Tag Archives: yoga guru

5 Yoga Revelations from the Heart of India

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I had the good fortune to recently spend a month in the chaos and grace that is India.

We took a group of yogis on a Hanuman Adventure to Rishikesh, where we immersed in the wisdom of the land and sat with many master teachers, including Anand Mehrotra, founder of Sattva Yoga Academy.

As we journeyed to temples, meditated in caves, dipped in the Ganga, and absorbed the rich wisdom teachings, I felt an extraordinary shift in my consciousness begin to occur. The big transformation happened on the banks of the holy river. Here are some of my insights:
1 – Grace is always available.

Beneath the surface of the fluctuating mind is a constant, ever-present ocean of grace. When you stay on the surface, you only experience the chaos. You get easily agitated by the commotion, the honk of horns, the cow pooh in your path. You resist and fear the unknown, wanting to control what is happening around you. You suffer.

In every moment, no matter what is happening on the surface, you can inquire deeper. Simply drop into your breath. Notice the beauty in the reflection on the water and in the eyes of those you see. Settle into the rhythm of your heart and soften into the flow of being. Experience the miracle of life happening in each moment. Here… Grace is here.

Grace is always available. Our task is simply to make ourselves available to Grace.

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2 – Trust the natural flow.

Nature is ultra intelligent. Not only are the rivers and mountains and birds and bacteria a part of this natural intelligence, but so are you and I. The life thriving on this planet is a miracle of natural intelligence happening every single moment.

Nature’s got this.

You or I attempting to assert our “will” upon her is silly…futile. A much better choice is to harmonize with her divine flow. Don’t force yourself against the current. Surrender into the natural intelligence guiding you. Don’t try to control it, or mold it to the desire of your ego-personality. Get silent. Listen from deep within the silence. Be patient. Wait for it. When the knowing comes, trust and flow.
3 – Over-efforting is way over-rated.

In our culture, over-efforting is a way of life. Everyone is constantly trying to make something of themselves to avoid being a “nobody”. Being way too busy is normal and the status quo is constantly feeling “not enough”.

Whoa, nelly. Who agreed to that one?

Instead of encouraging us to be “somebody”, the essence of yoga really teaches us to let go into nobody — to merge our isolated, individual ego-personalities into union with pure consciousness. We understand that we are all sparks of the same brilliant light. We are all meant to shine, just as we are. We are born into this life innately enough. The journey is to remember that.

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4 – It is all one big, happy paradox.

There is one, infinite and indivisible, AND there are many. They are both true. You are spirit AND you are human. They are both true. This universe is infinite and limitless AND from the perspective of the human nervous system, time is limited. They are both true.

We can embody and experience our infinite, divine nature AND live an ordinary human life, taking care of the kids and washing the dishes.

It is not one or the other. It is both and.

Open your mind to the understanding that paradox is the nature of life. Release the rigidity of “right” and “wrong”. Get curious about what you think you know. Open yourself to all possibilities.
5 – The mind will never go away.

Even if you achieve “expert meditator status” you will still have thoughts. You will still experience the monkey mind. Fears will come and go. You will sometimes feel irritated.

Something Anand Mehrotra said resonates so deeply for me: “Enlightenment is not the end, it is the beginning of life.”

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You simply awaken to the paradox. You understand that the monkey mind is not everything. You get better at letting the thoughts pass right on through without sticking. When the ego rears its fantastical head, you ignore it and look towards grace.

As I integrate back into the rhythm of life here in Colorado, preparing for our annual yogi reUnion at Hanuman Festival this June and the launch of our new online Hanuman Academy, the course with Anand Mehrotra, I am so grateful for these revelations. Yoga is an ever-expanding journey. No matter if you are new to yoga or have practiced for decades, there is always something to understand and embody at a deeper level.

This June 15-18, 2017 in Boulder, CO we gather for Hanuman Festival, our conscious and heartfelt national gathering, to study with master teachers and grow in powerful ways. Featuring Seane Corn, Rod Stryker, Amy Ippoliti, Sianna Sharman and so many others. Experience the power of nourishing community to uplift and inspire your highest potential and wellbeing.

And next March I will be back in Rishikesh for another epic Hanuman Adventure, and until then and forever more I choose to live yoga each and every moment, on and off the mat. Jai Hanuman!

 

The post 5 Yoga Revelations from the Heart of India appeared first on Yoga Digest and then at YogaDo, 5 Yoga Revelations.

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Don’t mistake this command and improve your yoga practice

Have you ever heard this type of comment in yoga teacher training class by yoga guru? “The posture/pose doesn’t start until you get your head on your knee.

Sometimes people accept things (or say things) as gospel, automatically without question (because of some deep belief). If you really want your yoga to benefit you in the deepest way possible it is worth knowing that there are ways to fulfill the greatest intention of every single pose AND not (that’s NOT) be tied to the exact letter of the script.

So let’s see what actually happens when you follow scripted instruction too literally. What happens if you believe that “the pose doesn’t begin until your head is on your knee”

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Why Is This Command Problematic?

Well, here’s the thing.

The intention is excellent – the idea being (and let’s takes “Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee” as the example) that you really do your utmost to complete the fullest expression of the pose.

But here’s the waiver. It’s YOUR fullest expression of the pose. It’s NOT to go TO the fullest expression of the pose. There is a BIG difference. The first honors and respects what you are able to do with best alignment. The latter will probably bypass your best outcome and will probably sacrifice your benefits. It could even because you damage.

The unconscious mind loves to respond to literal instructions. So if you don’t know what to ‘track’ for, your mind is actually going to have trouble ignoring the bad input. Especially if you go on auto-pilot for a few seconds, or stop paying attention (which happens ALL the time by the way). If you follow all commands without stopping to think or pausing for understanding, your “no matter what” style could get you into trouble!

Remember yoga is asking you to be conscious, hyper conscious even, not neglectful of what’s going on.

In other words, the scripted class, which teaches to the fullest expression of the pose to everyone in the room, implies that:

It’s the destination not the journey.

But what you’re after is to enhance the journey and not the destination.

So…

If interpreted literally, because of ambiguities and even the huge potential for different interpretations across the room, there is the distinct possibility of:

* A risk of injury

* Poor alignment at the expense of “doing a pose”

* Significantly reduced stretch and pose effectiveness

See more on this topic: – http://goo.gl/5RnhRs

So What IS Supposed To Happen?

Here are some of the reasons why getting “your head on your knee” is beneficial in this pose.

  1. It encourages a strong compressionfrom your chin to your hips, through your chest and abdomen.

Compressions such as this are super for a great many reasons. There is a ton of invisible work being done for you here!

The mysterious magic below the surface includes a stimulation that increases blood flow to the intervertebral discs (yes that does keep them healthy!). Another big plus is that your visceral organs get “stimulation by massage”.

  1. You get whole-system or systemic improvements:Your glands and organs ‘tone up’, which means better hormonal regulation, which in turn means better overall function. Yes!
  2. It’s an “energetic thing”– you effectively “complete a circle of energy lines” in the body.
  3. Helps with weight lossand shape changing, especially around the waistline when a good compression is achieved (especially because of 1. And 2. And when combined with some you-beauty backbending).

All of the above requires a ROUNDING of the spine in a forward compression – the objective being to get as much of a tight curl as possible.

And therein lies my issue with the statement … “The posture/pose doesn’t start until you get your head on your knee.”

Because you now have a potential conflict (because not everyone has the same abilities or flexibilities which even differ from day to day)

Do you:

  1. Focus on “an intense active stretch caused by rounding as much as possible”?
  2. Make the most common mistake? Do you work on getting your head to the knee and sacrifice the leg and hip alignment in the process?
  3. Or do you make the other most frequent and ‘lazy’ mistake, through lack of attention to the intention of the pose, by simply diving into the pose and … hey presto, minimal or no back rounding, just “head on knee”? You’d be surprised how often this occurs.

When in doubt, your mind will try to make your body do what it THINKS it needs to do. That doesn’t mean you are doing it correctly. There’s also a tribal or group dynamic happening here. It’s just an interpretation and in the hot room of a public studio you will often default to what everyone else has learned to do. Unfortunately, strict teaching that doesn’t allow for deviation means you bypass your own safety mechanisms and you learn to neglect your body’s own voice. That’s DANGEROUS stuff.

So points 2 and 3 (the most frequent common mistakes) often happen because of the way the class is delivered. The instructions are strong but they are also not entirely clear and the unconscious mind has to make sense of them. And that produces different results for different folk.

What your aim should be is to:

  1. Have the top of your forehead touching your “knee”(the actual touchdown point varies according to personal anatomy and flexibility);
  2. Your chin tucked in so stronglythat it could even feel a little awkward to breathe (this is why you’ll probably hear the words “choked throat”. It’s important to know that with time it can even be quite easy to breathe with your chin tucked in tight.
  3. Your gaze as you ENTERS, and during the pose, should be into your heartor higher. Most people will NATURALLY hear “put your head on your knee” and as a result actually LOOK at the knee on the way in. This is the biggest mistake. You can see that “head on knee” and “tuck the chin” don’t make it easy for the mind to work out exactly what to do. You have to train yourself to trust that in tucking your chin your head will land on the knee! Your knee is in a pre-determined place. You can trust that it won’t move by the time you curl up. 😉

What do you do if your forehead doesn’t make it to your knee?

Simple.

In Standing Sep Leg Head to Knee and in Floor Head to knee what you do is … Bend the knee to meet your forehead.*

* In Standing Head to Knee, you’ll keep working on balance and keep the lifted leg straight. Don’t get head to leg contact.  Just hold off and work on best technique described above and in my resources. No prizes and no benefits for ‘cheating.’

Maybe you are a “big-boned” or plus-sized peep and even bending the knee up to meet your forehead won’t work. Look, many people do actually end up with their knee bent way up, and their chin next to the knee. But you have to try with the same intention of curling into a tight ball, tucking your chin and looking up into your heart.

Believe me, the posture HAS begun!

Sure you will have to bend the leg for contact – and some people can’t manage that – but your AIM has shifted.

As a good friend of mine has often said; “We don’t ‘do’ yoga, we ‘try’ yoga”.

Maybe one day your head will meet your knee.

More importantly, YOU will be getting more benefits than the person next to you whose mind have unconsciously reacted to the scripted command and have dived forward.

Oh their head could be on their knee … but take a look at which part of their head is contacting and check out their back – there will be less rounding due to the diving. Having a slightly rounded back and your face on the knee is doing almost nothing. It’s certainly not getting the outcome of this pose.

Poor alignment = poor benefits.

Read more to avoid injury- http://goo.gl/YHRkbt

 

Gabrielle

How Taking Small Steps and Learning Patience Helped Me to Meet My Desires

This is a true story of yoga journey of a yogi in Rishikesh, India. It is about a life experiance of a man to meet her desires.

Before I came here, to Rishikesh, a sacred ancient village at the foothills of the Himalayas, to meet my Spiritual Yoga Guru in Rishikesh, Anand Mehrotra and spend a good ammount of time with him to deepen my practice and learn all I could possibly learn from him, I had a burning question throughout my entire life.

How can you create your existence?

I tried breaking many rules, even though I am a sensitive type, and feel so scared at times even before I take a small step on my own towards happyness..
I always had a very strong passionate heart in my core that have been saving me from falling out of my path completely and leading me through the obstacles of my small identity, yet I needed guidance.
Recently, I’ve had a profound experience, when I took a radical action of moving to California, where I didn’t know anybody and nobody knew me. The experience has removed a big weight and led me to a new milestone in my own journey, and spoke to the core of who I felt I was: an “extraordinary” person, with a compassionate heart and full of power to create my own reality and escape the story I told myself or others, of a smaller version of self who was filled with fears and lot’s of selfmade problems.
I also learned that I needed a time for myself to learn, recalibrate my consciousness, heal the wounds and rest, and most of all have more patience toward myself and towards the realization of my desires. And most of all, I’ve learned that my desires are not supposed to be suppressed as I was taught and believed for many years.
Here is where the Sattva teaching and Anand’s words resonated with me in a very deep and reassuring way.
What I’ve found was that a positive change doesn’t come from self-hatred, but rather from a gentle observation ad acceptance of one self.

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Once I’ve started challenging myself in a constructive and conscious way, amazingly, life had started unfolding in a way that was supportive of my desires.

And now that concept of connection to the truth of who I really am and that we all have been destined to be happy, joyful and free, is becoming my reality.

And even though I have felt a lot of discomfort and wanted to quit everything at first, and to give up on everyone, I’ve learned slowly how to get back on and start again, from simple small steps.

As I’ve embraced my grace and the truth that I need a radical change, I’ve started feeling stronger; and now I am writing a blog, travelling, exploring and living fully, and I am not scared or tired and not holding myself back.

Now when I look back, I can’t belive how scared I was for many years to fully embrace the simple necessity of sharing, loving, hugging and laughing, and a need for simplicity in life.
I’ve always longed for an adventure, freedom and joy of existence, and tried to give that to my soul as much as I could for the past few years, but eventually I needed to find a good ammount of courage and time to let go of my past grips.
Only then I’ve reached a point where the burning question: “How can one create their existence?” appeared laud enough, and I’ve discovered that the answer was always there, sitting in my lap, I just needed to grab it!
First of all, now I tell myself that I’m never stuck in anything, and it is me who creates everything.
As I am sitting here in the Annapurna ( kitchen, in sanskrit) I realize that everything I did in the past 4 years, was conscious small steps that were to leading me to this perfect present moment at Sattva Yoga Teacher Training and these months of apprentice fearlessly.

I’ve decided a month ago I would do the leap to come and spend few months in India near my Guru, but it wasn’t a choice, it has been a slow long process that led me here.

Now here I am, proudly, fully, and even mysteriously experiencing the best time of my life.

Now I trully believe that we have a choice to be aware of the pain and do something about it, or to feel pity for ourselves and keep playing a role of the weak feeding suffering. It’s our choice to meet abbundance or not.

I’m sharing this experience with my dear friend Francesca, who came along with me from Italy, and now is sitting in the same kitchen with me and also writing her story. I am profoundly grateful for all that manifested within and we will be sharing more of our experiences as we go.
But for now, we are here in an abundance of love, laugh and joy, as it is what I am ultimately experiencing here at Sattva Retreat“.

Source from: Sattva Yoga Academy Blog. Here You can find more.

Yoga Findings in 2016 in America

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Yoga grows rapidly in the western world and practitioners and popularity of yoga increase day by day. Yoga has a power that can change your lives and a study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, 2016 Yoga in America proves a dramatic increase in the number of practitioners and size of the yoga. Yoga became very popular in India also and many people from the west come to learn yoga and meditation through spiritual yoga gurus in India. India is birth place of yoga and Rishikesh in India is yoga capital of the World. There are many best yoga schools to join yoga teacher training classes and learn yoga with best yoga institute in Rishikesh, India.

There are some findings about yoga in 2016 according to study of Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance in America.

  1. There were 4M Americans practice yoga in 2012, now it is 36.7 million.
  2. 28% of all Americans have practiced yoga at some point in their lives.
  3. 34% of Americans or 80 Million Americans will likely practice yoga at some point in the next 12 months.
  4. There are 10 million men practicing yoga in the US, up from 4 million in 2012.
  5. There are almost 14 million yoga practitioners over the age of 50 in the US.
  6. Yoga practitioners report spending over $16 billion on yoga clothing, equipment, classes and accessories in the last year, up from $10 billion in 2012.
  7. 75% of yoga practitioners also engage in other physical exercises including running, group sports, weight lifting and cycling.
  8. 37% of yoga practitioners participate in other group exercises compared to just 9% of the general population.
  9. Yoga practitioners are 20% more likely to have a positive self-image as compared to the general population.
  10. 50% of yoga practitioners say they live green, eat sustainably and donate time to their community.
  11. The top 3 reasons people do yoga are the enjoyment of yoga itself, yoga’s impact on health and yoga as a stress reliever.
  12. Only 25% of yoga practitioners have been practicing for more than 5 years.
  13. 98% of practitioners consider themselves to be beginner or intermediate level practitioners.
  14. 90% of Americans have heard of yoga, up from 70% in 2012.
  15. Yoga practitioners are twice as likely to buy organic food as are non-practitioners.
  16. 72% of yoga practitioners are women.
  17. 58% of yoga practitioners are 40+.
  18. 81% of practitioners have practiced yoga outside of the studio in the last 12 months.
  19. 24% of Americans have practiced yoga on their own in the last 12 months.
  20. 37% of practitioners have children under the age of 18 who have practiced yoga.
  21. 59% of yoga practitioners practice once a week or more.
  22. 91% of regular yoga practitioners are satisfied with their current yoga studio.
  23. 55% of yoga practitioners have never practiced yoga in a yoga studio.
  24. 65% of yoga practitioners have practiced yoga at home at least once.
  25. 33% of yoga practitioners started practicing yoga because of a friend.
  26. Only 6% of yoga practitioners started practicing yoga because of an advertisement from a yoga studio.
  27. 1 in 5 yoga practitioners state weight loss as a reason for starting to practice yoga.
  28. The top 3 factors yoga practitioners seek in a yoga studio are cost, convenience and quality of instruction.
  29. The 6 qualities of great yoga teachers (warm & friendly, clear with instructions, knowledgeable about poses, helpful, approachable, gives adjustments.
  30. Nearly 50% of yoga practitioners have left a class early. The top reason for doing so is if the class is overcrowded.
  31. Only 8% of yoga practitioners have attended a yoga retreat, 62% are interested in attending one in the future.
  32. 86% of yoga teachers are interested in attending a yoga retreat in the next 12 months, 96% of those currently in teacher training are.
  33. 19% of yoga practitioners have attended yoga events in a public place, 75% of yoga practitioners are interested in doing so in the future.
  34. Yoga Practitioners will spend $5.8B in yoga classes in 2016, up from $2.5B in 2012.
  35. Yoga Practitioners will spend $4.6B in yoga clothing, up from $2.2B in 2012.
  36. 70% of yoga practitioners report purchasing yoga clothing in the last 6 months.
  37. 57% of yoga practitioners have never read or heard of the Yoga Journal.
  38. Friends & the internet are the top common ways to obtain information about yoga outside of a yoga class.
  39. 18% of people who stopped practicing yoga mention cost as a reason for stopping.
  40. The top 5 reasons why people do not try yoga are: “not sure if it is right for me”, “don’t know how to get started” “I don’t exercise” “I feel out of place” “my body is not right for yoga”.
  41. For every existing yoga teacher out there, there are 2 more yoga teachers currently in training.
  42. 84% of yoga teachers practice yoga at least once a week.
  43. 98% of yoga teachers participate in other physical activities outside of yoga such as running, cycling or other group fitness classes.
  44. Yoga teachers are 3 times more likely to be runners as compared to the average US adult.
  45. Yoga teachers are 7 times more likely to practice martial arts than is the average US adult.
  46. Yoga teachers are twice as likely to donate their time to their community as is the average US adult. 54% of them do.
  47. 20% of yoga teachers have been practicing for 10 years or more and 57% of yoga teachers are not registered with the yoga alliance.
  48. 31% of yoga teacher trainees have been practicing yoga for less than 2 years.
  49. 55% of current yoga teachers have been teaching yoga 6 years or more.

50.  67% of yoga teachers teach 10 hours or less per week.

Sources form:- Seattle Yoga.

Sadhana and obstacles

Sadhana means to “tune in”, and is the fundamental everyday practice that we as yogi and yogini commit to reach Liberation or Mokṣha.
Each one of us, as individual and unique human beings, needs peculiar ways to adjust ourselves in behaves, ego, alignment of bodies (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) in order to permit to the energy, prana, to flow naturally and lead us to liberate, heal, let go, clean and transcend obstacles to personal evolution in the process of expanding the consciousness.
Sadhana is constituted by a sequence of yoga, meditation, and rituals, given form the yoga master, yoga teacher or Guru.
Why do we need instructions?
It is really important to find someone that can lead us in this process because it is very challenging to see oneself from “out side” and correct and see what is really needed for evolutionary work and liberation, at least at the beginning.
But it’s also true that knowing when the beginners-state ends is also quite complicate… but this is another kind of story!

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I found the best way to stay committed to Sadhana for me to work with mental tricks that mind will make to seduce me in procrastinate the practices and sabotage my personal evolution.
There are so many mind-tricks and everyday there is a new one like: “Today you are tired, maybe you need to sleep more!!” Or “You don’t need this practice, you already got it, you can go faster and skip it!” Or “Is better if you check email first, and then you can have your Sadhana”. Or “Is not good for you to make everyday the same thing, it’s boring!” or again.. “Maybe you need an energetic walk, instead of seating for thirty minutes in silence!”
The movement of the mind is endless, as endless are the stories that can make up to take us out of focus to practice. The more we have knowledge, and intelligence, the more this stories will be really well made up and appear real!
There is very hard tendency in human being’s nature to NOT change and also to keep the conservation of the present state: change requires a lot of energy, more than keeping things the way they are… or complaining because they are not changing.
So the first thing we have to be really aware of is the commitment to that change.
Are we really ready to let go all the old habits?
Are we really ready to achieve a newer and better state in life?
Once we have established this straight commitment, and are decided to change, we can deal with obstacles.
When a tendency to procrastinate comes, we can observe it as part of the Sadhana and say to it: “I know you are only a voice in my mind, and this is not real.” We can play with it! Don’t ever take that voice seriously, but instead set alarm even earlier in the morning, and make an action that is opposite to the tendency of sabotage.
One powerful key is to take actions!
Be very aware that yoga is all about practice, and any other decision for not to practice is opposite of this principle.
One other thing that can be very helpful is to share part of Sadhana with some other yogi or yogini, as practice yoga together or meditation especially at the beginning can be very helpful.
As more we go further with Sadhana, the gift we receive is that it will become part of our life, Sadhana itself will be our life and naturally flowing with all activities of the day and gradually will make deep and powerful changes.
Habits can be also being built as positive habits, so once our body will be happy with what is happening, it will be easier to maintain the new habits.
So one last suggestion is to focus on the intention that made you the first time to step on the top of you mat or sit on your meditation cushion, which will keep the willingness to proceed strong and still.
Take few moments everyday to connect to that initial motivation, and you will see the difference in the practice instantly.
May you have you an intense, passionate, and powerful Sadhana !
And…never forget to smile, and play with the obstacles: they are part of this beautiful life…
Have a uplifting and energetic day“.

With love,
Francesca

Source:- Sattva Yoga Academy blog.