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On Ganesh Chaturthi, how to make his favorite sweet

August 31, 2014

I’ve always heard that gulab jamun is a favorite of Lord Ganesh.

Here’s a recipe for you. Or here’s an instructional video to help you celebrate — and maybe get some obstacles removed:

Yum.

And, yes, we’re taking it a little easy this weekend — although a few looks around suggest the yoga/Ashtanga world is fairly quiet. Tim Miller’s website got updated, if you haven’t looked.

If we find any video or photos from the celebration at Broome St. Temple, we’ll post ‘em.

Posted by Steve

Happy Ganesha Chaturthi

August 30, 2014

Jai Ganesha!

Om Gam Ganapataye Namah.

This is the most popular Ganesh Chaturthi video from today. Parts of it seem sweet, which Ganesha would like.

The night program video also has a fair number of views:

Posted by Steve

 

Friday asana aid: Mayurasana

August 29, 2014

For those keeping track, we did highlight this pose, nearly two years ago. But here are some new and different approaches:

A good one, if views are a measure:

Here’s a different variation:

One with a dog:

And I kind of like this one for its description of the pose, per the HYP:

Posted by Steve

Chuck Miller: What’s more profound than practicing Ashtanga — studying it

August 28, 2014

This post seems new, although I think the workshop with Chuck Miller it refers to happened earlier in the summer.

Still, it includes some quotes from one of the early Western students for you to absorb. Link is right here, and just two of the quotes:

“A lot of us practice Ashtanga but there is something more profound, which is actually to study Ashtanga. Ashtanga is a truly profound method and there is a lot of teachings contained into Ashtanga. I think our practice should help us unfold that.”

And:

“It may sound self-indulgent, but when you practice Yoga you are not only doing something for yourself,  but you are also doing something for everyone else—for your family, for your community, for the planet. The power of personal practice is huge—probably the most powerful thing anyone of us can do.”

I’m tempted to contrast the second one with one from Guruji, which I’ve heard as: “You take care of your anus, the universe will take care of itself.” Rather than that being an abdication of responsibility, I think of it more as minding what we really can control. And, again rather than a contrast — I think at the most surface level that seems to be there — the combo may be a reminder that if we do mind what we can control, including tilling our fertile soil via a consistent sadhana, then the universe would be able to take care of itself.

I guess that’s pretty powerful.

Posted by Steve

Wednesday reads: Congressman Moonbeam and Ganesha Chaturthi

August 27, 2014

Kind of a busy day here, so just a matter of a couple of quick links for you.

First up, if you aren’t paying attention, this weekend is Ganesha Chaturthi. Are you in or around New York? Well, you’re very much in luck. The Broome St. Temple is running a weekend-long celebration, ending with a cart festival on Monday. We’ve helped sponsor on of the pujas. Details are available here.

And that’s not the only celebration happening in New York. The New York Times has a nice piece on the Ganesha temple in Flushing, Queens:

At the Hindu Temple Society of North America, in Flushing, Queens, this week is time to worship Ganesh, the elephant-headed, many-armed deity who is believed to remove obstacles. Here, as at temples in over a dozen countries, Hindus are celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi, which marks the god’s birth (and rebirth).

“The coconut shell is like the human ego,” said Mohan Ramaswamy, who teaches at the temple on Bowne Street. “You have to crack it open before you can let in the lord.”

In Queens, which has perhaps the largest Hindu population in New York, more than 10,000 people will pay homage during the jubilee, which started on Friday and ends on Sunday. More than 400 gallons of milk, 100 boxes of apples, 50 crates of bananas and five kilograms of sandalwood paste will be used. And each day, dozens of liters of ghee, clarified butter, will be ladled into the fire pit for the homam, or fire ritual, which is believed to carry offerings to the lord. Visitors will consume some 50,000 prepared meals, according to the organizers.

At the Ganesh Temple, ancient traditions are carried out with a relentless, New York-style efficiency. On Saturday, volunteers and staff members wearing laminated “May I help you” name tags and white T-shirts bearing the temple’s logo used iPads to check the schedule, which was detailed on the temple’s website. In the courtyard, rows of devotees repeated hypnotic hymns asking the lord for his protection as they faced a large fire pit. A bare-chested man with a clipboard and a counter was on hand to ensure that the requisite 400,000 mantras were offered.

Last piece is at The Atlantic; it’s about Rep. Tim Ryan, the Mindful Congressman (we’ve run a few mentions of him). Link and tease:

Ryan, who is now 41 and in his sixth term representing northeastern Ohio, is that guy you know who’s just started meditating and can’t stop talking about it, only with the ability to propose legislation. “I came out of it”—the 2008 retreat—“with a whole new way of relating with what was going on in the world,” Ryan tells me. “And like any good thing that a congressman finds—a new technology, a new policy idea—immediately I said, ‘How do we get this out?’ ”

Ever since, he has busily worked to make himself meditation’s man in Washington. He has appeared with Deepak Chopra and Goldie Hawn. He has sponsored a bill to increase the holistic-medicine offerings of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has secured a $1 million earmark for relaxation training for elementary-schoolers in his district. He has written a book, A Mindful Nation, that—according to its foreword, by Bill Clinton—purports to “explain how the simple act of self-reflection can help us build a better America.”

The piece does note the inevitable: He’s earned the nickname “Congressman Moonbeam” from his opponents.

Posted by Steve

You absolutely have to read this: Woman becomes possessed after doing yoga

August 26, 2014

This is quite simply the best thing I’ve read in forever.

And up front, a hat tip to Leslie Kaminoff. I saw the link on his Facebook page.

Here’s the link to part I — because this story about Priscilla de George (very notably not her real name) is so good it has to have a part II — and an excerpt:

It was 2009 when the 54 year-old health care worker and mother of two was coming to the end of a 20 year marriage. Under a lot of stress from the divorce, even the body of this avid runner was stiffening up from the constant anxiety she was facing. When someone suggested she try a yoga class, she was all for it.

“I had heard tidbits here and there about yoga and Hindu gods, but I thought because I was a devout Catholic who was practicing my faith, all I had to do was pray to Jesus and Mary during class and I’d be safe.”

Just in case, she checked with a local priest who said all those warnings about the devil and yoga were “baloney”. As long as she was in good standing with the Church, it was okay to practice yoga, he said.

That’s just the set up. Part II is where it really gets good. Oh, and by good, I do mean un-freakin’-believable:

Suddenly, a sound emerged from Priscilla’s mouth, like the hiss of a snake.

And then a voice began to speak, a voice that had all the tonal qualities of Priscilla’s voice and the same accent, but in words that Parker knew were not coming from her.

“You can’t have her, she’s mine!” the voice shouted. “I took her. You gave her two deformed children,” it said in reference to Priscilla’s children, both of whom have special needs.

“I got in through yoga,” the demon announced, then continued his diatribe. “You cannot take her from me. She’s mine. You’ll never get rid of me and even if you do, I’ll get back in.”

Yes, you read that correctly. The demon got in “through yoga.”

Scared yet? Me neither. A few reasons why not:

  • There’s a total lack of real details, and what details there are absolutely don’t add up. For instance, we’re told that the woman had a job she loved for 28 years, but then inexplicably (among many troubling actions she took after taking a yoga class) she returned to work for a previous employer. From nearly three decades earlier? That doesn’t add up to me.
  • There’s the anonymity of it all. Combined with some extremely generic descriptions, this reads a lot like a piece of fan (or I suppose anti-fan) fiction. We get multiple people’s “perspectives” out of nowhere.
  • It’s stupid.

Still, all that aside, it’s a fun little read, with a small bit of import: It goes to show just how scared some people are of something they don’t know or understand.

Really, though, it’s just so much fun. A real hoot. (I’m also now obsessed by wondering what the names are of the demons inside me.)

Other notable pieces at the site, for those unwilling to give it the traffic: A post about how Fifty Shades of Grey is bad for women’s health; a piece suggesting transgender people just have mental disorders; that the ALS Association is using your ice bucket challenge money to fund illicit research; and a post perpetuating the hysteria over the totally fictional “knockout game.”

I also should note it covered BKS Iyengar’s passing, but mainly as a way to emphasize that yoga is not “just exercise” but is a spiritual practice.

Posted by Steve

 

Yoga: Just the right ‘edge’ for Wall St.

August 26, 2014

I know I quickly dismissed the idea that BKS Iyengar’s passing had the yoga world debating whether we all are misusing yoga.

Maybe this piece at CNBC should, though. Here’s the lead (lede for you journalist types):

In the fiercely competitive environment of Wall Street, almost everyone is looking for an edge—from traders who spend years memorizing the trading patterns of a handful of stocks, to research analysts who dig through their Rolodexes (literal and virtual) to delve into the details of a company’s supply chain.

I bet you can see where this is going. Yes: “Bankers, traders and fund managers are practicing yoga in order to build their mental faculties and improve their ability to focus, claiming that it can serve them well at work.”

Now, before we judge (too late?), the piece doesn’t just suggest that heightening mental focus helps Wall St. workers make more money (and, if you like, beat down Main St.). It is more familiar: Yoga helps those in a stressful, crazy work environment calm and settle themselves.

It’s just that the spin, as above, makes it awfully easy to come to the conclusion: Yoga is being used for no good.

Which, of course, it is. And has been, going back as far as you can trace yoga’s history. Because: People. (My own spitball guess is the 23rd person — and likely all men at this point — to “do yoga” was the one who figured out he might be able to use what he was getting from it for his own gain.)

Your reaction to this piece — and the general themes behind it — likely will vary given your perspective on whether any bit of yoga is better than none at all for people.

Honestly, I go back and forth on that question.

Posted by Steve