Focus of the Month: The Power of Commitment to Spiritual Life

 
"When you [commit], you will build your patience, your courage, your strength, your tolerance, your neutrality, your ability to relax, your confidence and your concentration. These qualities will all become vibrant and serve you, if you just keep up. Use this principle -- the rewards will be beyond all imagination and expectation."
 
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Commitment is like the piercing sound of your alarm shattering the formless mirage of sleep. It tests our mettle; requires us to push past the fog of a mind in illusion and thought, dig deep, make a choice, stick to it, and get going. It’s the element that cannot be avoided if we desire to proceed, receive, and succeed. As we enter a new season, it is often helpful to pull back the curtain on what we’re actually committed to (revealed by our consistent actions) versus what we imagine we’re committed to, what we’d like to be committed to. With this reality in hand, we may be better prepared to heed the call of the heart and refocus commitment on the personal journey onwards, upwards, and soul-wards.

The most beneficial commitment we can make in life is a spiritual one. It stands the test of time, engages the essential part of us that is always seeking fulfillment above all else, and illuminates the mundane with an inexplicable joy, wisdom, and truth. For example, relationships based on what I can gain, what you can give me, and how we can benefit materially are subject to the laws of material nature; that is: birth, change, illness (or ‘issues’), aging, and death. If, however, we add the element of spirit in our ‘negotiations’, if we establish relationships around spiritual progress, connecting to and serving the divine, connecting to and through love, these elements are transcendent to the cycle of samsara, of entropy. This is confirmed by the seminal yogic text, The Bhagavad Gita when Arjuna doubts if spiritual work is met with ruin should we fail to achieve ‘perfection’. Krishna, his dear friend and Lord replies, “a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil.” That is not to say we are not subject to the laws of nature, after all we as spirit, still occupy a material body in a material world. But the efforts we make in spiritual life are not ordinary, and when done sincerely, supply the foundation for true, eternal fulfillment. 

So, what good does commitment do, and what does it look like? Commitment, first and foremost, takes some measure of faith that what you are committing to can fulfill your ultimate goal or desire. It has to be made real for you. We all have different goals in life, and while we can say that our ultimate, shared goal, is the desire to love and be loved, we’re all at different stages of understanding and enacting how that works for us as individuals. Making small, manageable commitments on the path comes by consistent failure. This failure helps us recognize our personal pitfalls, and eventually, after so much falling, inspires us to properly address and avoid those pitfalls. 

Commitment naturally requires we renounce certain things. Yogi Bhajan, a major proponent of “keeping up” as a foundation of being fully human, and fully spiritual, said “[Commitment] means to consciously and permanently give up, in advance, the choice to ever change your mind about your commitment, for any reason. This may not be a popular rule to live by, but the results are not obtainable any other way. Demonstrate this kind of resolve; the trust that it evokes can never be matched. This is how honor is created; this is how others can be truly inspired... You must be flexible to keep up, as things always change throughout time and space. Yet your commitment is unwavering no matter what happens. When you can allow your small needs to bow to the radiance of this golden spiritual rule, the outcome is always a glorious reflection of the Divine.” 

Commitment to spiritual life need not be an austere negation of the things we love. While there are necessary standards to bear should we wish to maintain a helpful, productive head space (see: the Yamas & Niyamas & the four regulative principles), we can use our natural propensities in service of spiritual life, allowing our ‘small needs’ to bend and bow to commitment to spiritual life. We can invite our friends and families to join us (not realistic? Don’t fear branching out towards new relationships) make our work and the fruits of that work an offering, and spend our free time in ways better suited to support our consistent connection to spirit. 

If we carry on despite the inevitable doubts, the lack of resources; if we carry on and stay in the fire, we are making a statement loud and clear that we are committed, that, on some level, we believe in ourselves and those ideals and goals enough to hold fast. Sometimes we cannot do it all on our own. The Bhagavad Gita repeatedly encourages the reliance on the divine. And in chapter 9, text 22, Krishna says, “But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.”

Against all odds, may you remain committed to the essential in life, and find the diamond of spiritual life shining brightly to lead you forward. 

by Alexandra Moga

Focus of the Month: Following in their Footsteps

"A child cannot be born without a father and a mother. 
Clothes cannot be washed without water. 
There can be no horseman without a horse. 
So, without a Master, none can reach the court of the Lord."
- Kabir

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"No man is an island, entire of itself", John Donne's famous line of poetry that succinctly captures our relentless need for relationship; the growth, variety, and revelation found therein. Our focus this month, "Following in the Footsteps" is a reminder of the sacred and timeless journey of seeking and accepting a spiritual teacher and path. While we can take this journey on our own, having a trusted guide and tradition greatly assists in the process of yoga - the understanding of the true self and the divine - and delivers us out of our difficulties and towards our goal faster, with inspiration and motivation as our fuel. Through time-tested process, student-teacher relationship, and the informed, thoughtful setting of goals, we can come to steady and fruitful progress.

You may have, or you may one day, desire growth in your yoga practice and seek out a teacher that can expand your approach and knowledge. A good teacher, no matter the field or path, delivers us out of our personal limitations, and into the possibilities of excellence, of healing and realization. In yoga, we might take on advanced studies in a specific topic like anatomy, philosophy, or Ayurveda. In so doing, we may desire to look to experts or renowned sources, seeking Vedic scripture. Often, these ancient road maps, while universal in their scope, need practical interpretations for our world today. Lineages and authoritative, dedicated teachers can offer us a degree of faith and a bonafide connection to knowledge while pursuing greater understanding.

Indeed, when have we ever learned something of deep value in complete isolation? While modern wisdom advocates for the self-led, self-made man or woman, if we take a closer look, we can see that knowledge acquired solely by our own faculties is likely to come up short - limited by personal bias, imperfect perception, and vulnerable to the pitfalls of speculation. An objective yet familiar touchstone is needed, a supportive and uplifting hand to gently (or sternly) urge us forward when we lose steam. When we find a teacher who speaks to us, whether because it's what we need to hear at that time in our lives, or because they are distinctly well-versed, we are given parameters that help direct and refresh our focus, build familiarity, and fill the data bank with relevant terms and how-to's. To continue steadily is to follow in their footsteps, follow the process that many before us have successfully taken on.

Freedom can be found in our dedication to and sincere effort in a practice. When there is a lineage of teachers passing on consistent, truth-based principles, we are able to rely on the past results of others' efforts, to extract the essential as it has helped countless others, and apply it to our specific time in history. Of course, this may also require some perspective, a guide to help us interpret a principle so that it may best serve our desired outcome or goal. Indeed, a guide's perspective can be invaluable when it stems from studied experience and an intimate knowing of who we are, where we've come from, and the greater potential they see in us.

Being able to honestly assess ourselves, what has and hasn't worked to bring us satisfaction, happiness, and realization, is the first step in being able to reach out and connect to a teacher or guide, he or she a humble student to his or her own teacher. With sincere inquiry, we may be the recipients of the grace that has passed through so many like us who have come before and continue to help keep the way forward open, the flow of grace uninterrupted.

by Alexandra Moga

Focus of the Month: True Freedom

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As we move into the core of summer, we are reminded of America's original source of inspiration: Independence and Freedom. But what does true freedom really look like? What does independence mean if we are to maintain respect, compassion, and integrity as small agents of a larger body and community, never fully independent? 

Practicing yoga asana grants us the space to live and breathe more freely in our bodies, moving stagnant energy and relieving common aches and pains when practiced regularly. Indeed, the benefits are not strictly physical. The mind is also calmed, giving us temporary respite from the constant barrage of thoughts as our focus sharpens and the breath quells the senses. The mind is empowered to decide and lead, instead of being dragged around by fleeting desire. 
 
So here, we find independence from the raging ego and senses that is actually beneficial. This independence allows us to experience some freedom, but not without limitations. If we are to maintain this valuable experience over the long term, our habits will have to change. Perhaps we find that eating certain foods aggravates the body, agitates the mind. So we limit and revise what we consume in food and drink. Perhaps our perception, refined a bit, notices that certain music and media causes us to think and speak in ways that are hurtful or untruthful. We remember the times that we heard wisdom talks and how they brought us greater understanding, with that, some clarity, some willpower to become better and more in control of those parts of ourselves needing support and healing. 
 
All of a sudden, yoga is no longer about the "me", but about the "us" of relationship, the receiving of teachings from a higher source, a teacher who has a studied, broader perspective, and the giving back to honor these gifts. The journey of self-betterment is now reflected back out as a more integrated person connects to his or her true identity, gradually more and more free of illusions about what is real and what is necessary to live a satisfying life. This personal experience naturally extends into gratitude, a quality of love for the awakening of the inner guide and outer circumstances and people who have aided this journey. 
 
Freedom in body, mind, and spirit comes when we unite the three in service of the soul and its desire to give love and be loved. When we consciously integrate the realm of spirit while dealing with matter, it liberates the calculating mind and places us in the flow of grace. And what is more freeing than that?

by Alexandra Moga

Focus of the Month: Summer Solstice: Connecting to Expansive, Cooperative Creativity

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June 21 marks the transition into Summer and the start of a season of fullness and positive, focused energy with the potential of great awakening. The progress of the sun throughout the year symbolizes the process of attaining enlightenment, and the summer solstice is the final climax of this journey as the day of most light in the year. As the sun reaches its full height in the sky, we are reminded of the heights we are able to achieve when we tap into the energy of connection to the disciplined, spiritual self (winter), the compassionate, receptive self (spring), and the full, loving self (summer).

As one continues on the path of yoga and conscious living, through its many offerings, we may find greater facility to maintain the connection to strength of spirit, sources of inspiration, and faith rooted in love. While we may hear ancient texts and modern teachers speak of this connection, how can we come to experience it first hand?

At this time in history, using creativity to elevate awareness is at center stage, as is sharing and expanding the power of creativity through cooperative efforts. Connecting with teams, social groups, and/or communities which support and direct creative energy is a potent way to make the most of this year's solstice. 

by Alexandra Moga

Focus of the Month: Come Together

photo by Sherry Sutton Photography

After the introspection and isolation of the winter season, we begin to emerge with our realizations, perhaps with questions and confusion, desiring to connect the dots and put them to the test. Relationships are one of the most, if not the most, powerful agents of change and inspiration. Indeed, it is through the feedback of relationship and connection to other that we often learn the most about ourselves and our place in the world. As we navigate the many internal and external changes in the cycles of life, we can find guidance and strong, stabilizing roots in community, and moreover, spiritual community.  

The transformation of our connections in this world from gross to subtle, material to spiritual is one of the many gifts of a yoga practice. Digging past surface thoughts, relationships, and actions rewards us with greater fulfillment, understanding and awareness, compassion and patience. Radhanath Swami reflects on this, stating "If we do not actively invest in our spiritual growth, quality of life remains shallow." But what is the depth of spiritual growth truly worth if we cannot extend that connection to others? 

The beauty of spiritual growth is that, while it brings us closer to our true selves, it inherently brings us closer to others. When we are committed to investing in our spiritual practices, we are naturally more caring, and more connected to the welfare of others.  

As the lens focuses more and more on the collective this year, we must not only continue on the path of self-betterment, but come together as a powerful unit of collective evolution. This month, take the opportunity to connect to the spiritual community in our little corner of the world with two special programs: Brave New Gita and Roots of Kirtan

by Alexandra Moga

Established in the Self

Coming off our 300 hour YTT and Bhakti Yoga Cultural Immersion in India, we are left with several potent realizations and lessons. Chief among them is the importance of monitoring what mantras, or repetitive thoughts and sentiments, we allow and repeat in our minds. Are you criticizing, finding fault, indulging in resentment? To take notice and replace toxic mantras and thought patterns with gratitude, tolerance, and appreciation is to chart the path towards the true Self.

Raghunath drew the parallel between a luxury building with a doorman and our minds. A doorman is there to screen who is allowed in to protect the residents of the building. Similarly, we would be wise to set up a screening process of what we allow into our minds; for over time, our thoughts surely create our external reality. This screening process can be difficult if we are conditioned to place ourselves in the center, to see the world as either a place that satisfies our desires or thwarts our attempts at control and enjoyment. Duality is a tough reality of the material world and material thinking. However transcending pain and pleasure, happiness and distress is the central result of a steady yoga practice. This is the process of flipping a dualistic, self-serving world view in order to place unity, divinity, and higher principles at the center, relocating ourselves as servants of this center. 

This practice is a powerful tool in creating a clear headspace, something which is required to attain that oft-elusive state of even-mindedness lacking in our culture today. From that clear mind, we can truly begin to appreciate the eternal self residing in the heart, and live from that place. 

This month, practice cleansing the blocks to a steady connection to your true self. Notice the thought patterns that promote selfishness and encourage thoughts and actions that place service and tolerance at the center. 

by Alexandra Moga

Meditation of the Month

Meditation of the Month

 

Meditation for a Calm Heart

 

Meditation for a Calm Heart

Sit in an Easy Pose, with a light jalandhar bandh (throat lock; lengthen the crown of the head up and gently draw the chin back towards the throat, maintaining a long neck). 

EYES: Either close the eyes or look straight ahead with the eyes 1/10th open. 

MUDRA: Place the left hand on the center of the chest at the Heart Center. The palm is flat against the chest, and the fingers are parallel to the ground, pointing to the right. Make Gyan Mudra with the right hand (touch the tip of the index (Jupiter) finger with the tip of the thumb). Raise the right hand up to the right side as if giving a pledge. The palm faces forward, the three fingers not in Gyan Mudra point up. The elbow is relaxed near the side with the forearm perpendicular to the ground. 

BREATH: Concentrate on the flow of the breath. Regulate each bit of the breath consciously. Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils. Then suspend the breath in and raise the chest. Retain it as long as possible. Then exhale smoothly, gradually, and completely. When the breath is totally out, lock the breath out for as long as possible. 

TIME: Continue this pattern of long, deep breathing for 3-31 minutes. 

TO END: Inhale and exhale strongly 3 times. Relax.

With any meditation, the key to experiencing transformation is consistency. Embrace the power of commitment -- make a vow to practice for 40 consecutive days and you will truly reap the rewards of this meditation.

Meditation from Kundalini Research Institute 

Teacher Spotlight: Rachel Haley

Part of our monthly article series from Supersoul Yoga teachers on a variety of relevant topics. We hope you enjoy reading their words and through them, learning more about your teachers and their insights. 

Being With Discomfort

Our world is hanging on tight for another turn of the wheel.  New Year, 2017.  In a time of unknowns, many are seeking anchors to ground the inevitable feelings of uncertainty.  As humans, we often look to material comforts or distractions to mollify our discomfort.  Short-term fixes can be fed by shopping, eating, using drugs and alcohol, social media and other screens, and even things like excessive exercise.  We have become skilled at not feeling, knowing that there are ways and substances to avoid pain.  

As we feed the addiction to have a "pain free" life, we are also burying the inherent contentment and moments of joy that carry us.  The feeling-life is not always bliss, it is honesty.  The honesty is sometimes a slow revelation, sometimes liberating, and sometimes excruciating.  The welcoming of the dark stuff and the ability to sit in the sludge transforms discomfort into strength.  It becomes a learning of the heart and realization of our capacities. 
 
There is effort in living a bit vulnerable and unsure -- cultivating anchors in times of uncertainty call for us to seek solace outside of addictions and distractions.  When things become dodgy, take a breath and try using one of the following tools.

CONNECT with Human: Reach out to a friend and schedule face to face time.  Make the effort to be curious about them.  Listen intently and ask lots of questions.  Sharing in another's experience can create a comforting heart-tie.

CRY: Don't hold the tears back.  Step out for a few minutes, or a day and release the sadness or fear.  

LAUGH: Through pain, there is powerful medicine in humor.  Spend time with people who can make you laugh and offer lightness to situations that feel oppressive.  It's ok to let the laughter get hysterical; it creates the same release as crying.

CHANGE the view: Perspective shifting is different than escaping.  There is value in stepping away from a situation, geographically and emotionally/mentally.  This could be get-away or vacation, or just a walk in the woods.  A time out without going to a default distraction, like as a substance or media.

SIT: What no one wants to do is to do nothing.  However, feel the discomfort.  Become knowledgeable in identifying the triggers in your experience.  The uncertainty can slowly become less and less frightening as we take an intimate, hard look at pain.  

Cleansing Detox Soup

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 of a red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 small head of broccoli, broken into florets
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • fine-grain sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups water or 4 cups vegetable broth, plus 2 cups water
  • 2 cups kale, de-stemmed and torn in pieces
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 of a small lemon

    PREPARATION
  1. In a large pot, add the water or vegetable broth and turn on the heat to medium-high. After it’s hot, add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the celery, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and fresh ginger.
  2. Stir and cook for 3 minutes, adding in extra water or broth as needed. Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, plus salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add in the water or vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
  4. Add in the kale, cabbage, and lemon juice near the last 2-3 minutes of simmering, then remove from heat and serve.

The Other Person Is You

"We are all connected" a concept that rolls off the tongue with ease, almost as an afterthought. But if you pause to deeply meditate on this truth, you may find that the degrees of separation inevitably circle back to you. 

Every habit fostered in our lives creates an effect on the energetic frequencies we emanate and on the inner space from which we move on a daily basis. Have you ever felt another person's "vibes" to be dissonant? That feelings is an opportunity for us to turn within, and recognize the edges within ourselves which are activated or perhaps still unpolished. 

When we turn to the sacred literature of the Vedas, we can understand this point from a place of compassion and kindness. Recognizing the other person is you awakens consciousness of a unifying force, of a spark that is alive and seeking the same thing, no matter the body. 

The fifth chapter of Bhagavad Gita states:

5.18 - The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].

The purport of this verse as written by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami: "A Krishna {God} conscious person does not make any distinction between species or castes. The brāhmaṇa {priestly class} and the outcaste may be different from the social point of view, or a dog, a cow, or an elephant may be different from the point of view of species, but these differences of body are meaningless from the viewpoint of a learned transcendentalist. This is due to their relationship to the Supreme, for the Supreme Lord, by His plenary portion as Paramātmā {the Supersoul or universal consciousness}, is present in everyone's heart. Such an understanding of the Supreme is real knowledge. As far as the bodies are concerned in different castes or different species of life, the Lord is equally kind to everyone because He treats every living being as a friend yet maintains Himself as Paramātmā regardless of the circumstances of the living entities. The Lord as Paramātmā is present both in the outcaste and in the brāhmaṇa, although the body of a brāhmaṇa and that of an outcaste are not the same. The bodies are material productions of different modes of material nature, but the soul and the Supersoul within the body are of the same spiritual quality. The similarity in the quality of the soul and the Supersoul, however, does not make them equal in quantity, for the individual soul is present only in that particular body, whereas the Paramātmā is present in each and every body. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person has full knowledge of this, and therefore he is truly learned and has equal vision. The similar characteristics of the soul and Supersoul are that they are both conscious, eternal and blissful. But the difference is that the individual soul is conscious within the limited jurisdiction of the body, whereas the Supersoul is conscious of all bodies. The Supersoul is present in all bodies without distinction."

In essence, if we haven't created a space to recognize, appreciate, honor and accept our own shortcomings, our own 'darkness', then it is nearly guaranteed that upon seeing it 'out there' in another person, we will be short on the understanding needed to overcome the inherent difficulties of relationships. 

But when we strengthen our resolve to approach ourselves with understanding and patience, and with an ear for spirit, we create the space to accept others in that same mood, tolerating difficulties with the equal vision of compassion, viewing all beings as parts of the spiritual source from which we emanate. This month, notice what upsets, annoys, or causes the mind to create a 'me vs them' assessment. And then approach that attitude within yourself with a humble request that you may find compassion and unity - spiritual strength - where once dissonance rang. 

by Alexandra Moga

Teacher Spotlight: Mike Andryszewski

Part of our monthly article series from Supersoul Yoga teachers on a variety of relevant topics. We hope you enjoy reading their words and through them, learning more about your teachers and their insights. 

Journey to the Supersoul

Paramatman (parama - supreme, atma - soul), is a Sanskrit word which translates as Supersoul. "Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul" - Bhagavad Gita 13.23
We learn that deep down in every being there is the fundamental idea of God, which sometimes is blocked off due to material circumstances. Our job in this life is to unblock ourselves from God so that we may begin to cultivate a loving relationship with our higher power and true selves. God is always present - we just choose to ignore him. 
This is my journey over the past 6 months to the Supersoul:
On June 1, 2016 I moved to Supersoul Farm, with two very inspiring mentors of mine, Raghunath and Bridget Cappo to study yoga more deeply. Originally from New Jersey, I had a well-paying job with many perks and a good standing in my company as well as the local communities that I served. I have a loving and supporting family, but I was always a seeker, wondering what more there was to life. Pained by the materialistic existence I lived, not feeling any bit true to myself, I decided to change one simple detail in my life. Everything. I packed my bags and moved to East Chatham, New York.
Over the past months living here, the internal as well as external transformation I am experiencing is astonishing. I came to upstate NY with no sense of direction in my life. I had no conception of feeling any basic human emotions like love, gratitude and joy and was spiritually numb. Moving into Supersoul, I have been able to create this space to enable this vital growth and manifestation of my true self. For the first time in a very long time, perhaps my entire life, I feel a strong connection to my higher beliefs and the higher forces working in my life. I have been able to develop a very strong sadhana (spiritual practice) and spend a lot of time meditating, studying yogic philosophy and offering seva (service) to the community. The Mike you see today is able to show up in such an authentic portrayal of who I really am.
When I ask myself what my purpose is, or more importantly what I have to offer, I realize that it's my uncensored authenticity that I am able to offer. From this I draw so much self-empowerment. All the experiences of my life have enabled me to build a toolbox of interpersonal skills which not only aid myself, but others. It's my fierce determination to constantly better myself, as well as to show that determination and share personal experiences of what I have experienced or am currently experiencing, that can be channeled to inspire others. This is my gift to offer people, whether working individually or during my yoga asana classes.
This is my journey to the Supersoul, that guiding force within myself that is my direct connection to my true self, to my true creator. When people ask me how life is in upstate New York, I have only one answer to give them: moving upstate was the best decision I've made in my life, and it's a decision I'll never regret. 

DIY Gift Idea: Lemon & Thyme Salt Scrub

Ingredients
1 cup kosher salt* (I used  this infused salt, but you can use plain!)
1/2 cup pure organic almond oil
*If you aren't making the infused salt and instead are using plain kosher salt, add the following to your mixture:
the zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems

Directions
Pour the salt into a clean, sterilized container with a tight-fitting lid.
If you're using plain salt, add the lemon zest and thyme.
Pour the almond oil over top and screw the lid on tightly.
To use, just give the jar a stir to mix the oil and salt together, and scrub away in the shower!
The scrub will keep for up to 6 months stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe & image from Food + Words

Focus of the Month: Aligning with Truth

As we enter the final month of 2016, a year we can all agree has brought tremendous loss and change, our focus at Supersoul is on setting a steadfast foundation in the here-and-now for the coming year. As injustice is more and more evident, aligning with truth is our collective calling, the necessary response in the face of an unbearable, unsustainable status quo. 

So much of a yoga practice is a private, personal experience and dedication. As one's practice evolves, the results become increasingly evident and eventually force a rupture with the-way-things-were, so that we may embrace the-way-things-are, and live in line with the-way-things-must-be for the soul ever yearning for unity. Indeed, aligning with truth is a direct request of a steady yoga practice. As hidden pains, traumas, and dishonesty surfaces, we are faced with a choice: continue in ignorance and suffering, or make the seemingly difficult changes necessary to shed the too-tight skin for a brave new evolution. 

Facebook feeds, news tickers, and first-hand accounts of the difficulties facing us can be entirely overwhelming. A yoga practice is a sanctuary, a place to derive steadiness, strength, courage, or just help keep the pieces together. Yogic teachings offer us ethical guidelines in the yamas (self-regulating behaviors) and niyamas (personal practices) to help foster the inner resilience and clarity needed for personal evolution. While they're all valuable and necessary, at certain times in our lives, certain principles will stand out. 

They are:

Yamas:

  • Ahimsa: nonviolence
  • Satya: truthfulness
  • Asteya: non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya: non-excess (often interpreted as celibacy)
  • Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed.

Niyamas:

  • Saucha: purity
  • Santosha: contentment
  • Tapas: self-discipline, training your senses
  • Svadhyaya: self-study, inner exploration
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender (to God)

How can we move forward in truthfulness at this time in history? After a trip to Standing Rock over Thanksgiving week, it's become more evident that a 'tribal' paradigm of living, that is; sharing our resources, relying on local neighbors instead of big-businesses, turning to nature and nurture instead of turning on the TV, and dedicating time to weekly prayer and ceremony is a more honest, aligned way of living that truly satisfies and sustains us. 

Our big banks are tied up in the violence against humanity and voting with our dollars is another powerful way to stand by our truth. Take your business to local banks and credit unions, and then write a letter to your bank letting them know why!  Here is a list of banks currently funding the Dakota Access Pipeline

This month, we focus on thoughtful, creative ways of aligning with truth. What are some ways this might express for you? Leave a comment below! We hope to serve you in your path to alignment and harmony. And as you practice on the mat, at home or at the studio, we hope that bringing this soulful alignment into your bones will further solidify your walk.

In truth and solidarity,
Alexandra

by Alexandra Moga

An Ayurvedic Thanksgiving

Flourless Pecan Pie

Preparation Time: About 45 minutes, plus refrigeration time
ield: One 9-inch Pie

Ingredients

Crust:
1 C raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw pecans
2 T shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. ground dried ginger root
1 pinch mineral-rich salt
1 1/4 C Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped

Filling:
1 C Medjool dates, pitted
1 C organic raisins
4 whole dried plums (or prunes), pitted
3 C purified water
1/2 C reserved soak-water from dates, raisins, and prunes
1 cup raw whole pecans, plus 1/4 C reserved for decorating
1/8 C maple syrup, brown rice syrup or coconut nectar
1 T vanilla
1/8 teaspoon mineral-rich salt (Real Salt)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Dash of black pepper

Directions

For the filling, soak the dates and raisins in 3 cups of purified water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a sticky mass. Press the crust dough into the bottom of a coconut oil-greased 9-inch pie or springform pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling. 

Now add 1 cup of the pecans, the maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and spices to the food processor. Drain the dates, raisins and prunes, reserving at least 1/2 cup of the soak water*. Add to the food processor with the other ingredients and pulse on high for about 30 seconds, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender. Taste for sweetness and spice. Pour the pie filling into the crust, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Decorate with the remaining whole raw pecans.

Talya Lutzker is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, nutritionist, chef, and yoga teacher, and the founder of Talya's Kitchen. Her latest cookbook is The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen. Learn more at TalyasKitchen.com.

Recipe from Yoga Journal

 

Gratitude: Flex Your Good-Finding Muscles

Teacher Spotlight: Alexandra Sullivan 

We will be sharing monthly articles from Supersoul Yoga teachers on a variety of relevant topics. We hope you enjoy reading their words and through them, learning more about your teachers and their insights. 

"If you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you." Jon Kabat Zinn

This month I will start a gratitude journal, a daily practice of writing down 5 things I am grateful for each night before bed. At any given moment we seem to have the choice to focus on what's "good" in our lives and in the world or what's not. Unfortunately there's a catch. The human brain has evolved with a negative bias to scan the external environment for threats, a part of our reptilian brain that is wired for survival from predators or other dangers. Cultivating a gratitude practice can encourage my brain to tilt toward looking for, and appreciating, the good stuff around me, in others and in myself.

 "Grateful attention is the key to joy." says Brother David Steindl-Rast, co-founder of a A Network for Grateful Living, "If we can shift our lens to be more cognizant of what's happening for real in the space around us and among the people around us, as opposed to what we're worried about, we're set up for more happiness".

This is not Polyanna talk. Research has shown that it takes five times more positive feedback to the brain to counter the negative bias it has toward seeking out "the bad stuff" in life. The great news is that just as a regular physical yoga practice can recondition my body-mind to be relaxed, strong, stable and flexible, I can train my thinking to see more of the light than the dark, to be more appreciative and less critical, to be open hearted and happy. As one gratitude expert puts it "This doesn't mean that life is perfect; it doesn't ignore complaints, burdens and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life." 

I know it's easy to be grateful when things are going well, the harder part is learning to be grateful when they aren't. So in addition to keeping a gratitude journal this month I will challenge myself to also look for ways of appreciating the not-so-good stuff, remind myself to appreciate others in my everyday life, appreciate myself and become less dependent upon praise from others and use a gratitude tool in difficult situations such as asking myself "what can I appreciate in this situation?" or "what lesson can I learn from this?". 

This way I don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to be grateful, I can experience it everyday this month...without the vegetarian turkey and pumpkin pie!

Alexandra teaches Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm.

 

Focus of the Month: Humility // Gratitude

At this point in our evolution as a collective world family, extremities are more and more apparent. It seems like every day there are more and more outrageous incidents; extreme weather, natural devastation, lapses of humanity, compassion, and intelligence. Although there are more conscious communities forming and living based on higher principles, we can't seem to escape the opposite; much re-balancing and healing is needed. 

The path of yoga offers one of the most powerful and sustainable solutions to the material problems of our time. We cannot stop the forward movement of technology and information, but we can adjust our capacity to navigate this strange new world by maintaining a strong connection to the eternal reservoir of clarity, hope, and love that yoga offers.  

The principles of humility and gratitude go hand in hand, and are the basis by which we can truly learn and transform not only ourselves, but our interactions, our families and communities, and the world at large.

Humility creates space between the false ego and the receptive mind, or the witness. To be humble means to recognize that every being deserves to thrive and experience the same joy, support, and understanding we ourselves seek. Furthermore, humility inspires us to be of service to that end. Humility does not require a credential, reason, or material worthiness, although the ego certainly seeks these things as a justification to hear or acknowledge another. In short, humility puts the impulses of the mind on hold to allow for the truth to be heard.

With a consistent yoga practice, our mind and entire being becomes more and more sensitized to this truth. Yoga, union, invites awakening, and gratitude is a natural response to awakening. Gratitude puts our efforts in perspective, placing our journey along the continuum of our ancestors' journey, our teachers' efforts, and the journeys of our fellow students, friends, and neighbors. 

Gratitude opens us up to receive more blessings. And humility extends our blessings out to others, to share what we've been given because we can see that the best things in life don't belong to anyone, they belong to everyone.

This month, we encourage you to reach beyond your comfort zone and seek out ways of honoring and thanking the people and incidents in your life. Listen with an ear that does not know. Give with a heart that does not fear. And trust. Trust that to practice humility and gratitude is to open yourself up to the healing and transformation the soul is alway seeking.  

by Alexandra Moga

Fall Recipe: Vegan Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup

Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut into florets  
4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup coconut milk
Freshly ground black pepper, to season
1/4 cup roasted cashew halves, for garnish (optional, see Recipe Note) 
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish (optional) 
Red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)

Instructions
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Cook the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt until onions are soft and translucent, 8 to 9 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add garlic, and cook for 2 additional minutes. Add cauliflower, broth or water, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until cauliflower is fork-tender, about 15 minutes.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth and then return the soup to the soup pot. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée the soup right in the pot.) Stir in the coconut milk and warm the soup. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or spices if you'd like.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a handful of toasted cashews, a few springs of parsley, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a dash of olive oil to top.

Recipe Notes
To toast the cashews: Preheat the oven to 350°F and lay cashews out on a baking sheet in a nice flat layer. Toast for 5 to 6 minutes, or until fragrant.

Recipe from The Kitchn

Focus of the Month // Compassion & Trikonasana

It seems the more compassion is needed, the harder it is to come by. Over time, with repeated obstacles, failures, and daily difficulties, we start to shut down the feeling center of the body, and are consequently left adrift in a mode of survival, competition, and defensiveness. On the other hand, repeated successes, triumph, and praise can also lead the ego to the same place. Disconnected from the true source of our achievements, we're on edge -- defending our place on top. 

When we are not actively practicing compassion for ourselves and others, resentment and frustration, over-reaching and striving, get stuck in the body as chronic pain, replay in the mind as limiting self-talk and rigid beliefs, and extend out into our relationships; preventing communication, support, personal and relational growth, and free-flowing appreciation. 

But compassion leaves no room for these limits. Compassion is a trained response, just like anger and fear are trained reactions. Compassion is an out-reached hand, an offering of the heart to help alleviate suffering. The response of compassion requires us to dig past entitlement, expectation, and selfishness and reach into a territory of patience, breath, connection, and understanding. We need compassion like a fish needs water, like *we* need water, air, food, and yes -- love. We need compassion to survive! And moreover, to begin to thrive.

Compassion softens our hearts when they want to brace against the rough realities of life in this body, on this planet, in relationship to one another. But compassion is the window that lets a fresh perspective in, some fresh air to get out of our snap judgements and into our hearts. 

We need compassion for ourselves, and to offer ourselves compassion often means we must extend that hand, and ask for help; whether from a loved one, a pen, or a higher power. Compassion means humility, realizing and accepting that we are not all-powerful individuals, and that in order to reduce suffering, we all need help.  

We need compassion for one another -- it's the bridge between two hearts that leads to greater self-awareness and perhaps more refined choices in thoughts, words, and deeds. Compassion is the higher point of a triangle. Looking up towards that point for guidance, we can bring stability and comfort back down into the base while relating to another or our own selves. 

In triangle pose, we can stretch space into the side body and rib cage and expand the range of breath. With deeper breath comes greater control of the mind, and with the mind subdued, we are better able to connect to the truth as it is in the moment, to listening and considering versus filtered and distorted ego-based misconceptions. In the posture, the arm reaching for the ground creates an anchor in opposition to the arm reaching for the sky, and the space along the upper back and in front of the heart begins to loosen.

This month, may your practice be rooted in consideration of how to alleviate suffering through patient loving. And as you experience difficult feelings and moments, may you always come to rely on the north star of compassion. 

With love and compassion,
Alexandra

by Alexandra Moga

Meet your new teachers!

Suzanne Martin

Suzanne Martin

A big warm welcome to our new teachers: Rosy, Mike, and Suzanne! We are so grateful for your offerings! Check out their classes and say hi! 
xo
Supersoul

Rosy - Restorative Yoga, Mondays @ 11am
Mike - Morning Yoga, Wednesdays @ 7am & Beginners Yoga, Thursdays @ 11am (Hip Openers beginning late October, Sundays @ 6pm)
Suzanne - Hatha Yoga, Saturdays @ 8am