Archive for April, 2013

Pranayama Prose

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

There are moments in practice that are hard to describe. There are moments that feel so bold and bright or subtle and beautiful that they cannot be easily contained in words. Yet as students and teachers we strive to communicate with each other about these experiences. When just words cannot fulfill our desire to share the experience of practice, art can help to get the message across. For the past few years Chris Hamel, a teacher at Karuna, has been sharing his experience of practice with the Karuna community through poems. Recently he shared his experience of three pranayama techniques, Brahmari, Ujjayi, and San Mukhi Mudra, in the following poems. He writes this as a preface to the poems: “The truth is I know no words that could ever sum up how what I practice makes me feel; and I only believe my opinions on such matters enough to let them in one ear and out the other. With pranayama especially, my ability to explain what it is that I perceive is best transformed and transmuted through the guise of stanza. To say more than enough with less than adequate words! What a relief. Thank you.”


To make a sound

the bee

vibrates its entire being

so much so that

it bends the rules

of what this

physical body

pretends to be.


For it is in sound

that one may conquer inwards

to out

the external senses,


By becoming the radiance

of your very bee




That glorious expansion,

which becomes the chariot

to take your whole heart

back to the sea.


Glorious as in

seeing within your mother’s eyes

that which created the both of you,


Expansive as in

finding out for the first time

with your own eyes

the different stars

of the southern hemisphere,


surrender to such and become

so sure

of what potential lies

within the depths of what you have yet to become,

but always have been

and could never

be nothing but.




Remember when you were little,

being out in public?


How every turn

was a brand new experience,

just like how

cultivating curiosity

was like searching for dandelions in the early summer.


So to is it

to explore that which holds the breath

that fills your heart.

One step

followed by the next,


with unknowing,


Full but

there’s always room for more.


And without such exploration,

how could we remember?


That which is the essence of innocence,

that which remains

the child of us all.


San Mukhi Mudra


Ever wondered

what God is doing

when we’re fast asleep?


And maybe how come


We feel the best in the morning

when we leave the entirety of our being

up to that great friend?


Oh but to hear my breath

from God’s ears.


To feel God’s face

with the brush of my finger tips.


To know

that not a single moment

in all this that is

has ever acted without

that friend’s hand

on my back

insisting that I

just walk right in.

Chris Hamel teaches Wednesday mornings 9-10:30 at Karuna. He is also teaching the current Intro to Yoga: 8-Week Beginner Course Friday evenings. Check out one of his classes to experience his poetic interweaving of the subtle beauties of asana with the subtle beauties of life.

Dark Night of the Soul

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Dark Night of the Soul
St. John of the Cross

Once in the dark of night,
Inflamed with love and wanting, I arose
(O coming of delight!)
And went, as no one knows,
When all my house lay long in deep repose

All in the dark went right,
Down secret steps, disguised in other clothes,
(O coming of delight!)
In dark when no one knows,
When all my house lay long in deep repose.

And in the luck of night
In secret places where no other spied
I went without my sight
Without a light to guide
Except the heart that lit me from inside.

It guided me and shone
Surer than noonday sunlight over me,
And lead me to the one
Whom only I could see
Deep in a place where only we could be.

O guiding dark of night!
O dark of night more darling than the dawn!
O night that can unite
A lover and loved one,
Lover and loved one moved in unison.

And on my flowering breast
Which I had kept for him and him alone
He slept as I caressed
And loved him for my own,
Breathing an air from redolent cedars blown.

And from the castle wall
The wind came down to winnow through his hair
Bidding his fingers fall,
Searing my throat with air
And all my senses were suspended there.

I stayed there to forget.
There on my lover, face to face, I lay.
All ended, and I let
My cares all fall away
Forgotten in the lilies on that day.

Perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive

Friday, April 12th, 2013

You observe the heart feeling, the mind thinking, the body acting; the very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.

~ Nisargadatta.