Friday, August 31, 2012

Explore Energy with Yoga

With the Zoga Yoga teacher training coming to a close yoga aspirants are left energized and vulnerable.  What to do with all this information.  Will we maintain the same energy? Many yoga students are commonly using the term energy.  Students dive into awareness of Koshas (5 energy bodies or ananmaya - food, pranamaya - life force, manomaya - mind, vijnamaya- mind, and anandamaya - bliss), the Shariras (3 energy bodies/sheaths of Shtula/physical body, Sukshma/subtle body, Karana/causal body) auric energy fields, Purusha (creative shiva shakti consciousness), Prakriti (energy of nature, shakti energy to assess in ayurveda), Kleshas (5 obstacles of Avidya/ignorance, Asmita/ego reliance, Raga/attachment, Dvesha/aversion, Avhinevesha/fear of death), energy of their body, energy of others, energy of crystals, vibrational energy of OM, and with time and practice students become more aware of energy.  Energy is physics and basically breaks down as a force traveling through space or distance.

With kinetic energy we have seen Einstein break it down to: E=Mc2
(the amount of energy is directly proportioned to the mass of body)
E = the rest mass energy
M = the mass
C = the speed of light

The system of Bioenergetics studies energy in the body where the chemical energy of (fats & carbohydrates) metabolises to form chemical waste and heat.

People who have deep meditation practice, really live the 8 Limbs of yoga, and also those who have used psycadelic drugs have experienced the visual dimensions of atoms, molecules, colors, shapes, and particle physics that makes up this world, that show us we and everything in this Universe are all particles in vibration.  But what is this energy they talk about in yoga?  The energy of the subtle body, the energy of prana?  Well Prana being life force energy, when regulated or restained (yama) forms pranayama or regulation of breath.  This breath gives life force energy.

When we send it to all the Chakras (subtle energy vortex's), we get a situation where our Chakras are balanced or stimulated.  This can happen in asana practice, with food, sound vibration, fragrance, mantra.  Again, another chance for the E=Mc2 theory to be put into practice.

A few years ago a group of scientists in Japan put a dying man in a controlled environment.  The man and everything in the room was weighed.  Every possible variable of moisture or oxygen was accounted for.  When he died 28grams were not accounted for.  This is the ounce of life force energy that keeps us alive.  The energy that exists beyond our back pain, or broken heart.  This is the energy of life that evolves in our yoga practice.

This is the Life Force Energy that the Yogis spoke about in the Vedas.  The energy that when taped into we can calm the vrittis (our emotional tendencies or psycho physical propensities), heal our samskaras (the imprints left on the subconscious mind from experience), and find nirodha or nirvana (a place where all suffering ceases). 

When we explore Yoga Sutra 1:2 Chitta Vritti Nirodaha which illuminates the ultimate goal of the practice as "cessation of the mind stuff"

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥२॥
yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ ||2||
When you are in a state of yoga, all misconceptions (vrittis) 
that can exist in the mutable aspect of human beings (chitta) disappear. ||2||

Next time we step on our yoga mat, see if we can explore our body and feel that energy as it moves through the veins, through the organs, through the bones and through our breath.  Perhaps in meditation, listen to the breath, count the breath until all thoughts unite and only breath exists.  Then when escaping into the dreamless sleep of Savasana, can we calm the mind stuff?  or are we thinking of recipes and laundry?  If so, no judgement just keep practicing.  But if we can calm the mind, still the body doing a scan of 61 points, and without sleeping, witness the stillness of energy, we become a witness to life force.  This is when transformation happens, rebirth, and evolution with the awareness of the power of energy that exists within.

I am so grateful to have been part of this exchange of energy and transformational experience.  Maintain gratitude and allow love and light to be your guide on this journey of energy.  Namaste

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Life is Sweet

Life is sweet when we make it sweet.  When we make conscious choices and active steps to better health and happiness, our world as we know it changes.  In Ayurveda, we explore the importance of dietary habits, eating foods that explore the 6 tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent.  While we benefit from eating sweet because of its connection to the elements of Water & Earth which help to nourish our blood plasma, muscles, bone marrow, and reproductive fluids, the suggested Ayurveda sweets include milk, fruits, grains, legumes, and veggies but never any mention to refined sugar.

When we suggest sweet, it does not mean sugar, especially refined sugar.  Our body will convert starches into sugar (glucose), our fruits are converted into sugar (fructose), and this acts as fuel for the body.  We have to be careful how we consume our foods as well because certain combinations can cause excess gas or an acidic feeling in the tummy.  With the growing rate of diabetes in North America we have to be mindful of the Sugar consumption that we allow into our dietary habits.  The reality is excess sugar (or the common sugar filled diet of an average American) can lead to many problems in the body including: Diabetes, Obesity, Aching Limbs, Hypertension, Depression, Acne, Skin irritation, headaches, stiff arteries, fatigue, and hyper acidity of the blood which can promote many different diseases including cancer.  According to brain scans Sugar is as addictive as cocaine.

Some Interesting Facts:
  • 1n 1822, in 5 days, the average American consumed 45Grams of Sugar (amount in todays 12oz soda)
  • TODAY, in 5 days, the average American consumes 75Grams of Sugar (amount in 17, 12oz cans of soda)
  • In one year, 130 LBS of Sugar is consumed
  • The average American who consumes a approximately 3LBS of Sugar in 1 Week = 3,550LBS in a lifetime = 1,767,900 skittles candies
A nice we to begin the day is warm cup of water with lemon, this "breaks the fast", alkalizes the tummy, supress the appetite so we don't overeat, and gets us ready to have food.  The latest Zoga Yoga Teacher Training has ayurveda cooking classes and our breakfast is a typical South Indian Favorite called Uppama (Cream of wheat, onions, mustard seeds, raisins, cashews), this was my childhood favorite.  An afternoon smoothie of Banana, Strawberry, Coconut Almond Milk, Cardomom for digestion and some Cacao.  Ayurveda Teas of Fennel & Cinamon, Mixed Spices, Black Tea all designed to detoxify, help metabolism and help digestion.  Often times legumes can add to the gas feeling, so adding a bay leaf, or lemon on top, or ginger can help with the digestion process.   While asana is important in Yoga, the Sister Science of Ayurveda will allow the Yoga Aspirant to better understand their own body, and in future help others and thus allow us to apply the principals of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras into our own life in a healthy, tasty, cheerful way. ~ Om Shanti

References for more information on Sugar in our Diet:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Should Yoga be in the Olympics?

With today marking the last day of the 2012 Summer Olympics, many people all over the world are watching the Closing Ceremonies and a question has been brought up by a number of people of "Should Yoga be in the Olympics?".  The concept of yoga being in the Olympics is more of an oxymoron than anything.  A few months back I was approached by a international organization, that is deeply associated with Bikram Chowdry, with efforts to make this idea of Yoga being an Olympic event a reality.  When I was asked to be an Ambassador, my initial response was Yoga is not a sport, but a practice intended for spiritual liberation through an 8 Limb Practice.  The reality is, Yoga is an 8 Limb practice, if it is in the Olympics is their any way to determine how much Ahimsa an individual practices? Or will Pranayama be an event?  Obviously it is strictly about Asana, but if they do this, then the point of the practice is lost. 

While they gave me the speech about how it will bring awareness to Indian Culture, to Yoga, and to bring more people to the practice, I still disagreed with this concept. 

I understand that this will bring more awareness to the practice of Yoga.  But is this the right kind of awareness?  The awareness should be self-realization, which is why people find yoga in their lives, when they are meant to, or better yoga finds them.  Could his just be another way to commercialize and demoralize an ancient practice that has nothing to do with competition?

A brilliant Articles that also intrigued me recently was:
YOGA as an OLYMPIC Sport by Alejandra Campos

While valid points of the exerpt from BKS Iyengar's book accounting for when certain Yogis were picked by Krishnamacharya to perform asana in front of the Maharaj.  Perhaps their Guru used judgement and discernment to find the appropriate student for this demonstration, but the Maharaj was not adjudicating their demonstrations.  Did this spark interest in Yoga?  Of course.  But does it mean people (mostly an audience of royalty & politicians) rushed to the shala or nearest ashram? Not necessarily.  Bharatanatyam (traditional Indian Dance) which requires great physical skill was also performed in front of the Maharaj, along with Snake Charming....Should these be Olympic Sports as well?

Is it possible that Yoga could be an Olympic Sport, yes, sadly it is possible.  There are Yoga competitions worldwide already.  Does this mean it is good for the "yoga community"?  Well the reality is, this ever growing Yoga Community is changing this ancient practice in many ways.  We must ask ourselves are we focused on liberating people spiritually through a 8 Limb practice of Purification?  Or is this to suit corporate interests and personal fame agendas?  We all can agree on the benefits of Yoga.  Now, lets be aware that Karma is an inevitable reality people, so lets focus on the goal of Samadhi.  If yoga is a life long practice, how can one prepare for an Olympic Event without practicing a lifetime?