By the Power of Mystical Yoga

This Sanskrit symbol is tattooed on my left hip.   It translates into English as “the mystic power of yoga”. 

There is a quote that is well-known to Yogis by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.  It is “do your practice and all is coming”.  

As I was dressing yesterday and noticed my tattoo it occurred to me that I am not really trusting in what I know to be true. 

1.  The power of mystic yoga, and

2.  Do your practice and all is coming.

Wow!   How simple is that?  Why do I make everything so hard?  I just have to trust that if I live my truth every day and continue the practice that the power of mystic yoga will ensure that all is coming. 

What is coming?  Are all my dreams going to come true?  Maybe.  I think the reality, though, is that through the practice, when I  realize that I already have everything I need – then everything else will fall in nicely.

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The Tao of Vegetarianism

The word Tao is an eastern word which literally translates to “path” or “way”.  I have chosen vegetarianism as my “way” to eat.

I am not usually an evangelist for Vegetarianism, but I’ve seen things in the last few weeks that are making me change my mind.  

Most recently I saw a Humane Society video taken at the Smithfield  Foods pork plant.  I won’t post it here, because I wouldn’t subject anyone to it.  It is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. 

I used to think I became a Vegetarian for health reasons, and maybe I did.  But, each one these videos that I see make me so thankful that, for whatever reason, I did.

Karma is a concept that is much more involved than most people believe.  Most people see it as a “what comes around goes around”.   But, it is a blend of our previous actions, thoughts, and deeds coupled with the collective karma of those in our world.  It’s a little scary to think our future is shaped, in part,  by the actions of those around us, particularly in light of the factory farming horrors. 

There was a particular photo in the article that caused my heart to open up. It was a shot of a sad pig looking directly into the camera.   It made me happy that I’d made the choice to become a vegetarian and it made me hope that my choice was moving the needle on the collective karma of the universe in the right direction.

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About a week ago there was one of those postings flying around Facebook to change your photo to a cartoon character.  I chose Wonder Woman.  To all Wonder Woman purists: I do know that Wonder Woman is technically a comic book character, but there was an animated Justice League series, right?

Anyway, I love Wonder Woman.  I flirted with the idea of some form of a Wonder Woman tattoo once, but never did it.  I like the little double W symbol – but, it’s yellow.  That’s the only thing that discouraged me.  I’m sure I’ll revisit it, because I rarely let any thought die.

My identification with Wonder Woman is probably tied to my psyche.  I think I can do anything.  That manifests itself in my rarely saying no.  I could be buried up into my neck in files that I am already fretting over whether I’ll finish and my boss could walk in with yet another file and say “Hey.. can you take this for me and finish it by tomorrow afternoon?”  I would smile and say “Sure”.  Then, I would finish it by the deadline if I had to stay up all night.

Truth.  The truth is – I don’t want that file.  I don’t want another deadline.  And while I’m thinking about it I don’t want to watch TV tonight, either.  I’d rather sit with a burning fire in a quiet room and read.  But, I don’t say these things.  I take the file and I watch TV. 

I am thinking of applying for a new job at work so that I don’t have to take that file and I don’t have to watch TV every night.  This job would completely change the nature of my work. I would not have a case load so there would be no more files and there would be more travel involved so that sometimes, on the road,  I could just sit in the quiet and read.  

I wonder, wouldn’t it just be easier to tell the truth?

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I just returned from a weekend Yoga retreat at a lovely place in east Texas called Yoga in the Pines.  It’s my third stay, and as usual, I came home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. 

That being said, it is quite the trick to return to real life.  How does one retain that meditative quality of life from a retreat and bring that into the daily bustle of normal life?  I believe it all starts by actually doing it. 

I am the worst about over-commiting. I will make a to do list that looks a little something like this: 

1.  Meditate for 20 minutes every day.

2.  Exercise on the treadmill for 30 minutes every day.

3.  Practice Asana for 45 minutes every day.

4.  Eat 4 servings of greens every day.

Do you see where I am going with this?  Only a person who has no other commitments in life could possibly keep up with this list of “commitments”.   When I can’t keep up with it, I just give up and decide to eat a half of a chocolate cake. 

I know that the solution lies in setting more reasonable goals for oneself, but I’m afraid I don’t know exactly where that line is for me.  I also haven’t learned how not to eat a half a cake in despair when I feel like its hopeless.  I’m not sure how that works. 

I think for now, my goal should be to meditate “a little” every day, keep an awareness about me regarding my goals, and live my life as if I am already where I want to be.  It’s a good start.

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India is Yoga

I titled this Blog It’s all Yoga.  When I decided on that name I selected a photograph from my trip to India last Spring as my title banner. 

This is the vacation diary I made to share with friends and family on my return from the trip:

I had imagined that I would go to India and have a Yogic experience that involved meditation and asana in some way. The reality couldn’t have been further from my expectations.

My Yoga wasn’t in my asana practice. In fact, the closest I got to what felt like my normal practice was a Ganesh mantra with my new mala beads during a very (make that VERY, VERY) bumpy portion of our return flight.

My Attempts at Yoga Practice

I was not welcomed at the Sivananda Ashram in South New Delhi. My hotel’s concierge video included a segment on the a.m. practice at the Ashram. I checked with the concierge one last time, who assured me they would welcome walk ins. I woke up at 5 a.m., hired a taxi, and headed over. The attendant at the desk (who I am pretty sure was a westerner) assured me that I had been misinformed and walk ins were not welcome. This from an Ashram, who on their website, solicited donations for much needed renovations. I’m thinking that might not be the way to get them, but who am I to say?

So.. after my experience with the Sivananda Ashram, I went back to the hotel to take the a.m. Yoga class in the health club in the lower level. The class was taught by a nice Indian Dr. (what kind, I am not sure.. Ayurvedic, I suppose). There were two students in the class, including myself. I received very personalized instruction, but much more focus on breath manipulation than asana. Then, after the class was over – just like almost everything else in India – came the up-sell. Didn’t I want to come back for private lessons? One class couldn’t possibly be enough for me to get the real benefits, etc. etc. He was a kind man, but I was already beaten down by the hawker mentality that pervades nearly everywhere.

The REAL Yoga in India
The sanskrit word Yoga means union. Union with the Self, Divine, or union of the mind, body, and spirit; it depends on one’s personal interpretation of the word. Namaste’ means “the divine in me honors or recognizes the divine in you, or as my daughter prefers “My God is sayin’ “Hi” to your God.”

So…these are the places I found true Yoga in India:

In the bright smile of our tour facilitator, Sunil, every time he met us at the train to take us back to our hotel from our daily excursions.

In the kindness of Skylab, the waiter at our hotel, who was so impressed that Hannah remembered his name on our second visit that he took special care to make us feel welcome each and every time we saw him.

In the smiling faces of the Indian couple we met on the train to Haridwar who were visiting from San Francisco, who didn’t mind that Craig was nearly sleeping on the husband’s shoulder!

In the sweet way that the swami gave me permission to take his photograph (and that of Ganesh) in the temple. He smiled sweetly and cocked his head to one side – then smiled brightly for the photo. It warms my heart each time I see it.

In the hotel staff, who were so proud of their country and its customs that they were willing to allow us to crash an Indian wedding on site and even take pictures if we wanted. It turns out Indian weddings last all night, so we didn’t.

In the newly married couple on their honeymoon at the Taj Mahal who were so curious about Hannah, never having seen a light skinned child. The wife could not stop smiling.

In the Swami at the temple who took great care to explain to us the history of temple, the legend regarding its spot and gave us meticulous instructions on the customs at the tree of life.

In the sweet Sikh gentlemen we met at the airport in Delhi awaiting our flight home who had the warmest smile and greatest sense of humor. He told us funny jokes and had an aura of calm about him that was grounding. One of the jokes was about a young Marine he met who, before the Marines, used to steal cars and he called BMW(s) – “break my windows”. Maybe you had to be there.

In the laughing porters who manually lifted tons of luggage from the train, performing their jobs with zeal and joy, even though it looked as though it could possibly be a pretty crappy job.

In the way that Lakhi, our elephant taxi, leaned toward me and looked me right in the eyes with her own when I spoke softly to her. Laugh if you want (everyone else has), but I made a real connection with that elephant!!!

There are so many more…. but, everyone we met was proud of their country, happy we were visiting, and anxious for us to share our good experience with others. In the words of our sweet guide in Agra, “I hope that one day India is the place that everyone in the world wants to visit”.

I hope so, too.


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