Before I dive into all things Arunachala, I want to give a special thank you to Wendy for organizing the Fraser Valley Yoga Teacher blog tour and to Amanda for sending me these great pictures!
Back in 2014 I was blessed with the privilege of visiting Tiruvannamalai (a.k.a Tiru), India. It was in Tiru that my teacher to me the story of Arunachala that I thought I would share with all of you today. Before, we jump into the story, let me share a little bit about Tiru.
Tiru is located in South India just over 190 km south of Chennai. Tiru sits at the base of a great mountain called Arunachala. Every full moon, people pilgrimage from all over Southern India to walk around the base of the mountain. Certain times of the year i.e. Winter Solstice, Pongal will draw huge crowds.
I was lucky enough to be there during Pongal and was able to walk around the base of the mountain. Due to language barriers, we were told it would likely take us 1.5-2 hours but in reality it took us about twice that. When walking around the mountain, most walk in bare feet while chanting "Aum Namah Shivaya". Sprinkled along the route are small little temples where people can leave offerings and receive blessings.
Ramana Maharshi called Arunachala the "spiritual heart of the world."
As the story was told to me, Vishnu and Brahma were fighting over which one of them was greater. Their fighting was causing a lot of chaos on earth so a Deva asked Shiva to intercede and resolve the fight. Shiva then appeared as a column of light to Vishnu and Brahma and decreed that whomever could find the upper or lower end of the light was the greatest. Vishnu then took the form of a boar and dug down in the earth trying to find the lights lower end. Brahma took the form of a swan where he took flight to find the top of the light. Vishnu failing to find the end of the light, started to turn his gaze inward and became lost in meditation, became unaware of his physical body and the concept of self. Brahma wanting to win by any means, saw a flower floating through the air. He returned with it and told a lie saying that he got it from the top of the light column.
Vishnu returned to Shiva admitting that he was unable to find the lower end while Brahma was exposed for his deceit and was punished. Since the column of light was too bright to behold, Shiva manifested himself as Arunachala. Shiva saying "As the moon derives its light from the sun, so other holy places shall derive their sanctity from Arunachala. This is the only place where I have taken this form for the benefit of those who wish to worship me and obtain illumination. Arunachala is OM itself. I will appear on the summit of this hill every year at Karthigai in the form of a peace-giving beacon."
Arunachala represents the path of self enquiry.
Me in Pondicherry, India.
For more yoga teacher blogs, check out Kim's blog from yesterday
and Shelby's tomorrow!
We all know the benefits yoga props bring to a yoga practice but let’s face it, yoga props can be really expensive! Blocks, yoga straps, bolsters... add this all up and it can cost you a small fortune. Here are a few tips on how to make DIY Yoga Props using everyday items, while keeping that hard earned money in your pocket.
Blocks are used mainly to help with stability or to bring the ground closer to you. In place of a block, tryout these everyday items:
-Inverted paper waste basket
-Inverted blue recycling bin
-Plastic jars (I like to use peanut butter jars)
You will often find bolsters used in a restorative yoga practice. They help create shapes, aid in relaxation and comfortability.
Bolsters come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. What shape/size works for one person, another may not find that it is not to their liking. Try these DIY Bolster items to create your perfect bolster:
- Take 1-2 pillows and place it on a towel or blanket. Proceed to wrap the pillows in the blanket so it forms a cylindrical
shape. If you find that your bolster keeps unrolling, secure it by using elastic bands, scarves or neck ties around the
outside of the bolster at either end.
- Use cushions you have around the house. Depending on size, couch cushions maybe a great option
- Take 2-3 towels or blankets and stack them one on top of the other. Proceed to rollup the blankets so that they make a
cylinder. If your bolster keeps unrolling, secure it by using elastic bands, scarves or neck ties around the bolster on either
- Sleeping bags are another great option. Some sleeping bags come in a stuff sack, you can either use that as is, or roll your
sleeping bag into a cylindrical shape.
A yoga strap is often used as an extension of our arm to aid us in postures where we cannot achieve the posture due to tension or injury. In place of a strap try these out:
One of my favourites! Eye pillows help with relaxation by placing slight pressure on your eyes. Try these alternatives out:
-Take a damp face cloth with 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil on it. Make sure you wring it out well. Fold cloth and gently
place over the eyes.
-Take a small ziplock bag, place in a handful of rice, quinoa or flax seeds. Gently place the bag over the eyes
**I love having a nice cool eye pillow. Try popping yours in the freezer for a few minutes.
Sandbags are often used to enable muscle relaxation and to ground your energy. They also can be useful in increasing strength and endurance. Try this alternative out:
-Take a large ziplock bag fill it with rice or dried beans. The Sandbags we use in Yoga vary in weight anywhere from 7-10 lbs.
Today is laundry day, ugh. I am not sure exactly what it is about laundry that makes me dislike it so much, maybe it is the folding and putting it away part. I am what you would call a laundry procrastinator, I wait until I can no longer ignore the mountain sized laundry pile or we run out of clean undies; whatever comes first.
In honor of it being laundry day and the fact that I had to make up a batch of laundry detergent, I thought I would share my DIY Laundry Soap Recipe. This recipe is adapted from one found on Soap Queen. Check out their website for some really great DIY recipes www.soapqueen.com
DIY Laundry Soap
1 Cup Borax
1/2 Soda Ash
1 Cup Shredded Soap ( I grate up lye heavy coconut oil soap bars that I make)
20-30 drops of essential oils, add more for a stronger scent
Yoga Mat Spray
*Please check with the manufacturer of your mat as some mats cannot be cleaned with tee tree oil .