Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Aparigrah; non possessiveness

We, as a culture, constantly hold on to what we have and yearn for more. We
want more friends, knowledge, control, and just more stuff in general. But, as
we learn from the yoga sutras, specifically from the yama of Aparigraha or non
possessiveness, we need to let go in order to change and evolve, and to create
space for the new. On our Facebook page, Sarah G., from Yoga International, says
this beautifully: “Let go of who you are to create space for who you can be.” If we
constantly hold on, we don’t get to cleanse. Can you imagine if you held on to every
germ you picked up on the subway? You would be a mile thick with grime! But we
shower often to cleanse ourselves. Aparigraha is similar, teaching us to loosen our
grip on the things we clench to with white knuckles.

As a true life example, I use my mother, one of the strongest woman I have ever
known, because she is constantly allowing the people she loves to go. She is a
physical therapist and I remember watching her read the obituaries to see if any
of her patients died, whether it was from the previous week or years before when
she had last seen them. I was also there when her mother died, and when her father
died, and I remember when I decided to go to Kazakhstan and then move to New
York City. This woman who birthed me and, like any mother, would have loved for
me to be close, never asked or sent out that wish, but instead always supported me
fully on my path.

Mothers are constantly committed to karma yoga, a yoga practice to give
unconditionally; we see this with one of the first things a new mother does--breastfeeding.
Milk has the unique quality of containing the best that the mother can
offer, even at the expense of her own health. In the case of calcium, for example, the
infant is assured an adequate supply since the mother’s milk will contain sufficient
amounts of the mineral even if she herself is malnourished. In the book Diet and
Nutrition: A Holistic Approach by Dr. Ballentine, he shares with his readers that milk
is the symbol of the willingness to give, to sacrifice, which is where the expression
“the milk of human kindness” comes from.Surrendering our own health is an extreme example, but it illustrates how onesurrenders to a greater calling instead of holding on. Change is difficult and often
times it is easier to hold on to the old because it is something familiar to us; a
mother doesn’t know how her child will grow up, a new job may not be as secure as
the old one, or moving forward after someone dies is not easy. But change gives us
space to become who we can be.

Yes, you can have a dramatic change to practice Aparigraha, but you can start in
a simple way by looking at your words. Allow speech to assist you in accepting
change by being less possessive. For example, instead of saying my daughter, can
you call her by name and let go of the title? Or can you let go of saying my job, my
business, my friends? In our speech we harbor this possessiveness and continue to
breed on our attachments.
 
One challenge that we do during our BambooMoves Warrior Advanced Practitioner (200 Hr Cert.)
program is to see how many times we can say something to show non
possessiveness. When I was getting married a few years ago, instead of always
saying, “my fiancé,” I introduced him by name. It was amazing to see how confused
people got when I wasn’t possessing him, but just stating his name. Often another
person would interrupt and say, “This is her fiancé.” Another example, when looking
for your shoes, try asking, “has anyone seen the shoes that I wore today?” Or, in
response to where do you work? Often I respond, I teach at a studio in Queens,
instead of calling it my studio. To dive a bit further, when getting physically hurt,
instead of saying, “I hurt my toe,” you might say, “The toe is hurt.”” Start by changing
how we look at the stuff around us, the body we have, and the mind we have, in
order to begin to loosen these grips. This loosening allows us freedom to have faith
in Ishvara and the practice of Aparigraha.
 
This month, the BambooMoves 8 Limbs Challenge, is to see how you can change
your speech by becoming aware of how often you use possessives. Some days try
not to use possessives and on other days observe and keep a tally how many times
you use “my” or “mine.” Facebook us and share your thought of this challenge.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September Focus -Brahmacharya- Walk the Line

Walk the Line

Offering our senses to a higher purpose brings vitality and clarity.

BY Irene (Aradhana) Petryszak ON November 7, 2013


Brahmacharya (moderation of the senses), the fourth of the five yamas (restraints) described in the Yoga Sutra, counsels us to live a life of balance. Though most commentators translate brahmacharya as “celibacy,” its literal meaning is “walking in the presence of the Divine.” In Vedic culture, brahmacharya referred to the first of the four stages of life, that of a student—the practice of celibacy helped students to remain clear and one-pointed in their studies.

Though most commentators translate brahmacharya as “celibacy,” its literal meaning is “walking in the presence of the Divine.”
For modern-day yoga students, brahmacharya guides us to regulate, but not repress, our senses—to find that fine balance between fulfilling our needs and indulging to excess. The sages tell us that the senses follow the mind like worker bees follow their queen. So when we set an intention and focus our mind on it, our senses gather together to support that intention. But keeping that focus when our untamed senses are tugging at our mind every which way is no easy task. My first attempt to practice brahmacharya taught me not to underestimate the power of sensual urges.

Leap of Faith

When I started yoga some 30 years ago, I had a deep spiritual hunger. So I jumped at the chance to do my first purashcharana practice—repeating 10 malas worth of a certain mantra for 125 days—even though it came with strict requirements: no alcohol, no drugs, no sex, no meat, and no eggs. Little did I realize what I had signed up for.
Although the no sex part threw me a little, I figured it would be easy—after all, I had just moved into a yoga community that encouraged and supported celibacy. Abstaining physically was hard at first, but not as hard, I soon found out, as controlling my racy mind. Instead of listening to what my teachers were saying in class, my mind wandered merrily among memories of past pleasures and fantasies of future ones. I would be sitting in front of a teacher taking notes when a forceful wave of sexual energy would rush through me, leaving me embarrassed and red-faced. Oh my god, can he read my mind? I wondered, looking sheepishly away. Can he tell what an awful student I am? I had no idea my mind was so preoccupied with sexual thoughts! Stopping the outer activity made me acutely aware of its strong unconscious hold on me.

The effort to maintain the practice created a fire within me, bringing old unresolved issues to light. Friends remarked on how radiant I looked, but inside I felt like I was dying. And the truth, I later realized, was that my old self was dying, opening the way for a new self to be born.
Not wanting to break the practice, but not knowing how to handle the energy, I turned to food for comfort. Bread and butter in any form became my solace. A friend doing the same practice and battling the same urges left me a thick piece of homemade bread slathered with butter on my desk one day with the note: We may be getting fat but we’re getting pure. “Fat but pure” became our motto.
The effort to maintain the practice created a fire within me, bringing old unresolved issues to light. Friends remarked on how radiant I looked, but inside I felt like I was dying. And the truth, I later realized, was that my old self was dying, opening the way for a new self to be born. But at the time, I only felt inner torment and anguish. Self-doubts gnawed at me. Thoughts of leaving consumed me. Emotions of all kinds surged through me. I found it almost impossible to continue. Long fast walks up steep hills had little effect—so I ate more bread and butter.
Determined, I kept doing the practice. Slowly I began to understand that energy is just energy, neither good nor bad—whether it manifests as waves of sexual desire or emotions like anger, sadness, jealousy, love, or joy. By not resisting or judging whatever surfaced, I learned I could observe it without identifying with it—and eventually it would fade away.
 The glorious 125th day came and with it I felt an inner lightness, a clearing, as if some deep spiritual knot had been loosened. I had gained 20 pounds but shed a layer of darkness that had been smothering me since childhood. Inspired, I decided to do another purashcharana. This time, I didn’t need to indulge in so much bread and butter.

The inner touch of the Divine—that sweet quiet calm clarity of the inner Self—fed my deeper hunger in a way that sensual pleasures could not. In the past, the more I indulged sensually, the more I wanted. But once I learned to control and channel my sensual energy for a higher purpose, I felt more alive, more clear, more joyful.

Acquire a New Taste

The sages say the way to deal with a baser urge is to replace it with a higher one. In Swami Prabhavananda’s commentary on Narada’s Bhakti Sutras, he explains that it is like putting a smaller magnet into the force field of a larger one. When we do this, the lesser magnet loses its potency. The same is true for us. Instead of fighting our weakness, promising to give it up, only to fail miserably each time and feeling more and more worthless, we can turn it over to a higher source. This is the premise of Alcoholics Anonymous. But it originated with the ancients.
In Ramakrishna and His Disciples, Christopher Isherwood tells how Ramakrishna advised a student who had trouble with alcohol to offer his first sip to the Divine Mother and then drink it as her prasad (blessing). Ramakrishna didn’t tell him to give up drinking, because that would have created a struggle for his student. He simply said to think of the Divine Mother first, which brought a new level of awareness to his action. Though it took time, by doing this, the man slowly changed his attitude. He became filled with devotion and wanted to offer the best of himself to the Divine Mother. He never got drunk again. This is brahmacharya—walking in the presence of the Divine—at its best.

Find the Balance

Although I initially struggled to rein in my sensual urges during my first purashcharana, the more I opened up to a relationship with the Divine, the more I felt satisfied on a deeper level, and the less control these urges exerted over me. The inner touch of the Divine—that sweet quiet calm clarity of the inner Self—fed my deeper hunger in a way that sensual pleasures could not. In the past, the more I indulged sensually, the more I wanted. But once I learned to control and channel my sensual energy for a higher purpose, I felt more alive, more clear, more joyful. And I discovered I could more fully enjoy sensual pleasure in moderation because I was conscious of what I was doing. I had found the balance point.

By gathering our senses and channeling them in a controlled conscious way for a higher purpose, we stop wasting energy. Our conserved vital energy becomes transmuted into a more refined potent healing energy called ojas, which gives us physical stamina and clarity of mind. And when ojas is conserved, it becomes even more highly refined as tejas (splendor; brilliance).
The sages say we are meant to enjoy this world and all it has to offer. Any sensory pleasure in moderation is fine. But when the senses control us rather than us controlling them, we get in trouble. The question to ask is this: To what extent do we let the senses pull us outward in their endless pursuit of satisfaction, and to what extent do we rest the senses in the clear quiet calm of our inner Self? Have we found a balance between the two?
You don’t need to commit to a 125-day practice. Just a 5- or 10-minute relaxation before you indulge in your habitual escape or pleasure can make a difference. That’s how I reined in another out-of-control sensual pleasure—chocolate.  But that's another story.

Gain Vitality

According to the Yoga Sutra (2.38), when we become established in the practice of brahmacharya, we gain vitality. By gathering our senses and channeling them in a controlled conscious way for a higher purpose, we stop wasting energy. Our conserved vital energy becomes transmuted into a more refined potent healing energy called ojas, which gives us physical stamina and clarity of mind. And when ojas is conserved, it becomes even more highly refined as tejas (splendor; brilliance). As Reverend Jaganath Carrera writes in his commentary: “It is not simply that we will have more energy, but the quality of it will be more subtle, stable, and healing. It is the kind of energy that others will feel in our presence, naturally radiating like light or heat.” It is this precious vital force that allows a great spiritual master to transmit subtle energy to a student during initiation, awakening the process of inner transformation. And it is this same energy that will allow us to realize our highest Self.

 ____________________________________________________________________________https://yogainternational.com/article/view/walk-the-line


Irene (Aradhana) Petryszak
Location
Honesdale, PA
About Me
Formerly a senior editor of Yoga International magazine, Irene Petryszak served as the Chairman of the Himalayan Institute from 1996 to 2008. She holds a master’s degree in Eastern studies and has studied and practiced yoga for 30 years in the United States and India under the guidance of Swami Rama and Pandit Rajmani Tigunait. She teaches meditation and yoga philosophy at HI.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August: Asteya


 The month of August is Asteya: non-stealing. I find this such an interesting idea in yoga because it is also in the religion which I grew up in, Christianity. In the bible, though shall not steal. But in the bible it talks more about properties, such as: another man’s wife (in many translations of the modern day bible women seem to be property), an animal of a neighbor, or other items that one possessed. However in yoga it includes things plus time, energy, happiness, and so much more.

Non stealing is related to not taking someone else’s time. For example, how many times have you been late to meet a friend, a boss, and your partner/spouse? This may not seem like a big deal being five, 10 or 15 minutes late. In yoga it a form of not being truthful with the words being shared (satya) or not respecting the person that one is meeting because we are stealing their time as they wait. The person who is waiting could be doing something, could be resting or could have planned accordingly knowing the person would be 15 minutes late.

Asteya, also relates to not taking someone else’s’ happiness. The other night I was pondering this with my husband after a night out with some friends. I was observing the emotion of jealousy and felt like because we didn’t see each other all week, when we were out with friends and he was happy and having a good time, I couldn’t go there with him. The lack of connection we had during the week, created a space for theft to come in and want to steal his happiness. Observing this, the thought and emotion in the middle of it being created, allowed me to step outside it, let it go and left space for a wonderful night of fun with friends to take place.

Not only as a wife to I use Asteya often but also, as a studio owner. Sometimes, it is very easy to get caught up in, “that was my idea” or “I did this” and stealing someone’s thunder. I see this happen often due to the ego desiring attention or kudos. For instance, sometimes, I can come up with an idea and the team at the studio carries it out differently than what I would have done. First one could say, I wanted it done this way, and only this way. Stealing the creative juices from one. But the idea was created and became a living project, which ended in successes, no matter how it was done. In the beginning of being a manager myself, I would want to say “I’m so glad I thought of that” but the project manager made it come alive and carried it through, so praise is due to the project manager. Therefore, releasing that it was my idea at all and celebrating the process and outcome the manager created.

 In yoga, we work with 5 bodies, these ideas of asteya are within these 5 bodies, not just the physical matter body. We look at our actions through energy, where the mind goes energy will follow. So, if I am feeling jealous, or taking someone’s happiness, my energy is in a dark place. But as we become more aware of our thoughts, they become controlled more and more and the monkey mind is lessened. Leaving us to be content and happy on a much deeper level. Therefore, we get to enjoy time with our loved ones and to celebrate in someone doing something great, like carrying out an idea or project. Yoga is such an amazing practice; practice this month with us with ASTEYA. Allow yourself to observe and see how asteya currently is involved or not involved in your life. Many Blessings, Suzanne Scholten

Friday, July 18, 2014

KNOW YOGA KNOW PEACE, INTUITION

Recently I was in Bloomington, IN teaching 12 students for a 200 Hour BambooMoves Teacher Training. It was hosted by the yoga studio Know Yoga Know Peace. So true, right? If one knows the full practice of the 8 limbs of yoga, they know peace. We find true peace because we listen to our intuition, our gut, our inner guide. No longer the social norms. We start to ask why is this, this way? Or why do we want to have a lot of money? Or why do we want to eat fast food or food with no nutrients in it? Or why do I want to watch this TV show? Or why do I want to go to a Yoga class? Why do I feel this way when I do something and another way when I choose something else.

Have you ever stopped to listen to the Om's before class and after class? Did you notice that the OM in the beginning of class was a little off tune? Were you then able to hear the difference at the end of class? This a prime example of how deeply we are all connected on an energetic level. Its not like you talked to you neighbor in class or we practiced during class to be on pitch but because we practiced together we connected energetically and it came out in the sound of the omnipresence, the OM

We are universally connected to the earth, wind, water, fire, ether and through these elements; we are connected to one another. In the book, The Yugas by Joseph Selbie & David Steinmetz through the teachings of Sri Yukteswar & Paramhansa Yogananda it speaks of where human kind is today and where it will be again. Notice, again, a place we were once, a deeper understanding and a true connection. It states: Today, unfortunately, mankind generally turns a blind eye to exploitation, inequity, and injustice. But, according to the insights of Sri Yukteswar, by the end of Dwarpara Yuga mankind will learn that the well-being of others is essential to each individual's happiness; as a result, the exploitation, inequity, and injustice we see around us today will gradually come to an end. But we need to have action now, this seems so simple and yet we still struggle and follow these social norms of family, friends, and culture.

Ayurveda is the sister science to the yoga which is how yogis are assisted in finding balance. When we are staying connected to our true self we feel the place of peace, and our OMs unite we are demonstrating a higher level of consciousness or connection, than just our typical verbal and physical ques. The material things we chase after, may give one joy for a moment but always end up in a place of dissatisfaction through sadness, jealously and emptiness. However, when we listen to our intuition and allow the space to be there and to feel the connection we start to find a true sense of peace. This intuition allows us to be present and to understand those around us. Yoga is a practice of Ahimsa, (compassion) and it comes from this place of intuition, where we are all united and we can see ourselves in one another.

On November 20, 2012 the Dalai Lama said an amazing quote, "If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation. It is exciting to think that Yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki, Acupuncture and other holistic practices are becoming more mainstream. It is a life practice to open us up to the internal truth. We do not have to wait thousands of years to find our own truth and reap the benefits of finding a connection to our neighbors and family. We can start now by practicing the full practice of yoga, the 8 Limbs. Patanjali has been translated into every language to give us tools to follow. For example, Patajali gives us many examples, but I will share 2 sutras pertaining to how we can let go of the voices around us and go inward to hear our intuition of the true Self.  The Sutras translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda book 2 vs. 7 and 8 are the following: Attachment is that which follows identification with pleasurable experiences and Aversion is that which follows identification with painful experiences. Therefore, start to let go of these experiences that make you externally happy or externally sad and start following the truth within you, your intuition. 

Be a regular practitioner to release the attachments and aversions. It is practice that allows us to  hear, feel, and see the truth. 

Many Blessings, Suzanne

Friday, May 2, 2014

Hypnosis and the Eight Limbs of Yoga by John Mongiovi, Certified Hypnotist (republish)

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Hypnosis and the Eight Limbs of Yoga
by John Mongiovi, Certified Hypnotist


As a hypnotist, I often teach workshops on self-hypnosis and other topics at yoga centers, and some participants have asked if there are similarities and relationships between hypnosis and yoga. Usually, someone in the group points out that hypnosis seems similar to “yoga nidra,” the deep, trance-like state that yogis experience during meditation. In both yoga nidra and hypnosis, the body is intensely relaxed and the mind highly focused. The comparison doesn’t end there; in his landmark book Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in Medicine, Dentistry, and Psychology, Dr. William Kroger points out that there are great similarities between hypnosis and the eight “limbs” of yoga that are set forth in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. This brief comparison explores the relationship between Yoga and hypnosis.  

There are many ideas about the precise meaning of the word “yoga.” Literally, it means to join, bind, attach, or unite. In popular use “yoga” has come to mean, as Webster defines it, “a Hindu philosophy that teaches a person to experience inner peace by controlling the body and mind.” That sure sounds a lot like hypnosis! The Yoga Sūtras, dating back to approximately 200 BCE, are 196 aphorisms that form the basis of Yoga. The sutras are divided into eight “limbs,” sometimes called the “eightfold path.” They are summarized here, with their analogies to hypnosis.  My interpretations differ somewhat from Dr. Kroger’s, but credit must go to the master for making the initial comparison:

1st Limb: Yama is restraint, self-control, discipline, ethics, and integrity.  

2nd Limb: Niyama is the regular and faithful observance of rules and practices.

These first two limbs of yoga are analogous to the ideal mindset for someone approaching hypnosis. As with most methods of mental healing, success depends partially on the positive expectancy that any person who has a sincere intention and dedication to the process can achieve results.

3rd Limb: Asana is placement of the body in the correct posture and sitting still.

4th Limb: Prānāyāma is control of the breathing.  

In hypnosis, posture and breathing exercises facilitate the deep relaxation that is often associated with, though not always necessary for, the induction of hypnosis. Posture and breathing also serve to misdirect the attention. In hypnosis, when attention is diverted by mental focus on automatic motor movements (like breathing or muscular twitches) or automatic sensations (like tingling or floating), the conscious mind is kept busy and out of the way, allowing beneficial suggestions and imagery to imprint upon the subconscious mind.

5th Limb: Pratyahara is withdrawing thoughts from the outer world.

Pratyahara resembles the “depersonalization” that occurs in hypnosis and allows one to experience thoughts, feelings, and actions from a new perspective. Depersonalization takes place to some extent when you feel like you are outside of yourself, or like you are watching yourself act, without control over your actions. It happens to some extent when you are daydreaming and suddenly feel as if you could not move, even if you tried, though you don’t care to try. Depersonalization can be positive. In some situations it brings a burst of insight, a sudden expansion of mental perspective (“Eureka! I never seen it that way before!”), or an emotional shift (“Suddenly I just feel great, and I can’t explain it!”) that seems to fix the problem automatically and permanently. Depersonalization can be spiritual. Kroger points out that the goal of nirvana, the state of complete liberation, is strikingly similar to the depersonalization and other dissociated states that characterize hypnosis.

On the other hand, depersonalization can be negative, as when it is the result of trauma or prolonged stress. To some extent, a person who has automatic bad habits or compulsive worries experiences some degree of depersonalization by not having conscious control of their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. In such cases, the goal of hypnosis is to orient the person to their own identity in a balanced and positive way.

Hypnosis can be a powerful tool to achieve depersonalization when needed, or to stop it when undesirable. Hypnosis influences this aspect of the mind so effectively that many well-known phenomena of stage hypnosis rely on it. For example, it is the epitome of depersonalization and disassociation when a subject is made to forget his own identity and assume he is another person, or is made to lose control or feeling in part of the body.

Kroger writes that the first five limbs of yoga involve the creation of a favorable mental attitude of expectancy, which is necessary to approach and induce hypnosis. In summary of these five: First we take account of our personal motivation (yama) and commit to the process (niyama). Next we focus on postures (asana) and breathing (pranayama), which facilitate the trance state. The misdirection of attention resulting from mental focus on posture and breathing facilitates withdrawal from the outer world and focus on inner thoughts and sensations (pratyahara).  

Kroger compares the last three limbs of yoga (dhāranā, dhyāna, and samādhi) to the responses that occur during hypnosis:

6th Limb: Dhāranā is concentration. For example, a person might focus attention on particular parts of the body (kinesthetic), a mantra (auditory), or an image (visual).

7th Limb: Dhyāna is to hold stillness in the mind, without the willful effort of single-pointed attention that characterizes the previous limb of dhāranā.

During the induction and deepening phases of hypnosis, posture and breathing (like limbs 3 and 4) serve to misdirect the attention and facilitate trance. Now, with the subject in hypnosis, concentration on certain tactile, auditory, or visual stimuli again keeps the conscious mind busy so that positive suggestions can influence the subconscious mind.

Like the single-pointed concentration that characterizes dhāranā, constantly pulling the mind back to focus on a certain thought, image or feeling, repetition is an elementary principle of hypnosis. The mind chooses its subjects of thought automatically, and redundancy (repetition) gives it more bits of positive information from which to choose. When positive information outnumbers negative information (like worries and negative self-talk, for example), it becomes more likely that the positive thought or emotion will become chosen automatically and unconsciously. In hypnosis the positive information that is repeated with concentration and effort at first (like dhāranā) eventually becomes automatic and effortless (like dhyāna).

8th Limb: Samādhi is a profound state of ecstasy and peace that comes from feeling at one with higher consciousness.

Yoga is more than stretches, poses, or exercise; it is a path by which an individual may achieve overall physical healing and balance. There are different types of yoga, but they all achieve their effects by helping the person to achieve union with a higher state of consciousness. Likewise, the real magic of hypnosis takes place when the mind is lifted from its previous state to a higher plane of thought. When a problem is seen from a new perspective, a paradigm shift from the previous state to a new state can be achieved, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Many people approach their problems by struggling against them. For example, the smoker feels engaged in a mortal battle (literally) with cigarettes, or the overeater has a love-hate relationship with sweets (they love the sweets, and hate themselves for giving in to them). However, the Law of Reversed Effect asserts that the harder you try to do something, the less chance you have of success, because the unconscious mind that the thing against which you struggle actually has power. In both Yoga and hypnosis, healing is not achieved by focusing on the suffering, or by empowering one to struggle harder, but instead by raising the mind to a higher plane. In practical terms this means leading the subject to experience the thoughts and feelings that will accompany the goal once it is achieved. For example, to stop smoking it is usually far more effective to think about how good it feels to have energy, lung capacity, peace of mind, and self control than to focus on the damage caused by smoke and nicotine, or the shame of addiction. My point is not to equate samādhi to overcoming, but to illustrate that in both hypnosis and yoga, the ultimate goal is achieved when the subject is lifted to a higher state of consciousness.

This is only a summary comparison of two very complicated subjects, but I hope that it can in some way benefit those who are involved in the practices of yoga and hypnosis. When we consider the parallels between ancient systems of healing such as these, it reminds us that we are one human family, all with the same goal of human health and happiness. If we follow these universal prescriptions for balance and healing, we are bound to think, feel, and do better!


Reference
Kroger, William S. Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1963.



© 2014, John Mongiovi, CH – All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Parkinson's from an Energetic Place

I have been practicing yoga since my dad got me a $.25 book at a book fair. He got it to assist me on healing my asthma. It has "healed" allowing me to get off all my steroids, medications, and minimize the wheezing when running.

Now we are at a point where dad needs to get into yoga and deep breathing. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's several months ago and I have been on a mission to see what I can do as a yogini. Parkinson's effects the auto immune system. Currently no scientist or doctor knows what causes Parkinson's and the symptoms are different per each individual. I see this in our Dance for Parkinson's sponsored by Mark Morris class on the 3rd Friday of each month. Each person is effected differently or has different complaints, so as a daughter, trying to empathize with what my dad is going through is difficult because I ask people and everyone says different things; different aches and pains, side effects, different ways of coping, and how many years they have had it. 

After many weeks of doing online research which had many words but didn't say much, I reached out to a taro card reader. She is an intuitive as well, so she deciphers what the cards say with intuition and a deep understanding of what the spirits say. For those of you not into energy work, please don't be riled. When one meditates, there is a space which causes a deep understanding from within. This is the spirit that I am referring too, and with this inner wisdom exposed I can understand and decide much easier than before I meditated. During my session I asked the cards, where does PD come from? And the session focused around control, not being able to let go, not having faith, and having fear.

I know I am stepping out on limb here as many people, especially those with PD, get angry that I am addressing this topic regarding their physical alignment of health from a taro card reading but as western science doesn't know any more than this, really, I might as well try other information that has helped me before. The cards showed how one needs to have outlets to express the voice, their sexuality, their artistic side, and be able to have a sense of freedom. Also there a stong hold with the emotion fear. The cards also addressed the sense of faith and having hope.

These findings are interesting. Apana vayu is the wind that allows us to eliminate, to let go. Its home is the pelvis the place of our 1st charkra. The chakras, the 7 main energy wheels of the body along the spine, we the muladhara chakra. This is the pelvic floor, our container floor. If this area is strong we tend to feel supported, strong and rooted. Udana vayu, is the wind of the throat area but is goverened by the muladhara chakra. In other words, we have the throat area goverened by our base or the area that allows us to feel support. In PD, a common occurrence is people loosing their voice. This first chakra area can be strongly effected by a trama that makes us feel unsupported such as: a parent dying unexpectedly, a lose of a grandparent, sexual abuse, a car accident, being in the middle of tornado, etc. Tramas are different for different people, a trama to one may not effect another, it is how the person perceived it.

There are over 1 million people in the United States that have PD, often it is in people over the age of 50. Many of who have had to hide emotions and their feelings because of their sex, or the family they were a part of, or let go of hopes and dreams because of money issues. For example, men have not been able to cry or be sad. They need to be strong, to "be like a man" but has this created a large group of people with PD? This disease does effect men more than woman. Also, the more we look into it, the more we are seeing that this can happen to people much younger. Why is this? How can someone in their thirties have a disease that kills brains cells that make dopamine.  Many sites I have read says it is in the genes, is it really? Or is it because we pick up the emotional traits of our family? We observe and we copy, many times we do not ask why our parents do something, why they say something, why they act a certain way. We go with the flow. We copy.

Part of the practice of Yoga is asking why and observing. Letting go of personal and family passed down habits to better understand the self, the true Self or the Atman which is always inside of us but rarely heard. With my dad having PD, it has made me observe. I look, act, talk, walk just like my father and I want to learn more about this to assist others. Even if I get this when I am 70, I want to know more than my father did, I want to be used by science to understand a bit more about this disease that we know very little about. I hope that you will give me ideas, feedback and continue to learn about this disease of PD.

God Bless you,
Suzanne
Owner of BambooMoves

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ctrlaltdelete-a-3-step-solution-to-every-problem


CTRL+ALT+DELETE: A 3-Step Solution to Every Problem

By Nishit Patel 

June 9, 2010


The other day, I was teaching my Wednesday evening yoga class and a complex discussion came about, which led me to create a normal, day-to-day analogy to make things simple. Remember, being a walking yogi means: be simple, be practical and ultimately, be free, both figuratively and symbolically. How do you make the best sense out of things that are complex? Well, sometimes you use an analogy that makes use of everyday terms, things, and places, which help you to explain your point. And that is just what I did: I used mundane terms to explain the profound infinity, which could then be easily grasped by the logical brain. Consider that your brain is a computer; we normally use our “computer” in everyday life, but we may not always connect the dots to understand the depths of wisdom that become available through simple explanation.
But, let’s get even simpler. When you are running a couple of programs on your computer and it freezes up due to a lack of memory or other malfunction, what is it that you do at that time to unfreeze? What is the quickest way to release that freeze? Many times, for the PC users, the command to use is “CTRL+ALT+DLT”. (I do not use MAC and so you may have to make up your own analogy.) This command is the quickest and simplest way to get out of that jam. Now you might wonder a bit, “Hum, what does this have to do with infinity?” Wait now, do not rush. I am about to explain.
In the same way that we have computer problems, we have problems and issues in our daily life. Some we face head-on, resolve them quickly, and move on; other issues may take years to resolve—if we are lucky—or else many times we die without solving them. Can you think of anything difficult that is plaguing you? Have you tried to solve the issue at hand? What happened, in reality? Did you end up solving it, did you create more trouble, or did it never get resolved? Ponder on it a bit, analyze it, and see if you can conclude. You might wonder: “He is avoiding an explanation!” Be patient, my dear, be patient. I am about to resolve the situation that you just relived due to your memory-fest. This term, “memory-fest” begs a question: “Is it really a memory-fest or an infatuation or addiction to our memory?” Think about it; it could be my next blog. What do you think? Leave comments on my blog site, please.
To continue, if you have an issue and it is hard to resolve, there are three things I would like you to remember and ask yourself:
1. How much control do I have in this situation?
2. Can I alter the situation? What can I do to alter this situation?
3. If nothing can be done, can I “delete” or completely let go off it, wipe it out of my memory permanently?

Now, remember, we are trying to simplify, so try not to complicate this further. One way to understand simplifying problems is through an example that affects millions of people worldwide. Let us say you have just been diagnosed with diabetes—you have a problem in your hand. Your first reaction could be “why me?” or “what do I do now?”, and there may be many other reactions you could have. Instead of panicking, which may seem like the right thing to do at that time, get back to the three-step solution that was just mentioned above and start working on it right away. Remember, whatever you focus on magnifies. It will become bigger than it is until that is all you can see. So why not focus on solving the situation rather than worrying sick about it?

1. What kind of control do I have? You may think, “Well, I have a good doctor who caught this ailment early on. She is an expert and I can rely on her expertise. I have a spouse or a life partner who understands the situation and is willing to help in any way possible. I have many friends who are sympathetic to my situation and are standing by to help.” Wow! What a great start! Do you have enough control? Are you alone in this?

Second scenario would be: “Oh my God! What am I going to do? I have to take insulin shots every day. It is going to cost me so much. What will happen to my hands and skin by poking those needles? How can I possibly let go off ice cream? I love ice cream.”
Think hard: How much control do you have?

2. What can I do to alter this situation? That is your next priority, next goal, and next target. “Well, I will take my insulin religiously to bring the symptoms under ‘control’.” (A brief word about control: in this situation, you are in control, and the insulin is an extension of that control—you are not completely dependent on it. If you depend on something, you have already lost some control. Mind you, I am not preaching you to become “control freak” but you have to get some handle on it.) You may brainstorm other ways you can alter the situation. “I love to eat, but now I am going to be strict with my diet. I will research, read and discuss more about possible cures; I will talk to a few of my relatives who are managing their own diabetes and alter my situation to go in the positive direction.”

Second Scenario could be,”Well, I know I am not supposed to eat ice cream…I will cut back a little, and then take my insulin shots to avoid raised sugar levels in my blood. I don’t think there is anything else I can do. I am not an expert on diabetes and I will let my doctors handle it. What else can I do?”
Do you see the difference between these two scenarios?
Think hard: If you bring enough control, alteration is a logical sequence that follows.

3. Can I “delete” this issue; can I cure this malady? That is a great way forward. You may determine, “If I implement a regular exercise regimen, undergo strict dietary control and use stress management techniques like yoga, breathing, relaxation and meditation, I believe I can cure it. If I learn more about herbs and how they can bring me back to ‘norm’ then I will be in a great shape to fight this malady off. Henceforth, I will take an oath that I am not sick, but my body is; it is my instrument and I need to sharpen my tool so that I can function optimally on a daily basis.”

Second scenario might look like this: “I have no control over it. I just know a little about it. My doctors are telling me that there are no possible cures for this kind of malady and I am to live with some kind of diet regimen and insulin shots for the rest of my life, or I will die of many complications, including heart problems.”

Think hard: Once you have taken a conscious decision to cure the issue at hand, that awareness itself is a self-propelling, self-guiding force to eliminate the myriad of issues plaguing this humanity.
Now, this is just a random example that I chose to demonstrate my point. Things could be quite different when it comes to your life. But you get the point. It all depends on how you think about your situation and how you utilize the simple facts of life to eliminate an issue or malady in a proper, systematic way—without becoming sick to the core!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Guide To Agni Sara

May 24, 2013 ... Agni sara is essential for developing core strength, which in turn enables us to harness our scattered instinctual energies for the inward journey ...
yogainternational.com/article/view/guide-to-agni-saraguide-to-agni-sara

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hypnosis and the Eight Limbs of Yoga by John Mongiovi, CH


Hypnosis and the Eight Steps of Yoga
by John Mongiovi, CH

As a hypnotist, I often teach workshops on self-hypnosis and sacred chant at Yoga Centers, and some of my students have asked if there are similarities and relationships between hypnosis and Yoga. Usually, someone in the group points out that hypnosis is similar to “yoga nidra,” the deep, trance-like state that yogis experience during meditation. In both yoga nidra and hypnosis, the body is intensely relaxed and the mind highly focused. The comparison doesn’t end there; in Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis Dr. William Kroger points out that there are great similarities between hypnosis and the eight steps of yoga that are set forth in the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali.[1] I’d like to explore the relationship between yoga and hypnosis in this brief summary. My interpretations vary slightly from Dr. Kroger’s, but all credit goes to the master for making the initial comparison:

Yoga Step 1: Yama is restraint, self-control, and discipline. 
Yoga Step 2: Niyama is faithfully observing strict rules.

These first two steps of yoga are analogous to the motivation and discipline needed to approach hypnosis. Most methods of mental healing reply upon a positive expectation that any person can achieve the outcome when certain steps are followed.

Yoga Step 3: Asana is placing the body in the correct posture and sitting still.
Yoga Step 4: Prānāyāma is controlling your breathing. 

In hypnosis, posture and breathing facilitate deep relaxation. Posture and breathing exercises also serve to misdirect the attention. When a person’s attention is diverted by focusing automatic motor movements (like breathing or muscular twitches) and automatic sensations (like tingling or floating) the conscious mind is kept busy and out of the way, allowing beneficial suggestions and imagery to be imprinted upon the subconscious mind.

Yoga Step 5: Pratyahara is withdrawing your thoughts from the outer world.

Pratyahara resembles the “depersonalization” that takes place in hypnosis. Depersonalization is what’s happening when you feel like you are outside of yourself, watching yourself act, with no control over your actions. It happens to some extent when we are daydreaming and suddenly feel as if we couldn’t move even if we tried.  In some situations depersonalization brings a sudden expansion of mental perspective (“Eureka! I never seen it that way before!”), or emotional perspective (“Suddenly I just feel great, and I can’t explain it!”), which seems to fix the problem automatically and permanently. Depersonalization can be positive and spiritual. Kroger points out that the goal of nirvana, the state of complete liberation, is strikingly similar to the depersonalization and other dissociated states that characterize hypnosis. Depersonalization can also be negative, and can be the result of trauma or prolonged stress. To some extent, a person who has automatic bad habits or compulsive thoughts or worries experiences a degree of depersonalization by not having conscious control of their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. In such cases, the goal of hypnosis is to bring the person back to their own identity in a balanced and positive way. So hypnosis is a powerful tool to achieve depersonalization when needed, or stop it when undesirable. Hypnosis influences this aspect of the mind so effectively that many well-known phenomena of stage hypnosis rely on it. For example, it is the epitome of depersonalization and disassociation when subject is made to forget his own identity and assume he is another person, or is made to lose control or feeling in part of the body.

Kroger writes that the first five steps of yoga (yama, niyama, asana, prānāyāma, and pratyahara) involve the creation of a favorable mental attitude of expectancy, which is necessary to approach and induce hypnosis. The last three steps (dhāranā, dhyāna, and samādhi) are then analogous to the responses that occur during hypnosis.

Yoga Step 6: Dhāranā is concentrating the mind on the body. For example, in yoga, a person might focus concentration on particular chakras or parts of the body. 

Concentration on posture, and breathing initially assist in relaxation and divert the attention of the conscious mind, in both yoga and hypnosis. Again, both in dhāranā and in hypnosis, further attention on the sensations of the body (or any other point of fixation) keeps the conscious mind busy so that positive suggestions can influence the subconscious mind.

Yoga Step 7: Dhyāna is holding steady focus on a single object or idea.

Repetition is one of the most elementary principles of hypnosis. Suggestions and imagery are brought to the mind again and again. Repetition works because the mind chooses its subjects of thought automatically. Redundancy (repetition) gives the mind more bits of positive information from which to choose. When this positive information outnumbers negative information (like worries and negative self-talk, for example), it becomes more likely that the positive thought or emotion will become chosen automatically and unconsciously. 

Yoga Step 8: Samādhi is feeling oneness with the object of meditation.

In hypnosis, as in the final step of yoga, we seek to be one with the goal. This is the key to how hypnosis helps people with problems they have had for years. Many people approach their problems by struggling against them. For example, the smoker feels engaged in a mortal battle (literally) with cigarettes, or the overeater has a love-hate relationship with sweets (they love the sweets, and hate themselves for giving in). Hypnosis breaks that cycle, not by empowering the person to struggle harder against the problem, but by leading them to experience thoughts and feelings that will accompany the goal when it is achieved. When the subject is aligned with states of thinking and feeling that support the desired behaviors, they are one with the goal, and corresponds to Samādhi.

We may observe in the eight steps of yoga and in hypnosis that true healing and balance are achieved not by addressing symptoms, but by aligning the mind with a higher state of consciousness. Yoga is more than stretches or exercise; it is a path by which an individual may achieve overall physical healing and balance. There are different types of yoga, but they all achieve their effects by helping the person to achieve union with a higher state of consciousness. Likewise, the real magic of hypnosis takes place when the mind is lifted from its previous state to a higher plane of thought. When the problem is seen from a new perspective, a paradigm shift from the previous state to a new state is achieved.

This is only a summary comparison of two very complicated subjects, but I hope that it can in some way benefit those who are involved in the practices of yoga and hypnosis. When we see the parallels between ancient systems of healing such as these, it reminds us that we are one human family, all with the same goal of human health and happiness. If we follow these universal prescriptions for balance and healing, we are bound to think, feel, and be better!

March 13, 2014


[1] There are different types of yoga: karma yoga (the path of action); jnana yoga (the path of knowledge); bhakti (the path of devotion); and rāja yoga (the path of meditation). The Yoga Sutras form the basis of rāja yoga.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Taking the practice deeper in April

Often times we forget that there is more to us than the physical body and what we eat (Annamaya kosha). In yoga we learn through the ancient texts that we are actually made up of five bodies: Annamaya kosha, Pranamaya kosha, Manamaya kosha, Vijnanamaya kosha and Anandamaya kosha. These koshas or sheaths are the five coverings which veil Purusa, the essence of God that is in each one of us. This is why there are so many different practices within Raja Yoga, the royal practice that we study here at BambooMoves. Practicing good eating habits, asana, chanting and meditation, and performing selfless service allow us to connect to each of these bodies, eventually unveiling the first layer of the true self, the Atman.

In the coming month, through our meditation and hypnosis workshops, we will be exploring the Pranamaya kosha and the Manamaya kosha, or the prana sheath and the mental sheath. During the meditation workshop, with Nishit Patel, we will begin to feel our connection to our internal energetic vibrations. I am very honored to have him teach us, as he was one of my first teachers here in the United States after leaving India.

Then, during the hypnosis workshop, with John Mongiovi, we will be able to tap into our Manamaya kosha by learning exercises and techniques to assist us in processing thoughts and emotions, controlling the ego and tapping into our memories. If you are at a place where you want to learn more about your self and go deeper into your practice, both of these are amazing workshops to attend. I will be going to both of them, and I look forward to learning with you this month.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Do what you need, call it what you want but allow yourself to feel good and happy

A friend of mine has changed his desk 10 years ago due to his lower back problems. He refuses to do yoga but as I asked him why he finds standing for 10 hours a day helps him, he responded with a surprising answer of, "I get to stretch and keep my back long through out the day. When I sat, I would have such poor posture and I felt how it tightened my hips. Now I sway and stretch the whole day."

This is the yoga asana at its best, the ability to open the body and create space. We can create space through many ways when doing asana: breathing into a certain part of the body, bringing energy by focusing on the part of the body, and actually moving the body to stretch and lengthen. By using the asanas to stretch and open the body we get to let go of our attachments to emotions to memories and with the stuff gone we no longer need we have room for God to reside within us. The breath that we have in our yoga practices is the place of connection to the mind, body, and Devine. Therefore do the changes you need to feel good and call it what you want so there is space in the body and a way to connect to that higher self. If we stay in pain by eating unhealthy or have poor physical alignment habits, or get lost in negative thinking than here is now place for us to rise to that higher self. Its winter now, its cold, take this time to go inward, start cleaning house and setting some attainable goals to let go of pain and negativity and bring in healthy, feeling good and happiness.

NPR stats on sitting after 60

So many people are using Acupuncture, why not you?

no-wheaties-necessary-olympians-use-ancient-medicine


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Complementary and Aleternative medicine (CAM)



 Since 2000, we have been able to read much research regarding yoga and its benefits. The National Institute of Health Research has started to fund many of these studies to the growth of western trained medical doctors inspired to study this ancient techniques.



Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002

Friday, February 7, 2014

We Feel What We Eat


Often times we hear health practitioners, our friends or family members make excuses such as, “It comes with age,” when talking about illnesses ranging from chronic aches and pains to cancer. This leads many of us to lose hope when thinking about our old age and to believe that these things are just a part of getting older. But this is not true. There are many elderly people who lead vibrant, healthy lives. And, sadly, there are many young people who suffer from illness and disease. I, myself, have had debilitating back pain since I was 12 years old.



Some of what happens to us is clearly out of our control. However, there are also many things we can do to fortify ourselves and help prevent some common ailments. One simple way to start is with our nutrition. I often hear people talk about how cheaply they can get dinner here or there, or which supermarkets are having specials, but this cheap and “fast” food has very little nutritional value.



Steaming organic veggies in balsamic or apple cider vinegar or sautéing organic veggies in coconut oil is easy and tasty and can assist the body in feeling better and the mind in becoming less anxious. Knowing where your food comes from is a good place to start—know how far your food had to travel to get to your plate.



Recently I was in Washington, D.C., attending the Medical Yoga Symposium and heard a speaker named Sandra McLanahan, who co-authored the book, Surgery and Its Alternatives: How to Make the Right Choices for Your Health. It is a point of view that most of us have not heard—that we can choose to let go of our illnesses and instead to be healthy and happy, and to enjoy life.



We can accomplish this through eating a balanced diet of  75% fruits and vegetables, coupled with meditation, exercise and deep breathing. By doing these things, we get the nutrients the body needs and help keep the mind healthy and positive. This helps move out the stagnant emotions, energy and thoughts that have been sitting within us collecting dust. With toxic thoughts and living on an unhealthy processed diet, we make our bodies work twice as hard, leaving them little room to fight off many illnesses.



It is a great idea to do a juice cleanse several times a year, to help clean house. But you can also start small—try eating raw or plain steamed vegetables for just one day. In 2014, choose to be healthy, choose to feel good! Find hope in the beautiful aging process, instead of resigning yourself to an old age filled with aches and illness. I want you to take the steps to health by exercising, eating more vegetables, drinking more water, and breathing more deeply. Think you can? I would love to hear about it at BambooMoves: https://www.facebook.com/BambooMovesFH.#bamboomoves

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How Winter Changes Your Practice


Last week after class a student expressed her frustration with her practice. She had been practicing more often then usual- almost every day that week- and really pushing herself to move deeper into the postures. She had it in her mind that she should be in this super flexible place and was upset when her body didn't open up as she had been expecting it to. She felt tired and even a little stiffer then she had been in our previous class. She said she was straining to hold the postures that she had done a million times and struggled quite a bit with the deeper stretches.

This is not so strange or out of the ordinary moment in our practice of yoga. Her reaction isn't unexpected either. We tend to think about our yoga practice a linear, upward moving journy. Everyday we take a class we expect our body to be stronger, and more twisted then the class before. Sadly our body never got that memo.

The body changes daily. It is effected by the food we eat, how much rest we have gotten, and our stress levels. It is effected by us running to class frantic or by our strolling into class 10 minutes early. It is effected by if you were sitting all day or if you were walking around. It is effected by the shoes you were wearing while you were taking that walk.

So if the body is so deeply influenced by the contents of our day of course it is effected by the winter months- especial during an Arctic Chill!

Some reasons  your body might be a little slower moving then you remember it:

  • with less sunlight exposure the body tends to produce more melatonin which is a chemical in the brain aids the body in sleep
  • cold causes muscles to decrease in elasticity. Kinda like stretching a rubberband after its been sitting in the refrigerator for a long time
  • cold dry air can cause lungs to lose heat and moisture which makes it difficult to breath efficiently
Don't be hard on yourself or your body. Maybe spend extra time warming up before practice. Add more child's poses during your routine and some restorative poses at the end. In the spring months we get a burst of energy and our summer is filled with activity. Allow you body to move with nature. Winter is the time for rest and restoration. Allow your body that space and I bet you'll see a happy blossoming in your practice!