Author Archives: april dechagas

#MythMonday : Kaundinya

All the money in the world won’t buy us happiness, but neither will ditching life to go meditate in a cave. There must be something in the middle – a way to live this life we have with an embodiment of happiness and joy – even with the annoying people on the streets of NYC, and loud teenagers on the subway 🙂

The arm balance eka pada kaundinyasana also requires a graceful balance – moving forward enough to lift the back leg off the floor, while still keeping the head and chest lifted – all while having the courage to possibly fall out of it!

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#MythMonday : Gopala

When it’s cold and rainy in NYC, maybe you want to curl up in a Child’s Pose (bālāsana) and hear stories of Baby Krishna (Gopāla)? ⁣

In connection to this month’s focus at Jivamukti Yoga, maybe we start to look at our yoga practice with the playfulness of a child (Bāla) rather than setting goals or striving to achieve something that in this particular moment might be unattainable. Maybe in each āsana we embody the animal form we are coming into rather than worrying so much about getting it perfect (this by all means does not mean we don’t try, or keep safe anatomical alignment, but more along the lines of not becoming angry or disappointed if it’s not “perfect” right now. Practice and all is coming!)⁣

The “goal” of yoga (if you must have one) is to find the joy and happiness of a child in our everyday lives!⁣

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#MythMonday : Garuda

Garudasana

Garuda’s mother, Vinata, lost a bet against her sister (due to trickery and deceit, but that is a whole other story), and was obligated to serve the Nagas, or snake kingdom, the duration of her life.

While growing up, Garuda was obliged to take orders from the snakes, waiting on them hand and foot, just like Cinderella, but did not understand why he, as king of the birds, was required to listen to the snakes. After some investigating, he found out about his mother’s debt and asked the Nagas how he could set her free.

They agreed to alleviate Vinata from her debt if Garuda brought them a pot of immortality nectar (amṛta). The nectar was being guarded by the devas, who surrounded it with three Indiana Jones type booby traps.

The first was a large ring of fire that Garuda extinguished by taking the water of the rivers in his mouth and pouring it on the fire. The second was a mechanical door with sharp rotating blades. Garuda wrapped himself in his wings, shrunk down in size and was able to slip through the door with ease. Garuda finally arrived where the nectar was being held, and found it was being guarded by two huge snakes (Indiana Jones would be in BIG TROUBLE!) Garuda rapidly flapped his wings, creating a dust storm that blinded the snakes, and while they couldn’t see, attacked them with his beak.

Garuda took the nectar into his mouth without swallowing it, and started flying home. Along the way, Indra caught up to him and asked Garuda to return the nectar, as this was how the Gods and Goddesses maintained their immortality. Garuda promised that once the nectar was delivered to the Nagas, he would make it possible for Indra to take it back.

Garuda finally arrived home and the Nagas could hardly wait to drink the nectar. He placed the nectar in a pot on the grass in front of them, and asked if his mother could now be set free. Greedy to drink the nectar, they immediately agreed. Garuda convinced them that before they drink it, they should perform a cleansing ritual. 

As the Nagas went off to clean, Indra swept in and took the pot of nectar. When the Nagas returned, they saw a few drops of the nectar in the grass and started to lap it up with their tongues. The nectar was so powerful that it split their tongues in two, and because it was only a few drops, instead of becoming immortal, they would periodically shed their skin. From then on snakes were born with a split tongue and could shed their skin, and Garuda and his mother were free from their debt.

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Jivamukti in Paradise: Retreat to Roatan, Honduras

The next Jivamukti in Paradise retreat will be in Roatan, Honduras, January 11 -18, 2020. 

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot. THIS RETREAT WILL SELL OUT! SECURE YOUR SPOT SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!!!

aprildechagas@gmail.com for registration or questions

Pricing (Sign up by October 1):
Single $2400
Double $2100

After October 1st:
Single $2650
Double $2350

What this includes (a lot!)

  • 2 yoga classes/day and meditation with April
  • 7 nights lodging 
  • Welcome cocktail party 
  • 3 Vegetarian Meals/Day
  • Non-Alcoholic Beverages 
  • Round-trip airport transfer
  • A/C in all rooms
  • WiFi
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Full Access to all of Retreat Center (see link below)
  • Unlimited Sea Kayaking
  • 1 Snorkle Trip (some of the best snorkeling/diving in the world)
  • Las Sirenas sunset Cruise
  • Hike to Picacho Peak

Not included:

  • Airfare
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Staff tips
  • Additional excursions/spa treatments

ROOMS AVAILABLE (11 Rooms Total): (ONLY 9 ROOMS LEFT)

• There are 4 single rooms (or Double if you are sharing a bed)
• 4 more rooms that can be single (1 bed) or double (2 beds)
• 3 rooms with two beds each


Additional info:

• Retreat Location- Paya Bay Resort https://www.payabay.com (I recommend looking on a computer rather than phone – easier to navigate)
• Airport – fly to Roatan (RTB)
• Travel time from airport to retreat center – 1 Hour
• Closest Towns – 15 & 30 minutes away

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Technology Spirituality Mash-Up

Some final thoughts this month’s focus at Jivamukti Yoga as we close the month of May…⁣⁣

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We live in a technological world, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! We have become interconnected with other human beings in ways most of us couldn’t have ever imagined! I wouldn’t be able to connect with most of you if not for this technological world! But there should be a happy medium…we cannot solely rely on technology, and we cannot go off to live in a cave somewhere to meditate all the time and ditch life (Bharati also spoke about this at Ananda Ashram this weekend)⁣⁣

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Here are some thoughts on this by Thich Nhat Hanh, from his book The Sun My Heart:⁣⁣

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“Meditators have always known that they must use their own eyes and the language of their own times to express their insight. Wisdom is a living stream, not an icon to be preserved in a museum. Only when a practitioner finds the spring of wisdom in his or her own life can it flow to future generations. All of us must keep the torch of wisdom glowing in order to light the path ahead.⁣⁣

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Our insight and our language are inseparable from the times in which we live. For many years, the East followed the West down the path of technological and material development, to the point of neglecting its own spiritual values. In our world, technology is the main force behind economics and politics, but scientists in the West have begun to see something similar to what the spiritual disciplines of the East discovered long ago. If we can survive our times, the gap that separates science and spirituality will close, and East and West will meet one another on the path to discover true mind. We can start working towards convergence right now, using our own daily mindful lives.” ⁣

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#MythMonday : Agni

Agni the Fire God

If you do too much too quickly, your fire will burn out. If you take on more then you can handle, your fire will burn out. If you try to shove your knee to your ankle in agnistambhasana before it’s ready, your fire (and your knee!) will burn out! Take things slow, breath deep and take it all in. Practice and all is coming.

Agni-Stambhasana (Fire Log Seat)
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#MythMonday : Bharadvaja

Bharadvāja was a dedicated yoga student and devoted his entire life to studying the vedas. All he did, all day, every day, was study. He studied so much, that he exhausted an entire lifetime doing so.

Upon his rebirth, Bharadvāja did the same thing all over again. He thought the more he studied, the more likely it was that he’d break the cycle of saṃsāra, the continuous circle of birth, death, and rebirth. He again exhausted an entire lifetime just studying.

In his third lifetime, Bharadvāja again did the same thing. At this point people all over the kingdom would whisper to each other about the weird hermit who never left his home and only studied yoga. He was giving yoga a bad name! Who wants to study yoga if your just trapped inside all day reading thousand-paged books and never having any fun? He had no family, no friends, and was always alone. What kind of life is it if you can’t share it with others?

At the end of this third lifetime, Shiva came to Bharadvāja at his deathbed. Bharadvāja thought that this was finally it! That he knew the vedas so well that he would not have to be re-born and could live with the Gods and Goddesses. But oh was he wrong! Shiva scolded him (in a loving gentle way), and asked what on earth Bharadvāja thought he was doing? He spends all this time studying, but what good is all this yogic knowledge if he isn’t sharing it with others? Why keep the joy of yoga to himself when he could help others find joy and happiness as well?

In his fourth lifetime, Bharadvāja finally understood. Rather than living his hermit lifestyle, he became a teacher. And not only was he a teacher, but he also had more friends than he could have ever imagined. Rather than finding yoga in just books, he was living it.

At the end of this lifetime, Shiva again came to visit Bharadvāja. “You did it,” Shiva exclaimed! “You finally get it! You no longer have to be subjected to karmas and re-birth. Come let’s go, you’ll love it in “The Good Place.” But Bharadvāja refused, instead choosing to again be re-born as a teacher, deciding that living this great joyful life was all he needed.

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#MythMonday : Galava

In this challenging arm balance, the bound leg represents the rope, or gāla, tied around Gālava’s waist, and the extended leg is the tail of the rope being held by his mother. In order to maintain the āsana, a counter-balance must be present, and it looks almost like a see-saw. Bringing weight into the hands, the upper torso moves towards the earth while maintaining a lift in the head and sternum. At the same time, the back leg lifts up off the floor, all the way up towards the sky, to an angle at which the body is in one straight line from head to toe, and looks like a see-saw. Once the back leg lifts high enough, past the fulcrum point of the front leg resting on the arms, the āsana feels a bit weightless, like you are defying gravity.

The story of how Gālava received his name also lends itself as a reminder that there must be a balance between our yoga practice and our everyday lives. Ideally we are living our lives in a joyful, yogic way, but we also can’t ditch our family, friends, and responsibilities just to practice. It is easy to become seduced by the benefits of a daily yoga practice – it has a magical affect on our body, mind and soul!  But this might start to be an issue if you are missing dinner with your family or friends, or your kid’s soccer game just to get a class in. A Jīvanmukta is one who has found liberation in THIS LIFETIME. Which means that you have reached a state of enlightenment, but you are still living in this current world, in this body, with the same everyday responsibilites. You are just not affected by the ups and downs of everyday life. (Supposedly…I am not there yet!)

BKS Iyengar
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#MythMonday : Vishvamitra

King Kaushika had absolutely EVERYTHING. He was extremely wealthy, had the largest army in the land, and had anything you could possibly think of at the tip of his fingers.

One day, while traveling with his large army, he came across the small, humble hermitage of the sage Vaśiṣṭha. They stopped to pay their respects, and as was customary, Vaśiṣṭha invited them to stay for a meal. Kaushika refused, saying there was no way that Vaśiṣṭha’s small home could provide enough food for the entire army. Vaśiṣṭha insisted, and Kaushika finally agreed, thinking they would be lucky if they even received a piece of bread each.

As the evening went on, more and more food kept coming out, and the entire army was completely satisfied. Kaushika was baffled, and asked Vaśiṣṭha how this was possible. Vaśiṣṭha told Kaushika that he had a magical cow named Nadini, that could provide whatever was asked for. Kaushika had never heard of a magical cow! He didn’t have one and he has everything, and demanded Vaśiṣṭha hand over the cow. Vaśiṣṭha was appalled. Nandini was part of the family, and Vaśiṣṭha could never give a family member away. Kaushika demanded Vaśiṣṭha give him the cow, or else he would declare war and just take the cow. Vaśiṣṭha said “Fine, go right ahead.” Kaushika thought Vaśiṣṭha was crazy. How could this little yogic sage defeat the largest army in the land? He couldn’t go back on his word, and so they went to war.

Battle after battle Vaśiṣṭha consistently won until Kaushika and his army couldn’t take it anymore and surrendered. Baffled again, Kaushika wondered how Vaśiṣṭha was able to defeat him. He realized there must be more to this yoga stuff than he realized, decided to give up everything except what he deemed essential, and went off to study yoga. After many, many years of study King Kaushika also became a yogic sage. His took the name Viśvāmitra (Viś = expansive/universe; mitra = friend) and dedicated his life to taking care of others and spreading the teachings of yoga.

Similar to King Kaushika having everything, viśvāmitrāsana also has a bit of everything! It is a side bend, shoulder opener, hip opener, standing āsana and arm balance all in one! You can not take this one by force! What’s interesting is the elements of vaśiṣṭhāsana (side plank) are also here, with the arm holding the foot representing the bow and arrow of war. Slow and steady wins this battle, and with patience you will find expansion and openess to all.

Drawing by @jason_crandell
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#MythMonday : Patanjali

Śiva and Viṣṇu were hanging out… Viṣṇu was sitting on his serpent couch ĀdiŚeṣa, who is also sometimes referred to as Anantā. They were listening to the beat of Śiva’s ḍamaru drum, and Śiva was performing his cosmic dance. Viṣṇu became so captivated by the dance of Śiva that he started to vibrate to the rhythm – becoming heavier and heavier, starting to crush ĀdiŚeṣa.

When the dance was over, the weight was lifted. ĀdiŚeṣa was so amazed by this by this dramatic change he expressed a wish for legs so he can learn to dance.

At the same exact time, Gonika, a dovited yogini, was praying for a worthy son to pass along her knowledge of yoga. Viṣṇu, who is the sustainer of the world and yogic knowledge, sent ĀdiŚeṣa down to earth. He fell from the heavens into the palms of Gonika (legs and all!) and she named her new son Patañjali (pat = to fall; añjali = palms).

Patañjali grew up to be a great vedic scholar. He went through thousands and thousands of pages of veda (so we didn’t have to! Thanks Patañjali!), took what he thought was the most essential, and strung them together. He compiled three books: Purification of Speech, Purification of Body and Purification of Mind. The Purification of Mind is what we commonly refer to as The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali.

Anantā means infinite or endless, and Ādi means first. It refers to the state of yoga – timeless, beyond birth, death, and all changes in between—a limitless state of joy and contentment. Anantāsana helps us cultivate this sense of contentment and equanimity. It requires a bit of balance, flexibility, and core strength – all aspects we need in our every day lives!

Anantasana (Vishnu’s Couch)


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