Posts in Newsletter
Free to be You and ME (July 2019 Newsletter)
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Advaita (a – not, dvait – other) means ‘One Undivided’, and 'Without An-Other'. This is the essence of the Vedantic philosophy of non-duality. When we can get to the point of losing that distinction between I/Me and the Other, we are in a state of awareness without conflict or contradiction. This state happens spontaneously but it takes a lifetime to realize the simplicity of the present moment. This involves a life of moderation, meditative practices and sharing life transparently with all sentient beings. This concept of non-dual consciousness exists in most religions, including the Christian and Neo-Platonic traditions (e.g. mystical union).

You may think this is not for you, my friend the reader, at this time in your life for you have much to do and much to accomplish. It is however worth being aware of this so you can keep this on the back burner with the burner set on low all the time, so to speak!

A modern sage from India, Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950) is well known for his famous little booklet, ‘Nan Yar’ (written in his native language, Tamil) meaning ‘Who am I?”

"Jnana (knowledge) is given neither from outside nor from another person. It can be realized by each and every one in his own Heart. The jnana, Guru of everyone, is only the Supreme Self that is always revealing its own truth in every Heart through the being-consciousness 'I am, I am.' The granting of true knowledge by him is initiation into jnana. The grace of the Guru is only that Self-awareness that is one's own true nature. It is the inner consciousness by which he is unceasingly revealing his existence. This divine upadesa (instruction from the teacher) is always going on naturally in everyone."

Also from the same booklet, “Who am I?”

'There is no such thing as ‘the world’ independent of thought. There are no thoughts in deep sleep, and there is no world. In waking and dream there are thoughts, and there is also the world. Just as a spider emits the thread of a web from within itself and withdraws it again into itself, in the same way the mind projects the world from within itself and later reabsorbs it into itself…Consequently, when the world appears, the Self is not seen, and when the Self appears or shines, the world will not appear.'

This topic has relevance especially today as more and more philosophical and counseling wisdom appears on the Internet. Almost daily your device offers a new source of anxiety relief in the form of music, podcasts and meditation. They may be good ways to begin a practice but you cannot gain awareness through them. Awareness comes within, from the Atman, the spirit, the divine connection already within yourself.

The location as Ramana Maharshi say, is the heart. Start by quieting yourself by bringing your focus to the size of a pinhead right in your heart center. Can you stay there for 5 seconds? Maybe 20?

Join us for our practical meditation session on the third Sunday afternoon.

Namaste,

sipra

Whole and Healing (March 2019 Newsletter)

Springtime is almost here. There are subtle and different new sounds and smells, and the earth has a certain resilience and sponginess to it that is indicative of unseen life stir-crazy below the surface. While looking forward to the warmer days and the attraction of being outside as much as possible, it would benefit us to keep up our regular practice of yoga and meditation. It makes us more keenly aware of the moment, joyous for the gift of life.

I often suggest that you schedule your classes ahead of time for the week or even for the entire month. And then show up on those dates no matter what. There is personal discipline involved in doing this, and it creates health and wholeness. These are appointments for well-being that shouldn’t be brushed off under any pretext. Make your schedule varied and give all our instructors a try. If you haven’t met them yet, here’s a little bit about why you should.

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Audrey is our latest addition to the YWB staff. Try her Zumba based dance class on Friday evenings at 5:30. This is the only class at this time that is not a yoga based class, but is offered because it is movement, dance and fun – the perfect complement to yoga.

Audrey is a long time student of YWB and has been a regular participant through more than a decade of classes, often making it to class from out of town but attending several classes each week and keeping notes about the experience following each class. She represents the best of YWB, both student and staff – humble, kind, always learning, and adding to her knowledge and skills and always ready to help out when needed.

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Kevin’s class on Friday at lunchtime is aptly called ‘Re-treat Yoga’. Classes are open to all levels of experience focusing on alignment and modifications.

Kevin has been practicing yoga and teaching for about 30 years. Kevin is a person of meditation and prayer and it is yoga’s spiritual dimension he says, that ‘lures me beyond its physical shoreline, inviting me to explore new depths through its movement, and its movement toward meditation.’

At YWB we love Kevin’s kindness and gentleness - quietly and industriously working, cleaning and doing the work that perhaps not everyone would think of as needing attention. A true yogi!

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Kris teaches a class on Monday evenings at 6 pm. Kris has the highest yoga certification that is nationally recognized . Kris teaches moderate level classes focusing on alignment, holding of postures, and strengthening. She suggests that 'more challenging postures and our response to them will be explored,' In the short time Kris has been at YWB, she has helped out in unexpected and varied ways to make our adjustment to our new studio smoother through organizing the space and getting her entire family to help out at all times of day and night despite their own move at home.

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Michael teaches a power yoga class on Saturday, at 12:30 helping you flow through challenging poses. Michael started practicing yoga to combat his crippling backaches and has developed into a faithful practitioner frequently adding to his own training and teaching all around the country and abroad. As an instructor at YWB, he has been always been the first to jump in and help out whenever and wherever it is needed. No matter how awkward the time, place or circumstance he makes himself available and executes perfectly.

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Tatiana teaches Kundalini yoga. Try it out for a totally different experience on Thursday evening at 7:30. Tatiana is busy with her post-graduate degree and work, daily traveling out of town for both. Despite her demanding schedule, YWB has benefited from her generous and willing sharing of her precious free time at several off-site classes, her ideas and her willing assistance with many aspects of the business. We love her gentleness and commitment to Kundalini and YWB.

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Troy teaches a gentle class on Tuesday evening at 6 pm, offering his students a variety of information and handouts on all aspects of life and living. As a cancer survivor, Troy believes in the power of yoga and Ayurveda to heal and save life. Troy and his wife, Eszter, are also teaching a 8-week Ayurveda workshop following the yoga class on Tuesday. They continue to add to their training to hone their knowledge and skills. Despite a full-time day job and many alternative-health classes that he teaches around town and elsewhere, he has willingly volunteered many hours whenever YWB has needed help. When available, Troy is an eager participant at YWB events.

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Veda teaches a slow, deep Yin Yoga class on Wednesday morning at 9:30. Veda has a long history with yoga starting in the 1980’s. The healing process following surgeries after a biking accident, where she was struck by a minivan while riding her bike, was accelerated and completed through yoga. In Veda’s words, ‘Yin yoga taught me to accept myself as I am. It taught me how to be quiet and like it. It taught me patience.’ At YWB, we so appreciate Veda’s responsiveness, joie de vivre, her humor and an active mind bursting with bright ideas.

Come often. Build our community and grow with it.

Namaste,

sipra

The Vibrational Connection (February 2019 Newsletter)
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Pick up any Mind/Body Yoga magazine and you will invariably come across a story about how yoga saved someone’s life, or their sanity. Often this has to do with losing weight, gaining flexibility or curing some physical ailment such as crippling backache. Mostly though, the remarkable stories are those that have to do with almost miraculous recoveries from physical conditions for which there are no known cures, where life expectancy is severely limited, or a life-situation that seems to have no good resolution. These dead-end lives and situations see a subtle or sudden change or shift and the load is lifted through a committed yoga practice. Life becomes better!

This is truly the power of yoga. It is the awareness that the voices in your head, and your speaking heart are true and have some connection with the Energy of the Divine (the clarity of pure consciousness). Even if there are no cures to body, mind or spirit issues, you must fully believe that you are in control of your life and destiny, and that by steadfastly setting a direction and constantly fine-tuning the goal you can change things to the way you want them to be.


How can yoga, which appears to be mostly a physical practice, possibly change the course of one’s life? It can and will through serious commitment to being present in the moment and all that it encompasses. It is your full presence in just this moment in time, not past and not future! Never doubt what you want in your life in the long term, but start with this present moment. When you never shut your mouth, and your ears are open to every earthly and virtual vibration, you cannot be creating those transformative vibes. Sutra 1.23 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali states ‘Ishwara Pranidhana va’ meaning stay focused on the Divine Energy (Ishwara) or (va) stay in that Presence (Pranidhana). In the following Sutra 1.24, it is suggested that this focus is unaffected by the interpretations we put on events/conditions/state of things (kleshas), actions (karmas), or results of those actions that happen when our deep down but inaccurate impressions affect our thinking (klesha karma vipaka ashayaih aparmristah purusha-vishesha ishvara). Sutra 1.25 then completes the thought: In that pure consciousness without shape or form (ishvara) the seed of pure and full potential reaches its peak and is the ultimate connection. (tatra niratishayam sarvajna bijam). The bijam (seed) referred to here is the hum of the universal primal vibration equated with the sound 'OM' in yogic philosophy. Just to clarify, the sound of OM is just the sound of vibration if it could be sounded and be audible. It is the sound of one hand clapping.

The regular practice of physical yoga without doubt and without expectations creates the groundwork and foundation upon which is built this ladder to eternity right here on earth.

Namaste,

sipra

NewsletterChris Johnson
You are Perfect! (December 2018 Newsletter)
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As the new and last month of the year rolls around, amidst the flurry of cleaning and decorating and getting ready for whatever we celebrate, at the back of our minds is the thought: How did I do this year and where am I headed?

You did fine. You did what you did, so it must be fine. If not, why did you do it? If we are aligned with our spirit/soul/SELF or Universal Energy/God/Tao/Buddha Self, we did fine. Otherwise we are simply what everyone else has made us. We become molded by our environment rather than by the all-knowing dictates of the soul within. We are out of balance and feel stress. When we are at one with who we truly are, there is no self-doubt or fear or wondering. It IS, because it is meant to be. Listen intently to yourself, in silence. What should I do, where should I go? Find out what drives you, what thrills you, what moves you. YOU ARE THAT! You are TRULY That. Tat tvam asi!

Namaste,

sipra

NewsletterChris Johnson
Illumination (November 2018 Newsletter)
Happy    Diwali   !  This year the five day Indian festival of lights started on Wednesday, November 7.   Image credit: Khokarahman (CC BY-SA 4.0), from    Wikimedia Commons

Happy Diwali! This year the five day Indian festival of lights started on Wednesday, November 7.

Image credit: Khokarahman (CC BY-SA 4.0), from Wikimedia Commons

Now is a good time to renew our focus on what really matters in our lives as we move into a long season of traditions and rituals, holidays and celebrations. With the oncoming rush of activity there is no time to think, and we are driven in various directions, sometimes getting off track. It is worth seriously considering what the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali tells us to do in such times of stress. This ancient book is still relevant today as when it was written close to 500 years BCE. It is a brief volume of precepts that prescribes how to become better beings and free ourselves from crippling self-defeating viewpoints and behaviors. At some point of consistently observing ourselves and disciplining our behavior we can aspire to an energy that is strong and pure and connects us to our soul, the Self, making the distinction between body and soul indiscernible, known in yoga as Samadhi.

Starting with the basics – at the first of the seven steps to attaining Samadhi (a state of pure being) we need to become that 'Being' who is not driven by artificial and external conditioning. Patanjali encourages us to control our behavior in the community within which we live our lives. Live ethically! Live in non-violence (ahimsa) and so create an aura of peace (shanti); be truthful; don’t steal; observe temperance in sexual activity; abstain from greed.

Be your own unique self. Become Self (soulful). Be the true one you are meant to be. Don’t follow the crowd. Who wants to follow the unthinking crowd? Not me! How about you?

Namaste,

sipra

NewsletterChris Johnson
Discipline (March 2018 Newsletter)
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If you read last month's newsletter, you will remember that yoga is not about the physical practice of going to a class and working out physically. There are all-encompassing changes in the yoga practitioner who is open to allowing the subtle work to play out through all body/mind and emotional systems. But REGULARITY is key. If you only show up now and again, it remains just fitness training.

Show up whether you want to or not, whether you are in the mood to work out or not, whether you are happy or sad, whether your friend's coming or not. Execute that intention to be there. Be there! Expect nothing once you are there. Be like putty - soft and malleable. It is the one time where you don't have to think, or make a decision, or succeed or display anything to anyone.

What does one need to get to this point of childlike simplicity? Discipline! It is simply doing, being without expectation of reward or gain or success. Doing the practice regularly and without question, over and over and over yet again. Once you break the cycle of regularity you take several steps back in the mental confidence and strength you had developed through the self imposed discipline. Called Tapas (meaning heat, self-discipline, spiritual austerity or effort) in yoga, discipline is necessary in life, which is full of choices, contradictions and apparently arbitrary outcomes.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, Chapter 2, Aphorism 43, says: 'Kaya indriya siddhih ashuddhi kshayat tapasah' which means, 'Self-discipline destroys imperfection and purifies the body and the senses.'

Keep your gaze fixed on the prize of peace and tranquility through discipline. It doesn't happen in a day, in a month or a year. It is a lifetime's practice, making both life and death both easy and expected.

Namaste,

sipra

Well-Being: Talking about the weather (March 2018 Newsletter)
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'Oh no! It's raining again.' 

Or it's too cold or too hot; too bright or too dark. It's rare when the weather is just perfect for each of us. It's not something we can control or change, but we can change our attitude and how we react to the changing weather each day. Just because the weather is not pleasant doesn't mean we can stay in bed and ignore it. We get up, get dressed and head out the door. Or we don't even open the front door. Instead we go out to the garage, get in the car and drive off with the heating or air-conditioning controlling our immediate environment. Sometimes we don't really need to experience the weather at all, but we still complain. Let's stop making 'weather' the topic of inane conversation, and let's start experiencing nature and each day in the raw. (How are you interpreting that last sentence? It's up to you!) Make it a point to step outside each day walking on your own two feet. There's something amazing in all kinds of weather and the power and grandeur of nature that stirs something deep inside. Let's start to wake up the sleeping soul within.

Yoga! Is it a religion? (February 2018 Newsletter)
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Approximately one in ten people practices yoga in the USA today. They are not necessarily practicing regularly and often do a workout that is offered at their gym club or community center. It is simply an hour of exercise. No more, no less.

Many of the practitioners as they start to practice regularly notice some subtle changes in their psyche and physique. They are calmer, more resilient following times of stress and grief, and body muscles start to become lean and long. Many illnesses appear to disappear! Surprising qualities of intuition and synchrony start to happen. To many students of this art deeper questions of life and death, beginning and ending, and whereto/wherefrom start to arise, often based on suggestions from their instructors. It is a good thing.

Is Yoga a religion? Originally, yes. Many thousands of years ago. But what is religion? Hinduism, on which yoga is based, is not really a religion in the Western sense of the word. It is not an 'ism', since it is not theistic, therefore there is no identifiable one or many God/Gods. The thousands of 'Gods' in Hinduism simply try to make comprehensible to our little minds the awesome Energy that is 'Godness'. These are the thousands of qualities of Goodness/Godness that cannot be portrayed in one Being or non-Being. Hinduism is monistic, or everything/all is one/everything... I am the bird, I am the sea, I am the tree! I am everything, everything is me.

Does this conflict with your religion or lack of it? It shouldn't, and if you can step outside of any biases you may come to class with, you will see for yourself yoga's deep and powerful impact on your life and being. It is a secular practice, but on the other hand, it can enrich your own faith.

The other important aspect of yoga is discipline, but more on that next month. Meanwhile, be disciplined enough to schedule your classes for the entire month and show up without question.

Namaste,

sipra

NewsletterChris Johnson
Well-Being: Hara Hachi Bu (February 2018 Newsletter)

I don't watch much TV, and it's mostly news when I do. But it appears that on the one hand, the TV commercials are constantly promoting the worst of foods by displaying them as healthy, energy-creating, aesthetic, and ultimately seeming to be homemade - the true test of good food. Nothing wrong in that!

On the other hand, many of the other commercials are about meds, some to settle the stomach enough to enjoy the good life, the best life - full of community and fun. Nothing wrong with that either.  However, many of these sicknesses are often of self generated. Guess how? It's due to the food that is being presented as picture perfect but is not belly perfect.

Be discerning... what looks good is deceptive. Those luscious doughnuts will come back to haunt you tomorrow with a rock hard stomach, fatigue, constipation and much worse in the long term.

Eat right and eat less: The residents of Okinawa in Japan are very healthy with unusually low BMI (body mass index), and often live active lives well over 100 years of age. They practice what is known as 'Hara hachi bun me' or 'hara hachi bu' which suggests that you should eat till you are 8/10 full. The idea is that you don't eat till you have a feeling of fullness. The connection between the two is thought to be the delay in the stomach stretch receptors that help signal fullness or satiety. The result of not practicing hara hachi bun me is a constant stretching of the stomach which in turn increases the amount of food needed to feel full.

Think hara hachi bun me, for every meal. 'Doggie bag' a quarter of your meal before you start eating, when you eat out. AND drink lots of water. Pop/soda may appear to satisfy your thirst but it doesn't really do so, and you need more, since it has all those additives to make it delicious and addictive. Who wants those?

NewsletterChris Johnson
To YOU! Create a year of peace and happiness! (January 2018 Newsletter)
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We are always told that life is hard work. But simply working hard becomes relentless and reward-less. New Year Resolutions often just add to this senseless treadmill. Do you have the same resolutions as last year and the year before, but expect different and better results now?  If you didn't succeed last year, what makes you think you will  this year?

Even if there is only one resolution you are making this year, reconsider! You don't need to add anything more to your stressed mind and busy life. 'Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.' -Confucius. We are always in a state of urgently completing one task after another. Often these urgent tasks are mindless and not important. At the end of each day, there is still so much more left to do and then tomorrow has its own to-do list. Isn't that what we did all last year? Somehow with the start of a new year, we expect life to become better by working harder, looking skinnier and better, and having more, so we will be happy and at peace with ourselves. Instead try making the goal your starting point. Know that you have enough! Know that you look good (with a better more balanced diet and lots of fresh water, you WILL shed the pounds and feel/look better). "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Know what you really love to do and do it, even if in monetary terms it earns you less. Find the happiness and peace that is inherent within you by connecting to the Universal Energy. This is the Energy that moves you, breathes you and animates everything around you. Connect with IT! Go slow! Go steady! You will succeed.

Happiness and Peace are already within each one of us. Practice regularly, and through perseverance learn to steady the mind. How simple it can be. How easy to succeed.

Namaste,

sipra

NewsletterChris Johnson