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Showing posts from January, 2015

Yogi Gumby

Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me, as long as you love me, it's alright. Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me. You've got the power to turn on the light! -The American Breed, 1968

Groovy, baby! Let's talk about grooves: you know, like the grooves in a record, inset patterns and ruts. Yogis, you guessed it: samskaras! Oh yes, we yoga people love to talk about getting to the root of our samskaras (mental and physical patterns and habits).

Sometimes the way we groove can get us bent all out of shape, like Gumby on a really bad day.

Yogis have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves to bend and shape themselves into a more peaceful, balanced state. One of them deals with moving to a new groove: pratipaksha bhavana. Roughly, this term means "opposite thoughts." It's kind of like changing the radio station. Here, I'll throw you a freakin' bone, people: Patanjali uses the word twice in the Yoga Sutra. One sutra [2.33] says, “Vitarkabadhane pratipaksha bhav…

Trust in the Face of Loss

When faced with loss, many of us feel untethered and frightened. Depending on the magnitude of the loss, the amount of time it takes to regain our peace and confidence can range from an hour to a decade. In some cases, the feeling of loss persists for a lifetime, even after we've made peace with it.

I experienced a deep personal loss over two months ago, and in working through it, I am finding some comfort in new depths of faith and trust. This week I was reading in the Yoga Sutras about the Hindu and Buddhist word for "faith," Shraddha. I did some research on the translation of the word and watched an uplifting talk about the role of faith in yoga practice, given by Dr. Douglas Brooks. I learned that the word shraddha is more similar to the concept of trust than to religious faith. It does include the notion of faith in God, but not in a God who regularly intervenes in our affairs. The God alluded to in the Yoga Sutras is a transcendent God, more akin to Paul Tillich&#…

Making Friends With Your Mind

I don't think we can calm the mind--I believe the best we can do is learn to live with it. -Judith Lasater

What do you think? Do you find it easy to shut off your thoughts and restrain your mind? When you have a drink or smoke a joint or pop a Xanax or do your deep breathing exercises, are you calming your mind specifically? Is it your mind you are calming, or is it your body? When your body is calm, do you perhaps notice your mind a bit less or find it less offensive? How do your mind and body work together to create your experience of what it means to be calm?

In working with the discipline of Yoga to improve our mental and physical health, we learn about the inter-relatedness of the parts of ourselves we may otherwise think of as separate. Yoga philosophy looks at five main aspects of our being that interconnect and cooperate to form our human experience. We can read about these five aspects in the Taittiriya Upanishad, the foundational source of the pancamaya or five dimension…