Holding Space

26.12.13

Outside KPJAYI
"It would be easier to roll up the entire sky into a small cloth than it would be to obtain true happiness without knowing the Self."  
(Upanishads)
I'm in Mysore. In the mist of rounding out my 3rd week today. My 7th trip and as always feels as if I'm coming into something new. I like to be in a space of discovery and exploration within the practice. It takes the edge off. It is important to touch, taste and feel every part of the experience. Even those challenging bits we find ourselves in on occasion. At this point settling in happens with ease but the practice in the shala is always full of surprises. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, witnessing the process of unfolding allows me to sit in a place of neutrality and observation. Understanding what is in and out of my control I can then ride the wave of energy that no matter what courses strong in the room like a steady march.

There have been so many things I have been contemplating lately. The process we all go through from time to time most certainly ebbs and flows in life and recently I have been feeling a flow. So many impressions and mental processes have come to light that sometimes it has been overwhelming. Within all of this I continue to place my heart in the center of it all. With countless hours of practice and study under my belt I am beginning to realize and lean on the simplicity of what it all culminates to. Can I love more openly? Can I live more open heartedly? How often do I rest on my fears and close? Do I extend a hand to the unfamiliar? Am I kind? Because it doesn't matter how many trips I make to Mysore and it doesn't matter how may complicated asanas I can do, if I don't open to the truth it is pointless.

I desire to push myself inside the unknowingness of it all. To look at everything with new eyes. To even come to my mat with a new perspective and curiosity. Because if I place too much importance on structure and the familiar I'm as good as dead, and ultimately building my spiritual home on sand. It isn't easy and sometimes you are stricken for it, but then again, everyone who has done anything of significance came to realize these challenges. Sometimes the path we take isn't accepted by the masses. The truth speaks ever so clearly and the courage to rise up to it can show itself in a myriad of ways. With this realization I can honor various paths and experiences and see the beauty in it all. No matter what differences that stand between, when understanding the truth, all walls tend to crumble.  

Bahá'í How Are You Doing? - Have a Little Faith


Here is a little video about the religion I was raised in. Talk about a great platform to build a foundation upon. Though I no longer label myself as any one thing it takes me back to how powerful the practice and vision of unity is. There is a thread that connects us all. The truth is that we are One. Whenever I deviate from that I know that I have lost my way and what brings me back is the connection we all share. There is no separation, it is only in the mind that we are. 

Monday Inspiration: Struggle

23.12.13

It is okay to be at a place of struggle. Struggle is just another word for growth. Even the most evolved beings find themselves in a place of struggle now and then. In fact, struggle is a sure sign to them that they are expanding; it is their indication of real and important progress. The only one who doesn’t struggle is the one who doesn’t grow. So if you are struggling right now, see it as a terrific sign — and celebrate your struggle. 
(Neale Donald Walsch)

Highlights from Moscow

22.12.13




Last November I spent 6 glorious days in Moscow, Russia. I know, I'm late posting but better late than never! The hospitality extended was truly heartwarming and I owe it to the spirit of the Russian people. You are magnificent! Thank you!!!



Love in Transformation

11.12.13

You don’t measure love in time. You measure love in transformation. Sometimes the longest connections yield very little growth, while the briefest of encounters change everything. The heart doesn’t wear a watch - it’s timeless. It doesn’t care how long you know someone. It doesn’t care if you had a 40 year anniversary if there is no juice in the connection. What the heart cares about is resonance. Resonance that opens it, resonance that enlivens it, resonance that calls it home. And when it finds it, the transformation begins… 
(Jeff Brown)

Just a Flexi-Girl . . .

Earnestness is the path of eternity, thoughtlessness the path of death. Those who are in earnest do not die, those who are thoughtless are as if dead already.  
(Buddha)
"Your just a flex-girl."

This is what a mutual peer and someone I considered a respected friend and colleague, told me a while back while having a conversation on none other than, asana practice. Often, talk has a way of going in that direction for whatever reason. When I heard the remark it took me a back. I was not only surprised but perplexed by the comment because it wasn't used in jest. Perplexed because if I misunderstood came off as if prior years of practice was all so easy. Funny how the act of consistent practice and discipline is never taken into consideration. However, I didn't spend too much time being offended by the comment because to say something like that is one lazy, and reflects more on the shortsighted view point of the one who said it.

So it got me thinking how easy it is to judge another, gravitating toward that something must have made it easier for someone to get where they are. There must be some excuse. It could be in regards to anything. Especially in a community where everyone likes to state their opinions about everything and everyone. It is then easy to miss all that happens in between. Often it is in the human condition that we don't even want to know the truth. We would rather rely on our own shortsighted judgements of someone else using the stories we make up in our heads as actual fact instead of learning a thing or two from the person we judge. In the end we miss a valuable opportunity to learn something.

It happens to the best of us when making snap judgements. This is where the mind likes to take us on any given day and like I said before and what I am realizing now is judgement comes out of laziness and the avoidance of truth. From truth comes responsibility, from truth we have to open rather than close. What we thought we knew may not be and for some a scary place because yes it takes more time to sit down with someone and really get to know them beyond the vision of our own lens. Then our stories don't carry much weight anymore. Wow, what freedom if only willing to step into understanding instead of fault finding!

Beyond judgement it also has me thinking what a disservice it does to comment on someone's practice in that regard or even their physical makeup. I've had a number of students with natural flexibility and in my eyes I'm like, so what. Whether flexible or hyper stable there is a sadhana (spiritual practice) being done and as a teacher I support one's sadhana. The result relies solely on the individual far beyond the performance of asana. It's not necessarily about mastering something external but about exploring each moment in each asana through conscious breath. The beauty viewed in practice stems from an internal alignment. The funny thing is some of my most sincere and humble students may have a few areas of natural ability but that in turn doesn't stop them from desiring to go ever deeper into the essence and truth of what this yoga tradition offers. One can never get the full story from the outside.

I think on another level it saddens me when we reduce things down on a level that in truth doesn't do much good for the one commenting or the one receiving the comment. If we understand that yoga practice leads to self-realization and the actualization of our true potential there isn't much to debate on what one does on the outside. It reminds me of what one student asked during a workshop I taught recently in regards to what I thought of her practice. I simply told her, "You're practicing consistently, I'm already impressed. Many stop long before where you are now. Just keep going. Keep exploring. This is what matters."

There is Nothing Wrong

10.12.13

There is nothing wrong. Sadness is not wrong. Fear is not wrong. Confusion is not wrong. Our pain is not wrong. Resisting our pain is what makes everything seem wrong. And yet here is a deeper truth, for those who are open: even our resistance of pain is not wrong. If that’s what’s happening, it cannot be wrong. It is a valid expression of life in the moment. Beyond ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. This love even embraces resistance. This Now is vast, and forgiving. Yet even ‘resistance’ is just another concept. Another judgement. Another way to make ourselves wrong. “Resistance bad”. “Acceptance good.” That’s what we learn. It’s not that we “resist” our pain. We just never learned how to be with it. How to sit with it. Stay with it. Have a cup of tea with it. See it as a beloved friend, at home in the vastness. Our ignorance is our innocence. We just never learned. Our pain is not wrong. It is an invitation. An ancient teaching. Universal. Free. Life invites us to come closer Falling through imagined layers Into great mystery. 
(Jeff Foster)


Monday Inspiration: Peace Within Me

9.12.13

Being, enliven me. 

Breath, inspire me. 


Beauty, enrapture me.


Heart, connect me.


Knowledge, expand me. 


Wisdom, empower me.


Truth, justify me.


Light, illuminate me.


Darkness, educate me.


Mystery, amaze me.


Grace, uplift me.


Peace, comfort me.


Center, draw me.


Oneness, embrace me.


All-in-all, use me.


Blessing, I bless you



Love, I love you.


(Julian of Norwich)



His Day is Done


Friday Quote: Violence

7.12.13

"When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day, when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. She told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with. 
The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. 
And the mother took the boy into her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because if violence begins in the nursery one can raise children into violence.” 
(Astrid Lindgren)

Keep The Faith

"Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely daydreaming, but vision with action can change the world." 
A hero of our time, a man of greatness. There is no way I could go on another day without expressing my profound gratitude to Nelson Mandela. His life is my inspiration. The attributes he embodied I can only hope to understand and practice as I contemplate on the weight and brevity he offered to the world. What touches my heart is his vision. A vision that never diminished even in the darkest of times and the fact he didn't shy away from the darkness. He embraced it. He looked at it. He talked about it. He ultimately transformed it.

Contemplating on his life I understand and am inspired to take more action and follow through on the vision that resides within. Before leaving Stockholm for India I had an important meeting in which I was compelled to say "let's do stuff." Nowhere near as elegant as the great visionaries of our time but in the same light I am understanding if we don't bring forth what desires to awaken we miss the opportunity to step into our unbounded potential whatever that may be. I have also understood that most of the greats honored others and their gifts and never felt threatened by it because they understood that we all draw divine inspiration from the same place. There are no exceptions. To be great you have to want others to be great.

Sometimes we stand alone and are isolated by others. This is okay and I have learned isn't always a bad thing. Being part of the "establishment" makes us lazy because the establishment sure has a lot to say but not so much to offer. Moving forward it is more imperative than ever to align with those who are willing to go the extra mile, to do stuff and open to the greater good. There is room for all to shine and why would we want it any other way?

Another question could be, what have you done to help others find their greatness? Something worth chewing on. Something that compels me to move forward no matter how great or how small.


On the long walk that is life
A man discovers who he is
Each step must be the search for purpose 
Not regret
Many roads will present themselves
He must often take the one few others would follow
And though he may wish to rest
When he is asked to stand
He must stand taller than he ever thought possible
For when the long walk is over
A man must be able to look back and say
I would not change a single footstep

Nobody

14.11.13

You fear no one because you’re perfectly content to be nobody. You don’t give a damn about success or failure. They mean nothing. Honor, disgrace, they mean nothing! If you make a fool of yourself, that means nothing either. Isn’t that a wonderful state to be in! Some people arrive at this goal painstakingly, step by step, through months and weeks of selfawareness. But I’ll promise you this: I have not known a single person who gave time to being aware who didn’t see a difference in a matter of weeks. The quality of their life changes, so they don’t have to take it on faith anymore. They see it; they’re different. They react differently. In fact, they react less and act more. You see things you’ve never seen before. You’re much more energetic, much more alive. People think that if they had no cravings, they’d be like deadwood. But in fact they’d lose their tension. Get rid of your fear of failure, your tensions about succeeding, you will be yourself. Relaxed. You wouldn’t be driving with your brakes on. That’s what would happen.

(ADM)

Going The Distance

13.11.13








Ranko and I practicing at Ashtanga Yoga Belgrade. Ranko is a true inspiration and I had the pleasure of teaching a weekend intensive with his students. 

All the while a silent laughter sings, like wind through an open window saying: be deeper still, stand at Zero. 
(Rumi)
Over the course of the last few months I've had an intense schedule of teaching which in turn means tons of learning every step of the way. As most have experienced when teaching the learning goes hand in hand. I tend to throw myself into the abyss not really sure how I will land. Knowing if it flows from my heart how can I be faulted? In many ways I could give or take the label of teacher because what it feels like from my core is a sharing of experience and a holder of a method of practice I embrace in reverence.

This past year on an internal level was a struggle if I am to be frank. From last winter through the spring I felt the crushing feelings of exhaustion and sadness triggered by various events but also a pouring out of what needed to be burned away. Instead of acting as if it wasn't there I immersed myself in it. I looked at it. I observed the feelings and felt the insurgence of memories I wished never were. Like a flood everything rushed in filling every empty space of my consciousness. Luckily, I had the freedom to feel what it was I needed to feel and to be sad if I needed to feel the sadness. It is never an easy thing for your partner to experience but to have the freedom to simply be without expectation is truly an act of unselfish love.

As the summer approached I slowly started to turn a corner. Through all the ups and downs I continued to work because as the saying goes, life moves on and what we bring forth ultimately heals us. What is the use in holding back? As my energy slowly resurged with a few hiccups here and there then came a sense of softness. Oh how important it is to simply soften. Even though I can feel myself revert I come to understand how within the softening there is a receptivity on a much deeper level as before. There is so much to taste and open to and at the same time I have learned how important it is to keep watch over my energy. I tend to recharge my batteries in a space of silent contemplation, writing, and/or reading. Though it is still a challenge for me to say "no" I have learned how important it is to make time to recharge and be still.

With the approach of the autumn season I had many commitments planned and it all seemed to flow in due order especially in light of honoring the process of unfolding months prior. True in what they say that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I can attest to that. Also looking back I can see how easy it is to be self identified with pain as well thinking as if we are special in some way because of a certain state of disarray. It never ceases to amaze how the importance of gratitude can pull one out of the dumps and into a clearer perspective. Given the opportunity to give space to the feelings is a luxury in which many don't have.

With the passing of the last several months many have touched me deeply as I've soaked in the wisdom of those who have crossed my path. I take it all to heart, in the workshops I've taught to our Mysore students here in Stockholm. We've built a community that has started to stand united in a very short amount of time. It's an energy wave that is headed into an exciting new direction and I feel blessed to be a part of it. It hasn't always been easy, especially in the infancy stages. It is work you must see through at every turn. Where practical experience, steadiness and passion must stand united for there to be growth, honoring the truth of each person I encounter on the mat.

Where there is quality and attention there is love

Burnt To Ash

All inquiry is meant for one purpose: to take you experientially into the Unknown as efficiently as possible. Once you get there, simply be still because the inquiry has delivered you to its destination. The rest is up to Grace. Do not hold onto any knowledge that comes your way. Even the greatest revelations must not be clung to, or you will end up with a head full of memories and a heart empty of substance. The truth is ever new, existing only in the now. The highest truth is beyond knowledge and experience. It is beyond time and space, and beyond beingness, consciousness, and oneness. Just remember that all direct path techniques are meant simply to undermine, to cut away, the one who is performing them. No matter what spiritual path you’ve walked or what teachings you’ve followed, they must lead you back to no path and no teaching. A true teaching is like a blazing fire that consumes itself. The teaching must not only consume you, but consume itself as well. All must be burned to ash, and then the ash must be burned. Then, and only then, is the Ultimate realized. True Enlightenment destroys enlightenment. As long as you can refer back to yourself and say, ‘I’m enlightened’, you’re not. Enlightenment is authentic only when there is no one left to be enlightened. Even to say ‘I am nobody’, is one too many. There’s a point when you intuitively realize that to be Free you have to give up your attachment to Freedom. You have to quit asking yourself: Is it still there? Am I okay? You have to decide to never look over your shoulder again to see if you’re free or if others know you’re free. You just have to let yourself burn there - no matter what. This isn’t something I can help you with. I can tell you what you need to do, but you have to do it. In the beginning, teachers can help a lot. But the deeper you go, all they can do is point, and clarify, and tell you what you need to do. Only you can take this step. Nobody can push you into this place. 
(Adyashanti)

Monday Inspiration: Be Ordinary

4.11.13

We must be willing to be completely ordinary people, which means accepting ourselves as we are without trying to become greater, purer, more spiritual, more insightful. If we can accept our imperfections as they are, quite ordinarily, then we can use them as part of the path. But if we try to get rid of our imperfections, then they will be enemies, obstacles on the road to our “self-improvement. 
(Chögyam Trungpa) 

Italian Moments: Lecce












I adore Lecce. This southern city has grandeur and charm. I like to call it mini Rome. Quaint and beautiful. A short drive from where I hold our annual retreat I simply enjoy walking the streets. Each one more beautiful than the next. They just don't make'em like they used to. 

Italian Moments: Rome












I've been promising more yoga related topics and they are to come and with that being said it has been an Autumn season like no other. Luckily, I've been able to keep my head on straight on some level. Within the whirlwind I'm late posting photos from our travels. Last september I hosted my annual Ashtanga yoga retreat in Salento, Italy and we made a stop in Rome afterward. The old world charm of Rome goes without saying so I won't bore you. It is one of those places you have to revisit to be able to soak it all up. This was our second trip and we still didn't have time for the Vacatian! That's on our list for next time. 

Monday Inspiration: Acceptance

29.10.13

Acceptance, done with any kind of hope, motive, expectation or goal, is not real acceptance – it is rejection in disguise, an attempt to escape the moment. True acceptance is a thrillingly fearless naked plunge into the unknown, a total alignment with all the creative energies of life itself, and an emergence into the vastness of the moment. There are no promises, for acceptance is timeless. 
(Jeff Foster)

Back In the Ring



What an amazing project this is. I have to hand it to R. Alexander Medin, a Certified teacher of Ashtanga yoga, on this incredible and very honest work. He is always working with various edges and going that extra mile. Respect! 

Healthy Joint Tonic and Much More: Golden Milk

23.10.13


Got joint issues or want to implement a practice that will benefit your overall health? Welcome to the miracles of turmeric! What are the benefits of turmeric exactly? Well for one it is a natural anti-inflammatory, which let's face it we could all use from time to time. Also, it is known for its' anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial properties. The list goes on. This healing herb from India is cost effective and worth having in your kitchen especially when learning all the good that it does. I've started taking turmeric in the form of Golden Milk to help alleviate a bit of joint and muscle pain I've been experiencing lately. I figure I have nothing to loose so might as well try it.

Benefits Include
  • Supports healthy joint function.
  • Promotes radiant healthy skin.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Promotes healthy blood and liver function.
  • 5 - 8 times stronger than vitamin E and stronger than vitamin C.
  • Research has found it has cancer fighting properties.

Believe me, I could have added much more to the list. Do the research and you will understand what I mean. 

Below is the recipe for Golden Milk with the above video. I have already made my first cup and really enjoyed it. I think it will make a suitable nightcap as I settle down at the end of my day. I also added Udo's oil like was suggested in the video. Feel free to use any type of milk you choose. I actually used an organic coconut/rice milk combination, sweetened with a dab of organic maple syrup. Loved it.  

Turmeric recipe

Take 1/4 cup turmeric powder, mix with 1/2 cup pure water and simmer over medium-high heat for at least 7 minutes, stirring constantly. You will notice a thick paste form. If it get's too dry while cooking you can add addional water. Once cooled, put into a glass jar and put in fridge. This is good for up to one month. 

Golden Milk:

Add 1 tsp. to 1 cup. hot milk (cow, goat, soy, rice, almond, or any combination), maple syrup or honey to taste and 1/2 tsp. of almond or sesame oil. Gently heat and stir. 

Monday Inspiration: Silence

21.10.13

This silence, this moment, every moment, if it’s genuinely inside you, brings what you need. There’s nothing to believe. Only when I stopped believing in myself did I come into this beauty. Sit quietly, and listen for a voice that will say: “Be more silent.” Die and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign that you’ve died. Your old life was a frantic running from silence. Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence. 
(Rumi)

The Walkable City

15.10.13


I know I'm lame, but I had to post this video. One thing I definitely appreciate in regards to living in Europe is most cities are walkable from end to end. Another reason why I feel Stockholm is one of the best cities in the world. I can't imagine living any other way at this point and if I had to center my life around a car again it would probably be the closest thing to hell for me, hahaha. I exaggerate, but you get my point. This is something that ADDS to the quality of your life not the other way around. Watch.

"Living with Yoga," Interview

14.10.13




A while back I was asked to write an excerpt for the lovely Sara Granström Thorsson's book project, Leva med Yoga (Living with Yoga), with the below questions given. In conjunction with Yogayama where I head our Mysore program, this book was a labor of love, no doubt. I feel blessed to be part of this community in the heart of Stockholm. It is a place of buzz and energy as well as passion for all who are a part of it. I also would like to thank Sara for her hard work in putting it together. The book is an amazing piece of art. Photographs are by Adam Falk.

Below is what I wrote for my piece:

When did you start practicing yoga and why?

Thankfully, I found yoga at a young age. I was drawn by the philosophy before I began asana practice. I loved the fact that yoga was experiential in nature in that one must enter bravely into the unchanging spaciousness of yoga to experience it. No amount of talk or reading can take one there unless it is consciously practiced and/or contemplated on a regular basis. 


What did you like about Ashtanga yoga and the Mysore practice?

When I first found Ashtanga yoga it simply took a hold of me and never let go. I felt I touched on something I immediately recognized but had forgotten. Instantaneously, I just knew, on a deep level, this was the practice for me, and I have been dedicated to the transformational process ever since. 

Now, after over 15 years of consistent Ashtanga yoga practice I continue to be fascinated and awed by the beauty and intelligence within it. It is so much more than a like, it is a love and a honoring. When I think of the tireless devotion of my teacher and his teacher’s teacher and so on, I feel the strength of each and every one of these passionate individuals within me. They carry me through my learning process and have sent clarity through times of doubt. It is much bigger than me, and when I expand into this space, I feel nothing but infinite possibilities. The lineage of this tradition is vast, and in mist of all of that, I feel at home.


What are the main differences between a led class and a self practice form of yoga from the participants point of view? What are the advantages with both methods?

It is important to point out that in Ashtanga yoga, there is only one method; however, there are various layers that comprise the method.  It includes both Mysore practice (self-practice with the guidance of a teacher), and led class. Traditionally, it is a 6 day a week practice, with one led-class a week, sometimes two, with the rest of the days devoted to Mysore style practice. This makes the whole experience complete. Those who only engage in led classes are never receiving the total experience. If you were to peel back the layers of misinformation in regards to the practice one would clearly see that Ashtanga yoga is Mysore style practice and Mysore style practice is Ashtanga yoga. Led classes give students the opportunity to learn the proper vinyasas to garner rhythm and pacing in their practice, learning the proper movements and counts, to then implement in Mysore practice which is self-led but always under the guidance of a teacher. They work hand in hand and synergistically. When I look at led class and Mysore class I don’t see two methods I see One as it was meant to be taught and the way that makes sense in the overall scope of the practice. What’s the point in watering it down? This practice was designed for ALL people no matter one’s background, age, or limitation. It is all there. The richness of the practice resides in it’s completeness. 


Many yogis are hesitating doing a self practice and finds the mysore style a bit scary, why do you think that is?

Releasing control and letting go to the process isn’t always the easiest thing to step into, but can definitely be rewarding. I think for many there is an intimidation factor with being in a room where people are practicing at their own pace from memory, and it can feel daunting. I always urge students not to let that stop them from trying it. It is in Mysore class where you learn the practice, so not knowing anything on your first day is perfectly and absolutely where you should be. Jokingly, I often tell those who are hesitant to try Mysore class, because of various excuses, that if they have air in their lungs, then they are the perfect candidate to get started. My job as a teacher is to meet the student where they are now, and assist them in learning the practice in a way that suits them. It is as simple as that. Yes, a breathing individual is the bare minimum requirement, but a dose of courage never hurts. 

Beyond that, I have observed, time and time again, as students begin to apply the principles of the practice, they in turn, find a new found strength within themselves, as they venture forward and face obstacles presented head on. Yes, it may feel scary in the beginning, but with consistent practice I’ve seen miracles unfold and when we embrace our fears there is no amount of confidence that can be acquired when doing just that. Encountering the unknown and opening up to our inherent potential is much more then simply bending the body. It is within the daily discipline that this potential awakens as it points us to a more fulfilling place than we could ever imagine for ourselves. 


Traditionally the mysore practice is done in the morning, what are the benefits with doing an early practice? Have you always been a morning person yourself? What would you say to someone who is interested but a bit daunted by getting up earlier than usual to get on the yoga mat?

It’s funny because when I first started practicing yoga I wasn’t necessarily a morning person. In the beginning, it was more about fitting practice into my daily schedule instead of making it a first priority. However, overtime it simply made sense to start my day in this manner. There is definitely a reason why the yogis of old practiced in the pre-dawn hour. There’s a powerful quiet energy at this time. It also has a way of setting an intention and a prayer for the rest of the day that simply sets me straight and clear and brings a wealth of benefit. However, let’s be frank, sometimes certain priorities call to our attention at certain times of our lives. Wether taking care of young children, family members, and/or our work. Sometimes the best time to practice is when it can be fit in. I do realize the challenges some people face to do an early morning practice. I think in the beginning consistency is key no matter what time you are available to practice. From my experience, once the steadiness of regular practice was established the transition to an early morning practice happened naturally. 


Sweden is a country with four different seasons and half of the year we have very little sunlight, in what way can this affect the practice?

It’s really interesting because since moving to Sweden I’ve experienced a huge growth period in regards to practice. This is partly due to the fact I was working with a great amount of resistance settling here, with the isolation, cold and darkness to contend with. However, what we bring to our mats is truly a state of mind, and with more external challenges, it forced me to dig deeper inside, which looking back on it, was a blessing. Now, I thank those challenges and extremes because it lit a fire within that might not have been lit otherwise.

In the same light, I do feel it is important to be sensitive to the seasonal shifts and adjust the rhythm of one’s practice during these times of external extremes, instead of trying to force the same pacing month after month. I have definitely become more sensitive to seasonal cycles, as well as, moon cycles with more years of practice under my belt, and I feel there are times where making adjustments is an important step in keeping the body/mind healthy. 


Do you practice today for the same reasons as when you started? What is the most important thing about your present practice?

In the beginning when I first started yoga practice I was drawn to it in the hopes to heal suffering both mental/emotional as well as physical. Whereas now, it has become more devotional in nature as I place myself in the hands of something higher, that back then, went far beyond my initial understanding but was felt within the depths of my being. In many ways words don’t do it justice. The experience of yoga has filled me with gratitude for simply being alive and has placed my internal and outer world in the proper perspective. 

The most important thing about my present practice is that I continue on and stay the course. My faith has grown over the years and has strengthened over time. There’s just this knowing that begins to arise that brings comfort through times of darkness, and the simplicity of showing up to this on a daily basis has been a blessing no matter how arduous. No one said it would be easy, and why should it? Once you get a taste of the Truth there is nothing sweeter.


When does yoga stop being yoga to you?

I don’t know if I am at liberty to say when yoga stops being yoga; however, in my heart I feel yoga is the living embodiment of who we are. It is our true nature. It is pure oneness. Through yoga practice we can only hope to receive a small taste of what this is as we quiet the mind and settle into our inherent nature. Reverently, it is this taste of something true, that keeps bringing me back, time and time again, to daily practice and contemplation. 


































Urban Philosophy Retreat with Sati Chmelar, 26 - 29 September 2013 - Stockholm, Sweden

10.9.13

Unmasking Your Identity and Facing Your Afflictions: An Introduction to Patañjali’s Classical Yoga and the Nature of Your Mind
This immersion into the teachings of Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras will serve as a guide into the memories and beliefs that have shaped your life and what you perceive yourself to be. The retreat will not just be an exploration of ideas, but how powerful ideas become when they attempt to map out the landscape of your own moment-to-moment experience.
We will use contemplative writing, drawing, group and partner sharing, lecture, discussion, and meditation practice to make the teachings of Classical Yoga come alive and relevant to your everyday life. By using the power of intimacy both personally and collectively to flesh out our fears and loving aspirations, we will seek to breathe life into the teachings of Yoga to illuminate your greater potential for self-mastery.
If you are new to philosophical studies in Yoga or struggled with trying to understand the philosophy of Yoga before, this retreat is for you!

Primary focus areas of this retreat:
Metaphysics of Classical Yoga
Outline of the mind
Exploring the nature of kleshas (obstacles) 

Supplies Needed:
• Writing utensil, journal, plain white paper, drawing pens/pencils or crayons
• A willingness to understand yourself
• A desire to cultivate self-discipline
• A sense of humor
• An open heart

Shannon Rose Chmelar (Sati) is an American yoga teacher who teaches the Ashtanga Vinyāsa Yoga system and various philosophical traditions including Classical Yoga, Vedanta, and Mahayana Buddhism. She is also a writer, massage therapist, and multi-media performance artist. She is the Founder and Director of Vasudhaiva, an educational institute and retreat company dedicated to the study of classical Indian thought, Buddhism, and Yoga. In all of her work, she strives to illuminate how ancient wisdom teachings may help us overcome our daily struggles and cultivate a more compassionate existence.
Sati was born in Frankfurt, Germany and raised in the US, Italy, and Japan. Her conscious spiritual journey began in adolescence after experiencing a series of transcendental awakenings. This gave her a thirst to know the divine nature underlying existence and led her to various practices that use the body as a form of spiritual inquiry. At first, she explored this through the study of dance in her teens and shifted to experimental performance throughout her 20’s at Bennington College in Vermont and later, in Florida.

Schedule 

Thursday       16:00-18:00 
Friday           18:00-20:00   
Saturday        08:00-12:00 (+short break)
Sunday         13:00-17:00 (+short break)

Location: Yogayama - Stockholm, Sweden
Cost: 1800 sek

For Booking information, click here

R. Sharath Jois Demonstrating Karandavasana

24.8.13

R. Sharath Jois in Stockholm

Photo by Bill Brundell

Photo by Miyoung Von Platten

Photo by Miyoung Von Platten

Photo by David Fredriksson
That's me on the far right!

Photo by David Fredriksson

Photo by Ida Fridh

I'm late posting on Sharath's first visit to Stockholm. Needless to say it was an amazing week. Took me a while to come back down to land! Sometimes I feel it is important to simply live in the experience. I cherish times such as these. What I love most is Sharath's profound simplicity in his teaching. There isn't room for anything extraneous or unnecessary and with such ease the essence of yoga pours through.  

Yoga Ruins Your Life

23.8.13



This is great. Love it.

Guru To Go. A Portrait of R. Sharath Jois.

10.8.13



Tomorrow is the start of R. Sharath Jois's week in Stockholm as part of his European tour. I can't really explain what comfort it brings to know my teacher is in here in the city where I live. I am so looking forward to spending the week with him and the many other students who will participate. The above video was captured at his previous stop in Copenhagen and highlights just a glimpse of his inspiring wisdom. 

No Expectations

9.8.13


A spirit that lives in this world
and does not wear the shirt of love,
such an existence is a deep disgrace.

Be foolishly in love,
because love is all there is.

There is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.

If someone asks, But what is love?
answer, Dissolving the will.

True freedom comes to those
who have escaped the questions
of freewill and fate.

Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him. 
He barely notices their tumbling game.

Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
for that way of being.

How long do you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.

Anything born in spring dies in the fall, 
but love is not seasonal.

With wine pressed from grapes,
expect a hangover.

But this love path has no expectations.
You are uneasy riding the body?
Dismount. Travel lighter.
Wings will be given.

Be clear like a mirror
reflecting nothing.

Be clean of pictures and the worry 
that comes with images.

Gaze into what is not ashamed
or afraid of any truth.

Contain all human faces in your own
without any judgment of them.

Be pure emptiness.
What is inside that? you ask.
Silence is all I can say.

Lovers have some secrets 
that they keep.

(Rumi)


** Thank you Anna for passing this one along. I greatly appreciate it. **

ACIM

6.8.13

"Humility will never ask that you remain content with littleness. But it does require that you be not content with less than greatness that comes not of you."  (ACIM)
"Deep within you is everything that is perfect, ready to radiate through you and out into the world." (ACIM)

A number of years back I started study on A Course in Miracles. It's been on and off to say the least, and with that being said, I'm always amazed by the power and truth within this amazing work. The first time I picked it up was early in my college years and it felt rather dense and heavy for me at the time. However, the fact I was intrigued never faded. As I pick it up again it will be interesting to see what it will awaken within me if at all. There is no doubt something will be stirred. It just has that way of bypassing the unnecessary and going right into the core of the matter. 

Friday Quote

2.8.13


"Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong."  (Lao Tzu)

Open As The Sky

31.7.13

"Colors blind the eye. Sounds deafen the ear. Flavors numb the taste. Desires wither the heart. The Master observes the world but trusts his inner vision. He allows things to come and go. His heart is as open as the sky." 
(Tao Te Ching, Translation by Stephan Mitchell)

Self Practice. Self Knowledge. Ashtanga Yoga Retreat.

29.7.13


We still have plenty of space left! I know there are plenty of retreats out there to choose from, and with that being said, this year I deliberately set my sights on developing a life affirming retreat, giving one the opportunity to dig deep, to open, and develop, uniting the invaluable tools of yoga practice and the application of yoga philosophy. With the passionate help of my co-collaborator, Sati Shannon Rose Chmelar, I hope we can inspire more to attend. It's gonna be great!

For program and schedule details, click here

For registration details, www.yogainsalento.com

Monday Inspiration


Let the waves of the universe rise and fall as they will. You have nothing to gain or lose. You are the ocean. 
(Ashtavakra Gita)

Friday Quote

26.7.13


"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude  will also break you with it's yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could." 
(Louise Erdrich)
 

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