yoga

Book Review – A Spiritual Look at the 12 Signs by Joseph Polansky

December, 2018

Book Review

A Spiritual Look at the 12 Signs

by Joseph Polansky

 

 

Having a large section on my bookshelf dedicated to Astrological studies and having decades of experience as an astrologer, I must admit that I had some preconceived notion of what I could expect in reading this book; also on a subject that I am very well versed.

By way of a little introduction for those whose primary experience with astrology has been in religiously purchasing those little scrolls of Sun Sign wisdom available at the retail counter here is a bit of information about the complexity and nature of this particular discipline. Astrology has both a mundane and esoteric approach. The former being what we traditionally come across by way of chart readings, daily predictions and guidelines and the basic and fundamental perspectives, and I would add psychological, attributes of the individual’s birth chart. The more mundane (not to be confused with astrological interpretation of geographic place) aspect of astrology is further sub-divided into a variety of interpretative styles, including Vedic/Sidereal astrology, Western/Tropical astrology, Babylonian Astrology and many more.

Esoteric Astrology perceives the zodiacal signs as attributes of archetypal spiritual energy; there is additionally the psycho-spiritual overlay applied. Each having a (sentient) nature that informs the spiritual bodies of the individual and by so doing, informs the spiritual progress of this and other lifetimes. Just as is the case with Western (traditional) astrology, each of the signs has a planet associated with its energy. However in esoteric astrology the assignations of those planets differs from the traditional, because what becomes the focus of this study is that of the spiritual (and sentient) nature of the planets as they act upon the more etheric nature of the signs. Either (Western or Esoteric) of these approaches requires quite a lot of study and understanding of the basic principles to make full use of their gifts.

A Spiritual Look at the 12 Signs starts off on the right foot, moving through each of the zodiacal signs and giving enough basic information on each that the dip into the more esoteric astrological approach is easily grasped. Additionally, throughout the book, Mr. Polansky has provided the reader with a copious and varietal amount of meditations and contemplative reflections that serve as another layer of experiencing the more spiritual, vs. astronomical nature of the signs.

The Table of Contents is thoughtfully organized to provide some basic information at the foreground and develop into a broader perspective inclusive of other ways of making use of astrological energies. Mr. Polansky folds in some additional uses of astrology, such as Medical astrology, aromatherapy using the construct of astrological energetics. Each of these sub-sections breaks out how that modality would present itself through each of the astrological signs, giving the reader an instant “grab on” and point of reference.

There is an interesting chapter, The Twelve Yogas, that weaves the philosophies of Yoga (not simply in its form of Hatha-or posture) into a meditative practice aligned with your astrological sign. In particular the overlay for this exploration is the alchemical element of the various signs and the particular form that will support that disposition. For example, those of Air signs are guided towards practices that incorporate mind (Jnana yoga) and breath (Pranayama yoga); Water signs align with the yogic focus of love and devotion (Bhakti); Fire with that of fire (Agni yoga) and action (Karmic yoga), and Earth signs benefit from postures and movement (Hatha yoga) and ritual work. I found this to be a nice touch in making connections and use of astrological principles beyond the traditional nature of prediction and identification.

This book is a smorgasbord of tastings and samplings for the student of astrology who wishes to stretch a little further. Theosophical, Eastern Philosophies, Western Hermetics, Ayurvedic practices, Metaphysics, Alchemy and Esotericism and more are all folded into the information of this book. Some reveal themselves only if you are aware of the disciplines from which they are derived, which is neither a comment of critique nor praise. This is often the case when pursuing any of the disciplines of esoteric knowledge.

All in all I believe A Spiritual Look at the 12 Signs to be a lovely foray into expanding your understanding of astrology and being able to access relevant and enough recognizable traits to engage the reader and inspire them to seek out more.

A Spiritual Look at the 12 Signs: An Introduction To Spiritual Astrology on Amazon

 

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Book Review – Northern Lore: A Field Guide To The Northern Mind, Body & Spirit by Eoghan Odinsson

March, 2018

Northern Lore: A Field Guide To The Northern Mind, Body & Spirit

by Eoghan Odinsson

First, I’d like to say that I liked this book. At first it was a bit academic, a bit dry, but then the interesting stuff made an appearance.

Eoghan was born in Canada and is also an award winning journalist. He has a Masters in Science from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and taught there for a time. Eoghan holds a black belt in Shito-Ryu Karate and taught the martial art in Canada and the U.S.

It’s said that Odin gave up one of his eyes and hung himself upside-down from the world tree, Yggdrasil, and learned the Runes. There are many versions of runes. The oldest know is the Elder Futhark. The other two main versions are Old English Futhork and Younger Futhark.

Futhark/Futhork comes from the first six letters of the runic alphabet;fehu, uruz, thurisaz, ansuz, raido, and kenaz.

The Elder Futhark is separated in three groups of eight called Ætts. The original names of the runes have been lost to time but have been remade based on names given to the runes of the younger sets of alphabets.

As I said earlier, there are many versions of runes. These are the ones listed in the book; Elder, Anglo-Saxon, Younger, Hälsinge, Middle age, Dalecarlian, Icelandic/Norwegian, Long-branch, Short-twig, and Medieval.

Historically, the runes were derived from the Old Italic alphabets but no one knows for sure which alphabet.

J.R.R. Tolkien used the Anglo-Saxon runes on a map to show a connection with the Dwarves in the book, ‘the Hobbit’. Tolkien created a rune-like alphabet called Cirth to replace the Anglo-Saxon runes in later drafts of ‘the Lord of the Rings’.

Either historic or fictional versions of the runes have been used in fantasy fiction, video games, etc. runes were also used as the written language of the Asgard race in the ‘Stargate’ TV series and movies.

The Germanic tribes had a wealth of weather lore, much of which was shared be other cultures. Many of the old Germanic weather proverbs correspond to actual natural phenomena and many have to been proven to not be accurate.

All of the various world cultures have watched the weather to know when to plant for the best yield, when to reap the harvests, cull the herds for meat, etc. watching the various creatures can tell you how bad the winter is going to be.

One of the idioms that I’ve discover on my own was written on a place-mat at a restaurant; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors’ delight. It means that it’ll be stormy if you see a red sky at dawn and pleasant evening if the sky is red at dusk. Of course, sailors always want the weather to be to be pleasant, since the seas can be dangerously rough when it’s stormy out.

There are many sayings on various aspects of weather, including how far sound travels, air pressure, winds, etc.

In Northern Europe, health was important. They had different ways of keeping in good health; runic yoga/Stádhagaldr(a recent creation as of approx. 1984 and was possibly based on an earlier version from the 19th century), herbs, use of animal products, etc.

A form of runic yoga called Stav was created in Norway and uses what’s called ‘Rune Stances’. The Hafskjold tradition of Stav is the only mind/body/spirit system know to the author in Europe. The author included an interview with Stav master Graham Butcher that he did when Butcher stayed at his home in 2005 and updated the interview in 2010.

There are several more topics in the book including cuisine, mythology, the Havamal (Sayings of the high one), and various spiritual practices.

Northern Lore, also, has a nice sized bibliography so the reader can do extra research if they wish.

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Book Review: Mudras – Yoga in your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi

January, 2018

MUDRAS – YOGA IN YOUR HANDS

BY GERTRUD HIRSCHI

Personally, I love mudras; they are such a simple way to heal, both physically and emotionally. The mudra book that I currently own is in pieces, and so this one coming to me is doubly welcome.

Part I explores the “concept” of mudra, which, simply put, is yoga for your hands. Ms. Herschi introduces the mudra, its’ possible origins and how and when to practice them. This includes how the hands themselves correspond to the chakras (energy centers in the body), Ayurveda (the Indian art of healing through food, acupressure, reflexology using the hands instead of the feet and meridians (energy paths).

Part II, which is the bulk of the book, introduces the mudras themselves. The author describes how to hold the hands for each mudra, the issue for which the mudra is being used, how to use the mudra in combination with pranayama (breathwork), asana (posture), plus movement. Each mudra also lists an herbal remedy that can be used for the specific issue being worked on, as well as an affirmation. There are 52 different mudras presented within the book.

There is a short section toward the back of the book which describes different mudras that can be specifically used in easy pose (cross-legged seating) and some that can be used with specific movements.

(Note: My own training would posit that there are many more of these seated and moving mudras than are listed in the book.)

The book closes with several appendices, as follows: Nutrition, Herbs, Chinese Five Element Theory (wood, fire, earth, mental, water), and very basic Chakra information.

If you are looking for an easy way to begin healing or to add meditation to your daily life, this book would be a great way to go about doing so. I can easily see myself reaching for this book when looking for something specific.

Recommended.

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

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About the Author

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

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Yoga, Meditation, & Wisdom

July, 2017

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

This month’s column will wrap up The Eight Limbs of Yoga, as we focus on Dhyana and Samadhi.

(Photo Credit: anandashram.org)

Dhyana = worship. It is contemplation, focus and concentration; the ability to find the truth about something – an object, a thought – with perfect meditation. As our minds become clearer, our perceptions do as well. We can readily discern what is, and what is not, reality.

“Maya” is illusion. It is our perceptions, our judgements, our thoughts and feelings based on our lives, that color and filter all that we do and think.

“Moksha” is the freedom to see and perceive things clearly, as they really are and not what we judge them to be based on our own filters. This freedom exists in the now. It is having no ego, no attachments, no wants or needs.

To get one (Moksha), you must cast off the other (Maya). Using the power of meditation, we clear our minds to see beyond our illusions; we must be aware enough to “see” beyond what we see with our filters.

(Photo Credit: yogatrail.com)

The last limb is Samadhi, which means “to merge”. This is “the final and true state of Yoga” (from samadhiyoga.net)

Through utmost patience and years (and years) of diligent practice, we can reach that perfect place with a blissful and peaceful soul.

(Photo Credit: samadhiyoga.net)

From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

As interpreted by Mukunda Stiles

Chapter 1, Verses 15 – 18

Non-attachment

is the mastery of consciousness,

wherein one is free from craving

objects of enjoyment,

whether they have been perceived

or imagined from promises in scriptures.

The ultimate state of non-attachment

arises from self-realization,

in which there is indifference

to the primordial forces of desire,

as everything

and everyone

is experienced as one’s

own True Self

Thorough knowledge

is accompanied by inquiry

into its four forms

analytical thinking about an object,

meditative insights on thoughts,

reflections into the nature of bliss,

and inquiry into one’s essential purity.

Another form

of thorough knowledge

is preceded by resolute practice

to completely cease

identification with the contents of the mind.

As a result,

only subliminal impressions remain

and their residue

has no impact on the mind.

Verse 43

When the

storehouse of memories and impressions

is completely purified,

perception is

empty of vacillations

and only the object’s

true essence

shines forth in

thought-free perception.

Verse 51

When the mind

becomes free from obstruction

all vacillations cease,

and the mind becomes

absorbed into spirit

without producing future seeds.

Thus a new mind is born

of this wisdom,

free of ignorance

(Photo Credits: Pinterest)

Yoga, Meditation & Wisdom

June, 2017

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

This Month: Pratyahara & Dharana

yoga1

(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

 

The Fifth Limb is Pratayahara – “prata” means “away” or “retreat”; “ahara” means “nourishment” or what feeds the senses. Pratayahara translates into withdrawing from that which nourishes our senses. This forms the basis of “non-attachment”.

 

Instead of our emotions controlling us with what it desires/craves, we become the controller of those emotions. When we are unable to stop the flow of these emotions, they very often cause an emotional imbalance, which in turn can, and in most cases, will, result in physical illness.

 

Yoga, and more to the point, meditation is the means to find the way to step back, or retreat, from our wants and needs and begin to learn the path to inner peace and enlightenment.

 

This happens naturally in meditation, as we turn our consciousness inward, focusing on the breath and/or the mantra. As difficult as this may sound, this has always been where we have been headed with our yoga practice.

 

Chapter IV – Verses 27- 33 **

 

In the intervals between these discriminative thoughts,

distracting thoughts arise

due to other past habitual thoughts.

 

Their cessation is like that of the obstacles

that were previously described,

that is, destroying them through meditative absorption.

One who is free of self-interest, even from the attainment of

the highest realizations, and who possesses

constant discrimination is showered with

virtues from being absorbed in Spirit.

 

From this comes a cessation of obstacles

and karmic patterns.

 

Then all the obscuring veils and impurities

are removed due to the endlessness of self-knowledge.

Then only trivial knowledge of the

objective world remains hidden.

 

Thereafter, having fulfilled their purpose

through the series of transformations,

the power of the primal natural forces terminates.

 

As these forces come to an end,

time is slowed to such a degree

that the moments that correspond to

the sequence of these transformations

become readily comprehended.

 

 
yoga2

(Photo Credit: keylargoyoga.com)

 

The Sixth Limb is Dharana, “concentration of the mind”.

The mind is miraculously complex, capable of thousands of thoughts per second. This wandering of the mind has come to be known as “monkey mind”, as it chatters in all directions.

 

Dharana is the practice of holding our thoughts completely in one direction, quieting the monkey mind, enabling us to achieve utter concentration on one specific thing. The more we concentrate, the more we can fully contemplate the one thing we have chosen to focus on.

 

This is not something that can be expected to be done immediately. Patience is necessary and years of practice, but the benefits are enormous.

 

Chapter III – Verses 9 – 13**

 

From this, there is a true

transformation of the mind

as outgoing thoughts cease

their former pattern of reacting

to the appearance or disappearance

of subliminal impressions.

Instead, moments of restrained thought predominate.

 

By frequent repetition

of that restraint

an undisturbed flow

of tranquility results.

 

In the process of

being absorbed in Spirit,

the though process experiences

a second transformation

resulting from the continuous

appearance of one-pointedness

and the disappearance of distraction.

 

Then again,

a third transformation occurs

from the one-pointedness that results

in the rising and subsiding

thoughts become equal.

 

By these three processes,

there is a transformation of the mind’s

quality, character and condition.

In the same manner,

there is a spiritual transformation of the senses,

and even in one’s constitutional elements.

 

**Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

As Interpreted by Mukunda Stiles

 
yoga3

(Photo Credit: yoganonymous.com)

 

NAMASTE!!

Yoga, Meditation & Wisdom

May, 2017

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

This month we move on to the most recognizable of the Eight Limbs.

The third limb is asana, which is Sanskirt for “abiding”, meaning the physical postures within yoga. Even if you have never taken a yoga class, you are most likely aware of some of the yoga postures.

meditation (Graphic: food.ntv.com)

The benefits of asana are balance, strength and flexibility. Flexibility is a necessity as we age; the more flexible we are, the better we will move and the younger we will feel.

In asana, the body is challenged. With the physical challenge, your body grows stronger and the mind, through control and focus, becomes quiet, more focused. You will find a deeper sense of conscious awareness.

meditation2

(Graphic: renewing all things.com)

Asana is necessary to prepare for meditation.

The control we have over our physical bodies during asana comes to us through control of our breath. The awareness that we strive for begins with the breath This is pranayama, which is the fourth limb. (Please see my Meditation article from 12/2014: http://paganpages.org/content/2014/12/a-moment-for-meditation-4/

Prana is your life force; it is energy. The breath can cleanse toxins from your body, strengthen the lungs, calm the nervous system. This energy, combined with asana creates a balance of mind, body and spirit. Breath control allows us to control the mind, and not the other way around. Self-control and discipline come from the breath.

meditation3

(Graphic: genesisgym.com)

Using various breath techniques such as 4/4 breath, breath of fire, long deep breathing will give you energy, release stress, strengthen your aura – your projection to and protection from, the world around you. When you begin to notice and focus on your breath, you can actually feel yourself transforming, it is that powerful.

In some yoga traditions, like Kundalini Yoga, the breath is combined with moving asana, or a kriya (action) to bring about that transformation.

meditation4

From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

As Interpreted by Mukunda Stiles

***

Yoga pose

is a steady

and comfortable position

***

Yoga pose is mastered

by relaxations of effort,

lessening the tendency

for restless breathing,

and promoting an identification

of oneself as living

within

the infinite breath of life.

***

From that

perfection of yoga posture,

duality

***

When this is acquired,

pranayama naturally follow,

with a cessation

of the movments

of inspiration and expiration.

***

***

As a result of this pranayama,

the veil obscuring the radiant supreme

light of the Inner Self dissolves.

***

meditation5

And as a result,

the mind attains fitness

from the contemplation

of the True Self

NAMASTE

Yoga, Meditation, & Wisdom

March, 2017

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The eight limbs of Yoga are based upon the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is the foundation of modern yoga.

Yoga1

(Photo Credit: anandayogadunedin.com)

The are as follows:

1. YAMA – Universal Morality

2. NIYAMA – Personal Observances

3. ASANAS – Body Postures

4. PRANAYAMA – Breathwork/Control of Prana

5. PRATYAHARA – Control of the Senses

6. DHARANA – Concentration & Inner Awareness

7. Dhyana – Devotion/Meditation on the Divine

8. SAMADHI – Union with the Divine

As the author of the Yoga Sutras, and much about Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of medicine), Patanjali’s life is a mystery. His name, broken down means – Patan = falling leaves; anjali – palms joined in prayer, as in the anjali mudra, also known as prayer pose. It is believed that he lived at some point between the 5th century BCE and the 4th century CE. It is also believed that he came to us only to teach the knowlege and wisdom of yoga. TheYoga Sutras have been translated into 45 languages., and there are many different interpretations.

The Yoga Sutras begins, “With great respect and love, now the blessings of Yoga instruction are offered”.

And, so, we will begin with the YAMA’s…….

Ahimsa – “Loving Kindness” Ahimsa is being non-violent. It means to not cause injury or harm to another, whether they be human or animal; it includes doing no harm to your own self, as well. It is the absence of violence in your body, mind and spirit. Ahimsa is considered to be the foundation of all that follows.

yoga2

(Photo Credit: vodesign.com.au)

Satya – Satya is the Sanskrit word for “Truth”, and so the Satya Nama means to commit to truthfulness. We must be very careful what we say and how we say it. If the truth were to hurt someone, then it is best to stay silent, so as to not conflict with Ahimsa. Be aware that truth, the facts, do not change; however, opinion and judgment, which are not necessarily true, do change. Weigh your words.

Yoga3

(Photo Credit: thelivingyogablog.com)

Asteya – Do not steal. Take nothing that is not yours, nothing that is not freely given to you. Do not live to just acquire *things*, do not hoard wealth, do not buy what you do not need. In this society we have all become takers. It is time to give back, donate to a worthy cause, reduce your carbon footprint, be generous, and be grateful for that which you have.

yoga4

(Photo Credit: joythruyoga.com)

Brahmacharya – Take literally, this would mean “celibacy”, or celibacy outside of marriage and fidelity within. Some look at it as learning to have more control over our desires, whether it be sex, or chocolate. All things in moderation. Take the time to question if this is something you *truly* want and need, or just something you think you want and need. Do you have to have sex with this person you just met; or do you really need that piece of cake. Become aware of your innermost desires.

yoga5

(Photo Credit: yogawithmaheshwari.wordpress.com)

Aparigraha – Non-attachment; non-possessiveness. This is learning to let go of that which we no longer need, whether it be that statue you keep on your bureau, to a thought or relationship that no longer serves in a positive manner. Let it go and move forward.

yoga6

(Photo Credit: thethrivingyogi.com)

Until next month….

Namaste & Blessings

Yoga7

Yoga, Meditation, & Wisdom

January, 2017

Four Paths of Yoga

 

meditation

(Photo: elsavier.com)

 

Last time, I spoke of the Five Paths of Wisdom within Kundalini Yoga, the yogic tradition that I follow.

This month, I will be talking of the Four Paths of Yoga, in general.

Karma Yoga is the path of action. It is represented by mindfulness and service to others. It is very good for those whose personalities are more outgoing. Those who practice Karma Yoga give no thought to themselves or to any type of reward for what they do. They do the best that they can, tuning in to their own inner teacher and to Divinity itself.

“Karma Yoga is the selfless devotion of all inner as well as the outer activities as a Sacrifice to the Lord of all works, offered to the eternal as Master of all the soul’s energies and austerities.”

~ ~ Bhagavad Gita

Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion. It can best be described as the path of love and compassion. The Bhakti path, which is a surrendering to the Divine, tends to be a more emotional path, one motivated by love. Mantra and chanting are a large part of Bhakti Yoga.

Raja Yoga is the path of having control over both the physical and the mental bodies. Meditation is stressed, while it also encompasses yoga as a whole. It is also known as the Eight Step Path, based on the Sutras of Patanjali, which include asana, prana, meditation and other practices. The energy raised here is turned into spiritual energy. Future columns will focus specifically on Patanjali’s teachings.

meditation2

(Photo: Yelp)

Gyana/Jnana Yoga is the path of philosophy; one of knowledge and wisdom. This can be a most difficult path to follow, as the goal is to experience a union with the Divine. It is best to have mastered the other paths before attempting the Jnana path, as it is one of selflessness, mastery of one’s self, mind mastery, and an ability to deal with one’s inner self.

meditation3

(Photo: heartofpeaceyoga.com)

As has been mentioned in an earlier meditation column, the word *yoga* means “union”, so all of these paths work separately, but optimally, together, to form the whole.

meditation4

(Photo: enlightenedconsciousness.com)

Yoga, Meditation, & Wisdom

November, 2016

YOGA, MEDITATION & WISDOM

(Formerly *A Moment for Meditation*)

THE FIVE PATHS OF WISDOM

While there are four paths of yoga (Karma, Bhakti, Raja, Gyana), which will be discussed in a future column, today I will be talking about the “Five Paths of Wisdom” as taught within Kundalini Yoga.

As with all important things, connecting to the path to wisdom is a much longer journey than you might think upon undertaking it. It is filled with obstacles; frustration; deep inner work, which is almost always painful, and strange twists and turns in the road.

In brief, the stages or “pads” are:

Saram Pad – Novice

Karam Pad – Apprentice

Shakti Pad – Practitioner

Sehej Pad – Expert

Sat Pad – Master

1. Saram Pad

“A novice must cultivate obedience, motivation and discipline” ~ Yogi Bhajan

All beginners start with Saram Pad. It is the first exposure to something new that

you wish to explore, in which you have no experience. You just know that you

are desiring something new. Your motivation can be that a friend is doing it, that

you are in physical or emotional pain and this may alleviate it, or it just calls to

you. This is what could be termed “the honeymoon” phase.

2. Karam Pad

Karam means “to accomplish tasks”. This is the stage where you have gained

some experience. You have seen the benefits, the pros and the cons. You

will feel that you need to continue to learn more. In this way, you compare the

new experiences with what you experienced in the past. You will continue to

gain new perspective, and you may choose to challenge yourself.

Within yoga, this would be the time when you would start your Sadhana, or your

daily spiritual yoga and meditation practice.

3. Shakti Pad

Shakti Pad is known as the test of power, or ego.This is the stage where decisions are made. Will you continue with your current path, continuing to learn more or will you decide to stop and find something entirely new.

This is when you begin to make your choices. In the past, it was your teacher

who would be telling you what to practice. Now, you will make that decision.

What is your goal, your motivation, in your practice? You may experience

doubt as you begin to move beyond your instructor’s teachings. For this

spiritual journey, you choose whether to continue to follow this teacher, find

another teacher, or find your own path within your practice. All teachers, even

within the same spiritual/yogic community will have different viewpoints.

4. Sehej Pad

This is when you completely immerse yourself in your path, every step on

this journey is a joy. You are completely focused and are eager to find new

challenges. You develop an attitude of what is called *seva* or service to

others and your spiritual community.

In Sehej Pad, you are learning, but you are also teaching. Teachers can teach,

but, they should also still be students, as you are always learning. You learn as

you teach your students; their thoughts, their ideas.

It can take years to move beyond this stage. It take much hard work and

discipline. Some stay in this stage and never move beyond it, but they are happy

because their path brings them such joy.

5. Sat Pad

“Sat” means “Truth”.

This is the last stage. There is no separation between you and your path.

It has become such a part of you. You have achieved a transcendence

and have become one with your spirituality.

wisdom

An article in Yoga Journal by Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., who was one of my instructors years ago while in Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, likes the 5 Paths of Wisdom to the growth of a plant.

Saram = Seed (Formula)

Karam = Sprout (Wisdom)

Shakti = Leaves Appearing (True Wisdom)

Sehej = Blooming Flower (Great Wisdom)

Sat = Sending out New Seeds (Infinite Wisdom)

This article can be found at: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/teach/stages-of-learning/

In the future of this *re-focused* column, I will be discussing The Four Paths of Yoga, as mentioned above, and The Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Blessings and Sat Nam,

Susan Morgaine

)O(

Book Review: The Yoga Back Book by Stella Weller

October, 2016

THE YOGA BACK BOOK BY STELLA WELLER

A Book Review

the-yoga-back-book

The sub-title to this book is “the natural solution to freedom from pain”. Since almost everyone has suffered from back pain at one time or another, not to mention those who suffer from daily, chronic back pain, this book could be a lifesaver, if used correctly. Ms. Weller’s background is as both a registered nurse and a yoga therapist, so her information comes from both a yogic and medical path.

The book is extremely informative. It not only describes the exercises, it includes photos of each one, plus its’ variation, if there is one. (Note: Making adjustments is very important when doing any type of exercise program, yoga included, as not every body can accomplish every movement.)

In and around the exercise section, Ms. Weller talks about warming up beforehand, and cooling down afterward.

She explains how each part of the back functions, along with the function of anything connected to keeping the back strong, i.e. leg muscles, abdominals, connective tissue, ligaments. If you are someone who enjoys learning about how your body works, then the anatomy portions of the book will please you. If, on the other hand, you just want to get straight to the exercises, you can do that as well.

She discusses the best way to sit, stand, lie down, bend, etc. for those with bad backs, as well as for those who just want to keep their backs in good working order.

She discusses the best diet for a healthy back including low-fat, low-protein, cutting down on caffeine and drinking plenty of water. While she suggests building your meals around fruits and vegetables, I was surprised to see that she does not recommend a vegetarian and/or vegan diet, as most yoga practitioners and teachers would.

I was very pleased to see that she has included a section on relaxation methods, including meditation and breathwork. In other areas of the book, she does recommend focusing on your breath while doing the exercises, key in most yoga exercises. This portion of the book includes advice on how to get the best night’s sleep and how to decrease stress, both of which can add to the pain in your back. She goes on to discuss other ways of alleviating your pain, such as medication, TENS units, and massage. There are several pages which include advice for before, during and after pregnancy.

As a long time yoga practitioner and teacher, as well as someone who has suffered chronic back pain for many, many years, I would recommend this book, with the understanding that there are many who will skip over the medical explanations and just begin the exercises.

Disclaimer: Please speak to your doctor before starting any exercise program, which would include those discussed in this book. The review and recommendation of this book is the author’s only; neither she nor Pagan Pages accepts any responsibility for any injury occurring while using this book.

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