Yoga is NOT stretching in a weird language… or is it?


One of my students told me the other day that he comes to class because he likes to practice yoga asana (the postures) but that he really does it as a means to other things. He is a very dedicated guy, comes regularly and is always centered, even though classes are not as important to him. His comments made me think a lot. Going over our conversation, I remembered something that a teacher said in a lecture I attended years ago: “Yoga is not stretching in Sanskrit” (the ancient language in which all yoga texts were written, currently being used in ceremonies and, according to some scholars, the mother tongue of all Indo-european languages).

Sooo… if yoga is not the physical postures, what is it? and What do we do in a class?

My student was right saying that yoga classes are a “means” for other stuff because, over all, yoga is a path of radical love towards existence and in this context we might approach the practice of physical exercises. As a yogi, be fully aware that your asanas are a small part of your path of self-discovery. They reveal the Divine in you,  in each cell of your body and of your no-body. On the other hand, we shouldn´t underestimate yoga classes or think that they lack on transcendence. Each one is an act of consciousness and a manifestation of your union with Totality.

Yoga classes hold more spiritual value than one might think. To start, a class is a ritual in itself and an offering to the Divine. All of them follow a structure, they are infused with symbolism and rhythm. Why do you think that we chant “OM”, breathe with the intention of opening to something bigger, do certain gestures with the hands or finish up with a contemplation?

A yoga class is the recognition that you are primordially a spiritual Being. You do the effort of recognizing yourself as being Light and energy. You see yourself as something more than flesh and bones and, at the same time, the flesh and bones are also pure spirit materialized. Yogis call it sharira, vessel of Divine Light.

A yoga class is a form of meditation. The typical westerner goes through life surrounded by noise, unnatural products and hardly touching the feet to the Earth or dedicating any time to look at the sky. When you go to yoga class you create a wonderful space where you can be here and now. Social demands and expectations leave you for a while and you connect with you soul, always free and full of peace.

Stretching in Sanskrit might not be the totality of Yoga but it feels great!!!

May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May my thoughts, speech and actions serve everyone´s happiness

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Tierno valor


¿Alguna vez te has paseado por un bosque al comienzo de la Primavera? Ayer mientras preparaba una clase me acordé de los árboles majestuosos que rodeaban mi vida cuando vivía en Estados Unidos. En esta época del año todo se despierta en la Naturaleza de los climas continentales y es cuando los helechos empiezan a brotar. Primero emergen como una pequeña espiral, muy apretada en sí misma, como una gran concentración de energía. Despacio va desenroscándose, expandiéndose hasta que las hojas alcanzan un tamaño enorme. Muchas veces pienso en el coraje que debe tener una pequeña semilla para germinar, empujar sus pequeños tallos y raíces filamentosas a través de la densa tierra y así seguir la llamada del sol hasta convertirse en la más hermosa de las plantas.

La vida es un poco así. El Yoga nos dice que cada alma tiene su propio camino y encierra en sí la trayectoria completa de su existencia, pero casi todos nos encontramos en estado de semilla (aunque nuestros cuerpos físicos digan lo contrario). La luz de la conciencia cultivada en Yoga despierta nuestro deseo de comprensión, igual que el sol incita a las plantas a desplegarse y ofecernos su belleza. Hay que ser muy valiente para romper la cáscara dura que arropa nuestra esencia, pero cuando te toca crecer a lo grande, las circunstancias no son siempre favorables. VIRYA es la cualidad intrínseca del valor que acompaña nuestra práctica.

En el camino de la espiritualidad hay una etapa inicial en la que aprendes mucho, lees, te informas, practicas, meditas y qué se yo la infinitud de cosas que hacemos para evolucionar. Todo eso te prepara, generando un deseo muy profundo de crecimiento interno. Ese deseo de Ser se concentra muchísimo en tu pequeño-gran corazón, tanto que entonces rompe su cáscara y a se expansiona para desarrollar todo su potencial en este cuerpo y en esta vida. La práctica de Yoga es una de las herramientas más potentes pues te fortalece desde el amor y te lleva a traspasar límites y muchas ideas preconcebidas sobre ti mismo (¿quién te iba a decir que harías el pino a los cuarenta?).

El romper y crecer no son momentos fáciles del camino, pero son muy bellos. Si alguna vez has presenciado los comienzos de un helecho, es en esa etapa cuando sus colores verdes son más luminosos, cuando las pequeñas hojas tienen el brillo más especial y la superficie es casi aterciopelada. La ternura, sensibilidad y fuerza interior se combinan en ti para llevarte a la expansión sin límites de tu Ser. ¡Sigue desplegándote con todo el corazón!

Aum Gam Ganapataye Namaha

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Tender courage


Have you ever taken a walk in the forest at the beginning of Spring? Yesterday while I was preparing my class I thought about the magestic trees that surrounded my life when I was living in the USA. Everything wakes up in Nature at this time of the year and it is when ferns start to pop up through the surface of the Earth. First, they emerge as a tiny spiral, very tight in itself, a great amount of super concentrated energy. Slowly they uncurl, expanding until the leaves get huge. Many times I am amazed by the courage that a little seed might have in order to germinate, push its tendrils through the dense soil and follow the calling of the Sun until it can become the most beautiful plant.

Life is a little bit like that. Yoga tells us that each soul has its own path and that it holds within it the information about the trajectory of its whole existence. However, most of us are still in the seed stage (even when our physical bodys might be saying the opposite). The Light of Consciousness awakens our desire to evolve, the same way that the Sun encourages the plants to unfold and offer their beauty to all of us. One must be very brave to break the shell that  holds our truest essence, but remember that you evolve big time when the circumstances are challenging. VEERYA is the inner quality of courage.

In the spiritual path there is an inicial stage when you will learn a lot, read, get informed, practice, meditate and will try an infinite number of things that will help you in your evolution. All of that prapares you for what will come next. It generates a deep desire to grow internally. This desire of fully Being gets concentrated in our little-great heart, so much that it pushes though the shell that covers it. Then it expands, developing your full potential in this lifetime and this body. Yoga is one of the most potent tools because it lovingly strengthens, taking you to overcome many limits and old ideas about yourself (who was going to tell that you would be doing a handstand at forty?).

Breakthroughs and growing times are not necessarily easy, but they are beautiful. If you have ever seen a fern growing, is in the first stages when the greens are more luminous, when the small leaves have the most special shine and the surface is velvety like it will never be again. Tenderness, sensibility and inner strength combine within to take you into the limitless expansion of the Self. Keep pushing with all your heart!

Aum Gam Ganapataye Namaha

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Destiny or random chance? (part 2)


Last week I wrote about karma, the past actions that determine our present and about lila, the mysterious divine play that sometimes turns our lives in unexpected ways. However, Can we change our past and our destiny? to what extent?

I am going to give you another concept to consider: samsara, which is the cycle or “wheel” of existence that repeats itself eternally. We are born, live, die and are born again… The literal meaning of samsara is “that which keep us in the current”. Sara- (or sri-) means current or flow.

Since we want to understand the dance between karma and lila, the first thing that we must ask ourselves is: Existence, is a problem or a definition of Grace? Am I trapped in a labyrinth with no exit OR am I being held by a current that keeps me afloat even in the most challenging times?

How you think about samsara is going to define two different visions of life and yoga:

a. samsara as the wheel of karma. It keeps you trapped in material existence and there is no way out (dualistic yoga). Therefore, samsara is something bad and physical living something to transcend. This vision tells us that material existence is a plane of suffering and that the only place where we can be happy is in another realm beyond this one.

b. samsara as the current that holds you and that has taken you to the evolutionary state in time/space where you are right now. In this vision you are not separated from the rest of the cosmos, which is always full of goodness (non-dualistic yoga). Here material and spiritual existence exist in one another. Our body is divine in itself and not only a vehicle. When we approach reality from this point of view, all that we experience is either a lesson that we had to learn or a test that we had to pass. You trust, knowing that life always brings you what you need to continue growing.

Those of you that know me a little bit will know that I follow the second approach in my life and in my teaching. The tradition that pulsates within me makes me relate to existence as the current that holds and guides me. Because of it I celebrate every moment. I love my past, it makes me who I am today.

In order to be at peace with the past (and transform it) there are a a few things to consider:

1. past events do not make you suffer or be happy. What makes us feel one way or the other is the interpretation of those events. If we change the way we think about the past, we transform the seeds of those karmas.

2. forgive and liberate all that is burdening you and all that makes you suffer. This is a fundamental if you want to continue along your path. Hw do we do that? It is more simple that what it seems: whenever you observe that you are thinking about the past, simply breathe with the intention of transforming and letting go those recurrent thoughts; go back to the present moment awareness and and focus yourself in the fullness of living that you are experiencing now.

3 an attitude of gratitude. If you are reading this post, it is sure that you are a lot more fortunate that the rest of the world. Your living conditions are more or less luxurious (like having internet access among other things…) and there is plenty of stuff that goes well for you, are you considering all that?

In order to understand how we can take the right turns:

1. Live here & now. Breathe life force without the need of judging if something is good or bad, just accept what in in the present moment. Be happy now!

2. Create the proper conditions that will make others happy. Think about the famous ” do unto others as you would…”  shared by all spiritual traditions. The law of cause and effect is quite simple and applies all the time. We can create the causes that will generate the desired consequences for others and for ourselves.

3. Be patient and trust. Many times we fail because we want everything to happen “instant karma” style, but things have their own timing and process. Also, if Divine Grace is always holding us, whatever experience we go through is necessary for our personal evolution, remember?

It is not advisable to let random chance rule our lives, neither it is to have a negative or defeating attitude towards life. I am talking about those prevalent thoughts like “Well, everything is already determined by my karma so there is nothing I can do about it.” This is not true and, YES, there is a lot you can do. It is possible to transform the past and see how a beautiful garden full of colour flourishes in and out.

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Destiny or random chance? (part 1)


One of the things that I like the most is questions. This post is the answer to the following “Could you write about karma and lila? Is there a pre-fixed destiny?” Very interesting subject nowadays but let´s take it easy. First, we must give a definition to each thing.

According to the Yoga traditions, our soul is eternal. It has existed since the beginnings of time and it has assumed different forms throughout. Its existence is cyclical because it follows the eternal process of birth-life-death-rebirth and this process happens according to the law of cause and effect. Now is when the word karma comes into the picture. Karma means action and we tend to use this word referring to all the actions and effects that our Self has experienced until now. Each of those actions is a seed that has the possibility of maturing (or not) depending of the circumstances that surround it. Within this context, we are talking about the past in its broader sense: it includes the life that we are enjoying in this very moment as well as all our past lives (remember that reincarnation lies at the philosophical foundation of Indian spirituality).

Lila is the divine play and it also influences our destiny. I might say that it is the element in life that creates a sudden change, that creates a shift in our personal story or a quantum leap in our evolution.

Let´s consider a simple example. Let´s say that you have a lifetime friend that you have not seen in a really long time. You used to live in the same neighborhood, you went to schools that were really close to each other, later on you happened to meet in college, etc. After that your paths took different roads and for many years each one of you had her own life going on. But all of the sudden, your friend was browsing different social networks with no intention of looking for you and your profile popped up in her screen. Surprise! She decided to send you a message. Well, all that you had in common is due to your karma, to the past actions of your souls. The specific fact about your profile coming up in her screen of her awareness is lila.

Many things in life happen in such way: karma, karma, karma, karma, LILA, karma, karma. Even that spark of divine play that seems to infuse a radical shift in  your destiny is part of the currents of karma because it is going to generate other consequences as well. However, be aware! this doesn´t mean that the Gods are playing dice with our lives! Sometimes it is not easy to see the relationship between things and the causes that created them. Let´s say that there is a cause for everything, even when some times  seems to be buried in the past.

Our present reality is the result of our personal trajectory and the effects of the collective karma. We are where we are because of all that we have lived until now. At the same time, the future will be the result of our present (and past). It works this way… like it or not. I am talking about a universal law here. Can you do something about it? YES. There is a balance between controlling existence through the understanding and application of the law of cause and effect -karma- and flowing with the mystery of the Supreme -lila-. Many seeds mature  in a way that it is easy to see this process; others do it as if everything was random. the later ones we might call syncronicity. Games of destiny that, for a reason that our mind can not really grasp, fill our lives with mystery and magic.

It is the whole of our actions, the awareness behind them and the intention supporting them what makes some bloom and others not. The key is in learning how the laws of karma work and in not missing the ways of lila.

Yes, there is destiny. When you don´t know how it works you make it unchangeable and fixed but, when you understand the mechanics behind it, it is possible to transform it. Since this post is already long, next week I will be writing about how to transform your past (yes, you can!) and about how to take care of the seeds properly so you can change your future path without relying on random chance.

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¿Destino o azar? ( parte 1)


Una de las cosas que más me gusta en el mundo es que me hagan preguntas. Este post es la contestación a lo siguiente “¿podrías hablar de karma y lila? ¿Hay un destino prefijado?” Es un tema muy interesante en estos tiempos, pero vamos por partes. Primero hay que definir cada cosa.

De acuerdo a las tradiciones del Yoga, nuestra alma es eterna. Ha existido desde el comienzo de los tiempos y ha ido tomando diferentes formas. Su existencia es cíclica ya que sigue un proceso de nacimiento-vida-muerte-renacimiento que se sucede eternamente. Ese proceso se hace de acuerdo a la ley de causa y efecto. Y aquí es donde  la palabra karma entra en juego. Karma significa acción y por extensión nos referimos a karma como el conjunto de acciones y efectos que nuestro Ser ha vivido hasta ahora. Cada acción es una semilla que puede madurar o no dependiendo de las circunstancias. En este contexto hablamos del pasado en su acepción más amplia, el que engloba lo hecho en la vida que disfrutamos actualmente así como las vidas pasadas (acordaos de que la reencarnación es parte de la base filosófica de las corrientes espirituales de India).

Lila es el juego divino y también influye en nuestro destino. Se puede decir que es el factor en la vida que hace que las cosas cambien de repente, que nuestra trayectoria dé un giro o que nuestra evolución dé un salto cuántico sin explicación aparente.

Pensemos en un ejemplo. Digamos que tienes un amigo de toda la vida. Vivíais en el mismo barrio, ibais a colegios muy cercanos el uno del otro, más tarde coicidisteis en la universidad, etc. Luego vuestros caminos se separaron y durante muchos años cada uno hizo su vida. De repente un día, tu amigo está husmeando en las redes sociales sin intención de encontrarte y tu perfil aparece en su pantalla. ¡Sorpresa! él decide mandarte un mensaje. Bien pues todo lo que teníais en común se debe a vuestro karma, a las acciones en el pasado de vuestras almas. El hecho puntual de que tu perfil apareciera en la pantalla de su conciencia es lila.

Muchas cosas en la vida suceden de tal manera: karma, karma, karma, karma, LILA, karma, karma.  Incluso esa chispa de juego divino que parece dar un giro radical al destino también forma parte de la corriente del karma porque, a su vez, va a generar nuevas consecuencias. ¡Ojo! porque no es que los dioses estén jugando con nuestro destino como si se echaran una partida de dominó. A veces no es fácil ver la relación entre las cosas y las causas que las generaron. Digamos que para todo hay una causa, aunque se encuentre lejos en el pasado.

Nuestra realidad en el presente es el resultado de la trayectoria personal y de los efectos del karma colectivo. Estamos donde estamos por todo lo que hemos vivido hasta ahora. A su vez, el futuro será el resultado de nuestro presente (y nuestro pasado). Esto es así lo miremos desde donde lo miremos. Se trata de una ley universal. ¿Se puede hacer algo al respecto? SÍ. Hay un equilibrio entre controlar la existencia a través de la comprensión de la ley de causa y efecto -karma- y el dejarnos llevar por el misterio de lo Supremo -lila-. Muchas semillas maduran de manera que podemos ver el proceso con claridad; otras lo hacen sin razón aparente en momentos inesperados. A las últimas las llamamos sincronicidades, juegos del destino que, por algún motivo que nuestra mente no suele comprender, llenan nuestra vida de magia y maravilla. Pero es el conjunto de todas nuestras acciones, de la intención y la conciencia que hay detrás de cada una de ellas lo que hace que unas maduren y florezcan y otras no. La clave está en aprender cómo funcionan las leyes del karma y en estar bien atentos para ver los juegos de lila.

Así que sí hay un destino. Cuando no sabemos cómo funciona lo volvemos rígido e incambiable, pero cuando conocemos sus leyes se vuelve transformable y muy plástico. Como este post ya es bastante largo, la semana que viene os hablaré de cómo transformar el pasado (sí, ¡es posible!) y de cómo sembrar y cuidar las semillas adecuadamente para cambiar nuestra trayectoria futura sin dejar las cosas al azar.

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