Chanting The Heights Of Raja Yoga (Guru Brahma)

The Heights Of Raja Yoga is a traditional chant with origins in Hindu scriptures including The Guru Gita. Personally, I connect with this chant as an expression of gratitude for my teachers and mentors, and in appreciation of daily opportunities for learning and growth. See below for the translation and click HERE for a call and response audio guide to this chant

Sanskrit:

Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu

Gurudevo Maheshwara!

Gurusakshat Pararbrahma

Tasmai Shrii-Gurave Namaha!

English:

Guru is verily Lord Brahma Guru is verily Lord Vishnu Guru is verily Lord Shiva! Guru is indeed the Supreme To him I bow!

Have You Taken Your Yoga Vitamins?

 

1. Faith (Shraddha)
2. Vigor (Virya)
3. Mindfulness (Smriti)
4. Meditative Consciousness (Samadhi)
5. Discernment (Prajna)
We all need a little pick-me-up from time to time. The same can be said for our yoga practice. While we know that, “to compare is to despair” it does seem at times that yoga and meditation come more easily to some than others. We can fall into the trap of looking around the room in handstand, or Warrior III and comparing someone else’s outsides to our insides.

The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali, a classical text on the practice of yoga, tells us not to fret. Perhaps others seem born blissful, but the rest of us simply need a booster shot of yogic vitamins to assist us on our path.

Yoga Sutra 1.20: To some, liberation comes from the practice of faith, vigor, mindfulness, consciousness and discernment.

“Sraddha Virya Smrti Samadhi Prajna-Purvaka Itaresam”

When we put the yoga vitamins into practice, we have the faith to know we are evolving, growing and learning. With vigor, we direct our energy wisely and learn to practice self-care. With mindfulness, we can pause when uncertain and acertain the right action. With consiousness we can connect to The Divine, and with discernment we begin to “instinctively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.”

My aim is to offer classes that are infused with these life-affirming vitamins. Click here for my full schedule and join me in class again soon <3

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Gluten-Free, Green Power Pancakes

Gluten-Free, Green Power Pancake Recipe

I am not above coloring all my food green in honor of March and Saint Patrick’s Day!

These pancakes are packed with protein and are a great way to get up and go in the morning! I usually make a double batch and freeze them for the week ahead, quickly reheating them in the toaster oven (or microwave) for a quick nutrition packed breakfast on-the-go.



Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Power Seed Mix (Such as Ruth’s Chia Goodness)pancake

1 Tsp Of Green Powder (Like Philosophie’s Green Dream)

1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Cinnamon

Gluten Free Pancake Mix (Such as Pamela’s)



Simply follow the recipe on back on the back of the pancake mix adding the additional ingredients above. I also add nuts and 1/4 cup of whatever fruit I am craving and I sub refined Coconut Oil, such as Spectrum Organics in lieu of vegetable oil.

Asatoma Invocation

Asatoma Invocation

Chanting is a great way to connect to Self. I have been chanting the beautiful Asatoma Invocation in class this month. CLICK HERE for an audio file of some of my students (Thanks Ali and Kristin) and I chanting it call and response style.

Asatomaa sad gamaya
Tamaso maa jyotir gamaya
Mrityormaa amritaam gamayaOm shanti shanti shantihiLead me from the unreal to the real
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality

Om peace, peace, peace

Endless Summer

Even though the kids are back to school and Halloween decorations are up in stores, don’t be fooled; the fall is when things really start to heat up in Los Angeles!

As a ocean-worshiper I always look forward to September and October in LA as the time when it is finally warm enough to bear playing in the ocean with out a wet-suit. I also look forward to the fall as a time to slow down and take a more fluid and gentle approach to my yoga practice in these hotter months.

Below is a short sequence to help cool and calm you as we transition into fall:

1. Cooling Breath (Sheetali Pranayama)
This one looks funny, but feels great.

coolingbreath

Find a quiet calm comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then open your mouth and curl your tongue creating a tube shape. Using your tongue as an air conditioning unit breathe in through your curled tongue and then close your mouth and breathe out through your nose. Practice 15-20 repetitions or continue until your are calmer and cooler.

2. Supta Padangusthasana II&III, (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose) – Flowing version.

Lie on your back. Using a yoga strap, strap around the ball of the right foot. Reach your foot up to the sky extending through the heel of the foot until you get a stretch. Then grabbing both tails of the yoga strap in your right hand turn your right leg deep in your hip socket to the right so your foot externally rotates (looking like a duck or ballerina foot ;) . On a long inhale open the leg to the right into version 2 and then as you take a relaxing exhale sweep the leg across the body into version 3. Repeat slowly on the breath (I always conjure the image of seaweed flowing back and forth). When you feel like your right leg has released tension (or it starts to get a little tingly) switch legs and repeat on the right.

padang

3. Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)
Finding a wall, couch or bed that you can bring your legs up on, elevate your legs for 5-10 minutes. Relax and breathe deeply.

vip

4. Water Meditation
Paraphrased from the book “The Chakra Energy Plan” by Anna Selby

Prepare a bath for yourself of warm to cool water. Submerge yourself and relax completely breathing deeply. Bring your consciousness to focus on the water around you. Observe how the water washes away stress and brings in a sense of ease and calm. Extend your consciousness to visualize the great bodies of water that cover most of the planet – the lakes rivers and oceans. Visualize yourself floating supported completely by water. Enjoy visualizing and when finished gradually bring yourself back to your body and your breath.

Green

pidgeon rock

In March, we “spring forward” into all of spring’s budding possibilities and “Kiss me I’m Irish” shenanigans. We see St. Patrick’s Day decorations and flowering plants begin to sprout up, decorating our world with green.

Green is one of my favorite colors. To me it inspires a sense of grounding and feels clean and crisp. But culturally, we have much conflicting symbolism connected with the color green. Green is as eco-friendly as it is envious, vile as it is lucky, ill as it is fresh.

The fact that the color green symbolizes luck and simultaneously characterizes envy is actually a contradiction that I wrestle with in my own spiritual life. How is it that at one moment I can feel as lucky as a four-leaf clover and the next minute I forget all my blessings and become green with envy over the blessings of another?

The entire first chapter of the Yoga Sutras help us to identify mental pitfalls such as greed (aparigraha) and give us practices to help us transcend. As for eliminating envy, the yoga sutras suggest cultivating happiness for others with grace for ourselves even if it is not our initial response.

Sutra 1.33 In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil. (maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam)

If we still can’t clear up our misperceptions, the more tangible practices of physical yoga, breath work and meditation can help us untangle many of these knots and create a sense of equanimity in our hearts and minds.

Sutra 1.34: The mind is also calmed by regulating the breath, particularly attending to exhalation and the natural stilling of breath that comes from such practice. (prachchhardana vidharanabhyam va pranayama)

If all else fails and you simply can not get out of a green envy funk, the Yoga Sutras suggest practicing contrary action, or ACTING AS IF YOU WERE GRATEFUL:

Sutra 2.33 When these codes of self-regulation or restraint (yamas) and observances or practices of self-training (niyamas) are inhibited from being practiced due to perverse, unwholesome, troublesome, or deviant thoughts, principles in the opposite direction, or contrary thought should be cultivated. (vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam)

Contrary action and contrary thought are some of my MOST useful spiritual tools. Nothing cures inaction like action. Can’t get your mind off of jealousy? Write a gratitude list. Stuck in a self-centered pity party? Go volunteer to help someone in need or simply call to check on someone and ask how THEY are doing instead of getting stuck in yourself.

We all fall into less-than-fresh thinking from time to time. The key is to keep growing, keep practicing and springing forth. As we continue to cultivate clear perception and still the fluctuations of our mind, we will be able to recognize our own truths and see that in our own individual way we are more than lucky, we are complete.

Beth’s Immunity Tea

This is one of my new tactics against my annual sinus infections.

Go to your health food store and buy a small amount of each: cardamom, cinnamon stick, ginger root, turmeric root, black pepper, orange peel, cloves, astralagus root, ashwagandha, juniper berries and a box of rooibus tea for taste. Put about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of each in a tea ball or straight in a pot. Simmer 15-20 minutes – sip and enjoy taking care of your immune system this season.

EASY <3

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Love Yourself

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

love

 

A few days ago I was asked by a friend what the topic of my upcoming newsletter would be. “Self-Love!” I replied excitedly. My friend paused, and asked, “Shouldn’t we be focusing on loving and serving others instead of loving ourselves? Isn’t there enough self obsession in the world?”

This might be true if we were to confuse Self-love with self-obsession.

One need not be consumed with love for themselves to be self-obsessed. In fact, most people who are self-obsessed are gravely insecure. We live in a very judgmental culture. I would venture to guess that way more of us struggle with self-criticism than with self-congratulation. The truth is, we are constantly bombarded by an achievement based and materialistic culture that suggests we need to do more, buy more, and be better. This can consume our minds and obscure our true Divine Nature.

So, what I am speaking to here is not self-obsession. Nor am I suggesting you can gain healthy Self-love through pampering the physical body, or taking self-seeking actions that would harm another. Instead, I urge you to explore the practices of self-care as discussed in the Eight Limbs of the Yoga Sutras.

The Yoga Sutras define the Self as your Soul or your Divinity, your Self with a capital S! Call it Energy, call it Spirit, God, or Universal Consciousness, but when I talk about you loving yourself I am recognizing that you are a Divine Creation. If you have even the vaguest sense of a Spirit/Energy/God within you, then why wouldn’t you treat yourself with the love you would extend to That which you honored and appreciated?

The very first verses of Patanjali’s yoga sutras help illuminate this concept. We have an authentic Self with in us, but often we cannot see it. We mis-identify ourselves with our egos. We compare ourselves with others, and try to figure out if we are “good enough” based on how we measure up to some arbitrary cultural expectations.

Yoga Sutra 1.2 states that, Yoga is the practice of controlling the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind. (yogash chitta vritti nirodhah) and that once we clear out the clamor of the mind – all the mental junk – then, like a dirty mirror wiped clean, we can begin to see our True Self.

1.3 Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-realization.
(tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam)

When we take actions toward Self-love and self-care, through the practices of meditation, asana, and the rest of the eight limbs, we are not so caught up in the mental pitfalls of competition, comparison, and self-doubt. When you love yourself, you can see that you were created perfectly imperfect just as you are. So go ahead, give yourself some love. Accept yourself as you really are and use the tools of Yoga to explore a deeper personal understanding of the Spirit within you.

Power Seed Cereal

 

This is a fast and easy breakfast I eat on the run before my morning classes. The chia seeds give the body sustained energy, and the hemp seeds are an excellent source of protein.

I make a mix of the following seeds ahead of time and store it in a jar in the fridge. I buy all the seeds from the bulk section which you can find at any WholeFoods or health food store. Basically, I add 1/4cup of the seed mix to Greek Yogurt or instant oatmeal and usually add nuts and berries to make it a full bowl. Its SO EASY AND GOOD.

 

chia1

Power Seed Mix:

2 Cups Chia Seeds
2 Cups Hemp Seeds
1 Cup Buckwheat Groats
1 Cup Ground Flax Seeds

 

You may notice that in the photo there is a second jar. The smaller ball jar pictured contains the flax seed. I grind the flax seeds in an old coffee grinder because the body can absorb more nutrition from the flax seeds when they are ground. The reason I keep them separate from the rest of the mix is that flax seeds will go rancid quickly once ground. Click here for more on storing and using seeds.

 

When I add the mix to oatmeal I usually add a little more water to the oatmeal, as chia seeds are hydrophilic and will absorb some of the water. You can use quick oats or traditional oatmeal, whatever method you prefer.

That is pretty much it! It is easy, delicious and a great start to your morning.

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