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

Creativity, sound healing, Yoga

Sparking the fire of creativity through sound

When I’m inspired creatively, words flow through me like the electricity lights the bulb, as if by magic. When I’m inspired, words light up the pages of my notebooks, my pen tapping to the rhythm of my inner poetry. But when I’m blocked, the page is blank, the ukulele collects dust and the songs lay dormant in my throat.

There was a moment recently where I let the page be blank. I waited for the spark to strike, and I thought to myself, when will this creative block end?

And then I started to sing. Without the spark to, I just started to sing again because I knew it was the right thing to do. I started to sing  & write, and then I started to sing & write everyday. The singing became the spark, and my inner pages lit up again with prose.

Sometimes we wait until the perfect moment to begin a project, to make something happen, or to be happy. Because of our conditioning, we are always waiting for something to come and make us happy.

When people say happiness comes from within, it is not that we’re waiting for the day  happiness crawls out of us like a sleeping giant, but when we feel unhappy, we can do the things that cultivate feelings of happiness. It takes practice. This is why Yoga is a practice.

Yoga teaches us that the only thing constant is change itself. So one day the sun is shining, and we’re happy and the next day there is rain and so we’re gloomy. The uncontrollable forces of nature seem to have so much control over our lives. But I don’t just give away my power that easily anymore.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

I know, as a creative life coach, and vocalist that singing scientifically produces the chemicals and hormones nessecary for feelings of happiness. It’s been proven in many studies that singing brings happiness. So why resist singing? What in us resists happiness?

We tend to hold on to certain conditioning. Our experiences shape us, they leave a lasting mark on our subconscious long after the experience has passed. In Yoga, these mental impressions are known as samskaras. These mental impressions affect the neural pathways of the brain, and habituate us to certain ways of being, and attitudes.

 Samskaras are like deep grooves which keep us walking down the same path. When you’ve gone on a hike that is well known and well hiked, there is a pathway, or a groove in the earth from being walked on many times. This is the samskara. Sometimes we walk down that same pathway without awareness if it is even the best way to go. Traveling off the beaten path is a creative way to move, and takes bravery.  

Our past experiences have created patterns of behavior and as we continually walk those patterns we deepen the groove until we’re walking in a ditch and can’t see our way out. Do we stay in the ditch or do we ask for help? We do not have to stay in any situation or emotional state that feels like being buried. But we may need help in identifying our samskaras, limiting beliefs and unhealthy habits that are preventing us from flowing freely in our creative nature. Sometimes we just need someone to sing with.

Song Circle at My Retreat Yoga Soundscapes in Lake Atitlan Guatemala

I understand that creativity naturally ebbs and flows. But for a singer, too long without singing is like a bird staying too long on the ground. As a human, as a creature of this earth, it is your divine right to both sing and be happy, and so why not do both. Why wait until your neck deep in the sand to decide to change?

Lets jump on a call for free 30 minutes of creative consultation

In this sessions, we will invite in the creative process, and see how we can map out a plan for living your most creative life.

Check out this free gift

Meditate for creativity

Download Your Meditation Guide HERE

The bulb of creativity is shining bright in me once more and I’m ready to hold the light for you to discover how vibrant a life of creativity can be.

Yoga

What Is Yoga Really?

Yoga is an art, science, and psychology. It is a system to guide you into a state of connectedness. I hope by now, we are realizing collectively, that yoga goes beyond throwing ourselves into contorted shapes and showing off our flexibility. Yoga is a philosophy which is ancient and yet intuitive. Yoga is the shamanism of the Hindu tradition, it is healing in nature. Yoga is defined many ways, by many individuals. However, when beginning the examination of Yoga, any sincere student begins with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This 1700 year old book, would be known in the modern world as the “Ultimate Guide to Yoga.”

Yoga is as ancient as humans on earth, and humans have always been curious. Questions like, what is our purpose here, where did this all come from, and how to live this thing called life to the best of our ability, have been pondered about since pondering began. Before books & written word, humans passed down knowledge verbally from teacher to student through stories, songs, mantras & symbols, deep knowledge transpired verbally, tucked away in caves, in tribal communities and in jungles world wide. So the knowledge we receive from ancient wisdom books is actually older than the books themselves.

The Vedas are some of the worlds oldest written knowledge and is regarded as the first collection of sacred, and spiritual texts. These books hold wisdoms, stories & song preserved and passed down to guide the seeker towards self illumination. Yoga is derived from these ancient texts. Luckily for our modern world, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, was written around 400 BC as a collection of the most pertinent information about yoga specifically, and its 8 limbs. There are 196 sutras, and they are sung or chanted in many traditions including by my revered teachers in India & Thailand.

As ancient as these sutras are, it’s as if they were written for our times now. Simply studying the sutras allows us to think deeply on matters that affect our humanity in this day and age. Self discovery is the pathway to understanding the nature of reality. There is no reality without the self to perceive it. And our perception of reality precedes our actions in the world which ripple out into infinite forms.

We lead from what we perceive. If we perceive the world to be a scary, hopeless place, we will react from that perception and vibrate out thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that match a scared and hopeless individual. On the contrary, If we perceive the world to be a land where we are connected, and a part of its wholesome design, then we will naturally vibrate out thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that enhance connection.

Over the next weeks, we will examine together Patanjalis yoga sutras, how they relate to living in this modern world, and how they have related to my life. Through story, song, and creative expression, I hope to bring you a modern take on these ancient inscriptions in a playful and light hearted manner. Follow this journey by joining my mailing list here:

<<The Leela Project’s Mailing List>>

Receive weekly updates on the sutras, and deeper ways to find your own connection to this ancient pathway, and to yourself.

This is a great opportunity for those of you already on my mailing list, to forward this message along. Is there someone in your life who has expressed interest in Yoga, or an interest in understanding themselves deeper? Have you or someone you care about been practicing yoga and want to take the lessons you learn on the mat, into your living reality? The next weeks will be dedicated to bringing this ancient knowledge out through my eyes and wild sense of humor. It could be interesting.

Join my Facebook group << The Leela Project’s sound tribe >> where we act as a sounding board for each other as we chant sutras and talk story about what they mean in our lives.

Creativity, inspiration, sound healing, Yoga

Why Mantras? How chanting can create health and happiness

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Last week we learned about affirmations and how they can help to rewire the neural pathways in the brain for more positive thoughts. This week we’re discussing mantras, what they mean, and how they can serve a mind-body connection for a healthy and happy life.

In Sanskrit, the ancient language of Yoga philosophy and Vedic texts, man means “mind” and tra means “to free”. In the yogic tradition, we chant mantras to free our minds of the ever wavering thoughts and constant chatter.

Since the Sanskrit language arose from India & Hinduism, certain Mantras invoke the qualities of Hindu deities. For example, if you want to call in wealth and abundance you chant to the Goddess Lakshmi. Saraswati is the Goddess of music, words and knowledge, So I begin each day with a chant to Saraswati Ma. Throughout India this is common practice.

For those of us new to Yoga and hanging around mostly in the west, we may need guidance in deciding which qualities need balancing in our lives. And maybe we don’t yet understand which deity is in charge of what. That’s ok, because one thing we all have cross culturally is glands.

The major endocrine glands in the body include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, and adrenal glands. Phew thats a mouth full! When we chant mantras in Sanskrit, the language is designed so beautifully that it creates certain chambers and presses activation points inside our mouths. For example, when your tongue presses up against the top of your mouth, it is known to activate the pituitary gland, which regulates your metabolism. It’s a mouth, body connection!

Repetitive chanting of mantras activates your entire system bringing it into alignment & keeping you healthy. When your body is functioning at its optimal level, your body & brain release dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin the feel good, happiness hormones. Mantras are proven by science to help you feel happy!

We’ll go into more detail into the happiness of sound in a later post, for now, just know that Yogi’s have been chanting mantras since before written word, and the proof is in the practice. You can make the experiment yourself, and see what chanting can do for your own personal health & happiness by joining one of my free mantra meditation challenges given throughout the year.

Join The Leela Project’s Sound Tribe online to find out how to participate in the next challenge.

Next week, we’ll talk about seed mantras, or bija mantras, which are mantras that have no linguistic meaning but can serve to balance your energetic system. Sign up for the Leela Project’s newsletterso you don’t miss a thang!

In the meantime, enjoy Gayatri Mantra sung by your’s truly. The Gayatri mantra is sung for world peace. I believe in peace through connection. Share with someone you wish to connect with today.