Friday, December 28, 2012


"The stone that the builder refused will always be the head cornerstone........what we refuse, we lose."
Bob Marley

I love all things Bob Marley.  He was a great musician, mystic and spiritual and social activist.  I recently watched the documentary Marley and found out more about him.  He was born the outcome of a brief affair between his mother, a poor black Jamaican,and his father, a white British soldier.  Bob had virtually no contact with his father as a child and attempted to establish a relationship with his father when he was a young adult.  His father refused to be a part of his life, an action which devastated Bob and was the inspiration for the song Cornerstone (above).  One can only wonder if Bob's father later regretted turning him away when Bob Marley became famous and wealthy.
This holiday season I have been thinking about reconciliation, the union with and embrace of what is.  In the Catholic church reconciliation is the sacrament of confession and penance.  After the rite, which an act of raw honesty and clarity of vision, we are reconciled with the divine once again.  "What we refuse, we lose."  By embracing whatever comes our way, even though perhaps it may seem like something we might not like at the time, we are returned to the divine embrace.

What are we refusing, denying, hiding, refusing to see or pushing away?
Shine the light of truth on the subject- how do we feel, what do we believe, what part did we play in creating the situation?   (this is fertile- what do we believe to be true- this  will never change for example- when the reality is that all things change all the time)
What can be done now?  Is there penance or a remedy or do we need to simply embrace what is at least for now?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Schedule 2012

Holiday Schedule:
Christmas Eve:  9 am Rishikesh Flow with Shri with MUSIC (only class of the day)
Christmas Day:  closed
Wednesday, Dec. 26:  915 am Warrior Flow with Erin (only class of the day)
normal schedule back on Thursday, Dec 27
New Years Eve:  9 am:  108 Sun Salutations with Shri  (only class of the day)
New Years Day:  closed
normal schedule back on Jan 2

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Scent Alchemy

This week in the shala we were working with the use of scent to facilitate alchemy- growth and transformation.  Many traditions use scent and perfume for healing and growth- the bible has over 500 references to essential oils and the plants from which they are harvested and at the birth of Jesus, the 3 wise men came with gifts of essential oils, fragrance and resin.

Or the concentration on subtle sense perception can cause steadiness of mind. 
Yoga Sutras 1.35
Patanjali tells us that one of the ways to quiet the mind (and to move toward enlightenment) is by working with subtle sense perception. 
The sense of smell is considered exalted because of its connection to the breath- the vehicle for prana.  The experience the scent of something is to commune with its essence.
Scents may be categorized into solar scents and lunar scents.  Solar frangrances are energizing and invigorating and lunar fragrances are calming and soothing to the nervous system.  A solar scent, like orange, would be great to use before a hot practice, like sun salutations. Lunar scents, like lavender or sandalwood, would be great to use before meditation.
The scent of burning aromatic artemesias like sage and mugwort purify the pranic body and help us to let go of what no longer serves us.  They are nice to burn before or after a Yoga practice.

A perfect perfume has 12 notes, or scent ingredients, that come together in 3 chords chosen for their harmonic affinity.

The first chord is the head, the first impression the perfume makes, which lasts a few minutes.
The second chord is the heart, the theme of the perfume, which last for several hours.
And the third chord is the base, the tail of the scent, which lasts for several days.

A relationship with Yoga practice has similarities- there is the first impression- we may decide that we like or do not like practicing Yoga right away.  Then we experience the heart chord- the honeymoon is over and we either decide to stay with it and dive deeper into the theme of the practice or we decide to quit all together.  The base chord is the result of practice which we start to see in all areas of our lives.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Schedule 2012

Thanksgiving Day Schedule:
9 am All Levels Flow with Pam (our only class of the day)

Shiva Wisdom:

This week in the shala we were working with archetypal Shiva energy.  The archetypes are energies and/or forces that we may choose to align ourselves with.  In order to learn about the nature of the archetype's energy and to understand the best means to create the alignment, we look to the mythic stories of the deity.  Shiva is a master meditator.  He sits in perpetual meditation with his physical eyes closed and his third eye, his inner vision, remains open.  In mythic art, vertical lines represent action and horizontal lines represent stillness.  When a Yogi performs a ritual offering to Shiva, we may use the sacred ash to create a symbol on the forehead (like holy ash on Ash Wednesday) to remind us of our act of devotion.  The symbol for Shiva is 3 horizontal lines- the wisdom of Shiva is instruction on the power of stillness and of meditation.
Shiva has a relationship with the concept of Tripura- the 3 worlds.  Tripura is where the roots of suffering lie- it is the 3 worlds of Me, Mine and Not Mine.  Me is my body and my mind.  Mine is my property, my family, my self image.  And Not Mine is everything else on the planet that is not under our authority.  All suffering dwells in the realm of the the 3 worlds.  One of Shiva's 108 names is Tripurantaka- the destroyer of the 3 worlds.  Shiva energy is a means toward the alleviation of suffering.  It is through the cultivation of awareness, Shiva's 3rd eye is always open, and the practice of stillness and meditation that we move toward happier lives.  Through a dedicated practice of meditation, the transitory nature of the 3 worlds is revealed and we begin to understand the futility of clinging to Tripura as our source of happiness.  Each meditation serves as an introduction to the part of ourselves that is beyond the 3 worlds, the part of ourselves which has always been and always will be- for many people this essence is called soul.
The sound structure that we may use to align ourselves with Shiva energy is
Om Namah Shivaya

Friday, October 26, 2012


This post is from an article i wrote in 2010- this week our theme was balance so I thought it would be appropriate to share again.

Asana and the Zero Point

In the Mongolian creation myth, the world was created when a wild, male dog mated with a female deer. The wild dog was fierce, powerful and aggressive and the doe was gentle, sensitive and intuitive.
Out of this marriage of opposites limitless love was created. The state of balance precedes the Genesis moment.

Recently, in my Yoga teacher training program, we considered the question What is the purpose of asana? Those things that normally come to mind like strength building, the cultivation of flexibility, weight loss, increasing stamina and endurance, etc. are true, yet these benefits are just a small part of the larger, more profound gifts of asana.

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. Hatha Yoga is to balance the polarities of sun and moon physically, mentally and energetically. As we balance the polar opposites of strength and flexibility, thinking and feeling, doing and nondoing, in breath and out breath, left brain and right brain, sthiram and sukham, prana and apana, pingala and ida, Shiva and Shakti, 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 these polarities that Kundalini Shakti, the great, dormant creative force, awakens and begins Her evolutionary ascent through the chakras.

The moon must be made steady in order for the sun to rise.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

The moon represents the mind, chitta, and the sun represents energy, prana. In order for Kundalini Shakti to rise, we must bring the mind to a state of harmony and tranquility. Swami Satchidananda tells us that the asanas make the body healthy enough and the mind peaceful enough so that we are able to sit in meditation. Meditation is perhaps the most efficient tool to create a tranquil mind.

The purpose of Hatha Yoga is to give you the knowledge of controlling these two energies: “ha” and “tha” (prana and apana). Without that knowledge it is very difficult to gain that control over the mind which is called Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga deals with the mind, Hatha Yoga works with the prana and apana. Many students make the mistake of considering Hatha Yoga to be mainly asanas, when actually asana is only one of the eight steps of Hatha Yoga. Furthermore, there is no real difference between Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. There is no possibility of attaining Raja Yoga without the practice of Hatha Yoga and vice versa.

Swami Vishnu Devananda

Seeking balance is the path of the Yogi. The state of balance is like the zero point on the number line. Zero is nestled peacefully between the positive integers and the negative integers that extend infinitely in both directions. It is a state which is both full and empty simultaneously- a state of infinite possibility and pure potential. There is a reason that the model of the 3 main nadis in the body- ida, pingala and sushumna- looks curiously like the double helix of DNA. It is through this apparatus that we create a new reality- a life of meaning and fulfillment. The Genesis act was not a one time, isolated event. Genesis happens all the time for Yogis.

The master Patanjali speaks of balance as the path and the goal of asana.

Asana is a steady, comfortable posture.

Sutra 2.46 translated by Swami Satchidananda

On the mat we seek to harmonize sthira, strength and steadiness in posture, with sukham, comfort and ease. We attempt to balance the world of form, structure and alignment with the world of formlessness, feeling and energy. We journey to the realm of form with external awareness- my foot goes here, my pelvis tilts this way or that- and with focus on structure and alignment in asana. We experience the world of formlessness with breath awareness and internal focus and sensitivity. Magic happens on the mat when the two worlds collide and our practice is illuminated with both form and freedom, structure and shakti.

The most successful yoga teachers I know are those who find balance in instructing asana as well. They are both strict and loving simultaneously.

By lessening the natural tendency for restlessness and by meditating on the infinite, posture is mastered.

Sutra 2.47 translated by Swami Satchidananda

Swami Satchidananda and Patanjali tell us that asana is mastered by meditation on the infinite. The word for infinite is ananta. Ananta is also the archetypal serpent deity on which Lord Vishnu rests. The stories of the deities are to teach us lessons. The story of Ananta is that when Lord Shiva was teaching Parvati yoga asanas they heard a rustling in the jungle. Ananta, the serpent, was discovered eavesdropping on Shiva and Parvati. Lord Shiva was angry with Ananta and told him that his punishment would be to go to the humans and teach them what he had overheard, but Shiva told Ananta that the humans would be frightened of him in his current form so he was also instructed to take human form to teach yoga to humanity. Ananta’s human incarnation was the master Patanjali. Ananta is depicted with the entire material universe balanced perfectly on his head and the divine in the form of Vishnu rests nestled in his lap. Ananta teaches us about balance in life. Yogis are master jugglers. We perform the ultimate balancing act. We move through life performing our material world obligations with the divine sitting in our laps, in the state of grace. Meditation on Ananta also teaches us that sometimes radical transformation is required in order to manifest our greatest potential.

Thereafter, one is undisturbed by dualities.

Sutra 2.48 translated by Swami Satchidananda

The pairs of opposites, the dvandvas, belong to the physical and mental realms. Physically the dvandvas represent hot and cold, hunger and thirst, pleasure and pain, and so on. Mentally, the pairs of opposites are the ever changing emotional states we experience. With mastery of asana, the Yogi finds herself steady in the midst of change. We experience ourselves as larger than the pairs of opposites and find a part of ourselves that is beyond suffering.

In the bigger picture, the pairs of opposites represent the state of duality that makes us believe that we are separate from our source. As we move toward balance, we move from darkness to the light of understanding that union with the divine is possible. In fact, it was there all along.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day Schedule 2012

Labor Day Schedule:  9 am All Levels Flow with Shri on Monday (4 pm and 6 pm cancelled)

This week with Shri: Firefly Pose: This shape reminds us to cultivate an internal source of light thru Tapas- those fire practices that makes us glow. Tapas creates the subtle essence Tejas. "Tejas is the radiant splendor of personality that expresses itself as courage, creativity, love and a melting tenderness that draws all hearts." - Eknath Eswaran

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guru Purnima 2012

Tasmai sri guruveynamaha!  I honor my teacher Guruji Divyananda Saraswati, who left his body in 2002.
Today is Guru Purnima- a day to celebrate the fullness of your teacher- the good and the bad- they are only human.
Here is an interview with my Guruji from years ago:

Hinduism Today: Swamiji, please tell us about life in the Himalayas.

Swami Divyananda: I dreamed of the Himalayas from my early years. Above Badrinath I found a valley, just three mountains on three sides with one big river flowing and some small streams. I said, "This place is meant for me. Lord Siva is there. He will take care of me."

HT: Do you get visitors?

Swamiji: Sometimes sadhus visit the cottage. It is our pleasure sometimes to prepare seventy glasses of tea in one day. But for weeks, when it is cold, nobody comes.

HT: What do you do for heat?

Swamiji: Nothing in particular. I live in a sort of refrigerator. My God, it gets very, very cold. Sometimes, I tell you, I slept at night with my knees joined to my neck.

HT: We've heard stories that there are sadhus in the Himalayas that are 100, 200 years old. Have you ever met such sadhus?

Swamiji: Yes, in my meditation I have met persons like that. Actually, they live in their astral body, not in the physical body. Under divine command they live to help other sadhakas who really deserve their help. Sometimes in my meditations I have met such sages, some very ancient sages.

HT: What do you meditate on?

Swamiji: Meditation can be on form, on name, on quality and on the Absolute Reality. So I do all the meditations according to my mood. When I do my own meditation, then I go very deep. We may call it root meditation. One hour I do pranayama, and other things.

HT: Were you ever married?

Swamiji: Yes, I was married. My wife and my husband is always with me, because I am married to God. There is no fear of divorce!

HT: Please tell us about your guru.

Swamiji: He was Sri Swami Abhinava Satchitanand Tirtha Swamiji Maharaj. the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Mutt. My guru had only two monk disciples. He was a very highly God-Realized soul. I had a vision of him in my dream before I met him. When I met him, I recognized him and he also recognized me. My guru used to run many institutions, colleges and children's schools. My Guruji wanted me to take up [the leadership of the Mutt]. He was my guru, I couldn't disobey him. I told my guru, "I will do whatever you want. I spent my whole life in society, and now I have gone to the Himalayas for solitude. You are my guru. I do not want to conceal my feelings from you. But I want to stay in solitude." He understood and gave his blessings.

HT: What is the Swami Divyananda Sharda Foundation?

Swamiji: I had some money from before my renunciation which I gave to make an institution and to give scholarships to willing, God-minded students. To receive a scholarship the student must be of a religious mind, single and have faith in our Hindu culture and religion. There are three things it does: educational service; social service, such as in calamities, floods and famine; and dispensing spiritual knowledge amongst the people.

HT: What sampradaya do you adhere to?

Swamiji: It is very difficult to answer this question. People often ask me, "Swami, to what do you belong?" I tell them, "Let me think for a while." I think that I belong to all sampradayas, because I accept the basic teachings of all. The basic teachings are not different. The aim of sampradayas is to reach God. I worship the Mother aspect of God. Now in my present level of, you can say, God consciousness, I don't see any difference anywhere. Wherever I go, I see the same deity. I go to all temples. I worship all Gods.

HT: How do you keep so young?

Swamiji: The first thing is brahmachariya, self-control. Second thing is a very pure diet, simple food. For the last 42 years I have been living on fresh fruits and vegetables. I eat only enough for my hunger to be satisfied. One thing more is my belief in God. I believe my primary responsibility is to do my duty to God. I should not worry about what comes in the end. I believe in His justice, in His fearlessness. With that attitude mentally I am very free, very easy in mind and heart.

HT: What are your observations on the West?

Swamiji: Internally I don't see any difference. For me the Divinity there is the same Divinity here. But externally there is a difference. God is the one truth, and yet God can express Himself in many ways. The Himalayas is the austerity aspect of God and North America is the luxury aspect of God. So it is all Divine.

HT: What is your insight into the relationship between Muslims and Hindus in India?

Swamiji: Just as love begets love, fanaticism begets fanaticism. If you find any fanaticism in Hindu religion, it is not because Hindus are fanatics. It is because fanaticism begets fanaticism. So fanaticism has to go from all sides. Certain mistakes were made by the [founding] political leaders of India, initial mistakes, great blunders, I would say. Indian society has had to reap the consequences. Secularism does not mean Godlessness. You have to believe in God. You have to respect your way, and you have to show respect to others. That is the meaning of secularism. You don't discard God, religion and all truth and philosophy in the name of secularism. This was a wrong meaning of secularism that they took, and this is the cause of all the present maladies. They forgot that all ethics is contained in religion. In the name of secularism they removed all religion and the good teachings of our ancient seers and sages from the students' books and courses. That was very unfortunate. It is not easy to set things right now. Cooperation and understanding have to be developed.

Monday, July 2, 2012

4th of July Holiday Schedule

Wednesday, July 4th:  9 am All Levels Flow with Shri - the only class of the day.
Happy Holiday!

21 Day 200 Hour Teacher Training Intensive with Shri

Join me for a 21 day 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training Intensive in Nicaragua!
go to  to register.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wade in the Water

This week in the shala we are working on hip openers which heal and balance the second chakra.  The tattva, or element, which rules the second chakra is water.  Sometimes water forges a path straight through stone and yet water can adapt itself to fit any container.  Water teaches us to be strong and supple at the same time and to know when the situation calls for us to be strong or when it might be best to yield.  Water teaches us about going with the flow- to embrace what life brings our way even when we want to change it because when we first embrace what is we are in a much better position to change it.
Kali is the archetypal deity who embodies the energy of the second chakra and water.  She is considered one of the Dasa Maha Vidyas- the 10 great goddesses of Tantra.  The word vidya means science.  The 10 great goddesses are scientific concepts rather than religious concepts in that with Tantra we have equations where we perform A and B and then C is created.  And the equations are able to be replicated consistently just like in any good scientific experiment.
When we use techniques like mantra we are able to align ourselves with the energy of Kali and therefore water.  Kali is often depicted with her tongue out- she teaches us to taste all the flavors that life has to offer- sometimes what we first consider bad may turn out to be good.
Bob Marley said some people feel the rain and others just get wet.  Kali urges us to stick our tongues out and taste, savor and feel the rain of life- all the ever changing weather patterns of emotions and life circumstance.
To quote my friend Sydney (who just became a big sister!)
Sometimes you get what you get and you don't pitch a fit.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

When is more really more?

If one down dog is good then 10 down dogs would be better, right?  When is more really more in a Yoga practice?

Pranams to Candace Bushnell. (creator of Sex in the City)  I was single and watching Sex in the City years ago- Carrie was a writer and would often start the show trying to write her column which often began with a question.  This was one of the first tv shows that depicted powerful single women really as independant creatures and I identified strongly and cheered them on.  But, I digress......

Back to down dog- I do not practice Yoga nor teach Yoga for physical fitness.  Physical healing and physical fitness are certainly part of the process but in the bigger picture- Yoga is a means toward radical transformation and growth- at the individual level and the global level.  The techniques on the Yoga mat which facilitate transformation most powerfully are those which quiet the mind and/ or raise energy (prana).  Yoga asanas are introductory techniques in order to create a foundation for the practice of the more powerful techniques.  The most powerful techniques on the mat are Pranayama -making different choices regarding breath, Bandha- the physical muscular engagements particularly in the core which raise energy, Sanskrit Chants- which harness the power of sound for healing and balance and Meditation- the observation of the workings of the mind which over time transforms the nature of mind.  More really is more with these techniques.

Memorial Day Holiday Schedule

Memorial Day Holiday Schedule:
Monday, May 28:  9 am Mixed Level Flow with Shri ONLY

Happy Holiday!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Making a Case for ET- I'm Just Saying.......

The History Channel recently aired a 6 part series of documentaries exploring the possibility of extraterrestrials (ancient astronauts) having visited Earth in the ancient past and that visitation continuing up to present day. (You can see the entire series on You Tube and NetFlix)  The series was a more in depth sequel to the groundbreaking work of Erich von Daniken's book Chariots of the Gods which I have given as gifts to many people over the years.
Ancient Aliens Episode 1

Much of the theory is based on artifacts that have been found all over the earth which simply do not make sense with our current timeline.

One artifact is the famous Piri Reis Map which is believed to have been created in the 1500s and shows the land masses of the Earth particularly Antarctica with an accuracy that just does not seem possible unless it was created with a vantage point from the air.

Other artifacts include the many " ancient airplanes" or what look like flying machines found at several historical  sites.  These artifacts include cockpits, fuselage, and upright tails which are not found in nature.  Many aerodynamics specialists say that these designs would fly.

And the Nazca Lines found in Peru- some are beautiful artwork- spiders, hummingbirds, a spaceman? and  some appear to be ancient runways- all of which are ONLY visible from the sky. 

Then there are the countless images that we see all over the earth, even in the US, of ancient artwork that, to the logical eye, appears to depict astronauts.

I am one of the many people around the world who like famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking believe that life on other planets is not a theory but an absolute.

 "To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like". He believes alien life not only certainly exists on planets but perhaps even in other places, like within stars or even floating in outer space. He has also warned that a few of these species might be intelligent and threaten Earth. "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans," he said. He has advocated that, rather than try to establish contact, humans should try to avoid contact with alien life forms. At a George Washington University lecture in honour of NASA's fiftieth anniversary, Hawking discussed the existence of extraterrestrial life, believing that "primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare".

So what difference does this make if ancient astronauts have visited the Earth?

Our current timeline of history is linear in that man is seen to have progressed from the cave man stage and evolved through the agricultural age, the iron age, the industrial age and to finally the present, the age of information.  Yet over 30 cultures around the world (including the Mayan, Egyptian, Vedic and Hopi) believe history to be more cyclical in nature- with periods of increasing light, peace, benevolence, technological advances, higher states of consciousness and periods of increasing darkness, turmoil and ignorance.  A 24- 26,000 year cycle from a Golden Age to an Age of Darkness (Satya Yuga and Kali Yuga from the Vedic Culture).   Among the 30 cultures who have this sort of historical timeline, the Earth is thought to have been through 4 or 5 of these 26k year cycles already.  Megalithic structures are found all over the planet which are virtually impossible to date- some of which were only discovered in the last 10 years or so.  Many of the architectural aspects of these sites were only discovered recently like the common themes of alignment with celestial bodies.  We didnt realize these sites were aligned with the stars because modern man did not know about the paths of these celestial bodies until only recently!!  "Modern man" thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth until the 1700s.  (If one questioned that earlier it meant heretical status and/or death.)
Texts from the Egyptian, Mayan and Vedic cultures state that these cultures existed over 40 thousand years ago!  Mainstream archeology maintains that these civilizations date back to only 6 thousand years ago and there is only a handful of renegade archaeologists, historians and geologists who are starting now to question the mainstream timeline and to propose a new timeline that is more in agreement with the old timelines of the 30 cultures who believe in the cycles.  The machine of academia moves slowly- modern man has a very hard time accepting that ancient cultures may have possed knowledge that was superior to what we possess today.  Yet, much of the newest information and discoveries in the fields of medicine, cosmology and particle physics agree with thousands of years old knowledge from Yoga, Tantra, Buddhism, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and Shamanism.
Back to my question of why is this important?  Patanjali, the father of the science of Yoga, whose name means "one who fell from the sky", outlines a system and science that comes from a previous Golden Age of knowledge.  The Language of Sanskrit comes to us from a previous Golden Age of knowledge.  We know now that Sanskrit is based on sophisticated mathmatics which follows rules of harmonics.  It is the only language that, because of this relationship to mathematics, could communicate with artificial intelligence. This system of mathematics is now called the Fibonacci Sequence because it was rediscovered by an Italian named Fibonacci in 1202, but it comes directly from Vedic Culture.
For me, Yoga, Tantra and the Sanskrit language represent knowledge that has been preserved and passed down through the ages.  They are blueprints and sophisticated scientific systems to facilitate the evolution of mankind and a means by which mankind will usher in the next great Golden Age.  The fact that this information is now commonly available for all is auspicious.  The significance of Dec 21, 2012 is that it is a milestone for humankind in that a growth spurt is expected in consciousness beginning on that date. 

Other resources:  The Pyramid Code series which questions the age of megalithic structures around the world.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rock Star Shoes

Rock stars like David Bowie wore these big shoes during the 70s and 80s- I loved that one message was androgyny. Were they male or female, did they like girls or dudes? It was hard to tell. They embraced both polar opposites- masculine and feminine. This week was also the Spring Equinox- a time of balance in the polar opposites of day and night. When we align ourselves too strongly with the world of polar opposites (Prakriti) we suffer because that realm is in constant change. The Yogi and Tantrika seek to find the Drasthuh, the witness, who watches this world of change in order to ultimately find the part of ourselves which is unaffected by change, the Purusha. The more we seek out Purusha, the more suffering is alleviated. How practically do we seek out Purusha, pray tell? By dwelling in present moment awareness as much as possible. Pay attention! (One very efficient way to drop into present moment awareness immediately is to become aware of our breath.)

The world of Prakriti is a world ruled by the pairs of opposites- the Dvandvas. Masculine/Feminine, Day/Night, In Breath/Out Breath, Rt Side/Left Side, Forward Bend/Backbend, Strength/Suppleness, the Impulse to Change/ the Impulse to Accept, Hot/Cold, Heavy/Light, Sadness/Joy, Anger/Compassion, Fear/ Safety- these are all polar opposites. The more we pay attention, the more we broaden our lens of perception and find that we have the ability to hold both polar opposites simultaneously- in fact these experiences always come in pairs- when we experience one- the possibility is there to also experience its opposite.

Last week I lost someone that I loved dearly. I am experiencing sadness in a way that is new for me. Yet, I am also finding great joy with this sadness- I have laughed and I have cried. One of the most important lessons for me from the master Jesus is that only after Jesus experienced great suffering was the glory of resurrection possible. If we pay attention and allow ourselves to sit with pain rather than trying to push it away in the myriad of ways that pushing it away is possible- overdoing, over eating, over drinking, over spending, too much sex and/or the use of prescription or recreational drugs- only then can we find the glory of the experience of the polar opposite- the silver lining. And by holding both mindfully we gain access to that part that watches and remains untouched.

Yogis actually feel more but it begins to bother you less. (This will not make sense until you have some practice time under your belt and it will not happen from a practice of just asana- this pay off requires a regular practice of meditation.) In our shala, we practice 15 minutes of Yogic Sleep Meditation- a reclining psychic sleep- at the end of each class.  Meditation is sitting with discomfort- a regular practice of watching the contents of the mind and the more you watch- the better you feel.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Workshops 2012

Lots of exciting events coming your way!
Sunday, March 11, 1-6 pm:  Restorative Yoga with Kate Cordell
location:  Ocean Yoga, for directions
cost:  $65, register at

Sunday, March 25, 1-5 pm:  Kirtan and Bhakti Yoga workshop with the Kula Wallah band and Brahmacharini Arpita
location:   Bliss Yoga
Bhakti Yoga is the Yoga of devotion and a key practice is kirtan- the call and response singing of the divine names.  Devotional acts cultivate ojas- the sap of vitality, radiant health and youthfulness.  Join us for the afternoon to learn about Bhakti Yoga and to practice the chanting of sacred sounds.
cost:  $20, register at

Sunday, April 15, 2-6 pm:  Fire Ceremony with Sudevi
location:  Bliss Yoga
Learn the traditional fire ceremony or Agni Hotra with Sudevi Linda Kramer.  The fire ceremony is a practice for healing yourself and for healing the earth.
cost:  $125 which includes your own copper fire pot for home practice! Space is very limited- reserve your spot early- register at

Sunday, April 29, 1-5:  Therapeutic Hips with Paula Puopolo
location:  Bliss Yoga
cost:  $65
This class is perfect for anyone who is interested in back pain relief and healthy movement of the hips.
register at

May 18-20, join us for a retreat at the Himalayan Institute for a workshop on Yoga and the Prana Vayus with Sandra Anderson.  This trip is part of our 200 hour TT program but is open to anyone who wishes to come.  for more information and to register go to
Sunday, May 20, 1-6 pm:  Therapeutic Yoga for Depression with Joan Ryan, ERT-500, registration will open soon.
June 10:  Yoga and Chinese Medicine:  Meridian Theory with Stan Hubbard, Acupuncture Physician
June 24:  Therapeutic Yoga for a Healthy Spine with Joan Ryan
August 26:  Therapeutic Yoga for High Blood Pressure with Joan Ryan

Dec 1 and 2:  Sanskrit 1 with Zoe Mai of the American Sanskrit Institute
Dec 7 and 8:  Sanskrit 2 with Zoe Mai of the American Sanskrit Institute


Friday, January 20, 2012

Get Shaktified!

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

Once upon a time there was a family- Shiva and Parvati, the father and mother, and 2 sons- Ganesh and Skanda.  Shiva and Parvati found a near perfect mango, ripe and beautiful.  So beautiful that they had the sons compete for the mango by proposing a race around the universe.  Skanda immediately went to his vehicle, a peacock, and sped away.  Ganesh, on the other hand, first sat in meditation.  Skanda was already 3/4 of the way before Ganesh finally got up and went to his vehicle, a mouse.  Ganesh and his vehicle made a circle around his parents and he said you are my universe and I have completed a circle around you.  And so Ganesh won the race and collected his prize, the nearly perfect mango.

The lesson from the story is that there are always many different paths available to us.  There is not one perfect way to get from point a to point b but rather a choice of different means and methods to accomplish the task and to arrive at the desired destination.  Ganesh as an archetype represents the energy that clears obstacles- sometimes Ganesh goes around an obstacle and sometimes he pushes right through the obstacle in order to clear the path.

Ganesh is an elephant god.  He has enormous ears for listening.  In our story, Ganesh first sits in meditation before the race while his brother immediately dashes off.  Meditation is the act of actively listening to the Divine- whatever your name is for the Divine.  When we study the Ganesh story, we are reminded that we get more clarity on the different paths that are always available to us when we sit regularly in meditation.  It is by quieting the mind and listening regularly that the possible pros and pitfalls associated with each distinct path are made clear to us.  When Ganesh meditated he discovered that his parents were his universe- when we meditate we naturally begin to see what is most important to us in life and we tend to focus more on what we do want rather than obsessing about what we do not want.  Ganesh has a huge belly and it is said that in his belly he holds the entire universe.  In Tantra we are taught that all humans are an exact replica of the universe- microcosm/macrocosm.  We really do hold the entire universe in our bellies, just like Ganesh.

There is not one perfect, one size fits all way to practice asana.  Because all humans are beautifully unique, there are many different traditions and ways to practice asana- some styles are heated, some are not, some practice the inverted poses, some do not, backbends may come first, forward bends may come first, some use the ujjayi method of breathing, some do not- the list and differences go on and on.  One point we stress in our Yoga teacher trainings is that in Yoga it is not a question of what is right and what is wrong, but rather what is appropriate and therapeutic for me right now.  This week in the shala, we will practice our asana sequences without sun salutations at the beginning of our practices (gasp!), which is a departure from our normal flows.  There are different paths to get from point a to point b and we can prepare for meditation with or without sun salutations.

Ganesh has long twisting trunk which represents the kundalini energy- the highly creative energy that in Tantra we are taught is inherent in every single human being in a dormant seed like form.  Spiritual practice awakens this energy and when it is awakened it is called Shakti- a vibrant force of Grace and Transformation.  This week we will also explore the many means and methods for awakening Shakti- to get Shaktified.  We will work with mantra, mudra, bandha and meditation.  The awakening of Shakti is the quickening, the fire lighting that propels human beings toward enlightenment- the realization of our greatest potential.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha is the mantra, the sound vibration that brings us into alignment with the Ganesh wisdom.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chakra Flow

In a study I saw recently the US ranks 23 out of 29 countries for math and science proficiency in students. We are near the bottom of the list.  But, what I found even more interesting was that when the researchers asked the students how they thought they did on the tests the American students ranked #1 in confidence, a misplaced confidence apparently.  Because our children are a reflection of us, my conclusion is that we think we are smarter than we really are.  There is a perception problem with we Americans- a lack of clarity of vision.  In Tantra, this is considered a problem with the Ajna Chakra energetically- the 3rd eye.  We don't know what we don't know and worse, we think we do know.

The image above is the cadudeus- it is the modern symbol of the AMA- the American Medical Association.  This image is also a representation of the Chakra system in the human body- the part of us that is energy.  Where the snakes criss cross are chakras- major intersections of energy lines, where the snakes meet is the 6th chakra- the 3rd eye where the 2 energy lines that the snakes represent, ida and pingala, merge and the center staff is the central line of energy- sushumna.  We can reasonably conclude from this image that at one point, healers in the west knew about chakras and energy and used that knowledge for healing.  The vintage medical term and concept humours are part of that past knowledge.  I can easily see how when scientists began to learn about viruses, bacteria and the like, that doctors chose to let go of this knowledge and methods in favor of all the new wonderful things they were now able see under microscopes. Only recently do we have holistic physicians who are choosing to practice medicine using a fusion of the old knowledge and the new.

Dr. Joseph Campbell taught mythology and the power of myth for the bulk of his lifetime.  He taught that the truths that we discover in myths come from the study of the symbols and metaphors in the myth rather than looking at the story of the myth literally- he even believed it was a perversion of myth to study the stories literally.  Trying to use energetic methods of healing alone for say, a broken bone, is a perversion of the energetic method and using modern western medicine alone is just as foolhardy. Both systems work best when they are practiced together- using wisdom and techniques from both models.

What causes stomach ulcers?
For years scientists and doctors thought that stomach and intestinal ulcers were caused by stress, eating spicy foods or drinking too much alcohol.  But in 1982, two Australian doctors discovered that H. pylori, a bacterium that lives in the lining of the stomach can cause what is known as peptic ulcer disease.
BUT, it turns out that h. pylori infection is common in 2/3 of the world's population and most people will never experience negative symptoms.
The holistic view for the cause of stomach ulcers is that both theories are true- they are caused by a bacterium AND something compromised the immune system enough for negative symptoms to manifest.  Holistic healing would address both systems- physical and energetic.

The same could be said for any illness including the common cold.  We know from modern science that colds are caused by viruses but not everyone who is exposed to the virus will develop a cold.  This is where the building of health and wellness comes in which is integral to energetic methods versus the focus on cessation of negative symptoms which is integral to western medicine.  The efficiency of immune system can be cultivated - making it better at discerning what to let in and what to keep out of the system.

This week in the shala we'll be practicing a flow through the chakras- developing the energy system of the body for healing and we'll learn some methods for cultivating the clarity of vision that comes with balancing the 3rd eye chakra.