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Belonging

by Octavio Salvado.

Belonging is an essential part of being human, a fundamental thread that weaves together some of the sweetest moments of our strange little lives. It has taken me a long time to figure this out and even now, it terrifies me. Because being a soloist is so much easier, there is a lot more room to hide.

In my twenties and early thirties i used my practice as a means to sidestep facing up to the fear of being fully seen. I felt imperfect and unworthy of being accepted for my totality. After all, i was a yoga teacher! Weren’t they meant to be flawless?

So rather than risk the pain of humiliation, i hid inside meditation and mantra, early nights and internal judgements until i did a fairly remarkable job of building myself an impenetrable fortress. The only issue was that i accidentally built mirrors all along the interior walls, so every time i closed my eyes, all i saw was myself. Fantastic irony isn’t it? But thats the thing about meditation. It works.

The more i sat and truly looked, the more i saw how afraid i was, how much i desperately wanted more connection in my life, more community, more love and that secretly I longed to feel the deeper sense of belonging that exists below the shallow waters of just fitting in. Fitting in is easy. Belonging takes real courage.

I think what it comes down to for a lot of us, is shame. A feeling that our authentic, unrefined selves aren’t worthy of acceptance. So we hide, we Tweet, we Facebook, we touch up our photos and botox our faces. Shame is a big word. Its hard to vocalize, let alone claim. Yet almost paradoxically its in the vulnerable owning of it that the door to real connection unsticks and opens up.

There’s a beautiful (and brutal, as shame stories usually are) story from the Puranas that speaks about one man’s shame and his resulting public decapitation. Its a Shiva myth. A good one.

Daksha is the father of Goddess, Sati who has chosen the unconventional, yet completely authentic Lord Shiva as her husband. Shiva is like the girl at the party who’s wearing a t-shirt with fluorescent green geckos stitched all over it and for some reason is carrying a kettle. Although you’re unquestionably curious, surely its not going to go unnoticed by the hipsters if you strike up a conversation. So what do you do? You do nothing. You play it safe.

Thats exactly what Daksha does. Rather than risk his reputation, he hides the fact that his daughter has chosen to wed the long haired, mostly naked, ash-smeared, skull carrying yogi. Dear Lord! What would the Jones’s say? This is what we do whenever we pretend we’re not hurting when actually we are. When we say we’re fine but actually we’re falling apart and seriously need a hug, or when we have a drug problem or an eating disorder or some other skeleton in the closet that we’re too ashamed and afraid to speak up about.

The result is never good, particularly if what we’re actually craving is to connect and feel a genuine sense of being held and supported by a collective, by a community existing beyond the shores of the little island we’ve escaped to.

There’s many elements to this story, however i’ll jump right to the point. Sati, the feminine principle representing our prana, our vitality makes a rather dramatic statement and publicly throws herself on the sacrificial fire. This is the depletion of our energy, health issues, think exhaustion as a result of the supreme effort it takes to carry on an identity facade, particularly a public one. Shiva who is authenticity, but also the highest aspect of our awareness will only tolerate self deception and self sabotage for so long before stepping in. Im not sure if you noticed, but life is self correcting that way. One way or another it always moves towards balance. We can make the adjustments ourselves, or they will be made for us.

Daksha chooses to play his hand and hope for the best. It doesn’t end well. In fact, it ends with his head on a stake. It ends with a public and painful leveling. It ends, as it usually does – all coming to light in the bright, uncompromising, unflinching glow of unavoidable transparency.

The good news is, eventually Sati is reborn as the divine yogini, Parvati and once more unites with her Eternal Love, Shiva. Consciousness and energy, beliefs and vitality absent of shame and fear are once again free to fill the world with a love born of authentic connection. As it should be.

We say we want connection, we say we want community, but what are we willing to show for it? Because nothing less than everything will suffice. True belonging first requires radical authenticity, to ourselves and to others, otherwise the best we can do is fit in, and there’s no real love in that… only likes and follows.

The path of Yoga has taught me that. So have the honesty and often painful reflections of my friends and my amazing partner. That if we want it all, we have to be willing to risk it all. Before we can move outwards, we first have to move inwards.

In the dark little corners of our mind, real courage is born. Armed with that, we can reveal our totality – our ugliness, our fear, our imperfections as well as all of the ways we shine and contribute. We are never going to be perfect. Not perfect people, perfect partners, perfect parents or perfect yogis. But we are still worthy of love and belonging. We all still deserve community in our lives.

Nevertheless, community is not something we get for free. We have to earn it.

Im learning that.

Practicing with the right attitude, the right intention, getting humble enough to ask for the right kind of help, meeting others as we truly are – fear, shame, insecurities and all, are the first steps. Because even though it may seem the contrary, community, connection and love are not born and do not exist outside of ourselves.

Like everything else worth living for, the epicentre of belonging is deep inside.

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Principles of The Practice

by Octavio Salvado.

Life certainly looks complicated, just as physical reality certainly looks physical.

In both cases however, subscribing to these ideas simply indicates that Maya has you by the balls.

From the vantage point of Yoga, Maya is the concealing force that covers the truth of the way things are with an illusory veil. We don’t like to admit it, but most of the time it’s for our own damn good. Flashback to Arjuna, chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita who has his tender little mind blown after demanding that Krishna remove the curtain and gift him a vision of the Undifferentiated Absolute. It’s too much for Arjuna, far too much at once. So Maya is a shield as much as a sheath, a blessing as much as a covering.

Regardless, the point is, things are rarely as they appear. Reality, as science is now proving is vibratory in nature and notphysical like we once believed. Likewise, life isn’t, or doesn’t have to be that complex either. It’s just a case of simple mathematics, and whether we are talking about taking care of our health, nurturing our relationships or laying down the guiding principles to build a thriving business, there is only one meaningful equation to attend to and one final digit to arrive at – The number 9.

These are the secret teachings of the almost forgot science of Yantra Yoga. The peripheral science of Yantra deals with Mandalas and pretty pictures in sand, shimmering images on the backs of new-age T-shirts, yet underneath all that is a numerical code that holds the entire cosmos in place and governs every single aspect of our ordinary, everyday, absolutely incredible human lives.

Yantra is such a beautiful word, so potent in meaning. In Sanskrit, when a word ends in ‘tra’, as in man-tra, it is typically an indication that the thing itself has the capacity to protect. From one stand point, Mantra means ‘mind protection’, which is why it is considered a safe way to awaken our energy and peel back the layers of mind. Pranayama on the other hand, which does not end in ‘tra’, has a higher likelihood of disturbing the mind if not approached in the right way or facilitated by a skilled teacher.

Yantra is often translated as ‘Holding Device’, therefore, a holding device that protects reality from falling into chaos. Yantra is the mathematical blueprint behind everything, a combination of forces co-existing and inter-relating giving us the contextual field called life that allows us to play out our karmas and manifest our highest visions and sometimes our nightmares. When these forces are in balance, things naturally evolve towards the highest expression possible given the situation.

Personally, I am a product and student of Tradition. I love my teachers and likewise possess a deep gratitude for their teachers and the wisdom brought forward from some long-ago era of exquisite depth and understanding. The following is a map handed down to those who care to peer beyond the veil.

Simply stated, this universe and everything in it is governed by 9 fundamental forces. These forces run through life in every conceivable way, from the unfolding of our bodies on their journey from seed to death, to the orbits of planets as they hurl themselves around the Sun. Even our thoughts becoming words and then manifested realities move through an energetic flow chart which can be tracked from its source to its destiny along 9 single points.

Six of these forces have specific pooling points along the human spinal column where the nervous system bundles together into clusters called nerve ganglia. Here, they directly affect the way we show up in the world because they impact our glandular system and therefore the chemicals that get released into our bodies. When these forces are in balance, we are in balance, our beliefs, our thoughts, our words, our actions, our health, our relationships, our finances, our endeavors, everything. The system is protected, allowing it to thrive.

Forces 7, 8 and 9 are subtler and less tangible than the other 6 and although the essence of each can be found in everything, they have more to do with the contextual field through which the other 6 operate and co-mingle. In the Science of Tantra Yoga, forces 7,8 and 9 are considered ‘higher’ universal energies that exist outside the body, creating the stadium where the game of life can be played out.

To bring it down to the personal, right here in this moment, I am perched on the cusp of opening a community center for yoga and evolutionary learning on the Island of the Gods, Bali. To say that my wildest dream is coming alive before my eyes is a radical understatement. The game is ON. Therefore, to keep things balanced and protected I repeatedly turn my attention to the wisdom of the 9 forces; what the ancient Mayans referred to as the 9 Lords of Time and the Tantrikas understood as the energies of the Chakras. In this way I give the project every opportunity to flourish and follow its natural course, becoming the fullest expression of what I know it is capable of becoming.

A few days ago my Business mentor, Carl asked me to develop the ‘Guiding Principles’ of the business, the things that ‘The Practice’ will live and breathe by, so naturally I went straight to the underlying map of everything to construct a game plan.

Here they are, the guiding principles of The Practice Bali numbers 1 – 9. The first 6 relate more to our everyday operations and motivations, the final 3 are loftier, grander intentions. We may not post these on Facebook or paste them on the studio walls, yet you can count on them being there, as a part of the environment, as a part of the atmosphere that we breathe together.

1) Integrity. You can have confidence in the integrity of what we offer. We are dependable. The yoga system from which The Practice springs is connected to a lineage unbroken for thousands of years. Everything we do, from teaching yoga to cleaning floors will be infused with this same integrity and respectfulness.

2) Community. We are open-minded and community spirited. Our doors are wide open to everyone. Look forward to free Community classes and regular events beyond the yoga schedule that bring people together to share ideas, laughter, music and more.

3) Leadership. We strive to be positive role models within the local and global communities. We are leaders in the field, risk takers, freedom lovers, doers that make shit happen. We want to contribute to raising the bar in regards to practice and teaching standards worldwide.

4) Service. The currents of compassion and generosity will carry us out into the world. We are here to serve. Community outreach programs and charity events will be a focus.

5) Studentship. We are progressive because we are always learning and growing, never satisfied that we have all the answers. We are humble truth seekers and transparent truth speakers, no bullshit, no fluff. We own our flaws and strive for growth in all areas.

6) Mindfulness. Bringing both perspective and awareness to everything we do. At all times we endeavor to respond from our highest place, where our hearts and our minds connect.

7) Harmony. Within our self, with each other, with the local Balinese community, with the environment, with the planet, we work towards sustainable, harmonic relationships in every way.

8) Gratitude. We recognize the incredible privilege that it is to be here – to have these bodies, to have these lives, these finances, the gift of yoga, all of our teachers and the opportunity to serve and make a difference in the world. Every moment we are giving thanks for these opportunities and gifts.

9) Universal Trust. We surrender. We trust that we are here for a purpose and that we are guided along the way. We trust in our own and each other’s capacities and when things get challenging, our trust in the universe will keep us positive, calm, grateful and in harmony with ourselves and all those around us.

These principles will be our measurements. They represent both our support beams and our guiding lights as we bring forth our vision into the world, keeping it safe as it blooms open towards fruition.

There is nothing new here, as Carl says, “No point reinventing the wheel,” because after all, there is only one system to govern everything, our business lives, our personal lives, our spiritual lives, everything. This is why you can affect your kidneys by pressing parts of your foot, or points on the lobes of your ears. Everything that exists in one place, must as a byproduct of reality, also exists and be accessible in all other places. Like a child’s ‘color by numbers’ activity book, all we have to do is learn the codes, grab the markers and create our own picture of beauty, because the reality is, life was always meant to be that way.

Beautiful.

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Hanuman: The Promises We Keep

by Octavio Salvado.

We are as good as the promises we make. We are as great as the promises we keep. Hanuman is many things, yet above all else he is our own deeply committed self, reflected back to us, mythically.

We are losing the capacity to get mythic with our minds and as a result, the opportunity to embrace greater depth and freedom in our practices and lives. Myth is not simply about entertainment, or even about culture, the role of Myth is more important than that. It is a powerful tool of self-study, designed to engage our hearts and minds simultaneously and help us to see ourselves more honestly, with more acceptance and most of all, as more intimately connected to the fragile beauty of the collective human experience than perhaps we once thought.

In India there are over 300 million Deities, each with their own story, own triggers, tendencies, vulnerabilities, joys and strengths. From the perspective of mythic consciousness, every single one of these faces reflects back to us something about ourself. Every word that passes their lips, a code language whispered to our psyche, reminding us of how utterly marvelous, complex and multidimensional we are.

Of them all, Hanuman is the quintessential mythic being and for the Yogi, by far the most interesting and important. For his journey, straight through the center of the Epic adventure, The Ramayana is our own journey deep into the heart of practice. More loyal, devoted, courageous, capable, playful and humble than any other character in the story, Hanuman invites us to show up in every single moment, both on and off the mat, ready for anything, ready to embrace life and engage wholeheartedly with whatever situation is being presented. As Hanuman, we are ready to stand up for what we hold dear to our hearts and fight to overcome what blocks the path that bridges our personal and spiritual lives together.

Hanuman is the Yogi, and yoga quite simply, is that bridge between worlds. Approached with unwavering commitment, the theatre of practice offers us very similar opportunities and struggles as the theatre of life. The magnitude is different, as are the consequences, yet when we step to the mat with utter devotion to the task at hand, the qualities required to skillfully navigate it are the same – courage and humility in equal proportions, because facing fear and overcoming it as well as facing our limitations and accepting them are an inbuilt, unavoidable part of the path. No way to side step it. Every class, every pose, every breath is a new adventure.

Sita, Rama, Hanuman, even the ten-headed demon, Ravana are all part of that inner adventure told as myth, outwards. When Rama ‘loses’ Sita in the forest, it is really ‘us’ losing our perspective, disconnecting from our inner self somewhere deep in the forest of life. The word ‘Sita’ means ‘to furrow’, meaning she is from the Earth. She arises from the Earth and at the end of the story, to the Earth she returns, unchanged. Sita is that part of us that does not change, the eternal Self, the Atman. Rama, our worldly self has lost her to the forest. Bills to pay, appointments to keep, we lose touch we what’s truly important. And so Rama, the Jivan – the embodied self has arrived at a critical juncture: The promise to ourselves we must make. The promise we must keep.

This is Yoga, a promise to our self. So when Rama meets Hanuman in the forest, symbolically this is the moment we stand up and firm ourselves in the decision to do the work that needs to be done. The story depicts this moment so beautifully. Rama overhears Hanuman making a vow, a promise to himself, “I WILL find Sita”. Such clarity. Such passion and conviction! Nothing else matters to Hanuman in that moment, and it is here, right here, if we look at the story with mythic eyes, that we see and embrace the opportunity to reclaim our lives. “THIS is who I am!! And THIS is what I will do!!” Hanuman is the recognition that we are all supremely capable and furthermore, that the entire world is our yoga mat, our lives lived, our spiritual practice.

Having overheard Hanuman, Rama goes to him, embraces him and hands him a golden ring, a metaphor for our worldliness making an offering, a commitment to our spiritual aspect. A promise made, and in the case of the Ramayana, a promise kept. Hanuman summons his power, overcomes his fears, his demons, finds Sita, does what needs to be done, yet does it all completely absent of pride, filled only with humility and devotion. This is what makes Hanuman impeccable, his ability to do great things and simultaneously remain completely ordinary. Hanuman shows us that the deeper we go into yoga, the more ordinary we must become. As ordinary as a monkey, as relatable as the most common man and avoid at all costs, getting ‘wrapped up’ in the story, wrapped up in the robes or changing our name to Swami.

Hanuman invites us to do exactly the opposite: get ordinary, simplify, get real, stay humble and when its time to, leap with everything that God gave us. When life calls on us to stand up for what we believe, then we must rise up against all odds, tear open our chest and let the light of courage and humility explode out, merge into one and consume everything we do. This is Hanuman.

His story is a tale of remembrance, a wake-up call to our fearless heart and an invitation to get ordinary, yet simultaneously, become more than we ever imagined.

***

SPECIAL THANKS to Noah Maze for all of his epically themed Hanuman practices and insights. JAI HANUMAN!!

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Never Not Broken

by Octavio Salvado.

Peering out from amid the 333 million divine and demonic faces of Mythic India, there is one whose reflection illuminates the path of yoga as ‘skill in action’ more thoroughly and wholeheartedly than the rest – Akhilandeshvari, the Goddess Never Not broken.

Her invitation is simple: Recognize that there are no full stops in life, or in yoga and that the long road of truth snakes on eternally. Meaning that we are always gifted the opportunity to refine ourselves and our authenticity and redefine our relationship to whatever experience life is presenting us with.

Sure, we do our best to impose completion on our endeavors. We make certificates of proficiency, of marriage and ownership and grant titles of authority to solidify a sense of finality but in the end, all becomes dust. The papers will burn or degrade and the particles that once seemed so firm will fall away only to be reconfigured and reborn as some new expression of this ever changing, never not broken Universe. Like bread, marriage must be remade each morning. Like a heartbeat, every asana must pulse with aliveness, constantly being broken apart and rebuilt with every new breath.

In this way the theatre of Life mirrors the arena of Practice. Within both contextual fields we are being called to step up and recognize that we are never not in the pose, never outside of a moment that deserves our deepest commitment to remain present. Life is falling apart? So what? Stay present. Can’t do the pose? So what? Stay present, do what you can do and do it with your whole heart. THAT is the essence yoga, the shape is just the environment, the ‘Dharmekshetra’, the field of Dharma where we are offered the privilege to come to know the inner turnings of our mind and through the alchemical blend of our own dedication and insight, potentially disrupt our habitual tendencies that cause us to show up in ways that do no justice to the truth of who we are and what we are capable of.

That is why the great master, Patanjali asserts at the very outset of his timeless Yoga Sutras, ‘Atha yoga nusasanam’ – The practice of yoga begins NOW! And NOW! And NOW! Because the practice never ends and despite what the self-help books say, Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes practice. The call to presence in other words, is our collective human dharma and there is nothing else. No big secrets, no hidden meanings. The answer is there in plain site of our radiant inner eye. Be present, be ready and know that our work is to smooth out all transitions both on and off the mat through the steady cultivation of moment-to-moment awareness until our destiny pulls us deep into the heart of its heart. Presence is where purpose is born. The in between spaces is where God lives. Bibles and Bhagavad Gitas, burn them all if they cause us to fixate on something singular, robbing us of the sweetness of extracting God from every single circumstance.

The truth is, I can no longer with any real conviction separate Life and Yoga. The gap has thinned and they now bleed into each other like streams of red and blue dye, staining the world permanently purple. This same stain afflicts the best students, not the one’s with the prettiest poses or the most online followers, but the ones whose eyes burn bright, blazing purple and whose breath echoes through class like a mantric breeze, seamless and humming. The best students are the one’s that show up, literally and figuratively. Even when they fall down, they show up. Even when their edge is met, especially when their edge is met and their triggers are firing, they show up. This is true Adikhara, true studentship.

Such a beautiful word, Adikhara, one that yields the ripest fruit once the hard shell has been pierced with an etymological blade. ‘Adi’ means ‘with respect to’ and ‘Khara’ comes from the root word ‘Kha’, which quite simply means ‘axel hole’. It is the space in the center of the wheel that allows things to turn. When things are turning smoothly it is called ‘su-kha’ and when the turnings are difficult, ‘du-kha’. So the literal translation of Adikhara is ‘with respect to the space between things’ or ‘with respect to the gap in the middle’.

When we pay attention to the gaps and the spaces between things, to all of those little details of our ordinary, everyday lives, we slip into the current, we become a student of Life and the yoga becomes whatever moment we find ourselves immersed in. When we get present and begin noticing all of the gorgeous eccentricities and nuances of our partner’s personality, or the way golden sunlight sometimes hits cloud tips after rain, or the exact way we place our toes when we step again and again to the top of the mat, then there is ‘Sukha’ and life turns with ease, with grace, with God. We have become Akhilandeshvari, the eternal adjuster, never complacent, never finished, forever refining our relationship to the moment by breaking down what we think we know and stepping vulnerable, raw, ready and willing into every new field of Now.

Because that is all there ever is, right now.

So my friends, spread and stretch your toes, firm your feet on the floor, deepen your breath…. and let the practice begin.

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For the Love of the Practice

by Octavio Salvado.

Practice is like gravity, it not only draws us closer to our center, it also arranges life magnetically so that the exact experiences we need in order to fulfill our spiritual reasons for being here, our Dharma, are drawn towards us.

There are ancient ways, secret ways largely lost to the world that use mathematics, geometry, times and dates to configure and systematically design a spiritual practice that personally aligns us to our Dharma, because behind the sheath of physicality exists a code, an entire world of frequencies dancing into being through their geometric and harmonic relationships. In other words, life can be calculated, because it is partly mathematical in nature. As a result, spiritual practices can be carefully cultured and tailor made so that the practitioner has the opportunity to ride these energetic currents and timelines into the spiritual depths of life typically not touched. However life is also poetic and unknowable, so there is more than one onramp to the Dharma Marga, our Life Path – the spiritual super highway connecting our mind, heart and action.

When I first felt the undeniable compulsion to teach yoga, and I knew that this was the path I would follow, alongside that knowing also came a sense of deep helplessness, because I had absolutely no idea where to begin or what to do. So I spoke to my teacher about it. His clear, wise words changed the course of my life. He said “Practice. Just practice.”

He told me not to worry about that whole ‘teaching’ story and just concentrate on my own practice. That in dedicating myself wholeheartedly, the right students and experiences would naturally be drawn towards me in just the right moment. He told me to become a gravitational force through my own self-efforts and then be patient, enjoy the space and use the time to cultivate a deep intimacy with my practices and plough the soil of my own heart to recover its deepest aspirations.

Then when I asked him ‘what’ I should practice he simply said, “Follow your joy”.

Mathematics and poetry. One part strategy, the other, ecstatic spontaneity. It’s been almost ten years since that conversation yet its still a powerful guiding force in my life. Practice, Practice and all is coming. Potent words from the late, great master, Pattabhi Jois. What practice? Simple. The one that shines the heart and sharpens the mind, the one that opens us up to the poetry and simultaneously helps us see the symmetry, finally gifting us the remembrance that these two fields of reference are the wings of the one bird. Our spiritual practices are the wings of our soul, necessary appendages for the flight of freedom that we are all destined to take. The teachers who guide us and share their wisdom, tools and spiritual luster are like that Mother bird, who gently pushes the shaky fledgling from the branch, tumbling at first, then managing, then gliding…. then soaring.

I thank God for my Teachers everyday. I thank God for my Practice everyday. And I thank myself everyday too, for showing up and doing the work, because dedicating time, energy and effort to Spiritual Practice, in whatever shape or form it takes is not easy. It takes an abundance of courage and humility in equal proportions because within that context of commitment we will confront our edges, daily. Physical edges, mental, emotional, social and spiritual edges, and those can be gritty moments.

That grit is by design. Its like Anna Forrest says, “Never waste a good trigger.” because in those moments we get to see ‘how we deal’, we get to meet our many faces and see our fascinating escape strategies. And that is very interesting. Yet what’s also interesting is seeing how the triggers lose their charge over time, slowly the mind stops jumping around like a monkey. That is why Patanjali in his 12th Sutra suggests that stilling the fluctuations of the mind is a twofold process: Practice plus the slow, steady cultivation of non-reactivity. No way to avoid it. It’s going to get wild in there! The mind will panic and try to hold fast inside secure walls of what is known and comfortable. However, settling for the safety of the shallows is not the way of the Yogi. The Yogi is the wild one. The Yogini is the one whose heart fire burns bright like the Sun. Sadhana or Spiritual practice, is for the one who is ready to become the crash test dummy of their own radical, brilliant life.

Be ready. It’s a long, often heartbreaking road. Yet what we need to remember is that we are built for this, engineered for awakening, designed to have experiences that break our heart, not in two, but wide open. Sometimes its the practice itself that opens us up, sometimes its life in her graciousness and ferocity and the practice is there to help us reassemble the pieces and continue forward through the wounding without losing hope, more raw, more vulnerable and expanded, ultimately more grateful for the preciousness of this human existence.

Either way, removing ourselves from the stream of daily life and dedicating sacred time to connect to our center and to the joy of our heart is a direct route to stepping beyond everyday consciousness and transforming old, worn out ways of being into tendencies that align us to our highest potential. Then, when we begin pulsing at our personal dharmic frequency, emitting a palpable, magnetic hum, we touch the full potential of spiritual practice: Sadhana as Seva, PRACTICE as SERVICE. Our edges blur, our skin becomes permeable and music spills out, healing vibrations ripple into our family life, the pulse slips into the community and triggers a cascade of events beyond our knowing and the world mysteriously gets brighter.

This is the power of the practice.

What are you waiting for?

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Featured Practice – Ubaya Hridaya Mudra

by Octavio Salvado.

This mudra is designed to evoke a deep sense of courage and at the same time, wash the nervous system with humility. In this way, the practitioner can move forward embodying pure equanimity and be ready to engage with any given moment with absolute presence, patience and when needed, passion.

‘Ubaya’ translates to fearless and ‘Hridaya’ is a reference to the deep spiritual core of our heart. It is not the physical heart that pumps blood through the body but rather the very source of our being, that untouchable essence that remains undisturbed by the fluctuations of our mind and all external factors. That is why at the beginning of practice it is helpful to engage this mudra and accompany it with deep, balanced breathing – Savitri Pranayama for example (Inhale 8, hold in 4, Exhale 8, Hold out 4) for 3 to 5 minutes, to prepare for the challenges and confrontations, internal and external we face throughout practice.

Over time, this ‘willingness’ to show up and engage wholeheartedly ripples outwards into everything we do. The practice on the mat becomes ‘the foundation’ for what we do off the mat. Yoga quite literally is the practice arena for the main event of LIFE and Ubaya Hridaya Mudra is a tool we can utilise to prepare us for the full spectrum of experience that we will undoubtedly encounter.

FROM ‘THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO’.

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you: as Albert Mondego, the Man! (The Yogi!)”

APPLICATION

From Anjali Mudra (prayer hands), separate your palms and cross your right wrist over the top of your left, then touch the backs of your hands together. Hook the pads of your index fingers together so that your right index finger is ‘closest’ to your body. Do the same ‘hooking’ with your middle fingers and pinkie fingers, leaving the thumbs and ring fingers free.

Join your thumbs and ring fingers of both of your hands together and then lightly draw the base of your right thumb knuckle to your sternum. Note: Often this mudra will cause a ‘rolling forward’ of the left shoulder. Be mindful of this and counter it by lifting your left shoulder up, moving it back and then settling your left shoulder blade down your back. If sitting for an extended time, keep this adjustment in mind and re-apply it as required.

Keep your heart lifted, spine long and simultaneously fill and refill your kidney area with presence and breath.

Happy Practicing.