Maui Yoga Teacher Training

Maui Yoga Teacher Training

How to Not Be a Blue Meanie Yogini, Part II: Field of Alliance Commitment Statements


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Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing
There is a field. I will meet you there.
–Rumi

I first saw these commitment statements posted on the refrigerator door at the Gaia’a Sonic Temple of the Goddess on Kauai when we were there for the Mystic Island Gathering celebration in February. I looked for it online and found it HERE. I very slightly edited a few of them just to fit the context of our yoga teacher training. Just in case you’re concerned about not remembering all of this (as if you need to!), we’re going to have these printed out and put on our refrigerator at the retreat, too : )

I just wanted to also preface this with a little bit of yoga wisdom regarding working in close contact with a small group of people for an extended period, as we will be doing. We’ve all no doubt heard this one before: “Check your ego at the door.” In ancient living cultures, such as we find in India, this meant removing one’s shoes at the entrance to a home, temple, etc. This wasn’t merely for the sake of cleanliness, which as it is said, is next to Godliness. It also was a symbolic gesture meaning that I am removing my ego which is tied up with my material possessions. Removing one’s shoes was a step toward greater naked authenticity, and acknowledging that nothing in this life truly belongs to us, we can’t truly take credit for anything, it’s all a mysterious gift of grace.

On a more humorous note (hopefully : ), there is this great renaissance happening in walking and running barefoot, and also in the wisdom of simply “grounding” and connecting with the earth’s healing frequency more often (David Wolfe, for one, has been a big promoter of this lately). I love walking and running barefoot, and do it as much as I can (one thing I love about Hawai’i especially is that you can basically walk into any establishment in bare feet!) Not only is it good for connecting with the earth more, but it’s also good foot reflexology, that being the ancient wisdom of stimulating the various organs of the body via the feet (and hands).

And yet, not everyone has been converted to the cause! When I went out to visit my family in Santa Barbara a few weeks ago, there was a lot of concern expressed about my walking barefoot, to the point that I really felt I had to defend what seems to me to be something so natural, something which I feel really shouldn’t require a defense. The funny thing is that my family name is “Lowenschuss,” a German name which is often pronounced “Lowenshoose,” and which we sometimes say is really “Low In Shoes.” The irony is that we’re really not, we’ve got so many shoes there are not enough days in the week to wear all of them. But anyway, when being told to put shoes on, I was like, hey, I’m low in shoes!

So anyway: Checking the ego at the door. The thing is, you can check your ego at the door, but realistically speaking, the ego will walk right in with you and keeps needing to be checked up on; yes, for many of us it seems to need to be kept in constant check! So here are some commitment statements that will help us all to do this:

Be Present

My intent is to be myself, to be authentic, and to be fully present.

Be Centered

I will do my best to recognize when I am off center and to bring myself back into the integrity of my own center – the place of neutral, witness consciousness, or pure awareness.

Stay Awake

When I find myself going into ‘story’ or emotional reactivity, I agree to become present and awake with my experience, and to explore feeling inward instead of leaning out, unconsciously defending myself for projecting onto others.

Intention for the Highest Good

I acknowledge and honor my primary intention for the Highest Good – concerning the Earth, All My Relations, and myself. I recognize that I may never know for certain what the “answers” are, but my intention is to move in the direction of the highest and best good for the whole.

Communicate with Integrity

I agree to be honest and compassionate with my communications – to speak from my heart, maintain connection, and to be true to my word.

Act with Integrity and Humility

I agree to keep my agreements, to negotiate changes if I need to, and to ask for help when I need it.

Listen Deeply

I agree to listen respectfully to the communication of others and tune into their deepest meaning, noticing any inner reactions and taking responsibility for my feelings while staying present to truly listen.

Honor One Another

I agree to come from a sense of cooperation and caring in my interactions with others, respecting that our objectives are often the same, although our positions and means may differ. I recognize that everyone is a unique expression of the divine, and I honor the intelligence of body, mind, and emotions as uniquely expressed through each of us.

Take responsibility

I agree to take responsibility for my creations, my reactions, my experience and my relationships. Therefore, I recognize there is no one to blame, nothing to defend, only wisdom and compassion to embody.

Maintain Resonance

I agree to take the time to establish rapport and re-connect with anyone with whom I feel out of harmony.

Resolve Problems Constructively

I agree to take problems, complaints and upsets to the person(s) with whom I can resolve them, at the earliest opportunity. I agree not to criticize or complain to someone who cannot do something about my complaint, and I will redirect others to do the same.

Collaborate and Lead

I agree to foster an environment of genuine collaboration in which all people, including myself, feel empowered to express our individual and collective potential.

Keep My Commitment Fresh

I agree to choose and re-choose to participate in and co-create the field of consciousness that is this Yoga Teacher Training every day. I recognize my responsibility to contribute what is alive and true in my heart today.

Stay with Joy

I agree to allow joy in my relationships, my work, and my life, recognizing that joy is the natural by-product of living my authentic self.

Come From My Resources

I agree to take care of myself and to honor my own sense of balance with conscious choice in areas like sleep, nutrition, exercise, and thinking, so that I may live from a place of resource.

Compassion

I agree to treat myself with compassion, patience, and forgiveness when I struggle with these intentions, as I also share compassion and encouragement with other people in this Field of Alliance.

Carpe Diem

I am committed to ‘seizing’ the day– To do my best to be complete with each day—to live as though today is my first and my last day alive. I agree to LIVE & BE YOGA TODAY to the best and fullest of my capacity.

And living this way is no different than living in Namaste’…and the challenge is always to stay in Namaste’, thank you in advance for your commitment to this!

Namaste’! / Mistah Low-In-Shoes


David Wolfe on “Grounding”

acro yoga, aloha, alternative health, fitness, flying yoga, health, india, kirtan, maui, maui yoga, Maui Yoga Teacher Training, meenakshi angel honig, partner yoga, spirit of aloha, spirituality, yoga, yoga retreat, yoga teacher training

A Balance of Roots & Wings: The Bliss of Flying Yoga


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“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children:
One is roots, the other is wings.”

 ~ Hodding Carter

      There’s a new a new yoga craze sweeping the nation: Acro-Yoga (which we call “Flying Yoga” — see below). Actually, this style of yoga has officially been around for 6 years already, since 2006 (click HERE for more), but it’s only in the last few years or so that it’s really taken off. Before that, it was known in yoga circles, but no one had yet made it into its own unique, identifiable, trademarked brand of yoga. In reality, it’s probably a pretty ancient practice, maybe as old as the circus (not to mention something that mommies and daddies do with their kids all the time!) In the world of yoga, it’s at least as old as the 1930s when the “godfather” of modern yoga, TVK Krishnamacharya, taught it to his students, who did public, circus-like yoga demonstrations to advertise the power of yoga to the world. Here’s a link to a Youtube video showing the master and his students practicing this form of yoga:

      So why did it take so long for this type of yoga to catch on, one might wonder? It’s so fun, everyone seems to love it. Well, I would suggest it’s at least partly because there has been some lightening up and loosening of boundaries in the yoga world, and this is probably a good thing. It also seems that when something gets trademarked, branded, and made into a system, there’s much more of a chance of it really becoming an identifiable entity in its own right, a household term.

       Before I go on, let me just say a little something about the name for this kind of yoga, and why I do not use the term “Acro-Yoga.”

       Personally, I prefer the designation “Flying Yoga” not only because I have never officially been trained in “Acro,” but because it sounds too much like we’re doing circus tricks. This isn’t any put down of the founders of Acro, Jason Nemer and Jenny Klein. No, they are well grounded in the yoga tradition, and they also acknowledge that when we are doing any kind of yoga, it’s really the inner work being done — the qualities of courage, trust, perserverance, patience, listening, etc. — that are really the most important, not necessarily what we can do. On the other hand, when we see a pose artfully done, or a move gracefully executed, we generally give props because we know what it must have taken to get there (however many incarnations — in this lifetime, or ones before!)

      I prefer the term “Flying Yoga” because we do really fly high when we do this kind of yoga, it’s so much fun, and even blissful (more below on this). On the other hand, perhaps the designation “Roots & Wings” would be even better, to highlight the fact that in order for one person to fly (the “Flyer”), the person who is assisting (the “Base”) must be really very well grounded to make it all possible! As it is with every “flight” we take in life — we won’t be airborne for long if we don’t have a stable foundation to support it!

My Flying Yoga Story

    Although I have been practicing yoga for the past 19 years, admittedly it is really only in the last 5 that I have gotten into Flying Yoga. Early on, I found a great partner in crime, my friend Ali Gardella (who also assists with our Yoga Teacher Trainings). People see us now and are fairly amazed at what we can do, but little do they know that Ali had to take many a one for the team to get to where we are now. Yes, she ate sand numerous times on the beach here in Naples as we were learning how to do our flying stunts. Ali, a grandmother of 2 has been a super flying trooper, always ready to try new things and No one would ever suspect that she is a grandmother!

     Ali also knows how fun it is! And yoga of all things should have at least a little fun to balance out the discipline!

     So anyway, you can thank Ali when I take you without a hitch from “Folded Leaf” into the “Bat Pose,” or have you stand and balance on my hands, etc.

    More recently, I have begun “flying” with another truly amazing yogini, Meenakshi Angel Honig, who has been practicing and teaching yoga for the past 4 decades, currently residing at the Spirit of Aloha on Maui. Angel is an internationally acclaimed yoga teacher with so much wisdom to share! It is a great honor for me to work together with her and we are really so blessed to have her joining us on the teaching staff of our yoga program at the Spirit of Aloha.

     I would also like to highlight one intriguing element in our working together: The fact that Angel actually experiences Kundalini Shakti through practicing Flying Yoga, which is why she calls it “The Yoga of Bliss.” She feels it has to do with the energy being released by pressure of the Base’s feet against the sacrum. [This makes perfect sense to me. Yesterday at Earth Day I spoke with a woman who believes her recent spontaneous kundalini awakening was directly related to her hooping practice, specifically by the pressure of the hoop against her sacrum.]

     Angel and I have already choreographed 2 Flying Yoga “peaces” (as Angel calls them), and I have posted the Youtube videos of these below. The first is a piece set to Josh Groban’s version of “You Raise Me Up,” which Angel chose as a perfect soundtrack for Flying Yoga.  I think you’ll agree it’s not bad at all for our first month working together, and somewhat sporadically at that:

The second “peace” Angel and I co-created is a Flying Yoga tribute to Whitney Houston, using her incredibly beautiful song from The Bodyguard, “I Will Always Love You.”

And here are two other “peaces” that Angel and I have created more recently for your viewing pleasure:

I feel really good about the work that Angel and I have done together, mainly because for me it fulfills something that I have for a long time now wanted to do with my asana practice, which is to turn it into a work of art, expressing, as Rodney Yee has put it, the “Poetry of the Body.” And that is is just its outward expression, of course. Asana’s inward expression is greater awareness and self-knowledge, health, bliss, peace, freedom, and love of life. May it be so for us all!

Love, Allowah

 

For a nice piece on Jason & Jenny and Acro Yoga, click HERE:

 

 

 

 

Maui Yoga Teacher Training

How to Not Be a Blue Meanie Yogini, Part I: The Four Agreements


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“I’m here because I’m not all there.” ~ Anonymous

Let’s be very clear about the process of yoga, and particularly what happens during a yoga teacher training intensive immersion:

Things WILL get churned up.

Yes, as we do our yoga, certain negative (a relative term) emotions will occasionally rise to the surface to be consciously acknowledged and accepted. Sometimes, if we are still not so conscious, we will project these things onto others instead of taking responsibility for our stuff. We will fail to be loving and compassionate with others, because we cannot yet be loving and compassionate with ourselves, and accept that what we judge in others we probably do ourselves, or have at one point or another in our lives. And we may have the very highest intentions, yet be surprised to find ourselves getting irritable about what others around us are doing, and even lash out or be mean to them, only to immediately regret what we said or did. Instead of apologizing, though, we might rationalize our behavior and/or not be able to express ourselves directly to who we deem is the offending party, and then our resentment and grudge against them just grows, and we end up hurting not only them, but even moreso, ourselves.

And we might be right, and perhaps sometimes we do need to directly confront someone about something they are doing which is not for the highest benefit of all. Yet if this occurs, let’s do this as tenderly and lovingly as possible, realizing that most people do not respond to harshness, that’s not going to generally inspire anyone to real, lasting change! Only lovingkindness will.

Let’s also acknowledge that we are all healing! Every one of us. As the quote at the top puts it so purely and simply: If we were already completely healed to wholeness, we probably wouldn’t be on the planet! Indeed, being alive here now seems to suggest that we still have some work to do. Call it karma to work out, if you will, or call it whatever you like, but let’s call a spade a spade… One Vedic astrologer I met put it,

“We came to EARTH to open our HEART.”

Yes, and perhaps this heart healing won’t even completely happen in one lifetime, yet my point is that this process seems to be happening for each and every one of us. Let’s acknowledge that and treat each other as we ourself would love to be treated.

We can agree to (lovingly) disagree, too. But I will suggest that when we do our yoga teacher training together, we at least agree to the following “Four Agreements,” by master shaman Don Miguel Ruiz…

Be Impeccable With Your Word.

Don’t Take Anything Personally.

Don’t Make Assumptions.

Always Do Your Best.

[And there is a 5th agreement that Don Miguel has added:”Be Skeptical but Learn to Listen.”]

Here is my brief commentary on each of these:

1) Be Impeccable with Your Word: To be honest, this is one I am still really working on! What it comes down to for me is just to be more grounded in what I offer people, and not make promises that I cannot keep. Maybe promises need to be eliminated altogether? You know: Promises, Promises. Yet, if we say, “I’ll try to” or “I’ll do my best,” that often signals to people that we really won’t. So we need to find a way to say things that will make clear that we are committed to doing something and we will do everything in our power to do it, yet also give ourselves an “out,” because sometimes things do come up despite our highest intentions! As a great yogini who will be joining us for our YTT (Meenakshi Angel Honig) has put it to me: If you need to break your word for any reason, you must honorably renegotiate, with a reasonable amount of advance warning time. This is very sound advice, taken to heart. [Ps. I am just being painfully honest with you here for the sake of transparency, yet I also don’t want anyone reading this to think that our training might not possibly happen, it is happening! There already are 10 of us coming, and we still have room for a few more, too.]

2) “Don’t Take Anything Personally”: Recognize the impersonal nature of all of our interactions, realizing that the way a person is treating us is the way that they would treat anyone who is in a similar relationship with them. Meaning it’s not our problem, it’s their’s, and have compassion for them. On the other hand, if what that person is saying to you strikes a chord or hits home as something that YOU really need to work on, then do take it to heart and do what you can to change. This goes for “praise” as much as it goes for “blame.” If someone praises you, okay, that’s sweet, that’s wonderful, it’s nice to be ackowledged, but…don’t let it go to your head! If you get so excited when someone praises you, then you’ll probably get equally as down when someone criticizes you, so…get off that wild rollercoaster ride and get into your equilibrium!

3) “Don’t Make Assumptions”: Our ego-mind will sometimes spin these crazy scenarios about what’s going on with another person. Then when we actually meet that person face-to-face, as opposed to just in our wild imagination, we realize how off-base we were. And if we make the mistake of expressing our assumption(s) to that person, they’re like: “Dude, what are you talking about, it’s not like that at all! OR (simpler example): We ASSUME that someone else is going to pick up that piece of trash on the floor of the yoga space, instead of taking responsibility and picking it up ourself! Not making assumptions also includes letting go of expectations. Having too high expectations will inevitably lead to disappointment. Rather, be open and in the flow, ready for whatever life has to bring at any moment, without imposing your will (though being proactive when the situation calls for it), and not trying to “organize the present moment” — the present moment will be just fine organizing itself!

4) “Always Do Your Best”: Another way of expressing this might be: Live each moment as if it were your last. Whatever you’re doing, commit to it, and put all of your heart, soul, and might into it. In yoga terms, don’t do anything half assana : ) Put your entire being into what you’re doing. Concentrate! Focus! This is a challenge in this age of multi-tasking, and this is one big reason why we are going to keep our technological gadgetry outside of our yoga space, and only use it at select times of the day.

I ask that you take a moment to put these 4 Agreements into your long-term memory by meditating upon each one and asking yourself what each one means to YOU. Which one(s) speak to you most? Is it because that is the one you need to work on most? If so, what action steps will you take to do that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maui Yoga Teacher Training

Aloha & Namaste'!


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Spirit of Aloha Yoga Teacher Training Immersion a 200-hour Yoga Alliance Registered Program in Maui, Hawaii May 25th-June 16th

 

Featuring:

* Vegan Living Food (mostly Raw) * 

* Kirtan and Satsang *

*Flying Yoga * 

* Sacred Hawaiian Wisdom Sharing * 

* Guest Teachers & Speakers * 

* Island Excursions * 

*Sunshine & Bliss : ) *

 

Contacts 

 Naima (808) 344-4922 

naima@cosmicalignment.com

 

Allowah (239) 592-0898

spiritofalohayoga@yahoo.com 

 

                            

  www.allow-ah.com   

 www.TheGardens.org

www.spiritofalohayoga.com

 

 

 

Maui Yoga Teacher Training

"The Real Yoga is Bhakti Yoga" : The Practice of “Heartcore” Yoga


“GOD IS ONE, LOVE IS ONE…GOD IS LOVE.”

~  Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

~ Namaste’ Beloved One ~

There’s a really nice documentary on yoga that we show at each of our yoga teacher trainings — it’s funny, hip, sexy, and is also able to get deep into the heart of this thing that we call yoga. If you’re really into yoga, you’ve probably already seen it. The film is called “Enlighten Up!” and if you haven’t had the opportunity yet, it’s definitely worth a couple hours of your time. Here’s a link to the Official Website.

I bring this up because towards the end of the film, which up until that point had mainly focused on “Hatha Yoga” (the more physical form of yoga most seen in the West), we get thrown a ringer: The real yoga for most yogis in India (and for most Indians, as well), we are told, is not Hatha Yoga at all, it’s Bhakti Yoga. This bit of news comes from Shyamdas, a Western-born yogi who has lived in India off and on for something like 30+ years. Here is the clip from the movie to get a better feel for what I’m about to talk about:

So what is Bhakti Yoga, and why is it the “real” yoga?

     Bhakti is the Yoga of “Love, Devotion, and Surrender” (see Santana-McGlaughlin : ), and it is the real yoga because it is the foundation of all the other forms/paths of yoga. The essential idea is that when we love something, we give it our attention. We become attracted to whatever it is, and our heart is in it — we consciously choose to explore that thing more deeply, to enter into relationship with it. For example, many of us yogis get into yoga because we initially are just following our bliss, our heart, and decide that we really want to spend more time getting to know this Yoga thing, and ourselves, more intimately. Then we give it our love, our attention, and go about devotedly and intently practicing and learning it to our heart’s content.

That’s Bhakti.

And you see how by definition it lies at the base of all other paths of yoga, and really can be seen to be the foundation of all that we do in life: We tend to tend and attend to what we love to do — whether it’s Hatha, Tantra, Jnana, Karma, Raja, or any other form or path or style of yoga. In this sense we might say that all yoga is real yoga, because ALL Yoga is Bhakti Yoga.

That said, Bhakti Yoga is its own path, too, and it is much more than that. Because we can practice the other forms of yoga and miss the “heart,” the juicy heart of it all. Indeed, we can miss the point, the essence, the rasa (juice). For Bhakti Yoga is the path of Love, and if Bhakti lies at the foundation of everything else, it is because Love does. And so if our Yoga is not working on our heart and somehow helping to remove all the armoring and blockages around the heart that has served to keep us from truly loving ourSelf and an “other” as ourSelf, then it is not true yoga. No, it is yoga that is actually only serving to reinforce the ego’s boundaries, and leading us away from Yoga, which is no different from Love, from Unity, from the Divine.

Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with a strong ego, as it all depends where we are on our life’s journey.  As Ram Das, one of the great Western Bhaktas (Bhakti Yogis), and one of my greatest inspirations, has often put it:

“You have to be somebody before you can be nobody.”

For me, this means that we truly have to be very strong within ourselves to fully face and even embrace the reality of our non-existence. Put another way: Our ego is also what drives us forward on the path, and it is through it that we feel more empowered to live a full human life in the body-temple we have been gifted, which affords the chance to “slowly, slowly” prepare for our inevitable demise. So if there were no ego, there would be no game to play here — we would be dissolved back into the Godhead/heart (or GoddessHeart, if you will ; ) — and that’s not so bad, either, it seems to be what we’re all secretly seeking!!! A strong, healthy ego also will have the ability to look death in the face (or our greatest fear(s)), and say, “yes, bring it on.” And a strong, healthy ego will also be able to fully look at our shadow, and if not fully enlighten the darkness, then at least keep it in check.

Now, I bring all of this up because this is all truly fundamental & foundational for all that we do in yoga. And it also feels so essential for the current 2012 and beyond time period that we are navigating. It does now feel to be time for the Shadow work to be done, where we stop stuffing our stuff — the horrific damage we’ve been doing to our bodies, each other, the planet — and actually fully face it all and deal with it (by first not being in denial anymore). Yes, it’s time to truly Be the One that we’ve been waiting for, to be our own Hero/Savior/Beloved, individually and collectively.

I know, easier said than done! Because in truth, this heart work is hard work, perhaps the hardest we will ever do. It takes great courage (from the French word for heart, “coeur“) to get to the core of things, to look unblinkingly at the truth about ourselves… For truth hurts, and the truth can even kill us (or the ego, at least). Many of us are not yet prepared to handle such truth, and so we live our lives on the surface of things, judging and blaming others instead of pointing the finger back at ourselves in the realization that we have our own inner demons to confront. The good news is that the practice of yoga, in its fullest sense (that is practiced integrally, holistically), is one of the greatest systems ever devised to prepare ourselves for such intense revelations, empowering us also to then make the necessary changes in our lives so that we may truly be beacons of light in this world.

I happen to be writing this on Easter morning, 2012. I have no strong opinion whether Jesus truly lived and died for our sins, or not, though I do feel it’s possible, certainly. At the very least, if he truly said all or most of what we find in the Gospels (including the non-canonical ones like The Gospel of Thomas) — much of which we find in Eastern wisdom, too — then Jesus was indeed a great yoga master, an avatar (incarnation of God on earth), if there ever was one. And if Jesus really is Love, then hell (or heaven) yeah I believe in Jesus, because I know the Power of Love. I don’t believe in a Second Coming, except in the sense that we are each responsible for our own resurrection in Love, and that we are all the Messiah, and that it will be something of a “team effort” here to truly bring Heaven to Earth. And it is happening.

Omni Vincit Amor

Love is and has always been the ever and only lasting answer. It does truly conquer — or perhaps better, contain — ALL. There is no force in the universe greater than Love. A great yogi (Yogi Berra ; ) once said:

If life were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

Well, the same is true for us: We are all perfectly imperfect — perfect in our imperfectness. Even our desire to be saved from our imperfections is perfect, too. And perhaps the only salvation for our imperfection, for our “Fallen” nature, if you will, is to Fall In Love, to fall deeply In Love.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

I want to close by sharing two things which have been brought to my attention this past week, and you will note also speak to what I have been sharing here. The first is a piece by Marianne Williamson on why the phenomenon of “falling in love,” is not an illusion at all, but a taste of enlightenment. I actually first saw this in Natural Awakenings magazine, and then found it here on the web: Marianne Williamson on Love

The other is a song that we all know, one of the most beautiful and profound love songs I have ever heard:

 

Thanks for Listening!

Love, Allowah