A bright golden leaf framed by a clear sky floated lightly to earth. My mind was transfixed on the leaf that marked the advent of autumn and the cycles of seasons within life. Deepak Chopra once remarked that he was now in the autumn of his life. What a wonderful way to remind us that life has its seasons just as we see in nature. The beginning of life and the birth of spring, the activity peaks of life’s summers and the closing of a cycle in autumn are all a prelude to the return to the dormancy & gestation period of winter.
Even though fall is a favorite time for many people, as its cold crisp air pierces the ripple of late summer winds, I wonder if it is possible to make these transitions from the early years to the later years in life without mourning the passing of time. Is it possible I wonder, to make the transitions from one era of life to another without clinging to what was? Is it possible to let go if we can’t perceive what is yet to be? Or is it possible to live in a suspended state of fearless expectancy of what is yet to reveal itself?
As the golden leaf lingers in the crisp morning air, my thoughts travel to those in our world community ravaged by storms or wars who are forced into life’s changes with little warning. My heart holds all people, all beings everywhere, transcending current or past pain into the transformative unfolding of the future. The leaf that was once the bud of spring now is a beautiful withered reminder of its lovely past.
Our life patterns and the seasons are not as separate as they seem. In our lifetime we witness and experience many changes, individually and collectively. The hills and the valleys of life’s journey are patterns we all share.
Yoga helps us gain flexibility in body that mirrors the agility in mind that helps us bend with the winds and bow to the storms. It helps us make these transitions through the seasons of our lives, with joyful expectancy of faith in the Divine and loving hand that is guiding us from one place to another in the fulfillment of our life’s destiny.
I find the Thanksgiving holiday is a reminder that is far greater than gatherings of friends and family, much more than the ritual of sharing a meal based on an age-old tradition. It is a time to truly give thanks from our hearts for all that has graced our lives.
What a great opportunity this coming holiday is for forgiving the past, renewing compassion and releasing hardened places in our heart that have become numb to the storms that have ravaged us. One great bhakti (devotional) teacher who was a living saint from India once said to me, “Be thankful for judgments and criticism….through them, you will have greater compassion for others.”
Thanksgiving is not just once a year, but it is an attitude of gratefulness that we can practice every day of the year. As we transcend our own tears, we can see and feel the tears of others. We can, during this coming holiday and every day send our love and healing to all those whose lives have radically changed and all those who have experienced losses in our country and all countries of the world. The healing power of giving thanks silently can radiate out from Self, to community and our world.
by SYF2015 Presenter Alicia Valentyn, RYT LMT
What’s the Best Way to Connect to the Present Moment?
I connect to the Present Moment by way of my Breath.
In yoga the Breath is known as Prana.
Take a Moment now and Notice Your Breath.
Notice the Quality, Rate and State of your Breath.
Is Your Breath Relaxed, Smooth and Free from Tension?
Notice the thoughts on your Mind. Is there much self talk and are you asking yourself alot of ‘What If’s’ or ‘Why’ questions?
If you are asking yourself ‘What If” this happens or that happens; then you may be living in an Anxious State of Mind. Living in the future. Anxienty can mask your breath.
If you are noticing more of a tendency to ask your self, ‘Why’ did this happened to me; then you may be living in a Depressed State of Mind. Living in the past. Depression can mask your breath too.
To Feel your utmost very best try now to Connect to the Present Moment by way of your Breath.
Your Breath will guide you to the Present Moment. Knowing that the ‘Present Moment’ is your only guarantee in life makes it alot easier to find a connection to the Breath/Prana/Life Force Energy.
Relax Now with yourself.
Try a very Simple Pranayama… read more on Alicia’s Blog
by SYF2015 presenter Hope Zvara
Yoga has taught me a lot about life and living. My mom (also a yoga teacher) and I often chat jokingly about how being awake in the world is a blessing and a curse. As yoga heightens your awareness of the things, people, actions, and words that are around you as well as what goes on inside of you, it can feel like a double-edged sword.
I was blessed to have my first real yoga experience at an ashram. I was guided by a wonderful teacher with whom I contribute much of my understanding of spirituality and truly living in commune with God (or Universal Consciousness). Fast forward twelve years, I have evolved. Yet my roots are grounded in keeping the spirit in yoga and more recently I have added a passion for functionality and deepened core awareness.
Keeping the understanding that when you come to yoga–real yoga–expect to grow radically, expect to be uncomfortable, expect to be challenged in thought, word, and action. Expect to be confused, frustrated, angry, sad, mad, happy, and in sheer bliss. Why? Because… read more on Hope’s Blog!
After 35 years of teaching in the West, Sanskrit scholar and spiritual teacher Pandit Rajmani Tigunait has published his long-awaited commentary on the Yoga Sutra—the seminal text on yoga practice and philosophy. His new book, The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, is the first practitioner-oriented commentary that is fully grounded in the living tradition of the Himalayan masters. Tigunait, who is lecturing at Sedona Creative Life Center in Sedona, AZ on September 26, 2014 from 7pm as part of his 71- city lecture & book tour, recently welcomed our inquiry into the deeper dimensions of yoga and how to apply its ancient wisdom to your modern life.
Q: So what exactly is the Yoga Sutra?
PRT: The Yoga Sutra is a book of yoga philosophy. It is a book of practice. And it is a book of self-realization. It was written 2,200 years ago, when a great master named Patanjali gathered the best aspects of yoga and delineated, in a step-by-step fashion, exactly what yoga is and how to practice it.
Q: What can modern students learn from the Yoga Sutra?
PRT: When you practice the kind of yoga described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, you will experience what it’s like to be healthy, happy, peaceful, confident, and energetic. The literal meaning of “yoga” is “union,” “integration,” “reconnection.” But in the context of practice, yoga is a way of gaining access to your own inner luminosity and becoming established in your essential self.
By studying the Yoga Sutra, you will learn how to cultivate a clear, calm, and tranquil mind; how to expand the immense power of your mind; and how to begin unveiling, layer after layer, the mysteries of the universe within you and outside you.
Q: Why are its teachings so crucial today?
PRT: Because the human mind is scattered. We have become negligent about our distractions, inertia, confusion, doubt, fear, and anger. But humans have been riding a roller coaster of ups and downs for thousands of years. The yoga tradition, which started at least 5,000 years ago and has continued without interruption, has recorded all of the problems that humans face, and the methods and techniques to overcome those problems. The Yoga Sutra contains the solutions.
Q: What role does asana play in yoga practice?
PRT: Asana is a very important part of life. It keeps you healthy, strong, and energetic. And it enables you to discover and reclaim the innate wisdom of your body. But it is only after you rediscover the self-luminous nature of your own mind that you will begin to experience the true power of asana. That discovery comes from the meditative aspect of yoga.
Q: What inspired you to publish a commentary on the Yoga Sutra after 35 years of teaching in the West?
PRT: The Yoga Sutra is a compendium of a vast field of knowledge and wisdom, techniques and methodologies for discovering our multi-dimensional life. It is the source wisdom for all schools and traditions of yoga. We need to bring the spiritual dimension back into yoga and encourage students to look for teachings and practices that will take them to the next level. That’s why I have realized that I should share whatever I have learned in the last 35 years through this commentary, The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, and by teaching and interacting with students.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish through your Secret of The Yoga Sutra book tour and courses?
PRT: My wish is that the Yoga Sutra brings the same level of transformation to other people as it did to me. In order to make that wish become a reality, my vision is to bring the Yoga Sutra to people’s doorsteps, making this knowledge available to them on many levels and from many perspectives [through a summer lecture & book tour, online study groups, and a four-part master course on the Yoga Sutra that students can take in person or online].
My vision is that the yoga community, the scientific community, the medical community, and the health community take from the Yoga Sutra what is useful for them, conduct more research, assimilate the knowledge into their existing practice, and take their own field of knowledge to the next level. My interest is to demonstrate and support how you can embrace the teachings of the Yoga Sutra in your own personal practice for self-improvement and self-empowerment; how you can accelerate your quest for total well-being and spiritual unfoldment.
For tickets to the September 26, 2014 event at Sedona Creative Life Center, click here. Hosted by SYF Presents.
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD, is a modern-day master and living link to the unbroken Himalayan Tradition. He is the successor of Sri Swami Rama of the Himalayas and the spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute. As a leading voice of YogaInternational.com and the author of 15 books, his teachings offer practical guidance on applying yogic and tantric wisdom to modern life. Over the past 35 years, Pandit Tigunait has touched innumerable lives around the world as a teacher, humanitarian, and visionary spiritual leader.
Last night I absolutely had no choice but to sleep early. I could not keep my eyes open. Only it was only 7:30pm… Surely if I went to sleep at that time I would wake up in the middle of the night…
If I were to select a yoga posture that relates to the winter solstice it would be savasana, corpse pose. In savasana, practiced in a state that is not quite sleeping, that is not quite awake, we surrender. We surrender the effort of the body, the control of the breath, and simply allow for the freedom of our natural state to flow and re-organize itself somewhere between the conscious and the unconscious state.
Savasana is a pose of integration. A death and a rebirth. In our asana practice we open things up, let things go, and then we surrender. When practiced in silence with the focus on the breath and the prana in the body, our practice exposes the naked truth of the habits of our mind to us so clearly. As we find ourselves aware of the expansive nature of our self, connected to all that is, we are able to witness the tiny and noisy nature of the mind. In Savasana, we float in the natural meditative state that arises as a result of the asana. In this state, our essence re-aligns itself with our physical body, attachments and aversions fall away, and any great shifts are re-ordered in our being. Passing thoughts float by the in the expansive mind, and we simply let them go. In this practice of savasana, we allow for the openness of the present moment, just as it is, to be. It is like being re-born. Dying in corpse pose, to be re-born.
This is found when we can go inside and get quiet. This dark quiet, so like wintertime itself, is where we can find our fears, our irritations, our desires… where we can hear most clearly the chatter of a busy mind. If we simply sit, bundled in our blankets, layered in our clothes, in the dark of winter, like savasana, and be a witness to this mind, we are positioned to release all that we do not need, all that separates ourselves from the source of love that dwells within each of us… And like the stars on solstice night, the light begins to show itself in the darkness…
As the days will grow longer, so we can sit in the stillness and the quiet and awaken to the light in our being. The seeds we have planted for our life, lain dormant in this time of winter, are set to awaken. Releasing into savasana, waking up to the light, we can birth this solstice moment to reflect on those seeds that we will nourish, on the seeds of an abundant and peaceful world and life. These can grow into this new time as the light emerges.
This pause of the sun in relation to our earth is much like the pause at the the bottom of the breath… sit in it, connect to our true selves, our source material, the massive expansiveness that is the truth of our being… and let go. As Marc often says, “Love everything… Do nothing.”
I did wake up… at 1:30am. A glass of water, a moonbath, and then back to sleep on the longest night. To integrate, to release, and to nourish the seeds planted for a beautiful existence. Not by any action, but rather by surrendering to the pose. I woke up on this solstice, refreshed, renewed, and reborn again.
My Mind to Your Mind, photo by Paul Leroy
Letting the light grow, moving from stillness, we begin again… now.