Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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Sex. Money. Gandhi.

hanuman

“How did Hanuman become powerful? It is with this weapon of Brahmacharya that he acquired unsurpassable strength and velour.”

Sri Swami Sivananda

Brahmacharya=Don’t have sex.

This is a common misconception. Gaining the strength and vigor to the likes of the monkey god Hanuman is all about restraining our physical (human) urges. Sex is a large part of this, but not the only part. Here starts our discussion on Patanjali’s 4th social restraint BRAHMACHARYA.

It is not all about sex…money, beer, cigarettes, television, the sofa bed, lolly pops, fast cars… high heels. All things that we may lust over. Brahmacharya can be practiced around anything we may be overly attached to in the physical realm. These things all take away our potential energy to achieve the INCREDIBLE.  I personally believe that the things we struggle with most as individuals are the areas that have the greatest capacity to create change. For example, an alcoholic that gives up the drink will see a tremendous change in their life. An over eater who learns to eat right and live healthily will become a different person. You may be thinking, “But I don’t have any of those problems.” Well… think again. Make the road narrower. Just because you may not have any obvious problems doesn’t mean you don’t have unhealthy attachments to the material world. You know what your thing is. Maybe it’s your kindle, Facebook, or your crockpot. I don’t know… but you do. Anything that takes away your capacity to reaching your MAXIMUM potential. I am guilty of falling victim to plenty of material things. Trust me. My point is that Brahmacharya is not only about sex. It is about anything in the physical realm that takes up too much of our energy, ultimately taking away our ability to transcend—

worldly things

The following comes from http://www.yoga108.org

Brahmacharya has two main meanings. In the broad sense it means control of the senses or indriyas. More specifically it refers to celibacy or chastity. Like all traditional spiritual traditions, yoga advocates restraining from indulging in sensual gratification. One of the many reasons is that practicing the higher limbs of ashtanga yoga – dharana, dhyana, samadhi – requires a tremendous amount of energy or prana. This energy is built up through the practices of yoga such as asanas, pranayama and japa but is dissipated during sensual enjoyment. Of all the sensual activities, sex is the one that will be the most depleting to the psychic and nervous system. Most people don’t like to hear this but, like the other yamas, everyone should practice brahmacharya to the best of their ability. It is a fact that the more people gratify their senses, the less energy they have and the less ability they have to meditate on the absolute.
 
The more broad definition of brahmacharya also includes conduct that leads to the realisation of the Self, or Brahman, study of the Vedas and scriptures, and contemplation on Brahman.

Practice of Brahmacharya gives good health, inner strength, peace of mind and long life. It invigorates the mind and nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments memory, will force and brain power. It bestows tremendous strength, vigour and vitality. Strength and fortitude are obtained… He who is established in Brahmacharya will have lustrous eyes, a sweet voice and a beautiful complexion.

Swami Sivananda

Brachmacharya is considered one of the cornerstones of a serious yoga practice. The conservation of energy that comes from practicing celibacy is converted into Ojas and Tejas (spiritual energy). Eventually yogic powers can also manifest by the perfect practice of brahmacharya. There are many famous yogis and spiritual leaders who were established in this yama. Some of them are Sankara, Jesus, Gandhi, Hanuman, Lakshmana, and Bhishma from the Mahabharata. From their practice of brahmacharya they had incredible amounts of energy, will-power and thought-power to do great works for the world.

Gandhi_smiling_R

Many people mistakenly believe that practicing brahmacharya means suppression of the natural sexual instincts. Suppression is not what is wanted, because anything that is suppressed will eventually be released with redoubled force when an opportunity arises, the will becomes weak or when sadhana slackens.

*** Let me intervene here for a moment if I may. While discussing this subject at Tattvaa Yoga Shala in Rishikesh India and also at Rishikesh Yog Peeth we discovered a disconcerting pattern. Why is it there seems to be so many problems among certain groups of powerful people (priests, rabbis, even yogi brahmins?) It is possible that it is because they are held to the  standard of suppressing their sexuality, the energy becomes distorted and malformed eventually coming out in horrific ways. For some practicing sexual brahmacharya is too spiritually advanced, and for some it isn’t….***

The proper way to practice brahmacharya is to sublimate these natural urges into Ojas by a strong yoga practice that includes meditation, asanas, pranayama, japa, kirtan, satsang, and reading of scriptures or yogic texts. Contrary to some popular ideas and incorrect psychological beliefs, celibacy improves health and all aspects of life when practiced in the proper context.

*PLAY, sing, PRACTICE, LOVE, meditate, READ…*

This is a good begining.

 

Brahmacharya for Householders (Normal People)

Swami Sivananda recommends that for householders moderation should be practiced. He recommends self-control in order to have one or two children who are healthy and strong. He advocates living a more selfless life of charity, goodness and kindness, including worship of God. Marriage should lead the husband and wife upwards in the spiritual path towards a life of spiritual partnership. When this is accomplished, much spiritual progress can be gained.

It is beyond all doubt that a life of Brahmacharya is glorious and marvellous. At the same time, a life of moderation in the household life is equally good and helpful for spiritual growth. Both have their own advantages. You must have great strength to tread the path either way.

Swami Sivananda

lucky

for more on this subject see also:

http://taozitreeyoga.com/2012/12/09/tantric-sex-on-a-saturday-night

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2013! A SEXIER, happier, new and improved you! An introduction…

…maybe sexier I just put that to get your attention. 😉

January 1, 2013:  LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN! (or keep going)

Home is where my feet are.... on my mat.

Home is where my feet are…. on my mat. In Li Jiang, China.

For the last 18 months I have not worked, (except for teaching yoga in Puerto Vallarta for 3 months in the beginning of the year…) I have travelled the world and studied yoga.

An abbreviated journey itinerary found here: China (Beijing, and then our pedal bike/train journey  ALL over the gigantic country, too many places to list… ,Sydney Australia, Bali Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, US (Colorado, Wisconsin, California), Mexico (Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta), England (London for the Olympics and Hayling Island Ross’s home), Paris France, Italy (Rome, Tuscany, Campotosto), Germany (Dusseldorf, Dortmund), back to China, India (Varkala Kerala, Agra, Rishikesh) and back home to Colorado for Christmas 2012…PHEW! I’m so happy to be home! (for the time being).

Mexico City.

Mexico City.

Now I’d like to start using what I have learned here on my new and improved yoga blog! Welcome!  My objective for the next year is to help myself (yes myself) as well as you with our daily practice by reviewing/reiterating/elaborating on some lessons I have learned during my own yoga journey. I’d really like to share my process with you, perhaps helping you on your own journey to a NEW and IMPROVED (maybe sexier) YOU! I hope to discover things we can DO (or try not to do)  each day to make a difference in our own lives or the lives of others around us, using yogic principles as the backdrop.

Love.

Make a difference! Love. In Bali…

In the modern world, where everything is BOLD, noisy, flashy, FAST, and commoditized, people naturally have a hard time finding silence, or the ability to hear their internal guide.  The typical 60 minuets of asana (yoga postures) is a great tool to get the mind to shut up for a while. After all,

Citta Vritti Nirodha: yoga is cessation of the mind.

It is a beautiful thing. However, there is so much more than asana! My understanding is that most yogis (not all) are caught up in their physical practice of yoga, often neglecting the other 7 branches of Patanjali’s yoga sutras as well as many of the other points of wisdom from the east. We are too busy! We don’t have time for more… We all want the quick fix to remedy the madness that is our mind. As yogis, we know there is more to yoga then the hour or so we spend on the mat a few times a week, but perhaps we don’t have the time, energy, or willingness to add the extra zest to our practice. We instead decide to stick with what we know, the physical. The “exercise”. Sure we may enjoy the occasional Om, or depending on where we practice, there may be some mantra chanting, some pranayama, or a small meditation. We might use reusable cloth bags and drive eco-friendly Subaru’s… but what is all this really about? Is it ENOUGH? Are we all as modern yogis developing as deeply as our potential and possibility allow? My opinion is a harrowing “NO”. We are heading in the right direction though!

We all like the asana!

Asana on Varkala beach. India.

So, what exactly are the options?  How do we self assert ourselves into a deeper understanding of yoga? Who has the time to study the sutras and extract what is applicable in the modern-day life of a yogi? I know who has the time. I do! I propose that for the next year I post (as often as possible) small things that we can DO everyday to hopefully push us gently further into the right direction… I’ll ask the help of my fellow yoga students to help me. (Please?)

Why? So I can DO something with what I have learned. So it doesn’t stagnate inside me as Ross and I head into ANOTHER year of traveling, and of the unknown…

Warrior in the Coliseum.

Warrior in the Coliseum.

All over China we went...

All over China we went…

IMG_7608

I have played and studied yoga. I have read and practiced more diligently then any other time in my life… and through my missteps and successes I have begun to accumulate quiet a repertoire of experience. Its January 1st. It’s time for us all to excel. It is time to push the envelope a little more. I’d like to make the journey to go deeper EASY for you (and for myself). Change doesn’t happen in one day, it happens with many days linked together…

Patanjali's yoga sutras lecture in Rishikesh...

Patanjali’s yoga sutras lecture in Rishikesh…

My desire is to create a space to highlight (and review) things I’ve learned. I will move from Patanjalis eight limbs and look at how to USE them in our daily life. I’d like to include the gems or pearls I have heard from my many yoga teachers around the world.  I would like to include some Ayurvedic and Chinese principles around life style and diet choices. I will also include some thoughts and recommendations from some of my favorite and most used texts and other peoples blogs I really like. I’d like to ask you to please help me! Add to what is posted and elaborate! Disagree! Whatever you like…

I’m excited to review and share some of what has been so generously given to me.  Because I whole-heartedly believe that progressing into the practice isn’t only about asana. It can’t be found in downward dog, the wheel or head stand. These are as small a part of yoga as a drop of water is the ocean.

Santosha: Bali Class of September 2012

Santosha: Bali Class of September 2011

300 hr YTT  Rishikesh Yog Peeth December 2012

300 hr YTT Rishikesh Yog Peeth December 2012

Speaking of drops of water… the first official post in this series will come next… its about… water….

FIRST LESSON: DRINK WARM WATER! (says every yoga teacher I have ever had, EVER) Not COLD WATER! You know who you are… (pretty much EVERY ONE IN MY FAMILY!) 😉

Why!? More on this lesson to come soon!


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Ghee Magic.

Peace, peace, peace…

Waking up every morning at 5 am, in complete darkness, to the sounds of chanting and the soft glow of candle light, one can’t help but feeling magic. I stumble into the kitchen with my eyes half-open to make some tea (a.k.a ….breakfast) before heading down to the yoga shala. We all head out the door, one by one, and down the street we go, the energy of the morning beginning to stir. As we make our walk to class, it’s dark. There can however be seen the occasional person, bare foot and dis-shoveled, meandering around with a long stick, perhaps accompanied by one of the many stray dogs. Not a walk I’d like to make alone. We walk past a large temple on the right. Through the gate and the large temple door the altar can be seen, a giant statue of Ganesha lit up by the hundreds of ghee lit candles. Ghee, a variation of butter, is used for EVERYTHING. I’ll explain more later. We continue the walk down the now familiar street and after passing the dead bat hanging from the telephone wire and the random cowboy sign on the side of the road; we make a sharp right down an ally and toward the yoga shala. Once making it in the gate and up the stairs we enter the world of chanting, meditation and asana. After we chant and connect to our breath we are launched abruptly into an hour and 45 min long inhale-in exhale-out moving mediation. Loads of vinyasas, chaturangas, forward folds, back bends, standing postures, balancing postures, inversions and more… all before 8 AM.

After the series is finished with a well deserved shavasana (resting pose), I begin my prenatal course. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from this wonderful school as possible.  Our teachers are amazing. Mahesh, the Mysore born Ashtanga teacher is a total character. Amazing man. Ellie, the beautiful Colombian wife of Mahesh is the primary teacher for the pre-natal course and she is a walking yoga dictionary. We constantly bombard her with questions all day long and she always answers with attention and care, if she doesn’t know the answer she politely says she will get back to us, and she does. Once we finish our morning lessons we all head back to the house for a cold shower (MAYBE a hot shower out of a bucket if I boil a pot on the stove first) and to prepare lunch.

Our large lovely kitchen.

There are 7 of us living in the house and we have created a very cute family style cooking routine where every day a “team” will cook for every one. This way we aren’t all cooking everyday and we get to sample a number of different things. We have a big beautiful home, which no one was expecting, and a large black and white checkered kitchen.  There are plenty of little “friends” living in the kitchen which may take some getting used to for some. Keep in mind all the windows are open constantly (save for the protective bars) but there is plenty of space for the outside critters to join in the fun inside. A lovely girl, Ali, who is essentially my unknown sister from Beijing (same graduating class of 2004, same American princess background, and lived in Beijing for 5 years, just like me) she had an interesting experience in the kitchen when she woke up the morning after a rain storm, went into the kitchen to make some tea and felt burning on her feet, she looked down to find ants all over her lower limbs… yikes. They had probably come in to take care of all the fairy bugs who had come in to hide from the rain… Bugs, birds, bats, SPIDERS (We had a large one named BORUS, living in our bathroom for a few days) are simply to be expected. Not a big deal… just takes some getting used to. In a way our little friends add to our lovely household environment.  So far all of the food that all of us budding adults have managed to muster up has been amazing. When it was Ross and I’s turn to cook we attempted Mexican. It was YUMMY. Loaded with substitutions (yogurt for the sour cream, paneer for the cheese, and of course…no meat). We have also had pumpkin-lentil soup, palak paneer ( spinach and cheese), loads of marsalas, grated salads, fruit, and lassies (a yogurt drink).

Yummy Indian food…

Borus the spider…

In the afternoon we head back to the shala for more lectures, some pranayama and meditation. All of the classes have been wonderful and there has been enough information shared to write volumes. Perhaps I’ll attempt later. In this blog however I’d like to highlight the magical household ingredient that I have learned about since coming to India. Ghee.

Our yoga home…

What is Ghee? It is essentially the Indian version of butter, it is butter actually. They just make it more “aryuvedic” and healthy by boiling it and skimming off the top solid bits and then the remaining clear liquid is the purified butter or Ghee. Nearly 2 weeks have passed since arriving at the yoga school here in Varkala. I have heard, “just use ghee” at least two dozen times. Stiff joints? Put ghee on it. To much fire in the body? Use some ghee. Perfect yogi drink? Mix ghee together with milk and tadaa! Done. Skin problems? Rub ghee on it. Burning sensation in your hands? Rub them together with ghee. Food need to be a little more delicious? Add some ghee. On and on and on it goes. I love it. It floods every kitchen with the smell of butter. It lines the shop walls in plenty of different brands and jars. It seems to be the miracle worker here. It makes me happy because every one loves butter, at least I do 😉 The other day when we had a meandering drunk homeless man came around the house and was hanging on our shutters (a bit scary) part of me wondered if perhaps ghee could have helped us out of the jam? Instead Sonali, the beautiful  Indian women who is studying with us attempted to “shoo” him away with a broom while Ross encouraged us to pretend he wasn’t there. Imagining that if we pretended we couldn’t see him he would go away. This was incredibly awkward as we were all bustling around cleaning up after lunch and he was hanging onto the window bars right outside the dining room window looking in with curiosity. A very interesting India moment indeed.

To the train station…

Another unforgettable moment was when last week when we took a train to the Southern tip of the country to see where 3 bodies of water meet. the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Mannar and the Indian Ocean. We took a pretty sketchy ferry packed with people out to a beautiful temple on a small island. While visiting there we had a “dance off” Ali “dropped it like it was hot” and we truly (perhaps inappropriately 😉 ) entertained the locals with our laughter. We felt like little celebrities getting our photos taken with all the kids. It was a good reprieve from the days filled with yoga.

Beautiful little girl 😉

Liz, myself, and Ali my Beijing friend 😉

The temple.

Master Mahesh and his coconut.

There have been so many amazing things happening here. Yesterday we started even earlier and made it to the beach as the sun was coming up for some beach yoga. It was wonderful, a bit of a circus with the dogs and the fisherman hee-ing and haa-ing, but it was special to be out there enjoying daily life with the locals. Its Sunday now, exactly 2 weeks after we arrived in Varkala. I just found out last night that my Grandpa died. Crazy because he came to me in my dream last night. I woke up this morning knowing he was gone and he had passed quietly in his sleep. He was 95. Not a total shocker, but yet another excuse/opportunity to reflect on the deeper aspects of my yoga practice. Of course I’m sad, if any one asks whats wrong, I bet the recommendation will be to “just apply ghee” to my heart.

Ross showing off in Peacock…

Mahesh and his magic assists….

Beach yoga…

If you can focus here… you can focus anywhere…

My love.

Happy on the train… adventure to who knows where…