A beautiful Hanuman devotional aid from Sangita Yoga

Here’s a little something just in time for Hanuman Jayanthi.

Naren Schreiner of Sangita Yoga — which performed the sacred music at the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence this year — has uploaded a track recorded at the Confluence. The song? (Is “song” the right word?) Jai Bolo Hanuman Ki, which he wrote just for the Confluence.

Here’s the link. The cost, by the way: Whatever you want to donate.

Here’s what Naren has to say about it:

I composed this kirtan especially for the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence as a tribute to the many Hanuman-bhaktas present there. The words are traditional verses that honor Sri Hanuman, the great devotee and servant of Ram, Lakshman, and Janaki (Sita).

In celebration of Hanuman Jayanti on April 25, 2013, Sangita Yoga is releasing this single on a donation basis.

My desire is to make this song available for everyone all over the world to download and sing along with joy and devotion to Hanuman, who is the embodiment of strength, wisdom, devotion and humility. If you wish to give a donation, it will directly support my sacred music and my mission at Sangita Yoga. Thank you and I hope this recording uplifts your mind and heart in praise of Sri Hanuman!

I remember when he led us through this song (and I’m pretty sure his sound engineer managed to drop the level on the mic that picked me up, so no fears in listening!), and it was one of those that — if you’re a Hanuman-bhakta — reminds you all the reasons why. (Alternately, you know what I mean if a devotional to your great guide plays — one to Ganesh, Siva, Krishna or Kali, for instance.) The feelings come. The goosebumps. The pulse quickening. The tears of happiness. The peace.

Naren, I believe, captures that all in this piece. Thanks to him for sharing it.

Posted by Steve

Get your Hanuman on

A few big celebrations of one of our two Ishta Devatas, Hanuman, are on the horizon.

The first is global, the second local.

A Tantric diagram of five-faced Hanuman. Via ExoticiIndiaart.com
A Tantric diagram of five-faced Hanuman. Via ExoticiIndiaart.com

On the global front, and with the support of both Krishna Das and Jai Uttal as well as Sounds True, Shri Anandi Ma has organized a worldwide chanting of 108 Hanuman Chalisas on April 20. Information, including how to register, is here. A bit of the detail:

Event Date: April 20, 2013
Time: 9am – 6pm Pacific
(USA West Coast, California
(webcast 8:30am til event end)

Broadcast live on the web from Antioch CA and other world locations via Skype.

Physical event with Shri Anandi Ma is in Antioch, California

The link above includes some wonderful quotes about Hanuman and the Chalisa.

The local event is down in San Diego, at Tim Miller’s Ashtanga Yoga Center. The Center and Sangita Yoga will be chanting the Chalisa 11 times from 7 to 9 p.m. on April 25. It’s free. The Center, for those who don’t have the address, is at 1905 Calle Barcelona in Carlsbad.

Posted by Steve


Here’s the Ramayana you ought to be reading

At one point a little less than half-way through our Indian yatra, our leader and guide Robert Moses passed a book back to me as we bumped our way along the Indian roads.

It was one part of the Ramayana. And actually a pretty good part: Hanuman’s leap to Lanka.

I read, I flip through some other pages, as our bus continued careening along. At one point, Robert made some comment about birds of a feather (or something similar): Right across the aisle from me, one of our Swamijis was absorbed in his own book.

Of course, he was reading Sanskrit. But the book I had included the Sanskrit as well as the translation.

It was the Clay Sanskrit Library version of the Ramayana. And while having the Sanskrit more or less corresponding to the translation — it’s pretty much page by page, so you can track the Sanskrit fairly well — is great, it was the translation itself that really caught my eye.

We’re fans of Ramesh Menon’s translations, no doubt. They tend to read that contemporary fantasy novels, which is the point. The Clay Sanskrit Library books try to capture the feel and style of the original, which means a lot of repetition — Rama’s the “tiger among men,” and you read that a lot — but also a certain flow and ebb to the story-telling that is, decidedly, not modern.

There are still two volumes (and three books total) yet to be published of this version of the Ramayana. But that shouldn’t stop you from taking a look at the ones that are out — or the other 50 or so books they have translated and published.

Posted by Steve


Blog highlight: Why one of Hanuman’s names is ‘Flying Monkey’

First of all, happy new year to all of you, if we haven’t had a chance to say that yet. And we hope the whole holiday season has been save, fulfilling and fun.

If you need a break from college football, or perhaps something to take the edge off your punishment for last night, this is a delightful video to wile away a few minutes on a Tuesday, a day devoted to Hanuman.

If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, scroll through but make sure you stop around the 4:30 mark, the 7:00 mark and the 19:00 mark (the latter two to get a sense of his flying). As of my posting, there’s only been one view.

Hanuman in the Ramayana performs several amazing feats involving his flying: his leap to Lanka to find Sita and his flight to and from the Himalayas to find the herbs to heal Lakshmana, Rama’s brother.

Jai Hanuman!

Posted by Steve

Hanuman for president and freezing temps follow Sandy

We can get the first thing out of the way: Barack Obama won reelection on Tuesday.

The election, rightly (for the most part), dominated discussions yesterday and in the days (and weeks) leading up to Nov. 6. I know there was some talk by some yogis about getting political, and I’m sure they did. Given there was plenty (and more) political talk happening, we avoided that here.

But Tim Miller didn’t in his post this week, and he has a good reminder for America as we move past our latest exercise in democracy:

The Yamas are based on the Law of Karma—our actions will always bear fruit according to their nature.  Whoever our President turns out to be, we are all in this together and it might be a good idea if we learned to get along and help each other out—you know, like we teach our kids to do.

Pretty simple, huh? Shall we watch and see whether our country follows that course? (Anyone holding their breath?)

Tim also looked back a few presidential elections and recounted his dismay in 2004, which led him to do the following:

I launched an alternative campaign by printing a t-shirt that said on the front:  2004–Year of the Monkey (Chinese zodiac); Hanuman for President, and on the back:  American Yoga Party; Go AYP!  I figured that the only candidate who could truly fulfill all of my expectations was a mythological candidate, and everyone knows I love Hanuman.

Yoga and Ashtanga doing good isn’t just mythological right now. We’ve been following Eddie Stern’s efforts to help out following Sandy, and his latest update includes one key piece of information: You can give to http://ashtangayogaoutreach.org/. And while I’m sure we’re too late to encourage anyone to join today’s efforts, here’s a recap of Tuesday’s work from Eddie:

The day ended at St Francis La Salle High School, which is currently a distribution center run by Alison Thompson, who has done relief work in Haiti, for the Tsunami and Katrina. She has requested the volunteers for tomorrow, the doctors and supplies. They have a solid center set up, in a very torn up part of Rockaway. There are a few photo posted on our website. Getting the shelter prepared for tomorrow will be a very, very good thing for us to help her get accomplished – the temperatures were at freezing when we left tonight, people have no power, heat, lights or anything, and it is about to get much worse. I know it is short notice, but tomorrow is an important day to help.

If you want to help, I’m sure you can reach out to AYNY or Ashtanga Yoga Outreach. The cold weather there will continue.

Posted by Steve


What Krishna Das and Tim Miller share in common

The Tuesday Led First class at Tim Miller’s is a special one. Tim practices along with the class, calling out the names of the poses and then the “five” for the breath count (or the appropriate number in head stand, etc.). There are eight backbends, one each for the names of Hanuman — Tuesday is his day, in relation to Ram — up to H.

As Bobbie said after, it is sort of like a regulated Mysore practice. You don’t have time to mess around, but there isn’t the formal nature of a Led with every breath counted. There also is something calming, perhaps even comforting, of having your teacher practicing along with you.

Hanuman Chalisa, via indif.com

My main lesson from it was about breathing. Specifically, that mine may not be exactly steady.

I was pleased (perhaps the first mistake) when during the Suryas, Tim’s count was only about 6.5 of my breaths. Not too bad. But then come Marichyasana C, let’s say, it was more like nine or 10. Some improvement is needed.

When this practice is over, there’s what Tim today called “dessert.” He leads one round of the Hanuman Chalisa, and today he had close to a full band — guitar, bass, tabala, cymbals — and a crowded room consisting of those who had just finished the practice and those who would be practicing during Mysore, which follows.

I’ve seen Tim lead the Chalisa more times than I can count now. But something different this time around is that earlier this month we attended an intimate kirtan with Krishna Das. It was also in a yoga studio, only slightly bigger. A same sense of immediacy to the “main guy.” (Post on it here.)

And what I suppose I noticed, mostly unconsciously, at the KD event, hit home today as I watched Tim, eyes shut, pumping his harmonium and singing the Chalisa.

Both he and KD, as they are singing, appear entirely focused inward and on the moment, on the Ishta Devata or the names of God. There’s a stillness, even in their motion. I doubt that were one to peer through a window into a room where either was playing alone that you’d notice much difference in them. In many ways, they seem unaware of the audience (well, the people gathered audience), although after Tim will comment so it isn’t as though he doesn’t hear or feel a sense of the room.

It doesn’t come across, I guess, as a performance. And it is that word, performance, that separates kirtan or chanting that draws me in versus ones that don’t. It’s my shy and inward nature, obviously. But I assume from watching Tim and KD, it’s a nature they at least share partially.

But Hanuman or the Guru or the name of God draws them out.

That lesson is pretty clear, huh?

Posted by Steve

A mountain of healing herbs and a wedding

Tim Miller has checked in from the Vortex that is Mt. Shasta, and I think it safe to say we’re missing things.

As Tim points out, Mercury is about to turn direct, meaning the past week and a half around the mountain has been the perfect time to get away from the work-a-day world. Let’s let Tim explain:

A yoga retreat is the perfect thing to do during Mercury’s retrograde—unplugging from our normal day-to-day routine to get a little better perspective on ourselves, and doing things specifically designed to feed the Soul. As a teacher, it is the ideal learning environment–everyone is particularly receptive because they are relaxed and having fun, and I get to see them at their best.

Tim also provides a description of Mt. Shasta that’s new to me, and one that I kind of can’t believe I didn’t put together earlier:

One of the great images of Hanuman shows him flying through the air carrying the Mountain of Healing Herbs back to the battlefield in Lanka, where Ravana’s son, Indrajit, has cast a spell of seeming death on Rama, Lakshmana, and their army of monkeys and bears. The Mountain of Healing Herbs brings the seemingly dead back to life and Hanuman saves the day. For me, Mt. Shasta is like the Mountain of Healing Herbs. It has great powers of rejuvenation and acts as a catalyst for some deep emotional cleansing and healing. I’ve seen it happen every year these past twenty years, both for myself and others, and every time I leave Mt. Shasta I feel that I have shed another layer of illusion and embraced a new level of consciousness.

That’s absolutely the case; we’re hoping a week (or two, in Bobbie’s case) down in Encinitas with Tim will somehow act similarly.

I want to finish with one important note. Our friend from Shasta, Suzy, is getting married on Sunday (with Tim as the Celebrant) to a fellow yogi and math teacher she met two years ago at Shasta. We wish the absolute best to Suzy and Chris as well as a wonderful Sunday morning. That should really make for an amazing Circle of Tears.

Posted by Steve