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."