Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter Thaw: Upcoming Yoga-Related Events in March!

Wednesday, March 2, Maha Shivaratri (Night of Lord Shiva)

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, 1246 W. Bryn Mawr.
9:30pm to approximately 5am (You may arrive and leave as you wish)
No charge; donations of flowers or "prasad" are welcome.

We will be celebrating the night of Sivaratri in the traditional way with several pujas (a form of ritual worship) and kirtan (chanting), which will continue through the night, finishing early on Thursday morning. Please feel free to attend any part of the night's celebrations; it is not required to participate for the whole night (we usually end at around 5am), though attendance for the whole night is considered to be most auspicious!

This is a very auspicious puja for all yogis, and you don't have to stay all night to benefit! Click here for more info.

Please feel free to call (773) 878-7771 with any questions.

Thursday, March 3 Maha Shivaratri (Night of Lord Shiva)
with Matthew Wiley

YogaNow Chicago, 742 N. LaSalle.
9:30-11:30pm kirtan and puja, followed by all-night chanting til sunrise, with chai! $5 love offering.

Join us to celebrate Lord Shiva's Holy Night- Maha Shivaratri.

Once a year on this Sacred night, Ceremonies are happening all over the World. By our chants, songs, drumming, Puja (ritual) we can tap into the collective energies of All "Circles" and to Shiva himself. As 2012 approaches, we are at a Powerful juncture in time and the energy we put into this Sacred night can set us up to catch a wave, if you will. Transforming and healing ourselves for the years to come.

I understand this is a school night and many of us have busy schedules. What we give this night we will get back 1000 fold. I hope many will stay till Sun up, as it is traditionally done. If you must leave earlier, give all you can during the Puja. The reality is, you will get out of it what you put into it.

Fasting of some sort is recommended for the whole day. We will break bread after the rising of the Sun and have chai tea throughout the night.

Together we will practice: Bhuta Shuddhi- This is an ancient Tantric technique of activating, clearing and awakening the chakra system. Bhuta Shuddhi balances the elements in our body and empowers the aura so that we may obtain our highest potentials and dreams.

Some of the forms of Shiva we will invoke include: Arunachaleshwaraya- Shiva as a brilliant Divine column of Fire. Nhilakanta- the blue-throated one, which represents the transmutation of lead into gold- turning our life's problems into helping Powers and energies. Nataraja- the cosmic dancing Shiva and many many more.

Together and with the Power of Shiva, may we heal and transform our lives and reach deep into Love- that which resides beyond the dualities of self.

Please bring flowers and food to share in the morning.


Matthew Wiley has been teaching Traditional Tantra, Yoga, Western Occultism, and comparative religion for more than 13 years. He holds a Yoga Shiromani and is an Initiate in Kaula and Western Esoterica. His spiritual quest has led him throughout Asia and Europe. Along with his studies in Kaula Tantra and Shamanism, he has done extensive ceremonial work with Santo Daime, Ayahuasca and the Native American Church. As a neophyte ethnobotanist, his current focus is on indigenous cultures, the ritual use of psychoactive plants, and their importance in the world today. Please feel free to email any questions:

Friday, March 4, Dharma Mittra Maha Sadhana Workshop
with Cara Jepsen.

YogaNow Chicago, 742 N. LaSalle (312-280-9642).

Maha Sadhana means “The Great Practice”, and this asana-based intensive will deepen your yoga practice. It will include chanting, pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation as well as direction toward the true goal of yoga.

Dharma Mittra Yoga is a classical, flowing hatha style originated by New York City-based yogi Dharma Mittra, creator of the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Poses. Dharma’s energizing Shiva Namaskar sequence focuses on opening the hips, shoulders and upper back and includes variations for every level of student. Poses are repeated so that students may go deeper into them each time. Many options are given, so that all levels will feel challenged/​comfortable. The emphasis is on practicing in a playful, relaxed manner.

Cara Jepsen (Yogi Kali Om), ERYT-500, began teaching yoga in 1998 and has completed two teacher trainings with her guru, Sri Dharma Mittra - whom she assisted at a recent retreat. She also studied five times in India with ashtanga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and completed teacher trainings with Manju Pattabhi Jois and Suddha Weixler. Her articles about these experiences are archived at the Yoga Chicago website, which is also where her restaurant reviews and cartoon,"On the Mat," can be found.

Saturday, March 12, Kirtan with Amy and the Ananda Bliss Tribe

YogaNow Chicago, 742 N. LaSalle (312-280-9642).
Suggested Donation: $10

Come hear YogaNow founder and director Amy Beth Treciokas with Brent Roman, Paula Battaglio, Marie Weigle and Cobra Thomas in a sound healing event of call-and-response chanting.

Kirtan is the calling out to God deep within our soul. Feel that the Divine is seated in your heart, that every name sung is ringing with divine potencies, and that all the habitual limiting thoughts and patterns are burnt by the power of Kirtan. The mind is filled with purity, and the veil of ignorance is torn down.

"All divine potencies, powers and divine qualities are hidden in God's name". The deepest secret of Kirtan is that the 'Name Of God' IS God. For the Bhakta Yogi (one who follows the path of devotion), God and the Name of God are one and the same. Chanting the name of God sows the seeds of spiritual transformation deep within our consciousness, and begins to grow and blossom.

"The word Kirtan comes form the Sanskrit root "kirt" which means "to name, to communicate, to celebrate, to praise, to glorify." Bhajan, another form of spiritual music in the yogic tradition, usually refers to singing prayers or hymns rather than the repetition of God's name. Its root, "bhaj" means "to worship, to revere, to love." Kirtan can be seen as a bridge between our outer and inner selves and an expression of our desire to know and love God within."

—Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati

Friday, March 18, Kirtan with Bhagavan Das
YogaNow Chicago, 742 N. LaSalle (312-280-9642).

Bhagavan Das is the spiritual seeker and first westerner to discover Neem Karoli Baba in India (an later led Ram Dass to him). He is a true, authentic kritan wallah - no wallowing into syrupy sentimentality here! - and his amazing kirtan is almost sold out. Highly, highly recommended.

He's also doing a weekend Nada Yoga (Yoga of Sound) workshop:

The Nada Yoga Temple of Sound Workshop Chakras 1, 2 and 3
Sat 3/19/2011
From 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday Times: 11:00 - 1:00 then 3:00 - 6:00PM
The Nada Yoga Temple of Sound Workshop Chakras 4, 5 and Guru
Sun 3/20/2011
From 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday Times : 11:00 - 1:00 then 3:00 - 6:00 PM
$250 both days; $150 for one day

Here's the official description:

Teacher, performer, counter-cultural icon, lover of God: Bhagavan Das is as rich and manifold as Existence itself.

Bhagavan Das is one of the last living cultural icon of the 60's. As Ram Das's mentor (author of Be Here Now) he ushered in the New Age Spiritual Movement, and was the first Kirtan Artist in America. His groundbreaking album "Ah" (1971), produced by Jimi Hendrix's manager Michael Jeffreys, was the first World Music album from Electric Ladyland. Bhagavan Das has also toured with Allen Ginsberg, opened for the Grateful Dead, and sang with Bob Dylan.

Living as a sadhu in India for six years Bhagavan Das studied the ancient science of Nada Yoga under the guidance and direction of his Guru Neem Karoli Baba. Nada Yoga is the path of devotion to the inner sound current as a means to God Realization. Alan Watts himself said in a Rolling Stone review of the Album "Ah" that "Bhagavan Das is truly a Master of Nada Yoga."

To experience Bhagavan Das in concert is to receive Darshan of the Guru himself, to touch and be touched by the immortal essence of his Guru Neem Karoli Baba - as the Light of the Guru is delivered through the mystical and potent voice of Bhagavan Das. His devotion to his Guru as that living inner sound is what he shares and transmits to all that wish to receive this blessing.

Bhagavan Das's rare and sacred offering to this world is like a singing open heart heralding the Guru's Grace through the vehicle of Sound.

Learn more about Baba here.

Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfort, IL
Click here to see photos of our last retreat!

Deepen your yoga practice and heal your body, mind and spirit at the peaceful Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfort, 36 miles southwest of Chicago. Enjoy gourmet vegetarian meals and walk a sacred labyrinth in the magical, meditative setting of St. Francis Woods. The 50-acre campus of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart includes peaceful sitting areas, grassy knolls, fountains, a creek, and hiking trails.

This retreat will focus on the eight limbs of yoga, including the ethical roots, scriptural study, pranayama (breathing), concentration, and direction towards the true goal of yoga - which is settle the mind into silence so that we can discover our true, peaceful nature. We will also chant and do plenty of postures! Saturday evening’s session will end with Yoga Nidra, or deep relaxation – which Sri Dharma Mittra calls the greatest antidote to impurities. We will also do Psychic Development to put power behind your thoughts. On Sunday we will do a special Maha Sadhana yoga practice, followed by lunch.

Suitable for all levels, this retreat starts Saturday at 9AM and ends Sunday at 1PM.

Cost for the one-night retreat (including lodging, vegetarian meals and instruction) is $226 for a private, single room with a shared bath. Please add an additional $50 if you wish to stay over on Friday night (Friday meal not included).

A few spaces remain; To reserve a spot, mail a check or money order payable to Cara Jepsen, along with your name, address, e-mail and phone number to Cara Jepsen, P.O. Box 60401, Chicago, IL 60660. Or click here and use the Paypal button.


  1. The picture of you on the rock sort of reminds me of something from the Lord of the Rings movies.

    “All that is gold does not glitter
    Not all those who wander are lost
    The old who are strong do not whither
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost
    From the ashes a fire shall be woken
    A light from the shadow will spring
    Renewed be the blade that was broken
    The crownless again shall be king.”