It’s so deeply satisfying to be bringing the dimension of sacred music to Leap Yoga classes and workshops! I just released my new single, Durgayei, and I am looking forward to singing it with you at Mantra Night on August 26. My band, Gaya’s Earth & Spirit Band will be there to make the evening magical! Come sing, bask, align with the universe as beautiful mantras fill the space.
To Book: In-Studio Mantra Evening with Gaya’s Earth & Spirit Band
Yoga is all about relationships –not positions. I’ve said that in class –but what does it mean? Postures are the shapes we put our bodies in to experience oneness. That could be a definition of Asana!
What I mean by that specifically is that our asana/meditation/pranayama/mantra/mudra/service practices are about creating relationships: with Self, the Earth, and other beings around us. We do not exist in a vacuum –what we do, and how we do it matter!
The way we are on the Earth matters. Check it out: next time you find yourself just standing around (in line; waiting for something else…) notice yourself on the earth. Notice: are your knees locked? Can you feel your feet and the relationship between you and the Earth? When I am in relationship I am not alone.
When you stand on the Earth, you have choices –you can be in active relationship –feeling the sensation of yield: your body grounding down into the earth — if you keep your knees a little soft, and actively but gently press in to your feet, you may find yourself swaying a little from side to side or in a spiral… there is a rebound of buoyant energy that comes from the Earth back up to the crown of your head –notice it.
Or … you can be propped or collapsed: your knees are locked –there is a sinking feeling and you can’t feel the soles of your feet –there is a dullness and lack of connection to Earth. Maybe there is a checking out at the level of the mind. This is how most of us are on the earth when we’re not paying attention. Look around at people next time you’re out and about –standing in line, notice how people stand –head forward, knees locked –usually but not always, looking at a phone… we are chronically disconnected from the Earth in this place.
The good news is, it’s totally possible to re-orient yourself! Stand in tadasana –hands softly by your sides; your thumbs face forward, palms at the sides, not facing forward. Close your eyes and take a breath in.
Tadasana means mountain posture –see if you can soften your knees and push down through your shin bones into your feet as you actively straighten your knees and find an inner spiral through your legs, into the deep belly and lower front ribs, and trace it all the way along the front of your body to the crown of your head. Find stability. Now lock your knees and let your weight drop. Notice the difference!
When we are in relationship with Earth –we feel an exchange of energy –we feel the forces of apana grounding us, and prana providing us with buoyancy. It’s active! In fact, we’re never completely still. There is always a movement of Prana/life energy. We suspend it at the top and bottom of each breath for a moment –but then the flow of breath and Prana continue over and over.
In fact –we’re always in relationship with Earth –but sometimes we forget and allow ourselves to check out and prop. I believe it’s this unconscious “checking out” that causes us to feel separate. When we lose our active relationship to Earth –we literally lose our sense of connection to everything else. This contributes to patterns/samskaras that live in the depths of our unconscious, that keep us stuck in suffering and perceived isolation.
So being in relationship –whether to Earth, or to others or our Selves –is something that takes practice! Bringing our awareness back to our literal stance on the Earth. Notice how when you’re standing in relationship, you feel everything a little more lit up! Your navel gently draws towards your spine as you breathe –providing you with support –maybe you feel the natural gentle inner spiral of your legs and pelvic halves. You can sense and feel Prana moving. Your head floats over your shoulders and there is a sense of buoyancy to your physical structure! There is effortless effort.
Collapse and prop are ways that we check out of the body-mind. One could argue that our chronic collapse and prop have created a world out of balance: the Earth is literally screaming at us to get back into relationship. When we are in relationship, we understand that what we do and say, and how we are with each other, how we treat the Earth, what/how we choose to consume –all matter!
In our posture practice, we find an opportunity to come back into relationship with Earth and Self. We’re not putting ourselves into positions when we take a given asana –we are creating shapes that allow us to be in relationship: there is a give and take. We receive and we give back.
Check it out –play with it off the mat! It all starts with noticing!!
Here in California we’ve been facing some of the worst wildfires in the history of our state. There are MULTIPLE devastating fires burning all at once (send prayers to all those affected).
All of this came on the tail-end of a weeklong heatwave of temperatures between 100-111 degrees. And let us not forget that is all while we’re in the midst of a global pandemic!
Being outdoors had been a saving grace in the midst of spending nearly 100% of our time at home for the past 5 months. But between the heat and smoke, outdoors has been one of the last places you want to be.
Earlier this week, we splurged on our favorite sandwiches for takeout lunch (if you’re in Sac, GO to Juno’s!). When I went to pick them up I was greeted by the lovely Amy, who is always running the front of the house.
Amy is a salt-of-the-earth person. Her kindness is consistent. As I walked in, I could feel her smile even though I haven’t actually seen it in over 5 months. It’s always hidden by a colorful (and probably hand sewn) mask that she’s wearing.
I asked her how she’s been hanging in there and watched the corners of her eyes tire as she let out a deep sigh before answering. She explained that everyday she makes it a point to count her blessings & recognize what’s good. On the other hand, though, she feels tired and sad. And that it seems kind of weird to be grateful AND sad.
“It’s okay to be both!”, I exclaimed, not fully grasping the important lesson for myself in that statement.
It can be so easy to believe that if we’re grateful, we shouldn’t be sad. Or that when we’re feeling sad, we can’t still be grateful too.
We try to stuff ourselves into these “emotion boxes” and totally forget that we are multi-faceted beings. It’s easy to want to label certain emotions good and other ones bad. We question how we could be feeling two things that we thought were so different.
Yoga teaches about the union of perceived opposites, though. It affirms that the other end of the spectrum is still a part of the same spectrum.
We’re living in strange times, my friends. Now, more than ever, kindness is needed and that work starts within.
Be kind to yourself and the various feelings that you feel, sometimes ALL at the same time.
Santosha in Sanskrit means a few different things, but one of them is the idea of acceptance or contentment with what is. It’s not indifference. It is a state realized when we deeply enquire into the nature of what is happening, recognizing that there is suffering, it is real. Yet, we can also know that down deep, no matter what, through whatever trials, we’re also going to be ok. This is the state of Santosha. A sense of abiding in bliss.
By the way, bliss has nothing to do with feeling good! Ananda is about being able to abide in the state of being where the fluctuations of life don’t knock you down so easily. Where we know we are strong and capable of doing the hard work.
And we build resilience through practice!
Santosha is the second of the Niyama, or inner practices, in Patanjali’s Classical Yoga Sutras. All systems of Yoga include these “limbs” or elements and sequences of learning to practice. They can differ in what order they emphasize, but essentially what all Yoga systems agree on is that there is a systematic way of finding freedom, and there is a progression that we can follow.
Patanjali’s Yoga philosophy begins with the ideas of Yama and Niyama- moral behavior and observances, and Santosha is the second inner observance. These are principles that we learn to embody through our physical practices.
Many if not most of us come to yoga these days via the Asana path –which is perfect, as we learn the principles of Yoga first in our bodies. Yoga is at its core an experiential science, and in our asana practice, we use the experience of the body to affect the mind and vice versa.
We learn to control our breath and to differentiate between pain and discomfort. We learn to contain Prana, or life-force energy, within the physical structure of the body, — we can feel this!
Try this: Take a simple pose you “dislike” –or one you find takes all your concentration and you find hard, or where you want to check out… and see if you can bring yourself into a version of it (maybe you need supports) that allows you to stay and breathe steadily for a while. Like at least a minute (maybe don’t choose handstand!)
We use the body and the breath to teach the mind to be still. Discomfort we can breathe through, pain we cannot! Once we teach ourselves that we are capable of sitting with discomfort, we can start to accept exactly where we are in any given moment, whether it’s in an asana or not.
As you see from the asana example, acceptance of what is (I’m doing the pose for 2 min) doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t act (I figure out a version of the pose that I can hold and breathe and maybe move more deeply into it). Even inaction is action.
Patanjali also states that future suffering can be avoided, (heyam duhkham anagatam); thus, you can choose an option that doesn’t cause you pain or suffering, but might just be uncomfortable. And Breathe. And remember –the pose ends eventually!
Santosha could be described as taking the path that causes the least amount of suffering, while acknowledging that it might entail some discomfort. Ananda or abiding in bliss — is the reality —we just have to remind ourselves of it –over and over –and this is practice.
It’s never too early to exercise your Constitutional right to register.
Voters need to register or update their registration if
they have moved since the last election
became a citizen
changed their name.
The changes to voting procedures in response to COVID-19 make it crucial that voters register or update their registrations well in advance of Election Day. Only voters that are registered in advance may be able to take advantage of options such as mail-in voting or early in person voting.
Mail in Registration Form postmarked by 10/19/201-800-345-VOTE (8683) or firstname.lastname@example.org to request a paper voter registration card.
California counties which have adopted the California Voter’s Choice Act use a vote-by-mail system for all elections, meaning that every registered voter is sent a ballot in the mail 29 days (10/5/20) before Election Day. As of 2020, these counties include:
In 2016, over 65 million citizens were unable to vote because they were notregistered. In a 2020 one study found more than one in four eligible voters (27%) reported not being registered because they didn’t know how, they kept forgetting, they didn’t have time, were too busy, or they recently moved. Among unregistered voters ages 18-24, this number was even higher: 42%.1.If you, your friends or family members fall in this age group please pass the below information on to them.
With recent Post Office challenges, please register early so you don’t miss the mailing date for your ballot this year.Check your voter registration status at https://registertovote.ca.gov/
Our country and democracy are stronger when we all vote.