A swan appeared to me in Kundalini Yoga

•May 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today’s class was to build intuitive faculties. This is an ability all humans have but lays dormant in many. In those who have it and know it, it’s often pushed into dormancy by ignoring it, not believing in it, or feeling cursed by it (I was one of these people and am now in the process of healing my intuitive powers).

We did two sets: one for the pituitary gland, as represented by the third eye point (6th chakra, its color is royal blue), which is the seat of intuition, and one for creating and conserving prana (life force) energy.

One of our first exercises was to assume a lunge pose and do breath of fire for about a minute while “seeing into” our future, literally lifting our gaze (eyes closed or open) and staring deep into our third eye point and seeing what comes.

I saw many things but the one that suprised me the most was a swan. A swan? I don’t even really “like” swans. They’ve never been an animal I felt any particular way about. I certainly never felt drawn to them as an animal totem as I do to the owl or the frog. So the vision of a swan in the midst of breath of fire was certainly bewildering.

Just a few days ago I found a site that has compiled a decent amount of symbolism about animal totems. When I got home, something reminded me about my swan visitation, so I decided to look it up and was amazed by what I found.

Swans represent grace, union, transformation, balance, dreams. Since they spend most of their time in water, usually building their nests at waterside, they also take on the symbolism of water: intuition, dreams, creativity, the subconscious. Finally, the swan represents harmony and balance as it exists seamlessly between three of the four elements: gliding along the water, flying through the skies, and nesting on earth. I was further blown away to find out that the swan represents divine partnership in Hinduism where the swan is the Hamsa bird, or two swans, Ham and Sa, float around “living on honey from the blooming lotus of knowledge.”

I am feeling my intuition growing throughout my Yoga Teacher Training and the puja we performed on May 14th, the night after the New Moon in Taurus (for which I also did some rituals at home) seems to have kicked it into overdrive.

I can’t recall ever thinking of a swan before. Sure I have seen them before, but I have not thought of a swan in ages, maybe ever.

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Should I change the name of my blog?

•May 13, 2010 • 1 Comment

I have before. This blog was originally called Metropolitan Observer, then I changed it to Midnight in the Garden State (for when I moved to New Jersey). Then I changed it back to Metropolitan Observer, but I’m feeling the yen to change it again.

I chose “medianoche” as the name of this blog, which means “midnight” in Spanish, because a) I like the word and b) midnight is a special time, a time of transition from one day to the next, and is also, when taken literally, the “middle” of the night, implying (in literal sense) an in-between state. Those in-between states fascinate me. I think the conceptual bent of “midnight,” as the in-between place or the transitional place, could be easily applied to what I tend to be blogging about most these days: yoga, meditation, musings on the devotional path, self-inquiry, etc.

I haven’t figured out in what form “midnight” would play in the title. It won’t change the URL, just literally the title of this blog. And then I could change the picture too.

What sayest you?

Oh, my aching psoas!

•May 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The psoas muscle is not one most people think about, or even know about! But having spent the last two months in an awesome yoga teacher training, I know about muscles I didn’t even know existed! The psoas being one of them. It is a deep muscle that essentially attaches your upper body to your lower body. It starts on your last thoracic vertebrae and attaches to the following four lumbar vertebra. If what I just wrote sounds like Greek to you, the psoas attaches deep within the body, behind your rectus abdominus (the 6-pack muscle), to your middle/lower spine.

Shaped like a hammock or a sickle, it is a spirilic muscle, meaning it spirals. Paula says it is a feminine muscle. In me, today, it is a REALLY sore and stiff muscle. And when psoas is tight, lordosis, or swayback, happens, which I have right now. I’m a mess.

I have this because in kundalini class on Tuesday, one of the kriyas involved scissor kicks for four minutes. I could’ve plugged in more and used my abdominals instead of my psoas (hip flexor) to lift my legs, but when you’re in the throes of kundalini, working through a weird kriya with the intention of releasing negative energy, well psoas be damned! there are more important things to attend to!

But I’m paying for it a bit today. I’m walking funny, I get stiffer the longer I sit at my desk, and I can’t WAIT for yoga tonight to bring some much needed attention to this very stiff part of my body right now. I’ll be doing a restorative class, actually, which holds poses for much longer than in a regular yoga class. I need that extended time in poses to help release this tension. Any movement will be good, but I’ll really benefit from the parasympathetic response that the restorative practice will induce. It’ll also chill me out supremely (parasympathetic response = relaxation response) which is just great as tonight at 9:04pm, we go into New Moon in Taurus and I will appreciate being grounded and calm for my bath-and-gratitude ritual (soak in a bath of sea salt/apple cider vinegar and make a list of 10 things you are grateful for).

Taurus Moon helps us get more in touch with emotional attitudes around abundance. If you are having blockages towards prosperity (however you define that and “what” you are prosperous around), Taurus New Moon is a great time to set an intention for being receptive to abundance! I clearly have an abundance of psoas energy right now, but I am grateful, because I received this due to the determination I practiced kriyas with on Tuesday :)

For more info on the psoas, check out this video on MyYogaOnline.com, a cool site with good information for yogis, yoga teachers, anatomy freaks, etc.

Kundalini Yoga vs. The Mind (Chitta Vritti) in a Heavyweight Showdown!

•May 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In the battle for supremacy of my vibrational state, Kundalini Yoga is currently reigning 2-0 over the former heavyweight champ, The Mind. What will happen next in this showdown of showdowns, between two equally formidable competitors? Stay tuned until next Tuesday, when we do it again at Reflections Yoga with Rainer Perry (6pm, in case anyone’s interested).

In the red corner, we have the undisputed master of most, omnipresent with an incredibly effective subliminal marketing campaign that has resulted in the domination of billions of people the world over: THE MIND! This competitor is as wily as he is tenacious. Resistant to self-help books, psychotherapy, excessive consumerism, alcohol, drugs, sex, recreation, vacations, money, and religion, The Mind has ruled this weight class for millenia, actually, for the entire existence of humanity! That’s some record. This pugilist doesn’t just beat challengers to his throne (your mind), but he even beats his very own throne (your mind) into submission! And he beats it with his own self! How’s that for effective ground cover and effective use of resources all rolled into one?! Sheesh, the military probably consults with this guy because he beats even himself and STILL keeps on going.

The Mind is unrelenting, uncompromising, and never takes a vacation. He’s in training year-round, day in, day out, and only taken out of the ring when he’s between rounds, or  momentary conditions like coma, fainting, drug/alcohol-induced black outs, or orgasm. But within no time, he’s back on his feet, before the bell even rings to signal the next round! Who dare challenge his dominion over your life?!

In the blue corner, we have the challenger. An equally ancient yet far less-known contestant, this pugilist has kept his name out of the papers and off the bookie’s sheets. He’s known for being an unorthodox fighter, switching up his style and pulling from literally thousands of his time-worn techniques. What he’s lacking in popularity, he makes up for in incredible strength and stamina, not to mention his showmanship which, if it doesn’t win over his observers, at least it gets them wondering “what the heck is that?!” Ladies and germs, in the blue corner, the challenger: KUNDALINI YOGA!

This prize-winning fight will undoubtedly go the full 12 rounds. In fact, ladies and germs, it could go your ENTIRE LIFETIME, and the lifetimes of your children, and your children’s children, and their children. Ladies and germs, this is a battle of EPIC proportions, between the popular and dynastic champion THE MIND against the formidable competitor, the little known, shrouded in mystery, and deadly effective KUNDALINI YOGA.

Let’s get ready to RUMMMMMMBLE!!!!!

(crowd roars)

=

We’ll be replaying the most recent exciting battle between these two titans in a later blog post. In the meantime, please open your programs to the following page to read up on Kundalini Yoga’s first training session at the Gym of Lola’s Being!

And don’t forget to tune in later, or next week, or both!

BATTLE FOR SUPREMACY OF YOUR VERY VIBRATIONAL EXISTENCE!!! Who will be the victor? Nothing less than the future of humanity is concerned here. Make sure you get your tickets early, reserve your parking spot, take the day off from work. This is one fight you sure don’t wanna miss!

What’s Your Fairy Name?

•May 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment
I’ll take Bramble Rainbowwitch. I like bringing fortune. And existing in enchanted moments.
Your fairy is called Bramble Rainbowwitch
She is a fortune bringer.
She lives in leafy dells and bluebell glades.
She is only seen in the enchanted moment between sleep and waking.
She wears bluebell-blue dresses. She has multicoloured wings like a butterfly.

Summer solstice yoga in Times Square 2010

•May 8, 2010 • 1 Comment

stillness can be found anywhere. let yoga show you the way.

If you can find stillness in the midst of one of the noisiest, most crowded, most frantic intersections in all of New York, then you have tasted one (or all) of the three final limbs of yoga as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), samadhi (absorption). The opportunity to experience one-pointed focus in the midst of myriad distractions will be put on public display on Monday, June 21st, 2010: this year’s date for Times Square Alliance’s annual Solstice in Times Square.

At the intersection of Broadway & 7th Avenues between 46th & 47th Streets, hundreds of yogis will sun salute in honor of the solstice (and all the wonderful benefits of yoga, or whatever their personal intention may be). There are several classes offered, but you have to pre-register, and teachers from NYC studios (including my own, Reflections Yoga) will be offering the solstice classes.

Solstice yoga in Times Square is a beautiful way to bring in the summer season. As traffic whizzes by, tourists ooh and ahh, and all manner of activity, noise, and visual stimuli abound, lessons of creativity, flexibility, spontaneity, and community can be had. Sometimes practicing in an unexpected location and in an unexpected way can stretch you in ways you couldn’t have imagined. At the very least it will be lots of fun!

Sanity in Hollywood courtesy of Robert Downey Jr.

•May 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As one of my favorite Kahlil Gibran quotes goes, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. The selfsame well from which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

Perhaps Robert Downey Jr.’s problems with drug addiction and the law put him in a place where he too might appreciate Gibran’s quote. As exhibit A, check out what he said about the premier of his new film Iron Man 2  being moved from London to LA: “I love the idea of someone taking the volcano personally. I know that would be a very Hollywood actor ego thing to do. But I didn’t. I’m too well psychologically, I’m afraid.”

Too well. I’m afraid.

Hollywood’s gossip mill, actually, all of Western celebrity culture, runs on the psychologically un-well. Lindsey Lohan’s run-ins with the law for DUIs and her unlikely stories about sobreity; freak of nature “Octomom” in photo shoots for her octuplets 1st birthday (a bizarre sight); Tiger Woods’ evident issue with monogamy and forthrightness; the more sleazy and twisted, the better for our bottomless appetite for other’s misfortunes.

Exhibit B. On the idea of a “comeback,” Robert Downey Jr. speaks on fellow actor Mickey Rourke, who was also slapped with the “comeback” label by Hollywood: “He is a very emotive guy who’s lived a lot of life. I don’t get the comeback thing. People sometimes get sick and separate from the pack and get better and turn into something else. It’s just evolution. Or, they die in the river. It’s no mystery.”

Separate from the pack. Turn into something else. It’s just evolution. No mystery.

Wow.

This is the kind of sanguine talk that ought to be what role models are made of. Instead we have attention-starved, drug fueled starlets and starlots plastering the check out aisles at supermarkets.

Sounds like Robert Downey Jr. has definitely learned from the difficulties in his life. He sounds a bit Buddhist, like he used things falling apart as perfect teachers for his personal, spiritual growth.

Hollywood has so many troubled people — rich, ubiquitous and gorgeous, but troubled — that this sort of talk could actually lead to more inner reflection in the general public instead of the the messages typically emerging from Hollywood: cookie-cutter lifestyles marked by excessive consumption, attention-seeking behavior that is usually self-destructive, and relationships that combust as quickly as they sparked, likely driven by a potent fuel of lust, ego, and dependency.