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