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Gurus: The Lights that Guide

Posted by on Jun 3, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

 

An old man wearing a long grey beard and dressing modestly while sitting in full lotus position with his eyes closed. This is generally the image we have of a guru, along with other westernized fictional characters that have indirectly taken over this role in a somewhat peculiar way; such as Yoda from Star Wars, Rafiki from Lion King, or Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda. Most of us recognize words of truth and wisdom when we hear them, be it from a real person or an animated character on a screen. In some way, individuals and society as a whole have always needed an enlightened figure that can make sense out of the chaos and confusion that, at times, seem to be taking over our lives; but who are these illuminated beings? What is their duty or function and how are they important when it comes to your yoga practice and path?

With its Sanskrit word Gu standing for “darkness” and Ru meaning “dispeller,” the term Guru refers to that one who dispels darkness. In other words, these saint-like people are those ones who have already found light and thus help others find it too. They act like spiritual transmitters who radiate peace, love, and compassion in a continuous way; while helping their disciples get in touch with their higher Self. A Guru does not have students but devotees.

Some might confuse acarya or upadhyaya who are yoga teachers with Gurus, but the difference relies in that a yoga teacher knows about asanas, yoga philosophy and ideas and thus trains his or her pupils accordingly. A Guru, on the other hand, is an individual who has found unity and enlightenment and hence guides his or her devotees toward their own journey of illumination; because as master Paramahansaji once said “the blind cannot lead the blind.” Of course, an acarya or upadhyaya can become a Guru, just like any other human being, but not all yoga teachers are necessarily Gurus.

In ancient times, parampara or yoga knowledge was passed on from a Guru to a disciple as this was the only way to make sure that yoga teachings were effective, true and complete. The devotee was able to start imparting knowledge himself solely after having spent several years under his master’s tutelage. It is said that the Guru was a living example of his teachings and his presence would bring fulfillment to all relationships.

As it can clearly be seen, the world surrounding yoga has substantially changed, especially in the West were this venerable tradition was adopted with no in depth foundation, philosophy, and let alone history. Yoga schools keep being conceived by the second, while yoga teachers keep getting their instructor certificates by the minute and, so, progressively the importance of genuine Gurus and the overall basics of the Vedic philosophy that moves yoga are washed away. For many dedicated yoga practitioners, finding a trustable and authentic Guru may sound like an impossible or frustrating challenge, but when circumstances truly do not allow it; then one must not stop with authentically walking the path of yoga. Although there is no real substitute for a human being that has reached illumination, you can always find guidance in texts that previous or modern Gurus have left behind or in people whose positive qualities you truly admire. It is clear that we are the only ones setting limits to our own existence and experience; therefore, nothing should be able to stop you but yourself. You can be sure that when the time comes, you will find your way to that great sage you have been waiting for.

 

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Yoga for a Calm Mind

Posted by on Apr 24, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There are a lot of benefits to practicing yoga. It is a great way to add activity to your day, improve flexibility, and build strength. These are some of the physical benefits of yoga, but today let’s take a look at poses that are going to help your mental health as well. Being calm comes from a number of things; first being grounded, second being still, and finally being present. Here are some poses that can help you achieve these states, summing up to help you enjoy a calm mind.


Being Grounded

Grounding is the feeling of being part of the Earth. This grounding lets you pull energy from the Earth, and remove negative energy by letting the Earth take it away. It is a very common idea within the yoga community, and while not to be taken literally, it is a great visualization. Grounding is part of almost all poses, as your balance and energy for all poses come from grounding. Mountain pose is an example of a pose that focuses almost exclusively on grounding. The visualization of grounding lets you clear your mind, calming your adrenal systems, and relaxing your body.

Being Still

A mind that isn’t calm is going to be looking for ways to react. This can be exhausting for your mind and body. Taking some time to just be still can help you get your mind into a calm state. Poses that focus on balance are going to help you the most with being still. It allows your busy mind to be focused on your keeping your balance, letting you be calm. You will find that poses that rely on balance can be very dependent on your skill level. To start building your balance, begin with a Tree pose. As this becomes easier you can expand onto a Bent Tree, or even up to a Half Lotus pose.

Being Present

Poses that help you be present in the moment rely on being difficult to hold. This effort makes you focus on the pose, and can help release tension that comes from being agitated. Depending on where you are in your practice, you may need to modify these poses, either to make them more difficult or to make them easier. The Plank pose is a great pose to increase your presence. You can make it easier by staying on your knees, instead of coming up to your toes. If you can hold a Plank pose for a minute or more, you may need something more challenging. Try doing a Plank pose with just one foot on the ground, or a side Plank pose, to make this suit your yoga experience.


To calm your mind you want to be grounded, still, and present. There are a number of different poses that can help you do that; however, here is a place to start. Mountain pose is going to be a great pose to ground you, Tree pose is a great way to work on being still, and Plank pose is a good start to help you be present. As you continue your practice you are sure to find modifications to work the best to calm you.

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Three Simple Yoga Flows You Can Practice Anywhere

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I have been looking for ways to shred a few stubborn pounds and maintain a healthy body weight. I became curious if yoga can provide the recommended cardio. Fortunately, for yoga addicts like me, yoga does have cardio options. Recently, I found that a few yoga poses that do qualify as cardio.

What is Cardio?

Cardio exercise is any exercise that raises your heart rate and respiration, it is the movement that is rhythmic and uses large groups of muscles repetitively.

Cardio exercise is beneficial because it strengthens your heart and lungs while training your heart to work quicker and manage oxygen more efficiently throughout your body. Other benefits include increased energy, reduced body
fat, stress and depression reduction, and improved sleep!

The Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 30 minutes of cardio activity on most days. 

Here are some recommended yoga poses and sequences that I love!

Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)

This is one of my favorites, and I believe it is the fundamental sequence to learn so you can use it every day!

Bring your attention to your breathing in this sequence and attach the inhale to one movement and the exhale to the following movement. Once you learn the sequence you can breathe through each pose in a moving meditation.

  1. Come to the front of your mat.
  2. Inhale. Bring the arms out to the sides and up over your head, touching palms. Look up. Roll your
    shoulders down and press into the balls of your feet.
  3. Exhale. Release your arms out to the sides and forward bend over your legs (uttanasana).
  4. Inhale. Look up, as you come to a stop, putting your hands on the ground or your shins. Make sure you bend at your sit bones and flatten your back.
  5. Exhale. Press into the floor with your hands, jump back into and on an exhalation bend your arms into a low pushup.
  6. Then lower all the way to the ground.
  7. Inhale. Push into the ground with your hands and you straighten your arms, look up, and pull up your kneecaps. Exhale. Look back, bending at the hips. *for a fast pace, just stay one breath.
  8. Exhale. Bend the knees and jump your feet up to the front of your mat.
  9. Inhale up to a flat back and then exhale back to the forward bend.
  10. Inhale. Lift your arms out to the sides and up, and come to the raised arms pose.
  11. Exhale. Come to stand in a mountain pose and bring your hands to a prayer pose at the heart.

Repeat three to five times.

Warrior II

  1. Take a wide stance on your yoga mat. Turn one foot out toward the front of the mat and step the other foot
    back but don’t turn the foot out. Bend your front knee, arms to the side and look forward.
  2. Take deep 5 breaths.
  3. Come back to Chaturanga Dandasana, (steps 2 through 4 are called a ‘vinyasa’).
  4. Upward-Facing Dog.
  5. Downward Facing Dog.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

Crescent Pose

  1. From Warrior II pose, turn your torso to the front, let the back foot come onto the toes. Reach your hands
    up with your palms parallel to each other. Look up, but keep your shoulders rolled back and wide.
  2. Breathe here 5 to 10 breaths.
  3. Cartwheel hands to the mat to do your vinyasa: Chaturanga Dandasana, Upward-Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog.
  4. Repeat the Crescent pose on the left side.

Use the Sun Salutation, Vinyasa infused Warrior II and Crescent Pose to provide yourself with a Cardio exercise in order to stay happy and healthy. In Yoga, this type of a fast and repetitive movement is seen as stimulating tapas (a fiery self-discipline). By developing tapas in our selves, Yoga shows us that we can push the mind against its own limits, leading to a spiritual growth and transformation.

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