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Twist to Tranquility

Although underrated, twists are powerful poses and have many benefits. They open the primordial channel of energy along the spine – the Sushumna Nadi (channel of grace), which puts you in touch with the universal energy within you. In addition, twists purify the internal organs and are the “tonic” for the spine. Given that the spinal column is the home of the central nervous system which carries “biologic wires” of communication to every part of the body, twists work with the nerves and emotions. When anxious, twists will calm you down. When exhausted, twists rejuvenate and restore you.

At the recent Love Yoga Festival in Falmouth, I taught a class on spinal twists and I began the class with Tantric teachings. You can hear a recording of this talk below. Tranquility is our true nature and is the goal and driver of all yoga paths. We want to find the calm within the chaos, the eye of the hurricane. Tranquility is one of the qualities of the great Absolute that resides within.

But most of us have forgotten how to access tranquility. In the speed of today’s technological world, we’ve lost the patience and perseverance that it takes to cultivate true serenity. We habitually try to find serenity in all of the wrong places through addiction to substances, food, sex, money, etc. At best, these superficial outlets can only bring temporary peace but often lead to more pain, suffering, complications, and chaos – the opposite of serenity.
Life’s path is full of surprises. It twists and turns. The journey of the heart is never a straight line.
We can’t stop this from happening but we can choose how to respond to it. You can either turn away from […]

Finding the Teacher Within

If you were to make a list of all the teachers who have had an impact on your life, who would be on it? The fifth grade teacher who taught you to work hard? The high school biology teacher who taught you to take notes effectively? A music or dance teacher? Your first yoga teacher?
What about you? Are you on your own list of teachers?
We learn from everything we do and every person we meet, whether easy or hard, joyful or painful. No moment that we survive leaves us unchanged. But who helps us learn our lessons from these experiences and relationships? That’s the teacher within.
Everybody has an inner teacher…even you.
Your inner teacher appears when you discover something you’re excited about or you find something that really worked for you. It’s hard not to share it with a friend. We are all hard-wired to share with others what works for us. Whether you do it in a classroom, on a yoga mat, or over coffee, sharing something from your heart is teaching. This skill can be studied and can be developed and refined to such a degree that simply by your sharing from your heart you transform the lives of others. This is what you’ll learn at the Ashaya Yoga In-Depth Study/200-Hour Teacher Training.
The physical, mental, and emotional transformation that you will undergo by participating in this program will be profound.
Many people complete the program and go on to teach yoga classes, workshops, and trainings. You might be one of them; you might not. Regardless, a new light will shine forth. Whether or not you choose to teach in a formal setting, you will touch the lives of friends, loved ones, and even strangers […]

By |September 14th, 2019|Ashaya Yoga|0 Comments|

The Six Healing Assumptions of Ashaya Yoga

I just finished teaching a Yoga Therapeutics Workshop at Kripalu Center and want to share something I taught on the first night.
In Ashaya Yoga Therapeutics we begin with six Healing Assumptions which form the basis of Ashaya Yoga. These assumptions are based on the Tantric philosophy of radical affirmation – learning how to say yes to life with all of your being.

Pain-free living is your birthright. If you’ve been in chronic pain for some time, you’ll need to adjust your expectations and open yourself to a bigger energy.
Healing is a power we all have. No one is exempt from it. We all have the power to heal. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with physical pain for the rest of your life, as human beings, we have the power to adapt to the pain and find peace within ourselves mentally and emotionally. If you can’t heal physically you can heal emotionally or spiritually.
We live in a healing universe. Every cell in your body is pre-programmed for healing. When you cut yourself, your body will immediately attempt to heal itself. It can’t not begin healing. It’s in your DNA.
The key to healing is attitude. Attitude is power. When you are negative and have a pessimistic outlook, you make it harder for life to support you. But when you turn that around, think positively, find something to be grateful for, you open and then life can flow into you and begin to support you. Within an attitude of hope, creative solutions will begin to arise.
Spanda is the pulse of life. It’s the throb of the life force. This pulse is critical in healing. When you balance the opposites of contraction and expansion, […]

Can You Be a Yogi Without Adhikara?

Last week, I was on line at the farm stand, waiting to pay for my greens, corn, and fruit so that I could go home and make a meal of summer’s bounty, when I found myself listening to the women ahead of me. They were visiting the Berkshires for the week, enjoying all that this beautiful part of the planet has to offer. One told the other that she wanted to pause and “do some poses” on their hike today so that she could take pictures for her social media. I went to my car thinking about the ways in which yoga has enriched my life. Over the past three decades, my practice has supported me through some very difficult moments.
Even a little bit of yoga is better than none at all, but how much are you getting out of your yoga practice?
One of the most beautiful things about the practice of yoga is that there is no limit to learning and no limit to the benefits a yogi can derive from study. Each person is responsible for his or her own journey on the path. Some people get on their mat daily; others only sporadically. Some practice only within the confines of weekly class; others develop additional practices such as meditation, chanting, and pranayama (breath work). The level of “studentship” that we bring to our learning is known in Sanskrit as adhikara.
Adhikara means that we are dedicated and open to learning about our bodies, minds, and hearts.
When we cultivate adhikara, we bring our full hearts and whole minds to each practice, each session of meditation, each moment of study, each journal entry.  We are open to the entire experience, not just the result.  […]

Inspiration is a State of Good Health

When you are healthy and living in balance with yourself, others, and life, you automatically release brain cells of inspiration that uplift the soul.

All too often our inspiration wanes because our heart closes down. We encounter some difficulty, challenge, insult, embarrassment, or failure, and our heart plummets into the depths of despair and self-judgment.

Scientists have discovered the happy part of our brains that “spray other areas of the brain” with dopamine – the feel good chemical. (To learn more, be sure to check out the TED Radio Hour Podcast from June 28, 2019 with relationship scientists entitled, “How We Love.”) When we’re sad, like after a breakup or loss of a loved one, another part of the brain becomes active and your inspiration goes down the drain.

Inspiration, from the Latin “inspiritus,” means filled with spirit or the life force. It’s composed of two words, breath and spirit, which, when combined, mean to be alive, filled with the muses, filled with god. From Middle English, it means to inspire or to receive divine guidance.
When inspired, you are engaged in life – there’s no anxiety, no worries, no doubt, no fear because you are too busy being happy. When you’re happy you are far away from doubt, sadness, and fear.
Fear steals your joy. It’s a robber and feeds on the heart like a parasite. Fear is the corrosive agent of the heart and breaks it down, tears it apart, separates it from its healthy connection to all things, people, and life. Fear isolates and diminishes, whereas, love unites and expands.

Inspiration is also related to its “cousin,” enthusiasm, which comes from the Latin en theos, filled with god.

Yoga teaches that, when you do what you love, enthusiasm follows. […]