One of everyone’s favorite poses in a yoga class is savasana, aka corpse pose, as it is the easiest to perform but in my opinion one of the most difficult to master. Sensory stimulation and external distractions are minimized to help the body relax while mental energy is channeled inward to engage in mindful awareness. But what does awareness look like? What is this state of consciousness we are undertaking?
Visualize a dishwashing or laundry pod; those small capsules of concentrated detergent covered in a thin dissolvable film that breaks apart and dissolves in water. Now imagine that we are these pods and the water is consciousness. Agitation, or heat, is needed for the film to dissolve and release the capsules of detergent in the water. That agitation or heat is our yoga practice (tapas) and the sheath of the dissolvable film is our ego. Our practice helps us turn down or disengage the ego. And those small capsules of detergent are our thoughts. So as we lay in savasana and the residue of our practice washes over us, our thoughts begin to percolate up. If we stay entangled and caught up in our thoughts they will not dissipate or dissolve in the water of consciousness. However, if we can simply observe what arises and stay unattached, the capsules of detergent will dissolve. And our dharma, our purpose, is not lost as now we are soapy water working in unity with consciousness. We can clean the clothes or dishes in harmony with the greater good. Welcome back to the cosmic soup yogis, Namaste.
Yoga is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core. It is a system of philosophy and practice to yoke the mortal self to its divine nature of pure consciousness. It is not a religion but a path to realization through physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. In our yoga practice we heat and cleanse our body, train our senses, and let go of physical and mental attachments and aversions to our body and thoughts. As we move from asana to asana, focusing on our breath and staying present in each moment, we are brought to awareness in the ecstatic edge of our experience. It turns us inward to face something harder to comprehend. It dissolves the coverings of separation and anxiety that obstruct our realization of the creative force that is ever arising from the center of our being. We learn that happiness is not attached to an outcome or circumstance but something that resides inherently within us based on our peace of mind.
When we are seeking and investigating happiness not found through external pleasures but through peace of mind it becomes evident that it is the absence of the uncomfortableness that we call suffering. Suffering ceases when we have an understanding of life in which happiness is not the gaining of anything but a functioning of our perceptions and relationship that we have towards ourselves. Guilt, blame, pride, worry, and expectations keep us bound in this psychology that our happiness is outcome driven versus the real phenomenon of our attitude. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali provide us with the tools to suppress the activities of the mind. The Bhagavad Gita gives us real-life skills to separate from contact with suffering. I am beyond thrilled to share A History of Yoga next weekend which will delve into these sage wisdoms to live a more fulfilled life off our yoga mats. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.
Every part of us vibrates. Whether we realize it or not, within every cell, every tissue, every thought, and every memory is a specific vibration that makes up the total vibration of who we are. Everything around us also has a vibration, be it a plant, an animal, or a cell phone. Some of these vibrations combine and create harmonious patterns; some of these patterns create disharmony and dis-ease. Within our body, there are seven main chakras where subtle energy from higher planes becomes denser through acupuncture points and meridians eventually condensing into the physical body. The chakras get energized by specific vibrations enabling healing of the organs and emotions related to them. By balancing the chakras, imbalances in the physical body will often disappear.
Everything is in a constant state of vibration. As each and every atom produces a particular sound on account of its movement, rhythm or vibration, these form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole. Sound is a vibration that resonates in every cell of our body and has the power to heal not only on a physical level but also on emotional and spiritual levels. When we look up “heal” in the dictionary it says “to make sound”. When we look up “sound” in the dictionary it says “normal and healthy, not weak, diseased or impaired”. Sound healing is when we combine this powerful medium of vibration with the intention to heal allowing the body to adjust and recalibrate back to health. Join me on the auspicious evening of the equinox, a day of equal daylight and darkness, a day of balance on Saturday, September 22nd for Autumn Equinox Chakra Balancing. We will restore ourselves to wholeness, balance, and well-being using Tibetan singing bowls tuned to each chakra while lingering in restorative yoga postures creating more harmony in ourselves, our lives and in our world.
I was recently asked if I believed in luck. Synchronicity yes, luck no. We can influence our destiny by being prepared so when an opportunity arrives we are open and ready to receive it. With positive intentions and practice, we can manifest meaningful coincidences. The more aware we become of how we manifest, that is when we get clear, the higher the frequency of the synchronicities of what we attract in our life.
So what happens when something bad happens? It is simply our perception of the situation based on expectations. At that moment we are obviously attached to an outcome that it isn’t and we are disappointed. However, an energetic shift is needed for the next something, be it good or bad, to come. Why? Because change is inevitable. How we perceive and prepare for it isn’t. Surrender to the flow yogis, Namaste.
One of the best post yoga meals is the açaí bowl, a Brazilian dish made of frozen and mashed açaí palm fruit from the Amazonian region. As one of the only fruits in the world with zero naturally occurring sugars, açaí also contains healthy omega fats, antioxidants, and fiber. You can add anything and everything imaginable to it so get creative (think goji berries, hemp seeds, nuts, flaxseeds, bee pollen, ginger…) and please share your favorite combination! Below is my favorite Açaí bowl right now.
- unsweetened shredded coconut
- unsweetened cacao nibs
- berries/fruit (raspberries are amazing with the cacao)
- Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal
- OPTIONAL: drizzle with almond or peanut butter
- Place all puree ingredients in a blender on high until blended to a sorbet consistency.
- Immediately scoop into a bowl and pile on the toppings. ENJOY!
Kindness. Consideration. Friendliness. These words embody ahimsa meaning non-violence and one of the yamas in the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga. In the second chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Sadhana Pada, Ashtanga is referred to as the eight practical integrated steps leading to a greater gradual awakening of yoga. The first limb or step is yama, our social observances and behaviors, in other words, how we relate to others. In Yoga Sutra 2.35, ahimsapratisthayam tatsannidhau vairatyagah, it is explained that when we live in a state of non-violence, those around us will cease to be hostile. It’s rather simple really…as old adages go…it takes two to tango or two hands to clap. If we do not react when someone has a conflict with us, no dance, no sound, the conflict will end. This interpretation does not imply to just turn the other way and ignore it. In fact, it is far from that.
My heart has been really heavy from the repeated and increasing gun violence in our American culture over the last two decades. It can’t be ignored which is exactly what we are doing. We hear of another deadly mass shooting as we say, oh god not again. We see the homeless on the street and look away. We go into a difficult asana and hold our breath. If we don’t like something we move away from it instead of working through the uncomfortable depths of ourselves. How about we look into the person’s eyes who we have conflict with and see ourselves responding with empathy and compassion? How about we look into the homeless person’s eyes and see ourselves with a genuine smile? How about we speak kind words to ourselves to build positive attitudes? When we cease harmful actions, speech and thoughts, love can shine through. It is the force that underlies the energetic structure of the universe. When we align ourselves with love others will no longer feel angry, fearful, and alone because there is nothing that separates us. And in that peace, harmony begins. Ultimately we help one another remember that we are all part of something so much greater than each of us as individuals. Cultivate love yogis, Namaste.
The Bhagavad Gita, originally delivered in Sanskrit, is a sweeping saga on the epic war about the Kuru dynasty of India translated today in nearly every language. This story of a 3,000-year-old battle is considered a foundational text for the practice of yoga. But how can reading about war lead to inner peace? And what does this have to do with yoga today? The Gita serves as both an ancient story of battle and a spiritual text on the inner struggle for self-mastery and the attainment of happiness through yoga.
The Bhagavad Gita takes place as a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and Sri Krishna who is disguised as his chariot driver, friend and council. The story opens with a scene on the battlefield with Arjuna asking Krishna for guidance. Knowing that by engaging in this war family members and friends will be lost on both sides of the battle line, Arjuna is faced with a personal and ethical crisis. The resulting conversation between Arjuna and Krishna develops into a discourse on the nature of the soul, the purpose of one’s life, and the threefold path of yoga. Scores of philosophers have likened the battlefield of Kurukshetra to the battleground that lies within each of us. Though Arjuna’s conversation with Krishna is deeply personal, it touches on topics of concern to people everywhere that continue to trouble us today.
For students of yoga, the Gita brings to life its foundational principles and methods: discernment, equanimity and non-attachment. By incorporating the yogic philosophies within his responses to Arjuna’s dilemma, Krishna patiently and eloquently teaches Arjuna how to apply them to his life to relieve him from his suffering and to attain eternal happiness. Through hearing Krishna’s examples and allegories, we too learn how to further understand and apply these teachings to our daily lives. With every age, the important words will carry new and expanding meanings but its central teaching will never vary. Join me Friday, June 1st at 6:30pm for An Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita in which we will dive into this deep well which reveals the complete science of yoga and self-realization by refining our understanding and practice of the tools of yoga.
To be honest with relocating and waiting to move into my new space, I have not been cooking at home as much as of late. So I thought I’d share something I still whip up often that is quick and nutritious…my morning smoothie. Not only is it delicious but the vibrant blue-purple color adds to its magic. The color is due to an ingredient called Blue Majik, a powdered superfood extract from the microalgae Spirulina. This type of algae contains more protein than any other organism and its amino acid profile is almost entirely the same as that of the human body which is why its consumption is so beneficial to our health. It also acts as a COX-2 inhibitor, a natural pain reliever for cramps, muscle soreness, and joint pain, making it the perfect drink after my early morning Ashtanga practice.
- 1 cup (8 oz) Silk almond milk (unsweetened, vanilla flavor)
- 1 banana
- 2 small handfuls of blueberries
- 1 scoop (1/4 teaspoon) Blue Majik powder
- Place all in a blender on high until blended.
- Enjoy immediately!
*If you prefer a thicker smoothie simply use frozen fruit.
I love yoga because of the way it makes me feel. Breath, movement, focus. Pranayama, asana, drishti. With movement, the oceanic-sounding ujjayi breath is long and smooth drowning out the mind-stuff, the citta vrtti. In the pose, it becomes more subtle and everything quiets like the surface water on a lake. I am reminded of those rare days living on the southern California coast when the Pacific Ocean resembled Lake Michigan in the days of my youth and I am humbled. I feel smaller than small, greater than great as the ego settles and comes closer to communion with Self.
Every morning I watch the sunrise overlooking the Tennesse River. Existence, ego, consciousness. Samsara, ahamkara, Purusha. It’s calm glassy surface carried by a swift current fluidly moving everything downstream to the source, the ocean. Nothing stays constant yet everything is the same. Dynamic yet everlasting. There is so much excitement, peace, and relief in the realization that this cosmic manifestation is a chance for our conditioned souls to go back to the Source, back to home. There is no doubt that the place of freedom– of enlightenment– lies within the infinite palace of the heart within all of us. Persevere on yogis, Namaste.
We live in a culture in the United States that perceives the automobile as an entitlement rather than a privilege. Millions of people all over the world do not own or use a car alternatively using public transportation, bicycles or horses. For example in South America you commonly see horse-drawn cart and buggies transporting harvests to sell at the local markets bringing a whole new meaning to our slow food or farm-to-table movements.
Using public transportation to move about our daily routine results in often taking the same bus or train route. We get to know our bus drivers and fellow riders. We form relationships that open us to new ways of thinking as none of us have anything immediately in common except that we are commuting together. To commute comes from the Latin origin “com”, meaning altogether, and “mutare”, to change. It is an interchange of energy. We are a “WE ” not a “ME”, engaging with others rather than being alone in a car and isolated from others. The journey is a communion and has other far-reaching rippling effects such as consuming less fossil fuels. We are part of the whole generating more compassion and kindness to our fellow human beings. We vibrate higher and smile more. Grin on yogis, Namaste.