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About Yoga

Yoga is the World’s oldest holistic system of self-development, integrating body, mind, and spirit. The science of Yoga began its development in India over 5,000 years ago and has evolved into a contemporary mind / body health and wellness system with practices ranging from purely physical fitness to a holistic lifestyle grounded in spiritual principles that expand consciousness and cultivate compassion.

Yoga encompasses a diversity of teachings and techniques, yet all schools of Yoga commit to cultivating health, fostering personal growth and supporting spiritual transformation. Yoga is highly adaptable. “The only authentic Yoga is the one that works for each person according to circumstances and needs, and there are many possibilities.” T.K.V. Desikachar

Four Paths of Yoga

  • Karma Yoga - the active path. Selfless service. Involves working in the world and giving of oneself. Great for people with an active temperament. Think Mother Theresa, Habitat for Humanity, Peace Corps...
  • Bhakti Yoga - the path of love and devotion. Emotional energy channeled in devotion, chanting, prayer, church choir.
  • Jnana Yoga - the philosophical or intellectual path. Considered the most difficult of the four paths. Cultivates mental clarity and discriminating wisdom.
  • Raja Yoga - the Scientific Path or 8-Fold Path
    • Yama & Niyama ~ Ethical Living
    • Asana ~ Yoga Postures
    • Pranayama ~ Breath regulation
    • Pratyahara ~ Withdrawal of attention from the senses
    • Dharana ~ Concentration or One-Pointedness
    • Dhyana ~ Meditation or One-Flowingness
    • Samadhi ~ Ecstasy or Self-Realization
  • Hatha Yoga - a form of Raja Yoga that emphasizes postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. Hatha Yoga, practiced in most Yoga classes, is the most common form of Yoga in the US.

Health Benefits of Yoga

  • Yoga helps to create an optimal environment for healing through relaxation and focused breathing.
  • Distracts mind and body from habitual pain messages.
  • Builds strength and flexibility in a relaxed way.
  • Relieves deeply held tension in the body and mind.
  • Increases circulation and oxygen intake.
  • Improves postural alignment and range of motion.
  • Studies have indicated that people with chronic pain who are active have fewer problems with pain.
  • Yoga empowers people to manage their pain.

Stress Benefits of Yoga

  • Reduces
    • Muscle tension
    • Blood pressure
    • Pulse rate
    • Respiratory rate
    • Insomnia
    • Depression and anxiety
    • Harmful effects of chronic stress
  • Improves
    • Cardiovascular efficiency
    • Respiratory efficiency
    • Energy levels
    • Digestion and elimination
    • Strength and endurance
    • Flexibility and range of motion
    • Muscle tone
    • Posture
    • Immune function
    • Concentration and memory

Yoga Philosophy

Namaste

I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, light, peace and joy. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, We Are One.


We end each class with the following intention.

Lo kaah Sama staah Suk hino Bhavan tu


May the entire universe be ever filled with Peace, Joy, Love, and Light.

According to this translation from Integral Yoga, Sri Swami Satchidananda explained like this, "If through these Yoga practices you have been able to tap into your own true nature and tasted the peace and bliss there, then you don't just 'hoard' it all for yourself but you release some to share for the rest of the world." Through our interconnectedness, when we practice Yoga, we benefit ourselves and all beings everywhere.


AUM 

The Mantra Om — from THE MĀNDŪKYA UPANISHAD

aum ity etad akṣaram idam sarvam, tasyopavyākhyānam bhūtam bhavad bhaviṣyad iti sarvam auṁkāra eva yac cānyat trikālātītaṁ tad apy auṁkāra eva. 

1. OM! This Imperishable Word is the whole of this visible universe. Its explanation is as follows: What has become, what is becoming, what will become – verily, all of this is OM. And what is beyond these three states of the world of time – that too, verily, is OM

Om is a cosmic vibration. It is not a chant made by us, created by us or initiated by us. Why do we chant Om? To establish a connection between ourselves and that which exists by its own right and which manifests itself as a sound-vibration in the form of Om.  Om is a vibration, a Universal vibration with which creation commenced, as they say. With Om, Brahma created this cosmos, and from Om constituted of the three isolated letters A, U, M.  When you recite Om properly, you enter into a meditative mood. You are not merely reciting a sound or a word or a phrase, you are creating a vibration. To point out once again; you are creating a vibration. What sort of vibration? Not a vibration which agitates you, irritates you, or creates a desire in your mind for a particular object, but a vibration which melts all other particular vibrations, puts an end to all desire, extinguishes all cravings and creates a desire for the Universal.

Read more at this link:  https://www.swami-krishnananda.org/mand/Mandukya_Upanishad.pdf


Why 108?

"According to the Vedic scriptures, our bodies - physical and subtle - contain 72,000 energy channels, which are called "Nadis."  There are 108 major nadis that meet in the "sacred heart" (hrit padma).  By chanting a mantra 108 times the energy permeates the entire body and energy body."  (excerpted from the cd cover Mantras for Precarious Times by Deva Premal, White Swan Records, 2009)

"The number is traditionally revered in Hindu culture, linked to several ancient measurements and traditions. (The tradition predates the numbers that the castaways on "Lost" spent entering into the island's giant computer every 108 minutes -- or else.) 

The Buddhists have 108 names for Buddha, and Hinduism boasts 108 Upanishads -- ancient texts that lay down the basis for Hindu spirituality and the ideals of yoga. Ayurvedic medicine charts 108 "weak points," where a body can get congested, and of the 54 sounds in ancient Sanskrit, each has two elements, one male and one female. (Math whizzes, 54 x 2 108.) There are also 108 beads on a "mala," prayer beads used in Hinduism, and 108 beads on a Catholic rosary.

Scientists can point to the distance between the earth and the sun, which is 108 times the diameters of the sun. Mathematically, when you divide a circle into five equal parts, each pentagon angle is 108 degrees. Astrologers can offer the nine planets, and 12 signs of the zodiac. (9 x 12 = 108. Getting the idea now?) And it should be noted that there are 108 stitches on a baseball." (excerpted from an article by JULIA SILVERMAN, The Associated Press on June 21, 2006)

So, derivatives of 108 are also used. 27 kapalabhati breaths, or 54 or 108. Some people do 108 sun salutations!


Inspirations

 

Over the years, I have collected numerous inspiring quotations.  Credit is given when possible as well as links to more sources.  Enjoy!


Bhagavad Gita

There has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist. As the same person inhabits the body through childhood, youth, and old age, so too at the time of death he attains another body. The wise are not deluded by these changes.

Those who eat too much or eat too little, who sleep too much or sleep too little, will not succeed in meditation. But those who are temperate in eating and sleeping, work and recreation, will come to the end of sorrow through meditation.

 

I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me and none more dear. But those who worship me with love live in me, and I come to life in them.

 

Source:  Various

My favorite:  Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood


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Buddha

The thought manifests as the word; 
The word manifests as the deed; 
The deed develops into habit; 
And habit hardens into character. 
So watch the thought and its way with care, 
And let it spring from love 
Born out of concern for all beings.

~~ Source:  Loving-Kindness, The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg

We are what we think.

All that we are arises with our thoughts. 

With our thoughts we make the world.

Speak or act with an impure mind 

and trouble will follow you

As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart... 

Speak or act with a pure mind

And happiness will follow you 

As your shadow, unshakable.

~~ Source:  Loving-Kindness, The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg

 

Your work is to discover your work

and then, with all your heart,

give yourself to it.

~~

 

Metta Meditation

 

May I be healthy,

May I be happy,

May I ride the waves of my life,

May I live in peace, not matter what I'm given.

 

May you be healthy,

May you be happy,

May you ride the waves of your life,

May you live in peace, not matter what you're given.

 

May we be healthy,

May we be happy,

May we ride the waves of our lives,

May we live in peace, not matter what we're given.

 

May all beings everywhere be healthy,

May all beings everywhere be happy,

May all beings everywhere ride the waves of our lives,

May all beings everywhere live in peace, not matter what we're given.

~~  Kripalu version

 


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Eknath Easwaran

This is the central principle of meditation: we become what we meditate on.

~~
 

The secret of joy lies in being one hundred percent present wherever you are all the time.

~~

 

What we do in meditation is remove the obstacles that hide and cover our native capacity to love. 

~~
 

The capacity to be patient, to bear with others through thick and thin, is within the reach of anyone.

~~
Source for all quotes:  www.easwaran.org

Words to Live By by Eknath Easwaran


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Rumi

In December of 1273 when Rumi died, representatives of every major religion came to his funeral.  In the midst of the crusades and violent sectarian conflict he said, "I go into the Muslim mosque and the Jewish synagogue and the Christian church and I see one alter."  And he made it clear in other places that someone who considers religion or nation an important human category is in danger of severing the heart from its ability to act compassionately.  This is a radical idea now, but Rumi held that conviction in the 13th century with such deep gentleness that its truth was recognized.  --  source:  The Essential Rumi translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne.

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don't open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. 
Let the beauty we love be what we do. 
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. 
~~ 

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. 
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase 'each other' 
doesn't make any sense. 
~~ 

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep. 
You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep. 
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. 
The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep. 
~~ 

Drumsound rises on the air, 
its throb, my heart. 
A voice inside the beat says, 
"I know you're tired, 
but come. This is the way."
~~
 
We are the mirror as well as the face in it.

We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity.  We are pain
and what cures pain, both.  We are
the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.
~~

Who makes these changes?  

I shoot an arrow right. 

It lands left. 

I ride after a deer and find myself

chased by a hog. 

I plot to get what I want

and end up in prison. 

I dig pits to trap others

and fall in. I should be suspicious 

of what I want. 

~~
On Resurrection Day your body testifies against you.  

Your hand says, "I stole money." 

Your lips, "I said meanness."  

Your feet, "I went where I shouldn't." 

Your genitals, "Me too."  
They will make your praying sound hypocritical.  

Let the body's doings speak openly now,

without your saying a word, 

as a student's walking behind a teacher

says, "This one knows more clearly 

than I the way."

~~

Keep knocking

and the Joy Inside

will eventually

open a window

and look out

to see who's knocking.

-- All quotes are from The Essential Rumi translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne


St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury,pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

 

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen