By Myra Lewin
I used to race cars, and fix them too. When I was about 14, back in east Tennessee, you could often find me at the garage, hanging with the mechanics, or riding the rolling hills. At that time, being behind the wheel or under the hood felt like freedom to me. I loved being a part of the action - hugging the curves of the road, leading the pack. I was small, young, plenty reckless, and clearly pretty in touch with my masculine energy.
By Myra Lewin
The Sahara belongs to the sun. Among the rolling dunes there was once the world’s largest lake, named Mega Chad, which evaporated over a thousand years ago under the sun’s relentless glare. But today the lake’s silvery remains sustain life half a world away. Each year wind blows mineral-rich dust from the dried Saharan lake bed all of the way to South America, where it fertilizes the lush greenery of the Amazon.
To gain an understanding of Earth’s intricate and fantastic ecological balance, one must examine the planet as a whole. The earth is a holistic system in which balance is sustained by the interaction of different elements. The human being is no different. To initiate true healing we must consider the person as a whole: mind, body and spirit.
Joint health is an important part of your ability to move freely and enjoy life. When prana is absent in your joints, you may feel pain or discomfort, or experience limited mobility.
This short sequence, called Namaste to the Joints, is designed to bring prana to these places where bones intersect and move each joint in its optimum range of motion. You can do most of these exercises in a chair, making this a wonderful sequence to bring to the office or practice while traveling on an airplane.
Watch the video below to say "namaste" to your joints:
Prana is life force. It is the energy that creates and sustains us. When prana flows easily through all parts of our beings, life unfolds with greater ease. Pranayama, one of the eight limbs of Yoga, is a powerful set of practices that harnesses and directs prana to flow the way it is intended. A consistent and balanced pranayama practice can correct emotional and physical disturbances, calm the doshas and support spiritual awakening.
Because it is so powerful, it’s best to learn advanced pranayama practices from an experienced teacher, but there are a few practices that are simple enough to share online. We have posted on bhramari and a version of nadi shodhana. A few months ago, we also shared the practice of yoni mudra as an additional way to direct your flow of energy and connect to your higher self within. This month, we offer one additional pranayama practice that is designed to disperse excess heat in the body and mind.
One of the great benefits of Yoga asana is that it brings prana, or life force, to the body. When prana flows, life is easy and you understand your purpose.
However, you don’t need to master natarajasana or bakasana to feel the flow of prana throughout your body. A simple sequence, such as in the video below for Prana Namaskar, will build strength and move energy throughout your body.
This three-minute sequence may seem simple, but it will provide great mental and physical challenge. As you build pelvic floor strength, you will get in touch with your body and create connection within.
Balance is not so much a point of absolute stillness as it is a dance, one that requires strength and flexibility in body and mind. On the mat and in the rest of life, balance means moving within your current capabilities and accepting the expansion that comes from there.
Natarajasana, or king dancer pose, is a celebration of this dance. At once a backbend and a balancing pose, natarajasana offers many ways to appreciate the journey of your body and mind. The best starting point for most people is using both hands on a strap with the foot lifted behind and away from the body. When you are comfortable there, you can let go of the strap and move into holding your foot with your hands. Eventually you can do the pose with the strap overhead. After that, you may be able to bring your foot and your hands together overhead. Let all of these progressions be part of the journey. Don’t rush or you’ll miss out on the experience.
By Myra Lewin
People often ask what kind of Yoga we practice and teach at Hale Pule. The answer is not as easy as the question appears. While there are certain ways we teach the practices here, what we most like to impart is that Yoga is much more than doing the practices the “right way.” Yoga is a direct path to the God within. The practices are how you connect with this universe inside. How you do the practices matters, but consistency in your approach is what matters most.
When students come here to study, they have usually worked with many different teachers and styles. For some students, what we teach aligns what they have learned into a central channel of wisdom that they use for their personal and professional benefit. For others, what we teach challenges everything they know.
What does it mean to be a hero? The word has become quite mixed up with ideas of war and domination. But heroic qualities, such as courage and strength, take a very different meaning when you look at them through the lens of Yoga.
Our minds pull us into battle all the time with people, institutions or things. But fighting with things outside of you is just a distraction from the real battle within. This is the timeless battle that was outlined in the Bhagavad Gita, one that asks us to put the mind and ego in their right size and place. Being heroic in a battle like this requires us to put down the weapons of our ego and embrace the unity between us and all other forms of life. It may sound easy, but this journey takes deep fortitude.
By Myra Lewin
A man came to stay with us at the urging of his wife, who is a regular guest. He was used to a diet of meat, spicy foods and alcohol and a busy lifestyle filled with things to do and see. After just a week of taking part in morning practices, meals of Ayurvedic food, and being surrounded by the natural world, he said with surprise that he felt 10 years younger.
The recovery that is possible through Ayurveda and Yoga is remarkable. As our guest found, making simple adjustments in what we eat, how we live and where we put our focus is enough to make a person find a new experience of being alive. Often times we do little more than remove what is getting in the way of health and inner peace. This allows us to use the senses wisely and start a journey to true health.
Each of us began in the womb -- a place where our senses were protected and our attention drawn inward. But when we were born, we entered a world with an onslaught of sensory experiences. There are billions of things to see, touch, taste, feel and hear. Most of them are not worth our attention.
Allowed to move unchecked, our senses pull us around, making us do things that are not always aligned to our greatest good. But when we bring our attention inside, withdrawing the senses (the Yogic practice called pratyahara), we learn to turn away from cravings and desires.