Community Night at TYH! — Saturday, February 28th at 6:30pm

We’re hosting a

Community Night & Vegan Potluck!

Family Friendly  •  Yoga Optional  •  Fun Mandatory

 February 28th, 6:30pm

community potluckLooking for something different to do on a Saturday night? We’re opening our doors and sharing the space for a community evening of hanging, maybe singing, maybe yoga-ing. Bring your favorite vegan dish, maybe an instrument, maybe a yoga mat, or even your juggling balls for a night of eating and mingling with like-minded folks. This is a family-friendly night, so bring the kids along and enjoy a relaxed evening in our beautiful space.

 

 

Ashtanga Yoga, A Sacred Practice

Ashtanga Yoga, A Sacred Practicemeditation, drishti, focus

As yogis, we know that there are countless reasons why we incorporate a yoga practice into our lives. The calm, the meditation, the stress relief, the strength, the flexibility, the energy….we could recite an endless list with a blissful grin on our lips. And we can’t deny that many of us are creatures of habit; we enjoy the discipline and the routine that a regular practice adds to our lives.

There isn’t quite a more disciplined yoga practice than that of Ashtanga Yoga. There is very often a cloud of mystery around the meditative practice that might make some uneasy at the site of its listing on a studio’s schedule. To most it seems more physically demanding and rigid than other yoga practices. And the truth is, well, it can be, but in reality Ashtanga yoga is the very foundation for all styles of hatha yoga. Based on a systematic series of asanas, or postures, the Ashtanga format and postures are the building blocks for the different yoga practices that each of us know and love.

K. Pattabhi Jois, padmasana

K. Pattabhi Jois in Padmasasa

Developed by the father of Hatha Yoga, T. Krishnamacharya in the early 20th century and popularized by his student, K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India, the practice was named for the eight-limbed (literally, ashta-anga) path outlined in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali in the second century CE. It is through this committed hatha yoga practice of Ashtanga Yoga that each limb can eventually blossom and unfold, leading to Self liberation.

What should you expect when you come to the mat for an Ashtanga practice? You will do the same exact postures every time, beginning with Sun Salutations A & B, then standing postures, then seated postures (if you’re doing the primary series. There are actually six series, with the last series including mind-blowing displays of what the human body may be capable of) and last are inversions and finishing postures. Sound boring? Well this practice is anything but that. Filled with numerous vinyasas, or flows, challenging binds, arm balances, hip openers, and most importantly an emphasis on pranayama and drishtis, or focal points, the practice can challenge your focus and commitment like no other practice.

While it’s definitely fun to notice how your body evolves as you do the same asanas at every practice, one can easily forget that we should not be fulfilled by the feats of body contortion and physical strength. The practice offers a myriad of postures from accessible to challenging, from the ones we love to the ones we aren’t too hot on. We cannot avoid running into ourselves—our frustrations, our elations, our falls, our accomplishments—and it takes a concentrated mind to not get caught up in the emotions that might accompany the development of your physical practice. Pattabhi Jois said it best: “It would be a shame to lose the precious jewel of liberation in the mud of ignorant body building.”

It’s hard to believe that Pattabhi Jois didn’t place any emphasis on the physical body when he, as a teacher, would not allow a student to advance beyond the posture that he/she was not able to get completely into. What does that mean? Basically, if you couldn’t quite meet the demands of a physical posture, that’s where your practice ended that day. Seems counterintuitive to the previously mentioned quote from the master, however, he wanted to emphasize that the limitations we inevitably encounter in our body are actually a mirror of the personal limitations and mental blocks that stop us from experiencing real freedom and personal contentment. As we move past these physical blocks through our practice the higher consciousness is revealed so we can eventually separate our ego from that being.

Studnets practice Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore, India.

Studnets practice Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore, India.

To help keep our focus on our inner development and not the external, there is the deliberate incorporation of what student of Pattabhi Jois, David Swenson, calls “The Internal World,” which consists of breath, locks, flow and gaze, or prana, bandha, vinyasa and drishti, to guide us through this moving meditation. The sound of the breath is your mantra, the rhythm that keeps a single pointed focus for the mind. The locks and bandhas assimilate the prana or life force and help feed the subtle body and balance the gross nervous system. Flowing through the postures becomes a physical dance that connects our body with the music of the breath. And while the drishti connotes the fixation of our vision on an external point, it reaffirms our attention to the subtle or internal aspects of our practice.

As a rapidly increasing number of people are drawn to the practice of yoga, different styles will continue to emerge to meet the growing demands of the “yoga marketplace.” Although we can appreciate how accommodating this entire practice of yoga is, it’s comforting to know that the direct Krishnamacharya lineage will not be forgotten through the Ashtanga Yoga practice. Yes, the postures and the flow are mesmerizing and visually stimulating to a passer-by, but the progression of the mind and ultimately the spiritual path can be life-changing to the practitioner. Like the postures themselves, the deep benefit of this authentic yogic process may not reveal its extent all at once. It is through repetition, discipline, focus and compassion that all will be revealed.

We invite you to try out this sacred practice each Sunday morning at 8:00am & Thursday evenings at 5:45pm. Come explore the challenges of the body, but most importantly, the mind.

Krishnamacharya, Utthita Parsvakonasana

T. Krishnamacharya in Utthita Parsvakonasana

Ashtanga Opening Chant

om
vande gurunam charanaravinde
sandarsita svatmasukhava bodhe
nihsreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halahala mohasantyai
abahu purusakaram
sankhacakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
pranamami patanjalim
om

Translation

I bow to the lotus feet of the Gurus
The awakening happiness of one’s own Self revealed
Beyond better, acting like the Jungle physician
Pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword
One thousand heads white
To Pantanjali, I salute.

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Munchkin & Me — A 4-Week Session, Saturdays in March, for 3-5 year olds

Munchkin & Me Yoga

with your 3-5 year old

A 4-week session, every Saturday in March from 12:00-1:00pm

Dates:

March 7th

March 14th

March 21st

March 28th

Cost:

$72.00 for the entire session. Sorry, no drop-ins

Kids Yoga with Mel TothCome explore yoga with your 3-5 year old with the enthusiastic Mel Toth who brings a wealth of playful ideas for sharing yoga with your child. Each session includes partner poses and group activities to foster connection and cooperation, as well as yoga-themed story time and alphabet coloring handouts to reinforce print awareness and listening skills. Body and breath awareness are interwoven throughout, culminating in a guided relaxation for you and your child at the end of each class.

Space is limited, so please reserve your spot below.


I’d like to register




AcroYoga Weekly Meet-Up — Sundays, 6:30-7:30pm

We’re happy to announce that we are now hosting a weekly Acro-Yoga meetup!

Every Sunday from 6:30-7:30 P.M.

By donation. All levels welcome. No experience necessary.

All proceeds will go toward funding the meet-up itself.

What is AcroYoga?

Displaying IMG_3951.JPGIt’s partner yoga that uses elements of yoga, acrobatics, and Thai Yoga Massage. It’s delightfully adventurous and healing all at once. It’s performed in groups of three: a base, a flyer, and a spotter. We’ll alternate roles so that everyone gets a chance in every role.

What’s the format?

This is an informal meet-up. A teacher will be present to oversee the group. We’ll choose between three and five poses from the AcroYoga Manual to practice each week. We can lead and assist you if you need guidance or you can be self-guided. Come by yourself, or bring a friend. You can work with your partner exclusively, or we can mix it up.

IMG_3984 Questions?

E-mail us at info@theyogahouseny.com

 

 

 

 

 

photo 1AcroYoga at The Yoga House, Yoga Kingston, NY Hudson Valley

AcroYoga Kingston New York The Yoga House Hudson Valley

January Focus of the Month – Quelling Thought Waves: Inhabiting the Body

meditation, body, thought, now, present, beQuelling Thought Waves: Inhabiting the Body

Have you ever had a moment when you felt perfectly at peace? when time seemed to stop? when duties, obligations, and worry fell by the wayside leaving you whole and unfettered, happy and free?

For too many of us, these moments happen only rarely, briefly, or never at all.

It’s likely that you can recall moments like this from childhood before you were bound by the weight of to-do lists, dependents, and the constraints of time. In adulthood, we have to work much harder to find the same kind of glimpses into perfect peace.

Thankfully, yoga offers us a handbook for rediscovering (or discovering!) this sense of boundless play. In the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali states that “Yoga is the cessation of fluctuations of the mind,” the idea being that the mind, despite our belief to the contrary, is more likely to cloud our consciousness than it is to clarify and illuminate it.

In Sanskrit, the sutra (#2) reads: Yoga chitta vrtti nirodha.

Chitta is the stuff of the mind; consciousness; or the subconscious. Vrtti means whirpool but can be thought of as disturbances of consciousness; mental content; or thoughts. Vrtti is the turbulent cloud cover that obscures the purity and brilliance of consciousness. Nirodha is annihiliation or ending.

In their commentary on the Sutras, Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood quip that most of us – though we would love to believe that our minds are lucid, organized, and productive – are in reality walking around thinking superfluous, haphazard thoughts like: “‘Ink-bottle… Jimmy’s trying to get my job. Mary says I’m fat. Big toe hurts. Soup good….’”

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle also claims that the mind does not serve us in the way we would like to think it does, calling it “the greatest obstacle to enlightenment.” He points out that the mind is more likely than not, in any given moment, to be fretting about the past or anticipating some catastrophic event in the imagined future that will never actually take place. Rare is the person who can still her thought-waves and simply be. He offers advice for connecting with the body in order to silence the chatter of the mind, recommending that we first get in touch with the feeling of being in the body: “Is there life in your hands, arms, legs, and feet…? Can you feel the subtle energy that pervades the entire body and gives vibrant life to every organ and every cell?” Absorption in embodiment, he suggests, is a gateway to the present moment, which is always perfect and just as it should be (even when it isn’t).

emotions

Yoga too prescribes methods for quieting the mind which all involve, eventually, inhabiting the body exactly as it is, in this moment, without judgment or unnecessary discernment.

At its best, asana practice immerses us so fully in the coordination of movement that we forget, if momentarily, whatever troubles, plagues, or excites us. But it isn’t enough. If you’ve ever attempted a balancing sequence after a meal, or when you were under the weather, or really ever at all, you have probably experienced frustration and disappointment while doing yoga. Maybe you registered a dull level of grief or embarrassment when you toppled over or wobbled to and fro. If so, you’re not alone! Nearly everyone experiences these thought waves on the mat. On the other end of the spectrum, you may have felt victory, relief, joy, or pride when you executed a challenging posture without falling out of it. Positive thoughts are just as distracting as negative, says Patanjali, because they feed the egoic mind. The yogis say that we must learn to quell even these pleasurable thought waves if we are to truly master the mind.

So, if asana isn’t enough to bring our thought waves under control, what else can we do? Yoga offers at least three more strategies. One is to focus on the breath as we execute asana. At first, try using a visualization for the purpose of calling all of your attention to the breath. Common visualization are: ocean waves crashing and receding as the breath comes in and out; or a movement of light and energy up and down the body’s central channel as you inhale and exhale. After breathing steadily with the visualization for a time, release the visual and continue the breath, allowing your inhalations and exhalations to sync with the expansion and contraction of your body in a nearly automatic way. It takes much practice to find peace and easy coordination of breath and movement in the practice of yoga, but it comes.

Drishti, asana, Ardha_urdhwa_bhujangasana

Another method of stilling the mind during asana practice (or during vinyasa, which is the harmony of breath and movement), is to make use of drishti points, or focal points. New yoga practitioners are most commonly introduced to the use of drishti in balance poses. We find that by staring at a still point on the floor or on a wall, we can better focus on steadying our posture. Later in the practice, we find drishti points in nearly every pose: at our thumb in Half Moon Pose, for instance; at the navel in Downward Dog; down the nose in Camel; or at the third-eye center in Lotus. The drishtis do not have to be fixed but can shift and alter as the practice evolves. Still, they are always there to offer a point upon which all thought can converge. Eventually, we become charioteers who masterfully reign in our scattered thoughts and stay the course toward full consciousness.

Another method by which we can master the mind is via the senses. You can practice being in your body by sitting or lying still and simply noting the sensory input that arises: a dampness or coolness on your skin; a low buzz in your ear that disappears as you remain still; a certain acidity in your digestive tract; a sweet taste on your tongue; flashes of red and black as you sit with eyes closed. Sure, it takes mental processing to register sensory input, but the trick here is to take note without chasing the associations and judgments that arise. Notice when you start thinking in a way that brings you out of the moment, like: “This smell reminds me of that time when…” (past consciousness); “This acid reflux must be from when I ate such and such…” (past consciousness); “I hate sitting still…” (ego consciousness); “I have this and that to do which are far more important…” (future consciousness; judgment). Bring yourself back to the now as often as you need to. Our synapses won’t ever stop firing, but we can exercise the control we do have by silencing the white noise.

Ultimately, the yoga practice, extending beyond the mat, becomes a meditative immersion. At first, we experience brief, enticing glimpses of consciousness unsullied. With practice and dedication, our experience of embodiment without the jostle and tug of a mental narrative begins to happen more and more frequently. As we continue the climb toward illumination, the sense of struggle dissipates. We find that the mind is a companion and not a rambunctious distraction. The present begins to absorb us. The moment is just as it should be. We are consciousness embodied, and that is the essence of yoga.

Peace!