"Desires for sense pleasure are electric in nature and they get neutralized as they move towards the objects of senses. If, by your skill, you could move them within you towards the center of your existence, another dimension of everlasting pleasure, thrill, bliss, and undying love will all be yours. Lust, greed, power and jealousy are also powerful because they are nothing but energy and you are the source of it - the pure electricity. Dedication and devotion keep the purity of your electricity moving upward. Realizing you are pleasure or electricity yourself, your craving subsides and serenity dawns."
(Shri Shri Ravi Shankar)
Wow. We got dumped on overnight. Talk about a whitewash. I'm wondering if by the time we leave, the airport will be buried under heaps of snow. Ha. Not likely. But still. It did cross my mind. Surly, I'm boring everyone with talk of snow fall. Although, one thing that's a bit surprising, I've been told, is this has been the first proper winter in quite a while. I think many would be surprised to learn that it isn't nearly as cold here as one might believe even though we're far up north. Gotta love the jet stream that allows Spain to be as warm as it is even though it has about the same latitude as NYC.
How's the Swedish coming? Ha. Well. Not so much. I know. A bit of laziness has set in. But, I hand it to the fact that I'm simply trying to get acquainted with being here, first. Once back from India it's gonna be a full fledged Swedish language immersion. No joke. I've already been warned.
Well, I already got a fair amount of cleaning done. We're gonna get this place spic & span before leaving. Laundry. Then packing ... Still, after all my travels over the past several years, you'd think I'd have the art of packing down to a fine science. I don't. Not even close. So, we'll see how I manage this one. I desire simplicity.
"It's just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one."
Ah. The winds were brisk today. The type of chill that quickens your step in hopes of bypassing the freeze. More snow, but a light falling, maybe an inch or two. The good thing is, I can foresee the days getting longer. Nice. I like. I like very much. My time in Sweden will definitely put me in with the legions of sun worshipers here.
Practice has been good and steady. I've managed, even without sweating. I have to say, I feel like if I can practice here, I can practice anywhere, lol! Getting the extra heat really is something. Such as practicing in India. But also, I've found in colder climates one has to be extra mindful and present, which brings it back more profoundly on why we practice. The movement isn't as easy, the flow must be created, truly relying on the bandhas, while building internal heat.
I've been practicing all of second and adding on 3rd series up until Astravakrasna B. Since I'm focusing on building stamina, I practice 3rd up until I finish all of the arm balances. Like I've said before, it's never that each individual posture on it's own is severely challenging, even though they can be in their own right, but it's in linking them together, in a flowing sequence, that's really something. I'm enjoying it though. My second series practice has really deepened over the last several years and I'm still content with how I've been practicing this month. I guess the only difference now is that I've added a strictly 3rd series practice as well. It feels good to have built slowly, as I have, because everything is opening with more ease than I could have expected.
Now with Mysore, India on the horizon I already feel as if my body is softening from the thoughts of sun and warmth. It's really beautiful there this time of year.
Practice + Coconut = a Smile :-)
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
The week is winding down as we prepare to leave for India. Good thing. We're about to get plummeted with another winter storm! Temps will be dropping as well as more snow. Yikes! Will be nice to experience a sub-tropical climate once again. Ahhhh. Makes me smile just thinking about it.
I facilitated my first workshop in Stockholm last weekend and couldn't have asked for a better group of people to share the practice with or a better host as Yogayama. I'm continually amazed how deep the practice inspires no matter what country I travel to. Movement and breath always translate perfectly and not much can be explained beyond that.
Across boarders there is always common ground to connect to. Through differences, I've seen that under it all we are the same. In that, I've learned to understand the contrast the collective energy of varying cultures contains. Instead of immediately turning to judgment and comparing, I practice bringing it back to appreciation. I love that. I love the contrast. I love how under the contrast we all basically crave the validation of genuine love and unification. No matter what.
In the months I've been living in Sweden I feel it's been a transitional period of assimilating and getting my "feet wet," per say. Then off to India to experience deepening into the practice. And when back, it's gonna have to be a full fledged diving into a life here.
Step by step. Like entering into a new posture ... all I need to do is breathe.
"Your whole body is made up of atoms. Being with this truth kindles the energy in you and brings up the consciousness. When you sing bhajans, the sound Energy Vibration gets absorbed into every particle of your body. As a microphone absorbs sound and converts it into electricity, the body absorbs the vibrations and converts them into consciousness. When you sit in bhajans your entire body gets soaked in energy and transformation happens. If you are sitting and listening to gossip or violent music, then that gets absorbed by your body too.
When you hear the Knowledge, or chant with all your heart, that elevates your consciousness. There is an ancient proverb in Sanskrit which says that the words of enlightened masters are translated into experience immediately."
This is my delight,
thus to wait and watch at the wayside
where shadow chases light
and the rain comes in the wake of the summer.
Messengers, with tidings from unknown skies,
greet me and speed along the road.
My heart is glad within,
and the breath of the passing breeze is sweet.
From dawn till dusk I sit here before my door,
and I know that of a sudden
the happy moment will arrive when I shall see.
In the meanwhile I smile and I sing all alone.
(Gitanjali, Rbindranath Tagore)
O Fool, try to carry thyself upon thy own shoulders!
O beggar, to come beg at thy own door!
Leave all thy burdens on his hands who can bear all,
and never look behind in regret.
Thy desire at once puts out the light from the lamp it touches with its breath.
It is unholy---take not thy gifts through its unclean hands.
(Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore)
He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon.
I am ever busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up into
the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow.
I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it with dust and sand
lest a least hole should be left in this name;
(Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore)
Light, oh where is the light?
Kindle it with the burning fire of desire!
There is the lamp but never a flicker of a flame---is such thy fate, my heart?
Ah, death were better by far for thee!
Misery knocks at thy door,
and her message is that thy lord is wakeful,
and he calls thee to the love-tryst through the darkness of night.
The sky is overcast with clouds and the rain is ceaseless.
I know not what this is that stirs in me---I know not its meaning.
A moment's flash of lightning drags down a deeper gloom on my sight,
and my heart gropes for the path to where the music of the night calls me.
Light, oh where is the light!
Kindle it with the burning fire of desire!
It thunders and the wind rushes screaming through the void.
The night is black as a black stone.
Let not the hours pass by in the dark.
(Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore)
On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying,
and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.
Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from my
dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange fragrance in the south wind.
That vague sweetness made my heart ache with longing and it seemed to
me that is was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion.
I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and that this
(Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore)
The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.
I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and pursued my
voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.
It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself,
and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.
The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own,
and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.
My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said `Here art thou!'
The question and the cry `Oh, where?' melt into tears of a thousand
(Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore)
that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.
I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts, knowing
that thou art that truth which has kindled the light of reason in my mind.
I shall ever try to drive all evils away from my heart and keep my
love in flower, knowing that thou hast thy seat in the inmost shrine of my heart.
And it shall be my endeavor to reveal thee in my actions, knowing it
(Gitanjali, Rabinadranath Tagore)
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure.
This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.
This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in
joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---
During the course of the next several weeks I'll be posting poetry and quotes from, Rabindranath Tagore, in honor of my next destination, India.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941), is perhaps the greatest writer in modern Indian literature. Inspiring. Thought provoking. Writings that pull at the soul. He has become one of my favorites.
"When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly."
This week's practice has been interesting getting back into 3rd Series. Several years ago I set Advanced A aside when making my first trip to Mysore, India in the summer of 2007. As most of you know, now matter how long you've practiced previously you start from day one once entering KPJAYI. It's the way it is. I've never had a problem with it. If anything, I felt like it made sense. I took the attitude in there being no harm in deepening my already established Primary Series practice. And boy did I. Deep. deep. deep.
From what I was told I was moved through fairly quickly and was soon split into Second Series my first trip. So, after leaving Mysore I decided to stick with Second Series, and continue the process from KPJAYI. Then, on my second trip, a year ago, I continued with Intermediate, just about finishing, but no quite. Then for the remainder of the year I continued on with only Intermediate, and of course Primary once a week.
During the course of the last several years it's been an enlightening experience, to set aside any form of ambition, be where I am, deepening even further. In many ways, it was like starting over. Which is familiar territory dedicating to life long practice. There are plateaus. There are peaks. There are valleys. Sometimes there are even walls! When we find we've come full circle, an ending, we soon find a new beginning.
What I've found in deepening the previous sequences is it directly improved my 3rd Series asanas without having to practice them. For example, before, I always struggled with Eka pada bakasana. To now, just recently, being able to lift up into it with ease. Which never happened several years ago. Setting it aside seemed to be the best thing, in a sense. Going back, not backwards.
When Pattabhi Jois stated, "practice and all is coming," I see how in many ways everything is already here. No matter what stage in the game we are in, if there's a beginning, middle and end to every movement, to every breath, to every posture, a door opens, and we enter into presence.
Yes. I can skim the surface and go far, but have I realized a deep sense of intimacy with the power of being?
In the quietness of movement and breath, it felt like time to move forward. And the sense to move forward, taught me nothing was ever lost.
I'm opening to new places. Expanding. Learning there is never a destination to attain, only a discovery to take place. Fully committing to the process, intentionally, has been integral. I've learned that in letting go to each step, versus where I thought I needed to be, gave more than I could have realized.
In softening, power and strength are given freely, and more sincerely realized.
“The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being.”
Yesterday, was my first day teaching yoga classes in Stockholm. Feels good! Yogayama is a beautiful space. Large. Warm. Welcoming. If ever in the neighborhood I would recommend stopping in. There's also an outstanding vegetarian restaurant on the second floor. It's absolutely, positively, delicious and amazing, in every way. Who can beat it? Take a yoga class. Then venture upstairs and delight in a healthy meal. Nice.
There's always a bit of trepidation entering a new space when teaching. However, the warmth and graciousness extended has made any sense of nervousness, or insecurity wash away. For that, I'm utterly grateful.
The culmination of energy found in a room of yoga practitioners never ceases to amaze and astound. The pulsation of unified breath opens the door to deeper states of consciousness, and to observe, when leading a class, is always a humbling experience.
As I continue to practice. As I continue to teach. I see how it's all one and the same. A diving inward. A giving outward. In those intimate moments it becomes all about service.
“Make. It. Count.”
Ah. I'm reveling in wintertime. Quite astonishing. Indeed. Never a fan of winter beforehand, I'm wondering if it has to do with letting go of resistance? Though not totally there. Hahaha. Not by a long shot. It's a nice feeling when no longer having to dislike something, and the even greater part is, I can enjoy it.
Though I've been lazy to pull out my camera in the last several days, the landscape is completely covered with snow. Everything white, even the trees, for they've acquired a thick layer of frost from the blanketing of snow we've had over the past month. Sometimes it takes my breath away, it's so beautiful. Especially on clear days, like today. The contrast of blue sky, and the brightness of the snow, highlights the trees, giving everything a pristine quality.
What's changed is I take the time to look around. Breathe it in. Whereas before, I wouldn't have bothered, thinking, there must be better things to do. Now I realize, what's better than this? I can't think of much. For the key to past unhappiness stems from not enjoying the little moments.
The abundance of Earth's remarkable beauty is staggering.
The inner connectedness felt through yoga practice has a way of changing the course of how the world is viewed. How I decide to live in it. How I decide to be in it. The interconnection runs deep. Nothing is independent of it's self. Everything is weaved together. Everything counts. Everyone. Everything, has it's place. One no more important than another.
Yes. I can read more books and acquire more knowledge. But now, I get the sense, I only need to look. Look around, and deeply understand how everything is connected.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
(Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
Saha Nau Bhunaktu
Saha Vīryam Karavāvahai
Om śāntih, śāntih, śāntih
Let us together be protected
Let us together be nourished
Let us together join our mental forces in strength for the benefit of humanity.
Let our efforts at learning be luminous and filled with joy and endowed with the force of purpose.
Let us never be poisoned with the seeds of hatred for anyone.
Let there be peace and serenity. Peace. Peace. Peace.
Let's bend and breathe together!
Following are a list of classes I'll be covering in January at Yogayama.
January 13th, Self-practice ~ 7:00 am - 9:00 pm
January 13th, Lead Primary Series ~ 5:45 pm - 7:30 pm
January 15th, Ashtanga 3 ~ 10:00 am - 11:30 pm
January 17th, Ashtanga 2 ~ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
January 18th, Ashtanga 2 ~ 7:10 pm - 8:40 pm
January 25th, Ashtanga 2 ~ 7:10 pm - 8:40 pm
See you there!
“Silence. All human unhappiness comes from not knowing how to stay quietly in a room.”
Had a relaxing practice in the morning. Where I consciously focused on non-doing. Being the pose. Sound strange? Yeah. Experimenting with being fully relaxed even as challenging as Ashtanga yoga can be does seem counter-intuitive. At first. However, the longer I practice the more intuitive it becomes.
Yes. Often there is effort involved. Especially when first introduced to the countless number of vinyasas. It never seems to end.
Through the practice of yoga we discover the yin, and the yang. The active and passive forces that bind us to the Earth. We live in a world of paradox. Ebb and flow. Left and right. Up, down. What I've tuned into, as of late, is in melding the two forces together into one. One, no stronger than the other. I see how division binds me to lower vibrations. With unity, moving beyond the dual nature of the world, combining and melting both together, a magical union, anything and everything is possible.
Wholeness. Yes. There is light. There is dark. However, it all shifts as my perception becomes clear. I no longer see what it is I was told to 'see.' There is only One.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Somehow, my body has managed to bend within the dog days of winter. Like the cycles of the seasons, the body experiences the same metamorphosis. With more contraction, I must move consciously, steady, steady, since building heat takes time, more effort. With the limitation of the weather, and how the body reacts, it's a dynamic, offering challenge, and discovery. Is it still possible to find freedom within limitation?
Winter practices have taught me how to move in a way that slowly kindles the internal fire. Yes, it's harder to get out of bed. It's dark. Dawn comes much later than the vibrancy of Spring and Summer. There's heaviness. Since 'flow' isn't necessarily handed over to me on a silver platter, I've come to the point where it's about creating it. Not taking one movement for granted.
Winter is a time to get back in touch with internal Grace. Something the practice can easily reveal as I burn through inner resistance, and let go. Learning to move with the heaviness, while creating lightness, only makes me stronger.
Making it through the Winter, in times of darkness, entering realms of grace and stillness. There is no need to resist what is. I can even find beauty in it. I can even find myself.
I'm excited to be conducting my first workshop in Stockholm, Sweden hosted by Yogayama in the heart of the city!
When: Saturday, January 23rd - Sunday, January 24th
Time: 10 am - 12:30 pm
Price: 750 sek
Saturday: focused attention on internal connection, alignment and meditation in movement. This will be an opportunity for Ashtanga practitioners to deepen their existing practice by breaking down the parts of sun salutations, standing poses, and seated postures, as well as, the importance of vinyasa, while flowing within the practice. We'll end class with discussion and questions.
Sunday: Full, lead Primary Series. After practice, further discussion, and open dialogue pertaining to Ashtanga yoga philosophy and practice.
All levels welcome!
It’s not about the mistake, it’s about the lesson
It’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give
It’s not about making friends, it’s about making family
It’s not about how you do it, it’s about how you feel doing it
It’s not about yesterday, it’s about today
It’s not about making the wrong choices, it’s about choosing to do nothing at all
It’s not about who leaves, it’s about who stays ...
To attract love three qualities must be cultivated: attention, affection, appreciation.
There is nothing more attractive than a person who has no social masks and radiates a simple unaffected humanity.
We are repelled by people who have qualities that we deny in ourselves.
We are attracted to people who have qualities we have but that we want more of.
Falling in love is an act of the soul.
People who attract love respond to the gestures of love from others.
People who attract love know how to give. They are generous of spirit.
People who attract love are not dependent on anyone to know they are lovable.
People who attract love are comfortable with their own and other people's weaknesses.
People who attract love are comfortable with ambiguity and are non-judgmental.
People who attract love believe they are lovable.
Any relationship based on need is doomed for failure, but a relationship based on playfulness will lead to ecstasy.
Intimacy in love is a state of timelessness, loss of ego, naturalness, surrender, communion, defenselessness and vulnerability.
To commune with another soul, see them as equal, be sensitive to paradoxical feelings, have integrity, and don't project.
"When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself."
As I type, the snow continues to fall. My favorite, in the evenings, when the snow sparkles, illuminated by the moonlight.
2010. Wow. I remember when years seemed to unfold slowly. Now, it feels only yesterday when I think back to a year ago. In the same instance, much can happen in a year. Yes. This is true. The last several months leading up until now I've felt a flood of memories come to the forefront. I'm not entirely sure why. It just is. I observe. Almost like a tape unwinding. Memories I had forgotten or have wanted to forget. Defining moments, or moments I let slip away.
Now I feel as if I don't want to miss a thing. Meaning, to fully embrace the simplicity and beauty of everything. There were times in my painful past where I felt as if so much was out of my grasp. Wanting. Wanting. Needing. When in truth, it was within me all along, and is. Through realization comes excavation. A clearing out. A centering. It's time to live the reality I've always known to be true. Why is it so scary, yet freeing at the same time?
We are who we are, as simple and as beautiful as that. I guess the best way I've heard it put is all we need to do is remove the lies, so there is only being. That's it. Through the removal. The breaking down. A polishing. What is here, can be known, and it sparkles like the evening snow.
When I contemplate the practice. I see how the purification process is key.
The alchemy of existence.