May 15, 2013

Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga

The science of yoga was known and practiced as far back as 40,000BC, but not clearly documented until AD200. The physician-sage named Patanjali systematized and codified the science of yoga into eight limbs. The name given to this text is Yoga Stutra a kind of map that suggest yoga is not just asana and meditation but also attitudes and behaviors to help you chart your own course to contentment. The Yoga Sutra is specifically designed to lead to greater happiness and spiritual fulfillment for you and everyone around you.

The eightfold path of classical yoga or ashtanga yoga suggests a program of:

Ethical restraints or abstentions (yamas) Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, To move towards moderation, Non-possesiveness

Lifestyle observances (niyamas) Purity, Contentment, Self-discipline to generate heat or light, Self-study/Self-observation, Dedicating all actions to God

Postures (asanas)

Breath control (pranayama) the breath is the bridge between the body and the mind

Withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara) is used as a powerful tool to retrieve our attention that is stolen by external disturbances during the practice of asana.

Concentration (dharana) is used to bring retrieved attention to focus on bodily sensations, this anchors the mind and helps us experience the present moment.

Meditation (dhyana) is established in witness consciousness.

Absorption into the Divine (samadhi) the yogi experiences total absorption where all doing disappears and being appears. It is the experience of oneness with our Higher Self.

The practice of Amrit Yoga integrates all limbs simultaneously.

The practice of any one of the eight limbs of yoga in the absence of the integrative power of witness can be ego motivated and separative. None of the stages of Ashtanga Yoga can be truly practiced with its spiritual depth or trans-formative power without the practice of remaining the unbiased observer to all that is happening.

May this help you deepen your practice.

 

March 28, 2013

Redesign Your Destiny Through Yoga Nidra

One of the most effective and least explored techniques to unleash the power within is yoga nidra. The literal translation of “nidra” is sleep; however, it is a dynamic state, not the unconscious sleep of slumber. Yoga nidra takes you to the alpha state where your brain rhythms drop in to a peaceful, silent, sacred space within. You are simultaneously able to access the power of the logical left brain and the intuitive , insightful right brain. It is a quantum leap beyond the dimension and comprehension of the intellect. It operates from the domain of trust and faith, love and compassion.

I was fortunate to spend a week in Colorado at a 7 day Yoga Nidra Intensive led by Yogi Amrit Desai. We reflected on behaviors we wished to change, asking ourselves, “What is it that I need to shift in myself, to release the blockage that is happening in my life that I am experiencing in the form of fear and resistance, self-judgment, illness, blame, shame, guilt or unhappiness?” We are looking for resolution from within rather than expecting a change from without.

Once we formulated our intention, Yogi Amrit Desai led us into yoga nidra where we affirmed our intention in a deep state of relaxation. Yoga nidra is a safe place to first examine what needs to change and experience the powerful effects of relaxation, intention and letting go of effort in order to make something happen. Each time I practice yoga nidra I come away with a deep respect for its integrative and restorative power and am able to see my intention actualized in my daily life because of the choices I now make to support my intention.

Yoga nidra cannot be understood by talking about it- it must be practiced!

October 28, 2011

Yoga Energy Summit

The Yoga Energy Summit was born out of my desire to connect with my friends and to explore ways in which we can support each other and encourage each other to grow.  The summit was also a way to celebrate my 10 years of bringing yoga and wellness programs to the Chicagoland area.

On Sunday, October 23, 2011 a group of women gathered on our back porch and shared what was important to each of them. Here is a thumbnail sketch of that conversation.

We recognize that the bulk of our human experience does not encourage living with awareness and compassion, however it does exist and it is possible to live more compassionately.

We realize that yoga and other activities (walking the labyrinth, yoga nidra, meditation) have the potential to be centering. Helping us to be in touch with our Source. From this centered place we can set our intention to move out into the world with our true nature, which is love, joy, compassion, peace, and gratitude.  As we are aware of and look for opportunities to share our true nature we see and experience them more.  As we focus on love, joy, compassion, peace and gratitude and move into the world in this way the energy of our true nature increases. We gain a sense that we can create a world that works for everyone. Peace happens person-by-person, moment-by-moment; each loving act increases the sense that living with compassion is possible.

We talked about The Charter for Compassion

(www.charterforcompassion.org) Compassion isn’t a one-way street. It is about giving and receiving as equals. We don’t consider ourselves better than others, we act compassionately and give from a place that fills us up rather than depletes us. When we act with compassion or experience compassion we sense a feeling of coming home.

Will you commit to living more compassionately and support others to do so as well?  Please join us for Yoga Nidra on Sat. Dec. 3 at Yoga Energy after the 9am yoga class. We will conclude with sharing how over the weeks between now and December 3rd you have lived more compassionately.

June 23, 2011

the Wellness Project

Perhaps you have heard me enthusiastically talk about the Wellness Project that I have been involved with since January of 2010. I became involved in the Wellness Project because I am committed to spiritual, physical and emotional well-being.  After learning about the astonishing cost of health care for chronic disease that can be prevented I was excited that yoga was recognized as part of the solution.  Yoga and stress management techniques like mindful breathing and meditation along with other life style changes could help reverse or prevent chronic disease and reduce the high cost of health care.

The prospect of yoga helping individuals feel better and prevent disease is what originally brought me to the program. However, as the six founders (myself included) went through the program, it was the group work that I found so helpful for myself. I realized what I really wanted was to feel more connected to my loved ones, my yoga students, and all those I come in contact with on a daily basis. In the group, I found a place where I felt heard (The experience of feeling heard by another person is healing.) The group work has helped me be more in touch with my feelings and better able to express them.

 

What is it? the Wellness Project is a 10 week community based program dedicated to helping individuals improve their health and well-being through improved communication and life-balance skills, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, meditation, and group support.

 

How did this come about? Six professionals came together to fashion a grass roots community based program based on the principles of Dr. Dean Ornish’s health program. For more than 30 years, Dr. Dean Ornish has directed a series of scientific research studies showing, for the first time, that heart disease, diabetes, obesity, prostate and breast cancer, and high blood pressure can be reversed and prevented by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Dr. Ornish’s wellness programs have been 12-week hospital based programs meeting twice a week for four hours each session, with fitness exercise in the hospital facility. The Wellness Project wants to bring the successes of Dr. Dean Ornish out of the hospitals and into the communities.

How to join a Wellness Project Group: Please give me a call or email me if you are interested in joining the next 10-week session. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Patti                                 630-355-7103

February 11, 2011

Meditation and Wisdom from Ancient Sages

The science of yoga was known and practiced (as far back as 40,000 BCE)  but not clearly documented until 200 ADE, when a physician-sage named Patanjali systematized and codified the science of yoga into eight limbs. The name given to this text is the Yoga Sutra. Patanjali told us in his Yoga Sutra, that there are two aspects to the process of steadying the mind.

1.    Abbyasa or practice: the effort to stay with our object of focus.

2.    Vaiagya or detachment. Detachment is a way of disengaging ourselves from the thoughts, feelings and desires that normally hook our attention.

Practice: One of the game changing recognitions for a meditator is the realization that meditation can go on even when there are thoughts in the mind. Much of the meditator’s art lies in knowing how to work with thoughts and ultimately how to let them dissolve.

The mind is essentially nothing more than a thought clogged form of the pure Awareness that is the goal of our practice.

Consciousness + thoughts= mind.

Consciousness – thoughts= God.

In Indian tradition the only place the mind will be satisfied is in the Self, in the deep abode of pure Consciousness. The mind is restless because it is searching for this consciousness.

The basic practice of catching yourself in distraction and bringing your mind back time and time again strengthens your ability to focus not only during meditation but also when driving your car, writing a report, or perfecting your golf swing. Learning to resist distractions makes you more resistant to boredom, worry, and depression; more grounded.

Meditation allows buried feelings, obstructive ideas and painful, emotions to float to the top of our Consciousness where they can be recognized and let go.

Detachment: The key, the sages have told us, to entering our own essence, our innate wholeness is to let go of the feeling of being separate from all others. In meditation we can practice the three levels of detachment.

1.    Releasing tension in the body. Scan the body for tension, notice where you feel tight and on the exhale let go of tension.

2.    Let go of the layers of desire, even the desire for enlightenment.

3.    Let go of your attachment to being the thinker, the one who identifies with the thoughts and desires. Instead, you identify yourself the witness, the watcher of your thoughts. A classic way to do this is to look at thoughts as if they were clouds passing in the sky. The sky isn’t affected by the clouds racing across it, it isn’t changed if the clouds are big and black or if they pour rain. In the same way, your Awareness, the real you-isn’t touched by thoughts. Your Consciousness is completely unaffected by any thing that arises. Once you begin to identify with the sky of Awareness, rather than the clouds of thought a great sense of spaciousness arises.

So you can see why meditation is so important. We not only have the opportunity to learn to focus and to let go, to feel peace and tranquility while we are practicing meditating we are also expanding our capacity to connect with our inner source. That place in us that is Changeless and Eternal. I encourage you to practice meditation every day and to come and practice meditation in community before each yoga class on the second week of each month at Yoga Energy.

I greet the light with in you!

“Thoughtful Meditation” by Sally Kempton. February, 2011 Yoga Journal. Portions of Sally Kempton’s article was used in creating this news letter.

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