Highlights from Mark Robberds' Workshop

10.11.14











At the end of October we had the pleasure of hosting Mark Robberds at Yogayama here in Stockholm. Mark was magic! He transmutes the practice in a way that is both beautiful, thought provoking and inspiring merging our connection to the heart. More and more, this is where I'm driving at in my own reflections. If it doesn't open our hearts and minds, then what's the point? 

To follow more of what Mark is up to in the world you can find him at www.markrobberds.com

Back in the U.S.

9.11.14

Massive Sequoia in my sister's neighborhood!


My precious 7 year old niece. Time flies!


Castle Rock State Park, California



I've really been behind with updating. I really miss it though! Life has been a balancing act over the past few months and will continue at this pace with a few breaks in between. I can't complain though. I feel extremely lucky to have had a number of opportunities come my way, and well, consistency and hard work have a way of steadily paying off unexpectedly when you simply immerse yourself in the work. 

In October I traveled back to the U.S. for the first time in almost 5 years! Can you imagine?! I didn't think it would take that long to get back when I first moved to Sweden but that's how it worked out. In a way I felt like a foreigner in my own country of origin, hahaha. Not in a bad way. But, I have to say, there is something about the European lifestyle that jives with me. At least for now. I can't predict the future but I'm content on living in Sweden. It works, especially if I get the chance to go away someplace warm and sunny during the winter months. 

So I headed to the west coast first to visit my sister and her family, including my adorable niece above in the Portland, Oregon area, then afterward, to San Jose, California to teach a weekend workshop there. I'm thinking maybe it was a good thing I visited the west coast for my mode of re-entry. There is open minded thinking everywhere but there seems to be more of it in place out there. I guess my one and only complaint is America's obsession with the automobile. The bigger the better it seems, and I feel myself being turned off by it, especially after living in a country where public transportation is not only done well, but extremely well. 

However, through it all I had a lovely trip. There are some things I just don't have in Sweden. Like family and Whole Foods. In case you didn't know I'm obsessed with Whole Foods. Everything also seems so much cheaper in the U.S. versus Sweden. So for consumption, yeah, America's got Sweden beat. The 25% Vat can really add up but somehow I don't feel like I'm getting too burned. There's a quality of life and a balance of life in Sweden that I can really appreciate. The contrast of travel and living in another country has given opportunity to open my eyes to many facets of life. For that I am grateful. I'm still no doubt American but the beauty of practicing yoga, traveling and living abroad you realize that there is a thread that connects us all no matter what labels or nationalities we identify with. If we could open our minds to that our world word be a different place. 

Gangster Yoga with Alexander Medin

11.10.14


So great to see Alexander Medin speak on his current project, "Back in the Ring" on Tedx!

WARSAW

10.10.14





Warsaw, Poland. For the past three years I've arrived during the first weekend of October as the Fall coloring begins to form. A beautiful time of year. A time of transition. I've done a fair amount of work in Eastern Europe and an affinity for this part of the world has begun to form. The people understand hardship and they also understand triumph. It's interesting being in places that have experienced a fair amount of upheaval as well as healing. When it comes to the city of Warsaw I love it. Right now it seems to be a good time for the people here. There is a vibrancy emerging bringing a sense of aliveness and change.

I feel grateful to have had the chance to return to many of the places I have done workshops. Each return there is a chance to more deeply get a feel for a place and the community. There is a familiarity and at the same time always new places to discover. Meeting yogis in various parts of the world once again bring to light how our sameness is much stronger than or difference.





Touch The Sky

1.10.14



So many timeless themes in this short film. I love it.

Wow, Moscow!

29.9.14


Entering the Red Square



Last weekend I was in Moscow. My second time there and all I can say is, WOW, Moscow! This city is massive. They say it is around 15 million but locals claim it to be closer to 20 million. The landscape of the city is more spread out unlike metropolises of New York, or let's say Hong Kong. In the center the historical sites are in tact and in amazing condition. There is something about the architecture in Moscow that really gets me. A mix of beauty and power united together. Everything is on a big scale if you know what I mean. It has spurred my interest to visit more of the cultural sites my next trip. There will be loads of ground to cover and much needed planning. It is also a dream of mine to see one of the Bolshoi Ballets. Tickets sell rather quickly so I'll have to be proactive in terms acquiring them.

When it comes to the people and the workshop I led, I am further impressed by what is instilled in the people here. There is a formality and a respect, but at the same time a warmth and resiliency that has no doubt been a big part of their history. A history that is complex, rich, provocative and tumultuous. It has always been a great experience to visit. Another dream on of mine is to see St. Petersburg. That's next on my list!


St. Basil's


On Moscow's Riverfront


Chia seed pana cotta at Fresh

 At Fresh - One of Moscow's vegetarian restaurants


With Leonid - The best Ashtanga teacher in Moscow!

Back in Colgone

25.9.14



The weekend before last I was in Cologne, Germany teaching a workshop or better known as Köln. I so enjoy this city. Like Stockholm there are many green areas and the city is made for walking as well as biking. There are quaint cafés that line the streets, perfect for people watching. When in Germany I can still feel the stark contrast from Sweden even though the two countries aren't that far away from each other. One country has felt the travesties of multiple wars in the last century while the other came off affected by pretty much unscathed. It makes a difference in the energetic make up in a country and it isn't necessarily bad. Next visit, I'd like to see some of the well known museums and get more of a feel of the history. Somehow I'll get it inked in the schedule. 

We Are Dead Stars



Imagine. We are dead stars. Wow.

This Summer

24.9.14



Ta



Just under a month I've been back home after an intense and transformational summer in Mysore, India. As always it took me a while to land and digest all that transpired, and in many ways I feel as if I am still digesting. I know transformational is a word that is thrown around a lot these days, and the only way to describe it is something shifted, for better or worse, who knows. I felt challenged on every level, mentally, emotionally, physically and most definitely spiritually. I cried this summer more than I had in a long time. I was broken down to be built back up. A toning from the inside out. A reckoning. The buzz of practicing there has just about worn off. It seems like the more you hold on to it the faster it goes. At the same time there is an inkling of a light that has been lit and the knowing it won't ever burn out.

Having the opportunity to immerse oneself in the way that we did this past summer was an opportunity of a life time, and really every trip I feel it, but this was on another level. I am always so grateful to have the time and space to focus on practice, ultimately focusing on the truer parts of life. I need these reminders. If I didn't I would be lost. It all goes back to the quality we lead in our hearts and minds in day to day living. Thankfully the practice of yoga helps to lead us there.

Moving forward there is so much that comes to mind. It is so easy to be swept away by the rhythm of our rushed society. I'm learning not to be so dictated by it. I too see how distracted I can be and how challenging it is to maintain this internal connection, but no one said it would be easy. It comes down to one's thirst for ultimate freedom as I contemplate what is that really? What does that look like? I'm getting the tiniest sense of it and yet it feels exciting and scary at the same time. Funny how that works. It's like balancing on the edge of a razor. 

True Love

29.8.14


Love is a tremendous caring that arises in the wake of transcending the personal self. In the wake of this transcendence, something amazing arises. A deep love and caring arises from within emptiness, from nowhere. This love and caring seeks only the Truth in every moment and in all circumstances. True love is something far greater than anything that could be called personal. True love is a non-personal miracle. It is the nature of reality itself. It is the natural and spontaneous expression of the undivided Self.

(Adyashanti)

B.K.S. Iyengar

25.8.14


Long over due, I'd like to commemorate the passion, beauty and strength that is B.K.S. Iyengar, who passed away last Wednesday. In many ways through his books and eloquent thoughts on yoga he was a dear teacher to me although I never personally met him. He will be missed and no doubt the dedicated energy of his sādhāna will carry on and carry us on. Thank you, Mr. Iyengar. Thank you for the paving the way. Your light continues to burn bright within all who you have touched. 

The Power of Unity

14.8.14


I love the following story. If we followed this example there would be much healing in the world. The best part is we don't have to wait. We can start today. I think even recent news guides us that one just never knows what pain is held inside someone.

There is an old story of a farmer who was proud of the fruits produced in his orchard. There was one diseased tree that never produced  anything of value but merely took up space in the orchard. He tried everything, but couldn't get rid of that tree. He tried cutting it down, but it would grow again from a shoot. He tried poisoning it, but it never quite died. Then one day, following someone's advice, he planted many healthy trees around it. They were vigorous and healthy trees that suited the environment well. Soon it was difficult to see where that diseased tree was amongst them. Gradually those beneficial healthy trees took over the entire space and when the farmer looked for his old adversary, that diseased tree couldn't be found; it had become healthy and on its branches were growing crops of beautiful fruits.  
(B.K.S. Iyengar, from Core of the Yoga Sutras)

Inspiration: Roads

13.8.14



Tagore

10.8.14

Banyan Tree 400 years - Mysore, India


I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain,
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.
You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.
Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours -
And the songs of every poet past and forever.
(Rabindranath Tagore)

Sādanā: In the Heart of it All



"What is to give light must first endure burning"  
(Victor Frankel)

Sādhanā is often referred to as spiritual practice. However, much more is intertwined in the term and has been one of the main themes of the course here in Mysore this summer. In another light, sādhanā is our own masterpiece we create to connect to the Divine. This in turn takes consistent effort and determination and by no means comes easy and at the same time is a worthwhile endeavor that gives more everlasting happiness and fulfillment than we could ever imagine, but first, there is a climb. Each step reaching us closer to the goal while playing with the paradox of detachment.

Sādhanā is also viewed as an ego transcending practice. The goal being liberation and freedom from bondage (samāra). The steps take daily effort where in my case includes regular asana practice, pranayama, and self study and also evening japa, prayer and/or chanting. Tapas (the effort to achieve self-realization) comes in those days where the warmth and comfort of the bed tells us better to stay put but instead we throw the covers off and take the necessary steps toward the mat. Tapas can also be viewed as discipline, an important ingredient in cultivating one's sādhanā.

The practitioner is referred to as a sādhaka, an aspirant. One who skillfully applies the learned rituals and practices, uniting body, mind and soul toward the spiritual goal. A sādhaka is dutifully committed and enthusiastic, though that can wax and wane in the beginning, and doubt part of the path for some, overtime the wavering ceases as the sādhanā strengthens and becomes a way of life. The important part being the intention behind it, something R. Sharath Jois has stressed time and time again this summer. Simply bending the body and/or going through the motions of ritual with no internal reflection often bring fruitless results. Another word for this heart/mind intention is bhāvanā. Bhāvanā can be thought in terms of planting seeds. Our sādhāna makes for fertile ground but what seeds will we plant?

"The practice of yoga, as a whole, is a profound science of internal purification which leads practitioners very gradually to the realization of the non-difference between the jīvātma, or indwelling Self of the individual, and the paramātma, or Universal Self. For this to occur, a proper intention and direction of energies needs to be established from the outset of a practice; in Sanskrit, this is known as 'bhāvana.'"     
(Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Sūryanamaskāra)

The thirst needs to be there. Yes, there may be days we feel apathetic; however, the beauty of our sādhāna is what it is pointing us to. This keeps it alive. It must stay alive within us. We must fan the flames. Each day carving out our masterpiece of transformation. The beauty being, no amount of effort is wasted. Each step, leading toward illumination.





 

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