Saturday, December 18, 2010

Finally, on my way to India!!!!

Bag is packed, and I dug my sandals out!  Here I come Guruji, Mother India, and warm weather.

Last night I had a wonderful surprise when I checked my grades.  All A's this semester, even in my Physics class that pushed my Yogic equanimity to it's limits.  Many thanks go to Dr.K for the early christmas present and all the Physcis fun.

Jay Shiv Shakti!

Jay Gurudev!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yajnavalkya and Understanding the Atma

Yajnavalkya, the greatest seer and sage, said: " Maitreyi, verily, I
am going away from this house into the forest to enter another order
of life (Sannyasa); therefore let me divide my property between you
and Katyayani " .

Maitreyi said: " My venerable lord, if this whole world with all its
wealth belongs to me, tell me truly, could I attain immortality " .

" No, " replied Yajnavalkya, " Like the life of rich people will be your
life; but there is no hope of obtaining immortality by wealth " .

Maitreyi: " Of what use would be wealth to me, if I do not become
thereby immortal? Tell me, O venerable lord, any means of attaining
immortality of which thou knowest " .

Yajnavalkya replied: " Come, sit down, my beloved Maitreyi, I will
explain it to thee. Try to understand well what I say " .

Yajnavalkya said: " Verily, not indeed for the husband's sake the
husband is dear, but for the sake Of the Self the husband is dear.
Verily, not indeed for the wife's sake the wife is dear, but for the
sake of the Self the wife is dear. Verily, not indeed for the sake of
the son the son is dear, but for the sake of the Self the son is
dear. Verily, this immortal all-pervading Atman or Brahman is to be
seen, heard, reflected and meditated upon, O Maitreyi: Atma Vaare
Drashtavyah Srotavyo Mantayo Nididhyasitavyah " .

O Maitreyi! When there is duality, one sees the other, one smells the
other, one tastes the other, one salutes the other, one speaks to the
other, one touches the other, one knows the other, but when the Self
or Atma only is all this, how could one see the other, how could he
smell the other, touch the other, know the other? How could he know
Him by whom he knows all this? That Self is to be described by " No,
no " (Neti, Neti). Atma nor the Supreme Self is imperishable. He is
free and unattached. He is not subject to pain or destruction. How
could one know the knower? Thus, O beloved Maitreyi, thou hast been
instructed " .

Having said this, Yajnavalkya went to the forest.

(Source: Essence of Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snowed In

Over 12" of snow today, and the windshield is below zero....true Minnesota winter.

The weather outside is frightful, but my asana is so delightful.  The more time to sit the better!  I think this is the first time I have ever really appreciated a blizzard, besides when school was cancelled.


Warm thoughts to everyone stuck in the snow, I hope you make the most of it.

Jay Shiv Shakti!
Jay Gurudev!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Nature of the Atman, Nature of the Self

I had a lovely chat with my friend today after class...one of those get to know each other a little better talks.  I am pretty open about sharing my past and the things that have happened to me, from all the joyous times to the heartbreaks and traumas.  They are all pieces that make me who I am.  So, she asked how I made it through some of the difficult trials.  


Well I often find my self stumbling along this path, I always come back to my spiritual views.  With the guidance of Shri Guruji, and the teaching of non-duality I have made it this far.  


One of the texts I come back to again and again is the Adhayatma Ramayana.  
This is one of my faviorite parts, Sundara Kandam: Hanuman's sermon to Ravana v.15-19


"The real 'You' or the Self has none of the miseries arising from body, intellect, and the sense, because the real 'you' is only the unperturbed and unaffected witness of all these changes.  The actual involvement in these changes belongs to the body-mind complex.  it is just like the experience of one sleeping.  The series of dream experiences which sleep brings about, end with the dream; they are the effects of the delusive ignorance characteristic of sleep.  As far as the real Self is concerned, the bodily experiences are unreal in the same way.  This unpertubedness and unaffectedness is the truth in regard to the nature of your real Self.  You are by nature changeless; for the Self being non-dual, there can be no cause to effect change in it.  Like the all-prevading Akasa which pervades objects but is not affected by it, your real Self, though pervading the body, is not affected by the bodily experiences because of it's subtlety.  All bondage arises from the sense of identification of the complex, body-mind-Prana- with the real Self.  And liberation consists in experiencing: I am Pure Consciousness, I am Unbound, I am Deathless, I am Pure Bliss."

Jay Shiv Shakti 
Aum Hum Hanumate Namaha
Jay Gurudev!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tis' the Season to Give of Yourself!

One of the questions I hear most often from my students is, "How do I start to do more advanced Yoga practice?"  I always smile and of course have a long list of things one can do depending on capacity.  But, top of the list is the same for everybody, do at least one hour of volunteer work in your community a week.  One hour of service when you expect nothing in return.  This is the path of action and activity without selfish desires, Nishkaama Pravrutti Marg.

Jay Shiv Shakti
Jay Gurudev!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ayurveda and Hatha Yoga Workshop in Minnesota

Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda Workshop
with Shrimata Sharan
December 12th
5:30 p.m-8:30 p.m.


Ayurveda is the traditional system of medicine and lifestyle management from India.  Having a basic understanding of Ayurveda and the uniques constitution that each person has will deepen our Hatha Yoga practice.   Come learn how to cultivate a practice that creates health, equanimity, and endures through the years.

The workshop will cover:

The basics of understanding our own unique constitution (Tri Dosha)
The five great elements (Pancha Mahabhutas)
The twenty attributes of matter (Gunas)
General guidelines for Yoga practice for each constitution
Understanding common health issues as related to constitution
Yoga Postures to help alleviate common ailments

Cost: Sliding Scale (Suggested $25 donation)

Location:
209 Laurel St. W. 
Stillwater, MN  55082

Rsvp with Anne:
amartens74@yahoo.com


Jay Shiv Shakti
Jay Gurudev

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rig Veda quote from Guruji Shri Shriyogeshvaraji

aya devānāmapasāmapastamo yo jajāna rodasī viśvaśambhuvā |
vi yo mame rajasī sukratūyayājarebhi skambhanebhi
samānce ||
(Rig Veda, Mandal :1, Sukt:160, Verse : 04)

Among the skilful Gods most skilled is he, who made the two world-halves which bring prosperity to all;
Who with great wisdom measured both the regions out, and stabilised them with pillars that shall never decay. I pray to thee, O God Supreme. 

Explanation :  This world is functioning by many different Gods like Indra (The King Of the Heaven), Marut (The God Of Wind and Air), Varuna (The God Of Water), Agn (The God Of Fire)i, Surya (The Sun. The God Of Life On the Earth), Soma (The Moon. The God Of Plants and Herbs, natural medicines)  ... they are very capable and skilful in their respective area. But the most skilful is the one who created this all world and defined it in two parts, Prithvi (Earth) and Heaven (Svarga). Both these parts are so well balanced and  stable that it seems as if they are supported by pillars, but in reality they hang in cosmos without any outer support. It is a very well organized creation. It has been established with such stability and firmness that the unseen support can never be destroyed (because it is the support of the Supreme One). I pray, sing the glory of, this Supreme God (Para BrahmaN), who is the master of all Gods.
-Guruji Shriyogeshvaraji
taken from Samvad Forum

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ahhhh! Black Friday!

As many rush out to do x-mas shopping, I will do mine sitting at home on the computer.  When I think about celebrating the birth of Christ I think of the compassion he extended to all, not consumer electronics.  So, instead of dumping more "stuff' into the lives of the people I love, I donate in their name to a charitable organization.  While there might be a few awkward moments when you tell your loved ones that you bought a lama in their name for a family in Peru, your gift could make a huge difference in someones life.  Chickens for a family in Cameron or a small business loan to a family in Bolivia, to me, pails in comparison to the latest gadget or shiny new shoes.

Below are links to the two charities that I have been donating to for some time.  Check them out, make a difference in someone's life, and have a great Holiday season!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Understanding the Atman

I have been so busy with travel, teaching, and school I have not had time to post on the blog.  I did on the other hand get a chance to talk with my Guruji the past few days.  At times we laugh about some of the 'yoga' being taught in the US and in India, which always leads me to ask questions about what Yoga really is.  How should we view our practice? How should we look at the life we have to live?  This was his answer to that last question, thought I would share because it is so beautiful:


Every life is important and special.  One must know the value of Self, the value of body and mind.  If you will understand this then you will understand the soul.
-Guruji Shri Shriyogeshvaraji



Aum Gum Gurave Namah



Other quotes on the nature of Yoga and Sadhana can be found in past articles:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rasa, The Six Tastes and Ayurveda

Here's part of the notes from the workshop on the six tastes......if anybody lost their copy.  You can find more on 5 elements and 3 doshas in older articles under Ayurveda.


The Six Tastes and Rasa
The word Rasa means taste.  There are six distinct tastes that are composed of a combination of the elements.  The six tastes are the basis of creating an Ayurvedic diet.  Based on the consumption of them, doshas will either be increased or decreased in the body.
Sweet
The sweet taste is made up of the earth and water elements.  It has the quality of being heavy, moist, cool, stable, smooth, and soft.  The consumption of sweet nourishes the body and the tissues.  It is a necessary taste for all types, but the sweet taste is best for Vata and Pitta individuals.  It includes all carbohydrates, sugars, and fats.  Most fruits and grains are considered sweet as well as milk.  It is the most dominant taste in all of our forms of food as well as the water we drink.  Sweet taste increases all the tissues of the body and helps to build ojas.
Sour
The sour taste is made up of primarily fire and water.  It has the qualities of being heavy, hot, moist, and stable.  The consumption of sour aids in digestion and removing wastes from the bodily system.  The taste is most beneficial for Vata, but very small amounts can be consumed by Pitta and Kapha.  All organic acids and some fruits are considered sour, such as; lemons, limes, and strawberries.  Other foods such as yogurt, pickles, and miso are also sour.  It nourishes and tonifies most tissues of the body and helps to improve digestion as well as increase circulation. 
Salty
The salty taste is made up of water and fire.  The two major qualities are that it is moist and warm.  It hydrates the body and nourishes the rasa dhatu, plasma.  The salty taste is best for people of Vata nature because it is heavy, moist, and warming; though it should be used in small quantities.  This taste stimulates digestion and cleanses the bodily tissues.  Besides salt as a spice, the taste is found in seaweed and other vegetables with high saline content like cucumber and tomato.

Pungent
The pungent taste is made up of the fire and air elements.  It has the quality of hot, light, mobile, and dry.  The pungent taste stimulates digestion, stimulates the appetite, and helps to maintain healthy metabolism.  It is most beneficial for Kapha, used in small amounts for Vata, and sparingly for Pitta.  Spices like ginger, garlic, hing, peppers, and chili peppers are examples of the pungent taste.
Astringent
The astringent taste is made up of the elements earth and air.  It has the qualities of being dry and cool.  The astringent taste is typically used medicinally.  It is constrictive in nature, tonifying the tissues of the body and helping it to heal.  Very small quantities can be used by each dosha, but Pitta and Kapha can use more than Vata.  Most medicines are astringent in nature as well as most beans, cranberries, and pomegranate. 
Bitter
The Bitter taste is made up of the air and ether element.  It has the qualities of being light, dry, cool, and mobile.  The bitter taste helps to detoxify the body and cleanse the internal organs.  The bitter taste is good for everyone in medicinal quantity.  It exists in food like turmeric, aloe, neem leaves, lettuce, endives, and goldenseal.
  
Rasa
Element
Qualities
Dosha Effect
Agni
Reduce/Tonify
Sweet
Water, Earth
Heavy, moist, cool, stable, soft, smooth
V-, P-, K+
Decrease
Strongly tonifying
Sour
Fire, Earth
Heavy, moist, hot, stable
V-, P+, K+
Increase
Tonifying
Salty
Water, Fire
Hot, moist
V-, P+, K+
Increase
Mild tonifying
Pungent
Fire, Earth
Light, hot, dry, mobile, hard
V+, P+, K-
Increase
Reduces, except rakta dhatu
Astringent
Earth, Air
Cool, dry, stable, hard
V+, P-, K-
Decrease
Tonifying, except rasa dhatu
Bitter
Air, Ether
Light, cool, mobile,dry
V+, P-, K-
Decrease
Strongly reducing, especially rakta
Table 81, from Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine, vol. 2, Dr. Halpern

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunshine and Friends

Many thanks go out to my friends Julie and Barbara, they put the whole trip to Cali together.

It was so great to spend time with everybody and enjoy the sunshine!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

California Love!~

Many thanks to all the wonderful people who came out today for the workshop!

Anytime, really-Just let me know when you want me back, and I 'll be here!

I got nothin' but love for all the new and old friends that I had the chance to share sadhana with today.

Aum Hrim Namaha

Jaya Shiv Shakti

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm goin' back-back to cali-cali

I'll be back tomorrow!  Come for morning session, afternoon, or both!  Jay Shiv Shakti!
blocks_image

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shambavi Mudra, Why Do We Gaze at the Eyebrow Center?

After teaching at the mandir last week a student came up and asked, "Why do we gaze at the space in between the eyebrows when we chant Aum and during certain asana?"  So, I defer to the great Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 4 verses 36-38.

With internalized (one-pointed) awareness and external gaze unblinking, that verily is Shambhavi mudra, preserved in the Vedas.(36)


If the yogi remains with the chitta and prana absorbed in the internal gaze motionless, though looking, he is not seeing, it is indeed shambhavi mudra.  When it is given by the guru's blessing, the state of shoonyashoonya arises.  That is the real state of Shiva (consciousness).(37)


Shambhavi and kechari states, though there is a difference in the place of concentration or influence, both bring about ecstasy, absorption in void, in the experience of chit shukha or the pleasure of consciousness.(38)





Regular practice of Shambhavi is reputed to strengthen and stop the degeneration of the pineal gland, and because of this it is recommended for children eight onward to help with emotional development (under competent guidance of course).  When practiced, the calming effect is evident as it help to relieve mental strain and emotional stress.  It develops concentration and when taught by your Guruji, as said in the quote, can lead to the state of Shiva.

In Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha  it says:

Shambhavi is the wife or consort of Shambhu and both are aspects of Shakti and Lord Shiva.  According to the tradition, Shambhu taught Shambhavi the practice of shambhavi mudra as a means of attaining higher awareness.  It is said that practicing this mudra will stir Shambhu and make him appear, meaning that it will induce higher states of consciousness within the practitioner.  The practice is also known as bhrumadhya drishti; bhru means 'eyebrow center' and drishti means 'gazing', hence this is the practice of eyebrow center gazing.


Jay Shiv Shakti

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sri Lakshmi Puja


Once, the Devas and Asuras churned the Ocean of Milk in search of obtaining Amrita, the nectar of immortality.  Many divine and celestial objects emerged as well as the Goddess Lakshmi.  This form of Lakshmi, this is a picture of the murti at MN Hindu Mandir, is from Southern India known as Perundevi. It was made after the image of the deity at Lord Varadaraja Temple located in Kanchi, Tamil Nadu, India.

Mahalakshmi is the consort of Lord Vishnu.  She is the Goddess of generosity and prosperity, and the Goddess who help devotees obtain their spiritual goals.

Last night the temple was overflowing with thousands of devotees.  I talked to people from all over the country...  People visiting from India, some from Kanchi where the image of the deity comes from, locals from Minnesota, many people who traveled from chicago, from milwaukee, and many others who I did not have the chance to meet.  Everyone was so very happy to be there on Diwali.  I sat with a hundred other devotees who sponsored the Laksmhmi Puja in the main hall as crowds moved through out the temple.  The sound of Sanskrit echoing through the temple as priests did puja to Mahalakshmi, Bhagavan Shiviji, and Shri Ganeshaji.

I just closed my eyes, and felt the vibration of the Sanskrit flow over me, the smell of incense and the sounds of bells ringing....it was all most like being back in India again.

As I left late last night, parents were still in the parking lot lighting of fireworks with their children, everyone was smiling, laughing, and wishing each other a Happy Diwali!

Jay Maa

Friday, November 5, 2010

Inner Illumination and Diwali

I'm heading out to MN Hindu Mandir, where I teach Hatha Yoga a few times a month, for the Diwali celebrations tonight!  Always a joyus time to visit the Mandir, you can find more info about the Mandir at: http://www.hindumandirmn.org/Home.aspx

I also stumbled on this amazing writtting from Swami Sivananda.  You can find it at : http://www.dlshq.org/religions/deepavali.htm

DEEPAVALI


By



Sri Swami Sivananda

DEEPAVALI or Diwali means "a row of lights". It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November). For some it is a three-day festival. It commences with the Dhan-Teras, on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik, followed the next day by the Narak Chaudas, the 14th day, and by Deepavali proper on the 15th day.



There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival. Some hold that they celebrate the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.



In South India people take an oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes. They partake of sweetmeats. They light fireworks which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day. They greet one another, asking, "Have you had your Ganges bath?" which actually refers to the oil bath that morning as it is regarded as purifying as a bath in the holy Ganges.



Everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere. This festival brings about unity. It instils charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family. Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees.



Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4a.m.) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali that everyone wakes up early in the morning. The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendents would realise its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives.



In a happy mood of great rejoicing village folk move about freely, mixing with one another without any reserve, all enmity being forgotten. People embrace one another with love. Deepavali is a great unifying force. Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, "O Children of God! unite, and love all". The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! That heart has considerably hardened, and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in our homes can rekindle in us the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.



On this day Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthern oil-lamps. The best and finest illuminations are to be seen in Bombay and Amritsar. The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar is lit in the evening with thousands of lamps placed all over the steps of the big tank. Vaishnavites celebrate the Govardhan Puja and feed the poor on a large scale.



O Ram! The light of lights, the self-luminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart. Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Fix the mind on this supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining illumination of the soul.



He who Himself sees all but whom no one beholds, who illumines the intellect, the sun, the moon and the stars and the whole universe but whom they cannot illumine, He indeed is Brahman, He is the inner Self. Celebrate the real Deepavali by living in Brahman, and enjoy the eternal bliss of the soul.



The sun does not shine there, nor do the moon and the stars, nor do lightnings shine and much less fire. All the lights of the world cannot be compared even to a ray of the inner light of the Self. Merge yourself in this light of lights and enjoy the supreme Deepavali.



Many Deepavali festivals have come and gone. Yet the hearts of the vast majority are as dark as the night of the new moon. The house is lit with lamps, but the heart is full of the darkness of ignorance. O man! wake up from the slumber of ignorance. Realise the constant and eternal light of the Soul which neither rises nor sets, through meditation and deep enquiry.



May you all attain full inner illumination! May the supreme light of lights enlighten your understanding! May you all attain the inexhaustible spiritual wealth of the Self! May you all prosper gloriously on the material as well as spiritual planes!



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Mother Goddess

After mentioning Chandi Maa, and carving her into a pumpkin with the greatest of respect, people asked who is Chandi?  While I don't claim to know how to explain the Goddess, I thought of a few verses that always make me smile and reflect some of the qualities of the Great Goddess.....from the Ratri Suktam in Chandi Path
v.4-8




tvayai taddharayate visvam tvayi tat srjyate jagat
tvyaitat palyate devi tvamatsyante ca sarvad

visrstau srsti rupa tvam sthiti rupa ca palane
tatha samhrti rupante jagato sya jaganmaye

mahavidya mahamaya mahameda mahasmrtih
mahamoha ca bhavati mahadevi mahasuri

praktistvam ca sarvasya guna traya vibhavani
kalaratri maharatrir moharatrischa daruna

tvam sris tvam isvari tvam hris tvam buddhir bodhalakshana
lajja pustis tatha tustis tvam santih ksantireva ca


The universe is sustained by you, and the perceivable world is created by you.  You protect what you create, Oh Divine Goddess, and you are the end for all.

As the creator, you are the form of the creation, and as the form of circumstance, you are it's maintenance.  Then at the conclusion as the form of dissolution of perceivable existence, you are the All-Mighty Measurement of Being.

The Great Knowledge, The Great Measurement, The Great Intellect, The Great Recollection; the Great Ignorance too, and your Ladyship, the Great Goddess and Great Source of Strength.

You are Nature, and the three qualities that you manifest in all: The night of Time, The Great Night, and the Night of Ignorance.

You are Prosperity, you are the Consciousness of All.  You are Humility, you are the Intellect, and the goal of all Knowledge; modesty, increase, then complete satisfaction.  you are the Peace and Patient Forgiveness.




Om Namaschandikayai

Jay Shiv Shakti

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween

I'm not much for the costumes, but I do love carving Pumpkins!

This year I did Chandi Maa, the great Goddess who tears apart thoughts
 and tears apart the demons of our ego!

Aum Namaschandikayai!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

One Hell of a Dream and the Adhyatma Ramayana

I woke this morning to an extremely vivd dream.  I always find it amazing how caught up in the dream I am until the moment I wake up.  My Guruji says this is like the experience we have identifying with the mind body complex, we are in a dream not perceiving the true reality that is everywhere around us.  But, that is the job of Maa Shakti, and she does it well!  So, the dream got me thinking about delusion and ignorance.....with the hopes of one day really waking up.

This is one of my faviorite parts of The Adhayatma Ramayana, Sundara Kandam: Hanuman's sermon to Ravana v.15-19

"The real 'You' or the Self has none of the miseries arising from body, intellect, and the sense, because the real 'you' is only the unperturbed and unaffected witness of all these changes.  The actual involvement in these changes belongs to the body-mind complex.  it is just like the experience of one sleeping.  The series of dream experiences which sleep brings about, end with the dream; they are the effects of the delusive ignorance characteristic of sleep.  As far as the real Self is concerned, the bodily experiences are unreal in the same way.  This unpertubedness and unaffectedness is the truth in regard to the nature of your real Self.  You are by nature changeless; for the Self being non-dual, there can be no cause to effect change in it.  Like the all-prevading Akasa which pervades objects but is not affected by it, your real Self, though pervading the body, is not affected by the bodily experiences because of it's subtlety.  All bondage arises from the sense of identification of the complex, body-mind-Prana- with the real Self.  And liberation consists in experiencing: I am Pure Consciousness, I am Unbound, I am Deathless, I am Pure Bliss."



Aum Hum Hanumate Namah

Jay Shiv Shakti

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Finding the Joy in Teaching Hatha Yoga Again

When I left California earlier this year I was teaching seven days a week, sometimes six classes a day, and it burnt me out.  I looked around at all the Yoga going on and I found mostly loud aerobic classes that seemed so far from a practice that helps one to reach their full spiritual potential.  I could see clearly how it would make your ass look nice and sweat off a few pounds, but beyond that I had a hard time finding the Yoga.  In the middle of the Yoga fashion show, rapper yogis, and everyone selling what they can to turn a buck; I had to shake my head and walk away......

Tonight out in Stillwater the joy wrapped around me again, the joy of sharing what I love with an amazing group of people.  There's no music, just the sound of the wind blowing through the trees.  We spend just as much time meditating and chanting mantra as we do performing asana and pranayama.  And as we finished our practice with 108 mantras I felt so blessed to know these people and share what I love with them.  

I can't extend my gratitude to them enough.  Thank you for taking me in, for giving me a place to teach, for sharing the beauty that each of you has, and for letting that joy deep inside me radiate out again.


Jay Shiv Shakti

Saturday, October 23, 2010

To India!




Everything is finally firmed up for my trip to India this winter!!!
I was so excited as I talked to my Guruji last night, and he e-mailed me the new pictures of Shiv Shakti Kul Asharam. (below, not the one of the mountain top!)


and the lovely view of the back gardens.....

I will be in Gujarat from December 18th through January 5th.  If you are going to be in the neighborhood or would like to come with send me an e-mail, come visit the asharam, and come have Darshan with Guruji!!!


Jay Shiv Shakti

Jay Gurudev!



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Three Pillars of Life- Ayurveda

"We could summarize by saying that there is a predetermined span of life set forth by one's actions in a previous life.  This our potential.  Whether we reach our potential depends on how we honor the three pillars of life."
-Bhagwan Dash, commentary on the Charaka Samhita.


There are three supports (pillars) of life.  They are food, sleep, and observance of brahmacharya.  Being supported by these the body is endowed with strength, complexion, and growth; and this continues up till the full span of life provided a person does not indulge in regimens detrimental to the health.
-Charaka Samhita


The three pillars are the basis of Ayurveda and any healthy Yoga practice.  The key to health and well being can be found in maintaing proper diet, proper rest, and proper use of our sexual energy.  Instead of turning to medications, fad diets, and obsessive exercise; we are all capable of learning how to use our own energy for rejuvenation and revitalization so that we can reach our full spiritual potential.

The first pillar of consuming proper food will lead to proper digestion.  With good digestion the body is able to extract the nutrients and energy needed from the food.  This includes such things as taking food appropriate to the Dosha, appropriate to the season, manner in which the food is consumed, and food combinations.

The second pillar is sleep.  The proper amount of rest is essential for everyone.  Sleep is the bodies chance to heal and repair damage from the waking hours.  It is also the time for the mind to be calm.  Too much or too little sleep will eventually disturb the Doshas and effect the mind as well.  See my brief article on Ayurveda and sleepy time for the Doshas.

The third pillar is the management of sexual energy.  Some teachers have approached this pillar as the practice of sexual abstinence.  While abstinence may be appropriate for some individuals and may be required during illness, if everyone refrained our species would no longer exist!  I have always understood this to mean avoiding excessive sexual indulgence that leads to imbalance of the Doshas.  This is something that is different for each person.  The practice of brahmacharya can be practical for both the Yogi seeking enlightenment as well as individuals who are sick and trying to recover their Ojas.  Any practice of brahmacharya should only be taken up under the guidance of your Guruji, as they will know the practice best suited for you.

The Yogin who balances the three-pillars will find a longer and happier life.  Wishing you all the best in Life and Sadhana!

Jay Shiv Shakti