Archive for May, 2012

Arun in June!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

On June 14th and 15th Master Iyengar Teacher H.S. Arun  from Bangalore, India will be teaching at Karuna! . Arun is a much loved visitor at Karuna. Chris Hamil has written a little about his experience practicing with Arun last year.

I was fortunate enough to take Arun’s friday morning class last summer at Karuna. He laughed about how he had never taught a restorative class in the morning, and how rarely he practiced in the middle of the day. In India he told me, it’s just too hot! His cunning and sense of humor made the class feel so natural and simple, yet I walked away that morning with a profoundly new appreciation for the art of yoga. Eileen said to me after class, “he teaches no frills yoga,” and everything about that is true. His experience and style as a teacher cuts straight to the core of the practice itself, leaving the practitioner with nothing but their open hearts to work with. At the end of class, as he was sitting there he was smiling. And it wasn’t a smile I recognized, but rather a smile that reciprocated the essence of his teaching: Yoga, life, and love are all very much the same thing, they are all extraordinarily simple.

Chris Hamil, Karuna Teacher, Poet, Heart Warmer.

Garlic Mustard

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Garlic Mustard
Allaria petlolata,  Brassicaceae [Mustard family]

Maligned as a stubborn invasive, this common herb found along roadsides and edges between field and forest is an unsung hero for both planet and people. A pre-eminent Earth-healing plant, garlic mustard does not deplete but rather enriches soil, returning nutrients to worn-out, people-disturbed areas.  Wherever one finds a stand of garlic mustard, underneath the soil will be richer and darker, and other plants in its vicinity will benefit from the added nutrition.
Garlic mustard is nutritious – and delicious — for people as well. Part garlic-tasting and part mustard-tasting when eaten raw in salads or as a pesto, it provides as much nutrition as any Brassica grown in the garden, rich in vitamins A and C. Cooked as a pot herb, it loses its pungency but retains most of its nutrition.
Medicinally, its pungent nature is warming and stimulating, promoting movement of qi, dissolving congestion, allowing for smoother flow of fluids and healthier-functioning mucous membranes. It  enhances all aspects of digestion, assimilation and elimination, from stomach and liver to small and large intestines, stimulating release of digestive juices. It clears congestion and hoarseness from sinuses, throat and lungs, an effective treatment for enhancing lung health and capacity. It stimulates urination, and the seed helps dissolve urinary tract deposits. Taken hot it promotes circulation and opens the pores, promoting perspiration and the release of toxins. And seed and leaf are rich in antioxidants, helping to keep our blood clean and immune system strong.

Too good to ignore, insult, or abuse, Garlic Mustard quietly calls to us from the forest edges, asking us to generously partake of its food and medicine.

By Chris Marano, Founder of Clearpath Herbals:

Thank You Kendra…

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Thank you Kendra for oiling the cogs at Karuna to keep everything running smoothly…

…and for being such a stylish lady!

Yoga Loft Advanced Teacher Training Graduation

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

El Nido, Philippines

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

These pictures were sent by Anne Wagner, a recent graduate of the 200hr teacher training at Karuna. They where taken in the Philippines where she and her family have been for the past 4 months. We look forward too her homecoming in a couple weeks!




Gate Gate Paragate

Gratitude: Abhinevsa’s Antidote

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Loren Magruder, 500hr Karuna Advanced Teacher Training Graduate, Mother

Gratitude: Abhinevsa’s Antidote

Recently I have been meditating on death and it has had an unintended result- overwhelming gratitude.   This is an evolution from my past relationship with Death (read Denial), which included juvenile ruminations about my parents dying to paralyzing anxiety in my early twenties about myself dying.  In the past few years, I have been experiencing birth and death (of my own children and dear friends respectively) which has culminated in deep work and investigation regarding my own mortality and the inevitable loss of those I hold closest.

Adyashanti said that “when we experience anything fully we also experience its opposite”, that vajra-wisdom struck my heart and has become a mantra in those moments when death thoughts intrude.  When I fell deeply in love, I also fell deeply in fear, for opening my heart so wide to love also opens it to inevitable heartbreak– as with life– for “until we embrace death, we cannot live fully” asserts Stephen Jenkinson in the documentary Griefwalker (which follows his revolutionary palliative care work and can be watched online at ).  Iyengar echos this in his commentary on Sutra II.9: “the Sadhaka perceives that there is no difference between life and death, that they are simply two sides of the same coin. He understands that the current of Self, the life-force, active while alive, merges with the universe when it leaves the body at death”.

As I attempt to face Death instead of rebuke it when those thoughts “intrude” I have begun to experience great space, deeper exhalations and my heart has opened more than I thought possible.  That said, I have yet to lose anyone in my closest circle and the hubris with which my intellect writes this reflects that.  But gratitude… this deep soul-stirring thankfulness and joy for the moments that I have been granted.. has been the ultimate antidote to abhinevesa, this inherent and universal fear of death.  Do not mistake me, the fear is still there, merely the other side of the coin it shares with Love, but I have this empowering ability each moment to choose with which lens I view this precious human birth.

There is so much yogic wisdom addressing Death— Sutra II.9, Sutra 2.48, Savasana, the Katha Upanishads.  In the Katha Upanishads the Seeker Naciketas pleads with Death itself to tell him what happens after he dies, Death offers him anything else instead, riches, women, success, “but about that don’t ask me” Death says.  Then the author goes on to outline the numerous paradoxes we are asked to accept when we incarnate.  Closing his exposition with the ultimate paradox:  “Yoga is the coming-into-being as well as the ceasing-to-be.”  Jenkinson says that Death is the ultimate crucible for making human beings- “it’s not success, it’s not growth, it’s not happiness, it is Death- that’s the cradle of your love of life, the fact that it IS”.

I suppose this investigation will continue for the rest of my life and challenge me when the grief arrives after the inevitable loss of those I love comes.   I feel buoyed and incredibly blessed by the teachings of yoga, which require me to face death and by doing so live with more presence.  So how can I let Kali and Durga cohabitate in peace?  How can I open wide the doors of my own heart and surrender to its lessons in impermanence, fear and santosha?  How can I embrace my children completely with the knowledge that we gave them life and at the same time eventual death? Now the yoga teacher in me asks you- what can you do to infuse savasana into every other asana?

BKS Iyengar 1977

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Appreciating Our Teachers: Rodney Yee

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

This past week Rodney Yee was at Karuna for his annual week long Advanced Yoga Study. On Thursday night Rodney taught an open class for the public which had around 100 participants and several assistants including Eileen Muir and Rodney’s wife Coleen. The energy was high and bright as we worked through a series of twists for the two-hour class. Rodney wove his way through the maze of limbs and mats, maintaining a grounded connection with each student.

Towards the end of the class Rodney instructed us to lie on our backs and place our feet on the ground close to our sit bones. He then asked us to place our hands on the floor next to our ears, palms down, fingers facing our shoulders. Silently every student prepared themselves for the challenging pose that was to come next: urdvha danurasana. Upon instruction we lifted our pelvis high and waited for the next action to position us into the back bend. Then, with gentle chiding, Rodney told us all to settle our pelvises back on the ground. He had caught us, every single person, anticipating. He had caught all of us not being in the present. The studio erupted with laughter as Rodney teased us about this simple yet profound moment. We had all forgotten to stay with the present. Our bodies and minds had started to tell the story of The Urdhva Danurasana: Full Pose rather than the moment of inhale, or the next of bringing our elbows toward one another, or the next of exhale, or of the feeling of the air on our skin, or the sound reverberating within the studio, or the layer just beneath our skin, or the space seven inches in front of each of us…

Everyone had their own experience of Rodney’s class but this moment resounded for many if not all of us. Speaking only for myself but I suspect many others as well, I am grateful to have shared this moment and my practice with Rodney and the Karuna community. I visited Rodney’s blog after class and found this quote to be especially true: “Train yourself to be in awe of the subtle, and you will live in a world of beauty and ease”. I believe that the subtle is our keyhole into the present and I would like to thank Rodney for reminding me that the present is where I want to be.

Erin McNally, Karuna Student, 200YTT Graduate, Blog keeper.

For Contemplation

Monday, May 7th, 2012

It is not what you do, but what you stop doing that matters.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj