women’s march prep

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teacher sherry russell recently called on the shala’s love army to generate signage for the women’s marches happening in washington, d.c. and here in nyc (not to mention all over the country!). we think these gorgeous signs and banners will lend some much-needed color and joyful tenacity to the enormous gatherings taking place this inauguration weekend.

 

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self-care at the shala

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on a mild evening in early january, maria rubinate and ashley dorr treated both new and familiar faces to a cozy self-care workshop, including light asana practice, pranayama, art therapy, and a tutorial in seasonal ayurveda. one of the focuses of the workshop was how to identify and address symptoms of vicarious trauma as a result of intense, challenging, and emotionally-charged fields of works. it was a remarkably educational and soothing event, and we’re excited to hear that maria and ashley are considering making this a regular happening.

get cozy with the shala book club

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The Shala Book Club resumes with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This classic dystopian feminist novel seems like just the thing for our current state of affairs!

We’ll meet on January 28th, 5:45 to 7:15pm at The Shala Fort Greene

Tina’s Dhal

by Bibi Lorenzetti

One of my favorite winter foods is dhal. Dhal is a type of legume, usually split yellow or orange lentil. There are many different ways of making dhal soup, which tends to be nourishing and balancing for all doshas, depending on preparation.

I learned the following recipe from my cooking teacher in India, who is known to Westerners as Tina. She works on a camping stove set on a big rock in her living room. We gather around as she talks us through each step of cooking traditional Indian food. When the meal is ready, we—Tina, her students, family, and dogs—go outside to sit and eat together on big floor pillows in the shade of colorful fabrics.

For a while, I was making Tina’s dhal for special order at the Shala. I would pack a cart full of jars and wheel it from my Greenpoint apartment to the Bedford L, all the way to the Shala fridge. It was fun, but a lot of work! For those of you who enjoyed it and ordered it weekly, follow these steps.

You will need:

  • A Dutch oven, otherwise known as a cast-iron pot
  • A wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups
  • Grater
  • Pan or small pot
  • Stainer
  • Bowl
  • Spoon

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups of yellow or orange dhal
  • 3 1/2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp turmeric (I like to buy it fresh and grate, so I do 2 tsp turmeric; if you use powder then 1 tsp is enough)
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 4 dried red chili peppers (broken up)
  • Salt
  • A few stems of cilantro (to be chopped and added at the end)

 

Instructions:

Soak the dhal in a bowl with cold water for an hour. Drain and wash under cold water until water runs clear.

Transfer the dhal to the pot together with water, and turmeric. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove the residue that rises to the top. Reduce heat. Add salt. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until you see the dhal is getting mushy and soft, a paste-like consistency. Stir frequently throughout this process.

In a separate pan, melt ghee over medium heat. Add dried chilis, garlic, mustard and coriander seeds, grated turmeric and ginger. Stir seeds pop, then add the rest of powdered spices and fry for a few more minutes, stirring. Make sure the flame is low enough that seeds don’t burn and ghee does not dry up. You can always add a little more ghee if needed!

When dhal is ready (mushy, and water has been nearly completely absorbed), add the ghee and spice mixture to dhal and cook for a few minutes on low flame. Cover and let sit. Add cilantro as garnish upon serving.

P.S.

Balancing Doshas

Depending on your predominant dosha, you may want to add more or less of the following:

Grounding spices for vata: cardamom, fennel, nutmeg, asafoetida, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, mustard seeds, turmeric, ginger, garlic, chilis.

Cooling spices for pitta: cardamom, coriander, cilantro, fennel, cumin, turmeric, mint, parsley.

Warming spices for kapha: black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, cloves, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, turmeric, asafoetida, cilantro, coriander, cumin, parsley, cinnamon.

why essential oils?

By Julie Peacock

Are you using essential oils for your health and wellness yet? It’s amazing how healing and beneficial essential oils can be for your body, mind, and spirit. They have the power to lift the spirits, conjure up powerful memories, boost your energy, calm your nervous system, assist in healing the body, clean your home, and so much more.

I’ve been using essential oils for years, but once I discovered the certified pure therapeutic oils (CPTG) that doTERRA makes, I have experienced their many benefits—in my practice, with my kids, and with my clients. Consider peppermint. Peppermint not only freshens the breath, but can be used to soothe digestion, cool the body, help with focus, and relieve various aches and pains.

The other day, right before my Mysore practice, I was experiencing a tension headache. Instead of popping a couple of Advil, I dabbed a drop of peppermint on each of my temples and at the base of my skull. My headache was gone within minutes. And that’s just one way to use peppermint—there are so many others!

Check out my November 5th workshop (12pm-2:30pm at The Shala Union Square), where we’ll practice getting grounded using yoga, nutrition, and essential oils. See more information here.

fort greene garden

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our fort greene garden has come a long way!

thank you to all the students and teachers who kept our garden watered and cared for this summer. it looks beautiful and well-loved!

pratyahara

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II.55 tataḥ parama vaśyatā indriyāṇāḿ

tataḥ: then, from that

parama: the highest

vaśyatā: subdued, controlled, governed

indriyāṇāḿ: of the senses

Pratyahara results in the absolute control of the sense organs.  (Source: Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, B.K.S. Iyengar)

*

Pratyahara is the fifth limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed path of practice. It is the process of withdrawing the senses (indriyas) from objects of distraction, desire, or aversion, both outside of and within the mind. This prepares us for equanimous concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana). Like tributaries moving toward a greater body of water, the busy, individual trajectories of the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin are redirected for the purpose of reflection and insight. 

— Melanie Jane Parker

summer reading: shala book club

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with our next book club meeting slated for october 1, we are excited to announce paul beatty’s the sellout as our summer reading selection.

described by Kevin Young of the New York Times as a “metaphorical multicultural pot almost too hot to touch,” the sellout most certainly stands on its own. we have, however, selected two powerful supporting texts to be read alongside beatty’s brilliant satire: citizen by claudia rankine and between the world and me by ta-nehisi coates.

please read one, two, or all three books in preparation for our discussion and potluck in september! date and time TBD.

Fort Greene Garden Update

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A big thank you to Maria Rubinate for organizing the garden restoration project, and to Maureen, Claire, and Calvin (among others), who aided in the transformation of the Shala’s green space. It took a tremendous amount of work (which is still ongoing) to dig up and remove decades of debris. If you are interested in lending a hand, please speak with Maria Rubinate or sign up on the Fort Greene Shala bulletin board. Gardening season is near!

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yoga sutra 1.4

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Drawing for Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake, Utah, Robert Smithson, 1970

1.4 वृत्तिसारूप्यमितरत्र ।।४।।

vṛtti-sārūpyam-itaratra

At other times (itaratra), it takes the form (sarupyam) of the mental activities (vritti). or: Conformity to the operations elsewhere.

It is natural for our minds to identify with our thoughts and with the objects around us. This is the basis of avidya, or ignorance of our real Self — confounding all the changeable things around us with our own true nature. This true nature (atman, purusha, soul, the seer) is said to be eternal and unchanging, and is pure awareness.

This sutra tells us that when we lose touch with our own being, chitta (the mind, or thinking faculty) manifests itself in place of the seer. We then become bound by time and space.

When the mind is not resting in its own true being, it takes the shape of the vrittis. We think the thoughts we have are who we really are. This avidya, the source of all suffering, clouds our perception. When we ‘clean’ our minds our thoughts and actions are not colored and dictated by our misperceptions.

With practice, we can avoid behaving in ways we don’t intend, and can stop ourselves from saying things we regret. Practice allows us to make a habit of being true to ourselves. This intention becomes a habit of awareness. Though we will fluctuate back and forth, identifying ourselves with our mental activities, we can catch ourselves and let go.

Vyaas Houston of the American Sanskrit Institute has said:

“If I don’t remain the seer, continually aware of the field; if nirodhah is not occurring, there is conformity to the vritti. I never lose my original identity — I just think I do.

One or the other is taking place. Either yoga is taking place or there is identity with vritti.”

— Jenny Meyer + Barbara Verrochi

 

new york cares coat drive

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a big thanks to shevy katan for organizing the ny cares coat drive and to all of the shala and now yoga students for contributing coats. your generosity helped NY Cares receive more coats then they ever have in their 27 years of programming!

The Shala Book Club: What We’re Reading

We kicked off the Shala Book Club redux with Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. Next up is Paul Kalanithi’s “great, indelible” memoir, When Breath Becomes Air. Book club discussion facilitated by Melanie Parker and potluck on Saturday, April 16th, from 5:45 to 7:15pm.

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thank you martin luther king

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excerpt of speech on Civil Rights, Segregation & Apartheid South Africa, london 1964

I’m not talking about a weak love. I’m not talking about emotional bosh here. I’m not talking about some sentimental quality. I’m not talking about an affectionate response. It would be nonsense to urge oppressed people to love their violent oppressors in an affectionate sense, and I have never advised that. When Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” I’m happy he didn’t say, “Like your enemies.” It’s pretty difficult to like some people. But love is greater than like. Love is understanding creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. Theologians talk about this kind of love with the Greek word agape, which is a sort of overflowing love that seeks nothing in return. And when one develops this, you rise to the position of being able to love the person who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. And I believe that this can be done. Psychiatrists are telling us now that hatred is a dangerous force, not merely for the hated, but also the hater. Many of the strange things that happen in the subconscious, many of the inner conflicts, are rooted in hate. And so they are saying, “Love or perish.” This is why Erich Fromm can write a book entitled The Art of Loving, arguing that love is the supreme unifying force of life. And so it is wonderful to have a method of struggle where it is possible to stand up against segregation, to stand up against colonialism with all of your might, and yet not hate the perpetrators of these unjust systems. And I believe firmly that it is through this kind of powerful nonviolent action, this kind of love that organizes itself into mass action, that we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation and the world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. Certainly this is the great challenge facing us.

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/1/19/exclusive_newly_discovered_1964_mlk_speech

Meditation

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….in countries like India or Burma or Tibet, where meditation practice is more widespread, practitioners are counseled to look for qualities like kindness and compassion as the metrics of whether their practice is proving effective or not. And, as I was taught in each of those places, look not towards your formal period of practice — your retreat experience, or the time you might put into meditation each day, however long or short — look to your everyday life to see signs of the possible efficacy of the practice: How are you with yourself when you’ve made a mistake? How attentive are you when meeting a stranger? How rigidly do you categorize people, and then cease to pay attention to them altogether? How might you be creating an “other” that you then discount or disdain?

Read more from Sharon Salzberg’s weekly post on On Being.

http://onbeing.org/blog/exploring-lovingkindness-in-the-lab-and-in-the-heart/7778

yoga sutra 1.3

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Still Life Apples and Pears by Gustave Courbet, 1871

1.3 तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम् ।

TADĀ DRAṢṬUḤ SVA-RŪPE ‘VASTHĀNAM

tadā — then
draṣṭuḥ — of the seer (draṣṭṛ — the seer)
sva — one’s own (as in ‘swami’ — boss, owner)
rūpe — in being, (rūpa — form, body)
avasthānam — established, abiding, standing
from ‘ava’ — a prefix meaning away, down, off
and ‘sthāna’ — standing, from root ‘sthā,’ to stand’

When the vṛttis, or turnings of the mind, become quiet, when we are no longer bound by the patterns of our mind (Sūtra 1.2), we can fully connect with our inherent stability.

The seer (draṣṭṛ, pure consciousness) is unchanging and not subject to the vṛttis.

In the Bhagavad Gītā, the seer is called the Ātman, and is described by Kṛṣṇa in this way:

Neither is this (the embodied self) born nor does it die at any time,
Nor, having been, will it again come not to be.
Birthless, eternal, perpetual, primeval,
It is not slain when the body is slain. bg 2.20

Weapons do not pierce this (the Embodied Self),
Fire does not burn this,
Water does not wet this,
Nor does the wind cause it to wither. BG 2.23

It is said that this is unmanifest,
Unthinkable, and unchanging.
Therefore, having understood in this way,
You should not mourn. BG 2.25
—translation Winthrop Sargeant

— jenny meyer + barbara verrochi

yoga sutra 1.2

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Northeaster, 1895, Winslow Homer

1.2 योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः

YOGAŚCITTAVṚTTINIRODHAḤ

YOGAḤ-CITTA-VṚTTI-NIRODHAḤ

Yoga means stopping mental activity.

Patanjali defines yoga as nirodha, or a quieting of the vrittis (fluctuations) of the citta (mind, intelligence, and ego). ‘Nirodhah’ literally means ‘stopping,’ so ‘stilling’ is a good way to understand this sutra. The word ‘nirodhah’ is cognate to ‘erode.’ ‘The root is rudh — to obstruct.  And it seems the vrttis (the whirlings of the mind) are gradually worn away like that — eroded as we become established in our own being.

— jenny meyer + barbara verrochi

Oprah Winfrey interview with Thich Nhat Hanh

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Thich Nhat Hanh has been a Buddhist monk for more than 60 years, as well as a teacher, writer, and vocal opponent of war – a stance that left him exiled from his native Vietnam for four decades. Now the man Martin Luther King Jr. called “an apostle of peace and nonviolence” reflects on the beauty of the present moment, being grateful for every breath, and the freedom and happiness to be found in a simple cup of tea. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ9UtuWfs3U

for full interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PCXeHNL3s8