Ashtanga Yoga Moon Days 🌙

The "Ashtanga Yoga Moon Days" and why we rest is a question that often comes up during my weekly philosophy lectures. The foundation of the Ashtanga Yoga method is daily (6 days a week) asana practice. We also take rest from practice on the days of full and new moon. There are many interpretations on why it is that we take rest in such days. Any Hatha yoga practice, such as the Ashtanga method, works with seemingly opposing energies that eventually over a long period of sustained practice begin to balance each other out bringing stability and harmony in our own body-mind-consciousness systems. As we become more balanced and integrated in our own selves we begin to discover the interrelation, not only within our Selves, but also with all other systems in the planet and eventually the universe, thus coming to the realisation that there is no separation either between all the components of our own Self or between our our own individual self and any other aspect of the planet or the universe. The main pattern that we utilize to balance opposites in this method is the movement of Prana or life force in our bodies through the breath. As we inhale, Prana moves in what is called a Pranic pattern moving energy up and outwards in an expansive way stimulating, creativity and expression. With the exhale, Prana changes it’s direction moving down and inwards, this movement is experienced as more introspective and maybe contractive force. In the Ashtanga Yoga method, we use the breath to guide our movements and so we connect with these patterns as we move through all the Vinyasa that compose each asana. Eventually we find that in between each movement and in between each inhale and/or exhale as we come to the end of every vinyasa we encounter a tiny moment of silence. The inhale and exhale merge into each other, movement stops and even the mind becomes quiet for a fraction of a second. If we are observant of nature we might find similar movements and experience all through nature: In the change of seasons, the tidal movements of the ocean and even in our bodies in the waking and sleeping patterns and as we feel the gravitational pull of the earth interacting with the intelligence of our body to  lifting up and keeping us erect and preventing us from squashing in to…

Protect your heart

Always, but especially this year I've been torn between the options of living with an open giving and completely vulnerable heart and also preventing it from being hurt. In my opinion you couldn't  really do both at the same time. As much as avoiding pain seems the easier and less hurtful option sometimes, I strongly believe that you can't really choose what comes in or out of your heart so by avoiding this harmful energies we are also blocking love, joy and beauty coming in as well as diminishing our capacity to give. A heart that doesn't give or receive to its fullest potential, starts to weaken, just as any other muscle that we don't exercise  enough. This is not how I want to live my life. I have spent a lot of time working on myself to be more open, loving and happy and I don't want to go back to being less open and vulnerable in order to avoid  being hurt sometimes. It seemed like a lose lose situation. This year to me has been all about this question and finally I think I've come up with a satisfying answer. A good friend said it to me very simply: "Protect your heart" The way I see it now,  protecting your heart  is not about keeping it in an iron box or a crystal cage, or about creating filters to choose which energies it gives or receives. In order to live fully and wholeheartedly, your heart must remain wide open giving all and receiving just as much with each heartbeat. This means that we are going to get hurt and sometimes give what others might say is too much. I don't agree there is too much, but that's another question. Some people will receive and honour what your heart has to give while others will simply dismiss it and even ridicule it. Your wide open heart will receive love and beauty from others and the world around it but it will also receive the hardest blows, stabs and wounds. It will be torn and ripped and left to die. This is just life. The only way to really protect your heart then is not by trying to choose what comes in and out of it or try to prevent it from being hurt. The only way to protect your heart is by making it stronger and more resilient. How do we do this then?…

Ashtanga Yoga, A Pantheistic View

From a very early age I've been fascinated with life and what it means, the universe and its wonders. The desire to answer all these profound questions have shaped my journey through this planet. I was raised in a catholic family and very quickly I became disappointed with organised religions. This led me to become an atheist and for many years I dismissed any kind of spirituality and believed all answers would come from this "reality" and our ability to scientifically understand it. This approach made much more sense to me for many years. But, after a while, I couldn't deny some more profound and in a way subtle phenomena that I was aware of and that were happening around me all the time. For all I knew, science was right. However it was missing something... As I became more interested in these "mystical" aspects of reality, I started looking back at ancient traditions and the way they saw Nature and the universe. Particularly looking at human beings as an intrinsic part of nature and not just separate, dominant entities. Realising this interconnectedness between all forms of life and even the seemingly inert objects around us seemed to be that missing link. The Ashtanga Yoga practice quickly became a very important part of this search. Contrary to what many people believe, Yoga is not a religion, but is very much based on spirituality, which is definitely not the same. Unfortunately, this makes it much easier for people to attach their own spiritual and sometimes religious beliefs into it. Yoga is simply a method to help us find this missing link and make sense of reality, our existence and the subtler, maybe spiritual aspects of it while looking at all these aspects without filters or distortions. We have all heard how Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit. This seemed very fitting with what I had discovered and was just starting to tap into. As I dived deeper into this system, the connection between my own self realisation and the realisation of a more interconnected universe became more apparent. I was re-discovering my own body, mind and; maybe for the first time, my spirit. Slowly, slowly I realised that I wasn't just discovering my self but as I discovered my own body I was connecting with all the matter that shapes our reality, every single rock, river, animal, planet, star and galaxy. My mind became the…

The Spiritual Seeker: The Ultimate Rebel

Spirituality is the unending hunger for finding who we really and truly are. One day some of us realise that we’ve been believing a lie. A lie constructed by the thoughts of who we are, the ideas of who others think we are, the way we want to portray ourselves. The way society wants us to be, etc… We’ve been living in a cell and all of a sudden something appears,  a tiny crack in the wall that lets us see a tiny part of the real universe outside. And so, spirituality awakens. We realise there’s something else and we want the truth. All of it! Spirituality is first manifested as rebellion. We rebel against all false ideas, conditions and misconceptions of who we really are, against rules, society and everything that limits us and keeps us from awakening our awareness and expanding our consciousness. Then it becomes a quest, a constant search for truth and Self. We become spiritual seekers. Spirituality is an internal battle, and the biggest fight is always against ourselves. Rebelling against imposed ideas, others and society is easy. But questioning yourself your ideas of truth, love and happiness is a whole different beast and it really hurts. Standing against yourself, the people you love and care for is not easy. You have to choose between the truth or being complacent. And either way it’s going to hurt. Because once you’ve had a little taste of the truth, even the  littlest compromise  will burn you from inside. Your blood will become molten rock as your heart screams at you, calling you a liar, a hypocrite. But even this is not as painful as living in the lie, locked inside that prison of ignorance and unawareness. Now there is no other option; we have to break free. And thus, we become outcasts, misfits, hermits, the crazy ones. The others won’t like us. They will feel threatened as we stand against everything they are and they believe in, everything we were and we believed in. They will laugh at us, ridicule us, attack us and even criminalise us. We travel far trying to find others like us, we walk unchartered territories drawing our own path and creating new realities, new ways of living. Not because we don’t want part of humanity, but because we know there’s nothing human about the current disconnected paradigm. We want humanity not society, community not…

Yoga and Me

Last weekend I attended a weekend workshop with Kino MacGregor. Kino is an amazing world known Ashtanga teacher and I was very excited to learn from her. Although the weekend was mainly focused on Asana and technique, there was some time to discuss very briefly some of the more subtle and philosophical aspects of Yoga. At some point one of the attendees asked about the meaning of the word Yoga to which Kino responded something like this: "Yoga is a very broad concept and in India alone there are many different schools of yoga without counting the numerous ones recently created in the west. We could spend the day talking about yoga means union, or the Sutras say this or The Gita says that, but I would invite you to ask yourself what Yoga means to you..." Kino's reply was excellent. It left me wondering and gave inspiration for this post. In the most strict and brief manner, Yoga means union. However we must remember that translating Sanskrit is never that easy and, depending on the context, Yoga can translate as connect(ion), to add, contact, method, application or performance. Going back to Kino's question, what really made me think, and inspired this post. What does Yoga mean to me? Again, there is not a simple answer to this question. As a practitioner the first thing that yoga did for me was returning me that sense of possibility. Knowing that everything is achievable just by trying and then just discovering that the beauty is in the trying not the achieving. Yoga taught me that it is ok to be me however I am, as it is not where you are in your practice that matters but that you practice. Yoga taught me that life is great. Even in the most difficult moments life is great just as there are difficult asanas or moments in the practice. As I dived deeper into my practice, transformation started to manifest. First, in my body, but most importantly and surprising to me  in my relations. As I became more compassionate with my body and my Self, I became more compassionate, patient and understanding towards others. Yoga let me empty my Self with each exhale so that I could receive Love Happiness and blessings with the next inhale. At some point I started inhaling more Love and Happiness than I could contain. That's when I realised I had to teach.…