sutra

A Post Election Sutra

You are stunned, powerless,

You thought you knew

What was going on.

Now you realize you don’t have a clue.

 

You are stopped in your tracks.

Everything within your skin is shaking.

Enter this shaking.

 

Right here, in the midst of commotion—

Get curious and look around inside with wonder.

Unmind your mind.

All the walls have fallen down.

Go ahead and dissolve.

 

The One Who Has Always Been,

Who has seen much worse than this,

Is still here.

Did you know there is a sutra even for this moment???

Yogis! We have skills to keep our hearts open in the face of deep challenge. We need them now; let’s use them. Find what makes you feel alive right now and do that—especially if it is tears or terror. And do an extra restorative pose while you are at it. The world will be glad.

Thanks to Lorin Roche and his translation of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra called The Radiance Sutras.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Still Voice of the Heart

s-lopez-web_7Abandon all of these attitudes

Of wanting to prolong pleasure

And avoid suffering.

Let the heart be itself and feel

Whatever is there.

 -- The opening of verse 103, The Radiance Sutras, Vijnanabhairava

To truly open to love we must open to vulnerability. It takes courage to bare our soul. Whether giving voice to an unmet need or sharing pure joy, speaking our truth makes us vulnerable. The practice of iRest® yoga nidra meditation opens us to the still voice of the heart. What does it take to honestly open oneself to the world, our beloved, or a stranger? Courage and trust help us meet life directly and speak our truth.

Freed from clinging and avoiding,

The heart regains its poise

And revels in creation.

When I sit with someone taking the risk to be vulnerable I feel respect, intimacy, and connection. This is a moment of liberation. Tenderness erupts in my heart if I don’t cling to or avoid what the other is experiencing. Also, fear may arise naturally as I meet the unknown of how the other will meet my response. Yet in these precious moments a window opens in the heart. What was hidden comes to light. We allow intimacy to blossom in our self and others.

Plunging deep into its center,

Discover that the heart is moved

By a pulse that is everywhere.

When we live in a wholehearted way we meet life with authenticity. It is an act of love to share our authentic self from moment to moment. This intimacy may reveal the truth of our Being. Our essential qualities shine through as the heart opens and we live undefended. Listen deeply and let yourself be moved by a pulse that is everywhere. Love opens up into itself revealing the beauty and truth of who we are.

With an open heart, Stephanie Lopez

Stephanie Lopez was a long time yoga teacher and psychotherapist in Columbus, Ohio, but she recently moved to California to serve as the Director of Operations at the Integrative Restoration Institute and to lead iRest trainings internationally. For her full bio, please click here. For information on Stephanie’s upcoming iRest Level 1 training, please click here. You may contact Stephanie directly through the IRI website.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Harmony, Compassion and Ahimsa

This is one in a series of articles on living with the Yoga Sutras that will appear on this blog over the next  year. Learn about how and why we explore this philosophical yogic text and how you can participate.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali list the yamas, restraints or “don’ts”. The first Yama is Ahimsa, often translated as non-violence or non-harming. Ahimsa is asking us not to be violent in our thoughts, words, and actions. Many of you have often heard me speak about oneness in my yoga classes. If we are dedicated to the oneness or wholeness of life and the interconnectedness of all living things we are naturally supporting living a life of ahimsa. It is the ideal of living a life in harmony with all living things.

Screech! Stop the record! This sounds beautiful but I have found that living ahimsa is a mindful struggle to overcome negative (violent and harming) thoughts. This struggle can be born of  anger, fear and a myriad of other negative emotions. Violence in any form often causes pain and suffering and this is something we all share. Once we realize we are all in this together it allows us to have empathy and operate more freely from a place of compassion and love! Read More…

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Shining Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

by Jasmine Astra-Elle Grace

Do you hear teachers talking about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in class and wonder what they are rambling about? Well, over the next few months, I have been asked to share with you all some of the key concepts found in this important philosophical yogic book.  I welcome you to join in on the journey!  Some even say that the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali text is as important as the yoga mat itself…I will leave that for you to decide.

Invariably, “success” in yoga is through practice (sadhana). This idea of practice and experience for yourself is not only for asanas on the yoga mat; but, for all 8 limbs of yoga outlined in the philosophical text of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. While we may be able to memorize the words and intellectually understand the concepts, it is not until we have internalized the teachings and stayed with them for a period of time that we can truly be anchored in our own experience of the teachings.  Anchored in a knowing that exist in the silence and space between the words. Exploration of the sutras is essentially a method of self-inquiry.

If you are new to yoga or the philosophy of yoga here is the basic overview of the 8 limbs of yoga.

1. Yama -- the five restraints

Ahimsa -- Non-violence, non-harming, compassion for self and others.

Satya – Truthfulness in thought, word, and action.
Brahmacharya -- Control of the senses and energy conservation.

Asteya -- Non-stealing

Aparigraha – Non-grasping, non-attachment, non-hoarding.

2. Niyama -- the five observances

Saucha -- Purity, cleanliness of one’s body, surroundings and mind.

Santosha -- Contentment

Tapas -- Austerity

Swadhyaya -- Self-study, study of scriptures.

Ishwara Pranidhana -- Surrender to the fullness of self, surrender to God.

3. Asana -- Steady posture or seat

4. Pranayama -- Control of prana or life force

5. Pratyahara -- Withdrawal of the senses or to turn awareness inwards.

6. Dharana -- Concentration

7. Dhyana -- Meditation

8. Samadhi -- Total absorption, bliss, to hold the realization of unity.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the 8 limbs of yoga are very familiar to our Yoga on High Teacher Training Institute teacher trainees and graduates. In our 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program, every graduating student has to choose a single sutra to contemplate over a month. The student journals about it daily for that month and has a first hand record of how the sutra shows up for them in their life. Their chosen sutra becomes a self-inquiry and a direct experience of living yoga.

In honor of the theme of the month, love, I was asked to share a blog on the first, and perhaps, most important Yama, Ahimsa. I have spent the last month refreshing my understanding of the concept, contemplating it, observing what rises within, looking at my level of harmony in relationships with all living beings, and doing simple meditations on love (which I will share with you) to raise my personal energetic vibrations. I have to admit I had a blindfold on and thought I was a “good” yogi living Ahimsa the majority of the time. However, as soon I brought my attention to contemplating Ahimsa it kindly showed me I have much work to do.

I look forward to sharing this most personal experience – the humanness, the self-inquiry, the practices, and the insights!

Shanti,
Jasmine Astra-Elle Grace

If you are interested in living the sutras with Jasmine Grace she recommends the following texts:

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali -- Sri Swami Satchinanda

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali -- B.K.S Iyengar

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali -- Edwin F. Bryant

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Ahimsa—The state of the heart that is free of enemies.

By Marcia Miller

Ahimsa, often translated as nonviolence, is the first Yama (ethical guideline or precept) of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It is one of the foundations of yoga and something I have practiced and thought about for many years.
At a recent retreat a Nonviolent Communication trainer, Francois Beausoleil, translated ahimsa as “the state of the heart that is free of enemies.”. Somehow my whole body knew that this translation offered me some keys to deepening my practice of ahimsa. In his presentation Francois taught a skill called “Dissolving Enemy Images” that was simple, effective and very powerful. I immediately re-committed myself to this practice which I had learned previously but had let go. I felt absolutely buoyant and excited about the possibility of more peace in my own heart.
And as is so often the case when I commit to a new practice, within a day a situation arose in my life that gave me the opportunity to test my commitment and hone my skills. This was not a tiny misunderstanding but something that was extremely painful for each of us involved. When I looked at what was true for me in the situation I felt feelings of anger, confusion, disappointment, annoyance, concern and a very deep sadness. I was longing for connection, trust, consideration, respect and communication that might lead to a true understanding between us.
The funny thing is that when I tried to see the situation from her side I imagined that she shared these exact same feelings and longings with me! What I know for sure is that when I am in conflict with another and I have a sense of blame, my whole body, especially my heart, feels hard, tiny and cold. This is NOT a feeling I enjoy, even if there is the momentary thrill of feeling righteous. I want to use the skills that will help me feel more curious, open, accepting and compassionate. This is not easy and it requires a deep personal honesty and an attentiveness to all parties involved. I am invited to notice the moment my mind goes to a negative judgment about someone or I have the feeling of being “right.” But “being right” means having a heart that is hard instead of loving, so I’ll pick up my righteousness and trade it in for compassion as often as I can. I have to admit I’m a bit nervous to write this publicly because I fail at this so often. And yet, I am longing for a community of seekers who can support each other in a powerful commitment to ahimsa.
One of my absolute favorite feelings in the world is that moment when something shifts in my understanding that allows an “enemy” to become the “beloved.” It is such a relief and my cold heart floods with the warmth of compassion, love and gratitude. Ahhhh.
Some of you know my favorite yoga text these days is the Vijnana Bhairava translated by Lorin Roche as the Radiance Sutras. Because I couldn’t find a sutra that exactly talks about my experience I decided to write my own.
Your heart is stone and
Your mind is full of outrage.
Your whole body is ELECTRIC—buzzing with righteousness,
You have been wronged!
There is power in this righteous stance but also pain.
The hardness carries a price—
The pain of disconnection with another.
Right here
The moment of transformation.
Breathe, ahhhhh
Remember, all is not what it seems.
Now, see under the waves of distress
You have strong feelings and deep needs—
Go slowly, name them, pause, feel them, pause and rest here.
This is the gift of anger—to know what you most care about.
The other also has strong feelings and deep needs—
Name them, feel them, rest here. ahhh
The moment of softening the heart toward an “enemy”
is as sweet as a kiss on a baby’s fuzzy head.

Marcia has created a class for the fall to share some of the skills involved in practicing ahimsa. Please visit Ahimsa Yoga if you would like more details.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Secret Life of Dreams

By Marcia Miller

Last night I dreamt I ran a 3 mile race and came in 20th out of 200. I could feel the joy of the camaraderie with the other runners and the excitement of running that far without pain and discomfort. These feelings were present in my body as a flow of energy and aliveness that felt fantastic. Each cell seemed to shimmer with delight at the experience. The exhilaration of running in the dream was still with me as I awoke and persisted, even after awakening

This dream and the joyfulness after it were in stark contrast to my feelings over the last two weeks when my sprained ankle acted up and I could barely walk. I was feeling discouraged that I might never be able to hike on uneven ground, run or even dig potatoes in my own fields. I thought that I should be doing better than I was, and was afraid I might never fully recover. I had been cheerful and patient for five months and hadn’t realized that despair was becoming my partner. What would it be like to be a yoga teacher who could barely walk? What if I move like an old person filled with pain? Am I a failure somehow for not healing completely?

So it was doubly thrilling to have that total joy and confidence in my body as I awoke. I liked this feeling and remembered one of Patanjali’s yoga sutras about inspiring dreams: 1-38 Svapna nidra jnanalambanam va. That means The mindstuff retains its undisturbed calmness by concentrating on an experience had during dream or deep sleep. So, according to Patanjali, we can meditate by recalling the deep inspiration, connection and coherence of a dream and use that as the focus of our meditation. And I did.

While still in bed, I made myself even more comfortable and lay there relaxed and resting in the exuberance of the feelings already present within me. I just allowed and invited that energetic flow to run through me, especially my legs. It felt so good to have confidence in my legs and ankles again—and so natural. I hadn’t realized how much fear and discouragement I had been carrying until I was free of it. It was easy to stay like that and I did for many minutes. I did not feel as though I was ignoring the very real injury in my ankles. Rather I felt as if I was remembering the template of wholeness that would guide my legs in their healing process.

When I arose and began my asana practice I let my body set the tone and do whatever it wanted. It wanted to be filled with prana and breath and I went to an outside deck adjacent to my yoga room to feel the fresh air flow into my lungs. Before I realized it I was in hasta padanguthasana, a one-legged balancing pose that has been very challenging for me these last few months. It didn’t feel like “therapy” it felt like fun and I lingered in it for the sheer joy of it.

It has been nearly a week since this dream and I have meditated on the feeling of it every day, mostly during my time in savasana (deep relaxation.) I lie there, let the body feel its weight as it settles into the floor, and then remember the sensations I had in the dream and after it. I let them run through me and bring my awareness, as if in a blessing, to all that is arising in my body.

Those yogis of old really knew a thing or two, and I am so grateful to be a part of their tradition.

Translation of the sutra is from Integral Yoga, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by Swami Satchidananda

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
 Scroll to top