inspiration, Relationships, Travel, Yoga

Sages, Sadhus, Scientists, & Householders: Yoga, a path for all people.

Where one studies Yoga can make all the difference of whether their practice becomes a meaningful way of life or a momentary fashion.

Traditional Yoga is passed down from teacher to student in communities called ashrams. Through practicing together, with a knowledgeable guide, all the aspects of Yoga from the diet to the mindful awareness, we start to experience a transformation in our health and consciousness. 

Being from a lineage is not about indoctrination. In many traditional schools it is encouraged to express your doubts. None of my teachers call themselves Gurus, even though in a traditional sense, that is exactly what they are.

All of my teachers simply give thanks to their teachers before them who passed down the knowledge. Yogis are the wisdom keepers of the ancient knowledge of Yoga. Being a part of a lineage means we honor the knowledge & the wisdom keepers who have made it their life’s mission to better humanity through passing down the knowledge of Yoga.

A teacher can be a sage (wise person), a sadhu (holy man in India), or a scientist who methodologically studies the effects of Yoga on the mind, body and spiritual evolution. A teacher can be a householder, or a traveler. A teacher can be anyone who shares some insight with you. Teachers range in experience, age, and constitution. Finding the right teacher for you is just as important as the teachings.

In the lineage I have been taught, the sage, the sadhu and the scientist are all present. My teachers are also householders who have been attributed to Yoga’s modern revival in India. To meet them, follow me on this journey through time to the bank of a river in India in the 1800’s.

The lineage begins with a man whose devotion to social service led him to renounce the material world, & follow the path of Yoga. Paramahamsa Madhavadasaji traveled by foot as a sadhu (monk) for 70 years gaining knowledge of practical Yoga for the development of spiritual consciousness before settling at the age of 80 by a river bank in Gujarat. Many followers gathered by the river bank to learn and live in community with this great Yogi.

Paramahamsa Madhavadasaji was said to have mystical powers of healing, but for a young educated, scientific man like Yogendraji (his eventual disciple), the lure of sadhus and mystics singing in the forest came with great skepticism. However, for a lineage to be passed down, there must be a genuine student. Luckily, the spark of curiosity turns even the most skeptic among us into seekers. This spark, and deep inner knowing, brought the Great Yogi and the Scientist to meet, and the relationship of Guru and Disciple formed.

 This is what it means to be a part of a lineage, to know that it is not I alone who walks the path. We have great sages & even scientists to light the way. Yoga is scientific, and scientifically proven to heal certain ailments and bring peace to the mind. Shri Yogendraji, the disciple, would be the first to found an organized school for learning Yoga in India, and deliver the practice with scientific benefits as the primary purpose .

Shri Yogendraji passed his school on to his son Dr. Jayadeva and his wife Hansaji. It was through their devotion to Yoga, India saw a resurgence in the practical uses of Yoga for householders. No longer did we need to roam barefoot to the jungles to receive the knowledge.

This is the story of the effect we have on each other & on humanity, and how the teachings of one man sitting cross legged by the river bank over 200 years ago has lead me to the tropics, to study Yoga under sweeping vines, in an Ashram in Thailand.

Jeenal in the center with her students in 2018

My direct teacher Jeenal Mehta, was taught by Dr. Jayadeva and Hansaji at The Yoga Institute in Mumbai India. She received certifications in Yoga Therapy with medical specifics to aid folks with asthma, obesity, back problems and other ailments, before receiving the blessing from her teachers to open her own school in the north of Thailand.

This is how Wise Living Yoga Academy was born, through a trusted lineage.

Knowing that the Yoga I am practicing has come from a legitimate place, studied with care and devotion, and passed down with the blessings from genuine teachers, helps me to walk forward with ease. I know that my intuition has guided me to a wholesome, authentic place. I know I can trust the knowledge because it is the same knowledge that has stood the test of time.

Before modern science there was Yoga. Modern science & technology offers us increased proof of the benefits and effects Yoga has on our health, & happiness. 

Following the lineage to the present moment, as I sit under a mango tree understanding a journey walked through many lifetimes, I give gratitude for this moment, and all that has transpired to make this moment the gift that it is, full of the essence of Yoga.

Beatrice, Jeenal, our teacher & me at Wise Living Yoga Academy

If you would like to make Yoga your lifestyle and share in a community experience of learning and transformation, I can only recommend Wise Living Yoga Academy. This school has provided me with the foundation for understanding what Yoga really is, and how Yoga is not contained in one place or period of time, but that Yoga is universal and can be the remedy for our modern anxieties. 

Wise Living Yoga Academy offers month long immersion courses to experience a traditional Yoga lifestyle. Imparting Hatha Yoga principles and traditional Yoga philosophy one can experience an inner transformation. All graduates of the program are certified and qualified to teach Yoga globally, accredited by Yoga Alliance in the US, The Board of International Yoga, as well as accredited by The Yoga Institute, the world’s oldest organized Yoga school.

For more information, please Visit 

www.wiselivingyoga.com

Contact me with any questions about this school and my experience and I can help get you registered:  christina.theleelaproject@gmail.com

www.freeyourcreativity.org

Relationships, Uncategorized

A Story of All That Was Inspired & Found​ When our Young Friend Lost His Life in The River.

18739027_10213083283417950_1552840278063603244_o

Mario Benassi A voice for earth, a vessel for spirit, a catalyst for change

We sat under an old oak tree, our voices rising and falling in harmony, the morning sun casting shadows on our skin. We were singing, like songbirds do, waiting for nothing, but sort of waiting for Annie, as Annies are usually off smiling in their own morning sunshine.

Singing from the heart was nothing new for Mario or me, but this was our first time sharing a song together, just us.

Cross-legged & rooted where we sat, we sang for the moment. No audience except the winged creatures, and a lovely sister who came to gift Mario a little plant that was meant for her grandmother.

This is how much people loved Mario, they gave him their grandmother’s plants.

The next day after our serendipitous meeting, Mario went down to the river to play and pray and he left his body to dance in the eternal waters. He was 22 and he was beautiful.

His foot got caught in the rocks as he slid like a playful child down a rock slide, one which he had played with a dozen or so times before. He went peacefully, like a curious child, and seeker of life’s mysteries, eager to see whats beyond the river bend.

clouds daylight hd wallpaper high
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

When I found out, I was singing the song he had taught me.

Mario was & is magic. Everything he touched turned to song. Many of us had spent the weekend with him at a transformational festival. We heard him sing into the wee hours of the morning and heard his laugh first thing as we rose up for the day.

He was a singer, dancer, yogi and excellent hugger; a swimmer, a fisherman, a poet & a lover of life. He was a son, a brother & a lover. To me he was a buddy, someone I was lucky enough to share deep conversations with on whether or not he should wear the ceramic yoni necklace a friend had gifted him.

I imagine he asked me questions the way he asked his sisters questions. And I know, because his sister told me, I smushed his face the way she would. I think that’s why he liked me.

Mario was more than a little brother, he was a great and humble teacher. One morning, I noticed him nearby, sitting in the storytelling dome listening to the stories of the elders, while I hula hooped in the sunshine. Our eyes met and a great transmission took place.

I heard: you are home, & you are free. His admiring gaze felt safe, and I felt seen. With a knowing smirk between us, my day was instantly brighter.

This is how it is with the great ones. Mario was a young bird but had an old soul. He showed us what it looks like to really see and honor the beauty in front of our eyes, while not grasping too tightly.

pexels-photo-1252893.jpeg
Photo by Arthur Ogleznev on Pexels.com

Hanging with Mario the last days of his life inspired recognition of the sweetness in my own existence and what magic powers I offer to this world.

You are home and you are free.

This is a sentiment that will ripple out into the universe. Mario is home now, wherever old souls go. He feels like the light, & the gentle whisper of the universe that all is well.

He is a reminder to serve the community and to give kindness without expectations (I’m still working on that one). I hope to serve the community as he did in his life, and keep treasured in my memory the powerful way he brought us together in his passing.

It feels real more than ever now, that each one of us has a mission here on earth. In Yoga, we call it Dharma. It is absolutely freeing to uncover your place in this existence. The sweet spot where you feel creative, at service, and in peace. When you ease into the flow of your Dharma, creativity naturally shines.

When one of us remembers, more of us begin to rise in remembrance of our creative essence. To serve each other in love is one of the most creative aspects of humanity.

There are so many things in this existence that need to be changed, and yet how beautiful to know change is the only consistent. Everything is shifting, transmuting, opening, closing, dying, expanding, burning & leaving. I am remembering to appreciate the beauty of all that is, of existence itself and it’s creative nature, that even in death, the vibrant light of creation becomes purer.

Every emotion under the sun can come from loss, & every emotion we experience is valid. Now when I feel an emotion that is uncomfortable, I don’t look away, I lean into to it with love. I observe, think of Mario, and perpetually come back to my creative nature, my Dharma. Come back to the truth in the music.

The day before Mario passed, under that old oak tree, two friends cut from the same cloth, made a pact. Two singing bards, each with one hand in the earth and the other on an instrument said we’d be there for each other. With voices that weave the tales of existence, we are all notes on this one great song, and as Mario was there for me that day to hold space for my song, I wish to be there for all of you, to honor your songs and encourage you to sing.

So I’m moving forth with full love on an epic retreat in the north of Thailand this October.

In our morning song & waiting for Annie convo, Mario said he wanted to start holding retreats. I told him of my upcoming retreat and asked him to be a part of it, & to share his sound and skill for creative flow.

I know he will be there in spirit because his spirit lives on through us.

Look into coming to this epic retreat filled with ancient Yogic practices, medicine songs, and techniques to free your creativity.

We are made of the stuff of creation & it is your birthright to express your deepest truths through any medium that call to you.

Let me offer you space to practice.
Early birds get the discount only $390 for everything including food, 5 nights accommodation, and so many liberating offerings. Check www.freeyourcreativity.org to learn more and sign up to be involved in a scholarship contest in Mario’s honor.

If Facebook is your jam and you stay in touch best in that space check the FB event here:

Free Your Creativity: A Yoga Retreat To Liberate Your Inner Artist

I’m feeling more excited than ever about this retreat knowing how proud of me Mario was when I told him it was happening.

He said, “I just want to share with the world in my gifts”.

Isn’t that what we all desire? Reply with how this post made you feel, & if you’re dealing with loss at the moment, I am here for you.

Reply & let me know what gifts you wish to cultivate & thank you for honoring our friend Mario by sharing your gifts with the world.

Chakra, inspiration, Relationships, sound healing

The roots of love. How to Find Connection and Call in Your Tribe.

image

We as people desire connection. It’s in our DNA. No matter our current life circumstance, at each and every core of a human, we desire to be recognized through the eyes of the community. Since people started doing the people thing, we’ve been gathering in groups, weaving stories, working towards common goals, making love, and sharing song within a community setting.

Cross culturally, people do these things differently, and yet, we do them together. Humans evolved in tribes, and while our current societies don’t resemble the tribes of old, we are still rooted in a tribal connection. Our desire to belong, and our questions of what we are all doing here together remain at the foundation of human experience.

You can tell in the way we so easily segregate ourselves by sports teams, job titles, & political affiliation. We desire to belong so deeply we are often willing to put ourselves in boxes without even knowing what exactly the box contains, just that we are recognized in the eyes of the community. If you begin to start to think outside of the box, as they say, you can come to creatively discover what a tribal connection means to you.

It is your divine right to be here now. Your body is the vehicle to reach depths of physical, spiritual & tribal connection. Just like you cannot separate the droplet from the ocean, you cannot separate your energy body from the physical body. Yoga philosophy defines these aspects of the self more as layers or koshas going from dense to subtle. Going from your physical body to your deep bliss body.

At the energetic level, or pranamaya kosha, lies the chakras. These energetic points along the midline of the body, act as portals for which energy flows.

There are 7 major chakras, and each chakra has characteristics that manifest in your life through thoughts, emotions and behaviors. These 3 expressions form your personality and essentially how you connect with the world around you, & how you relate to your tribe.

Each chakra has the potential to be blocked, over active, or balanced. You can notice when a chakra is out of balance, by how the problems in your life manifest. Our problems act as little arrows pointing back to the self, revealing where in your energy body you may be experiencing disharmony. Paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, behaviors as well as external problems, is like a little road map to healing. When we feel whole and healed, we are more available to connection with the the world around us, and call in a tribe that we vibe with.

When you discover which aspects of yourself feel out of tune, you can practice mantras to bring that chakra, & thier characteristic manifestations back into balance.

Each chakra has a seed mantra or Bija mantra associated with it. We discuss Bija mantras in more detail in my last post here.

The chakra that is most closely related to a tribal connection and our beginning stages of a spiritual practice is the root chakra or muladhara chakra. This chakra’s Bija Mantra is LAM.

The root chakra or Muladhara chakra is located at the base of the spine and is the seat of spiritual energy called Kundalini. This chakra represents our sense of security, connection to others, and our primal, instinctual desires.

When this chakra is out of balance you may experience fear, lack of security and seeking for basic needs in ways that may not serve your highest good. For example, we may use food, alcohol, or other addictive substances to cope with feelings of disconnection. Feeling disconnected, and ungrounded, happens on and off for many people, myself included.

When I first began to travel 4 years ago, I felt a tribe sized hole in my heart. I began to fill this hole with adventure & experience. From the outside it looked as though I were living a happy life, seeing the world, & experiencing new cultures. But that hole continued to grow when each time I found people who lit me up, we soon all parted ways to continue our own adventures. I got really good at saying goodbye.

Then I realized, not all good things need a goodbye. I began to get in touch with the root of myself and my primal needs through yoga, chanting and self discovery. When this piece of my energy body felt balanced, I no longer desired to hoard, keep and cage all the beautiful things I found on my journey, people included.

I let free all that came and went. Through chanting, I connected to myself, my surroundings, and all the peeps I met along the journey from my roots all the way to my heart. Now I’m creating a global tribe for all those who resonate with what’s happening over here to connect and find one another. We’re in this together tribe!

My wish for you is that you vibrate on a frequency that calls in your true tribe. You can join the Leela project’s sound tribe here. And let us know how we can serve you.

To begin to balance your own root chakra and create harmonious, vibrant connection within a community, you can start by chanting the seed mantra LAM.

If you haven’t yet discovered which Chakra could use some extra attention and care, you can take my free quiz here. <<Take Chakra Quiz>>