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Equanimity and the Practice of Yoga
Patanjali tells us in chapter 1 of the yoga sutra that abhyasa, continuous applied effort, coupled with vairagya, the willingness to observe experience without getting caught in reactivity to it, will lead to freedom from suffering. Similarly in Buddhism, the fourth of the divine loving abodes, upeksha, translates as equanimity and is derived from the latin word aequanimitus (aequus 'equal' + animus 'mind'). The balanced heart feels pleasure without grasping and clinging, feels the unpleasant without resisting, condemning or hating and it stays open to neutral experience with p... Read More
The Healing Power of Restorative Yoga
Prior to the middle of the 20th century the word "stress" barely registered in the national vocabulary. Now, 50 years later, there's a conversation you hear so often, it's almost a chorus: You ask a friend, "How are you?" and she replies, "I'm OK, but I'm feeling a little stressed." According to the American Psychological Association's 2011 Stress in America survey "year after year Americans report extreme stress (22 percent in 2011) – on an 8, 9 or 10 point scale where 1 is little or no stress and 10 is a great deal of stress ... Read More
The Truth About Yoga
The underlying principle to all of yoga is that with the release of obstructions in the subtle body (energy body), there is greater physical, mental and spiritual well being. Yoga is not about trying to get something that we don't have, rather it is about uncovering and releasing the obstructions that we do have so that the body's innate intelligence can then reorganize itself in an optimal way. Until we begin the practice of yoga, we may not be aware that these obstructions exist because they operate beneath the level of our consciousness. Through the practice of... Read More
The "Ha" & the "Tha" of Hatha Yoga
Many forms of yoga are very active, very yang like. They stimulate the muscles to make us stronger and more flexible. They also can enhance our hearts and our immune systems. They are warming, energizing postures, which stimulate the metabolism and energize the nervous system.  Poses that increase vitality and build energy in the body promote brmhana. Other practices are more yielding, more passive, more yin like. They target our deeper connective tissues, our ligaments and our joints, our bones and the fascia within the body and they c... Read More
Sthira Sukham Asanam
Verse 2.46 of Patanjali's yoga sutra states Sthira Sukham Asanam. Sthira means steady, stable and motionless while Sukha means comfortable or ease-filled. Asanam means meditation posture derived from the root "as" which means to sit. It also means to be present in one's body, inhabiting fully in it. Here Patanjali is stating that one's posture in meditation should be steady and comfortable or filled with ease. Whereas Patanjali is mainly referring to the sitting posture, any posture can be used that brings steadiness and ease. The same principle ... Read More
The practice of ahimsa on the yoga mat
Ahimsa is derived from the sanskrit word hims which means to strike - himsa is injury or harm. The "a" in ahimsa turns himsa into its opposite therefore ahimsa means non-violence or non-harm. What does it mean to practice ahimsa on our yoga mats? For many of us it means learning to let go of the competitive ego mind. My yoga teacher, Chip Hartranft, reminds us over and over again to see the judging and competitive mind arise, see the suffering in it and let it go. Chip reminds us that each one of us is unique. The same way that ... Read More
Clarifying intentions and goals
Recently I have been spending a few moments setting an intention before beginning my daily practice. These are the qualities of the heart that I would like to manifest in my life. Part of setting an intention means listening carefully to what the deepest part of me wants - to the still silent whisper of my heart. The intention may be to be kind to myself or to open to whatever arises or simply to be more present to the flow of body sensations as they rise and fall from moment to moment. It is important to distinguish the difference between ... Read More
The meaning of asana
The word asana literally means "to take one's seat". The great first century sage, Patanjali, in his famous yoga sutra, the "declaration of independence" for all students of yoga, refers to asana as both the inner and outer posture one takes in seated meditation. At first glance this would seem at odds with our modern interpretation and understanding of asana that we are accustomed to finding in sweaty yoga studios on practically every street corner of urban America. In fact hatha yoga, the yoga of movement, did not come into existence until the beginning of the second millennium approx... Read More
The True Meaning of Yoga
The Sanskrit word "yoga" has the literal meaning to "yoke" from the root "yuj" meaning to join, to unite or to attach. As practioners of yoga we are literally yoking to our experience each time we arrive awake to this moment. The mind is habitually lost in worries about the past or fantasies about the future. It is rarely here in this moment. Our practice is to wake up to that reality. We set the intention over and over again to wake up to this moment for this is the only moment we have. Hatha yoga is a set of ... Read More
Emotional Chaos to Clarity
What makes for a successful and fulfilling life? How do we maintain a sense of balance in the face of life's challenges and difficulties? How do we maintain a sense of who we are and what we consider to be valuable and true when life gets tough? Phillip Moffitt's wonderful new book Emotional Chaos to Clarity addresses these questions with clarity and wisdom. It goes to the heart of what we all face as human beings regardless of our background, economic status, religion or belief system. This book helps you get in touch with your authentic self, the ... Read More
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