A Female Yogi for President?

Hey!! Quick read for you here!

Taken from Tulsi Gabbard @ wikipedia

Taken from Tulsi Gabbard @ wikipedia

In this modern age of yoga studios being about as prevalent as Starbucks throughout the cities of America, I’m wondering where all the voting yogis are? The reason I ask this is because for the first time that I can think of, we actually have a yogi running for President here in the United States of America. You heard me right. And, she’s a WOMAN! So, it leaves me a little confused why this isn’t being spoken more of within the yoga community. I mean, after doing a google search, it appeared that as of 2016, there were 36 million people practicing yoga in America. Google also indicated that around 125 million of the American voting population voted in 2016. That being said, if the yoga practitioners of America all voted then, they would’ve accounted for 28.8% of the vote count. That’s a big number. That’s a number that can make a difference.

The woman running for president is Tulsi Gabbard. She is a 38 year old combat veteran who was brought up in the Bhakti Yoga tradition. She currently is the U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district and is a member of the Democratic Party. Does that get any of your attention? It should. She’s smart, she’s able, and she studies the Bhagavad Gita which happens to be one of the most important pieces of wisdom literature in the Yoga tradition. If you’re not familiar with the Bhagavad Gita, get familiar. Don’t want to take my word for it? Take Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Tupac, or even Will Smith’s word then! The Bhagavad Gita has been studied by numerous philosophers over the years and is considered to be one of the most influential epics ever written. It is also what may be considered to be the backbone and foundation of the Bhakti Yoga tradition; otherwise known as the Yoga of Love or Devotion. You know those little things in Yoga called the Yamas and Niyamas (ethical guidelines of what not and what to do), well yea, the last niyama, Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender or devotion to a higher power) is a focal point of the Bhagavad Gita. Fittingly, the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation that was recorded on a battlefield during a huge war between millions of people. The conversation has been analyzed by many and there are multiple interpretations of this epic.

Back to the point here. The Bhagavad Gita is pretty much required reading in any Yoga Teacher Training and as stated previously, is one of the most important parts of Yoga. It teaches one to see what is best for the greater good and how to act within one’s dharma (service or duty). Tulsi Gabbard has studied the Bhagavad Gita her whole life and is a practicing Bhakti Yogi. This book has changed millions of lives and after my quick google search, I found that Bhagavad Gita: As It Is, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, has sold 503,385,383 copies as of 2017. I’m just curious why American Yogis don’t seem to be talking about this at all. Why wouldn’t we want a Bhakti Yogi; someone that leads with selfless service and the greater good in mind? Do we just not know about her? Do we not really know Yoga or it’s purpose? Either way, I just thought I’d write this quick blog and at least get some people thinking. Vote for who you’d like to. I just wanted to inform the yoga community of Tulsi Gabbard, her credentials, and her yoga practice.

I feel very unqualified to be writing on this subject matter. Thank you all for reading and I thank my teachers and their teachers before them for passing this ancient tradition down to me.

Here are a few particularly relevant verses from the Bhagavad Gita: As It Is by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami that I feel would serve right in the mind of the President of the United States of America along with others in powerful positions-

Chapter 2, Verse 35 - The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only, and thus they will consider you a coward.

Photo taken from Tulsi Gabbard @ Wikipedia

Photo taken from Tulsi Gabbard @ Wikipedia

Purport - "Do not think that the great generals like Duryodhana, Karna, and other contemporaries will think that you have left the battlefield out of compassion for your brothers and grandfather. They will think that you have left out of fear for your life. And thus their high estimation of your personality will go to hell."

Layman’s Terms - Don’t let others mistake your kindness for weakness. This verse is spoken to the General as he is contemplating not fighting the evil forces out of compassion because he does not want to fight them.

Chapter 3, Verse 21 - Whatever action is performed by a great person, common people will follow the footsteps. And whatever standards one sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.

Excerpts from Purport- Whatever action is performed by a great person, common people follow in the footsteps. And whatever standards one sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. The king or the executive head of a state, the father/mother and the school teacher are all considered to be natural leaders of the innocent people in general. All such natural leaders have a great responsibility to their dependants; therefore they must be conversant with standard books of moral and spiritual codes.

Layman’s Terms- Lead by example and truth!

Chapter 6, Verse 6 - For one who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, one’s very mind will be the greatest enemy.

Excerpt from Purport - Unless the mind is controlled, the practice of yoga (for show) is simply a waste of time. One who cannot control the mind lives always with the greatest enemy, and thus life and its mission are spoiled. As long as one's mind remains an unconquered enemy, one has to serve the dictations of lust, anger, avarice, illusion, etc.

Layman’s Terms - We must control our minds as it will constantly be attracted to sense gratification and to the false ego (what we relate ourselves as), but not always what is best for us or the greater good.

Again, thank you all for reading and I hope you were able to gain something positive from this.

What a cool surprise!

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 10.22.11 AM.png

Hi Everyone!

I know, I know, awfully quick too be writing another blog but my new friends that come to chair yoga were asking if there was a way to write a testimonial or review. I’m not the most website savvy here so I figured I would write a blog and let them comment on it :) Kind of a testimonial, right?

So, anyway, for those that don’t know much about us here at Sukha Yoga, we’ve recently moved to a new location. The new location moves us from the third floor of hustle and bustle Church St, to the first floor of a residential building on College St. (230 College St. Come visit!!!) directly across from the library. There are pros and cons, of course. Our primary reason for moving was to be able to offer a full schedule of classes. So now, we have a nice full schedule with a few more teachers too :) Another pro of the new location is that it’s pretty darn big so we were able to add a small retail shop to offer yoga accessories, ayurvedic supplies and remedies, great wisdom literature and books, and of course, plenty of clothes and jewelry. The store was totally unanticipated and turned out to be a pretty cool bonus. In addition to the store, we were also able to add a massage therapy / treatment room in the back! Boom, another bonus! I’m sure you want to hear some cons too but I’m not feeding into that ;) Why waste anyone’s time with anything negative…? Back to these pros! Over the course of the first month in operation, we were very fortunate to meet many of the people that live in the residential part of the building and make new friendships. If you know me at all (Noah here), you know I like to talk to people and make friends. In making friends with our new neighbors, we’d often get into “who can do yoga talks” and things like that. Some of the folks in the building have been on the planet a little longer than me and they wanted to try yoga! How cool?!? We figured out a time that would work for them and put a donation based chair yoga class on the schedule. I really wanted to make class special for them. As with a lot of yoga in America, what they had seen on the internet was mostly physical postures. Even the internet chair yoga heavily emphasizes the postures/movements and doesn’t seem to integrate the roots of the yoga practice into it. My logic is, they’re all sitting here anyways, why not have a satsang (spiritual discourse or sacred gathering) with some breathing and movement?? That’s how these classes have shaped to be. We start with some chanting, we have some discussion / story telling, we do some vinyasa (vinyasa : linking breath to movement), and we connect to spirit. What a beautiful way to practice Bhakti Yoga. Who would have thought this class would be so sweet?! I feel so fortunate to get to spend some time with these folks and have these deep, meaningful conversations. I am learning so much from their enthusiasm and character. I really appreciate their openness to trying something totally new and quite foreign.

So basically, this is a blog dedicated to thanking our new friends and a small way to show my appreciation for their loving kindness. Right now we are just doing this once a week but maybe this will grow into something bigger. The more the merrier and if you know of any other folks that might want to add some chair yoga / uplifting conversation into their life, we’d love to get more people included. Thanks for reading! Comments and suggestions appreciated below!!

In service, Noah

What are we doing?!?!

IMG_0334.JPG

Disclaimer - I’m writing this quickly. I’m not editing it. I’m not a writer by any means. Just hoping to be able to help some people in some way.

Hey! Noah here! I, like I'd imagine many of you, got involved with the yoga practice strictly for the physical benefits. I wasn't looking for relaxation, I wasn't trying to fix an injury, I wasn't looking for enlightenment, I wasn't trying to calm the mind or anything like that. I literally only went to a yoga class because my wife, Cilla, is a teacher (biased opinion - a great teacher, hehe) and asked me to go to class pretty much daily until I finally went on the promise that it would be a good work out. I enjoyed the first class and continued to attend classes. We practiced at a very physical, asana based, studio. It was great. I worked it into my already jammed up schedule as another workout and continued with all “normal” daily activities. These daily activities ranged from work, eating whatever food was closest (healthy most of the time), drinking, and pretty much most stuff that makes us “happy”.

Being that Cilla was permitted to have me practice during all the classes she taught, I was able to practice 4 times a week at the studio. This led to my practicing at home daily as well. Basically, a lot of practice. One day during savasana (final pose where you just lie there -corpse pose) after a thorough body scan, something flickered to me. Not sure what. It did make me start researching yoga. Up until that point, I had only looked at it as a physical activity. Upon searching Audible (unsolicited plug, audio books are great and I encourage listening to as much as you can), I ordered Light on Life by BKS Iyengar and The Lost Teachings of Yoga by Georg Feuerstein. These books opened up a ton of doors to the yoga practice behind the asana and the intention. I started to see that yoga was more than just a physical practice but also a lifestyle and way of living. This way of living had me more tolerant, kinder, and overall, a better person but I still was unknowingly lacking something…

Being that I was still very much into the physical practice, I was attracted to a handstand workshop by a teacher I had seen on youtube that was happening within a few hours of me. I’m always up for a nice drive (time for audible listening, hehe) so I hit the road. I’m generally late to things so I walked into the class a few minutes late. The place was packed. Two guys in front of me made space for me upon seeing me looking around aimlessly. Sweet. So, I rolled out my mat and sat down ready for some handstands. Well, the teacher then informed everyone that we’d be chanting to start class… Great… I thought I was in the wrong place and was tempted to leave. But I stuck it out and the chant struck a place in my heart that I didn’t quite was possible. I had no idea that hearing and participating in this call and response form of chanting with my now teacher, Raghunath, would open my heart in the way that it did. The class following the chant was invigorating, filled with handstands, tough asana and ended with another much louder group chant at the end. I ended up kind of following Raghunath around the New England area and Wanderlust Festival like a stray puppy looking for food. That food being more of the spiritual teachings and Kirtan (call and response chanting) that he incorporated into all of his classes and workshops. There were always Bhagavad Gita references, yoga philosophy applicable to daily life, and lots of “I’m not the body, I’m not the mind, I’m something divine”. This is what I was missing. This led to my wife and I going to India and taking his Bhakti Cultural Immersion Yoga Teacher Training to feed our now spiritually hungry minds.

It seems that a lot of yoga in the west has worked spirituality out of it. Yoga is often looked at as “to yolk”. This has an open translation here and looks to often be associated with mind and body. What if one looked at it as yoking the spirit with G-d or one’s higher power? Upon listening to many of these books referred to, you’ll hear this reference made. Even the last of the niyamas, Ishvara Pranidhana - surrender to G-d, is often left out or interpreted in some other “make this comfortable” for people way. I guess I’m just saying that we all have our reasons for why we do this. It very much starts with some form of physical need for a lot of us. Maybe we want to heal an injury. Maybe we want to get a workout in. Maybe it’s self care, building confidence or getting over trauma. There are lots of reasons but as I’ve learned, the yoga practice was designed to connect us with G-d. In this connecting with G-d, you’ll work on seeing the divinity in all living beings and the planet itself. The yoga practice is also a great way to prepare oneself for the transitions in life. These transitions may range from job changes, school graduations, job firings/promotions, birthdays, accidents and even death. How we handle these inevitable transitions/ups and downs in life can very well determine the quality of life that we live. Embracing the bad along with the good. The yoga has very much taught me to do all of this.

It seems we live in a day and age where society isn’t as enthusiastic about religion or spirituality in general. I get it. I wasn’t very interested in Hebrew School growing up. It didn’t really resonate with me. Maybe it was just my being young. Maybe not. Now with the spirituality that has been cultivated through my teachers and the yoga practice, I can appreciate all religions and forms of spirituality. I work hard to see the good in people even when it seems like a test or bad joke. I guess this is now the reason why I practice yoga. As a yoga teacher, I’ve been told that one of the most important and hardest jobs is to remind everyone that they are spirit souls. If you made it to the end here, I’ll tell you now just that - You are a spirit soul. Be kind to one another. Do your best to see the love and divinity in every being. Take care of yourself and those that you can. Do something positive with the limited amount of control we have with our own lives. Comments appreciated. I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

Happy New Year! New Schedule, more classes, and my morning ramblings...

Good morning and Happy New Year! We're very excited to have added new classes to our 2017 winter schedule.  We are still offering the $65 unlimited monthly passes for all regularly scheduled classes. 

As B. K. S. Iyengar said - “Penetration of our mind is our goal, but in the beginning to set things in motion, there is no substitute for sweat.”  We want you all to be able to practice as much as you can and get a good sweat on.  Maybe we'll even penetrate the mind at some point ;)  No expectations though... 

One quick little thought I wanted to bring up - One must not confuse living in the present moment or the "Now" with shear selfishness.  With all the YOLO, "living in the now", seizing the opportunity, and being in the present moment stuff that comes up around this time of year, we must remember that's not an excuse to just be greedy and out for oneself.   Yes, we should be present, seize opportunities, "live in the now", whatever we want to call it, but it should never harm someone else.  When we make a decision to do something, we should look at how it effects others.  This can be done on a worldly level or a smaller, local level - maybe your work associates, friends, kids, family, partner...   If we're not proud of the decision and wouldn't want every one to know about it, chances are, it's a bad one.  If we need to contemplate whether it's the right thing to do, it may very well not be.  If it benefits us or feeds our desires but could very well hurt others, do we still consider this being present and "living in the now"?  Maybe so, but what kind of "now" is it?   And furthermore, if we're not telling everyone the whole story, then that story is a lie. 

Those are my quick ramblings for the morning.  Thoughts anyone? Who's excited to make some good for everyone decisions this year?!? 

Noah

    

Ram Dass lecture I just started listening to this morning!

Just started listening to this Ram Dass lecture this morning.  He gave it in 1974 after he had returned to America from India.  So far, really good.  I love listening to his experiences.  He says to read the Bhagavad Gita and put yourself in Arjuna, Krishna, Sanjaya, and Dhritarashta's shoes each time that you read it.  Good advice.  I've listened to the Gita quite a few times but haven't ever thought of doing that.  So it looks like I've got to read it another 4 times at minimal, haha.   I'll bet that adds some new understanding.  

Have any of you read or listened to any Ram Dass? What are you reading now? I attached a quick video for you to check out too.  Thoughts? Have an awesome morning!  

Also, it was suggested that we start doing a Sukha Yoga book club.  I'm down for that and would love to listen to everyone's thoughts.  I say we wait until summer and do it outside somewhere. Sound good?  

Very thankful for youtube and the internet and water and heat and...

Hey everyone!  Hope you're all having a great end of the year! Blog post #2!  For those that don't know me, I get up fairly early in the morning daily.  Doesn't matter if it's a weekend or vacation, I'm up.  Generally speaking, I'm up and alone... Something that I like to do during this quiet time is  listen to some sort of audio book, lecture, or interview that will set my tone for the day.  I've attached a short interview / talk with BKS Iyengar that I listened to this morning.  He covers a lot of different subjects.  He starts with talking about yoga and exercise, and at what point, one's exercise (asana, posture) becomes yoga.  He speaks of getting your mind to introduce the intelligence to various parts of the body.  "I'm missing the message, please go and guide" This is how he describes the intelligence reaching the different pores on the skin of the body.  As this intelligence reaches these pores, this is the meditative posture. He says until then, it is not Yoga.  I find this humbling and inspiring.   BKS Iyengar continues to answer questions for the next 28 minutes of this clip.  He covers all types of different subjects from Bhakti Yoga to art to performing the asana in a way that will interest those you are presenting to.  It's all amazing.  Take a listen / watch and tell me what you think.  

I find that listening to this type of stuff in the morning has really helped to grow my yoga practice or should I say life?  How are we bringing our yoga practice into our life?  How are we living yoga off the mat?   Feel free to comment and get some discussion going here :)

I'm not proof reading this so disregard grammar or spelling errors.  I want to get some discussion going here and I know if I wait to post, it won't happen so I write when I have the time.   This is almost like a public journal which is very interesting to me because I don't even keep a private journal or write anything for that matter, haha. 

Noah   

Our first blog post... Dylan Werner!!!

This is my first blog post so it's going to be quick.  Just trying to get the hang of it.  Blog shall be themed around Dylan Werner because that's a big deal! If you don't know who Dylan is, check out his website here - dylanwerneryoga.com.  Cilla and I took a great handstand workshop with him at Wanderlust earlier this year and hung out with him a lot of the weekend.  He's a solid dude and really lives the practice.  It's cool that he's working us into his schedule as Dylan is literally teaching all over the world all the time.  Another cool aspect of his trip to Vermont is that he's going to be fresh off of a super cultural experience of his own.  I'll let him talk about that with us when he's here.  Don't want to spoil it!

Anyhow, first blog post... how'd I do?!?   I plan to keep doing this and am kind of excited about it ;)