Friday, December 30, 2016

Reflections on Ayurveda and Samkhya - Question 3

The Samkhya view of the world forms the basis of Ayurveda and creates a totally different approach to health than we have in the West. Some of the main foundations of the Ayurvedic approach to health which stem from Samkhya philosophy are:

a) If we have always existed and will continue to exist in some form, then life and death do not have the same finite and tragic sense often given in our culture.

b) From the Samkhya perspective, nature was formed from consciousness or spirit; therefore, spirit is primary and nature is secondary. This means that the body is a secondary aspect of our
being and that the health of the spirit is primary.

c) Body, mind, and spirit are aspects of the unfolding universe and therefore approaches to health must integrate all three.

How do these concepts fit into your current practice and/or teaching of Yoga as well as
any other healing practice you are involved with? What possibilities do they offer for
changing mainstream approaches to health in our culture?

a) If we have always existed and will continue to exist in some form, then life and death do not have the same finite and tragic sense often given in our culture.

I have talked about this exact concept in my lunar hatha class that focuses on the nityas.  I introduce this concept as good news. If  we are always here in some form and always will be here and then we are not separate from anything or anyone.

I am reminded of the mantra So ham which I first learned meant "I am all that is."  I am all that is, I am all that was, I am all that will be.  I am timeless.

It  we will always exist in some form we can adopt a different perspective on death and grief.  My grandaunt just died and I experienced great grief.  But did she die or did she just into another form. I don't need to grieve her loss I can celebrate her transformation.

Einstein says matter is neither created or destroyed. Knowing the timelessness and innerconnectedness of our nature puts me at ease with my grandaunt and all my other perceived losses.

 This concept also reinforces for me the power of the present moment. Being in the present moment is of the out most importance because that is all that we really have.  But I also must affirm the reality of the present moment as all that we have is not an excuse to do nothing or be hopeless.  It is a wake up call to be alive and pay attention.

b) From the Samkhya perspective, nature was formed from consciousness or spirit; therefore, spirit is primary and nature is secondary. This means that the body is a secondary aspect of our being and that the health of the spirit is primary.

Spirit is who we are. We must take care of and nourish the spirit through spiritual practices. Body is important but it isn't the most important.  We must not forget about the spirit because we are obsessed with the body.  The body is just the box, the wrapping paper, the box and the wrapping paper are not the gift.

c) Body, mind and spirit are aspects of the unfolding universe and therefore approaches to health must integrate all three.

I believe in integration of mind, body and wholeheartedly this is why I use yoga nidra, intention and mudra in all my yoga classes.  Western medicine treats the body and appeals to the mind - I am giving you "pill, surgery, exercise" this for this condition, I am operating on this organ because of this condition. The problem is Western Medicine doesn't address the spirit.  There is no talk of connection or oneness. Maybe the illness, disease that is manifesting is not the cause but the symptom.  Western Medicine treats symptom after symptom with no concern for the root problem.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Unadorned Thread - Sutras 1.1 - 1.4 - What's it all about Patanjali?

Question: Read the translations and commentaries for Sutras I.1 – I.4 and answer the following
- What is your understanding of the meaning and purpose of the first four Sutras?
- Did this assignment confirm or change ideas and beliefs held previously?
- Which commentary or commentaries did you find most enlightening and helpful?

My first encounter with the Yoga Sutras was in a two weekend course with Srivatsa Ramaswami at LMU in the Yoga Philosophy Department. During the course we chanted through the Yoga Sutras in Sanskrit.  We didn't translate anything. We just chanted and worked on the pronunciation.  I love that I had that experience of chanting the Sutras before knowing what they meant or what I think they mean because it showed me how the sound and vibrations of the Sutras is so paramount. Experiencing the Sutras as they are in Sanskrit is an extremely powerful experience.  Although I appreciate very much the ideas of the the Unadorned Thread (putting different translations next to each other) for me the Sutras are not the Sutras until they are chanted in their language.  When doing this assignment I chanted the Sanskrit before reading the individual Sutra to put me into the experience.

The Sutra translation I relate to the most is not in the book The Unadorned Thread it is in the The Secret Power of Yoga.  I want to start there because that's what I relate to the most. Nischala Joy Devi is my teacher and I respect her so much and have learned so much from her I can't begin to write about the Sutras without mentioning her translations/interpretations.

Here is her take on Yoga Sutras 1.1-1.4

With humility (an open heart and mind), we embrace the sacred study of yoga.
Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart
United in the heart, consciousness is steadies, then we abide in our true nature-joy
At other times, we identify with the rays of consciousness, which fluctuate and encourage our perceived suffering

Why do I relate to it?  There is not gender, the language is poetic and it is heart centered.


1) GENDER NEUTRAL (I am a girl - when you use all masculine pronouns you lock me out of the experience)
2) POSITIVE - I don't like restrictive words, I was taught the mind doesn't read NOT
3) POETIC - beautiful wording is just plain beautiful
4) EMOTION - I want to feel the Sutra in my heart and gut.  I don't only live in the mind.

In my opinion, the first four Sutras are an the introduction to the text and going to happen in it.

1.1) There is this thing called Yoga and we are going to study it RIGHT NOW! BUCKLE UP!
1.2) This is a definition of Yoga . . . cessation, stilling of mind/heart - heart/mind, blah, blah, blah
1.3) When we are in the Yogic State we are blissful, joyful and experience our true nature
1.4) When we leave the yogic state we suffer

Looking into The Unadorned Thread

I enjoy translations here by Arya, Jnaneshvara, and Shearer

"Now, at this point of transition from previous involvements, teaching (or imparting) the discipline of yoga (begins)."

- I appreciate the idea that we are in a point of transition from previous involvements.  Arya is setting up a context. You were doing something before, you will do something after, but right NOW the teaching of the disciple of yoga begins.
- I relate to yoga as a discipline. I like that the word "discipline" is there right from the start to tell everyone something serious is about to happen and you need to be disciplined to participate.

"Now, after having done prior preparation through life and other practices, the study and practice of Yoga begins."

- I again enjoy the idea of using Now to show we are in an exact moment.
- I am intrigued that you have to have done prior preparation before - life and other practices
- I like that Yoga has a capital Y
- I believe strongly in the idea that yoga is both a study and a practice

"And now the teaching on yoga begins"

- I appreciate the simple language
- The now is still there which I relate to.
- It's easy to grasp what the translator is saying

I am drawn to the translations by Arya Jnaeshvara, Prabhavananda, and Shearer

"Yoga is the cessation of the waves (arising in) (or) activities of the mind-stuff

- I like that he uses a lot of parantheses.  It means to me that he is open to many possibilities.  The parantheses makes it feel less dogmatic. It is almost as if he is admitting I am a translator and anything I say it open to interpretation
- The water imagery in the waves it's poetic

"Yoga is the control (nirodhah, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field.

- It's not poetic.  It is in fact a little awkward.  But I like how all encompassing it is.
- I am not so crazy about the word control because it seems very patriarchal

"Yoga is the control of thought-waves in the mind"

- Again, I don't like the word control but I like the idea and imagery of the thought-waves in the mind
- I like that it is simple to read because these our Sutras not discourses.  And Sutras are supposed to be short.

"Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence"

- I am much more comfortable with the word settling over control
- I like the simplicity of the translation it reads like a haiku
- The translation is poetic yet accessible


My favorites here are Jnaneshvara and Shearer.  Many of the translations like Satchidananda, Taimni, Arya and Bailey use the masculine words here like "his" own true nature, "himself", which I don't relate to because I am not a man.

"Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-Realization"

- I like that it is gender neutral although it feels a little clunky
- I like the idea of Self-Realization in the definition

"When the mind has settled, we are established in our essential nature, which is unbound consciousness."

- I am over the top in love with this translation
- It's gender neutral but uses 2nd person plural WE which is so beautiful because "we" emphasizes the inter-connectedness of all beings.
- "Our" is also an inclusive word that adds to the beauty of this translation
- Unbound consciousness is an amazing phrase - it's expansive language. To think that our essential nature is unbound consciousness gives me chills.


Because of the masculine emphasis of some of the translations completely turn me off, my favorite translations are Jnaneshvara and Shearer. I especially don't relate to the word conformity used in the Feurstein and Houston translation.

"At other times, when one is not in Self-realization, the Seer appears to take on the form of the modifications of the mind field, taking on the identity of those thought patterns.

- It's a little clunky but I appreciate the concepts of Self-realization and the Seer.

"Our essential nature is usually overshadowed by the activity of the mind"

- Again, poetic language, inclusive gender neutral pronoun, easy to understand yet still profound.

The Yoga Sutras are becoming one of my most favorite texts. I feel as if all the answers to life's questions are in the Sutras.  I hope to make a series art pieces based on the Sutras.



Work Stress - Working with Jon Kabat Zinn's Hints and Suggestions

Here is my progress with working with Zinn's suggestions for work stress.

1.  When you wake up take a few quiet moments to affirm that you are choosing to go to work today.  If you can, briefly review what you think you will be doing, and remind yourself that it may or may not happen that way.

This one is very hard for me. I have tried it and I will keep trying it but I am resisting it a lot.

2. Bring awareness to the whole process of preparing to go to work.  This might include showering, dressing, eating and relating to the people you live with.  Tune in to your breathing and your body for time to time.

I have been working on this - making a ritual of my morning routine. Showering, Making Tea are big parts of it. I would like to add in Sun Salutations but I haven't been successful at that.  I do sometimes put my legs up the wall while the tea is boiling.

3. When leaving the house, don't say goodbye mechanically to people.  Make eye contact with them, touch them, really be "in" those moments, slowing them down just a but.  If you leave before other people wake up, you might try writing them a brief note to say good morning and express your feelings toward them.

My husband is always sleeping when I go to work.  I have been giving him a kiss on the check.  I haven't written a note yet.  I will try that soon.

4. . . . As best you can leave your cell phone alone.  Try smiling inwardly.  If driving, take a moment or two to come to your breathing before you start the car. Remind yourself that you are about to drive off to work now. Some days, try to drive without the radio on. Just drive and be yourself, moment by moment. Leave your cell phone alone. When you park, take a moment or two to just sit and breathe before you leave the car. Walk in work mindfully. Breathe. If your face is already tense and grim, try smiling, or try a half smile.

The cell phone is very hard to leave a lone because I am addicted to it but I have done it several times since working with this exercise.

I like breathing in the car before I get out.  I enjoy smiling and walking mindful to the office.

5. At work, take a moment from time to time to monitor your bodily sensations.  Is there tension in your shoulders, face, hands or back? How are you sitting or standing this moment? what is your body language saying? Consciously let go of any tension as best you can as you exhale and shift your posture to one that expresses balance, dignity and alertness.

My posture seems to be very bad and worsens as the day goes on.

I have a lot of knee and foot pain lately.  But I will keep working on this.

6. When you find yourself walking at work, take the edge off it. walk mindfully. Don't rush unless you have to.  If you have to, know that you are rushing. Rush mindfully.

I have really enjoyed walking or riding my bike mindfully.  I do this when I go from the office to the stage to the office or the office to the stage.  This has been a wonderful addition to my routine.

7. Try doing one thing at a time and giving it the full attention that it deserves for as long as it deserves, without distracting yourself or allowing yourself to be distracted, such as by incoming emails and texts. Overall, the evidence from studies shows that not only does multitasking not work, it degrades performance on every task you try to juggle.

This is shocking for me and hard to do.  I have spent most of my life priding myself in my ability to multi task, but I am working on this and will continue to work on this.

8. Take frequent breaks if you can and use them to truly relax and renew. Instead of drinking coffee or smoking a cigarette, try going outside the building for three minutes and walking or standing and breathing. Or do neck and shoulder rolls at your desk. Or shut your office door if you can and sit quietly for five minutes or so, following your breathing.

I have been doing neck and shoulder rolls from time to time at work.  Sometimes I use my yoga blocks and go into a restorative position on do leg stretches with the strap.  I haven't remember to go outside.  But I will keep working on this,

9. Spend your breaks and lunchtime with people you feel comfortable with.  Otherwise, maybe it would be better for you to be alone.  Changing your environment at lunch can be helpful/ Chose to eat one or two lunches a week in silence, mindfully.

I have been deliberately now eating at my desk and taking my lunch into the conference room and eating sometimes by myself or sometimes with Keith and Josh.  I really like this!!!

10. Alternatively, don't eat lunch.  Go out and exercise, every day if you can, or a few says a week.  exercise is a great way of reducing stress. Your ability to do this will depend on how much flexibility you have in your job.  If you can do it, it is a wonderful way of clearing the mind, reducing your tension, and starting the afternoon refreshed and with a lot of energy.  Many workplaces now have wellness centers that provide organized employee exercise programs both at lunchtime and before and after work.  If you have the opportunity to exercise at work, take it! But remember, an exercise program takes the same kind of commitment that the formal meditation takes. And when you do it, do it mindfully. That changes everything.

I have gone to the 11am yoga class when I can sneak away instead of eating lunch.  I love doing this but sometimes I get worried because I am on call for work.  I don't want to let anyone down.  I like doing this when I can chose the appropriate day and know that I am not taking advantage of my employees.

11. Try to stop for one minute every hour and become aware of your breathing. We waste far more time than this daydreaming at work.  Use these mini meditations to tune in to the present and just be.  Use them as moments in which to regroup and recoup. All it takes is remembering to do it.  This one is not easy, since we so easily get carried away by the momentum of all the doing.

I can't seem to remember to do this every hour. I will keep working on this.

12. Use everyday cues in your environment as reminders to center yourself and relax-the telephone ringing, downtime before a meeting convenes, waiting for someone to finish, something before you can start in on it. Instead of relaxing by "spacing out" relax by tuning in.

I have done restorative yoga or breathwork or taken a pause or a walk when waiting on people.  In TV there can be a lot of waiting.  I have been working on this.

13. Be mindful of your communication with people during the workday.  Are they satisfying? Are some problematic? Think about how you might improve them.  Be aware of people who tend to relate to you in a passive or hostile mode.  Think about how you might approach them more effectively. Try seeing your fellow employee with eyes of wholeness. Think about how you might be more sensitive to their feelings and needs. How might you help others at work by being more mindful and more heartful? How might awareness of tone of voice and body language, your own and that of others, help you when communicating.

I am working on mending communication with a co worker and seeing the world more from her point of view.  I am been leading our conversations with empathy and compassion for the hard work she does,

I still am not clear on my body language.  I am trying to be more communicative with lighting department by texting them what is coming up.

I am trying to sincerely thank everyone and also let people go when the work is done.

14. At the end of the day, review what you have accomplished and make a list of what needs to be done tomorrow. Prioritize the items on your list so that you know what is most important.

I haven't remembered to do this yet.  I want to do this!

15. As you leave work, bring your awareness to walking and breathing again. Be aware of the transition we call "Leaving work."  Monitor your body. Are you exhausted? Are you standing erect or bent over? What expression is on your face? Are you in the present moment, or are you getting out ahead of yourself in your thinking mind?

I also haven't remembered to do this, but I will continue to try to do this when I go back in January.

16.  (After work) if you are driving, take a moment or two once again to sit in your car before before you start it up. Drive home mindfully.  Leave the cell phone alone unless it is hands free and essential that you make the call then and not later.  Can you be aware of that decision? Can you be aware of the impulse to simply ignore your decision and make the call anyway?

I like this sitting in the car and centering.  I cleaned my car today so this will be an even more enjoyable process.

17. Before you walk in the door, realize that you are about to do so. Be aware of this transition we call "coming home."  Try greeting people mindfully and making eye contact rather than shouting to announce your arrival.

I often take a pause in the garage before I get out of the car and go in the house.  I am trying to make more eye contact with time and not shouting to announce my arrival but it is shocking him right now.
He yells - Is that you?  Is that you?

18. As soon as you can, take your shoes off and get out of your work clothes.  Changing to other clothes can complete the transition from ork to home and allow you to integrate more quickly and consciously into your non-work roles.  If you can make the time, take five minutes or so to meditate before you do anything else, even cooking or eating dinner.

This is something when I have done it makes me feel a lot better.  Often I am so tired I sleep in my clothes.  Making a conscious effort to change my clothes is huge for me.

I haven't meditated when I get home. I usually come from yoga and have done some meditation there or I am really exhausted.

19.  Keep in mind that the real meditation is how you live your life from moment to moment.  In this way, everything you do can become part of your meditation practice, if you are willing to inhabit the present moment and embrace it in awareness, in your body "underneath' thinking.

I have been meditating or at least watching the breath at physical therapy.  I really enjoy doing it there.  I like to get to yoga class early and do a big body scan or just watch the breath as I lie on my back.

Main stressors in my life

Questions: Dealing with Stress in Your Own Life – List the main stressors in your life. Begin by
dividing them into groups, such as work, family, relationships, money, time, self-expectations,
self-image, etc. Next to each stressor, note the unconscious and subconscious beliefs that “make this stressor seem real” and the expectation you place on yourself due to these beliefs. In other words, are you measuring yourself against an image of how you want life, yourself, others, or situations to be? Look for a way in which you could drop the expectation or change your attitude toward it, and next to each expectation, note how the stress would change. If there are some stressors you would like to retain, note what it is you get from them. What is the payoff? Is the juice really worth the squeeze?

- There is no end to the volume
I can ask for more help - 2nd shopper, Set Dec PA.
I can quit the job if it becomes unreasonable.
I can accept there is a high volume of work in the profession I chose and be with the work
- The hours are very long
I can ask for more help
I can take better care of myself and go to bed on time so I have the energy to do the work
I can acknowelge that yes the hours are very long
Because the hours are long a need to take good care of myself
Because the hours are very long it is important that I take time off between jobs
- The expectations are high
I can have my own expectations
I can clarify what is needed
Because the expectations are high I need to devote time to yoga and meditation to balance myself
- Lots of people depend on my
We all depend on each other. I depend on them too
- I constantly have to be creative
I will do the best I can 
- I need to read other people's minds
Because I am not a mind reader I will ask more questions and also accept it will not always work out perfectly.
I can accept because I am not a mind reader sometimes I will need to make changes.

- I don't have enough energy left to do the job I want to do at the yoga studio
I can stop working at the studio
I can teach less 
I can leave things as they are and realize the yoga studio is just one part of my life
- I am working in partnership and I don't always have the same belief system as my partner
I can accept that we are different people
I can let go of the partnership
- The location is not good
- The parking sucks
I can try to find a solution to the parking
I can let things be as they are and acccept that the parking is not good,
- My students need a lot of attention that I can't always give them
I can accept I can only give what I can give and that is my best
When I am with my students I can give them my full attention
- I am very tired by the time I get to the studio
I can teach less
I can rest more
I can do the best I can do accepting that I am tired
- I spend most of my free time at the Yoga studio
I can not take on as many things
I can accept that I spend a lot of time at the studio

SCHOOL - YOGA THERAPY 800 hour Training
- The internship is very hard and demanding and takes lots of time
I can work on it as I can and let myself finish it when it naturally is finished without forcing or grasping
I can let go of perfectionism and day the internship the best I can when I approach it each time
- I need lots of money to pay for the trainings
I can keep decorating sets so that I have the money for teacher trainings
I can select which teacher trainings I want and which ones I can afford
I can borrow money from my mom or agains the house
I can do less teacher trainings and try to learn in cheaper ways: by taking classes, by reading books
- I didn't expect to have to do all my training at Kripalu I thought I could go back to Austin which is much closer and more personal
I can accept that things change
- I am not sure I can make a living doing yoga therapy
I can focus on the right now which is my work as a Decorator and a part time yoga teacher and when I have become a Yoga Therapist think about how to make a living. Right now since I am not a Yoga Therapist it is not as important to ruminate on the future,
- Even though I am doing all this training I still feel inadequately prepared to work with people
I can realize I am not work with people and not teach until I feel prepared
I can work consistently in the day to day on my yoga therapy and trust that one day I will feel prepared

- My left knee hurts when it is bent. It is the same pain I had before and after my surgery in 2000. I thought I had solved this issue and now it's back
I can continue to work on my knee
I can accept that my knee hurts now
- The side of my left foot is hurting very badly
I can accept that my foot is hurting
I can work on my foot using the healing modalities that I am familiar with
- My shoulders are in pain most of the time
I can accept the pain in my shoulders
I can work on my shoulders using the healing modalities that I am familiar with
- The side of my right calf is in pain
I can accept the pain
I can work with the healing modalities I know
- I am doing yoga and going to physical therapy for these injuries
- Both of these activities take a lot of time
I can do what I can do with the constraints of the time I have
- Being in pain affects my mood and my performance at work
I can accept that pain affects my mood
- My bunions are very large and my toes are curling over which I believe is effecting my stability and balance
I can accept that my balance is off due to injury

- I don't spend enough time with my husband because I have made myself so busy
I can make my husband more of a priority
I can accept that I am busy
- Most of my family is in Philadelphia and I feel disconnected from them
I can try to be more connected to my family using phone and internet
I can accept the choice I made living far from my family has lead to me feeling disconnected
- My cousin, who I love lives less than two miles from me but I rarely see her
I can see her more
I can accept that I do see her
- I regret not having children
- My grandaunt just died and I didn't get to see her
I can accept that she died and I wasn't there
- My aunt is suffering from dementia and I don't know how to help
I can accept that I don't know how to help my aunt who is suffering
- My cousin has a sever case of lupus
I can accept that my cousin has lupus and although it seems very infair to me this is the way it is
- my brother has epilepsy and I feel guilty about how his life has turned out
I can accept my brother has epilepsy and I don't

- I have few friendships
I can accept that I have few friends
- My one close friend moved away several years ago.  I tried to stay in touch but she doesn't return my calls very often
I can accept that she doesn't return my calls
- My other close friend moved away this fall and I miss her very much
I can accept that I miss Linda

- I am worried that when I make my Career Change to Yoga and Yoga Therapy I will not make enough money to be satisified
Change is always happening in life and it is not a threat. 
The point of life is change
- I make a lot of money in TV being a Set Decorator and that is one of the things that has keep me in this profession that I think it too hard to do
I am mindful that I perceive my profession as difficult

- I schedule up all of my time and don't give myself much down time
I can give myself more down time
I can recognize that my tendency is to over schedule myself and decide if I want to try to make any changes
- I am overwhelmed that I don't have enough time
I can do less
I can accept that I am overwhelmed
- I don't give myself enough time to sleep
I can sleep more
I can accept that I don't give myself enough time to sleep

- I have very high expectations for myself
I recognize my expectations are high
I can attempt to lower my expectations
- I am competitive and achievement oriented
I can accept my competitive and achievement oriented nature
I can try to change
- I rarely feel good enough
I can accept that I rarely feel good enough
I can work on loving myself

- I feel I am too fat
I can accept my body as it is right now
- I am embarrassed that I am not more flexible
I can accept my flexibilty where it is right now
- I don't feel pretty enough
I can accept my looks as they are
- I am struggling with how my looks are changing as I am getting older
I can accept that I am changing and getting older

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Overview - Ayurveda the Science of Self-Healing by Dr. Vasant Lad

Ayurveda is concerned with 8 prinicpal branches of medicine

Ayur = life, Veda = knowing

It has been practiced in India over 5000 years

2) Gynecology
3) Obstetrics
4) Ophthalmology
5) Geriatrics
6) Otolaryngology
7) General Medicine
8) Surgery

Uses 5 element theory and the tridosha, the seven dhatus, three malas, trinity of life

In Ayurveda the whole life's journey is considered to be sacred

All Ayurvedic literatur is based on Samkya philosophy of creation
(sat=truth and khya=to know)

Ayurvedic science of daily living was developped by the rishis. They perceived a close relationship between man and the universe  The considered Cosmic Consciousness the source of all existence

The rishi Kapila discovered 24 principles/elements of the universe

Purusha is male energy - formless, colorless and beyond attributes
Prakrati is female energy - form, color with attributes

3 Gunas concerened with
satva (essence)
rajas (movement)
tamas (inertia)

Ayurveda teaches that wo/man is a microcosm, a universe within his/her self

every person as 4 biological and spiritual instincts
1) religious
2) financial
4) instinct towards freedom

Ayurveda is the foundation, Yoga is the body, and Tantra is the head
Ayurveda, Yoga and Tantra form an interdependent trinity of life

5 Basic Elements exist in all matter using example of water
- ice (earth principle)
- ice liquifies (water principle)
- steam (air principle)
-steam disappears into space (ether principle)

In the human body the source of fire is the metabolism
In the body earth is the bones, cartilage, nails, muscles, tendons, skin and hair

The Senses:
Ether related to hearing
Air is related to touch
Fire is related to vision
Water is related to taste
Earth is related to smell

Ayurveda regards the human body and its sensory experiences as manifestations of cosmic energy expressed in the five basic elements. The ancient rishis perceived that these elements sprang from pure Cosmic Consciousness.  Ayurveda aims to enable each individual to bring his body into perfect harmonious relationship with that Consciousness.

The tridosha are responsible for arising of natural urges for individual preferences in food; their flavors, temperatures, etc,  The basic constitution of each individual is determined at conception. According to Ayurveda, the first requirement for healing oneself and others is a clear understanding og the three doshas.

Vata is the principle of movement
The bodily air principle
Vata is formed from the two elements Ether and Air

Kapha is responsible for emotions of attachment, greed and long standing envy it is also expressed by the tendency toward calmness, forgiveness and love.
The chest is the seat of kapha

Health is order, disease is disorder
within the body, there is a constant interaction between order and disorder
Order is inherent in disorder and that a return to health is this possible

In Ayurveda diseases are classified according to origin: psychological, spiritual or physical. Also the site of manifestation.  Diseases can occur in a site that is not the locus of origin

Agni is the biological fire that governs metabolism

Pitta and Agni are very similar (Pitta is the container and Agni is the content)

Longevity depends on Agni

The root of all disease is ama

Toxins are also created by emotional factors

People with kapha constitutions are very sensitive to foods that aggravate kapha (like diary)

Malas/Three Waste Products: Feces, Urine and Sweat

The color of urine depends on the diet. Ayurvedic looks at color, smell and quantity of urine


Rasa (plasma)
Rakta (blood)
Mamsa (muscles)
Meda (fat)
Ashti (bone)
Majja (marrow)
Shukra and Artav (reproductive tissues)

Attributes are called gunas

Ayurveda uses day to day observation of pulse, tongue, face, eyes, nails, lips

5 elements are represented in the fingers

ether - thumb (brain)
air - index (lungs)
fire - middle (intenstines)
water - ring (kidneys)
earth - pinky (heart)

The pulse changes depending on time of day, appetitite and emotions

Tongue is diagnoses by: size, shape, contour, surface, margins and color

Facial Diagnosis: lip diagnosis, eye diagnosis

Nail Diagnosis

There are 2 types of treatments in ayurveda: elimination of toxins, and neutralization of toxins

Ayurveda teaches if we repress emotions they will cause imbalances and disease causing toxins in the body

There are many types of therapies

Panchakarma: vomiting, purgatives, medicated enemas, nasal adminstration of herbs, and purification of the blood

In Ayurveda each individual has the power to heal themselves we do this by understanding the body and its needs

Portion control is important
1/3 stomach filled with food, 1/3 with water and 1/3 with air
Food portion should be 2 handfuls
eating should be done with discipline as a meditation

fruit juice not with meals, water with meals

There are 6 tastes

Ayurvedic Pharmacology is based on: rasya, virya and vipak

Routine is important to health

Sleeping position including what side of the body you sleep on is very important

There is a basic ayurvedic routine discribed on page 101

Ayurveda looks carefully on the time of day
Time regulates the movements of the planets
The planets are closely related to the bodily organs
The human nervous system is most affected by astrological time

essence of seven dhatus
It is the vital energy that governs the hormonal balance
Ghee helps to enhance ojas

Tejas is the essence of a very subtle fire that governs metabolism

Things that need to be in balance for a healthy life
- tridosha, dhatus, and three malas
- prana, ojas and tejas

Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences
- in India it is traditional to study Ayurveda before practicing yoga
- yoga brings man into the state of equilibrium
- Yoga is the science of union with the ultimate being

Other practices
- Breathing and Meditation (Pranayama)
- Mantra
- Meditation

So Hum Mantra is the union of individual consciousness with cosmic consciousness
so is feminine
hum is the masculine

- The purpose is not to suppress the effects of illness but to bring what is out of balance into harmony.  Ayurveda treats the disease not just the symptoms.
- There is a kitchen pharmacy of herbs
- Also use metals, colors, and gem stones

Taking Ayurvedic Tests

Perform the Ayurvedic tests (both prakruti and vikruti), located in the Student Resources section
of the IYT website: Journal on your experience and what you feel
your Ayurvedic constitution (prakruti) is. What are your main areas of imbalance (vikruti)
and how do these affect your life

When I was in India a few years back my yoga teacher in Pushkar told me I was a Pitta-Kapha.  He said my mom was a pure Pitta but I was a mixture. I remember last year Maria Mendola told me I had a luscious Kapha body and I didn't know if that was code for saying I was fat.  But here I go on the Ayurvedic tests to see what they have to say.

"According to Ayurveda, Prakruti means the physical constitution of a person and vikruti means the state of disease. Prakruti is the science of nature which determines the innate character, physical constitution or disposition of a person. It helps in deciding the ideal lifestyle and therapeutic regimen for an individual. Depending on the predominance of a single dosha, or different permutations and combinations, Prakruti could be of seven types out of which the three main types are vata, pitta and kapha . . . "


"According to Ayurveda, your basic constitution is determined at the time of conception. This constitution is called Prakruti. The term Prakruti is a Sanskrit word that means, "nature," "creativity," or "the first creation." One of the very important concept of Ayurveda is that one's basic constitution is fixed throughout his lifetime. The combination of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha that was present in the individual at the time of conception is maintained throughout his lifetime. This is your base point. Notice that different persons can have different combination of Vata, Pitta and kapha as their basic constitution or Prakruti. This is how Ayurveda can explain the subtle differences between individuals and explains why everyone is unique and that two persons can react very differently when exposed to the same environment or stimuli. Your Prakruti is unique to you just as your fingerprint and DNA. Thus, in order to understand a person, it is necessary to determine his or her Prakruti"

My prakruti test differs a lot

Physical build: Kapha (4) and Vata (4) are even and Pitta is low (1)
Energetic Principles: Pitta is very dominant: Pitta (4), Vata (1), Kapha (1)
(this makes sense to me because even if I have a Kapha body I am not slow or sluggish in the way I live my life)
Physical Characteristics: Kapha (11) dominant, them Pitta (8), lastly Vata (5)
Physiological Functions: Vata (9) Pitta (9) and Kapha (7): most of many health problems are vata problems. I am not sure what this means.
Psychological aspects: Here I am very Pitta (11), Vata (6) and Kapha (2)

It's interesting because I feel like I have some of the health concerns and creativity of a Vata, the physical characteristics of a Kapha and the emotions and world view of a Pitta.  I don't really see this as a balance but more of the many personalities that are in my body due to my gemini nature.

My overall prakruti score was

VATA - 24
PITTA - 33
KAPHA - 25

This shows a strong and dominant Pitta score in my prakruti


"Your current condition is called your vikruti. Although it reflects your ability to adjust to life's influences and is always changing, it should match your prakruti, or inborn constitution, as closely as possible. If the current proportion of your doshas differs significantly from your constitutional proportion, it indicates imbalances, which in turn can lead to illness. Farther your Vikruti is from your Prakruti, more ill you are. Ayurveda teaches that your Vikruti can be changed by means of diet and meditation so as to approach your Prakruti or the state where you have perfect health."

My Vikruti test results

AIR: 27
FIRE: 39

My vikruti actually shows less Pitta dominance than my Prakruti which signifies to me that my Pitta is out of balance right now with my true nature. My Kapha is much stronger in my Vikruti than in my Prakruti which makes me feel like I need a Kapha reducing program.

I am not really sure what this means.  I don't know if I want a high score or a low score or if the question is how do these scores relate to each other. I have know that I have a lot of fire in me, earth comes second and air last.  I am a fiery person and I often joke no one ever thought they would put blacks and Jews together and make a calm person. This makes sense to me if I am a Pitta-Kapha like Yogesh Yogi told me.  I am firery but I am also earth.  I feel like I have characteristics of air in me but it doesn't feel dominate but they assert themselves from time to time in my creativity.  And why has the Kapha become so high, and is that not good because it is not my true nature.  That's a little confusing and something I would like to work on more.

Pravīratārā - Tārā the Swift and Heroic

Praviratara is the first of the Twenty one emanations of Tara according to the tradition of Sūryagupta.
It we call on Praviratara with our hearts she will be swift to eliminate our outer and inner obstacles

She sees past, present and future simultaneously.  In seeing all, in times of trouble, Praviratara knows when to come swiftly to our aid ‘like a flash of lightning’.

She is praised as a heroine who has ‘conquered’ herself and become a fully awakened Buddha. She teaches us how to be heroes and heroines of our own lives and defeat our inner and outer demons.

Those who are engage in the sadhana/practice of Pravitatara will be able to keep away negative influences of harmful individuals. Praviratara is especially helpful in aiding us in successfully negotiated worldly dealings in the legal and business fields.

She was born from a beautiful lotus that grew from the tears of the Avalokiteshvara, Buddha of Compassion and the Protector of the Three Worlds (form, formless and desire). Tara vowed to assist him in helping all sentient beings.

Her traditional poem of praise is:

"Homage to Tara, The Swift One, The Heroine,
Whose eyes are like a flash of lightning,
Who arose from the opening of a lotus,
Born from the tears of the Protector of the Three Worlds."

Her coloring is red and she radiate fires. Pravitara has one head and eight arms. Her first pair of hands, joined at the crown, hold vajra and bell. The second pair hold bow and arrow. The third hold wheel and conch and the fourth hold sword and noose. She appears peaceful and as she sits in the cross-legged position on a yellow lotus. She is adorned with silks and jeweled ornaments and has a backrest of moonlight. Her sacred sound is OṂ (ༀ)

Her is an Explanation of her iconography:

Vajra and Bell in the Mudra of Joy – The vajra represents compassion and the bell represents the realization of Emptiness.Tara carries both implements crossed above her head in what is known as the joy of Dharma. Joy is perseverance in benefiting all sentient beings.

Bow and Arrow – The bow held in the left wisdom hand and the arrow held with the right hand of compassion represent Tara’s skillful ability to use liberate us swiftly.

Dharma Wheel – The Dharma wheel represents the Buddha’s teaching. Tara wielding the Dharma wheel signifies her dominion over all beings.

Conch Shell – The conch shell was used as a horn trumpet in ancient times to proclaim the Dharma throughout the land where the conch shell is blown.

Wisdom Sword – The wisdom sword is a blade of wisdom that signifies the ability of Tara to cut through our negative karma, obstacles and ignorance.

Vajra Noose – The vajra noose represents the binding of all harmful beings and obstacles get in the way of  our spiritual practice.

Reflections About Ayurveda - Question 1

Question: The roots of Ayurveda lie in the lifestyle and spiritual quest of the ancient sages of India. Their concept of health emerged out of a vision of the oneness of the universe and human beings living in balance with it that they experienced during meditation. Ayurveda later evolved as a form of
medicine based on these original spiritual insights. To what extent is it reasonable that those challenged with illness will embark on the spiritual journey necessary for genuine healing to occur?

Illness is a great motivator.  I have seen my husband lose 50 lbs, incorporate vegetarian diet and yoga into his life on a serious committed basis because of the pain he wanted to get out of that he was experiencing because of gout. I have seen myself commit and recommit to my yoga practice to heal my knees. I have seen people come to me for yoga therapy, yoga or yoga nidra because they were suffering.  I think it is suffering that brings us along the path and keeps us steadfast in our practice.

Question: For those who feel unwilling or unable to make such deep changes, to what extent do you believe alternative therapies, such as herbs, massage, and other approaches that work from the outside are helpful?

I think alternative therapies are very helpful. I have seen progress in myself and others with acupuncture, massage is a favorite modality for me,  I also use herbs, and hot and cold therapy.
I think people enter the path of healing from where they are at.  If someone's point of entry towards healing is alternative therapies than that is wonderful.  I don't think it is us to judge how people make "deep changes."  Let people have their experience. Let people have their journey.

Question: This question touches the heart of alternative medicine: can healers and teachers
really assist someone who is not working on themselves at a deep level?

Who am I to judge is someone is working on not working on themselves at a deep level?  What is deep?  What might be deep for one person is superficial to another.  Just bringing awareness to a situation opens the door to healing.  I want to be a cheerleader and encourage people to move at their own speed in their own way. I don't care about deep or shallow let's just get started.

Question: What is the process of someone moving from a place of receiving therapy which comes from outside to a place of sensing themselves as the source of all healing?

Receiving therapy can be the first step.  The western mind is trained to go to an outside person to receive healing, that's our culture, that's how we are raised and who we are.  But in these therapies a light can be turned on with the aid therapist.  The therapist can begin the education that we in fact heal ourselves. Or maybe the therapist doesn't turn on the light but the client's true nature turns on the light.  The therapist can act as the door, the lighthouse, the pipe to remind the client of their own true nature as whole and healed and encourage them on their own inner journey towards healing.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bhu Mudra for Balancing Vata

I did Joseph Le Page's Bhu Mudra meditation for Balancing Vatta.

(I am not sure who any of these people are in the pictures. I just wanted to show the mudra)

I felt grounded, stable and supported. As the meditation went on a felt that my chest was opening up more and more.  In the illustration in looks like the arms are infront on the knees this wasn't comfortable (and I felt like I was collapsing forward) so I put the arms behind the knees. At one point I really felt like axiety mountain with my head being the top.  I even saw the snow/ice at the top of the mountain/my head.

My breath become very deep during the meditation and I was grounded and relaxed.
At one point I remember the Buddha touching the earth as his witness in the confrontation with Mara.

Here is what is written about the Mudra in Joseph and Lilian Le Page's book:

Core Quality: Stability


- Cultivating a sense of stability in both the mind and body
- Strengthening the bones
- Facilitating optimal postural alignment
- Reducing blood pressure
- Cultivating grounding and embodiment
- Supporting the treatment of anz

Balancing Hatha Yoga and Meditation

Question: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – The first five limbs of yoga are described as the outer practice while the last three are described as the inner practice. The first five limbs relate more to lifestyle and Hatha Yoga practice. The last three relate more to meditation. Many systems of Yoga-based healing, such as TM (Transcendental Meditation) and Vipassana, focus on meditation. In the book Meditation as Medicine, Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, argues that a blend of Hatha Yoga and meditation is more effective. What is your perspective, and how would you balance Hatha Yoga and meditation in your own work?

"Yoga, as a stand-alone therapy, has helped millions of people to achieve astonishing feats.  As you may recall, recent medical research has proven that yoga alone can be powerful medical modality for many diseases. . . Of course, yoga virtually always includes breath control, which is itself a singular force for restoring health. Medical Meditation also adds the elements of mental focus and mantra, which brings the power of yoga to a whole new level.  When the postures, the breath exercises, the movements, the hand positions, the mental focus and the mantras of Medical Meditation are performed together, in the proper sequence, the resulting exercise is called a kriya. Because kriyas consist of interlocking, synergistic elements, they are immeasurably more powerful than just isolated yoga postures and movements." - (p.79, Meditation as Medicine, Khalsa and Stauth)

Because I am not a Kundalini teacher I don't use the word Kriya.  But, when I teach and practice yoga I believe in Yoga with what I call Yoga with a capital Y.  In my humble understanding, yoga was never meant to just be asana.  If you just practice asana you are only doing 1/8th of Yoga. It's a testament to the power of Yoga that so many people are getting so much benefit from 1/8th of the practice. 

Nischala Devi on Yoga With A Capital Y

"Today the word 'Yoga' conjures up the image of some difficult or contorted pose. Once relegated to a few faraway ashrams or caves, it is now practiced in gyms, health clubs and studios all over the Western World.

What is being taught under the name of Yoga is a minute part of this great tradition, a microscopic focus on the physical. Yoga in its completeness is a way of life that allows for total transformation.  But the physcial postures, or asans, can serve as an introduction to this distinguished wisdom tradition.  Asans reintroduce us to our bodies.  Once we become friends with the physcial, going inward to the spiritual becomes easier.  Yoga in its completeness is a way of life that allows for total transformation."

I just did asana practice for many years.  I didn't understand (and I probably still don't) the totality of yoga.  Although as I practiced yoga I become more and more curious and started to long for more. This curiousity brought me to Yoga Philosophy Certificate program at LMU.

When I studied Yoga Nidra in the Satyananda tradition (and I am not in the Bihar lineage although I am fascinated by it and would like to learn more) I was taught it was important to do the limbs of yoga in order.  The 8 Limbs are:  Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. 

Nischala Devi's definition of the 8 Limbs

Yama: reflection on our true nature
Niyama: evolution toward harmony
Asana: comfort in being, posture
Pranayama: enhancement and guidance of prana (energy)
Dharana: gathering and focusing of the consciousness inward
Dhyana: continous inward flow of consciousness
Samadhi: union with Divine Consciousness

When using the 8 limb model practicing asana comes before pranayama, pranayama before pratyahara, pratyahara before dharana, dharana before dhyana and dhyana before samadhi.  I try to practice in this way and teach in this way.  Maybe I never meet samadhi but I teach yoga nidra after asana and pranayama. I begin with a dharma talk that has elements of Yamas and Niyamas. I feel that the students reach the deepest levels of relaxation when sequencing reflects the 8 limbs of yoga, and so do I. 

Sometimes, I do a stand-alone asana practice, sometimes I just do breathing exercises, sometimes I sit and meditate and I think all of these modalities are wonderful, valid and relaxing.  But when I sequence with the 8 limbs the benefits are much more profound for me.

Yoga Sutra 2.28
"By embracing, Ashtanga Yoga, the Eight-Faceted Path, Intuitive Wisdom dawns and reveals our inner radiance."  (translated and interpreted by Nischala Devi)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Exploring Stress through the Koshas

We humans are like a lamp that has five lampshades over our light. Each of the lampshades is a different color and density. As the light shines through the lampshades, it is progressively changed in color and nature. It is a bitter-sweet coloring. On the one hand, the shades provide the individualized beauty of each lamp. Yet, the lampshades also obscure the pure light. 
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati 


When you take the time to cleanse your physical body of accumulated stress and toxicity, you are rewarded with increased vitality and optimal health. -  Debbie Ford

Stress in this body manifests as lack of body awareness and/or physical disease

- tension headache
- neck pain
- muscle contraction and tension.
- migraines
- Dwarfish
- joint pain
- inhibition of regeneration of skeletal system where repair and remodeling of bone can be disrupted
- osteoporosis

- hypothalamus signals the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland and the process is started to produce epinephrine and cortisol, sometimes called the "stress hormones."
- increased production of cortisol
- increased production of epinephrine
- When cortisol and epinephrine are released, the liver produces more glucose, a blood sugar that would give you the energy for "fight or flight" in an emergency
- tendency toward diabetes

- An increase in stress hormones, known as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol which increase heart rate, dilate blood vessels and, increase blood pressure.
- Consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and elevated levels of stress hormones and of blood pressure
- Hypertension
- Heart palpitations
- Heart attack
- Stroke

- shortness of breath
- shallow breath
- higher risks for complications for people with asthma or  lung disease, like emphysema
- development of asthma
- hyperventilation
- fatigue

- increased heart rate
- digestive changes
- increased blood pressure
- increased metabolic rate

- irregular bowel movements
- abdominal pain
 - ulcer
- impacts what nutrients your digestive tract absorbs
- impacts how fast food moves through your system.
- diarrhea
- constipation

- reduction of libido
- reduction of testosterone levels in male
- reduction of fertility in females


Our breath gets shallow and ineffective when we are in a stressed state. I advocate stopping whatever you're doing for a couple of minutes five times a day, closing your eyes and taking deep breaths. 
-  Lindsay Wagner

Stress manifests in this body in shallow breathing, shortness of breath, low energy, blockages in the pranavayus and chakras.  We separate from the healing power of nature including the 5 elements. Stress may be experienced as insomnia or fatigue


The deepest fear we have, 'the fear beneath all fears,' is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgment. It's this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life. 
- Tullian Tchividjian

Stress manifests in emotional pain, conflict, fear, anger and sadness. We become self centered and see the world as I, me and mine. Stress appears to be a major factor in severe depression.


Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There's going to be stress in life, but it's your choice whether you let it affect you or not. 
Valerie Bertinelli

Stress is the sum of beliefs and though patterns that affect the way we see the world. When stressed we lose track of the witness mind and get caught up in the minutiae of the details. We can't see the forest for the trees. We lose our perspective.


Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.- Marilu Henner

Stress is a fundamental separation from spirit. When we are stressed we are discontented and agitated.  We lose touch with our source energy. We have a lack of awareness that we are one with the universe. We experience isolation, separation and lack of unity.  We feel as we have no purpose.

How do we mobilize community support for Yoga/stress management facilitators?

1) We write and fund grants

2) We facilitate alliances, coalitions and partnerships within their community and outside their community

3) We offer friendship

4) We offer materials

5) We help with fundraising

6) We donate materials

7) We donate spaces

8) We donate our time

9) We participate in their events and offerings

10) We educate the community about the services they are offering

11) We show the wellness benefits of yoga

12) We use all our networks to support their offerings (word of mouth, social media, etc..,)

How do we mobilize community support for Yoga and Yoga Projects

1) We educate people about the benefits of yoga in there own communities by going into schools, community centers, nursing homes, parks, recreation centers, and other non-traditional Western places for yoga. In this places we educate on health benefits of yoga for the targeted group we are interacting with

2) We write about yoga in newspapers, magazines, blogs. We tweet about yoga and facebook about yoga.

3) We offer donation classes, pay what you can classes, sliding scale classes, time banking and work trades.

4) We offer wellness classes across, social, cultural. and religious boundaries

5) If  necessary, we make the language of yoga more accessible

6) We allow people to discovery the true mystery of yoga for themselves and not tell people how to feel

7) We emphasize in our marketing and materials that yoga is for people of all shapes and sizes and colors, nationalities, religions and ethnic groups

8) How demonstrate how yoga is a cost effective alternative for wellness

9) We have fun doing yoga and show how fun yoga is

10) We show people how they are already practicing yoga without even knowing it (prayer, movement, stretching, concentrating, etc.. )

Creating a cultural context for Yoga and Yoga Based Wellness Programs

In order to create a cultural context for Yoga and Yoga Based Wellness programs that students understand I believe we have to make a safe space for the Yoga practice. Here are some techniques I use in creating this sacred container:

1) I never force any one to chant Aum or any other mantra. I tell them it is perfectly acceptable not to participate.  In some environments I don't present any Sanskrit even the mantra Aum. When using Sanskrit I explain why we yogis consider it to be beneficial to use Sanskrit.

2) I never force anyone to use a mudra. I explain how we use mudras everyday and show (in a playful way) some of the everyday mudras we are already using.  But if mudras don't feel comfortable I offer permission to opt out without any ostracism.

3) I explain that yoga as a philosophical system and explain the system.

4) I present medical research about the benefits of Yoga and Meditation

5) I offer my own testimony about the benefits of Yoga and Meditation in my life if it seems appropriate

6) I let people know that the can chose to opt out of anything the feel uncomfortable with

7) I present the ancient history of yoga and show how it has been a healing modality for centuires

8) I talk about the concept of Ishwara Pranidhana in yoga - to follow your own God, deity, guru, belief system . . .

It is equally important to decolonize Yoga.  Yoga in the West is a strange and beautiful practice that at times in racist and classicist.

I really appreciate these points from Susanna Barkataki article "How to Decolonize Your Yoga Practice."

"1. Inquire within.

One powerful way we can decolonize yoga and reunite it with its true aim and purpose is to practice Gandhian svadhyaya, or self-rule and inquiry, and to truly learn the full honest, integrity of an authentic yoga practice.

2. Explore, learn and cite correct cultural references.

As practitioners of yoga I would love to see more of us citing cultural references as we attempt to understand and connect with the complexity, culture and history from which this tradition comes. I’m not suggesting people put on a watered down, context-removed faux Hinduism. To me that is not the answer. Commitment to deep practice, questioning and learning is, perhaps, part of the answer.

3. Ask ourselves, and other yoga teachers, the hard questions.

These tensions ask us to bring all of ourselves to the table. So what I am suggesting is for us to decolonize yoga we need to inquire deeply. We each have our unique story and gifts to share as do all the practitioners we teach or learn from. Let’s ask ourselves, “For whom is yoga accessible today and how might that be a legacy of past injustices that we have the opportunity to address through our teaching practice and our lives?”

4. Live, know, share and practice all eight limbs of yoga, not just asana.

We can also decolonize yoga by studying the depth of practice beyond the postures. In addition to asana we need to understand, practice and teach all eight limbs of yoga: yama or ethical conduct, niyama or personal practice, pranayama or working with the breath, pratyahara awareness of the senses, dharana, meditation, concentration and insight, dhyana or being present with whatever arises and samadhi, or interconnection with all that is.

5. Be humble and honor your own and other people’s journey.

When we humbly and respectfully consider yoga’s history, context, many branches and practices we give ourselves a fighting chance achieving yoga’s aim of enlightenment of mind, body and spirit.

By really engaging the full, whole and multifaceted face of yoga we not only liberate ourselves but we may just overthrow this 2nd colonization of yoga, freeing ourselves as well as the yoga practitioners of the future to experience the full, liberatory, authentic and true practice of yoga. We allow our own practice to grow and our gifts to really shine.

With mutual understanding, respect, and a deep reverence and caring for the history, we can decolonize ourselves, the yoga-industrial complex, and stage our own ahimsa, or nonviolent revolution of the mind, body and spirit."

Yoga Based Wellness Programs

"Go out and serve the suffering. Learn to place others in front of yourself." - Amma

Here are some of my thoughts about how do we create Yoga-based wellness programs that meet the needs of those who need them most?

1) We follow our hearts and do what we think needs to be done and go to where we are called
2)  We make coalitions, partnerships and alliances we other people and organizations within the community
3) We listen to people and see what they want and need and make them a part of the program
4) We get educated so we actually have something to offer
5) We don't forget that we are doing yoga

1) We follow our hearts and do what we think needs to be done and go to where we are called.

“Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.” 
― Marianne Williamson

A friend of mine Freidel Kushman has started a program on Skid Row called I AM WELLBEING
She was called to Skid Row. I am not sure why, but, she is there doing amazing things.

This is her newsletter

I started People of Color Yoga for All Bodies because I believed yoga has priced minorities out of the classes and people who are not white and super thin feel uncomfortable in traditional yoga classes.

I started other programs at the Yogi Tree like: 30 days to Self Discovery, 40 days to Optimal Health, 40 Days to Transformation, and Life Purpose Bootcamp because I saw suffering and I wanted to help.

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. 
We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. 
- Mother Teresa

2)  We make coalitions, partnerships and alliance with organizations/groups within the community

They came down on us because we had a grass-roots, real people's revolution, complete with the programs, complete with the unity, complete with the working coalitions, 
where we crossed racial lines. 
-  Bobby Seale

There is a difference between being paternalistic and being of service. When we go into a community as an outsider (or even an insider) we need to be wanted and in partnership.  Since we aren't there to heal anyone (yoga therapists don't heal) we need to be respectful of  people and not think we have all the answers and know what is best for them. We can offer to share techniques, strategies, insights but there should be on forcing, no healing, no I know what is best for you.

3) We listen to people and see what they want and need and make them a part of the program

“Extensive research has shown that no matter how knowledgeable a clinician might be, if he or she is not able to open good communication with the patient, he or she may be of no help.”

I think it's really important to get a feel of what people are looking for. We need to talk to people one on one and seeing what their health concerns are.

4) We need to get educated so we actually have something to offer

Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.” 
― Brian Tracy

In order to have an effective yoga based wellness program we need to have something to offer.  I have been working on this by getting trained in Yoga Therapy at IYT and also taking other courses to fill holes in my knowledge.  Being a 200 hour Yoga Teacher wasn't enough training for me to feel comfortable that I could be of service.  That's why I am doing more.

5) We don't forget we are doing yoga

Yoga is not the same as allopathic medicine. We don't give a yoga pose like doctors give out pills. We are concerned with the whole person (body, energy, psycho-emotional self, awareness and joy). A yoga therapist is not a glorified PT or a psychologist we are something different altogether that doesn't fit neatly into the scope of Western Medicine.