Sunday, December 30, 2018

Kripalu Yoga for the New Year

Step powerfully into the new year with yoga at the Temple of Joy Yoga Sanctuary! Kripalu Yoga teacher Jyoti (Jody Kessler) masterfully integrates ancient and modern wisdom using a creative sequence of postures, conscious breathing, and deep relaxation, and inspiring LIVE music, inviting life energy to flow more freely through us. The result is a total conditioning of body, mind and spirit. All levels and bodies are welcome. Try your first class FREE!

Kripalu Yoga with Jyoti
Temple of Joy Yoga Sanctuary
305 Taylor Place (on Ithaca’s West Hill)

Winter Session Jan 3rd-Feb 28th
Mondays, Thursdays & Saturdays 10:00-11:30 AM

Drop-ins welcome
First class FREE to newcomers!
Single class: $15
6-class package: $72 ($12 per class)

More info: or 607-272-0968

Jyoti (Jody Kessler) has been practicing yoga for over 35 years, and she is a certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher. She is also a performing songwriter and recording artist, a leader of devotional and ecstatic chant, and an ordained Interfaith Minister. A former schoolteacher, she holds a Master’s Degree in Education. Jyoti has led transformational workshops in spirituality and music at retreat centers and faith communities, and has been on faculty at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. She regularly leads Kirtan and global ecstatic chant with her band, ONE LOVE.

Jyoti is a 500-hour certified teacher and a member of the Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association. She is also a certified instructor of Let Your Yoga Dance ® , a chakra-based fusion of yoga and dance.

In her classes, Jyoti weaves together her gifts as a motivational speaker, teacher, troubadour, and yogini to create a truly unique and inspiring body/mind/spirit experience.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Ring Out, Wild Bells

I love this classic poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Written in 1850, it still feels weirdly relevant now, as I think about the references to the need return from the false to the true, and to the "sweeter manners and purer laws." And the "false pride in place and blood, the civic slander and the spite" speaks so strongly to life in America today. Ring out, wild bells, and please ring in more love, kindness, and healing of divisions in the coming year.

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let it die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let it go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all humankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant and the free,
The larger heart the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred Lord Tennyson  1850 (slightly paraphrased)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Mantra Repetition for Peace and Healing

Many yoga practitioners use a garland of mala beads for repetition of a mantra. This practice, known as Japa in Sanskrit, is a form of meditation that calms and focuses the mind while inviting the vibration of the mantra to do its healing work on the subtle body. So, in addition to developing greater concentration and inner stillness, in Japa meditation we benefit energetically from these ancient sacred Sanskrit sounds.

A full mala has 108 strung beads for counting (similar to a Catholic rosary), plus one “guru bead” that is connected to a tassel.  

There are also wrist malas which have 27 beads, and one can use them the same way, cycling through the garland four times to equal 108 repetitions.

The significance of the number 108 is open to interpretation, but has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism, Buddhism and yoga. Ancient Vedic mathematicians viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. And, according to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.

For more on the significance of108, click here.

How to do Japa:

1.   Sit comfortably with your spine elongated and your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to center and align yourself with your intention.
2.   If you have one, use a mantra for this practice, chanting aloud or silently.
3.   Hold your mala in your right hand, draped over your middle finger. Starting next to the guru bead, use your thumb to count each bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra. Do this 108 times, traveling around the mala, until you once again reach the guru bead. 
4.  Do not count or pass over the guru bead. If you want to continue the meditation and do more cycles of 108 repetitions, simply reverse direction and begin again. 
5.  When your mantra repetitions are complete, pause for a few moments in stillness to notice the effects and benefits of Japa meditation.

Some common, simple Sanskrit mantras:

OM: The primordial sound of the Universe
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha:  I honor Ganesha, the Lord of beginnings and Remover of obstacles
OM Namah Shivaya: I bow to Shiva, the Divinity Within 
OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya:I bow to the Beloved Divine Presence that lives in the hearts of all beings.
Om Mani Padme Hum: Behold the jewel in the lotus
Aham Prema:I am Divine Love
Ram:(a name for God)
Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu:May all beings everywhere be happy and free

You can also use mantras from other faith traditions and languages, if Sanskrit feels too unfamiliar to you.  Try working with “Thy will be done,” “I am that I am,” “Kyrie Eleison,” “Shalom,” or any liturgical phrase that connects you with a sense of peace and Divine Presence. Use whatever works for you. Your sense of devotion is what gives the practice its power.

It is recommended to work with a chosen mantra for a period of time (such as 40 days) to fully experience how a particular mantra affects you vibrationally. Pay attention and notice the internal changes in mood, energy and attitude, as well as the shifts in your life situation with regard to money, relationships, health, work, and more. Mantras are powerful medicine!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Celebrate the Sun with the Gayatri Mantra

In the Northern Hemisphere, the days are growing deliciously long and warm as we turn toward Summer Solstice.   As the light increases, it is the perfect time to chant the Gayatri Mantra, one of the oldest and most sacred mantras from the Vedas. It's a prayer to the Sun, asking that the radiance of the sun illuminate our minds and guide us on the path toward awakening. Below is the Sanskrit transliteration, followed by a few possible interpretations of the mantra. Interestingly, the translations I've found vary vastly. That's because Sanskrit is a language with many layers of meaning, more poetic than linear, and touches us on a vibrational level. If you google around on the web, I'm sure you'll find many more versions. But more important, I invite you to try chanting it and see what happens energetically in yourself.

Gayatri Mantra

Om Bhur Bhuvah Svaha
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dheemahi
Dhiyo yo na prachodayat  

Oh Divine Presence, Creator of the Universe,
May your supreme light
illuminate our intellect and guide us on the path toward enlightenment.
We meditate on that wondrous spirit of the Divine Solar Light, which shines in every dimension of life. May that Light inspire and guide our inner vision.                                                                                                   

Let us honor the unity of Divine Spirit
that pervades all realms of existance:
the earth, the atmosphere and the heavens.

May That most brilliant Divine Light
protect us, sustain us
and illuminate our consciousness

that we might realize
our inherent goodness,
our inborn divinity
and our unity with All That Is.

By this knowledge may our actions be inspired.

If you are interesting in learning how to chant the Gayatri, I am offering a workshop on June 20th, 2018, just in to honor the Solstice:

Listening to the Gayatri Mantra while performing sun salutations (facing east in the morning) is a powerful way to integrate sound and movement in our honoring of the sun. Our asana practice is also an opportunity to discover our own radiance, as breath and movement allow the chattering mind to drop into stillness. We begin to touch into That which is moving us, breathing us, illuminating us, and shimmering in each particle of our being.  May you enjoy that exploration and feel the glow!


Poetry, readings & words of wisdom from modern and ancient sources