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

Mantra and Meditation

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” -Albert Einstein

There is a Sanskrit saying, “Manana trayate iti mantra.”  Translated, this means mantra is that which saves you from repetitiveness such as worries, fears, habits of thought, the groove your mind slips in to over and over again.  The word mantra itself, in Sanskrit, can be broken down to ‘man’, which means mind, and ‘tra’, which means to free from.  Mantra = tool to free the mind.  Mantra are “sound vibrations that permeate every cell of your being and allow your mind to dissolve and repose.”*  Mantras when spoken aloud, in essence, are energetic sound formulas.  As we repeat the mantra, our energy levels shift, our nervous system slows down, the mind becomes less agitated, less stirred up.

Some mantra chants, such as OM (AUM) contain the essential, root, sound of the Universe.  When chanted, OM vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz, which is the same vibrational frequency found throughout everything in nature!  Other mantras are considered “seed” (bija) soundsand are often used to help clear energy blocks associated with chakras (energy centers) in the body.

This month we will be exploring spoken and silent mantra repetition as part of our meditation practice.  See you on the cushion!

Fridays, 1:30-2:00pm Breathe & Meditation @ Breathe Los Gatos

*Bhanumathi Narasimhan

Anahata (Heart) Meditation

chakras-4-heart

What if we tapped in to and expressed our love for the people in our lives every day–not just on Valentine’s Day?  How different would we feel?  How different would our loved ones feel?  This week we will gently explore our Anahata (heart) Chakra (energy center), through sound using bija mantra (one-syllable seed sounds).  When we work with the heart center we increase our capacity for allowing love to be the center of our lives, we learn to love ourselves, and we learn to forgive.  See you on the cushion!

This Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, 1:30-2:00 pm, Breathe Los Gatos.

Lose Your Expectations

I read somewhere once, “an expectation is a resentment under construction.” That resonated for me deeply. You can never be disappointed if you never have an expectation that something (a person, an event, or experience) will be a certain way. The same thing can be applied to our meditation practice. It isn’t always going to be easy, or restful, or comfortable, or any other way you want it to be. A meditation session will reflect whatever it is in your life that could use attention. Now, sometimes it IS restful or joyful. Enjoy those moments! And, let go of the expectation that it will always be that way. Rather simply sit, practice, and discover what happens.

See you on the cushion, today at 1:30 pm, Breathe Los Gatos!

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Tis the season for giving!  Beyond the material, may we also give our precious time, love, and presence to all who surround us.  Over the next three weeks, we will explore the Metta Sutta, Buddha’s teaching on Universal Loving-Kindness, through the Metta Meditation.

May I be happy.  May I be well.  May I be safe.  May I be peaceful and at ease.

See you on the cushion!  Friday’s, 1:30-200 pm, at Breathe Los Gatos.