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Earth and Becoming a Yoga Teacher

Yoga teaches that we come from the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and sky.
I have found it very helpful to use these elements as a lens through which to see myself and my reality. Each element offers insights into how well you are integrated into your life. Anyone can use them to become more balanced and to leverage your gifts such that your life becomes more fulfilling and joyous.
Earth is about getting grounded in who you are.
It’s about knowing yourself, knowing what you want, and then aligning with what you truly desire. What’s your life purpose? What’s your life agenda? Knowing this simplifies and organizes your life such that decisions are easier to make and you gain more control over your life direction.
Sky is transcendental, unbounded, and free.
But you need earth to know sky. Tantra teaches that it takes the mortal to experience the immortal. You already have everything you need inside of you. This leads me to understand how earth is really sky condensed. Earth contains everything in sky but in limited form. The practice of yoga is about removing the obstacles to this unbounded energy within so that it’s free to arise within us. This is why when you open to a bigger energy (sky consciousness), your life gets lighter, solutions to problems suddenly appear, and your intuition opens up.

Earth has the wonderful quality of steadiness. Earth moves slowly and barely changes. Earth represents your capacity to be steady, consistent, patient, and grounded in who you are and what you need. A lack of earth energy leaves you feeling empty, ungrounded, unfocused, and insecure. Once you go there, you can easily spiral downward into self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.

Earth keeps you […]

The Value of Resistance

I just returned from teaching at the Toronto Yoga Conference. What an amazing event! So many open-hearted and receptive yogis. There were over 3000 attendees this year and a few of my classes had over 100 students. The energy was magnificent and uplifting.

Among the many teachings I offered, I spoke about the role of resistance in our spiritual growth. Everyone experiences resistance. But only the yogis (those seeking freedom) know the value of it. It’s all too typical to resist our resistance when it arises. That’s normal and biologically an instinctive reaction against pain. But we all know that when you resist your resistance, everything gets worse. You harden down inside yourself and your original resistance becomes a burden that can be overwhelming. You have to step back, take a breath, and at least try to release your resistance to your resistance. When you can let go of your resistance to your resistance, resistance stands alone and offers its message.

I’ve been going to Masters Swim practice for over seven years and almost every time about an hour before practice, I experience resistance. Maybe it’s because most of our practices are in the evening and by the end of the day I’m tired. But it never fails. I say to myself, “I don’t really feel like working out. I’m tired. The water is so cold.” There can be a slew of other poor excuses. But then it never fails. After the workout I feel refreshed, alive, and full of energy. This is the reason why I continue to swim. But I always forget the benefit before the practice. For resistance of this type, it’s good to push through it and do it anyway. 

It’s a subtle […]

Mantra as the Access Key to Freedom

Twenty minutes before boarding my plane for Denver, on my way to Joshua Tree, CA for a two-week meditation retreat, I had the urge to stretch. I had to wake up before 4 a.m. to make it to the airport on time and didn’t have a chance to do my own yoga practice. My body really needed to stretch, so I found an open space just to the side of the gate area (always a portable yoga studio nearby) and began stretching and breathing.

As I looked around at the people watching me (some staring at me with the longing to join in) and at the very bland environment of the Bradley International Airport, I felt free. At the oddest time and in the most “unyogic” space, I felt free for no reason at all.

Svatantrya is the Sanskrit term for freedom, sva is one’s own, tantrya is freedom. One’s own freedom suggests that this freedom is intrinsic, it’s imprinted in our DNA, and it’s available to everyone. Then why can’t we access it more often? My guess is because we don’t create the right circumstances for it. We don’t have the right mindset. But occasionally, randomly, when you least expect it, you experience freedom.

Just by simply flowing with what is rather than resisting life, freedom arises naturally.

After glowing for a while in my own freedom while in Warrior One Pose, my mind continued to seek an explanation for what caused me to experience freedom. Then it dawned on me – I chanted mantras in the car for an hour on the way to the airport. Could it be that I was experiencing the benefit of mantra practice? I have known for a long time that mantras possess […]

Access Wonder and Astonishment

I’m here on retreat in Joshua Tree, California for two weeks. We are primarily meditating, chanting mantras, and studying/reciting sacred Tantric texts. After the first few days of struggling with mind storms and just being uncomfortable in myself, I now feel the growing accumulative power of the practices.

Over the last few days, I’ve become increasingly aware of the extreme stillness of my mind. It’s as though my senses have opened and I’ve become aware of the vibratory essence of consciousness itself. It’s still, yet vibrating. Consciousness is alive! Then a crystal clear, holographic globe of radiance appeared in the back of my skull behind my eyes. Within this globe was a pulsing, throbbing, energy of simultaneous silence, light, and sound. I enjoyed many hours of exploring this inner space with much wonder and astonishment.

Later that night, teacher and Tantric scholar Paul Muller-Ortega read a verse from one of the Tantric texts which described the experience I just had. It said that all spiritual progress and transformation will have the quality of wonder and astonishment associated with it. This state of mind is known in the circle of Rasas (tastes of experience) as Adbhuta, wonder, and is described as being able to see everything as if for the first time. Great masters say it’s like seeing with the eyes of a child. There’s no judgment or commentary attached to the experience of the moment – only direct experience.

But how do we get ourselves into a state of wonder like this? Well, I find my way back to that state through the practice of yoga and meditation. But some people find it simply through taking a walk in the woods or skiing down a mountain. The […]

By |February 27th, 2019|Ashaya Yoga|0 Comments|

A Shift in Consciousness is Possible: Testify!

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m moved by one of my favorite jazz vocalists, Dianne Reeves, and by the lyrics of her song, “Testify.”  Aside from the commercial frenzy that this holiday can sometimes be, it’s a good reminder for yogis to remember grace, and remember to love – not just to love another person, but also to love yourself and love your life.

It’s so easy to forget about love and fall back into the doldrums of limited consciousness – getting caught up in the challenges of life, the difficulties, the routine nature of life. If you’re not careful, you’ll get pulled down into the materiality of life simply by the general mainstream of consciousness, that, like gravity, weighs you down to the lowest common denominator. It’s all a matter of priority. Every day through my practices, I try to prioritize remembrance of the spirit, the essence of life. I choose to shift from living a material life to a spiritual life (which paradoxically embraces the material as well).

How to shift? Well, I think Dianne Reeves says it in her little spontaneous talk before her song,

“You know, there comes a time in your life, where all that stuff you’ve been running from, fearing from, all that stuff that really gets to you in your silent space. There comes a time when you have to stop, take a deep breath, turn around, and look at it. Then you have to stretch your arms out real wide to get ready to embrace it. You hold on real, real tight to all of that stuff, embracing it, facing it, until you find yourself embracing yourself. Then you can leave all of that stuff behind and walk on with peace of mind. […]

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