All posts by YogawithManja

Turning inwards for spiritual growth or toning the body for endless youth? What now is this yoga all about? 


The physical benefits of yoga are countless. It seems to work for pretty much everything from weight loss to strengthening the core muscles, protecting the spine and joints, stimulating the glands, getting more flexible, detoxifying the entire body, balancing the nervous system - to name just a few of the positive effects. No wonder it has become one the fastest growing fitness movements in the United States.

Really, a fitness method has survived for over 3000 years? So did the Olympic Games, well they exist for about 2700 years. Can it simply be that we humans tend to glorify our bodies when we drive ourselves to top performances? Even more astonishing and attractive is it that there are so many examples of older people, and survivors of illnesses and accidents who practice yoga and seem to get stronger and more glowing with every year they keep pulling their legs behind their ears. Wow, and did you see what all they do at the yoga competitions?

Is that it? Did I understand it fully? Or maybe, is there more to it, a deeper meaning that adds a whole new approach to the practice?

First, there is no competition in yoga! Every student is on his or her own path, at his own pace, at her temporary and ever-changing level of understanding, in each moment, from moment to moment. The emphasis on asana practice, and thus on the body, is a false prioritizing of only one of the eight limbs of yoga.

Why is that? What’s wrong with getting stronger and physically more attractive? Absolutely nothing, as long as it is about living healthy, keeping the body pure, and enjoying the beauty of life. But, in order to be complete, it needs a deeper, harmonizing, humbling meaning, otherwise the risk to feed solely into the ego, and turn into a narcissist is very high. No, yoga is not about self-realization - and all that comes with it: self-care, self-happiness, self-love, self-empowerment. All those are aspects of the practice, are on one end of the scale. On the other end there is Self-realization - and all that comes with it: compassion, union, non-attachment, non-judging, love, devotion, eternity.

The vedic and tantric scriptures bequeathed vast wisdom to us, and Patanjali compiled 4 volumes of yoga sutras which provided the standard guidelines to follow for every yogic apprentice over centuries. The sutras (Patanjali) teach us that everything is in constant flux, changing - what we think to have mastered today might appear like a first chapter tomorrow, what we assume we will never be able to accomplish, might just happen effortless tomorrow. The goal is to quiet the mind in order to see the real picture clearly. Like a lake would make a perfect mirror when all waves are gone and its surface becomes completely calm - in this way we shall quiet our minds. In this way, we shall not worship our bodies, but surrender body, mind, and soul to a higher, divine purpose.

But how to convey these teachings to a modern Western student?

It starts with facing prejudices against yoga: “I don’t wanna convert to Hinduism for yoga”, “What are all these weird sanskrit names about?”, “When you started doing that OM thing, that’s when you lost me”. While yoga is a spiritual practice, asking us to cultivate ethical principles and deeply longing for a higher purpose, and a connection with the Self, our divine source, it is not a religion asking us to worship a specific God or deity. While it has its roots in India, and thus historically there are connections to the Hindu concept of how our world is set up, the teachings of yoga are universal.

If every yoga student in the West would practice only the first two limbs of yoga, and incorporate the yamas and niyamas into daily life, there would be no need to defend nor explain the deeper purpose of the practice. In fact, it would restore yoga as a striving to become a better person, and not just trying to make oneself feel better.

So, for now, let’s look at what the yamas and niyamas are. They are ethical principles that every spiritual teacher since the dawn of humankind seemed to have tried to get across to us:

The five yamas are wise characteristics we seek to develop to create health and happiness for us and others, our society:

1. Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things, non-violence, having a thoughtful and kind attitude to all living beings.

2. Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness, and the discernment to know when to speak the truth and when to remain silent.

3. Asteya – Non-stealing, not taking advantage of people or things.

4. Brahmacharya – Sense control, an modest and peaceful attitude of the mind toward all sense objects.

5. Aparigraha – Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth, taking only what is necessary, only what we have earned.

The five niyamas are the personal attitude we adopt towards ourselves so that we may live more soulfully:

1. Sauca – Purity, both inside and out. It means we keep our bodies clean, we practice asana and pranayama to clean the insides of our bodies, and we practice meditation to cleanse the mind of it’s disturbing emotions like hate, greed, delusion and pride.

2. Santosa – Contentment. Simply being happy with what we do have. Being happy in child rather than unhappy we can’t do wheel.

3. Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy.

4. Svadhyaya – Self study, cultivating self-reflective consciousness so that we can truly see who we are – shadow and light.

5. Isvarapranidhana – Celebration of the Spiritual, laying all our actions at the feet of God. Surrendering to Divine Will.

“Atha Yoganushasanam”, Sutra 1.1 (Patanjali) - Now unfolds yoga.

(For more see Kara-Leah Grant,

What is Reiki?

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Reiki, originally developed and taught by Mikao Usui in Japan, is based on the concept of an universal life force, which flows in all living beings (and surrounds us as well known as the Self or the Divine or God or the one and only truth), and which we can access through prayer, attunements, alignment of our chakras, and then channel it onto others through our hands. The syllable "ki" means "life force", and it refers to nothing different but what is called "qi" or "chi" in other Asian, primarily the Chinese, traditions, the breath of God in the Christian teachings, and "prana" as known from yogic, and Ayurvedic philosophy.

Reiki is a simple and natural method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It is administered by "laying on hands". Reiki energy work is safe for pregnant women, seniors, children, and even babies. From thousands of individual experiences it is known to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and harmonize imbalances. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit. It is believed that a person’s “ki” or energy should be strong and free flowing. When this is true a person’s body and mind is in a positive state of health. When the energy becomes depleted or blocked it comes to symptoms of physical dis-ease or emotional imbalance. The Reiki practitioner can channel universal life energy into the patient, or more precisely be the channel through which the patient draws energy in, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient's body and restore harmony. For this reason Reiki works well combined with other medical or therapeutic methods to relieve side effects or promote recovery. Reiki works because it connects the universal life force energy with the body’s innate powers of healing.

While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, and there is nothing you must believe in order to learn or use Reiki. In fact, Reiki is not dependent to belief at all and will work whether you believe it or not. The energy will always go where it is needed the most.

Benefits of Reikihealing_process


Reiki Principles

Mikao Usui taught that every practitioner follow certain ethical principles:


Wonderful, Simple, Effective – Applications of Healing Earth

Healing earth, sometimes better known as mineral clay, offers an astonishing variety of medicinal and cosmetic uses that can bring your body back into balance. It can literally help you to stay grounded! Clay may be used externally and orally. Eating clay can do wonders for your health! luvos

For external use, the clay may be applied to the whole body as in warm spa mud wraps, or prepared in poultices for application to specific parts of the body. The heat opens up the pores of the skin, and helps the interaction of the clay with the body. Internally it is used to detox the intestines, the colon, and thus the entire body. Clay cures inflammation, drives bacterial and fungal infections out, and supplies up to 75 important trace elements (depending on the type of clay).

BEAUTY  - your spa at home 
Clay is fantastic for facial masks, which are easy to prepare, and popular because of their exfoliating, purifying properties. Clay masks withdraw excess oil and pollutants from our faces, and they help heal rashes and acne. However, the different kinds of clay offer diverse properties.

French green clay: Combination of volcanic matter, decomposed plant substances and minerals. Very cleansing. Recommended for oily skin or a normal/oily skin combination. 

bentonite-clay-maskMoroccan red clay, Rhassoul: With a long tradition in Hammam baths, this clay contains iron and is used to heal acne. luvosMask

Bentonite: This clay is found in the Western United States with Luvos loess being a traditional, therapeutically used clay from Germany. Safe for use on all skin types. 

Fuller’s earth: This is a very fine grayish colored powder derived from algae, chock full of minerals and very absorbing.

In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the clay with about 3 tablespoons of liquid. Depending on your skin type use spring water or rose water for normal skin, or witch hazel and orange blossom water if your skin is oily. For dry and sensitive skin it is recommended to substitute water with sesame, olive, or almond oil. If you are suffering from acne, add 1 tablespoon apple cider to the mix. The consistency should be thick and cream-like, not runny. If you added too much of the liquid just stir in a little bit more clay. Apply the mask to your cleaned face and neck with your fingers or a make-up sponge. Avoid the eye area. Leave on for 15 to 30 minutes. Once the mask is dry, rinse off with lukewarm water and apply moisturizer. Your skin will glow with vibrant good health. 

HEALING - medicinal uses of healing earthsgreenclay

Healing clay provides an affordable and natural yet effective remedy against diarrhea, heartburn, and acid-related stomach pain due to its ability to bind excess bile acids, and cholesterol. Simply stir 1 teaspoon of either bentonite or green clay into 8 oz. of water, and drink on an empty stomach in the morning. Wait for 30 minutes before eating anything. Do this as a cure fore 21 days in a row. Repeat 3 to 4 times per year. Or use as needed for treatment of acute ailments.
Bentonite, montmorillonite, and illite have been proven to be antifungal including toxic and carcinogenic infections such as Aflatoxicosis, and effective against yeast infections including Candida albicans. Eating or drinking healing earth can be used to cleanse the body from heavy metals including lead, cadmium, and mercury
. Another property of immense benefit is the antibacterial effect of bentonite and green clays. In several scientific studies conducted in France and Arizona, the clays have been found to be highly effective against E.coli, pseudomonas, salmonella, and even the dreaded "superbug" MRSA and the flesh-eating African bacteria buruli to name just a few. One side-effect to be considered before using clay internally is the inhibition of the body's absorption of antibiotics, substitute hormones and heart medication by coating the digestive tract.  How is it possible that certain types of clay are so versatile and beneficial for human health? Loess, bentonite, and green clay naturally form a negative charge when mixed with water. This negative charge creates a pulling effect called adsorption, drawing positively charged ions out of our cells - and it so happens that bacteria, heavy metals, and pesticides all have a positive ionic charge. Negatively charged ions stay untouched. One more amazing capability of clay that depends on its acting like a plus pole is the adsorption of radiation. A study performed by Duke University found that specific parts of the human DNA and RNA exposed to damaging gamma radiation recovered faster in persons that had eaten clay.

Do you use healing earth to support your healthy living? Share your experiences! And check out the 21-Day Challenge posted on this blog 😉 Stay well!

New class: Chakra Yoga


Have you ever been curious if there'd be more to "it"? Join me for my new class, Mondays at noon at Synergy Pilates and Yoga, to diver deeper into your body's subtle energy system.

The seven chakras, or energy centers, concentrate and distribute refined life-force energy throughout the body. Knowledge and experiencing of this subtle energy system empowers us to maintain balance and harmony on the physical, mental and spiritual level.

Each chakra is associated with a certain part of the body and a certain organ which it provides with the energy it needs to function. Additionally, just as every organ in the human body has its equivalent on the mental and spiritual level, so too every chakra corresponds to a specific aspect of human behavior and emotional harmony. If you are like most of us your energetic ecosystem could use some help. Yoga postures are a great way to release energy blockades.

In this class you will be guided through practices that open and activate each chakra through postures, bioenergetic exercises, breathing practices, guided meditation, and visualization to cleanse, balance, and open your chakras. Modifications and variations are offered to suit diverse bodies and abilities.



Giving thanks, feeling grateful - what does that mean and why is it important for your yoga practice? Embracing gratitude can be one of the many starting points for a spiritual practice. Counting your blessings is an act of being present. Be thankful right here and now. Instead of chasing your future, and focussing on still to be accomplished goals, use expressing thanks to bring your awareness to the present moment.  Sometimes it is necessary to consciously acknowledge that there are things in our lives that we can be thankful for. By givings thanks you fully receive your blessings. By taking things for granted and not appreciating them, you don't fully receive them. They kinda hover somewhere in unconscious areas of your mind. This way it can happen that you have everything that you need to be happy right in front of you without even noticing it. By staying in an unconscious mode you miss out. It is not just about being polite and say "thank you" to another person that did you a favor or brought you a present. It is about fully acknowledging and thus appreciating how rich our lives are. This way we allow joy and love and happiness to fill us. So, by starting with being thankful, you instantly gain joy, and the feeling of being loved, and the ability to love back, and the encouragement that life is good. This way, by humbly embracing all positive experiences, people, and things in the present moment, you connect mind and heart, and gain access to the abundance of life. Pass it on!


Balance Strength Stillness

YogaWarrior2a copy

"Calming the mind is yoga, not just standing on the head." - Swami Satchidananda

Yoga teaches us to be aware of the present moment. Just by that, when we become fully present, all our emotional, physical, and mental obstacles appear as what they are - finite issues compared to the infinite beauty of the Self.

Physical wellbeing has a positive effect on our emotions. The right mindset can help us to overcome physical limitation. When we are feeling physically strong and healthy, our mental health improves as well, allowing us to better cope with challenges that life throws at us, and thus living more joyfully.

In a similar way the eight limbs of yoga build upon each other. They include applied ethics, breathing techniques, asana, meditation, and selfless service. Even if you practice just one of them, you are already on the path towards liberation. Practiced together they create balanced emotions, a strong body, and a calm mind - and help us to fulfill our lives purpose.