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Yoga is my life

Yoga and it’s transformative power. OM Shanti

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IMG_2673This is my expression of the universal love of Yoga. It is transformative and life changing in the everyday you are a new you. I have been practicing for the last 14 yrs and as of the last 3 Years I have been on a mission to bring Yoga to the Bronx community and to other underserved communities. It is my honor to touch the lives of so many people and give them a little thought of change via my talk in class. I have heard that when I teach it sounds like a sermon. Thanks for such a compliment as it is my goal to get people to wake up and become more conscience of the divine being they are and how to tap into it. Yoga is the tool.

Yoga has helped me to make major changes in my life. I have gone from being a person living on edge and indulged in negative activities, which I will detail at another time. I grew up this tough Puerto Rican kid on the Lower East Side on NYC. I was raised in the NYCHA housing projects, surrounded by drugs and violence without a male role model or mentor to guide me in the right direction. I learned mostly from the streets and the hard ass concrete. It wasn’t college degree information I was obtaining, just pure negative survival skill 101. I was raised by my mother (left her earth body)who had a 3rd grade education and had to provide for my 3 siblings and I.  I came to NYC at age of 7 and remembered my first snow storm living in Bklyn with the train running outside the apartment window and it was loud. I went to school and was always told that I was very intelligent but, the streets got the best of me. I will rephrase that as the streets took the best years of my life.

I learned about stay fit by working out and doing calisthenics. I gained a nice size build in my body and looked pretty intimidating. I later in my years was introduced to Yoga and I got high from it. I was hooked and kept doing it to this date. Yoga helped me avoid a back operation and trust me, I am very grateful. I became a vegan but I started to lose weight and my face looked too thin so, I started to eat chicken and seafood. I support vegans and it a healthy lifestyle for some. it is not for everyone, this is my opinion. Hey, I am a yogi, I stated my mind and do my research so I recommend that if you don’t agree with something I state, do the research for yourself and make your own conclusion. OM Shanti. I then started to feel good eating some animal products and still do today. I do eat only organic food. Now I want to share my love for Yoga with others who don’t know about it and the power we have inside to make a inner change that will affect the outside world.IMG_0311

Be your True Self! Because everyone is already taken.

I love to see the transformational look on the faces of students. When they are sweaty and in the practice of getting into the poses with reverence. There is a glow of energy seeping out of them.  I recognize it even in my own practice. I tell them to find ease in the poses because that is what is call Sukha.

I am known to hold the poses and sometimes described as warrior like torture. I tell them that it is about the journey inward to the True Self and time must be invested in the pose to get there. My intention is always to get people to connect back to their bodies, to break the disconnect and identify themselves as who they really are. Not who society or culture, parents, friends or anyone else wants them to be. It is said that it is not easy to be yourself, this is such bullshit because you already are yourself, the hard part is when you are acting like someone else. The myth of being like the Jones, you can’t be anyone else other than yourself. So Fuck the Jones and be true to yourself.  This is easier than you think. Just pay attention to how you feel and think about your feelings, ask yourself why am I feeling this way? and then take action, when you know what the feeling is all about.  The true action is Feel, Think and ACT, this way you know what you are doing and staying true to yourself.

If you are living a lie and trying daily to impress or please others, for the sake of looking better in their eyes or to be popular.  You are practicing the opposite of ease which is Dukha meaning misery.  Putting in all the work it takes to please or impress others is exhausting and not worth it, because you are losing yourself in the wrong labor.  I will keep this short because you know acting like someone you re not is not easy. I don’t have to tell you that.

IMG_1190On the other hand, I will remind you of the benefit of being yourself. You become happy and you feel so much lighter. You take better care of yourself and yes this kind of selfishness is good.  It doesn’t mean being mean or neglecting others. It means taking care of you, so that you may take care of others, especially the ones you Love. Inside you there is a source of power and change. You have so much greatness inside of you, you just have to go inside and get it. Inside, you have the 5 Elements, Yes! Air, water, Earth, Fire and Space. They are all inside of you.  The most needed is Air for without it we die.  Know that you are made of some really powerful ingredients for sure. You are a work of ART! SO can you stop bullshitting yourself and start appreciating who you are. Start taking better care of yourself.  Get on a Yoga Mat and Practice Self Care or get to a Yoga Class, especially Mine!

How I met Yoga and fell in Love.

It was 13 years ago, when I first walked into a Yoga class. I was brought there by a very wonderful woman I was dating at the time.  It all started at Integral Yoga in the West Village of NYC. Yes, I have to give them their due recognition. I have found out over the years that a lot of top teachers in NYC have start out there as well. Highly recommended for beginners.

Ok first, let me tell you about my frame of mind and thinking at that time. I was into health and keeping my body in great shape. I was this tough, big body Puerto Rican man from the Lower East Side, NYC. I could write about my experience growing up there too, when it was called the Drug Supermarket of the world.  “Just Say NO” started there coined by Nancy Reagan.

Being big with muscles and growing up with Machismo, (the Latin myth about how a man should be or conduct himself).  My thoughts were stereotypical. Yoga is for Gay men or skinny white women, not for tough guys from the Hood. (No offense to anyone).

So I went against my thoughts just out of trust for the woman I was with.  I trusted her with my life, as she, me with hers. I walked into this studio in shorts and a tee shirt, rolled out a mat. (language I would not have used then, LOL) I watched her and followed her lead. I was surprised instantly and to this day, I recall the teacher walked in said hello, went to the front of the class and from standing went straight down into a Lotus pose. I was fucking impressed and a little intimidated but I could not show the latter. I had to keep my tough guy image.

The class went well and all I can remember to this day is that I walked out of the studio hit the sidewalk and felt like I was floating. Yes, I guess that is what the Yogis say is levitating.  I told my girlfriend, when she asked me how I felt. “I am High, this is a free high, I want more.” I have been practicing ever since, Yoga has become my life. When my relationship of many years ended, Yoga kept me together.

I have seen many changes in my life and learned many things about myself. I am still learning everyday because I am a student of Yoga. I have seen so much and my eyes have been opened to life as never before. I am awakening from the sleep and benefiting  greatly from my practice of Yoga.

Today, I am an instructor and enjoy very much to share the Love of Yoga with anyone and everyone. Sometimes, it happens in conversation but I enjoy most when it happens on the Mat.  I feel so alive and connected to other people when I teach classes.

I tell you it is a blessing to come from where I came from and to be where I am today.

Yoga is for all and we are all one, meaning we are connected regardless of belief, color or   language.

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Breath is the LIFE Force.

The breath truly is the key in moving distractions from the mind.
What is Pranayama?
Pranayama is the fourth limb of the eightfold path of yoga. Prana is the vital life force and energy that runs through our body. This beautiful energy is constantly flowing through us, and through all living beings.

The quality of our breath determines the quality of our lives, and many yogis believed that the length of one’s life is determined by number of breaths, not by number of years. The deeper you breathe, the longer you can live.
Pranayama is the act of controlling and directing this energy, namely by controlling the flow of breath. Pranayama involves many different breathing techniques that aim at slightly different results.

We can use the breath to calm and balance ourselves, to energize the body and the mind, to cool or heat the body, but it always aims at promoting and maintaining our overall health.

The Effects of Pranayama Practice

When we can control the breath, we can control the mind. If the mind is anxious, usually the breath tends to be shallow and fast, which in turn sends a signal to the nervous system that something is wrong.
By focusing and deliberately guiding and controlling the breath, we can send a signal to the nervous system that we are safe, everything is ok. This creates a place of peace and calm for the mind, the body relaxes and we receive space for concentration and meditation.
Physically, Pranayama is supporting the respiratory system by keeping it strong. We can also greatly influence the heart rate by controlling the breath. Long, steady breaths in and out for a period of time will slow down the heart rate and keep us in greater balance.

Pranayama goes together with asana practice and together they are considered to be the highest form of purification for the body and the mind.
How to Practice Pranayama in Your Daily Life?
When we start to practice Pranayama, it’s good to remember that we should never become breathless or anxious as we practice. Start slowly, and become aware of your breath in different situations in daily life.
If you are nervous or anxious, bring your awareness onto your breath and start to lengthen it. Make the exhale slightly longer than the inhale, and continue for few minutes. Observe the difference in the mind and the body.
As you are engaged in asana practice, you can keep your awareness in your breath. Try to keep the breath steady and long, and let the breath support you in the more challenging poses by making it deeper. When we bring more fresh air into the body, we bring more oxygen into the organs.
Study with your yoga teacher the different breathing techniques and explore their effects on you.

IMG_0311In its essence, Pranayama is easy to do in any place, any time. You can practice as you are sitting in a bus, or at your desk at work. Just a few minutes at a time, just a few controlled breaths at a time.

Sharing healthy stuff for all.

I will be sharing information that I have on health and Yoga. So that everyone who reads my blog will take away something to improve their quality of life.
Some people see it as a question…yoga or the gym — which is better? Is there really a question in there?

IMG_0311There are about a gazillion reasons a yoga class is better. And here are 15 of them:

1. Yoga benefits the mind, body and spirit.
Yoga will help tone your body but while it’s doing that, it also helps you to be truly in the moment and infuses your spirit with positive energy. A gym workout is focused primarily on improving your body’s physical condition.
2. Yoga benefits your full body—externally and internally.
The twisting, stretching and folding of a yoga practice are good for the digestive system, the circulatory system, the lymph system and more. It’s a great way to detox the body and can improve your cardiovascular system. And all this while developing stronger muscles. A gym workout is focused just on strengthening muscles and boosting cardio.
3. Yoga teaches acceptance.
Yoga helps you believe you’re perfect the way you are—with your strengths and your weaknesses. It’s true what they say — yoga is not about self-improvement, it’s about self-acceptance. Gym classes, especially boot camp style classes, are more likely to have you feeling like a failure if you can’t do everything.
4. Yoga is about focusing on yourself.
Many yoga studios don’t even have mirrors so you’re forced to think about where your body is and what each muscle and limb is doing, whereas gym classes have mirrors for you to see—and worry about—what everyone else is doing.
5. Yoga will make you lean.
By stretching your muscles as you’re strengthening them, your body will take on a leaner appearance. A gym workout filled with weights will cause your muscles to bulk up.
6. Yoga is more efficient.
Yoga relies on your own—your entire body—for strengthening. Gym classes use weights and other equipment. Through different asanas, your full body becomes toned and stronger by using your own entire body weight as ‘weights’. By using only weights or other equipment, muscles are isolated and have to be worked individually in order to benefit, which takes a whole lot more time.
7. You can do yoga anywhere.
Yoga is a different experience in a yoga studio, but you can easily practice yoga at home, outside or in small spaces. All you need is about 6 feet by 4 feet and you have your own yoga studio. A gym workout requires more equipment and more space.
8. Yoga is kinder to the body.
This does not mean yoga is not intense. Just ask anyone who practices Ashtanga. Yoga builds heat and works your muscles, but you’re doing what your body allows you to do and not attempting to lift weights and pound on the joints—both of which can cause injury. Yoga also stretches as you move through the postures and a good yoga practice builds on itself to prepare the body for the next position.
9. Yoga eases your aches and pains.
A gym workout increases them. Yoga slowly stretches muscles and opens the energy channels of the body. The increased flexibility keeps muscles and joints lubricated and healthy. Weights and treadmill can cause strain which leads to soreness and injuries.
10. Yoga helps you breathe easier.
During times of stress, it’s easy to forget to breathe—really breathe, and not just shallow breaths. Without deep breaths, it’s harder to think clearly and fatigue can set in. Yoga focuses on the breath so that when you need it most, those deep breaths are the norm.
11. Yoga is calming.
We move through practice with a calm, relaxed expression. No grunting, no dropping weights, no clenched teeth or grimacing expressions like you see from gym-goers. The overall intention is to release tension throughout the body and mind.
12. Yoga reduces stress.
Many yoga classes include meditation, or at least Savasana. It gives you a chance to clear the mind of the stresses of the day. With practice, stressful situations can be dealt with more easily and overall stress levels decrease. The competitive nature of a gym along with the loud music and bright lights is more likely to increase your stress.
13. Everyone can practice yoga.
No matter your age or your health, you can practice yoga. Yoga has even been found to help people who have health ailments ranging from Parkinson’s to cancer. Gym workouts, in general, are not designed to be therapeutic, or senior-friendly.
14. Yoga improves concentration.
During a yoga practice, you focus on the breath, the posture and the gaze. Outside distractions are tuned out. While you can try and do this at the gym, this focus and silence is not exactly encouraged with all the other distractions around, like loud music, TVs, etc.
15. Yogis rock.
We’re a happy bunch! Wouldn’t you rather be around smiling, happy people? You’ll get to be in an environment where people accept your, and everyone else’s, curves and edges. There’s no talk of who held what pose longer, no sense of competition. It’s always good vibes all around!

A birthday alone.

It was an interesting day for me, My Birthday. I woke up and just gave thanks for that. I did not have a celebration plan nor was there anyone who planned one for me. I have been single for 4 yrs and there isn’t a partner in my life which, I do miss. I just understand that settling is a good thing, it has to be with the right person. OK, I guess I got off to the relationship piece that affects me. Yes, I do feel alone sometimes. My day went like this,I went to the beach and set up my blanket brought some fruits and water. I sat, read and swim, this was calming and relaxing. I watched people go about hanging in the sun and enjoying the NYC beach life. I did not feel alone, I just learned from the practice of Yoga how to be happy by yourself if what you are doing is good for you. I also remember or practice from the reading books by Osho which are very insightful on life. I love a quote from him: “life is to be celebrated.” so everyday, I try to make it the best day ever cause life is sure to end one day for the physical body. Yes like most Yogis, I believe that I am not the body or the mind, I am the energy that lives in the body, which like Prana, I like to call it the Life Force. I received a lot of wishes on Facebook and that was nice. I looked at the people I know in real life and only a few sent wishes. Does that mean, I don’t have friends and family, I have a couple of family members and no close friends.  Most of the people I know, are from Yoga. The reason for no friends is due to my past behaviors and patterns of behaviors. I grew up with the streets of NYC being my educator and no male role model. I was with the wrong crowd doing the wrong things. This took many years of my life away. I will write about that some other time. This is about my birthday, I did not have anyone call me and say “hey what are you doing to you want to hang out?”this would have been nice. But is no my reality at the present. I had a clam and peaceful day with myself and knowing I am a good hearted, caring and compassionate man, makes not having a girlfriend so hard to believe and even understand. I am told by woman that know me that I am a great guy and good catch so, why have I not been caught? That shit is not funny and it bothers me at times. I want to express that one has to learn to be alone to learn who we really are. So asking yourself who you are, not the label society gave you or job title but the deep down inner self. NOT what mind tells you but what your heart says. here is something I found today on it:

Do I follow my heart—or listen to my head?
Your heart never lies; your head does. We can overthink, doubt, and rationalize away almost anything. The reason is that the mind is linear, logical, and rational. It likes stability and a step-by-step process. That is its function, but it serves us only so far. The heart, however, is non-linear and sensing. It aligns itself with our true essence and is connected deeply to our highest self and the ultimate potential of who we are. So while our minds often constrict us into believing that it’s best to stay put, not take risks, and avoid repeating the pain of the past, our heart always knows the way to our greatest happiness.

I hope you to can be alone and keep loving yourself, as I tell my students, everyday tell yourself in the mirror that you love yourself.11536131_10206480644435433_2120970044662584810_n

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing mantras tonight

This is my way of giving you something to cherish and use in your daily life. There are many Mantras and you should explore them, just as you should explore your body with doing the Asana (poses) with conscientiousness.IMG_0804

OM, Asato Maa Sad Gamaya;

Tamaso Maa Gyotira Gamaya;

Mrityora Maa Amrita Gamaya

Lead me from the real to the real; from darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge); and from death to immortality.

 

OM

So simple, so common, yet never to be underestimated. Om is the original sound and carries all sounds and vibrations throughout the universe. It uplifts for the upward transformation of the soul and harmonizes you with the world around you. It should be chanted at the beginning and end of a yoga practice, as well as at the beginning and end of all other mantras.

In the Upanishads, it’s explained that the sun chants om as it moves throughout the sky. In Jyotish, or Vedic astrology, om is linked to the sun. This is the planet that most relates to your individual soul for finding light and truth—perfectly aligning with a yogi’s spiritual goals.

 

Lokah samastah sukinoh bhavantu

Lokah samastah sukinoh bhavantu is a universal mantra meaning, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free.” It’s non-religious and a blessing for all beings. It’s the perfect mantra to teach to yoga students. This mantra reinstates within us the idea that we should love both ourselves and others. It promotes our compassion and dissipates our ill-will and envy.

Any of these mantras can be chanted softly for a few minutes. This form of meditation, called japa, guides the mind inward as it soaks up the power of the mantra.