31 October 2008

be the change you want to see... the United States.

I used to blog about politics and things non-yoga but I didn't think swearing was appropriate for a yoga blog so I started Ramblings of an Ageless Hippie Chick.

This election is too important to ignore, so please vote on November 4th. don't base your decisions on McPalin's politics of fear. as Dharma Punk Noah Levine says on The Huffington Post, "the causes of suffering and confusion in the form of greed, hatred, and delusion have continued to corrupt the masses and have even crept into the teachings of this revolutionary path."

Go against the stream and be the revolution.

Be the change that you want to see in the world -- Mohandas Gandhi

(Liberate these bumper stickers and place them on your blog or website.)

29 October 2008

thanks to Liberality!

A humble thanks to Liberality who bestowed this award upon this little ol' yoga blog. Lib said:

"I want to pass this award to that wonderful yoga teacher Linda Sama at Linda's Yoga Journey for her wonderful work in bringing Yoga to the blog world. We need more people like you on the blogosphere is all I gotta say."

Lib describes herself as a "wild hippy who has sworn off eating animals and who has reproduced a couple of times. I work with books which I love to read. I work with people and I try to be tolerant as much as possible. I spend way too much time reading other people's blogs but hey, everyone has to has some sort of vice."

Visit her blog because she has great links on people she admires like the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King, Jr.; news links like Democracy Now and NPR; feminist links and health links, among many others.

Thanks, Lib! You're a sister of a different mother and if you're ever in my neck of the woods you get a free yoga class!

I'm passing this award on to bindifry's itty bitty brain basket because she's a true yogini and a passionate yoga teacher who also tells it like it is -- hey, some of us have to do that in the yoga blogosphere. bindi writes about "yoga, travel, music, food, and often things asian."

You can read about the karma yoga (volunteer work) that bindi wants to do in Rwanda here and she still needs donations -- every little $1 helps.


24 October 2008

be here now

Mike always has the best posts in his blog Silent Musings -- short, pithy, and exceedingly on point about spirituality. I found myself laughing in agreement at his description of riding the Los Angeles commuter train -- in my previous life as a legal assistant I rode the train to downtown Chicago everyday and also learned to laugh at the floor. because there's no where else to be but here.

just this, just here, just now.

every time I return from India people stare at me in disbelief at some of my stories about, shall we say, the less touristy aspects of India that I deal with on a daily basis when I'm there -- the legless beggars, the starving dogs, begging children pulling on my clothes. "how can you stand it?," they ask.

easy. I laugh at the floor. as Mike wrote, I find the profound beauty in the Indian floor beneath my feet and know how foolish I would be to think that it should be anything other than what it is.

I received an email today from a friend who is in Varanasi and she said that she watched a man standing in the Ganges, washing up for the day and brushing his teeth....about 5 feet away from him was a corpse and a dead cow.

just this, just here, just now.

Mike says:

"Surrender means giving up the pursuit and accepting, done to the bone, that you’ll never get anything from meditation or any other spiritual practice, other than being right here exactly where you already are. Mundane, of the world, form is emptiness, and emptiness is form. If you actually give up, and aren’t just fantasizing about surrender, you may find a profound beauty in the simplicity of the floor beneath your feet. And perhaps you will find yourself laughing/crying, as the floor laughs back at you for the foolishness of all those years of seeking."

As yoga practitioners and meditators we run from one form or style to another, always seeking, never stopping. there's nothing inherently "wrong" with searching and seeking, I've done plenty of it myself. but there comes a time when you need to know when to stop and to just be with what you already are. perfect. we are already in the place where we need to be and all our healing comes from within. if you don't have your answers, maybe you're not asking the right questions, because we already have all the answers we need. search deeper -- we only need to listen to them when they arise within us but that's the problem -- we don't listen to and believe our true voices and we continue our search for the next best thing until we fall down, exhausted, and surrender everything to the Universe.

only then do we realize we are perfect, just the way we are.

"It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort, or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking. One must step out of spiritual materialism. If we do not step out of spiritual materialism, if we in fact practice it, then we may eventually find ourselves possessed of a huge collection of spiritual paths. We may feel these spiritual collections to be very precious. We have studied so much. We may have studied Western philosophy or Oriental philosophy, practiced yoga, or perhaps have studied under dozens of great masters. We have achieved and we have learned. We believe that we have accumulated a hoard of knowledge. And yet, having gone through all this, there is still something to give up. It is extremely mysterious! How could this happen? Impossible! But unfortunately it is so. Our vast collections of knowledge and experience are just part of ego’s display, part of the grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in doing so, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as “spiritual” people."
--Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

jai bhagwan

21 October 2008

the color purple

blog quizes are fun...and sometimes right-on.

You Are Grape

You are bold and a true individual. You are very different and very okay with that.

People know you as a straight shooter. You're very honest, even when the truth hurts.

You are also very grounded and practical. No one is going to sneak anything by you.

People enjoy your fresh approach to life. And it's this honesty that makes you a very innovative person.

I think my friends would agree with this...

20 October 2008

top 100 yoga and meditation blogs

I'll never know how I ended up being described as a yoga guru on a website about x-ray technician schools, but I'll take it. somehow this blog ended up on the Top 100 Yoga and Meditation Blogs list, a list that compiled "the most popular and/or unique blogs. . .what we feel are the top 100 yoga and meditation blogs..." I'm in good company as the list contains many of the yoga blogs that I read regularly.

Thanks to Sarah Scrafford and the X-Ray Vision-aries Blog!

18 October 2008

old beliefs must die for new truths to be revealed

SAMVEGA: Yoga Sutra-s 1.21
"a sense of urgency or immediacy to the will to awaken"

"Know who you really are or you are lost."
--Bhagavad Gita


considering the transformative experience I had in my training....interesting.

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

"be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter."
--Dr. Seuss

(now who else do you know would quote Patanjali, the Gita, and Dr. Seuss all at the same time?)

17 October 2008

a mile wide and an inch deep

I have to give Judith Lasater a big AMEN about her comments about yoga in the latest Yoga Journal.

On the last page (and it seems that YJ always puts the "old" yogis on the last page...hmmmmmm....), when asked the question, "what do you think of yoga's evolution in the United States?", Judith said:

"It seems a mile wide and an inch deep. I mourn the fact that many people in the United States know about asana just as a way of working out. To me, that's not what yoga is. It can lead to deeper personal transformation."

Thanks, Judith. I've been saying that for the three years I've been writing this blog, just click on the tag "Americanized yoga."

When she was asked, "what lessons can you share about what you've learned?", Judith said, among other things:

"Follow your nature. The practice is really about uncovering your own pose; we have great respect for our teachers, but unless we can uncover our own pose in the moment, it's not practice -- it's mimicry...".

Kudos to you, Judith. when I used the word "mimic" in this post, a commenter wrote me to say how dare I say that yoga students merely mimic their teachers. uh, yeah you do, each time your mind is out there instead of in your body...each time you are disembodied and not embodied...and each time you are not "in the moment" as Judith said. I've told my students many times, don't look up here, look within.

Maybe Judith Lasater and I aren't so far apart after all....maybe Yoga Journal should interview moi. or maybe I should write for Yoga 'bout it, editors? I need another job because the yoga studio where I teach is closing at the end of the year.

16 October 2008

existential yoga

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

Albert Camus

15 October 2008

yoga healing, yoga journey

When one goes through a transformative experience, whatever it is, I believe that the shadows of our lives come forward like hungry children staring through a restaurant window, waiting to be acknowledged and given sustenance. I believe these hidden but never forgotten experiences are what cook us, and we can choose to allow them to either teach us or kill us. I will not say yet which yoga therapy training I did (maybe some of you can figure it out) because it is still cooking me, but in all my years of yoga, it was by far the most potent, profound, and transformative experience I've had, even compared to my India training, and this was only Level 1.

It confirmed and validated for me what I already knew, but maybe don't listen to as much as I should: that I am not "just a yoga teacher", but am a teacher of the dharma and holistic science. I feel like I've been energized, that my intuition and energy (my kundalini) has risen exponentially. all day yesterday it felt like there was a little energy engine inside me that was going full blast -- I had a vision of a cartoon engine held together with spit and baling wire, pumping pumping pumping almost to the point of exploding, the pistons almost popping out of the top.

the training also confirmed what my personal life Path (other than yoga) should be.

For four days we partnered up and worked on each other, learning certain postures, where to place our hands, etc. and the last session on the last day was the icing on the cake for me. my partner sat back and said "you have a true gift." he told me how when I placed my hands on his heartspace, front and back, my energy felt like an "electric wire" going through him. he said "you've probably heard this all before." I must say that when I've heard talk like that before it always made me deny myself, that maybe I did not deserve to hear things like that.

I will never again deny my truth.

I told him yes, that I've heard it all before, but that usually with most people it translates to my just being "weird", not "healing". for most of my life many people actually can not handle being in close proximity to me (and it's not because I don't take a shower! :)) I've been told that my energy enters a room first and it takes a secure, strong person not to be intimidated. after she did my natal chart, my own astrologer told me that 10 years ago she would not have been able to have me as a client, my energy would have overwhelmed her, but her own spiritual path has cooked her to her essence. this is why I stopped doing thai yoga massage. the images that the energy in my hands brought to my mind's eye were too frightening for me, and I had enough of my own demons -- but not any more.

This training again confirmed for me that asana is such a small part of yoga, yet here in this culture yoga has become purely asana based. as yoga teachers we come to our classes with a "fixer" mentality, some teachers enjoying how many adjustments they can give their students instead of allowing them to just "be" and to go inward and feel what is going on (I'm referring to the style of yoga I teach, vinyasa.) in this training, we had to let go of the fixer mentality in order to allow the student/client to heal themselves.

The training also reinforced what I already knew: that a meditation practice is an essential component of an asana practice. speaking only for myself, yoga is not yoga without a meditation practice. the teachings in this training were firmly grounded in Buddha's Four Foundations of Mindfulness. if we can not master our own minds, how can we master anything?

we don't do yoga -- yoga does us.

I truly feel called to continue with this training, but timing is everything. I don't think I can do Level 2 in early 2009 so I am planning for June....and Shiva/Buddha/Kali willing I will live for two months in an ashram in South India one year from now studying yoga therapy with a swami. I think that also will be icing on the energy cake for me and will add to my yoga therapy toolbox. half of this training class said they were jumping right in to finish their training as soon as possible, but I will wait to let it all digest, because in March-April 2010 I will return to India for the Kumbh Mela, the largest spiritual gathering in the Universe. there is much to be said for the power of place and Ma India is my healer.

It is said that the only difference between us and the ancient sages and yogi rishis is that we have forgotten we are divine, they did not.

I will never again disavow myself.

"In ancient Egyptian mythology and in myths derived from it, the Phoenix is a female mythical sacred firebird with beautiful gold and red plumage. Said to live for 500 or 1461 years (depending on the source), at the end of its life-cycle the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises. The new phoenix embalms the ashes of the old phoenix in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in Heliopolis ("the city of the sun" in Greek), located in Egypt. The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible - a symbol of fire and divinity."



The Keys to Your Life

Anything good in your life comes from boldly confronting the darkness.
Illusions are dangerous, and you benefit from seeing the world as it truly is.

Anything bad in your life comes from not being true to yourself.
Trust your instincts and follow them. Only you know what's best.

14 October 2008

words of note

Sent to me by a faithful reader....

"The reason we do this practice is to develop a heart that is ready for anything."
- Sayadaw U. Pandia

"You are not your fault"
- Wes Nisker

and a yoga poem....

Breath of Life

I breathe in All That Is—
Awareness expanding
to take everything in,
as if my heart beats
the world into being.

From the unnamed
vastness beneath the
mind, I breathe my
way to wholeness
and healing.

Inhalation. Exhalation.
Each breath a "yes,"
and a letting go,
a journey, and a
coming home.

(Poet: Danna Faulds)

more later on the most potent, profound, and transformational yoga training I've done in all my years of yoga...