Category: Yoga in Everyday Life

For those planning ahead for Autumn, here is our flyer announcing the next retreat at Turtle Haven with Ravi.We’re especially excited for this theme! There will as always also be a public talk on Friday of the retreat. Let me know if you have any questions; other announcements will be forthcoming.

One Tuesday not long ago, the Turtle Haven morning yoga class was about to begin, and I was on my way out of the housephoto-10 when I grabbed a card with a hand scribed poem from our friend and fellow yogi, Bill Baroch. Bill is also, by the way, Turtle Haven’s trails and grounds landscape artist. I read the poem in class, and was asked by a wonderful student and friend to post the poem on this blog! I thought I would add a few more thoughts, and some of the story behind the wheel….

We have  on the land, near the labyrinth, this poetic prayer wheel which was created by Chris Moench in collaboration with me, to honor Jillian’s birthday a year and a half ago, the same year she was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. Aaron Westgate and his friend Andy Phillips created a beautiful pagoda-like, earthy and elegant structure to hold the beautiful vessel. I include a photograph of it in this post (above).

In recent days, we had a very intimate, small gathering to initiate this blessed addition to Turtle Haven, and Bill brought a poem he had written for the occasion. Since the Tuesday class SEES the wheel, and some go out and visit it, I thought to bring the poem into class— and as I recall, it had to do also with the notion I wanted to speak about that morning, that we need places to go with our our prayers, intentions, joys and sorrows, to bring them out from our own hearts and minds, into some outer form. To speak, mutter, write, or sing them and offer them out…. in this way, a different relationship arises with what we were formerly holding within. In the Gospel of Thomas, as Elaine Pagels and others have pointed out, Jesus is said to have brought this teaching: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” These are powerful words that tell us in a larger sense something of the teachings of the Niyama, and Svadyaya, self reflection, and then bringing ourselves forward into the world, in whatever way is healing and contributes.

Part of our “bringing oursleves forward” includes being aware of places where we hold questions, grief, emotional stirrings, desires for inner change, or for shifts on the outer plane, and all the many inner mysteries of existence in human form. I have always loved the ritual in church of lighting candles with prayer and intention, and have let that expand into the same form in a broader array of places. To have specific places to visit and revisit creates a potency and a remembrance that can bring a deepening in our connection with the Innermost Mystery, however we name that in a particular way, according to our own experience and beliefs. Some of the Tuesday morning yoga practitioners have also created a Patanjali yoga shrine area, that started with a beautiful rock engraved with the second yoga Sutra: “And then the Seer Dwells in his own True Splendor,” a sutra that speaks to our ultimate yogic realization of our deep oneness with the Supreme Intelligence. This rock was a gift for another long time student and community member Frances, a few years back. Now the shrine has a Patanjali figure housed in a hand built by Bill sort of small, beautiful “cathedral in the woods” structure which was dreamt up by Maureen, Frances, Bill and me last year. We had a blessing for it as the culmination of last Spring’s retreat with Ravi; Felicity Green was here as well at that time! So there has been a rich flowering here at Turtle Haven for which Jillian and I feel so much gratitude, as we steward a place that reflects our desire to listen deeply and hold this place on the Nooksack as a haven for our community to come and remember what is most important. Here is Bill’s poem:

Watch the Earth turning!
In her lovely round dance—
Witness the turning!
She sets the sun
Fills the sky with stars shimmering
Spins out the night
Returns to light….
Breathes out clouds
Feathering, sun mitten
In rhythm with the turning.
Brown leaves settle into damp Earth.
New green leaves seek the Sun.
Sleepers rise. Risers dream.
Dreamers dance…
In rhythm with the turning.
From the center turning.
All is one turning.

The Earth is a Prayer Wheel.
The Earth is Prayer Wheel.

The Earth is a wheel
Full of Prayers.
Each Being a Benediction.
A veneration. A Holy Communion.

Robin. River. Rain.
Redlegged Frog.
The silent sound of salamander steps.
You and I.
Our thoughts
For each other
Each heart a prayerful page,
An intention of Mystery.
We are seeds sewn in dark soil.
Delicate leaves unfolding.
We are flowers.
Everything is a flower.
No mistakes.
We are pages and pages of prayer,
Folded and unfolding.
Warm sun.
Moonless night.
Turning without. Turning within.
Turning! Turning!
On this beautiful wheel
Nothing but prayers
Apparent in daylight,
Hidden at night.

The New York Times runs an Anxiety column in which various writers tell their own stories.The latest, on yoga, begins:

AnxietyAnxiety: We worry. A gallery of contributors count the ways.

Five-year-old Miriam huddled in the back corner of my Lower East Side yoga classroom, wrapping herself in a spongy mat like a blanket. She was having another panic attack, screaming so loud others could hear down the hall. I was scared by her anxiety yet it was familiar. At 28, I was the charter school’s first full-time yoga teacher. A product of upstate New York and family with Methodist roots, I’d been a student of Buddhism since college at New York University and, more recently, yoga. I now taught 200 inner-city kids from ages 4 to 12 how to use the tools of mindfulness all day. But secretly, I was having my own panic attacks, at night.

To read the rest go here.

Engaged Yoga

Here’s the book Elizabeth is mentioning in her discussion of the yamas this week and engaged yoga:


This book, written by Michael Stone, activist and ethicist, explores how yoga can help us to live an ethical, sustainable and just life. The book has been described as an explanation of “how yoga belongs in our world and how the world belongs in our yoga.” The Bellingham Public Library has it here. Or you can order through Village Books here.

Ravi Ravindra, physicist, theologist, philosopher and seeker will be leading a retreat on “The Heart and Purpose of Yoga” the weekend of October 12-14, kicking off with a public talk in Bellingham on Friday, October 12 and followed by two days featuring discussion, meditation, chanting and optional yoga asanas at Turtle Haven in Deming. To introduce people to Ravi, below is the beginning of an essay he wrote on the topic of “Yoga in Daily Life”, followed by a link for a pdf of the complete essay. If this speaks to you, you might consider coming to the retreat for which there are some spaces still available. For complete details about the retreat go here or talk to Elizabeth.

Yoga in Daily Life

            Renouncing all actions on Me, Mindful of your inner self,

            Without expectation and selfishness, Fight, without agitation. (BG 3:30)

                         Here Krishna invites us and enjoins us to make our daily life into a spiritual practice, a yoga.  No one can be without action.  Even if we simply lie down, doing nothing visible, we are still engaged in action. “Because no one can remain actionless even for a moment. Everyone is driven to action, helplessly indeed, by the forces of nature” (BG 3.05).  Even if the body is still, the mind is in action, associating  this with that, dreaming, desiring something, fearing something else. The question is not whether to act but how to act. Similarly, no one can avoid daily life; the question is not whether we should participate in daily life, but rather how to participate in this life we live daily.

To download the complete essay in pdf form go here.




Yoga In Everyday Life

My friend and yoga student John passed along this link today, which essentially invites each of us to make ethical choices through how we spend our money; have a look if you like! The foundation of yoga is in the Yamas, the Great Vow of yoga, which has the essential teaching of nonharming; we all know that we can practice yoga in our lives through our everyday choices, but information and guidance along these lines is not always clear. See if this is a useful tool for you.

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