Showing posts from August, 2010

Yamas and Niyamas

I've been checking out a lot of other yoga related blogs lately. Some of which I find myself going back to.  I haven't signed up to be a follower yet mostly because I can't figure out how to do it on most of the blogs I've been reading.  If anyone would like to help me figure it out - let me know.

Anyway,  one blog that I read yesterday was yogaspy I believe and Yogaspy posed an interesting question to yoga teachers.  He/she asked if you try to apply the Yamas and Niyamas into your life and which one or ones are most challenging to you.

As a refresher the yamas and niyamas are the first and second steps on Patanjali's noble 8 fold path.

The Yamas include:                                      The Niyamas include:

Ahimsa ~ Nonviolence                                     Saucha - Purity
Satya ~ Truthfulness                                         Santosha - Contentment
Asteya ~ Nonstealing                                       Tapas ~ Self-discipline
Brahmacharya - r…

Any effort on the path is never wasted

The story goes that all the ancient yogic wisdom was revealed to the rishis (seers) during deep states of meditation.   This one simple sentence has reeked havoc on my meditation practice this morning!!
I light the candle, say my prayers, I begin repeating the mantra.   It's not long before I'm aware of all these random thoughts.  I'm not fazed by the thoughts, I have the mantra.  I'm good.  I know that sometimes it takes 5 or 10 minutes for my mind to settle down.  I'm repeating my mantra patiently waiting for wave to take me to meditation.

Then this pesky little thought keeps coming back "What if one of these random thoughts is some ancient wisdom being revealed to me and I'm not paying attention".   Are you kidding me?  What the heck would make me think that some ancient wisdom is going to be revealed to ME?  And so the debate begins and I missed the wave.  Damn it! I don't have time for this non-sense so I decide to try to out smart my mind

What did you learn today?

I'd love to say that the many years of practice have helped me to become more flexible mentally and physically but in all good conscience I can't say that.   What it has done is show me just how rigid I
can be mentally and it has helped me "step forward in faith" rather than staying stuck in fear.

Whenever I sub my teacher's class I always have a moment where the thought crosses my mind.  "Oh God these people came here expecting SD and got me!"  I have a flashback to the times I showed up for class only to find a sub and felt so disappointed.   Knowing that some students are feeling as disappointed as I was at the prospect of a sub is really hard for a people pleaser like me. 

Last night was no exception.  The room was full and two more students arrive.  "Let's move to the other room" someone suggests and others agree.  So we all move our mats and blankets and other various items down the hall to the other room.  Everyone is settling in…

My boy, Jake!

As parents we always worry about how are kids are behaving when they're with other people.   I was worried last night when I left my son at the mother's house to spend the night.  Sensing my mother's hesitation  I tell my son that he can't spend the night but grandmoms are suckers for tears so she reluctantly agrees.  She makes Jake promise not to be bad.  "No fighting" she says (my nephew lives with my mother and Jake and Michael fight like brothers).    Jake promises to be good.  I leave praying to God that he behaves.

This morning I call my mother to see how the night went.  She tells me that when she woke up she found Jake sitting cross legged with his eyes closed.  She asked him what he was doing.  "Actually grandmom, I'm meditating" he replied.   Do I even need to tell you how proud of my boy I was to hear that?  As it turns out, he was very good.  My mother told him that she likes it when he meditates and he should do it whenever he get…

Yoga & Ayurveda

As always, tonight's class was perfect. What I love most about Shiva Das' class is that when he's teaching I know that I don't have to worry about anything. I trust him completely and I can let my guard down. I am always taking care of everyone all the time but in his class I feel like I'm being taken of. I can just close my eyes and follow his guidance knowing that I'll have exactly the experience I need. 

I've been experiencing Pitta over-load lately so I was curious to see what the effects of  a pitta reducing class would be on me. (* Pitta over-load meaning excess heat both physically and mentally for more info check out )

 I was able to step back from myself and observe how each asana effected me physically, mentally, emotionally.  We know that each asana has a specific effect on the body but have you experienced the different effects the pose has on a mental and emotional level?  Not only does the asana have different effects …

Finding your center

Let me begin here with 2 very important points:

1. You don't have to travel to the other side of the world to find yourself
2. If you have money to invest - buy rental property in Bali - Tourism is about the boom there!

Okay I just thought of a 3rd point.
3. If you leave your spouse to find yourself and at the end of the year you find yourself in another person -      you didn't really find yourself.

You guessed right. I saw the movie Eat Pray Love this week-end.  The reality for most of us is that leaving our spouse and traveling half way around the world is simply not an option. I would like someone to make a movie or write a book that shows that finding yourself in suburbia is possible.

Since we're not Julia Roberts or Elizabeth Gilbert we have to find our center while sitting in a stinky gym watching our daughter play basketball.  We have to find our center when our sadhana is interrupted by "mommy my stomach hurts".

Can you keep your center then? Can yo…

Everyone out of the boat!

Imagine for a moment that you are standing at the edge of a lake.  You want to get to the other side of the lake because you hear that on the other side of the lake is paradise.  You could swim across the lake but that would take a really long time and you're not the strongest swimmer and then you'd be too tired to enjoy paradise once you got there.   Plan B?  You'll need a boat.  There are many varieties of boats.  Big ones, small ones, motor boats and sail boats, even yachts.  So you choose your boat and you're off to paradise.
Once you arrive on the other side of the lake you need to get out of the boat.  But you don't. For a little while you sit in the boat and simply look at paradise from a distance.  Seems silly doesn't it?  Why wouldn't you get out of the boat?  Why wouldn't you want to stay in paradise forever?

A metaphor that's used often is comparing our mind to a lake.  When the lake is calm you can see clearly to the bottom but when th…

The Ultimate Challenge

"After several hours during which the Buddha received the onslaught in silent peace, a light began to dawn on the abusers.  They ceased their abuse and several fell humbly at the Buddha's feet begging his forgiveness. But tell us, they asked, How is it possible that you just sat there for so long without defending yourself, without fighting back, without saying one word?

The Buddha responded as follows:  My dear, if I send you a package but you refuse to receive it from the postmaster's hands, to whom does the package belong?  The villagers agreed that the package would still belong to the sender if it was not accepted or received.   In the same way the Buddha continued if I do not accept the words you speak, if I do not receive them, then they do not belong to me. They still belong to you. You may speak whatever you wish. However, your words have not been accepted or received by me. Therefore, why should they affect me at all?  This abuse does not belong to me, it belong…

Make me an instrument of thy peace

The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to self that we are born to Eternal life.

I've always loved this prayer.  The swami that I heard speak on Friday reminded me of this prayer. He said that even if you don't know how to pray all you have to do is talk to God.  He said just say "God this is your day.  Let my voice be your voice and my hands your instruments".  That resonated with me because each morning as I sit at my alter I too say to God "Not my will but thy will be done".  The trouble with that is that sometimes God's…

Adventures of a spiritual seeker

I know that expectation always leads to disappointment.  I know that and yet I can't seem to help myself.  Yesterday the anticipation of my satsang with a real swami was unbearable. I couldn't wait for 8pm to arrive.  I couldn't enjoy the live music because I was anxiously waiting to learn the meaning of life from the swami!  I had convinced myself that I was going to learn some ancient yoga secret to a life of peace and joy! 

During the program I begin to think that this message, this secret to a life of peace and joy was not getting to the people who really needed it.   Those of us who had gathered there to listen to Swamiji (as he is affectionately known) already knew that we weren't going to find happiness in the stores or in catalogs.  We already had a glimpse of the bliss that comes from a connection to the Divine.  What about the people in the world who are suffering?  Who will bring this message to them? 

There was a young woman swami with him.  She spoke fir…


I'm not ashamed to admit that for years Oprah Winfrey was my spiritual guru.  Laugh if you must be it's true.
She said once that God whispers a message to you but if you don't listen he'll tap you on the shoulder, if you still don't listen, he hits you over the head with a brick.   This was quite profound when I first heard it.  The thought of God hitting me over the head with the a brick...... hilarious. 

I have been hearing God's whispers "love everyone" but I've ignored it.   I've felt the tap on the shoulder "LOVE EVERYONE".  I've tried bargaining with God.  "Ok God I hear you but I can't love everyone but I promise in my next life I'll love everyone".  Tonight, during yoga, I felt the brick on my head.

We're in standing forward fold..... aaaahhhh.... I feel the release in my cervical spine and the back of my neck.  It feels great to surrender.  I bring my hands to my lower back and interlace my finge…