Workshop

A Time to Retreat

With the holiday season quickly coming to a close it’s probable that many of us are feeling worked. It seems that all around me there’s a mounting energy waiting to burst at the stroke of midnight New Years eve, when the entire world will collectively breathe a sigh of relief as 2016 rings in and grants us a few brief moments of respite.

This season can certainly feel like a battle at times. Behind the pressure to be happy, grateful, joyous or celebratory, the last few weeks of the year triggers some deep suffering for many people. It’s in these times that our practice is so important. But if your life even mildly resembles mine, you’ve definitely had to surrender to daily duties and skip practice on several occasions. So how do we come out victorious on the other end of this? Retreat. Retreat deep into your own experience and discover the true resilience of your soul.

Troy Samakonasana

The Bheemashakti Yoga School has two upcoming events on the calendar that can help to go deep into your practice, both with a slightly different flavor:

On January 2, 2016 we are hosting a 21 Day New Year Transformation, an intensive program that will help to stoke the fire of practice and clear out the stagnation of the holidays. It includes 2 hours of yoga daily, combining pranayama, meditation, and physical practice. This rhythm can help to generate some deep transformative benefits in addition to solidifying a strong habit.

Additionally we look forward to our annual Spring Detox on the North shore of Kauai from April 23-30. Over the course of this eight day, seven night retreat, we will dive deep into twice daily Bheemashakti Yoga practice and tap into the ancient magic of the Hawaiian islands.

Both of these opportunities are a great way to reset your year and get into some healthy rhythms, but if you’re not able to get away don’t worry! Daily practice is king and even small improvements on a consistent basis will make great changes. You just have to be ready to redirect your attention and find that the battle is not something you can conquer outside of yourself, it’s something you win on the inside.

 

 

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Yoga Ventures in Kauai 

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Uta & Troy with Taro Fields

Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in Hawaii? Not only did we visit one of the most beautiful islands of this world, we got to share the experience with a lovely group of people who came together for a week of yoga practice twice daily. Our friend Nicole spoiled us with her excellent vegan and vegetarian cooking skills. Check out her website Blissfully Conscious if you are looking for delicious vegan catering.

 

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Afternoon yoga practice with Angela

In his post Steady Rhythm, Deep Roots, Troy gave some insights into the routine of the retreat. Mornings and afternoons were filled with bheemashakti yoga and practice and meditation. During the days we had some time to explore the island. Kauai’s nature is breathtaking. Frequent rainfalls create a lush vegetation – and magical rainbows…

Since Hawaii is Troy’s birthplace, it was extra special to explore the island with him. He introduced me to delicious local foods and a visit to the Kauai Museum revealed some fascinating stories of Hawaiian history and culture.

 

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Uta, Ganesha & Troy in the Rudraksha Forest

The highlight of our excursions was a trip to the local Hindu monastery. We attended their Shiva Puja on the full moon. As Troy and I were sitting in meditation after the ceremony, the temple priest walked up to us and engaged us in an inspiring and insightful conversation about yoga and spirituality. We left with our hearts open and our eyes sparkling. On our way back to the retreat site, we paid a visit to the Rudraksha Forest. The seeds of these trees are auspicious in Hindu tradition. It is said the Rudraksha tree grew from a tear of Lord Shiva, and the beads are now used in malas (108 beads) for japa meditation (recitation of mantra or names of deities).

It was obvious – this won’t be our last visit to the islands. Message us, if you want to join one of our upcoming retreats to Hawaii!

Mahalo, Uta & Troy

Steady Rhythm, Deep Roots

Along the path of yoga there comes a time for many of us when it seems like life’s patterning just doesn’t fit our practice. There are many excuses we can make about why we can’t sit in meditation, why we can’t fit in an hour of asana, how there just isn’t enough time in the day, especially through The Holidays and New Year. With so many distractions happening in daily life and so many desires we wish to fulfill, it is not a surprise that the yoga practice can suffer.

Fortunately, this not a modern dilemma. The ancient sages knew that the Yoga Road was rocky and mapped it out for us. Patanjali’s yoga sutras outlines nine distinct distractions that become obstacles as one journeys further down the path of yoga:

1.30 Nine kinds of distractions come that are obstacles naturally encountered on the path, and are physical illness, tendency of the mind to not work efficiently, doubt or indecision, lack of attention to pursuing the means of samadhi, laziness in mind and body, failure to regulate the desire for worldly objects, incorrect assumptions or thinking, failing to attain stages of the practice, and instability in maintaining a level of practice once attained. (Swami J)
(vyadhi styana samshaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darshana alabdha-bhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayah)”

Fortunately there is a solution that has been prescribed by Patanjali to overcome these obstacles and it, in essence, is quite simple:

1.32 To prevent or deal with these nine obstacles and their four consequences, the recommendation is to make the mind one-pointed, training it how to focus on a single principle or object. (Swami J.)
(tat pratisedha artham eka tattva abhyasah)”

Although the solution to overcoming these obstacles is simple, that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. As we know, the mind is quite strong in its resistance to becoming still but the path of yoga is equipped with many tools that enable us to work through this even if just for a few breaths. In fact many spiritual and religious practices work in just this way- japa mala, rosary prayer, sigils, meditation, vision boards, etc- The key to all of this being the repeated attention to a single point. This is perhaps why so many of these traditions have renunciates (monks, nuns, sadhus, and so forth), spiritual aspirants who give up the motions of the mundane world to pursue their spiritual awakening.

So how can I practice this repeated single pointed attention to firmly establish a strong yoga practice as a house holder, someone who is fully immersed in the throes of the modern world? One option is Renunciation in the form of a retreat.

By taking an extended period of time away from home, beyond the scope of daily ritual we have an opportunity to replace our habits and excuses with disciplined practice. Think about it, with 24 hours in a day, away from the distractions of work, home responsibilities, socializing, there turns out to be plenty of time to dedicate to practice. And under the correct guidance, the retreat can be a great opportunity to feel the effects of a rooted yoga practice develop. That doesn’t necessarily mean that by the end of the week we will have developed great universal knowledge. But if for just a moment you feel what it is to step into a rhythm of Sadhana, the roots of sustained practice begin to grow.

Bheemashakti Yoga Kauai 2015 retreat.

Bheemashakti Yoga Kauai 2015 retreat.

At the Bheemashakti Yoga 2015 Kauai Retreat we will take 8 days and 7 nights to focus on twice daily practice as taught by my teacher Jonathan Patriarca. The morning will be marked by one hour of Ashtanga Pranayama and meditation followed by two hours of Dimensional Practice. After a plant based macrobiotic breakfast there will be time for contemplation, relaxation and exploration. The afternoon will begin our second session of Pranayama and Meditation accented by Asana Practice. Another plant based dinner will conclude the activities for the day. This sequence of practice has been designed to prepare the student to develop a deeper understanding of their yoga practice through repetition. As Jonathan would say “you can have an experience,” which he believed to be the strongest form of wisdom.

Through this spring time ritual you can plant seeds of inspired consistency to firmly ground your practice. Develop a deep rooted ceremony for yourself and grow strong in your pursuits of Self discovery.

Check out the details here: www.bheemashakti.org

See you there, Troy

From Communism to free Spirit

Twenty five years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. At the time, I was living in the GDR and my dreams of traveling and seeing the world seemed as likely as visiting the moon. Studying yogic philosophy in a form of government, where access to any form of information is strictly monitored, must be challenging. Unfortunately, it is still a reality for some places in the world.

Today, I am flooded with gratitude. This auspicious turn in world history has not only allowed me to travel the world, but also to go on a journey, that may not have been possible in the setting of communist East Germany. A journey inward. Life has brought me to San Diego and has opened many doors for me to discover not only the beauty of the outside world, but also uncover the mysteries of our inside world. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunities that continue to present themselves.

Prof Rao

Professor Nagaraja Rao on the Upanishads

Just this past week I enjoyed the opportunity to study with a visiting Sanskrit scholar from Mysore, India. Professor Nagaraja Rao discussed with a small group of students the yogic texts Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Upanishad actually means to sit down near a teacher. It refers to the fact that knowledge is transferred to the student who sits close to the teacher, and thus receives the teachings directly. The Upanishads are also called Vedanta, since they are the closing part of the Vedas, some of the oldest Sanskrit scriptures. There are four vedas, the Rigveda, the Vajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. However, there are over 108 Upanishads, since the four vedas have many branches. I learned that the four parts of the Mantra Om relate to the Vedas. When pronounced, Om is split up into A, U, M and a resonance of the M. The “A” corresponds to the Rigveda and to our waking state. The “U” is the Vajurveda and our dream state. The letter “M” is the deep sleep state or the Samaveda, and finally the resonance embodies Samadhi or the Atharvaveda. These states as well as the Vedas comprise our whole life.

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Indian Lunch with Professor Rao

The lectures ended today with a delicious Indian lunch. Contemplating ancient Indian scriptures on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – what better way to celebrate.

Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti*

Lead me from the non-existent to the existent
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
Om Peace Peace Peace

* Mantra from the Upanishads

Love, Uta