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5 Simple Ways to Invigorate Your “OM”

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

These 5 things will elevate your OM and revolutionize your practice

Historically, yogis believed that there was an inseparable relationship between yoga and sound/sound vibrations.  Since the earliest ages the sages chanted devotional hymns, meditated on the sound of chakras, and recited mantras -traditions that live on into this day.

Perhaps you have experienced some of these practices yourself within the modern day gym or studio.  Or, if nothing else, are familiar with the practice of chanting AUM (also spelled OM).  Many core concepts are imbedded within the sound of OM that are integral to traditional yoga.

To begin, AUM or OM is regarded as the vibrational undercurrent that underlies all of the manifest creation, the background reverberation that echoes the Big Bang, the sound of the universe.  With repeated practice, we can get a hint of OM’s greater cosmology or, if nothing else, experience the inherent peace that accompanies the sincere repetition of the sound. While an earnest, even reverent approach to chanting OM will magnify its power, there are also some technical aspects to uttering the sound that will also amplify its potency.  Here are five tips to enhance the power of OM in your personal practice:

5 Simple Ways to Invigorate Your OM

  1. Phonemics
    First, OM is commonly chanted in one in one of two ways, as indicated by the two ways in which it is spelled.  In the case of the most frequent spelling (OM) the sound is rendered very much like it is spelled O-M.  (According to Sanskrit rules of grammar the A and U sounds collapse into one another to make the O sound).  From the tantric-yoga perspective, the sounds are more distinct: A as in “car”, U as in “soup”, and M sounds more like the vibrational-drown of a bee.  Either pronunciation will suffice.
  2. The Mouth – An Instrument of Infinity
    Being the genesis of all manifestation, OM is regarded as the sound that contains all sounds.  There are a number of schema that describes how this process works the simplest of which is the trajectory of how the sound directs itself through the mouth. The A sound begins in the back of the throat, it then fills the cavern of the mouth with the U sound and finally closes at the lips with the M sound; thereby covering the entire spectrum of potential sound as expressed through the mouth.  Integrate this understanding the next time you express the sound of OM.  Bring your conscious attention to how the entire range of the sound travels from the back of the throat to the lips, articulating each sound along the way.
  3. The Spine – An instrument of Awareness
    The same methodology can be applied to extending the sound from the base of the spine and up and out of the crown of the head. According to the yoga tradition, the spine is the axis of awareness. There are many forms of meditation (such as meditating upon chakras) that utilize this principle to cultivate expanded states of consciousness. In this way, one can direct the sound of A from the pelvic floor to the navel, the U sound from the navel to the throat and finally the M sound through skull and up and out through the top of the head.  Try it!
  4. Loose Yourself in OM
    You can incorporate either of these OM expanding techniques to the practice of AUM-Kar or the successive, unbridled repetition of OM.  This is best practiced with a group of your fellow yogis.  The rules are rather simple, chant OM as many times as you can!  Each individual chants OM at their own pace, creating a symphony of voices as the sound of each chanter overlaps with one another.    At some point, the sound will naturally subside, leaving a palpable stillness and calm.  If you are a teacher, consider doing this practice in your next class, or practice with home with friends!
  5. Essential Silence
    It is essential to pause and immerse yourself in the resounding silent echo of the sound to fully appreciate every aspect of OM.  The silence after chanting this sacred syllable is actually consider to be a fourth sound called turya, which simple means “the fourth”.   Turya is the all subsuming, transcendent aspect of PM – beyond time and space.  The sound returns to is origin, which it never left.  Immerse yourself in the peace and stillness!

The sound of OM and its primal, elemental qualities are accessible to anyone.  Consider both the technical, emotive and spiritual aspects of chanting it as you move deeper into its significance and meaning.  You have nothing to loose and everything to gain 🙂

 

 

Sonic Gong Bath for Healing and Renewal   – Nov. 18

We are pleased to announce a very special guest performance by none other than Denver’s beloved hero of sound healing, Mr. Gary Fishman.  Gary’s “Gong Baths” are extraordinarily soothing and renewing to the entire nervous system.  See more at Gary’s personal website, songs of the milky way. Bring something comfortable to rest on the ground with.

Any and all are welcome to attend this interstellar voyage of cellular renewal.  Bring something to lye down on such as a blanket, a yoga mat or some combination of the above. Click here for more information.

Saturday, Nov. 18th.  7-8:30pm  |  3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC
Suggested Donation ($15-20)

 

3 Reasons You Should Be Meditating

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

A look at the benefits of regular mediation

Why Meditate?

It was only a couple of decades ago that meditation was regarded as something reserved for mystical spiritual seekers; it had something to do with eating brown rice with tofu.

Now, it is practiced everywhere from pre-schools to prisons, from hospitals to monasteries. It can even be found on the cover of Newsweek and Time magazines.

Why this dramatic shift from kumbaya to mainstream media?

The answer is very simple.

Meditation implicitly makes life more enjoyable.  Meditation teaches how to deliberately move from mental, even physical tension into a place of peace and clarity.  Meditation is like a best friend that will never abandon you, a friend that is always there for you in any and all circumstances.

How is this possible?

Our mind is at the cornerstone of all of our life experience. You are what you think. Two people can experience the exact same event and experience it in two totally different ways, based on their unique mental constitutions.  The mind is the ruling force of our perception and interpretation of all life experiences.

Through meditation it is possible to reprogram our thought process, to let go of needless distractions, to give you the mental stamina to overcome adversity, attract favorable circumstances and expand your capacity to experience peace.

Here are three basic tips to get you started on the path of inner freedom:

  1. Have a teacher.  There are many automated resources out there to help you get started on the path of meditation, however I would encourage you to find a teacher with can give you some outside eyes, answer your questions, and provide a living example of what a committed meditation practice looks like.
  2. Regular practice.  Just like learning any discipline, meditation takes practice.  If you want to learn to play the violin, you need to practice.  If you want to learn how to run of four minute mile, you need to practice.  If you want to learn to master your own thought waves…. you need to practice. Consistency is the key.  It is hard to make any meaningful progress if your practice is sporadic.  Aim for meditation daily, ideally at the same time and place.  This will build a powerful groove of association that will radically deepen your practice.
  3. Life off the cushion.  At first we do yoga/meditation to enrich our lives.Then we do our life to enrich our yoga/meditation.  Meditation helps to shine the light of awareness on our habits and tendencies.  With this insight we are better able to make choices that support our life and in so doing support our meditation practice. 

The beauty of meditation is that nothing outside of ourselves is required.  If we can think and breath, we can learn to meditate. How conscious are we of our thoughts?  How intentional are we about our decisions?  Are we in-touch with our creative capacities?  Meditation can help us to answer these questions and many more, provided we are willing to practice.  A world of awakening awaits you.

 

Going Deeper with Meditation

 

Got Peace?  Have you ever felt anxious, or lay at wake at night thinking your way in endless circles?  Learning how to direct and live in harmony with one’s own mind is an essential life skill.  Meditation teaches us how to gain mastery over one’s (discursive) mind and experience deeper levels of peace and fulfillment.  Mainline into the source of all happiness with practice of meditation.

Join us on Sunday, Feb. 26th.  9:30-11:30  |  3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC ~ Upstairs

Suggested Donation ($15-20)

What happens when you meditate daily?

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

An experiment in daily meditation

 

An account from one of our yoga teacher training students…

My personal experiment was to construct a continuous meditate practice outside of yoga class. My plan was to do it every morning, considering that is when I had the most time for myself, and to do it 20 minutes a day. The first two days were really easy. I noticed I was really productive at work and had more of a chill day than when I would not meditate. The third day through the seventh day, I did not find time for a session. I decided to sleep in instead of waking up on time which is 4 am. My day would start out sluggish and it was harder to focus at work. I would try to get 4 things done at once, instead of completing one duty at a time. My day was more unorganized and felt longer and more stressful. After that week, I told myself I had to find time for it in my day somehow or another.

The second week rolled by with hardly an issue. I meditated everyday for seven days and it seemed as though the week was easy as pie. If I could not fit it in my morning time before work, I would meditate right before bed. When I did that, my sleep was more sound. I hardly rolled over or moved or woke up. My dreams were more vivid and peaceful. I was able to go to bed later than usual and still be able to wake up on time the next morning. I felt more energized throughout my day.

I would go into work with a smile on my face and not have a tired look. My days would fly by, and if it got stressful at work, it hardly affected me as far as putting me into a bad mood and I was able to come up with simple solutions immediately. I felt more confident in my skin. At work, when employees were not doing their job the right way, I would tell them the expectations and if they did not listen to it, we would have to find someone else. I was not rude about it, rather I introduced the conversation in a direct but pleasant matter. Needless to say, they fixed their attitude and got their job duties done. I was really proud of myself for saying something when I normally would pretend to not see anything and let them get away with not doing their job correctly or half ass. I even stopped watching television after 7. When I needed something to do, I grabbed a book and started reading for at least an hour.

The third week came by and once again, I got caught up in old arguments which lead to me missing a few days of meditation.

The practice was a little choppy as far as the effect it had on my day, and the timing. My practice was all over the place. I would miss a day, next day meditate in the morning. Next day, miss another day. Day after, meditate after lunch. Next day, miss another day. Then I meditated the next day after. Same thing happened the fourth week.

The same affects happened to me the third and fourth week and they were really chaotic weeks. In spite of meditating a few days in a week, it was clear to me that it is not going to cut it. I had to do it everyday without missing a day. Granted, some days were better than others but overall, I noticed I had the best week when I was consistent with my practice. Now, I am on day 4 without missing a day and it is only going to get better from here. This whole experience has made me accept who I am as a person and that I can amount to great things if I simply apply myself to it. I will continue to have a consistent practice for meditation and even in my busiest of days, if I have to go to the bathroom just to meditate for ten minutes I will, but I will make time to meditate somehow.

The little things I do now, will amount to greater and bigger things in the future.



Going Deeper with Meditation


Got Peace?  Have you ever felt anxious, or lay at wake at night thinking your way in endless circles?  Learning how to direct and live in harmony with one’s own mind is an essential life skill.  Meditation teaches us how to gain mastery over one’s (discursive) mind and experience deeper levels of peace and fulfillment.  Mainline into the source of all happiness with practice of meditation.


Join us on Sunday, Feb. 26th.  9:30-11:30  |  3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC ~ Upstairs

Suggested Donation ($15-20)

Yoga Resolution 4: Live Life Authentically

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

The true test of any resolution is to live it!

Yoga Resolution #4: Live Life Authentically

Namaste ‘17!

Welcome to installment number four of our ongoing new year’s resolve series (woot! woot!). The last time we conversed, I introduced the concept of sankalpa. A sankalpa is a deeply held vow or conviction, designed to orient one towards their highest self.

A well developed  sankalpa will weave its way into our daily thoughts and interactions.  It is more than a nice idea, it is a reflection of our deepest and most earnest heart felt desire. More often than not, a sankalpa has a spiritual tone to it such as the desire to live a life of peace or integrity, though it could be more superficial in nature as well.

9 yoga resolutions for 2017 to ring in the New Year - Axis Yoga Teacher Trainings of Denver

The assignment was to craft a sankalpa through self reflection, conversation, journaling, artistic expression, and so forth.  Come up with one pithy statement or affirmation that is a reflection of your deepest potential and purpose.  (I know, sounds big, as is Life).  Here is my personal affirmation for 2017, as an example:

“My Will, Mind and Actions Align with Truth.”

The most important thing is that your sankalpa resonates with you.  If you approach it sincerely, a sankalpa becomes a sounding board for all of your thoughts, actions and decisions, gradually it becomes an organic extension of who you are.

Drawing upon one’s sankalpa turns “I will go to the gym three times a week” into “I take loving care of my mind, body and spirit”.  A sankalpa has the power to mold and shape our character, and help orient ourselves towards our higher inner and outer potentials.  It brings out the best that is already inside of you.

How to Live into Your Resolve?

Once we set the compass of our sankalpa, the true test will be to apply your affirmation to the actual terrain of your life; how you respond to stress, how you adapt to change, how you relate to others.  How do we best embody our heartfelt resolve?    

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  • Commit your sankalpa to memory.  Say it as a tonic to prevent distress.  Say it in the midst of distress.
  • Don’t be shy.  Boldly place reminders of your 2017 intention in your environment!  Clear any clutter from the fridge and turn it into a shrine in homage to your intent!
  • Enter reminders in your ‘wisdome phone’ to prompt you to tune in.  Are there apps or outside message (such as this blog:) to remind you to stay centered amidst the vacillating currents of life?
  • Go Big!  Put some stakes in the ground!  What challenging yet manageable steps can you commit to that will bring your sankalpa to life.  Trips? Adventures?  Dates/pacts with friends? Mend or let go of broken relationships? Yoga training?  Find a stretch that will breath life into you and your sankalpa.
  • Whisper a silent, personalized prayer at the end of meditation asking for guidance and support.

A sankalpa is designed to bring forth, and help us overcome our limitations.  Invariably there will be setbacks.  Like a scout traversing uncharted territory, you will encounter unexpected challenges and surprises.  Maintain a broad perspective as you hone in on the details of living into the gift of your sankalpa.

 

 

200-hr. Yoga Teacher Training Open House – Sun. Jan. 22 at 9:30am

Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s ongoing yoga teacher trainings. This will be a great opportunity to experience a class, meet graduates, get your questions answered and get a taste of what Axis is all about! Click here to learn more.

9 yoga resolutions for 2017 to ring in the New Year - Axis Yoga Teacher Trainings of Denver

Yoga Resolution 3: Make Meditation A Priority

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

Settle, still and focus your mind

Yoga Resolution #3: Make Meditation A Priority

Welcome to the New Year! Mediation is one of the keys to successful resolutions or resolves. During this video I talk about the importance of meditation, how to incorporate it into your daily life and at the end, we’ll walk through a 3-step process to meditating. – Derik

9 yoga resolutions for 2017 to ring in the New Year - Axis Yoga Teacher Trainings of Denver

 

Beyond Asana

Sometimes we can only delve deeper into the unknown by setting aside the known for a little while. This Axis Yoga Teacher Training student’s desire to deepen their sadhana practice required a relinquishment of their more familiar asana practice. They faced a challenge familiar to many who try to begin a meditation practice; wondering if we are doing it “right” and feeling some discomfort in being alone in our own mind. This student’s courage to experiment with their practice lead to more patience, love and understanding for both self and others.

 

Beyond Asana: My Goal

For my second experiment I aimed to deepen my personal sadhana practice. I have always known that yoga is more than just an asana practice, but fell short on incorporating Pranayama into my own practice. I avoided Pranayama because I was not comfortable meditating alone, and questioned if I was even doing it correctly. When we practiced sadhana during class I always left feeling content, clear minded and at ease, I decided I wanted to cultivate these positive outcomes into my own everyday life.

Prior to this experiment my yoga practice consisted of getting up at 5 a.m. oil pulling, a gentle oil massage, shower and then 30-45 minutes of asana practice followed by 5-10 minutes of mediation. I had to be finished with this whole routine by 6:20 a.m. so I would have time to get ready and off to work. Some days if I were running late or if I felt inspired to add more asana or take longer holds the first thing to go was my pranayam practice. On the days when I did have adequate time to mediate I was unable to get comfortable and found myself thinking about everything I had to do that day. I would tell myself I would sit for at least try for 10-20 minutes, but would be so restless after 5 minutes I stopped trying.

I was aware that needed more time to meditate, but figured at least I was doing everything thing else in my routine, so what was the harm in not meditating. After sharing this issue with a teacher, he suggested I work primarily on my sadhana practice and leave out my asana practice. Therefore, I hypothesized if I devoted my morning routine strictly to sadhana I could deepen this part of my practice and add it together with the asana practice later on. I also hypothesized that a consistent personal sadhana practice would welcome the same peace and mindfulness I achieved during our class sadhanas.

Beyond Asana: My Routine

I kept my same 5 a.m. wake up time and performed the same oil pulling, oil massage and showering routine as I had. I felt it was necessary to clean and awake for my practice and the ritual made me feel like I was preparing for something special. I then went to spare bedroom to practice with nothing, but my mat and a few pictures of family and friends on an altar. I started by setting an intention for how I wanted my day to go, often asking for more patience and understanding towards others. I then sang the Gayatri mantra, performed the Four Purifications and then sat quietly and meditated.

Beyond Asana: My Experience

I looked forward to getting up every morning and performing my routine, especially singing the Gayatri Mantra. Some days I would sing it three times and other days I did not want to stop and sang it at least ten times one morning. The Mantra made the space my own and the action of singing relieved some of the pressure I had felt in the past about sitting alone with my thoughts. My first week I successfully sat in silence and for a maximum of 20 minutes, and as the weeks progressed I was able sit for 40 minutes, some days going over time. My first week I felt I had more energy, relied less on caffeine, and was overall clear minded and content.

My second week of this experiment, I began to experience very vivid dreams of events that had happened to me in the past. These were event I did not remember or perhaps chose not to remember, but knew they had happened. I, myself was not the main character in the dream, but rather watched the same event I had as experienced happen to another person. I was an outsider looking in on my own life’s history. I did not feel nearly as happy or clear minded my second week as I had my first and debated stopping my pranayama practice because I did not want to be burdened by these dreams every night. I did not realize how much I lived my life day to day, and chose to ignore how past experiences shaped me. It was not a pleasant experience to look at a direct reflection of myself, but realized it was something I had avoided and needed to finally face. My second week could be described as an inward discovery of myself, where my life’s path had led me and where I wanted it to lead me.

By the third week of my experiment, my practice started to come full circle and felt calm, happy as I did the first week. Diving deeper into my subconscious was difficult at times, but in the end I had gained perspective on my life. In my dreams I had experienced events as an outside party, allowing me to suspend judgments about myself and move forward rather than feel stuck by one event in my life. The intention I began during my third week was asking for more patience and understanding of myself therefore allowing for a greater amount of self-love.

Beyond Asana: My Outcome

This experiment helped me deepen my own personal sadhana practice and I become comfortable with meditating alone. Of course there were days when I struggled to relax or questioned if I was doing it “the right way”, but I just reminded myself of an Iyengar quote I had heard “Breath is the king of mind.” That quote took the strain and pressure off focusing my mind and allowed me to just sit in silence and focus on my breath, and things fell into place from there.

Starting a pranayama practice separately from my asana practice helped me grow and strengthen a piece of my practice that was once weak and deficient.  I gained the peace and clarity I had hoped, while discovering pieces of myself I had left unexplored. This experiment helped me to see my life’s path more clearly and strengthened my emotional immunity. I feel I have more love, patience and understanding for others because I have more love, patience and understanding of myself.