Please feel free to read this blog and join in. I hope you will write something inspirational, inspiring, spiritual, controversial, amusing, engaging or just plain run of the mill. But please don't be brusque, churlish or licentious.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Greater Sense of Awareness

Thank you all for staying with me.  I haven't posted anything for some time because I had to take the computer into the shop. I brought it back today, plugged everything in and it wouldn't boot up. I'm sure you've been down this road too. So, anyway, I called the shop and they said I would have to bring it in again. I'm writing this on an old computer that I just happened to have stored in the attic.

If you ever become agitated, for any reason, and you forget what you are - the Witness, try this simple exercise. Lie down on your back and put a soft cloth on your eyes. This simple act will initiate the ocularcardiac reflex and begin a relaxation reaction. You don't want to press on the cloth because that can reverse the reflex. The cloth over the eyes sends nerve impulses to the medulla and the Vagus nerve is activated which turns on the parasympathetic nervous system. The Vagus nerve runs from the medulla to all vital organs (heart, liver, lungs, spleen, and upper intestines) causing them to relax.  Your whole body will begin to feel calmer.

As calmness settles in, visualize the space the exists all around you. Visualize the infinite space below you, in front of you, to the left, to the right, and all around your body. Then focus on the space inside your body and allow both the outside space and the inside space to come together. As they merge you may notice that you are once again the Witness of all that is. When you are ready you can come back into your body and carry on as usual but with a greater sense of awareness. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to measure your baseline

I took a great class taught by Bo Forbes while in Colorado two weeks ago. Bo is a neuroscientist and has integrated psychology with yoga and science. A rare combination for a neuroscientist. Anyway, she taught us how important it is to get a personal baseline before doing yoga practice or just about anything else for that matter.

A personal baseline allows you to see where you are in relation to your body, mind, emotions and feelings before yoga practice and after yoga practice so you can gauge your progress. It's easy and it takes only a few minutes.

Sitting in a comfortable position or lying down on your back with your knees bent, close your eyes and take several long, slow breaths. Connect with the level of energy in your physical body. Ask yourself, is it high, medium or low? Note the speed of your mind (thoughts). Tune into your nervous system - your "wiring" and take a note whether it's tightly wound (in overdrive) or balanced. Tune into the depth of your breathing. Is it smooth and easy or erratic?  Get a sense of whether you are connected to your center - the energy within the core of your body. Also, make a mental note of any other baseline measurement that's important to you, such as a pain somewhere, uneasiness, emotions or other feelings.

You can do this simple baseline exercise before going to bed to help you fall asleep, at the end of yoga practice, and anytime you feel anxious, depressed or stressed.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Earth Prayer

Earth is said, by American Indians, to be our mother. Earth is from whence we came. We should honor and take care of her for she is our "bread and butter," she is our life source. There is energy within the earth generated by the movement of hot magma flowing just below the crust on which we stand. You may notice, as you stand on Mother Earth, there is a vibration which emanates from deep within her bowls. You can learn to get in touch with this magnificent feeling.

A class I took with Saul David Raye taught me this simple Mayan dance which brought me closer to Mother Earth.  It is called the Earth Prayer.

You can stand by your self or in a circle with friends, holding hands. As you stand begin swaying from side to side singing, "I feel Mother beneath my feet, I feel Mother's heart beat."  Sing this simple chant 5 times.  And then sing, "Hey Yama, Hey Yana, Hey Yama Ho!" 5 times. Repeat as many times as you like.

I believe the prayer somehow activates the vagus nervous system and brings about a sense of calmness and a feeling of peacefulness.  I don't know exactly how it works, but it works - for me anyway.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Aligning and Clearing the Chakras

While at the yoga conference in Colorado I had the pleasure of attending a class taught by Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute in Oakland, California. One of the things he taught us, which made an impression on me,  was how to breathe in the sound of a mantra for aligning and clearing the chakras.

As you probably know there are seven chakras in the body that correspond closely to the seven major nerve plexus along the spine. To do this exercise there needs to be a chanter and someone doing the breathing. The teacher does the chanting (mantra) and the breather receives it. The mantra should be short and done six times for each chakra. An example of a mantra is below:

Om namahi
Om namahi om
Om namahi om om
Om namahi om
Om namahi

The student or the one receiving the mantra should sit with the spine straight, shoulders relaxed and the eyes closed. The idea is to listen to the mantra as you inhale and imagine the energy of the mantra coming into the head, down the spine and to the designated chakra. The chakra becomes energized and aligned by the sound of the mantra.

When the chanter chants, the student slowly inhales. The inhalation should take about four seconds; the time it takes to sing the mantra. At the end of the inhalation the breath is held for 3-4 seconds to allow the energy of the mantra to swirl around and become integrated the chakra. And then the breath is slowly released. Exhalation is done in silence and should take about five seconds. As the breath is relaeased the energy goes up the astral tube of the body (sushumna) and out the top of the head.

The six sounds of the mantra are done for each chakra, beginning with the base chakra. For example, to begin the series of chants, the chanter would sing "Om namahi" as the student inhales slowly down to the first (base) chakra - hold the breath for 3-4 seconds - slowly breath out and up sushumna. The chanter would then sing "Om namahi om" as the student inhales again down to the first chakra. So, the breathing is down six times for each chakra, inhaling with the mantra and exhaling in silence.

I have added a video for those of you who would like to try this exercise.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Back home

We are finally back home from the Colorado Yoga Conference. We hiked many trails high in the Rocky Mountains over three days before the conference to become adjusted to the altitude. We were above the clouds as you can see in the picture below:

We ( my wife and I) reached a maximum of 11, 5796 feet and stayed there for the rest of the day to allow our bodies to acclimate to the altitude necessary for doing yoga in Estes Park the next day.
The conference consisted of three two hour classes each day for two days. The third day there was only one two hour class and then it was off for more hiking. I had some great yoga classes with some of the best yoga teachers in the world. I learned much and hope to convey at least 10% of it to my students as time goes on.
I may have over done it because my body is beginning to feel the effects of the trip. I felt great at the high altitudes but now that I'm in the low altitude various aches and pains are creeping in plus I have a head cold. On the next post I'll talk about some of the most interesting things I learned at the conference.


Monday, October 1, 2012


I'm heading off to this year's yoga conference in Colorado and will be back in a week. Going to be doing some chanting with Jai Uttal, so thought I would post this video. Watch, sit back and enjoy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw8NiEV6qmA&feature=related  I'll be thinking of you.