Lesson 16 – Mauna

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

I can’t believe that in less than 60 days I will be back in Seattle.  I am looking forward to reconnecting with everyone and meeting all the new students at Ripple Yoga.  I recently invented a practice here at the ashram which I am calling “Tapas Tuesday”.  Tapas is a Niyama which means discipline, or can be translated as “to walk through the fire.”  There are people here in India who stand in tree pose for a year as part of their Tapas (not recommended)!

On Tapas Tuesday, from last Tuesday to the end of the program, I am practicing Mauna and fasting on Tuesdays.  Both are beautiful practices that help us in so many ways.

Mauna means silence, and more specifically no communication, verbal or otherwise.  It is an opportunity to look within.  It is an opportunity to realize that most of what we say is not really that important and doesn’t need to be said.  Mauna offends and subjugates our ego.  When we subjugate our ego, we work on overcoming it as a Klesha bringing us one step closer to Moksha.  Remember that Kleshas are inherent characteristics that are installed in us at birth and reside in the animal part of the brain.  They are Ignorance, Ego, Likes, Dislikes and Survival Instinct.  We must overcome all of these and our Yoga practice works towards that goal.

Fasting is simply not eating.  We can go about 21 days without eating and survive, so long as we have water.  We can actually live our life unaffected because the sun and our breath provide all the energy we need, if we know how to access it.  There are people in India called Breatharians who don’t eat.  Ever.  Fasting helps us to overcome our survival instinct.  We should realize that anytime we work on overcoming our Kleshas, we are moving from reactionary behavior from the animal part of our brain to responsive behavior from the human part of our brain, and advancing our evolution.

Enjoy, keep practicing, continue 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,

Yogi Gary

Lesson 15 – Pranayama

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

We just measured our lungs here at the ashram.  We do this to check in on the effectiveness of the Pranayama practice on expanding lung capacity.  We measure all 3 sections of the lungs; lower, middle and high using a tailor’s tape measure and measuring the diameter between the exhale and the inhale.  All 3 sections of my lungs were 4” when fully expanded from where they were fully deflated.  When I arrived here, they were at 2”, which means that I have doubled my lung capacity in 4 months.

Why would we want to expand our lung capacity?

A great question, thank you for asking!  Most of us, and that means all of us, breath just enough to stay alive.  Even people who play sports and exercise regularly.  Before coming to India, I was playing 3-4 hockey games a week which is a high level cardio sport.  I was surprised to learn that my lungs were just a half inch over the average shallow breather, which is about an inch for women and an inch and a half for men.  Shallow breathing is an issue and awareness and control of the breath resolves these issues, through the practice of Pranayama.

Expanded lung capacity reduces the risk of almost ALL human diseases.  Diseases start with what is called acidosis which is too much carbon dioxide in the blood, which is a poison.  As we age, lung capacity shrinks, removing the body’s ability to remove carbon dioxide from the bloodstream.  When we expand our lung capacity, the effectiveness of our Asana practice (Vinyasa, Hatha, Any) skyrockets.   Without proper breathing in Asana, it is the same as cleaning our apartments or houses with a toothbrush.  Breathing removes 80%+ of the toxins from our body so the ability to remove toxins from our body also skyrockets.  Breathing correctly also calms the mind and emotions, and cleanses the nervous system.

Pranayama is coming as a practice to Ripple Yoga in April, look for it!  We will use different Asanas in this practice to open the lungs and Pranayama techniques that I have learned here to bring awareness to your lungs and to expand their capacity.  Pranayama may not look good on Facebook, but this is where the real Yoga practice begins.  This is the first step in becoming a REAL Yogi..

Enjoy, keep practicing, continue 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,

Yogi Gary

Lesson 14 from India

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

The week of the Yoga Festival is over and we are back to our regular Sadhana.  We have been studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali for almost 8 weeks now, going through each Sutra with a deep discussion, relating it to modern life and how it relates to our overall practice and the evolution of self.  It is such a beautiful learning process and I am so looking forward to sharing all this knowledge of how we can become the best “us” we can be.  Yoga teaches us to move towards unity, to move against the current grain of our societal conditioning towards separation and duality.

This week’s lesson is on that simple message of Unity, and Yoga’s belief is Unity.  To be a Yogi is to live a Yogic life and to strive for balance and unity in all things.  Being a Yogi is not the modern photo of a person with a yoga mat strapped to their back walking down a busy city street.  It is what we are inside, and how we behave in this world.  It is how we live our life.  We are defined as human beings by our thoughts, words and actions; and they should be consistent from one to the next.  In Unity, we see the divine in all beings, in all things.  We don’t see “fat”, “black”, “catholic”, “democrat”, or even “American”.  We see a divine human being and transcend our social labeling caused by our conditioning of duality.  We are born seeing Unity, and taught to see duality.  Yoga helps us “unlearn” duality and we transcend labels.

Ponder this concept as you walk down the street and see people passing you.  Every person you see, from the street corner panhandler, to the striking woman in high heels, to the bus driver, to the child being led by his Mother’s hand; is the same.  We are all one.  This is a universal truth.  Tat Sat.

Enjoy, keep practicing, continue 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 13 – International Yoga Festival

Namaste from Pondicherry, India

Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!

Happy New Year!  I hope that everyone has a happy and prosperous 2016 filled with joy, serenity and peace.  We started the New Year off with the 22nd Annual International Yoga Festival sponsored by the Pondicherry Board of Tourism.  All of the students from the ashram were given a speech to make at the Festival!!  Some of us were pretty nervous, but I was OK – I have a lot of experience speaking in front of people!  My talk was on Yoga for Stress Management and I hope to make the video available to the community soon.  We need to upload it to Youtube.

The primary cause of stress in our lives can be found by looking in the mirror.  Harsh lesson right?  But it is reality, or Satya.  For those who are interested in the anatomy, it works like this.  We perceive things in our lives through our senses which is then filtered into the brain through any ignorance that we have and our ego.  Again, ignorance does not mean stupid, it means we have yet to gain knowledge.  This signal of perception goes into our brain into the emotional center, which is the limbic system.  This system surrounds the hypothalamus gland.  If we perceive an external factor as stressful, such as our job, our boss, our kids, etc. the emotional part of the brain bombards the hypothalamus with this message.  That gland then releases hormones into the body causes the physical, or psycho-somatic reactions to stress in the body.

Once we understand that stress and the results of it are self-induced by our misperception of the world, we can overcome stress and anxiety by overcoming self.  We have to recognize that we are responsible for our lives, which means we are responsible for our thoughts, emotions and actions.  There is never anyone to blame for anything.  Here at the ashram we call Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga the “No Excuse Yoga”.  To overcome perception is to overcome self, and THIS is exactly what Yoga does for us.  Probably not the type of Yoga that you have ever practiced, but it is now the Yoga that we teach at Ripple.  Real Yoga, Authentic Yoga.  This is what I am bringing back to all of you in the lovely community and what has already begun integrating into the teaching through the current teaching team.  Check out the Foundation Classes, my friends.

On a side note, I am an example of stress and anxiety gone amok.  In my 30s, I was so stressed out from work that I was hospitalized with heart palpitations, sweats and shortness of breath from hyper ventilation.  I was prescribed Paxil and Xanax, rather than treating the underlying cause.  I wasted 5 years taking those drugs and countless hours in counseling when all I needed was self-realization and the practice of Yama and Niyama, which I have been practicing now for 7 happy years.

Many of you have asked, especially new students, why I look so happy in all the photos.  It is because I am happy, and it is because I practice Yama and Niyama!!

Yoga is Unity, We are One, see you in less than 80 days!!!!

Enjoy, keep practicing, continue 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