4 Main reasons for doing Sun Salutations.

4 Main reasons for doing Sun Salutations.

I taught a big Sun Salutation practice this morning at the Zhejiang Yoga Cultural Festival. Good attendance! It was very early in the morning and a little cold. But we persevered.
Sun Salutations have been practiced by yogis for thousands of years. When we practice them we are walking in the footsteps of our teachers and their teachers.
We practice sun salutations for four main reasons in yoga.
1. They help to quickly warm the body up.
2. They help to balance the nervous system and are a great preparation for meditation, or can be used as a meditation themselves.
3. They help us connect the idea of the brightest thing in our world with the brightest and lightest part of ourselves.
4. They are a gratitude practice. Each day, try to start the day practicing gratitude. Shift your perspective. Try to be grateful for the day, for this moment right here and right now. Practicing gratitude helps you open your mind and open your heart.
Enjoy this beautiful day!!! Namaste! Thank you, everyone for practicing with me this morning!

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Sun Salutation Workshop!

Sun Salutation Workshop!

Sun Salutation Workshop with my students in Qingdao! Breaking down Sun Salutation 1. This Sun Salutation is often associated with Hatha Yoga and it’s not as popular as it used to be. It’s a traditional Sun Salutation with 12 positions, making it perfect for the Vedic Sun Salutation chant. I love this Sun Salutation and practice it daily. Grateful to my teacher, Dharma Mittra for showing me this sequence and teaching me the traditional variation as well. Grateful to my teacher, Mr. Ramaswami for teaching me the Sun Salutation chant. The Sun is the brightest and lightest thing in our world. It is a symbol of the brightest and lightest part of ourselves, which we sometimes call our inner light.

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It's all unfolding perfectly.

It's all unfolding perfectly.

Our last day of practice together at Kula Yoga this past weekend! Shiva Yoga® Maha Sadhana — honoring our teachers and celebrating our practice. Lots of partner yoga! What a fun afternoon and way to end a long weekend of practice together. Everybody was tired and sore and still brought such a positive attitude and still practiced really hard. So grateful to this group! I find I rarely am feeling “perfect” when I get on my mat. Something is always sore and I’m often tired. Yoga has taught me to show up anyway and do my best. You can move from darkness to light. It’s just a choice. The conditions will never be perfect. Just show up anyway and do your best and don’t worry about the results. Just breathe into whatever comes your way. And have faith that it’s all unfolding perfectly.

 

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Sun Salutations.

Sun Salutations.

The Sun Salutations are a big part of yoga. The Sun is another symbol of our inner Light. We connect the idea of the lightest and brightest thing in our world with the lightest and brightest (and most subtle) aspect of who we are.

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What has your yoga practice helped you learn about yourself?

What has your yoga practice helped you learn about yourself?

Practicing in a Hindu temple, deep in the jungle, in Bali!

What has your yoga practice helped you learn about yourself? What has been revealed? What dark part of you did yoga help you shine some light on? What part of you has been disconnected? 

You are the doctor and the patient! 

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Shine the Light on Yourself

Shine the Light on Yourself

When we are identifying with the ego we often judge others very harshly.  We place expectations on people.  We hold the world up to a very high standard and we punish those who don't meet that standard.  The irony is that, when we are doing this, we often don't hold ourselves up to the same standard.  When we identify with the ego, we want everyone else to change, and the world to change around us.  We don't want to change ourselves at all, yet, often, we are the ones who need to change the most. When we are filled with judgment of others, we aren't really very far along on our path.  Shine the light on yourself.  Change yourself and your relationship to the world.  If you find yourself judging and criticizing other people, know that this is not helping you on your journey.  You're not only NOT helping the people you are judging, who would benefit far more from your compassion and kindness, but you aren't helping YOURSELF either.

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The Light In Me Recognizes The Light In You

The Light In Me Recognizes The Light In You

I'm staying in this Airbnb apartment, here, in Shanghai.  There is this sweet, little, old lady, who lives in the building.  Her daughter, or granddaughter, has been taking her out for a walk each day, and I've been running into them. They both give me such a nice smile when they see me.  When I practice my limited Chinese, and say things like, "Nihao" (hello), the old lady lights up, and grins from ear to ear.  These little moments of connection have really made each day so special.  So simple to just have an open heart and smile at a stranger and say hello.  Each day, when I leave from these exchanges I am grinning from ear to ear too.  The three of us have had a beautiful moment of connection.  It's the "namaste" connection.  The light in me recognizes the light in you, and it's the same.  Life is so beautiful.  So many incredible and meaningful moments. Grateful for each one!  Namaste.

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Focus on what matters

Focus on what matters

Yoga has taught me to hold my focus on what matters. There will always be distractions. There will always be people and things that cross your path that are challenging. Stay focused. Concentrate on what matters. There is so much noise. Don't get caught up in the noise. People who are connected to the most superficial aspects of themselves, and who are living a small life, will sometimes try to drag you down too. Don't let them!  Rise up and fly high.  Don't let anyone make you feel less than you are. This is your time to shine!  Let yourself shine so brightly that you help others to see the light. This is your time! 

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Slow Down. Find Stillness. Turn Inward.

Slow Down.  Find Stillness.  Turn Inward.

You’re on your motorcycle. You’re flying along. You’ve got no lights, though. You can’t see where you’re going. And, you’ve got not brakes. You can’t slow down and you can’t stop.

You’re flying down the mountain on a winding path and it’s starting to get dark. You’ve got no lights. You’ve got no brakes. You can’t slow down.

Up ahead, on the path, is a yogi. He’s slowly walking down the mountain. He’s got a light. He’s using his light to see where he’s going. He hears this commotion coming down the path behind him. He stops walking, turns, and sees you, out of control, flying down the mountain, on your motorcycle.

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The Journey from darkness into the light.

The Journey from darkness into the light.

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.

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A New President.

A New President.

Well, here we are...

It's been a pretty crazy election year. I was genuinely shocked last night to see the results come in.

I have tried to not get that caught up in the election this past year but I have followed it and have wanted to stay informed. I did not think Donald Trump would win at all. I thought it would be close. I thought it was a huge wake up call for all of us. I thought there is no way that he has a chance to win, though. I thought the candidacy started as a joke. It was a train wreck. It was outrageous. Then there was a point where it stopped being funny and it made me sad.
So, now what? What do we do now?

Well, it happened. Yes. This has happened. Yes. Donald Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States of America.

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Samkhya Philosophy - Tamas, Rajas & Sattva

Samkhya Philosophy - Tamas, Rajas & Sattva

I’ve been talking a lot in class this past week about how Samkhya philosophy informs our yoga practice.  

Samkhya philosophy is all about numbers.  This philosophy is very mathematical and very scientific in how it views the world. 

According to Samkhya philosophy -- the world is divided into two things:  Consciousness and Nature. 

Samkhya calls these two things the Purusha (consciousness) and Prakrti (Nature).  It’s important that we understand this because it informs Classical Yoga (the yoga of Patanjali) and our practice of going inward and quieting the mind in meditation, using the tool of Samadhi to achieve deeper states of meditation, and all of the Astanga Yoga preparation practices which encourage single pointed focus for this purpose. 

Why do we want to go inward?  Yoga and Samkya teach that it is in the stillness where you can experience the pure consciousness part of yourself, the light within you. 

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Namaste!

Namaste!

The sun is the lightest and brightest thing in our world.  One of the things we are working to do in yoga is to become lighter and brighter.  The ego and mind are constantly pulling us down.  It takes hard work to move out of the tamasic state of heaviness and sluggishness.  We must lift ourselves up and elevate ourselves, shifting our perspective away from the ego and the mind, attachment and aversion, and connecting with the part of ourselves that is pure consciousness, pure awareness.  That same pure awareness, that same pure consciousness, that same light that is in you is also in me.  That same light that is in us is in everyone. 

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Namaste!

Namaste!

Namaste, Yogis!

We were talking in class today about some common yoga terminology, words we use in yoga and what they mean.

What does "namaste" mean?

This is a traditional greeting.  It's often done with the hands at the heart in Anjali Mudra (a prayer like position), sometimes referred to as pranamasana, and a slight bow of the head.  The physicalty isn't necessary, though.  Sometimes you might just say, "namaste".  You could also do the physicality without saying the actual words and it would still mean the same thing.  I often touch my heart when I see a student and often they will do the same in return. Sort of the short form version of this greeting.

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Head Balance, Shoulder Stand, Meditation - The Journey Inward...

Head Balance, Shoulder Stand, Meditation - The Journey Inward...

We've been doing a lot of focus on Head Balance in class recently and using this asana to stimulate the energy at the sixth chakra, Agnia -- the Master Control. We want to stimulate this energy center to help encourage going inward. 

"My Guru taught that when you start seeing the light at the space between the eyebrows, that is the first sign that indicates the Sixth Sense (the Pituitary Gland) is awakening. This is the dawn of Divine Perception, the activation of the Psychic Telescope." -- Dharma Mittra

Concentration and meditation practices help us to stimulate this area and the Head Balance is one of the asanas that helps us to stimulate this area as well. 

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