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Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

My new favorite class in Boston is actually at the Prana Power Yoga studio in Cambridge (Central Square). It’s convenient (right in front of the Central Square T-stop) and it’s a Sunday afternoon class.  What better way to wind down your weekend.  It’s the 4:30-6P class taught by Gretchen. Her class had great rythm and flow and was just hard enough to make you sweat but leave you energized.  The class fills up early so I suggest grabbing your spot well before the 4:30 start time.  The nice part is that it’s held in the larger of their two rooms – the other is quite small and clostrophobic. Check her out!

The other reco I have for Sunday’s is Glen’s 2-hr Sadhana class at the Sadhana studio in the South End. Not as warm and not as hard. Generally the same class weekly.  Glen has quite the following so the same goes for this class- get there early.  Class runs 4-6P.  The 2 hours goes by quickly but know that the last 15-20 min is a savasana/seated-meditation.  I’m not a fan of meditating after savasana. I generally find myself wanting to lay right back down and take a nap.  Still a great class I highly recommend.

-Eliza

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Yoga at Temple?  Who knew!? I wonder if they “Om”…

Take a read of Temple Makes a Leap of Faith, in yesterday’s Boston Globe, by staff writer Steven Rosenberg–a few excerpts follow.

Baruch HaLevi the rabbi at the Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott, MA has implemented nontraditional programs into the Saturday morning curriculum – such as meditation, Hebrew prayer chanting, and yoga – while traditional services take place in the synagogue’s main sanctuary…

Congregants say the programs have stimulated their interest in Judaism, and have helped boost membership 20 percent since HaLevi arrived, a significant jump for a synagogue affiliated with the Conservative movement.

But by using unorthodox methods, HaLevi has avoided the trend that has left many Conservative temples struggling for members.

HaLevi’s goal is “to get people to connect with God,” and, on Shabbat, he presents a contemporary potpourri of spirituality that he says people want. It includes a group chant of Hebrew words in his meditation-style “renewal” service, where HaLevi sometimes offers up a dose of Buddhism, words of wisdom from Hasidic luminaries, and poetry from the likes of Emily Dickinson. At the Saturday morning “Torah yoga,” where people stretch and traditional Hebrew prayers play on an iPod, participants merge Sanskrit with Hebrew, reciting together, “Namasté, Shabbat Shalom,”a mix of Sanskrit and Hebrew that wishes for a peaceful Sabbath.

While a few congregants didn’t feel comfortable with the alternative programs and eventually left the congregation, HaLevi insists the changes were necessary to provide an entry point to Jewish prayer.

A few months ago, Larry Groipen, 51, of Swampscott, said he was looking for deeper meaning in life when he walked into the synagogue. Groipen, who now attends the renewal service and Torah yoga, said the Shabbat experience brings a sense of relaxation that he can’t feel during the week.

“I think Judaism is authentic, but the way we’ve portrayed it is flat, thin, and inauthentic. And so we’re offering what I believe is authentic Judaism. It has multiple pathways to experience God in our lives.”-HaLevi

Amen!

-Eliza

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If you’re down with doing 108 Sun Salutes, this might be an for you.  In 2007, Shiva Rea helped start this worldwide yoga event to help raise consciousness for peace and the key environmental issue of global warming.

On Sunday, September 21st on the Boston Common and at the Cyclorama, the Boston area yoga community will gather for a day of yoga practices to bring awareness and raise consciousness for PEACE and MOTHER EARTH.

The date of September 21st is also significant because it is the UN International Peace Day. Last year, there were over 400 Global Mala events in 35 countries.

There are many ways to be involved. By participating in the Yoga Mala in the morning or afternoon, you can dedicate your practice of 108 Sun Salutations for peace and any other important intention. In the evening, you can listen and be inspired by Lama Surya Das and then chant in a kirtan led by David Newman, an amazing kirtan wallah from Philadelphia.

MORNING
A silent, meditative yoga mala at the Boston Common led by:

  • Daniel Orlansky
  • Glen Cunningham (Sadhana Studios)
  • Amy Leydon (Sportsclub-LA/Boston)
  • Kim Valeri (Yoga Spirit Studios)

Kirtan with Prajna

AFTERNOON
Yoga Mala with music and chanting in many yoga traditions (teaching order to be determined)

  • Lynne Begier (Forrest Yoga, Back Bay Yoga)
  • Jarvis Chen (Iyengar)
  • Richard Lanza (Power Yoga, Open Doors)
  • Chanel Luck and Roberto Lim (Prana Flow)
  • Deb Neubauer (Anusara, Anahata Yoga Center)
  • Kate O’Donnell (Ashtanga, Back Bay Yoga)
  • David Vendetti (Vinyasa, South Boston Yoga)
  • Taylor Wells (Power Yoga, Prana Power Yoga)

Meditation (1/4 cycle of 27 minutes) Led by Ek Ong Kar Singh

SAVE 9% OFF YOUR TICKET PURCHASE IF YOU USE PROMO CODE: PEACE

Visit Global Boston Mala to learn more!

-Eliza

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Yes friends we get a whole month-

No really, what the heck is Yoga Month you might ask?

Yoga Month is a grassroots, community-based national campaign to educate people about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle.

Yoga Month is a year-round campaign and will peak Sept. 2008 with the 10 City Yoga Health Festival Tour and with millions of health & social conscious individuals practicing yoga at thousands of yoga studios and homes around the world.

The Yoga Health Festival is covering Denver, Miami, Boston, New York, Chicago, Austin, LA, San Diego, San Fran and Vancouver.

Boston on Wednesday, Sept. 3 at the Cambridge Masonic Hall

New York blow out on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th and 6th.

In New York, $88 gets you a VIP pass to all workshops, events and David Newman’s benefit concert in the evening. You can also pay a la cart and just go to the events that interest you most. Featured instructors include Beryl Bender Birch, Elena Bower and Timothy McCall among many others. Workshops range from The Beginners Mind to Hip Hop Asana to Kundalini & Meditation. If that wasn’t enough to interest you, there will be yoga, health and green related exhibitors- uh, who doesn’t love free samples, common people! And for my penny pinchers out there, FYI many of the events are free, including all day activities for kids.

Proceeds benefit the National Yoga Alliance.

-Eliza

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Om is more than a word – it is an intonation, like music or vibration.  It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, essentially “A” – “U” – “M”.  It is often said that the sound of Om contains in it all other sounds. In the Upanishads Om is considered to be an all-encompassing mystical entity- the voice of God, or as I like to think of it, the sound of the universe. As sacred texts declare, the vibration of Om is supposed to penetrate one’s soul, transcend the past, present and future, and reveal the truth.

So the question remains: om or no om?

Having been a past practitioner at Jivamukti where they chant, A LOT, in their classes I have built up a tolerance to chanting in general.  I enjoy it- but on occasion and in the right place at the right time.  In fact, I have to admit I’m not one who enjoys chanting when I show up to a yoga class expecting to jump right into the physical aspect.

I do however, ALWAYS enjoy chanting om at the beginning and end of the class.  My favorite is actually chanting om in rounds.  Not exactly, Row Row Your Boat style but more or less just following the rise and fall of your own breath rather than the instructor/leader of the chant.  I like to imagine that there must be times when all the yogis around Manhattan (i.e. Union Square) are chanting om at once given that there are so many studios with similar class schedules.  You would think there must be a few hundred people chanting om come 7:30 on the weekdays across Manhattan.  Pretty cool, huh?

What I find odd, and actually awkward is some classes choose to chant om at the start of class and not at the end (Dana Strong does this at YogaWorks).  There’s something about closing with om that makes you feel full or satisfied.  Maybe it’s just me.  But as my teaching philosophy has developed I believe whole heartedly in om, and less so in chanting before class.  Truth is, I’m there to practice like everyone else and chanting (while nice) is sometimes hard to fit into the hour and a half you’re on the mat.  Oh and what’s up with instructors who pick obscure chants that no one can repeat – that’s just uncomfortable for everyone!

-Eliza

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Eliza & Britt

Miss Liza!  In our same visit to Prana Power this weekend, we did notice a permit for 2 showers!  But they still sell water bottles.  Shame shame.

As Liza continues her teacher training, I recommended that she seek out a kirtan (chanting).  My understanding of this, is that by chanting the sanskrit names of gods, you are evoking their presence and perhaps getting closer to them, a vital step to enlightenment.  Mostly chants are call and response, but many times if a mantra is repeated over and over and people know it, they just continue on singing.  I’ve been to several chants, all of which are always a little weird to start out, but end up being a lot of fun.  My first chant was in LA with Krishna Das (if you’ve ever stepped foot in a yoga studio, you’ve heard him- he’s the ultimate yoga rockstar).  There is always an interesting mix of people at these events, hippies, gentrified yogis, people who dance, people who sway, people who do absolutely nothing but observe.  The chants I’ve been to have always had great musicians and personally, I like a lot of the music they play!  Energy builds as the night goes on, and slowly people let go and more and more participate.  There is definitely a sense of freedom and child-like play that you feel when you’re in one of these.  Think about the last time that you sang out loud with a group of people.  Probably in grade school!  So, at least in my experience, its doesn’t matter what I’m chanting, shiva, shanti, krishna, om- its the ability to let go of adult conventions and share with people around you.  I’ve listed some New York kirtans, which you should absolutely try to make!

Yogaworks is doing one Saturday, August 16th from 7:30-9:30pm at their midtown studio.

Integral Yoga Institute does one every Friday at 8.

Jivamukti hold satsangs every Wednesday at 8:30pm, except the first Wednesday of the month, when the program begins at 8:00pm.

The Omega Institute is doing as Esctatic Chant Weekend from August 29-September 1st, which would really be jumping in full force!  Krishna Das with Carioca, Sheila Chandra, Krishna Das, Miten, Deva Premal, Jai Uttal, and Wah! are all expected to be there.

-Britt

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photo uploaded by Paulito

“Ego rules the world. People are helpless victims of their ego. Sensitive people endowed with compassionate hearts are hard to find…Consider everyone, because that is the doorway to God and to your own Self.”
Amma

From the book “From Amma’s Heart”
Translated & Written by Swami Amritaswarupananda

Last week Amma was in New York City dishing out free hugs and love to all. For those of you who do not know of Amma, she is Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi otherwise known as Mother (Amma literally means “mother”).  Amma is an internationally recognized humanitarian and spirtual leader- the catalyst behind countless humanitarian activities worldwide (from disaster relief to sponsored weddings for the poor). Amma does not subscribe to a particular religion but says her religion is Love.  She asks not for you to believe in God, but in themselves.On her tours Amma’s darshan takes the form on an embrace…a hug as we know it.

Its said that Amma’s embrace “allows [people] to experience true, unconditional love.  Wehn Amma holds somone it can help to awaken the dormant spirtual energy within them, which will eventually take them to the ultimate goal of self-realization

In the past 36 years, Amma has physically hugged more than 26 million people.  As many as 200,000 people are known to flock at once to just catch a glimpse of Amma in person!

Simply put, she’s kind of a big deal.  And here I was, only feet from her feet right here in Manhattan!

The program included lecture, chanting and meditation. Oh, and by the way, unbelievable homemade Indian food. I had a heavy plate and I ate over conversation with a Hare Krishna devotee (who splits his time between India and New Jersey!!).

The whole event was moving because her devotion to people and the people’s devotion to her felt so strong. It was all around me.

Okay, and now the hug.

It went like this: Everyone received a token upon arrival and we were called by category to line up. You were ushered down an aisle a la musical chairs, moving one chair ahead each time a person was hugged. There was a team of maybe six people around Amma the whole time. It looked as if one woman was solely in charge of massaging Amma while she hugged. This part did not come as a surprise as I understand Amma hugs for upwards of 12 hours straight with one solitary break! The other members of her pit crew were responsible for taking your bag and/or your glasses, they helped you wipe down your face, and they positioned you on your knees with your arms outspread ready for your turn. As soon as the man ahead of me hugged Amma he was tossed out of the ring and I was hurried into place– thrust into her arms!

To get my hug and experience all that is Amma I showed up at the Manhattan Center at 5:30 PM on Wednesday. By the time I received my hug and hit the subway it was 1 AM.  It was a wonderful and awe inspiring experience just to be in the presence of her devotees.  Everyone’s experience with her is unique and personal. Amma is at once a spirtual leader, a humanitarian and a brand (think Newman’s Own on steroids). She’s a one of a kind do-gooder, and she smells amazing!  If you’ve ever hugged her, you’d understand!

If you want to learn more about Amma watch this short from ABC’s 20/20 – still not enough? A simple “Amma” search on YouTube is guaranteed to provide countless Amma related video.

Learn more straight from the source. www.amma.org.

Other beautiful Amma photos by Jennifer Esperanza

-Eliza

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