April: Freedom

When I walk barefoot through the grass and throw the ball for our dogs I feel free. When I am at my girlfriend’s farm, sitting on the tractor I feel free. When I’m immersed in service to others or “forget myself” absorbed in the details of a yoga pose I taste freedom. I realise that this freedom doesn’t have to do with where I am, with whom I’m with or what I own. It really is a momentary freedom of unity that is a gift of the present that comes from within. These spontaneous feelings of freedom are not arranged, they happen like the state of meditation; ...

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March: Shiva

The Great Yogi – Who is Shiva? So far this year we have been blessed by Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, and by Lakshmi, who teaches us to pass on what we have been given. This month we turn to another deity, who reflects different aspects of our lives. The god Shiva, depending on which tradition of Hinduism one looks at, is interpreted to have different meanings. Within the Trimurti, for example, Shiva is seen as the “destroyer of evil and the transformer”, and together with Brahma, the creator, and Vishnu, the sustainer, they form the Hindu trinity. Other ...

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February: Lakshmi

Wealth, Fortune, Prosperity – Who is Lakshmi? Having begun the New Year under the care of Ganesha, we are now in a good place to consider who else in the realm of Hinduist gods might accompany us on our journey this year. Quite likely when we start something new, we wish that whatever project we are devoting our time, energy, and other resources to will grow and foster. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity is said to aid in bringing about a prosperous outcome of our undertakings. Lakshmi has the symbolic meaning of knowing and understanding your ...

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January: Ganesha

New Beginnings – Who is Ganesha? In the Hindu mythology, there is no other deity than Lord Ganesha that would be more fitting to kick us off into the New Year. Ganesha, the god with the big belly and an elephant head represents new beginnings and prosperity, is known as the remover of obstacles and is called upon before every new venture. Hinuds make offerings to Ganesha especially in the mornings and call upon him to bless new projects, marriages, the birth of a child, and even simple acts like buying a car. You might also often see the Ganesha statue at the entrance ...

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December: Aparigraha

Aparigraha – Non-possesiveness Aparigraha, the practice of non-possessiveness, non-accumulation, or non-attachment is a part of the Yamas, the first limb of the eightfold path of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga). Each of the limbs offer us the necessary tools to still the mind and become more and more established in our true nature. Now, the question may arise what a calm mind and the way of Yoga have to do with not accumulating possessions we do not really need, and letting go of all kinds of dependencies, for example on people, places and things? The reason that the ...

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November: Satya

Satya – Truth The spiritual practice of Yoga is a journey of self-inquiry and anyone embarking on this journey will eventually be faced with the necessity of getting honest; honest with themselves and others about who they really are. This means that early on in our Yoga practice we are asked to cultivate the quality of truth, or Satya. As Satya is one of the five aspects of the first limb of Ashtanga Yoga – or the eight-fold path of Yoga that leads to ultimate freedom or liberation, we might say that being truthful is inevitable for the attainment of freedom and ...

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October: Santosha

Santosha – Contentment Yoga does not just happen on the mat. In fact, the eightfold path of Yoga as laid out by the sage Patanjali describes two steps before going into the actual practice of asanas (body postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) and then moving on from there. These first two limbs, pre-asana, are all about our attitudes that guide our actions in day to day life and how we treat ourselves and others. These principles of conduct are summed up in the Yamas and Niyamas and how much we have integrated them will show in our asana, pranayama and ...

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September: Guru

Guru – The one who dispels the darkness To understand the meaning and the importance of a guru, we can first look at the word itself. In Sanskrit the syllable gu means ‘darkness’ and ru stand for ‘dispeller’. Therefore, the word itself would mean “a dispeller of darkness”, which already explains what a guru and his (or her) role is. Whatever our understanding of Yoga is –  a path of moving out of the illusion of separation to the Reality of oneness and unity, a path of moving from fear to love, a path of self-discovery leading us to the Higher Self, a ...

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August: Kula

Kula - Community The path of Yoga is a journey of returning to our natural sense of unity and therefore to wholeness. We learn that the greatest separation to overcome is the one within ourselves and our yoga practice becomes a tool to conquer exactly that. We become aware of feelings and sensations we might have been cut off from before by tuning into breathing. We might also discover muscles in places we never imagined some to be during difficult poses and eventually we will connect to the observer within us by simply acknowledging our thoughts but by stopping to ...

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July: Klesha

Yoga is a journey of transforming pain and reducing suffering. Suffering, Klesha in Sanskrit, which is also sometimes translated as affliction, is caused by the illusion of separation; the illusion that we are separate from one another and from life. This separation begins within ourselves when we cut ourselves off from our own feelings, our needs and dreams, our own truth, creativity, inspiration, and intuition. It begins when we tell ourselves that we are not worthy, good enough, lovable, and when we criticize and blame ourselves. Treating ourselves like this often comes ...

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June: Karma

Many of us come to yoga because we are searching. We might be looking for greater physical well-being, for more relaxation in our busy lives or for a way to calm our mind. Sometimes we simply feel a sense of seeking within us, without knowing exactly what we are searching for. At some point in our practice we begin to realise that while we start to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally, Yoga is actually about so much more than just that. Through our practice we might slowly begin to wake up to the knowingness that there is something greater than just our ...

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May: Dharma

The notion of dharma, a fundamental concept in the yogic philosophy, recognizes that every form of life possesses an inherent reason for its existence. The root of the word dharma, “dhri”, which means to hold up, support, or bear, reveals that Dharma has to do with support from within. Dharma is the essence of a thing; it is that, which makes a thing that that it is. Yet, dharma is often translated as purpose, which is a word that carries a very different meaning in the western, capitalistic, result- and profit-oriented mind-set. If we take an honest look at the ...

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