In Harmony With Nature

100_5676For many of us, within the context of our busy and often stressful lives, we may be living unwittingly out of sync with the rhythms and tides of the natural world.

For example, when we observe the seasons in nature, we see the waxing and waning of energy through Winter, Autumn, Spring and Summer.

Winter could be a time for withdrawal, a natural, instinctive conserving of energy, a storing of resources, a gathering below the surface as it were for new building to come. Spring is a time of bursting forth new buds and blossoms, a promise of fresh and wonderful things to come. Similarly, summer is a time of ripening and bearing fruit.

One way of harnessing ourselves more to these beautiful flows of natural energy would be to adjust our lives and endeavours to mirror nature’s wisdom.

Thus the winter months could be a contemplative time to re-asses our existing patterns and habit’s, whether personal or business or in our relationships.

Winter can be a time of releasing old out dated modes of behaviour like shedding old skin we have outgrown. In our yoga practice we can use the cold time to focus on building strength in the body. We can use the natural ebbing time of winter to deepen our meditation practice, almost akin to hibernating but with our mind and awareness needle sharp. Winter is a time to consolidate our knowledge of yoga with it’s wise tenets and practical philosophy.

As we move into the spring season, a natural emergence takes place. Our practice becomes lighter as energy quickens. Optimism blossoms as we become more playful. Physical work could include more activated flow sequences and jumping. Spiritually this is a time of the flowering of our new ideas. The old is shed and we embrace eagerly the new.

Warm weather can also be a time of working on our flexibility, deep stretching is an excellent way to release deep seated stress that is stored in our muscle memory. Many yoga postures require of us a high level of elasticity in the body for this very reason. Deep penetrating stretches help enormously to deepen our relaxation practice.

In many highly ‘developed’ countries, fruit and vegetables that are naturally seasonal are now-a-days available year round. This is largely due to the business opportunity’s such availability generates. A natural way of living would eschew buying out-of-season produce. Many health benefits are specific to season fruit and vegetables. Bear in mind if the general public refused to sustain the demand the business would die out. Our personal responsibility sustains or denies these types of modern day ventures.

On a shorter scale, our glorious sun begins it’s inexorable waxing from midnight until the zenith at noon. During this time the energy of our natural world steadily increases. After noon the pendulum swings back the other way as the natural energy steadily wanes again all the way back to deep midnight.

Few of us are aware of this immensely powerful daily flux of solar and lunar tide. This powerful ebb and flow acts inevitably into our very own body’s rhythms and tides. When we move against these natural flows we weaken instead of strengthen our energy.

The rising energy cycle can be used for building, growing, developing and using energy. The falling cycle can be used for slowing down, contemplating, meditating, assessing and planning, relaxing etc.

Early morning is a great time for vigorous strength and aerobic exercising. Late morning is a good time to eat our main meal of the day. After noon the body should have little food and asana should be in harmony with the waning solar flow. This way we provide maximum support for our bodies natural rhythms.

The early part of the evening should be spent quietly together and our main sleep time should be before 12 midnight. This ensures deep rest for our physical systems as we again harmonise with the solar calming and lunar rising.

Our western daily structure is once again largely a product of the fraternal ‘business day’ which it supports admirably, but has little or nothing to do with living a life in balance with the natural world.

The heavy concern of commerce is a brittle, artificial construct that directs us away from a life of yoga into a dead robotic life governed by harsh routines that long ago burnt out any spark of divine life within us. The way back is simple really but requires of us decision and courage. We need to examine with our hearts eyes the various areas of our lives and discern what genuine priority is needed. We all know deep down what is good and wholesome for ourselves and our communities. It does take some time however and some deep introspective work to see clearly. The rewards of such work if collectively undertaken would be enourmous.

Namaste

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Superstar Sarsparilla

Sarsaparilla (Smilax Ornata)
sarsparillaSarsaparilla is the common name for Smilax ornata (formally smilax regelii), which has been used medicinally to treat everything from chronic pain to toe fungus. Other common names include sarsaparilla, Honduran sarsaparilla, and Jamaican sarsaparilla.
It has likely been used for thousands of years by indigenous tribes of South America but was first introduced to Europe near the end of the Dark Ages. Today, it is still a popular supplement ingredient and medicinal treatment for a wide variety of internal and external health conditions.
Description of the Plant
This prickly vine is native to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It climbs well and can grow to be over 50 yards long. The berries of sarsaparilla come in lustrous black, purple-blue and a red so rosy it could almost be called fuchsia. This beautiful fruit is popular among wild birds as well as humans. Certain varieties of sarsaparilla can also be found in India and China. The common name is derived from the Spanish zarzaparrilla which means “bramble” (from Basque sartzia “bramble”), and parrilla, meaning “little grape vine” a relatively accurate description of the outward appearance of the plant. Sarsaparilla is a member of the Liliaceae (Lily) family and includes over 300 unique species.
A sarsaparilla root typically measures between 6 – 8 feet in length. It is tuberous in shape and has no particular smell or taste. It has been used medicinally for hundreds of years by the people native to Central and South America who found that it relieved rheumatism, general physical weakness, sexual impotence, headaches, colds, joint pain and skin problems.
Medicinal uses
Sarsaparilla root is globally recognized for medicinal properties. Since it was first introduced to the Western world, sarsaparilla has been used to treat gout, gonorrhea, open wounds, arthritis, cough, fever, hypertension, pain, a lack of sexual desire, indigestion, and even certain forms of cancer. More serious conditions have also been treated with sarsaparilla root. In the Amazon, some tribes used it as a treatment for leprosy by ingesting it as well as using it externally.
Sarsaparilla first came to Europe in the 1400s as a medicine discovered in South America and brought back via boat. Europeans used the root to encourage sweating and urination as well as to purify blood, a common practice during the Dark Ages. During the 1800s, sarsaparilla was on the books in both Europe and the young United States for its blood purifying properties and recommended as a treatment for the sexually transmitted condition syphilis.
Nutrition
Sarsaparilla is also consumed for pleasure in drink and pickled form. Stores in some parts of Oceania stock a popular drink named simply Sarsaparilla that uses the plant to increase foaminess. In the past, it was also popular in the United States as part of a drink made with sassafras. In India, too, sarsaparilla is eaten for more than medicinal purposes. As well as soft drinks, southern Indians enjoy pickled sarsaparilla with curd rice.
Today, sarsaparilla roots is available most readily in health food stores. The capsules, tinctures and supplements of sarsaparilla usually include other herbs for a specific result. It is a common ingredient in hormone balancing, skin care and sex drive increasing natural products. These modern sarsaparilla products are primarily produced from plants grown in Latin America and China.
Active Ingredients
The studies that have been done on sarsaparilla as a medicinal herb suggest that the benefits come from antioxidant properties and plant sterols beneficial to human health. Sarsaparilla also contains flavonoids, a pigmentation chemical that gives many plants their leaf, stem, flower and even root color. In the past decade, flavonoids have garnered more widespread recognition for their use in treating autoimmune conditions and inflammation.
One of the most fascinating ingredients in sarsaparilla root are saponins, a chemical compound. Saponins, usually bitter to the taste, are named after soap because of the foam-like reaction they have when placed in water. In the plants where they originate, saponin chemical compounds help deter fungi and insects from eating their leaves. This could be one of the possible reasons that sarsaparilla has anti-fungal properties.
Preparation
The best way to prepare raw or dried sarsaparilla root is to boil it into an infusion and take a cup of it several times a day. With capsules and supplements, read the instructions on the bottle. Usually, it takes less than half a teaspoon of ground root powder to have the desired effect. In the case of tincture, half a teaspoon twice daily is a recommended dose.

Article courtesy of Herb Wisdom Website

Available from Sacred Spiral Yoga – Medicinal Herb Range

Amazing Alfalfa

alfalfaThe alfalfa plant is primarily native to Asia, and is considered to be one of the first widely known herbs used by man.

The word alfalfa is derived from Arabic, specifically the phrase al-fac-facah, which
literally means “Father of all foods” because it is so rich in essential nutrients.

The benefits from regular use are abundant. The alfalfa plant is naturally high in many essential vitamins,
including A, D, E, K, and even the full family of B vitamins. It is surprising for so many different types of vitamins to be
present in just one plant.

Not only does the alfalfa plant contain a full spectrum of important vitamins, but it is also loaded with extremely
important minerals such as biotin, calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, potassium, and many others. As if there needed
to be another reason as to why it’s so great, the alfalfa plant is also super high in protein, especially when dried.
It has been found that regularly ingesting alfalfa can aid in flushing the bowels of built up toxins. In addition, the alfalfa herb has
been used widely for diuretic purposes. This is especially common among people who had been experiencing things like heavy
water retention or urinary tract infections. Using a natural herb as a laxative or diuretic is much more beneficial than using
an over the counter remedy, because there aren’t any added man made chemicals or compounds that could further irritate the situation.

Lowers cholesterol

The alfalfa herb is believed to have a direct connection to lowering cholesterol, which is once again in direct connection with
all of the positive vitamins and minerals it contains. The alfalfa herb is very good at detoxifying and better purifying the blood.
As a result, regular consumption of alfalfa can lower blood pressure and balance hormones.

The alfalfa plant has beneficial healing properties against bad breath, sore or achy joints, imbalanced skin conditions, and it even
increases immune system functionality. When consumed regularly, it acts as an alternative to over the counter pain medicines for headaches
or migraines because of its high calcium and magnesium levels. As anyone can see, consuming alfalfa herb on a routine basis has an abundance
of positive health results.

A popular way to use this herb would be to drink brewed tea daily.

Source article: http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-alfalfa.html

About Yoga and the Vagus Nerve

Interesting corroboration here regarding the vagus nerve.

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds

yogaBy Gopi Rao

Sometimes we refer to our instinctive wisdom as “gut feelings.” Maybe we don’t know why we feel the way we do or how we know the answer to a question. We just do. Some of us chalk it up to instinct or a sixth sense while others discount the phenomenon altogether. Could there be a scientific explanation? The answer may be the vagus nerve, a physical link to the mind-body connection.

What is the vagus nerve?

The vagus nerve starts in the brain stem and goes all the way to the colon. It returns sensory information from the throat and the intestines to the brain. According to researchers, it is, in fact, the internal eye that connects the mind to the body.

How is the vagus nerve related to Yoga?

The vagus nerve literally activates the parasympathetic nervous system – the mechanism that controls involuntary actions…

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Sacred Spiral Yoga Retreat Contemplations

Who Am I Inquiry:

We appear to be:

Physical Body – Food/organic

Mental Body – Intellect/feelings & emotions

Energy Body – Etheric template/enervating energy

 

Conditioning is:

Our ideas and perceptions we have about ourselves.

Education and socialization

Religion, philosophies and belief systems.

Culture, ethnic background, personal history and family

 

We exist:

In normal waking consciousness

In Deep dreamless sleep

In sleep with dreams

 

Who or what are we:

My body?

My mind and intelect?

My feelings and emotions?

My status and/or my achievements in life?

The silent witness?

The awareness I have and use?

None of the above?

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Relaxation Inquiry:

What is the biggest reason I cannot relax properly?

Does my mind activity get in the way?

Unwanted inner dialogue

Scattered thoughts jumping around

Body becomes tense from unbidden

Feelings, emotions and thoughts?

Does my physical body get in the way?

Dis-ease of some kind?

Aches and pains

Unfit?

Do I have stress and anxiety for some reason?

Do I have spiritual or existential questions?

Other?

concentration

Contemplation inquiry:

Patanjali tells us that ‘Buddhi’, the intellect, is the instrument we need to gain self-realization.

Regular refection time is absolutely essential for any serious spiritual quest.

Beating ourselves up post de facto is as useless as strutting around in pride and arrogance.

Reflection should always be qualified to reveal the relationship and under-standing we have with our-selves in the light of our experiences. Our responses and intellectual conclusions are then the basis for what we will consciously change going forwards.

 

photo0233.jpgSpiritual inquiry:

Time

* Within the realm of time the only constant is change. Change cannot be stopped since if you stop the flow of time you will no longer be here – this happens when we physically die and pass on.

* The purpose of experiences is to grow and evolve consciousness.

 

Who am I?

* Ask the question: Who or what is the ‘one’ who is aware? Where does this (our) awareness go when we are in deep dreamless sleep or under full anesthetic? If I ‘lost’ awareness at those times, did I cease to exist?

 

* Am I my body? Am I my mind and intellect? Am I my feelings and emotions? Am I my name or personality? Am I my status and achievements?

 

* The natural tendency of humans is to associate. We associate on every level with every-thing. This association causes us to ‘identify’ Am I the many identities I hold?

 

Patanjali tells us that Yoga is the clearing away of the ‘obstacles’. These obstacles are the false identities. The illusion (maya) is mistaking (in our perception and understanding) something un-real (the world of change or time) for being real.

storm
struggling from storm sailing-ship

Experience and Understanding Inquiry:

Where does experience happen? Out there somewhere? Or in here? Meaning somehow within myself?

All experience comes to an end, but life goes on as the saying tells us.

 

Before enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water.

 

This world has been termed ‘maya’. (illusion) Does this mean it is not real or do we mis-take things for something they are not?

 

Something that is real is un-changing. Something un-real is endlessly transmuting. It does not mean it is not there or does not exist.

 

Awareness is the medium that does not change. We use awareness to evolve and grow during the process of life.

indian ocean

Non-Dualism inquiry

The world we live in appears to be dualistic for practical reasons – ‘me and them’, good and bad, light and dark etc. In reality, there is no ‘out there’ all perception takes place within us. Classic examples of relational illusions are the ‘blue sky’, the ‘sun rising in the morning’ and so on.

 

Some excellent analogies to illustrate non-dualism are:

 

– A Clay Pot; A Gold Ring; A Wave in the Ocean.

 

The Pot depends on the Clay but the Clay does not depend on the Pot. Similarly the Ring depends on the Gold but not Gold on the Ring. The ocean was there before the Wave arose and then fell back from where it came from. Experiences also rise and fall back in a very similar way. So does our physical body, our mind and our personality and achievements.

 

Our experiences are likened to the Pot or the Ring or the Wave.

Awareness is the Gold, the Clay or the Ocean, the one factor that is not dependant on experience.

So it can be easily seen that common reality is non-dual. We cannot deny any of our experiences since they are real enough (place your hand on in a fire to find outJ), yet remember the Clay is both itself and the Pot, the gold is itself and also a ring or a bracelet or a coin.

So the re-arrangement of perception is easy to take place: we are both our experiences (like the pot) and the awareness that illumines them (like the clay), and of course the ‘one’ who fashioned the clay in the first place (the ‘one’ who ‘owns’ awareness. Awareness exists in all sentient living beings

Experience (like the pot) depends on awareness (like the clay) but awareness does not depend on experience.

220px-Shiva_Bangalore_

Meditation

Meditation is usually defined as a prolonged and steady stream of concentration.

Initially meditation is dualistic, meaning that I still feel like me, separate from everything else somehow.

Samadhi is an advanced form of meditation wherein the object we are focusing on, we ourselves and the process of meditation all merge and the sense of separateness dissolves.

Our perception of time changes radically and indeed our perception of every-thing alters drastically.

The highest form of samadhi mentioned by Patanjali is ‘asamprajnata samadhi’ (samadhi without object)

Perhaps bear in mind at this point that however magnificent and transcendental our experience is, we all, without exception, (unless you physically die at this point) return to normal mundane consciousness. Reflection on our experience could lead to self-realization, but so could refection on any ordinary, common experience.

Reflection on the state of deep dreamless sleep, upon where we go during full anesthetic, drinking a cup of tea and so on are all excellent experiences to use.

Meditation is a very useful skill to have and a still, calm; mind and body has a greater chance of realizing the self. This is however, absolutely not a prerequisite to gaining enlightenment.

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Diet and lifestyle

Suppression and denial are two very unhealthy attitudes to indulge in.

Most bad habits, binges, addictions, escapist behaviors and hard living habits have their roots in emotional issues that cause trigger prompters to arise.

We certainly need a measure of self discipline to reign in excessive habits and behaviors. However the deeper emotional causes will only be resolved by gaining genuine self realization.

Once an ‘individual’ realizes who and what they are, the three primary elements of Satva, Tamas and Rajas (Gunas) and the three principle humors of  Vatta, Kappha and Pitta (Doshas) re-arrange their relationship and natural health and balance is established. This occurs as a direct result of our own re-arrangement of perception via self-realization.

There is nothing wrong whatsoever with enjoying ourselves and we should not deny any experience so long as we are aware of the impact we have on ourselves and those around us and further realize that the purpose of experience is for us to learn something.

Some good questions to ask ourselves are:

Do my actions support the inter-relationship of life or are they just self-centered? Do my actions best serve, or are they out dated routine behaviors?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sacred Spiral

Fotolia_67700982_L.jpgThe spiral is a timeless symbol and manifestation of the way various forms of energy flow.

From the drama of a giant galaxy, the majestic beauty of an ancient tree and the exquisite delicacy of new shoot fern. Our learning in life tends to unfold in slow spirals over time

Being usually deeply immersed in our lives, we seldom notice the beauty and wonder of our own change and growth.


Paul Carlos and Sacred Spiral Yoga will be holding a retreat at Emoyeni Buddhist center over the last weekend of July.

The material will guide us gently into a practical understanding of using ancient, traditional yoga tenets for transformation and growth.

Stillness and inner silence along with other tools we will explore, allow us to care-fully and empathically participate in our own evolution of spiritual awareness.

Gentle Sacred Spiral bodywork, breathing sequences, sacred music and complete relaxation will compliment the meditation and contemplation aspect.

Further, we will work deeply into Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s to reveal the essence of yoga and its relevance to today’s world.

Throughout the retreat we will weave in the Sound Journey material Scared Spiral is known for, closing on Sunday with a full length Journey.

Places are filling up fast already so if you wish to join, please contact us as soon as possible.

Emoyeni is a really beautiful, peaceful and dedicated place for rest, gentle practice and learning and spiritual growth.

FREE give-away

This week’s gift will be a 20 minute Birdsong relaxation audio. Birds and their voices seem to have an incredible effect on us in terms of balancing and relaxation. The popular spiritual commentator Eckhart Tolle, describes birds as ‘enlightened beings’. We have two birdsong Audio’s, a 20 minute and 40 minute version. If the shorter one really helps you, you can try the longer audio. A little more time does give us a chance to relax deeper.

Namaste.

Paul Carlos 500h Y.A.I  Sacred Spiral

Contact us.

Interview with Caroline Myss

The Share Guide:

I want to start first, Caroline, by asking how you define the term ‘Medical Intuitive’.

Caroline Myss: For me it is a capacity to interpret the data in the human energy system, and apply that to assessing a person’s health. Data includes emotional information, and for me, fundamentally, one’s biographical background. Which is why I teach that your biography becomes your biology. For me, all of the data that is contained in your cell memory, and in your energetic field, is able to be picked up. I shouldn’t say all, ’cause that’s not true at all. But dominant energy patterns that are contributing to the stress in a human being, are able to be picked up, if a person is open enough. And so, for me, as a medical intuitive, that’s where I focus my attention. That’s what the skill is all about. Read more here:
http://www.shareguide.com/Myss.html