Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge, wisdom and the arts, she is the active energy of Brahma: the Lord of creation. Without her dynamic energy there is no creation. She wears white clothes a white garland and is represented by the moon, she is purity itself and worshiped by other Gods. She is the remover of ignorance and laziness, she carries no weapons to destroy lower natures as other Gods do as she is beyond that.
Invoking her name bestows creativity, intelligence, a pure intellect, self control and success in scholarly and creative projects.
I sit in Padmasana (lotus pose) on my mat and repeat
Jaya Saraswati jaya Saraswati jaya Saraswati Pahimam
Sri Saraswati sri Saraswati sri Saraswati Rakshamam
and I am thinking
Dear Saraswati please save me and protect me, come to the garden in my heart, be with me in my practice, let me find creativity as I move from one asana to another. Let me find the self control and the discipline that I need and the intelligence to understand this body, this mind and find the truth of the pure soul that resides within.
Pahimam meaning save me, Rakshimam meaning protect me.
The Sanskrit language comes from within, and by chanting the prayers with the correct pronunciation you are activating your inner knowledge. It creates a specific vibration which activates a specific chakra (psychic energy centre.) Chanting this mantra activates the Swadhisthana chakra, (we will go into the chakra system at a later date) and by this activation we are beginning to eliminate ignorance and all impure qualities. These vibrations in turn echo out into the universe giving positive and peaceful energy to Mother Earth and all living beings. Quite clearly at this time when the Earth is suffering from the effects of mankind, and human and animal suffering is heightened, we need to chant more!
Thank you to all of you who attended Satsang on Sunday, it was a wonderful morning.
Om shanti shanti shanti
smiling from the heart.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I'm holding my first Satsang at the Yoga Mangala studio; Kathmandu this Sunday the 27th November at 6.45am. Satsang meaning truth in company is a beautiful and meaningful experience. The session will begin by candlelight in silent meditation, a short explanation on why we should meditate will be given. Then as we emerge from our journey inward, we will begin chanting a mantra dedicated to Lord Ganeshe; the elephant headed God who helps us overcome the many obstacles on our paths. Moving on to a very beautiful sun and moon healing mantra, and finishing with Om Namo Narayanaya- Prostrations to Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the world. Chanting this mantra will bring more harmony and peace into the world. Those of you in Kathmandu please come and share a joyful experience and after we share breakfast together. Those of you in other places in the world, join with me in spirit at this time, sending out our peaceful and joyful vibrations around the world.
"Without the help of meditation, you cannot attain knowledge of the self. Without its aid, you cannot grow into the divine state. Without it, you cannot liberate yourself from the trammels of the mind and attain immortality.
Meditation is the only royal road to freedom. It is a mysterious ladder which reaches from earth to heaven, from error to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to bliss, from restlessness to abiding peace, from ignorance to knowledge. From mortality to immortality." Sri Swami Sivananda
The image of the meditation cave above was made at Pashupatinath, one of Nepal's most important Hindu Temples. The simplicity of such places always touches my heart and remembrance of the great feelings of peace I felt in Swami Vishnu-Devananda's cave on the banks of Mother Ganga, come flooding back to me. I honor those sadhus and holy men dedicating this human life to the practice, spreading peace in a vibrational form. I honor anyone who takes the courage to start their journey inward to find their true selves, a journey full of obstacles, highs and lows. Meditation is no easy practice, the mind is a wild tiger we are trying to tame, but there is no reason to give up- the meditator can make two vital mistakes; giving up before the end, or not starting at all! So join me, take courage, sit cross legged, spine straight, close your eyes, regulate your breath and begin your journey, and I honor you in your practice.
Om shanti shanti shanti
smiling from the heart :-)
Thursday, November 17, 2011
“Adapt, Adjust, Accommodate, if you can do that everything will be ok.” The words of Swami Sivananda. I have really been thinking about this over the past few weeks, especially being a yoga teacher, watching your student’s progress into the practice and over coming their difficulties as they are physically adapting, adjusting into the posture and accommodating within it, or accepting it. I feel a sense of wonder when I see a student really accepting and surrendering, especially when they may be having difficulty and once they have done this, the progress starts, they are an inspiration to me. We can’t fight the postures, we improve in yoga by that acceptance and relaxing into the asnas, both physically and mentally, not by pushing or forcing the muscles and joints when they aren’t ready, learning to use the breath to control the mind into adjusting correctly, accepting where we are on a daily basis and accommodating to what is going on around us. Then the magic starts to happen. As I think about Swami Sivananda’s words, he didn’t just mean from a yoga asna point of view, but from a whole life point of view. So many times when we would like something to happen and we try and force it, it just goes against us, but when we accept the position we are in and try to adjust to that instead of the other way around, things seem to go much more smoothly. We are bound by karma to our life situations here on this planet, but by tuning into those 3 little words from Swami Sivananda we can make what might seem like not such a good situation, into one where maybe we will end up blossoming, as he said if you can do that then everything will be ok!
A Winter Warmer, Almond Milk
1 cup of fresh warm milk or Soya milk
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of cardamom powder
Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
Soak the almonds overnight, remove the skins after soaking, put all ingredients in a blender, blend on high speed and drink right away. If you don’t have a blender the almonds can be bashed quite easily with a pestle and mortar, and this is better for the environment- no electricity needed!!
This is a really tasty drink that is great in the mornings after meditation and before practice; it improves general energy and ojas (spiritual force or life energy.)
Om shanti shanti shanti :-)
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Swami Vishnu-Devananda was born in Kerala, South India on December 31, 1927. He is recognised as a world authority on Hatha and Raja yoga, author of many books including the all time best selling, The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, and Meditation and Mantras, dedicated to the teaching of yoga and the Sivananda yoga teacher training courses, and dedicated to spreading the message of peace, I feel as if I owe this man so much, although I never met him in the flesh, but through my practice, I feel him with me. Feeling his heart beat as he gave the greatest gift of opening my heart deep and wide to this wonderful gift of yoga. This enigmatic man left his physical body on this day, November 9th, 1963. Reading the stories of how he was known as the “flying Swami,” as he flew over the troubled areas of the world, in a small plane one of his disciples gave to him, dropping flower petals and messages of peace, inspired me so much. He was a very close disciple of Swami Sivananda whom he called his Master, he would say; ‘My master touched me and opened my eye of intuition, and all this knowledge returned to me from past lives.’ In 1953 Swami Sivananda sent Swami Vishnu to the West with the words ‘People are waiting,’ to spread the word of yoga, here he taught so many students, setting up Sivananda Centres in Canada, USA and the Bahamas. His dream was also to revive the ancient teachings of yoga in his homeland, India, where he inaugurated the Ashrams in kerala and up in the Himalaya on the banks of Mother Ganga, which became the place of SwamiJi’s Jala Samadhi.
He worked tirelessly to instil a strong and practical understanding of yoga and Vedanta into the people who came to him, and after a very strong vision he began The True World Order, which aims at promoting Peace and understanding.
Please join me in spirit tonight when I honour and give thanks to SwamiJi for all that he has done for the world and for me personally, when at 7.30pm Kathmandu time I will light many candles in his honor and repeat for 1 hour his personal mantra, OM NAMO NARAYANAYA; prostrations to Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the world.
Om Namah Sivaya Swamiji
Thank you so much for all that you have given us
Om shanti shanti shanti.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Savasana, the posture we always begin and end the class with. After my class at The British School, Kathmandu on Tuesday, a new practitioner came to me at the end and said how much they needed 'that' and how relaxed they now felt or 'spaced out' in their words, and it made me think again on how important Savasana really is, maybe in todays society it is the most important asana of all, and one that we all can do. I focus a lot on teaching shcool teachers, for one reason they have a very stressful job, but also with the thought in mind that if I can share peace with them, if I can bring more peace to them, it will vibrate out through them to the students and children they are teaching, in hope of a more peaceful world. Today there are so many different types of Yoga, but we really musn't forget the root of why the ancient sages of India developed the practice in the first place, to reduce or prevent suffering both physical and mental to the human existence, not to create more stress to the body and mind trying to reach impossible goals due to social pressure and pride. We simply must relax.
When the body and mind are constantly overworked and over stimulated the natural efficiency of the body to rejuvenate is diminished, today it is very hard for people to relax properly when there are many stresses and stimulations from all angles forced upon us, especially for those of us living in a city. Proper relaxation is natures way of recharging one's energy, it rejuvenates our cells, skin, hair etc and allows our mind to find peace. Even while trying to rest the average person expands a lot of energy both physical and mental through tension, in fact we don't realize how much tension we are holding until we are properly relaxed. In a day so much energy may be consumed in just a few minutes by frustrations, anger, bad moods or irritation, this has a disastrous effect on both the body and mind. During Savasana we mentally work through the body starting with the toes up towards the head mentally relaxing each part, then messages are sent to every internal organ which in turn relax, and to the mind which becomes calm. Then we can begin to let go of any problems one has been experiencing. Savasana also allows the prana, (vital energy) to flow freely within the body, which is very important after asana class when you have produced this energy, it heals every part of us. So lie back in Savasana, turn your mind inward and relax...... relax........ relaaaaaaaax
1. the body should be straight making sure the head is not twisted to the side.
2. the back is flat on the ground or on your mat.
3. legs straight but not tense about 1/2 a meter apart.
4. toes relaxed and falling out to the side.
5. arms about 45 degrees angle from the body.
6. hands relaxed and palms face upward.
7. try to relax the entire body no tension held.
8. focus the mind on your breath.
9. try not to dwell on external activities.
10. breathing is quiet and always through the nose.
11. never strain the breath.
12. try to stay in the exact present moment and enjoy!
take this time for this ancient special practice in savasana, recharge yourself, take this time just for yourself, it wont be long until you really do feel the benefits I can promise you that, and I really can't stress enough how important it is.
Om shanti shanti shanti
smiling from the heart