Lesson 9 – Hello Beautiful Community

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

I bought a bicycle a few weeks ago.  It is nice for exercise and now I no longer need to take the notoriously overcrowded buses here in India.  Riding a bike on the roads can be dicey though.  A typical decision that needs to be made is when there is a bus, 2 cars, 4 motorbikes with 9 people on them, 3 bicycles, 2 cows, 8 goats and 2 dogs all coming together at the same point in the road, what happens?  This is a common occurrence on the roads in India, and there are no traffic laws.  At least that anyone obeys.  Except that the cow is safe.

Here at the ashram we have a very controlled diet.  We are allowed to eat what we want outside the ashram except we agreed to stay vegetarian for the length of our stay.  The diet that we eat here is Sattvic.  This means that the food is prepared fresh and with care and positive vibrations.  It is also very agreeable to the digestive system, which primarily means that it is not overspiced or too strongly spiced.  Did you know that food prepared in anger is very unhealthy?  When we tune into all these energies, we begin to realize the subtleties of the world.  We chant a simple mantra before each meal and it is this.

Om Tat Sat Krishnar Panamastu .  We chant this three times before each meal, and it is basically a blessing for the food!

In this week’s lesson we take a look at Satya.  This is the second of the Yamas, which we practice to restrain our animal instincts.  Satya means truthfulness, but that is not the best word to use.  It more closely means the ability to see reality or to see things as they actually are.  Truth is subjective.  Our ability to see reality is based on our perceptions (the 5 senses) and our ability to be aware if our perceptions are feeding us correct information.  This is why oftentimes when the police ask 5 witnesses for an account of a car accident, often there are 5 different stories.  We must develop a very keen awareness of our own perception and know when it is lying to us.  We also can understand reality from a reliable witness or from inference.  We must be as careful as these as with perception!

As we look at reality and grow awareness, we move from gross to the subtle to the embodiment.  This is true of all the Yamas and the Niyamas.  To review, Yamas restrain our animal instincts and Niyamas increase our humanness.  When we outright lie, we are not practicing Satya.  This is a gross example.  When we exaggerate in a story or tell a white lie, this is more a subtle example of Satya.  When we have reached a point where we embody our truth or reality, we have reached a beautiful level of Satya and are an example for the world to follow!!!

Enjoy, keep practicing, keep evolving and so much more to come!!  As always if you have any questions, you can email me directly at gary@rippleyoga.com.  I answer all emails!!!!

In Unity and Love,

Gary

Lesson 8 – Hello from Pondicherry!!

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

It is the rainy season here in southern India.  We actually had a small cyclone (hurricane) and since our rooms are open one 3 sides with just some slats in the windows, everything got wet.  Furniture, bedding, clothes, everything.  It took 4 days to dry out and then it continued to rain, but at the least there was no wind.  I am sure that in the past week we have had more volume in rain than Seattle gets in an entire year!  It rains that hard.

In our practice, we are working very diligently on learning how each asana, kriya, mudra and pranayama technique are not just for the physical body, as we are often led to believe in the west.  Most everything we do in Yoga has a mental and emotional aspect as well and these mental and emotional aspects are FAR more important than the physical.  For example, camel pose (ustrasana) is specifically designed to bring awareness to the diaphragm, how it works, strengthening it for expanded lower lung capacity and therefore better breathing.  Expanded lower lung capacity brings more oxygen to the lower extremities of the body and all the organs below the solar plexis which is most of the digestive system and the reproductive organs.  So if we want to know the real anatomy of Yoga, we move away from the muscle and skeletal system and we study, learn and become aware of what we are doing to our organs, glands and nervous system.  That is where the real Yoga occurs in the physical body.  We bend our spine and lift our heart to make this happen and exaggerate this process.  The fact that our spine can open and expand is the third, fourth or fifth level of importance on the list of what Camel Pose does for us.  We are also, in every posture, to attempt to embody in our minds the shape we are making (in this case a camel) to create unity and oneness with every being in the universe.  This is a very beautiful mental aspect of the practice of asana, and how the Rishis and Gurus of old intended the practice 2,500 years ago.  I am sure they were not concerned with how nice of a backbend they could put on Instagram!!

We will be teaching this methodology for each posture and breathing technique at Ripple Yoga this coming spring!!!  The increased awareness will bring happiness and vitality to our practices.

In this week’s lesson we look at a simple lesson related to Dharma and Karma.  Realize deeply, that everything that has happened to us in our life, good and bad, past, present and future, is of our own doing.  Once this is realized, we take a giant step forward on the spiritual path.  When we become Yogic, we are no longer a victim.  Of anything.  The flip side of this is that we now must accept responsibility for everything in our life.  It is a hard lesson for some.  But trust me, once the lesson is realized, the results are beyond imagination.

Enjoy, keep practicing, keep evolving and so much more to come!!  As always if you have any questions, you can email me directly at gary@rippleyoga.com.  I answer all emails!!!!

In Unity and Love,

Gary

Lesson 7 from India

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

At the ashram we have a very balanced life.  We practice hard and we also have plenty of time for rest.  That is the Yogic way, to find balance, because cosmic law of the universe is always seeking balance.  To be a Yogi, we must walk the razors edge, and constantly seek the middle road.  This is not always easy and sometimes requires us to do what is good over what is pleasant.  The two are not always the same.

In our city lives, we more often than not are stressed by our lifestyle.  It is built into our culture that we are overworked, underappreciated, have little time for personal endeavors or hobbies and are constantly bombarded by emotionalism and drama.  This causes a lot of Chitta Vrittis (whirlpools of the subconscious) that drive these physical, emotional and mental imbalances.  We are always pushing, and then when we go to practice yoga, the large majority of us only practice Vinyasa where we push ourselves some more!!!  This practice makes us further out of balance.

At Ripple Yoga, we have 13 classes on the schedule, and 6 of them are Vinyasa.  4 are Hatha and 3 are Restorative for a reason, and that is to offer balance.  Hatha requires more of the use of the mind and Restorative asks us to actually relax, both of which offer balance to your practice.  I highly recommend that you take the opportunity to enjoy the other classes that are on the schedule in order to attain balance in your Yoga practice, which translates to balance in your life!  It may not be the pleasant thing to do because you tell yourself you don’t enjoy those practices, but it is the good thing to do!

In this week’s lesson we touch on Dharma again and the relationship between Dharma and the first two of the 8 limbs of Yoga, Yama and Niyama.  This all relates to the definition of Yoga, which is a conscious evolution.  We are all evolving whether we like it or not, so we may as well do it consciously.  Dharma is our responsibility as human beings and creating stability from within utilizing wisdom, love, compassion and creativity.  Without this Dharma, we run around like chickens without direction.  It is the foundation of our life and practice.  Yama is defined as the restraint of our animal instincts, the lower levels of our brain.  Niyama is the expansion of the human part of our brain, the Neo Cortex.  Evolution cannot occur without Dharma, Yama and Niyama, period.  And therefore, neither can Yoga.

Keep on the lookout for Dharma, Yama and Niyama workshops in the Spring of 2016!!!

Enjoy, keep practicing, keep evolving and so much more to come!!  As always if you have any questions, you can email me directly at gary@rippleyoga.com.  I answer all emails!!!!

In Unity and Love,

Gary

Lesson 6 From Pondicherry, India

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

This week at the Ashram we are completing the Eka Dasi practice of cleansing our nervous system.  It is a Pranayama (breathing) practice.  It has been quite a wild ride personally!!  I have had wicked and intense dreams, subconscious thoughts invading my consciousness from childhood that I hadn’t thought about in 25 plus years, physical manifestations including fever, whole body itching and burning for hours, and 3 days of diarrhea.  They have been practicing this at the Ashram for 47 years and all of my “events” during this practice are quite normal and have happened to many people.  What is important to recognize about any type of cleansing of the mind, body and soul is that sometimes we must sacrifice pain for growth.  The spiritual way and growth usually has some type of pain and/or discomfort associated with it, whether it is physical, mental or emotional.  This is why so few people choose a true spiritual path, especially in our society, which promotes victimization and shirking of any responsibility to self.  When we can blame others and make excuses for our behavior, then we don’t have to grow.  In these last eleven days, I have shed years of childhood issues, cleansed my mind, body and spirit and have grown appreciably because of it.  These subconscious traumas that I have been carrying with me for years have been removed and can no longer govern my behavior.  And believe me, everyone has subconscious trauma that they carry with them, and it governs our behaviors in a very real manner.  And we don’t even realize it!!

It has truly been a blessing to learn this practice and to learn how to teach it.  We will be teaching it at the studio when I return to those who are ready to receive this beautiful gift.

In today’s lesson, we talk about Yoga Marga, the Yogic Path.  This path is a razors edge, and means to walk in the middle.  To understand and be on the Yogic Path, we have to practice the 8 noble concepts.  They are:

  1. Correct Understanding (Pranama) which is understanding the perception of our own senses and when they are telling us the truth.
  2. Correct Aims (Intentions) and channeling the mind. Our motives should be uplifting.
  3. Correct Use of Speech. Think before you speak and realize that your speech indicates your state of evolution.
  4. Correct Conduct. Your behavior and your action speak louder than your words.  Duality between the two must be eliminated.  If you talk the talk, walk the walk.
  5. Correct Mode of Livelihood. This means having a job which aligns with your inner self, preferably where one can give to others.
  6. Correct Effort. This is self-explanatory!!!
  7. Correct Intellectual Activity. Put your mind in action during your downtime with art, music, philosophy, or other hobbies rather than wasting it with television and other activities aimed at devolution.
  8. Correct Contemplation. Take the time to meditate and contemplate your thoughts and actions and also to listen to the best teacher that you have, the teacher within.

If you are practicing yoga, you are already on the path, but we must also realize that everyone has their own path and where they are on it is unique to them.  Nobody should be judged for where they are on their path because we all have to consciously evolve at our own pace.  There is no such thing as “I am further along than so and so….”  Review these noble concepts with your daily life and see how you can maybe improve on yourself.  The rewards are worth the effort!!!

Enjoy, keep practicing, keep evolving and so much more to come!!  As always if you have any questions, you can email me directly at gary@rippleyoga.com.  I answer all emails!!!!

In Unity and Love,

Gary

Lesson 5 From Pondicherry, India

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

This week at the Ashram we are practicing Santosha (Cleanliness) and are undergoing a cleanse combined with a 3 day fast (water only) to cleanse the body.  We are at the same time practicing what is called Eka Dasi, which is a cleansing of the nervous system.  Santosha is the first of the Niyamas in the second limb of Ashtanga Yoga.  Cleanliness means a lot of things, including how we present ourselves, being showered, clean clothes, etc. but it is also important to cleanse our insides, including our mind, body and emotions.

The internal cleanse that we completed on Monday of the Gastrointestinal Tract is called Shanka Prankshala, and it cleans us from mouth to anus.  We drink salt water and move the water through our digestive system with a series of Yoga Kriyas (movements of the body).  As the salt water moves through the digestive tract, it cleanses out all he garbage that we have accumulated.  There is quite a lot of it!  Especially if we eat a lot of processed food, junk food, fast food – so pretty much the Western Diet.  The salt then acts as a healing agent after the fact because the process is rough on the system.  This is why we only drink water for the 3 days of the process so that the system can heal.  On average, it takes 20 glasses of salt water before needing to use the bathroom.  Eventually what happens as the practice continues is that what you put in the mouth comes out exactly the same on the other end.  That is when you are done!  It took me 16 glasses of water to complete the process.  I take impeccable care of my body and have a high level of awareness, so it required me a little less than the average!!

We are simultaneously cleansing the nervous system with a practice called Eka Dasi.  This simply means eleven in Sanskrit because the practice lasts 11 days.  It is a Yantra practice based in numbers and is directly related to the 3 primary nerves in the body, the Ida Nadi on the left side, the Pingala Nadi on the right side and the Sushumna Nadi that runs within the spine.  Our cells carry all of the negative energy of past traumas in our life and previous lifetimes and effect our subconscious, which in turn effects our conscious behavior without us even realizing it.  How can we reach our highest good if we don’t cleanse not just our body but our mind and emotions as well!!!

These are both beautiful practices that I will be bring back to the community!

In this week’s lesson, we discuss Dharma.  This is a big topic.  Dharma means our responsibility as a human being, to the world.  You see, humans are not meant to be takers, of anything.  We are born as pure love and born to give, to help each other as humanity achieve our greatest good.  Societal conditioning causes us to do exactly the opposite of our natural state of being!!  But there is both good Karma and bad Karma, and it swings the pendulum back and forth.  I fear and see that we are in a time where bad Karma appears to be dominant as seen by all the greed, drama and negativity in society.  But what can we do as individuals?  We are only responsible for ourselves.  Our own Dharma.  Be the best that you can be, each day.  Practice Yamas and Niyamas (more on these in the coming weeks).  Be kind, compassionate and loving, even if it is hard to do.  Smile at strangers.  Reach out your hand to help another human without any expectation of anything in return.  Practice helping people anonymously, it is the most beautiful feeling, and practice Yoga, make it a routine in your life as much as you can.  As you continue on your spiritual path (this means as you continue your Yoga practice), your Dharma will become clearer and clearer to you.  Spiritual growth is hard, so don’t give up!  Don’t quit Yoga before the miracle happens!!!!

My Dharma is to carry you this message and many more.  I was born to do this.  I send each and every one of you my love, understanding and compassion as you continue your Yogic journey.

Enjoy, keep practicing, keep evolving and so much more to come!!  As always if you have any questions, you can email me directly at gary@rippleyoga.com.  I answer all emails!!!!

In Unity and Love,

Gary

Lesson 4 From Pondicherry, India

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

We practice a lot of yoga here at the Ashram.  Hatha practice starts at 5:45 am facing the sun as it rises over the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean.  We chant the Suri Namaskar and then practice our Sun Salutations as the sun rises.  The sun is incredibly important to human beings, we are circadian in nature and rhythm.  We practice Hatha for 2 hours and then just after breakfast we practice Pranayama breathing for 2 hours!  But that is not all we practice.  We practice Karma Yoga each and every day, by serving each other and the teachers our meals, taking care of the 6 dogs that live at the Ashram, cleaning and taking care of anything else that we can in our free time.  We do our laundry by hand and hang it in the sun to dry.  Performing Karma Yoga is extremely important and it is one of the paths to enlightenment.  It means simply service to others, without any expectation of something in return.  This is something that is sorely needed in our Western culture where people are so self-seeking.  We are socially conditioned from birth in Western culture to be self-seeking and consumers.  These conditions are not the Yogic way, and we use Yoga to vibrate to a higher level, to shed the social conditioning and evolve into loving, kind and Karmic human beings!!

Performing good Karma allows us to burn our bad Karma from the past, in this lifetime and all our previous lifetimes!  So we have lessons to learn, and Karma to burn.

In this week’s lesson, we look at some of the tools we use to become aware of our body, the first level of conscious awareness in Yoga.  There are 4 definitions of using the physical body to move or make shapes that we use here at the Ashram.  They are Jyotis, Kriyas, Asanas and Hathenas.  Note that in all of these we are always using our breath.

A Jyoti is a movement to warm up the body and is constant movement.  A jumping jack would be considered a Jyoti.  Or, sometimes we sit on the ground and just rotate all of our joints starting with the toes and moving up to the head.  This warms the body for practice.  We will introduce some of these at the studio!!

A Kriya is moving in and out of an Asana with the breath, but not holding the Asana.  Vinyasa practice can be thought of as a series of Kriyas.

An Asana is a shape we make with the body but we hold the shape for more than one breath.  Asana is the third limb of the Ashtanga Yoga system, but in this context it encompasses all physical movement of the body, not just the strict definition.

A Hathena is a forcing posture utilizing the breath to open a part of the body.  Up to this point in time, we have not practiced Hathenas at Ripple Yoga.  They are the quickest route to opening stiff bodies but should not be taken lightly as they are the most challenging.  We will begin practicing Hathenas when I return from India!!

Always remember to be aware of your body as you practice.  It usually starts with awareness of the big muscles and joints and then as you practice more you become aware of the smallest movements.  Having body awareness and understand how we move is a beautiful thing.  It keeps us healthy and strong!!

Enjoy, keep practicing, keep evolving and so much more to come!!  As always if you have any questions, you can email me at gary@rippleyoga.com.

In Unity and Love,

Gary