The July Full Moon. Guru Purnima. The Full Moon of the Guru.


The Full Moon falls on Friday, July 15th, 2011, at 2:40 AM EDT.

The luminous full moon represents prosperity, abundance, and healing energy.

This full moon day in July is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyasa who edited the four Vedas, wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata.

Our Gurus are to be honored and revered on this day by remembering their life and teachings.

The word Guru translated means: remover of darkness and ignorance.  In Sanskrit, “Gu” means darkness, “Ru” means remover.

Also known as Hay Moon, this day is also of great significance for farmers, as this is when the period known as Chaturmas (Four Months) begins. Farmers welcome the advent of the rainy season and the abundant life that the much needed water brings.

Drink some jasmine tea or infuse the air with jasmine oil, Jasmine has a special correlation with the moon.  It is a wonderful time to take a healing bath made with mineral salts and essential oils.

Guru Purnima is a day to illuminate our lives with knowledge; to be inspired, to overcome limitations, to recognize the abundance we are surrounded by, to be receptive to a life of wonderful possibilities.

It is a day to realize your full potential.

Celebrate and let your heart and your mind shine like the moon filled with love and gratitude.

You can find essential oil of jasmine at Nantucket Natural Oils:

https://nantucketnaturaloils.com/category.php?currentCategory=49&ProductCategoryID=50&page=4&Keywords=&StartLetter=

A lovely bath can be made with:

Masada Dead Sea mineral bath salts with lily and jasmine

http://www.amazon.com/Masada-Dead-Bath-Lily-Jasmine/dp/B0044V6LX6

Practicing the king of all poses. Salamba Sirsana or Headstand.

salambraSalamba Sirsasana or Headstand is known as the King of all Yoga Poses.  The reasons are many.   It affects every system of the body: the cardiovascular, lymph, endocrine, and digestive systems. It reverses aging, increases blood flow to the brain, regulates pituitary and pineal glands, enhances circulation and creates mental clarity and calm.  It allows you to literally turn your world upside down to gain new insight by changing your perspective.

Even with all of these benefits there are times not to practice headstand: You should not practice headstand if you have high or low blood pressure, any serious eye diseases, compressed cervical disks or neck injury.

When practicing headstand take as much time as you need.   The rewards of sirsasana are so great that even if you are not ready to do the full pose, you can benefit by preparing for it.  Whether you are just starting out in hare pose or working on a full headstand, patience is the key with this posture.   Just because you floated up with ease yesterday does not mean you will today.  Honestly assess where you are physically and mentally. The strength and concentration that is required may not always be there at first.  Breathe.   Pay particular attention to the neck, there should never be any pain; pain is very different from feeling challenged.

Becoming aware of the body and knowing when you are ready to move on to the next step is very important.   Headstand requires strength in the core, neck, and upper back, open shoulders and a flexible spine. To safely and properly prepare for headstand always make sure that you are warmed up.  It is not a posture to jump right into.  A recommended length of time for staying in headstand is 10 seconds for a beginner while gradually adding 5-10 seconds and working up to 3 minutes.  Always rest in child’s pose after coming down from headstand to give your body and the nervous system time to adjust to sitting right side up again.

It took me a long time to learn to do a headstand.   We all have “our thing” as I like to call it; our challenge.  Headstand was mine.  I suffered a head injury when I was 6 years old, when a lawn dart landed squarely inside the top of my head.  I had real fear of injuring myself while practicing headstand, a fear of placing any weight at all on the top of my head.   Slowly and consistently I worked.  It was a struggle initially; I found it difficult to breathe and I could only stay put for a few seconds.  All the talk of core strength seemed to go out the window.  When I made the move to try to lift my feet off the ground for the first time it seemed that I had none at all.  Every day I found time in my practice to devote to letting go of the fear.  And then one day it happened, I just floated up.  It wasn’t magic by any means, but a combination of consistent practice and determination.  Now, it is a joy to see the same thing happen with students who thought that standing on their head would never be possible.

If you are working on headstand go easy on yourself.  It may take months or even years to accomplish. It is the journey not the destination that is important here.  Be consistent with your practice and patient with your self and soon you will be embracing The King of all poses.

Yama of Yoga: Satya.

When I was in high school my mother gave me two wonderful little books of philosophy called Notes to Myself and How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather.  I read them over and over again throughout my life, his simple words always seemed to make sense, to calm and reassure me.  I carried the books with me until they were so dog eared and highlighted that they literally fell apart.  Even now, so many years later, his words are ingrained in my memory.   One of my favorite Hugh Prather quotes is:  “LIVE your life as if everything you do will eventually be known.”  Now that is a tall order.

Living a life based in truth is one of the Yamas of Yoga: Satya.  Literally translated it means truthfulness.  Practicing satya means being truthful in our feelings, thoughts, and words. It means being honest with ourselves and with others.

When we are honest we can be fearless, living life as an open book.  Honesty is at the heart of all healthy relationships. Practicing Satya in your words is a good place to start.  You might need to deliver the truth to a friend who desperately needs your input.  It may not be what she wants to hear at the moment but you can deliver those words in a supportive, honest and loving way.   Gossip and hearsay are a large part of this lack of truth in our daily lives.  If we were to think for a moment before recounting events in our day, being sure that the words we were sharing were absolutely truthful, we would probably have a lot less to say.  Sometimes, the truth hurts, so it is just as important to know when not to speak if it will cause someone else damage. This idea is stated simply and eloquently in the Mahabharata:  “Speak the truth which is pleasant.  Do not speak unpleasant truths.  Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing to the ear.  This is the eternal law, the dharma.”  Being truthful means that we must choose our words wisely.

Being truthful with ourselves is another aspect of Satya.  Becoming clear with who we are and what makes us happy.  This means we can let go of trying to achieve perfection and stop being so hard on ourselves.  We can let go of the desire to always please.  When you do things that are not a reflection of the real you, you cannot be happy with yourself.  You will become confused because you won’t know who to please or how.  Find the courage to say this is who I am and be okay with it.  Embrace your truth.  Don’t compromise yourself.  Many friends and relatives with the best of intentions might offer us advice.  Listen to them and then listen to your own heart, it will never steer you wrong.

Once you begin to act in accordance with your fundamental nature; the true you, you will find your intuition growing stronger, decision making becoming easier, and a sense of peace in your daily life. Making a commitment to truth is not always easy, but living without lies is ultimately very freeing.

Live in your truth and live a life of respect, honor and integrity.

Practice Gratitude

gratitudeHappy February.  Happy Valentines Day.

January is always a great time to take on new projects.  2011 began with the development of turning our current web page into a full fledged website.  The last several weeks have been filled with writing, organizing, and photo taking.   It has been very time consuming yet very exciting.  With the bulk of the work complete, I am now back on my weekly blog posting schedule.  We are looking forward to unveiling the Dharma Yoga Nantucket website in April.

Going through this process has filled me with gratitude.

You can PRACTICE living in a state of gratitude everyday.  At every turn we have that choice.  It is easy to focus on what we don’t have instead of being grateful for what we do have.  The next time the thoughts in your head start to take a turn, take a deep breath and ask yourself:  What am I grateful for?  By refocusing your energy and taking a moment to make a mental list, you will be amazed at how those thoughts of gratitude can change your mood and your outlook.  Take a moment to write down three things that you are grateful for and carry it with you in your pocket.  Having a tough day?  Take it out and read it.  This idea is hardly anything new, Oprah has been talking about the importance of gratitude for the last 25 years.  And well before Oprah, this concept is discussed in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali as pratipaksha bhavana.  Translated it means: “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of.”  The next time you feel overwhelmed remember that your thoughts have great influence on your outlook, think good thoughts.

Valentines Day is a perfect opportunity to take stock of all there is to be grateful for.  Some may call it a Hallmark Holiday, but who could argue with a holiday that is all about the celebration of love?  I was scanning the latest Valentine cards last week when I realized all the forms of love that were being celebrated.  To Sweethearts, Moms and Dads, Grandparents, nieces and nephews, sisters, friends, even dogs and cats!  Celebrate this holiday by letting those you love know how grateful you are to have them in your life.

Thank You, Husband. Thanks Mom. Thank You, sisters. Thank You, friends.

Thank You students, you inspire me.

Click on the link below for my Valentine to you.

You can watch it here:
http://vimeo.com/9820752

Yama of Yoga: Aparigraha.

Give Love.

giveLove
I love the holiday season.  The festive decorations, the celebrations, the coming together of the community.  It brings to mind one of the Yamas of Yoga: Aparigraha.  This Yama has many translations and interpretations.  One of these is “not hoarding”.  Meaning that life should not be about all for me and none for you, life should be lived by keeping what we need and sharing the rest.  This spirit of giving is particularly apparent during the holidays and it is always a joy to see the generosity that emerges.  We somehow find the time to give in ways that would seem almost impossible during the rest of the year.  We do it because it is Christmas or Hanukah or Kwanza.  We do it in the spirit of the holiday that we celebrate and the traditions we have come to embrace.  It is a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of.  My wish is that we continue to carry this spirit of generosity with us throughout the year.  Finding those moments to give when it would be so much easier not to.  Giving financially is not always possible, but a giving of your time and spirit is always accessible.  We all have so little time anymore.  Our plates are full and we are seemingly always rushing on to the next thing.  Giving of your time is one of the most generous ways to share the holiday spirit throughout the year.   It might just be 5 minutes as you pass someone on the bike path who is obviously lost and offering directions.  It might be volunteering for one hour a month delivering meals to the elderly.  It might be watching your friends children so that she can have some much needed time for herself.  Maybe one night a month you do the cooking for a group of friends.   We can also give of the spirit.   Maybe it is speaking a kind word instead of a harsh one.  Maybe it is letting go of your next silly argument and being the first to say you are sorry.   Maybe it is just taking the time to truly listen.

Find your way, and create a new tradition of giving year round.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday and a Blissful New Year!

A Holiday Gift Guide for the Yogi to Live By.

Part 3: Gifts to give for  Eating.

carols

Books:

rawfood
1.  Raw Food/Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow
by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis

sweetGratitude
2.  Sweet Gratitude: A New World of Raw Desserts
byMatthew Rogers and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra

cookEverything
3.  How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food
by Mark Bittman

Other Fun Gifts:

giftBasket
1.   Bring a basket of fresh vegetables and herbs to your next Christmas soiree.   Bartlett’s Farm has a wonderful selection of delicious organic greens and herbs.  Add in a few pomegranates and you have a living gift that any chef would love!

vitamix
2. This is the big splurge of all 3 lists, but it is an appliance that you will use everyday.  It is great for smoothies and soups, sauces and ice creams.   It guarantees that you will start eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and what could be a better gift than that?
Available at:  http://www.vitamix.com/index.asp or amazon.com

hamiltonBeach
3.  Hamilton Beach 67650 Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor. This is another appliance that I use everyday.  Starting the day with a fresh juice is a habit I strongly encourage.  This juicer is durable and afordable.
Available at: amazon.com

candlelitdinner
4.  The best gifts are those that are gifts of our time and attention.  Surprise the honey on your list with a romantic candlelight dinner  prepared by you.  Hire a babysitter and clear the calendar. Even if you are not a great cook, give it a whirl,  The love in the preparation will be readily apparent.

After all, that is what this Christmas celebration is all about, giving of ourselves and sharing our love.

A Holiday Gift Guide for the Yogi To Live By.

Christmas-tree-boat

The holiday season is officially here!  For the next few weeks I will be sharing with you gifts that no yogi should have to LIVE without.  There are so many choices out there for all kinds of yoga gear it can be overwhelming.  Enclosed is  the first of 3 lists of must haves.

The LIVE list:

Books:

1.  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Sri Swami Satchidananda

Yoga sutras

2. Mediatations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison

Meditations-from-the-mat-300

3. A Life Worth Breathing: A Yoga Master’s Handbook of Strength,  Grace, and Healing  by Max StromA life worth breathing

all books available at:  amazon.com

Pampering:

1.  Who doesn’t love a bath?  With all the holiday rushing about, there is something entirely indulgent and soothing about a good long soak.  EO Bath salts are a wonderful treat.

Eo bath salts
available at:  amazon.com

2.  In the blustery cold of winter taking care of our skin is a top priority.  The best way to retain the moisture is with an all natural sesame oil.  Used on its own or mixed in with some rejuvenation oil it will keep you soft and supple until spring.
Sesameoil16 Mo-men-women
available at:  http://www.mapi.com/maharishi_ayurveda/products/bath_and_body/massage_oils.html

3.  The Yogi in your life might be more inclined to start using a neti pot if you gifted them with a really pretty one; this one just might do the trick.

netipot
available at: http://store.chopra.com/productinfo.asp?item=484&deptcode1=

4.  Give the gift of Aromatherapy with a diffuser and a selection of essential oils

Diffuserelectric
Bottles

available at:  http://www.mapi.com/maharishi_ayurveda/products/vedaroma/index.html

5. Cozy and pretty  organic cotton loungewear  to slip into after a long day.

-organic-lace-trim-loungewear
Available at:  http://www.gaiam.com/category/apparel/loungewear.do?sortby=ourPicks&page=2

Happy Holiday Shopping!  More of the gift giving guide to come next week.

The 4 Immeasurables: Maitri, Karuna, Mudita, and Upeksha.

shoes

Today is my wedding anniversary.  I am filled with love and joy and gratitude.  And so, today this post is dedicated to love.  You can’t really LIVE without it.  Many of the principles that yoga teaches are easily applied to a loving relationship.  The word yoga itself means “to come together”; “to unite”; “to attain what was previously unattainable”.

By embracing the 4 Immeasureables as discussed in Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras, we have a wonderful support system that encourages positive attitudes and behaviors to create a fufilling relationship.

These 4 sublime attitudes are: Maitri (Lovingkindness)  It is a gentle, loyal acceptance with a deep sense of appreciation and regard. Karuna (Compassion) “ It is the intention and capacity to relieve and transform suffering, to lighten sorrow.” The Buddha described karuna as the “quivering of the heart” we experience when we are open and able to truly see suffering and are moved to do something about it”.  Mudita (Joy)  “True love brings joy, and mudita is the joy we take in the simple pleasures. When we love, joy seems to surround and pervade us”.   Upeksha (Equanimity)  “ It is the ability to feel  a connection fully, without clinging or possessiveness.”

Through these immeasurables we can talk honestly and openly without harm,  we can cultivate a greater awareness of our partner’s needs and put those needs before our own, revel in the simple joys of the everyday, feel a greater connection that allows us to trust that we are always with each other and that this love is constant.  A knowing that this love is greater than ourselves and that all beings are tranquil, happy, and aware of their gifts and accomplishments.  We in turn then feel interconnected to everyone and everything.

As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said:  “Love is the supreme blessing of life; love as love is universal.  Personal love is concentrated universal love.  Ah my heart flows when I say: Personal love is concentrated universal love.  The ocean of universal love flows in the streams of individual love.  What a blessing in life.”

Indeed.