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Showing posts from April, 2010

Flowing with Grace

My dog, Pumpkin must be an incarnation of an ancient yogi.  He has taken to waking me up at 4am to start his day. The ancient yogis say that 4am is a very auspicious time of day and suggest that sadhana be done at that time.   Maybe it's God's gentle nudge for me to get to the mat.  Okay, Okay, I get it. I'm up.

This morning I rolled out my mat, lit a candle on my alter.  Each item on the alter was placed there as a symbol  of each one of my teachers.  As I light the candle I acknowledge each one of them and their contribution to my practice and ultimately my spiritual journey.   This morning my eyes immediately fall on a small statue of the Blessed Mother.  I offer a prayer to the Blessed Mother, as I often do, that she be with me as I move through my day so that all of interactions with others come from a place of love.

I pause as I look at a photo of Amma, the hugging saint.  In the photo she is looking away and her face is full of love.  Like the look on a mother'…

Thought for the day

I'd  like to introduce you to one of my spiritual teachers,  The Upanishads.   The Upanishads are beautiful spiritual teachings.  The translation that I read is by Eknath Easwaran.  I keep the book with me always (one of the many advantages of being a woman - carrying a hand-bag!)  I randomly open the book and read a passage. 

Today's passage:  O Lord of Love, revealed in the scriptures, who have assumed the forms of all creatures, grant me wisdom to choose the path that can lead me to immortality.  May my body be strong, my tongue be sweet; may my ears hear always the sound of OM, the supreme symbol of the Lord of Love, and may my love for him grow more and more.

Even if we don't understand the meaning of the passage the words are so poetic and lovely that if your mind in going to be thinking anyway, why not give it some sweet words to think about.

What were your thoughts as you read the passage? This little passage reminds us of so many important yogic concepts.  (rem…

If you fall off -- Get right back on!

I have once again fallen off the wagon! Here's the ugly truth:  My desire for sleep as been stronger than my desire for enlightenment over the past couple of days. 

My teacher, Ed Zadlo posted this on Facebook:  "The more one fails in life, the more one needs to love and be gentle with one's self." Shambhavi --- That's exactly what I needed to hear.

I'm going to try to remember to love and be gentle with myself  because honestly, I tend to mentally beat myself up when I feel like I'm not living up to my own self imposed impossibly high standards.  Every failure is an opportunity to learn something and this "falling off the wagon" so to speak is no exception.

I sometimes find myself wondering if having a daily sadhana is doing me much good.  After all, I still get angry  and impatient at times.  I still struggle with this monkey mind,  I haven't had any "spiritual awakening" (at least none that I'm aware of) so I wonder, what …

Your magic carpet is ready for departure.... Are you ready?

Have you ever gone out for a walk with a friend and because you were chatting away didn't realize just how far you've walked? That's sort of what happened with me and yoga.

My husband wants me to teach him "what I know" about yoga/meditation. This request got me thinking. How do I explain what I've learned over the past 14+ years in words that someone who has no experience with these practices can understand? The thing is, just like when you're walking and chatting with your friend, you may not know the exact route you took to get to where you are. I don't actually know how I got here. My friend, Jon would say "my magic carpet" got me here and everyone's magic carpet takes a different route to this place we call yoga.

As I think about all the "tools" that I've collected over the years in my yoga tool box I wonder which one came first? Do you remember your first profound yoga lesson? If you had to pick just one yoga tool th…

Non-attachment - harder than you think

Vairagya/Non-attachment is fundamental in living a yogic life style. Whenever I hear talk of Vairagya/non-attachment I think, "Oh, I got this" This is one principal that I feel like I've (dare I say?) mastered. After all, I have 3 kids and a dog. What better way to learn non-attachment? Every thing I own will inevitable be lost, broken, or chewed so I no longer feel attached to stuff. (not even my blinds)

But wait, you want me to practice non-attachment to the fruits of my labor? Okay, I admit that's a little more challenging but I'm still feeling confident that I can handle that too. I don't have an aversion to selfless service, I'm a mom!

Non-attachment to my emotions? Oh no! Maybe this lesson is harder than I thought. Some of us tend to identify with our emotions. When we feel angry, we say "I am angry". When we feel sad, we say "I am sad". This isn't really true is it? We are not our emotions. We know this because our emotion…

Note to self

Growing up, my two sisters and I spend a lot of time with my three cousins. I am the oldest of the six. My mother tells this story about how when we were little I always wanted to play school. The story goes that I, of course, was always the teacher and had to set everything up just right before we could play. By the time I had everything set up the way they were supposed to be, the rest of the kids were bored and wanted to play something else.

This tendency has followed me into adulthood. Years ago, when I first started practicing yoga/meditation at home I remember wanting to have everything just right before I could practice. I would clean the living room where I would be practicing. I would pick up the kid's toys, dust, vacuum, etc. by the time I was ready to roll out the mat the hour was up. 15 years and 3 kids later, I've come to the realization that the only space that needs to be clear for sadhana is my own mind.

If we wait until the circumstances of our lives are jus…

The power of words

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me".  Remember that from way back when you were a little kid?  I don't know who ever started saying that but I'd like a word with them!

Many of us get so caught up in the drama that's playing in our minds, and in our own emotions that we sometimes forget to consider the impact our words have on those around us.  Other times, we intentionally use our words as weapons to hurt someone. 

The problem with words is that they can never, ever, be taken back.  Whether they are intentionally hurtful or not doesn't make the words hurt any less.  I've heard my teacher say that the cut of a sword will heal but the cut of your words can last a lifetime. 

Having spent much time on the receiving end of hurtful words I have made a conscious decision to practice ahimsa (non-harming) when I speak.  I'm not saying that I never lose my temper and say things that I regret but  I find that when I am more con…

Finding balance

“Now reach in all directions” I hear SD say as I struggle to find balance in Virabhadrasana III (warrior III).  I found this asana more challenging than usual yesterday. Could it be because I’m having difficulty finding balance in other areas of my life?? With the gentle reminder to ground down through to ball of right foot I begin to realize that in order to “reach in all directions” I need to stay grounded both in the pose and in my life.

You know when you are on a plane and the flight attendant tells you in the event of an emergency, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help others? It sounds like logically advice doesn’t it? Don’t all the parenting books recommend that you get yourself ready first in the morning before waking your kids up? Again, it makes sense right? Why shouldn’t the same advice hold true in other areas of our lives?

After all, how can we have the energy and patience to take care of others if we haven’t taken care of ourselves first?

I…

Oneness

How do you explain a kirtan with Krishna Das to someone who isn't a yogi? "I'm going to a yoga rock concert" I tell my co-worker. Along with what felt like every yogi in the city of Philadelphia, I was at the
Krishna Das/Deva Premal kirtan last night. I had no idea that so many people could fit into the Keswick.

I'm not going to write a review but I will say that I enjoyed Deva Premal's side kick, Mitten the best of all.

Whenever I have the opportunity to meditate in a group setting I'm always amazed at how powerful the energy of a group is. After chanting 108 mantras to Ganesha we sat for just a few moments in meditation.

The event was sold out - imagine 1300 people all chanting "Om Gum Ganapataya Namaha". As we chanted our individual voices seemed to join together and it was one voice chanting. One collective voice asking for Ganesha's blessings. There was no way to distinguish one voice from another.

It was a beautiful experience. (not…

What brings you to the mat??

People come to the yoga mat for many different reasons.  Some come for challenging asanas (poses/postures), some come to reduce stress, some come to the mat as a spiritual practice.   The challenge, as a yoga teacher comes when there are all of these people in the same group class. 

Recently I was lamenting to my teacher that I was struggling with this dilemma.  Do I give the students what they want or what they need.  He wisely replied   "That is a dilemma that has nothing to do with yoga."
As I pondered this reply I began to think about why I show up on the mat and why  I want to teach yoga.

When I think back to my very first yoga class I wasn't sure what to expect.  I thought it would help me relax.
It didn't the first day.  It frustrated me because I didn't know what the heck the teacher was talking about.
I was frustrated because I thought we were going to be "doing" more.  I was lying on the dirty gym floor for savasana and I remember thinking …

Life is tough!

I received an email newsletter today from an astrologer talking about what she called "The Cardinal Climax — Death and Resurrection". This astrologer
says "The years 2009 through 2012 will be the most challenging and stressful period of our century. What is happening astrologically during this period will change the world as we know it, change our lives as we live them and indeed change our world history"

Thank you Rose for sending me this email; I was running out of things to obsess over!

The reality is that we certainly don't need an astrologer to tell us how challenging and stressful life is right now. It seems like everyone is facing challenges either financially, physically or emotionally. You can see the tension and worry on people's faces. You can hear the anxiety in their voices.

So let's take a stroll, shall we, to our handy dandy yoga tool box.

The first thing that comes to mind right now is a story I read, probably in the Upanishads. …

"Before enlightenment chopped wood, carried water....."

Yesterday was Easter, I was expecting a full house for dinner. I got up early to let the Easter bunny in with the baskets and then made the mistake of sitting on the sofa. The next thing I know it's almost 11am!! I can't tell you the last time I slept so much or so soundly. Apparently I needed the sleep but then I found myself behind in what I wanted to do.

While the rest of my family went to visit their Nanny I had the house to myself. Half way through my "to do list" I went out back to let my dog out and noticed what a beautiful day it was. I think about how lovely it would be to meditate outside.
So that's what I did. (That's my way of practicing staying in the present moment)

Just as I begin the mantra I notice a huge bee buzzing around me. My first reaction was to swat it away but I practice ahimsa (now harming). Then Pumpkin, my dog, started pacing (he suffers from excess vata), the birds were chirping happily. The "to do list" was swirling a…

Still a long way to go til Enlightenment

"Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been 2 days since my last meditation." Oops. Sorry. Had a flash-back to Catholic school days. But seriously, I didn't do my sadhana the past two days. I could give you a long list of excuses but none would be a good one.

It seems when I need the practice the most it's usually the first thing to fall by the waste side. Why is that? For the life of me I can't figure it out. We know what's good for us and yet at times, we can't get ourselves motivated to do what we know is in our best interest. We humans are such strange creatures!

What I've noticed in my own life is I am very much aware of the times when the old habits are creeping in again and I can usually get myself back on track pretty quickly. This time it was only two days. I made sure this morning that I did not leave my house without first doing a sadhana.

The difficult part for me is forgiving myself when I slip back into old samskaric patterns. For…