Yoga is a science- not a religion.  It is a science that can work well when practiced along side a religion- any religion.  What we call Yoga is Classical Yoga philosophy based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali- a very old text that was originally passed down through an oral tradition so dating these scriptures is difficult, but many historians and theologians consider Yoga to be 5000 years old.  It is through this text that we learn about the 8 Limbs of Yoga.

1. yamas: restraints or abstinences

   a) ahimsa: nonviolence

   b) satya: truthfulness

   c) asteya: non-stealing

   d) brahmacharya: moderation in sensual gratification- sex, eating, sleeping, etc.

   e) aparigraha: non greed, non-hoarding

2. niyamas: observances

   a) saucha: purity in word, thought and deed, cleanliness

  b) santocha: contentment

  c) tapas:  zeal for practice, discipline

  d) svadhyaya: study of spiritual books, self study

  e) Isvara pranidhanam: surrender, devotion and/or worship of God

3. asana: physical postures

4. pranayama: control of the breath or life force

5. pratyahara: voluntary sense withdrawal, choosing to turn our focus inward

6. dharana: concentration

7. dhyana: meditation (which is sustained concentration)

8. samadhi: bliss, super conscious state (which is sustained meditation)

The Yamas and Niyamas are similar ethical guidelines as the 10 Commandments of the Bible and they even go further- I love the guideline Santocha- practice contentment.  The 8 Limbs to me seem to be in alignment with Christian ideals.  We know from the Bible that Christ meditated.  The physical postures of Yoga are actually a very small part of the science and are used to make the body and mind healthy enough and calm enough for meditation.  Meditation is the cornerstone of Yogic practice.  Minds have always been noisy, but the hectic pace of modern life in particular creates a mind that is agitated, stressed and filled with to do lists.  Meditation makes the mind quiet enough to hear the voice of Divine guidance- the voice of God- whatever your name is for God.  The Yogic science unites the realms of body, mind and spirit.  The Yogis learned that breath is the bridge between these realms- so working with the breath is part of the science. 

Patanjali used the word "Isvara" for God in the Sutras.  There were many other names for God being used at the time which he could have used, but he chose this word specifically.  Isvara means "that which rules over the diversity of manifestation".  It is close enough to be a Divine blank- so that the Yoga practitioner could use their own personal name for God or even to use no personalized name at all- Classical Yoga may be practiced by people seeing Nature as God or even by atheists.

The name by which we call the Divine is largely based on which house we were born into.  The creation story we learned as children is either myth or scripture depending on where or when you were born.  God is like the sun in the sky- the sun goes by different names in different languages, but they all describe the same heavenly body.

Patanjali tells us to study spiritual books, but does not say which spiritual books, that is up to us.
Patanjali tells us to surrender to God, but does not tell us which God to surrender to, that is up to us.

To me, this is the genius of the Yogic system- this is why it has been around for 5 thousand years.  Many wars have been fought over which name we will call God- many lives have been lost over that fight.  Yoga simply takes that element out of the equation so that the practice and science is universal, cross cultural and timeless.

I have included this short interview with Father Bede Griffiths, 1906-1993.  Father Bede was a Benedictine monk who spent a lifetime teaching a fusion of monastic Catholicism and Eastern science, including Yoga, all fully sanctioned by the Vatican.
For more information you might read one of Father Bede's many books- A New Vision of Reality:  Western Science, Eastern Mysticism and Christian Faith

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Introduction to Sanskrit Workshop

Join us November 4-6 for an Introduction to Sanskrit Workshop with Zoe Mai of the American Sanskrit Institute.  go to http://www.blissyogashala.com/ for more information or to register.

Ken's 5:30 pm Friday night class will be cancelled for this night ONLY- sorry for any inconvenience, but the teacher is flying in from New York and we have so much ground to cover.

I am taught that the Matrika- the organization of sound known as the Sanskrit alphabet- has 51 distinct sounds.  The lotuses of the main chakras along the spine add up to 51 as well- also the number of meridians located there.  (Sahasara is either the thousand petaled lotus or is represented by 1 lotus- the count of 51 of course uses 1 for Sahasara.)  Each distinct sound in Sanskrit heals a unique part of us.  The Samkhya rishis found that sound (shabda) comes from space (Akash).  Space is the most subtle of all the elements, therefore it is the most powerful of the elements.  Working with sound is powerful magic.  Ganesh is the ruler of the Matrika so the practice of Sanskrit will clear obstructions in the lines of energy in our bodies and remove obstacles in our lives.

Complaining and Skillful Action

Karma = Action
Vasanas = Mental Tendencies, thoughts

Action produces Thoughts
Thoughts Produce Action and Action Produces Thought and Thought Produces Action and Action Produces Thought and Thought Produces Action.......you get the picture
The type of action performed will determine the type of thought produced.

Karma produces vasanas, mental tendencies , that make us want to perform that very same action over and over again. (like increases like) Then we perform the action again and new vasanas are produces that make us want to perform that same action yet again! It’s a vicious cycle that will continue until we develop our 2 wings- awareness and power. Awareness gives us the insight that we seem to be performing the same action over and over again. And power gives us the energy to stop the cycle by learning to perform only those actions that we would like to repeat.
In class, I used the example of complaining. People who complain seem to complain regularly. If we complain, then vasanas are produced that make us want to complain more in the future. Circumstances are even pulled our way so that our complaining will be allowed to manifest. If I have the awareness that I complain regularly, or someone tells me :), and I have the awareness that complaining is an inefficient use of my voice and I have the power (shakti) to do something about that, then this would be a game plan: Complaining is victim mentality so if I find that I am in a situation that I have the ability to change then , rather than complaining about the situation, I will ask for what I want to be changed. If I am in a situation that I cannot change, then I will look for the good in the situation FIRST and then embrace what is. Even if you are complaining on the inside- whats important is that we do not act out- we neither speak nor act from this vasana. If we continue to refuse to plant the seed of action then eventually the mental tendencies are no longer present that compel us to act in this way. This is amazingly efficient mind training and makes life so much easier.

If you have people in your life who complain regularly and you're thinking about trying to give them this equation to change- remember that someone needs to have sufficient awareness and power to change this habit, otherwise, its like singing a song to a deaf man.

The Art of Managing the Unconscious Mind

The seeds of destiny lie in your unconscious mind. If you have not learned the art of managing your unconscious mind, then you are a victim of destiny.- Swami Rama

Yoga and modern psychology agree that what is compelling us to speak and act in the ways that we do is the nature of the unconscious mind. If we can find a way to gain access to that part of the mind and integrate what is there in our lives, then we are free to speak and act with more awareness. (some teachers make a distinction between the subconscious mind and the unconscious mind, but for our conversation, we will use the term unconscious because that is what Swami Rama used and it will refer to the parts of our mind that are beneath the surface.)

Meditation is the Yogic method for managing the unconscious mind. The thoughts that have been produced from past actions are released from the unconscious mind when are able to watch them in meditation. “Observe, but don’t get involved.”- Rod Stryker. When we watch on a regular basis, we have a better chance of making positive decisions about which actions we will perform. The thoughts and emotions that we carry around in the unconscious mind require some energy to keep them there- repressed. When we watch and release them in meditation, we then have some extra energy to be used in other areas of our lives and we lighten our emotional loads- we feel lighter- we raise our vibration.

That which we do not make conscious later emerges as fate. – Jung

We shall trace the

Origin of seed.

The seed of Prajapati,

Lord of Creatures, are the Gods.

The seed of the Gods is rain.

The seed of rain is herbs.

That of herbs is food,

The seed of food is seed,

The seed of seed are creatures,

The seed of creatures,

Is the Heart.

The seed of the Heart is mind.

The seed of mind is speech.

The seed of speech is action.

Action done in a former state is this Mankind.

The dwelling place of Brahman.

The Principal Upanishads

I LOVE this- Rain is divine- God is in the rain, who we are is based on past actions, and it is a statement of nonduality- we are the dwelling place of God- we are divine.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vak Siddhi

"Do not be afraid of the word revolution; Bob Marley did not call his group the whiners, they were the Wailers.  We have a moral imperative to use our voice to wail about authentic grievances."  Dr. Cornel West- a Princeton professor and activist, speaking to the Occupy Wall street Movement.

Vak Siddi is one of the minor siddhis, or accomplishments, that Yogis may attain through sincere spiritual practice.  Vak means speech or voice so the accomplishment of Vak Siddhi is the ability to speak and make changes to the material universe.  Vak Siddhi is the discovery of the voice as a powerful tool for manifesting and exploring the scope of its potential.  Masters throughout the ages, like Jesus, have demonstrated this ability.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali give us the recipe for attainment this skill.  If we use our voice in truthful, positive, life affirming and loving ways, then the siddhi develops spontaneously.  When we tell non truths or misuse the power of our voices by gossiping or even just talking too much, we limit our ability to manifest with our voices.  Satya is the path of truth.  It is a life long pursuit of knowing truth, speaking truth and ultimately learning to live our greatest truth.  The practice of Satya produces Vak Siddhi.

I have seen the power of Vak Siddhi is my own life.  Once we realize the power of our voices, then we learn to use that power wisely.  Be careful what you ask for.......

"The word is a force; it is the intent.  That is why our intention manifests through the word no matter what language we speak."
Don Miguel Ruiz

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Selfishness VS Altruism

Yogic/ Tantric Philosophy
Be Good- Do Good
Love All- Serve All
Values the combination of intuitive and analytical problem solving
There is an interconnection between all beings. We are all one.

Objectivism Philosphy (As taught by Ayn Rand)
Sees productive achievement and the pursuit of individual happiness as man's noblest activities.
Rejects the ethical doctrine of altruism and embraces selfishness as a life path.
Rejects feeling and intuition as sources of knowledge and values perception, logic and reason
Ayn Rand: “We should not love everyone indiscriminately, not everyone is worthy of love.”

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a Russian immigrant who came to this country to escape the oppression of Communist Russia. She worked briefly in film making with Cecile B. DeMille and later wrote the wildly successful books The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand wrote of her philosophical ideas in her books and the tradition she created later came to be called Objectivism. Rand’s philosophy was widely criticized in the US, particularly because selfishness was the antithesis of Judeo-Christian ideals. Objectivism struck a chord within the business community however, especially for bankers and financiers. Many thought so highly of Rand that they would name businesses and even children after her. One long time, devoted disciple of Ayn Rand was Alan Greenspan- head of the Federal Reserve Bank from 1987 to 2006. (The Fed by the way is a private bank. It is about as federal as Federal Express. Since 1913, the Fed has printed currency for the US government and charges us interest to use the money. This idea of a centralized bank was one of the grievances that our founding fathers had with England and one of the reasons the Revolutionary War was fought.)

Alan Greenspan talked President Bill Clinton into using Rand’s philosophy for running the Fed in 1989 (Greenspan later said that he couldn’t believe that Clinton actually agreed). The actions of the Fed are the cornerstone of US economics and markets around the globe respond to its actions as well. Rand’s philosophy on government was the complete separation of economics and state. An unregulated government was the best way to create peaceful cooperation and justice and harmony in her opinion. The US went from 90% regulation on financial products in the 80s to nearly 100% deregulation in the 90s. Alan Greenspan, after the financial collapse of 2008, blamed “infectious greed” and deregulation of derivatives on Wall Street as the primary reasons for the collapse. He admitted “I WAS WRONG.”

The implications of US economics and a significant portion of Wall Street using selfishness as a mission statement for decades are enormous and frankly, this gives me a greater understanding of exactly how we lost our way.

PS: I have a compassionate understanding of how the seed was planted in Ayn Rand for Objectivism. She came from Communist Russia, where altruism was a method the regime used for controlling the citizenry. Mother Russia asked for her citizens to offer all that they had for the greater good of the state- no matter how oppressive that state was. Communist Russia was all about rules and regulations imposed by the government on its people. Ayn was so devastated and bitter from her experience in Russia that she simply could not see a productive, beneficial use for altruism and government regulation so she turned to selfishness as the answer. As with everyone, her past colored her perception and distorted it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why Yogis Should Become Social Activists

Ken Wilbur gives a simplistic, but dead on, definition of people with left wing ideals and people with right wing ideals. ( This is not a definition of Democratic and Republican ideals because those categories are quite broad with many varieties.)

If we ask the question - why are some people poor in the US?
The left wing answer is because those people were not given the same opportunities as others, the deck is stacked against some people in our country. So the answer is because of outside circumstances and deficiencies.

The right wing answer is because those people do not have efficient work ethics. Many people in this country have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps and succeeded. So the right wing answer is because of inner circumstances and deficiencies.

So, who is right?? A more enlightened answer is that both left and right are correct- its a little of both. And to most efficiently create a solution to the problem, it would be best to address both parts of the problem.

President Bill Clinton was proposing something just like this years ago- The Responsibility and Opportunity Welfare Program. It was a stroke of genius that appealed to both political polarities. Soon after, Mr. Clinton lost any sort of power he wielded in D.C. with the Monica scandal and the welfare program never came to fruition.

This is very similar to the differing world views of those who are on a spiritual path and those who are not. Yogis, Tantrikas, Buddhists, Sufis, Kabbalists- those on a spiritual path think the best way to change the world is from the inside out. The world will be peaceful on the outside when all of its people are peaceful on the inside and the way to accomplish that is thru spiritual practice. So many Yogis, myself included until just a few years ago, drop out of political conversation and are not interested in social change. Many do not even vote.
People who are not on a spiritual path think the best way to change the world is by getting out there and letting their voice be heard by politicians.

What would happen if we tried to change the world using BOTH methods? Do the inner work AND the outer work.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I am a Vegetarian

I am a Vegetarian along with:
George Bernard Shaw
Charles Darwin
Sir Isaac Newton
Leonardo Da Vinci
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Albert Einstein
Thomas Edison
Paul McCartney
Princess Diana

As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.
Leo Tolstoy

While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this Earth?
George Bernard Shaw

For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill eachother. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

When man is uncivilized, he kills poor animals and eats them.
Srila Prabhupada

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I am a Food Activist

I am a Food Activist!

I believe Farming (now Pharming) is one of the biggest issues of our time. Food has always been used as a weapon. He who has the food, has the power. The way food is being grown now by a small handful of pharmaceutical and chemical companies is all about power and greed. Big pharming's agenda is to get rid of small farmers all over the planet so that they have the monopoly on food. Whatever else you might read about trying to feed the planet is an outright lie. This is all about money.

Big pharming uses GMO varieties of food. A GMO is when 2 organisms that would never mix DNA in the natural world, say a fish and a strawberry, are combined in laboratories producing a new variety of frankenfood. Because these organisms would never come together naturally, unnatural, invasive means are necessary to produce these experimental foods- like by injecting viruses and bacteria. Does adding a virus or a bacteria to your food sound like a good thing? A GMO is produced for only 2 reasons: to either allow the plant to eat poison or to produce poison. Neither reason is beneficial for the consumer ONLY for the chemical and pharmaceutical companies. The GMO variety of crop can take in more pesticides without killing the plant so that farmers can use more and more pesticides which we then eat. (And which are sold by the Pharming Companies!) Or the plant produces its own pesticides which we then eat.

Many of the "weeds" that the use of more and more pesticides around the world kills are greens that poor people eat and medicinal plants that the whole world uses.

Big pharming in the past tried to use the excuse that GMOs were being cultivated to produce larger harvests in order to feed the world. Even they no longer use that excuse because one of the crops that GMOs are being created for is Alfalfa. Alfalfa is a crop that does not currently even need pesticides!! The only reason to create GMO alfalfa is to contaminate the world's organic dairy farms. If an organic milk cow eats contaminated alfalfa, it will no longer produce organic dairy products and then GMO technology can move into the dairy aisle and make more money.

The FDA is relying on the companies that sell these foods to do the appropriate testing on these foods- remember when we were told DDT was safe? What we often find is that animals will refuse to eat these foods, but we are eating these foods daily without even the requirement of labeling on the food that lets us know that it is a GMO (genetically modified organism.) If you eat anything with corn or soy in it ( and corn and soy are in EVERYTHING, read labels!) you are eating GMO varieties of both corn and soy. I picked up some tea bags the other day and looked at the ingredients and soy was on the label. GMO technology has only been around about 10 years or so. We have yet to really see what the long term consequences are for a lifetime of eating GMOs with pesticides.

GMO varieties of food are biological and genetic pollution on the planet. But, unlike chemical pollution which diminishes over time, GMO pollution is self generating and only gets bigger and bigger. It simply cannot coexist with the other natural varieties- it invades and destroys until it is the only one around- like we have seen with corn, soy and canola plants- the first phase of the experiment. Unbelievably, the FDA has allowed these new varieties of GMOs to be patented so there are cases in court now where GMO crops have been carried by wind to organic crops and contaminated the organic crop. Big pharming is actually suing the organic farmers for patent infringement!!! And, big pharming is using patented "terminator technology" on seeds. This means the seed will only produce once so that contrary to the way farmers have farmed for thousands of years, now they need to purchase new seed every single year from the pharming co's. The seeds are made sterile. Does this sound like a good idea- to make the natural world sterile?? (The US govt is one of the patent holders on terminator technology by the way.) This has put many farmers out of business all over the world- which is part of the plan.

Food should be affordable but not cheap. The US, in relationship to income, pays less for their food than most of the world and our health care costs are the highest in the world. It seems we can either pay money for great, local, organic produce or we can pay the doctor.

As a Yogi and Tantrika, food is energy. I am very picky about the energy that I allow in. Food creates tissue in the body 40 days after we eat it, according to Ayurveda. We are literally made of the food that we eat. I want food that is alive and vital, farmed in a way that does as little harm as possible in the world.

Support your local CSA- community supported agriculture- you pay a share to the local farm and then get weekly produce throughout the growing season. Good healthy food should be a right in this country and we are letting that right slip away by letting local, organic farmers go out of business. Sign up this season for local organic produce from KYV Farms:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I am Series

I am an Intellectual.
I am a Mystic.
I am a thinker and a non thinker.

Intellectuals are the moral conscience of their age, their task being to observe the political and social situation of the moment and to speak out freely in accordance with their conscience.
Jean Paul Sartre
An intellectual supports the democratic principles of freedom, equality, justice, human rights, social welfare, and environmental, political and social improvement.

Mystic: An initiate of a mystery religion, one in pursuit of communion with, identity with or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct, or insight. Mysticism usually centers on a practice or practices intended to nurture those experiences or awareness.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I am a Peace Activist

I am a Peace Activist.

There, it feels so good to say that! For Yogis, one of the highest precepts is Ahimsa- the teaching of nonviolence. We are to practice nonviolence in our thoughts, our words and our actions. A perfect action harms no one, including ourselves.

On being firmly established in ahimsa, there is abandonment of hostility in his vicinity.
Yoga Sutras 2.35

When established in ahimsa, there develops a kind of magnetism around one that influences anybody who approaches. One becomes free of a very dangerous, evil complex- that of violence and hostility.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is an act of murder.
Albert Einstein
The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.
Thomas Jefferson

In modern warfare, 90% of casualties are civilian!

In a time where it is glaringly apparent that the US is living beyond its means by over spending AND not taking in enough revenue, I believe a defense (OFFENSE) budget of 379 Billion is completely ridiculous. This amount is more than the rest of the world combined. In order to really understand a person, or a country, look at how they spend their money.

Most people in the this country have no idea that gas prices are subsidized by the US government. This would be like the government paying me money to so that I can sell my Yoga classes at cheaper prices- I wish! This country has been built around the idea of a free market with fewer regulations. Seems like the free market is being held back here. If gas prices were not subsidized, then people would stop buying as much gas and the free market would produce products run by sustainable sources of energy. If the US were not so dependent on oil, our reserves will run out in 10 years, then foreign policy would look dramatically different. If we say we are for democracy and pro human rights, then a country like Saudi Arabia would not be our ally.
Only 7% of US citizens have passports- the vast majority have never been outside the country to really get a taste of what the world thinks of us. The US is now an empire with over a hundred years of acts of terrorism carried out in our names.
Modern Peace Activists for more reading and information:
Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jiva Code- the I Am Series

The Vedic term for soul is Atman, which means essence. The Atman has two distinct aspects- Para which means "supreme, highest, or culmination" and Jiva which means "individual or personal". Paramatman is the infinite and unconditional essence that is beyond all limitation, eternal and changeless. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, a sacred text from the seventh century, describes this higher aspect of soul beautifully: "Omnipresent, dwelling in the heart of every living creature...He is the inner Self of all, hidden like a little flame in the heart...Know Him and all fetters will fall away." Your paramatman is identical to the Divine; there is no separation or distinction. "Ahum brahma smi" (I am one with the Absolute), say the Vedas.

Jivatman, on the other hand, is the individual soul. Think of it as your spiritual thumbprint, utterly unique for everyone. It is the part of you that, from the moment you were conceived, determines your uniqueness, your distint capacities, talents, and challenges as well as your inclinations- the individual aspect of you that make you uniquely who you are.
From The Four Desires by Rod Stryker

The concept of Dharma is the realization of our greatest potential. Dharma is our unique purpose for this lifetime- the fullfillment of the jivatman's deepest desires to serve humanity.

One of my teacher's, Rod Stryker, challenges Yogis to formulate a Jiva Code. The Jiva Code is a statement of our soul's defining purpose, it is the guiding principle by which we live life. It is not simply a goal because goals come and go. The Jiva Code is a constant, unwavering calling which informs our actions and interactions.

One should think long and hard on the formulation of the Jiva Code. For me, I sat with this idea for over a year. I knew the Jiva Code would be birthed when it was fully formed, ripe and ready for action. Recently, my Jiva Code ripened and the fullness of my dharma was made clear to me.

I am a revolutionary.

I use the I am with reverence. I believe it to be a manifesting incantation. Whatever we say after I am is self fullfilling prophesy. Whatever a person believes is either true or will become true. I am a revolutionary in that the revolutionary is devoted to positive change and transformation. I intend for my actions to be guided by a deep rooted desire to be an instrument of positive change. Fire is a means for transformation- my Jiva Code challenges me to make life a fire ceremony.

The true revolutionary is guided by love.
Che Guevara

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Observer Effect

In 1909, Geoffrey Ingram Taylor, a British physicist, devised the famous Double Slit Experiment and began a revolution in the way we view ourselves in the universe. The bottom line of his experiment was that the mere presence of consciousness in a room- people- affected the way the quantum particles (the stuff the world is made of) behaved.

On February 26, 1998, Taylor's experiment was repeated by scientists at Israel's Weismann Institute of Science. Not only did they confirm that our world is affected just by observation, but they discovered that "the greater the amount of 'watching', the greater the observer's influence on what actually take place."

The most important advice I can give to a Yogi on the mat and in life is to pay attention.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Class Schedule Change Announcement

As some of you may know Padma is in Canada getting her 500 hour Yoga certification so her Friday 9:05 am class is postponed through August 5. She will be back teaching on Friday August 12.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Appropriate Use of Power: The Pentagon Papers

Dr. Daniel Ellsberg was a top US military analyst in the 1960s working under then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Because of his very high security clearance, he had access to a top secret Pentagon study on the Vietnam War. After reading the study, it became clear that the government had lied and was currently lying to both Congress and the US public about the circumstances that led to the start of the war and the longterm goals for that war. There was also a high level coverup regarding the reporting of the number of casualties on both sides and the updates on US progress were deliberately misleading. Dr. Ellsberg was at the peak of his career but risked everything, even life in jail, to make copies of the report and send it to members of the Congress and several leading newspapers. Then President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called Ellsberg the most dangerous man in the US and recordings of White House tapes show that Nixon was livid with Ellsberg and was out for serious revenge. Ellsberg was tried for treason, but was set free with a mistrial verdict because the Nixon government was found to be guilty of illegal breakins and wiretapping throughout the case. (This apparently set the standard for the Nixon administration's future ethics.)

I love a story where one ordinary person understands their power and in doing so changes the world. The very, very sad part of this story is that even when the Pentagon Papers were published for the whole world to see, President Nixon was reelected by a landslide and the Vietnam War raged on for another 5 years.

Earth element energy is about finding your personal power. Earth energy is the slow, patient strength of a dandelion pushing its way up through a sidewalk to reach the sun. It is a sustainable strength that is in it for the long haul and is integrated into daily life. The Earth represents power that is grounded. When we see wrongdoing, it is Earth element that gives us the strength to speak up and take righteous action, no matter what the consequences.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rising Lakshmi

This week our theme in the studio is the element of water. Water is a means for humans to experience buoyancy. We crave buoyancy, lightness and spaciousness and in that buoyancy is the possibility of profound healing.
The archetypal deity Lakshmi rises out of a churning ocean perched on a lotus flower. She is the embodiment of the physical and emotional lightness that Yogis crave. Lakshmi is primordial abundance, spiritual radiance and divine light.
Once upon a time......the sage Durvasa gave a gift to Indra, the supervisor of sorts of all the gods and goddesses. Indra does not recognize the importance of the gift and discards it. (The gift was a garland with an intoxicating fragrance, but that part of the story is not relevant today.) Durvasa becomes enraged that Indra tosses his heartfelt gift aside and curses Indra and all of the gods and goddesses to lose their power. The powerful curse works and all the gods and goddesses indeed lose all their power.
The deities go to Brahma first with their problem and are sent to Vishnu for assistance. Vishnu says this is what you need to do......gather all of your friends, all the gods and goddesses, and all of your enemies, the asuras (demons), gather sacred herbs from the 4 directions and churn the ocean. The churning brings up good things and bad things from the ocean floor. One of the not so good things is a poison, hala hala. Lord Shiva lends a hand to take this poison out of the ocean and into his mouth. He holds the poison in his throat, that place between heart and mind, and it is so toxic that it turns his throat blue. One of Shiva's names is the Blue Throated One. Shiva holds the poison in his throat and it explodes into divine sound vibration and mantra is created. One of the good things that the churning brings up is the archetypal force Lakshmi, an abundant, ascending energy that rises from the waters of the ocean on a lotus. She is surrounded by honey bees who swirl around her. Ultimately, the churning brings up the nectar of immortality from the ocean and power of the gods and goddesses is restored.
These stories are both old and new. They happened a long time ago and they are happening all the time inside of us. The old stories of the Yogic texts are road maps toward joy, peace and power.
This story tells of how the gods and goddesses reclaim their power and the story for us is a recipe for human empowerment. Vishnu advises the deities to gather all their friends and enemies- we are to embrace all parts of ourself- those parts we like and those parts that we are not proud of for whatever reason. Vishnu says to collect herbs from the 4 directions- we access insight from the East, we experience transformation from the South, we cultivate healing from the West and we receive ancestral wisdom from the North. The churning of the Ocean is the purification of the Yogic techniques. Our Yogic practice is the churning that brings up both the good and the bad- we begin to see our gifts and our shortcomings with improved clarity. The churning also brings up the gift of lift, lightness and buoyancy. And ultimately the churning brings up the nectar of immortality and the Yogi is no longer bound by the limitations of time and space, perfect empowerment is realized. Lakshmi is surrounded by honey bees- their buzzing reminds us of the lofty power of divine sound, mantra. The story tells us that Indra throws away a gift without realizing its value- sometimes we receive "gifts", like illness or adversity, that only later we might come to see the value in.
This week, we explore a Rising Lakshmi sequence of poses. The sacred geometrical shapes cultivate lift, lightness and buoyancy, the essence of water element. Physical lightness creates emotional lightness. Lakshmi is She with Lotus Hands and Feet, we are reminded that lift comes from rooting down and hands and feet are often our roots in asana. Water has a relationship with the second energy center, or chakra, in the hips. Our rising Lakshmi sequence explores spaciousness and lift in the hips.

Om Shreem MahaLakshmiyei Namaha!
I embrace Abundance, Radiance, Ascension and Light!

Friday, June 3, 2011

What is the difference between retreat and vacation?

In a word, intention.

When we travel on vacation, we have intentions like seeing family, sightseeing, eating at amazing restaurants and/or rest and relaxation. The intention for a retreat is PRACTICE.

The practice of concentration on a single subject (or the use of one technique) is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments.

Yoga Sutras 1.32

Then Patanjali goes on to speak of the many ways and techniques to practice concentration and therefore quiet the mind....

Or by concentrating on subtle sense perceptions can cause steadiness of mind.

Yoga Sutras 1.35

Over the holiday weekend, a group of Yogis from Bliss travelled to Satchidananda Ashram in Yogaville (really!), Virginia. We were there to learn and practice concentrating on subtle sense perceptions with world famous kirtan wallah Krishna Das. The practice of kirtan might seem like playing music and singing along but it is one of the ways Yogis can cultivate a quiet mind by focusing on divine sound vibration. Over the weekend, we were scheduled to practice kirtan 14 hours with KD. Even with time for question and answer and potty breaks, that is an impressive duration for sustained practice time.

I say that Yogaville is beautiful but not because it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen, but because the experience is beautiful and the environment facilitates a beautiful experience. Ashrams or Yoga retreat centers traditionally are spartan, not too fancy but clean and spacious nestled in a natural setting (no tvs or phones in rooms). The scriptures talk specifically about being close to nature when doing serious practice. The food is amazing, not because it is the best food I have ever had, but because it is delicious in a way that does not over indulge the senses and it sets the foundation for the state of meditation to happen. I have worked in the kitchen as a volunteer and prayers are said all day long to bless the food and much of the food comes from their very own organic garden. The food is satvic- pure, light and simple.

Making time for extra practice has its rewards. Almost always, the body and mind feel rejuvenated and a new insight comes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Memorial Day Holiday Schedule

Memorial Day Holiday Schedule:
Monday, May 30: 9 am Open Level Flow with Padma, (no 6 pm class that night)

Bliss Yoga Class Photo Shoot

To look at photos by Ingrid Damiani from the Bliss Yoga class photo shoot go to:

You may contact Ingrid directly to order and pay for any shots you would like.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Sunday 2011

Sherri will be teaching her regular Sunday 11 am class this weekend Easter Day. Join her- everyBUNNYS gonna be there!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Root Lock

The Root Lock in Vinyasa Yoga is called Mula Bandha. There are many bandhas or locks that we practice in Yoga- the hand lock- hasta bandha, the foot lock- paddha bandha, the chin lock- jalandhara bandha, the belly lock- uddiyana bandha, the mental lock- chitta bandha- all locks imply some elevation and/or lift, physically and energetically. The word lock is somewhat misleading- really by practicing the locks we are able to unlock forces and begin to use them consciously. The locks build energetic bridges that facilitate growth, healing and empowerment. Classical Yoga is not a philosophy which focuses on energy. There is no talk in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali about prana, kundalini or chakras- the Sutras are about the many ways to quiet the mind. Hatha Yoga comes to us from Classical Yoga. It is the practice of asana, pranayama and conscious relaxation- some traditions add seated meditation. When we practice Hatha Yoga with bandhas, we are adding a Tantric element- the manipulation of energy. I believe the Tantric path to be an accelerated spiritual path so for me the bandhas are of utmost importance. Even, arguably, more important than a focus on breath because by the practice of bandha, pure breathing comes naturally. Many Yoga teacher unfortunately do not have a clear understanding of the technique themselves nor an understanding of its importance so they cannot instruct what they do not know or practice. The outcome of a successful bandha practice is a body that is both strong and light- if we jump in our asana practice, the jumps begin to have less sound as we begin to land with more and more control. Emotionally we find that we are more resilient and steadier in the midst of change. Physically and energetically mula bandha is a mechanism of lift in the pelvic floor. Specifically, it is a lift at the cervix in women and lift at the perineum in men, but in the beginning, maybe even the first several years of serious practice, we may lift the muscles of the pelvic floor and even the contract the anal sphincter as well. Mula bandha is an activation of the trigger point to awaken Muladhara Chakra- the root energy center. There is a relationship between Muladhara Chakra and Ajna Chakra, the 3rd eye energy center, so when we awaken the root chakra the 3rd eye chakra begins to awaken as well. The root center is about material world balance- feeling safe, dealing with fear, anxiety, worry, prosperity, greed, addictions and having a strong foundation in life with a living space that nurtures us and a meaningful career with positive karmic consequences. The 3rd eye center is about clarity of vision, purpose, intuition, awareness and developing a perspective on reality that is more accurate. So the awakening of both centers simultaneously is a powerful push toward often radical life changes- we begin to see with more clarity the toxic nature of some jobs, relationships and living environments and find the power (fire) to take action. One student of mine used to own a bar and now has a body work practice- this is a sign of both energy centers awakening. Kundalini Shakti is the dormant creative force that is inherent in each of us. A force that, when awakened, enables humans to reach their greatest potential. Kunda means fire place- kundalini shakti is a dormant fire place nestled in the groove of the sacrum- the sacred bone in the hips. The plan to awaken Kundalini Shakti in Tantra is to build fire, energy, in the first 3 energy centers- root center, sexual center and navel center. If we can stoke these fires sufficiently the heat will awaken Kundalini from her celestial slumber. By the practice of mula bandha, Yogis set the stage for the awakening of this great creative force that is the mechanism of enlightenment. There are nerves in the sacrum that instigate the lift in the pelvic floor when we perform mula bandha. There are only 2 places in the spine where parasympathetic nervous system fibers are present- the sacrum and the neck. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the relaxation response in the body. When we perform mula bandha we evoke the relaxation response and the result is a huge release of muscular and mental tension. Not only does the physical body become light from mula bandha practice, we find that emotionally we feel lighter with this letting go of tension on a regular basis. The Yogic texts tell us that there are 72,000 nadis, or lines of energy, in the human body. (Some texts say more.) We are told that the point of origin for every single line of energy is in the pelvic floor. Physical work affects the pranic body and energetic work affects the physical body. When we engage mula bandha we stimulate all the energy lines in our body and the result is a more vibrant energetic field and the cultivation of radiant physical health. Mula Bandha was formerly a closely guarded secret technique that was taught only to experienced Yogis. It is only in recent history that this technique is now common knowledge, part of the public domain of information via books and the Internet and Yoga teachers now give even beginning students instruction in the technique. Everything is perfect, there are no accidents- it seems as though humans are ready for mula bandha practice en mass. We, my friends, do indeed live in interesting times.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A New Perspective on Aging

There was an experiment in Boston recently where the participants, who were all over the age of 75, were taken to a retreat center outside the city for one week. The retreat center was made to look like a building from the 1950's- the furnishings were from the 50's, the clothing the participants wore was from the 50's, the music they listened to, the movies they watched and the books and magazines they read were all from the 1950's. After one week, nearly all of the participants had dramatically reversed their biological markers for aging. No change in diet, no change in exercise- just the mental cue to their bodies to be as they were in the 50's and remarkably, they were!

The biological markers for aging are: bone density, fat content in the body, cardiovascular health, strength and flexibility thresholds, vision and hearing thresholds and quantities of sexual hormones in the body. All the newest studies show conclusively that every single one of these markers can be reversed! In studies where diet and exercise were added with the mental component, the results are even more dramatic: researchers were able to create biological markers in 75 year olds that were equal to that of the average 25 year old. The big lesson here is to change the way we think about aging. It is very possible to age joyfully and gracefully.

Nothing ages our bodies more rapidly than stress- studies show it makes us age 10 times faster. If we look to the animal kingdom- if a gazelle has a stressful encounter with a lion and survives the encounter, immediately the gazelle goes to take a deep rest to recover. What do humans do after a stressful day at the office? Most of us just keep going, doing it all over again the next day. The regular experience of the down regulation of the nervous system, the relaxation response, is absolutely necessary for optimal health, graceful aging and to counter the periods of up regulation- the stress response. The practice of Yoga, particularly a practice with an emphasis on the Yogic Sleep Meditation at the end, is a very efficient means of managing stress and evoking the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed it has energy to send to "non essential" tasks like anti aging and cellular repair and healing.

Under the microscope, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the muscle of a 20 year old and the muscle of a 70 year old, but where we do see dramatic difference is in the joints. Weight bearing work, like in the standing poses of Yoga, is amazing for putting a little stress of the bones to trigger new growth while still protecting the joints. Joints crave fluid movement and flowing Yoga sun salutations are very therapeutic for the joints.

In the animal kingdom those animals with slower breathing patterns, like turtles, tend to live longer. Yoga teaches us the same principle- if we can slow down our breathing patterns on a regular basis, we can increase our lifespan and have more time to work out karmic debt and to perform spiritual sadhana.

In the experiment with the 75 year olds who spent the week remembering how they were in the 1950's, we saw a change in their physical bodies in the present. Remembering the past can make physiological changes in the present. Use this wisdom to your advantage in your Yogic sleep meditation- if there is a physical issue that you are trying to heal or manage with your Yoga practice it would be beneficial to remember a time from the past before that issue was present and see yourself performing activities then that are not possible now. In your meditation experience the past fully- remember the sounds, sights, tastes and fragrances of the past.

This is an exciting time to be human on planet Earth. The later years of life are a natural time to focus more on spiritual practice and selfless service- our kids are getting older and more independent, our debts are getting smaller and we often have more free time as we work less. Aging can be a joyful transformation and the last part of our life can be just as dynamic and meaningful as the first.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I recently read an article about the seeming paradoxes found in highly creative people. There is a paradox between rest and activity. Creative types can remain intensely focused for long periods of time expending enormous amounts of energy on their discipline of choice and most report doing some type of physical activity on a regular basis. Yet, they also report spending long durations of time chilling out, doing nothing, resting and contemplating. Creative types are extroverted and love being on stage and being the center of attention. Yet, they also have periods of hermit like isolation and solitude. I am one of these types and I understand well the many faces and polarities of the personalities of creative artists. The paradoxes seem absolutely necessary for me. The activity and extroversion are facilitated by the resting and solitude.

Amit Goswami, a retired professor of quantum mechanics and a mystic, says that most people desire one polarity over the over- the act of doing or the act of being. Rather than being a type who likes to do, do, do or either a type who like to be, be, be- Amit says we are happier, like the artist, if we enjoy the dance of both- do be, do be, do be- some time spent doing and some time spent just being.

In Yoga, we ask you to build physical shapes, asanas, and in those shapes to engage opposing muscles groups in a balanced way. We say engage and enliven the muscles that you can. Yet, we also say relax and be calm and peaceful as you do this. These are seeming paradoxes. Yet, again the quiet mind we cultivate in Yoga actually facilitates the balancing of the forces in the pose. It is only when we are calm and peaceful that we able to explore the most physically demanding poses or sequences.

Find your Sthira- strength and stability in the pose. And find your Sukkha- comfort and ease. Enjoy the dance.
Do be do be do be!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bliss Yoga Workshops for 2011

2011 Workshop Schedule:

Chanting Retreat with Kirtan Artist Krishna Das at Satchidananda Ashram in Yogaville, Virginia:
Friday thru Monday, May 27-30
This retreat is part of the Bliss Yoga 300 hour Professional Level Yoga Teacher Training Program. If you wish to join us, book directly at http://www.yogaville.org/

Intro to Tantra:
Using the System to Tailor Asana Practices to the Individual
Sunday, June 5, 1-6 pm at Bliss Yoga Shala
Tuition: $100 (YA CEU certificates available for Yoga Teachers)
Facilitator: Shri Hamilton-Hubbard, E-RYT 500
Open to All Levels

As our Yoga asana practice deepens, we develop an understanding of the power of Yoga asana as as a therapeutic tool. Some jobs require a hammer. Some jobs require a screwdriver. Likewise, forward bends are Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga Therapy) for some while other practitioners would benefit more from a focus on backbends.
This workshop explores what a Yoga practice looks like with Tantra as its foundation and uses the Tantric system as a framework to create healing Yoga practices for individuals. We will look at case studies for practice and also formulate a therapeutic practice for ourselves.
Contact Shri for more information or to register:

Sun, Moon and Fire: The Stages of Awakening and Yogic Sleep Meditation for Healing and Empowerment

Sunday, June 12, 1-6 pm at Bliss Yoga Shala
Facilitator: Shri Hamilton-Hubbard, E-RYT 500
Tuition: $100 (YA CEU certificates available for Yoga Teachers)
Open to All Levels

Moon: Chitta, Mind, Awareness, Clarity of Vision
Sun: Prana, Energy, Power
Fire: Kundalini, the Realization of our Greatest Potential
Sometimes we know what to do, but we do not have the power to do it. Sometimes we have energy, but lack the clarity of vision to act. The empowerment of the Yogi requires both Awareness, Moon aspect, and Power, Sun aspect.
The Moon must be made steady in order for the Sun to rise.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
This workshop explores a healing method for creating a steady mind which is particularly effective for beginning meditators.

Contact Shri for more information or to register

Anatomy for Yoga Teachers with Rolfer and Yogi Derek Gill:
Sunday, July 17 and Sunday, July 31, 1-6 pm both days
Tuition: $100 each day (YA CEUS available upon request)
This workshop explores therapeutic postural alignment for practical use in the asana system and covers anatomy basics to support Yoga instruction.
Contact Shri for more information or to register

Yoga and Meditation Retreat at the One Ocean Spa and Resort with Shri and Stan:
Enjoy Saturday at the beach and spa, stay overnight at the luxurious One Ocean Resort and spend the day Sunday learning and practicing Tantric meditation and flowing through 2 Yoga practices- one athletic and dynamic and the other gentle and restorative. Open to beginners and experienced Yogis and meditators, this workshop takes advantage of the amazing energy of Mother Ocean and the beach to dive deeper into the healing magic of meditation.
Saturday, August 13: Check in for the evening at the One Ocean Spa at 3 pm and join us for Chanting on the Beach at 8 pm- please bring percussion instruments!
Sunday, August 14: 8 am to 6 pm: Yoga and Meditation
Cost: Overnight stay AND Yoga and Meditation Retreat: $200 -shared room with a room mate or $300 private room
Yoga and Meditation Retreat ONLY: $150
The hotel sells out regularly- you must be registered by June 1 in order to confirm your room!
Contact Shri for more information or to register (register through us in order to receive your discounted room rate) ShriHubbard@gmail.com
Call the hotel directly to book any spa treatments for Saturday: 904-249-7402 (Atlantic Beach)
Cancellation Policy: No refunds- you may transfer your space to someone else

Philosophy with Christopher Baxter, E-RYT 500
Open to All Levels
Illuminating the Core of the Chakras:
Saturday, Sept. 17, 12 noon to 5 pm and Sunday, Sept. 18, 1-6 pm
Tuition: $200 or $100 Saturday only (YA CEUS available)
Learn key characteristics of each chakra/ Understand how your chakras influence your life/ Experience core techniques to balance and strengthen the chakras.
Yoga Philosophy 1: Yoga Sutras and Samkhya Metaphysics
Saturday, Oct. 15, 12 noon to 5 pm and Sunday, Oct. 16, 1-6 pm
Tuition: $200 or $100 Saturday only (YA CEUS available)
Investigate the roots and limbs of Classical Yoga/ Learn core principles to enhance and deepen your practice/ Understand how to embody Yoga as a way of life
Yoga Philosophy 2: The Bhagavad Gita and The Unpanishads
Saturday, Dec. 3, 12 noon to 5 pm and Sunday, Dec. 4, 1-6 pm
Tuition: $200 or $100 Saturday only (YA CEUS available)
Explore the hidden origins of Yoga/ Clarify your path by studying the heart of the spiritual warrior/ Rest in the poems and stories of the master Yogis

Introduction to Sanskrit with Zoe Mai of the American Sanskrit Institute:
Friday, November 4, 6-8 pm
Saturday, November 5, 12 noon to 5 pm
Sunday, November 6, 1-6 pm
Tuition: $225 (YA CEUS available) No partial attendance is available for this workshop because of its progressive nature.
This weekend workshop will give you intimate familiarity with the unique points of resonance in your own palate that support Sanskrit's sacred sounds. And you'll be firmly grounded in proper pronunciation of this ancient language.
Along the way you'll learn the alphabet- itself a lovely chant- and you'll receive the tools you need to explore your favorite sutras and chants in the beautiful script of Sanskrit, devanagari. ASI's teaching method, developed over many years by Vyaas Houston, makes learning Sanskrit stress-free and FUN!
Contact Shri for more information or to register

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Siddhis: The Power of Rapid Cognition

In 1983 an art dealer approached the J. Paul Getty museum in California about buying a kouros, a marble statue dating from the 6th century BCE. Only 200 are known to be in existence and this one was a beautiful piece depicting a male, nude youth standing over 7 feet tall. The asking price was 10 million. The Getty moved cautiously and over the next 14 months put the statue through a battery of tests before finally agreeing to purchase the kouros for the asking price. When the museum unveiled their new prize, a handful of art historians felt something was not quite right with the statue. One said that he could not stop looking at the fingernails, sensing something was wrong. One said that the first word that popped into his mind when seeing the kouros was "fresh", not a word that would normally describe a statue that was thousands of years old. And one female art historian's first words were "I hope you have not paid for this yet."
The Getty then began to dig deeper into the statue's provenance and the first rock solid proof of inconsistencies was found. Ultimately the museum discovered that the kouros was indeed a fake and that despite their arduous work, they had been fooled.
The art historians who knew something was wrong could not logically say why they knew what they knew. Most said it was just a hunch. This is an example of rapid cognition- the act of knowing without thinking- gaining access to large quantities of information in a glance, in the blink of an eye.
My son recently said to me that Yoga is like any good video game, that you get cool things as you move through the levels. The Siddhis are the cool things that you get as you move through the levels of Yoga. The Siddhis, or psychic powers, are listed in chapter 3 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The list is long and magical with out of this world possibilities for human development and achievement. One of the possible psychic abilities that it speaks of is the power of rapid cognition. Specifically the sutra states that if we can look at anything with sufficient concentration and focus that we will know everything there is to know about that object. The little mind gains access to Big Mind and just like when we go online with our computers, our single hard drive now is connected to all the hard drives on the web. Through the cultivation of concentration, we gain access to the cosmic hard drive and draw then from an enormous amount of information, the primordial pool of intelligence.
In a Yoga practice of asana, pranayama and meditation, we cultivate concentration on a regular basis and the object we study is us. Our bodies, our breath,our personalities, habits, beliefs, quirks and eccentricities. When sufficient concentration develops, our secrets are discovered. If you want to know which diet and foods are best for you, study yourself. If you want to know which career you are best suited for, study yourself. If you want to know the cause of an illness, study yourself. Over time, the answers come.
Be truthful with yourself. When you are truthful with yourself you start to see everything as it is, not the way you want to see it. The wounds in your emotional body are covered by the denial system. When you look at your wounds with the eye of truth, you can finally heal those wounds.
Don Miguel Ruiz
Pranams to Malcolm Gladwell, author of an amazing book on rapid cognition called Blink.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bliss Yoga Shala 300 Hour Professional Level Yoga Teacher Training

Early Bird Rate for our 300 Hour Professional Level Yoga Teacher Training and Mentorship Program is:
$3800 if paid in full by Feb. 15, 2011

For more information about this amazing program or to register, please go to http://www.blissyogashala.com/