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Looking Ahead in the Vedic Sky

Vedic Astrology, Jyotish in Sanskrit, is a sister science to Yoga and Ayurveda. It is the study of the precision of our solar system and planetary movements that create linear chronological time. Comprehension of this ancient wisdom tradition allows for the awareness of how an individual spending a lifetime on Earth is affected by celestial events. Jyotish is a robust science that deepens the understanding of and reverence for the passage of time and the spiritual lessons that unfold. Effects, ranging from the simplest and observable lunar cycles to the complex and profound planetary transits through the sky, can be understood. A glimpse into one’s own karma can be seen as well. Neither the individual nor the collective whole escapes the influence of the sacred sky.

2017 will include several major astronomical events. On January 26th, Saturn, the planet that governs solitude, will begin a two and a half year transit through hopeful Sagittarius. Powerful solar eclipses, moments when the Sun (soul), Moon (mind), and Earth (body) line up in space, will happen on February 26th and August 21st. On September 8th, the Lunar Nodes, the pioneer and the sage, will change signs and remain in Cancer and Capricorn, respectively, for 18 months. Benefic Jupiter, who confers blessings and mercy, will start a one year journey through Libra on Sept 12th. The list goes on.

For those interested in self-discovery, analysis of the individual birth chart and current astronomical conditions is an invaluable tool. Knowledge of Jyotish greatly enhances success when deciding when and when not to perform certain activities. Supportive spiritual practices can be considered as well. Whether facing the unavoidable hardships or deserved joys of life, being prepared by understanding the sky under which we all live is certain to be helpful.

written by: Gwen Burdick

Staff Spotlight—Catherine Ouellette

Catherine was born in North Carolina and received her business degree there before she moved to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. She was employed by Reebok as well as by private groups, as a certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. Her training was varied with teachings in the UK, Germany, Dubai, and Australia. While living in Kuwait for six years, she began practicing yoga with her friends. She wanted to incorporate yoga into her classes and private training sessions.

The basics of fitness training, combined with yoga techniques, have allowed Catherine to create specific lessons and programs to aid individuals with specific physical challenges. Yoga can be enjoyed by all individuals regardless of any limitations. Catherine’s transition from fitness instructor to yoga instructor was a redirection from physical training to a mind-and-body training. Wishing to include the benefits of therapeutic yoga in her teachings, Catherine completed a 100-hr teacher training program in 2002 with Beth Shaw, founder and creator of YogaFit. You will hear Catherine state, “The immense pleasure of helping a student better enjoy everyday life activities makes my heart feel good.”

Catherine relocated to Florida in 2013 and completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training (RYT 200) with The Green Monkey Studios in Naples this year. Currently, she is working on both her 200-hour E-RYT (experienced RYT) and 300-hour RYT in therapeutic yoga practices. She recently moved to Punta Gorda with her husband and discovered The Yoga Sanctuary as a home for her personal practice. “I knew the moment I walked into The Yoga Sanctuary it was a special place—spiritual, helpful, and fulfilling. I am thrilled to become part of the teaching family and look forward to my students learning to benefit from a healthier and mindful life.”

Yogi of the Month—Lily Burdick-Perez

I am a sophomore at North Port High School and just completed my second season with the varsity volleyball team. When I was a freshman, it occurred to me that I lacked the flexibility I needed to condition and compete with this high-level team. My hips hurt so much from my tight hamstrings that I was actually limping as I walked from class to class. Trying yoga was an easy solution because my mom had always encouraged its practice and philosophy for me and my sister as we were growing up.

I started attending Jen’s Gentle class every Sunday morning and learned not only how to stretch properly, but also how to use and control my breath, and how to make corrections to my posture. My performance on the volleyball court improved quickly. I could jump much higher. And pushing myself no longer meant also hurting myself. I even noticed that I was more relaxed during the stressful school week. And I made better food choices because I just felt better.

When my schedule permits, I occasionally get to a different yoga class and have met some of the other instructors this way. Everyone is always so nice to me—it’s a refreshing change from the school environment where I spend way too much time. I have to admit, though, that my favorite part of class is always tea at the end, hopefully with Anna if she’s there.

Yoga Sutra 2.1

Skipping ahead again to yoga sutra 2.1, which states, Tapah svadhyaya ishvara pranidhana kriya yoga: Yoga, in the form of action, has three parts: training and purifying of the senses (tapas), self-study (svadhyaya), and devotion to the creative source from which we emerged (ishvara pranidhana).

Part one of this sutra speaks of the continual practice of yoga, day in and day out, which serves to purify the mind and body. With tapas we come to our mats on a regular basis to do the work. Tapas is a practice of discipline. The rewards of such practice are a healthier mind and body. Tapas tells us that it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Part two is also work, but more the internal type. Svadhyaya is self-study, by way of studying yogic philosophy. To best understand our true nature, we can delve into yogic texts such as the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. These books, among others, are available to help guide us in life by showing us who we really are. Studying philosophic yogic texts helps us to deepen our yoga practice.

Part three helps to round out the yoga practice. Ishvara pranidhara is devotion to our creative source. Such creative source is non-denominational. Yoga is not a religion, but it can be a spiritual practice. Devotion to a higher power, however you choose to believe in it, is a powerful fuel for many yoga practitioners. This element of practice can help us to feel more connected to ourselves, to those around us, and to the world at large.

Yoga sutra 2.1 aims to unite the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of a well-rounded yoga practice. The physical practice, which we are all most familiar with, is only the beginning, this sutra tells us.