Monday, January 21, 2008

Ashram life for the weekend and Dry Brushing

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Thats how I feel when I think about this past weekend at the Sivananda Yoga Ranch in Woodbourne, NY. I visited the ashram with one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was like we were kids again at summer camp. Lots of laughing, conscious living, peaceful silence, sharing wisdom, and positive thinking. The focus of the weekend was positive thinking and there was a wonderful workshop on Saturday afternoon on the subject. Here is a quote from Swami Sivananda's writing on positive thinking:

Lead a well-regulated life respecting the natural rhythms as much as possible.
Adapt, Adjust, Accomodate.
Live in the present.
Allow sudden changes to arise in your life.
Do not look for perfection in life. Perfection lies in stillness of one's own mind.
What really matters is not what happens but how we react to it.
Under stress most people loose their balance and their routine. We let things 'fall apart'.
Try to stick to your minimum routine.
Sit down and sort out any changes you could make to help you. Then make them NOW!
Do not waste your life speculating about others in ways that are not to your mutual advantage.
Purge your mind of all aimless and idle thoughts, especially those dealing with affairs of others or wishing them ill.
Become a staunch believer in self-reliance and self-effort.
You are affected by things only in accordance with your idea about them.
The minds sees value in that in which it has intense faith.
Each time I read this passage, I find something new and helpful. One of my biggest challenges at home is making time to meditate, which is one of the most integral parts of living a healthy life (in my opinion). We sat for meditation four times during the weekend and I realize how restless and cloudy my mind is at the moment. I promise to meditate at least 30 minutes a day, even if it is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. I want to find my quiet mind.

The hatha yoga was fantastic! I hadn't taken a class since teacher training and it was so relaxing and satisfying to be on the mat. I would like to begin taking at least one a yoga class a week in Baltimore in addition to my home practice. It was also wonderful taking a class in the temple, which is an octagon-shaped room with floor to ceiling windows. I felt surrounded by warmth and peace.

Satsang is also a wonderful part of the ashram schedule. We attended four Satsangs during the weekend. Swami-ji spoke about positive thinking after chanting and meditation. We also went on a walk through the ashram property on Saturday morning. It was a silent meditation walk and we traipsed through the woods over the crunchy snow to the Shiva and Ganesha shrines. The fresh air was cleansing and invigorating.

All of the meals are vegetarian and it was wonderful catching up with friends from TTC and newcomers to the ashram over brunch and dinner each day. It was simply a fantastic weekend and I highly recommend making a visit to any of the Sivananda Ashrams, even if you have never practiced yoga. The majority of guest were completely new to ashram life and yoga as a whole. I am working hard to carry the principles of yoga into daily life. I'm sure I'll be back at the ashram for another refresher as soon as possible!

I also picked up a natural bristle body brush at the ashram. I used it before showering last night and this morning. Kris Carr introduced me to this great detox tool in this blog entry. Check out this site for some helpful instructions. It feels great while you are doing it. I can't report on the long-term effect yet, but I'll keep you posted:)

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