Maui Yoga Blog

Applying the wisdom of the Yamas: Ahimsa starts here

The meaning of the Sanskrit word ahimsa is non-harming or non-violence. One association with ahimsa is the decision to not eat animal products, but no matter what your dietary choices, ahimsa refers to a quality of care for self and others. Our practice of ahimsa is about our intentions, thoughts and words as well as our actions. Choosing to cultivate the habit of unconditional loving kindness toward ourself is the beginning of compassion and the foundation of practicing non-harming. 

Yoga Teacher Training

Making the intention to live ahimsa in your life is an important step in your yoga practice, and requires the willingness to look honestly at the way we think. So often we criticize and push ourselves,  expect too much or not enough or settle for suffering that arises from unloving choices in thought and action. Violence toward our own body/mind can be subtle, and in order to see and change those patterns, we must look closely and decide to be kinder to ourselves. Noticing our patterns of thought, and bringing mindfulness to our reactions and habits is how we start. 

Ahimsa starts with getting to know yourself better, looking at your life with the eyes of love and kindness.  Ask yourself what it is your truly need, and move toward peace by choosing love in all your moments. Take the time today to start the practice of ever-deeper compassion with yourself today….and it will overflow to all your interactions and choices.  Here in Hawaii, we call that ‘Living Aloha’ ! Namaste’ !

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras on Asana – Pt. 1

patanjali maui yoga sutras asana revolved crescent
Maui Yoga Shala Teacher Training

Many yogis on the path have heard about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s. Is it a book that lists yoga poses we do on the mat or out in nature? While there are many such modern yoga texts with pictures and descriptions of yoga poses, or āsanas, we begin to see that the Yoga Sutras is more about our relationship to reality via the mind on it’s path to realizing the soul. The few sutras on yoga poses addresses the mind-body-spirit connection.

Chapter 2 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s is called Sadhana Pada, or the practice to achieve yoga.    Sādhana (Sanskrit साधन), is practice, “a means of accomplishing something”. In this chapter, or pada, the philosophy of ashtanga yoga (the 8 limbs of yoga) is presented to us. Number 3 of the 8 limbs is called āsana – the pose or the posture that we commonly practice on the mat. In this chapter we are given three definitive sutras to explore and practice regarding asana.  Starting with pada 2, sutra 46:

2:46 Sthira Sukham Asanam

The posture is steady and ease-filled

Chanting this mantra together in a class tunes us into the vibrational frequency of the sutra – the teaching is directly transmitted to our heart.  Now a yoga class can venture into varying degrees of intensity. And some of our yoga poses don’t seem steady or ease-filled! Our challenge is often to relax once we’ve put forth major effort with breath control playing a complementary role. Here comes sthira – stillness, steadiness, stable.  Along with sukham – ease, comfort, in a good space.

While the seated meditative posture is essential to have these qualities, what about all the other postures?  In each pose, with varying degrees of challenge according to each individual, a continual self-effort will lead one out of places of discomfort and limitation, to a sense of profound ease and expansiveness – a good space.  When the mind becomes perfectly still in the pose, sthira and sukham is the effect of the present moment.  Think of the controlled motion and muscular action of moving into warrior III pose, and then the light & grace that establishes you in the center of that asana. The effort, and possibly previous strain, leads to a sense of balance and ease, a realized connection of spirit that makes the body feel light and free.  Now let’s take that sense of ease and steadiness into whatever activity we’re doing!

warrior 3 virabhadrasana 3
Rosana Baena demonstrates Warrior III ( Virabhadrasana, Sanskrit वीरभद्रासन )

In the next post in this series we’ll look at at Pada 2, Sutra 47, where effort meets infinity – Part 2.

The Abundant Life

Abundance is one of those words that is used often but means different things to different people. We in the land of aloha see abundance as a way of life, a grateful perspective on life rather than a goal. An abundant approach to living is seeing with the eyes of gratitude, wonder and a sense of possibility…a willingness to trust in Life and what we have to work with now. Seeing with the eyes of compassion, trust and Love is an act of abundance and generosity, and creates an energy that attracts all kinds of good things. An abundant perspective is one willing to look beyond what seems to be lacking to what is being given and what can be learned in every situation.

When we trust in enough-ness and plenty, when we look around to see that all that we need is here, we are more willing to share and open to receive, and let ourselves love and be loved. Here in this moment, we can let go of all those past conditioned views that set us up for struggle and tell us that we lack what is needed. Our hearts are abundant, this universe is plentiful and magical…it is our choice to open to that and receive what this day has for us, and learn to give from that place of abundant Love and Aloha.  How blessed we are!

Yoga – Union

The word ‘Yoga‘ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. We can go on to say that yoga means unifying what seems to be opposite – body and mind, inner and outer, head and heart. When we synchronize breath and movement in our regular practice, we build our capacity to be present and we literally change our brain in the direction of wellbeing and compassion.  In other words, yoga moves us toward wholeness, intelligence and healing at all levels of our being.

Our practice helps us realize our human potential by linking our mind and our heart, helping us be the best we can be and more wholly and truly ourselves.  Yoga cultivates what is good and true in us, and can give us the strength and balance to share that with others. Our practice encourages us to blossom…. just like a flower in the sun, shining the gifts of its unique beauty to the world. 

At the Maui Yoga Shala we are blessed to be transmitting the wisdom teachings of yoga in our teacher trainings.  It is so fulfilling to know that as our students become teachers themselves, they will go out into the world to inspire, support and encourage others on this path of  union, and in their own unique way, shine the light of love and aloha to all they encounter. 

Yoga and the Spirit of Aloha


Here in Hawaii,  aloha is more than just a greeting, it is a way of life. The spirit of aloha is the heart-centered way of love, compassion and connection.  

We of course first associate the word aloha as a hello or good-bye.  If we look a little deeper, the meaning of aloha is quite special.   Aloha is an essence of being:  love, peace, compassion, and mutual understanding.  Aloha means living in harmony with the people and land around you with sympathy, grace, and kindness.  The direct translation from Hawaiian to English is the presence of divine breath. The Hawaiian word alo is presence, front and face, and ha is breath.

In our practice of yoga we remember our breath as a way to bring us back to the moment, to link body, mind and heart. With aloha there is a recognition of the breath, the spirit within us, and the spirit that we all share. When we say aloha, we recognize that we share our very breath, and acknowledge and respect that sacred connection. In much the same way, when we practice yoga, we center in our body and mind through our breath, we come into union with ourselves and the moment….from there it natural to connect to each other from our hearts, from what is best in us. 

Yoga cultivates aloha….and aloha inspires our yoga lifestyle. What a beautiful way to live a life that brings light to ourselves and the world.

Aloha is ultimately the recognition of the divine within oneself and the other – Namaste’ anyone? Aloha!