Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Give the Gift of Peace on Earth

"Not only does charity begin at home. Everything begins at home, including spirituality."
-Swami Satchidananda

Consider making a donation in someone's name to a non-profit of your choice or one of my favorites:

Save Darfur https://donate.savedarfur.org/08/g_darfur
Save the Children https://secure.ga4.org/01/help_children?source=sq_v001_nat&WT.mc_id=1208_sq_v001_nat
Oxfam International http://www.oxfam.org/en/getinvolved/donate
Americares http://www.americares.org/howtohelp/individuals/

Give the Gift of Health, Well-Being, Fitness & Peace of Mind

Ruah Yoga Private Yoga Sessions Gift Card:

Share the gift of a Ruah Yoga holiday gift card of private yoga sessions!

Peace, Love, Happiness & Yoga from Within

Of course, we all wish for peace in our own lives and for the entire world around us. In yoga, it is said that we cannot control the world around us, but rather we CAN control how we absorb what happens through our senses - through prati (food/thoughts) ahara (control/stop). Peace, love and happiness does not does not come from the outward stimulation - it comes from how we process and perceive things through our senses. The sutras also tell as that where our mind goes, so does our breath and vice versa. When you control and calm the breath through yoga, the mind will follow. When your mind is calm and steady, then you are better able to absorb appreciate and respond to what the world has to offer.

Swami Satchidananda tells the story of the the prisoner and the prison guard - both are in the same place, yet the prison guard feels free while the prisoner feels imprisoned - yet it is all in their minds! Through yoga and meditation anyone can achieve the feeling of peace and liberation. Perhaps if more people in the world practiced some form of yoga, they would feel peace on the inside and in turn become kinder and more patient with others. The world would certainly be a better place!

One of the most powerful and alluring elements of yoga is that it works on bringing the perceived self into unity and harmony with the true self that lies deep within all of us. While the main theme of yoga is to awaken the true self through connecting the mind, the body & the breath, yoga also offers direct and tangible benefits to everyone regardless of who you are and where you come from. Yoga presents not only the chance to connect to your true self, but a means of maintaining overall health, fitness and well-being in your body and your mind!

So, treat yourself in the New Year to a healthy body and peace of mind through the yoga experience! I hope to see you in class soon!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Little by Little...

...the lion catches the monkey in the jungle. (Senegalese proverb)
...grow the bananas. -(Congolese proverb)
...one goes far. (Spanish proverb)
...the bird builds its nest. (French proverb)
...a little becomes a lot. (Tanzanian proverb)
...the camel goes into the couscous. (Moroccan proverb)
...one can make it happen. (Sinhalese proverb)

While living in Senegal and then Sri Lanka, I often heard the phrase by friends and colleagues, little by little… ndank ndank mooy japp golo ci naay or tikak tikin oya karanawa. These small phrases can mean so much!

When we are faced with overwhelming experiences in life, connecting to the present moment and progressing through life little by little enables us to get through any challenging times in our lives.

Every day, news of the economy continues to take the world on a roller coaster with little bits of information lifting us towards hope only to be followed by one more piece of bad news with the stomach turning promise of more to come.

In our own personal lives, we may experience something similar – feeling uplifted with a sense of accomplishment with one experience, and then suddenly feeling overwhelmed with an unexpected change in life.

It is similar to reaching the peak of a mountain to only find out you must descend the other face of the mountain before climbing to yet another peak on the horizon (btw, this actually happened to me years ago in the White Mountains of New Hampshire!).

Perhaps looking forward to the future ahead is something we don't wish to do, fearful of what lies beyond our vision. Yet, moving forward is the only way since the horizon holds our dreams to realize, or even our fears to overcome.

Yoga teaches us to trust that all elements of life have their purpose and will help you discover your life path one step at a time. The Bhagavad Gita reminds us that when we act with good intentions in our hearts, only positive outcomes will follow – of course, there may be a bumpy road along the way!

Life offers us the gift of time that passes with each moment of our breath. One minute passes into the next turning into hours. Days morph into weeks then months. Suddenly before we know it years have past in our life.

Time seems to define us, yet if we can take a moment to be present in our breath, in our minds in our bodies then we may realize that time is ours to define.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Life's Inevitable Change & Processing with Meditation

Last week I had the chance to walk around my home neighborhood - Greenwich Village. As I strolled down the cobblestone streets contemplation passed through my mind of what all of these newly opened shops that keep appearing so quickly represent in life. There is Coach, where an antique store was; Magnolia, where the charming bird store used to be; Le Pain Quotidian, where my favorite Hunan Spring used to be. So much has changed from the days of the quaint, personal and familiar stores lined the neighborhood streets to the times of luxury chain stores able to afford the rent occupying the precious tree-lined streets Sometimes change feels right, or good, other times, it is daunting and confusing as to how it is beneficial to us or society. Most impressionable is when we leave behind something, yet cling to the memory of what the objects and activities represented in life. When we finally return to that person, place or thing, it is occasionally shocking to witness how different things are.

Facebook is a classic example these days! How many old friends have you found (or found you) in utter surprise of how they look today or what they are doing with their lives now? Sometimes it is predictable, other times it is beyond our greatest imagination. So, what do we do when we face overwhelming change or nostalgia - whether it is the season, the buildings on your street, your haircut, your friends the fashion of the moment, your job, your relationship or your body? Yoga reminds us that although everything can and WILL fluctuate around us, it is what we hold inside of us, that connects the universe is constant. We have peace within ourselves.

Have you ever seen the Sex & the City (yes, I watch it) where Charlotte's acupuncturist reminds her that the city will never calm down enough for her to find peace in his office, so she will just have to find peace within herself? Finding peace within is not easy, especially for us NYers who, as my Sri Lankan friend reminds me, RUN not walk quickly around the city and in life. There is hope! We can find peace from within. Especially when we nurture the love for ourselves, love for others, or love for the greater existence that connects us all together. When we let go of any attachment or expectations of an outcome of where/what the change leads to, then we find improved fulfillment in whatever the present state is and recognize the constant strength and familiarity that we have within ourselves.

Along my walk in the Village, before I knew it, I found myself standing at the open garden gates to my very own grade school on Hudson Street. I spent ten wonderful years at St. Luke's in the Fields, another place that I know has also changed a lot. Yet, walking into the garden, I immediately felt familiarity amd comfort in the fragrance of flowers drifting through a warm summer breeze. I was reminded that memories and happiness as a child and throughout life will always be there whether the school or any place is there or not. Just as my experiences and feelings today do not depend on anything happening externally, but rather are influenced by how everything is understood from within the self.

The author and poet Kalidasa once wrote: "...for yesterday is but a dream;and tomorrow is only a vision; but today, well lived, makes every yesterdaya dream of happiness,and every tomorrow a vision of hope.Look well, therefore, to this day!" Kalidasa is on to something! Regardless of the change around us, it is how we absorb the past, the present and the future that matters.


PROCESSING CHANGE WITH MEDITATION:Meditation is a wonderful way to allow processing of any subconscious anxieties, fears, shock, excitement etc. associated with uncomfortable change. Through yoga and meditation, these thoughts and fears rise to your consciousness in a safe way and float away creating space for more meaningful thoughts and understanding. We often avoid things that we do not know or are afraid of. Through sitting down quietly and focusing on the breath or the sound OM, our super consciousness is allowed space to expand into our minds and bodies, relaxing our metabolic system by 15% within the first 3 minutes (as opposed to 5-8% within 5 hours of sleep) and in turn facilitating a peace of mind in our awake state.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Connect to the True Self

We have now entered my favorite transition - spring to summer! This season is the time to cherish being surrounded by warmth, sunshine green trees, flowers (thank goodness for NYC Parks!), outdoor cafes and rooftops! I am sure that everyone also appreciates the extra time getting ready in the morning now that we no longer have to spend extra time getting sweaters, coats, hats and scarves on। However, now that we are able to shed our protective layers of clothing, we also may become increasingly aware of and even self-conscious of our bare bodies.

I often have the conversation with friends that when we are physically active and eating healthy, nourishing foods our self-conscious feelings apparently don't mind going on vacation। However, self-criticism loves to go to work in our minds when we have busy and stressful days/nights that absorb our time and energy so much that we are forced to sit idle – staggering our breath, creating discomfort in our bodies and letting our minds fill with vrittis (busy meaningless thoughts). Fortunately for us, there are remedies right at our fingertips! The answer can be as simple as going for a walk, reading something inspirational, sitting quietly to focus on the breath or watching the sunset. Mr. BKS Iyengar even recommends resting the top of the head or forehead on a surface to help settle your mind, improving your connection to the true self through the mind, breath and body.

Pressure to the top of the head also helps your metabolism through stimulating the hypothalamus, pineal gland and the pituitary gland that assists the endocrine system। Healthy functioning of these glands encourages vitality and chemical balance of our bodies। With our bodies and minds in balance, the motivation to make the time to run, workout, dance or do yoga comes more easily।

Internationally known teacher of Vedic texts, Shubhraji (
http://www.namahom.org/), reminds us the Bhagavad Gita's important lesson that tells us the secret to a fulfilling life when she spells out the Sanskrit word for teacher, "GURU"– "GEE, YOU ARE YOU!" We are all in fact already what we seek to be in life! Yet, to discover what it is that we seek, and whom we are, we must let go of the only thing in life that we truly own – our egos! This is not such an easy task! However, through the expression of love for ourselves and for others, inner peace deepens, our mind quiets down and we experience the great clarity in our lives.

Express love for yourself and others and take care of your body today - get to a yoga class, go to the gym, go for a walk, sit down and be still or just simply step away from your work and enjoy the beautiful weather outside and just being you for a few moments. The greatest teacher is the one within ourselves. When we nurture ourselves with love we are better able to find our true selves, improve our own lives and be there for others.

The New Path Begins

Greetings!

I am pleased to announce the Ruah Yoga blog! As my beloved family and friends know, I love sharing my experiences and ideas as they happen. Ruah Yoga, the blog, is a perfect way to express new philosophies on life, inspiring stories, interesting observations and, of course, cool things that I learn through yoga and living in our

"Where in the city/world is Ruah?" will let you know my latest teaching schedule and any special events going on.

I look forward to getting this blog started and maybe even starting a dialogue in regards to yoga, life and whatever else may come up!

Namaste,

Ruah

Ruah Yoga

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New York, New York, United States
Flow yoga, prenatal yoga, beginner or advanced yoga and spiritual meditation with guidance from NYC yoga instructor Ruah Bhay, M.A. Discover your healthy body and mind with private sessions.