Tuesday, 22 April 2014

OM - "The Power of Karma"

I'm teaching a 5-day asana intensive in Haus Yoga Vidya: 5 hours a day of asana teaching and the rest of the day I'm free to read, walk in the forest and do my own practice. I've been reading an interesting book that explains "karma" in simple everyday terms: "The Power of Karma" by Mary T. Browne.

One of Mary's astute observations, that I've been using for journalling: "Gratitude is the first rule of spiritual development".

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Loving greetings from Westerwald - Germany's Western Forest
Today at the "graduation" of 59 advanced yoga teachers I told the following story that I'd like to share:

Three students, upon completing their studies went to sit with their teacher for one final teaching before they left the ashram. They asked him to tell them how to continue their studies and yoga practice while living in the world.

The teacher responded by simply saying the Sanskrit letter “da”, then he asked: “Do you understand?” 

“Yes" said the first student "Da" stands for 'damyata'. You want us to live life of self-control.”

The second student interjected, "do you mean 'datta' (give)? Are you telling us to be generous and to take joy in sharing?"
The third student suggested, "perhaps you mean daya (compassion)".

"Yes", said the teacher, "you all understand the teachings".

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Siva - Shakti -Matsyendra

Siva and Parvati, who embody Universal Consciousness and Infinite Energy, are said to live on Mount Kailas in western Tibet. The story goes that one lovely warm summer day, when the sun was shining and they had a respite from the snows of the long winter, they decided to go on a picnic.
They sat in a peaceful grove of trees, with a small stream running through it. After lunch, Siva started to tell Parvati about the discoveries he had been making in understanding the great mystery that lies behind the apparent reality of world. He had found that the energies within each person, the microcosm, correspond to those of the Universe, the macrocosm – and he had devised techniques for unleashing the dormant potential, which he called “yoga”.
Siva was very excited; he talked on and on for hours. Parvati couldn’t get a word in, other than to shake her head and mutter “I know”. It being a hot afternoon, after a while, Parvati became bored and fell asleep.
Although he was disappointed that his number one student was not paying attention, Siva realised that he had been telling the “secrets” of the universe to the Cosmic Mother Herself. He had been describing the Infinite Powers within the created universe to the power who had created it. He had been explaining how to raise the dormant potential to the Kundalini Shakti herself.
But, Siva had another, more attentive, student. He noticed that in the nearby stream, a fish (matsya) had his head up and was listening intently. When turned into a human being, this “lord” of fishes (matsyendra) became the first practitioner of yoga. Known as Masyendranath, he is credited as being the first in the lineage of hatha yoga gurus, who have handed down their teachings to present day yoga practitioners.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Applying the Chakras

OM - The College of Psychic Studies in South Kensington has named me as their "Consultant of the week". I'm going to be teaching a series of daytime "Applying the Chakras" Workshops in their summer school in August. They will take place 10.30-1.30 on Tues, 21 Aug and Thurs, 23 Aug - also on Tues, 28 Aug and Thurs, 30 Aug - to book: http://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/events/workshops/august.html

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


For me, the new year began with a determined effort to engage in an intensive study of the spiritual teachings of yoga. If you feel that you are ready to take the next step in your inner work, please join me. I will be posting exerpts from my series of talks. And you may feel inspired to take my e-course: www.flyingmountainyoga.org/text/e-course.shtml

"From self-study, you are able to connect with higher Truths".
- Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.44

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Forms are many but ....

There is a story about four blind people who wanted to ‘see’ an elephant. (In some versions of the story, it is five people, in other versions, it is six). When the circus came to town, they got special permission from the animal trainer to experience the animal first hand.

The first person touched the side of the elephant and said “I am so happy; all my doubts are cleared. I can see that an elephant is like a brick wall”. The second, who touched the trunk, replied: “How can you say that? I can see from my own direct personal experience that an elephant is like a big snake.” The third person, at the tail, argued that an elephant resembled a piece of rope – while the person near the leg likened the animal to a pillar.

Then those four people began to argue. Each person was convinced that he was right because each was speaking from direct personal experience… and, in a way, he was right. Yet each person was wrong because of limited perception.

When it comes to relating to the Absolute, God, Ultimate Reality (whatever term you prefer to use), we are all like blind people. It is not possible to “put” the concept of the Infinite into your finite mind – we can only comprehend a part. Yet, we can use this comprehension to gain a deeper connection to the Whole.

Traditionally in India, each person has been taught to see God as his /her own Self. But understanding Indian cosmology, mythology and philosophy can be difficult for many Westerners. They seem to be full of contradictions and paradoxes. Indian philosophy and imagery do not easily translate into western terms. For example, don’t try to understand Durga by equating Her warlike attitude and calling Her the ‘Indian Athena’. To understand the Indian attitude towards feminine principle, you must develop an entirely new mindset. And I deeply believe that this understanding will bring added inspiration to your ongoing yoga practice – in whatever tradition you choose to follow.

Hence begins my storytelling (and analysis) this evening ...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Sivaratri in Uttarkashi, Himalyas


This year, I had the blessing to celebrate Sivaratri (the holy night of Siva) in Uttarkashi, high in the Himalayas. Traditionally, this auspicious night is is marked by four pujas that span from dusk to dawn. I participated in the ones at Sivananda Ashram, Uttarkashi.Swami Gambiranandaji (successor of Swami Chaitanyanandaji), as head of the ashram, suggested that all participants make the sankalpa (spiritual intention) of "Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu" - May the whole world be happy and peaceful.

The Sivalingam was worshipped with milk, curds (yogourt), ghee and honey. Bathing was done with pure Ganges water, as we were sitting on the bank of the Ganga Herself.

One interesting thing that I've noticed about Sivaratri is that it always comes the same week as the Christian holy day of Ash Wednesday. Siva is said to dance in the cremation ground - and is covered with ashes. I have also noticed that this particular dark night of the moon, in the Indian tradition, is the new moon that preceeds the full moon of Holi (the beginning of Spring).

Holi is usually seen to celebrate the play of Krishna with Radha and other gopis. However, in South India both Sivaratri and Holi are sometimes connected to the story of Siva and Kāmadeva.

Kāmadeva was deputed by the gods to aid Pārvatī in her attempts to marry Siva. Their union was of utmost importance, as only their son could defeat the demon Taraka, who was terrorizing the world. However, drawing Siva out of his meditation was no simple task; the god was too deeply immersed in it to notice Pārvatī. So the gods sent Kama to stimulate Siva's lust and disrupt his practice.

When Kāma shot his arrows-of-desire at Siva, the ploy backfired with severe consequences. Angered by the distraction, Siva opened his dreadful third eye and reduced Kāma to a pile of ash with a fiery glance. The annihilation of Kāma left the earth barren and infertile.

Eventually, the marriage of Siva and Pārvatī took place. They conceived the child Kartikeya (Subramanya), who defeated the demon Taraka and saved the world.

then, at the behest of Kāma's lamenting wife Rati (Spring), Siva resurected Kāma from the ashes. He brought him back to life not as a physical being but as a bodyless mental concept.