Monthly Archives: December 2013

What is a Mandala?


Gateways to the Infinite

mandala - sacred geometry and art

Mandala – sacred geometry and art

A mandala can be described as the pictorial version of a musical composition. It is created by applying the mathematical laws of angle and shape in ways that correspond with the natural laws of the Universe.  A mandala can also be described as a sacred circle which is used in ritualistic ceremonies and other related practices.

The term, mandala, comes from a Sanskrit word that has two distinct meanings: (1) circle, which can represent the physical world outside of you, and (2) center, which can represent the mental and spiritual worlds within you.  When you include both meanings into one term, you realize that a mandala can be thought of as a sacred geometric design that represents the three planes of human existence (e.g. the physical body, the subtle body, and the causal body).

The main purpose of a mandala is to create a sacred space to focus your mind during meditation and turn your attention inward.

What the shapes represent…

Circles           represent the universe/ cosmos

Spirals          represent growth & learning, change

Triangles     represent dreams, goals, and vision

Squares        represent the building process; stability and security; the surface of the Earth

What the colors represent…

Red                an energy color that represents fire, burning emotions, and action

Orange          a prideful color that represents warmth, intensity and fire

Yellow          represents light, warmth, and the sun

Green          represents health, growth and renewal

Blue               a calming color and represents unfailing love, serenity, relaxation, and  compassion; related to the Throat Chakra

Purple          a life color that represents royalty, authority, and intuition

White            represents light, innocence, purity, and divinity

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The many different kinds of yoga | Yoga practices and benefits – Part 5


The Seven Chakras and what they represent.

The Seven Chakras and what they represent.

(Go back to part1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

Kundalini Yoga:

Kundalini yoga focuses on awakening the energy at the base of the spine, known as kundalini, and drawing it upward. The practice of Kundalini yoga include postures, chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises and focuses on moving energy through the seven chakras.

Power Yoga:

Power yoga is essentially American interpretation of ashtanga yoga.  (Ashtanga yoga, as you will remember, is a discipline that combines strength training, stretching, and meditative breathing.)  But power yoga takes ashtanga a few steps further. Many of the postures resemble basic calisthenics — push-ups, toe touches, and side bends — but the key to power yoga’s muscle building, sweat producing power is the pace. In power yoga, instead of holding poses as you would in traditional yoga, each move directly into the next move, making it an intense aerobic workout.


Viniyoga is most often used as a therapeutic practice for people who are recovering from a surgery or who have suffered injuries. It is a gentle, healing yoga that is tailored to each person’s needs and body type, and evolves with the person as they grow and change.

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What is a Mantra? | What is Mantra Yoga?

The universal Hindu Mantra: AUM

The universal Hindu Mantra: AUM

That is called mantra by the contemplation on which the Individual Soul is released from the Cycle of Reincarnation and attains Final Liberation.

-Swami Sivananda

 The word mantra was first used in reference to the poetic hymns found in the Rig Veda, the first of the four ancient Vedic scriptures. It is a Sanskrit word that is made up of two distinct words: manas, which means the mind, and tra, which means an instrument of. Combined, the word literally means an instrument of the mind. As such, all mantras share the same purpose: to grow in self-awareness. The ubiquitous mantra in Hinduism is AUM.

If mantra is a sound bite that is used as an instrument of the mind for spiritual growth, then mantra yoga is the practice during which you repeat that sound bite softly to yourself to quiet your mind and direct your attention inward.

Harbhajan Singh Yogi (aka Yogi Bhajan) was a Sikh spiritual leader who introduced Kundalini Yoga to the United States. He asserted that mantra yoga is a science that is based on the knowledge that sound is a form of energy that has structure, power, and a predictable effect on the various energy centers (chakras) throughout your subtle body.

Common mantras used include Hari Om Tat Sat, Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, Om Hreem Sri Laxmi Bhyo Namaha, Sri Bhagavate Namaha, Om Shreem Hreem Saraswati Namaha, So Hum.

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Karma | What is Karma | Hindu Terms


The Cosmic Ledger of Life

Karma: the natural law of cause and effect.

Karma: the natural law of cause and effect.

The Natural Law of Cause & Effect

Karma is one of the nine core beliefs in Hinduism (Karma and Dharma are included together as one belief). It is a term that originates from Sanskrit and is made up of two separate words: (1) Kar, which means organs of action, and (2) ma, which means to produce or create. Combined, the word, Karma, can be translated as that which is produced by one’s mental or physical actions.

In other words, Karma is a Hindu concept that says that your thoughts, words, and deeds, affect your experiences in the three bodies of your soul: the causal (astral) body, the subtle (aura) body, and the material (physical) body.  Good thoughts, words, and deeds, produce positive life experiences. Bad thoughts, words, and deeds, produce negative life experiences.

These experiences, however, don’t just pertain to your present life.  They pertain to your past life and future life as well.  Consequently, you may not know WHY you are experiencing the many setbacks in your life. And you may not know what setbacks to anticipate.  But you can reframe your current problems as challenges and respond to them with a sound mind and an open heart (aka right attitude).

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The many different kinds of yoga | Yoga practices and benefits – Part 4


The practice of yoga is good for everyone.

The practice of yoga is good for everyone.

(Go back to part 1, part 2, part 3)

Jivamukti Yoga:

Jivamukti yoga was developed in 1986 by Sharon Gannon and David Life.  It expresses the moral and spiritual aspects of the practice of yoga that have been so overlooked or devalued in the modern practice of yoga.  It includes vigorous and challenging poses (asanas), but the emphasis is on Sanskrit chanting, scriptural study, vegetarianism, meditation, non-violence, and devotion to God.  Music also plays a large role in this kind of yoga. 

Kali Ray TriYoga:

Kali Ray TriYoga was developed by Kali Ray in 1980.  This practice includes a series of flowing, dancelike movements as well as breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation.  Right now Kali Ray runs a TriYoga Sudio in Santa Cruz, CA.

Kripalu Yoga:

Kripalu yoga is called the yoga of consciousness. This yoga is gentle and introspective and encourages practitioners to hold poses to explore and release spiritual and emotional blockages.  Precise alignment is not as important as in some other traditions and a results oriented attitude is discouraged. There are three stages in this type of yoga. The first stage focuses on learning the postures and exploring your bodies limits and abilities. The second stage involves holding the postures for an extended time to develop, focus, concentration and inner awareness. The third stage is a meditation in motion in which the movement from one posture to another happens unconsciously and spontaneously.

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