Hierarchy of Needs


Still Ticking


"Love is fed by the imagination, by which we become wiser than we know, better than we feel, nobler than we are; by which we can see life as a whole: by which and which alone, we can understand others in their real as in their ideal relations."     - Oscar Wilde

Lately I've been barely able to keep my head on straight while dealing with a bout of fatigue. When the weather changes it seems to hit me. Though, thankfully I haven't fallen ill. I'll take a dose of tiredness any day. It's all about balance.  I've continued on with my Swedish language studies, but if I were to be completely honest, I'm a little disappointed with the SFI program. I tend to be a stickler for organization and there seems to be none. Like, where's the curriculum? So, I'm learning to go with the flow and not be overly concerned with what could be better. Riiiiight. It just pisses me off at the same time because I have to devote four hours a day, five days a week, to it. With that being said, comes frustration. Along with the dissatisfaction comes a really bad attitude. Haha, it interesting to observe myself in these situations. Nobody's perfect. I'm still learning, but very slowly. Yeah. Some government programs sound great in theory, but how they are implemented is where the meat of the matter is. It can only be as good as the people who run them.

Jag har fått nog! Det gör inget!

I do speak a bit of Swedish, and when I do I have the added benefit of sounding cute. You see, an American accent, when speaking Swedish is something like when we in America enjoy hearing British accents, we like it. We like the sound of it. There is something endearing about it. Well, I guess the same goes for Americans speaking Swedish. So I guess I lucked out on this one.

Along the way I've learned how to identify languages quite well. Living in Stockholm, not only do I hear Swedish, and often English, but a litany of other languages. This is most certainly a international city.  When on the train, out in the street, I hear it all - a mosaic of various languages. I also find it amusing how just by the looks of other Europeans you can tell what country they are from. My boyfriend especially has an eye for this. Without a second thought he'll be like those are Germans, French, Danish, whatever. Interesting how with any given country there is a collective identity that comes with the territory.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice continues to develop. It's always about constant internal refinement. I just finished a weekend with Certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher R. Alex Medin. From Norway, he brings with him a vast current of experiential knowledge when it comes to the practice of yoga and philosophy. Deeply rooted in pranayama, he really pushed us to our edge. Something I found highly challenging, and at the same time, appreciative to be guided into new pathways of my awareness. When it came to Mysore practice Alex balanced the use of physical adjustments with many subtle adjustments, seamlessly. It takes a keen eye to observe where students need to grow when it comes to the subtitles of the practice. There were times when he told me to take my dristhie even further in various postures, even verbally telling me to root my feet firmly down toward the earth, grounding, as I raise my hands over head for the first movement in Surya Namaskara A. I was pleasantly surprised how much of a difference it made. There is more to the practice than the physically challenging stuff, obviously the paradox that comes with a Ashtanga yoga practice. He stressed the importance of settling into the postures, and relaxing into the energy of effortlessness. Yes, sounds easier said than done, but really there is no reason to use the practice as another thing to beat ourselves up over. Cultivating a space for centered movement is what it's all about, and how it is expressed physically is something of second importance.

Thank you, Alex! See you in Mysore!

 After a very sweaty practice!

A Tear and a Smile


I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart
For the joys of the multitude.
And I would not have the tears that sadness makes
To flow from my every part turn into laughter.

I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.

A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding
Of life’s secrets and hidden things.
A smile to draw me nigh to the sons of my kind and
To be a symbol of my glorification of the gods.

A tear to unite me with those of broken heart;
A smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.

I would rather that I died in yearning and longing  than that I live Weary and despairing.                     
I want the hunger for love and beauty to be in the
Depths of my spirit,for I have seen those who are
Satisfied the most wretched of people.
I have heard the sigh of those in yearning and Longing, and it is sweeter than the sweetest melody.

With evening’s coming the flower folds her petals
And sleeps, embracing her longing.
At morning’s approach she opens her lips to meet
The sun’s kiss.

The life of a flower is longing and fulfilment.
A tear and a smile.

- Kahlil Gibran 

In the Stock


In the Stock.
David Robson and David Fredriksson.

I've been unbelievably behind on my blog posting over the past several months. I really miss it. I miss the process of writing something, checking in. David and I have had the pleasure of having friends come through Stockholm.  It doesn't seem to be too far out of the way for those we've met and developed relationships with during our stays in Mysore, India. We are lucky indeed!

Yogayama hosted David Robson for a full weekend of Ashtanga yoga. It was a pleasure. His sincerity, and reverence toward the practice really shines through in his teaching. It's lovely to be around those who continue to trust the process while guiding students in a selfless manner. I've been around a long list of teachers and would not hesitate in recommending David Robson. There are truly special teachers out there who may not be portrayed in every media outlet available, who steadily, and quietly move forward on the path of yoga, unflinching, bringing with them an endless amount of wisdom, and experience not to be missed.

We love Stan Byrne's blog, Miss Stan! I've mentioned it before. It's wonderful hearing the perspective of a woman practicing Ashtanga yoga while balancing life as a new mother, and work. David and Stan make a wonderful team. Oh! We can't forget Holden Owl, their son, he's the absolute cutest.

I only wish we would have had better weather during their stay. Unfortunately it was cold, cloudy and rainy. Typical autumn fare here, although we do get beautiful sunny days, as well.

Here's to good friends in the beautiful backdrop of Stockholm, even when the weather decides not to cooperate.

To learn more about the vibrant yoga scene in Toronto visit www.ashtangayogatoronto.com, and for Stan's blog visit, www.missstan.com.

Infinite Love




I'm just about done with the new Guruji book. What an amazing compilation of stories and dialogues. There were numerous instances where I felt resonance with the practitioners/teachers interviewed. Their experiences touched, and reaffirmed many of the insights that come about through sustained practice. To feel a kinship to those in the book, that in turn, spread to all who devote themselves to this practice, is a special thing. I know I tend to repeat myself, but once again, to feel the deep sense of gratitude towards Sri K. Pattabhi's for his tireless love and devotion toward his students is beyond inspiring. The power of one person is immense. Truly.

As I continued to read the book, in Sharath's chapter he mentioned, shraddha. The word sprang out at me like a jack in the box. Right away, it held meaning. As I read on, Sharath went on to say:

"Shraddha is more than faith. It is also surrendering your sense organs, your body, your everything, surrendering to the practice. "

Most people know the story of Guruji starting his study with Krishnamacharya with 100 students, to then, end up with only three. As students were jumping ship, Pattabhi Jois continued on. Why? What force led him there and what made him stay? Those who left, must thought it madness. What allowed him to steadily move forward on the path, with joy, through hardship and uncertainty? Shraddha.

Through his example, he was more than a yoga teacher, a guru - yoga embedded his being and lead his life. It was one and the same. What really struck me was not only his vast dedication to his students and their progress, but also how with money, without it, with one student, or many - none of it changed him - he had the same fervor and passion for teaching without the fame with only making 17 rupees a month. That takes more than a leap of faith, it's in joining what you love and do, and living it as one.

With shraddha being more than faith, it's funny how when something strikes, it comes at you again, and again. As I flipped through a copy of The Bhagavad Gita I came right to a page mentioning shraddha. Okay. I get it. I need to look deeper. So I did, and it has stayed with me ever since. Here is some of what I found. 

"That concept is shraddha, and its nearest English equivalent is faith. I have translated it as such, but shraddha means much more. It is literally "that which is placed in the heart": all the beliefs we hold so deeply that we never think to question them. It is the set of values, axioms, prejudices, and prepossessions that colors our perceptions, governs our thinking, dictates our responses, and shapes our lives, generally without our even being aware of its presence and power.
This may sound philosophical, but shraddha is not an intellectual abstraction. It is our very substance. The Gita says, "A person is what his shraddha is" (17.3). The Bible uses almost the same words: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," Sharaddha reflects everything that we have made ourselves and points to what we have become. But there is nothing passive about shraddha. It is full of potency, for it prompts action, conditions behavior, and determines how we see and therefore respond to the world around us."
- The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran

Sounds powerful. Yet, we don't do it for power, we do it for the love. We do it when we are moved beyond rational thinking. We do it because we have to. We do it because it is who we are.

"Yet shraddha is not brute determination or wishful thinking. When St. John of the Cross says "We live in what we love," he is explaining shraddha. This is our world. Our lives are an eloquent expression of our belief: what we deem worth having, doing, attaining, being,. What we strive for shows what we value; we back our shraddha with our time, our energy, our very lives."
- The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran

It reminds me of a student, who later became a friend and mentor of mine. A woman of over 60 years and still as young and vivacious as ever, told me, "Laruga, it almost doesn't matter what you surrender to, as long as you do." Letting go to it all, and riding the wave of devotion brings with it unexpected, luminous gifts. To this day, I still contemplate all that it means. To allow the movement of my heart to lead the way no matter what the external world says, is a dynamic that requires trust, that where I stand, and where I'm going, and what moves me to my very core, should, and will, define my life. I need only listen and be aware of my internal light. A light I have one too many times ignored, and in the end always return to. Nothing else has given me comfort in this knowing. And, when I let go, and allow the knowing and living to join, not much gets better than that. Not much at all.

"Like our thinking, therefore - like we ourselves - shraddha evolves. The purpose of karma is to teach the consequences of shraddha, so that by trial and error, life after life, the individual soul acquires the kind of faith that lead to fulfillment of life's supreme goal. Krishna explains the dynamics:
When a person is devoted to something with complete faith, I unify his faith in that. Then, when faith is completely unified, one gains the object of devotion. In this way, every desire is fulfilled by me. (7:21-22)
- The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran


 "How do you recognize an awakening of MIND? When you no longer rely on your thoughts to tell you anything about your true Self. How do you recognize an awakening of HEART? When you no longer rely on your feelings to tell you anything about your essential Self. How do you recognize an awakening of GUT? When you no longer rely on your fears, your survival instincts, to tell you anything about your natural Self." 

- Adyashanti

Adventures Inside H&M


You'd have to be living under a rock to not know H&M. Yes. The wildly popular Swedish retailer born in Stockholm. I had always heard of H&M, previously. They are all over America now, well, all over the world, however, I had never shopped there. Not for any particular reason, it's just that H&M and I had never crossed paths. Oh wait. I did step inside one in San Francisco.  A really big store, which seemed a bit overwhelming. I lasted only several minutes.

Living in Stockholm, H&M screams out at me. In the center of the city, in one city block alone, there are four to five stand alone stores. Big ones too, along with the corporate offices. You'd think with that many stores in close vicinity they wouldn't be crowded, teaming with aggressive shoppers. WRONG. It doesn't seem to matter.

When I walk into one of the many of H&M stores in Stockholm it's like walking into the lion's den. I literally have to give myself a pep talk before I enter. There have been days where I was planning on going in and I quickly change my mind because I didn't have the strength. Sad. I know. But, if you aren't hungry enough to shop, you just might get run over be someone, because I have, and it isn't pretty. You think I'm exaggerating? Well, let me just say - I'm not.

I mean, I thought I was strong willed, but there is something about fighting over pairs of leggings that make me go weak. I'm easily intimidated by shoppers who won't let anything stand in their way, even me, looking at a particular item first. Craziness. To the maximum. I've been pushed out of the way as if an after thought. Does anyone know how to say "excuse me" in the joint? Ah-em, I mean ursäkta mig. It doesn't seem to be in the vocabulary, and I've got bruises to prove it, lol.

Weekly Round Up


No matter what stage I find myself in my practice, Fridays are for Primary Series, and Sundays are dedicated for Intermediate. I especially like the feeling of coming full circle on Fridays, ending with Primary. There is something absolutely satisfying about it. Then, after having Saturday off, diving into Intermediate to kick of the week sets the pace for what is up ahead. It's feels good, and necessary to follow this routine, though challenging at the same time. Going through a set cycle is an awesome access point for self observation.

Practice today, felt good, though I was a bit tired. Lately, maintaining the drishte has really started to deepen. I'm getting a sense of how not only do we move the energy or prana internally through the bandhas but also through the gaze with intent and focus, especially during vinyasa. It's all connected.

Tonight is my liver/gallbladder flush session. Yes, I'm doing another one - it's all about maintenance. The seasons seem to be shifting in Stockholm. It's already feeling like Fall. A bit early for my taste. Blah.There is no better time to do a cleanse than during the change of seasons. Our bodies naturally crave this. One reason why people often get sick during season shifts. I've quoted it many times before but the book I follow for the cleanse is The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse: An All-Natural, At-Home Flush to Purify and Rejuvenate Your Body, by Andreas Moritz, who has an informative website and blog, by the way. Check it out. He's on facebook too and really says some interesting things.

This week I was alerted to the fact Tim Miller started a blog. For those of you who may not know, I'm a huge fan of Timiji. There is so much embedded within him after over 30 years of continuous practice. He's a gem to all practicing Ashtanga yoga. A true gem. I was a bit confused because it seems he has two blogs. One where he talks of personal accounts and another that is more informational in nature. Either way, I'm loving that he's putting himself out there so candidly, and sincerely. Below are the links. I especially like his post describing what he was going through internally following Guruji's passing.

Tim Miller blog
"Dust" - By Tim Miller

I extracted the following poem from Tim's second blog, as well. I couldn't help it. One thing I remember about his workshops is that he always had the most perfect reading excerpts to share with the group. This is no exception.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend! Enjoy.

The Feast of the Epiphany
Peace Be unto Thee,  Stranger
Peace be unto thee,  stranger,  enter and be not afraid.
I have left the gate open and thou art welcome to my home.
There is room in my house for all.
I have swept the hearth and lighted the fire.
The room is warm and cheerful and you will find comfort and rest within.
The table is laid and the fruits of Life are spread before thee.
The wine is here also, it sparkles in the light.
I have set a chair for you where the sunbeams dance through the shade.
Sit and rest and refresh your soul.
Eat of the fruit and drink of the wine.
All, all is yours, and you are welcome.

  -Ernest Holmes

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