Schedule | Grant Ifflander
Hey yogis! Long-time no see!
In case you haven't heard, I've been offering Breathwork sessions online, and they are going great!
Each session we dive into the yogic philosophies and techniques that underpin this amazing modality (breathwork) and I will guide a simple but effective practice.
Great for anyone - beginner to advanced.
Come re-inspire your practice with the Sangha - via ZOOM!
The next one is happening Tuesday morning. You can check it out over here: grantifflander.com/breathcamponline
Schedule | Grant Ifflander
One of the great Vedic scholars from the 11th century, Ramanujacharya, was a key proponent for actualizing principles that are crucial to our yoga practices today. In a modern and conversational way, we will attempt to summarize what he was bringing forth. Master Ramanjua suggested that, although "All is One", there is an apparent duality or separation that occurs. Basically, our mind does not always believe that it is Whole. The mind's nature is to seek. If we were all existing in total harmony with "the One", our reality would be quite different, no? Thus, it may be prudent to conclude that any frustration we experience in life is due to a (mis)perception that is experienced as separation from "the One".
A few centuries after his theological and philosophical conclusions, we have the emergence of what is known today as Hatha Yoga - a system of yoga that deals directly with the mind and body ("Ha" meaing Solar, "Tha" meaning Lunar). This path works with inherent and yet opposite life-force energies within the human being and seeks to unify these energies.
To practice according to the principles outlined by this great tradition will harmonize our system in a way that allows us to directly experience our connection to life itself. It is a cosmic tuning process. Instead of inspirations being burdens to carry, we discover that through the yoga practice, these evolutionary impulses of life can become actualized. This is true human spiritual transformation. This is enlightenment. It is not a distant aspiration or New Age concept.
We know that this is possible to attain NOW (Yoga Sutra 1.1 atha yoganushasanam), provided we perform the practices effectively and efficiently. Our self-actualization may continue to blossom beautifully over time, but one step in the appropriate direction becomes the reward itself. Avoid the traps of the mind that have us believing otherwise. Do the practice, and let "yoga as union" become an experiential reality and not a goal to attain.
The Three Principles
The Three Principles
It is helpful to arrange this principles according to their relation to the ancient yogic teachings, but it is not necessary. If one finds value simply in the t
The tuk-tuk driver bounced along broken streets illuminated by equally broken streetlights and a not-so-broken full moon. The contrast was unique to the place I'd found myself. The beauty of this sacred land remains hidden underneath layers of symbolism and the stark juxtaposition of wealth and poverty in all its different expressions. Just like the peculiar glow of that full moon which bathed the scene with muted illumination, and the struggling lampposts that casted their dim light on the poorly maintained streets ahead.
It seemed that whoever maintained the streets was also responsible for the maintenance of the tuk-tuk I was riding in as it ricketed along. Which is to say that there probably wasn't a maintenance man. Most of India seemed to be like that - just a continuation of buildings and new stuff constructed to take the place of less effective stuff.
The bus driver of the bus I had just departed from told me we had reached our destination. Rishikesh - a city thousands of years old, nestled at the base of the Himalayas in Northern India. It seemed like my journey here was the extension of a dream, and I hope only to capture the surreal nature of my experiences that led me to, through, and beyond this mysterious land....
If you want to read more -- comment below!! The story continues... it is a co-creation. What do you want to hear about???
Kayla Michelle CareyJaden RamseyJosh [email protected] ... Thank you for really showing up and getting down with me yesterday! Awesome practice. Looking forward to our next. Peace :)
Kriya Yoga in the Light of Recent Findings in Neuroscience
"As everything is changing, the brain produces uncomfortable signals of threat to its stability, and these signals keep coming, coloring them with feelings: pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. We approach what is pleasant, avoid what’s unpleasant, and move on from what is neutral."... "Humans imagine, or simulate experiences with desire and fears. Once satisfied, desires prove to have been exaggerations. So too, do our fears turn out to be exaggerated or unreal. These keep from enjoying the present moment."
We are experts at self-sabotage. It is one of the many reasons practices such as yoga can help to alter our brain in a way so that we no longer see the world as a threatening place.
Great quotes from the article on the neuroscience of yoga: http://www.sutrajournal.com/kriya-yoga-in-the-light-of-recent-findings-in-neuroscience-by-marshall-govindan
Kriya Yoga in the Light of Recent Findings in Neuroscience
My Body is Not a Machine
"There is a reason why so many inconclusive test results end up becoming blind referrals to try yoga. The unspoken truth is that on some level what is happening in our bodies is magic. We are mystical beings existing on a planet surrounded by infinite space. When our understanding is capable of holding scientific knowledge with the humility of recognizing all that we do not know at the same time, then perhaps we will begin to better address our dysfunctions and more fully embody the wonder that defines us." Read more from J Brown - https://www.jbrownyoga.com/blog/2017/7/my-body-is-not-a-machine
My Body is Not a Machine
In the post-lineage void of the current yoga scene, conversations around safety and improving the quality of yoga teacher-training often turn to biomechanics for solutions. However, replacing one arbitrary imposition on our bodies with another does not address the real issues. Fostering safer spaces
I haven't written anything on here in awhile, and I have something urgent I must share. It's a message of gratitude... sincere, deep, heartfelt gratitude. To all of you, really. I feel fully supported in the endeavor to share my love of the yoga practice with the world. Many of you have attended my classes, allowing me to step up as a teacher and share my experiences with you all, accepting me as I am. Willingness to be led and trusting me as your guide.... I could not be any more honored, or any more impressed by your openness and dedication. Honestly, it is overwhelming sometimes. I just want to hug you all!
Your acceptance has watered the soil of my heart for my growth as a human being, and your love has been the light to germinate the seed planted there.
To everyone - thank you. Thank you. Thank you! I love you ALL ... namaste!
(I tried to tag everyone who has ever practiced with me. I know I am missing some. If I forgot to tag you - remind me! I promise I've not forgotten you :) )
Jinger FireGage GalushaJames ShieldsCalvin BurnsJaden RamseyCory CilasKolleen WhiteMark DevineOli MogliAmber JadeJennifer SharrowCatherine PollyGerard JobarChris Tai MelodistaJo GreenJosh BiermanChantil Beaver VelazquezBrryce AxelradAndre HicksAndy NgoKayleigh AdsettsKayMike AperJenny Hall ZimaRyan PerezAubrey LincolnKayla Michelle CareyKarly ElvirAndrew HuvveeParastoo BadieeBecca RiehlCrystal ToltecDana KingSion Sion FreestoneFreestoneHuxley NewellLori HollinsSarah JensenKristina LouiseTiffany LamPete MetrakosMyca PalmerAdéle SalesDaisy BowmanLaura WhitakerNeil KerrNicole BlanchardReyna Nicole OlveyHajni Szigeti-PálLou PerhamPoppy KoumisTom Ruddell
Grant Ifflander Yoga updated their website address.
Grant Ifflander Yoga updated their website address.
Nearly fully class for some yin yoga... how yummy. Thank you all for your support and continued dedication to practice!
Our body remembers the past... and our posture determines our reality!
The position our bodies are in, in space, determines the type and amount of information coming into our senses. It makes sense that if we open our eyes super wide, more light will enter the retina and thus allow us perhaps a brighter or more vivid picture of what is 'outside'. The opposite is also true - squint the eyes, and allow a smaller trickle of light through. We 'see' less of the world, because less information is coming in.
How might this pertain to our bodies, overall? Take this example and separate it into the two generalizations - expansion and contraction. Our eyes 'expand', or grow larger, to welcome in more information from the outside world. Our eyes 'contract' (squint) to reduce the load from the outside. Our bodies will do this exact same thing. We close ourselves off from the world by contracting forward, towards a fetal-like position. This is the ultimate position of safety because we first learned that we were safe in this position. Our brain, nervous system, and the body itself has remembered the fetal position from inception as we grew in the womb. We were ultimately cared for, nourished, and protected for many months in this position as our brains and bodies developed in utero. So when we are frightened by the world, we return back to the default operating system of core safety - a contraction inward to protect us, and hopefully remind us that we are safe. Our body remembers love!
Take it the other way. If we are expansive, with shoulders thrown back to expose the vulnerable heart space that we are so quick to protect when things get tough or our fears trigger automatic body reactions, we are telling the whole world through our posture that we know we are safe. We aren't just intellectually believing that we are safe... we are representing it totally with all of the cells in our body. At the cellular level, our bodies are not just communicating via English language (or any other language) thoughts. They are communicating in terms of vibration, intention, and 'body language'. There is a highway of nerve traffic and electrical impulses running throughout the body and the signals each cell receives about the outer environment is determined absolutely through the perception we place on the environment.
Perception perception perception! If we perceive the environment as safe, the body responds accordingly, and it will open up and be relaxed and natural. This is 'proper alignment' in our yoga practice, and a reason why these practices are so effective at producing incredible changes in our lives. We are revealing our natural state and natural posture - one of ease, balance, and harmony with the environment. One that is ultimately responsive and creative - NOT re-active, based on past events of trauma that have created a physical closure or contraction in the body to protect.
This is where practice comes in and is so important. Unless we willingly and consciously choose to view our outer environment differently, and adjust the inner environment accordingly to reflect this, we are just pretending. We pretend the world is a safe place to live and intellectually fantasize about it being so, yet our bodies and postures tell a different story. We pray for peace yet our prayers are with shoulders hunched up to the neck in a stressful position. The most powerful prayer we can make is one of action - one of encountering the trauma face-to-face in the body, coming in contact with our physical limitations through exposing bodily tension, and recognizing that it is ultimately tied up in the mind. Our mind is projecting a false illusion of safety into the body, but the body remembers the truth. It is anchored to this.
Until we, with consistent and enthusiastic effort, put these thoughts into action and practice them on our mats and in our lives, we will be acting out the scripts stored in our bodies and postures. It is the way nature has intended. We are built to survive, and until we re-write our script as one of expansion and evolution, nature will behave accordingly and keep us in a survival state. Our free will is given up and our unique ability to make choices of our own accord will be confiscated, and our lives will be chosen for us out of fear. It takes a conscious choice, a choice to love, again and again, to enter into our expansive nature. But it is our birthright. Join me as we practice.
Yoga is not something that you do. Yoga is what you are.
Perfection was already achieved in incomprehensible amounts leading up to our existence, which makes our life the result of innumerable perfect synchronicities. Think about it. Everything that you are currently is the result of everything that came before this moment. Actually applying the mind towards comprehending something so vast and infinite should be all we need to remain humble towards this incredible gift called life.
Offer yourself to life. It is giving itself so freely to you, with every breath. You are being breathed, as if the Universe is making a statement, commanding you to stand up and live a life of purpose, of meaning. If there is no purpose and meaning currently it is only because none has been chosen. Which makes something you can commit daily so important, just a demonstration of your willingness to show up. Call it a yoga practice, call it a walk with your dog, call it singing as you cook breakfast and dancing in the kitchen. Celebrate your life with intention every moment, and if you can't maintain this celebration at all times then dedicate space in your home before you immerse yourself in the world to celebrate.
Once we taste the joy that abides within us all, just waiting for us to knock on the door of eternity, it wants to welcome us back more often. And as we become welcomed into the inner abode of Heaven, it starts to be a familiar place. We want to go there often. We cherish our time to celebrate ourselves and our lives, feeling so loved simply through the recognition of our very life. We didn't ask for this. It was given to us, freely. The experiences of pleasure and happiness were options for us to participate in, just as were the experiences of pain and misery. Yet through all these finite experiences, One remains outside the realm of the finite world we've participated in.
Finding our connection to this One allows us to see that not only is it infinitely joyful to take care of our own selves, but that our duty lies in the world to be kind and compassionate to others. To brighten the world by blessing it with our joy. That only half the work is complete by going in; that the job isn't finished until we go back out. Again and again, we strengthen this connection by forgiving ourselves of our own selfishness and narrow vision which clouds our ability to see that we are indeed a part of this entire thing called life, and we have damn important role to play here.
You have a role to play, and you are so fu***ng important. Life is calling. Pick up.
The chakras as orders (dimensions) of consciousness.
Part One (this might take a while)
First of all - what is a chakra? I started writing about them with reference to the yogic literature and previous studies I've dived into on the matter, but deleted it all. It is time to create something new, to lead to new understanding.
To me, chakras represent the varying levels our consciousness goes through when creating reality. This would correspond to the literature in a way, so I WILL use it to reference so that we can cohere together. After all, no need to 're-invent the wheel' (pun intended).
Basically, before we do anything, we have to determine a certain energy pattern to apply through our being to manifest the outcome we have envisioned. Lower level chakras denote the animalistic behavior patterns we have in store for ourselves, and also relate to the ego. Higher level chakras would be the divine qualities we can embody. The bridge between the higher and lower levels is the heart - when the ego surrenders itself to the Spirit and the soul (atman) reunites with God (Brahman). Think about it - acting out of the ego's best interest is inherently going to imply selfish, animalistic behavior. These are self-serving identities and energy patterns necessary for acquisition of resources relates to survival. Animal nature stuff. When we act on that which transcends the ego, we are doing the selfless deeds are correspond to higher orders of consciousness. Service to others, compassion, creativity in pursuit of higher good, art, invention, inspiration... These things come from the heart, throat, third eye, and crown centers (perhaps even in that order..?)
We are fully human and fully divine, a Spirit encased in a material flesh body, and there are certain 'rules' that we play by in order to make this whole thing work. These 'rules' (in this post) will biological functions. If we our animal nature is not transcended, we are bound to behave according to the rules of the lower chakras. This means pursuing meaning and fulfillment in life by satisfying the needs of these energy patterns. What are these energy patterns?
Stay tuned for further discussion.... for now, for homework, think about what happens when you aren't safe in an environment. If you are in danger, are you thinking about food, or even s*x? If your life is on the line, are you thinking about making music, how you are going to improve your world, or anything else OTHER than your immediate safety? Your energy mobilizes towards transcending this chakra level, the 1st level you have as a conscious being and must pass through before ANY other reality can be experienced. Every experience in life jumps through these hoops (or WHEELS) and depending on where we get trapped, that is how we respond.
If we truly understand this, then we can traverse the planes of our awareness and have free access to all the orders of consciousness available. No one needs their 'chakras opened' or has an 'imbalance in their throat chakra'. They are all open in every being. It just takes our recognition of how they relate us to the environment and how we can CHOOSE what to PERCEIVE, allowing us to navigate whichever reality/ dimension we want to experience in the moment. It is up to you to experience what you want.
What does it all mean?
We had a solar eclipse yesterday. These are just words we are using to explain a natural phenomenon. Everything we communicate with, using language, is just point us in the direction of the thing, but is not the 'actual thing'. Language is our attempt to align us in the same direction. This is why, for countless millennia, our ancestors have used poetry and allegory to allude to the subtle mysteries of the Universe. Words themselves are only pointers. We must evoke the feeling state connection to our inner Spirit in order to reach the same states of understanding these seers and sages of old have been talking about.
The truth is hidden in plain sight. This is so, because the ironic truth is that we determine the truth. We create the meaning for all things that exist. In the Bible, this was declared in the story of the Garden of Eden when Adam named all the animals. Humans claiming dominion over nature by defining it and outlining it in our 'language'. Only this claim to dominion has left us stranded on our isolated human islands, separated from Nature as if She has cast us out due to our imperfect, sinful behaviors. We are the Ones who separate ourselves through this naming, and consequently condemn ourselves to acts of 'sin' for once we are separated from all other things, we are acting out of our own self-interest, behaving selfishly... and painfully so.
The attempt of this post is to point us back to the Self. To the One who is not separate, so that we can re-unite ourselves with the Heaven that has never been lost. Thy kingdom of heaven is within. Allowing ourselves the luxury of trusting that we know what we need to know, that we receive what we need to receive, and that all is revealed to us.... this offers the surrender into a life fulfilled by being, moment to moment, enjoying existence as an ever disruptive, chaotic sacrifice of our previous self to the infinite eternity of love that is the Self.
Self with a capital S. You. Me. Nature. The Sun being enveloped by the Moon. The words on this post. Everything all arising and subsiding from an ocean of energy. You are that.
Why meditate? Research shows that by the age 35, approximately 95% of what or who we think we are, is actually just memorized patterns of behavior that comprise our personality. These are all based on past experiences. We condition ourselves to act, according to our animal nature. Our brains and nervous systems are built this way - it is the way nature has intended it, in order to produce a human being with built in mechanisms with increasing levels of survivability. Why would it be this way? We want to conserve energy for when we need to defend our lives, so we can escape danger and pass on our genes. It logically makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Just think about it. The organism that we inhabit called the human body is comprised of 50 trillion individual cells each performing their own specific duty to uphold the coherence of a supermassive colony of cells. Similar to a computer program, they have "if, then" functions. IF a signal is received from the environment, THEN the cell must behave accordingly. It is a constant ebb and flow of change, the entire system focused on homeostasis - or keeping things orderly. Everything is vying to throw us off balance. Without being aware of the process that we go through in order for this programming to take place, we end up defining ourselves by the environment and life shapes and molds us. We end up memorizing choices to create the same behaviors ending up with the same experiences and the same emotions and life looks very familiar day to day. Meditation allows us to biologically transform our selves, our CELLS, so that we are CREATING the best version of ourselves based on the highest image we can conjure up, instead of the images of the past. We are the Creators of our experiences, as we create ourselves on a literal, biological level and this results in how we experience life.
Personal share moment. Time for some radical vulnerability and radical honesty, two terms that we have been playing with recently. More on this to come, I am sure.
It seems like less and less matters anymore, other than fully embracing the moment. I've come to recognize that the only thing I have any influence over, if influence is even the right word, is what is happening right in front of me. It has come to me that by noticing the present, there are an infinite array of creative choices to choose from, but if I lose my connection to this moment here then I slip into a repeated story. Something that has already been done. It is becoming more and more obvious that if I don't focus my attention on NOW, then 'old' things influence the moment, and I am just re-creating the past. The past is over, done with. The future, if I project my mind onto that 'timeline', is an expectation based around what happened already. But if I commit to letting go of both past and future, then I begin to create. Life is to be created.
It stirs me awake in the morning. Sometimes I am scared of it. Like, really fu***ng scared. 'Knowing' that nothing is certain. 'Knowing' that 'I' am nothing at all. 'Knowing' that I was never born. I break down and cry after my yoga practices; it has happened a lot recently. I don't even know what I am crying over, but I am just overtaken by tears and heart-wrenching sobs. I become a blubbering idiot in those moments - asking "Why? WHY?! What is the purpose of all of this?!?" Energy shakes up and down my spine and if I allow it, makes my body do alarming things sometimes. I just lay witness to it all unfolding and by the time things settle down, its like a parting in the clouds and the eternal Sun behind it all is left illuminative and radiant.
For some reason I feel like I need to do less and less. That all is being done for me. I feel like a baby, being coddled by some infinite Mother. At first I was so unused to this idea that there was really nothing for me to do, and it was really uncomfortable. It still becomes unbearably uncomfortable at times, but I've learned to sit with it. Literally. Then I come out of this cave of silence, where everything is perfect, and I spat back out into a world that demands I act. Like Krishna commanding Arjuna to pick up his bow and fight, I am divinely ordained to continue my life. Yet it doesn't seem like a struggle anymore. If anything, it has become a celebration.
It is a celebration to be here. To have duties. To be able to live and breathe and praise the Creator of all of our experiences. To know that human life is precious and that all of our experiences - joy, sorrow, misery, enthusiasm... they are all just precursors to prepare us for the ultimate experience. The experience of love. Fully surrendering to love, to know that there is no other thing that can come close than radically accepting what is right before you in this moment. That is love. Full acceptance of what is. And through this acceptance we come to re-member that 'what is', is actually perfect. It was made for us, by us, through us.... and we are simply here, a result of our own Creation, basking in the glory of our own existence.
Last night in class, we discussed some of the hard(er) questions. What is 'yoga'? and... What are we here to do?
The answers that were shared by those in attendance were thorough, thoughtful and authentic. I really enjoyed hearing what everyone had to say so much that I want to see if I can recapture the essence of our discussion and distill it into word format for those of you who would like to read it. Here it goes.
What is 'yoga'?
"Everything and nothing." Something that is so much bigger than we could define or label it as. It is beyond the confining limits of religious or spiritual practices, although it can encompass both. Yoga is the Universe looking at its Self. It is the witnessing, the observation of duality and recognizing that in duality there is no separation. For one cannot exist without the other, and there is a Source behind this mirror. When yoga happens, and the illusion of separation is removed, there is nothing left but to joyfully take part in creation in the best way we see possible. The subjectivity of what 'good' or 'bad' is are dissolved into pure beingness which is inherently perfect, and through our existence we prove this perfection.
Yoga is the anchor to the moment - the union of our fragmented, time and spatially defined self with the eternity of Now and the undefined, infinite and all-encompassing Self.
What are we here to do?
Remain true to this connection to our Self. To be at peace with our existence here and our purpose in this world, which means we "seriously, take things less seriously". We understand that it is one big "Cosmic joke - set up by myself, for myself." With this understanding, and the combined realization that you are the only One here, things suddenly become more clear. Living in a world that you despise? Change it. Heaven is here, it is to be created by you; it is not something that occurs later. Remember that time is a man-made concept so how could the eternity of Heaven be bound in a timeline, reachable only after we've 'served our time here'?
Having fun with life, facing challenges and adversity with joy and ease of heart, allows for us to continue shaping our reality into a place that is better to live for all of us. And by all of us, I just mean 'you'. But we begin to see that everyone is just here to reflect our joy, or our sorrow, and we start to choose that we only want to see our joy. Continue creating the life you wish for. Connect to your deepest, innermost desire. Remember that at our core, we all share the intention to live a better life, to be a better person, to create a beautiful world to live in. Allow space for yourself to nourish that intention with your thoughts and attention. Remind yourself of it daily, arranging time to devote to it in a practice that allows to connect to it deeply, until it can be checked in moment to moment and you are always bringing forth the absolute best in every situation possible. Bridge the gap between Heaven and Earth until there is no longer any perceived separation. There is only One person who can do it. It is you.