Friday, December 19, 2014

Food for thought

I read this yesterday in the book of awakening. All day I thought of this. What a beautiful thing this passage was. I was encouraged to be more positive and to hold within myself a sense of peace. Now let's see if that can happen today too.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Today is the the day.....I swear.

It is funny,  I get up every Friday and say today is the day to write.  To share with the world my thoughts, my opinions, and whatever else may be on my mind. The last couple months I am not sure you would want to know either of the above.

So, today really was the day I wanted to get back on the horse of the cathartic writing wagon and get going again.

The last 3 days I have been inspired to awake early and practice.  I typically go for a walk, then barely have time for my inversions.  There are a couple people in particular who have inspired me to do this.  They seem to find the time to practice for 2-3 hours every day and never complain about how early they get up.  I have found the same to be true for myself. I have gotten up, gone to the mat and been pleasantly surprised of the outcome. I am not sluggish to get going. It is as if my body has been waiting for this!

I ask the question though, when do I do pranayama? The last year I have been doing pranayama faithfully every morning around 6:45am.  Do I do it before my practice? After?  I have played with both this week.  I guess it will just take some time to figure out the right time for me.

Happy Friday, Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Peaceful Contentment and my short fuse....

I must admit that I have a temper.  A short fuse some would call it.  Only those who are quite close to me would have any inkling to it, they are the ones who are at the end of it.

It is funny, after all these years of yoga and study, I still fell like I am at the beginning of my process. The process of releasing myself from the material, the attachment for praise, the attachment to drama, the attachment to making more and more money.  It just seems so human, so real to be attached to these things.  Why must they make me miserable?  The more I strive, the worse I feel, the more angry I become because I don't have something or I cannot afford something.

It is no one but myself who gets to change this.  Every morning I wake up, go to the mat and do pranayama.  Some days still I get frustrated. Frustrated that I am up, frustrated that I cannot make my breath smooth enough, frustrated that my fingers still do not cooperate in digital pranayama. I stay the course and by the end I always feel better, the actions are always coming.  Little by little.
I keep thinking one of these days the breath will cleanse away all my anger and I will come out of the yoga room a new human, a more compassionate human, someone who does not get mad so easily.

Last year about this time I started reading the Bhagavad Gita.  I finished it quickly, realizing how amazing it really is.  Now I am on to The Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living, by Eknath Easwaran. There are 3 big volumes, the first entitled The End of Sorrow.  Wow! What a title! I think to myself.....this is it!  My answer to cure the anger, the resentment, and the sadness I feel. 

It may not be a quick fix, but I will tell you that it is helping. It helps to know I am human first of all.  Everyone gets mad, sad, some go into a hole and wallow, some of us want everyone around us to know how we really feel, we actually want them to feel it! Eknath Easwaran has a unique way of blending many different spiritual viewpoints to bring the Gita to life.  It is not just about one persons religion or another person's non-religion, he writes on how we can cultivate a sense of peace in ourselves and in the world.

This morning I got to the end of the first chapter and here is what he says,

 "When we meditate every morning we are putting on armor for the day's battle against our own impatience, inadequacy, resentment, and hostility. Of course, it is going to be extremely painful and distressing when we have to put all around us first and ourselves last, but at night when we go to bed there is such a fierce joy in the knowledge that we have contributed in some measure to the joy and growth of our family and community, even though we have suffered deeply ourselves......In inspiring words, Sri Krishna will rouse us to action by reminding us that our real Self is pure, perfect, and untainted, no matter what our past errors.  It does not matter what mistakes we may have committed or what trouble we may have brought on ourselves and others out of ignorance; if we surrender ourselves completely to the Lord of Love who is always present in the depths of our consciousness, we will discover that these mistakes never touched us. We can throw away the ugly ego mask at last if we will turn our face to the Lord, take to meditation, and do everything possible to bring peace and security to our world."


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My road to a Pranayama Practice

6 months in. 5 days a week. Lying down over my blankets every morning, even if I fall asleep.

Something changed yesterday, a glimmer of hope!  I felt energized after pranayama.  Typically it's just me gasping (or so it feels like) for air.  Today was the opposite, I rolled over feeling fatigue in my body and anxious in my belly and mind. I have been so surprised at how the practice of breathing can have such a profound effect. Just the act of being silent can either send me into a deep meditative state or make my skin crawl, the need to escape. 

Speaking of needing to escape......

That's something I'm really good at. I dig myself a deep hole, crawl into it, bring everybody with me, then that's when I make my escape. 

With this practice of pranayama there is no escape. You are with you and only you. The deepest parts if you come to the surface, wether or not you want them to.

I'll keep going even after days like today. Abhyasa and Vairagya.  Keep saying it......

Friday, July 25, 2014

Little by little I'm getting to know me

Yesterday I was quite sad about this week ending. I even sad harsh words to someone I love deeply. Upon going to bed I thought,"When will this stop? At what point will my words reflect what is going on inside?"  I guess it's my decision. Patricia said this week one of the hardest things to do is make a decision. It's true. We wake up everyday with amazing an opportunity to make our life what we want. 

I woke up this morning realizing I'm no longer sad about this intensive ending. Patricia Walden is a unique teacher who helps you realize we have all the tools we need to progress in this Art of Yoga. Discipline, compassion, humor, sensitivity, and determination. We know what texts to study, what poses to practice, how to be careful when attempting pranayama.  Below is one of the slokas from the Gita we discussed. It stuck with me because my relationship with my yoga practice has had it's ups and downs. At times I've failed, at times I just wanted to quit. There always seems to be something that pulls me in deeper,something inside longing to change.  

Bhagavad Gita 6:23-25
The practice of meditation frees one from all affliction. This is the path of yoga. Follow it with enthusiasm. Renouncing wholeheartedly all selfish desires and expectations, use your will to control the senses. Little by little, through patience and repeated effort, the mind will become stilled in the Self.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fell off the wagon, how do I get back on?

Sometimes we say we are busy. What are we busy doing? Our minds get distracted. It is quiet moments like this that I savor. Then, voila! I pick up the sutras and get back on the ride of life.

Friday, May 16, 2014


This past weekend myself and many others were fortunate to study with Devki Desai.  In my humble opinion, she encompasses all that one should to share not only the teachings of the Iyengar family, but the Art of Yoga as a whole. We were all challenged physically, mentally, spiritually, rhythmically, and at the close of the last session we were left with a sense of calmness and balance.
This was her message this weekend,  to combine the physical and mental aspects of Yoga to cultivate a life of balance, Equanimaty.  Devki led us through a sequence given to students in Russia a few years ago by Guruji.  The sequence began with supported poses to reduce anxiety and despression in all of us.  Then she took us through more stabalizing poses that included seated postures that lent to length in the spine, stability, and maturity in standing poses. Then on to  pretty intense abdominal work, supported backbends and inversions to extend more intelligence to the sense of stability in our bodies and minds.
The last session is what I would call the "exorcisism" sequence.  It felt like I was right back at the Institute in Pune, India.  Devki explained that once a student with anxiety or despression or even  extreme stress gained a sense of relief and stability, the student should move and break up the rigidity. This last sequence was full of jumpings,  handstand variations, headstands, backward extensions, another handstand (which felt sooooo light!) then supported inversions and a long savasana.  The 3 hours of intense work require students to be aware,  alert, and most of all mature.  I would say 3 years ago I would have injured myself because of my ego being bruised that I could not do everything.  Now I find that I feel my body and mind are strong enough for the challenge, whether or not I am successful in the posture itself. I don't really mind that I have a ways to go in my practice.  It gives me something to look forward to, watching how Devki, 20 years older than me moves with a sense of freedom and joy and most of all love.
Dana and I with our beautiful teacher after the wedding Puja.
The Alter for the wedding Puja.
Look! Even Robert came!

Monday, May 5, 2014


I am realizing time is just a thing. 

A funny thing that there is just not enough of some days. 

Time needed to write, to play, to learn. 

Does anyone know where I can buy some......

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Snow-day Study

I am taking this snow morning opportunity to do some studying for my Junior I assessment.
Typically I would have already walked my dogs for an hour, but today we are all suggled up on the couch with blankets, books, and this computer.  It is really nice.

As I sit here now, thinking about the last month or so of living life,  I am reminded how hard I have been on myself to be something, to achieve something, to finish my lists, and how extremely stressed and burnt out this has left me.  Almost to the point where I want to lay down and not go anywhere for a few days. A little depressed. A little mad at myself. All wrapped up in a package that must still go out into the world and be nice to others. Yes, this is dramatic, but it is how I felt. I know we all have these days and we all get through them.  We also have different ways of moving past these hard thoughts, but it is what is on the other side that is important.  Being able to get to that other side stronger, more focused, and more gentle on yourself.

I will keep this short and sweet today. On this snowy day of moisture, renewal, and rest I am reminded of what a wise friend wrote to me last week. Here it is:

"It is spring, Mother Earth is renewing and replenishing you daily.  Feel her supportive and healing warmth.  Witness her uplifting and encouraging Vibrancy.  Experience her loving openness. Feel her presence. Feel better."

  When I was at my limit of how much I could physically and mentally do last week, on the verge of tears and so unsure of myself and everything I was doing, these words kept me going.

Thank-you friend.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What I wanted to say, asmita, and my big ole' ego.

This past weekend was teacher training.  I was asked to present on Kriya Yoga, the yoga of action, for 5 minutes.  I began by reading up a week ahead of time and prepared the entire week for this 5 minutes.  With white board and journal in hand I did it.....well, sort of. My body shook, I think I had some hives on my chest and I couldn't even look at my peers until the end when I finally started to relax. My ego and pride, asmita were shrunk down to nothing. Then when I was asked a question, that I even wrote down the answer to, I froze, looking something like Wilson. I was stripped down to the core. Maybe I am dramatizing it for the sake of readers, but that is what it felt like, really.

There is the strange thing that happens to me when I get in front of a group of people and I am asked to speak on philosophy,  something personal,  or even when sharing what yoga has done for me.  Crying commences. I am not sure anymore if this is a sign that I lack emotional and spiritual intelligence (this is defined as avidya or the seat of all klesas, obstacles) or if this is a sign that I just have more tears that need to escape than most people.

I may have actually over prepared for this.  I googled, I binged, I facebooked, I tweeted, I read the Sutras, the Gita, Light on Yoga, Autobiography of a Yogi and I really just found the same thing.  If we are following the path of yoga, whether it is by the Astanga Yoga of Patanjali, or the Science of Kriya Yoga  and the Path of Kriya Yoga ( both of these latter two are known as the path that Mahavatar Babaji reintroduced after it was lost for centuries) then we will eventually know the freedom that comes from liberating ourselves from  the Obstacles of life, klesas.

What I found most interesting is they both have creative ways of saying the same thing. Follow a path that encompasses Tapas (fire, determination), Svadhyaya (study of scriptures and study of the Self/self), and Isvara Pranidhana (faith and surrender to the higher power) and you will be free! In Light on the Yoga Sutras, Guruji explains, "When these three aspects of Kriya Yoga are followed with zeal and earnestness life's sufferings are overcome, and Samadhi is experienced." The Kriya Yoga Path of Meditation website says this,  "Correct practice of Kriya Yoga enables the normal activities of the heart and lungs and nervous system to slow down naturally, producing deep inner stillness of body and mind and freeing the attention from the usual turbulence of thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions. In the clarity of that inner stillness, one comes to experience a deepening interior peace and attunement with one's soul and with God."

In fact they are saying the same thing, be good to society and yourself, have some respect for the law of Karma.  Incorporate a spiritual practice of asana, pranayama.  After this first tier, detach yourself from the everyday vrittis (fluctuations that happen in our mind) and from some of the modern day crap that steals our souls like social media, internet shopping, and reality tv shows with Gordan Ramsey. (Just kidding , I'm obsessed with any cooking shows, so those can stay) After detaching, learn to concentrate, slow down some more, then meditate. Now we can truly see that stripped down Self we have been longing to see.

I will leave you with what I wrote as a synopsis, only because I think it is what this path of Kriya Yoga has really done for me.

-Practicing this path of Yoga does not mean that all life's problems disappear forever.  It just means you learn tools to help you through those times when it seems all you have are obstacles.  By facing these obstacles and fears head on, one by one, you are lead to be more open, or as one of my teachers likes to say, Radically open, to new ideas, people, experiences, not lead anymore by your fears. You now have the wisdom, the humility, and the discipline so you can  be lead by your curiosities and passions.-

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sutra II.46 and a sequence to practice

II.46 sthira sukham asanam

*Asana is perfect firmness of the body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit.

This week I taught backbending asanas for all different levels of practitioners and all types of bodies.  From a young and flexible 23 year old to a 77 year old who is eager and wants to gain flexibility. I find that teaching these type of asanas not only requires effort and patience of the student, but also compassion and observation of the teacher.  It is so important as a teacher that I notice the small things like the color of skin, pattern of breath, and even the eyes, are they tense or soft.  It is also on the student to make sure they are listening to instructions I give, but also to their own bodies.

In Light on the Yoga Sutras,  Guruji explains that sutra II.46 does not just mean you feel comfy in a pose, but to develop discipline to move the student to a more refined pose. An asana that penetrates to the core of ones being. I have not yet seen this state in completion but I feel in certain poses I am moving towards this steadiness, this sattvic or illumined state.  It does not come without hard work, dedication and the "twin disciplines", abyasa and vairagya. (see sutra I.16-LOYS)

Here is the sequence from last Tuesday nights level 2 class at IYCD.  Make sure to listen to your breath, your body, do not sell your self short either. There is that fine line of pushing to your physical limit and pushing past it.  Guruji explains it like this, "Asanas should be performed without creating aggressiveness in the muscle spindles or the skin cells. Space must be created between muscle and skin so that the skin receives the actions of the muscles, joints and ligaments."

Adho Mukha Svanasana-emphasis on moving thoracic spine in, not just thoracic, but bottom tips of the shoulder blades in in in
Tadasana with shoulder openers-baddhanguliasana, gomukhasana, paschima namaskarasana
Ardha Chandrasana
Uttanasana xs 3 moving towards final pose
Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana-from hands on the floor, lifting each leg 3 times to get the leg higher
-full pose 2nd time, then a 3rd time making sure to keep hips level
Vimanasana to Virabhadrasana III with the chair first, moving to final pose in the middle of the room
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Adho Mukha Vrksasana-hands turned out
Pincha Mayurasana-against the wall with brick and belt
Quad opener at the wall-xs 2
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana with the chair-use rolled sticky mat down the length of spine
Urdhva Dhanurasana-from the chair, hands on the floor or baseboard
Urdhva Dhanurasana-from the floor, hands on rolled sticky mat, roll those triceps in!
Adha Mukha Svanasana-with chair at the wall
Savasana with calves in the seat of the chair-10 minutes

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sutra III.9-Silence is Golden

The last few weeks I have started to prepare for my Junior 1 assessment in the Iyengar method.  I have friends who teach in other methods who practice other methods and they may ask why I do these tests, these assessments. Why does a yoga method even have tests?  It seems to go against yoga as a whole, being judged, being told if you are a good teacher or not, being tested to see if you have really studied the sutras.  This is not my first rodeo in the assessment arena.

In 2008 I began the Iyengar Teacher Training in Denver. In 2009 I thought I was ready to take the Intro I exam,  on the way to Boulder for the actual test, I was rear ended at 60 mph and was not able to go to the Friday portion. For some reason, I thought (my ego)it was a good idea to try to do the teaching skills, with a concussion, whiplash, and severe anxiety. I did it, I failed. I took this as a sign, I took the rest of 2009 and 2010 off and got married, enjoyed life a little and came back in 2011 & 2012 to do Intro I and II and pass.  It was not really until that time that I realized how I had not really been listening at all.  To my body, my teachers, and most importantly to the quiet in betweens of my thoughts.

For Junior I, the required Sutras are all of Pada I, II, and half of III. In the study group I am in we are starting with Pada III since it seems to be the most esoteric in nature, hardest to understand without some discussion.  It took me a couple weeks after meeting with them to really get this sutra.

Sutra III.9
Study the silent moments between rising and restraining subliminal impressions is the transformation of consciousness towards restraint.

Transformation by restraint of consciousness is achieved by study of the silent moments that occur between the rising of impressions and our impulse to restrain them,  and between the restraining impulse and the resurgence of thought.

-BKS Iyengar Light on the Yoga Sutras-

To me this sutra defines what most of us go through on a daily basis.  We let our thoughts and the samskaras (past impressions left on our mind by an experience) take a hold and push us around.  In yoga we talk about cutting ourselves off from external objects, or pratyahara, things like sounds, smells, pain in our bodies, other people, but as we delve deeper into ourselves, it is so much more.  We all have inner pain, things that make us do things that we think we have no control over.

We are intrinsically designed to have the samskaras, but can we begin to change our reactions as these come up?

I will use my fear of Volleyball as an example.  From such a young age I have really hated volleyball. I am not only scared of the ball itself, getting a jammed finger or hitting me in the face (it really happened!) But I am scared of getting yelled at, letting team mates down, having someone tell me that they wished I had not been on there team because I really suck, (it also happened). So pretty much whenever I am walking my dogs at the park near my house and I see that sea of volleyball nets and people laughing and having fun, my body and mind seize up. I almost loose control of my thoughts at that moment just from the fear of getting hit and yelled at. Even when people just talk about it, saying, "Hey that would be fun, let's get a team together..." I just think to myself, "They are crazy, volleyball is so dangerous, no way people..."

If I would just listen to the quiet in betweens of these thoughts......listen to what I am really thinking.
"OH that might be fun if someone taught me how to play, it might be fun to come out with the dogs on a nice day, get some exercise,  those people look so happy, they are having fun, maybe I could really have fun if I gave it another try..." These are my in betweens, the silent parts of my brain that until recently stayed very quiet.  If I would just stop these negative thoughts, stayed still for more than a minute, I may have some good thoughts towards volleyball, skydiving, kickball, or anything else I am totally freaked out by.

Why again do I keep on doing these assessments, these things that make me nervous, doubt myself?  I do these assessments not to gain a title.  I do them to push my own boundaries of what I can learn, I do them to open my mind to new thoughts, teachings, and ways to do things.  They make you really look at yourself, look at your actions, your words, and more than anything, to enjoy these moments where the mind is still, or still-er,  where you can actually connect to your body and mind.

*Today take a few minutes and sit still. Each time you do this, do it a little longer. No noise, no people around you. No phone, no computer. Listen, really listen. What thoughts come up for you?  What emotion is brought up from those thoughts? Now, can you let go of that emotion, good or bad,  for a moment and just be?

Guruji says that "Just as one feels refreshed after a sound sleep, the seer's consciousness is refreshed as he utilizes this prolonged pause for rejuvenation and recuperation. But at first, it is difficult to educate the consciousness to restrain each rising thought. ......To transform the consciousness into a pure sattvic state (light-pure radiant light) of dynamic salience, we must learn by repeated effort to prolong the intermissions. If no impressions are allowed to intervene, the consciousness will remain fresh and rest in its own abode." -Light on the Yoga Sutras-


Saturday, January 18, 2014

My mind is radically open-actually it is percolating!

Happy New Year in mid-January!

This weekend we have senior teacher Carolyn Belko at the studio.  She is not only pushing our boundaries, but teaching us to do something different in the asana practice. She is asking us to let go of the 22 points we all know about Trikonasana and saying to feel the pose, let it percolate within you.  Very Prashant in a tiny lady body.

Last nights sequence was right out of one of those Pune classes I am sure.  It was crazy.  We did handstand at 3 intervals,  did twists,  parighasana, ustrasana,  anatasana, chaturanga.  I really thought my arms were going to fail me, but the did not.  I really thought I was going to sweat so much I would fall out of Sirsasana, I almost did, but caught myself. 

She is encouraging, firm, and can see everything.  Maybe in another life she was an Iyengar:-)

Till this afternoon.........