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Category: Yoga

Hanuman Jayanthi

April 19, 2019

Hanuman is the son of the wind (like our own breath), his father was Vayu and his mother a beautiful apsara known as Anjani. On this full moon we celebrate Lord Hanuman’s glorious appearance day.

Some of you readers know that Hanuman brought us, Erica + Spiro together, so this is a most special holiday for us personally. For those of you don’t know the story, you can read about it here.

Tapas

“Performing tapas, the spiritual seeker fuels the sacrificial flames residing within his spiritual heart, the abode of Brahmaṇaspati. As Agni blazes, a loud (but soundless) thunderclap is perceived: the cry of the Vaṣaṭ call by Brahmaṇaspati. The Vaṣaṭ call alerts the gods that an offering is made for their partaking. Eagerly, the gods rush to receive the oblation. In return, the gods shower the yajamāna with an abundance of divine plenitude.

The yajamāna (sacrificer), fully integrated in all aspects of his being, awakens to a new consciousness. A single ray of light (immortal truth) now shines forth from within with the brilliance of a million suns. Facilitated by Brahmaṇaspati and his holy power of brahmanheaven and earth are wedded together in the cave of the spiritual heart of the aspirant.” –The Divine Forces of the Lunar Nakṣatras as Portrayed in the Vedas: Mystical Forms, Ancient Epithets and Sacred Mythology, by Radhe

Wiley Yoga Tales

Tune into last week’s Expanding Mind podcast, Erik’s description— “Yogi, psychonaut, and dear old pal Spiros Antonopoulos returns to talk about the Ashtanga lineage, Crowley’s yoga chops, the gifts of rigorous practice, NYC punk yoga, psychedelic Patanjali, and the ups and downs of opening his & Erica Magill’s new Los Angeles Yoga Club amid the Instagram storms of LA body culture.” [Techgnosis]

Transcendent TV: the OA

Our pals Ashley & JC pushed us to The OA this past week, so we’ve been catching up. Beyond the tasty cinematic references, and compelling storytelling style, several pop California tropes emerge with resonance to our yoga practices. Here’s a few we found compelling (and often concurrently silly)—⁣

▵The idea that we live locked in the prison of our own mind, and that to #examine ourselves—our blindspots and preconceptions—involves work, struggle and perseverance.⁣

▵But there’s hope. The possibility to reach out and feel beyond our shackles, and experience something outside of ourselves (transcendence).⁣

▵Consciousness (and our identities and histories and memories) can move into other bodies.⁣

▵A diligent practice. A practice with many repetitions of a particular sequence of physical gestures (kinda looks like a fusion of Tai Chi with modern dance) with specific inhalations and exhalations tied to focus. So it’s easy to read as yoga.⁣

▵Through the practice of the five gestures, healing can occur.⁣

▵Specific methods (e.g., dreams, near-death experiences, and more) other worlds may be revealed or explored: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” —TS Eliot⁣

▵One promising thread, which sadly dwindles a bit in season 2  is that some of the practices need multiple humans to access energies beyond the individual self. Togetherness. Collectivity. Small groups.⁣

Read more—

  • The Radical Sincerity of The OA [The Atlantic]
  • Choreographer Ryan Heffington, the man who created the movements for ‘The OA’ (who also happens to have a dance school just down the hill from our home in Silverlake) [This Is Insider]

image @vicenteniro

A moment of conscious breathing, Equinox style—

March 21, 2019 ❖ Full moon | Vernal Equinox

Begin with an inhalation (for a comfortable amount of time).
Exhale for the same amount of time.
Imagine inhaling the daylight, and exhaling the night.
Repeat for a few minutes—focusing upon the feeling of balance, homeostasis, equilibrium and equality. Feel the subtle line between effort and surrender, between inhaling and exhaling, between ourselves and the solar system.

Notes on Wakefulness

13 February 2018, The Malibu Hindu Temple

Bodhidharma – meaning “one who awakens” – was a 5th century Prince turned monk who traveled from East India to China, bringing with him Buddhism and tea. In stories he is cast as a little grumpy and incredibly devout, wandering about as the first patriarch of China. In one particularly tall tale Bodhidharma is said to have been deep in meditative practice, some time into a nine-year stint of wall-staring when he realized he had nodded off. Furious at his weakness he tore at his eyes, scratching and tearing until he ripped his eyelids off completely, flinging them to the ground in frustration.

✢ ✢ ✢

Robert Irwin works with light, “Open your eyes in the morning, the world is totally formed. You haven’t done anything other than be. It’s all around you.”

He continues in an infinite play of empty mirrors, “The whole idea is being able to recognize it, and pay attention to it, articulate it.”

“Beauty is all around you,” he says.

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Miraculously, where Bodhidharma’s eyelids fell, tea plants sprouted. Bodhidharma plucked the leaves of the plant and began to chew. His mind became clear, focused, bright – awake! Reinvigorated he returned to his meditation.

The ṛṣis, sometimes called the “Vedic seers,” were once asked: “‘In what are you experts?’ They responded, ‘in the sensation of being alive. We are wakeful – or, if you like, we vegetate.’ Vajra, the lightning flower, the ultimate weapon of the gods, is connected with vegeo, to be wakeful, vigilant…the lightning is the lightning flash of wakefulness. ‘Vegetation’ and ‘wakefulness’ share the same root.” And as the ṛṣis saw it, the secret of existence was in just three actions: waking, breathing and sleeping. And, Roberto Calasso continues, they were dazzled by one revelation: the elementary fact of being conscious.

The God of Consciousness and Creation; of Death, Time and Destruction; Lord of the vegetable world and of Yoga – Śiva – is said to be always awake; always aware, forever conscious, he keeps his third eye eternally open; he is the light that endures in the darkness, present even when the world ceases to exist.

On Maha Śivaratri – the Great Night of Śiva – devotees demonstrate their dedication to Lord Śiva by staying awake the whole night long, chanting, dancing and praying, maintaining that defining anatomical characteristic of wakefulness – an erect spine, or Mount Meru. In disrupting our patterns (unconscious awareness; sleep) we make space to recognize what is not mechanistic, unconscious being. Now. Now we can bypass our automatic patterns, control our habits, and gain insight.

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Vegetal and wakeful; conscious and animated; animal and vegetable. Even spoons and stones are conscious some physicists say. Panpsychism.

An all-pervading wakefulness available to plants, humans, seers and gods is described in the Śiva Sūtra (verse 11) as a samadhi-like awareness – turīya – : tritayabhoktā vīreśaḥ : The one who enjoys in the oneness of awareness of all the three states – waking, dreaming and deep sleep – becomes the master of all organic energies. Patañjali tells us – : svapna-nidrā jñāna-ālambanam vā : Knowledge in dream and sleep can awaken you to the truth.

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The quest for meaning, for wakefulness and truth, has perennially piqued human curiosity; it is a part of our makeup, steeped in our blood and bones, in the songs of the plants, and planets, myths and imaginings. It is not just a rallying mandate in the turmoil of our times – it is a lineage of inquiry, a tool for transformation: stay awake.

ॐ नमः शिवाय // Om Namah Śivāya!


Śivaratri photo by @shivam_sharma_01⁣

Groundhog Day: Darkness & Dawn

In the 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a crotchety weatherman, Phil, ceaselessly reliving February 2nd over and over again, waking day after day to find that he must once again report on Punxsutawney Phil, the prophetic groundhog. According to lore, if Punxsutawney spots his shadow upon emerging from his burrow we’d better bundle up for six more weeks of winter. If, on the other hand, Phil’s shadow is nowhere to be found then it’s said spring is around the bend.

In other words – it’s bloody dark outside and we’re all in a hole. And we get one day out of the whole year to crawl out and IF there happens to be sun, it will reveal our shadows. This emergence offers a wake-up call, a break from the rut, from our habits, from the dark, dreary, damp, cold, dormant life. Hallelujah! There’s a crack and that’s how the light gets in.

But what do we do after we’ve seen our shadows?

In the film, Phil the weatherman experiences life as a time-loop, watching his self-centered mistakes and missteps happen again and again. Until he figures out that he can stop the loop by examining his ways, and, like Phil the groundhog, face his shadows.

Phil’s repetitive, unending groundhog day can be seen as every day of our lives. Years might go by without our noticing – days, seasons and cycles passing one after the other right before our eyes. Like Phil, can we break free from the time-loop by paying attention?

Contemplative practices, which are in themselves repetitive, hold the promise of this insight. We might stare at a wall day in and day out; or focus on the tip of our noses; or concentrate on the breath; or roll out a yoga mat and practice the same ashtanga yoga sequence that we did yesterday, today, and that we’ll do again tomorrow.

In the Hollywood version we get a hero and a romantic ending to the tune of Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” In our version, we just go back to the mat. We habituate ourselves to a rhythm and method, to a sequence and breath count so that we might, through the tireless repetition, better see where we’re a little rough around the edges.

Rhythm setting, we learned from the 2017 Nobel Prize winners for medicine & physiology, is present in all multicellular life, and in fact circadian rhythms keep our lives attuned to the Earth’s diurnal cycle – we rise and set with the Sun because of our biological clocks.

So science reaffirms what perennial wisdom has always known. Groundhogs, humans, and creatures of all kinds crawl out of their holes to greet the dawn, or Uṣas, in Vedic cultures. Shining and radiant, Uṣas, who resides in the Gāyatrī Mantra brings relief from the dark, but also possibility, hope and a luminous path before daybreak.

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः ।
तत्स॑वि॒तुर्वरेण्यं॒
भर्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑धीमहि ।
धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया॑त् ॥
oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tatsaviturvareṇyaṃ
bhargo devasyadhīmahi
dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt
To that which gives birth,
please inspire our choices.
May luminous wisdom and knowledge flow like water,
And this in our hearts move us forward.
“Spontaneously, each of us has our preferences, references, frequencies; each must appreciate rhythms by referring them to oneself, one’s heart or breathing, but also to one’s hours of work, of rest, of walking and of sleep.”
—Henri Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time & Everyday Life

P.S. If you’re in the LA area you can catch Groundhog Day in theatres tonight, February 2nd, at The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica and The Frida Cinema in Orange County.