Monday, November 25, 2013

The Eight Limbs of Yoga - Astanga Yoga

Although the practice of yoga is often assumed to include only the postures or asanas that are cycled through during a class, this is only 1/8 of the story. There are a total of 8 different limbs of yoga. Yoga, which means to unite, is a practice designed to shed light on ourselves and unite our physical body and mind with our Higher Self and the universe at large. To achieve this, yogis from many thousands of years ago identified and practiced the eight limbs of yoga known in Sanskrit as astanga yoga. The eight limbs of yoga are yama (abstinence), niyama (observances), asana (posture practice), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (blissful absorption, super-conscious state). The following article will describe the eight limbs of yoga and discuss how each is used during an astanga yoga class.

"By the practice of the limbs of Yoga, the impurities dwindle away and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment," (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 2.28).

Yamas

The Yamas are moral guidelines or vows on how a yogi can best interact with the outside world and other people to live an enlightened life. The Yamas consist of ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacarya (continence), and aparigraha (non-greed, non-grasping). Some of the Yamas one would abstain from while others are ways to regulate behavior and thinking. For a yogi, "these great vows are universal, not limited by class, place, time or circumstance," (Patanjali, 2.31).

With the practice of ahimsa one not only refrains from aggressive and violent behavior but also stops all violent thinking towards others. If we have a judgment towards someone, in a way we are creating a violent experience toward them. In class, we can practice this yama by withholding judgment of others’ asana practice. If it seems like the person in front of you doesn’t know how to perform trikonasana, instead of thinking, “they should have their hips in line and not lean over so much,” we can bring ourselves back to our breath and relax. In this way we are practicing ahimsa while at the yoga studio.

Satya refers to the absolute and unchangeable truth. This truth lies deep within us as the unchanging nature of our spirit. Everything else in the world is destined to change. Our feelings, life circumstances, relationships, the Earth, solar system, galaxy and physical universe are always in flux and changing. The practice of satya not only asks us to identify the infinite within us but also to respect that divine nature in all and speak its truth. We refrain from lying and offering up a false image. In class we can practice satya by recognizing our body’s limits and not going any further in those poses where our body asks us to stop. If we try to go beyond where we are in the moment, we are not listening to our inner truth and are trying to portray ourselves as “flexible” or “a great yogi.” By recognizing the truth within us, we are never wrong and can live in harmony with the universe.

The next yama is quite self-explanatory. Asteya or non-stealing directs the practitioner away from actions of stealing and eventually removes the root of this assiduous desire. B.K.S. Iyengar is his book Light on Life describes the depth of this practicing and how it can move beyond the non-stealing of another’s property or ideas. He describes how a more advanced yogi may be careful of saying a bad word about another so as to not steal one’s reputation from them and thus cause them to lose future money or property. In class and in the studio, we must foster an attitude of asteya because if a studio has a reputation for people’s things being stolen, practitioners will be distracted and keep thinking about the safety of their belongings. Thus holding strong to this yama, the yoga studio can be a welcoming place to all.

Spiritual advancement by education and training, sexual restraint and continence is categorized under the yama known as brahmacarya. If one’s mind is constantly distracted by desirous thoughts, there will be a struggle to maintain inner peace. In the same way, a yoga class should cultivate a space for self-study and peace so the time on one’s mat can best be used by avoiding desirous thoughts and maintaining focus on the breath and asanas.

The final yama, aparigraha is perhaps the most important and yet remains subtle in practice. This yama pertains to ego and one’s desire for more. On the yogi path, a practitioner keeps watch and does not grasp for what one does not need. There is modesty to life. A yogi need not eat more than he or she needs to horde more than is necessary for their living. In class, as yogis we don’t strive for others’ approval, we appreciate where we are and keep practicing.

Niyamas

Whereas the yamas described how the yogi should interact with the outside world, the niyamas are personal, inner observances. The Niyamas include saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (spiritual effort, austerity, and continuous practice), svadhyaya (self-study), and ishvara pranidha (the practice of self-surrender, worship of God). The niyamas are personal practices for a yogi. How the yogi lives with his or her own self.

As a human being our bodies are constantly creating waste: exhaling carbon dioxide and releasing toxins, making new skin cells and hair follicles fall out. Cleanliness and purity of our home, body and mind are reflections of our inner peace and an important step on the path toward yogic enlightenment. It’s a process that never ends. In the yoga studio, we can teach the practice of saucha by encouraging students to come to class with maintained personal hygiene and minimized body odor. Students should respect each other’s space and not step on each other’s mats. After class, the teacher should encourage their students to place all props back where they were found and clean the sweat off their mats with a cleansing spray and towel.

The next observance is santosha which means good contentment. In no way is this to be confused with apathy or excessive passiveness. Instead santosha teaches a yogi to be grateful for their life circumstances, their body, their relationships and everything else that goes into life. There is much to be content with and as the yoga sutras explain, with good contentment comes joy and blessings. In class the practice of santosha can be taught to students who are straining to achieve more advanced postures or deeper stretches. By being appreciative with where we are in our bodies and our path, we can let our expectations go and live in the present moment. In that moment, we have infinitely more power and grace than when we live in the future or past. If students’ faces are tense and it seems they are pushing, the teacher can encourage them to appreciate where they are and relax into the asana with focus on a calm breath.

In my yoga practice especially with my experience in teacher training at Jai Yoga Arts, I have seen how not practicing santosha in one’s life can bring misery and pain. If I don’t recognize where I am in the moment and all the great steps I’ve taken to get to where I am, I fail to see how it’s possible for me to reach my next goal or achieve my next dream causing me to feel down on myself. By appreciating where we are and how we got there, we are gifted with a strength that can propel us toward any future with passion and grace.

Tapas is the practice of effort through the application of heat. This niyama helps a yogi burn through their karmas which are the buildup of their actions. When we do something it causes something else. These results can build up in our bodies, especially if our actions are causing stress and tension. Through tapas we are able to burn through these karmas and achieve a more open body and existence. Consistent practice is important for a yoga student; the dedicated student must practice every day. Tapas is also linked to austerities and inflicting pain on oneself. This could include not eating ice cream for a year and although this may be a painful experience since ice cream is so delicious, it is done to strengthen oneself and grow.

When students seem to get lazy in class or succumb to a bit of tiredness, the teacher can encourage the practice of tapas by heating up their breath with ujjai practice and with a physical assist to remind them to expand into the asana. One must learn to balance tapas with santosha (contentment). If there is too much tapas the yogi will be pushing too hard and cause harm to his or her body.

People are not just drawn to yoga class for physical activity. Those drawn to yoga enjoy the mental and spiritual practice as well as the physical asana practice. The fourth niyama is svadhyaya which is self-study, the study to know more about the Higher Self and the soul. This introspection leads to a greater awakening to the Soul within. As a yogi, there are several ways to practice svadhyaya. The first way is to read yogic texts like the Yoga Sutras or Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar. When studying these texts, the yogi can reflect on their contents and how the words connect to their inner life. But svadhaya is largely accomplished by careful self-awareness and observation. By looking within, we experience the universe.

In a yoga class, teachers can encourage their students to take an inward focus and feel what is going on within their bodies. The student is learning about the muscles in their body and the thoughts in their mind and thus practicing self-awareness which is the foundation of svadhaya. The teacher can also remind his or her students that the practice of yoga is for the individual alone and they are not in competition with their neighbors to get deeper into an asana.

The last niyama, ishvara pranidhana is total surrender to the higher power or the Self. With this observance comes the culmination of all the other niyamas, and life will naturally flow. If every action and moment of our life is dedicated to the Supreme, we cannot but live in peace. Everyone is part of a universal force that connects everything in the universe. We cannot control the results. We can only control our intention and effort in the moment. Once we can let go of our expectations and give them to a higher power and just do our best here in this moment, we will experience a more peaceful existence with more happiness and bliss.

In an asana class, students can be reminded of this principle with verbal cues that help them feel connected to the bigger picture. Through yoga, students will begin to see how their actions are part of a much larger universal stage and they are just playing their part in its perfection.

Asana

The third limb of yoga is by far the most recognized and widely practiced in America. The third limb pertains to our connection on earth. As a human being we bridge the gap between the earth and the heavens, and in order for us to truly reach our spiritual potential, we must be grounded firmly here on earth. This practice is known as asana, a steady, comfortable posture.

As many know, asanas are the “yoga poses” and postures we put our bodies into during class. It is a chance for us to release tension, strengthen our bodies, and connect with the earth.

A sequence of poses was designed to be practiced along with the other limbs of yoga. The ashtanga asana consists of sun salutations (Suryanamaskara), standing poses, seated poses and savasana. The sequence can be viewed as a metaphor for life and prepares the practitioner for death. With Suryanamaskara the infant awakens and begins to take form and build energy. The standing series of poses fosters the adolescent as he or she begins to find his or her balance and a sense of surefootedness. The adult finds their place in the seated postures until they finally pass on in savasana.

The practice of asana prepares our bodies for meditation and a higher state of consciousness. If our bodies are in dis-ease we will be uncomfortable and continuously distracted from our meditation. Asana practice prepares our bodies for the inward journey which begins with pranayama.

Pranayama

Pranayama is the mindful control of the breath. The inhales, exhales or retentions are to be regulated by either space, time or number and can either be long or short. During pranayama practice we bring our attention onto the breathing process. As we begin to control our breath, we start to regulate the flow of our vital life force, prana. The reason pranayama follows asana in the eight limbs is because pranayama begins to tap into universal forces outside the body and flood the body with strong energies. If there is a kink in the body’s energy lines, the prana can get stuck.  Asana works to release the blocks. Pranayama is a powerful practice that requires experience and readiness. Depending on the level of a class, the teacher must be aware of which pranayama practices they employ as uncomfortable sensations and thoughts are likely to arise during the process if the students are unready.

There are many techniques that can be used to practice the fourth limb of yoga pranayama. In class, pranayama is practiced through the consistent use of the ujjai breath. The ujjai breath builds heat in the body and creates a sound so the practitioner can more easily focus on their breath. Yoga students also practice pranayama when they link their breath with the Vinyasa flow sequence. They are using their breath in a controlled manor. In my experience, pranayama practice can deepen my relaxation into a pose. During my first year of yoga practice, after a vigorous vinyasa heat-building sequence, I settled into pigeon pose. With all my focus on breath, I used it as a tool to release the muscles in my hip. I felt the energy flowing through this previously blocked spot and I received a surge of power.

Other pranayama practices include nadi shodhan and kapalabahti. The first is a beautiful practice to promote a peaceful mind and can be used at the beginning or end of a yoga practice depending on the teacher’s style. Kapalabahti which in Sanskrit means “shining skull,” is an ancient technique used to energize and cleanse. It clears the mind, cleans the lungs, and strengthens the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.

Pratyaharah

The fifth limb of yoga is pratyaharah or sense withdrawal. "When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects (of meditation) and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyaharah," (Patanjali, 2.54). As a yogi, the practitioner recognizes that their senses are always screaming out for their attention. By practicing pratyaharah, the yogi can withdraw inside and prepare for meditation.

The practice of pratyahara becomes evident in class when loud sounds arise outside of the yoga studio like when a big truck drives by and honks its horn. If the student withdraws their sense of hearing away from the horn and back to their breath, they are practicing this limb of yoga. This also happens when the sensation of discomfort arises in an asana and if the student recognizes it and then diverts their attention to their breath, they once again are withdrawing a sense and practicing detachment from it.

Dharana & Dhyana

After one has skill in withdrawing their senses from all the stimuli of the environment, pratyahara, then the sixth limb of yoga dharana can be practiced. Dharana is one-pointed concentration on an object, place or idea. Dharana inevitably leads to the seventh limb dhyana or meditation. As described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, dharana and dhyana are intrinsically linked. “Concentration or dharana is the beginning of meditation or dyhana; dhyana is the culmination of dharana, thus the two are two ends of the same process,” (Patanjali, pg 161). With the practice of single-pointed concentration on the object of meditation, the meditation process can evolve into the true meditation of dhyana which is an uninterrupted stream of consciousness. "Dhyana is the continuous flow of cognition toward that object," (Patanjali, 3.2). "In meditation you have three things: meditator, the meditation and the object meditated upon," (Patanjali, pg 165).

Throughout the class, there is likely too much going on to have a single-pointed direction. The yogi is focusing on moving their body, breathing and taking directions from the instructor. However, toward the end of class when they are entering the practice of seated meditation, then the practice of dharana can be begun. The practitioner focuses meditation on some object which could be their breathing, a beautiful object like a rose or vast ocean, the light within their soul or anything they find enlightening. Dharana is an effort. One must continuously bring oneself back to the object of meditation and work to maintain a constant stream of consciousness. When the effort subsides and the meditation becomes effortless, then dhyana is reached. During the process one will not recognize they have reached a state of meditation because that will have broken the meditation. Only afterwards will it become clear that the practitioner was in a state of meditation.

While studying meditation on a retreat in Los Angeles, I once had an experience of dhyana that was amazing. Throughout the course of a year, I participated in five weekend retreats that consisted of sitting meditation, walking meditation and dharma talks, and little else. I had been practicing sitting meditation all morning during the fifth and final retreat. The practice was challenging and I welcomed the lunch break with my fellow practitioners. After we returned from lunch, we again took our cushions in meditation. My dharana was on my breath. I began to meditate on the oxygenation of my blood as my heart pumps blood and the blood reaches my lungs where it meets the breath and gets oxygenate. From this moment, I reached a state of meditation and saw the insides of my body sustaining my life in a beautifully complex breathing process. Time slipped away and nothing existed except the object of meditation.

Samadhi

The last limb of yoga is samadhi which is a super-conscious state of blissful absorption. Samadhi is not a sustainable state that can be maintained in everyday living but an experience one can have as an extension of mediation. Whereas meditation consists of three objects: the mediator, mediation and the object of meditation, in samadhi there is neither the object nor the mediator but only the shining of the object alone, as if devoid of form. One has communed with the divine.

Samadhi is a state where the observer leaves their body and even this realm. They have an experience where they are one with their object and transcend this plane of existence. Since samadhi is communion with the Higher Self, it is the only state of being or experience that is unchanging. If experience in class, samadhi would likely occur during meditation practice after the body and mind are quieted and one has connected deep within with their object of meditation.

Astanga Yoga

The eight limbs of yoga guide a yogi to enlightenment. Outlined many thousands of years ago, these eight limbs yama (abstinence), niyama (observances), asana (posture practice), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), samadhi (blissful absorption, super-conscious state) are still applicable to daily life and every situation within it. Whether our thoughts, relationships or life circumstances, as yogis we can use astanga yoga as a tool to shed light on our ignorance and imperfections in these areas and continuously grow toward an enlightened existence.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What to do when thoughts arise during meditation

I live in New York City and from the moment I wake up on a workday, I'm thrust into a fast-paced environment that bombards my senses. From walking on the busy sidewalks, vying for a seat on the bus and subway, and then striving to do my best at the office, when am I suppose to find respite in all this chaos? I started meditating because I needed to connect to my inner peace and loosen the grip of my active mind.

Sometimes when I sit down in meditation or lie down in savasana after my yoga practice, my mind just keeps going. When I talk to people who are new to meditation, I discover that they often have never really tried meditation because they believe they're doing it wrong because they can't stop thinking. In the beginning stages, this is not wrong, this is the practice of meditation.

Keep in mind that meditation, when used as a stress-relief tool, will consist of moments of letting go after letting go after letting go with brief calm in between. You are the one letting go. A thought about dinner will arise, you'll observe it, and you let it go. A thought about an ache in your butt will arise, you'll feel it without judgement or attachment and you'll let it go. If a tornado comes, you get off your cushion and down into the cellar, then let it go.

Now what is this letting go and how does one do it? Below are a three tips on what to do if and when thoughts arise in your meditation practice. If you're new to meditation, you should read an introduction to meditation. Meditation is exercise for your mind, you're trimming the fat. Don't forget that.

1. You are not doing it wrong if thoughts arise

If you notice lots of thinking when you sit down to meditate, great! You are being aware of your mind. How often do we actually notice what we're thinking? Not often enough. Too often we think we are our thoughts and feelings. Noticing that you are having thoughts means you are practicing meditation. Congratulations!

Often people assume that meditation is being in a state of bliss devoid of thoughts. While in the highest sense of an enlightened monk or life-long yogi this may be true, for a beginner or someone using meditation as a stress-relief tool, you can expect to experience thinking most of the time. After some practice, you may experience moments of bliss and that's great! Don't try to recreate these moments just appreciate them when you get them.

2. Label your thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, meditation is a practice. In the beginning you are going to be practicing a lot of letting go. When a thought arises, notice it and label it.You don't have to label it anything complex. You can just labeling it "thinking" or "thought" or "mind." Whatever rings true to you. The point of labeling your thoughts is to strengthen the observer within you. We are not our thoughts but often we feel like we are. We get attached to our ideas and feelings.

During meditation you let go of these attachments because they are false. You are not your thoughts, your feelings or your body for that matter. You are bigger than that. By labeling your thought, you start to see, "I'm not just my thought. I have an awareness bigger than my thought that has the power to label my thought." This process of labeling thoughts prepares us for difficult situations in life that might arise like anger or sadness. With this skill of labeling, you will still see and feel the thought but are powerful enough not to become enveloped in it's grasp.

3. Bring it back to breath

So what do you do after you find yourself distracted by a thought? You bring yourself back to the present moment! What is happening in every moment of our life? We are breathing! Either we're inhaling or exhaling or somewhere in between but the breath is always present. It is essential for life, so bring your attention back to that. The mind is like a telescope and can only focus on one thing at a time. Once you bring your focus back to your breath, the thoughts will fade away.

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If you have any questions or contributions, please write them in the comment section below. I would love to have a conversation with you.



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Active Vinyasa Flow Sequence

Suryanamaskara


Suryanamaskara A
1: Right Foot Lead
2: Left Foot Lead
3: Jump/Step Back

Suryanamaskara B
1: Utkatasana w/ W1
2: Utkatasana w/W1
3: Utkatasana w/W1, W2 and Peaceful Warrior – End in Down Dog

Standing Series


Trikonasana Standing
Flow into Warrior 1, Warrior 2
Trikonasana, Warrior 2(Hold)
Repeat on the Other Side
Prasaritha Padotonnasana C - with interlaced hands behind back
Modified Parivritta Trikonasana – twists
Low Lunge – face front of the room
Down Dog

Parsvakonasana Standing

Flow into Warrior 1, Warrior 2
Parsvakonasana
Repeat on other side
Prasaritha Padotonnasana B - hands at hips squeezing shoulder blades together
Prasaritha Padotonnasana A - hands to floor
Low Lunge – face front of the room
Uttanasana – Forward Bend

Utkatasana Standing and Release

Utkatasana – Build Heat
Padadustasana – Grab Big Toes
Padahastasana – Stand on the palms
Samasthiti

Parivritti Parsvakonasana Sequence
Vrktrasana – Tree Pose
Warrior III
High Lunge (Hold) or Warrior I
Parivritti Parsvakonasana – Prayer Twist
Parsvottanasana – pyramid
Samasthiti
Repeat on other side

Seated Sequence

Dandasana Seated
Flow to DD, jump through to seated
Dandasana
Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend
Purvottanasana – Upward Plank

Bakasana Sequence
Core Cultivation, repeats three times
Flow to DD
Bakasana – Knees on the outside of upper arms

Janusirasana A Sequence
Janusirasana A
Marichyasana C
Navasana
Repeat on other side and hold Navasana

Cresent Moon
Flow to DD
Crescent Moon psoas pulses
Crescent Moon Hold
Repeat on the opposite side
Childs Pose

Urdhva Dhanurasana Sequence
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Urdhva Dhanurasana, twice
Hug Knees
Side Twists

Baddahkonasana Seated
Roll up to seated
Baddahkonasana
Flow to DD
Pigeon on Right
Repeat on Left

Salamba Sarvangasana
Return to seated
Halasana
Salamba Sarvangasana
Matsyasana – Fish Pose

Savasana and Meditation
Savasana
Meditation
Om
Namaste


Jai Yoga Arts Fall 2013 Teacher Training

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

October 2013 Gratitude List

This month's gratitude list is dedicated to Mary Smith, my grandmother, who passed away at the beginning of November. She lived a long life dedicated to what she thought was right and always left space in her heart for God. May she now rest in peace.

To follow is my list of people, events, and things that I was grateful for in the month of October. Every Monday through Friday, I write down 8-10 items that help me remember all the wonderful and inspiring things in my life.
Thank you.

  1. I'm grateful that I discovered that BitCoin exists.
  2. I'm grateful that I am deepening my understanding of the mind.
  3. I'm grateful that I have begun outling my lessons for the meditation & yoga events at the iN Demand CAREnival.
  4. I'm grateful my nutrition is of premium quality and that I eat for my blood type.
  5. I am grateful that I passed and got compliments and feedback on my sun salutations practicum this morning.
  6. I'm grateful that I thought up the idea for Album Yoga: Dark Side of the Moon.
  7. I'm grateful that I had a peaceful day at work ith free pizza
  8. I'm grateful that my bandpage has already gotten two dozen fans.
  9. I'm grateful that we have the support of so many awesome people.
  10. I'm grateful that I am who I am
  11. I'm grateful that tonight I will relax
  12. I'm grateful that I will catch up on sleep.
  13. I'm grateful that Dana invited me to the meeting at work.
  14. I'm grateful that I will relax tonight
  15. I am grateful that I am having an industrious life.
  16. I am grateful I'll be making more money catering this weekend.
  17. I am grateful I will be a certified yoga teacher.
  18. I am grateful that PCS has already gained a few dozen followers.
  19. I'm grateful that my yoga teacher training is going well and I'm learning.
  20. I'm grateful that I sleep enough.
  21. I'm grateful that I live an active, engaged and healthy life.
  22. I'm grateful that I have fun everyday in my life.
  23. I am grateful that my band has established our online presence.
  24. I'm grateful that I figured out how to put our band's music on Facebook with the help of Reddit.
  25. I'm grateful that tonight I will get to sing.
  26. I'm grateful that my parents are in the air to Poland and that I was able to wish them a great trip.
  27. I'm grateful for my band because I find a creative outlet with them.
  28. I'm grateful for my yoga teacher training group because I am growing as an individual.
  29. I'm grateful for Soul Singing by The Black Crowes because the song hits the right notes
  30. I'm grateful for singing because I love to unite my voice with music.
  31. I'm grteful for love because of it's vast possibilities
  32. I'm grateful for my healthy body because it allows me to navigate the world.
  33. I'm grateful for my mind because it is relentless
  34. I'm grateful for humor because it feels so good to laugh
  35. I'm grateful for my girlfriend because she is so pure and beautiful at heart
  36. I'm grateful for my mom & dad because they are great people.
  37. I'm grateful that I had a learning experience at yoga this morning.
  38. I'm grateful that I can feel my higher self and submit myself to the unlimited
  39. I'm grateful that I am taken care of so well because I get to experience amazing opportunities
  40. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to live freely
  41. I'm grateful that I had yesterday off from work.
  42. I'm grateful that I am not my thoughts because I am bigger than them.
  43. I'm grateful that I shed light on my fears because I am brave.
  44. I am grateful that I take risks because it allows me to move forward into bigger opportunities
  45. I'm grateful for song.
  46. I am grateful that I ate a home cooked meal for lunch today.
  47. I'm grateful that I got peppermint tea
  48. I'm grateful that I am winning everytime I breathe
  49. I am grateful that I played drums & sang last night
  50. I'm grateful that last night I was able to complete my gratitude list
  51. I am grateful that I am going to Florida in November
  52. I'm grateful that I have earned more money than ever before this year
  53. I am grateful that I am who I am
  54. I'm grateful for my yoga practice
  55. I'm grateful that I am going to spend time on the beach in Florida because I'll relax and soak up the sun.
  56. I'm grateful that I practiced yoga in the park today on my lunch break
  57. I'm grateful that today I learned about Pranayama breathing
  58. Thank you for everything I have especially my family
  59. I am grateful that I'm growing and diving into my soul
  60. I'm grateful that I'm on my inward journey to discover peace in everything.
  61. I am grateful that I've been practicing yoga in the park because I'm making great use of my lunch breaks
  62. Thank you for putting me into tripod headstand
  63. Thank yoou for my abilitiy to sene alignment in postures
  64. Thank you for my desire to learn and read because I love reading
  65. I am grateful that my yoga can help people
  66. I am grateful that I include others naturally
  67. I am grateful for the stillness inside me
  68. I am grateful that my dristhi can focus on the infinite stability inside my being
  69. Thank you for the opportunity to see my girlfriend and connect with her regulalry.
  70. Thank you for the opportunity to sleep long hours and fully recover my body
  71. Thank you for guiding my journey
  72. Thank you for all the financial flow I've been granted this year
  73. Thank you for providing me with benefits and financial flow that allows me to travel and explore the world.
  74. I am grateful that I connected with teh Long Island P.T. because she gave me some insight into doing yoga with a rehabilitative edge.
  75. I'm grateful that I am a hard working individual who sees opportunities and grabs them when they open up.
  76. Thank you for guiding me on a journey of self discovery and knowledge.
  77. I'm grateful that my girlfriend is so sure footed
  78. I am grateful that I spent my lunch breath on the piers along the river
  79. I'm grateful that my trip to Florida is happening soon.
  80. I'm grateful that my parents are headed back to America after a seemingly awesome trip to Poland.
  81. I'm grateful for my music gear because it sounds awesome.
  82. I am grateful that I created my January Stunt Pitches.
  83. I'm grateful that I submitted my workshop outlines for Healthy U.
  84. I'm grateful that the show for Post Choice Survivor is organized for tonight.
  85. I am grateful that I had yoga teacher training this morning.
  86. I'm grateful that my dad enjoyed the trip to Poland and took some creative photos while abroad.
  87. I'm grateful that I went to yoga this morning and witnessed how powerful my negative emotions ffect my environment when I had trouble in class then got on a stuck train for 30 minutes
  88. I'm grateful that I only have one more day of work left this week.
  89. I am grateful that I got peanuts for free.
  90. I'm grateful that we talked about going into business together.
  91. I'm grateful that today is Friday and I don't work in the office tomorrow
  92. I'm grateful that I have catering tomorrow
  93. I'm grateful that I have fun
  94. I am grateful that I had time to lay in the grass and practice the standing series script.
  95. I'm grateful that today at work I listened to Dark Side of teh Moon, ate peanuts and looked at funny internet pages
  96. I'm grateful that I took 3 hours of yoga last night
  97. I'm grateful that my girlfriend believes in me and I can get paid well
  98. I am grateful that I experienced the Ananda Ashram in Monroe, NY
  99. I am grateful that I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail
  100. I am grateful that my girl and I are communicating very well and open to each other
  101. I am grateful that the doctor gave me a prescription for amoxicillan
  102. I am grateful that I can play music tonight
  103. I am grateful that my employee review is coming up
  104. I am grateful that Rene put up some great photos of our band
  105. I'm grateful that I enjoyed a Subway sandwich for lunch today
  106. I'm grateful that my ear is healing
  107. I'm grateful for the extra paid work with weekend
  108. I'm grateful that I got my hair cut today to look like Christian Bale
  109. I'm grateful that my ear popped this afternoon
  110. I'm grateful that I was able to get yoga added to the Carenival map
  111. I'm grateful that Melanie Ashley posted the meditation ad on In The Know
  112. I'm grateful that I had yoga off today so I could sleep in for two extra hours
  113. I'm grateful that I could talk to my dad during lunch before I got my hair cut
  114. I'm grateful that I have money to buy wine for tonight's dinner
  115. I am grateful that people are signing up for my workshops
  116. I am grateful that i have written my script for my restorative chair yoga sequence
  117. I am grateful that Electric Thought drew record levels up traffic today
  118. I'm grateful that I could work massage events as a RYT
  119. I am grateful that tomorrow I practice teaching students yoga
  120. I'm grateful that I updated my PGST today
  121. I'm grateful that I will play a show with PCS on Halloween
  122. I'm grateful that my ears are starting to heal
  123. I'm grateful for my hearing
  124. I am grateful that I am challenging myself
  125. I am grateful that I can teach yoga & meditation
  126. I am grateful that I cna stand up for myself
  127. I am grateful that I move in the directions of my dreams
  128. I am grateful that I can cry sometimes
  129. I am grateful that my journey always moves forward
  130. I am grateful that I look outside the box
  131. I am grateful that I make an effort to close the gap between what I want and where I am
  132. I'm grateful that I think for myself
  133. I'm grateful that I am being certified as a yoga teacher
  134. I'm grateful that I am alive
  135. I am grateful that I am playing a role in the Comcast EST sale
  136. I am grateful that I am part of Healthy U
  137. I am grateful that I have a supportive girlfriend
  138. I am grateful that my mom, dad & brother are healthy and happy
  139. I'm grateful that my aunt enjoyed the Broadway play and is now planning on seeing a ballet!
  140. I am grateful that my yoga and mediation workshops were successful
  141. I'm grateful that Stacy Gray said, "Can we do this every week?"
  142. I'm grateful that people were open to the new experience
  143. I'm grateful that I had fun teaching the meditation & yoga class
  144. I'm grateful that yoga was fun this morning at Jai
  145. I'm grateful that I have a supportive girlfriend
  146. I'm grateful that I can teach people to be aware of their breathing
  147. I'm grateful that it is the weekend now
  148. I'm grateful that I write my gratitude list everyday
  149. I'm grateful that I will finish my yoga homework tonight before going to the Fat Cat
  150. I am grateful that it is Friday and I'll be enjoying a relaxing evening with my girlfriend
  151. I'm grateful that I ws paid today for my job
  152. I'm grateful that I had fun at the CAREnival last day
  153. I'm grateful that people are still talking about my workshops today
  154. I'm grateful that I am not expected to work ont he weekend without pay
  155. I am grateful that I get to teach corporate yoga at In Demand
  156. I am grateful that I have begun creating my pitch for corporate yoga
  157. I am grateful that I am enjoying my yoga teacher training
  158. I am grateful that I have a beautiful girlfriend
  159. I am grateful that I had fun at the office Halloween party
  160. I am grateful that I had a couple glasses of wine
  161. I am grateful that I get to leave work early today
  162. I am grateful that I have a gig tonight
  163. I am grateful that I am alive & well
  164. I am grateful that my girlfriend is on my side
  165. I am grateful that I helped Rene's friend Raul connect with Vinnie about a marketing job
  166. I am grateful that I connected with Ella bout post teacher training this morning
  167. I am grateful that I hand free tuna sandwiches at work
  168. I am grateful that I have created 300 posts for Electric Thought
  169. I am grateful that I learned how to get some karma points on Reddit
  170. I am grateful tht my dad and his siblings are with my grandma on her last days
  171. I am grateful that my work day is almost over
  172. I am grateful that I got a full night of rest yesterday
  173. I'm grateful that I sat along the Hudson River this afternoon
  174. I'm grateful that I am visiting home this Thanksgiving
  175. I'm grateful for my upcoming trip to Floriday
  176. I'm grateful that I am alive and in a vibrant world
  177. I am grateful that I have money in savings that I can use at my own discretion
  178. I am grateful that I am on a path to making a higher income
  179. I am grateful that I feel unhappy right now so I can examine the feelings and learn from it
And then, before you know it, it's over.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Fireplace and Sanskrit

In the living room of the main building at Ananda Ashram, I noticed the faithful fireplace across from the entry way and the dependable lesson charts near the windows when I arrived for my Sanskrit lesson. However, our Sanskrit teacher Bharati was nowhere to be found. The drive from Brooklyn made my yoga teacher training group a few minutes late for the scheduled class start time, and because no students were present, Bharati had cheerfully gone upstairs to clean and complete her daily household chores. When she was found, the opportunity to teach Sanskrit sparked a divine youthful excitement, and she promptly shifted gears and gathered us into the fireplace room.

The wrinkled paper of the Sanskrit alphabet lesson chart told stories of the many students over the years who had also sat on my cushion to witness the passion Bharati has found in the sound of Sanskrit. Bharati sang in chant the alphabet of Sanskrit as she guided our eyes across the page at the front of the room. Note taking would only distract me from her lesson as the transmission of information was more potent through the sound of Bharati's voice and the playful purity of her eyes. The lightness was contagious and I left my first Sanskrit lesson more enlightened and educated.

That night, I returned to the fireplace room and witnessed a more solemn Bharati leading the daily Ananda Ashram fire ceremony. She chanted and played the harmonium and sank into the words and sounds. During meditation, I opened my eyes for curiosity and witnessed the teacher in a deep state of inward facing concentration. Bharati is a dedicated teacher who lives her lessons and teaches best by example.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why Yoga in the Workplace?

The average America worker is living with stress. Not only is yoga a technique to alleviate stress, yoga is also scientifically proven to reduce risk of various chronic health conditions.

The average American worker is stressed out. In a study conducted by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems, and over 75% employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.

In a national study conducted by Harris Interactive titled “Attitudes in the American Workplace VII,” 80 % of workers feel stress on the job and nearly want help learning how to manage stress. An alarming 35% of American workers say their jobs are harming their physical or emotional health and 42% say their jobs are interfering with their personal relationships.

According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga unites the physical and mental to achieve peacefulness of mind & body, and helps people relax while managing stress and anxiety. Not only have studies shown that yoga can help reduce stress, it can also enhance participants’ overall mood. Physically yoga enhances one’s flexibility and builds strength. Mentally it increases mental sharpness and reduces stress. Yoga is also recognized as a tool to reduce risk factors for major chronic diseases like heart disease and high blood pressure and might also help alleviate chronic conditions like pain and insomnia.