Tag Archives: Yoga

Discover ways to incorporate yoga teachings on non-harm and social engagement into your life

Redefining the present moment – Michael Stone

What does it mean to be in the moment? What does it mean to be mindful? Yogi and Buddhist teacher Michael Stone breaks down the oft used term and shows how it relates to being mindful about what’s really going on.

The gift of our wounds – Michael Stone

 

The heart of non-attachment – Michael Stone

True non-attachment is an intimacy with life. Buddhist teacher and yogi Michael Stone shares his perspective on how to live an engaged life.

Shot & edited by Ian MacKenzie http://ianmack.com

Michael Stone leader of Centre of Gravity, is a psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, author and activist, committed to the integration of traditional teachings with contemporary psychological and philosophical understanding. The components of his practice include Yoga postures, breathing technique, meditation and textual study. Over the years, his goal has been to cultivate long-term relationships with people who want to deepen their understanding of Yoga and Buddhist teachings and practice. He also maintains a dedicated workshop and retreat schedule in communities in Canada and abroad. Michael is a father and lives in Toronto with his partner Carina Lof and his 9 year old son Arlyn. These days you can find him working on a documentary film called “Reactor,” a new book of the same title, teaching, and also giving talks at conferences and in community.

Join Michael Stone  June 28 – July 3 for a workshop on The Inner Tradition of Yoga and discover ways to incorporate yoga teachings on non-harm and social engagement into your life

 

The Road Map to Salvation through Mantra

BY SNATAM KAUR KHALSA

How can we really enjoy this life?  How can we really enjoy being in our bodies, in this rib cage?  We must have the capacity to have a still and quiet mind.  Because the joy is there.  This innocence is there. The love is there.  We become too ravaged in our own insecurity, our own misery, our own blindness, to even see the truth.  Yes, thrash around if you must, gnarl and gnash your teeth like a wild animal.  After enough tearing about, you will be left alone, simply alone, to rebuild the pieces of your life.

Use the sacred medicine of Mantra at this time, and you will find the happiness and the joy that you are seeking.  What is despair?  What is anguish?  It is a simple frequency of the mind.  Just as Mantra is a frequency of the mind.  Mantra is a word that is thousands of years old.  It means projection (tra) of the mind (man).  Mantra is the way we project our mind to Divinity.

Snatam_Kaur_playingAs human beings we are constantly in a state of being in touch with our darkness and our light, our insecurity and our security, our courage and our fear.  We come to this earth with our karma, our past actions from previous lifetimes.  Our souls have come here to learn and grow.  The yogis say that it takes 8.4 million lifetimes (rock, blade of grass, ant, tortoise, etc. etc. not necessarily in that order!) to reach the human incarnation.  We have passed through that animal phase.  Yet many of us are still in this kind of animal phase, and even worse then animals.  At least with animals there is an innocence about their actions.  We have even lost our innocence!  So, how do we experience the goodness, the joy, and the love?  How do we reach our Divinity? Mantra.  Mantra, takes you there.  It is a fast track, direct line.  Many people do not want to even practice it, because it works too well!  They enjoy the neurosis, the anger, the pain, and the anguish!  There is a certain kind of satisfaction in it, a knowing, the familiar, and the oh so delicious drama of it all.  Mantra, well, sorry folks, mantra is kind of boring.  It is that kind of boring, boring, boring, boring a hole into your heart so that your light can finally shine through you.  It takes time, it takes patience, it takes consistency, it takes prioritization.

Here is a thousand foot view of the human experience of Mantra from the beginning to the ultimate goal. Someone experiences a Mantra, they get healed, they feel light, they feel love, and they feel joy.  Perhaps they heard someone singing it, their yoga teacher, a musician, something. If they are lucky, they will realize that it was  not in fact the human carrier of the mantra that brought them joy, but the living presence of the Mantra.  You see, because every mantra is alive, a living breathing energy.  The mantras find you!  So yes, if you know the truth, you will know that the healing, the joy has come from the Mantra itself.  With this realization one incorporates the Mantra into their life.  The ultimate goal is that the Mantra becomes you, you live it and breath it, it guides your breath, your thoughts, and your actions.  These Mantras are simple positive affirmations of the love and light of God that is within and around us, the affirmation of truth and reality that all is Divine, all is God.

Most of us exist with the Mantras on a very peripheral level.  We hear the Mantra every once in a while, we cycle in and out, we go to a chant concert or experience one night, to a disco the next night, we chant together, and then we turn around and yell and scream at each other all in the same day!  Such is the human life!  How do we get to  grace, to true experience, and joy?

My teacher taught a very simple practice that in essence gives the opportunity for all of us having a very human experience to transform, and transform completely.  It is essentially a road map to salvation through Mantra for the house holder.

It is called the Aquarian Sadhana.  I have been practicing this Sadhana since I was a teenager. And yes, with all of my faults and life in its ebb and flow, if there is anything that has worked for me, it is this practice.  This is the way it is done; we get up before the sun rises, in what is called the “Amrit Vela” or nectar time; somewhere around 3:30 am.  To make this early rising sustainable one must go to bed early as well. So we rise up, and then take a cold shower.  And yes, I did just say that.  I’ll say it again in caps, Cold Shower.  If you want to change your life, wake up before the sun and take a cold shower!  It is the most awesome experience in the world.  It totally wakes you up, for obvious reasons, but also gives you an amazing rush and experience of circulation which is fabulous for your skin and all of your organs.  Any emotional freak outs, any craziness, can be completely healed by a cold shower.  Alright so, moving on, then we do a recitation called Jap ji.  Followed by about a half hour of yoga, and then by seven mantras which we chant.  Of course in this article I cannot tell you what all of the chants are, and how to do the practice.  You can come and attend one of our courses to have an experience of that.  Or check out one of the links below for more information.

What I can tell you is that this practice has changed by life.  It has given me the opportunity as a human being, in the best and worst use of the word, in all of my experience, to reach the Divine.  Why?

Here is why, and the number one thing I wish to convey.

I do it every day.  Let me repeat that.  I do it every day.  Like the heart beat, I am consistent.  With consistency we convince the mind that yes, in fact we are putting our Divinity first, we are prioritizing it at the top, that this is in fact the core experience that we are choosing to have.  Daily practice.  That is how we are going to change the world.  That is how we are going to bring peace to this planet.  One practitioner at a time.  And so we set aside 2.5 hours each day, we give a little over 10% of our day to God, and as my teacher Yogi Bhajan says, then God gives Himself/Herself to you.

What is my goal with all of this? To have sacred mantras in my mind all day, all night, all the time.  Am I there yet?  No.  Do I have a method to get there?  Yes.

Join me my friends.  Find a way to have a daily practice.  Put Divinity in the front seat, and watch as your life, even if ever so slowly, changes and transforms.  We have to start somewhere.  And if you are like me, the chaos, the noise, the confusion, the drama, is well, let’s just say, not really working any longer.  Let us find the stillness, and even for a moment allow for the boredom to set in.  Ah yes, the boredom!  Where we can finally be still long enough to hear the laughter of a child.  Where we can finally be still enough to see how much God truly loves us.  Where we can finally just be.

Sat Nam. God Bless You.

Snatam_Kaur

Snatam Kaur is a beloved teacher of chant and yoga whose dedication to peace, love and wellbeing have inspired students and audiences around the planet. She is one of the most popular New Age artists of all time, selling over 70,000 albums a year with enthusiastic press about her music everywhere from the Houston Chronicle to the Hindustan Times. She’s been featured in publications such as Oprah Magazine, Yoga Journal, and LA Yoga. Dressed in distinctive Sikh garb, Snatam Kaur embodies the Sikh message of strength through inner serenity. snatamkaur.com

Join Snatam Kaur at Hollyhock on Cortes Island Sept 13-16, 2013, for Awaken the Kundalini.

 

Krishna Das Performs at Grammy Awards

Check out Krishna Das, past Hollyhock Presenter, live at the Grammy Awards in February 2013

The Inner Tradition of Yoga – Michael Stone

“Yoga doesn’t get deeper by adding more and more poses.” – Michael Stone
via centreofgravity.org

For many initiates, yoga may appear to be purely a corporeal activity—a practice related solely to the pursuit of fitness—or perhaps as a recreational and social pastime to be enjoyed with friends. While yoga may indeed serve as a means to physical well-being or provide opportunities to forge new relationships, it also extends to us an opportunity to turn inward and “let go.” As Michael Stone—yoga teacher and psychotherapist—suggests, moving beyond the presumed externality of the body in the practice of asana (pose) is something that requires us to move more deeply inward into the heart of yoga itself. But for a beginner who’s just attended a series of classes that have focused on the very physical sensations and positioning of a downward dog or a spinal twist, what does it mean to turn inward, and just what exactly is the role of asana then anyway?

Michael presents The Inner Tradition of Yoga at Hollyhock June 28 –  July 3, 2013.

Psoma Yoga by Donna Martin

“In this practice we want to become curious about whatever we notice: a tightness in the chest or belly, perhaps, or an uneven distribution of weight. We then begin to study it a little, perhaps even very slightly exaggerating it to help us become even more aware of the experience that goes with it.     Another way to practice is to explore any postures or movements that invite the habitual patterns to change and to think of these simply as experiments.”

 

Psoma Yoga  
by Donna Martin
via www.donnamartin.net 

 

Namaste! 

 I have been practising and teaching yoga since 1970. I studied with teachers of various traditions and lineages, including several trained by Iyengar and Desikachar, as well as yoga therapy with A.G.Mohan. My approach has also been influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, Kum Nye, and by teachers of the Feldenkrais Method. I have also worked as a stress management specialist, addictions counselor, and bodymind therapist. Since 1990 I have worked closely with Ron Kurtz, creator of the Hakomi Method, and have been an international trainer of that method since 1996. I am coming back to teaching yoga with a strong Hakomi and Buddhist influence and call this approach Psoma Yoga. 

 This is a body/mind/spirit practice which can be used for yourself to enhance your yoga and/or meditation practice. It can be also be offered as a way to teach yoga classes, or to support others in their healing journey. It, in the ancient yoga tradition, is grounded in the practice of mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is a state of mind that involves the ability to be fully present, aware of whatever is happening, receptive to any subtle nuances and changes that occur. It requires a sense of wonder, an openness to what is, an absence of an agenda or judgment or any attachment to outcome.

The practice is to continually notice how we do things, not just what we do.

Practicing mindfulness in standing, for example, we can notice the habitual and automatic patterns that organize the way we stand, without moving to “correct” them. How are we standing? And how does our way of standing in our body express the way we stand in relation to others and to Life?

In this practice we want to become curious about whatever we notice: a tightness in the chest or belly, perhaps, or an uneven distribution of weight. We then begin to study it a little, perhaps even very slightly exaggerating it to help us become even more aware of the experience that goes with it.     Another way to practice is to explore any postures or movements that invite the habitual patterns to change and to think of these simply as experiments.

What happens as we do this pose or movement? How does it feel? Where does the body feel resistance? How does it change the way the body relates to the ground? To the space around the body? To another person? How do we feel different in the body after doing this pose or movement?

When we are ready to change, and when we offer our body a new alternative that feels more natural and nourishing, the change can happen easily.    

“Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you  as what happens outside. If you get the inside right,  the outside will fall into place.”

The intention of yoga and meditation practices is to cultivate a greater capacity for quiet self-reflection, the kind of self-witnessing, self-acceptance, and self-understanding, that allows for a more liberating and creative participation in Life. One of the most useful things we can learn from our practice is the capacity to calm ourselves down when distressed. Only by calming down and finding a quiet place inside, where we can just be with an experience, only then can we find the freedom to respond, rather than react.

The inner peace we will find is healing both for ourselves and for others.

 

Psoma Yoga as a Personal Practice 

In this approach to yoga as a personal practice, we follow these steps:

1. We establish a safe and loving context for learning and healing to occur by establishing a calm, compassionate, appreciative reflective presence and connection with ourselves. We practise being with ourselves with kindness and respect.

2. We use mindfulness and reflective presence to become more aware of how we are organizing our bodily experience, especially in any ways that are unnecessarily limiting or hurtful.

3. We pay attention to present bodily experience to discover how our body is expressing attitudes and beliefs, and how each bodily expression is organized by unconscious habits.

4. We maintain an experimental attitude and use mindfulness to allow for the possibility of change that comes through enhanced awareness… what are we doing habitually and automatically, and what would be a nourishing alternative to our old patterns?

5. We complete with the experience of something physically (and spiritually) nourishing, staying with the experience long enough for it to integrate and penetrate our cells and our bodymind.

In Psoma Yoga the practice is to continually notice how we do things, not just what we do. Practicing mindfulness in standing, for example, we can notice the habitual and automatic patterns that organize the way we stand, without hurrying to “correct” them.

We want to become fascinated with whatever we notice: a tightness in the chest or belly, perhaps, or an uneven distribution of weight. We then want to study it a little, perhaps even very slightly exaggerating it to help us become even more aware.

Our habits tend to resist what feels like a correction and the result might be a kind of layering of tension patterns. For example, if the habit is to round the shoulders, there is a systematic tightening of certain muscles. Simply to bring the shoulders back, without addressing the habitual holding patterns, merely adds another layer of tension. When the correcting action stops, there is an inevitable return to the habitual pattern unless there is some kind of change in consciousness.

The attitude we bring to our practice in Psoma Yoga is one of curiosity and appreciation. All our habits, even those involving unnecessary tension, were created as attempts to serve us, to help us function. With an experimental approach, we can discover and explore our habitual ways of doing things in order to bring them more fully into consciousness. Consciousness is choice. We can also experiment with alternative ways, paying attention to the felt sense of the experience we have as we do something different than our habits. The quality of attention we bring to this practice actually changes our habits and experiences by changing the brain and the signals it sends to the body.

Let the asanas be doorways to your personal experience, which, in turn, invites you to a deeper sense of self. The practice is one of coming home.

 

SITTING: HIPS

Sit on the ground with the sole of your left foot placed against the inside of your right thigh, your right foot back by your right hip. Arrange yourself this way as comfortably as possible. Feel how your sitting bones rest differently on the ground. Is there any space between your right sitting bone and the ground?

Close your eyes and just feel the flow of breath into and out of the body. Notice if there is, anywhere in your body, an impulse for movement… Feel any places in your body where there is tightness, holding, or resistance…

Intentionally take over doing whatever you notice happening and gently do it on purpose. Rest for a moment and just study whatever comes to your attention. Then, bring your attention again to your right sitting bone. Feel how the weight of your body is supported by the ground. As you inhale, gently lift the right sitting bone slightly higher, letting it settle again as you exhale. Do this mindfully a few more times. Then rest. What do you notice… what do you feel?

Again, inhaling, let the right sitting bone lift slightly… pause: notice any impulses, any hints of a movement that wants to happen. Allow yourself to move gently with these impulses. (example: Do you feel an impulse to rotate and move into a twist?) Then come back to the starting position.

Rest. Feel any change in the relationship of your sitting bones to the ground.

Study for a moment how you feel generally in the posture now. Repeat the position and movements on the other side. How do the sides feel different?

 

SAVASANA (corpse pose)

Lying on your back, knees bent, feet standing, arms by your sides. Just sense the shape of your back on the ground and feel your body being supported. Very gradually let one leg, then the other, extend long on the ground. Study how this changes the shape of the back on the ground. Feel the weight of the legs and arms supported by the ground. Notice if one leg seems less supported than the other. Create some tightness in this leg, as if you were about to lift it right off the ground. Then release. Tighten again… then release… Repeat this with the other leg.

Sense any changes in how the legs feel supported by the ground. Feel the arms. If one arm seems less in contact with the ground, tighten it as you did with the leg. Then release. Do it again… release. Repeat with the other arm. (If both arms or legs feel about the same, tighten them simultaneously and release several times.) Feel the weight of the head on the ground. Imagine just starting to lift the head without actually lifting it. Then relax. Repeat. Now feel the flow of breath. Imagine or sense the breath coming in and up from the ground, rising into the front body as you inhale, and sinking back down into the ground from the back body as you exhale. You may feel a slight sensation of rising… almost like levitating… as you inhale, followed by a settling feeling as you exhale.

Experience this sense of rising slightly away from the ground and sinking back into the ground with your full body weight as you feel the breath moving into and out of the body. Then rest. Surrender yourself to the support of the ground.