Class began with a restorative backbend. Students placed a block under the thoracic spine - between the shoulderblades at the back of the heart. Relax and focus on your breathing. After a couple of minutes I shared a reading from Guruji Reverend Jaganath Carrera's, Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras p.45
"Is it ok for a yogi to have chocolate ice cream from Maygolds?" Maygolds was a dairy farm and resturant about twenty minutes from the ashram. [The original Integral Yogaville Ashram founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda was in Connecticut.] It was popular with ashram residents who enjoyed dipping into one of the resturant's homemade desserts on warm summer evenings.
"That is a very good question. Allow me to answer it in this way. Everyone please imagine that tonight's program has ended. It is very warm outside and you decide to go to Maygolds for some chocolate ice cream. Is everybody with me so far?
"So you drive over to Maygolds, order an extra large chocolate sundae. Can you taste it? Is it good?"
"Yes, Gurudev." I suspect that a few ashramites were ready to turn this exercise of imagination into a reality once the program was over.
"Are you feeling happy?"
"Okay, fine. Now, let's try it again, but with one small change. After the program, you drive to Maygolds, but find it is closed. How do you feel now? Are you still happy? If the answer is yes, then its ok for you to occasionally have some ice cream. If the answer is no, it is better for you to stay away from it for awhile and analyze your attachment to it."
We have to ask ourselves if we are really enjoying life or if we are simply on a roller-coaster ride of cravings, the efforts to fulfill them, and temporary satisfaction. Scratching an itch does not bring happiness, only temporary relief, followed by more itchiness and irritation."
Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.15 Non-attachment is the manifestation of self-mastery in one who is free from craving for objects seen or heard about.
When we hear or see something it creates a desire in our mind, "I want that." I smell apple pie baking and I want to eat apple pie. I see people eating ice cream, I want ice cream. Ask yourself, "Do I need it or not?" Attachments get people to act or live in a certain way because you want it to be that way. I, me mine!!! My morning coffee! Just like in Karma Yoga, when dealing with attachments begin to turn the selfish desires into selfless actions. Act for the common good. Don't change your activities, just change the attitude behind the relationship to the actitvity. So maybe you like sugar in your coffee and you want to begin to remove that attachment. You can start by using say two spoonfuls instead of three, and slowly work your way down to no sugar. Once you are unattached, you can occasionally have the sweetener and it will have no effect on your mind, because you know that the sugar does not bring you happiness. (Remember happiness, peace, and love -- those are the qualities of our True Nature -- so fulfilling temporary desires does not make us happy.) It's not to say that you cannot enjoy pleasures, just be aware of your thought process in acquiring your desires. "There is that which is good and that which is pleasurable. The wise choose what is good." (Lord Yama, the Lord of Death, to Nachi Keta) Anything that brings pleasure comes and goes. Change is the nature of life.
Sequence: Sukhasana for 3 OM's and non-attachment discussion. Simple seated twist, Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (upward bound hands), Gomukasana (cow face pose), tabletop, cat/cow, Balasana (child's pose) > Ashtangasana (eight pointed pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) peddle the feet out at first, stretching one heel down towards the earth at a time. Uttanasana (standing forward bend) Tadasana (mountain pose). Surya Namaskara (sun salutation): Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana - slight backbend, Uttanasana, lunge, Adho Mukha Svanasana, plank, Ashtangasana, Bhujangasana, Balasana, table, Ustrasana and reverse to stand, 2x.
Harriet, my lovely assistant took over at this point to teach three poses at the wall. Virabhadrasana II (warrior II), Trikonasana (triangle pose) and Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose). She did a great job this week, using her developing yoga voice. Her instructions were a little clearer as she is gaining more confidence.
I took over leading the students back to their mat to try Trikonasana and Ardha Chandrasana again, this time without the support of the wall. [The wall, or any prop, teaches the body the intelligence of a pose and since our muscles retain memory, the more we use the props in the proper way, the more intelligence and intregrity will be in our poses.] Virabhadrasana I (warrior I) > Parsvottanasana (sideways extended pose). Bhujangasana (cobra pose) 3x, Bekasana (frog pose), Dhanurasana (bow pose), Setubhandha Sarvangasana 3x, Apanasana (yoga hug- knees into chest), single knee into chest, Supta Padangusthasana (supine big toe pose), Jathara Parivartanasana (stomach twisting pose), Savasana (final relaxation pose, corpse pose) with guided relaxation. Coming out of Savasana, Harriet and I played crystal chakra singing bowls for the students. Harriet played the heart bowl (4) and I played the third eye bowl (6).
"There is that which is good and that which is pleasurable, the wise choose that which is good."
Ending peace chants:
Asaato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real.
Lead us from darkness to the Light.
Lead us from the fear of death
To the knowledge of Immortality.
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!
Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu -- May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light.