Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Friday, June 21, 2013

Real Yoga

Tapas - intentional self-discipline

Svadhaya - self-study, self-inquiry

Isvaraprandihana - Surrender to God

In my humble opinion, the above 3 practices are essential  for serious yoga practitioners. I'd like to explore these ideas with you.  Please share your thoughts by commenting.  I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Let's start with Tapas:

Tapas means to burn.  It refers to the disciplines and austerities used to create heat required for transformation.  Here's the thing, ttransformation on the surface level is really pretty easy. All that's required is some new clothes, new name and new circle of friends and WaLa! You are transformed. (Rent the movie Kumare....and you'll understand what I mean). I see a lot of this sort of transformation. Yes, it is technically transformation and I've been told that it serves the person in some way. Perhaps for some, "fake it till you make it" works.  Does fake bliss feel the same as real bliss? I doubt it.

A while back I did some research on women in yoga. What I found was that a lot of popular, modern "yoginis" actually had a hard time with discipline. They found the disciplines their teachers gave them to do too hard, so they changed the disciplines, left their teachers and started their own yoga style that suited them better. Is it discipline if you change it to make it easier for yourself? I came face to face with this challenge this week. I am in the middle of a 40 day moon salutation sadhana. My intentional self-discipline is to do 11 rounds of Chandra Namaskar each day followed by 108 mantras to the moon. I'm doing great the first week or 10 days but then my knee started bothering me. I could very easily use that as an excuse not to practice. I did toy with the idea, telling myself that "I'm honoring my body" by not doing it. Would it still be tapas if I use the excuse of a little discomfort to derail my intention? I doubt it. 


Think about how people use the ancient yogic principles to justify their bad behavior. For example, when using the concept of practicing acceptance to justify avoiding the difficult task of changing something that needs to change. Using the idea of surrender and karma to avoid taking responsibility for our own circumstances in life. The truth is that what we need to surrender are the excuses we tell ourselves about why we have the difficulties we have in our lives. Then there would be a chance for real transformation.

The truth of the matter is that when you begin the practice of Svadhaya you will, without a doubt, uncover issues that you will be required to address. That is, if you're interested in transformation on a deeper level.

You will find out things about yourself that you may not like to admit. One of my biggest revelations and challenges has been attachment. My attachment to people and my attachment to my own beliefs and opinions. I could call my attachment to people and my beliefs loyalty and devotion. But is attachment the same as loyalty and devotion? I doubt it.


Do what you do in service to God. Offering all your tapas to the greater good of all. Here's where it all comes together.... at least for me. I ask myself, and you, what is your motivation for doing what you do?

Why are you doing the disciplines? What transformation are you seeking? These questions can be answered through self-inquiry(svadhaya). The serious yoga practitioner is willing to ask herself/himself the hard questions and will answer honestly. 
Am I doing the disciplines because I'm seeking the approval and recognition of my teachers and peers or for God?

Is the transformation that I seek superficial, simply to fit in with the popular crowd or am I ready for the hard, dirty work of releasing the fantasy world we have created in our own mind to discover who we really are?

What transformation are YOU seeking and are you willing to do the work required to achieve it?  Are you ready to surrender yourself to the will of the Divine?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The lotus of the heart

Anahata chakra..... The heart center. 

Anahata means un-struck
It’s color is green
Symbolized by lotus flower with 12 petals
Element is Air
Located at the center of the chest
Sense of Touch
Bija mantra: Yam

This center is for unconditional love for the self, and others, compassion, passion, and devotion. When fully open it becomes a channel for Universal Love

When balanced, a person feels joy, peace, harmony, happiness, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, and generosity

When unbalanced, fear, anger, isolation and unworthiness. Unsympathetic, self-centered, selfish, unforgiving.

"The heart chakra is the bridge between our humanity and our divinity" ~SD

In the sacred circle today a wise woman shared some very powerful sentiments with regard to the heart chakra.   I share with you here the message my heart received from her words.

Never fear that you are unloved....for the love of the Divine Mother is unconditional and ever present in our lives. 

Imagine the most beautiful flower you have ever seen.  The only way the flower can successfully open to it's fullest expression is if it has strong roots and a strong stem.  The heart chakra is that beautiful flower.  In order for it to bloom in it's full beauty it needs strong roots (groundedness and a sense of security - 1st chakra) and a strong stem (a strong, functional relationship with the Self  as well as others. That includes self-love - 2nd chakra). 

The deep longing for love and connection that we feel in our hearts should be turned towards God. Like the flower turns it's face to the sun.

I am eternally grateful to this practice of yoga and to the teachers who lovingly guide me along the way. It is what strengths me and gives me a sense of groundedness and security.  It is the practice that feeds me and opens, not only my heart, but my connection to the Divine.  When the connection to God is strong,  the knot in our heart dissolves and we can truly be a channel for Universal love.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Temper tantrum ahead... proceed with caution!!

One thing I know for sure is that I have no patience for yoga babble.  I was trying to think of way to say what I need to say in some flowery, fluffy way so that it won't come across so harsh.  Sorry... I can't come up with any yoga babble so here's my disclaimer:

You may not like what I have to say but that doesn't mean you don't need to hear it.  If you get offended easy... stop reading now.  If you're interested in getting to the heart of the matter.... keep reading.  The choice is yours.  I will try to say this as nicely as I know how.

It's time to wake up people!!  It's time to take off your malas and your fancy yoga pants and get down to the business of actually being a yogi!!!  Get off your meditation cushion and get your hands dirty in the world!!!  PAY ATTENTION TO THE YOGIC TEACHINGS!!  THEY APPLY TO YOU TOO!!

Yea, you... drinking your coconut water while your neighbor is dying of thirst.   You, who are busy counting mantras on your $108. malas while your friend is crying for help.   While you're practicing holding head stand for 20 minutes, there's a child who needs a mentor. 

All the talk of love and light and enlightenment has blinded us!!  The world will not be saved by meditation alone.   We must all be willing to get off our asses and WORK!!   Remember that??  There is real work to be done in this world if there's any hope of a future for our children. 

We cannot all renounce the world and sit in our air conditioned yoga room pretending that all is right with the world as long as we talk about contentment and acceptance.  Have any of you read the Bhagavad Gita??  Didn't Krishna talk about doing your duty?  I think so.   What is your duty?  Do you even know?

I'm no expert in spiritual matters but I do believe I remember 200hr yoga teacher training.  I remember some mention of karma yoga.  Remember Karma yoga?  The path of self-less service??  Not everyone is suppose to be a guru or priest!!  Some of us are suppose to be in the trenches, so to speak.  Who is the better yogi??  MY ANSWER.....THE ONE DOING HIS/HER OWN DUTY JOYFULLY.  Whether it's being the guru or being the one taking care of the day to day needs of the masses. 

Why is it that people in yoga-land are willing to travel to the other side of the globe to offer their self-less service but won't stop what they are doing to drive (in their air conditioned car) a few blocks to help a friend who is stranded in the streets for hours in 100 degree heat??????  

I know this won't make me very popular in yoga-land but hell... I've never  been in with the popular crowd anyway why worry about it at this point in my life?  The people closest to me know that I take my responsibilities very serious and that means my commitment to karma yoga.