Archive for April, 2010

On Death, Aging & Ashtanga with Danny Paradise

Posted by Robin Sparks on April 5th, 2010 | Email this to friend

Originally published at Balispirit Festival Blog

So many yoga classes, so much time… Even though the festival is officially over, I thought I’d add a dash of after-blogging to the after party spirit.

On April 3, from some 25 classes, I selected Danny Paradise’s Ashtanga class for 4 main reasons. First the name -Danny Paradise – sounds more like a piano bar player than a yoga teacher.  Second, the description of the class – Aging and Death.  Two events I do my utmost not to think about.  Third, Danny’s experience and reputation as a practitioner of Ashtanga for over 30 years. And fourth, the fact that Ashtanga is a style of yoga distinctly different from the out of the box off-the-mat styles of Shiva Rae, Eoin Finn, and Rebecca Pflaun. Ultimately Astanga yoga is the origin of nearly all yoga styles.

I place my mat near the front of the class and settle in at the feet of this man who looks like he stepped right out of Haight Ashbury circa 1967. His many years as a yoga practitioner and life of a seeker have granted him wisdom and insight that he graciously shares during the first half of each class.

The following are a few of the gems that Danny Paradise shared with us on the last of his three classes during the festival. The topic – Aging and Death.

First he lays this on us: The root cause of depression is fear of living your dreams.

And how do we know what our dreams are? By listening to our soul.“If you don’t acknowledge the presence of your soul and what it is saying to you, you create depression. Your soul knows what you want. Listen.”
“We come to yoga mainly as a physical practice but ultimately yoga is soul work.

On death: Danny says death is a transition to an ecstatic awakening condition.

Mayans refer to death as “Nowness”. Most indigenous cultures don’t have a word for death.  The message of ancient yoga is that if you take care of yourself on a regular basis your whole life, if you purify yourself, and live love, when death comes it will be a rapid transition. At the moment of death, you come to full realization that all effect is created by thought, manifestation is a result of intention, intention creates reality, and everything you experience in life, you have called into your life for your personal evolution.

On aging: Yoga is an excellent healing tool… As you heal yourself physically,  it empowers you to make radical changes in your life.When you have vitality and energy you can use that to meet any challenges that come your way and in so doing avoid depression and discouragement. Remember that you are creating the challenges in your life that help you to evolve. Yoga gives expanded focus.

The Mayan word for “old” means strong like a tree. Elders in these cultures were pepole you could count on for information about wisdom and understanding. They aged with health, vitality and grace.

The word for life in Mayan tradition means interconnectedness…we are all interdependent. Anger,  jealousy, anxiety, distress, creates disease.

Yoga helps you to be healthy and happy through your own will. When you make yourself happy, you make others happy around you. If you want to be in a solid relationship, you need to be happy with yourself to draw that to yourself.

Through building heat in the body and sweating you eliminate toxins…yoga is far and away one of the best detoxing exercises you can do.

Yoga reaches deep into the mind and heart and brings up old wounds and memories that we have suppressed. As they rise to the surface you can release them.

Bringing yourself completely into the present as we do doing yoga practice, is one of the main ways of healing – forgiving, pulling in your spiritual destiny, recognizing your spiritual essence.

He talks about developing a “peacekeeper mind”, getting rid of thoughts of scarcity, conflict, separation, and bringing into your being a healing force.

Personal power strengthens your immunity and strength. “I’ve seen people heal themselves from cancer, scoliosis, allergies and more …people altered their diet, thought positively and took care of themselves on the deepest levels possible…those are yogic, ancient prescriptions passed down generations to generations for thousands of years.
In our lifetimes everyone here will at some point experience loss of personal power, whether through radical challenges, losing your health or your possessions. At that point you have to determine what you have faith in, do you believe you can heal yourself?  90% of the work of healing is the work that you do for yourself.

Yoga adds 20-30 years of active health to one’s life Danny claims. It is changing the nature in how people are aging. All this talk about health care in America? Insurance companies are starting to finance yoga because they realize that those who do yoga require less medical care. “I am now seeing people in their 60’s and 70’s practicing yoga and the way that they are aging is amazing.”

Danny then goes on to talk about how yoga can completely alter your body. It takes 10 years to purify to eliminate and correct the past. All the 103 industrial chemicals we carry in our cells contribute to the creation of diseases like cancer, allergies, and immune system problems. Yoga is your best option for healing.

A student asks how to break patterns of behavior we don’t like but find ourselves repeating.

Danny answers, “On the simplest level yoga clears your mind. Allows you to step out of regular order of your life and to break patterns by becoming aware of them. Through awareness you can perceive patterns and the perception alone can sometimes allow you to break the patterns.”

Every time you are jealous or angry, you throw a stone in your bowl, but at any moment in the day, you can turn that bowl of stones and pour it out and your let with a full bowl of life. That’s how you can recognize who you are and what your sacred nature is.

Sometimes it just takes sitting down and asking for guidance, how to be true to yourself. Honest, clear, recognizing that your primary responsibility is to yourself. You must make yourself happy first,for  if you’re not happy, it will have a negative impact on those around you. If you don’t make yourself happy, you will create disease.

If you have a fear you should step into it. He uses as an example his fear of going to India the first time because he knew it would open a door through which he would never return. He confronted that fear, went to India, and it set the course of his life.

Then we move into the practice. He demonstrates opening our chests, taking deep breathes, lifting the solar plexus, utilizing the banda,ojai breathing,  lean into legs, move stomach muscles in and out, back and forth. We spend the next half hour doing extended standing sequences and asanas with derivations based on classical yoga from India.

Danny ends the class by reminding us that the most important aspect of yoga is prana, the increasing of the life force through inspiration and respiration.

Yoga is breath. Breath is spirit. Spirit is ageless – and spirit trumps death. Yoga anyone?

Heal Yourself, Heal the World with Rebecca Pflaum

Posted by Robin Sparks on April 4th, 2010 | Email this to friend

Originally published at the Balispirit Festival Blog.

Heal Yourself, Heal the World with Rebecca PflaumIn December 2008, I heard there was a “famous” yogi named Rebecca Pflaum visiting Ubud. Having recently arrived in Bali after 3 years in Istanbul, and a year before that in Argentina, I was out of the international yoga loop. I’d never heard of Rebecca Pflaum and had never attended a Kundalini workshop.

At the end of that class some 16 months ago, we were invited to enter a healing circle. As I laid there in the middle of that healing circle on a beautiful island in a country far away from home, those in the circle around me sang, “May the long time sun, shine upon you, may all love surround you, may the long time sun, shine upon you, guide your way home, guide your way home…” As I laid there, tears streaming down my face, I saw an egg-like shell coming apart, all jagged edges, and a pink fragile wrinkle-y creature emerging, and gingerly unfolding.

That was my initiation to Bali.

And so it was with great pleasure and anticipation that once again today, I attended Rebecca’s Pflaum’s Kundalini class.

The workshop title was: Kundalini Yoga and Meditation: Heal the World, Heal Yourself. The brochure read,We each have within us the power to heal ourselves and our world; Experience your own healing potential through Kundalini Yoga, ancient healing mantras, kriyas, meditations and healing sounds. Focus on areas of your life where change is welcome and allow yourself to manifest these changes. As a group we will support and radiate our healing energies exponentially, share more light into the collective consciousness, and experience that “we are ones we have been waiting for”.

Kundalini energy Rebecca explains at the beginning of today’s class, represents creative potential. She encourages us to let it rise through our chakras opening and nourishing us. She says that mind, body and spirit are inseparable. “This practice wakes you up. Focus on healing and set your intention. Embrace whatever comes to you today and set your intention on healing.”

OK, so I’ve got this big heavy dark boulder in my chest just over my heart. I set an intention for the darkness to lift, for my light to come back on.

We sit in lotus position and sing chants as directed. Sat-nam, Sat-nam Sat-nam…Rebecca tells us the sanskrit chant means “higher self”. She tells us to remember our perfection, our bliss, and to forget “any of that other crap” that tells us we are not enough.

“Everyone who thinks they are perfect, raise your hand,” she says. A few hands tentatively go up in the air, and then mine. She laughingly says, “Ah some of you are finally getting it. You are perfect.

What a relief.

“Heal yourself first, “ she says, “Find your center, your strength. And then you will begin to heal the world.”

We do arm raises and waist twists from a seated position, until some of us are groaning our arms ready to drop. You can moan and groan, she says, but you can’t stop.

Another chant set to music, Goo naru – “It is blissful to move from light to dark,” she translates.

I can get behind that.

It helps that we are singing. Singing!!! Such a universal connection to source! I had forgotten that Kundalini Yoga involves singing. And I love it.

We sit sweaty back to sweaty back with a partner and bow forward and back repeatedly while singing. Then we face our partner and swaying back and forth sing the children’s song, “Who, who, who can that be, happy oh happy, happy as can be. Who, who, who can that be, happy oh happy, happy as can be….” Try not smiling while singing that.

My friend Claire whispers, “It’s like kindergarten for adults.”

Next Rebecca directs us to hug the people around us and so we do, moving around the room holding both strangers and friends in turn.

Then we dance freely, smiling, jumping, rocking out.

This is one feel good class.

Sixteen months after my first Kundalini Yoga class, we are once again end with a healing circle. Me and that heavy black boulder lie down in the center prepared to embrace whatever might come. And once again, all around me, they are singing the sunshine song, “May the long time sun, shine upon you, all love surround you, may the long time sun, shine upon you, guide your way home, guide your way home….

The darkness that had weighed so heavily in my chest, releases and lifts. I am home.

Woodstock revisited in Bali April 2010

Posted by Bradley on April 3rd, 2010 | Email this to friend

I’d been at Day Number 2 of the Bali Spirit festival all day and was at home listening to the audio of yesterday’s press conference with Shiva Rae, Ninie Ahmad, Yudi Widyatoro, and Duncan Wong. (all about that tomorrow). As a teaser, there is an AMAZING array of yoga classes at this year’s festival. Thus far, I’ve attended classes taught by Eoin Flynn, Shiva Rae, and Danny Paradise and heard about dozens of others from various festival attendees.

At 9PM I closed my computer and prepared to leave on my motorcycle for the concert at the Arma Museum. That’s when it started to rain. Hard. I sms’d friends. How was it? Were they calling off the concert? Text messages came in one after another with variations of “We’re all on the stage dancing. Come!”

I called a driver and off we went on a Mr. Toad’s Wild ride through the pouring rain to the Arma Museum. By the time I arrived, the rain had stopped, and the monsoon rains had left the ground wet and sloshy giving the whole scene a distinct Woodstock feel. People smiling and drippy in the rain and not caring. Mud slushing through the toes of our flip flops. Friends from Thailand, Byron Bay, Australia, Goa, India, and of course Bali convened to celibrate. Music group after music group came on stage. Everyone dancing, talking, loving…. By the end of the evening we were all of us – everyone from Isa’s teen aged step son, to Daphne’s elderly parents dancing to Love in the Circus followed by the Swedish group Kultiration. It was after midnight when the band played their last number, and then it was off to the After Party at the Flava Lounge.

And yes we are doing yoga. All about that tomorrow!