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Ocean & Wave

We are both the vast ocean of consciousness and the wave on the surface. The ocean represents unlimited possibilities and unbounded spaciousness. The wave, which constantly rises and falls, represents our individuality as no two waves are identical. Tantra embraces both the ocean and the wave.

To remember the vastness of our true nature is difficult because installed within all of us at birth is a kind of “cosmic forgetfulness” – we have forgotten where we came from. We generally walk around like oceanless waves. But in reality, the ocean has never left the wave and in fact, the wave is composed entirely of the ocean.

What keeps a wave a wave? According to Tantra, it’s called “mala” – dust on the surface of consciousness. The malas are like tight rings that bind us to our limited identity. The most common mala is lack, which takes on many forms – not enoughness, unworthiness, sadness, depression, lack of motivation, and doubt. Being perfectionistic, I’ve had to learn how to embrace my feeling of lack. Especially when I first began to teach, I was extremely self-critical. I remember a time when I felt particularly self-critical. Even when the students told me how wonderful their experience was and that they had breakthroughs and insights, I couldn’t receive their compliments. However, over the years, I’ve been able to release my unreachable expectations and self-criticisms and appreciate myself a little more. In a humble way, I can share in the joy of my students’ insights and receive them fully in their experience.

This oceanic consciousness is already inside of you and is closer to you than your own breath. In addition, there’s a way to access the ocean again and again in […]

By |November 8th, 2017|Ashaya Yoga|0 Comments|

Follow the Dragonflies: Reconnect with the Wisdom of Nature

Happy Fall! In general, as human beings, we have become extremely disconnected from the earth and the natural cycles of life. This brings up several questions for me: What are the natural cycles of the earth? What is the power behind the earth’s cycles? What is the intelligent life force of nature? In Tantra, nature is inextricably linked to the Absolute, the great light of universal consciousness, that governs all things. You could say then that being disconnected from nature is the same as being disconnected from the universe. In yoga, we know that we are the microcosm of the macrocosmic universe. Therefore, the wisdom of the entire universe is hidden within our own hearts. Hence, practices like yoga are incredibly supportive in helping us penetrate deep levels of consciousness to find, know, and experience the truth of our existence. Take the dragonfly insect, for instance. Every fall season, dragonflies follow the southerly wind currents to assist their migration to warmer climates. Raptors also migrate south in the fall and they too, use the southerly wind currents to assist their migration. However, they time it just right such that they fly into the swarms of dragonflies which become their dinner. Now dragonflies are fast flying insects and very difficult to catch when flying solo. But when dragonflies fly in large numbers, the raptors have no problem catching them and feeding on them throughout their migration south. In the early summer, the same pattern happens in reverse by catching the northerly winds to fly north to more temperate climates.

Take the Victory Ride with Self-Appreciation

Recently I taught a Yoga Therapeutics course at Kripalu and it was wonderful. The students were incredibly receptive to the teachings and I felt a very strong heart-connection with them. After the course, being in high spirits, I did what I often do in the summer after teaching – I took a “victory ride” on my bike through the beautiful Berkshire Mountains.

I was so high on life I honestly do not remember pedaling. Something greater than myself was doing the work. All I remember is the feeling of the summer late afternoon breeze on my face, the smell of the farmland, the heat of the sun, and the beautiful summer light cast upon the colorful hills of green pastures and fields of multi-colored wild flowers all around me. It was mesmerizing. My senses were alive. I saw everything as if in bright “HD” clarity. When passing some very large cows, I felt a connection with them, as though I knew the experience of “cow-ness”. I had a feeling of love and connection with everything.

Then an insight arose. I was happy because I had served something greater than myself and gave it my all. There was no residue left behind. I was sincerely pleased with myself. I consciously acknowledged myself for the good work I did, not in an egotistical way, but in an authentic way.

All too often when I look at myself, my habit is to judge and become self-critical. I think we all do this at times, which is normal. But judgement and self-criticism is related to a sense of lack and not being good enough. This is one of the symptoms of perfectionism. You set unreachable goals for yourself that leave you […]

Dharma: Release Stress & Reconnect to Nature!

Now more than ever, we need “dharma”. Dharma, synonymous with being connected to nature, is about doing things that reduce stress and bring you back to the truth of who you are. Have you heard the new rage? It’s called Forest Bathing – It’s a kind of therapy or guided meditation that gets you to put down your device and go into nature to just be, open your senses, and experience the natural world. We are part of the natural world. But as we’ve become more digital, we’ve lost touch with nature.

Dharma, from the Sanskrit root, dhr, to make firm, to nurture, or to sustain, is the fabric of truth that underlies all reality. Sva Dharma means “one’s own dharma”. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna teaches, “Better to act upon one’s own dharma poorly than another’s well.” He encourages us to be our unique self even if we aren’t perfect. The Tantra teaches that you are an original, a one-of-a-kind, a masterpiece of divine perfection – including your imperfections.

Dr. Douglas Brooks says, “Dharma is principled argument, law, and the deep feeling that the world has spiritual value. Without Dharma, we are doomed and with it we are held to rigorous account.”

Here’s another one of my favorite wisdom teachings on Sva Dharma from Dr. Seuss: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you’er than you.”

One of the key aspects of the yogic path is the process of finding your dharma – your purpose in life. But often our dharma is buried under our “drama”. We all get caught up in the ups and downs of life. We remain like buoys on the surface of the ocean, always being thrown […]

Nourish the Yoga Teacher

As teachers and caregivers, we need to nourish ourselves. Because we give to others all day, our well can easily dry up. Although the Tantra tells us that we are always connected to an infinite stream of ever-flowing, abundant life force, our capacity to access this is limited.

Our access is determined by our openness to grace and our alignment with nature. In the philosophy of Ashaya, these limitations are natural. In fact, it is true we are limited beings – we get tired and at times feel depleted. Out of its own delight, the great universal energy chooses to limit itself, to self-conceal (sva prachodana), in order to have the joy of revelation again, to self-reveal (sva prakasa). This is the pendulum swing of life.

Nevertheless, as a teacher, I still get depleted.

I know I’m getting close to burnout when I start doing asanas with the students during class. This happened recently in Collingwood, Ontario during a weekend workshop. I didn’t sleep well the night before and I had been running on fumes the week before working intense hours in the office. I just needed to feel alive again (which is always okay). When I recognize this pattern, I ask myself, “What do I need right now?” The answer is almost always, “I need to become a student again. I need to do my practice.”

Teaching yoga on a daily basis can be so overwhelming and draining that we forget to nourish ourselves. But this nourishment is vital to our longevity and our capacity to be inspiring day after day. One of the ways I regain my energy is by studying with the Tantric scholars. I have a whole library of inspirational recordings of my teachers. One of my earliest teachers once said, “Teaching […]