The Rock Star Who Radiates Divine Playfulness, Bhakti Yoga & Life-Altering Truths | Raghunath Cappo #068

In this episode of the Vital Veda Podcast we have a very special guest, Raghunath (Ray) Cappo, who has a wonderful life-story & absolutely profound teachings to share. 

A hardcore punk rockstar turned celibate monk turned teacher of all things Vedic.
Raghunath (Ray) Cappo achieved great fame & prominence within the punk-rock scene in the 80s, and yet decided to give it all up and wholeheartedly dive into a purely spiritual path. 
For 6 and a half years he became a celibate monk of the Hare Krishna Bhakti-Vedanta tradition and now dedicates himself to teaching & enlightening others with the powerful knowledge he attained during his wonderful lifetime. 

About our Guest: Raghunath Cappo

By the late 1980’s, Ray Cappo's punk rock band had tens of thousands of fans. Ray was a trendsetter in the centre of hardcore culture.
Then Ray discovered Bhakti Yoga, became a monk, and became “Raghunath.”
Interestingly after that, he started another punk rock band called “Shelter”, which became even more successful.
Raghunath Cappo
All members of the Shelter band were Yogi monks who would tour all over America & the world, singing to large crowds about clean living, self-mastery, vegetarianism and God through hardcore punk music. 
Now he’s the opposite of a monk and punk rocker.
Raghunath is a devotee to the Vedas and Bhatki Yogi who is magnificently relevant at integrating vedic wisdom with the modern world and sharing it in the most playful way.
He is a yoga teacher, spiritual storyteller and he is Born to Give.

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Shift from Rajas and Tamas to Sattva

The self realization that allows for the letting-go of toxic habits. 
The power behind realizing this truth for one’s self (pratyakṣa) as opposed to it being “preached” to us.

The Punk Rock Days

Being very attracted to the counterculture but not so much to the lifestyle of drugs & alcohol that is often linked to it. 
Becoming a vegetarian early in life & taking an interest in Ayurveda, but resources were very scarce at the time. 
His First Hardcore Punk-Rock Band       “Youth of Today”
Ragunath (Ray) Cappo singing on-stage for Youth of Today
The cover of Youth of Today's first studio album "Break Down the Walls".
All of his fellow band members became interested in topics such as clean living, positive attitude, vegetarianism, animal rights & karma, so the mission of the band sort of became to rally people into these subjects.  
  • The lyrics were mostly about these topics. 
This marked the beginning of the “straight edge” punk rock movement in the early 1980s.
When the band started gaining popularity and the movement started to grow, Ragunath felt a rise of unhappiness & started to feel uncomfortable with his own ego.
  • He then decided to quit the band and move into an ashram in India to live a monk life. 

Studying the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most famous and important Hindu texts. 
It is the conversation between Lord Krishna & his cousin Arjuna during the Mahabharata (the war at the dawn of the ages). 

  • In this conversation Arjuna explains that he doesn’t want to fight in this war anymore because it pains him to kill his own kin. He instead wants to become a renunciant & go live a spiritual life immersed in meditation.  
  • Krishna answers saying that everyone has their own dharma (action at any given moment in life that leads to the evolution of the individual soul & the collective), and that he cannot run away from this duty as a Kshatriya (warrior); doing so will only increase his suffering & that of the collective. 
Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita
Krishna riding the chariot and Arjuna shooting arrows in the Mahabharata
    • One therefore has to use the god-given gifts and put them to work towards dharma - towards a selfless action that feeds the spirit & not the ego. 
Understanding the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita made Raghunath realize that he had to use his gifts as a musician & lyric writer and put them to work towards a higher goal that would allow him to enlighten others as well as his own spirit.
  • It is then that he started his second band called “Shelter” along with fellow Hare Krishna punk rock musicians.
    • The idea was to make music imbibed with Vedic teachings, but in a language that his audience could understand.
    • Shelter established the Krishnacore punk rock subgenre & became even more famous & popular than “Youth of Today”.

An Overview Of Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is the spiritual path where loving devotion is focused towards a personal deity. 
It’s not so much a mechanical process but a mental disposition in which one deposits pure devotion & love on god. 
It implies the recognition of one’s true self as a pure spirited soul that is immersed in a material world, and understanding that the only way to achieve unity with the whole is by serving God with love and devotion.
The process often linked to bhakti yoga consists of: japa, kirtan, puja, the dedication of all activities to the divine no matter how mundane or extraordinary they are, and the capacity to see divinity in absolutely every living entity.  
Kirtan कीर्तन
Kirtan or Kīrtana is the devotional chanting of hymns, mantras and the praise of deities; when done by a collective together it is called sankirtan & when taken to the streets it is called Nagarsan kirtan or Harinam
Chanting the holy names of God (kirtan & japa) is one of the five potent items of bhakti yoga according to the Caitanya-caritāmṛta of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The other 4 being:
  • Association with devotees
  • Hearing the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
  • Residing at a holy place
  • Worshiping the Deity with faith and veneration
Rama, Lakshmana, Sita & Hanuman
Raghunath Cappo in Kirtan during a Bhakti Retreat
It is said that even if a person who knows absolutely nothing of Vedic wisdom experiences kirtan, there is a possibility they can feel what it’s like to be a paramahamsa (a god-realized person). 
Ahimsa अहिंसा
Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence
It is one of the five yamas (restraints for “right-living”) that Maharishi Patañjali elaborates on in the Yoga Sutras. 
By merely living on earth, one is enforcing some form of violence towards other living beings. The practice of ahimsa implies one being able to see God in everything & worshiping him by trying not to enforce any sort of violence towards any of its infinite forms
Ahimsa is a practice that precedes asana (the postures commonly known as Yoga in the west). 
  • The yogic belief is that true success in Yogasana can only be attained if the Self is purified in thought, word, and deed through the self-restraint of ahimsa.
Yātrā यात्रा
Man Standing in front of a temple in India
Commonly translates to “pilgrimage”.
Raghunath explains the subtle & more explicit types of Yātrā:
  • One ideally makes time every day for spiritual focus (tends to be early in the morning & sometime in the afternoon/evening [e.g. meditation]). 
  • Throughout the month one can take one weekend or one day per week for spiritual focus.
  • In a season, one could go away for one entire weekend and have a full retreat devoted to spiritual focus. 
  • Within the year, one ideally goes at least once on a proper pilgrimage or Yātrā. It is here where one deeply and wholeheartedly dives into spiritual culture all day, every day & for an extended period of time. 
    • This is a very impactful opportunity that has paradigm-shifting effects on those who go ahead and do it.  
    • Raghunath organizes spiritual retreats every year to different places around the world
This is the ancient Indian way. There never were luxurious theme parks or all-inclusive hotels; one simply took their family to holy places.
  • Those experiences will forever be remembered by children & will leave a strong imprint on them.

Raising Devotee Children

The idea of creating “a new normal” for children. 
Teaching them from a very young age about spiritual life & the ways in which they should engage and commune with nature & everything that surrounds them. 

The 6 Pillars of Bhakti Yoga

6 pillars that one can apply to life, whether one is a spiritual person or not, that will have a deep impact in your life:

1. Do not criticize:
Criticism is us trying to correct the world, and it generally serves as a smoke-screen that we use to avoid working on our own problems. 
This doesn’t mean that we do not discern right from wrong, but simply that we do not take great pleasure in finding faults in other people. 
2. Be tolerant:
Instead of complaining, one is tolerant. 
The one who complains on a regular basis is signing a contract with itself to be miserable.
3. Take no offense:
To the degree that one is offended, one suffers. 
Not walking around with resentments. 
Being able to let go of past resentments from traumatic experiences or because of the feeling that “people are out to get me” which usually lead one to find offense where there is not. 
4. Be quick to apologize:
It's easy to forget our own shortcomings when we hurt other people & yet we get resentful when others hurt us. 
One should be very self-aware of one’s own shortcomings & be quick to apologize to others. 
5. See the good in others:
For some people it is very hard to see the good in others. That is a very diseased condition that only perpetuates suffering. 
See the good in others & let them know it. Tell them how you feel & why you appreciate them. 
This practice alone can change your whole life. 
6. Be grateful and keep a tally of your blessings:
Being aware of all the reasons for which one can and should be grateful is a very powerful tool to bring awareness and joy into your life. 
For those people who are suffering from mild depression, this can completely shift their perspective & pull them out of that unconscious state.
  • Advice: open up a note on your phone and write 20 reasons why you are blessed; read it every morning and add two more reasons to the list. Try to make that a morning practice. 

Resources

Wisdom of the Sages Podcast HERE

Ragunath’s website HERE

Ragunath's Instagram (@raghunathyogi) HERE


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Brāhma Muhūrta: The Time of Totality & Potent Part of Each Day | Dylan Smith #067

Vital Veda Podcast Banner: The Brahma Muhurta
The Brāhma Muhūrta, also known as the "time of totality" is the period of the day where creative intelligence is at its peak.

Being able to understand and harness these energies is a fundamental aspect of the Ayurvedic daily routine (dinacharya).


In this Episode we Discuss:

An Introduction to The Brahmā Mūhurta

Brāhma in Sanskrit means totality. 
  • It is the field of creative consciousness from which everything springs. 
Muhūrtha is a unit of time. Vedic tradition divides the day into 30 muhūthas of 48 minutes each. 
The brāhma muhūrta is the time of totality. 
These are the names of the 30 muhurtas:
  1. Samudra-muhurta
  2. Brāhma-muhūrta
  3. Dyumadgadyuti-muhūrta
  4. Viṣṇu-muhūrta
  5. Jīva-muhūrta (also known as Amṛta-muhūrta)
  6. Aditi-muhūrta
  7. Kaṇḍa-muhūrta
  8. Agni-muhūrta
  9. Vidhātṛ-muhūrta
  10. Yama-muhūrta
  11. Aśvinī-muhūrta
  12. Puṣya-muhūrta
  13. Ahirbudhnya-muhūrta
  14. Ajapāda-muhūrta
  15. Girīśa-muhūrta

16. Bhaga-muhūrta,
17. Aryaman-muhūrta,
18. Varuṇa-muhūrta,
19. Vāhinī-muhūrta,
20. Naktanakarā-muhūrta,
21. Puruhūta-muhūrta,
22. Sutamukhī-muhūrta,
23. Viśvedevā-muhūrta,
24. Vidhi-muhūrta,
25. Varaha-muhurta,
26. Vasu-muhūrta,
27. Pitṝ-muhūrta,
28. Mitra-muhūrta,
29. Āhi-muhūrta,
30. Rudra-muhūrta

The shloka (Vedic hymn) that introduces the aspect of Dinacharya in Ayurveda states the following:
Brahmī Muhūrta Uttiṣtha Jīrṇajīrṇa Niru Payan
ब्राह्मी मुहूर्त उत्तिष्ठ,जीर्णाजीर्ण निरु पहन
Brahmī comes from the Sanskrit word brahmīk - which is the verb form of brahmā
  • Therefore meaning “that which has Brahma”. When placed before to the word mūhurta, it is saying “The time period that has the value of Brahma, or of creation”. 
Utishta means “get up” + Jīrṇa and Ajīrṇa mean “digestion and indigestion” + Nirupayan means “to judge”.
What this shloka is saying is: wake up in the brāhma muhūrta (the time of totality) & judge your state of digestion or indigestion. 

The Benefits of The Brahmā Muhūrta

The brahma muhurta is the time period before sunrise.
  • Generally speaking, it is said to go from 3:30 am - 5:30 am, but the cusp of the energies available during this period lies on the last 48 minutes before sunrise
One should ideally wake up every day during the brahma muhurta.
The brahma muhurta is also considered in Ayurveda to be the part of the day with Vata dominance
  • Ayurveda divides the day into three parts pertaining to the three doshas.
      • Vata (space & air elements) - from 3am to 6am. 
      • Kapha (earth & water elements) - from 6am to 10pm. 
      • Pitta (fire & water elements) - from 10pm to 3am. 
  • The Vata part of the day is where the air & space element become the most dominant; where subtle movement and actions start to occur
    • The stars are still shining and very much visible. 
    • It is the time period where dreams often occur. 
Brahma Muhurta
    • It is the time when movement starts to happen; some animals begin to wake up & activity is about to start back again.
    • Curiously, it is also the time when people usually wake up to go to the toilet.
According to Ayurveda, the most important aspect when it comes to sleep is when one sleeps, rather than how many hours one sleeps for
  • One should be asleep between 10pm & 3/4am.
    • The pitta (fire + water) part of the day is where the various metabolic processes occur within the body (like digestion of food). Still being active and doing things (even if it is watching a movie or series on your phone in bed) during that time period takes away from our capacity to properly metabolise, which can, in turn, perpetuate various types of ailments in the body. 
    • To learn more about the optimal guide to sleep listen to Optimal Sleep: The Ultimate Guide | Dylan Smith #045
The vata time of the day is also characterized by the quality of gandhana which means “knowledge perception” & sometimes "manifestation". 
Woman doing Yoga during the brahma muhurta
  • During the Vata part one is able to perceive and absorb more knowledge and wisdom
  • According to Ayurveda, this is a great time to study & to do those activities from which we want to make the most out of
Another quality of this Vata time is gati which means “motion” or “movement”.  
  • Waking up during this time period allows one to feel more energized for the rest of the day, you carry on that gati aspect with you for the rest of the day.
    • You feel more energised, creative & light-minded. 
    • On the contrary, if you sleep in and wake up during the Kapha period, that earth & sluggish element will be carried forth the rest of the day.

  • Another aspect of this gati quality is bowel motion, the elimination of waste (a.k.a. mala kriya), which should be carried out early in the morning - before any coffee or breakfast is ingested.
Waking up during the brahma muhurta will promote the creation of sama dhatu (healthy tissues). 
Advice: if you wake up at any time after 3am, to go to the bathroom or whatever reason, start your day right then and there. 
  • Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue & do your dinacharya
Special circumstances:
Cases like infants. the elderly, sick people & night workers are exceptions to these guidelines. 
If you had a celebration/event, went to sleep later than usual and in the morning feel the need for some extra hours of sleep: 
  • Still wake up during the brahma muhurta, do your dinacharya and once you are done with that, judge what your needs are. If needed, then go back to sleep. 
    • BUT, when going back to sleep, sleep for half of the time that you lost
      • i.e. if you went to sleep 3hs past your bedtime, you can ponder sleeping up to 1.5hs extra in the morning. 

"Waking up and not feeling the need to snooze and stay in bed is an indicator of proper health."

In Ayurveda there is a concept called sama dosha which consists of our capacity to both rapidly fall asleep at night & waking up energized and full of vitality. 
The concept of perfect health in Ayurveda is explained in one shloka of the Sushruta Samhita:
“Sama dosha sama agnischa sama dhatu mala kriyaaha
Prasanna atma indriya manaha swastha iti abhidheeyate”
This means: one is in perfect health when the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), the digestive fire (digestion, assimilation and metabolism) all the body tissues & components (dhatus), all the excretory functions (the physiological functions of urination and defecation) are in perfect order with a pleasantly disposed and contented mind, senses and spirit.

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Siddhis: Supernatural Yogic Capabilities | Eddie Stern #065

Vital Veda Podcast Banner - Siddhis with Eddie Stern
"Siddhis" are extraordinary human capabilities that yogis have been striving to attain for millennia.
And many have been successful, because Siddhis are dormant non-local potentials that exist in every Consciousness state.
A Siddha is one with perfected human capabilities.
One who has sequenced the capabilities of Absolute Totality ("Brahman") to become the perfect (most relevant) expression of “Dharma" (the most evolutionary thing you can be doing in any given moment).
Join Eddie Stern and Ayurvedic practitioner Dylan Smith as they discuss the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patañjali, one of the most well-known yogic texts that described these mystical "siddhis".

About Our Guest: Eddie Stern

Eddie Stern is a Yoga teacher, author, and lecturer from New York City.

He has been practicing Yoga since 1987, and ran his school in SoHo from 1993-2019.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the school became a focal point for Ashtanga Yoga in New York with an eclectic mix of downtown artists and spiritual seekers practicing and meditating next to well-known personalities such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike D, and Lou Reed, in what was also Manhattan’s first consecrated Ganesh Temple.

Eddie Stern

Eddie has a passion for seeking out diversity in all aspects of his work and uses a multidisciplinary approach of combining technology, scientific research, and collaboration to help further understanding, education, and access to yoga.

He continues to study philosophy, Sanskrit, ritual, science, and religion, as well as maintain a passion for the daily practice Yoga.

Eddie learned Ashtanga yoga under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath Jois, of Mysore, India.


In this Episode we Discuss:

Eddie's Dinacharya (Daily Routine)

Maharishi Patañjali as a Historical Figure

Very little is known of him as a person. 
He is estimated to have lived around 300/400 C.E. 
He is credited with two major works:
  • The Yoga Sütras - a text on Yoga theory and practice; one of the most important texts in Indian tradition and the foundation of classical yoga. Here he elaborates on the concept of siddhis and how to master them.  
  • The Mahābhāṣya - a text on Sanskrit grammar.
He is believed to be an incarnation of Adi Sesha, the celestial snake on which Lord Vishnu reclines in the cosmic ocean. Ayurvedic sage Caraka is also said to be an incarnation of Adisesha. 
Illustration of Maharishi Patañjali

An Introduction to Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali are made of 4 chapters (padas) and 196 sutras
A sutra from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
Sütra (सूत्र) in Sanskrit means “string” or “thread”, or something that is woven or stitched together.
A Sütra is a collection of few words that have been “stitched together” to convey in a very brief and precise manner a theorem or maxim that is incontrovertible in meaning.
They very often need to be explained and “fleshed out” by some sort of commentary in order to be fully and properly assimilated.  
In the Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patañjali explores, amongst many other things, the different mechanisms by which a Yogi can conquer siddhis

Siddhis: Divine Human Capabilities

Tat Wale Baba, an Indian siddha
Tat Wale Baba, an Indian siddha - aged 85 when this photo was taken
Siddhi (सिद्धि), means supreme fulfillment & accomplishment. 
Siddhis are divine human capabilities that can be enlivened by a Yogi/Yogini’s advancement through different sadhanas (spiritual exercises).
  • By means of spiritual practice, the Yogi/Yogini eventually achieves a state where supra-normal abilities become at his/her disposal, it is then that they become a Siddha (one with perfected human capabilities).  
Samyama (संयम) meaning to tie together, integrate or bind; is the combined and simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā (intention/concentration), Dhyāna (meditation) and Samādhi (union). 
  • By means of dhāraṇā, one puts intent and focus on one of the siddhis, by means of dhyāna one manifests it into a transcendent state of being, and finally, by achieving samādhi the siddhi is allowed to be integrated and unified with the relative field.

Patañjali Yoga Sutra's - Overview

First Chapter - Samadhi Pada
The first chapter of the Yoga Sutras explores the different types of samadhi, of which there are 8 types listed.

Second Chapter - Sadhana Pada
In the second chapter, Patañjali discusses Kriya Yoga (क्रिया योग).
Kriya” loosely translates as “frictionless action” or “action which does not bind”. Kriya Yoga is the active aspect of Yoga
  • There are three components to Kriyayoga: tapas (asceticism), svadhyaya (recitation) & ishvara pranidhana (devotion to the lord). 
  • Kriya Yoga was revived in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji (also known as “The deathless Yogi”), his sishya (student) - Lahiri Mahasaya - and eventually brought to international awareness by Paramahamsa Yogananda in his widely renowned book “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
Mahavatar Babaji, and Indian Yogi who conquered Sindhis and death itself
Mahavatar Babaji (a.k.a. "The Deathless Yogi")
The 5 first limbs of ashtanga yoga are also discussed - the bahiranga sadhana (the external limbs).
  • Yama - the five yamas are personal virtues one has towards the external (society & all living beings)
  • Niyama - the five niyamas are observances that allow one to transcend the external
  • Asana - postures that allow one to be still and comfortable (this is what is commonly known as Yoga in the west)
  • Pranayama - regulation of breath or prana (life-force). 
  • Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses that allows one to connect with the inner self. 
All of these are considered sadhanas or practices that we can do to achieve the highest states of consciousness
Chapter Three - Vibhuti Pada
Vibhuti means “perfection”. 
The last 3 limbs of ashtanga yoga are discussed here - the antaranga sadhana (the internal limbs). 
  • Dharana - concentration or awareness that is intentionally directed in one direction in an undisturbed manner - usually mantras are chanted and act as the active focus of that awareness.
      • Just like when one places a cup on a table. It is the table that holds the cup up, the cup doesn’t hold itself. In the same manner the Yogi rests its awareness on the object so that the awareness can rest there, immovable. 
  • Dhyana - concentration or awareness that is directed towards one’s inner self; Commonly referred to as “meditation”. A mantra is also used, but it will eventually fade away until a state of transcendence is all that is left. 
  • Samadhi - cosmic consciousness is achieved, the idea of the meditator as an entity completely disappears & all that is left in consciousness is the object that is being meditated on (totality). 
      • The different levels of samadhi are discussed back in chapter 1. 
Samyama is the capacity to direct that tripartite process towards different objects of the world, and in doing so you learn something about the nature of those objects. 
  • Their inner nature is revealed to you, because the chosen object entirely fills your awareness. You take on the defining characteristic of any object in your field of consciousness and allow it to be the only thing that exists there. 
Chapter Four - Kaivalya Pada
Kaivalya means "solitude" or "detachment" in Sanskrit. 
This chapter refers to the isolation of purusha from prakṛti - consciousness from nature -, and therefore the liberation from rebirth and freedom from suffering (moksha).

“Siddhis can be useful because they can help you to understand nature to its finest characteristics. But in the end, the highest siddhi that you can attain is the ability to discern the distinction between nature and consciousness - between prakriti and purusha. When you have that final discernment you are free from the bondage of nature and the suffering which goes along with it.”

Prana, Nadis & The Subtle Physiology of Yoga

Nāḍī (नाडी) in Sanskrit means “channel”
The Nāḍīs are the pathways through which prana (life-force) flows. These channels converge at special points in the body, the chakras. 
Prana” etymologically means “that which causes things to move”; and it’s the life force that animates and coordinates everything, not only within the body but on a cosmic level - everything is constantly moving, some things do so in a more subtle way than others. 
Diagram of the 3 main nadis & the chakras
By becoming aware of the prana that flows within us - and enhancing as well as directing its flow with different yogic practices - one is able to invigorate the body & mind while also opening the door to higher states of consciousness. 
In Pranamayakosha, the energy body there are 72.000 Nāḍīs; yet, these 72.000 mainly spring from three basic nadis: ida, pingala and sushumna.
There are two holes on the sides of the spine which are like conduit pipes for all the nerves to pass - these two holes are ida and pingala
  • Ida represents feminine energy while Pingala represents masculine energy. That is the basic duality of humans, also known as the shiva shakti in vedic tradition.
      • Finding an energetic balance between ida and pingala allows one to flow through life more effortlessly. 
  • Sushumna, the centerpiece of the spine, is attribute-less (meaning beyond duality) and remains mainly dormant.
    • When one manages to direct energies to the sushumna it is said that one achieves the supreme state of vairagya (which translates as “that which is colorless or transparent”).
All the nadis in the energy body
Illustration of all the Nāḍīs in the Pranamayakosha (energy body)
        • Vairagya is a state of inner balance that grants one the capacity to remain utterly unattached, with an infinite capacity to adapt and remain completely unprejudiced to everything no matter the situation one is in.   
        • "Transparent" in the sense that one holds on to nothing.

Siddhis When Put Into Practice

The breathing in and out of air is prana coming and going, and that means that he/she who is breathing is still living in duality - with duality come all the pairs of opposites imaginable: inhalation & exhalation, desire & aversion, success & failure, pleasure & pain, happiness & sadness, etc. 
  • But when a Yogi goes into states of higher levels of consciousness, where duality is transcended, the breathing in and out starts to cease; and when the breathing stops coming out of the nostrils but the body remains alive, the breathing is said to be occurring in Sushumna Nāḍī - the central column.
      • Then aging & thinking stop, and unity consciousness is all that is left, the Yogi as a separate entity ceases to be experienced within his/her own consciousness.
Humans have what are called Central Pattern Generators (CPG) which exist in the spine. These generators drive and maintain certain behaviors in the body such as respiratory rhythms. 
  • The theory is that when inhalation and exhalation cease to exist but the body continues to live, it is because these CPGs are still propagating these impulses of respiratory rhythms inside the spinal column, and that is the reason Sushumna Nāḍī is also called “Internal Breathing” - since the breath only occurs internally in the spine. 
There is also the theory that humans hold all sorts of dormant cells within our bodies, hibernation cells being one type (which for example bears use).
  • Very advanced Yogis manage to awaken and control these dormant cells during extended periods of deep samadhi & meditation and they can slow down the metabolic needs of the body to almost zero
  • Some Yogis are known to not eat any food or drink anything for several years and still live - their mastery over their metabolism is how they manage to do this. 
Mahananda Siddha
Mahananda Siddha
    • This is a siddhi called Kantha Kupe, which translates to hollowness/space of the throat & freedom from all behaviors motivated by fear or survival. 
    • Dylan personally met in India a yogi called Mahananda Siddha, who hasn’t eaten or drank anything in nearly two decades since Shiva came before him and gave him the gift to live 500 years.
      • He lays in fire every morning to receive Prana and the Amrita flows from his mouth to feed his body.
      • Mahananda Siddha is the 19th Siddha in India.
    • Dr. Robert Svoboda's (guest on ep. #062) Guru, Jatala Sadhu Ram Vishwambar Das,  was believed to have lived for over 400 years.
      • Dr. Svoboda explained that Jatala Sadhu didn't eat any food other than Tobacco, and that he performed inner alchemy to turn that "poison" into Amrita (nectar).
    • Another example of a woman saint who has attained siddhis is Sri Sri Sri Mahayogini Manikeshwari Matha.
      • She doesn't eat or drink and is believed to have attained the astha-siddhis (anima, mahima, garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, isatva and vasitva).

Resources

More on the three Nadis HERE

Sadhguru on the three Nadis HERE

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Eddie's Instagram Account HERE

Eddie's and Deepak Chopra's "Yoga For Enlightenment" Youtube Series HERE

Eddie's Website HERE

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Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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The Yoga of Time, Vedic Medicine & The Veda Mandala | Prashanti de Jager, Master Herbalist #059

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Prashanti’s clinical forte and specialty is his ability to use many of the “Vedic sciences” - Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology, Yoga, Vaastu (Vedic Architecture), Advaita and Dhanurveda (the yoga of warfare) to analyze, diagnose, treat and empower his clients.

The episode is for the “Vedic nerds”, as we explore with a scientifically eccentric perception, the richness that the Laws of Nature: The Veda, has to offer.
Prashanti has unique capabilities to perceive the subtle in all areas of life, as well as an expanded spectrum of awareness on the true depths of wisdom traditions.

About Our Guest: Prashanti de Jager

Prashanti’s clinical forte and specialty is his ability to use many of the “Vedic sciences” - Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology, Yoga, Vaastu (Vedic Architecture), Advaita, Dhanurveda (the yoga of warfare), too analyse, diagnose, treat and empower his clients. 

He shares these potent vedic sciences through The Veda Mandala.

This powerful “confluence of factors” is comparable to having a session with ten different wellness guides all at once. After earning many degrees from the University of Michigan in the fields of Math, Engineering, Biophysics and Emergency Medicine, and studying numerous adjunct healing modalities, Prashanti moved to India in 1990 to study Advaita and the Vedic Sciences.

Prashanti De Jager holding a herb in the Himalayas

On his travels, he experienced the very good fortune of a decade of sitting at the feet of epic paragons like Sri H.W.L. Poonja, Annamalai Swami, Lakshman Swami, the Dalai Lama, Urgen Tulku, Jamgong Kontrul Rinpoche, Hart de Fou, Kaviraj Vaidya Nanakchand Sharma, as well a dozens of eminent Yogis, Priests, Scientists and many truly empowered Grand Mothers.

Traveling all over India training as a Yogi, Clinician and an Ethnopharmacologist, he settled in Lucknow, North India, where he started to treat hundreds of locals and foreigners that came to him with a vast number of health issues.

To ensure high-quality formulas for his clients, he started an Ayurvedic herb company in 1993 in North India where he grew, wild-crafted and processed the herbs by hand. As the reputation for these herbs grew worldwide, a beautiful team/Vision called ‘Organic India’ emerged to serve the demand in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way.

Besides being a Founder of Organic India, he also is a trustee on other projects like the Dunagiri Foundation Trust, instilling sustainable herbal wild-crafting amongst thousands of tribals in central India and also in the fragile ecosystems of the High Himalayas.

He edits & writes articles for numerous magazines and his own books, and teaches classes on herbs and Ayurvedic Medicine around the world.

He is one of Tulsi’s (holy basil) humans.

a.k.a. Haldi Baba (Haldi being turmeric) - Prashanti wrote one of the most comprehensive - spirit world view, on turmeric. “Turmeric The Ayurvedic Spice of Life”


In this Episode we Discuss:

Sahanau Vavatu

ॐ सह नाववतु। Om, May we all be protected

सह नौ भुनक्तु। May we all be nourished

सह वीर्यं करवावहै। May we work together with great energy

तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु May our intellect be sharpened (may our study be effective)

मा विद्विषावहै। Let there be no Animosity amongst us

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ Om, peace (in me), peace (in nature), peace (in divine forces)

Understanding the root value and spirit centric worldview of Sanskrit

Tripura Darshan (Three worldview)
  1. Spirit centric
  2. Energy centric
  3. Mass centric
Beginning of the Rig Veda
4 levels of Vat (Truth)
  1. Para-vak - the ultimate reality in the form of vibrations, of which thought and words are rough representations. It is the absolute expressed as transcendental           sound (Mantras come from here). 
  2. Pashyanthi vak - here you can have the spirit centric worldview. This is where creativity and genius are. The Heart is dominant.
  3. Madhyama vak - truth touches our minds. The middle between subtle thought and gross speech. The Throat is dominant.
  4. Vaikhari vak - truth touches our lips. Most people are here. Where words come out the mouth in the form of gross physical sound.

Vaastu Sastra

The Vedic science of harmonious design.

Vaastu is fundamental, it is at the base of the Veda Mandala because from Vaastu you can create every other science.

Vaca (calamus acorus)

To read our article on the many uses & benefits of Vaca click HERE
acorus calamus (vaca) roots

Two types of memory

  1. Episodic memory: centered around experiences and events
  2. Semantic/Terrain memory: memory of general knowledge (facts, ideas, concepts and the general meaning of things).

The importance of Dinacharya (daily routine)

The importance of waking up before the sunrise
The value that there is in watching the sunrise.
Surya Traataka:
Various practices to honour the sun.
Starting and watching the rising sun.
The frequency of light that a ghee lamp emits directly impacts the third eye.

Sunrise in Nepal

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Yama (attitudes toward our environment)
Niyama (attitudes toward ourselves)
Asana (physical postures)
Pranayama (restraint or expansion of the breath)
Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
Dharana (intention & intent): Tejas (Fire, energy, brilliance) is developed in this sixth limb.
Dhyana (meditation)
Samadhi (complete integration)

Vaidyas (Ayurvedic Physicians)

Balaraj Maharishi
He sent Prashanti to Tirumula around 1993 to find a very special majik plant and he found it!
Balaraj Maharishi and the first clinical trial of Ayurvedic medicines in the West: Link to read more HERE
Dr. Triguna
Famous pulse physician.

Siddhis - Divine Human Capabilities

How do humans achieve siddhis?
  • Past lives influencing siddhis.
  • Sampradaya - the core of the lineage that has sampradaya has a living goddess (vidya / supreme knowledge) at it’s core. Vidya comes from Pashyanthi vak.
  • Mantras call the Devis (divine beings) and Mahavidyas (10 aspects of mother divine)
  • Bhutas (any encapsulated intelligence with an agenda or energetic force) give siddhis. e.g. Nazi Germany was a Bhuta.
  • Bhutas hide in the life of your own identity. 
Studying elemental bhutas by going close to bush/forest fires and storms.
  • Studying how nature's elements are Beings.
Trigunas (Three Prime Attributes): Sattva (Purity), Rajas (Stimulation), Tamas (Inertia)

Rare, Endangered and Divine Healing Herbs

Divya Aushadhis (Divine Herbs)
Dronagiri Mountain in Tibetan Nitti Valley (where Hanuman picked up a mountain to heal wounds).

Once you're in Joshimath, you go left to Badrinath , to the right you go to Tibetan Nitti Valley. Half way up that valley to the right is Dronigeri. You can see at the top of the mountain Hanuman scooped a trench off the side.

Sanjeevani Booti - the herb Hanuman used to heal Lakshman according to the Ramayana. 
Astavarga -  8 High Himalayan deep nectar rejuvenation orchid herbs.

Very rare and hard to find. Prashanti is probably the only person in the world which produces a formula close to Astavarga (he calls it “Orchid Ojas”).

Hanuman holding mountain
Using “substitutes” for rare herbs.

Prashanti created a whole new metric scale to grade herbs and create the “Astavarga formula.”

The corruption & lies in the Ayurvedic herb industry.
The Processing of Herbs (Shodasha Samskāra):
  • Some of these herbs hate metal, e.g. Amalaki hates metal.
  • Preparing herbs after “lighting up” your chakras and chanting mantras.
  • Preparing herbs in the presence of or nearby Guru.
“The ultimate medicine made, is the medicine maker.”Becoming medicine via medicine making.

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Prashanti’s huge contribution to Tulsi
For more information on the many healing properties of Tulsi read our article HERE

Turmeric & building resilience in the body

When Prashanti “received the codes” for Turmeric.

Eating 30-40g of turmeric (haldi/haridra) & 10-20g of ashwagandha per day.

Difference between dried and fresh turmeric and ginger.

The myth that black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric. 

Trikatu (ginger, long pepper, and black pepper), especially ginger, is the spice that increases the absorption of turmeric.

To read more on Turmeric and its many health benefits click HERE 

Trikatu (Three Pungents)

  1. Ginger - Sattvic - To read more on Ginger click HERE.
  2. Pippali (Piper Longum) - bonfire rasayana (elixir) that has heat but also is a rasayana. It is agni (fire) and amrit (nectar) at the same time.
  3. Marica (Black Pepper) - the most rajasic (stimulating) of them all. Rajas agitates itself to decay. 

Herbal Formulas

Single Herbs vs Formulas.
3 herbs in a formula are great // 5-to-10-ingredients formulas can be challenging for the body.
  • More than three ingredients in a formula - can create confusion. 
But when you cook all together, even 50 ingredients, you can make it sama (healthy and compatible). e.g. preparations like Avaleham (paste), or Amrit/Aristam (herbal wine).

How to apply the principles of Ayurveda to every given situation

3 main concepts:
  • Kala - time.
  • Desa - place.
  • Patra - lineage.
E.g. Treating a 19-Year-Old San Francisco Goth Using the Principles of Ayurveda: Through fashion advice, advicing to wake up at 3am to go party and herb consumption. 
Diversity and curvature vs. straight line.
All the polarities coming into the singularity.
All chakras being in the heart chakra. 

The Puranas

  1. Exegesis - the methodology of how you read or interpret any ancient text or book. 
  2. Repetition - you see it all over the place.
  3. Hyperbolae - e.g. “If you stand on your head for 3 hours you will be enlightened”, said like that to remember, do not take it literally.
3 recurring themes in the Puranas (“The Old Things / Old Ones”)
  1. Tulsipurifies family karma. Points to the epi-genetic qualities of tulsi. Genes don’t change, but their expression changes.
  2. Sirsasana (Head stand).
  3. Ēkādaśi.
    • Literally means 11.
    • 11th lunar day, 2x/month.
    • There is one Purana all on Ēkādaśi.
    • Fasting not only fasting from food, but from the mundane, the heavy - feast on the light, energy and shakti.
    • It’s a great way to cyclically fast.

Prashanti’s Veda Mandala

The Veda Mandala - bringing all vedic sciences together, protecting their essence.
5 Principles for evolving:
  1. Pattern interrupt - e.g. rising run, winter solstice. 
  2. New frame of reference
  3. Trim story
  4. Curate memory 
  5. Shift identity.
Allowing for a truer understanding of “inauspicious” times.
The Veda Mandala
Shamshan sadhana
Practicing it at midnight on the ghats (river banks) of Varanasi.
When the world gets destroyed, Rudra (Lord Siva) maintains Varanasi. 

The Power of Tejas

Tejas =   

It signifies creative will power, splendor and brilliance. At the same time being a very grounded, intentional and spirited force. 

India, Powerful Holy Places and Herbs

Certain places where reality gets thin. Then and there you can see so much truth.

The holiest of holy temples in Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai and Manikarnika ghat in Varanasi.

Tirumala, an area around a Visnu temple (Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple) which is the most visited and wealthiest temple in the world.

Up the mountain from the city of Tirupati.

The Ramban herb - “Rama’s Arrows”
  • Prashanti was told by Balaraj Maharishi to find, identify and process it. Around 1993.
  • Not mentioned anywhere.
  • Prashanti was selling one leaf for $10-100.
  • Incredibly nootropic (cognitive enhancing). 
The Blue Lotus
  • Vertical element of integration.
  • Makes you feel like you are walking two inches off the ground. 
Kushta (Saussurea lappa)
  • Rasa - Bitter, pungent, sweet
  • Virya - Hot
  • Vipaka - Pungent.
  • Gunas - Dry, light, sharp.
  • The brother of Soma. Also going extinct. A high Himalayan Angelica.
Blue Lotus Flower

More on Powerful Vedic Wisdom

Haasta - the combination of Vastu, Jyotish and Ayurveda.
Non-linear knowledge: 

Prana in the Himalayas and the grace, you start receiving non-linear knowledge. 

Covid being part of a major transition that the world will undergo in the next 20 years. 

Prashanti’s definition of Dharma
The Yoga of Time
Solstice:
  • When the sun stops. “Sun stillness.”
  • Siva, masculin.
Winter solstice:
  • A time to dive deep and shift your identity, and then take action and dharma.
  • Adaptogenic herbs, build your ojas (Article on Ojas VV).
  • Take Ashtavarga around the start of winter solstice. Then don’t have to take it for the rest of the year.
  • Trees don’t dry out, they shift their juice from their periphery to their core.
  • Taking herbs.
Equinox:
  • Shakti, feminine.
  • Half way between the solstices.
  • When the energy is it’s fastest.
  • Power, shakti.
Navaratri - Nine nights of mother divine 

To read more on how to tap into mother divine and the regenerative forces of Navaratri click HERE

Saptaka-Charya - Rhythms of the week.


Resources

The Veda Mandala website

Prashanti's personal website

Prashanti's Instagram Account (@prashanti.veda.mandala)

Prashanti's Facebook Account

Support The Show

Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


Assimilating Rich Yogic Traditions Relevant For Today | Eddie Stern #053

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“Yoga does not ask you to be more than you are, But yoga does ask you to be all that you are” ~ Eddie Stern

Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices originally developed in ancient India that nowadays has undergone a complete resurgence, particularly in the west. 

Many yogic practitioners define the benefits of the daily practice of Yoga as boundless, and still many, although interested, find it hard to include practices such as this in their daily lives.

Some do not find the correct introductory stimulus and for others it is their surrounding environment that doesn't propeciate the learning. 

In this day and age, there are several Yogic teachers trying to approach the average consumer with these traditional life-enhancing techniques and other watered-down versions of them. Today’s guest is one of the most popular and well-established people to do so in the United States...

About Our Guest: Eddie Stern

Eddie Stern is a Yoga teacher, author, and lecturer from New York City.

He has been practicing Yoga since 1987, and ran his school in SoHo from 1993-2019.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the school became a focal point for Ashtanga Yoga in New York with an eclectic mix of downtown artists and spiritual seekers practicing and meditating next to well-known personalities such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike D, and Lou Reed, in what was also Manhattan’s first consecrated Ganesh Temple.

Eddie Stern

Eddie has a passion for seeking out diversity in all aspects of his work and uses a multidisciplinary approach of combining technology, scientific research, and collaboration to help further understanding, education, and access to yoga.

He continues to study philosophy, Sanskrit, ritual, science, and religion, as well as maintain a passion for the daily practice Yoga.

Eddie learned Ashtanga yoga under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath Jois, of Mysore, India.


In this Episode we Discuss:

Eddie's and Dylan's morning routine (dinacharya).

Eddie is reading 60 verses per day, every day, for 1 year of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavatam Purana)

Swadaya

The study of the chapters of self, self reflection.

adi / ayana: To move firmly towards.

Swa: Self.

Swa - adyaya: Chapter

Yoga allowing us to get in touch with the higher/deeper narrative of our beingGoing beyond the 'little stories' we tell ourselves about what our life has been like or what has happened to us, until the only story left is our true being, pure existence.

How to mentally approach the Puranas and hindi epics to take advantage of their teachings.  

Silhouette of woman doing Yoga during sunrise

Eddie’s journey into India and the Yogic traditions

The journey of the previous generation’s most notorious spiritual seekers (e.g. Ram Dass and Radanath Swami) and what the context was like when they travelled to India.

The alleged difference between first experiencing Yoga, India and the Vedic Traditions in the late 20th century vs. what a new seeker/student experiences today.  

Three monks sitting in the entrance of a buddhist temple

Integrating religious beliefs such as Judaism with Vedic and Hindu practices. 

Some of Eddie's current projects: 

“The Breathing App” for free in app stores: provides guided paced breathing to deal with stress

Yoga 365: one minute Yoga practice every day for a year, for beginners who don't have time to put into practice a 20 minute or one hour classes any day of the week. For every one purchase, a Yoga 365 is gifted to a healthcare worker working with covid patients.   

The Urban Yogis, alongside Deepak Chopra and Erica Ford: teaching young adults coming from high-gun-violence-areas to be Yoga and Meditation teachers and also help them find steady jobs.

Breathing and rehabilitation practices for people suffering and recovering from Covid-19. In early stages of the project.  

Every-day global Yoga classes online for free or by donation.

Scroll down to "Resources" to find out more about these projects and many others. 

Eddie Stern giving a Yoga class

Ego Traps & Eddie's favorite Slohka

Going against the fallacy that because of doing a spiritual practice periodically you are better off than those who don’t.

Favorite Slohka: Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2, Verse 48

Resources

Eddie’s daily online yoga classes. - eddiestern.com

Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, Eddie is a newly appointed advisory board member to the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance.

Author of One Simple Thing: A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life, a bestselling book that examines from both a Western scientific perspective and an Eastern philosophical perspective the underlying mechanisms that make yoga an amazingly effective practice for health, wellbeing, and spiritual development.

The Breathing App, a free app which guides the user in a paced breathing exercise that balances the nervous system, helping to improve sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety. Created with his wife, Jocelyne Stern, and app programmer and collaborator Sergey Varichev.

International Yoga and Science Conferences, an ongoing forum for presenting rigorous scientific evidence on yoga and meditation which is accessible, inspiring, and actionable; created with Dr. Marshall Hagins.

Namarupa, Categories of Indian Thought, a Hindu philosophy and art journal, and a boutique book publishing house, with partner Robert Moses.

Engineering Health, a free, online yoga and physiology program with the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, created with Alexandra Seidenstein and Dr. Erich Anderer.

Urban Yogis, a yoga and meditation program for community transformation led by Juquille Johnston, Jaytaun MacMillan, Raheem Lewis, and Pastor NaRon Tillman, in South Jamaica, Queens.

LIFE Camp is a gun violence reduction program in South Jamaica, Queens, started and run by Erica Ford. The program uses a multi-modality intervention model to interrupt violence before it can occur. It is a city-funded program and the instigator of the NYC Crisis Management System which has reduced shootings by 40% in NYC. Eddie is the current co-Chairperson of LIFE Camp.

Set/Reset (previously Breathe, Move, Rest) Eddie was the co-founder of this health and wellness educational non-profit that has trained school teachers in 120 schools in the US in health and wellness practices based on yoga and meditation (reaching approximately 70,000 school kids, K-12.) He was a founding board member of Bent On Learning, nonprofit organization committed to teaching yoga to New York City public school children. As well, he led curriculum writing teams for Pure Edge, and other yoga/health and wellness in schools non-profits.

Inner Peace Network, a new platform devoted to supporting the teachers and teachings of the great wisdom traditions, and the cultures that they have emerged from.

Bhāgavatam Purana (the story of Lord Krishna) by Krishna Dvaipāyana a.k.a. Vyasa 

-

Final Image taken from Helsingin's Astanga Joogakoulu - Astanga Special Workshop 2022

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Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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Share this episode on Facebook / Share this episode on Twitter


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


The Power of Hanuman: Accessing The Superman Within You

Illustration of Hanuman, a Vedic god

While I will share with you the beautiful mythological story of Hanuman, the deeper significance and intended outcomes you can experience from this tale will also be shared.

The Actual Purpose of Mythology

The Gods and Goddesses of Indian “Mythology” are symbols of states of consciousness. Usually states of higher and expanded consciousness which are told in a legendary format. The sequence of the story (legend) triggers a “eureka” experience. This connects oneself with the larger universe, usually experienced in an abstract fashion.

Myth is the story in the collective imagination that explains the infinite mystery of our existence.

Story Of Hanuman

It is told that as a child, Hanuman rose to the skies to catch the sun, thinking that it was a bright and delicious fruit, and wanted to eat it. He rose up to the skies in the direction of the sun to grab that substance and swallow it.

Indra, the ruler of the heavens, was startled at this adventure of a mortal trying to ascend to the heavens and grab the solar orb, so he gave such a blow on the chin of this little boy with his weapon called Vajra (disc) and Hanuman fell down unconscious.

Hanuman’s father, Vayu (wind god) got annoyed at this.

“My son has been treated so badly by these gods…I shall teach these fellows a lesson.” Vayu, the wind god, withdrew himself from all parts, and everyone stopped breathing. Nobody could breathe. There was suffocation and agony everywhere, and even the celestials ran to Brahma (the Creator): “There is some terrific suffering. This wind is very angry. Please go and give him blessing.”

Brahma then blessed Hanuman - “No weapon can hurt this child. Not even the five elements can harm him. Not even celestial missiles except my own Brahmastra can have any effect on him…he shall be invincible and no one can stand before him.”

Hanuman is the Aspect of Consciousness (in everyone and everything) which encompasses:

Cosmic Vayu (Air) manifests into Prana (Life-force)

Not just our physical prana but the prana of our mind and all the vibratory forces in the universe.

Vayu manifests as technological information (data, calculations, communications), light, or electrical force.

Cosmic Vayu links us to the cosmic mind that aligns all minds together in an interconnected network of thought. Hanuman is the most wise and observant. A master who decisively discriminates between the intellect (buddhi) and the inner intelligence (purusha) to reveal the highest truth.

This prana manifests when you connect to the unlimited potentials within us. 

Mastering the Dynamic Power of Yoga

Cosmic Vayu gives flexibility of body, unbounded vitality, stout-hearted will power, motivation and dynamic mind capacity.

Tapping into Hanuman consciousness grants certain yoga siddhis (dormant non-local potentials of perfected human-capabilities that exist in every consciousness). Capabilities like movement, extraordinary perceptivity and mastery of the senses and cosmic energies.

Our highest prana merges with immortal Prana. Dedicate ourselves as Hanuman to Rama, to offer our mortality or temporal existence to the immortal and infinite.

Cosmic Vayu Attunes One to Live in Harmony with Nature

Vayu governs the creation and equilibrium of nature and the universe as a whole.

As the wind blows, so the clouds move and rain.

Vayu moves the sun and moon, which govern the earth through gravity. Cosmic Vayu actually creates galaxies (through smoke clouds).

Hanuman is the conduit of the power of Rama: universal Self who orchestrates all nature. This is true bhakti (devotion).

Incredible Strength

Self-power (Atma Shakti) to realise our higher potential and accomplish what is supernatural and transformational. Fearlessness, self-confidence, daring and boldness to attempt the impossible and succeed.

Established in the field of transcendence, then we can playfully interact with all the energies across the vast layers of the universe.

Access your deeper cosmic energy and Become Hanuman.

Credits:

Bibliography: American Institute of Vedic Studies, David Frawley.
Feature photo: Art by MTM Nataraja
other art: unknown, but thank you.

Related Reading: The Power of Mother Divine and “Navaratri” and How to Access Its Regenerative Energy


Jyotish: Vedic Astrology | Anand Mehrotra #003

Jyotish, a profound mathematical sophisticated form of astrology. It describes how planetary patterns at the time of our birth give valuable clues in helping us understand our life’s journey. Through careful analysis of these cosmic influences, Jyotish can help us realistically evaluate our strengths and weaknesses in order to optimise our full potential.

Join expert visionary master teacher and Jyotishi, Anand Mehrotra, as we dispel dogmas, myths and inaccurate perceptions about Jyotish and other aspects of the veda.

Anand reveals to us a great introduction and general overview about Jyotish - “the light of the self.” He recommends specific regimes for you to do during new moon, full moon and eclipses. Anand beautifully expresses the qualities of the core seven planets by relating them with their signifying chakras and deity expressions.


ABOUT ANAND MEHROTRA

Anand is a visionary master teacher, community and thought leader, conscious entrepreneur and Jyotishi (vedic astrologer). Anand was born, raised and still resides in Rishikesh, a holy town by the Ganga river at the foot hills of the Himlayas in North India.

He is the founder and master teacher of Sattva Yoga, a radically holistic, ever-evolving practice that is currently growing rapidly.
He teaches around the world to give wisdom talks, host gatherings, satsangs, meditations, provides Vedic astrology readings, leads Sattva Yoga journeys, retreats and trainings.

Anand leads two non for profit organisations, The Khushi Charitable Society and Sattva Foundation, and has launched several businesses based on sustainable practices and supporting local communities.


In this Episode we Discuss:

  • The role of Jyotish in expanding holistic, all inclusive knowledge.
  • What is Jyotish - the “eye of the veda.” The light of self.
  • “A physician who doesn’t know astrology should not call himself a physician.” ~ Hippocrates. (5:00)
  • The study of the movement and flow of Jeeva (individuality) in time. How to utilise our journey in this time bound expression in the highest manner possible. (8:05)
  • “The Entry” - time and place of birth is a karmic footprint which will provide the information of ones karma.
  • The difference between Jyotish and Western Astrology. (12:55)
  • Rahu and Ketu - Two shadow planets that cause eclipses and balance kundalini. (15:05)
    • Rahu - north lunar node - dragons head. Mind.
    • Creative, expansive. Psychosis.
    • Higher level - Impact, expansion, self actualisation. External.
    • Further - fearlessness, which gives rise to kundalini (infinite potential). Fear constricts us from our infinite potential. Rahu plays on your fears.
    • Ketu - south lunar node - dragons tail. Body.
    • Withdrawing, depressive, chronic illnesses.
    • Higher level - liberation, inner realisation. Internal.
    • Past.
    • Rahu was a chandala. The god split his head but because of his high state of consciousness he was immortal. So the head become Rahu. Tail became Ketu.
    • Snakes are Karayaka (physical expression of energy) for Rahu and Ketu. (18:48)
  • Multiple levels of dreaming. (19:25)
  • When Rahu and Ketu (Ida and Pingala) merge in a balanced state along the spine the sushumna opens. Associated with Kundaliuni Shakti. Potential to awaken your kundalini, your infinite potential. (19:55)
  • Regimen for Eclipses - Optimal uses of energy. Not a time to start business venture. Not creative energy. More of a meditative energy. (20:55)
  • Regimen for No Moon: inward, meditative (23:09)
  • Regimen for New Moon: initiatives, new beginnings, ventures, treatments.
  • Regimen for Full Moon - healing, self-healing. Gathering, collective gatherings, agni-hotras, kirtan, yagya, rituals, pujas, ceremonies. Be with elements, be in nature, especially water element. (23:55)
  • Freeing your bondage and transcending your personal karmic journey to live with the natural flow of time. (25:42)
  • The 7 Grahas (Planets) and their signifying Chakras and Deity Expressions (30:37)
    1. Shani (Saturn) - Shiva - Muladhara (root) Chakra. - Seat of infinite potential. Fearlessness, exploring the great unknown, inwardness, meditative. Shani is the great teacher.
    2. Guru (Jupiter) - Ganesh - Second Chakra. - Playfulness, indulging in wordy pleasures.
    3. Mangal (Mars) - Hanuman and Kartikaya. - Navel Chakra. - Vitality, strength, warrior, strong agni.
    4. Shukra (Venus) - Laksmi and Krishna - Heart Chakra. - Art, creativity, beauty. The brightest start in the sky.
    5. Buddh (Mercury) - Saraswati and Buddha - Throat Chakra - Intellect, mind, wisdom, conceptual knowledge
    6. Surya (Sun) and Chandra (Moon) - Shiva and Skati - 3rd eye.
  • No planet at Brahamsrara (crown chakra) as you are liberated by the burden of living (Jiva Mukta). You can still live in the human body, but you live in dharma free from bondage to karma.
  • Sattisati: 7.5 year transit of Saturn over the moon (37:30) - Saturn is the great teacher which forces you to evolve, grow and expand. It may seem challenging at the time, but this is a purification. There are some which you can change, and you should fully change those. There is some things which you cannot change, which you must completely accept.
  • Gemstones as a supplement to optimise a particular energy. (43:49)

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True Exercise and Real Modern Yoga | Simon Borg-Olivier #002

What are the true purpose and aims of exercise?

What does exercise actually mean?

How do you most effectively reap the benefits of exercise without potentially damaging your physiology?

Is the exercise activity or yoga class that you are attending to actually benefiting your health or is it doing more damage than good?

In this podcast, we investigate the mechanisms of “Hatha Yoga” - the physical aspect of yoga, including the asanas (postures) and pranayama (breath work) as well as exercise and movement in general

Simon reveals basic misunderstanding and misconceptions people have about modern Yoga and exercise based science. He shares correlations between types of movement with the state of your nervous system.

Simon and reveals tips to revolutionise your exercise and yoga practice for maximum vitality, energy and prana (life-force to every cell in your body).


ABOUT SIMON BORG-OLIVIER

Simon Borg-Olivier MSc BAppSc (Physiotherapy) APAM C-IAYT has been practicing yoga for 50 years and teaching for 35 years. He has also been a registered physiotherapist for 20 years. Simon is co-director of YogaSynergy, a research scientist and a University lecturer. He has been regularly invited to teach lifestyle, posture, movement and breathing at conferences and festivals internationally since 1990.


In this Episode we Discuss:

  • Simon’s background, teachers and gurus. (3:55)
  • Yoga: The art of learning how not to breathe. (4:46)
  • Basic misunderstanding and misconceptions people have about modern Yoga and exercise based science (10:05)
  • The myth of “No Pain No Gain” (13:48)
  • Excessive exercise preventing weight loss due to excessive sympathetic nervous system activation. (14:05)
  • Nasal breathing vs. mouth breathing. (14:35)
  • Excessive sympathetic nervous system (Flight or Fight) activation. (16:28)
  • Hyperventilation: Wim Hof method, Shamanic healings, Sound healings. (18:13)
  • The Wim Hof Method - an advanced yogic technique that people are missing the essence of.
  • Why Simon had to apologise to those he taught Yoga to 20-30 years ago. (27:53)
  • Health risks of high impact sport and intense cardio (30:41)
  • The real meaning of “cardio” - Good cardiovascular work - improving function of blood vessels, rather than the heart taking all the strain. (31:30)
  • The general global purpose of yoga and physiological purpose of yoga. (33:21)
  • Adapting traditional yoga teachings for the modern western body. (36:21)
  • The danger of headstands for westerners, but natural for traditional Asians. (38:30).
  • Simons current guru: Master Zhen Hua Yang - Shaolin monk, martial arts expert and energy master. (39:37)
  • Simple practices to revolutionise your body to become more “natural” during practice: (42:07)
  • Simple practices to incorporate in your day-to-day life: (48:47)
    1. Active movement.
    2. Move from your core.
    3. Breath naturally.
    4. Move in a fluid way with 3D space.
  • Simon’s philosophy of life: (52:05)
  1. Enjoy life - it’s a choice.
  2. Look after our bodies.
  3. Help other people enjoy life.

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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.

Travel Healthy! Reduce Aeroplane Stress

Aeroplane travel will surreptitiously “suck the life out of you.” It sucks all the moisture out of your body.
With the humidity level in the cabins of most commercial aeroplanes at just 10-20%, and some even as low as 1%!(1), this makes aeroplanes drier than the Sahara Desert! which sits at about 25% humidity.

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror after travelling, especially if you travel a lot. If you are slightly in tune with your body, you will probably realise how much aeroplane travel accelerates your ageing process.

You may be surprised to learn the many risks associated with air travel.

For example, one study shows how bacteria can stay alive and continue to be infectious for more than a week on the armrests, seat pockets, seats and bathroom doors of commercial aircrafts. The dry air is said to contribute to their extra-long life on aeroplanes. (2)

That’s not to mention the health risks associated with jet lag, dehydration, swelling and fatigue.

Altitude Shock = Dehydration & Dryness

Ever wonder why it is so easy to fall asleep in a plane? It is likely because the oxygen has been literally sucked out of your brain as the cabin is being pressurised.

When people flock to mountain towns to hike, ski or for leisure, it is very common for them to get altitude sickness. Even fit athletes who train at altitude can tell the difference when they climb to 3,000 meters. In a plane, this altitude change happens in just a couple of minutes!

Dehydration and body dryness is the most instant result of altitude shock.

If you are flying a lot and your body is repeatedly put through such drastic altitude changes, the effects become chronic. Chronic sub-clinical dehydration will first dry out the outer skin and then dry out the skin associated lymph beneath the skin. When this dries out, lymphatic flow is hampered, compromising its function of draining toxins and circulating white blood cells around the body for immunity.

The good news is, I’ve compiled some effective strategies to buffer these risks. Incorporating just a few simple tips to your air travel routine will help lessen the impact of flying and help you feel more vibrant during and after your trips.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Pre-Hydrate

For 1-2 days before you fly, make every effort to drink plenty of warm-hot water. Approximately 2-3L depending on your body weight. Fresh coconut water is also recommended if in season and local.

On the day of your flight, sip hot water every 10-15 minutes to help further hydrate and support the lymphatic system.

Lubricate

Perform Ayurvedic Self-Abhyanga (Massage) before and after trips or treat yourself to an Abhyanga if available, especially upon arrival.

This will not only counter the dryness but effectively move the lymph and circulate blood. Continue to topically apply oil as a moisturiser on the flight.
Pack a little Ghee as lip balm, or use the massage oil.

Shilajit

Used by Himalayan mountain climbers to gain energy for climbing at heights above 6,000 meters and to help oxygenate at high altitudes. The active ingredient of this ancient herb, Fulvic acid, has now been found by scientists to support oxygen and energy transport. Consider taking this herb around travel days.*

* It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather than by itself. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for a proper formulation and prescription. 

Pitta body types take caution as Shiljait is very heating and may aggravate Pitta.

Recycled Air

The Journal of Environmental Health Research reported that air travel increases the risk of catching a cold by 100 times because of the recycled air.

While exposure is unavoidable, we can increase our immunity and decrease our susceptibility.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Nasya

My most prized aeroplane survival tool.

Nasya is an Ayurvedic technique which involves lubricating the nasal passages (responsible for immunity).

Oil to use:  Vital Veda/Raju Nasika herbalised oil formula is superior. Inferior but still effective is Anu Tailia or cold pressed sesame oil.

Method: Tilt the head back and drop 1-3 drops in each nostril every hour so. The aim is to sniff it through the entire nasal passages, and even further up to your brain.
Also pop a couple of drops in your ears to deal with cabin pressure.

Learn about Nasya more here

Immune Boosting Rasayana (Elixir)

Ananda Siddhi Yog
Highly nourishing to the body and boosts immunity, strengthens and repairs all the seven layers of the dhatus (tissues) and gives all the refined nourishment you need for rapid healing. Very good for chronic coughs (strengthens the lungs) and restores physical vitality.
This is superior to Chywanprash.
Take 1 tsp 1-2x/day. Contact Vital Veda to order.

Chywanprash
This trusted and popular Ayurvedic formula supports immunity. This is a classic remedy for supporting frequent travellers and mitigating your risk of catching a cold during a flight.
*Please buy a quality product from a trustworthy source such as Vital Veda or Maharishi Ayurveda.

Jet Lag

Imagine air-lifting a dolphin from the Tasman Sea off the coast of Sydney, Australia to the Indian Ocean by Singapore in just 8 hours. Then, after a quick layover, air-lift that same dolphin to the harbour in Hong Kong in 4 hours.

Would you expect that dolphin to ever re-establish normal migration patterns? If so, how long do you think it might take?

For humans too, this disruption of the body’s normal biological rhythms is very real.

Jet lag can cause fatigue and lead to cognitive decline, sleep issues, and even psychotic or mood disorders.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Daily Ayurvedic Massage

Since your skin has more nerve endings than any other organ, applying herbalised oil will pacify the nervous system. Every square centimetre of the body’s skin is innervated by sensory neurons. These neurones are much happier when fed with herbalised oil, rather than left dehydrated to become irritated and over-stimulated. Learn to do self-massage.

Abhyanga oil massage as a good alternative for hand soap

Watch the Sunrise & Sunset

Watch the sunrise and sunset to re-connect with the local circadian cycles. Natures rhythms will enter through the retina of your eyes to regulate hormones like melatonin.
Even if it means pulling yourself out of bed, it’s worth it, and beautiful.

Ashwagandha

Considered by many to be one of the most potent adaptogens, this herb supports the body’s ability to adapt to stress like that incurred by jet lag and prevent you from absorbing the crippling impact.

It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather then by it self. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult a quality Ayurvedic practitioner. I recommend the product Stresscom as a good source of ashwagandha.

Blood Clots

20 million travellers will develop blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) a year.(3)
The risk factors seem to be a combination of sitting still for hours in a pressurised cabin, lymph congestion and dehydration.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Get Up and Move Regularly During Long Flights

  • Walk up and down the aisles more
  • Yoga Asanas - find a more spacious place to do stretches - I usually go near the bathroom, back or front of a section, near the staff stations, exit rows, rows with more leg room, empty business class areas, or my favourite, the muslim praying area.
  • Stretch your neck, rotate ankles, wrists, as much as you can while sitting.

Herbal Support

If DVT is an issue for you, it is important to consult a practitioner to tackle this problem. More complex herbs and treatment are required to dilate the channels.

Rest As Mentioned Above

Hearing Loss

Airline cabins range from 75 decibels in the front of the plane to 85 to 100 in the back. A loud nightclub, for example, roars at about 100 decibels. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health limits safe noise levels to 88 decibels for four hours. This suggests that there is potential risk of permanent hearing damage during frequent flights that last longer than four hours.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Noise Reduction Headphones

If you are a frequent traveller, consider a set of noise reduction headphones, which reduce noise by about 40 decibels.

Nasya in the Ears

Pop a couple of Nasya oil drops in your ears before flying. Hold the head on each side for about a minute for the oil to sink down deep down into the eardrum.

Constipation

Very common due to jet lag, altitude shock and dehydration.

Swelling

Mainly caused by congested lymph.
Causative factors of lymph congestion are almost all of the idea discussed above, particularly:

  • Constipation dries out the lymph concentration on the gut wall.
  • Altitude shock affects cellular pressure, which is responsible for lymph movement.
  • Sitting still for hours may congest the lymph as their is no movement to pump the lymph and regulate the circulatory system.
  • Dehydration directly affects lymph flow.
  • Jet lag creates stress on the body, which is a major cause of lymph congestion.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Vital Veda / Raju Shodana Vati

Detoxification agent & whole-body cleansing purifier. 3-dosha blanching. Accordingly these herbal pills prepared by the Raju family will support regular bowel motions.

Triphala

Tripahla is a natural bowel toner that supports regular bowel movements. It can be used for short periods of time around travels without dependency. available at Vital Veda.

*Not necessary if you are taking “Shodana Vati.”

Sip Hot Water Frequently

Ensure you have a thermos with you to keep refilling. You’ll make best friends with the flight attendant and perhaps contribute to the revolution of drink hot water rather than cold.

Vata Tea

Since the Vata dosha gets mostly thrown out during travel, a Vata tea can assist in balancing. My favourite Vata tea is from Moksha Ayurveda.

Meditate More

Due to the harsh environment of an aeroplane, meditate as much as you like! It will buffer against jet lag, provide deep rest, and get you through the flight a lot more joyfully. Vedic Meditation is recommended.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

These only dehydrate you further while in the flight.

Tongue Scraper and Herbal Toothpaste

Don’t forget these in your carry on luggage for long flights to scrape away the ama (toxins).

My on-board travel kit. Also includes a thermos and some Vata tea bags.

Don’t just Arrive Alive, Arrive and Thrive!

References
(1) Robert Haru Fisher, http://www.frommers.com/articles/4606.html
(2) http://wireeagle.auburn.edu/news/1656
(3) “The Lancet,” New Zeland, 2003.
Credits: Dr. John Doulliard, Lifespa.com