Monday, December 3, 2012

Will you be the Hundredth Monkey? By Gaby

The story: the Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, (also known as snow monkey or Japanese Macaque) has been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand.

Macaca Fuscata, photo credit  E. Tasker
The monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant. An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers, too. This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists.

Between 1952 and 1958, all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

The myth: Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes — the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let's further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes. By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!

But notice, a most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea — Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes!*

(*Lifetide by Lyall Watson, pp. 147-148. Bantam Books 1980. This book gives other fascinating details.)

However, the story is now popular among New-Age authors and Gurus, it has become and urban legend and part of new ages mythology. For more check here.

I am interested in modern mythology here, and what the myth is telling us is that people desperately hope for change.

The hope: Yoga is all about (self) transformation and transcendence. But change is often difficult and motivation is key. I feel the story of the Hundredth Monkey is a good source of motivation. Although it always seems we are too few who really want to change and even fewer who want to change for the benefit of a greater thing than just ourselves, the mere fact of change may one day trigger a much larger wave of change.

So despite I know the myth of the hundredth monkey is just that, a myth, I still think we do not have a choice but to believe that there is some tipping point, that if we reach a sufficient number, things will really start to change. Everyday I wake up and direct my focus to that endeavor only, create an environment of example, where others can learn, get inspired and finally find motivation to change for the better.

On the other hand I know some interest are working to keep people subject to the same model we have had for the last century, a model that has clearly shown its limits by now, but that solid economical interest protect from evolving to some other model more fair, more environmentally friendly, less based on profit and more based on compassion and Love. Sometime I find the battle impossible, it feels like David facing Goliath. The financial and lobbying power of theses interest, their lack of ethics, their selfishness and short sightedness scares me and I feel they expand so fast that it dwarves all my efforts. At that moment I think about the hundredth monkey.

So if you have read these lines until here I am asking you, will you join us in our efforts?
Will you be the Hundredth Monkey?

With Love&Light, Gaby

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fate is the result of our past free will. By Gaby

Many western student while discovering the law of Karma and the notion of Dharma are puzzled and asked me" but then, do we have free will?". Here is an attempt to answer with more details to this profound and immemorial question.

What is free will?
“Free will” or the ability for a human being to make a choice freely. By opposition, our capacity to make a free choice could be prevented by events or situations that may have pre-existed or that are present at the moment of making a choice.
Free will is apparently the opposite of a determinist view in which every event is dependent on previous causes and conditions. A situation where destiny or fate are linked to a fixed natural order, greater than the maker of the choice, that would pre-determine all future events and therefore preclude any possibility of influence on the events, hence making all form of choice obsolete or just a mere illusion of freedom.

Free will and the law of Karma
We understand the law of Karma as a form of Universal or Moral Responsibility by which human are bound to take responsibility for all their past actions. Unless certain conditions are gathered (like acting without attachment to the fruits of the actions, the major tenet of the Baghavad Gita), all humans must pay their dues and hence some form of destiny is applicable to their current life. Until they are freed from all karma (meaning they do not produce new karma and exhaust all karma from past lives), human are not free. Can humans have free will until they are free from Karma?

Free will and awareness
With just a small amount of awareness most humans know that our decision process is attached to the way we see the world, the way our brain and mind define our "reality". Perception, leads to cognition, then recognition and finally choice / action. The process of matching our current perception (present) to a library of experiences (past) tend to weigh toward the seemingly determinist view of karma. We are reproducing machines. To have free will would therefore require any candidate to have control over this natural process, starting with control over the senses.

Free will and desire, anger and fear
Obviously we all fall for desire, anger or fear (this list not exhaustive!) even if only at a very subtle level. How much of free will can we claim having when our actions are driven by any element of this triad? So beyond just awareness of our mind processes we also need the strength and courage to contain and redirect (or transform) desire, anger and fear, before we can claim free will.

Free will, but who is willing?
Of course we would also need to define what is a human being. Which part of the human being is willing? The body? The mind? The soul? The self or the Self? So in order to be able to say I have free will we would need to define who is this “I”. Not an easy task either for it seems the small self cannot be free and the great Self cannot want.

Freedom and will
Now can freedom and will co-exist? From the deluded, un-enlightened mind there can not be any freedom because there is no awareness. Mostly we are told the enlightened minds are free or liberated but do they still have a will of their own? Can we not even contemplate the possibility that freedom and will are opposed and therefore it would make the idea of free-will a paradoxical concept?
We live in a world where we are taught that choice is freedom, but is it? In many way choice is alienating, it brings confusion, doubt; energy and time are wasted in trying to select and many get lost in the confusion created. Choice often leaves us with the bitter taste that we may not have done the right choice, wasting further energy in the process.

What Krishna says

There is ample reference in the Bhagavad Gita that there are some laws to follow, be it Dharma (or svadharma) or the compelling Gunas born of Prakriti / Cosmos etc. It is made clear to Arjuna that there is no avoiding these rules without incurring sin, without failing to his gruesome duty. In the current situation Arjuna seems to have no choice, he must fight, he must kill and this wether he wants it or not. This is his destiny and apparently he has no free will.

In addition, for Krishna to know the future, there must be some law that governs it, hence some degree of predetermination.

But at the same time, despite Arjuna his enticed to act, he is not forced to do it. More precisely he his explained how to act, how to see the act under a different light, from a different stand point. He is told what to do while acting, in order to act within the laws. He is told to make a choice now, to be free tomorrow. He is warned against the difficulty of the choice in the current context. He is shown the door, but he has to walk through it. 

Other messages encourage Arjuna to inquire into the nature of the “I”. For if “I am not the doer” then who is doing? Can I be acting from a different and deeper level? Can I free my act from karmic consequences? Can I be held responsible for something I am not doing?

Krishna’s dialogue is ambiguous in appearance. But is it really? What would be the point of Krishna’s activist gospel if all was already determined? And why not then use his infinite power to simply compel Arjuna’s to act according to His will? 

On the contrary, Arjuna is given the tools for freedom, be it Yoga, or Sacrifice or Faith etc, he is shown many path to choose from. What would be the point of all these path if he had no grip on the situation? If all was predetermined? Why so many path if the choice would not matter?

Krishna is not even trying to manipulate Arjuna, on the contrary he want him to awaken, to see for himself but from a different stand point, and from there realize what the situation really is. This does not seems to give Arjuna a choice (he still has to fight) but it will give him freedom. So he will be free but with no choice?

Arjuna is made to realize that his apparent “will” comes from the part of him that his not free because deluded, and that the part of him that his free has no will of its own. He will follow his duty in the end he declares: “I have obtained recollection. I am resolved; all uncertainty is gone. I will do your bidding!” 18:73

He does not say he his willing to do it, he says he will do Krishna’s bidding! To many this may not seem like freedom and definitely not the definition of free-will of most people.

I believe this misunderstanding comes from the definition of “I”. If we do not know who we are, how can we have free will? Even if I think “I” have free will, who is the “I”?

To conclude

We may adopt a “compatibilist” view, where the coexistence of destiny and free will is possible. 

We have some laws to abide with (Karma, Dharma, Prakriti-3 Gunas etc) but in the present we are free to choose our course of action. We can choose between the divine or the demonic form, to lean into the laws or to swim against the currents, in all case we are making a choice and we will reap the fruits of our actions because we choose freely.

In the present, with sufficient awareness, we can act without creating new karma, hence there is some level of freedom. How could it be otherwise? If we were compelled to act by old karma only, there would be no freedom in the present, hence how could we be considered responsible of our current actions? Karma would be the most unjust law of all to ask us to pay for actions we had no freedom to perform.

Quoting the words of Paramahansa Yogananda in “Saying and Utterance” 1907:
“Therefore we see at once that there cannot be any such thing as free-will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know, and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is moulded by conditions of time, space and causality. ... To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe; it cannot be found here”.

From another school we can also quote Laotze: "The free-will and liberty of man consist mainly in his mental view point and attitude towards things as he finds them and very little in the making of his own environment and condition of life"

So there you go, for Laotze our freedom is to change the way we see things, similar to Krishna's message. Our only freedom is to chose how we see things, but our all universe is in the mind and in the way we see things, hence we are free to create a complete new reality. That's ultimate freedom!

In any case, we can always choose to do the right thing now and it will bring freedom tomorrow. I found this best explained in the words of Chandrashekara Bharathi 3 (1892-1954)
Fate is the result of your past free will”

With Love&Light, Gaby

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Freedom is not given to us by anyone... By Ana Paula Martinez Lanz

In October 2011, two students were granted a scholarship to study during Yogi-nomad's 6 weeks Teacher Training Program in Nepal. In exchange, the student had to invest their new skills and knowledge in a welfare project. Ana Paula decided to teach Yoga in a women's jail in her native country of Mexico. The following interview was a result of Ana Paula's participation in the "Yoga in Cholula Prison project".
Yogi-nomad is profoundly grateful to Ana Paula for spreading the light of Yoga.


Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves.
It is a daily practice. No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.  Thich Nhat Hanh

This interview was made on October 27, 2012.
The following interviewed person was an inmate in San Pedro Cholula prison, in Puebla, Mexico, for 4 years and 8 months. During the last 9 months she received yoga classes from the Yoga in Cholula Prison Project. Very soon she started feeling a deep transformation, and later she became a guide for other inmates.

I am very grateful with this person for sharing her experience in this interview, and I also want to thank Ilyanna Berman, coordinator of the Yoga in Cholula Prison Project, for inviting me to be a part of it.

What was your first impression when yoga was presented to you? Did you know what yoga was?
I had already heard about yoga, and to me it was discipline, religion. So I thought, I do like discipline, but I do not follow any religion, so I will see what it offers me and maybe it will be interesting, but I will not change my ideas because of one course. But as I kept listening to the concepts about yoga, I started getting more and more interested. I understood that it is very personal and that you cannot understand it if you don't practice it. At first I thought that it was related to Buddhism and to Asia, and I doubted if I was going to like it. But after hearing more about it I felt more interested. I was attracted to it because you can enjoy every moment in your life, the good and the bad times, and it is just a matter of paying attention to what you are doing. I felt that it was something that was going to help me, at least, to accept my self as I am.

Did your experience in prison change after you started practicing yoga?
Yes, a lot. I have always been a very calm person. When someone new arrived I used to think, 'if she speaks to me, good, but if not, that's better cause then I will not get in trouble' (laughter). Before yoga, I was in my own bubble, I barely got out of bed. I knitted and did other activities but it was really hard to get along with the other women because it was only problems with them. I started doing yoga and then understood that, no matter how people are, everyone deserves respect and attention because that's what I want to receive. I like being respected in my space and in my character, so I have to do the same towards others, so I started to understand that way of life. Sometimes we didn't agree in some ideas but I knew that their reasons were not the same as mine, and just to try and listen to the other's ideas, even if I didn't agree, but the attention to listen was very important to me, and that was a huge step. Or when I was yelled by a guard, at first I would get really angry and thought: 'I would like to see her inside this place', but afterward I learned to respect her work, because she didn't put me there, she was just doing her job. In a physical level, yoga helped me because my body started reacting in a different way, I got very relaxed and felt that my body was useful. The space that we had was very small, we were very limited about the physical activity, so I was really happy when I realized that I just needed the space for my mat, where I could do so many things. When Jesús started teaching us meditation it also helped a lot because then I also started using the space in my bed to meditate. Outside was for yoga, all the asanas that all the teachers taught us. With meditation, I learned how to experience wellness, despite what was going on around me, I was feeling fine. My experience changed so much, everything changed a lot. I started seeing beauty in all things, even if it was a smoke circle, it is beautiful because it is real. I became more sensitive, less superficial, and I let go of many attachments. I realized many things, that we have to live now, always in present time because you have nothing else.

Can you tell me how you became a guide for the other women in your yoga practice?
I started doing Sun Salutations everyday by myself when some of my fellow inmates started asking me to guide them. The officer told us that somebody should be responsible if someone got injured. I couldn't be responsible for them so I told them that we could practice together but each one on their own thing. They insisted me to guide them, they said that I knew more and did it better. So I started little by little, first just Sun Salutations. I would go out at 8 am everyday, no matter what, with company or by myself, I would find a little space for my mat and started doing yoga. Before that, I meditated, I would be aware of my breath and at the end I did relaxation exercises. We started like that and then with some vinyasas, the sequences that all the yoga teachers showed us, and then some other more advanced postures. But by then, we were already practicing every morning, even if we didn't have class, we had our yoga for the day which cheered us up.

How many of you were practicing by then?
Seven. Sometimes there was another fellow but I got very nervous with her because she was very impulsive, she wanted to do a headstand right away. I told her that she needed to practice slowly and with patience, but she was hyperactive and always asked: 'what can I do?! what can I do?!', 'stop drinking coffee', I would tell her (laughter). I explained to her that she would get to do the headstand but only by working step by step.

Do you think that the other women had any changes with yoga practice?
Yes. Specially one of them, changed a lot. Before yoga, she used to keep her feelings to herself, she didn't talk to anyone. Afterward, when she wanted to cry, she asked me to meditate together, so she would join me before going to bed. Sometimes we did vipassana breathing, which we learned from other two guys, and then when we opened our eyes or came back, she cried or laughed and then she would tell me that she was feeling better after expressing her feelings, not like before when she kept all her emotions to herself and she was bitter (laughter). I think she really changed. If she fell down, she would laugh. She became more positive, in advanced postures, she told me 'yes you can, try again, and if you fall down, just stand up'. Every time I looked at her I made a face and she laughed, so I thought 'she is fine, even though she is in here, she is ok'. Another fellow inmate, with just a little time practicing yoga, I saw that all she was trying to do was to assimilate her situation. I never asked her anything, I heard some gossip from the other women but I didn't really know why she was there. But she tried to accept her responsibility by being honest to herself. She used yoga to feel real, that's what she told me. 'I need to stay calm knowing that I will be here I don't know for how long', she said to me. She liked doing breathing exercises, that was what mostly relaxed her. And she sang mantras, she sings really beautiful. We chant Om or Lam, which Sol taught us, to activate muladahara chakra.

Do you still practice yoga?
Yes. I go outside at 6:00 am because my sister likes to run and I go with her. First we walk, then we run, and then we practice yoga. At night I try to meditate and sometimes I do some Sun Salutations to release tension from the day because I am very stressed now, the house work stresses me a lot. So I do practice, but not like before when I had a lot of time. I am trying to organize my daytime to practice properly.

Would you like to learn how to teach Yoga?
Yes. I really enjoy my practice but I also like sharing it with other people. Like now, for example, I am doing yoga with my sisters and I explain to them a posture step by step, and my sister really enjoys it, the youngest, she didn't know what yoga was and she loves it now. She says that she wants to take a yoga course but she is not going to pay for it now because she has me at home (laughter).

In the future, if you become a yoga teacher, Would you like to be part of the Yoga in Prison Project and teach there?
Yes. I would have no problem with going back, but I would have to get very prepared to teach. In one of the spare time that I had back there, I memorized all the names of the body bones. I also know some sanscrit names for the postures. I left all my copies and books that I had, I can get everything out here, or in the internet. They can't.

Would you like to share something else about your yoga experience in prison?
I think that it went deeper and deeper in me, until it reached something very profound, because it attracted good things for me. They say that yoga always brings good things to your life. I saw my exit from there, and I really saw it. I also observed that I had to be more peaceful, more humble, be more, always more. But mainly, and most important, it helped me to assimilate my imprisonment, not because of the place, but to learn not to lock myself in my head, in my problems, not to invent my own world because it is not mine. I am here, and I exist as a part of a whole. I should not imprison myself, and I don't mean between walls, but in my mind. To open my head and to know that, even though I was living in that place, I had my own way of thinking, and acting. It really helped me to open my head and liberate myself from my mind. I also learned about impermanence, so I don't want to get used to anything, I don't want to make my life boring or repetitive. I got free from that place and I learned how to let go of my feelings when they have to go. I was very limited in many ways but they couldn't limit my thoughts or my heart. Your freedom is inside of you, inside. You are free to think, to feel and to live whatever you want.

Thank you very much for sharing your experience, your thoughts and feelings.
Thank you.
Ana Paula, Mexico, November 2013.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happiness is our moral duty. By Gaby

Happiness is our moral duty
The Universality of the quest for Happiness.
This article is based on the assumption that everyone is looking for Happiness, hence we recognize “the universality of the search for happiness”. If you do subscribe to that prior hypothesis, just send me an email. I have failed to find anyone yet who is not looking for Happiness, even if it is in some crooked ways.
General confusion about Happiness
Obviously a corollary to the first assumption is that only a few people succeed in the search, since there seems to be so much misery on the world. Which lead me to believe that many do not know where to search, as if one searches earnestly, one finds!
Where to find Happiness
Happiness comes from inside, from a place beyond fear and desire. Fear is the past, desire the future, forget about these two impostors and look just now. It is there. Just quiet your talking mind and look inside you’ll end up finding it. Of course there may be some mess to clean if you have not gone to that place in a long time, but no-one placed that mess there but you, so you’ll be able to get rid of it quickly.
What does Happiness look like (how do you recognize when you find it)
Happiness is free, no one to pay, nothing to buy. It has a lifetime guarantee (and even more), it is infinite in quantity and stable in quality. If your happiness is flickering, coming on and off, that’s not the right one yet. You may be getting close but have not reached yet. Keep searching.

How to get help on the way
Meet happy people it helps because happiness is contagious. How do you know happy people? Easy: when un-happy people are still looking for happiness (and would rush to grab it they’d see a drop of it), happy people are not looking anymore. On the contrary, they exude happiness, because they’ve also realized that happiness is eternal and infinite, so they can’t run out of stock. These people are also very simple and straight forward. They do not need stuff around them nor pretend to be anything. On the contrary, for them stuff around is risky, this is how we may lose Happiness it in the first place. Some people say to find happiness you have to renounce material stuff, they may be right but even if you don’t, the day you find Happiness you renounce anyway. Why would you need anything else in life?
Benefits of finding Happiness I you doubt that it is worth to start the search ;-)
One of the good news, since Happiness comes from inside, you do not depend on any one or anything to be find, keep and maintain Happiness. Nothing to do, nothing to buy, and in our individualistic prone world, that is priceless: you have a total autonomy and independence of your source of Happiness.
Another good news, is that as soon as you will find Happiness you will notice people around will find it too. They will start by wondering were did you get it, and when they discover they’ll go get their share. In turn people around will be Happy. And since all these people revolve in your near universe, from Happiness you will start to experience bliss.
Beyond your friends, Happiness impact your health, by connecting you with some deep source of healing energy. You will hardly need a doctor and you may even be able to heal other people too.
Happiness is our moral duty
Now why is it a moral duty? Quite simple too. If you have ever met a happy person, you would know that they are incapable of any wrong doing. They are generosity incarnated. Happiness feeds Happiness. Happy people suddenly have so much Happiness that you can’t do anything else than distribute some around you, in whatever form. So this is when we will realize that if every body was happy, there would not be much trouble in this world. Because even the worse dictator, the worse assassin in the world is looking for that one thing: happiness, but they are just looking the wrong way. Would everyone be happy, then non one would hurt anyone. Hence we must find that source of happiness in ourselves so we can start spreading the news around, dispensing loads of Happiness for everyone to share. That is the only way we can change the world.
Wishing All tons of Happiness!
Sarva Mangalam

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kathmandu, half way to heaven? By Gaby

One remarkable particularity of Tantra is to propose the view that the "micro" aspect of the universe reflects the "macro" aspect and vice-versa. More than that, there is a "continuum universe" from micro to macro that we are somewhere in between.

Gokarna, a yajna at the Shiva Temple
This view is expressed in various ways like the famous "So above, so below" but you can also find it in the not less famous "Samsara equals Nirvarna", meaning, there is no duality between the "here and now" and the "heavens" or the looked after state of union (yoked) with the Absolute. No need to run away from the world to find an illusory Nirvana.

We can also find similar meaning in the message of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, (not a usual reference Tantric scripture though):

BG III- 11  With this (sacrifice) may you sustain the deities so that the deities may sustain you. Sustaining one another, you shall obtain the supreme good.

BG III- 12  For, sustained by sacrifice, the deities will give you the desired “food”. He who enjoys their gifts without giving something in return is but a thief.

BG III- 13  Good men, consuming the sacrificial leavings, are released from all guilt, but those who cook for their own sake are evil and “eat” the karmic fruits of wickedness.

Like always in eastern philosophy, without a practical application, it would be considered futile or simply a "brain" exercise. WIthout even attempting a religious or spiritual explanation, taking Nature or Earth as an example of our macro universe, the above verses becomes quite clear: we need to sustain our environment so it can sustain us, and those who are just taking (without giving back) are called "thieves" and will end up eating the karmic fruits of their responsibility.

Looking at our bodies and all its functions as an example of our micro universe, here again it is clear that without providing the body with sacred sacrificial food (activity, equanimity, clean air/water, organic food etc) we are just robing ourself of health and I am sure you can figure out for yourselves what the karmic fruits can be.

Like in Varanasi (India) the ancient inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley wanted to embeb this ideal in their daily life.

Bhaktapur, Durbar Square

Since we are the middle cosmos, (between the micro and the macrocosm), they organized the environment in a way that would  constantly remind of our middle position, just like building a city-size Mandala (or Yantra) in which we would evolve; a spiritual landscape (some use the word faith-scape).

A place where Gods, (as representant of the macrocosmos) and humans live together in harmony. Each corner or angle representing a power point where to place a specific deity with a specific function to energize, protect, fertilize etc.

In this way you will find around the cities of Patan, Bhakatapur and Katmandu, 4 holy hills, 4 main Vishnu temple, 4 main Ganesh temple etc and by drawing imaginary lines between these power, you would draw a sort of Mandala with the city at the center. Each power point you will find a lingam, a pool of water (kund) a large tree (usualy a ficus religiosa) a temple, a fountain etc.

Obviously this goes along with a well organized calendar of festivals during which all respective deities would be worshipped to make sure none is neglected, and routes to allow pilgrims to go around, perform "yatra", along these imaginary mandala lines, stopping in each power point to pay respect making sacrifices (yajna).

Shanku, VajraYogini Temple
Each angle or corner of the mandala is considered Thirtha, a passage, a gate, a ford, a connection with the other world (the Ultimate or Absolute). Doing a Yatra along the lines of the mandala is a powerful way to connect with the Absolute.

Doing a yoga training in Kathmandu today still allows to benefit of that unfortunately vanishing energy and to refuel at the source of the yogic science and the reason why Nepal is called Sadhana Bhumi. See previous blog article in this respect. When practicing in Nepal, the mighty Himalayas will remind you of the macro by their majestic aspect and mere size. The meso-cosmos, as seen here is everywhere. The micro-cosmos will be the subject of our study and inquiry through our sadhana. Of course the spirit of all the enlightened master who have chosen to reside in the Himalaya will be helping us on our path.

Today's modern urban imperatives are unfortunately ignorant of the macro and micro cosmos.  And despite the economic model is falling apart everywhere, only the eco-cosmos is to be maintained at all price and our gods are called automobiles, supermarkets, petrol stations, airport etc.

In Kathmandu, despite being the most polluted city in Asia, projects are cutting trees to increase the size of the roads to allow more cars to travel (and only the rich have cars here), and it seems the brand-new car show room receive more attention than the temples.
Nowadays, everybody takes, but no one gives, as it is the major tenet of capitalism. We take all our resources from nature but do not give back anything, except pollution, because it would destabilize the eco-cosmos.

Let see what karmic fruits we will have to eat. My feel is that they will be very bitter, if not poisonous.

Monday, January 30, 2012

And now, Yoga begins *. By Ana Paula Martinez

 by Ana Paula Martinez

It has been one month since I came back to Mexico, after the most magical and transforming trip of my life. The return has not been easy, as the changes in me are very profound. And it is interesting to see, once again, how we create our reality according to how much we let our mind participate. But there are many layers. As my yoga teacher Neera told me recently: Now the real Yoga begins.

It is not easy to describe the experience of a Yoga Teacher Training. I haven’t even understood yet how deep the inner transformation goes, and even more, how to manage to stay there while living in a society in which distractions are everywhere and darkness is present.

So when somebody asks me about my experience in the Yogi Nomad Teacher Training in Nepal, my feeling is that as hard as I try to explain it, my words will remain in a superficial level. It is like trying to describe what is impossible to say. In a Yoga Teacher Training we are exposed to a huge amount of information, which is hard to digest in such a short time; a very intense physical challenge; a deep exploration of the mind, going to indescribable places; and a strong energetic management that is hard to understand with our logic. In the Yogi Nomad teacher training, we also learn Thai Massage and Ayurveda. All these practices require absolute awareness, constant observing and discipline. Fortunately, the result from these six intensive weeks is equally positive in all levels: physical, mental, emotional and energetic. In terms of my yoga practice, I feel that it was greatly enriched. I learned that an advanced yoga level is proportionally related to the ability to be present and fully aware during the practice, instead of just being capable of doing complicated postures. I also realized that my practice is always different, it changes everyday, just like my body, and therefore, the experience of my yoga practice is always a new challenge.

 My trip to Nepal was not only to the Yoga Teacher Training, but it was extended to traveling around in this wonderful country, around this sacred land that has magic in the air. Moreover, I was able to see directly many of the matters studied during the course, in the Nepalese culture daily life.

Since the first day that I arrived to Kathmandu, I felt it. I knew that nothing would ever be the same after Nepal. And it isn’t. Describing this experience is not easy either. In this journey I witnessed the most evidently strong peace that I have ever felt as 

I was approaching to the Vajrayogini Temple in Sankhu and its mystery. I spent many hours 
observing life’s impermanence in the beautiful Pashupatinath, and was overwhelmed when I found myself in front of the Himalayas in Bandipur. I spent almost three weeks in Boudhanath, embracing the sense of ‘being home’ and feeling deeply grateful at every step I took in that beautiful place with such a powerful gravitational center.


Thanks to Shannon, a friend I met during the training, I spent one week painting a mural with the kids at an orphan school in Kathmandu, where I was deeply inspired by those beautiful little human beings.

This trip was not only to another country, to another culture, to the other side of the world, but it was also a journey inside myself. The Yogi Nomad team offered me this amazing opportunity through the Scholarship that they gave me,  and I will always be profoundly grateful with Gaby and Val for their generosity. Thanks to them, today I can tell this story.


Mexico, January 2012

* Athayoganusasanam, Patanjali Yoga Sutra I-1

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sail to places you never imagined! By Leah Levinton.

Recommendation to a friend
by Leah Levinton
Hi Elaine!

Very happy to hear from you! Thank you for your patience with my reply...holidays!

I hope you don't mind that I cc'd Val in this email, I just wanted her to know that I got in touch with you. I was in the same boat last year when I decided to sign up for Yogi-Nomad. The website was incredibly helpful because it's a huge leap to commit to a program that takes place across the world and having not spoken to a past participant or to the program directors.
To be honest, I didn't get in touch with anyone to find out more about the program, the thing that tipped my decision to attend Yogi-Nomad TTC was Gaby's goofy fish/kissy face on the website! (click People, then Teachers, under Gaby) I just got a strong feeling that this was where I needed to be.

The program was utterly transformational. Well, 6 weeks with a full schedule, constant learning and education, intense personal insight, physical and at times emotional demand -- transformation, in my opinion is inevitable. 

This is a special program. This TTC is different from others for many reasons; an obvious one being the additional two weeks they offer for free. (of course, you don't have to attend if your schedule doesn't allow, but I highly recommend it!!) During the first 4 weeks of the training, there was SO much information given that having two more weeks for extra practice hours to teach classes was when I actually began the process of assimilating and digesting what I had just learned. And not to mention learning THAI MASSAGE!! A beautiful complimentary healing modality to yoga!! 

Avril, Leah, Tara, Kayla and friends...
Spending 6 weeks with a small group of people is an amazing experience. You will always feel a deep connection to those people, even if you don't see any of them again after the training. It is also possible that you will experience emotional "ups and downs" during such an intense training. Val and Gaby are beautiful facilitators to help you process and grow from these moments, to truly develop as a human being and understand a deeper connection that we can have with ourselves, other people, and our surrounding environment.

The structure of the program is terrific. When I went, the hours were very long (start the day with 5:30 am meditation and finish around 7 or sometimes 8:30 pm). They did this so we had two days off which was nice because we could explore Nepal over the weekends. It was an opportunity to see how you responded to an intense schedule and it showed me that I am capable of much more than I thought I could handle! I'm not sure what the program outline will be like this year. Yogi-Nomad does a wonderful job incorporating all of the Yoga Alliance requirements for a 200-hr TTC. 

And not to mention NEPAL!! Last year's program was held in a facility that overlooked the Himalayas, so we gazed at breathtaking, marvelous and humbling mountains every single day. The people are so beautiful, spiritual and warm. (Their hello/goodbye/how are you/I see you/ greeting is Namaste!) Gaby and Val encourage exploration and have connections and tons of information about Nepal, so you can really see and feel the country for yourself.

I could probably go on for quite some time about this program, so let me end on this note: the Yogi-Nomad TTC, Gaby and Val literally changed my life. I absolutely HIGHLY encourage you to jump on this magnificent ship and sail to places you never imagined. Please email me as much as you'd like with more specific questions as they come to you. I'd love to be a support and connection. You shall have an amazing journey, you're already on it!

Leah, Mandy and more friends...
Love, light, sun, and cinnamon

Anchorage, Alaska
January 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Published by Elephant Journal: Some Like It Hot. By Gaby

Click here to view the article on Elephant Journal: Some Like It Hot. ~ Gaby Tezier
Here there was no performance, no fluorescent yoga mat, no Lululemon clothing, the class was free, everyone was smiling and lighthearted, no one complained.
Please like and comment (if you feel like) it will give us more chances to share...