September 29, 2011

Celebrate Life

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:25 am by DivineShantiYoga

A friend recently recommended a book that she thought I would enjoy. It is written by a woman who had experienced a cancer “scare”, and from this, she learned to celebrate life more fully. While I appreciate the recommendation, after reading the book and author’s description; I realized quickly that I have a difficult time relating to her personal experience with this disease in any relation to my own. Surviving cancer does not identify who I am individually. We are all trying to survive cancer.

Firstly, I hope that we all do not need to be faced with this to learn to celebrate life more fully. This lesson can be learned in the tiniest of ways; by a loving embrace, by comforting words, the beauty of nature, a soothing song, a nutritious meal, clean water, etc. But, unfortunately many come only to realize the true value of life through a trauma, or a personal loss.

Secondly, cancer has never scared me. I have never had a cancer “scare”. My body nurtured these cells, which were threatening my health, my life…but death also does not scare me. Faith. Faith. Faith. I am reminded of this as the autumn season reveals itself. Change is in the air, harvesting is in the air, and the earth is teaching us that our blissful bounty transforms on a regular schedule.

Many people rejoice in the fall season, but I have always preferred springtime. I realize that this is because I know that fall means that winter is approaching, which brings cold, ice, clouds, and layers of clothing and while I can appreciate a cozy, flirty boot; I’d prefer barefoot any day. I am however, seeing the beauty in our earth’s process of nurturing. The leaves don’t fall off the trees and dry to a dull brown just to remind me that colder temperatures are approaching. There is not a sense of “death” in this tree, or its leaves, but rather more “life”.

The tree has such innate wisdom, an instinct to draw its energies inward, and the leaves drop not to cease nourishment, but to continue nourishing deeper. The leaves will organically decompose, spreading all of these rich nutrients into our soil, fertilizing more plants and trees to produce fuller in the coming year. This is a cycle of life. This is our cycle of life. As challenging as it is to adopt this viewpoint about death…it is relevant. There is nothing to fear, unless you fear life, and true faith neutralizes it all. When this fear is relinquished, life becomes more vibrant and fuller.

Perhaps this is what the author of this recommended book had experienced. As well-stated in the Yoga Sutras 2:9; “Clinging to life (which) is self-sustaining, arises even in the wise”. Perhaps at the base of these fears is a false identification with the physical body. It is not only yours, but your body belongs also to your ancestors, it is a part of the same cosmic dust that makes us all. Recognize how our bodies and our trees are the same. Rejoice in the forever-going sense of life, and allow this faith to guide you through each day with celebration, instead of having the need for a hard-awakening into this realization. This life is short. Life is precious. Live hard, and love harder. Cultivate faith.

September 26, 2011

Vrksasana (Tree Pose) ~ A Yoga Poem

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:09 pm by DivineShantiYoga

Been deeply appreciating some poems written by Leza Lowitz, and here is her poem about this powerful posture:

Vrksanana (Tree Pose)

“How difficult it is

to stand straight and tall.

How much more difficult

to do it on one leg.

God knew what she was doing

when she made us bipedal.

Yet we spend most of life

hunched over,

denying the true weight

of the gift we’ve been given.

Now the trunk aches

as it tries to expand to full height-

buried, as it’s been,

in the bone.

Gain and loss

victory and defeat

fame and shame

body and mind

mind and soul-

dualities vanish.

The tree grows green

against the blue sky,

drawing the sun’s rays

through the slatted shutters

of the ribs.

We are the roots.

We are the forests and the trees.

Here, there is only one trunk.

On it rests the world.”

September 19, 2011

“Preventing Cancer” FREE Seminar

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:16 pm by DivineShantiYoga

Mark your Calendars!

This time last year, I was in the hospital, “eating” intravenously through a catheter in my shoulder, and couldn’t even sit upright in bed. Not a great way to spend your Autumn season, but alas, many lessons were learned.

I had always thought of myself as a “healthy” person (ate healthy foods, exercised, etc….) Somehow, I had nurtured cancer growth in my body, causing organ failure, and now I know how it happened! Knowledge is power.

So much research has been done about the causes of cancer, and it has been proven that we are poisoning ourselves through processed, chemical-filled foods, chemical-filled body products. Since these chemicals were mass produced about 60 years ago, cancer incidences have consistently risen.

“At least 40% of cancers can be prevented by simple changes in nutrition, physical activity & environmental factors.”

(World Cancer Research Fund, 2007; French National Cancer Institute, 2009) HALE Study (European Countries) found 60% cancer reduction with healthier lifestyle.

Come to this FREE Seminar, and learn how to gain better control of yours, and your loved-ones health.

NOTE: Bring everyone you know

Bring a cushion/folded blanket to sit on

Bring notebook/journal & pen

Bring a mug to enjoy organic cider.

This seminar will also be offered at Gotta Yoga Studio on February 17th.

September 15, 2011

So Hum

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:56 am by DivineShantiYoga

We’ve been practicing the mantra “So Hum” this week, allowing this energy to guide us through each breath. Translated as; So (“I am”), Hum (“that”) or (“all that is”), we silently chant “So” on each inhalation, and “Hum” on each exhalation. This mantra symbolizes that we are all a segment, a portion of collective cosmic energy within this universe, and together we ARE all creation.

It is humbling to think about how we all share the same air, and we share the same air as our ancestors. We have all been breathing the same air for thousands of years. When we think of this air as a source of our life-force energy, we are literally made up of the same life-force that made the Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi, da Vinci, Aristotle, Einstein, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, we could go on forever. All of the great philosophers and teachers of our past, as well as our loved ones, reside within each and every one of us. We are that, a collective part of all that is.

This ultimate reality is powerful, and chanting this mantra, either silently, or aloud, can instill a greater sense of interconnectedness for us all. We also honor our great ancestors by being aware of their energy flowing through our very bodies right now, giving us life. SO HUM. SO HUM. SO HUM.

September 12, 2011

The Loving Home

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:02 pm by DivineShantiYoga

Many who have visited me over the past year for the first time, comment on how loving my home feels to them. This is a beautiful compliment, which leaves me feeling enriched, and warm. Sometimes I have friends that ask me for any guidance that I could offer on how to invite these aspects into their space as well. Here are some of my thoughts on this:

Firstly, I believe that it is important for us to realize that our home, no matter how humble, is our “third skin”. Our clothing is our second skin, and our home is our third. Chances are, we spend more than 50% of our time in this building. Like all matter, our homes have the ability to absorb energies that inhabit there. These energies can remain within a structure for many years, which means that if there were past inhabitants, their energies still reside there as well.

It is beneficial to periodically cleanse energies within the home. This is a native American tradition, and  can be done by smudging (burning dried herb leaves such as sage, lavender, rosemary, etc.) the home, by burning incense, using cleansing crystals to re-direct energy, and by good ole’ opening house windows to allow the fall breeze to flow through. All of these practices have the power to purify negative energies, and can invoke positive energies to flourish. They can be done every day, or on whatever schedule feels good to you. It is a simple practice to begin your day with a greeting meditation practice while burning incense to honor the day given to you.

Through mindfulness practices, we can become more aware of the energies that we bring and cultivate within the home as well. Daily meditation, breathing with the clarity of the present moment can instill a loving feeling. When we are out and about, and we find ourselves feeling stressed, or anxious…take a few breaths outside of the home before entering. Allow these strong emotions to dissipate, or at least decrease before entering your home. The more calmness, and love that flows within the walls, the more calmness and love that flourishes within the space.

Also for cultivating a loving home, surround yourself with elements and architecture of nature. A feng-shui practice is to have at least one living plant for every 150 sq. ft. of interior space. My philosophy is that I feel better with at least three plants per every 200 sq. ft. space. Definitely having at least one plant in each room feels best, as well as incorporating other real elements of nature. Do you enjoy rocks and seashells? Collect them, and place them in a beautiful clear, glass jar or canister to display. With the change of seasons approaching, perhaps you would benefit from bringing in a pumpkin, or gourds, maybe even pine cones. These are all small ways to being the outdoors, in, and this is an important concept for inviting loving energy inside.

Lastly, I believe that each room should be filled with a balance of the earth’s elements. (Earth, Fire, Water, Air)  We can do this by balancing materials and color in our furnishings. Having a balance of wood, metal, glass, clay, fabric, candles, maybe a fountain, and organic materials is vital to balancing our energies in each room. (a vase of fresh flowers from the garden brings in water, earth, and air…if they are red or orange, even a fire element is added) We can adjust these elements very easily through the use of colors and hues. (Red, Orange = Fire; Blue, Black = Water; Brown, Green = Earth, Yellow, White = Air)

September 1, 2011

“YogaWoman” trailer perhaps more thought-provoking than anything.

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:28 pm by DivineShantiYoga

A trailer for a new film named YogaWoman has been circling the web, and while I am unable to give it an honest full review, the trailer itself has certainly provoked some interesting thoughts. In one word, “interesting” sums it up for me.

The trailer introduces the fact that women are now leading Yoga both in teaching and practicing in our Western nation with their high interest in maintaining personal health. This is a relevant turn, in that the ancient practice originated with men in the Eastern world, and was brought here by men. It’s true, that there is certainly a powerful feeling of interconnectedness while practicing this with other breathing, moving practitioners. This trailer insinuates that women practicing together create these feelings. I don’t love how the film seems more like an advertisement for women to practice Yoga (hence even the chosen title), and excludes the fact that men ARE practicing this, and experiencing the same sense of well-being and community. Can you say, sexist?

I understand them discussing the fact that Yoga with women has become a global phenomenon. (true) BUT, men too; suffer from depression, dieting, self-image issues and feed the ego with material possessions just as much as women do. I don’t see it as a much needed “women’s revolution”, but rather a “cultural” one.

I like the way that the trailer demonstrates how practicing Yoga can be a way to find personal balance in life, especially with all of the hustle and bustle of our society, and how the media contributes to us developing unhealthy body images. Yoga is a great path toward realizing your authentic self, FOR ANY gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation, and social and financial status.

To me, so far this film seems a lot like an advertisement for women, contributing to the multi-billion dollar industry that Yoga has grown into in our country. Personally, I appreciate a well-made product as much as anyone else, but I do not feed into well-known businesses and support manufacturers of Yoga materials just for the sake of acquiring the brand. This is honoring the teaching of aparigraha (neutralizing desires to obtain). For this reason, I will not purchase box-office tickets for this film, but will view it later and maybe give a full review at that time.

If the “business” of Yoga is your financial livelihood, which leads you to disagree with my thoughts, than perhaps getting back to “Yoga 101” is a necessary action. My livelihood is fulfilled by the strong sense of community (sangha) that practicing and teaching Yoga creates, and being uplifted by the coherence of people (all people) taking care of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally through the path of Yoga. Having the opportunity to guide others to themselves, to create a space for them to see their strengths and to honor their weaknesses is the reward in itself.