Finding Your Practice
Yoga is a practice that is about evolving. There’s no one practice that’s perfect for every yogi – the practice evolves and changes just as you shift in your own body and lifestyle. We are often asked by students “which class is right for me?” The answer is “the yoga that speaks to you is the on that your should practice…at least for now.”
The root of the word yoga is to “yolk” – to connect mind, breath, body and spirit. We all come from different experiences in our lives so the practice that one person adores another many experience struggles.
Just as each yogi has a unique experience with yoga, you may personally need different classes at various times in your life. One week you may need a more active practice while the next week your body maybe be asking for a slower, restorative class.
If you’re new to yoga find a teacher and class that speaks to you. Stick with it (it’s called practice for a reason!) but allow yourself to stay open to other practices, classes, teachers and styles. If you’ve had a dedicated practice for some time consider trying something new. Adding a Yoga Nidra or restorative practice to your weekly flow or detox classes could help your practice shift into a new direction.
Join us on your mat…let’s evolve together.+
Seeds of Growth
While Fall isn’t typically a season when we think about planting seeds it is a time of change. As the days get shorter and the air begins to cool it’s a perfect time to plant seeds of intention.
In Indian traditions, the bindu (often seen as a red dot located on the third eye center) is literally translated as “seed” and is a representation of change, transformation and connecting to the greatest guru – that teacher that lies within. Some traditions view the bindu as “the point without a center from which proceeds Cosmic Sound or Nada” or as a sacred symbol of the universe in its unmanifested form.
While various traditions interpret the bindu in different ways, the root of the bindu – as a seed – can serve any practice. Consider a specific fall intention for your practice this month to plant the seeds for change, healing, hope and growth.
Much like we plant daffodil and tulip bulbs in September so that we can enjoy beautiful flowers in April take this time to lay down roots for what you want to manifest in your life.+
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
Courage isn’t a word you may hear in your yoga classes. It’s a word often reserved for those places in our life where we may feel less like calm and more like stepping into a life challenge. Yet make no mistake, every time you step on your mat you take a courageous leap.
If you haven’t already guessed it, yoga is about a world so much bigger than asana (the poses). Every moment on your mat is an opportunity to shift and change your body while also transforming your thoughts. Just sitting for five deep, conscious breaths can shift your entire day.
Each and every one of you take a courageous leap by embarking on this journey of yoga. Our purpose in this life is to evolve, grow and shift. Let your yoga guide you to the places that make change happen. Courage doesn’t have to be about rock climbing, skydiving or even an arm balance. Courage is also that place where you stand in stillness, try a new yoga class or simply come back to same place again and again.
Revel in your own courageous journey. It will transform you.+
Seven feels like a pretty lucky number. We see seven colors of the rainbow, embrace the energy of our seven chakras and enjoy the seven wonders of the world (and let’s not forget Snow White and her seven little friends). For us, seven is particularly special because it’s our birthday at Mudra Yoga Studio!
It’s been quite a journey these past seven years. While the studio has evolved, our heart and soul has remained committed to you, our brilliant and shining community. Our original founder rooted the studio with an intention to create a space to practice, grow and transform. We hold this original intention as an inherent truth as we continue on our path to provide yoga and meditation class that will offer you the transformation you’re seeking.
So while it’s our birthday we are most grateful for you, our dedicated community. We promise to continue to create a sacred space for you to join us on your journey of evolution (physical, mental, spiritual or emotional). Let us know what more we can offer; we always welcome your feedback.
Recently, we were reminded of these words of wisdom, spoken by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. This month, we send these words to you in the spirit of gratitude, hope and light.
“May we become at all times, both now and forever; A protector for those without protection; A guide for those have lost their way; A ship for those with oceans to cross; A bridge for those with rivers to cross; A sanctuary for those in danger; A lamp for those without light; A place of refuge for those who lack shelter; And a servant to all in need.” - His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama November 6, 2000+
With the coming Summer Solstice this month it’s a great time to honor the Sun! On June 22 the Sun will reach its highest point in our sky making it the longest day of the year and literally a tipping point as the days slowly beginning to get shorter and the nights longer. The latin translation for solstice means “sun standing still.”
From the Egyptian God Ra (who was believed to be reborn every morning) to the Norse Sun God, Freyr, who was the ruler of peace, fertility, rain and sunshine, legends and myths have long revered the sun as a source of light, hope and life.
The ancient Hindu sun god, Surya, represents the visible form of the divine, one that you can plainly see every day. Depicted as a red man with three eyes and four arms, the deity is commonly pulled around in a chariot, carried by either seven horses or one horse with seven heads. Surya is also believed to heal the sick, and as such is honored with temples and festivals throughout India. The sun god is also believed to bring good fortune — an attribute that prompts many shopkeepers to place the symbol of the sun over the doors of their shops.
In our yoga practice we embrace the sun as a symbol of light, heat and energy. Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, is often the base of many vinyasa flow classes meant to bring warmth and “tapas” (heat) into the body. However you celebrate the Sun enjoy your summer with open arms (and sunscreen!). Enjoy the warmth and life that summer brings into our lives.+
Hatha Yoga teaches us to use the body as the bow, asana as the arrow, and the soul the target. – B.K.S. Iyengar
The most important commitment you can make to your yoga practice is to keep evolving. While many of us came to our practice to improve our physical state (injuries, weight loss, more flexibility, etc.) we soon learned that there is a huge world beyond the poses. A world that connects us to something deeper.
The asana or physical practice of yoga is important. It helps us shed tightness, relieve tension and has unending benefits to our bodies. Asana is the vehicle that connects us into the deeper state of yoga that brings us a calmer state of mind, connection to others and often a relationship with a deeper source. But the same practice all the time can put us in a bit of a rut. Just like eating the same meal for dinner every night can get monotonous, the same practice can prevent you from finding a deeper sense of self.
Take a moment and listen to you body and your soul. What do you most need in your practice? Often highly active yogi’s can deeply benefit from a slow, restorative practice. Those yogis that lean toward a slower practice may benefit from a heated class or uplifiting flow. Or maybe you’re ready to find your true seat and begin a meditation practice.
Mixing in new styles of yoga with your “typical” practice can open your eyes to a new world. What’s most important is to listen to you body, keep evolving and enjoy the journey!+
Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work
of creation, preservation and destruction of the world. In Hindu culture she is worshipped as the supreme power of the Supreme Being.
The word “Durga” in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of “Durga” is “Durgatinashini,” which literally translates into “the one who eliminates sufferings.” Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.
There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari, etc. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon “Mahishasur.” Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands which represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism and suggests that she protects devotees from all directions.
Goddess Durga is often seen riding a lion which represents power, will and determination and her mastery over all these qualities. Some suggest that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego. Like Shiva, Durga is also referred to as “Triyambake” meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).
In many ways, Durga represents the innate power and strength we all possess. From that strength she shows us we can overcome any challenge and event “slay” our own demons.+
At Mudra Yoga Studio, we have two practice studios both named for Hindu deities Ganesh and Durga. A few of you have asked about these deities so we will dedicate the next two months to share about these deities that bless our sweet space.
This month we’ll give you a glimpse into the world of Ganesh. With the head of an elephant and the body of a boy, Ganesh is known as the God of wisdom, knowledge and education as well as the remover of obstacles. The son of Shiva and Pavarti, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the panchayatana puja, one of the primary systems of workshop in Hinduism.
Ganesh’s head is symbolic of the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. His elephant head denotes wisdom and his trunk represents Om, the sound of the universe. He is humble enough to ride the smallest of creatures, a mouse.
Ganesh is often depicted in various postures yet typically we see him holding a goad in his upper right hand, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles. The noose in Ganesha’s left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties. The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata (one of yoga’s sacred texts). The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous and the laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms.
We learn from Ganesh that life is sweet and that wisdom and knowledge is often the answer to removing obstacles in our life. He teaches us that every day is a chance for a new beginning.
(Note: Portions of this article were sourced from the following link http://hinduism.about.com/od/lordganesha/a/ganesha.htm)+
Happy Valentine’s Day month! Now is a natural time to contemplate the heart and especially the heart as our comfort, our true nature, our home.
“Home is where the heart is” is a phrase we’ve all heard many times. And usually, we interpret it to mean that wherever the things and the people we love are is where we feel most comfortable. That is certainly true, but what if we also choose to take the phrase literally? What if we believed that our home literally lives inside us? From that point of view instead of home meaning a physical place, home becomes a state of being and a way of living, always available and always vibrant.
Perhaps the more we know ourselves and trust our hearts, the more at home we become in any situation. Instead of waiting for the right setting or the right possessions or the right people to come into our lives, we see that just by being us, we’re home. Imagine being at home in the familiar and the unfamiliar, in the joy and in the sorrow and in the things you excel at and in things you struggle with. Maybe home IS where the heart is. And if it is, it’s always with us. This month, we invite you to come to your mat, to know your heart and to come home to yourself.+
With the holiday season behind us we enter into a new year and a time when resolution-setting begins. January 1 arrives and many of us enter into the world of setting steadfast goals to be healthier, to pay off debt, climb a 14er or give up coffee. Yet in yoga we have an opportunity to consider setting an intention for our life in addition to these very specific resolutions.
The yogic tradition embraces a different perspective on intention setting – sankalpa. The Sanskrit word sankalpa (translated as “vow” or “commitment”) assumes that we are “more than” rather than “less than.” Resolutions often come from a place of deprivation while sankalpa assumes that we are inherently on a path of our own true nature – that we are light.
In a recent article in Yoga International Magazine master teacher and founder of ParaYoga, Rod Stryker, explains that the chief architect of life is the mind. To create the life we are meant to live, we must draw the mind again and again to our dharma, our deepest intentions, and the qualities of the Divine within.
“A sankalpa is a statement that does this for us. Stryker explains that kalpa means vow, or “the rule to be followed above all other rules.” San, he says, refers to a connection with the highest truth. Sankalpa, then, is a vow and commitment we make to support our highest truth. “By definition, a sankalpa should honor the deeper meaning of our life. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma—our overriding purpose for being here.” The sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices.”
So this New Year’s consider embracing your higher self and higher intention. Find your sankalpa to realize your heartfelt desires without changing who you are.+