30 July 2009

remember to live

The deaths of two people I never met inspired this post.

Yesterday a man and his dog were killed by a drunk driver one block away from my house. Not even one block away. I wasn't home when it happened but I am sure I would have heard the crash and the neighbors' screams and the police because this is a very quiet neighborhood. The truth is that it could have just as easily been me because I also walk in the morning on the street where he was killed. Yesterday morning I did not.

A 57 year old man was walking his dog around 6:30 AM. A drunk driver was speeding, left the road, struck mailboxes, and then hit the man and his dog. He then went back on the street and hit an SUV, pushing it into a front yard. He got out and tried to run away. He was charged with aggravated driving under the influence, reckless homicide, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, driving on a revoked license, and failure to give information or aid.

Today my husband attended the wake of the husband of one of his employees. The man was undergoing chemotherapy after a cancer operation and after leaving the hospital after his treatment, he was walking across the parking lot to his car and literally dropped dead. He was 41 years old. My husband stood in line for 90 minutes at the funeral home because there were so many people waiting to pay their respects.

Incidents such as these always make me question how people live their lives. I always tell my husband to live each day as if it will be his last. I try to follow my own advice and after being on this yogic and spiritual path for quite some time, the little things just don't bother me anymore. The clothes get folded when they get folded, the dishes get done when they get done. Sometimes even the bigger things just don't phase me anymore.

People come to my classes totally stressed about one thing or the other and sometimes I throw the question out there: how would you live if you knew you only had one more hour to live? What good does all that attachment to the past and fear of the future do for you now? If you knew you only had one more hour to live I guarantee you that you would start cherishing each moment and each breath. I challenge you: visualize it, really feel it in your bones -- what would it be like to know you will be dead at the end of an hour?

Contemplating death is an important aspect of Buddhism, yet fear of death is a major fear for most people. It is said that all our fears in life stem from our fear of death. Buddha said that death is certain but the time of death is uncertain. When we allow this reality to become conscious, it jolts us awake to life's juiciness and heightens our awareness of the beauty and uniqueness of everything.

So why can't you live as if you were dying? Our delusion is that we live as if we will never die.

It's a physics fact that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. As a Buddhist I believe that it follows from that fact that what is never born can never die. I heard the Dalai Lama say that "what is never born can never die" in a teaching on dependent origination.

My body will die, but what makes me me will never die -- my life energy, my prana, my chi, my soul, my spirit, or whatever you want to call it, will continue on. Fully realizing that was liberation. I no longer fear death or dying. That realization helps me to truly enjoy life, every living, breathing present moment, the good AND the bad. I am as equally grateful for the bad as I am for the good.

It has made me fear-less.

How will you remember to live?

27 July 2009

you know you miss India when....

While this blog has been shut down until further notice, I am slowly moving my posts about India that I've written since 2005 to my all-India blog, MA INDIA, MY INDIA.

Please visit to read my past India stories and those in the future -- I know you can't wait to read about those dead goats and naked Shiva babas....


25 July 2009


Brenda left a comment on my Facebook page that maybe the Commenter Who Shall Remain Nameless is using reverse psychology to keep me on the air, to get me mad enough to keep me around.

Since my last post, the contributor in question to the Sadhana Bliss Chicago blog has made their Blogger profile unavailable and has changed their name to "fooled you" as if that in some way absolves him or her. You can form your own opinion about that.

I am shocked (in a good way) but heartened that two bloggers took up my cause, so to speak. Brooks wrote in her blog Yoga, the Mind and Culture:

"What provoked me to write about this is a comment she received about her announcement. It starts out like this: “would that you could go quietly into the night, but that would be too much for you to manage, wouldn't it? at least you're GOING.”

I am so saddened and shocked by this comment. Using a metaphor for dying quietly is just so hurtful and wrong to receive..."

...and AnthroYogini in Australia who went on to comment that it's "cyberbullying by adults who should know better. I'm sick of people hiding behind their ISPs and typing nasty shit they'd never have the balls to say to your face."

A blog troll is a troll is a troll so let's not feed the trolls. They always come back to see what kind of a rise they got out of of the blogger. They lurk around, always reading the same post or comments to that post. And you know they keep coming around because you can tell by your site meter (and you also know where they live.) In actuality I probably should not have published the comment or written about it because doing that is exactly what the troll wants, but I felt that enough was enough, it was time to bring that type of activity out into daylight especially because it was in the yoga blogosphere.

Both I and this blog are acquired tastes so if you don't like my style or my voice, don't read. Simple. But for those of you who do like the spice, I will continue my "cathartic musings and occasional rants about my trips to India to study my heart's passion, and my sweet adventures along the yoga path" albeit not as frequently. Only when the muse calls. I am concentrating on my upcoming trip to India and Africa.

Since I don't want the last post for a long time to end on a sour note, I leave you with some good notes from one of my favorite musicians (and true yogi) Alice Coltrane. Enjoy.

23 July 2009

"yogis" such as these

"zydeco chacha" left this lovely comment on this post. I left it in the comments section so you could see that I did not make this up and so you could click the name to go to the blog she/he writes for:

"would that you could go quietly into the night, but that would be too much for you to manage, wouldn't it? at least you're GOING. one less chunk of bitchiness in the virtual yoga world; for that many of us are extremely grateful."

This delightful person writes for the Sadhana Bliss Chicago blog. The other contributors are Nirvair Kaur, Gina, Dukh Niwaran Kaur, and Balprem Kaur, and you can see a photo of all five on their blog (I assume this a photo of the contributors but who knows?) The blog is apparently the "Teacher Training Sadhana Blog" of the Spirit Rising studio, a Kundalini yoga studio in Chicago. The irony is that a few years ago I was given the name Narayan Kaur by the 3HO Foundation in New Mexico.

Oh, those wacky Kundalini Kids! Instead of upsetting me, I thought the comment hilarious. First, can you imagine someone leaving their name that can so easily be traced AND a photo of themselves (assuming the blog photo is of the contributors)? Second, the mind reels at the psychology of the person who would call themselves a "yogi" and write such a comment on someone's blog. Spirit Rising Yoga actually offers "yoga-based psychotherapy."

But on further reflection, it's really rather sad. Really makes you wonder about intention. It's obvious that the comment was written to hurt. And why would someone who doesn't know me and has never met me want to hurt me via leaving a nasty comment on a blog? What is inside the mind of that person to want to do that, what is their motivation? Just pure unadulterated nastiness? Just to feed their ego?

It begs the question, if you don't like what I write or how I write, then why read this blog at all? I don't go to your house and shit in your yard so why do you think you can shit in mine?

Irony sure as hell rules. I read this comment after I got home from doing my seva, my karma yoga, teaching yoga and meditation to the Hispanic women's group at the domestic violence shelter. This yoga bitch has been doing that for 7+ years now. What's that saying about no good deed goes unpunished?

I guess you just can't please everyone.

I don't know if zydeco chacha is a teacher, but think of a teacher sitting in front of a yoga class spouting peace and love and lightness and brightness, Sat Nam!, and then running home and leaving nastiness on a blog. A bit of a disconnect wouldn't you say?

Hmmmmmm....sadhana is a "spiritual practice." Apparently Z's personal sadhana is leaving dirt on yoga blogs. I bet Yogi Bhajan wouldn't think too highly of that practice. If he wasn't cremated he's probably spinning in his grave right now.

It makes me wonder whether Z has read the Yoga Sutra-s know, like those pesky yamas and niyamas. Tsk, tsk....I think someone has to stay late after yoga school and write 1000 times on the blackboard "I will not leave nasty comments on yoga blogs...."

Funny that theirs is a teacher training blog. It's nice to know that the Spirit Rising studio is churning out such enlightened communicators. Their Level 2 teacher training is entitled "Conscious Communication - Inspired by the teachings of Yogi Bhajan." Ya think maybe ol' Zydeco flunked that one? Or maybe it was unconscious communication.

Zydeco honey, the Sama never goes quietly, anywhere. In fact, you've inspired me to hang around just to annoy you. Kisses, sweetie.

Dear readers, feel free to leave your comments here or there. There was a website listed on the profile of Dukh Niwaran Kaur, a yoga teacher and massage therapist in Chicago. I emailed her with a link to this post. I will let you know if she responds about her fellow blog contributor's actions.

21 July 2009

taking a long savasana

For what is it to die, but to stand in the sun and melt into the wind? And when the Earth has claimed our limbs, then we shall truly dance.--Kahlil Gibran

Savasana is the dying that brings life so I've decided to slowly fade away. I may post sporadically, I may not. How can I not write about the goat sacrifices at the Kali temple in Kolkata or the naked Shiva babas at the Kumbh Mela next year? I'm bringing yin yoga to Africa next year which will surely be fodder for a yoga blog. But that's next year.

At this juncture I feel written out. I see on my site meter what brings people here and the most searched for phrases are "St. Theresa's Prayer" and some variation of "naked yoga" or "hot yoga chicks." Take your pick. If those are the only reasons people are consistently coming here, have at it. As the author of the book that I mention below writes: "All words are lies. At best, they point toward the truth. At worst they totally mislead and create confusion. We already know everything there is to know..."

For those of you who are interested in more than a dead saint's prayer or a photo of a naked yoga babe -- the juxtaposition of those two images is supreme -- you can start reading at the beginning of this blog. I've been writing since 2005 and I think I've laid down some rather pithy posts along the way, this one in particular being a favorite. Hey, maybe I can get a book deal. Or maybe someone will write my obituary in the yoga blogosphere -- R.I.P oh snarky one, we hardly knew ye.

There have been internal shifts going on for some time now and I'm going to honor them. Shifts with my yogic path, shifts with my relationships with friends and husband, shifts with my relationship to myself. It's all good because life is about change. If you don't evolve, you die, just like the dinosaurs. It's good to step away from things, whatever those things are, and let the chips fall where they may.

I wonder whether in this journey, instead of feeling more connected (as we are told we are "supposed" to feel the longer one does yoga or meditates), a consequence is feeling even more alone or apart from others. Not disconnected, but truly being in the world, but not of it. Sometimes I feel as if I am on a merry-go-round, and the faces of people I know are circling faster and faster away from me, eventually disappearing. They've stopped and I've kept going. As I've always said, people float in and out of our lives at specific times for various reasons and I stopped trying to figure it out long ago. It just is. The holding on (to anything or anyone) is what causes the suffering. My friends, it's time to move on.

I will leave you with some quotes from one of the post potent and powerful books I've read in my 30+ years of being on a spiritual path: Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi , a book I learned about on AnthroYogini's blog. If I had my own teacher training, this book would absolutely be on the required reading list. There are so many passages that I have underlined and highlighted, that if I cited all of them I would rewrite his entire book in this post. So I will just cite some sentences that have meaning to me right now, in my present experience.

"To undertake a spiritual quest as a defense mechanism against pain without addressing the underlying psychological issues will always lead to a deep splitting of one's psyche." (p. 19)

"In my own experience, every teacher I have had had been a perfect mirror of myself at that time....every new partner is an uncanny reflection of our subconscious needs and issues. ...I also learned that fully enlightened teachers who have worked through their personality distortions are incredibly rare." (p. 22)

"The important thing now is to do the work, to prepare the internal vessel for whatever truths may enter. Think of this as a process of simplification, not sophistication." (p. 23)

"Spirituality is a process of dying, not gaining. This important and obvious point is not often properly acknowledged. The spiritual path is about the death of the needs and wants of an insatiable ego and its endless cycle of desire, acquisition, suffering and renewed hunger." (p. 16)

"Grace is not a product of our willful volition but something that appears in spite of it. One of our ego's false presumptions is that it can lead us toward grace instead of understanding that we are already swimming in it. We need to let go to feel this -- but that means facing the terror of our best-kept secret: that we are not in control." (p. 74)

"I do know that to live fully we have to practice dying while still alive. Meditation is this practice. I invite you to practice daily, letting go of who you think you are and being born into who have you have always been." (p. 96)

I am going to practice dying.


13 July 2009

your yoga adventure in Africa!

It’s not too early to start planning for your YOGA ADVENTURE IN ARUSHA, TANZANIA, February 26-27-28, 2010!


Friday night: Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation (90 minutes)

Saturday morning: Yin + Yang practice + meditation (2.5 hours)

Saturday late afternoon/evening: Yin practice + meditation (2 hours)

Saturday night dharma talk:

Buddha’s Four Foundations of Mindfulness as they apply to your yoga practice

Sunday: same schedule as Saturday


We will explore both practices of passive (yin) and active (yang) yoga. Yin yoga consists of long-held poses (3-5 minutes) focusing on the connective tissue of the hips, pelvis, and spine. We will passively stretch the tendons and ligaments in order to unblock and distribute chi (prana) throughout the meridians (nadis), clearing blockages, and helping to balance our organ and meridian systems for our general health. This powerful practice opens your body and enlivens your mind for meditation. A slow flow vinyasa class follows the yin practice visiting the poses that you already love. You will relish the extra space cultivated in the yin poses as you discover a new sense of freedom and grace in yang movement. Recommended for students of all levels with a “beginner’s mind”, and is especially recommended for athletes and all “stiff” yogis! An open mind, rather than an open body, will deepen the experience of this profound and powerful practice.

COST: $1,108.00 (USD)

$108 from every participant will be donated to the SEVA FOUNDATION in Berkeley, California to help support the Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology in Moshi, Tanzania. Please read about Improving Eye Care in Africa. The Seva Foundation will make a hospital tour available on Monday for all interested participants.

The yoga camp will be set up by Mike Peterson of Dorobo Safaris. Dorobo Safaris are considered by many to be the best ecotourism outfit in the safari circuit. Your yoga adventure will take place at Dorobo’s campsite on their land and they will provide tents, shower and toilet facilities and all meals, tea/coffee, beer and wine in the evening. Yoga will be conducted in an open sided shelter in a beautiful Acacia forest. Massage and reiki sessions will also be available at extra cost. Your $1,108.00 covers food, lodging, yoga teaching, and donation to Seva Foundation. Participants will arrive in Arusha and transfer to the Olasiti Camp on Thursday, February 25, 2010. Camp will break the morning of March 1 when two safari options will be available for you on March 2.

Go to Metta Yoga: Mind-Body Education to see complete details about the safari options available and prices, my yoga bio, and testimonials.

Prices listed DO NOT include airfare to Tanzania, Africa.


This is a once in a lifetime yoga experience! Don't miss it!

Can I get the help of my blogger friends to pass this information along to all interested yoga peeps?

Yoga + meditation + buddhadharma + seva: what more could anyone want?