Tending the Fire: An Inner Alchemy of Desire

Fire: Tending the Inner Flame of Desire

The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further.

– FRANZ KAFKA –


Last year I visited Dharamsala, India, to experience the culture and the roots of yoga as passed down from my teachers. I had many expectations and assumptions for my travels. None of them manifested. Bless India for hosting with humour, contradiction, and irony. Midway through retreat, I attended a Fire Puja Ceremony where I was layered in gold flowers and dabbed with a spot of turmeric paste at my third eye between my brows. I sat with a small group in a circle overlooking the Himalayas. Eagles soared overhead. Monkeys danced on the rooftop. Drowsy from the heat of the fire and sun, and pulsing with a desire dark and alive, I was elated with trepidation. For hours we sat with the medicine of the fire, feeding the spitting flames a concoction of rice and flowers. With each palmful tossed we were asked to feed our inner flame with the same dedication and fervor, burning away any obstacles and impurities that obstructed our path.

In the presence of fire we may experience an alchemical transformation in our ability to shift our perspective, provoke change, and blaze forward into the unknown. Fire may present us with a healing balm, an inner alchemy, as we dedicate ourselves to the mystery and magic of our will to power. The Fire Puja presented me with an experience to metaphorically feed my inner flame and refine my focus to manifest my desires.

An Expression for Healing and Transformation

We are the alchemists of our own experience.
– Clara Roberts-Oss

Fire Puja is a traditional ritual of healing and purification to cleanse the environment and grant blessings. The significance of a Fire Puja serves to remove obstacles, clear negativity, and repair broken promises. Many cultures honour fire ceremonies as rituals to bring light to the darkness. To honor fire is to revel in the light and heat of its flame, a flame we each have within us that asks us to stand in its intensity and move forward with more clarity. 

The body is a microcosm of the cosmos. As individuals, we contain and reflect the five elements in the atmosphere known as earth, air, fire, water, and ether. We use qualities of the elements to gain an understanding of the ways we interact with the world and ourselves. Fire is sharp, acidic, and mercurial. Expressed as unpredictable, mutable, emotional, and wild. To step into the element of fire is to open ourselves to the possibility of healing through confrontation and manifestation of our desire. To move with the intensity of fire, we examine our inner longing, our deepest desires, and how we want to create and will our thoughts into action. Once anything touches fire, it is never the same. It changes physically and chemically. Once we enter the fire, we are also changed, physically, mentally and emotionally

The flames of fire consume, destroy and create space for growth within the devastation. This may be likened to our ability to receive lessons from the past, let go of all that doesn’t serve, and use our experience to build a better foundation for the future. The flames of fire consume, destroy and create space for growth within the devastation.  The flames will wither and die if we don’t move forward with new ideas and action; cycling through repetitive patterns that may or may not serve us in creating a better future. 

Sankulpa: Cultivate an Inner Will to Power

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
― Rumi

To create patterns that build toward a specific goal or purpose we act consciously and observe our thoughts. When we act unconsciously, we may run the risk of creating habits that don’t serve and contribute to negative samskaras. Samskaras are based on our past impressions and represent deeply rooted, unconscious patterns that affect our way of thinking. All actions and thoughts create memories that are conscious and/or unconscious and contribute to shaping our present habits, behaviors, and tendencies. Whenever a thought or action is repeated overtime, it creates a groove in the neural pathways in the brain that get harder and harder to overcome. This is how habits form. When we consciously establish a habit that serves, such as exercising daily or eating healthy, this builds towards a positive samskara. When we act unconsciously, like scrolling Instagram while eating peanut butter off of a spoon, over time this shapes a negative samskara that we may not be aware of.

Fire: Tending the Inner Flame of Desire

When we continue to do the same things in the same way or fail to question the rules or ideas of the world we live in- and are creating together- we limit ourselves in our capacity to grow and develop emotionally and spiritually. If we don’t question our actions and thoughts, we may never develop the self awareness necessary to break our cycles and shape our destiny as an individual or a collective. To have the courage and confidence to question your habits and confront the ways you do things is to tug at the thread of fate and reveal your own will to power. 

 

Develop strength and discover your inner flame in this Power Centre Vinyasa Yoga class with Clara!

To transcend the limitation of samskara, one may use heat, passion, and discipline to metabolize the experience. It takes patience and practice to break away from the past and build new habits that lead us down the path of self discovery to a destiny we consciously create and will into the world. This takes discipline and a high commitment to stick to what you believe and what you hope to achieve. 

A Sankulpa is the inner resolve to join the mind, heart, and body to align with your deepest core truth or value. Sankulpa comes from the ancient Indian Sanskrit. The root san means (connection to the divine) and kulpa (a vow, heartfelt intention). Sankulpa usually translates as resolution or resolve. It’s a short positive phrase or affirmation to inspire us to create or pursue a particular goal. One who commits to their sankulpa may turn the wheel of fate in their favor or overcome hardship. It takes commitment and confidence to establish a strong sankalpa, to stay in the present and overcome the grooves embedded from your samsaras that threaten to keep you stuck in old habits. 

To break free of the unconscious chains that keep you tethered and stuck, you must move with will and determination into the fire of transformation. It is in the heat, the tension and combustion that we discover our inner resolve and freedom. Once we step into the fire and commit ourselves to the sankulpa, we are on the way to transforming our destiny. It takes inner resolve, a willingness to let go and forgive, and the strength to endure the intensity of the heat, to honour your sankulpa and will your desire into the world.

Sadhana: Tend the Inner Flame of Desire

Act in accordance to your desire without attachment to a preferred outcome.
– Bhagavad Gita 

Living a life of passion and feeding your flame is to honour your sankulpa. The ritual and worship that comes in tending to your passion and living fully with an awareness for presence. When our hearts are full, we are more capable of love and compassion. When we live a life that brings us joy, we are better able to meet the world with kindness. When we act in according to our inner wisdom, we build the confidence to create a life we want for ourselves. This style of living is open to the mysteries of life. It requires a deep appreciation toward all the things that feed your flame, and an inquisitiveness toward those things that diminish it

The Tantrikas, worshipers of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra (an ancient text for Tantra and yoga) viewed desire as the way to attain enlightenment and used the realm of the senses to access a higher Consciousness. Desire, for the Tantrikas, was an expression of the Goddess (Shakti) that exists in all things. It is the movement and pull of the universe. To be cut off from desire is to cut ourselves off from the nature of the world and our existence. The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra conveys a practice for non dualism, the idea that the divine exists within you and therefore everything that you do is a manifestation of the divine. Therefore, the senses and our desires are not something to run away from, suppress, or overcome. Desire and the richness of our sense experience should be welcome and expressed to access the diving within.

Desire exists in you as in everything. Realize that it also resides in objects and in all that the mind can grasp. Then, in discovering the universality of desire, enter it’s radiant space. 
– Vijnanabhairava Tantra, Stanza 105

There are two types of desire: one being the spontaneous expression of embodied consciousness (an expression of Shakti and/or the divine) and the other as desire arising from past impressions and conditioning. We may experience the spontaneous expression of the divine when we move with the body’s senses and allow ourselves to feel fully and receive each unique experience. The Tantrikas saw the body as a vessel to receive the world’s incandescence, in contact with the whole of reality through touch, taste, sound, sight, and smell. Navigating the world through our sense experience may give birth to freedom through expressing our desires in movement. When we go and experience things for ourselves, we gain greater awareness of our inner landscape and the world around us. 

Move with the spaciousness and compassion of your heart in this 5-minute Durga Meditation with Clara.

Fire: Tending the Inner Flame of Desire
@MarianneSimonin

An expression of desire through our past impressions and conditioning is limiting and based on the experience of others, not direct contact for ourselves. An obstacle in experiencing spontaneous expression of desire may also be pursuing desire as an object external from ourselves. The Tantrikas saw desire as an ongoing expression, every action was an outlet for desire. Desire was pure love, an expression of Shakti meeting Shiva to give birth to pure consciousness. 

A sadhana is a spiritual exercise to accomplish one’s goal with the ultimate aim of enhancing the expression of reality. Sadhana literally translates to “an effort exercised towards achievement of a purpose”. One who undertakes a practice of sadhana would cultivate a practice to honour their desires and overcome the limitations of the ego to pursue the divine state of consciousness. Sadhana in yoga may look like meditation, mantra, and asana practice where you would take the discipline of completing your sadhana for a specific interval or period. 

Sādhanā is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. Abhyāsa is repeated practice performed with observation and reflection. Kriyā, or action, also implies perfect execution with study and investigation. Therefore, sādhanā, abhyāsa, and kriyā all mean one and the same thing. A sādhaka, or practitioner, is one who skillfully applies…mind and intelligence in practice towards a spiritual goal.
– B.K.S. Iyengar

Fire: An Acceptance of the Divine

When we acknowledge our desires or make the decision to focus on a specific goal or sadhana, we accept the trials that come with fully committing ourselves. No practice is easy, it takes a lot of discipline to keep showing up for what you want and reap the rewards of your choices. This is where fire, through its passion and purpose, may serve in developing the compassion and courage needed to stick to your resolve. Fire power may show us where we need to shed a bit more light on our uncertainties and grow through the intensity. The power of fire is its alchemy to burn and transform. We may use fire as an acknowledgement of the divine power we each have within us; an inherent ability to resolve, refine, and revitalize our living experience.  May our inner flame feed our desire, a passion in-tune with the spontaneous flow of the universe.

Stephanie
stephaniedawntrembath

Anger as an Expression of Vulnerability

Anger as an Expression of Vulnerability

A mind that is lively and inquiring, compassionate, curious, angry, full of music, full of feeling, is a mind full of possible poetry.

– MARY OLIVER  


In 2017 I was rushed to the ER where I was hooked up to a morphine drip for five days. Once the swelling in my abdomen lessened, I had a  laparoscopic cholecystectomy to have my gallbladder removed. Prior to surgery, I’d undergone a significant upheaval in my career, moved twice in 10-months, and broke-up with my significant other. Instead of acknowledging how I felt or asking for help, I put up my defences and suppressed how I felt. My body was telling me to slow down, but I didn’t want to accept or reflect on the obvious turn-of-events in my life. It all came to a head when my lower abdomen literally ruptured with pain so acute I blacked out. Post-surgery, I spent two weeks at home to heal. Cut-off from all the spaces and activities that soothed and distracted, I was forced to sit with my feelings. I was angry at how my life was evolving and my lack of control over events. In my refusal to acknowledge how I felt, I didn’t give myself a chance to let the anger move through me to see what was underneath my vexation. 

Our bodies provide us with all sorts of signals through our emotions to assist in our mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. If we’re willing to observe our sensations, every emotion- be it anger, sadness, shame, envy, or guilt- is valuable. Ancient Eastern Civilizations understand the interrelatedness of the emotional and physical body in expressing our thoughts and mental fluxuations. Western science is beginning to accept the relevance of our emotions as guiding our physical nature and communicating possible symptoms. will be expressed in other areas of our life. This is why it’s integral to accept, express and release emotions as this process keeps the mind and body healthy.

Anger is an expression of our inner vulnerability. It’s a defense mechanism that constructs a wall between you and all the other emotions you may not want to feel, such as sadness, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and/or grief. When our defences go up, it can block the emotion from being expressed. This cuts us off from truly feeling the emotion and generally, it remains stifled and unresolved. 

Anger, Ego, and Akrodha

Sometimes we put up walls that we believe will keep us safe, but those walls only end up blocking us. Seek out those walls, and gently tear them down so that your vulnerability can shine through. – RUMI 

The ego may build walls of defense to protect us from feeling negative emotions and expressing and/or feeling our vulnerability. It may feel easier to bury our emotions and live in a state of denial, or it may feel easier to stay angry- in a state of self-righteousness where we feel we have more control over ourselves and others. Anger is defensive and tends to indicate that there may be a whole lot more to address underneath. Releasing anger may allow the deeper emotions of sadness and fear to well up, which would reveal a state of vulnerability. Releasing anger may look many different ways. If it involves another person, it might require a conversation to express how you feel. Stating why you’re angry or how the person hurt and/or offended you may help shift how you feel . 

Exercise and/or meditation are ways to burn off the excess energy your body may be holding onto when you’re angry and induce a calmer state. Any sort of physical movement is a wonderful way to purge the excess and calm yourself before approaching the person or situation that you have anger towards. Venting anger and releasing anger are very different things. Venting does nothing in resolving how you feel. So with exercise and meditation, in purging the tension from your body, we still have to talk about how we feel to move through the angry emotions. If you can’t talk to the person who’s offended you or resolve the situation on your own, journaling about it or discussing it with someone you trust may help you move through your anger and release it so you can move forwards. 

According to Iyengar, there are two types of anger that a person experiences: self righteous anger, fuelled by the ego that is destructive if it lingers in the body’s system, and righteous anger. Righteous anger is constructive and used skillfully to help rather than hurt others. Iyengar demonstrated righteous anger in his classes to ‘break the inertia’ in students to teach them proper methods of yoga and put an end to any delusion or fantasy. 

All cruel words should be endured. None should be treated with disrespect. No anger should be directed in turn towards one who is angry. Only soft words should be spoken, even when violently pulled by another. — Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad

In Indian philosophy, the concept of Arkodha is impressed throughout many texts, including The Mahabharata, The Upanishads, and The Bhagavad Gita. Akrodha literally translates to ‘one who is free from anger’. Living with Akrodha is one of the highest virtues of humankind and among the twenty six virtues described in The Mahabharata. Akrodha is demonstrated through a calm and even demeanor especially when provoked. In the Upanishads, one who remains free from turmoil and temper and seeks knowledge through kaivalya yoga, is one who possesses Akrodha and is on the path to liberation. 

Anger as Medicine to Refine Our Attitude

Don’t use your anger to conceal
A radiance that should not be hidden – RUMI

Anger, the heat and intensity felt in the body, is an indication that something must be done. Anger is a force presented to us that we must act in some way. When we accept our anger, we may use it constructively to develop skills in communicating how we feel. When we repress one emotion, we repress them all. We cannot hide from our emotions, they represent energies in motion and are meant to flow through us to transcend suffering

Anger as an Expression of Vulnerability
@isabellemduarte

Conflict is a necessary step in growth and personal development. It takes practice and patience to identify our anger and then take the necessary steps to reconcile this emotion so we may move on. We may not be taught how to identify or acknowledge our anger, which is where one may discover suppression or denial. Anger is a natural and necessary emotion. It may provide tension and cause an energetic rupture that makes space for you to grow and move forward in your relationships. Anger may give the impetus to act where one was wronged or a situation was unjust. 

We may use our anger as a medicine to refine our attitude and discover an inner luminosity through a capacity to evolve in relationships. 

The body is sending a very clear and bold signal through anger. We may listen to it, sit with it, and decide the best course of action, or give in to our more base and possibly immature emotions. To move through anger, we may have to alter our perception, broach a difficult conversation, let go when we are not ready, or accept that we may be wrong. 

 

The Roots of Resolution with the Yamas of Yoga

Bring anger and pride under your feet,
turn them into a ladder and climb higher. – RUMI

Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga provide an ethical guide for the yogi to attain peace and harmony. The Yamas are one of the Eight Limbs, and comprised of five moral principles to assist one in living ethically in the world. Yama translates to ‘restraint’ and is the root of the foundation for moral discipline in yoga. When taken into practice, the Yamas may help to absolve unnecessary anger and help one let go of that which doesn’t serve to create a more harmonious state of being. 

The Yamas of Yoga:
Ahimsa – nonviolence in thought, word, or deed
Satya – truthfulness
Asteya – freedom from avarice
Brahmacharya – control of sensual pleasure
Aparigraha – freedom from covetousness and possession beyond one’s needs 

 

If we observe the Yamas in our daily life, we act with more integrity in all aspects of our life. If we approach the Yamas with an open mind and willingness to work on ourselves, we create more awareness in ourselves.

Our thoughts and emotions are interrelated. If we think negative thoughts, this will feed our emotions and therefore affect our physical state. If you’d like to change the way you handle your emotions, it’s vital to become more aware of your thought patterns. You’ll become more conscious of how you think, speak, and act. When we are ignorant of what our emotions are trying to tell us, we may act out-hurting ourselves or others. When we make friends with our strong emotions (anger, jealousy, rage) and they arise–we know we must pay attention and listen to their messages. 

Applying the Yamas and dedicating oneself to yoga, through asana (postures) and pranayama (breathwork) may assist the yogi in gaining awareness of how one perceives reality. The yoga practice can help one feel how all things change overtime, nothing lasts forever. When work through challenging postures, such as arm balancing, and stay with it and breathe, we may feel the heat and the prickly sensations that arise. Building tolerance and training the body through physical postures may introduce one to an understanding of how physical sensations don’t last forever. In this way, we might come to an understanding of how our emotions, like the physical sensations in yoga, move through us and dissipate. Negative feelings will pass and we may become stronger and more resilient in the process. 

Build strength in body and mind with this Durga Flow Vinyasa Yoga.

Anger as an Expression of Vulnerability

Living With an Open Mind and Curious Heart

The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind. – RUMI 

Allowing the full spectrum of sensation to move through us is an essential step in honouring our emotions. Our sadness, joy, and anger are all indicators of how we feel in any given situation, adding context to our experience and providing a rich foundation to learn. Receiving each experience and exchange, without holding onto our ego, ideas, and impressions, may create space for connection with others. We may become more compassionate individuals as we work within the framework of the Yamas. 

When we dedicate ourselves to yoga, we act in accordance with a higher discipline through body, mind, senses, and consciousness. All sensations of the body and impressions of the mind are little pokes to turn inwards and acknowledge each experience with an open mind and curious heart. Yoga provides us with an entry point to observe, and a way to release tension and rinse strong emotions from the body so we can sit with ourselves and get a little bit more clarity in how we feel. 

A practice to flow with an open heart:
Heart Wide Open.
Stephanie
stephaniedawntrembath

NEW CLASSES ONLINE:
Classic Vinyasa Yoga with Clara

*A note on learning to work with strong emotions: Mindful practices such as yoga and meditation may unearth emotions or past traumas. If you are new to working with these emotions or experiences, we highly recommend seeking professional help such as a therapist, counselor or social worker to help you gain tools for working with these emotions or past traumas.*

Homecoming to Ourselves: A Metaphor on Stability

Where does it all lead?
What will become of us?

These were your young questions,
And young answers were revealed.
It leads to each other. We become
Ourselves. 

– PATTI SMITH – 

At the end of August 2019, I gave away most of my material possessions save for a few boxes of clothes and books to move onto a 37’ sailboat moored at a marina near the Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver, BC. In the past decade, I’ve moved around Vancouver eleven times, from Kitsilano to the West End, Main Street, and Commercial Drive. My strive to harmonize my external world through controlling my living situation, not to mention my work and relationships, only led to ongoing stress and chaos. The more I strove to build a world outside of myself, the more I had to work to maintain a lifestyle I wasn’t sure I wanted

The life I’ve created for myself at the marina is a metaphor on stability: I’ve let go of all the things I thought kept me grounded and connected to what it means to be me and connected to an inner landscape where I no longer need to question myself or what it means to be stable in body and mind. In the solitude and space at sea, cocooned in the rhythm of the water and calls of nature, I’ve been able to carve out some quiet for myself. In the process of letting go, I’ve been able to grow and connect to an inner stability that was there all along, I just never knew how to find it. 

In my travels around Vancouver cohabitating and adapting to varied personalities and living styles, I’ve discovered a lot about what it takes for me to feel grounded in any given situation. I’ve come to realize that my feeling of security may be influenced by external factors but ultimately comes down to my inner awareness. Stability is important in our lives for the simple fact that when we feel secure, we’re able to interact with our environment, and our communities with more integrity and love, overcoming insecurity and fear.  

 You have to create within yourself the experience of beauty, liberation, and infinity. -BKS Iyengar

BKS Iyengar, Father of Iyengar Yoga and author of Light on Life, discusses stability at length in terms of the yoga practice and how yoga asana may create a sense of lightness, precision, strength, awareness, balance, and overall harmony in the body and mind which ultimately translates to a higher state of consciousness and discovery of the Self. Iyengar’s approach to stability comes from an awareness of the physical self through yoga poses; to train the body and calm the mind. Ultimately creating harmony and inner stability that isn’t thrown off-course by our external surroundings. 

Iyengar provides that as stability becomes a habit, maturity and clarity follow.  In exploring the yoga asana, one will discover balance in the body and stability. Balance is not possible without stability and balance assists in stabilizing the mind. In the physical practice of yoga, the more grounded you are in your lower body through the feet, legs, and pelvis, the more lightness and flexibility you’re able to explore in the upper body through the spine, arms, and head. We explore this idea in our bodies when we move: the more connected you are through your feet and legs in any physical activity, the more ease and balance you have in your body through movement.

According to Iyengar, working with the body and discovering a physical balance produces a balanced and stable mind. A stable mind is one that is focused on the present. A stable mind is one that is free of judgments and limitations. A stable mind is one that is concerned with the higher Truth of what it means to be human and alive. A stable mind knows the Self as unchangeable and yet flexible regardless of external circumstances or forces. A stable mind is one who questions and constantly evolves.

Keep asking yourself the hard questions, continue evolving into who you truly are.
smiling vinyasa yogi
Clara Roberts-Oss
Yogi, Teacher, Student

Stability is a sense of inner groundedness that doesn’t come from where you sleep or who you’re friends with, though these factors contribute to whether or not you feel stable and safe. My current sense of stability comes from a deep knowing within that no matter where I live or what the external factors are in landscape, space, neighbors, and possessions, my sense of stability comes from a well within me. I am more grounded and secure in who I am now, more so than where I was ten years ago. I feel it’s a combined factor of pursuing yoga as a means to physically, mentally, and emotionally ground myself in my body and the present moment, my ability to let go of the small stuff that doesn’t matter and really shouldn’t affect my inner being, and my decade of experience putting myself in situations where I tested my strengths and fears.

On an objective level, stability means you have access to shelter and food and water; relationships where you feel cared for and loved and accepted, and access to resources that provide measures of safety. This is why it’s so devastating that a majority of human beings around the world, including the downtown Eastside of Vancouver, are lacking in such areas and will always be struggling at a level of mere survival. It’s elitist for me to say that stability is subjective when I’ve always had access to healthcare and healthy food and a roof over my head and a loving family who I can reach out to when I’m scared or lonely or frustrated. From my vantage point, stability is subjective in that what makes me feel grounded may be vastly different from what makes someone else feel happy or safe or stable in themselves.  

 

A Homecoming to Ourselves

Our lives are a narrative of trial and error; of beauty and terror. No one knows the answer and no one can tell you what is best for you. You have to go out and ask the questions and experience it directly for yourself. The best access point I have to get more clear and grounded is through my body. This I know to be true because I’ve directly experienced it through yoga and the words of BKS Iyengar. They ring pure and true for me through the dedication to my yoga practice. In all my years of picking stuff up and putting it down again, in diverse homes and careers and relationships, my constant has been my yoga practice, first in asana and later in breath and meditation. 

So, what is stability? I would ask each of you to sit down and contemplate for yourselves what makes you feel grounded; what relationships you’ve cultivated to give you a sense of belonging; if you’ve established a lifestyle that’s balanced and gives you purpose. For me, stability is a deep sense of trust in knowing I can handle whatever may come my way.

Stability is a homecoming to myself. 

Much love,
Stephanie 
stephaniedawntrembath

Survey 2019 responses

yogi survey on temp.clararobertsoss.com

At the beginning of June we ran a survey to learn more about my kula (community).

We wanted to know:
What style of yoga did they enjoy practicing?
How many practiced online versus in the studio?
What were they looking to learn more about?

I thought it’d be fun to share some of the highlights:

 

We received over 200 responses!

Not surprisingly, my community loves Vinyasa/Flow yoga and meditation and 89% tend to stick to the teachers that they love most.

When asked what they appreciated most about my teaching, it was:
-Authenticity/Creativity in sequencing (21% of responses)
-Mantras/Chanting/Pranayama/Philosophy (20% of responses)

Which are the two things that light me up the most about teaching!
Happy to see we’re on the same page 🙂

Based on this feedback there will be lots of focus on sequencing, mantra and meditation.

 

I also learned that 60% of my kula practice yoga online. This insight helped to motivate me to create my platform to practice yoga online.

51% of the respondents have attended teacher training

40% of those who have not attended a teacher training are interested in attending one in the near future.

Many of you shared you preferred part time teacher training versus immersions.

Based on that feedback our 2020 training format has changed.
200 hour yoga teacher training has been broken up into weekend modules over four months.
300 hour teacher training has been broken down into three 10 day modules
Both are being offered in Vancouver, BC.

Many of the participants appreciated how we value intimate trainings, capping the 200 hour training to 18 and the 300 Hour YTT to 12 people.

Another core value of mine is giving student teachers lots of individual attention so again, so happy we’re on the same page!

One piece of great feedback from those who have taken yoga teacher trainings, is that they’d like to have more support after the training. Based on that, I will be launching an online forum in the near future to connect all my student teachers together to share ideas, receive feedback from not only myself but their peers.

 

Thank you Michelle for creating and aggregating all the surveys!
I also want to thank all 200 of you who took the time to fill out the survey!!
And I can’t wait to share what we have brewing for you. Stay tuned 🙂

 

I am so grateful to my community for being so open to trying the many, let’s say “alternative” ways I like to express, teach and explore yoga.

You inspire me to continue to learn, play and think outside of the “mainstream” yoga box. I would not be the teacher I am without you.
Full pranams,
Clara

Resources:
Playlists on Spotify
Meditations on Soundcloud
Free Yoga Classes on my site

Japanese Yoga

Japanese yoga funny vid

The beauty of yoga is that different cultures and regions have been using it the way they find it best. Yoga is a broad concept and different kinds of yoga are fruitful for different reasons. Japanese yoga is an ancient practice that is still practiced by fitness gurus all over the globe. It is believed, and proved, that this yoga helps in healing one physically and mentally. If you are suffering from any kind of ailment, you will find betterment with the help of Japanese yoga.

How is Japanese yoga different?

Even though it is as effective for the body as other forms of yoga, Japanese yoga is slightly different in terms of practice. It changes as the seasons change. Depending on the season, the movements of this yoga differ. Also, you will be focusing on different things in different seasons. The reason why people do this yoga is that it helps in dealing with any kind of physical or mental illness. Whether the pain is in your body or your soul, this yoga relieves you from it. You will be performing several repetitive actions and they will help in reducing anxiety, promoting sleep, preventing digestion and improving digestion.

Sometimes, it is not about your health. You just want to improve your posture and be more flexible. Japanese yoga helps in keeping you flexible and also maintains your posture. With this yoga, you will be in charge of your health. As a result, you do not only build strength on the inside but also on the outside. Even if you are already doing yoga, you can bring variation in it by trying out Japanese yoga. Soon, you will see the multiple benefits that this yoga has for your physical health and cognitive functioning.

Benefits of Japanese Yoga

Japanese yoga is quite advantageous for your physical and emotional wellness. First of all, it brings mental clarity to your body. If you are in a bad place in your life and the depression is making you lose productivity and peace, you can relieve the stress and anxiety through yoga. It will help you relax so that you can think rationally and make better decisions with a clearer mind. Life can get hard these days, with all the things you have to manage at home and at work. Personal relations also get hard from time to time. Japanese yoga induces the release of endorphins in the body so that you can feel relaxed and happy.

Fitness is another aspect of your life that is enhanced with Japanese yoga. When you do yoga, your agility increases and the muscle tone improves over time, allowing you to be more productive. Consequently, your improved bone health will give you the ability to be more active than you have ever been in your entire life. Thus, you can expect an overall effect of Japanese yoga on your long-term wellness.

Sometimes Carolyn and I like to make funny things, this one is a video.

 

Check it out.

 

 

Allow the world to touch you deeply

A path with heart Jack Kornfield

Depending upon the lineage you follow or study, the practice is either to move away from or towards your strong emotions. As someone who lives in the world, meaning not in an ashram or hermitage, I find that working with and embracing the many aspects of myself has created a more integrated me. I have found that when I shy away from my strong emotions (which I can have many of), I tend to leave my body, to check out. As Jack Kornfield says so eloquently below, the practice of staying present to the feelings/emotions/sensations takes courage and compassion; to be honest with what is arising and to truly feel it. When we can be in the feeling, there comes what he calls “wise understanding”, that pain, grief and sorrow are inevitable. From this understanding, we can find peace with those feelings, with those parts of ourselves and from there the self-inflicted war can stop. This can be a life long process so be patient with yourself but continue to stay present and observe the inevitable shift within you.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt as much as I do. Much love. xo

“The purpose of a spiritual discipline is to give us a way to stop the war, not by our force of will, but organically, through understanding and gradual training. Ongoing spiritual practice can help us cultivate a new way of relating to life in which we let go of our battles.

When we step out of the battle, we see anew, as the Tao Te Ching says, ‘with eyes unclouded by longing’. We see how each of us creates conflict. We see our constant likes and dislikes, the fight to resist all that frightens us. We see our own prejudice, greed, and territoriality. All this is hard for us to look at, but it is really there. Then underneath these ongoing battles, we see pervasive feelings of incompleteness and fear. We see how much our struggle with life has kept our hearts closed.

When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy. Only in reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.

A sign in a Las Vegas casino aptly says, ‘You Must Be Present to Win’. Stopping the war and becoming present are two sides of the same activity. To come into the present is to stop the war. To come into the present means to experience whatever is here and now. Most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations, ambitions for the future, in regrets, guilt, or shame about the past. When we come into the present, we begin to feel the life around us again, but we also encounter whatever we have been avoiding. We must have the courage to face whatever is present–or pain, our desires, our grief, our loss, our secret hopes, our love–everything that moves us most deeply. As we stop the war, each of us will find something from which we have been running–our loneliness, our unworthiness, our boredom, our shame, our unfulfilled desires. We must face these parts of ourselves as well.

You have may have heard of ‘out of body experience’, full of lights and visions. A true spiritual path demands something more challenging, what could be called an ‘in the body experience’. We must connect to our body, to our feelings, to our life just now, if we are to awaken.

To live in the present demands an ongoing and unwavering commitment. As we follow a spiritual path, we are required to stop the war not once but many times. Over and over we feel the familiar tug of thoughts and reactions that takes us away from the present moment. When we stop and listen, we can feel how each thing that we fear or crave (really two sides of the same dissatisfaction) propels us out of our hearts into false idea of how we would like life to be. If we listen even more closely, we can feel how we have learned to sense ourselves as limited by fear and identified with that craving. From this small sense of ourselves, we often believe that our own happiness can come only from possessing something or can be only at someone else’s expense.

To stop the war and come into the present is to discover a greatness of our own heart that can include the happiness of all beings as inseparable from our own. When we let ourselves feel the fear, the discontent, the difficulties we have always avoided, our heart softens. Just as it is a courageous act to face all the difficulties from which we have always run, it is also an act of compassion. According to Buddhist scriptures, compassion is the ‘quivering of the pure heart’ when we have allowed ourselves to be touched by the pain of life. The knowledge that we can do this and survive helps us awaken the greatness of our heart. With greatness of heart, we can sustain a presence in the midst of life’s suffering, in the midst of life’s fleeting impermanence. We can open to the world–it’s ten thousands joys and ten thousand sorrows.

As we allow the world to touch us deeply, we recognize that just as there is pain in our lives, so there is  pain in everyone’s life. This is the birth of wise understanding. Wise understanding sees that suffering is inevitable, that all things that are born die. Wise understanding sees and accepts life as a whole. With wise understanding we allow ourselves to contain all things, both dark and light, and we come to a sense of peace. This is not the peace of denial or running away, but the peace we find in the heart that has rejected nothing, that touches all things with compassion.”

Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart

 

 

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Take Care of Your Mind First

equal vision quote

Take Care of Your Mind First.

The greatest gift meditation has ever taught me is that a much larger percentage than I thought of the world around me is self created. All the stories I make up about what’s going on around is exactly that, stories. So sit still Clara and really see what’s going on around you.

A great excerpt that nails it:

“Sri Ramakrishna Parahamsa told this fine story: A few people were walking along the road early in the morning, and they saw a man lying on the side of the road. The first one said, ‘He must have spent the whole night gambling and couldn’t reach home, so he fell asleep here. Gamblers are like that. The don’t reach home safely.’ Then he walked away.

The next one spoke, ‘Poor man, he must be very ill. We shouldn’t disturb a sick man. Let him rest there.’ Then he walked away.

The third one came and said to the man on the roadside, ‘You’re a bum. You don’t know how to drink. Don’t you know one or two is enough? Probably they gave you free drinks, and now you’re down.’ He treated him as a drunkard.

The first fellow thought the man had been gambling and was sleeping. The second thought he was sick, and the third thought he was drunk. Then the fourth man spoke: ‘A saint doesn’t care where he is. Probably he’s in higher consciousness, samadhi. A saint can be anywhere…This man is probably above physical consciousness. Let’s not disturb him.’ Then he bowed and walked away.

We don’t know who was right. All four may have been wrong. They all saw the same person differently because they projected themselves. A drinker thinks the other is a drunk. A saint sees a saint. The world as you perceive it is nothing but your own projection. If there is hell in your mind, you won’t see heaven anywhere. If there is heaven in your mind, you can’t see hell anywhere. That’s why it’s said, ‘Correct your vision, and you will see the truth.’ Self -reformation will bring the right view…The teaching given here is: Take care of your own mind first.”

Sri Swami Satchindanada, The Living Gita

 

 

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Equal Vision

equal vision quote

“Having equal vision means you don’t see anybody as low or high. To you both thief and police officer are equal. You don’t see the superficial. The Self of the thief is the same as that of the police officer. Something is playing the part of the thief, and that same something is playing the part of the police officer. Because the sage is rooted in the Self, they see both as Self. So, for the sage, they are equal.

This explains the Biblical commandment, “Love your neighbor as your Self.” It doesn’t say, “Love only your good neighbor as your Self,” or “Love your neighbor who has the same label. If he’s Catholic, love him. If she’s Protestant, throw stones at her.” No. It simply says, “your neighbor.” And who is your neighbor? The one sitting next to you now, or in the next room, the next house, or the next town. Everyone close to you is your neighbor.

But how to love your neighbor as your own Self? You have to see your Self in that person. Otherwise, you can’t love them as your own Self. How can you see your Self in another if you don’t know your Self? Suppose I say, “Here’s a banana. Please see the banana that you had yesterday in this banana.” To do that you should have had a banana yesterday in order to know what a banana is. Only then will you recognize one and the other as the same. If I don’t know what a banana is, I can’t say this one is the same as the other, and I love his as I loved the other banana.

The clue here is to know your Self and then see your Self in your neighbour. Then love them as you love your Self. That’s why someone who has realized Self will always have equal vision based on that Self or that spirit. A Divine-realized person will see nothing but Divinity everywhere, even though that Divinity may be clothed in different forms and using different names. That’s why Lord Krishna says that whether it’s a dog or an outcast or a great spiritual person, it’s all the same to a person of wisdom.

How can we truly come together? Only with this spiritual knowledge—not by mental, physical or financial knowledge. We can never find oneness in any of these areas, no in the name of a country, race, creed, community, money or education. They only way to see everybody equally is in that divine vision. The we see the same truth coloured different ways.

I’m stressing the point here because we often talk about unity, oneness and harmony. But true harmony can be experienced only by realizing spirit and seeing that spirit in everybody. In all other areas we see differences. Such harmony won’t last long. When people dress the same way or speak the same language, they in a sort of harmony. But if somebody speaks a different language, they are seen as different. It’s not universal harmony then. There ’s only one universal truth. That’s the great advantage of realizing one’s own true Self.”

Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Living Gita

 

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The Tension of Opposites

The tension of opposites

There has been a big debate as to whether or not someone on the spiritual path can also be a householder. Can someone who is devoted to gaining a deeper awareness/understanding of the internal landscape also be in charge of getting the groceries?

Tantric philosophy believes that we can do both. Sally Kempton articulates it so well here in Shakti Awakening.

Note: Think of Parvati and Shiva as different aspects of yourself. Shiva being the seeker and Parvati being the householder.

“Parvati and Shiva hold a creative tension of opposites. He represents the eternal drive for freedom, the yogi’s need to disentangle himself from the world; she represents the feminine drive toward expressive fullness–emotion, rhythm, even the creative flow of thoughts.

When Shiva–who stands for everything that is antithetical to society–unites with Parvati and creates a household life, they are making an enormous statement. Their partnership resolves one of the most embedded dualities in culture: the duality between life in the world and life of the spirit. In Indian life as well as in the Christian mysticism there has always been an opposition between the ascetic yogi, who withdraws from the world in order to realize his nature as spirit, and the householder, entangled in domesticity. Traditionally, the demands of the world, epitomized by family life, are diametrically opposed…

In the Tantric path, however, this dichotomy is transcended. World life and spiritual life, spirit and flesh, are recognized not as duality, but as manifestations of the same power, which is Shakti. The Vijnana Bhairava describes a practice where you discover the ecstasy of the ultimate reality by going into the throbbing heart of pleasure, inside the joy of sex, of song, of delicious food, then meditating on the ‘perfect condition of that joy’ until the supreme bliss reveals itself…

Tantra is the Goddess’s path, which means that it is for people who know how to use the physical and imagined worlds as doorways into the ultimate, as well as for world delight. The Goddess is the mistress of these worlds as she is of the physical world, which is why at the heart of Tantric practices there is a deep respect for the feminine as spiritual authority. In Tantric Quest [one of my favorite books of all time!], Daniel Odier’s teacher tells a story about how a group of hermits debated all day about whether the ultimate truth is a self or a non-self. Finally, one of the ascetics says that the argument can only be resolved by a dakini, a women practitioner. The yogini then goes into meditation on the nondual oneness between self and non-self, and in the space of presence that opens up in the circle, all agree that the discussion has been resolved. They recognize that spirit is not higher than matter, nor is matter devoid of self. Instead, it is the nature of spirit to creatively express itself in form, just as it is the nature of silence to express itself in sound.

The is the recognition that arises out of the union of Shiva and Parvati. Parvati is Shiva’s capacity to express himself in action.Without her, he is simply inactive, iner. Parvati, in scholar David Kinsley’s words, ‘not only compliments Shiva, she completes him.’

 

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Widen the pot and let the universe spill in

Daniel Odier's Tantric Quest

Happy Autumn Equinox!

This is my favorite time of year because we move from being very externally focused to the internal. As I wrote my intentions for the coming season, I came upon this passage and felt it was only fitting. In joy!

More good words from Daniel Odier’s Tantric Quest…..

 

“You see, ecstasy is the natural human state, and the obstacles we create to ecstasy are part of a dictatorial state our thought makes us live in. Ecstasy is simpler than suffering. It smells good. It is present throughout. It is with us always. There is nothing to do and nothing to look for. It’s enough to stay totally open and let things occur without worrying about changing their nature. By our being really present, continuously present, all reality becomes a source of joy and happiness.

You know that the moment for us to take leave of each other has come, and you won’t suffer because the bond that unites us doesn’t unite us to each other but simply passes through us to extend to the whole universe. You don’t belong to me; I don’t belong to you. We belong to the world, to the divine, and at this moment we know what with our whole being. Our bond isn’t subject to time or space. I will be everywhere you look. You have planted yourself firmly in the heart of the goddess, in my heart, just as the goddess remains in yours, as I remain in yours. We are a divine waterfall for each other where we can bathe ourselves in light and quench our absolute thirst.

The universe is a great pot that we never stop shaping with our flesh, our hearts, our thought–with all those little things that we love to separate from one another by artifice. But a good potter sinks their hands into the divine and lets the divine take varied forms. They know that the earth contains the thirty-six modalities of consciousness, and they don’t spend time analyzing them.

While man thinks, the tantrika [practioner] makes a pot. While man confines his consciousness, the tantrika widens the opening of the pot and lets their consciousness experience the void. Distinguishing between what’s insides the pot and what’s outside is possible only if you forget that a pot needs an opening, without which there is seclusion, darkness, rot, and decay.

The tantrika widens their pot. They enjoy letting the universe spill in and penetrate it. When they meditate, they experience a single space. When they undergo change, they experience a single space. When they dream, they experience a single space, and when they die, they experience nothing other than a single space. So for them, there is no difference between meditation, living, dreaming, and dying. To experience a single space–that’s absolute love.”

What I love about Tantric philosophy is that everything is an opportunity to get you closer/discover/remember divinity. Why shy away from adversity or uncomfortable situations that make their way onto our paths? It’s all an opportunity to go deeper into ourselves and let go of more stories/shit that we think we need to hold on to. Widen your pot, watch with wonder as the universe spills into.

Wishing you an awe-inspiring autumn!

 

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