This is your journey. This is your life.

This is your journey. This is your life.

We are all on this incredible journey, each one of us walking our path. The yogis say our journey is from darkness to light. Samkhya philosophy calls the darkness tamas and the light sattva. Tamas is the quality of stillness, heaviness, inertia — when your body feels stuck, heavy, lazy, and tired, and when your mind is dark, depressed, and you have a lot of confusion, and are living in ignorance. We go first from tamas through rajas before we reach sattva. Rajas is the quality of movement, fire, and intensity. You have to go into the fire. Your practice will be intense. It takes hard work. You are up against old, stuck energy, bad habits, and patterns in your mind that aren’t serving you. Breathe into the fire. Stand your ground. Stay calm and find stillness in the middle of the movement. It’s the balance of these first two qualities that will lead you to the light of sattva. Sattva is the quality of balance, a place where the body feels light and energetic, and the mind is focused but calm. This is the place where the light can flow through you. This is the place where you will be able to experience the true nature of your Self. Keep walking on your path. It’s a long, slow journey. Just take it one step at a time. Enjoy every moment. This is your journey. This is your life.

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Building a Meditation Practice.

Building a Meditation Practice.

It took me a long time to develop a meditation practice. Building a self practice is challenging. The best way to start is with a very short practice. Try five mins everyday. Try that for one month and see how it goes. You don’t have to start with a long practice. It’s better to pick something you know you can do everyday. Think of it like brushing your teeth. After one month if you were able to do the practice consistently then try adding another five minutes. Pick one technique. It’s not helpful to do every technique you know and jump from one to the next. The yogis often compare this to digging a well. You don’t want to dig a bunch of shallow wells. You will never hit water. Dig one hole and go deep! A consistent, daily meditation practice will change your life.

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What an inspiring weekend with Dr. Richard Miller!

What an inspiring weekend with Dr. Richard Miller!

What an inspiring weekend with Dr. Richard Miller! I’ve been practicing Yoga Nidra for over 12 years and teaching it for the past 10 yrs. I’ve been trained in 2 traditions and I found Richard’s knowledge incredible. He helped me connect the dots in a lot of areas and helped me understand what is happening neurologically in different parts of the practice. A few really profound moments where I was able to unlock and make sense of this ancient practice and increase my understanding. When knowledge turns to wisdom! His practice was very powerful as well and it really resonated with me. I’m definitely going to be doing a training with him down the road. Thank you @irestrichardmiller for a really wonderful weekend! Thank you @larrypayneyoga for hosting and all that you do to provide so many opportunities for us to continue to grow and learn. The never ending journey of learning! Feeling very grateful.

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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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I surrender to this moment, right here, and right now.

I surrender to this moment, right here, and right now.

The last day I spent in Bali, I returned to one of the temple’s we had visited and toured earlier in the week, on my recent yoga retreat. I was so grateful to be able to take some extra time and soak up this beautiful place. Sometimes you have to sit in a place for a while to experience it, take a few deep breaths, do a little yoga practice. Whenever I am shooting yoga pictures I always think of my teacher, Dharma Mittra, shooting the pics for the 908 Asanas poster. Dharma shot so many pics for the poster and he only used the ones where he felt like he wasn’t attached to the results. That’s hard to do when you know you are being photographed. Forget the photographer. Forget about the pose. Settle into stillness. Find peace. Breathe into it. Try to find that perfect balance, where the light is moving through you. I offer my practice. No me and no you. No expectations. I breathe into this moment. I surrender to this moment, right here and right now.

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Focus on the things you are grateful for in your life!

Focus on the things you are grateful for in your life!

We started the morning with just sun salutations, a long savasana, and then meditation. Sometimes that's enough. My teacher's would say if you don't have time for a full practice, do some sun salutations. The sun salutation practice is a gratitude practice. Thank you to the sun. Thank you for this day. Thank you for this moment. Thank you for this life. You can choose what to focus on today. You can choose what to give your energy to. You can choose who to be around. Focus on the positive. Focus on the things you are grateful for in your life. Build on them. Shift your perspective.

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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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Go deeper!

Go deeper!

I was talking last night in class about the need to contemplate the knowledge you are learning…

Go deeper.  There is always more you can learn about something.  

It’s through deeper concentration on an object that MORE is revealed.  This process of concentration, meditation, and Samadhi can be applied to anything.  You have to sit with something.  You have to dig deeper.  There’s MORE there.  You just can’t see it yet.  You have to do your practice, over and over again, and you have to be curious, open, and receptive.  The ego loves to have us believe that we’ve got it, we’ve figured it all out, there’s no more to learn.  The mind says, "I’m bored.  What’s next?  Give me something else.  Give me something harder.  What’s next?"  There is NO NEXT.  This is it!  Right here.  Right now.  And you haven’t come close to figuring this out yet.  You’re ready to move on already?  You’re barely scratching the surface of this place.  There is no place to go.  And if you are constantly thinking about the destination, and what is coming next, you aren’t really right here and right now.  Pay attention!

Your practice can be as hard or as easy as you make it.  Move slower.  Move like you are moving through water.  Reach.  Stretch.  Contract.  Open and close.  Follow the breath.  Inhale and exhale.  Slow it down.  Slow down.  Get more juice out of the orange!  Have you really figured out that pose?  Really?  Are you really present right now?  Look at each pose like you are looking at them for the very first time.  Approach your practice like you haven’t got it all figured out.  Slow down. Breathe deeply.  Take your time.  Experience everything you can.  Breathe into each moment.  Feel your body.  Feel how amazing it is to move your body, to stretch, to feel your muscles contracting.  

Your practice will keep getting more subtle and more refined but you have to keep practicing. The minute you buy into the idea that you’ve got it all figured out is the minute you stop learning and growing.  There is nowhere to go!  It’s all happening right here.  Right now your life is happening, while you are thinking about something else.

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Take a Journey to the Center of Your Self

Take a Journey to the Center of Your Self

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.

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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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The Cell Phone!

The Cell Phone!

Yogis!  We’ve been talking a lot in class this past week about Vedanta Philosophy and Non-Dualism and the influence of this philosophy on our modern yoga culture. 

Vedanta gives us the idea that we are ultimately connected to everything and everyone and any separation that exists between us is only an illusion that is only in our mind.    

Classical Yoga philosophy tells us that in the stillness, when the mind is quiet, we have the opportunity to experience the pure Consciousness part of ourselves.  This is what the yogi’s call Self-realization, the realization of the Self, the experience of the pure Consciousness part of our self. 

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Shiva Yoga

Shiva Yoga

We finished our second last weekend in my Hanuman Yoga 200hr Teacher Training Program last night. I can't believe there's just one more weekend left. I'm so proud of all of the trainees. What a special group. Their level of understanding of yoga practice and yoga philosophy is getting pretty incredible and it's been so inspiring to watch them each grow so much this past year.

This weekend we delved deeper into Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the Meditation Section of the manual. One of the things that I have loved about leading this training and that I love about teaching in general is that I am learning new things all the time along with my students.
The process of teaching is such a profound teacher in itself. My trainees have been doing exercises throughout the training where they are practice teaching, practicing their dharma talks on each other, giving presentations on philosophy, doing mock debates with each other,...etc...etc. This process of having to teach each other this material is such a huge teacher for them.

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Lose Yourself In the Moment

Lose Yourself In the Moment

Lose Yourself in the Moment!

One of the greatest things that yoga can give us is the ability to be more present in our lives. Ram Dass said it so clearly and so simply -- Be Here Now. Everything else is in your mind. All there is is this moment, right here, right now.

One of my teachers used to speak about breathing into every moment of your life because if you don't then you won't really be ready to let it go at the end.
That's the trick! That's what we are doing on our mat. That's what we are doing in meditation. How do we let go and get to the stillness? It's by fully engaging and concentrating on one object with such intensity that our concentration turns into meditation and we lose ourselves in the moment. Boom! Samadhi.

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Clean Your Pot!

Clean Your Pot!

This week in class I've been talking a lot about having to go through the fire to get to the other side.  

There is a saying in yoga and spirituality called spiritual by-pass.  This is where you don't do the work.  Where you pretend that you are already there.  Everything is love and flowers and sunshine and everyone is so amazing and so incredible.  Have you ever met someone who says things like this but immediately the voice of your intuition says something doesn't make sense with this person, something doesn't feel right?  It's like you can feel the tension within them that they aren't acknowledging.  These people scare me a little.  They are pushing their stuff down and repressing so much and one day they are going to snap and on that day everything isn't going to be all flowers and love and sunshine.  

When I first started to practice yoga I think I thought a little bit like this.  I had a lot of negative stuff moving through me and yoga was bringing it to the surface.  I was embarrassed.  I thought this isn't very "yogic" to have all these negative emotions moving through me and coming up in my practice.  I didn't really understand that this was the practice.  Bringing these emotions to the surface, processing them and learning to let go of things was and is a big part of yoga, healing and a spiritual path.

I was talking with a student recently about this and I think there was some confusion and is some confusion in our yoga community that if you're in your yoga practice and negative stuff is coming up for you then there must be something wrong with you or with your practice.  Isn't yoga all about fun?  

There is nothing wrong with you if your stuff is coming up for you in your practice.  This is the practice!  This is exactly what you want to happen.  When you go into the fire your stuff comes to the surface.  And in the beginning a lot of your stuff is going to be negative.  Think of your emotions as one of the ways that you process stuck energy and tension that is stored in your body and in the sub-conscious part of your mind.  These raw and powerful negative emotions that often rise to the surface during your practice are not a bad thing.  You're releasing a lot of tension.  Let it go.  Let it come up and let it go.  This is the place to feel sad and cry.  This is the place to feel angry and frustrated.  This is the place to process grief and pain.  This is the place to let it all go.  This is also the place to laugh, to feel joy and release and to surrender.  This is not a place where you pretend, where you fake it, where you pretend that everything is love and flowers and sunshine.  

You have to go through the fire first in order to get to a place where you find peace and quiet and calm.  And there's no b.s. when you get to that place.  It's real and authentic and true and it's as real and authentic and true as the crap you had to go through and the stuff you had to burn off in order to get there.  It's earned.  You earned it.  You don't accidentally quiet your mind and achieve a state of enlightenment.  You show up and you do the work.  

Whatever comes up for you in your practice is okay.  Whatever things need to process let them come up.  And then let them go.  And it's important to remember that the fire, the practice didn't create these feelings that are coming up for you.  Your teacher didn't create these feelings that are coming up for you.  The room being too hot or too cold didn't create these feelings that are coming up for you.  The pose you are in didn't create these feelings that are coming up for you.  All of these emotions that are coming up for you represent stored, unprocessed tension that is inside of you already and needs to be released.  You can choose to look at it and bring it to the surface and then let it go or you can pretend that it's not there.  

Show up for yourself.  Do the work.  You have to go through the fire to get to the other side.  You have to look at the pain and feel the pain in order to heal.  

There's an old story that is often told in yoga to illustrate what we are doing in the practice...  

Think of your mind like a dirty pot that is sitting in the kitchen after dinner.  If you pretend the pot is clean and you put water in the pot it's going to be murky, foggy, cloudy.  This is our mind.  It's cloudy.  We're in a fog.  We are trying to connect to the present moment but there's all these patterns and habits and attachments and things that are constantly pulling us out of the moment.  We have to clean the pot before we can fill it up with water again or whatever we want to put into it.  What happens when you clean the pot, though?  And this is why we avoid going into the fire in our practice.  It gets dirtier before it gets clean.  When you clean the pot and start to scrub all the crap off the sides and the bottom it comes to the surface.  The water in the pot while you are cleaning it is way dirtier than it would be if you just used the dirty pot as it is and things are way messier than before you started cleaning things up.  And it also takes some work to get the pot clean.  You have to put in some effort, especially if there's a whole lot of crap there and your pot is really dirty.  But it's worth it!  It's so worth it.  After you put in the effort eventually the pot is clean again.  It's like it was brand new.  You can pour water into the pot and it's clear.  

The tapas in your yoga practice is cleaning your mind.  We're scrubbing away old patterns, habits, impressions and letting go of the phyisical and mental tension that is holding us back and keeping us from seeing the world clearly and being connected to the present moment.  

Clean your pot!  Show up for yourself.  There is no such thing as spiritual by-pass.  You can pretend that your pot is already clean but everyone else can see the dirty water in it.  You can pretend that everything is love and flowers and sunshine but if you are repressing things, if you are pushing down against the tension, one day you are going to explode and things are going to come rushing to the surface anyway.  I don't want to be around when that happens.  

Everything isn't always supposed to be flowers and rainbows and sunshine.  If it was then flowers and rainbows and sunshine would have no meaning.  Earn your flowers and rainbows and sunshine.  Go through it and get to the other side.  

Clean your pot!

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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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