• 04/22/2018 1:45 PM | Anonymous

    We are looking forward to welcoming back Priti Robyn Ross, who will take us on a magical mystery tour of yoga through the koshas. Here is some information about the koshas from Priti to whet your appetite.

    On May 12th, I have the sacred opportunity to share my passion about the Ancient Prana Kosha system, an in-depth exploration of yoga as the holistic system it was designed to be. Using this approach provides a practical yet profound map to navigate the odyssey of yoga.

    The powerful Koshas provide a multidimensional tool for teachers to craft a comprehensive class design to guide their students though a universal journey of yoga as well as a potent map for students to find their way into the soul of their practice.

    By utilizing the Koshas, the teacher and student can create a transformational experience that brings the practitioner into a dynamic equilibrium that results in vital health and awakening on all levels of their being.

    Each layer becomes a doorway to support and direct the student to enter into a dialogue and communion with each layer of the Self. The teacher can then make a conscious choice as to which Kosha to emphasize during any stage of the class and provide an engaging awareness, focus, and language into a selected dimension to provide an experience that is needed to support wholeness in the moment.

    For example, in Annamaya Kosha, the direction of attention is physical sensations. In Pranamaya Kosha, we begin to harmonize breath and movement, and in Manomaya we direct the thoughts. When when the first three layers syncopate, the spirit of the pose begins to emerge within Vijnanamaya, the witness consciousness. As we evolve, through deep self-observation we can begin to experience our practice through the lens of Anandamaya, where the posture dissolves into the experience of the moment, into pure soul presence.

    Using the Koshas as a framework can be a practical and profound teaching tool. With this method, the teacher has a powerful system to direct the attention of the student by utilizing these five lenses. Then by designing a yoga practice with the Koshas as an approach, it becomes a powerful laboratory in which to discover, awaken, and transform habitual patterns and bring light and awareness that can lead to freedom, liberation, and self-mastery.

    It’s important to note that the Koshas are not a linear system, but occur simultaneously, interweaving, feeding, and informing each layer of the  the multidimensional Self.

    True alignment happens when all Koshas are in communion, unity, and harmony. 

    When all our Koshas, or layers of the multidimensional self, are present and in communication with each other, we experience true inner alignment, union, yoga. Then we are in pure presence, listening to all layers of our being—body, breath, mind, witness, and soul—the Koshas.

    Adapted from the Pranotthan Yoga Teacher Training Manual
    Cofounders: Priti Robyn Ross and Devarshi Steven Hartman
    © 2014; edited 2018 by Priti for the YTA newsletter. All rights reserved.
    LifeAsYoga.com

  • 03/25/2018 9:50 AM | Anonymous
    YTA is looking forward to welcoming Vandita Kate Marchesiello on April 14, for Transform, Relax, and Rejuvenate: A Brief Retreat with Lasting Results.
    Long before there were yoga mats, my mother knitted me a white woolen blanket to use for my yoga practice. As described in the Indian tradition, this or a tiger skin rug was what one used to sit upon for meditation. It was 1974, and I had just discovered the ancient traditions of yoga. Now, the way this discovery came about and the years that followed still put a smile on my face …

    Marty, who owned a bar and had a great interest in sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, turned me on to a book by Jess Stern titled, Yoga, Youth, and Reincarnation (after all it was the 70s …). I read the book, attended a free yoga class at a Catholic church in Schenectady, New York, and the rest is history.

    Signing up for a series of ten classes after the freebie was a no brainer. I loved how I felt (without drugs) during a slow yoga flow, deep yogic breathing, and the icing on the cake … yoga nidra. I faithfully attended all ten classes and signed up again for another series with my teacher, Rupa, a devotee of Amrit Desai. Each week I entered the little house that also served as a yoga center and mini ashram and was soothed by the nag champa incense that burned on the alter next to photos of Paramahansa Yogananda, Gurudev (Amrit) and a variety of saints and sages from many traditions. Fresh flowers brightened the clean room as lovely music played and invited me in to sit quietly before class began. Dressed in all white, Rupa was the epitome of a yoga teacher:  knowledgeable, kind, and open-hearted. After a year of study with her, she suggested I do a yoga teacher training with her and help her at the little studio and teach in the community. I was so flattered and humbled by her invitation that I accepted immediately. The training lasted about nine months and was an amazing experience. With such an emphasis on character development and the health benefits of yoga, I gained more than imaginable that impacted my daily life.

    During this time Rupa took me to Sumneytown, Pennsylvania, to meet Yogi Desai. We attended an Inner Quest Intensive and spent ten hours a day for three days sitting with the question: “Tell me who you are.” Like peeling the layers of skin from an onion, this experience revealed some deep-seated resentments, feelings of abandonment, and ecstatic bliss. Over the years I participated in approximately seven of these intensives. Meeting Amrit at the end of this long weekend experience was joyful. He entered the room as if floating on air and had such a compassionate perspective for all the suffering we had experienced that weekend (imagine 20+ people crying, weeping, screaming, and punching pillows). He spoke eloquently about karma, dharma, and human nature and the power of love and left us all feeling good about our exhausting yet exhilarating weekend.

    Returning home I started teaching at the yoga center and a variety of community centers. I also began contemplating a yoga teacher training with Amrit in Pennsylvania. In 1977 I took a leave of absence from my clerical job at General Electric to attend the month-long training. The property at the Summit Station location where the training would be held was nestled among cornfields and farmlands of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Long walks on country roads and hills revealed a patchwork of colors from the various crops that were planted on this ideal land. This city girl was in her glory, as I had longed for a place like this to call home.

    Just a short time after I arrived for training I was busily preparing to welcome Swami Kripalu from India. This was a major and long anticipated event. Swami Kripalu was Amrit’s guru, and Amrit had been pleading with him for a few years to come to America and witness the interest in hatha yoga and the love and hunger hundreds of us had for these particular practices. The day of Bapuji’s (Swami Kripalu) arrival was unforgettable. A couple hundred of us all dressed in white with little marigolds in our hands and hair welcomed Swami with song and music that we chanted in Indian tradition. Bapuji, who spoke briefly after his long journey, said he felt so welcomed and loved and looked forward to spending time in satsanga with us soon. He spoke in Gujarati and Amrit translated. After being at the ashram for the month of training, I decided I wanted to stay longer and so quit my job and moved into the community that became my yoga family.

    Well, here we are now and I’m still serving at Kripalu Center. The years from 1979 to 2018 have been full of teaching, training, presenting, coaching, directing, mothering, and now grandmothering!

    I hope you will join me on April 14th for more stories and heartfelt experiences. See you soon!

    Learn more about Vandita at yoganowandthen.com.

  • 02/19/2018 1:06 PM | Anonymous
    We are thrilled to be bringing Shari Friedrichsen back to the YTA community. Here are her thoughts about the Yoga and the Heart workshop she will be leading for us on March 10. Hope to see you there!

    The practice of Yoga is based on Sankhya philosophy, which is a top-down philosophy stating that we evolve from the Light of Pure Consciousness. It further says that the cause (consciousness) is always in the effect (us). And yoga is a practice that is bottom-up, meaning we start with where we are in the body/mind and practice to experience and perceive our true inner nature, which is that light of pure consciousness.

    This means that within this body/mind that light exists, not just anywhere but everywhere. The body cannot exist without it. Furthermore, through the continued study of yogis and yoginis before us and the sharing of their experiences, we understand that the most concentrated area of that light is in the heart space. This concentrated light is the essence of pure wisdom, pure love, pure compassion, unalloyed joy, and abiding intelligence. Yet we often don’t get to experience that in our life, or it comes and goes, seeming quite random. The haze or cloudiness is too thick. What the Yoga Sutras tell us is that there are ways to capture that experience and to maintain that level of joy and light within and at the same time live in the world with our work, our relationships, our desires, and our intelligence.

    The key is to keep our bodies strong and resilient and our minds free from anxiety, worry, anger, angst, and doubt. As yoga practitioners we have had some success in maintaining or increasing the health of our bodies. Yoga has given us many tools and practices to support us in this. We have been able to reduce back pain, alleviate some of the aches in our joints, decrease our anxiety, lower our blood pressure, combat heart disease, and in many other substantial ways we have strengthened the functioning of our bodies. This is a necessary and foundational step in helping us relieve mental and emotional pain and enhancing the quality of our life.

    To go further, we need to understand a bit more about the relationship between our body, heart, and mind. The body supports the healthy functioning of the organs, including the brain and heart, the locus for concentrated areas of prana and light. If the physical functioning is compromised, the movement of prana can also be compromised, or even decreased. And we may not even be aware of it, but slowly over time it drains us of our will, our determination, our body’s intelligence, our joy, and our vitality. To keep a healthy body, the foundational step is asana practice.

    From here we can look at the mind. As we know from our practice, the body and mind are intimately connected. We do our practice and our mind is more at peace. We don’t, and we’re more apt to be reactive and doubtful about our lives, our experience of ourselves.  After establishing a stable and comfortable body, relatively free of discomfort or disease, yoga gives us the tools and practices to further calm the mind. This is vital to the connection of the deeper regions in our heart. If the mind is wandering here and there, worried about this and that, the light and joy of the heart are quite difficult to access. We are stuck with our senses moving outward, catching hold of any thread of entertainment or relief or external habit we’ve cultivated. This kind of mind does not have the ability to experience the sublime aspects of the vishoka, joy untouched by sorrow or angst, or jyotishmati, supreme light of the heart, both of which are the subtle building blocks supporting the creation of the heart itself and concentrated in the heart area. Without a quiet mind, guided by inward moving prana, we miss out on this grace that is, always exists, and flows within.

    The YTA workshop on March 10 will focus on practices that strengthen, stabilize, and turn us inward to this heart center. Through specific postures and breathing we will increase access to the four gifts that come with a body: rupa—beauty; lavanya—tastefulness; bala—vitality; and vajra samharanatva—the inherent healing power. Once we have ease and stability in the body, we will use specific pranayama practices to turn the mind peacefully inward. With a calm mind, we will be able to access the deeper stillness of the heart, where we can touch upon and rest in our true nature of unobstructed joy and light.

  • 02/11/2018 1:21 PM | Anonymous
    Participants of Saturday's Ayurveda and Yoga workshop with Deirdre Breen were treated to a taste of this delicious elixir at the close of the day. Here is Deirdre's recipe.

    Ojas Nightly Tonic Recipe
    1. Add small amounts of these to one cup of milk as you slowly bring it to a boil:

    Chopped dates (1 tbsp)

    Chopped almonds (2 tsp)

    Coconut meat or flakes (1 tbsp)

    Saffron (1/2 tsp)

    Ghee (1–2 tsp)

    Cardamom (1/8 tsp)

    2. Add ojas-building herbs to the milk (1/8 tsp or one 500mg capsule of each):
    Shatavari (Strength of 100 Husbands, sometimes spelled Shatawari)
    Ashwagandha (Strength of Ten Horses, sometimes spelled Ashwaganda)
    3. Optional: Once the milk, herbs, foods and spices are cooked and off the flame, add 1 tsp of raw honey.

    Drink one cup each night for 3 months to rebuild ojas levels to support sleep, immunity, and overall well-being.

    Enjoy!
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