If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.

If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.

One of the things I love about teaching with a translator is how it slows everything down.
Slowly moving with the breath is really where it’s at in a flowing practice. If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.
Let the breath lead the movement and let the breath wrap around the movement. The breath starts and then the movement starts. The movement finishes and then the breath finishes. This way there’s always going to be pauses. There’s always going to be control. Who’s driving your car? You are. Enjoy the dance between the movement and the stillness. Holding these opposites at the same time is the paradox that allows us to have a deeper, transformational experience. Concentrate but also surrender.
Practicing a slow flow that is connected to the breath will help you stay calm and keep you out of the default network of your brain - where it will be hard for you to not react and get caught up in everything that is coming up for you and just trying to process. Think of the four parts of the breath. There’s a little moment of stillness where the inhale meets the exhale, and another little moment of stillness where the exhale meets the inhale.
I love flowing with my students! I always practice a little bit with my students in every class. I find it helps me to connect with the group energy. I also think it reminds the students that I’m just walking the path with them. I’m not on a pedestal. I don’t want to be on a pedestal. We are all just walking home together.

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Who Am I? What's the True Nature of the Self?

Who Am I?  What's the True Nature of the Self?

Dharma talk before class in our Shiva Yoga 200hr Teacher Training Program — meditation and the technology of concentration, meditation and Samadhi.

Learn to ride your horse to the destination. Yoga answers the question — Who am I? What’s the true nature of the Self? Quiet your mind and in stillness experience the true nature of your Self.

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Yoga is a contradiction!

Yoga is a contradiction!

Yoga is a contradiction. It is two opposites coming together. It is movement and stillness. It is concentration and surrender, at the same time. Yoga is a journey from darkness to light. The journey leads you back to right here and right now. Yoga is stillness and movement, coming together. Yoga is the journey to the center of your Self, over and over again. Yoga says make an effort, to surrender and let go. It is the space between the breath, between this and that, where there is no inhale or exhale, no up or down, no left or right. Yoga is the journey towards the light, and the realization that you are the light. It is the realization that you are the wave in the ocean, and you are the ocean. Yoga is a contradiction.

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The Technology of Yoga!

The Technology of Yoga!

The technology of yoga is simple! It doesn't have anything to do with asana. You can be on your mat practicing yoga or off your mat practicing yoga. You can also be on your mat not practicing yoga or off your mat not practicing yoga. It's up to you to use the technology or not.

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What is meditation?

What is meditation?

What is meditation?

This was the first question that I asked in my meditation workshop this past weekend. 

Most of us have heard the word meditation.  You might have a vague understanding of what meditation involves.  I think most people know that meditation is something to do with sitting in stillness for a long period of time.   In order to develop a deeper understanding of this ancient technology it's important that we understand specifics of the practice.  What is the goal of meditation?  Where are we headed in our practice?  What are the tools that use in our practice? 

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What is Samadhi?

What is Samadhi?

Yogis!  What is Samadhi?  What is this deepest state of meditation?  It starts with concentration.  Concentration on one object.  Hold your focus on that one object.  You don't choose to meditate.  Meditation happens.  Meditation is sustained concentration.  The longer you hold your focus on your object of concentration, the more your mind will try to distract you.  A tremendous battle is going on inside you when you choose to concentrate on one object.  It's you against your mind.  You want to concentrate and your mind wants to distract you.  Hold your focus.  It's going to get intense.  Let it get intense.  Let the fire build.  Go towards the fire.  Surrender into the fire.  Don't fight with yourself.  Surrender.  This is what leads you to meditation.  

Concentration is sometimes described as looking at a very close up picture of water being poured into a bucket.  It doesn't actually flow in continuous stream.  When you look closely you see the individual drops of water.  This is like when we are concentrating on an object.  The individual thought is repeating over and over again.  The same thought.  It's like if I am concentrating on a candle flame, my mind is registering the thought "candle flame" and then immediately the next thought is "candle flame" and then the next thought is "candle flame".  Over and over again.  Candle flame, candle flame, candle flame, candle flame...etc.  This is concentration, these thoughts are the individual drops of water.  When your concentration becomes meditation it is often described as a steady stream.  Now it's like you are pouring oil into the bucket instead of water.  Even if you looked at a very close up picture of the oil it wouldn't be separated like the individual drops of water.  There's no individual drops of oil.  The oil pours in one steady stream.  Candle flame, candle flame, candle flame becomes

"Caaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnndddddddlllllllllffffffllllllaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmeeeeeee".  

When you are able to hold your concentration long enough that it turns into meditation and then you continue to bring the opposites together, concentrating on your object and surrendering towards that object, you eventually lose a sense of yourself and reach a state where there is no separation between subject and object, no separation between you and your object of concentration.  There's no thought of concentrating on the candle flame.  There's no awareness of yourself and the candle flame.  There's only the candle flame.  This is Samadhi.  The deepest state of meditation.  You've merged with the object of concentration.  There's no ego, no mind, no thoughts, no body, no outer world.  There's just the object and pure awareness of the object.  Think about that.  In Samadhi you lose your sense of your ego.  The mind is quiet.  There's no you.  In Samadhi there's an instant realization, though, that there is something beyond the body, mind, thoughts and ego.  You're not there.  But YOU are there.  The pure consciousness part of YOU is there.  There's the object and your awareness.  That's it.  Self realization.  The realization that in the stillness I'm still here, witnessing, experiencing the stillness.  It's like there's no phone anymore.  Just the signal.  You're not the phone.  You're the signal.  

Samadhi is often described as the container that is pouring the oil just tipped over and fell into the bucket.  Subject and object merge.  You become the candle flame.  

Now, what happens after Samadhi?  What's that famous quote:  "So, you've reached enlightenment.  Now, it's time to go do the laundry." Well, you come out of it but you're different.  You found yourself.  No matter how much you get distracted and caught up in the noise now, you know you always have a way back in.  And the process starts all over again.  You practice taking the journey again and again until you realize you can be taking the journey every moment.  You ARE taking the journey every moment.  Samadhi is really the journey to Samadhi.  Over and over again.  It's the journey, NOT the destination.  The journey is WHO YOU ARE.  The journey you are on is who you are!  

We contract.  We expand.  Inhale and exhale.  Over and over again.  Concentrate, water becomes oil, go into the fire, fall into the bucket, lose yourself.  Reconnect.  Now, find yourself and do it all over again.  Take the journey!  

And don't forget to go do the laundry! :) 

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Hold two opposites together and let your consciousness expand!

Hold two opposites together and let your consciousness expand!

Yogis!  One of the things we talked a lot about on our recent retreat in Tulum was the idea of holding two opposites together in our yoga practice and what happens when we hold these two opposites long enough.  This concept is told in so many different ways and in so many different yoga traditions and practices.  Patanjali talks about tapas and surrender.  Go into the fire and while in the fire practice surrendering.  When you close off and contract you create suffering.  When you open up and expand you increase your awareness.  Karma Yoga from the Bhagavad Gita tells us to move with skill in action.  This is like saying bring movement and stillness together.  Yoga is an active practice.  You have to show up. 

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Savasana, Sense Withdrawal, Taking the Mind Inward.

Savasana, Sense Withdrawal, Taking the Mind Inward.

It’s one of the most important poses in a yoga class and often one of the most misunderstood poses.  The Final Resting Pose.  Savasana.  

My teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra, includes savasana in the category of the eight essential poses in yoga.  Dharma is well known throughout the world for being a master teacher and having created the asana chart, which hangs on many studio’s walls, featuring Dharma in 908 asanas.  According to Dharma, though, there are just eight ESSENTIAL poses: Head Balance, Shoulder Stand, Fish Pose, Lotus Pose, Cobra Pose, Seated Forward Fold, Seated Twist and The Final Resting Pose.   

How does the final resting pose make this list?  What is this final resting pose all about and why is it so important?  

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