Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Slowing Down Part Two

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are again considering the topic “slowing down.”

Hurry blocks our access to our deeper resources. One of life’s most precious skills is learning to slow down and live completely in the present moment.

-Eknath Easwaran

In today’s speeded-up ways of working and living slowing down is an important spiritual discipline. In the modern world we are conditioned to live faster and faster with no time for inner reflection or sensitivity to others. We are only beginning to see that speed makes our lives tense, insecure, inefficient, and superficial.

It is not enough to talk about this; we must learn to slow down the pace of our lives. To do this it is a great help to start the day early; that is how you set the pace for the day. Have your meditation (contemplative practice, ed.) as early as possible. Don’t rush through breakfast. Allow enough time to get to work without haste. At any time during the day when you catch yourself hurrying, repeat the mantram (your chosen word, ed.) to slow down.

In order to slow down, it is necessary to gradually eliminate activities outside your job and family responsibilities which do not add to your spiritual growth. At first you may feel at a loss for what to do with your newfound extra time. What we lose in activity we gain in intensity by learning to rest content on each moment. The British poet John Donne says, “Be your own home and therein dwell.” We can find our center of gravity within ourselves by simplifying and slowing down our lives.

It is essential not to confuse slowness with sloth, which breeds procrastination and general inefficiency. In slowing down, attend meticulously to details, giving the very best you are capable of even to the smallest undertaking.

Creating Calm in Difficult Times: Strength in the Storm– Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to create a “To Be” list instead of a “To Do” list. The “To Be” list is for this life. Be specific, something like “Be more sympathetic to Nathan and Megan” instead of something general like “Be sympathetic.” Revise this list as you use it, to make it really work for you. Be honest and put down only things you really care about.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, December 20, 2010

Slowing Down

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “slowing down.”

The disunited mind is far from wise; how can it meditate? How be at peace? When you know no peace, how can you know joy?

-Bhagavad Gita

Today’s mania for speed strikes right at the root of our capacity for an even mind. How often we find ourselves locked into behavior and situations that force us to hurry, hurry, hurry! By now, most of us are aware that compulsive speed - “hurry sickness” - can be a direct threat to our physical health. But hurry has another alarming repercussion: it cripples patience.

When we lack patience, even a few moments’ delay, a trivial disappointment, an unexpected obstacle, makes us explode in anger. We are not hostile people; we are just in such a hurry that keeping the mind calm is impossible. Without peace of mind, how can we enjoy anything, from a movie to good health?

When we go slower, we are more patient, and when we are more patient, we are capable of enjoying life more. All these benefits can come from just learning to slow down.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to slow down. Begin each activity with one gentle inhalation, followed by a calm exhalation.

When you notice that you are pushing yourself to complete a task, soften and be merciful with yourself. Inhale quietly and exhale gently, extending the very same kindness to yourself that you would extend to another in the same situation. Begin again.
-Judith Lasater

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, December 13, 2010

What is Really Important in Life

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “what is really important in life.”

One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

If you are determined to stick to what is really important in life, then from day to day you will see that the unimportant pastimes, the distractions that lead you away from your purpose, will gradually weaken their hold.

On the list of priorities, first and foremost is meditation. It will clear your eyes and bring the detachment and discrimination we all need to make wise choices. So right at the top of your list should be the resolution to practice meditation, and not to let anything come in the way.

Not even the greatest of worldly achievements will satisfy us completely. Nothing finite can ever satisfy us. Sooner or later, all the vitality that has gone into pursuing countless goals in the outer world must flow into one huge desire to discover the divine presence within. This supreme discovery is what matters most in life. We are all born to seek the supreme truth.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to consider how meditation or any contemplative practice can support you in uncovering what is “really important in life”. Will having a contemplative practice have the effects of creating peace, clarity and vision? The only way to answer this question is from your own experience, to practice. Work to establish a contemplative practice.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Inner Growth

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “inner growth.”

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

The modern world puts a high premium on youth. By this standard, retirement brings the freedom to take on a second career, or find fulfillment in new hobbies, or to recapture the pleasures of youth. But the last years of life spent in such pursuits are often full of frustrations and regrets.

By contrast, from a spiritual perspective, the second half of life is the natural time to turn from physical satisfactions to inner growth. These are years of opportunity - of continued growth rather than decline. This is the time when we need to concentrate on spiritual development if we are to fulfill our highest potential and realize our immortality. All the world's religions agree that death is not the end of life, only the end of one chapter.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to consider what it means to “turn from physical satisfactions to inner growth.” Ask yourself what steps you can take to develop inner growth? How can your yoga practice help you to answer this question?

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One-pointed concentration and Love

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “one-pointed concentration and Love.”

Familiar acts are beautiful through love. – Percy Bysshe Shelley

By giving full attention to one thing at a time, we can learn to direct attention where we choose. Simple, yet essential to the practice of love! Being one-pointed means we can give the person we are with our complete attention, even if she is contradicting our opinion on tax reform or explaining the peculiarities of French grammar. Once we can do this, boredom disappears from our relationships. People are not boring; we get bored because our attention wanders. When we can give someone our full attention, our attitude says clearly, “You matter to me. You have my respect.”

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to work on directing your attention to one thing at a time. Challenge the concept of multi-tasking and work to be present in whatever you do. In your personal relationships practice listening with full attention and when you wander away from being present, draw yourself back in fully.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Love

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Love.”

There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much.

- Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Our modern civilization is so physically oriented that when we hear the word hunger, we immediately think of vitamins and minerals and amino acids. It seldom occurs to us that just as the body develops problems when it does not get adequate food, the person who is deprived of love – or worse, who finds it difficult to love – becomes subject to problems every bit as serious.

This doesn’t mean just emotional problems, which of course are included. More and more evidence indicates that lack of love not only leads to loneliness, despair and resentment, but also contributes to the deterioration of physical health. When spiritual figures like Mother Teresa talk about our need to love and to be loved, the need is not metaphorical. She is not talking about some vague spirituality; she is talking about good nutrition. Resentment, hostility, alienation, and selfishness are deficiency diseases. You can have all of the essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals known and unknown but if you cannot love, you are not likely to remain in good health.

Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to consider where in your life you are being hard on yourself and not loving yourself. Then consider how you can develop more love for yourself in this area.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, November 15, 2010

Surrendering All

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Surrendering All.”

The ultimate attainment is already ours, but the experience of it comes to us only when we are in a state of compete surrender. In this case, "surrender" means the surrender of everything - every effort, desire, thought of attainment or, indeed, anything that represents the thought of any other - as we become centered instead. The person who is able to do this becomes a fountain of consciousness.

- Swami Chetanananda

The homework is to learn to let go, or surrender, through your asana practice. Let go of doing the final pose and let go of getting anything out of the practice. See where this takes you.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, November 8, 2010

Freedom

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Freedom.”

When our inner nature is truly free, we find within ourselves a wealth of treasure: love, joy and peace of mind. We can appreciate the beauty of life, taking each experience as it comes, opening our hearts to it and fully enjoying it. Realizing these qualities within ourselves is the greatest freedom that can be gained.

-Tarthang Tulka

The homework is to ask yourself: What is your inner nature? What does it mean to free your inner nature, to know your inner nature? and Why would the freeing of our inner nature lead to a "wealth of treasure?"

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, October 25, 2010

Discovering the Higher Self

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Discovering the Higher Self.”

The Self (Atman) that is free from evil, free from old age and death, free from sorrow, hunger and thirst and whose desires and intentions are real - that you should seek out and know. He who has discovered that Self and has come to know it, obtains all the worlds and desires.

- Chandogya-Upanishad

The homework is to define for yourself what it means to discover the "Self." What is your own personalized path towards Self-realization and how do your Yoga practices support you on your path?

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, October 18, 2010

Asleep, Awake, Enlightened

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Asleep, Awake, Enlightened”.

Yoga classifies individuals as "sleeping," "awakened," or "enlightened." The "sleeping" woman is not aware that she is using only a fraction of her great potential power. She plods her way through life in a conditioned hypnotic state as a prisoner of her ordinary mind and her five senses. She may be "successful" in all of the ways of the world. She may appear to be a woman who is "happy" and "satisfied" in the ordinary sense of the word. And yet, if she has not been able to perceive what lies beyond her senses and has not been able to transcend her ordinary mind, the Yogi will say that this woman is "asleep."

The "awakened" woman realizes that she is not using her great reservoir of potential resources. She knows instinctively that there are powerful forces available to her if she can but learn how to utilize them. The "awakened" woman is intuitively involved in attempting to contact and use her dormant power.

The "enlightened" woman is the ultimate objective of Yoga practice. She has aroused her latent forces and controls them; she has transcended her ordinary mind and is able to integrate herself with the Universal Mind. As such, she is no longer affected by the fears, anxieties, and weaknesses of people still in bondage to these things.

- Richard Hittleman

The homework is to ask yourself if you have fully tapped into your "reservoir of potential resources." Discover for yourself how your Yoga practices can help you uncover and utilize inner resources beyond what you are currently using.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, October 11, 2010

Toward Inner Freedom

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Toward Inner Freedom.”

The whole trend of modern civilization is towards external freedom. Free expression of opinion, free association, freedom to establish one's personal relationships on one's own initiative, and freedom to pursue a vocation according to one's merits are essentially needed for making life fruitful and happy. But external freedom, in the last analysis, is egocentric, and should not miss its spiritual counterpart in internal freedom. Inner freedom consists in the conquest of lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and sloth. A happy blending of reason and love can alone bring about this freedom and give meaning to all forms of external freedom. The substance of all religions consist in the achievement of this inner freedom.

- Swami Avyaktananda

The homework is to evaluate all of the aspects of your external freedoms. Without being judgmental look at where you are going beyond meeting your basic needs. Apply "a happy blending of reason and love" to your situation and see how you can create more meaning to your external freedoms and at the same time cultivate inner freedom.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Iyengar Yoga at Rushing Water Yoga in Camas, WA

Monday, October 4, 2010

Freedom and Happiness

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Freedom and Happiness.”

So long as we have not glimpsed our true identity, the Self or Spirit, we are enslaved to the mostly unsuspected habit patterns of our own mind. Even though our democratic ideals include personal freedom, we seldom understand that freedom lies beyond the well-worn grooves of our brain. Thus we settle for the kind of freedom that allows us to merely assert our ego-bound will. Real freedom, however, is living out of the fullness and spontaneity of the Spirit, without guarantees but with unlimited courage and wisdom. Yoga makes our realization of such unparalleled freedom possible.

- Georg Feurstein

The homework is to use the awareness that you cultivate in your Yoga practices to notice and observe your mental habit patterns - on and off of the mat. What is your true identity and how do your own mental habits keep you from recognizing it?

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Uniting Thought and Action

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Uniting Thought and Action.”

During the day do not do one thing while thinking of another. Thought and action must be unified - no thought be permitted without reference to actions or intended action; and no action performed without intention. By this practice all day long the mind and body are taught to act together, without any waste of physical or mental energy.

- Ernest Wood

The homework is to practice unifying the mind and body through your asana practice. Learn to be economical in your movements and actions and to be present by recognizing when your mind wanders from your practice. Apply this practice to your daily life off of the mat.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meditation and Freedom

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Meditation and Freedom.”

Thought is not the way to the new. Only meditation opens the door to that which is everlasting new. Meditation is not a trick of thought. It is the seeing of the futility of thought and the ways of the intellect. Intellect and thought are necessary in the operation of anything mechanical, but the intellect is a fragmentary perception of the whole. Intellect can operate only in the field of the known and that is why life becomes a monotonous routine from which we try to escape through revolts and revolutions - merely to fall back once again into another field of the known. This change is no change at all as it is the product of thought which is always old. Meditation is the flight from the known. There is only one freedom; it is, from the known. And beauty and love lie in this freedom.

- Jiddu Krishnamurti

The homework is to observe your thoughts throughout the day. Start to notice how the intellect operates through this observation. Try to be a witness to this process. The practice of witnessing can be the start of a contemplative practice like prayer or meditation.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Meditation is Drilling

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Meditation is Drilling.”

After a lot of sustained, systematic effort in meditation, we may finally succeed in breaking through the surface crust of consciousness. What lies below is the unconscious, which has many layers - strata on strata deposited by habits of thinking and acting, little by little, every day of our life. Drilling through these strata in meditation means overcoming limitations, all the obstacles created by self-will: the fierce, driving compulsion to have our own way, get what we want, stamp ourselves separate from the rest of life. The biggest leap in meditation comes when we run headlong and throw ourselves over the rim of all duality to land in the unitive state, where nothing is separate. This state is shanti, perfect peace.

- Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to notice when you have thoughts or behaviors that create the feeling of being separate from the rest of the world. Noticing when your self-will encourages you to entertain these ideas or actions is the first step towards taking the big leap towards unity.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, September 6, 2010

Watching the Watcher

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Watching the Watcher.”

Although we cannot really stop the presence of I-making, we can disengage a certain part of ourselves from it and observe it. And when we observe our thought patterns, we find that the conscious mind begins to change. A different sense of ahamkara comes into being - a different sense of "I" is watching, witnessing, dispassionately observing. Just as there are various levels of consciousness, so there are different varieties of I-ness, and now we realize that in addition to the "I" who is being the typical me, there is another "I" who is watching it all.

- Rudolph M. Ballentine

The homework is to pay close attention to all of your "I" oriented patterns of thought. Observe this I-making process so you can disengage yourself from it. Do not try to stop it, because who would be stopping it? The more we try to control "I" making, the more we reinforce the sense of "I" and the more we lock ourselves into the very process we are trying to disengage ourselves from. Disengaging can be part of the process of observing it. Then ask yourself who is watching the watcher.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, August 30, 2010

Surfing Meditation

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Surfing Meditation.”

When I am out there on the ocean floating on my board, alone with the wind and the sky, I'm excruciating aware of how small and insignificant I am in comparison to the awesome power of the water. It would be presumptuous of me to say that I surf the waves - in fact, the waves surf me.

.......Well, meditation is like surfing. If you push too hard and try to control your mind, you'll just end up feeling rigid and tight, and you'll keep wiping out as a result of your efforts. But if you hang back and exert no effort at all, you won't have the focus or concentration necessary to hold your position as the waves of thought and emotion wash over you.

- Stephan Bodian

The homework is to consider that idea that Yoga involves holding the mind in quiet place so you can be present with life and holding the body in a relaxed place so as to not invite disease in. Then use your asana practice to find the balance between just enough effort and going too far. Practice more holding and less controlling; more observation and being and less doing.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Thursday, August 26, 2010

One-Pointed Mind

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “One-Pointed Mind.”

When one learns to practice awareness and attention while doing even the simplest and most mundane acts of life, a great joy comes.

When water runs in scattered rivulets down the hillside, it hasn't much force behind it. But when it is dammed up and made to come through a narrow opening, it's power is tremendous. Likewise when sunlight is focused through a magnifying glass, that spot of light becomes powerful enough to burn.

So it is with our minds. A mind that wanders distracted, scattered, and inattentive has little power. But when its awareness is focused one-pointedly, it becomes so powerful that it can achieve anything. Such a mind gains spiritual power.

- Brahmacharini Nitya

The homework is to choose a task you do everyday and bring more attention and concentration to it. Choose something that is considered mundane like brushing your teeth. Build on this practice by continuing to bring additional attention and concentration to other mundane tasks eventually applying this practice to life in general.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Power of Concentration

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “The Power of Concentration.”

Concentration is like a diamond, a brilliant focusing of our energy, intelligence, and sensitivity. When we concentrate fully the light of our abilities shines forth in many colors, radiating through all that we do. Our energy gains a momentum and clarity that allows us to perform each task quickly and with ease, and we respond to the challenges work offers with pleasure and enthusiasm.

- Tarthang Tulku

The homework is to apply “a brilliant focusing of your energy, intelligence, and sensitivity to your Asana practice.” Then take this practice off of the mat and into your relationships. Without any judgment observe the effects.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Mind is Like a Bird

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “The Mind is Like a Bird.”

The mind is like a bird in a field, always pecking at and picking up something; what is important is that it should select wisely. All that the senses report is woven into something which tends either to destroy or to build up the mind, for the mind assimilates that upon which it dwells…..Hatred and fanaticism introduce qualities which coarsen the mind, impairing mental health; but selfless thoughts are pure, for they seek the well-being of all and unite the puny individual with the cosmic Mind, the mind of God, which rules alike the stars in their courses, the electrons in their orbits, and governs the emergence of the infinitely varied forms of life.

- Hari Prasad Shastri

The homework is to consider the fifth and sixth limbs of Yoga Pratyahara – refinement of the senses and Dharana – concentration as a way to help you select wisely and to build up the mind. Learn to apply these two limbs to your Asana practice as a training ground for the cultivation of selfless thoughts.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bringing the Mind Home

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Bringing the Mind Home.”

We are fragmented into so many different aspects. We don’t know who we really are, or what aspects of ourselves we should really identify with or believe in. So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home.
Meditation, then, is bringing the mind home…

- Sogyal Rinpoche

The homework is to ask yourself what it means to bring the mind home. To help you inform your answer sit well supported and meditate for five minutes every morning for a week. Practice just emptying the mind of all thinking. Observe what happens.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Mind Machine

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “The Mind Machine.”

The ordinary mind, being a machine, has but one function: It creates and then goes about attempting to solve problems! It enjoys this game and will continue to play it as long as you allow it to do so, throughout your entire life if it can. It is not concerned that you are suffering in many areas because of its games. You will come to understand through the meditation techniques that you are not your ordinary mind and that it has not nearly the importance which we attach to it.

- Richard Hittleman

The homework is to learn to take the concentration you bring to your asana practice into the practice of observing your mind. Try to be removed from your thoughts and act as an observer of the activities of the mind. Just observe without always following or believing what the mind is suggesting.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, July 19, 2010

Prayer and Meditation

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Prayer and Meditation.”

Prayer and meditation necessarily proceed from our ordinary experience of being a subject confronting an objective world. In fact, we can tell their effectiveness by the degree to which they bridge the split between mind and matter, inside and outside. Successful meditation and prayer lead to the state of ecstatic unification in which subject and object stand revealed as the same eternal Being. This ecstatic self-transcendence must be realized not only in special moments of isolated contemplation but also in every moment of active life.

- Georg Feuerstein

The homework is to remind yourself that Yoga is meditation in movement and that it is a preparation for a prayer and/or a meditation practice. In all of these practices the ultimate goal is to live the practice fully in daily life. Our work is to take the Yogic experience into our lives off of the mat.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Unimportance of Death

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “The Unimportance of Death.”

Death is unimportant to a Yogi; he does not mind when he is going to die. What happens after death is immaterial to him. He is only concerned with life – with how he can use his life for the betterment of society.

- B.K.S. Iynegar

The homework is to take account of your life and see how you can enhance your contribution towards the betterment of society.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, July 5, 2010

Death is a Beginning

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Death is a Beginning.”

Death is not an end, but a new beginning. Under the stress of conflicting passions and earthly desires, biological cravings and love of pleasure and power, is hidden an eternal stream of pure consciousness which is not affected by the law of cause and effect and which is ever tranquil bliss and freedom, real love and truth. This is the real Self of man.

- Hari Prasad Shastri

The homework is to practice Savasana.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, June 28, 2010

Beyond Struggle

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Beyond Struggle.”

Your work really begins when you release struggle. To let go of struggle initiates a change of vibration within you. This change puts you in touch with the flow of Life itself, which is essentially what you are. To cultivate awareness of this flow is your real work.

When you’re in touch with the flow of Life and feel your heart and mind open, you’ll note that a certain presence starts to assert itself. This presence changes your physical chemistry, your feelings, and your mind. It is the spirit itself, starting to inform you about yourself, about it, about Life, and about God. It’s a simple work.

- Swami Chetanananda

The homework is to learn to use your Yoga practice as the training ground to let go of struggle. When faced with a difficult asana observe when you start to struggle. Notice not the physical struggle but the mental struggle. Learn to recognize that you have complete control over the mental struggle and release the energy of the struggle to bring more ease to the asana.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Peace is our Greatest Gift

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Peace is our Greatest Gift.”

Peace is a natural mind-state in every one of us. Peace has been there since the day we were born and it is going to be there till the day we die. It is our greatest gift; so why do we think we have no peace of mind?

Experiencing peace is like looking at our hands. Usually, we see only the fingers – not the spaces in between. In a similar manner, when we look at the mind, we are aware of the active states, such as our running thoughts and the one-thousand-and-one feelings that are associated with them, but we tend to overlook the intervals of peace between them.

- Thynn Thynn

The homework is to learn to notice the spaces in between your thoughts. Use the awareness of your breath to help. Build on the natural pause at the end of your exhalations by gently and slightly extending the pause. Notice the quality of mind during these extended pauses.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Enthusiasm, The Secret of Eternal Youth

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Enthusiasm, The Secret of Eternal Youth.”

Youth is not a time of life – it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions. It is freshness of the deep springs of life. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul

- Swami Bua, age 100

The homework is to visit your ideals. Write them down. Edit them. Then with enthusiasm, live them.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, June 7, 2010

Inspiration

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Inspiration.”

The mind requires daily inspiration. The conception behind the word “inspiration” is “something breathed in from above,” not from the physical sky but infused transcendentally into a man’s mind: something good, beautiful and true, giving guidance to each individual in his walk of life.

- Hari Prasad Shastri

The homework is to make a plan for how you introduce inspiration into your day and map out the source of your inspiration. Then consistently introduce inspiration into your day. Work to make a habit out of the process be it prayer, meditation or something else.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Eyes of the Soul

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Eyes of the Soul.”

It does not require a large eye to see a large mountain. The reason is that, though the eye is small, the soul which sees through it is greater and vaster than all of the things which it perceives. In fact, it is so great that it includes all objects, however large or numerous, within itself. For it is not so much that you are within the cosmos as that the cosmos is within you.

- Meher Baba

The homework is to choose the contemplative practice of your choice and go inside. Meditate, pray, just sit with your eyes closed, whatever works for you. See for yourself what the cosmos looks like through your own eyes and from inside your own being.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Conversing with Nature

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Conversing with Nature.”

Smile with the flowers and the green grass.
Play with the birds and the deer.
Shake hands with the ferns and twigs.
Talk to the rainbow, wind, stars and the sun.
Converse with the running brook
And the waves of the sea.
Develop friendship with all your neighbours,
Dogs, cats, trees and flowers.
Then you will have a wide, perfect and full life.

- Swami Sivananda Saraswati

The homework is to take more time to be outside and meditate on the qualities of nature. Remember that just a few minutes of contemplative time is a good start. Try a walking meditation in LaCamas Park or somewhere else. Observe your practice so deeply that you distinctly feel as if you are part of nature and not separate from it.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Conversing with Nature

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Conversing with Nature.”

Smile with the flowers and the green grass.
Play with the birds and the deer.
Shake hands with the ferns and twigs.
Talk to the rainbow, wind, stars and the sun.
Converse with the running brook
And the waves of the sea.
Develop friendship with all your neighbours,
Dogs, cats, trees and flowers.
Then you will have a wide, perfect and full life.

- Swami Sivananda Saraswati

The homework is to take more time to be outside and meditate on the qualities of nature. Remember that just a few minutes of contemplative time is a good start. Try a walking meditation in LaCamas Park or somewhere else. Observe your practice so deeply that you distinctly feel as if you are part of nature and not separate from it.
Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Seeing Beauty Everywhere

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Seeing Beauty Everywhere.”

Yoga teaches that beauty is everywhere if one can learn to see it, and that complete concentration upon a beautiful thought, scene or object will result in relaxation of the mind and achievement of tranquility.

- Nancy Phelan and Michael Volin

The homework is to experiment with completely concentrating on a beautiful thought, scene or object. Sit in Sukasana supporting the thighs well and breathe normally for a few minutes and then bring into your minds eye the image. If the mind wanders from the image bring it back without judgment. Practice this for 15 minutes a day over a period of time and observe the results.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Embracing Life

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Embracing Life.”

You must learn to welcome consciously the most unexpected events of life, to be entirely transparent in front of them, without any motive, either right or wrong. At that moment avoid all judgment, for you do not know what law is in operation.

- Lizelle Reymond

The homework is to determine how to use your Yoga practice to prepare yourself for unexpected events. The Yoga philosophy encourages us to develop Vairagya or renunciation and detachment. Detachment requires total engagement and it does not mean you are uninterested. It involves freedom from passion, abstention and discrimination. Vairagya demands four qualities: disengaging and controlling the senses, carrying out one’s duties without thought of reward and acting with goodness and purity, avoiding desire and stilling the mind, freeing oneself from cravings.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Openness

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Openness.”

The openness to Life Itself that we cultivate frees us from a great deal of conditioning and many inherent, and inherited, assumptions...Life is not about answers. It is about learning to live in the middle of complete uncertainty, and doing so gracefully.

- Swami Chetanananda

The homework is to catch yourself when you start asking “Why” questions and direct the energy that goes into creating answers into being present with whatever is going on in that moment. It may be helpful to say to yourself that you are asking why questions and immediately direct your attention to the breath and/or to just letting go of all thinking.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Contentment

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Contentment.”

We must live in the now to follow the path to enlightenment. In the lower realms of the mind, where time and space seem very real, we are worried about the past or concerned about the future. These two intermingle and limit conscious awareness. A person functioning in the now is in control of her own mind. She is naturally happier, more successful. She is performing every task with her fullest attention, and the rewards are to be seen equally in the quality of her work and the radiance of her face. She cannot be bored with anything she does, however simple or mundane. Everything is interesting, challenging, fulfilling. A person living fully in the now is a content person.

- Satgura Sivaya Subramaniyaswami

The homework is to bring the same kind of attention that you use to maintain balance in Vrksasana (tree posture) to some of your regular daily activities. Try to be as present as possible while you brush your teeth or when you are eating. Work to bring Dharana, one-pointed concentration and Pratyahara, refinement of the senses, to these activities. Then work to generalize this way of being to everything else in life.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, April 12, 2010

Love and Nonattachment

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Love and Nonattachment.”

With love there is no painful reaction; love brings only a reaction of bliss. If it does not, it is not love; it is a mistaking of something else for love. When you have succeeded in loving your husband, your wife, your children, the world, the whole universe in such a manner that there is no reaction of pain or jealousy, no selfish feeling, then you are in a fit state to be unattached…

To attain this nonattachment is almost a life-work; but as soon as we have reached this point we have attained the goal of love and become free.

- Swami Vivekananda

The homework is to notice it the next time you experience pain, jealousy, or a selfish feeling. What should our response be when this comes up? If attaining nonattachment can take a lifetime of work, what is that work? How can our Yoga practice inform this process?

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rising Above Sex

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Rising Above Sex.”

You have to rise above sex – not struggle with it, but rise above it. Because, if you do not have an overall concentrated urge or ambition in life, then the clamour of these little senses becomes a great din in your life. Your life will always be under that clamour. But, if you have got an overwhelming urge for something else, then this clamour does not reach you at all because you are too busy engaging your entire attention in some other direction.

- Swami Chidananda

The homework is to consider the fifth and sixth limbs of Yoga: Pratyahara – refinement of the senses and Dharana – concentration. With the reading in mind consider how the practices of Pratyahara and Dharana can help you cultivate “an overwhelming urge for something else.” What would this overwhelming urge for something else be?

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, March 28, 2010

True Love Transforms

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “True Love Transforms.”

The highest understanding of Love lies in its power to transform lives, restore health, and bring about a sense of total well-being. It is the other end of the spectrum which is directed by desire – the limited, contracted form of Love – that has a tremendously destructive potential.

- Swami Chetanananda

The homework is to consider how your Yoga practice can help you develop more discrimination, especially as it relates to desires. What is the end result when we become more aware of our desires and evaluate them in light of their impact on our relationships?

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, March 21, 2010

True Love

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “True Love.”

We expect our wives or husbands or children to make us happy by behaving the way our ego desires. We all want others to make us feel important, wise and attractive. So we spend twenty to fifty years living together – expecting and demanding many things from each other – but this has nothing to do with experiencing our love and walking on the real spiritual path.

When we truly love someone, we love the Light within that person. The process of enlightenment is the path of learning to appreciate the Light both within ourselves and those we love, and seeking to allow the full expression of our Self as well as the Self of others.

- Swami Rama

The homework is to determine what Yoga practices you can use to start to appreciate your own innate goodness. Work on developing your own inner Light and then use the same practices to appreciate others innate goodness. Observe the external changes that are associated with the combination of the two practices. Notice if the result is the movement of this innate goodness outward into the world.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Monday, March 15, 2010

Love and Sex

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Love and Sex.”

Sex is a sensation. Love is a state of being, a lasting relationship which we can slowly make permanent. That is the deepest desire of all of us, to make this state of union permanent.

- Eknath Easwaran

The homework is to explore for yourself what it means to make Love a permanent state of being. Consider how the various practices of Yoga can assist you in this process.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Law of Love

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “The Law of Love.”

The most ancient traveler in the world is called love. Even before this earth came into existence, that omnipotent and omniscient power called truth expanded to create the universe because of love. Love means expansion. And then there is the opposite, called hatred or contraction. Watch what happens someday when you start hating somebody – when someone is not doing what you want, is not fulfilling your expectations. You contract your personality, you isolate yourself. So there are two laws of life: the law of expansion, and the law of contraction.

- Swami Rama

The homework is to notice the next time you start to go down the path of contraction – of not loving. The practice of Yoga helps us tune in more to our physical and mental bodies. In addition to the mental aspects of contraction start to notice how the process of contraction feels physiologically. Use this awareness to help you change your path of contraction to expansion – or love.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Reciprocity of Love

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “The Reciprocity of Love.”

For creatures who want to loved, appreciated, even adored, we certainly go about fulfilling our desires in a curiously unfulfilling way. Instead of manufacturing it ourselves in the little love machine inside our chests, we complain about not getting enough of it, search frantically for someone else to give it to us, and try to make ourselves more loveable by improving our looks or earning more money. But the truth is, the Beatles song has it right. The love you take is equal to the love you make. In other words, the most effective way to get love is to generate it yourself.

By cultivating caring, loving feelings you can actually provide yourself with the nourishment you seek. At the same time, by radiating those feelings outward to others, you can touch their tender hearts and naturally elicit the same feelings in them, creating a flow of love that keeps circulating between you and building upon itself.

- Stephan Bodian

The homework is to use your Yoga practice as the training ground to cultivate caring and loving feelings for yourself. When you come to class or practice at home remind yourself that you are perfect just the way you are and that you have unlimited capacity for Love. Know that committing to yourself through your practice is one way to build up your bank of Love.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Love is All There is

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Love is All There is.”

When there is neither desire nor fear, there is but love.

- Jean Klein

The homework is to look at your desires with the idea that all desire leads to disappointment and to look at your fears with the idea that all fear leads to suffering. Then cultivate the practice of letting go of desires and fears. Make a list of some of the desires and fears you are “holding” on to. Be honest with yourself. Let the list sit for a few days and then revisit it and see if any revisions are in order. Then choose one thing from your list to completely let go of. Say to yourself, “This moment is the perfect moment to let go.” Continue with this practice and all that will be left is love.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love, Sex and Beyond

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Love, Sex and Beyond.”

Ultimately everything boils down to whether we can love unconditionally. At least that is one way of describing the spiritual path.

What we commonly call love is often little more than a sentimental emotion peppered with a good dose of self-interest. The situation is still less appealing when we consider sexual love. In practice, sex and love can be almost mutually exclusive. Love is a matter of the heart, one of the major psychospiritual centers of the body – the fourth cakra. Sexual impulse is anchored by the second cakra which is located in the genitals. If we can engage in sex with an awakened heart, sexual love is indeed a possibility, but our culture deemphasizes the heart and overemphasizes sex.

Since ancient times, Yoga masters have recommended sexual abstinence (called bramacarya) during the first twenty-one years of one’s life. During this time, children and adolescents learn to properly harness the awesome power of the libido. Then, as adults, they are not ruled by the second cakra but engage in intercourse in a wholesome, balanced fashion as an expression of mutual respect and love.

For many people, sex is mere entertainment – a diversion from boredom and everyday anxiety and frustration. The problem is that it proffers only a trickle of pleasure, which cannot satisfy us deeply. We use sexual gratification as a substitute for real happiness.

Yoga is not opposed to pleasure, only to our enslavement to it. It also recognizes that the enjoyment we derive from our senses or the mind is nothing by comparison with our innate bliss. When we are in touch with our true nature, everything we experience is filled with delight, as bliss eclipses both pleasure and pain.

The Yogic path demands of us that we transmute ourselves at all levels. It is not enough to restrain our thoughts; we must also rid ourselves of negative emotions and cultivate positive emotions like love, compassion and kindness toward all beings. This involves regulating our sexual impulses and using that energy to fulfill our spiritual destiny.

- Georg Feuerstein

The homework is to explore your relationship to pleasure and pain on all levels.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Breathing Away Fear

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “Mindful Breathing.”

Breathing Away Fear

Let us observe…the way a nervous or anxious man breathes. Such a man does not venture to breathe out fully, he does not dare to empty his lungs and remain at peace until the moment when the in-breathing phase comes of itself. This is a symptom of deep fear and anxiety. When the lungs are empty an anxious man is in dread of the void, and he gives himself over to the moment of breathing in so as to recover his habitual feeling of life and a state of passing relief.

But in the case of a healthy man, that is, a man who is perfectly harmonized, in agreement with himself and the cosmos, breathing has a metaphysical significance, it is the symbol of the rhythm of exchange between the individual and his principle. Each breathing out expresses an entire surrendering of the creature to God and each inspiration signifies the return of the divine influx.

Between the two moments, at the moment when the lungs are empty, the unmanifested divine is approached. Thus we can see how fear hinders us from being and experiencing the formless.

- Jean Klein

The homework is to pay more attention to your exhalations in your Yoga practice and off of the mat. In Yoga Sutra I:34 Patanjali says you can attain a quiet mind by “maintaining the pensive state felt at the time of the soft and steady exhalation and during positive retention after exhalation.” (BKS Iyengar’s translation from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) When you are in a quiet place practice pausing briefly after your exhalations and notice the quality of mind during the pause.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Flow

Greetings Yogis and Yoginis,

This week in class we are considering the topic “The Breath of Life.”

Flow

When the practice of postures is combined with conscious breathing and deep states of concentration and absorption, prana will sometimes spontaneously “take over” the practice. Suddenly, energy will begin to direct the flow of postures. In these moments we may have a sense of effortlessness, of complete surrender to a force greater than ourselves. This experience can be surprising, compelling, and blissful. And, it appears, to be completely out of our control. We cannot make it happen. We can only let it happen.

- Stephan Cole

The homework is to learn to let your practice happen. While maintaining your effort and integrity work to connect with the breath more and through this connection to the breath allow your energy, or prana, to guide you. To take this practice off of the mat practice letting go of controlling life’s situations and allowing life to unfold.

Blessings,

paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington
417 NE Birch St., Camas, WA 98607
360.834.5994

www.rushingwateryoga.com
info@rushingwateryoga.com

Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver Washington since 2003

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Final Notes on India



Sunday, 31 January 2010

I have washed off the last bit of the Pune dust from my feet. It’s not really dirt it’s a dusty mix of exhaust, ash, and garbage dust. I have said my goodbyes. Home is the next stop. Mr. Iyengar says that we in the west are born into heaven and we do not even know it. I know it now. I have so much to be grateful for. My family, my friends, my work at the Center for Health Research, my Yoga practice and teaching, my food coop, my neighbors, my students, my teachers, my colleagues, my sweet quiet, clean little piece of paradise in the woods – fresh air. I have it all.

I did not really come to India with any questions nor was I looking for any answers. I have been blown away to see in person, to witness this place as it is. The pace, the poverty, the affluence. The west wants to be like the east and the east wants to be like the west. I wonder how they see us? If this is a race to westernize then we have more problems than I thought. The pollution and garbage is overwhelming. Where is the middle ground here?

I knew I would not find a bucolic place where everyone lived a mindful life based on the eight limbs of Yoga. Hardly. Yoga is definitely more popular in Camas than in Pune. I am kind of at a loss when trying to describe the feelings and emotions about being here and now about going home. All this week I have been ready to go. I have been kind of anxious. What am I running from?

One of my observations is about Iyengar Yoga. After seeing it at the source I am not so sure that that is what I teach. I know I can never have the depth of Prashant and Geeta on any of the relevant levels. But I did not really find very many similarities between how I have interpreted the teaching and how Yoga is taught here. I do feel that by experiencing the teaching here that my commitment to being a compassionate teacher has been deepened. And that is mostly in reaction to some of the harshness I experienced. The practice commitment is present but there is some kind of disconnect related to the teaching. Maybe it is like studying the mystical, spiritual, religious traditions and finding things that resonate with you and things that don’t. Maybe it’s about finding more of my own path and integrating the stuff that makes sense. But it has to also be about the stuff that did not resonate with me. I have to explore why and integrate that as well.

I’ll miss the carefree focus of my existence here. I’ll miss the sound of the sweeping in the morning. If two-stroke leaf blowers ever make it here the pollution levels will take a substantial jump. I’ll miss the food that Anjali prepares.

I’ll miss the people. Ah, the people. All of the loving sweet people I met here and who took me on. Srinath, the trekker, who called me Mr. Paul. What a sweet guy. I am sure our paths will cross again. Anjali and Arwind, my sweet and awesome hosts, and their children and spouses. The sweet guy at the Institute who hangs around the area where the shoes are. Sunil and Shubhanji and their awesome daughter Shraddha. The Chaiwalla boys and the soda boy. All of the people who asked me, “your country?” and who said “welcome” when I said thank you. All of the Indian’s who said one photo please or wanted to have their photo taken with me. The big smiles I received all of time and people calling me Baba, Baba. I truly felt welcomed and loved.

The best thing the trip has provided me so far is perspective - perspective on my path and our shared existence here. I am confident that I have only scratched the surface of what I have learned about myself on this pilgrimage. Kind of like my studies of Yoga – just scratching on the surface. Practice, practice, practice. As a shirt I saw here noted – Go In.

See you in class, in the woods, on the streets, at the coop, at work, or wherever our paths cross. I look forward to it.

Love, light and blessings.

pc

Thirteenth Post From India



Saturday, 30 January 2010

Geeta has been sick all week so the class last night was taught by Ria (sp?). Even though it was a restorative class my lower back was acting up. I got through the class but I skipped this morning’s class to give my body a rest. The class was fine. He is an interesting teacher. He often says, “That should not happen” after he has talked about what not to do for a while. I did get a chuckle when he used the metaphor in Savasana of the windows opening – like our minds – and fresh air coming in and cleaning up the mind and the room. Fresh air?

Last night when I got home Arwind and Anajli asked me to sit down like they wanted to have a talk with me. They handed me a package and said this was a gift for my mom. It is the most beautiful shawl. When shawls are given to older women it is recognition of their status and the wisdom that women have. They insisted that after I present it to my mom that I take a photo and send it to them. Nice.

I spent some of the afternoon at the Pune museum. I am not too big on museums but it was cool. It was my last trip with Nana. We said our tearful goodbyes.

I am off for my last practice session at the Institute and then my last night in Pune in general.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Twelfth Post From India



Thursday, 28 January 2010

I skipped the Pranayama class tonight and rested. I finally felt better later in the evening and went out to dinner with Grant. I am at the point on my trip where I will be doing things for the last time. Could that have been the last vegetable platter at the Ambience?

On my walk home my phone kept ringing but with I number I did not know. Since I get a lot of solicitations I did not answer. Then Heather called and said that Sunil and Shubhanji and their daughter Shraddha were trying to get a hold of me because they had a gift for me. When we had lunch at their place earlier in the week I mentioned that I was still looking for gents kurta that was simple but that had a little embroidery on it on the v-neck. When I answered the call we agreed to meet at my flat. They are so sweet. There they were – all three of them – with a beautiful black shirt with simple embroidery on it. They insisted that I try it on on the street and it was perfect. Made my day. What a blessing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eleventh Post From India



Wednesday, 27 January 2010

No classes today as usual. Just three more days of classes, a ride to Mumbai and then 23 hours of flying and about 8 hours of waiting and I’ll be home. I know how to have fun.

I practiced in my flat this morning planning for what I am going to teach next week. I am psyched to get back to the students and the studio – and the other parts of my life.

I had my final massage with Bhybu today. It was the Chavetty Uzhicull treatment – the one where the feet are used to massage. He asked me to sit in Padmasana. Very funny Bhybu. If there was one pose I was working on while here it was Padmasana. Let’s just say I have not completed the asana yet. Progress yes, completion no. The massage started out like Uzhicull the full body massage. Then Bhybu held onto the ropes on the ceiling and started to use his feet. It was like a dance on the back of my body and he used the same movements and motions as if he was using his hands. Same thing on the front of the body. It was awesome. As I said before Bhybu is the man. Vanseh (one of the doctors) took my picture as I left and they wanted to make sure I emailed them later to let them know how I was doing. Great doctors, great massage practitioners and sweet people.

A student of mine from People’s Coop is a big fan of Meher Baba. I was told that there was a shrine by the place I get my massages so I searched it out today. I wanted to place an offering for my student and take some pictures. I found it after walking up and down the street for awhile. That’s for you Harry.

I must look like a native now. I was talking to my friend Alex and had just told him that if he needs to get something done in India that I was his man. A school boy about 10 years old walked up to me and asked me where the train station was. I said two signals down, go left one block, then right and it is down on the end. He said thanks and walked on. Alex looked at me like I was nuts. I only know a few places here and the train station is one of them.

I have one more task to try and complete before Sunday. The whole time I have been here I have been looking for new blankets for the studio. Nana has been looking all over and we have not been successful. Time is running out but Nana is confident he can hook me up. I am looking for 120 blankets (they are thinner than the Mexican blankets I currently use). The Institute usually sells them but they have been out for a while. These blankets are perfect because they are cotton, they don’t have any bumps and because they are thinner they are more versatile. If I can find them I’ll have to have them shipped and that takes up to two months. The shipping cost per blanket is more than the blanket costs but it still ends up way cheaper to buy them here. It’s India folks!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Prashant’s class was exactly what we did on Monday.

Prashant Gems.

Learn that in every asana and every pranayama that the breath is different.
Resist taking a consumer approach to pranayama. Don’t think what the benefit is or what your next pranayama will be.
Resist being habitual in the practice.
Be creative when breathing.
Come up with your own vocabulary for the breath.

It seems like everyone I know or have met here that comes from the west gets some kind of stomach upset while they are here. Sometimes severe, sometimes mild. It’s my turn and fortunately for me it is mild. So today I’ll skip the practice session and rest and see how I feel about tonight’s class.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tenth Post From India!!



Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Today is Republic day. It is like our July 4th. Maybe there will be fire works tonight and a lot of noise. I’ll keep you posted. My host Arwind sent me the following text this morning:

31 states
1618 languages
6400 castes
6 ethnic groups
29 festivals
1 COUNTRY
PROUD TO BE INDIAN
Happy Republic Day
Gd Mrng

Heather and I were again invited to Sunil and Shubhanji house for lunch. Sunil and Shubhanji are good friends of Janet MaCleod’s who is a teacher of ours from San Francisco. Excellent conversation and food.

In the pictures below you will see my two body guards and the tent that they are guarding that will be for my going away party. We are a festive lot over here! And Baba must go home.

You will also see my expose on the curb and sidewalk situation. Notice my favorite curb – the one that is two feet high. Careful.

Notice as well the lake that is in my front yard. It’s kind of a private thing although I have been sharing it with all of Model Colony while I am here.

Check out Grant grubbing on the pink jello/jelly ice cream pasta nut fruit thing. He was resistant at first but he finally caved and enjoyed the treat. Of course he blew 20 Rs. on the thing.

Finally, notice Shivaji and the painted prayer.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ninth Post From India



Monday, 25 January 2010

A Trip to Northern Maharashtra

It was a lot to pack into two days. Lots of car time, walking, and not so good food (Anjali has me spoiled). No wonder some people here suggested taking three or four days to do it.

We left Pune at 6 am. The driver was Indian and only spoke Marathi, there was an Italian woman, a Serbian woman, a Canadian guy and me. The common language was sort of English although the driver, the Italian, and the Serbian only knew a little bit. Lucky we made it. There were some funny conversations or better said exchanges.

We headed for Aurangabad. A city of a million or more.

Our first stop was Bibi-ka-Maqbara – the “poor man’s” Taj Mahal built in 1697. A tourist place for sure but very cool. Bibi-ka-Maqbara is a mausoleum dedicated to Aurangzeb’s wife Rabia-ud-Daurni. Slide show below.



Our next stop was Panchakki or Water Wheel. It was considered an engineering marvel at the time. It houses a working grain mill powered by water, some sweet ponds and gardens. Baba Shah Muzaffar, a Sufi Saint, is buried here. Slide show below.



Our next stop was the Ellora caves. This is a World Heritage - listed site. The caves are considered the pinnacle of Deccan rock-cut architecture. Over five centuries Buddhist (600-800 AD), Hindu (600-900 AD) and the Jains (800-1000 AD) carved monasteries, chapels and temples into the rock and they are beautifully decorated with sculptures. The highlight was the Kailasa Temple which is the largest monolith sculpture in the world. It took 7,000 workers 150 years to complete. Absolutely amazing. Slide show below.



There was a group of Buddhists touring the site and they stopped to chant a while in one of the caves. Here is brief video of the chanting.

video

Next on the Western tourists list was the Daulatabad hilltop fortress – moat and all. The fortress is surrounded by 5km of big stone walls. The moat was cool and so was the spiraling pitch black tunnel that was supposed to help trap invaders. At one point I heard my Canadian friend, Grant, yell “Paul, Paul, Paul…”. He and the Serbian woman got a little behind in the tunnel and I had to get the guide to bring the torch back. Cool for a fort. Slide show below.



By then we were totally worn out and we headed to Aurangabad to check into our hotel and have dinner. We made it to the hotel by around 7:45 pm. After we settled for a minute I took off in a Ric to find a storage device for my camera. The one I was using only holds about 50 pictures (old school). I found a guy who directed me to a camera store and hired a ric. We barreled through Aurangabad and found the store. To lots of Indians we Westerners are like gods. The ric driver was no exception. He was great. A card that holds a couple thousands photos (4G) cost me around $23.00. The one glitch to the plan was that we included dinner and breakfast with our stay at our hotel, the Fitz. Dinner was pseudo western food and some fake Chinese food and buffet style. I am usually not one to complain but it was close to being not edible. This is on top of the “Smile Stone” where we stopped for “food” on the way up. Another case of “close to being not edible.” The Smile Stone is India’s answer to fast food rest stop style. I slept well and after holding my nose and having a bit of breakfast, at 7:30, off we went to the Ajanta caves.

The caves at Ajanta are all Buddhist. One of the coolest things about Ajanta is the paintings on the ceilings and walls. These caves predate Ellora. They were built from around 200 BC – 650 AD. The paintings are done in what is considered tempera. The whole layout was awesome - a horse shoe shape and the caves were stunning. There was also a set of waterfalls that were outstanding. Slide show below.



We headed back to Pune at around 2 pm. The drive was supposed to be over 7 hours but we made it in a little bit under 6 and a half hours. The driver was weaving in and out of traffic jerking back and forth. I am not one to get car sick but I started to feel a bit queasy. We had asked the driver to stop somewhere nice for dinner. He acted like he knew what we were asking. When we pulled into the Smile Stone I knew he did not get it. I could not bring myself to eat. Made it back to Pune at 8:30 pm and had the vegetable platter at the Ambiance Hotel. Yummy. Stumbled home and fell asleep after rinsing the grime off of my body.

This week the classes at the Institute are all Pranayama. Prashant stuck to this plan in his own way.

Sukasana
Rope Sirsasana / Chair Viparita Dandasana / Chair Bharadvajasana
Chair Sarvangasana
Supta Baddha Konasana
Supported Savasana
Sukasana
Supported Savasana
Sukasana
Savasana

At least for me it was hard to tell what he wanted us to do as far as the breath was concerned.

Prashant Gems.

Explore your inner speech. Develop your own inner language of body – breath – mind. Talk to yourself – do not escape and find something to distract your mind (friends, TV, etc.).
Be aware of all of the Maya (illusion) inside and out.

I took this to mean that if you can control this inner speech you can then control the mind.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Republic day and the Institute is closed. I think I’ll plan to do nothing. Amazing.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Eight Post From India!!!



Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Today my injuries are much better and I will be back to my routine on Thursday.

I heard from Grant that Prashant was encouraging the students to integrate pranayama into their asana practice. First he taught uddiyana in a few asanas and then what he called angi (fire) which amounts to pumping your lower abdominal in and out fairly quickly while in an asana. It was Janu Sirsasana that he was having the students work in. I think I’ll buy the class since I missed it and find out what was going on.

I received a call from state side today from my sweet son Ryan. He had good things to report and it was a blessing to hear his voice and get caught up. His older boy, Logan Paul, has a birthday next week – six years old. Amazing. Ryan was just six and so was I!

I had a slow morning. Went for tea and then walked around Model Colony. The shops are packed in and are about 10 X 10. The butcher shop had a part of a tree for a cutting block, a few butchered goats hanging there, and a few goats tethered outside. Right next store you can get your muffler welded. It is like Pune has grown so fast that many things were left undone and/or left out. Next door to a bank a group of women are pounding their clothes out on the sidewalk. I use the term sidewalk loosely. They stop and start, have big gaps and sometimes the steps to the surface street are anywhere from and inch to two feet. Walking takes active concentration. Oh yeah, watch out for big holes.

My electric razor that I use to buzz my head gave up. Don suggested that I go to the barber down the street. I think it was a gift that my gadget broke down. For 140 Rs., around $3.00, I had a buzz cut, head massage with coconut oil, and a face massage. The barber used a vibrating gadget to massage both my face and head. One of them strapped to his hand and he used this on my front and back side as well. For another 100 Rs. he offered to provide me with a facial. Maybe next time.

I have another massage scheduled with Bhybu today. The work he did yesterday really helped.

Srinath came by on Tuesday to give me a dvd of a movie called Secrets that he was sure I need to see. He gave me a tour of the gardens at Pune University. The campus is beautiful. The main building was built by the British and was gutted for remodeling. It is sometimes referred to as the Oxford of the East.

When backing up most cars here beep or play a song. I have heard some Christmas Carols but my favorite is Amazing Grace. I have never heard it played on a beeping horn.

I finally got back to my practice on Tuesday. I felt okay but was still only at about 50%. Hopefully my final treatment with Bhybu will heal things up.

I took the Tuesday Pranayama class. Here is what we did:

Sukasana
Savasana with two bolsters with the shoulders in between, head supported – to open the dorsal spine
Supported Savasana - Viloma on the exhale
Supported Savasana - Viloma on the inhale
Sitting Ujjai
Sitting Viloma on the exhale and on the inhale

The teacher was an older woman, maybe in her 60’s, and she was fabulous. She spoke slowly and clearly, made some good jokes and the class was smooth.

Friday, 22 January 2010

I am back to at least 99% based on my Thursday and Friday practices. It feels good to back in the game. Good timing because Geeta’s class is tonight and they are very difficult. I’ll back off a little trying to keep out of her radar.

On my way home from practice I saw a totally supped up Ricshaw. Check it out in the photos below. The driver was very cool.

When loaded into iTunes, some of Geeta’s classes end up in the Blues genre. What should I make of that?

Geeta’s Friday night class was awesome and had some fun to it – at least from my perspective. Backbends, backbends, backbends!!!!

Sukasana
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana
Urdhva Mukha Upavistha Konasana
Prasarita Padottanasana (concave back)
Salamba Sirsasana I
Hanumanasana in Salamba Sirsasana I
Virasana in Salamba Sirsasana I arching back
Focusing on the tailbone moving in…….
Urdhva Dhanurasana I X 6
15 minutes of moving props from the window walls to the middle of the room – absolute mayhem
Viparita Dandasana - legs bent X 6
Eka Pada Viparita Dandasana X 6
Another 10 minutes of mayhem as the assistants tried to get stiff people to get the posture. It was comical. During this time we cooled down to be prepared for:
Kapotasana
Bharadvajasana I
Janu Sirsasana
Bharadvajasana I
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
Paschimottanasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Ardha Halasana
Putting the props away at the window wall
Savasana

A good time was had by all – well maybe not the stiff folks who were getting forced into the poses.

Tomorrow (Saturday) I’ll be skipping class and practice and going to the Ellora and Ajanta caves which are out by Aurangabad. I’ll watch out for holes. This will be a two day trip.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Seventh Post from India

Saturday, 16 January 2010



I woke up really tired this morning and almost missed my 7 am class. Geeta’s twist class fired up my energy. Twists do not usually do that to me but there I was after midnight and still reading and wide awake.

Prashant’s Class Saturday the 16th

Sukasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana

Back and forth between…
Rope Adho Mukha Svanasana
Bharadvajasana I
Marichyasana III
Rope Sirsasana
Supta Padangusthasana I
Utthita Parsva Hasta Padangusthasana
Rope II
Supta Padangusthasana II
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (with Udonic breathing)

Janu Sirsasana
Savasana

He went over some of the basic stuff he has been talking about for two weeks and taught us the Udonic breathing technique. Basically it involves pulling the abdominal area in and out creating a sucking and squeezing feeling. Hard to do and still stay in the pose mentally and physically.

I plan on resting for the remainder of the day to prepare myself for the Karla cave trip tomorrow.

Monday, 18 January 2010

My trip to the Karla caves, Bhaja caves and the Lohagad Fort was incredible.

Angali, my host, gave me some sage advice as I left the house at 6 am for my day’s adventure. She said,”Don’t eat any sweets given to you by Saduh’s because they sometimes drug you and take your money. Just take the sweets, do Namaskar, and toss the sweets out later. Do not look any Saduh’s in the eye for very long because they can hypnotize you and steal your belongings. Take the train back by 6 pm.” Points well taken. It was the advice that her son had given me a few weeks ago that I should have heeded.

I thought I was taking the local train from Pune to Malavli but about 45 minutes into the trip the train stopped at Talegaon. I was the only one who stayed on the train and this kind sir asked me where I was going. I told him Malavli and he said I had to get off because the train was going back to Pune. He told me in an hour and fifteen minutes there would be a train to Malavli. Good to know. I walked into the village and had some tea. This was the first time I encountered a woman Chaiwalla and I saw women drinking tea. I ordered some chai and stood around sipping my tea. I think I was in the wrong place. It appeared as if the tea drinking was gender segregated because right next door there were a bunch of men drinking tea. Again, leave it to the clueless westerner to not follow the customs.

The trains have “Ladies Only” sections because men have been acting gross and groping woman in the regular cars. Too bad it had to come to that. Big surprise.

At Talegaon I met Amar Dongus who was a 20 year old engineering student. His English was okay and we had a fun conversation. It turns out he knows about Mr. Iyengar because his Guru’s Guru is Mr. Iyengar. He was excited about the connection. He introduced me to a few of his friends who were also engineering students. Nice young men.

I also met another young man who was going to Malavli and to the little village of Bhaja and he said he would guide me there. I rode with him on the train and he led me towards the Bhaja caves. He turned to go to his sisters and pointed me in the direction I needed to go. There is freedom in not knowing where you are and having no clue what is around the next corner. I had to pinch myself again reminding myself that I was in India way out in the countryside.

I continued to walk and was taking in all of the sites. I was watching a group of men laugh and converse on the deck of a pretty luxurious house and was looking at some construction that was going on. A ric came barreling around the corner heading right for me even though I was on the side of the road. I stepped back a little bit and ended up falling into a four foot hole. One of the passengers in the ric looked horrified as I climbed out. Kedar, Anjali’s son, has warned me to always look down to make sure I did not fall into a hole. I found my hole. A severely bruised left thigh, a sprained left wrist and a sprained right ankle were the result. I gathered myself for a minute and decided to forge on. I figured I could take it slow and since there were no broken bones I felt it would be better to move than let things atrophy.

I got to the steps to the Bhaja caves and asked this young man if I was on the right path. He confirmed that I was. I asked him where he was going and he pointed to a tall ridge across the valley and said it was the Lohagad fort. I asked if I could go with him and he welcomed me.

I was blessed tens times over by meeting Srinath Gopakumar. He is a 26 year old, masters in biology and general physical sciences, a snake expert, and a seasoned trekker. He often leads others on hikes and was checking out the hike for a trek he is leading next weekend. His last job would be my son’s dream job – quality control for Kingfisher beer. He said he had to go through about 5 beers a day as part of his job! We had the best time talking and hiking. All of his formal education was in English so his English was good and very formal. He told me of his plans to pursue a PhD in Germany and of the application process. He shared with me his interest in snakes and told me of the many he had personally handled. Personally, I think he should pursue a PhD. in snakes.

We made it to the top and walked around taking pictures and discussing the layout of the fort and how it might have been used. It was an amazing feat of construction and architecture. They had catchments areas for water and other interesting features. As we walked up the mountain he was hoping to see some snakes and maybe handle one. After we were at the top he said that today would not be the day for snakes because now it was too hot. We walked another fifty feet and I heard “Snake!” Turns out the day was a day for snakes. Srinath caught the snake and everyone gathered around him to view the snake. The snake bit him and everyone was aghast. He knew that the snake was harmless and he has taken it upon himself to help his fellow Indian’s overcome their fear of snakes. He said that when most Indian’s see a snake their first reaction is to want to kill the snake. He handled the snake for a while and then released it. It was a bronze backed tree snake. Srinath kept saying perfect day, perfect day.

We made our way down and had a conversation about religion. He is a confirmed atheist much to the chagrin of his family. They think it is just a phase. Given his biology background and what he told me I do not think it is a phase. Even though he is an atheist he is a very spiritual person. He is very concerned about the people around him and our environment. He expressed interest in being more patient, compassionate and loving in general. He said that once religion is politicized it because a dangerous weapon more so than nuclear power. I found him to be smart, sensitive, giving, a person of high morals and very loving.

Our next destination was the Bhaja caves. A short twenty minute walk up the hillside brought us to the caves. What an amazing piece of work. The caves were built in the 2nd – 1st century AD. It is hard to imagine how the work was done without our modern tools. The carvings are amazing. There were rooms all around the prayer hall. I called it the Buddhist hotel. There were water catchments areas that consisted of dug out caves that collected the dew. Nice work.

After Bhaja we walked back to Malavli and rested for a few minutes having tea and buying some water. I had forgotten my hat and my bald head was getting burned so I bought a scarf to cover my noggin. We took a ric up to the Karla caves trail head. More like a parking lot with all kinds of things for sale. It was another twenty minute hike up the hill to the caves. The place was packed with Hindu’s and a lot of them were covered in red powder. I was wondering why there were so many Hindu’s at a Buddhist site. Turns out that the Hindu’s built a temple right in front of the door to the Karla caves. It was like they kind of co-opted the place. There was tons of stuff for sale as we walked up. All the regular stuff for offerings, junk and food. These caves were bigger than Bhaja and had more details inside but it was a very dirty site and the Hindu temple kind of took away from the energy of the place. Like our “modern” culture the Buddhist had an unrealistic view of women’s breasts as represented in the carvings. Srinath commented that the carvings looked like they had had silicone implants. We made our way down and headed back to take our train to Pune.

As per Anjali’s instructions we caught the train before 6 pm. On the train ride out, there were hardly any people. On the trip back, the train was overflowing with people hanging out the sides. It was a super tight fit and we had to stand the whole way. Watch the video clip below for an idea of what it was like.

We made it to Pune and Srinath gave me ride on his scooter back to my flat. It was perfect because it is about a two mile walk from the train to my place and my injuries were bothering me.

Nana had called while I on the train and I called him from the station and told him about my injuries. Once back to my flat I called Heather and asked if she could get me some arnica for my injuries and some food. She jumped on it and helped me out. Nana also showed up and brought some Auyrvedic cream to put on my bruises. Anjali was also doing everything she could do to help me. I am blessed to have people to care for me while in India.

I had to miss class and practice today and it will likely be Thursday before I get back to it. I’ll practice on my own until then. The hardest part is getting up and down and putting my pants on. As Heather said, “Welcome to India Paul!”



video

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Rolling out of bed is hard too when your whole left side has been mashed. Things are better today. The postures that would cause me extreme grief are Malasana and Virasana – ouch to even think of them. In light of the hitches in my get-along I am moving better today. Tomorrow I will start to practice again. I am pretty sure I can do Adho Mukha Svanasana and Salamba Sirsasana because my wrists feel better.



The man in green worked me over today. Bhybu is the guy you want when it comes to Auyrvedic massage. I was scheduled for three sessions of Chavetty Uzhicull this week but due to my injuries we changed the focus to Uzhicull, full body massage with hot oils and Ela and Podi Kizhi which involves boluses filled with herbal leaves and/or powders and hot oil. The Kizhi helps with sprains and other muscle problems. It was amazing. After the full body treatment Bhybu heats the boluses up in a little wok with the oil and then dabs it on the tender spots and squeezes out the herbs onto my body and rubs it in. I felt better instantly. Bhybu is a master at understanding how much to do and when and where. Sounds like what we need to do in our Yoga practice. Two more of these and I’ll be ready for something foolish again. I did reschedule the Chavetty Uzhicull which is where the therapist holds onto a rope attached to the ceiling and massages you with their feet. It comes from a martial arts background and is described as the culmination of massage, Acupressure, Acupuncture, and Marma Abhyangam. This type of massage is performed for rejuvenation, vitality, lower back ache, Vatta Raga, to provoke Marma points, to keep the sputa dhatu in balance, to provoke the chakras, for enhanced blood circulation and to increase mental strength. I’ll get back to you as far as the above benefits are concerned.

One thing about going to AyurJoyti – Fab India is right across the street. Careful, it can draw you in and next thing you know you have yet another short sleeved kurta.

While I was getting through my emails today at the internet cafĂ© I heard these loud booms and what sounded like a marching band. I finished up and hobbled outside. There was Ganesh on the top of a truck being led by a marching band. Yesterday was Shiva’s day today it’s Ganesh’s turn.



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