Thursday, December 20, 2012

thank you!


Om Namah Sivaya
Namaste Everyone, hope everyone is well and happy and enjoying the festive season.  I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for allowing me to continue to share my passion of yoga with you on our journeys together.  I am far from perfect in my practice and everyday is a continuation of learning and discovery and with every lesson I teach an opportunity, not only to work for healthier bodies and minds for ourselves but also to allow that vibration out into the world, in hope of making a more peaceful world.  I truly from my heart thank you all for that. 

So here I am looking forward to our journeys continuing into 2013 with fresh creativity on and off the mat and inspirations for a year full of joy, peace, love and illumination. 

Dates for your diaries:

Wednesday 2nd Jan, classes start back as normal.  Class schedule is as normal unless otherwise stated.  For the month of January my free posture clinic that I run after the class at pranamaya yoga – Moksh will change to a half an hour theory class.  We will look at the four major paths of yoga, Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Raja yoga and Jnana yoga with an overview of all four on the last Wednesday of the month.  These sessions are free and I suggest you bring a note pad and pen.

Tuesday 8th Jan, The class normally held at The British School, 4.45-6.15pm will for this week only be held at the yoga mangala studio.  I have 3 places left, first come first served so book in by email and if you need a map to the studio let me know.

Thursday 10th Jan 5pm-6pm Feature class of the month – Yoga Nidra to be held at the Yoga mangala studio, 4 places available. RPS450
Come and immerse yourselves in a full hour of complete relaxation, a great way to make a gentle affirmation to yourself and start of the New Year being kind to your body and mind.  The whole class is held in savasana our relaxation pose and you will be guided how to completely relax both mentally and physically.  Sounds good to me!

Tuesday 15th Jan  Classes resume at The British School as normal, 4.45-6.15pm.  Please do bring a blanket with you and as the mats now are rather worn at the school I do suggest you bring your own.  I will bring a flask of hot lemon for a little warming before the class starts.

Saturday 2nd Feb marks our third Satsang at Pranamaya Yoga studio, Moksh.  Satsang means truth in company as we come together as part of the sanga (community) and share our energy uplifting one another.  It is a chance to be together and become one using meditation and sound as a tool.  Chanting Kirtan (devotional songs) is way to connect back with yourself and find your inner joy and can be a very powerful experience, people have been chanting these songs in the same way for thousands of years, so come and enjoy the experience.

Dates for future retreats at Neydo Monastery, Pharping and days out at Sri Aurobindo Ashram to be confirmed. 

Any other enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact me, although I will be out of Internet contact from the 22nd Dec until the 2nd Jan

For now be the light that you are

Om shanti  Mangala / nicky.
Om Lokha Somasta Sukinho Bhavantu
May all living entities find harmony, balance and peace
www.yogamangala.blogspot.com
Mangala / Nicky

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Be The Master of Your Own Destiny



In Swami Sivananda’s teaching about being the master of your own destiny, he tells us that bliss is our right; happiness is our heritage not sorrow, peace not restlessness, health not disease.  True everlasting ecstasy belongs to us; Immortality is thy birthright, but not mortality.  Strength not weakness.  Pain, sorrow and ignorance are illusory.  Bliss, joy and knowledge are true and they cannot die.  He tells us that we are the architects of our own fate and that we are the masters of our own destiny, that destiny is our own creation.  So where do we look for this everlasting happiness and bliss, where do we find it how do we create our own destiny?
We maybe think if I could have a bicycle my life would be easier, then I would be happy.  If I could get a promotion at work I would feel more important, then I would be happy.  If I eat that chocolate and that delicious piece of cake, I will definitely be happy.  If I go to Paris or this country or that country I will see so many wonderful things, I will be happy.  We seem to always be looking on the outside for our happiness, to external objects and places or events.  But this happiness is not lasting it is impermanent and fleeting.  It binds us and brings us added desires that lead again to pain and sorrow.  Once we get the bicycle we see a scooter and oh how much easier that would be, but with it brings added stress as we have to maintain it, buy petrol and what happens when we see the car!  We get the promotion at work, then we have added pressure and no time to relax and see our families, definitely more stress is coming with the promotion.  We eat the chocolate and the cake and what happens when it is gone?  It was a fleeting moment of happiness then we feel sad we don’t have the chocolate anymore plus we weigh half a kilo more and we have polluted our body and mind.  Moving country to country, yes there are so many wonderful things in Paris, but if real happiness resides in Paris why are not all Parisians happy?
These things bring an unlasting happiness.  Everything around us is constantly changing, the world, our bodies our emotions, who we are, one minute we are the mother, then a wife, then a daughter, a yoga teacher, it is constantly different in relation to whom we are speaking.  So if this is all fleeting and unreal, where do we find what is not changing and real?
To find this we have to look into our hearts, which is an easy thing to say but how do we actually look into our heart?  Swami Sivananda says that to do this we have to exert ourselves in our practice, to clear the dust from a dirty mirror to see our true nature and find our inner well of joy and bliss.  We have to still the chatter of our mind to be able to see clearly into our hearts.  And to do that you must practice practice practice!  Do your pranayama, your asanas and your meditation and then do it more!  Swami Sivananda tells us to have courage to stand up like a lion and self exert look inward not outward, have faith and control your destiny, choose differently, make a change, self exert and you will find your happiness and your well of peace; which is your birthright.  So roar like a lion and do your practice!  
Om shanti
mangala / nicky

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Foods that Heal.



Our world is a treasure trove of herbs with therapeutic properties.  Ayurveda came from the sages of beginning less time, the seers, the wanderers and tribals, who through intuition and observation discovered the many properties of plants and their products.  So often it is the case today that when one has a problem from a headache to something more dramatic such as depression, we are reaching for the packet of little pills with a ‘quick fix’ solution, without giving thought to what Mother Nature can do for us.  These boxes of little multicoloured sweeties can in fact be doing us more harm than good, being completely manufactured.  As Yogis we like to stay as close to nature as we can, keeping a pure diet as much as possible turning to the fruits of the Earth to nurture us.  Auryveda holds these secrets of health, that in knowing allow us to still the pattern of the chattering mind and see our true nature, bringing the up most bliss and ecstasy.  Because we may be feeling sad, reaching for that bar of chocolate or box of popcorn is no solution, in fact it is making matters worse.  Once the chocolate has gone, then what?  We feel sad because it has gone and also we have filled our bodies with pollutants that effect those mind waves in a disturbing way and also can bring pain to the body, bringing further sorrow.  So what to do?  Stay as natural as you can, eat organic produce and enjoy the food your are eating by taking time over it.  We can have wonderful treats too that are perfectly natural and good for us at the same time.  Here are a few ideas for common ailments and a tasty treats too! So enjoy.

The common cold:  mix ½ teaspoon of turmeric with fresh ginger, lemongrass, ground black pepper and fresh basil leaves, in boiling water and drink like tea without straining.

Soar Throat: mix fennel greek seeds with salt water and gargle.

Headache: drink 1 teaspoon of honey in warm water daily in the morning time.

Cough: drink fresh apple juice mixed with a ½ teaspoon of jaggery (natural sugar)  eating grapes also provides strength to the lungs but avoid drinking water straight after.  Sucking on a piece of cinnamon helps to control a cough.

Insomnia:  massaging the soles of the feet with mustard oil provides calmness and a good sleep.

No Chocolate but Yoghurt!  For a sweet treat tries not reaching for those chocolate bars and cakes etc and go for organic natural yoghurt mixed with natural honey with some fruit or muesli, it’s delicious.

Alternative to Hot Chocolate: mix ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder with a teaspoon of honey, into boiling water.  A bit of ground black pepper goes down a treat too!

Stay healthy and happy everyone, just breath and let the universe take care of everything else!
Om Om Shanti Om
mangala / nicky

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Breath of God.


We all are suffering with the three afflictions; fear of being ignorant, we all want knowledge, fear of death, and fear of sorrow, we all want to be happy.  So how do we work toward this so-called happiness or limitlessness, how do we transcend ourselves?  We can transcend this suffering by learning our true nature by understanding the reality about ourselves, to become free from our limitations and by following one of the four main paths of yoga; Jnana yoga, we need to look at and study the philosophy of Vedanta.  Vedanta teaches us how to be completely content with ourselves.  Veda is the scriptures or knowledge and anta means highest, so from the Veda’s comes the highest knowledge, the truth.  We are all coming and going continually in our births, death and rebirths, but the truth never undergoes any change, Vedanta teaches us to recognise that I am that.  That the divine is within us, our individuality is false it is just the ego that is this ‘I’ and ‘mine,’ but ultimately we are all one.  Vedanta also teaches truth about the Universe, stars, planets and the milky ways and that we are just visiting in these temporary vehicles called our bodies.  It teaches us the relationship between God, the Universe and ourselves and that out of these three only one is real.  So what is the benefit of the study of Vedanta, well to lesson the misery in the Universe, not just for us but for all living entities.  When we become happy the world around us becomes happier. 
Vedanta comes from the Veda’s of which there are four; Rik Veda which is more like poetry, Yajur Veda more like prose, Sama Veda covers music, the kirtan we chant and Atharva looks at the rituals like puja’s etc.  Each Veda contains the Upanishads, the ultimate truth, like a summery of the whole.  They weren’t written as such; they have always been, with no beginning and no end, like gravity has always been Einstein didn’t invent it.  Sages in meditation received the mantras because of their purity of mind; they saw the knowledge that was already there.  The medium was in Sanskrit and was passed down verbally through generation to generation and people are still chanting today in the same way as of 1000’s of years ago.  In the beginning there was only one Veda but a sage called Badarayana thought it would be too difficult to preserve like this so split it into four.  They all exhaust themselves in teaching us about our true nature, that we are happiness, we are truth, existence and bliss, that all the happiness that we are searching for is actually within us already. 
As Yogis there are three main scriptures we should look at, the Upanishads; the breath of God, the Bagavad Gita from the mind, and the Brahma Sutra’s, which thread the two together and clear the contradictions between the two.  When all these are looked into with humility and patience, then the knowledge will come, when we shed our ignorance like an onion skin, you will find the knowledge and well of happiness is already there within you. 
So dive into the breath of God, dive into yourself.
Hari Om Tat Sat
mangala / nicky

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Deepavali



"I love my friends neither with my heart
nor with my mind
Just in case my heart might stop
mind can forget
I love them with my soul
Soul never stops or forgets"
Rumi


Be the beautiful light that you are
Hari Om Tat Sat

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A dedication to our dear SwamiJi


Our dear Swami Visnudevananda left his physical body on November 9th 1993.  He dedicated the majority of his life to tirelessly giving teachings on the vast science of yoga and working toward world peace.  I dedicate this blog post to him, although I have never met him in the flesh, he has had a vast impact on my life.  It was Swami Sivananda that sent him off ‘to the West’ with ten rupees in his pocket, telling him that people were waiting.  Swami Visnu or SwamiJi as he was lovingly known arrived eventually in America and finally founded the Sivananda schools of yoga through Canada, America and back in India, where he began the teacher training courses, without which I wouldn’t be sitting here in the same place as I am now.  He had a great sense of humour and was loved so much by his students.  He offers solace, hope and guidance and above all joy and love to all who listen to him and stays with us always in our hearts and within the many books and recordings he made. 
After class at Pranamaya yoga centre Kathmandu, Friday 9th Nov 2012, we will have half an hour silent meditation session to honour him, finishing with a chant for peace.  Class begins at 6.00pm until 7.15pm, meditation will start at 7.30-8pm, please come and join me.  For now I will leave you with an extract from the book Vishnudevananda Upadesa, teachings of Swami Vishnudevanda, available from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre.  Om Shanti.



“Yoga means union.  It shows us how to unite all our life-forces by directing them inward.  The goal is happiness and happiness lies within.  You can go anywhere in the world, to nightclubs and restaurants, to London or Paris and still not find happiness.  If happiness were to be found in Paris, then all Parisians would be happy.  If happiness is at home with the family, then you must all be happy – but are you?  Happiness does not exist outwardly, even here.  Happiness, the kingdom of heaven, lies within.”  Swami Visnudevanda

“Whatever we see, whatever we hear, whatever we smell and taste we accept as real, not illusion.  In daily life, we think that what we perceive is real.  Only when you begin to discriminate do you understand that perception is not real.  You can have televisions, video games and all the modern conveniences.  But really there is nothing there.  It is all empty like a shadow, it is a mirage.  Most people today behave like a man running after a mirage in the desert – he thinks he will find water but instead he dies of dehydration.  So don’t run after a mirage.  God is the only reality, the only true thing is God.”  Swami Visnudevananda.

Have a blessed day and hope to see you on the mat,
Mangala / nicky


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Teachings from Khenpo


Listening to the teachings from Khenpo, one of the high monks at Neydo Monastery this weekend was a blessing.  Buddhism has always been a deep interest of mine since first coming to Asia in 1994, and being a student of Vedanta philosophy I often see similarities.  In fact sitting there crossed legged listening to the teachings if I closed my eyes I could have thought I was in a Vedanta theory class, until I opened them again and saw the speaker was a Tibetan monk.  So what is Buddhism?  Well what it really comes down to is ones view and ones behaviour.  A Buddhist will practice what we call in Vedanta, Ahimsa, or non-harmfulness.  This means causing no injury to any other life form in thought and deed.  Even if a mosquito is biting you, we have to skilfully learn to brush it away without hurting it.  Our thoughts are very powerful things that create vibrations so it is important to be mindful of what we are thinking.  There are 3 jewels, which are often depicted within Buddhist art, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sanga.  Dharma means spiritual teachings or the spiritual path and Sanga meaning community.  We are encouraged to take refuge in all three, but taking refuge in the Dharma means to train ones mind, it is important not to just follow blindly but to enquire about and contemplate the teachings before absorbing them.  Our minds are polluted by three main pollutants; ignorance, anger and hatred, and greed and pride.  When the mind is polluted we cannot get out of samsara, the circle of birth and rebirth.  So by training our mind we can aim to give up our negative qualities and turn them into positive qualities.  But this is not possible overnight, it takes practice, we can’t just give up pride just like that, again and again we have to practice patience and to develop compassion.  Compassion is the antidote.  If we can understand our own sufferings and pain then it is easier to be compassionate to others.  It is not an easy thing to have deep compassion straight away, we need to work at it and develop the wish to give happiness to all sentient beings.  Establishing compassion on a deep level will begin to bring long lasting happiness and not a temporary happiness that comes from external objects.  We have to inquire about ourselves, we can do this through meditation, to know what it is about ourselves that has to be abandoned and what is to be taken up or developed.  Khenpo says that staying is solitude is an essential part of practice to come to such understandings.  So going on retreats is important to be able to be with ourselves and dive deep into our hearts.  He advises us to dedicate all our good merit and all the good things that we have achieved to all sentient beings and not to waste a minute and to practice in a meaningful way. 
So there you go, roll out your mat, light a candle and sit with yourself, meditate on yourself and see what you can find, then all the wonderful blessings you have dedicate to all living entities.
Pranamaya yoga centre are running weekend retreats to Neydo Monastery each month please check their website for details; www.pranamaya-yoga.com
Have a beautiful day
Om om shanti om
Mangala / nicky.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yoga your home practice companion.


Yoga your home practice companion,written by leading teachers from the world-renowned Sivananda Yoga Vedanta School, is a wonderful and invaluable guide with really great photographs to illustrate the postures and all their variations.  Not only does it give you asanas for every level of practitioner but also their benefits, there are lovely anatomical drawings to help deepen your understanding and ideas to unlock the health secrets of Hatha yoga and help you find your inner peace.  In fact through this book you can learn how to introduce yoga into your whole lifestyle.  There is insight into proper breathing and meditation and ways you can gradually transfer to a yogic diet with yummy recipes.  And most importantly it teaches us how to relax properly, an important need for us all living in modern times to maintain the health of our body and mind.  This book really does become a real friend and has great easy to follow sequences for a 20 minute, 40 minute or a 60 minute practice, so you don't have to worry about forgetting what comes next when you are not in class.  This book is a must, I love it! 
ISBN 978-1-4053-4918-5 

Also do join me this weekend 13th and 14th of October for our retreat at Pharping, Nepal.  The retreat is held at Neydo Tibetan Monastery, a beautiful place in itself with wonderful Buddhist artwork.  You will have two yoga classes on both days, talks with the Khenpo of the monastery (a Tibetan Buddhist Monk.)  Talks on the artwork of the monastery, its symbolism and meaning, and walks to nearby meditation caves.  For more information and booking form please look at the pranamaya webstie at www.pranamaya-yoga.com  

Om shanti mangala/nicky

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pictures speak louder than words



"Every child has a life force within, give them the opportunity to express themselves."  Sri Swami Sivananda.
You can support the children at Sri Aurobindo Yoga Mandir Ashram, Thankot, Nepal, by coming with us on our next visit, date to be confirmed.  Buying their vegetables, milk, yoghurt and other produce from their organic farm on Saturdays at 1905 from 9am-12pm, or at the Summit Hotel on Sundays at 9am-12pm.  Or contact them directly on sriaurobindo@gmail.com  Tel :977-1-4312085

See you all on the mat, 
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
mangala/nicky

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Body, Breath, Mind = Bliss @ Sri Aurobindo Ashram


This coming Sat the 29th September marks our second visit to Sri AuroBindo Yoga Mandir Ashram; about 40 minutes driving from Kathmandu.  This event I have called Body, Breath, Mind = Bliss as through our day of kriyas, pranayama and asana's we aim to reach that blissful state.  At least the last time we visited several months ago, certainly we all left with big smiles on our faces, maybe that was due to such delicious food!
The program for Saturday is as follows:
8.30am  dept from Pranamaya yoga studio, Moksh, Patan
9.15am  Arrive at Ashram
9.30am  Practice of Kriyas: cleansing techniques; Udiyana Bandha and Agni Sara.  Pranayama: breathing techniques; Abdominal breath, full yogi breath, Kapala Bati, Anoloma Viloma, Sitali and sikali.  Asana class, covering relaxation, Suryia Namaskar, learn step by step Sirshasana; headstand, and the 12 basic postures of the Sivananda open class.
12.00pm Fully organic vegetarian lunch, grown at the Ashram
1.00pm  Free time to relax in the Ashram grounds, visit the shop and order any organic vegetables, yoghurt, milk, and any other products the Ashram is producing.
1.45pm  Performance of Bharatnatym dance, classical Indian dance originating from the Southern state of Tamil Nadu
2.45pm  Herbal tea break
3.00pm  Guided Meditation and healing mantra RA MA DA SA
4.00pm  pay and collect vegetables etc
4.30pm  Dept for Kathmandu

Anyone wishing to sign up for the day please do so at info@pranamaya-yoga.com
Have a blessed day om shanti shanti shanti
Mangala / nicky

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spaces That Heal.


Often when people visit my simple and small shala they often comment on how lovely the space is and how it’s a place where they can relax and feel happy.  So how do we create a healing space?  When we visit a temple the whole space has been created to represent the body and our chakras, which are energy centres within the body.  That is why the footprints are outside; we start with the feet and work through to the inner sanctum which is representing the Sahasrara chakra our highest energy centre located at the crown of the head.  All three qualities of nature are in balance and we gain a sense of harmony by just being there, the temple space contains a shakti; an energy that uplifts us, and as we walk around the sanctum in a clockwise direction we can tap into that energy.
We are all familiar with the Chinese idea of Feng Shui of balancing spaces to create harmony, there is also the amazing tradition from India of Vaastu Shastra which comes from the great Rishi Brahmarishi Mayan, it deals with the cosmic science of energy and matter, light and sound, time and space and the manifestations of subtle energy into gross forms.  In his 892 sutras he enlightens us on the workings and intricacies of making a divine space.  Vaastu Shastra is an advanced science, too complicated for this little brain to handle!  It is rendered in technological language for God forms, temple structures, residential buildings, village and town planning and all are based on a science governed by a mathematical order and not according to whims and fancies.  But reading the sutras written on the subject or the most sacred literature is complicated and not enough to get close to the truth and build a living being – a Vastu house.  We need to find a Guru and we need to meditate, because only through the practice of yoga, of purification and raising inner awareness, can we find the balance needed to create that healing space.  But here are some tips to make a start;
  1. Try to ensure the centre point of your home or space is unobstructed because it is the most sacred place, it is the lungs of the space, without lungs we cannot breath, without the breath there is no life.
  2. A pond or fountain at the North East corner will strengthen peace in your space as this is the water zone.
  3. Having your main door or entrance at the corner of the building will loose a lot of energy.
  4. Skylights are very healthy as they help cosmic energy to enter the space.

For me the space I live and teach in are very important in the respect that I have to be able to feel them, all spaces have an energy and all spaces can be transformed through the energy you put into them.  I like to spend some time just breathing within the space before knowing what to do with it.  Maybe some knowledge from the past is coming, maybe this small brain has a little Vaastu knowledge deep in its depths somewhere, trying to make head and tail of the explanations is overwhelming but sometimes a little bit of intuition goes a long way.
For now have fun re-organising your spaces the Vaastu way!
Om Om shanti Om
Mangala / nicky :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Offerings



Making offerings can take many shapes and forms, from making a mental offering to placing elaborately made objects at the feet of Dieties.  For me the simpler the offering the more sincerity and feeling of devotion there is.  For me to make an offering is to acknowledge there is a greater force, an awareness of an absolute and to show pure love for that absolute.  It is an acknowledgment of an existence on a higher level, a higher plane to find residence in peace.  It is an endeavour working on a spiritual plane to work towards everlasting peace for all living entities.  Which is something that any endeavour connected to the material plane alone such as democracy, capitalism, socialism and communism will not bring.  I make mental offerings on a daily basis; before I begin my meditation I bring Lord Ganesha to my mind, to help me overcome the obstacles, Saraswati to help bring divine knowledge, Lord Siva to destroy my lower existence and help raise my awareness, Lord Visnu to bring balance and peace, and Swami Sivananda and Swami visnudevananda for their blessings.  I mentally offer them flowers everyday.  I light incense and candles at my humble shrines and to me this brings more meaning into my daily life.  Offerings are best made with little, sincere and humble intentions instead of being flamboyant shows made with selfish intentions.
For Swami Sivananda's birthday last saturday, I wrote quotes he had made and hung them up on the rooftop with colourful materials to blow into the wind for the whole of humanity and universe.  I visited 3 temples in my local area and meditated, and at night chanted kirtan on the roof looking at the stars, paying homage to him.  Swami Ji how can I ever thank you for bringing so much happiness into my life, for that there are not enough words.
I will leave you with some words from Swami Sivananda's book 'Way to peace and bliss.'
'That person who has developed universal love is nearer and dearer to God.  They will never hate, abuse or show contempt towards anybody.  That sort of love alone is the end and aim or goal of life.  Lord Buddha was an ocean of love.  Your highest duty is to develop universal love to a maximum degree.  If you want to attain perfection, if you wish to enjoy infinite peace and bliss, if you want to become immortal and develop pure divine love, cultivate universal love by serving and loving all, for love alone will take you to your goal, love alone can purify your heart, love alone will bring you liberation, and love alone can carry you to the other shore of bliss and immortality, the shore which is beyond grief, pain, fear, and darkness.  Purify your thought, speech and action in the fire of love.  Bathe and plunge deep in the sacred waters of love.  Taste the honey of love.  Become an embodiment of love.'
Have a wonderful week full of prem; love, om om shanti om
nicky/mangala

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wonder Tonic

As the monsoon continues here in Kathmandu, I'm starting to hear a few sniffles here and there and complaints of some body aches.  I myself woke up yesterday feeling a wee bit feaverish so looked up an Ayurvedic recipe to keep away the gremlins!  I had one of these drinks in the morning and one in the evening, and today woke up feeling fantastic and full of energy again.  So here's how to make it-
Ground black pepper, 
Fresh ginger cut into small pieces,
Fresh basil leaves
Half a teaspoon of tumeric

Place all the ingredients into a cup and add boiling water like making a cup of tea and let it brew for a few minutes before drinking.  If you are in need of a tonic no matter where you are this is your ticket to a rejuvenated you!
Tumeric has so many health benefits it is a natural antibiotic, natural anti-inflamitory and antiseptic.  Speeds up the healing of wounds, helps to prevent gas/bloating, helps stomach ulcers, is a great tonic for the skin.  It improves asthma and digestion, helps to prevent cancer or to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, is a blood purifier, aids in fat metabloism and weight managment and aids in preventing alzheimers.  I have to admit this tonic drink didn't tickle my taste buds so much but the effects of it are well worth it, so hold your nose and down in one so to speak!  You could always add a little fresh lemon juice to improve the taste.
Saturday 8th of September marks Sri Swami Sivananda's birthday, so join me wherever you are in an hour of meditation in honor of this day.  I have decided this year to go to a lovely Siva Temple out at a place called Dhulikhel, about an hour from Kathmandu to embark on some private meditation and Bhakti yoga, but do join me in spirit to mark the occasion and spread peace back into the world.
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
may all beings find harmony and peace
om shanti shanti shanti
smiling from the heart.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Having fun as the Asvattha Tree


The Asvattha Tree is the Sanskrit name for the sacred Pipal tree; a relative of the Banyan.  Asvattha meaning that which will not be tomorrow.  Normally we don't see the roots of a tree as they are under the earth, but by the very fact that the tree is there, we know that the roots are also there, as otherwise how does the tree stand?   This Asvattha Tree is said to be indestructible, standing with its roots above the earth  and its branches are below, its leaves representing all Vedic knowledge, those who come to know this tree, come also to know the knowledge of the Vedas and the triangle of life; Samsara.  Some of the branches of the tree go up and some go down, representing some of our actions as becoming and some as not.  The tree is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita as a tool from Lord Krishna to explain to Arjuna the rules of cause and effect and how we are governed by the 3 qualities of nature, the Gunas; sattva, rajas and tamas, that of purity, action and laziness.  By our practice of yoga we try to bring the 3 gunas into equilibrium to form perfect balance and be able to transcend ourselves.  Working with our inversions, essentially sirshasana (headstand) and sarvangasana (shoulderstand), can be a process that teaches us so much, rather than worrying about getting to that perfect posture we would like to put on a postcard and send to someone, it is the whole process of learning these poses that makes all the difference.  It doesn't matter how long it takes and the journey may seem very long at the beginning, but giving ourselves the time and being patient is key to the process.  Often it is the case we put so much pressure on ourselves that we have to be better, stronger, more flexible etc that we forget the benefits from simply going slow and taking the asana step by step and not racing onto the next stage before we are ready.  Remember often it is the process that teaches us most and not the final position.  Inversions teach us a lot of patience and acceptance, some days they may come easy and some days not so, we have to learn to accept that.  They teach us how to overcome fears that we are facing and build on our confidence, someone practicing the headstand rarely suffers from a nervous disposition.  And turning ourselves upside down can help us see things from a different perspective.  Don't worry if you think you can't do it at first, the very fact that you are trying means you are doing it.  So often in class I hear from my students "I can't do that!" As I look at them and reply 'You are doing it!.'  The effort is there, so the results will be there, it isn't about how you look in the pose as long as we are doing it safely, but suddenly when you approach a difficult situation in life with confidence that may surprise you, where did that confidence come from?  From practicing that headstand.  When you endure something with more grace than you expected in a work or home situation, where did that endurance come from? From practicing that headstand.  So have faith, dig deeply into your heart find your beautiful branches and leaves and turn them upside down for a while, you just might see something you didn't see before.  We are limitless as to what we can achieve but we must have patience and acceptance to get to that final goal, be courageous and battle on my friend, become the Asvattha tree and be strong and wonderful.
Free headstand clinic after class every wednesday at Pranamaya yoga studio, Moksh, Patan, Kathmandu; 9.30-10.45.  Clinic follows class.
Just breath and let the universe take care of everything else
om om shanti om
nicky/ mangala :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yogi Borscht

I found this wonderful classic of spicy borscht, but being a practitioner of mediation every day and not wanting to create any other thought patterns, I have enough of them already,  I decided to turn it into Yogi Borscht instead, leaving out the onions and chili.  It was my dinner on Sunday evening as I sat on the rooftop with my husband, watching the clouds roll over the sky and turn to night over Kathmandu, it was a truly delicious feast! Recipe as follows:
2 large raw beetroots
1 large apple or cooking apple
1/2 red or green pepper
few drops of olive oil
2 litres of water
1 tsp cumin seeds
fresh parsley and oregano
ground black pepper
lemon juice
few sprigs of rosemary
natural yoghurt
(can add a few soya beans but not essential.)

Place the chopped vegetables into a large saucepan with the oil and water, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, you can add some vegetable stock also.  Stir occasionally.  Stir in the cumin seeds, parsley, oregano, black pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice.  Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes.  With a masher give the mixture a good mash, add a little water and cook for a further few minutes, leave to sit off the heat for a few minutes before serving.  Serve with a spoonful of natural yoghurt on the top and a few sprigs of rosemary.  Food for the gods!!
Beetroot is a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants, including a rich supply of vitamin C. Vitamin C must be replenished every day, it helps to promote fine bone and tooth formation and helps to increase resistance to infection and bacterial toxin.   It helps to lower blood pressure and prevent heart and liver disease and it tastes delicious!  So enjoy your Yogi Borscht,
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings find harmony, balance and peace
om om shanti om
nicky :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shanti Dakshinamurti


At the beginning and end or all my classes I always chant the opening or closing mantra’s followed by Om shanti shanti shanti.  Shanti means peace, but why chant it three times?  The first time we chant it is to bring peace to our own being, both mentally and physically, the second is to bring peace to all other living entities, and lastly we chant it to bring peace to Mother Earth to free her from all disasters and tragedies.  You can also look at it from the point of view of chanting once for our minds to bring peaceful thoughts that cause no harm to ourselves or others, once for our way of speech that again there is only peace in what we are saying, and once for our hearts, that our hearts be full of peaceful love.
Chanting in Sanskrit brings out certain vibrations that reverberate into the world around us, so chanting shanti mantras allows that peaceful vibration to lighten the world around us as well as bring peace to ourselves.  In this day and age this chanting is a necessity.  Of course there are more shanti mantras than just chanting shanti, from the Vedas there were 10 main shanti mantras, which should if possible be chanted daily.  The following one I chant daily and is used at all the Sivananda centre’s and Ashrams around the world.

Om sahanavavatu
Saha nou bhunaktu
Saha viryam karavavahai
Tejasvinavadhitamastu ma vidvisavahai
Om shanti shanti shanti

Meaning let the Lord protect both the teacher and the student, by giving us the Vedic knowledge may you protect and nourish us.  Let us enjoy the benefit of that knowledge.  Let me put effort into what the Guru is teaching and the Guru put effort into what they are teaching.  Let the knowledge stay fresh in our memories and let there not be any misunderstandings between both student and teacher.  Om peace peace peace.

The image above is of Lord Dakshinamurti, he is an aspect of Siva in his form of the Guru of all types of knowledge, especially of knowledge of thy self or jnana.  This aspect of Siva is his personification as ultimate awareness, understanding and knowledge.  The first teacher of yoga and destroyer of ignorance as he removes the darkness with light.  Thursdays are a significant day to start any educational endeavours and it is the day to give thanks to the Guru, so tomorrow begin your day with a positive sankalpa or resolve to learn something new remembering to chant the shanti mantra first before you embark on your learning.
Happy Shanti
Om shanti shanti shanti have a beautiful peaceful day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Love Mum



Recently I was asked by the lovely power yoga teacher Roshini what my latest ‘Aha’ moment during my yoga practice or whilst teaching my class, was.  I have just returned to Kathmandu after spending a month back in the UK with family, which was a very precious time.  Normally when I’m in my usual routine my daily self-practice takes me up to 5 hours, split over two sessions.  When I am away I try and maintain this as much as possible, but when staying with family that you haven’t seen for nearly two years, this becomes near impossible.  They need your time and it is important to have time with them as one lives far away and can’t just pop over for a cup of tea and a chat!  After a few days though I started to begin to feel a little frustrated, as I could feel my body was different my mental state, different, after not as much practice, thus was my ‘aha’ moment.  Whilst having a piece of cake, which I normally don’t eat with my mum, she commented on how lovely it was to be together and spend time just being and yes sharing a cake which she loves, and it came to me whilst off the mat that this time was as much my yoga practice as when I’m on the mat breathing, struggling, flowing, pushing myself and relaxing.  Yoga is all about giving and sharing and if I couldn’t give this time to my own Mum then it would be a poor thing really.  Swami Sivananda always said, ‘Serve, love, purify, meditate and realise.’  Sometimes we can’t always be in our routines, and other people’s enjoyment and happiness must come first.  So during my stay in the UK my yoga practice became much shorter in the terms of pranayama, asana and meditation and more about giving time to people and concentrating on their enjoyment, this is as much a part of union as the other practices, this was serving, giving and loving, together we made something meaningful.  Now I just have to concentrate on losing the two and half kilo I put on, eating cake with my mum!!   Yoga is a way of life and not just about being in the studio and what tricks we can do physically, yoga is becoming one and there are many means of achieving this.
Classes have started back at Yoga Mangala Studio, Pranamaya Yoga and The British School, Kathmandu, please do contact me on info@nicolazammit.net for the latest schedule, days out and retreats.  Looking forward to seeing you all on the mat, 
Om om shanti Om
nicky :-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Home


People have often asked me; ‘where is home,’ as I tend to be a bit of a Nomad and move around the world fairly often and my response would have to be, home is in your heart.  Your heart is a place where you can always find refuge and shelter, take stock of who you are and find peace.  If we could all spend a little more time looking within instead of externally we would find a little more happiness.  For the next month, I will be returning home to the house I was born in and to spend some quality time with my parents who I simply don’t get to see enough, our parents are precious, they give us everything, they gave me this body in which I am travelling, they took care of me when I needed them and they give unconditional love, so I am anxious now to get back to them and give them all I can in the little time I have with them back in the UK.  So for the next month there will be no more blog posts, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the practitioners that have been practicing here with me in Kathmandu for the last year, this year I have seen many men join me for class which has been wonderful to see hearts open the practice despite the struggle sometimes, for those who have helped me set up the Yogamangala shala  and have blessed this sacred space with their hard work and sweat on the mat, and to all my practioners from the past who have been keeping in touch and supporting this blog.  I honor all of you as you continue to inspire me as someone who loves to share the beauty of yoga, let us continue our journey together.  Do please join me again come August for more postings of everything yoga, a new class schedule and more events and outings coming up.  For now I will leave you with extracts of a beautiful poem by Swami Sivananda titled ‘A cup of Bliss.’  Enjoy July and hope to see you all on the mat in a month’s time, keep up the practice and shine from within,
Om om shanti Om
Nicky

A cup of Bliss

The silvery moon, the brilliant sun are my eyes
The rivers are my veins
The stars, the mountains
The herbs, trees and plants
The Vedas and the Devas
Are my expression and my breath
My exhalation is the universe
My inhalation my dissolution
The world is my body
All bodies are mine
All hands, ears, eyes are mine
The fire is my mouth
The wind is my breath
Energy, time proceed from me
All beings throb in me
All hearts pulsate in me
Infinite I am.   

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Harmony


In the Bagavad Gita, Arjuna asked Lord Krishna – ‘one who is worshiping you in all the forms or one who recognises his immortal nature; who is the greatest devotee?’

Working as a yoga teacher I am often asked which yoga class should I attend, which is best for me?  In today’s world there are so many forms of yoga classes from Sivananda the classical approach to very modern power yoga and everything else in-between, and all should be respected in the appropriate manor and at the appropriate times.  So how do you choose a class?  It is written in the scriptures that all the yoga’s we have to practice simultaneously, that all the yoga’s should work in harmony.  By this however they are referring to the four paths of yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga.
Raja Yoga is the science of physical and mental control, it offers a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought, it is the 8 limbs of yoga that lead to absolute mental control.  Hatha yoga is a branch of Raja yoga, which helps one to control the body, energy, senses and mind.  Through Raja yoga we can gain control of the physical body and the subtle life force called prana.  When the body and energy are under control then meditation comes easily.  The 8 limbs consist of; Yamas- restraints, Niyamas- observances, Asanas- postures, Pranayama- Breathing, Pratyahara- withdrawal of the senses, Dharana- concentration, Dhyana- meditation and Samadhi- the super conscious state of bliss.
Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion or divine love; this includes prayer, worship and ritual that channel and transmute the emotions into unconditional love that lead you to the state of Samadhi.
Karma Yoga is the yoga of selfless action, it purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly without gain or reward, and it helps to sublimate the ego.  Volunteer work would be considered to be karma yoga or just simply doing something for someone else without any expectation of self-gain.
Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge and wisdom, this is considered to be the hardest path.  It means studying Vedanta philosophy and inquiring into the nature or our true selves, jnana yoga leads the practitioner to unity and dissolves the veils of ignorance.
Every individual has their own temperament and will be naturally attracted to one of the paths more so than the others, but it is very important to combine the four to bring balance and harmony to your practice and to reach your goal.  Most yoga classes that one would attend may only concentrate on the postures of yoga, giving that classes are only for a short period of time, but try to combine some different types of classes to get a more balanced approach, classes that would include the other practices as well as postures.  So when someone asks me which class, I tend to suggest trying all of them and see which one is going to suit you best, then combine a few others with your main practice to get a more rounded approach, giving time for such things as chanting and meditation to harmonise your four paths, and turning your practice of yoga into a whole lifestyle instead of just an hour and half on the mat.
All yoga’s should work harmoniously, all of us should live in harmony with each other, Om Loka Somasta Sukhino Bhavanto; may the whole world live in harmony and balance.
Om shanti Om.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stay Positive


In today's world sometimes it is hard to stay positive when there are so many seemingly negative things going on around us such as the pollution of the world, poverty, wars and selfishness.  However negative emotions can invariably have an adverse effect on our bodies, the same as the food we eat effects our emotions, the emotions we feel effect our bodies.  Feelings of anger, frustration and jealousy can induce the body to produce more cholesterol, bile production becomes unbalanced and impares digestion and blood stagnates in the liver reducing its ability to detoxify the body.   Fear can cause disorders to the nervous system, the body becomes acidic and causes knots in the stomach, a feeling of loss of energy or life force and a loss of sexual energy can be felt.  Sadness and depression can cause breathing problems, constipation and decreased oxygen in the blood.  Worry, anxiety and mistrust can induce difficulty eliminating waste produced by digestion.  Hate, cruelty and impatience can cause heart palpitations, chest pain and high blood pressure.  So as you can see negative energy not only vibrates from within to the world around us, but also causes a whole host of physical problems within, not only is it unhealthy for the mind and the external world but also it is unhealthy for us internally.  We all have our ways of trying to stay positive in our daily lives but at some point those negative emotions do flair up and we have to find a way to bring them back down and turn the negative to positive.  For me personally the practice of yoga has brought so many positives to my life, firstly learning how to simply breath properly has helped immensely, remember when you are small and you have fallen and cut your knee and your tears are welling up, your mum tells you to breath deeply, well it works and is a simple technique you can easily apply in life.  Swami Vishnudevananda says, 'mental health is more important than physical health.  If the mind is healthy the body will be healthy.'  Through the practice of yoga we can find a very happy place, turning our minds inward to simply spend time with ourselves is very important, to reconnect with all of nature that surrounds us, to learn our lessons from the birds and animals, sometimes it is the mind that is our real enemy and we have to learn to conquer it.  Associating with the inner pure self can bring much peace and strength over the mind, the practice of yoga sharpens the intellect, thins out the ego and purifies the mind to which there is much pollution.  For me the practice of yoga is such a beautiful thing, I couldn't live life without it, life is yoga and through yoga I have been able to turn many a negative emotion to a positive one, making myself and those all around me more healthy.  As the great poet Rumi says, 'Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.'  So here is to everybody taking up the practice of yoga, learning to heal themselves and the world around them making the world a more joyful place, hoping to see you on the mat for a whole session of nothing but positivity!
Om Om Shanti Om 
love and light always

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sing the song Divine


During my yoga classes there is always an emphasis on relaxation as well as use of the breath and yogic postures, and I am using ideas of sound to help the practitioner become more mindful and bring them to a higher awareness.  The concept of relaxation and mindfulness can be a concept far too abstract for many of us, our minds constantly jumping around and it can be difficult to let go and allow ourselves the time to relax.  Being in Savasana is time for the body to heal and rejuvenate, for many of us it is the best time of the practice, whilst for others they can become fidgety and restless as the mind is jumping.  We can take this idea further into our postures and try to use the same relaxation techniques whilst holding poses, this can prepare the mind into a calmer state ready for a final relaxation in savasana.  Emphasis on sound within the practice of yoga can help to open awareness and enrich a more deeper meditative process.  Before there was anything there was a sound - OM, sound creates a natural vibration that can work through our chakras (energy centres) and help us feel the rhythm of life.  It encourages us to listen to our own inner nature and bodies through our practice, and can be a complete massage for the mind.  Today there are so many different styles of yoga, but we musn't forget the reasons for our practice, to go back to the source, to find our true nature, to return to OM.

"Sing the song Divine and let the face shine with light." Sri Swami Sivananda.

looking forward to seeing you all on the mat to share our natural vibrations of sound, om om shanti om.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Where to find me in June


Monday      8.30-10.00am Sivananda Open Class Yoga Mangala Studio
                    6.00-7.15pm   Sivananda Open Class Pranamaya Yoga Moksh

Tuesday     10.00-11.30am Prenatal Class Yoga Mangala Studio
                    4.45-6.15pm   Sivananda Open Class The British School Patan

Wednesday 9.30-11am     Sivananda Open Class Pranamaya Yoga Moksh
                    4.30-6.00pm  Gentle Yoga  Yoga Mangala Studio

Thursday   9.45-11.15am Prenatal Class Yoga Mangala Studio
                    4.30-6.00pm  Sivananda Open Class Yoga Mangala Studio

Friday        8.30-10.am     Sivananda Open Class Yoga Mangala Studio
                   22nd and 29th:
                   5.30-6.45pm   Sivananda Open Class Pranamaya Yoga Moksh

"There is a force in the Universe, which if we permit it, will flow through us and produce miraculous results."  Gandhi Ji

Om Loka Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
may the whole world find balance, harmony and peace
om shanti