About chitracanada

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far chitracanada has created 102 blog entries.

Pranayama: Transition into Stillness

A student in a stress management course once commented, “I just don’t have time for a Yoga practice.”  My co-teacher responded, “Do you have time to breathe?” Even slow, deep breathing is a Pranayama practice that can be done almost anywhere, anytime, by anyone and has numerous benefits.  It interrupts the stressful reactions we have to difficulty, and sends a message to the whole body to relax.

Pranayama is the fourth of the eight limbs given in the Yoga Sutras, and refers to breathing practices done to extend or bring control over the subtle, vital energies that animate all movement and thought.  Whenever the mind is agitated, the breath also becomes agitated.  Conversely, when the breath becomes smooth, deep and steady, the nervous system is calmed, prana flows more freely and fully, and the mind is influenced to become energized, balanced and serene.

We decided to focus on Pranayama in October to help us transition from the more active summer months to the seasons of shorter days and growing darkness.  In this age of sensory overload from all of the devices we use, a practice like Pranayama is especially needed.  Focusing our attention inward on the breath is one of the most effective ways to shift from externally oriented attention, drawn outward by rapid-fire images, to an inner awareness that allows us to plumb the depths of our being.

There are many ways of practicing Pranayama, all of which are done to create a relaxed alertness in both body and mind.  I encourage everyone to spend at least 5 minutes in the morning doing some rapid breathing, kapalabhati, to energize the body and encourage prana into the upper chakras. Then, I recommend 5 more minutes doing slow deep breathing through alternate nostrils, nadi suddhi, which balances the flow of that subtle energy and steadies the mind.  

Only with a clear, calm mind can we hope to have enough refined awareness to free ourselves from all the movement in the mind that so convincingly feel like who we are. Even a few moments of disengaging ourselves from the gravity of these habitual thoughts, allows us to rise above the superficial layers of the mind, and taste the deeper sources of contentment and peace within.

2017-10-03T23:23:27+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Comments Off on Pranayama: Transition into Stillness

The Essence of Compassion

Ultimately, compassion represents a shift from me-centered to we-centered thinking, and the realization that loving others is loving yourself.  My teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda, beautifully articulates this essential truth when he says, “Real love is possible only when you see everything as your own expression.  All others are none other than you; they just appear to be different.  We always need to go beyond the name and form.  When we rise above the worldly limitations, we will find that the essence is the same.”

2017-09-19T20:38:31+00:00 September 28th, 2017|Comments Off on The Essence of Compassion

A Spiritual Response to World Events

I believe our practice of compassionate action is much more potent when seen in the context of the condition of our world, our communities and our homes. Everyday choices, as well as our long term goals, take on new relevance when we realize that each action and every focused thought is a tangible contribution to the collective consciousness of our planet.

We may not be able to negotiate peace settlements or end world hunger, but we can each take concrete steps to volunteer our time right where we are. We can offer free Yoga classes, serve in a soup kitchen, tutor disadvantaged children or reach out in myriad ways to those in need.

​Serving in these ways is a natural expression of compassion and arises from the recognition of our interdependence with all of life. Actions performed with genuine care for others are healing for our hearts, and we find joy in giving rather than looking for a reward or outcome. This is how we really bring our Yoga practice to life.​

2017-09-19T20:26:45+00:00 September 25th, 2017|Comments Off on A Spiritual Response to World Events

You Are That Immortal Soul

“Unless we realize our own true nature, unless we become aware of our spiritual reality, our life’s purpose is not fulfilled.  The main goal behind all these searches and approaches and actions is to realize our true nature, to realize the Self, the God within, and thus to realize that everything is the expression of that same Spirit.”
Sri Swami Satchidananda

2017-09-22T02:58:54+00:00 September 22nd, 2017|Comments Off on You Are That Immortal Soul