BAMBOOMOVES https://yoga-baltimore.com Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:21:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Saucha: Purification & Spring Detox https://yoga-baltimore.com/saucha-purification-spring-detox/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/saucha-purification-spring-detox/#respond Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:05:58 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5177 By: Courtnay Mecca, MS, CNS, LDN As the clocks spring us forward this first weekend of March, we invite the light back into the day. Days are longer and we may start to feel more energetic as we emerge from a long dark winter of low tapas (directly translated as ‘fiery discipline’ or as defined by…

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By: Courtnay Mecca, MS, CNS, LDN

As the clocks spring us forward this first weekend of March, we invite the light back into the day. Days are longer and we may start to feel more energetic as we emerge from a long dark winter of low tapas (directly translated as ‘fiery discipline’ or as defined by Swami Satchidananda- to burn out the impurities of the mind by accepting all of the pain that we tend to run from).

In many faiths, this time of year is also the time for a great spiritual awakening. While we may decide to give up something in order to connect to our spirituality, it can also be a good time to cleanse ourselves from things that waste our energy and pull us away from our path to Self. In yoga this is the practice of saucha (pronounced Show-cha) or purity and one of the niyamas (observences of the self) explained in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

We can work on cleansing ourselves through many avenues that help to improve our health and better align us on our yogic path. One such way can be through nutrition and choosing foods that support our body’s detoxification pathways. For example, eating cruciferous vegetables, eating plenty of fiber, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol. Another way to support this cleanse can be choosing self-care products that are non-toxic to ourselves and the environment. Sweating and movement are other great ways to purify and we can certainly get that through our yoga practice by committing to rolling out our mats every day (not to mention the connection we have with each other in the Bamboo co’OM’unity). Adding in a kriya (purification practices) to our routines such as using a neti-pot or practicing Kapalabhati breath can further help in this cleansing process.

Mentally, we can cleanse ourselves by limiting or avoiding time spent on social media and watching television versus reading a book to help strengthen the mind and uncover our true nature. We can also do a mental cleanse by committing to a daily gratitude or meditation practice.  

This little bit of extra time we have in our day now can be used to practice saucha. Ask yourself: what parts of your life do feel could use a spring cleaning? By letting go of what doesn’t serve us, we can find a clear connection to our spiritual self and perhaps lead us to something greater than ourselves; the divine.

 

References:

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/cultivate-your-connections

https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/yogi-assignment-tap-into-the-benefits-of-tapas

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Metta/Maitri (Loving-Kindness) https://yoga-baltimore.com/metta-maitri-loving-kindness/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/metta-maitri-loving-kindness/#respond Tue, 04 Feb 2020 22:39:44 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5156 By: Tara Hoxha “The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” -Mahatma Gandhi Metta (loving-kindness) is a well known practice in Buddhism in which we intentionally send forth love and compassion to our Self and to others. Historically, Metta actually dates back to some of the…

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By: Tara Hoxha

“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Metta (loving-kindness) is a well known practice in Buddhism in which we intentionally send forth love and compassion to our Self and to others. Historically, Metta actually dates back to some of the early Upanishads but in Sanskrit is known as the word ‘maitri.’ The pre-Buddha Indian sages who were practicing these virtues of loving-kindness were thought to be earlier incarnations of Buddha. Maitri, derived from the ancient root ‘Mid’ (love), can be thought of as a mother’s profound, unconditional love for her child that is cultivated towards all living beings.

 

To some, it might be hard to replicate the feeling of unconditional love towards others especially those that we may not feel on a surface level are ‘deserving’ of this love. Likewise, many people are easily able to cultivate compassion towards others but struggle to send that same loving-kindness back to themselves. Sadly, there is a huge lack of self-empathy and compassion in today’s world. With so much emphasis on social media and trying to fit into the binary mold of societal standards, we live in a judgement-based world. Most of that judgement is reserved for ourselves and if not, our actions towards others are certainly mirrored back to how we truly feel about ourselves. But if we can start to turn inwards and embody love, our true nature, then we can start to shift our mindset and realize that this is what connects us all.

 

Luckily, there are so many loving-kindness (metta) meditations and practices in which we can send love to others and to ourselves. The idea of these practices is that compassion is like a muscle that can strengthened over time. It can be as simple as repeating a mantra such as, May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease. You can repeat this mantra for yourself, for your loved ones, for a specific person or persons (maybe someone you have trouble with), and for all living beings. Repetition is key to overcoming the habitual judgmental thoughts and imprints on the mind (samskaras) so it’s recommended to do this practice every day for 40 days. Practice looking at all parts of yourself in meditation. The things that come up that you routinely suppress must be acknowledged and accepted. They must be looked at and not judged or labeled as painful or embarrassing. Embrace that self-love and compassion as if you are looking at a beloved friend and simply focus on the feelings of peace, calm and tranquility. It may not be easy and it won’t happen overnight, but you’ll start to recognize when you aren’t being so kind to yourself.

When we practice metta especially when we send love to others, something truly amazing happens. Scientifically we can reduce stress, increase brain matter, reduce chronic pain, reduce migraines, increase empathy and have a greater social connection. Think of someone that you have conflict with, dislike, or who has hurt you. I challenge you to sit in meditation and cultivate the intense feelings of love and compassion and genuinely send it to and surround that person with it. Bathe them in the pure, white light of boundless love that connects your souls. We all have the power to transform negative energy into something positive and beautiful and essentially return home to our true nature.

 

A well-known sanskrit mantra that you can chant is:

 “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu”, which means, 

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

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Sankalpa for the New Year https://yoga-baltimore.com/sankalpa-for-the-new-year/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/sankalpa-for-the-new-year/#respond Fri, 03 Jan 2020 18:20:19 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5136 By: Tara Hoxha We’re in the time of year when resolutions are typically made to better ourselves in some way. Most resolutions are quickly forgotten and fail within days, weeks or months because they come from the ego’s desire and from a place of ‘not being good enough.’ A sankalpa is an intention that comes…

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By: Tara Hoxha

We’re in the time of year when resolutions are typically made to better ourselves in some way. Most resolutions are quickly forgotten and fail within days, weeks or months because they come from the ego’s desire and from a place of ‘not being good enough.’ A sankalpa is an intention that comes from our true inner being. ‘San’ refers to our ‘highest truth’ and ‘kalpa’ means ‘vow.’ It’s an ongoing practice that comes from the idea that we already are who we need to be in order to achieve our dharma, our life’s purpose. Your sankalpa should inspire and light you up, not make you feel stressed out or anxious. 

There’s more power in statements that tell us what or who we are as opposed to what we want. Try to embody more positive statements in the present tense like: ‘I am love and abundance’ or ‘my body is healthy, strong and capable,’ rather than: ‘I want to lose weight’, ‘quit smoking’ or ‘make more money.’ Think of what you desire and be specific – what is it that you’re ultimately wanting to feel or achieve? What part of you is longing to be nourished? These questions can help you create your powerful sankalpa. Use your yoga practice to draw on it again and again, reminding yourself that it’s already within your being. The most amazing part of aligning with the intentions of our highest self is that it connects us to the collective consciousness of the Universe benefiting the good of all beings. 

Once we’re quiet enough to listen to our heart and soul’s desire and go past the ‘thinking’ mind, we’ll intrinsically know what path we need to take. The intention and determination, combined with inspired action (kriya) is when true magic happens! Remember that you are worthy of all your desires and YOU ARE ENOUGH, just as you are, right now. You are simply tapping into your Soul and becoming the best version of yourself – the real, pure love and light that’s inside of you. 

Pairing your sankalpa with your yoga practice, or even a mantra, can be a potent combination. It will bring vibrant energy to your intentions and higher self helping achieve your goals with more ease. Here are some empowering mantras that can be chanted at any time, but are especially powerful when repeated 108 times, using mala beads to keep track:

“Om Gum Ganapataye Namaha” 

Translation: Om and salutations to Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. May I be blessed with good luck, success, knowledge, and wisdom.

Lesson: Obstacles arrive on our path for us to learn, grow, and become better humans. This mantra encourages us to see the lessons behind the obstacles in our lives and promotes luck, success, knowledge, and wisdom required to overcome them.

“Om Sri Maha Lakshmyai Namah”

Translation: Om and salutations to Lakshmi, the great goddess of generosity and abundance, the bestower of supreme blessings, and the embodiment of pure beauty.

Lesson: To receive abundance one must learn to be generous first. This mantra requires us to broaden our perception to see and receive abundance and generosity beyond the material and physical realms.

“Om Tare Tuttare Ture Swaha”

Translation: Om and salutations to the goddess Tara. May you protect me from fear, danger, suffering, and illness. May you purify all the impurities of my body, speech, and mind.

Lesson: Tara embodies the spirit of Bodhisattva—the selfless and compassionate work towards removing fear and suffering from the world. When your thoughts, words, and actions align with the spirit of a Tibetan goddess, you remove fear, danger, suffering, and illness from your life as well as the lives of others.

“The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
The habit hardens into character;
So watch the thought and its ways with care, And let them spring forth from love born out of compassion for all beings.
As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.”

~ K. Sri Dhammananda

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The Practice of Aparigraha https://yoga-baltimore.com/the-practice-of-aparigraha/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/the-practice-of-aparigraha/#respond Mon, 02 Dec 2019 21:38:10 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5119 By: Tara Gallo As we approach the holiday season, we are constantly bombarded with all the ‘hot,’ new items to put on our wish list for ourselves, our friends, and our family. How many options for tablets or smart phones do we really need? All of this marketing for ‘stuff’ makes the joy of gift-giving…

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By: Tara Gallo

As we approach the holiday season, we are constantly bombarded with all the ‘hot,’ new items to put on our wish list for ourselves, our friends, and our family. How many options for tablets or smart phones do we really need? All of this marketing for ‘stuff’ makes the joy of gift-giving overwhelming and sometimes too much to handle.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, we learn about the path called raja yoga. This ‘royal’ path consists of the 8 limbs that lead us to union with the divine, essentially yoga itself. The first of the 8 limbs of yoga is called yama. The yamas are our codes of conduct with the outside world. In other words, our moral observances and restraints. Within the yamas there are five wise characteristics, but the one that stands out the most this time of year is the fifth yama known as aparigraha. Parigraha means worldly possessions so aparigraha can be defined as ‘non-possesiveness,’ ‘non-greed,’ ‘non-attachment,’ and ‘non-hoarding,’

“As we progress in the practice of aparigraha, we begin to see our subtler and more potent mental possessions.” -Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

Not only are we exposed to all of this stuff to buy, but we are now seeing more stores putting up their holiday displays well before Halloween. This added exposure to all things holiday can make us feel as though we need to start mentally preparing earlier and earlier each year. Our minds start attaching to these things, but in reality what are we really attached to? Yes, it does feel good to buy a loved one a gift, but are we getting attached to the gift itself or the feeling of the outcome? Do we want that sense of approval or praise from the recipient or are we expecting something in return? These subconscious expectations are what binds us to those ‘worldly possessions.’ The practice of aparigraha, while difficult, starts to detach ourselves from expecting something in return (physically or emotionally). In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says “Let your concern be with action alone, and never with the fruits of the action. Do not let the results of action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction.”

In addition to gift giving this time of year, hosting or planning holiday get-togethers becomes the common theme. Social media and magazine covers are graced with beautiful displays of food and matching decor. How many of us have tried to nail that ‘perfect’ recipe to impress our guests only for it to turn into a flop? Plus we worry that the table display won’t be flawless so we end up forgetting to put out the festive place cards that we spent so much time on. When we spend too much time attached to the outcome and the pressure of perfection, we never truly enjoy the essence of the work itself.

In these next few weeks, try to detach yourself from ‘things’ and the unnecessary need to accumulate ‘stuff.’ Try cultivating the practice of aparigraha through meditation, pranayama, and asana and observe what comes up for you. Maybe you’re able to let go of physical objects that weigh you down by cleaning out your house and donating them. Maybe you’re able to let go of the mental impressions that carry too much emotional baggage like the desire for praise from others or expecting something in return. Freeing yourself of these possessions allows you to really live your true, honest self and to know that you are enough just as you are.

Suggestions for practicing aparigraha in meditation, pranayama, and asana:

Meditation- focus on your third eye (6th chakra; Anja; knowing and intuitive mind). Breathe into that space and breathe out attachments to things that don’t serve you. Let go of any expectations.

Pranayama- Kapalabhati (‘skull shining’ breath) is a great technique for cleansing and purifying because it is considered a kriya. It is done with a passive inhale and a powerful exhale. Sit in a comfortable seat and start by inhaling deep and exhaling all the air out. Inhale halfway and begin short, quick, forceful exhalations by contracting the abdominal muscles. Start with 20 breaths, then 30, then 50. After the last breath inhale deeply, hold the breath and activate mula bandha. Then exhale completely. Not only is this pranayama technique beneficial for clearing the sinuses, massaging the internal organs, and oxygenating the blood, but it also helps to detoxify your mind.

Asana- what happens when we show up to our mat and our mind tells us one thing and our body the other? We may have been able to get into Utthita Parsvakonasana with our arms bound yesterday but today we physically are not able to. Be present with the breath and let go of what came before so that you can honor the reason why you came to your mat.

Wishing you all a healthy, safe and peaceful holiday season.

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A Reflection on Gratitude https://yoga-baltimore.com/a-reflection-on-gratitude/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/a-reflection-on-gratitude/#respond Mon, 04 Nov 2019 22:23:56 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5104 November Focus of the Month By: Martha Goldstein “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri-Frederic Amiel (philosopher/poet) As we approach the holiday season we prepare for the colder weather, busy work weeks and the anticipation of friends…

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November Focus of the Month

By: Martha Goldstein

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri-Frederic Amiel (philosopher/poet)

As we approach the holiday season we prepare for the colder weather, busy work weeks and the anticipation of friends and family gathering together. We can get caught up in planning, shopping and all the exciting tasks that accompany this time of year. Gratitude and the practice of being grateful can get lost. It’s a hectic time and it’s too easy to lose our connection to ourselves and feel ungrounded so this November we are asking that you take the time to ‘freshen up’ your thankfulness.

Being thankful is part of our natural state. The true self is always grateful. Gratitude creates an environment of awareness; awareness of ourselves, of those around us and of course awareness of all of our blessings. It is a beacon of light that guides us inward to the place where all truth and love originates. Gratitude expands all that it touches and can help to dissolve resistance and obstacles in our daily lives. It also opens up our perspective, removes blockages that prevent us from feeling joyful, and reminds us to pause. Plus the act of being grateful is good for your health. Oh yes…this is a scientific fact! Scientists who study positive psychology found that even a small one time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10% increase in overall happiness and a 35% decrease in depressive symptoms.

How then can we practice and cultivate our gratitude? Here are some simple ideas from my heart to yours…

1. Meditation is a perfect step toward opening your energy line to a more grateful  daily consciousness.  Even just a few minutes a day can change things, alter your equilibrium, and can spark magic. 

2. Taking a few moments at the end or beginning of each day to reflect on those things in your life that you are thankful for.  Perhaps even begin a gratitude journal where you can document even the smallest moments of gratitude. The key here is taking the time, slowing down to notice new and unexpected things. This type of journaling works because it can eventually change the way we perceive people and situations around us by adjusting what we focus on.  And it can be anything from that neighbor who always greets you with a huge smile and a wave to the sweet little dog you pass each day as you walk to Yoga class.

3. Some easy Sanskrit Mantras that you can use in conjunction with your meditation practice can also help us to develop gratitude. Beginning by bringing focus to your breathing and allowing the breath to get longer.  After at least ten distinct breaths take a deep inhale and then repeat any of the three outloud or to yourself as you exhale. You can use the mantra in Sanskrit or if you’re more comfortable just repeat the translation in English. You can continue for a minimum of ten breaths again or as long as you’d like. Repetition of a positive mantra can only attract more positivity into your life. Because you are declaring to the Universe that this IS what you are,  this IS what you’re feeling.  And so it will be. 

–       Kritajna Hum = I AM gratitude ; Being connected with all things. I am you, you are me. The deeper we dare to go within the more we connect with the true self. The grateful self.

–       Dhanya Vad = I FEEL gratitude; When we are grateful we find grace. Creating space for gratefulness to expand in our hearts.  I am one with gratitude.

–       Samprati Hum = This present moment is my true self; Being here now, being grateful now. Our presence is our power. Gratitude creates presence in the moment. 

4. The Act of Gratitude – We can reflect all we want but when we put our gratitude into action we develop an entirely new level of understanding within ourselves and of others. It can be simple acts of gratitude. Whatever makes sense for you.  Even acknowledging a stranger who’s been kind can affect more than just you and that stranger.

Don’t ever be afraid to express your gratitude. Remember being grateful is your true Self. Being joyful and open is your true Self. Enjoying a sense of abundance and appreciation of yourself and others is a beautiful thing. Spread the importance of experiencing and expressing thankfulness and gratitude. Accept the small pleasures into your being and it will affect someone else, and so on. We are all connected. We are all one. And for that I’m grateful.

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Lila: Divine Play https://yoga-baltimore.com/lila-divine-play/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/lila-divine-play/#respond Tue, 01 Oct 2019 17:00:28 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5092 By: Tina Crandell The Sanskrit word, lila (pronounced “lee-lah”), means play. More specifically, divine play, or the play of the gods. While the term is much richer than our word, certain sentiments are shared: that play is something spontaneous, inspired, and magical.  Children are our best teachers when it comes to play as they are instinctively curious, creative, and joyful.…

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By: Tina Crandell

The Sanskrit word, lila (pronounced “lee-lah”), means play. More specifically, divine play, or the play of the gods. While the term is much richer than our word, certain sentiments are shared: that play is something spontaneous, inspired, and magical. 

Children are our best teachers when it comes to play as they are instinctively curious, creative, and joyful. They have a remarkable spirit and joy for the moment. When I teach yoga to children, I marvel at how they are unburdened by self-consciousness in movement. They are not influenced by pre-conditioned notions of themselves or others. The essence of lila is brilliantly weaved into the fabric of their very being and naturally manifests itself in everything they do. 

Children make great yoga teachers. This month try reconnecting to your inner-child and practice with a child-like curiosity. Let go of inhibitions and try not take yourself too seriously. By doing so you invite more spontaneity, creativity, and magic into your practice. By letting go of judgment and perfection you make space for more joy, freedom, and simplicity in movement and the moment. 

If you have children, practice yoga with them. Allow them to inspire you while you gift them the seeds that will bloom into a life-long love of yoga.

In the spirit of lila, every Sunday in October BambooMoves Baltimore will host a Kids Yoga Series (ages 4-7 years old). Drop your little yogis off for an hour of laughter and play!

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The Yoga of Action https://yoga-baltimore.com/the-yoga-of-action/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/the-yoga-of-action/#respond Tue, 03 Sep 2019 16:18:59 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5080 By: Monica Ott “The power of action shakes off the inertia blanketing our soul. It awakens our dormant forces of will and knowledge and infuses us with self-trust and self-confidence. In the light of this active will and knowledge we are able to see ourselves, discover our own strength, and awaken and deploy our dormant forces.…

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By: Monica Ott

“The power of action shakes off the inertia blanketing our soul. It awakens our dormant forces of will and knowledge and infuses us with self-trust and self-confidence. In the light of this active will and knowledge we are able to see ourselves, discover our own strength, and awaken and deploy our dormant forces. Kriya shakti, our intrinsic power of action, is the hallmark of yoga.” -Pandit Rajamani (The Practice of the Yoga Sutra)

As 2020 approaches, we are living in the best of times and the worst of times: everything at our fingertips, technology like never before, people allowed to be who they are, inclusiveness. But, we also have a tumultuous political climate, mass shootings every other week, dehumanization of people who are different, separateness. Was this the future any of us had imagined? How do we cope with the duality of the world? But really, the bigger question remains: How do we find peace and (dare I say it) happiness within the world we’re living in?

As a yogi, I’ve always felt like I’ve had a leg up and a handle on navigating through the swirling storms of this changing world, but lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve lost my compass. Schedules get busier and with that there’s always something to do or somewhere to be. Added to that, the blazing fire of summer burns us all out, including our inner fire, our agni, our lust for life. As a kid, summer was a time of playfulness and rest, but now I find myself longing for the steady earthiness of fall. I’ve realized very recently the thing that anchors me is having a disciplined practice-and if taken away my mind becomes so easily uneasy. I don’t just mean asana (the physical practice), rather the deep connection to the core of yoga: Kriya Yoga.

To put it simply, kriya yoga is ‘the yoga of action.’ It also means ‘ability to act’ and ‘ability to move.’ It is comprised of the last 3 niyamas (moral observances) in Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras:Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara pranidhana. In essence, the three niyamas practiced together can lead us to the highest form of enlightenment, Samadhi. These three practices can seem easy enough, but really the hardest part is acquiring the will to begin and having the discipline to stick with it.

Tapas means ‘heat, radiant fire.’ It is part of the practice that ignites our inner fire and brings us vitality. Think of any activity in your life that makes you feel alive, that inspires the desire to create; something that awakens the dormant spontaneity of childhood. That is tapas. For me, it’s making music. It’s the creative juices that flow when I give myself the time and permission to sit down and write a song or the rush of excitement I feel when I perform in front of a crowd. When I wander off the path is when I lose a part of ME and then I wonder how I strayed so far. Why do we create roadblocks for ourselves in the first place?

That brings us to Svadhyaya. Sva means ‘the power of one’s self.’ Adhyaya means ‘study, contemplate, examine’ so Svadhyaya means ‘to study and examine ourselves.’ This self-reflection refers to both our internal and external states of being: the health of our body, the quality of our mind, our emotions, actions & reactions to life’s moments. This may be the hardest task of all because we are so used to filling up our day with stuff that we never give ourselves a moment of pause. Maybe it’s because we feel guilty or selfish that we’re taking time away from other things or from family, or maybe it’s because we’re fearful of seeing what’s really going on inside. One of the best ways to slow down from the whirlwind of life is through meditation. More specifically, one-pointed focus or japa (repetition of mantras) can start to quiet the mind and provide a clearer lens into how we’re feeling. It can illuminate what is contributing to the way we’re feeling, the things and people we surround ourselves with and the actions that we take in relation to them. We start to gain a discernment for how to sift through what we can free ourselves from and what actions we can take that will help us get to where we want to go.

In order to make the shift back to our intended path, we must have Ishvara pranidhana: trustful surrender to God. “Ishvara is utterly different from the concept of God in the various religious traditions. In yoga, God is not an entity separate from us and residing outside of us. God is not a person but an ever-present guiding intelligence.”1 This divine intelligence is what appears when we listen. This is what fuels our actions and brings us outside of the separateness that our worldly experiences constantly put us in. We start to trust ourselves because we’re no longer driven by rewards, or fruits of actions. We’re guided by grace; we’re guided by love. We become so grateful for this precious human life and perhaps begin to realize the things that we’re capable of changing in our life and the lives of those around us. We become better equipped to handle the mental challenges that the forces outside of ourselves bring about. The practice of kriya yoga helps us to stand in our true nature, to shine in our inner light, and to project that joy unto all beings. Trust the process and become the practice.

Practice:
Tapas: Start doing something that creates a spark inside of you. Even asana and pranayama (breath work) can build heat and transform your energy into luminosity. Maybe it’s an activity that you’ve put off because life has gotten in the way. Rediscover it and stick with it.

Svadhyaya: Start a japa practice whether you use mala beads and chant a mantra (it could be as simple as ‘Om’) 108 times or take 5-10 mins of walking, seated, or supine meditation focusing on a simple mantra. Chant something that you want to bring more of into your life.

Ishvara pranidhana: Have faith that there’s something beyond the body and mind. Read ancient scriptures like the Vedas, Upanishads, or the Yoga Sutras. Love unconditionally.

1. pg. 14 The Practice of the Yoga Sutra Sadhana Pada by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

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Honoring the Language of Yoga https://yoga-baltimore.com/honoring-the-language-of-yoga/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/honoring-the-language-of-yoga/#respond Mon, 08 Jul 2019 16:51:03 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5065 However, this language is not for others, it is for you. Beyond uniting you with a global community of practitioners, or with your own immediate community, it will bring you closer to an intuitive understanding of the Yoga practice and its teachings.

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by Chef Nik

Just as every classically trained chef ‘speaks’ the language of Escoffier and follows Le Guide Culinaire, every yogi needs to ‘speak’ the language of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Sanskrit is the gatekeeper of Yoga and you must make friends with it to be allowed into the inner sanctum. While adopting the techniques and terminology of another Western tradition often goes unquestioned and may even seem glamorous (like speaking culinary French), there can be a great deal of initial resistance to the ancient language of yoga and the Eastern traditions. After all, Sanskrit is not easy, it is often referred to as a ‘dead’ language, and others are not impressed by your knowledge of it. However, this language is not for others, it is for you. Beyond uniting you with a global community of practitioners, or with your own immediate community, it will bring you closer to an intuitive understanding of the Yoga practice and its teachings. 

After you have mastered the Sanskrit names of yoga poses, there is something to be said about being able to go anywhere in the world and practice yoga with a new teacher without skipping a beat. There is a great deal of gratification. You know what pose they are calling out and you hop to it. In addition to being part of the practice, you belong to this larger linguistic community, and who doesn’t like to belong? However, that ‘asana’ knowledge and that feeling of gratification, or of belonging, merely scrape the surface of why the language of yoga is so important. It goes much deeper than that.

The first yoga sutra says “Atha yoga anushasanam.” The translation of this verse commonly goes like this: ‘Atha’ means ‘Now’, ‘yoga’ is referring to ‘yoga’, and ‘anushasanam’ means ‘discipline’; so the translators like to tell us the meaning of the verse is: “Now, the discipline of yoga”. In case you picked up the Yoga Sutras and expected to be reading something else, here is a confirmation that the contents will match the cover. Is it possible that a tradition so deep and meaningful, with such carefully crafted and deep verses begins its teachings with a verse akin to ‘Welcome to Biology 101”? 

I poke fun at that common mis-translation, because there is nothing in my practice of yoga (or in the next Sutras) to suggest that the proper meaning resides in such a translation or in that syntax. Yes, the trans-literation may be correct, but the meaning behind this verse is hardly conveyed. My practice has taught me not to dwell on the translation, but rather to inhabit the original verse, because my inner true Self intuitively responds to it. Using the language of Yoga in the form of sutras, mantras, and asana will reveal to you the depth of the practice. If you must translate it, reach for the core meaning and concise form of the verse, just like the original Sanskrit does. It will reveal itself to you, as long as you keep practicing. So, here are the first three yoga sutras and their meanings, as my yoga practice and the practice of Sanskrit have revealed them to me: “Atha yoga anushasanam,”(I-1). Yoga is the discipline of being present. “Yogaha chitta vritti nirodhah,” (I-2). Yoga will free your mind. “Tada drashtuh swarupe wasthanam”(I-3). So that you may see with the eyes of the Soul. 

I encourage you to honor the tradition and practice Yoga together with Sanskrit, whether it be by learning the names of the poses, chanting mantras, or reading the Sutras. The linguistic essence of Yoga will unite you with its tradition, history and community, and allow for a deeper connection with the practice and its core teachings. 

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The Power of ‘OM’ https://yoga-baltimore.com/the-meaning-of-om/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/the-meaning-of-om/#respond Thu, 06 Jun 2019 19:49:26 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5049 Barriers dissolve and we feel this deep sense of oneness. Chanting OM both internally or externally unifies us as a whole and reminds us that we’re not alone.

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By: Stephanie Miller

“Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.” When I Om, I feel that I’m able to pray and meditate at the same time.” -Reverend Diane Robinson

It is said in Hindu mythology Brahma (the creator) had a thought, “I am one, but may I become many?”  This thought created a vibration that developed into a sound.  The sound was OM.  From this sound everything in the universe was created.  This sound is also called pranava: that which moves through the breath and sustains life.  

The Bible begins its description of Creation with the sentence, “God’s breath moved upon the waters.”  Prana is God’s breath. This exchange is so beautiful; through Prana (God’s breath), we chant to creation and to life (past, present, and future).  Barriers dissolve and we feel this deep sense of oneness.  Chanting OM both internally or externally unifies us as a whole and reminds us that we’re not alone. 

OM is our direct link to the eternal, all pervading energy within and all around us.  We become both a participant in and a recipient of divine energy. 

OM embodies three main characteristics; creation, preservation, and liberation. It has four syllables and is pronounced Ahhh-Uuuuu-Mmmm.  The Ahh sound connects us to our physical body and the world around us.  It is our material identity and considered the waking state.  The Uuu sound brings us into our subtle energy body.  This is known as the dreaming state.  The Mmm sound brings us beyond mind, energy, form, and identity.  It brings us to the causal realm or sleeping state.   The final sound is silent.  It feels like time and space just stop.  This is where we absorb the vibration of the sound, digest it’s healing, and feel a connection to the entire universe.  

While chanting A-U-M feel the ‘Ahh’ sound at the solar plexus sending energy up, feel the ‘uuu’ sound resonating in your chest and moving up into your throat, feel the ‘Mmm’ sound at the lips activating energy in the frontal lobe.  Chanting OM has profound affects on the physical body as well.  We trick the body into exhaling longer (creating more space for a deeper inhale).  The vibration also calms the nervous system relieving feelings of anxiousness and stress. When we calm the body, we create space in the mind and can listen more closely to the ‘unstruck’ sound (the purity and silence) of the heart. This state of pure consciousness reminds us of who we truly are.


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Dharma: Living Your Heart’s Calling https://yoga-baltimore.com/dharma-living-your-hearts-calling/ https://yoga-baltimore.com/dharma-living-your-hearts-calling/#respond Fri, 03 May 2019 17:21:00 +0000 https://yoga-baltimore.com/?p=5036 only we are able to live our own heart's true calling. We must live our dharma full-out and let go of the fruits of our actions. When our minds focus on the outcome of our efforts, we begin to falsely identify ourselves with success, fame, fortune, etc. Our ego and self-worth become attached to these efforts, and our choices become a matter of life or death. Instead, Krishna says to live your dharma with pure love and devotion; when we surrender our need for results, we feel gratitude for whatever happens.

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By: Shayna Freedman

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”― Marianne Williamson


In ‘The Bhagavad Gita’, Arjuna, a fierce warrior about to go into battle and reclaim a kingdom stolen by way of many injustices, becomes overwhelmed by the responsibility of the task at hand. Overcome with hopelessness, Arjuna asks his charioteer, Krishna: “Why must I engage in this terrible war? What will be the consequences of the pain I will cause in this fight? What if I die? What is the meaning of all of this?”

The conversation that follows between Arjuna and Krishna is one of vulnerability and acceptance, as Arjuna slowly begins to understand the laws of the universe and his own innate role within it. Krishna explains that all things in the world carry their own unique potential, and it is their dharma (their individual mission or purpose) to fulfill it. Okay, Krishna, that sounds wonderful, but how do we do that?!

Krishna shares that we must embrace our dharma; only we are able to live our own heart’s true calling. We must live our dharma full-out and let go of the fruits of our actions. When our minds focus on the outcome of our efforts, we begin to falsely identify ourselves with success, fame, fortune, etc. Our ego and self-worth become attached to these efforts, and our choices become a matter of life or death. Instead, Krishna says to live your dharma with pure love and devotion; when we surrender our need for results, we feel gratitude for whatever happens.

We can all learn from Arjuna’s struggle and the wisdom of Krishna as we each embark on our own paths. The ‘Bhagavad Gita’ reminds us that we each are faced with our own internal and external battles that make us question our life’s purpose. As one of my teachers once said, it is not our duty to question our dharma, but instead it is our duty to ask: What I am going to do with it? How will I engage with my potential and share it with the world? How will I move out of my own illusions and move into my own divinity?

Krishna imparts that fighting for a noble cause is the highest act of honor for the dharma of a Warrior, and it is Arjuna’s destiny. Krishna states it is better to live one’s own dharma poorly than another person’s dharma well; it is our responsibility to our individual happiness to live our dharma, and it is our greatest contribution to the world to actively play a part offering our finest skills and talents. Staying on course requires hard work and dedication, however when we surrender the need for results, we are able to go along for and enjoy the ride. After all, the act of pursuing and sharing our dharma is a gift in itself!

Like Arjuna, we each have a potential that lies within us. We all must take ownership of the choices we make in pursuit of aligning with our highest Self, and stepping into that vulnerability is scary. Like Arjuna, we all have insecurities, doubts, worries, and are frightened of our potential. But we are also like Krishna ― all-knowing, divine, and full of devotion. When we begin to see ourselves as Krishna would, we are able to live our potential with grace and love. Once we understand we are part of the universe’s creation and the role we play within it, living our dharma becomes an act of personal freedom and celebration. 

Practice: Meditation to Bring Awareness to Your Dharma 
Dharma is not your career, although your career may be a way in which your dharma manifests. Dharma is not what you do, but how you optimize your potential to engage with and contribute to the world’s Peace, Love, Joy, Truth, and Light. The below meditation will guide your awareness to your own innate gifts and joy, and how you may share them. 

Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and draw your awareness to the heart space. Let each inhale draw you deeper inside your heart, and invite the wisdom within to be revealed with each exhale. Take time to quiet the mind so the heart may speak. As you breathe, reflect on the below.  What brings you joy? Remember the experiences that make your heart feel open, radiant, and alive. 

•What takes you away from your bliss? Look at the thoughts, behaviors, activities, and people in your life that build toxic or negative energy.
•What are your unique talents? What makes you feel special?

•Look at the bigger picture of your life events. Of the experiences that have brought you the most fulfillment, see where the similarities lie. 
•How do you like to engage with the world? Do you like to bring people together? Make the show run behind the scenes? Be in the limelight? Fight for causes? Offer services and tools to help others?
•Who are your heroes and role models? Identify the qualities they embody. How could you begin to manifest these traits in your day-to-day living?


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