Barbra Brady

Archive for the ‘Yoga’ Category

Lap Pool Lust, Shanghai

In Swimming, Today's Lesson on August 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Lap Pool Lust, beautiful swimming pools

Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao’s indoor swimming pool

Dateline, me:

Day 7 of working on my at-home exam to gain Level II Certification from the prodigious and Divine trainings of ParaYoga and Yogarupa Rod Stryker.

My head is swimming with elaborate and ambitious Tantric techniques. And then I run across this pool. I would so love to rejuvenate my body in this swim.

That last sentence? Utter Tantra. Bhoga, to be exact.

There’s an answer for you.

The Baseball Sutra 2011

In It's Not About the Asana, Yoga on October 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Creative Commons License photo credit: kevin dooley

I have an unexpected, playful answer to the question, What is yoga?

Baseball, yogis, it’s baseball.

You see, it is now October. Which means, in the best interest of my soul, I’m kickin’ Wall Street to the curb for now.  Because during this month each year, my meditation practice includes watching the World Series, and my yoga mat is diamond-shaped.

I love baseball for the very reason those who hate it, hate it (same is true of my love of cats). “It’s too slow.” “It’s boring.” “Nothing is happening.” My take = it’s about the subtleties, the nuances of the present moment. So is yoga. Contrary to what many beginning (and even continuing) practitioners believe, the more “advanced” the yogi, the more subtle the practice.Extravagant, flamboyant poses do not necessarily an advanced yogi make.

In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali writes about the stilling of the mind, quieting the waves of the chockfull storehouse of our thoughts. Just watch an exchange among pitcher, catcher, and batter (even a comedic one). Patanjali mentions asana in only three sutras, 2:46-2:48, and they all could be applied to what happens in baseball.

The first sutra on asana (asana means seat–what else is the pitcher’s mound?), 2:46, is on how to doasana–with steadiness and ease. It is to remain in a “good place,” or sukha, and not let anything in your space. Sutra 2:47 tells us how to master asana, which is to while in that good space, meditate on the infinite. Loosening your effort into the infinite… The final asana sutra, 2:48, illumines what happens when we do master asana in this way: you will not be pulled off base by the pairs of opposites, or those things which we tend to either harbor or avoid.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Zach Heller Photography

The Texas Rangers and the  St. Louis Cardinals have practiced their way to the 2011 World Series. At least to some degree, it was by mastering those sutras. One may have to observe closely to see it this way, but that is exactly my point.

Baseball is brilliantly subtle, while vastly complex.

 It is filled with nuance, defined by detail, and when made manifest by its true adepts, is anequanimity of fearlessness and joy… Just like yoga. Yoga is skill in action. Baseball, too, possesses the quietude, timelessness, and the opportunity for stillness which defines such skillful action. (But that is another scripture up my pin-striped sleeve, The Baseball Gita). If you’d like to be prepared, dear student, get out your Gitas.

Do I have any fellow “baseball is yogic” fans? There are some fantastic baseball metaphors ripe for yoga teachers, what are yours? Let’s play ball! (Er, yoga.) I’ll leave you with one of my favorite yoga teaching mantras, one that is honored by the best hitters in the business of baseball:

Be Patient at the Plate.  

first published on yogamodern.com

Extremists for Grace, Extremists for Love: A Radical Step for the Occupy Movement

In Today's Practice on October 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

The energy that is percolating around Occupy Wall Street is magnetic. It is expansive, it pulsates, is alive with a vibrant expression that cannot be contained. Wow. That sounds eerily, spookily like…Love.

What if the most radical thing about Occupy Wall Street is the power of love? Love as passionas a call to rise to take critical care of all we hold dear? It is the power of intention that brews in our very being, erupting into a Nothing can stop meaction. Love was the radical power in St. Francis, that crazy wild man of God, when he invited us to become extremists for grace, extremists for love.

In Occupy Wall Street, (OWS) and the spreading Occupation, action is being taken, alright, from sea to taken-advantage-of sea. If you’ve been reading my posts of late, you know that when it comes to feeling the darts of scarcity, unemployment, no health insurance, and my home up for grabs, I’ve got a beef or twoI’m a veritable carnivore. I have harbored a radical in my soul since the days of hippies, Yippies, and the Chicago Seven (I was way too young to be there, but I was mad for them), and now Occupy looks like my chance to be a part. In San Francisco, no less. Gentle Readers, when I do go to sit, chant, or march, I plan to leave my heart in San Francisco.

You see, in addition to feeling a direct hit from what caused OWS, I recently read a post on Yoga Set Free that inspired another spark in me. In it, author and yoga teacher Anne Jablonski urges:

Occupy your heart

“Anger is exhausting. And depleting. Love is not…When we look into another pair of eyes, if all we’re determined to see is someone who is wrong, whose behavior and actions we abhor, who is ‘other,’ then that’s all we’re going to see.  And that’s all they’re going to see us seeing.  But if we take a little leap of faith to ask, “Is there something else going on? Is there love here?”  Then a whole new paradigm becomes possible.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: ruurmo

I believe it is not through the blind ambition of anger that we find a wide open path to resolution. It is not through gazing through rose-colored glasses at our navels that we see our way to change what no longer works. It is through a courageous merging of the power of love with what spurs our soul. It is through what feminist theologist Sharon D. Welch, calls “sheer holy boldness.

Sheer, holy boldness. I first read those three huge words in grad school, nearly 20 years ago, and their grip has never let me go. In the deepest, darkest night of the soul, Welch’s words cradled me, dried my tears, and reassured me that while I may at times feel “sheer” and fragile, if I relax and let myself feel my inherent holinessI am all bold. 

Eve Ensler writes on Huffington Post: “Occupy Wall Street is a work of art, exploding onto a canvas in search of form, in search of an image, a vision.”  Think about it: a work of art. Action + imagination is the surest way I know to occupy my heart with its most precious residents.

The creative process is infinitely fertile, fecund.  It was a muse when Deepak Chopra  lead a meditation for Occupy Wall Street, posted on Occupy Within: a Movement in Awakening:

“Ask yourself internally, what kind of world do I want to live in? And listen. And now ask yourself, How can I make that happen from a place of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity? Simple anger will only perpetuate what already is out there. It was created by greed and fear. We have to go beyond that and come from a place of compassion, centered equanimity, and creativity.”

It is radically important that we get quiet and listen to the “messengers” that tell us what kind of world we want to live in. There is an amazing power in being still enough to hear the messages. And when we do, we may become a holy vessel. The heart. I can think of nothing else big enough to contain the sum total of shakti (power) that is our potential. And that, is radical.

Our minds will not be still until we take the time to listen, and respond to the pleading, sometimes pounding, messages that beat in our souls. What messages occupy your heart, and what practices do you devote to the messenger?

First published on yogamodern.com

Believer, Agnostic, or Atheist? Why does it have to be one of the above?

In Today's Lesson on April 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

As a yoga teacher who is deeply guided by my spiritual world view (and the simple amazement of the universe as a wave of beauty and bliss), I have found myself befuddled in the past when discussing religion with some of my very intelligent friends who, because they have issues with strict, often short-sighted, organized religion, put on the blinders of Atheism. I have yet to have a properly gentle comeback about…the simple wonders of the universe as clearly Divine…

As is often the case, San Francisco Chronicle columnist and yoga teacher Mark Morford comes, miraculous-like, to my rescue.

Behold!

Why Atheism is just as narrow-minded as right-winged Christianity.

Pranic Footprint: Taking Responsibility for the Energy You Generate

In It's Not About the Asana on January 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Part II

In the Tantric tradition of yoga, we understand that energy follows thought. Thought matters. That that you think, you unleash. It matters what kind of energy you send out into the world. A projection of energy can happen with a mere thought.

Step mindfully. Just as it is harmful to leave behind a carbon footprint, and we can typically lessen that load in the course of our day-to-day world, the quality of prana you leave behind can be harmful. Negative energy set forth by ill thoughts, unkind words, and wrong action has its imprint. Sticks, stones, and words can hurt.

Recall a time you stepped into a room and immediately felt unwelcome, sensed a certain repulsive force. One unseen, but surely felt. That’s negative pranic energy left behind by a negative thought, word, or action, likely unwittingly by the generating party. Think: Bad Vibes. Getting the icky idea?

Conversely, we can choose to leave a positive pranic footprint. You know how you feel better just being in the presence of some people? Even in passing on the sidewalk? We sense a calm, an open space, a feeling that all is well. A kind glance, word, smile–can work magic on those around you. People you don’t even know, or see. This energy also lingers, its footprint beautiful. It is of a quality that leaves the world a better place.

So, think, speak, and do mindfully, dear readers. The energy you save will fill your, and perhaps the world’s reserves of happiness.

State of Union Address: What's Your Pranic Footprint?

In It's Not About the Asana on January 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

For my 2011 State of Union Address (i.e., State of Yoga), I’d like to bring attention to Pranic Footprint. President Obama made mention of greening up our energy in his State of the Union address. But what about our pranic energy? Do we stop to consider the impact our own energy has on our environment?

If you’re not clear where I’m headed with this, think about the last time you were in a room with one or more hyper people, or on the freeway with other drivers very determined to move ahead. Maybe you’ve witnessed someone enter a room seeping negativity, or know someone who drains your energy to the point you cannot bare to be around them. Their energetic drain depletes you long after you’ve parted company. Know the icky, uncomfortable, Get me outta here feeling?

This is what I mean by pranic footprint. Just like a carbon footprint, the energy we bring to a thought, action, word, situation, or even a room has its effects. The energy we bring lingers. In some cases this imprint has a half-life of many lives. In a time when we are more aware, and cautious of, the impact of our material consumption and expenditures, what if we all become equally mindful of where–and how–we put our energy?

to be continued…

Introduction to Hatha Yoga Series in Sonoma

In Yoga on January 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

If you’ve been practicing yoga for awhile, I know you still remember the incomparable feelings and memories of your very first steps into the practice. This is what happens when we discover yoga.

But for those who have not yet stepped onto the amazing piece of real estate known as a “yoga mat,” the thought of walking into a classroom where everybody seems to know the names of the poses at the very least, or to be able to arrange their bodies into (seemingly) impossible poses, can be intimidating. It can even be intimidating to admit it is intimidating!

As a well established practitioner and teacher of yoga, my first words to those newbies is, “You are so lucky!”I remember my first exposure to yoga, and it is one of the most extraordinary, blissful, and valuable occurrences of my life. Of my life! And I am fortunate to have had a colorful and full life, rich in all flavor of experience.

If you haven’t yet had the courage to step into a yoga class, and you are in Sonoma, This is Your Chance to Change the Rest of Your Life! Beginning this Friday evening at 5:30, I’ll be teaching Introduction to Hatha Yoga at Parkpoint Health Club in Sonoma. It is open to both members and non-members, and is a very affordable price.

As a friend said to me many years ago when I was pondering this new adventure (but a little intimidated),

“Think of it as the beginning of a vacation that will last the rest of your life.”

Big promise, I know. But. I promise!

P.S., One of the “side effects” of yoga is increased courage and self-esteem!

Call Parkpoint for details. 707-996-3111. And. I hope to see you there, you lucky newbie yogi!

Barbra

Yoga Workshop with Barbra January 22

In Yoga on January 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm


Practicing Yoga with Mantra:

The Real Power Yoga

Saturday January 22, 2011, 3-5 pm, Yoga Community, Sonoma, CA

 

Ignite your own inner power in the new year through the simple power and grace of connecting yoga asana and meditation with sound (mantra).

Want to learn to chant but feel it’s hard to “learn the words?” Love to move with sound while practicing yoga?

One of the easiest and most fun ways to learn yoga’s traditional mantras is to chant while practicing asana. In this two hour extended practice we will practice yoga asana incorporating the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra, one of the most traditional and powerful of all mantras, and end with a meditation on Aum, or Pranava (Ishvara Pranidhana) according to  Patanjali’s outline in the Yoga Sutra. The effects of the practice are absolutely transcendent.

The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is a healing, nourishing, and strengthening mantra. The healing force awakened by this mantra sends forth its ripples from the body to the mind to the soul. It strengthens the power of will, knowledge and action, unblocking fear and the flow of enthusiasm, courage and determination. The vibration of this mantra empowers us to overcome all obstacles while empowering the healer within. It removes physical, mental, and celestial ailments to bring auspiciousness and happiness to life.

It’s promise is well revealed by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Director of the Himalayan Institue:   May the light of your knowledge be bright enough to dispel the darkness of your ignorance.

Like the descent through layers of tension to rest in the release of Savasana, Ishvara pranidhana provides a pathway through the obstacles of our ego toward our divine nature—grace, peace, unconditional love, clarity, and freedom. Shiva Rea

Swami Rama Speaks

In It's Not About the Asana on December 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

The Lord dwells in me. I am a finite vessel, and Infinity dwells within this vessel.

Swami Rama

…This is what Tantra is about.

This Week's Practice: Incandescence

In Yoga on December 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm

 

Class Theme for the week = Incandescence

Incandescense…your subtle, steady inner glow.

Experience it.

Establish it in my classes at Yoga Community for the next week.

Serene, focused Subtle Energy Yoga.

The coming solstice is most auspicious. It hosts a lunar eclipse. In Vedic astrology (jyotish) is it magically portentous.

Classes this week will be “geared” to increase sensitivity to the moon element (mind), to steady it into a resonant stillness.

Indulge yourself in presence.

For schedule visit www.yogacommunity.net.

(Private lessons also available.)