You are currently browsing leena’s articles.

Sequencing with Noah Maze- Toronto, June 2011

Three components of an Anusara class:

–       heart based theme

–       UPAs

–       Asana sequence

–       You can plan a class starting from any of those three points

–       “teaching Anusara is a creative process. Method always requires my creativity”

Three types of students (from Christina Sell)

–       mystics- get message and energy of room. Theme/heart/iccha

–       egineers- details of pose and alignment (bring their protractors to classJ) . UPAs/mind/jnana

–       athletes- how much did a sweat, did I get deeper/further than before. Asana sequence/action/ kriya

 

Important questions guide our teaching:

–       what am I trying to accomplish in this class/practice?

  • Trying changing your intention. Try peak pose in set amt of time- can I get there and it feels good?

–       What level class? What syllabus are we working with?

–       Who is my audience? What do they already know?

–       What are the knowns and unknowns?

–       In what pose does this (action/principle/quality/sequence) come easily? For free?

–       In what poses, when I get _____(the quality/action/principle)__ does a break through occur? Ie, the pose deepens, heart opens, pain alleviated, something new becomes possible that wasn’t possible before.

–       In what pose does the UPA/key action solve a common misalignment? Pay off…

 

Heart based theme:

–       philosophical teaching, mythic, life experience, stories, images, poems…

–       change tone in voice to emphasize heart qual

–       ex) patience- longer holds (use timer) of familiar poses. UPA- OTG, pausing, in pause, softening…

Planning a class using the there diff components of ME as starting point…

Three components are:

  1. hug- skin to musc, musc to bone
  2. midline
  3. periphery to core

in what pose does #1 HUG come easily?  Ex- hug- warrior 2 pose creates the action automatically, the front thigh has to hug when knees are bent. Or Utkatasana. Vs Tadasana you can do the pose w/out ME.

Ex) in bridge or Urdhva you have to work legs, but in cobra less so. So do action in bridge and then go back to cobra and tell students to remember how they worked legs in bridge, now do it in cobra.

 

In what pose does #2 MIDLINE come easily? Ex- block btwn thighs, Prasarita with blanket under one foot, tree, Garudasana, dog w/one hand off (unplug one part of the foundation). Pay off:: Bakasana, urdva one leg off…

In what poses does #3 P> C come easily? Ardha Chandrasana, vira 3, UHPadang, crescent warrior, Tadasana leg lifted pull foot into hip, partner arm press, lunge

Pay off: hand balancing, headed bends (for flexible people). Note: ME- floor postures- flexible students tend to flop. So teach ME in standing poses and then the pay off is floor poses.

*poses where it comes easily should be poses where you can visually measure if the students are getting the actions

sequence:

opening/centering

warm up: 1, 2, 3,

ME #1 Hug

3 poses

 

ME #2 midline; 3 poses

ME #3 p>c : 3 poses

Pay off poses: 3 poses

pinnacle(s)

cool down

symmetrical pose

Savasana

blessing

 

Sequencing to a peak pose: Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

 

Key difficulties: (physical and psychological)- balance, back heel to floor, deep twist, flexion of front hip, arms and shoulders, sq hips, breathing- anxious, agitated, can’t get deep breath, panic

Key actions: midline (for balance), kidney loop (rounded back), shoulder loop (expanding spiral of bottom arm)

What poses teach key actions: twists w/rounded back- concave spine

What parts of the body need to be prepared (anatomy of pose/component parts): spine (twists), low body strong, hip flexion

–       hip- vira 1, Parsvakonasana, Anjaney, Parsva Utkatasana, pigeon, lunge variations, agni stombasana w/twist, pashasana prep

–       psychological- teach in poses where they’re not in the fire- breath into back body- for example child’s pose. Theme with it- trust that even in breath is short, shallow, labored, invoke a sense of trust and faith…

centering

warm-ups

1 cat/cow

lunge

lunge twist

key action #1 midline

garudasna

dog twist

Trikonasana

Key action #2 kidney loop

Balasana

Malasana

Pigeon

Key action #3 twists

Malasana twist

Pigeon twist

Marichyasana 1

Pinnacle: Parivrtta Parsvakonasana in stages…

Knee down, hands in prayer

Knee up hangs in prayer

Full pose with arm outside foot (can refine the arm spirals depending on group…)

 

Cool down

Setubandha

Supta padang

Purvottanasana on elbows

 

Questions:

Shoulder stand and headstand

–       HS is rajasic

–       SS is sattvic

–       Is it agitating to the nervous system to do HS without SS? “what’s more agitating is rigid adherence to dogma” – john friend

–       Attitude is first

–       If finding it hard to have time for SS, you need to create a culture of it- so students know how to set up props quickly. If you don’t have enough props for everyone, then you can have half the room do Shoulderstand and half do supported setubandha at the wall.

Addressing fear- psychological challenges to poses

–       clear sequencing sets students up for success so they learn component parts gradually. Gives them psychological and physical tools to go deeper

–       “I’m a professional 🙂 … I’ve done this before, will you let me help you?”

backbends at night?

– ge to peak pose earlier and have a longer closing sequence. Give suggestions for people to do at home if they’re jazzed up (like legs up the wall).

Courage to Feel and be Vulnerable

Talk about partner yoga workshop– some couples neither partner had done yoga, but most one was regular yogi, and other partner had never done yoga. And I was thinking of how courageous it was for the non-yogi partner to be willing to try something so new with their partner… Courageous, because it can be really vulnerable to do something that your partner is the “expert” at, and you are totally new at…. Saw that courageous vulnerability as an expression of love.

TED Talk, Brene Brown- Social worker focuses on importance of vulnerability in order for us to feel human and alive, and fulfilled. In her research, she found that she could basically divide people into 2 groups:

  • There were people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it.
  • there was one variable that separated them- was the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. She calls these people- whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness.

And these whole-hearted people had one other thing in common: They fully embraced vulnerability. “They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they talk about it being excruciating — They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.”

Contextualize/universalize: I love this so much, this is one of the most important things we can gain from our yoga practice. Our tantric philosophy invites us to embrace the full spectrum of life- the courage to feel the full spectrum of physical sensations and emotion, the courage to love ourselves and others despite our imperfectness. To really experience life fully and express ourselves fully > courage&vulnerability.

Context Statements:

–       Courage- from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

–       yoga invites us to express ourselves fully, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be discrete about how we express ourselves, like you don’t express yourself the same way at home and at work, but in all cases, can we at least be honest with ourselves and have the courage to be imperfect?

–       We must learn to be compassion to be kind to ourselves first, because we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly

–       It takes courage to let go of who we should be in order to be who were are. But this is necessary for real connection.

–       What makes us vulnerable is also what makes us beautiful.

–       We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability> but you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the stuff I don’t’ want to feel: here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment, I don’t want to feel these.

–       When we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

–       numb through addictions, through striving to be perfect, through trying to make our kids perfect, through believing in certainties, through blame.

-But there’s another way: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of difficulty, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

Courage to be vulnerable- Open Lvl Class

IS/OS- action of the thighs and tailbone + SL

Strong action in the legs and low back gives us the support to open our hearts with courage.

4 SN for Sarah – with twists and back bends

standing poses and quad stretches

child’s pose

Handstand- demo tailbone action

King author’s pose

Abs > bridge> abs> bridge/urdva

Camel pose

camel assist

camel

child’s pose

standing forward bends

seated twists and forward bends

Savasana

 

So, I’ll start with this: a couple years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event. And she called, and she said, “I’m really struggling with how to write about you on the little flier.” And I thought, “Well, what’s the struggle?” And she said, “Well, I saw you speak, and I’m going to call you a researcher, I think, but I’m afraid if I call you a researcher no one will come, because they’ll think you’re boring and irrelevant.” (Laughter) Okay. And she said, “But the thing I liked about your talk is you’re a storyteller. So I think what I’ll do is just call you a storyteller.” And of course the academic, insecure part of me was like, “You’re going to call me a what?” And she said, “I’m going to call you a storyteller.” And I was like, “Why not magic pixie?” (Laughter) I was like, “Let me think about this for a second.” I tried to call deep on my courage. And I thought, I am a storyteller. I’m a qualitative researcher. I collect stories; that’s what I do. And maybe stories are just data with a soul. And maybe I’m just a storyteller. And so I said, “You know what? Why don’t you just say I’m a researcher-storyteller.” And she went, “Haha. There’s no such thing.” (Laughter) So I’m a researcher-storyteller, and I’m going to talk to you today — we’re talking about expanding perception — and so I want to talk to you and tell some stories about a piece of my research that fundamentally expanded my perception and really actually changed the way that I live and love and work and parent.

And this is where my story starts. When I was a young researcher, doctoral student, my first year I had a research professor who said to us, “Here’s the thing, if you cannot measure it, it does not exist.” And I thought he was just sweet-talking me. I was like, “Really?” and he was like, “Absolutely.” And so you have to understand that I have a bachelor’s in social work, a master’s in social work, and I was getting my Ph.D. in social work, so my entire academic career was surrounded by people who kind of believed the life’s messy, love it. And I’m more of the, life’s messy, clean it up, organize it and put it into a bento box. (Laughter) And so to think that I had found my way, to found a career that takes me — really, one of the big sayings in social work is lean into the discomfort of the work. And I’m like, knock discomfort upside the head and move it over and get all A’s. That was my mantra. So I was very excited about this. And so I thought, you know what, this is the career for me, because I am interested in some messy topics. But I want to be able to make them not messy. I want to understand them. I want to hack into these things I know are important and lay the code out for everyone to see.

So where I started was with connection. Because, by the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realize is that connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter whether you talk to people who work in social justice and mental health and abuse and neglect, what we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is — neurobiologically that’s how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here. So I thought, you know what, I’m going to start with connection. Well you know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things you do really awesome, and one thing — an opportunity for growth? (Laughter) And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth, right. Well apparently this is the way my work went as well, because, when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.

So very quickly — really about six weeks into this research — I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn’t understand or had never seen. And so I pulled back out of the research and thought, I need to figure out what this is. And it turned out to be shame. And shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection. The things I can tell you about it: it’s universal; we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” — which we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.” The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability, this idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

And you know how I feel about vulnerability. I hate vulnerability. And so I thought, this is my chance to beat it back with my measuring stick. I’m going in, I’m going to figure this stuff out, I’m going to spend a year, I’m going to totally deconstruct shame, I’m going to understand how vulnerability works, and I’m going to outsmart it. So I was ready, and I was really excited. As you know, it’s not going to turn out well. (Laughter) You know this. So I could tell you a lot about shame, but I’d have to borrow everyone else’s time. But here’s what I can tell you that it boils down to — and this may be one of the most important things that I’ve ever learned in the decade of doing this research. My one year turned into six years, thousands of stories, hundreds of long interviews, focus groups. At one point people were sending me journal pages and sending me their stories — thousands of pieces of data in six years. And I kind of got a handle on it.

I kind of understood, this is what shame is, this is how it works. I wrote a book, I published a theory, but something was not okay — and what it was is that, if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness — that’s what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness — they have a strong sense of love and belonging — and folks who struggle for it, and folks who are always wondering if their good enough. There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better. So what I did is I took all of the interviews where I saw worthiness, where I saw people living that way, and just looked at those.

What do these people have in common? I have a slight office supply addiction, but that’s another talk. So I had a manila folder, and I had a Sharpie, and I was like, what am I going to call this research? And the first words that came to my mind were whole-hearted. These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness. So I wrote at the top of the manila folder, and I started looking at the data. In fact, I did it first in a four-day very intensive data analysis, where I went back, pulled these interviews, pulled the stories, pulled the incidents. What’s the theme? What’s the pattern? My husband left town with the kids because I always go into this Jackson Pollock crazy thing, where I’m just like writing and in my researcher mode. And so here’s what I found. What they had in common was a sense of courage. And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute. Courage, the original definition of courage when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this. They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.

I personally thought it was betrayal. I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research — the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena, for the explicit reason to control and predict. And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown — (Laughter) — which actually looked more like this. (Laughter) And it did. I called it a breakdown, my therapist calls it a spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening sounds better than breakdown, but I assure you it was a breakdown. And I had to put my data away and go find a therapist. Let me tell you something: you know who you are when you call your friends and say, “I think I need to see somebody. Do you have any recommendations?” Because about five of my friends were like, “Wooo. I wouldn’t want to be your therapist.” (Laughter) I was like, “What does that mean?” And they’re like, “I’m just saying, you know. Don’t bring your measuring stick.” I was like, “Okay.”

So I found a therapist. My first meeting with her, Diana — I brought in my list of the way the whole-hearted live, and I sat down. And she said, “How are you?” And I said, “I’m great. I’m okay.” She said, “What’s going on?” And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good. (Laughter) And so I said, “Here’s the thing, I’m struggling.” And she said, “What’s the struggle?” And I said, “Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help.” And I said, “But here’s the thing, no family stuff, no childhood shit.” (Laughter) “I just need some strategies.” (Laughter) (Applause) Thank you. So she goes like this. (Laughter) And then I said, “It’s bad, right?” And she said, “It’s neither good, nor bad.” (Laughter) “It just is what it is.” And I said, “Oh my God, this is going to suck.”

(Laughter)

And it did, and it didn’t. And it took about a year. And you know how there are people that, when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they surrender and walk into it. A: that’s not me, and B: I don’t even hang out with people like that. (Laughter) For me, it was a yearlong street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.

And so then I went back into the research and spent the next couple of years really trying to understand what they, the whole-hearted, what choices they were making, and what are we doing with vulnerability. Why do we struggle with it so much? Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability? No. So this is what I learned. We numb vulnerability — when we’re waiting for the call. It was funny, I sent something out on Twitter and on Facebook that says, “How would you define vulnerability? What makes you feel vulnerable?” And within an hour and a half, I had a 150 responses. Because I wanted to know what’s out there. Having to ask my husband for help, because I’m sick, and we’re newly married; initiating sex with my husband; initiating sex with my wife; being turned down; asking someone out; waiting for the doctor to call back; getting laid-off; laying-off people — this is the world we live in. We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability.

And I think there’s evidence — and it’s not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it’s a huge cause — we are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history. The problem is — and I learned this from the research — that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment, I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. (Laughter) I don’t want to feel these. And I know that’s knowing laughter. I hack into your lives for a living. God. (Laughter) You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb. And it doesn’t just have to be addiction. The other thing we do is we make everything that’s uncertain certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. I’m right, you’re wrong. Shut up. That’s it. Just certain. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like today. There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame. You know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort. We perfect. If there’s anyone who wants their life to look like this it would be me, but it doesn’t work. Because what we do is we take fat from our butts and put it in our cheeks. (Laughter) Which just, I hope in a hundred years, people will look back and go, “Wow.”

(Laughter)

And we perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not so say, “Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade.” That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today. We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that corporate — whether it’s a bailout, an oil spill, a recall — we pretend like what we’re doing doesn’t have a huge impact on other people. I would say to companies, this is not our first rodeo people. We just need you to be authentic and real and say, “We’re sorry. We’ll fix it.”

But there’s another way, and I leave you with this. This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place I believe that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

That’s all I have. Thank you.

(Applause)

 

Personalize: talk about podcast On Being about Rumi (http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2010/rumi/)

Rumi- Sufi poet from the 13th century, discussing different themes in his poetry:

I think one idea or major concept that the Sufi tradition and Rumi in particular have to contribute to our current culture is value in perplexity, the fact that not knowing is a source of learning, something that propels us forward into finding out. Longing, perplexity, these are all very valuable things. We want to unravel things and get answers and be done, but as far as he’s concerned, it’s a continual process. We can’t be done, and that’s good.

Contextualize:

So much of our cultural focus is about completing and arriving at an end. Dieting until you attain the perfect weight, finishing the race, getting the degree, the job, the relationship and house…  Yoga, like the themes of Rumi’s poetry is a practice that is never complete. I’ve been practicing for over a decade and still feel that I’m in so many ways just a novice, just beginning.

Universalize: We can choose to see our incompleteness/unknowns/perplexity as lack OR we can use it as fuel for our longing to connect more and more with our deepest essence and live our best life. Our philosophy affirms the old cliché that life is about the journey, not the destination. In the heart-space can we live the truth of this cliché?

Even in our longing, we are already full. Purnatva in Sanskrit means fullness, it’s where we get the root for English perfect. Purnatva- One of the attributes of the divine- that the divine is full and lacking nothing. When hold the paradox of our inherent perfection and our longing to be even more full alongside one another, this creates magical momentum for our practice of awakening.

Context Statements:

–     the separation and the longing themselves are a kind of arrival.

–     destination is the journey itself. So there isn’t a point where you say, ‘OK, I’m here, I’ve reached, I’m done, I’m perfect.

–     New moon/Chinese new year- honor the incompleteness and even a sense of emptiness. It is inherent in that incompleteness, in the process of going forward, that you make yourself better and better. So the separation or incompleteness is the powerful force that keeps you going. If you ever felt that, ‘I have arrived, I’ve reached, this is it,’ then you wouldn’t go any further.

–     Not knowing is a necessary and even creative state

–     What is the deepest longing in your heart?

 

Open Lvl Class Plan

Focus: sbl/ shoulderblades on back (shoulder loop). Melt heart=longing

Demo: contrast “lack” posture (rounded/hard upper back) to “longing” > sbl, melt heart/SBOB

All fours- SBL/SBOB

Dog

Plank

cobra

Dolphin> plank

Lunges w/ jump switches

Inverted L

Standing poses with side planks btwn

Quad stretches

Abs

Puvottanasna

Bridge pose

Swaying bridge

Bridge> urdva danurasana> danurasana

Dog> Utt> Parsvottanasana> reclining> Savasana

 

The Song of the Reed – on Rumi’s birth anniversary

Listen to the song of the reed,

How it wails with the pain of separation:

“Ever since I was taken from my reed bed

My woeful song has caused men and women to weep.

I seek out those whose hearts are torn by separation

For only they understand the pain of this longing.

Whoever is taken away from his homeland

Yearns for the day he will return.

In every gathering, among those who are happy or sad,

I cry with the same lament.

Everyone hears according to his own understanding,

None has searched for the secrets within me.

My secret is found in my lament

But an eye or ear without light cannot know it..”

The sound of the reed comes from fire, not wind

What use is one’s life without this fire?

It is the fire of love that brings music to the reed.

It is the ferment of love that gives taste to the wine.

The song of the reed soothes the pain of lost love.

Its melody sweeps the veils from the heart.

Can there be a poison so bitter or a sugar so sweet

As the song of the reed?

To hear the song of the reed

everything you have ever known must be left behind.

— Version by Jonathan Star

“Rumi – In the Arms of the Beloved”

Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York 1997

 

From :http://www.yogagroundwork.com/yoga.html

Anava mala arise from cloaking of Iccha Shakti: Desire (Attitude):

The One takes on the limitations of form out of a deep longing to experience its own goodness. Our deepest intentions arise from this same desire to experience our own true nature- what is often referred to as our heart. When we start a day, a practice or a project from this deep intention, we have access to immense power.

If our fullness is hidden from us, it becomes desire for fullness (raga), bringing feelings of unworthiness (anava mala). When we open to the deepest desire that beats our heart and breathes our breath, this is Attitude.

——–

From Amy Ippoliti: Anava Mala This is the cloak of uber low self-esteem, insecurity, a deep feeling of separateness, and a complete pre-occupation with self.  Too much subject.  This is the person who looks in the mirror, sees the zit on her face and assumes that everyone must be disgusted by it too.  This is the anorexic who looks in the mirror, and thinks she is fat, when she actually is emaciated.

When this mala has gone really bad we become so pre-occupied with ourselves that we rarely consider the consequences of our actions and how those might affect others. So we end up doing bad things like cheating, lying, betraying and withholding. By the time we come out of our bubble it is only because we have completely trashed our life and the lives of those closest to us and are forced to wake up.

The good news about this Mala is that when you wake up, you get to look at the root of the problem which is your insecurity and low self worth, and then….remember that you are a good person at heart. Being transparent about feeling unworthy is the ONLY way to accept our insecurities and then release them so we can grow.

——-

Anava mala: Hindu – Hinduism Dictionary on Anava mala

anava mala: (Sanskrit) “Impurity of smallness; finitizing principle.” The individualizing veil of duality that enshrouds the soul. It is the source of finitude and ignorance, the most basic of the three bonds (anava, karma, maya) which temporarily limit the soul. Anava mala has the same importance in Agamic philosophy that maya-avidya has in Vedantic philosophy. The presence of anava mala is what causes the misapprehension about the nature of God, soul and world, the notion of being separate and distinct from God and the universe. Anava obscures the natural wisdom, light, unity and humility of the soul and allows spiritual ignorance, darkness, egoity and pride to manifest. It is inherent in a maturing soul, like the shell of a seed. When anava is ripe, anugraha, “grace,” comes, and anava falls away. Anava is the root mala and the last bond to be dissolved. See: evolution of the soul, grace, mala, soul.

 

via leanna:

The top five tattvas, or principles of existence, are Shiva, Shakti, Iccha Shakti, Jnana Shakti, and Kriya Shakti.

Shiva is pure consciousness, it is like the sun, and Shakti is the creative power of that consciousness, it is like sunlight. They are the same but different aspects of the same.  In the top five tattvas there is Iccha- the will of the consciousness. It is will that comes before action- we have an idea before we can create. Jnana is the knowing of that will and Kriya is the action- a spontaneous action that has no condition or expectations- it is action for the sheer delight if it. In with all these five tattvas is a fine “trembling”. So from this pure consciousness it the trembling that causes the Iccha to wilfully pulsate from fullness to contract part of itself- it creates the screen of prismatic crystal unto which and into which all the possibilities of diversity and colour then manifest. Shiva/Shakti loses nothing of itself in the process- it stays completely unaffected in  the unmanifest.

Iccha, Jnana, Kriya, then become the aspects of the wheel- the shaktichakra.  The wheel starts with Kali- the Goddess of destruction. She is the consumer of time (kala being time and kali meaning the one who consumes time) she represents the blank state of your mind, no form or colour from which everything grows. She is the dark ground where the seed of the tree is planted. She represents Iccha. Saraswati represents Jnana, she is the deep order, the sequence that the growth follows- she is the tree that sprouts from the seed.  Finally at the apex of the wheel, at the height of the cycle before it moves downward again is Lakshimi, she is Kriya, the final action that is the fruit or flower of the tree- that which decays and falls to the ground, into the dark and back into Kali. Kali who seems to represent chaos, and darkness and destruction then is just part of the wheel- she is the ground upon which all ideas sprout. (I know Sjanie will love that….)

Via Jessica:

The top five Tattvas, or principles of nature, as outlined by the Tantrics are:

1. Shiva – the one energy, Consciousness, stable and unchanging, the vibration of potential:

Shiva is the masculine principle of stability, stillness, and that which never changes. Out of his own freedom, Shiva, often pictured dancing, chooses to take the forms of the universe just for the fun of it – to experience and revel in the goodness of existence.

In Anusara yoga we choose to see even our limitations as opportunities to experience our own divine nature. All parts of our being, including our physical body, our thoughts, our emotions, and even the aspects of ourselves that limit us, are actually this vital, divine energy revealing itself in ever-changing form, or

2. Shakti – the infinite expressions of the oneness, in all the infinite, ever-changing forms of the universe:

Shakti is the expression of that one spirit in the multiplicitous forms of the world, the feminine principle of freedom and all that changes and is in constant motion. Shiva can only be seen in some form, the forms we see all around us in the trees and the wind: always in movement.

Why does Shiva become Shakti? Why would such vast spirit take form in such limitated ways such as a tree or our breath? Because…

it wants to experience itself
it is free
it is playful

The challenge of Tantric yoga is in seeing Shiva within Shakti, and Shakti in Shiva: seeing oneness in diversity, and diversity in oneness; experiencing freedom within limitation, and limitation within freedom; playing in a serious way, and finding playfulness even in serious times.

And the next three, from which come the 3 A’s, are:

3. SadaShiva – “I am this,” or Iccha Shakti: Desire (Attitude):

The One takes on the limitations of form out of a deep longing to experience its own goodness. Our deepest intentions arise from this same desire to experience our own true nature- what is often referred to as our heart. When we start a day, a practice or a project from this deep intention, we have access to immense power.

If our fullness is hidden from us, it becomes desire for fullness (raga), bringing feelings of unworthiness (anava mala). When we open to the deepest desire that beats our heart and breathes our breath, this is Attitude.

4. Isvara – “This I am,” or Jnana Shakti: Knowledge (Alignment):

We can learn how to open to and support this current of energy within us, and give it expression in our bodies and our lives. When we believe we can’t know this, we get ignorance (avidya), where we make judgments based on difference, i.e. , “that object is separate from me” (mayiya mala). Even taking steps toward opening to the flow of universal energy within is Alignment.

5. Suddha-vidya – “I am this, this I am,” or Kriya Shakti: Action (Action):

As the great epic the Baghavada Gita advises, “Perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.” Yoga is about taking action. When the power to act is hidden from us, we feel impotent (kala) and anxious (karma mala).

When rediscovered, we remember the immense possibility of even our subtlest action to affect the world in a positive way, and delight in even the smallest action as an expression of the highest good within ourselves.

Thus, from the tattvas come the 3 A’s: Attitude, Alignment, and Action. In Anusara yoga, we:

1. Remember our connectedness,

2. Align with the bigger energy that flows within us, and

3. Express our inherent goodness.

When I began to follow these steps, my poses transformed like magic. Soon, I realized life is simply a series of poses, and I began to notice this magic everywhere.

via Leanne:

We chose to focus on Spanda for this training but we still talk about all of them as we go along because they are qualities of something that is not just ever one thing. The reason pulsation, or Spanda, is so important is because the place between these pulses- the place of seemingly stillness- is the place of the middle. That place of the middle becomes a point, a “bindu”, and a gateway to the Absolute. It’s the pause at the top of the inhale and at the bottom of the exhale.

Everything pulsates – down to the smallest atom- and pulsation can’t happen without two things in contrast. (Think sun/moon, light/dark, and open/close.) How can you know light unless you have ever experienced dark? The pulsation arises from the dark and goes to the highest pinnacle of light, the apex, and from there slowly fades back into the dark to wait for the next pulse.  Spanda exists in the cycles of the day, the year in our own life. We are created, we reach the pinnacle of life and then we return to the dark.  Contrast increases our knowledge; it doesn’t have to be a seemingly negative thing. Diversity helps us understand our own world better. So even in diversity there is a place of the middle and around it from that core line everything expands out into ever increasing complexity. Think of a tree- from a trunk, to the major branches, to the smaller branches, to the leaves and then finally the flowers- ever expanding complexity all from the middle.

After the morning talk we went into a basic practice that worked on seemingly simple stuff but it was all down in a way to work with the Spanda, to start from the place of the middle.  Things like aligning your feet and your hands rather than going all the way to skull loop right off the bat. It made me feel better about how I teach because I seem to talk every class about choosing to align and how we even set our feet and our hands in a way that is full of desire to know ourselves better- to know the One in us. Maybe it really is just that simple.

After lunch and buying a new pair of yoga pants- left all my clean ones at home by mistake- we settled into an afternoon of deep discussion.  John launched into the second stanza which mentions the shaktichakra- wheel of Shakti. John described the wheel as literally the wheel of time, of climbing apex and dissolution. So when the Absolute manifests, time is the result of the Absolute becoming aware of succession: the passing of time. Therefore everything manifested has a sequence-how does that happen? How out of pure consciousness which has no limit, no time, any sequence- comes this deep order of nature?

6 Attributes of the Divine, the Absolute, Spirit, The One:

Chit:  the power of consciousness

Ananda:  the highest bliss and joy

Svatantrya: unlimited freedom

Purna : fullness- lacking nothing

Spanda: a stillness that is trembling

Shivaya/Shri: auspiciousness- goodness, absolute benevolence

2. The attributes of the Supreme (Shiva-Shakti) at its absolute, unbounded essence are: • Chit (Self-awareness/Supreme Consciousness) – Shiva • Ananda (Bliss/creative power) – Shakti • Goodness or Auspiciousness (Shri/Shiva) • Purnatva (fullness, which includes peace) • Svatantrya (ultimate freedom) • Spanda (pulsation/polarity of energies)

Todd explained the 6 attributes of our true nature (absolute nature):
1. chit: consciousness-universal energy is awake
2. ananda: pulses with joy
3. spanda: pulsation (dynamic energy pulses like your heart beat and breath)
4. purnatva: there are no missing parts (we are whole and perfect)
5. Svatantrya: unique freedom (we are free to choose)
6. shri: goodness, auspiciousness (divine beauty and life is constantly becoming better)

The Malas defined:

  • The malas are like impurities. The dust that covers the mirrors of our hearts. It creates confusion and suffering and yoga is then the means to clean the dust , the malas, away and allow the true heart to shine through.

From Amy: In this case mala being a “cloak” or a “veil” rather than mala like the bead.  These veils are like coverings which conceal our true nature, like a film that settles on the mirror of our hearts, obscuring clarity. Like a floor which collects dust bunnies, or tarnish on silver that dulls its shine, the malas collect on our consciousness.  Yet, the silver is still shiny underneath, the mirror at its essence is still reflective, and the floor can be “swiffered”.

Yoga is the swiffer for your heart.

Dust bunnies are going to accumulate just by the very nature of you being alive. Every time we forget how miraculous we actually are, more dust bunnies arrive. Life is just that way, we forget. And shit happens. We get hurt.

We say that the Malas are God-given, for every time we forget our greatness, we get to delight in re-remembering again. You are supposed to forget.  And each time you remember, you grow, you expand, you become even more of yourself.

Anava-mala: feeling of unworthiness, longing, insecurity, feeling of separateness, low self-esteem.

  • located in the heart
  • caused by cloaking of desire (iccha shakti)
  • If our fullness is hidden from us, it becomes desire for fullness (raga), bringing feelings of unworthiness (anava mala)
  • “Impurity of smallness; finitizing principle.” The individualizing veil of duality that enshrouds the soul. It is the source of finitude and ignorance, the most basic of the three bonds (anava, karma, maya) which temporarily limit the soul.”
  • When Iccha ( you also can use the term Sat) gets covered by Anava-mala then our sense of fullness becomes impure. We suddenly feel we are lacking; we feel fragmented.  The natural outcome of anava-mala is to then to increase the water element and increase Kapha which can cause depression.  When Anava-mala is then lifted by polishing the mirror through practice, we feel our natural state of Iccha which is peace. We are full again. From Leanne’s Blog
  • water
  • kalpha
  • when cleared> peace

Mayiya-mala: too much object, only seeing difference, inability to see unity, can’t reveal self/be vulnerable

  • located in the 3rd eye
  • We can learn how to open to and support this current of energy within us, and give it expression in our bodies and our lives. When we believe we can’t know this, we get ignorance (avidya), where we make judgments based on difference, i.e. , “that object is separate from me” (mayiya mala). Even taking steps toward opening to the flow of universal energy within is Alignment.
  • When Jnana ( you can also use Chit) gets covered by Mayiya-mala our sense of connectedness becomes impure. We see difference- we become prejudiced. Mayiya-mala is related to the fire element and when it increases then Pitta increases and we become angry. When Mayiya-mala is lifted we feel love. From Leanne’s Blog
  • fire
  • pitta
  • when cleared> love

Karma-mala: inability to take action, feel powerless

  • located in the pelvis
  • Caused by cloaking of kriya/action
  • When Kriya ( or Ananda) is covered by Karma-mala, then we lose the agency to act- we feel powerless. Kriya is related to Air and when it becomes out of balance then Vata is increased and we experience anxiety. When Karama-mala is lifted we feel joy.From Leanne’s Blog
  • As the great epic the Baghavada Gita advises, “Perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.” Yoga is about taking action. When the power to act is hidden from us, we feel impotent (kala) and anxious (karma mala). When rediscovered, we remember the immense possibility of even our subtlest action to affect the world in a positive way, and delight in even the smallest action as an expression of the highest good within ourselves. From Jessica’s site
  • air
  • vata
  • when cleared> joy

The malas then in some way help move the spanda back and forth between these states of emotions. The yoga practice helps create longer periods in the higher vibrations of peace, love and joy but we all feel the negative emotions sometimes too. It is very natural. What is really amazing about tantra metaphysics is that they have a method to get from the lower, darker, vibrations to the higher ones. We don’t have to stay angry, we don’t have to stay depressed. We can learn to recognize that as part of the spanda and use techniques to help us get back to a more desirable plane of being. From Leanne’s Blog


anugraha shakti: (Sanskrit) “Graceful or favoring power.” Revealing grace. God Siva’s power of illumination, through which the soul is freed from the bonds of anava, karma and maya and ultimately attains liberation, moksha. Specifically, anugraha descends on the soul as shaktipata, the diksha (initiation) from a satguru. Anugraha is a key concept in Saiva Siddhanta. It comes when anava mala, the shell of finitude which surrounds the soul, reaches a state of ripeness, malaparipaka. See: anava, grace, Nataraja, shaktipata.

(See also: Anugraha shaktiHinduismBody Mind and Soul)

http://www.experiencefestival.com/anugraha_shakti

Grace is not only the force of illumination or revealment. It also includes Siva’s other four powers – creation, preservation, destruction and concealment – through which He provides the world of experience and limits the soul’s consciousness so that it may evolve.

“Grace is the revelatory power of spirit” – John Friend

Categories