Posts Tagged With: Yoga

#MythMonday :Narasiṃha

So far we’ve heard stories of 4 of Vishnu’s avatars – Matsya the Fish( 1), Kūrma the Tortoise (2), Rāma (7), and Kṛṣṇa (8). This week’s story is about Vishnu’s 4th avatar Narasiṃha, a part man part lion, with mention of his 3rd avatar Varāha, the Boar.

The story of Narasiṃha is also the reason for the Indian celebration of Holi – a celebration of good triumphing over evil.

The āsana associated with this story is siṃhāsana – lion’s seat.

Eyes crossed a la Iyengar 😉
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#MythMonday : Goddess Ganga

Hey everyone! I’m currently in Maui on vacation, but filmed a special Myths of the Asanas video on location! The intro was filmed at Waimoku Falls on the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakalā National Park, and the story was filmed on the top of the Waihe’e Trail. For right now you’ll have to watch the video via the Jivamukti NYC IGTV channel (link below), until I’m back on the mainland…

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B4L8Ra4DLDE/?igshid=1drh2aar3zfs0

The asana (or mudra) associated with this story is Viparita Karani (because it looks like a waterfall, but also see below…)

Viparita Karani translates to “reversed attitude”. In the story you will hear how the urge to obtain more and more land and take over the Earth causes King Sagara’s sons to be burnt to ashes. Unless the human race reversed their attitude, we will also all be burnt to a crisp! Global warming is a real threat, but we can do something about it!⁣

Viparita Karani
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#MythMonday : Nataraja

Shiva in the form of Nataraja is the Lord of Dance. His Tandava dance is said to represent the universe being created, maintained, and dissolved, and for those watching it a veil of ignorance and arrogance is lifted. So find your Atman and get your dance on!

Naṭarājāsana
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Walking Meditation

I often practice walking meditation, and there is always one as part of the retreats I lead!

Here are some simple instructions for a walking meditation. This can be done anywhere – even the crazy streets of NYC- but ideally you are surrounded by the beautiful sounds of nature:⁣

– if possible, leave your phone at home⁣

– if you are somewhere you can walk barefoot, like on sand or grass, leave your shoes at home too!⁣

– if this is a group walking meditation, walk in one straight line, each person a few steps behind. Try as much as possible to follow the pace of the person ahead of you.

– pick a mantra to match with your steps. I like to use lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. As you walk silently repeat each word with each step – right foot lokah, left foot samastah, right foot sukhino, left foot bhavantu…⁣

– walk deliberately and slowly, heel, ball, toe; silently repeating the mantra. If you are barefoot, feel the different textures of the earth as you walk.⁣

– keep your chin parallel to the earth, gazing forward as you walk, allowing your peripheral vision to take in your surroundings. Notice what you may see, but without labeling or judging. Just take it all in. Continuing to repeat the mantra.⁣

– hear the sounds around you – waves crashing, birds chirping, insects, leaves rustling- but without labeling or judging in anyway – just notice⁣

– if you pass any other humans along the way, just nod and smile 😊 ⁣

– when you come to the end of however far you are walking, stop for a few moments – 3 to 5 minutes – and just gaze outwards at your beautiful surroundings ⁣

– continue to repeat these steps on the way back. Just before you finish pause again for a moment and close your eyes. After a few moments, Om 3x out loud.⁣

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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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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 : Matsyendra

Thousands of years after Matsya the fish received the teachings of yoga from Shiva, he was reincarnated as Matsyendra (sometimes also referred to as Matsyendranath), which means Lord of the Fishes (matsya = fish, indra = lord, nath = refers to Nath group). 

Matsyendra was a Nath Warrior, who was also a half man, half fish (a mer-man!) The Nath Warriors were a power-hungry group of people during the 10th-14th centuries who would do whatever it took to become more powerful – pillaging villages, tearing down forests, destroying everything around them without giving a second thought to the destruction they caused. 

Matsyendra had heard about this strange group of people who hung out in caves deep in the woods meditating and contorting their bodies in all sorts of ways – and they also had superpowers. These yogis, as they were called, could predict the future, become invisible, levitate, had super-strength, could go a long time without food or drink, had super-sonic hearing, and so much more. The Nath Warriors thought that if they had all of these powers, they would be invincible and could take over the world! So they took a break from destroying the world to study yoga. Eventually they transformed and realized there was much more to life than taking over the world. Through long and consistent practice (abhyāsa) but also non-attachments to the results of yoga (vairāgyā) they found happiness, joy and bliss, and became the Nath Yogis, rather than the Nath Warriors. 

Matsyendra shared these physical yogic practices with Swami Svatmarama, who wrote them down, and they were passed down to us in the form of the Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā. Each chapter of the HYP starts off with an invocation to the Lord Shiva who was the first to pass down the teachings of yoga.

In an āsana class we take the form of Ardha Matsyendrāsana (sometimes referred to as seated spinal twist) as an homage to the lineage of teachers who passed down the teachings of yoga either directly or indirectly to us. The upper body represents the torso of a man, while the folded legs resemble the tail of a fish. This āsana is not only a twist, but also an outer hip opener (on the side you are twisting). It promotes spinal health and flexibility, and also stimulates our digestive function.  We typically twist to the right first to allow food to move up the ascending colon, and then to the left down the descending colon.

Videos Created by Jivamukti NYC

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Memorial Day Weekend Yoga Retreat

I have the great privilege and humbling honor to lead this year’s annual Jivamukti Yoga Memorial Day Retreat at Ananda Ashram, located in Monroe, NY, May 24th – 27th 2019.

We will spend the weekend exploring asana and meditation, while diving deeper into spiritual teachings that can support our health, happiness, and sanity. Best of all, we will be doing it together in a beautiful place. This retreat is not only a gift to yourself, but to everyone you know, and to all beings.

Each day we will rise together for meditation and asana class, then meet again in the afternoons for further exploration through asana, study and song. We will enjoy delicious vegan meals prepared for us with love. There will also be opportunities to study Sanskrit with the amazingly gifted teacher Bharati, and to participate in the ashram’s acclaimed evening programs.

It is often impossible to move forward in a new way without first taking a step back. The retreat is an opportunity to get in touch with our Jivamukti lineage, part of which came through Ananda Ashram founder Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. By unplugging from daily life, you have the opportunity to steep in your practice, and to suspend unhelpful cyclic thinking.

Semi-private accommodations
$595, pre-register before May 1st
$625 after May 1st

Dorm Room accommodations
$535, pre-register before May 1st
$565 after May 1st

Daily Commuter Rate
$135

Registration: events@jivamuktiyoga.com

Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York, is a Yoga retreat and spiritual-educational center just over one hour from New York City, founded in 1964 by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (then Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.) as the country center of the Yoga Society of New York, Inc.

Located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, the Ashram provides a serene, natural environment with woods and meadows surrounding a lake. Accommodations are simple and meals are vegetarian.

Retreat Schedule:

FRI May 24
4 pm onwards Check-in: Main house office
5:30 – 6:30pm Dinner
7:30-10 pm Ananda Ashram Evening Program

SAT May 25
8am – 9am Light Breakfast (coffee, tea, toast)
9am Morning Meditation and Fire Ceremony
9:45-10:45 Scripture Studies with Bharati
11:00-12:30 Jivamukti Yoga Asana Class w/ April
12:30-1:30pm Lunch
1:30-3pm Break

2:30-3:00 pm optional walking meditation in woods w/April
3pm – 5pm Jivamukti Yoga w/ April
5:30-630 Dinner
7:30pm-8:30 pm Ashram Meditation Program
8:30 pm North Indian Vocal Concert with Deepak Kumar & Naren Budhakar

SUN May 26
8am – 9am  Light Breakfast
9am Meditation and Fire Ceremony
9:45-10:45 Scripture Studies with Bharati
11:00-12:30 Jivamukti Yoga Asana Class w/ April
12:30-1:30pm Lunch
1:30-3:15pm Break
3:155:15pm Jivamukti Yoga Asana Class w/ April PLUS live music with Lisa Apatini (Nandini)
5:30-6:30pm Dinner
7:30pm-8:30 pm Ashram Meditation Program
8:00 pm Kirtan/Concert with Krishna Devi

MON May 27
8-9am Light Breakfast
9am Morning Meditation and Fire Ceremony
9:45-10:45 Scripture Studies with Bharati
11 – 12:30 Jivamukti Yoga Asana Class w/ April
12:30-1:30pm Lunch
1:30-3:00 pm Checkout

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When the Noise Stops

The other day I was on the train with a large group of teenage boys who were extremely loud. I aware of how loud it was, but wasn’t disturbed by it; it was just there. And then all of a sudden they all got off the train at the same stop and there was complete silence. It was absolutely glorious. The BEST FEELING EVER.  It was that same feeling we have after we stop chanting and the words stop but you can still feel the vibrations. Or those moments when meditating when you don’t realize you were in it until you are taken out of it. 

I imagine this is what finding yoga/samadhi/enlightenment/Ātma Bodha, whatever you want to call it, is like. (I say imagine because I’m not there yet.) That Ātma, our highest Self, is always there, but there is all this noise – our thoughts, our worries of what already happened and what we think will happen, this crazy world around us – covering it up. We are all already enlightened but it’s being masked by the noise of life. Like how the sun is always present, but some times it’s covered by the clouds, and especially in the winter, we forget it exists. Eventually the sun comes out and we remember the joy of sunshine. Eventually, through long, consistent yoga practice, the noise is drowned out. It’s still there – the boys were still making noise, it was just muffled out by the closed doors – but we aren’t affected by it as much. We are able to move around amongst this noisy world but in a way that we are acting for the benefit of all beings and not just reacting to the noise. We find Ātma Bodha; Self-Knowledge. 

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