Monday, January 30, 2012

"Achyutashtakam" by Adi Shankaracharya
Music by Stephen Devassy, vocals by G. Ghayatri Devi, S. Saindhavi, R. Shruti

Friday, January 27, 2012

Surprise Bollywood dance on Finnair flight yesterday, to celebrate India's Republic Day

Thursday, January 26, 2012


"Private beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of the city's disinherited."

-Jane Addams, America's "Mother of Social Service"

The Jane Addams Hull House Association is closing in March, after 123 years of serving the poor. Hull House founded in 1889 by Addams, a pioneering Chicago reformer and karma yogi who opened settlement houses throughout the city to help immigrants and the poor adjust to life in America at the turn of the 20th century. At its peak, Hull House served more than 9,000 people a week, offering medical help, an art gallery, citizenship classes, a gardening club and a gym with sports programs.

Addams was also a leader in women's suffrage, and the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She and her associates influenced policy on public health and education, fair labor practices and immigrants' rights. She also was an antiwar activist and fought against child labor.

Hull House is closing due to lack of fundraising and an increase in demand for service; it currently serves some 60,000 people a year though more than 50 programs at over 40 sites throughout the metropolitan Chicago area.

Why one of the city's billionaires (Sam Zell? Oprah, [why did you have to leave]? Pritzkers? Ty Warner? Kevin Griffin? Bill Wrigley? Eric Lefkofsky?) doesn't step in and bail out this historic organization just boggles the mind.


"Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we often might win, by fearing to attempt."

"For ten years I have lived in a neighborhood which is by no means criminal, and yet during last October and November we were startled by seven murders within a radius of ten blocks. A little investigation of details and motives, the accident of a personal acquaintance with two of the criminals, made it not in the least difficult to trace the murders back to the influence of war. Simple people who read of carnage and bloodshed easily receive its suggestions. Habits of self-control which have been but slowly and imperfectly acquired quickly break down under the stress."

"Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics."

"We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or class; but we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all [people] and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having."

and a personal favorite:

"The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself."

Read Jane Addams' New York Times obituary here.

Click here to read a Jane Addams poem by Kevin Coval.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MAHA SADHANA (Dharma Yoga Intensive) SATURDAY (1/28) FROM 2-5
Deepen Your Practice!
The early bird price of $35 has been extended through Thursday

Maha Sadhana means “The Great Practice”, and this amazing 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 Yoga is a classical, flowing hatha system 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.

At Sweet Pea's Studio
3717 N. Ravenswood, Suite 213

$35 through Thursday, $45 after
Click here to register via Paypal.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Friday, January 20, 2012


If only shopping for clothes really were this simple...

"I'll take the sheet on the right."

"Yes, that one really suits you, Madam."

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam

"By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness."

-Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, I.33

Swami Satchidananda comments:

"Whether you are interested in reaching samadhi or plan to ignore Yoga entirely, I would advise you to remember at least this one Sutra. IT will be very helpful to you in keeping a peaceful mind in your daily life. You may not have any great goal in your life, but just try to follow this one Sutra very well and you will see its efficacy. In my own experience, this Sutra became my guiding light to help keep my mind serene always."

Sanskrit translation:

* maitri = friendliness, pleasantness, lovingness
* karuna = compassion, mercy
* mudita = gladness, goodwill
* upekshanam = acceptance, equanimity, indifference, disregard, neutrality
* sukha = happy, comfortable, joyous
* duhka = pain, misery, suffering, sorrow
* punya = virtuous, meritorious, benevolent
* apunya = non-virtuous, vice, bad, wicked, evil, bad, demerit, non-meritorious,
* vishayanam = regarding those subjects, in relation to those objects
* bhavanatah = by cultivating habits, by constant reflection, developing attitude, cultivating, impressing on oneself
* chitta = mind field, consciousness
* prasadanam = purified, clear, serene, pleasant, pacified, undisturbed, peaceful, calm

Read another commentary here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Guru Stotram" lyrics by Adi Shankaracharya, performed by Maneesh de Moor

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Retreat early bird discount ends today

Happy belated Makar Sankrati!

And a reminder that this is the final day to receive the early bird discount on the March 3-4 retreat at the Port for Prayer in Frankfort, Illinois.

If you've been planning to deepen your practice in 2012 and want to make good on your promise to yourself, this will help!

In this peaceful, meditative setting, we will do multi-level Dharma Yoga asana practices as well as breathing, concentration, meditation, chanting and healing deep relaxation. (Dharma Yoga has been described as classical Hatha-raja yoga, which combines the practice of traditional asanas (poses) with devotion to the Supreme Self). Personal attention and helpful hints will be given throughout the weekend, as well as direction towards the true Goal of yoga.

Sign up and learn more here.

Still on the fence? Click here to see pictures and read testimonials from our November retreat.

Friday, January 13, 2012

the latest cartoon predates the NYT article by a good month.....

Click the word to read more about Sukha (ease) and Dukkha (suffering).

Sargeant, et. al. (2009: p. 303) provides the etymology of the Sanskrit words sukha and duḥkha:

It is perhaps amusing to note the etymology of the words sukha (pleasure, comfort, bliss) and duḥkha (misery, unhappiness, pain). The ancient Aryans who brought the Sanskrit language to India were a nomadic, horse- and cattle-breeding people who travelled in horse- or ox-drawn vehicles. Su and dus are prefixes indicating good or bad. The word kha, in later Sanskrit meaning "sky," "ether," or "space," was originally the word for "hole," particularly an axle hole of one of the Aryan's vehicles. Thus sukha … meant, originally, "having a good axle hole," while duhkha meant "having a poor axle hole," leading to discomfort.[3]

And we all know what the term "axle hole" evolved into!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


"Om is the bow; atman is the arrow; Brahman is said to be the mark. It is to be struck by an undistracted mind. Then atman becomes one with Brahman, as an arrow with the target."

-Mandukya Upanishad

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 09, 2012

Hooked on Vedic Chants

Sunday, January 08, 2012

This time it's an article called "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body"

Every couple of months, the NYT runs a provocative piece about that crazy yoga everyone's doing these days.

(Actually, they mean crazy asana. Most practitioners these days seem to be doing bhoga, not yoga. But that's for another post).

The current article is accompanied by several wince-inducing photos of wacky actors doing poses incorrectly. It makes the heart and body hurt to see these pictures - particularly the ones of shoulderstand and plow with the head cocked to the side. OUCH! An experienced, well-trained teacher will tell you to never do this - even if you're an Broadway performer who just landed a high-exposure gig with the New York Times.

In fact, there are five secrets to not getting hurt while performing asana:

Cara Kali's Five Secrets to Safe Asana Practice

-Find an experienced, well-trained teacher - not someone who just received their so-called certification. (The teacher should exhibit the qualities of a yogi off the mat as well). Tell them about any pre-existing conditions.
-Listen to the teacher. Respect the practice.
-Listen to the body. If the teacher tells you to do something, and the body says no, or it hurts or feels wrong, listen to the body - not the teacher.
-Ignore the ego, which will turn the practice into a competition and push you into poses you're not ready for.
-Listen to the body after the pose. If it didn't like it, or there's persistent pain, ask the teacher how to modify it or don't do it again.

But I digress. Here's an excerpt of William J. Broad's article - which cites, primarily, an NYC-based Iyengar teacher and a few horror stories. It's adapted from an upcoming book:

Almost a year after I first met Glenn Black at his master class in Manhattan, I received an e-mail from him telling me that he had undergone spinal surgery. “It was a success,” he wrote. “Recovery is slow and painful. Call if you like.”

The injury, Black said, had its origins in four decades of extreme backbends and twists. He had developed spinal stenosis — a serious condition in which the openings between vertebrae begin to narrow, compressing spinal nerves and causing excruciating pain. Black said that he felt the tenderness start 20 years ago when he was coming out of such poses as the plow and the shoulder stand. Two years ago, the pain became extreme. One surgeon said that without treatment, he would eventually be unable to walk. The surgery took five hours, fusing together several lumbar vertebrae. He would eventually be fine but was under surgeon’s orders to reduce strain on his lower back. His range of motion would never be the same.

Black is one of the most careful yoga practitioners I know. When I first spoke to him, he said he had never injured himself doing yoga or, as far as he knew, been responsible for harming any of his students. I asked him if his recent injury could have been congenital or related to aging. No, he said. It was yoga. “You have to get a different perspective to see if what you’re doing is going to eventually be bad for you.”

Black recently took that message to a conference at the Omega Institute, his feelings on the subject deepened by his recent operation. But his warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears. “I was a little more emphatic than usual,” he recalled. “My message was that ‘Asana is not a panacea or a cure-all. In fact, if you do it with ego or obsession, you’ll end up causing problems.’ A lot of people don’t like to hear that.”

Place a grain of salt on the tongue and read the rest here.

Friday, January 06, 2012

(best if volume is muted)

NOTE: Not all cats like surya namaskar. Kirby attacks during the Ashtanga sun salutations, and politely leaves the room during the classical Hatha ones. He does like to sit with me, though. And sometimes I catch him in the yoga room in the middle of the night, sitting very still and facing the altar. He is clearly beyond asana at this point.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, January 02, 2012

"Calling from Afar" by Krishna Das

From Dharma Mittra: Maha Sadhana Level I DVD

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year

"Whatever you're thinking about doing tomorrow, do today.

"Whatever you're thinking about doing today, do now."

-Chandra Om

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone