Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Using our Emotions to reach Oneness.

If we use our emotions to try to reach the ultimate goal of yoga, that of union with the supreme or universal consciousness, this is called Bhakti Yoga, and is an essential part of our practice.  The practice transmutes our lower emotions turning them into devotion or to feelings of joy, or we could say it turns all the unpleasantness into pleasantness or the negatives into positives.  We as human beings naturally have emotions, some that come fast and some that have a negative effect on ourselves and those that surround us, but learning how to channel those emotions properly can lead to a state of liberation.  Our lower emotions or those that are referred to as poisons in Buddhism, those of hatred, anger, greed, ignorance and pride shouldn’t be suppressed, this in turn would cause disease to the body as well as the mind, but it is learning how to turn those negativities around to lead us to a positive goal and find divine joy, peace and infinite love. 
Sometimes we can feel very alone with these lower emotions but the practice of Bhakti yoga can take those feelings of solitude away as we move away from our ego and become one with the consciousness that is surrounding us and in turn this releases us from these feelings, our fears and anxieties and allows us to feel part of something whole and beautiful.
To me I feel that it is pretty obvious that today the worlds major religions have failed in bringing people closer to the truth, to a place where they can feel safe, loved and the bliss of taking refuge in a higher power, this is where so many people are resorting the use of substances to get this feeling, with disastrous effects on the health of their whole system both body and mind.  We don’t need to look for answers in this way, this is not the right way, all we need to do is let go and look inward for an inner state of blissful consciousness.  One way to do this is by the singing of Kirtan, the chanting of mantras, prayers and songs to the divine.  It has been scientifically proven that singing each day only for a few minutes can improve digestion, posture, reduce stress and elevate our moods.  Our emotions can be very intense right, if we are really angry over something we may not sleep at all or be able to eat, our whole day and night can be effected and it is not something we can just switch off from as easy as that.  But the practice of kirtan or other forms of Bhakti yoga can take us quickly away from those troublesome emotions.  Even the same for the opposite end of the scale, when we fall in love also sometimes we can’t eat, sleep etc, and also in this case bhakti can keep us on the middle ground and enable us to operate with balance.  I believe that every one loves to sing but through life experience and in many cases bad schooling this joy has been stubbed out of us.  Secretly when you are alone and you find yourself singing doesn’t it make you feel better? Maybe because we have allowed our egos to become to obsessed with the ideas of perfection and how we are perceived then we are afraid to sing, but if we think of how big the planet is, how big the universe is, how big the whole cosmos is, we are a tiny tiny speck so a little singing is not going to harm you, but it is going to bring you back to harmony and balance, harmonising our emotions.  Chanting Kirtan consists of working with basic patterns of sound, that work their way through our clogged minds, and eliminate all the worries, strains and fears that have been deposited in the mind over years allowing them to gradually crumble away.  Inspiring emotions are raised that can be maintained and elevated often to a point of natural ecstasy, it gives us a good clean release of pent – up emotions which can accumulate from day to day, it is a way to clean our souls, no matter how your voice sounds or how shy you may be, to all the singing of Kirtan offers a means of touching upon bliss. 
What could be better?
Join me every Friday after asana class at Patan Studio, Moksh, Kathmandu for a glorious session of Kirtan and its free so why are you not there already!!
Asana class 9.15-10.30am and Kirtan 10.45-11.15am every Friday, start the weekend well!
Wishing everyone bliss in finding their voice!
Mangala / Nicky

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Joy of Cucumbers!!

Cucumbers can make a big impression on a yogi’s diet, part of the melon, pumpkin and courgette family it is packed with goodness and naturally distilled water which makes it superior to normal water bringing hydration for the body.  After a great asana practice why not tuck into a cucumber, re-hydrate and also enjoy these other important benefits to take care of our bodies our ultimate home for our very being. 
A cucumbers skin has a high percentage of vitamin A (good for cell repair, immune system and good vision) so always best not to peel it.  Also there is a good percentage of vitamin C (good for healing of wounds, immune system and to prevent cancers) folate, manganese and anti-oxidants.  In lesser amounts it contains potassium, B complexes, sodium, calcium and phosphorus. 
Folate or folic acid (vit B12) is wonderful for cell repair, for the heart and keeping the brain young, sounds good to me!
It is really great at helping reduce or preventing water retention, hence when we have puffy eyes putting slices of cucumber over the eyelids will bring back softness and radiance!
It is soothing for gastric and duodenal ulcers.  It can help regulate blood pressure for both low and high because of its minerals and traces of sodium.
Cucumbers can help to build our connective tissues hence our muscles, bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons, as it is an excellent source of silica.  And if you are suffering with any arthritis or rheumatism it can really help to counter uric acid that builds up in the joints causing inflammation and pain.   This is true also for anyone suffering with asthma or gout.
As well as all this it encourages detox as the toxins are removed through urination, which is encouraged from the water intake from the cucumber.
Give your immune system a boost with a cucumber!
Here is a lovely recipe for cucumber salad, it’s best to choose nice dark green ones that are firm to the touch, and I am talking about the cucumbers!!

1 large cucumber
1 tablespoon of unsalted cooked peanuts chopped in half
2 teaspoons of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
Salad dressing-
½ cup of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of water
½ teaspoon of sea salt or rock salt
½ teaspoon of black pepper
½ teaspoon of dark Soya sauce
Pinch of chilli

Cut the cucumber keeping the skin to the required size, add the peanuts, seeds and dressing and allow to sit for 10 mins or longer before serving.

Enjoy your cucumbers!!
Eat well, breathe well, sleep well, and live well!
Om Shanti shanti shantih