108 Sun Salutations Spring 2020: New Way of Continuing our Together

108 Sun Salutations Spring 2020: New Way of Continuing our Together

The 108 sun salutation practice is the epitome of togetherness, the glorious mental and emotional reset and in many ways the triumph of love over fear. A room full of open hearted yogis who courageously leave their ego armor at the door and move, sweat, breathe and sing their way to freedom and do so together. 

Less than a week ago, when this ever-unstable world got even more unstable, all classes, including the 108 practice, had to be canceled. I was going to do my own thing at home, but the together part is what makes this practice the magical experience that it is. 

And just like when there’s a will, there’s a way, when there are open hearts yearning for healing through togetherness, nothing can stand in the way. We got together today, maybe not physically, but full heartedly all the same. And we moved, and sweated, and breathed and cried and sang and healed – together.

Thank you, my yogis, for joining me in this new way of continuing our together. We would have all preferred to share our practice in the same room to joining virtually but we joined, and that’s what matters and what heals. 

This too shall pass.

Real hugs will return.

I love you ❤️

Many of you asked me to share the nine dedications that precede each round of 12 sun salutations, as well as the playlist. The dedications, and the songs I chose, start off very “human,” pained and dramatic even, although carrying an invitation to change our minds about the purpose of our pained and often dramatic and traumatic human life. 

To make a choice for peace, we first have to look at the inner conflict. To rise, we first have to acknowledge that we have fallen. And to say no to the ego, or the fearful self, we first have to open our eyes and hearts to the presence of that fear inside of us. 

As we continue this moving meditation (and it is definitely moving in more ways than just the physical), we gradually loosen our attachment to the little self, the part of us that feels insecure, trapped, fearful and alone. Because we have turned toward the fears of the seemingly separate “me,” we have diffused the power of that false self to reign over us. We slowly detach from the mask – the person – and move toward presence, the spirit and unbound love that we are in reality. Having remembered our true Self, we rejoice in the connectedness to the home we never left, even if that joy seems very temporary. 

Truth is always true, just like illusion is never true, so even the tiniest moment of Self-remembrance is enough inspiration to move us forward on our way back home. As we continue to navigate the uncertain waters of this human experience, we find that we meet life’s lessons with a little more grace, trust and openheartedness. 

This is the purpose of our practice of 108 sun salutations: looking at and moving through the changeful as we remain grounded in the changeless, ultimately remembering that we ARE the changeless and that the changeful has had no effect whatsoever on our reality as spirit.

Here are the dedications, followed by the songs I played for the respective round of sun salutations:

1 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to my human, imperfect self. Deep in my gut, I know that achieving perfection as a human being is not only impossible, but an unnecessary burden that keeps me stuck in fear and self loathing. Deep in my heart, I know that as a soul, I am progressing on my path just as I planned and that every experience I had and am yet to have is a perfectly chosen piece of my soul’s mosaic. I am a perfect expression of my divine nature in this imperfect human form. And so it is.

Superman by Rachel Platten

Heroes Fall (feat. Essa) by Hidden Citizens

2 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to all my fears, and all the aspects of myself I consider dark and negative. Remembering my own choice to experience the full spectrum of human emotion — the so called positive as well as the so called negative — I’m now making a promise to myself to own all the aspects of my personality that I have disowned out of fear of being seen as unworthy of love. In the name of love, which is what I am, I allow every fear, every feeling and every thought that arises to be fully integrated in my experience, so I can live with integrity, knowing that darkness is simply unawakened light and fear is nothing but a confused expression of love. And so it is.

Land of Confusion (Epic Trailer Version) by Hidden Citizens

Nothing Is As It Seems (feat. Ruelle) by Hidden Citizens

3 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to every obstacle yet to appear on my path. As I look back on my life, I can see that every seeming hurdle eventually provided impetus for my own growth and was therefore a gift. Bravely embracing my fear of the unknown — not pushing it away — I fully trust that whatever hardship and pain are yet to appear on my path are simply part of my path, remembering that ultimately, all of life is the path. And so it is.

Here We Stand by Hidden Citizens & Svrcina

Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons

Believer by Imagine Dragons

4 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to all those who have ever shown me love. Every expression of love, no matter how small or infrequent it may seem to occur, completely imbues my being with the totality of All That Is, which is love. I give thanks to each and every being whose love fills my heart with the ancient song that reminds us all that love is all there ever was, is and will be. May we all be overwhelmed with love. And so it is.

Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas

Carry You (feat. Fleurie) by Ruelle

5 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to all those who have hurt me, including myself. I know that every act that doesn’t come from love is simply a disguised call for love. Lack of love is evidence of the hurt we all carry in us, the hurt that stems from our ignorance of our true nature and the forgetfulness of our joint source, which is love. I ask love to show me the way every time I’m tempted to believe that I can be hurt. And as I give love and forgiveness to others, no matter what they have given to me, I know that I’m graced with love and forgiveness. And so it is.

Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons

Man In the Mirror (Acoustic) by James Morrison

6 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to the uncertainty every day brings. I give up whatever illusion of control I think I have over life, and instead choose to courageously surrender to the gifts of grace that abound in each moment. Knowing that who I am in reality can never be hurt or damaged, and that I can’t possibly ever fail or fall short, I allow life to come to me as is does. Expecting nothing and welcoming everything, I now promise to stop fighting with life and instead fully cooperate with what is. And so it is.

We Get By (feat. Ben Harper) by Mavis Staples

Carry On by Crosby, Still, Nash & Young

7 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to the eventual death of this temporary human form I inhabit. I open my mind to the possibility that any fears I may have regarding death are fears of my ideas of death and not death itself. As I listen to the whisper of my soul, which constantly reminds me that I have been on many such journeys countless times before, I remember that reality is infinitely larger than my human side can ever perceive. As a brave soul who chose to temporarily forget its immortality, I celebrate life and embrace my fear of death until that fear itself dissolves into my timeless recognition that life does not start or end, but simply changes form. And so it is.

I’ll Fly Away by Rising Appalachia

Down to the River to Pray (feat. Sonia Isaacs) by Wanda Vick

Sun is Shining by Bob Marley & the Wailers

8 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to all teachers that have appeared on my path and those yet to appear on my path, knowing that everyone and everything that teaches me about myself and helps my growth is my teacher. My heart is full of gratitude for those who have taught me through love as well as for those who have taught me by withholding love. How blessed I am to have been graced with teachers in human form and beyond, those born and unborn, and even those only my subconscious can perceive. I now can see clearly that this earth life, which seems full of suffering, is a school and that teachers and teachings abound in every moment, and I choose to learn as much as I possibly can, ultimately remembering that the only lesson to be learned is that love is all there is. And so it is.

Bring Me to Life (Synthesis) by Evanescence

Light of a Clear Blue Morning by Maggie Thorn

9 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to the ultimate source, the divine creator, infinite spirit, God, All That Is. How can I possibly live in suffering if I choose to connect to that which I’m never disconnected from? How much longer do I want to live in ignorance of my true nature, seeing myself as a separate little body when all the glory of God has been inside me all along? Once I was blind, and I forgive myself for that, but now I have opened my eyes and I see that I am That which I seek. My search for God has always been my yearning to know myself, and now that I realize what I am, I can’t help but lift my head and laugh at the sky. And so it is.

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Savasana

Aad Guray by Deva Premal

May I Have this Dance?

May I Have this Dance?

Why do we so fervently fear the experience of a broken heart?

The way I see it, we must fear it because of the fear. In and of itself, what’s so horrifying about the process of grief? 

Can the heart, and by heart I mean the symbol of spirit or true self, actually be broken? How can the unlimited and unbound be anything less than perfectly and eternally free? Free of pain, free of breakage of any kind, free of grief.

“Whatever suffers is not part of me,” A Course in Miracles reminds me. 

So I, the human, let the waves of grief come and go, without analyzing, fighting or resisting. I keep dancing despite the limp. I filter the grief through love, rather than through fear, by asking love to show me the real meaning and purpose of grief.

And as I keep dancing with the limp, love shows me that nothing real can ever be broken, lost or separated from itself. It only appears that way, only in the dream, or nightmare, of individual existence that we, hypnotized by fear, value so much.

Fear takes me to hell, while love grounds me in truth. 

So whether I laugh or cry, whether I gracefully glide or stumble with a limp, I ask and keep asking love to have this dance. And the next. And the next. And love always, always, always gently whispers…yes.

Becoming

Becoming

We the imperfect
the insecure
the human
step on our mats
and through the fire of the practice
while carried by grace 
we join together 
knowing there is no other way
and we surrender all illusion
even if just for a moment

Becoming

We the inspired
We the devoted
We the light

We remember
then forget
but only to remember again
over and over again
until the practice becomes 
the way we live and breathe 
in each moment

Give Forward in Gratitude

Give Forward in Gratitude

This year especially, I’ve been grateful to have the choice to forgive. This was the intention I invited my yogis to set during our Thanksgiving practice today, and to keep that intention as we ride out the rest of this intense 2017 and slide into the next year.

Being grateful to have the choice to forgive doesn’t mean I’ll make that choice every time. And it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s an easy process. For a master, forgiveness is unnecessary because a master doesn’t see fault to begin with. A master’s heart is saturated with love so much that nothing can disturb it. A master sees beyond the duality of good and evil, birth and death, right and wrong. I’m far, far away from being a master but I trust that the day will come when I too will not need to forgive anyone because love and nothing else will flow through me. But in the meantime, as I often struggle to choose from spirit rather than from the ego, I’m grateful  that I have the choice to forgive, however imperfect that process may be.

To forgive, to for-give, means to give forward; to give love, compassion and understanding no matter what we perceive was done to us because we trust that doing so will benefit all. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we condone hurtful actions. It simply means we choose to understand that those hurtful actions are projections of the unhealed minds of people who are hurting, whether they know it or not. To forgive in no way requires we keep a relationship with the ones we’ve forgiven. It’s a process that happens by us, for us, inside our own hearts and it really has nothing to do with others.

Until we’re ready to wear the long white robe of a master (not literally, of course), we can surrender to the call of the heart to forgive and trust that the heart will never leads us astray, like the mind has done countless times. It takes the same amount of energy to resist, contract and sell out to fear as it takes to let ourselves surrender, expand and give over to grace.

This is the prayer I shared with my yogis today:

Let the fire of my heart consume any judgments, resentment and fear until all that’s left is understanding, compassion and forgiveness. 

I ask for forgiveness from all those I’ve hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or action. I forgive all those who have hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly, and release them. I also forgive myself for having held on to judgment and resentment.

May the energy of my heart be naturally, effortlessly and courageously expressed through me; through my thoughts, my words and my actions.

May my own practice of understanding, compassion and forgiveness benefit others.

I know that this is the way of love, the way to freedom and the way back home.

 

 

 

To Receive, Give

To Receive, Give

Recently, after teaching a class, I witnessed one of my yogis, a gorgeous woman in her late 20s, come up to one of my long-time students, a graceful and elegant woman in her 60s.

“You’re so beautiful, it’s ridiculous!” said the younger one in a matter of fact but very much from the heart tone. “I just wanted you to know.” The older beauty looked at her sort of stunned at first but quickly her eyes just sparkled with joy and gratitude. They hugged and then I introduced them to each other, as I giggled with happiness, feeling almost euphoric to have been part of this honest and innocent expression of love. This is the main reason I freakin love my non-job!

There is a lot of hugging and warmth and love going on at Rishi Yoga. I wanted to have my own yoga studio not to make money, or to be the princess of yoga in this town, but to create a space where humans can come back to their natural, innate and divine desire to express love and feel loved. This may sound cheesy and naive, especially in this love-deprived, competition-based and fear-ruled (in other words, ass-backwards) world, but I have learned long ago not to go by the ways of the world. I much prefer the ways of the heart, as cheesy and naive as they may seem.

When do we usually give compliments? To those we know well and like? To those we want something from? To the people who are popular and trendy? To those who are not a threat to us because they’re not better looking or smarter or more successful than we are? And how often are the compliments we decide to give honest expressions of how we feel?

We’re conditioned to always calculate what we say and do and carefully gauge the effects of our words and actions against the consequences of those words and actions as they relate to our possible benefit. Or, simply said, we’re taught — whether overtly or in subtle ways — to filter ourselves depending on who we are talking to and what we may need from that person.

I’ve never been very good at playing that game. I’ve been told I wear my heart on my sleeve and I say what’s on my mind as if those things are somehow defects. I remind myself that the world is ass-backwards instead of trying to contort myself to fit the unnatural mold of “how adults should be.”

In my world, a compliment is an honest giving of my heart to another being. It’s a spontaneous and effortless giving for no other reason than the joy of giving itself. A true compliment can never be a giving-to-receive because that sort of giving is not giving at all.

So I will keep telling men that they’re handsome and women that they’re beautiful for the simple reason that this is what I see in them and I want them to see that beauty in themselves. It’s really not that hard to be kind. We all want and need the same thing and that is to feel loved and appreciated and seen for who we are at the deepest level, beyond the mask of the person we think we are and the meat suit we seemingly wear.

The world tells us that this is the season of giving. To me, every day is the season of giving as I have the choice to give freely from my heart, knowing that the miracle of true giving is that I receive exactly what I give.

108 Sun Salutations Hangover and Afterglow

108 Sun Salutations Hangover and Afterglow

People always ask me how it’s even possible to complete 108 sun salutations in a row?! More than five years of doing this practice four times a year, I can tell you that the intense part is not so much the physical aspect of moving through all these sun salutations. Integrating the intention of this practice into our daily life — or walking the talk — is the real butt kicker.

I have rewritten the nine dedications I have been using with my yogis in the 108 practice several times since I originally wrote them in the winter of 2011. (Each dedication precedes a round of 12 sun salutations, and nine dedications and rounds of sun salutations completes a cycle of 108.) This year has started off with a sense of foreboding that major changes are taking place. Change is never easy for us change-resistant humans, so I felt rewriting the first two dedications into a less soft and fluffy and more in-your-face statements was going to serve us better. A splash of lukewarm water in the morning may feel good on our faces, but ain’t nothing like cold water to properly wake us up! 2017 also carries an energy of auspiciousness, mystery and surrender to the emptiness of not knowing, and trusting that the heart will never lead us astray, like the mind has been doing for who knows how long. See how 108 chaturangas isn’t even a big deal compared to digesting all this?!

For my fellow yogis who practiced with me yesterday, I hope these dedications help you in your integration of this powerfully transformative practice. And if you were not with us yesterday, please consider joining us again in the fall, and every season after that. I don’t see a reason to stop doing this practice (as long as my body cooperates) because life shows me every day that there are new lessons to be learned, that there are more ways to forgive myself and others and most importantly, that there is never a moment where any of us are not loved and supported. When we feel unloved and unsupported, we’re always reminded of the opportunity to “open mind for a different view,” a very useful mantra courtesy of Metallica. Nothing else truly matters as long as we forever trust in who we are.

Below are the dedications for each of the nine rounds of sun salutations, followed by the playlist we practiced to yesterday.

Thank you and love you all!

Jelena

1

I open my heart and offer my light to waking up to my true nature, and making this process of awakening my priority. Until now, I have been living with spiritual amnesia, seeing myself as just a separate human being, and looking out at this imperfect world as my only home, which made it easy to judge, blame and alienate others who appear different than I am. But from now on, I resolve to wake up from this collective hallucination and I trust that my own awakening will serve as the catalyst for the awakening of others. I have lived too many lifetimes believing to be just a human, a mere mortal, a shameful sinner. It’s time to wake up, reclaim my own divinity and start seeing it in everyone else, whether they see it in themselves or not. This is my only mission. And so it is.

2

I open my heart and offer my light to the process of unbinding myself from so many external authority figures and institutions to which I gave away my power through blind, fear-based trust, and replacing them with the only authority I can rely on and will ever need: the wisdom of my own immortal being. As I look out into the world and see a land of confusion, insanity and division, instead of picking sides and blaming “the other” for what I see, I choose instead to consult my own heart, which will always advise me to dig deeper and deeper and deeper yet, until the only response I get, regardless of the question, is to give love, show love and be love. If darkness is simply unawakened light and fear is nothing but a confused expression of love, the only guide I need is my own inner being, which is light and love. And so it is.

3

I open my heart and offer my light to every obstacle yet to appear on my path. As I look back on my life, I can see that every seeming hurdle eventually provided impetus for my own growth and was therefore a gift. Bravely embracing my fear of the unknown — not pushing it away — I fully trust that whatever hardship and pain are yet to appear on my path are simply part of my path, remembering that ultimately, all of life is the path. And so it is.

4

I open my heart and offer my light to all those who have ever shown me love. Every expression of love, no matter how small or infrequent it may seem to occur, completely imbues my being with the totality of All That Is, which is love. I give thanks to each and every being whose love fills my heart with the ancient song that reminds us all that love is all there ever was, is and will be. May we all be overwhelmed with love. And so it is.

5

I open my heart and offer my light to all those who have hurt me, including myself. I know that every act that doesn’t come from love is simply a disguised call for love. Lack of love is evidence of the hurt we all carry in us, the hurt that stems from our ignorance of our true nature and the forgetfulness of our joint source, which is love. I ask love to show me the way every time I’m tempted to believe that I can be hurt. And as I give love and forgiveness to others, no matter what they have given to me, I know that I’m graced with love and forgiveness. And so it is.

6

I open my heart and offer my light to the uncertainty every day brings. I give up whatever illusion of control I think I have over life, and instead choose to courageously surrender to the gifts of grace that abound in each moment. Knowing that who I am in reality can never be hurt or damaged, and that I can’t possibly ever fail or fall short, I allow life to come to me as is does. Expecting nothing and welcoming everything, I now promise to stop fighting with life and instead fully cooperate with what is. And so it is.

7

I open my heart and offer my light to the eventual death of this temporary human form I inhabit. I open my mind to the possibility that any fears I may have regarding death are fears of my ideas of death and not death itself. As I listen to the whisper of my soul, which constantly reminds me that I have been on many such journeys countless times before, I remember that reality is infinitely larger than my human side can ever perceive. As a brave soul who chose to temporarily forget its immortality, I celebrate life and embrace my fear of death until that fear itself dissolves into my timeless recognition that life does not start or end, but simply changes form. And so it is.

8

I open my heart and offer my light to all teachers that have appeared on my path and those yet to appear on my path, knowing that everyone and everything that teaches me about myself and helps my growth is my teacher. My heart is full of gratitude for those who have taught me through love as well as for those who have taught me by withholding love. How blessed I am to have been graced with teachers in human form and beyond, those born and unborn, and even those only my subconscious can perceive. I now can see clearly that this earth life, which seems full of suffering, is a school and that teachers and teachings abound in every moment, and I choose to learn as much as I possibly can, ultimately remembering that the only lesson to be learned is that love is all there is. And so it is.

9

I open my heart and offer my light to the ultimate source, the divine creator, infinite spirit, God, All That Is. How can I possibly live in suffering if I choose to connect to that which I’m never disconnected from? How much longer do I want to live in ignorance of my true nature, seeing myself as a separate little body when all the glory of God has been inside me all along? Once I was blind, and I forgive myself for that, but now I have opened my eyes and I see that I am That which I seek. My search for God has always been my yearning to know myself, and now that I realize what I am, I can’t help but lift my head and laugh at the sky. And so it is.

 

108 Sun Salutations Summer 2017 Playlist

 

  • Humanity — Scorpions
  • Bring Me To Life — Evanescence
  • Land of Confusion — Disturbed
  • Under Pressure — David Bowie & Queen
  • Coming Home Pt. II — Skylar Grey
  • Times Like These (Acoustic Cover) — Leo
  • All You Need is Love — Jim Sturgess & Dana Fuchs
  • Stand By Me — Florence + The Machine
  • Time After Time — Sarah McLachlan & Cyndi Lauper
  • I’m Still Standing — Elton John
  • Forgive (feat. Luka Lesson) — Trevor Hall
  • Man in the Mirror — Glee Cast
  • Here Comes the Sun — Glee Cast
  • The Middle (Acoustic Version) — Jimmy Eat World
  • Aerials — System of a Down
  • Nothing Else Matters — Metallica
  • The Show Must Go On — Queen
  • Down to the River to Pray — Alison Krauss
  • Stairway to Heaven — Led Zeppelin