Over the next weeks and months I hope this page will serve to inspire and encourage in your yoga practise and in your life.
2016 Los Gatos Retreat
Dear Gangaji, dear sangha:
As sit here this morning and watch the clouds pass by my window, I reflect on the profundity and gratitude I feel to have been able to sit with our beloved teacher and to be with sangha in the true gift of satsang. One could describe Los Gatos as Love itself. To be in a safe sacred space together, a place that was and is so safe that everything and everyone is welcome, the joys and sorrows, the past and the future, the deer on the hillside, the little cats playing outside the dining hall, the old and the young. A true blessed community.
The silence this time was so deep for me and still accompanies me like a beloved friend, with no conflict at all with the re emergence of my daily life. Love drips from my pours after drinking deeply from this well of Love. In this openness there is room to hold it all.
I want to thank Gangaji for her endless dedication to Truth and for giving her life in service. I want to thank everyone who attended, for being true friends, old and new alike who shared of themselves so preciously, so freely. And thank you to everyone here on the forum that holds this space so diligently year after year. My heart is bursting with Love for you all.
In deep gratitude, Jeannie
Dear Silence Why do you come now? When my mind wants so much to tell it’s story of Love, of grief of loss, of health. I watch the eagles and cranes and gulls drift with ease by my morning window. And yet, there you are the quiet consciousness of Silence My mind flops like a dying fish afraid to let go into THIS unknowingness I sit in awe of the texture of Life Each breath breathing into Silence Each breath breathing out into Silence There is no thing to do no thing to resist
An Introduction to Pranayama
Breath is life. We can live for days without food or water, but deprived of breath we die in minutes. To a yogi there are two main functions of proper breathing: to bring more oxygen to the blood and thus to the brain; and to control prana or vital energy, leading to control of the mind. The word pranayama means the restraint and control of vital energies.
In the practises given in this book, each exercise is working with your energy in a specific way, i.e. the Alternate Nostril breath is a way of balancing your energies while Sithali, the cooling breath, is intended as a way of cooling both the body and the mind. Each pranayama has a unique energy of its own.
What is Prana?
Central to all practises of yoga is the movement of prana, the life force or vital energy. It is a subtle form of energy that is carried in air, food, water and sunlight, and it animates all forms of matter. Through the practise of asana and pranayama, more prana is taken in and stored in the body, creating a reservoir of vitality and strength.
Pranayama Exercise #1 Ujjai Breath (Ocean Breath) Through the use of sound, we learn to regulate and control the breath. As you get a feel for this breath, you will hear the sound of the rise and fall of the ocean. Exercise: Feel the air at the tip of your nose. Notice the back of the throat. Stay with this for a few breaths. Now begin to draw the breath from the tip of the nose right to the back of the throat and upper palate with the inhalation. Continue to breathe in this way, noticing your ability to direct the movement of the breath. Next begin to notice where the exhalation is felt at the upper palate and down the sides of the nose. Gradually focus a little more on the exhalation. You may begin to hear the sound of your breath. Slowly and with control, breathe directly into the back of the throat and palate on the inhalation, and out down the sides of the nose on the exhalation. Feel the upper palate moving down. Gradually allow sound to emerge. The inhalation will sound like “sss” and the exhalation will sound like “haa”. Notice with the addition of sound it is possible to regulate the breath. Begin with just a few minutes of practise and gradually build up the length of time. Inquiry: As you become comfortable with this practise and can hear the ocean” sound, let yourself connect with the oceans around the planet. Tune in to the larger rhythms of the universe. Feel the interconnectedness.
Pranayama Exercise #2
Viloma Breath (Finding the Pause)
This practise is intended to develop an ease with the retention of the breath in the form of a small pause. On a more spiritual note, this practise gives a glimpse into the stillness between each breath and each thought.
Exercise: Sit in a comfortable position. Take a little time to completely relax the face and chest. Breathe naturally, while simply observing the breath.
Gradually begin to gently regulate the breath by breathing into the count of 4 and exhaling to the count of 4. Be easy — if counting creates tension, simply create an even inhalation and exhalation.
When you are comfortable with this breathing pattern (2-3 minutes), begin to lengthen the exhalation by one beat to a count of 5, followed by a momentary “pause”.
Continue to breathe in to a count of 4 and out to the count of 5, followed by a brief pause, until you are comfortable with this slight retention of the breath.
Inquiry: What do you notice in the pause? Does your mind stop? Does it quiet? What notices the mind?
"One act of forgiveness can change the course of yours or another’s life."