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Ayurvedic Thai Yoga Therapy

Bliss


autumn celebration

Please join us on Saturday October 22nd at the Burly House for a vegan harvest pot luck and bon voyage celebration. We will once again inaugurate the festivities with a brief silent meditation at 6:30pm followed by dinner at 7:30pm. No worries if you will only be joining us for dinner, but please plan to arrive no sooner than 7:30pm to allow for the close of the meditation. New meditators welcome, cushions and chairs provided. Please contact me to rsvp, for more information, or for directions.

As i embark on this next adventure, i encourage insight from those who have also journeyed the baja peninsula. Learning the language and how to surf are top on the list and i am also taking orders for mangoes and papayas.


bon voyage

I hope everyone is enjoying the seasons and coming changes, as i have great news to share of my own. I will be serving and living for 6 months at a yoga ashram in Cabo San Lucas working with international teachers training prospective yoga teachers. The courses are offered monthly and everyone is welcome to join me for a 28 day yoga immersion on this unique tropical desert ocean resort. Check out the website for more information ~ www.yandara.com.

I will be teaching public classes here in Austin through October 24th and private classes through November 4th. As a thank you for the support and encouragement from the Austin community, i am offering one hour private classes for $45. Lets get together and customize your practice before the coming winter season.

It is said that a teacher's greatest lessons won't come from a book, but from their students. From a grateful and humbled yogi ~ i thank you.


additional Dalai Lama info

Hear the Dalai Lama speak for free live in your own home. This tuesday september 20th, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will speak to the austin and UT campus community from the Erwin Center. KUT-FM will stream live audio of the public talk on www.kut.org. Tell your friends and don't miss this unique opportunity.


katrina survivors

Om and hello.

As we are emerging from the wake of catastrophic events in neighboring communities, i wanted to take a moment to share light and thank you all for your kind and generous support, compassion and good will to those who survived and are still surviving the tragedies of Katrina. The coming weeks and months will be critical to reestablishing and maintaining any semblance of stability and continuing forward progress in their lives and ours. It is for this reason that i and other central Texas teachers are offering additional meditation and yoga opportunities for our community and those newest members most recently relocated.

On Saturday October 1st, a yoga and meditation benefit for Katrina survivors will be hosted at the Austin Yoga School. I will be teaching from 9:15 until 10:15 that morning and additional classes will be offered for most of the day. See austinlovestheworld.com for more information. Please also help spread the word that the Tuesday/Thursday 7:30 am community yoga classes at Longview park are ongoing and by donation only. Many survivors have been temporarily relocated at the Tony Berger center which is on the bus route (338) to the park.

Additional great news to share ~ a hatha flow beginners level class is forming on Tuesday evenings at 6pm off of 2244/Rollingwood (just minutes from mopac). It is an hour and a half private group class meeting for 5 weeks beginning september 27th (through october 25th). Private group classes are an excellent opportunity for not only hands on individual attention, but also the benefits of a cumulative learning experience ~ each class builds on the concepts and skills learned from the previous class. The cost is contingent on the number of students registered. If you and/or a friend are interested, please contact me before Monday September 26th to reserve your space.

"if we never practice and apply the lessons that we have learned, we have to stop and ask ourselves what it is we are really doing." ~ unknown


dalai lama visits austin

Just a reminder, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be visiting Austin for the first time ever this September and you can hear him speak for free. Just over 3,000 tickets will be available to the general public at the Frank Erwin Center box office beginning on tuesday September 6th at 7am. The topic of his talk will be about our national interdependence and individual responsibility within a growing global community. He will be speaking on Tuesday September 20th at the Frank Erwin special events center at 4pm.


free day of yoga

Once again the time has come for the Free Day of Yoga in the Austin community on Labor day Monday September 5th. In this spirit, at 6pm the Burly House will be hosting a complete Sivananda yoga class including full pranayama practice, asana series, meditation, and mantras. Join us for a traditional and wholistic exploration of the mind, body, breath phenomenon as it was originally practiced and taught by Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh India.


Sept 2005 potluck

Our second lunar meditation and dinner celebration at the Burly House is coming up on Saturday September 3rd. Come share with us in divine silence, good company and great eats. A short meditation will begin at 6:30 with dinner to follow at 7:30.

"The moon has a permanent place in mythology and poetry. So many people are inspired and sometimes frightened by it. The moon's position and configuration varies dramatically from day to day, subtle yet great enough to effect the ocean tides."

One reminder, the dinner is vegan (no meat, eggs or dairy), but should you have questions or are in need of suggestions i would be glad to help. You are welcome even if you are only available for dinner, although plan on arriving no earlier than 7:30 to allow for the close of the meditation. Please RSVP. See you soon ;)

~ Another great reason to visit your farmer's market


support local farmers

Central Texas is certainly the oasis for fresh organic goodness in the heat of an austin summer. If you haven't checked out your local farmer's market yet, you are missing out on meeting great people and paying too much at the Central Mark-up grocery store. Our next pot luck is Saturday September 3rd and a great excuse for you to visit one of the fine open air market venues here in town.

My personal favorite is the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market, expanded from the former Westlake Farmers market, on Saturday mornings from 9-2 behind the Tony Burgess center on Jones rd. Begin your weekend early visiting Katz's coffee and my friend Avi for the best and most affordable organic fair trade coffee in town. Be sure to stop in and taste Erin's raw food goodness at Groovy Greens for a wide selection of organic sprouts and nut/seed spreads. Next door is Leon's family farm stand and he is hosting his son's organic agriculture project including crazy melon varieties from the caribbean and figs that taste and look like strawberries. Check for organic berries at the Gunderman's stand and be assured that its totally worth the wait at the Tecolote farm stand for a wide variety of everything (tecolote is spanish for owl ~ thanks Troy!). Get there early for the garlic. Clean air note, the 338 bus/ Lamar & 45th stops at the Westgate blvd and Jones rd crossing.

My other favorite is Boggy Creek Farm on the east side of Austin open Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 9-2. Bring the kids to visit the chickens and get lost exploring the beautiful gardens of delectable varieties grown in the middle of a capital city. Discover native fresh greens available long into the summer season and basement potatoes long before the spring. The sun-dried tomato tonic is a signature of Boggy Creek farm and deliciously versatile to use with most any vegetable dish to enhance its natural flavor. Closing note ~ after this Wednesday (8/24) boggy creek will be closing for the first time ever until October 1st for R&R ~ renovation and rest. Visit them while you can for great closing season specials.


yoga and meditation

I would like to thank all who came out to share in silence and good eats the other night. We had fun and enjoyed seeing new and old friends. We are looking forward to doing it again soon ~ perhaps the next new moon with instruments...

Anyone who has ever meditated (formally/informally), or would simply like to learn more, are encouraged to join us this Wednesday (and every Wednesday) evening for yoga and meditation. We will begin by exploring gentle yoga postures most beneficial to developing a comfortable seat, and then drawing further inward focusing on the breath, and ending with a group meditation. No one refused, donations kindly accepted.

A rotating vipassana sit throughout Austin (north/central/south/central) is in the process of being organized on Sunday evenings ~ more information forthcoming. ;)

(see also Articles/ Why meditate?)


new moon gathering

You are cordially invited to join us this Friday August 5th for a meditation and pot luck dinner at our home ~ the Burly House. A short meditation will begin at 6:30 with dinner to follow at 7:30. Students, teachers, and friends ~ come out and meet your peers as we share in good times and great eats while developing kula/sangha (spiritual community)

Our only request is that you offer a dish that is vegan ~ no meat, eggs, or dairy. Most anything can become kind vittles with a little creativity and compassion. Should you have questions or are in need of suggestions i would be glad to help or vegweb.com is another great resource.

We welcome you even if you are only available for dinner, but plan on arriving no earlier than 7:30 to allow for the close of the meditation. Juice, tea, and water will be provided, but please feel free to bring a beverage of your choice. RSVP at your earliest convenience and find directions to the Burly House on the web site class schedule.

~ Wishing Eva, Adrienne and Kate the best at their Sivananda teacher training.


secret revealed

Finding the best kept secret in town isn't going to be easy so i thought i would offer some clues. The Longview park and Stephenson nature preserve can be accessed easily by car, bus, or foot. If driving, follow Brodie lane south over William Cannon drive and take either Paisano trail or Harpers Ferry lane on the left to Longview road and there will be a parking lot with restrooms on the west side.

The 338 bus ~ Lamar/45th runs every half hour with stops along Westgate boulevard accessing Goldbridge drive and the Linnet/Sisken drive loop. From the Goldbridge stop, walk to the end of the street and you will find the entrance to the park with a paved path ~ follow the path to the courts on the left side. From Linnet/Sisken loop, follow Longview north until you reach the park on the right side and the courts will be at the top of the hill behind the pavilion.

I was told by a neighbor the other day that the preserve was donated to the city only recently in an effort to maintain this natural resource and limit developing. Even though the trails were muddy after the storms the other night, the courts were dry and welcoming to practice on. This week we collected 5 bags of trash from just around the pavilion and on one of the adjoining trails. There is much work remaining, but fortunately nothing new has been added.


depth in diversity

With the momentous popularity of Eastern traditions evolving in the West, i have enjoyed the opportunity to explore and experience the different perspectives and paths to Truth. The decision to spend my sabbatical in meditation was intimidating and a bit frightening because not only is my disposition far from still and silent, but this is a tradition of which i had never investigated before. Yoga and meditation often share common threads of practice and understanding, but even within lineages the impact of dogma, politics, and stigmatism still confuse new students and old teachers alike.

I am sure we have all shared in the plateau phenomenon when the outward blissful states of a pursuit become fewer and the inclination to look deeper into the self for true happiness becomes greater. Finding a teacher within a specific tradition that can give us insight along the way is a tremendous asset, but where is the fine line between leading a student and allowing for their own unfolding? Even at the subatomic level, particles are affected and conditioned by simple thoughts and emotional vibrations.

There is no doubt that devotion and surrender are necessary elements along the path ~ a seeker will reach water easiest and more quickly if only one well is dug. It has been disheartening to learn of respected teachers insisting that students quit their current healing or spiritual practice in order to explore a new modality. Perhaps such a level of dedication is necessary for a monastic renunciate. As a student of spirit i find it most important to my own personal evolution that i explore the many paths for insight and practicality as well as investigate their sources for efficacy and virtuous merit.

I am a firm supporter of tradition to maintain the essence of truth from which all paths are based, but not of following blindly through my limited perspective, ego identification, or emotional attachment to ideology, method or symbols. It is with this understanding and recognition of my own challenges that i chose to sit an additional 10 days in meditation to allow for more unconscious revelations rather than those consciously imposed from previous experiences. My decision to not ascribe to any one tradition or method, but rather keep myself open to new information and insight, has been met equally by criticism and support. There will always be perils when choosing to ride two horses at the same time, but so is riding one horse without a rein to lead or a leg to stand on.

~ Know your source


friends of the park

I just returned from a beautiful morning practice at one of the best kept secrets in south austin ~ Stephenson nature preserve and Longview park. So best kept, i discovered it literally in my backyard with friends only a few months ago. Not only are there tracks for running and biking, but also miles of trails meandering through brush country, open fields, forested woodland, and wildlife.

Today we chose to practice on the basketball court at the top of the hill where it is completely surrounded by dense woods and vegetation with a slight view which reaches beyond the ACC pinnacle. As the class ended at 9, the sun was just rising above the tree tops with a cool breeze, no mosquitos and only 3 other people in the park. You could easily forget that you are in the middle of a capital city suburb amidst this natural beauty and solitude.

It is exciting to see a new playscape under construction, but there is minimal ground maintenance and the trails are in need of love and attention. Left to the local residents to care for the space, its evident that a few squatters have taken advantage of the peaceful solitariness with a less than conscious approach to the Leave No Trace philosophy. Fortunately, as Friends of the Park we have many hands and trash bags for beautifying the space and making it more enjoyable for everyone.

I invite you to join us and meet your neighbors for a gentle yoga class beneath the morning sky on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30. bring a large blanket, towel or yoga mat to practice on (a few will be provided). Donations are kindly accepted, although trash bags, gloves, and some work on the trails is a greater need at this time. Whatever you can offer is greatly appreciated by all.

~ I can't imagine a more divine way to serve our community and start the day.


the burly house

For almost 4 years, the Burly House has hosted meetings, classes, potlucks, parties and now websites, but how or when our home assumed an identity of its own still remains a mystery. I can recall the name being used as humor, then soon in conversation and as if over night became a holiday card greeting, community venue, and a business reference. Though mortgage payments continue, i can honestly say there really isn't claim of ownership to any of it.

Small critters singing, swooping, and scurrying in the backyard remind us often that they were here first and have no intentions of leaving. The open door policy has often served as a home or refuge to family and friends travelling, visiting, in transition, or simply needing a few moments of peace. Those who have shared in the space have gifted or contributed to much of the furniture, fixings, and decor which reinforces a presence of kind communal energy. Even the ants have accepted the invite and though they don't make a mess and clean up very well, they seem to like our bathrooms best. Over the years, we have observed the growth and organic diversification of each of these communities in and around the Burly House.

We welcome the opportunity to share in this energy and experience, whether it is a yoga class, meditation session, community gathering, or pot luck dinner. It is with great pleasure that i invite you to the burly house ~ our home ~ in the true south side of Austin. Our only request is that old friends and new guests please RSVP so that we may best serve everyone and accommodate for space. classes and sessions will resume tuesday july 26th, soon followed by a vegan pot luck friday august 5th.


summer sabbatical

The early months of summer have found me absorbed in vipassana practice and 28 days of silent meditation. Naturally there were self doubts about my ability to not only remain still for any extended time, but silent as well ;) Imagine entering into a consensus community without any communication (verbal or written), gestures, or even eye contact. My first impressions from a clinical perspective were of a social psychology experiment gone wrong. In application, closing off as many sensory doors as possible allows for greater success towards inner stillness and quieting of this monkey mind. Doing nothing, thinking nothing, just sitting, breathing and witnessing. Sounds easy enough.

"inhale, exhale,
inhale, exhale, aaahhhh...
inhale, exhale, i smell perfume
inhale, exhale, smells like lavender
inhale, exhale, did i water my lavender
inhale, exhale, is it going to rain soon
inhale, exhale, when is the last time it rained"
~ patiently, persistently, and without disappointment return the focus to the breath.

I wouldn't nescessarily call the center or my experiences a "retreat" as there was a lot of work to be done from 4 am until 9:30 at night. Albeit, sitting still and observing the breath seems simple as illustrated on more than one occasion by students awakened during meditation from their snoring slumber. As the days slowly unravelled, so did my thoughts into a tapestry of colorful and disjointed emotions and sensations. Regardless of what presented itself, whether of the past, present or future, pleasant or unpleasant, the challenge in maintaining my equanimity continued.

"if only the meditator beside me
wouldn't breath so loudly,
then i could concentrate."
~ ah foolish one, the responsibilities we place on others for our own unhappiness.

Who is this person i have come to so proudly represent and defend as I, Me, Mine? Attaching ego to temporal matter that will inevitable change and decay left to once again redefine ourselves. The body is in a state of flow, comprised of millions of subatomic particles constantly expanding and contracting, dividing and disintegrating. The mind is also in a state of flux, projecting into the past and the future ~ moving from memories to planning. Our emotions are created through this connection of the mind/body phenomenon, further creating reactions to perceived sensations of craving or aversion. How does one objectively observe the self without responding to conditioned, ingrained and often unconscious habit patterns?

"if only the pain in my left knee
would go away, then i could sit
comfortably and be happy."
~ sure enough, the pain traversed from my knee into my shoulder; still unhappy.

Meditation is a tool which sharpens our faculties of perception through focused concentration and concerted effort. Thus providing an experiential basis for exploring the root source of our miseries so that we may better understand and find true peace from within. It is in our continued attachment to temporal reality that we find our suffering (dukkha). We can be liberated from this perceived bondage with the understanding that the entire universe is in a state of constant change (annica) and even the self is not who we were yesterday, a week ago, or will be 5 years from now (anatta). Contained within each breath is the possibility for recognition of that which is truth and the wisdom of that which is illusion ~ if only we take the time to witness.


Dalai Lama visit

Hello friends. I can't believe that it has been almost 2 years since i travelled to New York City to be one in the Central Park gathering with the Dalai Lama and to witness the ethics diaologue discussions with him in city hall. Now we have the unique opportunity to learn and share with one of the leading figures of global peace and compassionate understanding. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be making an inaugural appearance here in Austin on September 20, 2005.

Information about free ticket distribution for his public talk is available from University of Texas Austin.

See also two previous public talks by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York and Boston.


military mission

In the past week i have had the unique opportunity of assisting a friend of mine while she was on the road in louisiana. You see, one of my girlfriends, Wendy Colonna, is an amazing singer and songwriter ~ this is Austin ~ and though i have seen her once or twice and play her CDs all the time, i never witnessed the transformation that occurs while she is performing. This combination of music, voice, and sentiment has the ability to transcend words and communicate to those we may not otherwise be open or able to.

Of the 4 shows in 3 nights i accompanied her on, the small and quaint performance at the military base was personally illuminating. Registering and stating our purpose at the security gate was just the beginning of endless intentions for this peaceful crusade. To say that the soldiers were tired and worn is obvious, but to put faces, very young faces, to the names and numbers we hear of on the news, this was real. The event was to offer recognition and thanks for their courage and efforts with dinner and entertainment. From my vantage perspective in the back of the room i was able to witness throughout the course of her performance a softening and letting go of much of what they walked in with. Their sunken postures, solemn faces, and glazed stares gave way for lighter spirits, brightened eyes and thundering applause.

perhaps it was simply blood sugar stabilizing after weeks of military drills or truth in the spirit that underneath the uniforms we choose to wear, the same experiences of grief, joy, and adoration are shared. With each pluck of a chord and word from her lips these young men and women were transformed back into just that. Young men and women ~ balancing courage and fear everyday serving the cause of freedom they are willing to die for. Let there forever be a song of love in their hearts.


sabbatical

Om

For those who have been practicing long enough to know will tell you, when the weather heats up in austin, i retreat somewhere northernly. This year as i embark on my summer sojourn, i anticipate a greater leave. Interestingly, as i was researching the word sabbatical, the suggested synonyms included cast off, forsake, relinquish, renounce, surrender, and yield. Offer all of your efforts, hmmm, sounds familiar. So in the spirit of seva/ karma yoga/community service, i am looking forward to spending the summer in service and study. Where and for how long is still undecided. My last scheduled classes at the studio will be Thursday March 24th. See teaching schedule or join the mailing list for updates. As my path continues to unfold, i look forward to continuing in this journey together with new gifts of inspiration to share. This path that we are treading is laden with many bumps, turns, and obstacles ~ illuminated only by the guru that lies within. A teacher may open many beautiful doors, although it is the courage of the student to enter. It has been an honor and a pleasure serving you and i look forward to meeting again in the near future.

namaste'

ramapriya


sands of time

This past week i had the unique opportunity to witness and experience the ancient eastern tradition of mind mapping through the use of sand mandalas. Exiled tibetan monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastic College in South India shared with the St. Edwards University and Austin community their visions in color and form. Over the course of 3 days, this image in representation of the avatar Tara, the female buddha aspect of compassion, slowly began to reveal itself to the observer. For 8 hours each day these monks would hunch painstakingly around a table and scrape from long copper funnels different colored grains of sand into this incredible display of divinity and love. Passers by circumventing the image would gawk over the monks' shoulder with flash bulbs and bated breath (very daring to perform such delicate work during allergy season...."aychoo!").

My first impression was how intricate and detailed their work was with such an imperfect medium and conditions. While wearing masks over their mouths and noses in an effort to keep the different colors from bleeding, it is their intention to illustrate and describe the indescribable Spirit through these layers of sand. As if this act alone wasn't austerity enough, within an hour after completion, it is completely dismantled and dispersed in small plastic bags to the waiting crowd of onlookers ~ sharing not only in the event, but the offering to all sentient being of compassion and peace.

The lessons i walked away with are many and often too profound to completely realize from this ignorant perspective. In time, i look forward to the unfolding with greater awareness and understanding. The best i can summarize to you the reader is; live mindfully and whole hearted with the knowledge that all in existence is temporary and have no attachment to the outcome. We may be only a grain of sand in the greater picture, but our influence colors the stage based on our direct actions.

See also martin scorcee's film 'Kundun'