Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

Lotus Love Blog

Recognizing the Mother by Alex Crow

Posted on: July 14th, 2017 No Comments

It has been said that we came from the waters. As the story goes, all life was once a seed planted in the womb of Earth’s oceans.  I feel this to be true in my bones when I’m close to the ocean shoreline.  Maybe it’s just in my Mediterranean blood line, or perhaps it is simply the recognition of my body to its mother.  It feels deeper than instinct.   

I grew up without much of a conscious relationship with the Earth.  We didn’t have a garden at home.  My parents did their best to cook for my three sisters and I when they could, but we often ate fast food for dinner with how busy we all were.  I didn’t learn how to speak to the Earth through song or dance. I never learned the ways of plants, and I didn’t camp (except once in my own back yard).  It wasn’t until I moved to California that I began to develop a spiritual relationship with the Earth, mostly the ocean.  As a child I was blessed to visit family along the Mediterranean Sea quite a few times, but never did I truly understand my roots until moving to California.

The ocean calls to me.

There have been days where the only thing in the world that could sooth my “mid-twenty weariness” would be to literally run into the cold Pacific Ocean waves.  The deafening sound of the wind, and the soft but strong force of the ocean currents could rock me back and forth until my worries had simply been washed away. The salty-sandy texture left in my hair and on my sun drenched skin only added to the sweetness of release. I know the ocean as my mother, our mother.  She has shown me compassion through the space she creates for healing, power in the sheer force of her body, and she blows my mind away with her vastness.  Every time I go to her I am renewed; she gives me space to be, and I love her like I love my own birth mother…with an intensity i do not fully understand.  

I sometimes wish I had gills so I could live within the ocean world and be close to Her in that way.  As a child I have memories of submerging myself underwater in my grandma’s pool.  I loved looking up at the surface from below.  It seems I have always been a deep diver… someone who finds joy in going deep within myself and with others.  I just feel comforted by the direction – IN.

This is a story is of recognition.  We all feel the energy of the Mother in our own unique ways.  With me, it’s through the waters.  And now, every time I approach the ocean, I do so with reverence and gratitude.  I honor the connection we have.  The bond is sacred, and I hold it with deep love and responsibility.  I feel it as my duty to do my best to return the love that she so selflessly gives to all of her children, to protect her as I would defend my own mother, and to honor her with every breath, every meal, every sip of water, every bath I take in her healing waters.

Mama Earth, I thank you for all that you do to sustain my life and the lives of us all.  I love you.

<3 Alex Crow

“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate.  But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond…I wonder if much that ails our society stems from the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be cut off from that love of, and from, the land.  It is medicine for broken land and empty hearts.”

~Robin Wall Kimmerer

Alex Crow teaches regularly at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in San Francisco. She is also a Reiki Master and a co-founder of vîv, an all female Bay Area dance collective.


We Are All Made of Sacred Sound by Genevieve McClendon

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 1 Comment

“I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts.  Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart, like my blood.  It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene.”

-Ray Charles

We are all made of sacred sound.  Each one of us living our own unique vibration in the orchestra of the universe.  I love even visualizing this! Nada yoga allows us to celebrate and honor the healing capacity of sound.  Nada means inner mystical sound and yoga means, union.  The union of sound within, honoring the divine sound within. One way we can empower our vibration is through mantra.  Mantra is a group of words that hold a psychological and spiritual power.  When we align a mantra to our energy system, aka chakra system, we are able to take responsibility and alchemize our very being.  Dr. David Frawley explains, when a mantra is carefully chosen and used silently, mantras are said to have the ability to help alter your subconscious impulses, habits, and afflictions. Mantras, when spoken or chanted, direct the healing power of Prana (life force energy) and, in traditional Vedic practices, can be used to energize and access spiritual states of consciousness. Mantra is a spiritual practice that should be done on a regular basis for several months for its desired effects to take place. We can empower ourselves by learning which chakras within our own energy field need support and align a mantra with that chakra. There are sacred mantras for each chakra to help create inner peace and harmony.  This map shows the chakras and the mantras that heal and align each chakra, you will know which of your chakras need support as you read:

Root Chakra-

Mantra-  Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha

On the rainbow bridge the Root Chakra’s color is red and its sound is LAM.  It is based at the bottom of tail bone.  The Root Chakra’s energy is stability, feeling safe, security, and standing up under pressure.  When Root Chakra is out of alignment one may experience fear, insecurity, lack of courage, muscle and structural weakness, and hip, knee and foot problems.  A way to come back into harmany is to honor Ganesha, the remover of obstacles with this mantra.

2nd Chakra- Sacral Plexus

Mantra- Om Shrim Maha Lakshmyai Namaha

The Sacral Plexus is the color orange and its sound is VAM.  It is right above the Root Chakra in the pelvic bowl.  The Sacral Chakra energy radiates powerful emotional and creative forces, along with movement, sensuality, and relationship to ourselves and others.  When the Sacral Plexus is out of alignment we may feel controlling, guilty, frigid, dependent, a lack of creativity, close minded, emotionally stuck, and difficulty in relationships.

3rd Chakra- Solar Plexus

Mantra- Om Hum Hanumate Namaha

The Solar Plexus color is yellow and its sound is RAM.  It radiates in the belly right above the Sacral Plexus. This energy center holds self-confidence, self-empowerment, honesty, digesting life easily, courageousness and authenticity.  When the Solar Plexus is out of alignment one may experience shame, powerlessness, shyness, worry and victimization.

4th Chakra- Heart

Mantra- Om Shri Krishnaya Namaha

The Heart Chakra is green and its sound is HUM.  It shines at the heart and chest right above the Solar Plexus.  It is the energy center where the earth self and the divine self connect.  The Heart Chakra’s energy when in alignment is of love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance of others, open heartedness, connected mind and heart, joyfulness, happiness, gratitude and grace.  When out of alignment the Heart Chakra may contribute to experiences of anger, hostility, resentment, jealousy, attachment to others, sadness, grief, sadness, rage and violence.

5th Chakra- Throat

Mantra- Om Namah Shivaya

Throat Chakra’s color is blue and its sound is YUM.  It is located at the throat and neck space above the collar bone.  The Throat Chakra’s energy is of honesty, mercy, compassionate words, positive words, speaking truth, being heard.  When out of alignment the Throat Chakra may cause babbling, verbal diarrhea, empty words, criticism of self and others, or victimized words.

6th Chakra- Third Eye

Mantra- AUM

The Third Eye’s Chakra color is indigo and its sound is OM.  It is located between the eyebrows, on the forehead. The Third Eye’s energy is of wisdom, intuition, clairvoyants, clairaudient, heightened smell, clairsentience, all knowing, seeing beyond illusions.  When the Third Eye is out of alignment we may experience narrow mindedness, arrogant, narcissistic, stuck in structured paradigms and avidya (ignorance).

Crown Chakra

Mantra- Silent AUM

The Crown Chakra’s color is white light.  It is located at the crown of the head. The Crown Chakra’s energy is our connection to source and divine.  This energy center radiates self realization, self love, expanded consciousness, all seeing, all knowing, all feeling, all sensing, walking between the illusions of the world.  When the Crown Chakra is out of alignment we may experience lack of spirituality, underdeveloped higher self, addictions to substances, belongings and emotions.

Once you have identified which mantra you would like to use to empower and strengthen your chakra system aka life force, try repeating your mantra everyday for 40 days.  I know, 40 days can feel like a lot!  But allow yourself to witness how the sacred sound of this mantra will uplift and empower your inner sound!  You can do this by finding a quite place to sit, relax your body and tune into your breath.  Then state your mantra silently as you inhale and exhale. When we align the helpful mantra vibration with our chakra system we allow ourselves to be even more connected to the divine with in.  This helps our mind to focus and dissolve the ego’s belief that we are separate from each other and divine source.  We are “One Verse”, we are the “Uni-Verse”.  Each one of us plays our part, vibrating our own unique sound in the cosmic band of the universe.  Let us take responsibility for our own sound and vibration we put into the world.

“The path to enlightenment is not a group trip.  It’s between you and God.  This means you’ve got to go inside.  The fewer external distractions and the more concentration you have, the easier it is to get there.”

-Bhagavan Das

Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their wholeness. She is a compassionate teacher that invites all her students to live their truth and celebrate who they are as they are. She is a passionate Reiki Master/Teacher. Genevieve teaches Restorative Yoga with Reiki at Laughing Lotus on Friday from 6:45-8:00pm and Sunday from 6:15-7:30. Her website is http://www.InLightandSoul.com


The Intuitive Ear by Adriana Feliciana

Posted on: June 14th, 2017 No Comments
The practice of Nada Yoga…a time to celebrate the beauty of sound. It makes sense that the first organ developed in the fetus is the ear when you think about sound being the first thing that was made when the Universe was created.
When my children were little, I quickly learned to hone in on the lack of sound – 9 times out of 10 it meant trouble. Once I found my 4 year old son, his little brows knitted together with such silent concentration, as he painted, back and forth in large bold moves, all over my brand new white couch…with my waterproof black mascara.
Now that my children are adults, I am trained to listen to the silent gaps in a conversation that usually mean they have something important to tell me. I can still remember the scary silence I heard when my daughter was trying to tell me she was all grown up and moving out to live on her own. I knew the time was coming, she was over 18, but I still wasn’t ready to hear it. I tried hard to let the silence happen so she could speak,
Staying present and listening to what people are truly saying can be a challenge sometimes. There are so many distractions that can easily lead us astray. Mantras are an excellent way to focus and celebrate the beauty of sound. Easwaran said, “Mantras are handrails for the mind.” So Hum is an excellent mantra for staying present. The meaning of this mantra is simply, “I am.” It helps us enter the ground of our being. Bede Griffiths describes the ground of our being as, “Being present everywhere, in everything, yet always escaping our grasp.”
To practice this mantra, lengthen the spine, roll your shoulders up by your ears, and then press them back to open the heart. Allow your shoulders to melt into your back, and let your heart stay open. As you attune to your breath, use the syllable “So” on the inhalation and “Hum” on the exhalation. Take your time and allow the power of the inner sound to resonate. This mantra can be used in silence with the breath being the only audible sound. Think of it as one of your “pocket mantras” to keep on hand the next time your mind starts to wander during a challenging time or conversation.

Adriana loves yoga because the practice allows her to truly inhabit her body and find a comfortable and livable space deep within. Inspired by Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, Adriana blends compassion for all beings with a challenging mindful asana practice that supports where her students are while encouraging them to explore their edge. Come to class with her, and your prana will be stoked through conscious breathing techniques while cultivating inner perceptual awareness and increasing concentration.


The Rainbow Bridge by Genevieve McClendon

Posted on: March 29th, 2017 No Comments

“May we live like the lotus, forever rooted in the muddy waters.”

-Judith Lasater

In every class that I’ve attended with my teacher, she states, “May we be like the lotus, forever rooted in the muddy waters.”  I appreciate this mantra and reminder because it allows me to honor the importance of being deeply rooted within myself and the divine.  A way we can create this relationship is through the rainbow bridge of the subtle body and chakras. Through alchemizing the chakras we can root into our own true nature and feel fully alive and present in our lives.  In yoga we honor the subtle body and belief that everyone has an energy field and aura.  We acknowledge that each being radiates their own unique vibration of life force. This subtle body is made up of an aura which is made up of layers around the body composed of energy from the chakras.  There are seven major chakras which are spinning orbs of energy that run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. The chakras  are also connected to 12 meridian channels that move chi up and down the body through the fascia or connective tissues.  Within the fascia there are 72,000 tubular like structures connected to the circulatory system of our body called Nadis.  These seven major chakras are spinning wheels of light or “life batteries” that are our life force. At the base of our body we have feet and legs that root into the earth connecting us to the root chakra and drawing nourishment.  At the crown of our head lives the crown chakra, also known as the 1,000 petal lotus connecting us to the divine.  It’s as if our spine grows out of our pelvic bowl to reach the light of the sun.  From the roots to the crown there is a rainbow bridge or chakra system that draws connection of the earth self to the spiritual self.  The union of the individual and divine.

The Rainbow Bridge:

Root Chakra

On the rainbow bridge the Root Chakra’s color is red.  It is based at the bottom of tail bone.  The Root Chakra’s energy is stability, feeling safe, security, and standing up under pressure.  When Root Chakra is out of alignment one may experience fear, insecurity, no courage, muscle and structural weakness, hip, knee and foot problems.

2nd Chakra – Sacral Plexus

The Sacral Plexus is the color orange.  It is right above the Root Chakra in the pelvic bowl.  The Sacral Chakra energy radiates powerful emotional and creative forces, along with movement, sensuality, and relationship to ourselves and others.  When the Sacral Plexus is out of alignment we may feel controlling, guilty, frigid, dependent, a lack of creativity, close minded, emotionally stuck, difficulty in relationships.

3rd Chakra – Solar Plexus

The Solar Plexus color is yellow.  It radiates in the belly right above the Sacral Plexus. This energy center holds self-confidence, self-empowerment, honesty, digesting life easily, courageousness and authenticity.  When the Solar Plexus is out of alignment one may experience shame, powerlessness, shyness, worry, victimization.

4th Chakra – Heart

The Heart Chakra is green.  It shines at the heart and chest right above the Solar Plexus.  It is the energy center where the earth self and the divine self connect.  The Heart Chakra’s energy when in alignment is of love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance of others, open heartedness, connected mind and heart, joyfulness, happiness, gratitude and grace.  When out of alignment the Heart Chakra may contribute to experiences of anger, hostility, resentment, jealousy, attachment to others, sadness, grief, sadness, rage and violence.

5th Chakra – Throat

Throat Chakra’s color is blue.  It is located at the throat and neck space above the collar bone.  The Throat Chakra’s energy is of honesty, mercy, compassionate words, positive words, speaking truth, being heard.  When out of alignment the Throat Chakra may cause babbling, verbal diarrhea, empty words, criticism of self and others, or victimized words.  

6th Chakra – Third Eye

The Third Eye’s Chakra color is indigo.  It is located between the eyebrows, on the forehead. The Third Eye’s energy is of wisdom, intuition, clairvoyants, clairaudient, heightened smell, clairsentience, all knowing, seeing beyond illusions.  When the Third Eye is out of alignment we may experience narrow mindedness, arrogant, narcissistic, stuck in structured paradigms, avidya (ignorance).

Crown Chakra

The Crown Chakra’s color is white light.  It is located at the crown of the head. The Crown Chakra’s energy is our connection to source and divine.  This energy center radiates self realization, self love, expanded consciousness, all seeing, all knowing, all feeling, all sensing, walking between the illusions of the world.  When the Crown Chakra is out of alignment we may experience lack of spirituality, underdeveloped higher self, addictions to substances, belongings and emotions.

Each of the seven energy centers are incredibly important as they dictate how we relate to the world, ourselves and the cosmos.  We can empower ourselves by learning about the chakras and which chakras within our own energy field need support and harmony. Through yoga and awareness of the Chakra’s we can root more deeply into our true nature and create inner peace, honoring our subtle body and giving it the support it needs so we can flourish and be fully alive. Living deeply rooted in the muddy waters so we can be the lotus.

“On our journey through life, the chakras are the wheels along the axis that take the vehicle of the Self along our evolutionary quest, across the Rainbow Bridge, to reclaim our divine nature once again.”

-Anodea Judith

Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their wholeness. She is a compassionate teacher that invites all her students to live their truth and celebrate who they are as they are. She is a passionate Reiki Master/Teacher. Genevieve teaches Restorative Yoga with Reiki at Laughing Lotus on Friday from 6:45-8:00pm and Sunday from 6:15-7:30. Her website is http://www.InLightandSoul.com.


Restorative Healing for Vata Season

Posted on: November 23rd, 2016 No Comments

by Genevieve McClendon

genevieve

“Life (Ayu) is the combination (samyoga) of body, senses, mind and reincarnating soul. Ayurveda is the most sacred science of life, beneficial to humans both in this world and the world beyond.”  -Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, I.42 -34

I was walking home from the Bart train station at 8:40pm, when I thought to myself: How did I do everything I did today, and I still have a 20 minute walk ahead of me? I started my day with my yoga practice, a morning appointment, taught three classes in the afternoon and evening, commuted on two trains, took two uber car rides and one bus. I also made time for breakfast and some small snacks along the way. I find a lot of us live the life of “checking off lists” and existing in “overdrive” or “overload.” So how can we make the time to be present with ourselves and others? How can we allow ourselves to be so “alive” that we seize the juiciness of every moment and live in wholeness with our mind, body, spirit? Doctors say chronic activation of stress response damages our system, causing high blood pressure and flows of stress hormones that continue throughout the day. Hence, why a lot of us don’t feel good, have a hard time sifting through emotions, or can’t find our zest for life. I believe if we help ourselves come into our own unique harmony, we can heal the world one person at a time. So, how can we learn to remove obstacles present in our daily lives, cultivate inner harmony, and harness healing power? One way is Ayurveda!

Ayurveda is the ancient science of self-healing, also known as “the Science of Life”. Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences that came together to bring natural balance to the mind, body and spirit over 5,000+ years ago in India. It is considered one the most remarkable holistic practices in healthcare. Ayurveda allows the knowledge and skill to create a specific dosha balancing yoga practice. It enables us to use food with awareness, and create a basic lifestyle plan.

Through the practice of Ayurveda and yoga we can empower ourselves in self-realization and self-healing by learning how to apply daily care to our own constitution and dosha. In Ayurveda it is believed we are derived from energy, light and matter. These three powers make up the three elements of the dosha’s: Kapha (earth/water), Pitta (fire), Vata (air). We each have unique portions of each dosha within our constitution. It is how we each manifest our prakriti or nature in the living world. Working with our doshas, we help heal and harmonize ourselves. The doshas are also marked as part of our seasons and times of year in Vedic knowledge.

At this time, we are living in the season of Fall which in Ayurveda is also known as Vata season. Vata dosha and season is predominately an energetic, active, creative frame of mind, always on the go energy. When Vata is out of balance we experience anxiety, fear of the future or what’s going to happen and we tend hold our breath. Not letting the Prana (breath/spirit) flow easily we jeopardize our life force. I believe because we all live in such a fast paced culture, we all experience Vata disorder, even year round. Because it is Fall, and most of us are experiencing fast movement and anxious minds with the election and holiday’s arriving, I want to offer you some Vata calming support. Creating grounded spaciousness allows us to breathe and touch our own inner self. With a few easy to do Restorative yoga poses you can rest the anxious Vata and feel lighter, more stable and peaceful. These two simple versions of Savasana definitely help me in my journey to stabilize my Vata dosha.

“Yoga and knowledge are the two methods for dissolving the disturbances of the mind. Yoga is control of the movements of the mind. Knowledge is clear observation of the them.” -Laghu Yoga Vasishta V.9.72

savasana-1

For this basic form of Savasana, all you need is a quite, warm, comfortable space. You will need a pillow to support your head, a pillow or rolled up blanket to support the back of your knees, a small towel or washcloth to place over your eyes and an extra blanket to make sure your hands and feet are warm. Set your timer for 15-20 minutes and lay down. Feel your breath gently move in and out, relaxing your mind into the back of your skull, releasing all your weight into the ground. To come out of pose, bend your knees slowly into your belly, roll onto your side, using your arms to set yourself up to sit gently.

savasana-2

This is an elevated Savasana with the support of a chair or couch. This is great for if you sit a lot at work or on an airplane or if you’re feeling anxious. This pose helps bring energy into your root chakra and feet, supporting and relaxing the lower back. Find a space that is quite, warm and comfortable with a soft chair or couch, a small towel or washcloth to place over your eyes and extra blankets to cover up your feet and hands. Lie on the ground with your back on a soft surface with your legs elevated and resting on the seat of a chair or couch. Make sure your shins are parallel to the ground. Set your timer. Allow your breath to softly move in and out, creating a longer exhale for a few breaths and then come back to your normal breath. To come out of pose, bend your knees slowly into your belly, roll onto your side, using your arms, sit yourself up slowly.

Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their wholeness. She is a compassionate teacher that invites all her students to live their truth and celebrate who they are as they are. She is a passionate Reiki Master/Teacher. Genevieve teaches Restorative Yoga with Reiki at Laughing Lotus on Friday from 6:45-8:00pm and Sunday from 6:15-7:30. Her website is InLightandSoul.com.


The Spiritual IS Political

Posted on: November 16th, 2016 No Comments

by Minerva Arias
minerva

I’m a Vata, which means I’m in my head – a lot. When things don’t make sense, I grab a book and I throw on my spiritual tool belt and I pray, sing, dance or whatever else Spirit calls me to do. This past week, after the elections, as I laid in my hammock soaking up the sun, trying to hold space for the over-saturation of hate, confusion and chaos that was surrounding me, I reached for the Bhagavad Gita.

The Bhagavad Gita is a sacred Hindu text. For some who practice yoga in the west, it is a required text in teacher trainings and used as a guide in how us yoga teachers craft our classes and live our lives. A brief synopsis of this sacred ancient text – Arjuna is a warrior on the battlefield with Krishna as his charioteer. There’s an epic war about to go down and it’s up to Arjuna to go to war against his own cousins and uncles to protect and defend the sacred land. At first Arujna is like – no way Krishna, I can’t go to bat with my own family, I’d rather they kill me. And throughout the story, Krishna is educating Arujuna as to why it’s vital for him to follow his dharma (as a warrior to defeat his evil cousins).

Krishna drops gems like “Devote yourself to the disciplines of yoga, for yoga is skill in action” and “Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.” And “The infinite joy of touching Brahman is easily attained by those who are free from the burden of evil and established within themselves. They see the Self in every creature and all creation in the Self. With consciousness unified through meditation, they see everything with an equal eye.”

As I was re-reading parts of the book, my natural Vata nature began to make infinite connections across philosophies, practices and our current reality. Darshana, the Sanksrit word for philosophy, literally means seeing. Ayurveda is a philosophy which allows physicians to see patients in the same way Nature sees them. Yoga is a philosophy that allows individuals to see themselves in their Divine Nature. The sages who codified these practices were called “Seers” because of their ability to perceive reality clearly.

Yoga gives us a tool belt to be able to sit with our own shadows, our own darkness and allows us to have revelation after revelation for our growth and spiritual r-evolution. It gives us a constant reminder of our Divine Spirit, our interconnectedness, our karma and our dharma. It brings us back into our physical bodies, our breath and our greatest super power – love.

Ayurveda, “the sister science” of Yoga, is the art and science of reminding us that we are the microcosm of the macrocosm and that our natural state of being is one of harmony, of living in unison with the rhythm of Mama Earth. It reminds us that everything we need, we already have inside and if we let our internal clocks mimic Mama Earths clocks, we should be good. “Spiritual health is a dynamic balance between a strongly integrated individual personality and the cosmic personality of Nature, a balance that is possible only so long as a being remembers its debt to Mother Nature.”

Here’s what else Ayurveda teaches us – there are layers to prevent us from getting sick and the body with its infinite wisdom tries to warn us before shit hits the fan. But lucky for us, our immune system and its intricate system is controlled by a single boss – ahamkara. Ahamkara constantly reminds every one of your cells of its identity and allegiance to the glorious entity known as you. Ahamkara is like our own personal Arjuna. Living inside with her own personal army, ready to serve and keep you aligned, safe and healthy.

Healthy in Sanskrit is Svastha. Sva = self and Stha = established in Self. So, Svastha, or to be healthy, means to be established in the Self – mind, body, spirit. And what did the Gita tell us about being established in Self? It said that we “see the Self in every creature and all creation in the Self.”

So this is why I always find it disturbing when one of two things happen – one: the physical yoga practice (‘asana’ – which is a pathway to getting us to be able to sit in meditation to reach these higher levels of our spiritual consciousness) is sold solely as a workout, stripped from the spiritual aspect of it and two: when people fail to see how the spiritual IS political.

If I am to be established in Self, then how do I do this while completely ignoring the ills of the world and all the suffering that surrounds me? If I am to strive to see everything through an equal eye – through a continual practice of mediation – how do I not take what I learn in this individual practice with me with every breath I take? If I am practicing yoga, ayurveda and reading these spiritual texts and yet only applying them to my own individual life, then I am just feeding my ego and not pushing myself into the uncomfortable spaces to have the necessary dialogues needed so that we ALL are established in Self?

It’s not a passive practice. It’s an active one. Being a peaceful warrior, a warrior of light, a Spiritual Warrior does not mean that we pretend that people aren’t suffering. It does not mean that we keep our eyes closed and avoid the uncomfortable conversations, confrontations and spaces. Everything about this practice teaches us the opposite. When we choose to not express what impacts us, when we choose to not listen to how and what deeply impacts others, when that expression is restricted, we lose our resonance and no longer vibrate in the chorus of creation. We become less alive, out of step and dissonant.

Ayurveda teaches us that the longer we stay dissonant and refuse to listen, the further we move from our alignment, and eventually our bodies will force us to listen by shutting down. Remember that the balance is possible only so long as we remember our debt to Mother Nature. So the more we refuse to listen and pay this debt, the louder Mother Nature will scream to wake us up into taking action to get back in formation! I don’t know if she can be any louder than she is right now.

The Spiritual IS Political and mama Earth is waiting for us.

Here are just a few ways to hold space for yourself and to show up for those most impacted by our violent political environment:

  • If the election results have left you utterly shocked and you’re just becoming aware of the many ways in which this country does not deem all of us equal or worthy, that’s ok. Recognize where you are and understand this isn’t a competition of whose grief weighs more. Welcome and now begin to unpack your old way of thinking that no longer serves. You can start with “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh. Begin to listen to the people who knew this was going to happen because it’s our every day reality. There are many of Black & Brown women writers who have been describing our reality for a long time.
    • Audre Lorde
    • bell hooks.
    • This bridge called my back: writings by radical women of color
    • Gloria Anzaldua
    • Assata Shakur
    • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Michelle Alexander – the New Jim Crow
    • And so many more
  • INTERSECTIONALITY – learn what this means and why it is vital and important in understanding our lived realities.
  • Join local organizations that are already doing the work to help dismantle systems, which literally kill and displace marginalized groups of people.
  • Find ways you can offer any resources you have to ease others every day struggles.
  • Have the difficult conversations with your loved ones – put that yoga practice to work!
  • Connect and learn from people in real life – not just on social media. Log off and tune in, in person, to the realities of not just your city, state and this country – but around the world, and begin to see the larger picture.
  • When it all feels overwhelming – go to yoga and go back to your breath. This being conscious thing is work. But it’s worth it. Remember we are all a Gift of Divinity.
  • Get Solar Panels! Shop local. Begin to think of ways you can live a minimalist lifestyle. Protect Mama Earth.
  • Join our 25-hour Yoga & Activism conference in January with Jasmine & crew.
  • Love harder. Love tenderly. Love fiercely.
  • Come chop it up with me at the studio (let’s chat) because I have way more ideas and words than I can fit on this blog post.

Minerva, a devoted yoga mat souljah, loves to lead folx back into their bodies, with their breath, to remember their Gift Of Divinity. She’s all about getting back to our roots – learn more at RootsHealing.org & join her in March for a beautiful trip to Cuba!

With the magic of music, asana, pranayama and meditation, Minerva’s classes are soulful, playful & makes you sweat – #coconutmagic Join her every Tuesday at noon for Soul Sweat, Tuesdays & Thursdays at 5:30pm for Happy Hour Flow, and Saturdays at 11:45am for a sweet Lotus Basic.
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Nourishing Our Ancestors and Ourselves

Posted on: November 2nd, 2016 No Comments
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by Jasmine Tarkeshi

Autumn is my favorite season and time of year. The glorious colors of the leaves changing, the wild movements of the skies, and the crispness in the air all have me so inspired and energized! Unfortunately, it’s also a time of getting run down, stressed out, and prone to disease. It’s a time of movement and change, a time to nourish our ancestors, as well as ourselves.

In Vedic wisdom, it’s said that if we want to be healthy and happy, we must honor our ancestors in order to free ourselves from our karmic pasts. We must nourish our ancestors through daily offerings so they may serve 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 karmas of grief, despair and disease.”

Creating an ancestral altar is a beautiful practice to reconnect to our roots and the universe, which connects us all. To start, place pictures of your ancestors or the country of their origin, along with your teachers, or anyone who has supported your growth. 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, we can see these qualities in ourselves too: dry lips, dry skin, dry nasal passages. We might also experience 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! 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 yourself, just as you are also connecting 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.

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. You don’t need to go to sleep at 5 during the shorter days of fall, but try turning in and tuning in as the sun sets. Vata’s positive qualities are heightened during dawn and dusk. Spend time reading, writing, meditating. Find 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. This will reduce stress and strengthen immunity. Slow down the flow and include more Yin and Restorative Yoga, and spend 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. 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 Yoga’s ancient and transformative teachings and practices. She has been teaching for 19 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.


With a Mane Like Medusa

Posted on: October 26th, 2016 No Comments

by Robin Wilner

robin

With my curly dark brown hair askew in the mornings, my big brother once proclaimed, “You look like Medusa!” As avid lovers of Greek mythology and the ‘80s film Clash of the Titans, I knew he wasn’t stroking my ego. Medusa was a cruel and ugly monster, with greenish skin, bloodshot eyes and a ferocious stare that turned all who looked upon her into stone. She also had a den of venomous snakes in place of hair. Thanks, big Bro.

But what most may not know is the story of who she was prior to this curse. The only mortal of three sisters, Medusa was once a beautiful, fair-skinned priestess to the Goddess Athena, with wavy golden locks and kind, loving eyes. She’d taken a vow of lifetime celibacy, but like many young adults, soon found herself infatuated with a lover (Poseidon), and chose to marry him rather than honor her promise. As punishment, Athena transformed Medusa into a repulsive creature, which caused the world to detest and reject her until she was forced to flee from her home to live out her cursed existence in solitude. She was eventually hunted and beheaded by the great warrior, Perseus.

Sure, my brother was making fun in the way that ignorant youngsters often do. My messy, seemingly unattractive hair reminded him of the evil snake monsteress. This myth has an interesting twist, however, when looked upon through a more mature lens. We often forget that a promise is not to be broken, and that there are consequences for being dishonorable. There are also times when we exhibit ugliness (in the non-physical sense) and feel no repercussions; and yet, society tends to perceive physical beauty as acceptable and unattractiveness as dangerous or threatening – symbolic by how Medusa was first shunned by the world and her cursed gaze would turn onlookers to stone if they looked straight into her eyes. We often don’t want others to see us angry, frustrated, sad or hurt; we’d rather they turn away or only engage with the façade of happiness and contentment that we create instead. And Medusa’s struggle was to maintain her authentic sense of identity despite her outward appearance, which she eventually succumbed to in the ultimate form of suffering.

Myths are often stories that reveal our humanity, that help us to see our habitually destructive patterns. We’re encouraged to generate more tapas – the fire we burn throughout the Yoga practice that helps to free us from these damaging behaviors. Each sacred tale bathed in tradition goes even a step further, helping to make sense of the human experience by answering timeless questions that may eventually lead us towards a richer life: Who am I? What is my purpose? How do I want to be in the world? When connected through the common human experience, regardless of ethical or cultural differences, we can even appreciate the humanity in all beings.

While I may not have realized this initially as a youngster, Medusa was as multi-layered as any other mortal. She made poor decisions without weighing the consequences, attached her sense of Self to outward appearance and the external world, and was doomed to suffer for the rest of her shortened life. Truthfully, we all start out just like Medusa, but then the practice of Yoga takes effect in such profound ways. With time, we come to realize that a pure state of Joy is only attainable when we look deeply within ourselves. The internal world must be in harmony in order to find true peace, and no amount of external pleasure or acceptance will satisfy our desire for internal tranquility. It’s completely up to us to seek the truth of our Divine nature in order to lessen the suffering.

Formerly a Broadway dancer/singer/actress in NYC, Robin mixes her love of movement, chanting, energetic healing and yoga philosophy into all her teachings. She believes that human potential is infinite and that the path to joy starts with mindfulness and self-transformation. Known for her inspiring sequences, sense of humor, and juicy hands-on assists, Robin aims to guide students through a rich and heartfelt experience that maximizes their potential. She is also a Holistic Nutritionist. www.nutritiousyogini.com

Classes: Mondays 9am & 12pm, Wednesdays 9am, Fridays 12pm & 5:30pm or Sundays at 10am.


The Cycles of Creativity

Posted on: October 19th, 2016 No Comments
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by Valerie Starr

The story of creation(s) in Hindu Mythology starts as so many other stories of creation do, and because these stories have mostly been carried through word of mouth, there are many interpretations. This story, in particular, starts in the complete dark and mysterious nothingness. No space, no earth, no heaven, no hell, no place in between only darkness….darkness beyond darkness.

 In this darkness, a wave washed up onto the shore of nothingness carrying a large snake. The snake was coiled up with Lord Vishnu sleeping and dreaming so soundly. Out of the depths of darkness a vibration started to take shape and got louder and louder, rumbling into what eventually formed the sound of OM. As Vishnu awoke from dreaming, he noticed a lotus flower springing from his navel. The flower started to blossom open, and Lord Brahma emerged out of the petals of the lotus. Brahma then began to create the world….Only to have Shiva destroy it. These three gods, known as the Trimurti (meaning having three forms), are essential for the process of creation. This cycle happens over and over again. Creation – Balance – Destruction.
 
This cycle is generally how the creative process starts for most of us…in darkness. When we close our eyes, something begins to stir, a wave of inspiration might wash up into our minds, we bring whatever that is inside of us outside (if we are lucky and determined), and then it gets washed away making space for the next idea or inspiration.
 
I find that my most creative time of day is early. Before the sun rises in darkness, before everyone else in my household is awake. There is a soft vibration and fresh mystery to the day and what it will hold. The first thing I do when I wake up is turn on the teakettle and go to my mat, every single day. This is my space and time to create; teaching is my biggest form of creativity right now. There is something so palpable about moving and breathing in darkness; there are no distractions for the mind to get wrapped up in, and so I am moving with absolute clarity of mind. My body is in a state that knows where it needs to move. The tensions that are built up are very present and speaking to me…. this is where I want to go. Sometimes in my dreams I will be teaching or practicing a class. If that happens, I bring my dream onto the mat because somewhere in my deep subconscious this movement needs to be had and experienced from out of the dream world and into the material world. I find many parallels to my process of creation and the Hindu myth of creation.
 
I have been drawing up a lot of inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert in her newest book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She has a keen way of describing how ideas have the ability to find us if we are willing and open to them. If not, they go back into the ether to land into the minds of someone else that is open. 
 
“I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us—albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.” 

So I ask, what do you want to bring forth from inside and out into the world? What is holding you back or what do you need to release in order to move forward? And how can you sustain it? 

The Keys to Spiritual Bartending

Posted on: September 21st, 2016 No Comments

by Adriana Shanti

adriana

As it states in the preface, The Yoga Sutras are, “a living scripture to illumine our spiritual path.” They are threads of wisdom to weave throughout your daily life. There is so much valuable information in the Sutras, and I highly recommend taking one Slokah at a time and letting it resonate inside you. My favorite Slokah is Book 1:33 because it applies to everyone everyday. In fact, Patanjali advises that we commit at least this one Sutra to memory.

Book 1 Slokah 33:
By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.

Patanjali says that there are only four kinds of locks in this world. Suka, duhkha, punya and apunya–happy people, unhappy people, the virtuous and the wicked. The keys to these locks are friendliness, compassion, delight and disregard.

This month marks four wonderful years of working as a receptionist for the front desk at Laughing Lotus. I like to think of myself as a “Spiritual Bartender” more than a receptionist. I greet everyone with a cheerful smile and quickly surmise what key will work to “open” them up.

Patanjali says that the key to opening up the happy is to use the “friendliness” key. Unfortunately, even four thousand years ago, there were people who were not happy at seeing others happy. I greet the happy with excitement! I take great joy in looking at all vacation pictures, and I ask leading questions to find out what made their time away so special. I love hearing about anything and everything that makes you happy. Did you finally clean out that hall closet that has been haunting you forever? GREAT! Please do share! Let’s do a big ol’ high five! I want to be that person you look forward to sharing your life with, my happiness is increased when I know that you are happy. Its a wonderful win-win situation.

Compassion is the key to the unhappy. Patanjali says to be merciful always. “By doing that, you will retain the peace and poise of your mind. Remember, our goal is to keep the serenity of our minds.” If you can lend a helping hand, do it. For the unhappy, I offer empathy and compassion. I want to be that sympathetic ear that you can confide in and know that it will go no further than our conversation. I take great pride in holding a safe place to confide your troubles. I hold everyone’s secrets and pain with honor; I don’t take that privilege lightly.

For the virtuous, feel delighted! I bask in the virtuous! Virtuous people are filled with wisdom and advice. Instead of feeling envy over their accomplishments, appreciate the virtuous qualities and try to cultivate them in yourself. I have learned so much about life and yoga just sitting around in the lobby of Laughing Lotus and chatting over tea…virtuous people are everywhere, you just have to take the time to listen.

Sometimes the world just gets to be too much and we find ourselves in a “bad way.” We shut down and no amount of kindheartedness can soften our thoughts. When you find someone in a “wicked” way, it is best to treat them with indifference. Don’t let them penetrate your happiness and dim your inner light. I always greet people who appear to be having a bad day with a smile and space. Tomorrow is another day, hopefully whatever woes there are today will be gone tomorrow.

Pantajali says these four keys…Friendliness, Compassion, Delight and Indifference should always be with us. “If you use the right key with the right person you will retain your peace. Nothing in the world can upset you then. Remember, our goal is to keep a serene mind.”

Adriana teaches Wednesday and Friday Sunrise Flow at 7am and Thursday Soul Sweat at 12pm. Find more information at www.spottedelephantyoga.com!