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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bhagavad Gita on My Mind

I took a walk today in the lovely midwest fall.  The crisp breeze was blowing through the few leaves left in the trees.  I was quite happy to walk by the lake and silently repeat my mantra.

When I stopped to rest, I thought of this sutra from the Bhagavad Gita, 
Chapter 6 v.30

yo mam pasyati sarvatra
sarvam ca mayi pasyati
tasya ham na pranasyami
sa ca me na pranasyati

Those who see Me in all things,
and all things in Me,
are never lost to Me,
nor am I ever lost to them.

I picked a nice quiet park bench and crossed my legs underneath me, tucking in my toes to keep them warm.  I listened to the breeze through the trees, watched the waves across the lake, and smiled at the women walking past with their dog.  For a split second I had that wonderful feeling that we have all had at some point in our lives, that there is a profound unity that underlies everything.  I closed my eyes and sat a bit longer, feeling the passing of life all around me....and just swimming in the joy of it all.

Jay Shiv Shakti

Jay Shri Rajarajeshvari

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Universe

There was nothing, No Planets, No Stars
Neither existed the Universe nor the time
Only He was there.
He, the Supreme and the Absolute
Beyond definition or description
All was he and he was all
Wished He
“ I am one, let there be many”
Absolute appeared from the Absolute
In the form of the  Energy Supreme
Adi Shakti, Amba the Mother Supreme
Created the Universe, Time and Space
Birds, Animals, Reptiles and Human Race
Rocks, Rivers, Hills and Oceans
All we see are Her creations
He manifested in to many
Dwelling into the  things , we may see any
He is our father and She is our mother
He is Shiv and She is Shakti
We are one family
Jay Shiv Shakti
-          Shriyogeshvara Chaitanya
                                                                                  Chandod, Shri Lalita Panchami 
                                                                  (Ashvin Navaratri,Vikram Samvat 2066)
                                                                                                  October 12th 2010 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why do we chant Om in Yoga Class? Aumkaara any one...

Students often ask, "Why do we chant Aum at the start of class?"  Sometimes people go through years of chanting without knowing why.  The mantra will do it's work regardless of understanding, but it's always nice to deepen our knowledge.  My Guruji said this about the practice of repeating the mantra Aum, known as Aumkaara.

Aum is a single syllable Mantra representing the Ultimate Truth, Naada BrahM.
Guruji Shri Shriyogeshwaraji

I start every class I teach with Aumkaara.  Guruji has said that it can do more for balancing the Pranas, energies of the body, than extended periods of Pranayams and other Hatha practices.

Here is a further quote from the commentary on the Hatha Yogapradipika:

The universal mantra that can be used by everyone is Om, comprised of the sounds 'A'. 'U', and 'M'.  It is the cosmic vibration of both the manifest and unmanifest realities.  'A' represents the conscious world and creation, 'U' represents the intermediate realms and subconscious, and 'M' represents the unmanifest and unconscious.   The three sounds together represent the existence of the supreme consciousness and manifestation.  Everything in creation has its own particular vibrational frequency and mantra, but the combination of the whole universal and vibrational frequencies pulsates to the rhythm of Om.  There is no greater mantra to repeat.
Swami Muktibhodhananada

As always, do not start or practice a mantra without the guidance of your Guruji, or a teacher who has been authorized by their Guruji.  While mantras can lead to ultimate liberation, when misused will lead to pain and sickness.

Jay Shiv Shakti

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Workshop in Sonoma, California

Namaskar Everyone!

I will be back in the North Penninsula in November for a workshop.

Come join me for some fun on Saturday November 13th at 10:30 a.m.

We will have a morning practice of asana, pranayama, and some meditation.  We will take some time for a lunch break and then have a short talk on Ayurveda and Food.  We should be done by around 3 p.m.

The cost of the workshop is $40 to pay for the plane ticket out to Cali and rental of the space.

I'm attempting to organize this from 2000 miles away. I would appreciate your assistance in confirming that you will be attending, so that I have the correct amount of handouts for the Ayurveda talk.

The event will be held at En-er-gy

Jay Shiv Shakti

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Navaratri!

Today marks the start of the auspicious 9 nights of the Mother Goddess, Navaratri.

The word 'nava' means 9 in Sanskrit, and 'natri' is night.  During the next 9 nights the 9 forms of Devi/Shakti are worshipped.

Warmest regards to all who read the blog!

Aum namashcandikayai!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fall is here! Ayurveda and the seasons

Fall is definitely upon the midwest!

As I drove home from school today, the side of the highway looked like it was on fire from the explosion of red sumac.  The maples are wonderful crimson colors and yellow leafs lie in every front yard.

Seasons play a major role in Ayurveda and each one of us is effected differently depending on our unique constitution.

Fall is when Vata is most aggravated.  Fall is dry, light, cold, windy, rough, and empty.  Looking at the trees it's easy to see the cold wind blowing through leafless branches.

Vata is responsible for governing all movement, circulation, thought process, and assists in digestion.  Increased Vata can show up as anxiety, irregularity in the mind, irregular digestion, arthritis, or excess gas to name a few problems.

A few simple things to keep Vata in check as we head into fall:

  • The most important thing to keep Vata in balance is to stick to a healthy routine.  Being regular will go a long with keeping Vata in balance. 
  • The main home of Vata is in the Colon, so any Yogasanas that compress or stretch the colon are very useful.  Practice of all forward bends is highly recommended as this not only compresses the colon but calms the mind as well.
  • Practice Nadi Shodhana if you have learned the technique from a qualified teacher or Yogacharaya.  It helps to balance all the Doshas in the body.  A few minutes of practice will induce a deep state of relaxation and peace.  It helps to relieve stress, bring mental clarity, and focus.  It is a wonderful technique for people who are feeling anxious, stressed, or tired.  It brings the harmony of the Pranas and helps to balance the three major nadis of the body.
  • Stay warm!  Wear your coats and scarfs.  One of the major homes of Vata is in the throat, so it's good to keep the neck wrapped up and warm.
  • Cook with warm spices that don't aggravate your Pitta, and eat the grounding root vegetables that are showing up in the local markets.
  • Last, but not least, spend your time with friendly and loving people that encourage you to reach your full spiritual potential.  The Love of friends can keep us warm through the cold days, and with the light of inner illumination we will never feel cold.
Jay Shiv Shakti!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Through the ups and downs

The last few days have been interesting.   Life is just keeping me on my toes, and I am so thankful to have a practice that helps me maintain balance.  At the center of the practice is Bhakti, devotion for the divine.  This line really sank in yesterday as I was chanting it.  It is from the great Bhavani Ashtakam written by Adi Shankaracharyaji.

So, what keeps you going on the tough days???

For me it's the Love of Maa Shakti.

Anandho dharidro jara roga yuktho
Maha ksheena dheena sada jaadya vakthra
vipathou pravishta pranashata sadhaham
Gatishistwam Gatishtwam twam ekaa Bhavani

While being an orphan
While being extremely poor
while effected by sickness or old age
while I am terribly tired
while I am in a pitiable state
while I am being swallowed by my problems
and while I suffer serious danger
I always bow before Thee
So you are my refuge and only refuge, Bhavani

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Cause of Disease in Ayurveda

My brother is feeling a bit under the weather and spending time here with me.  Sinusitis is a troublesome condition that Ayurveda recognizes as excess Kapha, muscous, in the body.  This morning I taught him how to do jala neti, how to apply nasya oil, and the shatkarma kaphalabhati.  Common Yogic and Ayurvedic practices can do amazing things!

They all helped to bring some immediate relief, but made me think of something an Ayurvedacharya, Dr. Anu, said one time.  She stated that the root cause of all disease was that we forget our true nature, Atman.  In the pursuit of pleasure we overindulge the senses, weaken the body, diminish our energy, and disturb the doshas.  Now, I still get sick, and am far from realizing the true nature of the Self.  But, I wanted to share this lovely quote with everyone.

Man today is sick because he thinks he is sick.  Sickness and disease have no place in the life of a person who does not accept and tolerate the self-limiting thoughts which are the real seeds of our myriad ailments.  We stand hypnotized by the belief that disease and illness are our fate and destiny, rather than health and bliss, which are truly our birthright and heritage.  In order to emerge from our mass hypnosis and collective hysteria and to experience health, joy, and creative fullfillment, we must make a systematic application of yoga in our daily lives.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Wishing you all the best health!

Jay Shiv Shakti

Friday, October 1, 2010

Easy Application of Ayurveda, Seasons and the Doshas

Seasons have their own qualitites that interact with the Doshas of each individual.  These qualities can create imbalance in individuals or help to facilitate healing and balance.  While we typically think of the seasons as being four, Ayurveda divides them into three categories with respect to the Doshas.

We can look at each cycle in three ways.  During a particular season one Dosha is being alleviated, while another Dosha begins to accumulate in the body, and the last Dosha is aggravated.  As you can see all three are involved during each season.

In the season from late winter into early spring Kapha is becoming aggravated, Pitta is beginning to accumulate in the body, and the problems of Vata are naturally alleviated.

From late spring into summer Pitta is aggrevated by the heat, Vata begins to accumulate do to the dryness, and Kapha is alleviated.

From Fall into early winter Vata is aggravated by the cold and wind, Kapha begins to accumulate, and Pitta is alleviated by the coolness.

A quick example from my own life.....In early spring I change my diet to the fresh bitter greens that start to grow again.  I avoid or limit the heavier Kapha producing foods, like milk, while eating bitters help to control the Pitta heat that is beginning to accumulate.

Hope you enjoy and find some use!

Jay Shiv Shakti