The reason that I love The Yoga Sutras is because they help us to deal and cope with these unbelievable and unimaginable things that happen in life, as well as address the small, tedious, and mundane details of ourselves in a very practical and practice-able way. So much of yoga has nothing to do with asana, but instead, how we find our seat inside of the very deep core of ourselves. This innerspace of our mind and thoughts is so complex. As humans, we like to make sense of things–spending hours, days, weeks, years and even lifetimes trying to find the answers.
The truth is that some things will never make sense and maybe that is the meaning of life. Sutra 1:15 has been very dear to me over the years, it was my assigned sutra in yoga school and also the sutra I found comfort in while my grandmother was passing away.
drista anushravika vishaya vitrishnasya vashikara sanjna vairagyam
The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving for objects seen or heard about is non-attachement. I chose this blog topic not realizing how uncomfortable it would make me. I earmarked time for writing on many occasions, but every time I would have an overwhelming urge to go outside, hang out with people and connect with…something. How is it possible to put into words feelings that are so heavy and sad?
The last few weeks have brought many devastating things to people that are dear to my dear ones. Heartbreaking news about someone can hit hard on a human and mortal level no matter how close they are to you.
Imagine that one day you are spending time with family and friends at a swimming pool, take a dive in, and the next moment you are paralyzed from the neck down with spinal cord injuries. I can not imagine what it is like, although for the past month every day, especially when I wake up, I imagine this over and over and over. That is what happend with EB Forst. A physical therapist, reiki practitioner, yogi (who just finished advanced yoga teacher training in South East Asia), and very adventurous spirit who is loved by her family and friends, (you can tell just by reading her Facebook feed – which I read daily)
This news sent me in shakes, to the point where I could barely even stand to practice yoga, feeling paralyzed myself each time I stepped on the mat. Feeling utter sadness and the utmost compassion for what she must be going through. To have life change its cycle from one path with such a sharp turn to the next, is something that I have not experienced myself, on that large a scale.
When situations like these happen suddenly everything gets put into perspective, whether we want it to or not. The meaning of life all of a sudden has a whole new deeper and more rich quality to it. What matters is who we love and who we are surrounded by.
Sri Swami Satchidananda writes:
“it is not only saints but everything in nature – trees, birds, animals – they all live for the sake of others. Why does a candle burn and melt away? To give light. Why does a incense stick burn to ash? To give fragrance. why does a tree grow? To give fruit and flowers. Is there anything sentient or insentient in this world that lives for it’s own sake? No.”
We must live with and for each other. We must have our daily practice for each other. We are in this thing called life together. Let’s support and love each other as much as possible.
http://www.caringbridge.org login Elizabeth Forst
Valerie has an optimistic, genuine compassion for all people and walks of life. Valerie’s dedication to her personal practice shines through in her heartfelt and soulful classes as she is continually educating herself and nurturing awareness of the body-mind-soul connection.
Valerie teaches Lotus Flow 2 on Monday and Friday from 10:15-11:45AM.
by Josh Ehrenreich
In celebration of the first week of yoga school for the fall 2014 class, we thought we’d bring back Josh Ehrenreich’s chakra rap that he created for his final yoga school project during spring of 2014!
You know when you are searching for something and just cannot find it, and once you’ve stopped looking, BAM, it appears right before your eyes? Your glasses sitting snuggly on top of your head, your car keys in your hand, that ‘something’ that never seems to manifest no matter how hard you have pushed? That moment of letting-go, that is Īśvara-Praṇidhāna and the blessings that follow.
Īśvara-Praṇidhāna was my word for sutra day during Love School–aka–my 200-hour yoga teacher training at Laughing Lotus. The last of the Yamas and Niyamas (the ten living principles of yoga), it means an ultimate surrendering to the divine. According to the yoga sutras of Patanjali it is the highest practice.
Key word: Practice. When I began exploring what Īśvara-Praṇidhāna meant, it made total sense that it was the concept I was to explain to the group. I have always had a need for control in my life, blame it on the various societal factors of being raised as a (insert multiple identity labels here). When I thought I had everything in control, it all came falling apart, and I felt at a complete loss and standstill. I could not understand what had happened, and I had no other option but to say “OK universe, you win, you take the wheel because I cannot drive anymore, YOU tell me what I should be doing.” And, with that, the pieces began to fall back into the place, the way they should, which is not how I planned! I welcomed and ushered it all in, my newfound blessings and healing, which lead me to my yoga teacher training and receiving Īśvara-Praṇidhāna as my sutra day word.
Īśvara-Praṇidhāna means understanding that I am you, that you are me, that we are all a piece of the Divine. It means understanding, committing and surrendering to the fact that we are guided by this powerful energy. It means accepting that we may not always get what we want, but we always get what we need. That we are exactly where we are suppose to be and that if we continue to trust in this Divine energy, in this Divine plan, our dharma, that we will continue to be provided for, taken care of and guided.
In rereading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, I came across this line that has become my favorite line of the moment: “Let us all dedicate our lives for the sake of the entire humanity. With every minute, every breath, every atom of our bodies we should repeat this mantra: “dedication, dedication, giving, giving, loving, loving.” Īśvara-Praṇidhāna also means THIS! It means with every minute, every breath, every atom of our beings we must stay dedicated, giving and loving.
Dedicated to our practice! There are NINE practices that come before Īśvara-Praṇidhāna: Ahimsa (non-harming), Satya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (not squandering energy), Aparigraha (non-grasping), Saucha (cleaniness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaya (study). It’s called practice for a reason; we have to show up every day, in some way, in every breath.
Īśvara-Praṇidhāna: it means that we constantly surrender. It means that just because we’ve let go once, or in one situation/moment, does not mean that we go back to trying to be in control of it all again. It means that we constantly come back to being dedicated, giving, loving, connected with the divinity within us that connects us with everyone and everything else.
Every time she steps on her mat, Minerva thoroughly enjoys the dance between the breath and the asanas that create stillness in the mind. Come namaste it up with her every Monday and Wednesday at 7am!
by Mireia Yogimani
As a child, I witnessed my mind moving in high-speed, autopilot mode. I saw the movement, activity and untamed nature of my own mind. Once my body took a seat, my mind kept moving, but I couldn’t even follow my own thoughts.
Taking the seat of the observer helped me see those high-speed thoughts, which did not even feel like my own. I had never before experienced being the witness of my own untamed mind so clearly and detached from my thoughts. Today, learning to not take thoughts so seriously, and having a sense of humor, is part of my yoga practice. I work with my mind, instead of being worn out by it. Plus, the mind is of vital interest for thoughtful people. We are all trying to ease our minds. By becoming the observer; the seer; the witness of our mind, we are developing an intimate relationship with ourselves without being the slave of our own thoughts and emotions. Liberation from our mind’s fluctuations brings union with who we really are.
Raja means Royal in Sanskrit, and Raja yoga is the Royal Union with the Divine. The Yoga Sutras, written by Patanjali, are the foundational texts of Raja yoga. The Sutras are composed of 196 aphorisms (small teachings) divided into four chapters: (1) Contemplation, (2) Practice, (3) Accomplishments, and (4) Absoluteness. The Yoga Sutras constitute a classic piece of the Sanskrit literature, and they seek understanding over the mind through the science of Raja Yoga.
The goal of The Yoga Sutras is to attain Samadhi (Liberation). Below, a few but relevant sutras are linked together:
The first sutra in chapter one (Contemplation), gives us direct instruction on how to practice yoga, and the second sutra summarizes the whole book: “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is yoga.” From the very beginning, Patanjali prepares the reader about the importance of practice, as well as having direct instruction on how to work with the “stuff” in our mind. For this reason, these sutras are small teachings, so that the reader can digest them step by step.
The second sutra in chapter two (Practice) says we should practice to minimize obstacles and attain a liberated state. Then, the third sutra explains that the obstacles include ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred, and clinging to body life. Here, simplicity is the antidote. In fact, the process of quieting the mind is deceptive in its simplicity. We are training the mind to do nothing. The practice alone will help us react to obstacles differently. The sutras are not concerned about changing the outside world. When we work with the mind and the various emotional states we have, ultimately, our inner work changes the world around us.
The first sutra of chapter three (Accomplishments) describes the binding of the mind to one place, object, or idea, and the second sutra explains that this continuous flow of cognition toward that object is called Meditation. Patanjali first talks about the step prior to meditation: Concentration. The natural progression of concentrating the mind on the breath, a candle, or a mantra (one-pointed-focus) is Meditation. Meditation means to come back to the object of concentration without judgement. Divinity comes to us according to the intensity in which we are seeking it, and the sutras train the mind to come back home to your true nature to attain Samadhi.
The fourth sutra of chapter four (Absoluteness) explains that the egoity is the cause of created minds, and the fifth sutra continues to explain that although the function of the many created minds differs, the original mind-stuff of a yogi is the director of them all. Here, there is an awareness of individuality which brings the opportunity to transcend ego and personality. When we see and witness these created minds, we can be the director of them all, taking the pilot seat instead of being controlled by them. I-am-ness is the discovery of the self beyond the ego to experience absoluteness, limitedness, and transcend from all created mind-stuff.
The Yoga Sutras illuminate our spiritual path. I don’t know why I have never witnessed my mind moving in such a high-speed autopilot mode as it did when I was a kid, but I can now link the sutras together to learn more about the true nature of my own mind and take the pilot seat. My true self keeps reminding me that all of this mind-stuff is not only about me, but about seeing the big picture of interconnectedness and oneness in all things. The sutras explain that divinity comes to us when we seek without attachment and without judgement, and most importantly, according to the intensity in which we are seeking it. Practice helps us measure the progress and grow a little better each day. However, training the mind to be still is a practice that will require adjustments to overcome obstacles arising from thoughts and our various emotional states.
The spiritual path is a cycle of falling and awakening; of finding the link and relinking again; of linking and threading one sutra with another. Step by step, when the sutras come together,the individual who practices sincerely experiences a metamorphosis; a truthful soulful connection; the discovery of an I-am-ness state to attain absoluteness, limitedness, and transcend from all created mind-stuff, which is also described as Samadhi.
The month of September is sutra Month at Laughing Lotus SF. Our celebrated Yoga Teacher Training begins on September 12, and it is not too late to register! Come liberate your body, mind, and senses. See you on the yoga mat!
Originally from Barcelona, Yogimani is a yoga instructor who serves diverse communities through yoga events in San Francisco and abroad. Since 2011, she has continued studying and sharing the yoga practice with the community in San Francisco and abroad. Encouraging love for all beings, including ourselves, Mireia inspires us to discover our true essence, both, mystically, and authentically.
Mireia teaches All Levels at noon on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Lotus Flow 1 at 11:45AM on Saturday.