Posts Tagged ‘Jasmine Tarkeshi’

Lotus Love Blog

The Yoga of the Breath by Jasmine Tarkeshi

Posted on: April 12th, 2017 No Comments

This week’s blog post is an Excerpt from Lotus SF Founder, Jasmine Tarkeshi’s New Book: Yoga Mind and Body Handbook-Easy Poses, Guided Meditations: Perfect Peace Wherever You Are. Now available at the Lotus! Join Jasmine for a Class, reading, signing and celebration on Friday, April 14th at 5:30!

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.
Oprah Winfrey


Our breath plays an integral role in the functioning of our entire body and is also a reflection of our state of mind and emotions. Better breathing patterns make us more present and grounded, ready to take on whatever comes our way. When our breathing goes awry, we may find ourselves stressed, overwhelmed, and out of balance. The same is true in reverse: when were happy and healthy, we tend to breathe easier. With conscious breathing, we can impact our inner world.

What Is Good Breathing?

Learning to consciously regulate our breath is one of the most powerful tools we can cultivate. It helps us control our emotions and let go. As we covered earlier in the book, yogic breathing practices are called pranayama, which means to control or extend the breath. Prana is our life force and ayama means to extend. With slow, regulated breathing, the quality of our lives improves dramatically. 

When we are stressed, our breath becomes shallow. We breathe quickly and only fill up the top part of our lungs with oxygen. Our chest barely expands with each inhale, which triggers our flight or fight stress response.

In contrast, when were fully relaxed and present, our breath becomes slower and deeper. This triggers our restand-digest response, which lowers our heart rate. With each inhale, our entire chest and belly expand, flooding us with oxygen. With each exhale, we fully contract all of these parts of the body, releasing carbon dioxide. In this manner, each full inhale nourishes every part of our being, while each complete exhale cleanses and releases toxins from the mind and body.

Why does all of this matter? Well, the average human being takes over 20,000 breaths a day. Each breath brings us the opportunity to positively affect our state of mind and benefit our overall health. When we talk about good breathing, were talking about a conscious slow, even, and deep breath that satisfies our need for oxygen, and also helps us maintain a calm and present state of mind. With conscious breathing comes conscious living. This is what we strive for in yoga. 

Breathing Techniques

Yoga uses a variety of breathing or pranayama techniques to help facilitate different outcomes. Ujjayi breathing, which we discussed earlier , is one of the most common types of yogic breathing. Most often used during asana, it allows us to create a steady,even rhythmic, breath and link our breath to movement. In this practice, every inhale is a movement that expands the chest, such as inhaling the arms up, and every exhale promotes a contraction, such as exhaling a forward bend. The inhale accompanies a movement (such as reaching the arms up), and the exhale accompanies another movement (such asmoving into a forward bend). There are also slight pauses between breaths to help us experience stillness.

Long, deep breathing is used to calm the mind during meditation or any time youre in a stressful situation. This breath focuses on expanding and contracting the belly to engage the diaphragm and create a slow, even breath with a slightly longer exhale. This allows for space to calm the nerves, quiet the mind, and let go. 

When youre feeling sluggish, a bellows breath can be just what you need. The exercise pumps the breath from the belly rapidly, stimulating the effects of aerobic exercise, including increased metabolism, increased heart rate, and release of serotonin to the brain. 

Alternate nose breathing, where you use your thumb and pointer finger to alternately cover each nostril, is thought to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain and balance our emotional state.   

All of these techniques can help you breathe better to live better.

Complete instruction on all the breathing practices available in the book! 

Jasmine Tarkeshi is the Co-Founder of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centers in NYC and SF. She is a devoted student of Yoga for over 25 years and grateful teacher for 20 years. Jasmine has dedicated her life to being of service to Yoga’s transformative teachings and holy teachers through her weekly lasses at Laughing Lotus Yoga Centers SF, Teacher Trainings, International workshops, online videos and now, published book! For more details: http://sf.laughinglotus.com/jasminetarkeshi/


Mamaste! Bowing to the Divine Mother, Within us and all around us

Posted on: June 29th, 2016 No Comments

by Jasmine Tarkeshi

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As soon as I met my daughter I joined my hands in prayer at my heart and with tears streaming from my eyes I said “Namaste”. Meaning the light in my bows to the light in you. A reflection of myself I had never seen before! I did this ritual all through the first crazy, beautiful, life-changing year of motherhood. Then one day, she said it back! But instead of Namaste she said “Mamaste” with a big goofy toothless grin. I kept correcting her, but nope, it was MAMAste. Although, surrounded by the love of her devoted father, grandma and auntie and community of adoring family, “Mama” was the world she came from. And through her the “ Mama” within me was born! A patience I never knew I had, the most intoxicating Love that cannot be described, protection and fierceness of a tigress, caring and nurturance I never knew myself. This has extended to my relationship with the world.

I recently became active on instagram, vowing to participate in social media with a lot of personal resistance. So many of my Yogic guides kept reminding me of the importance of staying connected to my students and sharing my practice with them even if it was through an iPhone. So I set out to document my yoga practice and share what inspires me, but if you check me out on IG, there are only pictures of my daughter, Indigo! Perhaps it’s because I don’t know how to take pictures of myself, but she IS my Yoga! Through her I feel connected to the universe, Mother Earth and all beings. Through her eyes I see oneness, the miracle in all experience, joy for no reason, complete emotional expression and bravery and courage that inspires. I am tested, challenged, on a daily – moment to moment basis to live my yoga to the fullest, since I am her world from which she learns. And WOW, am I tested! THIS is my Tapas (purifying practice) like I have never known. My Motherhood is messy and imperfect; I lose it, I do things I said I would never do – like have her watch a video while I get work done, order take away a few times a week instead of my vision of making every organic meal in a handstand 🙂 But she has no judgment; she still looks at me and says “ Mamaste” even as I beat myself up. In Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion, this is known as Pusthi Marg or path of the Divine Mother where we look at the world through the eyes of a devoted mother. Like the Buddha said, “Like a caring mother holding and guarding the life of her only child, so with a boundless heart of loving kindness, hold yourself and all beings as your beloved children.”

In Yoga Philosophy and the great Guru Mantra, our first guru is our mother—Guru Brahma our creation/creator is guru. We all have different relationships with our mother or caretaker. We have fought with, disagreed and misunderstood our parents or guardians from childhood on, some which may not yet be resolved to this day. Teachers come to us in many ways. This first teacher was our mother by birth as the Earth is our mother by creation. To appreciate the power of creation is to see all life as valuable, ALL human life, as well also the life force that flows through all living beings.

The love of a mother is unconditional. She knows that through our existence we cause harm to her—yet she continues to nourish and support us with all her heart. Each year thousands of forests are being cut down, oceans, rivers and lakes are polluted and giant holes are mined into Her. But it is not only the Earth herself who is exploited; it is also her human and nonhuman inhabitants.

The Earth itself is referred to as the Mother, Divine Mother or Ma. She is the sustaining and creative force providing food and water for the survival of all the beings that inhabit her. In the west, we endearingly refer to our beautiful blue/green planet as “Mother Earth” as a way to express our interconnectedness with all beings. Our own relationship with the Divine Mother may be very similar to the relationship with our own mother! Sometimes we fight; sometimes we ignore her and definitely do things that we know will upset her! But through both our birth mother and the Divine Mother we are undeniably linked to the source of all life.

In Hindu mysticism, the earth is always referred to as a very patient mother. She has to bear with all our misdeeds. We are all her children. Perhaps there is no greater sorrow for a mother than to see her children quarreling among themselves. In my village, two brothers quarreling or two sisters quarreling will be taken up as a village issue, since this is considered to be something that should never happen; it’s no longer a domestic issue, but a community one. “The word for sibling in Sanskrit is sahodara. Saha, “together,” udara, “womb”: they come from the same womb. They have lived in the same womb. So they should always help each other. Similarly, we all come from the womb of Mother Earth. We are all brothers and sisters.

Just as a human mother is in agony when she sees her children fighting against one another, so mother earth is in agony when she sees nation fighting against nation, race against race. Through the enthusiastic practice of meditation and the allied disciplines, each of us can become instruments of peace and harmony, drawing upon our deepest resources to prevent nation from rising up against nation, race against race, and brother against brother.

Peace is not created by governments and fighting forces. Peace is made by little people like you and me getting to know other people, other countries, other races.– Eknath Easwaran

Our personal relationship with the Divine Mother Earth lives within us in the Muladhara Chakra. Chakras are energy centers within the body that correspond with the elements as well as the endocrine system and physical, emotional and mental systems. “Mula” means root and “adhara” means to support. Located within the perineum at the base of the spine from the tailbone through the legs and feet, it connects us with Mother Earth as well as our own roots, our maternal mother or support when we were children, as well as our ancestors. It is within this most important Chakra that our early childhood experiences are recorded like magnetic tape and influence all we do including our feelings of survival, belonging, and guardedness and whether or not our basic needs were met. When Muladhara is in balance, we feel strong and confident; we can stand up on your own two feet and take care of ourselves and feel connected to the earth and others, grounded and present. We are trusting in others and feel a part of nature, a family, tribe or community. We feel safe in the home of our bodies and create a safe environment to live. We care for and nurture others and ourselves and stand up for others and ourselves. We take care of the planet and see the Divine in a all beings and the sacred in everything. We care as much about our own survival as the survival of others.

This is the philosophy behind most shamanic and indigenous healing. That our own well-being is interconnected with the whole.

When it is not in balance we feel like victims and blame everyone and everything for our misfortunes or are over materialistic, hoard and disrespect others and the planet. When it is blocked or out of balance, we can become needy, have low self-esteem, or have self-destructive behaviors.

Here are a few ways to become aware and honor the Divine Mother, our own, Mamma Earth and the Divine Mother within! Jai MA!

1)Create an ancestral altar: Place pictures of your parents, family and ancestors, artifacts from their countries of origin to connect to your roots and feel the support of this deep connection as well of the pain that may be associated with it. We cannot change our pasts but we can vow not to be lineage barriers of past traumas by healing the wounds of the past through actions and sadhanas (spiritual practices) we can take today.

2)Practice Yoga and care for your physical body through diet and exercise. Cook your own food as much as possible, eating organic food from local farmers markets. Move toward a vegetarian diet, which lessens the suffering of other beings and damage to our mother planet. This self-care and discipline wakes up the Divine Mother within as a doorway to truly care for all beings. Nourish your self with healthy habits and move away from toxic ones. Surround your self with a “tribe” of like-minded but diverse people to create community and healthy family, work environment and relationships based on mutual respect. Look for ways you can use your privilege to be of service to others less privileged due to the color of their skin, sexual orientation or class.

3) Connect to Mother Earth. This does not have to be only through spending time in nature, although, get out and spend time in nature! Get your feet in the dirt and your body in the water and the sunshine, smell the flowers and taste the fruits, meditate on the moon and stars. At the same time, Our Urban/ Concrete jungle is just as sacred along with beings that inhabit it. Have plants and animals in your home. Walk the city streets to connect with the world around you, yes, the muddy, mucky mud and try to see the beauty and divinity that surrounds you within it. Meet your brothers and sisters from different cultural backgrounds; go to cultural events with music, dance and food celebrating diversity. Do selfless service and volunteer. Oneness does NOT mean we are the same in every way, the true nature of oneness to celebrate the uniqueness in every being by acknowledging equality and non-duality and honoring the sacred within every being.

With my hands at my heart in prayer, “Mamaste”!

This beautiful Mantra honors the Divine Mother in all her forms and sends me into an ecstatic state!

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Matri Rupena Sansthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah
(repeat after each line)

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Buddhi Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Shakti Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Nidra Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Chaiya Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Daya Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Kanti Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Bhranti Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Shantih Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Tushti Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Lakshmi Rupena Sansthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah

Translation:
Salutations to the Goddess who resides in all beings in the form of:
{wisdom, light, abundance etc}
To that constant, eternal Presence, I gratefully offer myself again and again.
The feminine energy or nature resides in all beings (RupenaSansthita). As the flow of life, she is expressed in us as wisdom (Buddhi), sleep (Nidra), the shadow (Chaiya), misunderstanding (Bhranti), peace (Shantih), contentment (Tushti), abundance (Lakshmi), Matri (Mother), Daya (Compassion, Kanti (Radiance) and Shakti (primal Source Energy).

resources : Doug Whitiker, Eknath Eashwaran, Amma’s Mantras

#Mamaste #DivineMother #JaiMa #MuladharaChakra #Yoga #GuruBrahma #LoveIsMyReligion #LaughingLotusSF #JasmineTarkeshi

Jasmine Tarkeshi is Co-Founder of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centers in NYC and SF. She is a humble student of the ancient and transformative teachings of Yoga and has been sharing the passion for the practices for 20 years. She comes from and bows to her mystical heritage of Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Yogic backgrounds that all merge into her love for the performing arts and healing traditions of the world. She is a dedicated activist through her life and practice and beloved foundation Love Saves the Day and teaches nationally, internationally and daily at her home studio at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in San Francisco with the belief in everyones ability to awaken and heal to be true agents for change as intstruments of Love.


Life and Guru are One!

Posted on: December 2nd, 2015 No Comments

by Jasmine Tarkeshi
Jasmine

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru devo Maheshwara,
Guru sakshat, param Brahma, tasmai shri guravay namah

“Our creation is that guru (Brahma-the force of creation); the duration of our lives is that guru (Vishnu-the force of preservation); our trials, tribulations, illnesses, calamities and the death of the body is that guru (devo Maheshwara-the force of destruction or transformation). There is a guru nearby (Guru Sakshat) and a guru that is beyond the beyond (param Brahma). I make my offering (tasmai) to the beautiful (shri) remover of my darkness, my ignorance; (Guru) it is to you I bow and lay down my life (namah).“ -Translated by Sharon Gannon

I first heard and chanted this sacred mantra at the Jivamukti Yoga School in New York City on Second Avenue around 1996. My roller coaster of a life had me once more longing for a deeper internal happiness that nothing I seemed to achieve externally, no matter how hard I tried seemed to fulfill. So, I found myself yet again at the feet of the wise, wonderful and whimsical Sharon Gannon.

As someone who never had much guidance in my life, I loved that I had found a Teacher who seemed to know so much, not about Yoga and the Universe, but who spoke to me about love, life and loss, and hauntingly seemed to know everything about ME! This is the Guru’s roll, to shed light on the true self, and show us the parts of us we want to see and those we don’t. Gu means darkness, and ru means light; the light that dispels darkness or ignorance. During times of darkness and doubt, she was that light.

“Guru is the remover of darkness: Gu means darkness, and Ru means remover. Darkness refers to what obscures the light of awareness. Guru is the enlightenment principal that aids one in the realization of the true Self, the whole Self, the holy Self. The guru removes avidya, or ignorance, which is a case of mistaken identity. It is when you think you are your personality, mistaking your body/mind container for who you are and ignore who you really are. It is when you feel separate from the whole.” Sharon Gannon

One day when I was in quite a bit of despair, I ran to class and to my disappointment she was not there! Instead, it was her fiery assistant, Dana Flynn. With my attachment to who I thought was my Guru, I would usually leave and not take class, but on this day I was desperate and stayed. Flynn started class with the Guru Mantra and I chanted along in perfect Sanskrit. Then she read the translation on the Mantra sheet and I got it! Sharon was even teaching me about my ignorance without even being there!
Not only was Dana an incredible teacher in a different form, and someone who continues to guide me to this day, but my whole life, family and difficulties themselves that I had been running from were my very Gurus!

I have had the honor to sit at the feet of the Great Yoga Teachers and Gurus, traveled to India to Ashrams and the Kumbh Mela but the Maha Guru Mantra has been my guiding light. It is what informs my practice, life and teaching. Life IS our highest teacher when we bow our heads in surrender of our egos with our hands in prayer to each moment, and throw ourselves in full pranam or prostration to every experience no matter how beautiful or terrible. We truly learn about life when we become quiet enough to LISTEN with an open mind and heart to the great wisdom being whispered behind the cloak of our daily interactions with others.

Like the great Sufi Poet and Saint Hafez says:
“How do I listen? As if everyone were my beloved Master whispering to me their cherished last words.”

“Life and Guru are inseparable. Your life is the Guru tatva (principle). Throw light on your own life. The wisdom that shines through your life – you need to honor, that is honoring the Guru. See, life has taught you so many things – what you did wrong and what you did right, and if you don’t throw light on your own life, then the Guru is absent. So reflect on your own life and honor the wisdom that life has offered you. That is honoring the Guru. Are you with me? It is serious stuff.” ~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

And Hafez says again:
“How did the Rose ever open it’s Heart and Give to the world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of Light against it’s Being Otherwise we would all be too frightened.” – Hafez

During December, the darkest month of the year, we honor and celebrate our Gurus, the incredible beings who have devoted their lives to awakening and share their inspiring stories and teachings to uplift and encourage us all to open our hearts and give to the world all of our beauty!
This is the practice of Svadyaya, Self Study through studying the lives of great beings and spiritual texts as cosmic mirrors reflecting and sparking our own Light and Truth.

The winter solstice is actually the turning from darkness towards the LIGHT. The 21st will be the darkest day of the year and then the days will start increasing in LIGHT!
So it truly is a time of Celebrating all the magnificent teachers, prophets, poets and saints who we discover have at some time, also been sinners as well as soul and rock and roll voices, authors, artists, madmen and women and pioneers of the Spirit that have inspired change and revolution!!

During this time of reflection before the new year, it is great to look back and honor every teaching we have received from our lives, our own parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, nature, the Great Mystery and yes, even our foes and difficulties to inform our choices and lives in 2014.

Join me on December 13th at 5:30 for an Info session for our Celebrated Teacher Training in 2014 to soak in Yoga’s timeless wisdom and awaken the teacher within you to share the teachings from your own living experience.

On Friday, December the 20th, give thanks and praise to all life’s experience during Solstice Kirtan and Join me and Astrud for our Annual Yogic New Year’s Eve of exhaling 2013 and Inhaling into 2014 with Intention setting, fire ceremony, Yoga, and singing and Dancing into the New Year.

Namaste and Love,
Jasmine


Fall: A time of Nourishing our ancestors and ourselves

Posted on: November 4th, 2015 1 Comment
by Jasmine Tarkeshi

jasmine

Autumn is my favorite season and time of year. The glorious colors of the leaves changing, the wild movements of the skies and crispness in the air have me so inspired and energized! Unfortunately, it is also a time of getting run down, stressed out and prone to disease. It is a time of movement and change, a time to nourish our ancestors as well as ourselves. In Vedic wisdom, it is said if we want to be healthy and happy we must honor our ancestors to free ourselves from our karmic pasts and nourish our ancestors through daily offerings so they may serve us and support us. As the Great Ayurvedic Sage Maya Tiwari says: “At this significant time of year (Autumn) when ancestors are energetically open to receiving nourishment, we have an incredible chance to remember them, and in so doing, to free ourselves from ancestral karma’s of grief, despair and disease.” Creating an ancestral altar is a beautiful practice to reconnect to our roots and in turn the universe through which we are all connected. To start, place pictures of your ancestors or of the country of their origin, along with your teachers or anyone who has supported your growth and make daily offerings of fruit, candles, incense or anything you know your ancestors loved! Offer their favorite food, drink or music and speak to them and ask for their guidance and strength. Another way to honor the ancestors especially if you don’t know much about them is to do service in homeless shelters, or senior homes or serve in any way you can.

Autumn is also a time of self-nourishment, where if we forget to acknowledge and remember ourselves, we are most prone to dis-ease. In Ayurvedic Medicine, Yoga’s sister science of healing and living in harmony with nature, Fall is vata season, ruled by the elements of air and ether. Vata is translated as “wind” or “that which moves,” and is characterized by the qualities of dryness, lightness, coldness, mobility and erratic energy. As we see these qualities manifesting outside with the drying leaves, cooler and fluctuating temperatures and wind moving everything around we can see these qualities in ourselves such as: dry lips, dry skin, dry nasal passages. Constipation, gas, bloating, weight loss, insomnia, disrupted sleep, cold hands and feet, sensitivity to cold, feeling restless, depleted, weak, forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, hyperactivity and excessive talking, nervousness, anxiety and fearfulness.

Here are a few Ayurvedic suggestions to balance the symptoms of Vata during Fall to enjoy the magic and richness the season has to offer and to prepare for winter! But instead of thinking of them as a list of do’s and don’ts, think of them as making sacred offerings to honor and connect to your self just as you are beginning to connect to your ancestors.

1. Stress Less!
Ayurvedic medicine believes that stress can weaken your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to dis-ease. One of the best ways to balance vata in the fall is to reduce stress through self-care. Create a daily routine, eat regular meals and make them nourishing, warming and grounding foods, don’t take on too many projects at once. Prioritize what is most important, make lists and give your self plenty of time to finish projects. Spend quality time with friends and family instead of quantity.

2. Sleep Deep!
Make sure to get plenty of sleep during Vata season, which strengthens the immune and nervous systems. Rise with the sun but also set with the sun. Maybe not going to sleep at 5 during the shorter days of Fall, but turning in and tuning in as the sun sets as Vata’s positive qualities are heightened during dawn and dusk. Spend time reading, writing, meditating and quiet time while limiting internet and television and try to sleep for eight hours.

3. Balancing Breath!
To reduce excess vata and its symptoms, practice a deep, balancing, gentle breathing practice called Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breath. Place your right thumb loosely on your right nostril, and your right ringer on your left nostril. Inhale and exhale through both nostrils a few times slowly and the gently close off your left nostril and exhale through your right, inhale right switch fingers and exhale left, inhale left switch and exhale right. This is one round, practice 9 -18 rounds in the morning or evening or both!

4. Nasal Nourishment!
The neti wash and nasya are two therapies that are great for the vata dosha. The neti wash flushes out dust, bacteria, viruses, and excess mucus. Mix ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt into one cup of filtered, distilled, or pre-boiled warm water into a neti pot. Bend over a sink and insert the tip into your top nostril to form a tight seal. Tilt your head slightly to one side and let the saline pass through your nasal passages and out the lower nostril. Repeat two to three times on each side, gently blowing your nose to release mucus from the nasal passages. Most sinus problems originate with dry and irritated sinuses, Nasya is a therapy aimed at lubricating the sinuses so they are less reactive to dryness and airborne irritants. To try it, lie down on a sofa or bed and tilt your head back as far as you can. Drop two to four drops of oil in each nostril and sniff the oil into the sinuses.

5. Slow Flow!
Make sure that your yoga practice is nourishing instead of fast and depleting to reduce stress and strengthen immunity. Slow down the flow and include more Yin and Restorative Yoga, as well as spending more time Savasana.

6.More Massage!
An Ayurvedic practice called abhyanga is a full-body hot oil massage, which you can practice yourself to reduces anxiety, stiffness, stress, and excess vata. Use warm organic sesame oil in the fall, as its warming qualities counteract the season’s cold, dry nature and massage into your whole body but especially your feet and everything is nourished through the ROOTS!

Jasmine Tarkeshi is the Co-Founder of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centers in NYC and SF and is a renowned teacher and devoted student of Yogas ancient and transformative teachings and practices. She has been teaching for 18 years worldwide with the deepest faith in every being’s innate ability to awaken to their truest Selves and become true agents for change and healing our world. She teaches open classes weekly and will be teaching a 50-hour Yoga Philosophy and History Intensive at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in SF. You can also catch her at Yoga Journal Live SF January 2016! #YJEvents #laughinglotussf #ayurveda #yoga #vata #honoringourancestors


Divine Mother

Posted on: July 1st, 2015 1 Comment

by Jasmine Tarkeshi

Jasmine with baby

Since we opened our temple doors 16 years ago in NYC, July has been the Month of Ma! With our patron Saint Amma’s annual visit to NYC, July’s theme celebrates the power of community and countless ways in which we are blessed by the creative energy in the Universe: Shakti, in her many forms and our connection to Beloved Mother Earth. Our Yoga practice allows us to explore how through our Sadhana and daily lives we can worship, serve and awaken her gifts within ourselves.

Amma’s generosity and boundless energy of service of giving hugs, love, food, shelter, education and money to all her children, including all animals and the earth itself, mirrors our Great Mother Earth who is in a constant state of creating and giving and nourishing ALL BEINGS through her bountiful offerings. The aim of all yoga practices is to feel the interconnectedness between us, our environment, nature and to all beings as our beloved family. Sangha and community are an integral part of every spiritual tradition as a practice to experience this connectedness, as Thich Nhat Hanh says so beautifully: “It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community -a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the Earth.”

Our asana practice certainly yokes us to nature through its infinite shapes that celebrates sacredness in all of creation as we worship every creature through celebrating its spirit and form. Putting LOVE into action through Karma Yoga, Self-less service and Bhakti Yoga’s devotional practices – all dissolve the illusion of separateness. This connection and awareness, which is the soul of Yoga, is so drastically needed right now as we are forced to look to at the racism, hatred and violence in our country and to save our beautiful blue/green home from extinction.

Let’s all rise up like Ma Durga, the great Earth Protector and inspire others by practicing activism through the powerful tools of Yoga which for thousand of years have actively transformed the human tendency towards ignorance, selfishness and aggression which cause so much suffering and destruction to compassion, healing and unity. The Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita are bursting with practices to do our part and take responsibility for our environment in which we live. The Yamas, the very foundations of our practice all express the reverence for all life forms, and how to live in harmony with others. This is a time to lovingly recommit to our Maha vrattam, yogic vows of sacred union with the universe, the Yamas, which start with the practice of non-violence.

“Our task must be to free ourselves, by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”-ALBERT EINSTEIN

The practice of Asteya connects us by not taking more than we need, Aparigraha respects the rights of others to share the limited resources of our planet and creates a conscious balance between giving and taking and replenishing our planet’s recourses and Satya is not being afraid to tell the Truth.

“Look at the world through the eyes of a mother caring for her only child.” – Buddha

“In India, great rivers are named for goddesses, the ocean and the earth are considered the Mother, the Trees her arms, the mountains her breasts, the plants her nourishment, the Sky her lover. Usas, Kali, Lakshmi, Kamala, Parvati, Aditi, Saraswati, Devi, Gayatri, Shakti – all names of Mother as God. There is a goddess of the sun, the goddess of the dawn, and another of starlit nights. There is a goddess of wealth and beauty, a goddess of wisdom and aging, a goddess of learning and speech. There is a goddess of destruction and a goddess of all-devouring time. They are all the Mother.”

Chant the great names of the Divine Mother bring them to life through your healing asana ceremonies that celebrate the sacredness and love of all life. This is also great time to share your love for Ayurveda and I cannot wait to share the wisdom of my great teacher, friend and Ayurveda Master and Healer Sarah Tomlinson who will be here in August for a workshop and limited life changing consultations! Nab one while they are available.

One of the most direct ways to reconnect with Nature is by immersing yourself IN Nature! Make sure to visit parks and mountains and oceans…touch the soil, smell the flowers, hug trees, taste clean spring water and be in awe at all wild life as well as the Wild life in our urban environment.


Celebrating our own Divine Mother!

Posted on: May 6th, 2015 No Comments

by Jasmine Tarkeshi
Alice and Jasmine On Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day and pay homage to our mothers, expressing gratitude for their unconditional love and the sacrifices they’ve made for us that we so often take for granted.

A mother’s love comes in many forms, from tender and loving to fierce and protective. In yoga classes, we often hear about cultivating the nurturing qualities of a mother with ourselves and as buddha said “Like a caring mother Holding and guarding the life Of her only child, So with a boundless heart Hold yourself and all beings.” I used to associate Nurturance with the traditional image of a mother baking pies in an apron and actually felt disconnected from the word since my eccentric, creative, and cosmic mother never baked once!

But as I explored the concept of “Mother” in my practice, life and teaching, I realize she comes in many forms and the pies are a symbol for all that nurtures our growth. Well, in that sense I had the most nurturing mother! In Hinduism, there are 1008 names and forms of the Divine Mother, from Laxmi the Goddess of beauty and wealth, to Saraswati the Goddess of Wisdom and Creativity and Kali or Durga, the fierce Goddesses of protection and destruction or tough love.

We get to recognize and bow deeply to all these qualities within our own very special and divine mothers. Perhaps not the ones we wanted at the time as children, but with which we can look back upon with deep appreciation for how they shaped and encouraged our growth and who we are.

As I am now on my own journey of being a mother, I so appreciate my own mother, Alice, and the lessons, gifts and guidance she gave to me. Here are just 10 things I learned from my mother, the cosmic apple pies that nurtured and shaped who I am. What are 10 things YOU learned from your mother?

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms everywhere!

1. Be who you are.

From birth, my mother cultivated the unique qualities and celebrated the differences between me and my older sister Ariana. From clothes we wore to games we played, foods we liked and creative differences we were each guided to honor our selves as well as our differences.

2. Be creative.

My mom tells me my first word was “make.” As an infant, before I could walk, I’d roll around with paper and crayons, chanting “make, make, make” and scribbling and circumambulating around my creation. We didn’t have traditional toys or TV growing up in the Middle East and were always making our own toys and games, writing, drawing and singing and dancing.

3. Be compassionate.

When faced with being teased at school or challenges within the family, my mother would teach us the practices of compassion, offering deeper insight and larger perspective into the situation.
She also taught me to be of service to all those less fortunate than myself through the endless service she provided to underserved communities and people.

4. Speak your truth.

Well, this one got me into trouble too as I became more rebellious, but soon I used this gift to become a confident speaker and activist.

5. Learn from life.

One could say I was raised with no real discipline of being told what to do by my mother as I paved my own mysterious path, rich with the ups and downs of life. But now I see how I was allowed to make my own mistakes and learn from them rather than being sheltered from life. Life was my teacher instead of a formal education, and it was overflowing with wisdom.

6. Do whatever it takes.

After my parents divorced, my mother raised us single handedly. She went back to college to get her degree, worked two jobs, and received public assistance to care for us while she developed and worked on herself. My mom was incredibly strong as well as creative and spiritual and has been such a role model of doing whatever it takes and working hard.

7. Expand your mind.

At an early age we were introduced to many cultures, traditions and spiritual paths. There were many wild characters along my mom’s many spiritual paths, and she always shared them with us. We leaned to respect and connect with all people and faiths.

8. Commit to a spiritual practice.

Although she never forced us to sit and meditate, we grew up seeing her devoted to her teacher Chogyam Trungpa and the Tibetan Buddhist path of Shambhala. I witnessed my mother’s daily devotion and practice as well as the sacrifice of taking time for longer retreats and deepening her practice for over 30 years and it has inspired my own daily practice and commitment.

9. Youth is not age.

As my mother grows older she seems to be getting younger at heart and in spirit! After retiring from a life of service to San Francisco’s most challenged communities, she is the busiest person I know, doing what she loves and serving selflessly. She can now offer astrology readings, commit to her practice and sangha, constantly creating and always learning something new.

10. A mother’s love.

Never for one second of my 45 years have I doubted my mother’s love and deep devotion. She has loved me unconditionally from near and far and supported me in everything I do. I am so honored and so happy to offer the gift of my mother to my daughter, and hope to pass on just a fraction of all I have received.

This Sunday in honor of Mother’s Day, all Moms are free at Laughing Lotus SF! Check out our website for our complete Class Schedule this weekend.
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Ayurveda and The Four Noble Truths

Posted on: November 11th, 2014 2 Comments

by Jasmine Tarkeshi
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Many people think that because of my spiritual heritage and far-out upbringing, that the teachings and practices of Yoga, and it’s allied spiritual teachings, have been passed down to me like a family heirloom. Although I grew up with my mother meditating; and a wild cast of characters who would read Rumi, Kabir and Hafiz standing on their heads; my path has been a roller coaster ride with the most surprising roots.

The once painful but now empowering truth is: I have another “heritage.” I came to the practices of Yoga on my knees. I was in a lot of pain and searched everywhere for a way out of this pain, by numbing, running and aggressively fighting it. My life in my late teens and early twenties felt like it was nothing but suffering–mentally, emotionally and physically. When my partner of six years unexpectedly died, I felt that was IT. Strangely enough, it was IT! The epoch of pain lead me on my path to a lasting happiness, health and a freedom I never knew existed!

The teachings of Yoga and Buddhism describe suffering, anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction as Dukkha. Buddha, in fact, said life IS Dukkha. In The Four Noble Truths, he describes the way out of suffering, and emphasizes the importance of developing insight into the nature of Dukkha, the conditions that cause it, and how it can be overcome. The practice of Kriya Yoga starts with “tapas” to create heat but also to accept suffering as part of the path.

Through the yogic lens, I was first able to see the meaning behind my suffering, and then find my way out of it. This was due largely to the incredible grace of being blessed by the teachings of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is translated to “life science” or “wisdom.” First and foremost, my teachers taught me that “I” was not my body, mind or emotions (known as Prakriti); there was something, someone beyond and deep within me (known as Purusha); and my journey was going to be an internal one. Though I was still identifying with the many veils of the Kleshas (obstacles), my true self was at peace and harmony! My path to a state of inner peace and harmony would involve a willingness to take a brave and truthful look at what was causing me so much pain and suffering, and take action through devoted practice and radical changes in living. Taking personal responsibility for my own Dukkha was the awakening of personal power to be free of Dukkha! Not that suffering is not a part of daily life, but it’s our relationship to it that changes.

Dosha,” in Ayurvedic wisdom, means disease. Described as the first obstacle in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1:30, dis-ease blocks us from the experience of Samadhi, union with ourselves and the world around us. Everything I was suffering from, such as anxiety, depression, anorexia, extreme restlessness, addiction, physical pain, and hormonal imbalances, were all rooted in my particular disease type referred to as Vata.

There are three main Doshas, which are allied with the three Gunas, or forces of nature. Seeing ourselves as nature and a part of nature is Ayurveda’s main Gospel. Vata is composed of air and ether, Pitta is fire and water, and Kapha is water and earth. Each of us is a unique combination of the elements of nature. We have each of the elements and Doshas within us, but every individual contains them in a portion that is uniquely theirs! The Goal of Ayurveda is to re-establish and maintain a person’s natural doshic balance, so their own nature is supported, enhanced, celebrated, and fulfilled.

Through the wisdom of Ayurveda, immersing myself in the practices of self healing, and the daily ritual of Yoga,Pranayama, Mantra, healthy eating habits, and the use of herbs and spices for my Dosha, I have experienced miraculous cures: from being able to conceive a child at 43, to having the beautiful life I have, which involves running a temple of healing, Laughing Lotus Yoga Center, to serve these life changing and transformative teachings! This, I could have never conceived of 25 years ago. And I’m certainly not saying it’s easy…I still struggle with my Dosha daily; but by committing to path of physical, emotional, and mental health; everyone around me benefits.

Like the Buddha himself, I encourage you, too, to look into your Dosha and Dukkha that are particular to you. Along with consulting a Vidya, an ayurvedic practitioner, any book by Maya Tiwari, David Frawley or Harish Johari can be great guides on your path to healing. YOU become your own healer.

Here’s a link to begin to determine your personal dosha.

Dukkha as described in wiki :

Anguish
Anxiety (Chogyam Trungpa, The Truth of Suffering, pp. 8–10)
Affliction (Brazier)
Dissatisfaction (Pema Chodron, Chogyam Trunpa)
Discomfort
Discontent
Frustration (Dalai Lama, Four Noble Truths, p. 38)
Misery
Sorrow
Stress (Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Jon Kabat-Zin)
Suffering (Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Succito, Chogyam Trungpa, Rupert Gethin, Dalai Lama, et al.)
Uneasiness (Chogyam Trungpa)
Unease (Rupert Gethin)
Unhappiness
Unsatisfactoriness

Developing insight into Dukkha is the gateway not only to awakening, but also to the raising and nourishing of compassion. Compassion is that feeling in the heart that wants to help others and ourselves be free of suffering. The First noble truth leads us to the practice of compassion, because it is the practice of letting things in, letting people in, letting all parts of ourselves in.

Lokha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu: May all beings every where be happy and free from suffering.

Jasmine Tarkeshi is the Co-Founder of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centers in NYC and SF. She is a master teacher and devoted student of Yoga and it’s allied practices. She teaches weekly classes and Leads Teacher Trainings at Laughing Lotus SF, Teaches workshops and retreats worldwide and will featured at the SF Yoga Journal Conference in January 2015 teaching an Ayurveda and Yoga Workshop, Dancing with your Dosha.