The Power of Sanskrit & The Present Moment

Live in the present. The idea of living in the present moment is a common goal amongst us, especially yoga practitioners. We seek to be more mindful, more aware and look to the practice of yoga to help us achieve this. If we are not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, then we are immersed in the beauty of the present moment. That’s not easy to do! Our minds are so busy managing work, family, friends and life that finding ourselves really in the present moment is often short lived. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, tell us that yoga is citta-vritti-nirodhah. Yoga is the quieting of the vrittis (thoughts) of the citta (the mind). The practices of Yoga and meditation teach us how to find clarity, how to become more mindful, and how to connect to our mind through our body.  When engaged in the practice of Yoga we are learning how to live in the present moment. For example, most yoga teachers will invite you to connect to your breath. That simple instruction can help to quiet down the chatter of the mind and offers the opportunity to look inward and truly connect to the present. 

Often yoga classes begin and end with the sound of OM. It is said to be the primordial sound, or the sound of the universe, encompassing all sounds, and all of creation. When we chant OM we connect to the universe, to ourselves and to each other. Chanting OM helps to quiet the mind and come into the present moment. How can such a simple sound have such a profound affect on our mind? That’s the power of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the language of yoga and meditation; it’s a spiritual, vibrational language. It has the power, like music, to uplift the heart and soul. The sound of the Sanskrit language has the power to put us at peace and learning Sanskrit can teach us how to live in the present moment.  

On June 1st & 2nd I will offer the American Sanskrit Institute's (ASI) Level 1 Immersion at the Tahoe Yoga Shala. The method created by the American Sanskrit Institute uses yoga philosophy to teach you how to achieve present moment awareness. When the senses are completely focused on listening to the sounds, the sight of the alphabet, and the feeling of making the sounds then learning becomes an experience rather than a struggle. At first you’ll become aware of what thoughts (vrittis) are blocking you from experiencing the present. Then you’ll learn a technique for controlling where you place your attention based on the Yoga Sutras. This method has proven to help anyone who wants to learn the language and is a guaranteed way of learning. Even if you’ve never thought of learning Sanskrit, this method can help you to learn and master anything you put your mind to. The experience itself of participation in the Immersion is an experience of using Yoga to truly live in the moment. Vyaas Houston, the founder of ASI, says that learning Sanskrit connects us to the joy we experienced as children. It’s true, the joy and happiness of engaging the sounds of the language in this weekend Immersion can connect you to that peaceful, happy, live in the moment place you are seeking. That’s the power of Sanskrit. 

Learn More and Register Online HERE

Teacher Spotlight: Kacey Davy

Name: Kacey Davy

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Practicing yoga since: 2005

1) Tell us about the first yoga class you took. I had taken a class or two at the gym a few times but I started practicing regularly in 2005. My first class was a really advanced ashtanga class that was way over my head, but I didn’t let that scare me away. I was immediately drawn to the calming and grounding nature of yoga and loved the community environment as opposed to a gym.

Teaching since 2012

2) What do you remember of the first yoga class you taught? My teacher training program was actually an apprenticeship program that was ongoing for several years and so I don’t recall the “first class” I ever taught. My apprenticeship consisted of assisting with my teacher on a weekly basis and after about 9 months I began to sub classes, and then earned my own weekly class. What I remember most is supporting and being a part of our community on a daily basis and getting to know each student and their needs.

3) Who/what are your teachers? Why? My teacher is Zoe Mai, from Trishula Yoga in Collingswood, NJ. Trishula is a unique yoga school that offers traditional Ashtanga Mysore practice, yoga philosophy, Sanskrit and meditation practices.  I feel blessed to have the exposure to many aspects of yoga and a teacher who is established in these practices. I never imagined myself to be a teacher, yet Zoe saw something in me and for her faith, I am forever grateful. 

4) In what ways has yoga supported or impacted your life?  Yoga has completely transformed my life. I worked in the fashion industry and began practicing yoga as a way to balance out the stress from my hectic work life. Ultimately it’s because of the yoga that I transformed my goals and aspirations and ended up living in Tahoe! The practice of yoga brings awareness to your thoughts and behaviors and brings you closer to, or brings you back to who you really are. When I started to pay attention to my fast paced, stressed out lifestyle I started to change my career goals and eventually gave it all up to pursue a simpler, more active life in a community of like-minded people. Yoga supports everything that I do, it keeps me happy and healthy as well as strong and flexible to pursue all of the outdoor adventures Tahoe has to offer.

5) What does your current yoga practice include? Why? I practice Ashtanga Mysore style 5-6 days a week. I’m currently working on the third series – called sthira bhaga, often translated as strength and grace. Sthira means strength and the practice cultivates strength not only in the body but also the in the mind. It’s a challenging practice but it’s not about the poses. Every day is different and the practice is about keeping the energy moving so at least one or two days a week I practice the primary series. 

6) What currently inspires you? The students who tell me how yoga has changed their life inspire me. I often hear that the practice has given them clarity, or has helped to heal years of pain in the body. For some it helps to calm their minds and make them feel grounded. For others, it makes them strong and feeling good about themselves. I’m honored and humbled to be part of the process.

7) What secret helps you to maintain balance and stay healthy? My daily yoga practice keeps me healthy! Also, a short meditation at the end of my asana practice keeps me balanced and feeling grounded. 

8) A fun fact most people don’t know about you? I’ve walked over hot coals, twice! I participated in a couple of empowerment seminars that included a fire walk. I got burned pretty badly the second time and remember telling people at work that I cut my foot while walking barefoot outside for fear that people would think I was crazy walking over hot coals!

9) What do you want to share with the Shala community? I’d like to share that my teaching comes from a place of love. Love for each student in the moment, as you are, without expectation or judgment. I often hear that students are intimidated to try the Ashtanga Mysore method, because they ‘don’t want to think’ and rather be ‘told what to do’, the idea of having to memorize a set sequence seems like ‘too much work’. I’d like to share that there is empowerment in moving, breathing and learning the sequence on your own. Ashtanga also tells you exactly what to do, when to inhale and exhale and what comes next. You just need to memorize a little bit each time. And you’re not alone, we as the teachers work with you individually and help you to learn every step of the way. Every student has begun the same way, with learning the sun salutations and slowly adding on poses once they commit to showing up. Whether it’s once a week or more, the only way to progress is to actually show up and do the work. When you look at other students flowing, what appears to be ‘effortlessly’, through the vinyasas, what you don’t see is that they show up day after day, after month, after year and have committed to the practice.  They’ve struggled and persevered and keep showing up despite the challenges. This is a challenging practice however we modify and make it approachable for every age, and every body type. The Ashtanga method is a system for healing and transforming the body and the mind. The asana practice is a tool to quiet the mind and the stories that we tell ourselves. However it only works if you are willing to take that first step! Come try the Mysore method, there are no expectations, only love and support.

Navaratri: The Nine Nights of the Goddess

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NAVARATRI: The Celebration of the Goddess
Monday, September 25th from 3-345pm with Kacey Davy

Donation class benefitting Sierra Child & Family Services.

Join us for Sanskrit chanting and storytelling…

This class will honor the Goddess with chanting of mantras, flowers, and offerings of food. All are welcome to join in this celebration of the Goddess. 

FREE! Bring a snack and something special for the altar.

REGISTER ONLINE

Navaratri is widely celebrated throughout India and symbolizes a time for internal reflection and purification. “Nava” means nine and “ratri” is night. The first three days are devoted to the Goddess Durgā who symbolizes the destructive and protective aspect of ourselves. Durgā represents the destruction of our inner demons by acknowledging our shortcomings and emotions such as fear, selfishness, desire, and anger. The next three days we honor the aspect of Lakṣhmī who represents our seeking of prosperity in the form of positivity, courage, generosity, and devotion. During the last three days we celebrate the Goddess Sarasvāti who represents spiritual knowledge, wisdom, creativity, and the ability to know our true Self.

The Power of Sanskrit & The Present Moment

Live in the present. The idea of living in the present moment is a common goal amongst us, especially yoga practitioners. We seek to be more mindful, more aware and look to the practice of yoga to help us achieve this. If we are not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, then we are immersed in the beauty of the present moment. That’s not easy to do! Our minds are so busy managing work, family, friends and life that finding ourselves really in the present moment is often short lived. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, tell us that yoga is citta-vritti-nirodhah. Yoga is the quieting of the vrittis (thoughts) of the citta (the mind). The practices of Yoga and meditation teach us how to find clarity, how to become more mindful, and how to connect to our mind through our body.  When engaged in the practice of Yoga we are learning how to live in the present moment. For example, most yoga teachers will invite you to connect to your breath. That simple instruction can help to quiet down the chatter of the mind and offers the opportunity to look inward and truly connect to the present. 

Often yoga classes begin and end with the sound of OM. It is said to be the primordial sound, or the sound of the universe, encompassing all sounds, and all of creation. When we chant OM we connect to the universe, to ourselves and to each other. Chanting OM helps to quiet the mind and come into the present moment. How can such a simple sound have such a profound affect on our mind? That’s the power of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the language of yoga and meditation; it’s a spiritual, vibrational language. It has the power, like music, to uplift the heart and soul. The sound of the Sanskrit language has the power to put us at peace and learning Sanskrit can teach us how to live in the present moment.  

On June 10th & 11th I will offer the American Sanskrit Institute's (ASI) Level 1 Immersion at the Tahoe Yoga Shala. The method created by the American Sanskrit Institute uses yoga philosophy to teach you how to achieve present moment awareness. When the senses are completely focused on listening to the sounds, the sight of the alphabet, and the feeling of making the sounds then learning becomes an experience rather than a struggle. At first you’ll become aware of what thoughts (vrittis) are blocking you from experiencing the present. Then you’ll learn a technique for controlling where you place your attention based on the Yoga Sutras. This method has proven to help anyone who wants to learn the language and is a guaranteed way of learning. Even if you’ve never thought of learning Sanskrit, this method can help you to learn and master anything you put your mind to. The experience itself of participation in the Immersion is an experience of using Yoga to truly live in the moment. Vyaas Houston, the founder of ASI, says that learning Sanskrit connects us to the joy we experienced as children. It’s true, the joy and happiness of engaging the sounds of the language in this weekend Immersion can connect you to that peaceful, happy, live in the moment place you are seeking. That’s the power of Sanskrit. 

Learn More About Kacey's Upcoming Sanskrit Immersion HERE

Niyama - Personal Observances

Last month we reviewed the yama or universal observances. This month we examine the niyama or personal observances. As the first two limbs, the yama and niyama establish the foundation of Patanjali's eight-limbed practice of Yoga.

As yama is universal social practices, niyama evolves from individual practices that strength one's character. The Sanskrit word yama translates as; to bridle, to restrain, to check or hold-in. The prefix 'ni'  as inniyama, is an intensifier signaling an internal restraint and discipline.

The five niyama are purity (shauca), contentment (santosha), discipline (tapah), self-study (svadhyaya) and the perfect aligning of attention with the True Self (ishvara-pranidhana). Purity extends beyond the external cleanliness of the physical body to include the nourishment that goes into body, the sensory impressions taken in via personal relationships/media and the subtle quality of thoughts and beliefs.  Contentment as an internal practice means embracing an Absolute Joy that is independent of external circumstances or conditions.  It is relaxing into the world as it is and the letting go of external attachments that allows one to abide in the here and the now.  Tapah, literally "to heat," is an intense commitment to the internal process.  Each time a distracting impulse, intense emotion or outdated habit surfaces but is not obeyed the heat of this friction moves us closer to discriminating awareness.  Self-study is independent study of philosophical texts and, more importantly, how one applies them to one's own life in order to "walk the talk."  Lastly, isvara-pranidhana.  Isvara is pure awareness, the omniscient Self, the Seer or the God within.  Pranidhana is orienting every thought, word and deed toward knowing pure awareness. Chip Hartranft in his commentary on the Yoga Sutras sums it up beautifully, "Isvara-pranidhana provides the point of focus to which the yogi continually returns in the course of practice (abhyasa) and the inspiration to cultivate non-reaction (vairagya)."

The inner life of every human being is visited by unwholesome and negative thoughts of all kinds. Patanjali doesn't find fault or judge but rather regards this as the natural state of affairs.  He does, however, state that we have the power to neutralize unwholesome thoughts by cultivating and realizing their opposites.  Otherwise, our unwholesome thoughts are bound to manifest and contribute to the cycle of suffering, pain and delusion.  The ten yama and niyama serve as a baseline "karmic management" program that encourage us to take actions that allow us to gain mastery over our lives while minimizing karmic burden.

Mountain Yoga Is Now Tahoe Yoga Shala

For Immediate Release

Mountain Yoga Is Now Tahoe Yoga Shala

South Lake Tahoe, California. — South Lake Tahoe’s favorite yoga studio, Mountain Yoga, is now Tahoe Yoga Shala.  South Lake Tahoe resident, Laura Josephy, recently purchased the “the Shala” after instructing and managing the business since 2011.

The Sanskrit word shala (sh-ah-la) translates as home or abode.  It can also mean the upper branch of a tree.  When asked about the symbolism of the business’ new name and logo, Laura shared, “At the Shala we believe that one's ability to expand and blossom is directly proportional to one's ability to gather and root. This philosophy is reflected in our approach to the postures and breath techniques we practice and it is the platform upon which balanced and healthy lifestyle practices are founded and maintained.”  This dynamic equilibrium offers endless opportunity for self-discovery and awakening at the level of the body, mind and spirit. It is Laura’s hope that the Shala is held as a reliable home in which students can take their attention inward to engage this process.

Laura has been practicing yoga since 2001, teaching since 2003.  She has owned and managed yoga studios since 2005.  She is devoted to the yoga tradition and continuously seeks opportunities to study with renowned lineage teachers in order to deepen her personal practice and cultivate new methods to guide and support her students and teachers.  Laura believes that in order to become a master teacher, one must first be a masterful student.

The Shala will honor all existing Mountain Yoga memberships. Students enjoy a number of membership options that provide them with the flexibility and access necessary to support their work-life schedule.  The Shala offers discounted introductory offers to full-time Tahoe residents. Offering a variety of methods including Ashtanga, Restorative, Prenatal, Family, All-Bodies and Power Flow, the Shala’s 35 weekly classes aim to provide something for everyone. 

The Shala, is located in the Tahoe Keys Village at 585 Tahoe Keys Blvd, Suite F1A.  An Open House featuring free classes, teacher meet and greet ,live music, acro yoga demonstration and kids chakra art will be held on January 16, 2016 from 12 - 3 p.m.

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Laura Josephy

Owner

Tahoe Yoga Shala

530/543-1400

tahoeyogashala@gmail.com

www.tahoeyogashala.com