After a mass request from Garchen Rinpoche to recite the White Tara Mantra for all those who are suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, I created this video, so that you may join me and learn the chant too.
Please sing along or recite silently as you learn the phrases. Listen to the sounds of the syllables mindfully as you utter them. And feel the vibration of each part in your body.
If you prefer to recite a prayer to Tara, here it is, from His Eminence Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche: Lord Atisha’s Homage and Supplication to Tara
Homage to she who protects from the eight perils!
Homage to she who blazes with auspicious splendor!
Homage to she who blocks the door to evil destinies!
Homage to she who guides on the path to the higher realms!
You have continually accompanied me.
Pray protect me evermore with compassion!
6AM: woke up and since I had done supta padanghustasana 1 before falling asleep,I drew up both legs for urdhva pascimottanasa for 3 minutes, then Happy Baby. Thought about the relationship of HB and Supta 2 with the outer rotation of the leg in the hip socket.
Then a series of twists: supine cross- legged, crocodile, revolved belly, half supine virasana, gentle bridge 3.
Was going down to the studio at 7:30, but then S. skyped me from Poland. People first. Karma yoga in action. LOVE. Asana Practice could happen later.
After our call, I cleaned the studio and picked, prepping for the 10 AM class.
I’ve been reading student meditation journals most of the afternoon, so still have not returned to an asana practice.
This evening, though, I took a break and meditated with one of Susan Piver’s 20 minute guided practices. susanpiver.com If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you subscribe to this very accessible meditation teacher’s online OPEN HEART PROJECT. Susan’s got me thinking about the soft front body and the strong back body in meditation posture. How there is no boundary. How they exist simultaneously. How awareness shifts from one to the other. How difficult it is to hold them BOTH in awareness. But in a strange way, it’s comforting to know they are both there. Both.
10 PM In the studio for a two hour session. Pigeon (still difficult on left side as it activates the sciatica), Half handstand, Wide angled seated forward fold with twists, cobbler pose, Downward facing dog pose,sphinx, bow, camel. Really paid close attention to camel as I looked up several articles online regarding alignment. Kept repeating as I played with alignment.Headstand for 4.5 minutes, Child pose with close attention to maintaining hips resting on heels and releasing spine into front of body. Shoulderstand and a quiet Legs Up The Wall, hips on the shoulderstand stack of blankets. Connecting the soft front of the body with the strong back body.Comforted, I was satisfied and went to bed.
A student spoke up before we began class this morning, with a hopeful look on her face, eyebrows raised, Do you really practice every day?
She was getting ready to go to her winter residence and hoping I’d let her off the hook.
I smiled. I discussed how my practice had grown and changed over the years.
Until a wise student shared, Yoga is not a practice; it’s a lifestyle.
DONG! Bells went off in my head.
I became inspired share my personal yoga journal with you on a more regular basis. I’m committing to daily updates to give you a sense of the day-to-day life of one yogini’s struggles and awakening.
7AM: alarm, listening to the news in bed, practicing reclining back of the leg stretch (supta padangusthasana 1,2,3), and cross-legged revolved belly pose
7:15 AM on mat in studio, practicing gently due to the slight flair up of sciatica I’ve been experiencing lately: reclining hero (supta virasana), pigeon (rajakapotasana), kneeling lunge to splits with big bolster support (hanumasana), tree (vrksasana), standing half-lotus forward fold (ardha baddha padmasana), dancer (natarajasana). Immediate connection to a nonverbal, physical knowing with one leg held behind up behind me while my opposite arm extended in front of me. The feeling of moving my body confidently in this space created joy.
8:15AM: Trotted upstairs to celebrate with a cup of decaf because I was able to enter dancer without the aid of the wall for the very first time. EVER.
This is what keeps me motivated to continue day in and day out through all these years. I’m continually learning and experiencing new ways of being in this very body that is mine for a short time on earth. And I say YES to that.
After teaching the YOGA for 50+ class, I accompanied my son to the airport to say good-bye after a lovely visit of nearly two weeks. On the way home, Mike and I headed to a favorite bird watching spot in Buffalo to take our minds off of the emptiness and sense of absence we felt.
It was a stunning October day that would break all previous records for warmth in Western New York. Surrounding ourselves with so much beauty dissolved our heavy hearts.Happiness bubbled inside me as I held my hand out for the glorious chickadees and nuthatches that landed on my outstretched fingers.
Eye contact with these creatures led me into a non-verbal state of pure joy. Rather than connecting from the inside to the out, as usually happens during savasana, a connection happened as I reached my hand and heart out to my avian neighbors.
I connected with that deep inner knowing that is always present and available. This connection is also YOGA practice. No sticky mat necessary!
Some experience it like yogini Prabhavati Dwabha, helping children in rural India. Reaching outward and finding herself. Every single day.
How do you practice connecting with your inner knowing?
Today’s meditation: Naming the myriad ways that yoga is already present in my life.
Yoga is the dance of bodymindspirit. We say meditation in movement. Each one of us finds our unique expression of this ancient art. Your pose may not look much like mine. Doesn’t matter –The point of practice lies deep within. It’s a journey of the soul, mind, and body. All equal participants.
This morning I heard stories of how the previously posted and popular piece on Matt Harding’s version of the Gratitude Dance had rocked it’s way around campus at the end of the semester, so I thought I’d look into what Matt is up to now. Turns out he’s made another gorgeous globe trotting vid, this time using local dancing styles. Not exactly Yoga. But it is Body. It is Heart. And Mind is there as well. Hope you enjoy the dance around the world. Hmmm, Maybe it’s time we found a sponsor to YOGA around the planet.
Or maybe you’d like to send in photos of your Yoga in unusual locales. We’d love to see them and will post as able. …Maybe another video in the works!
A beautiful way to bring yourself home to your own beautiful presence is through centering awareness in the breath.
This is the very first and most important practice of all breath work. Before beginning to consciously control the breath, it is important to grow the awareness of how the breath is moving, or not, in this moment. We practice without criticizing, without judging, and without creating stories about the path the breath is currently on. When critical voices begin yammering inside, honor them as a part of you, and then, with kindness, come back to the breath. As judgments arise, name them simply, and come back to the breath. As thoughts flow through the mind, allowing them to flow, rather than holding on and developing them, enables awareness to gently sit in the breath.
If you would like to be guided in a Breath Awareness Practice, here is a short video.
The following video was shared with me by a dear yoga student today. As I watched, my own practice as well as my teaching, grew truly inspired. And yet, there was a tiny nagging voice that asked, Do you really believe? Even after all of these years of practicing, studying, classes, teaching, I questioned my own belief in the transformational power of yoga.
How large is my capacity to change? How strong can I grow? How large is my faith? Can I move forward without becoming burdened and worn down by feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, and self-recrimination?
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the ancient sage advises us to study and concentrate upon the qualities of an elephant to gain strength (Sutra III.24). In the video, we watch the transformation of a human being, from burdened and weak to fast, and strong with a much wider capacity to live a bigger life, to express his own life force. How important it is to the development of faith to see examples of transformation in living beings!
May you also be inspired. Would love to hear your story!
Most of us spend considerable time sitting at a desk and/or working at a computer and let’s face it, our necks and shoulders get really cramped and tight. Depending upon your particular line of work and your physical condition, those knots can begin tying up your mind as well as your shoulders. The antidote for me is frequent yoga breaks.
Today I gave a short demonstration for area workers of some yoga stretches that can alleviate Desk Stress. Here are two poses that will help yo release that tension. It’s a very brief, mini introduction to yoga in the workplace.
OFFICE YOGA Stretch and Relax while at your desk!
Arms Overhead – Great for releasing shoulder and neck tension that occurs during computer work.
With hands clasped together, turn palms toward knees. As you inhale, raise arms overhead. Continue softly breathing as you press through index finger mounds. Release shoulders towards kidneys. When ready, exhale and release arms.
Seated Spinal Waves -If you are feeling stiff and achy, try some spinal waves. The spinal waves gently move the spine releasing tension throughout the back of the body. As tension and knots are released, energy can flow in unimpeded waves of healing and rejuvenation throughout your entire system. Try them anytime you need a quick pick-me up during the day.
Sit with your buttocks on the middle of the seat with your ankles falling in line with your knees. Inhale and lift the spine. Place your hands palms down on your thighs. As you exhale, round the back draw the tail forward while pressing the navel towards the spine to engage your abdominal muscles. Tuck your chin gently stretching the back of the neck. Invite the shoulders to roll forward, away from the spine. Inhale and reverse the curve of the spine, lifting the chest and drawing the tail down and towards the back of the chair. Lift the chin and stretch the front of the neck. Roll the shoulders back and squeeze the inner shoulder blades toward the spine. Stretch the front of the torso as you release the belly. Lift and open the heart center.
Repeat 10 times.
© Carolyn Kieber Grady 2012
Yoga is about learning to channel energy. Using your power involves channeling your energy. Not recognizing your power is perhaps the easiest way to negate the energy at your disposal. This tribute to women who have transformed their own energies into action to change the world in big and small ways is inspiring for all of us, men, women, children, elders alike.
Though International Women’s Day is March 8, I am inspired by this video TODAY. It really supports my intentions for the year 2012. How about you?