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Yoga for EVERY Body.

Upcoming Events

 

Be a Student of Your Body - Student Workshop Series

with Sandy Gross

Sat, January 19th Noon to 5pm

Study Yoga Mentoring Group

with Swami Atmarupa & Sandy Gross
 2/8, 2/10

Restorative Yoga : Opening to Healing Energy 

with Deb Smith
Friday, Feb. 15th 5:30 to 7:30pm

Forgiveness & Salutations : Lifestyle Yama & Niyama

with Swami Atmarupa
Sat. March 2nd 2:00 to 4:00 pm

 

 

Fine-Tuning Your Practice
A New Blog from Swami Atmarupa

Digital Downloads
Recordings of Guided Yoga Practices and More!



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Atmarupa

BEGIN AGAIN!

Our theme for January 2016 is “Begin Again.”  It may seem like a simple thing to do at the beginning of a new year, but trying to truly incorporate it into one’s life is not so simple.  How easy do you find it to let go of the past and begin again?

We make resolutions at the beginning of the year.  This year I will lose weight.  This year I will exercise daily.  This year I will refrain from getting angry.  This year I will……fill in the blank!  But as soon as we don’t quite manage to do what we say we are going to do, the negative self-talk starts.  We get stuck in self-doubt and resistance to moving forward arises.  This subconscious resistance consumes a lot of energy and with time we can no longer muster the will to try.

It’s time we look at our goals and start with small steps.  Take each new day as a fresh opportunity to step forward.  Today I will make healthy choices in my food.  Today I will park further from the entrance, or this week I will take 2 yoga classes instead of 1.  Today I will work on happiness and if I begin to get irritated, I will look for the anger that is being triggered inside me and own it as mine and not the result of something outside of me. 

Today I will take the opportunity to truly put the past where it belongs and begin again.  And if I fail, I will begin again tomorrow.


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Kundalini and the Chakras

by Swami Satyadharma Saraswati

In tantra and in yoga, Shiva and Shakti are considered to be the original principles, or causes, behind all existence, both manifest and unmanifest. Shiva is the supreme consciousness and Shakti the universal energy. These two principles co-exist eternally in the unchanging, unmanifest state. Neither can ever be depleted or exhausted, as they are both total and complete forever in themselves. So then, how did the creation come about? How did finite beings come into the picture? By a third agent called the Kundalini, who acts on behalf of Shiva and Shakti, as the universal creative force. In this sense, Kundalini is the Mother and the original creator, who brings forth the entire manifest creation from the unmanifest existence.

One may well ask, but how does she do this? How does the cosmic energy, which has no limitation, ideation, shape or form, transform itself into the multitude of galaxies, stars, planets, and beings, which comprise the creation? Let us take a closer look at this question, using ourselves as a model for the concept of creation, because we too are a product or progeny of the fabulous Kundalini force. For each level of existence and evolution, the process of transformation varies. However, in human beings, this process can be understood through the catalyst of the chakras, the psychic energy centers, which are situated in different regions alongside the spinal column. 

Kundalini, being appointed by Shakti for the purpose of creation, is also an aspect of Her eternal, cosmic force. For creation to take place, this subtle, infinite energy has to be confined and transformed into grosser levels, which can then become manifest. In our case, the Kundalini first manifests herself into the chakras, and this is the beginning of our individual being. Through the intermediary of the chakras, she makes the transition from pure spirit energy to psychic energy. Let us look at her journey through the chakras, for it is also our journey into creation; it is how we came into existence, how we came about.

So, in relation to you and me, Kundalini makes her first stop at the sahasrara chakra, the crown center. Here she stores the pure energy of consciousness. This is our highest individual consciousness, which remains unaltered throughout our life, as it is never associated with the physical identity. Her next stop is at bindu, the point at the top back of the head. Here she makes an entry into the manifest dimension. Bindu is not an active center, so to speak, but simply the point of entry into, and also the point of exit out of, the material dimension. Sahasrara and bindu are spiritual centers and have no physiological correlations. Together they form a bridge between the two worlds, the spiritual and the material, the unmanifest and the manifest.

From bindu, the Kundalini travels downward and deposits herself at ajna chakra, located at the mid-brain, at the top of the spinal cord. Here her energy is transformed into the individual mind and consciousness. Now, a vehicle for the mind and consciousness is needed, so the Kundalini resumes her journey to vishuddhi chakra, where she transforms and deposits herself as the energy of space, because the body must have a space in which to exist. From vishuddhi, she travels on to deposit herself at anahata chakra, behind the heart, where her energy is transmuted into the element of air. 

From anahata, she continues on to manipura chakra, behind the navel, where she transforms herself into the energy of fire. From manipura, she travels on to swadhishthana chakra, behind the pubic area, at the tailbone, where she deposits herself in the form of water. Finally, she descends to mooladhara, the root chakra at the pelvic floor, where she transforms herself into the energy of earth, and comes to rest. Having transmuted her unmanifest energy into the five manifest elements, which then combine and permutate into our physical form, she settles herself into the earth, which is the meaning of her name, kund - a deeper place, and remains there for as long as we live in the body.

This concept of the Kundalini and the chakras is the gift of yoga to the world, to help us understand our real nature and the source of our existence. Yoga not only offers this unique explanation of our creation, but also the practices, which allow us to attune with the subtle dimension of our existence. All the yogas evolved originally to help us realize our true nature. Practices such as asanas, pranayama, yoga nidra, and meditation gradually lead us into an experience of our inner being, which is ruled by the chakras, and their evolutes, the mind and the prana. For those practitioners who wish to take the express highway, there are specific practices, which can be performed in order to have a direct experience of the kundalini and the chakras.

These are the advanced practices, which belong to the body of kundalini yoga, and were originally undertaken by yogis as a deeper and more dedicated form of sadhana. The practices of kriya yoga, for example, directly align the chakras and awaken the kundalini. The practices of chakra shuddhi are a preparation for kriya yoga and other higher yogas. They purify, rebalance and open the chakras, which has a positive influence on all the organs and systems of the body. Visualization of the chakra diagrams with repetition of their mantras helps to stabilize and awaken these energies. Initially the practices of kundalini yoga should be learned and performed in the yoga ashram, where the atmosphere and lifestyle are conducive to the awakening of the subtle, creative forces.

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BE THE TRUE YOU!

ATMA
Over the years I have walked into many settings as the “yoga teacher” to find faces looking at me questioningly. I’ve even had students approach me and ask, “Do you know the teacher for this class?” The assumption is that someone who is obese can’t possibly be a yoga teacher! There was a time when I believed that to be true as well. I practiced yoga, but to teach it? Who would take classes from a fat person?

My attitude about this shifted when I was first initiated in 1995 by my guru and given the spiritual name Atmarupa. It was explained to me that my name means “to take the beautiful form of the true self.” It doesn’t mean the exterior self. My name means I must see my eternal, beautiful, pure nature within. And to do that a serious practice of self-acceptance - the acceptance of that exterior self began.

Now, 20 years later I have not only found peace with my body, but feel grateful for it. It has inspired others to try yoga that may not have if I, the teacher, didn’t look the way I do. It carries me through my yogic journey and forces me to look deep inside to see that beautiful form of my true self. And when I can see that Self, I know who I truly am.

Hugs and Oms,
Atmarupa

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Atmadarshan

India 2014: The Material and the Spiritual

The Material and the Spiritual

We have just returned from Agra, where we saw two amazing pieces of architecture - the Red Fort of Agra and the Taj Mahal. These two edifices are linked through history but also by the fact that they are testaments to the material ingenuity of humankind. The Taj took 22 years and 20,000 people to build, according to our guide, but the more impressive fact is that it all of the precise joining, carving and inlay was done without the help of any modern technologies. The designers even took the time to include clever optical illusions - the script at the top of the Taj's arches looks to be the same size as the script near the bottom, although it is such a distance away from the viewer at the base that it should look much smaller as one gazes upward. What intelligence and foresight it took to include this trick!

Now the journey continues to a place of equal intelligence and foresight - the yoga ashram. Here the emphasis is not on developing impressive material structures without, but unmatched spiritual growth within. The techniques we will be experiencing have been passed down for centuries because they create beautiful, durable human beings. What insight the ancient yogis had to develop techniques that produce calmness, joy and wisdom, no matter the age, culture or educational level of the student.

When we return, we look forward to sharing with you not only our photographs of outer perfection but the results of our inner work, as well. Until then, may you all enjoy both the material and the inner wealth of the holiday season.

 

Best & oms,

Atmadarshan






<Previously on India 2014...>

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Atmadarshan

India 2014: Hari Om from Delhi!

Hari Om from Delhi!

Members of our group are arriving safe and sound. Most of our group started traveling on Tuesday and arrive here on Thanksgiving Day. We are taking the opportunity to refresh ourselves with great vegetarian food and with a long sleep. In just a few hours we board a private bus for a trip to one of the most magnificent architectural sites in the world -  the Taj Mahal.

I have had the privilege of seeing the Taj twice now and am eager to see it again. The time of day makes such of a difference for the experience. My first time, our group visited at sunrise, and the reddish-orange light on the white marble was breath-taking. The peace and quiet of the new dawn hours gave us plenty of time to linger in the silence of the inner chamber, experiencing the incredible acoustics and energy of the place.

The second time, just a few years ago, we visited during the day, when a bluebird sky framed the main structure and all of its towers brilliantly.  The crowds made our time in the Taj much shorter and more hurried, but the people- and squirrel-watching opportunities made up for that.

Each time I have visited, I have learned something more about the stories behind the Taj's construction - both inspiring and saddening - and the culture that produced such an impressive piece of art. I am certain I will have that same experience again. We look forward to sharing our journey with you!

 

Best & Oms,

Atmadarshan


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The Holidays Are Upon Us....

It comes every year. Preceded by almost two months of Hallmark movies, often portrayed as a happy gathering of everyone from the distant corners of the globe in which they reside. We love to think of the holidays as a special time. But as the songs play out, the wind gets bitterer, and the cheery-ness grows overwhelming, we find ourselves looking towards the New Year end of the tunnel.

Don't get me wrong. It truly is a wonderful time of the year... but it is exhausting and stressful as well. Those stresses come in many forms: in-laws, the ever-present consumerism, weather, the overeating, Uncle Luke's tireless "stories" of how he backpacked through the Swiss Alps with nothing on but yoga pants and flip-flops riding a yak that he befriended after beating off the mountain goats bullying said yak...

Here at the Atma Center, we understand. We also share your frustrations and stresses and we wish to relieve you of them! Our Satyananda Yoga Nidra® classes introduce techniques to help overcome the obstacles of the body and achieve calmness of mind. Through guided meditation, you will discover how to silence your mind and create stillness in your body. After just one class you can feel the effects take hold; allowing you to find peace inside of the "storm" known as the holidays. Offered on Mondays and Thursdays, this class led by Gita will teach you how to reconnect with the spirit of the season.

Another unforgotten aspect of holiday stress is dealing with the pounds upon pounds of food that we consume. We pack on extra weight and end up making New Year’s resolutions to get rid of it. The overeating coupled with Jack Frost keeping us inside throws off our digestive process. The Atma Center is offering a workshop to deal with just that... your digestive fire. Omkar will show you how the nervous system and immune system are related to the digestive system, and why that matters for optimizing your digestive health. She will also show you how to safely exercise the abdominal area and improve food absorption, increase your energy and boost your immunity; through breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques! This workshop will be held on Saturday, December 13th, from 2:00 - 4:00PM.


Join us here at the Atma Center, and let us show you how to change your life through a holistic approach. The Atma Center, yoga for everyBODY.


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““The yogi who is satisfied with the knowledge and wisdom of the SELF, who has conquered the senses, and to whom a clod of earth, a piece of stone and gold are the same, is said to be harmonized””

Swami Sivananda’s translation and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita

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How Satyananda Yoga® supports Breast Health - by Omkar

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. While many pink ribbon campaigns are at the forefront this month, it is important to think about the daily or weekly ways that we women can support the health of our breasts. One great system for that support is yoga.

The thought of yoga for the breasts might seem strange at first. Indeed, imagining special postures with or for the breasts could lead to some funny images. However, the breasts are an integral part of the female body and since yoga is a holistic practice, the breast should also be taken into account – not only during National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Anatomically, the breasts are made of a variety of tissues, including muscle, fat, glands, ducts, circulatory and lymphatic structures. Blood circulates through the breasts thanks to the pumping action of the heart, but lymph circulation depends on the movements of our limbs as the lymphatic system has no independent pump structure.

One way in which SATYANANDA YOGA® serves breast health is through the first Pawanmuktasana (PMAs) series. Whenever we do any full joint movement, we actively stimulate lymphatic circulation. Working with the joints closest to the breasts - the shoulders (shoulder rotations) and neck (all four of the neck PMAs) - is especially beneficial to circulate lymph in the breast tissue. The armpits and neck hold the largest concentration of lymph nodes, specialized glands which play a key role in the immune system, producing immune-boosting lymphocytes and serving as filters. Increasing the blood and lymphatic circulation in their vicinity supports their important role.

Besides the mechanical aspects of lymphatic flow, there is also an important hormonal component to breast health addressed through Satayananda Yoga Nidra®. This practice of deep relaxation balances the activity of the pituitary and pineal glands, which are key endocrine glands located in the brain. They control the activity of other glands, including the thyroid and ovaries, which in turn influence the hormonal processes of the breasts.

These are only two of many aspects of how yoga, and Satayananda Yoga in particular, promotes greater breast health. There are many more, including other asana (postures), pranayama (breathing practices) and meditations that are important for the holistic health of the female body. Join the Oct 25th workshop on Yoga for Breast Health, led by Omkar, to learn the details of these practices. While yoga might not cure breast disease, it can serve as a fantastic support for holistic breast health – in October and always.

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“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection.”

The Bhagavad Gita

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Current Class Themes



Yoga for Healthy Aging
 (Tuesdays & Fridays with Mantram): The BEST of Yoga for Healthy Aging

Managing the Mind (Tuesdays with Atmadarshan): Science of Mudras for Mind Management

Restorative Yoga (Wednesdays with Jyoti): Self-Compassion

Foundation C (Thursdays with Atmadarshan): Higher Practices of Yoga

Yoga for Anxiety (Saturdays with Atmarupa): A Holistic Approach to Yoga for Anxiety

Prenatal Yoga (Saturdays with Atmarupa): Nurturing Yourself

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