yoga sutras

Yoga: You Are More Than Your Thoughts

Who am I

Who am I? The question of enlightenment.

Ask yourself this enough, and the light will surly shine. We can ponder this question into the depths of eternity, or we can take a look at what Yoga has to say.

The first 4 Sutras of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, are for the advanced practitioner, for those whom which this question begs to be answered.

I’ve written about the first 3 sutras here:

1. Now begins the study of yoga
2. Yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind
3. Then the seer resides in his own true nature

And here is my examination of Sutra 1.4:

Yoga Sutra 1.4 Vritti sarupym itiratra
Otherwise, the seer takes on thought forms as identity

Who are we if not our identities?

You are the seer, all that you experience in this reality is one vibrating energy, vibrating at different frequencies of density creating forms, matter, thought & emotions. With our senses, we experience trees, & with our senses we experience emotions. We do not call ourselves a tree or a house, and yet we call ourselves depressed, tired, angry, & jealous. We literally say, “I am angry,” or “I am a jealous person.” These claims of “I am’s”, are simply rather, states of being. Like clouds form shapes on the sky, move, picking up the atmosphere and pouring down rain, we are more like clouds, changing shape, collecting and pouring out… but we do not say, “I am a cloud”. So why do we say I am angry?

It is more accurate to say, in this moment, I am feeling the state of anger. And that can be true and fine. It’s not that yoga asks us never to feel angry, but to recognize that a feeling state is there for a moment, it’s not who we are.

Anger, sadness, regret, happiness, joy, & the feeling state of romantic love are impermanent. These states deliver sensations to the body, they deliver a message, but they are not your identity. As I wrote about HERE discussing Sutra 1.3, your true nature is beyond one state of being that easily comes and goes. Who we are under our identifications, is eternal & as my teacher says self illuminate.

Our true nature, is hard to put into words, but my dharma asks me to try. Our true nature is accessible always, we walk within our true nature, when we breathe we are it, and we are always breathing. We are always processing, emitting, and transmuting energy unconsciously. We are vibratory beings immersed in the song of the universe. We do not have to do anything to be this, we are already this. When we lean into this, rest into our own divine nature, the things we struggle to know, appear to us as a deeply satisfying feeling.

When we let go of identifying with all that we think we are, we rest in all that we actually are.

So let’s practice at resting in our divine nature. Allowing the song of life to move through us. This is a medicine song coming from South America. Sit and listen to the beat of the drum, allow the words to wash over you and without attachment or judgement simply allow yourself to deeply listen. Before listening, you may want to take a few deeper breaths to prepare yourself for relaxation. Simply allow, and when the video finishes stay in a quiet place and tune in to how you feel, any shifts taking place, and stay relaxed bringing this sense of wholeness into the rest of your day.

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yoga sutras

Reside in your truest form through Yoga

Reside in your own true nature

तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम् 

tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe-‘vasthānam 

Translation: Then the seer resides in her own true form

Sutra number 1.3 So auspicious, so deep, translated by many, and now by me.

For who is the seer anyhow?

The first chapter of the Yoga Sutras tell the story of yoga, one leading seamlessly into the other.

1.1 Now begins the study of yoga
1.2 Yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind
1.3 Then the seer resides in his own true nature

We see here, the third sutra is reflecting the affects of this practice we call Yoga. When you practice Yoga, calming the fluctuations of the mind, you will reside in your own true nature.

Yoga is basically practicing at being what you already are. That is not as easy as it sounds. What you truly are vs. what you, and others have built you up to be, are different things. We all have roles, desires and goals and all those things seem to make up a life. Sometimes we attach so deeply to our roles, desires and goals that we distract ourselves from experiencing a state of bliss that is profound and yet simply our natural state of being.

When there is no heavy influence of distraction, of outside noise, or wavering thought forms, all that is left is the still beingness.

When we practice at being still, we glimpse these states of bliss. It’s like the moment upon first awakening from sleep when you are simply there. The world has not shown itself in all its forms, your todos have not yet crept into your mind and you are simply waking. The waking state is a state of consciousness that simply is, and then in comes the flood of remembering that you are human.

Maybe you have an emotion or a driving force that pulls you to your feet, or maybe the dreaded alarm is blaring and you begin your day in alert mode. Our natural selves want to wake with the sun and the sound of the birds. If you wake naturally enough times, and let yourself fully arrive in your body before jerking out of bed, waking to an alarm begins to seem odd.

Meditating gives us a space where we have the opportunity to simply be, and if we do that enough the being becomes more natural than the doing.

It’s hard sometimes to accept that we can do nothing. And I don’t mean the watching TV kind of doing nothing… that is encouraged in our society. I’m talking about the yoga kind of being; residing in the space of you where you are clear and free, a space where the thoughts do not move you, and you let go and rest in a state of being.

In our western society we do not appreciate just being still. We need to let go of the assumption that we are not doing enough. Sometimes I simply sit in the forest and look at a tree. Without judgement of the tree, without wondering about myself in relation to the tree, I simply allow the tree to envelope my visual sense and then -poof- I am just there for a moment residing in my true nature. This doesn’t last for long before I am judging myself that I should be doing something.

I should be writing, planning or creating right? I should be tackling things on my to do list, or molding myself into a better person! But it is in these moments of non doing that I realize that I am creation itself. There is no more to do or not do, and from this place of still beingness, I decide to do some things because life is a great adventure full of cool stuff to do. I desire to bring my personality out into the world, but then my personality, and all that I do come from a different vibe, the vibe of a zest for life, for adventure, & connection. My doing has sprouted from a place of simply being instead of from an outside driving force, what I think is expected of me, or any expectations I put on myself. The world becomes a curious place to play in rather than a set of accomplishments to get done.

The more we practice yoga, the more we experience our true selves. Our true selves do not need labels or roles. Our truest form has nothing to prove or no agenda to ascribe to.

This is the type of yoga we will be practicing at my retreat in Guatemala. Come get a glimpse of your true self. Be as you are, discover your authentic self in a sacred space created for transformation.

The transformation is really like a butterfly in his cacoon. The catapiller was always already a butterfly, he just had to rest for a moment, swaddled, lose himself, turn to mush and emerge to fly higher with a new perspective.

Please share to spread this message like the butterfly spreads its wings.

yoga sutras

Yoga Is The Calming of The Fluctuations of The Mind

Yoga Sutra 1.2What is YOGA?


Translation: Yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind.

Our mind, and all its components, the conscious, sub-conscious, and unconscious, move like waves in a storm. Yoga is the calm eye of that storm, where the stillness pervades and all is quietly wading in the peaceful waters.

I wrote last week about sutra number one, and how profound this sutra is. You can read here, As a quick, reflection, we now know that yoga is a spiritual path to lead you to enlightenment. When you are fully present, you are engaged in yoga. The divine is you, and you the divine. So, if this is already the case, why do we bother with yoga, or spirituality, or practice at all? We are always connected to divine source, we are spiritual in nature, and enlightenment is within us, so let’s just quit this seeking then right?

Well… It is also true, that we don’t always feel divine. I can admit, I myself, sometimes feel like a mess. A beautiful, & powerful mess.

Do you ever feel that way? This might be why Sage Patanjali so kindly continued his description of yoga, and didn’t leave us with… You are always already doing the Yoga.

We are so caught up with our mind stuff, our emotions, our stories, & our everyday shit, that we need practice to condition ourselves to presence. Divinity, Enlightenment, & connection are all states that exist in the present, but often we are worrying about the future, or remember our past. Yoga is the calming of these seemingly never ending waves of thought.

Through a daily yoga practice, we experience deeper presence. Yoga postures may have brought you this sense of presence. It is often a calm & peaceful feeling to be guided and focused on our bodies and the sensations we are experiencing as we dance between stillness and movement.

Today I would like to offer you 3 practices to experience off your mat to help calm the fluctuations of the mind.

3 ways to find presence in the now.

1. Sit and watch your thoughts.
It seems counter intuitive that if yoga is ceasing the fluctuations of thoughts, that you would spend time and attention on your thoughts. But this is the beginning stages. For some of us, when we first start to meditate, it is unbelievable to even be aware of how fast our minds are processing information. It’s almost something to be proud of in this society. I have not mastered meditation, in a traditional sense. I have not ceased my thoughts completely, but that is not the point of this exercise and that’s not where I’m at, (& PS that’s ok). Everyday, I sit, and I watch my thoughts without judgement and I try not to hold on. I return to my breath, because I am for sure always breathing.

Would you like to get started? I created a beginners guide to meditation:

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2. Vocal toning
Did you know everything in our reality is vibrating? Everything at its most subtle form is a sound. When I am sounding, also known as toning, I am very present, and afterwards I notice less thoughts and an overall feeling of calmness. Toning is also known to have a balancing effect on your chakras, the energetic system of Yoga which link your physical body to your etheric, energetic body. Watch the video here to tone with me to the heart chakra to see how you feel.

3. Stare at a flower
I learned this technique from Ekhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, and famous spiritual speaker. Being in nature in general has a calming effect on the body, and psyche. And even more profound, gazing into the spiritual eye of a flower, can bring a sense of presence. Without attachment, or judgement of the flower simply look and acknowledge how present the flower is. Flowers have the capacity to remind us of our own presence and beauty. Do this practice for at least 3 minutes allowing the fullness of the moment. Slow down, simply be present and allow the divine to reside In the moment.

There are many ways to bring presence into your life, I’d like to hear from you. Comment with a practice that you’ve noticed allows your mind to rest in the now.


If you would like to be guided towards presence, divinity, and heart centered living, join me on my 5 night 6 day retreat on a sanctuary in Lake Atitlan, San Marcos, Guatemala. Through yoga asana, sacred sound, & ceremony we will dance with the divine in each one of us, dive into matters of the heart, and relax into the creative flow of life.


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:

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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.