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POP!

In the blink of an eye life can go "pop".  If you been breathing on this planet, you know what I mean.  Life goes along its usual routine, then “pop” life interrupts the flow.   Last week,  “Pop,” went my daughter’s Achille’s tendon and now her world has suddenly become restricted her senior year of college.  She will not be able to drive for the next several months.  Her “Pop” becomes my “pop”.   I drop what I'm doing and make my plans to be with her for a week post-surgery.

Life is full of pops.   Some small. Some big.Some devastating.  They are going to happen. The question is how do we cope when these pops emerge to shake us out of routine? Some of it depends on our constitution and ability to manage ourselves in life, and part of it depends on circumstances and the degree of support we have in our lives.  I feel fortunate.  I am...

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Vulnerability and Adaptability in a Changing World

Changing with the times is what life demands.  Relationships, jobs, politics, physical health, physical environment undergo constant change and at times can be  overwhelming. 

My own body has changed over the last 36 hours giving me significant back pain.  Should I admit that as a yoga therapist?  Yes, we yogis experience our share of health issues.  Yoga can be preventive, but it can also be informative when something goes wrong. I had skipped my usual morning movement routine two days ago. Later, rising out of a chair I found that I could not stand up right (almost 25 degrees off vertical). I have been out of commission most of the weekend. My body is telling me that I my back has changed.  It now seems to be slowly improving but I had to adapt my yoga practice to accommodate the change. I did various simple exploratory postures (mostly on my back or on my hands and knees) to note where the limitation in my back was coming from and...

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The Mind is the Source and the Solution to Suffering

If you have been following the past few posts, I have unpacked the construct of the mind according to yoga. According to the teachings the individual mind consists of three parts - the manas, the ahamkara, and the buddhi. 

Samkhya philosophy which provides the foundation to yoga's teachings describes the unfolding of pure consciousness into matter.  It states that we have come into being as a result of this unfolding.  Samkhya gives a metaphysical perspective stating that all that exists is from the interaction of pure cosmic consciousness (purusha) interacting with its impusle (prakriti) to manifest. In the act of manifestation the infinite possiblities of the imperceptible can become perceptible as matter that we can smell, taste, see, touch and hear. This interaction on the gross level occurs through our manas mind. 

We in our dense form  of matter still retain aspects of the imperceptible consciousness...

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One Chitta, Two Chitta, Green Chitta, Blue Chitta…

 

Continuing along the topic of the last three posts regarding the construction of the mind and the power of the mind, what if the mind is too restless to meditate?  The buddhi is the inner mind that takes us to our essence and the manas is the outer mind that engages with the physical world through the senses. The ahamkara is the sense of “I-am-ness” that forms our identity. This whole complex is referred to as the chitta or our individual consciousness.  According to yoga philosophy the chitta is in constant motion of thought generation from right thinking to wrong thinking. The chitta engages in the retrieval of memories to the spinning of imagination.  The chitta can also enter a deep sleep with a content of, well,..nothing. These are known as the five roaming tendencies of the mind, or chitta.

In these times of information overload, our chitta through the manas mind can go into overdrive. Commentaries, opinions, news, bad news, fake news,...

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Asmita - The False Self

In Sanskrit there is the word, asmita, which is often translated as the false identified self. I venture that asmita may be the sense of incompleteness.  By feeling incomplete there is a continual search for wholeness. Ignorance comes in when we only focus on one part of our reality to find wholeness, and not the entire reality of our being. Ignorance keeps us keep looking in the same places over and over again.

If you have been following the last few posts, I presented the yogic understanding of the power of the mind and the model of the mind. The buddhi is the discriminating mind that sees inward to one’s essence and thus being connected more to the source of our being, while the manas is the mind that interacts with the outer world. Through the senses the manas interacts and forms experiences that lay impressions on the mind.  These impressions give rise to emotions expressing likes and dislikes towards outside world. Ignorance leans on the manas...

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The Impure Mind-Part 2

Let me clarify on a comment that someone made about my use of the term “impure”.  It was pointed out that for some people the term “impure” can be rather charged and felt as judgmental and put in the same category as being called a “sinner”.  This is not at all the intent when I use this term in yoga.

 

Consider yoga as a science of consciousness trying to dissect the workings of the mind much as one would take apart a watch to see how all the gears and springs work with each other to make the watch function. In the dissection of the mind, the ancient yoga masters divided the mind into the inner and outer minds, buddhi and manas respectively. Unlike much of the neuroscience world, yoga sees the mind as existing beyond the brain.   

 

The buddhi mind is positioned closer to absolute higher consciousness than the manas.  The buddhi has the power of discernment. The buddhi has greater potential to access to the...

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The Impure Mind

“Yogaścittavṛttinirodaḥ.”  This second line of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali written in Sanskrit translates as “control over the wandering tendency of the mind is Yoga.”  Mastery over the mind’s activities allows the mind to become pure and clear of conditioned thinking. Unencumbered in its pure and tranquil state, the mind can grow towards a superconscious reality.

With the exception of a handful of realized yoga masters, saints, and mystics, everyone experiences the impure mind every moment of every day. The impure mind traps us in a world of distorted mental constructs. These mental constructs inform our personality that lead to our actions.  Self-identity can mean all the ways that we recognize ourselves as being separate from others. There are as many ways to express our separateness as there are people on the planet. I am a woman. I am a man. I am transgender. I am black. I am white. I am Mexican. I am...

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Atha 2021

     The Yoga Sutras written by Patanjali begins with the Sanskrit word, atha.  The literal translation means “now,” but it really conveys more than that. It marks an auspicious beginning. The new year marks a new beginning. Coming on the heels of 2020, the year 2021 becomes that much more more meaningful.

     The first line of the Yoga Sutras states, Atha yogānuśāsanam.  This can be  translated as “Now, the teachings of yoga begin.” Some may have no interest in such teachings, but for those who wish to unravel the composition of our being from the grossest physical level  to the most subtle energetic, and mental levels let this atha be your invocation. Stand with attention to this invocation lest the teachings slip by you. 

     Here, too, “atha 2021” so that the year does not just slip by.  2020 got our attention and all moments should not be left unnoticed either...

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Beyond Asana Practice: Which Type of Yoga Methodology Suits You?

Unlike how yoga is usually portrayed today in the West, traditional yoga dating back thousands of years consists of a vast array of methodologies. Yoga is not just about holding the body in contorted postures. For those who say that they cannot do yoga because their bodies are not “flexible”, think again. If you can breathe, then you can do yoga. Not only can yoga adapt itself to the physical needs of the practitioner, but yoga is so much more than holding postures. Yoga is for the purpose of expanded self-awareness not about putting your body in 108 body postures. Although the movement of the body through postures can be one way toward greater self-awareness, it can also be a trap to narrow the field of awareness if the ego tends to brag and grasp to a certain image.

Yoga is designed as a personal existential exploration. Through the diligent and mindful application of any of the different modalities offered by yoga, the understanding of true reality is revealed. The...

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What Is Yoga?

What is Yoga?

Yoga is often defined by the root word “yuj” which in Sanskrit means “to join”.  The same origin as the word, yoke.  This is ultimately the union of polarities - that of the physical and the spiritual - that which constantly changes and that which is eternal.  In the words of BKS Iyengar, “Yoga is the union of the body with the mind and of the mind with the soul.”   This union elevates the person from the torrents of the mundane existence into the higher consciousness. In the state of  Yoga, one maintains a steadiness of mind and achieves a greater perspective on reality.   This experience of union can arise spontaneously in a few individuals but most of us need the methodology provided by Yoga. 

To reap the benefits of  Yoga as a means for transformation one must undertake the practices with a strong intention of commitment, uninterrupted persistence, and dedication. The Yoga Sutras of...

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