I hope this email finds you healthy and active, and eating well, staying connected, staying calm and well rested. I know you have heard it before, these are all important things to do while we continue social distancing and monitoring the state of the world in whatever way you have chosen to.
In this newsletter I have included some articles that you might be interested in reading, so please scroll down for the links.
I have also included some notice for upcoming online workshops that I hope will support your emotional and physical health in the weeks to come. The workshop that is ready for registration has a live button that will take you to the registration. You will see a few different options the cost of the workshops, please pay what you are able to comfortably afford. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve the community by offering these practices that have sustained mankind for generations. Those of us who have received such teachings are obligated (with the blessings of our teachers) to make them available to those who want to learn them and who will practice them.
Because you will see varying price points in the workshops, (and for drop-in classes) I thought this would be a good time to introduce the concept of Guru Dakshina. This is the exchange made between the person giving a teaching and the person receiving the teaching. We readily understand the exchange when we buy something that has a price tag on it- we pay and then we have the object. We also understand the exchange when someone offers a simple greeting- if they say hello, we usually say something back. These exchanges maintain an appropriate energetic flow and a harmony between the people involved in the interaction, and it upholds the integrity of what has been given. I have never shoplifted anything, but I can imagine if I did, I probably could not enjoy the object that I had taken, as the exchange was inappropriate.
Similarly there is an exchange required when someone offers something like a teaching or a practice. The greatest return is to do the practice with regularity, dedication and devotion! Whether it is an asana sequence to help strengthen your knees, or a mantra that can help with healing and boosting the immune system. In modern societies we put a monetary cost to the exchange because that is how we best understand transactions, and that is how most societies are run. Sometimes people may not think they got what they paid for because they haven't invested in the practices, or teachings, by working with them, or they believe that since they paid for a teaching they can co-opt the information they received without doing the practice consistently. This way of thinking degrades the energy of what was given, so it does actually lose it's value. If we were asked to offer for the exchange what we considered as our most precious thing, it might actually be the same for all of us. It is what we value the most and never have enough of- time. Patience, practice and the recognition of value all require an appropriate amount of time invested.
People who offer free workshops and classes often find that attendance and or follow through is poor- many people may make a commitment and don't show up, or they don't make the investment of time that is required to understand what they have received. And just as often people may skip a class or workshop because its cost is beyond their means, or beyond what they consider to be the value of the offering. And that consideration of value is important, and is probably why many people stay away from free offerings- they may perceive there is no value to it if the producer has offered it at no charge.
It is because of the perception of value that I wanted to write about this today. I think it is vital that as many people as possible practice yoga, or something like yoga, right now. I am more than confident that this will make a difference as to how we emerge from this health and economic crises. Many yoga studios are offering classes for free or by donation. Many are asking for donations to help pay their bills. If you are out of work, and want to practice yoga, now is the time to do it, and fortunately several yoga studios and centers are making it possible to do just that. All you have to do is just find the place you are comfortable with give it the time and diligence the offering deserves. Don't be shy about taking a class that you are not paying for (or paying full price for), your exchange will be the attention that you give it.
Teachers who have been initiated into a lineage have an obligation to teach now. We are put a huge value on our own practice and what we are offering to the communities we serve. We continue to fulfill the Guru Dakshina to our teachers and our teachers teachers. The people who "practice what they preach" and are engaged in the full spectrum yoga practices recognize them as "life changers", and I wont even try to put words to how valuable that is.
Those who have the means to pay for classes right now can feel confident that whatever studio they are supporting with their attendance and membership is helping that studio get the teachings to the people who want/need them. I want to pass on a beautiful definition of a yogi from my main teacher, Parvathi- "A yogi is a person who gives more than they receive". How different the world would be if we all adhered to that even 25% of the time! What would our society look like If we could leave a room a better place than we found it? We would certainly upgrade our own energy level and consciousness, and that no doubt would spill over onto the people who will eventually walk into that room (even if it is not for a long time yet.) Now that things have slowed down for most of us, we can try this practice. If you take it on, let me know what happens for you! And please spread the word to your neighbors, friends and family about online classes, especially if they need the discount. It is time to get everyone practicing.
I am extremely gratified so many of you have shared that practicing yoga has helped you keep on track and centered as concerns about the spread of coronavirus mount. The Yoga Loka community is a strong and caring one. I'm not surprised to learn of the support we are getting from each other at this time.
That's why I share with mixed emotions my decision to temporarily close the studio to onsite classes and move to an online, live-stream model.
I truly believe that the enhanced safety and hygiene practices we put into place this past week have been effective, and everyone attending class has been extremely careful to comply with them. But too many factors cannot be controlled, and I am no longer certain we can guarantee the studio is safe for our community to practice together in groups. Across the country, other yoga studios, health centers and fitness clubs have reluctantly come to the same conclusion, following guidance provided by the state Commissioner of Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and other health professionals and agencies.
Fortunately, we have an alternative: live, online classes that recreate the communal feel of classes held at the studio.
We had a good number of people live-stream today's two morning classes. The takeaway from their experience (read some testimonials below) is that a teacher-led, guided practice at home can provide benefits similar to one taken at the studio. I know how important yoga can be to feeling safe and well-cared for at this time, and I want to make sure you get what you need. The very act of teaching yoga gives me so much and connects me so deeply to our community, so this is a bit self-serving. (I admit it, my great hope is that you feel as good after taking class as I do after teaching one.)
Some of you may be a bit hesitant about the technical process of joining live-stream, but never fear, I am here to help you overcome that!! You can rely on me to help clear up any confusion you may have about registering for classes, making payments, etc.
Detailed instructions on how to join a live-stream class are posted here. I'll soon post a short info video with the details as well.
More asana classes are in the planning stage as is a series of free treats, including TRE, Meditation and Yoga Nidra, all practices that will help you de-stress, and keep your immune system strong. Stay tuned!
I appreciate your patience while I add to the offerings and get it all up. And you will probably be getting more newsletters from the studio, which you can always delete if you are not interested in getting so many! I hope to send you some inspiring news too, so take what you want and do away with the rest.
If you want your class block frozen just let me know. Blocks with no expiration date will stay as is, there is no need to freeze. If you are on auto-pay and do not think you want to do live-stream, you can freeze your contract, but I will need to hear from you to make that happen - and I do hope you'll give the live-stream classes a chance. Based on what I've heard from students who tried it today, I am comfortable predicting you will find the experience more than satisfactory.
If you want to freeze a block, please use this link to email me directly (rather than replying to this email)..
If you are like me, the more you understand about the coronavirus, the less stressed you will be. I want to spend my energy educating myself and sending light to where it is needed, to those infected, to those working in health care, and to the communities affected most by the disease - economically and physically. And I want to focus my energy to keep my immune system strong.
To that end, I want to share this information video that I received in my inbox this morning. It describes how the coronavirus works, what it does to your body, and how your body can fight it. The video is about 8 minutes long, so it won't take too much time to watch.
Happily, there are many sources of information and encouragement when it comes to building and maintaining a strong immune system. If you are interested in following an Ayurveda, herbal or homeopathic protocol, I posted some sources below.
Given the growing concern about the spread of the coronavirus, you will not be surprised to learn that Kashi Ashram and I have decided to cancel the upcoming AYT retreat. We feel it is important to respect people's hesitation to travel at this time, so we will try to reschedule the retreat in the fall. Stay tuned for more information on that. In the meantime, I am offering a one-day Ayurvedic retreat on Saturday, March 28 (see information below) which will cover much of the material that I was going to teach at Kashi.
Based on best practices encouraged by the NJ Department of Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and other experts, we are instituting some changes at Yoga Loka as well.