I work with Paul Linden, founder of Being in Movement (www.being-in-movement.com) regularly, and will step into the rather large shoes of the man himself, Paul Linden, to guest-lead the next session of “Embodied Methods of Reducing Violence and Injustice” on Feb. 10, Wednesday, from 11:30am-12:30pm MST.
This is an Embodiment Circle, and is free to join; you may donate to Paul to keep his work (and his bad jokes) going! (Donation details in event info below.)
If you’d like to learn the basics of Embodied Peacemaking in a smaller setting, join the special President’s Day “Embodying Power and Love” session on Monday, Feb. 15 at 4pm.
Learn the basics of Embodied Peacemaking, the method developed by Paul Linden (Being in Movement) in this 90-minute, donation-based class. This session is for all humans who wish to reduce violence in themselves and those around them. Learn easy, practical, powerful body-based ways to bring more peace into yourself and the world. No experience needed, only interest.
Most weeks, I teach Monday and Wednesday “Basic Asana + Mindfulness” classes (9:15-10:30am MST), and generally introduce a philosophical concept based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (more on that in another blog post) before we start our practice of asana (postures). If you are lucky enough to request a recording of the class, you’ll get a little overview of the philosophical concept not only in the recording, but also in the “description” which is shown just below the actual YouTube video. Have you joined a class, or, if you’re already an online student, requested a video and read the description recently?
For the past six or so weeks, we have covered concepts from Sutras 1.4 – 1.12, regarding the “fluctuations of the mind”, which are meant to be settled through the practice of yoga. I thought you might like to read, learn, or review them in my words here, as taken from the notes written after each class and posted with the class. I hope this is helpful for you to learn a little about the Yoga Sutras, and to learn about how the mind works, according to the science of yoga. (My writings are based on study of the writings of B.K.S. Iyengar, Nikolai Bachmann, and Alastair Prentice.)
Five types of fluctuations are outlined in the Sutras, and are described below, in relation to the content of each class.
“Pramana”, or correct means of evaluation, means literally, “to measure or gauge what’s in front of us”. Three types of Pramana are described: Pratyaksha, direct perception or firsthand knowledge, based on experience; Anumana, or inference (literally, “measuring after”), meaning to infer information based on what is perceived (where there’s smoke…); and Agama, or reliable testimony from a trusted source. As learners, we move from third to first type (i.e., the teacher tells us about a new concept based on their experience of it, we practice it and we get to know it as our own, and we finally achieve a clear knowledge of the concept through our own experience of it). Pramana can be positive or neutral, if that which is perceived is accurate and does not cause fluctuations in the citta (heart-mind); however, it can also be negative or harmful, if that which is perceived is accurate, but causes fluctuations, such as witnessing a violent event. This can cause illness/suffering, and can create deep, longstanding traumatic patterns. As we practice the postures of yoga, how are we developing our skills of pramana, or correct means of evaluation?
“Viparyaya” means “misunderstanding” or, as Alistair Shearer states in his transliteration of The Yoga Sutras, “Misunderstanding is the delusion that stems from a false impression of reality.” The antidote to misunderstanding is admission of misunderstanding, seeking of clarity, and acceptance of a new, different meaning, aligning with the “pramana” of that which is perceived. In this class, we practiced a variety of extended twisting postures in several relationships to gravity, as well as some ankle and shoulderblade mobility, and put it all together in the spirit of “yoga” (yoking), to investigate the concept of viparyaya. As we work within the asana, we discover where we have misunderstanding, and seek to create clearer understanding of ourselves and our experiences through this dedicated physical practice. Since the body is how we experience the world, it is a great tool for learning about how we relate within, as, and through it.
“Vikalpa” is the third fluctuation of the citta (heart-mind), meaning “imagination” or “delusion”. Vikalpa can be helpful when it leads to new, helpful discoveries and achievements – this is imagination in action – but can be harmful when it is simply turnings of the imagination without a basis in reality or without resulting in a positive action. The physical practice involved basic standing poses, with an overriding theme of expansion without undue effort. Through the physical practice of yoga postures, we determine whether what we imagine we are doing is actually what we are doing or not. The use of the props in our yoga practice often provides concrete, immediate feedback about our delusions, as can the teacher’s feedback, when offered skillfully. This can be quite eye-opening, and requires an open mind to accept new information that may bring us to a different relationship with our reality. Vikalpa is a great indicator of our presence in, relationship to, and widely varying concepts of “reality”.
The fourth fluctuation of the citta (heart-mind), is “nidra”, or sleep. Five types of sleep are defined in yoga writings: waking, dreaming, deep/dreamless, and “turiya”, or beyond sleep. In discussing nidra, we also discussed “rajasic”, or disturbed, sleep, “tamasic”, or lethargic, sleep, and “sattvic”, or clear, sleep, from which we rise fresh. This led to a lively discussion of antidotes for sleeplessness, as most students agreed that they had difficult relationships with sleep. The physical practice involved using props to simply develop awareness and maintain it in a particular place, then practice the same pose without the prop, and discover the difference in our ability, our attention to and our experience of the pose. In the experience of savasana, corpse pose, students follow guidance to bring them into a semi-sleep, a state of sattvic nidra.
The fifth week, we focused on “smrti”, or memory, which is the fifth of the five fluctuations (vrittis, turnings) of the mind. Do we always recall things as they happened, or is our memory of an occurrence sometimes clouded by our emotions, desires, and expectations? The physical practice involved awareness of our backs – that which is behind us – as we consciously created inequality, practicing a long sequence of asymmetrical postures on only one “side”, acknowledging the distortion that resulted, and then taking action to reduce the distortion by completing the sequence on the second side, to create an awareness of where our present meets our past through the practice of twisting poses.
In the last class of this series, we wrapped up our study of the vrittis by returning to Sutra 1.4, which states that “Our essential nature* is generally overshadowed by these fluctuations of the mind”. This sutra precedes the sutras regarding the five vrittis (fluctuations of the mind) which mentioned above. By returning to it here at the end, we brought our attention to not only the activity of our mind, but also to how our thoughts, when directed and focused, can help us achieve a stillness, a settling of the mind into quiet, which allows our turning inward, to glimpse our divinity*. From that inward turning, or “involution”, as B.K.S. Iyengar calls it, we can then turn outward again to take positive action in the world, while not forgetting our true nature*.
Here are the relevant sutras, in order, as translated by Alistair Shearer:
1.4: Our essential nature is usually overshadowed by the activity of the mind.
1.5: There are five types of mental activity. They may or may not cause suffering.
1.6: These five are: understanding, misunderstanding, imagination, sleep, and memory.
1.7: Understanding is correct knowledge based on direct perception, inference, or the reliable testimony of others.
1.8: Misunderstanding is the delusion that stems from a false impression of reality.
1.9: Imagination is thought based on an image conjured up by words, and is without substance.
1.10: Sleep is the mental activity that has as its content the sense of nothingness.
1.11: And memory is the returning to the mind of past experience.
1.12: These five types of mental activity are settled through the practice of yoga and the freedom it bestows.
*”Divinity”, “true nature”, “essential nature”, “seer”, and other terms for Purusha are some slippery concepts that can lead us quickly and easily to the land of viparyaya. They will be discussed in a further writing, along with other topics, so stay tuned! If you will read these, I will keep posting them. Your comments and feedback are welcome, as long as it is constructive.
As you look towards the end of this and the next month, you may visualize quite a different holiday season than you are accustomed to. I know I am.
How easy it might be to sink into sadness and stay there for the remainder of the dark months of this cold season.
But, remember the lights? The ones we turn on in order to read, to see at night, to add brightness outside our homes as well as inside?
Now is the time to turn that light on.
To shine, not only for yourself, but also for those around you, both in- and outside of your household.
Summer was hard, but it was easier – good weather, sunny days, patio time, long evenings outdoors, freedom to roam around the neighborhood, the park, or other favorite outdoor places.
This. is. hard.
So, plug yourself into something nourishing. Do yoga. Dance. Walk around your house and look for something that you haven’t noticed lately. Look around the neighborhood or further out, and see what’s changing, and what’s staying the same. Call friends. Pet your dog, cat, or your own self. Take care of a plant. Drink water, and feel it slide down your throat. Sit back in your chair, put your hands behind your head, and take a deep breath. Close your eyes for a moment. Rest.
That’s right. Rest.
Then, spread that nourishment around a bit. Shine your light. Look for light.
And join one or both of the special online classes below, held on Nov. 28 and Dec. 20.
In fact, bring light to those around you by inviting friends and family to join the classes with you!
Hope to see you there, and that you keep yourself and those around you safe and sound in coming weeks and months.
Saturday, Nov. 28, 10-11:30am MST “Get on Up, Ease on Down” Special Thanksgiving Class After building some heat with active standing poses, we will give in to gravity with restoratives, and finish with mindful, bodyful, quiet sitting. Appropriate for all kinds of people – no yoga experience needed. You’ll need to set up near a wall, and have two large beach towels or firm blankets for this 90-minute online class. Oh, and a device with a reliable wifi connection!
Sunday, Dec. 20, 4:00-5:30pm MST “With Open Arms: Giving and Receiving” Special Solstice Class Join this late-afternoon solstice class to visit with yourself, to spread out your wings and settle into yourself. Rest is a great gift, and, by nourishing ourselves, we can nourish those around us. Appropriate for all kinds of people – no yoga experience needed. For this 90-minute online class, you’ll need two firm blankets or beach towels, a sturdy chair, and a device with a reliable wifi connection!
How to Join: 1) Preregister to receive the Zoom join links for each class. (Links above.) 2) Make a $10-20 donation before or after class: —Click here to donate via PayPal, and select your donation rate. —Donate via Venmo (you must have a Venmo account): @DanaLevyYoga —Contact Dana to arrange another form of payment.
May these classes bring brightness, lightness, and joy…Share with family and friends by sharing this link!
What does it feel like to jump headlong into the future? Looking at the photo here, what do you feel in your body? What thoughts and feelings arise? Notice them! Breathe. Let them move through and with you, as you move through and with them!
Abhyasa – sincere, dedicated practice – and Vairagya – detachment – are the two wings of the bird of Yoga. When they are out of balance, the bird flies unevenly. How are you flying?
Join me for online classes in November. The registration e-mail for this month’s classes is flying to inboxes worldwide. If you’d like to receive it, too, then contact me with your name and e-mail address to be added to the “Dana Levy Yoga Online Yoga Classes” mailing list. More details here.
Dana here. I have been honored to teach at Mindful Yoga Collective since 2016. Mindful is a collective of dedicated teachers led by Charlotte Bell, “with the intention of offering quality yoga instruction in relatively small, personalized classes, by Salt Lake’s most experienced teachers”.
Due to the lingering unsureness of the current situation with COVID-19, Charlotte has decided to close the beautiful space at 223 S. 700E., SLC, effective from September, 2020.
Please read Charlotte’s formal announcement, dated August 29, 2020, here:
I regret to inform you that our beautiful yoga space will be closing at the end of the month. Our first commitment is to provide a safe, healthy environment for our students to practice yoga. Because of the uncertainty around how COVID will play out in the coming months, and when it will be safe to meet again in person, we are unable to maintain our studio space.
We opened Mindful Yoga Collective seven years ago, with the intention of offering quality yoga instruction in relatively small, personalized classes, by Salt Lake’s most experienced teachers. I am ever grateful that we were able to sustain this vision for so many years. I am also grateful for the support of the teachers and students whose committed practice helped create such a welcoming and peaceful environment.
All of the yoga teachers at MYC are currently offering classes on Zoom. We hope to reconvene in a new space when it is safe to meet again in person. Sometime soon, I will reconfigure our website so that it’s easy for you to find our classes.
Thank you again for your generous support of our vision. It has been an honor to share the practice we love with all of you. Here’s hoping we will be able to meet in person again soon.
For the time being, we have no dedicated physical space for teaching; however, we hope that, in future, we will be able to do so. If you have suggestions or ideas, please feel free to contact me here.
Join this one-hour asana class to quickly and effectively come home to your body in the late-afternoon. For all levels and abilities of practitioner. (For this class, you USUALLY need a yoga mat, one firm blanket, two sturdy blocks, and a belt; however, during the month of August, just bring yourself!)
*This class is free during August to all members of the Dana Levy Yoga Mailing List. Contact Dana to add your name and receive the registration link for August “Afternoon Asana Reset” classes!
Join Dana and four experienced colleagues for “Exploring Embodied Yoga Principles”, a five-week Online Embodiment Circle
Dates: May 26, June 2, June 9, June 16, June 23 from 5:30-6:30pm MST
Join this Online Embodiment Circle to learn how to use simple postures to gain deep personal insight. Hosted by certified Embodied Yoga Principles (EYP) teachers, this circle is a combination of movement and facilitated sharing, with a different theme each week. Take time to have an embodied conversation with yourself, and learn skills to apply in daily life. No yoga experience needed; this is yoga for your life, not for your hamstrings!
Week 1 (5/26) – A Taste of EYP, hosted by Sarah Liljegren. What is embodied yoga principles and how is it different than regular yoga? How can EYP help me better understand myself?
Week 2 (6/2) – Desire & Avoidance, hosted by Patricia Aguirre. Where do you stand regarding your desires? What can you learn about yourself from what you avoid?
Week 3 (6/9) – Momentum in Monotony, hosted by Hannah Bose. What is your relationship to being stuck and breaking through? How do you gain and maintain momentum in life?
Week 4 (6/16) – Radial Ease, hosted by Sarah Martin. What is the quality of your Effort and your relationship to Ease? How can you choose what best serves you?
Week 5 (6/23) – Beginnings as Endings, hosted by Dana Levy. How you do prepare for “the next thing”? What is your relationship to leaving things behind and moving forward?
INFO ABOUT EMBODIMENT CIRCLES:
Embodiment Circles support well-being, learning and connection and are free to all. If you’d like to be with others in a positive virtual environment, reduce your stress, and move a little to support your health, then join in.
Circles are pragmatic and accessible, with no spiritual or political agenda. They and are not therapy, healing, religious, etc. Circles are most often fun, surprisingly touching, and really useful during stressful isolating times.
All groups are on Zoom and hosted by experienced practitioners. They are free of charge: hosts are free to ask for donations, and you are free not to contribute.
FROM MAY 26, ONLINE EMBODIMENT CIRCLES CONTINUE IN A NEW FORMAT! DETAILS TO BE ANNOUNCED IN A NEW POST BY MAY 22!!
Thank you for eight great weeks. A special shout-out to the colleagues who helped make each circle roll, and to the great participants!
WHAT ARE “EMBODIMENT CIRCLES ONLINE”?
This is the one-hour Zoom meeting each week that you didn’t know you needed. Joining a circle may inspire, connect, and embody you, give you new friends, ideas, and sense of yourself beyond the rectangle of the screen. Don’t be a square! Join a Circle to find out – we’d love to have you!
REGISTER IN ADVANCE!Once you receive the Zoom link, you can use it to join ANY Embodiment Circle, ANYWHERE in the world! Schedule posted on the Embodiment Circle page where you register. Be sure to correlate the time zone, though! https://embodimentcircle.com/embodiment-circle-online
I host a Wednesday afternoon Embodiment Circle through mid-May, and would love to connect with you and your community. Co-host, mindfulness leader and movement leader to be announced weekly here, on Facebook, and elsewhere!
“Embodiment Circles Online” are free, worldwide events with one-hour Circles being held in a multitude of time zones in several languages every day of the week, allowing participants to meet via the Zoom platform and connect through embodied practices including non-dogmatic mindfulness, easeful movement, and facilitated sharing* to create embodied connection and well-being. Share the link, and invite your community to join!
FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS EVENT, AS WE ALL NEED CONNECTION, MOVEMENT, and MINDFULNESS AT THIS TIME! (Plus, it’s free.)
*The Circles are meant for adults. While we understand that you may be at home with your children, we recommend that you wear headphones for privacy if sharing the space with the kiddos. Thanks for your understanding. However, if you’re interested, Carrie Paolo is offering Embodiment Circles for Teens!
“Embodiment Circles Online” are free, worldwide events with one-hour Circles being held in a multitude of time zones in several languages every day of the week, allowing participants to meet via the Zoom platform and connect through embodied practices including non-dogmatic mindfulness, easeful movement, and facilitated sharing*.
Starting on March 25 and continuing for the next 8 weeks, I’m hosting every Wednesday in the late afternoon, and would love to connect with you. Registration info below! (Please note the time change from April 1!)
March 25: Weds 5:00-6:00pm MDT
Co-host: Carrie Paolo
Mindfulness: Michael Gates
Movement: Erin Rabke
April 1 onward: Weds 4:00-5:00pm MDT
Co-host, mindfulness leader and movement leader to be announced weekly!
FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS EVENT, AS WE ALL NEED CONNECTION, MOVEMENT, and MINDFULNESS AT THIS TIME! (Plus, it’s free.)
*The Circles are meant for adults. While we understand that you may be at home with your children, we recommend that you wear headphones for privacy if sharing the space with the kiddos. Thanks for your understanding.