Write me: send an email by using the form below or call or text (339) 502-0009
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    To Book an In-Person, Skype, or Phone Session:
    Twitter
    Admin
    Wednesday
    Aug102016

    Upcoming Workshops Fall 2016: Eight-Limbed Yoga

    Overview:

    The Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali, the ancient treatise on Yoga, describes Yoga as having eight core elements, each of which is essential to the practice of Yoga and living a meaningful, purposeful and stress-free life.

    Understanding and living these eight core elements deepens and accelerates our progress in Yoga. It is the foundation of all practice.

    The practice of Eightfold Yoga aligns mind, heart and body, but more than that, it supports and fosters the spiritual aspects of our nature: our sense of freedom, strength and purpose in dealing with of the drama and demands of everyday life.

    The main goals of Eightfold (Ashtanga) Yoga are relief from suffering and full alignment of body, heart, mind and spirit (kaivalyam) and also support for a meaningful and purposeful life (dharma).

    In these three workshops we'll be exploring each of the eight parts in turn, beginning with the first two: Yama and Niyama.

    —————————————————————————

    First Workshop: Yama and Niyama

    Yama and Niyama: the Core Understanding of All Yoga Practice

    If youre thinking of making a deeper commitment to Yoga or want a deeper understanding of the core concepts that make Yoga work, on your mat or in your everyday life, this is a workshop that will help you do that.

    Many teachers and students have a narrow understanding of the core principles of Yama and Niyama and as a result arent fully able to use these ideas to transform their practice or their lives. As a result, the concepts remain abstract ideals; not lived practices.

    Yama and Niyama are more than a list of ethical guidelines, more than a series of dos and donts. They are the core concepts, the essential principles of all Yoga practice: ten simple ideas that can provide a basis for the optimal practice of Yoga and living your best life.

    Experiencing the transformative power of the ten principles of Yama and Niyama is the single most important step you can take in taking your practice and your life to a whole new level of peace and freedom.

    The five principles of Yama (non-forcing, loving what is, respect for differences, responsibility for self, allowing) teach us how to practice Yoga and live in peace and freedom. The five principles of Niyama (purity, contentment, radiance, mindfulness and harmony with Nature) unlock the true power of Yoga to change our life and the lives of the people around us for the better.

    Join us as we explore each of the teachings of Yama and Niyama in depth. The program will include guided meditation, pranayama, discussion and natural energy attunement and is suitable for all levels of practice.

    ——————————————————————————

    Second Workshop: Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara

    Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara: Attaining Emotional Ease, Comfort, Balance and Stability

    Do you feel grounded in a good way? Comfortable and steady in life? Asana in Yoga usually refers to being steady in physical postures, but in the context of the Yoga Sutras it has a much broader meaning.

    Asana in Eightfold Yoga means our overall stance in life. Its where were coming from in every situation: how steady, confident, comfortable and responsive we are facing our circumstances, whether theyre good, bad, or in between.

    Asana means being secure, being aligned, being ready, willing and able to face life feeling ready for anything. Not shaky, not dependent, not uncomfortable, and certainly not anxious. Asana is feeling comfortable and steady in every situation.

    Pranayama is more than breathing exercises to steady your nerves. Its learning how to be even-tempered, open, loving and happy. In this workshop well be moving beyond breathing exercises and learning to directly work with energy to balance our emotions so that were calm, even-tempered, buoyant and confident ready to face any challenge with ease and grace. Thats how Yoga should make you feel. This segment will include natural energetic attunement exercises to move you along the path to balanced emotions, which means more choices, more freedom.

    Do unhelpful habits of mind drive you crazy? Do you obsess or perseverate? Or have fixed ideas or feelings that weigh you down? If so, then you need to learn more about the limb of Yoga called Pratyahara. Simply put, its the Yoga of how to release fixed ideas and feelings in order to be free of negative or unhelpful mental habits. Pratyahara isnt withdrawal and it isnt resistance. Its perspective. Its releasing fixations; it’s letting go of old habits and self-stories. Its being able to look at the same old things from fresh new points of view so that you can see possibilities where once you only saw obstacles.

    ——————————————————————————

    Third Workshop: Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi

    Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi: Focus, Flow and Understanding

    Dharana is the limb of Yoga that has to do with managing attention, managing focus. We all know about the millions of things that distract us from things that matter most: our peace, our well-being, and being able denjoy our daily lives without frustration or sacrifice.

    If youre lost in multitasking, finding it hard to focus, or feeling pulled in a lot of different directions, then Dharana, the Yoga of Focusing, is the practice that will teach you how to prioritize, release distraction and stay on task.

    Dhyana, the Seventh limb of Yoga, is usually understood as meditation. But its really the ability to stay with tasks in an effortless, flowing and productive way. Living without any resistance. Its "flow" in its best sense moving through situations with grace, ease and purpose. Its "going with the flow," in a mindful, smart and purposeful way.

    We practice meditation in order to practice both Dharana and Dhyana, so well be teaching and practicing traditional Yoga meditation in this workshop in order to demonstrate the concepts and help you train the mind to focus and stay focused in and effortless and enjoyable way.

    Samadhi, the Eighth limb of Yoga is something youve already experienced to some extent. Its peak performance: all parts of you positively aligned around one purpose, with no resistance and no reservationsSo any time youve been overjoyed, or thrilled, or blissfully happy, content without self-consciousness, youve dipped your toe into Samadhi. The Yoga practice of Samadhi just refers to the deep and deliberate and intentional experience of Samadhi in the context of practice (abhyasa) of daily life.

    Samadhi has many levels and there are lots of different kinds of Samadhi, but simply put, its the experience of mental and emotional and physical alignment experiential and intentional flow taken to its full extent.

    Samadhi is a natural outcome of the alignment of all Eight limbs in any Yoga practice, and in this workshop, were not just going to be talking about it, well be experiencing it, naturally, effortlessly, as a result of practice.

    Dates and Times to be announced. Send me an email if you'd like to be included in my mailing list.

     

     

    Saturday
    May212016

    Pranayama: the Fourth Limb of Yoga

    In contemporary life, when most people hear the word "yoga" they think only of the physical poses and exercises of Vinyasa, the physical practice of Yoga. The physical poses and movements of Yoga are, however, only one small part of Yoga, the total mind-body system first delineated by Maharishi Patanjali over a thousand years ago.

    Yoga, as a total system, has many components, many practices. There are practices that work with the conscious mind (inquiry, discrimination, study), practices that work with the emotions (pranayama and bhakti or devotion), practices that work with the awareness, that train the attention (mantra meditation) ethical practices (yama), behavioral practices (seva) and so on. All these practices are designed to work together to bring all parts of the person into alignment, into harmony, into well-being.

    Pranayama, the fourth limb of Yoga, is a series of practices designed to support emotional equanimity and well-being, beginning with breathing exercises that soothe restlessness and anxiety.

    The next set of practices take Pranayama to a deeper level, working directly with the emotions to harmonize them, resolving the habitual negative emotions (fear, anger, sadness) that block the full expression of life and spirit. This is what Patanjali called "the harmonizing of polarities."

    On a more advanced level, Pranayama is a way of working directly and intentionally with the energy systems of the body (shaktipat), systematically releasing (nirodhah) interference patterns (vritti) that inhibit and limit the flow of life energies (chitta, prana) throughout the entire mind/body system.

    We begin with the breathing. That's the first place to start. Soothe the breathing and the whole system comes more into alignment.

    As a side-note, anti-anxiety breathing exercises, like deep belly breathing or the breathing exercises of the Lamaze Method of prepared childbirth are western practices that work in the same or similar way as ancient Yogic breathing techniques like ujjayi, nadi shuddhi and bastrika. The Chinese have Qigong breathing exercises as well. Every culture seems to have found it's own version of pranayama.

    -----------------------------------------------------

    A couple of relevant quotes:

    "The elegant shapes and impressive contortions of the asanas may be the most eye-catching element of hatha yoga, but yoga masters will tell you they're hardly the point of practice. According to yoga philosophy, the postures are merely preludes to deeper states of meditation that lead us toward enlightenment, where our minds grow perfectly still and our lives grow infinitely big. But just how do we make the leap from Downward Dog to samadhi? Ancient yoga texts give us a clear answer: Breathe like a yogi.

    "Pranayama, the formal practice of controlling the breath, lies at the heart of yoga. It has a mysterious power to soothe and revitalize a tired body, a flagging spirit, or a wild mind. The ancient sages taught that prana, the vital force circulating through us, can be cultivated and channeled through a panoply of breathing exercises. In the process, the mind is calmed, rejuvenated, and uplifted. Pranayama serves as an important bridge between the outward, active practices of yoga--like asana--and the internal, surrendering practices that lead us into deeper states of meditation.

    "My first American yoga teacher, a guy named Brad Ramsey, used to say that doing an asana practice without a pranayama practice developed what he called the Baby Huey syndrome," says Ashtanga teacher Tim Miller. "Baby Huey was this big cartoon duck who was very strong but kind of stupid. He wore a diaper. Basically what Brad was trying to say was that asana will develop your body but pranayama will develop your mind."

    --Claudia Cummins, Prescriptions for Pranayama, Yoga Journal
    http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/673

    "Pranayama is derived fron two Sanskrit words - prana (life-energy) and ayama (control). Pranayama is therefore life control and not "breath control." The broadest meaning of the word prana is force of energy. In this sense, the universe is filled with prana; all creation is a manifestation of force, a play of force. Everything that was, is, or shall be, is nothing but the different modes of expression of the universal force. The universal prana is thus the Para-Prakriti (pure Nature), immanent energy or force which is derived from the infinite Spirit, and which permeates and sustains the universe."

    "Yoga works primarily with this energy in the body, through the science of Pranayama, or energy control. Prana means also "breath." Yoga teaches how, through breath control, to still the mind and attain higher states of awareness. The higher teaching of yoga take one beyond techniques, and show the yogi, or yoga practitioner, how to direct his or her concentration in such a way as not only to harmonize human with divine consciousness, but to merge his or her consciousness into the infinite."

    --Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 - 1952) Source: God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    All of the “limbs” of Yoga — all of the precepts and practices of Yoga work together to bring all aspects of ourselves into harmony and alignment.

    Yama and Niyama support right understanding, right lifestyle. Asana and Vinyasa focus on the physical practice of yoga, working with the body to produce a stable physical platform. Pranayama, the fourth limb of yoga, works with the breath, and also with the mind and emotions to produce a state of equanimity, serenity amid loss or gain (samapatti). Pratyahara clarifies the relationship of the mind to experience, and helps us learn to manage the undue influences of the world around us.

    The practice of Yoga begins with an understanding which becomes a physical practice which becomes a mental and emotional practice which eventually becomes an energy practice, and all these levels of practice work toward reconciling the fundamental polarities of experience and existence.

    Energy work is about balancing polarities -- yin/yang, positive/negative, here/there, sadness/joy, self/other, tension/flow, and this is the ultimate focus of yoga. As the sutra says, the yogi is unperturbed by the play of opposites. All duality is reconciled in yoga.

    Pranayama, the fourth limb of Yoga, deals with energy beginning in the most obvious way: we work with the basic cycle of intake and outflow of breath -- and in harmonizing and balancing the breath, we "tune" the basic polarity of mind and body, inside and outside. Pratyahara, the next and fifth limb of yoga, has to do with removing the innappropriate influence of the outer world -- it lessens the intrusion of outer influences on us, and restores us to a balanced sense of subjectivity.

    The term "pranayama" is used in the Sutras to describe both the practice of pranayama (the process: breathing exercises) and the state of pranayama (the goal: balanced energies).

    The first three sutras, YS II:46, YS II:47, YS II:48 describe the prelimary conditions necessary for the successful practice of pranayama. The remaining four describe, in general terms, the practice of pranyama itself.

    First, one's asana, or physical foundation, must be steady and comfortable. The body should be made to be as comfortable and as steady as possible. The mind should be, again, as much as possible, one-pointed -- free of distraction and conflict. The emotional state should be one of calmness and well-being. The practice of Yama, Niyama, and Asana, all work together to produce this stable platform, allowing the yogi to begin the practice of yogic breathing with a sense of stability and well-being.

    Second, one needs to understand how to relax unceasingly -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- to continuously surrender all effort, all struggle, let go of and release all tension and strain. This is to be done until one is utterly relaxed and free from all sense of duality, all sense of struggle and effort. When we let go of all physical, then mental, then emotional tension and resistance, our sense of being expands. We "open up" and recover a profound sense of security and well being.

    Ahimsa, non-aggression, the first precept of Yoga, becomes our way of being -- in fact all of the yamas and niyamas begin to arise in us spontaneously.
    Then breathing becomes free and effortless, relaxed and comfortable. There is a sense of "breath taking place." The various types of pranayama, alternate nostril breathing for instance, allow us to focus on the breath in a gentle, natural ways, observing its movement in and out, becoming more aware of where the breathing takes place (abdomen or chest), the duration of the breath, and in the mind observing the breath in this way the breath naturally becomes more subtle, more peaceful, more extended.

    This, in turn, gives rise to a deeper, broader perspective, a spaciousness of mind: thoughts become more soft, subtle, less conflicted, less compelling. We grow calmer, unperturbable. And our sense of conflict, struggle is reduced greatly. With the calming of the mind, the barriers to the shining of awareness diminish, and consciousness expands.

    The mind grows steady, capable of focus and deliberate thought.


    From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

    YS II.46 sthira-sukham-asanam
    (steady-comfortable-position)

    Asana is steady, comfortable.

    YS II.47 prayatna-saithilya-ananta-samapattibhyam
    (effort;tension)(relaxation;loosening)(endless)(coinciding)

    And unceasing relaxing of effort renders the arising of non-dual, comprehensive awareness.

    YS II.48 tato-dvandva-anabhighatah
    (thus)(two-two;opposites)(unassailability)

    As a result, one is unperturbed by the play of opposites.

    YS II.49 tasmin-sati-svasa-prasvasayor-gati-vicchedah-pranayamah
    (from this)(state)(breathing in and out)(flow)(cutting off)(energy-control)

    To abide in this state of unceasing flow, throughout inhalation and exhalation, (is the state of) pranayama.

    YS II.51 bahya-abhyantara-visaya-aksepi-caturthah
    (inner-outer)(object-subject)(fourth)

    (The sense of) outer/inner, subject/object is transcended. This is the fourth limb of yoga.

    YS II.52 tatah-ksiyate-prakasha-avanaram
    (thence)(decreases)(shining light)(covering)

    Thus, that which obscured the shining of inner awareness diminishes.

    YS II.53 dharanasu-ca-yogyata-manasah
    (concentration)(and)(fitness)(thinking ability)

    And the mind gains the capability of steady focus.

    And who wouldn't want that? A clear mind, a steady mind, a balanced mind that is able to focus. This is the gift, the benefit of the practice of pranayama.

    Wednesday
    May182016

    Healthy Relationships

    Tuesday
    May172016

    From the New York Times: Does the Body Reveal Secrets About Our Decisions?

    Sponsored by Oppenheimer Funds

    "If you had a penny for every saying about money, you’d be rich: “A fool and his money are soon parted” or “Health is better than wealth.” When it comes to making smart financial decisions, however, seldom are things so straightforward.

    Since we can’t tell the future, we make a best guess. But what information do we trust, which past experiences do we draw from and what instincts do we follow? And that’s to say nothing of the influences of which we may not even be aware.

    Starting in the 1970s, the field of behavioral economics began examining how humans make decisions based on actual behavior, rather than pure logic.

    Behavioral economists, psychologists, neuroscientists and others are researching the question of how we make decisions. Their studies show that we as humans — and investors — make decisions in many different ways. Very often these choices are not purely rational. Instead, they’re driven by intuition and biology. In an age where we’re learning more about our physiology through technology, we’re also learning how to make better decisions.

    Two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, began studying an approach to decision-making based on human behavior in the 1970s. First termed heuristics-and-biases, it would become the foundation of the field we know today as behavioral economics. In short, heuristics examine the rules of thumb we use to make decisions when information, time, or both, is scarce. These can often reveal cognitive flaws in human judgment, however.

    Behavioral economics was built on a method of decision making called decision analysis. This approach requires that each potential choice be thought through to its logical end. In other words, a pros and cons list. Take how we choose which apartment to rent, for example. It can be effective if the information is reliable, but it’s often time consuming. Worse, if the information is flawed — it turns out the lack of water pressure is the reason the rent is so cheap — the outcomes can be disastrous.

    The person doesn’t know why they have this feeling. Yet, this is strong enough to make an individual act on it.”

    What’s more, humans don’t always think completely rationally. Often we make decisions based on past experiences, analogies or basic instincts. Take the heuristic known as “the gambler’s fallacy,” that compels us to choose heads in a coin toss just because the last flip showed tails."

    read more on the website:

    http://nyti.ms/1skcTHW

     

    Tuesday
    May032016

    New Website: Meditation at Firefly

    Many thanks to Philip Racicot at Firefly Westwood for the beautiful new website he designed and built to support the meditation program we're doing there. You can see it here:

    www.meditationatfirefly.com

    Over the last year we've developed a program that provides instruction and support for a natural, enjoyable approach to meditation that takes the traditional mantra practice of Indian Yoga to a whole new level.

    Mantra isn't a sacred word; it isn't some magical formula. Mantra is a theme, an organizing principle that works on the level of thought, feeling and instinct, allowing mind, heart and body to align and harmonize as one system. Understanding mantra in this way, and getting clear and specific instruction and guidance as to how to use it most affectively, makes true Yoga meditation easily available to everyone.

    Meditation need not be difficult or uncomfortable. It shouldn't be a chore. Done properly, it becomes the most rewarding part of anyone's day -- a mini-vacation from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

    Feel free to join us, each and every Thursday evening. All are welcome.

    Wednesday
    Apr202016

    New Workshop: The Yoga of Love and Relationships

    This workshop is the first in our new series: Yoga Beyond the Mat, exploring how to use the understandings and practices of Yoga to strengthen, enrich and expand our experience of joy and satisfaction in everyday life.

    In this series, we'll explore the inner practices of Yoga, the concepts, tools, resources, perspectives and practices that bring out the beauty and power of the full teaching of Yoga, infusing body, heart and mind with peace, love and understanding.

    This workshop will focus mainly on the teachings of Heart-Centered Yoga on love and relationship, drawn directly from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita and Radiance Sutras, but also from the teachings of contemporary Yoga and Advaita masters.

    The workshop will include discussion, guided meditation and practical advice on how we can use these principles of Heart-Centered Yoga to expand our experience of love, closeness, compassion and mutual support in all our relationships, with a special focus on the most important relationship of all -- the one you have with yourself.

    Where: Firefly Yoga, 311 Washington St, Westwood, MA

    When: May 14,  1pm-4pm

    Cost $45

    You can sign up here: http://www.fireflyyogama.com/westwood-workshops/

    Wednesday
    Mar302016

    What is Yoga Meditation?

    (Newsletter from the Thursday Night Group)

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks again to all of you who are supporting and participating the program. It's so good to sit in Satsang with you every week.

    So what is this meditation? Why do we do it? And why the ongoing practice?

    On the simplest level, meditation is setting aside intimate, quiet time with oneself, and it's using that time to bring all parts of yourself into alignment.

    We use a theme (a mantra) to align our thinking and feeling, our attitudes, understandings and perspectives so that all parts of us are operating without conflict, without stress, and all our activities reflect and support our actual purposes and values in life.

    It may sound complicated but It's actually a lot easier than most people think. Good technique makes all the difference. The real reason most people fail in meditation, or asana practice, isn't that it was too hard or they couldn't do it -- it's that they weren't given a good grounding in proper technique.

    In Yoga practice, technique is everything. Proper technique is what makes Yoga enjoyable and rewarding, safe and productive.

    Success in Mantra Meditation depends less on effort and more on skill and understanding. No amount of mental effort or determination will accomplish what good technique can do. That's why we spend so much time perfecting and clarifying our understanding of practice  -- so that we can get better results with less struggle, less difficulty.

    Done properly, meditation should leave you refreshed, restored, calm, rested and more aligned within yourself so that you can return to activity with a sense of clarity, purpose and capability. It should never feel like a struggle.

    Meditation in the traditional sense, in the Yoga tradition, is a heart-centered practice, not a head-centered one. Correct use of a mantra (think of it as an mental organizing principle that we use to bring all parts of us into harmony) allows a person to transcend the stress and busyness of conscious thought and tap into the deeper currents of feeling, presence and awareness, and this integration of heart and mind allows the inner resources of soul, self and purpose to infuse every part of our being, strengthening and supporting all of our intentions and activities in life.

    By strengthening and supporting your resolve, your sense of purpose and your resourcefulness, Yoga meditation supports your life on four different levels.
    Traditionally, these four parts of life are known as:

    - Dharma (alignment with and support from Nature and the environment)
    - Artha (enjoyment of physical and material security, success and comfort)
    - Kama (fulfillment of enjoyment, happiness and personal desire)
    - Moksha (liberation from all bondage and existential suffering).

    Improvement happens spontaneously in all four parts of life as a result of regular practice.

    The surface, thinking mind is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to utilizing our real capabilities, our full potential. Meditation that stays on the surface of the mind, on the level of monitoring, or practicing non-judgmental awareness may calm a person down, make them more detached, but it won't help a person be more motivated, inspired, resourceful or adaptive, the way Yoga meditation does. It won't enliven the four parts of life the way Yoga does.

    To truly transform the total person, meditation must involve what is called transcendence, diving deep into deeper resources of heart and mind -- where the power lies and the magic happens. Most of our intelligence (EQ and IQ), our creativity, motivational resources and social skills lie deep within, in the deeper parts of heart and mind, waiting to be tapped and utilized for our own benefit and the benefit of others.

    Yoga, and Yoga meditation is a natural, easy, enjoyable way to tap into and enjoy these inner resources.

    In this way we arrive at the totality of ourselves. In this way we begin to enjoy more of the fullness of life.

    Come join us this and every Thursday as we explore and refine our understanding of Yoga and meditation: 311 Washington Street, Westwood, 7:30pm.

    We'll mostly likely be continuing these weekly meetings until the end of May. Until then, the sessions are open to all, beginner and experienced meditator alike -- all levels of practice are welcomed and supported.

    Hope to see you there.

    love,

    Dennis

    339-502-0009
    www.dennisyoung.com


    Sent from my iPad