26 February 2008

Aaahhh...the Gita, my true love

During my yoga teacher training, the Bhagavad-Gita was a required text. I read it. I liked it, found some inspiration, got a little "wisdom." But I didn't really read it. The first time around, I was reading it as a pupil who was told to read it. I guess I was approaching the book like I would a homework assignment. Now that I have completed my training program I can't put the book down! It's by my bedside. I take it with me when I teach yoga class. I read passages from it to my students. There are all these tabbies sticking out of it. I know part of it has to do with the fact that I recently purchased a newer translation of it. The one by Stephen Mitchell, which Sati, my yoga teacher recommended. It is a much better edition than the previous one I read. I think the bigger part of it is that I am reading it with new eyes, a new identity, a little bit more "educated" intellect perhaps.

Now, I honestly feel like I am reading it for the first time. Everyday I continue to find new messages within it. When I read passages from the Gita, I seem to receive more clarity, more understanding and more peace. When I am looking for answers about God, life, death, friendships, my yoga practice, the future, anything, really, I pick it up and amazingly enough, the solutions are right there in front me. There is no need to search any further.

The passages that have stuck with me this week, and which I also read to my yoga class this morning, are in chapter 2. Krishna is talking to Arjuna about the practice of yoga and is beginning to enlighten Arjuna about "the Self "and how his mind is filled with delusion:

"This is philosophy's wisdom;
now hear the wisdom of yoga.
Armed with this understanding,
you will shatter your karmic bonds.

On this path no effort is wasted,
no gain is ever reversed;
even a little of this practice
will shelter you from great sorrow."

[2:39-40]

Mahatma Gandhi referred to the Gita as his Bible. I am definitely no Gandhi but I feel like the Gita is kind of my "Bible" too. I think...if I ever have a baby girl, her name will be Gita....even if I have a boy, maybe I'll still name him Gita. When I die, I want to be cremated and I want those crematory-people, or whatever you call them, to throw in a copy of the Gita with my body, so I can forever rest with it...in hard-copy that is....

23 February 2008

Vagina Warriors Unite! Ahimsa & V-DAY 2008!


Rehearsal for the Vagina Monologues has begun! For the next 4 weeks until opening night, I’ll be plugging the show, doing a bit of promoting. Performances are on March 21st and 22nd at 5 Points Theater in Riverside. If you are in the Jacksonville area, I know you will have nothing better to do than come and see the show. I am not sure at this point how much tickets are or what time the performance begins (I know, I'm such a well-informed promoter), but will post as soon as I find out. I believe tickets are in the $20.00 – $30.00 range and I think curtain goes up at 8 pm. Last year both performances were sold out, so get your tickets ASAP.
I can't give away too much about the show, but I can tell you that the goal of V-Day is to educate the community about violence against women and what to do to bring an end to it. For all you yogis out there, I know you are fully aware of ahimsa or non-violence, one of the yamas (observances) of the eight-limbed yogic path. The Monologues are ALL ABOUT ahimsa (I'm no Patanjali, but I know we need to practice ahimsa in order to reach samadhi, that little place also known as "enlightenment").
To learn more about the V-Day cause and the Monologues, visit http://www.vday.org/. All proceeds benefit the Hubbard House, a shelter for victims of violence and abuse. It’s for a good cause! Thanks for your support!

17 February 2008

Ladies & Gentlemen, Please Welcome "Shivani"...


Today was an amazing day. The weather was gorgeous. There was sunshine and a beautiful breeze. I graduated from my yoga program. The feeling that I've had all day is the feeling you get when you finish reading a great book. The story was so great that you're sad its over, you want to keep reading. It's like you feel emptiness, not a bad emptiness, just a sense of uncertainty about the next step to take.

My teachers, Sara and Sati put so much work into making it such a special day. We began the day by attending Pooja, which is a Hindu worship ceremony. The Hindu Priest went out of his way to welcome us and even focused his lecture around the different forms of yoga. We listened to his beautiful chanting and were extremely amazed when we recognized most of the chants he was singing! I am so grateful to Sati for having taught us those chants.

After Pooja, we went to Sara's house for lunch and the ceremony. The ceremony was so beautiful, warm and peaceful. Sati gave a very inspiring speech about the path of yoga and how yoga is a constant state of learning and pondering. She said, “To be a yogi is to be a spiritual adventurer who embarks on the most daring, mysterious, divinely lit ride of existence. And in the middle of it all, do not underestimate your power. Do not underestimate your core.”

This has definitely been an adventure and I definitely underestimated where this training program would take me. After her speech, Sati handed us our certificates and Sanskrit names. I had been waiting for this moment for 6 months with so much excitement and anticipation! When I opened the envelope and saw Shivani written on the piece of paper, I felt a sense of peace come over me. All of a sudden I felt like I had received some sort of closure from a life I had abandoned and forgotten about.

Shivani is the name of the Hindu Goddess, Parvati. From some of the internet research I read about Shivani, I learned that she was the second love of the God, Shiva. She was believed to be a reincarnation of Shiva’s first love, Sati. Parvati was also the mother of Ganesha, one of the most worshiped deities in Hinduism who is known as the “Remover of Obstacles.” Parvati is said to symbolize divine power and maternal devotion. In some Hindu communities, it is believed that Parvati is the source of all power in the universe because without her, Shiva would be powerless and weak. On certain festivals honoring Parvati, she is celebrated as the goddess of harvest and protector of women. She is typically depicted with bare breasts, carrying a pink lotus and showing the abhaya mudra which is a hand gesture of fearlessness.

I do feel fearless today. I love my new name. It’s beautiful and I feel honored to have received it. Except, now that I know that Shivani was a reincarnation of Sati, I feel like I have some major shoes to fill! My teacher, Sati is definitely an inspiration and I will always work to make her proud and promote the education she has given me.

Today is a day that no one can take away from me. I will always have today’s memories and the experiences in my heart. I know that the adventures have just begun!!!!

12 February 2008

Peace, Love & Yoga Graduation!

In just 4 days I will be receiving my yoga certification. 6 months of hard work over in the blink of an eye. There will be a ceremony, pictures will be taken, I have to wear my yoga uniform...its just like college graduation except cooler. The most exciting part is that I'll be getting a Sanskrit name. A new name. Wow. I don't know what it is yet, but I know that it will symbolize a new me. The person that Yoga and its philosophy has transformed me into. No matter what, I will cherish that name forever. I will keep it and hold it close in my heart....

Speaking of the heart, and with Valentine's Day just around the corner...it is always around this time of year when I begin to feel an overwhelming sense of love for the people around me. My law school classmates, my fellow yoginis & soon-to-be collegues, my yoga teachers, my professors. It's not the kind of love you naturally feel on a daily basis, but it's the kind of love that just makes you want to approach a person and give them a 10 minute hug for no reason at all, and if you don't you feel like you are going to burst. Each day I am extremely grateful to that Divine force for having brought me to Jacksonville so that I could meet these wonderful individuals. So many blessings, so much love, so many thanks....

Om Namaha Shivaya