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Yoga and Taichi—Cross Training for the Enlightened

Taichi

While our main focus at The Yoga Sanctuary is, obviously, yoga, we like to branch out and explore other related disciplines from time to time. Yoga is a great practice all on its own, but for many people, it complements another training modality. Taichi (or t’ai chi ch’uan) is one such discipline that you will see on our workshop schedule on occasion.

Taichi is the Chinese martial art that symbolizes the unity of yin and yang. It involves the practice of precise movements and breath that concentrate and move internal energy. Taichi practitioners learn to meet force with softness, helping to dissipate and redirect negative energy. The focus required to perform taichi movements, similar to the practice of yoga, brings about a meditative state.

Physically, taichi has been found to bring about health. In particular, regular taichi practice prevents falls, improves general health in older people, improves balance, and enhances psychological health. It is a favorite practice of many people who struggle with balance and coordination.

People who enjoy yoga often find that they also enjoy taichi. The two practices are similar in philosophy and effects, but their practice involves differing techniques. Combining yoga with taichi—much like cross training in the exercise world—is a wonderful way to experience the benefits of both practices.

If you have not yet experienced taichi, be sure to add it to your must-do list next time you get the opportunity. It will be back on our schedule come October!

 

From India With Love: Excerpts from Anna’s Journey

Anna at the Ganges

Red Light Sangha

We all have been in traffic where one of the drivers just has to go faster then others – zig zaging in and out of lanes—just at the end, comes to stop at the red light and all others catch up with him.

Sitting at the red light one time I felt oneness with all the drivers, pausing in traffic. I felt that we are Red Light Sangha. This thought brought a broader picture—traffic of life, the stop and go, the interrapted or uninterrapted ebb and flow of reality around us, the Sangha, the union, the community of people we live with.

So now, I was travelling from West to East, leaving the Red Light Sangha behind for a while—as there would be no driving for me for 6 weeks. I was travelling to immerce myself into a different traffic of life, a different sangha.

Life Is A Puzzle

When you start a new project you are excited about it—opening yourself to a new experince. Life is exciting as every day presents itself as a piece of puzzle that you are yet to place correctly to see the big picture.

The same goes for my Yoga practice. Excited about being on the mat everyday, discovering something new about my outer and inner existence. Just as the approach to puzzle of a thousand pieces—you work your way from outer to inner. Practice (abhyasa) is the key for me in the Yoga Science—on one hand the repetition of well known or new, building new habits and muscle memory. On the other hand – putting vast theoretical  knowledge to practical use and experince.

Just like in putting puzzle together—there is no rush. There is an order. It is a journey.

Return To Spiritual Spring

Leaving the comfort zone of home and convenience of the familier way of things, for the third time India, I was welcomed with a powerful intrusion into all 5 senses—vibrant colors, not very familiar smells, an ocean of traffic sounds, heat that hangs in the air day and night and tastes of local cuisine (starting from the airplane food).

As soon as you cross the portal of time, you arrive in a different dimention—which surprisingly quick gives you a sense of home as well. I don‘t have to limit myself to one home—I have a birth place, my first home. I have place where my family is—my second home. I have a spiritual shelter—my third home. And then again—I feel comfortable and at home everywhere I go… I guess it is not only the place that makes me feel comfortable, it is the comfort that I bring with me wherever I go….

As The Days Go By

It is hot! The temperature stays in low 100F….. You‘re constantly sweating out of each pore of your body… Yes—there are  ceiling fans and No – there are no air conditioners. Plus the power goes in and out……Observation of body movement and comfort/discomfort level acquires a new meaning….. Getting through the day, finishing each block of schedule feels like a great life achievement. Perception of the world goes through the prism of tolerance—from heat, to tiredness, to change, to choices, to words and thoughts.

Taking It All In Each Minute

Each day I open my eyes between 4 and 5 am and try to really absorb the sense of reality—where I am, what I am doing, and I try to witness my emotional state. I know I am doing something very special—I want to deepen the understanding of my practice and teaching, I want to improve myself and the world around me, I want to share the answeres to the questions…

The practice of Yoga allows you to learn through experience and that is what I am doing here—I am experiencing first hand new ways of grounding my feet in Tadasana, new ways of lengthening my torso in Trikonasana and new ways and with new awareness of bringing my big toes closer and out in Dandasana.

I am experiencing chanting OM with the background sounds of cows in the street, bells in the temple, street dogs barking and monkeys jumping on the roof…

Once in a lifetime, each and every experience—each and every day……

Working on eliminating impurities in the body, mind and breath to move all the unnesessary clutter out of the way to open the depth of Universal knowledge that is dormant and already inside—just waiting to be awakened.

Love To The World

You never know what is waiting for you around the corner, the next day, the next minute.

Meeting people is the most amazing opportunity to realize oneness…  Eyes meet eyes, smile responds to smile—you are connected. No words needed.  Everybody has a story and you are now a part of it.

Time Is A River….

In week 3 and 4, I still have moments when I close my eyes and the amazing realization fills my whole being—I am in India! It is amazing on so many different levels….I am thoroughly  enjoying moving forward with my views on the Yoga practice as a student and as a teacher. Studying Asana, Pranayama, Mudras, Chanting, Kriya in such a deapth really awakens you to the fact of the true meaning of Yoga—what it intended to be at the very early stages, what it evolved into in modern India and what form it took after it was introduced in the West.

Only now I start grasping the meaning of Full-time Yogi and Part-time Yogi. Now, studying the ancient texts with the guidance of the Indian teacher, who recites verses in Sanskrit from the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras  and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and then explains the  meaning of passages with reference to culture, traditions, religion and experience—now it makes more sense then ever that this science is vast and infinite.

Starting class in Sukhasana, eyes closed. Gentle smile touches the lips.

Savoring the moment. I am in India!

Contemplation Time

One day off allows us to regroup and rest physically, mentally and energetically….

Mind is in the game at all times—contemplating about the team work, energy, different styles of teaching from our faculty. Comfortable and easy comprehension of certain things and emotional struggle with others….. Sharing our own experience and results of them, I shared that till my mid 20s I was strongly competitive person. As my focus shifted, while at  University, competitiveness or the extremes of the opposites (black or white, do or die) changed into the acceptance of grey areas sometimes….As life was challenging me with different experiences and then arriving at the Yoga practice, I realised that grey areas are not grey at all—it  can be very colorful. Learning all the magical disciplines of the Yamas and Niyamas, I arrived at the complete acceptance of oneness, which takes away the burden of competitive mind and gives you the joy and pleasure of realization that we are all – ONE. Each and every one contributes to balance and importance, beauty and magnificence of the Present Moment.

What Is  Your Comfort Food For Thought

After dinner each night, at 8:30, we have a 30 minute meditation session.

Sometimes we recite OM, sometimes we chant beautiful mantras, sometimes we have full body awareness meditation, sometimes it is Trataka—gazing at candle light.

One night in full body awareness, tightness in my right knee was so painful that I was not sure if it would be possible to sit for 30 minutes in Sukhasana. But, mind over matter—the experience of letting go mentally allowed me to let go of sensations in my knee and I was

undisterbed for 30 minutes for a pleasurable stillness. Food for thought that guided me with ease was the mantra So Ham. Mananat triat iti mantraha. Mantra is the one that Protects you from thinking. It took my mind off analyses of comfort/discomfort and I realized how I can control my body with my mind. It also helped me to connect to the light of awareness—that I AM—SO HAM!

Gratitude

Filled with gratitude for ALL my teachers, who are contributing to my happiness in my Yoga Journey! The feeling  of Ananda  is beyond words! Will be saying Good bye to India in a few days…

With love, joy and happiness I will continue on this path. This chapter is coming to an end, but the script of my journey is far from being over….

Yogi of the Month—Susan Cheney

Susan - June, 2016

I have known about yoga for decades. In the mid-1970s I attended a yoga series, which was my introduction to yoga. I loved the practice, but sadly, the series was a one-time experience. Further yoga practice was not offered again. Living in a small Midwest community, opportunities to practice yoga were nonexistent. Consequently, it wasn’t until I moved to Punta Gorda and met The Yoga Sanctuary’s former owner, Bonnie Yonker, at the Punta Gorda Club that I began to regain an interest in yoga. I attended a Tuesday morning 6 A.M. yoga class with Bonnie as the instructor. It was a great chance to reconnect.

When Bonnie left the Punta Gorda Club and opened her own studio, I was so happy that she was starting her own business. It took me a year before I finally walked into The Yoga Sanctuary in the Swiss Connection building. The first person I encountered at the studio was Margit Bannon. We had a great conversation about my physical issues and my desire to incorporate a yoga practice into my life. Margit was extremely understanding and totally supportive. From that day nearly nine years ago to now, I have been practicing yoga.

Yes, I have left yoga from time to time for different reasons, but I always come back. An auto accident four years ago really set me back in my yoga practice. Both physical and mental issues from that accident continue to follow me through my life. It is yoga that has saved me! And Margit Bannon is the person who best understood and helped me through the worst of my recovery. She is my treasured yogi, and I feel blessed that she is at The Yoga Sanctuary. With her care and watchful encouragement, Margit has guided me through those joyful and difficult moments when only yoga would provide me the strength, stability, and peace of mind that I needed to keep moving forward.

I continue my yoga practice at least twice each week. I practice gentle yoga and chair yoga. When I achieve better balance, I will add Level 1 to my practice. I have recently become interested in meditation and took an introductory meditation class at TYS earlier this year. I also participated in Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day Meditation Experience via internet and have recently signed up for another 21-day mediation practice.

My favorite yoga pose is Supported Bridge Posture. My most challenging yoga pose is Tree Posture. I credit yoga with keeping me moving and keeping me grounded and positive. Yoga is in my life, and it will always be an integral part of who I am.

Introduction to the Yoga Sutras

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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, compiled by the sage Patanjali at least 1,700 years ago, is considered one of the main authoritative texts on the practice and philosophy of yoga. The Yoga Sutras describe the eight limbs of yoga, which outline the ways in which one can live a yogic life. It also describes the results of a regular, dedicated practice. The Yoga Sutras describe the goal of yoga and then go about describing how one can achieve that goal.

Sutra means “thread,” which describes the relationship of the sutras—they are interrelated, or tied together as if by a thread. Within the Yoga Sutras are 196 aphorisms, short passages that guide the reader through four chapters, or books (padas): Samadhi Pada, which describes the results of yoga practice; Sadhana Pada, which describes the discipline itself; Vibhuti Pada, which describes some of the super-normal effects the practice can have; and Kaivalya Pada, which describes the process of liberation of the ego.

There are countless commentaries available of the Yoga Sutras, many of which are available in English. These range from the dense and philosophical to light and practical—and everything in between.

The first yoga sutra, 1.1, is a simple invocation to begin—and to begin now. Atha yoga anushasanam: Now the instruction of yoga is being made. It is a simple invitation to begin the study of yoga, in this moment, the only moment that ever really exists. It is one of the simplest yoga sutras, and yet it is so appealing because humans love to begin anew.

On that note, we will begin a series on the Yoga Sutras that highlights some of our favorite sutras, what they mean, and how they can be applied to modern life. Adding the study of yoga philosophy to a physical practice is a great way to take your yoga off the mat and out into your life. We look forward to sharing a deeper look at the practice that we have all come to love.