Recently, a friend published this quote on FB: "Chronic ecstasy is a learnable skill."
Chronic. Ecstasy. A strange juxtaposition. Chronic, often associated with a less healthy form of constancy—as in chronic pain. Andecstasy, often associated with a less healthy form of drug-induced high—as in rave culture drug of choice.
My initial response was one of both affirmation and caution. Yes, chronic ecstasy is indeed a learnable, even valuable, skill, and yet, chronic ecstasy without discerning engagement is simply self-indulgent escapism...Read More
The beginning of all yoga is virtue. Like all wise people world-wide, the yogis of ancient India realized that certain behaviors are more conducive to healthy development than others, so they described and prescribed a code of conduct as a prerequisite foundation for Yoga: Yama, five abstinences that guide our relationships with others, and Niyama, five observances that guide our relationship with ourselves. Together, Yama and Niyama are an essential set of ten underlying principles (intentions, values, choices) that guide one’s yoga practice on and off the mat. These are the “ethical ground” from which all else grows...Read More
In the yogic tradition, Self-realization consists of discovering and discarding false identifications with aspects or energies of human being (koshas) that make up the spectrum of being-consciousness-bliss underlying who we are and the nature of reality. Ranging from material to spiritual, the entire spectrum is considered to be variations of the same being-consciousness-bliss organizing itself at different vibrational frequencies or forms...Read More
1) Seussian portability.
On a plane or on a train, in a car, here or there, near or far... yoga can be practiced wherever you are--gardens, studios, parks, living rooms, bedrooms, boardrooms, lunchrooms, offices, atriums, gymnasiums, airports, hotel rooms. It’s wireless and portable. All that’s really needed is you in a relatively quiet, comfortable room with open floor space —and of course, depending on how physical the practice, comfy clothing and a mat can be helpful, but even these are optional.
2) Conspicuous contentment...Read More
When I was a child, my mum used to sing a little folk song with me. Perhaps you know it. The beginning lyrics were, “I see the moon and the moon sees me. The moon sees the one that I long to see…”
On a clear night, under the light of a full moon, that little childhood ditty will often come to mind. Of course, as a child, I thought that the one in the song was a special someone somewhere else in the world.
Years later, I often think of the one...Read More
People across cultures have a long history of paying homage to the primary source of life energy here on Earth, our most magnificent star, the Sun. The yogic tradition is no exception. Enter any hatha yoga class, and you will find yourself surrounded by sun-worshipers—not the skin-deep, scantily-clad variety of the pre-sunblock eras burning epidermis in pursuit of epic tans—but rather, the lycra-clad, bare-foot yoga enthusiasts engaged, often unknowingly, in the ancient ritual of burning through illusions to rest in the radiance of realized being, commonly referred to as the Sun Salutation...Read More
Considered to be one of the most profound mantras in the world, the Gayatri Mantra, or loosely translated, the Mantra of Spiritual Light, is one of humanity's oldest prayers originating in the Rig Veda and dating back to at least 1500 BCE. It has been and continues to be chanted by generations of people who aspire to awaken the divine wisdom in and for all beings. In the words of Sri Aurobindo...Read More
Here's one hilarious story of a man, a hot yoga class that was not so hot, and a mat, as shared in his original Seattle Craigslist ad:
Yoga mat for sale. Used once. - $1 (Bellevue)
Yoga mat for sale. Used once at lunch hour class in December 2009. Usage timeline as follows:
Register for hot yoga class. Infinite wisdom tells me to commit to 5 class package and purchase a yoga mat. I pay $89.74. Money well spent, I smugly confirm to myself...
Despite the oft-emphasized upscale, aspirational, ascendant aspects of yogic practice, yoga is an omnidirectional affair, and one essential direction is down—as in Downward Dog, down-to-earth, calm down, settle down, get down, feet-firmly-planted-on-terra-firma, rooting-ourselves-in-the-Ground-of-Being DOWN. Feeling grounded—stable, balanced, and present in ourselves and our lives—is essential to our well-being. Just as electrical systems need to be grounded in order to conduct energy safely, human beings need the felt connection to our bodies and the earth in order to function optimally.
Unlike in childhood when being grounded is...Read More
The simple truth is that we are all embodied, enlightened beings. Realizing this simple truth liberates us from a world of suffering. However, realizing this amidst perpetual distractions and coming attractions of daily life is often a bit more complicated.
Fortunately, some of the embodied, enlightened beings who realized this before us, in their infinite wisdom and compassion, composed the ultimate guide to liberating Self-realization: yoga.
Believe it or not, for thousands of years, long before modern-day mat-work was even a twinkle in a guru's third eye, yoga was (and practiced as intended, still is) the ultimate meditation practice. In fact, one of the most challenging aspects of teaching yoga today for educated teachers is the widely-held misconception that yoga is merely asana. While the ubiquitous, body-bending asana practice is indeed yoga, it is only a fraction of the much richer, mind-bending practice of yoga that includes ethics (yamas and niyamas), postures (asanas), breathwork (pranayama), sensory regulation (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), and meditation (dhyana and samadhi).
The widespread misappropriation...Read More
I don't know about you, but I love the ocean—sparkling water, salty sand, smooth stones, sand-dollars—and the sound of waves as reassuring and life-affirming as heartbeats.
Although it is not as wonder-full as being at the ocean, or practicing Ujjayi on a beach, practicing Ujjayi brings the ocean to one's moment wherever one is. Wherever whenever I practice Ujjayi, the infinite ocean laps at the shore of my being in a way that those seashells I listened to as a child only hinted.
If you haven't yet had the pleasure, you may be wondering, what is Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai)?Read More
These days, people begin a yoga practice for all sorts of reasons—stress reduction, weight loss, sleep restoration, pain management, injury rehabilitation, cross-training, personal growth, and more. Yoga classes have even become the habitat du jour for singles seeking flexy, sexy dates and mates. However, despite its growing popularity as a form of fitness, yoga is not merely an exercise program reserved for skinny-minny contortionists and modern-day members of the cult of the "body beautiful." Nor is it an enlightenment fast-track for bendy, trendy spiritual seekers. Yoga is not about being able to touch one’s nose to one’s knees, sculpting a beautiful body, or accumulating experiences of bliss, although all are common effects of practice.
Rather, yoga is about coming into harmony with ourselves, each other, and our world. Yoga is...Read More