Belly Love

The Practice: Belly Love

By Wendy Swanson
May 17, 2018

Belly Love

 

Our belly, my belly, your belly, women’s bellies, men’s bellies “should” be flat, flat, flat. I have met very few people that are not on a quest for a flatter abdomen. I, too, have striven for this perfection as the message I heard growing up from my misguided but well-intentioned mom was “you can never be too thin (or too blonde)”. I wonder, though, if in our quest for perfection we are sacrificing our wellbeing.

 

A strong core and firm abdominal muscles do indeed help stabilize our low back and lumbar spine. We do need strength in our body, and in particular in our abdomen, to hold ourselves upright and to move through our day with integrity.

 

The beauty of a Buddha belly

Belly LoveA strong belly does not necessarily equal a flat as a board, six pack belly. In the practice of Chinese Medicine, a healthy belly is one that actually has some softness that resembles a slightly rounded “Buddha belly”. The softness indicates that tension is not being stored in the abdomen and that the breath is freely moving through the belly, diaphragm and chest. I’ve noticed that when I feel most relaxed my breath moves and when I feel stressed my breath hangs out in my chest and is quite shallow. I could go on and on about body image and societal pressure to be thin, but today I want to offer a few tools to simply help us get to know our belly and possibly even love our belly AND let you know that a soft, slightly rounded belly is normal, healthy, and dare I say even beautiful.

 

Ways to love your belly

Abdominal massage is a great way to love your belly and has the added benefit to help with constipation. Rub your hands together to warm them before placing them at 12 o’clock above your belly button. Allow your fingers to sink into your belly but not too much that you feel pain. Move your hands around your belly button in a clockwise motion. You can use some coconut oil or sesame oil to help your hands move smoothly around your belly.

Sit or lie down and place your hands gently on top of your belly. See if you can bring your breath all the way to your belly enough so that you can visibly see the rise and fall of your hands.

Find movement that makes you feel great and beautiful. One of my favorite things is to put on music, turn up the volume and simply move and dance with no particular purpose and with no one watching. It helps me to feel free and connected to my body and my belly.

Practice speaking kindly to yourself. Write yourself a love note. Be kind to yourself.

 

Wendy Swanson, L.Ac, E-RYT 200, is a healer, transformational leader, yoga teacher and licensed acupuncturist. Wendy has been leading groups for over 15 years both domestically and internationally. She is an open hearted yoga instructor who is currently studying at Kripalu to obtain her 500 hour yoga certification. As a licensed acupuncturist for over ten years, Wendy’s strives to help people live a life filled with greater ease, joy, well-being and balance. Wendy owns Be Yoga & Wellness in Charlotte, NC.

 

Join Wendy at the Art of Living Retreat Center for The Art of Being You from June 15-17, the Joyful Yoga Conference from August 10-12, and Celebrate Being through Yoga from September 27-30.

     

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: abdomen , belly , Body Image , Love , self-care , yoga
Art of Living Retreat Center - Enlightenment

Exploring Wisdom: Can Enlightenment be Obtained through Spiritual Practices?

By Krishan Verma
April 27, 2018

Art of Living Retreat Center - Enlightenment

 

“Can spiritual practices really lead to enlightenment? I have been doing my practices for over 25 years regularly and sincerely. I undoubtedly see many benefits, but I don’t see myself anywhere near enlightenment. I also do seva regularly and have sincere devotion in my heart. I don’t know what’s missing. Could you please share your thoughts on it.”

 

Spiritual enlightenment is a flashy and vague term. It can mean many different things to different people. I don’t know what it means to you, and what exactly are you trying to achieve?

 

The Yoga Scriptures don’t use the term ‘enlightenment’. Instead, they inspire the seekers to become mukta (free or liberated). Becoming mukta is a meaningful, clear, and achievable goal of spiritual journey. It means freeing yourself from all that you have created in your mind. In the Bhagvad Geeta, Lord Krishna repeatedly says that a yogi is free, and inspires Arjuna to become free. He doesn’t tell Arjuna to become enlightened.

 

Spiritual practices have their limitations

Spiritual practices are very essential for the wellness of your body, mind, and Spirit, but they also have their limitations. The practices are something similar to sunbathing. When you sunbathe, you experience the presence of Sun, but you are nowhere close to the Sun. You can sunbathe a million times, your tan will certainly become darker, but the distance will still remain.

 

Similarly, in meditation you experience something beautiful that is being emitted from the Spirit, but you are nowhere near the Spirit. You can meditate for many years, your experience will certainly become deeper, but you may still be nowhere closer to the Spirit. Though the Spirit is omnipresent, it is not accessible to all. Its presence is.

 

Cultivate freedom of the mind, not enlightenment

So, drop the desire to be enlightened. It is only a concept. Instead, cultivate the desire to be free in your mind. You have bound yourself, and now, through knowledge and self-effort, unbound yourself. When the mind is free, it will open the doors to the Spirit, and the drop will merge into the Ocean.

 

A free mind doesn’t have the desire to have its own identity, and therefore it merges into Infinity. When you are desiring for enlightenment, you have the desire to exist. You want to exist as an enlightened being, which is not possible.

 

Join Krishan for the Yoga Teacher Training Program this fall. Considering becoming a yoga teacher? Speak with a yoga ambassador to learn more: Schedule a call

 

yoga teacher training programKrishan Verma is a seeker, student, teacher, and teacher trainer on the path of yoga for over 35 years. In his programs, he firmly yet gently guides each student to experience the effortless union of body, mind and spirit. The student emerges rejuvenated and serenely dynamic. Under his tutelage thousands of teachers now share the knowledge of yoga all around the world.

 

This article first appeared on Shudam.org.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: enlightenment , exploring wisdom , krishan verma , sri sri yoga , wisdom , yoga

In House: Wendy Swanson on the Nature of Pain

By Wendy Swanson
April 19, 2018

The Nature of Pain

 

Some of you may know that I was in a small plane crash in December 2007. As we were crashing I braced myself, trying desperately to “put on the brakes”. Obviously, I lived to tell the tale and I was left with some pretty profound right side low back and hip pain as a result. Now, almost ten years after the crash, my pain is substantially less. In fact, most days I’m unaware of the pain unless something brings it back to the surface.

Before I go into what brings my pain to the surface and my opinion on pain, I want to clarify a few things. I have worked with thousands of people as an acupuncturist and yoga teacher and I KNOW that pain is very, very real. Sometimes pain stems from emotional trauma and manifests in the physical body, and it hurts all the same.

 

I find that it is absolutely necessary to have a baseline of self-care when trying to heal the body naturally. It is vital to eat healthy foods low in sugar, pesticides and other chemicals, have an exercise routine, and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If we are NOT doing these things our pain will be worse. This is where we need to clean up our act first, in order to successfully allow our bodies to heal.

 

A deep dive into my own pain

February 2017 my mom, at the young age of 73, passed from Alzheimer’s. In many ways I was prepared and even praying for her passing since she no longer knew herself or anyone else close to her. We had lost her long before her physical body left this earth. Even so, I went into a period of deep mourning and grief.

 

My emotional anguish showed up a few ways in my body. The first week after my Mom died I got a terrible, hundred tissue a day type of cold. After the cold subsided I was then left with that old, familiar right side back and hip pain. The pain rested mostly at my sacrum and was so severe that I contemplated finally going for a MRI to see what the heck was wrong with me. To know once and for all what had happened to my back after the crash. You see, I never got an x-ray or MRI, because at the time of the crash I was 5 weeks pregnant and did not want to do anything that would harm my growing baby.

 

The only way out is through

My pain kept intensifying as the weeks passed after my Mom died. I saw my gifted network chiropractor. I saw my therapist. I went to yoga classes. I meditated. I gave myself acupuncture. I rested. In short, I did everything right and yet my low back would not release. What I have come to believe is that my back was literally FEELING the intensity of my emotional loss and pain. There was no getting around it. There was only going through it.

Of course, my emotional pain landed where there had been physical trauma. The instability of my low back and hip are completely real. The pain, though, for ME (and for many, many people that I have worked with) is directly correlated with the stress of my life. My mom’s death = BIG STRESS, BIG SADNESS, BIG GRIEF.

About 5 weeks later I attended a spiritual day long retreat with Dr. Matt Lyon. It was there that I had a profound vision of my Mom. In this vision I saw my Mom happy, dancing and free in a way that she had never been in her earthly life. She clearly communicated with me that she was still with me and always would be. It was almost exactly at that moment that my pain completely disappeared. I had gone from excruciating pain to zero pain in a moment of emotional release.

 

The emotional and physical body

In the months since that profound emotional healing I’ve had twinges of pain in my back but nothing like it was immediately following her death. I also know that there is a good chance that I will again feel that terrible pain at my sacrum, low back and hip. It will be at a time of great stress. I’m open to NOT feeling that pain, but I will not be surprised if my body once again manifests my emotional state in my body.

I could tell you countless similar stories. I could tell the tale of how I ended up at the urgent care thinking that I had a severe neck issue only to realize that it was my body’s way of dealing with the fact that I was about to let someone go from their job. Or share stories I have heard from my patients. I’m guessing you have your own story or two of pain in the emotional and physical body.

 

Get into feeling

My solution to our collective pain is one that is probably not all that popular. It is important, though, for us all to hear it.

Get off the pain meds and get into feeling. Get off being a victim to our traumas and get into owning our own stuff. Pain is a reality of life. There is no medication that erases all the pain. There is no self-help book, no guru, no doctor that can make it all better. It might sound overly simplistic and trust me I know it is not always easy.

 

The answer is about every single day choosing a path of love, forgiveness and healing. If you are living in the United States, reading this blog, then most likely YOU DO have the ability to choose. I don’t want to minimize anyone’s pain because I see real pain every single day with the people I serve. We still can actively choose our path, to choose love, healing and to seek out help as needed. You are your own answer. You are the solution. And most importantly you CAN choose a path of LOVE & AUTHENTICITY.

 

Wendy Swanson, L.Ac, E-RYT 200, is a healer, transformational leader, yoga teacher and licensed acupuncturist. Wendy has been leading groups for over 15 years both domestically and internationally. She is an open hearted yoga instructor who is currently studying at Kripalu to obtain her 500 hour yoga certification. As a licensed acupuncturist for over ten years, Wendy’s strives to help people live a life filled with greater ease, joy, well-being and balance. Wendy owns Be Yoga & Wellness in Charlotte, NC.

 

Join Wendy at the Art of Living Retreat Center for The Art of Being You from June 15-17, the Joyful Yoga Conference from August 10-12, and Celebrate Being through Yoga from September 27-30.

     

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: acupuncture , in house , pain , trauma , wellness , wendy swanson , yoga

Exploring Wisdom: Sri Sri on the Eight Limbs of Yoga

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
February 5, 2018

In 2015, Art of Living founder and guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke with Philip Goldberg on the importance of the eight limbs of yoga. As relevant as ever, Sri Sri’s wisdom encourages us to consider all aspects of a Yoga practice as a path to greater fulfillment, health, and happiness. 

 

Q: What would you like people to know about Yoga?

Sri Sri: Yoga is like a vast ocean. You can just go for a breeze, or you can go with an oil rig and drill for oil … Yoga offers many things to different people at many different levels–whatever they aspire for: union with the cosmic consciousness, or physical health, mental clarity, emotional stability, spiritual ecstasy — all this is part of yoga.

 

Q: Does it concern you that people think of Yoga only as asana [the familiar physical postures]?

Sri Sri: Not really, because at that moment that’s what they understand. But once they start doing asana they start seeing there is something beyond that. If interest for meditation gets kindled, then they are on the right track. But if it stops at exercise … it’s not bad, but they will not reach the goal.

 

Q: When people think of the classic eight limbs of Yoga…

Sri Sri: I knew you would ask about that. Unfortunately, people think the eight limbs are eight steps, one after another. You know, when a baby is born it’s not that one limb develops after another. All the limbs develop simultaneously. The eight limbs of Yoga are so interconnected, if you pull one all the others will come along with it.

 

Q: Some people think you have to master the yamas and niyamas before you can do the others. [The yamas and niyamas — five behaviors to avoid and five to engage — constitute the first two limbs.]

Sri Sri: The limbs are not sequential, they are all together. The practice of the others contributes to the ability to observe the yamas and niyamas. When we teach meditation in prisons, we see that the moment they have a taste of meditation, their whole thought process and behavior pattern changes. They start on the path of non-violence. They become very truthful, and the tendencies to cheat disappear. So the yamas and niyamas start happening in people’s life just when they begin meditation.

 

Q: How do your Art of Living programs fit into the eight limbs of classical Yoga?

Sri Sri: Yoga would be incomplete if even one limb is absent from it. All the eight limbs coexist. Our program is the same way. We do some asana, and some pranayama-breathing exercises-and meditation that leads to samadhi [the 8th limb; not a practice but a state of consciousness transcending thought].

 

This interview first appeared on Huffington Post, and is presented in excerpt. 

 
 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: asana , Ayurveda , eight limbs , interview , sri sri ravi shankar , yoga , yoga practice , yogi
Art of Living Retreat Center

The Practice: Why Become a Yoga Teacher?

By AOLRC
January 18, 2018

Art of Living Retreat Center

   

Considering becoming a yoga teacher?

A desire to become a yoga teacher, in itself, is a blessing. By becoming a yoga teacher, you learn to take proper care of yourself and teach others to take proper care of themselves. It’s a great way to rapidly progress on a spiritual path. You get a better understanding of yourself. Teaching yoga, in its true spirit, is a great service to humanity. It’s also a way to earn some income and support yourself.

 

Where do you go for yoga teacher training?

There are thousands of yoga training programs available worldwide. The Yoga Scriptures say to “Learn yoga under a master”.

 

You must ask yourself a few questions: Why do you want to become a yoga teacher? What is it about yoga that interests you the most? Are you interested in just teaching, or also in your own spiritual growth?

If your interest lies only in the physical aspects of yoga, then with a little research, you could choose almost any school of yoga in the world. However, if, in addition to learning the Asanas properly, you also want to understand and experience the true meaning of yoga, be able to impart that experience to your students, and develop a meaningful discipline of yoga for your personal spiritual growth, then you need to be very precise in your selection. The most important question then becomes this: who is the guiding light in that school of yoga?

 

Drinking from the source

Your mind and spirit are both unknown and unseen. To understand and experience them, you need the guidance of a spiritual master. Just as a dedicated scientist discovers the hidden secrets of the physical realm of our existence, a devout spiritual seeker uncovers many mysteries hidden in the unseen field of our existence. Such enlightened masters are very rare.

 

Learning yoga from a school in which the guiding source is a living enlightened master is like drinking water from the river at the origin, where it is pure and fresh. The knowledge and practices that come directly from the master are free from polluted interpretations and distortions.

 

The Sri Sri School of Yoga

At the Sri Sri School of Yoga, you will learn:

  • authentic yoga in its purest form
  • sequences of Asanas with variations and modifications that are suitable for all levels of yoga students
  • principles of creating your own sequences
  • anatomy of Asanas
  • Asanas for many different physical conditions
  • proper practice of Asanas that benefit the mind, body, and spirit
  • deep relaxation techniques
  • an exploration of the different layers of your existence
  • how to make your mind more flexible and strong so it can pass through the seasons of life with skill and a smile
  • proper practice of many different pranayamas, and how they influence the different chakras and different dimensions of your mind
  • the science of prana, chakras, and bandhas and their relationship with Asanas
  • the Sanskrit names and proper pronunciations of Asanas, pranayamas, and badhas
  • Yogic kriyas for cleansing the body and calming the mind
  • proper meditation practices
  • a clear understanding of the wisdom of yoga contained in the yoga scriptures – Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Bhavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and more
  • how to use yogic wisdom in daily life and how to take yoga beyond the mat
  • a basic understanding of Ayurveda and proper nutrition
  • the different paths of yoga and their significance
 

The list goes on – not only will you learn this, but you will experience it all first-hand too. At the Sri Sri School of Yoga, a team of certified, dedicated, and experienced teachers are there to train you to become a certified, knowledgeable, and confident yoga teacher, and to guide and inspire you to discover the yogi in you.

 

We look forward to welcoming you!

 
 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , yoga , yoga instructor , yoga practice , yoga retreat
Art of Living Retreat Center - Articles We Love

Articles We Love: A Very Merry December

By Paige Reist
December 12, 2017

Art of Living Retreat Center - Articles We Love

No matter how you celebrate, this is the time of year when we have endless opportunities to come together to experience love, friendship, connection, generosity, spiritual growth, and peace. Our favourite articles this month will guide you through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and help you keep yourself grounded and focused on the true gifts of the season.

 

The Yoga of Receiving: Practice Opening Up to Life’s Gifts

Sally Kempton for Yoga Journal

Sally Kempton shares her experiences on learning to accept life’s gifts. During the holiday season, we so often focus on expressing generosity, but rarely do we take the opportunity to practice the art and the yoga of receiving.

“Receiving is a yoga in itself—one that demands a high degree of sensitivity, awareness, and even skillfulness. For one thing, we need to recognize that we’re being given a gift—whether it’s a birthday present, a compliment, a teaching, a helpful piece of feedback, a genuine service, a loving gesture, or a blessing from the invisible realms. Second, we need to cultivate enough stillness and openness to take it in. Third, we need to appreciate it, to value it, or, at the very least, to value the giver’s intention. Fourth, we need to feel that we deserve it—that the gift is neither too much, too little, or too out of line with who we are. In fact, the word “receive” comes from the Latin word recipere, which means “to take back.” This implies that what we receive is already ours in the sense that we do, indeed, deserve it, that it completes something within us, or simply that we’ve attracted it by the nature of our being.”

 

Take 10 Minutes to Defuse Holiday Stress with This Mindfulness Practice

Mark Bertin for Mindful

This quick mindfulness practice will help alleviate the stress and pressure that inevitably piles up around the holidays.

“Instead of aiming for perfection and letting every detail cast us into bouts of worry, we can use the holidays to actively appreciate people around us and our good fortune wherever we find it. Even when things fall apart, there’s often more to see. Often, when you let go of hard-and-fast expectations, you open yourself up to more opportunities for connection and joy.”

 

A Low-Tech Holiday

Leah Pellegrini for Clementine Daily

There are many wonderful things about technology. It connects us and makes our lives easier and more organized, but it also has the effect of taking us out of the moment. Leah Pellegrini shares her thoughts on the benefits of a low-tech holiday.

“The holidays are intended as a cherished time of coming together: joining in revelry, gathering around sacred rituals, and laughing, lounging, and luxuriating with loved ones. As tempting as it is to tune out Uncle Abe’s long-winded stories, or to take a breather from the chaos of full house, when you use technology for a ‘break’ it prevents making the genuine connections (good, bad or indifferent) that comprise the fabric of family relationships.”

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

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TAGS: art of living retreat center , Christmas , gratitude , holidays , mindfulness , stress
Art of Living Retreat Center

Exploring Wisdom: Is Stress Serving You?

By AOLRC
December 7, 2017

Art of Living Retreat Center

I like to ask people — is stress really working for you in your life? Some people really believe that if they don’t have stress in their lives, they won’t be motivated.

 

Though sometimes stress might call us to action, if we have too much stress in our system, we’re not able to have the awareness to effectively navigate the ups and downs of our life. When we have tools and techniques that allow us to deal with emotional and physical stress, we are able to live a more dynamic, enthusiastic life.

   

Lower Stress with the Happiness Program

It’s been 25 years since I participated in my first Happiness Program. What really struck me was feeling that the pressure cooker within myself could finally let off some steam. I was a young mother with small children, and sometimes our children can be instrumental to growing in our practice. They are the best button-pushers in the world. Parenthood is challenging at times, but after the Happiness Program, I found I had such inner strength to draw upon, just through my breathing.

 

The most powerful result of this program is inner connection — feeling comfortable and natural in my own skin — feeling at home within. When I felt more at home within, I was able to bring that everywhere with me.

 

You are Enough

So much of society tells us that we’re not enough. That we won’t be complete unless we’re a certain way, unless we purcha

 

se certain things. The Happiness Program says “Guess what? You have it all already.” It’s there. It’s just waiting to be uncovered. You have ‘garbage day’, which is what I like to call it, and you clean your soul out, and find more joy, more peace, more connection, and naturally, more happiness.

Art of Living is living our life more artfully, more in tune with ourselves, and when we’re in tune on the inside, we bring that harmony and that connection to everything that we encounter — people, places, and things.

 

by Denise Richardson


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , Happiness Program , stress
Art of Living Retreat Center

Ayurvedic Recipes: No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

By AOLRC
November 30, 2017

Art of Living Retreat Center
Life is about balance. Juggling hectic work schedules, busy families, and life’s occasional twists and turns can make the holidays especially challenging, and finding the proper balance between everything is essential in creating memorable moments and healthy environments.

 

To that point, food plays an especially important role throughout the holiday season. It provides the backdrop for conversation and the centerpiece for lasting memories. If you are trying to maintain your Ayurvedic principles while creating those food-centric memories, this simple, no-bake apple pecan pie is gluten-free, sugar-free, and sure to be a delicious, Ayurvedic exclamation point to any holiday gathering.

 

Although the sometimes harsh holiday weather can make in-season ingredients a bit scarce, both apples and pecans are harvested through December, so these basic Ayurvedic ingredients make this dessert an easy, time-saving recipe for your holidays.

 

Since it’s a no-bake recipe, however, make certain to choose apples you and your guests already enjoy. The almond butter and honey in the filling can provide a slightly gooier, almost caramel-like texture if you’re looking for something a bit more fun. A bit of cardamom can also be added if you like.

No-Bake Pie Crust

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 10 Medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

Pie Filling

  • 6 apples
  • 6 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • pinch of salt (Himalayan is preferred)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • dash of cardamom (optional)
 

Directions

  1. For the crust, start by roasting the pecans. This isn’t an absolute must, so for those that prefer a raw taste and texture, feel free to skip the roasting. Set the pecans aside, and then use an electric blender to macerate the dates. Slowly add the coconut oil and spices and thoroughly mix. Afterward, add the pecans and lightly pulse the mixture three times, enough to break up the pecans and mix well with the dates but not enough to turn the mixture into a butter.
  2. Remove the crust mix from the blender and press into a pie dish. Find a plate that can completely cover the pie dish and place it over the crust, with the plate facing upwards so it presses into the crust. If time is of the essence, put the covered crust into the freezer for an hour. Otherwise, place it in your refrigerator to properly set before adding the filling.
  3. Now for the fun part. To make the filling, start by blending the dates on high-speed until they are well mashed. Then, juice your lemon into the dates, making sure to set aside one tablespoon to sprinkle over the finished pie. Blend the lemon juice, spices and optional almond butter and honey until well blended. Now slice your apples and add to the mixture, blending until it starts to look like a very thick applesauce. Next, add the chia seeds and pulse a few times until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Afterwards, pour the mixture into the pie crust, being sure to spread evenly, then cover the pie and allow it to set in your refrigerator for at least four hours.

Of course, aside from being absolutely delicious, this tasty dessert can also help your body release toxins, support a healthy colon, is anti-inflammatory and is also good for your blood, eyes, and skin, all by using apples as the primary ingredient. So go find your favourite apples, break out that blender, and consider yourself better prepared and balanced for this holiday season.

Sources:

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

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Art of Living Retreat Center

The Practice: Sri Sri on Truth & Non-violence

By AOLRC
November 29, 2017

Art of Living Retreat Center

Of the many qualities we try to practice, two of the most important are truth and non-violence, and these two qualities are deeply linked. Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks on this in his series of commentaries on the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. 

Ahimsa pratishtayam tat sannidhau vairatyagaha’’ (II Sutra 35)
 

Ahimsa = non-violence; Pratishtayam = established in; Tat = his; Aannidhau = presence; Vairatyagaha = violence will be dropped.

“When a person is esablished in non-violence, then violence is dropped in his or her presence.”

 

If you are established in non-violence, in your very presence violence will be dropped by other creatures. Someone comes to attack you. As soon as they come near you, because your vibrations are totally nonviolent, they drop down. They stop being violent. The contemporary of Buddha, many of you in the West might not have heard his name. His name is Mahaveera. He is the promoter of Jainism, another religion. He emphasizes more on ahimsa. It is said that whenever he walked, twenty kilometers around him, people would drop all violence. The story goes even to that extent and says even the thorns would not prick anybody. The thorns would become soft and they would lie down.

 

Ahimsa pratishtayam tat sannidhau vaira tyagaha. When you are established in non-violence in your presence, violence drops down in other creatures.

 

Why is it that when we speak to some people or meet them, why do people become violent or angry at them? Why? This is because they have some seeds in them, vibrations of violence in them. That violence draws violence. So it is very useful to practice ahimsa. It also gives rise to tolerance.

 

Suppose you are sitting and someone comes and nags you. In your mind, you are angry and think, “Oh, God. I am going to hit this person, squeeze this person”. These type or thoughts arise in you. You do not hit that person. You cannot do it. You do not do it. But watch those thoughts which make you feel like hitting somebody. Why is that violence arising? What is the source of the violence? As you watch the source of violence you will see that violence disappears, dissolves and peace dawns. Yoga brings that inner peace which in turn establishes non-violence. Practice of non-violence is a two way traffic. Ahimsa brings about the union of the mind, peace of mind and when you are peaceful or calm within, you naturally become non-violent. Then the second principle is truth.

Satya pratishtayam kriya phala shrayatvam’’ (II Sutra 36)

 

Satya = truth; Pratishtayam = established in;  Kriya = action; Phala = fruits; Shrayatvam= will follow.

 

“When you are established in truth then the fruits of action will follow.”

 

When you become established in truth, your actions become fruitful. Any action you do will become fruitful. Many people do their actions, but their action does not bring about results. There is no truth consciousness inside. When there is truth consciousness inside, when you are established in the truth, the fruit of the action will follow the action immediately. It is the quality of the consciousness, of straight-forwardness. Even if you are telling a lie, you are bold enough to say, “I am telling a lie right now”. You are speaking the truth. When you are telling a lie, your consciousness is solid. It is not straight and forward. It is all wishy washy. There is no strength behind it. Isn’t it? A person who is committed to truth is committed to the presence of the being. For them success comes easily. Not that he will not encounter failure, but he will win. “Satyameva jayate”. The slogan “we trust in God” is written on American dollars. In India it is written “truth alone triumphs”. Truth will win though it may appear not to be winning.

This article first appeared on artofliving.org. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

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In House: Sage Brody & Heather Bilotta on Dance and Fear

By AOLRC
November 24, 2017

shake-your-soul-dance-retreat

 

Sage Brody and Heather Bilotta know that we were born to dance.  At their recent Shake Your Soul® retreat, they brought inspiration and freedom to their guests in the form of integrative dance, meditation, and mindfulness.  We sat down with Sage and Heather for a fun, fast-paced rapid-fire question and answer session about dance, fear, and the Art of Living Retreat Center. 

 

AoLRC: Dance!
SB: Dance is feeling what moves you in any way, and that could be a micro movement! It could just be my heart pulsing.

 

AoLRC: Soul.
HB: I feel soul the most in my body. So soul for me is the sweat after a good dance, the pulse of my heart, my feet on the ground.

 

AoLRC: Inspiration.
SB: Something that comes from deep inside that you may not even know is there – but then suddenly it is!

 

AoLRC: Lack of inhibition.
SB: Lack of inhibition is trying what might feel scary, and just seeing where it goes…
HB: And feeling the fear, and doing it anyway! I think for us, so much of our dance practice is about making room for the love of it, the joy of it, the sensuality, the groundedness, the spirit, but also making room for the awkwardness of it.
SB: It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to look good, and it doesn’t have to be a specific kind of expression. It’s something that’s fundamentally yours.
HB: Not caring about looking good is so important in the realm of yoga and dance, because we can have so much pressure for our bodies to look a certain way, to have a perfectly pointed toe or ankle, and we want to take dance away from that and back into the human realm, where it’s about spirit and connection.
SB: And as you move, and certainly in a group, connection is so important – to the ground, to spirit, to heart, and just seeing where that goes – not knowing where it’s going to go, and letting it happen.

 

AoLRC: Sacred dance.
HB: For me, sacred dance is about honoring tradition and those that came before us. Every spiritual and religious tradition has a dance. Shake your Soul is taking all of that, and putting it in the blender, and taking a combination of feeling our bodies and offering what comes from that, while honoring our ancestors as well.

SB: And we love all of the textures of world music – one song could be Balkan, one could be rap, the next song could be African drumming, and we love to explore how to honor all of these traditions and still express ourselves authentically while doing it.

 

AoLRC: Nerves.
HB: We welcome nerves!
SB: The person who stands on the side and watches for the whole thing is just as welcome to our class as everyone else. You know, nervousness doesn’t really go away. But we honor that resistance or fear.
HB: Just like a meditation practice.
SB: Fear, nervousness, resistance, excitement – they all have a place, and they create a space to exist within and to come forward with what’s real for you.
HB: For me it really happens on a body level. I tend to feel everything very physically. So for me, it’s really about how I can allow my body to hold the sensation happening as I experience emotion, rather than constricting physically against it.

 

AoLRC: Space.
HB: Humans are designed to hear and respond to music, and our job is to help you remember that.
SB: You get to be you while trying on different ways of being and moving that you may not be familiar with, and feeling into that natural place.
HB: It’s like that quote – “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and do that.”

 

AoLRC: The Art of Living Retreat Center!
HB: Beautiful!
SB: There’s this incredible energy at the Center.
HB: This beautiful space, well-maintained with staff and volunteers who were here to serve heart and soul. Seeing an organization living their practice and really moving from the heart – it really makes our job so much easier, and makes us want to come back again and again and spread the word.

 

AoLRC: Anything else you’d like to add about dance?
HB: For me, there’s a real naturalness to it. When I hear music, the first thing I want to do is move. Letting myself do that feels like a real gift to myself, and then to others when I teach.
SB: And for me, it’s a way to come out of what can be a really busy mind. So many of us live in our heads, and dance is a real invitation to feel our bodies, and to experience an act from that place rather than the habitual way we are in the world.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living retreat center , dance , freedom , Heather Bilotta , joy , Sage Peeler , Shake Your Soul