Category: Yoga

Last year I stumbled upon an online course teaching the basics of Islamic Geometry as an art form.  With joy I dug into the box that held my old drafting tools from college. I found my compass, triangles, and even some old architectural drawings from my classes.

I’ve been fascinated with the Sri Yantra to my yoga students for years.  During some of our workshops we took the time to color it in, being mindful and present and watching our thoughts/feelings/sensations during the practice. Everyone enjoyed it.  It was a good way to practice dharana and dhyana, concentration and absorption.

 

The Sri Yantra, is considered the Mother of all Yantras, and there are many of them.  Together they, and many other geometric forms and patterns make up the library of sacred geometry, a science that has fascinated me since my teens.  As I attempted to recreate this ancient pattern I was reminded of the rich symbolism that permeates all  the Vedic sciences, including geometry & mathematics.   As I painted it. layer by layer, I once again recognized impatience., my yearning for perfection, and my struggle with ‘is it enough?’.

Sri Yantra is composed of 9 interlocking triangles, four point up representing the masculine principle and 5 point down representing the feminine.  Everything begins at the Bindu point  The circle represents cosmic rhythms.  The 8 and 16 lotus petals represent on-going creation and expansion.  The four gates representing the directions within a square representing earth, manifestation, and stability.

The Sri Yantra is sacred geometry, meaning that meditation upon it leads to expanded consciousness, enlightenment, or, as some report, extremely good fortune.

All that said, it has been amazingly pleasant to paint the Sri Yantra and I’m on my 4th one.  My patience is growing and I feel serene at completion.   Spiritual practice and meditation can come in many forms.

 

Geometric Art Meditation Yoga

I was running late to class and hobbling still on my sore ankle.  I’ll remember Mars turning retrograde at 4 degrees Aquarius (ruling  zodiac sign of ankles) for a long time!  As soon as I got to the top stair and turned the corner to the studio I saw it, a large white shopping bag with a big pink post-it to Ida…and a heart drawn with red markers.  It was sitting on the chair in the hall by the door to The Sanctuary.  I looked in the bag and saw a bunch of books with a piece of paper on top.  There was no note or card or any clue at all as to the giver of this gift.  I grabbed the bag and hobbled some more into the studio.

 

My curiosity was stoked!  The bag held a delightful assortment of astrology books, most very old, but well kept and well read with pages dogeared and jacket covers marking pages.  I already had a few of them but some I’d never seen before.

In addition to the books was a piece of paper with what might be a natal chart but there’s no name or birthday or birthplace or any personal data at all.  It didn’t look like any other natal chart or chart form I’d ever seen before, and I’ve been seeing charts since 1970 something.

The other item in the bag was an aspectarian, and that item lit me up like a firecracker!  But, that’s another story.

Students began to arrive and I put the books away holding aside Dane Rudyhar’s, An Astrological Mandala – 360 Symbolic Phases.  I have a yellowed paperback held together with a rubber band at home.  I can use this hardcover one for sure.  Usefulness is important when you have Mars and Saturn in Virgo like I.

Another Solar Eclipse was due on Aug 11 at 19 degrees of Leo.  I look up that degree in Rudyhar’s book thinking it would be a good reading for the class and might offer some timely discourse.

Class begins.  It’s a struggle, at first, to pull my mind away from the mysterious gift.  But, by the time we got to “OM”, we were all centered, grounded, and ready for our yoga practices.

After class, we chatted some and I remembered how I wanted to share the page on 19 degrees of Leo,   Instead, I opened the book to the page that was marked with the book cover.  I looked and it read Phase 279, 9 degrees Capricorn. An Angel Carrying a Harp.   Stunned, I looked from the page to the beige nubby carpet up to the creamy tan wall and over to the small, Wm Reese, fully levered, maple lapharp perched on her stand in front of me.

Was that page marked for me?  Even the remaining students in the room were curiously mystified.

After they left I considered what to do with the bag.  I pulled out the piece of paper and the aspectarian, packed the books up, and left it at the studio.

Later that night, I looked at what I brought home, and it does appear like a natal chart of someone born in the 40’s or perhaps early 50’s.  Sun in Sag, Moon in Taurus (?) the symbols here are unclear, Capricorn is rising.  I can’t think of anyone offhand that has that astrological signature.    But, Scorpio’s love mysteries.   Sometimes.

Is this a gift from a peer, an admirer, or a stalker, or someone who has found me on the internet and chooses to remain anonymous for nefarious reasons, or what?

I am well acquainted to what an imaginative monkey-mind can do.  Yet, the bag was left anonymously, on purpose?

Anyway, if you’re still reading this and you know who left it, would you please let me know.

Meanwhile, the solar eclipse has passed and we can now try to make sense of all this summer has revealed…….so far.

Om Shanti….

 

Astrology Blogging Creative Non-Fiction Yoga

The premier text for defining creativity is probably Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book: Creativity – Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.

The second  book that impacted my understanding of the creative process was the Bhagavad Gita.

You can’t not be creative.  We are born with galaxies filled of ‘potential’….inside and out.

Our Inquire Within Summer Intensive is scheduled for July 28   Today is the deadline to register.  Om Shanti.

Yoga

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Yoga

Within the city of Brahman,

which is the body,

there is the heart,

and within the heart

there is a little house.

 

This house has the shape of a lotus,

and within it dwells that which is to be

sought after,

inquired about,

and realized.

 

Even so large as the universe outside,

is the universe within the lotus of the heart.

Within it are heaven and earth,

the sun, moon,

the lightning

and all the stars.

 

Whatever is in the macrocosm is in this microcosm also.

Ancient Wisdom Astrology Yoga

There are many ways to practice yoga.   Seva, is one.

In 1997 I became a volunteer at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA.  I was offered room & board in return for my service.   Mostly,  I worked as a Faculty Assistant.  Other times I was on the  production team for the larger weekend conferences.  Eventually,  I became attached to the Inner Quest Intensive (IQI), Kripalu’s signature self-discovery program. For 10+ years  I led the Kripalu hatha yoga practice  and served as a Facilitator with this life-changing program.

Then in 2008 Kripalu’s governing body decided that faculty volunteers like myself were no longer needed and they began to remove us from the program rooms. It was a significant change for those who remember, and my time at Kripalu was greatly reduced.  The few of us who were attached to specific master teachers/programs were allowed to continue and  I was grateful. The IQI was offered three times a year and that would have to be enough seva at Kripalu.

In 2015,  Kripalu cancelled the IQI and soon thereafter cancelled all other remaining volunteer opportunities.  This decision  signaled a significant course correction for Kripalu Center.

Aside from the yoga experience, knowledge, practice and karma points I gained over 15 years of service at Kripalu, what was so unexpectedly rewarding was the experience of living together with others on the same path, to be a part of a spiritual community where like-mind and like-spirit came together.

So, last December, when the days were short and the nights were long I responded to a call for volunteers at the Amrit Yoga Institute in Florida.  In early March a call came and I have been invited to practice Seva there during the first weeks of May!

For those in the know, AYI was established by Amrit Desai, the guru who introduced Kripalu Yoga to the USA.  This means that the practices, philosophy, and methodologies will be consistent with everything I have learned thus far and for that I am grateful, and so excited, and terrified too.  And, he will be on the campus during my stay.

Florida is  not as easy as driving to the Berkshires, and this pitta person hates hot weather, but I am  honored and grateful to be invited to this campus  to experience Gurudev’s wisdom for myself.

Jai Bhagwan.  Namaste.  Om shanti.

to be continued.

 

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Blogging Dharma Yoga Yoga Therapy

 

 

Once again my own words fail me.   Here are some from the Buddha.

 

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

The Metta Sutra

 

Buddhism Dharma Meditation philosophy Poetry quotes Yoga

FullSizeRenderTwo important announcements regarding my yoga community were made recently.  The first is that the International Association of Yoga Therapists, after years of work, have defined and developed a curriculum with which  to certify someone as a Yoga Therapist.  This new designation will read as C-IAYT.   This achievement comes on the heels of the Yoga Alliance announcing that they will not recognize the term yoga therapy within their certification requirements.  Their primary interest is in making sure that anyone who calls themselves a yoga teacher/instructor knows how to keep people safe while guiding asana practice.  Using yoga, therapeutically or in any kind of a ‘healing’ way is not what the Yoga Alliance is focused on.  Whereas, the IAYT which was founded in 1989 has been solely focused on using yoga therapeutically and they have dedicated all their resources towards that end.   Just as my yoga ‘career’ got started (1999) the dialogue on what is yoga therapy began.  Over the next few years they discussed just what were the most important aspects of a yoga (therapy) program and should we establish a required curriculum?  Much of this discussion occurred before the current explosion of  yoga ‘teachers’ hit the scene.   My feelings at the time were in line with others who asserted that yoga could not be strictly coded for anything since it’s very foundation was based in energy, spirit, and whatever overriding belief system was operating at any given time.   IMHO Yoga can not be quantified…and my personal practice of yoga therapy emphasizes that, which does not mean that I ignore the body during practice.  Quite the contrary.  But, a holistic practice should cover the whole as understood by the early yogi’s.

Today, all the debating is complete and the organizations have chosen their paths forward and it’s exactly what I feared would happen.  They’ve narrowed down yoga therapy to mostly asana & pranayama, and turned  the subtle & causal energy-bodies over to Ayurveda….which isn’t awful, just disappointing, for me, personally.  But, I have my karma to work thru just like everyone else.

All that said it seems that I do qualify to be grandfathered (or more appropriately) grandmothered in for their official certification of yoga therapy, I guess age does have some rewards. But first I have the daunting task of documenting 15 years of client contact.  Nevertheless, those that are wanting to call themselves yoga therapists are faced with a curriculum that would never have appealed to me, or anyone who understands that healing, well-being, and self-fulfillment is more than the body, more than the sum of the parts, more than anything that can be studied, measured, or quantified.

 om.jpg

Another piece of yoga news was the announcement that Integrative Yoga Therapy will become a part of the Kripalu Yoga curriculum, officially.  This is not a big surprise to me as Joseph LaPage was part of the early Kripalu ashram, but it’s so wonderful to have them together in this form.  All of my teacher-trainings have been within this lineage of teachers and I feel so much gratitude to be a part of the community.

I never expected to be a pioneer of anything, but it seems as though I have been blazing a path for sure.  Just the fact that I’m posting this to all of you is evidence of that.  My studio is 14 years old  and continues to be a safe and sacred space for those who seek healing, inspiration, and enlightenment thru yoga.  Om Shanti.

 

Holistic Health Kripalu Yoga Yoga Therapy

Well, I’m back and it was an over-the-top fabulous week and worth the wait.   As usual, my well gets filled at Kripalu.  I am grateful.

Kripalu is a different place these days and I miss the community feeling that was created by the ashram lifestyle.   Volunteers vs Employees creates a totally different environment.  Thus, to me, today, it feels like any other 5-star holistic center….ie Omega, Esalen, The Open Center, etc. Many of the best senior teachers are gone, a serious failing since that’s when the wisdom of the yoga practice can really express itself.  The emphasis  no longer includes any of the off-the-mat practices of Kripalu Yoga.  Too bad.  It’s so needed as a counterpoint to the body-based exercises that pass for yoga today.

That said, I still love it there.  You just can’t not absorb the incredible magical, metaphysical, and spiritual energy that permeates the entire landscape.  The mountains, the lake, the fertile land, the trees and the prana in the air all conspire to create feng shui perfection.

The program, Sharing Your Life Story with Ann Randolph was over-the-top amazing and I highly recommend you see her performances or take her workshops.  I am so inspired to continue my creative non-fiction projects and hope to post some Kripalu stories here in the near future.

……more later.

 

Blogging Kripalu

YogaNidra Here’s the astrology chart for our yoga nidra this Sunday.  I find it makes for a delicious experience  if I take the time to study the Timescape© for the event.   Timescape is a word I invented in 1989 to describe the particular astrological technique I use to help people manage their time better.  Time, and our management of it, is a major stress factor for our modern day society .  And, then, given the fact that most people look at life from a linear, finite point of view, just adds to the stress of it all.   Birth…then, death.  The End.

Cyclical thinking and cyclical time-keeping really does feel better….at least it does in this aging female’s body.

Anyway, in the chart we find Uranus rising, Mars setting,  with Pluto and Venus culminating.  The sun and moon are drawing closer together for a New Moon at 6:39 am on monday in 20 degrees of Aquarius.  This means that our yoga nidra experience will be happening under the auspices of a balsamic moon.   It’s a wonderful time to go in and light your fire around something close to your heart.  Om shanti.     That said, the Sun square Mars in the middle degrees of fixed Aquarius and Scorpio, will keep flames burning right into the new cycle.

At the beginning of our yoga nidra practice you will be asked to create a sankalpa, or intention for your practice.  The theory says that if you plant a sankalpa into a deeply relaxed body it’s like programming your brain for success.  The details do matter so come on Sunday so that we can all practice together.

There’s a widget over there on the right where you can sign up for my newsletter.  Do that.  Then you can be informed about new events in advance.  Or, send  your contact info directly to me here at ida@ifcullen.com

Til then,     May all your dreams take root and grow.

 

 

Astrology Stress Management yoga nidra Yoga Therapy