Archive for April, 2012

20 Minute Continuous OM Every First Saturday

Friday, April 27th, 2012

On the first Saturday of every month at 9:15am* students are welcome to join us at Karuna for a 20 minute continuous OM followed by 10 minutes of silent meditation. All are welcome to join in for free.

This OM was recently recorded at Karuna. Participants contemplated Sutra 1.27 & 1.28:

I:27: tasya vacakah pranavah. Iswara is presented by the sacred syllable aum.

I:28: Tajjapah tadarthabhavanam. This mantra is to be repeated constantly with feeling, realizing its full significance, and holding the meaning in your heart as you chant.

*please arrive on time. Doors will close at 9:15

For the Spring

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

“First of all, establish a constant contact with your self, be with yourself all the time. Into self-awareness all blessings flow. Begin as a centre of observation, deliberate cognizance, and grow into a centre of love in action. “I am” is a tiny seed which will grow into a mighty tree – quite naturally, without a trace of effort.”

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

A Letter From a Student

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Dear Karuna,

Two years I was read the riot act from my doctor when I went for my annual check-up. Body was creaky, blood pressure, which had always been high normal since my early 20’s, was now high (150/105), my cholesterol numbers were not good but not terrible, and I was about 40 pounds overweight. After promising the doctor to be better, I spent a year getting worse, putting on another 10 pounds or so, and starting to look and feel like my elderly father.  Around 4 months ago on my birthday I made a resolution to eat moderately better and start pranayama, restorative and gentle yoga classes 2X weekly at Karuna on advice of a friend who is also a student at Karuna. A couple of weeks ago I went back to the doctor feeling better than I had felt in years. And the reports were amazing. My weight is down by 25 pounds and my cholesterol numbers are normal (simple dietary changes has a lot to do with this), but the other improvements are definitely the yoga. Amazingly, in just 4 months I have reclaimed a quarter inch back on my height (I still have another quarter inch to go), and most exciting, my blood pressure is spot-on normal by statistic (120/80, and that was on a high stress morning), and personally better than it has been since my teen years when I was super athlete.  Most important for me, I feel at least a decade younger, and I have really only just started. Can’t wait to see how things are after a year.

Chris Marano

Chris is the founder of Clearpath Herbals: http://www.clearpathherbals.com

Twist Into Spring Detox- One week later…

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Twist and Detox – One Week Later

It has been one week since the twist workshop and I feel amazing – very open and light. I have been trying to carry over some of these new habits: changing my diet moderately to include more vegetables and fruit, with more basic grains. As far as my diet goes -I have gotten much simpler. Nothing too fussy, just simple and clean.

I have also been taking more time for myself, or what I would like to call “smell the flowers time”. My workload has picked up at my full time job, but even with this extra work and stress, I am taking more time for myself and allowing time to be with myself. Spring brings so many beautiful things that you can miss if you don’t pay attention – in yourself and your surroundings. If my time with the detox has taught me anything, it is to enjoy that time.

The workshop itself had a larger effect on me than I originally thought. I left with a rather large post-class euphoria. I was really affected by the chakra-related twist. I love working with natural rotation/axis. Feeling the natural rotation and momentum that the body has, without much effort, is very powerful. I look forward to next year’s detox and Twist Into Spring workshop.

Paul Menard, Karuna Yoga Teacher, 500 Hout Teacher Training Student

Twist into Spring Detox, Part 2

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Detox Diet: Day 4

Today was a practice in opposites. My day began with a mad dash out of the house. We were off to a family gathering, then to a restaurant for lunch. Thankfully, I made my tea and had my two glasses of water. I even made a fruity-delicious liver cleansing drink. Without these I would have been lost. Perhaps the mad dash was due to all of this liquid preparation?

When we made it to the meal, I was hungry again. Everyone was drinking wine – there was even a glass bought for me that I had to politely refuse. Then the meal was served (buffet style). 3 meat options (which included pasta or veg) and salad.

I immediately gravitated to the salad. I could not eat everything in the salad (tomatoes and mushrooms) or the dressing. For this reason I got many looks and questions. This did not bother me – what bothered me was the host of cravings that followed.

Craving 1: Meat. I haven’t eaten it in a while, I suppose I was due for a craving

Craving 2: Cheese, which led to

Craving 3: Pizza

I tried not to think about it and made myself a beautiful roasted vegetable lunch with greens and sprouts when I got home.

Then my mood switched and I had some alone time. I spent some time meditating and looking out at the river. I am still fascinated how quickly my focus turns inward this week, especially when I give myself time for myself.

Frankie (my faithful pug) and I took a nice walk afterward and had a wonderful run in with a bird. (for those of you who haven’t noticed, the birds came back all at once). This particular bird was sitting on the grass when Frankie and I walked by. He (I have determined he is a male – no science behind this whatsoever) hopped into the tree above where he settled so comfortably. We stopped to watch him, Frankie taking a seat on the grass.

We then proceed to have a staring competition that lasted a few minutes. The bird finally gave in with a chirp and a flourish – victory is mine.

What I learned today:

– There will be temptations along this journey

– Roasted veggies are a perfectly acceptable alternative to meat

– I need practice steeping tea

– I now think staring competitions with birds are interesting.

Detox Diet – Day 5

Day 5 is here! (more…)

Beginner’s Mind and Sutras I.1-I.4

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Students in Karuna’s current 200 hour teacher training were assigned to read sutras I.1-1.4 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the essay Beginner’s Mind by Abbess Zenkel Blanche Hartman. Here are some of their responses.

20120406-082242.jpg Karoun Charkoudian, 200 Hour Teacher Training Student.

Over the past three weeks as I have been introduced to the Iyengar practice, as well as re-introduced to my own yoga practice (away from teaching) I have gained a heightened awareness around how my thoughts affect my practice, and my life. Beginning my own practice again has helped me to start to still some of the fluctuations of the mind both on and off of the mat.
Sutra 1.2 Yogas chitta vritti nrodha, defines the purpose of yoga – the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind, the vrittis. When I first started practicing at home three weeks ago, I was trying to get the practice over with as quickly as possible. The vrittis included keeping close track of time, counting breaths as quickly as I could, and just generally trying to get it over with.
I noticed how far away I was from Abbess Zenkel Blanche Hartman’s description of the “Beginner’s Mind.” Ironically, it was a glimpse of the “Beginner’s Mind” that brought me to the Iyengar practice in the first place. I remember the first time that I did shoulder stand with a chair last Spring — the engaged support – the energy went woosh through my body, and my legs were so high up in the air. I didn’t wonder about anything around me or what the clock was doing, I just felt like, wow, this is great! I felt like the child with a spoon that Hartman describes: “just engaging with it…it was a delight to see what he could do with this thing.” This was a whole new way of doing yoga, and it woke me up. I didn’t know I could feel this way after 8 years of practice – so new and refreshed. I could get a glimpse of this very “intimate” place with myself, as Hartman references.
Now that I have committed to the teacher training, I feel like getting back to that beginner’s mind is a lot more difficult. Upon this path to get back to beginner’s mind and bring Sutra 1.2 to life – in my life, I decided to examine where else I was trying to move as quickly as I can while watching the time, as I had in my home practice. Surprise — I exhibited this behavior in most of the activities in my life!
The next morning my boyfriend wanted to “hang out” and I could not be present with him, I was pre-occupied and resentful and all I could think about were errands that needed to get done. And then when I finally ran the errands, my mind was already on the next task, not able to get that done fast enough. I thought that once I got the errands done I would be more relaxed. But I wasn’t — it was one thing after the next — exactly as I had been feeling from pose to pose in my home practice. I’ve been acting this way for a long time — just the awareness of this behavior was a great first step for me. This is how my home practice is starting to challenge the way that I think and feel. Here was a perfect example of the seer absorbed in the changing states of the mind (Sutra 1.4 Vritti sarupyam itaratra). I get so lost in the chitta vrittis, I can’t see anything else.
Once I had become aware of this behavior, I was able to start to release it, and for the next few days in my home practice my thoughts were no longer on the clock, but rather focusing in the body and breath: After a particular Tadasana – Uttkatasana series at home, I felt this incredible sense of heat rushing through my arms and my hands — what a sense of “alive” it was.
Although I was able to start to find more stillness in my practice, It seems that the rhythm and discipline will take some time. I need to find a deeper place. As Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj says, “[the mind] may go blank occasionally, but it does it for a time and reverts to its usual restlessness.” And just like that, I took two days off of my yoga practice, and Tuesday morning I found myself waking up and worrying. Why was I worrying so much? I realized that I hadn’t done my Iyengar home practice in two days and it was really affecting me in the way that the mind was “dwelling in the vrittis” — Sutra 1.4 Vritti sarupyam itaratra. When I was doing a regular Iyengar practice, I was feeling a strong physical and emotional body.
I woke up again the next morning worrying, but this time I went right to my home practice. After pranayama, all the worries and thoughts (detrimental vrittis) seemed much further away. And after the Iyengar home practice, I was laying in Savasana and suddenly all of these solutions to my problems just started to float up to the top of my consciousness, just like that. I also had this “aha” moment where I suddenly felt I had all of these support systems in my life. I haven’t felt that sense of support since I moved to Springfield 3 years ago. I sat for a while after savasana just basking in that feeling of support. It was a really neat shift, on the path to yogas chitta vritti nrodha, Sutra 1.2.
According to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the mind will always be restless, and it is the Self that is always at peace. The sutras say that as we still the fluctuations of the mind the seer can become aware of its peaceful self and abide in that nature.
And so, in conclusion, as I continue on in this seemingly endless shift between fluctuating mind and brief glimpses of the deeper peaceful “Self” that is referred to by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Patanjali, and Abbess Zennkei Blanche Hartman, I find that patience and discipline in continuing a regular yoga practice are paramount. As I peel away the layers of emotions and thoughts, step by step I can catch more glimpses of the seer abiding in its true nature.

20120406-083234.jpg Janan Scott, 200 Hour Teacher Training Student

yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah

I.

I am neither teeth nor tongue but can be like both:
Soft and mushy in places, square and clenched in others.

Teeth and tongue are the gates to the throat, this deep opening
that cocoons around the root, wet and slippery as the sources of the self.

Today I am dancing from my spine
to the humming tune of an unquiet mind.

Tomorrow will sound more quietly.

II.

Come, I have left my door ajar because I thought you might pass
just as the shadows of the sun pass through the day.

I welcome you chattering monkey, restless chipmunk chewing
on my ear, because it seems the only way to free you from me.

Something about love, it is the only balm for the broken minded.
The chewed-upon ear, the clenching teeth and wriggling tongue.

Something about the absence of love that echoes and troubles so deeply in us.

III.

Now will always be the beginning, new as the glowing and downy
fur of fresh chestnuts when released from their prickly shells.

I am not seeking, just opening my own chestnut skin,
peeling away old beginnings to receive new ones.

Begin again. We are always in the business of beginning,
collecting ourselves in the composted layers of all we do not know.

Often I forget this, for it is only the beginning.

20120406-083955.jpg Suzie Goldstein, Yoga teacher, 200 Hour Teacher Training Student

Yoked

Yoga strips away
Aspects of my identity
The aspects I cling to
Most.
Fluctuations of the mind
Constantly telling me
What not to be
Showering me in the limitations of
My ability.
Will I ever be good enough?

Distracted
Vrttis keep me busy and unaware
Vrttis block the authentic shimmer of my heart.

Like a one way mirror,
The heart cannot be seen.
Hiding in the pervasive reflection of the mind.
Hiding in the abundant waves of my thoughts.

Yoga delivers me to my insides
Complex and churning
The waves of my thoughts crash
Against the shore of my heart
Clear vision
Raw vision
Vulnerability
Fear
Frustration
Sadness
Hollow insides
Fear
Again.
But wait!
Don’t give up!
Kick up again!
Breathe.

The power of the fluctuating mind
Returns
Endures
Convincing me to stay away from that which stills it.
That yoga where the mind drops into the heart
And the heart drops into the mind
And there is
Oneness.
I am me but I am not.
I am nothing
Yet,
I am everything.

A challenging place to be
To feel yourself
Fully.
To face your inner workings
Head
To
Head.

How do you bridge the gap from that world?
External,
To this One?
This world inside.
To be okay in the space of my raw heart
To be okay in the space of my vulnerability.
To be yoga.
To be yoked.