By Astrud Castillo
Bhakti yoga is the Yoga of Devotion.
It is through this practice we are lead into the mystery of our heart and to the practice of surrendering.
It is self-realization and union with the Divine, the Beloved or God.
This surrender is not a passive surrender, in fact your whole being and heart are active in the process. Devotion is passion and love for the Mystery of life.
Music is a large part of this expression.
We tap into this Bhakti yoga and awaken this mystery of our heart with practices such as Kirtan, Mantra and Japa.
KIRTAN: Devotional singing calling out the names of Gods and Goddesses.
MANTRA: A phrase or word, which is chanted. MAN=mind TRA=to free.
It is a tool that frees the mind from “MAYA” (the veil of illusion that prevents us from perceiving the divine)..
JAPA: A continuous repetition of a word or mantra, often said while using a Mala or prayer beads.
When singing KIRTAN, we sing in the key of “WE”.
There is a calling and responding to the sacred names. Repeating the names of the divine invite powerful vibrations to penetrate us as well as sending positive vibrations out into the ethers.
To partake in this beautiful heart opening experience, you need not be an experienced singer, you need not believe in God nor do you need to practice Yoga.
You simply show up, and naturally you open up!
You may sing softly or loudly, you may laugh or cry, sit quietly, be inspired to whirl like a dervish or joyfully jump up and down. It’s a celebration!
KIRTAN is absolute medicine, it is said to be one of the simplest vehicles to transport us towards enlightenment.
It cultivates a feeling of spirit, harmony and connectedness to all.
Like Kirtan we can experience harmony through the many practices related to AYUR=”Life” VEDA=”Science”.
It is a science of the spirit for self -realization and self healing as it addresses our entire nature.
It is the science of the cellular realm within, and how we align ourselves with the natural world without as well.
Ayurveda is mainly concerned with restoring wholeness to our inner self as its ultimate goal, which is one of spiritual healing.
Music and Mantra are a large part of these healing practices. Mantras have the ability to change the energetic structure of the mind, which can dissolve the problem, while thinking or focusing on it can reinforce it.
Mantra changes the energy of the mental field in a positive way. There are Mantras to align you with the quality and energy of each day of the week or planet.
Mantras to balance ones constitution, Mantras for relaxation, energizing, Mantras for broken hearts and letting go or calling in the one.
It is November and it is a time of the Harvest, which marks the end of the growing season and is known in AYURVEDA as Kapha season.
We are more connected to the earth than ever at this time of year.
It is a time to go inward, to take rest, and to keep things simple, and allow the softer side of ourselves to emerge.
It is a time to plow the inner landscapes, relax and nourish ourselves.
One way of transforming and of balancing this energy and to avoid becoming absorbed by feelings of inertia is to CHANT!
A beautiful way to balance the earthy, grounding, stable energy of Kapha season is to nourish it with the expressive, nourishing fluid qualities found in MUSIC and dance.
Earth and water create fertile ground for growth.
So allow the sacred sounds of MANTRA and the devotional practice of KIRTAN to cultivate and awaken the purest energy of all “LOVE”
I will be leading a retreat to India February16-March 2 2014. We will go to the home of Bhakti Yoga, Vrindavan and then up North to Rishikesh for more information please go to yogawithastrud.com
by Valerie Mate
As the seasons start to change so do our bodies’ needs. We can’t help but feel a pull to go more inwards as the days get shorter, colder, and darker. According to Ayurvedic principles, Vata season; or Autumn, is a time when it becomes more windy and airy outside. Internally, you may notice emotions getting stirred up, heightened anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, dryness, and constipation.
Fortunately, there are ways of making sure that we keep in balance as nature provides exactly what we need to keep ourselves healthy! Foods that happen to be in season at this time are not only grounding and warming, but boost the immune system and also keep us feeling comforted.
Foods that grow below the earth (or just on the surface) have a rooting and grounding quality to them such as beets, carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes, squash, onions, garlic, and ginger. Also available are citrus fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, oranges and tangerines that have higher Vitamin C content to boost the immune system and help to fight off infection.
All of these nourishing and healing foods are made plentiful during the fall season because that is what we need at this time to stay healthy and strong. There is no denying amazing wisdom of Mother Nature and how she provides!
Vata Balancing Soup (serves 4)
2 Tbsp coconut oil (or ghee)
3 medium golden beets, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, loosely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger finely chopped (or more if you like more warmth)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp clove
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 cups vegetable broth
1-cup coconut milk (full fat)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle of pumpkin seeds as garnish
1. Melt 1 Tbsp coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan.
2. Sauté beets, carrot, and onion 7-8 minutes
3. Turn heat to low and add garlic. Continue cooking until vegetables are softened about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. In a separate soup pot, add 1 Tbsp of coconut oil, the ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and turmeric. Sauté until fragrant.
5. Add broth and vegetables to the soup pot. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered, for 10 minutes, until squash is tender.
6. Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
7. Return soup to pot, adding coconut milk. Salt and pepper to taste, add garnish
Add a dash of cayenne pepper for more heat and warmth
Add in a handful sautéed dark leafy greens for added nutritional benefit (Kale, Collard Greens or Swiss Chard)