Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Vivekan’s Weekly Bit: Hell on Earth!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
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Vivekan

This is a weekly post from Bodhisattva Yoga’s founder/director offering weekly bits of research findings, suggestions, and musings on all things directly & indirectly related to the broad Path of Yoga.

It’s another day with your family and friends with the usual banter that keeps everyone entertained. All of a sudden, aggressive movements, noises and sights send all of you into a dizzying, horrifying state with everyone trying to go into different directions…Just to realize that you’re all trapped and being corralled into an increasingly fearful setting. In whatever capacity you have, you exclaim, “What the hell is going on!?” – because it sounds, looks and feels like hell.

Suddenly these demonic-looking creatures, that maybe have a bit more intelligence but a whole lot more cunning and ruthlessness, begin to descend upon you and your loved ones. They are mercilessly spearing the adults among your kin for food; and greedily kidnapping your beloved children to showcase them in artificial environs to be jeered at and treated condescendingly.

Dolphin slaughter

Japanese fishermen slaughtering dolphins at Taiji Cove

If your child survives this holocaust, they’re relegated to a life of confusion, misunderstanding and abject depression. Finding themselves penned in cramped quarters they’re endlessly pointed at, or worse yet, thoughtlessly poked and prodded by the same race of monsters that ruined your family’s life.

The recollection of the horrors of their capture, compounded by your child’s realization of their enslavement, often amounts to the lonely and traumatized one committing suicide.

This is not fiction! This terrible account is taking place all too regularly with dolphins. Us humans better check ourselves, before we wreck ourselves. Please do everything you can to end the holocausts of today! Sign petitions, inform your friends and avoid supporting hotels, resorts and aquariums that take part in this vile trade. For Bodhisattvas look out not just for humans, but all beings – let alone, intelligent beings with no recourse.

Motivated,
Vivekan

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Vivekan’s Weekly Bit: Yoga is not Hinduism

Saturday, December 15th, 2012
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Vivekan

This is a weekly post from Bodhisattva Yoga’s founder/co-director offering weekly bits of research findings, suggestions, and musings on all things directly & indirectly related to the broad Path of Yoga.

The recent fear-mongering argument that yoga is religious indoctrination is absurd and has no basis in reality. Yoga can be as secular, religious or spiritual (spirituality is not the same as religiosity) as you’d like it to be. (Off the top of my head: 90% or more of the “yoga” found today in the US is completely secular; about 7% present a “spiritual” theme (e.g., Bodhisattva Yoga); and, maybe 3% at most have a religious tone to them – commonly an off-shoot of Hinduism or Sikhism. See my point on this below.)
This discussion merits a bigger forum, but I’ll try to be succinct. Strictly, yoga is a series of systematized physical, respiratory &/or mental practices geared to calm and concentrate the mind while benefiting the body. What you do with that concentrated mind is up to you.
Historically, orthodox Hinduism frowned upon the system of practices known today as classical yoga, which was chiefly practiced by those who questioned the mores of a stratified society and its religious exclusivity. Hinduism, despite being one of world’s great religions, rich with tradition, with many pearls of wisdom to offer (drawn from the Vedas) had (has) a caste system based on birth. It had a segment of society worthy of being intermediaries bridging aspects of the Divine with ordinary beings through rites, observances, prayers, etc. – these being Brahmins, the priestly and highest caste. Conversely, at the extreme other end of Hindu society there were those regarded as being so low that they did not even merit hearing of the spiritual teachings, they were the untouchables.
Fortunately, a period came (at least, +/- 700 years B.C.E.) whereby keen thinkers, of all castes, sought the Divine experience for themselves without the need of intermediaries – and what were often perceived as their hollow rituals. (See Karen Armstrong’s book, “Buddha”.) It is in this period that free-thinking, radical, norm-breaking mavericks began questioning Hindu orthodoxy and its social stratification, and began systematizing yogic practices enabling the sincere adept with the ability to experience the Divine directly (inspiring the Upanishads, etc.). No matter what caste one was born into!
These yogic disciplines and the adepts capable of instructing them were all but lost from India until the mid-19th through early-20th centuries, when yoga began to enjoy a renewed interest in the Asian sub-continent. (Many Hindus were ready to embrace a source of its nation’s pride that England didn’t produce.) Coincidentally, this renaissance of yoga was being led and transmitted by charismatic individuals that happened to be Hindu (e.g., Krishnamacarya and his disciples, Pattabhi Jois, Iyengar, etc.)
It is via this connection that yoga today has been misconstrued as being Hindu in origin. (As many Evangelicals are attempting to claim in order to scare Americans from yoga. This belief is further fueled by a contingent of contemporary Hindus asserting that yoga is the exclusive domain of and originated strictly from Hinduism.)
So, it’s up to you. Do you want strictly secular yoga; or, do you want yoga that inspires the spirit; or, do you want to use yoga as part of your religion? My development of Bodhisattva Yoga is geared to not only benefit the body but to also enrich the spirit. Join me

In health,
Vivekan :)

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Vivekan’s Weekly Bit: Give to Yourself this Holiday Season

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
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Vivekan

This is a weekly post from Bodhisattva Yoga’s founder/co-director offering weekly bits of research findings, suggestions, and musings on all things directly & indirectly related to the broad Path of Yoga.

The holiday season is a great time to see just how well we manage stress. For many, this is the busiest time of the year, and therefore the most stressful.

In the line of work that I do (i.e., running, and teaching at, my studio Bodhisattva Yoga; guiding others on their journey to physical, emotional and mental wellness), I sadly encounter – all too often – comments like: “I’m too busy. I’ll get back to my practice of yoga, meditation and/or the improvement of my diet after the New Year.”

This is a mistake! …And, there are numerous reasons why this line of thinking is erroneous (e.g., perpetually putting things off, wrongly thinking we’ll have time later). I will share here a few poignant ones that we all can share:

  1. After 30 years of age, we no longer have the luxury to let the body become detrained. A week, let alone, the almost two months between Thanksgiving and the New Year, is way too long to go without our physical practice regime, e.g., yoga. Unskillfully returning to the practice after such a protracted period increases the risk of over-training and/or strain.
  2. Typical adult Americans put on about 5-pounds of fat every holiday season, due to being too busy to fit in their exercises; however, we are almost never too busy to eat unscrupulously. Compounding this reality is the fact that those +/- 5-pounds of extra weight are very difficult to lose and never leave us feeling good about ourselves.
  3. “Cancer and stress go hand-in-hand, and high stress levels can lead to poorer health outcomes in cancer patients.” Recent studies on art therapy and its integration with mindfulness practices “have shown to reduce anxiety, depression and psychological distress in a variety of populations. These have been associated with improved immune function, quality of life and coping effectiveness in women with breast cancer.”

Keeping the above in mind, it also helps to remember that the best way to give to others is to first know how to give to yourself this holiday season. Bodhisattva Yoga‘s creative, mindfulness-based flows is a wonderfully effective way to give to ourselves and thereby maintain health as we manage stress. When we are less stressed we are happier and make better company to keep, which is the best form of giving (Dhana).

Join me in maintaining our practices with great vigor (Virya) throughout this hectic time of year; because life doesn’t begin in the New Year, it’s taking place now.

In health,
Vivekan

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Vivekan’s Weekly Bit: Yoga Equals Health

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
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Vivekan

This is a weekly post from Bodhisattva Yoga’s founder/co-director offering weekly bits of research findings, suggestions, and musings on all things directly & indirectly related to the broad Path of Yoga.

Inactivity, in regard to physical exercise, is at too high a level in today’s modern world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are even less likely than men to meet federal guidelines of physical activity per week. Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., director of the University Alabama at Birmingham Center for Exercise Medicine, states:

Inactive adults have a higher risk for early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers. For women, increasing research is showing exercise may help reduce breast cancer risk.

In addition to lowering breast cancer rates, regular exercise along with a balanced diet, also maintains shape in reducing abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is the most dangerous on the body’s systems’ ability to function optimally.

 

Vivekan

Vivekan in mayurasana, peacock pose

Retta Evans, Ph.D., UAB associate professor of health education asserts that even better than swimming, in meeting varied fitness criteria, is yoga. She explains:

Yoga helps to maintain your muscularity and that helps with maintaining your posture. It also helps in stretching all of the muscle groups, front and back. Yoga is another great weight-bearing activity as well. Whether exercising is a means to feeling healthy or looking healthy…the most important thing is to stick with it.

So yes, you had some idea of yoga’s benefits, but now you have an even better appreciation of how it exceeds even swimming, and it brings in many other fitness markers into one body of practice. This is precisely why I developed Bodhisattva Yoga, to be a one-stop mind and body system of self-improvement. Join me in not letting life’s busy-ness get in the way of our practice and our enjoyment of health – the greatest treasure and blessing.

In health,
Vivekan :)

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Vivekan’s Weekly Post: Happiness is Key to Long Life

Thursday, October 25th, 2012
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Vivekan

This is a weekly post from Bodhisattva Yoga’s founder/co-director offering weekly bits of research findings, suggestions, and musings on all things directly & indirectly related to the broad Path of Yoga.

Would you like to increase the odds of living a longer, healthier life? Me too! That’s why I became really interested when I read a recent BBC article on the relationship between living longer and the enjoyment of life.

Researchers from University College London sampled 10,000 of our English friends to see if “future disability and poor health could be predicted by the state of a person’s mind.” The people studied were between the ages of 50 to 100, and were tracked over the course of nine years – 2002 through 2011.

Those participating in the study were interviewed, by way of three different measures of mental wellbeing, over the nine years to test their enjoyment of life. The findings? (This really affirmed my repeating Chekawa’s line: “Always keep a happy mind.”)

According to the researchers:

The difference between those who enjoyed life the most and those who enjoyed life the least was marked, with nearly three times more people dying in the lower than greater enjoyment group.

happy_face_

Have fun juggling life!

The investigation, part of the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, found that those who remained socially and physically active, and enjoyed life the most had just under a 10% death rate after nine years. In contrast, those who enjoyed life the least suffered an almost 30% mortality rate over the same time period. (Wow!)

Professor Steptoe, who led the study, gave some good insights:

- People who are happy are the kind who take care of themselves and are therefore quite healthy.

- People of a happy disposition were less stressed.

- Environmental factors, such as strong social networks, could be at play.

- The wealthier over-50s were half as likely to become socially isolated than the least wealthy.

I systematized Bodhisattva YogaTM to at once provide: the activity adults need to stay fit and manage stress; the philosophy to increase happiness; and, the community of practitioners you can stay networked with. So, join me in increasing our capacity to enjoy life, and thereby savor longer, healthier existences.

In health,
Vivekan

Vivekan’s Weekly Bit: Feel Good, Eat Fruits & Veggies

Friday, October 12th, 2012
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Vivekan

This is a weekly post from Bodhisattva Yoga’s founder/co-director offering weekly bits of research findings, suggestions, and musings on all things directly & indirectly related to the broad Path of Yoga.

From a young age, I have sought ways to help people be happier, and to help them enjoy greater wellbeing. So, I became a Bodhisattva to endeavor to this end. I later systemized Bodhisattva Yogatm to more effectively help people on their journey of developing better mental and physical health. But yesterday, I stumbled upon a science article summarizing the findings of Economists and public health researchers from the University of Warwick, Britain; and alas, I realize I’ve been going about helping others the wrong way! What have I been doing wrong?

It seems that I have not been successfully getting my people to eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s right, from a study pool of 80,000 good folk of Britannia, the researchers learned that happiness and mental health were highest among those who consumed 7 or more fruits and vegetables a day.

“Study co-author Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, Professor of Public Health at Warwick Medical School said, ‘The statistical power of fruit and vegetables was a surprise. Diet has traditionally been ignored by well-being researchers.’” The findings demonstrated that wellbeing peaked at 7 portions a day.

According to the study, only 10% of the British populace eats this amount of fruits and vegetables. Fellow co-author, economist Professor Andrew Oswald stated, “This study has shown surprising results and I have decided it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery.”

So join me in staying cheery by increasing our daily fruit and vegetable intake! …While at it don’t leave out your practice at Bodhisattva Yoga! Together, fruits & veggies, and Bodhisattva Yoga, will take you even beyond mental and physical health to states of increased happiness and personal development.

In health,
Vivekan :)

Portrait of a Bodhisattva Yogin: Lucy Kalantari

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
LucyKalantari pic
Lucy Kalantari
This Bodhisattva Yoga Blog series spotlights our rock star body of practitioners, for whom we are proud. The series is intended to inspire, thought-provoke and nurture the growing, friendly Bodhisattva Yoga community. When you see a featured Bodhisattva Yogin in class, say hello!
This month’s profiled BY rock star practitioner, Lucy, originally worked with me (Vivekan) over 10-years ago, when I was still teaching in gyms. Even then, she showed an aptitude to do well as a practitioner. Fortunately, although my development of the Bodhisattva YogaTM system was at its infancy, Lucy recalled some good instruction qualities of mine and sought me out, thus starting her work at Bodhisattva Yoga two years ago.
Lucy is a genuine BY rock star. Not only has she attended multiple yoga retreats with me, she has participated in our workshops, and has even gained invitation into the Sati (Advanced invitation-only) class; and, she is a talented and engaging musician songwriter.
Now, Lucy’s pregnant. She’s so interested in her practice she has even scheduled several privates with Jess to personally learn modifications necessary to incorporate in a class setting, etc. As a result she is still rockin’ her practice; and, most importantly, she’s mindful to work at her edge. Lastly, she is another example of why BY’s practitioners are so cool – she is friendly and genuine. Keep up the great work, Lucy!
Let’s give it up for Lucy! Whether or not you’ve met the friendly, consistent aspiring yogini yet, give her a shout the next time you see her in class.
1. Bodhisattva Yoga: What is your age? Your profession and other life interests?
Lucy Kalantari: I’m 36 and am a singer, songwriter & producer. Other interests include swimming, reading comic books, vampires and other nerdy sci-fi things.
2. BY: How often do you practice at Bodhisattva Yoga on a weekly basis?
LK: I always aim for three times a week. Sometimes, life happens and can only do two, so I try to fit in a micro-practice at home. Anything to encourage movement.
3. BY: What classes do you take on a weekly basis?
LK: On Mondays, I take the Asana, Pranayama, Dharana class. It’s my favorite one, by far. It sets the tone for the week and jumpstarts my body and mind for whatever I need to tackle. Then either the Dhana class on Wednesday nights, or the Virya on Thursday mornings. And the Shila class on Saturdays. I was taking the Sati class for a little while until I got pregnant, then I figured I’ll keep my practice strong and steady up to the Shila level and I’ll go back to that class when I feel my body is ready to take the next leap again.
4. BY: Where do you live and what is your trip like to and from Bodhisattva Yoga?
LK: I live 3 stops away on the F train which requires me to leave the house about 30 minutes before class time. I’ve only had two incidents in the past two years where the train didn’t cooperate, (Emergency brake engaged in the train ahead! or, Sick passenger!) That’s a good time to practice Kshanti–patience.
5. BY: What is it that you like about practicing at Bodhisattva Yoga?
LK: I truly appreciate that BY not only focuses on proper posture and breathing during your asana practice, but they also place special emphasis on what’s going on with the mind and spirit. Even their class names: Patience (Kshanti), Enthusiastic Effort (Virya), Discipline (Shila) and Mindfulness (Sati) list out an on-going mindset for life. It takes practice, but next thing you know, you’re incorporating all of these things into your daily routine.
6. BY: What is it that you like about your fellow practitioners at Bodhisattva Yoga?
LK: I LOVE the enthusiasm and encouragement I always feel around other BY practitioners. It’s particularly boosted after going on a retreat together, there’s a strong sense of camaraderie between us. We go through certain experiences together, and it feels like family.
7. BY: What is it that you’ve mentally/physically/emotionally experienced as a result of practicing at Bodhisattva Yoga?
LK: That’s a loaded question. In a nutshell, it’s helped me handle health issues, my pregnancy and the details of life. I initially reached out to BY after having been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and other physical ailments. Both he [Vivekan] and Jess welcomed me and made me feel at ease with reminders to “pull back” and do a more remedial pose if something feels unattainable at that moment. Or if I’m feeling too fatigued, take a child’s pose. They put an emphasis on listening and being kind to one’s body, but also remind us not to fall into laziness either. This, I realize, is a life lesson; one I get to practice everyday.
These lessons have also echoed throughout my pregnancy. I can’t imagine what this pregnancy would have been like without BY and I’m grateful to say that I don’t have to. So far, at 30 weeks, I have been able to keep up my practice and keep my body strong. Meditation has become part of my everyday life, thanks to the workshops I’ve attended at BY. I can feel my baby involved in the whole process: how he moves around when we chant “ohm”; how steady he is while I’m practicing asana flows; and his little wiggle when we go into shavasana, as if to say, “Aww…that’s it? We’re done?”
Check out her website and Facebook page.

Congratulations to September 2012′s Semi-Annual Yoga Rockers!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

bodhisattva yoga rock n roll photo

We are pleased to announce the raging success of 2012′s Semi-Annual Assessments – this September!

Not only did participating practitioners walk away with useful feedback from us on their current Intermediate-level practice, each of them gained invitation to our SATI (Advanced Flow) class by demonstrating their yogic accomplishments (Sanskrit, siddhis).

Handstands, headstands, spring highs, jump-thrus and meditative seats lit the space on fire. The two of us as proud as parents at a little league game, only rooting for the practice we know can transform the hearts, minds, and bodies of the people we’ve come to adore and champion.

Here are their names in alphabetical order. When you see them in class give them a congratulatory shout! They deserve it!

Amy Monaco
Elisa Mason
Geoff Vidal (for a 2nd time!)
Laurajean Zaino
Meg Hodgkins

Wasn’t all the sweating, tumbling, dusting it off and starting over again worth it?

Our best advice as you continue climbing the ranks for continued growth and evolution: show up without arriving. Fall, laugh, dust if off and start again. Rinse, wash, repeat. The siddhi trees will continue to bear fruit and sometimes even throw it at you when you least expect it!

You ROCK.

Your proud fans,
Jess & Vivekan

Vivekan’s Weekly Bit: The Truth of Change

Thursday, September 20th, 2012
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Vivekan

This is a weekly post from Bodhisattva Yoga’s founder/co-director offering weekly bits of research findings, suggestions, and musings on all things directly & indirectly related to the broad Path of Yoga.

A big part of life’s journey, let alone for the seeker and the aspiring yogin, is the need to constructively adapt to change. Change is constantly taking place. To resist it brings only friction and frustration. Constant change occurs on many levels: from the aging process, all the way to weather patterns and seasons – and, too many more to enumerate. How we approach the inevitability of change plays a tremendous role on how well we cope and adjust to the nature of phenomenal existence – that is constant, perpetual change.

Many tell me that they feel blue because they turned, or are about to turn, 30, 40 or 50, etc., years of age. This makes me sad. We take our valuable lives for granted on such a fundamental level, that the mere concept of a numerical age “depresses” us. Why instead do we not feel a sense of positive pride: “I did it! Despite the odds, I’ve made it this far… And, with the mental faculty to recognize that I have. Yes!” Then, this kind of thinking may lead to us constructively working with the reality of change by improving our diet and activity levels in order to make the most of our remaining years.

Weather patterns and change of seasons often bring out funny qualities within us, betraying that we are perpetually dissatisfied. If it’s been sunny and warm, I often hear lamentations wishing for cooler, overcast weather conditions. When it’s been raining for a bit, even if we were in drought conditions, many have bemoaned the lack of sun. We are fickle in nature. So, often, even when we are finally experiencing weather conditions and seasonal qualities that we formerly desired, our own changing nature becomes contemptuous of finally getting what we want! I know people have differing approaches to coping with this form of change. Some enjoy watching weather forecasts closely to best anticipate and prepare for changing weather and temperatures; whereas others look out the window, read the skies and utilize whatever attire most suits the changing climate.

A seeker of Truth is not necessarily a yogin in way of formal practices, but a genuine yogin – not someone merely doing poses – does strive to experience, embody and transmit the Truth. This is so no matter one’s faith, or lack of. Perhaps one of the more telling signs of a one living in harmony with the Truth is the ability to deftly cope and adjust according to life’s myriad changes. Join me on this journey of harmonious living in the face of change.

In health,
Vivekan :)

Vivekan’s Weekly Bit: Is Facebook Making You Fat?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
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Vivekan

This is a weekly post from Bodhisattva Yoga’s founder/co-director offering weekly bits of research findings, suggestions, and musings on all things directly & indirectly related to the broad Path of Yoga.

Are you having a hard time fitting in your practice? You are not the only one. Now, with the advent of increasingly popular social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, more and more people are finding precious, valuable time being lost – never to return again – while perusing these social mediums. This is not a criticism of the use of these social networking sites, but an important consideration when weighing priorities and time allocation.

Research by the University of Ulster has found that: “Time spent on social networking sites comes at the expense of other activities – including physical activity.” This is important when we reflect on how much we wish to fit into our daily and/or weekly regimes – including physical activities like our Bodhisattva Yoga practice – and, the reality of skillfully working these within our time constraints.

“Time Waits for No One”

Dr Cousins, one of the researchers, stated: “Time is a finite resource, so time spent in social networking must come at the expense of other activities. Our study suggests that physical activity may be one of those activities.” The analyzed results of the referenced study revealed “that the amount of time spent on social network websites was negatively correlated with the respondents’ level of physical activity in the previous week.”

So, join me in continuing to use these social networking platforms constructively. Yet, with a certain discipline which ensures that our practice, on and off the mat, &/or, on and off the cushion is not compromised by the enjoyment of too many cute pictures. …Or, alternatively, the entertainment of endless curiosities about what others are doing, especially if what they are doing does not directly &/or indirectly lead to the betterment of habitat, species and humanity.

In health,
Vivekan