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

Travel

Magic Formula For a Lighter Life

Last week I wrote about traveling being a sacred journey where I lose myself, find myself and reinvent myself, which you can read here. The first month has been a lot of inner work, seeing into my shadow self who reacts without thought, & who desires a little too much. I wrote about how sending those parts of me love has helped to shine a light on the shadows. When we shine the light of love in the darkest of corners, we’re able to see a little more clearly where we can soften our edges.

With this new year, I’ve identified 3 areas of growth that I will intentionally focus on as daily practices. In just a few days of awareness in these areas, I already feel lighter. I feel like the soft exhale to counterbalance the gasping of breath I felt last month.

My 3 daily cultivations are:
1. Gratitude
2. Courage
3. Patience

Let’s dive a little deeper.

Gratitude:

As we move into intentional living, it is important to hold a space of gratitude. It is easy to focus on all that is wrong in the world, or in our current situations. In many cultures, and in my own upbringing, we are hardwired to complain. Venting is ok sometimes, but cultivating gratitude dulls the sharp edges of our worries or complaints.

Appreciating the moment now is an excellent form of gratitude. Harvard did a study on the odds of being born, and the results indicated it’s pretty much a miracle. Each breath is an opportunity to breathe deeper, each step is an opportunity to step lighter and with more awareness. When we can begin by appreciating the simple idea that we are alive right here right now, appreciating the little things becomes easier.

Starting a gratitude journal is a great way to start the day or end the night. Each morning, before I get out of bed, I imagine 3 things I am grateful for, and take that to the heart. They can be simple things like waking up to the smell of coffee, or having a pillow. (I recently became very grateful for having a pillow after 2 different, 10 hour night buses through Mexico). You can also be grateful for qualities within yourself. When we begin the day appreciating ourselves, we don’t desire the appreciation of others as much. I appreciate my courage to wander into the unknown and this year I will cultivate even more courage.

Courage:

Courage is the inner compass that drives you forward past your fears and into spaces filled with potential. Fear is hardwired into our DNA. It serves a purpose biologically. Fear can keep us safe, but is safety all we’re after in humanity?

It seems to be that in Western society we are obsessed with safety. Safety and comfort are imposed on us and sold to us daily. Fences and barbed wire are erected for your “safety”, keep out signs and danger signs are posted everywhere for your “safety”. And why would anyone leave their houses with the amount of things purchased inside those four walls all in the name of comfort?

It’s all ok. Being comfortable is a beautiful, cozy feeling. Safety can help you feel grounded. But have you ever noticed that when you find yourself in uncomfortable situations, the appreciation of comfort goes that much deeper? To leave a space of comfort and throw yourself into the unknown is a courageous move.

When I first grabbed my pack in 2013, I had no idea what the world would bring. When trying to envision a life on the road it was an empty page in my minds eye. This page in my mind has since been filled with imagery so vivid and rich, which before seemed like an empty void.

Osho, the infamous spiritual teacher in the arts of yoga and zen, talks about the void being a place full of infinite potential. If the the things you can’t even imagine are allowed to take shape, the forms that appear before you open you in ways you never dreamed of. It begins with courage. To step into the unknown, with a backpack, or with a song, or with a practice that you think is strange, takes courage. It starts with one step. A step into the void can materialize magnificence.

I’ve learned that when stepping into something new, patience is key. We have to learn to walk before we can walk a tight rope. I have learned this lesson the hard way.

Patience:

Patience is something that I can remember working on even as a child. The child in me is still impatient as ever. I get so excited! I once convinced my mom to let me open every single present on Christmas Eve because I didn’t want to wait.

Patience is connected to allowing. We allow the breath to ebb & flow, we allow the come and go of the waves upon the shore, we allow the sun to rise and fall. These are things we cannot control. So why then do we try to control every aspect of our lives? We don’t yearn for the sun to set faster than it does, we sit in admiration soaking in every blissful moment of it’s return towards the earth. When it comes to relationships, I have a tendency to try to push things along. I justify this by knowing that I’m never anywhere for too long, so in my mind, whatever love is to be shared needs to be shared NOW! {giggle snort} This is my leading edge, the place in me that I hope to fill with patience & gratitude for all that is.

With gratitude as my anchor, courage as my driving force, and patience as my guide, I hope to continue to stay present in my growth and share from a place of light. By authentically connecting to the places in me that still need nurturing, I hope to connect with you from a place of nurturing.

Nurture your self in my upcoming retreat in San Marcos, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. This retreat is about stepping into your full potential and transforming your shadows into light. register here at www.junglevibration.com