Category: Yoga

Tanpura - WikipediaIt was midnight of the third day when the chanting ended.  Jan 1, 2008.  We’d been at it, 2 hours on and 4 hours off, around the clock. After the first 24 hours I felt myself slipping into an altered state that felt amazing.  For the entire 3 days, the chant never left my mind…there was no room for discursive thinking, worrying, obsessing, analyzing, wondering,. There was no past, no future, just the chant. …there were no thoughts…just the chant…   Looking it up for the first time I discover that the moon was conjunct natal neptune/ketu.  It feels good to *know* that.

I was one of the musicians alternating between harmonium and tamboura.  This was my first time on a harmonium for ‘performance’ and I was nervous about that.  The tamboura however was sheer joy for the memories it brought up.  Years before I accompanied a local sitar player with his gig at the nearby Indian restaurant.  He needed the droning of a tamboura to play his best. He had one and taught me how to play it.   Loving all stringed instruments I was eager to learn and quickly mastered these 4 strings.

The tamboura I was handed at Kripalu was an entirely different instrument.  Little did I know that tamboura’s could be female, like the one I learned on, or male, like this gigantic gourd that was bigger than me!     The powerful, resonant, droning sound could project throughout the entire Main Chapel at Kripalu with only the most gentle touch.  I’m in trouble I thought, for I always err towards loud.

I was grateful for the time we spent together earlier getting to know each other, learning the chant, practicing with the instruments, and rehearsing the ‘changing of the chanters/musicians’ from one shift to another. Although I had received many invitations to join this team, I was only able to participate twice due to family responsibilities

I remember the first meeting of our team.  We sat in a circle on  dusty pink velour cushions and listened to Bhavani & Atma lay out the program and how it was going to work.  After time spent on the logistics, Bhavani brought out the instruments and introduced the chant.  I can still feel my excitement at being one of the musicians.   Although the Sanskrit was short and simple to say, the melody was difficult.  It required good breath control, along with some notes that were hard for me.  I was really impressed with those on the team that were the lead chanters and yearned for a voice as beautiful as theirs.

Over the course of the next three days we would chant Om Nimah Shivaya in Swami Kripalu’s chapel.    It was my favorite room in the whole building with it’s soft pink carpet and cushions.  The light wooden paneled wall behind the riser was rounded.   In one corner was a supply closet hidden behind a wooden door that matched the paneling.  On the other side was the space that housed the artifacts from Swami Kripalu’s time in the USA.  This was also the room where Amrit Desai, the founding Guru of Kripalu Center, would have his most intimate gatherings, I supposed.

On the last night, without missing a beat or a syllable, we moved ourselves to the expansive Main Chapel on the 2nd floor.   The backdrop to the riser we were sitting on displayed a huge OM symbol. Behind the OM backdrop is a mosaic left behind by the Jesuits who previously owned the property   The alcoves on both sides were open with the a/v station on the left.  I am sure that it looks very different today.

Everyone from the surrounding area of Lenox was invited for the final 2 hours of live chant and they began arriving soon after we began.  Slowly the room filled while all 20+ of us, all dressed in white chanted away.  I was grateful not to be the tamboura player for that last session as I was so high from bliss using a “gentle touch” would have been impossible.

There were easily 500 people on the floor in front of us all chanting and swaying away.  I saw thefamiliar faces of teachers, mentors, fellow students, and strangers that I have come to love in my years there.  The entire room was one with the chant.  You could feel it.  Everywhere.  Surrounded by sound & vibrations.

And then,

finally,

we chanted the final Om.

I understand now how “Silence is deafening”.

I don’t have the words to describe the exquisite experience of those silent minutes.  I don’t remember how long it lasted.  It might’ve been 2 or 20 minutes?  Time stopped.  Tears streamed down my face adding to sensory experience of this silence.  It became easy to understand the devotional Bhakti path if this was the reward for practice.  Of course, I had been immersed in it for 72 hours, not 2, a realization that took some time to comprehend.

Eventually, the sounds of bodies moving and voices whispering spread throughout the room.  Most of the audience had only joined in for 2 hours and maybe occasionally during the 3 days in the other chapel.  I wondered if they were feeling what I was feeling.  There was no way to know.

It didn’t take too long for the holiday cacophony to erupt.  It was New Year’s Eve and the kitchen had prepared a feast that everyone was eager to partake.  I didn’t have a bite.  Even though I hadn’t eaten much that day, I was filled up with something that left no room for food.

The next day, we met again to say goodbye and share our experience of that year’s Saptah.  After the hugs I floated out of the building and made my way back home, a 4 hour drive.

 

This year Bhavani & Atma will be leading the Saptah Chant on Zoom & on Facebook.  I’m excited to participate in this way!  I don’t have a tamboura or a harmonium, so I’ll use my harp & a drum for some musical accompaniment.  The chant itself is a difficult one and requires a lot of practice to do it well.  At least that’s how I felt about it 10 years ago.  That said, the melody has never left my mind even though I haven’t heard it anywhere since that night in the Main Chapel.

I’m not sure how long they’ll keep the Facebook link live.  There may be some issues around “recording” this particular melody?  That said, I’d recommend to those who are serious about their seeking to keep the chant on repeat until the clock strikes midnight of 2021.  Om Nimah Shivaya.  Jai Bhagwan.  Jai Gurudev.  Namaste.

Blogging journal entry Music Teachers Yoga

May I be a guard for those who need protection

A guide for those on the path

A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood

May I be a lamp in the darkness

A resting place for the weary

A healing medicine for all who are sick

A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles

And for the boundless multitudes of living beings

May I bring sustenance and awakening

Enduring like the earth and sky

Until all beings are freed from sorrow

And all are awakened.

Shantideva    6th century sage

Yoga

Yoga

About a month ago I volunteered to tell a story  for the 8th annual Storyteller’s Tellabration.   It’s been a few years since I’ve tackled this kind of creative endeavor and I’m a little nervous.

My genre of storytelling is a hybrid of personal memoir and ancient mythology.   In the past I’ve delved into ancient gods/goddesses from different cultures and I’ve always learned something important.  I’ve added some links below of stories told if you are interested.

Thanks to the internet I found my muse right away.  She was hardly known in the pantheon of gods/goddesses.of Hindu mythology.  She was called Askilandaeshvari and her name holds the key to understanding what she is all about.  In Sanskrit, Aki is Universe, lan is ruler, and deshvari is Goddess…………..she is the Goddess who Rules the Universe and her powers are unmatched by any other.  But the Sanskrit also says something else.  Akilanda can be  also translated as Never-Not-Broken.  She is the Goddess of Never-Not-Broken.  Reconciling those two translations took a bit of meditation and contemplation. Within days my obsession took over and I researched and read and tried to paint the image I found of her.

I looked at all the places where I was broken, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  Slowly as I came to understand her story and the symbolism I could see why Never-Not-Broken = Ruler of the Universe.  As a life long yogini I have learned what it means to ’embody’ something.   I watched my self *embody* Ashkilandaeshvari.

Her story teaches us about resilience and how with each break, crack, rupture, trauma, crisis, catastrophe we survive, we become stronger.

I suspect that her fame will grow during these turbulent times we are living in.  The way she rides the crocodile down a raging river is a lesson in itself.

…to be continued

Here’s an invite to our Tellebration if you want to come.

Divine Dramas………

More Divine Dramas – Daghda’s Harp

 

Ancient Wisdom Mythology StoryTelling The Jersey Shore Yoga

A Lunar Eclipse….so, between now and then we are in the Gibbous phase.  Act Accordingly.  Please.  Best use during this 3 day period?  Self-care. Self-reflection. Spiritual practices.

Om Shanti.

Astrology lunar phases The Lunar Cycle Yoga Yoga Therapy

I knew it was coming.  It was inevitable.  Today the announcement was made in the Berkshire Eagle.  It’s too much to process right now.  It’s a big deal for me, and many, many others.  There will be many stories in the days to come.  Mine will be one of them.

My first visit to Kripalu Ashram was right after Gurudev Amrit Desai, the Guru, had left.  That was 1993?  Over the next couple decades I commuted to Lenox frequently to assist/teach/train/volunteer/retreat and then some.  The Kripalu Community spans the globe and when I did volunteer work at the Amrit Institute in Florida a few years ago,  I discovered even more how the teachings of Swami Kripalu are available in other places as well.  Nevertheless, the feng shui and energy of this property will live on.  I hope I get to go there again.

I’ve written a lot here about Kripalu.  If you’re interested type Kripalu into the search bar.

more to come.

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back to the Hill House

 

 

Holistic Health Kripalu Meditation Yoga Yoga Therapy

Self Study or Svadaya in Sanskrit, refers to the practice of introspection to ‘study of the self’.  It encourages one to practice focused awareness and nonjudgmental self-reflection.  My intention as facilitator is to align various yoga (therapy) practices with cosmic forces to create optimal conditions for participants to have a meaningful experience.  Transformation, healing, or enlightenment are  possible side effects.  Read more here.

INQUIRE WITHIN – ONLINE!!

Under a Pisces Moon

May 16-17, 2020

Our workshop this weekend will take place 1-4pm on Saturday and 9-am-12 on Sunday.  We’ll be alone and together online.    You are welcome to attend one or both.

The Moon will be moving thru Pisces, a perfect time to explore the topic of Healing.  Healing is not curing.  We don’t need to be deathly ill to reap the benefits of healing practices. Whatever throws us out of balance, be it by choice, chance, divine will, or the unexpected consequences of a global pandemic, we all have some healing work to do.  If not for ourselves, then in service to others.

This workshop-on-retreat is an opportunity to do the kind of inner work that frequently occurs when we travel to be with strangers.  Participating from the confines of your home without the external structure of the typical retreat experience will be an interesting experiment in svadaya. 

Experiential portions of this program may include: Asana, pranayama, mudra, yoga nidra, meditation, art, journaling, expressive movement,  storytelling. Hatha yoga and experience with astrology is not necessary. The practices will be gentle & challenging at the same time. Experiences and insights that stimulate the mind-body-spirit connection can be profoundly transformational. Inner space explorations of outer space can at times stir up the unconscious and help us to see places we don’t often visit consciously.

Submit the form below to register or call/text 721 531 9013.  Once you’ve registered you’ll receive the zoom link and an information sheet on how to prepare.  There is no set fee for this program.  Donations gratefully received thru Paypal/Venmo/Personal Checks  PayPal button is here.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga

Yoga

So, I’ve been  organizing my personal library and came across this very old, very yellow, coverless paperback copy of Autobiography of a Yoga.  I read it at least twice before I enrolled in my first yoga teacher training program and one (or is it 2?) again since.   I downloaded it on Kindle so that when this copy turns to dust I will still be able to read it.  But, today, in the midst of all that is, I randomly opened it to this page.

 

Once again I am stunned by the sychronicity between the *universe* and what is happening in the moment.  This constant, expression of “As Above, So Below” helps me feel safe.

Meanwhile….     I have been offering my yoga therapy classes online now for 3 weeks and it looks like this trend will continue for some time.  The astrology of the day supports the movement to use technology better and safer.  I continue to rearrange my living space to accommodate these new working conditions.

If you are interested in joining an online yoga therapy class with me let me know.

FYI   I took the photo at the top of this post at the Lake Shrine Temple, which is in Pacific Palisades, CA.  A very peaceful place.  There are Temples all over the world promoting the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.  The organization is called the  Self-Realization Fellowship and it’s based in Los Angeles, CA.

 

Om Shanti.

Yoga

…..followed by a Solar Eclipse.  Big.

more later.

Yoga