Monthly Archives: November 2013

landfillharmonic

In the barrios of Paraguay, music arises from the garbage heaps and children find new dreams

The Inter-American Developmant Bank’s Water and Sanitation Division, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), and the Cultural Center of the Office of External Relations proudly present the Orquesta De Instrumentos Reciclados (Orchestra of Recycled Instruments) of Cateura, Paraguay in their D.C. debut on August 27, 2013.

“The world sends us their garbage, we give them back music”

The Orchestra of Recycled Instruments is a mind-boggling creative effort. An innovative 18 member group of young musicians from Paraguay, the orchestra uses musical instruments made with recycled materials, resulting in a seamless combination of culture and social innovation.

Favio Chávez, the Orchestra’s visionary Director, used his ingenuity to put a team together to search the landfill for usable materials and craft musical instruments out of discarded materials. In Cateura, a village that grew around a landfill, children are often at risk of getting involved with drugs and gangs, but the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments has offered these young people new life opportunities through music.

In just a few years, their program has led to a thriving music school and a youth orchestra that performs internationally. The Orchestra is also the subject of a documentary, Landfill Harmonic, which is slated to be released in 2014.

http://www.landfillharmonicmovie.com/

Excerpt of Article from Inter-American Development Bank Website

Advertisements

uddiyana bandha

Image

Watch Ayurvedic consultant and Shadow Yoga teacher Scott Blossom demonstrate the abdominal lock, used to improve digestion, tone the abdominal muscles, and stimulate and lift the energy of the lower belly (apana vayu), to unite it with the energies localized in the navel (samana vayu) and heart (prana vayu).


kalari vinyasa

From Shiva Rea: Power Flow Yoga


dance of shiva

Image

In the Hindu tradition, gods and goddesses dance as a way of expressing the dynamic energy of life. The image of Nataraja represents the god of gods, Shiva, as the Lord of the Dance, choreographing the eternal dance of the universe as well as more earthly forms such as Indian classical dance (which is said to have originated from his teachings). In Hindu mythology Shiva is also Yogiraj, the consummate yogi, who is said to have created more than 840,000 asanas, among them the hatha yoga poses we do today. While a cultural outsider may not relate to these mythic dimensions in a literal way, dancers in India revere the divine origins of their dances, which were revealed to the sage Bharata and transcribed by him into the classic text on dance drama, the Natya Shastra (circa 200 c.e.). What many practitioners of yoga do not know is that one of the central texts of yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, written around the same time, was also inspired by an encounter with Nataraja.

Srivatsa Ramaswami, Chennai-based yoga teacher, scholar, and longtime student of yoga master T. Krishnamacharya, includes a pivotal story of how Patanjali came to write the Yoga Sutra in his book Yoga for the Three Stages of Life. In Ramaswami’s account, Patanjali, a young man with a great yogic destiny, is drawn to leave home to do tapas (intensive meditation) and receive the darshana of Shiva’s dance. Eventually Shiva becomes so taken by Patanjali’s ekagrya (one-pointed focus) that he appears before Patanjali and promises to reveal his dance to the young yogi at Chidambaram, a Nataraja temple in present-day Tamil Nadu. At Chidambaram, Patanjali encounters a golden theater filled with many divine beings and sages. To Patanjali’s wonderment, Brahma, Indra, and Saraswati start to play their sacred instruments. Shiva then begins his ananda tandava (“dance of ultimate bliss”). As Ramaswami tells it, “The great tandava starts with a slow rhythm and in time reaches its crescendo. Engrossed completely in the divine dance, the great sages lose their separate identities and merge with the great oneness created by the tandava.” At the end of the dance, Shiva asks Patanjali to write the Mahabhasya, his commentaries on Sanskrit grammar, as well as the Yoga Sutra, the yogic text most widely used by Western yoga practitioners today.

Another area where dance and hatha yoga meet is in the actual sadhana (practice), where there are many parallels between the two arts in both the technique and spirit (bhava) of the dance. The tradition is passed from guru to shishya (student) in a live transmission; the teacher gives the proper adjustments and guides the students into the inner arts of the practice. All of Indian classical dance refers back to the Natya Shastra text for an elaborate classification of the form. If you thought the technique of asana was detailed, you should peruse the Natya Shastra: It not only describes all the movements of the major limbs (angas)—the head, chest, sides, hips, hands, and feet—but also offers a detailed description of the actions of the minor limbs (upangas)—including intricate movements of the eyebrows, eyeballs, eyelids, chin, and even the nose—to create specific moods and effects. As in hatha yoga, one begins with the basics of body mechanics and gradually moves toward the subtler aspects of the art.

The karanas, dance counterparts of asanas, are linked into a sequence known as angaharas. Ramaa Bharadvaj compares angaharas to the flowing yoga of vinyasa, in which the “dance” of yoga is experienced as the linking of one asana to the next through the breath. “Even though a posture can be held,” she says, “it is really part of a flow. It’s like the Ganges coming down from the Himalayas: Although it passes Rishikesh and then Varanasi, it doesn’t stop; it keeps flowing.” Like the alignment of asanas, the karanas are based on the center line of the body in relation to gravity and include not only placement of the body but also attention to the pathways of energies that flow through the body.

Ultimately, yoga is about connecting to the Big Dance, which one can experience either abstractly, through the lens of spiritual culture, or more intimately, as did physicist Fritjof Capra. In his book The Tao of Physics, he describes the experience he had while he was sitting on the beach and watching the waves, observing the interdependent choreography of life: “I ‘saw’ cascades of energy coming down . . . in which particles were created and destroyed. I ‘saw’ the atoms of the elements and those of my body participating in this cosmic dance of energy. I felt its rhythm and ‘heard’ its sound and at that moment I knew that this was the Dance of Shiva.”

Excerpts from Yoga Journal Article The Divine Dance by Shiva Rea


lasya vinyasa

According to tantric lore, Shiva’s dance was first performed at Chidambaram, the mystical center of the universe. Within the microcosm of the human being, the center of the universe—the stage for this divine dance—correlates to the heart itself. Thus, the spirit of natarajasana inspires a fluid sequence that opens the heart and invites conscious awareness.

The term Lasya, in the context of Hindu mythology, describes the dance performed by Goddess Parvathi as it expresses happiness and is filled with grace and beauty. She is believed to have danced the Lasya in response to the male energy of the cosmic dance of Tandava performed by Lord Shiva. In a literal sense, Lasya means beauty, happiness and grace.

Lasya Vinyasa

From adho mukha shvanasana (downward-facing dog pose), move very slowly and in synchronization with the breath as follows:

Image

Inhaling, extend the right leg back and up, externally rotating the hip and bending the right knee, while rooting the left heel down.

Exhaling, release the right foot to the floor about mat-distance to the left of the left foot, toes pointing backward.

lasya_2

Inhaling, sweep the right arm around in a wide counter-clockwise circular motion toward the sky.

Exhaling, continue the arm movement to bring the right hand back to the mat.

Inhaling, extend the right leg back and up to its original elevated position in three-legged downward-facing dog.

Image

Exhaling, draw the shoulders over the wrists as you move toward plank pose, while drawing the right knee toward the chest; then extend the right leg to the left, crossing it underneath the left leg at a 90-degree angle and planting the outer edge of the foot on the floor.

Inhaling, root the left heel in and down and the right hand evenly into the floor, while sweeping the left arm up and around in a wide clockwise circular motion toward the sky

Exhaling, continue the circular motion of the arm to release the left hand back to the mat.

Repeat on the other side before resting in adho mukha shvanasana.

 A Heart Opening Sequence for Natarajasana by Mark Stephens


kleshas

Image

Kleshas – Avidya: The Mother of All Kleshas


avidya

Image

The Sanskrit word vidya means wisdom or knowledge—the wisdom earned through deep practice and experience. The prefix a indicates a lack or an absence. In the yogic sense, avidya means something that goes far beyond ordinary ignorance. Avidya is a fundamental blindness about reality. The core ignorance we call avidya isn’t a lack of information, but the inability to experience your deep connection to others, to the source of being, and to your true Self. Avidya has many layers and levels, which operate in different ways. We see it threaded through every aspect of our lives—in our survival strategies, our relationships, our cultural prejudices, the things we hunger for and fear. All forms of cluelessness and fogged perception are forms of avidya. But behind each of avidya’s manifestations is the failure to recognize that essentially you are spirit, and that you share this with every atom of the universe.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra II.5, we are given four useful clues for identifying when we have slipped into avidya. Each clue points to a particular way in which we take surface perceptions for reality. It cautions us to look deeper—to inquire beneath what our physical senses or cultural prejudices or egoic belief structures tell us. “Avidya,” the sutra says, “is to mistake the impermanent for the eternal, the impure for the pure, sorrow for happiness, and the not-Self for the true Self.”

Taken together, these flavors of avidya cause you to live in a kind of trance state—aware of what’s obvious on the surface but unable to recognize the underlying reality. Since this personal trance is fully supported by the beliefs and perceptions of the culture around you, it’s difficult for most of us even to recognize the existence of the veil. To fully dismantle avidya is the deep goal of yoga, and it demands a radical shift of consciousness. But the good news is that just recognizing that you’re entranced is to begin to wake up from the dream. And you can begin to free yourself from its more egregious manifestations by simply being willing to question the validity of your ideas and feelings about who you are.

Dismantling avidya is a multilayered process, which is why one breakthrough is usually not enough. Since different types of practice unpick different aspects of avidya, the Indian tradition prescribes different types of yoga for each one—devotional practice for the ignorance of the heart, selfless action for the tendency to attach to outcomes, meditation for a wandering mind. The good news is that any level you choose to work with is going to make a difference.

You free yourself from a piece of your avidya every time you increase your ability to be conscious, or hold presence during a challenging event. You can do this in dozens of ways. Meditations that tune you in to pure Being will begin to remove the deeper ignorance that makes you automatically identify “me” with the body, personality, and ideas. On a day-to-day, moment-to-moment level, you burn off a few layers of avidya every time you turn your awareness inward and reflect on the subtle meaning of a feeling or a physical reaction.

Avidya is a deep habit of consciousness, but it’s a habit that we can shift—with intention, practice, and a lot of help from the universe. Any moment that causes us to question our assumptions about reality has the potential to lift our veil. Patanjali’s sutra on avidya is not just a description of the problem of ignorance. It’s also the key to the solution. When you pull back and question the things you think are eternal and permanent, you begin to recognize the wondrous flux that is your life. When you ask, “What’s the real source of happiness?” you extend your focus beyond the external trigger to the feeling of happiness itself. And when you seek to know the difference between the false self and the true one, that’s when the veil might come off altogether and show you that you’re not just who you take yourself to be, but something much brighter, much vaster, and much more free.

Excerpt from Yoga Journal Article, Who Do You Think You Are by Sally Kempton