Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First time ever

On a completely empty CTA train.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One more saint is coming to town this summer....and it's a biggie.

H.H. The Dalai Lama

Sunday, July 17, 1:30pm
UIC Pavilion in Chicago
Tickets $36 to $139 (the cheap tix are long gone)

Details here.
Click here to read my article about the Dalai Lama at Millennium Park. It. was. amazing. (The article ain't bad, either)

Thanks to Maybelline for the tip.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Holy Summer, Batman!

Souljourns - Amma - The Hugging Saint - Mata Amritanandamayi - Ted Henry from Ted Henry & Jody Cleary on Vimeo.

Amma / Sri Mata Amritanandamayi (the hugging saint)
Tuesday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 29
at The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center

Morning program: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm approx
Evening program: 7:30 pm to 2:00 am approx

6:00am Homa (Fire Ceremony). This is very special and highly recommended.
Morning program: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm approx
Evening program [Devi Bhava*]: 7:00 pm to 5:00 am approx

All programs are free.
More details here.
Read my article about Amma here.

(NOTE: The "good stuff" in this video starts at 1:08)

Sri Dharma Mittra
Friday, July 8 to Sunday, July 10
at the Yoga Journal Conference, Grand Geneva in Lake Geneva Wisconsin
(If you can only go for one day, his all-day Friday intensive is $285)

More info here
Click here to read my article about his Chicago workshop.

H.H. The Dalai Lama

Sunday, July 17, 1:30pm
UIC Pavilion in Chicago
Tickets $36 to $139

Details here.
Click here to read my article about the Dalai Lama at Millennium Park. It. was. amazing. (The article ain't bad, either)

Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananada Swamiji
(He is Kali Ray's guru, and his ashram is in Mysore)
Saturday, July 23 6:30pm
Music for Meditation and Healing
Elgin Community College Arts Center
1700 Spartan Drive in Elgin

It's free (and it may include dinner), but tickets are required. E-mail or

Saturday, June 25, 2011

At the Rubin Museum of Art til July 4... and online

I walked past the Rubin Museum a few times on my last trip to NYC. Each time, I stopped and stared at the deities outside. Why are they there? What's inside? Finally, I took some photos.

I showed the pics to Catesey, who told me I had to go to the museum, which specializes in the art of the Himalayas.

The Rubin Museum of Art has the largest Western collection of religious art from cultures of the Himalayan mountain range, including those of Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan as well as the interrelated traditions of India, Mongolia, and China.

So the next day, between classes at Dharma's, after a live vegan feast at Bonobo's (which required a lot of chewing), Parvati and Kali went to the Ruben Museum.

It was amazing.

The most dramatic and arresting display was the first one saw: a golden Tibetan shrine room that was utterly exquisite. Like good little yoginis we immediately knelt down, paid our respects, and then sat on the floor in reverie. It was stupefyingly still and beautiful. We could have stayed there for eons.

Rubin Museum of Art: Art of the Himalayas - The Tibetan Shrine Room

A spectacular shrine room on loan from the Alice S. Kandell Collection allows visitors an extraordinary opportunity to experience Tibetan Buddhist art in context. Containing approximately 170 works of art created between the 13th and 19th centuries from the Tibetan Plateau, China, and Mongolia, the shrine room highlights the religious context in which these sacred objects would be found in a private Tibetan shrine.

All of the objects - thangkas as well as sculptures of buddhas, bodhisattvas, tantric deities, female deities, wrathful deities and teachers - are arranged on traditional Tibetan furniture and according to the hierarchy they assume in Tibetan Buddhist practices. Ritual objects, such as butter lamps, offering bowls, vajras and bells, rosaries, conch trumpets, horns and reeds, and hand drums, are also on view.

The Tibetan Shrine Room exhibit lasts through the end of the year; view more images here.

We also saw many antique Tibetan carpets and statues of various gods.

One murthi, of the Buddha, showed Him with his hair up, save for two curly strands of hair that ran down the sides of His neck. I wore my hair like that the following day, thinking I was on the cutting edge of asceticism (that is, until I saw a woman with the exact same hairdo on Million Dollar Decorators).

* * *

Somehow, we missed Thomas L. Kelly's photo exhibit, Body Language: The Yogis of India and Nepal.

Somehow, though, I caught it on the Huffington Post this morning.

And it too is amazing.

In fact I was late to Suddha's Mysore class this morning because I was so engrossed in the images and their captions.

Aghori, 2000
Pashupatinath, Kathmandu, Nepal

The Aghori sub-sect of Shaivas closely resembles one of the earliest organized groups of Hindu ascetics, the Kapalikas, or "bearers of skulls," who originated
in the ninth or 10th century. Like the modern-day Aghori, Kapalikas worshipped the terrifying manifestation of Shiva, Bhairava, and were known to perform human sacrifice, which often involved offering their own flesh to the deity in acts of self-mutilation and even ritual suicide. Though these extreme practices have evolved into symbolic acts today, the Aghori still use human skulls in rituals, as seen in this photograph. Drinking out of a skullcup (kapala) is a magical act in which the sadhu partakes of the deceased's life force, controlling it with the use of mantras. The skull also serves as a constant reminder of human mortality and the necessity of conquering the duality of life and death.

Because of their taboo behavior, Aghori ascetics remain on the furthest fringes of Hindu society. They drink alcohol, eat meat and use obscene language, transgressions that defy conventional Hindu rules of purity and pollution. Through ritual activities that deliberately combine behavior considered sacred and profane in the Hindu tradition, the Aghori seek to see all things as one, especially opposites.

Check out the photo exhibit here.

Make sure you read the captions, which contain a lot of valuable information about yoga. Kelly explains who the people are and how/whom they worship as well as the symbolism of their dress and tilak marks....

and notice how different they look from our bhogis, er, yogis.

Kukkuta Asana, 2010
Pashupatinath, Kathmandu, Nepal

Aside from a life of simplicity and religious focus, many sadhus engage in a diverse array of practices, both internal and external, in order to attain higher states of awareness and consciousness. This sadhu has chosen Hatha yoga and shows off the results -- a well-disciplined, strong body -- by holding the kukkuta asana, or "cock pose." Although Hatha yoga is partially physical in nature, there are many internal, mental practices that accompany the outer, physical postures. Through the united control of body and mind, the sadhu prepares for deeper, more advanced meditation.

Hatha yoga also helps the ascetic with sexual discipline and sublimation.
Through yogic techniques that manipulate and control the body's physical processes and energetic principles, a sadhu's semen may be retained and converted into shakti, the divine female power that is the basis of all creation.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

KD @ the Vic

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Devotional and/or Indian...

Click here for info on the city's Eye on India festival, July 8-17.

Thursday, June 23 7:30pm
Krishna Das kirtan (call-and-response chanting)
at The Vic $34 + $12 ticketing fee (unless you buy in person at box office)

Sunday, July 3 8:30pm
Ustad Imran Aziz Mian
Qwali & Sufi Festival 2011

with Raga Boyz
Intercontinental Hotel O'Hare
5300 N. River Road in Rosemont
Tickets $35 and up (at Al-Mansoor Video on Devon Ave.)

Like his father, the great Aziz Mian, Imran's voice is raspy and powerful, and he writes his own lyrics (though, like others, he also sing songs written by other poets).
Imrans Aziz Mian's qawwalis focus more on chorus and on emphasising the main point of the qawwali through repetition; very little attention is paid to the musical part of the qawwali. Imran has a knack for reciting poetry to the effect that touches the audience's hearts. He brought a lot of passion to his live performances. One of the trademarks of his stage performances was his habit of getting carried away and rising to his knees (from the normal sitting position) while reciting poetry in the middle of a qawwali, losing contact with the microphone in the process.
He is fond of discussing religious and Sufi paradoxes in his qawwalis. He directly addresses Allah (God) and complained about the misery of man (the best creation of the Almighty). Most of the poetry in which Aziz Mian addresses Allah was written by Allama Iqbal. He also has performed poetry by a number of contemporary Urdu poets, including Sadiq and Qateel Shifai. A Pakistani comedian Umar Sharif has said in one of his stand-up shows about Imran Aziz Mian: "Other people have disputes on earth, his disputes are in heaven. He altercates with Allah."

Friday, July 8, 8pm
Dr. L. Subramaniam, Carnatic music violin virtuoso
Joined by the Chicago Children's Choir and Natya Dance Theatre
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
205 East Randolph in Chicago
Tickets $35-70
Dr. Subramaniam in from Chennai (Madras) in Tamil Nadu

India's leading violinist, Dr. L. Subramaniam is often called "The God of Indian Violin." Playing in the classical Carnatic style, Subramaniam has made historic collaborations and recordings with Yehudi Menuhin, Stephane Grappelli, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc Ponty, Corky Siegel and Ravi Coltrane. Over the years he has created works for the world's greatest orchestras including The New York Philharmonic (with Zubin Mehta), The Swiss Romande Orchestra, The Kirov Ballet, The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and The Berlin Opera (Global Symphony), a live concert which was broadcast simultaneously across 28 nations to millions of viewers.

Thursday, July 14 6:30pm
Susheela Raman at Millenium Park

One of the most interesting musicians to emerge amongst the South Asian Diaspora, Susheela is equally at home with South Indian Classical as with Jimi Hendrix, Fela Kuti, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Aretha Franklin (plus she is of Tamil descent). She has gained immense critical and popular acclaim for her records. Her dreamily seductive Salt Rain album went gold in France and was short-listed for the UK's Mercury Prize. Accompanied by tabla player Aref Durvesh, guitarist and producer Sam Mills, and Rajasthani Folk musicians: Kutle Khan, Chugge Khan and Nathoo Lal Solanki.
Susheela's multi-layered vocals lead an inclusive sound of traditional folk and rare South Indian Raga.

Friday, July 15 1pm
Rajasthani Folk Musicians Featuring Nathoo Lal Solanki, Kutle Khan and Chugge Khan
Millennium Park Family Fun Tent
201 East Randolph Street.

This is the show I don't want to miss. Watch the video and you'll understand why.

Rajasthan is a musical powerhouse, especially when it comes to the folk ecstatic side of Indian music. Here we present three celebrated Rajasthani musicians:
Nathoo Lal Solanki is the acknowledged master of the Nagara drum which he plays with outstanding dexterity and an explosive technique.
Kutle Khan is a great vocalist and improviser. He has performed at major venues worldwide and is the rising star of Rajasthani folk music.
Chugge Khan, responsible for putting the Rajasthani Morchang on the world map, is a multi- instrumentalist, playing string and percussion instruments. He is one of the most extensively traveled folk musicians from India.

Saturday, July 23 6:30pm
Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananada Swamiji
(He is Kali Ray's guru, and his ashram is in Mysore)
Music for Meditation and Healing
Elgin Community College Arts Center
1700 Spartan Drive in Elgin
It's free but tickets are required. E-mail or

His Holiness Sri Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji of Mysore, one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the present day is an asset to India and the world at large. He is an incarnation of the Great Cosmic Power. Revival of culture, reformation of society and establishing peace and happiness among mankind and transforming into godly men is his mission. His methods include: establishing Dharma.* and Bhakti.* by singing devotional hymns, by reciting the names of the Lord Almighty and inculcating the masses by instilling into them love of God through chorus singing of Bhajans and listening to his meditation-music.
Sri Swamiji is traveling the world to help seekers discover that everything is God. In Him devotees find compassion, love and divine wisdom as He guides them on the path of Yoga sadhana - to discover and realize their true Self. Sri Swamiji conveys an important part of His message through His music, being noted for His namasankirtan. Sri Swamiji's music is devotional and used for spiritual energy transmission. This great master sings self-composed bhajans in Sanskrit, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and English and plays ayurvedic healing ragas on an electronic synthesizer, accompanied by musicians on classical Indian instruments. Devotees around the world claim to have received immense benefit through his concerts, everything from physical healing to spiritual guidance, and great outpourings of divine love.
It is easier to describe what He does than to say who He is. To begin to know who he is one must experience him, one must adopt the attitude of a seeker of God. Sri Swamiji speaks simply and to the heart in fact He is a silent teacher who teaches through your own love and devotion . To experience Him is to begin to know one's own true self.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

does not require a subtitle

Friday, June 17, 2011


Last night Jian Ghomeshi did his wildly popular CBC radio show live @ Victory Gardens Theatre.

Guests included rockin' local blues legend Lonnie Brooks, SNL's Seth Meyers and "Trainspotting" author Irvine Welsh - who lives here now for some reason.

Before the show, I rode up on my bike as Jian emerged from a taxi. I gave him a warm (for me) welcome & told him he was aboot to step into the alley where John Dillinger was shot.
(I think I may have scared him).

During the show, he was warm, engaged, quick-witted *and* easy on the eyes.

I love love love love live radio ( it's so hard to do it well) & he's a master.

It's inspiring to watch an artist who's clearly in his zone....

Wonder if he needs a yoga teacher.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

are the two primary deterants when it comes to self-surrender


Surrender is isvarapranidhana. The devotee consecrates all his works
and their fruits to the Lord. He has no will of his own. He says unto
the Lord, "I am thine. All is thine. Thy will be done. Thou art just.
Thou doest everything for me. I am an instrument in thy hands."

In surrendering one's will to the Lord, his will becomes one with the
cosmic will. He becomes one with the Lord. There is no loss in
surrendering one's will to the Lord.

Self-surrender is atma-nivedana, or prapatti. This is the highest
bhakti (devotion). The gopis of Vrindavan, Radha and Mira surrendered
everything at the feet of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna was their all.

In Kathopanishad it is said, "The Lord chooses that man who has
surrendered himself, reveals himself unto him and bestows the highest
wisdom on him."

The two obstacles to self surrender are egoism and desire. Egoism and desire wage guerilla war. They assume various forms and assail the devotee again and again. Be on the alert. Be ever vigilant. Slay the
egoism and desires beyond resurrection. Then alone will you be safe.

Your sadhana sakti (ability to practise) is grace of the Lord. Guru
is grace of the Lord. Sticking to the spiritual path is grace of the
Lord. Progress in sadhana is grace of the Lord. Revelation or
intuition is grace of the Lord. Descent of divine light is grace of
the Lord. Human birth is Lord's grace. All sorts of aids to sadhana
you get such as kutir (cottage), food, clothing, medical aid, good
place for meditation, books, satsanga (good company), etc., are his
grace only.

It is difficult to eradicate the self assertive nature. Every man has
built his personality from the beginning of time. He has allowed the
rajasic (impure) mind to have its own way. This personality has grown
very strong, it is hard to make it pliable and elastic. The self
assertive man wants to dominate over others; he does not want to hear
the opinions of others, even though they may be sound, logical and

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Last Sunday's New York Times had featured a spread on yoga tattoos by photographer Piotr Redlinski and Emily S. Rueb.

(That is, pictures of tattoos on the skin of those who practice yoga).

Most of those featured are teachers of course.

(Of course they are. Every third person at a BBQ these days is a yoga instructor).

Check out the rest here.

* * *

I don't have any tattoos. Do you?

(This former Mohawk-wearer came to the conclusion that it can far more subversive to look like a square on the outside while internally rejecting the mainstream lifestyle and the mainstream ways of rebelling against said lifestyle).

(This former agnostic also came around to the idea that the body is indeed a temple that houses the soul, and is thankful that hers doesn't have any graffiti on it. Scars, yes. Imperfections, yes. Wrinkles, yes. But not graffiti).

(This former hipster has also, finally, concluded that this preoccupation with name and form is an indulgence of the mind that serves as a distraction from the task at hand: discerning between what is real and Unreal, and seeing all as One.)

Thanks to Claudia for the tip.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Get it while it's hot.

My monthly newsletter is out (and has been for ten days).

Learn about upcoming workshops, retreats, kirtans, and visits by saints as well as my upcoming teacher training.

Plus there are always some helpful tips at the bottom.

Check it out here.

Subscribe here. It's free!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Alim Qasimov Ensemble of Azerbaijan

Alim Qasimov is a master of Mugham - a complicated vocal music that is often based on ancient Azerbaijani poetry, with recurrent themes of love and mysticism; performances can last for hours.

The performance by this living master is free! And out of doors! At 6:30pm!

Also on the bill.... The super-poppy Hakim - "The Lion of Egypt" - opens:

Hakim - HAKIM (The Lion Of Egypt) "Habousou"

More info on the weekly "Music Without Borders" series here.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Circa 2008 (pre-iPhone era)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

For when there isn’t enough time for a full practice

-20 Minutes: 5 Surya Namaskar A, 3B, Final Seated Poses, Take Rest

-30 Minutes: 5A, 3B, Fundamental Standing Poses, Final Seated Poses, Take Rest

-45 Minutes: 5A, 5B, Standing Poses, Final Seated Poses, Take Rest

-60 Minutes: 5A, 5B, Standing Poses, Backbends, Closing Sequence, Take Rest

-75 Minutes: 5A, 5B, Standing, Seated Poses through Navasana, Closing Sequence, Take Rest

Monday, June 06, 2011

Claire Dederer's Life in 23 Yoga Poses

I just finished Claire Dederer's memoir, Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses.

I was prepared to dislike this Seattle writer's memoir about her husband, kids and ongoing relationship with various yoga poses and instructors (including Richard Freeman, whom she refers to as "the genius."

But in the end I rather liked this memoir. Despite Dederer's sometimes clunky attempts to be glib, it is a love letter to yoga and, in a way, a growing up story.

I think that reading it somehow improved my teaching. One tends to forget that people are actually listening to what one says in class (and, apparently, that some are writing it down).

I also think it's improved my own writing.

You can read a review here.

I recommend it.

I do, however, have a few clarifications:

-On page 64 she described the five koshas but neglects to explain what they're covering. Instead, she confuses Anandamaya Kosha (the bliss sheath) with the Atman or soul. "'The bliss sheath is the truest self, the self most connected to the divine.'" No, even Anandamaya kosha is not the real, real self. It too is a covering (and, according to my guru, many yogis get stuck there because it is so pleasant, and go no further).

-Page 121's description of alternate nostril breathing is not correct. "You held your right hand to your nose, held your right nostril shut with your thumb while you breathed through your left nostril, held the breath for a bit, and then held the left nostril with your forefinger while you breathed out through your right nostril." Not the forefinger - which represents the ego and doesn't touch the face. The middle finger.

-On page 135 she says the two main Nadis (energy channels) are Ida and Pingala. There are actually three main Nadis: Ida (left), Pingala (right) and Shoshumna (the biggie in the middle).


NOTE: I got this book from the library. They let you order books online (and call you when they arrive). You can even renew online. Heck, I've head they even have something called e-books nowadays.

Saturday, June 04, 2011


I've been intrigued by small places for a long time. I'm always shocked when I see shows like "House Hunters," where single people often won't settle for less than three bedrooms and two baths. The mainstream American lifestyle is all about taking more than one actually needs. It also brings up the issue of greed, which is addressed in the Yoga Sutras:

aparigrahasthairye janmakathamtasambodhah
One who is not greedy is secure. He has time to think deeply.
His understanding of himself is complete. ~ Yoga Sutra II.39

The interest in small places was re-ignited while reading Swami Muktananda's "Play of Consciousness." He did much of his sadhana in the small hut, above. (The picture in the book is far more dear: it shows him as well as the beautiful mango tree that was like his best friend....the path can be very lonely even for the oldest of souls).

Then I saw this video, of a family that lives in 320-square-foot shotgun shack that cost just $15,000 new and is in a rural area, where they pay a little over $100 a month to lease the land:

And I thought, what a perfect place for sadhana....

Learn more about the Small House Movement here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

From the Bhagavad-Gita...

“The mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it.”