Krishna Das or "KD" is one of the best reasons as to how Bhakti Yoga & Chanting can change your life. In his case, he has devoted his life to devotional yogic chanting in service of his guru , Sri Neem Karoli Baba & the Divine. And because of this, he has become the soundtrack of many a yoga class & inspired practitioners / seekers like myself to dive deeper into the Ocean of Bhakti. As Jivamukti phrases it , " Chanting tunes the subtle vibrations to the cosmic frequencies. Once tuned, the practitioner can enjoy yoga , automatic harmony with the Divine , pulsating in the Ocean of Bliss. " So the whole " No Chanting" scene is sheer ignorance (as touted on sites like YELP where anyone with a laptop can flaunt their lack of a Mensa level education) with a comment like " I go to his class because there is No Chanting - " Good luck to you then in finding a class in Rio, where most teachers rock an invocation in Brazilian accented Sanskrit before & after the class & quote passages from the Vedantas/ Upanishads in between asanas. As Sri Dharma Mittra says : " Some classes at some schools are getting too much into the PHYSICAL. It's only about their figures for some people. Others do yoga to prepare for meditation, which they do only in order to succeed in their job. Too few practitioners today are looking for SELF-REALIZATION, which is the true purpose of yoga ". That's Brasilian Soul -
" There is joy in emptiness " ; HH the Dalai Lama .It was a double blessing today, what with 1 of my principal teachers , Vytas B. conducting his annual 3 hour Master Class, and another principal teacher, Jerome Mercier, practicing along side in the front row of the sangha. Prior to the start of the MC, Jerome was talking about surf breaks (Canggu, Padang Padang in Bali) & then shifted into Depeche Mode (the boys are back , yeah ) & how "Enjoy the Silence " by DM was one of his favorite tunes. So I thought the tune was appropriate for this post on the MC as V took us into SHUNYA or Emptiness / Nothingness via Pranayam , Advanced Asana ( Brahmacharyasana , Salamba Sirsasana ,Adho Mukha Vrksasana ; calling those out in Sanskrit weeded out the Newbies from the " Mastah Blastahs " heh heh ) & Anapana. It felt like being in an ashram as the focus & breath were supremely intense . I was also initially a bit conscious of my alignment in the beginning of the class as Jerome was right by me, but all I had to do was ride his energy & eventually "Enjoy" as Depeche Mode puts it.
And as our President says , " Yes we can " , and that was the same advice ( in the form of a whispered " You can do it " ), to the yogini on my right who had started to wither by the 2nd hour. The lengthy & almost silent savasana ( save for that errant mobile phone ring mid-way ; just tuned it out ) distilled it down to the RASA of Shunya ; where we had all finally dropped the baggage off, sweated the AMA out & blown our minds. I saw the ANANDA in a yogini , Jessica, as she walked out into the street , her face radiating with that "Yoga Afterglow" , as she exclaimed , " We should have this every month ". Yes, Thank you & PRANAM to my teachers for taking us there.
Just got back from the preview screening of "Enlighten Up" . I went in order to support my teacher, Ashley Turner, who was co-presenting on behalf of Exhale Venice. As much as I endeavored to get into the premise of the docu , it really wasn't happening for me. Norman Allen put it very well midway , "Too many cooks in the kitchen "; i.e. how can you get Nick Rosen enlightened in 6 months with more than a bakers dozen of teachers and styles from traditional to cheesy thrown in the mix ? ( If it's Wednesday, it must be Bikram day ,yay )
Which proves once again that as Sri Pattabhi Jois puts it always, "Practice, practice, practice " & with a principal teacher at that . The only portions of note were Sri Dharma Mittra's feature, Jivamukti , B.K.S. Iyengar , Sri Pattabhi Jois, & the Bhakti gurus.
As a teacher at Exhale Venice mentioned a couple of weeks ago," Yoga is India's gift to the world. "
Here is my basic road-map to the Temple of Good Vibrations :
* Study & practice under teachers who shine brightly , guide & inspire. * Find a true GURU. As there are False Prophets, there are True Gurus. Once your soul hungers for one, you will find eventually find the guru. * The GURU has the flashlight that delineates the path towards the teacher within. That has always been a personal analogy. * Always BELIEVE & have FAITH. * As Deepak Chopra phrased it , " See yourself in the light; only a saint's light is brighter." * Be GRATEFUL. * Be GENEROUS. * BHAKTI. * Because of my work environment , this has become a personal MANTRA : LALA Hollywood , NYC / Wall Street's " Greed is Good" is just MAYA or ILLUSION. * Laugh frequently ; it's all a COSMIC JOKE.
" With constant practice , one can improve one's physical body & mental attitude rapidly , thereby igniting the HIGHER MOTIVES of making oneself useful to himself & all mankind. Be Receptive." Sri Dharma Mittra
" What about writing a blog about keeping yourself in a higher vibration ? "
This was an email sent a couple of weeks ago from a supporter of the blog , yogini & photographer Lonnie Butler .
My response to her query was : " What are your thoughts on the process? "
This has been marinating in my mind, what with the prevailing " Let's make yoga a stretch & abs class" vibe here in LA LA ; as I drove back from the OC Thursday night and zipped through Abbott Kinney , YAS Studio's INANE mission statement on their window boasted " No Granola, No Chanting " - i.e. No Yoga , hah.
Yoga Journal's capitulation to "The Hills" generation by bringing in the supremely CHEESY & IDIOTIC "Inappropriate Guy" as a guest editor . These all reek of AFB : " Anything For a Buck" at the expense of what should be a classic MIND, BODY & SPIRIT journey.
The NY Times un-enlightening waste of space/ fluff piece on" DOGA" ( yoga with your dog ) & "yogic" film maker's continuing fascination with Diamond Dallas Page ( of YRG : Yoga for Regular Guys ) as comic relief in their docs.
So here are Lonnie's suggestions on how to keep the good vibrations flowing URDHVA / upwards while we are in the midst of this " HOLLY-YUGA " :
" I started reading up on things to keep myself in a higher vibration because I have some more battles to deal with in terms of my health & I thought that maybe you should blog about this.
Synchronicity happens when you are in a higher vibration. ABUNDANCE happens in a higher vibration.
I know when I am in a higher vibration my intuition is stronger and the answers I am looking for will come.
Since I can't practice physical yoga ( for now ) , I know my meditation practice will help keep me in a higher vibration. "
* Music * Meditation * Stay away from NEGATIVE PEOPLE * Eating healthy foods * Giving * Watching less TV * Try not to watch the news
Vytas B. walks us through Cobra & Downward Facing Dog.
"Many students in yoga classes around here have no idea what the difference is between the Cobra pose ( Bhujangasana ) and the Upward Facing Dog pose ( Urdhva Mukha Svanasana ). Many don't even know how to do either one properly. In a group class, it can sometimes be difficult to listen to a teacher's direction , so here it is in a simple vid.
The Cobra is great for newcomers to the practice because it can be modified so easily; simply don't press the chest up as high. In this pose, the hip points, pubic bone, and all the legs stay ON THE FLOOR.
The Upward Facing Dog is a specific posture in which the arms & legs are both straight and strong and NOTHING is on the floor except for the hands & tops of the feet.
In both postures, make sure to roll the shoulders back slightly , pull the chest forward, keep the legs active and be sensitive to jamming the lower back.
Have fun exploring the practice of backbending."
Thanks to Alonzo E. & Mike P. for their input with this video. See you in class!
This version by Rufus W., Moby & Sean Lennon has been popping up frequently on my IPod's shuffle setting. " Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe. Jai Guru Deva OM. " John Lennon supposedly wrote these words after another recurring argument with his then wife Cynthia. The mantra was influenced by the Beatles' studies with the Maharishi Mahesh.
Because of my heavy work day travel schedule, in order to keep up with an intention of 3 group classes a week ( in addition to daily self-practice ) , I've been taking classes twice on Saturdays for the past 3 weeks. The 1st class is at a "populist" -centric studio which I've considered home for the past 7 + years, and the 2nd at a supposedly "elitist" one in Venice. The irony being that the "elitist" location allows one to truly delve into PRATYAHARA & DHYANA prior to practice.Is it because the word "Sacred Movement" was their ex-monicker ? The 1st location has a student base that for the most part seems to behave like the proverbial "inmates running the asylum" , with words, chatter & babel not just like "rain into a paper cup" but a virtual auditory "DELUGE". At the 6 PM class yesterday , the teacher @ Exhale Venice provided individualized instruction to me via a, " You are not an ordinary person. I want to expand your consciousness." When I thanked him after class for this wisdom, the insightful response was , " Sometimes words are not necessary - " Hari OM.
Hari Om Tat Sat ( Hari, the Lord, is infinite spirit , that is the Truth ). Via thupamodel is this vid shot @ the Ananda Ashram with Jai Uttal & Daniel Paul chanting bhakti Kirtan during a weekend retreat.