Friday, January 25, 2013

~Teacher Profile of the Month~



Andrew Jones

Andrew teaches an open Dharma I-II class every Tuesday night (7-8:30 PM), Dharma I Basics (4-week course: Mondays, 7-8:30 PM), and Dharma II Basics (4-week course: Wednesdays, 7-8:30 PM) at DYNYC.

1.    Where were you born?
AJ: Swansea, Wales, UK… Or “England”, as people like to call it here.

2.  What do you do when you don’t teach yoga?
AJ: Try and bring the practice to the workplace, and spread some of the love in this very stressful world of many ups and downs. I like to introduce others to yoga and show them how it may help their everyday lives & bring a smile to their faces – these are small steps that can build into huge gains for all!

3.  Three things you always have in your fridge?
AJ: Bananas, soy milk, sprouted almonds

4.  Favorite veggie restaurant in the area?
AJ: Natural Frontier – they have the best juices, especially green ones. Plus they look after Dharma Yogis with much love!

5.  One practice you must do every day?
AJ: Compassion to all beings with love.

 


The first thing you notice about Andrew Jones is his joyfully lighthearted nature. Though he takes his practice seriously, he is a bit of a jokester. Some might assume, because of Andrew’s seemingly constant smile, that he is a full-time yogi – devoting hours and hours to his sadhana, or practice, every single day. While he is a full-time yogi, it’s not necessarily in the way you’d imagine: his sadhana is the practice of daily life – of bringing “yoga” with him wherever he goes, even the world of corporate advertising!

Like so many of us, Andrew began practicing yoga because of hardships in various areas of his life (including scoliosis and knee problems) He enrolled in our teacher training program because another teacher at the DYNYC told him it would be a great spiritual experience. Though he did not set out initially with the goal of teaching, he connects greatly with the intention of helping to uplift his students: “It’s great to see people leave feeling good – even if it only lasts a little while, at least they’ve tasted the benefits.”

He is extremely devoted to Sri Dharma Mittra and his teachings; he speaks with great admiration about Sri Dharma’s compassion, unconditional love, and playfulness that are apparent in every single class; in taking Andrew’s class, it is clear that he strives to bring these attributes into his own life and teaching as well.



Author/interviewer: Danielle Gray, Online Media Manager at DYNYC

Friday, January 18, 2013

Karma Yoga and the Art of Selfless Service: The Reggie Deas Story


By Freddy Pastore


“Helping out is not some special skill. It is not the domain of rare individuals. It is not confined to a single part of our lives. We simply heed the call of that natural impulse within and follow it where it leads us.” Ram Dass

Often, the more we have in life the more disconnected we become from those who have very little. However, by “being receptive” to the needs of others, sometimes Karma Yoga finds you.

My Karma Yoga found me last July in Asbury Park on the New Jersey Shore. After practicing yoga on the boardwalk I stopped at the Twisted Tree Cafe for a fruit smoothie breakfast. As I waited to pay, something caught my eye on the "community board" next to the register. Though most of the board was over-loaded with business cards and advertisements, a picture of an acoustic guitar snapped in half caused me stop and pay attention.

Above it read, "Reggie Deas Needs Your Help - Call Steve." On the back of the postcard was a story about Reggie Deas, a homeless musician who found his way to Ocean Grove and was living under the boardwalk. His guitar had been destroyed and Steve was organizing an effort to have it replaced. I called Steve and offered my help but since there was such an outpouring of support, Reggie not only had the new guitar but also a case. Steve said that Reggie was however still homeless and in need of help. I agreed to meet with Steve and Reggie in the park the next day.

It only took a few minutes of listening to Reggie play music to realize that he was a gifted musician. Though his playing was a little rough around the edges, his instrument was played with true knowledge and in his voice was love of music. Reggie, though currently homeless had attended Berkley College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts; a prestigious music school in which many of the greatest musicians in the world had passed through the halls. And seemingly here was one music great living under a boardwalk in a beach town. Reggie’s story immediately called to mind the movie "The Soloist," based on a similar story of a Juilliard trained musician who was also homeless. Through Sri Dharma Mittra’s inspirational teachings on Karma Yoga (and the fact that I too am a musician), I knew I needed to help Reggie.

Sitting with Reggie in the park that day, with his new guitar and only a single duffle bag full of his possessions, a roof over his head was evidently his biggest need. The first and most obvious thought was a homeless shelter but Reggie refused. In his words "I rather live on the street." The biggest problem with a shelter is "lock-down" at 7pm, the time when Reggie does best playing music on the boardwalk for money. Also, since Reggie was not suffering from any form of addiction he did not want to be around others whom are often in this unfortunate state.

I brainstormed with the fundraising group and after many hours of making phone calls and surfing the internet, I found a room in The Whitfield Hotel, a very large hostel-style hotel just one block from the beach. With the help of the nearly $1,000 left over from the guitar collection fund, by the end of that afternoon, Reggie had a roof over his head.

Over the next several weeks I continued to contribute to Reggie's well being however I could. Tapping into my work in Finance, I created a "project plan" to organize efforts around Reggie’s needs. I outlined and prioritized various aspects that the fundraising group could do together to help Reggie establish himself in Ocean Grove. On the list: (1) find a part-time job (2) obtain a pre-paid cell phone (3) resolve an outstanding court fine (4) seek medical attention, and (5) play the music he so loved in local venues. Working together with the fundraising group we were able to accomplish everything on the list.

Reggie worked part-time mowing lawns for a local real estate company and slowly adjusted to his new life. But above all Reggie loved playing music and to see Reggie do what he loved to do and having played a small part in making that happen for him was special. Some of my best memories from the summer was rehearsing and performing with him several summer nights at the Barbaric Bean and Day's Ice Cream Shop.

When summer passed into fall Reggie came to me because he wanted to move to San Diego, California where he had some friends. Although he had established some roots in Ocean Grove, he was concerned about playing music for money through the winter. It was late September and the New Jersey boardwalks were basically deserted. Although my first reaction was think of all the reasons why he shouldn't go, I quickly realized that it was Reggie's life to live and not mine. Reggie had his own Dharma and it was essential for him to go and pursue his dreams, wherever they make take him.

As Sri Dharma says, do it because it has to be done,” and I had been there for Reggie because it had to be done. By doing selfless service (seva) I found that I had also served myself. We can all make a difference, no matter what. So next time you come across someone in need remind yourself that yes, I can help. Yes, I will do this. Yes, change is possible.

Check out Reggie Deas



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Freddy was introduced to yoga by his wife, Amy Pastore (E-RYT 500 Hour yoga instructor). At first, practicing yoga was an excuse to be around Amy - even if it meant enduring 26 excruciating posture holds in 105 degree heat! Over the years, the practice of asana gave way to the deeper purpose of yoga. This resulted in physical, mental and spiritual transformation. Freddy has attended many yoga workshops with world renowned teachers and in 2012 he completed the Life Of A Yogi 200-Hour Teacher Training Program with Sri Dharma Mittra in New York City. Freddy also holds a certification in Basic Thai Massage from the Loi Kroh School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Together with his wife, Freddy is the co-founder of iflow Yoga, a modern, eclectic Vinyasa style yoga drawing from their diverse yoga experiences.  Freddy is also an accomplished bassist who has performed and recorded with many of New York City areas top jazz, rock and pop musicians.

Friday, January 11, 2013

How I Found My Teacher

by Dina Lang

I first came to know of legendary Sri Dharma Mittra several years ago when investigating Yoga Journal’s annual conference in San Francisco. Each year I would read through all the bios of the featured instructors, research them online and plan out whose classes I’d take, should I ever actually attend. Sri Dharma always stood out as that instructor I felt I should take a class from before I die. In January of 2012 I finally got my chance in San Francisco.

My typical M.O. in a yoga class is move straight to the back of the room and hide myself in the corner. Uncharacteristically that day, I deliberately arrived early enough to set my mat in its usual place, but instead set up in the second row. (I’m still working on that front row thing!) The moment Sri Dharma walked in, took his place seated on his chair on the stage, closed his eyes and began to chant Om, I knew that I was exactly where I was meant to be. The two-hour practice was physically challenging, but completely accessible. He wove his message of ahimsa and the ethical rules throughout our every breath and posture. He guided us with as few words as possible, but we knew exactly where he wanted us to go. Simple clarity was his style... and I loved it!

As he taught, he would occasionally pop up into a headstand, handstand or forearm stand variation, talking all the while with humility and humor. His light-hearted manner created a warm, inviting environment, and yet we never lost sight of the sense that we were in the presence of a deeply respected teacher whom we should follow. He spoke about vegetarianism; he spoke about compassion; and he challenged us to examine ourselves with honesty and to compassionately embrace a commitment to our own betterment as human beings.

I knew then what was missing from my practice... a true teacher! It was like coming home on my mat for the first time in fifteen years. It left me hungry for more. I picked up his information after the class about teacher trainings. Having already completed my 500-hour certification, I was interested in his 800 hour Life of a Yogi training. I spoke with one of his representatives and they told me the prerequisite for his 800-hour training was his 500-hour and my previous work would not be acceptable. Disappointed, I left with the information in hand... chalking it up to a wonderful glimpse of something out of my reach.

The next six months crept along as I searched locally for a teacher to guide me in my practice with that same sense of spirituality I had experienced with Sri Dharma. Feeling dejected, one day I went online and researched again more closely what it would take to study with Dharma in New York City. I researched flights, hotel stays, the training itself and of course, my financial resources. I realized it was time to either commit and leap or walk away with no regrets. I decided that if I continued to allow my personal practice to wane and didn’t do something to restore my enthusiasm for yoga, I didn’t deserve to teach others. As yoga teachers I believe we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than our students... faking it just isn’t good enough.

So I made the leap. I signed up for the Dharma Yoga 500-hour Life of a Yogi teacher training and began my journey with Sri Dharma Mittra - committing myself to another 500 hour teacher training so I could learn what it is to truly be a yogi…

Of all my trainings to date, this has been the most demanding of my time, physical energy, self-discipline, and unyielding commitment. And I have not been happier in many years.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m exactly where I am supposed to be - studying, practicing, meditating, living the yamas and niyamas and practicing karma yoga (selfless service)...being a dedicated student of yoga, and I am filled with gratitude. Sri Dharma’s practices are a lifetime labor of love, created by the ‘real deal’, and I feel so honored to be a conduit for his wonderful practice and message. For me, yoga is an opportunity to create the very best version of myself, to practice that which is difficult, find grace through the process, and walk in the world with my best intention leading the way. With Sri Dharma’s voice in my head, his message in my heart and his commitment to yoga as my inspiration...I believe I am finding my way at last.



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Dina Lang, RYT and co-owner of Santosha Yoga in Bethany Village (Portland, OR), discovered yoga many years ago and found that the practice brought a deeper awareness of all life's gifts to her senses. She is the mother of two grown children. She turned her nurturing energy toward building a yoga community in Bethany Village in 2010 and, when teaching, consciously holds a space for others to discover for themselves the transformative power of yoga. "Like many yogis, it was during one of life's lowest points that the power of this great practice began to take center stage in my life. I embarked on the teacher training path with hopes of simply deepening my own practice, never considering actually teaching yoga. After my personal practice really took hold and my perspective grew clear, I suddenly felt eager to help others by sharing what I learned.”

Friday, January 4, 2013

Yogic Wisdom from Sri Dharma Mittra



Students in Sri Dharma Mittra’s classes (whether regular attendees or first-time participants) can all relate to that feeling of: “What was the brilliant little gem of yogic philosophy he said – that I SWORE I would remember and write down after class?”

Believe us when we say, we understand this sentiment. We try to record every tidbit we can; so, for your enjoyment, here are ten of our favorites:



1. “God (Divine) is the inmost Self of all creatures, sitting in the heart as our real selves.  Formless, incomprehensible for the mind, beyond all conditions, immutable, eternal, and action-less.”


2.


3. “The goal is to separate you from the mind.” 


4.
 
 

5. “The highest state of meditation is Samadhi where there is not ego anymore, no doubts, no me, no you, no notion of time, no eating, no talking, no walking, no working and not doing anything at all, realizing that the Self is action-less.” 


6. On Asana:
 


7. “I am only here to share my knowledge with others and to help them make rapid progress on the path of yoga.” 


8.


 9. “Rest your mind on the infinite…  Deep inside you are free.”  


10.