Casey Health Institute Iyengar Yoga TTP

chi-logoIntegrated health care centers are a rapidly emerging model to compliment traditional medical treatment. Major universities and hospitals are incorporating a holistic approach to wellness, including yoga.

The Casey Health Institute will offer an Iyengar teacher training program and currently features a fully equipped Iyengar studio to serve its patients. Join myself, Kathleen Pringle, Marla Apt and John Schumacher for this exciting program!

For more information, visit http://www.caseyhealth.org/teachertraining/

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My Reflections After 30 Years of Practice

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat does it mean to live with commitment to the Yaugika mind while engaged as a householder in the modern world? The universal principles listed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali invite us to live with respect, to live simply, and to dedicate our thoughts, words and deeds to the reflective process of living with integrity. Most cultures embrace some version of these noble qualities, notably through religious programs, spiritual psychology, or through self help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Harmony, honesty, respect, continence and gratitude are the five pillars of Yama (my translation of the Yoga Sutras II.42). Yamas are the great mighty universal vows unconditioned by place, time or class. (BKS Iyengar’s Yoga Sutras II.43). Ethical and moral principals are a beginning, but where does a sincere Sadhaka’s (student’s) mind gravitate?

While some philosophers claim that we are imperfect and that our process is to refine and purify who we are and how we live, others claim that we are perfect and that we have forgotten, or are somehow ignorant of our true nature, as in Sutra I.3: Then the Seer dwells in his own true splendor. I believe that to gain any real insight into these questions, we must cultivate the Yaugika mind, a sober, clear, conscientious, curious, contemplative mind. Otherwise these questions remain philosophical at best, or dogmatic at their worst.

The Yoga Sutras are a potent resource and practical guide to cultivate the Yaugika mind. They suggest that we have forgotten and are ignorant of an authentic Self, a Self free from judgement and reactivity. Furthermore, they refer to an experience that for many of us seems very abstract, romanticized, or unattainable, Samadhi. Birjoo Mehta referred to a sloka in the Bhagavad Gita:

That which is night to the ordinary human being is day to the wise, and that In which the ordinary human being stays awake is like night to the one who sees. (Perennial Psychology of the Yoga Sutras 2.69).

This sloka has always seemed very poetic, obtuse, and important. What you and I call “day” and how we live our ordinary lives is superficial and oriented around gratification or fear, attraction or aversion (kleshas) (see Sutra II.2). These are very basic and instinctive feelings. We do not experience a deeper reality, a more immediate reality free from our habit patterns and filters. The mystic and sage perceives the world around from a quiet, pure, and direct place.

To live authentically means to perceive the activities around us with an innocent eye, not a naive eye, or a reactive habit oriented mind. We all have “moments” of clarity, of being completely present in the moment. This state, the Sutras infer, is akin to a jewel that reflects back the things around it; yet by its nature is pure:

The yogi realizes that the known, the instrument of knowing and the knower are himself, the Seer. Like a pure transparent jewel, he reflects an unsullied purity. -Yoga Sutras I.41

Is this even possible for us, we who juggle responsibilities of families, jobs, and the aspirations and fears that conflict and absorb us? Geetaji Iyengar said that first we must learn the asanas so that we are sensitive for Savasana, and Savasana will lead to Pranayama. We tame the organs of action, one of which, in yoga psychology, is the mind. Taming the mind takes even longer then opening the shoulders or learning to drop backwards from Sirsasana, for there are many hindrances.

The obstacles are disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, erroneous views, lack of perseverance and backsliding.  -Yoga Sutras I.30

We have probably all experienced each of these in our asana practice and life.

The process of combing the mind for snarls and tangles; of filtering thoughts for doubt, jealously, fear, anger, and of doing inventory can itself can be deeply satisfying, for it becomes the matrix for everything else. Adherence to a single minded effort prevents the impediments (Sutra I.32). We can navigate our reactions and samskaras by first starting  to recognize the qualities of the mind and bravely looking into that mirror that we call one’s self, or is it ego, or is it soul?

Plato’s allegory of the cave, familiar to many, of how we experience life is a perfect match for our discussion. Imagine that we live in a cave, with our back to the light. All that we can see are our shadows on the walls of the cave, and we believe that this is all that there is. We don’t realize that there is a source of light behind us. We cannot turn directly toward the source of light, for it is the essence of everything. Our growth comes by turning toward the shadows to understand that they are but shadows, and turning toward the obstacles to recognize them as such. And, as we turn toward the shadows,  the thoughts, feelings, impulses and desires that send our minds and hearts reeling and that invite doubt, we know that, as the Bhagavad Gita says, The mind is the friend of one who has conquered it. But for the one who hasn’t done so, the mind is his foe. -BG 6.6

In Geetaji’s Q & A session, she said “If there are glasses that will let me see inside, I will go there!” There are no short cuts. “Will power and determination is needed” she said, “but when rigidity happens, you have embraced the quantity and not the quality. You must look at yourself and see if you did the pose properly, or if you are running away. You must be responsive.” We may begin with the training wheels of a self reflective process. As we cultivate skill in action and evenness of thought, a Yaugika mind creates harmony around us and humbleness and faith in the journey.

I cannot end this without pranams to Hrdaye, the heart. In the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali tells us that by meditating on and with the heart, we will come to know the seat of consciousness. May I come to know the heart of hearts..

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Body Thy Shrine, Yoga Thy Light

What is it about taking a class with Guruji or Geetaji that makes us feel so good? Why did
Guruji say that his body is a bow, his asanas are the arrow, and the soul is the target? Why did Guruji say that his body is a temple? So began Birjoo Mehta’s presentation on the nature of consciousness.

When we begin class with the invocation, he explained, we are asking for divinity to enter Samadhithe body. And what does this mean exactly? How can we possibly know when divinity enters the body? The Yoga Sutras tell us that we can know something that is true through direct experience, through inference, and through a person whose word can be relied on (Light on Yoga Sutras, I.7).  Our direct experience of the mind has many facets and characteristics. Geetaji spoke of this earlier in the week. Perhaps a sense of divinity, or connecting to something vast comes when we are quiet, tranquil. Indeed, after the Om in the invocation, there is a moment of deep quiet. This, Birjoo suggested, comes when we can spread awareness, or when awareness spreads throughout the body. The body is the instrument, the bow.

Inference is a learned faculty. Geetaji had said that a baby is naïve. She used the analogy of how a baby learns, and compared this to how we generally approach our practice through the past, rather than through being present in the moment. When young children learn how to add four and three, the parent will put four bananas in one pile and three in the other. This direct vision teaches the child. We have already abstracted our experience into a symbol and know that four added to three make seven. We are not experiencing directly.

Birjoo is quite logical in his explanations, and he enjoys weaving the web of understanding. In his “other” life, he is a VP in the Tata Corporation, a major force in India. He kept asking us, are you getting this? “I can’t hear you!” He would say. “Yes” we echoed. Of course many in the crowd probably had trouble hearing as they are not accustomed to the Indian tonality and accent. In any case, his talk mirrored his premise; we are not what we think we are, we are what we are not. This is not easy stuff! He then introduced cutting edge research.

Scientists think that they can measure consciousness with EEG scans that monitor neural activity in the brain. They state that this indicates when a person is conscious. Birjoo, however, said that these doctors were monitoring the Vrttis – movements in the mind- and not consciousness.

In the Scientist, a peer reviewed journal, I found the following: “scientists have found evidence to support the “integrated-information theory,” which holds that consciousness relies on communication between different brain areas, and fades as that communication breaks down. EEG studies have also revealed distinctive brain wave patterns that signal when consciousness is lost and regained.” “I think understanding consciousness itself is going to help us find successful [measurement] approaches that are universally applicable,” said a doctor Pearce. (Measuring Consciousness, April, 2013).

The way Birjoo dismantled this familiar rant between doctors and many of us with a spiritual orientation of what is consciousness – is it biological or is it something else – was beautiful. Of course this discussion may never be resolved! But it does lead to discerning discussions.

“Ego is a set of circumstances, things make us feel that we are a particular way. The essence of a person is never what we see or what we identify ourselves by. We identify ourselves by everything else, things around us.” We are not what we think we are, we are what we are not.

“Doing meditation on what you see and what you think you are will break through bondage. If you can navigate the senses of perception, (not master this, as they belong to the element of nature), you then come back to your original state, original nature” Tata Drastuh Svarupe Avasthanam, I.3. Then, the seer dwells in his own true nature. (LOYS)

I love this kind of reflection. It reminds me of the Advaita Vedanta (non-dual) “neti neti”, not this, not that. And, from the Kena Upanishad, May I come to know that from which all else is known.

Guruji taught us how to connect to this that is greater than the ego self, Birjoo said. I remember seeing Guruji being set up for Savasana, a few years ago. He would be weighted down with 50 pound flat weights and stay in Savasana for a half hour. He was connecting with … When he surfaced, no one spoke to him, and he was in another field.

Birjoo concluded by reminding us that Guruji said that when we inhale, it is our individual consciousness that is entering. Geetaji had used a similar image earlier that day in pranayama, to experience the small self as the core reached the extremities in inhalation. Then, in exhalation, Guruji continued, the individual consciousness leaves, and, in this empty state, universal consciousness enters. And this gives us a sense of quietness, a sense of divinity.
The One Power that illumines everything and every one is indivisible. It is the Ear behind the ears, Mind behind the mind, Speech behind speech, Vital Life behind life. The ears cannot hear it; it is what makes the ears hear. The eyes cannot see it; it is what makes the eyes see. You cannot speak about it; it is what makes you speak. The mind cannot imagine it; it is what makes the mind think. It is different from the known; yet it is not unknown. Those who feel they know Him know Him not. Those who know that anything amenable to the senses is not Brahman, they know it best. When it is known as the innermost witness of all cognitions, whether sensation, perception or thought, then it is known. One who knows thus reaches immortality. Kena Upanishad.

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The Yaugika Mind and Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

IMG_1216I have often thought that our greatest gift, as a species, is our ability to adapt. In earlier eras, we adapted through our ingenuity. We learned to use fire, to plant and to harvest, to extend our productivity through the use of electricity, and now our entire social structure is changing with the internet. But in many ways we are still stuck in our most simple patterns.

“Habit is a disease”, Guruji said. Abhijata’s elegant talk on how we hold ourselves back from being fully present dovetails into today’s class. We seek freedom but we cling to bondage, she said. And so began the practice of twists, a true testament to bondage and how to adapt the pose according to the needs and capacity of each individual.

Our very first asana was Parivrtta Trikonasana, and then Parivrtta Parsvakonasana. Geetaji gave us a scolding on our breakfast eating habits, and informed us that we should eat only very light foods, if anything at all, before practice. Of course, this would have been a welcome warning the day before we found ourselves flushing the liver and squeezing the intestines!

Fascinating how our system is based on adaptation. For beginners we emphasize one thing. We adapt and modify according to each person’s capacity, for stiff people, for those who get overheated, for someone with an injury or illness. Iyengar Yoga truly represents the best of service to man/woman kind, for, as teachers, we seek to give respite to beginners and to prod serious students into an all-encompassing life transformative commitment to the highest standards possible; integrity, honesty, and inner growth. The system is like a multi-faceted crystal which reflects back whatever each person needs.

Geetaji explained that beginners will feel stuck and heavy in these twists. You must get them to decentralize, to spread their attention everywhere, to lift the arm, to press the back foot, to straighten the legs. Otherwise their mind will get stuck, fixed and heavy. She told us that in the beginning we should not emphasize the twist. Once beginners can spread their attention, next the focus should go to aligning the spine, the tailbone and the crown of the head. She took us into Parsvottanasana as a precursor for Parivrtta Trikonasana. She taught the stages of engagement for Parivrtta Parsvakonasana in such a logical manner that, by the fourth attempt, I found myself wrapped around the leg with the back foot firmly planted and able to breathe normally. This pose has always been a challenge for me, as for many others! And while it will be better to learn this progression from someone who was here, I can summarize the stages.

First she said that we are heavy on the front leg, and that we should back the arm way up and connect the back hip with the back leg and foot. We should not go all the way down to the floor with the front arm. The back foot should stay down and the back thigh lifting up toward the ceiling. When I did this, I could breath, but the pose did not look much like the final pose. No matter. Next we took the back knee to the floor and the arm to the outside of the front leg, into a tight grip. While straightening the back leg and drawing the hip back, we were to draw the front ribs (the ones sitting on the front leg) toward the spine (as in Bharadvajasana). This seemed to even out the back, although I was not aware of how much I had been drawing the kidney in until she pointed it out. Gulnaz – a beautiful practitioner and teacher at RIYMI – demonstrated and worked very hard to realize what Geetaji was teaching. While this is still a challenging pose, Geetaji showed how we can modify and adapt each phase of a pose to slowly cajole the body into yielding, extending, and to engage the mind so that it would not get stuck and confined.

Guruji once told Abhijata that Yoga is about de conditioning life. In this sequence, Geeta unpacked the confinement so often associated with this twist and de conditioned us from the aversion we, at least I, often have to this pose. To break the mental habits by deconstructing the process and adapting stages that can build an understanding in a pose is one of the true gifts of a great Iyengar teacher. Geetaji is the best.

What is a Yaugika Mind? (Read Guruji’s book Yuagika Manas: Know and Realize the Yogic Mind) Geeta began the morning session with this. Many of you are already wondering when we would begin the asana practice, restless, you have a klista mind. Her sharp eyes read us like open books. Some of you have a mrdu mind, you are yawning and sluggish. And some of you are content to take whatever comes, the aklista mind. Perhaps a very few might have the Ekagrata mind, you are really with me. But this is what we have to study, the Yaugika mind.

Perhaps the next phase in our evolution, if we are to survive, will be to learn to adapt to every situation. For that we have to see with open eyes and true awareness so that we do not approach life from our habitual aversions and preferences. As we adapt, hopefully we adopt the values of the Yaugika mind!

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The Plantain Leaf and the Mirror

FullSizeRenderThe fourth day of the intensive. From the beginning Geetaji has been gearing us toward pranayama. “To do pranayama you must be light in the body, because the Pancha Pranas are within, and you have to take care of that first.” She continued to describe how we fear darkness, being alone, without a sense of protection or direction. The fear complex is so instinctive that when we sit to practice, if we have no background, we don’t know what to look for. And that is why, in our practice, she explained, we move from the known toward the unknown, we begin with what we can see and feel. The arms and legs are very close to you, you can actually see them.  And so she began to unravel the material that would lead toward pranayama.

The emphasis during the first few days was on the extension of the arms to move the side body and hence gain access to the spine. “Cinch the side back muscles in to get the lift of the armpit, take the arms behind the torso and cinch them in” as she tapped Raj Lakshmi’s back with her pointer. “Without compressing the spine, widen the paraspinal muscles”. Then, with the arms overhead, we were to take the arms behind the ears while dropping the upper trapezius away from the ears. Geeta did not have to say that the diaphragm opened and widened, I could feel the extension, the space. I knew that I would be feeling the imprint of this work in my shoulders and arms for the next few days!

Today she used the image of the plantain leaf to reinforce how the back muscles should widen away from the spine, equally, everywhere on the back. We were in Ardha Uttanasana. “Now take the sternum toward the floor, as if your face is in your sternum and you are looking into a mirror on the floor.” What a fabulous feeling! Again the abdominal area widened along with the back, and the entire spine moved seamlessly in toward the chest. Now the cinching of the bottom back ribs makes sense. “The sides of an old leaf will curl down, do not let that happen, keep it fresh and lifted”.

Earlier in class she introduced the concept of how a muscle will centralize or condense when the prana does not flow through it. Weight lifters have bulky muscles, condensed and shortened to strengthen them. Guruji did not have the body of a weight lifter, his muscles were not visible, and yet he was incredibly strong. In Tadasana, watching the back of Birjoo’s legs on the monitor. While it is a basic and classic instruction, to take the calf muscle back and to take the top of the thigh bone back, under her tutelage this became a deeply absorbing experience in sensation. “As if the skin were a cloth and we were to touch the cloth with the muscle”, her sparkling eyes darted over the crowd. She asked us to widen the back calf and thigh equally from the center of the leg toward the outer thigh and toward the inner thigh so that the muscle fibers do not get “stuck”. I was gratified, as I have taken issue with the common instruction to take the inner thighs back. It seems like everyone just internally rotates the entire leg and projects the inner knee back. “The eye in the back of the knee must also widen.” I remember when she laughingly chastised us, several years ago, that we spend more time putting makeup on our eyes and that we should take equal care to the back of the knee.

“The mind has to come to the knee, to feel if both sides are equal. Energy and consciousness is one brain.” I recall Abhijata’s words from the day before. Truly, as we continue to work in this way, when we do sit down for our pranayama practice, we will have cultivated a sense of direction, we will not be in the dark. The landscape of the inner body will be more familiar, and the outer body will be a stable container, well molded and shaped. Energy and consciousness is one brain when I am alert, aware. Hatha Yoganusasanam.

 

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Yoganusasanam

yuki-lisa-and-szymonA momentous event. The power of conviction, commitment, a spiritual life practice, what we in the world of yoga call Sadhana. “As Savasana has to be known to do pranayama, the asanas must be known to do Savasana. In this world, everyone wants to just rush and run. This subject cannot be known objectively.” Declared Geeta Iyengar, as she greeted the adoring eyes and ears glued to her every remark.

1500 students and teachers have converged to acknowledge solidarity with the practice, with the community, and with the Iyengar family. Tender with emotion, she began her introduction. “A great pillar is gone.” Her honesty and willingness to expose her grief moved us all, and allowed us a collectively recognize the depth to which Guruji’s light lived and lives in each of us. She explained that, even as his health had begun to deteriorate, he had insisted that she go ahead with the course.

The intensive had been moved to a massive sports complex fifteen kilometers.. Our classes are being held in a badminton court in Balewadi Stadium with hard wood floors, climate control, and seating for 3800 people. The venue is perfect, spacious and well laid out. Banners of Guruji standing in Tadasana flank the walls. We have been divided into eight color coded groups and move clock wise around the room from day to day. Huge screens zoom in on whatever Geetaji is explaining, while her eagle eyes zoom out over the throng of bodies to pick out the one or two who are struggling.

“You have to lift the arms, elbows straight, take them higher, and now cinch the side skin in toward the back without compressing the spinal muscles. You must break the rigidity! Take the arms behind the ears, Reach!”

What rigidity was she referring to? How do we hold ourselves back?

Abhijata Iyengar, Guruji’s granddaughter and heir apparent to the Iyengar legacy, delved more deeply into this in her afternoon session. Called “How to take an Iyengar class”, she described a yoga class as a journey, just as life is a journey. You have to make choices, she said. You have to purchase a ticket, decide what to bring, what time of year to go. You make a commitment. “An instruction from the teacher is a commitment to oneself”. “And why do you hold yourself back?” It is somatic fear, holding patterns in the body that have become instinctual and reactive. “We seek freedom and yet we cling to bondage. When we receive a new instruction, we hold back. Or, we approach the pose with our old memories, we impose the old pose.” “Habit is a disease”. Guruji had said. In a habit, you are not sensitive and aware of what is in the moment. Memory is limited, yoga in infinite. Do with a keen sense of awareness.”

Of course this is the jewel of the Iyengar practice. It beckons for the mind to become embodied by cultivating a keen reflective capacity through the body and with the body in the present moment. The Iyengar practice lassos the mind and tames and trains it to, as Geetaji said, Reach! and break the rigidity of habitual behavior. This is what keeps me on my mat, and practicing off the mat. I am learning to understand the “embodied self” and, through this daily practice, to kind-fully watch my predictable patterns as they play out. And just maybe I can go weeding to extract what holds me back.

“What is closest to you? Your actions. Everything else does not belong to you.” Guruji

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Iyengar Yoga Basics for Teachers – Feb. 6th – 8th, 2015 in Santa Barbara

LW1

Why…
Alignment and precision in asana guide the student to connect from the foundation of each pose to the core strength in the body. Postures are not shapes to be put onto a body; rather they are energetic fluid structures latent within each body’s visceral intelligence.

Alignment teaches architectural principles important to the feet, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, and neck that will encourage stability. These principles are the active phase of practice. The reflective phase encourages precision, poise and peace by watching,
adjusting, and fine tuning the body with the breath, the breath with the brain, and the brain with the spirit.

Alignment and precision are like physical mantras, they train the mind to focus and remain in the body as each posture unfolds. This attentiveness encourages a deep exploration and understanding of how each body works. Alignment and precision then insure a safe, strong, and satisfying practice.

What…
Sequencing of postures insures a safe practice for both the structural body and the nervous system. Sequencing may emphasize:

  • targeting and building awareness in a particular part of the body
  • creating an energetic experience, through cooling and heating sequences
  • remedial purposes

Sequencing of instructions leads the student from mechanical movement into focused action, thereby deepening the yoga practice. The sequence of instructions in a posture is important to build:

  • the intent of the pose
  • the foundation of the pose
  • the stability, the anchor, and the direction of movement within the pose
  • an awareness of pointing out and avoiding risk factors

Who…
The teacher-student relationship is an integral part of every learning experience. Your presentation as a teacher and the guidelines you establish with your students will help to establish a learning environment.
These include:

  • adjustments, vocal and physical
  • props, to help your students effectively and safely approach posture that otherwise would be difficult
  • imagery

When…
Dates: February 6th, 7th, 8th, 2015 (20 hours)
Times: Friday: 12:00–5:00 PM & 6:30–8:30 PM
Saturday: 12:00–4:30 pm & 6:00–8:30 pm
Sunday: 12:00–6:00 pm

Where…
Santa Barbara Yoga Center – 32 East Micheltorena St – Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (map)  – (805) 965-6045

How…
For more information, or to register, please visit http://goo.gl/Bq7A4i, email teachertraining@santabarbarayogacenter.com or call (805) 965-6045

LISA WALFORD holds a B.A. in dance and an intermediate senior Iyengar teaching certificate and has been teaching yoga in Los Angeles since 1982. She was on the faculty of several National Iyengar Yoga Conventions and has been instrumental in developing the Teacher Training Program at Yoga Works. She currently teaches Teacher Training Programs nationally and continues her studies annually with the Iyengars in India. In her rigorous and technically informative classes, she creates an ambiance of internal focus inspiring to beginning and advanced students. Through yoga she continues to explore the introspective process of balancing the physical with the energetic body while deepening her appreciation for the creative spirit. In her words: “Yoga brings us from the finite to the infinite, from pain to purpose and passion, and from disease to discriminative awareness. Our body gives us the most immediate and intimate tool to develop this awareness. This process of refining attention through the practice of postures is at the core of every yoga class.

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Sutrasana workshop in Sherman Oaks – Sat. Aug. 30th 2pm

sutrasanaI dedicate this workshop to my teacher and Guru, the great Śri BKS Iyengar.

Applying the language, insights and techniques from the wisdom literature of yoga into Asana practice will bring this philosophy to light in a practical way. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are an uncanny depiction of the human condition and potential for transformation. Standing poses, inversions and basic backbends in this workshop will uplift the heart while anchoring the body and mind.

How am I able, and how have I come to embrace this life?

Guruji introduced me to the wisdom teachings, the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The Upanishads, with their poetry and mystery, have further inspired how I approach weaving the practice of Yoga into every corner of my life. Yes, the “corners” can be sharp, with the twists and turns in our lives, and yet it is through these that the we polish facets of understanding into clarity, gratitude, empathy, and serenity. What Guruji called the Virtues, or healthy Vŗittis described in sutra 1.33 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, have shaped my attitudes toward things and helped to radically change my outlook on life. Perhaps this is part of maturation, or getting older and “wiser”, but without guideposts it is easy to wander astray among the many distractions of modern day living. Śri BKS Iyengar gave everything to his studies, students, practice, and family. His life, with his own mortal struggles, became an example of one who could turn the tide of mental and physical challenges into a benevolent and wholesome life.

Guruji’s virtues (and my adaptation): “Maitri” friendliness (kindness), “Karuna” compassion (empathy), “Mudita” joy in other’s growth (respect and honor in one another’s growth), “Upeksha” indifference or neutrality to those full of vice (equanimity).

For more information, or to sign up, please visit http://goo.gl/5goU47

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Requiem

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhow do we say good bye
to a piece of our heart?
we can’t
It breaths with us
It weeps with us
It loves with us
Dear heart,
Grant me the serenity to accept
the things that I cannot change
what we can do
is remember
Remember, we have wept
Remember that we love
Remember, Guruji said
“my end is your beginning”
Remember, Guruji said
“I have shown you all of these things
now realize them for yourself”

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Song of the Soul, by Shankaracharya

bks-iyengar-portrait

I am finding great solace in this, one of Guruji’s favorite poems, and will read it every day, for the next 12 days.

I am neither ego nor reason,
I am neither mind nor thought,
I cannot be heard nor cast into words,
nor by smell nor sight ever caught:
In light and wind I am not found,
nor yet in earth and sky –
Consciousness and joy incarnate,
Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have molded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:
I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution –
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.

I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed;
No touch of pride caressed me, so envy never did breed:
Beyond all faiths, past reach of wealth, past freedom, past desire
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is my attire.

Virtue and vice, or pleasure and pain are not my heritage,
Nor sacred texts, nor offerings, nor prayer, nor pilgrimage:
I am neither food nor eating, nor yet the eater am I –
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no misgivings of death, no chasms of race divide me,
No parent ever called me child, no bond of birth ever tied me:
I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend –
Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.

Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,
I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:
Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free nor bound –
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is where I am found.

-from the Introduction in Light on Yoga

 

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