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16 11, 2015

Three Stages to Open Your Heart

By |November 16th, 2015|Todd Norian, Yoga Off the Mat|0 Comments|

On November 8th, in Portland, Maine, after 7 months of dedicated study and practice, 22 radiant yogis graduated from the Ashaya Yoga® 200-Hour Teacher Training. I am so proud of them and know that this world is brighter and better place because of all of the work they did on themselves.

I want to share with you the teachings from the final morning sadhana practice in Portland that flowed with such elegance and deep meaning for me.

The essence of yoga is love. Love is accessed in the heart. But the heart is so tender and vulnerable that it quickly protects itself against pain and closes down. Although it’s safer to live with a protected heart, the protected heart isolates us from others and, more importantly, from our own self. This is the pain that increases pain and suffering. We need to learn how to open our heart in order to experience the flow of grace. Grace is always flowing whether we are open to it or not. Living with an open and vulnerable heart is also painful since we feel everything more fully – both pain and joy. But this is the pain that heals the pain.

Yoga is the practice of learning how to “tenderize” the heart such that we know how much to open up and how much to maintain our boundaries. In Tantra we learn that in order to unbind ourselves we need to bind ourselves. That is, we need to create healthy self-boundaries and know our limits in order to maintain and sustain our freedom.

We live in a universe of “cosmic forgiveness”. The universe is constantly forgiving you. Forgiveness is its nature. But it’s difficult to get to forgiveness due to the […]

4 09, 2015

Choosing Alignment with Nature

By |September 4th, 2015|Ashaya Yoga, Todd Norian, Yoga Off the Mat|0 Comments|

Nature never ceases to amaze me. Recently in my Kripalu Retreat based on the Five Elements, the only day of rain was on the water element day. This is not the first time synchronicity has happened. In fact, every time I’ve offered this course, whether at Kripalu or Esalen in CA, an eerie synchronicity like this happens!

In life, there are no coincidences. Whenever any synchronicity happens, it’s the affirmation of the universe telling you that you are in the right place and that grace has your back. When it started to rain on the water day in my program, I said to myself, “Okay. I get the message. I’m meant to be doing exactly what I’m doing.” As I surrender to the power and growth of Ashaya Yoga®, I hear the voice of the universe whispering in my ear, “Trust the process.”

The truth is that whether there’s a synchronicity or not, grace always has your back and the universe is always giving you signals and subtle messages of how to proceed. “Go this way. Go that way. Stay steady. Let go.” When you align with the divine, every moment becomes an opportunity to lead from your heart and flow with the current of life.

The problem is that we become out of alignment with nature. We are out of touch with the deepest desires of our heart. So often we get distracted or deluded into negative thinking or feelings of unworthiness and hopelessness. When I give way to my negative, habitual mind, it will take me to the bottom of the well where I can’t see anything except darkness and despair.

Yoga teaches that you have a choice. You must choose to create a boundary of protection […]

5 06, 2015

It Takes Strength to Follow Your Heart

By |June 5th, 2015|Todd Norian, Yoga Off the Mat|0 Comments|

Greetings!

I want to continue with the 13 vitamins for living a happy and healthy life. But after returning from a phenomenal weekend workshop at the Arlington Center near Boston last weekend, I want to share a little inspiration with you first. I feel so graced and uplifted by the receptivity and authenticity of the students in attendance.

I taught about the heart being the center of the universe and that the highest purpose of the practice is to return to your heart and learn how to follow your heart. Ashaya means, “abode of the heart” and underlines the essential purpose of the practice – to regain access to the wisdom of the heart. When you come home to your heart there’s a moment of recognition, a pause, and a space where you realize you are already whole and complete. You realize that life is a gift and a miracle meant to be savored, not a problem to be solved.

Following your heart takes strength. You need strength because when you follow your heart, you may disappoint others. To keep you from abandoning your own center and caving into what others want and expect of you, you need strength, a kind of steadfastness to stand by your own side. If you don’t regularly disappoint others, you’re probably disappointing yourself instead.
 
There are two kinds of strengths needed to follow your heart, humility and high self-esteem. Humility relates to your capacity to open to a bigger energy greater than yourself. “Greatness is knowing you are greater than yourself.” (Dr. Douglas Brooks). But without self-esteem, humility leads to self-rejection or making yourself small.

When I moved out of Kripalu many years ago, I had no job, no money, and no business plan. On a walk with a close friend, I complained about how bad off I […]

12 05, 2015

The Third Vitamin: Education and Study

By |May 12th, 2015|Todd Norian, Yoga Off the Mat|0 Comments|

I’m delighted to continue the topic of the 13 basic “vitamins” in life that we need to give ourselves on a regular basis in order to sustain and maintain our joy. These 13 categories generate a well-rounded, well-adjusted connection to life and are the seeds that, when nourished, lead to happiness, permanent joy, and the fulfillment of your life-destiny path in the world. Last time I wrote about the importance of spiritual practices. Click here to review.

Study group at 200-Hour YTT in Portland

The third vitamin is education and study. As a yogi, it’s important to continue the learning process. Education is a life-long endeavor and should never end. In general, as the aging process progresses, it’s easy to fall into routines and avoid challenging our minds to think. But thinking is necessary in order to maintain a sharp mind. “Use it or lose it” as the phrase goes. If you don’t regularly challenge your mind, you will lose it. Whatever interests you, do that. Follow your passion and explore the wealth of information available to everyone today. We live in the information age. Well, actually it’s the digital age. But information is so easy to obtain. There are no excuses.

On a regular basis I attend trainings and spiritual retreats to sharpen my practices and refine my understandings. Boredom is essentially non-existent for me. When you follow your heart, you will never be bored. I’m currently studying with two Tantric scholars, Paul Muller-Ortega and Professor Douglas Brooks. Their teachings have been invaluable to stimulating my mind and contributing to my education. There will be two workshops with Paul coming up in October.

Paul Muller-Ortega and Professor Douglas Brooks

Education also includes spiritual study and self-study, Swadhyaya (one of the […]

6 03, 2015

The Empowering Philosophy of Life

By |March 6th, 2015|Todd Norian, Yoga Philosophy|0 Comments|

Greetings! Can you feel the promise of spring? I can. Even though there’s still snow on the ground and it’s still cold out, the sun is higher in the sky and the bird songs are getting louder.

I want to share with you an insight I had while teaching at Esalen Institute last month. The insight has to do with how yoga is about getting healthy. In addition to gaining physical health–which is the foundation for living in joy-mental and emotional health is vitally important.

Tantra tells us that our true nature is freedom and that the true nature of freedom is bliss. Whenever pain stops or diminishes and you become free from pain, bliss is what follows. Bliss, in the most basic sense, is the experience of moving from pain to no pain. Any amount of release from suffering is always accompanied by a release of tension, which is characterized by some form of increased happiness or bliss.

When I was cross-country skiing during the frigid weather a few weeks ago, I began to experience numbness in my fingers and toes after only being out for 15 minutes. When the numbness began to spread to my arms and legs, I realized I needed to sprint back to the lodge to warm up. I’ll never forget the relief I felt when I made it back to the lodge and began to thaw out. I went from suffering to non-suffering. Bliss was the resultant emotion.

You need to nurture joy in order to experience it. Joy is natural. But due to fear and other self-limiting beliefs, joy is buried under a pile of suffering. This suffering can take the form of self-doubt, self-hatred, confusion, judgment, hopelessness, loneliness, anger, resentment, or […]