3 Short Yoga Practices to Manage Stress. Get your free guide.

The Secret is Out

      Much of the teachings of yoga was meant to be secret.  The analogy is given that if I light a candle in my dark room at night, the candle will light up every corner of the room and I can experience that the candle as having a big effect.  However if I take that same candle outdoors in a large forest or large field under the night sky the candle cannot possibly light up the outdoors like it does in the confines of a room. The teachings of yoga may have a huge impact on a single individual, but to put the teachings out into the whole wide world will have less impact and will be subject to much distortion and dilution. In a way this is what is happening to hatha yoga and yoga in general. Yoga was originally passed from an enlightened guru to student, not in the current form in the West of drop-in yoga classes.  

     Many places that teach yoga attempt to maintain the integrity of “hatha yoga” yet...

Continue Reading...

A Peaceful Mind Does Not Mean Passivity

     Given a question that I was asked, I feel compelled to write a followup to last week’s blog on the Four Attitudes of Peace (https://somalumina-yoga.mykajabi.com/blog/four-noble-attitudes).  These four attitudes are found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra I.33.  To review, “this sutra says that there are basically four types of encounters with people - happy, unhappy, virtuous and wicked in which having the  attitude of friendliness, compassion, delight, and disregard, respectively keep your mind at peace.”  The question I was asked is where are the boundaries set? Remember this sutra is only about the mental state to strive for in the given scenarios of encounters with the happy, unhappy, merits, and non-meritous.  The idea of the four attitudes is to keep your own mind at peace. It does not speak to the type of action to take in terms of behaviors and setting boundaries.  However, with a peaceful mind,...

Continue Reading...

Four Attitudes for Peace

     "Can't we all get along?"  were the words spoken by Rodney King in 1992, who was brutally beaten for 15 minutes by four Los Angeles police officers causing multiple fractures including a skull fracture and brain damage. His words were an attempt to mollify the race riots that broke out after the jury acquitted the four LA police officers.  His crime was driving under the influence.  If anyone had a right to be angry at the brutality by the four LA police officers, it was Rodney King. But in the midst of a city in flames from rioting, Rodney King kept an attitude toward peace, asking the public, “Can’t we all get along?”

     Around 300 A.C.E. the Yoga Sutras authored by Patanjali synthesizes the means to reach the Self-realized state of Yoga. In the first chapter Patanjali defines the state of Yoga as the stilling of the chatter of the mind so that one’s true nature is allowed to be revealed. In this...

Continue Reading...

Namaste

     In these days of acknowledging and being sensitive to the diversity of peoples and their cultures, I am reconsidering the use of “Namaste" at the end of my yoga classes. In the yoga community it is very common to end of class by placing palms together in front of your chest and bowing your head down as an acknowledgement to yourself and others while saying, “Namaste.” Mainly because I have been made aware that it is more culturally appropriate as a greeting and not as a departing that I will no longer use it at the end of class. I am wondering whether to use it at all as a non-East Indian.  Can someone not from the same cultural background become an adoptee of the culture? I believe that this possible if done with the genuine desire to create a deeper understanding of the culture and not a from a desire for appropriation and domination.  I have a deep sense of connection to yoga that draws me to the culture of its origin....

Continue Reading...

Full Moon - the Light of Reflection

     The light of the moon is a reflective light.  On the night of the full moon we see the moon fully lit by its ability to reflect the light of the sun without emitting the heat. In tantric yoga the moon has the quality of coolness, reflection, calm and contentment. The moon relates to the mind, or consciousness, whereas the sun relates to the life force, or prana.

     In yogic symbology the moon represents the crown chakra, the thousand petal lotus. The crown is the container of soma, a healing elixir.  This soma from the crown pours downward soothing the brain and nervous system to bring inner calmness.

     Yoga practices prepare the body to open the crown chakra and to receive the benefits of this soma. This nectar is not accessible to the ordinary mind. You must develop a  no-mind.  Illustration of deities with their heads cut off represent this idea of no-mind. No mind is...

Continue Reading...

Self-science of the Self

Biology is the science of living organisms. Chemistry is the science of the composition and interaction of matter. Physics is the science of the phenomenon of nature occurring between energy and matter. Through science we try to gain a deeper understanding of our natural outer world.

Yoga is the science to explore the nature of the Self.  It takes a scientific approach with you as the investigator and the participant.  The science of yoga is to gain a deeper understanding of the "inner" world. Throughout our existence humans have asked the questions, "Who am I?" and "Why do I exist?" These question have led to soul searching.  So how does one get from downward-facing dog pose to the the nature of the Self?

In the Classical [as opposed to Jnana(wisdom), Bhakti(devotional), or Karma(service)] yoga path, the aim is for the instrument of your body, breath, and mind to be properly functioning and calibrated. The postures note areas of tension,...

Continue Reading...

Separation versus Belonging

           "A man said to the Universe, 'Sir, I exist.'

          'Yes,' replied the Universe, 'But the fact has not created in me a sense of            obligation.'"

     I remember as a teenager coming across that quote of Stephen Crane, and it really bothered me.  Is the universe really that indifferent?  It would make me depressed to think that our existence had no significance. 

     Decades later, through my own practice of yoga and self-reflection, I realized that the quote revealed more about the state of mind of the man having a disconnected relationship to the Universe than about any lack of concern on the part of the Universe.  The man seeing himself as separate ("I exist") from all that is, of course, will lead to the sense that the Universe is indifferent.

     The state of Yoga is all about...

Continue Reading...

Yoga Breath Practices to Beat the Heat

 

 Watch the video to learn a yoga breathing practices, shitali and shitkari to beat the heat. These practices cool the body and the mind.  Try several repetitions and notice the effect.  As the world is heats up, let's keep a cool mind and body to bring our best selves forward.

Continue Reading...

Yoga: The Remedy for Suffering

     I have to admit I struggle with finding my joy in a world that is experiencing havoc.  Climate change is causing extreme fires, droughts, and floods. Institutions and governments promote unjust hierarchy through racism, sexism, religious dogma, and economic greed. The pandemic of Covid-19 seems unending. Recently I read about three doctors in training at a hospital in the Bronx committing suicide within eight months of each other in the department of internal medicine.  A healthcare system that is suppose to take care of the sick cannot even take care of its own. 

     Even if I feel joy and gratitude, should I express it in the midst of the suffering of others?  This past weekend there was a BIPOC mental health awareness and Resource Fair in a park in the minority community.  It lifted my spirit to see people coming out in support of each other.  This made me realize that joy and gratitude is to be shared...

Continue Reading...

Exploring Inner Space

     Billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are racing to outer space as if that is the final frontier. Actually, since humans have already landed on the moon, and the Hubble telescope has brought us images deep beyond our galaxy, the race appears to be a way to explore a new commercial frontier.  I like to say that the exploration of individual inner space will always be the final frontier. The fruits of such a pursuit go beyond earthly rewards.

     Yoga is the vehicle and the breath is the booster rocket that propels the mind to enter this subtle inner space of consciousness which the body occupies. This inner space can be explored in postures, as well as in meditation.  The movement through postures awakens us to the presence of prana shakti. Prana is often defined as  life force. This life force is the impulse of cosmic, absolute consciousness to create life. Given this primordial source, prana is...

Continue Reading...
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.