How does your garden grow?

Sunrise prayers and blessings to be offered on the Ganges.  Varanasi, India.

 

Namaste my fellow yogi/yoginis!

It has been a little over a week since I returned from India.   And, what a week it has been!  Jet lag, a head full of thoughts at 3:00am in the morning, and deep and tender silences that linger in my heart.  India has a very certain way of challenging body, mind, and soul.

The number one question I have received since returning home–“So, how was your trip?”  My responses each time I have been asked have all been some succinct variation of “good.”   “Good” does not even begin to cover it!  If forced to sum it up in one word, intense is what comes to mind.   There exists within me, at the moment, a certain amount of cradling as if I am in a state of processing before ripening.  And so, I look forward to slowly sharing some of my experiences with you–as they unfold–during the coming weeks and months.

In just the short time I have been home, I have begun considering retiring from something that I have been doing for 30+ years!  Almost a scary thought, but it also carries a sense of relief.  Change is inevitable, and my interests have been evolving and shifting.  By letting something old and tired go, I make space for possibility!

The seeds of change have been sown.  Now is the time to water them, and watch them ripen.  This month we will touch on and contemplate our relationship with money, being in service to others, and our purpose in life. How would we describe right-livelihood?  Who are we giving our time, money, or love to; and are we doing it appropriately? Why do we make the choices we do?

One way to do such contemplating on your own is with daily meditation, taking walks in nature, journaling, prayer, or simply resting quietly, even if only for five minutes.  This precious and dedicated time, unplugged from distractions, helps settle the mind and is extremely helpful when considering the important questions in our lives.  How much time, daily or weekly, can you commit to watering the seeds of change?

See you on the mat!

The Heart of the Matter

Namaste my fellow yogi/yoginis!

“Love was born first, the gods cannot reach it, or the spirits, or men…Far as heaven and earth extend, far as the waters go, high as the fire burns, you are greater, love!  The wind cannot reach you, nor the fire, nor the sun, nor the moon:  You are greater than them all, love!”
–Atharva Veda 9.2.19

This month we focus on our center of peace, the still center point of our energetic body–the Anahata (Heart) Chakra.  This peaceful, loving, compassionate energy is reflected by the Golden Rule:  Treat others as you would wish to be treated.  Love yourself, as well as your neighbors.  What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself.   Where in your life are you being less than any of this towards either yourself, or others?

The element associated with the Anahata Chakra is air.  Air is most commonly associated with expansive knowledge, openness and spaciousness, freedom to breath and a sense of lightness.  This love is empathic, compassionate, and is experienced within us as a state of being which is not based on need or desire.  We will work with prana (breath), back bends, and chest openers to help us connect with some of these elements.

For your meditation practice, I offer you the seed (bija) sound for the Anahata (Heart) Chakra:  Lam.  Repeat this seed sound silently to yourself as you gently follow the rise and fall of your breath with your attention.  You might also envision a green, glowing light centered in your chest.  Feel this essence of compassion, drawing it in on the inhale, and radiating it out on the exhale.  

An interesting side note:  The translation of Anahata from Sanskrit is “sound that is made without any two things striking.

A couple updates to my teaching schedule:

1)  I have stepped out of the Saturday morning Vinyasa class rotation at the Palo Alto Family YMCA.  The class will continue to be taught by the remaining teachers on a rotational basis.  Check the online schedule at: http://www.ymcasv.org/paloalto/html/downloads.html

2) The Friday Breath & Meditation class at Breathe Together Yoga is at a new time:  2:30-3:00pm beginning Feb. 17th.

See you on the  mat!

 

Countering Stress & Anxiety

Almost a month ago, I received a call that no one likes to get–my mother had fallen while walking her dog and broken her hip.  I spent a moment in disbelief, before quietly shifting my attention to breath awareness and calmly beginning the process of making phone calls and preparing to make the trip up to Oregon where she lives.  Thus began two weeks of immersion in seva (सेवा), taking care of my mother as she navigates her recovery from a hip fracture.

The holiday season alone can be stressful, without the added pressure of worry for a loved one.   My meditation practice has been essential in helping me handle my anxiety and stress during the initial weeks of her healing.   As such, I would like to share with you a podcast meditation by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.  My primary meditation training has been with Mingyur Rinpoche’s ‘Joy of Living’ program.   This particular guided meditation gives you a taste of Tibetan Buddhism meditation practices.

Find the podcast here:  https://www.mindpodnetwork.com/guided-meditation-body-space-awareness-yongey-mingyur-rinpoche/

For more information on Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and the ‘Joy of Living’ program:  http://tergar.org/programs/what-is-the-joy-of-living/

See you on the mat!

Meditation Myths & Truths

Truth.  No one type of meditation is better than another.  What matters most is consistent, persistent practice of a method that feels right to you.  We will be practicing consistency today, 2:00-2:30pm at Breathe Los Gatos.  See you on the cushion!

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/3-myths-about-meditationand-the-truth?utm_campaign=Weekly+Newsletter&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=32798269&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9Dx_s7Oh_Q-UtMXlxtezt6nrzvMwLh14Ofd_Lva_I8wRswj_A5YBMx2DjMyMZ5JIXWWc1EFyNQ0COSo-wDeOi077EIesHQokeoImRBKDtoEoCE7Uo&_hsmi=32798269

The Essential Breath

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras outlines an eight limbed path to self-realization, or enlightenment, called ashtanga.  Ashtanga translates literally to eight (ashta) limb (anga).  Pranayama, or breath control, is the fourth limb, and one of the key components to both asana practice (the third limb) and meditation (dhyana, the seventh limb).  Breath both carries and sustains us during asana practice, and provides an anchor for meditation.  Pausing and paying attention to our breath is also very useful in everyday life, helping us to respond rather than react when encountering stressors.  Join me this week for dedicated pranayama practice, along with meditation, at our new time:  Breath & Meditation, 2:00pm, Fridays, Breathe Los Gatos.

P.S.  This video gives a beautiful explanation of the science behind breathing and its affect on the nervous system.

Watch ‘The Science of Breathing’

Breath Science

We do it every day, every moment of every hour in a day, and usually with very little thought devoted to it.  Breathing.  Inhaling and exhaling.  Simple and autonomous, and yet so much more.  B. K. S. Iyengar wrote that prāna is “breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy, or strength.”  Prānāyāma is essentially the science of breathing.  Body and mind, breath and mind, are inextricably linked together.  When we work with our breath, we directly affect and influence the physiology of the body.  Steady, even inhalations and exhalations help balance and regulate the nervous system.  Longer exhalations shift the body in to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is calming and soothing to the body (think slowing down of the heartbeat).

As the body calms, desire diminishes and the mind settles.  This is why in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, prānāyāma is described as a precursor to concentration.  Concentration is one of the core precepts of meditation.  With a calm mind, meditation becomes effortless instead of a struggle.  Then we can begin the work of sifting through the layers of “stuff”–thoughts, feelings, memories, emotions, boredom, the endless play of life–until we reach Source.

Beginning this week and continuing through the year, we will be learning and practicing a series of prānāyāma techniques as an integral part of our meditation practice.  Join me every Friday, 1:30-2:00pm, Breath & Meditation, Breathe Los Gatos. http://breathelosgatos.com