Sunday, November 24, 2013

Notes from Lorin Roche's Lecture - Yoga and the Healing Sciences

Lorin Roche came to LMU last weekend to teach Meditation. Here are my notes:

Om is similar to Amen.  It means yes, verily, so be it.  It is the primordial yes, always now.

Om is always personal.

Om is called the pranava.  Prana is the same prana in pranayama. Nava means new or boat.

Om is the original shout of joy.  It is the vibration of joy.

Om is what I am saying yes to.


Indriyas are the companions of Indra.  Indra is always drinking Soma.  These indriyas/sense are the entourage of the divine.


VAK (speech)

-          Verbal

-          Sub-vocal

-          Image-light- feeling

-          Silence

Negative voices when you meditate are trying to be helpful.  He said even the Dalai Lama has thoughts when he is Chinese.... people have lost their homes.....Om...Om....those goddamned Chinese.

When you get a to do list when you meditate welcome every thought

Aham – primordial

Mediatation should feel sensual

The purpose of a mantra is to lose it

You are letting the brain reboot

Let go of the muscle tension.  When the fears and tension are coming up they are coming up to be healed.


Body can review itself when meditating.  There are serges of adrenaline.  Meditation is a place to be safe where worries can come out.  Give senses a time to wake.

Stress can be fun,  We need a chance to repair and pick our stressors.

People coming to yoga are high performance animals. Areas that come to the surface need help.  Yoga teachers are the future of meditation.

Meditation is internal adjustment. Give yourself skillful giving tiny adjustments.

Sometimes the more we settle into the Om the more we feel  the ouch.  Give yourself skillful attention wherever you are hurting.

Don’t make people feel wrong when they are meditating.  Meditating is harder than yoga in the way that you can’t imitate when you meditate.  People have to be taught in unique ways.

Lecture Notes - Larry Payne - Yoga and the Healing Sciences

Larry Payne came to talk to my class about Prime of life Yoga last week.

-          Larry Payne says it’s the largest population and the most underserved

-          Just as the body changes for athletes it also changes for practitioners of yoga

-          People come to yoga primarily for stress reduction

-          People also come to yoga to improve circulation, improve flexibility/strength, for will power and concentration and for an overall sense of well-being

Vivekananda was the first person to talk about yoga in America

Swami Sivananda was a medical doctor who gave up his practice to be a monk


Vishnudevananda Saraswati (December 31, 1927 — November 9, 1993) was a disciple of Sivananda Saraswati, and founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams. He established the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course, one of the first yoga teacher training programs in the West. His books The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga (1959) and Meditation and Mantras (1978) established him as an authority on Hatha and Raja yoga. Vishnudevananda was a tireless peace activist who rode in several "peace flights" over places of conflict, including the Berlin Wall prior to German reunification.

Swami Satchitananda

Satchidananda Saraswati (December 22, 1914 – August 19, 2002), born as C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder, was an Indian religious teacher, spiritual master and yoga adept, who gained fame and following in the West during his time in New York. He was the author of many philosophical and spiritual books, including a popular illustrative book on Hatha Yoga. He also founded the international school Satchidananda Jothi Niketan located in Mettupalyam, Tamil Nadu.

Satchidananda came to public attention as the opening speaker[3] at the Woodstock music and arts festival in 1969. Over the years he wrote numerous books and gave hundreds of lectures. He also ordained a number of western disciples into the order of sannyasa. He was the founder of the Integral Yoga Institute and Yogaville in America, and Spiritual Guru of major Hollywood actors and western musicians.[4] and in 1986 opened the Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS) at Yogaville in Buckingham, Virginia.

Their yoga were one size fits all

Krishnamacharya taught one on one yoga. Larry studies with Krishnamacharya and his son Desichkar.

Albert Franklin

One of Krishnamacharya’s students was Dr. Albert Franklin, who studied the 3,000-year-old discipline for five years while stationed in India as a career diplomat. After the five years of training, Krisnamacharya gave Dr. Franklin a diploma, a string of beads and a command. "You teach!" he told his pupil, and Dr. Franklin took his command to heart. When the University for Man started, Dr. Franklin, then the director of the KSU South Asia Center, volunteered to teach a class in Yoga. The classes have been going strong ever since and now Dr. Franklin has a waiting list of Kansans who would like to learn the mysteries of this ancient Far Eastern discipline. Unlike his mentor, who took students only on a one-to-one basis, Dr. Franklin allows eight students into each class. His lessons are measured in weeks rather than in the years of a traditional Indian yogi. But, as these pictures of one of his classes show, Dr. Franklin's students take to this ancient and alien art with the same fervor shown by the most ardent Indian devotees. The world of T. Krishnamacharya has spread to the wheatfields of Kansas. Yoga, Dr. Franklin believes, improves health, encourages relaxation and teaches the dedicated student the oneness of his own body with the manifest universe. It differs from most Western forms of exercise in that the mind is also involved.

Viniyoga is a yoga style that you teach based on the total package.

A.G. Mohan is another student of Krishnamacharya

A. G. Mohan (born 1945) is a renowned Indian yoga teacher,[2][3] author,[4] and co-founder of Svastha Yoga & Ayurveda.[5][6] Mohan is a longtime[7] disciple of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1989).[8][9][10][11] Krishnamacharya, best known as the "father of modern yoga," was a legendary yoga master, ayurvedic healer, and scholar of the last century who modernized the practice of yoga and whose students dramatically popularized yoga in the West.

Mohan co-founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram[12][13] in Chennai, India, and was its Honorary Secretary from its inception, in 1976, to 1989. Mohan was also the convener of Sri Krishnamacharya’s centenary celebrations.

Indra Mohan, wife of A. G. Mohan and co-founder of Svastha Yoga & Ayurveda, is one of the few people who received a post-graduate diploma in yoga from Krishnamacharya.[14]

Yoga should be taught

Shiksana – 8 to 40

Rakshana – mid life and beyond

Chikitsa – Yoga Therapy

PNF stretching, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching, is a set of stretching techniques commonly used in clinical environments to enhance both active and passive range of motion with the ultimate goal being to optimize motor performance and rehabilitation. The literature regarding PNF has made the technique the optimal stretching method when the aim is to increase range of motion, especially in short-term changes. Generally an active PNF stretch involves a shortening contraction of the opposing muscle to place the target muscle on stretch. This is followed by an isometric contraction of the target muscle. PNF can be used to supplement daily stretching and is employed to make quick gains in range of motion to help athletes improve performance.[1] Aside from being safe and time efficient, the dramatic gains in range of motion seen in a short period of time may also promote compliance with the exercise and rehabilitation program.[2]

Isotonic Muscle Contraction

-          Move in and out

-          Move in and down

-          Lenghthening and Widening

Tightening and Relaxing

Dynamic Warm Up

Back pain – When we bend forward too much

Don’t do standing bends, plough, downward dog and too much sitting

Arching is key when you have rounding issues

Bhavana (mind set)

Bhāvanā (Pali;[1] Sanskrit, also bhāvana[2]) literally means "development"[3] or "cultivating"[4] or "producing"[1][2] in the sense of "calling into existence."[5] It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis (Patipatti). The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as citta-bhavana (the development or cultivation of the heart/mind) or metta-bhavana (the development/cultivation of lovingkindness). When used on its own bhavana signifies 'spiritual cultivation' generally.

When you wake up and go to bed have a affirmation

Yoga meditation has a mantra

Spend time in Nature


Biomechanical re-education

Time helping people

Create a personal program

Personal Practice


Rate 1 to 10 – Did you do your practice, how much water did you drink, and a journal of aha moments.

Carbohydrates are not your friend as you get older

As you age you should eat less

Cryotherapy – The art of ice – Effective way of healing

Yoga Breathing Breaks – Swami Ram Dev is using breathing to heal people

Rest and Relaxation are very important

Magnesium to balance adrenals

½ hour before you go to bed turn off all screens

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lakshmi, Ceres and Yashinis

I have been thinking about Lakshmi a lot this week after I watched and listened to Laura Amazzone's lecture. Would Lakshmi approve of my dirty car, my disorganized house, the extra weight around my middle, the whiskers that seem to always be growing above my upper lip, and my boyish dress at 43? Probably not! She might tell me to wear something more feminine, take better care of myself, get a lip and brow wax, put some makeup on you’re in your  40s now, and for goddess sake go on a diet   

On a visceral level, I am not attracted to Lakshmi the way I am to Saraswati. But if I am honest with myself I realize my life is ruled by Lakshmi.  The Lakshmi in me wants me to be materially successful, look pretty and be organized and while my inner Saraswati is begging me to do my art and not worry so much about the material. Lakshmi keeps me at work late following through on every detail when Saraswati wants me to go home and paint or read a book. Right now they are struggling for power over me, they both want to be the boss.   Lakshmi has been winning most of my adult life as I stay in a career where I am financial successful but my spirit is unfed.  With the help of the lecture I realize they don’t have to fight against each other I can unite them and be more powerful and at ease from the unification.

I know Sri, as Ceres, or Demeter.  When I was in Sicily in 2007 I saw thousands of statues of Ceres with a cornucopia/bowl or her head.  I had never seen her like this before, all the other depictions of Ceres I had seen she wore a veil like an old matriarch.   I could have cared less about old bag Ceres until she got that bowl on her head and once she had that headdress on I felt connected to her. She now was connected to all the women I have seen in the world carrying items on their head.  She was mother earth not the bitter woman I remembered from school who went crazy when Hades took her daughter.

I am very attracted to the pictures of the Yakshinis in the lecture. So beautiful! They remind me of the depictions of Daphne in Greek mythology. For me, Daphne is a real heroine.  She transformed into a tree to avoid being raped by Apollo.  I am very intrigued by these tree women.

Lastly, I was scolded last week for putting a book on the pristinely clean floor when I was taking a meditation class.  When in Laura’s lecture she talked about how ground has become thought of as dirty instead of spiritual as we move away from the sacred feminine to the masculine I thought it is again.

Daphne and Apollo

Ceres in Sicily with Cornucopia on her head


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Erich Schiffmann at LMU

Erich Schiffman’s book, Moving into Stillness  was the first book I ever bought on yoga.  I bought it at Santa Monica yoga when I was dabbling into yoga in the late 90s.  I have had two of his dvd’s for about a year.  Although I never met him I always liked him and considered him one of my teachers.  He came to LMU a couple of Saturdays ago to talk.  For me,  It I was like getting to meet a rock star.  He was a wealth of knowledge and really enhanced the way I have been feeling about a lot of things since he taught that day (especially listening to Source). I think now that I looked at these notes I will go to Exhale this week and take another class with him.

Erich said after 46 years of studying yoga he still feels like a beginner.  He says it is fun to stay in learning mode.  It is much better than being bummed out that you are not enough.

Yoga is a lifestyle.  It is the style you live your life not in the future but in the now. Learn to be open to learning.

When teaching keep it as simple as possible.  Dumb it down.  The more complex the idea the more you need to dumb it down.  Work hard to make it as simple as you can.

It is freeing to say you don’t know when you don’t know.

He said he started practicing yoga because his surfing idols were practicing yoga.

He talked of how he wasn’t awarded an Iyengar certification because the Iyengar people in London said he was teaching a cocktail yoga.

He teaches Freedom Style Yoga where you take all you’ve learned and channel them intuitively.  You learn how to channel your practice.  If you feel the energy the energy will tell you what to o.  You have to trust what is right.  Channel your practice and channel your life.
Trust yourself to give expression to the wisdom of the all.  Let go of your conditioning.

He says this is the format of his class”

1.      1. Erich talks
2.       2. Meditation – He says meditation is the main practice.  To quiet the mind, think less, use wisdom of the universe to be your common sense, everyday meditate.  If you have difficult time meditating do it in bed.  Keep meditating all day long.  Get comfortable enough to be tension free.  Quiet the mind without going unconscious.  Relief turns to calm.  Universal energy is love the actually energy is lovely.
3.      3. Asana Practice
4.       4.Free Form
5.       5. Relaxation/Seated Meditation

Most people don’t really want to know the truth.  If you don’t know the answer don’t rely – ask big mind for clarity.  Mentally shut up and get guided by your favorite awakened one.  Blow off explaining.  Do what your inner feelings tell u to do.  Deepest feelings are the most trustworthy.
Meditation is inner listening.  Follow inner prompting.  Pause and ask don’t rely on conditioning. Follow your inner prompting – pause and ask.  Think less and listen more.  Use your thinking to think less and blow off explaining it. Dare to be guided.  We all have a deep calling.  Be wirelessly connected, listening for guidance.

In asana practice we teach people the technique so they feel the energy.  It is important to learn the technique but it is also important to let the energy guide you.  Run the energy lines.  Of course, less experienced people need direction.  Listening to instructions trains people to be attentive.  The instructions help people be in the now. 

When teaching first insist on something specific.  Give people specific choices.  Look around and see if people are embodying the instructions.  Following directions (learning to detach from your conditioning)  You can’t sell out all the time.

In the free form portion of Erich’s class there is no human teacher yacking at you.  He started by first asking the students if they wanted to do another pose before savasana to do it.   In freeform you guide people to know how to practice.  Listen inwardly for guidance.  Learning to channel your asana practice is a bridge to doing it all the time.  Listen and wait for the glow and do the one that’s glowing.

Get a notebook and a pen you like.  Get into a pose like straddle or pigeon and scribble what happens and take it into class and see if it works.  Memorize the patterns like learning a song.  Writing it down doesn’t wreck the meditation.  Be online with big mind.  Start taking notes with practice.  He says the better teacher he is the more time he spends inn the yoga room.  It helps to practice with friends.  The easiest way to start is with something you already know.  Linger and shift.

With meditation you can lie down or sit up.  The more you do it the more you want it.

Yoga is not just PE, or therapy.  Yoga is a lifestyle.  That’s not just air you’re breathing.  It’s spirit, love, fragrant flowers.  Talk to awakened ones and open your mind.  God is all. Consciousness is being.  You are the specific and unique expression of the all. You are the omnipresent looking at infinity.  When you see someone else and recognize them – the all is seeing itself – and you recognize yourself in the one you see.  There is hope because there’s no enemy only totality.  There is no enemy so you can relax.

Wikipedia says:

Erich Schiffmann (born 1953, Los Angeles, California) is an accomplished American Yoga Master widely known for his award-winning video, Yoga Mind & Body, featuring actress Ali MacGraw. He is the author of a best-selling book, Moving into Stillness.[1] He has been teaching yoga for more than twenty years.
At age 18 Schiffmann sent a handwritten letter to Krishnamurti and was accepted to study with him in England.[not specific enough to verify] He deepened his practice of yoga with Desikachar andIyengar in India, and with Dona Holleman and Vanda Scaravelli in Europe.[2]
Yoga Society president Leighanne Buchanan called Schiffmann one of the "innovators" in Yoga Journal's fall 2000 issue.[3] He has produced numerous yoga instructional videos and conducts yoga workshops and teacher training throughout the United States and internationally. He currently resides in Santa Monica, California.
He is married to fellow yoga master Leslie Bogart, daughter of film actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

5 Skandhas - 6 Lokas

I am taking a class at the Shambhala Center in Mar Vista called:

Who Am I? The Basic Goodness of Being Human

with Shastri Pamela Bothwell & Marilyn Moore

I wanted to learn more about Meditation and I had been looking at Shambhala a long time.  When I got interested in the 500 hour yoga and meditation teacher training at Spirit Rock and I saw on the application you had to document meditation training I thought, ok, let me take a class.  So I signed up for this one.
I don't always feel that comfortable in the Shambhala class.  Everyone else in the class our Shambhala Warriors (I think that is what they call themselves) to mean that means they are dedicated to Shambhala and I am just taking a class to learn about meditation because I am interested it for healing.  I feel a bit like an outsider not one of their group.  But that is ok.  I am an insider a lot so I might as well experience being an outsider every once and a while.

This week we had to read a chapter from Chogyam Trungpa's book  The Sanity We are Born with: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology.  The chapter was on the development of the ego. 

Here is what wikipedia has to say about Chogyam Trungpa
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (WylieChos rgyam Drung pa; February 28, 1939 – April 4, 1987) was a Buddhist meditation master and holder of both the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, the eleventh Trungpa tülku, a tertön, supreme abbot of the Surmang monasteries, scholar, teacher, poet, artist, and originator of a radical re-presentation of Shambhala vision.
Recognized both by Tibetan Buddhists and by other spiritual practitioners and scholars[1][2] as a preeminent teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, he was a major, albeit controversial, figure in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism to the West,[3] founding Vajradhatu and Naropa University and establishing the Shambhala Training method.
Among his contributions are the translation of a large number of Tibetan texts,[4] the introduction of the Vajrayana teachings to the West, and a presentation of the Buddhadharma largely devoid of ethnic trappings. Regarded as a mahasiddha by many senior lamas, he is seen as having embodied the crazy wisdom (Tib. yeshe chölwa) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.[5][6] Some of his teaching methods and actions were the topic of controversy during his lifetime and afterwards.

So here are my notes:

"We have a saying in Tibet that, before the head has beem cooked properly, grabbing the tongue is of no use."

alayavinjnana - original sin

"We do not have to be ashamed of what we are.  AS sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds."

"Fundamentally there is just open space, the basic ground, what we really are.  Our most fundamental state of mind, before the creation of ego, is such that there is basic openeness, basic freedom., a soacious quality; and we have now and have always had this openness."

"Confused mind is inluned to view itself as solid, ongoing thing, but it is only a collection of tendencies, events. In Buddhist terminology this collection is referred to as the five skandas or five heaps."

1st Stage
Open Space Belonging to No one
Vidya - Intelligence
At a point we become self-conscious
Avidya - unintelligence "This avidya, ignorance, ignoring the intelligence the culmination of the first skandha, the creation of ignorance form.
Birth of Ignorance

2nd Stage
ignorance born within
"It is an attitude that one is a confused and separate individual, and that is all there is to it. One has identified oneself as separate from the basic landscape of space and openness."

3rd Stage
Self-Observing Ignorance

2nd Skandha is Feeling
we have solidified the whole space into the other

3rd Skandha is Perception-Impulse

4th Skandha is Concept
"...we label things and events as being good, bad, beautiful, ugly, and so on, according to whuch impulse we find appropriate to them."

5th Skandha is Consciousness

Six Lokas or Six Realms

deva loka - the god realm (a place filled with beautiful and splendid things)

asura realm - realm of the jealous gods

human realm - whole development begins to feel rather heavy and stupid

animal realm - he would rather crawl or moo or bark than enjoy the pleasure of pride or envy.  This is the simplicity of animals

hungry ghost realm or preta realm - a desperate feeling of starvation

hell realm

"...suddenly this mental jigsaw puzzle reupts and his thought patterbs become irregular and unpredictable.  This seems to be out state of mind as we come to the teachings and practice of meditation.  This is the place from which we must start our practice."

The five skandhas according to Wikipedia

The sutras describe five aggregates:[d]
  1. "form" or "matter"[e] (Skt., Pāli rūpa; Tib. gzugs): external and internal matter. Externally, rupa is the physical world. Internally, rupa includes the material body and the physical sense organs.[f]
  2. "sensation" or "feeling" (Skt., Pāli vedanā; Tib. tshor-ba): sensing an object[g] as either pleasant or unpleasant or neutral.[h][i]
  3. "perception""conception""apperception""cognition", or "discrimination" (Skt. samjñā, Pāli saññā, Tib. 'du-shes): registers whether an object is recognized or not (for instance, the sound of a bell or the shape of a tree).
  4. "mental formations""impulses""volition", or "compositional factors" (Skt. samskāra, Pāli saṅkhāra, Tib. 'du-byed): all types of mental habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices, compulsions, and decisions triggered by an object.[j]
  5. "consciousness" or "discernment"[k] (Skt. vijñāna, Pāli viññāṇa,[l] Tib. rnam-par-shes-pa):
    1. In the Nikayas/Āgamas: cognizance,[5][m] that which discerns[6][n]
    2. In the Abhidhamma: a series of rapidly changing interconnected discrete acts of cognizance.[o]
    3. In some Mahayana sources: the base that supports all experience.[p]
The Buddhist literature describes the aggregates as arising in a linear or progressive fashion, from form to feeling to perception to mental formations to consciousness.[q] In the early texts, the scheme of the five aggregates is not meant to be an exhaustive classification of the sentient being. Rather it describes various aspects of the way an individual manifests.[7]

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mastering Composition - Art Center

I took a class at Art Center in July and August at Art Center on Composition. It was interesting.  We used the same shapes to illustrate some design principles.

Figure Ground Ambiguity

Figure on Ground





Asymetrical Balance

Govind Das on Bhakti Yoga at LMU

Govind Das came to LMU a couple of Friday nights ago to talk about Bhakti Yoga.  I had gone to his Bhakti Yoga Shala a week before in Santa Monica and took a yin class taught by his long lanky Australian wife.  The yin class didn’t really leave any strong impression on me.  But the Shala was definitely a hot spot  full of young  white Westsiders searching for and perhaps finding spirituality. It was a hub of energy and excitement with beautiful young seekers hanging outside of the space talking about cosmic ideas while other eager cuties practiced within.  An all donation based studio, there was a box for your money in the back.  It was the only studio I’ve ever been to that I didn’t need to sign an insurance waiver.

Meanwhile a week later at LMU, Govind Das came into class a fit handsome young white man with light brown dreadlocks in weather worn Indian dress and spoke to a class of eager yoga students.

Here are my notes from my lecture:

Bhakti comes from the word Bhaj is to join

In Bhakti we Join with Love and Devotion to God

We wish To vibrate in tandem with the universe

We can talk about it but never get to it

A bhakti practices to worship God

Kirtan is singing and dancing ecstaticly.  One sings and dances to worship God.

The mind is a terrible and wonderful master

Don’t forget the central truth that god lives in your heart

He mentioned Shraddha but I don’t understand my notes so here I defer to wikipedia

Shraddha" is a Sanskrit word which has no equivalent in English, at best it can be understood as faith with love and reverence. It means devotion or passion towards anything or god.

Shraddha may refer to:

  • Śrāddha (श्राद्ध, shraaddha), Hindu ritual performed for one's ancestors, especially deceased parents.
  • Śraddhā (श्रद्धा, shraddhaa), the Sanskrit term for "faith", in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Can be a girl's name in countries like India.

Faith is yourself

The great spirit dwells in your heart

A great swami said “The God inside of you and the God in the universe are one and the same.”

Smaranam – constant remembrance of the divine

I got some help for a hare Krishna website to understand this concept better:

"Some way or other, if someone establishes in his mind his continuous relationship with Krsna, this relationship is called remembrance. About this remembrance there is a nice statement in the Visnu Purana, where it is said, "Simply by remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead all living entities become eligible for all kinds of auspiciousness. Therefore let me always remember the Lord, who is unborn and eternal." In the Padma Purana the same remembrance is explained as follows: "Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord Krsna, because if someone remembers Him, either at the time of death or during his span of life, he becomes freed from all sinful reactions."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 10

"Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam. The word smaranam means "remembering." If we chant and hear, then remembrance will automatically come, and then we shall engage in worshiping Krsna's lotus feet (sevanam). Then we shall engage in the temple worship (arcanam) and offering prayers (vandanam). We shall engage ourselves as Krsna's servants (dasyam), we shall become Krsna's friends (sakhyam), and we shall surrender everything to Krsna (atma-nivedanam). This is the process of Krsna consciousness."

Teachings of Queen Kunti, Chapter 5

We practice devotion through constant remembrance on the divine.

Spirit is behind everything.

We need to train ourselves to see.

The yogi uses mantras to help us remember.

We get lost in Maya the illusionary belief that what you see is all there is.

Yogic practice helps wipe the dust.

Asana/Meditation/Diet/Pranayama help us purify

After yoga class… after fasting … we are more intune with the energy of the universe

In the bhakti yogic perspective life is beautifully real and needs to be celebrated.

Bhakta is the devotee

God is your beloved

The philosophy is  you Love God so much you want to serve God. You wish to give yourself in loving service to God.

The greatest joy is a human being serving a divine in a loving way. It feels sweet in the heart.

You offer in service to other people.  The yoga is total devotional service.  You teach as a servant to the Divine.

God lives inside of us. We use deities to remember we have these qualities inside ourselves. As human beings we tend to forget our divine qualities.

Ganesh = health, well-being and wisdom,

Hanuman = service

Kali = fierceness

Lakshmi = beauty, grace

Ram= dharma and higher purpose

Ishta Devata

Chose one form of God devote oneself to live at the highest  vibration you can live at

A little more help from the internet on Ishta Devata

Within Hinduism, an Ishta-deva or Ishta devata (Sanskrit iṣṭa-deva(tā), literally "cherished divinity" from iṣṭa "desired, liked, cherished" and devatā "godhead, divinity, tutelary deity" or deva "deity") is a term denoting a worshipper's favourite deity.[1]

It is especially significant to both the Smarta and Bhakti schools wherein practitioners choose to worship the form of God which inspires them the most. Within Smartism, one of five chief deities are selected. Even in denominations that focus on a singular concept of God, such as Vaishnavism, the ishta deva concept exists. For example, in Vaishnavism, special focus is given to a particular form of Vishnu or one of his Avatars (i.e. Krishna or Rama), and similarly within Shaktism, focus is given to a particular form of the Goddess such as Parvati or Lakshmi. The Swaminarayan sect of Vaishnavism has a similar concept, but notably differ from practically all Vaishnavite schools in holding that Vishnu and Shiva are different aspects of the same God.[2]

Guru is one who removes the darkness. It can be a person or a universal guide. The role of the Guru is to point us in the direction we really are.

Yoga can be thought of as an identity shift.  We take a human body and we get spiritual amnesia and forget we are a soul.  We identify with the material world and attachments and desires.

Yoga is a re-identification process.

Bhakti is traditionally a heart practice. Set up an altar. Have a morning practice.

As I change the way I look at things, things begin to change

In all other yogas there is a trying to get somewhere in Bhakti yoga we just give over to love.

Bhakti is measured by enlightenment.

The greatest joy is through service.

Just becoming a das … a servant of love.

Other philosophical systems are about trying to will yourself, more is better, deeper is better in Bhakti there is just service and love.

Kirtan is to praise.  It is the heart beat of bhakti.

Namasan Kirtana.  Nam = names ,  San=Congregation