Vishvarupa.

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 Godhead, 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.

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Breathe.

It takes less than 90 seconds for an emotion to be triggered, surge chemically through the bloodstream, and then get flushed out. After that, we have to recreate it for it to last longer. We do that by attaching a story to the feeling, which we feed and repeat.

In a yin yoga practice, we settle into long surrendering postures for several minutes and use the breath to guide us. We learn to stay present with the subtle sensations and rhythms of a feeling. We pay attention to how it feels in the body. We breathe and give it space. We risk loosening our focus on the mental story attached to the sensations and discover that a feeling we felt stuck in for a long time is simply made of energy. Energy is never still or static; it is always shifting and changing. Even the most uncomfortable feeling that we spend our entire life trying to avoid, takes only a few minutes to transform once allowed its momentum. Join me on the Frost Moon in Scorpio for Full Moon Yoga where we will use breathwork to free ourselves from the emotional circuitry loops that bind us. Breathe on yogis, Namaste.

Surya.

The Sun is the star at the center of our universe. Our concept of time is measured by this relationship, as it shapes our reality and perception of the world. It is the most important source of energy for life here on earth and in some cultures regarded as a deity because of its power and strength. In Hindu mythology, Surya is worshipped as the sun god, the giver and protector of life and illuminator of the intellect. Surya Namaskara, the sun salutation, is the foundation for the entire method of the practice of yoga.

Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga, spent his youth traveling India studying Vedic philosophy then later at university studying Ayurveda, Vedanta, and Sanskrit and even spent over seven years in a remote cave in the Himalayas with his guru studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, learning asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathwork). He ultimately came back to Mysore to teach others such as Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, and Indra Devi among others. Many considered him a scholar and yoga master but he never took credit for his teachings rather attributing the knowledge to his guru or ancient texts. He stressed the importance of combining breath work with the postures and meditation so that health, clarity of mind and spiritual elevation may be achieved.

Simply performing Surya Namaskara without focusing on the mental energies is just exercise, losing meaning and outcome. Pranayama, bandhas (energy locks), drishti (gaze) and meditation on the mantra are equally important. Practitioners develop control of the senses and a deep awareness of themselves, emotions, and workings of the mind. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion they develop steadiness of body and mind. When the practice of breath is synchronized to movement, the asanas become linked together on the thread of breath called vinyasa. This also creates heat within the body, increases blood circulation and flushes toxins from the body through the sweat. With strengthened bodies, sense organs and minds, one becomes healthy and righteous and able to attain eternal liberation. As Pattabhi Jois said “yoga is for everyone – man, woman, the young, old, healthy, and infirm. It is all a matter of having an inclination for it. Laziness or lack of interest are the only things that get in the way of its practice, nothing else. This is a universal truth.” Practice on yogis, Namaste.