Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Yogis

This is the time of year many families and friends across North America get together and eat till they sleep.  This is one of the busiest times at American Airports.  Many yogis engage in Pot-lucks at their yoga studios.  Some studios who embrace the practice of yoga with Ahimsa, encourage students to eat vegan/vegetarian Thanksgiving.

For many years I used to volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity in NYC, and the past few years I invited yoga students to join me for serving food on Thanksgiving at the shelter, as it was a bigger event and required more volunteers than weekly meals.
Volunteering at Missionaries of Charity, BX, NYC with some Amazing Yoga Students.

While many people view thanksgiving as a chance to consume ridiculously large amounts of foods that leave us in a food coma, or nothing more than a mass slaughtering of turkeys, or a celebration of the genocide that took place years ago, it still is a HUGE north American Holiday.  Regardless of what we eat, it is important to take the time to reflect & give thanks.  Truly, giving thanks and celebrating our loved ones should be done on a regular basis for an abundant life and not just annually.   Some folks may say I cannot think of things to be thankful for, so perhaps you should start with a list of 5 things.  Sadly our consumer driven society leaves many people in a feeling of "lack" or "dissatisfaction" when we truly have more than most people in other parts of the world.  If only we take a moment to reflect with gratitude, only then will more blessings out pour.

List for ways to make thanksgiving more than just a annual event of eating.
  1.  Give thanks at every meal, acknowledging mother nature/God, the hands that made the food, and the people you share the meal with.
  2. Adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary's Adopt a Turkey Project.
  3. Volunteer at a local shelter to give food to people who otherwise would have nothing or donate canned goods.
  4. Volunteer at a local hospital or animal shelter.
  5. Make your yoga practice, every breath an inhalation of gratitude, every asana an offering of thanks.
  6. Keep a daily meditation practice of gratitude
  7. Keep a daily journal and list all the blessings in your life.
  8. Be Thankful for the people in your life always, and make sure they feel your gratitude and love.
  9. Add some detoxification yoga asana and foods to your life, so that you can be kind to your digestive system.
  10. Smile and Say Thank at every chance you get!

Wishing you all a wonderful day filled with love, peace, joy and thanksgiving! ~ Namaste

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Moon in Scorpio and Happy Diwali

Tuesday November 13th at 5pm EST marks the New Moon in Scorpio.  The New Moon is all about new beginnings, and Scorpio is the water sign for transformation, abundance, and elimination.  It is also the sign for passion, financial gain, and prosperity.  This is a powerful time for new romance, or end to relationships that no longer serve you.  Being that Scorpio is a sign associated with passion, it is wonderful to give focus to the Swadhisthana Chakra in our yoga practice, which governs the reproductive system, passion, and creativity.  The Farmers Almanac, ancient civilization all watch the patterns of the new moon to prepare for harvest.  Some suggest to create a list of wishes or affirmations during this powerful period of cleansing as Scorpio is the sign that says "I Desire".  With Mercury in Retrograde a lot of emotions and chaos may stir up in lines of communication and it is a chance for us to better ourselves.  Just remember regardless of your belief, when we let go of anger, grudges and negative thoughts we only make room in our hearts for good things and better health.  
 This incredible New Moon in Scorpio is also falling on a Solar Eclipse, and the start of Diwali or Deepavali (The Festival of Lights).  This festival of lights celebrates Laksmi the Goddess of Love & Abundance, and the lights signify the triumph of Good over Evil.
 This is a time of sweets, celebration and lights to illuminate the hearts of all people.  Oil Lamps, lanterns illuminate the homes of millions of Hindus all over the world.  Wishing all my Hindu friends, brothers and sisters all over the world a Happy Diwali.
Regardless of religious beliefs, we should always embrace the chance to shine light in our heart and dispel darkness, to celebrate life with love and eradicate negative thoughts, to wish for prosperity and joy by sharing prosperity and joy with all the people we encounter.  We will only find this abundance of light and love in our external world when we have it in our own heart ~ Namaste

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You Can Heal Your Life

Most people who practice yoga can attest to the healing benefits they have experienced with yoga.  People have healed both their body and their mind with yoga.  One of the biggest aspects of this healing is the breath.  Taking the time to connect with the breath, allow the body to flow with deep breaths, and quiet all the clutter/memories in the subconscious mind (chitta).

What I have noticed from true devotees of the practice is the ability to live with compassion, to take responsibility for their own lives, the ability to forgive themselves and others, and most importantly the ability to live with JOY.  When I say "true devotees", I mean the folks who look beyond asana, who look beyond labels and accolades, and really shine with radiant light & compassion in their eyes that light in their eyes which only comes from embracing the 8 Limbed practice of yoga. 

What is the most repeated concept in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali?  Cheerfulness and JOY.  Some would say, how can we have joy when others are so mean, or when we had to endure this trauma, or when this always happens to me?  Sadly some Yoga Enthusiasts may say only when I can perfect that asana, or when I can make it past the Ashtanga Primary Series......Very interesting mantras.

What about changing those mantras to positive affirmations like.... kind and loving people are always attracted to me, I am strong enough to forgive, understand and be grateful for all experiences, and amazing things always happen to me.  What about evolving past perfecting an asana, and embracing the chance to be present with your breath without judgement or expectation, knowing full well that nothing is ever perfect?  What about being fine with making it through Surya Namaskar A & B devoid of the expectation of anything more than connecting to your breath?

From my experience, teaching, studies and observations I have learned we are truly creatures of habit both on and off the yoga mat.  Patterns, unconscious and conscious that have everything to do with the patterns established in our childhood, belief systems.  It is easy to blame someone else, feel apathy, or say it is karma.  While things may well be our destiny or past life karma, our choice and our evolution comes from how we react, how we recognize the things we allow & enable, and how we establish our self worth and most importantly how we forgive and let go.  This comes from an  unbiased analysis of relationship patterns established from our formative years.

The Vedas began hinting at Dharma, Karma, then Yoga Sutras outlined the "handbook" to conscious living towards enlightenment, Jesus enlightened people in the Bible on power of faith & forgiveness, The Buddah asked for us to see how all is one, Transcendental Meditation elaborated or power of silence, and modern western gurus have elaborated with studies of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), therapy, hypnosis etc.

Today we have people like Tony Robbins, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Prema Chodron, and many more encouraging people to change their belief systems, or Yoga Teachers elaborating on the Bhagavad Gita & Yoga Sutras to help people take control of their life.  I am one of those teachers who emphasizes the importance of the Yoga Sutras so Yoga can be embraced as a path to enlightenment along with the benefit of a slimmer waist. 

Generally the message of positive affirmations is agreed upon by both ancient Eastern and Modern Western Gurus.  This notion that we create our journey, that everything is our creation, or a reflection of us.  This idea that what makes us mad is actually not the other person, our job, our achievements or lack their of but a deeper pattern behavior or vrittis (misconceptions).  Recognizing that every aspect of this Universe, every relationship is truly a reflection of our deepest belief systems that we control.

But like the phrase goes, when you point one finger - 3 are pointing back.  I recognized that I myself still need to apply some of the precepts of this practice into my own life and yoga practice.  Hence why Yoga is a practice and why in life we repeat lessons, until they are learned.  The Modern Western Guru who I referred to, to help many students worldwide is Louise Hay.  Her story, and her outline of affirmations to change our body, relationships and environment with affirmation, breathe and conscious living, is nothing short of brilliant.  While I love the Holy Bible, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and the Bhagavad Gita...I think Louise writes an easy to read, easy to relate text, and modern version to self healing & enlightenment.  

If you are a Yoga Teacher or student this is a book you should invest in for your self healing and to understand behavior patterns to help others.  If you are a person who struggles in relationships, with finances, with health, or anything.....this is the book for you.  If you are a person who thinks you know best, and yet you struggle with physical illness or job issues.....then this is especially the book for you.  Life is too short to waste time with negative energy, so keep your thoughts, environment and heart shinning with love ~ Namaste