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Posts Tagged ‘Dharma’

Yoga Therapy: A Living Healing Tradition Part 2

Posted on March 13th, 2017 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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The City Dweller and the Nine Cities

By Gary Kraftsow

As the ancients recognized, human experience plays out on a vast multidimensional field characterized by change. These dimensions—thought, mood, behavior, the body’s physiology, the physical body itself, family, society, the physical environment, and the surrounding cosmos—can be thought of as “cities” and represented as spheres that overlap and interpenetrate one another. This nine-city model is my extrapolation and synthesis of teachings implicit in Upanishadic and Western models of the human system. Each sphere carries the potential to affect and be affected by each of the other spheres. The innermost essence of who we are—purusha, or pure undifferentiated awareness—dwells within and pervades each of these nine cities.

The first three overlapping cities constitute svabhava, our basic human character or personality, our sense of self. The ancients devised methods and a practice-based process, sadhana, to help us break our identification with changing experience, see things clearly as they are, and therefore gain the insight that leads to freedom. As our sadhana advances, svabhava becomes progressively purified and transparent until it becomes emptied, revealing svarupa, our true nature, the power of pure awareness.

Until then, our self-identity and our self-image is this interface, svabhava, formed by three interpenetrating aspects of our mind: thought, mood, and behavior. When an event triggers a reaction in one dimension, it can drive activity in another. This is understood clearly in Western psychotherapy.

Looking at each dimension separately, the thought sphere represents our self-concept, our values, our priorities, and all of our cognition about the world in which we live, including our relationship with those ideas. Our goal in yoga practice is to attain clarity of thought, which requires wisdom and discrimination. Traditional yogic methods of cultivating wisdom and the ability to discriminate include vichara (inquiry), svadhyaya (self-reflection), and the study of sacred texts.

The mood sphere represents our changing emotional responses in relation to internal and external changes. Our moods are also profoundly influenced by our conscious memories and, even more significantly, by our unconscious conditioning. This sphere of our emotions is further influenced by our changing thoughts and behavior and can, in turn, influence each of these spheres as well. Traditional yogic methods of working within the mood sphere include meditation, chanting, mantra japa (repetition of mantra) with an emphasis on artha (meaning) and bhava (feeling or attitude), and prayer; sangha (right relationships); and satsanga (association with what is ultimately true). These methods help cultivate prema (love) and ananda (bliss).

The behavior sphere represents all of our habitual addictive patterns as well as intentional activity. As with the other spheres, our behavior is profoundly influenced by our conscious memories and unconscious conditioning. It is also influenced by our changing thoughts and moods and, in turn, influences our experience in each of these spheres. Intention and strength of will underlie behavior. Sankalpa, determination, implies the ability to strengthen our will and to set and activate an intention. Sankalpa is the foundation of all yogic practice. Determination is what helps us overcome our habits and develop our capacity for impulse control. Traditional methods of activating intention and strengthening the will involve practices that are done consciously through sustained effort with an emphasis on tapas (discipline) and self-restraint. This could involve, for example, giving something up that we are habituated to, such as a particular type of food. These methods may also include mantra japa and ritual.

One of the fundamental goals in yoga and yoga therapy is to become free from the twisted journey of our thoughts, feelings, desires, conflicts, distractions, and habitual and dysfunctional behavioral patterns, all of which dissipate our energy.

All three of these spheres interpenetrate and influence each other and each is profoundly affected and even driven by our conscious memories and unconscious conditioning. One of the fundamental goals in yoga and yoga therapy is to become free from the twisted journey of our thoughts, feelings, desires, conflicts, distractions, and habitual and dysfunctional behavioral patterns, all of which dissipate our energy. Toward this end, yoga places a great deal of importance on purifying our memory and elevating our unconscious conditioning to the level of the conscious mind. Making these unconscious impressions and impulses conscious is the first step toward freeing us from their influence. The integrated practice of linking breath, sound, meaning, and feeling through pranayama, meditation, and mantra japa powerfully helps us harness and direct the totality of our undissipated energy toward this deep transformation.

The dynamic interplay among the three internal spheres (thought, mood, behavior) influences and is influenced by the next sphere: physiology. The physiological sphere represents the various bodily systems, including, and of particular importance to yoga, the sympathetic/parasympathetic function of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS, along with the endocrine system, regulates the other physiological functions of the body, such as digestion, respiration, and cardiovascular rhythms. The sympathetic function is the “fight or flight” response, activated when we perceive danger. The parasympathetic function is the “rest and repose” response activated when we are at rest. The yogic insight about the mind-body relationship coincides with the modern field of psychoneuroimmunology and shows how our ANS responds profoundly to the inner spheres, which represent our changing thoughts, emotions, and behavior, as well as the outer spheres beyond our physiology.

The most potent traditional methods of working with the physiological sphere are controlled breath in asana and pranayama, and forms of relaxation, including yoga nidra. In the dimension of physiology, breath work can, among other things, help to increase respiratory fitness, balance cardiovascular rhythm, stimulate immune function, and promote sympathetic/parasympathetic regulation. In addition, there are teachings and practices about the conscious use of dietary restrictions, as well as the use of cleansing techniques and herbal preparations.

The next sphere comprises our anatomy and represents our physical structure, encompassing the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. This includes the somatic nervous system, also called the voluntary nervous system, which enables us to react consciously to environmental changes. As with the physiological sphere, the condition of our anatomical sphere is profoundly influenced by all of the inner spheres as well as the outer spheres beyond our anatomy.

Asana is the traditional primary yogic method of working with the anatomical sphere. Among other benefits, asana can help improve structural or skeletal alignment, increase structural stability, release chronic muscular contractions, strengthen what’s weak, and develop functional movement patterns.

The remaining four spheres represent increasingly external dimensions of human experience. These include:

  • our most intimate family relationships;
  • our social circle, including colleagues at work and political and economic cultures;
  • the natural world, including the environment, climate, and changes in the weather; and
  • the larger cosmos, encompassing the influence of the stars and planets.

Whereas the primary work in the inner spheres includes asana, pranayama, meditation, and mantra japa, work on the outer spheres includes:

  • forms of svadhyaya, self-reflection, that help us understand svadharma, our deeper purpose in life;
  • sanga, our right relationship to the people in our family and intimate society, as well as our relationship to the physical environment in which we live;
  • study and contemplation that helps us set a direction for our future;
  • personal and collective rituals to support our individual and collective intentions; and
  • study of our relationship to the greater cosmic environment through the science of Jyotish and the use of gems, mantra, and ritual to support benefic planetary influences and reduce malefic planetary influences.

There is an ocean of teachings that come from Vedic sources that address the outer cities. However, the full elaboration of these methods is far beyond the scope of this article.

For most of us, the influences from these various spheres are all mixed together (sankirna), and we don’t realize their mutual influence on each other or how to separate them. The yoga tradition offers methods for helping us recognize and separate them, and understand and apply appropriate methods to influence the direction of change in each dimension.

To learn more about Gary Kraftsow, check out his DVDs including Yoga for Anxiety and Depression on Yoga of Low and Upper Back here at Pranamaya.

This article was originally posted on Yoga International.

KraftsowGary Kraftsow

Gary Kraftsow, the leading proponent of viniyoga therapy in the US, has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for 30 years. After studying in India with T.K.V. Desikachar and his father T. Krishnamacharya, Gary received a special diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris. In 1999 he founded the American Viniyoga Institute where he is currently director and senior teacher of the Institute’s teacher and therapist trainings.

 

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FULFILLING YOUR DHARMA

Posted on February 28th, 2017 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Buddha_pranamaya

 

 

By Gary Kraftsow

We all have certain fundamental responsibilities and obligations to fulfill in life. As parents, we have a responsibility to our children. As adult children, we have a responsibility to our elderly parents. As husbands and wives, we have a responsibility to our mates. As social beings, we have responsibilities to our employers, employees, society, and government. As students, we have responsibilities to our teachers . And, as teachers, we have responsibilities to our students.

These responsibilities must be fulfilled—they constitute a personal dharma from which there is no honorable escape. They are the basic requirements that give our lives the order and cohesion that hold us together and that support us on our journey through time. To see the truth in this we need only observe how rapidly our lives begin to fall apart once we become unable, or unwilling, to fulfill our basic personal responsibilities.

Beyond these personal responsibilities, there is also an ultimate dharma—a responsibility to that which we all share in common, to a univesal common good. This is described variously according to different traditions, the common thread being the fulfillment of our highest potential as human beings. The ancients suggested that the first step toward fulfilling this ultimate aim lies in the fulfillment of our personal responsibilities. All too often we use our ideas of the spiritual realm as an escape from the real situations of our lives that face us day to day. And thus they taught “dharma rakṣati rakṣata,” which loosely translated means “as we take care of our responsibilities, we will be taken care of.”

Excerpt from: Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind,and Heart by Gary Kraftsow.

 

KraftsowGary Kraftsow

Gary Kraftsow, the leading proponent of viniyoga therapy in the US, has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for 30 years. After studying in India with T.K.V. Desikachar and his father T. Krishnamacharya, Gary received a special diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris. In 1999 he founded the American Viniyoga Institute where he is currently director and senior teacher of the Institute’s teacher and therapist trainings.

To learn more about Gary Kraftsow, check out his DVDs here at Pranamaya.

 

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Conscious Gift Giving Guide

Posted on February 4th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

love

by Sabrina Samedi

There is something magical about this time of year, maybe it’s the million volts of electricity that light up Main Streets around the globe and ignite our hearts. Perhaps it’s the euphoric sensation about gathering around those we love the most, but the essence of gratitude and generosity is deeply rooted in our intentions, our actions and our emotions. With the holiday season upon us, the ritual of gift-exchange is a major component of rejoicing in the holidays offering incredible emotional benefits as well! There is a positive lift in our emotional relationship to ourselves and the recipient of our gifts as we search for the perfect token of appreciation for those we care so deeply for. When we give without expecting anything in exchange- we are paying it forward as they say- setting in motion a positive karmic chain in the universe inspiring others to radiate as well as attract positivity into their own lives.

As such, let’s start a shopping and giving revolution! The next time we decide to hit the malls and boutiques or indulge in a cyber-crazed shopping spree, let’s re-shift our focus from the clearance racks to the mission behind each product and give from our intention and our hearts; thus, living through our intention of gratitude not just during the holidays, but all year long. Let’s ask ourselves, what is the intention behind the gift I am giving? Beyond bringing temporary bliss, will my gift offer lasting sentiments geared towards growth, happiness and hopefully, usefulness. We express ourselves, our tastes, our interests, and sometimes advocate our principles via the products we utilize, give, wear and embody. Below is a list of gift ideas inspired by products, hard-working, soul-driven people whom we believe in supporting their cause, their mission and spreading the beauty of the gifts they have to offer. Happy Holidays!

Of course you can use the PROMO CODE SACREDCOW for 10% off of any item at www.pranamya.com Including EGIFT CARDS but here are some of our favorite finds.

Gifts that Give Back

krochet kids

 

Krochet Kids: A non-profit brand that empowers people in Uganda to rise above poverty by creating, selling apparel knit & crochet hats for babies men and women. Stay warm this chilly season with an intrinsic and heart-felt beanie because every product is hand-signed by the person who made it, giving it a wonderfully unique touch. View more of their creative designs at www.krochetkids.org.

roma boots

 

Roma Boots: Everyone needs a favorite pair of boots this winter season! For every pair of Roma Boots sold, a new pair of boots, along with school supplies, is donated to a child in need. Slip some on at www.romaboots.com.

 

esperos bag 2

                                                                                                                                                                             Esperos Bag: The perfect bag to carry all your  daily    essentials. Esperos Bag believes that literacy plays a vital  role in one’s future success. Thus, with each  bag purchased,  Esperos helps send a child in need to school for a year. To  support Esperos’ mission check out www.esperosbags.com.

stone and cloth

 

 

Stone and Cloth: Every purchase of a Stone and Cloth product helps to provide scholarships for students in need. To learn more and check out their rad products, visit www.stoneandcloth.com.                      

 

Intention, Divination and Tarot

Empowered Life 14 Empowered Life: The Empowered Life Activation Kit includes  The Empowered Life CD download of 7 Guided Meditations and  a set of 72  Soul  Cards to assist the reader on a journey towards  self-knowledge,  healing and  empowerment. The cards and  meditations can be used  together as a 40 day  Empowerment  practice, as daily inspiration for  contemplation or as a  compliment to one’s meditation and yoga nidra  practices. The kit is perfect to jump start and guide one through a 40 day empowerment practice to create change and understanding within one’s self. For more information about Empowered Life visit www.empoweredlife.yoga.

 

yantra wisdom

Yantra Wisdom: The Yantra Wisdom deck of 39 cards, as inspired by Chanti Tacoronte-Perez, offers you a quick way to shift your perspective as well as to engage with your intuition and creative self which can provide clarity. The Yantra Wisdom deck gives readers an insight to the symbol of the yantra as well as an affirmation to repeat. For more information about the wisdom shared amongst this deck visit www.yantrawisdom.com.

 

wild unkown

Wild Unknown: Committed to the inner quest and the journey of  transformation, Kim Krans illustrated the The Wild Unknown  Tarot  Deck. The deck includes 78 cards filled with magical and  mysterious  imagery. Perfect for seasoned as well as new readers,  the cards come in a  beautiful box with a lifting ribbon and fold-out  guide to get you familiar  with the cards. Kim Krans invites  potential readers to open their minds,  draw a card and enjoy the  journey. To learn more about the tarot deck  visit  www.thewildunknown.com.

 

 

Feel Good and Look Good

purusha peoplePurusha People: Founded by Hayley Elliot and motivated by the belief that what we wear next to skin along side the creative process to make such clothing is sacred, Purusha People aims to help YOU tell your story via their expressive and stunning designs. Humbling respecting all aspects of the creative production process, Purusha People sources the most organic and softest fibers while using non-toxic water based ink and low impact dyes, and paying workers a livable wage locally in Los Angeles. To view and shop their apparel visit www.purushapeople.com.

 

zen nomad                                                                                                   Zen Nomad: Committed to the belief that luxury and  sustainability can  successfully coexist, Zen Nomad  manufactures each and every piece of    their clothing in  Toronto sustainably sourcing the highest quality fabrics.  Zen Nomad aims to help you move through your day  with ease and comfort  investing in the philosophy that  peace in your body is peace in our minds  and peace in  our spirits. To shop their look book visit  www.zennomad.ca.

 

aya papaya

                                                                                                  Aya Papaya: Designed for women who are in movement, Aya Papaya clothing as manifested by founder Aya Iwaski is meant to make the goddess wearing such pieces feel comfortable yet stylish. Aya wants you to be able to dance, play and work in her creations. To view the essence of grace and strength behind all her designs, visit www.ayapapaya.com.

 

Sacred Jewelry
The Sattva Collection: Rooted in the intention of awakening to our innate wisdom and connection to our inner trthe sattva collectionuth The Sattva Collection is a global lifestyle brand committed to supporting treasured communites around the world and creating jobs for local artisans. The Sattva Collection uses precious and semi-precious stones sourced globally and akin to all their hand-crafted objects, each gem from their collection holds within itself an intrinsic meaning that can have a profoundly positive impact on the wearer. For more information on the communities The Sattva Collection supports and to view their product gallery, visit www.thesattvacollection.com.

 

Seeds of Remembrance: Shop owner Alexa Webster offers you her heart through her love-infused works of heart in her Seeds of Remembraseeds of remembrancence etsy shop. Her collection of high vibration, one-of-a-kind genuine gemstone, hand-tied, prayer malas are designed to support awakening through intention adornment Japa mediation. Alexa identifies the prayer malas as a magnificent tool for connecting and an opportunity to tune in and recognize the internal mystery unfolding in each moment. To shop her malas, visit www.etsy.com/shop/SeedsofRemembrance.

 

earth bands Earth Bands: Earth Bands want everyone to take, embrace and share  the message that by simply wearing an Earth Band you can empower  yourself  and elevate self-awareness. Earth Band’s mission is to raise  humanity’s vibration by connecting us to the things we love- Mother  Nature, our favorite sports and important causes we can’t wait to rally  behind. Earth Bands gather earth and sand from special places and  create unique, handmade, 100% American-sourced Earth Bands. To  shop through these Eco-Ethical products visit www.earthbands.co.

 

Artists Treasures for Your Home

vine and thistle                                                                                                           

Vine and Thistles (Etsy): Send a trinket of love to your dearest friends and family this holiday season. Alicia Schultz, owner of etsy shop Vine and Thistle offers custom hand lettering art and designs included personalized wooden stamps, gift tags, adult coloring book calendars, hand-lettered quote cards and personal stationary items. To shop through Vine and Thistle’s inspiring products visit www.etsy.com/shop/vineandthistle.

 

j drew carpetry

J Drew Carpentry (Etsy): A second generation carpenter with  a love  for hardwoods, oil finishes and structural planks, Drew  Silvers finds  beauty in re-purposing and bringing new life back  to the old charm of  barn wood and materials which some  would consider useless. To shop  Drew’s creative and reclaimed  works of art, visit  www.etsy.com/shop/JDrewCarpentry.

 

 

Self-Care and Nurturing

aromabliss Aromabliss Ayurveda: Aromabliss is a botanically infused, artisan quality skin and body treatment line of elixirs based on the profound nature-based wisdom of Ayurveda, Aromatherapy and Herbology. Aromabliss products are individually hand mixed in small batches and scented with the highest quality organic, wild-crafted and environmentally sustainable herbs, plants and oils. To see if these physically, mentally and emotionally enhancing products are right for you, visit www.aromabliss.com.

 

vital yogi Vital Yogi Herbals: Owner of Vital Yogi Herbals and educator of the  Science and Philosophy of Tantric Hatha Yoga, Herbalism and  Flower  Essence Therapy, Brook Sullivan is on a mission to empower  people to  take control of their health naturally. When it comes  balancing the  mind, understanding the psyche and transforming  emotional baggage  into wisdom, Brooke feels that flower essences  the optimal remedies.  Flower essences are vibrational remedies akin  to homeopathy and  work on the subtle layers (psycho-spiritual and  emotional realms) which in turn bring wholeness to the physical body and life. To learn more flower essences and botanical therapies, visit www.botanicaltherapies.com.

 

Erbaviva: Erbaviva offers premium organic personal care products erbavivathat fuse European artisan quality with healthy California organic culture to benefit the human body and the planet. Each unique and exquisite Erbaviva product is handcrafted with distinctively pure living herbs, essential oils and botanicals sourced with the highest standards of organic certification, safety, efficacy and sustainability. Visit www.erbaviva.com to view all of Erbaviva’s delightful products.

 

Love in a Bowl
gina cucina Gina Cucina Soup of the Month:The holidays are a  perfect time to gather around the dinner table  with the  ones we hold near and dear in our hearts and  what  better way to celebrate the season of gratitude  than  with delicious meals. Feeling good about our food  is  made easier with Gina Cucina as all ingredients come  from local farmers and ranchers. Continue to spread  the cheer of scrumptious and heart-warming meals  after the  holidays by joining Gina Cucina’s soup of the  month club where two seasonal organic and gluten free soups are delivered directly to your door. For more information visit www.ginacucina.com.

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What Does It Mean to Live Your Dharma?

Posted on October 16th, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

yoga passion

Everywhere I go, I meet another person who is quitting a job to start a new business, pursue a passion, or launch forth into the world to create change, achieve a vision, and spark transformation. Despite (or maybe because of) the economic collapse, the hum of war, and our ecological woes, people are feeling more urgency to create a life that is meaningful to them—and to others. I think of it as a sort of dharmic revolution. Read More »»

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Q&A: Teja Bell On the Intersection Between Aikido, Qigong, and Yoga

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Teja BellTeja Bell has been steeped in martial arts for more than 40 years. He is a 5th degree black belt in Aikido, and teaches Qigong and Aikido throughout the world. He also teaches Buddhist meditation, and is an ordained Rinzai Zen Priest. He talked with The Sacred Cow about the intersection between yoga, qigong, and Buddhist meditation—and how the practices can serve each other. Read More »»

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