A Balance of Roots & Wings: The Bliss of Flying Yoga

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children:
One is roots, the other is wings.”

 ~ Hodding Carter

      There’s a new a new yoga craze sweeping the nation: Acro-Yoga (which we call “Flying Yoga” — see below). Actually, this style of yoga has officially been around for nearly a decade or more already (click HERE for more), but it’s only in the last few years or so that it’s really taken off. Before that, it was known in yoga circles, but no one had yet made it into its own unique, identifiable, trademarked brand of yoga. In reality, it’s probably a pretty ancient practice, maybe as old as the circus (not to mention something that mommies and daddies do with their kids all the time!) In the world of yoga, it’s at least as old as the 1930s when the “godfather” of modern yoga, TVK Krishnamacharya, taught it to his students, who did public, circus-like yoga demonstrations to advertise the power of yoga to the world. Here’s a link to a Youtube video showing the master and his students practicing this form of yoga:

      So why did it take so long for this type of yoga to catch on, one might wonder? It’s so fun, everyone seems to love it. Well, I would suggest it’s at least partly because there has been some lightening up and loosening of boundaries in the yoga world, and this is probably a good thing. It also seems that when something gets trademarked, branded, and made into a system, there’s much more of a chance of it really becoming an identifiable entity in its own right, a household term.

       Before I go on, let me just say a little something about the name for this kind of yoga, and why I do not use the term “Acro-Yoga.”

       Personally, I prefer the designation “Flying Yoga” not only because I have never officially been trained in “Acro,” but because it sounds too much like we’re doing circus tricks. This isn’t any put down of the founders of Acro, Jason Nemer and Jenny Klein. No, they are well grounded in the yoga tradition, and they also acknowledge that when we are doing any kind of yoga, it’s really the inner work being done — the qualities of courage, trust, perserverance, patience, listening, etc. — that are really the most important, not necessarily what we can do. On the other hand, when we see a pose artfully done, or a move gracefully executed, we generally give props because we know what it must have taken to get there (however many incarnations — in this lifetime, or ones before!)

      I prefer the term “Flying Yoga” because we do really fly high when we do this kind of yoga, it’s so much fun, and even blissful (more below on this). On the other hand, perhaps the designation “Roots & Wings” would be even better, to highlight the fact that in order for one person to fly (the “Flyer”), the person who is assisting (the “Base”) must be really very well grounded to make it all possible! As it is with every “flight” we take in life — we won’t be airborne for long if we don’t have a stable foundation to support it!

My Flying Yoga Story

    Although I have been practicing yoga for the past 19 years, admittedly it is really only in the last 5 that I have gotten into Flying Yoga. Early on, I found a great partner in crime, my friend Ali Gardella (who also assists with our Yoga Teacher Trainings). People see us now and are fairly amazed at what we can do, but little do they know that Ali had to take many a one for the team to get to where we are now. Yes, she ate sand numerous times on the beach here in Naples as we were learning how to do our flying stunts. Ali, a grandmother of 2 has been a super flying trooper, always ready to try new things and No one would ever suspect that she is a grandmother!

     Ali also knows how fun it is! And yoga of all things should have at least a little fun to balance out the discipline!

     So anyway, you can thank Ali when I take you without a hitch from “Folded Leaf” into the “Bat Pose,” or have you stand and balance on my hands, etc.

    More recently, I have begun “flying” with another truly amazing yogini, Meenakshi Angel Honig, who has been practicing and teaching yoga for the past 4 decades, currently residing at the Spirit of Aloha on Maui. Angel is an internationally acclaimed yoga teacher with so much wisdom to share! It is a great honor for me to work together with her and we are really so blessed to have her joining us on the teaching staff of our yoga program at the Spirit of Aloha.

     I would also like to highlight one intriguing element in our working together: The fact that Angel actually experiences Kundalini Shakti through practicing Flying Yoga, which is why she calls it “The Yoga of Bliss.” She feels it has to do with the energy being released by pressure of the Base’s feet against the sacrum. [This makes perfect sense to me. Yesterday at Earth Day I spoke with a woman who believes her recent spontaneous kundalini awakening was directly related to her hooping practice, specifically by the pressure of the hoop against her sacrum.]

     Angel and I have already choreographed 2 Flying Yoga “peaces” (as Angel calls them), and I have posted the Youtube videos of these below. The first is a piece set to Josh Groban’s version of “You Raise Me Up,” which Angel chose as a perfect soundtrack for Flying Yoga.  I think you’ll agree it’s not bad at all for our first month working together, and somewhat sporadically at that:

The second “peace” Angel and I co-created is a Flying Yoga tribute to Whitney Houston, using her incredibly beautiful song from The Bodyguard, “I Will Always Love You.”

And here are two other “peaces” that Angel and I have created more recently for your viewing pleasure:

     I feel really good about the work that Angel and I have done together, mainly because for me it fulfills something that I have for a long time now wanted to do with my asana practice, which is to turn it into a work of art, expressing, as Rodney Yee has put it, the “Poetry of the Body.” And that is is just its outward expression, of course. Asana’s inward expression is greater awareness and self-knowledge, health, bliss, peace, freedom, and love of life. May it be so for us all!

Love, Allowah

For a nice piece on Jason & Jenny and Acro Yoga, click HERE:

Ayahuasca: The LSD of This Era

Ayahuasca: Generation X’s LSD

In the 1960s, recreational and irresponsible use of the psychedelic LSD led to the US government’s classification of it as a Schedule I drug (1966).   Up until that time, LSD has been the subject of much interest and study by scientists, artists, and musicians, who were considering its potential in medicine and the arts.

Drs. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert began studying LSD after being forced to resign from Harvard in 1963. While Dr. Leary infamously became “The High Priest of LSD” and was a proponent of LSD for the rest of his life, Dr. Alpert went to India in the late Sixties, found a guru, Neem Karoli Baba, and became Baba Ram Dass.

In 1971 Alpert, now as Ram Dass, published “Be Here Now” in which he told the story of how he gave Neem Karoli Baba a very high dose of LSD and “nothing happened” — it had no visible affect on the guru. The message to the hippie baby boomers was that they no longer needed drugs to get high; yoga could do the same thing or better for them.

Be Here Now was a bestseller and a watershed moment in the Sixties countercultural movement. In reality, it was part of a shift that had already been happening since the banning of LSD, as the Beatles disillusionment with it a few years prior reflected.

Ram Dass’ book was published right around the time when the Nixon administration created the Drug Enforcement Agency and began the “War on Drugs.” As a result, the next generation, the so-called “Generation X,” grew up with many anti-drug messages such as Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” slogan. Many of the Baby Boomers were now seeking and finding ways to get “high” without use of psychedelic substances. Some found it through running, others yoga, meditation, music and chant, biofeedback, breathwork, shamanism, and any number of “alternative” modalities.

Taking their lead, Generation X came of age in a world in which the excesses of the previous generation had been tempered by age and wisdom. In the world of yoga, a world I was introduced to in the mid-Nineties, drug use was very much frowned upon. Why would you use drugs if yoga (or another “alternative” modality) could do the same thing or better for you? This is the question most of the new gurus from the East had been asking their devotees, the largest percentage of whom were the flower children. Yoga, they taught, is about independence from any external substance, whether it take the form of a pill, a dogma, or a government.

And this was the reigning sentiment in the yoga world for at least three decades. For the most part, yogis were not drug users; it was considered a contradiction in terms, antithetical to the whole yoga ethic and ethos of declaring one’s independence from external tools and methods. I intuitively felt the truth of this from the very beginning of my encounter with yoga.

Yoga also was supposedly preparing me to be prepared for anything, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come…

Since the early nineties, the Amazonian plant medicine known as ayahuasca (also, yagé; prounced “ya-hey”) has entered the world stage like no other psychoactive substance since LSD, becoming one of the most widely discussed and even celebrated psychedelics (aka “entheogens”) of this era.   In the last decade, ayahuasca seems to be teetering on the edge of mainstream status, if not already exactly a household term, having now been featured by such major media outlets as National Geographic, CNN, NPR, and even showing up in Hollywood films such as Wanderlust and While We’re Young.

In the yoga world, of which I have been a keen observer over the last 20 years, ayahuasca has definitely made its presence known. Based on my observations, there are as many Generation X yogis now who have tried ayahuasca as not, and a good percentage of those who have partaken have done it more than once. Certainly those of the older, Baby Boomer generation that I have approached about this have had mixed views, but more often than not, they have at least been somewhat sympathetic, if not actual participants. Some highly regarded yoga professionals have confided to me that they have used the Amazonian plant medicine in the tens and even hundreds of times, and not because it didn’t work the first time.   Mind you, these are some of the biggest names in the yoga world, with a considerable influence that would be difficult to estimate. (Others, like Grammy-nominated kirtan wallah Jai Uttal, whose wife is Brazilian, told me in an interview that he has turned down the invitation to ceremony many times; it’s not his path.)

To be sure, there is still considerable tension and debate about this in the wide world of yoga, as there is in the broader society where ayahuasca and other psychoactive substances are still illegal in most places. It’s not only the legal status that has created a kind of rift in opinion; again, it’s also the ever-present question as to whether a psychoactive substance could ever be fully embraced in a community that prides itself on self-reliance and to being to large extent anti-drug.

Growing up in the era of the War on Drugs and the son of a father of the Greatest Generation who was adamantly opposed to drugs and alcohol, I steered clear of all substances for the first 35 years of my life. About 10 years ago now, I cautiously began to explore various substances of which ayahuasca was only one, but the most significant for me. What I experienced from it was remarkable and very useful on my life’s journey. It was also somewhat terrifying and left me with a new set of questions and issues with which to confront.

My fascination led me to begin writing a book on the subject of “yoga and psychedelics,” as I continued to attend various ayahuasca ceremonies and speak with people about it, including elders and shamans. Nearly a decade later, I am about to publish my book, with the intention of inspiring greater awareness and a public dialogue on the issues involved, particularly in the yoga community. My sense is that because I equate yoga more broadly with “spirituality,” many people will find the book interesting as it touches on the most universal and fundamental issues that we all deal with, whether we do yoga or psychedelics, or not.

The book, “Who Am I? Yoga, Psychedelics & The Quest for Enlightenment” will be available on Amazon in early 2016.

       Selected Resources

1) National Geographic Article

 2) Ayahuasca on National Public Radio:

        “Window Into the Soul”

           & UDV Controversy

 3) Lisa Ling’s CNN Report on Ayahuasca

4) New York Times Article (2015)

5) LA Weekly Report on Ayahuasca in Hollywood and Contemporary Music

 6) Article in Huffington Post on Ayahuasca as a Potential Treatment for Depression

 7) Five Ayahuasca-related documentaries worth seeing: 1) Vine of the Soul; 2) DMT: The Spirit Molecule; 3) The Sacred Science; 4) Neurons to Nirvana; 5) Metamorphosis .

 8) Ayahuasca in Hollywood movies: Wanderlust & short piece on Ayahuasca in Hollywood

9) One of the best books on ayahuasca: Jeremy Narby’s The Cosmic Serpent.

10) My own most recent piece for Reality Sandwich: Yoga, Ayahuasca, & A Course in Miracles

 Allowah is a yogi philosopher who currently resides primarily in Southwest Florida.   Over the past decade, he has written various pieces on the subject of yoga & plant sacraments (aka “psychedelics), most of which have been featured on the Reality Sandwich website.   He has a BA in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Liberal Arts, and is a registered yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance. He can be contacted at allowah13@gmail.com.

The Cult of the Hugging Saint Re-examined

The Cult of the Hugging Saint Re-examined:
Towards an Inner Dialogue

“People have different opinions and they have the freedom to express them. Those with sharper intellects can prove or disprove many things. However, their statements may not necessarily be the truth. The more intellectual you are, the more egoistic you are. For such a person, surrendering is not so easy. The experience of God will not become a reality unless the ego is surrendered. …If somebody claims that a Guru’s guidance is not necessary in the path to God, such a person, Amma feels, is afraid to surrender his or her ego. Or maybe they themselves crave to be a guru.”
~ Ammachi

“Do not believe something just because I tell you. Question everything.”
~The Buddha [said something like that]

This essay will attempt to clear up some confusion in regard to one of the most remarkable spiritual teachers of our time, Mata Amritanandamayi, familiarly known as “Ammachi”(aka “The Hugging Saint”). I write this partly for myself, to get my thoughts down on paper, and also for those on both sides of the growing debate/controversy surrounding who is now perhaps India’s most highly regarded living saint.

      In writing this, I do not wish to make anyone wrong, and am in fact coming from a space of some doubt and confusion myself, having now pretty thoroughly explored much of what has been said on both sides and finding there to be room for pause from all that has been written. What I do want to do is to suggest that we deeply listen to what everyone is saying rather than immediately putting the other side down, delete them from the message board, not really confront their points, or completely ignore them. I feel that most everyone, regardless of whether they take to spirituality or not, can agree that truth is best revealed through respectful and open dialogue, rather than deprecating diatribes. I would also suggest that if we are thinking or writing about these things at all, and especially if we strongly take a side, we’re most likely secretly confused and we might do well to question our own answers.

     I also feel it’s appropriate to reveal that I’m writing this at about 3 am during Devi Bhava at Ammachi’s San Ramon ashram, 2014. Earlier this evening I spent a couple of hours going through a number of the pieces written online, including the Rolling Stone exposé (from 2012), as well as Ron Rattner’s essays, Gail Tredwell’s revelations, etc. I also wrote out a lengthy question to ask Ammachi, the gist of which I will touch upon in a moment.

    The next revelation is that I wouldn’t have gotten into yoga as I did were it not for Ammachi. When I first was introduced to yoga in the mid-nineties, I met a number of gurus, swamis and yogis and Ammachi was like the gold standard for me by which I measured all the rest. Why? Well, at that time, it seemed that Ammachi had it all and was pretty much beyond reproach in my book. I couldn’t comprehend who she was and what she was doing, the superhuman energy she displayed day in and day out in selfless service to the world, hugging literally tens of thousands of people each week, with very little food and sleep, never seeming to waver or flag in her seva, her selfless service. To this day, apparently, she has never had to miss a day due to illness. That’s in 30+ years…pretty incredible, no? What’s that all about?

     If Jesus’ oft-quoted maxim “by their fruits ye shall know them” means anything, and it certainly did to me back at the beginning (and still does), Ammachi had demonstrated unequivocally that she was putting all of her life force into the service of humanity, setting up countless charitable organizations, schools, disaster relief initiatives, traveling the world tirelessly, etc.

The first thing I would point out is something I read from a devotee early on, to the effect that she thought she was such a “good person” until she met Ammachi. Meaning that being around Ammachi showed how far she had to go in terms of embodying love in every moment, as Ammachi appears to do to the nth degree. That statement stood out in particular because it was also true of my experience – I really thought I was hot stuff until meeting Ammachi. I realize that a skeptic or “ex-Amma” might jump in at this point and say, well, you are hot stuff! You are also a superstar, no different than Ammachi! You would also have her energy and love if you had all of those people adoring you, and your job was to run a multi-billion dollar business based on love. You’d have to rise to the occasion. Maybe so, yet the fact is, I am not in Ammachi’s position, nowhere close to it, and neither are her detractors.

     So the phenomenon of “sour grapes” and jealousy obviously can come into play here, and it is at this point that I feel we must deeply consider our ulterior motives in attacking Ammachi, or anyone for that matter. Is the attack (even if it is not couched in such extreme terms) really coming from a deep desire to help or save people from a brainwashing cult that abuses its members and what have you; or is it in fact coming from a desire to be seen as the hero, the whistleblower, or even the victim, because Ammachi is revered by millions and you are not? Or maybe it’s because you dropped your yoga practice and are trying to rationalize or justify it to yourself? And so on.

     Let’s not stop there, though, yet let’s also deeply and just as fairly consider the other side of the coin. What might be considered jealousy or sour grapes might in actuality be emanating from a real desire to save people from someone who has been called a “false guru,” “energy vampire,” “antichrist,” and perhaps worse. Let’s consider that maybe Ammachi is “on top” so to speak because she ruthlessly knocked out most of the competition.

     This is not an entirely hypothetical musing. The summer I met Ammachi, I also met Karunamayi, another South Indian “Amma,” who some of Ammachi’s devotees were going to see to receive darshan until Ammachi put a definite stop to that! Her followers were not going to see another Amma! She apparently even went so far as to sign her name to a document saying that if Karunamayi were allowed to even use the same venue as her, she would find somewhere else to give her programs. Then I heard that she put down Karunamayi as not the highest guru. This all shook me when I first heard about it, and started to put a crack in the picture I had of Ammachi (and ultimately not going back for 14 years). And of course, in the last 14 years or so, much more shocking allegations have come to light about the disturbing underbelly on what on the public surface looks like such an above board organization. We’re talking about physical, psychological, and sexual abuse allegations, some of them pretty much confirmed, as well as misappropriation of funds, and even intimations that Ammachi’s movement has offed people who don’t toe the party line. Pretty horrendous sounding stuff, not all of it proven, and probably much of it not true. Yet it seems that some of it is true and yet is being officially denied by Ammachi’s organization, including we must suppose, by Ammachi herself.

     Again, though, how we see all of this kind of depends on what stake we have in Ammachi being either an avatar or a fraud. If we have some stake in the former, we’ll find a way to see Ammachi as an avatar. If we are invested in the latter, we’ll have no problem showing how Ammachi is a fraud. Where does the truth lie? Perhaps, as usual, somewhere in between.

Her defenders will say things like, “Well, if she’s an avatar, then she can make it look like that to test people to look beyond the surface appearances, as well as to test the faith of her devotees. Perhaps there are really stubborn blockages there that can only be dislodged by certain shock and awe tactics, what has been termed “crazy wisdom” teachings? Perhaps her “tough love” is exactly what is needed to completely blow their mind and bring them into an enlightened state? How/who are we to judge? And every major figure is going to have their enemies and detractors, it’s just a fact of life. As far as the public denial that these things ever happened, well, there is a “greater good” being served by Ammachi’s organization running than not, and the tough karmic lessons were confined to a few close disciples – why should they be allowed to bring the whole blessed enterprise down with them? And again, who is to judge?

       That’s the defense. Now those against Ammachi will come and say that there’s a real slippery slope if we go that route because then the guru can really abuse their power and do anything they like, justifying it by saying “I’m the boss, my word is queen, and you just have to deal with it and learn your lessons,” and if they get away with it, they might abuse their power even more. Towards the end of his life, there were a number of people also trying to take down South India’s other great guru of this era, Satya Sai Baba, mainly for faking his materializations and miracles, but even more damning, for the number of reports that were being posted on the internet accusing him of pedophilia. Again, supporters said that because of who he was, he could do whatever he wanted and it was all never so he could get his jollies but to serve the greater spiritual evolution of his devotees, perhaps especially to test or reveal their level of faith and detachment. Meanwhile, his detractors again used the argument that a true guru would never commit such adharmic (non-lawful and unrighteous) for any reason, even to test their followers.

     Perhaps at this point you, like me, are sensing the limits of rational thinking here, and that if we truly honestly consider both sides of this issue, we will be left in a state of stalemate, not being able to offer a definitive 100% sure conclusion either way. And it is here that we come to what seems to be an essential part of the spiritual path, and that is what we know as “faith,” which is where reason leaves off and a humble sense of “I don’t know” begins. Yet before we leap with loveblind faith, there are certain things we can do first to help decide for ourselves which way to go…

      More than a century ago, Harvard professor William James came up with the philosophy of pragmatism, which essentially says, “What Works?” Does it work for you? Then do it! And if doesn’t work for you, then don’t! And I would add, if you see something is working for someone else, be very careful before you attempt to burst their bubble, because what they believe may be very useful to them at that moment! And that said, they also might be very grateful to you for bursting their bubble, so it can go either way (you might want to propose a “spoiler alert” first 😉 Yet in the end, it’s really our choice to have our bubble burst or not – if it happens, we’ve opened ourselves and allowed it.

     The other thing I would say is that exploring other religions and paths has, for me, definitely strengthened my faith in Ammachi and what she is offering the world. For one thing, her teachings are very simple, clear, able to encapsulate the most profound and universal spiritual teachings. And they are ultimately in accord with Advaita Vedanta – the philosophy that all is One, and that we are all and have always been one with what many call God (or Spirit, Source, etc). Vedanta has been confirmed and re-affirmed not only by the teachings of the Vedas, Upanishads, and countless sages past and present (including from other traditions, such as Rumi, Meister Eckhart, et.), but also by other contemporary revealed scriptures such as a new favorite of mine, A Course in Miracles. Furthermore, if I had never done an ayahuasca session, I wouldn’t have been able to fully grok some of Ammachi’s teachings (if they truly are her’s, and not ghost written), such as the following:

“ Spirituality is not a journey forward, it is a journey backward. We return to our original source of existence. In that process, we have to pass through the layers of emotions and vasanas [tendencies] that have accumulated so far. That is where the pain comes from, not from outside. By going through those layers with an open attitude, we are, in fact, crossing over and transcending them, which will ultimately take us to the abode of supreme peace and bliss.”

     Actually, meditation showed me the truth of this statement early on (and I wouldn’t have really gotten as deeply into meditation were it not for teachers like Ammachi), but working with ayahuasca took it that much deeper.

So in other words, I now have for myself outside confirmation of what Ammachi is teaching, and at this moment, sitting in her presence and in this beautiful gathering, I will say that even if there are some things in Ammachi’s movement that are red flags, it yet seems wise to see things in the context of the big picture and the “spiritual fruits” that Ammachi and her followers have offered the world.

      All that said, it ultimately does come down to faith: Is Ammachi truly an Avatar, God in human form who can lead us through those deeper levels of our unconsciousness that are so difficult to access and navigate on our own; or is she actually a false guru who has come to enslave her followers (and the world, too), keeping them as far from enlightenment as possible so that she can win all the glory for herself? All I can say is, the choice is yours. My point here has mainly been to suggest that we all really examine our own motives, our own stake in all of this, and from that place of complete self-honesty and transparency, decide whatever we decide. That requires some real introspection, the hallmark of the spiritual path.

     For myself, what works for me is to remain in a position of open-endedness, and to also be primarily focused on working out my own salvation, without over-reliance on external teachers. Despite the traditional yoga teaching that one has to have a guru in order to reach enlightenment, it seems this is not necessarily the case for everyone. Even Ammachi herself has said the following:

“Amma doesn’t force anything on anyone. For those who have the unshakeable faith to see every single situation, both negative and positive, as a message from God, an external Guru is not necessary.”

Ammachi, however, goes on to ask rhetorically:

“But how many people have that determination and strength?”

Indeed, how many? Do I truly have that ability, or am I fooling myself?

Sources

1) Rolling Stone article, “Cult of the Hugging Saint.” http://www.theyogablog.com/controversial-rolling-stone-article-on-amma/ . This blog entry provides a link to the original RS article, plus the blog author’s commentary.

2) Ron Rattner, Silly Sutra Website, particularly the piece: http://sillysutras.com/other-teachers-mata-amritanandamayi-ammachi-rons-memoirs/. I first learned through a friend of Ron’s break with Ammachi; this was in the late nineties, some 15 years before he went public with his grievances.

3) Gail Tredwell. Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness. http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Hell-Memoir-Devotion-Madness/dp/0989679403

4) Official and Other Responses to the Tredwell book: https://ammascandal.wordpress.com/tag/holy-hell/

5) Amma.org. Official Ammachi website.

6) Bronte Baxter, “Blowing the Whistle”: http://brontebaxter.wordpress.com/blowing-the-whistle-chpt-9-amma-the-mother-saint-hugging-away-your-personhood/

7) Letters to the Mother: http://letterstothemother.com/tag/ex-amma/

8) Jovan Jones website: One of Ammachi’s biggest critics. I met her when she was still a devotee of Ammachi in the mid-90s. She wrote “Chasing the Avatar,” a mainly non-fiction account of her time with Ammachi.

9) Article quotations of Ammachi are from the book “From Amma’s Heart,” written and edited by Swami Amritaswarupananda.

Is the Age of the Traditional Guru Over?

Hindu--Amma_Amritanandamayi_hugging_woman_SF_Yoga_Center_first_public_darshan_May_1987

Here’s a Facebook thread on this issue posted around 12/21/12.  Here is the question I posed to my online community of students:

Question: Is the age of the traditional guru nearing an end? Is 12/21/12 the beginning of a new era in which we will finally free ourselves of what we thought was our liberation, but was really only our enslavement? Please take a few moments to read the following, written by a western woman who was Ammachi’s personal attendant for 20 years and who is only now beginning to speak out about her experience: http://blogdesinfideles.blogspot.com/2012/02/lombre-damma-fait-surface-gayatri-et.html (It’s in French and English). I post this because Ammachi was one of the biggest reasons for my getting on the yoga path in the first place. I have no set opinions myself about all of this, I am just bringing it up for us all to be aware of…

NOTE: PLEASE READ THE RESPONSE BY “RAM DAS” TO WHAT GAIL WROTE.

After deeply considering all of this, here is what I subsequently wrote on Facebook:

  • I have brought this to light after years of looking into this issue, and having read many of the firsthand accounts of those who claim to have been abused by their gurus, or the organizations inspired by them. There are not many gurus who have not had some claims brought against them, and while some of them are minor, many of them are quite serious.
           That said, my own feeling right now, based upon my own experience — and I realize this might not be the popular point of view — is this: It could be that those who are saying now to “be your own Guru” and the “True Guru is within you” are enabling the masses to remain somewhat asleep to their highest potential? It could be that those who buy into this line of thinking are actually wanting to not fully face their own deepest fears/nightmares.
         The Guru is the one who brings light to the darkness — to the darkness generally that we can’t see, because we are hiding from its presence within ourselves. We are just not ready for it yet! My teacher, Karunamayi, spoke to us all as “spiritual babies” doing our baby meditation and other practices, and her point was also that most if not all of us were just not ready to sit still and face ourselves, to see the ego for what it is. I can see that I left my own teachers due to ego, and that I was not ready to go deeper once the initial honeymoon period of blissful spiritual experiences and divine seduction was over and I began to see the darker underside of things. It was too much for me. I bolted.
          Perhaps the greatest fear on the spiritual path is that we are asked to put 108% faith in this person, and we see that they are human, too, like us, and we feel: “Where is this all going? Where are you taking me? Is my mind being controlled, and will I be your eternal slave?” That’s “the horror, the horror” as I see it, and in the case of Ammachi’s attendant, Gail, on top of all of that she saw some of the seemingly ugliest abuses and violations that would make even the most devoted person seriously question their teacher. I can see how this might just have all been a great test for her — the greatest of all tests.
          I say this while still open to the possibility that there truly is a necessary shift happening here to bring us into a more enlightened age where we can all learn to be our own gurus (shamans, healers, etc). Yet I question my own motives for wanting that shift to happen, because I see it might be just because we’re wanting the easy way out. A life of comfort that leads nowhere, rather than a life of discipline that brings true wisdom, joy, peace. The Upanishads speak of the “Razor’s Edge Path” — since way back then, it was understood that the spiritual path to liberation is fraught with Awe-Full life-or-death challenges…
        I realize that you won’t fully understand what I’m saying here unless you have had my experiences, which have included being in the presence of Ammachi on several occasions, and I have also lived with various gurus in India and the States. There’s’ more I’d like to share about all of this, but perhaps some other time, thank you for listening!
  •  One last thought: Perhaps we have other tools at our disposal now that make it such that we no longer need to devote our entire lives to another person…? What are your thoughts?

    ADDENDUMS:

    The absolutely last bit of starlight/energy from the Draconian star system reaches Earth today. The Draconian system has been a bunch of black holes for a long time, but it has taken ’til now for the last of it’s light to reach here.

    The beings aligned with this now defunct system have the energy/consciousness of power-over, creating of the slave mentality & were only interested in being at the top of the pyramid with all others supporting them underneath. They used the light from their home system to help them remain ascendant here on Earth.

    They ruled by fear & terror (The Mayan culture was a good example, also ancient Egypt, & everything in between, down to today). Their energy is no longer being hosted by Earth & will, from now on, become less & less prevalent (already been happening for awhile!). Their time is over.

    Different stralight/energies will now become ascendant on Earth which are much more aligned with how the Earth now wants to be. Life, love, community, creativity, healing all the wounds of the past centuries, healing the earth, the animals, finding new ways to be here without hurting everything, healing ourselves of the Draconian induced traumas/wounds/pyramid consciousness…..this is how it will be more & more.
    2013 & beyond…bring it on!!

    Meant to add that the Mayan priests calculated exactly when the last of the Draconian starlight would reach earth (today – 21st Dec 2012!!!) & their calendar ending on this date was a warning & sign to their own kind that their world (themselves-the elite-ruling over the masses) as they knew it, would be fast ending after this date. For them, it IS the world coming to an end. For everyone else, it is a new & longed for beginning! (posted by Bill Sammons)

    ALSO:

    The idea being put forth now by some is that this moment in history marks a spiritual power shift from India & Tibet to Chile & Peru… http://www.dailyom.com/library/000/002/000002625.html
    “There are tens of thousands of people, mostly indigenous people, who have been led by a deep inner guidance, from 1949 to the present, to help to bring this unyielding White Snake to its new location high up in the Andes Mountains in Chile, where it now finally resides. Not only is this a shift of spiritual power from the male to the female, but it is also a spiritual power shift from Tibet and India to Chile and Peru. The Light of the World that has been nurtured and expanded with the Tibetan and Indian cultures is now completed. Its new reign has just begun in Chile and Peru, and soon it will affect the hearts of all mankind. These are my personal stories as I have followed my inner guidance helping bring balance to a troubled world.”

“The Real Yoga is Bhakti Yoga” ~ The Practice of Heartcore Yoga

“GOD IS ONE, LOVE IS ONE…GOD IS LOVE.”

~  Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

~ Namaste’ Beloved One ~

There’s a really nice documentary on yoga that we show at each of our yoga teacher trainings — it’s funny, hip, sexy, and is also able to get deep into the heart of this thing that we call yoga. If you’re really into yoga, you’ve probably already seen it. The film is called “Enlighten Up!” and if you haven’t had the opportunity yet, it’s definitely worth a couple hours of your time. Here’s a link to the Official Website.

I bring this up because towards the end of the film, which up until that point had mainly focused on “Hatha Yoga” (the more physical form of yoga most seen in the West), we get thrown a ringer: The real yoga for most yogis in India (and for most Indians, as well), we are told, is not Hatha Yoga at all, it’s Bhakti Yoga. This bit of news comes from Shyamdas, a Western-born yogi who has lived in India off and on for something like 30+ years. Here is the clip from the movie to get a better feel for what I’m about to talk about:

So what is Bhakti Yoga, and why is it the “real” yoga?

     Bhakti is the Yoga of “Love, Devotion, and Surrender” (see Santana-McGlaughlin : ), and it is the real yoga because it is the foundation of all the other forms/paths of yoga. The essential idea is that when we love something, we give it our attention. We become attracted to whatever it is, and our heart is in it — we consciously choose to explore that thing more deeply, to enter into relationship with it. For example, many of us yogis get into yoga because we initially are just following our bliss, our heart, and decide that we really want to spend more time getting to know this Yoga thing, and ourselves, more intimately. Then we give it our love, our attention, and go about devotedly and intently practicing and learning it to our heart’s content.

That’s Bhakti.

And you see how by definition it lies at the base of all other paths of yoga, and really can be seen to be the foundation of all that we do in life: We tend to tend and attend to what we love to do — whether it’s Hatha, Tantra, Jnana, Karma, Raja, or any other form or path or style of yoga. In this sense we might say that all yoga is real yoga, because ALL Yoga is Bhakti Yoga.

That said, Bhakti Yoga is its own path, too, and it is much more than that. Because we can practice the other forms of yoga and miss the “heart,” the juicy heart of it all. Indeed, we can miss the point, the essence, the rasa (juice). For Bhakti Yoga is the path of Love, and if Bhakti lies at the foundation of everything else, it is because Love does. And so if our Yoga is not working on our heart and somehow helping to remove all the armoring and blockages around the heart that has served to keep us from truly loving ourSelf and an “other” as ourSelf, then it is not true yoga. No, it is yoga that is actually only serving to reinforce the ego’s boundaries, and leading us away from Yoga, which is no different from Love, from Unity, from the Divine.

Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with a strong ego, as it all depends where we are on our life’s journey.  As Ram Das, one of the great Western Bhaktas (Bhakti Yogis), and one of my greatest inspirations, has often put it:

“You have to be somebody before you can be nobody.”

For me, this means that we truly have to be very strong within ourselves to fully face and even embrace the reality of our non-existence. Put another way: Our ego is also what drives us forward on the path, and it is through it that we feel more empowered to live a full human life in the body-temple we have been gifted, which affords the chance to “slowly, slowly” prepare for our inevitable demise. So if there were no ego, there would be no game to play here — we would be dissolved back into the Godhead/heart (or GoddessHeart, if you will ; ) — and that’s not so bad, either, it seems to be what we’re all secretly seeking!!! A strong, healthy ego also will have the ability to look death in the face (or our greatest fear(s)), and say, “yes, bring it on.” And a strong, healthy ego will also be able to fully look at our shadow, and if not fully enlighten the darkness, then at least keep it in check.

Now, I bring all of this up because this is all truly fundamental & foundational for all that we do in yoga. And it also feels so essential for the current 2012 and beyond time period that we are navigating. It does now feel to be time for the Shadow work to be done, where we stop stuffing our stuff — the horrific damage we’ve been doing to our bodies, each other, the planet — and actually fully face it all and deal with it (by first not being in denial anymore). Yes, it’s time to truly Be the One that we’ve been waiting for, to be our own Hero/Savior/Beloved, individually and collectively.

I know, easier said than done! Because in truth, this heart work is hard work, perhaps the hardest we will ever do. It takes great courage (from the French word for heart, “coeur“) to get to the core of things, to look unblinkingly at the truth about ourselves… For truth hurts, and the truth can even kill us (or the ego, at least). Many of us are not yet prepared to handle such truth, and so we live our lives on the surface of things, judging and blaming others instead of pointing the finger back at ourselves in the realization that we have our own inner demons to confront. The good news is that the practice of yoga, in its fullest sense (that is practiced integrally, holistically), is one of the greatest systems ever devised to prepare ourselves for such intense revelations, empowering us also to then make the necessary changes in our lives so that we may truly be beacons of light in this world.

I happen to be writing this on Easter morning, 2012. I have no strong opinion whether Jesus truly lived and died for our sins, or not, though I do feel it’s possible, certainly. At the very least, if he truly said all or most of what we find in the Gospels (including the non-canonical ones like The Gospel of Thomas) — much of which we find in Eastern wisdom, too — then Jesus was indeed a great yoga master, an avatar (incarnation of God on earth), if there ever was one. And if Jesus really is Love, then hell (or heaven) yeah I believe in Jesus, because I know the Power of Love. I don’t believe in a Second Coming, except in the sense that we are each responsible for our own resurrection in Love, and that we are all the Messiah, and that it will be something of a “team effort” here to truly bring Heaven to Earth. And it is happening.

Omni Vincit Amor

Love is and has always been the ever and only lasting answer. It does truly conquer — or perhaps better, contain — ALL. There is no force in the universe greater than Love. A great yogi (Yogi Berra ; ) once said:

If life were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

Well, the same is true for us: We are all perfectly imperfect — perfect in our imperfectness. Even our desire to be saved from our imperfections is perfect, too. And perhaps the only salvation for our imperfection, for our “Fallen” nature, if you will, is to Fall In Love, to fall deeply In Love.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

I want to close by sharing two things which have been brought to my attention this past week, and you will note also speak to what I have been sharing here. The first is a piece by Marianne Williamson on why the phenomenon of “falling in love,” is not an illusion at all, but a taste of enlightenment. I actually first saw this in Natural Awakenings magazine, and then found it here on the web: Marianne Williamson on Love

The other is a song that we all know, one of the most beautiful and profound love songs I have ever heard:


 

Thanks for Listening!

Love, Allowah

 

The Five Tibetans: A Simple, Everyday Practice for Vibrant Health

This video is intended for those who might want a nice, simple workout to do any time of the day and anywhere. These five exercises are said to be ancient ones from Tibet (hence the name “The Five Tibetans” or “Five Tibetan Rites”) and are said to promote robust health and longevity. Whether one believes this or not, I find this to be a useful routine, both as a practitioner of yoga for the past almost 20 years, and also useful as a yoga teacher trainer. Many students like to have a short, structured practice that they can do anytime, anywhere, and this definitely fits the bill. The video itself will explain more how to do them, but do keep in mind that these should be done slowly, coordinating your breath with the movements.

We will be posting more educational “how to” yoga videos like this in the coming months. If you are interested in learning more yoga with us, please feel free to subscribe to this blog, and you might also want to join us for one of our upcoming yoga teacher trainings at beautiful retreat spots around the world. For more information about it, please visit our website: http://www.yogauniversity.ca. Or email me, Allowah, at allowah13@gmail.com.

Namaste’ & Om Mani Padme Hum! Music by Craig Pruess, “Om Mani Padme Hum,” and Jim Commander, Chakra Tone 4, Heart Chakra.  Btw, if you don’t like the word “SoLiCiTeD,” you could also use the word “SeLeCTeD.”

Allowah_-_dancersun

Alexa Sunshine Rose ~ “Jai Ma/Mother of Creation,” Live on Maui

Alexa Sunshine Rose is a brilliant singer songstress… I have just recently been blessed to receive her sonic satsang & like a devotee bee eager to spread the buzz, here I am sharing the goddesspell : )

This video is of Alexa performing “Jai Ma/Mother of Creation” live at a private house concert on Maui, Feb, 2014.

This was an entrancing, enchanting performance, I sat mesmerized…Alexa’s presence is remarkable.

Please visit Alexa online @ alexasunshinerose.com

PDFs of songbooks with lyrics are available by donation by emailing alexa@alexasunshinerose.com.

Current Trends in the World of Yoga

NOTE: PLEASE CONTACT ME @ allowah13@gmail.com if you would like to take our course, either for credit toward a future 200 Hour training, or just for your own edification & evolution.

11 New & Noteworthy Trends

in the World of Yoga

QUEST-ions

What current trends can we identify in the yoga world?  Which ones are “fads,” which will last?

 

  How have YOU personally be affected by these trends, and how will you incorporate them into your teaching, classes, offerings?

Can we extrapolate on the current trends and predict the future of yoga?

CURRENT TRENDS IN THE YOGA WORLD

 The Rise of Yoga Therapy

Kirtan & Kirtan Festivals

Acro Yoga/Flying Yoga

Yoga Online

Earth-Friendly Yoga Products

Aerial Yoga/Yoga Swing/Assisted Inversion Tools

Alternative Forms of Yoga

Alternative Formats for Yoga Classes

Decline of the Traditional Guru & Rise of the New Guru

(Yoga came to the West, and is now going back to the East)

Plant Shamanism

 New Yoga Tools & Props ~ (Acupuncture Mats, Blocks, etc.)

More Meditation in Yoga Studios

~ Kirtan & Kirtan Festivals ~

We’ve already discussed this somewhat in the lecture on chanting, mantras, and kirtan.  The word now is truly out about this practice, and if the trend continues, kirtan is well on its way to becoming its own recognizable genre of music.  Of course, it already is in the yoga world, I mean it will become a household word at some point soon due to its massive impact on the world of yoga.  I personally have witnessed its growth from pre-Krishna Das days to the present, and have seen a very marked shift towards kirtan in just the past 3-5 years.  Festivals like the ones in Joshua Tree (Bhakti Fest) and Omega, as well as spin-offs, are just the start.  As a yoga professional, it’s wise to get on the bandwagon?

~ The Rise of Yoga Therapy

Yogis as doctors?  I feel there’s no better one qualified, that is, besides yourself!

Yoga is the best medicine because it goes to the root cause and treats the whole person, not the symptom/effect.  Soon there will be state and nationwide approval, connected with insurance carriers, etc.  There already are degree and certification programs set up for this.  This is a trend which will definitely continue, and if it truly takes hold, will no doubt help to change the face of healthcare as we know it.  Ultimately, though, as I said and believe wholeheartedly, just as you are your own guru, you are your own doctor.  This trend is just a movement in that ultimate direction.

~ Acroyoga/Flying Yoga ~

These are just two names of a phenomenon that has now gone global.  I won’t go too much into something already covered (please see the discussion about in the lecture on styles of yoga), but I do see this as a major trend in yoga that will only continue to grow in popularity.  Before I even got into this form of yoga, I noticed how people tend to really enjoy Partner Yoga.  Well, they’re loving the “Acro” even more.  It appeals on a number of levels: The teamwork element, the art and creative aspect, the fear factor, and just the sheer fun of doing it, not to mention getting deeper into the asanas.  New styles have been emerging that incorporate this yoga into conventional mat yoga formats.  It’s good to have the combination as there’s still a lot to be gained from one’s solitary yoga practice, so if you practice or teach this, do keep things in balance.

~ Yoga Online ~

Obviously your taking this course is an indication of how much yoga has gone online, fulfilling a need for yoga on demand at home, in the workplace, or when traveling.  Sites like MyYogaOnline and YogaGlo, not to mention Youtube, make it possible to take unlimited online classes for a small fee or free, while answers to just about any question you might have about yoga are right at your fingertips.  Also, most of the promotion for my events and trainings has been online through WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Given this trend, as a yoga professional, it would be very helpful to develop an online presence with a website, blog, and possibly video offerings that will let the world know about you and what you do.

~ Eco-Consciousness & Earth-Friendly Yoga Products ~

Yoga people have always been at the vanguard of this, actually.  Those who really take to yoga and make it a profession are already super-conscious people who care about the their body-temples and their earth-temples enough to take care of them.  And Yoga is appealing to many because it is so simple and portable – no real gym equipment necessary.  Personally, I don’t even feel having a yoga mat and all of the other yoga props are all that essential, and find it hard to believe that it took so long for the yoga world to realize that the early yoga mats contained toxic chemicals like PVC that are not healthy for our bodies or the earth.  If you do buy a mat, I would definitely consider getting one of the eco-mats (there are many on the market), and recommend them to your students, too.

~ Aerial Yoga/Yoga Swing/Inversion Tools ~

I can now say that I’ve been at the little yoga studio here on Maui where the yoga swing was first invented by Yogi Zen.  Invented might not be the right word.  Like acroyoga, the idea of hanging with the help of material had been out there, both in yoga and in the circus arts.  It’s only now, though, with the idea of Yogi Zen that these swings are really getting out there on a mass level.  I myself have sold them and have heard only glowing reports of how they’ve helped.  So the signs say this trend will definitely continue.  I do feel these don’t exactly substitute for learning how to do the headstand, for example, but they are necessary for some who will never do one, and also are just a nice complement to one’s inversion practice on the mat…and they appeal to our inner desire to hang like a bat.

~ Shamanism & Plant Medicine ~

From our history of yoga, we have seen that there is a  scholarly consensus that yoga evolved out of shamanism in the distant past.  Let’s keep in mind the perspective that religion and spiritual life is seeing a gradual devolution over time; on this view, shamanism was the original, true path, and what developed later (the yoga tradition) was a degradation of what came before.  Of course, from the other side there are those who maintain that spirituality has seen an evolution over time, yet let’s consider for a moment that there just might be something to the first view.  Granting this, then the current trend towards shamanism might just be a return to the origins of religion, when societies were matri-focal (women were the leaders) without as much hierarchical roles and abuses of power in male-dominated societies.  (This is another trend in yoga, by the way: Women leading the way, in a big way.)  In any case, this trend will only continue, and yoga as it is currently taught and practiced will either absorb these changes and influences, or not.  Whether the mainstream yoga does or not, these changes are already being made.

~ Decline of the Traditional Guru & Rise of the New Guru ~

This possibly goes hand-in-hand with the previous trend.  While it is true that the traditional guru system will still be in place, there seems to have been somewhat of a societal shift away at least from the hierarchical, male-led guru model that was the norm until the mid-‘80s.  My personal understanding is that this shift was necessary for yoga to go mainstream, because until the mid-late ‘90s when yoga became more fully accepted, the various yoga movements were plagued with scandals, generally sex scandals, almost always involving male gurus or swamis who were apparently abusing their power (the rise of the internet made it much more possible to get the word out about the alleged abuses).   It would be nice to think that the women gurus who began leading the way in this period also have had scandal-free missions, but this is not the case, as we can see with teachers like Gurumayi and Ammachi.  In the meantime, there have been other teachers who do not put themselves out as gurus, per se, but who have taken on a similar role, just without the worship, hierarchical structure, scandals, etc.  These are popular teachers like Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, Gangaji, and others of the “Neo-Advaita”  school, who by the way have not been completely without scandal or criticism themselves (read one critique HERE), though perhaps not to the same degree.

Perhaps this shift/trend has not been so much societal as within the upper ranks of the yoga community itself, which has seen a shift toward exploration of things like plant medicine where the plant is the teacher, not an imperfect, corruptible human.   Perhaps the caution here is that now shamans (male and female) have taken on the role of gurus for many of these paths, and it remains to be seen whether this will be any different.

I’m not offering an opinion as to whether this trend is a positive one or not, perhaps it is just another sign of our devolution?  In any case, the trend will apparently become increasingly more trendy…

~ Alternative Forms of Yoga ~

In the lecture on Yoga Styles, we will discuss what a wide variety of names and forms of yoga there are today, partly due to the capitalistic system that we live in where it is in a teacher’s self-interest to trademark their own distinct brand of yoga, but (looking on the bright side) also perhaps due to an inner drive of the “One” to express itself more fully in the “Many.”  Paraphrasing Ramakrishna who said, “There are as many religions as there are souls,” we could say there are as many yoga styles as there are yoga teachers – there’s something for every body, in other words, and we can indeed see this in a most positive light.  After all, where would we be without Partner Yoga, Acroyoga, Power Yoga, the Yoga Swing, Dance Yoga, and all the new creative expressions of yoga that are being born from brilliant yoga minds this very moment?  Also, we are at a point in history where we can take the best of the yoga-like traditions of the cultures of the world (like the Chinese Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and other martial arts) and create a “best of all worlds” practice and/or method, though of course there will always be the purists who insist that this is cheating, blasphemy, folly, or worse.   In any case, whether good, bad, or indifferent, these are trends that will most certainly continue indefinitely.

~ Alternative Formats for Yoga Classes ~

Along with the preceding trend goes the trend toward increasing creativity in how classes are conducted, structured, and filled with content.  Recent innovations that have taken hold are: Live music in classes; incorporation of elements from other traditions into classes (Yoga and Pilates, Yoga and Qi Gong, etc.); uses of different kinds of music than strictly yoga music; variations in what the layout of the class looks like, including outdoor classes, etc.  If yoga is truly to be a lifelong practice, then it would seem reasonable to give the mind some variety to keep students coming back year after year.

~ Yoga Tool & Prop Innovations ~

I realize this could be the umbrella category for things like the yoga swing, etc., but I feel each of these trends deserves to be highlighted separately.  Again, in the capitalistic society we live in, it pays to be innovative, and I for one can appreciate the ingenuity behind some of these things.  One example, a circular yoga mat (mandalamat.com) – now why didn’t someone think of this 30 years ago?  Another example: A meditation bench that can hold one’s yoga mat (namastebench.com).  Brilliant.  I hope you know that

I’m also laying out all of these trends to possibly inspire YOU to be the next person with the genius idea that goes viral.  And if you do get  your idea out there and strike it rich, just don’t forget your yamas and niyamas – and the little people, like me : )

~ More Meditation in the Yoga World ~

As we know, most Hatha Yoga classes in the West have not emphasized meditation, but rather more of the workout aspect of yoga.  Generally short shrift has been given to sitting quietly and observing one’s mind – perhaps a few minutes per class.  Again, let’s leave judgments aside, because it was what it was, no doubt serving its purpose for that time.  I think that now we are seeing and will continue to see more interest and awareness about meditation and that it is NOT separate from yoga, but is an integral part of it, and perhaps the most integral of all.  I could be very wrong about this trend (perhaps it’s actually the other way around!) yet I do feel that there is a greater shift towards seeing yoga as a holistic, mind-body-spirit practice that ultimately leads back to still, silent awareness, inner resourcefulness, peace, and unconditional love.  Meditation is an essential practice for realizing this, and more and more yoga studios will emphasize it.

INNERCISE: How have you been personally affected by these trends?  Do you feel that this list is exhaustive?  If not, what other major trends have you observed in the yoga world?  What trends surprised you, or do you question or disagree with?  Which trends will affect how you practice and teach yoga?

Main Points of This Lecture

~ Yoga is currently one of the fastest growing movements in the world, a trend which will no doubt continue.  Yoga is not a fad as some had originally thought it might be.  Since the mid-late nineties it has truly gone mainstream and will become more and more an established fixture of our society.

~ All of the current trends suggest that yoga is growing and will continue to grow through innovation on a number of fronts, and from being part of the global marketplace.

~ Ultimately, it will be for each of us to question how our current capitalistic system meshes with the yoga lifestyle.  Our suggestion is to at the very least stay true to the yogic ethical teachings of “aparigraha” and “santosha” – non-possessiveness and contentment.  Also, as yoga has been affected by the business world, it will in turn affect the marketplace, gradually making it less greedy and more green.

Recommended Resources for Further Study

Articles

Yoga Trends in New York Daily News

The New Yoga

(Yoga Journal article)

Web

Yoga Journal’s News & Trends

(Yoga Journal and other yoga magazines are also a good way to learn about the current trends in yoga, and it’s recommended that yoga teachers subscribe to at least one of these journals to keep up on what’s going on.)

Yoga Trends on About.com

VitalityLink Yoga Trends

WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS, FEEDBACK, CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM…THANK YOU!

A Course in Miracles in Light of the Yoga Tradition, Part I

22 Core Teachings of A Course in Miracles

This is not the Course, not even close.  The Course presents an entire metaphysics and a practical application of which that requires repeated application to truly be effective and undo the ego.

So the quotes below really must be read in context to get the bigger picture of what’s being said and meant.

Yet they will still be helpful as a reminder for some and perhaps as an inspiration for others to actually begin to take a deeper look at the Course.

Personally, I would not have taken A Course in Miracles that seriously if I hadn’t first read Gary Renard’s “Disappearance of the Universe,” which really helps to clarify and simplify it’s message.

I still don’t know how I feel about how Gary’s book came about, yet as of now I have decided that it doesn’t matter, it’s the message that counts, and more important even, the practical application of the message.

So how is all of this connected to Yoga?  Well, Yoga means “Union,” and the highest philosophy of India, Advaita Vedanta, is the philosophy of Nonduality, which is exactly what the Course teaches, though with the added emphasis on “true forgiveness,” though this also involves an acceptance of  .

My teachers all held Jesus to be a great avatar (ascended master come to earth), perhaps the greatest ever.

I can see this now.

In any case, great minds think alike, and after all, as the Course says, there is only one mind anyway.

So let’s not get caught up in superficial differences of “oh, that’s Christian” and “that’s Hindu,” because it’s really all one.

*

KEY 

ACIM = A COURSE IN MIRACLES

DU = Disappearance of the Universe

ps. Enjoy the pictures below, but the deeper message here is in the words…

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

haleakala sunrise

The Real & The Unreal

1)  “Nothing real can be threatened.  

   Nothing unreal exists.  

      Herein lies the peace of God.”  

(Main message of the Course, from the Introduction)

[Compare with Shankarcharya’s classic statement of Advaita Vedanta:

 brahma satyam jagan mithya

jivo brahmaiva napara

Brahman [God] is the Reality, the universe is an illusion,

The living being is Brahman [God] alone, none else.

 “To mean you want the peace of God is to renounce all dreams.”  ~ ACIM

OM ASATOMA SADGAMAYA ~ “Lead us from the unreal to the real.” (ancient Sanskrit mantra)

The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP6W1MaxJLI

  393170_259876387490128_1907618364_n

REMOVING THE BARRIERS TO LOVE

2) *“The search for love is but the honest searching out of everything that interferes with love.” * 

“The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught.  It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.” (ACIM, from the Introduction)

[Compare with another line from the Course, often mis-attributed to Rumi: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”]

Commentary: This is all the process of yoga is — Peeling the onion, going back to union, to the One Love that we are… what we call “God.”  The Course calls this “Undoing the Ego.” http://www.undoing-the-ego.org/index-ute.html

The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb9P8BLipqo

  pizap.com10.74557676492258911354650113424

THE WORLD IS AN ILLUSION

3) * “There is no world!  This is the central thought the course attempts to teach. Not everyone is ready to accept it, and each one must go as far as he canlet himself be led along the road to truth…” *

“The world you see is an illusion of a world.  God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself.  Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever.” ~ ACIM

“No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected.”  ~ ACIM

“There is nothing outside you.”  ~ ACIM

[Einstein: A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”]

Will you bring truth to your illusions, or your illusions to truth?

Row Row Row Your Boat…

The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW8TlrYhBxk

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TRAINING THE MIND

4) “This is a course in mind training. 

An untrained mind can accomplish nothing.” *

 DU: “One of the goals of the Course is to train your mind so the time will come when instead of judging automatically, you will forgive automatically.”

DU ~ “This is a lifelong spiritual path with numerous rewards along the way — but they happen within a difficult process.”

DU ~ “One of the reasons that A Course in Miracles is so long is that, even though the truth may be simple and consistent, your ego is not — and it needs to be undone gradually.”

“And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible to reach for a long , long time. 

– He must learn to lay all judgment aside, and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance.” ~ ACIM

[Commentary: The Yoga Sutras recommends constant practice and “non attachment.”   It also says that we can get there faster with more intense practice.  The paradox is that time is an illusion and that whenever we get there, in whatever dream lifetime, is at a time beyond time anyway!

More Yoga Wisdom: “Make the mind your servant and not your master.”

“The truth is simple, but it’s not easy.”

“Get with De-program.” ~ Mr. Smiley : ) ]

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSIajKGHZRk

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ACTION IN THE WORLD

5) “This is a course in cause and not effect.   

Therefore, seek not to change the world, 

but choose to change your mind about the world.” *

“The ego made the world as it perceives it, but the Holy Spirit, the reinterpreter of what the ego made,

 sees the world as a teaching device for bringing you home.”  ~ ACIM

[Compare: “You can’t change the world, you can only change yourself.”

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Gandhi

“Your own Self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” ~ Sri Ramana Maharishi ]

Commentary: Putting yourself at “Cause” means that you take 100% responsibility for everything.  There is no

more allowance for blame or victimhood.

Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS-16m1OhtA

 

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I Sit Corrected

(Just “Be Still and Know…I Am”)

  

FEAR & LOVE 

(or, Fear OR Love)

6) * “Fear and love are the only emotions of which you are capable.” * 

“Fear binds the world.  Forgiveness sets it free.”  ~ ACIM

“The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength.”  ~ ACIM

“Perfect love casts out fear. If fear exists, then there is not perfect love.”  ~  ACIM

“It is but your thoughts that bring you fear.”  ~ ACIM

“There is nothing to fear.”  ~ ACIM

Jesus in the Bible: “You cannot serve two masters.”

DU: “The words love and fear in the Course represent two complete and mutually exclusive thought systems.”

Ram Dass: “Live from your soul, not your ego.”

Roosevelt: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” –> and even that’s NOTHING to fear!]

The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4fWN6VvgKQ

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GUILT & SUFFERING

8) * “The guiltless mind cannot suffer.”  *

Commentary: According to DU, Jesus was crucified, but did not suffer.  He realized that he was guiltless and so were his apparent persecutors.  He also realized he was not his body.

A similar process happens in yoga.  At first the practice of yoga can be very challenging, even torturous.  Over time, it becomes easier and easier as

blockages are released from the body-mind.  For me personally, yoga and exercise in general have become nearly effortless and fun – until I go to the next layer/level where I begin to access the unconscious.

DU ~ “Pain is not a physical process, it is a mental process.”

[Compare: Buddha’s 4 Noble Truths: 

The four noble truths are:[a]

  1. The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction)
  2. The truth of the origin of dukkha
  3. The truth of the cessation of dukkha
  4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha]

 

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.last.fm/music/Bob+Dylan/_/Watching+The+River+Flow

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THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATION

9) * “A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct.” *

“The truth about you is so lofty that nothing unworthy of God is worthy of you.  

Choose, then, what you want in these terms, and accept nothing that you would not offer to God as wholly fitting for Him.”  ~ ACIM

“You dwell not here, but in eternity.”  ~ ACIM

“We are here to awaken from the illusion of separation.” ~ Ram Dass (and other spiritual teachers)

The Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Jesus

 

Commentary: The word “individuality” has the word “duality” in it.

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tiOMu_Bf8Q

Forgiveness-Quotes-To-forgive-is-to-set-a-prisoner-free-and-discover-that-the-prisoner-was-you.  

      FORGIVENESS     

10) * “Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation.” *

Commentary: Ultimately, forgiveness is an illusion, because we’re forgiving something that’s not there…It’s purpose is to lead you to God, but it’s not of God.

Unlike all other illusions, it leads you away from separation and not towards it.  The Course calls it a “happy fiction.”

“This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. 

 It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception.  

The means of the Atonement is forgiveness.”  ~ ACIM

“He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive.”  ~ ACIM

“There is a simple way to find the door to true forgiveness, and perceive it open wide in welcome. 

When you feel you are tempted to accuse someone of sin in any form, do not allow your mind to dwell on what you think he did,

for that is self-deception.  Ask instead, “Would I accuse myself of doing this?”  ~ ACIM

“Forgiveness allows love to return to my awareness.”  ~ ACIM

“God does not forgive for he has never condemned.”  ~ ACIM

DU ~ “Forgiveness and arguing are mutually exclusive, and forgiveness is always the way.”

DU ~ “You have to learn how to turn the tables on the ego. The only way to forgive what is within is to forgive what seems to be without.”

DU ~ “True forgiveness is the real purpose of life, but you’ve got to choose it in order to make it yours.”

Jesus: “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

“That which is hateful to you do not do to your fellow man.” etc.

[Commentary : All is forgiven — AND there is nothing to forgive! ]

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xezg3z5IE8I

Love-and-forgiveness-cannot-be-separated.-To-truly-love-2C-you-must-forgive.-To-truly-forgive-2C-you-must-love.-Forgive-and-move-forward-to-a-life-of-true-love.-status

NON-JUDGMENT

11) * “The ego cannot survive without judgment.” *

“You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes  from meeting yourself and your brother totally without judgement.”  ~ ACIM

“Judgment and love are opposites.  From the one comes all the sorrows of the world.  From the other comes the peace of God.

Judgment will bind my eyes and make me blind.” ~ ACIM

The Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Jesus

‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” ~ Jesus

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?” ~ Jesus

“Fire the Judge and hire the Witness.” ~ Gurudev

(“As God is my Witness.” : )

“Non-judgment day is at hand!” ~ Swami Beyondananda

 

Commentary: Again, taking the Golden Rule to its most absurd conclusion: Loving our brother/sister as ourself because they are ourSelf!

 

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwbGjzF3mB0

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…and it’s all in your mind!

PEACE OF MIND

12) * “There are no small upsets.” *

They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.”

DU ~ “It is just as important to forgive a cold as a physical assault,

and just as important to forgive a subtle insult as the death of a loved one.”

Commentary: Having a bad hair day is just as needing of forgiveness as having a bad hair life!  Or if you’re bald, a bald hair day!  Forgive it all!

All is Forgiven…AND There Was Nothing Ever to Forgive.

[Mr. Smiley’s Recommended Mantra ~ “It just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter…”]

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cTYhY3NUWE

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THE MASTER TEACHER

13) * “To teach is to demonstrate.” * 

“As you teach, so shall you learn.”  ~ ACIM

“I am among the ministers of God.” ~ ACIM

“The ego does not want to teach everyone all it has learned, because that would defeat its purpose.” ~ ACIM

“There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought; 

no act belies your word; and no word lacks agreement with another. Such are the truly honest.”  ~ ACIM

[“Be the Change.”  “Lead by example.”  “Walk your talk.”  “Practice what you preach.”  — And forgive yourself if you don’t!  Because you probably won’t!

Gandhi ~ “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in Harmony…Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed.”]

The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4GZFbCqx18

Okay, that was a joke, try this one instead:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qd-fAnHjPg

 

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MIRACLES

14) * “Each (of us is) a miracle of love.” * 

“Miracles arise from a miraculous state of mind, or a state of miracle-readiness.”  ~ ACIM

“There is nothing my holiness cannot do.” ~ ACIM

“Miracles mirror God’s eternal love.”  ~ ACIM  

“The miracle is the only device in your immediate disposal for controlling time…

The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years.”  ~ ACIM

[Commentary: Ram Dass’ book about his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, is called “Miracle of Love.”

The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g26e89xV1HU

51rCQSHPKZL._SX270_ 

HEALTH & SICKNESS

15) * “Sickness is of the mind and has nothing to do with the body.” * 

“Sickness is but another name for sin.

Healing is but another name for God.

The miracle is thus a call to Him.” ~ ACIM

 “The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing.  

And this is so for healing in all forms.” ~ ACIM

DU ~ First Biggest Rule About Spiritual Healing: “It’s not about the patient.  All healing is a result of some kind of forgiveness, and all forgiveness leads to self-healing.”

Second Biggest Rule: “Pain is not a physical process.  It is a mental process.”

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy625sZAHN8

god-and-money

(well, it is possible to multi-task on this one, ’cause God is not a cruel multi-taskmaster, haha, i tried ; )


REAL ABUNDANCE

16) * “You have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else has indeed been given you.” * 

DU ~ “How much success or money you get has nothing whatsoever to do with how spiritually enlightened you are.”

DU ~ “If you remember you’re not a body, then you can step back and see that what you desire is valueless.”

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

~ Jesus

[Commentary: If abundance comes, let it be a “perk of the job” so to speak, and then use it to further the work you are doing.  The Course essentially is telling us to make the world and the things of the world nothing, because they are.  If we are fervently seeking them and praying for them, then we are missing the point.]

Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tGuJ34062s

10_jesus-prays

TRUE PRAYER

17) * “The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need.” *

“I once asked you to sell all you have and give to the poor and follow me.  This is what I meant: If you have no investment

in anything in this world, you can teach the poor where their treasure is.  The poor are merely this who have invested wrongly, and they are poor indeed!” ~ ACIM

“Not my will, but Thy will.”  à Not the ego’s script, but the Holy Spirit’s.

 

Commentary: In yoga, meditation is generally considered a more beneficial practice than prayer.  There is a saying, “When you pray, you talk to God.  When you meditate, God talks to you.   Generally we only really pray unless we’re in a crisis, or if we really need something.   This type of prayer is coming from a place of fear, not love.

 

Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruAi4VBoBSM

 

 

   bible-church-funny-hell-masturbation-sex-Favim.com-42457

SEX

18) * “This course does not attempt to take from you the little that you have.” *

“The special relationships of the world are destructive, selfish, and childishly egocentric. Yet, if given to the Holy Spirit, these relationships can become the holiest things on earth—the miracles that point the way to the return to Heaven. 

The world uses its special relationships as a final weapon of exclusion and a demonstration of separateness. 

The Holy Spirit transforms them into perfect lessons in forgiveness and in awakening from the dream. 

Each one is an opportunity to let perceptions be healed and errors corrected. Each one is another chance to forgive oneself by forgiving the other.   And each one becomes still another invitation to the Holy Spirit and to the remembrance of God.”  ~ ACIM

DU ~ “A dream is nothing, and sex is nothing.

But I wouldn’t recommend that you turn to your partner after making love and say, “That was nothing.”

DU ~ “Tension can be released by forgiveness, but until someone is very proficient at it they shouldn’t be forced to give up earthly desires.”

“Let not their form deceive you.  Idols are but substitutes for your reality.” ~ ACIM

DU ~ “We’ve made a false idol out of the sexual feeling, like a substitute for God.”

First Commandment (Book of Exodus): “I am the Lord thy God…Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods [Idols] Before Me.”

What other false idols do we have?

The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY9-98tkfvg

 

 

Death 

LIFE & DEATH

19) “Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem.” *

“If death is real for anything, there is no life.  Death denies life, but if there is reality in life, death is denied.  

No compromise in this is possible.”  ~ ACIM

“Death is the symbol of the fear of God.” ~ ACIM

“God did not make death because He did not make fear.  Both are equally meaningless to Him.”  ~ ACIM

“Are you afraid to find a loss of self in finding God?”  ~ ACIM

“The reality of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son [you] is a body.” ~ ACIM

“Without the idea of death, there is no world.  All dreams will end with this one.”  ~ ACIM

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmASTC7wR6U

Enlightenment

ENLIGHTENMENT

20) * “Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all.” *

[Commentary: Other names in the Course for Enlightenment are “Resurrection,” “Salvation,” “Atonement,” “Awakening.”]

“Your resurrection is your reawakening.”

DU ~ Enlightenment is “the total absence of unconscious guilt.”

DU ~ “Enlightenment happens during one of your illusory lifetimes.  The body is laid aside once and for all only after your mind awakens from the dream.”

DU ~ “When you’re enlightened, you will completely awaken from the dream.  Even though you’ll still appear to be in a body, you’ll see what the Course refers to as the real world. …You’ll see only innocence everywhere, because it’s your own innocence — the innocence of Christ.”

“Before enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.” ~ Zen Saying

Commentary:  The “Son of God” which the Course so often mentions is none other than…You!  You are the One you’ve been waiting for!

You are Christ!  (Or if you prefer, Mary!)  And so is everyOne else, too!

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELRBvDz6YgU

sacrafice

THE COURSE IN MINIATURE

21) “I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.

I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.

I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.

I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit

will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.

I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.”

  • Text, Chapter 5
  • This passage is sometimes called “the Course in miniature”

 The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piOlKl7hLhAGod-is

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22)   * “GOD IS” *

“Life has no opposite, for it is God. ” 

 

“Life and death seem to be opposites because you have decided death ends life.   Forgive the world, and you will understand that everything that God create cannot have an end, and nothing He did not create is real. 

 In this one sentence is our Course explained.  

In this one sentence is our practicing given its one direction. 

 And in this one sentence is the Holy Spirit’s whole curriculum specified exactly as it is.” ~ ACIM

 “We say ‘God is,’ and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless.

There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something

not itself.  It has united with its Source.  And like its Source Itself, it merely is.”  ~ ACIM

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Jesus

Commentary: Funny how we need these big books to tell us “God Is” and all else, including all of the words, are ultimately meaningless.  It’s a work is process, the lifetime plan…

The Gospel of Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWhMyOs0pCQ

god-is-but-love 

il_570xN.451031787_9vo9

22+ = 23) Come on, there had to be one more, the most important one!

 

LAUGHTER!

 

* “Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea,

at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh.

In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea,

possible of both accomplishment and real effects.” *

[ACIM, T-27.VIII.6:2-3]

 a127

Trivia Question: Where does Jesus laugh in the Gospels?

I don’t seem to recall Jesus ever laughing or smiling – let alone singing or dancing.  Gotta watch the movie “Godspell” for that! J

But we do have Jesus crying as in the shortest verse in the Gospels: “Jesus Wept,” which is just a little shorter perhaps than the saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas (a non-canonical, Gnostic Gospel), “Be Passerby.”

“Laugh at the ego and be free!”

The Course uses the phrase “gentle laughter” at the whole absurd thought system of the ego.

The Gospel of Rockhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHPOzQzk9Qo

More “Gospel” Music

CAN MUSIC SAVE YOUR MORTAL SOUL?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAsV5-Hv-7U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4s9wVRIXeU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6TFW1F6oY0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4SqDx1vi4c

This is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago.”

You Also Might be Interested in the “Gospel of Rock” (Ministry of Rock) blog I was doing for awhile…

http://ministryofrock.wordpress.com/2007/11/18/stairway-to-heaven-meaning/

(The above link to a piece on the deeper meaning of Stairway to Heaven was the most commented on.)