singing bowl

Mantras for Peace

Dear friends,
I offer you this introduction to Vedic chanting, a practice which has brought me much joy and peace, as well as inner strength.Yoga is a transformative practice, and if we are to succeed in finding our personal path to freedom, we have to find our own voice. In my experience, chanting mantra as part of your daily practice is a powerful way to do that.

Our main focus will be on learning ‘Sam No Mitra’ which is a universal peace mantra from the Vedas. Throughout this course you will also hear the opening and closing mantras, which are traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of each Vedic chanting practice. If time permits, we will practice these together as well.

Join me on Saturday afternoons, from 5:00 – 6:00pm, November 5 – December 17, 2016.

The course fee is $108, to be paid in full prior to the starting date. Book in the usual way, through Ezybook.

There will be no drop-ins to this course, as the sessions will be progressive.

I look forward to sharing the joys of chanting with you!

Namaste. Lynda x

Lotus for change

Negotiating Change

Being alive means constantly adapting to the changes in our internal and external worlds. Change can be a cause of suffering if it is forced upon us, or if we resist it. But when we choose to make a change, and observe ourselves in the process of transformation, we can learn a lot about our patterns, and the degree to which we are able to free ourselves from the ones that cause suffering for us.

Certain mantras (chants), and specific āsana, prānāyāma and meditation practices, can support us through the various stages of transformation. With the help of these tools we can begin to see the way we personally negotiate change, and how we could embrace it in a positive way, using the practices to help us let go of negative patterns, and establish new, healthy and helpful ones. In this way we can actively support our own evolution.

In recent weeks, we have been exploring the ways in which our practice can help us negotiate change. Some of you who attended the sessions have expressed an interest in continuing this theme in your personal practice, so I am offering you the following notes, which can be read alongside the practice notes you received at the end of each class.

The vyāhrtis – mantras for the seven levels of transformation (parināma).

The seven vyāhrtis are often chanted at the start of the Gayatri mantra, as they cleanse and prepare the chanter to receive the energy of this sun chant. Each vyāhrti is a complete mantra in and of itself, and can therefore be chanted in isolation, although traditionally they are chanted after the mantra OM (see below).

The seven vyāhrtis can be linked to the seven cakras, and like the cakras, each one indicates a step in the process of transformation, and a refinement of our self-awareness. They are also known as distinct realms, ranging from earth to heaven and beyond.

The first three vyāhrtis (om bhuh, om bhuvah and om suvah) are known as the maha-vyāhrtis. They represent the earth, water and fire elements. These three together can help us to set our intention. Through the earth element we link with our present reality, and discover what it is that we would like to transform. The water element reminds us that it is possible for us to move from our present situation, and the fire element gives us the clarity to see what we would like to manifest.

Once you have chosen an area or an aspect of your life in which you would like to make a change, set your intention for this transformation. Sum this intention up in a short, positive statement, so that you can easily connect with it throughout the practices. This is your samkalpa (pronounced sankalpa). Take it into your heart, and remind yourself of it each time you step onto your mat.

The mantras:

Om
A+U=O in Sanskrit, so AUM becomes OM. From O to M, the sound travels from the back of the throat to the lips, and fills the entire mouth with sound. The mantra contains all the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, which means it contains everything that could be expressed. Following OM there is always a short pause, to allow the sound to resonate.

Om bhuh
Earth element. The gross, physical plane. Relates to your current reality, that which you wish to transform. Implies heaviness, hard work.

Om bhuvah
Water element. The more subtle consciousness. Relates to that which is manifesting, a new reality you wish to create. The potential for change.

Ogm suvah
Fire element. Clarity, something coming into focus. A sense of lightness, and a step towards renewal.

Om mahah
Air element. Mahat refers to impressions from the past, old habits and behaviours, what we must release in order to embrace the new.

Om janah
Space element. Janah is a place of birth, where something new takes shape. A new aspect of you is manifesting.

Om tapah
Intelligence. Tapas is discipline. The effort required to nourish and sustain new patterns. Yukti is your special intelligence, based on all you have learned about yourself so far. Use your yukti to determine what discipline means for you.

Ogm satyam
Integration. A new reality is attained, no longer influenced by old patterns. This new truth becomes your bhuh, the place from which the next transformation can begin.

As you work with these mantras in your practice, it is important to remember that change is often messy and unpredictable. You may wish to stay with one mantra, and one practice for a while, until you feel ready to move on. For instance, it may take a number of weeks before your intention becomes clear, so you can repeat the first three levels several times. Then you may discover that a pattern that you have chosen to work with has deep roots, and letting go is not so easy! Just take your time, and trust yourself. This is an ongoing process, so there really is no hurry.

Enjoy your practice. Namaste.

Lynda x

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Witnessing Transformation

One of the great privileges of being a yoga teacher, is to witness transformation. In every class there is a shift – from distraction to attention, from separateness to unity, or from agitation to calm. One might observe this in a particular student, or in the group as whole, or in even in one’s self as a result of having held the group for the duration of the session.

Through yoga we have the capacity to reduce our suffering, and to realise our true potential. The practice allows us to see the ways in which we contribute to our physical, mental or emotional pain. But this awareness is just the beginning, and those who wish to let go of the habits that are holding them back must be prepared to take a long term approach. Sure, I have witnessed epiphanies, where a student suddenly becomes aware of an aspect of themselves that was previously hidden from view, but more often than not, personal transformation is a gradual process, built on many months or years of dedicated practice. This kind of change is not necessarily dramatic or exciting to observe, but as teacher, it is the kind that inspires me the most.

As a teacher of yoga, I am by definition also a student. The roles are not separate in my view, and from time to time, an opportunity comes along for us to come together as a community of learners. Recently, we were lucky to have such an opportunity in the form of a three day seminar on Prānāyāma (conscious breathing practices). ‘The Power of Yoga – Exploring Prānāyāma for Health & Vitality’, was presented by Kausthub Desikachar (principal teacher at the Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation – KHYF – in Chennai, India).

This seminar was well attended. I found myself in the company of a wide range of students, some of whom were relatively new to this form of classical yoga, while others were long-term practitioners, teachers or teacher trainees in the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya.

The teacher took us on a fascinating journey through the theory & practice of various Prānāyāma techniques. Classical yoga texts, such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali formed the foundation of all the teachings, and yet the material was presented in a way that made it accessible to all of us, and applicable in our modern context. Such experiential processes allow the knowledge to reach beyond the mind, into the body and the heart, allowing each student to retain it in a way that resonates with them. Even though the practices seemed relatively simple, the experience was profound. The layering of āsana, prānāyāma, mantra and meditation led to moments of deep internalisation for many, even within the context of this large and diverse group.

The knowledge imparted during the prānāyāma seminar was indeed profound, but what truly inspired me was the ongoing transformation I observed in the teacher himself. Kausthub’s teaching is heartfelt. He speaks freely about his difficulties, and shows humility in acknowledging his teachers and mentors for having guided him through some dark times. I observed a deepening of wisdom and spiritual connection in Kausthub that I attribute to his own ongoing practice.

What became clear to me at this seminar is that we are a indeed a sangha, a growing community of learners. The word lineage is often used in this classical yoga context, but I see it more as a web of support that connects us. Sometimes our role is to support others in their process, and at other times we lean into that web and find the support we need. In this web, none of us can see from every angle, so we rely on each other for clarity and perspective.

Whether we label ourselves as students or teachers of yoga, we grow because of our commitment to the practice, and because of our honest interactions with each other. It is a privilege to be in sangha. To witness transformation in others is to be reminded of the real possibility that we ourselves can overcome our limitations and grow to fulfill our true potential.

Namaste.

Lynda Miers-Henneveld.

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Exploring the Boundaries of the Breath

Marie Kiely is presenting a new 8-week yoga course, starting on May 10, 2016.
The course is entitled ‘Exploring the Boundaries of the Breath’.

“Breath (inhale) brings energy into our body and releases (exhale) toxins, stress and tension. Using the yoga tools of āsana, prānāyāma and nyāsa we will explore the breath and develop the possibilities of conscious breathing.” ~ Marie Kiely .

To book for this course, please visit our booking page. For additional information about the content of the course, please email marie.kiely@pepworldwide.commarie

Once Marie receives your booking, she will contact you to give you the payment details.

Investment – $120
Dates – Tuesdays, May 10 – June 28
Times – 6:30 – 7:45pm
Venue – freed-om-yoga studio, 180 Melbourne Rd, Island Bay, Wellington

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The Gift of Discipline

“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline”

~ Mortimer J. Adler

According to Patanjali, the ultimate goal of yoga is freedom from suffering. Through the lens of our sadhana (yoga practice) we see ourselves, and the ways in which we contribute to our duhkham (suffering). And through the ongoing practice, we reduce negative patterns and build inner strength to face the obstacles and challenges that inevitably arise.

The sage advice from the Yoga Sutras is that this process of creating self awareness should be gradual. If we work step by step towards our goal, we won’t lose heart along the way, because we won’t bite off more than we can chew. Great intentions alone do not create real change in any realm, and so it is with our sadhana. It is the sum of all our small, positive actions that creates real and lasting change, gradually reducing our duhkham and creating the habit of self care.

To help us develop and deepen our sadhana, Patanjali prescribes kriya yoga – the yoga of action. This three step process consists of tapas, svadhyaya and ishvarapranidhana.

Tapas has many meanings: taking action, discipline, heat, or purification. As you can see, it implies some intensity. The action it refers to is an action that helps you to see your patterns, and reduce the harmful ones. Tapas requires intention, so that the action is not random.

Following our actions, we reflect, and we gauge the impact of what we have done. That is the process of svadhyaya – self awareness, seeing the ripples. Svadhyaya helps us to determine the usefulness of what we are doing, and gives us the opportunity to refine our actions.

But no matter how hard we try, and no matter how earnestly we practice, there are things we cannot control. Some days we may struggle to focus, or the body just isn’t willing. On such days we simply have to do the best we can, be kind to ourselves and trust that our intention will be enough. Other times, when things just seem to flow, we might get caught up in feelings of pride and accomplishment. On these occasions, we have to bow to the energy that supports us, offering gratitude for our healthy body, our focused mind, and our access to the practice. This attitude of surrender is the third aspect of kriya yoga – ishvarapranidhana.

Kriya yoga is a valuable tool in our personal sadhana. It reminds us to move at a pace that is conducive to ‘seeing’ ourselves in action. As a feedback loop these three aspects teach us that when we pause to notice the effects of our actions, we will find clarity, and form an understanding of the things we can and can’t control. This understanding informs our future actions. The cycle continues, and gradually takes us deeper into our inner terrain.

The yoga sutras form a road map to guide us on our yoga journey. The ultimate destination is freedom from suffering. Kriya yoga helps us to explore the landscape, and step forward each day with awareness.

Namaste.

~ Lynda Miers-Henneveld

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Give a little – freedom on the inside

A wonderful opportunity has arisen for us to share the gifts of yoga with a group of people who might not normally have access to this life affirming practice. My friend and colleague, Adhyatma, has been teaching yoga to inmates at Rimutaka prison for quite some time. Along with several other generous teachers, she has been helping prisoners to discover a sense of connection and belonging through regular yoga classes. The feedback from the people who have attended the classes is wonderful! The insights they receive as a result of their practice gives them access to wholeness, and inner strength. Many of them go on to do their own practice, and some even teach what they learn to other inmates.

YEPT

 

A campaign is underway to raise funds for Yoga Education in Prisons. By donating to this Give-a-little cause, you can help to fund more classes, and to give much needed support to a group of teachers who do this work because they believe that yoga is for everyone. Many of the teachers have done this work voluntarily, without income, paying for their own transport costs.

 

The video on the Give-a-little page is great to watch. https://givealittle.co.nz/project/yogainprisons  It will give some insights into the benefits of the programme. If you are moved to donate, please make your own pledge there. Freed-om-yoga will be donating all your class fees for the week, and there is a jar in the lobby for those who would like to donate in the old fashioned way!

I hope you can give a little to this worthy cause.

Namaste.

Lynda.