If You Want Peace, You Have to Create a New Movie

Q: What is the best response to world conflict, to interpersonal conflict?

Answer: In the context of the law of karma, I’m going to say something very strong, which is that we are personally responsible for conflict in the world. We always say, “Bush is responsible,” or, “Obama is responsible,” but this is not true because I am personally responsible for everything that I experience in my world. The world that I experience is mine, and the world that you experience is yours, and there is also something in common.

The meaning of prarabdha karma is that absolutely every single experience of my present life, including war, is the result of my past actions. Within the system of yoga – and it does not really matter how you look at it, whether it is through yoga or vedanta or sankhya – the world does not come from outside, it comes from within. It is not that there is a world outside and I am the result of that external world; it’s the other way around. It is as if there is a projector within us that is projecting the whole world, which is outside. That projector is the mind, and the film is my prarabdha karma, the world that I experience outside is my prarabdha karma, and the movie runs. So, moment by moment, I see the movie. When the movie ends, my life ends. When the movie starts, my life starts. And everything I experience in this movie is my prarabdha karma, including the wars.

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Teaching Yoga and Relaxation to Children, by Mira Binzen

“Why practice yoga?” I asked the children at the beginning of our yoga class at Bloom Yoga Studio last week. “How do you think it helps you?” Hands shot into the air. A six-year-old boy wearing new Harry Potter glasses went first. He stated matter-of-factly, “Yoga clears your mind and relaxes your body.” All the children in class gave a response. Most mentioned the way it helps them relax and how it helps regulate moods and energy level. The children feel this every week in class and incorporate it into their daily life.

There are several ways that yoga clears the mind and relaxes the body. One of the most profound is the final relaxation at the end of each class known as savasana. The Sanskrit word “sava” means corpse. We call this pose “final rest.” Virtually all children mention this practice as their favorite part of class. They love crow pose and all the games we play, but what seems to resonate most with them is the opportunity to relax deeply at all levels.

Time spent in stillness at the end of each yoga practice is a key element in assimilating the benefits of the practice. It is important for the body and mind to have a chance to process and integrate the experience–to file it all away. Just like cleaning up after a party or making a big meal in the kitchen, your mind and body need to clean up and reorganize.

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Travel Yoga: Essential Tips from Julie Lusk

Mairplaneaking flight arrangements for your next trip to the Bahamas? Plan ahead so you can travel smart and stay balanced. Holistic health specialist Julie Lusk shares this excerpt from her e-book on Travel Yoga to help make your air travel more peaceful and healthy. (Reprinted with permission)

 

Traveling by plane: Air travel can be full of surprises. Some nice, some not so nice. Let’s face it, if served, the food is bad, the air is stuffy, and the seats are cramped and uncomfortable. Bad weather causes delays, connections are poor, and getting around airports is confusing. Anything you can do to prevent problems is important.

  • Get to the airport well in advance of your departure. Allow enough time for traffic delays, parking, security checks, and long lines.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. At least eight to sixteen ounces every hour ought to do it. If you don’t get enough water, you are likely to suffer from dry mouth, racing pulse, dry skin, hair and nails, constipation, infrequent urination and the inability to sweat upon exertion. Unfortunately, alcohol and caffeinated drinks (cola, coffee, tea) increases the problems of dehydration.

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Inspiring Ashram Upgrades

The next time you visit us, you will notice a few improvements: the temples have been repainted, walkways have been repaved, 24 tent huts have been added, the Garden bathrooms have been expanded, there are new picnic tables, and the gardens have new plantings. Here are a few photos. Welcome and enjoy!

Without Giving, Our Practice Can Stagnate

Over time, sadhana, or spiritual practice, can become mechanical, or it can start feeling heavy and serious. How does one remain inspired and light?



Answer: It doesn’t matter what we do, the mind gets used to it, and if this happens in our spiritual practice we should not be indifferent, because it is a real problem. When we see the practice becoming mechanical, we should not wait. If we have a teacher, we should approach the teacher and ask for guidance. If there is a yoga center, we should go there and do some karma yoga, attend some teachings, attend satsang. Alternatively, we could go to nature to be alone, to be in silence, to meditate and get re-inspired. We must not allow stagnation to happen, so when we note that it is there, we should immediately, positively act.

One of the best type of actions is serving others. For example, if yoga teachers notice that their own practice is stagnated, they should teach more. This relates to the law of karma and it is a very important teaching. Under the law of karma, the only cause of receiving teachings is giving teachings. We receive valuable teachings in the present because we gave valuable teachings in the past. This is the only reason. Therefore, the more you teach others, the more you are going to receive teachings, and inspiration has to do with the reception of teachings. Practice is one thing, and inspiration is another. Inspiration is a form of teaching and we receive teaching from within.

Why don’t we receive teaching from within? It is because we make the mistake of cutting ourselves off from others. The moment our giving diminishes, the receiving also diminishes because, according to the law of karma, the only cause of receiving is the fact that in the past, we gave. This is also true in the present — the more we give, the more we are going to receive, and we receive teaching either as external teaching, or teaching in the form of inspiration. Therefore it is not enough to practice; we should also teach, so if you haven’t yet joined the yoga teacher training course, this is the time to do it.

Think about how you came to yoga.  I’m sure, if you heard the personal stories, you would see what a profound effect yoga has had on each one of us. Therefore, we practice yoga. Therefore, we come to ashrams, and so on. However, if you think, how did I receive the teaching of yoga — that wonderful teaching that changed and transformed my life — it is because of someone who taught me, right? So there should be someone to teach me, in order for me to receive this wonderful teaching and to transform my own life. You can see that it is very crucial to teach others.

If we don’t give, that river of teaching is going to diminish. It is going to become just a trickle. One day we will say, “I practiced and practiced, but within, I am dry.” Therefore, as much as it is important to practice, it is also very important to teach because it is by teaching that we receive teaching. This is how we stay inspired.

It is true that Swami Sivananda would say, “Practice, practice, practice,” but before that he would say, “Give, give, give.” He summarized his teaching in the following way: “Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realize.” You can see that “serve, love, give” comes first. Then comes purification. Then meditation becomes possible. Then realization becomes possible. Without giving, nothing is possible. Without serving, nothing is possible. Without loving, nothing is possible. It is not complicated but we need to understand the principle. It is not sufficient to practice — we also need to give.

Jeffrey Armstrong: Bringing Vedic Wisdom to the World

Jeffrey Armstrong

 

Jeffrey Armstrong is a scholar of Eastern teachings who has spent 40 years studying and practicing Vedanta, Raja Yoga, Tantra, and mantra, initiated into these mysteries by masters. He is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Teachings of the Avatar.

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Please share what you do in 10-15 words: I teach the meanings, methods and meditations of the Vedic library of wisdom around the world in clear English.

Why do you do what you do? There is nothing else one can do on this planet that interests me.

What are you currently fascinated by in your work? The secret of inspiring all human beings to co-operate with Nature and each other.

How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers? I was born this lifetime to discover why we are here. Many teachers have helped but the most important of them have been from India.

What book(s) are you currently reading? I read the Vedas every day along with Ayurveda, Jyotish, Nirukta (Etymology) and contemporary literature related to the blending of technology with Transcendental knowledge to achieve both global sustainability and personal liberation.

Why do you teach here? I am always impressed by the dedication, co-operation, focus and deep commitment to daily practice that Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnu Devananda have inspired in their disciples and their broad-minded and universal spirit of interest in all traditions dedicated to universal truth.

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Upcoming Programs with Jeffrey Armstrong

January 17–21
The Mahabharata: The Greatest Story Ever Told

Embark on a spectacular adventure with Vedic scholar and storyteller of ancient wisdom, Jeffrey Armstrong, as he brings to life the Mahabharata, India’s greatest epic poem, and leads us through the epic pathways of this 5,000-year-old yoga classic. You will learn, discover, and experience through this rich and layered story that speaks to the physical, psychological and transcendental realms and reveals the secrets of how good and evil fight eternally on the platform of planet Earth. This is a Yoga Vacation Program.

De-Stressing 101

By Surya San Miguel. Reposted here with the authors’ permission.

Silvia San Miguel (Surya)

We all know the negative impact of stress on our physical, mental and emotional health. Another thing is to know what to do to live stress-free. A moderate level of stress is a normal part of life, but sometimes stress remains below the radar and does not necessarily become evident as in a panic, rage or anxiety attack. The result is that we learn to live with a chronic state of agitation, of being off kilter and out of balance.

It is important to distinguish between traditional stress and the amount of agitation we experience every day. Here I want to look at certain behaviors and feelings that we may have become accustomed to but that are warning signs indicating we are moving into a zone dangerous for our health. This is the first step in managing stress, before it manifests.

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De-Stressing 102

By Surya San Miguel. Reposted here with the authors’ permission.

In De-Stressing 101, I looked at the signs of a state of chronic agitation, a precursor of a stress breakdown and proposed a change in lifestyle based on the 5 Points of Yoga taught by Swami Vishnudevananda. Now I would like to look at the stress episode itself.

The stress response (SR) is a survival mechanism in a life or death situation. Once it is triggered there is a release of hormones in the adrenal glands that are pumped by the heart into the blood stream reaching specifically the extremities in order to either run away from danger or fight it off. This is accompanied by faster breathing, increased blood pressure, production of glucose to provide energy, sweating to prevent overheating, secretion of acid in the stomach to kill off bacteria in case of infection caused by injury, evacuation of urine and bowels to lighten the body’s load to flee, etc. It’s a wonderful mechanism that keeps us safe. It does not last long, from 2 or 3 minutes, as our organism cannot sustain such a state of “wear and tear” for a long time.

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What Does an Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist Do?

By Dr. Marc Halpern (Siva)
Originally published by Sivananda Yoga Camp. Reposted with permission.

Dr. Marc Halpern

An Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist is a specialist capable of utilizing yoga therapies to alter the physiology of the body in a manner that supports the healing process. As such, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapists are uniquely placed to participate as a health care team member as the work they do compliments the work of all other therapists.

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapists utilize asana, pranayama, pratyahara, and meditation as their main tools. Each practice and the manner in which it is practiced affects the physiology of the patient differently. The language of understanding how the physiology of body is changed is the language of the three doshas. The foundational knowledge of the Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist is the knowledge of the 10 pairs of opposite qualities, five vayus, the doshas, the chakras, and the nadi. Understanding how these energies and energy centers function is the key to the restoring balance to the physiological systems of the body and supporting the healing process.

In practice it is really much simpler. An Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist does a consultation to determine the patient’s constitution and the nature of the doshic imbalance that is present. Sometimes this is done by an Ayurvedic practitioner who then refers the patients to the Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist. Once the nature of the patient and the nature of the imbalance is known, the Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist is ready to prescribe and teach the patient the practices to restore balance. This occurs during weekly visits or visits every two weeks. Most sessions last an hour to an hour and a half. Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy is much like a personal yoga session. The difference is the specificity with which the practices are prescribed.

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Mala Cunningham: Addressing heart disease with medical yoga

Mala Cunningham

Mala Cunningham, PhD, is an author and educator of mind-body medicine and healthy psychology. President of Positive Health Solutions and founder of the renowned training program Cardiac Medical Yoga, she has taught and practiced yoga and meditation for over 35 years.

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Please share what you do in 10-15 words. I have developed a model of medical yoga called Cardiac Medical Yoga that is used for patients with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Why do you do what you do? Heart disease is the number-one killer is most countries in the world. Diabetic and heart patients need a modified and medical emphasis for their yoga practice. It is deeply rewarding to see the impact that yoga has on the lives of patients who have a medical condition.

What are you currently fascinated by in your work? When I started yoga in 1971, it was considered a “fad”. Now, it has come full circle with hospitals and clinics around the world recognizing the tremendous benefit that yoga has to offer for both prevention and rehabilitation issues. It is a very exciting time to be involved in the area of medical yoga.

How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers? In the early 1980′s, a colleague of mine who was 40-years-old at the time had a heart attack and sadly within cardiac rehab, there was nothing available for him to deal with his stress. Since I was already a yoga teacher and was also studying for my PhD in psychology, I realized that yoga could be used for both mental health and medical issues. It was at that time that I began to format a medical yoga model of care for patients dealing with diabetes and heart disease.

What book(s) are you currently reading? “The Untethered Should” by Michael Singer.

Have you been to the Yoga Retreat before? It is always a great pleasure to teach at the Sivananda Ashram. I deeply respect the depth of dedication to the yoga practices by the students of Swami Vishnu. It is very inspiring and admirable to see the next generation of yogis being so dedicated and committed to the principles and philosophy of the ancient yoga practices.

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 Upcoming Programs with Mala

January 26 – February 1, 2014
Cardiac Yoga Teacher Training

January 31 – February 1, 2014
Cardiac Medical Yoga Retreat

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