This is Not About Immortality, or Is It?

One of my students recently shared a piece of writing about how yoga practice has changed his life. I'd like to share an excerpt with you.

"I have been on this planet for sixty two solar revolutions. In that time, I have done my body no favors. Three years into a yoga practice, I now have clear evidence that, contrary to the standard narrative, with proper attention and care, the human body can actually improve with the passage of time. This is not about immortality; it is about an exquisite quality of life. It is about the possibility of a profound relationship between my body and my mind. A mind-body symbiosis.

Symbiosis, n. Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association.

Purna Yoga has brought me to a place of strength, flexibility, and balance. A remarkable physical and spiritual transformation.

Yes, it has become a way of life for me."

—Helme C.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Iyengar

On Monday, December 14th, Google did a few fun doodles to celebrate B.K.S. Iyengar’s 97th birthday. I hope you saw them. Mr. Iyengar was one of the most important yoga instructors in the world, and he died last year, leaving behind a wealth of knowledge on yoga. My teacher’s parents went to B.K.S. Iyengar because they were unable to conceive children. Iyengar guided them with asana and, soon after, Aadil Palkhivala was born. Lucky for us all! Aadil began to formally study with Iyengar at the age of seven and continued for three decades.

I am thankful for Mr. Iyengar, his profound understanding of the body, and his refinement of asana. I am thankful to him for supporting the birth of my yoga teacher and for teaching yoga asana to Aadil for thirty ­five years. Ten years in and I hope I have at least another twenty­ five years to study with Aadil. It’s an honor to be a part of this lineage.

Words Came Down in Torrents

Infinity put on a finite soul,All ocean lived within a wandering drop, A time-made body housed the Illimitable. To live this Mystery out our souls came here. - Savitri , Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo describes the writing of Savitri as words came down in torrents.  When his scribe was asked how he kept up with 724 pages of poetry coming down so quickly, the scribe explained that one word was expressed every few minutes. What felt like streams of intense energy flowing through Sri Aurobindo was apparently not so in real time.

I love this story. Unobstructed inspiration and beauty came through Sri Aurobindo. He is one of the greatest poets, yogis, activists, philosophers and saints this world has had the blessing to know. India's Independence Day was gifted to Sri Aurobindo on his birthday, August 15th. Purna Yoga is Sri Aurobindo's Yoga. He left his body in 1950 and his work is still ahead of it's time. I hope our consciousness catches up with his vision soon...

Don't Have a Cow

In the Yoga Sutras, Patajali explains that the underlying obstacle to our progress in yoga is Avidya – Ignorance. There are many different forms of ignorance.  One of them being the ignorance that leads to mistaking pleasure and pain.  What we consider pleasure may very well be causing pain and vice versa. For instance, you choose to eat a beautiful, big, red apple. It’s crispy, it’s juicy, it’s delicious!  You’re proud.  You’ve done something healthy for yourself. You’ve chosen fruit over Twizzlers as your snack. However, your apple is not organic, it has wax on it, was produced with herbicides and pesticides from a factory in China.  It’s actually causing your body harm.  The pleasure you received eating it veils the inherent pain during assimilation.  Because we may be ignorant of food production and lack the sensitivity to recognize how toxins feel in our body, we experience suffering.

Conversely, you come to my yoga class and complain about how painful Gomukhasana is.  How much it hurts your shoulders, how you dread doing it.  What you experience as pain is really the body freeing tension, releasing old energy.  Underneath the surface sensation of pain, the body is feeling pleasure, joy and new sense of mobility in the shoulders.  In our ignorance, we label bliss as pain.

The practice of yoga cultivates discernment, hopefully, if that is the intention (we can just as easily cultivate more ignorance while doing yoga if there is no clarity behind our actions). We learn to distinguish what is real from unreal, Self from non-Self, permanent from impermanent and pleasure from pain.  The surface senses can be deceptive and to follow them is to be guided by five wild horses without a charioteer.  They will lead you astray.  The work in yoga is to tame the senses and listen for inner truth. Then, act on that truth.

Today’s take away: eat local, organic food, know your farmers, never, ever complain and do more yoga (Purna Yoga that is).

Gomukhasana – Cow Face Pose 

1. Move the upper arm shoulder blade away from the spine, up and into the body. 2. Move the bottom arm shoulder blade towards the spine, down and into the body. 3. Lift the pit of the abdomen and sternum 4. Exhale into the resistance, smile and then change sides

Practice with intelligence, practice often

**If your hands do not clasp, use a belt.  The tension between the two arms is what helps create the opening. Props are not a crutch.  Performance vs. efficacy.

Some people grumble that roses have thorns...

...I am thankful that thorns have roses.  -A. Karr

This is the first full fall I’ve spent in Atlanta since I moved back 4 ½ years ago.  Every year I anticipate being in Chicago for September, Washington in October, Florida and North Carolina in November studying or assisting with Aadil. I’m so grateful to have those opportunities to learn from my teacher and I’m so glad to have this time instead decided to stay home, transition the business and enjoy the season.

The studio reached 95% of its goal for rentals this month, four weeks after making the decision to change the structure of the business!! Not bad, huh? I am very thankful for all the support - the emails, phone calls, flowers, cards, fruit baskets, gifts, love notes, hugs (lots of hugs) and thank you, Rusty, for beautifying our front entrance.  I’m especially grateful to Helme and Narin, who have been insightful, generous sounding boards through the process. Thank you!

Ayurvedic Turmeric Drink Recipe

Turmeric Drink:
  • 1 cup organic cow, goat, soy, nut or rice milk
  • 1 teaspoon organic turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic cardamon powder
  • 1 finely crushed pepper corn (piperine helps the body assimilate curcumin, which is the healing agent in turmeric)
  • pinch of saffron, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon honey (unpasteurized, unheated, unprocessed)--optional
  1. Bring to boil and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently (heat activates the turmeric). Remove from heat until drinkable and then add honey (if using)

*remember to never heat honey or it becomes toxic

NOTE: Turmeric helps with inflammation and reduces scar tissue in the brain. Turmeric reduces Alzheimer's. When toxins build up in the brain, it begins to scar and connections and synapses begin to fail and no longer link.

Swing Like Duke Ellington

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana to Adho Mukha Svanasana

Next to being upside down, backbends are the greatest boon in the physical practice of yoga.  They are energizing, improve posture, stretch lung tissue, thereby increasing breath capacity, they move you out of the past and into the now and cultivate joy! Here is a quick video to teach you the essential actions for efficacy and safety when practicing at home. Practice with intelligence, practice often.



Studio's New Direction

You may have noticed that the studio schedule has significantly changed. I have removed most of the classes on the schedule. Canceling the majority of the classes was a precipitous move on my part. I acknowledge the potential for upset. My intention was not to create disarray and chaos and I realize that may have been one result. I apologize if that has been the case for you. What I have learned about myself is that I do not enjoy running a yoga studio. I love teaching yoga. Love it! And will continue to do so. Running this business is not fulfilling me. In fact, it is blocking me from a deeper pursuit of my life dreams.

I've been considering this for at least a year now. The last several months have been very difficult. I'm run down, wound up and not very pleasant to be around these days.

One reason this decision has been difficult is that I care so much about all the students and this community. It is important to me to hold a space for Purna Yoga in Atlanta.

Here is the new direction for the Studio:

Narin and I will continue to teach our classes on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. In addition, I will be leasing studio time out to other yoga instructors, dancers, Pilates instructors, meditation circles, acting teachers, photographers, etc. I will also have space in the back room for massage, Thai Yoga and Reiki therapists.

This allows me to continue doing what I love doing. Also, this allows you to continue taking these exceptional classes. In addition, it is an economically sustainable model for me as a business owner.

I'm excited about this new direction. I appreciate your support and patience.

Click here to learn more about studio rental.

Practice with Intelligence, Practice Often.

I'm pretty sure this is how the sages did it. Go to the woods and hug a tree. These next few weeks are the most stunning time of year in Georgia.

The purpose of standing postures is to strengthen your legs. Develop the quality of Earth in them. The stronger your legs, the more fluid the spine and the more calm the nervous system. Here's some simple instructions to get started with a grounding and energizing standing posture.

Parivrrtta Hasta Padangusthasana 1. Exhaling, root the four corners of your foot and the bones of your leg towards the ground. 2. Inhaling, recoil the arch, contract your quadriceps and lift the pit of the abdomen. 3. Exhaling, twist your spine. 4. Inhaling, smile in your heart! 5. Repeat.