In 2006, Rodney and I had the privilege of taking a few classes with Mr. Iyengar. When it came time for Headstand, I informed the yoga master that I didn’t do them — I have a seizure disorder that I always felt was aggravated by Headstands. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to stand on my head now! And I did. I stayed up, and only came down when he said it was time.
By then, the rest of the class had moved on to Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), and, trying to be a good student, I came down from Headstand and sat right up to join the rest of the class. That’s the point at which he slapped my back and said, “That is your problem, not Headstand: You transition too quickly and mindlessly. I am sure that you do this in your life as well. You never let anything settle in.” Wow, what an acute teaching for a chronic issue!
It is light in the darkest night. It brings people to their knees. It is symbolic and powerful, yet proof-less and criticized. It illuminates life and it wages war. It escapes some and captivates many. To some it is doctrine, to others it is fiction. It is faith.
Today’s definition of faith doesn’t have to relate to religion; it can be trust or belief in something without proof. But in today’s society, the invisible creates disbelief. People lack faith in all areas of their lives because they are looking for evidence. They are waiting for the ideal job, the perfect relationship and financial abundance. They are looking for something tangible — and as a result, they are still waiting. When the answer doesn’t fall into their laps they become cynical and they lose faith.
If this rings a bell, don’t worry. There are ways to find faith in your daily life.
Hope is one of those phenomenal insights of the emotional body that can appear in any shape and any context. Hope is cherishing the expectation of fulfillment in any part of your life. Hope is found in loved ones — your sister, brother, mother, father. Hope is the water that fills the well, the lighthouse that calls ships home. Hope is the food on your table and the gas in your car. Hope is as specific or as ambiguous as you need it to be. Where there is nothing, let there be Hope. Where there is something, let there be Hope. You can never have enough and there will never be a lack.
With the recent passing of the equinox and the shifting from one season to the next, Hope has taken up residence around each corner of Spring’s beautiful awakening.
Hope is a feeling, an internal movement. If seen in its proper context, hope is part of the light of joy and love that is constantly shining through and illuminating the beauty of life — the awesome dance in which we take part. There is no need to feed it or hang on to it as a distraction or a promise. Instead, strive to see it in context with all of the present moment’s thoughts and sensations. It is but a broken branch floating in the middle of the river of the Tao that we can hang on to only momentarily; however, it must not become the totality of our reality.
In the spring of 2007, after the birth of my second beautiful daughter, I relapsed from the eating disorder and severe depression I suffered with in college.
After six months of draining the lives of so many family and friends, I decided to receive intensive therapy once and for all. I was losing my husband, alienating friends and family members and spending days and weeks inside the house. I had two little girls to take care of and I could barely take care of myself.
Practice yoga with Chrissy Carter’s Chaturanga Vinyasa Flow video on GaiamTV.com.
It is impossible to know hope until one has experienced hopelessness — that feeling of suffocating permanence, as if you will be forever trapped in your present situation. In a place of hopelessness, all feels irrevocably lost. We harden and brace ourselves for permanent pain in the same way that we gather and store reserves in preparation for a long, hard winter. It’s as if the shutters have been closed and all the lights turned off. Lost in the darkness, we succumb to avidya (ignorance), the belief that our finite experience is all-pervasive and interminable. Helpless, hapless and hopeless, it is impossible to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel, and we start to lose sight of the big picture.
But in these times, hope can be a light in the darkness, filtering through the slats in the shutters, shifting the shadows in our dark room from ominous to promising. Suddenly and against all odds, we can find compassion for ourselves in the face of suffering.
by Jennifer Fugo
At the ripe ol’ age of 20, I wandered into my first yoga class at the Equinox gym on 19th and Broadway in New York City.
I was attending college nearby and two roommates convinced me to go with them. Although I can barely recall the teacher and the actual class, I do remember how my body felt the next day. I had sore muscles in places that I’d didn’t even know I had muscles! Aside from a more peaceful sense of being, I loved that I could finally connect with my physical body in a way I’d not known since being an avid swimmer in grade school.
Although some people may measure the ‘greatness’ of a yoga class by the amount of sweat pouring from their body or the number of times they can leap into a handstand, I have found the value of a class far exceeds these physical feats. The deeper ‘pearls’ of wisdom to be gained from yoga are available to all practitioners — not just the superhuman ones!
I find color fascinating. The light frequencies we experience as color define our world in wondrous ways. Visualize an azure ocean, a verdant forest or a crimson sunset — these are all examples of color environments, which positively influence our emotions and restore our health.
As an interior designer, I know the power color has in defining a space and ‘creating a mood.’ We have all experienced that instant chill when entering
a ‘cold room,’ which has nothing to do with its temperature. Conversely, we automatically feel more relaxed and engaged in a warm-hued environment.
Think of a dining room painted a luscious burnt umber (dark red orange), such as Pantone’s color of 2012: Tangerine Tango.
I’m also mesmerized by the blue winter hues that abound right now and their accompanying reflections in snow — so dreamlike and otherworldly. This is the time of year we ‘go inside,’ both physically and figuratively. It is a wonderful time to do what the earth does: retreat deep within and cultivate inner renewal (hence, the perfect time for resolutions).
Unfortunately, it is also during these short days when many of us experience the ‘winter blues.’ Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now recognized as a common
disorder, affecting some people severely. But there are ways, other than jetting off to a tropical island (which I also recommend), to make these cold days
Traveling comes with its own distinct set of trials and truths. If yoga is a practice of equanimity in the face of constant change, that evenness takes on new meaning when we’re far from home.
On October 2, 2011, I led a class of 3,000 yogis, all in white, on the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower’s Wall for Peace to honor Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.
Whether I’m lost, found, late, early, confused or completely uplifted, Paris offers me lessons on Light — on being light, on absorbing light, on offering light. I’ve been teaching there twice a year for seven years, and my dream of teaching a class about the Light of True Gratitude and Peace in front of the Eiffel Tower has finally come true.
With this photo essay, I honor my beloved city of Light, Paris.
I believe this is going to be a fabulous year that is filled with incredible opportunities. I, personally, am focusing on living at a high level of consciousness and choice.
There has been much discussion on how attitude affects experience. Today, I would like to ask us to consider how that focus affects our vibration and therefore informs us what we will attract into our lives.