Friends on a similar journey. The power of community. We talked over and over during the past month in my Shiva Yoga 200hr Teacher Training program about holding space for each other, supporting each other, being respectful and kind, and creating a sacred space where we all could feel vulnerable and work outside of our comfort zone. This group did such a great job holding space for each other. It was incredible! And we got to go very deep and get a lot accomplished. How quickly can you move past your fear and resistance and go towards the discomfort? I learned a lot from everyone and together we created a space where everyone felt comfortable enough to take a look at the yoga mirror and all the things that were being brought to the surface. It’s not an easy journey. It’s hard to look at the things that you are doing that are holding you back and all the ways you are avoiding things. Proud of these yogis for taking the journey. Digging in and taking a closer look at themselves.Read More
Surrender. Let go. Turn inward.
Forward folding poses in yoga are cooling, calming, and they help us to surrender and go inward.
But why would you want to take the journey inward to experience the true Nature of your Self?
Leading the Opening Ritual in one of our Shiva Power classes here at Baja Soul Yoga. I always teach my students to check in at the beginning of class. Before you set off on any journey you have to know where you are starting from. What’s your entry way into this practice? How does your body feel right now? Check in. How are you out of balance? Set up a baseline. How does your body feel? Observe your breath. What’s the state of your mind right now? If you check in at the beginning of your practice, you can compare this to when you check in at the end of the practice. What’s different? What’s shifted? What’s changed? Are you closer to balance? Is your breath flowing more evenly? Do you feel lighter? Is your mind quieter? Do you feel a deeper connection to your Self? Yoga practice is about personal transformation. It’s not dogmatic. It’s not about someone else telling you how you should feel.Read More
Take a journey to the center of your Self! Walk to the center of your wheel. Yoga is a shift of perspective. The ego says, ‘I want the world to change for me!’ Yoga says, ‘change yourself and your relationship to the world will change too.’ What’s left over when you peel off the layers and let go of your body, mind, thoughts, ego, and emotions? What’s left over in the stillness, in the silence? What does at feel like to sit at the center of the wheel? Look at all the drama, all the noise, all the thoughts, way out at the outer edges. What’s left over in the stillness and the silence? You. The most subtle aspect of who you are. Sit in the center of your Self. Look at your thoughts. Look at your mind. Experience the true nature of your Self.Read More
When you take the journey inward and experience your inner Light — Love, kindness, and compassion, flows out of you to those around you. You ask, “How can I be of service” “How can I help?” “How can I make the world a better place?” We could say another name for the ‘pure consciousness’ within us is ‘love’. Not the kind of love that is selfish and asks, “What’s in it for me?” The kind of love that says, “I want to help.” “I don’t want anything in return.” “I want to be of service.” It’s time for us to shift our perspective. More compassion and kindness. Less judgment and criticism. How could you practice more kindness in your life right now? How are you going to be of service today? How are you going to make the world a better place? Instead of looking at the world and thinking, “What’s in it for me?” — what if you looked at the world instead thinking, “What can I offer?” “How can I help?”Read More
Morning selfie with some of my students, arriving early for training! We are 2 weeks in! Leading these programs is transformational for me as well as the students. It’s an exhausting experience for all of us. My goal is to push them out of their comfort zone, hold space for them, encourage them to grow and challenge themselves. In the process, I am also pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I am challenging myself, and they are pushing me and helping me to grow too. We are in the fire together, breathing into it, surrendering to the experience. It’s a beautiful ride! It’s a beautiful journey! Namaste.
Get off the roller coaster! Peace of mind doesn’t come from looking out. Happiness in the world is fleeting. Satisfaction is short lived. The yogis know that lasting peace comes from looking within. When you experience your Self in the stillness, when the mind is quiet, then you don’t want to go anywhere or do anything else. You are content, happy, right here, right now. You feel love and compassion for others and a connection to everything and everyone. Get off the roller coaster. Take the journey inward. Find peace.Read More
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.Read More
I suggested to two of my students this morning that I thought they might be ready for a more advanced variation of the pose they were doing. These two students both come to class regularly and are always working hard in their practice. And they are both making a lot of progress too. They just keep showing up and doing the work. Neither one is that concerned about the results of their practice. They are living examples of that old saying: Just chop wood and carry water.Read More
The journey is into the fire, and through the fire.
Yoga is not about rainbows and unicorns! It's supposed to be challenging. It involves looking at darkness and the darker parts of ourselves on our journey towards the light. You can't by-pass this work. This work is your yoga practice!
Take your journey into the fire and look at yourself. It's going to get hot. It's going to get uncomfortable. It's supposed to be uncomfortable!Read More
The Peacock is a symbol in yoga of Sattva, which means light, clarity, illumination. The reason the Peacock is a symbol for Sattva is because of its feathers. When the peacock opens its feathers it looks like a thousand eyes are looking at you. These eyes symbolize the light moving through you from within and your awakening. The Peacock pose is a great example of how hard it is to achieve this state of Sattva too. It requires a tremendous amount of strength and flexibility, and a tremendous amount of balance.Read More
This past week I've been talking a lot in class about taking the journey to the center of your Self. This is really the journey we are taking in our yoga practice.
Do you know those wheels on the playground, or in a park? The ones for kids to play on, or that you used to play on when you were a kid? You get on the wheel and someone spins it and you are flying around on the wheel with the other kids. It's fun! It's exciting. There's lots of drama. Sometimes it's scary. You're out of your comfort zone.Read More
Yoga Is the Journey to the Center of Your Wheel
So much of our practice is about getting to a place where there is more peace and calm, a place where we can be of service to others, a place where we can hold space for others, a place where we can support each other, a place where we can empathize and have compassion for each other and a place where we can love each other.
I’ve been talking a lot in class about how the practice is like one of those children’s wheels in the park that spins around. The children laugh and scream, holding on tightly, as the wheel spins faster and faster.Read More
The past few days in class I’ve been talking about jnana and cin mudra, two mudras that we use a lot in our practice. Jnana mudra and cin mudra are very similar, both consisting of bringing the index finger and thumb together. These mudras are most commonly used during meditation practices.
Jnana means knowledge. When the index finger and thumb are placed together and the hands are placed facing down on the knees this is called Jnana mudra. Cin means consciousness. When the index finger and thumb are placed together and the hands are placed facing up on the knees (or thighs) this is called cin mudra.
One of the ways to remember these two mudras is to think of knowledge as coming from below, from the world around you and from other people in the world -- and to think of wisdom coming from above, from inside of you, from the pure consciousness part of yourself.
My teacher Dharma Mittra always says, “you have to contemplate the knowledge you are learning.”
It is in contemplation that we receive wisdom and our understanding of things we are learning deepens. If you never contemplate the knowledge you are learning then you never gain a deeper understanding. Things just go in one ear and out the other. Where does the deeper understanding come from? You didn't gain any more knowledge during your contemplation. Nobody told you anything new. When you go inside you tap into Universal intelligence. Wisdom and greater understanding of things comes from within and flows through you.
One of my teachers used to say, "You don't have thoughts, thoughts have you!".
The little finger, ring finger and middle finger in jnana and cin mudra represent the 3 constituents of Nature. In yoga we call these the 3 Gunas. They are: tamas (stillness), rajas (movement) and sattva (illumination). The index finger represents the individual self and the thumb represents the Universe.
These 2 mudras symbolically represent our journey beyond the 3 gunas and the uniting of our individual self with the Universe. This is what we are trying to achieve in yoga and in meditation. In my practice I want to let go of the world and the distractions of my mind and bring my individual self into alignment with the Universe.
Jnana and cin mudra are primarily used in seated mediation practices but you can also find them in other asanas throughout your practice.Read More
Yogis! The journey of yoga is the Om! First there is nothing. Heaviness. Stillness. Ignorance. Tamas. Then vibration, movement, activity, leading us into the fire. Rajas. Mmmmmmmmm. Sound. Movement. The roar of Joy! Ooooooooooooooooo! Now we're in it. Into the fire we go! Don't fight it. Don't close off. Don't contract. Surrender. Surrender into the fire! Ooooooooooooooo! Open your heart. Let it flow through you. Feel the expansion. You are in perfect balance. You are embodied consciousness. Move with skill in action. The power of the Universe is moving through you. Oooooooooooooo!!! Surrender. Let go. Go inward. Surrender into the fire. Oooommmmmmmmmmmmm! Stillness. Silence. Listen to the sound of the silence. Peace. Calm. Light. Illumination. Sattva. Stillness but with awareness. Pure consciousness. Who am I? What's my purpose? What's the true nature of the Self? All of the answers. In the stillness. The journey to the other side of the Om. Self realization. The realization of the Self. The experience of the Self. In the stillness what's left? No ego. No mind. No thoughts. No body. No world. Just awareness. The awareness of awareness. Pure awareness. In the stillness are all of your answers. You have to take the journey, though. The journey of the Om. You have to take YOUR journey. No one else can take it for you. You can't use someone else's map to find your destination. You have to go into your OWN fire. You have to create your OWN map. Surrender. Go inward. Find stillness. Listen. And reconnect with your Self. It's not a journey to connect with your Self. You're going home. Oooommmmmmmmmm! You've already been there. There actually is no there. There's nowhere to go. You're already there. You're already HERE. The destination is the journey. The journey is Om!Read More