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Archive for the ‘Asanas’ Category

On the edge of my bed, in the midst of serenity. How can I even start to explain what life in an ashram may mean or is doing to my life… especially, my spiritual life, how can I begin… My intention is reach you and share with you the hopeful possibilities of life.

I have, like many of us, gone through some difficult times in my life, and I know they will happen again. It is not the things that happen to us, bow we perceive them. Like in our yoga practice, it is the intention and the action, not the reaction from the actions where we concentrate our efforts. So, it is not without effort that I take the body to a spiritual retreat. It is then the mind that reacts. Although I may physically be here, in the midst of an ashram with mantras and chanting embracing me, if my mind is is not here then, there is no intention. We all have the experience of sitting in a math class where our body is there, but our mind is everywhere else. The mind’s purpose, I have learned, is to bring happiness to the atman (soul). Unfortunately, we confuse the source of permanent happiness – and we look everywhere, only finding bits and droplets.

I only understand what happens in my heart…as I sit, listen, meditate in God, in all those beautiful qualities that we truly know inside,  then tears of joy come to me eyes. It is joy that I have felt before but different. This is beyond my intellect and beyond my simple understanding.

I have know enough times despair and sadness. I know I might feel them again. Now, however, I know, that this sensation I can always reach for, if I sit and practice devotion to Divine Love, true yog (connection).

I could not think of a different place I would rather be receiving the New Year. I wish you, the same…

It is like walking in a fog of uncertainty and doubt. It is like jumping in a river with murky water. It is like being suffocated with the smell of a cheap perfume. We have an incredible capacity to adapt and get used to new conditions. We live in this world bombarded with circumstances, conditions, distractions – and we go through them. We all make it. We all survive. But survival many times is not enough. We want more – I know I do.

When do we stop to take a step back and look at the reasons why we are where we are. Why are we walking, swimming, breathing? Where are going? What are we looking for? Did we forget?

It seems I am waiting for that next goal, to reach that number, to obtain that title, to have an epiphany. I am waiting for that magical heavenly event, parting of the clouds. I am waiting for happiness to find me. Indeed I believe happiness is a gift, and is gracefully given to us. I believe it is not because I deserve it. It is not because I do not deserve it. But I realize it is simply not found in all those places I keep looking. It cannot be found in the most delicious food, or in the most beautiful car. I know I cannot find happiness in that expensive pair of shoes! Happiness is ever increasing, permanent, everlasting – food is not; my car lasts for a few years; my shoes go out of style! Happiness cannot be there…

The more I discover love for permanent, unchanging, Divine matters, then happiness starts sneaking into my heart. All of the sudden a smile, a flower, a sunset, a meditation reminds me of all that is beyond. My eyes fill with tears. The sound of a chant makes my heart skip a beat. And I want the entire world to sign with me, to fill it with me.

I believe we all do. I believe we all have that deep core memory and wisdom of what is peaceful, harmonious, true. I believe we all are craving and searching for that. I believe that we all hanker for Love, Divine. We know what it is. We simply forget.

Let’s purify, rub our eyes, take a deep breath, and reinvigorate our desire to keep looking in the right place – to turn our attention to the permanence of Divine Love. Let’s remember. Let’s not forget.

As I wake up this morning, there are all these emotions and thoughts and ideas… where do I start to be able to even

Prem Mandir, Vrindavan, India

convey these feelings. In only a few days, we are, once again, on our way to the mystical spiritual lands of India. It just hit me last night, after our satsang (group mediation)that we are visiting the inauguration of Prem Mandir(The Temple of Love) in Vrindavan, India.

I remember at the age of 6 or so, I ran downstairs, with the curiosity and determination a child can have, I walked into my loving father’s study, where he was buried in books and the reading of philosophy and positive thinking. With the deepest of desperations, I asked, “Dad, what is Love?”. I do not remember his answer; I do remember and do know, however, my search since. There has been plenty of moments of pain and deceit, many moments of crying myself to sleep. There have been deep moments of suffering. I have looked in many places for love and happiness, even in the most unlikely places. I did find moments, sparks, glimpses of what that means; none lasting or really satisfactory – I always knew there had to be more. The disappointments led to deeper discouragement and frustration, maybe anger. I gave up many times.

I was hearing of a student’s reflection on how difficult the practice of hatha yoga has become. At the beginning yoga was (arguably) an easy, fun, enjoyable “light” work out. But to many of us the more we become present and stay in asana, the deeper we connect. Is that something I am prepared to do? Yoga is indeed simple, though not an easy task. The more we pay attention, we find loads of thoughts and emotions. For many of us it is easier to stop, avoid, and/or look away. It is a very common reaction. I do it all the time, I do know! Through my many years of practice, I realize now it has nothing to do with that movement, that physical pain and discomfort, or frustration. It has little to do with my hips or my shoulder, or my knee. The physical body, as we have heard many times, is more than a structure of movement. The hands are to hold things, but also to let them go. The chest is to protect, but also to open up the heart and emotions. The legs and hips are the means of motion, movement in our lives, or to simply stand in place, grounded.

So, our physical yoga practice is exactly that, a practice of rediscovery, re-membering of who we are. The process of discovery is never easy. The path is full of ups and downs. We have given up uncountable times, as the yoga philosophy teaches, for uncountable (truly uncountable!) lifetimes. How are we to change in one class, or one posture, or in one month, or one year, or a lifetime? We do change, but maybe in ways we do not realize or expect now. Every breath done in consciousness changes something inside of us, every time. The questions is, are we able to sustain it? Are we able to persevere and find encouragement? Are we able to maintain focus? The is not a right or wrong answer, simple our sadhana (practice) is what matters. Some days are better than others. Some (many) days not so good. That is the nature of our imperfection, though we may choose to place blame outwardly.

So, what is the loving thing to do? What is Love? Where am I today in my trying to understand the incomprehensible? I do not understand intellectually anything more than when I was 6 in my dad’s study. Although, I know my heart has experience the incomprehensible through practice and perseverance. My heart has been graced with experiences of Love, as I know we all have. To keep those loving feelings present it takes perseverance, patience, discipline, remembrance, and know there is not an only way or only one time. It took me 40 years of experiences to view Love as a daily action, rather than the misconceived romantic ideal.

Yoga means connection, is the path of search for the purpose of our physical experience, our body as a temple of our spirit, the temple or instrument to find Love, Divine Love.

How many times we have heard that “it” has nothing to do with us. Well, I think as I get older (or wiser) I realize how these saying are even more true and real. As I sit through satsang on Friday, and I hear the words of a devotee of Radhey and Krishna explaining this, the words become just so real. Of course, I immediately think of passing these just wonderful concept to “my” yoga students.

As I understand these ideas and listen to them in my head, I can see how it all connects. We try so hard all the time to do our best. We have so many hopes and expectations and desires about the outcomes of our actions. Yes, I do this all the time. I am always hopeful that this idea or thought or action might provoke change in this or the other person or situation. I guess there is nothing wrong is wishing the best to the people we love. However, these expectations do not have to turn into attachment. Let them be. The consequences of a deep breath we hope are to trigger that deep energy inside of us, and to open the alveoli, to remove impurities from the metabolites of our cellular respiration, etc. The subtle difference is if we sit and expect, desire, attach our thoughts to that result, and we wait. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not. Either way, it is ok. The result is not ours to control. There are many forces that will act and affect on the result of our actions. In the Bhagavat Gita Krishna tells Arjuna (and to us all through him) that we should always do our duty, and offer our results to the Divine.

Trust and surrender

Trust and Surrender

As I reflect on this, I can think of so many times that I am not even focused on the now, but on the reactions, the effect of my actions. It is so much simpler (not always easier) to be present, to do and live this moment the best I can. The fruit of my actions will happen. I will learn as I evaluate the reactions, and do this better next time. There are plenty examples where my actions have brought undesired reactions to others. Many times it is very hurtful and difficult to see this. All I can do is try to stay humble, and try my best again. I guess, it is another lesson learned from surrendering in yoga.

It is simpler to concentrate in the now, to do our best in the moment. Just listen, be attentive, do your best in this asana. The fruit of our actions is not up to us. The intent of our action is.

From murky waters, not of murky waters

The Lotus flower is the national flower of India, as mystical as it is beautiful. Many consider this flower to be sacred, however, beyond sacred it is a powerful metaphor. The lotus can be a symbol of beauty and purity, and Divine Energy, with mesmerizing presence, anyone gets absorbed by it.

It is impossible not to evoke emotions of softness and peacefulness when looking at a lotus flower. The flower grows usually in murky ponds. One of the unique characteristics of this flower making it different from the water lilies, is that the lotus leaves grows above the water surface. The leaves of the lotus are called emergent leaves. Truly a lesson in itself.

We constantly talk in yoga about the invasion of the world around us into the world inside of us. Many times, I know I struggle with the pull and the “distractions” of the senses. It is not easy for me to maintain that constant focus in my internal remembrance of the Divine Love. Yoga also teaches us that we have seven centers of energy called chakras. These start from the tailbone area, go through the heart, the middle chakra, and finish with the crown chakra at the top of our head. The crown chakra is symbolized a lotus flower of one thousand petals.

It is comforting to think of the lotus flower to help find and maintain that balance in our lives. The flower grows, emerges, feeds, and lives of the murky water. Eventually, a beautiful delicate water emerges, with such splendor, and from an unsuspected origin. In the same way, our energy rises up, through our spine, from the lower chakras to the higher chakras, ending in the crown chakra, with the desire of the ultimate realization, God Realization.

The lesson seems simple, though no easy. We have a body, the senses, the external world, to help us. it is our job to emerge, and rise above. Our intent might be to live like the lotus flower, coming from the world, but not of the world. Our meditations may be guided by the image of a lotus flower. The soft colors, the beautiful petals, the impressive flower that opens searching, looking upwards, for that Divine Love. Its beauty does not come from the flower itself, but from its intent – reach above, humbly.

Today’s Classes
  • 6:30 pm - Mantra Chanting
  • 7:00 pm - Hatha Yoga
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