How can we begin to heal the world?

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If we are to help heal the world, we need to remember that it is a sacred place.

Our actions need to be positive statements, reminders that even in the worst times there is a world worth struggling for. We need to find ways to keep the vision alive, to acknowledge but not get caught in the dark side. To remember that even the worst aspects of suffering are only part of the whole picture. We need to enter lightly.

Entering lightly means not ignoring suffering but treating it gently.

We don’t want to ignore another’s pain, but our becoming depressed or angry about it doesn’t relieve it and may increase it. The delicate balance is in allowing ourselves to feel the pain fully, to be sad or angry or hurt by it, but not be so weighted down by it that we are unable to act to relieve it. It is a matter of ends and means again: to create a caring, loving, peaceful world, we need to act with care and love and peace.

Easy to say, you may think, remembering your heavy hearts, tears, and anger when you first saw babies in Ethiopian refugee camps dying from malnutrition. But it is exactly at these times – in the presence of pain, injustice, and horror – that our equilibrium is most needed. How can we keep it? Meditation can help; singing or walking can help; talking with people we respect can help; simply being quiet with ourselves can help.

It is the continuing work of life: of learning to trust that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should, no matter how it looks to us. We learn to appreciate that each of us has a part in nurturing this interconnectedness whole and healing it where it is torn. Discovering what our individual contribution can be, then giving ourselves fully to it.

Demanding as that sounds, it is what, in the spiritual sense, we are all here for, and compassionate action gives us yet one more opportunity to live it. It is an opportunity to cooperate with the universe. To be part of what the Chinese call the great river of the Tao. It is not a coincidence that Hanuman, who in the Hindu cosmology is called the “embodiment of selfless service,” is the son of the wind god. When we give ourselves into becoming fully who we are by doing fully what we do, we experience lightness. We are like kites in wind, we are on the side of the angels, we are entering lightly.



This article was originally published on RamDass.Org


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Ram Dass is an American spiritual teacher and author of many books such as Be Here Now and Walking Each Other Home.

6 Tips for Yoga Newbies

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Is this the year you’re getting into yoga? Congratulations! What a wonderful beginning!

 

So…being a newbie might mean that you sometimes feel a little confused, hesitant, or self-conscious about your practice. You might be asking yourself: “Am I doing this right?”

 

Working with yoga newbies is my passion. I love helping people find relaxation and confidence, as they step into the yoga world.

 

Here’s my list of 6 tips to help you get started on your unique yoga journey.

 

1. Breathing is the most important thing. 

If you’re confused about how to move or how to position your body, that’s okay. Understanding the poses will come in time. For now, simply set the goal of paying attention to your breathing throughout your yoga practice. Conscious breathing is the cornerstone of yoga. When we pay attention to our breath, there are innumerable benefits to body, mind, and spirit.

 

2. Yoga is pure love.

When we practice yoga, we say YES to a world that is full of more beauty, more love. When we practice yoga, we say yes to a world where people take care of themselves and each other. At the end of a yoga class, when we bow in namaste, we are saying “I see the goodness in you, which is the same goodness in me.” When we unite our intentions in this way, we usher in a new world—a world of love.

 

3. Five minutes is better than no minutes.

If you only have five minutes today, then why not roll out your mat and do some yoga? Getting into the regular habit of doing yoga is so amazing for our wellbeing. When I hear my students complain that their lives are too busy for yoga, I remind them that if they have five minutes, they can practice. I’d rather see someone doing five minutes every day than doing one long session per week. Each time you roll out your mat, you are building new neural pathways that reinforce the feeling that yes, you do indeed like yoga, that yoga is fun. And who knows? You just might develop a pleasant “addiction” to yoga—if we skip a day, it just feels incomplete!

 

4. Yoga is not a competition.

When you’re in a class, the aim is not to do “better” than the other students. The goal is not comparison. Rather, yoga is all about community and collaboration. When we see the woman on the mat beside us holding a beautiful, complex pose, we can compliment her after class (Instead of getting jealous that we can’t yet do that pose.) When we see the man in the back of the class struggling to attain a posture, we can mentally send him warm thoughts. After class, we can strike up conversations with our classmates. “It’s so great to see you today. How long have you been practicing yoga?” Through these simple gestures, we can actually assist our teacher in co-creating an environment where we are a supportive community, rather than merely individuals taking a class.

 

5. Yoga is not a race.

Ultimately, our practice teaches us that time is not important. In fact, we enjoy our practice most when we relax and let go of timelines. We are not trying to get somewhere by a certain date. There is no rush. Our yoga practice teaches us to breathe and surrender to the wisdom of the Now. We realize that everything we need is right here, in this moment.

 

6. Explore different classes.

There are many, many styles of yoga and many, many different teacher personalities. There are yoga classes that make you jump and sweat and there are yoga classes where you sit completely still for many minutes. There are yoga teachers that make you laugh hysterically or cry tears of relief. They are yoga teachers who are more like personal trainers and seriously kick your butt. Try different classes to get a sense of what’s out there. No need to rush the process. In time, your perfect teacher will appear. For me, when I discovered my teacher, it felt like coming home.

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Hope you enjoyed these tips, dear friends! If you’d like more inspiration for your yoga journey, please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll add you to my FREE weekly newsletter. Namaste.

Unconditional love as the essence of yoga

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By Ram Dass

 

Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not “I love you” for this or that reason, not “I love you if you love me.” It’s love for no reason, love without an object. It’s just sitting in love, a love that incorporates the chair and the room and permeates everything around. The thinking mind is extinguished in love.
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If I go into the place in myself that is love and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love. Then you and I are truly in love, the state of being love. That’s the entrance to Oneness. That’s the space I entered when I met my guru.

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Years ago in India I was sitting in the courtyard of the little temple in the Himalayan foothills. Thirty or forty of us were there around my guru, Maharaji. This old man wrapped in a plaid blanket was sitting on a plank bed, and for a brief uncommon interval everyone had fallen silent. It was a meditative quiet, like an open field on a windless day or a deep clear lake without a ripple. Waves of love radiated toward me, washing over me like a gentle surf on a tropical shore, immersing me, rocking me, caressing my soul, infinitely accepting and open.
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I was nearly overcome, on the verge of tears, so grateful and so full of joy it was hard to believe it was happening. Opening my eyes, I looked around, and I could feel that everyone else around me was experiencing the same thing. I looked over at my guru. He was just sitting here, looking around, not doing anything. It was just his being, shining like the sun equally on everyone. It wasn’t directed at anyone in particular. For him it was nothing special, just his own nature.
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This love is like sunshine, a natural force, a completion of what is, a bliss that permeates every particle of existence. In Sanskrit it’s called sat-cit-ananda, “truth-consciousness-bliss,” the bliss of consciousness of existence. That vibrational field of ananda love permeates everything; everything in that vibration is in love. It’s a different state of being beyond the mind. We were transported by Maharaj’s love from one vibrational level to another, from the ego to the soul level. When Maharaji brought me to my soul through that love, my mind just stopped working. Perhaps that’s why unconditional love is so hard to describe, and why the best descriptions come from mystic poets. Most of our descriptions are from the point of view of conditional love, from an interpersonal standpoint that just dissolves in that unconditioned place.
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When Maharaji was near me, I was bathed in that love.
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 This article, initially titled “How does unconditional love help us rediscover our souls?” was originally published on RamDass.Org


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Ram Dass
is an American spiritual teacher, yogi, and author of many books such as Be Here Now and Walking Each Other Home.

Finding Yoga in the Stillness of Loss

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“A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself. That’s how I hold your voice.”
—Rumi

 

Even as I type these words, the fingers feel the fatigue of grief in them. They pause as my brain fades into silence and I freeze over the keyboard like a printing press coming to a halt. The mind wafts ghostly sensory memories over the memory’s eye, and I see his face and hear his voice merely days before his physical decline. In a nanosecond I remember the long train ride, the smell of his room in the dim New England afternoon light. His tears, the fear in his eyes, the softness of my hands as they reached to care for him. And then a swift frame-by-frame film of every memory of him that I have, captured in the mystery of his death. In this pause of remembering, the Witness—the Watcher—sees, and waits. And then, like running out of air after being under water, I surface, and the words flow once more over the stillness of this grief.

 

No universal description of how grief comes upon us, passes through us, or drags us along exists. Indeed, there is no good reason here in this message to create one, for in many ways the uniqueness of our attachments cannot—and perhaps should not—be generalized. There is good reason, however, to accept that we are not alone, and that acceptance is a spine that supports our humanness in this experience.

 

Amidst the unsettling haziness of this heartache, the muscle memory of daily yoga practice has brought me to the mat, and asana offers a seat upon which to safely grieve. In accepting that we are not alone we may find solace in this system of postures that invite human bodies to move with breath, experience the lifeforce that sustains us, and bond with a universal serenity that transcends the body. In finding this solace, we may come to understand how the practice of yoga can accompany and hold space for us in the midst of great loss.

 

If one is able to move to the mat, one may find that the physical and emotional manifestations of grief find themselves in conversation there. Breath, as always, is the thread. Inhale the weight of the arms up, then exhale to release the weight as the body folds in sun salutation. Inhale and exhale to chaturanga as the breath steadies the body in strength, maybe even all of the way down to the Earth. Inhale as the chest rises, and awaken for a moment in cobra or upward-facing dog, then exhale as the body reaches and lets go in downward dog. Pain, heaviness, lightheadedness, or stiffness entangle with sadness, anger, confusion, trauma, relief, fear. The ethereal and the grit of the body weave into one another, fight, separate, and melt in the movement from asana to asana.

 

We owe ourselves the simplicity and the challenge of listening to the breath in our grief—it is a gift of self-nurturing. We may be tempted to feel guilty for trying to settle our minds on something so essential, though lost in loss. We may worry that we’ve forgotten about the loss when we have a moment of pure focus on the breath, and we may rush back to the suffering. Remember, though, that in practice we can be infused by shared purpose, and that peace of mind is unselfish. We can remember that the body’s efforts to find balance with exertion and ease is a portal to stillness in the mind, and that in finding stillness we find a shared peace.

 

Requiring courage is the knowledge that we may not predict what accompanies the stillness, and so a quiet mind can be a scary place. Fears may think themselves more fearfully, and sadness may want to fill up all of the space that stillness has to offer. Thus, practice may seem like a horribly unpeaceful idea when we are held tightly in the arms of grief, and it may seem easier to numb the pain or to remain frozen in disbelief.

 

One foot, then another: roll mat, feel feet, listen. Let the breath take the weight of worry as you listen to it journeying through the body. Let tears come, let the thoughts present themselves and depart, let anger wrench its way in, and listen to the breath lead each movement of the body. Soften into the practice.

 

It’s okay to do that.

 

And when our practice concludes in Savasana, where we lie recumbent and exposed, what do we do then? What if stillness is a haunted space of regret, or of replaying how we lost what we lost? What if that surrender feels like fullness of pain and the grief overwhelms us in this vulnerable position, lying prostrate on the floor? Why will we not be swallowed into the Earth? How will we get up? Why would we bother?

 

Loss has its own stillness, and that is the sharpest edge of it—the stillness of loss is the foreverness of ending. It seems monstrous in its eeriness and insane in its ability to evade our understanding; it cuts through the noise of day-to-day and grips the heart and belly. And yet, again, we owe it to ourselves to find out whether we can tunnel through it to something deeper and different, something clarifying and undisturbed.

 

In grief, our practice proposes a simple question: can it be possible that the excruciating pain of loss lends to us its stillness so that we may learn how to be still?

 

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Rebecca Ingalls, Ph.D., MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC, is a certified nurse-midwife, women’s health nurse practitioner, and yogi. She is a mother of two, and she has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for 11 years. She lives with her family in Philadelphia.

Your Yoga Mat is God (and so is everything else)

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By Anya Light

 

I’ve been thinking about yoga mats, lately. The yoga mat I currently own (which I picked up for a few bucks at a grocery store) is not that wonderful. It’s a piece of crap, actually. I need better traction. It’s frustrating trying to hold downward dog correctly when my hands are slip-sliding all over the place!

 

Recently, the Universe magically brought me into a lovely email exchange with Jericka Lambourne, writer and researcher over at Reviews.com. And I discovered her recent geek-fest with yoga mats.

 

Seriously, someone should give this woman a PhD in Yoga Mats! She spent over fifty hours testing over thirty different mats in various temperatures and conditions, such as carpet and hardwood floor; interviewing yoga teachers and studio owners; and researching the technology and history of various brands.

 

If a yoga mat is on your Christmas list this year, I recommend checking out Jericka’s research. It’s pretty cool.

 

 

THE FALSE DISTINCTION BETWEEN SPIRITUALITY AND THE MUNDANE

 

Why the heck am I talking about yoga mats? Isn’t this supposed to be a “spiritual” blog?

 

Too often in our spiritual journey we make the distinction between the mundane and the spiritual. Between the material and the spiritual. Real life versus everything else. Consensus reality versus higher ideals. 3D versus higher consciousness. And yet what does all this labeling and categorizing really accomplish? Does it truly help us?

 

Sometimes these mental distinctions can actually get in the way of living our lives in the most authentic way possible. Sometimes these categorizations can actually block us from experiencing flow and harmony.

 

I honor and deeply appreciate how external “things” can often aid in the enjoyment of life. A shiny new outfit can bring a burst of confidence during a job interview. A new knife can bring an added sense of ease and harmony to the cooking process. A new pillow made with organic materials can bring higher vibrational dreams. Crystals in the home can serve to protect and rejuvenate empathic people. And a quality yoga mat can help us hold certain postures more deeply—which is a very good thing!

 

Is it materialistic that I (or you) might want a new yoga mat? No, not unless such a wanting takes over and becomes a compulsive obsession. Is it materialistic that you or I might want financial abundance or awesome tools that increase the possibilities of physical health or emotional peace? No, not unless such preferences take us away from the enjoying the present moment of exactly where and how we are right now.

 

 

THE AWESOMENESS OF EVERYDAY LIFE

 

In my view, the objects of “everyday life” can certainly be enjoyed, relished, and savored—with mindfulness.

 

Perhaps this is more of an advanced lesson than some would like. That’s okay. If what feels right to you at this time is shunning the entire monetary system altogether and making a beeline for the nearest commune, monastery or cave, that’s okay. But if you are where I am, maybe the thing for you to do is to strike that oh-so-delicate balance between “the mundane” and “the spiritual.”

 

When we think about the worth or value of an object like a yoga mat, we must remember that objects are not just objects…they are more. Every plant, animal, mineral, person, and supposedly “inanimate” object is made up of chiti (a Sanskrit term meaning consciousness). Everything is alive. Indigenous cultures have known this forever, and if you’ve ever participated in a plant medicine ceremony or a shamanic journey, you’ll have had direct experience with this truth.

 

Every part of the Universe, from the tiniest atom to the brightest star, is a living reflection of the Divine Source. Everything is God.

 

While it is certainly good to avoid being trapped by the shallow mindsets of our overly-materialist mainstream society, it can be just as detrimental to remain ignorant of the power that objects have to affect our consciousness. We are all energy. Each thing has life, a vibrational force that subtly (or greatly) affects us. For example: if we fail to take care of our possessions and allow our home to become dirty, dusty, and cluttered, we will feel this as a certain subtle heaviness in our daily lives, a certain sadness or dullness. If, on the other hand, we take care of our living environment with regular tidiness and cleaning, then there will be more flow, order, and peace in our daily lives.

 

The external is the internal; the internal is the external.

 

All is one.

 

Everything is spiritual.

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As you go about your week, I invite you to share with us (in the comments below) about how the objects in your reality have blessed you, assisted in your journey. I invite you to share with us your gratitude.

 

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Funny Yoga

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Lately I’ve been reflecting on my yoga journey. I’ve come to some cool realizations.

One of the things I’ve realized is this: Yoga is always always awesome, but it can be even more awesome when we have wonderful teachers to guide us.

Today I’d like to tell you about one of my humble yoga guides.

Her name is Adriene.

(Note: In case you were wondering, this is not a paid endorsement; I am simply passing along my enthusiasm.)

 

YOGA WITH ADRIENE

On the spiritual path of yoga, it can be all-too-easy to fall into the trap of Mr. or Ms. Serious Pants. We can forget that the practice is meant to bring ease, joy, and even bliss.

During the past year, I’ve fallen absolutely in love with the Yoga with Adriene on Youtube.

What I love about Adriene is the incredible unique light she shines! She makes puns! She talks about farts! Her dog makes random cameos. Her wacky, oddball, irreverent brand of humor is perfect for me, making me laugh and helping me get out of my head.

When we are laughing, we simply cannot be stressed!

Laughter literally brings us right into the present moment.

I love Adriene. She is the Cosmic Clown in my living room, ready at a moment’s notice, helping me smile and breathe from one asana to the next.

For many years, I have tried many, many yoga teachers on Youtube, but have never found a teacher that really stuck with me. I always found in-person teachers far superior.

But now I am hooked on Adriene. I actually haven’t paid money to attend a yoga class in months.

Adriene’s become my yoga pal. Her adorable, encouraging voice is now permanently stuck in my head. “Find what feels good” is her mantra, and that is so wonderful for me, a person who has only recently learn to love her body after a long battle with trauma and chronic illness. For me, it’s imperative I find what feels good and to make my daily yoga “discipline” full of pleasure and lighthearted joy.

And I love Adriene for more than just her humor. Her routines are always unique, fresh, intuitive, and easy to follow. Furthermore, she is simply a master at perfectly describing body placement with her voice so her viewers can stay present with their bodies and keep their eyes off the screen. It’s wonderful. How online yoga should be.

Hands down, she is the best online teacher I’ve ever found. I would bet that someone with absolutely no yoga experience could watch one of her beginner classes and actually begin a solid home practice. (In fact, I invite my readers to watch one of her videos and tell me what you think in the comments below! I want to hear about your experience with Adriene!)

While my beautiful teacher doesn’t dive too deeply into the more esoteric aspects of yoga, such as Sanskrit, kundalini awakening, chakras, or spiritual enlightenment, what she does bring to the table is exactly what I need on those rather stressful days when I have accidentally become Ms. Serious Pants.

Her vibrant, fun energy is a perfect reminder for someone like me (who tends to take life wayyyyy too seriously) to Lighten Up!

Find what feels good!

Power in the Practice of Yoga

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I think about how we define yoga.

I think about what it means to say, “I do yoga.”

I think about it because I feel a conviction about re-choosing it before every practice in order to practice purposefully. And, more and more, I feel obligated to find authenticity in my practice and in myself.

 

Defining Yoga

If you open Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, you will find these words in Sutra 1.2: “Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah.” While the Sanskrit may seem complex, it actually helps us to define what yoga is.

There are several ways of translating this phrase, and yoga scholars toil over translating it precisely. Here is one way that I particularly like: “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga” (Satchidananda, 2007, 3). In other words, through yoga we learn to manage stillness in the mind.

But achieving this stillness is no simple task.

Here in this post, I want to cast a light on yoga that illuminates its connection to power. Power has many meanings, but, simply, it is the ability to manage thought and behavior. Specifically, I want to discuss how, in mastering the fluctuations of the mind, we are facilitating and strengthening a flow of power within us.

To clarify, I am not referring to powerful control over others; rather, I am referring to the mastery of one’s own mind.

Why is it useful to have this discussion of yoga’s relationship to power? It is useful first because power is both elusive and necessary: it is difficult to define, and yet it is a force that we all need in order to move freely and kindly in our worlds. Secondly, it is useful because yoga may not only help us to recognize the presence of power that exists already—for it is often the realization that power is even present at all that is a first step in channeling it—but it may also help us to strengthen it in our lives.

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Power imagined

As an idea, power may be known to us by the dream of what we could do with it, or by how we feel “without” it. We may believe that power will help us to rise above or push through the difficulties of anxiety, chronic illness, conflict, unhappiness, or pain. In so doing, we may believe that it will bring us the energy, strength, motivation, or courage to negotiate those difficulties.

On the other hand, and rather than reaching for the dream of power, we may find ourselves feeling a deficit of power: downtrodden, weak, frightened, at the mercy of something else. In all of these aspects, we are right about how we imagine power.  For each of us as individuals, purposeful and nurturing power is both needed and deserved.

 

Power and protection

A few years ago, a friend asked me how I could possibly commit to practicing first thing in the morning every day. She said, “I would much rather just let my day unfold, to see what happens.” To her, I responded: “That is why I practice. I want to prepare myself for what might unfold.”

Before I began my journey with yoga, I had adapted over decades to awakening in fear and compulsion. It was a ritualistic stress inoculation that I developed as a small child in a stormy, inappropriate grown-up environment. My power took the form of a clenched-hearted surveillance: what could possibly happen today that I won’t expect? What mistakes might I make? How might I upset someone else, or become upset because of someone else? Whom might I disappoint? What if I become hungry? Or tired? Or confused? What if my world is unsafe today? My unending anxiety was a power-draining illness. It presented in my little body with physical symptoms, and it stayed up all night in my dreams.

Of course, we can get used to almost anything, and this form of power stayed with me for many years as if it were my own skin. To be sure, it consistently felt much more like prison than power.

 

Power re-imagined

As many do, I stumbled into yoga. And the shift was immediately palpable. Through yoga, I felt a quieting in the mind. Some days subtle, some days profound. Each day a relief. But also a fear: would this relief take away my power as I had known it? Would I become vulnerable without it? Could I even survive?

“The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” As Pattabhi Jois said, “Do your practice, and all is coming.” Over years, and with dedication to practice (a daily leap of faith), my power has been transformed. Indeed, it was a kind of power that gave strength to the vigilant fear-noise, the angst-ridden fluctuations of mind that aimed to protect me from what might happen. But the quieting of the mind has freed a dynamic flow of power that is composed of:

~the endurance I have always had and the fortitude I have built,

~the spirit I was born with and the wisdom I have developed, and

~the dream of self-love that has stayed with me and the realization of worth that has emerged over time.

In practice, power feels like breath, balance, courage, calm, strength, love, patience, acceptance. In my life off the mat, power is a graceful presence that weaves together the mind, body, and spirit into something not needful, but rather abundant and authentic.

In as much as it is these things, it is also—always—the relief of that hypervigilance that I remember viscerally. Sometimes it feels like floating in the absence of anxiety. And it takes some time to realize that the floating is not vulnerability, but power.

 

Power manifested in practice

Yoga allows us to sense power in multiple forms. Maybe it manifests itself as the audible, palpable release of breath through discomfort, whether it be in the physical body or deep within the emotional or spiritual realm. Perhaps, while we struggle with feeling overtaken by chronic illness, our practice reveals to us a power to maintain strength or comfort or even resilience in the body.

At other times, power manifests as a kind of will, as in a challenging pose: the body wrestles with fear or memory, but the will convinces the fear to abate. Sometimes, power manifests as a peaceful overthrowing of accumulating anxiety: the storm of anxiety rages, but peace floods in and reigns over it with calm.

Or, the presence of power can be as simple (and as challenging) as finding the strength to pull oneself out of bed, into the uncertainty of the day, and onto the mat. To be sure, many days of early morning Ashtanga practice have begun that way for me: on those days, it is enough just to find the ability to push through the morning melancholy and aching desire to hide from myself, in order to find my feet standing in Samasthitihi. Sometimes, I don’t know quite how I got there at the top of my mat, other than to trust that I must have transitioned from bed to mat by a gentle power that I have cultivated over time.

All the while on this journey, the memories of transformation remain steadfast and continue to accumulate. Perhaps they do for you, too. This presence of power—still fleeting—can itself be a reminder of the difficulties we have experienced, and might still be experiencing. Why didn’t I discover yoga as a child? Where was this power when I needed it? And worst of all: what if this power goes away? Although the anxiety is painful to remember, painful to process, yoga is there for us to take its shape in the body and find the breath.

And as we transform, we can hold our memories with some warmth when we consider the wise words of Richard Freeman, who has said, “Yoga ruins your life.”

It does. It ruins it beautifully.

 

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Rebecca Ingalls, Ph.D., BSN, RN, is a former Associate Professor of English, and is now a registered nurse and a nurse-midwifery student. She is a mother of two, and she has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for nine years. She lives with her family in Philadelphia.

How I Healed Myself with Kundalini Yoga

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Our body communicates with us.

Six years ago, I was suffering from persistent stomach cramps.

I didn’t want to visit the doctor because I didn’t have health insurance and I was afraid of the cost. I wanted to figure things out on my own.

At first, I started drinking more water and I changed my eating habits. (I was physically active already, so I knew it wasn’t that I needed more exercise.) Yet, the cramps continued.

So, I started thinking about yoga, because I knew it was supposed to be good for the body and mind. I got into research mode; in doing so, I discovered Kundalini Yoga and decided to give it a try.

It was through Kundalini Yoga that I learned about energetic explanations for physical issues. Through Kundalini, I learned about chakras and discovered they’re one of the ways our body communicates with us.

Kundalini Yoga is different than other types of yoga because it’s less focused on alignment and more focused on the internal energy, circulation, and glandular secretions. It incorporates meditation, breathwork, and mantra into the sets. The mantras can be used for protection, peace, courage, and more.

Kundalini is a type of energy that’s with us from the time we are born. It’s our life force, known by Reiki practitioners as Ki, and is located at the base of the spine (root chakra).

When this Kundalini energy is dormant, it’s coiled up tight like a spring; as it wakes up and uncoils, our chakras are cleaned and strengthened.

There are seven main chakras located up and down the spine. Chakras are energy centers that regulate specific functions in the body. Once I knew about them and what they do, I was able to figure out the root cause of my cramps.

The root cause was an imbalance in my solar plexus chakra (located in the stomach area). This chakra distributes life force energy throughout the body; it’s our power center. It helps us express will, enthusiasm, and creativity, so we can make and do.

If this center is weak or blocked, there will be unusual tiredness and nervousness, along with stomach and intestinal problems, as well as liver and kidney problems.

My body was indeed trying to tell me something.

My solar plexus was letting me know that things needed to change.   

When I made the decision to use yoga as a way to heal my stomach cramps, I consistently practiced two routines. First, I worked with Kundalini postures and mantras that focused on detoxing and destressing, as well as those that dealt with the solar plexus. Secondly, I read a lot about chakras and their functions, basically making a conscious effort to see them as healthy and balanced.

I continued these practices for several months, practicing at least four times a week, and it worked. My stomach pain was healed.

I’m happy to say the stomach cramps have never returned. My solar plexus is healthy and I plan to keep it that way.

I believe practicing Kundalini Yoga and learning about our chakras is an easy way to bring healing into our lives.

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Sarah Atwell lives in Oregon and is currently studying various methods of healing. Connect with her on Facebook.