Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Weekend with Dharma Mittra

Hello Friends,

I've just returned from a wonderful and inspiring weekend at Kripalu with the great living master Sri Dharma Mittra. He's the dude on that famous poster with 908 yoga poses. At 71, he is still quite impressive both on and off the mat.  I learned some new postures and powerful pranayama techniques, but much of the inspiration that I felt came from listening to his talks on scripture and the yoga lifestyle. 

Sri Dharma spoke at great length about the yamas and niyamas, the first two steps of the eight-limbed path of yoga. Yoga, he explained, is "purifying the mind, heart, and body to enter the kingdom of God," and yamas and niyamas are an essential part of that preparation.  We have 72 thousand psychic channels that run through us, and insight from God comes to us via these channels. Practicing yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances) serves to purify those channels, so that we may experience the deeper realization of and connection with the Divine Presence.

He also stressed the importance of eating a clean diet and cleansing the colon, as he believes that an unhealthy colon is the root of all disease. Sri Dharma is a staunch vegan and spoke at great length about the physical and spiritual benefits of renouncing meat. His interpretation of Ahimsa includes non-harming of any animals (This certainly made me squirm, as after being vegetarian most of my life, I returned to eating meat a few years ago. A long moral dilemma story, which I'll save for another post).

Dharma's humor and loving energy, along with his emphasis on the spiritual foundations of yoga, made it a joy for me to be in his presence. To learn more about this extraordinary teacher who is considered "the rock of yoga," visit www.dharmayogacenter.com

Fix your mind on Me alone, rest your thought on Me alone, and in Me alone you will live hereafter. Of this there is no doubt.

~Bhagavad Gita, translated by Swami Nikhilananda.

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