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The Yoga Way / general

Yoga as a Great Adventure

Yoga is a great adventure. I think it is the greatest adventure of all.  It will take you into completely new territory and confront you with the tallest peaks of spiritual realization and the deepest trenches at the bottom of your own subconscious. If you allow Yoga to transform you it will do so at the physical, mental, moral and spiritual level. Whatever type of Yoga you pursue, in the end, it will send you inwardly free. It will bring you understanding, joy and the capacity to face any situation fearlessly. ~ G. Feuerstein   Reading these words, I wish I could say I wrote them myself. I truly believe Yoga is a great adventure. Since 1997, Yoga has been the center of my professional and personal life. It...

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Uncovering Spinal Twists

When we think about moving our body we may only envision it as forward or backward. Movements to the side are often skipped or underestimated. Spinal twists, however, open a whole new arena in both our understanding of ourselves and what’s possible in development. They are also excellent counter postures in moving forward and backward in becoming more holistic in practice.   While I consider all of the postures of yoga as a learning tool (and not isolated from the 'whole' of practice), there are certain aspects that spinal twists bring out in the body that a forward bend does not. This makes them both dynamic and unique. Twists can reveal mental habits, patterns, unintentional body patterns and habits, and unconscious preferences toward certain movements as well...

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A Bullfrog on a New Moon

One morning during my allotted time slot of 4:30 a.m. in Mysore, I showed up for my regular class at the shala after frantically catching a very rare rickshaw. Usually at this time there was absolutely no one around. It was my second trip to India and my first time studying under Pattabhi Jois.  I was bit 'out of' to say the least. And getting up at 3 a.m. didn't' really help. As I sat down on the front steps of the school, I could not understand why no one else had come yet. I certainly was not the only eager student.   It seemed really odd I was the only one there.   By now, it was getting closer to 4 a.m. and still no other students had...

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The Wish Fulfilling Goddess

Situated on a small hill called Bilwa Parvat in Haridwar, India, stands the Wish Fulfilling Goddess, Maa Mansa Devi Siddh Peeths (Holy Place). Mansa meaning "wish" and Devi "the goddess". I stumbled upon this Hindu temple as I was making my way up to Rishikesh (in the state of Uttarakhand). This goddess is believed to fulfill your deepest wishes. But it is no real stumble since the wish goddess grants only life-alering wishes and not idle ones.   The legend states that the Goddess, Mansadevi, was born from the mind of Rishi Kashyap and has three faces and five arms. When visiting her, the ritual is to take a thread and tie it around the body of the tree to make your most sincere, genuine wish.   Once your wish...

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A Sadhu and his Toy Car

When I saw this man in Haridwar, India, (often referred to as a Sadhu) I had to take his picture. Sitting in his own little world and seemingly unaware of anything else going on around him. The paradox it provokes is truly funny by challenging what we might assume about Sadhus or anyone who has taken a spiritual oath or devoted their lives away from the mainstream or conventional lifestyle. Capturing something of a child-like essence, he made me think of the way some things in life are universally enjoyed. And perhaps the greatest paradox is in how being a child is always inside all of us again.   © Copyright of  The Yoga Way, 2011. All written rights reserved....

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After India

India possesses something that only people who travel here can understand. In my old beaten up copy of the Lonely Planet there is a brief introduction about either loving or hating India; many swearing never to return. A more accurate travel advisory, however, would read that India is both. It’s an adventure in challenging your level of comfort and a love story in capturing your heart.   A country like India is not without its challenges. The poverty and the pollution are just some of them. For me, I only return to study yoga under my teachers. I want to learn. I want to remain a student. I want to go back to a place where practice matters. It’s not about the performance or my advancement, but...

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The Path to Dipa Ma

When I began reading about the paths of many  meditation teachers I came across the work and life of Sharon Salzberg. In her biography, she described one of her first teacher's as being Dipa Ma. She explained how she had such a  feeling of being deeply loved. During one of her early trips to India, Dipa Ma had asked her,   “Are you happy?”, “Are you sleeping well?” and “'Did you eat well?"   I was so touched by this it made me feel teary-eyed.  The way Sharon depicted Dipa Ma was as if you could feel her asking you these questions. Of course, when I shared the story to my yoga students during a meditation class one of them did not appreciate the reverie. He remarked, "My own...

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Like a Lazy Dog

During the mid-way point of my journey in India, I stayed in Rishikesh; the land of yoga ashrams and yogis. Many great saints and sages have travelled to these sacred mountains seeking solitude from their worldly existence and the possibility of enlightenment. The word 'Rishikesh' literally means the land of the preserver (Vishu). I have also heard people say if you want to be closer to God then go to Rishikesh.   When I first visited Rishikesh in 2000, I never wanted to return. The heat, dirt, congestion, foul smell and the endless Sadhus seemingly wandering around coupled along with my irritation, and lack of attention, made me have this itchy, get out of here feeling. I told myself then never again. I will not go here...

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Dance Naked

After studying Mysore this year, I headed again to Rishikesh (the foothills of the Himilayas) to meet my meditation teacher, Swami Veda Bharati, the eldest living disciple of Swami Rama. I flew from Bangalore to Delhi and took the overnight train to Haridwar. Finding a taxi driver from the train station is always fun since they don’t speak English well in North India. They never seem to know where you want to go, but you don’t realize this isn't the case until you are driving in circles.   It became obvious the driver was confused when they stopped every few minutes to ask for directions. In the end, they brought me to the wrong ashram where I received the right directions from a helpful Swami. During the...

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Flow of the Ganges

The Ganges is recognized throughout India as a body of water that signifies evolution, the cleansing of karma and a sacred stream of holiness. Even if some people consider it to be dirty and unfit, its symbolic power to heal overrules the notions of it being unhygienic. The Ganges is an immeasurable container and like many of the texts from the Indian culture (the Vedas, Upanishads and the Great Epics), it cannot be completely understood.   During one of my first trips to India I visited Varansi, Bernas; considered the ideal setting and place for a holy bath. Mark Twain referred to Varansi by naming it as the holiest city of the holy. I still remember the holy man who shared with me in detail his private,...

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