Tag Archives: Anusara

Brighter Than The Sun

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“There’s courage involved if you want
to become truth. There is a broken-

open place in a lover. Where are
those qualities of bravery and sharp

compassion in this group? What’s the
use of old and frozen thought? I want

a howling hurt. This is not a treasury
where gold is stored; this is for copper.

We alchemists look for talent that
can heat up and change. Lukewarm

won’t do. Halfhearted holding back,
well-enough getting by? Not here.” Rumi

The word Niralambaya comes from the Anusara Yoga Invocation.  The invocation is about the true teacher, within and without, the auspicious, intrinsic goodness within our hearts.  Niralambaya suggests that the essence of this teacher, the “Tejese”, the divine luminosity within is independent in existence and completely free from limitation.

At times external circumstances can make us feel rough and worn down.  It can be challenging to trust or believe that our light is still there.  Our yoga practice helps to polish us from the inside out.  We do the work so that we are able to tap into something bigger than us, to source, to an effulgence that can not be extinguished.  Our practice creates an alchemy that melts obstacles, transforming the dull and rough into something that is brilliantly bright.  I have been told that sometimes, at the end of your practice when you have all but exhausted your physical strength, can be an opportunity for you to achieve the greatest metamorphosis.  That when you have to rely on your intention alone, a shift will occur.  We can often find our greatest strength and teachings from those moments when we are tested and feel most vulnerable.

Diwali, The Festival of Lights, began yesterday in India and will last for five days.  During the festival, thousands of candles and lanterns will be lit to celebrate the victory of light over darkness.  Symbolically, the lights can also represent the triumph of good over evil.   Dipali Desai states, “Diwali represents ‘rows of lighted lamps’ but also it represents a time of  lighting up millions of lights or lamps (individual awareness) to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and expand the radiance (Consciousness) of wisdom…”

I hope that we will all light a candle or a lantern to celebrate our increasing awareness and grace.  It is my deepest wish that we will continue our individual practices, both on and off the mat, in order to keep sight of our wisdom even in times of struggle and darkness.  Let us all continue to burn brightly, so that we can collectively set the world on fire with a love that burns brighter than the sun!

Yoga, Community, and New Beginnings

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Our Practice Space

The word Sādhana can be translated as “practice” or a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal.  Yogi Bhajan has said: “The strength of a community is directly proportional to the strength of their group Sādhana.”   The Sanskrit Word for Community is Sangha.  These past few months I have witnessed our Sangha, our community, flourish and expand in our new space.  Their dedication and enthusiasm is inspirational.  Their strength and grace is exquisite.

In the Anusara Teacher Training Manual, John Friend explains: “Our Attitude is what distinguishes us and transforms us.  The power of the heart that is the force behind every action or expression in an asana (posture) resides within Attitude.  Attitude is both the power behind your intention for practicing hatha yoga and the power that ultimately fulfills your intention.  You might do the practice of hatha yoga to improve the health or appearance of the physical body, or to clear blocked emotions and help balance your emotional state, or to promote mental clarity and balance, or any combination of these purposes.  Intertwined with Attitude and intention is willpower–a deep inner force that is a balance between self-effort and the ability to surrender.”

As 2011 draws to a close, we have the opportunity to make some decisions about what we will choose to let go of and what we will carry with us into the new year.  Through the practice of Yoga, we may be more capable of discerning where to apply effort and when to pull in the oars.  We also have the power to create intentions.  Intentions that can be cultivated with attitude, willpower, and practice.

“Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning…”

What are your intentions for 2012?

For a New Beginning

By John O’Donohue
(1956 – 2008)

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Vinyasa Redefined

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I have, amongst many others, a well-loved, dog-eared, and highly trusted resource called “nourishing the teacher.”  It consists of “inquiries, contemplations, & insights on the path of yoga” and it is written by Danny Arguetty with Anjali Budreski and Kelli Adams.

My path of yoga began with a very gentle practice.  Somewhere along the way I was introduced to more vigorous and powerful styles, with which, the term “Vinyasa” was associated.  I had a long and serious love affair with the energy and dancing flow of this practice.  At some point, I started to realize that the classes that I was teaching and my style of yoga were being pigeonholed (or kapotaholed).  I had some wounds that needed to be tended to on and off the mat.  This required me to back up and slow down a bit.  It was time for me to take inventory and make some changes.

Enter the book, the lightbulb, the Aha! Moment.  Danny and his partners state that: “the Sanskrit term “Vinyasa” is usually associated with fast moving, vigorous classes; yet the word also signifies order, conscious placement, arrangement, and attitude.  These definitions provide us with new perspectives through which to explore this fluid practice, whether fast or slow.”  These were and are the exact qualities that I want to cultivate in my practice and in my teaching.

The three A’s of Anusara Yoga are attitude, alignment, and action.  I adore how John Friend defines attitude as “the power of the heart as a force behind every action or expression in an asana; the aspiration to reawaken to our divine nature, and the celebration of life.  He describes alignment as “the mindful awareness of how various parts of ourselves are integrated and interconnected.”  And he defines action as “the natural flow of energy in the body, which provides both stability and joyful freedom.”

These teachers have helped me redefine “Vinyasa”.  My practice is slow, conscious, fluid, and delicious.  I delight in exploring and celebrating life on and off the mat.  I am free, like water.

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” ~ Bruce Lee