Thursday, February 25, 2010

Puppetji Guru Wisdom on Baggage

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Puppetj is so wise.  Want more?  Check out his blog - http://puppetji.com/blog/

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Enlighten Up! on DVD

The questions are:  What is yoga? Can yoga be defined? Can it change a life for the better? Can it really lead to enlightenment?  This yoga documentary follows newbie yogi and ex-journalist, Nick, on his yoga experience in the US and India.  His reactions are not always what the filmmaker had in mind.

Whether you're a seasoned yogi or just yoga curious, this film will take you on a journey from modern western yoga in LA and New York to the roots of  yoga in India.  You might feel inspired to go deeper into an ancient practice that has no boundaries.  

I found myself wondering what yoga really means to me.  It gave me a new perspective on my practice, on what I thought I knew, and reminded me that yoga is too big to fit into a perfectly labeled box. 

There are some well known western yogis in this film such as Alan Finger, Cyndi Lee, David Life, and Rodney Yee to name a few.  The interviews with yoga legends B.K.S. Iyengar and the late K. Pattabhi Jois are worth waiting for near the end. 

Check it out on DVD and enlighten up!    

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gratitude for Grumps

When I'm having a particularly surly day my best weapon is gratitude.  While I'm whining about the extra 10 pounds I gained over the holidays, or that I don't have the money to go to India over the summer, there are people with real woes, like say, not  having food to eat.

It's a depressing thought, I know, but by turning it around it can actually create a better state of mind.   If you stop to look for a minute you will find a lot of things to be grateful for.  Even the simple things like a piping hot shower in the morning, choices galore on what to eat, books to read, and let's not forget being grateful for good health.

One of my favorite sayings on the tag of Yogi Bedtime tea is, "To sleep, don't count sheep, count blessings then sheep."  Even if you're not the praying type, it is a good practice to count your blessings and be grateful at least once a day.  Try it, you might like it.

As for those folks that don't have as much as we do - Feeling bad about it does't help them.  What does? Feeling good and grateful so you can make a positive contribution in the world.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Relax!

There is no doubt about it - Some days I am just grumpy for no apparent reason.  I have rare moments of unexplained giddiness too, but those days are pretty few and far between.  I don't know why I wasn't blessed with a constant flow of effervesence, but what I do know is that yoga makes my world a lot better. 

Just a few days of consistent practice can make a world of difference in my mood.  My favorite practices are ashtanga/vinyasa and restorative yoga.  They are polar opposites, so how can I love both of them so much?

Over time I have learned to listen to my body.  No longer do I subscribe to the "no pain, no gain" mantra.  Sure, you have to learn the difference between laziness and fatigue, but some days the energy to get through a strenuous ashtanga or vinyasa sequence simply isn't available. 

On those low energy, high agitation days, I can replenish my reserves by allowing myself be supported in 7 to 8 restorative postures accompanied by soothing, hypnotic music like Shamanic Dream

To have a restorative practice at home you will need to invest in just a few props such as a bolster, a strap, a couple of yoga blankets, a candle, and a CD player or iPod for soothing tunes.  If you want to go a step further in your restorative zone, add essential oil with a diffuser and an eye pillow to your list. 

Go to Yoga Journal's list of restorative postures to get started.  The beauty of restorative yoga is that you only need a few postures.  Pick a pose, like supta baddha konasana and get comfortable for 15 - 20 minutes.  Allow the props and floor to support you, letting all of your worries go as you focus on the sweet simplicity of your breath.

The most difficult part of this practice is letting go and giving yourself permission to just be for 60 to 90 minutes.  Once I got the hang of that I could kiss my grumpy ass goodbye because afterwards it's all about the bliss.

Tip:  Sunday nights are a really good time for this practice.  End the weekend and start the new week on a nice, relaxed note.  It's also the perfect practice for "that time of the month" when you need to recoup your energy rather than expend it.

Namaste.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Eating meat: Does ahimsa really matter?

This morning a fellow yogi forwarded an article from the New York Times about yoga and food.  While it has always been my understanding that food should be avoided at least two hours before and one hour after a strenuous yoga practice, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea to package yoga and food together.

The article seems harmless enough - Western yogis enjoying organic food right on their sweaty mats (ew) after class.  Who am I to judge how, when, and where one chooses to eat? 

The part of the article that pissed me off was a quote from Sadie Nardini, NYC yoga teacher and author of Om Scampi, her wordy confessional essay about eating meat.

“Nowhere is it written that only vegetarians can do yoga,” she said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “We do not live in the time of the founding fathers of yoga, and we don’t know what they wanted us to eat.”

I think ahimsa is pretty clear, and if you are participating in the consumption of animals you are certainly "doing harm."   That said, there are plenty of yoga classes in gyms accross the country that focus only on the physical practice of yoga.  It is certainly possible to do the postures and ignore the spiritual teachings.  People do it everyday.  However, I don't think that is Ms. Nardini's point.

I'm no saint.  I enjoy fish on a fairly regular basis, but I'm not going to pretend that it's okay simply because Patanjali is not alive today to tell me that doing so violates ahimsa

Furthermore, I think that animals that are treated well and killed humanely do far less damage than the factory farmed variety.

My real beef (pun intended) is Ms. Nardini's defensiveness and lame excuses for why it's okay for modern yogis to freely eat meat.  I wonder if she would be willing to go out and kill her own meat.  That might kill the taste of intolerance in my mouth.