KUNGA THEME OF THE MONTH
Saucha – Cleanliness
The first Niyama is saucha, which is taught as – cleanliness – of the body, heart, mind and environment. Saucha/Cleanliness is taught as both inner and outer practices. The outer practice of cleanliness includes keeping our bodies clean with exercise and clean foods. The inner practice of cleanliness has to do with the clarity of our mind. This includes keeping our mind “clean and clear” by limiting exposure to negative thinking patterns, information and influences. Saucha is cleansing the mind of challenging emotions such as jealousy, hatred, passion, anger, pride and greed. Practicing Saucha, we are honest, open and clear in our thoughts, intentions, & actions.
Positive Music with Inspirational Messages
In this month’s Kunga Yoga classes we honor the great invisible yoga teacher of MUSIC! How does inspirational music relate to service!? It offers us many gifts. It has the ability to build community, spreads smiles from ear to ear, moves us to dance, laugh, sing along, and spread joy.
10 Minutes of Meditation
The purpose of meditation is to draw our focus inward, connecting to our inner source. This inward focus can be especially healing to the individual in the West because our culture often encourages and supports an overabundance of outward focused energy and activities. Meditation offers us an activity that is not outward focused, that embraces stillness, quiet, and calm. Through the teachings of Patanjali and many other yogic texts, we are taught that through the stilling of the mind, we are allowed to experience our true nature, as truth, consciousness, bliss (satchitananda). Our goal this month is for our students and teachers to practice 15 minutes of meditation daily (at home or in class), which is 1% of the amount of time we have in our day. At the end of this one month experiment, we recommend journaling to capture your experience. We also recommend the ancient practice of Metta meditation, a contemplation practice of extending loving kindness towards all beings, during this powerful experiment within our community.
Serving Our Planet!
As we continue to use more of the planets resources, we can look at our yoga practice as a wonderful opportunity to reevaluate our connection with the planet and it’s inhabitants. We are taught through the ancient texts of yoga that is our responsibility and duty to care for our planet and each other very consciously. Our challenge is to wake up and see what is unfolding on our planet, under our very noses. The first of the eight limbs of yoga, the yamas, are universal moral principles. These include ahimsa, non-harming of living beings, and aparigraha, not stealing or greedllessness – not consuming more than we need.
10 Minutes of Pranayama
Controlling the power of the breath is the technique of pranayama. ”Prana” is the Sanskrit word for life force. This is the energy that exists everywhere and is manifested in each of us through the breath, but prana isn’t exactly the same thing as breath or oxygen. Prana exists in all living things. It is pure energy. Every cell in our body is controlled by prana. Prana equals life. “Ayama” means a lengthening or restraining. So, putting the words together gives us “pranayama”, with means to master the life force. Pranayama techniques have been practiced for thousands of years, and you will find prana referenced in the Upanishads, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and many other yogic texts.
Aparigraha is the concept of non-possessiveness or non-coveting. The term usually elicits the thought of limiting possessions to what is necessary and important. Aparigraha is the Sanskrit word for greedlessness. It comes from the word parigraha, which means reaching out for something and claiming it for oneself- by adding the “A” it becomes the antonym. Aparigraha means taking what is truly necessary.
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Motivation to Serve
Motivation is a powerful tool for creating lasting personal change and for serving others. The extent to which we can sustain our motivation determines whether or not we realize our life goals for ourselves, and our goals for serving our family, our community, our planet, etc. Yoga teaches that there are three “gunas” or three basic energies that run through the natural world: the energy of rajas – passion & drive, energy of tamas – passivity & inertia, and the energy of sattva – clarity and peacefulness. When “tamasic” energy is high, we often lack motivation, feel stuck, resist change, etc and therefore lose our motivation. In order to cultivate balance for this dulling energy, we work to incorporate more “rajasic” practices, foods, activities in our life so that the drive to create positive change resurges as motivation to serve ourselves and each other. The benefits of motivation are infinite, and can change our lives and the lives around us.